Small and Medium Enterprises of today are generally equipped with a growing number of software of all types. If many of these solutions can be quickly installed by the users on their workstations, it is quite different for server based software. Among those programs we include management software and particularly time management software, time and billing software and project management software.
Therefore, the question about the location of software arises. Will it be installed on the client server or is it better to consider a hosted mode?
The reasons for the final choice are multiple and depend on various factors, including:
- Is my IT structure compatible with the technical requirements? Memory and technical characteristics are elements that need to be validated before the installation.
- What is the condition of my IT infrastructure? Is my server recent enough to consider using my new software for the years to come? Should I consider short-term investment on new servers?
- Often SME’s do not have an IT department within their organization. Therefore, each intervention on the computer equipment has to be conducted by an external company. Rates are very often quite high. Moreover, the customer will depend on the availability of the service provider.
- Numerous SME’s do not have any server. The implementation of such equipment can be expensive.
- More and more often, SME’s and even larger companies, focus on gainful activities directly related to their field of expertise, and prefer to delegate administrative and maintenance tasks to specialized companies (software hosting, outsourcing, document management, etc. )
In terms of hosting software there are two types of solutions:
The SAAS solution : SAAS, means software as a service. Software is hosted on a server based outside of the company. The term SAAS includes a range of several management solutions (CRM, ERP, Time Management, Project Management, etc.). The service is offered as a subscription in rental mode. The application is accessible through an Internet connection.
The ASP solution: ASP means application service provider. In other terms, the provider (most of time the software editor) proposes a hosted mode for software that are initially designed on a client / server architecture. The proposed applications are not developed in the Web. The principle of data access and pricing of the hosting package are similar we find in SAAS solutions. However, in a world where mobility and flexibility are systematically associated with Internet, proposing a ASP solution may seem outdated and obsolete.
What about Abak hosting solution?
Abak offers its customers a range of applications including client/server software called Abak Classic, an Abak Web application and an Abak Mobile application for smartphone users. This package includes a huge number of functionalities. Keywords are flexibility and ease of use.
Abak installed in hosted mode presents itself as a hybrid halfway between SAAS and ASP. The main advantage of this configuration is to enable the user to choose his software mode with no impact to the logged data, Abak Web and Abak Classic sharing the same database.
Who is the provider of data hosting service?
There are three types of providers:
- The software editor.
- An internet service provider with whom the software publisher has an agreement.
- A service provider designated by the customer.
In our case, Abak has an agreement with Oricom, http://www.oricom.ca/ , an important provider of Internet services for the Quebec region.
What are the benefits of a hosted mode?
- There is no need to involve a technician or an IT service provider for the maintenance of computer equipment to the requirements of the software product (prerequisite, technical compliance). This results in substantial savings.
- If the client does business with external technicians, he no longer needs to setup appointments for an operation to be performed on his computers.
- The business data is of primary importance. The risk of losing it due to viruses, mishandling, fire or any other reason is not an option. Hosted mode data is completely safe.
- The provider of hosting services is a professional who follows and stays aware of the latest technical developments in his field of expertise.
- Software always runs on the latest version.
- The client no longer has to worry about backups
- In case of an internal computer crash, the client data is preserved.
- Finally, data is easily accessible, wherever the user might be (using Abak Web for example).
How to choose a provider of hosting services?
Before going towards a hosted mode, it is recommended to answer the following questions:
- Is the service provider the software editor himself?
- Should it be the case, what is his experience in this field?
- What is the percentage of customers in hosted mode?
- What happens to data in the event of bankruptcy of the publisher or the internet provider for example?
- Are the source codes available via an escrow agreement?
- Is the data encrypted?
- If the software publisher is not the provider of data hosting service, it is important to know who the end supplier is.
- What is his experience? What about his reputation?
- Where is he located? A customer in North America, whose data would be hosted in a remote foreign country for example, could be confronted by all kinds of problematic situations (technical, contractual, financial, language, time zones etc.)
- How secure are the premises?
- How often are backups performed?
- What are the hosting costs?
- Where are kept the backups? It is important not to store backups in the same location as in the server room.
- What are the procedures to recover a copy of the most recent backup in case of crash.
- Who is the first line of contact support; software vendor, or provider of hosting services?
Ideally the user should not have to deal directly with the provider of hosting services. The software editor should first set all the details for his customers and inform them on how the hosted mode works. This is the procedure followed by Abak when we host our time management, billing and project cost management software. Feel free to contact us for further information. More than 35% of our actual customers have chosen the hosted mode.