By Joanie C. Mann
The term Cloud Computing most frequently is used as another way to refer to outsourced information technology management, in which the servers, applications, and data are located and managed at a location other than your own – usually by a commercial service provider. SaaS, or software as a service, is another name used for this type of computing approach. Cloud solutions are accessed via the Internet, rather than being installed on your own computer.
Application hosting is essentially the same thing as Cloud Computing, where the servers/applications/data are provided and managed by a third party (outsourcer). Application hosting is different from Cloud Computing or SaaS primarily in that you may purchase your software licensing rather than get it as part of the service. This also means that you could end your online hosting arrangement and install the software on your own computers (“take your ball and go home”). This capability does not exist with most pure cloud or SaaS solutions. For example, you could not install Google e-mail on your own servers and run it in your own network. It only exists on Google’s servers.
The most evident benefit of Cloud Computing is anytime, anywhere access to applications, data, and valuable business information, which enables users to access resources and be productive even when away from the office. Cloud Computing provides solutions for mobile workers, or users in remote offices, too, and enables home sourcing (using at-home workers) or the use of outsource companies or third-party contractors. Cloud Computing also solves issues involving multiple business locations.
Cloud Computing, SaaS, and application hosting can reduce or eliminate the complexity of information technology, and can reduce the cost of implementing and maintaining IT in a business. Purchasing and installing servers and networks is no longer a requirement. Maintaining, upgrading, and repairing all the hardware and systems is the job of the service provider. Installing and updating application software is done by the service provider, and managing and protecting the data is part of the solution.
InsynQ Inc.’s application-hosting service is similar to Cloud Computing in that it offers many of the benefits of SaaS, but without the service or vendor lock-in. The application-hosting services enable the business to maintain the option to select additional (or alternative) applications or solutions for hosting – even extending or integrating hosted applications with other solutions that may be SaaS or cloud-based.
One of the biggest benefits of application hosting is that it enables a business to retain the option to return to localized technology – installing products on the local PC or network and ending the hosting service arrangement. In short, application hosting services can help a business move to a Cloud Computing strategy without having to retrain users, convert data, or reduce future software and systems options.
Outsourced IT services and managed application hosting can reduce IT costs (or, at minimum, create predictability in IT costs) while at the same time delivering improvements in security, productivity, and performance. Application-hosting services enable a business to implement new and complex solutions without the high upfront investment in hardware and networking infrastructure. And most application hosting services include all system administration and management, so ongoing costs of managing and maintaining the systems is part of the monthly service fee.
- Break/fix is no longer a surprise IT cost, because the service provider takes care of it.
- Productivity losses are reduced because of the high availability of systems and reduced down-time. Protection of data reduces potential for loss, avoiding the need to re-key or recreate.
- Services can be scaled to deliver as much or as little as the business requires.
- End-user technical support is typically included with the service for no additional cost.
- Moving to Cloud Computing by way of a hosting service allows you to improve your IT without retraining users or converting data because you can continue to use the software solutions you are already using. And quality application-hosting providers give you high levels of disaster recovery and can help with business continuity in the event of a disaster.
With InsynQ’s hosted application services, the business is no longer dependent upon a single physical location because services can be accessed from almost anywhere. Services are also no longer tied to a specific computer or device, and can be accessed from just about any Internet-connected computer.
InsynQ services are delivered with high levels of redundancy in the data center to help keep systems running, and tiered backups and strict data management helps protect against data loss.
How might your business benefit?
About the author:
Joanie Mann, Executive Vice President of InsynQ, Inc., has over 30 years experience in advanced network integration, information systems management, and business process automation. For the past 13 years the specific focus has been on Internet technologies, the delivery of software as a service, and the development of online services and solutions for small business - with a specific focus on Internet-enabling finance and accounting.