Not so long ago, buying software meant receiving a CD that needed to be installed. Installation was always the tricky part. Some products could be installed in minutes, while others required a dedicated IT staff that could configure the product correctly.
In recent years, many of these products have designed a more user-friendly approach; offering software-as-a service, where users simply purchase a subscription to the software on a monthly basis. Other software vendors, following that trend began to create online or hosted versions of that software. Unfortunately, many times the online versions of the software were not created equal to the traditional desktop model.
Enter application hosting. A terrific idea for businesses for a lot of reasons, application hosting allowed users to have online access to desktop versions of their software from any location – a win-win in the business world, where more and more employees are working from remote locations, whether that be in their home office, at the neighborhood coffee shop, or from a hotel room.
That great idea was then taken a step further with the creation of virtual private servers. This provided business owners with the opportunity to create a custom server much as they would in-house, but have that server, and all of the applications they needed, installed and managed on that server by a hosting provider. Users would have access to that server and applications online, allowing users to not only access popular applications such as QuickBooks, but Microsoft Office, Sage products, and in many cases, any software application needed.
The benefits of a hosted software solution are many, including system reliability. This is of particular importance to smaller firms without an IT staff. No more worries about maintaining a server 24/7. Someone else is now on the line to provide that service.
Hardware expense is reduced tremendously. Instead of building a mammoth IT department, resources can now be deployed to areas where they are needed most. Same goes for maintenance issues, such as product upgrades and patches. All of this is handled by the hosting company.
Hosted applications also offer more flexibility for accounting professionals. Ramping up office staff can frequently require additional hardware and other IT tools. By having software and other applications hosted, firms will simply need to add an additional user to their subscription. Everything else remains the same.
Help options are also frequently more abundant from hosting providers, with most offering extended or 24/7 support year round.
In this issue of the magazine, we looked at five popular hosting products, with their services ranging from standard QuickBooks hosting, to custom server creation with the opportunity to add an unlimited number of applications to your menu. Those products include:
So whether your accounting firm is in the market to have a single application hosted or are looking for custom options with multiple applications, these products are a great place to start looking.
See inside November 2015
Client Portals Increase Efficiency, Provide Greater Convenience
While portals have been around for a while, their features have evolved over time. No longer just a place to exchange documents, portals offers a variety of related tools including the ability to be notified when a client accesses a document in the portal