Something you may have heard lately is the phrase “hosted software.” What exactly does this mean? How is it different than regular software? This article will try to explain hosted software and some of its benefits over traditional off the shelf software.
Traditional Software Production
We should start by explaining how regular off the shelf software gets to your computer. First programmers write code. This gets turned into a CD, which you could use to install the software. This CD is then replicated and packaged at a large manufacturing plant. The finished software packages are shipped to various stores through a distribution network. Once at the store, you can go buy the software and take it home or to work. The software then needs to be installed on your computer. Finally with the software installed you can begin to use it. Typically you don’t think about the steps that happen before the software gets to the store, however each of these steps is quite costly. Those costs must be paid for, by you, when buying off the shelf software.
Most things you purchase are physical, and must use a similar process. A new shirt must go from the cotton plant, to the factory, to the store, and all the many steps in between. On the other hand, with software things change quite a bit. No longer are we limited by physical constraints. Thanks to the Internet digital information, such as email and software, can flow freely.
Hosted Software Production
Hosted Software starts the same way, with programmers writing code. Instead of creating a Software CD for production, the software is installed directly onto a server. A server is a computer that is given a specific task such as running a website, or in this case running software for you. Just as you would use a website, you can now use the software that is running on the server. So hosted software is simply software running on a special server that you use from your computer.
Software On Your Computer
Software you buy from the store has both the User Interface and the Data & Logic running on your computer. This works well until your computer has problems and all your valuable data is lost. Hosted software works a little bit differently.
Using your web browser (Internet Explorer for example) the User Interface still runs from your computer. The difference is that instead of the User Interface talking to the Data & Logic on your computer, it talks to it on the website of the hosted software. This information is sent back and forth through the Internet, and is often encrypted to prevent unwanted people from looking at your data.
So that is hosted software in a nutshell. The key difference is that you use it from your web browser. For the most part it works just like software running on your computer. Over time as more companies realize the many benefits of hosted software you will see more and more being created. And now you know exactly what it is.