Many people seem a bit confused about our web applications. They often assume that we host the web application. We are not providing application hosting just yet though. We are working very hard at consolidating all our core software and rewriting this software into a form more suited for the software as a service (SaaS) model. For those preferring unhosted software, we plan to continue offering this type of solution as well.
What Is Hosted Software?
Hosted software is software that you access remotely from another company’s server. Usually hosted software are web applications that are accessed from a web browser. Just because software can be run from a browser doesn’t mean it is hosted on the vendor’s site. You can also install web software on your own site or network.
Our Software is Currently Unhosted
Currently all our software, including all web applications, is unhosted. This means you have to install the software on your machines or hire another company to host it for you.
Benefits of Unhosted Software
Unhosted software has many advantages that people sometimes overlook. First and foremost, when having software running from your own computers you have complete control over the software and the data. If something goes wrong your own staff can often resolve the problem yourselves. If the vendor has a power outage, a system failure or simply goes out of business you are left stranded. If you host your own software and the power goes out you would not be able to work on the software anyway.
Another consideration is cost. With unhosted software there is a large upfront cost but there are no monthly fees. Provided that you don’t require any new features or vendor support, you can use that software for many many years without additional costs.
How Does Unhosted Software Work?
With unhosted software you must install the web software on one of the machines on your network. To keep things simple, we’ll refer to this machine as the “server”. If you want people to be able to access the software from outside your network, the “server” machine must have a static Internet IP address. A static IP address is an IP address that doesn’t change. All machines on a network will have a network IP address but network IP addresses cannot be accessed from outside your network.
Running the Web Software
Once the web software is installed and running, people can use the software by entering a special link in a web browser. An example link is http://127.0.0.1:8888/. This link consists of the IP address of the “server” machine followed by the port it uses. In this case we’re using 127.0.0.1 as the IP address and 8888 is the default port. Note that 127.0.0.1 is a special IP address that refers to the machine you are on right now. Obviously this IP would not then work when attempting to access the web software from another machine. To access the software over the network, you should use the network IP address of the “server” machine. To access the software from outside your network you must use the Internet IP address of the “server” machine.
If your server machine has a dynamic (changing) IP address instead of a static IP address, you can either use the computer name e.g. http://MyServer:8888 or use a dynamic DNS service like DynDNS. To find your server computer’s name click the Start button, left click on Computer and scroll down to near the bottom.
In closing, as you can see running your own web software is probably not as onerous as you might think. Still, many companies would prefer not to deal with the level of complexity involved and wait for a fully hosted solution. As indicated, we are working on providing hosted solutions and will soon be able to provide this service to interested customers. Though we will be moving into providing hosted solutions, we will also continue to provide unhosted solutions as well.