Modern businesses simply cannot do without the applications that keep processes humming along. These programs can encompass a whole host of operations – from inventory and supply chains to client relationship management – but each app needs the proper support.
When decision-makers examine their options for hosting applications, whether in-house or outsourced to a service provider, several considerations should guide their choice. Because applications play such a critical role in today's business processes, factoring in these key aspects is absolutely critical.
1. Current and future storage needs
With application hosting, one of the first factors is how much storage the company will need for its programs both now and in the future. TechTarget contributor Kackie Cohen noted that administrators should ask themselves a few key questions to get an accurate outlook on storage requirements:
- How much storage space is needed immediately?
- How much will be required in the next three to five years?
- Will data be archived over time and housed outside of the main storage area? If so, how much data will be stored and when?
Answering these queries can help companies ensure that they have enough space in place, and are not paying for unneeded or unnecessary resources.
2. The level of control
This is an especially important issue, particularly with outsourced application hosting. When a vendor provides this service, they are also responsible for the maintenance and upkeep of the system and the content living there. Mike Maguire, ConvergEx Group managing director of global communications, noted that it is essential that decision-makers understand just what level of control they will have within an outsourced application hosting environment.
"[Y]ou may not have control over maintenance schedules and the like," Maguire wrote. "Make sure you choose a provider who can be flexible given your business requirements."
3. Disaster recovery and business continuity requirements
Businesses should also look into the business continuity plan for disasters or events that might interrupt services. Administrators should have a scheduled backup plan in place with their service provider to ensure that, in these kinds of instances, they will have access to the most up-to-date content possible. Cohen also recommended asking what the process is if the vendor's data center is totally unusable or inaccessible and what the continuity plan would be in such a case.
"Define what is expected to be backed up, how often and when," Cohen advised. "Include files, databases and BCVs. Don't forget to determine how many snaps a day are required for each BCV, and when snaps stored to disk are to be moved to tape."
4. Security needs and protocols
It is also important to note that certain applications, depending on the information they house or are able to access, will have different security requirements. Programs containing lists of client information, for example, should be properly safeguarded to prevent any unauthorized access or data leakage. For this reason, administrators should also consider the security protocols in place within the hosting environment. This is particularly critical with an outsourced provider as decision-makers must make sure that the vendor has protection measures that fit the business's requirements.
5. A complete picture of availability
A hosted application is only useful as long as it is available. Due to this fact, company leaders must also factor in the availability of the environment and any chances of downtime that might be incurred. Cohen recommended looking into every aspect connected with uptime to ensure a complete picture of service availability.
"Key performance indicators are great, but only if they show what is important to you," Cohen noted. "Be sure you define all areas of availability that are important to your organization, including not only the overall level of availability but the core hours during which availability is required."
6. Help desk support
In the event that service is down or users run into another issue with their hosted applications, the company should be sure that they have support resources that they can turn to. The business should identify who is able to call the help desk and who they should notify to report a problem.
With these issues addressed for each potential solution, businesses should be able to make well-informed decisions on housing their applications.