A Field Guide To Hosted Applications

Hosted applications are gaining in popularity for two reasons: It’s cost effective (pay monthly, as a service, no huge upfront costs) and it’s easy to install (every user with web access can immediately leverage the hosted app).
The drawback to hosted applications is that if one can’t get access to the Internet, one cannot access the hosted application. Taking things a step further, if you are using a hosted application for a mission critical aspect of your business and something goes wrong with your Internet connection – the results are not going to be too good.
Infoworld Writes For whatever such estimates are worth, IDC recently forecasted that worldwide spending on SaaS will reach $10.7 billion by 2009. But there’s so much SaaS running around already that we couldn’t help but wonder: Could you run a business entirely on hosted offerings?
That somewhat playful question was the genesis of this buyer’s guide to SaaS — although we already knew the answer. Healthy enterprises need to develop their own unique applications, and any modern IT infrastructure needs to be fully integrated in a manner that can’t be achieved with SaaS solutions today.
But an urgent need to stop piling cost and complexity on IT is sowing the seeds of change. Although enterprises may not be replacing effective, large-scale systems with SaaS alternatives, the SaaS option suddenly becomes perfectly viable when it comes to adding new functionality. And, as Salesforce.com discovered, SaaS can be particularly successful at replacing in-house or off-the-shelf software that has failed miserably.
In our survey of hosted software offerings, we’ve divided the SaaS universe into four parts: back-office applications (ERP, purchasing, HR, and so on), messaging, integration, and CRM.