Application hosting is a type of web hosting service that provides specific software to clients over a network or the Internet. It is distinct from general web hosting in that it usually provides complete management and infrastructure for one application with a particular use, as opposed to only providing a web server or server space. Application hosting uses include software as a service, content management systems, and payment processing.
Individuals and businesses may choose to use software hosting, as it can provide the benefits of a short setup time-frame for new software and also reduce overall costs. For example, if a company wants to use a specific piece of human resource software, it would need to purchase a business license for the software in addition to the server space to run the application and training for individuals on how to update, install, and manage the software. With managed hosting, the hosting provider offers the software on its own servers and usually manages all installation, updating, and maintenance of the software and server.
Application hosting is often paid for on a per-use basis, such as per month of access to the software. This can further cut costs for the use of expensive software to a business, as it can insure it is only paying for the use it actually needs. Application hosting is usually accessed by a business or individual who has paid for the service through a web interface provided by the hosting company, much like logging into a website. The applications and software provided by an application hosting company are owned by the hosting provider, not the company that is paying to use the software as a service.
One common use for this type of hosting is software for advertising services, where the provider manages the server and software that display and track web based advertisements. Other uses are payroll applications and human resource management software. Training program modules are often offered as hosted applications, where employees can log in to watch videos and take assessments. E-commerce software and payment processing is another service commonly offered. Content management systems, such as blog hosting and media hosting for images and videos, are also uses for application hosting.
Application hosting does have disadvantages and is not always the preferred solution for every business hosting purpose. Programs used as software as a service are generally not customizable and cannot be easily integrated with other applications. Data and information used with the application is out of a company's direct control, and therefore may be more easily compromised.