The question that remains is whether hosted apps are more viable options than on-premise installed scripts. Unfortunately no definite answer to this question exists. It really boils down your needs. Hosted apps offer a low maintenance cost and a quick time-to-market, but since everything is stored in a vendor-locked environment, customization is restricted and concerns exist about data security and portability. Scripts that you install on your server do provide more customization options, but on the flip side, can incur some maintenance and support costs.
As you can imagine, both hosted and on-premise installations have their pros and cons. Hosted apps are useful for time-limited functionality such as a yearly survey or a once-in-a-while email campaign, since it’s cheaper and easier to sign up for a service than maintaining an application for a task you rarely need.
Hosted apps are also great when combined with on-premise applications to create hybrid approaches, giving you the best of both worlds. It is now commonplace to find web applications tightly integrated with a hosted service. For example, you may install a shopping cart to power your online store, but supplement it with a hosted payment processor to handle payment and transactions. Similarly, you can add hosted commenting features to a custom-built CMS without having to expend a lot of coding effort.
Our featured article this month takes a look at some promising hosted applications that you can use to enhance your site. Remember to also check our dedicated Hosted Apps section featuring over a thousand hosted app solutions.
SmartAddon provides powerful “Tell a Friend’ buttons that allow your visitors to share your web site with a single click. It can also retrieve friends and contact details from your visitors’ address book. Finally it also supports sharing to popular social networks.
RumbleTalk is a hosted chat service that enables websites owners to add a chat to their online experience. With RumbleTalk you have the flexibility to create a unique chat designed for a website or a blog. It support features like custom-designed chat skin, social networking sign-on, account management, chat history, etc.
AdSpeed is an independent ad server and ad manager service. You enter ads from your advertisers with targeting criteria into our system. It then serves ads, tracks and reports real-time statistics about ad impressions, clicks, revenue, and conversions. You manage your ad inventory through their user-friendly interface.
Chargify provides recurring billing management services through either a branded payment page or via API integration. Chargify integrates seamlessly into your existing applications and works with multiple payment gateway provides. On predefined billing cycles, it will bill your customers and even contact them if there are issues with their transactions.
Searchify is a power hosted search service that allows you to easily ad custom full-text search to your site. It abstracts the complexity through its simple to use API calls. You can customize your scoring and sorting functions and even use snippets and highlights to return professional-looking search results.
UserVoice is a hosted feedback and help desk management service. Through its widgets, you can integrate these two great customer support applications by just pasting the embed code. Your visitors and clients will be able to submit feedback and support issues without ever leaving your site or signing into another system.
BetaEasy offers two integrated applications as part of their hosted service – a beta invite management tool and a feedback application aimed at helping you analyze and simplify your website testing. With its feedback widget, you can gather ideas, feedback and bug report from your site visitors.
LiveFyre is a hosted comment solution that you can integrate in your web site to provide commenting features to your content (posts, photos, videos, etc). It has tight social integration with the ability to pull relevant discussions from Twitter and Facebook making it a real-time conversation utility.
DonorTools is a hosted donor management service that allows you to accept donation online through PayPal. You get to manage your donors including their donations, emails, letters, interests and contact information all in one place. Through its API, you can easily integrate DonorTools functionality into your existing application.
DaCast is a feature rich and fully enabled live and on demand video streaming service. It comes as an easy-to-use, self-service environment where one can quickly sign up and begin streaming in minutes. It allows one to monetize video or audio, to be seamlessly integrated into an existing service.
AlertGrid allows you to receive notification of customized events occurring in your application. You can create conditional rules to filter event and be notified via email or SMS whenever an event is triggered. This is a great service to integrate in your application to monitor unexpected behaviors or errors.
CallMe! is a hosted click-to-call solution that allows you to offer your site visitor a free call back option. Available as a widget for use on your web site, visitors simply need to enter their phone number to be connected to your sales or support team within minutes.
W3Counter is your free, hosted, easy-to-use website analytics solution for answering the key questions about your website: who’s your audience, how they find your site, and what interests them. You can also add widgets to your site to easily share your web stats and you can even make some of your reports publicly viewable.
123ContactForm is a hosted form processor that allows you to create forms like contact forms, poll and questionnaires. Each time a form entry is received, you will be notified via email or you could configure the entries to be sent to a 3rd-party application like Google docs, SalesForce or MailChimp.
Papertrail is a hosted log management for servers, apps and cloud services. It helps you detect, resolve and avoid infrastructure problems using log messages. All log messages can be aggregated, tailed and searched right from your browser. You can even configure it to send you alerts each time a particular log is triggered.
Mojo Helpdesk is a hosted ticket tracking / help desk application that allows organizations to centralize, assign and track user requests. Use it to track customer and tech support requests, internal tasks management, or for anything that should not fall through the cracks. Mojo tracks requests till they get done.
Sifter is a simple hosted bug and issue tracker for small teams and works especially great for teams with non-technical folks involved. It allows you to track bug reports in an elegant way by assigning it to categories, priorities and project milestones.