You’re about to invest thousands in some new software that’s going to make your life and those of it’s users so much easier. You’ve put together a tender, sat through countless mind-numbing presentations of what life will be like. You’ve presented it to the board and made your decision. It was pretty much a no-brainer!
Where is this impressive software going to be installed though? Can you do it or, do you sign up to a hosting company. When it comes to hosting; make sure you ask yourself these 5 important questions before signing up and always get at least three quotes; just like you did when tendering for the software!
Can I host it myself? Does my in-house team have the technical expertise as this will be the cheapest and easiest route; always!
Third party hosting is the obvious solution if you don’t have the technical expertise in house to maintain domains/firewalls/VPN’s/tunnels. A hosted solution gets around all of this by installing your software on a remote server and then giving all users access to this server to allow you to access your data anywhere.
If something goes wrong, who can fix it for me? If I chose a hosting company am I restricted to them, to resolve any issues?
If you decide to host it in house and have limited resources to maintain the service, what happens if your in house expert isn't available if something goes wrong? Hosting will generally be maintained constantly by a team of people that should be on hand to assist should something go awry technically.
If I want to do something out of the ordinary or install other software; will my hosting company let me?
When the software is loaded on your servers, you have the flexibility to do what you wish with it (as long as your finances and expertise allow you to!) With hosting companies there are often restrictions to your access. For example, if a third-party organisation has some software that you wish to add, or you have a consultant who needs access to the data tables to be able to update your system “behind-the-scenes”, access may prevented by the hosting company.
Make sure this is a question that you ask, check that you can add software and get access to all tools to enable you to maintain the software yourself. It can cause additional costs if the hosting company restrict access and then charge you for changes and maintenance.
I’m still unsure, can I get it written in to the contract that I can be an admin user for the background applications that run the software.
This is always a good option. It is always worth ensuring that the hosting company specifically write into your contract that you can have access to all applications loaded on the hosting platform.
For example, a lot of software is written in SQL so insuring you can have access to the SQL Server Management Studio allows you to maintain and interrogate data easier. This is a standard application that should only be used by people who are trained to use it but, it is a key tool for any system administrator.
If it doesn’t work out, am I signing up to a contract that I can’t get out of?
Don’t sign up for too long. Many people often chose a hosting company as they are led to believe it will fix issues they may be having only to find it hasn't resolved the problem. The landscape in education often changes with Trusts merging or growing and you may wish to reconsider your hosting options or, as your Trust grows and your in house expertise expands, you may wish to host the software on your own servers. These are just two examples where you don't want to find yourself in a contract of three or more years, where you cannot cancel without paying a significant cancellation charge, in some cases, until the end of the contracted term.
EduFin are experts in software hosting. We began offering this service in 2015 and it has grown steadily ever since. We don’t limit your access and we don’t sign you up to long term contracts. We want you to be able to use our service just like you would if it was on your on PC.