If you are reading your web email by using only a web browser such as Chrome, Firefox, or Internet Explorer, then you are already using web-based software. It can be described by what it is not, but it can be understood better by defining what it is. The five points of clarification are installation, maintenance, connectivity, data storage, and security.
Hassle-free, zero installation
Regular desktop software packages are installed on individual computers. Most often, IT experts are needed to determine compatibility issues, configure directories and drivers, and install the program step by step. In contrast, web-based software is not installed. You only need to go to the website using a web browser that usually comes with the standard operating system of your computer. Then, you log in with your registered account to start using it. Installation, configuration, or compatibility problems are nonexistent.
Nowadays, many providers are even allowing users to try their applications for free for a limited time before making them decide to purchase the product or service.
Automatic updates and synchronized version control
Software installed on computers usually need regular bug fixes or updates. As the owner, you need to be aware of and regularly install updates to resolve recently discovered software bugs and vulnerabilities. Web-based applications do not need this kind of maintenance, because they are updated automatically, most of the time unnoticed.
You do not have to keep track of whose computer is running what version of software, because every computer is always running the same version: the latest. There will be no inconsistencies. Even if there are bugs that need to be fixed, it will be the same for everyone. Fixes will be easier and quicker to implement, because issues are easily tracked and documented on only one version of the software.
Connect to work from anywhere
With regular software, you are limited to work on a computer that has the complete program, required license, and latest data. Your place of work is dictated by the location and availability of this computer. Such restriction is not present when you use web-based software. It does not impose any limit to where you can work.
Your office becomes anywhere you want it to be. It can be the head office, an international branch, your seat while you are traveling, or any place where you can access the Internet. Several people can use it at the same time, so collaboration has become easier. As a result, work is getting done more quickly, and critical information becomes available readily.
Centralized storage of all data
When data is installed or copied in a specific computer, it becomes localized, accessible only to the user of that computer. It will only remain relevant and useful as long as it has the most recent information. But what if your enterprise has hundreds of client computers spread across several cities, states, or countries, constantly updating information by the second?
Since no data is kept on client devices with web-based software, you can be sure that everyone is using the same updated information stored on a central server to give an accurate picture of what is going on in the business at any specific time. The data is updated in real-time, and the reports are accurate, so good business decisions can be made.
Safe and secure working environment
Usually, data is saved on individual hard drives or portable storage devices. With data all over multiple devices, it becomes a security nightmare. Opportunities for hacking and theft are increased. Multiple copies of different data to be backed up becomes confusing, with the possibility of the backup getting misplaced. Add to that the issue of having the latest security patches and antivirus vaccines to safeguard valuable data.
But when you use web-based software, these multiple points of vulnerabilities are eliminated. Your data is stored on servers that have multiple layers of security, regularly updated with the latest software patches, and backed-up daily. These servers reside in a data center that is secured from unauthorized human or program access, and equipped with several levels of redundancy against power or connection failure, with backup stored in an off-site storage.
On the other end of the connection, running nothing else but a web browser gives you significantly fewer chances of getting infected by malware or virus. There is also no danger of corrupting your database, since it is not installed on your local computer.
What it is
Web-based software is a set of programs that access centralized data and runs on secure servers typically located outside your own local network or premises but easily accessed through the Internet. The web pages you see with your browser serves as the user interface. This interface gives you control to run programs and processes, which may send output information or reports also to your browser.
For users in general, using web-based software is easier, because it is less intimidating technically, without the hassle of installation, configuration, and upkeep. It is relatively cheaper, because you do not have to buy multiple licenses, and some applications are even offered for free. It is portable, unlike traditional software that has to be installed in each and every computer to be used. This kind of application is more reliable, because it is centralized, and with Web 2.0, it is becoming even more powerful than regular desktop software.
Best for business
If you have your own business or if you run a corporate enterprise, using web-based software is ideal. When you use such software, you do not have to worry about the technical details, so you can concentrate on your business. An application service provider (ASP) or the company that is hosting the software handles pretty much everything what an IT department usually does. You only do what matters to you and your business, while they make sure you can use their applications whenever you need it.
So, what is web-based software? It is a great many things available for you to use right now.