We get asked this a lot by shelters trying to decide whether they should host with us, or manage their database themselves with the open source version of the software.
It depends on your level of IT expertise as to which option makes sense for you. There are also some features that are only available via a centralised service like sheltermanager.com hosting.
Here is a summary of the differences between our hosting and using the open source software on your own computers.
|Software Cost||FREE||$ / £ per annum|
|Hardware Cost||VPS costing at least $180 per annum
OR server machine purchase plus 12 months electricity
|Installation||Linux/MySQL/Python knowledge required for setup, front-facing web server advised along with backup strategy.||Ready to go, any internet enabled computer/smartphone/tablet can be used|
|Support||Community forum, average 3 day turnaround||Unlimited support from program authors via email, with 1 hour turnaround in office hours|
|Backups||No||Daily, secure, off site managed backups with point-in-time recovery and 31 day retention.|
|Android and iPhone/iPad app||No||Yes|
|Upload animal photos direct from smartphone and tablet||No||Yes|
|Adoptable animals auto published to the web daily||No||Yes|
|Register microchips with partner providers and microchip registries||No||Yes|
|Import data from other sources||No||Yes (via sheltermanager.com data conversion service)|
We think the following are strong reasons to choose hosting over the open source solution:
You're supporting us
By choosing to host with sheltermanager.com, you're supporting the project and ensuring its survival. You have a voice in new features and developments.
You don't have to have any IT expertise
This is one of the biggest advantages of the hosting. For a small annual fee, you're getting network experts and the authors of the software to take care of everything for you.
If you choose to setup ASM yourself at a shelter that needs more than one computer terminal, then you'll need to install a networked database server.
On top of that, you've got to buy the server and network hardware, and then pay for the electricity to run it as well as set it up. You have to manage a backup strategy in case of hardware failure, which requires more hardware and IT expertise. In the event of a failure, you need to be able to get new hardware up and running and be able to restore your data quickly to resume working.
Running your own IT infrastructure is not a cheap proposition. With sheltermanager.com we handle all backups, maintenance and administration for a single, fixed, annual fee.
We don't deliberately exclude these features from the open source product, but because sheltermanager.com is a centralised service, it means we can add certain features that are not possible with the open source version of the software.
These features include:
- The ability to post animals to your Facebook wall or page with a single click from the animal record.
- A mobile interface for smartphones (accessible via mobile networks) that allows task based management, such as administering medical treatments and performing homechecks.
- Android and iPhone apps to allow uploading of animal images straight to their records from your camera phone.
- QR and barcodes for animal cage cards that can be scanned by smartphone or tablet to go straight to an animal's record.
- Automatically register microchips with registries who require software vendor/authority credentials.
- A community map showing where you are in the world and nearby shelters using ASM with their contact info.
By hosting with sheltermanager.com, you get unlimited support with a quick turnaround, around the clock. You're getting support directly from the authors of the software, so we can make sure everything is running great, we can offer you advice and help get everything just right for your organisation.
With sheltermanager.com, your data is hosted in the cloud and can be accessed from anywhere in the world. Your fosterers can login from home, you can add access for vets, inspectors, volunteers and other roaming staff, you can give API access to your website designers. You can check on things while on holiday or business trips, all you need is an internet connection and a browser.