Charles Costa is the owner of CJC Digital, a market research consultancy that helps businesses ensure that their ideas are on track before work begins.
Choosing a web host can be one of the toughest decisions you make as a web development professional, because your decision plays a significant role in whether your client’s business will succeed or fail.
Unfortunately web hosts are now a dime a dozen. Plus the fact that many hosts white-label their services to third parties means that the company you recommend to a client might not even have direct control over the servers they claim to provide.
In the past, web hosting was simply a service where the host provided the hardware, and the client provided the code. Today however, managed WordPress hosting has emerged as one of the hottest offerings in the web hosting space.
Some of the biggest players in this sector are WP Engine, and Pagely, as well as traditional hosting companies such as Media Temple and GoDaddy who now also offer specialized WordPress hosting. Of course, we can’t forget WordPress.com and WordPress VIP (who offer high end hosting).
IT professionals and business owners can barely go a day without hearing about a new product claiming to leverage “the cloud” to help solve common problems. Unfortunately, the cloud computing industry is now eerily similar to the weight loss and financial industries, promising quick and easy solutions to difficult problems.
While there’s no arguing that many cloud platforms and software suites have had a positive impact on the way companies do business, many vendors are now using the term “cloud” whenever possible as a marketing talking point without backing it without any substance. That’s harmful to the whole industry, and I think we should stop. Heres’s why.
A Brief History of the Cloud
Before continuing it’s important to note that cloud technology is, at its core, a marketing buzzword defined as, “the practice of storing regularly used computer data on multiple servers that can be accessed through the Internet” Long story short, cloud computing has been around since the 1960s.
The first major adoption of cloud technologies as we know them today – software as a service (SaaS) platforms – was Salesforce.com when it launched in 1999. By providing a simple software package which was automatically maintained by the vendor, users benefited from quality software which could be scaled to fit their needs without IT professionals worrying about deployment logistics.
The cloud was pushed further into the mainstream with the development of Amazon Web Services (AWS) in 2002. This innovation included a variety of web based services which allowed developers to build cloud applications on top of Amazon’s infrastructure. In 2009, cloud technology as we know it took its stride, causing companies such as Google and Microsoft to also begin offering Internet-based applications to meet the demands of consumers, who were increasingly using multiple devices in their daily routines.
A Clearer Definition of the Cloud
Despite a lack of a formal definition, most legitimate cloud services share the following common characteristics:
- User self-provisioning
- Pay-per-use billing
- A multi-tenant architecture
- A virtualized infrastructure
- Linear scalability
A Significant Example of Cloudwashing
One of the most prominent cloudwashers in the IT industry is Oracle. The enterprise vendor well known for their high-end computing solutions was a vocal critic of cloud technologies, but then switched stances in 2012. Rather than embracing the model of moving their applications to the web, Oracle instead began to offer “Oracle Infrastructure as a Service,” marketed as a cloud solution — when, really, it was nothing more than a way for companies to rent Oracle datacenter equipment and house it on-site.
Another example of cloudwashing is Microsoft’s “to the cloud” advertising campaign, which just showed what could be done when Windows 7 is connected to the Internet.
In a field where everyone is trying to get money for their latest idea, it can be difficult — if not impossible — to secure outside funding for your project. In the past, your options for getting large sums of cash were primarily venture capital funds or angel investors. Today, though, crowdfunding has become a practical alternative for entrepreneurs who need funds but don’t want to sacrifice equity or go through the grueling process of being grilled by investors.
What Is Crowdfunding (in a Nutshell)
For those unfamiliar with crowdfunding campaigns, crowdfunding is a new way for entrepreneurs to raise capital by tapping the masses rather than a small pool of investors. You might have heard of a few, like Kickstarter or Pozible.
Crowdfunding works by allowing virtually anyone to make relatively small contributions to a project in exchange for tangible goods, rather than having a small pool of investors risk large chunks of funds. Donation amounts vary from campaign to campaign but they typically range from $1 up to $10,000.
Who is Crowdfunding Best Suited For?
Crowdfunding sites originally gained notoriety in the creative and artist communities because they allowed artists to successfully raise funds even though most traditional investors wouldn’t touch their work. Crowdfunding proved to be highly successful for these groups because the rewards are practical: by offering CDs, copies of paintings and other tangible goods, the system became a way to pre-order a variety of innovative products. As crowdfunding became more popular, digital downloads emerged as a popular reward option.
Is it Applicable to Software?
As a software development professional, you’re probably asking yourself if crowdfunding can help you raise funds for your software project. While the majority of crowdfunding projects revolve around creative endeavors and tangible goods, The Next Web mentioned two software campaigns which made their top crowdfunding campaigns list for 2013.
Ghost is designed as a platform devoted to publishing. By pitching itself as a simple alternative to WordPress and other content management systems, the creators of Ghost were able to raise £196,362 from a £25,000 goal.
Macaw raised $275,000 from a $75,000 goal. Macaw gained notoriety by providing designers with a tool which allows designers to write code straight from the design view.
So, yes, software projects can be successfully crowdfunded, provided there is a solid strategy behind the project.
Hold Up, Not So Fast
Before you go out and put your project idea up on a major crowdfunding site, it’s crucial to note a few key facts.
Smartphones no longer carry the corporate stigma that they used to. The decline of Research in Motion and the Blackberry has opened the doors for many companies to allow employees to use their iPhone and Android devices for both work and personal use, rather than providing them with dedicated corporate devices. Although the bring your […]
Couponing used to be a game that required extensive clipping and countless hours of effort devoted to organizing and planning trips to the supermarket. But, thanks to the innovation provided by many smartphone app makers, today it’s easier than ever to maximize your savings at the supermarket and at other retailers. Although the app market […]
Although trusting your health to your Android phone might seem like a crazy idea, today many phones have computing capabilities suited for much more than just making phone calls. Recently, a whole new industry of apps focused consumer healthcare — with pulse meters, stress monitors, sleep activity loggers (which monitor vital signs) and much more — […]
As an Android power user, whenever anyone suggests I download an app to my Droid, I usually respond with skepticism since there are only a few gems buried in an oversaturated market of junk. One of the best examples of this situation are novelty camera and video apps; ranging from photo templates and skins, effects […]
Although there are many Twitter apps for Android, the majority of them all focus on streaming tweets, providing access to your Twitter lists, and alerting for mentions and direct messages. For power users, Ubersocial takes it to the next level.