SourceForge.net, the 9-year-old source control and project management service for open source applications, has added a new feature to its service lineup: hosted applications. Blogger Sarah Perez noticed the hosted apps feature this morning, though it was apparently soft-launched for developers via the SourceForge support forums about a month ago.
The purpose of hosted apps is to provided virtualized versions of third-party open source applications to project teams, so that teams can utilize helpful open source software without having to worry about setting it up. Apps will be hosted at SourceForge.net’s new Chicago data center, which opened a few months ago. SourceForge.net plans to expand on its initial product offering, which at launch includes phpBB (forums), MediaWiki (wikis), and LimeSurvey (surveys). In essence, that means that this one new feature is actually a potentially unlimited number of new features available to SourceForge developers.
The idea behind hosted applications is to provide developers with a way to easily deploy and use popular applications without the hassle of setting them up. Developers are free to focus on building their applications without having to worry about project infrastructure. Because any application on SourceForge.net can be made a hosted app, the hosted applications feature can also be used for demo purposes for apps developed on the site.
SourceForge.net Director of Operations Jacob Moorman listed the following benefits of the new hosted apps feature in a forum post:
- Our new Hosted Apps offering eliminates the overhead of deploying supported applications; simply opt-in and begin using the application right away. No need to deal with config files and install procedures.
- Our Hosted Apps are served from a dedicated database and web server pool, separate from the project web servers — so you don’t need to cope with the security limitations of project web’s shared hosting environment, or project web’s outbound mail and connectivity restrictions.
- We maintain the application code for Hosted Apps and will deploy updates as they become available from the vendor. This should reduce the risk from vulnerabilities found in the Hosted Apps and eliminate a major administrative burden (installing updates) to projects.
- We perform regular backups of the Hosted Apps data, but also provide you the ability to easily make application backups on-demand.
- We perform application testing, tuning and monitoring to ensure Hosted Apps operate properly. If service faults occur, we respond and fix the issues. If defects are found in the application (either through our own testing or through end-user report), we will repair the defects or raise the defect to the vendor for repair.
- All Hosted Apps make use of our centralized authentication infrastructure (users login with their SourceForge.net usernames and passwords) but retain the permissions (authorization) of the application (so, for example, existing users of MediaWiki will find permissions handling exactly as they expect).
- Since this offering is centrally managed, any improvements we make either to the infrastructure or to the Hosted Apps themselves will immediately become available to all projects. The Hosted Apps offering reduces our overhead for adding major new functionality to our offering, since all applications share common integration points and common infrastructure.
- Since Hosted Apps are available under an Open Source license (incidentally, we release back to the community any patches we make to the vendor-supplied code), this centralized service has the potential to rapidly increase the user base of Open Source applications and drive high quality feedback for the further improvement of those applications.