I’m figuring that those sufficiently technophile to be reading this blog would be horrified at the suggestion of someone paying to obtain SugarCRM, WordPress or other such usually free products. The digerati tend to see it as a right of passage to understand the upgrading procedures for a WordPress install or to understand PHP conflicts.

But the rest of the world out there just want to obtain a product and have it work – this is (in part) the reason that Microsoft is still as successful as it is – its stuff just works (or at least fails to work less often than some of the other offerings) it also requires little or no technical know how – the incumbents spend lots of time and effort automating processes.

I like playing around with FTP clients and the like, but also spend enough time in the real world to understand that the majority of people neither have the desire, the time nor the ability to do so. Enter Etelos. Etelos, in their own words;

…is revolutionizing the way Web-based applications are developed, distributed and consumed to empower organizations to use Web-based applications to achieve their goals.

Etelos sell, as SaaS products on a monthly subscription, such offerings as WordPress, SugarCRM, Expresso and Projects. As an example let’s look at the WordPress offering. Etelos charges $4.95 per month with 5Gb included. For that price Etelos hosts WordPress, provides a URL to the customer and takes care of all upgrades, security, backups etc.

So for $60/years you get an enterprise grade blogging service. Add to that the fact that with Etelos all your SaaS products come billed together on one invoice and you have a pretty powerful SaaS platform play.

I see services such as Etelos as being key to mainstreaming the adoption of SaaS – well done guys!

Ben Kepes

Ben Kepes is a technology evangelist, an investor, a commentator and a business adviser. Ben covers the convergence of technology, mobile, ubiquity and agility, all enabled by the Cloud. His areas of interest extend to enterprise software, software integration, financial/accounting software, platforms and infrastructure as well as articulating technology simply for everyday users.

  • My eyebrows are so far off the top of my head right now … REALLY?

    “Microsoft … its stuff just works … it also requires little or no technical know how” – sorry, but that’s just not true of their SharePoint offering, not true in many many instances.

    “$60/years you get an enterprise grade blogging service” … seems a lot when compared to a zero cost for say Blogger.

    Don’t get me wrong, I think Etelos have obviously seen a market and gone for it.
    I’m just not so comfortable with the underlying assumption you’re making that “without someone holding your hand, you can’t do this on your own”.

  • Mike – we always end up butting heads but here goes….

    Re $60 vs free for blogger – I disagree $60 is little to spend for a robust, secure and managed service. Especially for those fearful of “going it alone”

    my assumption wasn’t that no one can do this on their own – it was that to really get widespread adoption of these tools their is a significant part of the market that needs/wants help and support

    Many people (for example) would pay $100/year for a gmail type service that actually provided customer support…

  • It is not just the mass-market that sees a value in paying to let someone else take care of the technical details of installing and maintaining tools such as WordPress.

    The market for hosted Subversion change control shows that developers also see value in letting someone else take care of the details.

    It is not difficult to install and run your own Subversion server, but is that the best use of your time?

    Should you not be concentrating on adding real value to your business, and not spending your time as a system administrator?

  • What customers are really paying for is a valued added service.

    For many years I used to sell CRM applications in various forms and delivery models.

    CRM is a complex area to get right as it needs to support business processes which are often non-standard or terribly well structured. Adding a CRM can help with activity / process structure but only if it is done very well. (And its usually NOT.)

    There is a misperception among many technical groups that installing a software application is the answer. It almost never works out that way. Especially not if it is OS.

    As someone who specialises providing services based around both WordPress and SugarCRM I often get asked where budgets should be allocated and why. The short answer is investing the budget to get leverage and access to hard earned experience is well worthwhile.

    WordPress has 2000+ plugins in its code library. Almost all of them could do with better documentation and testing. There are many variations in server configuration and so not all code functions will work on your system.

    It is worth paying someone to do this for you.

    BTW SugarCRM has a commercial model where you can also pay for professional and enterprise editions of their software and for larger companies that is a smart thing to do.

    Many people underestimate the hidden costs of using open source software software.

    Ironically open source software is often be much better tested and more widely used than many others types of license software but unless the results of that testing is also shared with the community it may not be that useful.

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