Guest Post: SiouxApp Gives Microsoft Partners Open Source Benefits

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The following is a guest post by Michael P. Hofmann, Chief Executive Officer of 7iSolutions, a company that offers innovative business solutions and technologies to corporate customers while focusing on open-source and Internet technologies.

To deliver a value, every infrastructure needs applications. If you review the open-source business solutions market, community-developed, open-source solutions are often among the very best solutions. Examples are Redmine (project and process management), WordPress (publishing and blogging), DokuWiki (wiki), Subversion & Git (version control) and many more. Also, companies like SugarCRM, NetSuite and Suse have grown out of community-developed open-source projects.

A large community ensures ongoing enhancements and the solution usually has numerous, helpful plug-ins and themes, so that it can be used for multiple business requirements. Furthermore, the speed with which new features are released is often impressive.

From a functional point of view, the result is usually just great. But from a corporate point of view, there are a few issues with community-developed, open-source solutions (short: the solution).

Examples are:

  • The installation of a solution in a corporate environment is often difficult and can be time-consuming. Furthermore, the configuration may require expert knowledge, which a company does not have in-house, and the periodic upgrades are just a costly exercise for a little bit more functionality but must be done for security reasons.
  • In the cloud, security is always key. The solution usually has all required features, but they need to be configured, integrated, tested and also monitored.
  • Efficient support and training for employees and administrators is often an issue. The local computer school rarely offers classes for just this solution, and if you need a technical expert, it is not obvious where to find one.
  • Finally, the legal terms are not clear. A larger corporation has the risk of being sued and needs to review beforehand the licenses of the solution and its plug-ins.

Overall, from a management point of view, such a project has an uncertain destiny and that's often the killer for such a project.

A new approach and middleware is required

What's missing is a new kind of middleware that addresses all the issues above. The general idea is simple: Take the great community-developed solutions and fill all the gaps. This way, middleware companies can benefit from great solutions and have the peace of mind the solution is reviewed, tested and supported from a corporate point of view.

SiouxApp and 7iSolutions are implementing the described model. We currently offer the following solutions: DokuWiki, Git, Redmine, Subversion and WordPress.

We typically do the following: We evaluate a community-developed solution (popularity, community strength, legal aspects, practical business use, check plug-ins and themes), then pre-configure a solution (typical business settings, security settings, multi-tenancy capability, auto-installation with 1-command-line), make sure the periodic upgrades are easy to do (write upgrade scripts, run tests) and finally test the entire solution in very detail.

In addition, 7iSolutions offers all services a company might need. Examples are operating support (installation, configuration, administration, troubleshooting, upgrading), user support, technical support and training by webinars for administrators and users. All services are delivered remotely, which is more efficient.

As an infrastructure the SiouxApp server from the Microsoft Azure Marketplace is a perfect start. The server is preconfigured, the apps are preinstalled and no Linux knowledge is required to run the server. Further, building on Microsoft Azure means the solution is easily scalable and can be integrated with all other Microsoft services.

In summary, with the integration of SiouxApp, the scalable Microsoft Azure infrastructure, the transparency from the Info-Center and optional services from 7iSolutions, a business or Microsoft partner will have all the required components to benefit from great community-developed, open-source solutions on their dedicated server.

SiouxApp on Azure:

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