In March I wrote about Standing Cloud‘s public launch of a free service to test drive open source applications. As reported today in TechCrunch, Standing Cloud has now launched it’s Business Edition, a service that enables users to also host applications on any of four cloud providers. As with the free edition, they have made it remarkably easy to get started: you register (including providing payment information), select your cloud provider and application, and go. Currently, the easiest setup is with Rackspace, where Standing Cloud can automatically assign a billing account to you; this easy setup is coming soon for GoGrid and Amazon EC2.
In the Business Edition launch, the Standing Cloud service provides fast and simple installation, automated regular and manual backups and simple application monitoring. Importantly, the backups can be restored to any cloud service, not just the one where you started. You can also easily reboot the application if it seems troubled, upload text files (including templates or other customizations), and if you are so inclined, access the server command line through a terminal window that operates within your browser. Through September 30, the only fees Standing Cloud is charging is for the server time and bandwidth usage; after that it will cost an additional $19.95/month for their service – which by then will include a number of additional features.
There are now more than fifty open source applications available in Standing Cloud – so they’ve organized them in a searchable list format. There is also no technical limitation requiring that the applications be open source, so if you are looking to promote or enable users to host your commercial application, send me an email and I’ll connect you with the right person at Standing Cloud.
When I arrived at my house in Homer, I hadn’t been here for two years. It took me one phone call to get Internet (DSL) working again (ACS had to reset my password) and within about 15 minutes everything was working just fine. Except I couldn’t print. I have an old HP 3330 with a JetDirect USB to Internet print server. The printer doesn’t have many miles on it – I’ve only used it for a total of about three cumulative months. It took me about thirty minutes to fight through all the nonsense of the Internet to figure out how to set it up as a print server for my new Mac (which I’ve never used with it before) and for Amy’s Windows 7 computer. It turns out that nothing really works except hard wiring its IP address into our printer setup. Um – yeah – that’s obvious – especially for someone who doesn’t know what an IP address is.
We had a Pogoplug board meeting at our office two weeks ago. For each company we invest in, we try to have a board meeting with all four Foundry Group partners attending at least once a year. This was our “group Pogoplug board meeting” (although I missed the best part – which is the dinner the night before – because I participated in Governors VC Roundtable at the Governors Mansion.)
At the board meeting, Daniel, Jeb, Brad, and Smitty (actually, mostly Jeb) showed off the new Pogoplug “print anywhere” function. They printed a document from an iPad to an Epson printer. Boom – paper came out of the printer. The Pogoplug had two things connected to it – the Epson printer (via a USB port) and our network (via a 10BaseT connection). The iPad was connected to the AT&T 3G network. Did I mention that they printed a document via the iPad? When was the last time you saw someone do that? Yeah, it could have been a web page via an iPhone also.
My immediate thought was how cool it would be to start printing porn on my partner Ryan’s printer connected via Pogoplug since he’d shared his Pogoplug-connected hard drive with me and would probably share his printer also. But then I undermined my evil plot by mentioning the idea. Oops.
If you already have a Pogoplug, this will be a simple free software update coming later this summer. If you don’t have a Pogoplug, seriously, why not? The thing is magic.
Not long after I posted about Dave Jilk’s experience with the Pogoplug, he started using the phrase “Pogoplug Simple” to describe one of the goals of Standing Cloud. The idea is that technology products should be so easy to set up and use that the experience is vaguely unsatisfying – you feel like you didn’t do anything. Standing Cloud – a company we provided seed funding for last year – is launching publicly this week with its Trial Edition and I think they’ve managed to make cloud application management “Pogoplug Simple.”
The Trial Edition makes it easy to test drive any of about thirty different open source applications on any of several cloud server providers. Register with your email address, log in, pick an application, click Install, and in about 30 seconds you’ll be up and running with a fully-functioning application accessible on the web. You don’t need an Amazon EC2 or Rackspace account, as with “appliance” providers. You don’t need to learn about “instances” and “images” and security groups. You don’t need to know how to install and configure a web server or MySQL, or download, install and configure software code. You don’t even need to configure the application itself – Standing Cloud plugs in default values for you. And it’s free.
Like the Pogoplug, the Standing Cloud Trial Edition doesn’t do anything that a motivated IT professional couldn’t do another way. It’s just a lot faster and easier. But for someone who is *not* an IT professional, it removes some rather high barriers to both open source applications and cloud computing.
The Trial Edition is just the beginning for Standing Cloud. Soon you will be able to host, manage, and scale applications with the same emphasis on simplicity. Give it a try and give me feedback.