Selling A Rails Application

Hi All,

I am currently in the process of developing a CMS in rails aimed at web
designers. I am considering the different ways to sell this, mainly
offering a hosted solution of a downloadable package.

Offering a hosted solution seems better from the point of view that I
can manage the code more easily and keep the source hidden. But how
would users feel about having a hosted CMS service? Would people mind
not being able to choose their web hosts for the sites? What are your
views?

If I were to sell the software as a downloadable package, how would you
go about licensing? Obviously rails is open source - and presumably the
software would have to be open source as well? Is there any way to sell
a rails app in this way, and if so how?

Any suggestions would be interesting.

Many Thanks,

Mark Dodwell

I am currently in the process of developing a CMS in rails aimed at web
designers. I am considering the different ways to sell this, mainly
offering a hosted solution of a downloadable package.

Sorry, should read ' ... hosted solution *or* a downloadable package
... '

Mark Dodwell wrote:

I am currently in the process of developing a CMS in rails aimed at
web designers. I am considering the different ways to sell this,
mainly offering a hosted solution or a downloadable package.

This doesn't answer your question, but if you choose the latter you may
want to check this out:
http://www.rubyinside.com/distributing-a-rails-application-as-a-single-f
ile-289.html

- Mark.

I've been trying to sell a hosted solution for a few months now, and
haven't had a lot of luck.

My target customers even acknowledge that their skills in managing
such a system would be close to zero, and that they'd be far better
off in just about any sense having someone host it for them.

However, their big problem is with others having access to their data
- it's been very difficult for me to get them to accept that their
data is many times more secure in a hosted environment than in their
own, half-assed data centre. I still haven't found the killer
argument in this area; they acknowledge that their own IT staff are
borderline incompetent and largely disinterested, they acknowledge
that all systems they run themselves are barely operational and that
the fault is with their people rather than the products themselves,
they acknowledge that having someone look after things for them would
in all likelihood give much greater availability and user happiness,
they acknowledge that my solution would be way cheaper than any
alternative they know of, and on and on it goes.

They even tell me that their data isn't actually THAT sensitive, but
they still refuse to go with a hosted solution.

If anyone else has encountered this thinking and gotten past it, I'd
be very interested in finding out what you did.

Regards

Dave M.

For what it's worth, the industry in general is trending towards
software as a service (supporting your hosted solution option). Take
the Salesforce.com success story. Look at their client list and you'll
see who is trusting *very* sensitive information with an ASP.

With that said, SFDC has no shortage of money to dump into it's data
centers and security policies. So in the end it's the customer
perception of your ability to secure their customer data.

Hope that helps.

If I were to sell the software as a downloadable package, how would you
go about licensing? Obviously rails is open source - and presumably the
software would have to be open source as well?

Nope. AFAIK there's no such clause in the rails or ruby licenses.
You're thinking of GPL, which fortunately isn't the only license
around..

Is there any way to sell

a rails app in this way, and if so how?

..and even GPL'ed apps can be sold. But your customers would have the
source and full distribution rights.

This mailing list probably isn't the best place to learn about open
source or licensing, though. I suggest you hit google/wikipedia, there
are volumes of proper info on this stuff out there. Then read the
ruby/rails licenses.

And don't concern yourself too much about keeping the source hidden.
You'll find some references in the archives for this ML, but imho
copyright law is the only thing that really protects you.

Any programmer worth his salt should be able to duplicate your
efforts, and maybe even do a better job at it as they can base their
work on the finished product. You'll have to keep your customers happy
enough to not bother..

Isak

Yes - there are a great many factors influencing success, and your
chosen SaaS (software as a service) model is a factor that will
influence operations, sales, & marketing (no to mention technology).

I have a pdf if you're interested that explores these topics. Other
than a technology implementor, I also consult executives on business
plan development for hi-technology.

Don't worry, I'm not trying to sell you my services. grin. But I can
offer you a primer on SaaS and the implications thereof.

I don't want to flood the list with a 5 page PDF, but if you email me
off list I'll fire it off to you.

From the intro:
"The following discussion studies the value proposition of SaaS,
considerations of the business model and the sales, marketing and
cultural and operational challenges it presents for corporations
looking to deploy such a model."

good luck on your venture.
cheers,
Jodi

This topic inspired me to finally launch a blog using the very nice Mephisto Blog/CMS system. To begin, I've edited down the SaaS PDF content, and will publish in 3 parts a www.nnovation.com/blog. I think this venue offers a more relevant place to discuss/share the business side of the ventures were running. Being a software engineer with an interest in business I hope I can provide a valuable perspective.

Plus having passed my 1st anniversary with rails, I"m hoping to contribute to the rails community more meaningfully - first using the blog, and secondly a pet project project I should be able to announce in a couple of weeks.

For those that got the PDF and have questions/comments please use the blog, plus those that didn't but have some interest in the business side of running a software as a service I hope to see your comments.

Cheers,
Jodi
General Partner
The nNovation Group inc.
www.nnovation.ca/blog