Thursday, June 28, 2007

Wanted: A VIP (VPN?) Room for Web 2.0 Apps

I am working on a project with a team in New York, San Francisco, and Noosa, Australia. It's a bunch of really smart folks and we have a good time ... but collaboration and communication could always be better.

I would love to cook up a little social networking site for our project work using, say, Ning. In addition to the basic stuff like messaging and chat, we could embed this box filesharing widget, put up videos and photos (ok, our photos are mostly of whiteboards, but we count that as fun), audio recordings of meetings, maybe a gizmo or skype or grandcentral widget for click-to-call. Maybe plug in some WYSIWYG wiki editing.

But we can't do that because of security and nondisclosure concerns. IndustryNext doesn't harbor a lot of secrets, but our clients may -- especially when it concerns upcoming and unannounced products that we're building with them. And our confidentiality with clients means that we won't put their project data into a shared SaaS environment.

So what can we do? The other extreme (from fully shared Saas) is to acquire the apps to host in-house. But that's not an option with many of these services, for good reason.

I propose that a third party build a business hosting secured and partitioned areas where instances of these apps could live. Of course going down this road starts to break the business model that makes many web 2.0 services viable. Without shared hosting infrastructure, and with the added hassle of supporting a "customer" deployment (even if the hosting service is a very sophisticated customer), advertising won't pay all the bills anymore.

But that's ok: I'm willing to pay some money for secure, semi-private access to these apps. It's way cheaper than any alternative I'm aware of, and would have a positive impact on our productivity. Moreover, since the apps are already built and deployed, it's all gravy -- a new revenue line -- beyond the actual hosting and the maintenance (from the app provider to the host).

Does something like this exist? If not, any takers?


Derek Anderson said...

Have you looked at Campfire?

It doesn't allow for the addition of widgets but it supports some of the things that you want to accomplish

Security Retentive said...

I'm not convinced that dedicated infrastructure is the way to go. There are plenty of SaaS vendors hosting pretty sensitive data (Salesforce for example) that don't really do dedicated hosting except in cases where they have to dedicate horsepower to a given customer.

On a per-customer basis I bet you could get some of these approved through their InfoSec departments as well as yours if they are used to the SaaS idea already. If not, well, you're probably screwed :)

Anonymous said...

Drop dead simple setup/admin VPN =