dotCloud is going OpenSource

Hi folks,

I have now moved my blog to this location, since dotCloud’s Sandbox mode is now moving to an OpenSource implementation, which I have to say is quite commendable of the chaps.  Since I can’t currently afford to maintain my own servers on a 24/7 basis, I consider this an affordable low maintenance solution.

However this does lead me to become more motivated in order to actually build a live application on dotCloud that meets their desired criteria: “Our core competency is and will continue to be the operation and support of large-scale cloud services, for tens of millions of visitors, 24 hours a day, every day.”  Certainly something to aim for!  I’m not entirely certain the nature of a service that I would like to build, but, while I’m casually brainstorming:

  • it could be a service for building rooms for online collaboration, via manyuser-video conferencing, leveraging off TokBox; I would charge some nominal (small) fee for the service on an hourly basis, and then pay TokBox a portion of the take – since TokBox is fairly cheap (I think $200 / 250 for the first 75000 hours of usage per month total), this doesn’t seem like a poor strategy.
  • an online wiki.  Running on mediaWiki, I could host a not for profit specialist wiki focusing on some area that wikipedia might not focus on in the depth that I might like – eg a research wiki.
  • a forum registration service.  Running multiple user forums, the profit model would be advertising revenue and banner space.
  • a game.  I had difficulties with doing this before, however, in terms of where I wanted to take it.
  • an online provider of digital course content that I create, or
  • a provider for MOOCs (massive open online course) that simplifies the process of creating an online network of materials for students to use in their courses.

My impression is that the first and third points are probably the ones I’m most likely to want to try.  And the third would probably be the best to get started with.

The first step to enact the forum idea in particular might to consider Django as the technology to approach the matter.  I know that the lightbird tutorials cover forums in this respect, so I would not be starting from scratch.  It would then be simply a matter of extending / abstracting away from a single forum to creating a database of forums.

I guess in terms of how I would go about testing prior to implementation is that I would deploy on a Sandbox server, self-hosted, then contact dotCloud should I mean to move to Live / Enterprise mode.  Broadly speaking though, I think consideration of a live service is really only worthwhile if one has a passion or driving need to work in an area and sees an opportunity for improvement.  And largely speaking I’m learning a bit more fooling around with Unity currently! and see no obvious ways to simplify online transactional foolishness.  Learning is perhaps the most important thing for me at the moment – knowledge is, afterall, the best enabler of serendipity.

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