Every once in a great while, I cover a company that doesn’t really “live” in Portland or the Silicon Forest. And I generally don’t do that—there are plenty of other resources that do that sort of thing far better than I—unless it has to the potential to influence what we’re trying to accomplish around here.
Etelos has that potential. And I got the chance to sit down with them at OSCON yesterday.
What’s the story? Well, Etelos provides a way of marketing and distributing open source apps for those folks who don’t have any desire to deal with marketing and sales.
Sound like someone you know? I thought it might.
And I think their marketplace idea might appeal to some of you.
The Etelos MarketplaceTM gives developers an easy place to license, distribute and support applications. The Etelos Marketplace also gives businesses a wide selection of fully customizable, on-demand business applications to license and deploy to the hosting environment of their choice.
“You take care of the code,” said Ahmad Baitalmal. “And we’ll take care of the rest.”
What’s that? Yes, yes, I hear you. “Why can’t I just do that with my current host?”
Simple answer? Instead of eschewing customization, these guys seem to thrive on it. They’re built so that every app gets exactly the environment it needs.
Let’s say you need an environment running PHP 5 with the latest Zend framework and MySQL 4.2 and you need it running with a certain amount of memory at its disposal. If you’re dealing with a traditional host, you just began a very lengthy conversation. And you just became a sysadmin instead of a developer. Not exactly where you want to be.
But with these guys, start throwing those specs at them and the response is likely “Okay.”
And you don’t have to be interested in selling your app. This may just be your distribution method.
Take for instance an idea that Justin Kistner has been discussing for some time that I like to call the “RedHat of WordPress.” The concept is based on the idea that every time you install a new WordPress blog—or every time you build a new environment for a client—you have to take an arduous journey of installing and updating every plugin you liked from your last installation. So what if—thought Justin—what if there was a “build” of WordPress that came with everything you needed and only one codebase to maintain that anyone could grab when they needed?
Etelos would be a great way to support that kind of distribution.
Or maybe you’ve built something you want to sell. Like the backbone for social mapping applications or the technology to aggregate calendars online or something.
Etelos could likely help you there too. They’d do all of the marketing and deal with the buying and selling. And all they’d take is a little cut of the revenue.
It’s an interesting concept that takes me back to the days of “shareware” distribution points like download.com and Tucows.
Back in the day, these download sites were incredibly popular place to find the latest in new and interesting software. They became destinations because of the variety of applications that they offered.
Etelos seems to have this same potential. And could serve a very similar role for open source apps.
It will be interesting to see if they can achieve that sort of notoriety. For both their company and the products they promote.
If you’re a developer who just wants to code and leave the business stuff to someone else? Etelos may be just what you needed.
For more information or to try Etelos for yourself, visit Etelos. Or if you’re at OSCON, swing by the Etelos booth to get a demo of their services.