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Last Thursday, my good friends at Standing Cloud (we are investors) got a nice (and their first) write up in TechCrunch titled Standing Cloud Gives You One-Click App Installs Across Multiple Hosting Providers. I’m proud of the Standing Cloud team as they’ve resisted all the cloud hype and just stayed heads down and built out some really cool stuff that they are now rolling out. I tuned into the TechCrunch article and scanned the comments and lo and behold, Standing Cloud seemed to have a giant issue being called out – namely the font of their logo.
Who knew that Papyrus was so hated by TechCrunch readers? Who knew there was a Papyrus Watch website for font offenders? All I could think of was that the Standing Cloud font was better than the old Feld Technologies font, which was in Bauhaus.
I laughed for a while, then laughed some more at several good natured emails between me, Dave Jilk (the Standing Cloud CEO), my partner Jason, my partner Seth, and Todd Vernon (Lijit’s CEO who is on the Standing Cloud board.)
Then Dave turned himself into Papyrus Watch and posted a comment about it in the TechCrunch comment stream:
“I failed to heed prior warnings about this issue and we will now have to pay our debt to society. In response to your comment and others, I have voluntarily turned myself in to the authorities at PapyrusWatch (http://www.papyruswatch.com), and we are already making plans to update the logo to something attractive and sensible. I hope you favor rehabilitation over punishment and would be willing to try the service, or at least read the article, despite our aesthetic transgression.”
Papyrus Watch did their part with a post titled The Story of Standing Cloud. In it, Standing Cloud announced that they have put up the job of designing a new logo for Standing Cloud on 99designs for $395. Please, no Bauhaus.
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.
My long time friend Alan Shimel has been blogging up a storm on Network World (if you want to hear any amusing story, ask him about the first time he met me.) When Alan started writing his column for Network World he asked me for introductions to a bunch of our portfolio companies that were using open source. Alan is a tough critic and calls it like he sees it so while I knew there was no guarantee that he’d go easy on the companies, I knew that Alan would do an even handed job of highlighting their strengths and weaknesses. I also know that everyone I invest in values any kind of feedback – both good and bad – and they work especially hard to delight their customers so any kind of feedback will make them better.
Earlier today, Alan wrote an article on Standing Cloud titled Seeding the Cloud with Open Source, Standing Cloud Makes It Easy. On Monday, Standing Cloud released their first version of their product (called the Trial Edition) which is a free version that lets you install and work with around 30 open source products on five different cloud service providers. It’s the first step in a series of releases over the next two quarters that Standing Cloud has planned as they work create an environment where it is trivial to deploy and manage open source applications in the cloud. Alan played around with Standing Cloud’s Trial Edition, totally understood what they are doing, and explained why the Trial Edition is interesting and where Standing Cloud is heading when they release their Community Edition at the end of April.
Alan’s also written several other articles about companies in our portfolio recently, including the open source work Gist has been doing with Twitter and a great review of the Pogoplug and how it uses open source.
I believe I’m one of the people that inspired Alan to start blogging a number of years ago. Through his personal blog Ashimmy, the blog he writes for Network World titled Open Source Face and Fiction, and the blogging he does on security.exe (his company CISO Group’s blog), Alan is one of my must read technology bloggers. And he’s often funny as hell, especially when he gets riled up. Keep it up Alan!
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.
Standing Cloud, one of the Boulder-based companies we seed funded last year, is hiring a Java Developer. They are a provider of software and services that facilitate deployment and management of application software, using on-demand cloud servers from providers such as Amazon Web Services, Rackspace Cloud, GoGrid, and others.
The role is to build, maintain, and support client code that interacts with third party cloud services and virtualization APIs. You’ll be deep in the weeds with the various emerging cloud services and part of a young team of eight other people.
If you are interested, send a resume to email@example.com.