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Feasible business?

I'm just speculating here, but would it be feasible to run a business where I marketed a client program that had to use an SQL Server in my office?  All of the customers data would be on this computer and they would have to use the client program to acccess it.  Does anyone do anything like this?  If you do, what type of system do you have and what type of lines do run? T1, ISDN etc.  How do you ensure up time and security?

e.graphics.drawstring
Tuesday, May 20, 2003

It would probably be acceptable for very small businesses (say shops with 1 or 2 employees) who can't afford their own server or a full time person to administer it.

Matthew Lock
Tuesday, May 20, 2003

What if your office building burns down?  Do you want to go out of business?  Think seriously about a data center.

What exact benefit is gained by having the database in your office?  In the customers eyes?

It will cost more to develop, but consider having multiple versions.

Version 0. You host. Shared Server. (x customers per server)
Version 1. You host. Dedicated server. (1 customer per server)
Version 2. Customers host.  Customers provide hardware.

--
ee

eclectic_echidna
Tuesday, May 20, 2003

No problem but to get customers you'd need to lower their, yes that's right, barriers to entry:

http://www.joelonsoftware.com/articles/fog0000000052.html

Rikard Linde
Tuesday, May 20, 2003

Sounds like a straight ASP-type business. Yes, there is plenty of room for these types of apps. Check out Corio and Salesforce.

These service seem to always get the pricing wrong. It's good in the beginning but stinks down the road. Basically, the best customers need to move towards a flatter cost structure.

pb
Wednesday, May 21, 2003

"Does anyone do anything like this?  "

Hotmail, Yahoo, eBay, and a whole lot of other web ASPs

I would really think about a number of issues.

Availability ...
-- hardware (redundant sites and machines etc)
-- bandwidth (many pipes ... dns attacks anyone?)

Data security
-- Backups for data loss (negligent/accidental loss)
-- Data theft (original is still there, but thief has copies)
-- Good design to prevent Client C accessing Client Z's data.

Migration/Upgrade
-- will you lock your clients into same upgrade path?
-- will data backend support different version clients?
-- will you have the infrastructure to support/retrain huge rollout?

Depending on how critical the data is to your customer's business, I would get insurance. Lots of it. For everything. With a business like this, if  you can insure against something, then get that insurance. Make sure your insurance covers legal bills too.

<cynicism> Wait till you get sued by some two bit operator because you were down for one day and he claims that he could not close the deal of a lifetime because he could not get to his data! </cynicism>

tapiwa
Wednesday, May 21, 2003


Sounds like hiding the SQL Server behind a web server and creating a web app would be a better solution. You could host the servers offsite, making the service easier for customers to preview and access while providing better support and data security.

runtime
Wednesday, May 21, 2003

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