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Introducing an Out-of-the-Cloud Development Environment

Even though Fazend.com is still in its beta-phase we host a number of new projects every week

The Fazend.com platform provides three components out-of-the-cloud (Subversion, Trac, and Hudson), and adds four services on top of these open source products, including their configuration, maintenance, regular backups, and a simple user interface.

Cloud Computing is the name by which we all now refer to the very popular concept of outsourcing of non-critical technical processes.

Actually, not only non-critical. Server hosting, ERP systems, mail and document management are already effectively provided "out-of-the-cloud". In most cases global SaaS providers guarantee security, reliability, and performance incomparable with your similar in-house solutions. It is not a question any more whether to buy a service out-of-the-cloud or to make it at home. The question is which SaaS providers you work with and how you integrate them effectively.

Software development environment is a service that perfectly fits into cloud computing concept, however there are few providers of such a service.

Nowadays, every software team has to invest a good amount of time and effort to setup and host its own development environment. In most cases such an environment has to include a server-side code repository (either Subversion, Git, or something else), issue tracking system (either JIRA, Trac, Bugzilla, or something else), and a continuous integration server (either Hudson, Bamboo, CruiseControl, or something else). The combination of these three software components, provided they are installed and configured properly, gives a good level of comfort for your team. You can control what is going on and you can affect this on-going process.

First of all, the code repository keeps your source code under version control and helps programmers to resolve conflicts in their changes, very often committed to the repository in an un-synchronized manner. Second, the issue tracking system facilitates communication between your team members and helps a project/product manager to prioritize and organize communication channels. Almost all modern issue tracking systems are empowered with wiki-like document management instruments, enabling your team to collaborate via written documentation. Third, the continuous integration server automates software building process and helps your entire project to stay synchronized.

Installation, configuration, and maintenance of these three components is an error-prone and complex process. It requires special knowledge, skills, and experience. What makes the situation even worth is that the majority of available tools are free and open source, they are error-prone by design. Thus, your team needs a dedicated person to be responsible for these tools?

Does your team have to have the same problems and experience the same bottlenecks as others? "Definitely not", we said two years ago and founded Fazend.com, a cloud service, which provides everything your software development team may need, out-of-the-cloud. Moreover, we decided to make it free for any project, either commercial or open source.

Well, to be honest, such an idea is not brand new. A number of solutions have been existing before, but all of them have certain drawbacks, for example:

  • Sourceforge.net, Google Code, and GitHub.com are great hosted repository providers. However they do not accept commercial projects. Besides that they do not allow fine-grained configuration of access control. In other words, source code hosted there is always open for everybody. Moreover, there is still a necessity of continuous integration service, which they don't provide. Fazend.com is different, it lets you configure access permissions to your repository and all other possible parameters to the every last detail, through a simple web panel.
  • MikeCI.com is a fee-based hosted continuous integration platform, which is good, but doesn't provide the other two components (repository and issue tracking). Such a stand-alone CI server location makes fine-tuning difficult and sometimes just impossible. Fazend.com is different, it is free and this is, of course, the first advantage. The second one is that with Fazend.com your source code repository stays logically close to CI environment (not physically, of course), and you can configure them together.
  • There are many companies offering Subversion, Git, and Trac hosting (for example, WebFaction.com, SourceRepo.com, EuroSVN.com, etc.) for a monthly fee. Of course, continuous integration is out of the picture. But this is just a part of the issue. Much bigger problem is that you will have to administer your "cloud artifacts" almost always manually via SSH. Sooner of later you will understand that what you are buying is not an out-of-the-cloud service but just a Subversion-friendly web hosting. Fazend.com is different, it keeps you totally out of the low-level SSH things, letting you control everything through a simple web panel. Because Fazend.com is not a hosting company by its nature.

Fazend.com provides you three components out-of-the-cloud (Subversion, Trac, and Hudson), and adds four services on top of these open source products, incl. their configuration, maintenance, regular backups, and a simple user interface.

Even though Fazend.com is still in its beta-phase we host a number of new projects every week. The platform is properly funded, that's how it ican remain free for open source and commercial projects. The plans are to keep it free forever, earning money on other supplementary things, like hosted third-party on-demand tools and instruments.

You will not be surprised to know that we are looking forward your project joining our platform :)

More Stories By Yegor Bugayenko

Yegor Bugayenko is co-founder of Fazend.com, the recently founded Out-of-the-Cloud Development Environment.

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