Two years ago, just weeks before SpikeSource officially exited its beta phase, I had a chance to podcast an interview with the company's CEO Kim Polese from Esther Dyson's PC Forum. Back then, the company's portfolio/business model mainly involved (1) the provisioning and maintenance of guaranteed-to-work open source stacks of software and (2) a certification and testing service for open source solution providers who needed to assure their customers that their applications would play nice when thrown under a server's hood with other open source code.
For businesses turning to open source, SpikeSource was a single throat to choke. Behind the scenes, SpikeSource developed intelligence on what versions of what solutions worked well with what versions of other solutions (as well as on Linux) and from that point forward, would take charge of keeping an end user's open source stack of software up to snuff.
After validating that businesses like the idea of having a single throat to choke, SpikeSource eventually launched SuiteTwo. SuiteTwo is yet another suite of open source software, but primarly for those who want to reap the benefits of social software like blogs, wikis, and RSS from inside their own firewalls. SuiteTwo's original entree into the market involved a stack of social software including Moveable Type (blogging) and SocialText (wikis) that SpikeSource delivered to its customers in the form of an Intel-based appliance, and then, much the same way it was maintaining other stacks of software for other customers, SpikeSource assumed the responsibility for keeping those appliances as up-to-date as it could (in other words, so long as some new version of Moveable Type proved itself not to hose the current version of SocialText, SpikeSource would send an update the appliances).
But with the increasing popularity of hosted services as an approach to IT (eg: Salesforce.com vs. an on premises salesforce automation solution), SpikeSource decided to take the same stack it was offering in an appliance form, and offer it as a hosted service as well. Whereas it cost about $10,000 to take delivery of the appliance and the associated service, Polese told me that hosted version of the same stack will start at around $50 per user per year. Whereas there's a break-even point where the appliance may make more sense for certain sized companies, Polese told me in the video above that shes the hosted version as being ideal for smaller enterprises that don't have an IT staff.
Starting with a refresher on what SpikeSource does and this week's announcement of the hosted version of SuiteTwo, we covered a wide range of topics that included the patent challenges facing the open source community and what it will take to get more women involve in technology and science-based entrepreneurialism.