Enterprise development reaches more SMBs

More small to medium businesses are enjoying the flexibility of custom application development on top of commodity software that their enterprise counterparts have long since enjoyed.

When Capture Communications won the contract to design and develop a Web content system to support the local launch of the Absolut Cut mixed drink, a custom application was seen as the best fit.

Capture's creative director Jean-Claude Abouchar said the company builds applications that require little training and support.

Abouchar said it's better to have a customized solution across clients because a lot of content management system (CMS) functionality that's needed may not be in the application. Code developed during the project remains the clients' property, he said.

"We're not that precious with source code. You need to have an open philosophy with code, and be flexible long-term; it's not in our interests to lock clients in over five years. They can develop without us, either internally or with contractors. We provide the documentation and code."

The Absolut Cut Web CMS was developed with the increasingly popular LAMP stack on Red Hat Linux with Flash used for front-end visual effects.

Joe Darling, Capture's technical director, said a custom CMS was developed to manage photos and the PHP libraries process images on the backend.

"What we're doing now makes SMB development more economical," Darling said. "We build bespoke systems; they are modular so we cut through a lot of redevelopment and make it easy for end users, and they are fast to build."

Darling said while SMBs are confronted with a huge amount of out-of-the-box software, custom development can be even better than enterprise development.

"Intentionally, we've built this system for SMBs and we've been successful with this," he said. "Using LAMP is good long-term for the small market because it has the largest population of programmers in the world. It has a long life, is affordable and efficient."

The Web site is hosted at Macquarie Telecom's Sydney data centre, and the company's executive managing director for data and hosting Greg Thomson said SMB hosting solutions allow people to host applications in a secure environment that can be managed 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

"The last thing small businesses want is a security expert [so] let someone manage the infrastructure," Thomson said.

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