SpikeSource makes hosted collaboration suite available

SpikeSource releases a hosted version of SuiteTwo

The open source vendor SpikeSource this week released a hosted version of SuiteTwo, which integrates collaborative applications from a variety of software vendors and automates the process of finding and downloading critical patches and updates.

SuiteTwo, which combines Enterprise 2.0 capabilities like blogging, RSS feeds and a wiki service, was first released last November and is now available as packaged software, as an appliance and in the new software-as-a-service, or hosted, offering.

"We're offering a hosted version because we find a lot of business users don't want to deal with systems management, systems admin issues behind the firewall," says SpikeSource CEO Kim Polese.

Polese, who led the Java team at Sun Microsystems in the 1990s and founded Marimba, was one of Time magazine's 25 most influential Americans.

She discussed her newest venture with Network World Wednesday at the Enterprise 2.0 conference in Boston, where she also delivered a keynote address.

SuiteTwo is powered by Intel and brings together products from the software companies Six Apart, Socialtext, Newsgator and Simplefeed.

SpikeSource solves the problem of making the applications interoperate and provides support and maintenance.

"Because it's a best-of-breed suite, there's going to be some integration issues between each application. With SpikeSource managing that, it's a huge advantage," says Yankee Group analyst Jonathan Edwards.

Finding updates and patches is particularly difficult for open source software, Polese explains.

"An open source application or one based on an open source infrastructure is typically comprised of dozens or hundreds of components, and all of those components come from a different source, they're all on a different release train," Polese says. "They all have updates, patches, bugs on an ongoing basis that someone, if they're using these applications in a production environment, has to track. And businesses don't want to have their IT departments spending their days on newsgroups and mailing lists and RSS feeds figuring out whether something has changed in the stack. We built an automated test framework that basically automates the process."

The framework crawls tens of thousands of newsgroups and mailing lists each day, and uses filters to ignore unnecessary updates and focus in on the critical patches listed in those sources.

There are more than 450 components in the SuiteTwo applications, and many of them are open source. SpikeSource technology can be used to update proprietary software as well, but the vendor focuses on open source because of the complexity that type of software poses to IT executives.

"Our value for all of these applications is we do the upfront integration and then we do the ongoing support and maintenance," Polese says. "In the case of SuiteTwo, we integrated together a set of applications in one unified offering with single sign-on, common search, common admin and created, basically, an enterprise collaboration suite. And on an ongoing basis we're the one phone call a customer makes to support the entire suite."

The suite approach probably represents the future of collaborative applications, Edwards says. There are no other established suites at the moment but IBM is scheduled to release a suite called Lotus Connections this month that will provide SuiteTwo its most robust competition, he says.

Pricing for the hosted version of SuiteTwo starts at about US$50 per user, per month, for a customer with at least 10 users. The price drops incrementally depending on the number of users, to a low of about US$25 per person for 100 users or more. Edwards says SpikeSource may have to lower that price to attract to a wider range of small and midsize businesses.

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