If you’re looking to build a website or webapp for your business, there are plenty of options to get started. First, there’s a variety of fully hosted solutions like WordPress.com, which take away the headaches of managing software and server configurations at the cost of reduced flexibility. Another popular option is to get a hosted server from the likes of Rackspace or Dreamhost, which can give you much more flexibility, but also come with more things to worry about. Standing Cloud is a startup that looks to take the ease of use of the fully hosted providers and combine them with the benefits of having your own server space, with the added flexibility of being able to change between these cloud service providers in a few clicks.
If you’ve ever used a shared hosting provider that offers one-click installs of software packages like WordPress, then the basics of Standing Cloud should sound familiar. Generally speaking, installing an open-sourced application to your server involves some fairly advanced configuration — you need to upload the proper files via FTP and run installation scripts, which are tasks that are pretty daunting for your average computer user. Many hosting providers offer a solution to this, allowing you to install a pre-configured version of the software to your server space in a few clicks. But Standing Cloud CEO David Jilk says this comes at a cost — once you’ve set up an app this way, it’s a pain to switch to another service provider down the line. Standing Cloud offers a solution to this problem.
Getting started with Standing Cloud is pretty straightforward. First you create an account, which takes a few seconds (no credit card info required). Next, you’re presented with two options: you can either test drive one of Standing Cloud’s 50+ open source applications, which includes software like Drupal, phpBB3, and WordPress, or you can host an application. The first option will create a temporary install of whatever application you’re looking to try out, free of charge (data from the temporary application is deleted after a few hours). The second option, and the one that makes Standing Cloud money, is to manage a permanent account on RackSpace Cloud, AWS, GoGrid, or SliceHost (you can create a new account or import your old one). You can get a sense for this process in the video below.
After signing up for a cloud hosting provider (or entering the information for your existing account) you can use Standing Cloud to start installing and managing new open sourced applications in a few clicks. The service’s special sauce allows you to jump between these different cloud providers at will, which Jilk says is fairly complex feat to pull off.
Standing Cloud’s service is free for now, aside from any costs you incur from your hosting provider, and will cost $19.95 a month some time down the road (though trial app installs will still be free). Jilk says that the company wants to build out more value-added features before it starts charging customers — features that will help users maintain their software installs on an ongoing basis (he didn’t get into many specifics, but said that there were plenty of features on the drawing board). The end goal, Jilk says, is to give users something they don’t have to think about.
Another player in this space is RightScale, which also offers cloud management services.