30 Jan

The Web App Orchestration Dance

As of early 2008 besides the basic LAMP stack we use the following to run our business: Salesforce.com, Trac, Subversion (hosted at CVSdude.com), Basecamp, Fusemail (don’t run your email off your web servers), Authorize.net, WordPress, Feedburner, OpenAds, Bronto, Google Analytics, Google Web Optimizer, Cacti, Nagios, and I’m probably forgetting a couple other services we may be using less frequently. A few applications are resisting webification, mainly spreadsheets (online spreadsheets are just sluggish toys compared to my Excel pivot tables and charts) and Quickbooks (QB Online has plenty of foibles so we’ve passed).
Some of the web apps in the list above are great – we couldn’t live without SFDC for instance. Others have shortcomings that we’ll probably want to address at some point. Replacing GWO with Offermatica comes to mind as GWO requires a boatload of traffic to provide conclusive data, which is not so great in B2B because any test takes weeks to complete. More generally speaking, what I’ve come to realize is that the process of selecting, adopting, and integrating these applications together is really a core competency for an internet business. Then you need to milk them for all they’re worth, which is a lot of work in its own right (Google Analytics is a good example here).
For all the “no software” claims, you’re pretty much in software up to your neck, all day long. There’s still a lot of configuring, learning, training, and scaling going on. People just getting started running an online business need to realize that just because you don’t install software doesn’t mean the whole thing is a free ride. There is still a significant learning curve.

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