10 February 2006

From a daydream several weeks ago to yesterday’s receipt of instructions providing access to Joyent, things are changing. What things? What changes?

Joyent bought TextDrive. Now Joyent lists three products on their weblog. They include the “Joyent connector services. There’s the TextDrive’s hosting service. Then, there is the Strongspace service.

All three services are needed. They are needed by the small business, and they are needed by the freelancer providing any type of collaborative goods or services to a list of customers. The question is whether or not the small business and/or the freelancer can manage all of these features without an intermediary. If so, how? Let’s work an example…

The best experience I’ve ever had trying to manage four or five domain names at a web host and the associated email accounts involved a product called cpanel. However, as I read through the discussion forum at TextDrive, the techies show great contempt for the product. Though it was easily understood by even a novice user of web hosting, it must have some underlying technical problems that make it less than desirable as the administration center for a next generation host like TextDrive.

If cpanel is wrong, what’s right? TextDrive talked for a while about writing a product called TextPanel. It was to be their answer to easy to use and technically sound administration of hosting services (and email). There was even some suggestion that TextPanel might provide a way to administer all of the services that the Joyent-TextDrive-Strongspace folks offer.

I’m ready for it. With the introduction of the Joyent services, there is yet another set of administrator name and password, user name and password and forum name and password. Those come on top of the TextDrive user name and password, the forum user name and password and all of the email names and passwords. I suspect the same will be true when I get the Strongspace services. Another user name and password combo for the administrator. More for the user(s). There’s a weblog and a forum for this one as well.

Joyent (et al) will make their mark when they simplify the management of all of these. Clearly, any of them stand alone as services that individuals and businesses need. However, the three are so compelling that they’ll be used together. There needs to be a single administrative center for these. It’s time to combine the forums. It’s time to reduce the number of user names and passwords. It’s time to combine the weblogs using sections or categories to help someone see it all or filter the content to suit their needs.

If something similar to this recommendation does not happen, we’re going to see intermediaries hired to manage it all. If they aren’t hired for their technical know-how, they’re going to be hired to save time for those who have higher and better uses of their time than to keep track of a multitude of user names, passwords, weblogs, forums and administrative centers.

Perhaps all of this has already been designed by folks far smarter than me. Perhaps it is simply a matter of time before it rolls out. If not, let me say I want a place where I can manage all of this stuff without having to become an übergeek. The list calls for a variety of services to be taken to the Internet so that no person is bound to a single PC to get work done:

  • Backup services
  • Storage space
  • Domain hosting & management
  • Email management & spam blocking (including everything one can do with Outlook and Gmail, as well as clarifying aliases, forwarding, etc.)
  • Shared calendars & project status information
  • Contact & address book administration
  • Statistics about hosting, email, storage, etc.
  • Capacity and account information related to costs (i.e. am I doing anything to drive my costs up or to harm others given the shared nature of the services?)

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