Tuesday 9 October 2012

Missed marketing opportunity?

This is more on the "CF10 in the UK" thing that I wrote about recently.  First things first, I'm gonna reproduce a comment Rakshith made against one of the other articles here, so as to clarify things:

Hey guys, I was not referring to UK when I said 'over there'. UK was never in the context of this conversation. I was referring to <cfmldeveloper>.<com> and not UK. My bad that I should have just said <cfmldeveloper>.<com> than saying 'over there'. Sorry for the confusion.

P.S. I have better access to data than anyone could possibly have to make a ridiculous claim that Adam is the only in UK using CF10 :)

So that clears that up.  I'm like the last person to have a go at someone's tone, but I think the PS bit was slightly unnecessary.  Whilst the claim might have been ridiculous, it was not me who was making it (not his explicit wording, but that's certainly the inference), I was merely commenting on what he himself said.  I get that he misworded his comment in such a way that it said something different from what he meant (what a difference a preposition can make, and this might just be a vagary of the differences between dialects of English), but I was simply taking what he said at face value.  So shoot me.  I can see that there was a miscommunication (which, as I pointed-out, if the "fault" of both parties participating in the communication), but he got in a bit of a strop at me on Twitter which was a bit silly.  Anyway... it's all done now.

But anyway... moving on.

Firstly: a plug for www.cfmldeveloper.com. They're a CF hosting outfit, the strap line for which is "Free Hosting for CFML developers".  As well as offering a paid-for service, they do indeed also offer free "web space for developers to learn, develop and host CFML (aka ColdFusion) applications without the hassle of having to deal with the server side of things [...] CFMLDeveloper.com is a community and resource for CFML developers or anyone interested in learning or Evaluating ColdFusion, offering FREE developer hosting as well as social networking tools and resources" (taken from http://www.cfmldeveloper.com/page.cfm/hosting and http://www.cfmldeveloper.com/page.cfm/about-cfmldeveloper).  Basically their free hosting gives a person like me enough disk (100MB) and bandwidth (1GB) to mess around with things and also expose them to the outside world.  This is perfect for someone wanting to investigate ColdFusion, but - as Russ says - wants to minimise the management overhead.  I've only been with them for a month or so, but the service has been robust and easy to use, and Russ has been responsive when I've asked questions.  I strongly recommend them.

Now.. back to Rakshith's comment: the important thing here is what he actually meant, which is this: (not a quote) "I have not heard anyone wanting to use CF10 at cfmldeveloper. You are the first one Adam".  Fair enough, but I think this possibly somewhat misses if not the point, then certainly a salient point.

I shopped around for a bit before settling on cfmldeveloper.com, and couldn't find anyone giving free CF10 hosting.  As you have probably come to realise, I'm a fairly forthright person, and don't shrink from butting in and asking questions.  However even with my nature, I did not hit any of the potential hosting solutions I was looking at and go "OK, you've got CF9... what about CF10?"  I simply went "OK, well CF9 will have to do then".  I think this is how most people will operate. So there might be dozen upon dozen of people who would use (free) CF10 hosting if it was available, but will do without if it's not offered.

Russ's reason for not doing CF10 hosting is the licensing cost.  It seems he used to get free licences due to being a service to the community, but that was stopped by Rakshith's predecessor.  Obviously I don't know the ins and outs of this, but on face value this sounds like a poorly-thought-out move on Adobe's part: it's not like it actually costs them anything to give someone a licence, and cfmldeveloper.com (and its ilk) are great promotional aids for ColdFusion.  Having free entry-level hosting is a great way to get "bums on seats", and for both cfmldeveloper.com and Adobe, this could be an entry-level to a licensing purchase.  For example at some point - whilst I doubt bandwidth will ever be an issue - I'll've more than 100MB worth of stuff with them, so I will step-up to a paid-for plan.

I can see Russ's point of view that $8000 for a CF10 upgrade is too much to shell out at once, especially to provide free hosting.  I think Adobe should help ISPs out here.  Actually I think in cfmldeveloper.com's case they should simply give them a CF10 licence for their free hosting plan, and then negotiate some sort of scalable licensing for anyone who wishes to take on a paid plan, or migrate upwards from the free plan.  There's always going to be a barrier for cfmldeveloper.com to cater for that first client who wants to go to CF10 - free or paid - because there's that $8k outlay. So what they're gonna say is "no can do, sorry".  This is not the hosting company's "fault", it's a problem with ColdFusion's licensing policy.  I think Adobe could really help themselves here by having a sort of SaaS-style model for licensing for hosting providers to encourage them to facilitate their clients using the latest CF version.

Another side of this is that I don't think Adobe should be sitting back and waiting for the likes of me being "the first person to be asking for CF10" licensing.  Because when they do that, the initial answer is going to be "no, sorry, we can't do that", which is a bit of a negative vibe.  The ColdFusion community doesn't need negative vibes or barriers to entry.  That's the last thing we need at the moment.  Adobe ought to be being proactive.  When CF10 went into public beta they should have been doing the rounds of any hosting provider that offers services like cfmldeveloper.com's (specifically community-focused free plans), and offering to give them CF10 licenses to both spread goodwill in the community, as well as facilitating early / quick adoption of the latest ColdFusion version, get people using an excited about the new features, and being able to showcase them to the public.  This is basically free marketing for ColdFusion.  And builds community goodwill.  It's just a win for everyone.

Again, I'm only seeing this from the outside, and there's probably more to it than my superficial exposure to things can know, but equally I think my assessment is going to be one that people outside of Adobe's walls will be seeing, so it's probably relevant.

But hopefully this might strike a chord with Adobe, and we might get to see some CF10 community licensing out there.  Fingers crossed, anyhow.