Where is a Software Suite for a Startup?


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Image courtesy Flickr user striatic

Why isn’t there a suite of software that a startup could take off the shelf as a starting point for its own development environment? Our evaluation of the possible hosting solution for our software revision control system has been going well. However, that’s only a small part of what it takes to manage a software project.

What about project management or task management or tracking bugs or sharing documents?

One option is to use Microsoft BizSpark, which provides access to most of their desktop and server software at a nominal flat rate for a few years. The big catch is that when that time runs out, you are going to have to pay through your nose to keep using their software. And just as important, you are going to be locked into their ecosystem.

Keeping with my original goal of doing everything for free or at least cheaply, I Googled for various open source solutions. And there are many, but nothing comprehensive, meaning that you could cobble something together with various different pieces of software, but it wouldn’t be an integrated solution. And you’d have to take the time and effort of getting everything to work yourself.

Along the way I stumbled on a project management tool called Basecamp, which I thought we could possibly use together with our source control system. Basecamp  is hosted on the web and has a very nice user interface. The features are very simple but well designed and I could see how this would be very easy to use for small companies that don’t have project management experience. But, here’s the rub for me: its proprietary and I could never host the software on my own server.

Thinking that there just isn’t a standard suite available, I looked for other hosted solutions that would complement our hosted source control option. I had used Confluence as a Wiki and JIRA as a bug management tool before, so I thought those might be good options to consider. Thats when I stumbled on the Atlassian JIRA Studio which is a hosted development environment that provides source control with SVN, a wiki with Confluence and issue tracking with JIRA. Wow! Could this be what I was looking for??

Of course, there is a catch: the service isn’t free. However, for a small team it would cost $125 per month, which considering that you are getting a suite of integrated software plus customer support plus hosting, then it isn’t a bad price to pay. A big plus for this options is that you can purchase the software and then run it all on you own servers if you wanted to.

We’ve decided to sign up for the 30 day evaluation of their hosted studio product and try it out for a while. I’ll update the blog on the results of our evaluation.

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