When I first thought about Tuscany, this was the first thing that sprang to mind: Hosted Team Foundation Server (TFS). I sensed that developers in small organizations want to have private access to TFS features such as check-in/check-out, defect tracking, and so on without having to set up and administer TFS itself (which by all accounts is still too hard for the typical developer with 20 free minutes). The more I looked into this scenario, the more excited I grew: based on my customer conversations there were opportunities to introduce hosted stress/load testing services, hosted security penetration testing services, and a host (pun mildly intended) of others, or to enable someone else to offer those services.
But as I checked out the current offerings for hosted SDLC services, I found that there aren’t many and those that do exist don’t seem to be highly successful (please note: things like Sourceforge aren’t in this scenario because this scenario is focused on “private” hosted services). There are a few companies that do offer such services for a fee, but more common is a hoster offering “free” access to a CVS repository along with whatever hosting package you purchase.
Then I looked at the customer requirements for doing something like this by conducting over 30 customer interviews and found that the bar for introducing such a service would be exceptionally high, particularly when it came to ease of use – basically, using this product had to be as easy as signing up for and using a Hotmail account. Then I looked at the operational requirements for running a product like TFS in a shared hosted environment and I was struck at the level of technical difficulty of running any software in shared hosted environment is tremendous – provisioning, management, security are all tremendous worries.
So what’s the un-overengineered solution?