Software as a service for your development project infrastructure
For a small-to-medium size company, it makes a lot of sense to externalize infrastructure code such as source code management, issue tracking, project wikis, and so on. All of these tools need server space and admin time, which of course costs money.
Atlassian, for example is offering JIRA Studio, which comes with hosted instances of JIRA (bug tracking and project management), Confluence (wiki on steroids), Fisheye and Crucible (code browser and awesome code review tool) and a Subversion repository, with a very modest price tag (starting at around $25 per user at the time of writing). They are even throwing in GreenHopper, a very cool JIRA plugin that transforms JIRA into a graphical Agile project management tool. All that's missing is the Continuous Integration tool (Bamboo integrates very smoothly with this stack, but I guess they are still working on the best way to virtualise a CI instance, which is quite an interesting problem in itself). Hosting is done by Contegix, who are a very competant bunch indeed. They do great Grails hosting as well.
The marketplace would be no fun without a bit of competition, however. Collabnet, the company behind Subversion, have their own hosted "ALM" infrastructure offering called TeamForge. I'm not familiar with the details of this package, but it appears to contain a suite of packaged open source tools, including (naturally) a Subversion instance, Trac for issue management and for the project wiki, a Hudson instance preconfigued with heaps of plugins for Continuous Integration, and some sort of Eclipse integration. It also comes with support for Cloud-like deployment for testing, and release workflow support. The tools appear to be bundled together and managed through a single web interface. The cost is apparently comparable to the JIRA offering. The focus is a little different from the Atlassian offering, but this package too looks quite compelling, and worth investigating.
I find both these offerings, and this trend in general, very appealing, in a Tayorian sort of way. Specialised hosting companies will be able to administrate your software infrastructure more efficiently and at less cost than you, because that's their job - they do it all day. Why not let them worry about keeping your JIRA and Subversion instances up and just get on with the coding, which is, after all, your job!
(Disclamer: I am not an employee of any of these companies, though Wakaleo Consulting is an Atlassian partener and I do know a few Atlassians.)
Java Power Tools Bootcamps in London, Auckland and Wellington
If anyone wants to catch me in London, I will be over that way between the 6th and 10th of July for the first London session of the Java Power Tools Bootcamp, that I am running with the folks from Skills Matter. There are still a few places left for this session, so if you want to come up to speed with the latest all-round development lifecycle tools and techniques, and learn how to set up a development infrastructure and build environment that kicks butt, come along!.
"Probably the best training course I've been on."..."Not just how to write Java code but the 'business end' - how to build, test, deploy, manage and monitor"..."One of the best and most useful courses I have attended. And they didn't even try to sell me anything!" - Coming soon to London, Wellington, Auckland, Canberra and Sydney - Get up to speed with the latest and coolest in Java tools and best practices! Sign up on the 2009 season of the Java Power Tools Bootcamps.