Friday, November 26, 2004

The original eureka moment

Earlier this month I mentioned that I was going to reduce the scope of my first version of Sydney and target a narrower market. That narrower market is one that I've personally been a part of and it's my own experiences that make me think it's a good first step for Sydney.

During my years at my former day job I encountered a program which I'll give the codename Geneva (yes another codename). Geneva is a server based software system, used primarily by small to medium businesses, that has established itself as the premier reasonably priced solution in it's field. I was responsible, amongst many other things, for maintaining a Geneva server for several years and was very impressed with it's features and reliability.

There was one operation though that Geneva took the easy way out with in the area of long term data storage and retrieval. Because of this I would often find myself recovering data stored in Geneva for staff who had no means of accessing it themselves.

It was after a long session of manually sifting through this data that I had my eureka moment. If this data currently stored in Geneva could be made accessible to users, then my time and the time of others like me could be devoted to more important tasks (such as resetting passwords and teaching people when to double click and when to single click).

It wasn't a quit your day job straight away sort of idea but over the next few months the vision grew in scope from a simple add-on to Geneva to an industrial strength distributed platform for storing all sorts of unstructured data. Support for Geneva would be just one small aspect, if I wasn't too busy catering for the big end of town that is.

Over the past few months you've been witness to me reversing my thinking on this and now once again Sydney will be an add-on to Geneva. There's been some time wasted on building some now somewhat redundant infrastructure but that will hopefully pay dividends for building future releases.

Sydney's design is much more open than it was originally and should be easier to extend than if it had been designed solely with Geneva in mind. After this first Geneva specific version I'll start by adding support for Geneva's competitors, with each release incorporating more of the big picture features. Perhaps one day I'll approach my vision of a full bells and whistles Sydney that doesn't need to attach itself to another product to justify it's existence.


At 10:40 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


Now you're on the right track. With more reasonable goals and targeted market, you may bring Sydney to market faster, which is a great thing. Now try to reverse the order of the things. Instead of spending months developing and testing it, comfortably, to later on discover if there is or not a niche for it, do the reverse. Go out the streets, and try to convince some business owners of the importance of your product, and pre-sell it to them with a huge discount. Then you will have
- customers
- beta testers
- assurance that there is a niche indeed

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