Our unique combination of experience and expertise allows us to provide stable Content Management System (CMS) web site hosting for the Drupal project. Using a template based approach, organizations can have the benefit of a complete solution without the inaccessibe cost. While this solution is not perfectly tailored to each organization, we believe that we will provide a template that is usable for most co-operatives, non-profits and NGO’s, allowing them access to the very latest in collaborative tools.
In the last few years, Open Source community-based web site software has started changing how organizations collaborate and work together on the Internet. Where web sites were once a means of publishing information one-way to web-site visitors, today’s content management site (CMS) technology allows visitors to interact with other users, and also serves as an intranet (an internal communication tool) for organizations. Many commercial industries involving communities (such as the music recording industry) have already seen the value of these technologies and have invested significantly in commercializing them. Fortunately for the rest of us, much of the software running these CMS web sites is licensed as Open Source (GNU Public License) – which prohibits changes without also releasing the modifications for free. Thus there has been a great deal of corporate-funded development released back to the Internet community, specifically in the Drupal CMS platform, which has improved the quality and functionality of the Drupal system and made it a stable, popular and sustainable Open Source project. Due to the GNU license, this work is available to anyone to use for free. These days, Open Source software is often regarded in the field as higher quality and more secure, because it is reviewed publicly while in development. It is perceived by many as a fantastic value compared to commercially available products, which are very expensive and do not have the benefit of the public review.
Not-for-profit organizations, especially those with limited budgets, are naturally drawn to using the free tools to save cost. They often identify a clear synergy between Open Source philosophy and their own organizational values.
Unfortunately, the reality of the situation is that there are so many available options and software packages that it is very unlikely an organization will choose the best ones, or even ones that will ever work properly for them. Even once an organization has decided on the a platform such as Drupal, there are almost limitless options and thousands of contributed projects, each in a different state of maturity and stability. Careful research is required by specialized IT personnel to evaluate each part of an organization’s web-site needs and how it fits together with the other parts when selecting which community contributed projects to include. A critical eye must be trained on available solutions to not only select the one that meets the organization’s requirements but also one that is a healthy Open Source project: one with active and committed maintainers and that promptly addresses security concerns. Beyond the selection of which software to use, there is also the challenge of IT infrastructure for developing and testing a new site and keeping an existing site up to date. Figuring out not only the organizational structure but the politics behind each project can be bewildering or outright impossible for the average organization.
Few companies exist that offer the type of service we offer. Usually, several in-house IT staff are required, and considerable time needs to be spent by these staff researching the appropriate technology choices. Then there is the problem of local web site hosting. Hosting a CMS-driven web site requires more expertise and some specialized setup. While it is possible to get very aggressively priced, easy to use web site hosting in the U.S.A., it is very hard to find similar service offerings in Canada. Organizations that also need Canadian-hosted e-mail face even more costs, and often end up with an expensive piece-wise solution. We believe our co-operative answers these issues and provides a solution for many co-operative, non-profit and community-based organizations in Canada and beyond.