Clients will find you if they search our Consultants database. But in the beginning you will find clients by looking in your area for small organizations who need an online database-backed web site. You can demonstrate timeLines with a demo web site at skyBuilders.com, at your ISP's web hosting service (if they support server-side coding like ASP, PHP, JSP), or in your own shop (if you have good Internet connections).
skyBuilders.com will show you how to run multiple virtual timeLines sites on a single computer with a single IP address. We will also show you how to run a dual-homed box with dual NICs, dual DSL/cable modem connections, and DNS load balancing. Your sites will be up as long as one of your connections is up. This will put you in a position of being a small web hosting service, especially suited to providing low-cost service to small non-profit organizations and associations. You may also colocate this machine at an Internet Data Center to maximize reliability and uptime.
You can offer this same expertise to a small organization that might want to host other like-minded organizations and cost-share their web investment.
Getting a client started with skyBuilders timeLines involves a number of financial and management decisions. Does the organization already have a web server running in house? If not, is their web site at an ISP they trust who can run database-backed web applications like timeLines? A dedicated web/db server at a hosting service can be expensive ($hundreds per month). Note that running a database at an ISP puts the data out of reach of direct database reporting, so an in-house server may be best for organizations with a database administrator.
Is a client prepared to make the financial and personnel commitments needed to run their own web server? They will need to buy server hardware, which is a commitment to a reliable hardware platform and operating system. Adequate server hardware starts at about a thousand dollars. Operating systems can be free (Linux) or supplied (MacOS). But on Windows, NT Server itself costs about $1000.
They will also need to decide on a relational database. This decision will be biased if they are already using a database system, even a desktop database like Filemaker Pro or Microsoft Access. These desktop databases cost a few hundred dollars. On Linux there are free databases like MySQL and PostgreSQL. Industrial-strength databases like Microsoft SQL Server can run to thousands of dollars, especially when Internet Connector licenses are included (needed to allow arbitrary numbers of users to access the database via the Internet).
A final factor is the need for a secure high-speed Internet connection 24 hours a day. DSL and cable modem connections are now just about $100/month including the static IP address needed for a web server. Consumer connections usually have only dynamic IP addresses (DHCP), unsuitable for a web server. Secure means you need a digital certificate to encrypt https requests. A certificate costs about $125 per year.
In our consultant tutorial you will learn how to set up an organization to work with timeLines core modules. If organizational information is currently in a relational database (even modest desktop databases like Filemaker Pro or Microsoft Access), implementation of timeLines may consist of making that database accessible via ODBC and SQL calls from the timeLines web server application. The database will be moved to a secure web server, with a high-speed Internet connection. If organizational data is in spreadsheets or an accounting package, data conversion programs can move it to a new online version in a relational database.
The main data needed to get started is about people. Every member of the organization (from employees to outside contacts) who wants to access timeLines needs a data record where a password is stored. Since timeLines is "user-built" that information can all be collected from scratch online for an organization with no existing database. New members can be given a starting password that allows them to login, change their password, and enter the personal data - email address, phone number, etc. - needed to communicate and collaborate via timeLines.
You can customize a site with skyLinks and skyRockets that drill into specific Modules and Contexts of the timeLines web application and serve calendar-driven pages. Or, users may enter (log in to) the timeLines interface itself and access any modules permitted by the site adninistrator.
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