Over the last year, you've heard me talking about how we're moving all of our Internet services to an Xserve running Web Crossing, which is an integrated suite of Internet servers, all backed up by a high-performance object-oriented database and its own programming language. The amount of custom code necessary for our specific situation has caused the project to take longer than would be ideal, but overall, I've been extremely happy with the functionality Web Crossing has provided.
However, it's been hard to recommend Web Crossing to individuals or small organizations because of the cost and complexity of setting up your own server - after all, this is the same software that runs discussion forums for the likes of Apple, Salon, and the New York Times, so power and flexibility has long trumped a straightforward interface.
Now Web Crossing, Inc. has addressed those concerns with Site Crossing, a new hosted service that provides a simple and integrated interface for managing interactive services like mailing lists, discussion forums, weblogs, polls, a shared calendar, file libraries, slideshows, and live chat. Such complex features can be difficult to add to existing Web sites, particularly in conjunction with a unified user database and access lists (to keep private sections away from the public), making Site Crossing useful as an adjunct to an existing site. Site Crossing also provides full email, FTP, and Web services, making it possible to build an entire Web site around Site Crossing.
The Basic account costs $8 per month for 3 of the interactive services, 1 GB of storage space, and 10 GB of data transfer per month. The $14 per month Standard account offers 6 interactive services, 2.5 GB of storage space, and 20 GB per month of data transfer. Lastly, the Advanced account will set you back $22 per month for 12 interactive services, 6 GB of storage space, and 30 GB of data transfer per month. If you need even more, full-fledged Web Crossing hosting is available. You can also purchase your own private domain name and have Web Crossing host it for $20 per year. You can try Site Crossing for free for 30 days, so it's easy to see if it will meet your specific needs.
Obviously, there are oodles of companies offering Web hosting plans with a variety of features and at a variety of price points, but I think Site Crossing and its interactive features are worthy of consideration particularly by clubs, schools, and other small groups without a lot of resources or technical experience. Such groups often run into difficulties with the decisions of where to host a Web site that won't disappear with a volunteer, and with the problem of technically sophisticated members leaving. I can think of a few organizations we're involved with that could use such a service.