Host your own or hold a third party?

Leigh responds to Stephen’s audio thoughts on spam and ‘control’ of content, saying that:

Stephen suggests that using free web based services leaves you open to spam and other sorded attacks on content, but I think hosting and managing your own software leaves you open.


Basically what I’m saying is that schools and other educational organisations by themselves, even their State departments, have a very limited capacity to keep up to date with effective content controls as well as running the systems they have in place. From my experience, having used their systems, and now the free web based ones, it seems to me the free web based ones offer a whole heap more peace of mind compared to getting, hosting and managing your own server and apps.

Which is of course of a great deal of interest to me not just because I’m fascinated by the whole ‘ownership’ issue (i.e. what is the impact of people having and account rather than their own .com for their blog, extend ad infinitum) but also because what Leigh’s hitting on is probably the number one question that I think a lot of vendors and educational establishments are asking themselves at the moment… to host & control their own systems or to use a third party.

Actually, I should qualify myself there a bit, It’s pretty simple at the bigger end of town (i.e. Universities, Departments)… partly because they’ve got the resources & know-how (ahem ;) to happily install, service and host their own. But for smaller institutions, schools, individual teachers… well, that’s a different kettle of fish. It’s *hard* to keep control over security issues, spam, uptime… to even understand where to start and how to get there without hiring someone specifically for the job.

Is this a long tail thing then? I’m certain that next generation of major online educational tools will arise out of use by individual teachers, schools and institutions but will these forever be (on the whole) beyond these groups and people to host themselves or will third party providers be the drivers here and will they be the next WebCTs etc. or will that only be achieved by large enterprise-install-yourself-systems?