I wrote briefly about US-based Informative Graphics‘ ProjectDox in July 2006. Today, thanks to Randall Newton’s AECnews.com (Informative Graphics Spins Off ProjectDox), I learn that IGC has created a subsidiary, Avolve Software, to manage ProjectDox opportunities, leaving the parent company to focus on its file visualisation products (eg: its Brava! viewer, etc).
Looking at the website, it appears ProjectDox has two primary uses: first, it can be used as a web-based project collaboration system; second, it helps local government organisations to manage planninig approval processes. It is not an on-demand or software-as-a-service (SaaS) solution. Instead, ProjectDox is positioned very deliberately as a locally-hosted product – “No subscription fees” trumpets the website; “No expensive subscription fees or monthly storage fees, and no per-user fees,” it continues.
This seems almost counter-intuitive, given the forecasts for growth in the SaaS solutions market, but it may well appeal to conservative contractors who are more comfortable managing everything themselves (others may still prefer to outsource at least this aspect of IT management so that they can concentrate on their core business: building things). No doubt SaaS competitors to ProjectDox will be brushing up their arguments in favour of SaaS: 24/7 system availability, no hardware/software to update and manage, better use of existing IT resources, greater flexibility and scaleability, support costs included, economies of skill, data back-up, business continuity, etc.
The cost factor is debatable too. OK, no “expensive subscription fees” (instead, pay a substantial upfront license payment, plus the associated hardware and IT support costs), “no monthly storage fees” (instead, monitor your own storage capacity and buy additional hardware as required); “no per-user fees” (some SaaS vendors charge a flat-rate per project regardless of the number of users).
Last year, the ProjectDox pilot solution was likely to cost around $10,000, I believe. Then there are hardware requirements (according to a review and a datasheet I found on the web) which include a 2.0Ghz Windows 2000 Server or Advanced Server platform, a Microsoft SQL 2000 server, 1GB RAM and 100GB hard disk space; and don’t forget the cost of of an adequate internet ‘pipe’ to cater for all that file-sharing, back-up systems, database and system administration, support calls, etc. There was free telephone, fax, web and FTP support for the first 90 days, after which telephone and fax support required purchase of a maintenance plan (no costs given, and don’t forget the long-distance charges to call the support number). The review was positive but warned: “you’ll have to work with the vendor to make sure the price won’t empty your wallet.”
Now, let’s have another look at those subscription fees….