Derek Richardson wrote:
A third category of user (in addition to buildout-mavens and installer-people), perhaps specific to Plone, are systems integrators. These folks may have considerable knowledge of Plone and technical skills in some areas, but may not be buildout-mavens or even know (or want to know) Python. They may be text-averse, not wanting to manipulate a buildout.cfg. They may not want to root through the Python code of less-documented recipes to figure out configuration options. They may simply want a less-steep learning curve. They may have complex needs that they understand from a system-administration viewpoint, but may not want to learn Plone behind-the-scenes, which includes buildout. I am not defending these people's choices to not learn buildout (or Python). The simple fact is that these people exist in sizable numbers in the Plone community and their needs are important. We heard from them loudly after the 3.0 release and at the PSPS. We need to address their concerns.
That was a lot of may's.
That is the value in general. I, personally, have a more specific itch to scratch. I'm interested in what I call Plone-on-Demand, the ability to host Plone sites as a service. I want people who don't know Python or Zope or Plone, who simply want a website, to be able to go to a web page, fill in some options about what they would like in their website (skin, functionality, etc), and, 20 minutes later, get an email saying 'Here's the url of your new website - enjoy!'. This competes with similar services built on PHP at providers like godaddy. I want this for my university, which has a need for a web hosting solution and I think Python/Zope/Plone is appropriate. The buildout builder is a step in this direction. If I write the infrastructure for Plone-on-Demand, I intend to open-source it. It could be used by other service providers who currently shy away from Zope and Plone. It can also be used to provide demo sites for evaluation, perhaps deployed on a public grid.
You're not alone here; there are a lot of people in the community that are trying to provide Plone on-demand much like you describe (and maybe profit!), but so far I haven't seen any services being launched.
The technical aspect can be overcome. I think the primary difficulty is upgrades, extensions and migrations. Some are trying to tackle this by supporting a software bundle and taking the steps to properly maintain this bundle.
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