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Ringside to offer first open-source 'social-application server'

Start-up is shaking up the social-networking market well before it has hit commodity status, challenging the notion that open source can't innovate.

Ringside Networks

I guess it was just a matter of time before Bob Bickel, Rich Friedman, and other former JBoss employees started another application server company. Who knew, however, that they'd launch the world's first open-source "social-application server"?

What the heck is that? Well, for one thing, Ringside Networks is certainly an innovative use of open source. For those who think that open source can't compete and innovate new markets, Ringside is about to put that theory to the test.

According to a data sheet the company provided me, to be distributed at Ringside's formal launch at next week's Open Source Business Conference, this is what the product does and is:

Ringside Social Application Server is the first open-source platform that enables Web site owners to build and deploy social applications that operate with existing Web site content and business applications while seamlessly integrating with social networks such as Facebook.

This provides three primary advantages:

  • Web site look and feel is exactly what a company uses today.
  • Social applications can be designed and customized to be more meaningful to a given Web site's users and business--rather than be limited to standard default capabilities.
  • Existing corporate Web site content and business applications can be made socially aware.
Ringside Networks

This sounds incredibly cool. It means that existing corporate Web sites can be made socially aware. I'm not sure this is even possible with Ning, but certainly not to the extent that an open-source platform like Ringside offers.

It has a range of cool features like the ability to gather "social intelligence. In other words, the Ringside platform allows business owners to gain insight into the social graph of users, relationships, groups, interactions, and sharing that is occurring on their Web site. Suddenly, socializing becomes smart business.

In my work with Alfresco, I see demand for this sort of application growing stronger by the day. Kudos to Ringside for recognizing the market opportunity and to David Skok at Matrix Partners for funding it. This is one of the most interesting open-source opportunities in the market today.