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Crazy idea for consulting specialization?

Not long ago, I had a job where I traveled to various sites, and installed, and configured a particular enterprise-level software application. The installation included installing/configuring Oracle, JBOSS, Java, and the application itself. I also did, very minimal, user training.

Would I be able to make a consulting practice doing something like that? I was thinking of charging $500 a day plus expenses.

BTW: I have significant experience with UNIX, and Linux.
walter byrd Send private email
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
Yes, you probably can.  However, $500/day is too low.  Most companies I've worked for charge at least $1,000/day for onsite installation and training services plus travel expenses.  They also charge between 1/2 day or a full day for travel to/from the client site depending on travel time and distance.

The problem is that you will probably only be able to work 2/3 of your time - the other time will be either in the air traveling or out selling yourself to clients.

Good luck!  That kind of thing is a lot of fun.
Karl Perry Send private email
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
I've done that sort of thing for a specialized software company years ago (back in the early 90's). And remote work is a lot harder to do.  The travel can be fun, I guess. But you're so much less efficient when you can't control your surroundings.  You also can't multi task. If you're waiting for a 20 minute install you can't get something else started.  It's comparable to building a house on site vs. a manufactured home. The latter lets you control the environment (working in 100F weather or an icestorm) and lets you multitask ( cabinets arriving late for house #1?  start on the floor for house #2, etc.) 

I don't know much about Linux, so this may be a dumb question. But, is there any way you can do it remotely and ship them a box or do all of this remotely?

Joel mentioned something on the SO podcast about an external bit of hardware that provided remote access to a server that was completely independent of that server. I.e., you could log in to this device and watch the server boot up.

Windshield Time  is expensive and if you can eliminate it you've just lowered your costs and created a huge competitive advantage. Of course you're then completing with every other Tom, Dick and Harry doing the same thing but if you *can* get established there then you can also compete with the other guys doing the travel approach.

How about a hybrid approach?

You start out doing the remote work, get some references, then offer future customers the option of splitting some of the travel savings.

You can then compare the "remote" vs "onsite" work. Figure out how much higher your true costs are for "onsite" (not knowing the best inexpensive restaurants, lost productivity due to poor sleep in an unfamiliar hotel or due to jet lag, etc.)
Mr. Analogy Send private email
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
My Experience:
it is a well rewarded job if you are really able to configure and anticipate all the issues.
Only make sure to chose an app/so thahas a market.

Best of luck
Stray__Cat Send private email
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
walter byrd > Would I be able to make a consulting practice doing something like that? I was thinking of charging $500 a day plus expenses.

Since this type of stack is a pain to install (hence the consulting fees)... how about selling a plug and play appliance at no margin, and make money from a monthly subscription?

If you need to perform post-install customizing, look into VNC-style outgoing connections so as to go through the firewalls standing between you and your appliances. That way, you save money and headaches because you don't need to travel -> more money, lower prices.
ZeFred Send private email
Monday, May 25, 2009

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