Hosted Subversion Service: Advantages and Disadvantages

By Angsuman Chakraborty, Gaea News Network
Thursday, April 30, 2009

Subversion is a highly popular version control system used worldwide. It succeeds CVS and aims to rectify its shortcomings. Subversion, like any other version control system, is used to maintain current and historical revisions of files such as source code, web pages, and documentation.

Hosted Subversion Service allows you to host your subversion server and data on a remote server which you can access securely (must-have feature) over the internet. Most hosted subversion service has a minimal free plan followed by a paid subscription.

We have previously posted comprehensive review of hosted subversion services. Today we will talk about the advantages and disadvantages of hosted subversion services in details.


  • Zero maintenance required for hosted services

    Imagine a situation where you do not need to maintain or keep a tag to your data, your networks and your system. Hosted Subversion Service providers do just that. Your information are safely monitored and updated and maintained with all the past changes by them.

  • Guaranteed auto-backup & easy recovery

    Suppose you were a bit lazy to make back-up files for some of your sensitive data and the next day you discover that the hard disks have crashed! I know its unfair. With their auto backup service you can get rid of many a sleepless nights. Thanks to Hosted Subversion Service.

  • Reliability by backup and redundancy

    • While sharing private track records of your own company with another who is serving you, you may be worried about the security and reliability issue. But some of the hosts have really made it a point to comfort you from that anxiety such as ProjectLocker who has started giving SSL encryption services to the client.
    • Subversion stores additional copies of data on the local machine, which can be an issue for very large projects or files, or if developers are working on multiple branches simultaneously. These .svn directories on the client side can become corrupted by ill-advised user activity or it can prove too much for even a good system to take the full-load. These Hosts take that problem away from your servers where you can actually work without slowing up and without any trouble.
  • Flexibility and ability to grow as rapidly as required

    It is perhaps the biggest positive that a Hosted Subversion Service Provider  proudly proclaims of and that is to provide flexibility on choice. Suppose I need a rich interface for my hosted site then I can opt for Beanstalk .If you are a no-nonsense person needing a lot of free space to dump files after files, then perhaps CodeSpaces with its nearly unlimited repository is the right one for you. Again, if you want a hosting service that is less expensive than these two then go for hosted-projects .

    So you see, there are so many hosts to choose from that you can actually get EXACTLY WHAT you want it to be. Keep an eye to this column, I assure you to come back with more in future.


  • Control Issues

    The current version of sub-versions only allows directory access control and lacks more granular file access control. That is not a problem for open source projects. But it does dramatically restrict the use of Subversion in projects where directories are structured to address functional separation among various objects. For example, directories like lib, src, bin do not address security and access control in most cases.

  • Recurring Cost

    An organization seeks Subversion Hosting Service mostly because they don’t have proper infrastructure or space or designs to do so on their own. But a free and standard Hosting Service is still not available in this market and so few bucks is what you will always have to shed to get the service.

  • Minor issues like renaming

    Sub-versions have that facility of renaming a particular file but only apparently. Eventually when you see the older version trees, you get to understand that the old name had remained and this can be very conflicting for subsequent editing.

  • The Line of Trust & Commitment

    This is a very debatable issue. Practically when an organization provides hosting of subversion service to any other company they are actually dealing with a lot of SENSITIVE and CONFIDENTIAL data. So the question is how much and to what extent can they be trusted?

    Then again, the problem is on the other side of the moon too. If the second party stops giving payments or let’s say opens up chapter 11, what can the Subversion Service Provider do? Can it delete all the sensitive data or what if the company wants to take away all the data from the hosting server one day? Should they allow it in case of No Payment?

    While the subversion service providers take a rather stubborn stand on important issues like, Liability and commitments on data damage and data loss, one can expect things to be equal and fairer for both the host and the service seeker in the future.

As we gradually try to wrap things up here, what can be THE bottom line for this topic? I would leave it for you. Judge it by yourself. If you don’t have a good in-house administrative team to manage complex things, then you should go for Hosted Subversion Service Providers. But if you have, Subversion maintenance is not a rocket science either. So love it or hate it but let’s not ignore the existence of a blooming new technology service. Let us welcome the versatile Subversion hosts with a little bit of more study and analysis. Put in your views here as it is very important for us and meanwhile, if you want, this is just the right dish you want to be served with at this moment. Take a look.

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