Want to let users test-drive your server apps? Devops outfit ComodIT has a button for you.

ComodIT, the Belgian cloud management startup that’s targeting enterprise devops with its automated virtual machine provisioning and configuration product, just released a rather handy tool for developers and users of server-based applications. It’s a “direct install” button that  developers can put on their website, allowing the user to either easily install the app on their existing on-premise or cloud server, or to test-drive it for free in a cloud-based ComodIT VM.

The feature can already be seen in ComodIT’s own application store and on the website of lifestreaming platform Storytlr, but is now available for anyone to use. In effect, it makes the installation of server-based apps a lot more like that of mobile apps – an almost one-click experience that even allows users to “share” the apps in question on Facebook(s fb) and Twitter.

comodit_team_september2012“You can embed the application – just copy and paste [a few lines of Javascript] and put it on your website. You add the direct install blue button and you allow anyone to install that application directly from your website,” ComodIT CEO Daniel Bartz told me.

Bartz suggested this approach would overcome the traditional open-source server software installation experience, which sometimes involves multi-page tutorials. The test-drive aspect is pretty neat too: when that option is chosen, ComodIT basically installs and runs the app for a free 100 minutes in an Amazon(s amzn) EC2 micro instance.

It makes marketing a bit easier for developers and of course it steers people towards ComodIT’s own distribution platform and wider services. As Bartz explained:

“When you click ‘direct install’, in fact you connect to ComodIT and you create a server on which you will install an OS and all the things that have to be done for installing applications. We’re automating the manual procedure – we do this like we do for any other pieces of ComodIT following the devops approach.

“Behind the scenes, we’re activating recipes for deployments. Within your ComodIT account you have access to all the recipes and descriptions that you usually have. The next step is deploying the application not only for testing but also for production, with all the ComodIT features like autoscaling and autobackup.

“We bring the user onto the platform and, as we have a business model based on the number of servers you’re managing with ComodIT, if you have more users installing the application through the direct install button, we’re a happy provider.”

It’s a smart idea and one that could give ComodIT a boost as it competes with the likes of Opscode and Puppet Labs (see disclosure) for devops’ attention.

ComodIT was a finalist in our Structure:Europe LaunchPad competition last year. This year’s Structure:Europe will take place in London from 18-19 September and, if you can’t wait until then for a high-level get-together around cloud automation and other such topics, don’t forget that our San Francisco Structure event is coming up on 19-20 June, too.

Here’s a video explaining how ComodIT’s direct install button works:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r12lEJRkofA&w=560&h=315]

Disclosure:Puppet Labs is backed by True Ventures, a venture capital firm that is an investor in the parent company of this blog, Giga Omni Media. Om Malik, founder of Giga Omni Media, is also a venture partner at True.