• Cloud Computing And Wall Street


    Cloud Computing is slowly creeping into many different industries. It fits very well to the needs of Main Street. Will it fit well for Wall Street too? Here is a video in which Senior Analyst Kevin McPartland at The TABB Group talks about the scenario. (Video link from Datacenter Knowledge)

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  • Magazines On The Cloud: Barnes And Noble Should Get Their Act Together

    Barnes & Noble Nook

    Image by somenametoforget via Flickr

    Being a cloud evangelist and an eco-conscious person, I embraced the idea of ebooks early on. After playing around with Sony ebook reader for some time, I jumped over to buy Nook as it had wireless and 3G capabilities. Well, this post is not about Nook per se but my experience with Barnes And Noble eMagazine subscription for Nook. In short, it is a frustrating experience.

    For Nook owners, Barnes and Noble offers eMagazines and eNewspapers for subscription on their site. According to their website, readers will get  14 days free trial and their subscription will be charged at the end of 14 days. Their collection of eMagazines and eNewspapers are nowhere close to what Amazon.com has for Kindle but, nevertheless, I was bought into it because I have plans to go completely paper-free before the end of 2010.

    Screen shot 2010-01-18 at 12.47.24 PMOnce my Nook arrived, I logged into Barnes and Noble website and subscribed to couple of emagazines. In spite of their ad touting 14 days free trial, my credit card was charged. But I was ok with it because if I like the experience, I was anyhow going to pay for it. Later, I decided against one of the emagazines I subscribed and cancelled it on their site. After I clicked through the link, it gave me a notification saying that the subscription will be cancelled in a hour. It never happened. I went ahead and tried to cancel another magazine I had subscribed. The same thing happened. I gave them couple of days time and tried again. The same thing happened again. Frustrated, I contacted Barnes and Noble customer service through email and they replied back saying that the eMagazine subscriptions are handled through Zinio and asked me to get in touch with them (email content reproduced below. The names and order numbers x-ed out for privacy sake).

    We have received your inquiry regarding your order #’s 12xxxxxxx and 12xxxxxxx.

    We are sorry you are having trouble with your magazine subscriptions. Your orders were fulfilled by Zinio, our third party partner for digital magazine subscriptions.  The Zinio Team can provide you with answers to all of your questions about your subscriptions.

    Please contact Zinio?s Customer Service Center at 1-888-946-4666 or via email at: BNsupport@zinio.com 10AM to 9PM EST Monday through Friday. Email assistance will also be available between 12PM to 8PM on Sundays

    Visit www.bn.com and click on the options that appear in the upper right-hand corner to view information about your order.

    We look forward to your next visit.



    Customer Service Representative
    Barnes and Noble

    I was terribly frustrated because when I signed up, Barnes and Noble never told me that my emagazine subscriptions are processed through Zinio. Still, I contacted Zinio support through email and I got the following response.


    Thank you for contacting Zinio Customer Support.

    I apologize but Zinio does not handle eMagazine subscriptions for Barnes & Noble. We do Digital Subscriptions for them which can be viewed on a computer. The eMagazines are a different type of magazine that is for the nook or their eReader software. I’m sorry you were sent to us but unfortunately I will need to direct you to them for resolution. Since we don’t offer eMagazines, I can’t even see the order to help you cancel it.

    You can contact Barnes & Noble at 800-843-2665. I also copied them in on this email to assist them in handling this case and cases like it in the future.

    If I can be of further assistance, please let me know.

    Kind regards,

    Mxxxx Cxxxxxxxxxx
    Zinio Customer Support

    When I complained about my experience on Twitter, they took note of that and responded immediately saying Barnes and Noble has given me wrong information.

    @krishnan Nook mags are ‘eMagazines’, we sell ‘digital subscriptions’ on B&N, agents can confuse the two. Sorry you were given wrong info

    I really appreciate Zinio taking time to explain what is going on and this brings into focus some of the questions related to how business is conducted by Barnes and Noble in this cloud based, social media driven world.

    • Did Barnes and Noble learn anything about web based business, in general, and ebooks, in particular?
    • How are they going to compete with the poster boy of the web and leader of the Cloud, Amazon.com, on ebook readers, ebooks, emagazines, enewspapers, etc?
    • While Barnes and Noble took a long time to respond to my email, Zinio responded immediately during the weekend. When I complained about this issue on Twitter, Zinio was monitoring their brand and responded to me explaining the situation. I am wondering if Barnes and Noble even gets social media in this cluetrain based world of business.
    • Irrespective of whether it is a cloud business or a web business or, even, a traditional brick and motor business, training the customer service representative properly is imperative. Especially, when a company is venturing into a new kind of business, they have to go an extra distance to educate the customer service representatives properly about their offerings. Already consumers are confused about new technologies due to confusing levels of information from the media and if the customer service is going to mislead them further, it doesn’t augur well for their business.

    I am glad more and more companies are jumping in to offer services tapping the advantages of cloud (I am using the term cloud a bit loosely here) but it is also important that they do it right and not confuse the consumers.

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  • Enterprise 2.0 – Building the New Schoolyard for Bullies?


    I have a friend called Jennifer (name and details changed, obviously). At school she was a loner without many friend who, as loners often do, overcome loneliness by bullying smaller kids in the playground. Jennifer managed to gain “friends” by doing this, although they weren’t really friends, rather individuals who were scared that they’d become the target unless they joined in with Jennifer’s shenanigans.

    Well, luckily for her schoolmates, Jennifer grew up, studies and entered the workforce where she was forced, at least to a certain extent, to forego her bullying behavior in the interests of fairness, due process and the common good.

    Until today that is…

    You see the advent of social media in its various guises has given Jennifer the opportunity to once again throw her weight around and make life difficult for others. Involved in a part of an organization that makes extensive use of social media type tools, Jennifer has a wide following in her vocational field and uses this following to bully others the way she used to use her heft to do so all those years ago in the schoolyard.

    Now my enterprise friends will tell me bullying in the work place has always existed but social media and enterprise 2.0 tools have extended the reach an individual can communicative with – this is an unquestionably great thing when it comes to collaborating on specific projects, but it’s also a dangerous thing when used inappropriately.

    I’ve spent long time talking with Enterprise 2.0 practitioners, attending enterprise 2.0 events and hearing about the barriers to adoption. Generally we’re grasping to find either good case study examples of enterprise 2.0 being put to work or fixes for the oft mentioned barriers to adoption – none of however 9at least in public) are prepared to front up and tell the stories of Enterprise 2.0 gone wrong and used for ugly purposes.

    And in this we run a real risk – by burying our heads in the sane and not “outing” the dark side of social media, we play into the hands of those who view the blogosphere, Twitter and social media generally as a complete waste of space. If we don’t tell the stories, and develop ways of avoiding the pitfalls these tools enable, they’ll use the same tales to discount E20 outright.

    So here’s a plaintive call to those using social media generally and Enterprise 2.0 tools more specifically: Don’t hide the use-cases that feel uncomfortable, rather use them as case studies, develop solutions and show that like a community of old, so too can a virtual community stand up and police its own.

    Everyone would be a little happier if we did that…

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  • Living In The Clouds: Socialwok


    In this edition of Living In The Cloud Series, I am going to talk about Socialwok, a social networking layer on top of Google Apps for your domains. For someone like me who loves Google Apps because of my love for Gmail, I always wanted a social networking layer on top of Google Apps to collaborate efficiently with my partners in many different countries. So far, I didn’t come across something which doesn’t disrupt my workflow. When I came across Socialwok, I jumped in reluctantly but I was pretty amazed at how well it has been integrated with Google Apps. If you are a Google Apps user, I strongly recommend you to try out Socialwok.

    If you are a business using Google Apps, imagine having a secure private social network on top of it so that you can collaborate seamlessly with your employees, partners and outside clients from within Google Apps. Imagine the productivity gain from such an arrangement. Socialwok fits these needs and comes out as a winner. Unlike Zoho (disclaimer: Zoho is the exclusive sponsor of this blog but this is my independent opinion), Google doesn’t offer social features as a part of Google Apps offering. Socialwok closes the hole.

    As it is customary in this series, I will add a video of the app below

    As I usually do in this series, I will list out the pros and cons from my point of view.


    • Seamlessly integrates with Google Apps. You can insert all of the Google Apps properties and Google Wave inside Socialwok app
    • Runs on top of Google App Engine, thereby guaranteeing the infrastructure stability of Google
    • Awesome mobile version makes it more useful for the modern day business
    • Easy one click publishing options to other social networks like Facebook, Twitter, etc.


    • Still not ready for production stage but it is getting there
    • They haven’t advised the pricing yet. Though they assure you that the free version will stay and they will monetize on premium features, I would like to know what I am getting into with this app
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  • GDrive – A Rose By Any Other Name


    I posted late last year about some movements I saw happening in the short term around Google’s long fabled GDrive offering. Well it seems I was right (actually I knew I was right!), this morning Google announced it was allowing upload of any file times to be made within Google docs. While very sensitive to point out that this is not GDrive, for all intents and purposes it fulfils what we all expected GDrive would provide.

    This morning I had a briefing with Syncplicity CEO, Leonard Chung. Syncplicity has been working very closely with Google on this project for a few months now and, after the hype and hoopla dies away, it is interesting to look at what this move actually means for the landscape.

    I’ve followed Syncplicity for 18 months or so now – when I first came across them, it was safe to say that they were a provider offering cloud storage, with an interface wrapped around it. Today’s announcement see them shed that model entirely and now become the interface that brings together users storage islands of choice all in one place. It’s a smaller slice of the ecosystem, and that brings some inherent risks to Syncplicity, but they’re also broadening their footprint significantly.

    Why did Google chose Syncplicity? Currently there are 5000 customers shared between Syncplicity and Google, and those customers have around one million files synced – it’s a sufficient number to give Google proof-of-concept, and Syncplicity obviously manage to increase their footprint significantly with the partnership.

    I questioned Chung about the changing situation this brings to his business, the sands in the sync/backup/storage space are shifting fast and Syncplicity has deftly maneuvered with them. His response:

    Our key differentiator is in allowing users to view stuff across different clouds. While our initial approach was turnkey storage/syncing, our customers pushed us in this direction as they needed us to integrate with whichever way they prefer to store data

    One interesting thing to note about this deal is that Google is setting initial limits of 1Gb space and 256Mb maximum file size for its storage solution. (Regular users have 1 GB of free storage and can purchase more for $0.25/GB. Enterprise customer pay higher prices, starting at $17/year for 5 GB). Syncplicity users on the other hand can set their own storage size and have no file size limits – an interesting situation then arises when users chose to sync a particular folder onto Google if it contains larger files – in this instance the folder would appear within Syncplicity, and on all the devices that are synced with it, but would not in fact appear within Google.
    For this reason, and in something of a hidden blessing for Syncplicity, Google customers who chose to use the storage system are more likely to view their files via the Syncplicity interface as it will show all their files, regardless of which have actually been synced to Google. A minor point possibly, but one which will secure a few more eyeballs, and user habits, for Syncplicity. This is after all their core offering – the interface that ties together all the discrete island of storage a user may have.

    Another feature of this integration is that Google will follow the business rules Syncplicity uses for versioning control – in this way users get a consistent approach to versioning control across all their files.

    It’s exciting times – exciting for Syncplicity, interesting for Google and above all one step closer to cloud nirvana for us, the users.

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  • Cloudcamp Seattle – Cloudcamp Comes Back To Seattle


    Last year I covered Cloudcamp Seattle organized at Amazon HQ here. 

    Overall, it was an interesting collection of people talking about everything Cloud Computing. This unconference style camps will play a major role in promoting Cloud Computing with people who don’t know anything about it and it will also help us to advance the technology to suit the needs of enterprises and governments. Let the conversation continue.

    Well, the conversation is going to continue this year on Feb 3rd 2010 at Grand Hyatt Seattle. With Amazon ramping up their cloud computing offerings and Microsoft readying for an onslaught with Windows Azure, Seattle is the place to be right now. Cloudcamp is expected to be buzzing with folks from Microsoft and Amazon talking about the wonders of their technology. This is an ideal place for experts in cloud computing to dig deeper and there will be many sessions that could help individuals and business owners to understand how cloud computing can help them with their needs. 

    For those who are not aware of Cloudcamp, I would quote this from their website

    CloudCamp is an unconference where early adopters of Cloud Computing technologies exchange ideas. With the rapid change occurring in the industry, we need a place where we can meet to share our experiences, challenges and solutions. At CloudCamp, you are encouraged to share your thoughts in several open discussions, as we strive for the advancement of Cloud Computing. End users, IT professionals and vendors are all encouraged to participate.

    This year, there will be lightening talks from folks from AWS, Windows Azure, ReliaCloud and Enstratus. The rest of the sessions are opened up to the participants to decide on the topic, in a typical unconference style. I am one of the members of the official organizing team and if you have any questions regarding Cloudcamp Seattle, feel free to contact me. If not, just go over to the website and register for the events. If last year is any indication, the tickets will be sold out real fast. BTW, did I mention that the tickets are free of cost?

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  • Video: Google's Vision Of Cloud Computing


    From time to time, we highlight the visions of different vendors in the cloud computing marketplace. In this video, Google offers their take on Cloud Computing.

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  • Management, Bad Apples and Toxicity


    In my real-world life I have a number of different management positions with both commercial and not for profit organizations. Management is a really interesting topic, especially given the generational shift that a Gen X to Gen Y move is bringing.

    One of the organizations I’m involved with is voluntary, and that introduces an entirely new set of problems into the mix – the age old “they’re volunteers, not employees, so we can’t demand too much from them” chestnut keeps raising its head.

    One of the members in this particular organization has a bit of a tendency towards instability. She’s the sort of person who will be confronted by a minor dispute, internalize it and dwell on it for weeks only to have it morph and grow into an all encompassing tumor.

    After the last outburst, when colleagues and management were hit by the fallout from one of her regular outbursts, I got to thinking about organization management, and the impact a few bad attitudes can have.

    I came across (hat tip to SE) this article from management issues which discusses the impact of a “bad apple” on a team. It tells of new research which suggests that it only takes one toxic individual to upset the whole apple cart.

    The article defines bad apples as “people who don’t do their fair share of the work, who are chronically unhappy and emotionally unstable, or who bully or attack others – act like a virus, destroying team dynamics and creating organizational dysfunction.”

    Most of the advice from the article looks at ways to screen out these “bad apples” – psychometric testing, personality assessments and the like. But what when the bad apple is firmly sitting in the bowl and causing the other fruit to go off?

    My friend’s perspective on dysfunction within an existing team was as follows;

    …the fix in my eyes is very much like a bowl of apples when this happens and its too late… you can either throw out the whole bowl or take all of the apples out, wash the bowl and then wash the apples that can be salvaged and put the these ones back in the bowl. [but first you need to throw] out the ones that cant be washed and put back in the bowl.


    The earlier one deals with the apples going bad the less apples that need to be thrown out.

    I tend to agree with my friend, while laissez-faire is an appealing 9and easy) approach, it’s often one that is ultimately doomed to failure. As the article points out;

    Most organizations do not have very effective ways to handle the problem. This is especially true when the problem employee has longevity, experience or power. Companies need to move quickly to deal with such problems because the negativity of just one individual is pervasive and destructive and can spread quickly.

    So…. the bottom line is that in order to build a successful organization, you need team spirit. The disharmony caused through throwing out a few metaphorical bad apples is nothing compared to the damage those same apples can do to the bowl as a whole.

    There endeth the lengthy metaphor.

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  • Online Collaboration Tools – We Want Your Recommendations


    Here at CloudAve we’re firm believers in the power of collaboration. When Ben became part of a group looking at building a collaborative platform for data sharing for a local Government organization, it seemed logical to approach the project in a similarly collaborative way. Wanting to “eat their own dog food”, a joint group of individuals shared in the project; Mike Riversdale, Aaron Brunet and Ben all joined forces to work on a project initiated by a forward thinking local government staffer required to manage an extensive natural resource. The great thing about this particular project is that, without giving specifics out, it seeks to improve the management of a scare natural resource.

    So that’s where you, the readers, come in. Part of the project is to look at different collaboration tools that meet the requirements of the project. These requirements are; 

    1. Include the standard apps normally expected in an office suite (Word, spreadsheet, slides, schedule/calendar)
    2. Structures for data, documents, images, maps and recordings.
    3. Accessible via a browser, platform independent 
    4. Reliable (the app must work when required, not be intermittent)
    5. Material must be easily extractable / exportable (don’t want material locked-in to application tools)
    6. Responsive (must appear to the user that the app is local – quick / snappy in operation
    7. Economically priced (ie not free, but not super pricey either)

    Now, to be fair, we’ve sort of got the obvious ones covered – Google Apps, Zoho, Microsoft Office Live Workspace (such a snappy line) and the usual suspects – but what are online collaboration tools that you use and can’t believe no-one has ever heard of?

    Don’t hold back – TELL US!

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  • Andy Kessler and the Rise of Feudalism 2.0


    I wasn’t going to liveblog the defrag conference – I figured I’d partake more. The opening session this morning kind of changed my view of that. Andy Kessler gave the opening keynote that he entitled “Be Solyent, Eat People”…

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