• A DreamForce 2010 Look Ahead

     

    Next week I’ll be heading (along with around 30000 of my closest friends) to San Francisco for the epicness that is DreamForce. It’s the first year I’ll be attending the event in person, having followed it remotely in its…

  • Cloud2, Chatter2, I’m Kind of Over Anything2

     

    After Larry Ellison’s dismissal of salesforce.com as the wrong sort of cloud at Oracle’s open world conference this week, it’s sure going to be interesting to hear what salesforce CEO Marc Benioff talks about when he takes the stage…

  • Ubuntu Is Ready For A Multi-Touch Future

     

    As more and more touch based devices flood the market, open source community is looking for support to such devices in the Linux distros. Ubuntu is almost ready to take on the proliferation of such devices in their upcoming Ubuntu 10.10.10 (Maverick Me…

  • OSCON Week: Openstack.org, A Game Changer?

     

    Yesterday, we saw the announcement by Rackspace that they have joined hands with NASA and 25 other companies to create Openstack.org, an open source cloud community. Rackspace also announced that they are open sourcing their entire cloud stack and give…

  • After Dilly-Dallying For A While, Microsoft Jumps Into Private Cloud Business

     

    After sending confusing signals for some time, Microsoft firmly jumps into Private Cloud game with their “Azure Appliance” announcement today at their Worldwide Partner Conference at Washington DC today. In June this year, I quoted an interview given b…

  • Azure Launches Cloud in a Box, But this one might be more than just CloudWash

     

    Big news today was the announcement by Microsoft that it is releasing Azure technology to some hardware vendors. The ideas of this is to create a Windows Azure platform appliance that will form (according to Dell, one of the…

  • Do You Sell Multi Year Contracts?

     

    Photo Credit: Pandell.comOne of the key selling point of SaaS is the pay as you go model. In fact, some people even consider this to be part of the very definition of cloud computing. Yesterday, Phil Wainewright wrote a post about SaaS vendors selling multi-year contracts. He quotes a talk given by CEO of Workbooks.com, John Cheney, at the EuroCloud UK meeting where Mr. Cheney talks about the advantages of selling such multi-year contracts to the customers.

    He argued that the high startup costs of operating and growing an as-a-service business generate such a huge funding requirement that you have no choice but to sell one-, two- and three-year contracts to get cash in the business. Booking long contracts doesn’t increase the bottom line — the revenue can only be recognised as it is incurred — but getting the upfront payments in the bank certainly boosts the cash balance.

    This is not a new argument per se. Salesforce.com took the same approach when they were faced with crunch after the dot com bust. In fact, we can even attribute the longevity of Salesforce.com to this move to selling multi-year contracts (Read Marc Benioff’s book Behind The Cloud for more information on this strategy by Salesforce). In fact, I also share Phil Wainewright discomfort towards this approach but I also how this could help a SaaS startup plough through the marketplace with limited access to cash.

    I am not religious on the pricing model as such. However, i feel that a customer, at least in the initial stages, will be empowered if they stick to the pay as you go model. Once they are convinced about the service and reliability of the vendor, they could go for a long term contract. I am pretty convinced on the right path from the buyer point of view. However, I would like to hear from the SaaS vendor side. If you are a SaaS vendor, I would request you to take the following poll. I would also appreciate if you can offer your thoughts on the topic in the comments below.

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  • Cloud Computing – Scrap the Term?

     

    OK – So this is going to be contentious… ah well, I’ve never shied away from that. I wonder if it isn’t in fact time to ease off on the whole “Cloud Computing” term. While this might sound a little heretical, bear with me here…

    I’ve been running a bunch of CloudCamps around the place – and a common issue I’ve come up against is being part of sessions where half the crowd are talking high stack level stuff, while the other half is talking infrastructure. It’s easy to see how this occurs – the term “Cloud Computing” covers a huge variety of things – from customer applications, down to the millions of Amazon servers spinning away – along with everything in-between. It’s not surprising there’s sometimes a disconnect between people involved in the cloud.

    In the early days of the cloud (hey – a whole few years ago) we needed a term we could hang our hats on – something that was all encompassing and, to a certain extent, something that let us find some commonality in the fight for legitimacy against the legacy vendors and their well articulated, and well funded FUD.

    But we’re in a different world now – everyone does cloud, from the most traditional vendor to the smallest startup. Cloud is, to a greater or lesser extent, the default and because of that the term becomes problematic.

    This sounds a little funny coming from someone who edits on of the preeminent Cloud blogs, runs Cloud events and attends pretty much every cloud focused event – while I think the term cloud still has legs, I believe its days are numbered. When we’re all doing cloud, and there’s simply nothing else, the term will fade into our collective memories. As Ric Telford from IBM said in his Cloud Connect keynote in San Jose:

    in five years time, cloud will be the new normal

    Admittedly that was pretty much the only thing that Ric said that wasn’t tainted with what was a recurrent problem at Cloud Connect, CloudWash. It seemed that every traditional vendor was calling their product cloud this or cloud that, whether or not there was anything ever remotely cloud-like about it. As I remarked during one of the vendor pitches sessions:

    cloudrinse

    and:

    cloudwash

    And don’t believe for a moment it was only IBM that was talking this way – a number of other vendors were taking a similar line: Oracle, HP and Dell to name just a few.

    Of course dropping the cloud moniker won’t result in marketing departments all across the globe jumping on the latest theme du jour, but perhaps it’ll lessen the hype. After all the cloud is really to good to be wasted…

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  • RightScale Offers Gaming Edition

     

    Cloud Brokers are service providers who sit between the user and the cloud to offer additional value add on top of the cloud. The research firm Gartner lists

    • adding services like security and management on top of the cloud
    • aggregating the services of customers over many different cloud platforms
    • arbitrage between the cloud services making the marketplace competitive

    as three opportunities for Cloud Brokers. One such company is Rightscale, a California based company founded in 2006 and having launched close to 100K servers on the cloud. They are one of the largest Cloud Brokers helping companies of all size and shapes take advantage of the cloud. Rightscale already supports AWS, GoGrid, Flexiscale, Eucalyptus and Rackspace. They also support VMWare’s vCloud and announced plans to support Windows Azure. In my opinion, they are one of the most agile companies out there in the space and you can know this by just listening to their CEO, Michael Crandell, talk. His enthusiasm for Cloud Computing is truly infectious.

    Yesterday, they announced Rightscale Social Gaming Edition to support companies building games on top of the social networks like Facebook, Myspace, etc.. Three of the biggest social gaming companies, Zynga, Crowdstar and Playfish, use Rightscale to manage their infrastructure on Amazon EC2. As a result, eight of the 12 most popular games on the Web today, with a total of over 77 million daily active users, run on RightScale, including FarmVille, Café World, Mafia Wars, FishVille, Happy Aquarium, Pet Society, PetVille, and Restaurant City.

    Sensing an opportunity, Rightscale tweaked their management platform to support social gaming requirements and have announced the release of Rightscale Social Gaming Edition. This edition provides pre-configured gaming deployments with “Facebook-ready” services and, also, comes bundled with consulting services to help companies deploy and manage on the cloud with ease.

    The basic configuration comes with a 6-server infrastructure including load-balancing, application, and database tiers. Once the application is either ported over or developed, it is extremely easy to autoscale and, even, rearchitect the setup for the exploding traffic. Another important addition to this edition is a dashboard that provides critical insight into the cost of each game through powerful real-time metrics. The cost of the basic version of Rightscale Gaming Edition is $3500 that comes bundled with 30,000 server management hours.

    This release once again emphasizes how Cloud Brokers can add real value to the users and how important they are to the success of cloud computing. Rightscale, with their agile approach to the cloud business, are positioning themselves for the long grind.

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  • CloudCamp Australia/New Zealand – Taking it to the Next level

     

    logo_cloudcampI’m pretty excited to tell that I’ve been appointed as Australia/New Zealand organizer for CloudCamp.

    For those of you who don’t know, CloudCamps are events that allow:

    early adapters of Cloud Computing technologies [to] exchange ideas. With the rapid change occurring in the industry, we need a place we can meet to share our experiences, challenges and solutions. At CloudCamp, you are encouraged you 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.

    CloudCamp was founded by an impressive line up of cloud computing aficionados and I’m stoked to be part of the next stage of CloudCamp development. See the video below that Dell Cloud Computing Evangelist, Barton George, made of CloudCamp founder Dave Nielsen:

    I attended the Auckland CloudCamp earlier this year and helped organize the Christchurch event. 2010 however should see CloudCamp broaden its base.

    I’m planning on there being 10 or so CloudCamps in my patch in 2010, and am keen to hear from people on the ground in different cities who would like to arrange an event. It’s a pretty easy thing to do – all you need is a venue, some refreshments, the odd sponsor keen to chip in to make it happen and, most importantly, some people who are interested and excited about what Cloud Computing means.

    Anyone with some ideas on potential locations, a willingness to pitch in, a desire to attend or any other interest in CloudCamp Australasia 2010, just flick me a line. Oh and any vendors who want to have a chat about sponsoring an individual event or, perhaps, the regional initiative – also feel free to get in touch! Already we have a tentative CloudCamp Canberra for the end of January, anyone who wants to be involved in that, or has any other suggestions, just flick me a line ben AT diversity DOT net DOT nz

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