Cloud cover

Joke: “Why did it take God 7 days to create the Earth?”

Answer: “Because He did not have the install base.”

This “joke” was all too common in my house growing up. Dad ran an enterprise software company.

Amazon, Microsoft and Google are all competing for the cloud. Each is taking a different approach. Google is targeting the enterprise through its application suites and the ability to host email through Gmail. It is a very cool feature that I use and love. It is much more consistent than the Microsoft offering that I also use to access my University of Washington accounts. I do have to question the readiness of the enterprise and the cloud; however, when I see advertisements from Google touting their enterprise presence with a customer list full of universities. It is more likely that the raw horsepower of the cloud that Amazon provides is the immediate future of the enterprise. Applications will evolve from that. Interestingly enough Amazon launched Simple Email Service (SES) into the AWS family this week.

Google in China

What it’s not willing to compromise is the security of the cloud, on which its entire business rests.
~ Nicholas Carr

Carr is spot on, again.

Check the full article here: Nicholas Carr: Rough Type


Another fine read on the topic from Forbes. Different take. Google has been beat by Baidu. This incident put the issue over the top.

Article here Forbes: Why Google Is Quitting China

Cloud SLA

Taking a look back on Cloud Service Level Agreements (SLA) from approximately a year ago and seeing what has changed for the enterprise. The SLA is nothing new and have existed in information technology for many, many years. I can tell you firsthand that SLA remains critical to the selling proposition. The questions on uptime, outages and compensation do not have easy answers. It would be nice to see an industry standard on what 99.999% actually means.

The SLA is now out in the open to all users of a cloud utility. There is still an lingering question of uptime. Two significant changes in the past year have been the introduction of new cloud services, like Windows Azure, and the mass adoption of Twitter to report uptime experience in real time.You still do not have a meter or gauge detailing realtime usage or uptime. Concerns still remain around what actually constitutes an outage? A period of time? As a client, how would you prove it? If there was an outage and the client could prove it, how does the client receive compensation? These questions can be answered in as many ways as there are cloud or cloud application providers. It will be interesting to see how improvements to the cloud improve SLAs in 2010.

Spot Instances

Amazon AWS announced Spot Instances of EC2 a few weeks back. I have been very interested in this concept. Auction pricing should be natural for the cloud computing utility model. They will be selling spare capacity from moment to moment. The cloud is attractive since servers often site idle. Sharing that resource makes sense. “Spots” are an extension of the concept to keep AWS at full utilization. Win for AWS and customers. I look forward to seeing how this play out during 2010!

Great read on the Spot Market by Jonathan Boutelle, cofounder of Slideshare @ Gaming the Amazon Spot Market

More information on the AWS Blog: Amazon Web Services Blog

Is the enterprise finally ready for AWS?

Just got an invite to a webinar co-hosted by Cast Iron Systems and Amazon AWS. I have been intrigued by Cast Iron’s integration offering for the enterprise for sometime. Their initial concept of an integration appliance has played well in the market and they now offer full cloud based services as well. Most enterprises are finding the real challenge of “going cloud” to be the integration points inside their firewall. The Cast Iron appliance does a real nice job of bridging that gap. Their solution is rock solid. The next logical step is to bridge that gap to partner and leading utility cloud player Amazon AWS. The webinar should be interesting and worth checking out.

You can register for the webinar here.

Disclosure: The wife is employed by Amazon, but she steadfastly refuses to read my blog.

My $0.02 on SaaS

It has been clear for awhile that a major shift has been happening in enterprise computing. It has taken time to gain traction and momentum, but it looks like Software as a Service (SaaS) is nearly there.

Companies will look to adopt SaaS solutions for 2 major reasons:

  1. Lower costs
  2. Implement quickly

Cost structures are killing IT departments. The old enterprise paradigm just does not scale anymore. No huge capital investments. No new major hardware. No new major software. That also means that any SaaS purchase has to be “instant on.” No more hiring a Big 5 firm to take 6-12 months to roll out basic functionality.

Early adoption of SaaS has been in the CRM space, notably with There is a reason that Sales and Marketing were targeted first. These two organizations have the most dynamic processes in the company. They need to be able to react quickly. IT departments are not typically scaled to move so fast with fluid processes. A SaaS company comes in wiht a pitch of I can take this problem away from you and IT will likely bite. Just think about the personalities that are in Sales versus IT.

At the end of the day though, SaaS providers need expertise. Do not expect a company like to build out an enormous services organization. They are more likely to partner with providers of process consulting, training and integration for particular verticals and foreign markets. Note that this is not technical consulting. The focus will be on the process and how to get there.

Finally, expect that Sales, Marketing and in general CRM will lead future innovation in SaaS. Simply, CRM got there first.

That’s my $0.02.

Amazon Virtual Private Cloud Service

Amazon is introducing a new AWS service to extend to a virtual private cloud (VPC). Basically it offers the enterprise to extended an existing network via VPN to a logically isolated set of EC2 instances.

From my experience selling cloud-based services, this will play well with the enterprise. Security is critical for enterprises today, tomorrow and in the future. Cloud providers constantly have to get over the security hurdle — even AWS. VPC should be appealing to the enterprise since similar services are already established. Governments will also be interested.

Werner Vogel’s blog post: Seamlessly Extending the Data Center – Introducing Amazon Virtual Private Cloud

Coverage at TechCrunch: Amazon Eyes Big Enterprise Budgets With Virtual Private Cloud Service