Cloudy in Seattle

Very interesting presentations on cloud computing at Seattle Tech Startups tonight.

Jeff Lawson of Twilio gave an en depth presentation on how his company is levering AWS, Rackspace and other providers to bring telephony into the cloud. I was very impressed with their architecture. Honestly, it is better and more scalable than many enterprise architectures. I say this with 15+ years in the enterprise space. Twilio has figured out how to deliver a very robust enterprise class system on Amazon AWS. If others are able to replicate the Twilio model, the cloud will thrive in the enterprise. He offered some insights on cloud advantages. First, the cloud gives you the opportunity to determine the optimal cost performance trade off. Second, the cloud is great for load testing. Third, the cloud is great for the often overlooked failure testing. Given that services can die in the cloud, the uncertainties force better, more redundant design. Twilio is very sensitive to uptime since they are a consumer and provider of cloud services. Jeff ended his presentation with a very funny send up of the most commonly asked questions on the STS forum. Keep your eye on Twilio.

Steve Marx from the Windows Azure team followed. Personally, I have only thought of Azure as a pure cloud application type offering, but in reality Windows Azure will play in the commodity/utility space of the cloud as well in the higher value services of cloud applications. Windows Azure will run a forked version of Windows 2008 Server that has been optimized for the Microsoft virtualization stack and bootup time. Aside from running Windows Server 2008, Azure will be a fairly open system allowing other databases and programming languages. MySQL will be supported as well as other applications that do not require administrative access to the server according to Steve. Impressively, Windows Azure will offer easy scalability and rollback features baked into the “fabric” of the offering. Ease of use could be a compelling point for customers. Look for the Windows Azure SLA and business pricing in November of this year. Steve demonstrated Windows Azure by setting up a web service that used Twilio. Nice touch.

When I leave an event like this and my mind in spinning with the possibilities, it was worthwhile. Tonight was no exception.

Google Apps in the enterprise

Interesting move in the cloud application space yesterday with Google’s announcement of Google Apps Sync for Microsoft Outlook. An often touted problem of the cloud is “lock in”. The enterprise is looking to move beyond proprietary solutions and blend the best for their own competitive advantage. This announcement is the first step to solve that problem. It will be interesting to see how Microsoft responds.

Check the Official Google Enterprise Blog for more details: Use Microsoft Outlook with Google Apps for email, contacts, and calendar.

100th post. That did not take too long.

Interesting read at TechCrunch: Ray Ozzie Asserts…

Ray Ozzie Asserts Microsoft’s Position In The Cloud

Some interesting predictions and comments over at TechCrunch. Most of them centering on Amazon AWS vs. Microsoft. My opinion is that people are trying to define cloud as a something very specific when a more general definition is appropriate. Think “Transportation” rather than “Planes, boats, trains and/or automobiles.” Microsoft is in a good position as well as Amazon. No reason that both approaches will not be successful.

Sales Pipeline process changes…

In my experience, pipeline/forecast is one area of a CRM system that seems to change frequently. I have seen this both from the consulting side and as a user. Not going to comment on whether it is right or wrong, just that it happens, often, as a matter of fact in many organizations. Been spending some time getting up to speed with Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0 as I have not seriously looked at it since the 2.0 version. I am impressed with the Windows Workflow Foundation to automate much of the process configuration. The product has really come along way. The improvements could really automate a change in process so that users still actually use the CRM application. Happier users, better CRM.

Interesting read on competing clouds

Amazon, Microsoft improve their cloud computing game

Interesting read on AWS and Azure offerings. No surprise that Microsoft is offering SQL Server. One thought though is how many less sophisticated organizations run much of their business on Excel or Access. Is this really going to attract those customers?

The AWS pricing is so attractive that I will bet many organizations will bite. It is even tempting for a start up. Hmm…

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