Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The Open Cloud Manifesto

A worthy effort is underway to attempt to make the platforms that power the Cloud more open. It's called The Open Cloud Manifesto.

The following is stated in the conclusion to the manifesto:

This manifesto is meant to begin the conversation, not define it. Many details (taxonomies, definitions and scenarios, for example) will be filled in as the cloudcomputing community comes together.

We have outlined the challenges facing organizations that want to take advantage of the cloud. These issues lead to a call to action for the IT industry around a vision of an open cloud. We as industry participants must work together to ensure thatthe cloud remains as open as all other IT technologies. Some might argue that it is too early to discuss topics such as standards, interoperability, integration and portability. Although this is a time of great innovation for the cloud computing community, that innovation should be guided by the principles of openness outlined in this document. We argue that it is exactly the right time to begin the work to build the open cloud.

Of course with all efforts like this, there's always vested interests and differences of opinion. Here's a review of the Open Cloud manifesto fight to date. Most notable are the companies NOT involved.

Initiatives like the Open Cloud Manifesto should be applauded and supported, not hijacked by vested interests or the reason to create a competitive "standard". We've all seen over the years how big a distraction that can be to everybody.

ZeroTouch IT Ltd

Software as a service is still misunderstood

Software as a service is an excellent option for IT and business units to pursue. Mark Everett Hall (Computerworld) gives a good overview including a view on when this on-demand approach falls short.

Research firm Gartner Inc. validates the view [that SaaS is cost-effective], with certain caveats. For example, if acquiring a packaged application wouldn't require hiring full-time workers or adding hardware, a subscription-based software service might not make long-term sense. Gartner advises users to estimate ongoing operational costs of a SaaS offering for at least three to five years and compare them with the projected investment in a packaged application for the same period, including depreciation on capital expenses. It's important to look at SaaS's long-term budget ramifications, even in these glum economic times, when short-term thinking can be tempting.

Also check out:

The 5 myths about SaaS


Four companies that swear by software as service tell why

"...If you are a start-up now and you are buying a server, you haven't really done your homework..."

ZeroTouch IT Ltd

The implications of multi-vendor cloud-driven alliances

Greg Ness writes an intriguing article on the implications of multi-vendor cloud-driven alliances for enterprise IT pros.

...I expect to see broad alliances form between the incumbents, perhaps into 2-3 major camps. Cisco and VMware will lead one such alliance; IBM and Juniper may lead another; and there could be an open source virtualization alliance driven by Citrix/Zen and select service providers who want to build their own cloud club. In addition, there will be a range of service providers who will shift from hosting to cloud, and we could see some transformational surprises come from these camps as well.

I think both Amazon and Google will be limited to serving small and medium-sized cloud offerings, despite the buzz and the success of their core businesses (books and advertising). Let me add an Apple (iTunes-like) cloud driven by iPhones in a new netbook form factor as my wild idea for the month, along with a Cisco OEM netbook.

...We are about to see a fundamental shift in IT that could drive costs out of systems and networks and enable vast new potentials. Those who continue to manually manage their networks and systems will be victims of The CIO Shell Game.
Some very interesting viewpoints worth thinking about.

ZeroTouch IT Ltd

Monday, March 30, 2009

Not every "platform" is a Platform

In the long line of marketing buzzwords surrounding the Cloud Computing and SaaS (software as a service) markets is the general abuse of the word Platform. More and more services are describing themselves as PaaS solutions (Platform as a Service). I would suspect that in most cases they aren't.

Haut Tec wrote a great article on this the other day - SaaS: All PaaS are not created equal.

...The marketing for most products described as “PaaS” for SaaS today includes some combination of the infrastructure and technology levels of the stack and quite often impacts the way the application logic is expressed. They rarely address multitenant architecture or any of the SaaS functionality that impacts the operational needs of your service. Depending on how they are configured, they can often represent a certain amount of risk through “lock-in” to their service...

Definitely worth a read.

ZeroTouch IT Ltd

Sunday, March 29, 2009

SaaS Maturity Model

Following on from my recent posts on SaaS Metrics, it is useful to take a look at the maturity of SaaS solutions on six levels (as defined by Forrester Research).

  • Level 0: Outsourcing is not SaaS
  • Level 1: Manual ASP business models target midsize companies
  • Level 2: Industrial ASPs cut the operating costs of packaged applications to a minimum
  • Level 3: Single-app SaaS is an alternative to traditional packaged applications
  • Level 4: Business-domain SaaS provides all the applications for an entire business domain
  • Level 5: Dynamic Business Apps-as-a-service is the visionary target

For more detailed information on each level take a look at this article from Microsoft.

Any company delivering SaaS services should know which level on the maturity model they are. This is also a useful tool for consultants advising SaaS companies or traditional software companies thinking about making a move into the SaaS field.

ZeroTouch IT Ltd

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Thinking about Design

I've been thinking about Design a lot recently for a number of projects. During my study I came across this excellent blog post from Seth Godin. If you have any interest in the subject of design you should read this.

Return on Design - by Seth Godin

ZeroTouch IT Ltd

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The Crisis of Credit Visualized

Want to know how the credit crisis started? Here's a really good visualisation of the whole mess from Jonathan Jarvis.

The Crisis of Credit Visualized

Zerotouch IT Ltd

Monday, March 23, 2009

SaaS Metrics

Any software company considering doing business using a SaaS (Software as a Service) model not only needs to understand how to manage a 24x7 operational environment but also needs to understand the metrics of running a SaaS business. Haut Tec wrote two great articles recently on the whole subject of SaaS Metrics.

The first, SaaSoNomics 101 gives you the basics.

The metrics of any business model are arguably “entertaining reading” for only a very limited number of people to be sure. But it is a critical subject for companies with new SaaS products or ISVs moving to SaaS to understand and be ready to measure from day one of operations.

The second, SaaSoNomics 102A discusses the sales side of the equation.

...because of the typical subscription period in SaaS - constant monitoring and well-considered goals are critical to success.

Although there are a lot of numbers discussed in these two articles, I would be in favour of picking some critical ones, it is important that Executives in SaaS businesses understand the overall picture, therefore making it easier to pick the right metrics for their businesses.

ZeroTouch IT Ltd

Saturday, March 7, 2009

The formula that crashed the world

Fascinating article from Wired magazine about the formula (or to be exact "Gaussian copula function" !!) that was at the heart of the global financial market crash and subsequently the economic crash.

How could one formula pack such a devastating punch? The answer lies in the bond market, the multitrillion-dollar system that allows pension funds, insurance companies, and hedge funds to lend trillions of dollars to companies, countries, and home buyers.

The CDO (Collateralized Debt Obligation) and CDS (Credit Default Swap) financial instruments fed on this formula.

The CDS and CDO markets grew together, feeding on each other. At the end of 2001, there was $920 billion in credit default swaps outstanding. By the end of 2007, that number had skyrocketed to more than $62 trillion. The CDO market, which stood at $275 billion in 2000, grew to $4.7 trillion by 2006.

Wall Street loved it...

At the heart of it all was Li's formula. When you talk to market participants, they use words like beautiful, simple, and, most commonly, tractable. It could be applied anywhere, for anything, and was quickly adopted not only by banks packaging new bonds but also by traders and hedge funds dreaming up complex trades between those bonds.

This article is definitely worth a read if you want to see how something simple could be turned into a self-fulfilling prophecy and then run through the greed machine of Wall Street and global financial markets with devastating effects.

ZeroTouch IT Ltd