Sunday, December 14, 2008

"Services 2.0" - that'll be our Magic Quadrant, then

Last week I read an incisive article on “Services 2.0″ company Appirio by Prashanth Rai on CloudAve:

There is some pretty visionary content included here with an outline of how the move from on-premise to cloud-based software will affect and remodel the IT services industry, especially those wrapped around implementing and integrating these solutions. This shift to “Services 2.0″ is likely to happen at the same rapid pace as the move to SaaS is happening now - exciting times. Memia is aiming to be prominent in this space, so it's good to finally have a term that Gartner can hang a magic quadrant on. ;-)

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Secure "cloud" services offered by retail bank in New Zealand

Check out this advert from ASB bank here in New Zealand ( - a bank offering secured data storage in (their own) cloud: this is a great (early) example of how established businesses can leverage their existing internet channels to expand into adjacent offerings using cloud services. In this case ASB is relying upon the Trust relationship they already have with their customers. Interesting...

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Cloud Services - Business Fundamentals

I thought I'd just separate out some key points I made in my talk last night on cloud services business fundamentals - what are the emerging axioms by which we're going to do business in the cloud in future?

  • Market size: at least 1.3 billion users (and counting)
  • Competition: anyone else in the world who can develop and operate the same software/services as you
  • There will only be room for 1-3 profitable operators in each niche
    • But there will be a lot of niches!
  • Corporate Cloud Services spend will be $42Bn/year by 2012 (IDC, Oct 2008)
    • 0.001% = $42 million annual revenues

  • Rules of engagement:
    • Frictionless sign up / leave model
    • No vendor lock-in possible any more
    • Reputation and trust are everything
  • Customers own their own data
    • They can ask for it back
    • They can control their own privacy settings
    • However, while they "lend" it to you, you can make $$
  • The customer is in charge
    • However, there are plenty of customers to go around!

Presentation from Chch DNUG,19 Nov 2008

I've uploaded my slides from last night's talk at the Christchurch .NET User Group:

(Direct link

Sunday, November 16, 2008

IDC market analysis: IT spend on cloud services to grow to $42 billion / 25% of spend by 2012

More predictions:

"IDC expects spending on IT cloud services to grow almost threefold, reaching $42 billion (triple what it is now) by 2012 and accounting for 9% of revenues in five key market segments. More importantly, spending on cloud computing will accelerate throughout the forecast period, capturing 25% of IT spending growth in 2012 and nearly a third of growth the following year."

Read the IDC press release and follow the links here.

Also worth noting, the press release includes IDC's definitions of Cloud services vs. Cloud computing:
  • Cloud Services are the consumer and business products, services, and solutions that are delivered and consumed in real time over the Internet. (IDC identifies eight key attributes that more clearly define the new generation of commercial cloud services.)

  • Cloud Computing is an emerging IT development, deployment, and delivery model, enabling real-time delivery of products, services, and solutions over the Internet.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Economist Corporate IT Survey: Cloud Computing

Spent much of last week delving into my weekly Economist subscription enjoying the Corporate IT survey on Cloud Computing.

The story covering the market for Enterprise SaaS has the following graph from Gartner (pre- or post global financial meltdown?!?!?!) which speaks volumes:

Monday, November 3, 2008

Slides from Chch .NET code camp cloud services talk

I very much enjoyed giving a talk at the 2008 Christchurch .NET Code Camp on Saturday, although some in the audience may have noticed that I hadn't timed the slides beforehand! (ended up squashing half the talk into the last 5 minutes - oops). Anyway, the event was excellently organised by Matt Smith, Andy (Scrasé ☺), Chris Fairbairn and the rest of the team - thanks I really enjoyed the event. Unfortunately I had to run off immediately and look after 10 six year olds at my daughter's birthday party - but I'm still alive! ;-)

I've attached the slides here in PDF format - please get in touch if you would like to discuss any of the topics I discussed.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Microsoft announce "Azure" services platform at PDC - no hard pricing yet

Microsoft's big Cloud announcement finally came out yesterday at PDC: the "Windows Azure" services platform:

"The Azure™ Services Platform (Azure) is an internet-scale cloud services platform hosted in Microsoft data centers, which provides an operating system and a set of developer services that can be used individually or together."

More info at What is the Azure Services Platform?

Also, take a look at the section on Pricing and Licensing: no hard pricing is available yet as this announcement is just for the CTP - planning to go into production in H2 2009.

Given the pricing competition from Amazon EC2 and other players on a spending spree like Rackspace this is going to get pretty darwinian pretty quickly. However, this is good for everybody (except perhaps Microsoft $hareholder$ who were expecting monopoly revenues forever!) - there are far fewer opportunities for vendor platform lock-in in the frictionless cloud: Microsoft can reinvent their revenue model around the stuff which delivers the most *real* value - which will be .NET from now on - but I don't think we'll be seeing >90% market share any time soon. ;-)

"The Azure™ Services Platform business model is aligned around four basic principles. These are:

* Consumption-based model
* Pricing attractive with the market
* Market expansion opportunity for Microsoft partners
* Easy access through the Web, or through existing channels and programs"

Consumption is based upon:

" * Compute time, measured in machine hours
* Bandwidth requirements (transmissions to and from the Azure data center), measured in GB
* Storage, measured in GB
* Transactions, measured as application requests such as Gets and Puts"

If you dive a bit deeper into the FAQs, you can see the production schedule:

" * Availability Timeframe – H2 2009
o Acquire directly through the Microsoft Online Customer Portal
o Acquire though ISVs (independent software vendors): purchase an ISV application which utilizes the Azure Services Platform, and pay the ISV through their own licensing and pricing model"

Intergen's Chris Auld is blogging the PDC - see his take on the Azure announcements here.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Amazon announcements: General Availability (99.95%) and Windows on EC2. Windows cost benchmarked at 25-40% over Linux to provision!

Amazon have done it - they have committed to "General Availability" (GA) with a service level agreement of 99.95% within a "Region". If availability falls below this level, customers will receive service credits. Read more information at

In a simultaneous announcement Amazon have announced that Windows and SQL Server images are now available on EC2 - pricing for Amazon EC2 running Windows 2003 Server begins at $0.125 per compute hour (see below). Amazon are also supporting SQL Server Express and Standard editions on EC2. The only restriction is that all instances must be in the same availability zone - read details at:

Pricing comparisons are below - so now there's a benchmark: Windows costs between 25-40% over Linux to provision!


Standard Instances Linux/UNIX Windows
Small (Default) $0.10 per hour $0.125 per hour
Large $0.40 per hour $0.50 per hour
Extra Large $0.80 per hour $1.00 per hour

High CPU Instances Linux/UNIX Windows
Medium $0.20 per hour $0.30 per hour
Extra Large $0.80 per hour $1.20 per hour

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Microsoft Cloud Announcements

2 "Microsoft" "Cloud" press releases made it out simultaneously today.

First, Steve Ballmer pre-announced the launch of "Windows Cloud" operating system (which isn't Midori):

Secondly Amazon announced EC2 with Windows:

Both press releases predictably make no mention of pricing and licensing models - Microsoft's share price would tank if they did... ;-)

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Microsoft's big Cloud launch at PDC 2008

Went to a good talk yesterday by Nigel Parker (slides here) of Microsoft New Zealand on Cloud Computing, IE8 and Silverlight. The talk was general scene setting for the Cloud computing paradigm, showcasing of MS's latest demos of gadgets like Photosynth, Live maps and Mesh, and generally painting Microsoft's future vision of Cloud computing (=Microsoft, Google, (Amazon?) and, er, no-one else can afford to play on their scale!?!).

Key announcement is that after the Bill Gates/Jerry Seinfeld teaser ads (Youtube: here and here ), Microsoft are finally launching their Cloud services platform into the wild at PDC in a month's time. See the post on Gianpaulo's blog for full details of the Cloud Services Symposium they are holding on day 4, and some sneak preview slides of architectural guidance for Cloud Services Architecture.

Good stuff - about time from Microsoft, too.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Data property rights: a banking analogy

Further on from previous comments on data portability, I read an interesting post on GigaOM from a while back from Nitin Borwankar: Data Property Rights, Not Portability. Nitin makes some really clear points regarding the rules which *should* govern your data which is placed in a third party's system (ie YouTube, Facebook), if you took a classic "property" analogy:

1. Data Accessibility
2. Data Visibility
3. Data Removal
4. Data Ownership

( the full post for details).

This makes me think of traditional business models surrounding being a trustee for other people's property: the classic model is banking. With a bank, I place my money in their trust, and am free to withdraw the money according to the agreement I have with them (ie savings / chequeing / fixed term investment account types). Conversely, while they have my money they are free to invest that money for their own profit (again, within certain limits - for example maybe I would specify that arms and tobacco investments are off-limits).

In the same way, for a piece of data or content that I own, I can choose which "trustee" I place my data with and can "withdraw" (ie to another service provider) my data according to the terms of my service agreement. Meanwhile, that trustee is free to try and make profits from my content by driving advertising, social mapping or other revenue from it.

Sounds fair enough to me.

Couple of afterthoughts, however:
- Banking is regulated: the internet will potentially need a regulator to achieve the "liquidity" of content outlined above.
- If these content ownership rules become embedded in internet culture over the next few years, and Facebook, YouTube and all the rest are just trusted, temporary custodians of their customer's content: what implications does that have for internet company valuations?

Thursday, September 11, 2008

13,000 days down - nearly half way there?

Poignant message from my iGoogle home page today:

(I think I've configured my life expectancy at around 80 years old, give or take - ever the pessimist...). Now, what can I do in 16,221 days?

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Cloud services enterprise architecture part 2

We've developed the EA further from my last post - adding an output service of software development consulting, and adding the following input services:

Messaging services:
-Tweets (down with the kids!)

Work management services:
- Task management
- Workflow
- Timesheets

Mind mapping services:
- Mind mapping

Business continuity services:
- Backup

Legal services
- Legal advice

Software development services:
- Application platform
- Database platform
- IDE (Integrated Development Environment)
- Test management
- Architecture
- Requirements

Here's the latest picture: now to find the right providers for each of these services!

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Interesting posts on the "Principles of Cloud Oriented Architecture", and "Cloud Computing Bill of Rights"

I've been reading James Urquhart's blog The Wisdom of Clouds for some time now - a leading thinker in the emergent space of Cloud-based architecture.

In particular, the following recent posts are especially worth reading:

Update: the Cloud Computing Bill of Rights

The Principles of Cloud Oriented Architecture

Generally I agree with James that, since the world is now coasting towards a single common, shared Cloud Oriented Architecture that a set of common principles, rights and responsibilities can and should be drafted (but I would ask by whom?). As with any technological advance, the social and legal effects cannot be thought through soon enough before the impact of the change is felt. The question of jurisdiction will always be hardest - which authorities govern and legislate for data and other services in the (international and potentially off-planet) Cloud? Technology moves ever more quickly than the human population can keep up.

In some ways this "Bill of Rights" reminds me of a political manifesto - there will be diametrically opposing views on privacy and security for example from the governments of many countries, and so the practical question is *how* such a BoR would ever come to realised.

However, another way to look at the BoR is as a requirements spec trying to solve 3 discrete technical problems:

  • Providing clear ownership of data and avoiding Cloud services providers ever "owning" their customers' data.
  • Providing clear accountability (=measurable!) for Cloud service levels
  • Providing clear ownership of (patented?) intellectual property underlying a Cloud service
James has brought us all a long way by articulating these vulnerabilities in today's Cloud services model - however I personally think that it's more likely that these issues will be addressed successfully (and cheaper!) using technology rather than by the law.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

An alternative Microsoft-based Cloud Services Architecture

Just had a read of my friend Matt Smith's blog post from a couple of weeks ago, which covers very similar ground to my last post on the cloud services I've started using. Matt is a Microsoft fanboy - he even once proposed SharePoint as a viable alternative to a girlfriend in a presentation - these things come back to haunt you, you know! ;-) - and so is pretty keen on MS' Mesh services (must take a closer look at these) - I'm mostly using Google at the moment. Compare and contrast at

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Integrating Google Calendar and Contacts with Windows Mobile 6 - OggSync

Further to my previous post on an early cloud services architecture model for my business, this week I've had great success integrating two different services: Windows Mobile 6 handheld operating system with Google Calendar and Contacts - this enables me to maintain a "single version of the truth" for both calendar events and contacts - and at the same time carry both around with me on my mobile. After years of being tied into Microsoft's Exchange / Outlook sync model which ties your data to a particular desktop PC, it is pretty liberating to have everything looked after in the Cloud!

After scanning through the web for tools to manage this integration (there are a few - see Jonathan Wilbur's post on the subject at ), I settled on OggSync ( - version 4.19 beta currently.

Happy to report that US$29.95 buys a 1-year subscription to a fully functional sync service running on my mobile device - enables sync of timezone and multiple calendars and all of my Google contacts. Easy to buy, install and configure - highly recommended.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Cloud services enterprise architecture week 1 - eating our own dogfood

OK, I'm at the end of month 1 of setting up the business from scratch, and have begun operating the business (Memia Ltd) and trading. It's an exciting time!

I thought I'd share some of the initial architectural outputs of this exercise - effectively as time goes on I will provide an ongoing commentary on how Memia is putting together a "Cloud Services Enterprise Architecture" for a small services business (with growth ambitions!). Hopefully the experience and techniques will be generic enough to be useful for others doing the same thing. This is, after all, our core business. ;-)

The diagram below shows the first iteration of Memia's cloud services architecture. (Click for bigger picture).

First off, I have divided the cloud services diagram into two main groupings, with the business in the middle: Output Services and Input Services: basically, the business consumes a set of services, and most importantly provides the "secret sauce" which enables the output services to be provided.

You can see from the Output Services box that the actual revenue-generating services are a pretty small part of the overall operational complexity of running a small business - in addition to earning money doing the day job, the business has to provide marketing, communications, regulatory compliance, day-to-day financial operations, and be set up to look after shareholders as well. These groupings are my first attempt at defining what a generic "baseline" business must do in order to get trading - I am sure there will be plenty more that I come across as the business grows...

The Input Services box illustrates all of the services that I have begun using during the setup over the last few weeks. As a matter of principle (and to eat my own dogfood!) I have used Cloud-based services wherever I can (shaded Green) - luckily(lazily) I have been able to delegate most of the complexity in my Enterprise to Google Apps - for free! - something that wasn't possible even a year ago. If you look at the diagram below, you can see the service providers I have chosen (for a business based in New Zealand).

- Home office space provided by yours truly ;-)

So I'm going to keep iterating this model and add new input and output services according to the business strategy - I'm also going to try to generate some traceability between the output services and the input services - this will be a good way to shake out the dependencies and business processes involved. I haven't followed any formal methodology (because life's too short in the real world) - however, I reckon this "services in, services out" technique is a pretty effective "agile" methodology for small businesses. I'm interested in anyone's comments here...

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Cloud Services Manifesto

OK here we go. To start with, a “Cloud Services manifesto” to look back on in future years.


“The Cloud” = “The universe of all economic services”.

- Cloud Services are all-encompassing - we’re not just talking about web services here. Every economic good or service belongs in and can be exchanged in the Cloud.

- Cloud Services are what's important to the end user so that’s what we will talk about: “what” rather than “how”. Talk of ‘Cloud Computing’ is already backwards-facing.

- Cloud Services will be Darwinian in their evolution: in any particular service niche, ultimately “there can be only one”, since all Cloud Services will eventually be able to scale to 6.6 billion users (and counting). There will, however, be an ever-expanding number of niches.

- We are now at the early stages of when we use Cloud Services for all aspects of life and business. The economic and social implications of this change need to be surfaced and recognised.

- Cloud Services will make what was previously achievable faster, easier and cheaper until they are commoditised and effectively free.

- Cloud Services will make new things achievable faster, easier and cheaper to more people, businesses and geographies.

- Part of me (/my business/my organisation) will live in the Cloud from now on: the Cloud is an extension of a consciousness, an extension of a business, with increasing symbiosis and decreasing boundaries between each entity.

Of course, only time will tell how prescient these predictions actually are... ;-)