Archive for August, 2010

Solving the Innovators Dilemma

August 23, 2010

Must reading if you are an intrepreneur.

Ten Cloud Computing Opportunities

August 23, 2010

Based on my recent work with Double-Take Software’s Cloud business, I guess I am now officially a cloud computing entrepreneur.  I am looking for my next project, and just decided to go open source with this.  Here are ten ideas off the top of my head – they definitely need some refinement, and some of them will probably not pan out, but feel free to steal them, offer improvements, or how about this – contact me to collaborate on one.

  1. Modify an existing open source cloud platform into a drop-in solution for hosting companies, with a global ecommerce site and management interface.  Hosting companies can get into cloud easily; customers get broad geographic coverage with a single interface.  (I know at least one company is already claiming this, but it is a big, big market).
  2. Take one (or more) existing open source web applications or frameworks (like MediaWiki, Django, Sugar CRM, etc.), optimize the deployment for a highly scalable distributed system (i.e. load-balanced front-end web farm, distributed / scalable db back-end, memcached, etc.), and make it available at a very low-cost for entry users, with the price scaling up with usage.
  3. Acquire an enterprise-class (or academic usage) simulation / analysis solution, and modify it to use map-reduce.  Deliver the results of massive calculations in a few minutes (or seconds), and only bill for the usage.  Commoditize massive calculations at a price smaller users can afford.
  4. Build a management platform to transparently migrate virtualized workloads from a private cloud up to a larger public cloud provider, and back down.  (This can be expanded to cross-cloud, or cross-region migrations.)
  5. Create a encrypting, deduplicating network transport protocol and file system that minimizes the bandwidth and storage required to keep workloads synchronized between private and public clouds. (Useful for #4.)
  6. Use one of the open-source cloud platforms to build an Amazon compatible cloud in places where Amazon doesn’t have a data center.  Amazon is expanding rapidly, but it is a big world, and most countries have regulations restricting businesses from hosting data outside the country.  Europe is an especially fertile market for this.
  7. Build a GUI macro editor with building blocks that include Amazon (or another, or all) cloud resources, ecommerce, and maybe some social and / or mobile features.  Let customers build new cloud-based web applications by drag & drop.
  8. Create a web app that lets a product manager or a sales person enter the typical problems their customers face, and the features of their product that solve those problems, and the ultimate benefit.  Let their customer walk through a wizard, checking the boxes to describe their needs, and automatically generate a beautifully designed, customized proposal, based on their requirements.  The whole thing is based on standardized templates, but it feels totally customer for both the vendor and the customers.
  9. Build a Linux-based file server appliance for SMB, with HSM and version archiving to the cloud.  It basically has storage that never ends, and the most current / relevant files are always local.
  10. Add virtual machine recovery and remote access capabilities to an existing laptop backup solution.  When your laptop blows up, you are happy to know that all your files are backed-up on-line.  Wouldn’t you be even more excited if you could boot up a virtual machine of your laptop on-line, and finish the task you were already late on?

Remember that Cloud Business is Business

August 21, 2010

Great tips from Charlie O’Donnell on how to make a good content-driven solution.  Most of these ideas apply to any web-based application.

Funding as Marketing

August 21, 2010

Amazon is marketing their cloud business by funding your cloud business.  Seems like a good strategy for anyone with a web services API.

I’ll Take 26,280 Please

August 21, 2010

Being able to buy an entire IT infrastructure by the hour is a huge improvement in the decision cycle for IT operations.  It is hard to see this initially, but if you reverse the situation, it becomes obvious.  Imagine that you always bought a resource one unit at a time.  Now someone is proposing that you commit to a three-year supply all at once.  A three-year supply of hours is 26,280.  What else would you commit to purchasing more than 26 thousand of, in advance, with no return policy?

Being able to buy smaller chunks provides a couple of key opportunities:

  • Faster decision cycles: You need far fewer meetings, and far less planning to commit to just one hour of a data center.
  • Better responsiveness to changing needs: Your upgrade (and downgrade) window opens every hour.
  • ROI is much easier to capture: It is easy to keep 100% occupancy in a building where you can change the number of rooms every hour.
  • Access to smaller opportunities: Sometimes big opportunities only require small IT resources, but those IT resources may only come in large bundles, making the opportunity non-cost-effective. (Think about using 1000 computers to do a complex calculation in under an hour, but you only need them for that one hour.)

Buying 26,280 units in advance seems nuts, but this is exactly what we are doing when we buy a piece of IT equipment with a 3 year useful life, rather than renting that same capability from cloud provider.

Good Foundational Reading for Cloud Business

August 20, 2010

I plan to add some recommended reading posts as I encounter new books.  I will also salt in some books that I have read in the past that are worthy of mention.  To kick things off, here are three books that really gave me a good foundation to this industry.  None of them tells you how to build a cloud solution, but I think they all contain critical information if you are developing or analyzing a cloud strategy.

Wikinomics: How Mass Collaboration Changes Everything
The Big Switch: Rewiring the World, from Edison to Google
Free: The Future of a Radical Price

Notice that posts are now categorized, so you can get the whole recommended reading list just by clicking on the category link to the left.  If you really love the recommendation, you can just click on the link to go directly to Amazon’s book store to order your own copy.