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Beyond Cloud - a series of interviews

A few weeks ago I was invited by Daniel Steeves to kick off his "Beyond Cloud" series of around 15 documentary interviews.  It went live on IntelligentHQ.com and Vimeo yesterday. Daniel is putting these sessions together with IntelligentHQ and Groupe INSEEC London (the French business school).  Daniel's idea is to have a series of video interviews based around the same set of 4 questions to cover the trends, issues and realities of the Cloud landscape from the many different perspectives of the players involved.  I was providing the consultant's perspective, but he will be covering the viewpoint from the very large Cloud provider, the traditional vendor, the SME provider, the Cloud orchestrator, the network provider, the data centre, the Cloud broker, middle-ware provider, orchestrator, security expert, some different styles of SaaS provider, the industry analyst, the business user, the micro business DIY user and the Cloud lawyer.  He's hoping to get some heretics, detractors and realists along with the evangelists and enthusiasts.   At the end of the sequence Daniel is bringing me back so I can interview him with the same 4 questions to wrap up the ...
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The cultural divide on data protection - USA vs EU

We are several months past the 10 year anniversary of the September 11 (9/11) attacks, but one of the significant consequences of that event a decade ago highlights the cultural divide between the USA and Europe on data protection.  Data privacy has been hitting the news recently because of Google's changes in their terms and condition.  Frank Jennings of DMH Stallard, who chairs the Governace Board for the CIF Code of Practice on which I sit, has just published a good analysis of the proposed reforms to the EU's data protection laws, and that triggered me to visit the topic here.  Data in terms of security, privacy and sovereignty is still the number 1 issue for companies who are first considering Cloud Computing.   As a buyer, you need to carry out your due diligence for any software, platform or infrastructure as a service - you should be checking how and where the provider will be storing your data, and how YOU will comply with legislation like the Data Protection Act.

Here in the UK, if your systems handle personal information about individuals you have a number of legal obligations to protect that information under the Data Protection Act 1998. .. ...
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Demystifying the Cloud

How do you spread the word about the benefits of Cloud Computing beyond technology enthusiasts, web "savvy" geeks and industry insiders  to the general business woman and man "in the street"?  The likes of Microsoft and Salesforce are certainly trying to do that with some of their advertising campaigns, but I believe they are missing the target by a mile.  A group of us have got together to try and amplify our voices with an initiative called Cloud Advocates.  Let me explain with a bit of an advert, tell you about our first event and our tie up with Freshbusinessthinking.com.

We are at the stage where Cloud Computing,  from web  based applications to on demand infrastructure, is just moving from being the next big trend to a mainstream technology choice.  There are a plethora of events and announcements around the topic, and just to complicate things every technology provider is redefining whatever offering they've got as a Cloud solution.  In the middle of all this noise  we need some clarity on the topic.  That is why Richard Messik and I decided to pool some of our marketing energy and form Cloud Advocates, an association of ...
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Twinfield change partners for a new dance

I was delighted to hear, early yesterday, that cloud accounting software provider Twinfield was acquired by Wolters Kluwer.  I have to disclose that my company, D2C, have been Twinfield's UK partner since 2005 and so we have a vested interest in the success of the platform and some great customers and partnerships that have come as a result of our Twinfield connection.  Over on the Twinfield blog, my good friend and one of the two Twinfield founders, André Kwakernaat, tells some of the back story and explains how proud he is.  Let me give you my take on the acquisition from the perspective of someone  who has been close to the story right from when Andre's idea started at the end of the 90s.  

Andre and the team really have done a superb job building the business since starting on 5 October 2000.  Today the platform supports 80,000 companies, with 40,000 subscribers and used by over 700 accounting practices.  Although the product operates every day in 23 countries, the bulk of the users are in their home market of the Netherlands, which has been both their strength in terms of growth, profitability and stability, but also a potential weakness. ...
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Cloud is at an inflection point, but let's get things clear

BusinessCloud9On behalf of EuroCloud, I've just posted over at BusinessCloud9's revamped site.  They've gone for a new, clean and simple style and simple logo, which looks good.  

My first post there explains that at the start of 2011 a number of things are happening in the market, and particularly the UK, that mean Cloud Computing is at an important inflection point.  The Cloud is about to become a mainstream approach to be considered not just by CIOs, IT departments of larger companies and the tech savvy early adopters, but for the average business woman and man in the street too.  They are on the receiving end of some significant new marketing of the Cloud topic: As usual we IT solution providers are too steeped in our own jargon and hype, and that makes us lousy at getting the message across in business terms.  Please go over and read the full post, ...
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More on that pesky "Cloud" term

I posted the other day on the multiplicity of Cloud definitions, and whether I thought the term itself is useful, or all hype.  Up in the North East, Adrian Pearson picked up on it and related to a story of being sold some telecoms technology with a cloud diagram and so concluded:
"David’s article reminded me that there is real practical benefit in being able to use a term like “Cloud”; to allow everyone in the discussion to make a mental note to accept that bit of the explanation as a “no need to go there” and concentrate on the more important stuff."
Dennis seemed to like the post too, and admired my honesty over admitting falling in to the jargon trap.  He followed that up this week with "Struggling with understanding the cloud?" picking up on some great satire and sarcasm on the definition thing.  Well, that reminded me of Larry Ellison's rant on the topic from last September.  He was at the Churchill Club, a kind of Silicon Valley insiders thing, talking to Ed Zander, when he went off the deep end, around exactly the same issues, saying:

"Cloud Computing is not only the future of computing, it is the present and the entire past of computing,  is ...

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Is the Cloud term an asset, or just marketing hype?

A few things came together for me this week around the Cloud term.  I spent time with one of my best customers discussing online accounting, what we should do to improve the product we represent in the UK, and how we should position to beat the incumbent in the small business market, Sage.  But the first thing that Philip Woodgate told us was how useful the Cloud term is for the clients and business people he deals with.  These are business from small, to medium to International where he struggled explaining SaaS 3 or 4 years ago when he started promoting the concept.  He thinks the Cloud term makes it much easier to "get" for the average business.  

The next thing was this post on ReadWriteCloud with Wordpress.com founder Mat Mullenweg suggesting the Cloud is marketing speak.   Mat was explaining how a recent outage in their service occurred.  Alex William's wrote in the article:
"The cloud gets blamed for almost any online outage these days. It used to be that we'd just say the service went down and there was a failure at the host or the data center.   Sure enough, the Wordpress.com outage is not a cloud disaster. Instead, .. ...
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EuroCloud UK members making sense of Cloud standards and security

The newly formed EuroCloud UK group held their first member meeting a week ago  at the Thistle City Barbican Hotel - a panel led group discussion on Cloud standards and security.  Chaired by Phil Wainewright, the panel experts were Dr. Guy Bunker, independent consultant and blogger, formerly Symantec's chief scientist and co-author of ENISA's cloud security assessment document, Ian Moyse, Channel Director of SaaS provider Webroot, and Adrian Wright, MD, Secoda Risk Management, formerly global head of information security at Reuters.  

In the spirit of cooperation we had invited Lloyd Adams from Intellect and Jairo Rojas from BASDA because we want to ensure that the three UK Cloud and SaaS vendor groups keep in close contact and try to coordinate their various deliverables and activities as much as is practical.  In addition we invited Richard Anning who heads the ICAEW's IT Faculty.  As I've reported before, Phil, Jairo, Richard and I have been in discussions, triggered by Dennis Howlett, about trying to achieve some form of pragmatic standard or quality mark on security and best practice.  We decided to use this discussion to identify if there ...
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Can Cloud vendors move beyond the terminology debate?

I recently mentioned Richard Messik's great post castigating Cloud vendors on their jargon overload in the panel discussions at Softworld back in October.  Over on AccountingWEB there has been some vigorous debate around the Cloud issues in discussion threads on whether accountants should be talking to their clients about Cloud Computing, the business case for SaaS, or the terminology itself.  If you meander through the discussions I draw three conclusions:

  1.  There is plenty of confusion about the terminology, jargon and marketing hype spinning around the topic.
  2. The debate goes all over the place, highlighting a definite need for education and resources to explain  the business benefits with more use cases and good examples.
  3. There is a group of anti SaaS/Cloud types on AccountingWEB (like many places elsewhere) who seem more keen to argue about semantics and jargon, rather than moving the debate on to business value.

Dennis suggested this is a self inflicted wound and highlighted how some vendors are avoiding the Cloud term.  Back on those AccountingWEB discussions, Gary Turner of Xero commented:

"I'm really struggling to find .. ...

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Will EuroCloud provide some clarity and direction?

One of my recent "quotes of the week" was Lord Puttnam's excellent:
“Technology can only serve as a bridge, never as a destination.”
In recent weeks there has been plenty of activity around the Cloud Computing bridge  with way too much emphasis on jargon and technicalities.  The Intellect SaaS Group has started and is just about to publish a white paper to address that issue.  BASDA has formed a Cloud SIG.  Last week's Cloud p...