All Posts by SaaS & On Demand & Cloud Computing Category

SaaS & On Demand & Cloud Computing

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What next for Social Business? Patchwork Elephant Event Report

As part of London's Social Media Week we put on an event called Social Business – The Patchwork Elephant Revisited asking "What next for Social Business?".  We were kindly sponsored by our friends here at CompareTheCloud.net and we introduced the event and the speakers in an earlier post.  The idea was to get 8 different perspectives on where we are at, and where we go next, with using social and collaboration tools "inside" the business to add value and work more effectively.  Why is the "Social" word seen with such suspicion by some executives in the C-suite?  With the explosion of social media use in marketing or customer support reaching out of the organisation, why aren't more companies using it all over their organisations?  We believe change is happening, but why aren't we further forward with "Social Business"?

A few weeks after our event, Chris Heuer did a guest post on Brian Solis' blog that moved in to the same territory we covered asking Social Business is Dead! Long Live What’s Next! and highlighted the problem with:
"While the ideas behind the moniker are invaluable in defining the future of work, most large companies simply . ...
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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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ICAEW event: Cloud is just sizzle?

Last month, on 17 April, I was invited to attend the Institute of Chartered Accountants of England and Wales (ICAEW)'s annual Cloud accounting event - Winning business in the cloud: reap the benefits of SaaS.  A great title with with the promise of making the case for deploying Cloud. The hashtag for the event was #icaewcloud - it's now at the stage that if your event hasn't got a hashtag, you're missing out in a big way.  Actually this event was generally good, except for one presenter who was well off message, and with whom I have to take issue - more on that later.  First I have to disclose that ICAEW is one of my biggest customers (we provide the technology supporting their on-line community), and that I have a huge amount of time and respect for Richard Anning, the head of the IT Faculty.  He and Paul Booth do a good job putting on events like this one, and fostering IT Counts which is a great resource for peer to peer technology advice in the accounting space.  I should also disclose we resell Twinfield's online accounting - they presented last year and the year before, but not this time.  

Richard did a fine job chairing and ...
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My trip to a nuclear bunker - a rather safe place for your Cloud

Last Monday I visited a data centre housed in a nuclear bunker.  Visiting data centres isn't usually that inspiring - rows of server racks, cabinets with uninteruptible power supplies (UPS) and the like.  This one's different, which is why I want to tell the story.  Can you think of anywhere safer for your data than an underground bunker capable of withstanding nuclear attack?  But I must start with two disclosures.  The first is that this company is our latest customer - we're helping them with product messaging, website content and social media strategy.  The second, you may know anyway, is that I'm a bit of a business geek and I never tire of doing the tour of a new company or industrial site.  I'm fascinated by the way organisations set themselves up, from the layout of the office to the machinery on the "shop floor", and all the processes in between - whether it's an agency using words, design and a bit of technology to heavy manufacturing and big machines making "things" I get excited.  This visit was a bit more than special though.

I've known The Bunker for years.  I thought they had just picked a cool name for their ...
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The Cloud's 5 Key Challenges for the ISV CTO

Back on 26 April I was asked to present "5 Key Challenges for the ISV CTO and How to Beat Them!" at a Ciklum seminar for ISVs that intended to deliver a hype-free conversation among CTOs, Chief Technical Architects and other key executives grappling with the journey to the cloud.  My slides for the session (see below) are already on Slideshare, but they are mostly visual, so I decided to do this  comprehensive (that means long right? - Ed)  blog write up following the slide sequence as a companion piece.  I was in good company, because the other speakers were Jimmy Gasteen of Precursive, Liam Hogan of OpenText and Melissa di Donato of Salesforce.com.  My pitch was intended to do three things:
  • Give my perspective on the current state of the Cloud landscape
  • Offer my 5 key challenges for the ISV CTO in moving to the Cloud
  • Leave the audience with some practical ideas to take action straight away
The current IT landscape is pretty cloudy.  IT providers are branding whatever product they have that happens to run in a datacentre somewhe as "Cloud" ...
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Trash talk and FUD harms the Cloud industry

Over here we are anticipating this year's Cloud Computing World Forum in London, but over in the US Larry Ellison, Oracle's founder and CEO since 1977, has pivoted his position on the Cloud along with "crossing a line" to trash key competitors.  Elsewhere old guard software giants like IBM are mis-communicating the Cloud messages.  How does this help the the industry, the typical buyer in an SME, or the average CIO in a larger enterprise?  Actually this noise generated by the old guard of IT is significant in positioning the current status of the Cloud landscape, but what we really need is some clarity of vision on the Cloud topic from the big players rather than messaging crafted at protection of their existing customer base and revenue streams.

Last Wednesday Larry announced what the Oracle press release claimed as "the "industry’s broadest and most advanced Cloud strategy", although on the day he actually said, "we are now announcing the most comprehensive Cloud on the planet Earth".  This is an interesting turn around considering Larry has regularly lambasted the Cloud term.  Take a look at this interview some of you may remember from ...
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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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Using the Cloud for personal productivity with Evernote

I've just made a significant switch in one of the main tools I use for my own personal productivity which highlights a key trend for the industry and all of us - the personal cloud.  Whether it is for work or our personal lives we use desktop computers, laptops, mobile phones, media players and tablets and a lot of the time we need to get at the same stuff from each device.  For some time we've been used to setting up our smart phones so we can sync and access the same email as on the computer or the web, and the early adopters and geeky types have been sharing photos and documents too.  The personal cloud will make that easy and more pervasive for everyone.  

Let me explain more with the key tool that I use for all my writing, note taking, project documentation and capturing of ideas.  Since January 2005 I've been using what I believe is Microsoft's best and most undervalued product - OneNote.  OneNote is a free form note taking application with a user interface that looks like the Windows equivalent of a cool Moleskin notebook.  I can type, draw, insert pictures or make screen clippings and capture my thoughts in multiple notebooks.  .. ...
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The Cloud needs some standards (or a Code of Practice)

Standards Cartoon from xkcdOne of the big issues for a buyer today considering Cloud Computing is how do you choose a good Cloud provider from a bad one?  Who do you trust?  Maybe the Cloud Topic needs some standards?  Well actually there are so many standards bodies and vendor groups that the picture is confused - something that I try to demystify with my company and with the various cloud groups that I'm involved with.  If you type "cloud standards" in to Google, you'll find an alphabet soup of acronyms, and even the first entry in the list - a "Wiki site for Cloud Standards Coordination" - initially looks promising, but doesn't yet mention some of the key organizations that have something worthwhile to contribute to this topic.  

When you do some  research you find the International Organization for Standardization (their ISO 27001 on IT security is relevant for the data centre) or the IBM backed Open Cloud Manifesto  or The Open Data Center Alliance, and many others, but most of their output seems to be about technical standards for set up, programming and interoperability of services - good for the industry as a whole, but not necessarily relevant to the average .. ...
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Back Blogging (again) and Fresh Business Thinking

I just want warn the Internet and social media addicts everywhere that I will be back blogging again on a more regular basis from today.  I've left a big gap since my last post although I've carried on tweeting and RTing snippets and the good stuff - the Twitter community that I follow still gives me the best, filtered access to quality content and ideas from out there.  I've been addicted to Twitter since 14 February 2007 - It seems appropriate that our 5 year love affair started on Valentine's Day!

I haven't been completely absent from publishing blogs as Cloud Advocates started a regular email newsletter called Cloud means Business over on Fresh Business Thinking.  The newsletter goes out to over 70,000 subscribers, and each post goes up on the FBT site too.  I write 2 of the 4 posts each month, and we are just about to publish the 8th edition.  I'll repost some or all of those 16 articles here in the coming weeks, and I'll add links in a side column soon.  As well as that I have half a dozen draft posts languishing in Evernote ready to be completed.  Thank heavens it isn't a blank page....

The thing that finally spurred me back to action was contributing to the ...