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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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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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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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Twinfield show their vision of the future of accounting

Two weeks ago I was part of a modest International stream as part of  Twinfield's very impressive National Accountancy Day in The Netherlands.  They have been running this Annual event for 6 years and it has grown from 30 attendees back in 2005 to 500 last year, and well over 600 attendees this time, along with an exhibition area where around 40 companies showed their Twinfield connected applications and services.  There was a buzz of excitement, and a feelgood vibe you might expect from a Salesforce event, but not necessarily with a collection of mostly accountants as the audience.

The event was significant, both because of the size and the fact that this was the first event following Wolters Kluwer's takeover of Twinfield earlier this year.  It gave me a chance to gauge the progress they've made and  judge how well Twinfield will thrive under their new parent's regime.  The initial indications are very positive.

The International stream was attended by UK customers like Goodman Jones, CWM, and Wingrave Yeats.  Twinfield's Irish partner presented their Ezora reporting system.  P2D explained their document scanning solution that is now live linking purchase invoice scans ...
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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, ...