Posted by: Vala Shahabi | February 17, 2012

UI Standard for the Cloud?

I recently came across a blog by Derek Singleton, It’s time for a Cloud UI Standard and thought it was so interesting that I wanted to comment on it in my blog. When I first read the title, I thought he meant creating a standardized UI for back-end cloud applications, those used by IT folks to manage their cloud infrastructure (which sparked another idea which I will also talk about). After reading his post, he means a standard UI for web based SaaS applications.

If you develop a Windows or Mac application, you can leverage the OS’s UI to quickly build your application. For example, no need to recreate the print icon, the standardized UI provides that for you. I agree with Derek, why shouldn’t there be a standard for web based applications? It would make it so much easier to design and develop a site if there is a standard UI.   As Derek also mentioned, end users will also appreciate this as all web based applications will have a similar look and feel.

While we’re talking about cloud standardization, I’m sure many IT organizations would appreciate a standardized API to manage their cloud services. This may already exist?

I love startups. I love the new ideas and new angles a startup brings to the marketplace. I recently stumbled upon CloudFlare, which I was told will change the game in the CDN market. Working for the best CDN out there, I’m always interested to see what our new competitors can offer. In short, CloudFlare is a CDN and web application security offering rolled into one very easy to use and implement solution. Their Marketing and web design team gets an A for putting together such a slick interface. It really takes just a few minutes to get started and the best part is their offering is FREE!

I was able to talk my friend who runs Los Angele’s hottest Hair and Beauty Blog, L.A. Hair, to give CloudFlare a try.  I told him we can setup 3rd party performance tests prior to activating CloudFlare so we can measure how much performance improves.  Since CloudFlare injects at the NameServer level, it is not possible to run concurrent tests like other CDNs. We setup two performance tests, one in US only and one Global. The test would request www.losangeles-hair.com/home every hour from over 50 agents globally distributed.

Men Lie, Women Lie, Numbers Don’t. Let’s take a look at the results:

Without CloudFlare

Red – Global Average:8.99s

Blue  – US Average: 4.38s

With Cloud Flare:

Red – Global Average: 7.28s

Blue  – US Average: 3.80s

Looking at the two charts, we can see that with CloudFlare in the picture, we are getting a more reliable and flatter results, which is key for giving users the same experience every time they visit the site.  Looking at the numbers, CloudFare improved the blog 13.2% in the US and 19% Globally. I would hardly call these results “Supercharge” of my website as they claim, but you get what you pay for and in the case he didn’t pay a penny and got some ok results.

Where did CloudFlare improve and where did they not improve.

Most Improved areas:
Ottawa, Canada (5.57s reduced to 3.02s)
Seoul, Korea (8.53s reduced to 5.39s)
London (7.16s reduced to 5.37s)
Munich (7.33s reduced to 3.99s)
San Jose, Costa Rica (11.36s reduced to 2.74s)

Areas with little to no improvement:
China
Hong Kong
Seattle
Sao Paulo
Palo Alto
Vancouver
Sydney (actually got slower)
Auckland
New York, Los Angeles, Atlanta

While I would say these results are sub-par for CloudFlare to compete with any legit CDN, my friend is happy for L.A Hair and will keep the free service on. I think this is a great service for anyone to add to any website that doesn’t currently have a CDN or doesn’t generate revenue. If your site generates revenue I would used something a little more powerful because Google ranks based on page load speed.

Posted by: Vala Shahabi | October 4, 2011

My $400 Apple Media Center

I barely watch TV, part of the reason why I don’t watch TV is because my schedule is pretty crazy and I can’t sit down at a scheduled time to watch a show. I don’t really use DVR because I don’t like any TV show that much to take the effort to record it and then watch it. Besides, with so much to do on the internet why watch TV?

Once the NBA season ended I made the decision to cancel my cable TV and only keep the cable internet package. Why pay $100 a month when I’m barely watching TV? So I did some research online about setting up a media center with a Mac Mini. The best site I found was Apple Media Center. This guy did a great job explaining everything as easy as possible. He covers EVERYTHING. I only want to watch an occasional TV show, bit torrent movie, DVD and some live sports.

First thing I did was go on craigslist and find a good deal on a Mac Mini. I found a 2010 model 2.26 Ghz w/ 2GB ram and 160GB hard drive for $375. I then needed to find a Bluetooth keyboard/trackpad. After some extensive research on Amazon, I went with the RII Mini Bluetooth Wireless Keyboardfor $27.  For another $3 I bought a digital audio cable to my 5.1 Sony surround sound system that I had bought on CL many years ago for $150.  The Mac Mini has a digital output, my surround sound has never sounded this good!

The keyboard is pretty sweet, you get what you pay for, it def takes some getting used to. Not very easy to type fast or mouse around but for it’s size it is perfect.

I immediately installed Pandora desktop app (Pandora one subscription, best money spent), suddenly I had music in my living room, which was a huge break through. I then downloaded Hulu’s desktop app and signed up for Hulu Plus. Hulu has great content of TV shows, especially my favorite, The Daily Show (watching as I write this).  Hulu’s movies content is lacking so I also signed up for the streaming only Netflix option. So $7.99 for each one and I’m up to $16 a month. My cable internet is a sweet $29.99 a month – no taxes!

What about my sports? We’re currently in the NFL season, how am I gonna watch my games? There are so many sites out there that stream games. Here are a few:

http://www.snfallaccess.nbcsports.com  – Sunday Night Football

http://www.Veetle.com

http://www.Koratv.net

http://www.Justin.tv

www.thertv.eu

The bad part is you sometimes have to try a couple different feeds before you find a good one and there is the occasional buffering and lag but the bright side is you can watch ANY game and it’s all FREE.

I’m really happy with my setup, this is the future of TV. It’s really cool to be able to sit on my sofa and surf the web on my TV when I want a break from my computer.  I’m not limited to functionality like PS3 or Apple TV. I’ve also shared files with my laptop so I can pull pictures, movies, etc through the share. So I’m saving $70 a month off my cable bill and spending $16 a month on Hulu and Netflix.  Basically, in 8 months this media center will pay for itself 🙂

Posted by: Vala Shahabi | December 16, 2010

Key Points to Negotiate in a SaaS Agreement

I came across this article and thought it would be excellent to share on my blog. Reading the article, I cannot stress how important point #9 is. One bad thing about SaaS is that you may feel stuck at the hands of the company you have signed up on as it seems they own all your data and moving it anywhere can be a big pain in the ass. As SaaS grows, so will the number of competitors and you don’t want to put yourself in a situation that you can not leave one SaaS provider for another.

I found this article on http://www.softwareadvice.com

9 Key Points to Negotiate in a SaaS Agreement

By: Derek Singleton

So you’ve decided to go with Software-as-a-Service (SaaS). It’s easy to implement, easy to use and has a friendly subscription pricing model. You’re psyched.

Then comes the contract.

While SaaS has simplified enterprise software in many ways, you will still need to review, negotiate and execute a fairly complex contract when subscribing to an “enterprise-class” system. In this post, we will walk you through the nine most important things to consider when negotiating your SaaS agreement.

1. Pricing and Discounts
By pricing software as a utility service, SaaS vendors have simplified software licensing considerably. Most SaaS pricing is based on a subscription – monthly or annual payments for using the system during that period. The subscription pricing is typically based on one simple metric (e.g. users, records, projects) that roughly ties subscription fees to the value of the system. Finally, SaaS vendors tend to publish their pricing openly.

Even with this simplicity and transparency, there is still a need to be vigilant as a buyer. For one, don’t assume that straightforward published pricing means there isn’t room for some negotiation. Many SaaS vendors will discount up to 20% to win your business. The bigger the deal, the bigger the discount. Moreover, if the vendor’s pricing metric doesn’t fit with your business model, you might be able to negotiate custom pricing. Of course, you’ll have to make a cogent argument that the standard metric fails to balance price paid and value received.

2. Additional Costs
Another key component to pricing is ferreting out any extra costs early in the process. Published pricing may appear to be a good value, but extra fees can add up quickly. Common additional costs include extra users, customizations, integrations, third-party services, training and set-up fees. Work with your sales rep early in the process to understand what additional charges might apply to your account.

By far the best way to keep the additional costs down is to avoid customizations to functionality and integration with other systems. The inherent complexity in custom development and data integration makes these services expensive. We recommend that you start with the base system, make use of its core functionality and then assess how important the custom features or integrations are to your success. Start small, think big, grow quickly.

3. Term
If you are negotiating with a vendor over pricing discounts, subscription metrics and additional fees, expect to give something in return. Oftentimes, this means committing to an extended contract term. Vendors like longer terms because it provides more predictability in their revenue forecasting. Terms can be as short as 30 days or as long as five years. If the vendor wants a long-term subscription, we recommend that you start with the shortest – probably one or two years.

If you do agree to a longer term of three to five years, make sure you have an out clause. Typically this would provide a window of opportunity to break the contract during a specific time window. For example, it might allow you to walk after one month of using the system but before 90 days. Another example might be the ability to break the contract if certain levels of service are not provided consistently.

4. Service Level Agreements (SLAs)
Regardless of what you pay for the system, reliability is paramount. The SLA is the vendor’s commitment to keeping the system up and running. It is typically expressed as a percentage of “up time.” You will almost always see the SLA represented as 99.9% or thereabouts. However, there is wide variation in how that number is calculated. Many vendors will simply start with 100% and subtract time during which their internal systems reported an error. Most of these SLAs leave far too much wiggle room for vendors.

If this new SaaS system is mission critical, push the SLA issue to see who is really ready to stand behind their service. The SLA topic is far too detailed to delve into all the considerations here, so we’ll refer you to this great blog post on SLAs. However, we’ll suggest you focus most on the penalty for breaking the SLA when negotiating. Usually these penalties are paltry discounts paid out against future purchases. Just pushing for bigger penalties will provide great insight into the reliability of the system.

5. Renewals
Hopefully, you will want to renew your contract. However, given that the renewal process provides an important exit opportunity from a bad contract, as well as an opportunity to re-negotiate, make sure you are still in control when the renewal date comes around. Be on the lookout for something known as an “evergreen” renewal. An evergreen automatically renews your term, usually 30 days prior to expiration.

If you spot an evergreen renewal, ask to remove it. When a company refuses to remove the clause, this is a red flag. The vendor should have to continue to win your business. Not the other way around. Vendors who offer quality services can be confident that their customers will renew based on value, not because the customer forgot to cancel in time.

6. Scalable Pricing
As your business changes, you may want to expand your use of the system; or, unfortunately, you might need to scale back your use if business deteriorates. It seems likely that your vendor will be more than happy to grow your account, but what if you need to downgrade? In the current economy, this is all too common. Present this scenario to the salesperson and know your options.

In most cases, the vendor will not let you downgrade until the end of your term – another reason to keep the term relatively short. However, if you get in a pickle, you might be able to offer to extend the term of your contract in return for lowering the scale of your subscription.

7. Support
No matter how good the system is, you will need a little help somewhere along the way. Knowing what help is included in your support package is very important. A key point you will want to know is how you will receive support. Is it delivered via the web, by email, phone, or chat? Also ask about the hours of support availability. Is support available 24 / 7 or only during business hours?

Moreover, you should know the quality of support included in your package. A valuable metric for support quality is the response time guarantee. The best support organizations guarantee a thirty minute response time for emergencies and two hours in all other cases. Having a dedicated support staff (i.e. a “customer success manager”) is also very helpful. Flesh these points out in the contract. Just keep in mind that high levels of support might cost a little extra.

8. Backups and Recovery
You’ve trusted someone else with valuable business data; you don’t want them to lose it. Luckily, almost every SaaS vendor performs regular data backups. However, some providers backup more frequently than others. Most vendors will backup data either on a daily or weekly basis. If you input valuable data every day, then you will want to ensure the provider performs a backup each day. Others might back up throughout the day.

The way the backups are performed is also important. Some vendors maintain numerous backups, while others maintain only one and overwrite the previous backup. Creating separate entries allows you to rollback to a prior date if necessary. This takes up a lot of space so you will probably have to ask for it specifically. The final consideration with backups is whether the data is backed up in a separate data center. Keeping it at a separate center will add a buffer against data loss in the event of a data center disaster.

9. Data export
Finally, you will want to include a clause about data export. Two things are key here: you should always retain ownership of your data and you should know how to get it back. This will be most important in two scenarios: 1) if you want to migrate to a new system because you are unsatisfied; or, 2) the vendor goes out of business and you need access to your data even before you select a new system.

The method for getting your data back will vary, but common methods include a XML, CSV, and HTML. For the very technical, a SQL export may be better. That’s all well and good but what happens if the company fails? Most SaaS vendors have prepaid the data center hosting company to “keep the lights on” for a couple months in case they go out of business. This will keep the doors open long enough to get your data exported.

In the comments section below, please share your personal experiences with contract neogtiations. Also, feel free to add other considerations that you feel are important.

Read more from MRP Software Advice at: http://www.softwareadvice.com/articles/enterprise/9-key-points-to-negotiate-in-a-saas-agreement-1112310/#ixzz18ESYSOK4

Put Some Thunder into that Cloud
Cloud computing lacks performance

Cloud computing, by design, is intended for economies of scale. As I have blogged before in the past (see 10 Reasons why Cloud Computing is “Too Awesome”), the cloud has many benefits, but performance is not one of them (see Gripe #2 of Top 10 Cloud Computing Complaints).  With so many applications moving into the cloud and so many companies taking cloud initiatives, it is absolutely imperative that end user performance is not compromised. This article will dive into some of the bottlenecks experienced with the cloud and what actions can be taken to address these issues.

Moving your applications from your datacenter into a much larger datacenter (cloud) hosted by somebody else has many advantages. However, in regards to end user performance and server offload, you are only moving the problem around, not solving it. Sure once you’re in the cloud you can easily fire up a few extra servers, as needed, to handle the extra load. However, you can’t always plan for that extra traffic and how much will these additional servers end up costing?

Regardless of where your applications are hosted, they need to be accessed by your customers or users. As the distance of your users increase from the physical location of the cloud, so do your challenges. A user accessing your site from the other side of the globe may have to go through over a dozen of networks (hops) before it arrives to your website or server.  These networks are using BGP to route traffic that is entirely based on economical relationships they have contracted with each other, not for performance! Furthermore, HTTP is a very chatty protocol that is layered on top of TCP, a very reliable yet polite protocol. By polite I mean it waits for a packet to be received before sending the next packet.  This is fine if users are close to the datacenter but increase the number of hops and you increase the chance of a delay as TCP will wait until it hits timeout on lost packets before sending another one. During this delay your users experience what I like to call “hot freeze”, your application is running but it appears it has been frozen or not responding because it is waiting on a packet.

As web applications become more and more sophisticated these delays can become catastrophic. Programmers will need to write some very tight code that executes on the server and has minimal I/O traffic with the end user. Besides creating more efficient web applications there are other technologies available to battle the inherent issues of the internet. IP based acceleration products can accelerate from the transport layer (layer 4) to the application layer (layer 7) and come in the form of hardware (appliances) and services.  The appliances sit in the datacenter and help performance for local users, but have very little gain for global users. The services are led by CDN giant Akamai and many of its competitors such as NetDNA, fastSoft, Cotendo, Limelight, CDN Networks, and Level 3 Communications who offer similar services. Competition is heating up in the space as the different companies use various technologies to increase web performance between the end user and the cloud.

Regardless of which cloud service you put your application on, if performance is important you will need to budget for such acceleration services.  So if your cloud is too fluffy and missing a little thunder, take a look at the services these vendors offer so you can have your cake and eat it too!

Posted by: Vala Shahabi | April 1, 2010

Application Virtualization and VDI

Application Virtualization and VDI

Virtualization to the Max

It almost seems like virtualization is now everywhere. We started by first virtualizing servers, then we virtualized applications, and now we’re virtualizing desktops.  What else is there left to virtualize…ourselves?  One thing I’ve promised my readers when I started this blog is to report on the latest ideas of what I’m seeing customers do with virtualization technologies. Recently I came across a company in Canada who is looking to put together a desktop virtualization solution for professionals such as dentists, doctors, lawyers, etc.  Basically, they are providing a completely managed Desktop as a Service (DaaS) platform by leveraging VDI in combination with Application Virtualization.

What are they doing?

They are using VDI to give users a common desktop so regardless of what’s going on with their physical PCs or thin clients, the VDI environment will give them a safe and stable desktop.  I understand a lot of people out there are already deploying VDIs with applications to different customers. What sets this company in Canada apart from everyone else is that they’re doing this by managing just one vanilla Windows XP image.  This way they don’t need to manage and maintain several different VDI images for all their different customers. As a result, they require less management meaning better TCO.

What about the applications?

The applications are being streamed in an on-demand fashion by an application virtualization and streaming technology. The applications their clients require are packaged and stored on a single server that sits in the same location as the VDI servers.  The close proximity allows them to be streamed in an almost instantaneous matter.  By centrally managing the applications, upgrades and patches can easily be performed without having to create and deploy new VDI images to customer desktops saving enormous amount of IT personal time and making patching/upgrading mission critical.  In addition, by streaming the applications to various VDI instances from a central server, application licenses can be centrally managed and tracked so an organization can further benefit from better licensing utilization.

So how are they doing this?

They are using VDI and Application Streaming and Virtualization. They are using Citrix’s XenDesktop 4 to power the VDI and they are using Endeavors Technolgies’ Application Jukebox to stream and virtualize the applications. They have setup Active Directory to manage their users and have integrated both technologies to capitalize on the AD. Once they add applications to Application Jukebox, they can simply assign a license to an AD user group and all the users in that group can access that application via a web portal or the administrator can auto-deploy it to different VDI clients using group policy.

Benefits?

Professional type organizations don’t have the luxury to have an IT person at hand to troubleshoot OS or Application issues. They just need a solution that will work day in and day out without having to think about it.  This type of solution is very easy to adapt because it doesn’t require any additional purchase of hardware. If and when they need new hardware, they can buy an inexpensive thin client.  I think the monthly subscription price point for the DaaS will justify the outsourcing.  If it’s too expensive then people will not adapt but if priced correctly organizations will see it as a no brainer. Other benefits include being able to access your desktop from any web browser in the world and the ability to easily expand or move offices without experiencing any downtime.

What’s Next?

I believe this company will be successful with their business model of providing DaaS. They seem to already have a couple customers awaiting the release and expect to grow to thousands of desktops within a year. As that number increases, economies of scale will work in their favor and allow them to lower their monthly subscription fee while maintaining a healthy margin.

Posted by: Vala Shahabi | March 2, 2010

Four Key Components to build an App Store

Application Stores, or App Stores, seem to be the latest rave. With Apple introducing the App Store for the iPhone a several years ago, the idea has definitely caught on for the mobile platform.  Blackberry and Verizon soon followed suit with their own version of the App Store. Now the idea has progressed from the mobile platform to the PC.  Wouldn’t it be cool if you can just login to a website and be able to start running applications as easy and seamlessly as it’s done via iTunes? This idea is soon to be a reality.

Citrix last month launched Dazzle, it’s version of an App Store with virtualization and streaming of applications. I’ve demoed Dazzle and I like the interface, ease, and quickness of applications becoming available.  While Dazzle is aimed at the enterprise, I want to take this blog and discuss what is needed to properly build an App Store for the consumer.

An App Store consists of four components: hosting, e-commerce, delivery technology, and content.  Each component is equally important because if you are missing one of the four parts you won’t have an App Store.  For example, without content you won’t have any applications to sell.  The challenge today is getting software vendors to buy into the idea of an App Store and the possibility of having to change their licensing module to a SaaS subscription model.

1. Hosting

An App Store is similar to a website in that it will need to be hosted on a server somewhere on the Internet. Depending on how much traffic you anticipate and how many applications will be delivered will determine how many servers will be required to distribute the load.  Ideally you will want a distributed system with a server in each region of the United States. I recommend Rackspace as they are great hosting platform. You may also consider leveraging a web caching service so you can do more with less.

2. E-commerce platform

Once you have your hosting setup the next step is to find or build an e-commerce platform. The site must be able to manage users, accounts, billing, and make the applications available once they have been purchased.  The site should be able to integrate with the delivery technology you pick. Shopify.com is a pretty cool site but will need an add-on similar to Fetch to make it an app store. For a mock up app store you can checkout http://ondemand.endeavors.com

3. Delivery Technology

The third crucial piece of technology that is needed is a way to deliver the applications via the Internet in a way that there is no download or install process. The application should stream down and become available to use instantly.  The delivery technology should be able to manage upgrades seamlessly. In the case of a subscription model, if the user cancels their subscription it should prevent the user from running the application.  Also, to make it simple and easy to use similar to the iTunes experience, the application needs to be delivered ready to use with full integration with the host OS. The end user experience of the application should not be changed meaning proper start menu icons, files associations, printing, and integration with other applications/devices. Endeavors Technologies has a product called Application Jukebox – SaaS Edition that fits the bill and was designed for this use.  It is designed to be integrated with an e-Commerce site and deliver any type of Windows application over the wide area network.

4. Content

Finally, the last piece of puzzle is content. Without content you simply just have some cool technology.  Whatever the applications may be or the purpose of the App Store, you will need the permission of the software vendors to be able to resale their applications in such a manner. In the future we will see App Stores for nich markets such as Small Business applications or Engineering applications. The owner of the App Store will seek out all the applications in this field and make them available for customers to download.  Customers will have a huge variety of applications to pick from.  They will see titles they have never heard of and will have the opportunity to quickly evaluate the application without actually installing anything or affecting their system.

The idea of an App Store for delivering Windows based applications is already cooking in Europe and other parts of the world. It will only be a matter of time before it catches on in the United States. Once it does, it will change the way we acquire and think about software. Like iTunes did for music, I see it cutting down on piracy as it makes it easier and more affordable to obtain what you’re looking for rather then trying dodgy pirate sites that may get you a virus.

Posted by: Vala Shahabi | January 29, 2010

iPad and VDI – A Match Made in the Cloud

With Apple launching its long anticipated version of a tablet type device named iPad, analysts have had a hard time getting their heads around the WOW factor of this device. Many have been mocking it, calling it just “a giant iPod.”  Well, it really is.  However, it is big enough that you can actually do things on it, compact enough you can easily take it anywhere, and less expensive than a decent laptop so it has it’s own niche in the market.

Some of the hype around the iPad is its book store but I don’t think anyone is going to shell out $500 for a book reader, besides, staring at a color screen for hours must be very straining on the eyes compared to Amazon Kindle’s electronic paper display technology. Nobody is really going to buy an iPad to listen to music  so it leaves it with movies/you tube and web browsing and that’s not enough reasons to spend $500 for an additional device.

So what will captivate people to make the iPad a success for Apple and make these analysts bite their tongue? Really cool apps would do it.  Apps that need a larger screen than an iPhone/iPod but are simple enough they don’t need a full-blown laptop.  Educational apps can definitely take advantage of the touch screen interface and provide real hands on learning experience. They must be simple to use so children can easily play with them.

The iPad is really designed for the ultimate web experience so I wonder if Apple will finally support Flash so you can run cool cloud computing apps.  With the 3G version you can access the internet anywhere there is WiFi or AT&T coverage.  Which brings me to the whole point of this blog. With internet connectivity and a device with a big enough screen this will open the floodgates of Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI). VDI is basically a desktop that you can access from anywhere using any type of device. You can have all your application on this VDI. Citrix has a product called XenDesktop that can seamlessly deliver a desktop to any device using minimal bandwidth. Imagine having access to your entire work machine from your iPad.  You can login and view a file, work on a document, access a file on a network share, send an email via outlook exchange server, or do whatever it is you do on your work machine from anywhere you have internet access with your compact little iPad.

Devices like this iPad will put the cool factor in VDI and make it a more practical deployment.

Posted by: Vala Shahabi | December 23, 2009

CloudFutures Software Vendors SaaS Migration USA

CloudFutures Software Vendors SaaS Migration USA
San Jose, CA Dec 7-8, 2009

Earlier this month I had the pleasure of attending the CloudFutures Software Vendors SaaS Migration conference in San Jose, CA.  Endeavors Technologies was there to support our partner VisionApp in their launch of their new App Store: Piazza.

I really enjoyed day 1 of the conference and listening to keynotes from Terry Wise of Amazon Web Services and Mark Trang of Salesforce.com.  However the presentation I found the most useful was by CEO of Saugatuck Technology, Bill McNee. Bill went into detail of what the upcoming SaaS market will look like and what to expect from the future. Here is what I took away not only from his speech, but also from the conference in general:

  • The software industry is moving from product centric to services centric. There will be a new level of customer intimacy and ISVs who wish to be successful will have to rethink how they engage selling services.  They will be required to leverage more web 2.0 technologies and social networking sites.  It will be very important to make customers successful. Saleforce.com’s motto is “Make customer success a religion” by building a special customer success team (different than customer support team)
  • SaaS is recession resilient with purchases getting stronger through 2011. Companies with 100-499 employees will be the most aggressive adopters of SaaS followed by 500-1000 employees. By 2014 cloud computing will capture 40% of ALL IT spending.
  • On premise (traditional software) will bounce back in to 2010 but will not grow as fast as SaaS will. However, the on premise world is not going away, hybrid architecture will gap the bridge.
  • In order for a SaaS Vendor to survive and be profitable, they must continuously reduce costs and offer Multi tenancy. Multi Tenancy is important if you want to be profitable. It is very important but it does involve extra development costs.  If building for Saas, your customers may change, specs change, spend the money to see what the market wants and pretend you don’t know your current customers. ALWAYS start with your small customers. Operational costs between 14-35% of gross revenue are normal.
  • SaaS will:
    • Reduce IT infrastructure costs
    • Reduce capital invetment
    • Reduce IT mgmt/support costs
    • Simplify systems mgmt
    • Convert fixed IT costs to variable costs
  • SaaS transition best practices
    • Identify a new or adjacent business opportunity or dramatically expand the footprint/value proposition
    • Size matters – salesforce will be important
    • Every aspect of the company will be impacted by the shift to SaaS
    • Don’t forget the IT infrastructure – lower costs, increase value
    • Focus keeping your customer happy and content makes your success
    • Pick your battles – rely heavily on partners
  • API – very important for driving adaption. Have an API customers can easily build into. Don’t try to guess what they’ll do with the API, build it and let them surprise you.
  • With on-premise infrastructure 30% of time is used on your business while 70% is used managing all of the “heavy lifting” (i.e. software development, server hosting, purchase decisions, heterogeneous hardware, etc). With SaaS you can flip the switch and spend 70% on your business and 30% on the heavy lifting.
Posted by: Vala Shahabi | December 18, 2009

10 Reasons why Cloud Computing is “Too Awesome”

Don’t we just love top 10 lists? There must be a top ten list for just about everything out there, including cloud computing, but here is a list of why it’s “Too Awesome”.

1. Benefits for SMB

They say small businesses are the fuel of this country. In a time of economic turmoil, it is small businesses that can grow and expand our economy by providing products and services better then large companies and creating jobs.  Cloud computing is too awesome for SMBs as it enables them to keep costs down by placing all their enterprise type software into the cloud. These applications typically require dedicated servers and IT staff to manage the servers and the applications.  With technologies like VDI (Virtual Desktop Infrastructure) they can also run their desktops from the cloud, giving anytime, anywhere access to their desktop.  This enables a remote workforce that allows the business to run with a smaller office (further cost cuts).   Check out these two links for more info: Business Opportunities and Threats in Technology Cloud and Top Tips on Cloud Computing for Small Businesses

2. Lower Costs

Cloud computing transfers infrastructure costs to the data center host. With cloud computing, businesses of all sizes can instantly obtain the benefits of an enormous infrastructure without having to implement and administer it directly.  Amazon EC2 charges only 8.5¢ an hour of compute time that is down from 10¢! If the software vendors are able to lower their costs, they can lower the prices of the services they provide to their customers.  If their customers have lower IT costs they can provide their products to their customers for less.  The savings can trickle down to the end user. Too Awesome!

3. Any Platform, Any Device

With on premise software, we have been tied down to a particular OS and platform. With cloud computing and SaaS, applications running in the cloud can be accessed from any kind of device that has Internet access. Cloud computing is too awesome because it will enable your Smartphone to access the same types of applications and data you can access with your computer.  Giving you flexibility over how you access your applications and data.

4. On Demand Access

Being able to access your applications and data from anywhere at anytime has some major advantages.  Employees are no longer tied to the office and can work remotely around the clock.  Also, in the case their laptop is stolen or damaged, they will experience very little downtime as they can easily switch to another machine and have access to all their applications and data. This is too awesome because any documents you work on can be made to follow your `through the cloud`.

5. End of Software Piracy

While on premise software will not go away anytime soon, many applications will find themselves in the cloud. Since these websites will require a username and password to access their applications, it will be near impossible to pirate. With fewer titles available, the pirate scene will have less applications to pirate.  ISVs will find cloud computing too awesome as they will slowly gain unrealized revenues.

6. Private Clouds

Private Clouds are too awesome because they allow cloud computing to be secure for the enterprise.  With private clouds your data remains behind your firewall so access is limited to those who are trusted. They are also awesome because they will allow for faster adoption of cloud computing technology by large enterprises where security is a major issue.

7. Less Support Issues

Simply put, cloud computing removes the software off the desktop and onto the server. The majority of current IT challenges are incompatibilities and issues on the end user’s desktop.  End users have infinite number of environments that can break the most thoroughly tested applications.  By running applications through a browser, there is a finite amount of environments. Support issues will not only decrease, but they will change from time consuming troubleshooting issues to integration and simple “how do I” questions.  This is too awesome news for ISVs looking to cut costs but bad news for those who work in desktop/software support.

8. IT Staff

What happens when you remove the applications from the desktop? Suddenly you have less support issues. This is a major shift in how desktops will be managed and where IT will spend a majority of their time and effort.

What does this mean for IT staff in an enterprise organization? Suddenly the majority of their time is spent managing the server racks and not so much at the desktop.  This is too awesome for enterprises that have large desktop support groups and would like to cut costs.

9. Security

You must think I have gone completely mad to list security as a too awesome reason for cloud computing. Cloud computing definitely introduces some new security vulnerabilities because data is no longer stored behind an enterprise’s secure network.  But how secure is that network and how much can we trust the individuals that have access to data in that network? Fact is, most security breaches occur internally. Employees accessing data they should not be allowed to see or stealing computers/storage devices. If your entire user’s data is in the cloud and a laptop is stolen, there is very little data compromised. Finally I want to make the point that you should think of the cloud as a bank. Is your money safer under your mattress or in their vault?

10. Green Friendly

It’s always too awesome if a new technology can be green. Electricity plays a huge resource for datacenters and cloud computing. Cloud computing is green because less servers are required to do the same function.  For example, a small business may have 2-3 physical servers running their enterprise applications.  If they move to the cloud, these servers will be abolished and will be replaced by virtual servers in the cloud consuming far less amount of electricity, requiring less hardware, and less cooling.

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