Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Don't trust the Government ...

Recently I've found myself listening to BBC News at Ten and Huw "fearlessly reads it all" Edward's coverage of the collapse of New Labour and its current "Et tu Brute" approach to our incumbent Prime Minister.

Gordon "wot me lead?" Brown has in my view failed to bring in the fairer Britain that most of us had unreasonably expected him to achieve in his first year of office. What is even more uncomfortable is that the path he has taken has involved rapid u-turns when it comes to the big guns in the city (e.g. non doms), continuation of an attempted erosion of civil liberties (e.g. ID cards and 42 days detention) and a willingness to penalise the least privileged of our society (e.g. removal of the 10% band).

Fortunately he has yet to take "druggie" Dave's approach of lambasting the poor for being poor (I normally despise ad hominem attacks but the gloves were off as soon as he said that - inexcusable). What is now needed from Brown is strong and decisive leadership in tackling the issues of social mobility, social poverty and creating a fairer Britain.

Sod the polls, everyone I know (I'm not on speaking terms with any Daily Mail readers, so it's not representative of all the flotsam and jetsam of our society) wanted Brown rather than Blair as we need more socialistic policies rather than spin. Brown really needs to come out fighting on behalf of the least privileged of our society and if he can't do that, then he should choose to go himself.

As for any New Labour plans to oust its leader because of the bad results (e.g. Glasgow East, London Mayor), that would certainly make a mockery of the idea that you can trust Labour to stand by its principles in hard times. The only thing they'll be good for is being in opposition for the next decade.

Ask the Liberal party how life has been since ousting Charles Kennedy or the Tories after the Maggie saga.

Trust the Government ...

According to Alastair Otter of MyBroadband, whilst the South African government has been a long advocate of open source software, 72% of IT "companies that supply technology to government favour open standards".

Minister Fraser-Moleketi was spot on the money by noting that open source and open standards were important to government because they ensured interoperability and portability. If my straw poll at Cloud Camp London is anything to go on then this is a concern for almost all business users of SaaS and the cloud computing world.

Obviously vendors want to create some form of competitive advantage for themselves, so some sort of compromise is needed between interoperability, portability and vendor competition. A solution to this conundrum is the use open sourced standards, as in the standard itself is an operational piece of open source code.

Whilst compliance to the standard means matching the open source code exactly in terms of functionality, this still leaves plenty of room for operational advantages in how the code is implemented. This approach is suitable for those activities that are ubiquitous, well defined and in reality a cost of doing business i.e. those suitable to an "as a service" world. However despite this, many vendors and their pundits seem prepared to champion SaaS as a new sales vehicle but at the same time they appear unwilling to engage in a world of service competition.

This is why we need people like Fraser-Moleketi fighting our corner.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Phew, it's hot in here ....

The "cloud" is a hot topic, by which I mean it has moved firmly into the transitional stage of its lifecycle and it is therefore becoming more mainstream. There is now so much movement and so many players in the field that the cacophony of noise can be overwhelming to those new to the subject. Eventually de facto standards will emerge but for now you have the maelstrom of players all jostling for position.

I thought I'd make a few comments about things I've found interesting in the last few weeks.

First of all, Artur Bergman and Brad Fitzpatrick are working on a Perl implementation of Google App Engine. From Brad's blog:-

"In the process we can build the start of an open source App Engine server clone that's suitable for many purposes .... but perhaps in the future (once Hypertable/Hbase/etc are ready) a full stack to give to ISPs to let them run App Engine apps on their own."

An open sourced stack allowing ISPs to create an ecosystem of providers, this is very smart move.

Secondly, James Duncan has also just released an open source JavaScript cloud environment. Now James used to be the CIO of Fotango in the Zimki days, so it is no surprise that he has followed an open source route. I see that he has gone for cloneable apps (network effects), open sourced reference model (focus on kickstarting an ecosystem), JavaScript language (allows a wider audience) and maintaining operational advantages through their own implementation (such as the data store). Well it's early days but they've made some smart moves and have every chance of doing very well.

I also note that Zimory are introducing and operating an international trading platform to exchange data center resources. Looks like I'm going to win my bet for computer resource brokers in the next six years. Whilst Zimory's service is principally based upon open source technology, the functionality controlling the connection between the local manager and the marketplace is kept proprietary and patented. That's a pity, as you don't need patent protection here but reputation. Patents might perversely slow the adoption rate.

I haven't seen the patent yet but the idea of exchanges and the ability to "offer and to retrieve data center resources dynamically and on-demand" has been obvious to anyone working in the field for the last five years, not that anyone at the European Patent Office would know that. Still at least we have people moving into the marketspace arena. Personally, I'm also expecting to see Microsoft make a big play in this area.

Lastly, I note that Tim O'Reilly and others have created the Open Web Foundation, an independent non-profit dedicated to the development and protection of open, non-proprietary specifications for web technologies. Whilst this is a positive move, my concern is that their focus will be on specification rather than open sourced standards (i.e. operational open sourced reference models of what is to be provided). Time will tell, however the encouraging sign is that Tim favours the practical approach taken by the IETF of "a rough consensus and running code".

My view is that in a service based economy, it makes logical sense for that "running code" to be the open specification in a cloud computing world. It is all hotting up and the next five years promise a real shake up of the industry.

The printing revolution approaches ...

Back in 2001, I wrote a research report on the future of manufacturing and the commoditisation of the manufacturing process.

I highlighted that we were on a path towards mass customisation and that fabrication technologies (such as 3D printing) would eventually lead to a future were value was predominately in raw materials and design. Eventually 3D printers will print 3D printers and the means of manufacturing will become viral.

All of this is slowly happening and it has been delightful to hear about the recent progress made by the RepRap group in creating a self-replicating machine. Our journey towards these "von Neumann" machines started earnestly back in the 1960's and our journey has been relentlessly steady. My research was not one of prediction but merely of continuation of an existing trend.

I talked about this about EuroFoo '04, where I discussed also the need for open hardware. Personally, 2004 was an important year in the field because it was the first time (to my knowledge) that a concept hybrid printer (capable of printing both physical structure and electronics) was shown to be viable in a research setting. The printing of both physical and electronic structure opens up a world of new possibilities and future development languages.

Printed electronics is still a relatively new field and it has achieved some landmark milestones, such as the first printed polymer thin film transistors in 2000 (Sirringhaus et al.) and the desktop inkjet printing of electronics components (notably from HP, Corvallis). These days we have everything from printed batteries to printed flexible solar cells. It's a fledgling field but it has revolutionary potential.

One question which is often raised is why would consumers want mass customisation. The answer to that is probably because that they've been primed to want it. In order to limit the commoditisation of physical products, advertisers have been pushing the concept of "designed for you" to the public for the past twenty years. The bewildering array of choice in many products is designed not only to engage the consumer in the product but also to make comparison between products more difficult. I suspect that consumers have become comfortable with the concepts of customisation.

Of course in a world of printed physical items, then your average "printing" shop can have a stock of millions of items (without actually having them) and consumer choice becomes vast. This is bad news for the traditional world, as our entry into this digital manufacturing age will allow your average Joe to suddenly become a competitor by publishing their designs. A physical capital intensive barrier of entry into product manufacture (the need for factories, tooling etc) will be significantly eroded by fabrication technology. The nashing of teeth of today's victims (the media / broadcast industry) will pale into insignificance compared to the consumer electronics companies tales of woe tomorrow.

Though we are moving steadily along that path, there is still a long way to go.

It is, however, good to hear of some forward thinking and enlightened companies exploring this area. Now Shapeways, Philips spin-off venture into bureau services for fabrication technology, is hardly anything exciting or new, other people have been doing this for sometime and it is simply provision of SLS, SLA and other well known techniques.

What is however exciting is that Philips, a well funded company which has extensive experience in printed electronics technology, is exploring the cross over into fabrication techniques in the physical world. It is also trying to establish itself close to the centre of this looming design revolution.

The world of printed electronics, printed physical forms and hybrid printers certainly seems to be picking up speed.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Time to let go of the brake ...

I've just been reading on Patently-0 about the following PTO (Patent and Trademarks Office) position on software patents which threatens to invalidate many and perhaps most software patents.

The basis of the argument is that process inventions generally are unpatentable unless they “result in a physical transformation of an article” or are “tied to a particular machine”. The counter argument is that these processes are tied to a computer which is a particular machine. Unfortunately for those with this argument, it seems the PTO does not consider a general purpose computer as a particular machine.

Now for patent trolls this could be a nightmare. For innovation in a society this could create a positive boom. Patents have always been an exchange between information and the right of monopoly, with the overall goal of boosting the rate of innovation in a society. The major issue with patents has been when the length of term of the monopoly has exceeded the likely time of independent discovery in society. In such circumstances patents act as a brake on the rate of innovation and not an accelerator to it.

Ideally, the length of term of a patent should be set to just slightly more than the likely time of independent discovery. This would result in a more equitable but complex system. The current system of one size fits all creates some gross distortions.

The most obvious example of this is in the software industry, where the rate of innovation and independent discovery vastly exceeds the length of term of patents. Ditching the patent system in software is more likely than not to boost the rate of innovation and it is more in keeping with the original goals of the patent system.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Slightly grey swan ....

Well Apple have been upgrading to MobileMe recently. So this morning I was surprised to discover that my entire email account with a mere 7,540 messages in it had disappeared (note: they did reappear later).

Fortunately I don't trust vendor promises in the SaaS world, even promises on email hosting, so I always make my own backups. Now I use a MacBook with MacOSX and I accept James Governor's point on the gorgeousness of walled gardens. However, I'm careful to ensure that either my applications and data are portable, hence I use open office, or that I'm aware of the consequences. Hence whilst I use keynote, I always export to other formats before backing up.

That said, I do rely on my mac.com address, so I better get that sorted.

Despite my careful tendency, I was concerned to read the following forum post from someone who has lost all of their email. Apparently 1% (of which I'm guessing I am one of the lucky few) have experienced a problem. Though I'm sure this is a major headache to some people, this is still a relatively minor scare.

But what happens if you lose more than just access to your email. What if it's your CRM system or your storage service.

Without easy switching between providers (including interoperability and portability) in a cloud computing world and the ability to chose one provider as primary and another as synced backup, then this will happen again and again. One day, some company is going to wake up and discover that all its accounting information has gone or worse still some forward thinking Government department will find itself with a lot of explaining to do.

"Yes Mr Jones, I know we had your detailed medical history stretching over the last five decades, but that was yesterday. So can we start again please ... date of birth?"

"Didn't you have a backup?"

"Yes Mr Jones, it was with the original data at our service provider. So unfortunately we don't have either, but we do have a copy of the SLA."

"Will it help with my treatment?"

"No, not really ... date of birth please?"

Somebody, somewhere should really start an independent business consumer association to provide interoperability and portability information for different service providers. These providers will need to be pressurised towards open sourced standards, easy switching between each other, competitive marketplaces and compliance to the appropriate standard. You will need this for all the usual reasons of second sourcing including competitive pricing, reducing security concerns over vendor lock-in and to enable the use of one provider as primary and another as backup.

It's in business users interest to do this, because none of these ubiquitous activities are a source of competitive advantage to a business user. Your interests are in price and quality of service, not product differentiation for common processes. Vendors and some of their favoured pundits will tell you all sorts of reasons why you don't need this and how feature differentiation provided to tens of thousands of businesses somehow does create you a competitive advantage and that standardisation will just stifle innovation. For a common process, this is just poppycock. Instead standardisation of common processes as services should accelerate business innovation through componentisation.

Some will just do their best to muddy the water but be aware, that black swan event is just around the corner.

Waste not, want not ....

This is fascinating, bioproduced hydrogen (ok, it's anaerobic rather than a photo bioreactor) used to run a generator. Nanologix seem to be involved with some interesting projects.

Monday, July 21, 2008

There's money in that goo ...

Just came across this paper on photobiological hydrogen production using green alga.

Ok, after being completely stunned by the simple beauty of this process, I immediately came across DIY versions.

My immediate questions are, is anyone doing this on a large scale and if not, why not?

Additional Note =====

As soon as I get home, I come across OpenWetWare and a diagram of a photobioreactor. Later on, I was looking for a book on complex adaptive models and I came across my old Stryers BioChemistry and files of old genetics notes. Hmmm, looks like I've found my new hobby.

So, from now on :-

  • Day Job = printed electronics and interactive books that make you go "wow".
  • Speaking / Writing = underlying processes of innovation & commoditisation and the use of cybernetics in management.
  • Hobby = use of genetic engineering in environmental science.

Bloody hell, talk about a lucky bugger.

Smart move ... almost.

Thanks to Tony Lucas for spotting this announcement by 10Gen that they have open sourced their platform as a service technology. Overall it's a move in the right direction but alas somewhat spoiled by ... AGPL.

I'm sort of hoping that Tony and the crowd at Flexiscale make a move into the open source space with an entire GPLv3 stack. They're smart cookies and it can't be long before we see someone make a move and back it up with a partner programme.

Someone, somewhere will make a play to grab the market.

Economically it makes sense, but this is a point of disagreement between myself and James Governor. Will utility computing markets form around open sourced standards? James makes a valid point about consumers choosing proprietary technology but my view is the shift from a product to a service based economy for ubiquitous activities will change this.

Until that time, I suspect that James will continue to cheekily (geddit?) call me the *AAS master. Of course should I be right then there will be no end to my "young padawan" references.

Only time will tell.

Patience, ....

Saturday, July 19, 2008

For the people, by the people ....

The old battleaxe, Ann Widdecombe, has been defending the rights of MPs to get a living wage. Apparently contrary to current reports, not all of them are the snout troughing layabouts we've been led to believe and her concern is that if MPs aren't rewarded properly then we might end up with a lower quality of MP.

I suspect that a £60,000 a year salary seems a handsome reward to most people (it's almost three times the national average). I can only guess that Ann is concerned that we could end up with "poor" people applying to become snout troughers, probably ending up even more lazy and fat than Dave "Druggy" Cameron says they are.

Dave is a a man of the people (well, those who went to Eton and Oxford) and he has been getting to to grips with social issues by lambasting the poor. The faintest whiff of research (instead of Ganja) shows that the lack of social mobility is the problem. The poor can't solve that issue themselves, except in large enough numbers and with sharp enough pitchforks.

Even a simpleton can understand that in today's Britain it's not your ability that matters but who your parents are. Maybe it is time to dust off our own battleaxes; it looks like we do need some new blood in the house of commons.

I read a book ... once ....

Yesterday I started to read Nick Carr's article in the Independent about how "Google is making us stupid".

Nick's idea is that surfing and skimming on the internet is affecting our attention span making it difficult to immerse ourselves in longer articles or books.

I'm sure he came to a compelling conclusion but unfortunately my mind wandered off halfway through. Next time Nick, could you please keep it snappy and less than three paragraphs and please no more books.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Farewell to Enterprise 2.0 ...

Yesterday I gave my last conference talk on Enterprise 2.0 for the foreseeable future. Actually, it wasn't a talk but rather I was on a panel with JP Rangaswami, Nigel Green, and Ajit Jaokar.

Jonathan Robinson was trying and in the most part succeeding to keep us all on track, except of course when I barged in to speak. Unfortunately that was most of the bloody time!

I rarely do panels because I'm awful at them, still I was grateful to finish my meanderings in this field on a high note such as Enterprise 2.0 Mashup.

The audience was very forgiving.

If you want to keep tabs on the Enterprise 2.0 world, I really recommend reading Euan, Jenny, Dion and of course Andrew.

For me, the future is all spime, spime, spime, spime ....

(See the Monty Python sketch)

*aaS time goes by ....

CloudCamp London was a blast, congratulations Alexis. This was my swan song on utility computing (I need to focus on printed electronics from now on), so I was really pleased to be given the opportunity to kick off the event with the first talk. The environment was excellent, the organisers had done a fabulous job and the audience were ruddy marvellous.

I did get the opportunity to ask the audience two questions at the end (prompted by none other than James Governor) to which I was surprised by the strength of response. Almost everyone agreed that:-

  • portability and interoperability was important.
  • proprietary technology and standards through committee wouldn't provide this.

Now if you are interested in the what is going on in the cloud, I'd urge you to keep tabs on Rich Miller and James Urquhart.

For me, the critical issue for the future in the cloud remains the formation of markets based upon portability and interoperability between providers offering common services. This is why open sourced standards matter, however keep an eye on James' as he will keep you on the straight and narrow.

Addition =========

That said, I couldn't resist this parting comment on Nick Carr's blog post.

Given that the "as as service" world is simply about the shift of ubiquitous activities from a product to a service based economy, then competition based on price and quality of service in marketplaces of common services with portability & interoperability between vendors seems logical. Unless of course you're a vendor for a common product who is not willing to accept a new reality. It's tough really, but that's the Red Queen for you, the constant need to adapt to the marketplace just in order to stand still.

Portability and interoperability between providers is necessary for all the usual user concerns of second sourcing - price competition, security and so forth. Shifting the mentality of product differentiation into a service world is not only counter to second sourcing, it makes little sense for something which is becoming ubiquitous and well defined.

The most logical route is for the entire service to be open sourced, encouraging the formation of markets and hence emergent standards.

We've been seeing some of that recently and interestingly at CloudCamp London, when asked, most participants thought that interoperability and portability between providers was important and that this wouldn't be achieved with proprietary technology and standards by committee.

So I have to agree with Chris on the importance of open source but this won't be an exclusive situation in much there same way that there will be niche product areas and there will also be plenty of new lucrative opportunities from the establishment of commodity markets in computing resources.

As for Ellison buying his way into the market as traditional revenues decline, it of course makes complete sense to maximize existing revenues that are being cannibalised. However, the rub here is the same with any disruptive innovation, the switch of consumers can quickly become a flood and not a trickle and many traditional players will be trying to shift into the new space when it does. Timing will be critical and there will be casualties from this shift.

Of course, as big as this change is, it is potentially small fry compared to the looming commoditisation of the manufacturing process itself through digital fabrication technologies. The combination of open source to hardware with digitisation of fabrication techniques and an approaching future of machines printing machines promises a whole new world of commoditisation, componentisation, accelerating innovation and ever more creative destruction.

But then, this has been going on for donkeys years.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Amphilab is born ....

Well, Manolis (of bLink fame) and I have just formed a company to look at commercialising technology in the physical / digital interaction field.

So what does that mean? Printed electronics, books with hyperlinks and everyday objects which do extraordinary things.

I'll be wrapping up my long running talks on utility computing at CloudCamp, finishing with my over extended stay in the world of Enterprise 2.0 at MashUp and saying a fond farewell to Web 2.0 at Singularity. From now on, it's a step out of the mainstream and back into the brave new world of Spimes.

I couldn't be happier.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Question ...

Read any of the papers today and it would seem as if the U.K. is currently undergoing an epidemic of violence.

According to the British Crime Survey, knives were involved in 169,000 violent incidents in 2005 causing somewhere between 22,000 and 60,000 injuries and resulting in 235 deaths.

I'd just like to note that in 2005, there were also 198,700 incidents involving cars resulting in 25,000 serious injuries and 3,200 deaths including 3,500 children who were either seriously harmed or killed.

Obviously people don't intend to harm someone else when they drive a car, however some people also argue that they only carry knives for protection. Regardless of how misguided such reasoning is, there is a question of intent. Hence, I am curious as to whether drink is a significant factor in both knife and car crime.

The reason I mention this is that David Cameron has recently spoken about how anyone convicted of carrying a knife should be jailed despite the widespread nature of this activity. This raises a question. If people are automatically jailed for carrying a knife when they don't intend to cause harm, should we not also automatically jail people for drink driving despite their not intending to cause harm?

I'd like to know what the figures are - am I more at risk from a pissed up city worker driving an SUV after some long lunch, or from a hoodie with a knife?

Fish or Chips?

One of the great debates at the moment is around the Fish or Chips question. Should you have Fish or should you have Chips and how do you decide between the two?

I amazed that people are still having a SaaS vs Open Source debate. Fortunately some people, like Zimbra, understand the change that is occuring.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

More duck with your pheasant?

One minute standards are too early, the next Bert tells us that standards are right for the cloud - here's theirs. Don't worry, Bert has given us something new to think about in his post on Open Source does NOT provide interoperability.

Of course, arguments just like portability need more than one participant. I'm not aware of anyone who would argue that Open Source, on its own, brings interoperability. What is sometimes discussed is how open sourced standards (i.e. complete open sourced operational reference models for a service) can be used (along with multiple service providers, trademarks and compliance authorities) to create competitive utility computing markets which have interoperability and portability between service providers.

Open source is key to this, it is critical for competitive markets and it is the only practical way of achieving it without entering a lock-in nightmare of a proprietary reference model. If Bert actually wanted to create an argument he could have said that Open Source is not key for interoperability in the cloud, then we'd have something to discuss.

I'm somewhat bored by all the vendors who try to explain why those components of IT which are ubiquitous aren't going to end up as services and who attempt to bring product mentality into a service world. The argument runs counter to an economy based on services. It's like those half baked ideas which pronounced the death of IT through commoditisation and ignore the feedback created by standard components (from commoditisation) which in turn leads to even faster innovation (as per the whole theory of componentisation).

However, since Bert is picking on open source, I thought I'd point out a few probable flaws with his argument:-

"Although there are open source systems for the base technology, they aren’t a complete solution". Well it's no surprise that without open sourced standards there is no interoperability. The closest we've seen to open sourced standards are the open SDK of GAE (Google App Engine) and Eucalyptus.

"Each provider must complete the solution themselves". Fortunately an open sourced standard is a reference model, it provides all the primitives. You can either implement it, or something that matches it. For example, if you consider that the open SDK of GAE is an open sourced standard, then GAE is simply Google's implementation of the open SDK and AppDrop is another.

"providers are looking for competitive advantage". There are two forms of competitive advantage here. One is in operational advantage, as in a faster, cheaper or somehow better implementation of the standard. The second is in product differentiation (a new feature etc). Product differentiation can* kill interoperability and it belongs in the product world and not in the world of ubiquitous activities treated as services.

"debian to ubuntu, Suse to Fedora, Redhat to CentOS": these are all competing products in a product world. In a service world you could get marketplaces such as "Fedora" as a Service where you will get Fedora and not something else. You could swap between service providers and know that as long as they complied with the "Fedora" standard it will work. Interoperability can be achieved with a proprietary standard, but it means the service provider gives up some strategic control of their business to the technology vendor. The use of open source in the standard is also about protecting the service provider (such as small ISPs) and reducing their barriers to adopting a standard.

I have no financial or commercial interests in the cloud world, I do however see lots of vendors either trying to persuade business consumers that interoperability, lock-in and portability are not issues, or that some committee will save the day.

I do wish Bert the best of luck with his standards committee, however if you are a consumer of these services, you really need to ask yourself whether you want the poachers to be the gamekeepers in a service world or whether it's business consumers who should be running any standards committee.

*I've added this conditionality in response to a comment by James Urquhart, with which I completely agree.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Why an apple is not a pear ...

Today I spoke at OpenTech. Overall, it went quite well.

However I did find myself on the receiving end of a rant from one of the attendees about how open standards won't allow someone to switch from Amazon's EC2 to Google App Engine.

I must admit I was somewhat perplexed at why this person ever thought they would and why they were talking to me about it. I explained my view but I also thought that I'd reiterate the same points here.

From the ideas of componentisation, the software stack contains three main stable layers of subsystems from the application to the framework to hardware. This entire software stack is shifting from a product to a service based economy (due to commoditisation of IT) and this will eventually lead to numerous competitive utility computing markets based upon open sourced standards at the various layers of this stack.

These markets will depend upon substitutability (which includes portability and interoperability) between providers. For example you might have multiple providers offering services which match the open SDK of Google App Engine or another market with providers matching Eucalyptus. What you won't get is substitutability from one layer of the stack (e.g. the hardware level where EC2 resides) to another (e.g. the framework level where GAE resides). They are totally different things: apples and pears.

On a related note, open standards and open sourced standards are also completely different things. Open standards are specifications including open APIs and open data formats. On the other hand an open sourced standard is an operational piece of code. The code is the standard not any specification.

In my view it is open sourced standards and not "open standards" which will create substitutability. Furthermore these standards will emerge through competition and adoption rather than committee.

My apologies for repeating myself in the last few posts, but I've increasingly found myself being challenged over my views and hence I thought it was best to reinforce these ideas.

Friday, July 04, 2008

RedMonk talks clouds.

I've been busy with my new project, but I've just picked up all the cloud talk going on at RedMonk.

I've left a brief comment, so I thought I'd post a copy here as well.


Good post.

I've talked about this stuff for a long time but to cut a long story short, standards (as in open formats and APIs) are not enough to create portability and interoperability between providers nor do they solve the additional issues of competition and strategic control for vendors (and a host of others).

We are likely to only achieve competitive utility computing markets where we "write and run enterprise applications that you could move from cloud to cloud" if the markets are based upon open sourced standards.

Since IT is moving from a product to a service based economy with competition on Price vs QoS rather than product differentiation, the use open sourced standards is obvious for the service provision of ubiquitous activities.

It is however unappealing for those vendors who are wedded to a product world with competition based upon features. For those willing to accept the new world, there will be opportunities from brokerages to exchanges to compliance authorities and so on.

Posts you might find of interest.


As for Alistair Croll's question on whether there is a way of solving the SaaS lock-in (or more correctly lack of second sourcing) issue - well yes there is, it's called open source. The real question that should be asked is when will the *aaS vendors realise that they are competing in a service and not a product based economy?

One final warning, as I've said before there will be more open sourced standards at the application layer of the stack than the framework (now called platform) and the hardware (now called infrastructure) layer. If your "product" doesn't become the open sourced standard when a market emerges around that service offering (whether it's CRM, HR, ERP or JavaScript Development Environments or VM etc), then the odds are it's game over for you. Standardisation and consolidation go hand in hand in the service world.

This is a disruptive change that is going on, and there will be casualties from the product world.