Thursday, February 22, 2007

NBL maybe NBT.

I picked up this post by Steve Yegge on the NBL (next big language). He didn't say what the language was, but you should read the comments. I agree - JavaScript. When we started Zimki our intention was to remove all those unwanted yak-shaving tasks which got in the way of creating something. I called this campaign - Free Tom - much to Tom's annoyance.

We then built a JavaScript application development & hosting environment. One language front and backend (JavaScript), utility hosting environment (no capex) and persistence (not a relational database but instead a key/object store). Everything accessed through an API, even the client desktop tool for developing uses the same APIs.

A great moment for me was when Tom, during a break at D.Construct built and released a wiki with autopreview in under 25 minutes. Let us be clear here - from concept to development to live on the web as a running service within 25 minutes. I can't even get a hosting arrangement sorted out in that time usually.

So at FOWA I talked about Zimki & commoditisation, about building online in JavaScript without the need to worry about servers, hosting and databases. I talked about our plans to open source the entire technology later this year in order to create a fully competitive utility computing grid and to remove lock-in. So far, Zimki and the API services behind it have been blooming. We started with three applications consuming the services in Feb '06, by April '06 we had 600k API calls, by June '06 we had dozens of applications, over 2.8M API calls and 150 developer accounts. Today, we're into the many thousands of developer accounts.

The comments ranged from some real interest, to the very flattering (p.s. Thanks, I'm always nervous when speaking as I find it such a privilege to do so and very demanding to get it right, even if it is less than ten minutes) and the I don't get it, where's the business model? Sadly there's some old skool VCs & IT folk out there who just don't get how the IT world is moving to a utility basis.

Well you can't always get the message across clearly in eight minutes. Other than the trivial selling resources into the cloud there are further opportunities which are all fairly obvious. However, this got me thinking, maybe they are just obvious to us? This subject does seem to be something new to many people, you do need to change the way you think about IT.

Now, I've been talking about commoditisation for a long time, and I am also lucky to exist in a social environment surrounded by some very smart people. To find the money, you just need to ask yourself the questions of:-
1) Is there a distinction between the electricity generators and the electricity providers?
2) What was the impact of standardisation and the national grid?

Could commoditisation actually be the Next Big Thing? Well in my view, it's been the NBT for a very, very long time - it just doesn't get the same buzz as the "new" stuff. Until, of course, we start thinking it is "new".

-- 22nd Feb 2016

Tidied up some of the typos, paragraph structure and width adjusted. Well, it's almost a decade later and Javascript is still but not quite the NBT.

Alas, many of the links are now broken.