Friday, July 18, 2008

*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.