Monday, April 30, 2012

The Cloud Backbone – Infrastructure: Digital Nibbles Podcast episode 008

I'm hosting solo this week and our guests are Ben Kepes from Diversity Limited and Reza Malekzadeh from Nimbula. Ben chats about the infrastructure and tech industry in New Zealand and how that ties to the opportunity in emerging markets while Reza tackles a discussion of the open source model and where the infrastructure as a service (IaaS) industry is heading.

You can find Ben on Twitter @BenKepes  
Show Timeline:
0:00: Reuven updates us on his travels in Korea and covers the News of the Week
10:13: Interview with Ben Kepes from Diversity Limited
24:57: Interview with Reza Malekzadeh from Nimbula
35:21: Wrap up

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

#DigitalNibbles On The Road: Cloud Computing in China with Intel's Billy Cox

Chatting with Intel's Billy Cox outside Olympic Park in Beijing. We discuss the cloud computing marketing in China.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

A Venture Into The Business of Business in the People's Republic of China

View from my Hotel in Shanghai
My Asian adventure continues. This time I'm writing from Shanghai. Like many of my trips to the region, I've learned more in a few days than you could in a lifetime of studying the Chinese IT business scene from afar. At this point that fact that I've build and sold a Chinese joint venture puts me in a rather unique position to describe the business landscape in China like no other. Not just from a purely academic one but from a practical one. One that allowed me to experience the full lifecycle of a Chinese JV. In my case, this lifecycle went from concept, to funding to sale within 16 months and included a cast of characters ranging from senior party members, international funders and business partners. To say business in China is exciting would be putting it mildly.

I've often described business here as an episode of TV show Madmen. Done in smoke filled rooms with significant quantities of liquor flowing freely. A business scene dominated by influence. Who you know and who you can introduce are central. A social network based on degrees of separation in the most human of ways. Your social graph in China is your currency and how you leverage it is key to your success here.

Another observation is that money and access to it is extremely accessible. This is thanks in part to strong government support for international joint ventures (such of my previous JV) makes funding potentially much more attainable. In order to be successful in this market requires that government (or at least it's money) plays a central role in your business venture. It's not a relationship based on control so much as support. Assuming your ok with the rules of engagement, the opportunities are vast. But there are caveats, IP controls are lacking and the Chinese are highly dependent on foreign innovation and technology to offset a lack of home grown options. I believe a big reason for the heavy investment in these types of foreign joint ventures is a kind of indirect flow of knowledge. It's not a blatant copying of IP so much as a loose knowledge transfer. Understand that a international joint venture is essentially a training vehicle. Once you understand this, you can properly address the market and the opportunities it holds. Mainly access to one of the largest fastest growing markets on the planet today. A planet currently dominated by stagnating growth in the established western markets. What's going on in Europe these days? Not much.  Of course with risk comes great reward. In my case the ability to build and ultimately sell a venture in less a year and half. Try that in Canada? Unlikely.

I'll be posting more details of my discoveries in the coming days, in the mean time. Some food for thought.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

IT's the Cloud Eco-system that Matters Most

Just catching up on some of my cloud news this morning and read an interesting PR release from the CloudStack team over at Citrix. Generally the news was less interesting than a couple small tidbits from the actual press release. In it, they stated that CloudStack has "hundreds of production clouds, collectively generating more than $1 billion in cloud revenue."

Yes, you head correctly, $1,000,000,000 in collective cloud revenue. It is impressive to say the least. But what I really think they're saying is that their "eco-system" is monetizing like crazy. Although I have no proof, it does make you wonder.

An eco-system is why people choose to build applications for a certain platform, for example Apple over let's say Android, or AWS over Azure or salesforce over whomever. It's always the eco-system. Moreover it's the ability to leverage a large talent pool of users, customers and solution providers. It's the ability to piggy back atop of what others have already done and best of all, a quick and easy way sell to them.

Moving on, I also found this little bit interesting. Again focus on the numbers;
The transition to the Cloud is fueling a massive build out of cloud infrastructure, projected to exceed $11 billion by the end of 2014. This new market will feature thousands of successful clouds of all shapes and sizes, ranging from business, infrastructure and developer offerings, to consumer, mobile and gaming services. The proposed Apache CloudStack project will make it easier for customers of all types to deliver cloud services on a platform that is open, powerful, flexible and “Proven Amazon Compatible.”

They've hit both, they're saying they have an eco-system, but they're also themselves leveraging the AWS API to hit Amazon's Cloud eco-system.

To me, this speaks to the main and most important reason to choose a particular platform, *stack or cloud over another. The ability to capitalize on its eco-system. An interesting move and one to watch in the coming months.

Going Global: Data Sovereignty in the Cloud

View from my Hotel in Seoul
As I sit here in downtown Seoul waiting for my various meeting (including with the Canadian Embassy). I am reminded, thanks to a great post in the UK's Guardian by Ben Kepes, on the importance of Geography when it comes to cloud computing. The post is very timely in part, because of the recent campaign by some in our industry to downplay the importance of the geo-political aspects of where and how information is handled.

In the article Kepes says
"The thing limiting uptake of some of these solutions is a requirement, be it regulated or merely perceptional, is that data needs to be stored domestically. In relation to the connection between filesharing services and the risks introduced by US legislation such as the Patriot Act,"
You know what? He's right and his line "merely perceptitional" hits at the heart of the problem.  I've also been saying this for years and it all truly does boil down to data sovereignty.

Yes, I know that many say that this is little more than FUD, like what our friends at Microsoft in a recent post where they state;
The essence of the problem is that there is a perception that organisations are not allowed to send data outside the geographic boundaries of their home country. In Australia, the perception is that data must stay on the island. There is no law that states data must remain on the island. There are some policies that recommend it, but nothing actually preventing it except in national secret instances.
Herein lies the problem, I do agree that policy, law and regulations are for the most part lacking. But I also realize that this is a reality of an emerging and fast changing industry. Just because there is "no law" doesn't mean that it doesn't make sense. (Need i point to the banking industry) The problem with IT in general is there tends to be an America First policy. Go ahead and sign up for a cloud service and you'll notice things like the requirement of ZIP Code, or State as part of the registration process. Hey I'm in Canada, we don't have states or Zip codes!

Adding to the mess are reports like the recent one Ovum published that it says "debunks the common misconception that data sovereignty issues are a major barrier to the use of public cloud services."

Whether implicit or just generally expected. The fact is that most US centric cloud providers treat global as, well, just the rest of the world. For these guys, going Global means anything outside of the USA. So let me remind you, each country is indeed its own country and shouldn't be expected to just except the laws of some distant land because that happens to be where the biggest cloud happens to be head quartered. To succeed in a truely global landscape you must accommodate the local variances and curtual differences. One size doesn't not fit all.

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