Opinion Archive

How do we define cloud computing?

It’s comes up again. Folks are asking us to define cloud computing and every time we do, we refine it a little more. At times it’s seemed like Cloud Computing became the new web 2.0 as a blanket term for everything:). I actually think we define it similarly to the Wikipedia definition. For us it breaks down into two categories: cloud services and cloud infrastructure.

Cloud services are defined as technologies that provide a virtual service either through and Open API or through a user interface. Examples range from the classic Salesforce.com to cloud email like Gmail or Twitter and the Twitter Open API, and Facebook Connect. There are lots others, and it’s growing at a frantic pace. Open API’s like Facebook Connect and the Twitter API are incredibly powerful for driving traffic and getting your product, brand, and service out there. In the past we would build a social network from scratch for a web site, that would mean custom application development and maintenance, now we use Javascript and REST to interface with Facebook Connect and we are up and running in a fraction of the time it used to take in the past.

Cloud infrastructure is defined as the virtual and physical infrastructure powering web and digital applications. Cloud infrastructure was strongly enabled through technologies like VMWare that made it possible to make one physical server into 10 or more virtual servers. This coupled with low cast storage created an elastic scalable platform to enable us to do things that weren’t feasible using the old cost models. These services are metered and you only pay as you go, which is a drastic departure from the buy a server, manage and drive it all the time whether you use it or not. While it used to take weeks to get a server up and ready now takes minutes and all you need is a credit card. Companies paving the way include Amazon, Microsoft, and Google, with traditional hosting companies like Rackspace, Savvis, Terremark and others also making these infrastructure services available.

We believe the cloud and it’s ability to scale at a lower cost point will enable more innovation like never before.

Apple iPad... iPhone with a big screen?

Apple’s release of iPad, a new multi-touch gadget with 10” display is making a lot of buzz in the marketplace. So far there is skepticism on the demand, utility and future of this type of device. Historically, Apple has a reputation of developing products that are disruptive in nature and truly game changing. From iPod to iTunes to iPhone Mr. Jobs and his team have changed how people use digital gadgets and consume digital content. Apple has a responsibility to defend this reputation and iPad might have fallen short in the minds of some critics. Critics claim iPad is an iPhone without a phone. Of course it looks like an iPhone with a bigger screen but there is more to it. As I learn more about this device, my opinions are shaped contrary to those critics.

At a very broad level, there are two types of computing device users. People who use PC for productivity (workers) and people who use PC for genuinely personal use. The category of people who use PC for personal use is growing faster than ever. Social networking sites like Facebook, Orkut, Bebo or CafeMom have increased number of digital content consumers. These users want a computer for web browsing, music, gaming, sharing photos, watching videos and consuming other digital content. The ultraportable devices (Netbooks) are invented solely for this kind of PC users. If you look at Apple’s line of products you will soon realize that this segment is particularly underserved. iPad will server this segment really well. And look at the beauty of research Apple has done, we all know that this segment does not buy high ticket items thus iPad starts at just $499.

I think critics are too focused on eBooks on iPad and how Apple is trying to change eBooks publishing business. Yes the whole story of re-writing the publishing rules should be debated but don’t lose the sight of this cool computing device over just eBooks. iPad can do a lot more than just reading books online. Yes, Kindle iPad can do a lot more than you can. At least for now.

I wish Apple can improve the device with just two more things a) allow all Mac software to run on iPad not just iPhone apps and b) install a camera in front of the iPad so people can do live chat. These two features will make it a true device of the future.

From where I stand, Apple has successfully defended its reputation!

Salim Hemdani