November 15, 2010
Volume XXXII, Issue 12
New Free Cloud-Hosting Service for Desktop Applications
Spoon, a leader in cloud-computing technology, this week announced the immediate availability of the world's first free cloud-hosting service for desktop applications. Spoon allows software developers to make their existing desktop applications available in the cloud, with no installs. Spoon applications can be accessed from the Spoon.net library or embedded into any website, blog, or social media service as a "Spoon Feed" with a single line of HTML.
Spoon has partnered with leading software developers and publishers such as Autodesk and SourceForge to provide free web-based access to their desktop application portfolios.
Cloud-enabled applications on Spoon include graphically intensive CAD applications such as Autodesk Design Review and Inventor Fusion Technology Preview; communication tools such as PuTTY and WinSCP; educational applications such as Core Learning's Core Mind Builder Pro and Crayola Art Studio; massively multiplayer game clients such as "Second Life;" hit game titles such as Namco Networks' "Antiques Roadshow" and Alawar Entertainment's "Farm Frenzy 3;" and development tools such as DrJava and Eclipse.
"Consumers are accustomed to accessing music and videos online from sites like YouTube," said Kenji Obata, Founder and CEO at Spoon. "Spoon extends this model to desktop applications, offering consumers a similarly easy way to try, use, share, and buy desktop applications in the cloud."
"SourceForge is excited to partner with Spoon to bring open source software into the cloud," said Garrett Woodworth, Director of Product at SourceForge. "By incorporating Spoon into our platform, users will be able to instantly demo and use open source applications without the inconvenience, hassles, or risks of downloads and installs. We believe the relationship with Spoon will ultimately make open source projects more successful and enhance the quality and value of the SourceForge experience."
Unlike other forms of cloud computing, Spoon completely preserves the richness and responsiveness of traditional desktop applications. Users can save files to local folders, print, and even migrate offline to continue working while disconnected. Spoon's unique virtualization technology completely eliminates dependencies and conflicts, and seamlessly handles patches and upgrades.
"Spoon introduces a new angle on cloud computing, using a hybrid client/server execution technology to combine the best of the web and the traditional desktop," said Dick Csaplar, Senior Research Analyst, Aberdeen Group. "The availability of solutions that are free and directly integrate into existing websites promises to bring cloud computing to a much wider consumer audience."
Software developers can submit applications into the Spoon library at no charge. The service works with existing desktop applications and requires no code changes or development costs. Spoon includes a fully integrated digital rights management (DRM) and payments system that makes it easy for customers to try, purchase, and use commercial applications.
Spoon lets users run desktop applications instantly from the cloud with no installs. Spoon applications can be accessed from the web at Spoon.net, on third-party websites via Spoon Feeds, and in private enterprise clouds using Spoon Server.
Spoon is used by industry-leading educational, entertainment, financial, government, health care, and information technology (IT) organizations including Autodesk, Core Learning, Novell, SourceForge, and the United States military, as well as thousands of independent software developers.
TPG's Bonderman Cites Cloud Computing as Top Idea
Excerpted from Reuters Report by Michael Flaherty
David Bonderman, one of the founders of TPG Capital, laid out a series of investment ideas on Thursday, among them cloud computing and media fragmentation.
Bonderman, one of the private equity industry's early pioneers, also said energy and power were on his radar. He is among the top decision-makers at one of the world's largest private equity funds.
Known for his humorous and insightful speeches about the private equity industry, he also showed YouTube clips of a human projectile launch into a kiddie pool, and a new-toothed baby biting the finger of a nearby toddler.
The point of the clips, Bonderman said, was to note how there were roughly the same amount of viewers for those videos as there were for major television network programs and studio movies - highlighting the fragmentation of media.
Bonderman stressed that money was made in industries in which there were dislocations, where the key was fixing issues that represented broken business models or practices rather than just throwing capital at them, and taking advantage of openings in sectors that had yet to be explored.
Of all the ideas that Bonderman has laid out over the years, cloud computing is among the newest.
That industry is going through "huge dislocations," Bonderman said at the annual AVCJ conference in Hong Kong.
Cloud computing refers to technology that allows users to access data, software, and services over the Internet and corporate networks, and has been touted as the next big trend in the technology sector.
While TPG has had some major investment successes, it's had some high profile failures as well, such as the cash it put into Washington Mutual shortly before shares of the bank collapsed.
He was critical of financial services reforms, from US regulation to Basel III. He described the mood around US reform as "somewhere between mild and excited derision."
TPG is among the early private equity firms to go global, with major presences in Europe and Asia, as well as its home base in the United States. Bonderman said TPG opened an office in Shanghai in 1994. It has since invested in many deals across Asia, its deal with Shenzhen Development Bank among the most well known.
Bonderman would not comment on any deals the firm is currently involved in, or said to be involved with, which includes Russia's VTB and US hard-drive maker Seagate Technology.
He described Australia, Indonesia and Brazil as "versions of the China play," given China's consumption of natural resources. In September, an Indonesian government official said TPG was considering investing in the country's air transport sector.
Bonderman even had views on gold, in relation to the shift of money to high-growth markets. He said he was recently in the Gulf, when he stumbled upon a gold vending machine, right next to a soft drink machine. Put in money, and a gold nugget comes out the chute.
"When that's happening, there's something going on. I'm not clear what that is, but there is something going on," he quipped.
Report from CEO Marty Lafferty
There's no question that the advent of Internet-based services helped fuel the US economic boom in the 1990s.
A key question that we sought to address this week along with Paul Misener, VP for Global Policy, Amazon, and Jeff Bergeron, CTO for the US Public Sector, Hewlett-Packard, at the Stifel Nicolaus Telecom, Media & Tech Boot Camp is whether cloud computing is the next big thing that could spark a new wave of innovation and investment that drives productivity gains, economic growth, and job creation?
Or is that just hype, and actually cloud computing represents more of an incremental evolution of the Internet rather than a revolution, with more measured outcomes likely?
Amazon in many ways is the source of much of the current excitement over cloud computing, having initiated Amazon Web Services as a service for its retail customers to transform a major Cap-X cost to a very affordable Op-X expense.
This was driven in large part by the fact that data center management is not typically a competitive differentiator among companies, although it consumes 70% of their IT budgets. Wouldn't it be better to reallocate expenses to spend more of these budgets against functions that are more closely aligned with a firm's value-added and unique offerings?
Amazon currently offers its Elastic Cloud II (EC-2) in a single instance of use to prospective customers free for a year.
Amazon Web Services is currently five times larger than Microsoft's cloud offerings in terms of revenue and growing at an astonishing 48% a year. Among small business users, its market share among cloud customers is 77% versus Microsoft's 10%.
HP meanwhile is becoming both an enabler and provider of cloud services, for example serving as the engine behind Microsoft's Azure, on the enterprise side.
An extremely interesting and not well-recognized fact is that the number one driver of Microsoft's move towards cloud computing is anti-piracy. Rather than having its software vulnerable to the dangers of both CD distribution, where copying and sharing are hard to circumvent, and also downloadable versions, where these problems are magnified, maintaining the security of intellectual property (IP) by having access to it, whether it's software or content, in a cloud environment is much more achievable.
Having noted that, it's also significant that Intel acquired McAfee earlier this year, and we can expect a convergence of the security provisioning market around the hardware side.
Due to their added flexibility, hybrid clouds will probably be the fastest growing deployment model.
HP will launch a unique cloud offering in 2011.
We also addressed the question of whether the US has a material advantage over other countries such that it could significantly improve the nation's global competitiveness and explored what we at DCIA see as the biggest cloud-computing business opportunities for generating revenue growth and what the biggest obstacles are to that growth.
Some observers, such as Nicholas Carr, have likened the cloud-computing shift to the replacement of electricity generators with electricity grids a century ago, a move in the information technology (IT) space that he says threatens many current IT companies. We disagree with that, and in fact see cloud computing as enormously invigorating to IT companies and internal IT departments, by empowering them with greater abilities to more fully perform key business functions than ever before.
We drilled down into the differences between public and private cloud computing, and the relative advantages and disadvantages to each. Mark Ververka of Barron's recently wrote that IT heavyweights have benefited greatly from the private cloud ("data-center consolidation controlled by the corporate customer") in the short run as they sell new servers, storage, and software to clients, but some may be vulnerable as industry moves more toward public cloud solutions. He suggested Amazon could be a beneficiary of this trend and HP could be among the companies at risk.
In terms of industry segments/companies that could benefit or be hurt by cloud computing, we see enormous potential for full adoption of cloud computing by the entertainment sector.
We also addressed security and privacy issues, which appear to be so important to cloud computing, but in reality are generalizations that need to be parsed and examined more closely, and have a lot more to do with measurements of usage. Related to this is standardization of key components.
In terms of other major issues of importance to the development of cloud computing, we looked at the government's basic policy in its current use of cloud computing: if the data is already accessible in some form on the Internet, then a public cloud is OK. If the data is sensitive, confidential, or top-secret, then a private cloud is required. FedRAMP offers draft security guidelines for virtualization and purchasing standards for cloud vendors are in the works, which will include security considerations.
The verdict is out on whether Google's cloud-based operating system Chrome will be a threat to Microsoft's OS dominance, or whether its presence will help motivate Microsoft's acceleration of its own efforts that will counter that with its own cloud-based OS at the consumer level. Meanwhile, Microsoft's recent wins of Toyota, 3M, and Lockheed Martin for its enterprise cloud solutions augur well.
The government sector is a major purchaser of IT services. Both Microsoft and IBM have government cloud data centers. But has it been an early adopter of cloud computing solutions, a lagging adopter, or about average, and is there anything (else) that's particularly notable about its role? With the Federal CIO Council website posting 30 use cases in May and another 24 last week, we believe it is a strong adopter. GSA has just awarded eleven cloud computing contracts in the infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) space. And Federal CIO Kivek Kundra is working on standards and controls so that cloud vendors don't have to negotiate with multiple bureaus and agencies in a fragmented way.
Going forward, the question of fundamental data center growth to accommodate cloud computing services proliferation was addressed. Given unabated data generation, storage, and consumption growth, this will continue, although usage of these resources will be much more efficient, and interoperability among data centers will further increase productivity. Share wisely, and take care.
BitTorrent Debuts BT Apps and Award-Winning Film
BitTorrent , a technology company engineering transformative new products to accelerate the discovery, distribution, and delivery of media over the Internet, this week announced the immediate general availability of its new uTorrent client featuring the App Studio.
The App Studio, a development framework that enables programmers to build extensions on the BitTorrent platform that create richer one-click media experiences for consumers, launched in the company's BitTorrent Mainline software to 15 million users in September.
Previously, only available in the lab versions of uTorrent, today's release makes apps available to all of its 65 million users. The Apps Studio offers users a one-stop destination to unique content within the software, including TEDTalks, films from VODO, and music from ClearBits. Other popular apps include social media/sharing feature enhancements and RSS feeds, plus utility apps TuneUp and BitDefender's VirusGuard and games from Raptr and Outspark.
"We are very excited to be one of BitTorrent's first partners in this initial roll-out of apps," said Gabe Adiv, CEO of TuneUp. "We believe that this partnership presents a compelling opportunity for us to grow our user base while providing BitTorrent users with software that will extend the functionality of the client and enhance their overall experience."
To celebrate the milestone and continue with the artist experiments started last summer, BitTorrent also released the award winning film Four Eyed Monsters, a docudrama that chronicles the relationship of a couple who meet on the Internet and fall in love through e-mails, notes, videos, and pictures, to users as a free download in partnership with VODO.
Starting now, the film will be available within BitTorrent Mainline and uTorrent as a custom app where consumers can download the film with one click and access the film's website, social media properties, and a donations link.
"The barriers to filmmaking have fallen, but the gates around distribution through traditional TV, theatrical and video-on-demand remain locked," said Arin Crumley, creator and star of 'Four Eyed Monsters.'
"With a user base of over 80 million, BitTorrent is exposing our film to an audience larger than many television networks and fostering a direct connection between audiences and filmmakers. The creators who embrace this modern approach will encourage a new culture of audiences who support the production of movies they want to see and help distribute the ones in which they fall in love."
The release of "Four Eyed Monsters" comes on the heels of a string of successful BitTorrent releases with other artists. In June, the company released a pilot episode of "Pioneer One" with VODO. It has been downloaded over a million times and has received over $33,000 in donations and a sponsorship with MOFILM.
A month later the company teamed up with VODO again to release "The Yes Men Fix the World - P2P Edition." It has been downloaded over two million times and has raised over $31,000 in donations and merchandise sales. The most recent release was of PAZ's debut mix tape, 'Young Broke and Fameless.' To date, it has been downloaded 500,000 times.
This is part of a broader initiative by BitTorrent to bridge the gap between content creators and consumers through the App Studio and other promotions. In September, the company announced a Featured Artist Pilot Program, which encourages musicians and filmmakers to submit creative works for the chance to be spotlighted to millions of BitTorrent users around the world. BitTorrent worked with torrent site and artists advocate VODO to connect with Four Eyed Monsters creators.
"Giving content creators a platform to connect with consumers is not only a step towards bridging the gap in the digital divide, but is also an evolution in new media distribution and business models," said Eric Klinker, CEO of BitTorrent. "Our work with partners like TuneUp and the creators of 'Four Eyed Monsters' are significant steps in helping improve the discovery, distribution and delivery of digital media."
This updated version of uTorrent also includes several feature enhancements, including full support for uTP, an upgraded lightweight BitTorrent protocol, transport and congestion control support; improved magnet link handling; file relocation features; and many more.
Cloud Computing and the New Normal
Excerpted from Computer World Report by Chris Weitz
As the "new normal" of the post-recession economy stretches before us, cloud computing services are becoming more widely considered and adopted by large mainstream enterprises. Many organizations that just last year refused to accept the premise are now enthusiastic advocates looking forward to a new future of computing flexibility and choice.
And with a new class of complex enterprise buyers entering the market, a higher standard of performance and reliability is being applied to the purveyors of cloud services. Yet to no one's surprise, the increased exposure of today's commercial cloud services to the rigors of top-tier enterprise requirements is exposing the immaturity of cloud computing, and the way forward seems more like a long haul than a quick sprint.
Like every major technology emerging before it, the excitement of cloud computing has been dampened by the inevitable realization that real progress will require significant effort and careful steps forward. There is indeed no magic bullet or free lunch. But the need to identify better ways to deliver information technology (IT) services requires a serious look at increasingly strategic uses of cloud services.
The architectures used by true cloud computing platforms - rapid scalability, flexibility, resource pooling, and usage-based pricing - are significantly different from what are now deemed "classic" IT computing models. With these differences come the opportunity for significant gains in asset efficiency, capital utilization, and business responsiveness.
The price of progress, however, is more uncertainty, with an associated loss of control. The old rules of operations seemingly do not apply, and the new rules have not been established. The previously predictable and steadfast world of enterprise IT is now an unexplored territory of new and evolving services. The rate of change is higher than has been experienced in many decades. Many IT veterans are skittish of unproven technology, but feel they have no choice but to move forward, regardless of unknowns. The prerogatives of the "new normal" require a rebalancing of risk and rewards for enterprise IT, and a relearning of operational tactics to maintain the business.
As the most sophisticated enterprises take a serious look at cloud technologies, the technical shortcomings are more difficult to overlook. The list of "enterprise class" features supplied by the major cloud service providers is growing, but still lags the expectations and requirements of the high end of the market. Certain advanced features, which are assumed to be part of the enterprise checklist, may not be part of the current crop of cloud services.
Capabilities cited as high on the "must haves" include: predicable service levels for system availability, reliability, or responsiveness; understanding of overall system capacity limitations, physical or otherwise; sophisticated systems monitoring, metering and performance reporting, visible to enterprise IT; operational visibility into back-up, data archiving, and disaster-recovery capabilities; security systems that integrate with enterprise single-sign-on and identity management; integrated problem, change, and configuration management systems for application support.
In addition to these fundamental operational characteristics, cloud computing services may also be limited in their ability to provide the mundane yet critical functions that are required for business, including: user-friendly automation for self-service provisioning, in a reliable and secure environment; granular usage tracking and reporting to back-office accounting systems; consistent pricing mechanisms that allow budgeting, charge-backs, and confident forecasting; contractual clarity, which reduces the negative surprises of unexpected billing and extra charges; clear pricing models that allow for confident purchases over a longer term, based on simple-use cases.
In order for cloud computing to meet the needs of the "new normal", these high-end capabilities must be incorporated into standard services models. The performance standards of sophisticated enterprises are much higher than the capabilities of most cloud service providers. Yet the message in the marketplace frequently overlooks this reality, and expectations of complex enterprises are not being met.
Frequent misdirected marketing and media messaging about the economics of cloud computing is also running askew of on-the-ground reality. It is well reported that smaller companies, start-ups and cash-strapped non-profits are the big early adopters of public cloud computing services. Any number of cloud service providers will gladly report the vast numbers of "enterprise customers" who are rapidly joining their burgeoning ranks - neglecting to mention the tiny size of their typical subscribers, which generate little or no revenue for the cloud provider. Growth of cloud computing adoption is indeed rapid when the price of entry approaches zero for the smallest subscribers.
Big enterprises, on the other hand, typically have a large installed IT base, significant purchasing power and economies of scale, which provide attractive economics for capital expenditures. The economics of cloud computing services must be significantly more attractive to compel a switch. Unfortunately, contrary to the marketing spin, cloud computing is not nearly as advantageous for larger enterprises compared to smaller companies from a cost perspective. The advantages must therefore lie elsewhere.
The real advantage for large enterprises is not cost savings, but increased flexibility and responsiveness to the business. Companies are finding that their real-world experience at high scale shows only moderate cost savings, but significant productivity, time-to-market, and efficiency gains. This can be a pleasant surprise to many big enterprise adopters -- as the benefits touted by the media and vendors fail to materialize, they find other advantages which are more mundane but ultimately more beneficial to the business.
Longtime observers of IT are not surprised by the inability of services companies to accurately foresee the utility of their offerings. It is only through the iteration of real enterprise users in multiple unpredictable settings - and creative deployment outside of design parameters - that actual business value can be determined. Only now are the most sophisticated enterprises beginning to deploy their creative energies to explore the potential of cloud computing. There will be many surprises, reappraisals, and innovations, which are yet to be discovered.
In these early days, cloud computing providers would be well served to learn from their customers, and incorporate real world feedback into both their marketing spin machines as well as their product roadmaps. There is nothing like a dose of reality-based marketing and services evolution to increase ones credibility in the ranks of high-end enterprise users.
As last year's new phenomenon becomes this year's standard, the common gripes of sophisticated users are best described as "expected immaturities," and do not indicate a loss of faith in the cloud computing model. Experienced hands understand that the cloud market is in its early phases, and they have settled in for the long haul, planning to invest and evolve the new model to boost its usefulness and efficiency, while bracing for the uncertainty implicit in the transition.
As the bar is raised for sophisticated enterprise class computing for cloud services, there will be no shortage of serious critiques. The iteration of innovation is a bumpy process - and that is certainly not a surprise.
Photo-Sharing-on-the-Go Is Hot Investment Niche
Excerpted from New York Times Report by Claire Miller
In Silicon Valley, the three words on the tips of everyone's tongues are mobile, social, and local.
Add a fourth word and venture capitalists get excited: photos.
A flurry of new start-ups is focused on mobile photo-sharing, some of which plan to make money from local advertising. The smart-phone apps transform cell-phone photos so they look better, tag them with location data, and post them in real time to social networks on phones and the web.
The apps, like Instagram, Hipstamatic, DailyBooth and PicPlz, are generally free or cost a small amount. So far, they have been small-time projects for the people who built them. But now a few are trying to transform themselves into real businesses.
Mixed Media Labs, the company that makes PicPlz, will announce on Thursday that it has raised $5 million from Andreessen Horowitz, a prominent venture capital firm.
"It is annoying to take photos with your cellphone and have them look good and get them off your phone," said Dalton Caldwell, co-founder and chief executive of Mixed Media who previously co-founded Imeem, the now-closed music site. "That solves a real need."
PicPlz offers an Android and iPhone app and a Web site. People take photos with their phones and can apply eight different filters to change their look, such as "the '70s" or "Russian toy camera." They can upload them to PicPlz, where others can view photo streams from a particular user or location, so it is like a visual version of Twitter. They can also send them to Facebook, Twitter, or Foursquare.
PicPlz is one of the newest wave of consumer tech products being built first as mobile apps, with the Web site as second priority - an idea that would have seemed foreign just a few years ago.
"I think for the next generation of companies, the application they deliver on the mobile side is way more important than the website," Mr. Caldwell said.
He and some of the other photo app developers talk about still-vague goals of expanding the apps into mobile networks, based on location or groups of friends. Mixed Media plans to build many location-based apps.
Though Mr. Caldwell says he still doesn't know exactly what the company will do, he knows what it will not do - repeat the mistakes he made at Imeem.
He sold Imeem's assets to MySpace last year at a loss. He blames its failure on the impossibility of negotiating with music companies for digital music, but also said he made every mistake in the book while running it.
For example, he said he waited too long to figure out how to make money at Imeem. He plans to make revenue his first priority at PicPlz, possibly with location-based advertising.
He is also trying to avoid peaks and plunges in PicPlz's growth. The app has been downloaded 130,000 times since the Android app was introduced in May and the iPhone app in August. Instagram, a competitor, was introduced last month and already has more than 300,000 users.
But Andreessen Horowitz chose PicPlz over the company that makes Instagram, called Burbn. Earlier, the firm invested small amounts of money in each, before Burbn scrapped its original mobile check-in service to focus on the photo-sharing app. But since venture capitalists avoid investing in competing companies, Andreessen Horowitz can't invest in both as they are now.
As part of the investment, Marc Andreessen, co-founder of Andreessen Horowitz and of Netscape, will join Mixed Media's board, a rarity since the other boards he serves on are much bigger companies: eBay, Facebook, Hewlett-Packard and Skype.
Even beyond the other photo-sharing apps, there are many other competitors. Facebook and Twitter are already hugely popular on cell-phones, as are mobile services like Foursquare. And other apps, like TwitPic and Yfrog, let people upload photos from their phones to Twitter and other sites.
"It's very hard to get people to pay attention when there's so much noise," said Greg Sterling, an analyst who studies the mobile Internet. "I think, by and large, they're not going to be very successful, but there will be one or two that break out."
Mobile Apps and Cloud Computing
Excerpted from Gerson Lehrman Group Report
Given the current constraints of mobile devices, lack of effective standards, and a highly fragmented market, the native app or the browser-based approach do not provide a viable long-term solution for cross-platform mobile applications. Therefore, new and innovative solutions must emerge to combine the benefits of using the specific features of mobile devices and operating systems with the advantages of utilizing a scalable distributed cloud-computing environment.
Over the past several years two different computing paradigms have emerged: desktop and mobile. As described below, there are different types of software applications available for desktop and mobile computers.
Since the emergence of personal computers and desktop computing in mid 1980s, five different types of software applications are now available for personal desktop computers: 1) operating system dependent, stand-alone desktop application; 2) operating system dependent desktop client accessing server application in a local area network (LAN); 3) operating system dependent desktop client accessing server application over a wide area network (WAN) such as the Internet; 4) browser-based thin client accessing server application in a LAN; and 5) browser-based thin client accessing server application over the Internet (cloud computing).
With the rapidly growing number of worldwide users for smart-phones and other mobile devices, millions of different types of software applications are now supported on these devices. Currently there are four different types of software application programs available for mobile devices:
1) Device-Specific Native App - A native, stand-alone, device-specific application that is manually installed by the user on a mobile device and used without any connectivity to remote server computers. Examples are various games, media players, calendar, etc.
2) Device-Specific Cloud App - A native, device-specific Web-based application that is manually installed by the user on a mobile device and communicates with a distributed network of server computers (e.g., the Internet) to perform a specific task. Examples are Google Maps mobile app, LinkedIn mobile app, Salesforce.com Chatter mobile app, etc.
3) General Purpose Mobile Web App - An application that does not require installation on a mobile device but instead runs within a general-purpose mobile Web browser program installed on the mobile device and communicates with a distributed network of server computers (e.g., the Internet) to perform a specific task. Examples are Google search and various email services that run within mobile browsers such as Mozilla Fennec and Opera Mini. In theory, these apps are cross platform (i.e. device agnostic). As long as the browser is supported on a given device, so is the app.
4) Browser-Specific Mobile Web App - Similar to the previous category, but the mobile Web browser is able to effectively handle special types of data provided by specific applications that run in a distributed network of server computers. Examples are entertainment applications that use Adobe Flash Â® or other special data formats for video that run within the BOLT and Skyfire mobile browsers. Similar to the previous category, these apps are cross platform (i.e. device agnostic). As long as the browser is supported on a given device, so is the app.
In order to have the fastest and most efficient mobile application with a customized user interface, the majority of mobile applications are developed in native mode for specific mobile devices and mobile operating systems. However, there are several challenges with this approach.
Many applications that are computationally and/or data intensive can't be supported as a native app on a mobile device. Examples are database management systems, sophisticated interactive 3D games, etc.
Developers must create multiple specific versions of the same application for every operating system and potentially every family of mobile devices. Examples are Apple iOS operating system for iPhone, iPod, iPad devices and Android operating system for various other mobile devices. This has led to considerable "fragmentation" in the mobile app market which in turn has adversely impacted the economic attractiveness (ROI) of developing mobile apps by the developer community.
Users must manually install, update and remove many different native applications that in turn consume valuable and scares resources, especially memory, on the mobile device.
Lack of uniformity (especially for user interface) and interoperability among different versions of the same application on multiple devices leads to poor user experience. For example, a user with an Apple iPhone and a BlackBerry may be able take photos and tag them using the same application on each of these two different devices but can't see the photos on the other device.
The service-oriented architecture (SOA), software-as-a-service (SaaS) and distributed "cloud" computing technologies have offered significant benefits to the applications available on standard desktop computer operating systems, e.g., Apple OS, Microsoft Windows, Linux, etc. This is mainly due to fast network connections (compared to phone-based mobile services) plus the advanced technologies such as AJAX, Adobe Flash, etc. utilized by browsers (such as Internet Explorer, Firefox, and Chrome) that offer efficient data processing, fast graphics and user interfaces, by utilizing effective interoperability standards with the backend servers.
With the emergence of HTML5 as a new standard for efficiently communicating and rendering various types of data across different platforms, several mobile browsers have started supporting HTML5 for cloud-based applications. However, many mobile apps also need to utilize the specific features of a mobile device and its operating system, such as motion detection and GPS locators. This is in turn requires a cloud-based mobile app to be specialized for a specific mobile device and its operating system.
Cloud computing has been mostly used in the back-end infrastructure to support the mobile applications while most of these cloud-based mobile apps require a client app that must be downloaded and installed for each specific mobile device and its operating system. As mobile browsers become more powerful and standards such as HTML 5 become widely adopted, more cloud-based apps could run from a mobile web browser. However, in order to utilize the device-specific features in a mobile app, the browser (or another cross-platform client application) must be able to dynamically configure itself for a mobile environment and an application to offer a "native-like" app experience.
How the Cloud Will Bring the Future to the Global Masses
Excerpted from ZDNet Report by Tom Foremski
A simple wireless connection can bring the power of multiple supercomputers to a simple cell-phone using cloud computing, the most powerful collection of technologies produced so far.
Yet the concept of cloud computing isn't well recognized even among some of our foremost technology leaders.
Take for example, Eric Schmidt, CEO of Google and Jared Cohen, Director of Google Ideas. They recently co-published a long article The Digital Disruption, in Foreign Affairs magazine, the flagship publication of the Council on Foreign Relations.
They also spoke at the organization's CEO Speaker series. Here is part of a report by Anne Nelson writing for PBS Mediashift:
"I'm extraordinarily excited about the scale of the mobile revolution," Schmidt said. "There are four-to-five billion mobile phones of one kind or another and we are approaching a billion smart-phones."
Schmidt added that the effect of Moore's Law will be to transform smart-phones into the world's dominant communications platform in the near future.
The implications of the mobile revolution, he said, "are just beginning to be understood. But remember that these devices are more powerful than supercomputers were a few years ago, and we are putting them in the hands of people who've never had anything like them before."
In the article and the talk, Mr. Schmidt focuses on the power of the smart-phone, and that it has the capabilities of a supercomputer from a few years ago. That might be true of some smart-phones, but not of the "four-to-five billion mobile phones of one kind or another" that are out there.
It's extraordinary that Mr. Schmidt and Mr. Cohen made no mention of cloud computing. Because with cloud computing, those four-to-five billion mobile phones can have the power of a supercomputer from today - not from several years ago.
I recently spoke with Ram Menon, Executive VP of Worldwide Marketing at Tibco Software. He travels a lot in India, and other developing economies such as Brazil. "It's incredible how many people can now afford a simple cell-phone. And it's incredible what you can do with simple text messaging. Farmers can get real-time pricing information on their crops, and much more. There's even a whole grass-roots industry around powering cell-phones, such as ways to convert a bicycle into a cell-phone charging station. In remote places where there is no electric power, people can still use their mobile phones."
With a simple text message system, you can bring the power of a supercomputer to the cheapest and simplest mobile phones via cloud computing. For many important applications there is no need to place supercomputing power in the device itself. Simple cell-phones can act as smart-phones today, thanks to the cloud. That's an amazing technological advance.
It's strange that Messers Schmidt and Cohen have failed to notice this effect, especially since they work at Google, which operates the largest cloud-computing platform.
LimeWire Disavows New "Pirate Edition"
Excerpted from Wall Street Journal Report by Ethan Smith
LimeWire, potentially liable for hundreds of millions of dollars in damages for copyright infringement, issued a cease-and-desist notice of its own Wednesday, trying to prevent anonymous computer programmers from distributing a "pirate edition" of its file-sharing software.
A federal court has permanently enjoined the New York company from distributing its software, which lets users upload and download free, often unlicensed, copies of songs and other media. But earlier this week a new version, "LimeWire Pirate Edition," surfaced online, created by a "secret" team of software developers.
"We demand that all persons using the LimeWire software, name, or trademark in order to upload or download copyrighted works in any manner cease and desist from doing so," said a statement on LimeWire.com. The statement also asserted that the company is "taking all steps to comply with the injunction."
The situation shows the difficulty of stamping out online copyright infringement, even when entertainment companies have the law on their side.
LimeWire was the last major US-based distributor of commercial file-sharing software, selling advertisements and a "premium," ad-free version of its namesake program.
After using lawsuits to shut down LimeWire competitors Grokster and Kazaa, 13 major record labels sued LimeWire for copyright infringement. In May, they won a temporary injunction, forcing LimeWire to cease distribution of its software.
Two weeks ago, Judge Kimba Wood of the US District Court in Manhattan made the injunction permanent, in a ruling that echoed blistering language she used in issuing the temporary injunction. Despite the injunction, LimeWire users have been able to keep using any software they already had installed.
Damages have yet to be set, but federal law allows for punitive damages of $750 to $150,000 per copyrighted work. In a June court filing, the record labels said LimeWire had enabled "a substantial amount of copyright infringement," and estimated that damages could reach $1 billion.
When the "pirate edition" of LimeWire appeared online, it set off a scramble at LimeWire, which quickly posted a lengthy disclaimer on its website. "We are not behind these efforts," a LimeWire spokeswoman said in a statement, referring to the "pirate" software. "LimeWire does not authorize them."
In a statement, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), a trade group, said: "It's critical that LimeWire complies with the court-ordered injunction. We are monitoring the situation closely."
Cloud-Computing Predictions for 2011
Excerpted from CNET News Report by Gordon Haff
"2011 will be the Year of the X. Next year, Technology Y will kill Technology Z. Something will die."
These sorts of predictions are commonplace as we approach the end of the year. They have a satisfying finality to them. They're dramatic. They're also, with few exceptions, rarely correct - certainly not in any literal sense.
That's because information technology (IT) rarely advances in a way that invokes mass extinctions and spontaneous generation. Rather it's a more evolutionary process. There's lots of change but even when rapid the new stuff often doesn't displace the old - and overnight replacements are rare indeed. For example, proclamations about the death of Bluetooth were wildly premature even though that technology didn't live up to early promises.
This is especially true of cloud computing, given that it refers as much to the way the industry is moving to implement IT as the technology it uses to do so. Will those changes lead to broad shifts in where and how computing is done? Certainly, that's what makes cloud computing of so much interest after all. But we're mostly talking about transitions rather than sharp inflection points.
Within that context though, cloud computing is a rapidly developing set of trends that's generating lots of interest and discussion. And those discussions suggest to me some things that are going to be qualitatively different next year compared to this past one and some that will remain elusive.
Less focus on definitions (and dare we say hype?). If we were to do a survey of presentations, articles, and analyst research reports throughout this past year, we'd find that many of them spent a lot of time defining and categorizing cloud computing. I myself wrote a Cloud 101 white paper earlier this year. This sort of content may be old hat to the analysts and vendors who have been writing about or implementing cloud strategies over the past few years. But, as I've discovered to only partial surprise, themes that some of us consider well-worn are still fresh to many mainstream audiences. That said, in 2011, we can collectively start to move on from talking about the big picture while remembering that the future doesn't happen everywhere at the same time.
Getting down to work. Cloud computing in 2011 will be, in a sense, more pragmatic. It will often be more about incrementally leveraging virtualized infrastructure to further automate the management and deployment of applications and workloads. New products that build on top of virtualization will doubtless come to market. However, a lot of organizational energy in 2011 will also go into getting business processes and IT operational procedures in line with the more integrated and autonomic approach to allocating IT resources that cloud computing implies.
"Standards" still won't be. Even in the best case, it's not realistic to expect that all clouds will interoperate perfectly. Proprietary application programming interfaces (APIs) are often cloaked with a "de facto standard" rubric. But even when standards bodies are involved, cloud standards is still a developing area where one size doesn't fit all. Not all clouds have the same purposes and goals. One might expose lots of options; another might choose to keep things simple. One is most concerned with providing customers with tight controls over service levels; another just concentrates on cost. Regulations in a specific industry can mandate interfaces that relate to audit and compliance that aren't needed by most users. As a result, approaches that maintain portability and interoperability among multiple clouds is going to remain a strategic necessity for the foreseeable future,
Acquisitions of start-ups will continue apace. This one admittedly falls into the "well, duh" category but it's worth highlighting because 2010 has been such an active year, as Andre Yee correctly predicted last year that it would be. Cloud computing, to an even greater degree than the server virtualization on which it builds, involves bringing a portfolio of products and solutions to bear on business problems. I'd argue that portfolio is best represented by a loose integration of a lead vendor's products and those of its partners, rather than a monolithic stack. However, it's inevitable that many start-ups end up not having the resources to bring a complete product to market on their own. Or market reach, and therefore value of a given technology may be greater delivered as part of a broader portfolio.
More nuance in security discussions. "Security" often gets used as a sort of catch-all for all manner of concerns that relate to risk in some way, shape, or form. Some of these concerns do in fact relate directly to security - for example, the need for additional layers of protection when multiple organizations are sharing the same physical infrastructure. However, many more "security" concerns are really more about compliance with government regulations and corporate standards, the ability to guarantee service levels, and generally having visibility into how applications run and data is secured. We'll increasingly see cloud-computing discussions move on from generic concerns about risk, privacy, or security to more focused examinations of specific requirements.
Cloud computing brings together trends in both technology and IT operations. It's not something wholesale new but, rather, builds on things like virtualization, automated provisioning tools, and application delivery over public networks. In fact, that it's evolutionary in important respects is precisely an important reason why cloud computing is so interesting. And that evolution will be in full force in 2011.
Coming Events of Interest
KMWorld 2010 - November 16th-18th in Washington, DC. This conference provides you with all the essential pieces of the information engine that powers your enterprise-including knowledge creation, publishing, sharing, finding, mining, reuse and more, which work together to enable business problem-solving, innovation, and achievement.
Future of Television Conference East - November 19th in New York, NY. Join television advertising and digital media industry leaders for this prestigious event! Produced in association with the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) and NYU Stern School of Business, the Future of Television East conference features discussion led by the industry's global leaders.
LA Mobile Entertainment Summit - December 7th-8th in Los Angeles, CA. This event is brought to you by the producers of the widely acclaimed 3D Entertainment Summit, this high level strategy and networking event will explore all facets of the mobile entertainment industry.
International CES - January 6th-9th in Las Vegas, NV. With more than four decades of success, the International CES reaches across global markets, connects the industry, and enables consumer electronics (CE) innovations to grow and thrive. The International CES is the world's largest consumer technology tradeshow featuring 2,700 exhibitors.
CONTENT IN THE CLOUD - January 7th in Las Vegas, NV. The DCIA's Conference within CES explores this cutting-edge technology that promises to revolutionize entertainment delivery. Six keynotes and three panel discussions focus on cloud-delivered content and its impact on consumers, the media, telecom industries, and consumer electronics (CE) manufacturers.
Media Summit New York- March 9th-10th in New York, NY. This event is the premier international conference on media, broadband, advertising, television, publishing, cable, mobile, radio, magazines, news & print media, and marketing.