Cloud works well in some cases, in other cases you might want to avoid it – all though there is always a middle way

Cloud is good for services that are independent and do not have direct relations to components placed into other environments. If services have good interfaces, which can isolate the parts located into cloud then flexibility is increased.

Cloud is an excellent option when you are seeking scalability and want to avoid excessive initial investments to infrastructure. Most optimal case for cloud is, if you can utilize software as a service (SaaS) model. For example in case of using CRM (like salesforce.com ) additional benefits include availability of solution also outside company network, which is quite convenient for mobile salesforce.

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Cloud is not good for cases where solutions are business critical or they are not planned for virtualized environments. With business critical i mean here situations where network connectivity and availability are really cruicial, like call center solutions. Also if you want to keep your vendor close to you, it might prove to be tricky with international cloud providers.

Cloud has also security related challenges, which mostly connect to local legistlation. In some cases there are strict rules where data is located and how utiliztion is limitted. Some times security levels are set so that you need to be able to prove how secure environment is. In thiskind of cases it most often makes sense to forget cloud and stick with traditional approach.

In real life there is always a solution for thiskind of issues. You always have an option to choose hybrid solution, where you cherry pick best sides of both worlds (this naturally comes with prise of compromise in some potential benefits).

Services are not running alone in the cloud either

Having services virtualized into cloud does not take away nor decrease the need for service monitoring and management. Viceversa they are becoming even more important as cloud enviroments usually increase the ammount of external vendors operating around your infrastructure.

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One way to tackle these challenges is to re-engineering of issue management. Escalation processes most propably need to be renewed and you need to clarify roles and responsibilities of your vendors to match new situation. Most important thing is to secure proper interaction between vendors.

Cloud has also grey shades

Dependencies between systems can prove to be difficult to manage, if you are utilizing several different cloud and physical environments simultaneously. Network connectivity and traffic loads need to be carefully planned as traffic is not anymore staying with in one network. Vendor relation is also changing, if you are moving at the same time from single hosting partner into multivendor environment.

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These challenges can be tackled with functioning integration solution and professional network design. You might be interested in possessing some of these capabilities inhouse also. On top of these services has to be categorized carefully based on their special requirements so that their locations (cloud vs traditional environment) can be decided based on good judgement.

Cloud has silver lining

 

Good sides of cloud solutions include cost savings. Price per server is usually significantly lower compared to traditional lifetime costs of purchased servers. There is now investement needed also. This creates better transparency of technology stacks cost structure.

Scalability is also obvious benefit, but real time scaling is amazing capability. Only imagination limits opportunities you could have. If you wish you can create a service, that is available 9am-5pm. After working hours all servers would be run down and recreated next morning. Maybe not so brilliant way to use scalability, but serves well to illustrated capabilities.

Speed of delivery is nice enchacement for new development. No need to wait for delays in server order/delivery processes.

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Inorder to enjoy of those above mentioned benefits you need to be able to avoid potential new vendor locking situations and understand throughly different options you can utilize for utilization of cloud. Additionally you need to secure that tools for automated scalability and monitoring are readily available, as these tend to be capabilities traditionally possessed by your hosting partner. Own sourcing and needed capabilities close to development projects need to be secured too. After having these you are ready to enjoy the sun shine behind cloud.

Great by choice – creating 10x business


Just browsed through this book, while trying to figure out what makes some companies better than others. Few observations from that walk through:

Topic is little different compared to the current quarter economy. Collins and Hansen decided to study companies which have successful track record of 15+ years compared to stock market and relative to industry where they operate. Environment of these studied companies was turbulent and they survived from small start to 10x position.

Seeking for maximum growth during good times was seen as bad thing, because it would make company vulnerable during bad times. Writers seem to promote consistency as basis for good long term success.

Fire first bullets then cannonballs approach: low-cost, low risk experiment or testing should be done inorder to validate what will actually work. Resources should be concentrated to effort only after figuring out that goal is reachable and potential return is high enough. Less innovation is enough as long as efforts are directed wisely.

Good companies exercise productive paranoia, obsessing about what can go wrong. This approach will balance their risk taking for better results. Taking time available, before risk profile changes, for careful decision making, seem to produce better outcome, than rushing a decision. SMaC: Specific, Methodical and Consistent. SMaC is giving clear guidance regarding what to do and what not to do.

I think one of the key ideas was that good companies can utilize luck for results, seizing the opportunity. Better companies can even turn bad luck into good results.

This book was definitely interesting reading. Trying to figure out how those lessons learned could be turned into practical results in today’s fast moving business life.

Cloud matures as concept

Scope and efficiency of cloud based solutions and developmet are boosted up. As integration to cloud environments becomes easier and safer through cloud interface, new innovative ways to utilize cloud become possible. We get over either or attidude.

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Real time capacity scaling is now treat for few, but soon it should be part of any cloud set up. At same time platform virtualization standardizes and we start to see real offering in arena called platform as a service (PaaS). Currently many offering are developing, but each has their different merrits and handicaps. Business solutions offering as software as service (SaaS) becomes mainstream. In this arena we already see many significant moves, but so more focusing into few specific processes like CRM or billing.

 

To BYOD, or not to BYOD – that is the WRONG question

Discussion around “bring your own device” is quite heavily focused into devices and whether those should be allowed or not. I think the key question is do organisations want to make their services available any time, any where. After answering yes to that question, it really does not matter any more who brings the device (naturally the security concerns need to be taken care).

I think that services that are openned to be available out side organzations office network are increasing productivity. They are not so weird thing either anymore as there are readily available services like salesforce.com and other real SaaS solutions also handling companies key assets: customer information. So why not consider similar approach for other services too?

 

Why crowd sourcing works and why it doesn’t as source of online content

People like to be experts, it is stated. Thus they want to share their expertice in restaurants, shops or different products among their peer group. This works conveniently for online services seeking relevant content.

It is also said that people like to utilize insight provided by those they trust as part of their purchase decision process, but there is a catch.

Challence 1: What is the motivation of the expert to create evaluations? Does volume go over quality? What is the relationship between expert and the target evaluated? These are not always clearly visible for those utilizing evaluations. Thus evaluator profiles become increasingly important for end user to be able to check relevance of evaluations.

Challence 2: If you want to use evaluations created someone you trust to have judgement, how do you find that among wast ammount of evaluations? Some services offer opportunity to prioritize those who belong to your own social media circles, but you do not neccessarily have an expert among people you know for all purposess. For these situations it would be neat to be able to select evaluations based on your own profile: people with similar values, preferences etc.

When tackling these challences in the back ground there is always the rude fact of small ammount of evaluations or limited capability to filter those. Usually inorder to get relevant and fresh evalauation, categorization of them is not really possible, because of limitted ammount or limitted information of evaluator to base categorization (language, date and stars is quite limited).

The way how people communicate has changed – todays multichannel interaction is harder to manage

People have now many new tools they can utlize for social networking and communication.

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It will became increasingly easy to broadcast to many target groups, but at the same time, as communication is two directional, it will became more difficult to master all utlized channels. This will have interesting impact on popularity of different channels and the audience available in those.

Collection of information needed in online services becomes easier

People make personal information increasingly available into online services. A study done by Bovitzin shows that 70% of young and 77% over 35 years think that their private information should be kept unavailable. At the very same time over half of these people are willingly providing they private information to online services. Reason for this behaviour seem to be that people believe information exchange as integral part of social media. Interesting to see how this develops as utilization of shared data increases and both positive and negative effects become visible.

Open data provides new bulk source of infromation that can easily lead to new innovative online solutions as barrier of entry is getting lower. Ammount of open data sites is increasing rapidly as governments see increasing utilization beneficial for businesses and thus local economies.

Scoopshot is excellent example of information collection with crowd sourcing. Similar approaches are utlized in review sites, which make their users as content providers. This enables better coverage of online services also in not so dencely populated parts of real wolrd.