Kanban2go — How to build a cloud-based offering

February 27, 2012

Dell corporate strategist by day, entrepreneur by night, Prabhakar Gopalan recently launched a SaaS offering called kanban2go that helps you manage and share your task list in the cloud.  Prabhakar’s endeavor provides a quick overview of what it means to launch a cloud-based app today.  Take a listen as he talks about the process and what he learned:

Some of the ground Prabhakar covers:

  • Where he got the idea
  • From laptop to github to Rackspace
  • Desktop and mobile HTML5 version
  • Finding the right tools
  • Lessons learned

Extra-credit reading

Pau for now…


Cloud Expo: Talking to Rick Nucci, Boomi CTO

June 6, 2011

Today, day one of the Cloud Computing Expo kicked off here at the Javits center in New York city.  The event began with a keynote delivered by Steve Schuckenbrock, president of Dell Services.  Dell is the Diamond sponsor at the event and Steve talked about finding the real business value in cloud computing and the business of “Yes, now“.

Another of today’s speaker was the founder and CTO of Boomi, Rick Nucci.  Boomi provides a SaaS-based cloud integration offering and was acquired by Dell about six months ago.  After Rick finished his session I grabbed some time with him to learn more Boomi.

Some of the ground Rick covers:

  • What Boomi is and how it got started in the integration space back in 2000.
  • [01:05] How Boomi’s integration offering evolved from a traditional middleware approach to cloud-based.
  • [02:51] How being acquired by Dell has changed how Boomi run’s its business and serves its customers.

Pau for now…


Dell’s Billion Dollar Baby

April 7, 2011

Today Dell is announcing that it is continuing to put its money where its mouth is when it comes to its transformation into a solutions provider, this time to the tune of $1 Billion.  The goal of this investment, which is being made this year, is to provide customers with a complete set of resources and services to enable business agility, efficiencies and competitive advantage.

Specifically Dell is announcing:

  • Cloud Data Centers:  The building of multiple cloud data centers around the world that will allow customers to take advantage of such offerings as Infrastructure as a Service, Desktop as a Service, Storage as a Service and IT outsourcing.
  • Global Solutions Centers:  The creation of a network of global solutions centers to help customers architect, validate and build the efficient enterprise from the data center to the edge of the network.
  • New Solutions: New open, capable and affordable solutions for data management, client virtualization and data center virtualization:
    • Dell vStart: a single unit infrastructure solution that runs 100 to 200 vm’s and comes racked and cabled from the Dell factory.
    • Dell|Microsoft management and virtualization solutions partnership  to deliver integrated management solutions made up of Dell’s Virtual Integrated System, our Advanced Infrastructure Manager and Microsoft’s System Center.
    • Dell Email and File Archive Solutions
    • Dell Desktop Virtualization Solutions

A little more detail:

Next generation cloud data centers

Over the next 24 months Dell is building out a host of cloud data centers around the world.  Rather than old-school, giant raised-floor data centers these cloud data centers will be much smaller (approximately 10,000 square feet), more efficient and designed to take advantage of modular, hyper-scale and high-density principles.  Dell’s modular strategy will let the company quickly expand capabilities as demand grows.

These data centers will feature private, public and hybrid cloud options.  They will provide the foundation for Dell’s next generation services and solutions and offer IaaS, and SaaS capabilities as well as IT outsourcing for customers.

Global solutions center network

This year Dell will open 12 Global Solutions centers and is planning ten more over the next 18 months.  These centers are customer facing facilities that will act as a “living lab” providing an environment and the support for customers to architect, build and test proof of concepts involving Dell products, services and solutions.  The centers will also support solution integration, technical briefings and validation and ISV certification to meet regional requirements.

Starting with the upgrading of the existing Austin, Limerick and Frankfurt centers, further facilities will be opened this year in the Americas (Washington DC, Chicago, Northern California and Brazil), APJ (Shanghai, Singapore, Tokyo and Sydney) and EMEA (Paris).

With today’s announcement Dell his taken its evolution into a services and solutions company and kicked it up a notch.  In the “Virtual Era” technology is rapidly changing and it along with new delivery models such as cloud are changing the way businesses operate and create advantage.   Through its cloud and solution centers and new solution offerings Dell is bringing new ways to help customers harness and leverage these changes.

Pau for now…


Cloud Pioneer, Salesforce.com

April 29, 2010

Last month when I was out in the Bay Area for our launch, I stopped by the offices of salesforce.com.  I visited with some folks that I used to work with in a past life and then grabbed some time with Salesforce’s VP of product marketing, Sean Whiteley.

Here is what Sean had to say:

Some of the topics Sean tackles.

  • The idea behind salesforce.com (SFDC):  In 1999 founders Marc Benioff and Parker Harris looked at Amazon and wondered why businesses couldn’t manage and get insight into their customers with the same ease as they interact with their favorite website.
  • Given that SFDC is built on a model of “multitenancy” how do they address security concerns when they are brought up.
  • Force.com: what it is and how it came about.  Also the advent of AppExchange, where you can shop for applications that let you extend the cloud applications that you use to run your business.
  • What salesforce.com and Dell are doing together to address small and medium businesses:  providing a business in a box, helping organizations focus on their core business rather than IT.

Pau for now…


Cast Iron: Integrating Cloud & on-premise Apps

January 30, 2010

One of the trickiest parts for SMB’s (or organizations of any size) who are utilizing cloud-based applications is integrating these apps with exisiting on-premise applications.   That’s where Cast Iron Systems, comes in.

Last month Chandar Pattabhiram, VP of Product & Channel marketing at Cast Iron visited Dell.  I met up with him to chat about the company and learn what they are up to.

Some of the topics Chandar tackles:

  • Cast Iron is the leader in connecting cloud-based applications with on premise enterprise apps (eg Oracle, SAP).
  • The company began by offering a pre-configured integration appliance.  They have since expand and now also offer a virtual integration appliance as well as the Cast Iron Cloud (integration as a service).
  • While their focus is on SaaS, they are partnering with leaders in each layer of the cloud to integrate cloud offerings with on premise apps:
    • SaaS: SalesForce, ADP
    • PaaS: Google, Force.com, Azure
    • IaaS: Dell
  • Cast Iron’s goal is to evolve to be the enterprise cloud integration platform, bridging the world of public, private and on premise applications.
  • Cast Iron provides the software underpinning Dell Integration Services.  These services allow SalesForce.com customers to extract data that has been locked in on premise apps and provides centralized visibility within SalesForce.com.

Pau for now…


Dell & the Cloud: Where we’ve been, Where we’re going

December 18, 2009

They say turn around is fair play.  Kevin Hazard of the Planet recently took this literally.  No sooner had I finished interviewing him at the Cloud Expo in Santa Clara then he turned around and pointed his camera at me.  He got me talking about the cloud and what the heck Dell’s doing in it.

Some of the topics I tackle:

  • What I do as Dell’s Cloud Evangelist.
  • Where Dell plays in the cloud:
    • Cloud based services providing IT management as a service.
    • Building these capabilities through the acquisition of four companies over the last two years:  MessageOne, ASAP, Everdream and Silverback.
    • Creating custom servers as well as providing data center design and implementation for some of the world’s largest “hyper-scale” customers e.g. Microsoft’s Azure and three out of the top five search engines in the U.S.
  • What’s next:  building on this experience to offer integrated cloud solutions for setting up private and public clouds.  Combining Dell hardware and services with best of breed software — all coming from/supported by Dell.
  • My thoughts on Public vs. Private clouds and how we will end up with a mix of computing models.

Extra Credit Reading

Pau for now…


What is ATT up to in the cloud?

December 9, 2009

A couple of weeks ago I was in New York to visit customers and attend the co-located Interop and Web 2.0 events.  One of the attendees/participants I got to know there was Joe Weinman, VP of ATT’s Business Solutions.  Joe has been focusing a lot on the cloud lately so I thought I’d put down for posterity his thoughts and explanation of what ATT is up to in this space.

Some of the topics that Joe tackles:

  • ATT’s evolving strategy involves mix of managed endpoints and a variety of network services as well as a variety of services in the cloud.
  • ATT’s services range from infrastructure services like “Synaptic hosting,” storage as a service and compute as a service thru a variety of SaaS apps like unified comms and collaboration,  SAP,  Oracle ebiz suite, Seybold and JD Edwards.
  • They have a large platform as a service offering that is used by tens of thousands developers creating at mobile enterprise apps.
  • They target a wide variety of endpoints e.g.  iphones,windows mobile devices,  netbooks, black berries  all the way thru tele-presence rooms.
  • How ATT delivers on both front end and back end architectures.

Pau for now…


Animoto – The Poster Child for AWS & EC2

March 25, 2009

At SXSW interactive I came across the booth for the cloud-based app Animoto.  I was intrigued since I have seen a couple of Amazon Web Services presentations and both held up Animoto as a great example of an application that would have been impossible to deliver any other way.

Animoto, which creates videos for consumers and corporations, relies on a huge amount of processing power and has had gigantic spikes in usage (e.g. going from 70 servers to 8,500 servers in 5 days).   You can say they put the “elastic” in Amazon’s “Elastic Compute Cloud.”

Here is an interview I did with Animoto co-founder and President Jason Hsiao.

To watch in High Quality: after clicking play, click the “HQ” button that will appear on the bottom.

Some of the things Jason talks about:

  • Total number of servers owned by Animoto = 0
  • The most expensive piece of equipment in the office is the espresso machine.
  • How the enterprise side of the business has taken off.
  • Why they’re based in New York and where the founders came from.
  • How their extreme processor intensiveness allows them to work extra closely with Amazon.
  • See how he deftly avoids the question about what feature he is looking forward to seeing from Amazon, they must be working on something ;-)

Extra-credit reading:

Pau for now…


Forrester Report on Blueprint now Available

March 17, 2009

A few weeks ago I blogged about the Forrester review of Blueprint that was published in early February.

We recently purchased licensing rights to the report, “Vendor Snapshot: Lombardi Blueprint Bridges Gap Between Process Discovery And Execution” and it is now available here.

Quotable Quotes

Here are some of my favorite quotes from the report:

Blueprint provides a process modeling and discovery platform that blends collaboration and documentation capabilities into an easy-to-use, low cost, software-as-a-service offering that can be used by beginner to expert process analysts.

Blueprint combines the best of both worlds for analysts: the “ready-to-use” feel of office productivity tools and the comprehensive knowledge repository found in traditional BPA tools.

Lombardi Blueprint represents a new way of developing, delivering, and interacting with software — the combination of SaaS, Web 2.0, and business process.

From the very beginning, BPM suite vendors sold business and process analysts on empty promises of easy-to-use modeling capabilities. Lombardi is one of the first BPM suite vendors to deliver on the promise of ease of use for process analysts. Lombardi Blueprint combines collaboration, ease of use, and a centralized process repository into an inexpensive and elegant SaaS-based offering.

But don’t take Forrester’s word for it…

And if those quotes don’t get you to sign-up for a free 30-day trial of Blueprint, I don’t know what will. :-)  Check Blueprint out for yourself.  Sign-up for a free trial here.

Pau for now…



A Batch of Lombardi News

March 6, 2009

A bunch of cool Lombardi-related news bits came out last week.   I’ve been a bit slow on the uptake so I thought I’d put them together into one entry.

Lombardi Announces ’08 Results

A cause for celebration!

A cause for celebration!

Last week we announced results for last year (our fiscal and calendar years are the same).  It was our best year yet and particularly cool was that fact that our software sales grew 47% year over year.

My favorite quote from the release was from our president Phil Gilbert,  “[customers] need to lose fat while building muscle. Lombardi helps our customers do both.”

And of course I’m biased but my favorite bullet from our release was:

  • SaaS Adoption: Surpassed 4,500 companies using Lombardi Blueprint, an on-demand process-documentation tool that is used to collaboratively map an organization’s business processes, identify problems, and prioritize improvement opportunities, making it the most widely used Software as a Service (SaaS) BPM product.

Cap Gemini goes with Lombardi

Under the heading “with a little help from our friends” (especially the ones who are big Systems Integrators), we announced that Cap Gemini’s Business Process Outsourcing Platform “will deploy Lombardi Teamworks as the standard process framework for all of its BPOpen 2.0™ BPO managed processes and will make it available to both existing and future customers as a way to help drive further efficiencies in their businesses.” (And for those of you prefer your announcements in French, voila).  (Or Dutch).

Gartner 2009 BPMS Magic Quadrant released

And under the heading “everyone’s favorite 2×2 matrix,” Gartner released its ’09 Magic Quadrant for Business Process Management Suites.  (Man are there a lot of players in the space these days!)  Lombardi was very pleased to find itself in the leaders quadrant once again.  To see exactly where, click here.

All in all, a good week last week :-)

Pau for now…


The Cloud — Looking back at ’08 and forward to ’09: Taking with Rackspace’s Head of Strategy

January 7, 2009

I first met Lew Moorman, Rackspace’s Chief strategy officer, at Rackspace’s big Cloud Event back in October.  It was at this event that Rackspace, through acquisitions as well their friendly annexation of  Mosso, positioned itself as a major cloud player.

I caught up with Lew during the slow time over the holidays and we chatted about his thoughts and predictions for Cloud Computing.

lewmoorman

Lew, a self-portrait (lifted from his twitter page)

Take a listen:

>> My talk with Lew (13:18): Listen (mp3) Listen (ogg)

Some of the Topics we tackle:

  • The reason cloud computing is getting all the attention it is is because it represents the paradigm shift of consuming IT as a service.
  • The cloud is all about consuming your IT over the web, on the WAN as opposed to the LAN, from a centralized provider and you don’t have a concept of the assets that are being used to deliver that IT.
  • How the recessionary environment is helping to speed along the adoption of the cloud.
  • How Rackspace plays in all three areas of cloud computing: Infrastructure as a Service (storage and compute power are the cornerstones), Platform as Service (the ability to deploy code on ready-made platform) and Applications as a Service (aka SAAS).
  • Is “Internal Cloud” an oxymoron?
  • Which type of players are likely to be the winners in this space.

Pau for now…


The Sassy part of the Cloud

December 18, 2008

These days when people describe cloud computing you’ll often hear them dividing it into three basic groups:

  1. Application Clouds (aka Software as a Service or SaaS)
  2. Platform Clouds (aka Platform as a Service or PaaS)
  3. Infrastructure Clouds (aka Infrastructure as a Service or IaaS)

Besides self-interest (a cloud-based app helps me pay my bills), I find the first group above the most interesting as well as the most tangible for the average bear.

So what does the board think?

A couple of weeks ago the Data Center Advisory board over at Searchdatacenter.com was asked to weigh in with their thoughts on cloud computing.  RedMonk analyst Michael Cote offered up his SaaSy perspective as follows:

IT managers should be looking at converting their on-premise infrastructure to what we recently called “Software-as-a-Service” and now the bucket of “cloud computing.” If your email isn’t in the cloud already, there should be a fantastically good reason, like regulations that prevent off-premises email.

Can you host your instant messaging in the cloud? How about file sharing and basic intranet functions? Even things like SharePoint look attractive. Essentially, you want to inventory all of the low-priority items you have on your intranet and ask if it’s cheaper to move them off-premise.

Although I would have chosen a less pejorative term than “low-priority items,” I think Cote’s advice is spot on.  He then goes on, while warning against irrational cloud exuberance, to clearly list the key advantages of move apps to the cloud:

Top of the list tends to be cost (both up-front and ongoing, especially when it comes to upgrading and maintenance) but also flexibility and new functionality that come with cloud-based applications.

How cloudy is your IT set-up?

Pau for now…


Talking with the President of Dell Americas about Cloud Computing and the Economy

December 1, 2008

When I attended the RackSpace Customer event back at the end of September I was impressed with the talk that Paul Bell of Dell gave (Paul reports to CEO Michael Dell and is responsible for all business operations for Dell in North and South America).

dell_cloudsedited1

Dell and the Cloud(s) (sources: my hand + the football Dell gave out at the conference + Friday’s sunset)

In his keynote Paul talked about Cloud Computing and the challenges the economy was presenting Dell and its customers.  I caught Paul after his talk (BTW Lombardi is a Dell customer and Dell is a Lombardi Teamworks customer) and asked if I could tape a podcast with him.  He graciously agreed and here’s the result that I recorded at the beginning of last week.

Take a listen:

>> My talk with Paul (11:59): Listen (mp3) Listen (ogg)

Some of the Topics we tackle:

  • The key Cloud characteristics: Speed to deployment and ease of turning on/off
  • The need to separate the “real” from the fictitious when it comes to the Cloud
  • The interest Paul is seeing in the Cloud from smaller companies
  • Two of the biggest ways Dells plays in the cloud 1) supplier of infrastructure 2) deliverer of IT as a service
  • How on one hand the tough economy is driving interest in utilizing the cloud while at the same time it is causing a slow down in the sales of cloud infrastructure
  • The economy (starts ~7:30): Looking back at what happened in 2001 and trying to gain insight
  • How the economic malaise that hit North America has finally caught up with South America
  • How Dell is planning to help customers during these tough times.

Pau for now…


Chattin’ with Mosso co-founder, Jonathan Bryce

November 10, 2008

At the Rackspace Customer Event the week before last, I caught up with Mosso co-founder Jonathan Bryce.  Jonathan walked me through how Mosso, now officially a Rackspace division, got started and where he sees it going.

Take a listen:

>> My chat with Jonathan (10:52):  Listen (mp3) Listen (ogg)

rck_jonathanbryce1

Jonathan chillin’ in the Baroque Westin Riverwalk lobby.

Some of the Topics we tackle:

  • How while at Rackspace, Jonathan and a buddy moonlighted as web app developers and when they couldn’t find a place to host the apps and sites they developed, they got funding from Rackspace and created Mosso.
  • How Mosso was being founded as people were getting burned by the undelivered promises of Utility computing.
  • How Jonathan defines cloud computing (hint: it has three layers).
  • The characteristics and examples of IaaA, PaaS, SaaS and where Rackspace/Mosso plays.
  • The joy of 15 cents a GB per month storage that Mosso will be providing and which Blueprint will be leveraging in our next release.
  • The relationship between Rackspace and Mosso and why the Mosso site is so much cooler.
  • What role open source plays in the Cloud and Mosso.

Extra-credit

If you want to catch Jonathan live, he will be presenting at the Cloud Computing expo in San Jose November 19 – 21.

Pau for now..


Splitting the Cloud in Three

November 4, 2008

Last week I attended the Rackspace Customer Event (Lombardi Blueprint is hosted at Rackspace) down on the Riverwalk in San Antonio.  It was a great event and I sat in on some cool talks as well as grabbed some time with several of the Rackspace execs.

Later this week and/or early next week I will be posting the podcasts I did with CEO Lanham Napier, CTO John Engates as well as Mosso co-founder Jonathan Bryce.

rck_bridge

The Riverwalk at dusk.

One of the talks I sat in on was CTO John Engates’ Cloud Computing presentation.  You can check out the whole presentation here, but the section I wanted to call out was the one that dealt with “The Categories of Cloud Computing.” While not an original construct, it helped me to see it laid out like this:

Application Clouds (SaaS)

  • Ease of use: Low complexity
  • Flexibility: Minimal control
  • Typical Consumers: End users
  • Examples: Mail Trust, Salesfore.com, Blueprint, TurboTax Online, Microsoft Online Services

Platform Clouds (PaaS*)

  • Ease of use: Medium complexity
  • Flexibility: Medium control
  • Typical Consumers: Developers
  • Examples: Rackspace/Mosso Hosting Cloud, Google AppEngine, Force.com, Azure

Infrastructure Clouds (IaaS)

  • Ease of use: High complexity
  • Flexibility: Maximum control
  • Typical Customers: Developers, System Administrators
  • Examples: Rackspace/Mosso Cloud Files, EC2, S3, Microsoft SSDS, FlexiScale, GoGrid

*Not to be confused with PAAS.

While I find these categories helpful now, I’m sure it won’t be long until these divisions go the way of “intranet,” “extranet,” and “internet,” and there’s just one big happy cloud.

rck_originalcloud

Where it all began“The Original Cloud” TM.

Pau for now…


Microsoft Joins the Cloud Party

October 28, 2008

Yesterday at PDC, the big Microsoft developer fest, Ray Ozzie got up and announced the beta launch of Windows Azure, Microsoft’s entry into the cloud computing arena. (It may be beta but you’ll notice they already have a snazzy logo)

This wasn’t a big surprise to anyone since they had been doing some saber-rattling in the past weeks about how they would be joining the party (fashionably late in true Microsoft style).  To carry the party analogy a little bit further, two of the other guests who had gotten there early to help set up, Rackspace and Amazon, made announcements of their own last week.  Rackspace announced the acquisition of two cloud-focused start-ups and a reorganization of their Coud division, Mosso.  Amazon added Windows as an OS to EC2 (have a mentioned how much I dislike the “EC2″ name?), dropped the “beta” tag it and added an SLA of 99.95% availability per year.

Looking at the Cloud from both sides now

In an interesting post from the BBC’s Rory Cellan-Jones, which is based on an interview that Rory conducted with Ozzie yesterday, Rory finds out they have slightly different interpretations of cloud computing (shocker!).  Ozzie sees Amazon as a cloud pioneer but “[insisted] that Google just wasn’t in cloud computing.”

I pointed out that the one cloud application with which I was familiar was Google Docs … But it turned out we were looking at the cloud from different sides. Mr Ozzie was focussing on it as something you rented out to businesses so they could use the vast computing power in your data centres to create applications which could scale up in a hurry – an approach where Amazon is enjoying plenty of success. I was thinking of the cloud as a place where millions of users could store their data and use simple online programmes, mostly for free.

There are folks who agree with Ray that what Google does is deliver Software as a Service rather than cloud computing but I don’t think the distinction is helpful.  To me if you draw on compute resources, be they apps or platforms, from a source you don’t own or manage and that you can scale up or down as needed and you are billed accordingly… that’s cloud computing.  (I’m off to the Rackspace customer event today so it will be interesting to see if I come back with a different definition ;)

Pau for now…


“Poison:” Blueprint October ’08 is live

October 27, 2008

As product manager Dave Marquard announced this weekend, the October release of Blueprint is now out.

In keeping with the project naming schema of an alphabetical list of “bands-from-the-70’s-and-80’s-that-are-at-least-somewhat-cheesy” we are up to “P” and “Poison” (check-out the whole list here).  Poison is the 11th public Blueprint release and the 16th overall (releases usually come out every 6-7 weeks).

What’s new to Poison:

  • User Management: Thanks to the magical properties of SaaS and improvements to Blueprint, the project leader, or whomever has the admin rights, can add users on the fly and reassign user accounts depending on activity level.  If someone isn’t utilizing their account it can be reassigned to a new individual at the click of the mouse.
  • Invitations: Just like a social networking app like LinkedIn or Facebook, you can now send  invites to colleagues to join Blueprint and collaborate on process discovery and documentation.
  • Instant Upgrades: If you have signed up for a Free account and want to upgrade to the Professional Edition, all you have to do is hit the “Upgrade Now!” button and you are good to go!
  • Printing Big and Small: Whereas before you printed out your process flow diagrams to plotter-sized sheets of paper, you now have the option of printing the full image as a composite across as many pages as needed, or even scale it to fit on one sheet.
  • Word Export of Process Documentation: We’ve improved the print out capability to Microsoft Word Documents.  Now when you print from Documentation View all your inputs, outputs, problems and stakeholders are included.

Stay tuned for cool features the next release which is due in 6-7 weeks.  And what is the code name of the next release you may ask?  “Q” is the letter so it could only be “Quiet Riot.”

Pau for now…


Watch Blueprint in Action

October 13, 2008

If a pictures is worth a 1,000 words, how many words is a 1 minute and 39 second-you tube video worth?

See for yourself.  Below is a clip that introduces the viewer to Lombardi Blueprint, the cloud-based process modeling solution (everything you see is taking place within a browser) that I’m working on.

Initial Project Goals

To give you some context for viewing, here’s how Blueprint’s lead architect Alex Moffat described the team’s initial challenge last year:

The challenge handed to us was to create a tool that the average business user could use to document and manage their business processes. It had to be easy to use, encourage collaboration between team members, and provide a shared repository for all of a company’s process documentation. Workflow functionality had to be on par with our competitors: Microsoft Visio, IDS Scheer’s ARIS, IBM’s WebSphere Business Modeler, and other desktop modeling tools. But we also wanted wiki & shared whiteboard capabilities to store information. Editing should use the drag and drop interaction users of desktop apps are familiar with. We ended up with some additional features that really set us apart:

  • An intuitive map view as a high level visualization of a process
  • Automatic workflow diagram generation
  • PowerPoint generation for easily presenting the process
  • Online chat functionality

If you’d like to actually test out Blueprint for yourself, you can get your hands on a free copy here.

Pau for now…


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