Dumb and Dumber is better than the Next Big Thing

December 17, 2014 1 comment

The software world is a strange beast. It is the only industry that has one million solutions and no paying customer problems. The other industries are the other way around. There is a tendency to open source and commoditise more and more solutions. The reason is that companies always migrate upwards in the value chain, meaning that the hardware, the operating system, etc. are now commodity because the value is in the platform or the application. To get more customers to your platform, you need to make it as easy for them to get there. Open sourcing is a trialled and tested approach for this. It also means that every x years somebody will comoditise your current cashcow.

By far the strangest thing about the IT industry is its obsession with the Next Big Thing.  There is a very small number of companies that have mastered the art of Cloud, Big Data, Continuous Deployment, Docker, SDNs, etc. Yet whatever their problem is they are currently working on seems to be on the mind of everybody. The belief is that if you convince the Cool Company to embrace your product then everybody will embrace it over time.

I beg to differ. Being on the bleeding edge of technology means you have to open source everything and keep on outrunning everybody else. Lots of really smart people are playing the risk-it-all lottery in the hope their new invention will change billions of people’s habits. Most of the time the money made with those new solutions is trivial versus the old money and you need so much VC money that at the end the pay-out to the winners is not that big.

What if in 2015 instead on focusing on the next big thing, all the smart people in the IT industry would focus on the dumb solutions that are used in many other industries on a daily basis. Dumb and dumber really describes the IT architecture of many non-IT based industries. Helping them to accelerate via lean start-up methodology, minimum valuable product, disruptive solutions, etc. will more likely create a new list of billionaires then to try to impress Google with a better Kubernetes or Facebook with a better Wedge. Smart people should forget about the next big thing in IT and focus on the dumb and dumber solutions from other industries…

Disruptive operator, Truphone, to show the future to other operators

December 16, 2014 Leave a comment

Truphone showed other operators how open source, telecom solutions & available in minutes can now be combined in one sentence. Check out the details at: https://insights.ubuntu.com/2014/12/16/truphone-uses-juju-to-demo-worlds-first-telecom-solution-in-minutes/

Snappy Ubuntu for Business People

December 9, 2014 1 comment

Canonical is the company behind Ubuntu. Ubuntu powers up to 70% of the public cloud and 64% of OpenStack private clouds run on top of Ubuntu. Today, Canonical launched Snappy Ubuntu Core! Snappy Ubuntu is a revolution in how software gets packaged, deployed, upgraded and rolled-back. So what is it and why should you and your business care?

What is Snappy Ubuntu?
Snappy is allowing developers to build Snappy Apps – called Snapps – like mobile apps and deploy them to the cloud. In the past developers would make a software solution, afterwards a maintainer would take often weeks or months to create a packaged version. This would mean that fast moving projects like Docker would never be up to date inside any of the big Linux distributions. Snappy changes this by allowing the developer to package their solution on their own and publish it through the Snappy Store to all users in minutes. Since all Snapps run in a secure and confined environment, they can not harm other Snapps or the operating system itself. Quality, speed and security can now all be combined.

Snappy upgrades are transactional. This means that you install a new version in one go but also easily roll back to the previous version if required. Snappy manages a super small version of Ubuntu called Ubuntu Core. This means you can run it very cost efficiently and fast in the cloud.

Why is Snappy important for Businesses?

Snappy allows solutions to be packaged and published by the software vendors in minutes instead of months. Users can deploy and roll back very easily. Trying new innovations becomes cheap and fast.

Snapps can use any license. Snappy Ubuntu was born as a spin-off of the Ubuntu Phone operating system. You might want to make a guess of what is likely to come.

With Snappy, the vendor packages the complete application, including its dependencies. Less moving parts mean less chances of something going wrong and cheaper to support customers. Updates are incremental so only what changes gets pushed, saving bandwidth costs and time. Urgent security patches can be easily distributed, with high confidence.

Existing Docker or other container apps can be Snappy deployed. Building your Docker containers on top of Snappy Ubuntu makes good business sense. In the future you can get optional commercial support from a company that has been supporting Linux for 10 years and is trusted by Amazon AWS, Google and Microsoft Azure with the big majority of their Linux workloads.

Snappy Ubuntu is open source and has some great example Snapps, so make sure your teams don’t get “Snappsassinated” by a competitor…

Tax-avoiding Dotcoms playing Russian Roulette with their Stock Price

November 30, 2014 Leave a comment

I am watching “We’re not broke”, the documentary around US Unset and tax-avoidance by large corporations. Now the story behind all this is not new. Through history corporations have tried multiple times to put the chief financial officer in charge of generating better corporate results. A business executive would focus on understanding their customers better, giving them what they ask and selling them more. A technical executive on creating a blue ocean strategy through some technical innovation that puts the company in the centre of a new universe and makes competitors irrelevant. A financial executive however has only numbers to play with. Last time the CFOs cooked the books with aggressive revenue recognition. This time they are focusing on artificially lowering the tax bill via the creation of offshore shell companies that get all the profit even if they don’t have any employees.

A Russian Roulette Game with Stock Prices
A large corporation like GE or Bank of America is relatively safe from large groups of customers not being happy with the company’s corporate social irresponsibility [CSI]. What are people going to do? Change banks? Buy a fridge elsewhere? It is just not going to happen in big enough numbers to be of any impact on their profits.

Dotcoms however have a weakness that can put their stock price at risk if they want to be the king of CSI: people might actually do what they want them to do. Most of the big dotcoms get most money from advertisement. They put ads everywhere and teach people how to click them. Advertisers then pay per clicked ad lots of money to these dotcoms. However what if people in protest would massively start clicking advertisement banners but not buying the actual things behind them. The dotcoms would initially see their profits go through the roof but all its customers would see that they pay lots more money and get no value at all. Pretty soon stock prices would go in free fall. The irony would be that these protectors could use social networks and online videos to teach others how to join in the protest. So one advise to large dotcoms, please pay a responsible amount of taxes and focus your effort on out-innovating the rest of the industries and not on copying their bad habits…

Proximity Cloud, what is it and why you should care…

November 29, 2014 Leave a comment

Many people are still getting their head around public and private clouds. Even less know about Internet of Things. However the real revolution will be bringing both together and for that you will need a proximity cloud.

What is a proximity cloud?
In five years time there will be billions of sensors everywhere. You will be wearing them on your body. They will be in your house, at your job, in your hospital, in your city, in your car/bus/plane, etc.

Now in a world where 1 billion people will have access to 10’s or even 100’s of connected devices around them, it is easy to understand that you don’t want to send all data they generate to a public or private cloud. There is just not enough mobile spectrum or fiber capacity to cater for this.

What we need is put intelligence close to the data generators to determine if your heartbeat, that video camara stream, the electricity consumption of your boiler, the brake capacity of your car, etc. are within normal limits or are outliers that deserve some more attention. Especially if video is involved you don’t want to send it over a public Internet connection if it has nothing interesting on it, e.g. the cat of the neighbours just got onto your lawn.

So houses, cars, companies, telecoms, hospitals, manufacturers, etc. will need some new type of equipment close to the data avalanches in order to filter out the 99.999999% of useless data.

An example. If you are a security company that manages tens of thousands of video cameras in thousands of companies then you want to know when a thief walks by or an aggression happens. You will train machines to make decisions on what the difference is between a human walking past or a cat. However burglars will soon find out that computer vision has a fault and when they wear a cat disguise they can get past. It is this type of events that will trigger a central cloud platform to request all videos of a local business in the last 24 hours and to train its visual model that humans can wear animal suits and then push this to all proximity clouds in all its customer premises. The alternative is storing all video streams in the cloud which would require enormous bandwidth or even worse, not knowing what happened and being in the press the next week for being the “cat-suit” flop.

IoT revolution in the making…

November 29, 2014 Leave a comment

As announced previously if you are into IoT, proximity clouds, robotics, next-generation networking equipment, etc. then you want to subscribe to Telruptive because I plan on giving readers early access to IoT innovations that are non-public. This message will be the first of this kind. Ubuntu will make some major IoT announcements in the coming months. The type that change industries. So if you are working on something that can be connected to the Internet and can house an ARMv7, Intel Quark or better then please reach out to me on LinkedIn and tell me what you are working on. If it meets our innovation criteria then we will let you in on some of our secrets before anybody else. We want to give your innovation wings and make 2015 a magical year for innovators…

Eliminating RFPs to make enterprise software sexy

November 28, 2014 Leave a comment

Today I had a meeting that could be the beginning of the end of RFPs to buy software. RFPs are the tool established buyers and vendors use to keep new entrants at bay. However I haven’t met anybody that says they love writing or responding to them. The effect of RFPs on software is perverse. The main problem is that you can’t ask if your software is beautiful, easy to use, fast to integrate, efficient, effective at solving a business problem, secure, etc. Instead you ask if you provide training, because you assume it is ugly and difficult. You ask if they offer consultancy services and an SDK or connector library because you assume it is difficult. You assume you need to customise it for months because it will not be effective out of the box. But most importantly since you will be stuck with the software for years, you ask if it supports any potential feature that perhaps in 5 years might be needed for 5 minutes. It is this last set of questions that kill any innovation and ease of use in business software. A product manager in the receiving end will get funding to add those absurd features when customers ask for them. A career limiting move would be to ask for budget to reduce useless features or tell that your product looks worse than Frankenstein.

So how can you make sure that software is beautiful, does what it supposed to efficiently and effectively, is fast, nimble, easy to use, secure, scalable, fast to integrate, is future proof, etc.? You do what you do when you buy a car, you go and ask the keys of different models and take them for a serious spin and put them to their limits.

So what you propose is a three months PoC for each potential solution?
No what I propose is being able to get your hands on all different alternative software solutions and deploying, integrating and scaling them in hours or even minutes and then release a bunch of automatic performance tests and rough end-users, even some ethical hackers or competitors.

If the software does what it says on the tin, is effective, efficient, beautiful, secure, fast, scalable, easy, etc. then you negotiate pricing or use it for a minimum valuable product.

It used to be impossible to do all of this in hours but with solutions to deploy quickly private clouds and cloud orchestration solutions like Juju, we are actually planning on trying this approach with a real customer and real suppliers. To be continued…

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