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The Ryanairs Of Telecom are Here…

December 17, 2013 Leave a comment

After years of virtually no innovation from telecom operators, 2014 will be different. Not because telecom dinosaurs have all of a sudden become lean mean innovation machines. Quite the contrary. Most operators are still focusing on rolling out THIS YEAR’s (instead of today’s) “innovative” service which will be just a copycat of some famous dotcom.

So why the excitement?
2014 will be the pivot year. The year that will be marked in history books as the year old school lost and innovators won.

The first Ryanair-like disruptive telecoms will leave their borders and start bankrupting “traditional telecoms”. Cross-platform voice/video 4G apps will reach the tipping point. Cloud Telco PaaS will be reality. Individual communication solutions or iCommunication will be a reality. Web 3.0 will include voice & video communication. NFV will be driven by non-telecom players. WAN SDN will be deployed by more than only Google, Amazon, etc. Cloud Media Streaming will reach the tipping point. Internet of things will meet Cloud will meet Big Data will meet Mobile will meet disruptive communication solutions. Early adopters paradise…

2014 will be an exciting year for those that love telecom innovation!!! Bit pipe nightmares becoming reality for others.

Telco innovators and the rest…

November 24, 2013 Leave a comment

2014 will be the year in which telecom will be split into two. The ones that understand iCommunication and the ones that don’t. iCommunication is about giving a personalized communication experience to consumers and enterprises. Low cost subscription models and freemium will be the main business models. Low-cost pay per use is still possible but not for messaging or voice traffic. The value proposition needs to be higher.

What will this mean?
Bit pipes will become a reality in Europe and possible in the US (mainly dependent on what Google and others do). Telecom operators massive head count reductions. Nokia & Blackberry will be joined by other one time big telco names. The end of the world for some. Especially for those that belief telecom is a dividend generator or a bottomless pit for license taxation…

For consumers and enterprises there will be a new world of communication possibilities. Communication will be fully integrated into back office systems, e.g. CRMs like Salesforce store all calls. Improvements in voice recognition will make talking to machines a natural interface. Managing contacts will become a breeze. Forget memorizing phone numbers…

Communication as a Service will be the big innovation. The Cloud, Big Data, IoT will meet IP communication. Whatsapp will have a bigger brother for voice and video. Unless Google and Apple surprise the market with joint IP-based communication over LTE and WiFi. Asia, Africa and Latam will have two more years but most of their operators will make the same mistakes as the European ones.

Bit pipes are not even a safe business because the Ryanair of telecom will be able to quickly pickup mobile licenses and networks of the third/forth player, the one that goes bankrupt.

Things will not look nice for the next three years for some but we all knew that it was going to come for the last 10-15 years. Any CxO that calls this an unforeseen disruptive technology should be fired on the spot. The next edition of the Innovators Dilemma does not have to go back to the last century for examples. This is a textbook case for MBA students for years to come…

Solving the pressing need for Linux talent…

September 17, 2013 Leave a comment

The Linux Foundation shared the below infographics recently.  Click on it and you get the associated report. The short message is, if you are an expert in Linux you are in high demand because companies don’t find enough experts due to the Cloud and Big Data boom.

Unless cloning machines are discovered later this year, quickly expanding the number of Linux experts is unlikely to happen. This means total cost of ownership for enterprises is likely to rise. This is ironic since Linux is all about open source and providing some of the most amazing solutions for free.

The obvious alternative is to focus on Microsoft products. They are relatively cheap in total cost of ownership since licenses are “payable” and average Windows skills can be easier found.

However Microsoft is loosing the server war, especially in the web application space. So this is not a winning strategy if you are going to do Cloud.

How to solve the pressing need for Linux talent?

The only possible strategy is to lower the number of experts needed per company. Larger companies always will need some but they should be focused on the “interesting high-value tasks”. This concept of interesting and high-value is key. With the number of cloud servers exploding, we can not expect the number of experts to explode.

Open source products like Puppet and Chef have helped to alleviate the pain for the more “skilled” companies. One DevOp was able to manage more than ten times as many machines as before. Unfortunately these server provisioning tools are not for the faint of heart. They  require experts that know both administration and coding.

It is time for the next generation of tools. Ubuntu, the number #1 Cloud operating system, is leading the way with Juju. If Linux wants to continue to be successful then the common problems, the boring problems, the repetitive problems, etc. should be solved. Solved by Linux gurus in such a way that we, the less IT gifted, can get instant solutions for these common problems.

We need a Linux democracy in which the lesser skilled, but unfortunately the majority, can instantly reuse best-in-class blueprint solutions. Juju is a new class of tools that gives you instant solutions. For all those common problems: scaling a web application, monitoring your infrastructure, sharding MongoDB, replicating a database, installing a Hadoop cluster, setting up continuous integration, etc. Juju can offer solutions. The individual software components have been “charmed”. A Charm allows the software to be instantly deployed, integrated and scaled. However the real revolution is just starting. Juju will have bundles pretty soon. Technically speaking, a bundle is a collection of pre-configured and integrated Charms. In lays speak, a bundle is an instant solution for a common problem. You instantly deploy a bundle [one command or drag-and-drop] and you get a blue-print solution. Since Juju is open source, the community can create as many instant solutions as there are common problems.

So if you want to scale your IT solutions without stretching neither your budget or cloning your employees and without the lock-in of any proprietary and expensive commercial software, then you should try Juju today. Play with the GUI or install Juju today.

Startups: Want to launch new features hourly?

If you read sites like highscalability.com you will have certainly read about those big name dotcoms that deploy new features to production up to tens of times a day. For most startups bringing features to production is still a manual, at best semi-manual process. You have the odd start-up that has it all automated, but unfortunately this is often a signal that they have too much time on their hands which points towards more critical problems.

What if startups would not have to worry about how to set-up hourly feature deployment? What if they could get an open source solution that delivers them flexible and highly scalable continuous deployment in minutes?

What if Startups could launch new features faster than the top DotComs and scale almost as good?

If this sounds attractive to you or you know a start-up to whom it would be, then you should visit this blog post. Ubuntu has launched a beta program and if enough startups sign up, then they will build an instant and scalable open source continuous deployment solution for them.

Ubuntu Edge – The largest Crowd-funding experiment in history

Traditionally manufacturers would build a product, stock their warehouses and hope they sell it. “Build it and they will come”, was the norm. A very expensive strategy. Crowd-funding websites have changed this. Start-ups are now able to create a prototype, shoot a video and see if people will love the product without investing any massive amounts of money.

Today is a special day because crowd-funding can change forever. Today Canonical announced the largest crown-funding experiment ever. Where Pebble asked for $100K, got oversubscribed 100 times and ended up getting around $10M, Canonical is aiming for $32M from the start.

So who is Canonical and how will they pull this off? Canonical is the company behind Ubuntu, the most popular open source Linux distribution that runs over 50% of the Operating Systems in public clouds like Amazon AWS.

Canonical will be presenting the Ubuntu Edge, an awesome phone that will push the limits of mobile communication as we know it. It is the first phone that is “your PC in your pocket”. A phone that you hook up to a screen and a keyboard and you can use as a laptop. With 4GB of memory it has similar specs as a laptop. The Ubuntu Edge also has an Edge in usability. Everybody that was able to use the Ubuntu phone operating system will tell you that it is one of the easiest phones out there. Swipe from the left and you have all your most used apps, not only 4. Swipe from the top and you have full control of your Wifi, network, etc. Gone are the days that you had to push: Settings, Wi-Fi, etc. Without lifting a finger you pick your wifi. Right-slide switches between your apps. Bottom-slide gives you an in-app menu that changes based on the current app.

So what about mobile apps. That is exactly the reason why crowd-funding is used. All Ubuntu enthusiasts will be able to get their hands on an Ubuntu Edge. These are the top computer experts in this world. The top Geeks. The people that recompile an operating system kernel for fun. So expect them to come up with apps that push boundaries because the Ubuntu Edge is the only phone that is completely Open: Open Source, Open Hardware and Open Funding. Find more here: igg.me/at/ubuntuedge

Presto – Facebook´s Exabyte-Scale Query Engine

Presto is Facebook´s answer to Cloudera´s Impala, Hortonworks´ Stinger and Google´s Dremel. Presto is an ANSI-SQL compatible real-time data warehouse query engine so existing data tools should be working with it unlike Hive which needed special integration. Presto is in-memory and runs simple queries in few hundred milliseconds and complex queries in a few minutes. Ideal for interactive data warehousing. Unfortunately Presto will not be open sourced until later this year [probably fall], so the Big Data community will have to be patient.

Open Source real-time massive-scale data warehousing is likely to disrupt existing players like Teradata, Oracle, etc. who until recently were able to charge $100K per tera-byte…

Update: Facebook has open source Presto. You can now download it at http://prestodb.io/

If you want to make a Juju Charm of Presto please contact me…

MapD – Massively Parallel GPU-based database

An MIT student recently created a new type of massively distributed database, one that runs on graphical processors instead of CPUs. Mapd, as it has been called, makes use of the immense computational power available in off-the-shelf graphics cards that can be found in any laptop or PC. Mapd is especially suitable for real-time quering, data analysis, machine learning and data visualization. Mapd is probably only one of many databases that will try new hardware configurations  to cater for specific application use cases.

Alternative approaches could focus on large sets of cheap mobile processors, Parallella processors, Raspberry PIs, etc. all stitched together. The idea would be to create massive processing clouds based on cheap specialized hardware that could beat traditional CPU Clouds both in price and performance at least for some specific use cases…

A Big Data-Base that is fast but inaccurate: BlinkDB

April 6, 2013 2 comments

The idea might sound strange at first. Why would you want a database that delivers inaccurate data? However BlinkDB trades accuracy for speed. When you query data you can specify when you want the answer, e.g. within 2 seconds, or how accurate you want the answer to be, e.g. 1% error with 95% confidence.

So if you have very large amounts of data (10-100s of Tera Bytes or even Peta Bytes) and you want quick good enough answers then BlinkDB is for you. An early adopter is Facebook. Would you rather have Justin Bieber‘s followers count exactly right in minutes or 99% right as long as your page loads almost instantly? So if you need fast reasonably accurate answers over slow correct answers, BlinkDB is worth checking out.

What can you use BlinkDB for?

  • The obvious use case would be real-time reporting? If you need to take decisions in the blink of an eye, e.g. day traders, and 5-10% error is acceptable, e.g. what is the average change of all commodity prices in the last 2 seconds.
  • Real-time bookings or price comparison in which users want to know the best possible offer but accept some small error margin, e.g. mobile bar-code scanners that deliver product price comparisons in 1 second instead of 10 will dominate the App Store.
  • Any visitor, friends, tweets, total search results, etc. counter on a large website in the world.
  • Any Power Law or Long Tail data in which there are some extremely popular cases, e.g. Justin Bieber followers, or a very large set of infrequent cases, e.g. the number of blogs that have under 1000 visitors per month.
  • Machine Learning solutions and recommendation engines that are using Collaborative Filtering and other types of algorithms that compare an item or user with large groups of other items and users.
  • and many other use cases…

How Intel’s Hadoop distribution wants to be different

February 27, 2013 Leave a comment

Intel announced this week it’s Big Data strategy with its crown jewel their own Hadoop distribution. Many people will be surprised that a chip maker wants to be your Hadoop supplier as well. Mcafee is Intel’s most visible enterprise software offering and it was an acquisition not an offering based on organic growth.
Intel’s Hadoop distribution on the other hand was a Chinese project some years ago that turned into a product.
So how is Intel going to compete with Cloudera, Hortonworks, MapR, IBM, EMC/Greenplum, etc.?
Intel Hadoop Distribution is having real-time queries just like Cloudera’s Impala. But instead of being a separate product, they will be embedded in Hive. Intel also looked at Cloudera Manager for inspiration around how to make Hadoop management easy. This part will however only be available for enterprise customers.
One of the main selling point will be performance. intel’s Hadoop will be fully optimized for Intel’s processors and SSD. Another selling point is security. Intel is launching project Rhino that will include more fine grained security and faster encryption. Further more Intel’s Hadoop is based on Yarn, the latest Hadoop branch, that comes with extra features like support for other than map-reduce frameworks and advanced resource management.
Finally unlike Cloudera, MapR and Hortonworks, Cloudera is a blue chip company with a global footprint and big name partnerships like Cisco, SAP, Terradata, Wipro, SAS, Dell, Redhat, etc.
Will it be enough to stop people from running Hadoop on large volumes of low-cost ARM chips? Only time can tell…

5 Strategies for Making Money with the Cloud

January 22, 2013 1 comment

Everybody is hearing Cloud Computing on the television now. Operators will store your contacts in the Cloud. Hosting companies will host your website in the Cloud. Others will store your photos in the Cloud.

However how do you make money with the Cloud?

The first thing is to forget about infrastructure and virtualization. If you are thinking that in 2013, the world needs more IaaS providers then you haven’t seen what is currently on offer (Amazon, Microsoft, Google, Rackspace, Joyent, Verizon/Terramark, IBM, HP, etc.).

So what are alternative strategies:

1) Rocket Internet SaaS Cloning

Your best hope is SaaS and PaaS. The best markets are non-English speaking markets. We have seen an explosion of SaaS in the USA but most have not made it to the rest of the world yet. Only some bigger SaaS solutions (Webex, GoToMeeting, Office 365, etc.)  and PaaS platforms (Salesforce, Workday, etc.) are available outside of the US and the UK. However most SaaS and PaaS solutions are currently still English-only. So the quickest solution to make some money is to just copy, translate and paste some successful English-only SaaS product. If you do not know how to copy dotcoms, take a look at how the Rocket Internet team is doing it. Of course you should always be open for those annoying problems everybody has that could use a new innovative solution and as such create your own SaaS.

2) SaaSification

During the gold rush, be the restaurant, hotel or tool shop. While everybody is looking for the SaaS gold, offer solutions that will save gold diggers time and money. SaaSification allows others to focus on building their SaaS business, not on reinventing for the millionth time a web page, web store, email server, search, CRM, monthly subscription billing, reporting, BI, etc. Instead of a “Use Shopify to create your online store”, it should be “Use <YOUR PRODUCT> to create a SaaS Business”.

3) Mobile & Cloud

Everybody is having, or at least thinking about buying, a Smartphone. However there are very few really good mobile services that fully exploit the Cloud. Yet I can get a shopping list app but most are just glorified to-do lists. None is recommending me where to go and buy based on current promotions and comparison with other buyers. None is helping me find products inside a large supermarket. None is learning from my shopping habits and suggesting items on the list. None is allowing me to take a number at the seafood queue. These are just examples for one mobile + cloud app. Think about any other field and you are sure to find great ideas.

4) Specialized IaaS

I mentioned it before, IaaS is already overcrowded but there is one exception: specialized IaaS. You can focus on specialized hardware, e.g. virtualized GPU, DSP, mobile ARM processors. On network virtualization like SDN and Openflow. Mobile and tablet virtualization. Embedded device virtualization. Machine Learning IaaS. Car Software virtualization.

5) Disruptive Innovations + Cloud

Selling disruptive innovations and offering them as Cloud services. Examples could be 3D printing services, wireless sensor networks / M2M, Big Data, Wearable Tech, Open Source Hardware, etc. The Cloud will lower your costs and give you a global elastically scalable solution.

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