Head in the Clouds: SaaS, PaaS, and Cloud Strategy

October 9, 2012  9:00 AM

Keeping an eye on AWS reserved instances

Adam Riglian Profile: Adam Riglian

In September, Amazon Web Services launched a marketplace for reserved instances — a contracted, fixed-term version of its cloud infrastructure. Cue the analytics startup.

InstanceVibe.com, a two-week old baby of a website launched by Roman Stepanenko, offers analytics and alerts to prospective buyers in the reserved instances marketplace.

“Generally, each company has a preferred timeframe for the amount of time they want to have an instance. Especially with the startups, if you want to have a reserved instance, you have to pay some cash up front,” he explains. “If you want to find perfect instance for your needs, you need to keep logging into the AWS console. [The] natural solution is to supply some sort of alert where you supply the criteria to what you’re interested in and you’re notified by email.”

Stepanenko, a former financial services developer who founded structural exception search engine BrainLeg in April, said he bought the domain right after he saw Amazon’s announcement. The website launched two weeks ago. He got the idea for the site from his own experiences with the reserved instances marketplace.

InstanceVibe users set a certain criteria for the type of instance they want to find, including the amount of time they want on the contract and the amount of usage. The marketplace is scanned by InstanceVibe regularly and alerts are sent out to users when instances are available with their criteria.

Alerts are free for t1.micro instances. Costs scale up to $9.99 for two weeks and $14.99 for four weeks of unlimited alerts for any instance. Each time the marketplace is scanned, the data is stored in a historical prices database and analyzed to show the best possible prices over a certain amount of time. Those analytics are free.

“Every time I scan the marketplace I am saving these data points in my database and that allows me to analyze when instances are sold and when they become listed,” Stepanenko said. “I can calculate the best costs of ownership historically [based on the information].”

Read more from Adam Riglian on SearchCloudApplications.com. Follow him on Twitter @AdamRiglian

October 1, 2012  7:00 PM

SAP hits back at Ellison over OpenWorld keynote

Adam Riglian Profile: Adam Riglian

Larry Ellison took a swipe at SAP HANA during his keynote address Sunday night. By Monday afternoon, one of enterprise IT’s empires was prepared to strike back.

“For the last 24 hours, my eyebrows have been glued two-thirds of the way up my forehead, ” said an incredulous Steve Lucas, executive vice president of Business Analytics, Database and Technology at SAP. “My first reactions were ‘you’ve got to be kidding me.’ ”

The quotes that had Lucas irate came when Ellison was discussing Exadata X3, the latest incarnation of Oracle’s database. He touted its 26 terabytes of in-memory before drawing comparison with HANA, something he joked he would not do during the speech.

“I know that SAP has an in-memory machine. It’s a little smaller,” Ellison said.

Lucas says not so fast – SAP announced that HANA boasted 100 terabytes in-memory at Sapphire in May.

“These are the most baseless set of statements I’ve ever seen anyone in the market make,” Lucas said. “I don’t know where these people get their facts from, to me it’s absolutely mind-boggling.”

Sniping between the companies is nothing new, but Lucas said he was surprised at the form Ellison’s barbs took at this year’s conference.

“It wasn’t even the normal sort of half-truth. It was this “are you kidding me?” kind of a statement,” he said.

Check in on our guide page for more coverage of Oracle OpenWorld and JavaOne.

Follow Adam Riglian on Twitter @AdamRiglian

September 30, 2012  9:27 PM

Recapping the OpenWorld keynote

Adam Riglian Profile: Adam Riglian

September 24, 2012  12:14 PM

Recapping Dreamforce 2012

Adam Riglian Profile: Adam Riglian

September 19, 2012  12:06 PM

Thoughts on Dreamforce Day 1

Adam Riglian Profile: Adam Riglian

The first day of Dreamforce 2012 was the tempest before the storm of announcements and hype that tend to go hand-in-hand with a keynote address.

Laid back and relaxed, Tuesday’s speeches and keynotes were directed more at partners and users than press and analysts. (Editor’s note: It’s difficult to write a story when MC Hammer is on stage at Dreamforce.)

There was still a lot to learn from yesterday’s sessions, especially during the AppExchange partner keynote. The AppExchange is eventually expected to account for 30% of Salesforce’s business and the message that apps on the exchange need to connect with one another came across clear.

Esteban Kolsky, founder of strategy firm ThinkJar LLC, raised the interesting point on Twitter that Salesforce’s messaging up front is about social enterprise, but that Tuesday’s speech was more about connected enterprise. For his money, he’d rather just have them say collaborative enterprise.

IDC analyst Alys Woodward also took to Twitter, recognizing that the “I” word — which no one at the keynote used — is critical to a connected app vision. That word is integration, and she sees it as crucial along with data architecture.

Aside from the partner keynote, it was a relatively sleepy day. A lot has been made out of the high attendance at this year’s conference, which is ranging from 85-95K depending on what you read. It feels every bit of that on Day 2, but Day 1 did not have the big event feel to it.

September 18, 2012  5:47 PM

Top Ten Tweets from Dreamforce

Adam Riglian Profile: Adam Riglian

September 14, 2012  10:35 AM

What the heck are people doing on business trips?

Adam Riglian Profile: Adam Riglian

Ever wonder what happens to loved ones on business trips? New survey data suggests stopping — it’s nothing good.

ON24, a San Francisco-based virtual events company, sponsored research with Harris Poll that suggests a large percentage of business travelers would rather stay home — even if some are having a little too much fun on the road.

“We’ve seen dislike for business travel escalate and in our last study, it was well over 90%,” said Tricia Heinrich, director of strategic communications at ON24. “What we uncovered is this infringement on personal lives. That is what has underlined this dislike of business travel.”

The wide majority of respondents, 85%, felt that work was a major infringement on personal time, while 91% said that spending too much time away from home because of work could have serious consequences.

Some of those consequences might relate to the bad behavior respondents reported engaging in on the road. Drinking too much alcohol was the most common vice with 71% of respondents pleading guilty. Others ate fatty foods (53%), spent too much money (54%), gave up on exercise (43%) or went to bed too late (42%).

Those really in trouble were the 66% that reported cheating on a spouse and the 31% who said they engaged in illicit drug use on the road. ON24 has compiled a website letting weary travelers contribute horror stories from the road.

ON24’s software aims to eliminate a lot of these problems with virtual events and webcasting. The company’s service is used for company meetings, user conferences and training.

“People just want more control over their schedule and their life, they hate to waste time, everybody is busy. It’s just more convenient to do many things online,” Heinrich said. “We’re not advocating the replacement of all face-to-face meetings, it’s just what make sense for your audience and your objective.”

Let these stats serve as a warning to anyone attending Dreamforce, OpenWorld or a Gartner Symposium.And if you can’t make it to Dreamforce, follow our live coverage at SearchCloudApplications.com.

August 7, 2012  12:49 PM

Craigslist tightens data spigot

Adam Riglian Profile: Adam Riglian

Craigslist is turning off the data taps, a potentially foreboding sign for cloud and mobile app developers.

The Verge’s Louis Goddard reports that the online classifieds giant has informed search engines that it no longer wants its posts to be indexed. That decision blocks the 3Taps API and damages PadMapper, the popular consumer apartment rental site that displays Craigslist postings on Google Maps.

Goddard adds that Craigslist has been in court with both PadMapper and 3Taps, seeking to bar both from using Craigslist postings for their own purposes. PadMapper will now try and gather its own listings through PadLister, but it’s unclear whether the new service will be able to step in and fill Craigslist’s role.

The unanimous opinion in the blogs is that Craigslist is severely injuring itself. It doesn’t take an expert to explain that site traffic will go down without Google and Bing. Craigslist also loses any traffic that was generated by PadMapper users coming to Craigslist to explore listings further.

The question for developers becomes – if Craigslist is willing to cripple itself to shutoff third-party apps, will others be willing to do the same?

Twitter’s director of consumer products, Michael Sippey, wrote a letter that had developer’s panicking about the prospect of increasingly stringent API rules back in June. Mike Isaac of AllThingsD explained that the changes are likely designed to create a more “consistent Twitter experience for every user.”

But, he also rightfully noted that yes, minor changes to Twitter’s guidelines could drastically affect thousands of apps and the people who make their living building them.

There’s no clear answer as to what is going to happen next, but the app economy that relies on data passing through open APIs is only as lively as the APIs are open. It is seemingly irrational for the data providers to want to hurt the third-party developers that build off of their services, but as the Craigslist case shows, rationality doesn’t always win out.

August 6, 2012  1:21 PM

Debate over OAuth 2.0 rages on

Adam Riglian Profile: Adam Riglian

The Internet Engineering Task Force’s Vancouver meeting didn’t exactly have reporters scrambling for their notebooks, but the news that came out of the six-day event that ended Friday has had bloggers clacking keys across the web.

The specs for OAuth 2.0, the protocol for token-based authentication that has gained wide acceptance among web developers, were being debated at the conference and the direction of that debate agitated the protocol’s original author, Eran Hammer, to the point where he stormed out. The colorful language he used to describe the process belied the mundaneness of the standardization process.

Hammer took issue with the direction OAuth 2.0 was taking, saying it was on “the road to Hell.” While he went biblical, others affected by the process took a more measured approach.

Scott Morrison pegged Hammer’s pains as being a classic example of the founder’s problem. The CTO of Vancouver-based API management company Layer7, Morrison praised Hammer for his problem-solving with OAuth 1.0, but added that other people were bound to come into the process and expand it.

“Because it suddenly became so important and people realized it could be much more than the original vision, it moved up into the sort of old-style formalization,” Morrison said. “That’s a huge change, that’s a cultural change and I think that’s where the problem really came about.”

Morrison describes the changing world of standardization and the influence of grassroots developers on it. He said OAuth was the best example of developers getting together and solving a problem independent of vendors, analysts and standards groups.

Not all the pains are cultural. Among the critical changes in OAuth 2.0 is a switch from digital signatures to secure sockets layer (SSLs) in securing tokens. Morrison believes that the change was made because SSL is much simpler and is the standard for securing things like credit card transactions, something that would be familiar to developer’s with a more basic skill set.

“In some respects, it’s maybe not as pure or perfect a solution as using digital signatures, but it gets you there in the end,” Morrison said.

While it may not be as perfect, Morrison believes that SSL will ultimately lead to better security because it is simpler. He said the risk of developer mistakes in more complicated security procedures is higher than any problems with SSL.

Morrison still thinks there’s value in OAuth 2.0 and that developers using it aren’t on a path to damnation. But, he would like to see a simpler specification put out so that everyone can move forward.

“My head starts to spin when I start to read the OAuth 2.0 specs,” he said. “It’s up to all of us in the community to communicate what it’s about and build the infrastructure around it to make it easier to use.”

– @AdamRiglian

July 23, 2012  3:03 PM

New application performance management tools eye SaaS, Cloud usage, other metrics

Adam Riglian Profile: Adam Riglian

The cloud applications tide has been rising for some time and it’s beginning to raise the boats in a spinoff IT sector – cloud application performance management.

A slew of vendors are popping up offering services to monitor EC2 spending, bandwidth, network performance, application performance and other advanced metrics. AppNeta, a Boston-based company located in the city’s growing “Innovation District,” is one of those vendors. Today, it released AppView Web, an addition to its PathView Cloud platform that will monitor app performance on the public cloud and offer insight into an apps performance over a network.

CEO Jim Melvin sees AppNeta as a way for users to increase the reliability of public cloud applications. He describes a common occurrence in IT departments – Salesforce.com is running slow in the office, IT calls Salesforce to ask why and they tell them that everything is running normally in the Salesforce data center. Melvin says this constitutes a typical call to AppNeta, which issues automated responses to IT through alerts, dashboards and reports that explain when the problem is on their side of the fence.

“If companies are looking to move towards public web applications, like Salesforce, like Google Docs, like a backup system like a mail system, they cannot take the plunge without some level of assurance, and that’s what we offer,” Melvin said.

Public clouds do have failures, as evidenced by recent outages in Amazon and Salesforce, but Melvin said that downtime in the office is often caused by network glitches or by inefficient use of resources. He describes two common examples – quality of service errors and BYOD.

Quality of service describes the way applications get prioritized on the network. Melvin says it is relatively common for a router to go down and be brought back up without anyone noticing, but that when new routers come online, they aren’t wired to respect quality of service, which creates a logjam.

The BYOD era adds an extra layer of confusion to the process. Anyone firing up their iPad in the office may inadvertently begin synching all their applications, from work-related apps to iTunes, soaking up a huge amount of bandwidth that takes away from apps in the cloud.

When asked what percentage of problems AppNeta respond to are caused by human error, Melvin estimated close to 90%.

“IT infrastructures are just incredibly resilient, they almost never completely fail because they are so dynamic,” Melvin said.

The market for performance management appears to be growing based on all the product news that has come out on an almost daily basis. Riverbed Technology announced a product upgrade that adds capabilities around quality of service today.

For more on application performance management (APM), check out contributor Crystal Bedell’s story on SearchSoftwareQuality.com.

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