Archive for April, 2007

Cloud Computing Panel at TiE: Amazon, where are my candies?

Wednesday, April 18th, 2007

I was in the audience for a panel discussion on Cloud Computing hosted by TiE. The panel was moderated by Nimish Gupta of SAP and had people from Amazon WebServices, Google, Opus Capital, and SAP. The interesting thing to watch was how the panel agreed to disagree on the benefits/definition of Cloud Computing. Pavni Diwanji from Google mentioned that it’s the tools on Google Apps and the API which matters to the developers.
Dan Avida, a VC from Opus, seemed to have innate knowledge about EC2 and mentioned that there are interesting opportunities waiting to be tapped for EC2. It may be interesting to look into those areas.
According to Vishal Sikka, CTO of SAP:

Cloud computing is suitable for smaller applications but not for large applications like SAP.

Adam Selipsky who represented Amazon agreed with that statement and said the current shape of Amazon EC2 & S3 is the first cut and is still in limited private beta. He further mentioned that Amazon’s prime focus is on stability of the platform and they haven’t added any major feature on EC2 and S3 in last 12 months.
On a question about competition for EC2, he joked, “There are rumors that the company on my left (referring to Google, as Pavni Diwanji of Google Apps was seated there) is working on something.” He went serious and said that educating developers to jump onto EC2 is the hardest part and he would love to have some competition so that they could spend millions of dollars in educating the customers.
On being asked whether Amazon is just utilizing the over capacity available in their data centers, Adam responded, “Amazon has invested around $2b for Amazon WebServices including EC2 and S3 and are fully committed.”
I took my turn from the audience and mentioned that using S3 as a natively mounted filesytem is a limitation on EC2 and asked about the oft-requested feature to support large databases on EC2. Adam quipped that he does not want to commit on a date but they are working on it. Cool.
On a side note: Adam and his team (couple of his colleagues in the audience) were pitching people to sign-up with their beta program at the venue but did not bring any candies for existing customers like me. Too bad! After the meeting I even sold the idea of using EC2 to a gentleman who was still kicking tires. Where’s my referral fee? 🙂

Why Web 2.0? Why now?

Sunday, April 15th, 2007

A friend-of-a-friend (“SJ”) and I were talking about Web 2.0 as part of his research for a major London based VC. He asked me, “Why Web 2.0? And Why now?” In large part for Silicon Valley geeks, Web 2.0 is nothing new and it’s an old topic. Guess what, rest of the world and the enterprise are waking up to Web 2.0 now.
Here’s a summary of what I explained to him:
1. Web 2.0 is an attempt to fulfill the promises made during the Web 1.0 days. Office on the web, online calendar, utility Computing for the masses, content sharing, collaboration, anywhere/anytime on-demand storage, one-click publishing, etc. are some of the examples, where we heard lot of chatter during the late 90s but we are seeing real applications only now.
2. Growth of user-created content. Simply put, blogs and wikis are allowing non-geek crowd to participate in the 2-way web. The surge of tools, commoditization of CMS, 1-click publishing and new methods of monetization are pushing the limits and expectations of both consumers and innovative startups.
3. Money is no longer just waiting on the sidelines (it has started talking lately). Web 1.0 bust is now digested and pooped from our intestines. At a recent New Tech Meetup in Palo Alto, I overheard couple of angel investors introducing themselves to the companies demoing over there.
4. Browser as a platform has matured. I gave him a very simple example, of rectangles with smooth/rounded edges rendered on web pages. During the 1.0 days it was quite a hack doing that using tables and images. In 2.0, it is done by a few lines of CSS. And then there is AJAX, which has made the browser a much more mature platform.
All of the 4 are the necessary ingredients in that order of decreasing priority, for making Web 2.0 happen. More than that and contrary to a popular notion, Web 2.0 is not just about the advancements of browser as a platform, or social networking at large, or raw bandwidth/storage for video at cheap prices, or just the sheer volume of user-created content, but it’s the ideas around simple applications which are now being done right (of course, technology has helped). It’s the simple applications which everybody wanted to reduce their drudgery while working with computing devices. That’s why it’s happening now and has a new version number.

Apple’s Next Gig: A Digital Camera?

Wednesday, April 11th, 2007

Josh Kopelman points to Kodak’s Winds of Change video which got released onto YouTube. While I was watching this video, I was also watching Apple’s stock price. This got me thinking. What would be Apple’s next gig. An iCam? A Digital Camera from Apple is long due.
Interestingly enough, Apple had a digital camera up its sleeves, which went by the name QuickTake and was discontinued when Steve Jobs took the helm in 1997.
The digital camera vendors shipped 100m units in 2006 and the market is growing at 15% with total sales being pegged at $25 billion. With Apple’s brand name and possible integration with it’s suite of desktop authoring tools like iLife and Aperture, it can be easily speculated to capture 2% – 5% of market share, if and when it comes out. This would give $1 billion – $2 billion in additional sales. It would also boost the sales of Apple’s software products.
Compare this with iPhone; it is aiming at 1% of the total 1 billion unit sales of the $115 billion Mobile phone market, which would add another $2b – $5b in revenues in next few years.
Makes sense? Eh, I can speculate at least. Remember, iPod came out in a crowded MP3 Player market, which was considered “mature” 5 years ago.
Wikipedia:Apple QuickTake