The past fews weeks, I have been consumed with weekly visits to the Bay Area to speak at SaaScon, moderate tracks at Under the Radar and co-host the AlwaysOn OnDemand conference, as well as numerous on-site client meetings. In between, I also had the privilege of presenting a kickoff keynote presentation at a VIP dinner for the State of the Cloud conference in Boston.
My hectic travel schedule has given me little time to comment on a variety of industry announcements which have occurred during this period. So, here’s my ‘lightening round’ assessment of some of the more significant events worth noting,
Cloud Conference Observations
SaaScon: When was the last time you heard CIOs talk about being heroes in their organizations? Well, the CIOs who spoke at SaaScon repeatedly described how the SaaS solutions which they’re implementing in their organizations are generating an overwhelmingly positive response from their end-users and corporate executives. And, they admitted that this has made their jobs gratifying again.
Under the Radar: This was a terrific day of company presentations and American Idol-style judging sessions aimed at uncovering the next hot Cloud companies. Most of the presenters won’t become major players, but many may be acquired by bigger companies. While the remainder will die on the vine because of poorly conceived solutions or go-to-market strategies.
AlwaysOn OnDemand: It was a privilege to work with Tony Perkins and his staff to organize and co-host this first-time event. Tony is a living legend in the tech industry because of his association with the Red Herring publication and his very influential conference business. The AlwaysOn events have become important meetingplaces for industry leaders, investors and aspiring companies. The content of the OnDemand conference was also first-rate as you can see in the online videos.
State of the Cloud: What happens when a major financial institution decides that it wants to better understand the rapidly evolving cloud computing marketplace? Well, in the case of Fidelity Investments, they decided to put together a first-class conference aimed at top-level enterprise decision-makers. And, because of Fidelity’s tremendous influence, they were able to bring together a very impressive list of speakers and sponsors to examine various aspects of the cloud computing environment.
VMforce: Salesforce.com’s (NYSE:CRM) new alliance with VMware (NYSE:VMW) might seem like a minor event for the casual observer who has yet to fully grasp the strategic importance of the company’s Force.com platform. However, Salesforce.com’s long-term success is predicated on building a large and loyal cadre of software developers on its Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS). While it has had some initial success, its growth as been stymied in part because of the proprietary nature of its development language. VMforce opens Force.com up to a vast community of Java developers and alleviates much of the concern about vendor lock-in. I expect Salesforce.com to reach out to other important development communities to encourage even broader acceptance of its PaaS capabilities, especially as it begins to feel competitive pressure from Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) Azure.
IT Service Management Wars: One of the key battlefields in 2010 which I identified at the beginning of the year is SaaS-based IT service management (ITSM). The latest entrant into this space is BMC (NASDAQ:BMC) which unveiled a new version of its Remedy solution built on Salesforce.com’s Force.com platform. BMC’s new offering follows Nimsoft’s release of an on-demand version of its solution shortly after its acquisition by CA (NASDAQ:CA) was announced. You can expect plenty of additional acquisitions in this market segment as IT organizations become increasingly receptive to SaaS alternatives to traditional, on-premise management systems.
Cloud-Oriented Application Monitoring and Management: Now that SaaS solutions are becoming mainstream and more enterprises and ISVs are leveraging PaaS and Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) to develop and deliver applications, the new battlefield is Application Monitoring and Management. I’ve not only be deluged by a continuous stream of briefings from start-ups in this segments, but also had the pleasure of moderating the Application Management track of the Under the Radar conference where some of the hottest new players in this segment showed their wares. While the fundamental value proposition of these companies is compelling, I expect many of them to struggle to convince corporate decision-makers, as well as service providers, that their solutions are necessary to optimize the performance of their cloud-based applications and operations as opposed to ‘nice to have’. So, you can expect a flurry of quick acquisitions and then a prolonged series of company failures.
Banks to build their own cloud-based global banking infrastructure and network - Is this a new cloud or the realization of the old ‘extranet’ idea?
SaaS-querade: When On-Premise Vendors Try to Pass as SaaS Vendors - This column echoes the talks I give about why SaaS is different than hosting and the old ASP model.
The Next Crisis For Customer Satisfaction - This column challenges CIOs and business decision-makers to understand how enterprise applications must change to better serve end-users and achieve their corporate objectives. Salesforce.com Chatter is an example of where the world must go.
Finally, check out my new online presentation entitled, “Will SaaS and Cloud Computing Dis-Intermediate the Channel?”