Monday, January 21, 2008

Computing in the Cloud at Princeton U

I participated on a Panel at Princeton University last week, as part of the "Computing in the Cloud" workshop, hosted by the Center for Information Technology Policy. Definitely a valuable experience for me... I met great people and learned from other panelists and participants. The panel I was on - moderated by Andrea LaPaugh and called "What's Next", included Reihan Salam and Jesse Robbins - both of whom are great story tellers and brought completely different perspectives to the subject.

Overall, panelists and attendees of the workshop conveyed a general net positive attitude, balanced with useful caution regarding privacy and security, with strong hope that Cloud Computing (should I be capitalizing that?) will bring increased transparency to such things as government collected information. As in most areas of new technology ("new" is a relative term), there are some valuable pessimistic views which keep people like me - call me a pragmatic optimist - deeply appreciating the skills of security and legal specialists who act as the sherpas (lower-case 's') in their respective mountain ranges (or jungles). I personally still have a strong view that "I trust the cloud more than my laptop" - to sum it up as simply as I can. You can watch the video of our specific panel (that one alone is 90 minutes - and all the others are also posted thanks to the UChannel). I also thought it might be useful to post the notes I put together before the panel, to organize some of my thoughts (opinions) about Cloud Computing...
(click here for the whole post, including my pre-panel notes)
My notes used at the panel:
  • Computing in the Cloud - "software and data being served from the web" - will continue to grow and will be the norm. The benefits for vendors and customers simply outweigh the risks
    • Software distribution is an obvious win. Ridding the distribution process of physical delivery gives:
      • higher margin for the vendors
      • lower prices for the customers
      • better service for customers - bug fixes, security issues, new features can all be delivered to customers faster, since there's less motivation to batch these up into the next costly snail-mailing.
      • better products - similar to the above, this gives good developers the ability to respond to user feedback and deliver improvements continuously.
      • happier developers (working remotely and getting quick feedback from real users)

    • NOTE: I have an XO from OLPC (OLP2C - one laptop per 2 children, soon to be OLP3C, once the little one notices)... that further convinced me, seeing how this super-light technology gave me basically everything I needed since all I needed was the browser (notwithstanding the slow speed or issues with that specific browser)

  • Some are still betting on desktop-to-cloud synch products - like SoonR bought by Cisco (mobile access to your desktop).

  • I've learned to really hate explicit SAVING of my desktop stuff... Somehow, easy autosaving came along with the web products I use.

  • Capitalism will drive "good" products (doing the right thing if people demand it)...with companies meeting the needs of other companies and individual customers... INCLUDING all the new challenges
    • privacy, security, safety
    • relevance, integration, convenience

  • Collaboration will be an expected feature
    • so much of what we create is intended to share...
    • existing products and services take on new value with collaboration...
    • Creating content TOGETHER, reviewing expenses TOGETHER, planning projects TOGETHER

  • MICRO-INNOVATION will grow fast as it becomes more achievable - can you say "Gadgets!" ?
    • Platforms, tools, delivery
    • "pay-as-you-go" Operations and commerce
    • Commoditized services make operating a micro-innovation more viable... for example, legal agreements, support, etc.

  • CONTENT value with further differentiate:
    • Original, creative, popular content gets market-driven value assigned, while repetitive, derivative content gets super-commoditized

  • Simpler integration / commerce / delivery will give better channels to creative talent, allowing them to:
    • easily syndicate
    • easily gain attribution (back to their service/site)
    • easily monetize
    • gain celebrity status (e.g. Youtube publishers)

  • Collaboration brings new productivity - and new issues.... (see "issues" section)

  • INTEGRATION between services will increase...
    • Integration can be more seamless, bringing customers to even the smallest granular service.
    • Access to customers / markets
    • Micro-Innovation becomes profitable - with canned legal process, pre-defined service delivery and support, etc...
    • GADGETS become a platform not only for micro-innovation, but for integration of services.
    • Web Services finally become a reality.

  • Service Level Agreements (SLAs) for web services and data will become more important, but they will be simplified, standardized and improved - driven by the Service Integration Supply Chain (below) and the need for simplified "service commerce" (the buying/selling of services).

  • A new "service-integration-supply-chain" exists and will expand:

    > Containers for gadgets > platform for gadget development > gadget types (content free) > content-relevant gadget instances

  • Collaboration and aggregation of services will result in derivative (sometimes larger) products/services

  • Do-It-Yourself web creation tools will be improved - to meet new(ish) demand.
    • the tools are too disparate and hard to find, and still hard to use

  • Great Development tools - still an opportunity, since new components are available for integration (and new methods)... supporting micro-development and distribution

  • Great User-Interaction design (UX) still wins
    • Usability and designs really do improve applications and the web overall

  • Semantic Web-like Structure for much more interesting products
    • we used to cal it a "data model"
    • Great contribution products (community tagging) will drive this...

  • Ubiquitous Identification - let me be me wherever i go... without worry.... (OpenID?)

  • Increase in Premium Services model - advertising has been over-used by non-relevant publishers
    - Maybe even a Premium "absolutely private" web

ISSUES LIKELY TO OCCUR - which, themselves, drive opportunities...
  • Ownership and control of Content:
    • Collaboration:
      • who owns that document which 3 people collaborated to create?
      • 3 people collaborate - 1 leaves and "shuts off access"...

    • Integration:
      • Content from one source being used in another service - how to split value?
      • example: 1 company publishes data - 2 others use it as a basis to create their own service - who's the owner? Who gets the revenue?
      • similar issues as those in traditional media - e.g. actors or writers demanding part of the revenue stream of syndication...

Note: These were just my notes that I used for the panel, since the format included each panelist giving a 10-15 minute no-slides discussion of their views. Nothing Google in here - just some semi-random personal views and not organized into a standalone presentation.

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