Cloud

Sun Engineers – I Know Where The Rock Star Jobs In SaaS Are!

8 May , 2008  

Rock_starWith the eminent round of additional layoffs coming at Sun, there have to besome real rock stars out their looking for their next move. So… if you are arock star pre-sales engineer who knows how to sell solutions and would like toget into the exploding SaaS market… or you are a top QA engineer wholoves testing, automation, and digging out the toughest to find bugs… you oweit to yourself to check out these open positions at my new company, AbsolutePerformance.

Send your information to jobs@absolute-performance.com. Tell ’em you read about it on The Converging Network blog.

Rock On!

Cloud

Get Ready For XaaS Everywhere

7 May , 2008  

XaasWith the soaring interest in Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), we are alreadyseeing the same metaphor used for other service offerings.Platform-as-a-Service, or PaaS, is becoming a common place term. Now I’ve alsoseen IaaS, or Infrastructure-as-a-Service. As I like to say, no good idea goesun-copied. What that means is we should all expect to be overrun by the use ofXaaS terms, where X equals whatever word or phrase any vendor, analyst ormarketer chooses to promote their product or service. If Sausage-as-a-Servicewill help sell more processed meats, you can bet someone will jump on thebandwagon and leverage XaaS to their benefit.

If imitation (being copied) is the most sincere form of flattery, then I’dsay SaaS is gaining enough traction that others are coping the XaaS term fortheir use. But we shouldn’t forget, what this all really means to us is thatsoftware, infrastructure, data, etc., etc,. are all moving into the cloud, beingoffered as a service.

So if anyone needs any Blogging-as-a-Service, you know where to contact me.:)

Cloud, Security

Security Industry Missing Ride On The Cloud

10 Apr , 2008  

CloudOne of the things I was interested to investigate at this week’s RSAconference was whether SaaS and cloud services (compute, storage, etc.) hadentered into the horizon of the security market. The answer is easy. NO. Noteven close. Security doesn’t get where the software market is headed and we needto get after it now.

There’s two perspectives to assess this from; What are security vendors doingto build products for the On Demand, SaaS and cloud computing world we arerapidly moving into? And, are security vendors moving into offerings based inthe cloud themselves? Again, with a very few exceptions this isn’t somethingthat even appears on the radar screen of RSA exhibitors.

Regarding the first question, the themes of RSA is still very much in theworld of data protection, data lose prevention, network access control, USBstorage containment, and infatuation with the latest 10 gigabit doodad appliancebox.  Maybe its too early for security in the cloud to be the issue of the day -security in the virtualized world isn’t even a topic for conversation. At leasta few smart people like The Hoff are playing virtualization MythBuster, keeping ushonest about what challenges and interesting problems need to be solved asvirtualization continues its march into data centers, storage and applications.

How about those offering their security wares via the cloud? Clearly Qualyssuffered the arrows of being an early SaaS security vendor but crazy frenchman Philippe Courtotis still riding high knowing the SaaS market is doing well within other segmentsof IT and security will eventually get there. But they are still pretty much a lone SaaS delivered security player.Another company doing SaaS delivered security products is Alertlogic, providing logmanagement, analysis, and compliance software On Demand. I spent some time withAlertlogic CTO Misha Govshteyn, someone who has been through the transition toSaaS and learned the lessons needed to scale a multi-tenant product. (Misha’s asmart guy, btw. You sooooo need to start blogging dude!)

I think Misha’s approach also shows some insight into where we’ll see SaaSenter into security – in the mid-enterprise and SME markets. Those are buyerswho don’t necessarily have access to full time security, storage or otherspecialized resources. They also are more accepting and can get over theperceived privacy concerns that surface when considering an On Demand service,especially private companies who don’t fall under SOX compliance. I stillrecall selling against Qualys and pushing the issue of your vulnerability databeing stored in the cloud – many saw the advantages and convenience from an OnDemand offering, and for yet many others it was a no-op. But mid-enterprise andSME’s adoption of On Demand software solutions could show us this is wheresecurity will make it’s first SaaS market beachhead.

As security professionals, we can’t wait for the market and vendors to catchup. We need to be creating the security dialog and debates about virtualization, on demand and cloudbased services. While Microsoft may be trumpeting the call of End-To-End Trust,trying to get the other elephants to tap dance with them, we’ve got to working ahead of the curve onthe tough problems, vocalizing the security needs while services are being created and moving intothe cloud, not after. I’m glad that Hoff, Misha and others are thinking ahead of thecurve.

Blog, Cloud, Microsoft, Podcasts

Trying out new”micro-podcast”format

4 Mar , 2008  

MicropodcastI know that not everyone who reads blogs also likes to listen to podcasts, and visa versa. So I decided to try something different and see how readers and listeners like it. I call it a "micro-podcast". (Let me know if you think of a better name.)

Last week while at the SaaS Summit conference in San Francisco, I interviewed Michael van Dijken, head of marketing Microsoft’s efforts to support the hosting and SaaS software market segments. I posted the interview with Microsoft’s van Dijken up on my Network World Converging On Microsoft blog using this new format. The interview was recorded with my micro-recorder podcast unit.

What I’ve done is break up the interview recording into snippets, or micro-podcasts, wrapped in blog narrative with my lead in and comments for each portions of the interview. The idea is just to listen to the parts of the recording you want to hear, rather than listen through the entire recording just to get to the topic you’re interested in. And, if you wish to hear the full, unedited interview recording, just go to the bottom of the blog post and listen to the full interview instead of the broken up segments.

If you have a moment to check it out, please do so and let me know your feedback about this idea. Do you like it? Is it easier to read and listen to? Does that format work for you? What suggestions do you have for improving it?

Let me know your thoughts. Thanks.

Cloud

VC panel about funding SaaS companies in today’s market

3 Mar , 2008  

While attending the 2008 SaaS Summit last week, I was fortunate to listen in on a panel discussing venture funding of SaaS companies in today’s market. The panel had a mix of early stage, mid and corporate, corporate investors and a view from the public markets perspective.

Panel: Ann Winblad, Partner – Hummer Winblad Venture Partners, Jason Maynard, Research Analyst – Credit Suisse First Boston, Jason Green, General Partner – Emergence Capital Partners, and Jon Krause, Investment Manager, Intel Capital. Moderator: Treb Ryan, CEO, Opsource.

Several things stuck with me from the panel discussion. First is the divergence of business funding models that have been funded in the current and past years. SaaS isn’t just about funding investments of $50m, $75m or $100m in capital mega startup or roll up companies. Several companies were mentioned who bootstrapped, acquired a bevy of good customers, and then seek capital to increase growth. These aren’t the days of "build it and they will come". SaaS and On Demand software enables companies to get products to market with fewer barriers, benefit from customer and market feedback, to more quickly prove out their business model, or at least spend less money doing so.

Another common theme was the patience that investors must have these days. Few startups are going to go from series A to a buyout or IPO in 3 years or so. Most take much longer for a liquidity event. Venture cycles are running 6.7 for a company IPO, and 5 years for a company is acquired, according to Ann Winbald, of Hummer Winblad. Though the VCs know this, most entrepreneurs are still learning that these timeframes are typical, not the quick pops during the ’90s bubble.

A few other themes resonated with me. The importance of partners, and extending your reach through those partners, sales organization, branding and technology. My experience is that product managers, CTOs and product developers often overlook opportunities for rebranding and OEM products early in their development. I know I’ve been guilty of that lesson myself, and it’s something I put a lot more emphasis on in the companies I work with today.

The other was the investment in the front end of the business that is necessary, sales and marketing. Some of the panel members felt it should be a 1:1 ratio, $1 of sales and market for every $1 of the most recent quarter of revenue. That’s sounds like the spend of one of those capital intensive mega companies and seems pretty heavy to me, but I do believe you’ve got invest significant dollars in the front end. Products rarely market or sell themselves, and when they do, no one knew it would happen up front — I’m saying they are lucking more often than smart. So don’t put too much faith in luck and invest in the business.

Is your product aspirin or vitamins (metaphorically)? That’s one prescription for telling how important your product or service is to the customer. How sticky is what you provide your customers and could they walk away during a downturn of the economy. That was some other sage advice from Ann, who talked about how they evaluate the customer portfolio of companies they consider for investment.

Note: I’m requesting permission to post the mp3 recording of the panel discussion. Stay tuned.

 

Cloud, Microsoft

SaaS Summit a Success!

3 Mar , 2008  

Last week’s SaaS Summit in San Francisco was a resounding success on multiple fronts. The conference was very well attended (about 600 or more attendees.) I was able to score interviews with Microsoft’s Michael van Dijken, Lead Marketing Manager for Microsoft’s hosting and communications sector, and with Treb Ryan, CEO of Opsource, who put on the SaaS event. I also attended a very interesting and very informative VC panel on funding companies in the SaaS space (I’ll put up a recording later), and the Absolute Performance showing at the conference went over very well.

I’ll be blogging some more about the event, including putting up some of the interviews and recordings, in separate blog posts on The Converging Network and on my Network World Converging On Microsoft blog. Keep an eye out for more posts in the next couple of days.

Cloud

This Week – SaaS Summit

25 Feb , 2008  

I’ll be participating in the SaaS Summit this week in San Francisco. If you follow my blog you know that I recently joined up as the CTO at Absolute Performance, a performance management On Demand software company in Boulder, CO. I’m looking forward to the conference, especially some of the networking opportunities including meeting up again with Jeff Kaplan of THINKstrategies who recently appeared on my Network World Converging On Microsoft podcast, the Living In A SaaS World episode.

On Demand is fascinating because it encompasses product and software development, security, virtualization, and web applications — all the things I really enjoy working on. I’m fortunately to work with some very talented people including those who take care of the operations side of our On Demand software business, allowing me to focus on helping create great products. There are so many technologies available now to create robust, dynamic  web-based applications and my company has a very scalable and deep instrumentation architecture for SaaS delivered applications. That’s a great technology base and platform to build upon as the company moves forward.

If you are in the San Francisco Union Square area this week and would like to stop by or get together, feel free to drop me a line.

Cloud, Microsoft, Podcasts

COM Podcast #2 – Jeff Kaplan talks SaaS

30 Jan , 2008  

Compodcast_logoEpisode 2 Living In A SaaS World of the Converging On Microsoft Podcast is up and available.

This week former Meta analyst and SaaS On Demand software industry thought leader Jeff Kaplan joins me to talk about Software as a Service, SaaS. Jeff is managing director of THINKstrategies, a consulting firm working with software companies, investors and SaaS end user companies.

Jeff_kaplanDuring the interview, Jeff jumps right into why SaaS has so quickly become a popular mode of buying software, how Microsoft is "delicately" going about Software plus Services so as not to disrupt current embedded software revenues and their huge channel, and new efforts by SaaS companies directing SaaS at IT.

Most of us are familiar with SaaS companies like Qualys and Salesforce.com but the industry is much broader than those two examples. Gartner estimates that 25% of new software sales will be SaaS by 2011. I recently announced my own jump into the world of SaaS by joining Boulder based SaaS On Demand software and enablement company Absolute Performance, Inc. On Demand software, virtualization, and utility computing are making profound changes in the way our industry is operating and I’m going to continue doing my part to make it all happen!

If you are interested in finding out more, Jeff has some resources on his  site you might find helpful, including SaaS Showplace , Managed Services Showplace   and Jeff’s blog ThinkITservices.com.

If you have any questions, ideas, feedback or suggestions about the Converging On Microsoft Podcast, please send me email at podcast@mitchellashley.com. Thanks for listening.

Download MP3 fileSubscribe to COM Podcast RSS feed

Credits: Voice over by Jessica Freemann, music by Michael Reese

Cloud, Podcasts, Security

Podcast #52 – Scott Converse announces Medioh

29 Jan , 2008  

Microphone

Alan was in town last week for us to record episode 52 of the SSAATY podcast.After some dinner at CPK in Boulder CO, we got together at Scott Converse’recording studio down the street.

Not only is Scott the CEO of ClickCaster where we host the SSAATY podcast,Scott is our podcast guest on this rollicking, in-studio edition where we havelots of fun doing our usual shtick. It’s a lot more fun doing the podcast whenAlan and I are in the same city and I think that will come across pretty clearlyas you listen in to our madness.

I guess the podcast is the "in place" announce career moves and company launches –During the interview, Scott tells us about his exciting new Internet TVventure Medioh! I also announce my joining Absolute PerformanceInc. as CTO, a rockin’ SaaS On Demand software and enablement company based inBoulder.

In addition to talking shop about Medioh and Absolute Performance, Alan and I cover theacquisition mania of Sun / MySQL, Oracle / BEA and VMware / Thinstall, Vernier’s inevitable plummet into thesun, and recent announcements of multi-gigabit IPS products.

Welcome me in congratulating Scott Converse on his launch of Medioh. Enjoy the podcast and feel free to drop us any suggestions or questions at podcast@stillsecure.com.

P.S. Is it just me or does Scott have a slight resemblance, albeit younger, to one of myfavorite actors Charles Durning? Maybe next podcast we’ll have Scott announce us as the Soggy Bottom Boys (O Brother, Where Art Thou?).Scott_converse_2

Charles_durning_2

Icon_enclosure_music_7mp3 file

Cloud

Early look at Oracle CRM On Demand – Page out of Apple’s book

10 Nov , 2007  

For those of you interested in CRM, social networking, product design, or On Demand SaaS applications… I put up a post on NetworkWorld about the preview I saw on Friday of Oracle’s CRM On Demand. It’s being announced at Oracle OpenWorld next week in San Francisco.

See my NetworkWorld blog post here.