Friday, May 22, 2009

Who the heck can really keep it simple?

The value of any product can be estimated right away you start using it. I mean if there is no need to beat up your head with how to get it off the ground and make it work for you this won’t even come into question.

This is exactly the case.

The moment I had Flip MinoHD camera in my hand was one of those when you just take off your hat to the developers that really took a good care of the simplicity, as well as quality of the product. Well done guys!

What do we have with web-based solutions? The more I am trying to delve deeply into the structure of these systems, the clearer it gets so few at least try to make and keep it really simple for users. When it’s about solving real life issues I’d hardly name at least any vendor that would have any reason to say come on, we can really do that for you, keeping it SIMPLE!



  1. Usability? Interoperability? I'll Pass on PAAS. It's a great concpet, and we will see more and better, but the state of the industry is very immature.

    Also, don't ask any newborn PAAS company what their contingency plans are, or how much capital buffer they have escrowed for continued operations in the case of partnership or investor disputes.

    Oh, your PAAS provider is off-line, and no explanation? As Monty Python says, "sorry, sorry'.

  2. First, all credit to Jane for doing so many real world uses cases on the various offerings. Putting good research out there without jumping to broad conclusions is actually helpful to people who need to build new web apps.

    The fear mongering about SaaS and PaaS on contingency, reliability, and availability is the software industry equivalent of the 'Obama is not a USA citizen' rumor. First, we have a known requirements hierarchy in major network systems in this area. At the top we have applications that process high value transactions. At the bottom we have intermittent use of convenience systems. The PaaS providers offer no cost trials on local or national infrastructure providers, cloud deployment of production applications with some of the best known cloud infrastructure providers, and even standard premise licensing for IT organizations that manage system and network resource availability better than the likes of Amazon, Rackspace, et al. This market will do fine never attempting a single telco style 'five 9s' availability system.

    The funniest thing about this whole availability topic for SaaS or PaaS is that there is no way to compare system availability and reliability of competitive premise based applications, and there never will be. Thus accusations and fear can find a certain amount of fertile ground while highly scaled and adequately available SaaS apps like consumer internet search and web conferencing have long since established that these fears have no merit given the actual reliability and availability requirements of the particular applications.

    Many of the PaaS providers are in business with deep pockets (Force and Quickbase), well funded by professional investors (Bungee Labs), running with established management teams (Quickbase), or conservatively managed with established customer bases (WorkXpress).

    So why the PaaS bashing?

  3. Russel,thanks for an insightful viewpoint. The thing I wanted to emphasize here is all these PaaS solutions are way to complex and cumbersome for a common user.

    And a few words about products you've mentioned:

    From the very beginning Force and QuickBase were built on their existing customer base.

    Bungee Connect is FOR developers and I think “professional investors” and great “advisory board” aren't guarantees to rely on for a successful outcome. The example of Coghead demonstrated it pretty good.

    Concerning WorkXpress I guess it's the attempt to turn the product initially developed for small customer base as custom work into PaaS.

    I have no doubt SaaS/PaaS solutions have the future. But all web-based systems are way to immature for the present time. Hope my reviews will contribute a bit to change it.

  4. I think there is some need at work here to come off as unduly harsh with strategic conclusions. These platforms are fast to learn and fast to build, with room for ease of use improvement. The customer cases and customer success speak for themselves. The systems are mature enough to create many production applications quickly. This is a fact beyond dispute.

    Carefully pointing out room for improvement is a good thing. Overly negative general conclusions do not serve the market well at all. I hope you stick to your style of careful walk through on the use cases, but avoid the temptation to play 'super Gartner' analyst about the companies and the PaaS market.

  5. I think Russell needs to wrap his mind around the consequences of having private, unaudited companies practicing the art of seduction on the mid-range business community. The PAAS, SAAS and cloud community wants the small and medium business contingencies that have tradiationally relied on incumbent architectures to throw it up and "trust them". Whether august or thinly capitalized, AWS or unkown, when the system goes down it is, "sorry, sorry, here is your $4.22 refund."

    What ever down side of self owen infrastructire, and the upside of PAAS, the current risks are unrated by professional lines underwriters - a completetly diferent scenario to the SNA hosting shops.

    It seems that Russell has never worked or is not familiar with CLOB apps (capital line of business), we are telling businesses that there is less risk of continuity dispruption with immature PAAS SAAS Cloud, than there is with owned infra.

    A regional business with a shared database appliction and 200 terminals for rapid inventory replenishement could be run on some PAAS or SAAS solutions, but would be unable to get coverage for comuting outages, the coverage does not exist, becuase the risk is unrated, and the reinsurance indistry wont touch the market.

    Why is that Russell? Because the vast majority of PAAS SAAS vendors (even the bigguns) are unavilable for audits that would determine operational liquidity and viability. To say that some are "adequately capitalized by VC" is whitewash; that is a deficit as far as business continuity is concerned, as it leaves dissolution, partnership disputes, and M&A unresolved.

    There is nothong beyond dispute here - unrated and uninsured is just that, risk that is unquantified. So I want to ask Russell, what would you say to my PCB remanufacturing client that wants to dump their servers and go pass, and then has an uncontrolled outage? Hmmmm?

    I have advised my vertical and techical market indistry clients to go slowly, and only go cloud hosted when there are adequate offsetting technical solutions to insure continutiy, or substantial availability of standard lines business continuity coverage.

    Clueless, man, an out an out shill.

  6. Jane, you wrote:
    "Concerning WorkXpress I guess it's the attempt to turn the product initially developed for small customer base as custom work into PaaS."

    That history is actually untrue. We set about 7 years ago building something that is now defined as a "PaaS"; our goal always was a tool for non-developers. Our historical customers were always serviced by having our non-programmatic professional services team build out functionality for the customer. As a result, we learned a lot of great lessons, and evolved the platform seven years later to what it is today. This is actually a strong positive, not the negative which you characterized without actually having knowledge or even asking about.

    Allen, you write:
    "There is nothong beyond dispute here - unrated and uninsured is just that, risk that is unquantified. So I want to ask Russell, what would you say to my PCB remanufacturing client that wants to dump their servers and go pass, and then has an uncontrolled outage? Hmmmm?"

    I would advise them to consider a new consultant. You are completely missing the promise of PaaS, and the proven value it has brought to real-world businesses out there today. You will only be able to ignore this value for a small amount of time before your clients come to the same conclusion I did. Your comments about risk etc. are actually quite good, however, you risk not being heard because of all the other misplaced negativity and falsehoods.


  7. Well, it seems to me this 7 year of development history is about something like you've built a car you really are proud of cause you with your fellows have spent days, or even months, in the backyard garage upgrading and re-polishing it … But for crying out loud the work you’ve done was really worth it! All guys in the block enjoyed the ride and this car was of a good use not once. So, why not receive an investment and turn into some world leading car manufacturer? Note the car can be the best people could have dreamt of living in your rocky district. Just a thought, but still …

    To my above mentioned statement, all I am saying is HOW the product was created, with no good/bad evaluations and conclusions that customers were unhappy with it. It’s about how the product evolved in time.