Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Saas Infrastructure, an update

A few months ago, I wrote about how building a platform for Software as a Service is all about the data platform. Since then, a lot has changed. I thought it might be worthwhile to summarize some of the interesting evolutions:

Sun: as I left Sun on June 9th, Sun had recently launched officially the Sun Grid Compute Utility in the U.S. at $1/CPU hour. In essence, compute power on a network cable, available in the 'cloud'. The offering was targetted at a specific set of compute intensive, and more importantly, data limited, applications. Since input and output data needed to be uploaded in a zip file, the Sun Grid Compute Utility has a narrow target audience. To familiarize yourself with the Sun Grid Compute Utility, try to run the sample application, if you can get it to run. On opening day, it was in trouble and unaccesible. Today, the Podcast your page with the Sun Grid isn't cooperating either: Due to overwhelming response to the free Podcast applications the service is currently busy. Please try your request later or Register for an account to login in to the Sun Grid to access the Cepstral text to speech sample job. Hardly an On-Demand application. Still, the biggest limitation of the Sun Grid is the non-existence of a storage and data platform. (And the lack of a developer environment, like the Google Code Hosting, see further.) (and the AppExchange) are on cloud 9. The company is doing financially (stock: CRM) great with 500K paying customers and a recent jump in stock price of 19% in a day. Also the AppExchange appears to attrack more and more developers. Interesting to note are:
  • The AppExchange OEM edition (press release): an AppExchange beyond CRM. In geek terms, the center of the AppExchange is no longer the CRM database schema. BYOS, bring your own schema. is opening their infrastructure (aka data platform) to other applications (even if it were a competing CRM app?). The AppExchange OEM edition is a logical step and highly strategic. Wow!
  • The AppExchange went international and offers a second site, the Japan AppExchange, in the local language.
  • Salesforce Online User community
Amazon has surprised me the most. While they already had launched the Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3), in recent months other key infrastructure building blocks have complemented the offering:
It is however not clear who is using this building blocks or what markets Amazon is targetting.

Google has been releasing several applications on-demand, including a spreadsheet and a word processor and appears to be busy integrating several services. On the on-demand infrastructure front, worthwhile to mention:
  • Google Code, Project hosting: a place for developers to host their code and develop, a la Sourceforge. (Or what a Sun Grid Developer Utility could be.)
  • Google Checkout could eventually offer a billing system, like Paypal has become for many other sites (i.e. the Sun Grid)
I haven't kept much track of what Ebay is doing.

All and all, it remains a recurring theme: it is not he who has the biggest computer who will win in the Saas world, but he who holds the data. Software-as-a-service, it is about the Data Platform!

No comments: