Why All The Hype With Cloud Computing?

October 29, 2008

Believe it or not, I like Wiki’s definition of Cloud Computing the best. Wiki defines Cloud Computing as a general concept that incorporates Software as a Service (SaaS), Data as a Service (DaaS), Web 2.0 & other recent, well-known technology trends, in which the common theme is reliance on the Internet for satisfying the computing needs of the users.

The best example of Cloud Computing that comes to mind & the ones I use most often are Google’s Mail, Talk, & Doc Applications. Why do I use these applications instead of similar applications already installed on my PC? The answer is simple, these Cloud Computing tools allow me to access my e-mail, message with colleagues, & edit documents, spreadsheets, & presentations regardless of the PC I’m using & the city/state/country I am in. Simple said, they offer me a convenient solution to communicate & work that doesn’t involve me taking my PC everywhere that I go.

When Amazon officially released their Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) earlier this year many companies (especially start-up companies that had yet to invest millions of dollars into their IT infrastructure) jumped on board. EC2 offered far more than a hosting solution. EC2 gave companies & software developers access to all the computing power they needed to run their applications at a cost far below what it would cost to procure & maintain the computing power on premise. To note, EC2 is just another piece of Amazon’s Web Services (AWS) offering.

Even with Google & Amazon’s play in the cloud, few were treating Cloud Computing as a mainstream approach to IT. Following Microsoft’s announcement of Azure, its long-anticipated Cloud Computing strategy, earlier this week at their Professional Development Conference I believe that Cloud Computing will become more mainstream. While many reports from Microsoft’s conference suggested that the news largely unfazed show attendees; I think this news will rattle the cages of Google, Amazon, & will awake the “regular” PC users who will think that it is cool that they can now work on their Word documents for work at home without having to take their work PC home.

Microsoft’s dominance in productivity software — Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, & Excel — remains strong, with market share based on revenue of at least 95%, according to data released in late 2007 by research firm International Data Corporation. Google Docs & Spreadsheets & even OpenOffice, which is an open source suite of tools that users can download for free, will continue to chip away at Microsoft’s market share, but the reality is that they still have a very long way to go before Microsoft will become scared. With Microsoft now making their Office suite more accessible, they are positioning themselves to maintain control of their existing user base that may otherwise eventually migrate to online tools because of their convenience factor.

Along with the online convenience factor I think this move to Cloud Computing also shows Microsoft’s realization that more users are beginning to user their mobile phone to write & edit documents, spreadsheets, & presentations. When doing such work from a mobile phone it makes more since for a user to manage their files in the cloud & use software that is also accessible to them in the cloud. Just this Monday, the Wall Street Journal wrote an article about how the mobile phone looks to be replacing the laptop. There is so much truth to this article & Cloud Computing is going to make this shift to mobile even easier for the consumer.

The hype about Cloud Computing is this. Businesses will turn to the Cloud mostly because the costs & resources to manage a large IT infrastructure far exceed the costs to make use of the Cloud. Software developers will turn to the Cloud because they can quickly obtain the environment needed to develop & deliver their applications. The “regular” PC users will turn to the Cloud for applications because of convenience & because the Cloud supports their applications for use on their mobile phone.

At NetworkIP & Jaduka we will continue to support the advancement of Cloud Computing by making both our telephony infrastructure & transaction processing engine available to the masses.

Brian Kirk
VP Business Development
NetworkIP & Jaduka


Mobile Contactless Payments Gain Momentum

October 28, 2008

Next week the 2008 CARTES & IDentification conference kicks off in Paris, France. CARTES is the world leading show for banking technologies & eTransactions & this year they are giving special attention to mobile & contactless payment solutions. This year’s event should be quite exciting for all involved given the high number of mobile & contactless payment solutions that have deployed in many countries & that went into prototype here in the United States.

We’ve been following the contactless payment industry for almost two years now & we continue to see an abundance of new contactless solutions develop. Combine contactless solutions to what has emerged in the mobile space these past 18-months with the introduction of smart phones such as Apple’s iPhone & I can assure you that contactless mobile solutions are closer in sight than many predicted.

Just last month, Juniper Research published a study titled, “Mobile Payment Markets: Contactless NFC 2008-2013”. Key points from this report include:

– By 2013, the global mobile subscribers with NFC phones will reach 700 million
– FeliCa-enabled phones riding on Japan’s NTT DoCoMo, KDDI, & SoftBank’s network dominate this market. Juniper estimates that roughly 50 million FeliCa NFC enabled phones have shipped to date.
– Juniper predicts that North America, Western Europe, & the Far East & China will be the dominate regions by 2013.

This Juniper study also reiterated some of my own concerns about the roadblocks that currently exist in this Near Field Communications (NFC) mobile market. The first & most obvious concern stated by Juniper was the lack of NFC phones on the market. The report also pointed to the lack of NFC readers installed at merchant locations as the second roadblock. An additional concern that I have is that consumers & merchants have yet to be properly educated on how NFC works. I dialogue with a number of smart & tech savvy people each day & I’ve realized that NFC is still an unknown technology. To my surprise, some of the people I dialogue with aren’t even familiar with the term NFC.

Hence the reason I am so delighted when I read reports that indicate that NFC trials here in the U.S. continue to show progress. One of the best examples & one that got a lot of attention was the NFC trial conducted with riders of the Bay Area Rapid Transit District (BART) in San Francisco. For four months (January 28 – May 30, 2008), BART riders were provided NFC equipped phones to pay for their transportation costs. These same NFC enabled phones allowed participants taking part in the trial to make payments at participating Jack in the Box restaurants & to download directions from NFC enabled posters inside BART terminals. Full results from the NFC trial with BART can be viewed in this Yahoo Finance article.

As more NFC trials are conducted here in the U.S., NFC will gain adoption by consumers. Retailers are already beginning to acknowledge the benefits associated with NFC payments & are favoring them over traditional Point of Sale (POS) swipe solutions.

I suspect as next week’s CARTES & IDentification show gets underway, we will see a growing number of devices & articles pointing to the market that exists for contactless mobile payment solutions.

Brian Kirk
VP Business Development
NetworkIP & Jaduka


Mobile Phones offer More Than Just Voice

October 15, 2008

Almost every day someone presents a new idea or use for mobile phones. The size of the mobile market has become so vast that it is increasingly more difficult to identify those mobile business ideas that will work & those that won’t. In the last 12 months the mobile space has opened up new business verticals that few would have ever imagined.

The mobile space is still relatively young. It was only 25 years ago (October 13, 1983) yesterday that Bob Barnett, President of Ameritech Mobile Communications (what is now AT&T Inc. & Verizon Wireless), made the nation’s first commercial cell phone connection from Chicago’s Soldier Field.

When Barnett made that first commercial cell phone connection he used a Motorola DynaTAC handset that weighed 2 1/2 pounds & retailed for $3,995 USD. Fast forward to 2008 when most mobile phones weigh less than 1/2 a pound, they retail for around $50 USD, & even the most basic mobile phones offer address books, calendars, games, text messaging, music players, & cameras.

Just three weeks ago I read an article in the Canadian Press describing how a new Japanese mobile phone built by Sharp Corp. will be used in place of a traditional car key. This new phone uses a technology developed by Nissan Motor Co. called “Intelligent Key”. As reported by the Canadian Press, “Cars equipped with the system sense when the correct key is nearby, automatically unlocking their car doors, and allow the engine to be started once the key is brought inside the car. Nissan said it has shipped about a million cars with the technology in Japan since 2002.” NTT DoCoMo Inc., Japan’s largest mobile operator, will provide the mobile network that this new service will run on.

It isn’t a surprise to me that a Japanese company is the first to introduce this type of technology. The mobile phones available in Japan are some of the most sophisticated in the world. Most of the mobile phones you will find in Japan come standard with digital TV, music players, Global Positioning Service (GPS), & cameras that double as barcode scanners & wireless credit cards.

The mobile phone is no longer a device for business men & women or the elite. The mobile phone has become a ubiquitous device for all income levels & demographics around the world.

Today, the mobile industry is nearly a $150-billion-a-year industry. As data speeds continue to increase & mCommerce solutions gain popularity the mobile industry will only continue to grow.

Brian Kirk
VP Business Development
NetworkIP & Jaduka


G1 Android Already Sold Out

October 7, 2008

Two weeks ago today (September 23, 2008) Google officially announced & showed off the new HTC G1, aka the “Google Phone.” The G1 will run Google’s much anticipated Android mobile operating system & T-Mobile will provide service on their GSM network.

In my opinion, the G1 will be this first real competitor of Apple’s iPhone. One week following Google’s announcement & before the first phone had even shipped, T-Mobile announced that they had sold out of the G1. The demand for the G1 has far exceeded both Google’s & T-Mobile’s expectations. In an effort to respond to consumer demand, T-Mobile decided last week to triple the number of G1 mobile devices available for sale through pre-orders until October 22nd.

The excitement surrounding the release of the G1 Android goes beyond the fact that T-Mobile has sold out of their initial inventory. This is excitement can be seen through the numerous developments & announcements surrounding Android to include: Visa developing a mobile payment solution on Android, T-Mobile removing their 1GB data cap, & Amazon preloading their MP3 digital music store on the G1.

The future potential of Google’s Android operating system is almost limitless. HTC is predicting up to 2 million Android phones will be sold by end of 2009. Google is also making waves with mobile carriers with their hopes to free the mobile device from the mobile carrier with a concept they call “Instant Bid.” Expectations remain high & I like many others believe that Google will deliver & expose the necessary technologies for others to develop the next generation of mobile solutions.

Brian Kirk
VP Business Development
NetworkIP & Jaduka


Apple Shifts the Mobile Industry

September 23, 2008

I was reviewing my notes from last week’s Mobilize conference & I found myself asking where was Apple? This 1-day conference featured eight panel discussions with talent from the major mobile network providers, the mobile device manufactures, the mobile operating systems, & a variety of companies that specialized in mobile application development & marketing. The panel discussions consisted of topics ranging from the development of mobile applications with Location Based Services (LBS), to the hurdles associated with mobile carriers, to investment strategies in the mobile market space. Regardless of panel topic, I noted a recurring theme throughout. Not one panel discussion could avoid bringing up Apple & what they had done with the iPhone. It felt at times like the entire conference consisted of people asking how do we keep up with Apple, or is Apple’s approach the right approach to take, or what will Apple do next?

I scanned the list of conference attendees that was handed out at the beginning of the conference & there wasn’t a single person in attendance from Apple; nor was anyone from Apple participating in any of the panel discussions or keynote presentations given that day.

So here I sat in a room full of very talented people from some very reputable & large companies who could not help but analyze Apple & what Apple has done to the mobile market.

I find myself asking why Apple would have been there. Apple has set the standard. They’ve raised the bar with mobile devices & mobile application development & distribution. As a result, we find ourselves trying to catch up to Apple. While we sit here discussing how Apple approached the mobile market, they continue to innovate. I’m sure from time to time that they find themselves at conferences looking for answers to questions & to get a feel for a market. Of course they appear to do their own research in many other ways. Apple doesn’t wait for an industry to shift, they shift an industry.

Can other mobile device manufactures & mobile operating systems surpass Apple? Is today’s release of Google’s Android operating system on HTC’s G1 an example of this or will Apple continue to shape the mobile industry?

Brian Kirk
VP Business Development
NetworkIP & Jaduka


NetworkIP & Jaduka Attending Mobilize 2008

September 18, 2008

Early this morning Trevor Baca, VP of Software Engineering, Karthik Srinivasan, Director of Systems Engineering, & I jumped on planes headed for San Francisco to attend tomorrow’s Mobilize conference. This is the inaugural year for the Mobilize conference & with GigaOM behind this one it is sure to be a success & last for many years to come. This is an exciting time to be in the mobile space & we expect tomorrow’s conference will be just as stimulating & productive as it promotes to be.

The conference has pulled together thought leaders from Google, Nortel, Cisco, Motorolla, Sprint & many others involved in the mobile industry to cover topics that we’ve all been asking & that will enable us all to make informed decisions in this new market. The Mobilize conference also includes a launch pad session so companies like Cumulux, Fonemesh, Fonolo, Fusion Garage, Heysan, LuckyCal, MotionDSP, Pinch Media, placethings, Skyfire Labs, TuneWiki & Zecter can present their new mobile products.

Over the past few months we’ve been talking about how faster mobile data speeds (3G, 4G, & LTE) & open mobile operating systems (Apple, Symbian, & Google’s Android) are making this an exciting & opportunistic market for businesses & application engineers to develop new & innovative applications for the mobile space. As more companies & application engineers enter this space & find themselves supporting mobile consumers & mobile products they are realizing the need for faster, more robust, & more reliable transaction processing services. These companies & application engineers obviously understand the value of transaction processing services; however, they haven’t the time, the money, or the resources to develop them on their own. Their focus is where it should be; on their mobile products & services. So they rely on us & our proven experience in the transaction processing space to ensure their accounts & products are properly managed.

Our transaction processing services allow companies to manage all of their mobile consumer accounts & mobile products via simple API interfaces without having to invest any costs or resources to build a network, deploy hardware, ensure security standards, & manage complex databases. We do the heavy lifting so these companies & application engineers can focus on their existing mobile products, new mobile products, & most importantly their customers.

Brian Kirk
VP Business Development
NetworkIP & Jaduka


Contactless & Mobile Technologies at the Presidential National Conventions

September 3, 2008

Last week’s Democratic National Convention (DNC) was interlaced with contactless & mobile technology from beginning to end.

First Data kicked the convention off by introducing their new GO-Tag; an innovative electronic sensor that is small enough to transform any device into a contactless payment solution. The GO-Tag which was distributed in the form of a small button at the DNC allowed the 5,000 lucky journalists & delegates who received them the ability to “purchase” free snacks & drinks by tapping their GO-Tag button on electronic sensors at concession stands installed throughout Denver’s Pepsi Center. In a recent BusinessWeek article, Michael Capellas, First Data’s CEO, is placing a major bet on the fast-emerging world of mobile electronic commerce. According to the article, the GO-Tag project is one of five new ventures that Capellas has launched since he took over First Data. The other four projects include information analysis, customer-loyalty programs, fraud detection, & consumer-behavior prediction. The article went on to say that Capellas believes that mobile commerce could add more than a $100 million to First Data’s revenues in 2009.

Then there was Senator Barack Obama who announced Joe Biden as his vice-presidential pick with a text message. Nielsen Mobile described this text message based ad campaign as “the single largest mobile marketing event in the U.S., to date.” Nielsen estimates that 2.9 million U.S. mobile phone subscribers received the text message launched by Obama’s campaign. Obama supporters can still sign-up for future text messages from Obama’s campaign by texting “GO” to short code 62262 (spells OBAMA). Supporters can even subscribe to specific types of information updates by texting specific keywords such as “HEALTH”, “EDUCATION”, etc. For more information about Obama’s mobile campaign you can visit Obama’s web site & while you are there you can even download wallpapers & ring tones for your mobile phone too.

Delegates attending both the Democratic & Republican National Convention also made good use of their mobile phones for communicating events from the convention. They sent & are continuing to send text messages to services such as Twitter which in-turn distributes these messages from the convention to their “followers”. These same people are also shooting short video, audio, & taking pictures with their mobile phones & then uploading them to their blogs as mobile blog entries (“moblogs” for short).

These are just a handful of examples on how contactless & mobile technologies are being used in larger scale mediums such as our current presidential election & more importantly these two technologies are increasingly becoming a part of our everyday landscape.