Time for MeshU – watching the web

We’re presenting at MeshU in a few hours. The subject is web monitoring — not just analytics, but things like synthetic testing, usability, and so on. The Toronto, Montreal, and Ottawa technology community is here in force, and the lineup of presenters is impressive (and intimidating.)It’s a big deck, and Slideshare isn’t behaving well. But the presentation (in .pptx format) is available in Bitcurrent’s drop.io dropbox.

Update: Now Slideshare is working, so here’s the deck:


SlideShare | View | Upload your own

Startupcamp 2 Montreal

stcamp-vert.gifThe folks from Embrase are working hard on an upcoming Startupcamp in Montreal. An impressive 27 companies have signed up already for the chance to pitch, meet, and learn. And startupcamp Montreal 1 had a total of 180 attendees.

Informal events like Barcamp and Startupcamp are great; they tend to bring together the strange and sublime alongside the polished and driven. I remember watching a scruffy developer show something, half-ashamed, apologizing for the UI and mumbling uncertainly. But what he’d built was astonishing. This kind of not-realizing-how-cool-it-is happens a lot.

I talked with organizer Phil Telio about the event. “We’re excited to have this combination of seasoned speakers, eager entrepreneurs, and startup veterans in one place,” he said. “The first event was a huge success and it’s a testament to the thriving Canadian startup community.”

I’m listed as a Guru for the event, which I think means I help judge the various pitches. Or it could be I drink too much of Montreal’s immensely-superior-to-Redbull energy drink.

Certainly, it’s become easier to build a prototype to impress. Scaling is less of an issue with on-demand components; most monitoring tools are free or near to it; transaction processing through Paypal or Google Checkout is a snap; and frameworks like Ruby and Flex make interfaces that don’t suck, even for non-designers.

The companies slated to present include:

  • Vencorps, a part of powered by Cambrian House applying crowdsourcing to startups. Basically Project Greenlight incubator.
  • Startyourtube, which looks like Ning-meets-Youtube. Curious to see how this is different from Youtube’s existing personalized sites.
  • Camwii, a screen sharing service like Webex that reduces all the complexity of what’s being shared down to a sliding window. And I thought it was a new Nintendo gadget.
  • Healthivate, which while still stealthy sounds like Healtheon-redux meets Google Health (reminds me of Marissa Mayer’s famous “I’m feeling Yucky button” joke.) Hope founder Yan Simard has read The New New Thing.
  • Loyaltymatch, which seeks to unite people with excess loyalty points with those who want some. Bit of a gray market there, and many loyalty programmes put specific constraints on selling things (like flights) for money. But it’ll be interesting for another, macroeconomic reason: Claim rates on many loyalty programs are low (relying on consumer laziness and unattractive offers like restricted travel times) — disintermediating this with the Internet will change the economics of prizes and loyalty programs as claim rates climb.

Looking forward to hearing their stories, and to finding out more from the other attendees. I’m sure the guys from MTW will be there recording all the goings-on, too.

Cloud security blog launches to cover a growing issue

Craig Balding recently launched a blog, cloudsecurity.org, looking at the intersection of cloud computing and security.

The challenges are significant: The concept of cloud computing is that you’re a tenant within someone else’s world (which is generally achieved through virtualization.) Consequently, you can’t ever see your entire environment down to the hardware; that would defeat the economics.

Being a virtual machine is like being Neo in the Matrix: You don’t know if the machines are benevolent or not.

Wonder if Craig runs his own machines?

Power panels at Structure '08

A couple of weeks ago, I was lucky enough to moderate a panel on next-generation databases at Web2Expo. Having database greats Brian Aker, Dave Campbell, and Matt Domo in one place made for great dialogue. In addition to finding out whether RDBMS is dead, we looked at the big challenges of data storage (synchronization, working offline, and a shift towards specialized data models.)

We even found out how these three datascenti track their contacts (MySQL’s Aker uses scripts he wrote; Microsoft’s Campbell uses Outlook.)

Then last week at Interop, I had folks from platform companies like Google, Amazon, and Opsource together with a number of startups and virtualization tool makers. Again, great dialogue, even on the five-person panel that ran over. This time, the consensus seemed to be that on-demand computing was great for bursty capacity and highly parallel tasks, but lacked the controls, management tools, and SLAs to be a production platform for enterprises at the moment.

But Structure promises to be the most compressed discussion yet. Om Malik, the guy behind the event, says it’s about two things: Learning how the new web is built from the architects that built it; and networking with investors who “are looking to place their bets on cloud computing” and see it as a huge opportunity. “Structure 08 is about Getting Web Done,” says Malik.
I have two panels on the same day to moderate:

  • Cloud Computing: Infrastructure for Entrepreneurs, featuring Geva Perry, CMO of GigaSpaces; Jason Hoffman, CTO of Joyent, Tony Lucas, CEO of XCalibre; Lew Moorman, SVP Strategy of Rackspace; Christophe Bisciglia, senior software engineer at Google; and Joseph Weinman, corporate development and strategy at AT&T.
  • Scaling to Satiate Demand: Tactics from the pioneers, with Sandy Jen, co-founder and VP Engineering of Meebo; Akash Garg, CTO of Hi5, Jeremiah Robinson, CTO of Slide; and Jonathan Heiliger, VP Technical Operations of Facebook.

Each of these will be a fast-and-furious fifty-minute discussion around on-demand computing and the ability to scale. Time to come up with some pithy questions and awkward follow-ups.

Any sugggestions?

Feedback on the Cloud Computing track

intunconf.jpgI’ve been incredibly lucky this week: Awesome panelists and great discussions (several of which have run over) at Interop. The conclusion: Cloud computing is still cloudy, and if you want reliable on-demand computing, get it from a SaaS provider who can worry about the cloud on your behalf.

The Register and Infoworld, both of whom covered the events, seem to agree: There’s a lot of hype around on-demand computing, but it’s not fully grown up yet. Nice to know we’re trying to keep things honest. 😉

While lots of folks are dabbling with cloud computing and on-demand infrastructure, it’s not really ready for business yet. Some of the cloud users we had — folks from Napera, Syntenic, and Kaazing — are using the cloud for “bursty” capacity or as a way to prototyping nascent applications. But what do the operators think?

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Moving to SaaS

Here’s a copy of the presentation I’m giving today at Interop. It looks at the perils and best practices of moving an application from internally-run to software-as-a-service.

MeshU: Geek university at Mesh 2008

We’ll be presenting on web monitoring at MeshU.

Mesh is a part of Mesh, Canada’s web conference, which happens in mid-May in Toronto. Given Microsoft’s recent announcement of the Mesh technology to synchronize all your digital content, they can probably make a killing on the URL.

meshu.gifThis will be a workshop/tutorial on the state of web monitoring, including web analytics, synthetic testing, and how to build monitor-ability into applications. I’m using lots of monitoring tools on Bitcurrent to collect raw materials for the session.

Continue reading “MeshU: Geek university at Mesh 2008”