Speaking at the Cloud Mobility conference – 20 -21 Sep Amsterdam

 

 

 

 

 

I am speaking at the Cloud Mobility conference – 20 -21 Sep Amsterdam which is one of the best known events in the Mobile Cloud space.

Some topics of interest include

The Defining Differences between ‘Mobile Cloud’ and ‘Cloud’

Building a Successful Business Model for Cloud

Mobility Services and Targeting Customers

Business models

Determining a Long-term Cloud Mobility Strategy

How Will Operators Make Cloud Business Profitable in the OTT Reality?

The Enterprise and Cloud Mobility

The Operators’ Strategy when Facing OTT competition

How do Third Party Providers fit into the Operator’s Business Plan?

Creating a ‘Cloud Active’ Environment

Security, Security, Security…What is the Key to Building Customer Trust?

Is the Security of Handsets Affecting the Adoption of Cloud Services?

Driving National Efficiency and Savings with Cloud Mobility

Dark Clouds and Rainy Days, the Bad Side of Cloud Computing  from our friend David Rogers

Cloud Services and Bandwidth: a Relief or Extra Burden? by me :)

Overcoming the Obstacles to Seamless Media Cloud Adoption

for more see  Cloud Mobility conference – 20 -21 Sep Amsterdam

 

The Telco/Mobile Operator Cloud – what are the unique aspects for Operators?

I have been asked this a few times .. and its a changing goal post ..
Time to do a quick recap of my views

Qs is: What are the unique differentiators/ advantages for the Telecom Operator for the Cloud?

Here is a brief summary

The Cloud
- The Cloud can be seen to be ‘on demand/metered’ access to HW, SW and services. Hence, its all about business models

- Cloud converts CAPEX to OPEX. The ideas are not new but the technology is here which makes the business model feasible. There are many advantages – ex scaling, outsourced sysadmin etc

- Amazon S3 and EC2 clouds provide access to computing resources – ex disk storage, CPU etc and are one of the best example of Cloud services

- The problems with Cloud are the same as that of any ‘outsourcing’ –security, privacy etc etc

What can ‘telecoms’ do for the Cloud?
- In a word of ‘on demand’ services – the question arises – which services can telecoms uniquely provide(typically then Operator) – which others like amazon cannot

- Convergence is one i.e. you are with one provider and that provider manages your mobility ‘seamlessly’ at home and outside and also stores all your data

- This model has some limited success(typically in fixed to mobile convergence for homes) and in enterprises but has not really taken off

- ‘Bandwidth’ is another service that can be provided by the Operator ‘on demand’

- Ericsson is widely reputed to be speaking of 50 billion connected devices by 2020. The management of these devices could be an important part of the Mobile cloud

- Similarly, management of sensors in venues such as cafes could also be ‘outsourced’ and managed by the Operator

- The Operator could also sell QOS(Quality of service) but end to end QOS is hard to sell and gurantee for Operators

- There is now a clear trend to store music in the cloud (maybe followed by other content) ex from Apple to be announced next week

- Security, Privacy and Identity will always the the forte for the Operator

Managing the Cloud ecosystem end to end for the Telecom operator
- One of the unique challenges which Operators face, especially in the West, is that Operators do not control the device.
- This has relevance in the cloud context since many of the benefits (ex security, guaranteed QOS etc) cannot be provided unless the Operator also has a ‘footprint’ on the client(device)

- This can be achieved in at least three ways: A SIM card (which is controlled by the operator), an operator managed ‘on device portal’ or devices like femtocells

Hypothesis
considering the view that the Operator Cloud advantages can only be deployed if they have some footprint on the device, then there are three possible options

a) Security, privacy, Identity – you do not have to necessarily go via the Operator route for these, but the Operator has a long history in this space and also the motivation. I am moderating some webinars (free) at the Sim alliance on this topic and I will summarise these ideas more

b) Sensors and other devices – these are ‘greenfield’ and in some cases, the security, privacy and Identity arguments also
apply

c) There is also a wider aspect of ‘Voice and the Cloud’ which Martin Geddes and Dean Bubley are speaking of and that is also a differentiator for the Operator

That’s my thinking so far ..

comments welcome

webinos – the vision explained in a simple video

I have been a part of the Webinos consortium and this simple video encapsulates a (very complex) vision. Feedback welcome

Note that the significance of webinos lies using the WEB (widgets) for interconnecting platforms

Is 2011 the year of the Mobile Web apps?

By Ajit Jaokar – futuretext and Nick Allott of nquiring minds

With January almost over now and conferences like Mobile World Congress and CTIA upon us, here is a thought.

In the age of Mobile applications, will 2011 will the year of the Mobile Web apps?

In this document, we outline the reasons why and welcome your comments.

Some initial terminology,

  • We refer to apps on specific technologies like iPhone, Android, Blackberry as native apps and we call apps using web technologies as ‘Web apps’ (more on this below)
  • By Mobile Web, we also include widgets – not just browsing.
  • By Web technologies, we mean w3c technologies but more importantly for our discussion, there are a set of emerging web technologies on the horizon such as – CSS2.1, CSS3, SVG Filters, Ogg Vorbis, Ogg Theora, Native JSON, MathML, Animated Portable Network Graphics (APNG), Cross-Site XMLHttpRequest, Microformats, Web Worker Threads (source Mozilla)

Native apps vs Web apps

Native apps have four key advantages:

  • Discovery
  • Revenue model (appstores)
  • Device APIs and
  • User experience

In contrast, for the purposes of our analysis we consider a web based application environment as:

A development environment using well understood, standardised web based technologies for creation of fully fledged applications.

We shall use the following working definition for web based applications:

•          Applications that can run when not connected to the web

•          Applications that can be packaged and distributed, again without assumed connection to the web

•          Application which can make full use of the device capabilities and APIs available on the device

•          Applications that can take full control of the devices UI – and are not rendered with the pre-configured chrome of another application.

•          Applications which can effectively run background processes and present a good user experience to the end user.

•          Applications which insulate the inherent risks of API access with robust security model

Many companies are already developing these models and indeed existing web technologies like HTML4 can also be used to create useful apps

Web technologies have some key advantages for applications:

IPR unencumbered: First and foremost, the specifications on which the web is based are designed to be unencumbered by IPR. This has two immediate positive commercial knock on effects. Firstly, it removes the immediate and absolute requirement to pay licensing fees to proprietary technology owners. Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, it does not bestow any core strategic advantage onto any single company.

Synergies between Open Source and the Web: A partial consequence of the lack of essential IPR on the core technology is that it is easier to create open source assets for. Or, perhaps, it is easier to state the inverse for the Web: it is very difficult to create an viable open source project for technologies on which there is known IPR that may be asserted (simply because there is then an implied liability). It is no accident then that the web ecosystem have been influenced, if not entirely dominated by open source projects such as Mozilla, Webkit and Apache

The Web as a platform: The existence of this public, usable assets, proves a boon to commerce, in that they may be picked up and used by people interested in using the technology, thereby reducing development costs, reducing maintenance costs, and freeing up technical and commercial resource to focus on more differentiation areas, with respect to their competitors. The Web then becomes a platform fulfilling the vision of Web 2.0

Public roadmap: Unlike a proprietary product, the web technology space, whether it is innovating within the W3C forum itself, or within one of the co-dependent open source projects, is fully transparent. This meant the roadmaps, over a reasonable time frame, are fully product. When dealing with device companies (whether mobile, pc, automotive, or home media), their commercial planning horizons are a considerable way out. A public transparent roadmap is clearly a positive thing from this perspective.

Low technical barriers to entry: It is a fact that web programming is easier to get into than more typical native application programming (that typically requires C, C++ or Java skills). Learning basic declarative HTML tag representation, upon which you can slowly build with easily experimental Javacript programming, gives a much softer entry into the programming world. Further, HTML and Javascript as interpreted languages, mean that for a new developer to get started all they need is a working web browser and a text editor. Contrast this with the complex compiler tool chains required to get native development environments up and running.

Although, you could debate that beyond a particular level of sophistication (when you start using complex Javascript libraries, object-orientated techniques and asynchronous programming)whether these differences still exist,  web based technologies mean that instead of being “thrown in the deep end”, you can paddle around in the shallows and immerse yourself slowly, and at you own pace, to the more esoteric programming depths.

Large skills base: The corollary of the above point is that there is a larger skills base for web programmers than native developers. It is hard to find definitive figures to back this statement up, but it would be conservative to estimate that HTML/javascript programmers outnumber Objective C programmers by at least a factor of 10

Large asset base: The near ubiquity of the web, the fact that almost every corporation and organisation has a website, and increasingly now, even individuals means there is massive amounts of content “out there”. To support this content, and strong ecosystem of tools and development applications has emerged (both proprietary tools and open source). The net effect of this, is that any developer looking to create web application content is well supported

Quick to develop for – and faster time to market: Another implication of the simpler technology, and tools base, is that typically web based content can be developed quicker than native content. This has important, valuable time to market implications for application developers and device manufacturers

Easy to deploy: Finally, to complement the development issue, web content typically needs only hosting on a website and is generally instantly downloadable and executable. Although, this process does not obviate the need to do testing on the web application content, it does typically mean that both initial deployment cycle, and subsequent maintenance updates can be issued more efficiently and fluidly than their native application counterparts.

Against these advantages, we have some drawbacks for web application development frameworks

Slow progress on roadmap and new features: One of the inevitable disadvantages of taking technical innovation and feature development out of the hands of a few people in a single company, is that decision making slows down. Consensus is a powerful force, in terms of garnering full industry support around a direction, but can be painfully slow to arrive at.

Remnants of fragmentation: Web technology is infinitely less fragmented than the disparate native development technologies, however, this does not mean that things are perfect. From and application developers perspective, the idiosyncrasies of the browser or runtime base they are using can unleash a myriad of minute problems that need addressing on a case by case basis. The four principle rendering technologies, (Webikit, Mozilla, Opera and Microsoft), whilst all ostensably supporting HTML, have minor difference in the detail of the implementation. These discrepancies fall into two main types

Bugs/lack of consistency in the support of older, legacy technologies such as HTML4

Differences in timing of implementation of the newer and more innovative features

Slow performance: Finally, it is important to understand that Web technology, to date is an interpreted technology. That means the code is expressed in human readable text and that the browser engine, must process this real-time whilst it is executing. (Contrast this with compiled technologies which pre-process the code from the human readable form into a machine efficient representation, optimised for performance.) This means that, web technologies are almost always slower than native development technologies.

Moore’s law, has meant that for a majority of applications, the difference in performance is irrelevant. There are subclass of application, however, those typically requiring high performance and good graphics, such as games, that are currently outside of the web application performance threshold.

But things are changing. The increased use of Just in time JavaScript compilation technologies and the new webgl technologies will make even this distinction narrow in the medium term.

Two resources for tracking these implementation inconsistencies are: quirksmode and Acid3 tests

Evolution of the Web and it’s implications for mobile devices

What does this mean going forward?

When I (Ajit) first spoke about the principles of Mobile Web 2.0, I used to jokingly say that it should be ‘Web Mobile 2.0’ i.e. the web dominates since it often evolves faster than mobile and has a wider reach than mobile

So, if we take a holistic view, then we can see that the evolution of the Web will also impact Mobile and that’s why the idea of web apps is relevant

Here is how these ideas could evolve:

1)  HTML5 is gaining critical mass. There are still some gaps – and development is ahead of the standard but there is industry alignment around HTML5. HTML5 provides both the user experience and the APIs

2)  Chrome labsMozilla labsEricsson labs and Webinos are now driving the evolution of the Web

3)  Since froyo onwards, it has been possible to create a bridge between Chrome and Android to transfer content. Mozilla has similar initiatives through firefox sync. Thus, content could span the Web and Mobile

4) A set of technologies(source Mozilla) are on the horizon – CSS2.1, CSS3, SVG Filters, Ogg Vorbis, Ogg Theora, Native JSON, MathML, Animated Portable Network Graphics (APNG), Cross-Site XMLHttpRequest, Microformats, Web Worker Threads

5)  Serverside Javasript engines like node.jsJaxer and jquery also help spread javascript to the server. This helps the Web since Javascript is a core component of the Web

6)  The apache foundation is also bridging the gaps with initiatives like apache extras

8 )  Initiatives like webinos will fulfil key gaps in Web technologies

9) We are seeing many players some unlikely ones like Skype make a push for the Web next year Skype make a push for the Web next year

Hybrid solutions

Currently, we are seeing the deployment of Hybrid solutions i.e. solutions that use Web technologies for development and can deploy to more than one native platforms for instance Phonegap, worklight and Rhomobile are examples of this trend. Also, we are seeing  encapsulated widgets i.e. apps that are wrapped around web technologies and also companies like Alibro which enable deployment using web technologies even to legacy devices. Thus, the boundaries gaps continue to blur between Web apps and Native apps

Emerging domains

There are many areas in which the Web is evolving: Here are some

1)      hardware acceleration for javascript optimization

2)      Identity and session management are missing on the web. Webinos and other initiatives could provide this

3)      The continued evolution of HTML5 even when it is imperfect Microsoft Offers Unfinished HTML5 Features in Internet Explorer 9 for Developers Only

4)      Social gaming especially facebook games which are based on web technologies

5)      Video and the limitations of video content – for instance YouTube still uses Flash as opposed to HTML5

6)      Connected TV is an important domain ex at CES Opera announced initiatives for connected TVs Opera for connected TVs and so did Access CES – ACCESS Connected TV solutions

7)      Features like two factor authentication Google two factor authentication for the web(and for mobile web)

8 )      Finger friendly web sites(touch based input) and Augmented reality for the web

9)       Mobile javascript libraries like  jQuery, The Dojo Toolkit although many are not yet optimised to mobile and many more The top 10 JavaScript libraries that compete against jQuery

The silent revolution – Vision of web apps

The vision of Web apps will be a silent revolution.Web apps will coexist with native apps.

From the development and design side, developers will write apps that run on many platforms including web apps. From a user perspective, users will see native apps and web apps together. Nokia has done this for a long time including in current versions of Ovi by mixing web run time widgets with regular apps on the home screen of the ovi store and we could view it as below

Conclusions

So, to conclude:

1) The Web is not governed by any entity and that makes it both ubiquitous but slower than proprietary technologies but Web apps are catching up very fast as we discuss above and there will be interim steps with companies like Phonegap and others that use web technologies but deploy on multiple app platforms

2) Both web and apps will coexist

3) Web and open source will provide mutual synergies(chrome, apache, webinos etc)

4) Note that outside of the Web, IPR will still be important in the Telecoms industry – ex in Devices and networks. Standardization is also a complex, multi-faceted process, so our discussion on Standards and Open source is relevant to Web standards

Any comments welcome

Acknowledgements

We would like to acknowledge contributions from forumoxford members especially Robin Jewsbury, C Enrique Ortiz,  Zigurd MednieksMartin WilsonAlex KerrWilliam VolkHenry Sinn

Ajit is speaking at the following conferences

CTIA Mobile web and mobile apps – Orlando

CTIA – future of tablets event – Orlando

M-days – at Messe Frankfurt

ICE amsterdam – Amsterdam

Mobile World Congress – BarcelonaWAC apps at Mobile World Congress 2011


The Web OS from a user/mobile standpoint – A gedankenexperiment .. – How would the WebOS look like to a user?

The Web OS is a hot topic and there is a lot of material out there – some of it more than ten years old ex studies at Berkeley on Web OS from 1996 onwards leading to papers like WebOS: Operating System Services forWide Area Applications(pdf)

Only now, with initiatives like Google Chrome OS – are we seeing the ideas of Web OS incorporated into products

The vision behind a Web OS is more than ‘An operating system for netbooks’ as in the case of Chrome or an ‘Operating System for the Cloud’ as in the case of Microsoft Azure.

If we view the ideas of a Web OS in a ubiquitous environment(and especially to mobile), the impact could be very interesting – and functionally more than the OS itself.

As a gedankenexperiment

What exactly would a web OS look like to an end user? (from a mobile standpoint)

and

What can they do which they currently cannot do.

My take is as follows: From a purist perspective ..

Ex: I (Ajit) meet you(John)

Then I can use my credentials(user name and password) if needed to ‘log on’ to your phone .. in a true WEB OS scenario

Of course, it has some limitations i.e. a phone is a personal device etc .. but in a purist scenario – that’s how the world would look (and the same principle applies to logging on to a TV).

I think it’s a hard concept for people to grasp .. and I am not even sure if the above is a good interpretation

We often talk of the individual elements that enable this scenario – but not of the meaning / services that the Web OS could enable (i.e. simple use cases to explain user benefits)

Enablers of the Web OS could include applications which migrate across hardware platforms, the user’s Identity and data are agnostic of any platform, context aware apps etc etc

But these are the building blocks ..

What would the user see? What can they do which they currently cannot?

Some ideas below:

1) On one hand, we could view Web OS as a natural evolution of the web (offline/local/cache) – which is already happening with HTML5 but it will need more of an encapsulating /security layer to make it happen. Alternately you could treat it as a kind of JVM(conceptually) for the web

But in any case, the best argument I could come up with is as follows: -

a) One of the most important evolutions of the Web is to make it local

b) But we could go beyond just making the Web local(HTML5 already does that)

c) Specifically, If Identity and context become agnostic – then services will be nomadic and personalised.

d) Ironically, they will also need a client footprint and a local client framework which makes the Web local

2) Another definition is : The web OS is the execution environment for cloud applications, where data processing and storage is handled centrally enabling access through any conected device and network…. In this discussion, ‘local’ could mean : To personalize it, To adjust to the device in use, To adjust to the location, To adjust to the profile or to adjust to the service used

3) Adapted from comments from AJ Wright

This takes us into the realm of Mobile Peer to Peer but the ideas need a Web OS

From the side of personal information, this could look like a single calendar that can be opened or shared via a “Share Event” like function. The people who recieve the shared event need to only authenticate themselves against the contact list of the sharer, and then within their calendar they would see the event and all of its associated media. Any updates or changes to that event would be automatically pushed as the user is connected to the calendar on the item level, not necessarly only the user or category level.

More ideas welcome on the wider meaning of the Web OS and it’s impact on mobility

Cloud or Fog? The battle for supremacy in the cloud is not a dogfight but will be fought in the trenches.

CLOUD OR FOG?

I have long been a fan of John Carpenter’s horror movies – and the Fog is a memorable one. You can see a preview above. If you have not seen it, the Fog is about a mist which slowly envelops a seaside village bringing with it ghosts of long dead sailors. The ghosts have a trademark metallic knock on the door (when you hear the knock, you know that they have come to get you!)

Cloud computing is slowly beginning to sound like the Fog.

That metallic knock on the door may be the Cloud vendors coming to get your business.

We saw this with Amazon with Amazon encroaching on the print on demand vendors like Lightning source

And last week, it was the Open source Mozilla browser folk who woke up to a metallic knock on their door in the middle of the night when we all heard the surprise announcement that Google wanted to be in the browser business with launch of the Chrome browser

Google had long supported the Mozilla browser. So, what happens to Mozilla now that Chrome is out? And more importantly, why did Google get into the browser business in the first place?

I believe that this is more than the aesthetics of the browser. Nor is it about the relative speed, standards conformance etc about browsers. The Chrome announcement relates more to Cloud computing – a topic I have been thinking of for a while now (and a looong blog coming soon).

WHOSE CLOUD DO YOU ORBITt?

If you compare Chrome to another browser, you are missing the point. In fact Chrome is less of a browser and borrows elements from the operating system in terms of its architecture.

Sam Johnston says this very eloquently in Google Chrome: Cloud Operating Environment .

>>>

Chrome introduces a revolutionary new software architecture, based on components from other open source software, including WebKit and Mozilla, and is aimed at improving stability, speed and security, with a simple and efficient user interface.

The first intelligent thing Chrome does is split each task into a separate process (‘sandbox’), thus delegating to the operating system which has been very good at process isolation since we introduced things like pre-emptive multitasking and memory protection. This exacts a fixed per-process resource cost but avoids memory fragmentation issues that plague long-running browsers. Every web site gets its own tab complete with its own process and WebKit rendering engine, which (following the principle of least privilege) runs with very low privileges. If anything goes wrong the process is quietly killed and you get a sad mac style sad tab icon rather than an error reporting dialog for the entire browser.

Chrome enforces a simple computer security model whereby there are two levels of multilevel security (user and sandbox) and the sandbox can only respond to communication requests initiated by the user. Plugins like Flash which often need to run at or above the security level of the browser itself are also sandboxed in their own relatively privileged processes. This simple, elegant combination of compartments and multilevel security is a huge improvement over the status quo, and it promises to further improve as plugins are replaced by standards (eg HTML 5 which promises to displace some plugins by introducing browser-native video) and/or modified to work with restricted permissions. There are also (publicly accessible) blacklists for warning users about phishing and malware and an “Incognito” private browsing mode.

<<<

But as Opera CEO Jon von Tetzchner points out .. “the focus is on keeping different processes for different windows – that’s a very heavy duty thing to do. It’s an OS approach rather than a browser approach.” And something not considered worth following.

Jon is correct of course …

Let us not forget that Google already had Gears as an offline component. There was increasing support from the industry and from browser vendors like Opera for Gears. So why seek to totally dominate the (universal) client i.e. the browser as we know it?

The reason is simple ..

It’s because the cloud is fragmenting whether we like it or not.

Amazon S3, EC2; Google AppEngine, Facebook and Salesforce.com are not interoperable and are not likely to be as well. Differentiation will be based on service (cloud i.e. serverside) but ALSO on the client.

Google simply could NOT afford to leave a critical part of the user experience i.e. the client out of it’s control.

It is as simple as that.

So, what is missing? Again, as Sam Johnston says in the same article .. – just add Linux

Just add Linux and cloud storage and you’ve got a full blown Cloud Operating System (“CloudOS”)

What is perhaps most interesting though (at least from a cloud computing point of view) is the full-frontal assault on traditional operating system functions like process management (with a task manager that allows users to “see what sites are using the most memory, downloading the most bytes and abusing (their) CPU”). Chrome is effectively a Cloud Operating Environment for any (supported) operating system in the same way that early releases of Windows were GUIs for DOS. All we need to do now is load it on to a (free) operating system like Linux and wire it up to cloud storage (ala Mozilla Weave) for preferences (eg bookmarks, history) and user files (eg uploads, downloads) and we have a full blown Cloud Operating System!

Ironically, it validates Ray Ozzie’s strategy for Windows live services where he essentially redefines the SAAS paradigm to Software plus service – in effect incorporating the role of a client for the cloud.

The Google Chrome announcement is a tacit admission of the need for a client for the cloud

INTERESTING MOVE – BUT STILL SOME QUESTION MARKS ABOUT THE U TURN

With a mobile hat on .. For a company that does no evil and has been historically developer friendly; I must admit I was a bit disappointed in this U turn. I have been pro-Google overall however .. essentially .. Google was telling us that we should develop for webkit but at the same time was working on a product that was changing the architecture in a big way.

What does this mean for Android and indeed for timeframes of Android?

If Webkit relevant anymore – or not?

Google still has many challenges to address before it wins in the mobile space(the radio layer integration for one). We don’t need more ambiguity with Android and certainly don’t need major U turns.

IMPLICATIONS FOR MOBILE

And what does this mean for mobile?

We need a simple, universal thin client that integrates with Internet based services and with a small footprint. I had always believed that browsers with offline browsing mechanisms like Gears could be as close to a universal client as we can get. Now it seems; apparently not.

If we are now going to talk of a weird hybrid of a browser and an operating system (an ‘Owser’?) – then all hell breaks loose and old paradigms do not apply as I said at beginning of this blog – you cannot compare a browser to Chrome

Sergey Brin has already said that Chrome may well be the Brower for Android . This fits in well since the Linux component already exists(and consequently the components to make the Owser exist)

But the real question is: Who ELSE can provide a universal cloud client for the mobile device?

We can now agree that a client is needed (with architectures from both Google and Microsoft heading in that direction). We discussed this question at Mobile Web Megatrends and there were some interesting possibilities. These include Nokia (who could also now merge the browser (webkit) and the Operating system(Symbian) through open source(which is conceptually the same strategy as Chrome . But from an Operator standpoint – the talk by Gemalto offered a very interesting solution as well with the SIM / SCWS being the universal client for the cloud managed by the Operator.

CONCLUSIONS

To conclude, the cloud is already fragmented. And the battle for supremacy of the cloud may well not be a grand dogfight in the clouds like the Red Baron aka Baron Manfred von Richthofen fought in the skies but also a protracted ground battle (client side battle) fought in the trenches .

The boundaries between online and offline applications were already getting blurred with features like Gears and now to make matters interesting(or worse depending on your standpoint) – boundaries between browsers and operating systems themselves are blurring.

And this, to me, is highly disruptive .

Expect many more industries to be disrupted and many more such knocks on the door.

As usual, comments and feedback welcome.

Note re references to World War One history: I am not that old :) but I do like history and given more time would read a lot more of it!