Enterprise IT - Surprisingly Repetitive

Monday, August 08, 2011

Jason Remillard

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As I travel out to only my second time to HostingCon, this time under different auspices, (last time as a starving bootstrapped entrepreneur hunting for business)  I am finding myself explaining what I’m doing with my new employer, and who they are. 

It is generally understood why I’m personally going – I’ve been in the hosting/MSP space for a great many years in differing formats – as an ISP, Web Hoster, Registry player, ASP, and SaaS-security provider.

Today I am hunting differently.  When I explain that I am doing product management for an enterprise software company, I’m finding that I don’t have to explain much more than that. 

In the past, when I was with Novell, IBM or other ‘stalwarts’ of Enterprise computing – I’d always had to explain why I was at an Internet-focused venue – usually to inside folks first.

Now, the promises of cloud computing – the myriad options enabled by it and the complexities which are now just being recognized – promise to open more opportunities for all involved. 

It is definitely overstated that the lines between ‘Internet’ and ‘Enterprise’ are blurry, but I am still constantly amazed at the rapid speed of which this is occurring and the velocity of not just change, but the impact of this change on solutions and integrations for standard equations of IT such as Security, Availability, Performance, and Time to Market.

For me, HostingCon is one of the best venues to not just get a feel for trends in the business – but also to get a ground floor look at how my customers will be impacted by ‘future’ technologies and the folks behind them. 

You see, for me its not just the speeds and feeds that are important when I design a solution – it’s the folks and brains behind them that are more important to me. 

In a world where your customers take you to what you product should be more often than not – agility is the true business advantage of the day – and keeping apprised of these by development is a requirement for success.

Where does an enterprise software vendor play here?  Well, you are always looking for market opportunities and synergies for not just your existing product line – you are also watching for opportunities that your infrastructure can leverage. 

For me, this may mean repackaging an ‘enterprise’ tool for the MSP space, or leverage the advantages that I have with an amazing array of development and architecture folks who understand agility and enterprise – two phrases that generally don’t go together.  And I’ll say Quest is fairly unique here in that description.

As I walk the floor, listen in on sessions and speak to other professionals here – I’ll be watching for these types of opportunities to present themselves.  For me, I’ve always been successful when I’ve leveraged the strengths of ‘Enterprise’ tools for the burgeoning and fast moving ‘Internet’ field. 

For many years this has served me well – and as I watch this industry – the merging or blending of these two industries is accelerating.  

Today we have someone like Facebook – a ‘pure play’ Internet service – being actively looked at as a trusted source for corporate authentication services – even banking.  Believe it.  Some of the largest players in cloud hosting came from more humble beginnings like a book store or a small hosting operation. 

Without spending the whole column giving examples – just look at your typical computing practices today and consider them in an Enterprise context.  More amazingly, watch your kids or other youngins around you...

I digress – but a little story…  My son is an avid sportsman, and got a nifty little GoPro video camera for his birthday to cut some video.  After about 5 minutes, he learned how to edit in iMovie and upload to YouTube.  Ya, not a big deal nowadays. 

However, I watched this kid (who only 1 year ago didn’t even know how to text), embrace, understand and utilize the greatest benefits of cloud computing without even realizing it.  Much further than just posting on Facebook ‘Cool, Uh huh, and ya’, he downloaded a tune from iTunes, mixed it with iMovie and uploaded to YouTube and shared it with his buddies. 

In a few minutes, he was told that YouTube had blocked his video due to copyright infringement (I guess he didn’t read the 47 page EULA on iTunes!). 

So ditching my idea of uploading to Vimeo instead (“Son its far superior, supports HD and probably wouldn’t ditch you due to ‘fair use restrictions”..  “Dad, I already have a YouTube page and I want it there”)…  He went back to YouTube, and browsed the most recent uploads. 

Realizing that a certain video had commercial music on it (banner advertisement within the video), and it ‘sounded cool’ (um, this was the Beatles!), he realized that this commercial work was not subject to the same restrictions as his other music sample was (via Warners Music Group?).  It was identified as copyright material – but was allowed for distribution via the Youtube medium. 

So what you say?  Well, he was using my MacBook Air to edit, and upload the video.  When the upload was running, he’d go back to his own machine (um, not Mac), and wait for YouTube to accept and convert the video – while communicating to his buddies about status and I’m sure many other invaluable minutiae.

It clicked for me.  ‘The Cloud’ isn’t just about speed, reliability, saving money, or enabling new business models.  The next generations are using this stuff without even considering it.  I know it is very much dating me but this has serious implications for the expectations of our future customers and consumers. 

This is deep, ingrained and expected.  More than just the iPod generation – the implications are much deeper and sophisticated than that. 

What “The Cloud’ will be  - will be defined for us by its uses.  I’m a firm believer in letting your customers lead you to what they want – and in this case – we’ll see the users of the cloud define what it means and does – for them and others.

This realization for me is the perfect precursor to attending HostingCon – the ground floor where all of this magic starts – and more importantly – where ideas are born.

If you’re at Hosting Con 2011, drop me a note – be happy to chat!

-Jason

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