Please Santa, bring Dvorak to my iPad!

Dear Santa, I don’t ask for much geeky stuff, but one very good gift in that area would be a Dvorak keyboard for my iPad. And please don’t give me a side real hardware keyboard, I am talking of a touchscreen keyboard (the combo external keyboard + iPad looses the battle with my Mac Air…).

Dvorak Simplified Keyboard

Dvorak Simplified Keyboard (Photo credit: Gustavo da Cunha Pimenta)

I switched to the Dvorak keyboard map not so long ago, last July. Reason for that was not to be faster (like many others) even if this would be a nice side effect, but exploring solutions to solve the pain of a recurring carpal tunnel syndrome. My friend Paolo advised this, explaining it would make my finger, hand and wrist move way less, as a result, it should reduce the inflammation and then the pain. If you are interested in the Dvorak keyboard, jut read it on Wikipedia, or from Ma.tt already almost 10 years ago!

For learning resources, you will find plenty around the web so I won’t say much here beside a short feedback if you are interested:

I am not yet 100% up to speed but really happy with that switch – I am still fighting a bit for all special characters and also for french accents… but I made progress in speed compared to my Qwerty typing. I am finally touch-typing and have my pain slightly diminished, which was the main goal. While not perfect yet, still very positive change!

I must say though that I can’t type for a too long time or pain still comes back but it is definitely an improvement compared to Qwerty. I also still have a hard time using it when not really in a ‘typing mode’, for instance when taking notes in meetings. And finally, I am just a bit annoyed by the blind or Dvorak stickers that I use on my keyboards as it is not the most comfortable solution. One day I will take the time to remove and switch keys.

Actually, now, the very main issue is coming from iOS. The Dvorak keyboard would be a perfect story for me if only I could use it not only on my computers but also on my iPhone and iPad but I can’t! It simply seems impossible to find a way to have a Dvorak map configured on the iOS system. Come on Apple, what the heck!? Can you believe that?

This is supposed to be so easy to support, certainly not more than a bunch of configuration files to change. Instead of that, we are in the paradoxical situation where we were able to find a solution for hardware keyboard and not for purely software ones…

And let me add that this is a typical example (among plenty of others) where I would love iOS to be more open if not open source. We are so far from it now with Apple. Openness would enable a bunch of happy few to make this thing happen quickly, without hurting Apple or asking their contribution, and pleasing many other users… but no! This has a taste of “innovation is over”… I will certainly keep a very interested eye on Android phones and tablets, and feel the change coming stronger and stronger.

And to conclude, I took 20 minutes to write this post because, even if just a drop in the ocean, I wanted to contribute to the Dvorak keyboard cause! It is super interesting and deserves more attention from device and system makers. It also needs to be known by more users. I believe that it is an interesting option with lots of potential for people like me. When I think about people writing, typing, translating, transcribing all day; I strongly feel Dvorak could be a much bigger change worth to consider.

My Dvorak keyboard for learning

My Dvorak keyboard for learning

 

And if you have a solution to my problem, please let me know!

On Stage with Jeff Bezos

Jeff bezos and Werner Vogels

Jeff bezos and Werner Vogels on stage

I took the time to finally watch the whole keynote of Jeff Bezos at the re: Invent conference all the way to the end. This keynote was definitely inspiring to me. I found Bezos’s presence, performance and thoughts extremely sharp.  He had a simple, bright and unpretentious attitude that I really enjoyed – quite a lesson, honestly!  And as this was not a monologue but a chat, it must be said that Werner Vogels was equally excellent in conducting the discussion!

So I thought I would share a few extracts that I enjoyed!

On the “pay as you use”  vs. “pay up front model,” which is valid for Amazon Web Services as well as for other Amazon business such as the Kindle:

Our point of view on this is that, if we can arrange things in such a way that our interests are aligned with our customers, then, in the long term, that will workout really well for customers and it will workout really well for Amazon.

Said like this, it sound so obvious. This almost defines what is a sustainable business.  It should really be a motto for all product designers but so many forget about it…

On what to look at and where to search for ideas:

I very frequently get the question “what’s going to change in the next ten years?” and that is an interesting question. I almost never get the question “what’s not going to change in the next ten years?” I submit to you that that second question is actually the more important of the two because you can build a business strategy around the things that are stable in time.

About innovation and the culture of innovation and pioneers vs. the mentality of conqueror:

When you attract people who have the DNA of pioneers and the DNA of explorers, you build a company of like-minded people who want to invent and that’s what they think about when they get up in the morning –  how we gonna work backwards from customer and build  a great service or a great product – that’s a key element to invention (and that part is fun by the way).

So true again! My takeaway here: whether your are hiring or about to be hired, try to really catch the DNA of the other — find out if he or she is a conqueror or a pioneer. That might be the number one criteria for a successful hire!

Now there are couple of other things that are essential for invention that are not as fun.  One of them is you have to have a willingness to fail, you have to have a willingness to be misunderstood…

Successful invention is invention that customers care about.  It’s actually relatively easy to invent new things customers don’t care about, but successful invention, if you want to do a lot of that, you basically have to increase your rate of experimentation and that, you can think of as a process.

All this is about the pace of innovation and about being as fast as possible ahead of users and experimenting with different directions, and about not rushing in one direction blindly.  My takeaway here is that innovation surely doesn’t come from only you. I think this is also a mistake of many entrepreneurs and product designers. Innovation only starts when your ideas are meeting users’ for real. If you believe your ideas are enough, you are surely in big trouble or you’ll have to be very lucky!

And it is good to have people stating  out loud the importance of Products and Services vs. the one of Sales:

AWS is not winning because we have the biggest salesforce.  It’s winning because we have the products and services that we have.

In the market I am in, so many people tend to say, “Don’t invest in product.  It is all about sales and marketing.”  I like to hear from leaders such as Bezos about the importance of Products!

And to conclude, Vogels asked Bezos for advice to give to new entrepreneurs.

The first one:

Never chase the hot thing, where ever it is.  That’s like trying to catch the wave.  You’ll never catch it.  You need to position yourself and wait for the wave and the way you do that is you pick something you’re passionate about.  Missionaries build better products than mercenaries.

The second being:

Start with the customer and work backwards.

I truly think maturing these two pieces of advice are better than many entrepreneurship classes!

Oh, and as a side note, I wrote this blog post as I was really impressed by Bezos this day but also as I had some time to kill and discovered the transcript feature of YouTube.  It is an awesome one, but I must say I had a lot of fun looking at that.  My favorite nonsense misstranslation being the transcription of “entrepreneur,” as said by Werner Vogel, which results in “president burger.”  Google should train its transcription engine with Vogel’s voice maybe!

Screen Shot 2012-12-15 at 9.50.27 PM

And if  you have 40 minutes to kill, here it is:

Time to Ban SEO?

I think I should eventually ban these three letters from my vocabulary and make the effort not to use the term, or way more carefully. I think, eventually, we should all make the effort. I realize more and more the term is a source of confusion and one of the least understood disciplines of online marketing. In almost 3 out of 4 discussions where I would use the term, the person I am talking to has a different understanding of what SEO means compared to mine. More than that, there is a real sentiment about the term.  People are really opinionated about it in all directions, without always knowing what it is about in more detail. Maybe I should call it “Natural Traffic Generation” or something of the like. A natural first step taking to demand and lead generation.

One evening not long ago for instance, I  had dinner with a fellow content management consultant and we were talking about the relaunch of the online marketing activity for a company he works for (including website, email marketing, etc.) to transform it into a demand generation machine. When I mentioned  that the current SEO was terrible and an important thing to do was to focus on it, my fellow partner tended to depreciate this view as if it was not what really mattered, which I found in the moment a bit annoying, especially in regard to the potential for a minimum of search engine marketing for this case. After giving it a second thought, I think my discussion partner simply didn’t understand what I meant, because SEO was so much something else in his way of thinking, and not what I understood. I think he was obviously thinking of old SEO techniques of cheating search engines and that is all that was associated to the discipline. Most of the people just don’t get what modern SEO is and how SEO has evolved. I had similar confused discussions many times and I am sure they happen every day to plenty of people.

Which serious Online Marketer would skip the opportunity to generate more natural traffic?

Maybe the one who simply doesn’t get the the exact purpose of SEO. Yes, as a start, the name should speak of the goal and not the action! Don’t optimize for the sake of optimizing. It is just a means to an end and the overall goal is clearly to generate concrete real demand or traffic. Search is here and here to stay in users’ habits.  My intention is not to demonstrate this (plenty of resources such as this blog post – 24 eye popping statistics about seo will give you some good hints about the role of search in inbound traffic).  In this period when everybody acknowledges the power of Content Marketing, no doubt we are talking here of something crucial for online marketers.

The wrong KPIs as a proof that SEO is not understood

I have seen marketers happy and satisfied when seeing in their SEO dashboard that their domain name was showing a better authority than its competitors or even that their ranking on their brand was in top position, stopping then any effort and considering the SEO task completed… (don’t ask me why this is not enough, please). This clearly means the purpose of SEO is in many cases not understood.  The only deliverables of the discipline is traffic and how this traffic behaves further on in your funnel.  This is the only thing that can help assess the quantity and quality of the demand generation machine you’re building! That is in the end the only thing an Online Marketing Manager should look at.

More importantly, SEO can be  your way to do information architecture 2.0

Having worked with some good SEO consultants (full disclosure, the folks at Distilled NY; I am not at all an expert myself), I realized SEO could be much more than optimization, but really working hand in hand with the content and information architecture.  Organic Traffic Generation is all about how you plan and organize your content, how you dress it in the different places it will show up, how you plan it on a editorial calendar.  So to speak, it is Information Architecture, but looked at through the lens of the global online world and not simply through the one of a single website.

SEO makes your content behave well online!

SEO will make sure your content behaves well online, and this is key!  If you stick to a site-centric information architecture, you might miss some very important things which won’t make it perform as much as it could.  Things such as basic optimization of  your SERP (Search Engine Result Page) are all about that: look at how your content appears in a search result page, in a twitter feed, on a Facebook wall, etc.  Ironically, today, by having your content well-understood by machines, you will have a good chance to have it well understood by humans. We can now design our content for both humans and machines at the same time, and this is may be the biggest change in what we call SEO.

Time to wrap-up and summarize.  Dear industry experts, Distilled, SEOmoz and company, please come with a solution to change that term for something less confusing!  On my end, I will try to use it less, simply because I realize most of the people I talk to have an unclear understanding of what I mean.  Instead of that, I will talk about Organic Traffic Generation, the first stage of the online marketing rocket (advertising being simply  a booster, in my opinion, but this is a different story).

Are you ToFu, MoFu or LoFu?

Or where shall you place your effort when planning and rolling out your online marketing effort?

I love Tofu

thanks masmad

This started with a funny discussion with one fellow partner who works for an online marketing software company around a glass of wine after a long work day, bringing me to this new terms I didn’t know yet. Acronyms are like TV to me: most of the time they annoy me but sometimes I really like them and this was the case!

So what about this ToFu,  MoFu and LoFu thingy I started with, if you don’t know them? New indie music categories? Yoga disciplines or martial art? None of these…

In the online marketing jargon, these terms are intended to categorize online marketing activities, software, and solutions (at least after a few hours of discussing the topic). ToFu stands for “top of the funnel”, “MoFu” is middle of the funnel and LoFu the bottom of it (From what I saw, people tend to use MoFu but I like LoFu better…). Catchy acronyms, no?

The real question I look at here is about where to put your energy when you are developing an online marketing effort. It is a very common question for online marketers, as it’s impossible to do everything well and everything at once. As a direct result, it is quite legitimate to ask where to start and what to focus on. I am certainly not enough of an expert to provide THE right answers but I still have some ideas…

From a strategical point of view, it’s a no-brainer; you must cover the whole journey of the online customer acquisition!

Indeed, if you are serious about online marketing, it really makes no sense to not invest in all battles! You must have a plan to grow your traffic and broaden your funnel (ToFu).  You must have a plan to better nurture your audience and prepare them to jump to the lower level (MoFu), and finally you must have a plan to efficiently transform the ones from it that qualifies them for the customer profile!

Just like a triathlete cannot bypass one of the disciplines, an online marketer can not think about improving all steps!

I have a good example, based on my own experience, that really goes in that direction:

A year or two ago, I was looking at a collaborative Q&A solution, and I heard about a company that was making some buzz, who was coming up with an innovative solution in that respect. The company was very good at the top and mid level (ToFu and MoFu): I was into their offer, ready to be nurtured, engaged! A few smart blog posts helped me think about my needs and think about what they offer. Result: I clearly positioned them as the best candidate. I was ready for stage 3 – LoFu: look at detailed budget and operational questions and may be engage with a sales person! And here is where they were not good at all! I hope for them that they have improved, but apparently they didn’t want me as a customer… It was impossible to reach their Sales team and get details on pricing despite all my effort to buy.

 Failing at only one touchpoint can have global consequences on the end result and can ruin the experience.

I still don’t understand what happened (my best bet being that the company was not ready to sell and the first stage of the demand generation marketing machine was launched too early.  It should have stayed a buzz and teasing thing). After a bit of patient waiting, I totally changed my mind and categorized this company as a not-serious and opportunistic vendor that I would in no way want to deal with!  I would not change my mind anymore!

Funny enough, a sales rep from this company called me something like 6 months later, but no need to say that my perception was not reversed at all. I guess (and hope for them) that they improved in the meantime but for me, evil was done. Also for the curious (total disclosure here,), I decided in the meantime to implement OSQA, a pure open source solution.

A classic of customer experience management: failing at only one touchpoint can have global consequences on the end result and can ruin the experience. Summary:

The only viable strategy is to care for all the stages of your funnel!

But this is about strategy, and not about tactics. And, especially if you have limited resources and most of us are in that situation, it is also important to be able to focus your effort! So, what can we say when it comes to tactics? Here I wish I would know about it all and was more of an expert, as it can be very tricky. I do have some ideas to share though:

  • No case is like another.  If you look for a pre-made tactic, there are quite some chances your findings will not fit you
  • The first thing is certainly to know about yourself and your organization so you can pick the right tactic and know where to improve. Assess strengths and weakness of your organization, check out risks and opportunities in regards to this, use traditional “good sense” driven SWOT analysis
  • Always have your final goal and KPIS in mind.  It is good to have metrics for all activity but make sure they always connect to the final goal of your online business. As an example, a typical mistake would be to only look at traffic when working on ToFu, and not the final goal (for instance Online Sales)
  • All is connected.  It is certainly good, if you can, to iterate small steps and tackle the 3 levels of your online marketing in an incremental manner
  • Always make your team aware of the 3 layers and make sure they are committed to the final goal, even if some are focused on some specific area of your funnel

And finally, I would say that you should alway think “lean”. The “think big, start small” motto fits perfectly to the online marketing discipline. There is a lot of room for successful, measurable small activities that are really meaningful as long as you keep the global, “big” thought of where you want to go!

About tactics: be lean, think big, start small!

Hopefully, I’ll get some time soon to rant on the topic more, as it is really interesting and so much of a recurring question! In the meantime, I’d take any advice or view on it! For now I’ll stick with these acronyms, and will enjoy a dose of ToFu or MoFu.  Back to my real work!

Another Way to Look at the Consumerization of IT

Image: © Scott Adams, May 28, 2008. Dilbert.
Source: http://dilbert.com

I ran through a lot of content dealing with the topic of consumerization of IT over the last months. A lot of “not that interesting noise” but also some good thoughts!  One of the latest on this good side being a conference keynote at info360, a panel run by Tony Byrne on this topic where Carin Forman, Director, Digital Photo Services, for HBO touched the topic in a way that I liked. Since then, I’ve been paying more attention to the topic, up to finally writing a small post on this blog, mostly because I thought I needed to put my ideas together in one place!

First as an intro, I should say that I have been a big supporter of the idea for a long time, from the day I have been able to use the same computer system at home and work (a Mac if you ask…) this has been a huge step forward in my digital life. Don’t get me wrong, this has little to do with the Mac itself and the same story could happen reversed: the one of a PC fanboy being finally authorized to use a PC in his all-Apple company! But it must be said that Apple has been instrumental in making all this happen on the hardware side, as much as Google has lately on the software side.

My other great moments of being part of this consumerization of IT thing have been when I have been able to easily access my company network from the outside (and still securely), when I have been able to use the same mobile device for both uses or more recently when I have been able to use the same ultra-usable and enjoyable web-based office and collaboration suite for personal and professional matters! The same story as millions of others…

It’s  not as simple as using Facebook on the other side of the firewall 

However, in my fields, our fields, Content Management, Information Management, Document Management, etc. I have been a bit annoyed by the way some are pushing the idea. I don’t think it is as simple as using Facebook on the other side of the firewall (which makes me think of this good article from Aaron Shapiroyou’ll need more than Facebook). I don’t think this as much as I was not thinking using the paradigm of blogs for all websites (from e-commerce to corporate communication) was the one solution to rule them all (I remember this being pitched at some Sixapart’s events when blogs were supposedly to take over content management and e-commerce solutions). I don’t think Digital Asset Management is always as simple as the combo iPhoto+iCloud.  I think larger organizations and even smaller businesses have totally different needs and preoccupations than consumers, and, very simply,  that they don’t need the same tools! This doesn’t mean I don’t embrace this idea of consumerization. I am a big believer in it. I think it is the way to go for enterprises if they want to meet efficiency! It is just that I look at the way we build solutions.

What do Facebook, Tweeters, Dropbox, Netflix, Amazon, eBay have in common? They are all, at their very core, Product Companies. They all designed and built a product absolutely tailor-made for their customers, that translate in remarkable experiences. A product that maximizes the user satisfaction, efficiency and productivity! None of them are using standard, off the shelf product! More than that, they are inventing what we call Digital Experience, setting the standards.

That is what enterprises have to replicate when it comes to building their customers’ and employees’ experiences: being a product organization and building wowing experiences for their employees as much as for their customers. (By the way this reminds me of  another good article from Mike Gualtierisoftware is not code, it creates experience ) whose first axiom is so true:

‘Software is not code; it creates experience’

And then it is about providing enterprises with the right tool set and solutions to enable them to be themselves: “product” organizations.   This must enable them to focus on the experiences they need to build and not on the code they need to write.  This doesn’t mean nothing comes off the shelf.  There are certainly commodity bricks (after all there are many in the consumer side as well). Focus on the product.  Focus on the experience! That, and only that, will enable users to reach the same level of satisfaction they are having in their personal digital lives.

Every enterprise should be a “Product” Organization!

This is why I like companies I work and worked for. Both Nuxeo and eZ have this strongly in their DNA. They are not boxed solutions.  They are platforms that enable their users to build on top of them, to make their own product, and in the end to create efficient and successful experiences for their users! But, of course, it takes much more than only the technology…

The Big Mixup: Open Source and Cloud Content Management

Next month, I’ll be in San Francisco for the AIIM conference, invited by the brilliant Laurence Hart to participate in a panel with some fellow ECM practitioners  from more traditional ECM providers as well as from emerging cloud-based services.  Visit the AIIM website if you want to know more.  Of course I hope to see you there!

I look forward to this discussion, as the topic is interesting to me and comes right on time: Lately in our industry I have read a lot of things which tend to oppose  “cloud-based solutions” and “open source solutions” and describe them as exclusive. It first started with some business analysts.  Often these people want to put us software makers in  very limited boxes; which I understand – it’s their job. I never really understood why eZ Systems (where I worked before) and Nuxeo (where I work now) but also Acquia, Alfresco, Liferay, Hippo, whether it is about ECM or WCM, should be in an “Open Source” box, and not simply in an “Emerging vendor” box.  To me, it is for their features first that both eZ and Nuxeo should be considered (or not) for a project, not for their open source characteristic — features including those functional, technical and economical. So as much as I hardly understand the “open source” box now, I don’t really understand why we, “open source vendors”, are opposed to the folks in the very wide and undefined “cloud” box, as if both cloud and open source were mutually exclusive.

Hopefully the discussions will be about how cloud-based services and other solutions, originally more driven by individuals than organizations, might impact ECM solutions. I have my vision about it and to me, it is an interesting topic to discuss. But for now I won’t speak about this topic.  I will keep it for later and will stick to the “cloud vs. open source” topic.

I have just read John Newton’s blog post “Cloud vs Open Source? I don’t think so!” which came as a reply to Lubor Ptacek’s predictions for 2012 which I also read (Lubor will actually be part of the panel mentioned above). Will we speak less about open source in 2012? Well, maybe yes, as it’s becoming less of a buzzword, at least as a differentiator and more of an established model, but it certainly has nothing to do with cloud. Companies like Nuxeo and Alfresco are obviously (emerging) competition to big players like OpenText and they are growing, gaining marketshares, and becoming more and more important competitors.  Their solutions are, by the way, obviously more modern and thus naturally fit better in a cloud world (and no I won’t say here which one fits better in my opinion 😉 ). So no, nothing to do with cloud indeed!

I agree with John Newton on many points he raised and to me, there is no need for a deeper dive. I must also say, though, that I disagree with some other things raised by Newton.  No, the cloud doesn’t run on open source software only, as the article implies. Saying this means as much as Lubor’s generalization, actually. A good share of the cloud runs on open source technology and a good share doesn’t.  Let’s say, for instance, SFDC and Force.com, hard to ignore when talking about cloud.  Surely these solutions have little OSS pedigree even if there must be OSS components somewhere in the salesforce stack. And don’t take me to Azur…

Back to my rant… Why do we still need to explain what open source means? Please stop that, and step up the discussion!

Open source is not a business model.  Open source is a development model.  Are we still talking about that? It is known to make better software. It doesn’t guarantee it makes good software by itself, and through different open source projects, you might find good and bad solutions. Being a cloud solution has nothing to do with these development considerations. The cloud is about how to deliver software as a service at different levels, from very end users to developers and sysadmins. It is about distribution and business models. Ask a small company like Automattic with a not that small of a product and you’ll understand both are extremely compatible!

People in our industry opposing cloud and open source should stop doing so.  This makes no sense! I somehow understand Lubor’s perspective, because OpenText obviously is a bigger and more established player, and isn’t in the cloud or open source areas. But dear analysts, reporters, practitioners, and consultants: please understand we are not talking about the same thing here and even if it is tempting, please don’t fall in that trap of mixing up the two.  This is like if I would ask you “Do you prefer organic coffee or espresso?”  The first is about how the coffee is grown, the second how it is poured.

(And I didn’t say open source had anything to do with organic coffee, but both of them are certainly better for the environment…)

Back to content management.  Whether on-premise or on the cloud, open source technology will provide a range of benefits more or less interesting for you depending on the window from which you look.  In the enterprise world, I see the hybrid on-premise/cloud deployment model as probably THE scenario we will see a lot in 2012-15 for this industry. I must say I share this prediction with Lubor.  And in this case, definitely open source will help!

Introducing the A, P and I of SaaS to people interested in the Cloud

It all starts here: trying to explain the different flavors of cloud computing to some not-too-IT-immersed folks… Truth is, if you’ve ever tried to do this, you quickly realize that it’s a bit of a challenge as you first have to cover the basics of SaaS, PaaS, and IaaS! And (another truth be told), I would not say these are totally clear concepts yet and they will probably never be, so in order to explain well, you have to make things simpler than they really are. If you disagree, please comment on this post!

So the best way I’ve found to explain these 3 layers of aaS (namely Saas, PaaS, and IaaS) to the non-IT folks out there is with the help of visuals, in this case, an Image + Short definition of my own + Slogan + Examples.

A, P and I as a ServiceMy image representing Software is a pyramid, where on top, stands the end user, below him are a couple of developers developing the app that the end-user is using. Below these developers is an IT crowd made up of system admins and other operation folks making it possible for developers to develop and then deploy their apps! Ok, in the real world the pyramid should be inversed. It should have more users than developers, and more developers than ops (at least most of the time), but I like the image like this. If ops fails to keep the infrastructure solid, both devs and end-users collapse; if devs fail, end-users collapse.

A bit abstract, perhaps? Not a good drawing? And, maybe you’re wondering what this has to do with Software as a service?

Let me go straight to the explanation by jumping to definitions.

SaaS or Power to End-Users

As mentioned, standing at the top of the software pyramid is the end-user, he is the king, per definition. His experience is what makes software great (or not).

SaaS, which stands for software as a service is all about serving him, in the cloud. SaaS is about providing our end-user “king” a useful application in the cloud without having to deal with the technicalities of its development and its infrastructure.

Want a good example? Well, Salesforce initially invented it! Their CRM application, designed specifically for the sales force, freed the end-user of the burden of having to think about software installation, configuration or even updates. It enabled a consume as you go environment, giving Power to End Users! Talking about cloud content management, we can look at WordPress.com and see how the nice folks at Automattic have managed to deliver this as a service without having to dive into the nuts and bolts of the famous blogging software of the same name!

PaaS or Power to Developers

Let’s jump one level lower and discuss PaaS, which stands for Platform as a Service. In this realm, it’s not about end users but developers. PaaS brings Power to Developers. Here, they no longer need to think about the infrastructure, which comes to them in the Cloud, simple, straightforward, and on demand! Example? Well, here again, Salesforce did it well when releasing Force.com. But other kinds of examples of this method of implementation can be found at CloudFoundry. In another flavor, what we do at Nuxeo, with Nuxeo Cloud, tackles the same concept—enabling developers in the cloud to build their apps in a simpler way.

IaaS or Power to Sysadmins

And going down one more level, to the foundation, we hit the IaaS floor. This is giving Power to Sysadmins. Developers will still develop as usual, they will use “servers”, “database”, “file systems storage”, “web servers”… all these tangible pieces of the system stack will not be hidden & abstracted from them. This also means we still need sysadmins to care for these systems, as we all know developers should focus on the application layer (ok, I know this is old school and I know there is some overlap between developers and sysadmins with disciplines like Devops, but let’s not get too far into that, otherwise my explanation will be hard to digest…) IaaS is simply this: it’s all about giving more power to ops!

This one is the easiest to provide an example for! Amazon with its AWS business is the obvious example, as well as a pioneer and by far the leader in this sector!

Cloud is all about Apps, Platforms and Infrastructure as a Service

Salesforce.com NO SOFTWARE branding

But isn’t PaaS and IaaS as much about software as SaaS? Definitely. Hence, if you ask me, the need to rename the top layer to AaaS (Application as a Service). After all, Salesforce.com, probably the inventor of this layer itself has this strong and purposeful slogan: “No Software”…its about applications here, not about software, wherein A/P/IaaS all fall into the bigger SaaS basket. And now I’ll just wait for the evil techie who introduces API as a Service… but I should probably stop here!

I hope you enjoyed this short read. Honestly, I am not an expert of cloud computing terminology (I will leave this to the analysts) and I am neither a huge addict of boxes and categorizations, but obviously there are very grey areas between these layers. But as this subject keeps coming up in conversations with colleagues, friends (and soon…my parents? um, thank you Apple for introducing iCloud…), I thought it was high time to devote some space to it on this blog. I’m happy, as ever, if anyone likes it and, of course, if you want to comment and discuss, feel free to type below…