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Jul 5, 2008

AdNets Weekend

Seeking Alpha
Google Launches Affiliate Advertising Network, Courtesy of DoubleClick
Washington Post, United States - Jun 30, 2008
... advertising program, which is still in beta. At some point, it might make sense to consolidate that effort into the Google Affiliate Network as well.
Google Launches Affiliate Network InternetNews.com
AdSense Referrals? AdWords Pay Per Action? Not Anymore WebProNews
Out of Home Video Advertising Bureau Welcomes New Members: CNN ...
PR Newswire (press release), NY - Jul 1, 2008
On behalf of its members, OVAB seeks to foster ongoing collaboration between agencies and out-of-home video advertising networks; provide standards, ...
Big-name brands booking ads on Facebook
San Francisco Chronicle,  USA - 13 hours ago
... to traditional ways of advertising that generate online traffic and page views, which doesn't apply to social networks where people "want to socialize ...
Specific Media Appoints Jon Schulz as Senior Vice President ...
FOXBusiness - Jul 1, 2008
Specific Media, the largest independent online advertising network, reaches more than 150 million unique users for a total US reach of 79 percent. ...
Clear Channel, Limbaugh Ink $400 Million New Contract
Wall Street Journal - Jul 2, 2008
Mr. Limbaugh's show is the nation's most-listened-to, followed by fellow conservative Sean Hannity's show, distributed by ABC Radio Networks, a division of ...
Conservatism still pays Limbaugh International Herald Tribune
Rush Limbaugh: Radio’s $400M man Boston Herald
Limbaugh and Clear Channel in $400 Million Deal New York Times
New York Post - KIROtv.com
Adify: Laughing All The Way To The Bank
Mediapost.com, NY - Jul 3, 2008
So in a click you are at About KnowVertical that claims: KnowVertical is a VerticalAdvertising Network consulting, technology services and outsourcing ...
Jack Balousek Joins Kowabunga! Board of Directors
Business Wire (press release), CA - Jul 1, 2008
(AMEX:THK), the leading provider of interactive performance-based advertising networksand technology platforms, today announced that Jack Balousek has been ...
3FN Strengthens Executive Team With New HR Director Appointment
PR-USA.net (press release), Bulgaria - 12 minutes ago
3FN Marketing is an online pay per click advertising network that allows advertisers to benefit from the optimized targeted pay per click advertising...
Veronis Suhler Stevenson To Announce Stake Deal
Wall Street Journal - Jun 30, 2008
New York-based Brand Connections creates outdoor advertising networks where marketers can reach a targeted group of consumers through a variety of ...
Kowabunga! to Divest Several Non-Core Business Units
Trading Markets (press release), CA - Jun 30, 2008
Inc. is the leading provider of interactive performance-based advertising networks and technology platforms. Kowabunga! provides a comprehensive and ...
Kowabunga! to Divest Several Non-Core Business Units Centre Daily Times

Social Media Weekend

Nonprofits should make use of social networking
Houston Chronicle, United States - 9 hours ago
"This is the time for nonprofits to get into social media while there is not a lot of traffic there," said Monica Danna, a Houston-based blogger and ...
Tech Post: Reaction to "Twin Tech Towns" Washington Post
Adopting Social Media: Are We Leaders, Managers or Followers?
RedOrbit, TX - 6 hours ago
By Williams, Tudor Williams, Ryan A new IABC survey finds a wide range of opinions on howsocial media should be used in the workplace Most communicators ...
The Social Media Resume
RedOrbit, TX - 6 hours ago
When you compare a resume to another pre-Web 2.0 device, the press release, which wandered off into the digital deep end to become the social media release, ...
Virtual Worlds: An Untapped Healthcare Marketing Resource
LinuxInsider.com, CA - 4 hours ago
This social aspect that makes virtual worlds a richer sibling of more familiar social mediachannels like blogs and online social communities. ...
RocSearch Releases Study on ‘Leveraging Social Media for Brands’
PR.com (press release), NY - 8 hours ago
As companies demand more return on their marketing dollars, social media is playing a pivotal role in the future of online brand engagement. ...
New Social Media Training Workshop for PR and Communications ...
PR Web (press release), WA - Jul 4, 2008
PR and communications professionals who want to begin implementing today's powerful newsocial media strategies will find help in a new social media ...
Big-name brands booking ads on Facebook
San Francisco Chronicle,  USA - 13 hours ago
"And they are finding that the social media networks are too big to ignore." In March, retail giant Sears Holdings Corp., which pioneered the mail-order ...
Social Media, destroying the walls of traditional media
KanglaOnline, India - Jul 3, 2008
Social Media is a term given to the kind of media based on social interaction. With the advancement of technology, media is no longer the prerogative of a ...
Social media copyright – a tangled web
Press Gazette, UK - Jul 3, 2008
By Martin Stabe Using material uploaded to the internet by users of social-media websites like YouTube, Facebook or personal blogs without permission is a ...

Sony to mix Blu-ray media with social networking
PSPSPS, UK - Jul 4, 2008
Instead it should be an active, social experience instead. Allow Mr Glasgow to explain: "We're going to have to open this up as a social network--not just ...
Sony to open up Blu-ray as a "social network" Tech Digest
Sony's Stan Glasgow talks TVs, Blu-ray CNET News

Blog Weekend

Alberta: MP's Quebec-bashing blog embarrasses Dion
Ottawa Citizen,  Canada - 2 hours ago
Federal Liberal leader Stéphane Dion was on the defensive last night after outspoken Halton MP Garth Turner made insulting remarks on his blog...
Grit's blog slurs Alberta Calgary Herald
Turner under fire for blasting 'separatist losers' Orillia Packet & Times
Try as he might to challenge Harper on his home turf about going ... Canoe.ca
Canada.com - Calgary Herald
Popular blog apologizes, says goodbye
Inquirer.net, Philippines - 10 hours ago
By Erwin Oliva MANILA, Philippines -- After going underground for a while, a popular gossipblog has decided to bid the blogosphere goodbye. ...
Blog About:
Telegraph.co.uk, United Kingdom - 5 hours ago
I suggest that Gordon Brown decided on these new towns so that he had something to announce. Gordon Brown does not care about our countryside. ...
Missing the Kindle after a test run
San Francisco Chronicle,  USA - 8 hours ago
Plus it's about $2 a month to subscribe to some blog, about $14 a month for major newspapers (though two-week trial subscriptions are free) and $9.99 to ...
Is a Kindle to books as an iPod is to tunes? San Francisco Chronicle
Weekend blog: Explosive blogs
Sofia Echo, Bulgaria - 14 hours ago
No matter what happens, in conversations and public opion as much as in blogs and in dailies, hidden reasons and interests are found for everything that ...
Portugal: First blog ever to be blocked
Global Voices Online, MA - 28 minutes ago
June saw for the first time ever a blog suspended in Portugal because of a local court decision. The now defunct Póvoa Online blog had been taken to court ...
BLOG BITS: No to energy drinks; Supreme Court musings; ‘Swift boat ...
Kansas City Star, MO - 12 hours ago
It’s not a problem of labeling; it’sa problem with the product. Alcoholic-energy drinks, like Anheuser-Busch’s Tilt, pose dangers to more than just ...
Marker's blog
guardian.co.uk, UK - 16 hours ago
The debacle with ETS comes as no surprise to hundreds of markers. This was my seventh year of Key Stage 2 English SATs, and I've had no cause to grumble ...
Weekend Blog: On gay friends and those bloody faggots
Sofia Echo, Bulgaria - 17 hours ago
Two years ago, friends and family accepted my decision to return to live in Bulgaria with mixed feelings. There was the fear of inevitable frustrations and ...

ABC News
Justin's US Conservative Politics Blog
About - News & Issues, NY - 20 hours ago
By Justin Quinn, About.com Guide to US Conservative Politics Barack Obama's speech "The America We Love," which he delivered on Monday in Independence, ...
Blog Bits: Obama’s wrong on patriotism; Obama’s right on patriotism Kansas City Star

Jul 4, 2008

NEWS: JWT Wins Microsoft Account

JWT Wins Microsoft Account

Word Count: 263  |  Companies Featured in This Article: WPP Group, Microsoft, Interpublic Group

JWT, an ad firm owned by WPP Group PLC, has landed Microsoft Corp.'s business-solutions advertising account.

In 2006, Microsoft launched a $500 million business-to-business ad effort that carried the slogan "People Ready." The ads, created by McCann Erickson, highlighted new products and were intended to drive business away from rival IBM...

Jul 3, 2008

The New York Times' international bid, in print and online

Part 2: The New York Times' international bid, in print and online

Part 1 discussed how the planned changes at The New York Times and International Herald Tribunewill help the NYT's continuous news offerings, and how these changes could affect the organization and interaction between both newsrooms.

Part 2 examines how The New York Times intends to:
- Further compete against the Financial Times and Wall Street Journal internationally, and ways in which newspapers can reinforce their international reach.
- Use the strength of its online brand while safeguarding the IHT's popular print brand name.

The Weblog spoke to Jim Roberts, Digital Editor at The New York Times, and Martin Gottlieb, who was appointed to the newly created position of Editor, Global Edition.

How newspapers can become international brands, the NYT joins the race

Until now, the Times hasn't specifically catered to overseas advertisers and readers.

"We need to be agile," said IHT publisher Stephen Dunbar-Johnson, "to compete much more aggressively, nose to nose, with The Financial TimesWall Street Journal and anybody else who is competing for our readers and advertisers."

No doubt that the Times actually borrowed the continuous news outpost idea from the aforementioned competitors, which have been relying on their foreign bureaus to provide round the clock coverage.

The staff memo reaffirmed the NYT's "ambitious plans to expand in the region (Asia), particularly in India." In June, the IHT announced a partnership with the India-based Deccan Chronicle to print the Tribune's world business section in the Financial Chronicle.

With the rise of digital publishing, many news organizations are seeking to grow a previously inaccessible international readership by:

- launching a print edition abroad: several papers have rolled out editions away from home this past year, such as the FT's recently launched Middle East edition in Abu Dhabi, WSJ's partnership with business paper Mint in India, the Daily Mail's partnership with India Today to publish the Mail Today, or The Times of London's Polish edition.

- investing in an online international section: In Germany, referential weekly Der Spiegel launched anEnglish-language International edition on its website in 2004. Five fulltime staffers are dedicated to translating Der Spiegel's content and rewriting it with an international perspective, as well as doing their own international-minded original reporting (the full case study is featured in Trends in Newsrooms 2008). The Guardian adopted a different approach, by launching a separate, foreign-based, US website, Guardian America. The Guardian is reportedly considering similar ventures in other regions.

- simply reinforcing their focus on international news in their regular coverage: the Daily Telegraph's website in the UK, which was neck to neck with the Guardian in terms of traffic in April, claims nearly two thirds of its visitors are from overseas. A well-indexed website helps to brings in a significant number of 'light' international users through search engines.

Merging "co-branded" websites but not print: a branding issue

IHT NYT logo.gifThe NYT's approach is a combination of the first two strategies: the print IHT now serves as The Times' 'global edition' (see picture), while maintaining its trademark brand name. With the proposed online merger, the NYT could also follow the second route, by hosting an international edition online, without having to extensively change its workflows (see Part 1). 

The rationale to merge the websites is clearly explained in the memo: according to WebTrends, NYT's website boasts a strong international audience and 58 million global users, compared to iht.com's seven million.

"The global landscape for online news is highly competitive, making scale, speed and resources essential to success. Therefore we have determined that the best future online for the IHT and the NYT globally is through a joint international presence," said the memo. 

However, the memo doesn't explicitly say why this won't be the case in print:

"The IHT should become the international print edition of the NYT, whether it is formally branded that way or not."

The main issue at stake is one of branding. "In print, there have been at least a couple of studies that show that among Tribune newspaper readers there is a great identification with the brand, that the brand means something to readers," said Gottlieb.

"More than the name, what accompanies the name, an international perspective, a sense of calling the best stories from The Times and augmenting them with unique reporting," was a combination that many readers liked.

As news organizations seek to grow their international reach, this consideration probably holds true for many that have established a reputable brand name on a local or national scale. However strong the brand name, its association with a particular place or country can potentially play against that news outlet on the international scene...
Ed: Global brand, content, distribution, and ad sales - a tall order ...

NEWS: Death of newspapers? Readership has never been higher

US: Death of newspapers? Readership has never been higher

Nytimes.com blogger Timothy Egan points to an interesting paradox about newspapers: how can we be talking about the death knell for newspapers when readership for many publications has never been higher? 

We have all seen the stories of 1,000 jobs being cut in the American newspaper industry, just this week the LA Times announced 150 editorial layoffs. However, Egan points out, "all of this bad news is coming at a time when the audience and reach of many newspapers has never been greater."

Although the Internet may have damaged the traditional newspaper, it has also "increased the readership of some newspapers ten-fold." 

US Newspaper websites attracted more than 66 million unique visitors in the first quarter of 2008 -- a record, and a 12 percent increase on a year ago, according to Nielsen Online analysis. Forty percent of all Internet users visit a newspaper site. 

"A visitor, it should be noted, is different from a reader, but it's the measurement of choice. The Web is the future," writes Egan.

However, online advertising accounts for only around 10 percent of total ad revenue for newspapers. In its present form, the Web format does not generate enough revenue to support a full reporting team at a national newspaper. This is an area that newspapers need to focus on, and currently only a few newspapers are doing successfully.

Egan also discusses another interesting business model for the future; could newspapers go down the route of non-profit national broadcasters such as the BBCCBC and National Public Radio? He discusses the possibility of a quality, independent media no longer driven by the search for ad revenues...

Save the Press

On the lobby wall of the newspaper where I got my first reporting job are the Thomas Jefferson words that journalists like to trot out as Independence Day nears:

“Were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter.”

Of course, Jefferson also said the only reliable truths in newspapers were the advertisements, and that he was happiest when not reading the papers...

Jul 2, 2008

NEWS: AppLoop Tracks iPhone Users, Advertises Accordingly

AppLoop Tracks iPhone Users, Advertises Accordingly

With the launch of the new competitively priced 3G iPhone just around the corner, there has been a lot of speculation about the effect it will have on the mobile market. Since the iPhone has released its SDK, and added GPS capability, it is an opportune time for third-party companies and developers to take advantage of the possibilities that GPS offers. Throughout it all, venture capitalists have been pouring money into mobile-based solutions and analytics, and advertising platforms have been working to extend their reach to the iPhone and other handsets.
AppLoop is a startup launching today that will provide developers with a self-service platform for tracking mobile application usage and distributing ads on top of these apps. It also claims to be the first ever real-time, location-based mobile ad network. By leveraging the iPhone 3G’s native GPS capabilities, AppLoop will tell when a consumer is close to a specified business address and then serve up ads for that business accordingly. This enables businesses and restaurants to attract nearby consumers to their location with promotions, coupons, and discounts.

In addition to tailoring ads to locations, AppLoop offers developers a comprehensive set of statistics for developers to track usage, location, and session info. It provides custom action logging, which makes it possible for developers to track which of their features are used most often...

There are currently several competitors in the iPhone advertising space including Pinch Media, a startup that recently launched its initial set of tools for iPhone SDK developers. Pinch Media offers a similar iPhone analytics toolset to AppLoop, including a geographically-based set of statistics with usage and session data. However, the Union Square Ventures-backed startup does not yet offer custom action logging or an ad platform, though have signed up advertisers for an upcoming release.

AppLoop’s closest competitor is Smaato’s Open Mobile Advertising Platform (SOMA), which offers advertising and analytics for mobile applications, but do not offer location-based ads. Other mobile advertising networks include AdMobAd Infuse, and mKhoj.

Jul 1, 2008

NEWS: Gnip Launches To Ease The Strain On Web Services

Gnip Launches To Ease The Strain On Web Services

MyBlogLog founder Eric Marcoullier sold his company to Yahoo in January 2007 for an estimated $10 million. He left Yahoo in July 2007 with the seed of a new idea germinating in his head - “Make data portability suck less.”

The result of that thinking is Gnip, a new service we first mentioned in March 2008 when they announced seed funding.

Today the details are being revealed and the service is launching. Gnip isn’t a consumer service. Rather, it’s designed to sit in between social networks and other web services that produce a lot of user content and data (like Digg, Delicious, Flickr, etc.) and data consumers (like Plaxo, SocialThing, MyBlogLog, etc.) with the express goal of reducing API load and making the services more efficient.

A close analogy is a blog ping server (see our overview here). Ping servers tell blog search engines like Technorati and Google Blog Search when a blog has been updated, so the search engines don’t have to constantly re-index sites just to see if new content has been posted. Instead, the blog tells the ping server when it updates, which tells the search engines to drop by and re-index. The creation of the first ping server, Weblogs.com, by Dave Winer resulted in orders of magnitude better efficiency for blog search engines...

CBS, NBC, ABC, Fox - In Context With Internet Growth

Ed: Impressive numbers from CBS, NBC, ABC, and Fox; however, in context, growth counts. Facebook adds 250,000 members per day. This is the total circulation for a medium sized metropolitan newspaper or TV station.

How Facebook stays afloat adding 250,000 users per day

Posted by Dan Farber
A few weeks ago I talked with Jonathan Heiliger, vice president of technical operations at Facebook, about the challenge of innovating quickly and building stable infrastructure while 250,000 new members are added to the social network every day. Check out the video on ZDNet...

What are the challenges that you see--let's say you're at 80 million unique users per month, 250,000 being added per day and 50,000 transactions per second. What happens when you get to 500 million or a billion if you ever get there?
Heiliger: Hopefully, tremendous things. I think we can only look forward to those days...

Quincy Smith Named CEO Of CBS Interactive, CNET

quincy smith.jpgCBS completed its acquisition of CNET and chief executive Les Moonves named Quincy Smith, the dealmaker who pushed the acquisition, as CEO of the expanded digital unit.

Former CNET CEO Neil Ashe becomes president of CBS Interactive, reporting to Smith (SAI 100 #8). After the acquisition, CBS says it's now the 8th-largest Web network in terms of unduplicated unique visitors, according to ComScore.

The digital group will be organized into five vertical categories. How is CBS integrating its $1.8 billion acquisition? Per CBS's release:

Technology: CNET.com is the number one Web site in the computer and consumer electronics category, reaching more than 18 million people every month with daily premium content offerings. From the latest product reviews to breaking news from the digital world, as well as video and program downloads, CNET.com has become the leading destination for people looking to navigate today's digital world...

FIM Moving To New LA HQ In Playa Del Rey; Consolidating All LA Offices

imageFox Interactive Media (NYSE: NWS) is celebrating its third birthday* by finally announcing a new headquarters that should be big enough to house all of its LA staff in one place: 300,000-plus square feet in the Horizon at Playa Vista in Playa Del Rey. In an internal memo to his staff, FIM president Peter Levinsohn described the deal "the single biggest real-estate transaction in Los Angeles in the last 25 years. When we move to our new facility between June of 2009 and January of 2010, not only will we enjoy the distinction of having one of the largest corporate headquarters in the LA area, but we will be housed in a state-of-the-art facility that reflects our corporate identity and culture." The space includes "an exclusive gym, internal and external eating facilities, volleyball courts, and lots of green space ..." It will house about 2000 FIM employees, which is all its LA staff...

ABC Considers Major Online Newscast Overhaul; CBS Looks To CNET, Celebs For Boost

When it comes to all the tropes the broadcast networks continue to cling to, the national evening news shows are arguably the most in need of drastic change. As the shows' millions viewers are getting older and older, ad support is dwindling. While the networks' online versions of the nightly news were meant to invigorate the stale productions and attract younger viewers, it turns out that the webcasts are struggling as well. David Westin, ABC's news-division president, tells WSJ that the Disney-owned network isn't ready to pull the plug on the two-year-old World News webcasts, but ABC is clearly groping for ways to make its online news relevant. Westin: "I want to look at it and say, 'What have we learned from it?' 'How can we reconfigure it?' 'What can we do better?'"

-- ABC's numbers: Last Monday, internal traffic showed ABCNews.com logged 7.8 million pageviews, though the company claims it averages about 8.4 million. Within that, the 15-minuteWorld News webcast got 145,000 hits, while three million clicks went to the news site's photo gallery featuring shots of celebrities and "the pregnant man." Though general hard news has been met with indifference, sections devoted to health and politics have been relative bright spots, suggesting that ABC might try to focus on niche verticals.

-- CBS' (NYSE: CBS) solution: celebs and tech: CBS plans to overhaul its online news with some assistance from CNET (NSDQ: CNET) once the merger closes. And noticing the same insatiable appetite for celebrity news, CBS Interactive promises to deliver more of that kind of coverage with a new destination due "in coming weeks."...

Sports Shorts: ESPN360-Cricket; NBCU-Beijing; YES-NYT

-- ESPN360.com Will Carry Exclusive Live Cricket Coverage: ESPN360.com has the exclusive U.S. broadband rights to live and replay coverage of the 2008 Asian Cup Cricket Tournament from Pakistan June 24-July 6. The six-team, 13-match biennial tournament includes national teams from Pakistan, India, UAE, Bangladesh, Hong Kong and Sri Lanka. ESPN's (NYSE: DISCricinfo.comwill carry extensive highlights and provide 3D animation of each match.

-- Vista Media Center Users Can Download NBC Olympic Video HighlightsYesterday I wrote about NBC Sports demanding that audio and video from Olympics trials come down from other sites before Beijing. Here's an example of how NBC is trying to expand access to its own video, albeit in a very limited way: NBC Olympics on the Go, powered by Wavexpress, will allow viewers with Windows Vista Media Center to set up automatic syncing of NBC-provided channels to laptops for commuter viewing "up-to-HD quality on the go". No word on whether this will work with portable devices that usually can sync with Media Center but it doesn't sound like it. Release...

Jun 30, 2008

AOL's Platform-A Guarantees Ad Rates For Bebo, Facebook Widgets

AOL's Platform-A Guarantees Ad Rates For Bebo, Facebook

from Silicon Alley Insider by 

platforma.jpgSo far, advertising on social networks has been a big disappointment to all involved. But AOL's Platform-A still believes. The advertising arm of AOL (TWX) is offering a guaranteed 40-cent CPM for Bebo and Facebook application developers that off their ad inventory through Advertising.com's WIDGNET ad network. AOL promises to pay that rate for the first three visits for each unique user. (Typical ad network CPMs are closer to the 10-cent range).

Why do it? Well, corporate sibling Bebo--acquired for $850 million in March--certainly needs the dough and Facebook's many app developers can help Advertising.com build out its widget ad network, which it launched earlier this year.

Bebo opened its API to third-party developers earlier this year and AOL says that more than 4,000 apps are available within the service. Bebo also plans to integrate with OpenSocial in the coming month.

Among the app developers already selling inventory through Platform-A include RockYou, Scrabulous and Fotoflexer. AOL's deal is for U.S. visitors only, but the company says it plans to expand the offer to European Bebo and Facebook app developers later this summer.

ZenithOptimedia Lowers Its U.S. Advertising Forecast

Zenith: U.S. Ad Market Even Worse Than We Thought Three Months Ago

balloons.jpgZenith Optimedia dropped its U.S. ad forecast -- again -- and in the WSJ, research head Bruce Goerlich sums up why: "It's like a slow-leaking balloon. We are not seeing dramatic cuts; marketers are just being cautious."

The Publicis Groupe-owned media firm is ratcheting back back its 2008 ad forecast for the second time in three months. Zenith is now projecting 3.4% U.S. advertising growth in 2008 -- down from its last prediction of 3.7% in March and from a forecast of 4.1% in December.

What changed? Goerlich says he expected softness in automotive, real estate and financial services, but some unexpected categories, such as cosmetics, are also softening.

It's been a tough year for those in the business of making ad forecasts. Here's a rundown of some other recent downgrades:

  • May 30: Lehman drops 2008 U.S. online ad forecast from 24% growth to 23%
  • March 19: eMarketer cuts its 2008 online ad forecast 6%
  • September 14: Oppenheimer cuts 2008 U.S. online ad estimate 26% growth to 25%

Silver lining? Zenith didn't cut its estimate for online advertising, still expecting 26.7% growth in 2008.

ZenithOptimedia Lowers Its U.S. Advertising Forecast

Word Count: 398  |  Companies Featured in This Article: Publicis Groupe

ZenithOptimedia is revising downward its U.S. advertising forecast as economic conditions continue to worsen.

The Publicis Groupe-owned firm is predicting that ad spending in the U.S. will increase 3.4% in 2008. That figure is down from a 3.7% forecast Zenith made in March. Zenith says it is downgrading its U.S. forecast because ad softness is expanding beyond the automotive, financial and housing sectors -- industries that have been seeing ad weakness for several quarters...

Jun 29, 2008

Structure 08 - Cloud, EaaS, Server/Client

Cloud computing hangover

After attending GigaOM's Structure 08, I came away with a cloud-computing hangover. Just trying to define cloud computing is daunting given all the hype and companies thunderclapping...

I prefer the way Sun Chairman Scott McNealy talks about cloud computing. Ten years ago he was calling it the "big freakin' Webtone switch." Following is how he described it in December 2001:

That is the server, the storage, the operating system, the monitoring software, the clustering, the alternate pathing, multiple domaining, dynamic reconfiguration--and then it has a mail tone, a calendar tone, a news tone, an app server tone, and a directory tone. It has all of the different features of a big freaking WebTone switch and allows you to create this big jukebox. You can buy that all complete. Or you have one throat to choke and you can buy it all through a service provider that is SunTone certified. Or you can do what many IT directors do and they go out and buy the telephone switch by buying the chip from Intel, the operating system from Microsoft, the disk drive from EMC, the Compaq power supply, the Oracle database, the Novell directory, the BEA app server, the SAP, ERP, and CRM from here, blah-blah-blah, this, that, and the other thing, a SoundBlaster card from somebody else, the anti-virus uninstaller from Norton, and then go bring in IBM Global Services to try to make the whole thing work. Buy the big freaking WebTone switch.

At that time McNealy was talking about how enterprises provision their data centers and user services. Now we are seeing Amazon, Google and others take their data center expertise and make it available to developers and companies. Enterprises will be slower to move to the cloud, but they will eventually get there. Software-as-a-service providers are flourishing, and increasingly enterprises are considering off-premises, hosted solutions.

In essence, we are at the beginning of the age of planetary computing. Billions of people will be wirelessly interconnected, and the only way to achieve that kind of massive scale usage is by massive scale, brutally efficient cloud-based infrastructure.

Microsoft's big switch to server/client computing

Speaking at Structure 08, Debra Chrapaty, corporate vice president of Global Foundation Services at Microsoft, shed some light on the cloud-based infrastructure supporting Microsoft's online services.

Despite characterizations that Microsoft is stuck in the client/server world, the company is spending billions to apply the cloud, or server/client, model, where most of the computing happens in the cloud and some small amount on the client (offline support for applications). But until Microsoft Office and other applications are built for the cloud, the laggard characterization will continue to stick to the company's forehead.

Debra Chrapaty, corporate vice president of Global Foundation Services at Microsoft.

(Credit: Dan Farber)

Microsoft has one of the biggest collections of Web sites, with 550 million users, 2 billion search queries, and 10 billion page views per month, as well as 8 billion messages on Microsoft Messenger per day. The company deploys 10,000 new servers per month on average to keep up with demand, Chrapaty said. She broke down Microsoft's model for building infrastructure into a three-letter acronym.

The cloud is all about GET--Growth, Efficiency, and Trust, Chrapaty said. In terms of growth, data centers are a $300 million to $500 million investment. "You have to make every kilowatt count," she said, noting that Microsoft has 35 criteria, such as network egress, power, and available staff, to determine locations for data centers.

Efficiency involves tools for manageability, operability, and sustainability, which translate into cost savings. "It's nice to go to Steve (Ballmer) and say you can save millions of billions of dollars," she said. Trust is having the security, reliability, availability, performance, and familiarity with the local languages and markets, Chrapaty explained.

Trust is also the user community feeling that privacy will be respected as people live their lives on line. That is a challenge that every large site will have to grapple with long after technology issues are resolved.

The new geek chic: Data centers

... Jonathan Yarmis, vice president of advanced, emerging and disruptive technologies at AMR Research, said changes in the next five years will make the past Internet revolution feel like child's play. He didn't explain exactly how the next five years will be more revolutionary than evolutionary, but outlined the convergence of several technology trends.

The combination of social networking, mobility, alternative business models (advertising and different license and revenue models) and cloud and stream computing are mutually reinforcing trends that are driving innovations. The average life of a cell phone is 21 months, which allows users to take advantage of improvements in infrastructure.

"Cloud computing is not just for software as a service, but EaaS--Everything as a Service. Many things as discrete products become cloud-based offerings. It offers us an independence of device and location that is profoundly important," Yarmis said. Spoken like a true analyst--come up with another way to market a concept that is also known as on demand, cloud, SaaS, or utility computing.

One of the infrastructure challenges is not just storing and analyzing the growing body of data but reading, reacting, and responding in real time to disposable streams of data, Yarmis explained. The network and software needs to get much smarter and faster to enable real-time filtering and streaming for every user...

Amazon's blueprint for cloud computing

... Werner Vogels, vice president and CTO at Amazon.com, is talking about why Amazon is in the cloud computing business, how it got there, and why customers should want it. Instead of every company or developer doing the heavy lifting, dealing with the "muck" as Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos likes to say, Amazon opened up its software-as-a-service stack (Amazon Web Services) and infrastructure (Elastic Compute Cloud, S3, and SimpleDB) to external parties.

I've heard the Amazon story many times, but Vogels offered a few new tidbits, such as S3 is storing 18 billion objects and how Amazon thinks about building to its 1,000 services.

"Amazon built these services internally as tools, not as a framework. Each team can use whatever development tools they need. Infrastructure services need to be very generic and people can switch to competing services internally," Vogels said. For example, users could work with Amazon EC2 and a different storage service than S3...

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