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Thursday, September 27, 2007

A Day of Leading-edge Thinking

Today I attended two tech events at MIT in Cambridge, MA that coincidentally aligned on the same day.

So much of my time this past year building Sonian has been working with a virtually distributed workforce across multiple timezones. We leverage the many great hosted workspace tools and real-time chat to stay in sync, and keep the communication flowing. So it's refreshing to get out of the virtual and into the 3-d physical world for some good old-fashioned idea sharing.

This morning I attended the MIT Enterprise Forum's "Fireside Chat" with Ann Winblad, co-founding partner of Hummer Winblad Venture Partners.

Some interesting ideas flowed from this discussion. There was a lot of validation from the investor community about the role of software as a service (SaaS) to solve mid-market IT problems. Sonian's built on this premise, and we know we're on the right path to big time successes. The amount of innovation coming from the SaaS providers is quickly eclipsing the traditional installed software vendors. You can see this trend looking at the attendees for two recent developer conferences. Salesforce.com's "Dreamforce" developer conference and Intel's developer conference occurred at the same time in adjacent venues. These events by their very core nature cater to different audiences, so it wasn't a problem to deice which event to attend. Your either in one camp or another.

Salesforce attracted seven thousand people interested in developing applications on the Salesforce hosted platform. Intel attracted five thousand developers wanting to know all about the latest in writing code for Intel CPUs. I thought this was a very interesting and note-worthy observation. I'm saving more discussion on this topic for future blog posts.

The second event was an Amazon Web Services (AWS) five-hour mini boot camp on working with their various web services. I was really looking forward to this event in order to meet many Amazon Web Services executives that I only knew by email and phone. Although we have been using their services for many months now, any time an opportunity is available to make in-person connections with a valued business partners should be taken advantage of.

Amazon's Web Services business unit (AWS) is a bit of an enigma for most who haven't been following the latest SaaS trends. AWS operates almost like a separate entity from the larger e-commerce operations. AWS is creating discreet web service building blocks (storage, compute, queuing) out of core Amazon technology that has been tested in real-time, real-world conditions. These building blocks can be used to create an infinite number of technology solutions to solve critical business problems.

These building blocks are like natural resources that can be harnessed to solve IT problems more elegantly and cost effectively for both the customer and the service provider. It's a Win Win situation. The solutions launched from the AWS environment can be targeted at any audience, whether it be social networking, media management, or enterprise IT.

The next wave of enterprise IT innovation will be built on these types of scalable, reliable platforms.

Sonian has created a digital content archive platform with the AWS modules and we are using this platform to solve the near-term email archive problem, while also planning to offer archiving for IM, SharePoint, wiki's, blogs and file systems. Sonian is the durable search able enterprise repository.

Future blog posts will expand on AWS and the benefits of using grid computing to manage archival data.

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