Zeitgeist

Zeit·geist = spirit, essence of a particular time

A collection of food-for-thought posts and articles on technology, business, leadership and management. 

Cloud Computing o "la Nube"

Carlos Ruiz me envió este enlace a su blog acerca de Cloud Computing, un gran trabajo y un profundo análisis de este mercado en el contexto telco. Aprovechando la coyuntura, y ya que tenía previsto hacerlo de todas maneras, quería mencionar cierta peculiaridad de RIM que poca gente conoce. A RIM se la conoce por sus afamadas BlackBerries, prolíficos dispositivos que se hicieron mundialmente famosos por el correo electrónico en movilidad. Sin embargo, el verdadero ADN de RIM no esta ahí, tanto las BlackBerries, como el propio servicio de correo electrónico surgieron después.

El verdadero origen de RIM fue habilitar un canal de datos de "vuelta" (o de subida) en los albores del GSM, básicamente se trataba de dotar a los archipopulares buscas o "pagers" de los 90 de un canal de retorno de datos que permitiese ahorrarse los abultados costes de las llamadas de larga distancia en USA.

Para los más jóvenes: un busca o beeper es básicamente, un dispositivo celular con una pequeña pantalla que recibe y muestra un mensaje corto, a la vez que un aviso sonoro (beep), cuyo texto es enviado a través de una red móvil específica. Se usaba para localizar a la gente, (de hay su apodo) que al recibir el aviso, corrían (corríamos) al teléfono fijo más cercano para devolver la llamada a la oficina (los móviles todavía no estaban popularizados, GSM estaba empezando a comercializarse).

Si se consiguiese habilitar un canal de retorno de tal forma que se pudiese responder desde el busca, supondría un ahorro enorme en costes de llamadas de larga distancia (buena oportunidad de negocio que Mike Lazaridis supo identificar rápidamente).

Se requería de un servidor en la nube y su correspondiente capa de software que gestionase (insisto, desde la nube) aquel canal de retorno de datos, y proporcionase ese servicio de respuesta a los "pagers".

Pero claro, una vez que tienes el servicio en marcha, necesitas facilitar la tarea de responder desde el busca a los usuarios, así que, ¿por qué no ponerle un teclado a un pager?... En ese momento, nació la primera BlackBerry, consecuencia necesaria para poder usar el servicio en la nube.

RIM ha sido empresa pionera en los servicios desde la nube, es su core competence y su principal ventaja competitiva. Ventaja que le permite facturar mas de un 20% de sus revenues solo por ese concepto, servicios.

A continuación unas definiciones básicas sobre Cloud Computing y una descripción rápida de muchas de las cosas que RIM hace desde la nube, soportado por su infraestructura, la que proporciona el servicio BlackBerry y que como en Star Trek - the motion picture, arrancó como el primer voyager hace mas de una década y media y se ha convertido ya en una gran red global que gestiona mas de 22 Petabytes al mes (en la pélicula el voyager 6 vuelve a la tierra en forma de gigantesca nave hipertecnológicamente avanzada). - What is "Cloud Computing"?

The basic definition is leveraging non-local computing resources on-demand to deliver valuable experiences faster, cheaper and more flexibly.

- What technologies make up Cloud Computing?

The common technical jargon splits companies, technologies and innovation as follows:

- Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS):  The ability to rapidly add, remove and repurpose servers.  This is an approach we do and are investing further in in the NOC of RIM.

- Platform as a Service (PaaS):  Further split into Cloud Compute (processing) and Cloud Storage (data housing).  Push, BEAM, the App World Vendor Portal and our Ad service are examples of Compute and as a Storage service, Protect provides the beginning of it.

- Data as a Service (DaaS): Basically structured data that can be pulled for various purposes.

- Software as a Service (SaaS): App elements that can be embedded in other things.  This usually applies to Web environments, but the BBID agent, Ad SDK, BBM Social Platform and Universal Search all serve this end.

- Why does it matter?

The first reason is that Users are becoming accustomed to "multi-screen", persistent experiences, as has been driven by Web 2.0.  The second is that by processing remotely, the computing costs go way down so more innovative and richer things can be offered.

- What role does RIM play?

The three things we need to think about are:

- Meeting Users' expectations for Cloud-based / multi-screen experiences

- Supporting our B2B Partners and Customers (Developers, CIOs)  who require Cloud connectivity for their businesses

- Leveraging our Cloud investments to help more things Users find valuable every day fit better with Mobile

- Why are we good at it?

RIM made a head start and, over the course of more than a decade, they have optimized, and continue to optimize, connectivity on the BlackBerry smartphones.

Leadership in efficiency, platform standards, immediacy and security all are integral to The Cloud + Mobile.  So, RIM has more than 70M subscribers of the BlackBerry Cloud today,  passing more than 22 Petabytes of data, per month, through RIM's APN / Relay infraestructure.

- What is the current Cloud proposition?

For Consumers:

- BlackBerry ID: User's credentials and Profile stored in RIM Cloud to be leveraged to identify the User to various applications (integration with the entire portfolio).  More importantly, as we proceed with integration, this will enable us to accelerate, expand and enrich the Cloud offer

- BlackBerry Protect: backs up User's data remotely, allows remote administration

- App World: Users' purchase history is loaded to the cloud so that it can persist across device switches

- Payments service: Users' "wallet" (choice of Payment instrument) stored in the cloud, pulled on demand, payment processed remotely as well

- BIS Email: Users' Email account associations are stored in the cloud; the cloud processes both push of messages and message status back to the source

- Gist and Tungle: Users' contacts and calendar data from multiple sources sent to the cloud, aggregated and sent back down.  Updates pulled on demand.  Also, a true multi-screen experience with smartphone and tablet apps and Web interfaces.

- BBM: Users can back up their Contact Lists to the cloud for easy recovery.

- BlackBerry News: Catalogue of Feeds is stored and served from RIM Cloud, User subscriptions are served as are User-targeted recommendations

- BlackBerry Maps: Map data is served up efficiently remotely, PoI data constantly updated

- BlackBerry Travel: User's travel plans are sent up to the cloud, processes, returned to the device as data for the app, then the cloud processes and sends updates to the device in real-time

- BlackBerry Traffic: The cloud processes travel time based on crowdsourced data sent to the cloud, and provides changes in real-time

- Podcasts: Users' subscriptions are stored in the cloud for persistent history

- BlackBerry Radio: Radio catalogue is pulled from RIM Cloud

- WebSL: Browser-based console talks to RIM Cloud to obtain and pull down software updates for the device

For Enterprises:

- Office 365 integration: RIM Cloud-hosted interface to MSFT Cloud Email with management capabilities

-  BlackBerry Management Center: Web-based Admin console for SMB devices, processed through RIM Cloud and the Internet

For Developers:

- Push Service: Allows a Developer to store registered devices in RIM cloud, send push requests to it and have RIM process and forward to the device

- BBM Social Platform: Exposes the Consumer BBM proposition to embed in apps

- Location Service: Allows a Developer to query the RIM Cloud to find return the User's current address (or lat-long associated with an address)

- App World Vendor portal: Allows a Developer to load applications / in-app content, determine status of submission and approval and performance of their content in market

- Ad Service: Allows a Developer to request ads from the cloud to embed in applications

- Analytics Service: Provides a mechanism to send app usage data to the cloud so that the Developer can view and process aggregate reports

- BEAM: Leverages the RIM cloud to intermediate and process data sync, push and sharing between devices, apps and Enterprise data stores

- Browser Proxy: Server-side processing of Web data for faster and more efficient delivery to the device Browser

(One interesting nugget about RIM's approach to the Cloud that differentiates them from the other smartphone platforms is that their strength in connectivity allows Developers to build richer applications, rather than just focusing on non-connected device experiences.)

Many Partner Cloud experiences and offerings are effectively mobilized by RIM's unique technology:

- Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, Foursquare, LinkedIn, YouTube

- Windows Live Messenger, Yahoo! Messenger, AIM, ICQ, Google Talk

- Bing, Wikipedia, Dictionary.com

- eBay, Amazon, PayPal, numerous financial institutions

- Yelp, OpenTable, Urban Spoon, Fandango, Ticketmaster

- Airlines and travel companies

- SAP, Salesforce

- Social games and high score servers

- and many more

Cloud products coming:

- BBM Music: Song catalogue stored in the cloud, as well as ratings, comments and playlists, facilitating the social sharing of music