If you are looking for my blog, "Journey through a Burning Mind", you can find it here.

merrill_lynch_logoSo, having spent my entire career so far in research environments, the time for the big change finally arrived: I made the move to the financial sector.

About a month ago I joined Merrill Lynch (now part of Bank of America) in their Electronic Trading Technology group, a vibrant team the builds the platforms and applications for electronic trading in the EMEA region.

So far things are very exciting, the learning curve is very steep indeed, and I hope I will spend some very enjoyable time over there. Oh, and of course, it is Canary Wharf that I am based at now :-)
Right. Having spent two great years at Fujitsu Laboratories of Europe, I felt like the time for a change had arrived. I am leaving research behind and embarking on new adventures! Tomorrow Wednesday 11th May is my last day at the labs, and starting from next week, new responsibilities and new work colleagues await me!

More details next week…
Yes, Google has removed the scheduled downtime clause from their Google Apps for Business SLAs. That’s how confident they are about their Cloud services availability. They’re treating all downtime as unscheduled, for which their customers should be compensated for.

Confidence stemming from the impressive 99.984% availability in 2010, which translates in only 7 minutes of downtime per month -including intermittent connectivity for small periods of time, which in most cases may not even be noticed by end users!

This signals a few things. First, this is the first time a major vendor does not include regular maintenance in their SLAs, choosing instead to compensate their business customers for any kind of downtime, no matter how small or seemingly insignificant this may have looked in the (not so distant) past.

Second, it gets Google that much closer to achieving unprecedented availability performance, close to dial tone phone system as they semi-jokingly put it.

And third, it further bolsters the availability argument in favour of Cloud services, and alleviates many such fears by enterprise grade customers. In fact, Google Mail fared much better than many on-premises email solutions, and was a good 46 times more available than Microsoft Exchange!

Similar success stories will certainly help improve the Cloud’s (as if it’s an entity on its own) reputation when it comes to reliability. Now. What’s left? Security, compliance, performance………
Since everyone is making predictions for 2011, I decided to jump in this yearly bandwagon myself… So, with limited liability and not too much analysis, these are my predictions for 2011 when it comes to technology and the cloud market.
  • Private clouds will remain in the literature and continue to pop into existence and actually serve a purpose, despite the pushback by some “experts” in the field, while in the public cloud domain, apart from the runaway market leaders, we may start seeing some “secondary” winners as well. Expect a good number of acquisitions in platform and software cloud offerings as well, as the battle for niche markets is to continue in a frenzy and bigger companies consolidating sectors or preparing comprehensive offerings.

  • We should see even more interest in mobile devices, sensors, and the edge of the networks for integration, business productivity, and data source exploitation purposes. Further, and slightly related, many more companies will try their luck in some corner of the healthcare domain which is going to attract even more interest as time goes by.

  • Even more uptake but crucially, better exploitation of social media for companies, mostly for branding and advertising, but also tapping on on feedback loops and for improving customer relations as well.

  • Unfortunately, Vivek Kundra struggling to upgrade and update the ageing and fragmented US Government infrastructure. The vision and the plan are good, but implementation is exceptionally difficult…

  • A debatable one, but I think there will still be no widely adopted industry-derived Cloud standards, despite efforts by DMTF, NIST, OASIS, CSA and I don’t know who else. We will probably see a draft or two, but final mature versions, let alone standard-driven implementations will not probably arrive in 2011. That said, OGF has released the community driven Open Cloud Computing Interface specification, and there is now a good number of implementations. However, every major vendor (and hence the vast majority of customers) are waiting for the aforementioned efforts to produce something…
One of my colleagues has also suggested that this is the year that Javascript will start to invade and make a stronghold in the server side domain as well.

We’ll revisit in a year’s time and see what has happened..