Built for the cloud or moving to the cloud

Exciting times for CIOs and business executives – real options from both Microsoft and Google to support their information workers.

For those brought up on Microsoft, with what seems like unlimited (if somewhat daunting) functionality in the Office suite, it always seems that the Google Apps suite is ‘dumbed down’ – you are required to give up some functionality.   On the other hand it may seem like nearly everything you actually  need to do can be done in Google Apps – and there’s less to learn.

The cloud seems to have caught fire.  Microsoft has been pushing aggressively on its BPOS offering and the pricing has become a lot sharper.  Meanwhile Google has been busily beefing up its sales and support resources around Google Apps.

Either way both offerings have many attractions for the CIO – in terms of taking away headaches around upgrades, storage, support, etc.

And both offer lots of functionality in the collaboration type space – wikis, blogs, etc.

Side by side with this there are all the other players e.g. zoho with a very comprehensive offering for the information worker – also priced on a subscription basis.  And for project management basecamp seems to be getting a great deal of traction.  And one goes back to the previous thought – are some of these simpler, built for the cloud, product offerings easier to use, if somewhat ‘dumbed down’?

Interesting piece in Forbes re Google, ‘When Google runs your life’.  Seems to me that no more than Microsoft pushing wall-to-wall MS, Google is inevitably pushing google wall-to-wall.  Apologies for unfortunate use of outdated imagery – probably should be cloud-2-cloud.

I think much of the elegance of the web 2.0 applications has been their simplicity and ease of use.  That has driven initial uptake. Products such as googlewave, in trying to deliver a very rich solution, risk contradicting some of this.  There are similar risks in any vendor looking to achieve cloud-2-cloud dominance.

Seems to me that what the internet and the cloud  should be offering – as they evolve – are  easier and more effective ways to access resources (people, knowledge) – both inside and outside the organisation in which you work/ study/ volunteer.  Cloud based computing is part of this.  I think as such the winning solutions may be ones built from scratch for the cloud, expecting to coexist in the cloud, not expecting to dominate.

Understanding semantic web

Have to say that I think Hatem Mahmoud has done a great job in contextualising and explaining web 3.0/ semantic web in this presentation.

Takes you through web 1.0, through to 2.0 and on to 3.0.  Explains why web 3.0 is required and gives some current examples.

Worth spending 15 minutes – for anyone new to semantic web.

This 6 minute video is also an excellent introduction to the semantic web.

Helping people make the web work for them

Watched an excellent presentation from Stefan Decker at last year’s International Semantic Web Conference (Karlsruhe).  Stefan Decker is the director of the DERI project in NUI, Galway.

The presentation addressed, inter alia, the lack of excitement about semantic web.  My key takeaway from his talk was that semantic web is about networking knowledge for the benefit of PEOPLE.  I think in getting caught up describing things in terms of computers being able to process information on sites thought use of various standards (not of interest to anyone except the technical community) etc we have lost the focus on the fact that what we really want is more collaboration, more productivity, more discoveries.  Semantic web initiatives have an end game of helping people make more use of the information.

Just looked at a nice 3 minute video from Binaryplex – promoting their beta product Hivemind.  I do not know what the underlying technologies are.  They do not even mention the worked ‘semantics’ in their three minutes.  But what it is about is helping people to find expertise and, more importantly, experts in an organisation.  Recognising that people, for any number of reasons, may not update their profiles within an organisation the product seeks to address this gap, in the background.

Semantically exciting?

ReadWriteWeb sets out its Top 10 Semantic Web Products of 2009.

Was I excited?

On a personal level I have found a number of these products useful e.g. feedly.  And they do represent some interesting development and practical examples of various elements of the semantic toolbox.

But not that exciting.

Working with business executives looking to uderstand the relevance of semantic web to them not sure that this range of products will excite them.  In fact don’t think it will.

I am beginning to think that we should think of semantics in terms of a set of tools and standards designed to enable us to get more from the web.  Web 3.0 seems to me to suggest a new web – I don’t see that at present.