Those Sincere yet hilarious PAAS People!

The guys over at WorkXpress.com are doing a little business continuity reassurance work today by posting a blog article about how portable their product and data architecture is, and how that addresses issues of service continuity. Well, maybe they are new to the real issues of the CLOB application world where failover means instant recovery. I am sure they are working hard on an innovative PAAS platform, but until they understand what the AS400 services crowd understood long ago – continuity means what it says, continuous or predictable Resurrection of services within a specified time frame. As to the usability issues of WorkXpress, see Jane Mcarty’s excellent blog here.

Assuring people that your cloud, PAAS, SAAS solution is just great, is no reassurance at all – it MAY work great, and MAY be reliable MOST of the time, but, if the company and the application are not rated and certified, if your business’ books are not open to any third party (so as to ascertain liquidity) such reassurances are just whitewash. See the original WorkXpress blog post here.

My reply to their post:

“That code can be exported is comforting, but in and of itself does not comprise a complete continuity solution. If a client wants to take a work group app and trade an incumbent architecture for A PAAS, one needs seamless cut-over. Seamless fail over from PASS platform to backup boxes, or to alternative cloud hosts are non-trivial. Saying that data and platform logic is exportable is less than half the battle to CLOB (capital line of business) certified reliability.

Not one or hardly any of the PAAS vendors have been rated, certified. Saying the platform code will be in escrow is also just potential whitewash that does nothing to address the issue of imminent failover. WorkExpress might be a great platform, but merely stating: “WorkXpress is committed to its customers and the quality of its product. To this end it is a privately held, revenue generating company that to date has not received venture capital funding, and is not under pressures to behave in ways that counter to its mission of customers and product…” The foregoing merely says in other words that Workxpress is unrated by a third party that audits reliability. You guys might have a great product, but for the mission critical CLOB applications, you are in the same boat as any other unrated, unaudited PAAS platform.”

If you are contemplating going the PAAS route, and handing not only your data, but your operations to an unaudited third party that proudly states that they are “privately capitalized and profitable, therefore good for you!”, be careful, very careful indeed.

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The Strategist: Certification Services for the Cloud – Reliability, Continuity, and Indemnification Against Outages

The Strategist: Certification Services for the Cloud – Reliability, Continuity, and Indemnification Against Outages

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I am going to write about a project that got stranded on my research pile when a well funded client decided that they did not wish to complete the contractual research allocation. The research directives encompassed finding a preliminary business model for underwriting business continuity risk within the rubric of cloud applications and hosting services. A concomitant directive was to research new and existing technological models that would offset the risk of such underwriting programs.

So there was an insurance underwriting and actuarial side, and a real systems side. I was to uncover the insurance industry‘s perspective on underwriting SAAS /PAAS / Cloud, etc. I was to bring to the partner underwriters technical proposals that would offset the risk. The project was on a roll and then still birthed. I think it still has merit. I think that the failure of several VC funded net storage start ups points to this, and that even recent hours-long outages in the ‘clouds of the mighty’, should indicate that this analysis was not a complete waste of time. I certainly uncovered gaping holes in the standard insurance industry lines when underwriting business interruptions and continuity for advanced hosting and SAAS.

I am under NDA as to the identity and specific plans of the client, but what I learned, and the contacts I made, cannot encumber my portfolio of analysis and career endeavors. I have that in writing, and the former client, admitting to the invocation of an early termination clause,  is cool with that – bigger crises on the home front and all.

We analysts wouldn’t be worth much if we couldn’t (at least sometimes) feel things coming ’round the bend. Before the words “economic crisis” became a meme for all subsequent business failures, many esteemed colleagues felt there was excess capital flowing into redundant business models (YASN and YAVSS, for the initiated). This was an evil wind with bad portents. Too much VC cake was handed over to the ‘Valley Undertakers”, i.e., entrepreneurs who had fostered serial failures, break-evens, and maybe one or two small M&A’s, but who in the big picture had no business getting that much access to capital. So that’s the tableaux we have set at around 3/07.

I was working for an R&D lab in South San Francisco when my self-billed services (product strategy under contract) started softening. I was counting on an implied renewal to extend a six month term to 18-24 months. Well, they said they loved me.I was not alone in the exodus from Gateway Blvd. Continue reading