Monday, April 30, 2012

Report Shows Quarterly Decline in Video Rental Revenue; Digital Streaming Increases -

Report Shows Quarterly Decline in Video Rental Revenue; Digital Streaming Increases -

The consumer space is leading the move to stateless data, this time in the case of movie rentals.  Remember, the core idea of stateless is that the product--the movie--and the means of delivery/consumption--the DVD--are decoupled.  Streaming movies from the cloud can be consumed on a smartphone, a laptop, or a home TV; they are no longer connected to a physical DVD.

Note these first quarter numbers from the New York Times report:

  • Revenue from digital streaming, up 545%
  • DVD rentals from stores, down more than 39%
  • DVD rentals from services like Netflix, down 48%
For perspective, the last physical Blockbuster location in my area closed last week, while we rented two HD movies from online last week, the exact winner/loser pattern predicted in "The stateless revolution comes to the world of content and media."

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Laser System Paints Information on the Road Ahead  - Technology Review

Image from Microvision by way of Technology Review
In the era of you, you know more, in more places.  Here's a great example, a new technology that promises to make heads-up displays in cars more affordable.

Laser System Paints Information on the Road Ahead  - Technology Review:

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Saturday, April 28, 2012

ReadWriteCloud: Consumerization vs. Vendor Lock-In

Author John Yapaola
image from ReadWriteCloud
Consumerization vs. Vendor Lock-In

"Restricting information flow is a flawed control tactic doomed to fail," says author John Yapaola in his analysis of the way corporations  approach the growing "do it yourself" movement by their own business units and employees.

This is all pure "era of you" effect: each of us has access to more information, more choice, and more power in our business and personal lives.  Enterprises who wake up and deal with it will succeed, those that don't face an ever-growing downward spiral of control efforts, failed projects, and disengaged workers who will jump ship at the earliest opportunity.

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Thursday, April 26, 2012

Wired Magazine interviews Marc Andreesen

The Man Who Makes the Future: Wired Icon Marc Andreessen | Epicenter |

The stateless future means that applications and data live on the web, and run on almost any device.

Mosaic creator, Netscape founder, and venture capitalist Marc Andreesen doesn't say that in those specific words, but in this excellent cover story from the new issue of Wired Magazine, he comes close: "The application model of the future is the web application model. The apps will live on the web. Mobile apps on platforms like iOS and Android are a temporary step along the way toward the full mobile web."

Andreesen has been right about almost everything he's predicted; click through to Wired and learn why he thinks bandwidth is a critical enabler of the future, and his vision of business in a fully web-enabled world.

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Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Sunday, April 22, 2012

An Insider's Guide to Technology Analysts--from ReadWriteWeb

It's very rare I see anyone else commenting on the actual business of research, so this article is a great find, with some very useful advice.  A former analyst is candid about the business drivers behind analyst firms, and offers recommendations to help you get the most from the analysts you speak with.  Excellent read, well worth your time.

An Insider's Guide to Technology Analysts:

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Thursday, April 19, 2012

Mozilla: Brazilians to get first phones running Boot to Gecko -- Engadget

B2G image from Engadget
Mozilla: Brazilians to get first phones running Boot to Gecko -- Engadget:

Here's an update on Mozilla's Boot 2 Gecko project, the stateless mobile phone.  Since one of the biggest promises of the B2G project is smartphones cheap enough for emerging economies, it's a surprise to see the prediction that the Brazilian deployment will not be a low-cost phone.

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Tuesday, April 17, 2012

5 steps to stateless

Stateless data, applications, and devices are maturing so rapidly, and have such clear business benefits, I believe it’s time for businesses to take action.   You can begin to realize those benefits almost immediately, and you can make sure your organization is aligning itself in the present for a future that is certainly on the way.

In the stateless model, data and applications run in a private or public cloud.  The devices you use to consume them have only two main functions:

  • connect you to the cloud.
  • provide a user interface that lets you access and interact with your applications and data.

This article looks at 5 fundamentals of the stateless future.

For businesses, the benefits are profound.  Security goes up, because data is managed centrally, not scattered on thousands of hard drives and memory chips, where it is subject to malfunction, loss, or theft.  Application updates are done on one machine.  Devices become almost interchangeable, with simple configuration needs. Management costs go down, as do the costs of the devices themselves.  A four-year-old computer can be kept in service, since it must now do simpler work.   Answering the call of users to bring their own devices becomes easier, since for the most part you can deliver your entire work environment securely to any browser.  Stateless is "your business as a service."

Of all the trends that will impact business, and of all the things that will benefit business, stateless is among the easiest choices.  It offers clear rewards and very quick payback, and can be implemented with iteration rather than a single giant project.  

This illustration plots elements of the stateless future into four tracks, from legacy to pure stateless.  The latter isn’t quite possible yet, and few people reading this will find themselves purely in the former; it's the middle--the “act now zone”--where action is possible, and needed.

1. Data: cloud before data center before local device
The local machine is about the worst possible place for data to live; we still follow the practice largely out of habit, because it was necessary in the days when connectivity and bandwidth were primitive.  Neither is true today.  User data storage offerings are maturing in both the consumer and the enterprise spaces; where data storage from legacy client/server applications is dependent on local installation, move toward desktop virtualization (see below.) Of all the things that offer quick benefits and move you toward stateless, getting data off local machines offers the easiest path and the quickest deployment.

2. Applications: web before app before fat client
Fat client applications represent almost everything that’s wrong with legacy IT.  Let’s count the sins: Resource Hog.  Security risk. Nightmare to install and maintain. Constrains choice of deployed hardware, especially when companies are faced with user demands to “bring their own.” Fat clients on local machines were a miracle 20 years ago, a burden today.

Faced with that reality, it’s easy to be seduced by all the current hype around the “app internet.”  Programs available in an “app store” seem so much lighter-weight, almost elegant in their point-click-run simplicity and the storefront environment in which consumers devour them.  

But as they stand now, they only solve a few problems.  Some are only available for one ecosystem, like Apple’s iOS.  Or if they are widely available, say for Android as well, they’re sold by different vendors, each within its own walled garden.   In some cases, they use cloud storage of data as the default, which is on the right track.  But they still must be locally installed, still must sync data from the cloud to the local device, and still need endless device-by-device updates.  

Contrast that with the stateless, web-delivered alternative:  available on any device you sign in to, maintained and updated centrally, does not need to sync data, and needs only a browser on the other end in order to work.  With the advent of HTML5, web based apps are growing in power very rapidly, and are already being deployed preferentially in some cases.  Do not make the strategic mistake of investing in new applications that can’t be delivered to a browser, or else risk getting trapped in the same client/server problems of the past.

One interesting interim step is used by SaaS provider; one Podio app is installed locally on iOS or Android, and provides a gateway into a big range of cloud-sourced apps in the Podio portfolio.  Install one app locally, run hundreds from the cloud.  Look for more of these “adaptive” app gateways in the near future as a bridge technology until pure web apps mature.

This is an important point: cloud-delivered, browser-accessed data and applications are not purely stateless, but they abstract most of the old problems away from the local machine, making it possible for you to deliver many stateless benefits now.

3. Desktops: browser before virtualized before local
We graduated from command-line computer interfaces  in the 1980s.  Even my Commodore 128 had a primitive mouse-controlled “click on icons” interface called GEOS.  For most practical purposes, everything else we’re used since the C:/ prompt is a desktop.  The multiple screens on smartphones are desktops, so is the work area on a tablet.  

It’s a visual interface between the user and whatever the user is doing; now that we’ve had desktops for 30+ years, it’s a comfortable place.    However, it’s no secret that the trend in technology has been away from the desktop as we know it for many years  So much so, that for many current knowledge workers, a browser sitting on a desktop is where we spend most of our time at work.  You may work all day in IE, Firefox, or Chrome, and never need to look at the underlying desktop once. The metaphor of the desktop and that of the tabbed browser window are merging.

Many of your needs can already be met in a browser, without a desktop at all: e-mail, several business applications,  and most office productivity applications like word processing and presentations.  In that case, the browser essentially is the desktop.  That’s a sort of “stateless light” and represents progress.  

But let’s be realistic. Many important parts of your business are client/server, and will be part of your portfolio for years to come.  You can still begin the stateless journey today by shifting to virtualized desktops, in which a licensed copy of a traditional fat OS runs on a server, complete with your legacy client/server applications, delivered in stateless form to a browser.  

At that point, when your users get their entire experience online, you’re free of concern about local updates beyond the operating system and the browser itself.  While desktop virtualization is often promoted as a cost-saving measure, I would argue that the truly compelling case is because you can then keep your whole environment secure, do updates and backups all at once, and make it available anywhere on a “need to use” basis--in a browser.  Again, a solid step in which many benefits of the stateless future can be delivered today.

In an interesting turn of events, technology is now coming full circle, not just to a “post-PC” era, but a “post-browser” one as well.  The new Aura window manager in Google’s Chrome OS remains completely stateless, but has a familiar desktop interface.  “Browser” was an application that ran on a traditional fat operating system, but in the stateless world, in which you’re just delivering a user interface to cloud based data and apps,  you can make the UI look like whatever you wish.  In Aura, a “browser” delivers a “desktop,” upon which sit “browser” windows.  It looks like the past, but it offers the benefits of the future.  

4. Roles: deploy to the need
Not all parts of the stateless future are here yet. Neither are all parts evenly distributed, and there are a few needs that argue for the old style “data/application/machine in one.”  

What roles are “stateless ready” right now?  Any knowledge worker or administrative/clerical role that primarily works in one place, or has good WiFi/3g/4g access in the locations they work, is an excellent candidate for a browser-delivered stateless experience using a hybrid of web apps and desktop virtualization.  Many of these could go pure stateless now, using Chromebooks.

Media production, involving a lot of processing of image or sound files, will likely not be suited for a pure stateless environment.    There are also knowledge workers who need office productivity applications during many long flights, and must still rely on old “local client, sync to server when connected” applications.  But have you noticed how many flights now have WiFi? The "I can't use stateless because I need to be connected all the time" argument is fading away.

The point is, you may be using the tech equivalent of a tour bus for many, many people in your organization who could get where they need to go in a minivan or compact car. Don’t wait until stateless can serve every role in your company before you begin offering its benefits to roles that are ready today.  

5. Machines: extend the life of legacy, deploy stateless where possible
We’ve already considered the ways desktop virtualization and browser enablement can allow for longer lifecycles with your existing laptops and desktop computers.  As long as a machine has the power to deliver good connectivity and run a browser, you can deliver a near-stateless experience to those machines using browsers and virtualized desktops.

Stateless content and applications are an excellent match out of the box for the new ultrabook laptop computers, or for any bring-your-own-device program.  

As this is written in spring 2012, the Google Chromebook is the only stateless device you can buy, and only from two vendors: Samsung and Acer.   New, more powerful models of Chromebooks are on the way, but I will tell you from experience that the first generation has served me well as my primary computer for almost 11 months.  Mozilla is working on the stateless phone, with their Boot2Gecko project.

Conclusion: takeaways
Although the full realization of the stateless future will use a stateless device to interact with data and applications delivered from the web, there are straightforward steps you can take today to make the stateless delivery of data and apps available right away, even if you are using Windows or Mac OSes.  

Try all these pilot programs:

  • Users’ data in the cloud, not the local machine
  • Virtualized desktops to a variety of laptops and desktops.  
  • Get some Chromebooks into service in different roles, find out to what extent a fully-stateless environment works for you or does not.

In my opinion, the future will be stateless.  Because it touches so many things, and offers benefits across so many boundaries, this article is the start of the implementation discussion, not the complete dialog.  I’d like to have that longer discussion with you if you’re thinking about stateless, both to share my ideas, and to learn from yours.  Do let me know by e-mail or in the comments what you’re interested in.  I’d be happy to plan a seminar with your team, either online or at your site, to look at the entire stateless picture and your plans to get there.  

This article is part of ongoing coverage of the stateless future, one of the big ideas.  

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Ship code or ship out: Bootcamp for new Facebook engineers - San Jose Mercury News

Image: San Jose Mercury News

Ship code or ship out: Bootcamp for new Facebook engineers - San Jose Mercury News:

Mike Swift reports on Facebook's flat culture and "move fast and break things" mentality.

I think there is much to learn from this style of enterprise, especially about the courage it takes to implement the policies that allow agility and continuous improvement.

BTW, Swift is definitely worth following on Google+.

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Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Podio, subject of our "era of you" coverage, acquired by Citrix

One of the most-read articles on has been the two-part interview I did last fall with Ryan Nichols of, the then-startup that empowers users to create and deploy their own business apps in the cloud.

Today, Podio announced their acquisition by Citrix, the Fort Lauderdale, FL based firm with virtualization and collaboration products deployed widely in enterprises.

One of Podio's innovations is an architecture that places "user" above "organization," in direct contrast to most software-as-a-service (SaaS) companies.  That arrangement makes it easy for one user to be part of many organizations, enabling viral sharing of Podio networks, as illustrated here.

Here is the two-part interview with Nichols:

The two-minute, user-created app: how Podio leads the era of you

What happens when users won't play "mother may I" with IT?

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

A New Window Manager for Chrome OS

A New Window Manager for Chrome OS:

Aura is the name of the new window management system for ChromeOS, the first commercially-available stateless operating system.  This is what it looks like: windows, a "desktop," and a ribbon of applications at the bottom of the screen.  It's still in beta, but available to anyone with a Samsung or Acer Chromebook by selecting "Developer" mode.

The point is, stateless doesn't need to look much different than the interfaces we are already used to.  One of the concepts emerging from the Chrome OS deployment (I've used it every day for the last 10 months) is that much of the criticism has been around the idea that we're "post-PC" and the browser is dead.  In fact, we're moving to "post-browser" as well.  You don't need a row of tabs across the top of a browser, nor pull-down menus, a URL bar, or any of the broswer iconography to deliver applications and data from the cloud.

Stateless devices are a conceptual leap for some of us.  The difference is, most all processing, storage, and applications themselves live on the web.  This is the central idea:  the device itself only needs to provide connectivity, display, and user interface. 

So although, as some have already pointed out, this looks a lot like Windows 7, it's still purely stateless.  I can smash this Chromebook with a hammer until it's in pieces on the floor, then hit the power button on a new one, get a login prompt in 10 seconds, and every bit of my computing experience a few seconds after that.  I can change my password from my phone before a thief ever has a chance to try and log in, rendering the device a blank slate.

If you are in an enterprise, it is time for you to start piloting this technology now.  

--coming soon, a new article: 5 steps to stateless you and your enterprise can take today.

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Thursday, April 5, 2012

The CIO of the Future: Conductor not Controller

Today's worthwhile reading comes from cloud integrator Appirio.  The "orchestrator of services" role for the CIO is right in line with the discussions on the service oriented enterprise.

The CIO of the Future: Conductor not Controller

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Google's Project Glass: digital personal assistant plus full-time augmented reality

We think technology should work for you—to be there when you need it and get out of your way when you don’t. 

There is a new Google+ page for Project Glass, the augmented reality glasses from Google.

It adds a digital personal assistant; I think this is awfully close to something we'll all be changed by in the near future.

The Future Of The Virtual Personal Assistant | TechCrunch

Rosie.  The digital personal assistant
on wheels.
Image from
The Future Of The Virtual Personal Assistant | TechCrunch:

This is an excellent update from SRI, the creators of Apple's Siri digital personal assistant.

I'll continue to send you what I find as this field evolves; if you haven't seen it yet, I wrote an expanded version of what a typical interaction with a digital personal assistant would be like, and the technologies that support it in the background:

 "Your near-future life: meet Rosie, the digital personal assistant."

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Monday, April 2, 2012

State of California court computer system dropped after $500 million spent

CA Supreme Court Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye.
Image from
from, the online version of the San Francisco Chronicle

This may feel like familiar territory for those who chose and implement enterprise IT, and for project managers dealing with scope creep and change orders.

Computer system dropped after $500 million spent:

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