#CloudWars #Verdict – Will Google #Cloud Amazon’s AWS run?

Amazon and Google started out being unlikely competitors.

One started in 1994 by selling books and the other in 1997 by designing a new search engine for the Internet.  In 2002, both realized that they needed to open up their respective systems to developer communities as a technology disrupter, gain traction, and grow fast.

Both gave brick and mortar businesses a run for their money.  Both ended as undisputed leaders and have redefined the industry in their own ways.

Both Google and Amazon broadly attract the same segment of consumers, albeit for different reasons.

They have not looked back ever since.  The Titans are now eyeing domination of the Enterprise segment with cloud based web hosting services and solutions. Amazon has a significant lead here.  What does it take for them to come out as the winner?  Is the threat from Google real?

In continuing our series on technology game-changers, we focus on a summary of differences between the Google Cloud and the Amazon AWS from an end-user and developer perspective.  In an earlier series (*ISMAC) we had discussed the ubiquitous nature of CLOUD infrastructure in current technology solutions.

Cloud Vendors and Hosting Providers are available dime-a-dozen.

Hosting Providers are good enough for simple web site hosting, be it local or regional.  Most hosting providers provide base hardware
infrastructure (either Physical or Virtual Machines) with Linux or Windows Operating System and the corresponding Web(App)server (Apache, Nginx), Database (MySQL), Programming Language Support (PHP, Python, Java) etc.

Cloud Vendors on the other hand provide a whole slew of ready made and integrated software support like Email, Queuing, Messaging, BigData, NoSQL, Storage, Networking, Billing, Logging etc.  These services are all independent, but can be installed and setup to work cohesively with each other.  In this article, we will look at the offerings
of “Google Cloud” and “Amazon AWS”.

 

Google Cloud Console – //cloud.google.com/

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Comprises of a separate Compute engine and App engine.  The Compute engine provides the raw hardware and allows the developer to install any tools/technologies they choose.  The App Engine on the other hand, comes pre-built with support for PHP, Python (language
interpreters).  It allows the developers to directly upload their source code and setup the environment. Google Cloud also provides out-of-the-box one-click deployment of numerous tools in the Data Store, Programming, and Source Code Control, Configuration and Build Management and other Front-End, Mid-Tier, and Back-end packages.

Costing is tiered with a free-tier for almost all functionalities including storage and network usage (upload/download).  This approach is
convenient for developers and companies to try out in a smaller scale free before choosing this as a production and scaling platform.

On the other side, setup is slightly non-intuitive for the first-time cloud user. The developer will require a few trials before getting comfortable with
the offerings.

 

Amazon AWS Console – //aws.amazon.com/

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The console is organized very intuitively under various categories – Computing Resources, Storage, Content Delivery, Databases, Networking, Administration and Security, Deployment, Analytics, Mobile, Application Services and Enterprise Services.  Within each of these categories, the most common packages are provided in a single-click setup model.  Impressive is the ability to setup your own
Simple Email Service, Simple Queuing Service, and Simple Notification Services (for server-side of mobile apps)

Costing is Free for the first 12 months.  This provides a wonderful way
for developers and companies to test the platform and even use it in a
semi-production model.

AWS has a much bigger ecosystem and therefore has support on the Internet for almost all situations one could ever face.

Verdict

While both the offerings have similar setup and approach, Amazon’s AWS comes out better due to its maturity and developer-friendly tools.  Google Cloud’s free limits are a wonderful idea that could potentially be adopted by AWS.  This allows small companies to move to and continue on AWS (without charge) for their small footprint requirements.  Google Cloud needs a bit of Usability improvements especially for the developer community.

5 Hot Technology Trends (1/2)

SMAC (social, mobile, analytics and cloud) and IoT (Internet of Things) are the five buzz words in the technology industry that is driving innovation for business and hence valuations for businesses that are in that space.

Let us address this one by one. In this two part series, we will cover introductory and business aspects of SMAC+IoT in this part and take up deep dive in the next.

SMAC delivers an ecosystem to help businesses have maximum reach with minimal costs. It also helps business to be present in front of the customer without being intrusive. We are all creating peta-bytes of data both in structured and unstructured formats. In today’s day and age, anything that we do on the internet is captured in more than one way. This explosion of structured and unstructured data is generating through billions of devices and services – mobile devices social media, sensors, loyalty programs and browsing website and is creating new business models built upon user-generated data. Each of the four technologies – social, mobile, analytics and cloud (let us keep IoT out of the equation for now) – is critical and creates a synergy and provides immense competitive advantage for businesses when used efficiently.

Social Media has provided billions of users and millions of businesses
with new ways to reach and interact between businesses customers and between customers to customers. The mobile technologies have dramatically altered the way people communicate, shop and work and have fun. Analytics allow businesses to understand how, when and where people consume goods and services. Cloud computing provides a disruptive way to access technology with data a business needs to quickly and respond to rapidly changing markets and solve business problems. Each of the four technologies can impact a business individually. But the power lies in the integration and the coming together of the four is proving to be a disruptive force and is creating entirely new business models for service providers.

While it sounds simple the integration involves immense complexity at the back end. There are tools available to achieve the stated purpose. Integrating SMAC requires clear systems, policies and management tools that can automate business processes. The online-retailer company Amazon is a
good example of a business that has successfully harnessed the power of SMAC.
For example, when an Amazon member buys an item on Amazon on their iPhone, they are given the option to login with Facebook’s social login. After the purchase, customers are given multiple ways to provide social feedback. They can rate their experience with stars, write reviews and/or share what they just bought with friends on Facebook or Twitter. Customer data is stored in the cloud and Amazon can break down its analysis to such a granular a level that its recommendation engine can personalize suggestions for friends that are connected and have similar preferences, a concept known as 1:1 marketing.

Any modern CRM strategy would see such 1:1 marketing as the holy-grail of customer engagement and is the aim of every SMAC initiative. Critics however worry that such massive aggregation of customer data from disparate sources, data that is possibly purchased from data brokers, may violate user privacy and cause legal problems related to compliance and data sovereignty.

In spite of such criticism, SMAC is here to stay. In the next post, I will talk about Internet of Things, IoT that is the next big disruptor. Stay tuned.

Social Media in Business (Part 2 )

In my earlier post of Social Media in Business (Part 1), I shared the size of the market was and the lovable demographics social media presents. In this second and final part, I will share with you the basic steps of getting there.

Before I proceed I want to share with you a personal sorry that occurred recently.

I was disappointed at mediocre internet banking infrastructure of the two banks #hdfcbank, #icicibank and the unhelpful call center of #jetairways. The numerous attempts to the call center that either put me on hold for a good 20+ minutes or were unable to understand the requests yielded no results. Such waits and both frustrating and costly. I did what was the next step. Vent out my frustration on a tweet.

In less than 12 hours, I had ‘messages’ #icicibank #jetairways requesting for more details. In less than 24 hours of me providing my contact details, the representatives called me and promised to fix the issue. One bank #hdfcbank, just chose to be unheard and non-present on twitter. Needless to say thy just lost my $10K investment that I was planning to do to their competitor.

As a customer, I was delighted that a 140 character tweet could achieve what a 20min international phone call or a 300 word email could not. Harnessing its power,  let’s get serious.
Unfortunately, most companies are still treating social media like just another teenage fancy. When in fact, it’s so much more.

Where can Social Media help?

  • customer service, building loyalty
  • public relations, networking, thought-leadership
  • and yes, may be customer acquisition, too.
  • And because I’d hate to see it all not add up, I’ll add this tiny bit of advice. Do not assume that social media is the answer to every problem
  • If your product sucks, social media won’t fix it.
  • However, if your customer service sucks, social media can help.
  • If your repeat business sucks, social media can help.
  • If your company’s word of mouth sucks, social media can help.

So, here’s what you need to do:

Define your company’s online marketing strategy.  Hope is not strategy

Stop thinking “campaigns”. Start thinking “conversations.

Your customers are queuing there. Your resistance to social media is futile. Millions of people are creating content for the social web. Your competitors are already there. Your customers have been there for a long time.
If your business isn’t putting itself out there, you are putting yourself out of business?

Social Media in Business (Part 1)

In our consulting assignments and workshop on social media, participants ask us the same question again and again. The top three questions are –

  • “Why do we as a business need to be there?”
  • “Facebook is for friends and Twitter is there for celebrities, not for real businesses”.
  • “We are a professional organization, not some startup”

In this two-part series, I will share how social media can change the business dynamics and help you get closer to your prospects and customers. In part 2 of this series I will share my own personal example with an airline and a bank on how they leveraged social media to solve customer problems.
Well are businesses really social?

Many years ago when Avinash Kaushik, an Analytics Evangelist of Google quipped “social media is like teen sex. Everyone wants to do it. Nobody knows how. When it’s finally done there is surprise it’s not better”, it seemed like just that.

Now almost a decade later and wiser, Wikipedia defines thus – “Social media are media for social interaction, using highly accessible and scalable communication techniques. Social media is the use of web-based and mobile technologies to turn communication into interactive dialogue”,

Why should I care, you may ask?

Well, I can give you not one but six trends that possibly can change your perspective.

  • Because 3 out of 4 Americans use social technology.
  • Because 2/3 of the global internet population visit social networks.
  • Because visiting social sites is now the most popular online activity
  • Because time spent on social networks is growing at 3x the overall internet rate, accounting for
  • Because social media is democratizing communications. Big time.
  • Because social media is like word of mouth on steroids.
  • Because, social media is a force to be reckoned with! If facebook were a country, it would be the world’s most populous country just ahead of China and India.

If all this is great stuff, how does it affect my business, my customers or my prospects? I will cover these in my next issue, and I leave you with this thought –
93% of social media users believe that a company should have a presence in social media.
93% of these users want a dialogue, not a monologue on social media and believe that companies should not treat social media as yet another channel for broadcasting bulls*t.

Well now that I set the grounding on the basics of Social Media, I will take up in my next post on how businesses can leverage social media in my next issue.