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When a web application gets popular enough, features matter less and the underlying ecosystem matters more. There’s a tipping point at which network effects outstrip software features. When that happens, users get the benefits of additional functionality — and the risk of new kinds of lock-in. […] Read more »

With every birthday reminder, bill confirmation, new friend, direct message, password recovery, and mailing list, the content of our inboxes becomes less and less a means of communication and more and more a record of all we do online. But if inboxes don’t fundamentally change in order to adapt to their new role as the keeper of myriad transactions across the entire web, they’ll be obsolete. Read more »

Back in the desktop software era, magazines ran software reviews in which the side-by-side comparisons of features took up an entire page. Buyers used these reviews to shortlist vendors, trying to anticipate which features they’d need over the next five years. Typically, the software with the most features won. Feature-itis ruled. But with software as a service, the focus has become whether the tool is good enough on day one and how well it will adapt over time. Indeed, in order to evaluate SaaS, those page-long feature comparisons can be whittled down to just seven critical questions. Read more »

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Elastra today unveiled an updated cloud strategy that aims to tackle one of the biggest challenges of cloud computing: How to move applications smoothly between in-house infrastructure and clouds like Amazon’s EC2. If the strategy works, it could pave the way for so-called “hybrid clouds,” those […] Read more »

When Google first released App Engine as a “Preview Release” last April, developers had relatively little computing power. Only a few apps got Google’s permission to grow beyond the free computing quotas, including BuddyPoke, Lingospot, Mentalfloss and Now, the company’s going to start charging for […] Read more »

Microsoft is hoping people will use Photosynth to document the inauguration. In partnership with CNN, they’re asking people to upload 1-3 pictures, no more than 10MB each, and email them. The result will be a three-dimensional record of the event. That’s a lot of data. Having […] Read more »

Customer relationship management giant just gobsmacked the fledgling community management industry with its launch of a customer support service called Service Cloud. While initially positioned as a tool for customer service, it also tracks interactions with various online communities. This puts Salesforce on a collision […] Read more »’s plans to build an open-source alternative to Twitter got a vote of confidence this week with an investment from the VCs at Montreal Start Up. While the amount of the financing wasn’t disclosed, Montreal Start Up Managing Partner John Stokes said the firm invests between […] Read more »

Joyent today announced it has agreed to acquire Reasonably Smart, a fledgling cloud startup based on JavaScript and Git, for an undisclosed amount. While on the surface it might look like simple industry consolidation, Reasonably Smart’s technology will in fact help Joyent compete with emerging service-centric […] Read more »

Until now, Google’s App Engine has been a great playground for coders: Everyone gets a daily quota of computing resources to play with. But without understanding how pricing will work when you go beyond those quotas, it’s been harder to understand business models built on it. […] Read more »

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Are clouds fundamentally less secure? A story today in the Guardian lists cloud security as one of the things we’ll worry about in 2009, citing a recent survey commissioned by — big surprise — security companies. I don’t believe that clouds themselves will cause the security […] Read more »

Despite decades of effort, troubleshooting applications is still hard. ExtraHop, which comes out of stealth today with the launch of its Application Delivery Assurance Appliance, thinks it’s got the answer. Backed with $1.5 million from Madrona Venture Partners, the 10-person company is capitalizing on recent increases […] Read more »

Google recently announced an extension framework for Chrome, adding the ability to run extra software in the browser. It’s a feature many had long considered missing from Google’s browser — and one that has been key to Firefox’s popularity. But with the Chrome extensions, Google is […] Read more »

[qi:025] Citing changes to its billing and costs that are doubling every month, Twitter announced that it will no longer support outbound SMS to Canadians. Twitter’s searching for a business model (and a Business Product Manager to help out), and in the meantime it has to curtail […] Read more »

With a flurry of announcements in recent weeks, Amazon has extended its cloud computing lead. The beta label’s gone. It can run Windows applications. By investing in firms like Elastra, it’s tackling enterprise deployment. And there’s a 99.95 percent uptime guarantee. Much of this is a […] Read more »

Obama says technology will save health care, and it’s true that IT is quickly becoming a medical resource: Google, which recently launched an online medical records service, claims that online search is where consumers turn first for health information. Computerization can eliminate much of the 30 […] Read more »

There are a lot of bad things on the Internet: spam, child porn, malware, phishing and so on. Until recently, it’s been up to people to protect themselves, using security software or web site blocking. Lately, however, governments and legislators have been calling for service providers […] Read more »

Jacob Jakob Nielsen knows web users. The Nielsen/Norman Group, which he co-founded, has tested thousands of sites. It’s watched more than 3,000 users try to perform tasks online, even following their eyes to see where they look. And he has some frightening news: Nobody looks at picture […] Read more »

If Apple wants to dominate the living room, it will have to do better than the AppleTV. So with rumors abounding that the company is poised to launch a new consumer device, it’s time for a wish list as to what such a device would like like. Read more »

Updated at the end: Google’s rumored acquisition of game delivery network Valve — and it is, at this point, just a rumor — would give the search giant a robust platform for delivering, updating and charging for digital content. If true, it’s a smart move for […] Read more »

Software testing provider SOASTAhas closed a $6.4 million Series B financing from Formative Ventures, Canaan Partners and The Entrepreneur’s Fund, bringing the total amount of money it’s raised to $10 million. Read more »

Back in July, we looked at how cloud computing may force appliance vendors to change the way they build products. Now rPath, which makes release management tools for virtual appliances, is announcing support for EC2 on its rBuilder portal, a web site that lets users turn […] Read more »

Virtualization promises the effortless creation of new servers. Unfortunately, that’s also its downfall: Make enough virtual machines, and you’re bound to lose some. Ottawa, Canada-based VM management startup Embotics wants to help system administrators manage all those servers with a free tool called VScout, released today, […] Read more »

If you’re running a data center, energy costs are a top concern. It takes power to run computers, store data and keep the place cool. In 2007, the U.S. spent $1.3B to power and cool drives, according to IDC. “We estimate that 60 to 80 percent […] Read more »

In Beijing, Internet access will soon be in high demand: Half a million people are expected to visit the city of 17 million for the Olympics, and most of them will want web-based access to personal and corporate sites. This may well be the largest international […] Read more »

What makes social networks successful is precisely the thing that makes them vulnerable to hackers: Trusting and sharing with others, sometimes even strangers. Now that they’re under attack from worms and malware, operators are trying to patch security loopholes. But it’s hard to fix the DNA […] Read more »

The Olympics is a boon to translators. Much of the reporting, interpretation and documentation for the massively international event is handled by humans, but human translators with the right skills can be scarce. “Between some pairs of languages, there are very few people who are experts […] Read more »

Elastra, the San Francisco-based cloud configuration startup, says it has secured $12 million in Series B financing from investors including Bay Partners and Hummer Winblad — and Amazon. Elastra is the latest investment made by Amazon in the cloud computing sector. Last month, Amazon helped fund […] Read more »

Crank calls have never been so easy. As folks on Reddit have pointed out, Disney’s Hannah Montana Wake-Up Call makes getting up to no good a snap. Just enter your friend’s victim’s phone number and the delightful Miley Cyrus’s voice will wake them up or send […] Read more »

Digital certificates are one way we know to trust someone online. Most of us use them without even realizing it; every time we visit a secure web site, our browser checks a certificate that’s been signed and dated by a trusted third party. Other servers, such […] Read more »

Many operational clouds, such as Amazon Web Services, still require their customers to corral their own machines, however virtual. On the other hand, development clouds like or Google’s App Engine hide the underlying machines, and handle all the networking equipment — virtual and real — on behalf of their customers. Either model means a big transition for the makers of traditional networking equipment. Read more »

A recent study by computer retailer CDW shows that most IT decision makers believe in making their technology infrastructure greener and more energy efficient. But more than half of those surveyed cite cost as the main obstacle, and see the impact on the environment and on […] Read more »

There’s already a ton of activity taking place in the cloud computing space, so much so that it can be hard to know who to watch. In many cases, it’s too early to pick winners. But there are distinct sectors of the IT industry that are […] Read more »

Second Life is either peaking or busy crossing the chasm, depending on who you believe. IMVU stealthed its way to tons of users. Club Penguin found its windfall by figuring out how to reach children safely. Blizzard had revenues of $1.1 billion last year. Qwaq makes […] Read more »

Storing data in a server is a tried and tested process. In the cloud, however, storage is still a work in progress. And the cloud model puts increased pressure on networking and server equipment — and on vendors to make their components reliable. Read more »

With all the hype about cloud computing, it’s easy to label it as the latest fad, especially when everyone whose application talks Internet is trying to rebrand themselves as a cloud. But the long view shows that this really is an important change, one of several […] Read more »

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