One of the reasons I'm resurrecting my blog is because of continuity. I owe continuity to my virtual partners, even if they're tired of hearing me repeat myself. A boring familiar voice is better than silence, and as I've mentioned, I'm occasionally worth reading.
What makes me waste a little time on this blustery Wednesday is the fact that I have learned, within three hours of it becoming 'public', of Google Real Estate. I don't know how many degrees of separation I am from the leaking source - it doesn't really matter; I just find that to be a fairly amazingly short period of time, and I feel fortunate to be in the loop of know.
I've been thinking about explaining the basics of BI to noobs as well as senior managers whose companies have yet to exploit the economies. In answering an imaginary question of where the industry will be in 10 years (actually the iQuestion was 'Where do you see yourself in 10 years?'), I said that there will be four players. They will be Microsoft, Oracle, SAP and ... Google. I'm hoping to see myself with Google, the reason isn't obvious but I have mentioned it before:
Google does not charge the user. All of Google's software and hardware is at Google, behind locked doors, just like the IBM data center. To Google, you are a user, not an owner. You couldn't own the Google software because you would clog up Google's precious computers with your idiot code which couldn't possibly be as efficient and secure as Google's own code. They are masters of the algorithms and queue management. Google releases no product that doesn't scale to infinity. Google never gets a virus. Google is a free IBM datacenter. Google is the opposite of IBM despite all these similarities because its business model does not involve charging the user. Microsoft and IBM are the same because they charge the user. Microsoft makes you configure your machine and calls it freedom.
Furthermore, Google deals in human scale media. Google does not deliver compacted abstracted codes. Google delivers whole books, whole libraries of books. Google delivers satellite images of the whole planet. You are incapable of asking too much of Google, and their orientation is to deliver that all to you for free. Plus they take away all of the headaches that Gates delivered, the world of limitations of PCs. Clunky, insecure software written by anybody.
Google is one of the only computing products that hasn't bloated. Even Linux is running into controversy over kernel bloat. Pigs aren't flying, they're recompiling RPMs on their anti-Microsoft boxes. Same paradigm, same headaches. Free software approaches perfection, but there is no guarantee. Google guarantees, and that is why Google is rich and there are only two or three Linuxes left worth mentioning, all equally user poor.
But Google could charge the corporate user because Google has got what every enterprise desires: fundamentally unlimited scalability. They have the opportunity to license the way they do business and thereby revolutionize the IT business. Google is the ultimate ASP - they always have been, and they've been providing incredibly fast information for years now. Google can simply wait for every Tom, Dick and Ajax to write their little Web 2.0 app, and then determine whether or not it scales into a nice business model. They plug it into the Googleplex and voila.
It is not a stretch for me to see them doing this with 2 million spreadsheets, which is very likely what your corporation's finances are really running on despite MSFT's, Oracle's and SAP's protestations to the contrary.
So here's the question I posed to my BI noob interviewer. 'It takes about 15 minutes for you to find out whenever a car bomb goes off in Baghdad. How long does it take you to learn that your business has lost a customer?'. The answer to this question is generally sub-Google speed, which ultimately is unacceptable. The gap between real-time analytics is not so much technology as it is IT methodologies and captialization. This is something most companies would rather have, but not pay for up front. Some enterprising practitioners (like me) and some Google people could meet one day and come up with an ASP business model for enterprise BI. If and when that happens, MSFT, Oracle and SAP will find that they are a lot slower to the middle-tier webware market than they thought.
I am consistently surprised that people remain skeptical of fat clients. We are seeing 3GHz PCs with 100GB of disk and still people go Web. The hows and whys of that we can discuss later, but it is clearly a fait accompli. Whatever happened to port 80? It's now a thousand different ones for everyone's 'administrative client'. Client server has been swallowed up by very specific clients, ie browsers running interpreters. Whoda thunk? That being the case, applications development companies are essentially web development companies.
I have a hard time believing that people who built WebMethods or Vignette (nothing personal) are going to be developing the applications of the future. The narrow scopes of what IT organizations and (outsourced) consultants build these days unfortunately don't stand a chance against the big huge apps Google rolls out.
One final analogy. Once upon a time, Bloomberg relied on hardware. He had a near monopoly when it came to (bond trading I think). The smarts of that moved to PCs and the second revolution was exemplified in the day-trading bubble. (By the way, once upon a time the same was true of Metaphor DIS, specialty hardware to fat-client software to running on browsers in the BI space). Clearly the next evolution in tiered computing will be making browsers smart enough to do all fat clients do, cleaner. Now it's all about the scalability of the back-end. I have a hard time believing that the same decision makers who are gung-ho about punting to procurement departments when it comes to <strike>outsourcing</strike> staffing IT are going to think twice when offered the opportunity for 2 second response time without capital spending.