Crossing the Cloud: a Way to Survive In the Evolving Enterprise 2.0 Market


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Back in the end of 1990s, I witnessed an extremely interesting metamorphosis in the anti-virus market. The way the things happened would have been perfect for inclusion in Rick Chapmans In Search Of Stupidity bestseller. A dominant player in a European country which held as much as 90% of the market lost its position to a minor competitor in only two years.

What was the reason for such a total transformation on a more or less mature market? While many opinions were expressed by the market analysts, they have at least one thing in common: the company was too reluctant in covering new operating systems. While it was stuck in the old DOS-era mind frame similar to the 640K ought to be enough for anybody attitude (often misattributed to Bill Gates), the competitor started to actively expand on Windows and Unix platforms.

Despite the evident market signals, the company continued to insist on the self-sufficiency of the DOS version. As a result, it has lost the time needed to deliver the high-demand version of its anti-virus to the market, while the competitor was successfully converting customers. Later, the Windows and Unix versions were ready but crucial time had already passed. Now the company controls not more than 10% of the national market as is desperately trying to make ends meet.

Similar things are happening now with regard to virtualization technologies. Virtual environments have become a major trend for deploying cost-effective solutions. Gartner recently estimated that 23% of the installed applications are running in virtual machines while this number will grow to 48% in 2012. IDC reported that 18.2% of all new servers shipped in the fourth quarter of 2009 were virtualized.

The flexibility in supporting this environment clearly corresponds with the software readiness to work in corporate frameworks. Very much like supporting various operating systems in the past, the more platforms you cover, the wider market coverage you have. Failing to cope with this challenge may result in losing the market just as in the example above.

In fact, the term cross-platform has apparently transformed into cross-cloud, illustrating a software products operability in different virtualization environments and therefore its ability to cover new markets.

With many virtualization platforms around (but a few dominating the market) it is quite difficult to develop dedicated versions for each. There is too much hassle in converting the distributions, testing the compatibility and properly configuring the settings.

However, there is an elegant solution how a product can kill two birds with one stone, finding the balance between compatibility and productivity.

Let me share the Bitrix experience. The company has recently launched its Cloud initiative to deliver an intranet experience using a SaaS model. When evaluating the market opportunities, we decided to split the technical side of cross-cloud support into two parts.

Firstly, native support for the major environments was developed. The company released dedicated versions of the software for VMware and Parallels technologies. The virtual machines for these platforms come with a pre-set configuration that enables the solutions maximum performance and security.

What about other platforms including Xen, Hyper-V and OpenVZ? Maintaining dedicated versions of Bitrix Intranet Portal for the whole list of environments causes too much trouble and requires significant development investments. At the same time, the market landscape is pretty mixed as hosting providers use different platforms to deliver services to the end-users.

In response, the company crafted a specially-designed RPM-distribution kit, which contains all the necessary software and an installation script. Thus, a host can easily initiate a Virtual Private Server (VPS) on-demand and launch a fully configured and optimized Enterprise 2.0 solution in a snap. The RPM kit is based on CentOS Linux, which is compatible with the vast majority of virtualization environments including Microsofts Hyper-V (as a guest OS).

I firmly believe that cross-cloud support will become a major technology trend in the evolving Enterprise 2.0 market. Intranets are now at the threshold of mass adoption with many small businesses preferring to use them in the Cloud. With this option, they can save up to 80% of implementation costs and avoid extra maintenance expenses. Importantly, cloud deployment minimizes concurrent risks of system downtime, data breach and data loss, as these issues are managed by the service/hosting provider.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Denis Zenkin
Denis Zenkin has 15+ years' experience in high-tech marketing. He currently leads global marketing at Bitrix, Inc. – a multi-national developer of Enterprise 2. and website management solutions with a special focus on SMB. Denis is a frequent speaker at industry-specific events covering social-enabled intranet technologies, and regularly publishes articles on E2. adoption practices.


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