Insecurities Trading and Cloud Computing

I was a shareholder in tickets.com until, oh, around March 2000.  It was around then that I decided to diversify my portfolio into bank debt and other insecurities.  At least, that’s how I explained it to my wife.  Alternately explained, my day-trading on margin winning streak got busted by the dot com crash, I ended up owing a bunch of money to a trader somewhere (or more correctly I owned a bunch of penny stocks that I hadn’t yet paid for), and the experience became altogether unpleasant.  It’s about ten years hence, and what a decade it’s been.  9/11, bubbles bursting, forming, and bursting again, China opens up (a can of whoop-ass on global markets), the dollar begins its retreat into the night, a first black American president, and Fainna Fáil still in power at home.  I guess some things don’t change.

Anyway, the tickets.com thing got me all nostalgic as I noted that one of their vice presidents will be speaking at the forthcoming Cloud Leadership Forum in California.  My first reaction was “wow, they’re still alive?”, my second was “wow, they’re actually a real company!” and my third reaction was “umm….what are they doing at a cloud conference?”  so I did an admittely limited amount of research and found that these guys have changed from a company selling tickets (a la ticketmaster) to a company selling ticketing solutions.  It still sells some tickets, and competes with Ticketmaster, but it’s more in the solutions business these days.  Good job too, Ticketmaster is a bit of a beast!  Reminds me a little of Portal Software (now part of Oracle) who started out life as an ISP, wrote their own billing software, and ended up making more money licensing the billing software than as an ISP!

As a ticketing solutions provider, these guys are providing a platform upon which to manage your own ticketing application.  You have a series of enablers and services that are all made available as a service that can be mashed up into an application for your event or ticketed-thing.  But they’re not just providing software, they’re providing the integration environment also.  Underneath all of that there’s virtualised storage and compute, essentially a cloud computing environment that dynamically supports the applications on the other end.  Pretty cool stuff.

This concept of solutions as a service is something of an evolution of the original salesforce.com (SFDC) software as a service play.  That was just exposing a web-front-ended application to the world wide web, effectively.  This is actually less prescriptive about how you use the stuff.  What does that mean?  Well, solutions as a service presumes you need to develop apps in a segment, but doesn’t presume to design the app for you.  So you have components.  You use the ones you need, not the ones you don’t.  The original SFDC concept was “CRM – yes or no”?  They’ve moved on a lot, I have to say (SFDC I mean) but I’m relating this story to their earlier incarnation.

The question that I’m now interested in is what else can we mash up?  By exposing enablers like this, could we, for example, combine tools from tickets.com and SFDC to make some kind of hybrid?  Youtube stuff, iPhone apps, with other platform integration?  What about public private mash-up, like telco billing systems services and provisioning services with public services like Google docs, Bank of America apps and FedEx logistics?  Is there a platform to develop this?  Is that called the Web, or something else?  Must think.  Need brain food.  More on this anon.

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