SDForum hosted another wide-ranging, star-studded conference Friday. The topic was posted as "Shaping the new age of application development" but - from the start - had overtones of SaaS, cloud computing, and new business models.
The day opened with James Staten of Forrester Research - giving his usual riveting, insightful view on clouds, cloud adoption and directions. I think he also was able to add some sobriety to the hype, pointing out that Infrastructure-as-a-Service was the technology most likely approach to mature first. He expects to see "cloud hype" to die-out around 2010.
James was followed by a panel hosted by Chris Yeh, focusing on new software business models. Pretty lively discussion about how packaged software is moving to subscription, how SaaS is re-making how software is consumed, and how simple financial models will help shape how products/services are packaged and priced. Frankly, the internet is changing all types of business models... e.g. a question from the audience focused on traditional advertising business models, where "classifieds" were advertising in a newspaper where "news" was the content. But with the advent of Craigs List, "classifieds" *is* the content. Hmm.
Now a shift: a panel on Mobile development - Panelists from Nokia, Sun's Java division, iPhone developers, etc. One really interesting insight: think of the phone application market as "verticals" and "horizontals". While there are a few million phones that are "vertical", i.e. Blackberry, iPhone, etc., there are a few *billion* phones globally that are more basic, but where there is a more massive market to write to. The horizontal market for mobile dwarfs that market that we think of as the "advanced" iPhone market!
After lunch, we got a really cool and riveting presentation from Clara Shih from Salesforce.com on "Understanding the Facebook Era" Her premise: Facebook is CRM for individuals. Ergo, there is a natural connection between Facebook and SalesForce.com... (Faceconnector) Also, there is the need for "online identity" and Facebook is making a play for owning that 'credentials' space (Facebook Connect). But with online identity, there is the potential for massive online data mining and demographic research.
My own panel was moderated by Chris Preimsberger of eWeek - focusing on cloud infrastructure. Hamid Pirahesh of IBM led-off with a really elegant 4-quadrant perspective of Traditional vs. Cloud models, and internal vs. external models. Lots of good conversation about why "cloud" infrastructure differs from traditional infrastructure.
Finally - the VC panel... Accel, Draper Fisher Jurvetson, Hummer Winblad, and Benchmark. First question off-the-block: "Where are you seeing the growth?" Answers: (a) small-budget items that can be purchased in bite-sized pieces, (b) IT infrastructure equipment that saves money, (c) data analytics, cloud and cleantech. Mostly pretty bullish on the startup market, apparently lots of series-A and B happening now. And lots of really good advice for wannabe startups on how the VC process works.