LINK: “Slack must use cash hoard to find new ways to keep competition at bay”

Slack’s success has always been a bit surprising because it’s facing off against giants like Microsoft, Facebook, Google, Cisco, Salesforce and many others, all gunning for this upstart’s market. In fact, Microsoft is giving Teams away for free to Office 365 customers. You could say it’s hard to compete with free, yet Slack continues to hold its own (and also offers a free version, for the record).


LINK: “After twenty years of Salesforce, what Marc Benioff got right and wrong about the cloud”

It’s time to reconsider the SaaS model in a modern context, integrating developments of the last nearly two decades so that enterprise software can reach its full potential. More specifically, we need to consider the impact of IaaS and “cloud-native computing” on enterprise software, and how they’re blurring the lines between SaaS and on-premises applications. As the world around enterprise software shifts and the tools for building it advance, do we really need such stark distinctions about what can run where?


LINK: “OpenStack in transition”

OpenStack is one of the most important and complex open-source projects you’ve never heard of. It’s a set of tools that allows large enterprises ranging from Comcast and PayPal to stock exchanges and telecom providers to run their own AWS-like cloud services inside their data centers.


Five for Friday (9/6/17)

Not sure anything in tech world can match politics right now for interestingness, but here goes…

  1. Tandridge Council are recruiting a Technology Implementation Manager. Details here.
  2. What a digital organisation looks like – smart stuff from Janet Hughes. Answer = responsive, open and efficient.
  3. We need a Minister for Digital Government – according to Dan Thornton at the Institute for Government. Quite a bit of commentary has been around the limitation of the word ‘digital’ – though that’s largely semantics – and I would argue that even if you (wrongly) take digital to mean just tech, there’s still enough that needs fixing to make it worthwhile.
  4. “Which third are you?” – asks James Governor from Redmonk. The thirds being change agents, persuadables or heel diggers. All about your attitude to change. Every organisation has every type, and you need them all onside – or at least enough of them – to make stuff happen.
  5. Coté shares some slides from a workshop he ran in the States on how Government can go cloud native. Also see this post for further ruminations.

These have mostly all been tweeted during the week, and you can find everything I’ve found interesting and bookmarked here.

cloudHQ – fantastic cloud syncing tool

I’ve just found a tool that is making some of my biggest Google woes go away!

It’s called cloudHQ, and it’s really cool. You give it access to your cloud storage accounts – such as Google Drive, Dropbox, Box, Evernote and so on; and it enables you to transfer files between them – whether on a one-off basis or as a continuous synchronisation.

You can also add details of more than one account for the same service, which is dead handy.

There is a free trial, and if all you are doing are one-off transfers you might get away with just using that. I’ve signed up for a Pro account which gives me unlimited data transfers, so I can leave it whirring away in the background.

Here is what I am using it for at the moment:

  1. Transferring all the files in my old Google Drive account into my new one (this was one of my biggest headaches!)
  2. Copying all the photos I have in Dropbox into Google Drive (which I can then make accessible in Google+ and on the photo gallery app on my phone)
  3. Copying all the notes I have in Evernote into a folder on Google Drive as a backup

Here’s a video explaining it better than I can.

Hurrah for cloudHQ!

Amazon WorkSpaces

As well as being the world’s biggest online retailer, Amazon is also one of the main providers of cloud based computing services. They offer a dizzying array of different services and platforms, enabling anyone with a credit card to get access to serious computing power.

One of their newer offerings is WorkSpaces. These provide access to a desktop computing experience via the cloud. What this means in practice is that you can use one device – whether a laptop, desktop, tablet or smartphone – to access another computer which is hosted on Amazon’s cloud, including an operating system, applications and storage.

Here’s a video that probably explains it a lot better than I can.

How I’m using WorkSpaces

I’m a Mac user, and sometimes, annoyingly, other people assume you are using a Windows PC. Recently as part of one of my volunteering roles, I was asked to complete some e-learning. Only, on visiting the required web page, I was informed that the e-learning would only work with Internet Explorer, which isn’t available for the Mac.

To get round  this, I just needed to load up my Amazon WorkSpace client, and log in to my WorkSpace running Windows 7, which of course has Internet Explorer available. Job done.

Another area I am thinking of using WorkSpace is to keep some of my bits of work separate. I’ve more email accounts with different organisations I work with than I can count, with associated document stores and so on. One way around this might be to use my laptop just for my own personal stuff, and then have WorkSpaces for my other identities, meaning I don’t get things jumbled up but can always access what I need.

The downsides

The obvious downside is that you can only access your workspaces when you have a decent internet connection. The other is that at the moment the only choice of operating system is Windows 7. It would be nice to have a Linux option, for instance.

Dropbox launches a swathe of new features

Some interesting developments from Dropbox – everyone’s (well, most people’s) favourite cloud storage/backup/sharing tool.

Firstly, a new app called Carousel, which is a photo gallery app. According to the blurb, it

…combines the photos in your Dropbox with the photos on your phone, and automatically backs up new ones as you take them. Carousel sorts all these memories by event so you can easily travel back in time to any photo from any date. And unlike other mobile galleries, the size of your Carousel isn’t constrained by the space on your phone, which means you can finally have your entire life’s memories in one place.

Sounds good. Note that this is a separate app rather than a new feature in the existing Dropbox app. Further evidence that the native app space is all around doing one thing well rather than cramming as much functionality into one app as possible (for another example see Facebook moving messaging out of the main FB app and forcing users into the dedicated messaging app).

Here’s a video with the details.

[vimeo 91475918 w=500 h=281]

Carousel: Your entire life at your fingertips from Dropbox on Vimeo.

Next is an update to Mailbox, which was an iOS only email client. It’s now on Android too, and had introduced a new feature that learns from your use of it which emails you are likely to immediately archive, for example, so that in future it can automate that task for you.

An email client that deletes emails on your behalf? That’s one way to inbox zero!

The other updates relate to Dropbox for Business, rather than the consumer version that most people use (for free). One is that now users will have two Dropbox folders – one for personal stuff and one for work. The work one will be in the control of the employer, who will be able to remotely wipe files from ex-employees, or for other security reasons.

A second new feature is account transfer, which allows employers to move an account to another employee, due to promotions or other movements. Thirdly, a sharing audit function will enable an organisation to track who has seen what files.

These are important updates for Dropbox to be seen as a serious contender in the cloud storage and sharing space, particularly in bigger organisations. However the real game changer has only been hinted at, and that is Project Harmony, which will bring collaboration to Dropbox documents.

Dropbox say that Harmony will

let you see who’s editing a file, have a conversation with other editors, and keep copies in sync — all right inside the apps you already use

So it won’t matter if one person is editing a file in Word on a Mac and another using a different version of Word on Windows – real time collaboration will still be a possibility.

These are really interesting developments from Dropbox, and the cloud storage space is hotting up at the moment, with price drops from Google, and new feature announcements from the likes of Box too.

Which storage service is your current favourite and what are the features that matter most to you?

Link roundup

I find this stuff so you don’t have to:

Link roundup

I find this stuff so you don’t have to:

Link roundup

I find this stuff so you don’t have to: