Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Framehawk and UBS: my New Thing gets a name...and a big customer

For those who followed my chair-building exploits and my new unnamed stealthy cloud and mobility software start-up, sorry this has taken so long. I’ve been a bit busy. Mainly, it's because there's some pretty interesting stuff we’re working on at my New Thing.

We’re still officially in stealth mode, but today UBS Wealth Management Americas announced they are jumping into mobility with both feet. And we were named as a part of that effort. So I guess that means we’re in sort of “visible” stealth mode, given that we’re not talking about the details of what we’re doing or how we’re doing it. Yet.

But we do have a name now: Framehawk. (And, of course, a Twitter feed: @Framehawk). We’re working with a hand-picked set of name customers to bring existing applications to mobile devices like the iPad in a way that’s fast, secure, and doesn’t require you to rewrite those applications.

Framehawk is part of the UBS FA Mobile project

The mobility project at UBS is a big deal for their 6,000 Financial Advisors. As a start, they are bringing their proprietary wealth-management research and client materials to the iPad. “As our FAs engage with clients in an environments that compels 24/7 connectivity, we are thrilled to launch an innovative platform that gets us in front of this market change and gives us an edge,” said Anita Sands, chief operating officer for UBS Wealth Management Americas in the UBS press release about the efforts today.

In the release, UBS announced they’ve launched a 3-month pilot for a project called UBS FA Mobile in which groups of their Financial Advisors will be able to use their iPads to improve how they work with their wealth management customers.

And Framehawk is a key partner in this project. As UBS said in their press release, “This pilot phase follows a development process led by UBS's Technology group that included engaging with WMA’s FAs to provide feedback and input to the tool’s design, as well as technical development assistance, counsel, and mobility software from Silicon Valley-based Framehawk, Inc.”

How important is this project for UBS? In an interview with Registered Rep, Anita said, "We are going to consider mobile the platform of the future and place our strategic bets in that space. In the future, mobile will come first [at UBS], then the desktop second."

"UBS WMA has broken new ground," writes John Byrne of Registered Rep. He quoted Alois Pirker of Aite saying that he wasn't aware of any other firms who have a similar mobile offering like UBS. "I haven't heard of anything like the UBS application," said Pirker.

And for Framehawk: a different way to appear on the scene

This is probably the first most folks are hearing of Framehawk. And I think that's good. Usually, software start-ups make big, splashy announcements about how they’re going to change the world, then announce their product, and finally get around to talking about customers.

I like that we’re doing this all the other way around. It seems much more logical, if you think about it, to talk about customer value first. We intend to keep that up.

There’s a bit of information about Framehawk at our website, but not much detail yet. The company was bootstrapped for a few years by the founders, Peter Badger and Stephen Vilke (both with deep roots in the financial services industry), until they took an A Round of VC funding in 2010 from Alsop Louie Partners, Correlation Ventures, and Triangle Peak Partners.

I’ve previously worked with a number of the Framehawk folks on the sales and services side while at BEA and Cassatt, and the Framehawk team has an incredible technical pedigree, including some folks from NASA. Hey, if you can communicate with spacecraft, using an iPad to work with critical enterprise applications should be a breeze, right?

I also think the time is right for enterprises to tackle mobility. I’m noticing some similar themes from my recent cloud-filled past: we're talking to folks about an innovative, new capability with great promise that large organizations are trying to figure out how to make the most of. There are a lot of lessons (related both to specific technology and adoption) that we’ve learned from cloud computing that we are applying to what we’re doing at Framehawk. And best of all (from my point of view, anyway), all these things are a great fit for me personally.

More details to come on all of this. But for right now, UBS is focused on putting their pilot through its paces. And Framehawk is going to be pretty quiet and focused on working with UBS and our other early customers.

If you want to stay up to date, follow @Framehawk on Twitter for the latest and greatest. Feel free to drop me a line (jay.fry@framehawk.com) if you want more information under NDA.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

In honor of Cloud Expo, 5 cloud computing predictions for 2012

Jeremy Geelan of Sys-Con asked me to pull out my cloud computing crystal ball a few months early this year. He had me join a bunch of other folks working in the cloud space to look ahead at what 2012 has in store.

Jeremy posted the 2012 cloud predictions article in the lead-up to Cloud Expo in Santa Clara (flashback: here’s my take on last year’s Silicon Valley event, timed well with a certain Bay Area baseball team's World Series victory). The cloud prognostication post featured thoughts from people like Peter Coffee of salesforce.com, Christian Reilly of Bechtel (yes, he’s back there by way of Cloud.com and Citrix), Krishnan Subramanian of Cloud Ave, Brian Gracely of Cisco, Ellen Rubin of CloudSwitch (now Verizon), and Randy Bias of Cloudscaling, many of whom are past or current speakers at the Cloud Expo event.

As for my portion of the list, it’s an amalgamation of what I’ve seen maturing in this space from my years at private cloud pioneer Cassatt Corp., the work I did building the cloud business at CA Technologies, plus new perspectives from my first few months at my still-stealthy New Thing. On that last front, you’ll notice the word “mobility” makes it into my list a lot more often than it might have a few months ago.

Here are my 2012 cloud computing predictions, excerpted from the longer list:

The consumer convinces the enterprise that cloud is cool. Things like iCloud and Amazon’s Cloud Drive help get your average consumer comfortable with cloud. Consumer acceptance goes a long way to convincing the enterprise that this model is worth investigating – and deploying to. “There might be something to this cloud thing after all….” This, of course, accelerates the adoption of cloud and causes a bunch of changes in the role of IT. It’s all about orchestrating services – and IT’s business cards, mission statements, and org charts change accordingly.

Enterprises start to think about “split processing” – doing your computing where you are and in the cloud. Pressure from mobile devices and the “split browser” idea from things like Amazon Silk lead people to consider doing heavyweight processing in locations other than where the user is interacting. It’s a great model for working with that myriad of mobile devices that have limited processing power (and battery life) that IT is working feverishly to figure out how to support. Somehow.

Using Big Data in the cloud becomes as common as, well, data. Given the rise of NoSQL databases and the ecosystem around Hadoop and related approaches, companies begin to understand that collecting and using massive amounts of data isn’t so hard any more. The cloud makes processing all this information possible without having to build the infrastructure permanently in your data center. And it’s pretty useful in making smart business choices.

The industry moves on from the “how is the infrastructure built and operated?” conversation and thinks instead about what you can do with cloud. This may sound like wishful thinking, but the nuts and bolts of how to use cloud computing are starting to coalesce sufficiently that fewer discussions need to pick apart the ways to deliver IaaS and the like. The small, smart service providers move up the stack and leave the commodity stuff to Amazon and Rackspace, finding niches for themselves in delivering new service capabilities. (Read profiles of some service providers doing this kind of thing in my most recent "interview" posts.) Finally, enterprises can have a more useful conversation -- not about how do we make this work, but about how our business can benefit. The question now becomes: what new business can come from the cloud model?

Applications become disposable. Enterprises will start to leverage the on-demand nature of cloud computing and take a page from the user experience of tablet and smartphone apps. The result: thinking about applications and their deployment less monolithically. The cloud will help enterprises make smarter decisions about how to handle their processing needs, and give them a way to do on-demand app distribution to both customers and employees. This will open up new options for access, even to older legacy applications. Enterprises will also start to evolve applications into smaller functional chunks -- like iPad or iPhone apps.

Topics worth watching

So, those are some things I think are worth watching for in 2012. Feel free to clip this list and save it on your fridge for a comparison at the end of next year. I’d also advise taking a look at what the other cloud folks that Jeremy rounded up thought were in need of a mention, too.

Even if any one of us is way off on what is actually going to happen in 2012, the overall list is a good guide to some really key issues for the next 12 months. And it will be a pretty good list of cloud computing buzz topics both onstage and on the floor at Cloud Expo. And, I'd bet, for several cloud events to come.