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To: stockman_scott who wrote (841)2/23/2012 5:19:59 PM
From: Glenn Petersen
2 Recommendations   of 1471
CRM is up 10-12 percent in AH trading:

Salesforce Beats; Q4 Revenue Up 38 Percent to $632 Million, Raises Guidance

February 23, 2012

CRM giant Salesforce just released earnings this afternoon, beating Wall Street expectations. Non-GAAP diluted earnings per share was $0.43 for the quarter. Total Q4 revenue was $632 million, an increase of 38% on a year-over-year basis. Analysts expected earnings of $0.40 cents per share on revenue of $624 million.

“’s 38% revenue growth in the fourth quarter was a spectacular finish to our fiscal year, a year in which we delivered 37% revenue growth and added nearly 2,500 employees, including nearly 2,000 in the U.S.,” said Salesforce CEO and founder Marc Benioff in a release. “Given the strong customer response to the social enterprise, we’re excited to raise our guidance today, which puts us on pace to exceed the $3 billion revenue run rate during FY13.”

In terms of net income, the company took a loss of $4 million for the quarter. Salesforce says that this included $70 million in stock-based compensation expense, approximately $20 million in amortization of purchased intangibles, and approximately $4 million in net non-cash interest expense related to the company’s convertible senior notes.

Subscription and support revenues were $594 million, an increase of 39% on a year-over-year basis. Professional services and other revenues were $38 million, an increase of 33% on a year-over-year basis.

For the full fiscal year 2012, the company reported revenue of $2.27 billion, an increase of 37% from the prior year. Subscription and support revenues were $2.13 billion, an increase of 37% on a year-over-year basis. Professional services and other revenues were $140 million, an increase of 32% on a year-over-year basis.

Cash generated from operations for the fiscal fourth quarter was $240 million, an increase of 45% on a year-over-year basis.

Revenue for the company’s first fiscal quarter is projected to be in the range of $673 million to $678 million, an increase of 33% to 34%, year-over-year. As mentioned above, Salesforce is also raising its projected full fiscal year 2013 revenue to be in the range of $2.92 billion to $2.95 billion, an increase of 29% to 30%, year-over-year.

Salesforce has launched a number of products over the past quarter including The company also acquired Model Metrics and Rypple as well.

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To: stockman_scott who wrote (841)2/23/2012 10:53:17 PM
From: Glenn Petersen
2 Recommendations   of 1471
Marc Benioff Is Thinking Bigger

Victoria Barret, Forbes Staff
2/23/2012 @ 6:11PM

Salesforce beat Wall Street expectations and its investors benefited generously. After announcing revenue of $632 million, up 38% from a year ago, shares jumped 10% in after-hours trading. That puts the already pricey stock in the stratosphere. On a GAAP basis, the company is unprofitable. As my colleague Eric Savitz notes in his digest of earnings, Salesforce now trades at close to 90x projected January 2013 fiscal year earnings.

So the next question is: Can this last? Marc Benioff certainly believes so.

For Salesforce to keep growing at such a clip it needs to win non-CRM deals, so deals away from the company’s core sales tools offering. And it needs to pull big customers away from its bigger rivals, notably Oracle and SAP. On the earnings call Benioff made the case this is happening, and quickly. He was also very intentional about signaling to investors that there’s more to come: “Honestly we’ve never seen a pipeline like this. It’s been building through the year. We did not clean the pipeline out by any means.”

Highlights from the call:

-One of the recent big customer wins: Hewlett-Packard, which switched from Siebel Systems (owned by Oracle)

-Salesforce is looking at an annual revenue run rate of $3 billion in its fiscal year 2013. Three years ago Salesforce hit $1 billion in revenues.

-Three big gaming companies have turned off Oracle RightNow, the customer service software Oracle acquired earlier this year, in favor of Salesforce (Electronic Arts, Activision and Zynga).

-Benioff said that 40% of Salesforce’s new business came from non-CRM offerings (the company’s core product).

-Salesforce’s developer platform has enlisted 480,000 developers.

-Developers have built one million applications on Heroku, a development platform Salesforce acquired a little over a year ago. Outside developers working on Facebook applications now have the option to use Heroku. Benioff called this a “huge catalyst”.

-The company added 2,500 employees over the past year, mostly in the U.S. That’s an increase of 47%.

-Salesforce just completed its largest transaction ever, worth nine-figures, in the current quarter. In the past quarter it closed 100 seven-figure transactions and nine eight-figure transactions.

-Benioff was emphatic that his so-called “social enterprise” will be the biggest driver of growth, along with the company’s developer platform efforts and call center software.

-He took direct aim at the recent M&A activity in the software industry. “I don’t really get it. Why are these companies selling?” He took real direct aim at Lars Dalgaard, the chief of SuccessFactors, which just sold to SAP: “He had a great company. Now it is gone. I think he made a mistake.” Lars recently told me he feels differently. In SAP, he gets a massive sales force with incentives to sell SuccessFactors, and a big pool of eager developers.

On the tricky topic of profitability Benioff said: “I am very committed to expanding our margins. But I just delivered a 37% growth year. I think it is a mistake to be delivering 25% growth right now. This is the renaissance! This is the great time of the cloud! We’ve all changed how we’re using computers and there needs to be an enterprise company that can deliver this at scale. But at the same time I’m committed to raising margins. That’s important for the company. We’re trying to do it all, and doing it all is hard.”

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To: stockman_scott who wrote (841)2/25/2012 10:24:29 AM
From: Glenn Petersen
1 Recommendation   of 1471
Why Dropbox Is A Major Disruption

Bill Gurley
Posted on February 23, 2012.

Back in October, Techcrunch announced that Dropbox had raised $250mm at a seemingly absurd valuation. Many firms, including my firm Benchmark Capital, participated. When this happened, many people asked us why this was a special company that would cause us to break our standard investment paradigm. They didn’t quite understand why this was a company that deserved once-in-a-generation special attention.

The first answer to this question is rather straightforward, but not earth shattering. Drew Houston and his team had taken a hard problem — file synchronization — and made it brain dead simple. Anyone that had used previous file synchronization programs, including Apple’s own iDisk, constantly encountered state problems. Modifications in one location would get out of synch with those in another, ruining the entire premise of seamless synchronization. It wasn’t that these other companies did not understand the problem, it was just that they could not execute on the solution. The Dropbox team solved this, which was a critical innovation.

Although this was critical, nailing technical synchronization would not necessarily warrant outsized valuations. In order to be worth $40B one day (which is 10X the $4B reported round, the objective return of a VC investment), the company would need to hold a place in the ecosystem that is far more strategic than that of a simple high-tech problem solver. So what is it Dropbox does that is so special?

This evening, TechCrunch reported that Dropbox would automatically synch your Android photos. Once again, someone could suggest “so what, how hard is it to do that?, and why is that worth billions?”

Here is why. Once you begin using Dropbox, you become more and more indifferent to the hardware you are using, as well as the operating system on that device. Dropbox commoditizes your devices and their OS, by being your “state” system in the sky. Storing credentials and configurations of devices, and even applications are natural next steps for this company. And the further they take it, the less dependent any user becomes of the physical machine (HW and SW) that is accessing that data (and state). Imagine the number of companies, as well as the previous paradigms, this threatens.

That is a major, major deal. And it comes at a time where there are many competing platforms on both desktop and mobile. This “unsure” market backdrop ensures the need for a cross-platform solution and plays right into Dropbox’s hand. You can lose your desktop computer, you can lose your smartphone. It doesn’t matter, because all you really care about is in the Dropbox cloud.

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To: stockman_scott who wrote (841)3/4/2012 12:20:00 AM
From: Glenn Petersen
1 Recommendation   of 1471
Zynga is transitioning its gaming cloud platform from Amazon to its internal Z-Cloud platform:

Zynga's play platform a big test for its cloud computing prowess

By Larry Dignan
March 2, 2012, 6:37am PST

Summary: Zynga has transitioned from Amazon Web Services to its own Citrix-enabled Z-Cloud. That Z-Cloud will be tested as becomes a destination.

Zynga’s move to create its own platform and Web service for game developers will be a big test for its cloud computing infrastructure.

The game company on Thursday outlined its new platform. In a nutshell, will become a destination for games. The company will also diversify away from Facebook, which accounts for most of Zynga’s distribution. Zynga will also open up its platform to third party game developers.

None of those items would be possible without Zynga’s Z-Cloud infrastructure. That infrastructure relies heavily on Citrix software and virtualization technology.

The launch of Zynga’s platform is notable because the company has totally revamped its approach to cloud computing. In July, Zynga said it would file for an initial public offering and noted that Amazon Web Services was its background. On July 1 Zynga said:

A significant majority of our game traffic is hosted by Amazon Web Services, or AWS, which service uses multiple locations.

On Feb 28, Zynga’s annual report was filed with some word tweaks:

In the fourth quarter of 2011, AWS hosted approximately one-third of our game traffic.

Zynga executives highlighted the move from AWS on the company’s fourth quarter earnings conference call. Zynga operating chief John Schappert said:

We have built our own infrastructure, the Z-Cloud, to handle the tens of millions of players we serve each day. We migrated a number of our key games over to the Z-Cloud, which provides ongoing network savings and enhanced performance for our players. By the end of the year, nearly 80% of our DAUs (daily active users) were hosted in the Z-Cloud, compared to just 20% at the beginning of the year. Our technology sets us apart from other companies in our space and helps our games scale higher and perform faster while keeping costs down.

In other words, Zynga is controlling more of its own destiny. With the launch of its game platform it diversifies away from Facebook. With the scaling of Z-Cloud, Zynga controls its infrastructure fate too.

Zynga’s engineering blog has key details about the migration from AWS to Z-Cloud. CTO Allan Leinwand said:

Between 2009 and 2011, we increased our physical server capacity by two orders of magnitude. We turned zCloud into a faster and more automated system. For social games specifically, zCloud offers 3x the efficiency of standard public cloud infrastructure. For example, where our games in the public cloud would require three physical servers, zCloud only uses one. We worked on provisioning and automation tools to make zCloud event faster and easier to set up. We’ve optimized storage operations and networking throughput for social gaming. Systems that took us days to set up instead took minutes. zCloud became a sports car that’s finely tuned for games.

As for vendors, Citrix gets the biggest win here. Citrix executives have been talking up Zynga as a reference customer for quite some time. Why? Zynga is using Citrix’s XenServer and Cloudstack to deliver its services. Sameer Dholakia, general manager of cloud platforms at Citrix, outlined some of the Zynga economics at a Pacific Crest conference Feb. 15. Dholakia said:

Zynga was Amazon’s single largest customer. They were spending literally north of a $100 million a year renting infrastructure from Amazon. They needed it for elasticity. What they didn’t know, if I put out a game, was I going to get a million users, 10 million users, 50 million users? They had no idea. But once they did know, then you can actually build capacity to it. And so they have basically built what they call a Z-Cloud, a Zynga cloud, that is an Amazon style cloud on premise on our stuff. And they needed CloudStack and XenServer and all this stuff underneath it. And so this is where all of our suite comes together and this is how we make money.

Overall, Zynga found it more cost effective to build out its cloud capacity internally once it could benchmark its traffic spikes. In addition, Zynga is now a cloud provider. Piper Jaffray analyst Michael Olson noted:

We believe could alter the Zynga growth story going forward. Importantly, represents a reclassification of Zynga’s business model by adding other small-to-mid sized developers as customers. We believe the service is analogous to Amazon Web Services and Fulfillment by Amazon as it opens Zynga’s existing technology infrastructure to third parties. This new model is also consistent with Zynga’s core competency of analytics and cross promotion.

The economics for Zynga go like this:

  • According to Dave Wehner, CFO of Zynga, the company will lower its cost of revenue over the next 18 to 24 months as third-party hosting costs decrease. Wehner said that Zynga plans to “roll off the majority of those third-party hosting arrangements.”
  • Zynga’s capital expenditures in the fourth quarter were $50 million, down from $63 million in the third quarter. Most of that spending is focused on Z-Cloud. For 2011, capital investments were $238 million.
  • The building of its own infrastructure will help the bottom line. Zynga can depreciate its gear and lower quarterly expenses. “We believe this investment will have a short payback period and enable us to expand gross margins in the long term,” said Wehner.
Now all Zynga has to do is keep Z-Cloud humming so it can handle traffic spikes. In any case, Zynga now controls its own fate—distribution and infrastructure—much more than it did a year ago.

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To: stockman_scott who wrote (841)3/4/2012 11:42:39 PM
From: Glenn Petersen
1 Recommendation   of 1471
The cloud goes public

The market seems to be welcoming business-software IPOs with open arms, provided they offer some cloud computing capabilities. They are not, however, being met with the critical scrutiny Facebook has received.

By Kevin Kelleher, contributor
CNN Money
February 27, 2012: 10:35 AM ET

FORTUNE -- Facebook may be grabbing the lion's share of IPO news coverage these days as the social network prepares to raise $5 billion from the public markets. But even as Facebook's planned IPO seems to be drawing some critical scrutiny, several smaller IPOs that went public under the banner of cloud computing are faring much better.

The latest example is Bazaarvoice ( BV), which sold 9.5 million shares at $12 a share, above the initial range of $8 to $10 a share. Last Friday, on its first day of trading, Bazaarvoice closed up 38% at $16.51. The Austin, Tex., company monitors how company products and services are discussed on social networks and review sites. In some ways, Bazaarvoice is a test for bigger-name IPOs coming up -- Facebook as well as review site Yelp notably -- but since it hosts much of its word-of-mouth management software online, it's also grouped together with other recent cloud-computing IPOs.

A week earlier Brightcove ( BCOV) went public, rising 30% on its first day of trading. Brightcove, which offers a cloud-based platform where its customers can publish online videos, has held steady since then, closing last week at $15.10, or 37% above its offering price. The firm's services are used by companies ranging from General Motors ( GM) to Electronic Arts ( ERTS).

There are some reasons for those warm welcomes. Both Bazaarvoice and Brightcove are experiencing the kind of healthy growth that investors like to see in newly listed companies. Bazaarvoice saw revenue rise 67% in its fiscal 2011 and 65% during the nine months through January 2012. Brightcove's 2010 revenue grew 21% and the pace picked up last year, rising 45%.

Both also have metrics that -- during recent, finickier IPO markets – have caused some IPOs to falter or not even get out the gate. Both posted net losses during their past two fiscal years, thanks largely to operating expenses that ate up most of revenue. And both saw negative cash flows during the same periods.

Neither Bazaarvoice nor Brigthcove is generating enough money yet to finance its own operations. Bazaarvoice says the upfront costs of acquiring new clients, coupled with the recording of revenue over an extended period, caused the negative cash flow. Brightcove also cites deferred revenue as well as accounts receivable because of an increase in new customers.

That can be seen as a red flag for IPO investors, since it can signal a company that's desperate for cash but that may not have a plan to become profitable. In these cases, being involved in the cloud industry is enough to give them a mulligan.

And there is some reason for investors to be optimistic. As cloud-computing companies scale up to take on more customers, their infrastructure costs don't rise as quickly. But there are also plenty of risks: any hot tech sector is bound to lure in new competitors, many of them with deeper pockets than startups that have been burning through cash.

Earlier this year, two other cloud companies enjoyed successful IPOs, each offering business software for specific industries. In late January, Guidewire Software ( GWRE), which offers web-based software for insurers, raised $116 million in an offering that listed its shares at $13 a share. The stock, which rose 32% on its first day of trading, is now 81% higher than its offering price. In early February, Greenway Medical Technologies ( GWAY), which helps physicians manage patient data, went public at $10 a share, raising $67 million. The stock also closed 30% up on its first day, and is now 45% above its offering price.

Greenway showed a net profit in its fiscal year through June 30, but slipped to a $406,000 net loss in its most recent quarter. Guidewire is the only consistently profitable company of the four recent cloud IPOs, reporting a $8.3 million profit last year before taxes and $7.9 million profit in its most recent quarter.

All of which explains why Guidewire is the best performing stock of the four cloud companies to go public in recent weeks. Its success seemed to pave the way for cloud IPOs that were significantly smaller in revenue and that had yet to post a profit. But somehow they have all managed to receive warm welcomes in a IPO market that is not always kind to red ink.

It may be chalked up to cloud mania. Or it may be Wall Street priming its IPO for more web-based offerings ahead of the mammoth Facebook deal. It's very much in the interest of Facebook -- and its investment banks -- to see web IPOs perform well after they debut. But recent history shows that many web offerings that start strong out of the gate languish after a few months.

That may be the case with these cloud IPOs as well, except perhaps for Guidewire. For companies that are losing money and burning through cash, they are priced richly: Greenway is trading at 4.5 times its historical revenue, Brightcove is trading at 6.1 times, and Bazaarvoice at an expensive 14.6 times revenue. If investors were to put the kind of critical scrutiny to these stocks that analysts and reporters are applying to Facebook's financials, they might not be faring so well.

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To: stockman_scott who wrote (841)3/6/2012 7:47:20 AM
From: Glenn Petersen
1 Recommendation   of 1471
Business Cloud Consulting Is Consolidating

New York Times
March 6, 2012, 6:41 am

Cloud-based business software has come of age: the consultants are consolidating, investors are placing bigger bets, and the online giants are aiding their smaller allies.

Cloud Sherpas, an Atlanta company that helps companies use Google’s online word processing and spreadsheet business, called Google Apps, is merging with GlobalOne, a New York consultancy that specializes in helping companies use the business productivity applications from The new company will keep the Cloud Sherpas name, and is picking up a $20 million investment from Columbia Capital.

The resulting company, with over 1,500 business clients, will be the largest so-called cloud service provider, the industry name for a cloud consultancy for business applications. These new applications are intended to replace existing on-site software from companies like Microsoft and Oracle.

In addition to its traditional work of adapting legacy enterprise computing systems to a cloud computing environment, David Northington, Cloud Sherpas’s chief executive, said the company will also offer collaborative and mobile strategic advice and applications.

“Google and Salesforce are aware of what we’re doing, and they’ve had a very positive reception about our plan,” he said. “Using Google Apps leads to Salesforce work, and when they connect to Salesforce, it leads to more Google work.”

In addition, he said, Cloud Sherpas is looking at ways it can offer services related to other cloud enterprise software companies, like Workday.

Executives at Google and Salesforce confirmed that they were aware of the deal, and happy about its strategic implications. “This is another indication of the growth we’re seeing in our business,” said Ron Huddleston, the senior vice president for business alliances at Salesforce. “There is a vision here of a new kind of consultant, who can build collaborative services, connect companies to their customers, and in the longer term connect products themselves into a social network.”

Last September, Salesforce initiated a $50 million investment fund for cloud service providers, in particular for developing skills in building cloud-ready mobile and social applications. Mr. Huddleston would not comment on whether Cloud Sherpas had received some of that money.

Unlike the traditional consulting services provided by companies like I.B.M. and Accenture, cloud service providers tend to provide companies with shorter-term services like connecting a company’s internal human resources software to a more generic Google App. The consultants also frequently charge clients a small recurring fee, instead of a large one-time fee. There is more on their business model here.

Mr. Northington said these characteristics, along with a bias to keep offering their older and more profitable products, will make it hard for traditional consultants to compete for cloud services provider business. “I.B.M. and Accenture could offer what we do, and they almost certainly will say they will,” he said. “We don’t have a competing business across our halls, we can speak without an internal conflict.”

While a bigger firm could buy Cloud Sherpas, Mr. Northington said, a more likely suitor, as well as an ally for his company, would be a computer hardware manufacturer that is looking to move into cloud computing technology and needed consulting as part of its sales and service strategy. “We are committed to long-term growth,” he added. “We want to bring a full spectrum of cloud offerings to customers.”

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From: Glenn Petersen3/11/2012 8:03:39 PM
2 Recommendations   of 1471
h/t Bill Hammond

Oracle has a cloud computing secret

By George Gilbert, Tech-Alpha
Mar. 10, 2012, 9:00am PT

There’s a reason Larry Ellison called cloud computing “ nonsense” in 2009 and why he still won’t permit Amazon-style metered pricing for Oracle’s mainstream database and middleware. A traditional 11g database license that today costs $2.8 million up front would cost less than $9 per hour using Oracle’s mySQL on Amazon. (Keep reading to see why this apples-to-oranges comparison is valid.)

We’ve seen a similar scenario play out before — back when IBM mainframes ran mission-critical applications on legacy databases. IBM actually pioneered relational databases, but it was conflicted about selling the lower-priced, lower-margin servers needed to run them.

These servers had the price-to-performance ratio customers needed for the performance-hungry RDBs. So a new generation of infrastructure vendors — led by DEC, HP, Sun, Microsoft and Oracle — disrupted the old IBM platform. Just like IBM, Oracle has the technical wherewithal to compete with the new databases that are powering cloud-based applications, but they’re conflicted about how to handle metered pricing in these environments.

Metered pricing disrupts old business models

We are in the midst of at least two technology disruptions. But as Clayton Christensen described in “The Innovator’s Dilemma,” disruptions are more often about addressing the needs of “un-served” and “over-served” customers than they are about revolutionary technologies. Web 2.0 apps are a perfect example of customers over-served by Oracle’s enterprise database. During the dot-com bubble, Oracle’s enterprise database ran on big Sun and EMC boxes and powered both Web and SAP-class applications. Since then, however, untold numbers of Web apps moved to the low-end and less expensive mySQL as part of a migration to the LAMP stack.

The second disruption is reaching un-served customers in social media and other new markets who are building big data applications with new levels of data volume, variety and velocity. These customers are often using the SMAQ stack or the still-emerging class of NoSQL or NewSQL databases.

Amazon enabled both of these disruptions by offering two critical features. They enabled on-demand delivery with elastic capacity, using hourly metered pricing and the ability to automate complete control of the remote hardware infrastructure, as Scalr CEO Sebastian Stadil recently explained to me. (Scalr manages applications for thousands of customers on Amazon and other service providers.)

Traditionally, the most challenging disruptive innovations force incumbent vendors to change their business models. Oracle clearly has the technical wherewithal to build databases that meet the needs of Web 2.0 and big data applications. But changing the resources, processes and values that underpin its business model in order to support metered pricing will be immensely challenging.

A closer look at traditional and metered prices

Even if Amazon fully supported a typical Oracle configuration, Oracle’s bread-and-butter enterprise edition database in a two-node cluster with RAC and caching on Amazon’s largest EC2 databases would cost more than $900,000 in upfront licensing fees. But according to Scalr’s data, a typical application runs most of the time at only 40 percent of its peak capacity. Since Oracle requires buying licenses for peak capacity, a $900,000 cluster would be upsized to $2.3 million. With the obligatory pre-payment of 12 months’ maintenance, the initial commitment totals $2.8 million.

Compare that to a baseline cost of $5.20 per hour for the same configuration of mirrored mySQL database servers. Peak demand would top out at $12, but it would hit that only periodically, such as during a holiday shopping surge. Scalr’s data also indicates that when capacity is averaged out between peaks and a 40-percent baseline, it comes out to 60 percent of peak capacity. So with metered pricing, if we start from $12 an hour for peak capacity, that totals an average cost of $8.70 an hour, or $19,000 per quarter or $76,000 per year.

The traditional, upfront model has additional charges. According to Michael Crandell, CEO of RightScale (a company that has launched more than 3.5 million servers for customers on Amazon and other service providers), managing the full application lifecycle may require additional licenses. Server licenses for use in quality assurance, load testing, staging and standbys for failover might not be included in the production license. Add those to the $2.8 million.

How metered pricing disrupts Oracle’s business

The most important number to traditional enterprise software companies is their total revenue during the quarter they make a sale. The bigger that number, the more profitable the company looks after subtracting the heavy, and relatively fixed, upfront expenses for sales and marketing and R&D. Oracle today recognizes immediately $2.3 million after subtracting the 12-month maintenance subscription of $0.5 million from the $2.8 million total.

At the risk of greatly over-simplifying its published income statement, let’s say that Oracle would then subtract one-third, or $750,000-plus, for sales and marketing and R&D. (In reality, the sales and marketing expense for license revenue is actually higher, because follow-on maintenance services take little effort to sell, and dwarf the license revenue). The remaining $1.5 million would be Oracle’s profit margin for the quarterly reporting period when they made the sale. Now subtract that same $750,000 in expenses from the $19,000 in quarterly revenue under metered pricing. That comes to a loss of $730,000 for the quarter in which the sale is made.

In fairness, these metered revenue streams would add up on top of each other. But the point is that the transition to metered pricing would dramatically erode Oracle’s revenue and 45 percent of its operating profit margins. That is why Oracle is resisting metered pricing.

The bottom line

Contrary to Oracle’s claims, neither its Exadata database machine nor its database appliance is a cloud strategy. Both strategies base their pricing on peak capacity, not on elastic metering. Furthermore, discrete hardware is the opposite of cloud infrastructure, which enables near-infinite capacity on demand. Like IBM during the client-server transition, Oracle has the technology to address customer demand. It is just conflicted about the business implications of cloud computing’s metered pricing.

George Gilbert is a co-founder at TechAlpha Partners, a consultancy that works with vendors serving the enterprise market, startups and institutional investors on issues of business strategy and product management and marketing. Previously, Gilbert was the lead enterprise software analyst for Credit Suisse First Boston, a leading investment bank in the technology sector.

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To: stockman_scott who wrote (841)3/15/2012 7:03:29 AM
From: Glenn Petersen
   of 1471
Constant Contact has begun offering daily deals:

Message 28013566

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From: Margin of Safety3/22/2012 2:31:03 AM
1 Recommendation   of 1471
A simple and easy to understand white board explanation of the "Cloud" by Level 3 Communications.

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From: Glenn Petersen3/23/2012 2:16:39 PM
2 Recommendations   of 1471
Baidu Takes Aim At Dropbox, Microsoft SkyDrive, With Cloud Storage Service

By Steven Millward
Tech In Asia
Mar 23, 2012 8:38 AM ET

Chinese search engine leader Baidu is holding a developers conference today, from where it has just launched a cloud storage platform called Baidu ( NSDQ: BIDU) WangPan – meaning, literally, ‘web drive’ in Chinese.

As with rivals such as Dropbox, or Microsoft’s (NASDAQ:MSFT) SkyDrive, it allows users to upload files – be they photos, mp3, videos, apps, text documents, etc. – into the cloud to be stored there and accessed anytime. Baidu WangPan will give a free 15GB of space – more than Dropbox’s initial 2GB, but less that SkyDrive’s 25GB – with incentives for unlimited free expansion. It’s not yet clear if it will offer premium extra storage for consumers or businesses.

Baidu WangPan has apps for PC and Android already, with versions for iOS and Mac in the works. Plus, Android users can make use of three Android file-management apps – ES File Explorer, File Expert, and Boat Browser – which all now support Baidu’s new cloud service with updates today.

Baidu’s move is a challenge to Microsoft ( NSDQ: MSFT), as well as local firms such as Alibaba – with its cloud-oriented Aliyun phone – and also bolsters its own Android-based phone OS, Baidu Yi, in the face of competition from Apple’s iOS (which has iCloud) and Microsoft’s WP7 ( which launched in China earlier this week).

The new cloud contender is in private beta for now. At 10am Beijing time everyday, 5,000 fresh invites will go out. Get more info on the Baidu WangPan homepage.

» This article originally appeared on Tech In Asia, and is reproduced here with permission.

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