James Governor's Monkchips

If You Can’t Cloud It You Can’t Measure It

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Its hardly the most original insight that cloud apps provide a lot of data about how users use the app – this data can then be used to improve the application. Tim O’Reilly tagged this thinking in Web 2.0 terms years ago. We have seen SaaS providers take advantage accordingly. Useage data? That’s some valuable metadata right there.

But I was still struck by something VMware CEO Paul Maritz said the other day at a London briefing event. You see- VMWare had a problem. It didn’t actually know how or what people were using its free ESX download for.

We had no idea what for, so we created a free hosted ESX SaaS service to try and gain better insight into what they are doing. Now 400 people a day look at it, and we’re getting our first upsell opportunities.

This really is a new way of doing business. It underpins our new RedMonk Analytics platform. You need to get your software hosted to better understand how people want to use it. That’s a key cloud benefit. In a SaaS environment when a customer calls something a “requirement” you’re in a much better position to push back – oh, you mean extending that function that nobody actually uses?

Cloud offers all kinds of new opportunities for tech firms. But also of course enterprise IT. As Maritz puts it:

“Managers are going to get a new kind of light they can shine into the hedgerows of IT”.

If you can’t measure it you can’t manage it (Maritz actually worked under Andy Grove, one of the claimed originators of that maxim). Well Cloud allows for measurement in a way that on prem just doesn’t.


  1. I have to say I deeply disagree with this post. Somehow you need cloud computing to measure behaviour/usage? What a load of rubbish. (Said in the nicest possible way of course 🙂 )
    The truth is that desktop/client apps or enterprise apps CAN measure usage and behaviour it’s just, quite simply, that they never bothered with it.
    To say that you have to move to a cloud based model to be able to measure is incredibly misleading.
    Sorry I like everything else you write, but this is a wrong’un.

    1. @martincoetzee nice! thanks for the feedback. glad i “normally” get it right at least. of course you’re right that “desktop/client apps or enterprise apps CAN measure usage and behaviour” with a great deal of work. but with the cloud, instrumentation and data collection are far easier, and are increasingly baked into the model. and in the VMware case… as someone that works closely with open source organisations its very common that they know number of downloads but literally nothing to do with implementation. or look at windows – how many asset management companies are there out there?

  2. Too true.

    After your “clarification” you may proceed. 🙂

    Thanks for a nice follow up.

    1. thanks martin! permission to proceed appreciated 🙂

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