Wednesday, July 4, 2012

The Trend of Cloud Computing

Cloud computing technology is not something new.  When you first registered your Hotmail or Gmail account many years back, it has already existed, not to mention all the social media websites like Facebook, Twitter or Linkedin, where you create and host your personal data over onto their servers.  

IBM mainframe computer
IT development trend has always been a scaling down process. For example, it started from mainframe (1950s) to minicomputers (1970s) to PCs (1980s) to laptops (1990s) and later to tablets (2010s). The path software developers underwent was also in this sequence, offering solutions first to big organizations, later to the small ones, and lastly for personal use. But for cloud computing, the sequence is the reverse, which involves a scaling up process.

There are two different modes of reception for individuals and corporations for technology and cloud computing adoption. Normally, individuals would embrace technology faster and more freely than corporations if not due to the fact that the computing power was too expensive to acquire in the past. And the size of IT devices mattered too. When Apollo 11 landed on the moon in 1969, the computing power they used was only as good as today’s iPhone. Who would reject an iPhone if they can afford one?

How to hit the right button for cloud services?
For the consumer market, the term cloud computing shouldn’t be of their concerns and in fact might never cross their minds. Just like how they picked up on the iCloud concept effortlessly, starting to use it as though it is second nature to them.

But when cloud-computing technology moves up to corporate level, there are processes and crucial issues for consideration. Hence the migration becomes a very tough decision, particularly when they have to deal with the idea of letting a third party vendor host their classified data.  

In short, cloud computing is a term for anything that involves delivering hosted services over the Internet. These services are broadly divided into three categories: Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS), Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS). The name cloud computing was inspired by the cloud symbol that is often used to represent the Internet in flowcharts and diagrams.

For Amazon Web Services and GoogleApps, they provide IaaS and PaaS with development tools respectively for developers to host their services for customers; they are not situated in the front line for direct interaction with users.

But for our TimeTec Cloud in the Software-as-a-Service cloud model, we provide the hardware infrastructure (even though it is via Amazon’s cloud computing power), the TimeTec software application and the interaction with the user through a front-end portal. Because we host both the application and the data, the end user is free to use the service from any location.

In fact, cloud computing in SaaS model is a highly integrated and sophisticated service. Yet, it has to be simple, in the perspective of users. That’s the biggest challenge, for all SaaS providers, including TimeTec Cloud.

by Teh Hon Seng, CEO, FingerTec HQ

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

TimeTec Cloud - A Letter to Resellers

Dear Valued Resellers,

We all seek stability in a volatile business world all the time. 

Most of us are not accustomed to a roller-coaster pattern of sales, because even though it evokes excitement to some people, it could cause a heart attack in others. 

The fast changing nature of technology makes business sustainability a constant worry for business owners, regardless of the stability and profitability of their existing industry. When a certain technology goes obsolete, it could drag the whole industry down with it, and you may find yourself out of business almost instantly.

We are fortunate. Our biometrics business started to boom in 2005 when the technology stabilized and the market was ready to accept the new technology, and so far we have registered a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 40.68 percent from 2005 to 2011. But new technologies are quickly becoming old; we can't just expect the line on the chart to continue going upward as we please. Eventually it would slow down, progress into a plateau and even start a downhill progression if nothing is being done to improve the trend; this is the norm for most businesses. 

It occurred to me that a recurring revenue business model could be the solution to our worry. When we deal with hardware, customers would buy once and only repurchase when their hardware encounters irreparable damage or a breakdown, or if they happen to open a new branch. In this situation you would be just hoping that they will stick to your brand. Even if you have secured some maintenance contracts and received recurring fees every year, the revenue contributed from this segment is minute in comparison. However, a recurring sales model might seem beyond our reach for our industry. 

A few years back when I was contemplating on the cloud computing technology concept, it transpired to me that we could offer TimeTec Cloud to be seamlessly integrated with our FingerTec products, as a recurring revenue business model to be operated concurrently with our current business model.

We built on that idea when we planned and implemented a CRM system four years ago to improve our sales and support system. We settled on without much argument, and our exposure to the world's most successful Software as a Service (SaaS) model, gave us a hands-on experience from the world’s best. To be the best, we learn from the best.

Unlike Nokia that was promoting their cell phones as hardware only, Apple which came out with their smart phones in 2007, offered various services which included apps and content uniquely integrated with its hardware to guarantee recurring revenue. And, without much struggle, they became the most valuable company in the world.

Equipped with our own vision, it took us almost four years to materialize it. Of course, as our valued resellers, we have factored you into our plans for the future of FingerTec. Successfully changing goals from a product-based company to a service-based one will take one large and contributive effort from all parties - preparation and foresight is essential in this effort.

And along with TimeTec Cloud, you may even want to start considering a change in your product sales model to a rental based business model

The future is now, and the question is: Are you up for joining us? 

Teh Hon Seng
Chief Executive Officer

by Teh Hon Seng, CEO, FingerTec HQ