Strategic View – Volume 4

6918942123 8426b4b25f m Strategic View   Volume 4Welcome to this week’s Strategic View.

Our lead story is about the cloud you have all been hearing about in internet hosting circles.  We think the jury is out – but you be the judge.  We also have a piece on product branding and that twenty-first century puzzler:  is college and a post-grad degree worth it.

Are you ready for this week’s curiosities?

The “Cloudy” Future

As global markets are near some potential turn points in here, we’ve been pondering the outlook for – and impact of – cloud computing. Between our sites (UrbanSurvival, IndependenceJournal, BackdoorSurvival, Peoplenomics, and this one – Strategic Living) only one has so far been moved to “the cloud” and we have to say it has been a mixed blessing. True, the response times are somewhat better – though none of the sites were slow to begin with – but the flip side is somewhat higher costs. As with anything else in Life, the free lunch part is elusive.

So you can imagine our thoughts when this came along:

“Cloud computing is a powerful catalyst for job creation and has greater potential for employment growth than the Internet did in its early years, according to a new study by the Sand Hill Group, sponsored by SAP America, Inc., a subsidiary of SAP AG (NYSE: SAP).6837560220 cdb43b4cf2 Strategic View   Volume 4

At a briefing Wednesday morning in Washington, DC, the study’s authors said cloud computing is already generating a sizable number of jobs in the U.S. today. Based on numerous trends and indicators, it has the future potential to create very large business opportunities and hundreds of thousands of new jobs in the U.S. The study, titled “Job Growth in the Forecast: How Cloud Computing is Generating New Business Opportunities and Fueling Job Growth in the United States,” looked at several ways cloud computing may create jobs and found specifically:

· Eleven cloud computing companies added 80,000 jobs in the United States in 2010, and the employment growth rate at these organizations was almost five times than that of the high-tech sector overall.

· Companies selling cloud services are projected to grow revenues by an average of US$20 billion per year for the next five years, which has the potential to generate as many as 472,000 jobs in the U.S. and abroad in the next five years.

· Venture capital investments in cloud opportunities are projected to be US$30 billion in the next five years, which could add another 213,000 new jobs in the U.S.

· The economic impact for companies buying cloud services can be even more significant. Cloud computing could save U.S. businesses as much as US$625 billion over five years, much of which could be reinvested to create new business opportunities and additional jobs.

The study says three industry megatrends are propelling the growth of cloud services and employment: the boom in mobile computing devices such as smartphones and tablets; the “social” trend in online services; and the growth of “Big Data” flows that require more data management services. Government policies and purchasing decisions at all levels will also have a major influence on cloud adoption and job growth.

“The study confirms that cloud computing can have a significant impact at every key growth stage of the business lifecycle – from launching a startup to expanding a business to managing a multi-national enterprise,” said Jacqueline Vanacek, vice president and cloud computing evangelist at SAP. “Business growth leads to jobs, and cloud computing will accelerate this in certain industries.”

While both Gaye and George have been out on the “bleeding edge” of technology (several times) we’re just a bit sketchy on where all this growth is supposed to come from. True, the move to IPV 6 might have some impact, but that’s not cloud-dependent.

Neither is the large battle for web-based aps, such as Google Documents, Microsoft’s web-enabled Office suite, and others.

True, the cloud does offer some prospect of marginally increased reliability, but with our hosts so far, even things like periodic server replacements on a normal maintenance schedule of replaced drives every X number of hours has been trivial. George’s back of the envelope calculations are that he’s enjoying 99.9% up-time on his sites now and he’s wondering whether the marginal increase in reliability (and in worst case, availability) is worth the costs.   In the meantime, Gaye is seeing a significant increase in both throughput and traffic and credits Google’s love affair with the cloud for the latter.

So the jury is  out.

Most single-source servers (and conventional co-located server farms) do a very good job already and many data centers are built with power coming from two separate sources, and in extra well-built centers, two fiber links coming in from physically different central offices.

So what’s the cloud benefit? A bit more revenue for one thing and perhaps slightly faster access speeds. But for small to medium-sized users – small companies in the $50-million and under class – our thinking for now is that cloud computing is still in the hype phase. Good time to be job-searching, but maybe not quite time to put smaller firm production servers up especially since the present cloud pricing model is bandwidth tariffed.

Branded Consumers

All those radio, television, and banner ads do have their effect on people, defining much of Americas consumption patterns. But they don’t necessarily result in brand loyalty. More often than not, that comes from plain gold good customer service and delivering good products at fair prices, so we start this morning with this press release:

Satmetrix® , the Net Promoter® software company and leader in customer experience programs, today released its 2012 Net Promoter Industry Benchmarks for the financial services, insurance, online services, retailing, technology, telecommunications, and travel and hospitality industries. This year’s study was expanded to reach more than 30,000 U.S. consumers, with ratings for more than 200 brands across 22 industry sectors. This year’s study includes new coverage for auto service and repair, drug stores and pharmacies, hardware and home supply stores, hotels, and travel websites.

Winners include admired brands such as USAA, Amazon.com, Costco, Virgin America, Apple, Trader Joe’s and Wegmans.

One of our favorite tools when shopping for just about anything is the other user reviews which companies like Costco and Amazon use. We find use of peer ratings goes a long ways toward reducing disappointment with shoddy goods.

Wood Heating Is Hot

According to the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, about 2.4 million occupied housing units heat their home by wood in 2010 (2.1 percent of the occupied housing units).

Best Grad Schools

U.S. News & World Report today released the 2013 Best Graduate Schools rankings online at www.usnews.com/grad. Highlights of the rankings will be published in the 2013 Best Graduate Schools book, on sale April 3, 2012. The most comprehensive version of the upcoming Best Graduate Schools, including all the extended rankings and complete data, will be available online only through the U.S. News Graduate School Compass.

If you don’t have the $30 bucks for the access to their site, you could just pick Stanford on the West Coast, or MIT back in the Massachusetts area and call it good. On the other hand, if you can’t pop the $30 bucks, you won’t be able to afford tuition, either, without a lot of help.

But this begs the real question that both of us have explored in the past:  is college really worth it any more?

Missile-ing the Point

The U.S. Navy conducted a successful test flight Feb. 22 of a Trident II D5 Fleet Ballistic Missile (FBM) built by Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT). The Navy launched the unarmed missile from the submerged submarine USS Tennessee (SSBN 734) in the Atlantic Ocean.

This test marked the 137th successful test flight of the D5 missile since 1989 – a reliability record unmatched by any other large ballistic missile or space launch vehicle.

We don’t recommend investing in companies that make arms, but sometimes they do interesting things and turn a decent profit on taxpayer-sponsored militarism.

Battling for the Web

Yahoo is going after Facebook claiming infringement on 10-patents. Too early to say whether there will be any change in the look/feel of the FB site, but when lawyers are about, you never know what to expect.

Speaking of which, we turned on our Facebook Page . . . so what is not to like?

Hang on and enjoy the ride,

The Two G’s – George & Gaye

. . . Your comments welcome here and at The Electric Tribe.

Spotlight Items:  Strategic View   Volume 4 Here is a convenient list of the books we recommended in our article Solving the Portable Knowledge Problem.

Desk Ref: If you can only afford one book, this is the once to get. It includes 1280 pages of tables, maps, formulas, constants and conversions and will serve you will in an off-grid situation.

2010 American Heart Association Guidelines for CPR and ECC: This is free so you have no excuses. Be sure to download and print out a copy.

Emergency Care: Pricey yes. But this the is book that may save lives. Perhaps a family or neighborhood group could chip in and share a single copy.

How to Grow More Vegetables: Decades before the terms “eco-friendly” and “sustainable growing” entered the vernacular, How to Grow More Vegetables demonstrated that small-scale, high-yield, all-organic gardening methods could yield bountiful crops over multiple growing cycles using minimal resources in a suburban environment. This is the bible. Strategic View   Volume 4

All New Square Foot Gardening Strategic View   Volume 4: This book will prove that you can grow a significant bounty in limited space. Just add seeds.

Nuclear War Survival Skills Strategic View   Volume 4: Includes checklists for supplies, equipment and materials as well as detailed building instructions and descriptions of the genuine effects of nuclear weapons. There is also a valuable discussion of the purchase and use of potassium iodide compounds for protection of the thyroid gland from absorption of radioiodine.

The Forager’s Harvest Strategic View   Volume 4: A practical guide to all aspects of edible wild plants: finding and identifying them, their seasons of harvest, and their methods of collection and preparation. Each plant is discussed in great detail and accompanied by excellent color photographs. Includes an index, illustrated glossary, bibliography, and harvest calendar. The perfect guide for all experience levels.

SAS Survival Handbook: SAS Survival Handbook is the definitive resource for all campers, hikers, and outdoor adventurers. It includes everything from basic camp craft and navigation to fear management and strategies for coping with any type of disaster. Also the companion books, SAS Urban Survival Handbook, The SAS Guide to Tracking Strategic View   Volume 4, and Finding Your Way Without Map or Compass Strategic View   Volume 4.

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