Yesterday I stumbled upon a new collaboration tool called HALL. It started because I was followed on twitter by @bretthellman Founder and CEO of the company.  As usual I checked out his profile, made sure it wasn’t some russian spam bot and then clicked the link in his profile.  It took me only a few seconds to join the NFL and Startup Hall’s.  Basically these are groups or subject matters that you can join and engage in collaborative real time chats, document authoring, polls and rank topics of interest in the group.

So next I did what any curious social business aficionado would do, I created a Hall.  At first I was all alone in the Hall, but then I started trolling for tweeps on twitter.  Pretty soon I had a few friends including the collaboration jockeys over at Hall HQ.  I created a poll asking what is the hottest new ECM company and I started to get some feedback.  The most interesting thing about the tool is the ability to create and collaborate using the chat stream, real time document authoring like GoogleDocs. Although not as feature rich as Google it has a very clean interface and is more like a notepad than a word processing APP.  Adding new Polls, Ranking or Notepads is a snap and you can really see how the site can continue to evolve into a very usable collaboration tool.  The site is sleek and easy to navigate, I have found no glitches so far.  During the discussions on the chat stream it was apparent that the developers were actively engaged in soliciting feedback from the group about what could be added to improve an already capable site.  It is amazing actually to think how much ‘in stream’ intelligence you could gather using Hall.

At the prompting of Sanjay Kotagiri I created a notepad and invited peers in the #ECM community to add their thoughts about a File Storage / Sharing APP to the site.  You can check out what we have come up with so far and join the Hall too add your two cents by following this link.  This is a company and a product to watch, you can check out a TechCrunch article by following this link.

Enterprise Content Management |

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Joe McKendrick a contributing writer for recently posted a thought provoking article on Vendor Lock-in with cloud computing services.

Cloud Computing’s Vendor Lock-In Problem: Why the Industry is Taking a Step Backward – Summify.

The general adoption of cloud computing models in some verticals is maturing quite rapidly. is an obvious leader and has provided a competitive advantage for many organizations. There are many other markets that are still nascent in terms of even putting the idea of cloud computing on the IT radar.  The article touches on an important point, data migration, and one that protagonists will likely add to the existing list of reasons not to fly to the cloud (eg. Security, Compliance, 5Nines). I believe this could create a unique opportunity for a new segment of consultant, value-added reseller or ‘Cloud Broker’. CIO Magazine recently published an article on the subject and used Gartner as a source for defining a Cloud Broker as “a type of Cloud service provider that plays an intermediary role in Cloud computing”

While I agree that the market for brokers is at a very early stage and the roles they could play need clarity I disagree that it will take 5 years for widespread adoption of brokers.  An excellent example of success in this area is Cloud Sherpas. They focused on GoogleApps and by providing consultation and customization of the platform for specific use cases they add value for customers.  Not that different from an Systems Integrator just focused on cloud services instead of on premise hardware and software. I also believe that the ability for a broker to provide service consolidation to simplify the touch points for an organization is a key focus area.

Lastly I am thinking of the role a broker could play by giving giving customers competitive pricing based on volume purchasing.  Basically the same way Costco made the big box retail model work.  The broker approaches cloud service providers and negotiates more favorable rates based on the consolidation of consumers around a specific brand.  Not all cloud providers will be great at marketing or understand how their solution can be used in a specific vertical.  This is an area where brokers can specialize, consolidate markets and act as a customer advocate for small and medium size businesses in a specific vertical.  If I am just one chiropractor I won’t have the same buying power as 1,000 or even 10,000 chiropractors might have if consolidated under a single cloud brokerage house.

What is your take do the brokers have a future?

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This blog is for small and medium sized business owners looking to save time and money by organizing your office files, receipts and other paper records in the cloud. I recently started a new business and that gave me the opportunity to leverage the cloud and be completely paperless from day one.One of the first steps was to decide what the business would use for basic email, collaborative document authoring and shared calendars. The choice we made was Google. Primarily because the solution is easy to use, affordable and provides a comprehensive list of additional services in the applications marketplace. We still use Outlook for an email and calendar client and most users also have the full Office suite loaded on their workstations.  For me the only drawback is the lack of support for Google Calendar Sync and Google Cloud Connect when I am using my MacBook Air.
The next step was to eradicate incoming paper from the post office mail and receipts from expenses. In addition it is still a business requirement to physically sign some contracts with an actual pen and ink. We needed to scan those records for emailing and storing copies in the cloud.  So I began evaluating desktop scanners. I wanted a compact unit that was easy to use but flexible enough to handle different sizes of paper. Scanning speed was not a big consideration but I definitely knew I wanted a document feeder and not a flatbed. I thought about using an all-in-one printer but quite frankly the scan quality and the software that comes with those devices is not as good as a dedicated peripheral. The manufacturers of those devices are focused on the printing aspect of the device and selling ink. I needed a scanner that would create flawless images, perform on the fly OCR and easily connect with GoogleDocs for storing and sharing the files we needed to convert from paper to searchable PDF.


I had the pleasure of attending the Wow Technologies 10 year anniversary & open house celebration today. The event was hosted at the brand new Tukwila @CoLoInSeattle facility. Several sponsors including f5 Networks, Datec and TechCafe helped to make the event a fantastic networking opportunity with around 100 guests attending. I was honored to meet one of the founders and managing partner Erwad Osckar while he led a group of 15 guests on a tour of their new state of the art facility. Erwad was incredibly knowledgeable and made sure that all questions were answered. The facility is very clean and organized, you can tell a lot of thought and planning went into the build out of the facility.


WowRack offers Managed, Dedicated and CoLocation services with a compelling value proposition. The tour was very comprehensive but somewhat chilly and noisy.  This is a good thing because they have really covered all the bases.  If you are interested in learning more or seeing for yourself remember that the WowRack team offers site visits and tours of the facility.

Security: Fingerprint and magnetic key card access gives you 7.24.365 access to your equipment. The site is fully monitored via closed circuit video surveillance.

Environmental Controls: Advanced cooling and air circulation systems

Environmental Safety: Monitored Heat Detection, Carbon Monoxide Detection and Fire Suppression systems

Network: 100% fully redundant Cisco enterprise network with BGP and HSRP protocols

Power: Supplied by Seattle City Light and backed up with onsite generators and UPS equipment

Disaster Recovery: Chicago, Surabaya and Jakarta backup and monitoring facilities

I was impressed with the knowledge and professionalism of the staff. It occurred to me that the facility is a great option for organizations looking for a competitive alternative to other more expensive outsourced data center facilities in the Northwest. Bottom line is these guys built this themselves and they care about your business as much as they care about theirs. When you are laying awake at night wondering if your infrastructure is safe and secure you can rest assured that the WowRack team has you covered. Many organizations are interested in how private cloud computing and virtualization can benefit their organizations but are unsure how to get started. One distinct advantage that the WowRack team provides is complete design, implementation, consultation and ongoing monitoring of your business infrastructure.  In addition they partner with local value added hardware partners like Datec, so you can be assured that even the procurement of hardware will be handled and can give your company a competitive advantage. There are many options to explore but with the flexibility and support this team can provide it will ensure your infrastructure is available to support your business needs.
Thanks to Ed Kimm for the personal invitation and all the staff that made this an event to remember.

I just witnessed a milestone in content management.  The first ever content management solution featured in a prime time television ad.  Box.Net is featured running on a Motorola Xoom Tablet powered by Android in the latest Verizon 4g LT ad campaign.  The ad focuses on speeding business and helping you get transactions and business done faster while maintaining mobility.


Some 20 months ago Larry Hawes then with the Gilbane Group “helped Box begin to refine and articulate a concept that they had created and championed – Cloud Content Management (#CCM)”  shortly thereafter Larry founded Dow Brook Advisory Services, you can read his blog posts here.  I ran into Larry at the recent BoxWorks 11′ conference in San Francisco and we were able to discuss the shifts that are occurring in the ECM enterprise content management space due to the advent of cloud computing and companies like box.  All attendees were extremely surprised when during the keynote every attendee was given a Motorola Xoom.

I promptly loaded on my unit and synced it with my account.  Now I can access business ready content on the go whether I am using my MacBook Pro, iPhone, iPad or my Motorola Xoom.  That is what I call ubiquitous mobility.  Plus some brilliant marketing and advertising by the Box team.

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