Monday, April 25, 2011

When Cloud Servers Attack…..

In today’s age we rely on the internet for just about everything from checking into our favorite dining locations to creating applications for our customers to use on Facebook.

What happens when there’s a social media blackout and NOTHING works?

Just the other day a handful of social media websites that are run under Amazon Web Services found out the hard way. Shortly after my mid-morning rush of Facebook checking I noticed when I attempted to check-into our office, Fish Consulting, that Foursquare wouldn’t tried to check-in three times.  In a panic I sent out a tweet to my followers to see what was wrong.  Followers sent me links to the Huffington Post, CNN and the New York Times that gave me the run around about how it was an issue that stemmed from Amazon’s cloud service program.

What’s a cloud server?

Wikipedia states that in cloud computing, the user's computer may contain almost no software or data, serving as little more than a display terminal for processes occurring on a network of computers far away. 

In 2006, Amazon came up with their web services platform to help start-up companies by using Amazon’s company's cloud computing technology and servers to run their businesses. In this situation it turns out their problem stemmed from their Virginia Data center and was due to excessive re-mirroring of its Elastic Block Storage (EBS) volumes. 

Who’s affected?

Turns out that my favorite social networking sites including Foursquare, Hootsuite and Scvngr were just three prime examples of what could happen if your cloud server simply crashes or #fail to the rest of the social media world.  I simply can’t imagine what the world would be like if I wasn’t able to check-in to my favorite restaurant, post a review or follow my friends’ whereabouts on a daily schedule? Now that I’ve grown accustomed to using these programs it’s hard to envision a day without them.

We’ll keep you updated as this crisis is resolved.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Your Social Engine

By: Amanda Rich

Take word of mouth marketing, apply it to a search engine and what do you get? A new buzzword – Social Engine. Throughout the day, I probably click on 20-30 links that my friends post on Twitter and maybe another 15 or so from Facebook. I guess I figure that if they find something interesting, I probably will too. Well, I’m not alone. More and more of us are turning to our social network for news and information, instead of finding it ourselves via a search engine.

Am I saying Google, Bing and Yahoo are on the outs? No! But think about how many pages of results you get when looking for information. Thousands if not millions.  And sometimes, despite Google’s best algorithm-enhancing efforts, the best source with the most accurate information doesn’t always land on the first page.

David Roth, managing editor of Fortune magazine, told NPR recently that one’s social network might be the next search engine. He admits that he’s definitely more likely to click on a link that’s been recommended by a friend - it’s already been vetted by a human, not an algorithm.

All in all, this is just another reason to embrace social media and hop on the train. The Googles of the world will continue to add billions of URLs to the already 15 billion sites indexed. And it’s likely that this will only make it more difficult to find the best possible sources when searching for information.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Tapping the Pet Industry

By: Amanda Rich

We’re cutting back on eating out, spending less on vacations and delaying buying a home - but the down economy is NOT affecting our spending on pets. A poll released this week by the American Pet Products Association (APPA) found that between 2-5 percent of pet owners spent MORE on their pets last year. Well, how does this translate into dollars?

Pet owners are projected to spend over $12 billion on veterinary care in 2011, up from $11 billion last year and $8.2 billion five years ago. While vet care can be classified as a necessity, I just don’t think you can make the same argument for doggie gift spending which is also on the upswing, up 30 percent from $56 million to $73 million.

Like many of my friends and colleagues for that matter, I’m guilty of foregoing the name brand items in the grocery store for myself, yet buying my pup his gourmet food from the specialty pet store. He also receives a meaty bone on his birthday every year, and this year I bought him a heart-shaped plush toy for Valentine’s Day. While these purchases definitely add up, they're nothing compared to the cost of doggie daycare. A neighbor of mine spends over $5,000 a year so that his Labrador Retriever gets plenty of exercise while he’s at work.

If you’re thinking about franchising, and specifically looking at the pet industry, you may want to consider these numbers. The truth is, consumers (including me) will do just about anything to keep their beloved pets healthy and happy.