In the early days of computers, companies used a fee-for-shared-service model for technology. It was common to pay a company like IBM rent for use of its mainframe machines. As computers became smaller and less expensive, businesses began to purchase their own equipment and the computer rental model went the way of the dinosaur. Interestingly, we’re now seeing a return to that old model, but instead of computers, businesses are renting web and cloud infrastructure services for apps and storage.
This is great news for small- and medium-size companies, as building the data centers to run those services is exorbitantly expensive. By only purchasing the infrastructure cloud services that they need from large companies like Microsoft, Google and Amazon, they eliminate the risk of that huge financial investment.
Even better, we’ve seen recent price wars among those service providers. Some of them slashed their prices by as much as 85 percent this spring in an effort to attract and retain customers.
I sit on the board of several companies that are dependent on web services and have seen this decision to rent play out several times. A good example is Carbonite, which is launching its computer backup services across Europe and recently joined the ranks of Amazon customers for web services. The decision for Carbonite was simple: If it were to build its own data center, not only would it cost excessive funds, it would have to maintain it and then (all too soon) upgrade it. It would be akin to building its own telephone or cable company instead of simply renting what it needs from a provider like Verizon or Comcast.
Even before coming to Seattle for the first time on MIT Sloan’s Tech Trek, I had a feeling that I’d like this place. I’d heard how it’s laid back and outdoorsy. Yeah, rainy weather, but I’d also heard how friendly everyone is. Having just returned from our visit, I can say that the city lived up to its reputation. I really liked the vibe.
We visited three big tech companies on our visit: Amazon, Microsoft and Groupon. They had all given formal presentations on MIT’s campus and are always in the news, so we were all pretty well-informed about them. Visiting on their home turf, however, gave us a unique opportunity to observe and experience their culture, get a feel for the environment, and ask more probing questions. We also visited the venture capital firm Madrona Venture Group, which hosted a startup panel discussion.
Having grown up in Portland, I didn’t really think anything would come as much of a surprise during my career trek to Seattle with MIT Sloan’s Tech Club. After all, I had visited Seattle many times with my family over the years.
While some of my classmates were shocked at things like the weather (yes, the sun does shine here), the silent traffic (no horns!), and the abundance of coffee shops, I knew to expect these things.
Philip Simko is a first-year student in MIT Sloan’s MBA program and vice president of treks for MIT Sloan’s High Tech Club. He is currently working as an intern at Wellframe in Boston, and is interested in working in the high-tech field
After a fun and rigorous core semester, it’s finally winter break, but I’m not hitting the slopes or soaking up the sun on a beach somewhere warm. Instead, I signed up to go to Seattle with 17 other MIT Sloan students on a technology career trek. While this may sound like an unusual way to spend our vacation time, it’s actually a great opportunity for MBA students to learn more about the technology industry and what it would be like to work for a tech company.
Log on to Facebook or Twitter any time of day, and you’ll find a familiar scene: people asking questions. “In a book rut – can anyone recommend a good novel?” “Boyfriend and I had a fight – should I dump him?” or “Am shopping for a newsuit — which color would look best on me?”
Social media has made it easier than ever before to ask questions of our friends, acquaintances, and other contacts. In some ways this is a good thing because we have more information to weigh, analyze, and consider before we make a decision. But in other ways, all this information and all these opinions can result in cognitive overload. It’s like going into the cereal aisle at the grocery store for every single decision.