Microsoft is noted for a media relations strategy that persuades otherwise jaded analysts, journalists and consultants to write about products and services long before they're really available for public consumption. It appears that Nimbula is in the process of executing a similar strategy. That being said, the company has some really interesting ideas about making cloud-based applications transportable that are worthy of consideration.
Here are the typical steps Microsoft executes:
- Broadly announce the beginning of a project that will develop a new technology, product or service. Little to no real information is contained in this announcement; it adds up to "you're going to love it when it is available so, don't purchase another product in this area until we're finished." Based upon that message, many influencers write either encouraging or discouraging material and some customers put purchasing plans on hold for products in this area until they can see what Microsoft is going to produce. It may take years for Microsoft to bring anything to market vaguely related to this project from this point in time. There are times that nothing comes from such a project.
- Broadly announce the beginning of a limited alpha test in which an early, incomplete version of the technology is going to be made available to the company's "best" customers for testing. Based upon that message, more analysts/journalists/consultants write encouraging or discouraging material, those who offered an opinion earlier crow about the fact that they were right before and a few more customers put purchasing plans on hold for products in this area until they can see what Microsoft is going to produce.It may take years for Microsoft to bring anything to market vaguely related to this project from this point in time.
- Broadly announce the beginning of an expanded beta test in which a better, but still incomplete, version of the technology or product is made available to a larger number of key customers. A limited number of Analysts/journalists/consultants are offered the opportunity to use the technology or product at this point. Microsoft gets more media mentions and a larger number of customers put purchasing decisions on hold. Competitors start firing off strong messages about the perceived limitations of a produce or technology that does not really exist at that moment - they've begun fighting the shadow of what may or may not actually come out as a product.
- Broadly announce that the product has gone into production. Those who love Microsoft sing the praises of the technology or product. Those who don't vilify Microsoft for what it has done. Competitors bring out the big guns to shoot at this, as of yet, unavailable product.
- Broadly announce an availability date the product or technology. Those who love Microsoft sing the praises of the technology or product. Those who don't vilify Microsoft for what it has done. The noise from industry influencers and competitors reaches a deafening level.
- The product is released and Microsoft starts talking about the next version.
Microsoft, of course, continues to sell its current product during phases 1 through 5 of the above process. Large quantities of the previous product continue to be sold during phase 6, but Microsoft doesn't really acknowledge that fact. It is as if the world abandoned what they were doing and leaped with both feet onto the newly announced product even though a product roll out might take 2-3 years in a large organization.
What Nimbula is doingI bet you thought that I would never bring this back to Nimbula. Hah! I didn't forget.
Nimbula has been ripping pages out of the Microsoft playbook during the launch of their development and cloud management software. They have gotten a number of organizations to take part in an alpha test and went out to industry influencers to get some level of public attention.
Now, Nimbula is flogging a public beta in the hopes of getting more media attention and, possibly, turn that interest into pilot tests at major organizations.
Let's see how successful they are at playing Microsoft's game. By the way, did you know that Microsoft's game has a name? The name is "Microsoft wins and you lose."