Why Google Glass Matters To Rackspace And Developers

I spoke several times recently mostly promoting Google Glass (so much so that a few people are wondering if Google is paying me, I assure you I bought my own Google Glass for $1,500 and Google isn’t paying me).

Here’s one of the times I was on stage this week at the NextConf in Berlin: http://nextberlin.eu/2013/04/robert-scobel-google-glasses/ Very cool seeing Bruce Sterling, famous science fiction author, again. We had him on stage to try out Google Glass.

Several people wonder why Rackspace pays me to talk about Google and Google Glass and what giving a keynote about the Age of Context (that video is here: http://nextberlin.eu/2013/04/robert-scoble-the-age-of-context/ ) has to do with my duties at Rackspace; especially when Rackspace, OpenStack and even cloud computing rarely come up in the conversations.

I’ll tell you why. Topics like Google Glass and the Age of Context are new kinds of conversation starters. They will have huge impacts on Rackspace and its business in coming years. It’s the same reason I go out and talk to small five-person startups. There are new technologies emerging every second powered by companies of all sizes, and these technologies are driving change. It’s my job to get the word out about new advances, whether from small companies like Chartio and Tellagence, or large ones like Google (which often get the most attention). Google Glass is one of these game-changing advances.

Here’s some of what we’re seeing:

1. Google Glass already has a ton of developer interest. When I spoke at BetaWorks (which just bought Instapaper) I saw it. At Google IO, more than half the audience laid down $1,500 to buy a pair. Etc., etc.

2. Google Glass is going to drive the need for a new kind of cloud computing and Google won’t be able to satisfy all the demand. If Google Glass is as big a deal as I think it will be, humans will generate much more data than they do today; either because of sensor tracking to do things like play location-based games, or do health tracking or more. Think about Waze, a traffic app, on Google Glass. These new developers and their new apps will need new cloud computing. Plus, I see Glass as part of a contextual system, one that uses an Internet of Things, but also brings data from your own businesses in along with Big Data computation that will find new patterns to display on our Glass.

3. Rackspace has always been on the bleeding edge – it successfully given birth to OpenStack, which now has more than 800 companies participating – and it is looking for the next thing. If it finds it, our meteoric growth will continue for the next decade. Which is why Rackspace, along with a dozen other sponsors, funded me and Shel Israel to write a book about the contextual future coming at us quickly.

It’s getting clearer and clearer to me that the future is contextual systems. Rackspace, if it executes well, should be a leader in providing infrastructure for these systems. If not, shame on us; but at least we knew where the goal line was because of the conversations we’ve been having with developers, analysts and press about Google Glass.

4. This is a new form of marketing, one that has Rackspace in listening mode. It is also a front-row seat on what people expect to do with these things. I’m already passing that info back to executives so we can make sure we have products and services ready to go to support the developers of the future.

A Big Data revolution is underway. I’m already carrying 20-plus sensors at any given time thanks to my cell phones, my Google Glass, my Basis health monitor and a few other devices. That number keeps going up. The data streaming off these things is quite different than the data that, say, Oracle was written for (which was mostly banking and business data, which is why relationships was so important back then). In this world a constant flow of data is streaming off of us, our cars, our homes, our businesses and it’s going to increase exponentially. That’s forcing all sorts of database innovation from MongoDB to FoundationDB to Firebase, and others.

Rackspace needs to make some tough strategic choices to make sure it stays on the bleeding edge, which is where the profits are. Luckily, we’re betting hard on open source and great service where our competitors are betting on lock-in. But that will change due to customer demand and I’m pushing executives and developers inside of Rackspace to retool and rethink our data strategies.

Developers are going to need a lot of flexibility in this new world. Some might want to put a cloud server inside newer smartphones. Can Amazon or Google do that? OpenStack could. How about if a new company serving Google Glass doesn’t want to use Rackspace, but wants to control its own servers to use some new ARM processors, or something that Rackspace doesn’t offer? Open Source gives that developer that kind of flexibility. Neither Google, nor Amazon, nor Microsoft give developers that kind of “take your cloud anywhere” flexibility.

But, really, this keeps us thinking like a startup. In fact, just yesterday three new apps were sent to me by developers and, in my email now, there’s two more. Keep in mind that most of the 8,000 Google Glasses sold so far still haven’t even shipped!

The truth is that these new apps might become companies. The only time they are going to really be open to discussing cloud computing choices is right now. In a year they will be too busy scaling their businesses. So, we want to have discussions with those new businesses today so that they pick the right cloud computing platform and don’t get locked into something that will limit their growth in 18 months (or cost them a lot of money to either trade out, or code around).

That’s why Rackspace is paying me to go around the world studying the bleeding edge of the Internet, whether it be medical sensors, Google Glass or new kinds of apps like Moves.

Coming up, I’ll be at Google IO, BetaDay (BetaWorks’ learning day) in New York (May 16th), LeWeb in London (early June) and lots of other places. Drop by, say “hi.” I’ll let you try my Google Glasses. I’ll setup a time when I’m in San Francisco soon for you to come by and think about the future with us.

Let’s continue the conversation. What are you building? What do you need to make a contextual startup?

By the way, this is a Rackspace ad I shot in a Lufthansa plane this week with my Google Glass. Sort of meta.

Rack Blogger is our catchall blog byline, subbed in when a Racker author moves on, or used when we publish a guest post. You can email Rack Blogger at blog@rackspace.com.


  1. If RackSpace could come up with their own Glass API and host it in a Cloud environment, this would be something to talk about!

    We are working on a Golf Glassware app at http://iCaddy.com and we will need a lot of space for video and photo hosting.


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