In 2008, Daniel Salcedo was ready to throw in the towel on his online Catalog Generator nicknamed “CatGen”, considered one of the original poster child apps of the online e-commerce revolution along with more famous names such as eBay in the late 1990s.
Eleven years earlier he sat down and wrote the functional specs for CatGen as part of his broader vision to democratize global trade by harnessing the power of Internet.
Specifically he wanted to provide a tool that made it easy for SME networks in poorer regions to aggregate their members’ individual catalogs into a branded online marketplace that emphasized visibility, credibility and trust.
The next several years brought recognition and investment, including a huge personal donation from Jeff Skoll, at the time Vice President for Strategic Planning at eBay.
Harnessing a worldwide network of developers, the CatGen System was originally aimed at the World Fair Trade Organization but grew into something much bigger, soon encompassing commercial business networks, private, and pubic institutions.
Yet even as CatGen matured so did the complexity and cost.
“Our server was a pain in the neck and I was constantly dragging one of my Russian programmers out of bed to solve some crisis,” said Mr Salcedo.
“While CatGen was conceptually sound, operationally it was killing me. I could not get creative. I was constantly fighting fires.”
It was while commandeering a team of data entry personnel during his stint for the 2008 Obama Presidential campaign that he stumbled upon the wonders of the Google cloud system.
The online collaborative tools allowed grassroots organizers and volunteers to upload, share and distribute centralized information in quick easy steps at virtually zero cost.
He realized these online tools had evolved into sophisticated collaborative aids for data presentation, storage and sharing.
“I went back to my Russian programmer and asked him how long would it take to migrate everything we had on our server to the Google platform. He came back 48 hours later with a prototype,” said Mr. Salcedo.
Like a giant blender, Mr. Salcedo’s team sliced and diced the cloud offerings including image albums, checkout gateways, spreadsheets and documents into simple powerful interfaces for artisans to upload catalog data and images at low costs no matter whether they resided in Rwanda, Vietnam or New York.
This re-genesis under the cloud platform was the driving force for re-launching CatGen as OpenEntry.com in 2009.
The new version now uses Google tools and servers while further consuming Amazon’s EC2 Cloud Computing facility for the network market builder, which requires more intense data storage firepower.
“Before the cloud, it was it was costing us $18k per month and we now are paying Google zero. I am also paying Amazon less than $100 per month. Instead of my heavy duty Russian programmers I have a few Nepalese developers who are costing me almost nothing.”
Cheap, feature-rich cloud hosting services are set to grow at a massive pace during the next decade offering a broad range of uptime, security and cost benefits.
Hosting providers like Virtual Internet report that in addition to gaining improvements in overall performance, customers who select a cloud platform may save up to 70% in annual hosting costs with zero downtime.
Further flexibility comes with the ability to upgrade RAM and processor with ease when required and add disk space in a matter of seconds.
Mr. Salcedo firmly believes that cloud-computing services are the future of the I.T. industry.
“We originally designed this system for the world fair trade organization and its globally distributed body of grass roots groups.”
“But since we have launched on cloud computing we have so much bandwidth horsepower that we can offer this to any mainstream business anywhere.”