At today?'s roundtable, I started with a presentation on blue sky opportunities in cloud computing based on our Thought Leaders In Cloud Computing (TLCC) research. I took the audience through five cloud-based business ideas, discussed why they are relevant and pointed them to the sources I derived those ideas from.

For you, readers, here they are:

1. Cloud-based collaboration among bio-medical researchers around large volumes of data

Dr. Marcos Athanasoulis, CTO of Harvard Medical School discussed this idea with me recently. There is a tremendous amount of data sitting at various pockets that bio-medical researchers are trying to collaborate around. The data needs modeling, processing, visualization, etc. – all activities in the domain of computer science, not bio-medical sciences. There is also need for researchers at various institutes to collaborate around this data and models, all problems that point towards a cloud-based solution. An entrepreneur should pick this one up ASAP. From cancer research to genomics, wide arrays of research areas are looking forward to your innovation.

2. Cloud-based legal records management, digitization, archival, retrieval

Michael Aginsky, CTO of Gibbons P.C. pointed me to the vast masses of paper archives sitting at law firms, waiting to be digitized, and archived in meaningful ways along with efficient retrieval capabilities. Law firms are looking for cloud solutions that include security, disaster recovery, and other goodies.

3. Charge-back accounting solution for large enterprises deploying cloud technologies

Ric Telford, VP of cloud services, IBM pointed me to the rather significant move towards rolling out private clouds at large enterprises, a move that IBM is spearheading by providing full stacks of infrastructure technologies. Now, let us say you are an enterprise that has rolled out a rather extensive private cloud, and all your divisions and business units are using it freely. How do you keep track of who is using how much of the resources? How do you account for the charge backs to the business units or functional areas? This is an open opportunity for an entrepreneur to build a custom solution.

4. Cloud-based flexible pricing solution for telecom vendors

Jim Dunlap, CIO of Alaska Telecom discussed with me the increasingly serious problem that telecom vendors are facing due to bandwidth consumption skyrocketing. Today, the telecom industry charges customers based on fixed price business models for data services.

But to keep up with the rate at which bandwidth consumption is scaling, telecom vendors almost certainly will need to adopt a variable pricing model, such that they can charge based on consumption, just as they charge for voice services. The utility industry charges based on how much energy or water is consumed, but the telecom industry assumes unlimited data usage for a fixed fee. Jim?'s interview with me (coming shortly) sheds light on why this will change, and how the infrastructure needs to adapt.

5. Cloud integration services around specific vendors

José Almandoz, CIO of Novell, and several others have brought up how complex the integration issues are around the cloud. With 600-800 vendors with their own specific integration requirements, there is a plethora of opportunities to build integration services companies around specific vendors or specific domains. Appirio is one such company that jumped on this trend way back in 2007 and has now built a significant company in that space. Sequoia has financed them. In fact, using their expertise, they have also successfully productized various connectors and adapters to build unique value.

Anyway, those are just a few blue sky ideas for you to go after. There will be others as you dig deeper!

First up was Ambal Ramachandran with SurgeForth, a talent management SaaS company that we first saw last November. SurgeForth has since graduated to paying customers, and is making good progress. We discussed a variety of product strategy issues, including where to focus and how to avoid spray and pray.

Then Zubair Ansari with CionSystems pitched a new IT provisioning and de-provisioning system that aims to handle the growing complexity of cloud adoption. Cion has 18 customers and is considering funding. I pointed Zubair to a couple of case studies of bootstrapping using services to get more of his core product built; in parallel, I will help him pursue institutional funding.

Next, Rajeev Pareek discussed his rural BPO idea. Rajeev wants to build a BPO firm in a place called Bolpur in West Bengal, India. Bolpur is home to the Viswabharati university, as well as several other small engineering and professional colleges. Rajeev came with a list of commodity services like transcription, digitization, etc. But when I found out that Rajeev is a computer engineer, I suggested to him to build a cost-effective SEO services firm, which would be more interesting. I have a variety of contacts for Rajiv to get his business off the ground. Bolpur Shantiniketan is close to my heart (we have a house there), and in my opinion is a splendid rural BPO location.

Next week, we will delve once again into e-commerce businesses and explore how niche e-commerce is transitioning into Web 3.0.

I started doing my free Online Strategy Roundtables for entrepreneurs in the fall of 2008. These roundtables are the cornerstone programming of a global initiative that I have started called One Million by One Million (1M/1M). Its mission is to help a million entrepreneurs globally to reach $1 million in revenue and beyond, build $1 trillion in sustainable global GDP, and create 10 million jobs. In 1M/1M, I teach the EJ Methodology which is based on my Entrepreneur Journeys research, and emphasize bootstrapping, idea validation, and crisp positioning as some of the core principles of building strong fundamentals in early stage ventures. In addition, we are offering entrepreneurs access to investors and customers through our recently launched our 1M/1M Incubation Radar series. You can pitch to be featured on my blog following these instructions. Recordings of previous roundtables are all available here. You can register for the next roundtable here. All three of today's roundtable companies will soon be featured on Incubation Radar.

Recordings of previous roundtables are all available here. You can register for the next roundtable here.

Sramana Mitra is a technology entrepreneur and strategy consultant in Silicon Valley. She has founded three companies, writes a business blog, Sramana Mitra on Strategy, and runs the 1M/1M initiative. She has a master's degree in electrical engineering and computer science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Her Entrepreneur Journeys book series, Entrepreneur Journeys, Bootstrapping: Weapon Of Mass Reconstruction, Positioning: How To Test, Validate, and Bring Your Idea To Market Innovation: Need Of The Hour, as well as Vision India 2020, are all available from Amazon.

Photo by thesaint