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... blogging on what is happening in enterprise software, with a focus on Future of Work and Next Generation Applications, sparkled with occasional musings on the the state of the industry and outlooks where we are heading.

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    Whenever people need to do anything with numbers in a professional environment – Microsoft Excel is the tool at hand. Most enterprise desktops come with a full Microsoft Office suite and with that Excel is there as well. With that enterprise grasp the Office tools have overall gotten such a hold of people, that many buy Office for their home document handling needs, too. High schools, universities and enterprises even offer Excel training courses. So the domination of Excel for number centric work is pretty absolute.



    But that market has attracted other vendors for the longest time – and they have grappled with a number of challenges:

    • “Free” License - Excel is on every desktop, usually paid for already and only a click away. It makes artefacts instantly consumable, too. Worst case Microsoft has a free viewer for Excel.
       
    • Grid Control - For the longest time, getting a powerful equivalent grid control to Microsoft’s was a challenge, especially for vendors coming out of an OLTP angle.
       
    • Functional Richness - Though probably 99% of users never see, use and know it - Excel can do amazing things for the 1% (or less) power users.



    So no question – to unseat Excel is really hard, but then the product has some weaknesses. Even though it offers easy template creation, users have to do things over and over again. How often have you created the infamous pie or bar chart (again and again … and again)? What if a product could ‘sense’ semantics and offer the appropriate tools, processes and visualization, right out of the box?

    In my view I thought the Microsoft competitors had largely given up – to my surprise I stumbled over an unlikely entrant – Informatica’s Springbok (a code name that likely will change, currently the product is pilot mode). [Please note that the Excel competitive / replacement position is my interpretation, Informatica is not officially positioning the product as such.]


    Screenshot of Springbok sample data sheet with automated insights

    There are some things Informatica has done remarkably well – and these will create significant value for the average business user:


    • Just upload your data – and Springbok will make sense of it. As simple as it sounds – this is really hard. But pretty well solved and addressed.
       
    • Besides the usual functional menu, Springbok offer the user directly value enrichment. If the user clicks e.g. on a column with zip codes, Springbok offers a distribution of them. Click on a column with state data, Springbok offers a map of the USA with states highlighted by frequency in the data set. 
    • Complex out of the box functions are just ‘there’ – no need to code, integrate or even procure (though I am sure at some point users will have to pay for enhanced services such as Dun & Bradstreet validation and normalization).

    As mentioned earlier, Springbok is in beta, if you want to try it out, the beta is here


    MyPOV – The Swiss Army knife approach of Microsoft Excel has its merits – but requires users to do things over and over again. More out of the box capability to ‘make sense of the data’ will be welcome by busy business users who look for any chance to save some time and avoid often boring repetitive tasks. Informatica’s Springbok is a good starting point, worth to have a look as a free trial here and should encourage other players to enter the market.




    More on Informatica:
    • Informatica pushes the cloud integration stakes - read here.
    More on the Future of Work:
    • Musings - How Technology Innovation fuels Recruiting and disrupts the Laggards - read here
    • Musings - What is the future of recruiting? Read here
    • HRTech 2014 takeaways - Read here.
    • Why all the attention to recruiting? Read here.
    • Could the paycheck re-invent HCM – yes it can – read here.
    • And suddenly, payroll matters again! Read here.
    Find even more coverage on the Constellation Research website here.

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    We have the opportunity to attend SAP’s SuccessConnect conference in Las Vergas, the user conference of the former SuccessFactors. In opening Mike Ettling said that attendance is at a record with over 2200 attendees – always a good sign.


    Here are my top 3 takeaways of the Day 1 keynote – which is always more about the general business, with the Day 2 keynote more reserved to product as delivered by Dmitri Krakovsky tomorrow.


    • Another SuccessConnect – another transition. Last year it was the first time that SuccessConnect happened with a new leader, Lars Dalgaard having left SAP, and Shawn Price did a very good job re-assuring attendees that the new SuccessFactors would only be better than before, to quell any takeover angst. And overall that has panned out very well for SAP with most of the SuccessFactors clients staying loyal, giving both credit to SAP and the product vision. Of course it doesn’t hurt when all customer need a product, that is being promisingly delivered – which is EmployeeCentral.

      12 months later there is a new leader with Mike Ettling, who performed equally well with his first major keynote in front of the customer, user and partner base. A different style, it was all jeans on stage, a few more jokes and bringing back Lars Dalgaard on stage was a different delivery than last year, which – what matters most – was well received by the audience. 
    Rob Ensslin talkes about Global HR Trends
    • Trends, Trends, … No HCM event these days without talk about Millennials. And the keynote even brought them on stage – two new graduates of the SAP sales academy talking about experiences, an then in true – as presumed – Millennial fashion taped Dalgaard’s view on where the industry is – right in to a SAP Jam session. It was all good – but looked a little bit too scripted.

      And in general we don’t think at Constellation Research that it’s about your date of birth, but your digital proficiency – read my colleague Alan Lepofsky’s report here). The implications for vendors are significant – as e.g. Jam is not only for the Millennials but for all users. If digital proficiency will postulate a different user experience – as it should – remains something to be seen – beyond SAP.
    Mike Ettling announces services improvements 
    • Major Service Improvements – Unfortunately only at the very end of the keynote – when the audience was as usual a little drained in attention span – Ettling announced a number of key services changes – unfortunately not explicitly mentioned on slides – so I may missed a few – but the key ones were:

      • A rolling roadmap of 12 months, which garnered direct applause. A good move as customers deserve to know and plan what’s ahead.
         
      • A separation of test and production. I think that is already the case – and probably this didn’t come over as clear as supposed to, meaning more that customers will have access to the new version before it goes to production. Certainly something SuccessFactors needed to address.
         
      • A release document 6 weeks before cut over. Not sure how late or early SAP customers learnt what is in a release before, but this is certainly a welcome change, too.

    We need to find out more on these – and see if they are meant for both SAP HCM and SuccessFactors products and more, stay tuned. Ettling has an extensive services background from his time at NorthgateArinso and Unisys – so I am pretty sure he knows what stands behind these announcements, which ultimately should be all for the better for customers and ecosystem overall. Now SAP needs to deliver on them .



    MyPOV

    A successful start for this SuccessConnect – next executive transition handled well – stay tuned for the event report in the next days. We had asked SAP for roadmaps since the longest time – something that SuccessFactors as a SaaS company claimed it couldn’t (or needn’t) to do – so this is a change for the better. 


    And more on overall SAP strategy and products:

    • Event Report - Sapphire - SAP finds its (unique) path to cloud - read here
    • What I would like SAP to address this Sapphire - read here
    • News Analysis - SAP becomes more about applications - again - read here
    • Market Move - SAP acquires Fieldglass - off to the contingent workforce - early move or reaction? Read here.
    • SAP's startup program keep rolling – read here.
    • Why SAP acquired KXEN? Getting serious about Analytics – read here.
    • SAP steamlines organization further – the Danes are leaving – read here.
    • Reading between the lines… SAP Q2 Earnings – cloudy with potential structural changes – read here.
    • SAP wants to be a technology company, really – read here
    • Why SAP acquired hybris software – read here.
    • SAP gets serious about the cloud – organizationally – read here.
    • Taking stock – what SAP answered and it didn’t answer this Sapphire [2013] – read here.
    • Act III & Final Day – A tale of two conference – Sapphire & SuiteWorld13 – read here.
    • The middle day – 2 keynotes and press releases – Sapphire & SuiteWorld – read here.
    • A tale of 2 keynotes and press releases – Sapphire & SuiteWorld – read here.
    • What I would like SAP to address this Sapphire – read here.
    • Why 3rd party maintenance is key to SAP’s and Oracle’s success – read here.
    • Why SAP acquired Camillion – read here.
    • Why SAP acquired SmartOps – read here.
    • Next in your mall – SAP and Oracle? Read here.


    And more about SAP technology:

    • News Analysis - SAP commits to CloudFoundry and OpenSource - key steps - but what is the direction? - Read here.
    • News Analysis - SAP moves Ariba Spend Visibility to HANA - Interesting first step in a long journey - read here
    • Launch Report - When BW 7.4 meets HANA it is like 2 + 2 = 5 - but is 5 enough - read here
    • Event Report - BI 2014 and HANA 2014 takeaways - it is all about HANA and Lumira - but is that enough? Read here.
    • News Analysis – SAP slices and dices into more Cloud, and of course more HANA – read here.
    • SAP gets serious about open source and courts developers – about time – read here.
    • My top 3 takeaways from the SAP TechEd keynote – read here.
    • SAP discovers elasticity for HANA – kind of – read here.
    • Can HANA Cloud be elastic? Tough – read here.
    • SAP’s Cloud plans get more cloudy – read here.
    • HANA Enterprise Cloud helps SAP discover the cloud (benefits) – read here.
    Find more coverage on the Constellation Research website here.


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    Quite a surprise this morning when news was out that HPacquiredEucalyptus. A surprise because HP had previously firmly committed to OpenStack and its related benefits, and become the largest OpenStack contributor. And Eucalyptus and OpenStack have not been best friends in the past, with Eucalyptus CEO Marten Mickos even referring to OpenStack as the Soviet Union of Cloud, making fun of the numerous contributors to the open source project. 


     

    So let’s dissect in typical Constellation style the press release that can be found here:

    PALO ALTO, Calif., Sept. 11, 2014 — HP today announced a definitive agreement to acquire Eucalyptus, a provider of open source software for building private and hybrid enterprise clouds.

    MyPOV – Ok – surprise. And sad to a certain point as the first private cloud platform provider is gone, originally being built at the University of California Santa Barbara (UCSB). And the simplest to install platform, too.

    After the transaction closes, Eucalyptus Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Marten Mickos, a respected leader in the cloud industry and a longtime advocate of open source, will join HP as senior vice president and general manager of the Cloud business, reporting to Meg Whitman, chairman, president and chief executive officer of HP.

    MyPOV – It’s the second time Mickos sells software to hardware vendors, the first time was MySQL to Sun, now Eucalyptus to HP. Only now the non-disclosed acquisition price will be far away from the (then very generous) 1B US$ for MySQL. The amount is immaterial for HP, not affecting its earning and HP will make employment offers to all Eucalyptus employees. So more an acqui-hire than an acquisition?

    In this role, Mickos will lead the HP Cloud organization in building out the HP Helion portfolio, based on OpenStack® technology. Prior to Eucalyptus, Mickos was CEO of MySQL, which he grew from a garage start-up to the company providing the second most widely used open source software in the world.

    “The addition of Marten to HP’s world-class Cloud leadership team will strengthen and accelerate the strategy we’ve had in place for more than three years, which is to help businesses build, consume and manage open source hybrid clouds,” said Whitman. “Marten will enhance HP’s outstanding bench of Cloud executives and expand HP Helion capabilities, giving customers more choice and greater control of private and hybrid cloud solutions.”


    MyPOV – So more choice for HP customers, and Mickos runs all of HP Cloud, including the OpenStack pieces. No word from Whitman in regards of Eucalyptus software assets.

    “Eucalyptus and HP share a common vision for the future of cloud in the enterprise,” said Mickos. “Enterprises are demanding open source cloud solutions, and I’m thrilled to have this opportunity to grow the HP Helion portfolio and lead a world-class business that delivers private, hybrid, managed and public clouds to enterprise customers worldwide.”

    MyPOV – Congrats to Marten, hopefully more fun to build cloud at HP than with a startup that had to fight the cloud giants.

    Martin Fink, who currently leads HP’s Cloud business, will remain in his roles as chief technology officer of HP and director of HP Labs, where he will focus on innovation and creating groundbreaking solutions like The Machine. Fink will also continue to lead HP’s Network Functions Virtualization (NFV) business.

    MyPOV – Looks like Cloud was only an interim job for Fink – in addition of all his other responsibilities.

    “We’ve said before that we believe the future of the Cloud is open source, and this transaction underscores our deep commitment to helping customers build enterprise-class, open clouds their way,” said Fink. “We’ve already seen significant momentum since launching HP Helion and have put in place an outstanding team. I’m confident that Marten, a fellow open source devotee, will continue to build out the HP Helion portfolio into the enterprise cloud offering of choice.”

    MyPOV – Certainly HP thinks open source is the future for cloud, and has added on more open source offering to its cloud portfolio with Eucalyptus. Ironically it raises questions on the future of the Eucalyptus (open source) product that will need to be addressed. For now in a Q&A HP said it will keep supporting Eucalyptus. It will be interesting how much of the Eucalyptus open source project was contributed by Eucalyptus (the company) employees.

    Since introducing HP Helion in May, HP has grown share in private cloud and was ranked as the leader in the Forrester Wave report for Private Cloud Solutions.(1) In addition, HP recently announced an agreement to build and operate community clouds for enterprise customers in China, one of the fastest growing cloud markets in the world, and also announced HP Helion OpenStack Professional Services to help enterprises implement OpenStack technology–based clouds. HP is the leading code contributor to the next release of OpenStack code, scheduled for October. […]

    MyPOV – Despite all the successes, the acquisition shows HP needed help on the management and / or product side.

    Implications, Implications

    So let’s look at the implications in the market…

    Implications for HP Customers

    I don’t expect this to be a distraction of HP Helion investment. Instead HP gets an experienced open source veteran and has more management bandwidth.
    • HP OpenStack customers– Interesting, but not relevant. Deep down the road maybe a chance to take AWS loads into Helion. But this is speculation.
    • HP customers with loads on AWS– This is good news – as they probably can take AWS loads back onto Helion. But these customers – assuming they are using Eucalyptus in their private cloud already – should make the TCO comparison of their data center vs. Helion first. 

    Implications for Eucalyptus customers

    As usual with acquisitions, Constellation recommends customers of the acquired vendors to immediately get reassurances from the acquirer (HP) that products and services will be continued. If these customers have a dependency of capabilities in the next Eucalyptus release, add them to the conversations with HP and secure them contractually.

    Next look what AWS will be doing, which likely is not thrilled of customers being able to take AWS loads into HP run private (or cloud) data centers. It’s likely that the largest Eucalyptus customer, Nokia (Mickos is on the board) is moving to Microsoft Azure sooner than later. 


    [Update from Mickos via HP AR - Of course Nokia made an independent decision, let's give both Mickos and Nokia the benefit of the doubt and believe it is so. Mickos also made the point that the large size of the Nokia cloud will more likely move to OpenStack than Azure. No surprise, future will tell.]

    So customers should keep an eye on how much critical mass is left for Eucalyptus. And lastly Eucalyptus’ close relationship with Dell needs attention of mutual customers, as HP and Dell are – putting it mildly – not best friends.

    Implications for HP

    HP will have to clarify what it wants to do longer term with two open source cloud stacks. Maybe a SMB offering is in the making, given the relative ease (one command line!) install capabilities of Eucalyptus. Maybe HP also felt it need the expertise of Eucalyptus to make its OpenStack installation equally easy to use. And longer term HP get a great opportunity to chip away load from AWS – more in the final MyPOV below.

    Implications for competitors

    HP has gained a key tool to put more loads onto HP Helion. Going after AWS loads and using them in their respective cloud offerings is something other vendors (IBM, RedHat etc.) could have used, too. But maybe other vendors don’t need the load (e.g. IBM) or don’t want to put in the capex for an additional cloud rollout (e.g. RedHat). Equally AWS could have made a move in the hybrid market, allowing customers to move loads to local data centers, and then at least extract license revenues and more from this move, as right now customers are completely gone revenue wise in this scenario. Longer term it may force the lock-in argument more in AWS sales opportunities. Dell could have acquired Eucalyptus, too – but the assets may not have fit into the strategic plans in Austin.

    MyPOV

    A good move by HP, which short term has a messaging challenge. Medium term gets an experienced executive and developer team. Longer term it gives HP the chance to convert AWS loads in Helion loads (running as Eucalyptus and maybe, with some clever work – as OpenStack loads). And the cloud game is all about loads and getting economies of scale from them. HP as a late entrant needs them more than established players and now has an opportunity to chip them from the overall market leader in overall cloud load AWS.

    And certainly Mickos keynote at OpenStack Summit on September 16th gets a totally background and will be interesting to follow.


    ----------------------

    More about HP
    • New Analyis - Today's Billion in Cloud Investment is HP's and goes to Helion - read here
    • A tale of two cloud GAs - Google & HP - read here
    • The cloud is growing up - 3 signs from the news - read here
    • To HAVEn and have not - or: HP Bundles away - read here

    More about IBM


    • Event Report - What a difference a year makes - and IBM is off to a good start but the road is long - read here
    • First Take - 3 Key Takeaways from IBM's Impact Conference - Day 1 Keynote - read here
    • Another week and another Billion - this week it's a BlueMix Paas - read here
    • First take - IBM makes Connection - introduces the TalentSuite at IBM Connect - read here
    • IBM kicks of cloud data center race in 2014 - read here
    • First Take - IBM Software Group's Analyst Insights - read here
    • Are we witnessing one of the largest cloud moves - so far? Read here
    • Why IBM acquired Softlayer - read her

    More about Microsoft:
    • Event Report - Azure grows and blossoms - enough for enterprises (yet)? Read here
    • Event Report - Microsoft Build Day 1 Keynote - Top Enterprise Takeaways - read here.
    • Microsoft gets even more serious about devices - acquire Nokia - read here.
    • Microsoft does not need one new CEO - but six - read here.
    • Microsoft makes the cloud a platform play - Or: Azure and her 7 friends - read here.
    • How the Cloud can make the unlikeliest bedfellows - read here.
    • How hard is multi-channel CRM in 2013? - Read here.
    • How hard is it to install Office 365? Or: The harsh reality of customer support - read here.

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    I had the opportunity to attend the yearly STG (Server Technology Group) analyst meeting in Greenwich earlier this week. STG is the 4th division in Steve Mills responsibility area of IBM – which by itself is larger than many of the large players in the information technology industry (the other 3 are Cloud and Solutions, Database Solutions and of course Watson).
     


    The event was well attended with over 80 analysts and IBM did their usual great job of the mix of general sessions, group sessions, and 1 to 1s. 


    Here are my three top takeaways from the event:
    • The mainframe is alive and kicking. Often pronounced dead the first computing architecture is doing well, better than I personally thought – even though the mainframe in 2014 is no longer what the Zuses or ENIACs used to be. Substantial load runs on today’s mainframes, 92 of the top 100 banks, 22 of the top 25 US retailers, 10 of the 10 largest insurances on the planet and 23 of the 25 largest airlines are substantial enterprise load. Indeed it was mentioned it is unlikely that the average USA inhabitant touches a mainframe powered product in form of an application or other artifact (e.g. letter, invoice etc.) more than 3 times per day.

      Interesting was also that mobile applications are a substantial driver for mainframe growth - the use cases being the above mentioned industries. There is compelling reasons to power your next generation applications via the mainframe – because data and processes are there.

      Even more interesting, IBM shared an internal TCO study, bench marking the cost of virtualizing server load on the mainframe – and it was significantly cheaper than on a well know public cloud. Certainly we want to learn more about that study – hopefully soon. 
     
    How Mobile Demand creates Mainframe Load

    • We were treated by an insight of how IBM’s research arm, that supports the enterprise's products, delivered by Head of R&D John Kelly. And while IBM has a great track record of basic research, much of today’s world's products run on the base of IBM inventions, it was interesting to see how Kelly showed examples how basic research fuels and innovates IBM business. From the Watson group, Project Lucy, BlueMix, the New York Genome Center, R&D is always involved and contributes to these key initiatives.

      This is great to see – but I would love to have a conversation with Kelly how IBM makes sure more of it basic research really comes through in monetized products – a challenge for all innovation and R&D centers.

      To pick one area of the five top R&R directions, labelled ‘Silicone to Extreme’ – it was fascinating to listen to imminent advancements of 3D chip stacking and silicon nano photonics.  

    Silicon to the Extreme Slide

    • Hybrid Cloud and Software defined Loads – The hybrid cloud theme could not be missing, and STG has a stake in the game with its storage products. The rise of the software defined data center has also arrive in the IBM product palette, and Jamie Thomas presented advancements in software the space. A lot of that storage is more and more on SSD, an area where IBM showed solid arguments to convince CIOs to move to this new storage medium.

      And of course IBM is good at honing the hybrid cloud message. With software defined loads on premise – compute, storage can float between on premise and public cloud resources, with Softlayer being part of the public cloud infrastructure.
    Hybrid Cloud - where Software defined Storage plays

    MyPOV

    A very good opportunity to visit the STG division, that after the sale of the x 86 business to Lenovo has less of a commodity business portion than probably ever before. With a full mainframe refresh cycle, new Power CPUs and interesting perspectives with Flash and hybrid clouds materializing, the 2015 outlook is good, as Tom Rosamilia confirmed on our question. 

    It was also good to see that the viability of the hybrid cloud offerings is quite high, certainly better than what I gleaned the other week at VMworld (Takeaways here). That said IBM needs to strengthen its software defined networking story that is intrinsically linked with moving storage and CPU loads. 

    Finally it was a refreshing change that all presentations were about product – and the analyst audience never had to figure out the demarcation between (software) product capability and service capability delivered by GBS, as we have struggled with at other IBM events earlier this year.

    ---------------------

    More on IBM :
    • News Analysis - IBM and Intel partner to make the cloud more secure - read here
    • Progress Report - IBM BigData an Analytics have a lot of potential - time to show it - read here
    • Event Report - What a difference a year makes - and off to a good start - read here
    • First Take - 3 Key Takeaways from IBM's Impact Conference - Day 1 Keynote - read here
    • Another week and another Billion - this week it's a BlueMix Paas - read here
    • First take - IBM makes Connection - introduces the TalentSuite at IBM Connect - read here
    • IBM kicks of cloud data center race in 2014 - read here
    • First Take - IBM Software Group's Analyst Insights - read here
    • Are we witnessing one of the largest cloud moves - so far? Read here
    • Why IBM acquired Softlayer - read here

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    SAP SuccessFactor’s yearly North America user conference, SuccessConnect concluded this week in Las Vegas. It was the largest SuccessConnect ever, with over 2200 attendees, a good indicator that the acquisition and integration of SuccessFactors by SAP is on a good track. That was not a guaranteed outcome a year ago – my takeaways of SuccessConnect 2013 as reference are here– and of the Day 1 keynote are here.

     


    A lot of important product and services news were announced, tough to pick the Top 3 – but here you go:
     

    1 - Roadmap Sharing 

    As Ettling keynoted on Day 1 of SuccessConnect, SuccessFactors is now sharing its roadmap for the next 12 months to come. To deliver on that was the task for Dmitri Krakovsky on Day 2. He didn’t share the dates – but the roadmap items – see below. 

    SuccessFactors Roadmap items as shared by Krakovsky
    And that were indeed a lot of roadmap items for the next 12 months to come. Let’s look at the ones with the most impact:

    • SuccessFactors is doing its integration homework - After a conservative first year (besides EmployeeCentral) the SuccessFactors product team is picking up on a number of innovations coming from SAP.
       
      • More Localizations, more Payroll countries and more documentation are leveraging SAP scale, investment and processes. 
      • On the technology side, new customers will be running fully on HANA at some point in 2015, the Fiori UX will be uptaken and SuccessFactors will use HANA Cloud Integration (if that will be the bye bye for Dell Boomi remains to be seen). 
      • And SuccessFactors will also leverage and work with other SAP acquisitions, improving the Fieldglass integration and using KXEN’s InifiteInsight for Analytics.
         
    • On the functional side SuccessFactors focusses on Learning (more below), improved Workforce Planning (positive Time), Auto Sourcing (in Recruiting), Offboarding and extension of Global Benefit.
       
    • Mobile gets a big push with new native support for Apple (demoed in the keynote) and Android (coming next year).
       
    • Moreover SuccessFactors will support the visually impaired with additional color palettes, that help e.g. the red / green blind user population. Why this did not morph into a full ADA support announcement / roadmap was one of the questions I did not manage to ask, but this is a first step in that direction.
       
    • And last but not least SuccessFactors has already an Applications marketplace, a good instrument to help partners to promote and monetize their offerings, something not seen too often in the industry yet (see e.g. Cornerstone’s announcement here).
       
    • Finally there was an entry on the slide named ‘Model S’, the codename for SAP’s new simple Suite. If there by accident or dropped by purpose to start a conversation, it certainly means that a part of the SuccessFactors capacity will go towards SAP’s next generation suite. 
     
    New iPhone Learning Client

    2 - Learning to the front

    SuccessFactors is executing a major learning push, leveraging its acquired Plateau products and expertise to advance two critical functions that so far have been more or less inexistent or badly broken in learning management: The user generated, self-creation of content and the easy identification of relevant learning content, aided by analytics. If SAP can solve both of these challenges in their next generation Learning product, then enterprises should take note.

    I was impressed by the approach taken with analytics – Krakovsky called it analytical racks – that just run to predict the best course recommendations – and are added or taken off when obsolete. That comes the closest to where I see analytics going, I call it model thrashing. Just run as many models you can get hold off and use the one for the day or even for the hour that has the best prediction fidelity.

     
    Ettling presents Service Improvements on Day 1 

    3 - Services strengthening

    The services announcements made by Ettling made my top three event takeaways on the Day 1 keynote and now as well for the event. The separation of the upgrade time frames for the test vs. the production instances is a key quality for SaaS customers. And knowing 6 weeks before a release what will likely be part of it is essential to take the necessary preparation in learning and change management that enterprises may have to prepare for.

    Tidbits


    • EmployeeCentral - moving on - Good to see more traction in EmployeeCentral, starting with plans on UI improvement, the addition of more countries and more payroll support as well as the addition of positive time. It is also clear that SuccessFactors plans to use EmployeeCentral and its technology framework (MDF) as the basis for its next generation HCM SaaS product, as more talent management functions are being built on the same framework. 
    • Analytics - InfiniteInsight coming -  SuccessFactors already has a very good intelligence platform with the acquisition of Australian infoHRM that is widely used acroos the suite. The product team is now actively working with the InfiniteInsight product of KXEN (acquired by SAP, my takeaways here), which will beef up SuccessFactors analytical capabilities significantly. 
    • Recruiting - improved - A number of enhancements for the Recruiting product, the most important being the improved and automated interview scheduling, which brings SuccessFactors to par in this critical productivity / efficiency function with Workday. 
    • Jam - plowing on -  The SAP social product is always close to the HCM products, so SuccessConnect was no exception. The product is making good progress in the usability side, the Work Pattern approach has proven itself with partner uptake and it now comes back to foster an ecosystem to garner the uptake. The SuccessFactors Marketplace certainly helps here. 

    MyPOV

    SuccessFactors is making good progress on all fronts. Tackling the user interface with improvements, up taking more synergies with what SAP can offer and closing competitive gaps are all good practices that every software vendor should practice, but not all manage to pull that off.

    The Services improvements received a very warm welcome by customers already at the event, now SAP has to deliver on them.

    But then SuccessFactors still has to do a lot of work on harmonizing architectures of acquired products – or rebuilding of these on the new EmployeeCentral / MDF architecture. Or maybe in Model S – or Simple HCM? The sharing of the roadmap for the next 12 months is very good news for customers in order to have the opportunity to align their rollout plans with the product roadmap. Now SAP needs to wrestle some of the thought leadership and commercial success away from Workday, a major task to be undertaken, the starting position has certainly improved compared to year ago.


    And more on overall SAP strategy and products:

    • First Take - SAP SuccessFactors SuccessConnect - Top 3 Takeaways Day 1 Keynote - read here.
    • Event Report - Sapphire - SAP finds its (unique) path to cloud - read here
    • What I would like SAP to address this Sapphire - read here
    • News Analysis - SAP becomes more about applications - again - read here
    • Market Move - SAP acquires Fieldglass - off to the contingent workforce - early move or reaction? Read here.
    • SAP's startup program keep rolling – read here.
    • Why SAP acquired KXEN? Getting serious about Analytics – read here.
    • SAP steamlines organization further – the Danes are leaving – read here.
    • Reading between the lines… SAP Q2 Earnings – cloudy with potential structural changes – read here.
    • SAP wants to be a technology company, really – read here
    • Why SAP acquired hybris software – read here.
    • SAP gets serious about the cloud – organizationally – read here.
    • Taking stock – what SAP answered and it didn’t answer this Sapphire [2013] – read here.
    • Act III & Final Day – A tale of two conference – Sapphire & SuiteWorld13 – read here.
    • The middle day – 2 keynotes and press releases – Sapphire & SuiteWorld – read here.
    • A tale of 2 keynotes and press releases – Sapphire & SuiteWorld – read here.
    • What I would like SAP to address this Sapphire – read here.
    • Why 3rd party maintenance is key to SAP’s and Oracle’s success – read here.
    • Why SAP acquired Camillion – read here.
    • Why SAP acquired SmartOps – read here.
    • Next in your mall – SAP and Oracle? Read here.


    And more about SAP technology:

    • News Analysis - SAP commits to CloudFoundry and OpenSource - key steps - but what is the direction? - Read here.
    • News Analysis - SAP moves Ariba Spend Visibility to HANA - Interesting first step in a long journey - read here
    • Launch Report - When BW 7.4 meets HANA it is like 2 + 2 = 5 - but is 5 enough - read here
    • Event Report - BI 2014 and HANA 2014 takeaways - it is all about HANA and Lumira - but is that enough? Read here.
    • News Analysis – SAP slices and dices into more Cloud, and of course more HANA – read here.
    • SAP gets serious about open source and courts developers – about time – read here.
    • My top 3 takeaways from the SAP TechEd keynote – read here.
    • SAP discovers elasticity for HANA – kind of – read here.
    • Can HANA Cloud be elastic? Tough – read here.
    • SAP’s Cloud plans get more cloudy – read here.
    • HANA Enterprise Cloud helps SAP discover the cloud (benefits) – read here.
    Find more coverage on the Constellation Research website here.

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    Every now and then I go off topic and to some of my older enterprise passions, as I started out my professional career in CRM, originally in Sales Force Automation, but that quickly expanded to overall CRM. And with that you get a lot of background on customer centricity and the customer being always right etc.


    After a delayed flight back from the East Coast to Las Vegas, I made it to the Mirage shortly after midnight, and was still in a good mood - tweeting that only in Las Vegas you have a line checking into a hotel after midnight...



    But then the challenges started to pop up fast and furiously:
    • Despite having a non smoking room reserved the receptionist told me that they had only smoking rooms left. Not a good start.    
       
    • In my hope that my MLife loyalty would change something - I wanted to provide my loyalty card number, only to note that I didn't have it. But I knew from other MGM properties that the receptionist can look that number up with the address. Not so my receptionist - she said it's not possible.... But I pressed and she then 'found a way' to do it, excusing herself for a 'brain fart' (her words!).

      [Epilogue - she gave me a number - but it wasn't mine as I discovered back home...]
       
    • So I make myself to the room - enter, can't find the light switch, but can see the bathroom, find the 'standard' setup of the light switch and ... there are toiletries on the sink. As I make my discover a female voice says faintly 'Hello?' - to which I retreat with profuse apologies that this was my room according to the front desk and my key opened the door... I doubled check once outside again - and yes it was my room.
     
    • So off to the service phone on the floor (22nd) only to find out - that it doesn't .... work.
       
    • Next down and to the service telephone at the bottom of the elevator...
       
    • Receptionist asks me to come back to reception, which I politely decline with my luggage and given it's almost half a mile and its quarter to 1 AM. So he says he will re-program my key and give me a new room over the phone. Incredously I ask if that worked, as I never have seen that working - but he reassures me this will work.
       
    • Back to 22nd floor and of course... it does not work.
       
    • Back down (service phone broken) and guess I sounded irritated - as the switchboard offers to connect me with the hotel manager... I though the cavalry is here.
       
    • The hotel manager can't offer an apology but says he will send someone with the key. 15 miniutes later as I am picking up the phone again - a young gentleman shows up and gives me the new keys... promises to call me if I make it in the room (...).
       
    • I make it to the room and find new - never seen equipment - an air purifier.

    • Needless to say I never get a call in the room - and being 1:10 and having a 5 AM start I resort in my fate... needless to say the most smoke stinking room I ever was in. Luckily I was able to open the window, but let me tell you that the slightest move in the bed of a smoking room unleashes plenty of smoke.
       
    • The next day - on a conference call I took from my (smoking) room - the house cleaning maid walks in on me - no knocking whatsoever. Before your phantasies go wild - I was decently dressed.
       
    • Around 2 PM - I was supposed to get my new room assigned by noon - I call myself the hotel manager. The reply is 'oh yeah - let me send someone'.
       
    • And yes - 10 minutes later another young gentleman shows up and gives me the new room keys.
       
    • I was glad to be in my new non smoking room. 2 more house cleaning walk ins - I know use the deadbolt. And they left me a present:
     
    • Also it looks like taking away trash guests need to leave lying around - as there was no dust bin - does not get picked up either. Or hotel dishes: 
    ]

    • Generally it looks like the Mirage Las Vegas is falling apart - just two pictures from my bath room door. Door handle not secured by screws and broken off wood at the door.


    Throughout my 3 day and 3 night stay - where I documented all of the above on Twitter, no one of the Mirage bothered to reach out to me. It was like all of this did not happen... 

    MyPOV

    Humans make mistakes. My receptionist probably did not check that we just passed midnight and did not exclude checkin guests... Rooms get sold out. Room keys don't work. Etc. But what matters in customers service is how enterprises react when something goes wrong. And that's where the Mirage Las Vegas is an utter failure and I cannot recommend anyone staying there.

    P.S. And if you have a Twitter account in 2015 - with over 10k followers - you really should monitor it (@TheMirageLV). 

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    We have the opportunity to attend Infor’s user conference Inforum in New Orleans - which is well attended with over 6000 participants.



    Here are my Top 3 Takeaways from the Day 1 keynote:
    • Infor Xi - Infor announced its new platform, Infor Xi. Infor Xi is key for Infor as it will be the platform on which it will run its next generation, CloudSuite products. Infor Xi comes with a good DNA, leveraging AWS as public cloud infrastructure and popular open source products like PostgreSQL, using standards like HTML5 and XML. Infor complements AWS with key monitoring and support features needed for enterprises, as COO Murphy presented.

    Infor Xi Platform Features

    • CloudSuite - And on top of Infor Xi runs Infor Cloudsuite Corporate - for now mainly horizontal functions like Finance, HCM and Purchasing. CloudSuite Corporate will be the applications foundation for the microvertical applications that Infor is bringing to the cloud with the help of Infor Xi. On top of that Infor today announced CloudSuite Business, the first vertical CloudSuite offering (based on Syteline).    

    School presents CloudSuite

    • UpgradeX - When vendors have a new go to platform as Infor has with CloudSuite, it is key to move their install base to it. And with a vast, fragmented across numerous acquired applications install base like Infor - these upgrade / migration programs are even more crucial for customer and the vendor. We will check in the 24 hours to get a pulse on where the UpgradeX programs stands and what customers think about it. 

    MyPOV - A good start to Inforum with key product announcements with Infor Xi and Infor CloudSuite Byusiness. It will be key for Infor to show how the deep (micro) vertical capabilities will migrate over to the new cloud world, with programs like UpgradeX playing a key role to move the customer base. We will use the next days to get some clarity on both.

    -----------

    More about Infor
    • Market Move - Infor runs CloudSuite on AWS - Inflection Point or hot air balloon - read here
    • Progress Report - Infor moves to the cloud and (micro) vertical flavor - read here
    • Inforum 2013 – Takeaways from the Keynote – Day 2 – read here.
    • Infor’s bet on microverticals – the good, the bad the ugly – read here


    Find more coverage on the Constellation Research website here.

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    I am sure SAP executives would probably play back the whole HANA marketing and product naming story if they could - given the confusion that was created in the initial enthusiasm around the HANA in memory database with HANA Enterprise Cloud (HEC), HANA Cloud Platform (HCP) and other HANA xxx products and initiative.
     


    But it’s time to revisit what is happening a few weeks before TechEd / dcode around HANA Cloud Platform (HCP) and SAP was gracious enough to recently brief me on progress, upcoming new features and latest uptake.



    Improved – Purpose

    For a PaaS platform it is key to understand what kind of applications can be built, potentially run, operated and built with. Naturally PaaS players with evolving PaaS capabilities prefer to be more nebulous than clear on this key area - as the capabilities of the platform expand and naturally vendors don’t want to lose developers to other platforms because of a too restrictive positioning.
     


    So credit goes to SAP to provide more clarity in this area, with three major usage scenarios being the focus of HCP now:

    1. New Cloud Apps - SAP wants a portion of the ‘born on the web’ apps, which makes sense - but is probably the most competitive area of the three scenarios.
       
    2. On-Premise Apps - Building cloud extension to on premise apps with the help of HCP is the most common scenario for SAP internally, and a good one to draft in as a potential HCP user.
       
    3. Cloud Apps - Building cloud extensions to cloud solutions. For SAP that would be e.g. putting new cloud based apps on top of SuccessFactors or Ariba, another scenario that is relevant for SAP and with that decision makers should have a relatively high comfort level HCP can help them for the same or similar project scenarios.

    MyPOV - SAP is smart at packaging these 3 different scenarios in the usage of HCP – all three of them being close to what SAP needs to do internally anyway, so why not make it good enough / attractive enough for customers and partners attempting to do the same.
     

    Improved – Platform Capabilities

    So the marketecture slide for HCP looks as below.
     



    And while the bottom part is fairly know and stable since the launch of HANA, the top boxes are part of where I see news and changes:

    • Line-of-Business Apps - It is now clear that SAP will develop its new Line of Business Apps with HCP. First products like Simple-Finance are being built on HCP. More will come.
       
    • Hybris on CloudFoundry - Interestingly the recent SAP acquisition hybris will build its next generation platform on top of CloudFoundry, which becomes / is part of HCP.
       
    • Customer / Partner Apps - SAP expects customers and partners to build their application – based on the three above mentioned scenarios with the help of HCP.

    MyPOV – For the longest time SAP development and platform tools have been proprietary, despite all attempts to make ABAP and the ABAP platform a ‘standard’ business platform. . If there is a standard programming language these days for business applications, it is certainly more Java and Java byte code compatible languages…. than ABAP. So it is good to see that SAP is supporting these languages, but equally probably the most popular large enterprise PaaS, CloudFoundry (here is my News Analysis of the partnership announcement). That this happens as part of the hybris project should serve as a good confidence building point for users of HCP, as SAP needs to deliver the next version of hybris and wants to run that largely in its own (or partner) data centers. So the CloudFoundry integration into HCP has to succeed – otherwise SAP will be in a totally different challenge. Lastly – by building commerce functions as part of HCP, SAP creates another attractive reason to use HCP always - assuming SAP will provide good enough commerce functionality and will open it up to HCP users –as they key next generation application capabilities of commerce are ‘baked’ into the platform.

    Notable is also the very bottom – with using both SAP and partner datacenters. And while SAP started out doing everything themselves, they have signed up partners on the data center side, will be good to check-in at another opportunity to see how these partners are supported and how successful they are at this early point of product life for HCP.

    Lastly note the subtitle of the slide: “The in memory PaaS.” That is certainly a genuine statement as HANA runs on RAM – but also harbors some concerns, more on that below.

    Improved – Licensing options

    SAP has already – or will be changing soon – the licensing option for HCP, which is a major breakthrough in my view, as PaaS platform not only have to be purpose fit driven but also affordable. 


    SAP is using the following three packages for HCP
    1. Infrastructure Services - This is the closest SAP will dabble into the IaaS world. If a customer has a HANA license, SAP will operate it – as part of the infrastructure services. It is BYOL as already earlier announced for HEC last year.
       
    2. DB Services - This is the package that will be key for enterprises who will want to build on HANA, and deploy to HEC, using HCP as the PaaS.
       
    3. Application Services - Here SAP throws in its weight around business APIs, and allows customers to build higher level applications (remember ‘composite apps’?) on top of these. Certainly with a different license construct than the other two packages, fair enough.
    More on the services offerings around the announcement earlier this year is here.

    MyPOV – With these three packages SAP covers the key license needs of the most common usage scenarios. And it makes sense to break these into more granular packages as SAP has done as the cloud game is all about load derived economies of scale – so the more load SAP can get e.g. for its Infrastructure Services, the better for the overall success of SAP in the cloud.

    Improved - Outlook

    It is always key to look at the plans ahead when making a decision for a PaaS. And SAP has recently expanded these plans:



    With the extension to other database services – starting with the Sybase products HCP becomes a broader PaaS tool. We mentioned the support of CloudFoundry before, with the addition of docker SAP offers something for the container crazed demand that we see these days. And we have already mentioned the AppServices. Here SAP shares a similar vision like IBM with its BlueMix (also CloudFoundry based) vision of an API economy.

    MyPOV – It was already key to see SAP opening the runtimes to Java, node.js and standard support for HTML5 with SAP UI5. The ultimate test on the database side will be to see when SAP will not only support in-house databases (Sybase, MaxDB etc) – but also other leading databases (Oracle 12c, IBM DB2 etc.) and NoSQL databases (Hadoop, MongoDB, Couchbase etc). The opening of the database support will be key in terms of customers and developer classifying HCP as a general PaaS player or a SAP ecosystem play. The addition of docker is a very good move, again my preference is a load perspective. SAP as a later entry in the IaaS game needs to chase loads to drive up utilization of its data centers. And it may be the same customers that recently drove VMware to support docker that may have had a word with SAP, too. And certainly docker makes a nice developer story.

    Finally the Apps Services area is an interesting differentiator. SAP will have to make clear how these APIs will be licensed, supported and operated, but a functionally rich enterprise Paas is a powerful value proposition that both Salesforce.com (see here) and IBM (see here) are already using.


    But don’t pop open the champagne yet…

    There are a number of concerns that remain in my view:
    • SAP’s cloud vision is very database centric. .With the rest of the industry looking more at compute elasticity, SAP is going its own path. We discussed this previously, and it may work out for SAP one more time – but going a special path remains a risk for enterprises.
       
    • We will have to see if SAP will open up to other vendor’s (= competitor) databases and the NoSQL databases – both capabilities enterprises want and need. In my view SAP cannot afford to lose potential HCP customers due to not supporting these usage scenarios.
       
    • The CloudFoundry integration is new and SAP needs to address it in much more detail what the integration in general and how it looks like on a developer day to day life basis. Do you develop in CloudFoundry, deploy to it – what about the other Pivotal databases etc. are just some questions that immediately come to mind.
       
    • Analytics are a key ingredient to next generation applications and SAP always positions HANA for this. And while there are use cases that have merits to run in memory, there are others that need close to application deployment and with that need support for different platforms.
       
    • Social is a key capability of a 21st century platform and SAP has Jam, but the platform message is just being developed now and delivered now. At Sapphire that messages was pretty non existent, and it was good to hear Bernd Leukert mention that capability on the SAP Cloud update webcast on September 15th.
       
    • Mobile is equally important for next generation applications and SAP has a good story here – it needs to be clarified how to transport applications and how much native support for emerging platforms (think wearables) there will be and needs to be. SAP could take a playbook from Microsoft here – with its Windows Universal App. How about a Universal SAP App being built on HCP?
       
    • Not a problem for HCP to solve – but an overall challenge SAP has with HANA is to support Hadoop et al. If critical information lives in Hadoop and enterprises need fast in memory access for it to power next generation analytical applications, why not allow them to run Hadoop in memory in an overall HANA framework?
        
    • SAP has done good progress becoming more open source driven and using more open source (well, what is the alternative?). On the other side it has still ambition with its new programming language River – I haven’t heard from the River folks in a while – so SAP will have to balance open source vs proprietary at some point.


    MyPOV

    There is a German saying ‘Gut Ding will Weile haben’ – which translates into ‘Good things take their time’ – and in my view it is indicative for the HCP progress. It took some time, a lot of clarification, but now HCP is moving to become a generally viable PaaS offering for enterprise applications. It would not hurt of SAP to start calling it what it is, a PaaS and tackle the remaining strategic directional questions asap. Looking forward to TecheEd / dcode.

    Update - On the September 15th Cloud Webcast SAP called HCP a PaaS multiple time - good to call a spade a spade.


    And more on overall SAP strategy and products:

    • Event Report - SAP SuccessFactors picks up speed - but there remains work to be done - read here
    • First Take - SAP SuccessFactors SuccessConnect - Top 3 Takeaways Day 1 Keynote - read here.
    • Event Report - Sapphire - SAP finds its (unique) path to cloud - read here
    • What I would like SAP to address this Sapphire - read here
    • News Analysis - SAP becomes more about applications - again - read here
    • Market Move - SAP acquires Fieldglass - off to the contingent workforce - early move or reaction? Read here.
    • SAP's startup program keep rolling – read here.
    • Why SAP acquired KXEN? Getting serious about Analytics – read here.
    • SAP steamlines organization further – the Danes are leaving – read here.
    • Reading between the lines… SAP Q2 Earnings – cloudy with potential structural changes – read here.
    • SAP wants to be a technology company, really – read here
    • Why SAP acquired hybris software – read here.
    • SAP gets serious about the cloud – organizationally – read here.
    • Taking stock – what SAP answered and it didn’t answer this Sapphire [2013] – read here.
    • Act III & Final Day – A tale of two conference – Sapphire & SuiteWorld13 – read here.
    • The middle day – 2 keynotes and press releases – Sapphire & SuiteWorld – read here.
    • A tale of 2 keynotes and press releases – Sapphire & SuiteWorld – read here.
    • What I would like SAP to address this Sapphire – read here.
    • Why 3rd party maintenance is key to SAP’s and Oracle’s success – read here.
    • Why SAP acquired Camillion – read here.
    • Why SAP acquired SmartOps – read here.
    • Next in your mall – SAP and Oracle? Read here.



    And more about SAP technology:

    • News Analysis - SAP commits to CloudFoundry and OpenSource - key steps - but what is the direction? - Read here.
    • News Analysis - SAP moves Ariba Spend Visibility to HANA - Interesting first step in a long journey - read here
    • Launch Report - When BW 7.4 meets HANA it is like 2 + 2 = 5 - but is 5 enough - read here
    • Event Report - BI 2014 and HANA 2014 takeaways - it is all about HANA and Lumira - but is that enough? Read here.
    • News Analysis – SAP slices and dices into more Cloud, and of course more HANA – read here.
    • SAP gets serious about open source and courts developers – about time – read here.
    • My top 3 takeaways from the SAP TechEd keynote – read here.
    • SAP discovers elasticity for HANA – kind of – read here.
    • Can HANA Cloud be elastic? Tough – read here.
    • SAP’s Cloud plans get more cloudy – read here.
    • HANA Enterprise Cloud helps SAP discover the cloud (benefits) – read here.
    Find more coverage on the Constellation Research website here.

    0 0

    This morning Cisco announced its intent to acquire Pasadena based Metacloud. It has been quiet over at Cisco since the launch of the Cisco Intercloud earlier this year. So it’s a good sign we some action around Cisco’s cloud plans.

     


     

    Let’s dissect the press release in our usual style, commenting on the new:

    […] Cisco today announced its intent to acquire privately held Metacloud. Based in Pasadena, Calif., Metacloud deploys and operates private clouds for global organizations with a unique OpenStack-as-a-Service model that delivers and remotely operates production-ready private clouds in a customer’s data center.

    MyPOV – Metacloud is one of the many vendors looking to make it big in the OpenStack market. It’s OpenStack as a service model is an interesting, but not unique approach (e.g. Platform9 was covered by us in a blog post recently. But given the relative complexities enterprises face installing and operating OpenStack private cloud, this will certainly help Cisco’s Intercloud customers and may well attract prospects.

    Metacloud’s OpenStack-based cloud platform will accelerate Cisco’s strategy to build the world's largest global Intercloud, a network of clouds, together with key partners to address customer requirements for a globally distributed, highly secure cloud platform capable of meeting the robust demands of the Internet of Everything. Since announcing its Intercloud strategy in March, Cisco has made rapid progress, enlisting key technology partners, service and cloud providers, all of whom are standardizing upon the Cisco Cloud Services architecture, which is based on OpenStack open source software for building private and public clouds.

    With OpenStack gaining global acceptance through its ability to handle any workload on any hypervisor on any public or private cloud, the ability to manage OpenStack installations at scale is a critical component of Cisco’s Intercloud strategy. Cisco’s acquisition of Metacloud’s remote managed OpenStack Private Cloud-as-a-Service platform will play an increasingly important role in accelerating Cisco customers’ journey to the cloud, enabling enterprises to match the as-a-Service operational benefits of public cloud with the security and control provided by private cloud. Metacloud also will allow service providers to combine their public cloud deployments with remotely managed OpenStack private clouds, and to deliver unique Intercloud offerings to their customers.


    MyPOV – I am sure Cisco has made progress – but it was less visible than above states – it recently partnered with RedHat on an integrated OpenStack datacenter infrastructure.

    “Cloud computing has dramatically changed the IT landscape. To enable greater business agility and lower costs, organizations are shifting from an on-premise IT structure to hybrid IT – a mix of private cloud, public cloud, and on-premise applications,” said Hilton Romanski, senior vice president, Cisco Corporate Development. “The resulting silos present a challenge to IT administrators, as choice, visibility, data sovereignty and protection in this world of many clouds requires an open platform. We believe Metacloud’s technology will play a critical role in enabling our customers to experience a seamless journey to a new world of many clouds, providing choice, flexibility, and data governance.”

    MyPOV – We agree on the direction, but MetaCloud is also interesting in the opposite sense, that a service provider runs an on premise private cloud. There will be enterprises who will chose to monitor their OpenStack powered private cloud through a public cloud console, but the larger potential are customers who simply don’t want to manage their own data center anymore. This is an opportunity for Cisco and partners. And many customers may be open to purchase Cisco Severs – having space in their data centers – if Cisco can show that operating them is cheaper than in other (public?) clouds.

    Upon completion of the acquisition, Metacloud employees will join Cisco’s Cloud Infrastructure and Managed Services organization led by Faiyaz Shahpurwala, senior vice president. The acquisition of Metacloud is expected to be complete in the first quarter of fiscal year 2015, subject to customary closing

    MyPOV – And there we have it – joining the ‘… managed Services’ organization. Certainly a good business opportunity.

    Overall MyPOV

    Certainly a good move by Cisco, that like other OpenStack players has realized that there are not only benefits using OpenStack, but serious complexities in implementing and operating OpenStack clouds. If my speculation is right, the Metacloud capabilities will give Cisco the opportunity to run more customer data centers as a service for them. It may also give Cisco the opportunity to run other hardware vendors’ servers. Let’s not forget that for Cisco professional services – always assuming performed right – are helping the company’s overall margin. The future will certainly hold some interesting dynamics here.

    And lastly – as I have pointed out before – the crux of the overall cloud game is – who spends the CAPEX for the servers and data centers? The large public clouds maintain themselves, but later entries in the cloud market have to do a lot of investment to catch up. Metacloud allows Cisco to have its customers buy servers – located in a customer or a Cisco datacenter – and even administered by Cisco or a 3rd party. As long as the TCO looks more attractive than the status quo or other buying alternative, then all ends well.


    --------

    More on Cisco

    • News Analysis - Another week another Billion - Cisco Intercloud - A different approach to cloud - better late than never - read here



    More about HP
    • News Analysis - HP acquired Eucalyptus - Genius or Panic at Page Mill Road? Read here
    • News Analysis - Today's Billion in Cloud Investment is HP's and goes to Helion - read here
    • A tale of two cloud GAs - Google & HP - read here
    • The cloud is growing up - 3 signs from the news - read here
    • To HAVEn and have not - or: HP Bundles away - read here

    More about IBM
    • Progress Report - The mainframe is alive and kicking - but there is more in IBM STG - read here
    • News Analysis - IBM and Intel partner to make the cloud more secure - read here
    • Progress Report - IBM BigData an Analytics have a lot of potential - time to show it - read here
    • Event Report - What a difference a year makes - and off to a good start - read here
    • First Take - 3 Key Takeaways from IBM's Impact Conference - Day 1 Keynote - read here
    • Another week and another Billion - this week it's a BlueMix Paas - read here
    • First take - IBM makes Connection - introduces the TalentSuite at IBM Connect - read here
    • IBM kicks of cloud data center race in 2014 - read here
    • First Take - IBM Software Group's Analyst Insights - read here
    • Are we witnessing one of the largest cloud moves - so far? Read here
    • Why IBM acquired Softlayer - read here

    More about Microsoft:
    • Event Report - Azure grows and blossoms - enough for enterprises (yet)? Read here
    • Event Report - Microsoft Build Day 1 Keynote - Top Enterprise Takeaways - read here.
    • Microsoft gets even more serious about devices - acquire Nokia - read here.
    • Microsoft does not need one new CEO - but six - read here.
    • Microsoft makes the cloud a platform play - Or: Azure and her 7 friends - read here.
    • How the Cloud can make the unlikeliest bedfellows - read here.
    • How hard is multi-channel CRM in 2013? - Read here.
    • How hard is it to install Office 365? Or: The harsh reality of customer support - read here.
    Find more coverage on the Constellation Research website here.

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    I had the opportunity to attend Infor’s yearly user conference in New Orleans. The event was very attended with over 6000 participants and was filled with pretty strategic announcements for Infor, customers, partners and competitors. I previously blogged about my Day 1 Keynote takeaways – you can find them here.

     



    Tough to make a call for the Top3 event highlights – but here you go:

    1. Vertical vs Horizontal

    For a long time Infor has positioned itself as the vendor that goes the extra mile to build vertical functionality. Sometimes the vendor even calls it micro-verticals, and Infor is starting to make a name for themselves in this area. CEO Charles Philips shared a conversation with a potential customer in real estate, who stated that the whole industry does not see much support from the other enterprise software vendors. And there can be no question that Infor has some very deep functional assets across the many vendors the company had acquired.

    So far so good for Day 1- but then the Day 2 keynote add significant horizontal functionality plans to the agenda. Not only did Infor announce a new Financials product – Philips said they are the first vendor to do so in the last 10 years (well SAP may want to argue), but also a new HCM product, the two being bundled into the new CloudSuite Corporate product. Head of Product Soma Somasundaram went over the design principles for the new Financials product (press release here), and they are all good ingredients for a promising future. And to be fair, Infor executives during the keynote tirelessly described additional vertical features that are planned to be part of the product. So a key focus of upcoming R&D is going to be on horizontal functionality, but coupled with deep functional depth. Unfortunately Infor did not share a roadmap, so the audience was left with an unclear timeline of what will be delivered when. Certainly early days, but a roadmap will be key for Infor to flesh out.

     
    Soma Somasundaram introduces new Infor Financials (thanks to @RalphRio for picture)

    2, Cloud if you want

    Infor keeps building on Amazon’s AWS as its public cloud partner, we covered the original announcement at the AWS Cloud Summit in San Francisco here. In the meantime Infor has complemented AWS with additional capabilities that the vendor needed to make its application portfolio run on AWS. During an executive Q&A COO Pam Murphy shared that all products can be up and running in 30 minutes. That is a far cry from the 2-3 minutes a traditional AWS AMI image sees, but very fast if you consider that Infor has to spin up quite complex product architectures to enable their products to ruin on AWS. And its superfast if you consider the times involving installing the same onsite. It’s likely the software download (or the unwrapping of the DVDs) will take longer than 30 minutes.

    But despite all the marketing attention for CloudSuite Infor allows their customers do deploy all their products on premise as well. And while some may argue that this makes Infor not an ‘all –in cloud vendor’ – it’s the choice customers want. From the conversations with customers it certainly it is encouraging for them to see other customers starting to run CloudSuite on AWS, and their experiences will be key for the next wave of adoption. That said we didn’t see (yet) a live CloudSuite customer on stage (or missed it as I watched the Day 2 keynote between hotel, taxi and airport).

     
    Scibelli introduces glide (thanks to @alanlepo for picture)

    3. Ion is the (not so) secret (anymore) weapon

    The key enabler in Infor’s application architecture is and remains its Ion product. We spend some time (never enough) with Massimo Capoccia, who leads the effort at Infor. And Ion has morphed from a file handler doing export, import and transfer of data across the Infor products into a veritable application server, which enables calling of APIs, direct data to multiple sources and allows for workflows to be executed on the data while it is in flight or to orchestrate the data flow. All that while being deployed both in the cloud (on AWS) and on premises (as customer choose). Infor did not confirm that Ion will move into a full PaaS when I asked, but the writing is certainly on the wall. If Infor gets programming language support and code management right, it will be a key area where its customers should pay close attention to, not only to integrate and run products from the Infor portfolio, but potentially build next generation applications on.

    Tidbits


    • Hook & Loop keeps delivering– The creative team keeps delivering great looking user interfaces, I was particularly impressed by the new Glide touch UI. It’s now time to issue dates for the uptake of this new user interfaces for the existing and newly announced products. 
    • HCM also brand new - During the Day 2 keynote Infor’s Tarik Taman showed the new look and feel and a number of interesting features for HCM. Very much Performance Management focused, complemented by the new analytical capabilities Infor has acquired with PeopleAnswers. With the latter and Workbrain, Infor has two veritable assets to build an interesting and competitive 21st century HCM product. 
    • Data Science good, but... – Analytics played a big role at Inforum, with two data scientists getting ample room in the keynotes, on each day. It is good to see Infor investing in this key area – as analytics make the difference in the future of enterprise automation. My main concerns here are on positioning and delivery – read on in MyPOV below.
    • Ming.le may change gestalt – Infor is one of the vendors that have opted to make social capabilities a standalone and separate product. Social is not part of the platform right now – as the Infor products have been built on different technology platforms. But it runs in the cloud (on AWS) and creates value for the existing Infor applications. If it will become a more native platform capability with the new products the vendor announced today, will be interesting to see. 

    MyPOV

    A very good event for Infor and its customers. It is clear that the R&D effort goes to high return areas, where multiple / all Infor products can benefit from it investment wise. The new UIs, Ion, Ming.le are shared investment. The same for the newly announced horizontal functionalities. With that Infor is changing its R&D investment strategy from leveraging great vertical functionality from acquired assets to (my speculation) building its next generation of product organically. Executives openly stated that intention for the new Financials product. This means massive investment into product and even though Infor has added well over a 1000 developers in the last quarters it needs to balance new product development with functional extension and demand in the existing product portfolio. And Infor needs to provide a roadmap when which functionality will be available. Maybe too early at Inforum, but better sooner than later.

    On the analytics side it was great to see so much attention being given to Analytics. Infor calls it Data Science, but in my view the science term is misleading. Yes the quants are also called data scientists, but science has uncertain outcomes and uncertain outcomes are not something an executives making enterprise software decisions have an appetite for. We know smart people can move the needle in any analytical process – but through a time consuming professional services engagement. And that in my book is not the future of analytics in the 21st century, which is much more the multiple analytical model enabled business user running these analytics personally and without involvement of data scientists. Infor would not be the first vendor caught in the services trap – but likely also not the last one, too. And Infor certainly spend more time on Analytics than fellow competitors (e.g. SAP) did at their user conference, so overall good to have the focus on Analytics.

    My colleague Alan Lepovsky has written a great event report on his findings here - don't miss it. 

    ----------


    More about Infor
    • First Take - Infor's Inforum - Top 3 Takeaways from Day 1 Keynote - read here
    • Market Move - Infor runs CloudSuite on AWS - Inflection Point or hot air balloon - read here
    • Progress Report - Infor moves to the cloud and (micro) vertical flavor - read here
    • Inforum 2013 – Takeaways from the Keynote – Day 2 – read here.
    • Infor’s bet on microverticals – the good, the bad the ugly – read here
    Find more coverage on the Constellation Research website here.


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     It was rumored for quite a while, that SAP may acquire Concur. After SAP acquired Ariba a few years back and Fieldglass this year (we covered earlier here) - it was only a matter of time till the company would likely acquire again. 

    Earlier this week board member Bern Leukert talked about how SAP is #1 in users and #2 in revenue for cloud based applications. The 700M US$ that Concur has as run rate for its cloud revenue will certainly bring SAP closer to #1 Salesforce.com. And pushing it's user base to 50M creates certainly a nice cushion, should anybody try to go for SAP's crown of having the most cloud users. 



    So let's dissect in our unique new analysis stile the press release (you can find it here): 


    SAP SE (NYSE: SAP) and Concur Technologies, Inc. (NSDQ: CNQR) today announced that SAP’s subsidiary, SAP America, Inc., has entered into an agreement to acquire Concur. With more than 23,000 customers, 4,200 employees and 25 million active users in over 150 countries, Concur is the leader in the multi-billion market for travel and expense (T&E) management software. With Concur, SAP’s business network – the world’s largest – will transact more than US$600 billion annually, deliver frictionless commerce across more than 25 different industries and address annual corporate travel spend of US$1.2 trillion worldwide.


    MyPOV - An impressive increase of market share for SAP in the corporate spend management market. But if you consider that with Ariba and Fieldglass and now Concur, SAP only addresses in total half of the corporate travel market, you realize it is early days in this market category. But SAP certainly is in the pole position now. 


    The Concur board of directors has unanimously approved the transaction, which is expected to close in the fourth quarter 2014 or the first quarter 2015, subject to Concur stockholder approval, clearances by the relevant regulatory authorities and other customary closing conditions. The per-share purchase price of US$129 represents a 20% premium over the September 17 closing price, a 21% premium over the one month volume weighted average price per share and an enterprise value of approximately US$8.3 billion. The transaction will be funded from a credit facility agreement of up to €7 billion to cover the purchase price, target debt refinancing and acquisition-related costs. The company has undergone an external credit rating process with two agencies. The results of this process will be published shortly.



    MyPOV - SAP paid a significant but not hefty premium (Fieldglass wasn't disclosed and Ariba was 20%, too - but 'cheap' at only 4.3B US$) - and let's not even calculate how long it could / would take to earn that amount back... but the real value of Concur is in its established interfaces to the many travel industry providers. If SAP wanted to compete in this space without Concur it would have had to spend a lot of time and money, and the former is in short supply for SAP in regards of moving to the cloud. 


    “The acquisition of Concur is consistent with our relentless focus on the business network,” said Bill McDermott, CEO of SAP. “We are making a bold move to innovate the future of business within and between companies. With Ariba, Fieldglass and Concur, SAP is the undisputed business network company. We are redefining how businesses conduct commerce across goods and services, contingent workforces, travel and entertainment. With the SAP HANA platform, the possibilities to innovate new business models around Concur and the network are limitless.”


    MyPOV - McDermott puts it perfectly. I'd debate the relentless focus with the cumbersome presentation of the Ariba keynote at Sapphire in 2013 (read here) - but recently the focus has certainly gone up. As spend management has a number of 'higher ground' argument that are attractive to SAP:


    • Large user base - As SAP wants (and probably needs) to be a leader in cloud - spend management apps deliver the users. SAP would not have been #1 in users even before Concur if it had not acquired Ariba.
       
    • Stable revenue - SAP wants (and needs) cloud revenues. Spend revenue are stable and have less of a need to keep a salesforce around immediately as other SaaS software categories require.
       
    • Little competition - The other SaaS player - including Oracle have little interest in the category - for now. So SAP can acquire avoiding bidding wars (remember Retek?).
       
    • Up sell - Spend management applications are an easy up sell / cross-sell item for the SAP salesforce. Same buyers, more SAP install at the customers.
       
    • Synergies - What companies spend needs to get funded and updated in an enterprises 's Finance and Purchasing systems. SAP owns many of these, so getting rid of an interface and let SAP own this integration is an intuitive synergy for decision. makers. 


    “Concur shares SAP’s vision to help our customers ‘Run simple.’,” added McDermott. “Concur cloud solutions are network-based and enable context-aware applications for travelers to use on any mobile device. With Concur, people are given the professional courtesy and ultimate flexibility to make the choices that are right for them. No longer does cost control for companies have to come at the expense of people.”

    MyPOV - This fits nicely with McDermott new mantra of 'simple'. And there is a lot of potential to reduce the administrative hassle of travel and expenses. If SAP can really solve this simple - very good news. And I like the new People focus in the quote. Note, not employees, but people are the target user of spend management
    But it is also proof to the point that simple application run on a lot of complexity in the background. To get that right is the 'do or die' for the delivery of simple applications. 


    “We have always been focused on making solutions for real customer problems, and with SAP we have a great opportunity to advance that mission,” said Steve Singh, CEO of Concur. “We are constantly seeking innovative ways to deliver the best customer experience and we’re excited about leveraging SAP technology, including SAP HANA as we scale globally.”


    MyPOV - Nice and wow - already aligned with HANA, that was fast. But does HANA make sense for expense reports? We will see. 


    Scaling the Business Network

    Concur will expand SAP’s business network to reach into the US$1.2 trillion corporate travel spectrum.
    Concur has developed an open platform to connect the corporate travel ecosystem, such as airlines, hotels and car rental companies in new and innovative ways.


    MyPOV - We need to dig a little deeper here, tough to assess how much work has to be done here. 

    With the addition of the corporate travel ecosystem to the Ariba and Fieldglass networks, SAP’s business network will have an opportunity to power transactions that drive more than US$10 trillion of global spend annually.


    MyPOV - Staggering numbers. But then if SAP could make 0,01% of transactions (The Apple Pay cut, just to throw that out) - it would make only 1B p.a.. But there's is more money to be made than in pure process / transaction costs, to be fair. 


    With SAP HANA, Concur anticipates real-time network collaboration that will reshape the travel value chain, create new business models and eliminate needless complexity confronting millions of business travelers worldwide.


    MyPOV - That's a nice vision - but much of travel is operated through interfaces of highly proprietary systems. Try to book an airline ticket between 1 and 4 AM for a local airline and you may often be turned away. It is maintenance time. 


    SAP applications touch two-thirds of global commerce; combined with the power of SAP HANA, SAP is uniquely positioned to make the “real-time networked economy” a reality.


    MyPOV - A lot has to happen for a real time networks economy. Start with software agents to transact business. Something - at least publicly - none of the enterprise software vendors are working.on. And enterprises need to get comfortable with the network economy first. 


    Achieving Significant Business Synergies

    Together the two companies will have more than 50 million users in the cloud — more than any enterprise cloud company — and will be the second largest cloud company by measure of revenue.

    MyPOV - Here we go. Has the SAP board incentives in that direction - similar like the 1B user ambition of the past?


    Concur has a revenue run rate of more than US$700 million. With its global reach in every country around the world, SAP will provide a global platform to scale.

    The majority of SAP customers do not run Concur, presenting a clear opportunity to scale as part of the SAP franchise.


    MyPOV - I am sure there are some hefty returns on these two categories in the acquisition cost model. 


    Only 30% of Concur customers currently run SAP, presenting a dynamic opportunity to introduce SAP innovations to the Concur install base.


    MyPOV - That's a little tougher sale, SAP will have to create substantial synergies and can't at the same time risk the openness of Concur for non SAP back ends, unless jeopardizing potential future revenue. 


    With one of the richest T&E data sets in the industry and the potential of the SAP HANA platform, Concur will deliver unique insight and analytics to business expense wherever it occurs.


    MyPOV - Certainly some Data-as-a-Service plans and benchmarking ambitions get new spring in their legs. 


    With the dominance of the mobile device in travel and entertainment, Concur will collaborate with SAP’s innovation leadership to build network-based, context-aware mobile applications.


    MyPOV - Good synergies and the chance to sell a lot of mobile apps. And Apple is a 30% winner. Oh well. 


    SAP will migrate all its corporate travel and expense management to Concur’s integrated solutions. [...]


    MyPOV - This is a key and probably right decision. SAP is well advised not to have the situation it had for HCM products again. But a decision for SAP T&E customers to keep an eye on. Remember a year ago Expenses was SAP's showcase for cloud apps. Time flies in the cloud age. 


    Implications, Implications. 

    Let's look at the implications of this market move:

    Implications for SAP customers 

    There are three key scenarios are in play here:
    • SAP customer who don't use SAP T&E and Concur - Good news if they don't use competitor products. Wait and see what SAP will come up with and look at the ROI of a travel spend management and T&E project. If a competitor product(s) is used - then stay where you are. Monitor SAP process and announcements though.
       
    • SAP customers who use Concur - Generally good news. Check what contracts say for material change of control. Ensure support and call SAP asap in case there are roadmap dependencies.
       
    • SAP customers who use SAP spend management and T&E apps - Time to call SAP asap and get reassurances in operation. Secure potential roadmap items contractually. Monitor carefully what SAP plans to do and be proactive. Use ASUG and other user groups as a forum. 


    Implications for Concur customers 

    You have become a SAP customer now. See what SAP will do to reach out to you and chart your course. If unfamiliar with SAP, time to join user groups and get familiar. If you have a Concur roadmap dependency secure it asap - best contractually. Better now than when the transaction has close. 


    Implications for Partners 

    For implementation partners the market has certainly become larger, so good news. But standing with the respective vendor may change and it's key to come to a strategic decision on the prospects of of this acquisition on your business.


    If you are a fulfillment partner check your contracts. Keep or improve conditions. It is unlikely that SAP will try to change the economics immediately - but ultimately they may well try. Be prepared for both cases and balance your provider portfolio. 


    Implications for Competitors 

    With Ariba and now with Concur, SAP has a jump start in spend management. It's a too large spend of your customers not to have a strategy. If you have existing contracts and partnerships with Concur, and you want to maintain that status - then secure contracts. Check Change of Control clauses. Look for early signals of SAP in regards of partner heterogeneity in plans and ambitions. 


    MyPOV 

    A good acquisition for SAP that further builds it's lead in spend management and T&E with the Concur acquisition. I already went over above why this is an attractive area for SAP. 

    On the flip side many of these arguments are also the reason why competitors don't want to get in the game (yet). Margins are tight. The question for SAP and shareholder is: Where is the best return of investment billions. And it is interesting that SAP finances the deal. No direct rancor for SAP customers asking for a return on maintenance. Good for investors as a 20+ growth in SaaS revenue for SAP is 'baked in' through Concur. Did Concur have a dominating position in the market? I leave this to others to explore. 


    A good first acquisition for sole CEO McDermott that gives breathing room for product development and quarter end pressure to make year over year SaaS revenue comparisons. 



    ---------

    And more on overall SAP strategy and products:

    • Event Report - SAP SuccessFactors picks up speed - but there remains work to be done - read here
    • First Take - SAP SuccessFactors SuccessConnect - Top 3 Takeaways Day 1 Keynote - read here.
    • Event Report - Sapphire - SAP finds its (unique) path to cloud - read here
    • What I would like SAP to address this Sapphire - read here
    • News Analysis - SAP becomes more about applications - again - read here
    • Market Move - SAP acquires Fieldglass - off to the contingent workforce - early move or reaction? Read here.
    • SAP's startup program keep rolling – read here.
    • Why SAP acquired KXEN? Getting serious about Analytics – read here.
    • SAP steamlines organization further – the Danes are leaving – read here.
    • Reading between the lines… SAP Q2 Earnings – cloudy with potential structural changes – read here.
    • SAP wants to be a technology company, really – read here
    • Why SAP acquired hybris software – read here.
    • SAP gets serious about the cloud – organizationally – read here.
    • Taking stock – what SAP answered and it didn’t answer this Sapphire [2013] – read here.
    • Act III & Final Day – A tale of two conference – Sapphire & SuiteWorld13 – read here.
    • The middle day – 2 keynotes and press releases – Sapphire & SuiteWorld – read here.
    • A tale of 2 keynotes and press releases – Sapphire & SuiteWorld – read here.
    • What I would like SAP to address this Sapphire – read here.
    • Why 3rd party maintenance is key to SAP’s and Oracle’s success – read here.
    • Why SAP acquired Camillion – read here.
    • Why SAP acquired SmartOps – read here.
    • Next in your mall – SAP and Oracle? Read here.



    And more about SAP technology:

    • HANA Cloud Platform - Revisited - Improvements ahead and turning into a real PaaS - read here
    • News Analysis - SAP commits to CloudFoundry and OpenSource - key steps - but what is the direction? - Read here.
    • News Analysis - SAP moves Ariba Spend Visibility to HANA - Interesting first step in a long journey - read here
    • Launch Report - When BW 7.4 meets HANA it is like 2 + 2 = 5 - but is 5 enough - read here
    • Event Report - BI 2014 and HANA 2014 takeaways - it is all about HANA and Lumira - but is that enough? Read here.
    • News Analysis – SAP slices and dices into more Cloud, and of course more HANA – read here.
    • SAP gets serious about open source and courts developers – about time – read here.
    • My top 3 takeaways from the SAP TechEd keynote – read here.
    • SAP discovers elasticity for HANA – kind of – read here.
    • Can HANA Cloud be elastic? Tough – read here.
    • SAP’s Cloud plans get more cloudy – read here.
    • HANA Enterprise Cloud helps SAP discover the cloud (benefits) – read here.
    Find more coverage on the Constellation Research website here.

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    We were invited to ADP’s yearly analyst summit in their brand new Innovation Center in the Chelsea neighborhood of New York. What was an empty floor plan back during my first visit in April this year – with only the blueprints giving an impression of what it would be, the space has turned into an impressive working facility with a mix of open space floor plan, huddle spaces and of course cafeteria and snack area. Unfortunately ADP sent the developers home for the day – would have been great to see the center in action, maybe something to consider for next year.


    Over 20 analysts received a comprehensive briefing starting with CEO Carlos Rordriquez all the way to an update on ADP’s Research activity. ADP was smart to have a customer speak to us, too – giving a welcome change to vendor speakers but also a great validation point. 

    Tough to pick the Top 3 takeaways – but here we go:

    • ADP has delivered– When I first saw the demos and mockups of ADP’s new interface and product architecture at the Meeting of the Minds (MOTM) conference this spring in Orlando, my (conservative) bet was 50 / 50 that ADP would deliver in September as promised. It’s simply too easy to show nice demos and mockups and then often too hard to build them in real software. I raised my confidence a few weeks later when visiting the Innovation Center and talking more in detail with Roberto Masiero and Keith Fulton and their teams. Talking to some of the new hires and seeing talent and background my odds went up to maybe 80%. Often even very talented people don’t make dates. But after today’s briefings it’s clear that ADP has delivered to the vision and ideas of MOTM (what I called a front end renovation strategy back then) and delivered its new user interface, delivering new user experience with the interactive paycheck (Paylense), and Benefits Enrollment this September. Both are only a start – but have good seasonal arguments for them – HR Tech is coming and Enrollment is starting for most enterprises. And naturally paycheck related innovation reaches most eyeballs in the ADP user community.

      What I missed back then – or wasn’t briefed on – I tend to belief the latter of course – is that the team took a platform approach to deliver the new applications. And already in April ADP published the platform to the community at developers.adp.com. This gave ADP more eyeballs and more validation, something always helpful for new platforms. On top of that platform ADP created a declarative Visual Design Language (VDL) to build systems – a good move to ensure consistency across products and developers. If all works ADP should pick up significant speed in the next quarters and deliver a very large number of new UIs for many / most of their products in 2015.  
    CEO Rodriguez opens the analyst meeting
    • ADP doesn’t stop here – Beyond the new user interface, ADP plans to deliver innovations in Social HCM (mostly around Performance Management), very interesting Benchmarking capabilities (both in pilot today and coming 2015, my guess it at MOTM), Data Mashups of HCM and non HCM data for true performance insights (summer 2015) and predictive analytics capabilities (later in 2015).

      But even before all of the above, ADP will make available its Marketplace (again my guess is for HR Tech) – that will open up for partners and customers. We have seen a number of marketplaces being more quietly (SuccessFactors) or loudly (Cornerstone) launched – so this seems to become a trend. And it makes sense to lower integration and purchasing costs for customers, but at the same time increases the stakes of the game not only from a platform perspective, but also a commercial perspective (invoicing, payment are just a few examples). 
     
    The ADP Lab is in good company as Masiero shows 

    • New Innovation keeps coming– As if the above wasn’t enough, ADP is also actively working on their next generation architecture. It has many very compelling and modern design characteristics like a global object model that will be kept in memory, using columnar database technology, fully declarative execution and forming a backend to the existing VDL UI. We need to learn more on that asap, but definitively one of the more innovative HCM architectures out there. And the ADP team seems to be already on the way – sharing size of the object model graph and access times (no surprise, superfast) with the analyst community. And with an open source first approach the ADP team has been able to build the next generation platform at impressive speeds. It was too early – or ADP didn’t want to share yet – what the first use cases will be, but definitively an area on which we will keep a key eye on. 
     
    Deliverables and design principles of the new ADP UI

    Tidbits


    • DaaS Opportunity ahead – It was good to catch up with Ahu Yildirmas, the Head of the ADP Research Institute that prepares the monthly ADP Labor Report, which turns out to be remarkably accurate. And with ADP paying 1 out of 6 paychecks in the USA there is enough data to be more than ready for some benchmarking and further data related activities and services. Good to see some of those on the roadmap for 2015.
       
    • Global View makes progress – It was good to catch up on GlobalView with Stuart Sackman and David MacIninch. The product makes progress and has interest of prospects, but is challenged with the innovation happening both in house and at long term partner SAP. Innovation is great but you need terra firma for global rollouts. And ADP partners with SuccessFactors and Workday, with the sound directive that the customer should always win. Certainly a good bearing but it will be good to see more of an ADP product / IP strategy for GlobalView, too, creating more differentiators over pure services competition in BPO.
       
    • Analytics– but really dashboards – ADP is creating a promising dashboard product, that makes suggestions to guide the path of analysis, as demoed by Richard Wilson and Vikas Saini, it is tackling key performance questions and includes non HCM data – what most users want to see. It would be good to have the product making recommendations in even stronger voice, but a good start (see my take on ‘true’ analytics here).
       
    • Recruiting – shows the need for a new UI – Next we looked at Talent Management, and as briefed together with Bill Kutik and Steve Boese, not surprisingly a lot of Recruiting. The functionality is solid and good – but the user experience is a few years old. So it’s timely the new VDL powered UI is around the corner. I’d expect ADP to show mockups shortly. And then there is the alternative view, making the recruiter obsolete (read here) which isn’t reflected. I also think ADP needs ‘guerilla’ / viral ways to get Talent Management functionality into its customer base, as perception, access to decision makers and sales skills take a long time to develop.
       
    • A blossoming Innovation Lab– Next we met with Roberto Masiero and Keith Fulton, the two drivers behind the Innovation Lab. If ADP customer like the new products, these are the gentlemen to send the fruit baskets to (they will share them with their teams). I was impressed that they found time and energy – despite the remarkable 9 month only ingestion time for the Innovation Center and new user interface – to come up with the next generation architecture. Being able to disrupt yourself while disrupting ADP is remarkable.
    • Compelling UIs are coming– Last but not least a sneak previews on the Talent Management UIs with Anna Carsen. They all look clean, easy to use and well thought through. And it should not be a surprise, as the team does robust usability and focus group testing. Good to see the progress. 


    MyPOV


    At Constellation we always have the customer in mind, and it looks like ADP is coming around and offering its customers (and prospects) a really compelling product vision and roadmap with early proof points coming this year. It makes sense for SAP to start with Paycheck and Enrollment related products, and most of the innovations will hit the masse of products in 2015 – which is going to be soon. Coupled with innovations around social, BigData and Analytics the future for ADP customers looks bright from a product direction.

    But getting there is hard and while ADP is migrating a lot of customers, adoption of new products being the area of attention. And it’s one thing to build a great (the current approach) product or a solid product (Vantage) and then get it adopted. The marginal adoption of the ADP Talent Management products may serve a warning. So ADP needs to get adoption of these new products right in its huge install base.

    Last but not least we heard before the event that ADP veteran Michael Capone is leaving the company, to pursue a long term calling in the healthcare (software) industry. The team under Capone is very strong and this analyst day certainly showed that – but there is realistically a (small) cloud on the ADP horizon. It’s now to Rodriguez to find the right leader of the product organization that is currently in flight – not a walk in the park, but with a strong team certainly doable. We will be watching closely.



    More on ADP

    • Site Visit - ADP's new innovation lab in Chelsea - read here
    • News Analysis - ADP announces Spin-Off plans for Dealer Services, sharpens ADP's focus on HCM - read here.
    • Event Report - ADP's Meeting of the Minds - ADP has made up its mind (almost) - customers not yet - read here.
    • First take - 3 Key Takeaways from ADP's Meeting of the Minds Conference Day 1 Keynote - read here.
    • ADP innovates with with verve and good timing – read here.


    And  more on the importance of the paycheck for HCM:

    • Could the paycheck re-invent HCM – yes it can – read here.
    • And suddenly, payroll matters again! Read here.

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    Time to try something new - tackling the highlights of the week in video - as they flew by me...

    [Bear through the initial bad audio, the magic of Google Hangouts makes it better soon.]

    So here are the events captured in the video:

    • SAP Cloud Deep Dive - my takeaways
    • Infor Inforum 14 - Day 1 Top 3 Keynote Takeaways ... read here
    • HANA Cloud Platform Revisited ... read here
    • Market Move - Cisco buys Metascale ... read here
    • Event Report - Infor Inforum 14 - Top 3 Takeaways
    • HP Helion Press Call with Saar Gillai and Marten Mickos
    • Progress Report - ADP shows great vision ... read here
    • Market Report - SAP acquires Concur... read here
    • Larry Ellison steps down as Oracle CEO - my takeaways
    • Friday Briefings with X-IO (Storage), Informatica DreamForce announcements preview, HyTrust (Security), CloudFactory (BPO) and Realm.io (Mobile DB)
    • Preview on next week - Workday Tech Summit and Wipro Analyst Day

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    I recently was asked at a conference if Onboarding was more part of Recruiting or Succession Management… which reminded me of this musings post that I wanted to blog since a long time…



    Lets look how the future of people management is going to change for enterprises - first gradually, then with accelerating speed:



    • Talent is short in supply - We know that the first world is suffering from a workforce qualification problem, enterprises need to prepare for that.
    • The silver tsunami is coming - Most developed countries also see an aging workforce as a key challenge on the road ahead.
    • Life / Work Balance matters - For the first time we are seeing people en masse deciding for a better Life / Work balance and opting for Life.
    • The shift to Projects - We are seeing a departure from lifelong employment, baked positions held for decades to a more flexible composition of teams that get work done.


    Certainly there are more trends, but let’s leave it at these four. What they ultimately mean for enterprises is, that people need to onboard and offboard much faster and much more often. Hence let’s not talk anymore about Onboarding and / or Offboarding - but Transboarding.


    Key features of Transboarding systems will be


    • Seamlessly onboard existing employees, potential hires and external contractors and freelancers.
    • Have a project approach to positions and a temporary view on project team composition.
    • Consider project position timelines and upcoming projects skill needs in Learning systems
    • Formalize project start and end charters.
    • Formalize position transfers in a transparent and scalable way.
    • Formalize project transitions in a transparent and scalable way.  


    Currently there are no vendors of Transboarding systems, and maybe my musings is a fluke.


    But Talent Management vendors have some of the necessary components like Recruiting, Onboarding and Learning, Project Management vendors have the functionality around project charters and timelines. Some HR core vendors have formalized position transfers and handovers.

    So the pieces are there - will we see Transboarding as a new functional HCM building block? Share your POV.

    More Musings

    • Musings - How technology innovation fuels Recruiting and disrupts the laggards - read here
    • Musings - What is the future of recruiting? Read here

    More on Recruiting
    • HRTech 2014 takeaways - Read here.
    • Why all the attention to recruiting? Read here.

    And  more on Payroll:

    • Could the paycheck re-invent HCM – yes it can – read here.
    • And suddenly, payroll matters again! Read here.

    Find more coverage on the Constellation Research website here.

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    We were invited to the yearly Workday Technology Summit in the beautiful Golden Gate Club in the San Francisco Presidio. More than 20 analysts and influencers spent a full day with Workday executives getting briefed on the latest and greatest of where Workday is today and where it plans to go. 


    Again another event where it was hard to pick the top 3 takeaways - but here is my attempt to it:

    • More Standards for Cloud Infrastructure - One of the key concerns we hear from end users, usually the technical side of any due diligence on Workday selections, are questions about the viability and scalability of the Workday technology stack. Everybody understands that at the time Workday started off, there were no ‘off the shelf’ options to build a modern cloud infrastructure, nor were there any public or private cloud vendors and technologies of record. But the concern today is how Workday can support and scale (more from a human than technical perspective) their in house developed technology. So it was great news already at Tech Summit in 2013 to see OpenStack being discussed, and 12 months later we learnt much more on the progress on the topic from David Clarke: Workday is actively working with OpenStack (Rackspace distribution) and plans to have 5 customers live in production on OpenStack by early 2015. In the meantime Workday is running development and test systems both on Amazon’s AWS and HP Cloud (Helion?). The ability to run development and test systems on standard IaaS vendor’s clouds like AWS and HP and the support of ‘approved’ cloud technologies like OpenStack will be a key confidence building point working for Workday with both CTOs and CIOs. Push comes to shove, Workday could technically - not that the vendor gave any indication this is a desired deployment scenario soon - deploy on a private cloud. But a good capability to have in your back pocket, given competitors like Oracle and Infor offering this option.

      On top of that Workday is doing all the important and good housekeeping duties for its cloud infrastructure, while customers are live and not disrupted. For instance Workday was able to change the complete storage sub system in the course of the last 12 months. Being able to do this ‘in flight’ is a major achievement for Workday.

      Lastly it is good to see that the team around Clarke is undertaking disaster preparedness sessions around disaster recovery on the management side and implementing AWS like availability zone model across their currently 4 data centers.
     
    Screenshot from Clarke's presentation

    • Payroll - Workday reconfirmed the 2015 (UK) and 2016 (France) delivery dates for its additions of payrolls to their existing US and Canadian ones. Beyond that scope the vendor is convinced it will be able to partner with local payroll vendors going forward. Workday has the capability for bi-directional payroll integration (the vendor has 15 global payroll partners supporting over 100 countries with this feature) and thinks that this provides its customers enough visibility in payroll matters. And finally Workday is undertaking scalability testing of its payroll, with good results. It will be interesting to see, if Workday will be able to stay the course of 4 payrolls and then a global partner payroll strategy in the years to come. 
     
    Korngiebel's SmartWatch Demo for T&E

    • User Interface - We got an in depth demo about the progress Workday has made on the UI side in the last 12 months. And indeed the team has done a lot of work, starting with a brand new Android native client, more adaptive design brought to more products and clients, new functionality like e.g. Job Change brought to the iPhone client, new PIN login, the W-Drive and more, all very good progress and housekeeping on the new UI Workday just rolled out earlier this year.

      On the innovation side Joe Korngiebel was the first UI design lead to show a smartwatch demo in an expense approval scenario. In general the Workday UIs look clean and easy to use, but in these fast paced times for UI innovation we think Workday will probably need a next generation facelift in the next 12 months to keep up with the latest we are seeing from Workday competitors. Moving to a flat design as Korngiebel announced will be a good first step. More is likely to come later this year. 

    TidBits

    • Finance & HR, better together– The day started with Betsy Bland and Leighanne Levensaler giving an update on where respectively Finance and HR stand. They both provided a number of integration benefits that customers and prospects should pay attention at. I am not sure if these synergies are strong enough yet to almost default the attach rate of Finance to HR installs, but it is good to see Workday working on suite level benefits. 

    • Learning - I asked Workday CEO Aneel Bhusri on the strategy in regards of Learning, the last functional piece missing for Workday to complete the Talent Management suite of products - and he confirmed that the approach - for now - is to partner.


    MyPOV

    Workday is solidly executing on its roadmap and delivering what it has promised to customers. Two key performance factors that are key for SaaS vendors who have to earn the trust from their customers’ day in and day out. It is also evident that the Workday technical teams can implement necessary housekeeping items and innovations while customers are operational, a key capability for any SaaS vendor.

    From the executive Q&A at the end of the day it was clear, that Workday’s Bhusri is focusing the vendor on promises made and getting the Finance product to the maturation Workday wants (and needs) it to get to. It seemed like that when that point is reached, Workday will revisit its agenda in regards of further functional roadmap items, vertical extensions, even potentially dabbling into PaaS (Bhusri said it would be with a lower case ‘P’).

    A lot of hoopla was made around the impression the analyst community had, that Workday now wants to be more than the system of record, but a system of engagement. Not sure where Workday will take this topic down the road - but certainly making HCM applications more engaging for its users is desirable. However, engaging enterprise software doesn’t make that software the system of engagement - so we will have to check back in on that topic, hopefully soon.

    For existing customers it is good to see, that Workday is making progress and is far from resting on its laurels as the category leader for cloud HCM. More cloud deployments options - though not available for customers right now - are a key confidence and investment security aspect for Workday.

    For prospects, Workday is and remains a key vendor to evaluate and likely to shortlist.



    ---------


    More on Workday
    • Workday 22 - Recruiting and rich Workday 22 are here - read here
    • First Take - Why Workday acquired Identified - (real) Analytics matter - read here
    • Workday Update 21 - All about the user experience and some more - read here
    • Workday Update 20 - Mostly a technology release - read here
    • Takeaways from the Salesforce.com and Workday parnership - read here
    • Workday powers on - adds more to its plate - read here
    • What I would like Workday to address this Rising - read here
    • Workday Update 19 - you need to slow down to hurry up - read here
    • I am worried about... Workday - read here
    Find more coverage on the Constellation Research website here.

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    I have been looking at the challenges that Apple has been facing with its iPhone since quite a while. And to go on record before that - the iPhone has transformed the smartphone industry, just this week Sony indicated it will quit making smartphones, Nokia is challenged in any aspect despite Microsoft as a backer and Blackberry, well let’s not even start there….
     


    So what are the key events of concern that prompted this post around the iPhone? Here are a few:
    • Antenna-gate - Remember how iPhone users were able to short circuit the antenna and weaken or even loose signal.
       
    • Hardware issues - Let’s take the recent ‘bending’ issues as latest exhibit. [Update 9/25/14 - Saw the email Apple sent to customers with iPhone6 orders - looks like Apple is doing extensive 'Sit tests'.]
       
    • Battery issues - Through many iOS upgrades users have experienced reduced battery time.
       
    • Design Flaws in iCloud - I personally experienced a few years ago what many iOS 8.0.1 users are experiencing now. My iPhone 4s became unstable – I could not even send text messages without the phone crashing (which for the non-Apple users is the sudden, reset to the home screen). After many installs and help from the geniuses at Apple stores on two continents it was clear -  iCloud does not separate code from user data, much to my surprise. So local backup, clean install on new iPhone, then get data back (pictures) was the solution then.
       
    • Software issues - Well everyone remembers the Apple Maps debut.
       
    • Security issues - Just google ….



    So with that as a background – here are my 5 questions for Apple’s product leaders:

    1. How does Apple decide on Go / No Go for a new iPhone?

      As with all engineering projects there must be certain Go / No Go dates for a new product. Kudos to CEO Tim Cook to go on record that the Apple Maps application was released to soon. The question is, what has Apple learnt since then and why does it have to ask users roll back an OS update now? It doesn't look like lessons were learned at the moment.

        
    2. How does Apple slot key capabilities?

      Operating systems get released in major chunks that uptake capabilities and then see smaller additions and many fixes over time. The insight from the iOS 8.0.1 pull back is that it contained the ‘on’ switch for the health features of iOS 8. Downgrading to iOS 8 disables them. The engineering question is – why were these broad and basic capabilities not part of iOS 8 – but part of the typical ‘fix’ release afterwards. How much testing of these can / could Apple have done with these key features only going live with 8.0.1.? Mixing fixes and core features (like the health features) is seldom a good idea.

       
    3. How does Apple do basic hardware testing?

      Given the past antenna issue and the bending, Apple should address this area. And while the antenna issue was more random (but should still have been caught before release) – any bending of the phone is an easier to catch potential flaw. 100s of millions of smartphone users sit down every day – phone in the trousers’ back pockets.

       
    4. When will Apple fix iCloud?

      As many iPhone users right now – and in the past (like me, see above) have experienced – the iCloud architecture of storing a user’s apps code and data together is fundamentally flawed. Violates one of the fundamental principles of software engineering. As when the code breaks, you don’t want to lose the data. That only a local backup helps you to roll back any software (not just an OS) upgrade is not 21st century and a huge hassle. Apple users pay decent money for iCloud – it should not only be secure (sic!) but also embody basic computing principles.

       
    5. How does Apple design, develop and test OS and Apple application code?

      It would be good if Apple could share how it designs, develops and then tests both operating system and applications releases. At some point Apple prided itself on how it empowered single developers with single features – not sure if that is still the predominant software development approach today. But that approach can be a recipe for disaster, no need to elaborate. And how does Apple potentially automate the testing? The fix to tie iOS 8.0.1. issues is supposed to come out anytime soon - but what precautions and automation of test coverage does Apple have to make sure no new unwelcome side effects come up?

     

    MyPOV

    Building software is hard. And you don’t get rewarded if you get 99.9% right – as customers expect 100% these days. That number will not come down but will only go up. But the series of events of Apple beg the question, how Apple does quality control and beyond (like Go / No Go decisions for new products or how it creates code). It’s also a marketing and communication challenge – if Apple e.g. would have shown that the iPhone6 bends – but it’s ok afterwards – it could have been a feature.

    A lot has been written about the consumerization of IT – but at this point it looks like Apple could potentially use some good traditional IT and enterprise software best practice advice, depending how it answers the above (and more) questions.

    [Disclaimer – I don’t cover Mobile, so my esteemed colleagues who cover the space may forgive the foray in their turf and potential inaccuracies – but the recent events with iPhone6 and iOS 8.x at Apple, would cause some serious conversations at a number of enterprise software vendors, if similar things happened there.
    And I finally I have written a blog post that all my family and friends are interested in reading and talking about – even my 8 year took note! But then – what’s wrong with the world that 8 year olds know about flawed Apple iOS releases???]



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    I wrote a long - covering all what Oracle does - post last year before Oracle’s OpenWorld conference - you can find it here. Re-reading it before writing this post I found it surprisingly accurate - even one year later… tempted to ‘copy & paste’ it - I will try to only look at this post from the vantage point of my research areas - Next Generation Applications and Future of Work.
     


    Here we go

    Database - Oracle will have to show traction for both 12c and the new in memory options. The announcements have been done, now it’s time to show what customers are doing, what interest partners are shown and drive the roadmap further.

    Cloud - We attended Oracle’s Cloud analyst briefing earlier this year (findings here) - it is now time to see what Oracle will unveil from the large NDA portion it presented at the event. Be ready for a lot of XaaS (everything as a Service) products. More importantly Thomas Kurian said back then that Oracle wants to compete with AWS and be price competitive - so it will be interesting to see what Oracle does in this area. And let’s not forget out of the more or less 19M developers out there - 11M are Java developers. Will be key for Oracle to show the way forward - maybe unveiling a PaaS.

    The key questions I will be asking are - what will Oracle be doing to enable developers to build modern, next generation applications, taking millions of database, middleware and Java developers by the hand into the cloud era.

    HCM - Last year we challenged Oracle in regards of traction in Fusion HCM - and they responded by hijacking my agenda with customer meetings. The result was our report here– showing more traction than we and most industry watchers expected. Now it will be key to see how Oracle has used the last 12 months to build on that. We will also be watching on what Oracle has done and plans to do in the Talent Management space, particularly on Recruiting, where Oracle is the 800 pound gorilla with Taleo, but has not innovated much. Given the retirement challenges in the workforce that even newly appointed co-CEO Mark Hurd tweets about - the Oracle story needs to be good.

    The key question I will be asking are - how will Oracle keep differentiating its HCM portfolio vis a vis the competition, innovate to keep it modern and how to develop and extend an attractive value proposition to HCM buyers out there.


    Ping me on twitter for more observations and question I should be paying attention for in the frenzy days of Oracle OpenWorld 2014. Oracle has only scheduled 38 events / meetings / briefings for me – so this will be ‘slow’ conference… Find out where I am and what I think by following me on Twitter - @holgermu


    ---------

    Also worth a look for the full picture
    • Is it all coming together for Oracle in 2014? Read here
    • From the fences - Oracle AR Meeting takeaways - read here (this was the last analyst meeting in spring 2013)
    • Takeaways from Oracle CloudWorld LA - read here (this was one of the first cloud world events overall, in January 2013)
    And if you want to read more of my findings on Oracle technology - I suggest:
    • Progress Report - Good cloud progress at Oracle and a two step program - read here.
    • Oracle integrates products to create its Foundation for Cloud Applications - read here.
    • Java grows up to the enterprise - read here.
    • 1st take - Oracle in memory option for its database - very organic - read here.
    • Oracle 12c makes the database elastic - read here.
    • How the cloud can make the unlikeliest bedfellows - read here.
    • Act I - Oracle and Microsoft partner for the cloud - read here.
    • Act II - The cloud changes everything - Oracle and Salesforce.com - read here.
    • Act III - The cloud changes everything - Oracle and Netsuite with a touch of Deloitte - read here
    Lastly - paying tribute to my Future of Work / HCM / SaaS research area:
    • Oracle pushes modern HR - there is more than technology - read here. (Takeaways from the recent HCMWorld conference).
    • Why Applications Unlimited is good a good strategy for Oracle customers and Oracle - read here.
    Find more coverage on the Constellation Research website here.

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    So here is my video recap of what I saw flying by in the week ending September 26th:

    Looks like my Parrot Zik lead to a better sound quality. Enjoy.
    [The piano in the background is our 8 year old practicing, apologies.]

    Here is what I am talking about in the recap:
    • My takeaways form the Workday Analyst Meeting (read here)
    • My musings about Transboarding (read here)
    • My take on the Wipro Analyst summit (my colleague's Guy Courtin post will be here)
    • The 5 questions I would like to ask Apple (read here)
    • Sage acquires Paychoice (press release here)
    • Puppet releases new server, apps and more (press release here)
    • What I would like Oracle to address this Oracle OpenWorld (read here
    I forgot (sorry) the some of the news coverage of the press colleagues who talked to me:
    • Workforce.com - Who wants a Million Dollars? HR Tech Firms Drawing that and some - read here
    • Java World - Oracle CEO Larry Ellison steps down as CEO ... - read here
    • Stocks.org - Is Oracle ready for new clients and new objectives - read here
    • Gigaom.com - As Oracle's OpenWorld approaches and deck chairs shuffle, has Oracle finally figured out the cloud? Read here.

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    We had the opportunity to attend the Oracle HCM analyst session that was held before the official start of Oracle OpenWorld in San Francisco. Together with almost two handful of analyst colleagues we got a great insight into where Oracle HCM is and what will be announced at OpenWorld.


    A lot of information – but here are my Top 3 takeaways

    • Oracle makes UI progress - We got a preview of the next generation user interface that Oracle is using first for Benefits and Performance Management. The new user interface uses more visual approaches to e.g. work through a performance review, using a lot of drag and drop. It looks clean and easy to use and with the graphical elements, I almost had a Sonar6 deja-vu. The new UI will certainly help more visual thinking managers, if it will make performance review fun – remains to be seen. But it’s good to see that Oracle keeps innovating on the UI front, while being aware of the transition customers need to go through when changing basic UI mechanics. 
     
    New Performance Management UI
    • Good Housekeeping on Unification - We spent a longer session on a theme Oracle calls ‘unification’ – what really means the effort to bring the different Oracle products – both in house developed and acquired - on a common platform, integration layer and user interface. Kudos to Oracle for both sharing accomplishments of this major undertaking and the next steps for this project.

      What became clear in the conversation was that Oracle is well underway and achieving unification of its Recruiting and Learning Cloud to the overall HCM Cloud. Customer Benefits include a common user interface, common data model, and the ability to leverage processes never before available in a common platform. For example, organizations will now be able to have a common competency framework across all processes, build succession plans with both external and internal talent, link learning opportunities to career plans, and have a holistic view of their workforce.

      What it means behind the scenes is: Oracle is retaining the over 12 years of intellectual capital acquired from Taleo, and instead of starting from “scratch” is leveraging this by unifying the product with the overall Oracle HCM Cloud.

      We are excited to see future traction in this endeavor during the next HCM World event early in 2015. This will be a highly welcomed step for customers so they can align their roll out plans and purchasing decisions.  
     
    The HCM Unification Roadmap 
    • PaaS comes to HCM - Oracle shared how it will bring the new Oracle PaaS (Platform as a Service) capabilities (more to be announced later at OpenWorld, probably by Larry Ellison in his keynote later on Sunday) - will help to change its Oracle HCM product. Already today Oracle HCM has a number of extension options - all the way to a single user level. Now Oracle brings its stand-alone PaaS offering to the HCM community. As a marketplace for HCM exists already, this will not only give customers a chance to find deeper ways of configuring and extending the Oracle HCM apps, but also partners to build complimentary offerings on the same platform. We will need to spend some more time at OpenWorld to understand these new PaaS capabilities and assess its opportunity for HCM. 
     
    Oracle's HCM + PaaS view with a capital 'P'

    Tidits


    • Customer traction - Oracle shared significant customer traction for Oracle HCM Cloud, for instance the number of HR Cloud core customers has doubled, as well as the number of live HR Cloud core customers. Kudos to Oracle to be frank that they had to scramble with customer references and session in 2013, this year Oracle was able to pick and choose the more interesting customers for 1 to 1 meetings and presentations. Looking forward to my scheduled meetings.
       
    • Vertical plans - Oracle shared its vertical capabilities and plans for Healthcare and Higher Education, and both are comprehensive. But we will have to dig a little deeper on how Oracle will move existing and expanding new functionality giving the new PaaS announcements. Always hard to build vertical functionality when the platform evolves.
       
    • Roadmap - Kudos to Oracle to share again their roadmap for current release +2 and further along roadmap - a key information for customers and partners to plan their Oracle HCM rollouts. 
     

    MyPOV

    A very helpful event, giving analysts insights before the main Oracle OpenWorld event – remarkably without any NDA flags. Oracle is making good progress on its vast HCM automation portfolio – it is good to see that there is more customer uptake in 2014, but much more of that has to come. Likewise Oracle has improved its partner enablement and fine-tuned some of the deliverables in this area. Enhancements in UI and good housekeeping are always welcome and a good sign for customers and prospects. It is also key to see that Oracle is looking into building new and more recruiting capabilities that are key for enterprises in the next 5-10 years, especially given the retirement scenarios in much of the first world. 

    Bringing the overall Oracle PaaS to allow work with business applications like HCM is a very powerful concept, but many things could go wrong here - from being to complex to use, slippage into upgrade intrusive customizations, performance issues and more. All issues Oracle is aware of so we need to see how the PaaS for HCM direction will materialize in the next quarters. 

    Our concerns remain around Oracle getting the go to market right and getting enough mind share to grow significantly enough vis-a-vis its key competitors SAP and Workday. Oracle is getting better at breaking out numbers for its different cloud platform, a sign that the vendor is having traction – but customers should always make sure they clearly understand which platform Oracle talks about.

    0 0

    5 Days of Oracle OpenWorld are over and it is time to look at the takeaways. Given the length of the conference, the number of briefings (Oracle had 38 meetings scheduled for me) and the number of announcements, I will change the Event Report format to my overall top 3 positives and share my top 3 concerns, starting with the technology side (next generation applications) and then hopefully in a few days for the HCM side (Future of Work), as I have already blogged my progress report on the HCM analyst meeting from last Sunday (read here).


    Oracle’s vision - It became once more clear what Oracle’s vision is - an integrated technology stack engineered by Oracle, from storage beyond SaaS all the way to value added services like DaaS (if not familiar that's Data as a Service). Operated by Oracle for the customer - or if the customer wants to, operated by them on premises. Even though Oracle is now ‘all in’ on the cloud message - it was last year that Larry Ellison admitted he gave up and would now use the ‘buzzword’ - the company strictly supports the dual deployment capabilities. Interesting enough the deployments options are important for customers, in one of the Q&As Thomas Kurian shared that there were over 20 customer that have gone full circle - moving cloud to on premises and back or vice versa. It is also clear that Oracle sees cost competitiveness on the IaaS layer as critical, as various executives said that Oracle will match Amazon AWS or Google Cloud platform prices, whoever is cheaper. It is clear that Oracle tries to commoditize the IaaS tier as much as possible, making up for revenue and profitability on the PaaS and SaaS side. Certainly an attractive strategy for Oracle.

     
    Computing Eras (from Mendelsohn's presentation)
    12c comes along - It is over 2 years now that Oracle has announced 12c. We talked to some customers and they attest it is working and they are seeing benefits. If these TCO benefits were similar or in the range of what Oracle talked about at OpenWorld 2012 remains to be seen. The real scale test for 12c is anyway Oracle’s usage for DBaaS and moving its SaaS apps to it. Andy Mendelsohn multiple times mentioned that Oracle will be moving the Taleo Talent Management products to 12c first - which should make an interesting showcase. But 12c had to be ready also to enable Larry Ellison’s ‘2 click keynote’ of moving both a database and an applications from on premises to the cloud. And it looks like that works - even though Ellison joked ‘it could break anytime as it is live software’. But it was more than the 2 clicks announced in Ellison’s Sunday keynote - nonetheless Oracle has created a huge value proposition for customers - to move on premise applications to the (Oracle) cloud. For customers tired of maintaining their older apps (and paying their DBAs) - there is now (or soon) a viable alternative to run these apps. Ellison was (rightfully) proud that Oracle lived up to its commitment to move customers along, as the company has through all recent technology changes.
     
    Oracle's in memory approach (from Mendelsohn's presentation)
    The in memory features of 12c seem to be working well, too. Mendelsohn gave a few database 101 lectures on the pros and cons of row vs column storage and how Oracle enables both - on disk and in memory flavor - at the discretion of the customer. And Oracle was not tired to point out that to take advantage of in memory applications did not have to be re-written (positioning vs SAP HANA) and could write to memory, too (positioning vs Microsoft SQL server in memory option). Surprisingly there were few customer success stories and use cases - but they may not have been surfaced to me. But in general an indication that Oracle customers are conservative to move to new database releases - I heard a number of customers saying that the never move to R1 - but wait for R2. 12cR2 is coming soon so it will be time to check in on the uptake of both in memory and pluggable databases / multi-tenancy. But even if customers may be slow to uptake these features, they are core to power Oracle’s ‘as a Service’ business. So one way or the other the 12c features will get a lot of usage soon.
     
    Database (not Application!) Multitenancy (from Mendelsohn's presentation)
    The platform - If you attended and read about OpenWorld and did not hear about platform as a service (PaaS) message something has gone badly missing. In keynotes and sessions Oracle speakers would not get tired of stressing how Oracle is shipping a PaaS - but also uses and makes the same available for customers to do work on higher in the stack products, like SaaS and DaaS. The demos Ellison showed in his 2nd keynote like e.g. creating an employee of the month application for Fusion HCM showed that in action (though much was prepared beforehand). The work horse in the platform is Fusion Middleware, less with its traditional middleware features around SOA and ESB, but more on its composition, mobile and integration capabilities. And there is some merit to the argument, in the past Oracle Applications would certainly use the Oracle Database - but the uptake of Oracle tools and later Fusion Middleware were another story. The challenge was Oracle Applications was always only one customer of the technology stack - an important one certainly - but Oracle platform products usually had to run on faster cycles than the applications could. Enters the SaaS world with multiple releases per year and all of a sudden release - and with that uptake cycles between enabling platform technology and applications consuming those can be synched. It remains a heck of a prioritization effort – balancing the Oracle internal Applications requirements vs best of breed market requirements – but Oracle is deep pocketed enough to fund probably most of both. The vision is certainly remarkable and it’s good to see that e.g. where we have the insight – with Oracle’s cloud HCM products – the work has already begun to uptake, expose, elevate to the Oracle PaaS platform.
     
    Oracle PaaS Portfolio (from Kurian's presentation)
    Engineered Top Down?– My impression of the Oracle endeavor has been that it is heavily top down oriented, starting with the Applications. Quick reminder – Fusion started around 2004. So Oracle has been working on SaaS applications much longer than e.g. PaaS / DBaaS / DaaS or IaaS. All the former are lower level components of the tech stack. In the ideal world engineers want to start bottom up normally. When I asked Thomas Kurian about this, his view was that the SaaS applications have been built on these services all the time, citing Java as the example. And that is certainly a valid point – but it would be phenomenal if Oracle would not have to do some kind of re-work to make its SaaS applications run on all the just into live coming technology and platform products.

    Oracle SaaS Portfolio (from Kurian's presentation)

    Massive Task – The creation of the next Oracle technology effort is a massive effort with a five digit number of engineers working on it. To make sure all these project run well together and synch up on time is a massive task. When I asked Kurian was fair enough to say the latest (and probably newest) effort – IaaS – is what is giving him the most gray hair. So customer need to watch for product maturity and keep an eye on quality, not that they would not anyway – but a more complex (and powerful) technology stack needs appropriate attention. To put it into perspective – only the combined R&D efforts of IBM are in similar scale – and IBM does not claim (and does not need to) for all of it to work together. Oracle has accepted a much tighter locking of its tech stack components. That is more work and risk to create – but has benefits on the upside for customers when it all works together. 15 or so years ago Oracle had a similar vision - the database and the combination of Forms and Reports would run its Applications. Well that never took off back then (separate blog post sometime) - and it's a different age. Both capabilities and challenges are a magnitude 2 2 larger than back then. So Oracle needs to get it done.
     
    Oracle Cloud Scale as of June 2014 (from Kurian's presentation)

    Adoption – When even a vendor builds something new – it not only needs to get it done technically with the right quality – but also get adoption in the customer base. And that happens through sales people and partners. It was good to see that Oracle has acknowledged that its salesforce was one of the first sceptics initially, but now the vendor has put in the incentives to get the new products sold. At the same time Oracle is looking at partner enablement, not only on the services side, but also on the product side. Kurian shared that Oracle has already had conversation with over 60 ISVs. Nonetheless Oracle needs to look at this area and produce the numbers in customers and revenue dollars. When I asked Mark Hurd on this he shared that Oracle doubled the applications sales force and will be on top of the challenge. Glad to hear it’s realized – but it needs to be tackled and addressed.

    MyPOV

    For the longest time I have been critical of how Oracle may be able to match the prices of Amazon and / or Google. But a back of a napkin calculation showed me how: If Oracle can only convert 20% of existing load that it run on premise with DB and Java in the next 5 years – then it is larger than AWS and / or Google, easily. And with that comes purchasing and bargaining power with the suppliers Oracle needs to deal with in its cloud roll out. And we all know cloud is s scale game.

    The next area to watch is how well integrated vs. consumable the Oracle stack will be at the end of this exercise. There will be customers who will want to consume it all – and then there will be customers who only want pieces of that technology stack – lock in fear and other reasons will apply. Oracle uses standards – as far as available and applicable at these intersection – but if this will allow Oracle to capture both sides of the business, remains to be seen.

    Overall things are coming together for Oracle in 2014 – which was by OpenWorld 2013 blog post header (see here) – a number of announced products are being made available in the next few weeks, more in winter, then spring and summer 2015. OpenWorld 2015 will have in place all that Oracle announced at this OpenWorld – in the meantime there needs to be a lot of precision flying – for customers, partners and Oracle. Mistakes will be costly on either side. Stay tuned.

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