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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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    VMware seems to have made February the month of the cloud and is promising 28 days of Cloud Insight (see more here). VMware execs must be pretty confident that they have enough material – as they did not even include the recently (well last week) announced partnership with Google (more here).
     


    So let’s dissect the press release from February 2nd 2015  that kicked off a webinar series lead by VMware CEO Pat Gelsinger and CTO Ben Fathi.

    SAN FRANCISCO, CA--(Marketwired - February 02, 2015) - VMware, Inc. (NYSE: VMW) today announced VMware vSphere® 6, the newest edition of the industry-defining virtualization solution for the hybrid cloud and foundation for the software-defined data center. With more than 650 new features and innovations, VMware vSphere 6 will provide customers with a highly available, resilient, on-demand cloud infrastructure to run, protect and manage any application. VMware vSphere 6 will be complemented by the newest releases of VMware vCloud® Suite 6, VMware vSphere with Operations Management™ 6, and VMware Virtual SAN™ 6.

    MyPOV – Basically VMware is following through on the announcements made at VMWorld in summer of 2014 (my takeaways here) – and delivering the ‘6’ product family in Q1 2015 as announced back then. 

    [VMware points out correctly these products were not announced back at VMworld - but general features and capabilities not slotted to a specific release. They now ship as part of the '6' product family.]

    VMware today also re-enforced its support of open frameworks for building and managing clouds with its new VMware Integrated OpenStack distribution. This first-ever OpenStack distribution from VMware will empower IT to provide developers with open API access to enterprise-class VMware infrastructure. Additionally, VMware revealed a technology preview that will enable customers to bridge the public and private cloud through the combination of VMware NSX™ network virtualization and VMware vCloud® Air™, VMware's public cloud service, to enable a single, secure network domain.


    MyPOV – True to the announcements VMware is also delivering OpenStack capabilities, who are badly demanded by their customers. The concern is that in this case, with its own distribution, VMware may do (or hopefully not) the one or other things to break OpenStack or make it only work with its products (of course I speculate here). But customers may be ready to accept that for the pure benefit to run more of VMware with OpenStack tools. We still need to understand the timeline of the ‘technology preview’ mentioned above.

    "As our customers accelerate growth, their IT organizations are expected to drive transformation, enhance efficiency and bring more value to the business than ever before," said Ben Fathi, chief technology officer, VMware, Inc. "We are helping them achieve these goals through continued innovation in VMware vSphere as the platform for their hybrid cloud strategy. VMware vSphere is the gold standard by which all other virtualization technologies are measured, and vSphere 6 raises the bar even higher."
     

    MyPOV – Fair ambition for VMware, but it is time to be able to understand local data center load and move it to the cloud. VSphere still does (too) little for that. We may to wait for (hopefully) later in the month VCloud Air announcements.

    In other news today, VMware announced the industry's first unified platform of virtualized compute, networking and storage for the hybrid cloud (read the news announcement), as well as new innovations for software-defined storage including VMware Virtual SAN 6 and vSphere Virtual Volumes™ (read the news announcement).

    MyPOV – Key announcements for VMware customers, who should check them out if they have upcoming storage products.


     
    VMware products announced February 2nd 2015
    (from Webcast)

    VMware vSphere 6 - The Foundation for Hybrid Cloud

    Unveiled today, VMware vSphere 6 will deliver breakthrough new capabilities to address the unique needs of business-critical and cloud-native applications, and drive higher performance, scale and consolidation ratios. VMware vSphere 6 will also re-define infrastructure and application service-levels and availability. New capabilities and features include:

    Broad Application Support - VMware vSphere 6 will address the specific challenges of cloud-native applications, including agile development cycles and multiple application instances. With VMware vSphere 6, organizations will be able to manage thousands of component instances of a single cloud-native application. New scale, performance and availability capabilities also make vSphere 6 the platform of choice for virtualizing scale-up applications such as SAP HANA, scale-out workloads such as Hadoop, and business-critical applications such as Microsoft SQL Server, Oracle Database, and SAP ERP.


    >> MyPOV – Working well with a number if ISVs has always been VMware’s strength. That VMware can keep these relationships going in the cloud age will be a key development to keep an eye on – as most of the current partners have made commitments to their own cloud infrastructures. At some point e.g. SAP customers will think SAP will run better on the SAP cloud, Oracle products will run better in the Oracle cloud etc. – even if de-facto not a true development.

    New Long-Distance Live Migration Capabilities - VMware vSphere 6 introduces Long-Distance motion®, which will enable zero downtime live migration of workloads over long distances such as New York to London. With multi-processor fault tolerance, another industry first, customers will benefit from continuous availability for larger virtual machines up to four virtual-CPUs.

    MyPOV – This is a key (and long overdue) feature for VMware. Probably the best received and equally badly needed feature at VMWorld 2014 in San Francisco. With the long distance capability VMware takes away a lot of overhead and headache for its customers. A very good move in my view, now VMware needs to make sure the pricing is so attractive that customers will shelve the workarounds they have in place for this today.

    Instant Clone Technology - Introduced as Project Fargo, a technology preview at VMworld® 2014 San Francisco, VMware's Instant Clone technology will make it possible to rapidly clone and provision thousands of container instances and virtual machines to make new virtual infrastructure available in sub-second timeframes.

    MyPOV – A key feature added by VMware which keeps VMware relevant as infrastructure player even for more advanced organizations that run, build and have to maintain next generation applications that heavily rely on container infrastructures.

    3D Graphics for Desktop Virtualization - VMware vSphere 6 will enable enterprises to deliver high-end workstation and graphics-intensive applications to virtual desktops such as VMware Horizon® 6 for industries such as engineering, automotive, education and architecture. Using NVIDIA GRID vGPU technology, immersive 3D graphics can be delivered from the cloud enabling greater density, scalable performance and increased cost-savings. Read the NVIDIA and VMware joint announcement.

    MyPOV – It’s good to see the VMware efforts from its traditional portfolio and the EUC portfolio coming together. It will also make it real for VMware run EUC on VMware – which is always a great showcase for vendors.

    Enterprise-Class Hypervisor-Converged Storage - VMware's flagship will provide enterprise-class scale, performance and new data services making it the ideal storage platform for virtual machines including business-critical applications. Read more about VMware Virtual SAN 6.
     

    MyPOV – Good progress by VMware, storage is inherently non elastic, but bringing software defined storage to VSphere is a key capability to reduce maintenance and operational overhead.

    Virtual Machine-Awareness for Third-Party Storage - VMware vSphere Virtual Volumes is the industry's first solution that will enable native virtual machine awareness on a wide range of third-party storage systems, extending VMware's software-defined storage control plane to the ecosystem. Read more about VMware vSphere Virtual Volumes.

    MyPOV – Depending how it pans out this could be the most important storage announcement today – as it would allow customers of VMware to control 3rd party storage products. If this is in the interest of these vendors remains to be seen, but kudos for VMware to try brining these together.

    Customers can optimize the performance, capacity and configuration health of VMware vSphere 6 with the newly introduced VMware vSphere with Operations Management 6. An integrated platform and management solution, VMware vSphere with Operations Management 6 simplifies infrastructure management with predictive analytics as well as automated recommendation and remediation capabilities. The solution delivers value from day one by helping customers proactively identify and remediate emerging performance and configuration issues and to reclaim any overprovisioned virtual machines along with associated compute, memory and storage resources.

    MyPOV – Always good to see the operations / admin console ship with the new feature and not later. Speaks for solid engineering, quality assurance and realistic product delivery timelines.

    Also announced today, VMware vCloud Suite 6 will integrate VMware vSphere 6 with the latest releases of its cloud management solutions -- VMware vRealize™ Automation 6.2 and VMware vRealize Operations 6 -- to deliver a private cloud based on a software-defined data center architecture. The latest release will also introduce showback/chargeback and budgeting capabilities via the addition of VMware vRealize Business 6 Standard to further empower infrastructure and operations teams to manage private clouds.

    MyPOV – Key capabilities for hybrid cloud and long demanded / expected by VMware customers.

    VMware Integrated OpenStack - A Simpler Path to OpenStack

    VMware Integrated OpenStack is an OpenStack distribution that will enable organizations to quickly and cost-effectively provide developers with open, cloud-style APIs to access VMware's enterprise-class infrastructure. VMware will package, test and support all components of the distribution, including the open source OpenStack code.


    MyPOV – So VMware decides to have its own OpenStack distribution, nothing to be too much afraid of. See my above concerns (and speculation) of VMware being the first to break OpenStack interoperability standards – but VMware will not be the only provider tempted to break the interoperability promise for the sake of better uptake of existing features and capabilities.

    With VMware Integrated OpenStack, even IT shops with little or no OpenStack or Linux experience can be up and running with an OpenStack cloud in minutes. The solution will provide full integration with VMware's cloud management platform, enabling customers to leverage existing VMware expertise to manage and troubleshoot an OpenStack cloud.
     

    MyPOV – And here we go – let’s help the SMBs first. As long as decision makers at these SMBs know what they are doing and make decisions with open eyes – good for them.

    VMware is also announcing set of new professional services that will provide customers ready access to software development best practices to help implement OpenStack and DevOps projects successfully. VMware added a wealth of experience in designing, implementing and auto-deploying any size OpenStack cloud through its acquisition of MomentumSI, which closed in Q4 2014. Read more about what MomentumSI brought to VMware.

    MyPOV – Good to see VMware ramping up the services needed.



    Implications, Implications

    Implications for VMware customers

    Good news for VMware customers, always good to see a vendor deliver. The remote instance creation capabilities can become a real option for HA strategies. The container performance should encourage customers with next generation application projects to take note and potentially evaluate the new capabilities. Overall customers need to weigh benefits vs license and implementation costs of the new VMware products.

    Implications for VMware partners

    Equally good news when the main ecosystem anchor delivers. While some longer term opportunities may vanish (e.g. around HA) others may arise (e.g. OpenStack). Partners need to revisit their service and product portfolio in the light of thee substantial product announcements and chart their value adding strategy for the next years, potentially from anew.

    Implications for VMware competitors

    It is clear that VMware is making true on its general features and capabilities partially previewed at VMworld 2014. If a competitor was counting on VMware not delivering, it is bad news for them now. The next months will have to show what impact the new products will have on the market and competitors need to chart their product and marketing strategies accordingly to achieve differentiation.


    Overall MyPOV

    Always good for a vendor to make true for their announcements. Many of the new capabilities VMware announced and now delivered are not ‘low hanging fruit’ – so congrats to the VMware R&D teams to bring it here. Now it’s back to customers to evaluate the benefit / cost relationship of the new VMware products, where some areas look favorable, others look more difficult. Customers should be aware of alternatives and weigh their options accordingly. On the flipside VMware offers one integrated data center platform that is engineered and tested together – so when VMware delivers on that with good quality – it is a very valuable platform for customers.

    The main act for VMware – around vCloud Air – is still to come. It will be key to understand VMware’s progress and status on that crucial product before making ultimate decisions around VMware product adoption and rollout.


    ----------
    More on VMWare by me
    • Speed Briefings at VMworld - read here
    • Event Report - VMware makes a lot of progress - but the holy grail is still missing - read here.
    • First Take - VMware's VMworld Day 1 Keynote - Top 3 Takeaways - read here.
    • Progress Report - Good start for VMware EUC - time for 2nd inning - read here.
    • Speed Briefings at VMworld - inside and outside the VMware ecosystem - read here.
    • VMware defies conventional destiny - SDDC to the rescue - read here.
    Find more coverage on the Constellation Research website here.

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    On February 3rd SAP announced what the vendor called its biggest product announcement since the launch of the venerable R/3 system back in 1992. It is always a pleasure to witness a product launch, with all the hard work, thought and preparations that has gone into it – and the S/4HANA launch was certainly no exception.
     


    But before blogging about my Top 3 takeaways on S/4HANA – let’s put things into perspective:Back in 1992 R/3 was a ‘gimmick’ in the eyes of most industry observers. It was Plattner’s project to run SAP enterprise software on a relational RDBMS in ‘client server’ mode. It was positioned to target the large German economic sector of 'Mittelstand' businesses that could not afford the mainframe based flagship R/2. In hindsight it worked out all well for SAP – Moore’s Law made R/3 feasible and so affordable that large enterprises used R/3 more than the SMBs thus replacing R/2 much faster than expected.


    And Plattner gets kudos for foresight – choosing Oracle was a winner on the RDBMS vendor side (not that clear in the early 90ies) and SAP was years ahead of the competition in North America, anyone remembers D&B as a software vendor, or AMS & co.? And SAP’s desire to automate every corner of the enterprise was exactly what enterprises thought they needed based on Prof. Hammer’s process business re-engineering theory. One common system to lay out new processes and best practices for as much as the enterprise as possible. That helped SAP to a leadership position in enterprise software that the vendor has never relinquished. A lot of hard work has happened to get SAP there and keep SAP there - but the key inflection point was the choice of a forward looking, some said even futuristic architecture with 'client servier' (it is quoted for reasons I may put out in another post, the loyal veteran reader knows about it already).
     
    R/3 CDs back then (from SAP website here)

    Fast forward to 2015 and the launch of S/4HANA is different for a number of reasons:

    • Sideshow vs Main Act - While R/3 was a 2nd product to the main product R/2 – S/4HANA is SAP’s go to product that needs to evolve fast and carry revenue load quickly.
       
    • Leading vs Following - While SAP was ahead with ‘client / server’ architecture it is no longer ahead in terms of re-writing its applications for the 21st century. SAP has certainly innovated first with in memory / HANA – but it has been busy for the longest to build HANA and then make its existing applications work with HANA – and not write its next generation applications. Oracle is 10 years into Fusion (one could argue even maybe too long), Infor announced rebuilding of Finance and HCM last year etc.
       
    • Partner vs Own Database - SAP stayed away from the database and partnered successfully with all hardware vendors. Its partner’s strategy for database, hardware and implementation was definitively a success ingredient. Today S/4HANA will only run on HANA – no surprise – but a big difference with ecosystem implications.
       
    • Proprietary Era vs Open Source Era - Open Source was nothing even thinkable or serious in the early 90ies. Today even the largest tech vendors (think e.g. IBM) need to embrace open source and use it in their next generation products. Building an architecture somewhere in a remote R&D location and coming out with a big surprise like SAP did with R/3 – can't happen anymore.
       
    • Client Server vs In-Memory Columnar Architecture - We are at the beginning of the BigData era – it is not guaranteed than in-memory columnar architectures will dominate the future of enterprise software as close as the relational database has in the past.
       
    • TCO Leader vs High End Market Position - Most importantly R/3 was positioned as a TCO leader for enterprise software – cheaper and more affordable than the mainframe based solutions of the time. HANA and now S/4HANA had and have to justify investment as in memory based architecture, which is not intuitively a leading TCO option (in case you wonder why e.g. the talk about compression never ends. 

     
    A visibly proud Plattner presenting

    With that in mind – here are my top 3 takeaways from what we understand S/4HANA is today:

    • The Good - A Fresh Start– For the first time SAP executives have openly stated that they are building a new product, on a new code line, with new unique capabilities and a new (not discussed and likely not set yet) price / license point. SAP has been a victim of the success of the R/3 architecture, that the vendor was able to salvage across the more recent architecture turmoil of internet and cloud architectures. Being able to keep running R/3 and R/3 related assets for such a long time is an accomplishment, but also forces the vendor now – 20+ years later – into a re-write. Most vendors did not have that much time to run on the same platform, they had to innovate (and potentially fail) earlier.

      But SAP is not starting with Line 1- but re-using assets from the R/3 world. E.g. the Document system that was one of the key success designs for R/3 finds itself again in S/4HANA. EmployeeCentral will become the core of HCM at some undisclosed point in the future, when HCM will show up on the S/4HANA roadmap. And while there is certainly nothing wrong with re-using proven assets and re-implement them on a now platform, SAP will have to be careful to not go too far, especially when falling under time pressure to complete S/4HANA (anyone remember the R/3 ‘death marches’ to bring R/3 to functional parity with R/2 – something never intended originally).

      But a fresh start was (badly) needed and good for SAP to now talk about it publicly. It looks like the start for S/4HANA was about two years ago when work for Simple Finance started in earnest. 
    The three S/4HANA Design Principles

    • The Challenge - Best Practice Concerns - We live in exciting times. For the first time technology is capable and affordable to do more than what business best practice demands. We are moving fast to the barrier of what humans can comprehend what technology can even do for us. The underlying IT paradigm has switched forever from constrained systems that were ‘sized’ to their specific purpose to a new paradigm: In the new (theoretically) infinite scalable technology reality, completely different business best practices are emerging. Vendors like SAP need to be careful not to step into the trap of rebuilding what worked in the 20th century – only better / faster – and need to switch from following business practice to a position where they create and lead with best practices. A monumental challenge for the years to come.

      The good news is that the technology is there, the bad news is that it is hard to break old habits and keep asking the business users for best practices. They don’t know them in most places (yet). SAP will have to pay attention to this dilemma. As a former engineer I can only imagine the drawers full of product plans that were not possible then – but are now possible – though only automate the 20th century world that operated on the constrained IT paradigm. A risk not to underestimate.
     
    S/4HANA Design Points and Differentiators
    • The Concern - In Memory And In Memory Only - My biggest concern remains that SAP locks itself out of the transformation of the BigData era with an over reliance on HANA being RAM based. Yes we know all the DLM / Smart Data Access / data tiering mechanism tools SAP has to mitigate them – but all vendors (remember e.g. Teradata?) that preached a co-existence strategy with BigData had to fold that approach. Even the remote query option vendors (thing e.g. Oracle) are creating a risk to limit vital insights. The classic insight example from the datamining era that diapers and beer should be in shelves next to each other after 5 PM will not get found easily or at all when the e.g. the beer data in in memory and the diaper data in Hadoop.

      When today's enterprises face the choice between an in memory platform that has to shuffle data between the in memory side and data in Hadoop clusters for insights – vs a SSD based Hadoop only project – they all pick the latter. Even enterprises that want and will use in memory databases still pursue the Hadoop on SSD path as they know they can decide later to ‘dump’ their ERP data in the Hadoop clusters anyway. Not a challenge from a pipe and storage perspective – even a lower cardinality problem for most BigData projects. The longer SAP ignores this situation, the more it risks to build a very good in memory solution, but risks to ultimately not win the enterprise software wars (again). 
     
    S/4HANA Demo - Water Management in LA on an iPad


      Implications, Implications

      Implications for SAP customers

      S/4HANA is good news for SAP customers, as it (finally) makes a new start official. Deep down customer knew SAP needed to re-invent – or to borrow form the launch slides re-imagine itself again – at some point. The attentive SAP customers will of course have heard that S/4HANA is a new product and as such SAP will try to make it a new license revenue opportunity. SAP customers should look at contracts and prepare for the ‘return of maintenance’ conversation with their account manager. Customers will also note that with S/4HANA SAP gave up database independence, but that was a writing on the wall for quite some time.
        

      Implications for SAP partners

      New products always mean business for partners, as the ecosystem needs them to be successful on the new products. The only partner category that will not be happy are going to be the system integrators – already struggling with the shrinking implementation budgets caused by SaaS. But that is the course of things and SAP does right enabling customer and ideally business user to perform self-service setup of the S/4HANA applications.

      Implications for SAP competitors

      We are off to the races – and in the meantime competitors can’t make fun of SAP running old, last century code on even older best practices anymore. It is intriguing that what used to be a 5 year gap between SAP and Oracle is now more of a 10 year gap. Infor as vendor #3 somewhere in the middle. Assuming all vendors will succeed it sets a very interesting takt for the enterprise software market.

      MyPOV

      An important day for enterprise software. Good to see SAP innovating back at the core of its competencies, enterprise software, and making the effort official with S/4HANA. As with all product launches many questions remain and will have to be addressed in due course (Scope, Milestones, Pricing etc.). I mentioned the risks that are common for all vendors in finding the 21st century business best practices. The in memory aspect of S/4HANA however is a unique risk for SAP. But so was a bet on R/3 at the time. And who knows – with staunchly supporting in memory as the delivery platform for SAP – Plattner may be right one more time. Only the future can and will tell.

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


      And more on overall SAP strategy and products:

      • First Take - SAP's IoT strategy becomes clearer - read here
      • SAP appoints a CTO - some musings - read here
      • Event Report - SAP's SAPtd - (Finally) more talk on PaaS, good progress and aligning with IBM and Oracle - read here
      • News Analysis - SAP and IBM partner for cloud success - good news - read here
      • Market Move - SAP strikes again - this time it is Concur and the spend into spend management - read here
      • 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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      As an analyst you attend a lot of events every year, user conferences and analyst briefings being the most prominent event types. So looking at the year in review – let me comment on some Dos and Don’ts and as well offer some suggestions for 2015.


      But before that – my disclaimer: I know organizing these events is a lot of work. User conferences are the highlight of the year for many marketing departments, and a huge chunk of budget is spend on these. Careful considerations on agenda, speakers, location, and appreciation event need to be balanced with budgets. Not an easy task and as analysts we all appreciate to be invited to these events – this post is in the spirit to make these events (even) better.

      So let’s start with some general suggestions:

      Analyst schedules are almost always busy. We often don’t know from when and where we are flying in to the event until the last minute. Especially March to May and September till November are ‘crazy’ months when regular work (advisories, consulting, speaking etc.) collide with the conference schedule. So the earlier you can get your event schedule shared, the better, including the days and times for the analyst track. Then vendors should understand that analysts often don’t know till a few weeks before the event from where they will be flying to and back from.

      Monday starts are popular for conferences, which mostly means Sunday travel to get there. It may seem little to vendors as this happens a few times a year, for analyst it means a few dozen times in the year (32 times for me in 2014). So travelling to the conference on Mondays will not only be appreciated by analysts – but also customers, who often attend more events than most of the vendor personnel.

      For better coverage, it helps if you can share – under NDA as needed – the key announcements for the event beforehand. Some vendors do a very good job to brief analysts ahead of the event on key announcements and events, e.g. IBM and Informatica stuck out in 2014. You certainly get more coverage and a more attentive analyst crowd if you brief us ahead of time.

      Analysts need the conference content to blog, report and advise shared customers and prospects about it. Ideally vendors would share that before – under NDA is fine – or as real time as possible. In 2014 one vendor shared documents of the conference 20 days later… needless to say the trains had left the station. And I would not play the silly game of giving feedback and in return getting the materials. Personally I am happy to play it as long as reasonable, but first priority for an analyst is to understand, tweet, blog, report on the event – not to provide feedback on it.

      Events are exhausting, for all participants. But the follow up in the next 3-5 days with the analyst community is crucial, the faster questions can be answered, the better. Bringing the executives together at the end of the analyst track is a great best practice, e.g. done so by e.g. Amazon, Ceridian, IBM and Kronos in 2014. Providing high quality pictures of keynotes and slides is ensuring a vendor’s content looks great in blogs and reports. Otherwise it will be missed completely on the visual side or the best effort of an analyst taking his best picture…

      Next – how do you seat analyst and press in keynotes… Tables and multiple power plugs are a must. Even though you get a first row seat but you need to balance smartphones (for tweets with pictures) and a notebook on your lap with two colleagues sitting next to you and trying to do the same – it definitively does not make our life easy. And is certainly detrimental to coverage. So it does not have to be the personal LazyBoy (as some of us were joking in fall) – but a decent table, power outlets and an ok chair will go a long way. And bio breaks are needed, too – so don’t do 4 hour keynote sessions as one vendor did in 2014.

      And lastly – always a challenge – if you want the analysts to cover live / tweet from the keynotes - make sure that they have a working Wifi network. I realize that is a huge challenge, but with more regular attendees being active on social media – it is better to err on the side of spending more for Wifi than less. Providing a separate media / press / analyst network is a good practice, though I don’t like the two class society… a tweet is a tweet from anyone attending and using your conference hashtag. And the work around with wired connections is certainly a good one, but let us know ahead of time as not all of us carry the needed network adapter cables most of our devices require these days…. Lastly columns in the line of sight don’t help attention and visual coverage either.

      On the subject of covering the event, in case you stream it – make it even easier to do so. I am waiting for streaming clients to have the respective social media buttons to share the slide / picture that is currently streamed right away to the social network. If a vendor wants more social coverage of the event, that is the biggest trick in the trade for 2015.

      And then comes the bigger picture. We understand that vendors don’t want to share / cannot share information early some times. But give us a hint that major things are happening. Last year we had the case that a vendor announced very major new products – when all analysts were either already in the air or at the airport. Not only do vendors miss on the coverage, the previously written takeaways are obsolete or need a massive change. It’s ok not to give away the news, put tell us to pay attention at a certain time or day. Or not be on a plane at the time. Wink, wink.

      Next comes the event coverage. Analysts understand that most vendor staff is exhausted, for you it’s a big event vs. for us analysts it is just one of many. I’d recommend vendors to keep some spare capacity for factual reviews and inquiries during and right after the event – as you want to stay in the news cycle. Often analysts are off to the next event and if their blog / report is not out quickly, things start piling up. The result is less, later and less accurate coverage, all things you don’t want as a vendor.

      And after the even it is expense time. Making the expense process easy will be welcome by all analysts. Some vendors have given analyst ‘carte blanche’ for flight booking, setting limits to what they will approve amount wise. Giving the analyst the freedom to book their own flight is a win / win – so certainly a best practice to consider. One vendor has gone so far to do so for the whole event, setting limits for hotels, airport transfers, taxis etc. – a very good step all other vendors should take note of and ideally imitate. Bonus to consider for 2015: Do an expense drop when the analyst leaves the event, credit same cost for return to airport and incidentals for the rest of the day – and vendor and analyst are done. With the bonus that analysts are likely to show up when they leave your event.

      And lastly cookbooks and other large items and gifts are certainly appreciated, but offer the analysts a shipping option. Last year I came back with three cookbooks in a week…

      MyPOV

      It is always great to be invited to an event by a vendor. It gives analyst prime insight into the people and product as well as customers, prospect and the overall ecosystem. A lot of work and investment goes into them, we are aware of that. With this blog posts I tried to point out some areas where these events can be even made better. Hope it is helpful. 

      If you are a vendor – let me know what you think – if you are an analyst – please do the same – and add what I have missed.



      Find more coverage on the Constellation Research website here.


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      Today we learnt that Saba Software (Saba) is being taken private by San Francisco headquartered Vector Capital (Vector). The deal is valued at 400M US$ (see here) - setting the Saba stock price at 9 US$, pretty close to where it was trading over the counter (SABA was de-listed in 2013).

      So let’s review the press release in our standard approach to major announcements:

      REDWOOD SHORES, CA and SAN FRANCISCO, CA. – February 10, 2015 –Saba (OTC Pink: SABA), a global leader in cloud-based intelligent talent management solutions, today announced that it has entered into a definitive agreement with affiliates of Vector Capital (“Vector”) under which an affiliate of Vector will acquire all of the outstanding shares of Saba common stock for $9.00 per share in an all cash offer.

      MyPOV – Nice way to stick in the new software category that Saba is trying to shape – ‘intelligent talent management’, with a lot of use of analytics. A good positioning and we took a first look at the new Compensation Management product back at HR Tech in Amsterdam in fall of 2014.

      “Over the course of Saba’s comprehensive review, the Board of Directors and our advisors evaluated a wide range of strategic alternatives, and engaged with a number of parties. We are pleased to have reached this agreement with Vector, which provides significant cash value for our shareholders. Our Board unanimously believes that this is the best outcome for Saba, our shareholders, customers, partners and employees,” said Bill Russell, Saba’s Non-Executive Chairman.

      MyPOV – Let’s hope this is the best outcome for Saba, which has been trouble for (too) long by not being able to release earning statements. Vector actually helped Saba with a credit line in the past (see here), so this acquisition may be a consequence of that credit action. If a good or bad next move – only time will tell and we may never know. Vector has a good track record getting troubled vendors back on track, I remember once famously hyped Niku (ultimately sold to CA) as a good example.

      “Over the last 17 years, Saba has delivered a growing set of innovative intelligent talent management solutions, which are in use today by more than 2,200 global market leaders and innovators,” said Shawn Farshchi, President and CEO of Saba. “Vector has been a great partner to Saba since 2013. We are thrilled to continue the relationship, and take advantage of the support and resources of Vector and their partner network to strategically invest in expanding our product portfolio, further our customer success programs, and continue to the next stage of the company’s growth and market leadership.”

      MyPOV – The way how Farshchi puts it, it looks like Vector might invest more into Saba. And that investment is certainly needed, as the vendor is building a new product suite and needs to compete with both Talent Management and overall HCM suite vendors with deep pockets.

      “Vector, along with some of the world’s premiere financial institutions and investors, are excited to help Saba move beyond its financial restatement process and put the focus squarely on the Company’s innovative cloud talent management platform and its blue chip customer base,” said David Fishman, Managing Director and Head of the Private Equity Team at Vector Capital.

      Andy Fishman, Managing Director at Vector Capital, said, “We are excited to partner with the management team and the dedicated and talented group of employees at Saba. We look forward to them becoming part of the Vector family.”


      MyPOV – Interesting to find two quotes from Vector in the press release. Goldman Sachs veteran David Fishman is certainly the ‘software guy’ at Vector – with exposure to almost all its software related portfolio. Maybe both Vector divisions – Private Equity and Vector Capital help to fund the deal. Or Vector Capital gave Saba the credit, and now it is Private Equity to step up. Though the credit was relatively small (25M US$) compared to the current transaction value.

      The transaction is subject to customary closing conditions and the approval of Saba shareholders, and is expected to close in the coming months. The transaction is not subject to any financing conditions. Saba senior management is expected to remain in Redwood Shores. [...]

      MyPOV – Good to add that the senior management will stay in the campus in Redwood Shores – which promises personnel stability.

      Implications, Implications

      So let’s look at the implications of this transaction for the constituents.

      Implications for Saba Customers

      The hope would be that this transaction ends concerns about the viability of Saba. It will be back to Vector and Saba to make sure that roadmaps and viability from a corporate and financial perspective are given and communicated. Customers should actively reach out to Saba to get re-assurances on both roadmap items, global build-out and continuing operations. Saba and Vector should expect these inquiries and be ready to address them, ideally even proactively.

      Assuming this will all pass well, this transaction is good news for Saba customers. Saba was previously cut out from raising capital, it now has the privacy of private equity to restructure, get books in order and grow product and global presence.

      In the long run customers should not forget that Vector is a private equity firm and will not hold Saba ‘forever’ – so looking at the customary exit for PE firms in 5 or 7 years of holding Saba will be an important aspect for future contract negotiations.

      Implications for Saba

      We can only hope that this will put the vendor on solid footing, good investment and return to the strength and good reputation that Saba once had in the Learning and Talent Management space. As we wrote earlier, Learning is not winning the Talent Management Wars or the HCM Wars – so it is key for Saba to actively expand its portfolio. Like all Talent Management vendors it will need to decide if it needs to create a HR Core system – or not. The new (true) analytic (more here) angle of the latest product version is promising, but needs customer traction and adoption.

      Implications for Saba Competitors

      It looks like nobody wanted to buy Saba. Its strong Learning would have been a fit for Workday, could have complemented both Oracle and SAP. Would have helped Infor. Maybe ADP. Added a lot of customers for Ceridian and Ultimate, but probably was too expensive for them. If Saba ever explored this and why it did not happen - we will probably never know. Assuming Vector will invest into Saba, they (and the Talent Management vendors like Cornerstone, Lumesse, Skillsoft SumTotal, TechnoMedia etc. will see a more formidable competitor. The targeting of Saba customers may come to an end soon.

      MyPOV

      I hope this turns a less fit vendor into a good market participant and competitor. Talent Management has for a long time overpromised and under delivered. It is time for Round 2 – using the next generation capabilities of (true) analytics, BigData and cloud. That analytics matter for talent management, starting in recruiting is widely accepted not only by the traditional vendors but a bustling startup scene. Looking forward to have one stronger vendor in the market – good luck to Saba customers, employees and the vendor overall. Good to see the Saba story has not ended (yet).

      ----------


      More Market Move blog posts:
      • Market Move - Oracle buys Datalogix - moves into DaaS - read here
      • Market Move - SAP strikes again - this time it is Concur - and the push into spend management - read here
      • Market Move - Cisco wants to buy Metacloud - getting more into the cloud game - read here
      • Market Move - Skillsoft announces to acquire Sumtotal - creating a(nother) HCM vendor - read here
      • Market Move - Infor runs CloudSuite on AWS - Inflection point or hot air balloon? Read here
      • Marker Move - SAP acquires Fieldglass -  off into contingenty workforce - early move or reaciton? Read here
      • Why NetSuite acquired TribeHR - read here
      • Microsoft gets even more serious about devices - acquires Nokia smartphone business - read here
      • Why Intuit acquires Elastic Intelligence - read here
      • Why SAP acquired hybris software - read here
      • Why IBM acquired SoftLayer - read here
      • Why Oracle is buying Tekelec - read here
      • Why Oracle bought Nimbula - read here
      Find more coverage on the Constellation Research website here.

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      In the digital age, the cloud has transitioned from the responsibility of the CIO to the responsibility of the entire C-suite. Cloud computing has morphed from a simple utility into a running a set applications which is utilized by all functions within a business. Consequently, all CxOs should be aware of major trends in cloud technology. I’ve identified nine of these cloud trends in my latest piece of research, “Nine Cloud Trends Every CxO Needs to Know in 2015”. This report provides a comprehensive first look at these key trends and allows CxOs to familiarize themselves with them and then drive to first actions and conclusions for their respective enterprise. The success of every department depends on the CxO’s fluency of the apps and underlying cloud technology that, both, powers and is produced by organizations in the digital age. 



      Cloud adoption will fundamentally transform IT organizations. Locations, jobs, positions, skills and the self-understanding of IT’s role in the 21st century are dramatically changing. The next decade will see more changes for IT than the function has seen since its inception in the 1950’s. Read my lips: proficiency in the basic elements of the cloud will be a requirement for all CxO roles in the next ten years. Embrace the cloud or face disruption.

      This shift is happening already. Most vendors have transitioned to a platform zone, which has allowed them to create middleware platforms. The consequence is that Platform as a Service (PaaS) will disappear even more as a market category in 2015. CxOs need to be aware of the benefits, but also the lock-ins, that come with using cloud as a middleware platform. At the same time, OpenStack will lose its unity as the participating vendors see more economic benefits for themselves by differentiating beyond the compatibility layer. And beyond OpenStack, there is an overall need for cloud vendors to specialize in order to differentiate from the market leader.

      Despite the success of the public cloud, most enterprises will still have hybrid deployments as the predominant form of cloud adoption. At the same time, growing legal and statutory requirements will make the location of data centers a key criteria for enterprises selecting cloud vendors. But enterprises will also realize that for the next-generation application demands, there is no alternative to cloud adoption. The nature and demands of next-generation applications force the adoption of cloud, as cloud qualities are key for the benefits that enterprises want to garner from these applications.
       


      Prepare yourself for a productive conversation about the future of the cloud in your organization. The table of contents and a snapshot of my report is available for download on the Constellation website.


      Find more coverage on the Constellation Research website here.

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      SAP had their yearly analyst meeting in San Francisco and it was a good time to catch up on overall progress almost 6 months after SuccessConnect in Las Vegas (my takeaways here).
       


      Before we embark, here is a great slide on the history of both SAP HCM and SuccessFactors:



      As typical for a Progress Report – here are my Top 3 takeaways:

      1.A lot of moving parts– Even before the SAP S/4HANA announcement from the other week (see my First Take here), there were already a lot of moving parts in the SAP HCM / SuccessFactors portfolio. While SAP built EmployeeCentral on the MDF Framework, it was clear that more had to happen with the rest of the SuccessFactors application portfolio, as well as the BI / Analytics space. And SAP was also working on making the proven and venerable R/3 payroll engine available for SaaS deployments. And then there was this new database that SuccessFactors is supposed to run on, HANA. And with the new S/4HANA product, there is a new architecture and product suite announced and it will need to have some HCM capabilities, too. So let’s peel all these pieces back:


      • SAP plans to make cloud applications only available for real cloud deployments. In contrast to S/4HANA – EmployeeCentral and other SuccessFactors applications will not be available to be installed on premise or in a private cloud. Not really a surprise as the code is probably not designed and engineered for that – but what kind of new ERP suite is S/4HANA without HCM.
        [Update from SAP Feb. 13 2015: S/4HANA has an employee and org master in it, just like ECC (but simplified).  While we are not simplifying the existing SAP HCM, we ARE connecting S/4HANA with Employee Central, so EC becomes the Core HR Transactional system, and feeds relevant HR data to S/4HANA.  It’s not all that different from existing customers who run HR and Finance in separate instances (which most do).  The HR instance manages the transactions and replicates the HR information to the Financials instance.]
        [Continue of original post:] Of course SAP has already ‘side by side’ implementations of Business Suite and EmployeeCentral / SuccessFactors available, and is likely to make the same available for on premise and private cloud S/4HANA installations. But it means that you can have the new SAP HCM products only in the cloud. A gutsy move considering that there are still large customer groups that think / want to deploy HCM on premise (or private cloud). Of course SAP still has R/3 HCM available – but questions will arise in regards of how in tune that functionality is with the HCM best practices of 2015.

      New Payroll Control Center UI
      • SAP is in the process of moving all payroll relevant information into EmployeeCentral, making the R/3 payroll engine more and more a ‘thin & dumb’ engine that can be called easily, and quasi elastic. SAP showed a demo of an employee taking vacation / time off and how it instantly changed the paycheck. Given the history of the SAP payroll engine, quite a feat. But a necessity as e.g. ADP and Ceridian have shown the same already last year. Additionally SAP has made progress in the UI it uses on top of the Payroll Administration – looks as good (or is it) Fiori. Maybe it can bring back some ‘fun’ to run payroll.

      • SAP is in process of finishing its work around the Learning module. Bringing your own content sharing and using ‘true’ analytics to serve relevant content will be a powerful upgrade to the former Plateau product. 

      • At the same time SAP plans (sorry details under NDA) to move other SuccessFactors Talent Management modules to the MDF platform. That is certainly welcome as the diversity of the different SuccessFactors architecture is a sizeable technical debt. Good to see SAP tackling this area (at last some customers say).

      • And finally SAP has some interesting plans in the Business Intelligence and Analytics space. SuccessFactors has always been good at Benchmarking, with almost all customers participating in the benchmarking process. With the integration of Lumira, SAP HCM users will receive an attractive BI tool with probably good enough capabilities to fight of potential Tableau installs for the average HCM user. Moreover, SAP is making good progress in the ‘real’ analytics area for some selected analytical questions (what I mean with ‘real’ analytics – read here). 

      The SAP HCM Cloud Architecture - OData APIs 


      2. APIs as the new integration paradigm– Dmitri Krakovsky walked us through a set of new qualities for future SuccessFactors products as well as capabilities of the existing architecture. And as Ettling pointed out earlier, SAP HCM has abandoned the mantra of the one schema / object model. The future are APIs and using OData as interface to have the existing and new applications communicate to each other. Not a new approach, but new for SAP. Many questions remain, such as if the APIs will be open to outside of SAP built consumption, what is the integration platform (HCP?) for more complex integration and transformation processes and so on. From a strategic perspective the most important aspect was that Krakovsky said that being ready for more acquisitions was an additional benefit of the strategy. And while that was not a statement to any specific acquisitions, it is certainly is good to be ready for them – on an architecture level.
       
      SAP Services Lifecyle
      3. Services as differentiator!?  – SAP spend a good portion of the day talking about various service offerings and capabilities. The topic is near and dear to SAP HCM leader Ettling, so it is good to SAP investing in the area. When I asked what sets SAP apart in services, Ettling said it is the adoption teams that grow proportionally to subscription revenue and the newly revisited support offerings.

      Tidbits


      • SAP JAM - As custom at SAP HCM events, we also got an update on the JAM product. JAM has passed 17.5M users and is growing well, it looks like the work package approach the team has taken, is creating value for SAP customers using JAM alongside SAP HCM products. 
      SAP JAM momentum slide

      • Bye Bye Boomi– SAP SuccessFactors will transition from Boomi to HCI as their standard integration middleware but will continue to support existing Boomi implementations – a good step to reduce technical debt and 3rd party license payments. 
      • Bye Bye Oracle– And SuccessFactors is moving off Oracle and onto HANA. New customers will be brought to HANA first, but the overall migration will be completed in 2016. We will be watching. 



      MyPOV

      SAP is making good progress on its HCM portfolio. It is good to see, that the vendor is actively embarking on the journey to bring all its HCM products on the MDF Framework, which really is a platform. With that SAP has a dual positioning challenge with HANA Cloud Platform (HCP), but the vendor juggled the two well: MDF is for transactional (HCM) applications, HCP is an all-purpose PaaS product. But that all creates a lot of moving parts, and moving parts in software always bring the risk of quality issues. SAP has a senior enough team for not making that an issue, but it is certainly an area to watch, also given key competitors have less of a re-build / re-write load in the coming next years. But re-writes, re-platforming has to happen every 10 or so years in most cases, so 2015 just marks the date where SAP embarks into the effort. Lastly SAP needs to be more proactive and transparent on the roadmap and milestones related to that effort. A complete roadmap of what is going to happen certainly will be welcomed by prospects, customers and the overall ecosystem. That other events happen, like e.g. an S/4HANA launch, the acquisition of Concur is a possibility, if not a likely reality. And that such events could re-trigger a new roadmap is nothing shocking anymore in the cloud era. It could be even something customers welcome, as they want to take advantage of the new functionality. So a public roadmap of future products would be an important step. 

      ----------

      And more on overall SAP strategy and products:

      • First Take - SAP launches S/4HANA - The good, the challenge and the concern - read here
      • First Take - SAP's IoT strategy becomes clearer - read here
      • SAP appoints a CTO - some musings - read here
      • Event Report - SAP's SAPtd - (Finally) more talk on PaaS, good progress and aligning with IBM and Oracle - read here
      • News Analysis - SAP and IBM partner for cloud success - good news - read here
      • Market Move - SAP strikes again - this time it is Concur and the spend into spend management - read here
      • 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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      This morning Pivotal informed the world on three major announcements, the creation of a BigData Product Suite, a partnership with Hortonworks and the launch of an ‘Open Data Platform’. 




      All three announcements tie together, but the product related one is the most important one, so let’s dissect in in our usual news analysis style:

      San Francisco, February 17, 2015 – Pivotal, an open source pioneer, today announced a new release of Pivotal Big Data Suite, the next generation big data solution built to help customers accelerate the value they get from their big data. In an industry first, Pivotal will open source the core components of Pivotal Big Data Suite.

      MyPOV – Certainly Pivotal has done a lot with open source – but they are not necessarily pioneers. This announcement is all about making the previous EMC acquisition of Greenplum and the previous VMware Spring Source acquisition of GemStone coupled with the HAWQ Hadoop SQL front end available on an open source core.

      With over 25 years invested in development of Pivotal’s big data product portfolio and global customers across every industry, Pivotal brings forward extensive experience to now offer customers an open source choice to accelerate their data-driven applications. Core components of the Pivotal Big Data Suite – including world-leading, analytical MPP data warehouse Pivotal Greenplum Database, the world’s most advanced enterprise SQL on Hadoop analytic engine, Pivotal HAWQ; and the leading premium NoSQL in-memory database, Pivotal GemFire – will be, for the first time, based on an open source core. The contributions will be an open, fully functioning core that will provide mission critical resiliency, advanced client support, performance optimizations for demanding enterprise workloads and advanced operational tools.

      MyPOV – The announcement effectively ends the rumors around what Pivotal will do with its BigData products, which never did as well as the sister PaaS product, CloudFoundry. [Update Feb 17th - Pivotal correctly reminds me that in 2014 Pivotal had achieved roughly 100M US$ in data software bookings. Fair enough and important to mention.] The future will tell if Pivotal was slowed down by the late entry into the Hadoop Distribution market with Pivotal HD [Update Feb 17th - Pivotal states that Pivotal HD was never sold standalone after the Big Data Suite shipped last year. Fair point.], or if Pivotal overall has realized it cannot compete with open source, despite all the remarkable development process (e.g. pair programming, agile etc.) that Pivotal has put in place. For original Greenplum and Gemfire investors and employees it may be as well a remarkable day, as their work now becomes part of open source. EMC and VMware probably paid close to a half Billion for these assets (prices were never disclosed) back in 2010.

      “Pivotal Big Data Suite is a major milestone in the path to making big data truly accessible to the enterprise,” said Sundeep Madra, vice president, Data Product Group, Pivotal. “By sharing Pivotal HD, HAWQ, Greenplum Database and GemFire capabilities with the open source community, we are contributing to the market as a whole the necessary components to build solutions that make up a next generation data infrastructure. Releasing these technologies as open source projects will only help accelerate adoption and innovation for our customers.”

      MyPOV – Well said, note the acceleration that is expected by making the open source contribution, effectively saying that Pivotal itself was not working as fast, and maybe not fast enough. It takes less resources when the majority of code is in open source and a vendor only needs to truly work at the revenue generating add-ons.

      Delivered On an Open Cloud Platform

      Customer focus has moved from storing the data to unlocking its potential—demanding a more agile way to wield their data. Pivotal Big Data Suite also offers customers an agile data solution based on open source software that can be flexibly deployed using cloud technologies.

      MyPOV – Marketing lingo…

      Pivotal Big Data Suite will provide support for bare metal commodity hardware, appliance-based delivery, virtualized instances, and now public, private, and hybrid cloud support. In addition, Pivotal Cloud Foundry Operations Manager will be included to provide Pivotal Big Data Suite capabilities as services inside and with Pivotal Cloud Foundry applications.

      MyPOV – Good move to team with the more successful Pivotal product, Cloud Foundry. We see the majority of next generation application projects being based on or needing in some shape BigData capabilities, so combining Cloud Foundry with this is a smart move.

      […]

      Choice and Flexibility with a Single Subscription

      Pivotal Big Data Suite will be the industry’s first and only suite of enterprise class big data products based on open source at their core. Barriers to big data deployments will be removed through a single flexible suite, for both application developers and data practitioners. Enterprises now have access to the flexible deployment of data lakes, powerful tools for advanced analytics and data science, as well as a portfolio of building blocks for supporting custom data-centric scale-out applications in hybrid cloud environments.


      MyPOV – One of the smart moves Pivotal made was to allow customers to trade data product licenses as they saw a need and their BigData projects evolved. Keeping the same practice in place today makes sense. We wonder though how a recent paying customer for e.g. Greenplum may feel after this announcement. [Update Feb. 17th - Pivotal tells me it is looking into ways to make perpetual licenses into subscription licenses with credits. MyPOV - A fair move.]

      Pivotal Big Data Suite to Include New Application Services

      Pivotal Big Data Suite includes several new data services:
      (New) Pivotal Big Data Suite on Pivotal Cloud Foundry— Leverage advanced data services using applications running in the leading open cloud platform as a service.
      (New) Spring XD— Highest scaling open source distributed framework for data ingestion, batch processing and analytic pipeline management.
      (New) Redis— Leading scalable open source key-value store and data structure server.
      (New) RabbitMQ— Leading scalable open source reliable message queue for applications.


      MyPOV – Good to see Pivotal bundle more assets into the offering, searching synergistic benefits. All 4 increase the value and attractiveness of the new product suites.

      Unified and Open Approach to Big Data

      Responding to customer and market needs for unification in the Big Data space, Pivotal is joining forces with other data industry leaders to provide customers a stable, secure and interoperable foundation to build on.

      In related announcements made today, Pivotal will be participating in the Open Data Platform to drive further collaboration and the adoption of modern, scalable data architectures by enterprises.


      MyPOV – This is a smart move, combining all the forces of the ‘beyond #2’ runs in the market – the market leaders being Cloudera and AWS for BigData. But like with any other large group of otherwise competing vendors, it remains to be seen how long and how well these vendors can keep a working and the open platform going.

      In addition, Pivotal announced a strategic alliance with Hortonworks to simplify the adoption of Apache™ Hadoop® by enterprises, which includes support for its advanced services like Pivotal HAWQ running on the Hortonworks Data Platform.

      MyPOV – This is the 3rd announcement (next to this press release and the Open Data Platform being joined by Pivota). By making assets like HAWQ available on the Hortonworks’ Data Platform, Pivotal goes with the #2 Hadoop distribution, which makes sense for the vendor.

      MyPOV 

      Competing with open source is very hard, too hard for most vendors. When IBM started to use Pivotal’s CloudFoundry product for the new IBM PaaS BlueMix, it was clear that when super large vendors like IBM need to use open source, smaller ones will have to use it, too. Especially when the product is on a long downward trot as the former EMC and VMware BigData products (unfortunately) are. Even putting them into Pivotal, telling a new story that worked out very well for the PaaS offering – CloudFoundry – did not change their overall market success. So it is only the right consequence for Pivotal to make the open source move for them. Original investors and founders of e.g. Greenplum may wipe off a silent tear, but that’s how the BigData market works these days. The interesting question will only be if Pivotal will support the Cloudera ecosystem at some point – or not. Unlikely soon. In the meantime good luck to Pivotal with the new approach, it needs less developers to only focus on the add-ones that create revenue in an open source play, than building the overall platform.

      Find more coverage on the Constellation Research website here.

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      I had the pleasure to attend a FP&A conference yesterday (#FPAWest) – conveniently located here in San Diego. SAP chose the event to launch a new product – ‘SAP Cloud for planning’, so let me share my first take. The press release can be found here.



      Many enterprise vendors (and others) have tried to crack the Microsoft dominance with Excel as the Swiss Army knife of the business professionals. Almost no vendor has even been able to put a dent in the armor (as I described here already). The main reasons why Excel has kept its dominant role are that it can be found on nearly every enterprise desktop in the world, the power of the Excel grid control and the functional richness of Excel itself (though most users use less than 5%). The irony of the Excel killers is, that they mostly start – and then even end in Excel – creating value add for users in between. Most enterprise vendors have found a way to co-exist with Excel – allowing for the popular import and exports of Excel spreadsheets.

      But it is good that vendors are trying, with good success (see e.g. my take on Informatica Springbok here) and now we can see SAP throwing its hat in the ring with Cloud for Planning. (In good SAP tradition a confusing name, given the S4HANA launch, it needs an upgrade to Cloud 4 Planning maybe? Going forward I will refer to the product with C4P in this post). [Update Feb 20th - SAP correctly reminds me that C4P was named before S/4HANA and is following the SAP product naming conventions. MyPOV - Fair enough, sill a mouthful.]

      Here are my top 3 takeaways from meeting with the C4P team extensively yesterday:

      HANA makes a difference – any spreadsheet maker’s dream
      – I have written, blogged and spoken about the pros and cons of HANA, SAP’s in memory database many times. But C4P is different than the traditional enterprise application, as it essentially stands and falls with memory capabilities. As every heavy Excel user knows, even on today’s generously endowed machines, memory can become an issue. But memory is available plenty with HANA, so to a certain point, HANA is any spreadsheet builder’s dream. But HANA also has a nifty calculation engine, and the C4P product takes advantage of SAP owning both the C4P product and HANA (many on the product team come from the HANA team originally), embedding and adding key spreadsheet capabilities right into HANA. Granular security, the flexibility of the columnar database help additionally to build what C4P is – a great spreadsheet that was not build by a productivity tool vendor (aka Microsoft) but an enterprise software vendor. Finally the nature of HANA of being a database, gives the C4P product a distinct different capability than the conventional approach to FP&A, holding large models / matrices in memory. By its very nature, certainly aided by the often mentioned compression algorithms of HANA, C4P has a much lesser footprint than its traditional FP&A competitors.
       
      Ivo Bauermann kicks off the C4P launch

      A great tool has many uses – Despite being just launched as a product, C4P does so many things right already, that additional planning usage scenarios will be in demand. It should be only a question of time when prospects, customers and internal SAP product teams will ask to use C4P for usage beyond the classic FP&A usage, looking at e.g. S&OP, Workforce Planning etc. At the same time the product certainly needs to keep growing, as it takes a delicate balance between capabilities in C4P vs Excel to win over the trust and then the brains of the business user. In the past most attempts failed, as vendors could not win over the business user. What makes me optimistic (for now) in the C4P case is, that the first version if already pretty rich as a spreadsheet, but even more that the product team though of the next step, beyond the spreadsheet. Finance professionals don’t create spreadsheets for themselves, but to share them and collaborate with other employees in the enterprise. With an inbuilt collaboration option, C4P becomes instantly more valuable. And yes, for the FP&A heavy users, I saw a calendar, too.

      Screenshot from SAP website, here

      A HCP showcase – For a long time SAP did not talk PaaS, good for the vendor those times are over with SAPtd fall of 2014 (my take here) which made clear that HANA Cloud Platform (HCP) is the PaaS platform (my First Take here). With the C4P product being developed on HCP (and HANA) it is a great showcase that (certainly) with a lot of hard work and dedication, you can build a very attractive product right from scratch in less than a year, even though not in the main use case for both HCP and HANA (which is building transactional enterprise applications).

      MyPOV

      A very good V1 product by any measure. Now SAP needs to find the customers and position right with its existing BPC offering, which the team reassured me is no problem. That would be the confirmation that SAP BPC users see C4P as what it is – a better way to do FP&A work than with Microsoft Excel. But always better to hear it from customers. My hope is also that SAP gets the pricing right, C4P lends itself to freemium, pay by the use sales models as well as a viral marketing and selling approach. And then every product needs a roadmap, C4P needs to balance out basic spreadsheet with more advanced analytical capabilities. Overall it needs to remain close to the needs of the business professional with a planning need.

      I will keep an eye on the FP&A vendors, as the new technologies of cloud, BigData, Analytics etc. all lend themselves very well to build the next generation of FP&A applications, and as such it centers well in my nextgen Apps research area.


      ----------

      And more on overall SAP strategy and products:

      • Progress Report - SAP HCM makes progress and consolidates - a lot of moving parts - read here
      • First Take - SAP launches S/4HANA - The good, the challenge and the concern - read here
      • First Take - SAP's IoT strategy becomes clearer - read here
      • SAP appoints a CTO - some musings - read here
      • Event Report - SAP's SAPtd - (Finally) more talk on PaaS, good progress and aligning with IBM and Oracle - read here
      • News Analysis - SAP and IBM partner for cloud success - good news - read here
      • Market Move - SAP strikes again - this time it is Concur and the spend into spend management - read here
      • 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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      It is end of February and it is time to make it to Las Vegas for IBM InterConnect, the new mega IBM event, combining three separate previous events. Spanning from Mandalay Bay to MGM Grand it will for sure get those health tracker stats up – but better one mega event than 3 trips… 



      Here are my Top3 takeaways

      PaaS keeps rolling - On the BlueMix side IBM announced key new capabilities for its PaaS product. DataWorks is a nice re-use from its data management group, which makes it easy to move, cleanse, mask (and more) data. In the demo data was then uploaded to the cloud and enriched with the capabilities of Cloudant. With API Harmony it will get easier for developers to publish and leverage APIs. Finally the local deployment option will be a welcome option for regulated industries, enterprises that hold out for cloud, but also sister applications that complement cloud applications with handling local processing
       
      Jerry Cuomo built a nextgenApp with BlueMix

      SoftLayer keeps rolling– IBM confirmed to be on track of the close to 50 data center location rollout in 2015, just announcing Montreal and Sydney as the next locations. When using the new container capabilities and BlueMix local it open new options for enterprises to deploy nextgen Apps locally – satisfying statutory demands (and potential out of country data center concerns). Moreover IBM is bringing its Power servers to more data centers, which is key for IBM's converged system strategy. It will be interesting to see how much load Power will run in the IBM Cloud by summer.
       
      The growing #SoftLayer network

      Watson pushes into healthcare– It looks like IBM wants to make healthcare the main thrust for Watson’s capabilities, certainly a noble cause. It was back to Coriell Life Sciences as partner to explain their approach – but it would have been good to see the next set of partners taking IBM Watson into healthcare. At the very end we learnt that Watson will be available as a Watson Zone in BlueMix. 
       
      The NextGen App built with Watson and BlueMix (?) at MD Andersen
      Cancer Center
      MyPOV – A great start for the new IBM mega event, IBMInterConnected – bringing together the former IBM Impact, Pulse and Innovate conferences. A ton of announcements that we will try to take apart and validate with prospects, customers and partners in the next days. Stay tuned.


      ---------- 

      More on IBM :
      • News Analysis - IBM had a very good year in the cloud - 2015 will be key - read here
      • Event Report - IBM Insight 2014 - Is it all coming together for IBM in 2015? Or not? 
      • First Take - Top 3 Takeaways from IBM Insight Day 1 Keynote - read here
      • IBM and SAP partner for cloud - good move - read here
      • Event Report - IBM Enterprise - A lot of value for existing customers, but can IBM attract net new customers? Read here
      • 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

      Find more coverage on the Constellation Research website here.

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      Last week I published a report, Inside the 9 Cloud Trends Every CXO Needs to Know in 2015. This report asses the state of the cloud market and identifies nine trends influencing cloud technology.
       


      Here’s an excerpt of the report. Over the next few weeks I’ll dive into detail on the trends outlined below.

      Consumption at the Pace of Innovation Requires Adoption of the Cloud

      Changes driven by innovation have affected IT since its very inception. Whenever a piece of hardware or software gets released to the enterprise, most vendors of these products are already working on the next release if not the next generation of these products. The result – generally available products are already “old” when released. Consequently, all constituents in the market know that the next and better product is right around the corner.

      However, enterprise technology leaders must invest at some point with a bet on a distinct combination of hardware and software to accomplish their current and future business objectives. As of a decade ago, these projects required a sizeable capital expenditure (CAPEX) investment with a planned lengthy write-down period. Hence, IT leaders would cling to their IT infrastructure for as long as they could.

      With Software as a Service (SaaS), leaders found an alternative to owning applications. Enterprises rejoiced at no longer having to pony up funds for large capital expenditures to purchase perpetual licenses. In fact, organizations celebrated access through subscription. CAPEX was saved, despite the fact that the behind-the-scenes hardware infrastructure of vendors was highly proprietary and tuned to the nature of their SaaS offerings. Only later did stand-alone Infrastructure as a Services (IaaS) offerings come into place.

      To a certain extent, the IT world has come full circle. It was a best practice for owners of mainframes in the 1950’s, 1960’s and even 1970’s to rent out excess capacity of their mainframes to interested third parties. Today, the very same effect happens in the public cloud, with the difference that the providers have invested into their IT infrastructure for the sole purpose of renting it out. A number of now defunct players were doing the same last century - buying mainframes with the purpose of renting them out to other enterprises. With the public cloud here to stay, a business model emerges that actually is very familiar to IT leaders of two generations ago.

      Looking ahead, Constellation identifies nine key trends in the state of the cloud for 2015:
       

      Read more about the report: https://www.constellationr.com/research/inside-nine-cloud-trends-every-cxo-needs-know-2015

      Download a snapshot of the report: http://info.constellationr.com/report-download-9-cloud-trends

      Stay tuned. Next week I’ll dive deeper into the trends above.

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      We had the opportunity to attend the newly created IBM InterConnect conference in Las Vegas this week. The conference was very well attended with over 25k attendees, over 40% being first time attendees. That number has to be taken with a grain of salt, as the conference itself is new – combining the former IBM conferences called Pulse, Impact and Innovate. And while the event was spread out over the MGM and the Mandalay Bay conference centers, with frequent shuttle services, walks and related complaints, it makes sense to combine these events. Anyone complaining about the ‘commute’ should consider going to Las Vegas / Orlando for another combined 4-6 days, which effort wise makes the short commute on the Las Vegas Strip a worthwhile and easy endeavor.




      In contrast to last year’s events, there were no major announcements – e.g. BlueMix was launched a year ago, but we saw a number of medium size announcements, which all point towards steady progress. And that IBM is staying the course, something the vendor would not do if they would not see good traction with prospects and customers.


      So here are my top 3 takeaways (my Day #1 Keynote takeaways are here):


      • The products gets ready for the hybrid cloud– In hindsight it became clear to me that 2014 was all setup by IBM to show that the vendor understood cloud, was ready for it and a player in the public cloud game. With that established, barbs traded with Amazon, IBM can now pivot to where both business and expertise are – in the combination and co-existence of both on premise and cloud assets for its customers. In short the hybrid cloud scenario. More specifically this means that new code needs to run on premise, and as new code is built with BlueMix, it means BlueMix needs to run on premise. And that is exactly what IBM unveiled with BlueMix Local. BlueMix Local enables customers to deploy BlueMix on local hardware, with IBM taking over the maintenance of the environment from a product code support perspective. More specifically this means that IBM will upgrade all BlueMix Local instances for the customer, in synch with BlueMix cloud releases. Or maybe a few days later. Cloud Purists will be shocked, but customers are likely to see value, e.g. in regulated industries, government, cloud sceptic and high latency geographies. Once you have the infrastructure to propagate and install code like this, it is also easy to create dedicated managed instances of BlueMix, something IBM calls BlueMix Dedicated and has signed a first partnership on this with Indian SI Tech Mahindra.

      LeBlanc kicks of with Airbus

      • The Organization gets ready for hybrid cloud– To enable the better support for hybrid cloud, IBM has re-organized its development organizations, pretty fundamentally. When a software vendor supports hybrid deployments, it can no longer align product organizations along deployment paths. Inevitably, the development organizations shifts into a matrix modus operandi, with assets being re-used in multiple product or deployment options. When the vendor, like IBM needs to execute a push in a certain direction (here cloud), it means that dotted reporting lines need to be created in the development organization. As such IBM has likely just done the most significant re-organization of its development organization. Speaking with IBM veterans the last similar re-organization of that scale was when IBM created the software group itself. More remarkably the newly created very large product teams have also gone new ways (for IBM) to organize themselves – one of the largest one opting for a functional organization with a centralized product management lead for the complete team. It’s good to see IBM taking bold steps to address the product development organization to align with what the vendor wants (and needs) to deliver to prospects and customers.
        Does it matter how vendors are organized in their product development organizations? Certainly, as software is still build by people and understanding as prospect, customer or ecosystem player how e.g. IBM is organized is important to understand when trying to predict future success, software quality and overall organizational agility.


      Hybrid Cloud is the way forward

      • BlueMix is the Future– As mentioned above, BlueMix is the PaaS but also the 21st century Rational for IBM, running on premise with the announcement of BlueMix Local. BlueMix is the way how IBM wants customers and developers to build applications, regardless of the deployment and operational model. While BlueMix is based on Pivotal CloudFoundry, it was interesting to see how IBM executives kept stressing how much more IBM had to create around CloudFoundry to make it work for the IBM purposes. And while in the past CloudFoundry was the one and only deployment option, with InterConnect it was clear that IBM considers CloudFoundry only as one of three deployment options, as BlueMix applications can be delivered to run on OpenStack as well as container (Docker – what else) environments. Considering BlueMix is not even one year old (it was launched February 28th 2014) it has made massive progress. A year ago IBM needed partners like Twilio to show standard orientation, partner openness and cool tools, as the vendor had very little functionality / services compared to today… Today BlueMix has over 50 services, and they are not lightweight, but real and key components to build a next generation application.
         
        3 User Categories

        So let’s look at the key BlueMix additions beyond Local / Dedicated (see above and the press release
        here):
        • Container support – BlueMix goes the trend of time, but not without IBM making the containers ‘enterprise grade’ and containers deployable in a hybrid way.
        • DataWorks comes to BlueMix – Originally a new development from the former InfoSphere family, DataWorks was everywhere with its capabilities to make sense, transform and combine data value added services. Something a PaaS needs, and IBM did well leveraging this asset.
        • Collaborative Operations – With this IBM refers to the management tools for hybrid environments, a logical consequence from supporting hybrid.
        • Orchestration – Vendors that support hybrid deployments create an orchestration problem, and IBM does well addressing that.
        • Security – Always a potential concern and IBM is bringing its security assets to BlueMix, powered by analytics that predict threats and vulnerabilities.
        • Secure Passport Services – When enabling hybrid operations, another set of security issues is introduced, using the passport concept to regulate what users are allowed and now allowed to do is a key consequence of supporting hybrid.
        • API Harmony – No conference without API management these days and IBM is adding this service to BlueMix, too.
        • Watson Zone – Watson brings a significant attraction and differentiation to BlueMix and IBM is shrewd at leveraging this capability in the new BlueMix Watson zone.
      So overall good progress with BlueMix, which has focused IBM’s effort more than any development platforms of the last years. The bigger work that is happening behind the scenes is that IBM is working hard to realize the vision it laid out almost two years ago, with the API economy direction. And while BlueMix can consume existing and create next generation application APIs, IBM still needs to make APIs available for its 100+ product SaaS portfolio. And the code and deployment behind these applications needs to become more elastic to allow for cost efficient operations. Moreover IBM is active at signing up data provider partnerships, though it has stopped short of declaring that it is in the DaaS (Data as a Service) game (maybe we see at Insights 2015?).

      Analyst Tidbits

      • Has Watson stalled? In contrast to Insights 2014 we saw only little progress on the Watson side. And maybe the InterConnect dates came at a bad timing for the product, but it was disappointing to see the same partners and customer on stage at InterConnect as at Insights. And an exclusive Healthcare focus as in the keynote does not do a good service to the potential of Watson, something that was corrected in more detail sessions, but you only have one chance to make a keynote impression. More Watson APIs and Services in BlueMix is certainly the right direction, as it helps Watson adoption and gives BlueMix a unique differentiator in the PaaS market. And maybe we analysts just have too high expectations for Watson, the engineering challenges behind Watson are certainly not trivial.
      Watson at MD Anderson Cancer Center

      •  IBM Design is on track for its massive objective – It is around 2 years that IBM has started a push into the design space. The vendor has raised its profile in the creative and design community that is taking note of new developments like the IBM Design Language and a massive hiring drive. Like all vendors IBM has to address the challenge to move 100s of products and development teams and it has opted into a central hiring and training model that later embeds the designers with the product teams. It was good to see what thought has been put into putting designers into the right locations, work environment and review processes. In the past many UI initiatives at many vendors have fizzled, faced with the sheer enormous task. But the ongoing IBM effort is roughly 1/3 on the way in terms of product team reach, and the first results are encouraging.
      SoftLayer expanding global footprint

      • SoftLayer keeps plowing on– IBM announced new recent locations, as usual and seems to be on track for the declared 48 locations by end of 2015. When IBM finds something that works for its customers, it puts its weight behind it, and SoftLayer is a great showcase for that. The need for finding load remains and IBM keeps signing up large deals, but by mid-year it will really be time for a load check on how much runs in SoftLayer across the world. The addition of Power and Watson services will certainly help, with Watson IBM has the option to create a unique environment to operate cognitive (aka performance sensitive and potentially data sensitive applications) applications more locally around the world than any competitor. And the addition of container support in BlueMix allows for the operation of unique applications where the code comes to the data, not the classic model of the data having to find the code


      Tables + Power = Happy Analysts!

      MyPOV

      A good event for IBM, as with all first time conferences attendees struggle with change, but bringing three conferences together is the right step in my opinion. There is too much overlap between the constituents of line of business, IT and developers on the product side not to have these groups together – they need to work as a team in their day to day jobs at enterprises anyway. Sending them to separate events is counterintuitive and counterproductive to a certain point. Now IBM needs to work on a format to make each constituent group happy and engaged at the event. Developers remains the smallest group attending from my observations. I am not sure if IBM has fully tapped into the large rational developer base yet and needs to find ways to tap more into the large developer pools out there.


      On the product side we did not see major, major announcements like in 2014 (BlueMix, Watson GA, Marketplace etc.) – but that is a good sign, as IBM focusses on creating additional value for customers and taking customers live. Apart from new concerns around Watson progress it is encouraging to see how fast IBM is moving in the last quarters.


      On the bigger picture IBM needs to use the time as traditional (hardware) competitors have not become fully operational in their cloud business. When those competitors find their stride it will be interesting how much of a lead IBM has been able to create and how much traction it has established in the coveted enterprise market. Stay tuned. 




      ---------- 

      More on IBM :
      • First Take - IBM InterConnect Day #1 Keynote - BlueMix, SoftLayer and Watson - read here
      • News Analysis - IBM had a very good year in the cloud - 2015 will be key - read here
      • Event Report - IBM Insight 2014 - Is it all coming together for IBM in 2015? Or not? 
      • First Take - Top 3 Takeaways from IBM Insight Day 1 Keynote - read here
      • IBM and SAP partner for cloud - good move - read here
      • Event Report - IBM Enterprise - A lot of value for existing customers, but can IBM attract net new customers? Read here
      • 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

      Find more coverage on the Constellation Research website here.

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      Ont the morning of March 2nd 2015 the long rumored acquisition of Aruba Networks by HP came through with the official press release (find it here). 





      So let’s dissect it New Analysis style:

      PALO ALTO, Calif. and SUNNYVALE, Calif., Mar. 2, 2015 — HP (NYSE: HPQ) and Aruba Networks (NASDAQ: ARUN) today announced a definitive agreement for HP to acquire Aruba, a leading provider of next-generation network access solutions for the mobile enterprise, for $24.67 per share in cash. The equity value of the transaction is approximately $3.0 billion, and net of cash and debt approximately $2.7 billion. Both companies’ boards of directors have approved the deal.

      MyPOV – This marks the first acquisition under CEO Meg Whitman, who previously prescribed a ‘pause’ on the acquisition side. We have been a critic of the strategy as HP clearly needed more R&D and product innovation, due to the lack of innovation production under the long tenure of former, former CEO Mark Hurd. The on / off though has hurt e.g. the Software group that has not been growing organically as it should.

      Aruba is a Sunnyvale-based industry leader in wireless networking with approximately 1,800 employees. The company had revenues of $729 million in fiscal 2014, and has reported compound annual revenue growth of 30 percent over the last five years.

      MyPOV – Aruba Networks (going forward just Aruba) – has capitalized well on the need and convenience of Wifi in the enterprise world. In the ‘cloud only’ enterprise we see only a need for Wifi on premise, as the whole networking market and market place will be transformed. It is good to see HP capitalizing on this trend early. How the market has changed is that HP acquired the venerable 3COM back in 2010 for 2.7B. And that included 3COM IP from 30+ year’s history, including network security and more.

      Aruba boasts a highly regarded innovation engine and specialized sales, marketing and channel model, complementing HP’s leading networking business and go-to-market breadth. Together, HP and Aruba will deliver next-generation converged campus solutions, leveraging the strong Aruba brand. This new combined organization will be led by Aruba’s Chief Executive Officer Dominic Orr, and Chief Strategy and Technology Officer, Keerti Melkote, reporting to Antonio Neri, leader of HP Enterprise Group. With this move, HP will be uniquely positioned to deliver both the innovation and global delivery and services offerings to meet customer needs worldwide.

      MyPOV – Good for HP to keep the Aruba team in play, but life will be different than ever before for the former Aruba employees. The way how they adopt and make either life better (and hopefully not worse) is going to be key to watch in the next quarters. Aruba related revenue should grow as HP gives Aruba access beyond what the (estimated) 300+ Aruba sales team could reach.

      With the shift to mobile, enterprise networking needs are exceeding the capabilities of legacy infrastructure. At the same time, organizations are shifting rapidly to mobility-centric workplaces for their employees, guests, customers and students. The next-generation 802.11ac Wi-Fi standard is critical in enabling this trend. This new technology will support the faster speeds and access to cloud applications that end-users expect. Enterprises need comprehensive, integrated and secure networking solutions to help them transition legacy systems to the wireless edge. Today’s announcement directly addresses these market trends.
      MyPOV – Agreed – we only see new buildings and forward looking clients skipping the wired LAN infrastructure for complete wireless network setups. Wireless networks usually pay in a few quarters when measuring ease of use and productivity gains for employees. More nifty ROI strategies exist with offloading corporate mobile plans over to Wifi as needed.

      “Enterprises are facing a mobile-first world and are looking for solutions that help them transition legacy investments to the new style of IT,” said Meg Whitman, Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer of HP. “By combining Aruba’s world-class wireless mobility solutions with HP’s leading switching portfolio, HP will offer the simplest, most secure networking solutions to help enterprises easily deploy next-generation mobile networks.”
      MyPOV – HP needed to bring some value to the acquisition – but I am not sure how much value the HP (former 3COM etc.) switch technology can add as the wired past required very different switches than the mobile / Wifi consumption presence. Start to think about load…

      [Update March 3rd 2015] - HP points correctly out that the vendor has more than just the former 3COM, but brings its full enterprise weight to the bearing with partners, services and end to end offers, as well as SDN innovations and vertical integration (HP builds its own ASICs).

      “Together with HP, we have a tremendous opportunity to become an even greater force in enterprise mobility and networking,” said Mr. Orr. “This transaction brings together Aruba’s best-of-breed mobility hardware and software solutions with HP’s leading switching portfolio. In addition, Aruba’s channel partners will have the opportunity to expand their businesses with HP offerings. Together, we will build on Aruba’s proven ‘customer first, customer last’ culture, creating an innovative, agile networking leader ideally positioned to solve our customers’ most pressing mobility, security and networking challenges.”

      MyPOV – Great plans, good luck with that. And kudos to mention the partner network – will be interesting to see how the new HP / Aruba will deal with overlaps, capacity, conflicts etc. – see below in the implication section.

      HP and Aruba believe that by combining complementary product portfolios and go-to-market approaches they will be able to accelerate revenue growth and strengthen the financial performance of the combined HP Networking business, and create a leading competitor in the $18 billion and growing campus networking sector. Overall, HP expects the acquisition to be accretive to earnings in the first full year following close.

      MyPOV – Well congrats today – the work starts tomorrow. HP will have to make sure it does not break Aruba culture and drive and Aruba needs to learn to be part of a large mega enterprise. Both obvious things at hand – but way too often broken in the high tech takeover world.

      Implications, Implications, …

      Implications for Customers

      As usual with acquisitions customer needs to look at securing existing build out and roadmap commitments. We advise to quickly look at the acquisition nature for the individual plans – they could be beneficial or a threat. In the case of a threat quickly go back to both vendors to commit to roadmap product plans, services. For a roadmap commitment make sure the right executives from HP are in the room to make the commitment. If advantages can come from the HP portfolio, quickly negotiate switch outs and replacements at defined conditions to long term purchase plans.

      Implications for Partners

      Partners to both vendors are in a good spot, but make sure to bring in the synergies and chart the value proposition accordingly. Reach out to HP for partnership re-assurance.

      HP Partners only – Understand your Wifi strategy and reach out to HP to determine your partner contract. As a fallback look for replacement product strategy for Wifi.

      Aruba Partners only – Make sure HP understand the unique value your organization brings to the table and make sure that is seen and understood by HP executives ASAP. As a fallback look for competing products.

      Implications for Competitors

      Time to chart the future Wifi strategy, there are a few – but not too many vendors left. As of now they will likely command a premium, so plan and move shrewdly. Also expect more entrenched partnerships to be created and use that to your advantage.

      Implications for HP / Aruba

      HP will have to make sure the two company cultures merge well and remain an agile and key player in the Wifi market. Easier said than done. Aruba will have to make sure to retain key employees to make the acquisition a success. Not every Aruba employee will be ‘thrilled’ to become a HP employee.

      MyPOV

      Kudos to HP and Whitman to go back out on the acquisition trail, something in my view the company has abstained for too long. If they company would have been able to do any acquisitions, given all the work management has with the separation into Enterprise and Consumer, is of course something Whitman needs to make the call for. But in my view HP cannot wait longer for getting a more attractive product portfolios in place that it does not have the time (and in networking even maybe not the talent) to develop organically. The challenge now moves from having eliminated whitespace to make the acquisition work.

      And finally- why was this an enterprise and not consumer acquisition? If every HP printer is a wifi terminal powered by Aruba… ok heading for the Caribbean now.



      An Aruba beach (not part of the acquisition...) 

      Find more coverage on the Constellation Research website here.

      ----------

      More about HP
      • News Analysis - HP acquired Eucalyptus - Genius or Panic on 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

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      We were invited to the Ceridian Analyst Summit in San Francisco earlier this week, and the vendor organized a great event. The event itself was extended from one to one and half days, with the first half day kicked off onsite at a customer location (a major retailer, name under NDA), that gave an insightful update on how and why they use Ceridian.
       



      As usual with analyst briefing events – here are my top 3 takeaways:

      A new UI– Ceridian has created a new version of the user interface for Dayforce, which addresses shortfalls of the previous user interface. In the last 20 month’s Ceridian has moved off a very Microsoft centric user interface, to a HTML5 based user interface that was and looked like a first version to now a good looking, dense enough for their heavy users and still visually appealing modern user interface. Sliders, guiding points, one consistent menu are some of the new design elements. And as usual, once you have a great new user interface in place, vendors need to make sure it becomes consistent across all products, which is Ceridian’s next milestone in the near future.
       
      Ceridian Recruiting

      Ceridian doing the ‘hard stuff’– Ceridian keeps focusing on the hard compliance and software architecture issues that not many vendors tackle, in the areas of payroll, workforce management and overall compliance. Legislative and statutory changes overwhelm enterprises across the world, and it is good to see that Ceridian is a vendor that focusses in helping enterprises to address these challenges. As such the vendor invests and walks the extra mile – now it has to show value from that work, which is quickly apparent to the practitioner, but Ceridian now needs to find a ways to demonstrate the value on a CxO level, too. The ROI case studies shown on the first day of the analyst summit are impressive and form a compelling base for such a sales pitch and positioning. Ceridian also keeps showing the value on one integrated HCM system, which runs on a single schema, set of APIs etc. And it is a good point to emphasize for Ceridian, as long as Workforce Management is in the picture. Luckily that is 80% of the vendors customers, but it will be interesting to see how well Ceridian can create and maintain marketing momentum beyond the workforce management requiring industries. Or in other words, how well can Ceridian compete when the scope is only HR Core, Talent Management and Payroll.
       
      Ceridian Performance Management

      Ceridian adding some ‘soft stuff’– The Ceridian team surprised the attending analysts with the unveiling of the acquisition of RelatedMatters. Founded by two former Ultimate execs, RelatedMatters has focused on how well people do relate (and with that work with /) to each other, a key psychographic element that is under represented in today’s HCM software. As Ceridian CEO David Ossip stated, RelatedMatters is an acquihire – not only does Ceridian get some interesting software and methodology on the psycho-analytic side, but also two HCM industry veterans. As for the RelatedMatters functionality, Ceridian had the guts to have the analyst use the tool, and most of them complied. The analyst crews can now see how well we relate to each other on a personality side – will be interesting to see how real we think it is. And that’s where all attempts of the HCM software vendors using personality and psychographic information stand right now, it intrinsically makes sense, but the methodology has to show its value for business uses day in and day out. Too early to tell for Ceridian / RelatedMatters – but kudos to Ceridian for the move, we will see how well it works in every day use.


      The TeamRelate product

      Analyst Tidbits

      • Global remains a focus– Ceridian keeps investing into becoming more global HCM system provider. It has made a major push on the compliance side, which for a vendor with Workforce Management capabilities is a little more complex. With the adoption of the EU Work Directive in the product, Ceridian now has the common set of legislative requirements available in Dayforce to run compliant workforce management across the EU. Moreover the vendor now supports 12 languages in the product, making Ceridian a viable vendor option for global HCM system rollouts. 

      • New Payroll for the UK– Ceridian is in a strong market position in the UK, being the #2 payroll provider, albeit its payroll is an older, legacy product. Last week at Ceridian UK’s user conference, the vendor already shared that it will build a new UK payroll, definitively a good but gutsy move. But if Ceridian succeeds, adding modern payroll techniques (and best practices) like continuous payroll execution, ad hoc payroll results for payees, instant overtime calculation etc,. it has a shot at the #1 market position in the UK.
      • Talent Management build out continues– It was good to see that Ceridian keeps building out Talent Management as announced a year ago at the Boston analyst meeting. The vendor is on track with Recruiting being available today, Onboarding and Performance Management coming this year. At this point we can certainly say that Ceridian is on track to have a complete Talent Management suite in 2016, as the vendor announced in spring 2014.
         
      • Loyal to the roots– On many occasions during the one and half days Ossip repeated that Ceridian – despite all the work on Core HR, Workforce Management and Talent Management – is committed to its Payroll and compliance business. That is a message that is good to hear for the existing customers, and certainly can be read as ‘protecting the core’ strategy. But Ceridian has the DNA and capability to make sure that other functions have a compliance value add, too – a differentiation that Ceridian needs to keep highlighting in the market place and should keep educating audiences about. 
      • Improved Finance situation– Thanks to the sale of Comdata, Ceridian’s financial position has much improved, namely the debt the vendor carries from its past. CFO Lois Martin presented a favorable outlook in regards of debt due dates, which should give Ceridian the opportunity to invest into product and go to market activities in the next year. [Note I am not a financial analyst, check colleagues who are more in tune with that matter].


      MyPOV

      A much improved analyst summit by Ceridian from an agenda and venue perspective, again with tons of information and a well received focus on product. Marketing, Sales, Services and Support are all important functions and give ample room to hamper a successful product, but in the SaaS age it is the product capability, attractiveness and roadmap that sets up the success trajectory for a vendor. It was good to see Ceridian giving product so much ample room. Likewise it remains clear that Ossip is the intellectual driver behind Dayforce on a strategic level, very few CEOs of a 5000 FTE enterprise know their products on that detail level.

      The good news for Ceridian, its customers and prospects is that the vendor shows solid execution on the product roadmap, and deserves respect for being the first major HCM vendor to lay out a multi year roadmap for product in general and e.g. the Talent Management completion in specific. Given the product progress, that of course Ceridian needs to maintain, the focus shifts to partners, mainly to address implementation capacity and know-how. Good to see Ceridian has the plans in place to address this, but it needs to execute to have more Dayforce implementations run by partners, to reach better economies of scale. The same is key on the go to market side, where Ceridian needs to create traction in Europe – beyond the UK. And an APAC strategy does not seem to be on the drawing boards yet (or I missed it). But having to focus on go to market issues and service delivery capacity is a good sign and a good problem to have, these will be the key areas to watch on how Ceridian makes progress throughout 2015.



      Also on Ceridian
      • Event Report - CeridianINSIGHTS 2014 - Ceridian innovates and adds key functionality - read here
      • First Take - Ceridian INSIGHTS Day 1 Keynote - Top 3 Takeaways - read here
      • Progress Report - Ceridian makes a lot of progress - but the road(map) is long - read here
      • Ceridian transforming itself and with that the game – read here

      And unrelated to Ceridian - but how important payroll can be for HCM innovation:
      • Could the paycheck reinvent 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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      The recent weeks and days have shown a lot of movement in the email space – with IBM announcing Verse and Microsoft buying accompli recently.



      It’s simply fascinating to me that the piece of software being used most by users, spend most time on is still… fundamentally broken. Yes email gets the usage and adoption, but that is largely because we have to use it. Ask anyone if 20, 30, 60 minutes of email have been a joyful experience? Could we come to the point were doing more email makes users happier?

      So some musings on it:

      One size fits all dilemma – The same user interface and interaction paradigm has to work for all users, across all generations of digital proficiency, across all usage expertise and even email volumes. Couldn’t – or even shouldn’t – my email look different when I have to look at 3, 100 or 1000 new emails? Or answer my business vs. my private email? For the amount of time we spend doing email, the user interfaces are remarkably rugged, inflexible and standardized. And while it certainly helps that actions like reply, reply all, forward, etc. are common across all emails systems, it also makes them equally dull to use. It looks like email providers are stuck in the list, detail and common action paradigm. Innovations we saw in the multichannel hype in the early 2000s – like make an email from a selected user a vmail or call to my cell phone – have come and gone.

      UIs are only driven by technology, not user need– The main UI design challenge seems to be how many emails can be listed in the most efficient way. And efficiency (doing things right?) is paramount in email system design. Fair enough as no one has the time to work with an inefficient email system… but the vendors need to ask themselves the question – how is email handled effectively (are we doing the right thing?). If you look at the UI evolution of email clients, it can easily be connected by the advent of larger screen sizes and resolution for workers. The old list to pop-up paradigm is gone and we mostly see the folder / list / one detail email view across the board. Hardly the result of good UI work, but the fruit of cheaper LCD displays…

      Simple things, don’t see much adoption
      – Even simple innovations do not see much adoption. I am sure each / many email systems have tried some innovation, but one of the reasons I use a Blackberry as my smartphone (yes – be shocked) is, that it is more productive to do email on it. And I don’t refer to the keyboard (it’s better – but that’s another post) – the Blackberry email system suggests likely recipients to – me so I don’t have to search for every entry. It also remembers that I file emails from certain recipients, topics always in the same folder and suggests the folder when I want to file the email (Yes I am a ‘filer’ that’s another blog post, too). I am faster filing emails on my Blackberry than in Outlook and Yahoo! – the other two email clients I labor in these days.
      And simple thinks like inviting all recipients of an email to a calendar invite – have all not found themselves in other smartphones (yet). And they may well have – but that e.g. my desktop mail in Outlook doesn’t remember / suggest folders is something that baffles me. How can that be done on a smartphone and not a desktop – baffles baffles me.

      Analytics haven’t proven themselves (yet)– Innovative vendors trying to help us winning the battle with exponentially growing email have come and gone. Remember the ideas and good functionality of XOBNI (Inbox spelled backwards). Not much adoption. And there is some low hanging fruit. Like filtering out the time consuming ‘Yeah’ / ‘Good job’ / ‘Let’s go’ and ‘Thanks’ emails that clutter our inboxes. So that’s not rocket science… Time for vendors to do something…

      Interaction channel silos – There is more communication than email. We meet in person, over video conference, collaborate on shared screens, talk to each other one to one or many etc. etc. But these channels are highly silofied – there is little information salvaged across them. And many / most are initiated by email. Ever witnessed the issue of getting a 10 digit conference call ID typed in when walking through an airport? Mission impossible. Thanks to whoever invented the link to launch something else, but without it – we are back to the stone age of human interaction enablement. And Microsoft has acquired Skype how many years ago? May 2011 it was. And we still can’t smoothly start a video conference from an email with contacts.

      MyPOV

      So why is there so little innovation in email? Measured by the amount of time and eyeballs it gets everyday – email is probably the most neglected application we use, in regards of usability improvements of the last 10+ years. Good to see IBM trying something with Verse – but if it will start an all out email innovation war – I remain skeptical. What’s your view why there is so little innovation in email? Please share…. (and you don’t have to email it!)


      ----------
      More Musings
      • The Dilemma with Cloud Infrrastrcture updates - read here
      • Are we witnessing the Rise of the Enterprise Cloud? Read here
      • What are true Analytics - a Manifesto. Read here
      • Is TransBoarding the Future of Talent Management? Read here
      • How Technology Innovation fuels Recruiting and dsrupts the Laggards - read here
      Find more coverage on the Constellation Research website here.

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      We had the opportunity to attend the yearly Cloudera analyst meeting at the beautiful historic Mark Hopkins hotel in San Francisco. The vendor had a remarkable audience of almost 40 analysts attending, documenting the importance of Cloudera for the BigData market.

      As usual, here are my top 3 takeaways of the event:

      BigData has traction– As we also see in our interactions with enterprises, BigData is a key driver for new investment into next generation applications. CEOs intuitively approve BigData proofs of concepts, trials and projects, as the value proposition for insight applications it tangible: When you merge all the information from sources an enterprise paid many multiples more for than for a BigData project, there is a high likeliness that better insights will result from a merge of all of these data sources in BigData clusters. Cloudera sees a similar growth opportunity, enjoying a 150% growth rate. But with growth come the challenges, and Cloudera needs to grow in its go to market and partner ecosystem dimensions. Not easy to solve, but the management team had the right answers how to tackle these two growth areas in the years to come. To exemplify the scale of the problem, Cloudera on average ramps up two partners and hires two employees on a working day. But these are good problems to have for any software vendor, as it shows solid execution on the product side. When asking about Q&A, the vendor shared that the largest investment on the R&D side currently goes into the quality area certainly a good step and direction,. We see quality concerns and potentially resulting delivery issue as the biggest concerns from CIOs / CTOs around the country – once they have bought into the basic value proposition of BigData.


      Cloudera CEO Tom Reilly talks Intel investment and partnership
      More verticals– During the part of CEO Tom Reilly, he shared that after Cloudera created a CDH and a number of security improvements, it was now time to look at more vertical applications. And the focus industries for the near future are – no surprise – Financial Services and Telco, two of the industries known for larger IT budgets and spend. Cloudera will of course not send away any business of other customers, e.g. keep working with retailers, the government etc. – but there will be more attention and focus to these two industries. Reilly did not make specific announcements – but it is certainly good to see that Cloudera plans to create vertical value propositions for prospects and customers.


       
      The gentleman who started it all... Doug Cutting 

      Partners matter – We heard for many times that we are still in the early times of BigData. The main challenge for Cloudera is to ramp up partners, that leverage the Cloudera products. Cloudera’s sales strategy relies on partners to create value for enterprises, as Cloudera tries to close enterprise wide deals with the CIO / CTO. The next step then is to bring partners in, that leverage the existing Cloudera platform for their products. If partners cannot show / create value for a customer, the TCO of the overall Cloudera solution won’t be favorable, so Cloudera’s success stands and falls with the value proposition partner can bring to the table.


      Brave 7 Cloudera Execs in Analyst Q&A

      MyPOV


      An insightful analyst summit by Cloudera, that I had to leave early unfortunately, so baring the one to ones that happened next day, it is clear that Cloudera has made a lot of progress and probably maneuvered itself into a leading position in the BigData space. The vendor has added significant functionality and has an ambitious product agenda for the next 18 months. The strategic question for the vendor is – will a leading position on the database side be enough to let Cloudera earn the fruits of its work, or does the vendor have to move in the PaaS and maybe analytical SaaS applications space. Right now that is a partnering opportunity, but we know that historically PaaS and SaaS vendors command multiples of the database vendors in share of wallet. The good news is, that the Cloudera executives are aware of the risk and know they need to keep an eye on the PaaS and analytical SaaS applications space. Or in other works: Enterprises use Cloudera to build next generation applications – the vendor needs to be close to the use cases and make sure it keeps a large enough piece of the overall enterprise spending. 



      More posts on the BigData / OpenSource space:
      • News Analysis - Pivotal pivots to Open Source and Hortonworks - or: Open Source always wins - read here
      • Market Move - Oracle buys Datalogix - moves into DaaS - read here
      • News Analysis - SAP commits to CloudFoundry and OpenStack - Key Steps - but what is the direction? Read here
      • Event Report - MongoDB is a showcase for the power of Open Source in the enterprise - read here
      • Musings - A manifesto: What are 'true' analytics? Read here
      • Musings - The Era of the no-design Database - Read here
      • Musings - Time to ditch your datawarehouse .... - Read here

      Find more coverage on the Constellation Research website here.

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      We are attending ADP’s Meeting of the Minds (MOTM) in Nashville. The conference is well attended, targeted at ADP’s North American national accounts, with over 1100 client attendees from over 550 clients.
       



      So here are my top three takeaways

      No change in the vision– It was good to see that ADP CEO Carlos Rodriguez used the same slide to walk the audience through the ADP HCM vision. It spans from Recruiting to Retirement with a focus on client’s largest investment, challenge and opportunity – people. Keeping the vision stable is key for a number or reason – as customers need to understand and endorse it, product development takes time etc. so good to see.

       
      2014 ADP Roadmap
      ADP CEO Rodriguez with the 2015 ADP Roadmap


      UI & Analytics– ADP made announcements in both the User Interface and Analytics space a year ago and did a good job following up with customer testimonials that it has delivered on these. The most impactful is probably the new practitioner user interface – exposing more of the new functionality ADP has created to the HR professionals. 


       
      Cambern presents the (still WIP) Practitioner UI


      New ways of analyzing data– Probably the biggest announcement was ADP Data Cloud – allowing to bring together both internal ADP and external data for better insights. ADP did not share technical details on the keynote – and you can bet we will dig deeper during the conference – but if ADP gets this right – it will make a huge impact for their customers.

       
      Masiero introduced the ADP Data Cloud


      MyPOV

      A good kickoff for the MOTM conference – with a lot of time spend showing that ADP has delivered on its premises, always a good development. But also good to see that ADP is not stopping here – and continues to innovate. We will try to look into more of the announcements in the next days –stay tuned.

      No time to read? Check out my 2 minute update on Youtube via Meerkat: 



      More on ADP

      • Progress Report - ADP shows great vision, delivers product innovation - now it needs adoption - read here
      • 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.

      Find more coverage on the Constellation Research website here.

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      On March 24th Pivotal announced that it will support deployments to Amazon Web Services (AWS) per ‘one click’ from its Cloud Foundry product.




      So let’s dissect the press release in the usual news analysis format – the press released can be found here:

      SAN FRANCISCO – March 24, 2015 – ​Pivotal​®, the creators of Cloud Foundry®, today announced that it will provide supported access to Pivotal Web Services, which includes cloud infrastructure, to enterprise subscription customers of ​Pivotal Cloud Foundry​®, the company’s cloud native application platform. Pivotal Cloud Foundry now includes one-click Amazon Web Services (AWS) installation integration, delivering Amazon customers the simplest path to their own dedicated Cloud Foundry platform on AWS. With today’s news, the industry’s ​fastest growing open source product​ ever extends its hybrid cloud offering with enterprise integration for hosted, public, and private clouds.

       
      Pivotal Momentum in 2014

      MyPOV – This is an important step for Cloud Foundry customers, who – after building their next generation applications in the product want to deploy these applications to different cloud platforms. With AWS Pivotal picked the obvious market leader for public cloud and has taken an important first step in the direction of being able to deploy Cloud Foundry built application to more cloud infrastructures. It will be interesting to see what Pivotal’s next steps will be, though likely it will be in the direction of OpenStack.

      “With the latest Pivotal Cloud Foundry release, Pivotal becomes the first major middleware vendor to include managed public cloud capacity in a software subscription at no additional cost,” said James Watters, vice president and general manager, Cloud Platform Group at Pivotal. “By offering hosted public cloud along with dedicated self-install on either public or private clouds, Pivotal Cloud Foundry provides the instant-on affordable capacity ​Line of Business (LOB)​ executives need with the robust security and automation features IT can also bring to private clouds. With today’s release, LOB and IT can finally agree on a single platform.”

      MyPOV – If Pivotal can create peace for LOB vs IT discussions and conflicts of interest remains to be seen – but this step gives Cloud Foundry customers more choices of deployment, and more choice gives more flexibility. And it is this flexibility customers need and want to deploy their next generation applications.

      Delivering the One Cloud Platform Both Business and IT Can Agree On
      LOB executives have championed the use of Pivotal’s hosted services, often in combination with Pivotal Labs agile development, to quickly deliver new digital products. IT executives value Pivotal Cloud Foundry’s ability to also run on private infrastructure. With our new hybrid cloud ready subscriptions LOB developers can start immediately on AWS while their private cloud build-outs complete, or run there entirely.

       

      MyPOV – Pivotal raises an interesting point here – that enterprises can win time, use e.g. AWS for development and test – while the private cloud gets ramped up. Certainly a possible scenario – but what we have found in practice is, that for most next generation application use cases, enterprises cannot pull these apps back into private cloud as they need the elasticity of the public cloud to successfully run them.

      Delivering AWS Customers the Best Path to Cloud Foundry
      Today’s release also brings AWS virtual appliance support for Pivotal Cloud Foundry. With this feature, AWS customers can now natively deploy Cloud Foundry applications in hours on their AWS infrastructure. This complete hybrid cloud support lets operators migrate Cloud Foundry applications freely between public and private clouds, regardless of their underlying infrastructure.


      MyPOV – This is a key value add with this Cloud Foundry release. The next logical question will be if Cloud Foundry applications can be logically partitioned across private and public cloud, allowing high utilization for private cloud resources and ‘bursting’ to the public cloud as needed. But one step at the time. First you need the capabilities of this release, or you need to walk before you can run.

      Delivering Pivotal Cloud Foundry with the Cloud Infrastructure Included
      Today, Pivotal customers can setup Pivotal Cloud Foundry under their own AWS account, or let Pivotal manage an AWS instance on their behalf by taking advantage of our new Pivotal Web Services with Enterprise Support. This new edition of Pivotal Cloud Foundry offers hosted application instances under a customer’s existing license at no extra cost. Pivotal Web Services is ideal for rapid deployments and avoids the administrative overhead of managing a public cloud infrastructure.

      Pivotal Multi-Cloud Support Reality & Plans
      MyPOV – Again Pivotal gives Cloud Foundry customers choice and choice is a good thing for customers. Allowing customers to either setup Cloud Foundry on their own account or have Pivotal do that for them gives customers more deployment choices. It will be interesting to see if Pivotal can support that duality for the next public cloud infrastructures that it will support. By then we will know also which deployment customers prefer overall or for which kind of projects.

      Overall MyPOV

      As easy PaaS vendors have made it for enterprises to build next generation application, it remains still hard for them to deploy these applications. Cloud infrastructure evolves rapidly and for enterprises to stay on top of them all the way to deploying their applications efficiently – is a huge challenge. Pivotal’s move makes it easier for enterprises to focus on their applications and how they can transform their business in the age of globalization and digital disruption – which is already a lot for enterprises to handle.

      For Pivotal it means that the vendor now needs to create adoption and then deliver further public cloud deployment options. Issuing a roadmap on the next milestones is always something welcome by prospects, customers and the ecosystem. But as mentioned before – one step after another – you need to stand before you can walk, walk before you can run. Congrats to Pivotal for a key move making new PaaS investments deployed more easily to the (public) cloud.


      More on Pivotal

      • News Analysis - Pivotal pivots to OpenSource and Hortonworks - Or: OpenSource keeps winning - read here

      More on NextGeneration Applications::
      • Progress Report - Cloudera is all in with Hadoop - now off to verticals - read here
      • First Take - SAP Cloud for Planning - The next spreadsheet killer is off to a good start - read here
      • Market Move - Oracle buys Datalogix - moves into DaaS - read here
      • News Analysis - SAP commits to CloudFoundry and OpenStack - Key Steps - but what is the direction? Read here
      • Event Report - MongoDB is a showcase for the power of Open Source in the enterprise - read here
      • Musings - A manifesto: What are 'true' analytics? Read here
      • Future of Work - One Spreadsheet at the time - Informatica Springbok - read here
      • Musings - The Era of the no-design Database - Read here
      • Mendix - the other path to build software - read here
      • Musings - Time to ditch your datawarehouse .... - Read here
      Find more coverage on the Constellation Research website here.

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      We had the opportunity to attend the 2015 edition of ADP’s Meeting of the Minds user conference, which is targeted to the large enterprise customers of ADP. The conference was very well attended, with over 1500+ client participants from over 700+ customers. The event took place in Nashville at the Gaylord Opryland Hotel – a definitive alternative to the Las Vegas and Orlando hotels.
       


      Here are my top 3 takeaways from the conference (and checkout my First Take of Day #1 here):

      Stay the course - While last year’s MOTM (read here) was all about ADP laying out the roadmap to a better future for its customers, with innovations around mobile and the paycheck and a beautiful new user interface (UI) - this year’s MOTM was all about delivery record and staying the course. As mentioned earlier, ADP did a good job in the opening keynote showing how the vendor announced innovations around ACA, Analytics and UI and has delivered on them: Each of the three areas was shown with live and video testimonial – nothing is better than hearing it straight from a customer. And the references were authentic, convincing - and most unusual for the traditional customers of the ‘old’ ADP – excited about what they are using and have rolled out. 


       
      All 4 ADP Businesses with key stats

      Affordable Care Act (ACA) - No surprise - ADP has delivered on its ACA announcements, wrapped into the ‘Health Compliance’ product. The screens and system are well designed, easy to use and when talking to practitioners they liked them and said they very helpful in day to day operations. What remains clear is that the average large enterprise is still in the process of making sense of the ACA and its implementation, with whole customer delegations visiting MOTM for the whole purpose of better understanding the ACA. At the same time it became clear during the conference what high level of distraction this is for enterprises and to what large amount it takes their attention and resources away from ultimately more strategic topics, like people development, talent management etc.
       
      Screenshot of ADP Health Compliance Portal

      All coming together in 2015 - Another insight was that things are coming together for ADP in the next two quarters. The vendor did not say it as explicitly in the keynotes as they could have / should have (or I may have missed it) - but all the work around the new UI, creating a middleware platform, encapsulating APIs is coming to a conclusion with the ADP fall releases. And coming to an end of a 10+ years journey, with a number of product launches and an even greater number of acquisitions during that time - it is a major achievement that ADP customers can now use almost all of ADP HCM functionality in a single, modern UI. IT teams, partners and consultants will appreciate a single API based architecture. And with developer.adp.com and marketplace.adp.com, ADP has done a lot of progressive steps, uncharacteristic of the ADP of old - to make all technical work around its products significantly easier. So 2015 is a key year from ADP from a product perspective, time for customers to notice.

       
      Camby shows new Manager Portal

      Analyst Tidbits

      • Data Cloud - ADP shared its new Data Cloud offering, and it the latest effort of the vendor to bring business intelligence to both business users and HR professionals. ADP has built an attractive front end and even more importantly has changed the backend of the system to a modern Hadoop enabled architecture. And it is open for non HR data - which is key to really understand performance – right from the first version. Even more importantly the system is ready for more relevant (and interesting) ‘real’ analytics use case. 
      Masiero presents Cloud Stats
      • Global - ADP keeps investing into its global capabilities bringing together its GlobalView and Streamline products even more. Today ADP addresses 95%+ of multinational employees, pays 11M global employees and offers payroll in 104 countries. 

      • Developer.adp.com - ADP debuted the site last year - but either I missed the expansion then – or it has done much more to make it easier for developers from 3rd parties to understand and use its APIs. An example other vendors should take note of. 
      Screenshot from dp.developer.com - Payroll APIs

      • New Head of Product - Last year long tenured CIO Michael Capone left ADP, and recently ADP appointed long term veteran Stuart Sackman to be the new Head of Product. We had the chance to meet with Sackman, he shared his plans for the development organization and we can say from our first impression that product development is in good hands. Also good to see that the ‘new’ ADP got rid of the ‘CIO’ title, and ‘Product’ has made its way into Sackman’s title. Sackman’s last responsibility was ADP’s Multinational Solutions business and it’s good to see an executive at the helm of products who understands globalization first hand. But Sackman has been almost ‘everywhere’ during his 22+ career at ADP – so good for ADP to have a product leader who knows all facets of the ADP business.


      MyPOV

      It easily gets seen as ‘boring’ from an analyst perspective if no major new announcements are being made, but as a former product developer, I appreciate the steady state, as this is when good things happen for customers, as ultimately value is being created. Good software is like wine, it takes time to mature, and ADP is on track to bring its innovations across its vast product suite. Gone will be the days of inconsistent UIs that troubled users, different architectures that hampered consultants and irritated IT professionals – so with all major product issues being addressed, it’s time for the ADP leadership to consider more bold moves on the go to market side.

      I had the chance to ask CEO Carlos Rodriguez where he wants to see ADP in 3 years from now. In his candid character Rodriguez answered that he would like to see more product unification, the vendor finding ways to lower its cost base and continuing the visons of technology enabled services, with the emphasis a little more on the ‘T’ than on the ‘S’. Overall a very candid and fair assessment in my view.

      The key developments to watch with ADP is no longer if ADP can build a great and competitive product, but if ADP can change its market image from payroll / compliance to overall HCM player. This is a significant marketing positioning challenge that not only needs heavy lifting in marketing, but also in sales, delivery and the partner ecosystem. When ADP stresses more of the ‘T’ in technology enabled services, it may not as well be able to partner with almost any player in the HCM market as it does today – but may rough some feathers as ADP’s ambition is more than being a payroll / compliance vendor / provider. When the executive team starts that process and with how much pressure on the gas pedal, will be something we will follow keenly. For the longest time ADP’s issues have been around product, but those times are clearly becoming part of its history. Exciting times ahead for ADP customers, prospects, partners and ADP employees. Tough decision with delicate timing for Rodriguez and team.



      More on ADP

      • First Take - ADP Meeting of the Minds - Day #1 Keynote - read here
      • Progress Report - ADP shows great vision, delivers product innovation - now it needs adoption - read here
      • 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.

      Find more coverage on the Constellation Research website here.

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      We have the opportunity to attend Ultimate Software’s user conference #UltiConnect in Las Vegas. The conference is well attended, with a record 2400 attendees. 



      So let’s look at the top 3 takeaways

      Ultimate and NetSuite partner – This certainly came as a surprise – but as NetSuite CEO Zach Nelson and Ultimate CTO Adam Rogers positioned it – it’s all about helping customers to be more successful. And vendor built integration is actually highly valued by enterprises. So a good partnership for both vendors – we will now have to dive more into the details. It also questions what this partnership means for the Oracle / NetSuite HCM partnership (read here) and the TribeHR positioning of NetSuite (here are my acquisition notes). It certainly means that NetSuite has realized that to stay competitive in the HCM market – more investment is needed than the vendor may want to put in today – and so the team at NetSuite decided to partner. (And here is my SuiteWorld event report).

      Adam Rogers open UltiConnect
      Roadmap– Ultimate shared the roadmap plans for 2016 and we need to look more into a lot of details – but it looks like the heavy hitters are a new Workforce Management solution, more global capabilities (UltiPro just added German and Dutch), Payroll enhancements, and more integration and configuration capabilities. 
       
      UltimatePro 2016 Roadmap

      Analytics– Ultimate is no exception at putting more ‘true’ analytics into HCM (more here). It was great to see Rogers starting with analytic functionalities being the first to list on new functionalities recently added. And equally analytics are the key additions Ultimate plans to add to its Talent Management capabilities in 2015 / 2016 as Cecile Alper Leroux shared.
       
      And the beyond 2016 UltPro Roadmap

      MyPOV

      A great start of Ultimate’s UltiConnect conference – more meetings and briefings to follow today – so stay tuned for the event report.


      No time to read - check out my Meerkat capture of the product highlights: 



      More on Ultimate from me:
      • Event Report - Ultimate's UltiConnect - Off to a great start, but the road(map) is long - read here.
      • First Take – 3 Key Takeaways from Ultimate’s UltiConnect Conference Day 1 keynote – read here.
      More on NetSuite here:
      • Event Report - NetSuite powers on with targeted innovation - read here
      • Why NetSuite acquired TribeHR - read here
      • Act III the cloud changes everything - Oracle and NetSuite with a touche of Deloitte - read here
      • Act III and final day - A tale of two conferences - Sapphire and SuiteWorld - read here
      • The middle day - 2 keynotes and press releases - Sapphire and SuiteWorld - read here
      • A tale of 2 keynotes and press releases - Sapphire and SuiteWorld - read here
      Find more coverage on the Constellation Research website here.


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      We have the opportunity to attend Oracle’s 2nd overall dedicated HCM event – that is taking place in Maryland this year. The event is well attended – but I have not been able to get to any official attendance statistic.



      So here are my takeaways:

      Oracle committed to HCM – from top down
      – Similar like last year Mark Hurd opened the event, which is a good sign showing the top executives are committed to keep up the HCM momentum. To compare – other vendors in the big, big category (SAP, Microsoft) have not shown the same presence – or not even formulated their HCM strategy. And Hurd has gotten remarkably better in the last 12 months on explaining HR relevant drivers, making Oracle a showcase of the overall challenge (having to interview about 60k candidates per year) and explaining technology to the HR professional. And Hurd is one of the few CEOs that is not afraid to take live questions from the audience. 

      Hurd presenting in his unique stage off style
       Partner Keynote - The partner keynote from by Dan Staley from Price Waterhouse was solid – but the usual partner keynote. I wonder when the big partner keynote will be re-invented – away from the attempt to show ‘unique’ though leadership – which usually fails – to some real world implementation benefits and differentiators that help the audience to select the right partner. There is value for a partner in having prospects realize that they are not the right ones for that specific partner as it keeps the cost of sales down. 

      Staley on why enterprises move to cloud
      Motivational Speaker – Condolezza Rice came and spoke and delivered a great keynote - as to be expected with insights during her government tenure. 

      MyPOV 

      A good start for Oracle's HCM World - following the typical format of executive, partner and motivational speaker. Apart from Hurd, the really interesting things will come with Chris Leone tomorrow - I hope. 

      ----------

      Here is my Meerkat capture of the keynote  - it's Meerkat quality:



      Future of Work / HCM / SaaS research:
      • Progress Report - Oracle HCM gathers momentum - now it needs to build on that - read here
      • 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.
      Also worth a look for the full picture
      • News Analysis - Oracle discovers the power of the two socket server - or: A pivot that wasn't one - TCO still rules - read here
      • Market Move - Oracle buys Datalogix - moves more into DaaS - read here
      • Event Report - Oracle Openworld - Oracle's vision and remaining work become clear - they are both big - read here
      • Constellation Research Video Takeaways of Oracle Openworld 2014 - watch here
      • 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
      Find more coverage on the Constellation Research website here.

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