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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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    This morning we had the opportunity to attend the Day #2 keynote at Sapphire in Orlando. It was the traditional product day with both Bernd Leukert and Steve Singh on stage.

    So here are my Top3 takeaways

    Decision Support / Simulation for Manufacturing– Leukert did a good job talking about the qualities of S4HANA. Even better to show a demo, and it was about a manufacturing scenario. Not sure how relevant the demo was for the audience, but the capability to simulate and support decisions is a key quality for next generation applications. It is good to see SAP focus on those two aspects and even better to demo them. Now we need to understand how these capabilities can be brought to the broad range of its enterprise offerings.

    The three leitmotivs of the  Leukert Keynote

    HANA Cloud Platform (HCP) for IoT– In a bold move Leukert positioned HCP (HANA Cloud Platform) as the platform for IoT, maintaining that the platform is ready and ‘has everything you need ‘ for IoT. The differentiator – no surprise – is the tight integration into the business applications. I have been critical of SAP’s IoT efforts due to HANA in memory cost and inability to address IoT scale BigData (see here) – but read on for the next takeaway

    Did SAP over promise? 25 Industries - on premise?

    Hadoop / Spark to coexist with HANA!?– In about a minute Leukert talked about the most impactful announcement of this Sapphire – that SAP will make HANA work with Hadoop / Spark in the 2nd half of 2015. The impact is huge for SAP customers and SAP as the vendor till this point had a rocky relationship with BigData qualities (think Vs like volume, velocity et.). Yes there are and were the Sybase connectors, but the risk was that HANA would ‘just’ be a fas tcache that slowly but steady was going to be replaced by Spark and other Hadoop native in memory technologies. SAP is – maybe soon was – at the losing end of a trend of customers using BigData technologies for their next generation application projects, especially in the IoT use case. As blogged before none of our customers and other project we are aware off are using HANA (or a similar in memory database system) to run the operational store for IoT scale data. So more details needed – but a BigBreakthrough (spelling pun intended) for SAP, if it gets this right.

    What - HANA, Hadoop and Spark on one SAP slide?!


    A good Day #2 keynote that traditionally is focused more on product. At times I thought SAP gave too much room to customers – usually a good thing – but today it was at the cost of missing vital details. Though a geeky topic – only one minute on HANA / Hadoop plans was too short and SAP missed the opportunity to dissuade any viability concerns around e.g. IoT to a wide keynote audience. SAP could /should have also done more around PaaS / HCP in my view – and no word about data center strategy / rollout. Tough to be a cloud company that wants to be in the cloud and not mention anything in these regards.

    Lastly I am worried that SAP overstated the scope and capability of S/4HANA – wondering how all 25 industry code can be available just 3 months after launch. These are millions of lines of code – and to bring them all to the qualities Plattner postulated at the launch 3 months ago seems… impossible (read my take here). But we hope to learn more in the next two days and promise to keep you posted!

    And more on overall SAP strategy and products:

    • News Analysis - SAP and IBM join forces ... read here
    • First Take - SAP Sapphire Bill McDermott Day #1 Keynote - read here
    • In Depth - S/4HANA qualities as presented by Plattner - play for play - read here
    • First Take - SAP Cloud for Planning - the next spreadsheet killer is off to a good start - read here
    • 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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    We had the opportunity to attend the Oracle HCM Analyst Summit in Redwood Shores recently. This was the largest analyst attendance ever for an Oracle HCM Cloud event and it is a proof point for Oracle momentum as well as the vendor’s investment in the HCM space. 

    There was a lot of information, as usual at analyst summits, not easy to find the Top 3- but here you go:

    Oracle has the Essentials down now– For quite some time the Oracle HCM products had to focus to get the basics right – not just on the product side, but also on the go to market and services side. Apparently this is now addressed with Oracle HCM, which has doubled the number of Core HR customers and live Core HR customers. Global customers have passed 700+.

    For the longest time the consensus in the analyst community was that Oracle HCM would mainly attract existing Oracle customers from the Install Base, but with over 50% of Cloud HCM customers being new to Oracle, that’s not the case either anymore. At the same time we have no account of Oracle HCM implementations going bad, which is quite a feat, given the growth numbers and the related training and scaling issues in the services of both Oracle and partners.

    On the product side Oracle practices good housekeeping. For instance its Performance Management module was one of the older members of the Talent Management family and Oracle has recently undertaken user experience improvements and built a new mobile application. Oracle as well keeps adding depth to its products, e.g. the vendor has improved its Workforce Modelling capabilities, its Compensation functionality (e.g. Matrix Planning) and is improving Time and Labor usability. 
    Oracle HCM Cloud Momentum

    Differentiation Grows– And when you have the basics right, you have time to work on differentiation. A year ago Oracle had created the Competition functionality, and had all HCM World 2014 attendees count steps with Fitbits. What then was a ‘cute’ addition to the core HCM functionality has now grown into a sizeable group of differentiating applications that flank the traditional HCM applications. Oracle calls them the ‘Tools for the Digital Workforce’ and they are

    • My Reputation – A product that understands the social reputation and influence of employees.

    • My Wellness – A product that motivates employees to do the right thing for their health.
    • My Competitions – A product that can align and reward desired behavior with competitions.
    • Career Development – A product that balances employee ambitions and manager contributions to employee careers. 

    • Learning – A new Learning system (see launch here) that is built for the digital / social age. 

    The combination of the above 5 products give Oracle the opportunity to have a different conversation with prospects than the competition and create value for existing Oracle HCM customers. If it is enough differentiation already will be seen by the live customers and references in a few quarters. More advanced products like My Reputation may face a healthy dose of skepticism in some organizations, but you have to build the product first to address them and then ideally overcome them.

    On another differentiation track, Oracle has been adding more vertical capabilities to the HCM products, more prominently collective bargaining agreements and seniority management. Deeper industry functionality has been a differentiator for enterprise software since decades, but vendors can only build vertical functionality once the basics are right, that Oracle can deliver more vertical capabilities is an indication for the vendor having the basics right at this point.

    Oracle HCM Release 10 Themes 

    Some concerns remain– Despite the remarkable progress by Oracle in the HCM field there are a few concerns that remain – namely the following ones:

    • Oracle has done a lot of work on the UI side, and the scan, glance, commit paradigm is powerful, but needs some new clothes on some screens. UI innovation is in full out gallop, and new UI concepts show their age after 2-3 quarters, not after 2-3 years (as it was in the past).
    • Oracle HCM still operated in the bi-modal world of new Oracle HCM products and remaining Taleo functionality. And while the UI harmonization that Oracle has done goes to great length for combined users, our main concern is that Oracle may miss the recruiting revolution that is currently under way. 
    • The most fundamental and game changing functionality for enterprise software is (true) analytics (more here). And while Oracle talks a good reporting, visualization and recommendation engine story, it does have little true analytics offerings today. 

    But then the Oracle HCM product team recently surprised us with a brand new Learning module, in a team of 2000+ developers you can also build functionality (e.g. addressing some of the above concerns or others) and surprise the analyst community once available. Surprise us once, shame on you, surprise us twice, shame on us. 

    My POV

    Overall great progress by Oracle in the HCM area. Despite the UI comments above, Oracle HCM users are probably enjoying the best Oracle HCM UI ever, with a remarkable consistency across user types, devices and form factors. Functionality is getting deeper and richer, and Oracle even has the resources to work on differentiating products. Go to market activities and services seem to be on track to keep up with the growth, so Oracle is in a good position to grow and gain market share in the very competitive HCM market. The balance between new functionality and good housekeeping will be key in the next release. We will be watching. 

    More on Oracle:

    Future of Work / HCM / SaaS research:
    • Event Report - Oracle HCM World - Full Steam ahead, a Learning surprise and potential growth challenges - read here
    • First Take - Oracle HCM World Day #1 Keynote - off to a good start - read here
    • 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 - Oracle makes good cloud progress - but key work remains in the cellar - read here
    • 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 - 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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    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


    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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    SAP invited me to attend Sapphire and I gladly attended the conference in Orlando. I missed the attendance number, but I’d say it was the same like last year. The exhibitor area of the show floor was even more dense, so more partner interest, spend and investment than last year (my guestimate). 

    Earlier I already published my Day 1, Day 2 Keynote takeaways (here and here) and a News Analysis of the SAP and IBM partnership in the HCM area (here). Preparing for this post I also read my Event Reports of Sapphire 2014 (attended, here) and Sapphire 2013 (from the fences, here). If you have 10 minutes to invest, both blogs provide a very good perspective on what SAP’s challenges were, which ones SAP has tackled and which ones remain. 

    Leukert and The Journey

    3 Top Positives

    SAP cozied up with BigData – or – Hadoop is no longer a bad word– For the longest time other database technologies were bad words at SAP. It was (and still is mostly) HANA, HANA … as I have said, tweeted, blogged and written research about, that put SAP at the losing end of next generation applications opportunity. First ignoring, not working, then co-existing with Hadoop made SAP not a viable provider for 21st century use cases (think IoT, Internet harvesting, Social Media, DaaS etc.) because the volume of business relevant information grows faster than memory chip prices fall. So it was never viable to have ‘all’ information in memory. The co-existence scenarios that SAP adopted fell short because there is always some key data in the BigData clusters that a next gen application needs to get to very, very fast. And data can’t be moved, as it’s too massive, hence we see the micro-services boom. With some projection and benevolent fantasy we can now assume that SAP is finding a way to combine HANA and Hadoop (likely via Spark as it was on Leukert’s slides) in a coherent way, running queries (natively?) across clusters. More from SAP to come but this too me was the (a bit geeky, ok) the #1 takeaway from Sapphire. 

    Leukert with probably most important Sapphire Slide

    SAP can’t stop here and needs more of an outside in perspective on this topic, e.g. it’s not only about getting the BigData back into ERP to HANA, it’s more about getting the ERP relevant data closer to the BigData. With that SAP can really play in next generation application scenarios. IoT being the most prominent one. Siemens selecting SAP for IoT is a key platform and reference win, and my guess is that Siemens also helped this new development [as Siemens’ IOT platform relies heavily on Hadoop.] And while most Sapphire attendees and decision makers may not have realized and may not build these applications (yet) – it is key that they know that their application provider, SAP, is now (more) future proof. 

    Clark with other DBs than HANA

    S/4HANA – The future is clear – or – Are we there yet? How do we get there?– There can be no doubt that S/4HANA is the future for SAP, featured prominently in all keynotes. It is very positive for SAP to rebuild its applications for the 21st century, for the cloud, as SAP described in the S/4HANA launch in January this year (see my First Hand blog here). And SAP is working very fast (maybe too fast – see the concern below) in adding more to S4/HANA than the ‘founding’ member Simple Finance. With the Fiori UI S4/HANA has a compelling and modern UI, in a Q&A Platter remarked that this was the first time he walked the show floor and did not see any SAP GUI, WebDynPro et al interfaces. 

    Leukert with S/4HANA Cloud Edition and 25 on premise Industries

    Truly good news for SAP customers, as usability of ERP applications in general and SAP in specific are a traditional challenge. And Leukert surprised regular audit and pundits with the announcement that the newly announced S/4HANA Cloud Edition (see press release here) will include (beyond Finance) Sales, Services, Manufacturing, Supply Chain, R&D and Engineering, Asset Management, Sourcing & Procurement and Sustainability. Looks very much like the mySAP ERP scope. Not enough with that, Leukert shared that all 25 verticals that SAP has built now ‘run’ in S/4HANA. That is an amazing scope and a very fast delivery (though only the vertical code is available now). SAP did not share publicly what will be available and when. What we know is, that the Cloud Edition of S/4HANA should see quarterly new releases and that the roadmap is available to SAP customers on the Service Marketplace. When asked in the executive Q&A Leukert explained how SAP got here so fast: When Simple Finance began, SAP copied ‘all the code’ (from my SAP ERP, ECC 6 – not clear / known to me what the source was) to the new development environment. After the S/4HANA launch the development teams have worked hard to make sure that the 25 industry code ‘runs’ with S/4HANA. ‘Runs’ means that the system will not crash, and works, but it is also not optimized for usage of HANA as the database, the products don’t have a Fiori UI, they are not simplified and augmented with modern best practices. 

    Plattner TCO case for HANA and S/4HANa
    All these aforementioned qualities (from Plattner’s list at the launch – see my play for play here) are gatekeeper to make it from S/4HANA on premise (or as managed instance by SAP) to the S/4HANA Cloud edition. Effectively that means that these qualities will come first to the cloud edition and then to the other editions (no commitment made for timelines). But it is probably fair to observe that not every addition / new product SAP builds on S/4HANA cloud edition may be able to run in the S/4HANA on premise edition. A lot of very quick product creation by SAP, so kudos, for the flipside read below in the Concerns section. 

    SAP gets viable in IoT – or – (Hadoop) Data is the new gravity - SAP has been talking since summer last year about becoming an IoT player – read my first take here– but the concerns in regards of Hadoop being the operative data store for pretty much every serious IoT project out there was limiting SAP’s potential. With the announced (see press release here) and pending ‘embrace and extend’ (hope Microsoft doesn’t mind the re-use) of Hadoop / Spark that concern is gone. But it’s not just the database, enterprises need a development platform, and that is HANA Cloud Platform (HCP), basically SAP’s PaaS (First Take here). It is good that SAP is looking at all assets it can bring to the table, and good to see the mention of the venerable SQL Anywhere product, probably the best choice in the market when a ‘thing’ needs to run offline for some time. Now it will be key to watch that SAP can sign up similar caliber customers like Siemens, so the IoT / HCP platform does not get influenced too much by Siemens (long, long term SAP insiders will appreciate the deja-vu). But for now it is great to see an industrial heavyweight put is fate onto SAP / HCP. Moreover it is good to see SAP speaks more about HCP, though the statement that SAP cannot build all new applications and that therefore HCP is crucial was a comment made behind closed doors.

    Leukert preps for IoT part with Siemens

    Top 3 Concerns

    Where there is light there is also shadow, so here are my Top3 concerns.

    S/4HANA – changing the engines while the plane is flying - As we pointed out already last year (see here) there are 2 fundamental approaches how to build a massive new enterprise suite, while customer are live and using the previous generation. 

    • Isolation of the new - One approach is to build the new suite in a separate effort, sometimes even isolated in management, examples for that are Oracle Fusion, the new Infor Financials and HCM or closer to SAP byDesign. From a technology perspective this is easier, as the vendor isolates the efforts. Commercially the approach is a challenge, as the vendor needs to fund the new development, maintain the existing products and keep the install base as clean as possible from inroads by competitors. 

    • Innovate as you go - The other approach is to gradually move things to the new platform over time (this is what SAP is doing with S/4HANA). The commercial advantage is that the vendor can commercialize the new product right away (e.g. a SAP customer buying Simple Finance), try to declare technology innovation victory (e.g. ‘we are in the cloud’). On the technology and implementation side things are a little harder as integration between new and previous version needs to be re-shuffled every new release of the new platform. And that is what SAP has announced to do with S4/HANA. Multiple version of integration need to be maintained and supported as customers maybe on different versions between new and old. 

    SAP has ten thousands of engineers and with Leukert a leader who understand the above very well. Coupled with the good quality track record (all is relative of course) SAP can pull this off, no question. The hard cold fact is, that SAP probably did not have a fair choice between the two approaches, as it did not really succeed with the first approach. With McDermott certainly SAP has more of a commercial leader than with Kagermann back then, so equally no surprise how the dices have fallen. And it will be back to McDermott and the sales team to evangelize, explain and monetize the approach taken with customers. No doubt they can do it, but concerns can pop up along the way. 

    For instance that SAP could not present a live S/4HANA customer on stage at Sapphire. It was great to have an international customer on stage (Indian paints vendor asianpaints), but the enterprise go live is near (May or June) so still ahead. It was good for SAP not roll out its own Finance team again (already on stage 2014) and later we learnt that Constellation SuperNova award winner Florida Crystals (for adoption of HANA, more here) is live on S/4HANA. Maybe the sugar maker did not carry enough brand recognition to be on stage, or maybe wasn’t comfortable to speak to a broad global audience. To be fair of course, S/4HANA is only around since a little more than 3 months. But SAP has ten thousands of customers and considerable resources to pour into customer adoption and evangelism. This situation can only get better.

    The HCP In Clark's presentation

    Value Proposition Change – From integrated core to a temporarily networked core - The traditional SAP customer has bought into the vision and then experienced the value proposition of an integrated suite. SAP itself changed that with the advent of the separate mySAP xxx systems (CRM, SCM, SRM, PLM etc.). In the recent years SAP has re-integrated some of these, e.g. mySAP PLM into what was then mySAP ERP, now the Business Suite. But there was always a ‘core’ (and SAP calls S/4HANA again the core, trendily the digital core) of integrated automation. Now for the first time in SAP product history that core will – step by step – over the next years – migrate of the S4/HANA cloud edition. One can argue that there is not much of a difference of SAP maintaining interfaces between e.g. R/3 and mySAP CRM, or today between BusinessSuite and Cloud for Customer. But the economics and mechanics in the cloud age are different for cloud based enterprise software. They are implemented differently, upgraded more frequently – on the flipside they don’t offer the deep configuration and customization we have seen in the on premise era. So to see how SAP will keep customers happy in the transition to S/4HANA Cloud Edition will be an interesting development to keep an eye on. 

    SAP will say that customers can stay on premise for S/4HANA, too – but new development is likely to be seen and run in the S/4HANA Cloud Edition. It will be interesting to see when SAP customers will move ‘in bulk’ to S/4HANA Cloud Edition. SAP certainly wants customers to move there – customers will seek re-assurances of adoption, quality and functional richness. But at the core is the integrated suite value proposition that was always the main value proposition (and differentiator) of SAP. How well SAP can make it through that transition will be key for its own and its customers’ success.
    The largest tall ship built the Koebenhavn

    21st century best practices - Or – the history of ship building applied to enterprise software – For the longest time mankind would cross waters in wooden, wind powered ships. 150 or so years ago iron became available in quality, quantity and price to build ships from it, including a steam engine. The new technology of ship building required new skills in the shipyards, and very little could be saved over from the wooden era. We see a similar change in technology today, were for the first time since mankind does computing, the computing capabilities surpass what business best practice require. The consequences are many, but one of them is that 21st business best practices are changing very quickly right in front of us. And the early adopters do as well as the first warriors with iron swords did against those with bronze swords. Or in other words, enterprises clinging to old business best practices will disappear quickly. Digital Transformation is not kind to laggards. This is a challenge for all enterprise software vendors: To react fast enough and built these practices into their software, this is not exclusive to SAP as a challenge. But for the first time enterprise software vendors need to show thought leadership and can’t rely on customer advisory boards and focus groups to tell them what to do. This input process is too slow and runs a high risk to leave both vendors and customers behind. So exciting but also strategic times.

    As an analyst I try to assess how close a vendor is to the 21st century best practices by looking at how much new best practices make it in their product plans and how fast they can build code. Because we know that new best practices require new functionality that requires new code. And both points concern me with SAP at this point. Yes the keynotes had promising moments of new best practices, like mentioning simulation, decision management and ‘true’ analytics (more here). But the only new application on top of Finance was ‘new’ – Cash Pooling. And of course it makes sense to build Cash Pooling on top of HANA, but it’s the same process faster, much faster but not re-thought. The other concern is that SAP copied the code of (I assume her) the Business Suite, to build the base for S/4HANA. I am concerned SAP risks to have copied too much of last century best practices and then build on them. The ship building analogy would have been to take the largest wooden ship and but steel casing over it. Would not have worked then and it is likely not to work now. But it is speculation right now, way too early to tell. And fair enough to SAP, if SAP built S/4HANA from code line 1 – they best practices for the 21st century have not fleshed out yet. So would be a risk to build on the best we know in 2015. And this is why (see above) a modern PaaS is so important, let customers build something if they really want that. Of course along guided lines and without (hopefully) loosing key qualities that are need in the cloud age.

    Analyst Tidbits

    • Simple Finance makes progress– It was good to sit down with the Simple Finance team and learn more on customer adoption on roadmap. Both are making good progress for the relative short time the product is around.

    • Technology business alive and well– With a new version of Lumira and a new push behind the former Sybase (we spend time on SQL Anywhere and Sybase ASE) – it’s good to see SAP using all its technology assets. 
    • HCP progresses– Good progress on the HCP side as well. More adoption, more open source and SAP becoming an active contributor to open source projects is a good trend to see. The Integration function is maturing and given the S/4HANA scenarios will have a lot of things to integrate in the near future. It is fair to say it is the ‘make or break’ for S/4HANA. 
    • Cloud for Planning– The ‘spreadsheet’ killer on top of HANA is making equal good progress, being even younger than S4/HANA (my First Take at product launch here). 
    • HCM– SAP announced partnerships with Benefitfocus and IBM (my News Analysis here). The IBM partnership is good for both SAP and IBM as SAP has a channel to sell more EmployeeCentral and IBM as a modern HR Core offering to shut out potential competitor aspirations. The Benefitfocus partnership allows SAP to close gaps on the Benefit functionality that have been difficult to address before. So both are good moves by SAP in the HCM space. 
    Great visualization of global flight traffic for a HANA demo


      A good Sapphire for SAP that is in the process of bringing its core products to the cloud. If it fails, as Plattner said back at the launch of S/4HANA, SAP ‘is dead’. There are significant risks in the approach how SAP builds S/4HANA as well as the practice of copying code, making it work, then simplifying it and then enriching it. But then SAP probably didn’t have a choice in the approach anymore, given the advanced age of platforms and the ByDesign history. But that’s a key decision SAP and customers need to live for years to come.

      More importantly SAP has departed from an almost ‘cultish’ HANA (and database centric) view of applications. It is very good to see that this phase is over in my view, building next generation application with a ‘best tool’ philosophy vs. a single tool mindset can only be good for SAP and its customers.

      Moreover SAP needs to make the transition options and benefits vs TCO of moving to S/4HANA very clear. The SAP customer base (as diverse surveys show) has not been able to execute the HANA TCO equation in SAP’s favor. The S/4HANA equation has probably a one order of magnitude bigger price tag. Plattner showed an encouraging TCO comparison that made it look like a ‘no brainer’ to move to S/4HANA – if SAP can pull this off in this category in its diverse customer landscape on a multitude of systems, then S/4HANA adoption will be easy from a TCO perspective. That would be a huge win for SAP.

      Lastly, SAP’s business has been a rich ecosystem play, as the booths at Sapphire showed. In general pundits assume that for 1 currency unit for SAP, up to 7 are made in the ecosystem. That equation will change with S/4HANA and it will be key for SAP to keep partners on its side in the process. The enterprise software industry itself has been disrupting itself on the product side – but the impact on implementation services has been the strongest. Customers can and want configure enterprise software by themselves, maybe with a few special forces type consultants by their side, but not a company of foot soldiers aka consultants anymore. The disruption to the services partners is in full swing, with SAP probably driving the most generous ecosystem in the market, it needs to be extra careful to not create antagonistic trends.

      But for now – it is forward for SAP and its customers with all the ups and downs the creation of a new product brings. We will be there watching and blogging, please keep reading.

      And more on overall SAP strategy and products:

      • First Take - Bernd Leukert and Steve Singh Day #2 Keynote - read here
      • News Analysis - SAP and IBM join forces ... read here
      • First Take - SAP Sapphire Bill McDermott Day #1 Keynote - read here
      • In Depth - S/4HANA qualities as presented by Plattner - play for play - read here
      • First Take - SAP Cloud for Planning - the next spreadsheet killer is off to a good start - read here
      • 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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      In the early hours before its yearly user conference Convergence in downtown Los Angeles, Cornerstone made an important announcement on its product capability, announcing a PaaS.

      So let’s dissect the press release in our customary style – it can be found here:

      SANTA MONICA, Calif., May 12, 2015 – Cornerstone OnDemand (NASDAQ: CSOD), a global leader in cloud-based talent management software solutions, today announced the launch of Cornerstone Edge, a new cloud computing architecture and Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) solution that provides clients, partners and third-party developers with new, easy-to-use tools and services for quickly creating and deploying new and existing applications within the Cornerstone suite of applications.

      MyPOV – HR Professionals keep mentioning ‘integration’ as one of the key problems and concerns that are on their minds. A part of the problem is that enterprises need to integrate solutions that are built on separate platforms and enterprises need to integrate them. With the advent of modern platforms, vendors with enough ecosystem power can attract third parties to their platforms and create a platform integrated offering. Moreover, a PaaS will give enterprises the opportunities to customize their HCM solution further, without breaking their capability to consume regular upgrades.

      Companies today require the flexibility to build applications specific to their particular needs. Cornerstone Edge enables clients to extend their investment in Cornerstone and fit their unique necessities by allowing the creation of web and mobile applications that leverage talent management data, drastically lowering the cost and complexity of application development and management.

      MyPOV – Good to see Cornerstone hit the standard PaaS messages. Especially in the mobile field we see the high desire and demand to build enterprise specific applications – or to significantly expand vendor offered one.

      The platform is designed to meet the complex needs of developers and simple demands of power users. Streamlining the app development process, Cornerstone Edge rapidly integrates with Cornerstone’s cloud applications, shifts specific aspects of systems management to Cornerstone, the service provider, and provides tools to build an application.

      Available for preview in July, Cornerstone Edge enables users to:

      ●          Learn. With Cornerstone Developer, users can leverage Cornerstone’s developer community to learn and access key resources for Cornerstone Edge.

      ●          Integrate. Cornerstone API Services provide access to Cornerstone’s library of APIs and services, built on the OData framework, as well as documentation, sample entities and tutorials.

      ●          Build. Using Cornerstone App Builder, clients and partners can create applications using Cornerstone APIs, drag-and-drop development tools and Cornerstone’s proprietary Shelby programming language.

      ●          Market. The Cornerstone Marketplace helps clients to easily access and configure third-party applications that are integrated with or built on Cornerstone Edge.

      MyPOV – These four capabilities that are key to the success of PaaS. Naturally Build and Integrate are inherent capabilities, but it is good to see that Learn and Market are equally part of it (Cornerstone launched its Marketplace at Convergence a year ago – read more here).

      Cornerstone’s independent software vendors (ISVs) now have access to the tools and resources they need for easily building integrations with Cornerstone and embedding functionality directly within the Cornerstone suite of applications. Cornerstone has more than 25 ISV applications and integrations available in the Cornerstone Marketplace, including applications for background screening, tuition reimbursement, content management and continuous professional development.

      MyPOV – It’s a good start for Cornerstone, but it will have to accelerate ISV, partner and developer uptake.

      Comments on the News

      “Over the last 15 years, we have been singularly focused on building the most robust, organically built talent management suite in the industry. While our mission to help people realize their potential has not changed, we believe what clients want and need out of talent management solutions is changing. Cornerstone clients don’t just want robust application functionality to manage their people. They are increasingly demanding more flexibility and extensibility of their investments,” said Adam Miller, founder and CEO of Cornerstone OnDemand. “With the launch of the Cornerstone Edge platform, we now have the unmatched ability to deliver development tools and services that put the power of cloud computing in the hands of our clients.”

      MyPOV – Well said by Adam Miller, and a logical step for Cornerstone. After completing the coverage of the full Talent Management scope last year, announcing a marketplace a year ago, the next logical step is a PaaS.

      “The future success of enterprise application vendors will be dependent on the ecosystem they create, and by transforming an application into a platform based on powerful data is the best way to rally customers, solution providers and developers to drive innovation in an industry,” said Holger Mueller, vice president and principal analyst at Constellation Research. “Until now, the HCM space has not benefitted from PaaS technology, and, as with all platforms, having first-mover advantage is important to set the standards and encourage usage.”

      MyPOV – Mueller after Miller, wait Mueller who? It’s early days for PaaS in HCM, and Cornerstone has hit a first for the Talent Management space, well done.

      “What makes Cornerstone and Cornerstone Edge distinct is our reach,” commented Jason Corsello, vice president of corporate strategy for Cornerstone OnDemand. “While many of our SaaS peers deploy their solutions to specific teams within an organization, we deploy to every employee at nearly every company we work with, which makes our platform opportunity unique and potentially game-changing.”

      MyPOV – Fair enough from Corsello to see broader reach by Cornerstone than other vendors. What is clear is that a successful Marketplace and Paas product will do that for Cornerstone.

      Overall MyPOV

      The age of end user enablement is coming quickly, also to the HCM space. PaaS is the first step towards it, allowing (savvy) enterprise users to select from a larger ecosystem of solutions, that ideally can be taken live with no substantial implementation effort. An earlier effort in the PaaS space was done by Oracle at OpenWorld 2014 (here is the HCM take), but that was an overall push for PaaS across its SaaS portfolio. Cornerstone has the chance to tune its SaaS offering to HCM needs and more specifically even Talent Management needs. So congrats to Cornerstone to be early with that trend, now it needs to accelerate uptake and usage of the PaaS, which will be available in July this year. 

      More on Cornerstone
      • Progress Report - Cornerstone completest Talent Management - what is next - read here 
      • Event Report - Cornerstone re-imagines Talent Mangament - and itself - read here

      More on Recruiting
      • Musings - What is the future of Recruiting? Read here
      • Why all the attention to Recruiting? Read here

      Find more coverage on the Constellation Research website here.

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      At this morning’s keynote Informatica CEO Sohaib Abbasi made a number of key product announcements, which all have an impact on Informatica’s customers, partners and the vendor itself.

      So let’s dissect the press release in our custom style (it can be found here):

      Informatica World, Las Vegas, May 12, 2015 – Informatica Corporation (Nasdaq:INFA), the world’s number one independent provider of data integration software, today showcased key innovations in the Informatica Intelligent Data Platform (IDP) to integrate, prepare, master and secure data. In the new computing age of engagement, the world of data expands beyond transaction data in database applications and in cloud services to include interaction data in social media, in mobile apps and in the Internet of Things (IoT). Speaking at the 16th annual Informatica World conference in Las Vegas, chairman and chief executive officer, Sohaib Abbasi, outlined the product innovation strategy to power the Data Ready Enterprise in the new age of engagement.

      MyPOV – Wow it’s the 16th edition already? And good to see Informatica is building out on the IDP – no need to start a new platform, make the exiting one more powerful. Less excitement for press and analysts, but more value for customers and partners.

      “As the purpose of computing evolves from the age of productivity to the age of engagement, four technology trends are disrupting the computing platform,” said Abbasi. “First, the economics of cloud is disrupting the computing infrastructure; second, the diversity of social media and the Internet of Things are disrupting the data infrastructure; third, the richness of big data is disrupting the analytics infrastructure; and fourth, the perimeter-less world of pervasive computing is disrupting the security infrastructure. Each disruptive trend opens up an exciting new opportunity: hybrid cloud integration, next-generation data integration, Internet of master data and data security visualization.”

      MyPOV – Abbasi is right on all four disruption areas, but in my view we are not on the age of engagement… we are in the age of infinite computing, which changes business best practices and customer / people engagement is one key trend and driver. But good to see a CEO cover four disruption areas. 

      Abbasi showcased key innovations, including: Project Atlantic for cloud integration, Project Sonoma and Rev for next-generation data integration and preparation, Social360 for the Internet of master data and Secure@Source for data security intelligence and analytics.

      MyPOV – Ok here we go – these are the four product names to remember and watch in the next quarters as Informatica rolls them out and drives for adoption in the customer base.

      Informatica Project Atlantic for Cloud Integration. In the new age of engagement, more machine interaction data is being captured by mobile apps, websites and the IoT. Project Atlantic uses genetic algorithms to automatically infer the structure and semantics of machine interaction data, and integrate such data with structured transaction data. Project Atlantic will be integrated with Informatica Cloud and IDP to integrate data – transaction and machine interaction – in the cloud or on-premise.

      MyPOV – Making sense and determining what to do with data has always been a human domain, but with the benefits of the cloud era, software can not only make sense of data, but also determine what to do with the data. A key value for customers looking less manual work and complexity in the process of trying to domesticate the ‘wild zoo’ of data out there. Atlantic will stand and fall with the power and quality of its analytic algorithms – so will be an interesting area to see grow.

      Informatica Project Sonoma for Big Data Integration. Designed for big data projects, Project Sonoma will improve the agility of data scientists while enabling better governance by IT. For big data projects, with growing volumes and varieties of interaction data, organizations are increasingly adopting Hadoop-based data lakes. Using Project Sonoma, developers will be able to productively find, ingest, prepare, provision, secure and govern data – transaction and interaction – managed in Hadoop data lakes.

      MyPOV – Good to see Informatica tackle the BigData domain with an aspect of governance, too, though we see enterprises still in the early days of BigData driven insights. In this phase insight will trump everything, even governance. But it will be up to products like Project  Sonoma to not only offer data manipulation capabilities, but also enable vital governance best practices. But these are only evolving, so a flexible product architecture will be key and we will try to catch up more in detail at InformaticaWorld later this week.

      Informatica Rev for Business User Data Preparation. Designed for self-service by business users, Informatica Rev simplifies data preparation with guided recommendations for tasks such as curating, combining and enriching data. Using Rev, business users simply merge data from multiple sources and standardize and prepare the data for analysis in visualization tools. To operationalize data preparation tasks by business users, Informatica Rev will automatically generate mappings for IT developers to administer.

      MyPOV – The end user / business user enablement it the biggest disruptor the enterprise software industry faces. Those vendors who get this right will disrupt those who won’t or will be slow at productizing on this trend. The driver for end user enablement is simply that business users do not have the time to deal with IT, implementation teams, consultants and RfPs for IT tasks. Rev is a good step towards that goal. Feel free to checkout our first review of ‘Springbok’ here.

      Social360 for Internet of Master Data. Informatica MDM now offers Social360 to view master data, relationships and associated interactions, including social media feeds and media mentions. By matching transactions with social relationships, Informatica MDM can identify the top influencers among the most valuable customers. Designed to run natively on Hadoop, Informatica Big Data Relationship Management identifies household and social relationships across billions of records representing millions of people.

      MyPOV – Good move by Informatica to enrich MDM data with social data. Even surprised it is only happening now. But certainly a key product to watch, as there have been a number of social tools, but tying them back to the enterprise information backbone of transactional applications has always been a challenge. Bringing together social data and Informatica’s proven MDM products is a good move.

      Informatica Secure@Source. Designed to mitigate the risk of data breaches in traditional databases and Hadoop, Secure@Source defines a new category, Data Security Intelligence and Analytics. Secure@Source mitigates the risks of breaches by detecting, classifying and monitoring the risks associated with proliferation and usage of sensitive data. Last month, Secure@Source won the gold award for the best new security product at the security industry’s premier event, the RSA conference.

      MyPOV – Security remains a top concern for enterprises… just mention Target. So it’s good to see that Informatica is tackling the process at the root, with the data. But it remains a major undertaking for both vendors and enterprises, and we are only at the very early (though) encouraging stages.

      Overall MyPOV

      A good start for Informatica’s user conference, with key product announcements. Good to see the IDP being leveraged and extended. Informatica has a unique opportunity around governance and data level security, that we will be keen to see how the vendor will leverage and capitalize that in the next quarters. That all plays hand in hand with end user enablement products such as Rev – which have the greatest disruption potential in enterprise software. The Social360 addition to MDM is also a good innovation, adoption will be key, as social savvy enterprises have already their social infrastructure in place and Informatica needs to capture these accounts. Partnerships with Social vendors would be an area to execute on and to watch.

      More on Informatica:
      • Future of Work - One spreadsheet at a time, Informatica Springbok - read here
      • Informatica pushes the cloud integration stakes - read here.
      Find more coverage on the Constellation Research website here.

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      We had the opportunity to attend Cornerstone’s yearly user conference, Convergence in Los Angeles, taking place from May 12th-14th 2015. The conference is well attended with over 1500 attendees, a good growth from the 1300 in San Diego last year.

      So let’s look at the Top 3 takeaways from the event

      People Potential addressed with Learning– In the morning keynote Cornerstone CEO Adam Miller spend a good time talking about People Management that he sees as being all about managing potential. And true to its roots as a Learning vendor, Cornerstone sees Learning as a key component for people to achieve their potential. The premise is of course compelling, but from our research the potential definition seemed limited to a classic, vertical career potential, with no mention of lateral and horizontal potential. But it is good to see that Cornerstone is innovating around its core, Learning again. The ability to self-create and publish content, while still being screened and vetted on appropriateness is a key capability that Cornerstone demoed.

      It was also good to see how Cornerstone has completed the complete Talent Management functionality from Recruiting all the way to Compensation Management. Overall a good keynote, with great customer brands on stage (Nestle and Louis Vuitton) and a good approach to bring both PaaS and Analytics (see below) to an audience mainly composed of HR professionals.

      Miller with Next Generation [Learning] Content

      Analytics on the roadmap – Leveraging internal previous work and assets from the Evolv acquisition (more here), Cornerstone has launched its analytics offering, called Insights (seems to be a popular name these for analytical offerings). In the keynote Cornerstone oscillated between dashboards and ‘true’ analytics a few times. That should not be a surprise as reporting was a critical aspect for its customers before, so if Cornerstone can address both issues it is certainly a good move (see the press release here). The good news was that in the keynote the example areas of analytics were all ‘true’ analytics (my definition here), which in my view are analytics that refer to either actions or recommendations for a business user.

      From the little we learnt about the architecture, it looks like Cornerstone has done the right moves, putting data into Hadoop clusters and then running machine learning models on top of it. Doing model thrashing, i.e. running n models and choosing the ones with the best analytical value is equally the right approach vs. a traditional singular model approach. Now it comes back, like with all other analytical offerings by all vendors in the space, to show that the models ‘really work’ and make a difference when applied across the variety of customers with very different data landscapes. But for now a good move by Cornerstone, the land grab in Analytics is on – it will be interesting to see the first customer use cases and success stories.
      7 Analytics Use Cases presented by Cornerstone

      Will PaaS give Cornerstone an Edge? – Quite a surprise, Cornerstone announced a PaaS offering, called CornerstoneEdge (hence the word play). A year ago Cornerstone announced a Marketplace, this year it is giving customers and partners a development tool, the same that Cornerstone is using for much of its own product development. Being an original Learning vendor makes the education and on ramp up of developers an easy case for Cornerstone. It is also good to see that Cornerstone has thought about the perennial integration challenge of the HR system landscape offering an integration functionality.

      But the crown jewels of CornerstoneEdge are certainly the AppBuilder functionality that allows users to create new applications easily. Remarkably these users can be both developers and (sufficiently tech savvy) end users. Cornerstone has developed its own programming language, called Shelby. The motivation for that was to create an easy to use, end user friendly language. Cornerstone shared that it is object oriented, and the need to build Shelby was largely created by the lack of end user friendly programming languages on the market.

      And finally Cornerstone allows the publication of the new built applications on the market place. CornerstoneEdge is supposed to roll out through the 2nd half of 2015, with general availability being planned by early 2016.

      Corsello with 3 PaaS use cases


      Another good user conference for Cornerstone. The vendor is growing and with all the positive dynamics are experienced by the attendees like overall growth, new functionality and customer adoption. And the new venue at the JW Marriott in downtown LA was certainly a good move, too.

      On the positive side it is good to see that Cornerstone is innovating in key areas around the core offering with Analytics and a PaaS, both critical moves in our view to offer the next level of best practices for HCM. Both also help to foster a vibrant eco system. It was also good to see that Cornerstone is innovating ‘back at the roots’ with its Learning module. On the business side this was the first analyst meeting where the assembled analysts did not give Cornerstone CEO Miller a hard time for strategic direction beyond Talent Management, which basically means that Cornerstone has reached a status quo in the Talent Management space. The vendors ambition to reach 1B US$ revenue seems in plausible reach.

      On the concern side the choice of a proprietary programming language with Shelby will not woe over developers, but Cornerstone is not going after the all-purpose PaaS market, but the extension of its ecosystem and customization market. There success of CornerstoneEdge will stand and fall with the capabilities that enable and end user to develop (ideally) with no coding. The user interface needs improvement, there has been little innovation in the last 12 months or so and with the acceleration of UI best practices, a timeout of 2-3 quarters is the equivalent of 2-3 years not so long ago. The good news is that customers seem not (yet) to be concerned, but Cornerstone should take action soon and decisively.

      Finally we did not have a chance to have the usual high level glimpse behind the curtain with Mark Goldin – so ‘flying blind’ on that aspect makes us neutral in this direction. A lot has happened in cloud infrastructure best practices, so we hope to catch up on that soon.

      But overall congrats to Cornerstone to a good event, it’s still on for another two days, so stay tuned.

      More on Cornerstone
      • News Analysis - Cornerstone On Demand announces CornerstoneEdge, the 1st PaaS Solution for the Talent Management Industry - read here
      • Progress Report - Cornerstone completest Talent Management - what is next - read here 
      • Event Report - Cornerstone re-imagines Talent Mangament - and itself - read here

      More on Recruiting
      • Musings - What is the future of Recruiting? Read here
      • Why all the attention to Recruiting? Read here
      Find more coverage on the Constellation Research website here.

      And finally a collection of notes aka tweets from the conference:

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      We had the opportunity to attend Infomatica’s user conference Informatica World, happening this week in Las Vegas at the beautiful Cosmopolitan property in Las Vegas. The conference is well attended with over 2500 attendees (up from 2300 last year), attendees are in general positive mood and looking forward to learn more about new product functionalities. Uniquely presentations (at least the ones I attended) are always setup with a few slides and then demos with a ton of Q&A. Informatica definitively has the Doers at this conference judging from the caliber of the questions.

      So here are my Top 3 takeaways from event:

      Informatica stays the course– It was good to see that Informatica keeps building on its Intelligent Data Platform – IDP – and had five key new functionalities shown in the Day #1 keynote. With an intelligent offering for IoT with Project Atlantic, that has the goal to make sense of machine data and connect it with business data, Informatica may well have a future champion for the IoT age. Improved BigData management is coming with Project Sonoma. MDM gets enriched with Social360, brining social data into the MDM process. And Secure@Source brings important security innovations to Hadoop. The most interesting of the overall 5 in my view is Rev, the end user oriented data presentation and data analysis tool originally code named SpringBok. Business user enablement is the risk that disrupts potentially all enterprise software vendors, so it’s good for Informatica to have a horse in the game, which may help disrupt the market. More in detail is my News Analysis (here), also check out my colleague Doug Henschen’s takeaways (here).

      Breya opens the Day #2 Keynote
      Traction with Cloud Integration Products– We spoke to a number of customers and Informatica spokespeople on the Cloud Integration products, as part of our next generation Applications coverage. When enterprises and ISVs build a new enterprise software solution in 2015 it is very likely that they create an integration problem, as the new software does not run as an isolated solution. Informatica has been in the cloud integration market since almost 10 years, and is now seeing some benefits of an early mover: Over 3500 customers and 6B daily transactions are impressive statistics. The Informatica offering differentiates from many other products in the integration space by providing deep integration into endpoints, e.g. Salesforce, SAP, Oracle, Workday etc. Informatica maintains these, not a trivial task, given the fast release cycles of cloud products. But by now Informatica has maintained a number of these endpoints over a few years, so initial customer concerns can now be countered with a proven track record.

      It was interesting that Informatica is helping adoption of the product with crowdsourcing best practices. Enterprises seldom want to go first, and technologists like to reach out to colleagues that have done the same or something similar. So with Discovery IQ users can see, who else has done the same or similar integration, certainly a modern and very helpful approach to increase adoption, foster a support community and ease common early project concerns. Equally Informatica has an integration market place, where integrations can be monetized, if desired. 

      Informatica Cloud Product Portfolio
      Informatica is traditionally doing a lot of business with ISVs, but it seems that the vendor is pushing even harder for these partnerships recently. At the same time Informatica is working closely with IaaS providers (most prominent are Amazon AWS and Microsoft Azure) et al. Certainly a clever move to empower ISVs (and customers) to move their data to the cloud. No surprise the most common use cases are around BigData.

      And lastly we also see the drive for the empowerment of the (business) end user. With Infomatica’s Cloud Data Wizard for Salesforce, which makes it easier for users to connect Salesforce with other applications (Box and NetSuite are mentioned in the press release here), the vendor has another chip at the table (sorry for are in Las Vegas).

      Sample of pre-package integrations of Informatica Cloud

      Making life easier with DaaS– partnering with Dun & Bradstreet (D&B) – In a surprise move Informatica and Dun & Bradstreet announced a partnership already on Monday (see the press release here). In the past enterprise were confronted with a sizeable load of integration work to make a similar scope happen. Though most prominent CRM solutions have pre-built D&B interfaces (the teams of yours truly build these 3 times for 3 different vendors), implementing them was always tedious. Not only did they have to be setup, tested and validated, separate contracts had to be negotiated and signed with D&B. With the partnership of both vendors, Informatica customers can now enrich and procure their integration scenarios with D&B data in a single stop with Informatica. A significant simplification as anyone who has taken such an integration live can certainly attest.

      It is also a start for Informatica into the DaaS market, which offers more opportunities to partner for the vendor as well as an additional revenue opportunity. It is early time for DaaS, but good to see the lead if Informatica amongst the enterprise integration players.


      A good user conference for Informatica customers and the vendor. Good progress across all product lines and more value out of the integrated IDP offering. Reducing the time and cost to implement is certainly a value for users and Informatica delivers along those value propositions across its product portfolio. Informatica has replaced the complex pricing for cloud integration with a simpler, tiered endpoint pricing that should help sales and adoption.

      It also looks that Informatica – at least for the attendees I spoke to – has been able to dissolve potential concerns around being taken private by a Private Equity player recently. It was good for Abbasi to tackle the subject directly in the keynote, but Informatica still has to share where the investment going forward is going to be, using the usual argument of being able to transform the company without the quarterly reporting pressures. The smart money is on transfomation from a perpetual license to a subscription business, and a large R&D investment. From the announcements at Informatica World it looks more like the same course, extending existing products.

      As for concerns we can only raise the general enterprise software risks of quality and execution. Informatica needs to deliver the new features with good quality. It is well positioned against the threat from being disrupted by departmental users, as it has some good offerings, too, but e.g. a new player like Workato (more here), could change the enterprise integration game.

      But for now its full steam ahead for Informatica, we will be watching.

      More on Informatica:
      • News Analysis - Informatica's Sohaib Abbasi showcases Innovations for the Age of Engagement - read here
      • Future of Work - One spreadsheet at a time, Informatica Springbok - read here
      • Informatica pushes the cloud integration stakes - read here.
      Find more coverage on the Constellation Research website here.

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      We were invited to the first Acumatica analyst summit in Boston this week. For a vendor’s first event of this type, the summit was very well attended with key analysts in the audience, certainly kudos for a first event.

      So here are my Top3 takeaways from the meetings:

      A unique strategy – Acumatica is probably the only vendor in the enterprise software space that does not have a direct sales force, but exclusively sells through channels. That has happened before, but the products were standardized with little need to no demand for customization. For an ERP suite it is unique. The consequences are twofold in my view

      • Acumatica can focus CAPEX on product and does not have to invest precious funding dollars on expensive sales people, who need time to ramp up and learn how to sell the product, before they get into the ‘black’ for their employers.
      • Acumatica needs to focus on a very flexible, standard based product. As Acumatica does not know where partners will take the product, it needs to create value to attract them and at the same time make it easy to adopt its platform / product. 
      With over 1000 customers and only 120 employees, Acumatica has a pretty unique employee population and cost structure. The bulk of the employee population works in R&D, Acumatica did not disclose specific numbers, but we think this is a safe assumption. In the go to market Acumatica needs to spare no effort to get partners up to speed quickly. The ramp up, training and marketing / sales options are attractive, with executives in charge who understand partner enablement well from their previous work experience.
      Acumatica Marketecture

      Standards and Flexibility rule– For the longest time SaaS providers have maintained that SaaS cannot be customized. Ironic as early SaaS pioneers NetSuite and Salesforce always offered customization options from the very start. Acumatica is no different and has created a powerful customization framework that allows the addition and insertions of fields, screens and control elements. Nothing teaches better than practice, and when Acumatica signed up Visma (largest Nordic ISV) to build their new product on its platform, it had to learn a more flexible and multi-tiered approach to extension and customization. The original one level for customer customization was taken by Visma, so nothing was left for its customers. But by now Acumatica has addressed this in a pretty elegant extension framework, which for a number of extensions does not even require a restart of the application, as it used dynamic and declarative (late) binding. 
      Acumatica Deployment Options
      At the same tune, standards are key - Hitting on an innuendo from Microsoft’s Build conference (my takeaways here), Acumatica made the point with ‘who wants to learn ObjectiveC’ (for those reader who don’t know that is Apple’s proprietary apps programming language). So for Acumatica it is support for C# and Microsoft SQL Server / Azure DB as well as MySQL. Using the powerful OData protocol Acumatica makes it easy for customers and partners to export, view and manipulate data. And it opens partnerships with e.g. Microsoft for Office365 and PowerBi. Acumatica is also flexible in terms of tenancy, as it supports a shared all, share apps / dedicated DB and shared nothing deployment arcitecture. And the vendor also sees deployments across different architecture, private partner clouds as well as public cloud, where (for now) fellow Seattle neighbor Amazon AWS is the most popular option. Finally Acumatica has invested in a mobile platform that allows a tech savvy user to build and deploy self-built mobile applications. A key step accounting for the trend of enabling the departmental, business end user.

      On the roadmap Acumatica plans more capabilities to enrich the platform, e.g. more advanced workflow functionality, more pre-built mobile applets to aid partners to build mobile applications and deeper insights on what is happening inside of the Acumatica system in real time (BAM). 
      Acumatica UI
      xRP – a cloud ERP for late comers– Moreover we had the chance to sit down with the xRP team and talk to some early adopting partners. There are a lot of service providers and ISVs out there who are being caught in the transformation of enterprise software to become cloud based. For service providers the move to cloud is both a threat and an opportunity. A threat as implementation budgets shrink dramatically, an opportunity as the deep understanding of best practices garnered from many implementations opens the chance to become a product provider. And then there are still a lot of ISVs who for whatever reason have missed moving their core offering to the cloud. An alternative scenario has been that they only offer complimentary functionality to other enterprise automation areas. As a side note this happens even with successful vendors – see the recent NetSuite and Ultimate and SAP and IBM partnerships (see here and here). And as a testament of the market need, Acumatica has seen over 60 xRP signing up for the offering, which is only available since barely 9 months. The first ones of these partners are live, another proof point of the Acumatica platform.


      The enterprise software value chain has been a traditional one stop shop for marketing, sales, implementation and support for the longest time. Digital disruption will come to the enterprise model sooner or later, with viral selling, flush marketing, almost no sales teams, partner enablement and business user empowerment as the key trends. It is good to see a vendor practicing a lot of that today, which should make Acumatica pretty disruption proof for things happening in enterprise software sooner, than later.

      On the concern side Acumatica is still very small. It needs to make sure its core offering is modern and in tune with 21st century practices. Partnering with Magento for commerce is a good move, but Acumatica cannot do similar partnership for more modern best practices too many times, otherwise it risks to become a ‘backbone’ for other partners. And then its days will be counted, so the vendor not only needs to make sure the product has a modern and attractive architecture (we give Acumatica good grades here) but its core automation capabilities need to stand the test of time as well. Lastly the user interface is short before looking dated, a common challenge, as consumerization of IT is moving user interface best practices faster than ever.

      But for now it is good news for Acumatica and its customers, a good platform, flexible deployment and fast ramp up times are what enterprises and partners need. It will be interesting to see Acumatica grow in the years to come, you can count on us to observer.

      Find more coverage on the Constellation Research website here.

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      This morning’s Google release the news about more price reductions for Google Cloud Platform, with the catchy tag line ‘pay less, compute Moore’. Yes Moore (and not more) as Google has promised to pass on the savings from Moore’s Law to customers. That’s what Google did and said at their Google Cloud platform launch end of March 2014 (my News Analysis here). Google also mentioned the intention to keep repeating the exercise in the future. But every intention is only as good as its real word follow up, and 13.5+ months later Google has followed up on the intention with today’s action.

      So let’s dissect the blog, as Google does not do press release – you can find the blog here.

      We know you have a choice of public cloud providers – and choosing the best fit for your application or workload can be a daunting task. Customers like Avaya, Snapchat, Ocado and Wix have selected Google Cloud Platform because of our innovation and proven performance, combined with flexible pricing models. We’ve recently made headlines for our latest product introductions like Google Cloud Storage Nearline and Google Cloud Bigtable, and today, we’re also raising the bar with our pricing options. 

      MyPOV – Always good to lead with customers – so good move by Google to mention some notable brand names using Google Cloud Platform (GCP going forward) already. And good to mention that with the launch of Google Cloud Storage Nearline and Google Cloud Bigtable (a press piece with a quote from me here) were also coupled with price reductions.

      Compared to other public cloud providers, Google Cloud Platform is now 40% less expensive for many workloads. Starting today, we are reducing prices of all Google Compute Engine Instance types as well as introducing a new class of preemptible virtual machines that delivers short-term capacity for a very low, fixed cost. When combined with our automatic discounts, per-minute billing, no penalties for changing machine types, and no need to enter into long-term fixed-price commitments, it’s easy to see why we’re leading the industry in price/performance.

      MyPOV – Last year’s announcements already rippled significant shockwaves across private cloud deployments. The best practice was to use the Amazon AWS cost curve, bend it a little more and – plan the private cloud roll out if an enterprise was able to stay under that curve. With Google’s price cut last year that exercise needed to be restarted and it put a number of private cloud roll outs on hold. Later in 2014 the Google move was dismissed as a onetime move to get into the market. But all the sceptics of a Google repeat now need to review their position. If the same outcome happens as of last year, a number of very large (and prominent) private cloud roll outs are on hold – for good.

      On the public cloud side Google equally gains credibility, but the effect will be lesser, as enterprises developing software for the cloud move slowly. But we know already that a number of next gen app projects in enterprises have taken note and are re-crunching the numbers.

      Price Reductions

      Last year, we committed that Google Cloud Platform prices will follow Moore’s Law, and effective today we’re reducing prices of virtual machines by up to 30%.


      US Price Reduction


      High Memory

      High CPU








      MyPOV – Good to see that Google created consistency with last year’s announcements, citing Moore’s Law again, and basically saying that Google will give these savings away, or back to customers.

      The price reductions in Europe and Asia are similar. Complete details on our compute pricing is available at our Compute Engine pricing page.

      MyPOV – Somebody very hardware savvy should try to deduct different buying and relative age cycles in Google’s data centers. But then the cost to operate data centers differs significantly across the world.

      We have continued to lower our pricing since Google Compute Engine was launched in November of 2013; together, these price cuts have reduced VM prices by more than half.

      MyPOV – Kudos to Google to be transparent on prices, but also on typical seen prices. One can debate if the curve is ‘real’ but we know that GCP customers have seen further price savings post April 2014. So not only a drastic one time drop, but continued savings for customers over time. This announcement of course means another price drop.

      Introducing Google Compute Engine Preemptible VMs

      For some applications we can do even better: if your workload is flexible, our new Preemptible VMswill run your short-duration batch jobs 70% cheaper than regular VMs. Preemptible VMs are identical to regular VMs, except availability is subject to system supply and demand. Since we run Preemptible VMs on resources that would otherwise be idle, we can offer them at substantially reduced costs. Customers such asDescartes Labshave already found them to be a great option for workloads like Hadoop MapReduce, visual effects rendering, financial analytics, and other computationally expensive workloads.

      Importantly, unlike other clouds’ Spot Instances, the price of Preemptible VMs is fixed - making their costs predictable.

      MyPOV – Basically Google offering ‘spot priced’ instances for VMs. A good move for non-critical but massive compute loads. A nice showcase with Descartes Labs. Of course Google will deny that it monetizes spare capacity from other (internal) use cases, but at the end of the day there is nothing wrong with monetizing spare capacity. As long as the customer of the spare capacity know what they get, and that’s the case here.

      Regular n1-standard-1

      Preemptible n1-standard-1


      $0.050 /hour

      $0.015 /hour


      For further information about Preemptible VM pricing, please visit our website.

      Google Cloud Platform costs 40% less for many workloads vs. other public cloud providers

      Our continued price/performance leadership goes well beyond list prices. Our combination of sustained use discounting, no prepaid lock-in and per-minute billing offers users a structural price advantage which becomes apparent when we consider real-world applications. Consider a typical web application or mobile backend. Its development environment supports software builds and tests, presenting a bursty, daytime load on cloud computing resources. The production environment handles actual user traffic, with a diurnal cycle of demand, aggregate growth over time, and a larger overall footprint than the development environment. The developer environment would benefit from per-minute billing because it can be turned on and off more quickly and you only pay for what you use. The production environment would benefit from sustained use discounting, up to 30% additional discount with no upfront fee or commitment, because it always needs to be on. 

      MyPOV – Google has shown a lot of innovation on the pricing side, the market has not followed and reacted to that (yet). Changing pricing and with that billing is complex, but Google is doing the right thing for Google by keeping pressure on the subject. On the flipside it shows that Google has not yet gotten so much uptake that enterprises demanded – for like for like comparison – the same pricing mechanisms from competitors. We are in the early phase of the internet – and already load is ‘sticky’. But that should not stop Google from pushing the topic and innovating in the area. Usually in the long run, persistence pays off.

      Our customer-friendly billing, discounting, and lack of prepaid lock-in, combined with lower list prices, leads to a 40% lower price on Google Cloud Platform for many real-world workloads. Our TCO Tool lets you explore how different combinations of development and production instances, as well as environmental assumptions, change the total cost of a real-world application hosted in the cloud.

      MyPOV – Kudos for Google to create a TCO tool, one of the few vendor provided ones in the cloud. A key sales tool for Google to get to the enterprises it is aiming for. We have seen more uptake of the TCO tool in the last two quarters, it has moved from a ‘gimmick’ to a veritable calculation tool. It would be great other IaaS vendors following suite.

      Many factors influence the total cost of a real-world application, including the likelihood of design changes, the rate of decrease of compute prices, and whether you’ve been locked into price contracts which are now above market rates, or on instances that don’t fit your current needs anymore. With Google Cloud Platform’s customer-friendly pricing model, you're not required to make a long-term commitment to a price, machine class, or region ahead of time.

      MyPOV – Important disclaimer, each app in the cloud is different. Enterprises may not see the same savings.

      This graphic illustrates how our lower list prices and customer-friendly pricing practices can combine to produce a 40% total savings.

      Your exact savings depend on your specific application, and may be even greater than what is shown here. To see the impact of our customer-friendly pricing on your specific workload, explore our TCO Tool.-

      MyPOV – The gloves are off – there will be pros and cons to Google’s calculation – it will be interesting how the foes respond.

      Overall MyPOV

      Prices for cloud infrastructure will keep falling. Enterprises want to trust their providers in being competitive on price, and being closer aligned with a cost leader that still has acceptable or better quality is key and can save a lot for constantly challenged IT budgets. With its repeat GCP evolution is now beyond a single data point, but has reached a repeat. It takes 3 data points to make a trend, but it is now likely that Google will strike again in 12 or so months from now.

      The consistency and the cost leadership are areas that enterprises look for. Google is right to stress the pricing models, as not only the total amount matters, but also the way how it was calculated. More dynamic pricing models will be user friendly. They also permit some interpretation of the elasticity of resource for each vendor. That’s where GCP is looking pretty good right now.

      What Google now needs to achieve is getting the load of the enterprise and work hard to get more next generation applications being built for its cloud. Migration aids may be a good strategy, though we are in the early phase of the cloud. It will be interesting to keep observing and commenting in Google’s march into corporate IT. We will be watching.

      More about Google:
      • News Analyse - Google I/O Takeaways Value Propositions for the enterprise - read here 
      • Google gets serious about the cloud and it is different - read here
      • A tale of two clouds - Google and HP - read here
      • Why Google acquired Talaria - efficiency matters - read here

      Find more coverage on the Constellation Research website here.

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      We had the opportunity to attend Alteryx user conference this week in Boston, held at the Westin hotel (, which did not win a prize for its elevator service). The conference was well attended with 850+ attendees, coming from all over the world. The vendor is growing fast e g. grew live customers by 50%, and so all the positive energy of growth was at the conference – customers, prospects, partners and employees are all energized.

      So here are my top 3 takeaways from the event:

      Good Housekeeping– A year ago when Alteryx had their user conference in San Diego (it will be back there in 2016), I had the time to sit down to learn and use the product, something analysts seldom find the time to do. And while the product had very powerful capabilities, it felt like having a little aging user experience and seemed like built together quickly, with some inconsistencies in the UI. But the user community was happy back then (as now) with the product, more importantly though Alteryx has listened and there are improvements in the 9.5 product and more coming in 10 (shipping later this year). The UI is re-done, naming improved, tools harmonized, menus made consistent, performance improved – all key new qualities of upcoming versions. And customers will benefit from them, especially given the Alteryx business model (see below).

      CEO Stoecker on Analytics Independence

      Analytic Independence– a blessing or a misnomer? – The conference ran all under the motto of analytical independence, something biding well to Boston as a location with Tea Party and other history etc. something both CEO Stoecker and COO Mathew used in their keynotes as themes. But what Alteryx really does well and is used for is data prep and data automation. Getting data from a variety of sources collected, exported, transformed, enriched and fed to target systems is the forte of Alteryx. As such the vendor has done well partnering with the leading visualization front end vendors Tableau and Qlik. But all of this does not have a ‘true’ analytics aspect (see my view here), the closest to this happening is modelling analytical insights with R, the most popular analytical language these days. And Alteryx does well here with R support, working closely with Spark and enabling SparkR as new capability at the conference. What Alteryx enables is the freedom to get data fed to models, and build these models if you like, so more about data modelling and prep freedom than analytics. Regardless, something all enterprises need and Alteryx makes a big difference for customers in regards of these vital steps. All customers we spoke to on and off the record see huge productivity gains in their BI operations, something key for enterprises today. As business accelerates, insights need to accelerate and Alteryx is a vital tool for enterprises to achieve that.

      COO Mathews on Predictive Visualizations

      A unique go to market – Alteryx follows the ‘land fast – then expand’ model, which means downloading the product is free and easy, in the following weeks Alteryx Sales will catch up with the customer to turn the ‘free’ trial into revenue. It was great to learn that Alteryx has improved that model even further, realizing how vital the first 5 minutes after the download are for further commercial success. There the ‘housekeeping’ improvements mentioned above will help significantly. And having widely available documentation, how tos, training available is crucial, too. It looks like Alteryx has gotten the model right as the number of customers has grown by 50% in the last 12 months. Probably the only path for a smaller vendor to gain market share quickly, and we applaud Alteryx for the guts and the improvement and operation of the model. Viral, self-service selling is the future of enterprise software sales, avoiding lengthy RfP cycles, throwing ‘bodies in planes’ etc. The future user / decision maker wants to see, touch use the prospective software quickly and make the buying decision on their own.

      New Visualizations coming in Alteryx 10


      Good progress by Alteryx on product capabilities, the upcoming release 10 has key improvements. Also good to see that the vendor has perfected the light weight, even viral go to market approach.

      On the concern side it is clear that Alteryx banks on the ‘keep data in place’ approach (vs moving it all) – it is too early to call what approach will win in the market place in the long run.

      A neutral area right now is that Alteryx has ‘lost’ the desktop at approx. 50% of their customers to partners Tableau and Qlik – if Alteryx can keep the mix there and be successful on strengthening its front end tools (in the plans), all is good. If the desktop market share falls further it risks to be relegated to a powerful ‘backend tool’.

      But for now its good news for Alteryx customers, as the vendor is pushing the envelope further in data prep and ‘true’ analytics.

      Find more coverage on the Constellation Research website here.

      And some key tweets from Day #1 of Inspire15:

      And a Meerkat capture of the Day #1 and #2 Keynotes by CEO Stoecker and COO Mathews - check out my colleagues Doug Henschen and my takeaways at the end of the Day #2 keynote capture: 

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      EMC surprised the cloud sphere with its intent to acquire Virtustream. This marks the first separate cloud move of EMC since a while [Update - EMC points out that it did acquisitions of CloudScaling, Maginatics and Spanning only back in October 2014, more here, agree, a 'while' is relatove.], outside the plans it has with VMWare and Pivotal.

      So let’s dissect the press release in our custom style – it can be found here:

      EMC Corporation (NYSE: EMC) today announced it has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire privately-held Virtustream. When the transaction closes, Virtustream will form EMC’s new managed cloud services business. The acquisition represents a transformational element of EMC’s strategy to help customers move all applications to cloud-based IT environments. With the addition of Virtustream, EMC completes the industry’s most comprehensive hybrid cloud portfolio to support all applications, all workloads and all cloud models.

      MyPOV – EMC puts it out squarely, in its current hybrid cloud offering there was no solution for managed cloud, which now comes to EMC thanks to Virtustream. To a certain point EMC (in with that going forward I also mean VMware) encroaches on some business that was more or less left for partners to build. Now EMC competes with these partners, which shows that the potential of managed cloud is too substantial for EMC to leave it to partners.

      Virtustream CEO Rodney Rogers will report to Joe Tucci, EMC Chairman and CEO.

      MyPOV – Good move that should allow Virtustream to remain Virtustream, only with bigger funds, sales force and partner ecosystems.

      “Virtustream is an exceptional company and this is a critical and transformative acquisition for EMC in one of the industry’s fastest-growing and most important sectors,” said Joe Tucci. “With Virtustream in place, EMC will be uniquely positioned as a single source for our customers’ entire hybrid cloud infrastructure and service’s needs. We could not be more delighted that Virtustream will be joining the EMC Federation family. It’s a game changer.”

      MyPOV – The usual quote, only not a game changer necessarily, EMC still pays in the hybrid cloud game, but another game strategy that EMC can play. In the original two world approach with EHC and vCloud Air either would move to a managed cloud offering, on premise or in the cloud. What is now clear is, that the complexity of the loads (here it is the SAP products) requires more expertise and more hand holding, something that Virtustream has successfully shown in the past.

      One of the world’s fastest-rising cloud software and services companies, Virtustream is trusted by enterprises worldwide to migrate, run and manage mission-critical applications in the cloud, including SAP. Virtustream customers include marquis enterprises such as The Coca-Cola Company, Domino Sugar, Heinz, Hess Corporation, Kawasaki, Lexmark, Scotts Miracle-Gro and a global footprint of service provider partners who use Virtustream software to power their cloud offerings.

      MyPOV – Agreed, Virtustream has done best at getting the next generation of SAP products – with Suite on Hana and now even S/4HANA into a managed cloud offering. It will be interesting who will now step up in the managed cloud space for SAP specifically and complex enterprise loads in general. But then e.g. Oracle will push to run things on the Oracle cloud. Infor has selected AWS cloud on the public cloud side. So there may be only limited potential for the ‘next’ Virtustream, as long as EMC executes well.

      Virtustream’s cloud software and Infrastructure-as-a-Service portfolio will be delivered directly to customers and through partners. EMC Federation service provider partners will receive access to Virtustream’s xStream cloud management software platform and be enabled to adopt and deliver their own branded services based upon it.

      MyPOV – Good to mention partners, who would have been worried if EMC would go to market directly. So this paragraph sounds like good news for existing EMC partners, they get another cloud deployment option and offering. For Virtustream it means a significant change in business mode from direct to indirect. Questions on documentation and robustness and time to come up to speed will be crucial now, and are not traditionally the first order of business for a technology vendor selling directly to customers. But then EMC always had a very large account sales force, which I expect EMC to keep operating.

      Presently EMC provides the Federation Enterprise Hybrid Cloud Solution — an on-premise private cloud offering that provides on-ramps to public cloud services such as VMware vCloud Air. Virtustream brings to the EMC portfolio a managed cloud software and services capability — whether on or off premise — which EMC also intends to incorporate into the Federation Enterprise Hybrid Cloud Solution. With the addition of Virtustream, EMC will enable customers to move their entire application portfolio into a cloud environment.

      MyPOV – The last sentence is key – Virtustream enables EMC to bring [a customer’s] entire application portfolio to the cloud – which points to the question why the existing offerings were not able to move these loads. The truth is probably that for highly complex ERP applications like e.g. SAP this is not a trivial task. It is not simple and straight forward loads, but the orchestration of a multitude of servers and services, a complex task that Virtustream has turned into an expert to manage.

      Founded in 2009 by Rodney Rogers and president & CTO Kevin Reid, Virtustream delivers application lifecycle automation and orchestration with a particular focus on I/O-intensive mission-critical enterprise applications such as SAP S/4HANA and others. Virtustream’s xStream platform is tightly integrated with VMware vSphere and architected to deliver service level agreements (SLAs) for not only infrastructure availability, but for application performance and transaction latency as well.

      MyPOV – 2 takeaways here – notice how EMC avoids ‘in memory’ with I/O intensive. A clear asset of Virtustream is to understand HANA deployments in general, the suite on HANA offering and the more recent S/4HANA product architecture. All in memory. So Virtustream gives EMC access to a new storage medium, that EMC has been more slowly getting to given its install base is moving loads from HDD to SSD. The other is the confidence that Virtustream had to run these complex loads, giving customers application performance and transaction latency SLAs. The two go well together of course, but where always something EMC did not provide before, EMC provided the software, partners would have to decide how comfortable they are with deep SLAs.

      “Virtustream has established itself as an industry leader and innovator for running mission-critical enterprise applications in the cloud,” explained Rodney Rogers, Virtustream Chairman and CEO. “We’re proud to be joining the EMC Federation where our combined capabilities, products and services will allow us to accelerate our vision of delivering the platform of record for enterprise systems, and address the complete breadth of cloud computing needs.”

      MYPOV – The usual glowing statements of the acquired party, let’s hope for customers it will all work out well.

      Recognition by Leading Analyst Firms

      Virtustream’s rapid rise to premier cloud provider status is evidenced by Forrester* ranking Virtustream as one of only two “Leaders” in the hosted private cloud solutions market. Gartner has recognized Virtustream in the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Cloud Infrastructure as a Service — one of the few independent companies to reach this status worldwide in public cloud IaaS.

      In addition, Virtustream integrates a comprehensive defense-in-depth security model and governance solution. This market-leading attribute is validated by Virtustream’s highest ranking in the area of security and compliance in Gartner’s “Critical Capabilities for Public Cloud Infrastructure as a Service” report. Virtustream delivers its capabilities both as software for on-premise or service provider deployment and as the foundation of the company’s IaaS solution.

      MyPOV – No comments on the quotes from the esteemed colleagues. But no question Virtustream is a good buy for EMC.

      Transaction Terms

      The all-cash transaction is expected to close in the third quarter of 2015, subject to customary closing conditions, is valued at approximately $1.2 billion, and has been approved by the boards of directors of both EMC and Virtustream and the requisite Virtustream stockholders. The transaction is expected to have no material impact to EMC financial results in 2015 and is expected to be additive to revenues and accretive to EPS in 2016.

      MyPOV – Good luck closing. The executives shared on the call that this was a competitive bid, congrats to EMC to emerge as the winner. Now for everyone else it will be harder to operationalize SAP loads, but nothing that smart people cannot understand and build (or adapt) to.

      Federation Executive Quotes:

      David Goulden, Chief Executive Officer, EMC Information Infrastructure

      “As IT organizations race to keep pace with the demands of the modern and rapidly changing business, they need to leverage both private and public clouds. The EMC Federation Enterprise Hybrid Cloud Solution enables customers to deploy rapidly a hybrid cloud that incorporates the best of both. Today’s news completes the picture, culminating in what customers want most, a one-stop-shop experience for their entire hybrid cloud needs.”

      Pat Gelsinger, Chief Executive Officer, VMware

      “This acquisition is great news for our customers, VMware and the EMC Federation of businesses. With the addition of Virtustream, we will be able to offer customers a comprehensive set of hybrid cloud offerings, including private, managed and public cloud solutions. As we deliver VMware vCloud Air to our customer base to help them continue their journey to the cloud, Virtustream complements and expands our value proposition.”

      MyPOV – Nice to get the quotes in of the potential ‘rivals’ inside of the EMC keiretsu – so good they are in line.

      Partner Quotes:

      Bill McDermott, Chief Executive Officer, SAP

      “SAP has a long-term partnership with Virtustream to host mission-critical applications in the cloud. We are excited to see Virtustream become part of EMC. SAP will continue to serve as a partner with the new EMC managed cloud services business and we remain ever committed to supporting the hybrid cloud landscapes of shared customers around the world.”

      Don Whittington, VP & CIO, Florida Crystals Corporation

      “Virtustream has been a key strategic partner for us for the last 5 years and has had a material impact on our complex IT landscape and how we run our business. The coming together of Virtustream and EMC is a natural fit that offers great promise through their combined ability to address the wide spectrum of cloud computing requirements.”

      Tom Frana, CEO, ViON

      “ViON leverages Virtustream’s xStream software platform to provide secure cloud solutions for federal government agencies. The combination of Virtustream's capabilities with EMC’s robust security portfolio and comprehensive cloud solutions will allow us to bring even more compelling services to market.”

      Gil Torquato, CEO, UOL Diveo

      “Both Virtustream and EMC are valued partners of UOL and are critical to our success in meeting the rapidly growing demand for enterprise-class cloud solutions in Brazil. Virtustream becoming part of the EMC Federation pairs Virtustream’s xStream cloud management software with EMC’s rich technology set for the delivery of market-leading, end-to-end cloud solutions.”

      MyPOV – Great collection of quotes – starting with the key load creator, SAP. It will be interesting how SAP will look at IaaS and how much it will leave to partners – at the end we are in the cloud revenue race – and IaaS revenue is also cloud revenue. SAP will have made a bundle on this, as it was an investor in Virtustream. At some point I was thinking that SAP will buy Virtustream. But then SAP uses a lot of VMware in its cloud offering, so now it will get it via EMC, may have been cheaper in the long run.

      And good to see a customer, even a Constellation SuperNova winner, Florida Crystals quoted (more here). Whittington is running one of the first 0 datacenter IT teams in the country and keeps pushing the envelope in terms of IT embracing innovative best practices.

      And key to see partners from the US and Brazil here, as their go to market has been affected by this acquisition. But there is little they can do of course, and in the end getting a richer EMC product maybe better for their business, too.

      The new EMC Cloud Portfolio and where Virtustream fits in

      Overall MyPOV

      Cloud consolidation is a key trend we predicted already three years ago. Too many ‘old school’ vendors like EMC, who despite of all the investments and acquisitions still do a lot of traditional business need to acquire more innovative vendors to inject their capabilities in their solution portfolio. With that they accelerate cloud adoption across the board, which is a benefit for most enterprises. My guess is more enterprises out there will consider the Virtustream capabilities when sold as EMC as standalone Virtustream. Enterprises don’t like uncertainty when they pick partners. 

      On the product side it also means that EMC needed a 3rd offering, between private cloud on premise and public cloud. As mentioned ERP applications are unwieldy and complex ‘characters’ when it comes to their footprint, but they can be mastered as Virtustream has showed.

      Lastly for EMC it is a key acquisition, as when competing with e.g. Microsoft, Oracle, Google, SAP et al, EMC does not have ‘in-house load’ (disregarding the VMware EUC apps and the McAfee cloud offerings as not substantial), that creates the needed economies of scale to operate successfully in the cloud age. Getting more SAP load is favorable for EMC. But then SAP load remains an attractive target for all players, so EMC cannot rest on the laurels of the acquisition for (too) long. We will be watching.

      Find more coverage on the Constellation Research website here.

      And more on VMware and Pivotal - EMC companies:

      • News Analysis - Pivotal pivots to Open Source and Hortonworks - or: Open Source keeps winning - read here
      • News Analysis - VMware makes progress towards the hybrid cloud, now lets watch adoption - read here 
      • 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.

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      Salesforce pulled a surprise earlier today with a partnership announcement in the BigData space, by announcing a partnership with a number of key BigData players.

      So let’s dissect the press release in our custom style (can be found here):

      SAN FRANCISCO, May 28, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- Salesforce [NYSE: CRM], the Customer Success Platform and world's #1 CRM company, today announced Salesforce Wave for Big Data—enabling business users to unlock value from big data and gain new customer insights with the Salesforce Analytics Cloud. With leading innovators Google, Cloudera, Hortonworks, New Relic, Informatica and Trifacta joining the Analytics Cloud Partner Ecosystem, companies can now deliver big data analytics to business users and transform every customer relationship.

      MyPOV – With the announcement Salesforce fills a gaping hole it had in the initial launch of Wave back at Dreamforce in 2014 (my takeaway here). Good to see Salesforce address it now, with a plethora of providers coming together. That by itself may well be the biggest feat of Salesforce by itself in the short run: Getting vendor that compete with each other every day to play well in a press release and announcements. If anything shows the attractiveness of the Salesforce ecosystem it is this.

      The digital universe is doubling in size every two years and will multiply 10-fold between 2013 and 2020—from 4.4 trillion to 44 trillion gigabytes[1]. This torrent of Web searches, clicks, tweets, mobile app usage and connected sensors is creating new opportunities for companies to reinvent themselves through data analytics. However, legacy analytics software was never designed to manage the volume, variety or velocity of big data.
      MyPOV – In other words – Salesforce cannot ignore the need to integrate with relevant BigData.

      Fortunately, advancements in processing speeds, bandwidth and storage have led to the rise of technologies that are breaking new ground with big data. Innovators such as Google, Cloudera, Hortonworks and New Relic are now making it possible for developers, IT and data scientists to compute and process any data at massive scale. Despite this progress, the value of big data largely remains out of reach for sales, service, marketing and other business professionals—where its potential to inform every tactical and strategic decision may have the most impact on customer success and business performance.

      MyPOV – Always good to move data closer to the consumers, and Salesforce has a lot of consumers for that data from a CRM angle. But the opportunity lies in the weakness of the current providers, that have not matured enough to make their offerings affordable, digestible and usable (ADU) for the business end users. So Salesforce has a limited window to enrich its overall offerings and Wave with the BigData capabilities. On the flipside we know all the mentioned partners, and they are well aware that the race for the business end user is on the way and are equally planning their moves. 

      Salesforce Analytics Cloud Delivers Big Data for the Rest of Us

      Salesforce Analytics Cloud, powered by the Wave Platform, was designed to empower everyone to explore all forms of data, uncover new insights and take action instantly from any device. And with Salesforce Wave for Big Data, leading innovators Google, Cloudera, Hortonworks and New Relic are joining the Analytics Cloud Partner Ecosystem to extend the volume, variety and velocity of big data to the business user—unlocking its value to transform every customer relationship. Now sales, service, marketing and other business professionals can discover correlations and patterns across any combination of transactional data—such as CRM, ERP, finance, and HR systems—and unstructured or semi-structured big data sets, all from within the Analytics Cloud.


      MyPOV – The value proposition is clear, of course with (this is Salesforce) a heavy dose of marketing and chutzpa. What Salesforce is doing is accessing the data from BigData clusters and bringing them to the Wave data store. However, it does not provide one of the key BigData capabilities – which is all about querying all kinds of ‘crazy’ questions in the hunt of insights. With Salesforce moving the data into Wave, it takes out a lot of the flexibility that BigData / Hadoop had. On the positive side for Salesforce users, it becomes easy connected with the business data. 

      For example:

      · Google offers a set of cloud big data services to ingest, process, store and analyze billions of rows and quickly run advanced queries without having to manage any infrastructure. Using Salesforce Wave for Big Data, a marketing manager can analyze the correlations between customer profiles in Salesforce and actual customer engagement data from the Google Cloud Platform—such as purchases, clickstream and mobile app usage—to optimize marketing spend and increase customer acquisition.


      MyPOV – A good example for the value Google brings to Salesforce, information on usage of Google Cloud Platform. There is more to the partnership, as Google may play into the DaaS domain. Google Analytics (of websites) would be very interesting for marketers. Presence and location are key for sales people. Usage stats of Android apps and phones are key for service users.

      · Cloudera enables companies to deploy an enterprise data hub, a secure analytics platform powered by Apache Hadoop, to store, process and analyze any data type at scale. Now a marketing executive will be able to identify patterns between a product usage logs from Cloudera alongside CRM demographics to target the right customers for a loyalty campaign.

      MyPOV – Good angle with data hub and security, something that Cloudera has worked on very well (my Progress report from the analyst summit is here) and the examples are good from a CRM context perspective.

      · Hortonworks provides an enterprise-grade data management platform based on 100 percent Apache Core that enables companies to use the power of Hadoop-drive analytics to optimize the performance of Hadoop cluster. Now a retail bank associate can explore massive amounts of operational, transactional and balance data to understand local economic trends to provide better banking services and counsel to each customer.

      MyPOV – No surprise – Hortonworks uses their 100% Apache Core differentiator, and the retail banking offering equally offers value for CRM / Salesforce.

      · New Relic delivers a software analytics platform that provides real-time insights on the performance of a company's Web and mobile apps. As a result, companies can better understand how customers are engaging with their digital brand, including clickstreams, mobile activity, end-user experiences and transactions. Now correlations between customers' behavior on a retail mobile app and history of customer purchases can be visualized together to enable a sales rep to improve cross-selling strategies.

      MyPOV – NewRelic is a little of a surprise to be in this mix, good for the vendor. The more technical web site statistics will help service and sales users in Salesforce.

      Analytics Cloud Brings Together Business Users, Data Scientists and IT to Define New Data-Driven Customer Strategies

      To enable data scientists and IT to transform big data into a usable form for business users, leading data preparation providers Informatica and Trifacta have also joined the Analytics Cloud Partner Ecosystem.

      · Informatica delivers a leading cloud-based data integration and data preparation platform that enables citizen integrators, business analysts and IT developers to access, integrate and correlate transactional data, interaction data, and even machine data, at petabyte scale, for analysis within the Analytics Cloud.


      MyPOV – No surprise to see Informatica here, the vendor has bet early on Salesforce and is the probably the #1 integration player for Salesforce, good for both vendors to join the effort (my takeaways of the recent Informatica World is here).

      · Trifacta removes the burdens of working with big data by empowering data analysts and IT to discover, structure, clean and enrich data of all shapes and sizes in Hadoop, making it easier than ever to bring big data insights into the Analytics Cloud.

      MyPOV – Good for Trifacta to have made it in the announcement, as the smallest vendor of the party. And Trifacta is featured prominently in the demos of Salesforce, good for the vendor.

      "We live in a hyper-competitive world, and big data must deliver big value across every part of the business," said Keith Bigelow, SVP & GM of Analytics Cloud, Salesforce. "Salesforce Wave for Big Data connects the Analytics Cloud to the industry's most comprehensive ecosystem of big data innovators—now every company can extend any data source to business users to transform every customer relationship."

      "We're excited to join forces with Salesforce because it will enable Salesforce customers to easily make use of Google Cloud Platform and leverage the scale, speed, ease of use and power of Google Cloud Platform's big data services such as Google BigQuery and Google Cloud Dataflow," said Adam Massey, director of cloud ecosystem, Google. "This collaboration will provide customers with a complete view of their business and a fine-grained understanding of their customer interactions."

      "Organizations are looking for new ways to capture and analyze the vast amounts of human and machine data," said John Kreisa, vice president of strategic marketing, Hortonworks. "Combining the power of the Salesforce Analytics Cloud with the Hortonworks Data Platform gives enterprises the ability to capture and analyze all of their data for new insights."

      "We believe the New Relic Software Analytics Platform and the Salesforce Analytics Cloud will deliver powerful insights about companies' app performance, customer experience and business success," said John Gray, SVP of business development, New Relic. "Together we aim to enable companies through data-driven decision-making to build new digital experiences and connect with their customers."

      "We live in an age of customer engagement where businesses are engaging with their customers through multiple social and mobile channels and trying to predict their interests and buying behavior," said Ronen Schwartz, vice president and general manager, Informatica Cloud. "This requires the preparation, integration and analysis of transactional data in CRM and ERP systems in conjunction with the clickstream and machine data generated by users on these social and mobile channels. The combination of Informatica Cloud and Informatica Rev delivers the only cloud native big data preparation and integration platform capable of dealing with this variety, complexity and scale of data for downstream analysis in Salesforce Analytics Cloud."

      "We're extremely excited to partner with Salesforce and enable its users to wrangle the different shapes and sizes of big data for analysis in the Analytics Cloud," said Dan Niemann, vice president of worldwide field operations, Trifacta. "As organizations continue to expand their use of data to deliver competitive advantages in the market, the ability of these companies to empower business users to drive their own analysis of big data is critical to success. With this integration, business users are now able to prepare raw, complex data at scale using Trifacta and seamlessly deliver the output to the Analytics Cloud for downstream analysis."


      MyPOV – The usual quotes – no commenting needed.

      Analytics Cloud Ecosystem Extends Analytics for Every Business Need

      Powered by the Wave Platform, Analytics Cloud brings together a dynamic user experience, indexed search and a powerful computing engine to explore any data source. Designed from the ground up to be open, more than 80 partners have now joined the Analytics Cloud ecosystem to extend analytics for every conceivable use case and enable data-driven companies to connect with customers in a whole new way.


      MyPOV – Considering that Wave only started about 9 months ago it is an impressive ecosystem that has been created by the power of the Salesforce brand and customer community.

      Pricing and Availability

      · Salesforce Analytics Cloud is generally available in English, with additional language support forthcoming.

      · The Analytics Cloud mobile app is available on Apple iOS for iPhone, iPad and Apple Watch, with additional device support forthcoming.

      MyPOV – While Salesforce is doing well on platform support – it needs to move beyond English to share the advances to its worldwide user community – better sooner than later.

      Overall MyPOV

      An impressive feat by Salesforce to get an illustrious ensemble of partners together. And making newer advances in technology like BigData available to business users is a good and key move.

      On the concern side, Salesforce has chosen a traditional approach with loading the BigData into the Wave Store. These ‘coexist & extract’ approaches with BigData have been around since a long time (think of the classic data warehouse), but are recently on the retreat, the most notably being SAP (see latest blog here). The fundamental question is – can vendors ‘pump’ relevant data into their stores as fast as business users want to see it. We asked Bigelow and currently Wave gets refreshed hourly. That was more than good enough 5 years ago – even more than could be done then. And for now certainly a good enough update frequency for most CRM use cases.

      On the positive side, user experience and speed of response are very good, and will likely delight users. Salesforce has done a good job of enriching its business data inside of Salesforce with BigData stored in Hadoop clusters with other vendors, now many of them partners.

      Please check out my colleague Dough Henschen's take on this, very much worth the read, here

      More on Salesforce:
      • News Analysis - Market Move - Salesforce (re) enters HCM - will it rypple the market this time? - Read here
      • Event Report - Salesforce Dreamforce - A Customer Succes Platform, Analytics and Lightning - but really Salesforce is re-platforming - read here
      • Constellation Research Summary of Salesforce Dreamforce 2014 - read here
      • Research Summary - An in depth look at Salesforce1 - Better packaging or new offerng? Read here.
      • Dreamforce 2013 Platform Takeaways - All about the mobile platform - or more? Read here
      • Platform ecosystems are hard - Salesforce grows it - FinancialForce shrinks it - read here.
      • Our take on Identity Connect - from three angles - Identity, CRM and PaaS - read here.
      • Takeaways from the Salesforce and Workday Strategic Partnership - read here.
      • Act II - The Cloud changes everything - Oracle and - read here.
      • How many Pivots make a Pirouette? Salesforce's last Pivot - read here.
      Find more coverage on the Constellation Research website here and checkout my magazine on Flipboard.

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      We had the opportunity to attend Google I/O in San Francisco today. As usual the conference sold out in a matter of hours and is filling up Moscone West with 6500 attendees. 

      So here are the takeaways from the keynote:

      Android M  - for More usability– The next release of Android, M, is coming in Q3 2015. Google will focus on usability for the release, a good move as it has been pushing for new functionality in the L release. And usability is the #1 thing not working for Google when combatting Apple for the smartphone market shares. But usability for Google does not mean a new user interface – but a number of improvements. The major one is probably Android Pay, and Google is bringing capabilities back to older Android version. The fast loading will likely delight users, but needs apps and developers to uptake the capability, so the benefits will be out a little from today. Changing app permissions on the fly – not at install – is a good capability that makes users think about what and who they are giving access to. Android Wear has made good progress, too – Google is augmenting the platform with regular updates, which creates value for early users. With over 4k apps for Android watch Google has substantial counter weight vs the omnipresent Apple iWatch.
      6 New Key Capabilities with Android M 

      Brillo and Weave for IoT– Google wants to play (even more post Nest) in the IoT space, and both Brillo and Weave are key steps for that market. Brillo is a shrink down version of Android, as an OS for things, a smart move leveraging Android assets. Weave sets the communication protocol, and its beauty is that is dynamic in the declaration of the payload. Brillo is coming in Q3 of 2015 and Weave in Q4 of 2015, Google will publish updates and specs during the year so developers can start coding. 

      Polymer 1.0 is coming (sorry super fuzzy)

      GoogleNow changes paradigm– It used to be that a smartphone vendor would invoke the virtual assistant – but that action would be context free, maybe augmented by location. Google is changing this with GoogleNow on tap – fetching the context of the user to make better recommendations and take actions. Google has done well of doing this without being invasive to the apps, but making it a platform feature. Content can be fetched by #GoogleNow without apps exposing information. That maybe a security / PII issue – but as with any innovation, let’s look at the insights and gains in productivity first. Getting more data available makes always for better analytics. So a good move by Google that can have the most profound impact on the Future of Work.

      Deep Neural Networks are GoogleNow's Magic Sauce


      A good start to Google I/O – which was more Android centric than ever (or I can recall). In previous years we had search, the Chrome vs Android story, moonshot projects etc. – this year it was all about Android, and the Android developer to build more Android apps. That message came across and was well received by the audience, which is mostly… developers.

      It’s good to see Google going a little more conservative and deliver ready[HM1] , e.g. all announcements were delivering in 2015. On the concern side I was surprised that Google Cloud Platform and the Google Apps were featured only shortly, they provide significant value to the Android ecosystem and developers.

      But it is early from Google I/O 2015 – stay tuned.

      And here is my Meerkat takeways of the keynote:

      More about Google:

      • News Analysis - Google does it again (lower prices for Google Cloud Platform), enterprises take notice - read here
      • News Analyse - Google I/O Takeaways Value Propositions for the enterprise - read here 
      • Google gets serious about the cloud and it is different - read here
      • A tale of two clouds - Google and HP - read here
      • Why Google acquired Talaria - efficiency matters - read here

      Find more coverage on the Constellation Research website here and checkout my magazine on Flipboard

      And some 'notes' from Twitter: 

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      We know business is running faster than ever before, with little to no chance of slowing down. We often talk about the fact that more than 50% of the Fortune 500 are no longer part of the index, a development that has happened in the last dozen or so years. We also use another statistic from the Fortune 500 Index, where the average age of the company joining the index is now 10 years, meaning it has been founded this century. So there is no question – things are speeding up.

      But speeding up is not easy and as enterprises struggle on how to pick up speed, the people function needs to get ready and help. Ironically the HR function has been more pre-occupied with compliance issues, largely triggered by the ACA in the US and other statutory changes worldwide, than with looking at how to make the HR function leaner and more agile with the ultimate goal to help accelerate the overall business.

      The good news is that HR systems vendors have realized this, and there is help on the way, but before these solution ship in the coming quarters – let’s look at what the criteria for a successful next generation HR product should be:

      Let’s look at the first three of them in this blog post – more to come later:

      Business User

      Many generations of HR software have been written with the HR professional in mind. And while that was a valid approach in the 20th century, bowing to Tayloresque organization models and following them in enterprise software, it is not valid for the 21st century anymore. Business users don’t have the time to walk by the HR professional for a chat, weekly 1 to 1s are history and in general business users are not necessarily looking forward to work with HR. And the reason is at hand – business users have to move faster, but HR is not, so intuitively they tend to cater to human nature and start to avoid what is not helping them. No business line user is primarily paid for their job to ensure compliance, but to ensure business results through leadership of the people in their team. In consequence it means that next generation HR software is not designed and built for HR professionals – but for the business users who manage people. Automation for the HR professionals is then the next step. So when looking at the next generation of HR software, look for the support of the business user.

      BigData enabled

      We are witnessing a fundamental change in the computing model that is applied to software problems. In the past the compute model was characterized by sparse resources, which by today is part of the history. Specifically to BigData it means that enterprises can store all their existing data again, in BigData clusters, for a fraction of the cost, with the benefit of more in depth analysis, even not knowing what questions they may ask down the road. So not only can new insights be found, but BigData solutions offer business users for the first time the re-assurance to be able to ask any questions and chase any potential insight that may pop up in the future. That is of tremendous value, especially when considering both acceleration and uncertainty enterprises face. So make sure your next generation of HR software takes advantage of BigData capabilities.

      ‘True’ Analytics

      A lot of talk happens on analytics these days, but business users should be aware of very little software that is called ‘analytics’ does true analytics. And with that I refer to either taking an action or make a recommendation (read my blog post here). A chart, visualization, dashboard does not do that, it’s back to the human to make the decision. But confronted with a need to make more decisions in less times, ‘true’ analytics are the solution for business users that have to execute faster. So equally make sure that when you make decisions for next generation HR software – that it enables ‘true’ analytics. Because at the end you don’t want business users start downloading data in spreadsheets and upload them to some (maybe questionable) analytical insight web sites.

      Stay tuned for Part II.

      Find more coverage on the Constellation Research website here and checkout my magazine on Flipboard

      And more Musings posts:
      • Musings - Is Transboarding the Future of People Management? Read here
      • Musings - How technology innovation fuels Recruiting and disrupts the laggards - read here
      • Musings - What is the future of recruiting? Read here
      • Why all the attention to recruiting? Read here.

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       We had the opportunity to attend Google’s I/O conference held in San Francisco last week at Moscone West.
      The conference was sold out quickly as usual and the 6500+ attendees were treated to probably the best setup and conference floors that I have seen at Moscone West. 


      Open talk area that were separated by cardboard and wooden elements, created a unique atmosphere. A 270 degree video wall during the keynote was unique, too – not only could you play a mega version of Pong, but a whale swam by… More remarkably all talks were just 30 minutes long, so a huge chance for the attendees to dive into many areas of interest.

      In contrast to previous editions of Google I/O, the 2015 edition was all about Android. In the past we saw the Chrome vs Android debate, we saw ‘moonshot’ projects like Loon, self-driving cars and Google Glass (saw less than a handful at the conference), major software platforoms like Wave and Google+ being unveiled. This year the only mention of Chrome was as part of a new feature in Android M. Android Auto (4 cars were in the exhibit area on level 3) didn’t get much room. It is not clear why Google was all focused on Android, see my take on it in the MyPOV section below.

      So here are my Top 3 takeaways:

      Developer Focus– As mentioned Google wants developers to build more Android apps and apps that are more tied into Google specific capabilities and services. Google Cloud Messaging is one example. Exposing app content to the Learning graph is another. Up taking Polymer will make developers more productive and likely expose the content ‘automagically’ to GoogleNow. The most intriguing benefit to build on the Google platform from a monetization perspective were the new capabilities to present an app differently on Google Play – testing designs, getting usage analytics and automated content management are setting Google apart. And Google has a ‘higher ground’ advantage here – as developers trust that google has the web site / Play Store analytics down.

      IoT– The announcement of Project Brillo and the Weave protocol is probably the most fundamental and lasting announcement Google made at I/O. Especially as we learnt in a Q&A with Dave Burke later, that the IoT updates will roll out with the Google Play services on a regular level – so every Android device is becoming a potential control point for IoT. That makes Android the largest IoT platform from a user reach overnight. A lot of things will have to happen, many end points have to be created, but the Nest acquisition by Google now makes a lot of more sense. And ‘things’ makers will want to connect their things to widely available, starting with the leading platform – and Android is the one / one of them. That will ensure the Weave uptake from nothing today. And as Google does not want to monetize the usage of Weave and Brillo, I’d be expect if it would not see similar popularity like Android. Google competitors need to realize that Google is not on this for the software revenue, but for the data. That makes competition asymmetrical and likely in Google’s favor.


      GoogleNow– As a strong believer that nothing will change our future more than ‘true’ analytics (more here) , the new availability of Google now ‘on tap’ is very powerful. We know analytics get better with more content and context – with Google now being able to take the current screen content as parameters for GoogleNow questions and services will make these (even) better. Google shares that the (neural) learning trees are now 30 levels deep. To put it in perspective: If I remember neurology correctly, human brains decision trees are 10 levels deep, but then our brain has some more tricks up is sleeve… Already Google has pushed down not understood words to 8%, and that by itself – considering the multiple languages GoogleNow supports, is very impressive. And the GoogleNow team is correctly playing in a multimodal world, so pressing the <Home> button in one app / time point vs another will run different models. When I asked when / if Google will have a neural model for each user, I did not get an answer, but I am sure that is where Google is heading – if it has not arrived there today already.

      Analyst Tidbits

      • AndroidPay– Google is extending its payment platform with NFC and finger print sensor capabilities. Combining Google Wallet and Android pay gives Google a similar footprint as Apple in terms of retailers accepting payment. It will be interesting to see how fast the handset makers will jump on supporting NFC for Android devices going forward – a key piece of hardware capability that is needed for AndroidPay to take off. Smartly Google is bringing the pay capabilities back to older handsets, too.

      • GooglePhotos– In the perfect showcase of brining cloud and analytics together, Google unveiled unlimited storage for photos, up to 16MPixel and for 1080 video. The key value is the face and location recognition, e.g. getting all your Venice pictures together will be an easy feat by just asking. More below on the commercialization strategy of the feature, for now Google told us that it is all about creating a ‘sticky’ application for consumers, and a high frequency application that they will visit multiple times a day. But overall a great showcase for analytics and machine learning solving a material problem. Also photos have effectively become the center of gravity for consumers, something once upon a time music was (remember the iPod). 
      • Offline Maps– Probably one of the most practical announcements was that Google Maps will be available offline later this year. Including map data, the demo even showed restaurant reviews being cached. Ironical to a certain point as we were there already. In 2001 I drove across the country with a GPS add on to my Palm III – having to download the map data for the next day every night. 
      • Cardboard– I missed the last year announced project Cardboard. But a colleague gave me a demo this year and I was impressed how far and well such a low cost option can move virtual reality. With Expeditions Google has a nice education story. And Google cares for the not so wealthy end of the world a lot – so an interesting alternative. On the flipside this cannot match what Microsoft and Facebook are doing. Google will need a high end virtual reality option soon, too. 
      • Small footprintIt was great to see that Google cares for slow throughput and expensive data networks that are crucial for success in the not so affluent parts of the world. Thinner pages, faster load times, offline capabilities and Wifi connect may well put Google on a strong differentiator to Apple. But then we have seen that all of this did not help Blackberry, who had a lot of these capabilities already in the past, to remain a relevant player in smartphones. On the flipside the Google business model is not the smartphone… 
      • Project Jacquard– One of the more impressive ATAP projects demoed was Jacquard – very small wires embedded into textiles and allowing basic automation / control functions for e.g. lights and music. It will be a lot of textiles to be produced before this has mass appeal, but e.g. fitness applications could be in near reach. 
      • Audi Tablets– AndroidAuto was prominent with 4 cars on display. Audi seems to have a ‘Vorsprung durch Tablet’, being the first car maker to not only deploy AndroidAuto in the car dashboard, but also via 2 ‘Audi Tablets’ who serve as in seat entertainment system for the 2nd row. But also as a remote control for a number of car function and services. 
      Android Device Diversity


      A new, unique content selection by Google for I/O. Speaking with repeat attendees they were not ‘blown’ away, citing a lack of exciting announcements compared to previous editions. But when speaking to Android developers, they found the event very useful as they were able to capture significant insights and even get some hands on experience. Maybe Google is at the point where it needs to split its conferences – which to a certain point the vendor has done already with the Google Cloud Platform (GCP) roadshow. When I asked Googlers about the absence of other major topics, they cited little interest on GCP by Google I/O 2014 attendees. Interesting as the Microsoft developers hoarded into Moscone West a few week ago for BuildWin were highly interested in Azure (Event report here). But then few Microsoft developers can make a living building Microsoft mobile Apps, many of the Google I/O attendees do, and I guess that creates a certain focus on their side and demand for content from Google.

      And if Google has done one thing clear, it wants developers to build more Android Apps. New tooling, better go to market, easier monetization, differentiating capabilities all are capabilities that make developers take note and care. And Google is in a battle with both Apple and Facebook on this. Apple is likely to be the #1 target, as there were numerous port, deploy and co-existence options (e.g. Google Cloud Messaging extend to iOS). It will be key to see if all the features will provide enough attraction to shift the market shares in the mobile platform competition.

      At the same time Google is also under pressure to make sure Android remains attractive and create such a R&D lead that the many Android flavors that have come up in the recent years do not lead to a further defragmentation of the Android experience. On the one side it is great to see the diversity of wearables, smartphones and tablets – on the other side it hurts Google in a cross device experience for end users. Google is trying to end this conundrum by out-innovating (and likely out-spending) the handset makers, and new features like GoogleNow on tap using the Google development frameworks create the uptake through apps (developers) to ensure a more consisting Android experience.

      Lastly let’s be clear that Google is a massive data gathering operation. Making Google Photos free and unlimited solves a huge pain for consumers, but also gives Google a chance to learn more about them. And overall Google needs to collect more data, because at some point in the future there may be a better search algorithm for the web than Googles. The big difference today is that scaling that algorithm is easy in the cloud age (remember Google had to developer the super computer needed for that), so better answers are powered by predictive analytics like GoogleNow. And analytics success is determined by more data always wins, in the long run. The more data Google has, the better the predictions will be the more likely it will delight consumers and with that help Google’s advertisement business model. Nothing new here, what is bugging me at the moment is, that I cannot fathom the business model beyond ‘Do good’ behind Google Photos. Combining pictures without the personal content for immersive experiences and simulations will be an option, e.g. if a consumer books travel through (a not yet existing) Google travel app – you can see the view of the hotel room, maybe even the hotel room before you request it (certainly including the rating of previous users). Google may also be able to replace the Google cars that capture Streetview. It will be very interesting to see how Google will monetize pictures – it is funny – the business model is clear, but not the how. For now. And Google says they want to create a ‘sticky’ app and an app user’s return to everyday. Photos certainly helps here to create a Google unique ‘moat’ to the competition.

      But to remain relevant the Android ecosystem needs to grow, and for that it needs apps. The only statistics of significance was that there are 1B+ users of the Play Store and that in the last months 50B apps have been installed. That’s a lot of apps. But rumor is that active Android device growth has flattened out (Google offered no stats – in contrast to previous years), and that maybe the ultimate motivation to dedicate the 2015 I/O almost exclusively to Android.

      If my schedule allows I will blog about the enterprise takeaways later… checkout my Keynote First Take here– including a Storify Tweet Collection and a Meerkat capture.

      More about Google:
      • First Take - Google I/O Day #1 Keynote - it is all about Android - read here
      • News Analysis - Google does it again (lower prices for Google Cloud Platform), enterprises take notice - read here
      • News Analyse - Google I/O Takeaways Value Propositions for the enterprise - read here 
      • Google gets serious about the cloud and it is different - read here
      • A tale of two clouds - Google and HP - read here
      • Why Google acquired Talaria - efficiency matters - read here

      Find more coverage on the Constellation Research website here and checkout my magazine on Flipboard

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      We had the opportunity to participate in MongoDB’s user conference MongoDBWorld in New York this week. The conference is well attended with approx. 2000 attendees, remarkably most of them ‘doers’ that are directly involved in bringing MongoDB projects live recently or planning to do so soon.

      So here are my Top 3 Takeaways from the event:

      MongoDB is growing– Though the vendor is not breaking out numbers, there are some key metrics that show how well the vendor is doing. For instance, MongoDB has broken the 10M download mark. Certainly nothing to guarantee revenue, but it makes a large qualified market for MongoDB to sell its licenses. The vendor shared that it has now 2000+ subscription customers and over 300k people have taken MongoDB education classes. The Opensource project has 35k members and MongoDB now has over 10k technology partners. All impressive numbers that show that MongoDB is offering an attractive product.

      Key product Progress– On the product side MongoDB is making progress, with a focus on the recent addition on the storage layer, something the vendor did not have at its first MongoDBWorld a year ago (more here). All key product advances have been neatly packed into press releases (they are here) – and let’s comment on them:
      • Performance Wars to re-start - MongoDB claims the performance crown over Cassandra and Couchbase (see here) – In a test performed by United Software Associates using the Yahoo Cloud Serving Benchmark (YCSB). The test throws the performance challenge out to the two other databases and I am sure both vendors will respond sooner than later (Couchbase also has their user conference this week) – so stayed tuned.

        From my perspective: As useful and important performance tests are – they always struggle on the comparison side. And every customer situation is different, so we recommend to take them as one measurement point, but strongly recommend customers to run their own benchmarks for critical performance pieces. 

      • Visualization matters– In the past BI tools / visualization vendors like Tableau, SAP Business Objects, Qlik and IBM Cognos have used MongoDB as a data store for more advanced and more complex content. Now MongoDB turns this around by providing a standard connector for these tools, supported by MongoDB. Certainly a better solution for MongoDB customers as they get their database of choice being able to support a variety of front end tools. For sure this will start another discussion on back end vs. front ends in business data, but it is good to see the backend side to catch up. And showing MongoDB’s market power and customer needs, MongoDB will start with Tableau first, no surprise. But it shows the power of MongoDB, getting Tableau on stage at the Day 2 keynote (similar as having Docker CEO Gollub on Day 1).

      • More coming in MongoDB 3.2– With the upcoming release of MongoDB schedule for later this year, MongoDB is pushing the yardstick further out in regards of value creation for customers. Customer want to make sure documents are being useful and valid for their purposes, so document validation is a key new capability. But when you store vital information in documents, you must secure them, so MongoDB adds encryption for data at rest. Providing the above mentioned visualization support certainly required MongoDB to create more view across collections, but why have the capability locked up for visualization only, so MongoDB exposes it as a separate capability to developers, too. And lastly souping up administration tools is never a bad choice for a technology product, the new mongoScout allows administrators and developers to understand better what is going in their MongoDB databases. 
      Full Sessions at MongoDBWorld

      Once again, it is land & expand– The popular go to market and sales approach of open source vendors was part of the briefings (see the Alteryx and Acumatica approach to it here and here). It was good to see both CMO Meisenberger and CRO Delatorre walk us through the go to market in synch on all key topics, such harmony is seldom found between a CMO and CRO / Head of Sales. With 10 million downloads it is clear that MongoDB needs to carefully decide where to invest marketing $s, sales resource follow up, upsell opportunities etc. It looks like the team has a good handle on the process, the investors are investing more in go to market, with the focus being business growth in Europe and Asia, with an overall goal to sell more through partners. After all CEO Ittycheria stated that a working demand side is key for the success of startups, so it is clear there is a focus on this (key) side of the business.
      Very MongoDB Green


      A very good user conference for MongoDB, that is growing well in both product and go to market capabilities. Given some executive changes, including the CEO, quite a remarkable outcome, not many startups come out strong after management changes. On the product side there has been more continuity with Horowitz at the helm and MongoDB is looking for more scale and growth of its subscription sales potential. By pointing to the popular visualization area, the vendor very likely is betting on a winner. Enterprises struggle often to make visualization tools work and to take them live in general, so making this integration easier creates value for enterprises and on the flipside revenue potential for MongoDB.

      On the concern side MongoDB needs to manage growth well. A good problem to have, nonetheless a challenging one. Investors and customers are getting used to growth in market numbers and product capabilities quickly, and delivering on these consistently is not an easy task. MongoDB has shown it can tackle complex engineering projects with its storage plans, but that process is far from over and needs to be managed well with high quality releases, good knowledge dissemination as well as partner uptake and education. A lot of things to orchestrate.

      The good news is that MongoDB does no face a competitor with an identical (or very, very similar) value proposition. That means that as long as MongoDB can keep up a differentiating story to the incumbent database vendors that enterprises use, and as long as MongoDB keeps executing - it will do well. We will be watching and analyzing.

      More on MongoDB
      • Event Report - MongoDB is a showcase for the power of open source in the enterprise - read here

      Other technology posts
      • Musings - The advent of the No-Design DB - read here
      • Event Report - Google I/O - Google wants developers to first & foremost build more Android apps - read here
      • News Analysis - Salesforce Transforms Big Data Into Customer Success with the Salesforce Analytics Cloud - read here
      • News Analysis - Google does it again (lower prices for Google Cloud Platform), enterprises take notice - read here
      • Market Move - EMC to acquire Virtustream - More paths to the cloud - read here
      • Musings - Future of Work - Is Voice part of it? Post Cortana launch thoughts - read here
      • News Analysis - Google gets serious about cloud - and it is different - read here

      Find more coverage on the Constellation Research website here and checkout my magazine on Flipboard

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      Right in time for its yearly Digital Disruption user conference taking part in Park City, HireVue announced a new round of funding.

      So let’s dissect the press release in our usual commentary style, it can be found here:

      SILICON SLOPES, UTAH (June 2, 2015) – Team Acceleration software provider HireVue, today announced it has closed $45 million in Series E funding led by Technology Crossover Ventures (TCV), a leading provider of growth equity for premier technology companies and investors in Zillow, Netflix, ExactTarget and Facebook. HireVue’s previous investors, including Sequoia Capital, Granite Ventures, Investor Growth Capital, Peterson Ventures and Rose Park Advisors’ Disruptive Innovation Fund also participated in the round. Nari Ansari, a principal at TCV, will join HireVue’s board of directors.

      MyPOV – A great list of VC investors is putting in more money into HireVue. Good VCs are not a guarantee for success, but increase the likeliness of success. So a good sign that HireVue keeps attracting capital from successful investors.

      Today, HireVue also announced the launch of its Team Acceleration Software, which puts the power to build and coach great teams, fueled by digital video and predictive data analytics, directly in the hands of business managers everywhere.

      MyPOV – So HireVue is going beyond its traditional scope of video recruiting, where the vendor originally started 10+ years ago, into a larger automation space, the overall productivity of teams. And in the 21st century that means that teams need to accelerate, do more with less and faster. So Team Acceleration is a good name for a new category it looks like HireVue is trying to create.

      “The new world is about empowering managers and teams - not slowing them down with administrative tasks like time tracking, compliance, benefits and payroll,” said Mark Newman, founder and CEO, HireVue. “Team Acceleration is the way and philosophy that today’s most successful companies are built on. The market opportunity is even bigger than talent management. HireVue customers grow faster, are more profitable, and deliver awesome customer experiences by building and coaching the world’s best teams through our platform. We’re excited to partner with TCV as we push to our next phase of growth and put the power of our Team Acceleration software in the hands of business leaders everywhere.”

      MyPOV – Good to hear Newman describing that space. And he is likely right with the Team Acceleration market being bigger than the traditional Talent Management market, which struggles by itself with the failure of the first wave of Talent Management that mostly did not succeed transforming enterprises talent management practices. In the end, more managers care about their team’s productivity than about classic talent management, which in many cases is being perceived as something coming ‘from the top’ and needing to be done ‘for the boss’. Getting done with more work and getting home earlier, or to have more free time in general, are more desirable and attractive for managers.

      The funding and Team Acceleration software launch capitalize on other recent company momentum including:
      · Named one of the Top “10 Most Promising Companies in America” by Forbes
      · Named the fourth fastest-growing cloud app of the first quarter of 2015, alongside mainstream apps including FitBit and Slack.*
      · Record fiscal year 2014 growth
      · Working with approximately 25 percent of the Fortune 100
      · Hosted its 2nd Annual Digital Disruption user conference

      MyPOV – Congrats to the HireVue management team and employees to these accolades.


      Overall MyPOV

      Software vendors are often compelled to create their own category, and then trying to define it to their own advantages. Certainly legitimate and HireVue is no exception, but the more successful attempts to this approach are characterized by a substantial need for the category in the market. And here HireVue is spot on – individuals and teams need to accelerate, both out of their own, self-preserving intrinsic motivation, as well as a demands coming from the outside, from management. Even more importantly, HireVue has a very good record in the recruiting space and even more importantly in using ‘true’ analytics to its advantage (more here). 

      So congrats to HireVue on funding and the launch of a new category, we will be watching how well the vendor will be able to fill the vision and then execute to the advantage of its customers. 

      More on HireVue
      • News Analysis - HireVue announces Insights - a key step to bring (true) analytics to enterprise software - read here.
      • First Take - 3 Takeaways from HireVue Digita Disruption Conference - Day 1 Keynote - read here

      More on Recruiting
      • Musings - How Technology Innovation fuels Recruiting and disrupts the Laggards - read here
      • Musings - What is the future of recruiting? Read here
      • HRTech 2014 takeaways - read here.
      • Why all the attention to recruiting? Read here.

      Find more coverage on the Constellation Research website here and checkout my magazine on Flipboard

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      HP is having its yearly HP Discover conference right now in Las Vegas, and (finally - we have been waiting for some time) has clarified and updates its cloud plans.

      The press release can be found here - let's dissect the press release in our usual commentary style:

      LAS VEGAS – June 2, 2015 – Today at HP Discover 2015, HP announced updates to the HP Helion portfolio that will help enterprises realize the benefits of transitioning to a hybrid infrastructure. HP introduced HP Helion CloudSystem 9.0, the next release of its flagship integrated enterprise cloud solution, and enhancements to HP Helion Managed Cloud Services to manage enterprise workloads in a secure hosted cloud environment.

      MyPOV – It has been quiet around HP Helion for a while – so it is good to more activity, right in time for HP Discover 2015. The wording with ‘help to transition to a hybrid infrastructure’ is interesting – as most enterprises already live and breathe in one today. But certainly there are a number of (HP customer?) enterprises left that are only looking at this.

      Enterprises today spend the majority of IT budgets – by some estimates as high as 90 percent – on maintaining existing systems. HP estimates enterprises can reduce IT maintenance costs by approximately 40 percent by migrating existing systems to a cloud-based architecture. This can free-up the capital enterprise IT departments need to modernize application development and pursue new revenue generating opportunities.

      MyPOV – A very good pitch for cloud in general, let’s read on if HP can make it tangible / unique why customers should use Helion.

      “Enterprise customers have a range of needs in moving to the cloud—some need to cloud-enable traditional workloads, while others seek to build next generation ‘cloud native’ apps using modern technologies like OpenStack®, Cloud Foundry® and Docker,” said Bill Hilf, senior vice president, HP Helion Product and Service Management. “The expanded support for multiple hypervisors and cloud environments in HP Helion CloudSystem 9.0 gives enterprises and service providers added flexibility to gain cloud benefits for their existing and new applications.”

      MyPOV – Hilf mentions what is making this announcement unique – support for multiple hypervisors and cloud environments (aka IaaS providers).

      A single, flexible cloud solution for diverse cloud requirements
      HP Helion CloudSystem is an integrated, end-to-end, private cloud solution, built to help customers realize the benefits of a hybrid infrastructure—designed for traditional and cloud native workloads, enabling automation, orchestration and control across multiple heterogeneous clouds, workloads and technologies.

      MyPOV – First time it comes across to me that HP Helion Cloudsystem is a private cloud solution (only). But then HP says it is more allowing cross cloud orchestration. So it is actually a hybrid cloud management system.

      HP Helion CloudSystem 9.0 expands support for multiple hypervisors and multiple clouds to provide enterprises and service providers with maximum flexibility. Additionally,

      HP Helion CloudSystem 9.0 integrates HP Helion OpenStack and the HP Helion Development Platform to provide customers an enterprise grade open source platform for cloud native application development and infrastructure. […]

      MyPOV – So CloudSystem 9.0 will orchestrate loads across IaaS providers, hypervisors, can use OpenStack and finally integrates with the HP PaaS. Hope got it right.

      HP Helion CloudSystem 9.0 features/benefits include:

      · Simultaneous support for multiple cloud environments, including Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, HP Helion Public Cloud, OpenStack technology and VMware, with the ability to fully control where workloads reside

      MyPOV – When HP will deliver this, it will be very attractive to enterprises.

      · The latest release of HP Helion OpenStack, exposing OpenStack software APIs to simplify and speed development and integration with other clouds and offering developer-friendly add-ons with the HP Helion Development Platform based on Cloud Foundry

      MyPOV – So we have support for OpenStack environment and for the HP PaaS, which uses Cloud Foundry (note that CloudFoundry itself is also bringing cross cloud capabilities, just last week it announced support for Microsoft Azure).

      · Support for multiple hypervisors, now including Microsoft Hyper-V, Red Hat KVM, VMware vSphere, as well as bare metal deployments, offering customers additional choice and avoiding vendor lock-in

      MyPOV – Equally a good move – allowing support for a number of leading hypervisors. For now we notice the absence of AWS XEN hypervisor.

      · Support for AWS-compatible private clouds through integration with HP Helion Eucalyptus, giving customers the flexibility to deploy existing AWS workloads onto clouds they control

      MyPOV – That should take care of AWS XEN support.

      · Support for unstructured data through the Swift OpenStack Object Storage project

      MyPOV – Good to integrate another OpenStack initiative. Underlines HP’s commitment to OpenStack.

      · The latest version of HP Cloud Service Automation, providing the management capabilities to control hybrid cloud environments and a built-in path to support distributed compute, efficient object storage and rapid cloud native application development

      MyPOV – Good to see an automation offering to tie this all together, this is an offering with substantial complexity and enterprises will need at least a good automation tool to pull this hybrid cloud offering off.

      · An intuitive setup model delivered as a virtual appliance, allowing for installation in hours

      MyPOV – Good move, let’s not forget HP sells hardware, customer buy hardware from HP – so appliances make adoption and setup significantly easier.

      HP Helion CloudSystem 9.0 is available as standalone software supporting a multiple vendor hardware environment or as a fully-integrated blade-based or hyper-converged infrastructure with HP ConvergedSystem. Availability is planned for later this year. […]

      MyPOV – Interesting – would be good for HP to name the ‘other’ hardware environments and what kind of support customers can expect, compared with running CloudSystem with HP hardware. This is the ‘seam’ for hardware vendor based OpenStack offerings, and it will be key to see how far HP goes here.

      HP Financial Services’ IT investment and consumption offerings are available to help enterprises acquire HP Helion CloudSystem 9.0, in line with their hybrid IT transformation strategy.

      MyPOV – Always a good move and a substantial part of HP hardware sales.

      “The digital age is disrupting the entertainment industry. Consumers want entertainment on demand, where they want it, on any device. To address this challenge, IT must take the lead on the digital journey,” said John Herbert, executive vice president and CIO, 20th Century Fox. “The Fox Media Cloud is built on HP Helion CloudSystem, supporting the distribution of broadcast quality TV episodes and full length feature films. HP Helion CloudSystem has helped our transition to an internal service provider model, enabling the delivery of hybrid cloud services while maintaining control, to provide new services faster, while ensuring high reliability and performance. This has provided us the ability to support the tremendous growth of our digital businesses while saving millions.”

      MyPOV – A nice and good quote from a blue chip customer, but (sorry 20th Century Fox) not the A+ player in the streaming media space. Interesting how media companies and IaaS / Cloud providers search and find each other. The media companies need to rebuild their IT infrastructure for the new streaming and on demand business model, and the cloud elasticity is a great solution towards this. A great challenge, too – so will be good to get some live stats from 20th century Fox and HP in a few quarters.

      Customers increasingly rely on experienced channel partners to help guide them on their cloud implementations. With 56 percent of enterprise and mid-market customers working through a partner to build their private clouds, HP CloudSystem 9.0 presents a significant opportunity for HP partners.

      “Comport is automating many operations required to support hospital IT infrastructure,” said Jack Margossian, president and CEO, Comport Healthcare Solutions. “It’s the beginning of an important transition in the data center, from a cost center to an efficient service center. IT can spin up and manage applications and data that support patient care in minutes instead of months, using toolsets they know. Using HP Helion CloudSystem, we are able to free up IT resources and reduce costs, enabling us to build new services while still providing for public cloud or SaaS resources. We look forward to introducing HP Helion CloudSystem 9.0 to our customers, with its additional flexibility and manageability.”

      MyPOV – It is clear that HP needs (and wants) partners to support Helion. The business of many of the traditional hardware partners is in turmoil and most of them are getting into some kind of cloud business. As such they are looking for cloud operating systems that are widely connected and enable to run on many different IaaS platforms. That’s where Helion certainly is an attractive value proposition. But it does not allow HP by itself to compete e.g. with AWSCloud, Azure, Google Cloud Platform as it will be a partner offering and levels of service and economies of scale on the purchasing side are challenging in this go to market approach.

      An enhanced enterprise-grade virtual cloud environment
      HP Helion Managed Cloud Services provides enterprise security and high availability capabilities needed to run mission critical business applications, while meeting customers’ data sovereignty, regulatory and compliance requirements, and backed by enterprise grade service level agreements.

      MyPOV – Data residency is a key aspect and consideration, HP needs to show which locations and jurisdictions it will support when. IBM has thrown down the challenge to all IaaS providers here with the goal to be present in 48 locations by end of 2015.

      To broaden this offering and deliver greater value and flexibility to customers, HP Helion Managed Cloud Services will launch into beta HP Helion OpenStack Managed Private Cloud and HP Helion Eucalyptus Managed Private Cloud, both of which will be consumable as a service via an easy access portal.

      In addition to these new beta offerings, HP Helion Managed Cloud Services will support the development of cloud native applications within a managed cloud service via the HP Helion Development Platform and automation of select virtual private cloud services.

      MyPOV – Seems repetitive on the press release – and HP will have to explain when to use which Managed Private Cloud offering. Especially when Eucalyptus capabilities are also desired, and how to combine the two offerings. I am not sure why HP has not combined them already.

      HP Helion Managed Cloud Services features/benefits include:

      · New automated provisioning capabilities through a self-service portal based on HP Cloud Service Automation, enabling clouds to be deployed more quickly

      · Support for multiple platforms to enable hybrid cloud proof-of-concepts using HP Helion OpenStack and HP Helion Eucalyptus

      · Cloud native application development capabilities through integration with the HP Helion Development Platform, allowing enterprises to rapidly develop, deploy and deliver cloud native apps

      HP Helion Managed Cloud enhancements are planned for availability later this year.

      MyPOV – Another good recap what can be down across HP Helion OpenStack and / Eucalyptus and what you can build on HP’s PaaS.

      Global enterprise support when it counts
      HP offers Global Datacenter Care and Support in over 130 countries. Customers can call 24x7x365 and receive support in more than 30 languages, for any hardware platform, OS or hypervisor.

      MyPOV – This is an important service that enterprises clearly value. It is not clear if this extend to partner data centers and which countries are covered by this service by HP owned data centers. That is what HP competes on and it will be key to clarify sooner than later.

      Overall MyPOV

      A very functional reach and ambitious plan by HP to make Helion a ‘Switzerland’ for cloud services – from a support of competitor IaaS, different data center deployment options all the way down to the hypervisor. But it is an announcement and we look forward to HP deliver all of this, which certainly can’t be easy, but will make HP an attractive player for cloud. Enterprises that have been slow to adopt cloud will certainly take notice as the offering seems low risk as it keeps many deployment doors open.

      On the concern side – HP will need to deliver and reach similar economies of scale like its competitors. By being open to 3rd party IaaS HP creates value for customers, but loses load, which is critical to reach economies of scale in the cloud market. The partner bases approach is key for HP, too – but has its challenges when it comes to consistent level of service and delivery.

      On the bright side it looks like HP has found its running shoes and is racing towards an attractive goal / location. But it needs to get there, get partners on board, get customers to adopt and build next generation application on its cloud. It’s a long way, but good for HP getting there.

      More about HP
      • Market Move - HP acquires Aruba - It's about Wifi - not the Caribbean - read here
      • 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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      A number of press releases by Couchbase crossed the wires and the may have a deep impact on the No SQL / BigData market – so let’s look at them quickly.

      The press releases can be found here

      A new programming language – N1QL – I have been critical on attempts to create new programming languages in the past (see e.g. on SAP River here). In general the world does not need more programming languages, unless they can clearly produce benefits to programmers and application architecture. In the case of N1QL (pronounced Nickel), Couchbase tries to bring SQL to document /JSON formats. That is new and addresses a pain point / tradeoff that had to be made in the past when choosing a database for a next generation application. As N1QL is SQL compatible, Couchbase wants to tap into the large SQL developer ecosystem. The question will be how much understanding of document formats will the SQL developer need to acquire to build performing applications, and how much of that can be automated by the Couchbase framework for the programming language. From the endorsements that Couchbase has garnered in the press release it is clear that there is certainly value being created by N1QL. 

      I should learn later in San Jose today how Couchbase can show efficiency gains with N1QL and will keep you posted.

      Performance Wars – Round 2 – Earlier this week MongoDB published a performance report done by a 3rd party that showed superior performance of MongoDB over Cassandra and Couchbase (see Event Report here). No surprise Couchbase has shot back claiming that performance report is not fully transparent on all aspects of the test and more importantly, that tests show superior performance and TCO for Couchbase. We will be at Couchbase’s user conference later today and certainly learn more on the topic.

      From these spats we can learn that performance really matters for NoSQL databases, which again shows that enterprises are moving their next generation applications into more mission and performance critical use cases than before. And that’s a good sign for enterprises and the industry.

      And finally: As useful and important performance tests are – they always struggle on the comparison side. And every customer situation is different, so we recommend to take them as one measurement point, but strongly recommend customers to run their own benchmarks for critical performance pieces.


      A good start for Couchbase Connect, Couchbase also unveiled the preview of its 4.0 server – so there will be lots of things to talk about at the 49ers stadium in Santa Clara for the next days. Stay tuned.

      Find more coverage on the Constellation Research website here and checkout my magazine on Flipboard

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