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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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    Somewhat surprisingly Progress Software this morning announced the acquisition of Cincinnati based Modulus. Not so surprising if you follow Progress more closely and see the significant steps the vendor is taking to create value for its large install base.

    So let’s take a look at the press release:

    Progress (NASDAQ: PRGS), today announced it has acquired Cincinnati, Ohio-based Modulus, a privately held company that provides a platform-as-a-service (PaaS) for easily hosting, deploying, scaling and monitoring data-intensive, real-time applications using powerful, rapidly growing Node.js and MongoDB technologies. Financial terms were not disclosed.

    MyPOV – A key move by Progress that discloses all the value propositions that Modulus brings to Progress and its customers. A fast way to deploy to deploy next generation applications leveraging PaaS techniques, node.js and MongoDB.

    The Modulus Node.js and MongoDB cloud platform is designed to simplify and speed development of the new generation of scalable, always connected business and consumer apps that are constantly monitored and optimized for the best experience. The Modulus platform is ideally suited for real-time mobile, SaaS, social and Big Data apps that run across distributed devices and can seamlessly handle floods of data requests with built-in performance monitoring and analytics.

    MyPOV – A good description on what Modulus does – deliver next generation applications that are highly scalable, distributed across devices and delivered through the cloud. All application attributes that Progress has been traditionally lacking for its applications, and recently (the last 2-3 years) been adding capabilities both through internal development and acquisitions.

    The Modulus platform is offered both as a hosted service and can also be deployed by enterprises in public, private and hybrid clouds as well as in an on-premise infrastructure. Modulus Enterprise is the first and only enterprise Node.js PaaS available as a licensed product, allowing businesses and ISVs to deploy next-generation apps faster and at a lower total cost. With Modulus, more time can be spent on creating and modernizing apps and less time worrying about deployment infrastructure.

    MyPOV – Modulus’ flexible deployment options, all the way to private cloud have certainly made the vendor more attractive to Progress, as Progress customers for a number of reasons still have a significant portion of on premise deployed applications. Progress has realized that for a number or reasons, these customers will not move their applications to the public cloud, so thanks to Modulus’ private cloud deployment, modern platforms like node.js and MongoDB as well as techniques like continuous deployment and application monitoring will be available for Progress customers.

    Founded in 2012, Modulus has more than 450 customers of all sizes and is a leader in the Node.js community. Progress is committed to continuing and expanding Modulus' contributions and role in this community. The core technologies that Modulus supports are among the fastest growing in the industry. Node.js is designed for easily building high performing, scalable network applications using the ubiquitous JavaScript programming language. MongoDB is the leading NoSQL database system and is designed for scalability, performance and high availability.

    MyPOV – Nothing documents providing value to customers better than rapid growth in the customer base – and with Modulus having 450 customers in only a little more than two years of existence is certainly a key proof point. Progress customers can now build their next generation applications with modern, state of the art technologies that last but not least are also popular with the developer community.

    Surely in less than a few hours after the release there will be pundits deploring an end of innovation here, but Progress would be foolish of not continuing to support the Modulus product commitments and roadmap. In contrary – I would expect Progress to double down on the Modulus side as the offering is something Progress has been chasing to create since a number of years – a modern PaaS platform.

    With the addition of the Modulus capabilities into its PaaS portfolio, Progress now offers the industry's most comprehensive set of cloud, mobile, hybrid and on-premise development, data and business rules technologies.

    MyPOV – Let’s leave the marketing beside – the key thing is that Progress has become a lot more attractive to its customer base. Progress also has a whole new set of reasons its existing customers to keep looking at the vendor and keep building applications with Progress tools.

    Overall MyPOV

    A very good move by Progress. Now it needs to create and publish the roadmap of bringing proven and appreciated Progress capabilities to the new Modulus platform. And as well harmonize and communicate how Modulus fits in the overall Progress PaaS strategy, something I am sure the team around CTO Padir is been working on. Lastly I am sure a whole lot of millennial developers will have the answer on the question ‘Progress who?’ figured out on June 9th 2014. Not a bad side effect for the proven and venerable Progress Software.

    Other technology posts
    • Musings - The advent of the No-Design DB - read here
    • News Analysis - Todays Billion in Cloud is HP's and it goes to Helion - read here
    • Event Report - IBM Impact - what a difference a year makes - read here
    • Musings - Future of Work - Is Voice part of it? Post Cortana launch thoughts - read here
    • Event Report - Microsoft Azure blossoms - enough for the enterprise yet? Read here
    • News Analysis - Google gets serious about cloud - and it is different - read here
    • News Analysis - Another week another Billion - Cisco Intercloud - another approach to cloud - better late than never - read here
    Find more coverage on the Constellation website here.

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    We had the opportunity to participate at SAP’s SapphireNow conference in Orlando. The conference was well attended with significantly over 20k participants.

    But first - the showfloor. Even 3 events later analysts and vendors still talk about it. No longer the traditional separation of keynote hall and food hall – but have all together, keynotes, food, show floor, briefing area, theaters etc. lead to a very good conference experience. Design aspects were clearly considered, colors were great and the keynote area was deliberately too small to hold all attendees, but with screens all over the hall everyone who wanted to follow the keynotes was able to follow them. And kudos to SAP also for making events open, e.g. the press conferences were in the public area, where general attendees could watch and listen in first hand.

    SapphireNow showfloor

    Top 3 Positive Takeaways

    It was hard to pick the top 3 – but for the sake of time here they are:

    HANA is the platform, Suite on HANA is the application

    About a year ago we found that HANA was technically there, the 2014 takeaway is that the Suite on HANA has certainly arrived, with abundant proof points of customers actively using the Suite in production. And references and proof points validate the customers move explicitly as their decision and with the SAP’s strategy around building more on HANA as well implicitly. SAP and its customers are now reaching the point where technology is no longer restricting the speed of their business, but thanks to HANA technological advances exceed human processing capabilities and with that current business practices. The validation point to look for – and we found it multiple times at different customers – is enterprises needing to take a pause and figure out how to conduct business going forward. This is a good place for SAP and customers to be – but SAP now needs to listen attentively and find the right practices to productize these new best practices in its next generation product. And as we know finding the right balance here is what the art of enterprise software applications is. Getting this formula right is the base of long term vendor and customer success.

    Equally important is that SAP has delivered most (SAP claims all) of its vertical code in the different industry solutions. This is again an amazing engineering achievement, given the different levels of invasiveness of industry code into the suite. Never shy, SAP declared to have the first Industry Cloud – but in our view let’s get more customer proof points and some technical details, first - before we pop the champagne bottles open. 

    Leukert's "Diamond" with HANA at the core

    Simplified Financials

    SAP presented its first larger next generation product with Simplified Financials. It was demoed by SAP CIO Helen Arnold, along with demos of Suite on HANA customers Conagra and John Deere. Later designated CFO Mucic was on stage talking about the benefits (SAP is live since late April) – and they are tangible. As aggregation can be run on the fly, drill downs from on-the-fly- aggregates can go down to the single records, business practices in Finance will change. It may have been too early even for SAP to talk about these – 5 weeks is a short time frame. Let’s hope we see and hear more on how best practices in Finance running on HANA (or other in memory databases) should look like. And the impacts and opportunities to rethink Finance are massive. But it's good to see SAP renovating (and innovating) at the core of ERP, in Finance. 

    Screenshot of Simplified Financials

    HANA Energy for SAP

    It’s good to see how HANA is the power that energizes and galvanizes SAP. Not even four years ago Sapphire had a hint of inertia and statics on all sides – customers, partners and SAP employees. That is mostly gone now and it is good for the whole ecosystem – as well as the market. SAP now needs to keep the momentum going, and from our meetings with the go to market side with McDermott and Enslin there is little doubt that will happen.

    It is also key to notice that SAP is doing the necessary steps to make the cloud DNA obsolete – in the direction that everything is cloud. Organization decisions like to have the Head of Product of SuccessFactors, Krakovsky run all of HCM development (including the ECC aka R/3 parts), have an executive from SuccessFactors run the HANA Enterprise Cloud (HEC) are good moves to propagate cloud DNA across SAP.

    Top 3 Concerns

    Cloud View

    Not surprisingly, but now with validation and probing with Plattner and Leukert, SAP has a very database centric view of cloud computing. If you take a look at the key 3 computing resources, storage, networking and compute, storage is the least dynamic. While you need to scale network and compute load as needed, storage is not really scalable. Information just has to be there, and SAP decided with HANA to keep that information in memory. Consequently the view on code and compute is of a more static nature than other enterprise vendor’s view of cloud. If you have all your data in memory, a few double digit Gigabit of code are only a rounding error when sizing a (dedicated) HANA system for a customer. There are benefits with the dedication like security concerns, tangibility etc. but it is not the elastic cloud interpretation we see from SAP’s competitors. For them you do not ‘size’ a system – it’s all about not even being able to size the load. Take the showcase of Google Cloud with the British Royal Wedding last year, or the Azure showcase around the Sochi Olympics. Granted, these are not enterprise applications, but shouldn’t the load of enterprise applications be equally elastic? Especially when considering that no one knows the best practices for the digital economy and running an enterprise on in memory technology.

    All this leads to SAP’s view that customers run dedicated systems in SAP’s HANA Enterprise Cloud. And SAP certainly has the deep pockets to keep costs attractive and competitive – but savvy customers and observers will remain concerned here.

    But then – let’s not forget that a unique interpretation of technology gave SAP a leg up on its foes back in the 90ies. The SAPGUi client never knew the primary keys of records displayed, but was a display terminal server, very much a browser, contrary to the common client server definition of the client knowing the primary keys of data records displayed. The irony is, that this design uniqueness made R/3 2-3 times more scalable than mainstream client server architectures of the competition. The tragedy is that SAP never realized that it had a thin client solution with R/3 already – the ‘browser’ fit on a floppy disc. So SAP may take a unique path to cloud and may get rewarded for standing out – once more. Speaking with Yoda – Risky it remains.

    The McDermott management team

    Renovating in flight

    There are two fundamental ways to write new software - isolate the team and build the next generation (SAP tried with byDesign, sending teams even off to another location in St. Leon-Roth) or you trickle innovation in with the same product teams while they maintain previous versions. And you innovate step by step. Given the byDesign outcome – SAP is going down the latter path. 

    The good news is – this is pretty much the SaaS path. But SAP has its ECC releases to maintain – so it will be interesting how development under Leukert will be organized and be able to ship quality releases.
    McDermott with HCM applications

    Financial Prospects

    With the popular move to make Fiori, Personas and even Simplified Finance free of charge to maintenance paying customers, SAP has certainly done the right thing to keep customers happy and additionally has delivered a proof point for the value of being a maintenance paying customer. The vendors competing on the 3rd party support market will not be able to deliver similar innovation – to be fair their customers may also not expect them to deliver anything similar.

    The concern is that the move reduces the bulk of the future SAP revenue stream to the HANA database licenses and other technology licenses, like e.g. Lumira. That is certainly a viable path, but usually does not yield similar revenue growth potential than selling business applications. SAP certainly has not given up building business applications, .but given the breadth of its offering in regards of automating the enterprise, and it will have to work hard to explain to its customers why a new license for a new product is warranted. This and other explanations will be key for making the overall simplification message credible. 

    Leukert, Plattner and Becher in a Q&A Session

    With the team around Leukert being busy with simplification, aggregate busting and re-factoring, we should expect SAP not to be shy on the acquisition front, as major chunks of license revenue from applications will likely only come from acquired revenue in the next years.


    Overall a good Sapphire for SAP. HANA is working, the Suite is on HANA, the Verticals are coming and making things simpler is a welcome message for CEOs trying to tame complexity… But doing things simple is complex in itself – as McDermott pointed out in his keynote. On the flipside SAP needs to explain to investors where the license revenue of the future will come from and tame the challenges of renovating its software in flight. If SAP’s dedicated system, database centric view of cloud, which is unique in the marketplace will be a pro or a con remains to be seen. SAP and its customers got away with a unique architecture last century once before and nobody really cared back then. If 201x is different than 199x – only the future can tell.

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    We had the chance to attend the NGA Human Resources (NGA) analyst summit last week in New York. About two dozen analysts got briefed by NGA CEO Al-Saleh and his management team.

    Here are my top 3 takeaways from the event:

    • Positioning challenges remain – NGA keeps operating under the ‘IP lead Services’ positioning, meaning that it invests into IP (Intellectual Property) offerings for its services offerings (e.g. the BPaaS products) but at the same time has veritable IP in its own products (e.g. ResourceLink and Preceda). The unique positioning here is that on the one side NGA operates a very successful BPO business for large, international enterprises, offering its services on top of the euHReka platform (that again leverages SAP as its backbone) – on the other side operates like a software vendor on the SMB side with products like ResourceLink and Preceda. And it means good news and challenges at the same time that NGA wants to grow both businesses. The good news is the significant growth potential NGA can tap into, the challenges are short term that it needs to fund R&D investment across multiple products and longer term it may get on a collision course with its partners (Workday, SuccessFactors to name two) – as they will target more the SMB space. But it may not have to be competitive as NGA’s successful partnership with Workday around SMB services in the US shows, but that is an easier positioning as both are complimentary. NGA does not have a SMB product offering for the US market (yet) and Workday is looking for services to make its push to SMB happen. The scenario would be outright competitive if Workday would target the SMB market in the UK. But then who says that partners cannot have complex co-opetitive (cooperative & competitive) relationships depending on the markets they operate and compete in.
    Slide from Presentation

    • Payroll Exchange is the crown jewels – It looks like NGA has concluded its long R&D investment in making its different payrolls work together. The product tasked with this is the Payroll Exchange product that for now allows flexible pay across the euHReka, ResourceLink, and Preceda products, with HR Core data coming from the same three and additionally Workday and SuccessFactors. True to the positioning challenge mentioned before, NGA stresses that the Payroll Exchange (PEX) is not a product (or standalone offering), but IP that complements the NGA Gobal Payroll offering (not a product, either). Assuming PEX works, then NGA is missing out on a potential market opportunity to offer its PEX capabilities as a Software as a Service (SaaS). But then it is quite a leading offering by itself, being able to pay (with the help of partners) in 145 countries, the large majority of them being powered by NGA IP.
    Slide from Presentation

    • More to come – investment happening– The good news is that it looks like NGA will be able to come up with even more product and IP investment going forward. The vendor has ambitious plans to free up resources and to invest in net new opportunities both on the product and the services side of is offerings. It is also good to see that NGA has addressed longer term challenges in its services infrastructure around its networking and phone infrastructure, an important investment from which customers should see immediate benefits.

    Slide from Presentation


      NGA is unique in the vendor landscape with having a sole focus on HR, but then NGA pretty much offers every possible service (except RPO) for their customers. From general strategy, over implementation, hosting, payroll services, BPO and Product IP, NGA plays and wants to keep playing in all these markets. It will be key to watch how NGA will be able to grow the base of such a vast and diverse portfolio. All these different areas need management attention and financial investment to get off the ground and keep flying – not an easy task for a mainly services oriented vendor. The next 12 months will show if NGA can grow the base and invest in this portfolio or if it will have to streamline the offering. Sometimes doing less is more for your customers, but you cannot fault NGA for trying.

      In the meantime there is only very few to no alternative to NGA ,when a multinational company is looking at outsourcing its global payroll work to someone, a position the company should capitalize on in the near future.

      My takeaways from the analyst briefing from a year ago can be found here.

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      We had the opportunity to attend IBM’s BigData & Analytics Summit 2014 held in June 11th and 12th in New York. Needless to say, that IBM has a staggering portfolio of Analytics and BigData products and services, just consider 15000 employees in the Strategy and Analytics practice. And the good news is that when IBM talks about analytics, it’s the ‘true’ analytics – the one that take an action, or at least suggest one (more on ‘true’ analytics here).

      From many insights and learning points, here is the distillation of my top 3 takeaways:

      • Transformative Power of Analytics – While there is almost no vendor not talking about analytics today, there are fewer that understand ‘true’ analytics like IBM. What sets IBM apart is the understanding that analytics are truly transformational, and not just in one business dimension, but spanning all professions and business processes. Smith had a great slide representing the transformation for the C-Suite which illustrates well what impact BigData and Analytics have on enterprises and their care takers. And she delivered the punchline that executives that do not understand these key trends we be challenged in their careers and are likely going to trouble the success of their enterprise.

      Slide from Smith's Presentation

      • Speed matters– It was also good to see that IBM realizes there is a limited time window for the opportunity to be one of the key players to leverage the transformation enabled by BigData and Analytics, so speed is of the essence. And IBM has certainly gained even more speed in 2013 as the below chart illustrates both trough internal R&D and acquisitions. 

      Slide from Smith's Presentation
      • Watson is the differentiator– As previously stated, the cognitive capabilities of Watson are a key differentiator for IBM’s products and services. With the Watson Foundations IBM is betting on an ecosystem of consultants, developers, startups and mature ISVs to build cognitive applications on top of Watson Foundations. With BlueMix there is now a modern PaaS platform available that should help the adoption of next generation applications (in general, but also in the BigData and Analytics) space. 


      IBM has a very attractive portfolio of capabilities across its analytical and BigData capabilities. Complemented with Watson, SoftLayer and BlueMix this becomes an even higher potential combination, as next generation applications can be built in a modern PaaS (BlueMix), leverage cutting edge cognitive insights (Watson) and can be deployed efficiently and flexibly through SoftLayer datacenters.

      IBM now needs to make all these products work together, create value for IBM customers and partners and deliver more next generation application showcases. We know that IBM can build and deliver these with the help of GBS – but the real yardstick is to see them delivered as true cloud products, that create insights and spontaneous benefits to business users with no (or very little) involvement of consultants and IT professionals.

      IBM’s massive GBS business in these regards is both a blessing and a curse. It’s is a blessing, that allows IBM to go further than any of its competitors and allows IBM to gain valuable insights from customer engagement. E.g. the transformative nature for the C-Suite is not as well understood in the market by competitors – and most likely the result of deep, cross project harvested, consulting insights delivered courtesy of GBS. The curse for IBM is, that it may fall short in regards of aggressive standardization, mass adoption based on viral distribution of its products, as well as the “holy grail” of analytics, the self-service setup and enablement of analytical applications by business (end) users. But that is still a few years out, realistically – so plenty of time for IBM to address and handle this challenge.

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

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      We had the chance to attend the opening day of MongoDBWorld in New York, the first user conference the vendor has had. It was very well attended, with about 2000 attendees and made the Sheraton Time Square in New York look to small a venue for the event.

      Here are my top 3 takeaways from Day 1:

      • The data deluge is here – If anyone was doubting that there is a boom of unstructured data that enterprises need to deal with, then MongoDBWorld would have stopped them doubting the trend. The market is no longer in the R&D / trial phase where we have seen BigData and NoSQL interest even 2 years ago – but enterprises are building real, hands-on, value generating applications in this space now. The vendor and tool market has matured and there are more choices than ever to build your BigData applications. When MongoDB CEO Max Schireson mentioned in passing that 90% of the relevant data for enterprises was created in the last two years only – there was no surprise or shock in the audience, but nothing than validation. After Schireson it was the turn of Cloudera CTO Mike Olson to share his view on the next 10 years of BigData, and no surprise – more data, mostly machine generated, is on his horizon. And it was intuitively clear that only machines will be able to help humans understand the deluge of BigData that is coming – no surprise if you are seeing the future from Olsen’s / Cloudera’s vantage point.

      How data is changing - Screenshot from Keynote 

      • Next generation apps are NoSQL apps– With the background of the explosion of relevant unstructured data that business need to deal with, we had most of the relevant players to build next generation applications attending and exhibiting MongoDBWorld.. Not only were there quick an agile tool vendors like e.g. PentaHo and Logi Analytics, but also key PaaS vendors like IBM with BlueMix and RedHat with OpenShift. And even venerable Progress Software and an unlikely participant - if you take a 2 year perspective - like Terradata were there. Pretty much proof that vendors have realized that enterprises want and need to build BigData centric, next generation applications and MongoDB is one of the key database enabling this trend.

      MongoDB Momentum - Screenshot from Keynote 

      • Opensource and IP / Services combo is very powerful– Lastly MongoDB is a great showcase for the successful trend of bringing together open source coupled with enterprise desired services and products. With many of the largest open source projects on the way – consider e.g. OpenStack – there can be no question anymore that the power of community development has over taken what single vendors can create on the product side with their very own R&D efforts. Instead of that, they focus on creating products that enrich the value of the open source products. MongoDB adding back up services for its database itself is a great example for adding key services / product that enterprises need and are ready to pay for. And a look at MongoDB adoption with 7M+ downloads, 150k+ Online Education Registrants, 500+ Technology and Services Partners, certainly proves the point empirically. 

      Impressive Sponsor / Partner List


      A conference that was planned (conservatively) for 800 attendees and then is bursting at the seams with almost 2000 is a proof point of a strong trend. Here it is the rise of the BigData use case for enterprises that are building applications or at least looking for tools in the space. We see this as a part of the bigger trend to the No Design Database era– where during the creation of these applications, no to little design dependencies in regards of potential insights need to be taken.

      Moreover it is another proof point of the emergence of New York as a technology place that we have seen previously with e.g. Infor and ADP.

      For MongoDB it matters now to grow as fast as it can, with all the related challenges in finding scale and keeping quality. The big guys that stored transactional information (Oracle, IBM, Microsoft etc.) will find their way to attractive BigData offerings. Their strength will likely be to blend structured and unstructured data seamlessly, in a way that their existing ecosystem is able to leverage BigData with very little additional investment on the skill side. Until then it’s the time for vendors like MongoDB – and when the Big Guys enter the market – we will see how it goes…

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      Google kicked off its yearly developer conference I/O today, with record attendance in person (over 6000 attendees) and online (millions). 

      So let’s look at the news from an enterprise perspective – starting with the blog posted here:

      Google I/O, our annual developer conference, kicked off this morning in San Francisco with more than 6,000 developers in person and millions more on the livestream. This year, 41 percent of live attendees represent companies that develop business-to-business (B2B) applications, which validates what we’ve known for a while: there’s great demand for better apps in the workplace. People want to work the way they live and use the apps and tools they love, whether they’re at home or in the office.

      MyPOV – We give kudos to Google for the focus on looking at how people work, one of our main research areas in ‘’Future of Work’. If Google can successfully position its products and cloud services as part of the transformation happening in the workplace, this will be hugely beneficial and differentiate the Google cloud offerings from the rest of the competitive field.

      […] Introducing Google Drive for Work and updates to Google Docs

      · Already, 190 million people actively use Drive at home, school or work, while companies like Crate & Barrel, HP, Jaguar Land Rover, Seagate and Tory Burch and rely on it to work faster and to connect employees and customers. Now, we’re making Drive even better for business with Google Drive for Work— a new premium offering for businesses that includes unlimited storage, advanced audit reporting and new security controls for $10/user/month.

      · As of today, all files uploaded to Google Drive will be encrypted, not only from your device to Google and in transit between Google data centers, but also at rest on Google servers.

      MyPOV – This is a key step for Google to move the so far more consumer centric Google Drive product over to the enterprise space. It looks like Google has listened to its customers (some even mentioned above) to increase enterprise capabilities of Google Drive. Encryption and audit trails where high on the wish list. From an overall market perspective Google is entrenching into a space of Box and Dropbox – the result of which should be more competition and definitively better TCO for enterprises.

      · Quickoffice is now full integrated into Docs, Sheets and Slides, so you can open and edit those documents inOffice Compatibility Mode directly on Android, your Chrome browser and coming soon to iOS. This means you can open, edit, save and send Microsoft Word, Excel® and PowerPoint® files from your favorite device. You no longer have to buy additional software — it just works.

      MyPOV – An overview move by Google – the subset of functionality directly available in the browsers was a nuisance for users. More importantly it is not competitive with Microsoft Office that runs across platforms. Google is playing catchup now, with functionality coming to iOS later. Of course Google will stress the free license here, which is overall again good news for enterprises on the TCO front.

      Reimagining developer productivity and data analytics in the cloud with Google Cloud Platform
      · Google Cloud Dataflow, a managed service designed to help developers and companies process large datasets quickly and efficiently, was introduced today at Google I/O. Based on ten years of internal research and development, Cloud Dataflow is designed to let you focus on getting actionable insights from your data, while leaving the management, tuning, sweat and tears to Google.

      MyPOV – Google has had a number of interesting and valuable analytics capabilities for a long time, the announcement of Google Cloud Dataflow looks like a response to Amazon’s Kinesis product. It will be interesting to see how they two differ in developer / analytic scientist report as well as TCO and ease of use.

      · To enhance application management and operations in production, we’re launching Google Cloud Monitoring, built on the technology of Stackdriver, a company that recently joined Google, and introducing new tracing and debugging tools to increase developer productivity.

      MyPOV – An overdue move to give enterprises more and better visibility into what they are running and how to operate it in Google Cloud. It will be key to watch how the Stackdriver capabilities will be merged and enhanced with the existing Google Monitoring and Ops capabilities.

      · We’re making it easier for mobile developers to build on our platform with a new version of Google Cloud Save and improved integrations in Android studio.

      MyPOV – No surprise – Google sees mobile as a key platform and enabling Android studio more makes it easier to build and run Android applications.

      Today we also announced new features that are slated to launch in the next Android release — “L” — that are intended for enterprises. These features will make the transition for users from work to play more seamless, and provide IT administrators with more options to keep their employees' data secure and easy to access. Businesses will also be able buy apps in bulk on Google Play and make them available to employees — great for admins, great for developers. […]

      MyPOV – Across all announcements the enterprise friendly extension of Android “L” should create the biggest value for enterprises. Security, MDM etc. are all key considerations for enterprises when enabling enterprise processes on mobile devices and it’s good to see Google doing even more in that direction.

      Overall MyPOV

      Google has so many things going for them – from traditional advertising business over Glass and self-driving cars, it’s hard to filter out the enterprise relevant news. But it is good to see the continued investment into enterprise capabilities that creates value for enterprise customers. We will look at how the experiences of enterprises up taking these capabilities will look like in the coming quarters. In the meantime Google needs to keep working on its enterprise friendliness to succeed against the entrenched enterprise players.

      More on Google:
      • 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

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      The Social Business Forum took place in Milan on July 1st and 2nd and we had the chance attend the event and the opportunity to present our thoughts on how the cloud will change social business systems.

      Here are my Top 3 takeaways from the event:

      • The OpenKnowledge teams keeps pushing forward the social business agenda, with Rosario Sica and Emanuele Scotti at the help as invigorated as ever, having the Social Business Forum for the 7th time this year. What started as a humble university annex is now an event in its own right, with international speakers, an expo hall, different tracks and the largest audience ever. It is interesting to see an event experimenting successfully with a public freemium track and paid premium track. The good news for the freemium attendees was that all keynotes and many presentations were – free.

        And OpenKnowledge is following a similar path with its research. For instance the 49 questions that form the Social Business Toolkit are free to use and were widely presented on banners at the conference. And the company will also provide an app for that – which will likely change the dynamics of filling out the questionnaires. We are very curious to hear about the first results in late fall.

      Scotti opens Social Business Forum 2014

      • Esteban Kolsky and Ray Wang came back for a continuation of the CMO versus CIO debate that was very popular in 2013. But who was lucking for new arguments in this ongoing debate was disappointed. Both (in their fictitious roles) got headhunted away from their jobs and are filling roles as CDO (you guessed it Chief Digital Officer). As such they did not have to debate each other, but could share the challenges CDOs face – with a perspective of the ex CMO and ex CIO. The real value was a set of 7 recommendations for practitioners in regards of putting in place digital processes.

      Esteban and Ray think smartwatches were a bad idea -
      their (fake) careers have moved on, they are CDOs now.

      • The state of social business is good. With attendees mostly from Italy, but also from North of the Alps and as far as Israel – it is clear that social business has arrived and is here to stay. Even though an ironic Scotti could not miss to state how it all got relabelled from Web 2.0 all the way to digital transformation.


      A good event, which showed the ‘labor of love’ that is needed to put up such conference. With a rich set of topics and diverse speakers it is certainly an event I would recommend for any practitioner involved in the digital transformation maelstrom. 

      As with many enterprise software projects, the ROI case remains a challenge. Simple putting social business as a necessity and not questioning the ROI will not stop the (valid) questions. It comes back to the industry’s thought leaders and vendors to come up with better tools to justify the not insignificant investments required to gear up and maintain social business systems.

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      This is a re-post from Constellation's website to raise awareness for the SuperNova awards 

      Call for Applications for 2014 SuperNova Awards for Leaders in Disruptive Technology

      Deadline August 1, 2014
      In its fourth year, the Constellation SuperNova Awards will recognize seven individuals who demonstrate true innovation through their application and adoption of new and emerging technologies. As always, we’re searching for leaders and teams who have overcome the odds to successfully apply emerging and disruptive technologies for their organizations. Special emphasis will be given to projects that seek to redefine how the enterprise uses technology on a large scale.
      We’re searching for the boldest, most transformative technology projects out there. Applications will be judged by Constellation analysts and some of the most influential thought leaders in enterprise technology.   If you or someone you know has what it takes to compete in the SuperNova Awards, fill out the application here

      Learn more about last year's winners:

      Consumerization of IT & The New C-Suite - Chris Plescia, IT Leader, Collaboration, Nationwide

      The Constellation SuperNova Awards are the first and only awards to celebrate the leaders and teams who have overcome the odds to successfully apply emerging and disruptive technologies for their organizations.  We at Constellation know advancing the adoption of disruptive technology is not easy. Disruptive technology adoption often faces resistance from supporters of the status quo, myopia, and financial constraint. We believe actors fighting these forces to champion disruptive technology within their organizations help, not only their organizations, but society as a whole to realize the potential of new and emerging technologies.
      This annual search for innovators includes an all star judging panel, substantial prizes, invite-only admission and speaking opportunities at Constellation's premier innovation summit - Connected Enterprise.

      Who can enter?
      The awards are open to end users only. End users at vendor companies may enter the awards.  Vendors and agencies may submit on their customer's behalf but must enter their customer's details and have their approval. We will disqualify any vendor applications without end user contact information.

      Who should enter?
      If you have overcome the odds to successfully implement a disruptive technology solution in your organization, we want to hear your story! Special attention is paid to implementation stories involving overcoming adversity and resulting in business model transformation.

      Judging Process
      The judging process is comprised of two phases.
      Phase I: Judging panel reviews applications to determine SuperNova Award finalists
      Phase II: Voting opens to the public. A combination of the public and judges votes will determine the winners of the SuperNova Awards. Judges votes are weighted at 75% of the total. 
      Winners are announced at the SuperNova Awards Gala Dinner during Connected Enterprise.

      A notable list of technology thought leaders, analysts, and journalists will judge the SuperNova Awards. See the full list of judges here:

      Award categories center around Constellation's business research themes. Award categories:

      Awards Ceremony
      The SuperNova Award Winners will be announced live, on stage, at the SuperNova Awards Gala Dinner on October 29, 2014 on the first night of Constellation's Connected Enterprise.

      Finalists in each category will be awarded one complimentary ticket to Constellation's Connected Enterprise.
      Winners in each category will win a one-year subscription to Constellation’s Research Library.

      • May 22, 2014 application process begins. 
      • August 1, 2014 last day for submissions.
      • August 22, 2014 finalists announced and invited to Connected Enterprise.
      • September 8, 2014 voting opens to the public
      • October 1, 2014 polls close
      • October 29, 2014 Winners announced, SuperNova Awards Gala Dinner at Connected Enterprise 

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      With one of the leading recruiting conferences starting this week, it was time to spend some thought cycles on the future of recruiting. And the purpose of this blog post is purposefully slanted in the direction of provoking some new thoughts on the subject – more than nailing what will happen in 2015 or even easier what is today’s state of the industry.

      If you step away for a moment from the rush of multiple releases per year and look over the last decades on what has happened in enterprise applications overall, a major trend becomes pretty clear: 

      Enterprise automation is all about giving control in the hands of the business (end) users. 
      Starting from the reporting punch cards ceremoniously handed by (then) IT gods half a century ago (remember they wore white lab coats then) to obtain their weekly report – it’s been all about getting the business user into a position where they can get the information needed and execute the processes required to do their jobs. The area where this is most evident in the HCM arena is the functionality around HR Core processes – almost all driven by the end user. Rarely a member of the HR department will anymore do data entry around a single employee – something that was a staple of HR department activity maybe even 20 years ago.

      And while many end users complain about the additional work loaded on them by self-service functions, at the end of the day they empower end users to enter and process information when they want and please to. Instead of walking over to the HR department, getting and filling out a form and then hoping for the real world to accurately reflect the status change – users can now fire up their devices and - apart from the occasional system downtime - execute their core HR transaction when it works for them. And it’s not a one way street – users can go back and see that this address change has really gone through in the system.

      Equally managers have seen self-service trends, too. First of all they are employees, too – and do all related activities under employee self-service. And then they have managerial duties, mostly approvals, but also budgeting and planning functions.

      When it comes to recruiting – for now – it pretty stays in this realm, too. Only that for current common practice - recruiting is probably the area where a manager does the most data entry for an HR related process. Creating and filling out requisition forms – no matter how much they get defaulted – is probably the most tedious data entry job for managers… and with that not popular.

      On the recruiter side there is an arms race raging, with new vendors coming in the market and using new technologies like social media, analytics, BigData and video to give recruiters the leg up over their competition. And let’s not forget that recruiting is the most measured job in HR, many recruiters understand themselves more as sales professionals than HR practitioners. .Recruiting is the one HR job where a practitioner can be fired for nonperformance as a matter of a few months… and as such recruiters always look for the best tool to give them an advantage to recruit talent better than their peers in house and in the competition.

      So what will happen when self-service transforms recruiting practices?

      Here are some of the functional building blocks next generation recruiting need to have – powered by self-service:
      • Continuous talent monitoring - Imagine if a manager could continuously monitor the talent of their teams. No longer the “that’s it moment” looking for outside talent - often delayed by the work to get a requisition into the relevant systems. No longer opening a requisition because the headcount was approved, but because talent should be monitored continuously.
      • One big talent pool - Systems will consider inside and outside talent to the enterprise. Including advanced and accelerated training of employees, considering campus recruiting, skill shifts and cost change in external talent pools, acknowledging succession management considerations etc.
      • Requisitions no longer exist - Managers should always see – for each position in their team – which talent is available inside and outside their enterprise for each team position. Include internal global talent in the search.
      • (Real) analytics tell when to hire (or not) -Have software help with picking the best candidates, start the whole candidate relationship management (the other ‘CRM’) process, checking which candidates said no last time, but may be say yes this time around etc.
      • Continuous talent management - Given the cost of hiring an employee the manager should see what training and learning opportunities are available to bring an employee and the overall team in better shape.
      • Automated onboarding -If the hire is made – trigger all onboarding processes including background checks etc. – and allow the new hire to self-onboard, including benefits enrollment etc.
      • Complete Automation - A resignation will start a talent search. A termination will have had a precursor of a talent search. A transfer-in will trigger a transfer-out or termination. And so on.
      • A talent depth chart - Similar like professional sports teams and some military units have a depth chart, managers will have a talent depth chart, telling them what to do when the number one talent is no longer available or when it is time to re-prioritize the depth chart etc.
      • Full consideration of the P - New hires or transfers into teams need to fit – and for that personality and psychological factors need to become part of the recruiting decision. But not just individual candidate characteristics, but also team dynamics on how a candidate fits into the new team, is compatible to work with peers, customers and superiors.
      • Full cost considerations - Managers will be able to see the full cost aspect of recruiting scenarios – including cost to onboard, train and come up to speed. Knowing these costs should enable managers to make smarter hiring (or internal transfer and training) decisions. 

      Where does it all leave the recruiter?

      When above happens, it will be the end of the recruiters as we know them today. Does it mean the end of recruiting – certainly not – but recruiters will have to move away from the transactional aspect of recruiting – as the software will handle all of that and the managers will trigger these transactions – and become talent coaches, recruitment advisors, system specialists, algorithmic specialists – and maybe even software vendor employees.


      As I mentioned in the onset – this post was more about being thought provoking than stating where the industry is today and / or will be soon in 2015. But self-service is a force to be reckoned with, and humans generally like to be empowers. If a manager can run talent for his team better and faster than dealing with the traditional recruiting setup of recruiters, sourcing, job sites etc. – we will see it – sooner than later. And ‘real’ predictive analytics become more powerful, science can be used to find the best candidates and they can be served to the decision maker, the hiring manager right away. Chime in on the comments.


      More on Recruiting by me:

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

      And  more on Payroll:

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

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      I had the opportunity to attend the Ceridian INSIGHTS conference in Las Vegas, held at the Bellagio hotel. The conference is seeing record attendance with over 1500 participants. 

      Overall the keynote showed that Ceridian delivers on what it says it will deliver, in this case we had the insight into the product plans from the earlier analyst meetings this year – and the team around Ossip delivered what they previewed back then in March. Overall the largest impact for Dayforce customers will be the new Employee Self Service user interfaces, which looks modern and easy to use. 

      Ceridian new ESS User Interface
      Screenshot from keynote.

      Here are my other top takeaways from the Day 1 keynote:

      • Ceridian continues to complete Talent Management - Ceridian keeps completing its Talent Management roadmap with Succession Management being the last member of the Talent Management family coming in 2016. In the meantime I see the offering being pretty competitive with good and solid Recruiting and Performance Management capabilities.
      Ceridian Talent Management Roadmap.
      Screenshot from keynote.
      • Payroll Innovation - Ceridian does not forget about its roots and one of the few innovations in Payroll has been to move away from large schedules Payroll runs, but to ad hoc, single employee centric payroll runs. These are key both for employees and managers to see work’s direct impact on the take home pay of an employees. Ossip showed that with an employee being scheduled for overtime and then previewing the employee’s paycheck.
      Direct Payroll Impact of possible, planned overtime.
      Screenshot from keynote.

      • Document Management– One of the dirty little secrets of day to day HR practice is that there are way too many documents with personal employee information – outside of the systems of record. And with that they are in most cases not stored, handled and accessed with the latest PII regulations. Seeing a HCM vendor like Ceridian taking care of it – with the HCM system being the system of record anyway for who can and should have access to employee information – is a very good innovative step in the industry. 


      A very good start of the Ceridian INSIGHTS 2014 user conference. Customers and prospects are excited about the vision on one integrated HR core, Payroll, Talent Management and Workforce Management system. 

      Now it is time to learn more in depth about the views of customers and prospects and to feel the pulse from the ecosystem. Stay tuned.

      Also on Ceridian
      • Progress Report - Ceridian makes a lot of progress - but the road(map) is long - read here
      • Ceridian transforming itself and with that the game – read here

      And unrelated to Ceridian - but how important payroll can be for HCM innovation:
      • Could the paycheck reinvent HCM - yes it can - read here
      • And suddenly... payroll matters again - read here

      And 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.

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      We are taking a look at previous SuperNova winners, in advance of the 2014 SuperNova competition. The SuperNova awards are unique in the industry as they focus on how leaders and their teams overcame the odds and resistance to implement modern technologies in their respective enterprises. 

      What is remarkable in my view is, that under the leadership of then SVP & CIO Stephen Haindl adopted the SAP HANA database very early - at a point when there were less than 100 customers using HANA. And implementing technology early is one thing, using it to transform the way how business is done is the key. And the team at ARI did that, by providing insights to executives on a faster, scalable way. E.g. reports that would take over 24 hours to run and would even often time out - are now available in minutes. If you want to read more about ARI using HANA - you can find the award post here.

      Know an innovative technology adoption story? 

      If you know an innovative uptake of technology - feel free to nominate it here. We look forward to the 2014 SuperNova nominations.

      And more on overall SAP strategy

      • Event Report - SapphireNow - SAP finds its (unique) path to the cloud - read here
      • First Take - Sapphire 2014 Day 1 Keynote - Top 3 takeaways - read here
      • What I would like SAP to address this Sapphire - read here
      • News Analysis - SAP becomes more about applications - again - read here
      • Market Move - SAP acquires Fieldglass - off to the contingent workforce - early move or reaction? Read here.
      • SAP's startup program keep rolling – read here.
      • Why SAP acquired KXEN? Getting serious about Analytics – read here.
      • SAP steamlines organization further – the Danes are leaving – read here.
      • Reading between the lines… SAP Q2 Earnings – cloudy with potential structural changes – read here.
      • SAP wants to be a technology company, really – read here
      • Why SAP acquired hybris software – read here.
      • SAP gets serious about the cloud – organizationally – read here.
      • Taking stock – what SAP answered and it didn’t answer this Sapphire [2013] – read here.
      • Act III & Final Day – A tale of two conference – Sapphire & SuiteWorld13 – read here.
      • The middle day – 2 keynotes and press releases – Sapphire & SuiteWorld – read here.
      • A tale of 2 keynotes and press releases – Sapphire & SuiteWorld – read here.
      • What I would like SAP to address this Sapphire – read here.
      • Why 3rd party maintenance is key to SAP’s and Oracle’s success – read here.
      • Why SAP acquired Camillion – read here.
      • Why SAP acquired SmartOps – read here.
      • Next in your mall – SAP and Oracle? Read here.

      And more about SAP technology:

      • News Analysis - SAP 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.

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      We had the opportunity to attend Ceridian’s yearly user conference CeridianINSIGHTS in Las Vegas July 13th to 16th. It was a record conference for Ceridian with over 800 customers and 1500 attendees. And as always with all vendors, it was good to see interest, engagement and energy of the Ceridian customer base. With many of these customers still using older Ceridian products, it was remarkable to see how interested attendees were in learning more about DayForce, the new go to product.

      And here are my top 3 takeaways from the event

      • Ceridian delivers – It is always good to see when vendors deliver. When Ceridian laid down its ambitious product roadmap back at their analyst event in Boston in March of this year – many colleagues (and myself, too) were worried if the company could deliver. To give credit to the product team, they indeed did – there was a lot of innovation – a new user interface, performance management and a document solution to name some key ones. 

      The new Ceridian User Interface (UI)
      • The new user interface is certainly the most impactful. As all new user interfaces (UI) it is built in HTML5 – and with that struggles with information density. This becomes especially noticeable given the extreme richness of the previous Dayforce UI, which was built on Microsoft Silverlight. But Ceridian starts with Employee Self Service (ESS) and there information density it less of a concern. To give Ceridian credit, given Dayforce’s Workforce Management (WFM) roots, the new UI has a calendar and is ready for time entry. These are done well, but it remains to be seen how Ceridian can address more functional richer user interface requirements for Manager Self Service (MSS) and for professional users, like HR managers who work with the Dayforce product day in and day out. It is only fair to note that this is not a Ceridian specific challenge, but an overall HTML5 challenge the enterprise software industry struggles with. 

        My biggest concern around the user interface is that it may not be enough forward looking. Ideally vendors don’t want users to go through user interface revisions more often than every 3-4 years. For that the interface needs to ‘work’ but also have enough elements to not make it look ‘stale’ in a year or so. To be fair to Ceridian, the new user interface paradigm keeps known elements (like the top menu bar), which will help user adoption. Difficult tradeoffs but I’d like to see vendors in general err on the side of future. And Ceridian is not fully done with the user interaction – so will be good to see how the user interface evolves. Finally – the user interface was one of Ceridian’s biggest weak spots as mentioned earlier, so credit goes for addressing this right on.

        The Performance Management module is done well and competitive from the start. Multidimensional goals are nicely presented and intuitive to be used. With the existing (and remarkably popular Recruiting) module, Ceridian now has the key Talent Management pieces in play, and a roadmap till 2016 to build out the less important other Talent Management functionalities) (read more here).

        The new Documents functionality addresses one of the challenges that HR departments (and enterprises) have – the appropriate storage and sharing of personal employee documents. I’d say a lot of HR professionals are travelling home from Las Vegas with a good solution to a key problem in their department and enterprise. 
      The new Ceridian BI / Dashboarding Product

      • Ceridian does the hard stuff– What became clear to me at the conference is that Ceridian is one of the few vendors that do all the ‘hard’ stuff. And with that I mean Payroll and Workforce Management. These functional areas by themselves are challenging to build, but they get much harder due to ever changing legal and statutory changes. Add labor laws and union contracts to the picture and things are very complex, or hard. With that Ceridian provides a lot of peace of mind to its users, but needs to articulate more how the mastering of the hard topics helps enterprises to become more effective and competitive. Ceridian could answer questions like how a shift composition affects product or service quality and with that customer satisfaction. Or dynamically change shifts based on better customer fit in customer facing teams. Or many of the scenarios I have described earlier here and here on what could be done with the paycheck. 

      The Global Roadmap

      • Global Focus– It is good to see that Ceridian keeps pushing the global aspect of modern HCM solutions, as our research shows, globalization is a trend that only gets stronger. Making sure the people aspect of a globalization strategy is taken care of is key. And while the people aspect always mattes in any strategy execution – it is vital in terms of speed to action for a globalization strategy. Today Ceridian can pay in over 60 countries – beyond the traditional markets in Canada, USA and UK. It is step wise bringing these localizations in the Dayforce user interface, making visibility and access easier. Currently Ceridian has about half a dozen countries visible in Dayforce – moving to a teenage number in 2015. 


      It is good to see how well Ceridian delivers to the roadmap it has published. It is key in order to overcome traditional Ceridian delivery issues under previous regimes – and to build the trust in the customer base that the rest of the (long) roadmap – till 2016 – will be delivered in time. Enterprise software is the business of trust and vendors earn that by delivering working software at the communicated dates.

      Overall I would like to see Ceridian be more aggressive in both messaging / vision and technology strategy. Innovations like the new Documents module are valuable and powerful – but are again more operational (like Payroll and Workforce Management) than strategic, moving the needle for the enterprise using Ceridian. On the technology side the company makes solid, but conservative decisions. I mentioned the new User Interface earlier, the same approach is also seen in the area of Business Intelligence, which is a valuable, but implemented in a traditional (or conservative) technology approach. To be fair – both examples are first steps, a lot can follow and you can rest assured we will be watching closely.

      In the meantime the Ceridian product offering is attractive for any enterprise looking for an integrated HCM system comprising HR Core, Payroll, Workforce Management and key Talent Management functionalities. With the addition of ACA needed automation and the existing LifeWorks product and the 
      global capabilities – Ceridian is certainly a vendor to consider in buying decisions.

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

      And unrelated to Ceridian - but how important payroll can be for HCM innovation:
      • Could the paycheck reinvent HCM - yes it can - read here
      • And suddenly... payroll matters again - read here

      And 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.

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      We take a look at the SAP press release from July 22nd(it can be found here) in our usual commentary style.

      Here we go:

      PORTLAND, Ore. — July 22, 2014 —SAP SE (NYSE: SAP) is committed to an open platform for customers and partners to run their businesses in real time in the cloud. SAP today announced that it has become a sponsor of two key open source communities: Cloud Foundry®, the industry-leading open platform-as-a-service (PaaS), and the OpenStack foundation, delivering the industry-leading open infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS). In addition, SAP announced new cloud-based developer tools SAP HANA® Answers and SAP® River Rapid Development Environment. The announcements were made at the O'Reilly OSCON Open Source Convention, held July 20-24 in Portland, Oregon.

      “The developer and open source community are key to breakthrough technology innovation,” said Bjoern Goerke, executive vice president, Products and Innovation Technology, SAP SE. “Through the CloudFoundry and OpenStack initiatives, as well as new developer tools, SAP deepens its commitment to the developer community and enables them to innovate and code in the cloud.”

      MyPOV – There have been rumors and half clear news around SAP endorsing OpenStack and Cloud Foundry – this one clarifies, formalizes the direction. Both announcements are not surprises, the real question is – what took SAP so long to formalize these: I had the chance to meet Bjoern Goerke the other week in Walldorf and my impression is that there is more of a push towards an openness in regards of Open Source and related initiatives with large mindshare and probably industry leading position like OpenStack and Cloud Foundry. My main takeaway of meeting Goerke was that it certainly has helped his understanding of customers and deployment methodologies serving a sting in IT as SAP CIO. Good for SAP customers and SAP.

      And while it is pretty clear what SAP could and needs to do with OpenStack – it is more of an open process with Cloud Foundry. SAP has its own ambitions around creating its own programming language (with River – my takes are here) on the other side of the spectrum is the full endorsement similar to what IBM has done with BlueMix (my takeaways on the launch here). In the middle of that spectrum could be being a good technology provider and e.g. allow for Cloud Foundry Applications to use HANA, maybe BI tools etc. 

      Fostering Innovation with Cloud Foundry
      Cloud Foundry is the industry-leading open PaaS fostering innovation in the industry. As an announced Platinum Member of Cloud Foundry™, SAP is actively collaborating with other the founding members to create a foundation that enables the development of next-generation cloud applications. As initial steps of the Cloud Foundry collaboration, in recent months SAP announced the code contribution
      and availability of a Cloud Foundry service broker for SAP HANA. Developed in close association with Pivotal and available as open source on GitHub, the service broker will allow any Cloud Foundry application to connect to and leverage the in-memory capabilities of SAP HANA.

      MyPOV – Well ok here it is. In my view that is too conservative for SAP potentially – as it may well have to endorse Cloud Foundry beyond this point. SAP customers may use Cloud Foundry more than SAP may like – and with that force SAP to open up its future ‘simple’ S Suite to Cloud Foundry PaaS projects. So the relationship of Cloud Foundry will be a marker on the SAP PaaS / tool strategy in regards of how SAP sees its chances to create (and keep for ABAP) and grow a developer community around SAP products and tools. Personally I remain skeptical – as blogged here. On the flipside SAP could well come up soon with the use cases that justify the proprietary nature of River with productivity gains in the problem domain (most likely business applications) that it tries to address. Similar to that justifies its APEX tools / platform and environment with the productivity gains to build enterprise applications.

      SAP Sponsors the OpenStack Foundation
      SAP is committed to an open cloud platform that will meet the needs of its customers and partners. To this end, SAP will act as an active consumer in the OpenStack community and make contributions to the open source code base. In addition, SAP has significant expertise in managing enterprise clouds, and its contributions will focus on enhancing OpenStack for those scenarios.  Since SAP is leveraging OpenStack and Cloud Foundry for its platform, developers, customers and partners will be able to take advantage of the latest cloud technologies.

      MyPOV – An overdue move by SAP. OpenStack is pretty much the only option for data center virtualization for SAP – unless it wants (or needs to) endorse the GAMO (Google / Amazon / Microsoft / Oracle) cloud vendors. But that is not in SAP’s immediate interest. If SAP becomes a full hearted contributor to OpenStack it will only help OpenStack – as SAP will bring a much needed enterprise application perspective to the consortium. Key cloud application problems like data residency, data masking etc. that are not addressed in the overall industry could be tackled. But like every OpenStack member, SAP will need to decide if it wants to contribute to the group – or keep vital, differentiating capabilities to itself…

      Closer to the datacenter this will give SAP more options on the hardware side as all major hardware vendors support OpenStack (even SAP foe Oracle by now). SAP could be (with other large users) a welcome force to keep OpenStack standards from fragmenting as we have seen it with UNIX and Linux before. A more ambitious OpenStack strategy – that may well be in the books for SAP – would be to get its own OpenStack distribution. SAP certainly has the load and market presence for business applications to try to pull this off.

      P.S. The header says ‘SAP sponsors OpenStack Foundation’ – but then never elaborates where this sponsorship is going, mainly what level SAP would select with OpenStack.

      The new open source partnerships are a significant step in SAP’s strategy to provide an open technology platform and deepen its commitment to the developer community. SAP recently announced an agreement with Databricks — the company founded by the creators of Apache Spark — to deliver a Spark distribution for integration with SAP HANA platform that is based on Apache Spark 1.0. In December 2013, SAP announced contributions to the open source community, such as the SAP HANA database client via GitHub site that enables developers to efficiently connect Node.js applications to SAP HANA. Also, SAP contributed key portions of the SAPUI5 framework as open source code on the GitHub site under an Apache Version 2.0 license.

      MyPOV – The partnership with Databricks around Spark is an important step as it makes Hadoop accessible in a performant way for HANA developers. But it is a ‘co-existence’ strategy of doing HANA and Hadoop – and SAP remains one of the few vendors out there doing this (e.g. both SAS and Teradata have moved off the ‘co-existence’ strategy remarkably). It is encouraging to see from my meetings in Walldorf this week that the other way around – of bringing Hadoop style (ok Spark) queries into HANA. In my view the relationship between HANA and Hadoop needs to be an equal peer relationship, in order to bring the enterprise side of data (granted – RAM like fast) into the (ever getting faster) Hadoop queries. The key learning is that the real insights are in bringing the structured (HANA) data and the unstructured (Hadoop) data - not the other way around.

      And certainly kudos for SAP to contribute to Open Source for node.js and the addition of the SAPUI5 framework (wondering on the uptake / success here).

      New Cloud-Based Developer Tools
      SAP announced new cloud-based developer tools aiming to enable developers to easily start building applications on top of
      SAP HANA Cloud Platform, the in-memory PaaS offering from SAP, enabling customers and developers to build, extend and run applications on SAP HANA in the cloud. SAP HANA Answers is a knowledge hub website for developers providing fast access to SAP HANA information and expertise in the cloud. Via the SAP HANA Answers plugin, the site is directly accessible from the SAP HANA Studio, an Eclipse-based integrated developer environment (IDE) for administration and end-to-end application and content development for SAP HANA. SAP HANA Answers is a single point of entry for developers to find documentation, implement or troubleshoot all things SAP HANA. As part of creating a rich developer experience, in June the company announced the beta release of SAP River RDE as part of SAP HANA Cloud Platform. Developers can get started easily with free trial versions for the SAP HANA Cloud Platform here.

      MyPOV – Good to see SAP using the PaaS term now, though stumbling the in memory PaaS offering for the first time, may well have been my oversight. SAP needs to make the HANA Cloud Platform (HCP) a success if it really wants to get developer mindshare. Enabling partnerships – or even using large PaaS offerings like CloudFoundry would be a key step. As or the River RDE – I remain skeptical till I have seen the productivity justification of learning, using and honing skills in a new programming language – vs. e.g. Java and other popular Java byte compatible languages and frameworks.

      Overall MyPOV

      Good to see SAP clarify relationships with two key cloud Open Source players – OpenStack and CloudFoundry. But many more questions remain. SAP needs to describe (and find) is strategy in regards of OpenStack (just a participant or a key contributor) which goes hand in hand with its datacenter virtualization and management strategy. As for CloudFoundry SAP first needs to clarify what the moving parts are – as there could be multiple products and with that continuums that SAP could play in regards of how ‘intense’ the CloudFoundry embrace is. But in fairness to SAP – first steps need to be taken first – and even if you want to run – the first steps are slow and small (at least at my age). First steps set a direction though and many will be watching where the SAP run with Open Source will head to.

      Update July 24th the ever resourceful Matthias Steiner (@Steinermatt) pointed me to an interesting presentation of Steve Winkler and Dirk Basenach at the recent CloudFoundry summit. Shows well how SAP is addressing the PaaS issue - the biggest nugget being that hybris is building a next generation Store product with CloudFoundry - but see for yourselves:

      And more on overall SAP strategy

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

      And more about SAP technology:

      • News Analysis - SAP 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 take a look at the HireVue press release from July 23rd (it can be found here) in our usual commentary style.
      Here we go:

      SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – July 17, 2014 – HireVue, the leading digital recruiting and talent interaction provider, today announced the first predictive candidate and interviewer recommendation engine, HireVue Insights. For the first time, companies can use the power of big data to identify their top candidates and best interviewers based on interaction, hiring and performance attributes. It helps organizations optimize their hiring model and gives talent professionals a competitive edge by reducing guesswork and helping them discover the right candidates more quickly. For candidates, it levels the playing field and gives often overlooked talent a chance.

      According to the Talent Board, less than 6% of job applicants get an opportunity to interview for a position. The average position receives approximately 100 applicants, leaving 94 candidates in a black hole – often wondering where they stand and why. Many have the skills, personality and potential to do the job but don’t get a chance to tell their story. Until now... HireVue Insights uses the power of big data and personalized digital interactions to recommend candidates based on 15,000 interaction, behavioral and performance attributes – and how they correlate to the organizations current top performers.

      MyPOV – Good description of the problem from an enterprise and recruiter perspective – it is really all about finding the best fit candidate. With the application load the error rate at finding the best candidate naturally goes up and what is better to solve that than looking at BigData and (true) Analytics to help find the best candidate. (Here is my definition of true Analytics and 6 common misunderstandings on the topic).

      HireVue also does a good job to keep stressing the candidate experience. Not really clear how this product will change it – the answer is of course more and better automation to tell candidates where they stand in the application life cycle. But it also means that each criteria captured about a candidate will be part of the interview process funnel and part of the hiring decision – a better situation for candidates out there than leaving it to human, usually information overloaded and error prone decision making.

      HireVue Iris™, a patented deep learning analytics engine that powers HireVue Insights, analyzes a unique data set of interactions, feedback and outcomes that never before existed. Developed by HireVue’s data science team, Iris was built based on over 3 million interview responses. Each candidate interview contains 100,000 times more bytes of data than the resume or profile traditionally used for identifying job candidates. The platform examines attributes in three major categories: interview attributes, behavioral attributes, and performance attributes. Iris’s proprietary algorithms discover patterns and learn which attributes predict performance, then scores each candidate on how they compare to existing top performers. And, similar to a batting average for hiring managers, Iris also scores interviewers based on how their historic ratings and feedback correlated with hiring and performance outcomes.

      MyPOV – A nice insight on how HireVue Iris is trying to solve the problem. What is not mentioned – but key to make this a very interesting analytical offering – are capabilities that were demoed to me back at the HireVue user conference (my takeaways here) in early June: The recruiter can improve analytical models by rating past hiring success – a key trust creating measure in my view – to get business users to trust the magic coming their way via an analytical application. And HireVue smartly provides a layered model delivery, starting with a default model, fine tuning that to an industry model and then all the way to a position model. The right approach to makes there is immediate value from analytical applications. Business users do not expect (some of them fear) for the analytical software to be right away better, but by easing them in to the software’s usage, when they can see that the software is adaptive, and learns (from them), they should come on board and comfortable using the analytical software.

      And HireVue rightfully highlights the other perspective – the model can also be used to predict how thoroughly and ultimately successfully a recruiter works.

      “Recruiters and hiring managers rely heavily on instincts, hunches and memory to choose the right candidates, but there isn’t a lot of data to help them predict who will become a top performer, or decide who should be interviewing candidates,” said Mark Newman, CEO of HireVue. “This could be the most important innovation in recruiting in the past 25 years. HireVue Insights analyzes over 100,000 times more data than a resume, all within the context of your organization, your positions and your feedback. It gets smarter over time to become your own personal data-driven hiring model.”

      MyPOV – Well said. Not sure HireVue needs to stretch the 100k more – assuming this is the math behind the 2-4kb of the average resume vs. the average length of the interview. But at the end it does not matter – as long as the Isis model can show a recruiter better candidates.

      The data science team at HireVue worked closely with customers to develop and configure Insights to meet the unique needs of each company. Customers like Chipotle Mexican Grill and others are already realizing big improvements within their processes. […]

      MyPOV – Good to see the model was not build in the data scientist’s ivory tower but with customers. Extra points for a well known brand like Chipotle.

      Overall MyPOV

      Well done by HireVue to apply BigData and (true) Analytics to a very hard problem, recruiting. It would be great to know what behavioral / body language etc. algorithms HireVue might be using to skim through the video file, but understandably that is proprietary. With end user feedback consideration and stepwise model progression HireVue has implemented two key mechanisms that are important for analytical application success.

      Now we can only wish HireVue and their customers luck in the early phase to have the successful showcases everyone hopes analytical software will deliver. The good news is that from interacting with the HireVue analytical brain trust at the user conference, they have the ability to address and fix things quickly - should that be necessary. And then it would be great to consider model thrashing and multi-model decision making – not just using the powerful and pretty ubiquitous scoring mechanisms. But one step at time.

      More on HireVue

      • 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.

      And  more on Payroll:

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

      Find even more coverage on the Constellation Research website here.

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      Today Workday unveiled its latest Update, Workday 22 – including the addition of Recruiting to Workday’s HCM solution portfolio. Recruiting has been long anticipated, and already a lot previewed at earlier conferences (all the way back to Workday Rising in September 2013), but Workday 22 has a lot of new functionality, too. Contrary to the past Workday changed the release announcement format from a webcast to an event held in San Francisco to kick off a four city road show, in my view a good move, showing how far the company has come.

      And no surprise, most of the event focused on the new recruiting module, presented by Leiganne Levensaler and balanced out by the rest of Workday 22, presented by Mike Frandsen.

      The new kid on the block – Recruiting

      As to be expected when a software vendor has plenty of time to get something right, they get it right. Workday is no exception and the nearly two year spent with design partners and applying design thinking principles to interview and observing users, conducting usability tests, working with early adopters etc. has culminated in a good first release of recruiting. Special credit in my view goes to the development team for really looking at the key constituents in the recruitment automation space, the applicant, the recruiter, the hiring manager and the interviewers. Workday used a persona driven approach to build recruiting – and as expected – that approach delivers complete functionality for each of the personae / roles.

      Screenshot from Workday website
      Moreover Workday has taken the opportunity that every good enterprise software developer should take, to not rebuild one to one what has been built in this area of automation before – but to address a number of newer integration and best practice areas that are quickly becoming standard, like for instance:
      • Continuously looking for talent and organizing them into talent pools – both internally and externally comes to mind, regardless of an open hiring requisition.
      • Seamless processes across Workforce Planning, Sourcing, Hiring and Onboarding.
      • Managing the candidate experience, including providing candidates access to a company's branded career site, where they can apply or share to their social networks.
      • Leveraging social networks both for job referral as for application completion.
      • Using smartphones and tablets to enable both the application as well as the interview process, including interview collaboration across the hiring team.
      • And so on.

      Listen to Levensaler present Recruiting 

      Needless to say, Workday has done the (usually) good job with the user interface, it is consistent with the rest of the applications and looks easy to use. A quick comparison with the mobile solution shown back at Workday Rising shows that the development team has not been idling, but worked to expand both usability and solution further.

      And always good to see when things are driven to closure, or re-used, so pushing recruiting information in the Notebook functionality of Update 20 and allowing Notebooks to be shared makes that an even more powerful tool. 

      Finally Workday sees onboarding as part of recruiting, a sensible and logical decision, that is more or less part of the functional offering for most of the suite vendors, but nonetheless worth mentioning.

      One of the more interesting insights Workday shared, was how the need of the recruiting process has repercussions all the way down to the underlying application platform capabilities. Due to the dynamic nature of recruiting that cannot be scripted in a number of finite steps Workday had to make its Business Process Framework more flexible, in order to accommodate Recruiting. The company did that and the good news now is, that other business automation needs that are equally non deterministic (e.g. promotions, general planning, sales, contract negotiations etc.) will soon benefit from the new capabilities in the framework.

      What else is in Update 22

      As usual I will exclude the enhancements for Financials – you can find them here. But the new customer portal looks nice.

      Update 15
      Update 16
      Update 17
      Update 18
      Update 19
      Update 20
      Update 21
      Update 22
      October 2011
      April 2012
      August 2012
      November 2012
      April 2013
      September 2013
      January 2014
      May 2014
      User Experience
      - Outlook Integration
      - Chatter Integration
      HTML5 Support for non IOS devices
      - New modules
      - Global Support
      Workforce Engagement:
      Team Profile
      Professional Profile
      Headcount Planning
      Big Data Analytics
      New User Interface for browser
      New Dynamic Business Process Framework
      Reporting Enhancements
      Talent Management
      - Talent Reviews
      - Career Interests
      - Cornerstone Integration
      Time Tracking
      Performance Management Enhancements
      Android Native Support & iOS Mobile Enhancements
      User Experience - Configurable Grids for Compensation
      Performance Management across browser and mobile
      Travel Connector
      Collaboration on Mobile
      - Payroll for Canada
      - Payroll Connector

      Usability Enhancements
      Custom Fields
      More custom fields
      - Notbooks for iPad
      Legislative support - Report for ACA / RUP
      Employee Classification in Collective Agreements
      Higher Education Functionality

      170 Enhancements
      207 Features / 80 Brainstorm Items
      246 Features / 67 Brainstorm Items
      347 Features / 68
      Customer Requests across Workday 22

      And as usual I will try to evaluate the functional richness of the release – and with Recruiting Workday has – since a long time, Update 17 (with Time Tracking) to be precise, provided a major building stone to the HCM automation puzzle. Granted, enhancement is not equal to enhancement but without a better metric, this was a good and rich release for Workday, with for the first time over 350 enhancements. And the number should be up, as Workday has a larger customer base and a larger functional footprint.

      Nonetheless congratulations to the Workday team for one of the most functional rich releases – maybe ever. And with that I do not mean that other releases have been small – I am sure Update 21 getting all to work snuggly with the new UI – was a lot of work, too. But it did not move the functional needle from a HCM automation perspective.


      Workday has taken its time to build Recruiting and it shows – it is a well-rounded integrated first release with a lot of benefits on the not so traditional recruiting roles of the hiring manager, the candidate and the hiring team. Accounting for mobile needs in the recruiting process right from the get go and not as an afterthought deserves credit – as much as it is a table stake today to support mobile devices. Workday must now map out and communicate the next steps for recruiting. I am sure they are Identified (pun intended). But there is more to that on which Workday needs to communicate. It’s great to have 70 customers signed up, but many more have to follow and they want certainty of what is to come.

      It’s also good to see that Workday 22 was a functionally richer release than previous Updates – which is the direction customers want Workday to take. Looking at the missing pieces of HCM automation functionality, Workday now needs to start thinking and communicating around Learning (partnering right now), Workforce Management (partnering right now for shift planning, clocks, etc) and more global Payroll (beyond US, Canada, UK 2015 and France in 2016) support (you guessed it – partnering). To really make the story of an integrated system fly – these are the next steps Workday needs to address…

      But for now – congrats to Workday to a good start with Recruiting and a functionally very rich Update 22. 

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

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

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      I am attending the VMware VMworld user conference held at Moscone Center in San Francisco, together with 22000 more participants. 

      Overall the keynote was a better rounded event than last year’s – we had Matlock open, Gelsinger leading through most of the keynote, intersected with Bill Fathers talking about hybrid cloud and Eschenbach closing with customer interviews and stories. From the topics it looks like tomorrow’s keynote will feature VMware’s End User Computing (EUC) products prominently.
      • VMWare keeps working for the install base. It certainly is good when vendors keep supporting the install base and create value for the existing customers. But the risk for VMware and its customers remains that they are making legacy more efficient – not disrupting themselves for the future. The risk is the self-fulfilling prophecy of two parties reconfirming what they know each other for and do well – virtualization of the compute load. And to give VMware credit – they keep trying and moving the customer base along – with new innovation and products. What I wonder though is if the average VMworld attendee thinks more of on premise data center or more hybrid or compete public cloud when they hear about the software defined Data Center, or technologies like NSX.

        But then I can imagine an IT decision maker to give the new EVOrail offering a try – an easy pilot into the brave new SDDC world. My largest concern on EVOrail is why it (initially) is limited to 16 cores only. Promise to dig more on that limit during VMworld in the next days. 

      Gelsinger on one platform for any App vision

      • VMware becomes more standard friendly. Both the announcements of supporting the OpenCompute specification and playing along with OpenStack are key moves by VMware. And while the OpenCompute support maybe self-serving for a software company that has a natural incentive to lower hardware costs, the creation of a ‘single’ stack, single pane of glass over both the on premise compute load and a cloud (here OpenStack) based load – is very valuable for customers. Now if they could move load to where it is more cost efficient, either tactically or strategically across the hybrid cloud – that’s where the value is. And of course the hard work. But as I keep blogging and saying – no one understands enterprise compute load better than VMware. How to leverage that insight and keep growing as an enterprise is what the team around Gelsinger needs is figuring out. 

      Father walks through 5 Services of vCloud Air 

      • Hybrid Cloud progresses. When it comes to hybrid cloud, it is Bill Fathers time. The biggest grade of success for the effort in my view remains the data center roll out speed and resulting capacity, and Fathers said that VMware is rolling out at the speed of one data center per month. But then it lacked specifics – and we need to learn more during this VMworld. What is clear is that hybrid cloud is the opportunity where VMware wants to work and works with the partner ecosystem. The challenge remains if partners can and want to muscle the CAPEX needed for that game.

        The other interesting announcement by Fathers was the announcement of (finally) value adding services to vCloud Air – with the usual suspects of database (e.g. MS SQL Server), block storage (to be announced with EMC), mobility (Airwatch), cloud management and of course – DevOps.

      Gelsinger 5 Takeaways


      A good start of VMworld that only scratched the surface of the many announcements (check them here) - we will have to learn more before writing our event report - for now we share our first impressions, which are positive and cautiously optimistic. 

      P.S. Not so great seating - pardon the bad quality of the pictures, wanted to share them nonetheless. 

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      On August 21st – during the usually more quiet summer months – Skillsoft announced that it has agreed with the SumTotal owners to acquire the company, bringing together its Learning capabilities with SumTotal’s talent management capabilities. 

      This marks the 2nd capital transaction in a few months for Skillsoft – that only in March was acquired by London based private equity firm Charterhouse (the deal valuated Skillsoft at $2.3B+). Charterhouse acquired SumTotal from Vista Equity Partner, who acquired SumTotal in July of 2009. SumTotal itself acquired GeoLearning (Learning) and Softscape (Performance Management, Compensation, Learning and other HR Core functionalities) in 2010 and in 2011 Accero (Payroll and HR Core / from Vista Equity Partners, who owned it since 2008) and Cybershift (Workforce Management and Expense Management). Confused? There are more acquisitions in both companies and different capital holders. I am waiting for Bill Kutik to write a post with a longitudinal perspective he provides so much better than me.

      Cultural Aspects

      This is one of the few acquisitions of a North American software company by a European software company – even with a European financial backer. The good news is, that Skillsoft has a long term experience with the North American market, where it probably earns most of its revenues. Charterhouse however has mainly European holdings, pretty much all of them not in the software space. Even more remarkable Charterhouse decided to help with the acquisition. So SumTotal must have been either an opportunity that was too attractive not to pass by (it was with Vista since 5 years, when in some private equity shops the clocks point towards ‘Sale’) or part of an overall plan of Charterhouse, not to stop with Learning but see Skillsoft as a step stone into forming an overall HCM player.

      Ironically I had been probing Skillsoft executives at the last SuccessConnect conference in fall of 2013 how long the road for Learning was still for the company. No surprise, they re-assured me that there was still plenty of potential in Learning. Well that’s history now.

      Overall it will be interesting to see how well the European and North American management teams will work together. One off the pertinent questions will be who will run Products, especially with SumTotal CEO Gulati being a former product guy background wise. Certainly Skillsoft CEO Moran could opt for a ‘licensing’ model – leaving product roadmaps untouched and SumTotal quasi ‘license’ the Skillsoft products for Learning. But that would not leverage too many synergies, something Charterhouse certainly is after.

      Product Aspects

      The Skillsoft products are generally very solid and proven. The company’s early strategy to adopt an embedding strategy made for its Learning capabilities into other applications made it an early pioneer of web services. So Skillsoft knows standard based integration. SumTotal on the other hand had to bring together a plethora of acquired applications, something it executed with its elixHR platform. Probably benefitting of Gulati’s experience building Hub products at Oracle, elixHR uses a Virtual System of Record and Hub Technology to bring together the different SumTotal products and 3rd party systems. How standard based is an open question. [Update 8/26 11:21 AM - Spoke with Gulati, elixHR is standard based, e.g. like WSDL, Portal based, Webparts, HTML5 etc.]  When talking last to SumTotal at HR Tech 2013 the company was in process of moving products to elixHR, difficult to say where the company is with that effort now, in summer 2014.

      In the short term the product strategy needs to address redundant Learning capabilities in both products, more medium term Skillsoft needs to decide if it wants to provide identical functionality sets to all its consumers – SumTotal and all the 3rd parties – or if there will be some ‘special’ features in the combined capabilities that will be exclusive to the new company and its customers. But that will pose a certain risk as large parts of Skillsoft revenue are licensing revenues. The good news for Skillsoft is that for now – its partners have very few alternatives where to go and get a learning catalogue of the dimensions of Skillsoft.

      It will be key to see how the new company will address this and many more key merger questions (we are staying away from Sales, Marketing, Service and General Administration synergies here).

      Implications, Implications

      So let’s look at what this acquisition does to the market place and its participants. With the leading Learning provider acquiring a complete HR vendor, this has not surprisingly implications on the whole market.

      Implications for Skillsoft customers

      Certainly the more immediate event of impact was the acquisition of Skillsoft by Charterhouse in spring this year. As it now becomes clear Charterhouse has bigger plans with Skillsoft. Immediately there should be no risk for the training catalogue and the product itself. Longer term Skillsoft may bring its products to the elixHR platform – at the core of the training business is a massive learning item hub. Even longer term Skillsoft customer may be offered complimentary Talent Management and other HR functionality – the only problem being that they have these covered with other products already. But products get old – and need to replaced. To postulate a ‘higher ground’ from a Learning proposition will be a unique value proposition we look forward to see the company develop.

      As with all acquisitions, customers should see contractual re-assurance of support of products, capabilities and if necessary even APIs.

      Implications for SumTotal customers

      As with all customers of acquired vendors, Constellation recommends to quickly get contractual re-assurance from the new owner in regards of product capability and roadmap. Especially for pending roadmap items. Consult contracts in regards of legal clauses for material events.

      Even if the SumTotal elixHR platform will become the overall Skillsoft platform, the combined engineering teams should have enough bandwidth to not neglect roadmap items. Longer term SumTotal customers will get access to Skillsoft’s extensive course library.

      Implications for Skillsoft

      This is a completely different market and game for Skillsoft now. The company will need SumTotal executives and professionals to play immediately in the overall HR market. And it will have to calm any concerns of customers – some of them HR system vendors – that it will remain the ‘Switzerland’ of Learning – no matter of the acquisition. We will see how well customers and partners will buy into the future.

      Implications for Skillsoft and SumTotal competitors

      Skillsoft competitors can now hope for some distraction of the Skillsoft team. Coming from an alternate MooC and self-creation of courses direction may help here. But to build a similar training catalogue like Skillsoft’s, takes a long time.

      SumTotal competitors may hope for some distraction, especially of executives head to the door. But in the grander scheme, the standardization on Skillsoft for Learning is only a smaller challenge in comparison to the overall challenges SumTotal has to master on the product side.

      Short term other pure players of single HR functional building blocks – of which Skillsoft was one of the largest – have to ask themselves if they can thrive with mastering a single HR function. We know HR executives are tired of nothing more than integration – and vendors like the new Skillsoft will be able to address much of that potential headache.

      On a larger scale “talent only” vendors (like e.g. Cornerstone and Halogen) need to reconsider if the exclusive focus on Talent Management is a sustainable business, for the same integration consideration as mentioned before. On the higher end of the market customers will see SAP and Oracle coming together on single platforms at some point in the future, and the integration message as value proposition will only get stronger.


      A bold move by Skillsoft. Credit to whoever realized that in the long run even a leading position in Learning is not enough in the overall HCM market. In the short term Skillsoft needs to address a lot of questions and execute well. Starting with the new company name, as an obvious point of consideration. Longer term Skillsoft needs to issue roadmaps for clients and partners and then earn their trust that it will deliver to them. But a bold move, and it’s better to have tried than not. The market is big enough and the merged company has the skills and resources to succeed. We will be there to watch.

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        I had the chance to attend VMworld in San Francisco this week, blogged my Day 1 takeaways here, time to blog on the overall impressions of the event. 

        Here are my Top 3 takeaways:
        • End User Computing (EUC) is getting bigger and bigger for VMware - It’s only 12 months ago when the industry pundits gave VMware (rightfully) a hard time on the direction of EUC, especially around the future of SocialCast. Well – what a difference a year makes: The VMware EUC portfolio is growing fast and partnering left and right in the industry (e.g. partnerships with heavyweights like Google, NVidia and SAP were announced on stage today). And the EUC story ties nicely into the overall story of VMware using vCloud Air – probably the EUC products are the largest load that VMware can drive into the data centers that run vCloud Air. The hospital doctor demo that Poonen and Colbert showed on stage showed some key progress on how people should work – transferring sensitive data (patient X-Ray images) safely between heterogeneous devices with the help of Airwatch Content Locker. But is should be even easier – and it’s good to hear that VMware is working on usability and some next generation capabilities. And the provisioning of applications with CloudVolumes demos looks like … black magic. It’s good to see, that VMware is ruthlessly working on reducing the cost of running a desktop as lower costs make more usage scenarios available and lower cost helps the overall adoption of virtual desktops. 

        Poonen talking about United's iPads for Pilots, poweredd by Airwatch

        • OpenStack & Containers - revisited - The OpenStack and various container partnerships received more attention today – and combined with the afternoon briefings of yesterday the picture here gets much clearer on the business side. Kudos to VMware executives to share that customer demand is one (or the key) driver here. And while the OpenStack move is more defensive – yes customers can run now from an OpenStack console a VMware powered data center under hoods – the container move is critical as it gives VMware some chops into the important next generation applications business. Enterprises build these next generation applications primarily on the public cloud, using the popular containers. For VMware to bring back that load to the corporate data center is a key move to extend the life of a VMware powered data center. They key factor here will be TCO – on both cases – OpenStack and containers – and comes back to VMware being able to reduce the cost to run these VMware powered data centers. VMworld showed that VMware looks at cost, e.g. in the EUC space – but in general my impressions were, that VMware is trying to add value with NSX and more to keep the license share / revenue constant. A valid strategy but it may be challenged with the zero to very low license costs seen with OpenStack and Open Source in general. 

        OpenStack and VMware [Pardon bad picture quality]
        • Hybrid Cloud - gaining traction - Good to see VMware moving ahead in this key area – but at less speed than I am afraid is important for the company and its customers. Brunozzi demoed a nifty DR scenario – where vCloud Air is being used for disaster recovery. But VMware can and needs to do so much more here. Granted it’s early days but the dynamic shifting of loads is the business case that is really what VMware needs to address – better sooner than later. If VMware is early in addressing this – they can be part of the shift of a more growing part of enterprise automation being powered by the public cloud providers. One of the most welcomed demo features was the vMotion of a VM over long distance. So with VMware using the same platform both on the on premise and cloud side, the capability is there. But the longer VMware will not address this – the more customers will vote with their feet – or more with a lot of work and investment for other vendors – moving loads to the public cloud. 

        The 4 vCloud Air services - for now.


        A lot of progress by VMware at this VMworld. Granted all announcements are still out and a lot of product has to be build – some of these products being almost a year out. It is good to see VMware listening to customers, but the very reason customers are asking for support for e.g. OpenStack and containers is that they want to have less lock-in – and the largest virtualization lock-in market share wise is with VMware. It comes back to VMware to create constantly more value around that – after all who wants to leave a golden cage? 

        But at the same time the warning bells should be ringing in the executive team around Gelsinger. For the longest time I was thinking that VMware was a hostage of the high margins it monetizes from its on premise business. In conversation with executives I was convinced though that – if done right – VMware could generate even more revenue if moving these customers to the public / VMware cloud from the resulting subscription business. A long tenured subscription customer means more revenue for a vendor than a onetime perpetual license customer. So the question is what is holding VMware back? It is certainly not the CAPEX challenge many of its partner face, both VMware and EMC have deep enough pockets. I am convinced it is also not the executive team not ‘getting this’. So what remains is a product roadmap challenge – VMware needs to build product to attract customers to build next generation applications on the VMware cloud and find a solution to move on premise load dynamically to the public cloud. Which will be a hybrid cloud scenarios – and I remain with my verdict that this remains the Holy Grail for VMware – as no vendor knows and understands current enterprise workload as well as VMware. VMware did not announce any capabilities here – maybe it will surprise us in the next quarters to come. 

        In the meantime the EUC portfolio is making great progress – if the team around Poonen can keep the momentum 2015 will be an even more exciting year for the VMware EUC portfolio.

        More on VMWare by me
        • 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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      • 08/28/14--10:45: Speed Briefings at VMworld
      • It was a good VMworld conference in San Francisco, with a frenzy of announcements, an impressive ecosystem presence on the show floor and a dense briefing schedule. 

        As there are many conferences on Moscone, and most use Moscone South as exhibition floor, you can easily compare the profile of the show floor. And pretty much all conferences have a ‘Matterhorn’ profile – with the vendor in the middle, surrounded by the premium sponsors being the peak – and then quickly flattening down. VMworld however looks more like the Ayers Rock – only smaller booth on the very sides of the show floor. An impressive testament how important the industry thinks VMware and its customers are.

        No Matterhorn - more an Ayers Rock profile

        So my takeaways from VMworld are here and here – and I shared my briefings of VMworld 2013 here – so this post will follow the same format - vendors in alphabetical format:

        I met with CloudPhysics last year and the startup has made very good progress in the last 12 months. Originally the company focused on the visualization of VMware data centers compute loads and with a smart crowdsourcing strategy of intelligence snippets (they call them cards) quickly got a lot of attention and traction. More recently the company has added monitoring and analytics and with that has become an even more interesting vendor to consider.

        The vendor formerly known as Cloudvelocity has also made good progress in the last year in the interesting area of cloud migration. The original focus was on cloud migration, it is good to see the company is now quickly moving into the disaster recovery opportunity. The product ‘just’ transfers files between the private to the public cloud (for now AWS) and that simply works. Sounds magical, but given the experience of the founder team from the former Neopath – something of that complexity could have been pulled off – and now we can see it has been pulled off. No better proof point than live customers, that the company now has. Always nice to see a startup putting a year to good news. 

        This startup took the interesting approach to enable monitoring of on premise data centers from a cloud based console. At VMworld it promoted its products with the catchy slogan of 'SaaS magic for Private Clouds'.  To help with that Platform9 has created its own OpenStack distribution. An interesting approach to run a cloud based console easily and quickly on top of OpenStack based data centers. Definitively an interesting alternative of the traditional, slow to procure and install, hard to maintain system management and monitoring vendor landscape. 

        It was great to catch up with Puppetlabs, to me the company that powers most infrastructure for next generation applications. It was good to see the focus on being a software company, staying away from the services fray and leaving that business to the partner ecosystem. With the user conference PuppetConf imminent – I can’t share any product plans, but they sounded promising. One of the viable showcases on how to thrive in the Open Source ecosystem not with services, but software products. 

        An interesting startup in the virtual desktop and virtualization space. Contrary to most VDI products that sit on hypervisors, Sphere3D has built its on microvisor. With that the company achieves significant better utilization of hardware than the VM based competitors – but with the vendor also requires its own virtualization. The good news is that the virtualization process is simple, only a few steps and can be done by a business end user, with the requirement being only that they are able to install the application. With the pending merger with Overland Storage the company will likely become a player in the mobile / BYOD market, too. 

        There are few Midwest based software companies and more than often we have not heard of them. TeamQuest is in the IT Operational Analytics business. Coupled with a strong history of workload measurement and visualization, the company has an impressive customer portfolio, having been around for 20+ years. The product allows organizations to import and visualize 3rd party data and has recently added automated predictive analytics to help foresee short comings and possible outages in a data center. When predictive analytics are put in place successfully, and the vendor has the domain expertise to pull this off, they are a very powerful mechanism to make people's life easier - in this case the life of IT managers and operators. 

        My 2013 VMworld speed briefing blog post can be found here

        More on VMWare by me
        • 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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        Security concerns have long been a detriment to cloud deployment plans. In certain regulated industries not being able to guarantee that certain workloads and data are on a specific machine have been straightforward showstoppers, e.g. in Healthcare and Financial Services. 

        IBM’s approach to run bare metal servers in its SoftLayer cloud has always been a step to get the security concerns of enterprises better addressed. But at the end of the day, there was never the ultimate guarantee that e.g. a specific process could only run on a specific machine or data could not be accessed if not on a specific machine. Today’s announcement of IBM and Intel partnering changes that – and with that is quite relevant to increase cloud adoption in the enterprise.

        The press release can be found here–so let’s analyze it in usual style:

        IBM (NYSE: IBM) today announced that SoftLayer it will be the first cloud platform to offer its customers bare metal servers powered by Intel® Cloud Technology that provides monitoring and security down to the microchip level.

        Intel® Trusted Execution Technology (Intel® TXT) provides hardware monitoring and security controls that help assure businesses that a workload from a known location on SoftLayer infrastructure is running on trusted hardware. This assurance provides an essential level of confidence—and even compliance certification—for organizations moving sensitive and mission-critical operations to the cloud.

        MyPOV – A hardware based technology like Intel TXT will beat out security provided in other layers of the ISO stack. Compliance certification is going to be a huge benefit for regulated industries.

        These new security capabilities put IBM at the forefront of security innovation helping organizations develop solutions around areas such as governance, compliance, audit, application security, privacy, identity and access management and incident response. IBM will also be offering services to help customers implement this new capability into their applications and platforms.

        MyPOV – I am usually critical of IBM making the areas between product and service gray, but that’s not the case here and the new customers will need help to setup the new security infrastructure.

        “Security perception remains the biggest hurdle for wide-spread enterprise cloud adoption,” said Marc Jones, CTO for SoftLayer. “SoftLayer is the only bare-metal cloud platform offering Intel TXT, leading the industry in enabling customers to build hybrid and cloud environments that can be trusted from end-to-end.”

        MyPOV – Others will follow quickly – but IBM certainly has first mover advantage. Coupled with the announced expansion to 40 data centers (we covered the news here) the combination of location and physical machine addresses security and governance concerns very well.

        Intel TXT is especially advantageous for large enterprises subject to compliance and audit regulations, such as healthcare, financial services and government organizations. It helps ensure that trusted resources can be integrated, managed and reported on with the relevant compliance frameworks (HIPAA, PCI, FedRAMP, ISO, FISMA, SSAE16). With IBM Cloud and SoftLayer infrastructure, these organizations will be able to certify a cloud computing pool is appropriately secured for workloads with exposures such as governance and enterprise risk, information and life-cycle management, compliance and audit, application security, identity and access management and incident response.
        MyPOV – It will be key to address not only compute load but equally data access and residency. With the related operations to secure the machine. What happens if a rogue employee manages to walk out of a data center with a server under the arm or syphon data off via USB stick? The load would not run – but what about the data that maybe on the machine. Encrypted certainly. Today physical security is the only effective protection.

        “It is becoming increasingly important to provide cloud environments with the same, if not greater levels of security as your on premise technology environments,” said Rick Echevarria, Vice President of Intel Security Group, General Manager, Intel Security Platform and Solutions Divisions. “By building on IBM’s history of security innovation, with this solution based on Intel TXT, SoftLayer is demonstrating that such levels of cloud security are now possible and available.”
        Intel TXT verifies the components of a computing system from its operating system or hypervisor all the way to its boot firmware and hardware. Combined with attestation (root of trust software) this verification is then used to permit or deny a workload from running on that select server system. Hybrid cloud solutions can leverage partner software and Intel TXT, to limit data decryption to specific geo-located servers, in support of local data privacy laws. And because Intel TXT is activated during boot up, this added security does not add any performance overhead to applications.

        MyPOV – The advantage of hardware centric security are very small performance de-gradation as exemplified here.

        To use Intel TXT, SoftLayer customers need only order bare metal servers available with a Trusted Platform module (TPM) installed. Once activated and deployed with attestation software Intel TXT allows clients to build trusted computing pools of IT resources in the cloud with an added level of visibility and control. Designed to measure the execution environment and protect sensitive information from software-based attacks Intel TXT operates with TPM, an industry-standard device that can securely store the measurement artifacts, to verify the integrity of the hardware, firmware and software. This assurance provides an essential level of confidence—and even certification—for organizations moving sensitive and mission-critical operations to the SoftLayer Infrastructure.
        Softlayer is a member of the Intel Cloud Technology program which identifies CSPs using Intel processors for reliable industry-leading performance and quality. Intel TXT is available today on SoftLayer bare metal servers with the following Intel processors:
        · Intel® Xeon® E5-2600 v2
        · Intel ® Xeon® E3-1200 v3
        · Intel ® Xeon® E5-4600

        MyPOV – We need to dig a little deeper to understand what load and utilization this covers for existing IBM Cloud customers and if other, potentially more prominent processors can be retrofitted or if these clients need to migrate servers in order to take advantage of TXT.

        Today’s announcement builds on IBM’s security offerings including software and services to help customers strategically and holistically manage information technology and operational risk end-to end across all including:
        · information security
        · threat and vulnerability management
        - identity and access management
        · application security
        · physical security

        MyPOV – Good move by IBM to keep working on the security angle for the IBM Cloud positioning – certainly security has helped IBM’s success and it’s good to see the vendor keeping the focus and investment on this critical area for many customers.

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

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