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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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    We had the opportunity to attend the SAP Capital Market event, held February 9th 2017 at the New York Stock Exchange. The event is for the analyst community, mainly for the financial colleagues, but with a good representation from the industry side, too Traditionally SAP unveils some product news at the event – as SAP did two years ago with the launch of S/4HANA (my blog of the event is here). 



    So take a look at my musings on the event here: (if the video doesn’t show up, check here)



    No time to watch – here is the 1-2 slide condensation (if the slide doesn’t show up, check here):



    Want to read on? Here you go: Always tough to pick the takeaways – but here are my Top takeaways:

    S/4HANA setup for success – now needs execution– When SAP launched S/4 HANA two years ago, there were substantial expectations that S/4 HANA would be widely adopted in its public cloud deployment option. Reality panned out differently, with almost all adoption happening with the on premises version of S/4HANA. We are beyond the reasons of why this happened, for this blog let’s look why this will work now, which we asked the new S/4 HANA leader, Darren Roos. In his view, public cloud adoption is more mature in the enterprise, at the same time enterprises face disruption and know they need to become more agile. Consumerization of IT helps, too – as cloud based products are more easily consumed. But what will really change the fate of the S4/HANA public cloud business is the establishment of a S/4 HANA public cloud salesforce. Focus always helps and sales professionals who have one product, will work hard to earn their commissions – and sell that very one product. On the value proposition side, SAP has stronger arguments – with contextual analytics, a digital assistant, Machine Learning capabilities and a Fiori user experience. Moreover, SAP talked about IoT and blockchain plans, but I somehow missed the briefing on this Certainly even without the latter, enough value proposition to make customers and prospects consider S/4 HANA. And no surprise – both McDermott and Roos share that most S/4HANA cloud customers, are net new customers. 

    SAP Capital Markets S/4HANA Constellation Research Holger Mueller
    Bartiromo and McDemott

    SAP unveils SAP Clea, the Machine Learning Sister of HANA and Leonardo– During Bernd Leukert’s presentation he unveiled SAP Clea, SAP’s new offering to bring Machine Learning to enterprise applications, an overdue move. We just came out of the ‘Fall of AI’ in 2016, so it’s key for all enterprise system vendors to make sense of the technology for better usage of enterprise software. Not many more details were shared, this will be a key area to watch, not only for S/4 HANA – but the SAP product portfolio overall.

    SAP Capital Markets S/4HANA Constellation Research Holger Mueller
    Leukert announces SAP Clea

    SAP talks more PaaS
    – SAP Hana Cloud Platform (HCP) is now rebranded to SAP Cloud Platform – It seems more and more that SAP has understood the importance of PaaS, the insurance policy for all enterprise software vendors in the era of business best practices innovation and related uncertainty. As enterprises experiment with new digital technologies, seek opportunities for digital disruption, they need to build software in house again. It’s too early to know what the business best practices of the 21st century is, so it is key to have a competitive and agile PaaS product, which SAP Cloud Platform is. A name change is only a name change, but it is interesting for SAP to drop the coveted HANA brand name. On the positive side, SAP, has created enough confusion with branding too many things with HANA – so this maybe a start of reducing the confusion created. 

    SAP Capital Markets S/4HANA Constellation Research Holger Mueller
    Roos and Pedersen (rtl)


    SAP hints to BigData / Hadoop / OpenSource and SWIFT– One of the long-term issue SAP has had is its lack of support for the most important technology of the 21st century so far – the enablement of cheap, massive storage of any electronic information, with almost total ignorance at storage time, how it could be analyzed, in other words Hadoop / HDFS based solutions. And while SAP has added Vora, a Spark based BigData capability, it still remains memory based, but today we know that business relevant data grows faster than memory prices fall, putting all in memory only solutions on a losing path when it comes to deployment decisions of next generation Applications, e.g. in IoT, Machine Learning, etc. So, when Leukert has Hadoop on slides and hints to Hadoop support, it is an encouraging sign that SAP will address this challenge, hopefully soon. More support for OpenSource is always a good strategy, and key partners Apple gets support and a shout out with SWIFT. With Apple CEO Tim Cook calling out SAP (then still HANA) Cloud Platform on the Apple earnings call last week, the ‘love’ between these two players appears to be strong.

    MyPOV

    A good event for SAP, that looks like having addressed the challenges it faced initially with S/4 HANA for cloud, most prominently a small functional footprint, lack of complete self-service setup, a sales force with the choice of selling easier products to sell etc. SAP has now addressed these issues and added new capabilities with e.g. Machine Learning that create a better value proposition for enterprises to consider S/4 HANA implementations and migrations. But the most important one is the establishment of a dedicated salesforce. Also, good to see SAP working on Machine Learning with SAP Clea, talking more about BigData in general and Open Source in more specifics

    On the concern side, talk is cheap and slides are patient. SAP must deliver and execute in 2017 to get S/4 HANA cloud out of a sleeping beauty style deep sleep. Bigdata capabilities, PaaS functionality and Machine Learning are quickly becoming table stakes for enterprises, so speed is of the essence.

    We will be watching, stay tuned.


    Want to learn more? Checkout the Storify collection below (if it doesn’t show up – check here).

    More on SAP:
    •  News Analysis -SAP Introduces Jump-Start Enablement Program for SAP Leonardo IoT Portfolio >> Bundling and Simplification matter for IoT - read here
    • Event Report - Event Report - SAP TechEd Barcelona - Analytics, ML, PaaS and HANA 2  - read here
    • News Analysis - SAP to unveil HANA 2 - New platform vs a fork's tine - read here
    • News Analysis - Microsoft announces SAP's choice of Azure to help enterprises transform HR - The SaaS land grab is on - read here
    • Event Report - SAP / Trenitalia Digital Summit - SAP is serious about IoT - read here
    • First Take - SAP BW/4HANA - Data Gravity and Cloud win - read here
    • Event Report - SAP SuccessFactors SConnect - Push on all fronts - read here
    • Event Report - SAP Insider Vienna - HCP, BI and SuccessFactors are the takeaways - read here
    • Event Report - SAP Sapphire 2016 - Top 3 Positives & Concerns: SAP changes - probably for the better - read here
    • First Take - SAP Sapphire Day #2 Keynote - read here
    • News Analysis - SAP and Microsoft usher in new era of partnership to accelerate digital transformation in the cloud - read here
    • First Take -  SAP Sapphire Bill McDermott Day #1 Keynote - read here
    • Event Preview - SAP Sapphire 2016 - What to expect and look for - read here
    • News Analysis - Apple & SAP Partner to Revolutionize Work on iPhone & iPad - read here
    • Progress Report - SAP SuccessFactors makes good progress - now needs appeal beyond SAP - read here
    • News Analysis - SAP HANA Vora now available... - A key milestone for SAP - read here
    • Event Report - SAP Ariba Live - Make Procurement Cool Again - read here
    • News Analysis - SAP SuccessFactors innovates in Performance Management with continuous feedback powered by 1 to 1s  - read here
    • Event Report - SAP SuccessFactors SuccessConnect - Good Progress sprinkled with innovative ideas and challenging the status quo - read here
    • News Analysis - WorkForce Software Announces Global Reseller Agreement with SAP - read here
    • First Take - SAP SuccessFactors SuccessConnect - Day #1 Keynote Top 3 Takeaways - read here
    • News Analysis - SAP SuccessFactors introduces Next Generation of HCM software - read here
    • News Analysis - SAP delivers next release of SAP HANA - SPS 10 - Ready for BigData and IoT - read here
    • Event Report - SAP Sapphire - Top 3 Positives and Concerns - read here
    • First Take - Bernd Leukert and Steve Singh Day #2 Keynote - read here
    • News Analysis - SAP and IBM join forces ... read here
    • First Take - SAP Sapphire Bill McDermott Day #1 Keynote - read here
    • In Depth - S/4HANA qualities as presented by Plattner - play for play - read here
    • First Take - SAP Cloud for Planning - the next spreadsheet killer is off to a good start - read here
    • Progress Report - SAP HCM makes progress and consolidates - a lot of moving parts - read here
    • First Take - SAP launches S/4HANA - The good, the challenge and the concern - read here
    • First Take - SAP's IoT strategy becomes clearer - read here
    • SAP appoints a CTO - some musings - read here
    • Event Report - SAP's SAPtd - (Finally) more talk on PaaS, good progress and aligning with IBM and Oracle - read here
    • News Analysis - SAP and IBM partner for cloud success - good news - read here
    • Market Move - SAP strikes again - this time it is Concur and the spend into spend management - read here
    • Event Report - SAP SuccessFactors picks up speed - but there remains work to be done - read here
    • First Take - SAP SuccessFactors SuccessConnect - Top 3 Takeaways Day 1 Keynote - read here.
    • Event Report - Sapphire - SAP finds its (unique) path to cloud - read here
    • What I would like SAP to address this Sapphire - read here
    • News Analysis - SAP becomes more about applications - again - read here
    • Market Move - SAP acquires Fieldglass - off to the contingent workforce - early move or reaction? Read here.
    • SAP's startup program keep rolling – read here.
    • Why SAP acquired KXEN? Getting serious about Analytics – read here.
    • SAP steamlines organization further – the Danes are leaving – read here.
    • Reading between the lines… SAP Q2 Earnings – cloudy with potential structural changes – read here.
    • SAP wants to be a technology company, really – read here
    • Why SAP acquired hybris software – read here.
    • SAP gets serious about the cloud – organizationally – read here.
    • Taking stock – what SAP answered and it didn’t answer this Sapphire [2013] – read here.
    • Act III & Final Day – A tale of two conference – Sapphire & SuiteWorld13 – read here.
    • The middle day – 2 keynotes and press releases – Sapphire & SuiteWorld – read here.
    • A tale of 2 keynotes and press releases – Sapphire & SuiteWorld – read here.
    • What I would like SAP to address this Sapphire – read here.
    • Why 3rd party maintenance is key to SAP’s and Oracle’s success – read here.
    • Why SAP acquired Camillion – read here.
    • Why SAP acquired SmartOps – read here.
    • Next in your mall – SAP and Oracle? Read here

    And more about SAP technology:
    • Event Prieview - SAP TechEd 2015 - read here
    • News Analysis - SAP Unveils New Cloud Platform Services and In-Memory Innovation on Hadoop to Accelerate Digital Transformation – A key milestone for SAP read here
    • HANA Cloud Platform - Revisited - Improvements ahead and turning into a real PaaS - read here
    • News Analysis - SAP commits to CloudFoundry and OpenSource - key steps - but what is the direction? - Read here.
    • News Analysis - SAP moves Ariba Spend Visibility to HANA - Interesting first step in a long journey - read here
    • Launch Report - When BW 7.4 meets HANA it is like 2 + 2 = 5 - but is 5 enough - read here
    • Event Report - BI 2014 and HANA 2014 takeaways - it is all about HANA and Lumira - but is that enough? Read here.
    • News Analysis – SAP slices and dices into more Cloud, and of course more HANA – read here.
    • SAP gets serious about open source and courts developers – about time – read here.
    • My top 3 takeaways from the SAP TechEd keynote – read here.
    • SAP discovers elasticity for HANA – kind of – read here.
    • Can HANA Cloud be elastic? Tough – read here.
    • SAP’s Cloud plans get more cloudy – read here.
    • HANA Enterprise Cloud helps SAP discover the cloud (benefits) – read here

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

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    We had the opportunity to attend the Oracle HCM analyst meeting on February 22nd 2017, held at the beautiful Ritz Carlton in Half Moon Bay. The meeting was well attended with 20 analysts participating. 



    So take a look at my musings on the event here: (if the video doesn’t show up, check here)




    No time to watch – here is the 1-2 slide condensation (if the slide doesn’t show up, check here):



    Want to read on? Here you go: Tough to pick the top takeaways – but here are my top 3:

    Oracle HCM has Momentum– Not surprisingly, the momentum of Oracle HCM is continuing. A few years ago, Oracle was challenged with references for Oracle HCM (mid 2013), what a difference 3.5 years make: Now more than 100 enterprises go live with Oracle HCM every quarter. More stats around Oracle HCM below. 


    Oracle Cloud HCM Momentum Holger Mueller Constellation Research
    Oracle Cloud HCM Momentum

    Single Platform for all HCM – As we shared as a major takeaway from Oracle OpenWorld 2016 (see here), Oracle has long time ago (silently till then) started to build Recruiting functionality on the Oracle (Fusion) Cloud platform, same schema, APIs, standards etc. like all the Oracle SaaS suite. So the days of the duopoly of Oracle HCM on the one side and Taleo on the other side are counted, Leone shared at the meeting that usual, large customers could use the new Recruiting capability by end of 2017. Replacing acquired capabilities on a new platform is never easy for any vendor, executd in totality has only been done on very few occasions in enterprise software history. So Oracle has taken some key steps into this direction – looking forward to learn about the first live customers on the new Talent Acquisition capabilities. 


    Oracle HCM Cloud in one slide - Holger Mueller Constellation Research
    Oracle HCM Cloud in one slide


    Learning Progress – Almost two years ago, Oracle surprised the market with the announcement of Oracle Learning at HCM World in 2014. Since then the module has made good progress, adding key new capabilities (e.g. Learning Communities) and more traditional ones (like Classroom Training). 100 customers live today is a good milestone, when one remembers that the product is only sold as part of the overall Oracle HCM Suite and not stand alone.


    Oracle Learning Cloud - Customer Characteristics - Holger Mueller Constellation Research
    Oracle Learning Cloud - Customer Characteristics


    MyPOV

    Good progress by Oracle, which is gaining relative strength in regards of its two key competitors, likely to culminate when all its HCM capabilities are on a single platform. Operational efficiencies and organizational agility increase when that point is reached, a win / win for customers and vendors, a key milestone to monitor.

    On the concern side, Oracle needs to become clear on its approach of Machine Learning (ML, if you like AI) in regards of HCM. Too much potential here and while we heard the Oracle Adaptive Intelligence story once more as it pertains web display ads / next best action – it is not clear where and how ML will make a difference for Oracle HCM users overall. But there is time to address this, maybe at HCM World. Oracle has made progress and additions to the user interface like e.g. QuickActions and Smart Overlays – but it still feels like an aging user experience. Kudos to Oracle for letting (once again) the analysts use the software – this time the mobile version, which is well done and rounded, it has only a few kinks. What may prevent Oracle from a UI revision could be an aggressive adoption of voice that should replace most ESS and MSS screens. An area to watch.

    But overall good progress by Oracle that is pushing its HCM offering forward on all fronts. What the adoption of the IaaS Gen 2 may mean for SaaS products like Oracle HCM remains to be seen. It is clear that adoption and sales challenges are not with the product side for the year to come – at least from the general perceptive, so it looks like if there are challenges for Oracle HCM in 2017, they will be more on the Marketing, Sales and Services side. Always a good place to be for a SaaS product vendor. We will be watching.


    Want to learn more? Checkout the Storify collection below (if it doesn’t show up – check here).


    Recent blog posts on Oracle:
    •  Event Report - Oracle OpenWorld - the HCM perspective - Almost no news, but wait... - read here.
    • First Take - Early Oracle OpenWorld 2016 Keynotes - read here
    • Event Preview - Oracle OpenWorld 2016 - What to expect, what to watch for ... will IaaS start Clicking? - read here
    • Market Move - Oracle acquires NetSuite - Oddly consolidation means more options for customers - read here
    • News Analysis - Oracle Unveils Suite of Breakthrough Services.. or short: Oracle Cloud Machine - read here
    • Progress Report - Oracle Cloud - More ready than ever, now needs adoption - read here
    • Event Report - Oracle Openworld 2015 - Top 3 Takeaways, Top 3 Positives & Concerns - read here
    • News Analysis - Quick Take on all 22 press releases of Oracle OpenWorld Day #1 - #3 - read here
    • First Take - Oracle OpenWorld - Day 1 Keynote - Top 3 Takeaways - read here
    • Event Preview - Oracle Openworld - watch here

    Future of Work / HCM / SaaS research:

    • Event Report - Oracle HCM World - Innovation around the Core - read here
    • Event Report - Oracle HCM World - Full Steam ahead, a Learning surprise and potential growth challenges - read here
    • First Take - Oracle HCM World Day #1 Keynote - off to a good start - read here
    • Progress Report - Oracle HCM gathers momentum - now it needs to build on that - read here
    • Oracle pushes modern HR - there is more than technology - read here. (Takeaways from the recent HCMWorld conference).
    • Why Applications Unlimited is good a good strategy for Oracle customers and Oracle - read here.

    Also worth a look for the full picture
    • Event Report - Oracle PaaS Event - 6 PaaS Services become available, many more announced - read here
    • Progress Report - Oracle Cloud makes progress - but key work remains in the cellar - read here
    • News Analysis - Oracle discovers the power of the two socket server - or: A pivot that wasn't one - TCO still rules - read here
    • Market Move - Oracle buys Datalogix - moves more into DaaS - read here
    • Event Report - Oracle Openworld - Oracle's vision and remaining work become clear - they are both big - read here
    • Constellation Research Video Takeaways of Oracle Openworld 2014 - watch here
    • Is it all coming together for Oracle in 2014? Read here
    • From the fences - Oracle AR Meeting takeaways - read here (this was the last analyst meeting in spring 2013)
    • Takeaways from Oracle CloudWorld LA - read here (this was one of the first cloud world events overall, in January 2013)

    And if you want to read more of my findings on Oracle technology - I suggest:

    • Progress Report - Good cloud progress at Oracle and a two step program - read here.
    • Oracle integrates products to create its Foundation for Cloud Applications - read here.
    • Java grows up to the enterprise - read here.
    • 1st take - Oracle in memory option for its database - very organic - read here.
    • Oracle 12c makes the database elastic - read here.
    • How the cloud can make the unlikeliest bedfellows - read here.
    • Act I - Oracle and Microsoft partner for the cloud - read here.
    • Act II - The cloud changes everything - Oracle and Salesforce.com - read here.
    • Act III - The cloud changes everything - Oracle and Netsuite with a touch of Deloitte - read here

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

    More on Oracle:

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    We had the opportunity to attend the partner kickoff meeting of CenturyLink, Ascend, held in San Diego from February 22nd to 24th. The event was well attended with a large number of partners present, both from traditional CenturyLink partners and newer kind of partners (see below).

    So take a look at my musings on the event here: (if the video doesn’t show up, check here)



    No time to watch – here is the 1-2 slide condensation (if the slide doesn’t show up, check here):





    Want to read on? 

    Here you go: Always tough to pick the takeaways – but here are my Top 3:

    From DCs to Software and Services– CenturyLink has already since some time communicated the shift from owning and operating data centers to a more software and services oriented future business. This Ascend conference was all about getting the partners ready for that new future, where they don’t sell traditional ‘stovepipe’ – all things CenturyLink, but a CenturyLink service that spans across multiple cloud / IaaS providers. CenturyLink even previewed and talked about the just yesterday officially release Cloud Application Manager (see press release here). It also means CenturyLink needs partners in new categories, e.g. the vendor announced a new Software Alliances Program. 

    "Monster Fire" side chat with Douglas and Corbin


    Partners Wanted– CenturyLink (like all providers in the space) has relied on partners, but needs them even more with the new go to market offerings: It needs to understand applications better when positioning Cloud Application Manager, that takes time and requires a thorough understanding of what enterprises run, something that takes time and partners usually have that know how already. With the ‘carrot’ of cloud optimization becoming possibly real, it is also key for partners to understand that rival IaaS offerings of the past are the new partners of the future. 

    The new CenturyLink Software Alliance Program


    Big opportunity for partners– CenturyLink is offering a very different value proposition to its partners, who have to understand what CenturyLink now offers and then chart their strategy. Not an easy change, but doable. Easier to, as it is a change for the better, as workload portability, IaaS agnostic capabilities and multi cloud are highly desirable qualities that enterprises seek for their cloud deployments.

     
    MultiCloud panel with Patel (VMware), Bosserman (Azure),
    Shacochis (CenturyLink) and yours truly

    MyPOV

    A good partner kickoff for CenturyLink, that not only has a new value proposition for partners, but a mostly new partner / channel management team, that had to be introduced to the partners, share its ideas and vision going forward. CenturyLink did well on all accounts, as well as you can do when you have new leaders taking partners to terra incognita. Terra firma in these regards is CenturyLink’s networking offerings, which offer the opportunity to differentiate vendor and offering compare to other vendors who have made a switch to services and multi cloud.

    On the concern side, this is quite a transformation for both CenturyLink and its partner ecosystem, and while doable, needs to be successfully executed. The key new product, Cloud Application Manager is a new product and must prove itself and gain partner trusty. Customer show cases, case studies, road shows etc. are the tools in the arsenal to have partners gain trust in a new direction. Pricing has to be right, wasn’t shared but we are pretty certain CenturyLink will get that right.

    So, it’s a new approach and strategy of CenturyLink, that was telegraphed earlier, but now taking shape in the real world of 2017. Partners are still orienting themselves. Now real revenues and real customers on a new product and service offering have to follow - we will be watching. Stay tuned. 


    Want to learn more? Checkout the Storify collection below (if it doesn’t show up – check here).



    More Cloud related blog posts:

    • Q4 2016 NextGen Apps Developments & Trends Shootout - read here
    • New Analysis - AWS has now data centers in Canada. Or is it data centres? Speaks "Canadian" now. - read here
    • Event Report - AWS reInvent 2016 - Growth at full speed - read here
    •  News Analysis - New IBM Bluemix Services Help Organizations Accelerate Data Migration to the Cloud - read here
    • News Analysis - Microsoft announces SAP's choice of Azure to help enterprises transform HR - The SaaS land grab is on - read here
    • NewsAnalysis - VMware has found AWS as its public cloud IaaS - read here
    • Event Report - Cloud Foundry Summit Europe - Europe & Cloud - A long path - read here
    • Event report - AWS Enterprise Summit 2016 Frankfurt - The German Road to Cloud adoption is ... long - read here
    • Event Report - Google I/O 2016 - Android N soon, Google assistant sooner and VR / AR later - read here
    • Event Report - OpenStack Summit 2016 - Austin - OpenStack matures - read here
    • Event Report - Microsoft Build 2016 - A platform vision and plenty of tools for next generation applications - read here
    • Event Report – Google Google Cloud Platform Next – Key Offerings for (some of) the enterprise - read here


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

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    We had the opportunity to attend Pitney Bowes Tech Analyst meeting held at the Ritz Carlton in Half Moon Bay, February 28th and March 1st 2017. The event was well attended with close to 30 analysts, many from oversees, in attendance.



    So take a look at my musings on the event here: (if the video doesn’t show up, check here)




    No time to watch – here is the 1-2 slide condensation (if the slide doesn’t show up, check here):





    Want to read on? 

    Here you go: Always tough to pick the takeaways – but here are my Top ones:

    Pitney Bowes goes beyond the mailroom– If Pitney Bowes wanted to make one thing clear, they certainly succeeded: It’s no longer the mailroom automation vendor, but a sizeable software vendor that has the magical 1B US$ in sales in the cross hairs. 


    Pitney Bowes Constellation Research Holger Mueller
    Pitney Bowes Growth Potential


    Data, Identity, Location, Communicate– Next to its ecommerce business, which is roughly half of the Pitney Bowes’ software portfolio, three major areas of activity were shared: Underpinning all with data, Pitney Bowes has an Identity. Location and Communication portfolio. We looked at the letter, focused primarily to customer engagement through modern interactions, most prominently video with the EngageOne product. Overall the focus on 4 product areas makes sense, the company has recovered from the over 80+ acquisition spree that was going on from 2002 till 2008. 


     
    Pitney Bowes Constellation Research Holger Mueller
    Software Direction and Portfolio


    Wanted – a category– It’s always hard for vendors when they don’t stick into traditional categories, usually based on how enterprise buy, license and subscribe to software. In Pitney Bowes case, the vendor is partially responsible for the dilemma, as it doesn’t want to play in some categories: E.g. Pitney Bowes acquired MapInfo about 10 years ago – but we never heard an utter of “GIS” as a category. Some products are also hard to categorize, as they are working as APIs or standalone modules (e.g. Checkout) or are services (e.g. Pitney Bowes can act as merchant of record to enable borderless commerce).


    Pitney Bowes Constellation Research Holger Mueller
    Expanding Footprint


    Partners needed for DaaS / API Economy
    – Pitney Bowers has realized it needs partners as force multipliers to be successful with its data and API centric approach. And it certainly has shown partner traction – but still must sign up approximately 50% more partners this year. If the conventional partners can give Pitney Bowes that multiplier will be an interesting aspect to be seen. Getting closer to where people use data / APIs would also be a good alley to explore, so developer outreach / evangelism maybe a chapter in the strategy book to consider.

    MyPOV

    A good analyst meeting, that at times stayed too high level, but made abundantly clear that it is not your grandfathers Pitney Bowers and that the company is committed to grow its software business. The four product areas are in good hands and the vendor has well working Indian developer organization, an asset not too many software vendors have. It also has a cash flow generating, but shrinking traditional business that allows it to invest in product and go to market, a good setup for a software business, that is traditionally cash hungry in its early phases. Finally Pitney Bowes executives were more than willing to learn, improve and get feedback, always a good strategy for an analyst day, that was operationally flawless.

    On the concern side Pitney Bowes is in unchartered waters when it comes to the business model of its software portfolio. While vendors have figured out to make a living from data (e.g. Nielsen, IMS, Dun & Bradstreet etc.) – no vendor has created a billion and more business on the base of APIs. And while there is no technological discussion that APIs are the way how software will be offered and consumed going forward, the business model, monetization model outside the traditional transactional APIs (e.g. orders, invoices, paychecks) has not been established. And Pitney Bowes needs to grow the software business faster than its traditional mailroom related business shrinks.

    A vendor under transformation, making good progress and certainly to watch, we will keep analyzing.


    Want to learn more? Checkout the Storify collection below (if it doesn’t show up – check here).


    More NextGenApps related blog posts:
    • Q4 2016 NextGen Apps Developments & Trends Shootout - read here
    • New Analysis - AWS has now data centers in Canada. Or is it data centres? Speaks "Canadian" now. - read here
    • Event Report - AWS reInvent 2016 - Growth at full speed - read here
    •  News Analysis - New IBM Bluemix Services Help Organizations Accelerate Data Migration to the Cloud - read here
    • News Analysis - Microsoft announces SAP's choice of Azure to help enterprises transform HR - The SaaS land grab is on - read here
    • NewsAnalysis - VMware has found AWS as its public cloud IaaS - read here
    • Event Report - Cloud Foundry Summit Europe - Europe & Cloud - A long path - read here
    • Event report - AWS Enterprise Summit 2016 Frankfurt - The German Road to Cloud adoption is ... long - read here
    • Event Report - Google I/O 2016 - Android N soon, Google assistant sooner and VR / AR later - read here
    • Event Report - OpenStack Summit 2016 - Austin - OpenStack matures - read here
    • Event Report - Microsoft Build 2016 - A platform vision and plenty of tools for next generation applications - read here
    • Event Report – Google Google Cloud Platform Next – Key Offerings for (some of) the enterprise - read here


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


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    We had the opportunity to attend Google’s Google Next conference, happening in San Francisco from March 7th till 11th at Moscone West. San Francisco ‘dressed’ up in Google Next colors already way ahead of the event, it was clear that this would be a much bigger event than last year’s Google Cloud Platform event. And a difference it was, also aided by the combination of Google Cloud and GSuite, the number of analysts jumped from 20 or so to estimated 80+. No official attendee numbers, with a lot of Googlers lining up to attend, too, my estimate is well over 2000, when all are counted. 



    So take a look at my musings on the event here: (if the video doesn’t show up, check here)




    No time to watch – here is the 1-2 slide condensation (if the slide doesn’t show up, check here):




    Want to read on? 

    Here you go: Always tough to pick the takeaways – but here are my Top 3:

    Google Next 2017 Holger Mueller Event Report Constellation Research SAP HANA Schmidt Greene Leukert
    Schmidt shares his 3 step program for moving to the cloud

    Google is serious about Enterprise– It was already clear from the hiring of Greene and last year’s event. But it’s one thing to say it and then to deliver on it. Greene shared that the division is the fastest growing in headcount with over 1000 new hires, Schmidt shared today that over time Google has invested 30B+ US$ into the cloud infrastructure. As Greene shared earlier the ‘business’ things are easy – the basic ‘blocking and tackling’ – but it still needs to be executed. So Google for the first time had a partner event with the conference and showed it has attracted interest from all the large SIs. It’s a lot of progress on the partner numbers, but a totally different ball game than with the other two key players. It was also good to have more enterprise customers on stage, talking to Greene on different carefully selected use cases – Disney for an ‘All in’, HSBC for a data warehouse decommission an move to cloud, Home Depot as a website / commerce reference and eBay as an enterprise showcase for an inhouse built next gen app – a Google Home powered eBay application. 

    Google Next 2017 Holger Mueller Event Report Constellation Research SAP HANA Schmidt Greene Leukert
    Greene talks Google Cloud


    Machine Learning remains the carrot – Not surprisingly, Machine Learning remains the core attraction for Google Cloud. Disney’s CTO clearly labelled it as the reason why Disney is building apps on Google Cloud. Newly minted head of AI / Machine Learning Fei Fei Li shared the visions and unveiled (next to the Cloud Speech, Vision, Translate and Natural Language APIs) the new Video Intelligence API. No surprise given YouTube is part of Alphabet, but very powerful to index and find things in video, e.g. all the beach scenes in your vacation videos. Can’t wait for it to come to Google Photos. Or find out how many of my videos where in cars, at airports or somewhere else. But the key announcement – with long term impact – is Google’s acquisition of Kaggle, the analytics, machine learning, AI community, famous for its competitions. A key acquisition that could – if well executed – further bolster the Machine Learning / AI leadership of Google: It’s not enough to have great software capabilities, you also need to educate people about them and win their hearts and minds as a community. The strategy is clear here, now Google will have to show that it can create, foster a vendor independent ecosystem around Machine Learning. 

    Google Next 2017 Holger Mueller Event Report Constellation Research SAP HANA Schmidt Greene Leukert
    Google'e Fei Fei Li announces the Kaggle acquisition


    Google gets SAP HANA
    – The major news in regards of ‘meeting the enterprise, where the enterprise is’ (the slogan from last year) was that SAP HANA is now certified on Google Cloud. Leukert was there to unveil the news with Greene, certainly a good move, that shows SAP’s multi vendor cloud strategy. You can / will be able to run SAP products on all three major IaaS. The SAP Hana Express developer product is available, too, with SAP Cloud platform coming later. And when Colgate came on stage, it was clear that SAP to GSuite integration is also on the roadmap. More options for SAP customers is a good development, it may make it easier for SAP to sell more HANA going forward. And Google gets load for Google Cloud. The usual ‘SaaS vendor picks IaaS’ move. The only downside: SAP is working hard to get its customers to HANA – so it is not the bulk of the current load where SAP customers are from an on premises install base. That would be SAP customers running mySAP ERP etc. – mostly on Oracle. 

    Google Next 2017 Holger Mueller Event Report Constellation Research SAP HANA Schmidt Greene Leukert
    Google's Greene and SAP's Leukert on SAP HANA coming to GCP


    MyPOV

    A lot of good progress from Google on the Google products for the enterprise, both Cloud and GSuite. The conference has only started – so more is going to come for both products in the days to come. The Google Enterprise team is working hard, no doubt and has made progress in the last 12 months with partners, support and create more unique offerings e.g. the site reliability engineer for customers, a start up program etc. etc.

    On the concern side, it is not clear if this will be enough, I asked the Greene leadership team on what they will do to catchup from ‘Bronze to Gold’ and they all came up with good and plausible answers (check out my Storify of the analyst event here). But in a year where we may see VMware running on AWS and Oracle making its cloud work first time – this may not be enough for Google to get on premises load of scale. So it all comes back to the speed of Google being able to attract enterprise load for the next few years, and the speed of the enterprise moving to cloud.

    In the meantime, when enterprises have to build new software, the Google capabilities are very attractive for the next generation application use cases the 21st century demands. So in the short run this could well mean that Google can attract more next generation application use cases than attract traditional enterprise IT loads. We will be watching, stay tuned.

    Want to learn more? Checkout the Storify collection below (if it doesn’t show up – check here). And if interested in the Analyst Summit from Tuesday this week - there is a Storify collection here.




    More about Google:
    • New Analysis – Google enables citizen developers and developers with Google App Maker - read here
    • First Take - Google enters enterprise software space with Google Jobs API - read here
    • Event Report - Google I/O 2016 - Android N soon, Google assistant sooner and VR / AR later - read here
    • First Take - Google Google I/O 2016 - Day #1 Keynote - Enterprise Takeaways - read here
    • Event Preview - Google's Google I/O 2016 - read here
    • Event Report – Google Google Cloud Platform Next – Key Offerings for (some of) the enterprise - read here
    • First Take - Google Cloud Platform - Takeaways Day #1 Keynote - read here
    • News Analysis - Google launches Cloud Dataproc - read here
    • Musings - Google re-organizes - will it be about Alpha or Alphabet Soup? Read here
    • Event Report - Google I/O - Google wants developers to first & foremost build more Android apps - read here
    • First Take - Google I/O Day #1 Keynote - it is all about Android - read here
    • News Analysis - Google does it again (lower prices for Google Cloud Platform), enterprises take notice - read here
    • News Analyse - Google I/O Takeaways Value Propositions for the enterprise - read here 
    • Google gets serious about the cloud and it is different - read here
    • A tale of two clouds - Google and HP - read here
    • Why Google acquired Talaria - efficiency matters - read here

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

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    The Cloud / IaaS industry has grown rapidly in the last years, and providers have been solidifying their systems over the years. Outages are always unfortunate and by large the cloud has shown that it is more resilient than pretty much any on premises computing setup. Nonetheless outages happen – and we are adding a new blog post type for these events – the “Down Report” – where we plan to dissect and rate what has gone wrong, and especially focus on the lessons learnt for the provider affected, the industry, but most importantly for their customers. 



    To make the effort a little more fun – we assign ‘Cloud Load Toads” to the overall event and each circumstance. We mean no disrespect to the ‘load toads’ that work valiantly in the worlds air forces, but liked the suggestion of our colleague Alan Lepofsky (@alanlepo), who came up with the term ‘Cloud Load Toad”.



    On the ‘Cloud Load Toad’ scala that goes from 1 (bad but ok, can happen) to 5 (very bad, should never ever happen) we rate the severity off the event overall and the events that lead to it.

    AWS S3 Down in US-EAST-1

    First of all, kudos to AWS, who published the post mortem post (see here) in about 48 hour past the event, faster than usual, judging from other downtime events in the past. But then each cloud outage is different, the root cause – manual error – is easier to establish than e.g. trouble shooting a battery fire, that destroys its very evidence (think Samsung).

    But let’s dissect the post mortem report:

    We’d like to give you some additional information about the service disruption that occurred in the Northern Virginia (US-EAST-1) Region on the morning of February 28th. The Amazon Simple Storage Service (S3) team was debugging an issue causing the S3 billing system to progress more slowly than expected.

    MyPOV – Certainly production and billing systems need to be connected, and in many scenarios the production system can create issues with the load triggered for the billing system. But a production system should never be able to be stopped by an administrative system, like a billing system. Production should be kept running, billing can be worried about later. It is likely that the S3 billing system (my speculation, but keep reading) is using S3, too – creating a potential recursive dependency. Needless to say – these systems should be isolated. 
    Rating: 3 Cloud Load Toads



    At 9:37AM PST, an authorized S3 team member using an established playbook executed a command which was intended to remove a small number of servers for one of the S3 subsystems that is used by the S3 billing process.

    MyPOV – Related to above, obvious that the billing system is also using S3 now. Good to drink your own champagne, but when it goes bad because of a mistake by the champagne maker – never good and not only the customers but the champagne maker gets food poisoning – not what you want to have happen. But humans can make mistakes.

    Unfortunately, one of the inputs to the command was entered incorrectly and a larger set of servers was removed than intended. The servers that were inadvertently removed supported two other S3 subsystems. One of these subsystems, the index subsystem, manages the metadata and location information of all S3 objects in the region. This subsystem is necessary to serve all GET, LIST, PUT, and DELETE requests. The second subsystem, the placement subsystem, manages allocation of new storage and requires the index subsystem to be functioning properly to correctly operate. The placement subsystem is used during PUT requests to allocate storage for new objects. Removing a significant portion of the capacity caused each of these systems to require a full restart. While these subsystems were being restarted, S3 was unable to service requests.

    MyPOV – Kudos to AWS for transparency. But any attendee to its reInvent user conference knows how much the vendor prides itself of not letting humans make mistakes, but putting key / vital processes into code. Certainly, the approach and philosophy wasn’t followed here. Would be good to chat with AWS CTO Werner Vogels about this one… I am sure that enough people in Seattle are pondering that in the future typos, manual human error should not take systems down. Of course, we still need a kill switch for the humans… 
    Rating: 4 Cloud Load Toads.



    Other AWS services in the US-EAST-1 Region that rely on S3 for storage, including the S3 console, Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) new instance launches, Amazon Elastic Block Store (EBS) volumes (when data was needed from a S3 snapshot), and AWS Lambda were also impacted while the S3 APIs were unavailable.

    MyPOV – AWS suggests to write critical processes to span across regions. Its own website – amazon.com and subsidiary zappos.com did not go down, and were probably coded correctly. The question is (and sorry if I have not read the fine print) – could an AWS client still use the US-EAST-1 services like EC2, EBS, AWS Lambda etc. if pointed to other S3 stores – or does an S3 failure take the whole region out? This is a deeply critical issue for any IaaS techstack in a IaaS data center. So, did customers have a chance here? A question to follow up with AWS. Not Rated.



    S3 subsystems are designed to support the removal or failure of significant capacity with little or no customer impact. We build our systems with the assumption that things will occasionally fail, and we rely on the ability to remove and replace capacity as one of our core operational processes. While this is an operation that we have relied on to maintain our systems since the launch of S3, we have not completely restarted the index subsystem or the placement subsystem in our larger regions for many years. S3 has experienced massive growth over the last several years and the process of restarting these services and running the necessary safety checks to validate the integrity of the metadata took longer than expected. The index subsystem was the first of the two affected subsystems that needed to be restarted. By 12:26PM PST, the index subsystem had activated enough capacity to begin servicing S3 GET, LIST, and DELETE requests. By 1:18PM PST, the index subsystem was fully recovered and GET, LIST, and DELETE APIs were functioning normally. The S3 PUT API also required the placement subsystem. The placement subsystem began recovery when the index subsystem was functional and finished recovery at 1:54PM PST. At this point, S3 was operating normally. Other AWS services that were impacted by this event began recovering. Some of these services had accumulated a backlog of work during the S3 disruption and required additional time to fully recover.

    MyPOV – AWS describes well that things break all the time, and they can even go down. But IaaS providers need to be certain they can come back up, and part of that coming back is also to understand how long it will take to come back up. S3 has been very popular, so the harder to take it down, test (or simulate) time for it to come back, but certainly something AWS could and should have done and known. When you run IT, and don’t know when a system that is down will come back up more or less for sure, the IT professionals are in a bad spot. 
    Rating: 4 Cloud Load Toads



    We are making several changes as a result of this operational event. While removal of capacity is a key operational practice, in this instance, the tool used allowed too much capacity to be removed too quickly. We have modified this tool to remove capacity more slowly and added safeguards to prevent capacity from being removed when it will take any subsystem below its minimum required capacity level. This will prevent an incorrect input from triggering a similar event in the future.

    MyPOV – This section read like there was a software tool – but it malfunctioned. That of course is not good. Granted hard to simulate and test with systems of this scale – but not a good enough answer. 
    Rating: 3 Cloud Load Toads

    We are also auditing our other operational tools to ensure we have similar safety checks. We will also make changes to improve the recovery time of key S3 subsystems. We employ multiple techniques to allow our services to recover from any failure quickly. One of the most important involves breaking services into small partitions which we call cells. By factoring services into cells, engineering teams can assess and thoroughly test recovery processes of even the largest service or subsystem. As S3 has scaled, the team has done considerable work to refactor parts of the service into smaller cells to reduce blast radius and improve recovery. During this event, the recovery time of the index subsystem still took longer than we expected. The S3 team had planned further partitioning of the index subsystem later this year. We are reprioritizing that work to begin immediately.

    MyPOV – Kudos to AWS for transparency, explaining that it has a solution and committing to get better going forward. School book response that all vendors with an outage should share – not all have.



    From the beginning of this event until 11:37AM PST, we were unable to update the individual services’ status on the AWS Service Health Dashboard (SHD) because of a dependency the SHD administration console has on Amazon S3. Instead, we used the AWS Twitter feed (@AWSCloud) and SHD banner text to communicate status until we were able to update the individual services’ status on the SHD. We understand that the SHD provides important visibility to our customers during operational events and we have changed the SHD administration console to run across multiple AWS regions.

    MyPOV – This is probably the worst finding, a too optimistic implementation of the key dashboard on AWS overall status. It should never have a single point of failure, but yet we see this happening over and over in outages. Vendors need to learn not to rely on their services to communicate with clients in an outage situation – as they may not be able to respond, a cardinal mistake (see e.g. for another outage issue here)... but yet vendors keep doing so. 
    Rating: 5 Cloud Load Toads




    Finally, we want to apologize for the impact this event caused for our customers. While we are proud of our long track record of availability with Amazon S3, we know how critical this service is to our customers, their applications and end users, and their businesses. We will do everything we can to learn from this event and use it to improve our availability even further.

    MyPOV – Kudos for acknowledging and owning the issue. No blame game and scape goating (that is often seen here too, the most common scape goat being the network / network provider).


    A pretty severe event

    When doing the tally across the cloud load toads, assuming I did the math right - then I count 19 total toads, across 5 events - bringing the event to 3.8 cloud load toads. I am sure AWS will be the first to agree that this wasn't an insignificant event. But let's look at the lessons learnt. But customers could have coded their loads to avoid the down time.



    Lessons for IaaS Customers

    Here are the key aspects for customers to learn from the AWS S3 outage:

    Have you built for resilience? Sure, it costs, but all major IaaS providers offer strategies on how to avoid single location / data center failures. Way too many prominent internet properties did not chose to do so – so if ‘born on the web’ properties miss this – its key to check regular enterprises do not miss this. Uptime has a price, make it a rational decision, now is a good time to get budget / investment approved, when warranted and needed.

    Ask your IaaS vendor a few questions: Enterprises should not be shy to ask IaaS providers if they have done a few things:
    • Do your run your systems by hand or with software
       
    • Could the same issue that happened with AWS S3 in US-EAST-1 happen to you?
       
    • How do you test your operational software?
       
    • When have you taken your most popular services down last time?
       
    • What is the expected up time of your most popular services?
       
    • When did your produce that test of expected up time last and how has the system usage increased since then?
       
    • How can we code for resilience – and what does it cost?
       
    • What kind of renumeration / payment / cost relief can be expected with a downtime?
       
    • What single point of failure should we be aware of?
       
    • How are your operation consoles built?
       
    • How do you communicate in a downtime situation with customers?
       
    • How often and when do you refresh your older datacenters, servers?
       
    • How often have your reviewed and improved your operational procedures in the last 12 months? Give us a few examples how you have increased resilience.


    And some key internal questions, customers of IaaS vendors have to ask themselves:
    • What are your customer / employee communication tools?
       
    • When your IaaS vendor goes down, so may your customer and employee facing apps. How do you communicate then?
       
    • Make sure to learn from AWS mistake – do not rely on the same point of failure / architecture as the production systems – as it will not be available. Simple, but always good to check and better even monitor. 


    MyPOV

    Outages are always unfortunate. The key thing is to learn from them, knowing AWS they will be ruthless to address issues (and hopefully update customers and analysts on status progress). Kudos for a fast past mortem, taking responsibility and sharing first strategies to avoid another occurrence. And AWS already has made customers available to teach other customers on how to use AWS inbuilt HA methods (e.g. CloudFront) to avoid major impact from down times like what happened to S3 in this case. 

    On the concern side AWS needs to ask itself how it recycles and reviews architecture and servers. US-EAST is a behemoth that is nonetheless popular, but may need more rejuvenation than AWS may expect / have planned. In the cloud location monopoly race it is possible that vendors might stretch aging infrastructure beyond the breaking point. Of course, afterwards it is easy to armchair everything, but this remains an area to watch.

    Overall hopefully plenty of lessons learnt all around, for AWS, other IaaS providers and customers.


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



    More on AWS:
    • New Analysis - AWS has now data centers in Canada. Or is it data centres? Speaks "Canadian" now. - Read here
    • Event Report - AWS reInvent 2016 - Growth at full speed - read here
    • First Take - AWS reInvent - 1st Keynote - AWS enters the hardware business - and much more - read here
    • News Analysis - VMware has found AWS as its public cloud IaaS  - read here
    • First Take - SAP BW/4HANA - Data Gravity and Cloud win - read here
    • Event report - AWS Enterprise Summit 2016 Frankfurt - The German Road to Cloud adoption is ... long - read here
    • News Analysis - Amazon Web Services Cloud now speaks… Hindi - Indian AWS Data Centers available - read here
    • News Analysis - Salesforce selects AWS as preferred Public Cloud Infrastructure Provider - Good move - read here
    • Event Report - AWS re-Invent - AWS lobbies for the enterprise - DB and IoT are the cheese - read here
    • First Take - AWS reInvent Wednesday Keynote - Good start & AWS is going for the enterprise read here
    • Event Preview - AWS re-Invent 2015 - watch / read here
    • Event Report - AWS Summit Berlin - AWS spricht Deutsch - but when will the Germans speak cloud? Read here
    • News Analysis - AWS learns Hindi - Amazon Web Services announces 2016 India Expansion - read here
    • Event Report - AWS Summit San Francisco - AWS pushes the platform with Analytics and Storage [From the Fences] read here
    • Event Report - AWS re:invent - AWS becomes more about PaaS on inhouse IP - read here
    • AWS gives infrastructure insights - and it is very passionate about it - read here
    • News Analysis - AWS spricht Deutsch - the cloud wars reach Germany - read here
    • Market Move - Infor runs CloudSuite on AWS - Inflection Point or hot air balloon? Read here
    • Event Report - AWS Summit in SFO - AWS keeps doing what has been working in the last 8 years - read here
    • AWS  moves the yardstick - Day 2 reinvent takeaways - read here.
    • AWS powers on, into new markets - Day 1 reinvent takeaways - read here.
    • The Cloud is growing up - three signs in the News - read here.
    • Amazon AWS powers on - read here.
    Find more coverage on the Constellation Research website here and checkout my magazine on Flipboard and my YouTube channel here.

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    We had the opportunity to attend the WorkForce Software Vision 2017 user conference held in New Orleans from March 13th till 15th 2017. The even was well attended with over 260 attendees, managing a collective 500k employees. 




    Here is my event video of the event:




    No time to watch – here is the 1 slide update:






    If you want more details – read on:

    Focus on Product and more– Always good to see vendors focusing on product, in the case of WorkForce Software, CEO Morini shared that the vendor will add 80 more developers. For a 600 employee company a substantial investment. Likewise WorkForce Software has shown progress on the partner side (more large SIs are on board), it appears the reseller relationship with SAP is going well, and lastly the vendor unveiled a new implementation methodology to help customers go live quicker.


     
    Workforce Software Constellation Research Holger Mueller
    Morini introduces the connected Workforce


    Roadmap Transparency– In the past WorkForce (like many other HCM vendors) was not a poster child for transparency, luckily for customers, this has changed. And WorkForce shared a three year roadmap, with the usual caveats, but quite a difference to what was shared two years ago (the last user conference I was able to attend). No surprise – unification is a key theme across the coming release, with some vertical capabilities and most importantly a much needed UI improvement. 


     
    Workforce Software Constellation Research Holger Mueller
    WorkForce Software 2016 in review


    Hard work – will it be enough?– No question WorkForce has made a lot of progress, but the question remains, can the vendor catchup with the 800 pound gorilla of the industry, Kronos. In general the speed of vendors in WorkForce Management is increasing, with a strong focus on innovation, so WorkForce’s task is not getting easier. But plenty of room to differentiate, but the vendor now needs to get accelerate in delivery across the board, hence the blog post title.


    Workforce Software Constellation Research Holger Mueller
    Broady opens WorkForce Vision 2017

    MyPOV 


    Good progress by the new WorkForce Software management team, no doubt. With more investment into product, focus on implementation speed, more partners, successful reseller relationships, and more – the vendor is executing the right strategies. Now they have to materialize and make a difference in the near future.

    On the concern side, WorkForce Software has to bring together multiple platform at different levels, from architecture, data centers all the way to UI. And it needs to deliver the next generation of its product, taking advantage of cloud, microservices etc. and for all the talk on engagement, it must improve its user experience. The days of clumsy screens for power users are counted. To be fair, the vendor has realized that and plans a UI overhaul, architecture change and other improvements. 

    If it all will be enough to change the distance to the market leader, it is too early to tell, with no doubt WorkForce Software has positioned itself much better than where the vendor was a few years ago. We will have to check in again, stay tuned




    More on WorkForce Software:


    • News Analysis - WorkForce Software Announces Global Reseller Agreement with SAP - read here
    • Progress Report - WorkForce Software powers into more Workforce Management - but needs to watch the Fundamentals - read here



    More on Workforce Management:


    • Event Report - Kronos KronosWorks - Solid progress and big things loom - read here
    • Progress Report - Ceridian makes good progress, the basics are done now its about next gen capabilities - read here
    • Event Report - Kronos KronosWorks - New Versions, new UX, more mobile - faster implementations - read here
    • Event Report - Ceridian Insights - Momentum and Differentiation Building - read here



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

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    We had the opportunity to attend ADP’s Meeting of the Mind (MOTM) conference in San Diego, held March 19th till 22nd 2017, and the Manchester Grand Hyatt. The conference was well attended with over 1000 attendees, good partner representation and influencer selection.

     


    So take a look at my musings on the event here: (if the video doesn’t show up, check here)




    No time to watch – here is the 1-2 slide condensation (if the slide doesn’t show up, check here):


    Want to read on? Always tough to pick the takeaways – but here are my Top 3:

    ADP has Momentum
    – For a long time it seemed as if ADP was stuck and not moving beyond payroll. 4-5 years ago it became clear this would be changing and we reported on the changes from different MOTM (2014, 2015, 2016). By now it is clear that the investments done into innovation centers, new platforms, a new user experience, BigData etc. are now paying off. 10 million users of ADP’s mobile app are telling a good adoption story, adding 300k per month is impressive growth. The number of Vantage clients is now North of 550. And the BigData investments around the ADP DataCloud are paying off as ADP can now launch products on top of the platform, like at this MOTM the ADP Pay Equity Explorer (see next).

    ADP Meeting of the Minds MOTM Holger Mueller Constellation Research
    Rodriguez shares ADP response to today's Workforce Challenges


    New Apps powered by ADP Data Cloud– Two years ago, ADP launched its BigData offering, the ADP DataCloud. The first focus was on not so flashy, but essential reporting needs for ADP customers. But by now ADP is using its in depth knowledge of payroll and salary data to build new applications. The newly launched Pay Equity Explorer allows the ad hoc analysis of payment disparity between e.g. gender and ethnicity. But not only the gap is identified, ADP can pull in performance data (when using ADP Talent Management products, but my assumption here) and market data. So HR professionals don’t have to spend nights and weekends to put a highlight and analysis on the issue of pay disparity, they can also correct the issue in a competent and efficient matter. A good example of the benefits vendors can create for their customers once they have moved to a BigData platform. 

    ADP Meeting of the Minds MOTM Holger Mueller Constellation Research
    Camby announces Pay Equity Explorer


    More Services Focus– ADP has always been about services, but comparing to the last 3 MOTMs there was more services messaging at MOTM this year – starting with CEO Rodriguez, President Flynn – all the way to product presentation with Ghauri. I asked all if something has changed, and all reiterated that not really – customers care about the services. We learnt that ADP is opening three more services centers, so certainly the vendor is doubling down in the direction. 

    ADP Meeting of the Minds MOTM Holger Mueller Constellation Research
    Demo of ADP Pay Equity Explorer


    The TMBC Opportunity– ADP (surprisingly) acquired The Markus Buckingham Company in January (see here for my commentary). Buckingham was at hand with a passionate keynote on addressing the performance management malaise in the overall client base with empowering the team leaders (no surprise – TMBC Standout was built for that). With TMBC Standout ADP has a unique talent management creature (from a product stand point perspective) – that it needs to position right in the crowded engagement, survey, performance management etc. market. It’s only two months, but a key area to watch, stay tuned. 

    ADP Meeting of the Minds MOTM Holger Mueller Constellation Research
    Buckingham on Performance


    MyPOV

    A good MOTM for ADP, moving in the right direction on many fronts. Customers are adopting new and old solutions quickly, an encouraging sign. No surprise the high ground for ADP remains around payroll – and related offerings – like the mobile application and pay disparity analysts which are / are going to be of high interest in the customer base. At the same time the adoption of these products propels customers to the new ADP platforms, so behind the scenes there is some heavy lifting happening, The fact that there is no noise and reports on any issues around these behind the scenes migrations, is a major accomplishment by ADP as a vendor, and of course of substantial value for its customers. The TMBC acquisition is a new opportunity for ADP for differentiation, but we have to stay tuned on how ADP will position Standout.

    On the concern side, ADP may not be moving fast enough. Payroll is super sticky, the average attendance at MOTM was 14 years, few vendors can show that. But ADP should move aggressively into domains like Machine Learning (it certainly can, given it has a BigData Cloud), it needs to innovate on user experienced (e.g. speech as the new UI) and sell more Talent Management to customers. To be fair I left MOTM on Monday, so stay tuned for more messages, announcements that may address these areas.

    But for now, life is good for ADP customers, what a difference 5 years can make. Stay tuned for what’s ahead.


    More on ADP

    • Event Report – ADP ReThink – Great event and great value coming for customers  - read here
    • News Analysis - ADP Acquires The Marcus Buckingham Company to Expand Talent Portfolio - read here
    • Progress Report - ADP Analyst Day 2016 - ADP has turned around Vantage HCM - read here
    • Event Report - Event Report - ADP MOTM - ADP delivers: New UI, Benchmarks, Market Place & More - read here
    • News Analysis - Workday and ADP partner to Deliver a Seamless Customer Experience for Global Payroll - read here
    • Progress Report - ADP Analyst Day - ADP executes, kills (most) ghosts from the past - read here
    • Event Report - ADP Meeting of the Minds - It’s all coming together for ADP in 2015 - product wise - read here
    • First Take - ADP Meeting of the Minds - Day #1 Keynote - read here
    • Progress Report - ADP shows great vision, delivers product innovation - now it needs adoption - read here
    • Site Visit - ADP's new innovation lab in Chelsea - read here
    • News Analysis - ADP announces Spin-Off plans for Dealer Services, sharpens ADP's focus on HCM - read here.
    • Event Report - ADP's Meeting of the Minds - ADP has made up its mind (almost) - customers not yet - read here.
    • First take - 3 Key Takeaways from ADP's Meeting of the Minds Conference Day 1 Keynote - read here.
    • ADP innovates with with verve and good timing – read here.

    Want to learn more? Checkout the Storify collection below (if it doesn’t show up – check here).

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

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    We had the opportunity to attend Ultimate Software’s yearly user conference, UltiConnect in Las Vegas, held March 20th till 24th 2017, at the Bellagio hotel. The conference was well attended with almost 2900 attendees, limited by fire marshal restrictions.




    So, take a look at my musings on the event here: (if the video doesn’t show up, check here)

     

    No time to watch – here is the 1-2 slide condensation (if the slide doesn’t show up, check here):



    Want to read on? 

    Here you go: Always tough to pick the takeaways – but here are my Top 3:

    Ultimate Software UltiConnect 2017 Holger Mueller Constellation Research
    Rogers, Hartshorne and UltiPro Learning


    Ultimate has momentum– At the risk that this is getting repetitive (see my last 4 event reports), Ultimate is showing momentum. With 600 customers go lives in 2016, the increase of 700+ more customer attendees’ year over year is remarkable, but less surprising. Go lives trigger product interest and attending the user conference is an effective use of time. With Ultimate offering free training for life, most customers and professionals also take advantage of the numerous training options. And then having Maroon 5 as the main act is certainly something popular for the target audience. It remains remarkable though how Ultimate produces these growth numbers, mostly recording customer growth in North America only. 


    Ultimate Software UltiConnect 2017 Holger Mueller Constellation Research
    Ultimate 2016 Highlights

    Xander, first out of the box AI offering among HCM vendors– Ultimate announced Xander, its AI offering, right now available for Ultimate Perceptions. Largely built on the Kanjoya acquisition and expertise. This is a good fit as Kanjoya was specialized on understanding unstructured data, something coming handy for the Perceptions products. But Ultimate did not stop there, in combination with the assets and expertise from the Vestrics acquisition and inhouse work, it has formulated and ambitions cross platform AI vision with Xander. And while we have to see what materializes later in the year for Xander, this marks the first formal launch of any major HCM vendor in the area of AI (if I missed one, let me know!). 


    Ultimate Software UltiConnect 2017 Holger Mueller Constellation Research
    Intro of Xander


    Broadest Product Push (ever?)!– Ultimate has traditionally spend a very high percentage of revenue in R&D, but it did not necessarily show in terms of product delivery speed and breadth. For the years I cover the vendor, it seemed more like a ‘sluggish’ pace, with a focus on a single new capabilities per year (see Recruiting, Onboarding etc.) and other housekeeping. One can only expect that R&D resources were nonetheless busy in years before, maybe laying the foundation of what is coming now – a broad push for new product and functionality. A new Learning product (we didn’t go into details, maybe in combination with Schoox), new native mobile products (garnered the most applause by the keynote audience), a new Time Management module, new Reporting capabilities, a new converged UX, a developer hub and finally Xander. A back of the napkin calculation makes this more functionality available and coming in 2017 than what Ultimate announced and made available in 2014, 2015 and 2016. So, congrats for newly found stride.

    MyPOV

    Always good to attend events from vendors that are doing well. Growth leads to other good things, and it is the best ingredient for a successful user conference. A remarkable amount of new capabilities is available or coming during 2017, with vast repercussions for customers in regards of solutions portfolio, e.g. in the areas of Time and Learning. It’s good to see that Ultimate is also addressing UX challenges that we have been hearing (and writing) about since a few years, it makes sense to start with mobile and then try to get a better user interface to the HR users (who not surprisingly are to a certain point ‘clinging’ to the old user interface).

    On the concern side, Ultimate R&D needs to deliver, and services and support teams and most importantly customers need to be ready to uptake and implement these new products and their capabilities. The industry as a collective has struggled to roll out analytical capabilities (predictive analytics mostly) past the HR departments, who on most cases, have set the bar too high, often depriving their enterprise and especially their people leaders from having an ability to make significantly better decisions. And on the commercial Ultimate should find a way to monetize R&D investment, as the rest of the industry does. That does not mean blowing up the price list, but charging for value. Too many ‘free’ capabilities can also be an issue for an enterprise’s HR team. But let’s see if this is a problem when we get there….

    But for now, congrats to Ultimate, which has put its product development efforts in high gear, first results already showing, and garnering the price for being the first major HCM vendor to announce and ship a first version of an AI platform. It will be key to monitor the progress. Stay tuned.

    Want to learn more? Checkout the Storify collection below (if it doesn’t show up – check here).




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

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    We continue our series of IaaS downtimes – and other availability issues, see our Down Report on the recent AWS downtime here.



    Kudos to Microsoft to share issue, impact, impact on customers, workaround, root cause mitigation and next steps on the Azure Status History (see here)


    So let’s dissect the information available in our customary style:
    RCA - Storage Availability in East US
    Summary of impact: Beginning at 22:19 UTC Mar 15 2017, due to a power event, a subset of customers using Storage in the East US region may have experienced errors and timeouts while accessing storage accounts or resources dependent upon the impacted Storage scale unit. As a part of standard monitoring, Azure engineering received alerts for availability drops for a single East US Storage scale unit. Additionally, data center facility teams received power supply failure alerts which were impacting a limited portion of the East US region. Facility teams engaged electrical engineers who were able to isolate the area of the incident and restored power to critical infrastructure and systems. Power was restored using safe power recovery procedures, one rack at time, to maintain data integrity. Infrastructure services started recovery around 0:42 UTC Mar 16 2017. 25% of impacted racks had been recovered at 02:53 UTC Mar 16 2017. Software Load Balancing (SLB) services were able to establish a quorum at 05:03 UTC Mar 16 2017. At that moment, approximately 90% of impacted racks were powered on successfully and recovered. Storage and all storage dependent services recovered successfully by 08:32 UTC Mar 16 2017. Azure team notified customers who had experienced residual impacts with Virtual Machines after mitigation to assist with recovery.

    MyPOV – Good summary of what happened, a power failure / power event. Good to see that customers were notified. Power events can always be tricky to recover, and it looks like Azure management erred on the side of caution bringing up services rack by rack and then adding services like SLB later. But the downtime for affected customers was long, best case – when in the first 25% of racks was almost four hours, and worst case 10 hours+. Remarkable it took Azure technicians 2 hours 20 or so minutes to get the power back. Microsoft needs to (and say it will) review power restore capabilities and find ways to bring storage back quicker. Luckily for customers and Microsoft this happened over night, with possibly lesser effect on customers… but that said we don’t know what kind of load was run on the infrastructure.

    Rating: 3 Cloud Load Toads



    Customer impact: A subset of customers using Storage in the East US region may have experienced errors and timeouts while accessing their storage account in a single Storage scale unit. Virtual Machines with VHDs hosted in this scale unit shutdown as expected during this incident and had to restart at recovery. Customers may have also experienced the following:
    - Azure SQL Database: approx. 1.5% customers in East US region may have seen failures while accessing SQL Database.
    - Azure Redis Cache: approx. 5% of the caches in this region experienced availability loss.
    - Event Hub: approx. 1.1% of customers in East US region have experienced intermittent unavailability.
    - Service Bus: this incident affected the Premium SKU of Service Bus messaging service. 0.8% of Service Bus premium messaging resources (queues, topics) in the East US region were intermittently unavailable.
    - Azure Search: approx. 9 % of customers in East US region have experienced unavailability. We are working on making Azure Search services to be resilient to help continue serving without interruptions at this sort of incident in future.
    - Azure Site Recovery: approx. 1% of customers in East US region have experienced that their Site Recovery jobs were stuck in restarting state and eventually failed. Azure Site Recovery engineering started these jobs manually after the incident mitigation.
    - Azure Backup: Backup operation would have failed during the incident, after the mitigation the next cycle of backup for their Virtual Machine(s) will start automatically at the scheduled time.

    MyPOV – Kudos for Microsoft to give insight into the percentage of customers affected. It looks like Azure Storage units are using mixed load – across Azure services. That has pros and cons, e.g. co-location of customer data, mixed averaged load profiles – but also means that a lot of services are affected when a storage unit goes down.

    Rating 2 Cloud Load Toads




    Workaround: Virtual Machines using Managed Disks in an Availability Set would have maintained availability during this incident. For further information around Managed Disks, please visit the following sites. For Managed Disks Overview, please visit https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/azure/storage/storage-managed-disks-overview. For information around how to migrate to Managed Disks, please visit: https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/azure/virtual-machines/virtual-machines-windows-migrate-to-managed-disks.
    - Azure Redis Cache: although caches are region sensitive for latency and throughput, pointing applications to Redis Cache in another region could have provided business continuity.
    - Azure SQL database: customers who had SQL Database configured with active geo-replication could have reduced downtime by performing failover to geo-secondary. This would have caused a loss of less than 5 seconds of transactions. Another workaround is to perform a geo-restore, with loss of less than 5 minutes of transactions. Please visit https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/documentation/articles/sql-database-business-continuity/ for more information on these capabilities.

    MyPOV – Good to see Microsoft explaining how customers could have avoided the downtime. But the Managed Disk option only applies VMs affected by the storage. Good to see the Redis Cache option – the question is though, how efficient (and costly) that would have been. Cache synching is chatty and therefore expensive. More importantly good to see the Azure SQL option, that is key for any transactional database system that needs higher availability. Again enterprise will have to balance cost benefits.

    More of concern is that the other 4 services affected by the outage seem to have no Azure provided workaround, in case customers needed and would decide implement (and pay for one). No work around for Event Hub and Service Bus would not be a good situation, especially since event and bus infrastructures are used to make systems more resilient. Azure Search seems to lack a workaround, too, affecting customers using those services. It’s not clear what the statistic means though: Was Search itself not available or could the information of the affected storage units not be searched. Important distinction. The Azure Site Recovery affected isn’t good either, but kudos for Microsoft to start those manually. But manual starts can only be a workaround, as they don’t scale, e.g. in a greater outage. The failure of Azure Backup is probably the least severe, but in case of power failures, which may not be contained and might cascade, of equal substantial severity, as customers loose backup capability to protect them from potential further outages.

    Rating: 2 cloud load toads (with workaround would be 1 / with no workaround 3 – the maximum, as we don’t have full clarity here, we use 3 as the average).


    Root cause and mitigation: Initial investigation revealed that one of the redundant upstream remote power panels for this storage scale unit experienced a main breaker trip. This was followed by a cascading power interruption as load transferred to remaining sources resulting in power loss to the scale unit including all server racks and the network rack. Data center electricians restored power to the affected infrastructure. A thorough health check was completed after the power was restored, and any suspect or failed components were replaced and isolated. Suspect and failed components are being sent for analysis.

    MyPOV – Always ironic how a cheap breaker can affect a lot of business. I am not a power specialist / electrician, but reading this – if one power panel fails and load has to be transferred, the system should still be operating. Maybe something was not considered in the redundant design vs remaining throughput capacity, not a good place to be.

    Rating - 5 toads


    Next steps: We are continuously taking steps to improve the Microsoft Azure Platform and our processes to help ensure such incidents do not occur in the future, and in this case it includes (but is not limited to):
    - The failed rack power distribution units are being sent off for analysis. Root cause analysis continues with site operations, facility engineers, and equipment manufacturers.
    - To further mitigate risk of reoccurrence, site operations teams are evacuating the servers to perform deep Root Cause Analysis to understand the issue
    - Review Azure services that were impacted by this incident to help tolerate this sort of incidents to serve services with minimum disruptions by maintaining services resources across multiple scale units or implementing geo-strategy.

    MyPOV – Kudos for the hands-on next steps. The key measure (which I am sure Microsoft is doing) is though: How many other storage system power units, or overall Azure power units may have the same issue, and when will they be fixed and have the right capacity / redundancy, so this event cannot repeat. And then we have the question of standardization, is this a local knowledge event, are other data centers setup differently – or the same and can the same incident with a higher certainty be avoided.

    Out of curiosity – there was another event in Storage provisioning, a software defect, only 37 minutes before (you can find it on the Azure status page, right below the above incident) … and these two events could / may have been connected. The connection between the two is at hand: When having a storage failure in one location, customers (and IaaS technicians) may scramble to open storage accounts – at the same or other locations, if they cannot, ad hoc needed remediation and workaround cannot happen. There maybe a connection / there may not be a connection. But when hardware goes down and the software to manage accounts for the hardware – that’s an unfortunate – and hopefully highly unlikely – connection of events.


    (Luckily) a mostly minor event

    Unless someone was an affected party - this was a minor cloud down event. But it was luckily only a minor event, as power failures can quickly propagate and create cascading effects. Unfortunately for some of the services, there is no easy or no workaround at all available that when they go down, they are down. Apart from Microsoft's lessons learned - this is the larger concern going forward. I count a total of 12 toads, averaging 3 Cloud Loud Toads for this event.


    Lessons for Cloud Customers

    Here are the key aspects for customers to learn from the Azure outage:

    Have you built for resilience? Sure, it costs, but all major IaaS providers offer strategies on how to avoid single location / data center failures. Way too many prominent internet properties did not chose to do so – so if ‘born on the web’ properties miss this – its key to check regular enterprises do not miss this. Uptime has a price, make it a rational decision, now is a good time to get budget / investment approved, when warranted and needed.

    Ask your IaaS vendor a few questions: Enterprises should not be shy to ask IaaS providers if they have done a few things:
    • How do you test your power system equipment?
    • How much redundancy is in the power system?
    • What are the single points of failure in the data center being used?
    • When have you tested / taken off components of the power system?
    • How do you make sure your power infrastructure remains adequate as you are putting more load through it (assuming the data center gets more utilized).
    • What is the expected up in case of power failure? 
    • How can we code for resilience – and what does it cost?
    • What kind of renumeration / payment / cost relief can be expected with a downtime?
    • What other single point of failure should we be aware of?
    • How do you communicate in a downtime situation with customers? 
    • How often and when do you refresh your older datacenters, power infrastructure / servers?
    • How often have your reviewed and improved your operational procedures in the last 12 months? Give us a few examples how you have increased resilience.

    And some key internal questions, customers of IaaS vendors have to ask themselves:
    • How do you and how often do you test your power infrastructure?
    • How do you ensure your power infrastructure keeps up with demand / utilization?
    • How do you communicate with customers in case of power failure?
    • How do you determine which systems to bring up and when?
    • How do you isolate power failures and at what level to minimize downtime
    • Make sure to learn from AWS (recent) and Microsoft’s mistakes – what is your exposure to the same event? 


    Overall MyPOV

    Power failures are always tricky. IT is full of anecdotes of independent power supplies not starting – even in the case of formal test. But IaaS vendors need to do better and learn from what went wrong with Azure. There maybe a commonality with the recent AWS downtime, that IaaS vendors can become the victims of their own success. AWS saw more usage of S3 systems, Microsoft may have seen more utilization of the servers attached to the failing power system setup. And CAPEX demands flow into opening new data centers versus refreshing and upgrading older data centers. 

    There is learning all around for all participants – customers using IaaS services, and IaaS providers. Redundancy always comes at a cost, and the tradeoff in regards of how much redundancy an enterprise and a IaaS providers want and need will differ from use case to use case. The key aspect is that redundancy options exist and that tradeoffs are made in an ideally fully aware state of the repercussions. And get revisited on a regular basis. 

    Ironically for the next few years – more minor IaaS failures like this can get the level of cloud resiliency up to the levels where they should be for both IaaS vendors and IaaS consuming enterprises. As long as all keep learning and then acting appropriately.


    More Down Reports:

    • Down Report - Human error takes AWS S3 down in US-EAST-1 - and it is felt - 3.8 Cloud Load Toads - read here
    • Down Report - Sorry you are down, wait we are down, too! (Or: The sad state of HA) - read here

    More on Microsoft:

    • Event Report - Microsoft Connect - No April's Fools - Linux, Google and more  - read here
    • First Take - Microsoft discovers teams - launches Microsoft Teams - read here
    • News Analysis - Microsoft announces SAP's choice of Azure to help enterprises transform HR - The SaaS land grab is on  - read here
    • First Take - Microsoft Ignite - AI, Adobe and FPGA [From the Fences] - read here
    • News Analysis - GE and Microsoft partner to bring Predix to Azure - Multi-Cloud becomes tangible for IoT - read here
    • Market Move - Microsoft acquired Linked - Tons of synergies, start with Cortana, maybe too many - read here
    • News Analysis - Microsoft opens Windows Holographic to partners for a new era of mixed reality - read here
    • News Analysis - SAP and Microsoft usher in new era of partnership to accelerate digital transformation in the cloud - read here
    • Musings - Will Microsoft's Hololens transform the Future of Work? Read here
    • Event Report - Microsoft Build 2016 - A platform vision and plenty of tools for next generation applications - read here
    • First Take - Microsoft Build 2016 - Day 1 Keynote Takeaways - read here
    • Event Preview - Microsoft Build 2016 - Top 3 Things to watch for developers, managers and execs...  read here
    • News Analysis - Microsoft - New Hybrid Offerings Deliver Bottomless Capacity for Today's Data Explosion - read here
    • News Analysis - Welcoming the Xamarin team to Microsoft - read here
    • News Analysis - Microsoft announcements at Convergence Barcelona - Office365. Dynamics CRM and Power Apps 
    • News Analysis - Microsoft expands Azure Data Lake to unleash big data productivity - Good move - time to catch up - read here
    • News Analysis - Microsoft and Salesforce Strengthen Strategic Partnership at Dreamforce 2015 - Good for joint customers - read here
    • News Analyis - NetSuite announced Cloud Alliance with Microsoft - read here
    • Event Report - Microsoft Build - Microsoft really wants to make developers' lives easier - read here
    • First Hand with Microsoft Hololens - read here
    • Event Report - Microsoft TechEd - Top 3 Enterprise takeaways - read here
    • First Take - Microsoft discovers data ambience and delivers an organic approach to in memory database - read here
    • Event Report - Microsoft Build - Azure grows and blossoms - enough for enterprises (yet)? Read here.
    • Event Report - Microsoft Build Day 1 Keynote - Top Enterprise Takeaways - read here.
    • Microsoft gets even more serious about devices - acquire Nokia - read here.
    • Microsoft does not need one new CEO - but six - read here.
    • Microsoft makes the cloud a platform play - Or: Azure and her 7 friends - read here.
    • How the Cloud can make the unlikeliest bedfellows - read here.
    • How hard is multi-channel CRM in 2013? - Read here.
    • How hard is it to install Office 365? Or: The harsh reality of customer support - read here.

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

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    We had the opportunity to attend SAP Ariba’s Live user conference in Las Vegas, held from March 21st till 23rd 2017, at the Cosmopolitan. The event was well attended with over 3200 attendees, good partner representation and influencer selection.




    So take a look at my musings on the event here: (if the video doesn’t show up, check here)




    No time to watch – here is the 1-2 slide condensation (if the slide doesn’t show up, check here):



    Want to read on? 

    Here you go: Always tough to pick the takeaways – but here are my Top 3:


    Ariba is on a roll– A few years ago it seemed that Ariba (add an SAP in front of every time you read Ariba going forward) maybe in the state of a being the sleeping beauty of enterprise software. Always there – but not going anywhere. That has changed in the recent year and Ariba now has the momentum to show it: Even for SAP adding 10 of the Top 100 Global Businesses in 12 months is quite a feat – and both a testament to the market position that Ariba has achieved as well as the attractiveness of what Ariba has recently provided and plans offer soon. And suppliers will pay attention when hearing that Ariba has added B300US$ in 2016 in network volume. Similar to e-commerce we can see the networks synergies playing in favor of Ariba.



    SAP Ariba Live Holger Mueller Constellation Research
    Atzberger - Make Procurement Awesome

    Functionality Push– Last year Ariba unveiled the Guided Buying approach, both a simplification on the product side and usability improvement for the UX. The combination has worked well for Ariba and proven popular with customers. Spot Purchases were announced, too and are available now, the upcoming implementation at Latin American trading powerhouse Mercado Libre is a proof point that Ariba has built good functionality. When asking Mercado Libre for the reasons for selecting Ariba, they first mentioned the synergy effects of using SAP already – something that bides well for further sales of Spot Purchases into the SAP install base.





    SAP Ariba Live Holger Mueller Constellation Research
    Ariba 2016 Momentum


    That the combination of UX improvement and simplification is working out for Ariba, is also seen by the plans to bring the same concept to bear on the Supplier side with the Light Account: During the keynote, we saw the demo of onboarding a new supplier in 2 minutes, something as unthinkable as well as un-achievable in today’s business practice.



     
    SAP Ariba Live Holger Mueller Constellation Research
    McDermott & Atzberger Q&A

    Blockchain meets Purchasing– In a sign of times, this was also a conference with a Blockchain announcement, and SAP picked Hyperledger for its first dabs into distributed ledger technology. Certainly, a good choice, though SAP likely will also have to support other blockchain technologies, but Hyperledger is a good start. And few places lend themselves more to the blockchain scenario than purchasing, so it’s good to see SAP innovating.



    MyPOV

    It is remarkable how fast SAP Ariba is moving, especially when one considers (which was not much part of the public talks at the conference) that Ariba is in the midst of a major re-platform endeavor – moving off Oracle and onto SAP HANA. Usually vendors take a noticeable pause while undergoing exercises like these – not so much SAP Ariba. It is good to see the vendor doubling down on things that work, e.g. the UX improvements and the overall process simplifications, while at the same time innovating with blockchain, team productivity software (Microsoft Teams was shown) and speech recognition. Still a tall order – to make a traditionally boring administrative software like Procurement awesome… to get there Ariba has shown the willingness to partner and be an open platform and finally has embraced lofty goals such as diversity, or even more ambitious – the quest of ending modern age slavery, a topic near and dear to the heart of Ariba boss Alex Atzberger.

    On the concern side, Ariba has to deliver a lot while a lot is happening. Never an easy scenario for any vendor, so we will be keeping an eye, especially on the platform side, how Ariba will progress in the next quarters.

    Finally, it was good to see that SAP seems to have found the right length of ‘leash’ for the Ariba subsidiary – not too close to stop innovation, and allowing freedom (e.g. manifested in Ariba using angular.js and not Fiori) but also have leverage (e.g. with HANA). That SAP CEO McDermott said in a Q&A (see a Storify Tweet Story here) that he would be open to e.g. integrate with perennial co-opetitor Oracle, speaks signs of the flexibility and pragmatism that is lived now at the top of both companies, always a good sign for customers.




    More on SAP Ariba
    • Event Report - SAP Ariba Live - Make Procurement Cool Again - read here
    • News Analysis - SAP moves Ariba Spend Visibility to HANA - Interesting first step in a long journey - read here

    More on SAP:
    • Event Report - SAP Capital Markets and S/4HANA Update - Good Plan - Execution matters in 2017 - read here
    • News Analysis -SAP Introduces Jump-Start Enablement Program for SAP Leonardo IoT Portfolio >> Bundling and Simplification matter for IoT - read here
    • Event Report - Event Report - SAP TechEd Barcelona - Analytics, ML, PaaS and HANA 2  - read here
    • News Analysis - SAP to unveil HANA 2 - New platform vs a fork's tine - read here
    • News Analysis - Microsoft announces SAP's choice of Azure to help enterprises transform HR - The SaaS land grab is on - read here
    • Event Report - SAP / Trenitalia Digital Summit - SAP is serious about IoT - read here
    • First Take - SAP BW/4HANA - Data Gravity and Cloud win - read here
    • Event Report - SAP SuccessFactors SConnect - Push on all fronts - read here
    • Event Report - SAP Insider Vienna - HCP, BI and SuccessFactors are the takeaways - read here
    • Event Report - SAP Sapphire 2016 - Top 3 Positives & Concerns: SAP changes - probably for the better - read here
    • First Take - SAP Sapphire Day #2 Keynote - read here
    • News Analysis - SAP and Microsoft usher in new era of partnership to accelerate digital transformation in the cloud - read here
    • First Take -  SAP Sapphire Bill McDermott Day #1 Keynote - read here
    • Event Preview - SAP Sapphire 2016 - What to expect and look for - read here
    • News Analysis - Apple & SAP Partner to Revolutionize Work on iPhone & iPad - read here
    • Progress Report - SAP SuccessFactors makes good progress - now needs appeal beyond SAP - read here
    • News Analysis - SAP HANA Vora now available... - A key milestone for SAP - read here
    • Event Report - SAP Ariba Live - Make Procurement Cool Again - read here
    • News Analysis - SAP SuccessFactors innovates in Performance Management with continuous feedback powered by 1 to 1s  - read here
    • Event Report - SAP SuccessFactors SuccessConnect - Good Progress sprinkled with innovative ideas and challenging the status quo - read here
    • News Analysis - WorkForce Software Announces Global Reseller Agreement with SAP - read here
    • First Take - SAP SuccessFactors SuccessConnect - Day #1 Keynote Top 3 Takeaways - read here
    • News Analysis - SAP SuccessFactors introduces Next Generation of HCM software - read here
    • News Analysis - SAP delivers next release of SAP HANA - SPS 10 - Ready for BigData and IoT - read here
    • Event Report - SAP Sapphire - Top 3 Positives and Concerns - read here
    • First Take - Bernd Leukert and Steve Singh Day #2 Keynote - read here
    • News Analysis - SAP and IBM join forces ... read here
    • First Take - SAP Sapphire Bill McDermott Day #1 Keynote - read here
    • In Depth - S/4HANA qualities as presented by Plattner - play for play - read here
    • First Take - SAP Cloud for Planning - the next spreadsheet killer is off to a good start - read here
    • Progress Report - SAP HCM makes progress and consolidates - a lot of moving parts - read here
    • First Take - SAP launches S/4HANA - The good, the challenge and the concern - read here
    • First Take - SAP's IoT strategy becomes clearer - read here
    • SAP appoints a CTO - some musings - read here
    • Event Report - SAP's SAPtd - (Finally) more talk on PaaS, good progress and aligning with IBM and Oracle - read here
    • News Analysis - SAP and IBM partner for cloud success - good news - read here
    • Market Move - SAP strikes again - this time it is Concur and the spend into spend management - read here
    • Event Report - SAP SuccessFactors picks up speed - but there remains work to be done - read here
    • First Take - SAP SuccessFactors SuccessConnect - Top 3 Takeaways Day 1 Keynote - read here.
    • Event Report - Sapphire - SAP finds its (unique) path to cloud - read here
    • What I would like SAP to address this Sapphire - read here
    • News Analysis - SAP becomes more about applications - again - read here
    • Market Move - SAP acquires Fieldglass - off to the contingent workforce - early move or reaction? Read here.
    • SAP's startup program keep rolling – read here.
    • Why SAP acquired KXEN? Getting serious about Analytics – read here.
    • SAP steamlines organization further – the Danes are leaving – read here.
    • Reading between the lines… SAP Q2 Earnings – cloudy with potential structural changes – read here.
    • SAP wants to be a technology company, really – read here
    • Why SAP acquired hybris software – read here.
    • SAP gets serious about the cloud – organizationally – read here.
    • Taking stock – what SAP answered and it didn’t answer this Sapphire [2013] – read here.
    • Act III & Final Day – A tale of two conference – Sapphire & SuiteWorld13 – read here.
    • The middle day – 2 keynotes and press releases – Sapphire & SuiteWorld – read here.
    • A tale of 2 keynotes and press releases – Sapphire & SuiteWorld – read here.
    • What I would like SAP to address this Sapphire – read here.
    • Why 3rd party maintenance is key to SAP’s and Oracle’s success – read here.
    • Why SAP acquired Camillion – read here.
    • Why SAP acquired SmartOps – read here.
    • Next in your mall – SAP and Oracle? Read here

    And more about SAP technology:
    • Event Prieview - SAP TechEd 2015 - read here
    • News Analysis - SAP Unveils New Cloud Platform Services and In-Memory Innovation on Hadoop to Accelerate Digital Transformation – A key milestone for SAP read here
    • HANA Cloud Platform - Revisited - Improvements ahead and turning into a real PaaS - read here
    • News Analysis - SAP commits to CloudFoundry and OpenSource - key steps - but what is the direction? - Read here.
    • News Analysis - SAP moves Ariba Spend Visibility to HANA - Interesting first step in a long journey - read here
    • Launch Report - When BW 7.4 meets HANA it is like 2 + 2 = 5 - but is 5 enough - read here
    • Event Report - BI 2014 and HANA 2014 takeaways - it is all about HANA and Lumira - but is that enough? Read here.
    • News Analysis – SAP slices and dices into more Cloud, and of course more HANA – read here.
    • SAP gets serious about open source and courts developers – about time – read here.
    • My top 3 takeaways from the SAP TechEd keynote – read here.
    • SAP discovers elasticity for HANA – kind of – read here.
    • Can HANA Cloud be elastic? Tough – read here.
    • SAP’s Cloud plans get more cloudy – read here.
    • HANA Enterprise Cloud helps SAP discover the cloud (benefits) – read here


    Want to learn more? Checkout the Storify collection below (if it doesn’t show up – check here). Don't miss the Day #2 keynote Storify collection here.






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


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    So before I get more questions on Oracle possibly buying Accenture and getting back on the road this - week... better to have a blog post out there on the topic...

    First things first - quick thoughts in the video: (if the video doesn’t show up, check here)



    No time to watch - here is the one slide update:
    (if the slide doesn’t show up, check here)



    Definitively, because
    • The Future is Services - We know services are the future - vs. CAPEX style perpetual licenses. Combos of software and human services (aka BPO, more modern BPaaS) have a future, not doubt.
       
    • Accenture can bring cloud load - The idea would be that Accenture can 'persuade' most of its customers to move to Oracle products, and provide the services. Stands and falls with 'client leakage'. But Oracle needs load for its cloud to be competitive.
       
    • The 21st century "IBM" needs services - Ellison wants Oracle to become the IBM of the 21st century - what the IBM of the 20th century had was services. So Accenture is the missing piece.
       
    Never ever, because
    • Product vs Services DNA - These are like fire and water - they need each other but never live well together.
       
    • Accenture dilutes Oracle's margin - It's all about P/E ratio, less E means a smaller P... not good for Oracle shareholders, who may not be happy.

    • Services under pressure - There is a lot of talk about digital disruption - but a function that has been thoroughly disrupted by software - is system integrator services. Gone are the 1000+ FTE projects, a dozen consultants is a large project these days. So why would Oracle acquire a player in a systematically struggling industry - and one that Oracle disrupts itself with its cloud products?

    MyPOV

    I would be very surprised if this merger would happen. It’s unlikely that Oracle / Larry Ellison will make the mistake from the 90ies twice – when the integrated product and services Oracle offering feel short in the market when competing with the SAP (product only) and SI combo (back then the Big 7 in case you remember). Basically, the Big 7 influenced customers to implement… where there would be revenue stream for them.

    On the flip side one could argue that the market is no longer the same as in the 90ies. Customer want all in one shot, and want it as fast as possible, maybe even need their solution as fast as possible to keep operating. But what has not changed is the stock market: Predictable revenues with predictable margins – and that is so much more attractive with (cloud) software than with cloud related services.


    What’s your POV?


    Recent blog posts on Oracle:
    • Progress Report - Oracle HCM Analyst Summit 2017 - Oracle HCM stronger and stronger - read here
    • Event Report - Oracle OpenWorld - the HCM perspective - Almost no news, but wait... - read here.
    • First Take - Early Oracle OpenWorld 2016 Keynotes - read here
    • Event Preview - Oracle OpenWorld 2016 - What to expect, what to watch for ... will IaaS start Clicking? - read here
    • Market Move - Oracle acquires NetSuite - Oddly consolidation means more options for customers - read here
    • News Analysis - Oracle Unveils Suite of Breakthrough Services.. or short: Oracle Cloud Machine - read here
    • Progress Report - Oracle Cloud - More ready than ever, now needs adoption - read here
    • Event Report - Oracle Openworld 2015 - Top 3 Takeaways, Top 3 Positives & Concerns - read here
    • News Analysis - Quick Take on all 22 press releases of Oracle OpenWorld Day #1 - #3 - read here
    • First Take - Oracle OpenWorld - Day 1 Keynote - Top 3 Takeaways - read here
    • Event Preview - Oracle Openworld - watch here

    Future of Work / HCM / SaaS research:

    • Event Report - Oracle HCM World - Innovation around the Core - read here
    • Event Report - Oracle HCM World - Full Steam ahead, a Learning surprise and potential growth challenges - read here
    • First Take - Oracle HCM World Day #1 Keynote - off to a good start - read here
    • Progress Report - Oracle HCM gathers momentum - now it needs to build on that - read here
    • Oracle pushes modern HR - there is more than technology - read here. (Takeaways from the recent HCMWorld conference).
    • Why Applications Unlimited is good a good strategy for Oracle customers and Oracle - read here.

    Also worth a look for the full picture
    • Event Report - Oracle PaaS Event - 6 PaaS Services become available, many more announced - read here
    • Progress Report - Oracle Cloud makes progress - but key work remains in the cellar - read here
    • News Analysis - Oracle discovers the power of the two socket server - or: A pivot that wasn't one - TCO still rules - read here
    • Market Move - Oracle buys Datalogix - moves more into DaaS - read here
    • Event Report - Oracle Openworld - Oracle's vision and remaining work become clear - they are both big - read here
    • Constellation Research Video Takeaways of Oracle Openworld 2014 - watch here
    • Is it all coming together for Oracle in 2014? Read here
    • From the fences - Oracle AR Meeting takeaways - read here (this was the last analyst meeting in spring 2013)
    • Takeaways from Oracle CloudWorld LA - read here (this was one of the first cloud world events overall, in January 2013)

    And if you want to read more of my findings on Oracle technology - I suggest:

    • Progress Report - Good cloud progress at Oracle and a two step program - read here.
    • Oracle integrates products to create its Foundation for Cloud Applications - read here.
    • Java grows up to the enterprise - read here.
    • 1st take - Oracle in memory option for its database - very organic - read here.
    • Oracle 12c makes the database elastic - read here.
    • How the cloud can make the unlikeliest bedfellows - read here.
    • Act I - Oracle and Microsoft partner for the cloud - read here.
    • Act II - The cloud changes everything - Oracle and Salesforce.com - read here.
    • Act III - The cloud changes everything - Oracle and Netsuite with a touch of Deloitte - read here

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



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    This morning SAP surprised us with the news of re-organizing its executive board, largely initiated by the departure of Steve Singh. As often with organizational press releases – you have to read it from the bottom up, but we will follow our customary process of dissecting the press release.



    Here you go – the press release can be found here:

    WALLDORF — SAP SE (NYSE: SAP) today announced newly expanded responsibilities of key executives. Robert Enslin and Bernd Leukert will shift and expand their portfolios as members of the Executive Board of SAP SE. The Supervisory Board of SAP SE has named Adaire Fox-Martin and Jennifer Morgan to the Executive Board.

    MyPOV – Neat summary. Good to see two women coming to the executive board.


    The moves underscore SAP’s commitment to customers’ ongoing digital transformation and its effort to foster top talent.

    MyPOV – Ok – important – but then how do these appointments support digital transformation?


    “I am pleased that executives such as Rob, Bernd, Adaire and Jen are stepping into bigger leadership roles to transform the way we drive innovations with our customers,” said Hasso Plattner, chairman of the Supervisory Board.

    MyPOV – Mandatory chairman of the supervisory board.

    In addition, two new leadership assignments were announced for current EMEA President Franck Cohen and SAP Cloud Platform President Bjoern Goerke. Cohen will become chief commercial officer and Goerke chief technology officer.

    MyPOV – Good to see the next level repercussions, too. I can’t assess Cohen’s impact – but Goerke’s appointment is a good move. A company of the size of SAP needs a CTO, needs the ying and yang between a development leader and a chief technologist… now it’s up to Goerke to show he is up for the job and might become a member of the executive board – some time. Cohen is key to keep the European customers happy from a representation perspective and channels is a key business for enterprise software.

    “We have always considered it a privilege to nurture careers and leaders,” said Bill McDermott, CEO and member of the Executive Board. “SAP is a company focused on innovation, scale and growth. I’m proud of this leadership team and know they are poised to keep SAP on the rise.”

    MyPOV – Good quote by McDermott. The new setup gives more scale (2 sales leaders instead of one) and has more room to streamline product development and services. I asked what it means for e.g. a SuccessFactors customer – and McDermott’s answers was ‘no change’. But I expect over time the matrix line of SuccessFactors product development to get a little stronger towards Leukert than to the SuccessFactors leader, Mike Ettling. My interpretation here.

    The Supervisory Board has asked Enslin, head of Global Customer Operations, to be president of the new Cloud Business Group. He will oversee SAP Ariba, SAP Fieldglass, Concur, SAP SuccessFactors, and SAP Hybris solutions as well as the SMB Solutions Group organization. Leukert, head of Products & Innovation at SAP, will expand his portfolio to accelerate SAP’s platform and digital transformation strategy. Enslin and Leukert will jointly lead key growth businesses at SAP, ensuring that development teams and customer-facing teams are in lockstep with one another from the design thinking and innovation process to customer-facing initiatives.

    MyPOV – Enslin gets an entrepreneurial opportunity and also gets out of the grind and pressure of the global sales role, he has done that well for a long time, in a difficult product life cycle stage of SAP. Leukert will add responsibility on the development side, as a lot of innovation e.g. in platform (see Hybris choosing CloudFoundry 3+ years ago) happens in the acquired company’s products. Good to bring it all together… as mentioned I expect the line to Leukert / his team to become more solid – possibly the only one in 2 years or so from now. And that’s the course of all successful acquisitions over time, SAP has run Ariba, Hybris, SuccessFactors, FieldGlass etc. on a long leash on the product side for a long time.

    With Enslin’s increased focus on cloud businesses at SAP, Fox-Martin and Morgan will ascend to the co-presidency of Global Customer Operations, overseeing all SAP regions and building on their success in the Asia-Pacific-Japan region and North America, respectively. Fox-Martin will oversee EMEA and Greater China. Morgan will oversee the Americas and Asia-Pacific-Japan regions. As chief commercial officer, Cohen will lead SAP’s channel business as well as assume responsibility for all sales processes and go-to-market initiatives across SAP. As CTO, Goerke will advance the company’s technology strategy and serve as a key external spokesperson.

    MyPOV – Good to see two executives in charge of SAP sales, with all the new products and solutions SAP is providing / has provided a good move to have more bandwidth on frankly, a brutal job. One question that was missed to be asked was if Fox-Martin (who is Irish) would move back to Europe. There is a long tradition of managing China directly from Walldorf / Europe – so that makes sense. And Morgan is on ‘McDermott’s track’ as he stated on the call. And of course, good to see SAP adding two women to the board, I hope and expect them to do better than two previous women appointed (and since then left) before. Finally, good to see women leadership in a key, revenue generating function.


    All changes will be effective May 1, 2017.

    MyPOV – No time to lose.

    Steve Singh, president of Business Networks and Applications, will leave SAP SE at the end of this month. Singh collaborated closely with Enslin, and together they transitioned Concur solutions into the SAP product family. Singh built a strong foundation for business networks at SAP and plans to focus on other entrepreneurial interests outside of SAP.

    MyPOV – And here we are to the action of the reactio (in Newton terms) – Singh retiring for a more entrepreneurial role. Frankly, I was surprised that Singh stuck around so long, his brother, Ariba co-founder ‘bolting’ right at acquisition time. Writing was on the wall, eg. with McDermott showing up at SAP Ariba Live, not Singh like last year. He will be missed as an outside SAP voice and influence, he probably holds the record (need to do some math) of hanging around the longest as a founder / CEO of a large acquisition (remember Business Objects, Sybase, SuccessFactors leaders leaving quickly).

    “Steve Singh’s character and entrepreneurial spirit are greatly admired around the world,” McDermott said. “When SAP acquired Concur Technologies, we knew Steve would play a significant role in strengthening the SAP cloud portfolio. We also knew he would eventually go back to his start-up roots. We could not be more grateful for everything Steve has done.”

    MyPOV – Good / nice quote for Singh. Will be interesting what he does next, we wish him a long break to recharge batteries and all the best.


    Overall MyPOV

    Gravity is a powerful force in organizations, and gravity comes back to the ‘mothership’ of SAP in the form strengthening product under Leukert and bringing all acquired ‘cloud’ properties together under Enslin. The ‘board’ structure under which e.g. SuccessFactors and hybris were gone are now making place for traditional (matrix) reporting lines. So, this comes as no surprise, as acquisitions always get somehow ‘reeled in’ to the mothership – timing is the delicate part here. Moving too early ‘brakes’ the acquired company DNA and unique value proposition, doing it too late leaves enterprise with no talent and customers with staling products. I think SAP got the timing right here, e.g. preluding the whole move with adding ‘SAP’ in front of the brands of the acquired parties, in case of doubt even let this run longer than needed separately.

    For customers, it means an easier way to do business. Two sales leaders for one makes it more time with the sales leader, more product under one leader makes sure things fit better together, all acquired products under one leader makes sure synergies are tapped in. The next big organizational piece to watch is how SAP will organize the go to market of S4/HANA beyond the current stage of ‘incubation’ under Leukert. It can’t stay there ‘forever’. A focus on channels is good, as more and more enterprise software will be consumed from marketplaces and partners directly. If SAP does this right – it could mean less friction and faster software purchasing processes. Lastly good to see SAP has a CTO again, an important function for a technology vendor of the size of SAP. So, overall good news for customers, who get more capacity with sales leaders on the top, a more streamlined acquired product experience and more product synergies.

    Finally – putting my career coach / succession planning / board power assessment hat on – it gives plenty of room to grow and prove themselves for all SAP leaders involved – a good setup to determine who will succeed McDermott – in a 5+ year time frame.


    More on SAP:
    • Event Report - SAP Ariba Live - The quest to make Procurement awesome - read here
    • Event Report - SAP Capital Markets and S/4HANA Update - Good Plan - Execution matters in 2017 - read here
    • News Analysis -SAP Introduces Jump-Start Enablement Program for SAP Leonardo IoT Portfolio >> Bundling and Simplification matter for IoT - read here
    • Event Report - Event Report - SAP TechEd Barcelona - Analytics, ML, PaaS and HANA 2  - read here
    • News Analysis - SAP to unveil HANA 2 - New platform vs a fork's tine - read here
    • News Analysis - Microsoft announces SAP's choice of Azure to help enterprises transform HR - The SaaS land grab is on - read here
    • Event Report - SAP / Trenitalia Digital Summit - SAP is serious about IoT - read here
    • First Take - SAP BW/4HANA - Data Gravity and Cloud win - read here
    • Event Report - SAP SuccessFactors SConnect - Push on all fronts - read here
    • Event Report - SAP Insider Vienna - HCP, BI and SuccessFactors are the takeaways - read here
    • Event Report - SAP Sapphire 2016 - Top 3 Positives & Concerns: SAP changes - probably for the better - read here
    • First Take - SAP Sapphire Day #2 Keynote - read here
    • News Analysis - SAP and Microsoft usher in new era of partnership to accelerate digital transformation in the cloud - read here
    • First Take -  SAP Sapphire Bill McDermott Day #1 Keynote - read here
    • Event Preview - SAP Sapphire 2016 - What to expect and look for - read here
    • News Analysis - Apple & SAP Partner to Revolutionize Work on iPhone & iPad - read here
    • Progress Report - SAP SuccessFactors makes good progress - now needs appeal beyond SAP - read here
    • News Analysis - SAP HANA Vora now available... - A key milestone for SAP - read here
    • Event Report - SAP Ariba Live - Make Procurement Cool Again - read here
    • News Analysis - SAP SuccessFactors innovates in Performance Management with continuous feedback powered by 1 to 1s  - read here
    • Event Report - SAP SuccessFactors SuccessConnect - Good Progress sprinkled with innovative ideas and challenging the status quo - read here
    • News Analysis - WorkForce Software Announces Global Reseller Agreement with SAP - read here
    • First Take - SAP SuccessFactors SuccessConnect - Day #1 Keynote Top 3 Takeaways - read here
    • News Analysis - SAP SuccessFactors introduces Next Generation of HCM software - read here
    • News Analysis - SAP delivers next release of SAP HANA - SPS 10 - Ready for BigData and IoT - read here
    • Event Report - SAP Sapphire - Top 3 Positives and Concerns - read here
    • First Take - Bernd Leukert and Steve Singh Day #2 Keynote - read here
    • News Analysis - SAP and IBM join forces ... read here
    • First Take - SAP Sapphire Bill McDermott Day #1 Keynote - read here
    • In Depth - S/4HANA qualities as presented by Plattner - play for play - read here
    • First Take - SAP Cloud for Planning - the next spreadsheet killer is off to a good start - read here
    • Progress Report - SAP HCM makes progress and consolidates - a lot of moving parts - read here
    • First Take - SAP launches S/4HANA - The good, the challenge and the concern - read here
    • First Take - SAP's IoT strategy becomes clearer - read here
    • SAP appoints a CTO - some musings - read here
    • Event Report - SAP's SAPtd - (Finally) more talk on PaaS, good progress and aligning with IBM and Oracle - read here
    • News Analysis - SAP and IBM partner for cloud success - good news - read here
    • Market Move - SAP strikes again - this time it is Concur and the spend into spend management - read here
    • Event Report - SAP SuccessFactors picks up speed - but there remains work to be done - read here
    • First Take - SAP SuccessFactors SuccessConnect - Top 3 Takeaways Day 1 Keynote - read here.
    • Event Report - Sapphire - SAP finds its (unique) path to cloud - read here
    • What I would like SAP to address this Sapphire - read here
    • News Analysis - SAP becomes more about applications - again - read here
    • Market Move - SAP acquires Fieldglass - off to the contingent workforce - early move or reaction? Read here.
    • SAP's startup program keep rolling – read here.
    • Why SAP acquired KXEN? Getting serious about Analytics – read here.
    • SAP steamlines organization further – the Danes are leaving – read here.
    • Reading between the lines… SAP Q2 Earnings – cloudy with potential structural changes – read here.
    • SAP wants to be a technology company, really – read here
    • Why SAP acquired hybris software – read here.
    • SAP gets serious about the cloud – organizationally – read here.
    • Taking stock – what SAP answered and it didn’t answer this Sapphire [2013] – read here.
    • Act III & Final Day – A tale of two conference – Sapphire & SuiteWorld13 – read here.
    • The middle day – 2 keynotes and press releases – Sapphire & SuiteWorld – read here.
    • A tale of 2 keynotes and press releases – Sapphire & SuiteWorld – read here.
    • What I would like SAP to address this Sapphire – read here.
    • Why 3rd party maintenance is key to SAP’s and Oracle’s success – read here.
    • Why SAP acquired Camillion – read here.
    • Why SAP acquired SmartOps – read here.
    • Next in your mall – SAP and Oracle? Read here

    And more about SAP technology:
    • Event Prieview - SAP TechEd 2015 - read here
    • News Analysis - SAP Unveils New Cloud Platform Services and In-Memory Innovation on Hadoop to Accelerate Digital Transformation – A key milestone for SAP read here
    • HANA Cloud Platform - Revisited - Improvements ahead and turning into a real PaaS - read here
    • News Analysis - SAP commits to CloudFoundry and OpenSource - key steps - but what is the direction? - Read here.
    • News Analysis - SAP moves Ariba Spend Visibility to HANA - Interesting first step in a long journey - read here
    • Launch Report - When BW 7.4 meets HANA it is like 2 + 2 = 5 - but is 5 enough - read here
    • Event Report - BI 2014 and HANA 2014 takeaways - it is all about HANA and Lumira - but is that enough? Read here.
    • News Analysis – SAP slices and dices into more Cloud, and of course more HANA – read here.
    • SAP gets serious about open source and courts developers – about time – read here.
    • My top 3 takeaways from the SAP TechEd keynote – read here.
    • SAP discovers elasticity for HANA – kind of – read here.
    • Can HANA Cloud be elastic? Tough – read here.
    • SAP’s Cloud plans get more cloudy – read here.
    • HANA Enterprise Cloud helps SAP discover the cloud (benefits) – read here

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


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    We had the opportunity to attend SmartRecruiter’s first user conference in San Francisco, held April 10th till `13th at the Grand Hyatt on Stockton. The conference is well attended with over 500 attendees, good partner representation and influencer selection. 

    So, look at my musings on the event here: (if the video doesn’t show up, check here)



    No time to watch – here is the 1-2 slide condensation (if the slide doesn’t show up, check here):





    Want to read on? Here you go: 

    Always tough to pick the takeaways – but here are my Top 3:

    Global calls, SmartRecruiters picks up the phone– The war for talent is no longer local, but global and that means for vendors that they have to become more global as talent acquisition professionals need global access to talent. SmartRecruiters has done well here – with offices now in London and Paris, with a new one just opened in Berlin with the recent acquisition of JobSpotting (see more here). And customers are more global, too – e.g. German industrial giant Bosch.



    SmartRecruiter Hire17 Constellation Research Holger Mueller
    SmartRecruiter CEO Ternynck opens

    Mobile rules, SmartRecruiters delivers mass hiring– People are more and more using mobile, so it is important to mobilize more enterprise capability. The new functionality of SmartRecruiters is to allow ad hoc local campaigns, for mass hiring, e.g. campus recruiting. More capabilities will come to the native SmartRecruiters native mobile apps. 

     
    SmartRecruiter Hire17 Constellation Research Holger Mueller
    3 Pillars of Hiring Success per SmartRecruiters

    AI is the trend, SmartRecruiters unveils candidate score – What users always wanted- sift through the sea of applicants and find the best fit is finally becoming real. SmartRecruiters starts with a score, a basic beginning that already provides value, but most importantly is an easy to understand metric that should take the fear from users of using “AI”. More importantly more is coming from SmartRecruiters, with the JobSpotting acquisition. 

     
    SmartRecruiter Hire17 Constellation Research Holger Mueller
    Analysts were allowed to use SmartRecruiters software

     

    MyPOV

    Always good to be part of very first analyst event, here a user conference. Four years after the pivot to enterprise software (from Freemium software, with payment on hiring event), SmartRecruiters has considerable momentum with 700+ paying customers. Global is making a mark both in product and go to market, with offices opened in London, Paris and Berlin.

    On the concern side, SmartRecruiters, even though running at full speed, will have to keep running and maybe running faster. Not only with more AI and more mobile support and more global expansion, but also may have to consider more of a functional footprint. Exciting and good times ahead for SmartRecruiters customers.

    But for now, good progress by SmartRecruiters – always great to be part of a first user conference and first analyst summit.


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

    Want to learn more? Checkout the Storify collection below (if it doesn’t show up – check here).




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

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    We had the opportunity to attend NetSuite’s SuiteWorld event held at the Sands Convention Center in Las Vegas and happening from April 24th till 27th 2017. SuiteWorld was well attended with a new record of over 7000+, good partner representation and influencer selection. It was also the first SuiteWorld in after the Oracle acquisition and in the post Zach Nelson era of NetSuite.



    So take a look at my musings on the event here: (if the video doesn’t show up, check here)




    No time to watch – here is the 1-2 slide condensation (if the slide doesn’t show up, check here):





    Want to read on? 

    Here you go: Always tough to pick the takeaways – but here are my Top 3:

    Oracle pushes the gas pedal. As usual with acquisitions in the high-tech industry, a lot of fear, uncertainty and doubt gets associated with them. In this case, there were irrational (no need to dig into them) and rational questions (product overlap, go to market etc.). Overall Oracle did a good job to address these concerns, as McGeever from NetSuite put it – the ‘elephant’ in the room. Oracle (co) CEO Mark Hurd was at hand to address the concerns with his usual rational, number driven style. He shared that Oracle paid approximately US$ 9.3B for NetSuite. This makes it the 2nd most expensive Oracle acquisition, shy of Peoplesoft (US$ 10.3B) (see a list of them here). Oracle will bring scale to NetSuite, selling the product in more geographies than before, as Hurd put it ‘as fast as Evan [Goldberg] can build [Internationalization], we will sell.’ And Oracle brings more development location, as NetSuite will hire more developers. And lastly Oracle data centers will help NetSuite getting a more global technical footprint. Oracle and Hurd have done a pretty good job to address these concerns, as I could not find a prospect, customer or partner that was really concerned about the new ownership of NetSuite, with a ‘wait and see’ being the most cautionary answer. US customers were not fazed, international customers expect more coverage and support and partners were excited as they expect more revenue to be made going forward. So, a good place for NetSuite and Oracle and the NetSuite customers and ecosystems. 



    NetSuite SuiteWorld 2017 Holger Mueller Constellation Research
    Hurd addresses SuiteWorld


    The (Net)Suite is complete with SuitePeople.
    For a long time, I have been chronicling the ‘slalom’ like NetSuite HCM strategy (see links below). At the end of the day (for now) it seems that the suite / platform argument is winning and with the launch of SuitePeople, NetSuite (finally) makes the suite complete. Except for a few industries, people are the largest expense for enterprises, so not managing the resources, processes and cost was a major gap in the otherwise complete NetSuite portfolio. The announced scope of SuitePeople with HR Core, Payroll and ‘beachheads’ into Talent and Workforce Management is a good start for the product. NetSuite always had a payroll offering, which was running under the Finance umbrella till now. And NetSuite quietly has already started a pilot program with a number customers, many of them at hand and on stage at SuiteWorld to share their (mostly positive) experience so far. And with NetSuite having acquired TribeHR some time ago (read here), and much of that team building SuitePeople, much of the Core HR capability has social elements, including newer concepts like an employee ‘score’. NetSuite’s decision to sell SuitePeople only as part of an overall NetSuite deal is the typical approach all suite vendors take to new products… the product is new, the synergies with the suite need to be leveraged and built and the stand-alone market (not sure if this ever would happen with NetSuite) is much more demanding. So, NetSuite customers looking for HR automation should definitively look at SuitePeople, most likely their account manager will make sure they don’t miss the new capability, too. The question NetSuite customers should ask are the typical ones, in regards of functional maturity, requirements coverage and roadmap compatibility with future demands. 


     
    NetSuite SuiteWorld 2017 Holger Mueller Constellation Research
    McGeever unveils SuitePeople


    More industry support with SuiteSuccess. Every ERP vendor wants and needs more vertical / industry support, NetSuite’s unveiled SuiteSuccess at SuiteWorld. All vertical offerings stand and fall with the quality of the preconfigured functionality, measured in speed and cost of implementation of the product. The numbers shared at SuiteWorld are pretty positive, so looking at using and adopting SuiteSuccess should be something customers in a supported industry should look into.


     
    NetSuite SuiteWorld 2017 Holger Mueller Constellation Research
    McGeever on SuiteSuccess Benefits

    MyPOV

    A very good SuiteWorld for NetSuite, in the new Oracle era and new digs in Las Vegas (all previous 4 events were in San Jose). Good to see a vendor outgrow a location (from San Jose to Las Vegas), also good to see that Oracle is firmly behind the NetSuite acquisition. Rumors of the end of the NetSuite products were never realistic, and put to bed for good.

    More on the positive side, NetSuite has shown that it is pushing overall product progress forward, across the board, but most importantly closes the last horizontal functionality hole with SuitePeople. This is hopefully the last chapter of NetSuite’s winding HCM history (express run through: no HCM, but Payroll, partnership with Oracle, partnership with tons of smaller vendors, acquisition of TribeHR, partnership with NetSuite – now SuitePeople – all in 4 years). Customers seem to be unfazed and focus on the value that NetSuite creates.

    On the concern side, acquisitions are never easy. It is one thing to plead support and investment into NetSuite – another thing to execute it. There is a reason there is a chasm between large enterprise and SMB offerings – not only in product, but also go to market. Customer need to listen attentively how this will develop for them in the next quarters, as Oracle has to become a little more ‘un-Oracle’ to succeed in SMB. On the flipside, this is an opportunity for Oracle to sell applications to more customers globally than they could with its existing SaaS application portfolio. But instilling the ‘cloud DNA’ into country organizations that are new to Cloud / SaaS will be a challenging.

    But for now, all is well for NetSuite, that will be seen in many more geographies around the world, time for decision makers on ERP in SMBs to pay attention, even if NetSuite was not sold yet in their geographies.

    Want to learn more? Checkout the Storify collection below (if it doesn’t show up – check here).

    More on NetSuite:
    • Market Move - Oracle acquires NetSuite - Oddly consolidation means more options for customers - read here
    • Event Report - NetSuite SuiteWorld - NetSuite powers on innovates on all layers - read here
    • Event Preview - NetSuite Suiteworld 2016 - read here
    • News Analysis – NetSuite speaks BeNeLux – expands into Belgium, The Netherlands and Luxembourg - read here
    • News Analyis - NetSuite announces Cloud Alliance with Microsoft - read here
    • First Take - NetSuite SuiteWorld - Zach Nelson Day #1 Keynote - read here
    • First Take - Ultimate Software UltiConnect Day #1 Keynote - read here
    • Event Report - Netsuite powers on with targeted innovation - read here
    • Why NetSuite acquired TribeHR - read here
    • Act III the cloud changes everything - Oracle and NetSuite with a touche of Deloitte - read here
    • Act III and final day - A tale of two conferences - Sapphire and SuiteWorld - read here
    • The middle day - 2 keynotes and press releases - Sapphire and SuiteWorld - read here
    • A tale of 2 keynotes and press releases - Sapphire and SuiteWorld - read here
    Find more coverage on the Constellation Research website here and checkout my magazine on Flipboard and my YouTube channel here.

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    We had the opportunity to attend Equifax Insight’s EFX Forum user conference in Scottsdale, held April 25th till 27th, at the beautiful Marriott Camelback resort in Scottsdale. The conference was well attended with about 300 attendees, good partner representation and influencer selection. 



    So take a look at my musings on the event here: (if the video doesn’t show up, check here)




    No time to watch – here is the 1-2 slide condensation (if the slide doesn’t show up, check here):





    Want to read on? Here you go: 

    Always tough to pick the takeaways – but here are my Top 3:


    Opening by Equifax Insights with Trusler

    International looms
    – Always good to software vendors taking the show on ‘the road’ or around the world. The beauty of software and intellectual property (IP) is that once something is built and / or understood you can take it to other markets. In the case of Equifax Insights, it is not so easy, as local data and assets have to be understood, acquired or licensed. And Equifax Insights has done its homework here with Canada and Australia, with immediate plans this year, with the UK to follow. The first step will be similar services to what Equifax Insights is known for in the US, “The Work Number”.



    Hamdi shares three takeaways from BigData Research


    Workforce Insights on Compensation– Last year Equifax Insights promised to live up to its name, and provide more insights. One year later the vendor has lived up to the promise and delivers help for making better compensation decisions, a popular offering these days. Though Equifax Insights does not address this from the paycheck angle, but from its credit bureau data. A classic BigData and Data as a Service (DaaS) use case that gives an important additional data (and insight) angle when making compensation decisions. 



    Full House at EFX Forum 2017


    Touch ID for Talent Acquisition
    – One common nuisance for applicants is to have to provide common information (e.g. address) repeatedly for each application. One common concern for employers is that the provided information is not accurate. With hiring frequency and volumes up as the economy moves into more of a gig economy, the Equifax Insights InstaTouchID service is a win / win between applicant and hiring enterprises. It’s also the option for Equifax to become a provider of individual record services, but that’s for a later time.



    Panel Action with Jessica Wadd, Madeline Laurano, Holger Mueller and John Sumser (ltr)


    MyPOV

    Equifax Insights keeps showing good progress on its products, extending functionality and capability on a regular basis. DaaS capabilities are interesting for enterprises, who look for easy and effective solutions to improve their data quality, compliance and overall efficiency. The internationalization efforts are encouraging, and should help set the Equifax Insights business on a more steady, global growth path, reducing exposure to the USA as so far only market.

    On the concern side, Equifax Insights needs to move phase and come to a strategy that moves it beyond being a ‘tactical’ provider of compliance and data quality. Compliance is a substantial challenge for enterprises with many complexities, CFOs and CHROs don’t want to add complexity by using many, maybe too many compliance and data services providers. They rather would prefer to use a single provider, but in absence of any provider stepping up for a complete Compliance as a Service (CaaS) solution, need to piecemeal the provider decisions. The player who first manages to consolidate Compliance through acquisition, partnership or organic growth, will reap the benefits of CaaS. Equifax Insights needs to work hard to stay in the game here, but has attractive starting positions.

    But for now, all is good progress for Equifax Insights customers, partners and the vendor. Stay tuned for more from Equifax Insights, DaaS and CaaS on this blog soon.

    Want to learn more? Checkout the Storify collection below (if it doesn’t show up – check here).

    More on Equifax
    • Event Report - Equifax EFX Forum [2016] - Good progress and CaaS looming - read here
    • Event Report - Equifax EFX Forum [2015] - Compliance Insights in the cross hairs - and strategic questions - read here
    • Event Report - Equifax Worforce - Preventive Medicine for the HR departrment and a silver lining of DaaS - read here


    More on general HCM topics

    • Musings - Is Transboarding the Future of People Talent Management? Read here
    • 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 more coverage on the Constellation Research website here and checkout my magazine on Flipboard and my YouTube channel here.

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    Things were quiet around Saba for a while, as the vendor struggled with re-stating earnings… then the vendor surprised with the acquisition of Canada head quartered Halogen.



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

    Redwood Shores, CA – May 1, 2017 – Saba Software Inc., today announced that it has completed its acquisition of Halogen Software, Inc. (TSX:HGN). Saba, Vector Capital and its affiliates, and Michael Slaunwhite, Halogen’s co-founder, executive chairman and largest shareholder, have acquired Halogen for CAD$12.50 in cash per share.
    MyPOV – Good summary and interesting mix of buyers – apart from Saba and Vector there is a buy back from Halogen co-founder Slaunwhite in the mix. It certainly creates a sense of ownership by Slaunwhite, who is not exiting, but staying on with Saba.
    The new, combined organization is now one of the largest independent talent management companies in the world, with 1,000 employees serving more than 4,000 customers in 195 countries around the globe.
    MyPOV – That’s a nice title to have, though size is not everything. Redundant product offerings need to be consolidated, customers educated, transferred etc. before Saba can really leverage the scale the size brings. It will also be interesting to see how many cross-sell opportunities the combined entity has.
    “No matter what size the company, all organizations are ultimately trying to solve the same challenge, which is how to better their business performance by engaging, developing, and investing in their employees,” said Pervez Qureshi, CEO of Saba. “The combination of Saba and Halogen brings them something very powerful – the expertise of the best and brightest minds in talent management, a deep commitment to helping our customers solve new challenges in new ways, and a true passion to deliver value and innovation, better and faster. This is a unique combination, and something no one else in the market can provide.”
    MyPOV – A good (and long) quote by Qureshi. Unfortunately, it does not clarify what the uniqueness on the product side is. But good to see talent, commitment, passion to help customers become better and faster.
    The dynamics of the workplace are changing, and organizations that are evolving their approach to employee development and engagement are realizing more productivity and performance. Together, Saba and Halogen plan to deliver a new vision for talent management – one that combines people-centric learning, engagement, and performance in new ways, enabling organizations to meet their employees on new terms, and transform the employee experience.
    MyPOV – Words matter and sequences matter. The absence of the ‘Talent Management’ buzzword vs the ranking of learning, engagement and performance may give an insight to the self-realization of the vendor. And while Learning is important, and currently going through a best practice revolution (think of video, self-published, self-paced, micro learning, flip training etc.) it is not the first thing that comes mind in enterprise. Getting the right talent to the right place at the right time is the name of the game – learning is important – but only ¼ or less of the whole automation puzzle.
    […] As pioneers in their respective areas, and with over 40 years of combined experience in talent management, Saba and Halogen share common vision, values and culture, as well as a commitment to the growth and success of their customers.
    MyPOV – Always good to have cultural fit and compatibility in a merged company.
    “Halogen customers selected the best performance solution in the marketplace today, and Saba acquired Halogen for the same reasons their customers use the software; the people, the products, the culture, and the innovation,” said John Hiraoka, Chief Strategy Officer at Saba. “This is something that we not only intend to continue, but to accelerate in the market. As a combined organization, we intend to rapidly deliver best-in-market innovations to both Saba and Halogen customers, with the same commitment to their growth and success they’ve come to expect.”
    MyPOV – Unusual to have another vendor CxO quoted, what is missing are quotes from customers and partners, showing excitement about the new Saba. But there is only so much room in a press release.


    Overall MyPOV

    It is good see life and growth for all market participants, competition makes products better and more affordable and with that enterprises more successful. Since the acquisition of SuccessFactors and Taleo, it had gotten quiet in the very large Talent Management vendor segment. As enterprises want to leverage suites, a concentration process will play in the hands of less integration risk. But Talent Management suite vendors are in the middle – between the complete HCM suite vendor and the startups looking at single (or a few) pieces of HCM automation. Their challenge is to innovate fast enough but integrate on a Talent Management level into a suite that stays ahead of both startups as well as suite vendors. No easy task for all vendors in this category.

    Saba was already a player here, now it has gotten innovation (Performance Management) and customers (SMB) from Halogen to help it scale more. But scale only helps when the tough decisions are made in regards of product overlap and the efficiencies are reaped in the go to market.

    On the concern side, the new Saba has not made roadmap announcements yet. To be fair Saba has some time with this, but time is of the essence in all merger situations. The machine learning approach is a good direction, e.g. Saba was one of the first HCM vendors to apply machine learning in Compensation Management – three and more years ago. But Machine Learning (or the marketing term du jour – AI) is missing from the press release.

    On the philosophical side, it is interesting that with Skillsoft / SumTotal, Cornerstone and now Saba / Halogen it is the original Learning vendors that are now the leading Talent Management suite vendors when it comes to size. Turns out that Learning can be both a blessing and curse…. We look forward to seeing the planned roadmaps of the new Saba and to analyze the direction. Stay tuned.


    More on Saba


    • Market Move – Vector Capital takes Saba Software Private - read here


    More Market Move Blog posts:

    • Market Move - Dell Technologies is here - 3 scenarios and a bonus perspective - read here.
    • Market Move - Randstad to acquire Monster Worldwide - Bridges a moat, now it has to work - read here
    • Market Move - Oracle acquires NetSuite - Oddly consolidation means more options for customers - read here
    • Market Move - Microsoft acquired Linked - Tons of synergies, start with Cortana, maybe too many - read here
    • Market Move - Oracle acquires Ravello Systems - makes good on nested hypervisor roadmap - read here
    • Market Move - Atos completes acquisition of Unify - gets more into IP - read here
    • Market Move - Dell plans to acquire EMC, VMware, Virtustream, Pivotal and more - read here
    • Market Move - IBM acquires StrongLoop - nodejs comes to BlueMix - read here
    Find more coverage on the Constellation Research website here and checkout my magazine on Flipboard and my YouTube channel here

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    We had the opportunity to attend Red Hats yearly user conference Red Hat Summit in Boston, held May 2nd till 4th 2017, at the Boston Convention Center. The conference was well attended with over 6000 attendees, a new record for Red Hat. In its 13th edition, I took note of the international customer base, reflected also in the Red Hat innovation awards. 




    So, take a look at my musings on the event here: (if the video doesn’t show up, check here)




    No time to watch – here is the 1-2 slide condensation (if the slide doesn’t show up, check here):





    Want to read on? 

    Here you go: Always tough to pick the takeaways – but here are my Top 3:

    Partnership with AWS. The big news of Day #2 was the Red Hat partnership with AWS, freshly put into action, so details were a little sparse. But effectively, Red Hat is looking to give its customers more software capabilities through making it easier to them to administer, launch and use 3rd party software capabilities, in this case AWS. It all happens through Red Hat OpenShift Container Platform, its PaaS platform. In the Day #2 keynote we saw a joint demo in which an OpenShift based JBoss server got access to an AWS RDS database, all provisioned from Red Hat OpenShift. Red Hat customers will not only be able to configure and deploy AWS services from the OpenShift version running on AWS, but also from an OpenShift deployment that runs on premises, on their very own servers. The targeted AWS products are Amazon Aurora, Amazon Redshift, Amazon EMR, Amazon Athena, Amazon CloudFront, Amazon Route 53, and Elastic Load Balancing. No surprise – a data base centric range. What Red Hat customers gain from this partnership will be the access to new capabilities that they could only deploy with substantial cost inside of OpenShift (especially on premises), take e.g. Hadoop / BigData use cases enabled now by Amazon AMR. Effectively Red Hat protects software assets that customers have created inside of OpenShift and gives them a future with adding / expanding use cases. And AWS gets access to enterprise load, while extending the reach of AWS products to …. On premises deployments and load. Something that could not have been done so far, as it was always ‘all in’ and building on AWS or migrating to AWS. Lastly on the Linux side, Red Hat and AWS will work together to expose more AWS services directly to RHEL, this will help customers who want to bring RHEL based applications to AWS, staying on Linux. And on the JBoss side both vendors will work together to provide JBoss as a containerized application on AWS. It all is planned to go live in fall of 2017. ReInvent timeframe maybe? 



    Red Hat RHSummit Holger Mueller Constellation Research
    Whitehurst on the opportunity ahead for Red Hat

    Red Hat OpenShift.io unveiled– The years are over when new IDEs are unveiled, but every now and then a new effort is announced, here it was OpenShift.io. IDEs are important for developer productivity, and quickly become the ‘living room’ of a developer, as such they have tremendous ‘stickiness’. Red Hat felt compelled to provide a modern, container (of course Kubernetes based) new IDE. Of course, it leverages Open Source IDE ingredients, such as Jenkins, fabric8 and Eclipse Che. More tooling is available for Workspace Management (shown in demos), better (of course agile) planning, team collaboration, coding and testing and of course CI / CD. I was impressed by the real-time Stack Analysis capabilities and plans – but that was to be expected from a multiple ISO layer owning technology stack vendor like Red Hat. And unsurprisingly it is ‘free’ in the sense of being part of the Developer Program and now in developer preview, developers can find it at https://openshift.io.



    Red Hat RHSummit Holger Mueller Constellation Research
    Cormier on the Red Hat Model

    The New Kids on the Block are doing well. Red Hat is the largest Linux and Open Source company with revenues north of 2B US$. But with the threat of public cloud lingering over all on premises deployments, it is questionable how long Red Hat can derive revenues from Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL). It’s remarkable the vendor is still growing this revenue segment with 10-20% growth, nonetheless it will slow down, maybe even come to a screeching halt. Red Hat knows this and has another revenue stream around JBoss, but that is equally heavily on premises centric, but growing relatively faster. So, longer term revenue growth and customer appeal for Red Hat must come from the newer products, the new kids on the block: OpenShift, OpenStack related services. Encouragingly these are growing at 100% now, but the small scale of a combined 100M US$ is still way too small to carry Red Hat as the 10k+ employee software vendor that it is right now. Speed of product development, acceptance by customers and loyalty of customers will be key. On the new capabilities, Red Hat has done well, it now needs to get customers to adopt the solution. It needs to change the conversation from administrators of server and services to the CxOs who make platform decisions. Not an easy task. But you need to have the products first.



    Red Hat RHSummit Holger Mueller Constellation Research
    The Red Hat Product Portfolio

    MyPOV

    A good event for Red Hat customers. An interesting selection of topics for the keynotes – it was not yet about the new offerings, at the same time the largest Linux vendor did not show a roadmap / planned capabilities for RHEL, a surprise. We heard ‘Containers are Linux’ a lot of times, but in the public cloud it doesn’t matter what they run on. Customers care for SLAs, not for operating systems. And we heard a lot of pledges to Open Source – but everybody is using Open Source these days, Open Source has won, they question what Red Hat does better and different than the other players would be interesting to hear. The direction of multi-cloud is the right one, as we have seen from the success of other multi-cloud offerings, most prominently CloudFoundry. The question will be how much net new load Red Hat can attract for next generation application use cases – running in the (public) cloud, vs. existing RHEL and JBoss based load ‘just’ migrating to the cloud.

    On the concern side, Red Hat maybe running out of runway. The fact that all Innovation Award winners were not US based is a surprise for a US based event (yes Rackspace as a partner announcement is a US based vendors, but partner awards are always …. somewhat political). Compare that to the 2015 innovation award – where all winners were US based, except for one, Avianca. Public cloud adoption outside of the US is lagging, amongst many reasons largely because of the absence of public cloud vendor data centers. Consequently, enterprises hold on to older, proven best practices to run their enterprise loads. Likewise, an exposure to government customers (State of Jalisco, British Columbia, Singapore Govtech) gives room to highly beneficial use cases, but governments are in general not aggressive technology adopters. A trend to watch, possibly a fluke, maybe not.

    But for now, Red Hat is doing well, passionate customers and employees were all in the direction of the conference, which was about the individual making the different. But in developer terms, the individual needs the right tools (Red Hat provides Openshift.io), and platforms that provide portability in times of uncertainty (Red Hat offers OpenShift Container Platform) and offer attractive functionalities (the partnership with AWS comes to mind). So, good progress by Red Hat in the age of (public) cloud transformation of enterprise workloads. Stay tuned.

    More on Red Hat

    • Red Hat makes multi-cloud real, Google makes multi-PaaS real - read here

    More NextGenApps related blog posts of the last 6 months:
    • Progress Report - CenturyLink offers a new value proposition at Ascend 2017 - read here
    • Event Report - SProgress Report - MapR has platform ambitions - now it has to deliver AP Capital Markets and S/4HANA Update - Good Plan - Execution matters in 2017 - read here
    • Progress Report - Salesforce has a platform vision - 2017 it has to get real  - read here
    • Progress Report - MapR has platform ambitions - now it has to deliver  - read here
    • New Analysis - AWS has now data centers in Canada. Or is it data centres? Speaks "Canadian" now. Read here
    • Event Report - AWS reInvent 2016 - Growth at full speed - read here
    • New Analysis – Google enables citizen developers and developers with Google App Maker - read here
    • News Analysis - New IBM Bluemix Services Help Organizations Accelerate Data Migration to the Cloud - read here
    • First Take - Google enters enterprise software space with Google Jobs API - read here
    • Event Report - Microsoft Connect - No April's Fools - Linux, Google and more  - read here
    • Event Report - SAP TechEd Barcelona - Analytics, ML, PaaS and HANA 2  - read here
    • News Analysis - SAP to unveil HANA 2 - New platform vs a fork's tine - read here
    • Event Report - IBM World of Watson - IBM's bets its future on Watson - read here
    • News Analysis - Microsoft announces SAP's choice of Azure to help enterprises transform HR - The SaaS land grab is on - read here
    • News Analysis - VMware has found AWS as its public cloud IaaS  - read here
    • Event Report - Salesforce Dreamforce - It's not about Einstein - but the platform - read here
    • Event Report - SAP / Trenitalia Digital Summit - SAP is serious about IoT - read here
    • Event Report - Cloud Foundry Summit Europe - Europe & Cloud - A long path - read here
    Want to learn more? Checkout the Storify of Day #1 collection below (if it doesn’t show up – check here). And checkout the Analyst Day Storify here. And Day #2 here. And I had 10 Questions for Red Hat - see here.




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

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    Earlier this week Unit4 released Wanda, a bot that enhances and enriches the vendor’s vision of self-driving ERP. 

    As Wanda is the first – or one of the earliest bots shipping from an ERP vendor, it is worth to dissect the press release in our customary style, it can be found here.
    Unit4 releases its enterprise digital assistant, Wanda, a completely new out-of-the-box ERP user experience. A core component of its Spring ’17 launch, Wanda is an important milestone on Unit4’s journey to deliver self-driving enterprise software.
    MyPOV – Good summary, and kudos for being the first or one of the first ERP vendor with a bot / assistant.

    To ensure a natural user experience, Unit4 has built its digital assistant to be embedded in the user’s chosen interface, accessed through Skype, Slack, and Facebook messenger. Wanda provides a friendly and simple gateway to data in the Unit4 Business World ERP system, adding a level of intelligence and context to suggest actions and help users complete tasks quickly.
    MyPOV – Always good to learn early in a press release how ‘it is done’. Good to see Unit4 bringing Wanda (and with that access to its applications), to chat and communication platforms, where users do more and more work these days.

    Available as a cloud service out-of-the-box to all customers, Wanda requires no user training. It proactively helps people automate, prioritize and complete repetitive tasks in a fraction of the time it took before. Uniquely, users can communicate and interact with their enterprise systems in the same way they would with colleagues: through chat. Wanda even understands multiple topics mixed in a single thread. For the first time, employees can benefit from the data in their ERP system without logging in.
    MyPOV – And more on Wanda. Good to see the focus on repetitive tasks. This is bang for the buck for both Unit4 customers and the vendor. Multi topic supports puts Wanda on the forefront of chat agents… e.g. something that the popular Amazon Alexa is just learning to do (Google Assistant shipped with the ability from scratch). And not having to log-in to the ERP product will sound almost too good to be true for the average ERP user (and quickly become standard for assistant based interfaces).

    Wanda is built on Unit4’s People Platform, the engine behind the development of self-driving applications, powered by Microsoft Azure. It therefore benefits from the most sophisticated analytics and machine learning technology available today. Unit4 also utilizes Microsoft’s Language Understanding Intelligent Service (LUIS) giving Wanda the ability to understand what a person wants from the language they use. By using Microsoft’s technology as building blocks, it can now take people productivity to completely new levels. 
    MyPOV – Good to understand where Wanda is built on, given the partnership with Microsoft no surprise.

    “Convergence of conversational user experiences with augmented solutions that self-learn will fundamentally change how enterprise software serves people”
    Stephan Sieber, CEO Unit4
    MyPOV – Good and right on the money quote from Unit4 CEO Sieber.

    With Spring ’17, Wanda delivers customers a market leading bot architecture to build on for the future and five new assistants:
    · HR Assistant – Simple completion of HR-related employee self-service tasks like making absence requests and enquiring about holiday balances and pay slips.
    · Purchasing Assistant – For finding products & suppliers, generating requisitions and managing approvals.
    · Time Assistant – Automatically generates timesheets based on multiple data streams and GPS and beacon location data to track time.
    · Travel Assistant – Generates travel requests and manages approvals based on travel patterns and preferences. Auto-population of expense claims using receipt recognition technology.
    · Approval Assistant – Notifies and reminds managers to approve tasks and flags important tasks where deadlines are imminent.
    MyPOV – All assistants are limited (see the weekly newsletter from the home based assistant providers). Great choice with picking regular transactions that employees are still never familiar with like from HR Employee Self Service, Purchasing, Time and Approvals. It makes sure that Wanda is seen by a lot of Unit4 users and ensures wide adoption, making their lives considerably easier.

    “We are delivering the most helpful ERP in the market, a self-driving assistive and conversational user experience,” said Stephan Sieber, CEO of Unit4. “Microsoft’s broad consumer experience gives it an edge as a platform vendor, bringing consumerization to the enterprise and democratizing complex technology. We are using our expertise in designing and deploying this state of the art technology to support people’s productivity so they can create value for themselves and their organizations. Convergence of conversational user experiences with augmented solutions that self-learn will fundamentally change how enterprise software serves people.”
    MyPOV – Good quote from Sieber, hitting the popular democratization theme of partner Microsoft. But it really is about different usage of enterprise software. Voice and Touch are quickly replacing the keyboard and the click.

    Customer champions
    “Having business users spend time in back office systems that don’t help them reach their goals is not the best use of their talent,” said Roland Flutet, IT Service Manager at ACL. “The more time an employee spends adding value, the more successful our company will be. Wanda can help us do exactly that, by simplifying and accelerating administrative tasks such as expenses and travel booking via slack. I can’t wait to welcome Wanda into ACL.”
    “I am enthusiastic about incorporating AI and self-driving tech such as Unit4’s ‘Wanda’ into Heifer,” said Jesus Pizarro, VP Enterprise Accounting & Controller. “It will help us to increase efficiency across our entire portfolio of projects designed to help end poverty and hunger on a global scale. I cannot wait to see Wanda become a core member of our team.”
    “Wanda has the potential to revolutionize the accounts processing functions and significantly enhance the end user experience. It provides timely reminders and assistance to automate tasks that will help minimize the bureaucratic red tape for academic colleagues,” said Ian Sibbald, CFO, Cranfield University. “With McKinsey & Company predicting that technology could automate 45% of the activities people are paid to perform, Wanda shows in the real world how this is likely to happen over the coming years.”
    MyPOV – Always good to see customer quotes in a new product announcement.

    Overall MyPOV

    Always good to see innovation. Bots like Wanda are changing the user experience of ERP radically and lastingly, probably forever. Once voice and chat work as a user interaction, there is no way back for a user. Interesting enough it will create a temporary stickiness of ERP applications from the user side – who don’t want to go back to keyboard and old screens, logins etc. In a few years having to login to put in a time-off request, approve something will be anathema to employee engagement and user experience. The ERP industry has never seen this, maybe the closest was credit card downloads for expense management.

    So, overall good news for Unit4 customers, who can see that Unit4 is living up to its promise of self-driving ERP, that is people focused. Now we can’t wait to see and hear of the live customer proof points and ROI realized through Wanda.

    More on Unit4:
    • News Analysis - Unit4 announces Business World On – A modern ERP offering - read here
    • News Analysis - Unit4 announces integration with Slack - read here
    • News Analysis - Unit4 picks Microsoft Azure for ‘Self-Driving’ ERP vision - Cloud, Machine Learning, Office and PaaS are the attractors - read here
    • Progress Report - Unit4 lays out a big vision - now it needs to execute - read here
    • News Analysis - Unit4 acquires Three Rivers Systems - read here
    Find more coverage on the Constellation Research website here and checkout my magazine on Flipboard and my YouTube channel here



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    We had the opportunity to attend Microsoft’s yearly developer conference – Microsoft Build, held in Seattle from May 10th till 13th 2017. The event was back in Seattle, like in early days, and is probably the most international event from an attendee perspective I know off. A sign of Microsoft’s global scale and importance in the developer community.




    Watching beats reading – so take a look at this video first:




    No chance to watch – here is the one slide summary:






    Keep reading on my top takeaways:

    Azure DB support grows– Microsoft realizes how important databases are for the enterprise – and always has key database related news in store for Build, think back 2014 with running Oracle (on Linux) on Azure, Azure DB (2015), SQL Server DataLake (2016) etc. This year it was support for PostgreSQL and MySQL on Azure, the former found less applause from the audience than what I expected. But the key DB announcement was Cosmos DB, which is the latest version of DocumentDB, but so souped up, that Microsoft felt it warrants a new name. It’s a single interface for running worldwide distributed NoSQL, not only on DocumentDB, but also on MongoDB. The SLAs for this are close to fantastic, in less than 0.1s synch time across data centers around the world. One can wonder why Microsoft did this – but read on. Microsoft positioned Cosmos DB as multi modal, which is fair for the multiple flavors of NoSQL that are supported – but not so much for the 30k feet view on this which is the combination of SQL and NoSQL. But only what isn’t can still happen, we will see if Microsoft expands this to relational support (maybe combining the new PostgreSQL / MySQL abilities with MS SQL Server).

    Microsoft Build Holger Mueller Constellation Research
    Nadella opens Build


    Visual Studio gets richer, help the doers– Build is a developer conference, and the tool that Microsoft wants developers to use is Visual Studio. So, providing Visual Studio on more platforms (Mac Support), grasping Azure innovation (Azure Functions, container support) are all moves that are expected from Microsoft, but also boost productivity. Creating a UI abstraction layer to go along with Xamarin value proposition is more value along those directions. More Linux support coming to Windows 10 means it’s easier for developers to test on the same machine… and now they can even listen to their iTunes music (coming to the Windows Store). CLI support for the Azure console is equally something developer and sys admins will like, though CxOs may be less enthusiastic. And no conference without CI / CD where it gets easier to deploy and integrate code – in the extreme case all the way to the IoT edge, courtesy of a container.

     

    Microsoft Build Holger Mueller Constellation Research
    The Intelligent Cloud


    Azure Stack– Microsoft keeps hearing from customers that data residency is crucial, and no IaaS provider can have data centers in all countries yet, which requires close to 100 locations (estimated on current legislative and performance restrictions). So, Azure stack remains crucial for Microsoft – which is not playing the cloud only game – and uptake should be seen this summer. The re-start with partners (vs first party – how Microsoft calls hardware it builds itself) is almost there. Carnival Cruise lines was the poster customer for Azure stack. The real test will be for Microsoft to get the right subset of the overall Azure available in Azure stack. With Microsoft SaaS offering like Dynamics for Operations coming to Azure stack – this will be an offering with many (maybe too many) settings. Future will tell.

       
    Microsoft Build Holger Mueller Constellation Research
    Azure Cosmos DB Capabilities


    Bot Framework and AI are ready – No conference without AI, which really means machine learning. Impressive live translation demo with Cortana, and the plan to provide each user its very own neural network for speech recognition. And after launching the bot framework last year and Microsoft seeing good – but for its size only lukewarm – uptake, Microsoft is doubling down on its framework efforts, making it even easier for a non-AI, non-data scientist developer to build speech enabled bots. Unfortunately, the CaaP message from 2016 was heard only gingerly – hopefully not a disconnect.


    Tidbits

    Windows 10– Microsoft is doubling down on the creative side, with another Creator version coming in fall. The 3D remix, content sourcing, Story remix (is it the Moviemaker of the 21st century?) are all well done, built. A new graphics library makes rendering smoother, all good innovation. But I wonder if Microsoft is pushing too far on the creative side – vs the consumer of information side. We will see.

    Microsoft Graph– The real big news to stay for the next decade is Graph. From the humble beginnings in Delve, it is now the graph of all things Microsoft. Not only people, but devices – all the way down to the single file (here is why Microsoft needs Cosmos DB, in my view). It’s available as REST API to developers, with fine grained permission based access control and is basically becoming the meta model and storage model of all things Microsoft.

    MR vs VR– Past Builds have been dominated by the Microsoft ‘headable’ (as I call the PC aka Hololens) – not this time. Yes, a partnership with Cirque du Soleil was a nice demo, but no new spec, no Hololens 2, no adoption numbers. Even more interesting, a partner based low cost VR offering, using Hololens assets like location and motion sensors, is coming in fall / for the Christmas sales season. But it is a VR experience, not the touted MR (Mixed Reality). Under normal circumstances the cost for Hololens should be in a similar range by now – future will tell why Microsoft did this substantial change or at least addition in strategy.

    IoT– Microsoft sees a lot of IoT scenarios, no surprise it is one of the most popular seven universal next generation application use cases that we see. Being able to get more code to the edge of IoT is a good step, that should make it easier for enterprises to propagate their code across their IoT networks. What I missed are more templates, e.g. for vertical use cases, and maybe partnerships with IoT end point makers.

    Azure Fabric– The hidden platform behind Azure is the compute fabric, which is the magic sauce of any IaaS platform. And Azure Fabric is doing well – adding new instance types, new FPGA platforms, new nested virtualization capabilities. All things that enterprises want and need to consume when moving load to the public cloud.

    MyPOV

    A good Build conference for Microsoft, that missed the big BIG announcements. But too me it’s a good sign – that Microsoft is making things work, hence the good housekeeping. Delivering on synergies that customers expect because it all comes from one vendor, is a table stake, but something of big value for enterprises. And some things are really making long term promises real, all the way to Gates pen vision with the new UI framework that supports pen and ink much better. Or the web clip board that Ozzie dreamt of over a decade ago.

    On the concern side, there are only few things at the moment. Microsoft must clarify usage (and potential pricing as it consumes resources to use it) to the developer and ISV community. Biggest concern is probably Hololens, which was unusually quiet for a Build conference. Tacitly admitting that there is a lower end space for VR is one way as an indicator. I am sure the strategists in Redmond would have planned to have the Hololens for holiday shopping season 2017. Now it’s a partner strategy – but a fundamentally different experience – it is 100% VR – not mixed reality. And that middle of the road Windows 10 PCs can run this is a sign for a volume and low-price strategy – quite the opposite where the Hololens is these days. I think we will learn sooner or later more.

    But overall a good Build conference, that was like the weather in Seattle. Unusually and more sunny (aka better) than expected with a few showers on the last days (aka concerns above). 




    Take a look at the Storify below from Day #1 and here for Day #2. 

    More on Microsoft:
    • Down Report – Power failure takes Azure services down - 3 Cloud Load Toads - read here
    • Event Report - Microsoft Connect - No April's Fools - Linux, Google and more  - read here
    • First Take - Microsoft discovers teams - launches Microsoft Teams - read here
    • News Analysis - Microsoft announces SAP's choice of Azure to help enterprises transform HR  - The SaaS land grab is on  - read here
    • First Take - Microsoft Ignite - AI, Adobe and FPGA [From the Fences] - read here
    • News Analysis - GE and Microsoft partner to bring Predix to Azure - Multi-Cloud becomes tangible for IoT - read here
    • Market Move - Microsoft acquired Linked - Tons of synergies, start with Cortana, maybe too many - read here
    • News Analysis - Microsoft opens Windows Holographic to partners for a new era of mixed reality - read here
    • News Analysis - SAP and Microsoft usher in new era of partnership to accelerate digital transformation in the cloud - read here
    • Musings - Will Microsoft's Hololens transform the Future of Work? Read here
    • Event Report - Microsoft Build 2016 - A platform vision and plenty of tools for next generation applications - read here
    • First Take - Microsoft Build 2016 - Day 1 Keynote Takeaways - read here
    • Event Preview - Microsoft Build 2016 - Top 3 Things to watch for developers, managers and execs...  read here
    • News Analysis - Microsoft - New Hybrid Offerings Deliver Bottomless Capacity for Today's Data Explosion - read here
    • News Analysis - Welcoming the Xamarin team to Microsoft - read here
    • News Analysis - Microsoft announcements at Convergence Barcelona - Office365. Dynamics CRM and Power Apps 
    • News Analysis - Microsoft expands Azure Data Lake to unleash big data productivity - Good move - time to catch up - read here
    • News Analysis - Microsoft and Salesforce Strengthen Strategic Partnership at Dreamforce 2015 - Good for joint customers - read here
    • News Analyis - NetSuite announced Cloud Alliance with Microsoft - read here
    • Event Report - Microsoft Build - Microsoft really wants to make developers' lives easier - read here
    • First Hand with Microsoft Hololens - read here
    • Event Report - Microsoft TechEd - Top 3 Enterprise takeaways - read here
    • First Take - Microsoft discovers data ambience and delivers an organic approach to in memory database - read here
    • Event Report - Microsoft Build - Azure grows and blossoms - enough for enterprises (yet)? Read here.
    • Event Report - Microsoft Build Day 1 Keynote - Top Enterprise Takeaways - read here.
    • Microsoft gets even more serious about devices - acquire Nokia - read here.
    • Microsoft does not need one new CEO - but six - read here.
    • Microsoft makes the cloud a platform play - Or: Azure and her 7 friends - read here.
    • How the Cloud can make the unlikeliest bedfellows - read here.
    • How hard is multi-channel CRM in 2013? - Read here.
    • How hard is it to install Office 365? Or: The harsh reality of customer support - read here.

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

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    We had the opportunity to attend SAP’s yearly user conference SapphireNow, held in Orlando from May 15th till 18th 2017. The conference was well attended, with SAP stating 30k attendees making it to the Florida swamps. The conference floor layout remains beautiful and unconventional, with no separation of keynote, show floor and sessions. It is my most favorite conference setup during the event year, unfortunately I usually can only run across the floor and not experience it. 




    So, take a look at my musings on the event here: (if the video doesn’t show up, check here)




    No time to watch – here is the 1 slide condensation 

    (if the slide doesn’t show up, check here):




    Want to read on? Here you go: As I do with major events – I share my top three positives and top three concerns.

    Top 3 Positives

    Leonardo– SAP unveiled a new offering, running on top of SAP Cloud platform and bringing together existing products and offerings (Analytics, IoT), nascent offerings (e.g. Machine Learning) and brand new offerings (e.g. Blockchain) as well as pre-natal ones (BigData and Data Intelligence), all with the purpose to enable SAP customers to build solutions in the age of Digital Transformation. But products, offerings and technology aren’t enough, to get the customer requirements, SAP wants to run Design Thinking workshops with customers, starting in Q3. That’s a very different and new approach for a standard application vendor (or SaaS if you will), more of the consulting offering of a system integrator or a consulting company. SAP would not be SAP if it would not plan to enable partners in the near future. Last but not least the Leonardo offerings and products require a different licensing approach: While traditionally enterprises had to buy and license products before they could experiment, SAP plans to provide products during the Design Thinking projects free of charge. So, a very new offering, go to market, implementation and licensing approach. Hopefully SAP doesn’t create confusion around Leonardo now, nobody wants a HANA confusion repeat.

    Holger Mueller Constellation Research SAP SapphireNow 2017
    McDermott opens SapphireNow

    In the past I have often criticized SAP to bring it’s R/3 code into S/4HANA. Despite all improvements, simplifications, it means 20th century best practices are being baked into a 21st century offering. With technology disruption (most prominently BigData and Deep Learning) a complete new set of business best practices will have to evolve. Plattner nailed half of the equation how he learnt Finance by ICI in the 70ies and created finance software. The problem for all SaaS vendors is – enterprises don’t know the best practices of the 21st century – yet. They need to experiment, risk, fail and win. This phase is a nightmare for SaaS vendors – as they want to sell the same software to 1000s of enterprises. This is why Leukert was right in his keynote to call [PaaS] a life line for enterprises (and SaaS vendors). When enterprises find no fit in SaaS software, they need to build for these new practices. SaaS vendors with no PaaS – or not good enough capabilities will lose these enterprises to PaaS vendors… With this background, SAP’s move with Leonardo is truly honest in the implicit confession that the new best practices need to be fleshed out in … Leonardo projects. 

    Holger Mueller Constellation Research SAP SapphireNow 2017
    Impressive SAP Stats


    SAP is out of the IaaS business– and more Google. When SAP announced the Azure partnership at Sapphire 2016, I predicted that this was the end of SAP’s IaaS ambitions. At Sapphire 2017 SAP stopped short of saying this explicitly, but with Google’s Greene on stage with Leukert, SAP has now partnerships with Microsoft, AWS and Google (and don’t forget IBM, the first partner in fall 2014). It makes sense for SAP not to focus on IaaS after a few failed inhouse attempts and to focus on PaaS and SaaS (and more DaaS – see below). And AWS, Google and Microsoft are doing all they can for the SAP load, all announced new memory rich instance types (because of HANA’s RAMetite (RAM + Appetite = RAMetite). Good for SAP customers and good for SAP, as a better return of R&D can now be expected from SAP and more CAPEX for R&D (I would hope).

     
    Holger Mueller Constellation Research SAP SapphireNow 2017
    All SAP SaaS Properties


    Empathy lived– Last year McDermott used empathy as the Leitmotiv of Sapphire. 12 months later SAP has made progress, but the verdict remains open if a technology vendor can be empathetic with its customers. The good news for SAP customers is that the effort remains on going, is genuine and shows some promising data points. No better proof point than McDermott announcing free static reads to data, along the line ‘it’s your data’ – in the overall indirect access turmoil that SAP has gotten itself into. Falling back to the proven engine pricing for order interfaces has worked for SAP in the past. SAP now has to define what ‘static access’ means operationally and bring more clarifications to the indirect access dilemma. The good news is that in conversations with random customers, most have stated tender beginnings of SAP becoming more empathetic with customers. It’s a marathon here, and we have not even reached 5k mark. The direction is good for SAP vis a vis its core competitor Oracle, which has an ultra-marathon ahead (to use the same analogy), should Oracle even decide to run in this race.


    Top 3 Concerns

    S/4HANA adoption– SAP pulled a key trick from the high-tech vendor bags of tricks: If you don’t have a good story (S/4HANA adoption) tell a new one (Leonardo). The truth is simple, it takes a long time to build a new ERP suite. It took Oracle almost 10 years, why would it be dramatically faster for SAP, at the end it’s the same functionality. And as much as customer love simple, too simple doesn’t run their business, hence the very low S/4HANA cloud adoption numbers. But not addressing the adoption, way forward and roadmap in the keynote leaves the install base empty handed and many SAP customers will travel home with the new Leonardo story – but not much keynote coverage for ECC, Suite on HANA and even S/4HANA customers. If this was an accident or deliberate omission doesn’t matter, and SAP can fix this with Solution Manager and Transformation Navigator.

     
    Holger Mueller Constellation Research SAP SapphireNow 2017
    Greene & Leukert


    SAP & Hadoop – it remains rocky – A regular reader knows the concerns I have articulated many times with SAP – the lack of support for ‘spinning rust’ – aka HDD, aka ultra large cheap storage of digital information. Literally every next generation application scenario that creates digital disruption runs on Hadoop and uses MapReduce to understand data. I ask Plattner the question every time I can at Sapphire and got mildly optimistic, when Plattner agreed SAP needs a story here (after, body language doesn’t lie and an audible of then CTO Clark on ‘social networks’) in 2015: SAP mustered Vora as a response, but Vora suffers the same in-memory malaise like HANA being constrained to Spark. On Wednesday Plattner ‘relapsed’ to the ‘HANA can index external data and then bring in data as needed’, but that approach degrades HANA to an (way too expensive cache) on top of PB of Hadoop data. My hope is that SAP will get aware of this gap in its capabilities with the Leonardo workshops. If they are truly transformative, Hadoop support will be flagged in almost every one of them. Today the lack of native Hadoop / MapReduce makes the ‘lifeline’ that Leukert mentioned very thin to not existing for customers looking at SAP Cloud Platforms. SAP IoT capabilities are hamstrung without Hadoop / MapReduce and a warning sign for Leonardo scenarios that risk to be sub par.
     
     
    Holger Mueller Constellation Research SAP SapphireNow 2017
    Leonardo


    The sprawling SAP portfolio– As important and probably the right move Leonardo is, it’s another offering for SAP to create, maintain and operate. At the same time, SAP operates literally a ‘zoo’ of technology across Ariba, Concur, Fieldglass, Hybris, SuccessFactors and on. And as good as pragmatism in regards of this heterogeneity is in the short term, SAP needs to address it in the long term. The long time it takes for SAP to make Fiori real across this vast portfolio is telling and it is ‘only’ a UX. With conversational interfaces replacing UX as we know it, the rollout of Fiori gets overtaken by UX innovation. A warning sign for any application vendor. Plattner plead for higher development speed maybe be based on the same realization.

    And the vast SAP portfolio has repercussions for enterprises, from the ‘fasten your seat belt’ user experience to incompatible extension frameworks and a higher TCO in system administration (doesn’t matter if it’s born by the SAP customer or SAP itself, a $ spend more in admin is a $ missing somewhere else). It would be good (and empathetic!) for SAP to identify the long, long convergence roadmap of the product portfolio.


    Tidbits

    SAP and Machine Learning – In a presentation of SAP Chief Innovation Officer (is that a CIO or CInO?) Juergen Moeller we learnt that SAP has chosen Google Tensorflow as its neural network framework of choice. Not a hard decision, as Tensorflow is winning the Machine Learning race on what is really working at the moment, neural networks, best self (or deep) learning neural networks. Google’s leadership and the cross-platform portability makes this the right decision for SAP.

    SAP Cloud Platform – Is getting attention and spotlight it needs and deserves, see the Leukert quote. Good that SAP CP remained out of the Leonardo offerings, it needs to be the platfom for SAP going forward, not part of the family of new technologies that are ingredients for digital transformation. As such it needs to be good enough to host Leonardo offerings and bridge the various runtimes it operates (CloudFoundry, Neo and now even (likely Kubernetes) and somewhere there is an ABAP server that runs S/4HANA). The good news is that freshly minted CTO Goehrke is keenly aware of the challenges, one can only wish him and the team good luck (and resources).

    HANA and Vora– are both rolling on towards SP2 for later in the year. Adoption of HANA Express is well, prominently feature in the SAP and Google partnership. With the IaaS vendors racing to provide larger memory instances, HANA gets more viable in regards of a platform for SAP and beyond SAP use cases. Important for the product for the impeding Leonardo projects.

    SAP Digital– The unit headed by former CMO Becher always has a good and interesting idea at events. This time it was a SIM card that can be used for IoT. SAP connoisseurs will know that SAP acquired a substantial telco business in the Sybase ‘Goodie bag’ – with Sybase 365. SAP can offer a SIM card based on the relationships with telecom providers worldwide, as Sybase 365 drives almost all SMS and MMS traffic worldwide. An interesting offering to solve the last mile IoT challenge, which depending on the perspective can really also be the first mile.

    SAP Data Network– We caught up with former CIO Arnold who is now heading the SAP Data Network, a startup inside of SAP that is chartered with moving SAP in the DaaS age. The group partners with customers in rapid projects to bring more value to their data. The two first projects – benchmarking on SAP Fieldglass data and re-thinking the elevator installation experience with a prominent elevator manufacturer are the two first showcases. It is good to see SAP thinking about DaaS, which has to become a substantial revenue stream for SAP customers (and SAP) going forward

    The Build Tool becomes (even) more prominent– One of the best moves in the industry to empower the long tail of usability – the screens only few users use operate have usability challenges with – is the SAP Build tool. I called it UXaaS at the time, as it empowers end users to take their usability destiny in their own hands. No surprise – Build will be a key tool in the Leonardo Design Thinking workshops. We will be watching.

    Fiori & Co-Pilot– Fiori is now 4 years old, and with SAP tackling pricing issues 3 years ago – should be widely adopted across the variety of SAP products, but it isn’t. Technology stack challenges and diversity, customer and competitive pressures another reason to not get to a common Fiori look & feel. With the rise of conversational interfaces, SAP us creating the SAP Co-Pilot, but not many details are available. With Google announcing Google Assistant for iOS the other day (and bringing the Google voice recognition to iOS) the answer for the voice recognition part is given. That chairman Plattner wants to work with Apple is interesting on the topic, but reveals some need to catch up on the latest in speech recognition (Google is miles ahead now).

    Customer References– SAP did a good job with customers using their new products. We learnt on the IoT uptake from a Latin American agricultural vehicle provider, we learnt how SAP CP helped create a unique customer experience at an automotive manufacturer and how SAP HANA and Vora allow banks to improve their anti-money laundering activities. All good examples what SAP can do, and how early adopters are using its products.

    SAP & Apple gains steam– With the joint Fiori SDK now available, SAP customers are building iOS apps. We learnt about a European gas station network that allows to pay via smartphone at the pump. And even more interesting, delivering shop products to customer busy at the car filling up. Innovative, possibly disruptive capabilities that the partnership has enabled. With 2 week training initiatives on the way, the developer community can now learn how to build Apple / SAP Fiori apps. If it will increase device sales, the original hope of Apple, remains to be seen.

    IBM Watson to make SAP Ariba more intelligent (and Procurement awesome)– On SAP Ariba’s quest to make procurement awesome, intelligence has never hurt. And IBM Watson can help making purchasing contracts more intelligent. IBM also has a small army of consultants that can help with the effort, as well as help the Emptoris customers to use new Ariba / Warson capabilities. A good example of what is possible when ‘elephants’ like SAP and IBM partner – plenty of synergies all around.

    SAP Hybris Innovation Labs– At the Hybris reception, we had the chance to take a look on what is coming from the innovation labs in Munich, conveniently in a windowless room in Orlando. The infinite shopping cart allows shoppers to pick up a NFC device in a store, scan products of interest and store them on a barcode at exit. The same barcode can then later have used to bring the cart ‘alive’ again e.g. in a browser. The other demo was a conversation with the Hybris assistant Charly, about a conversation based shopping experience. Charly knows about location and speech recognition was very good – all the way to power a transaction. Both are interesting showcases what next gen applications can do to disrupt retail.

    SuccessFactors keep eliminating Bias– Last year SuccessFactors unveiled its plans to use machine learning to eliminate bias in HR decisions. 12 months later there is progress and encouraging results. Check out the Facebook video on a conversation with Dr. Gabby Burlacu and Patty Fletcher (see here). I also had the chance to catch up with Ludlow on the latest development at SuccessFactors, having missed the analyst summit, and good things are coming later this year (can’t say more).

    Developer Outreach– Always good to meet with the developer evangelists Grassl and Cmehil, though force in unusual attire by SAP dress code. But they survived the attire and are always at the forefront of SAP going beyond its traditional ecosystem, with reach out to CloudFoundry, Microsoft, AWS and more recently Google.

    Transformation Navigator– What’s the default response of a software company to a problem? More software – and the Transformation Navigator is the answer here. Customers can see what they could achieve if they move from point A to B. B includes S/4HANA as well as existing and future Leonardo offerings. A good approach to empower the customer – but also an effective way to reduce the resilience on sales people to share roadmaps – and replacing them with a consistent tool. We will see how successful the Transformation Navigator will be in a few quarters.


    MyPOV

    A good Sapphire for SAP customers and SAP, sensibly improved over the 2016 edition, with better keynotes and an exciting as well as necessary new offering with Leonardo. SAP keeps pushing on all fronts, it now needs to make sure that SAP Cloud Platform can run Leonardo, doesn’t get spread too thin across different IaaS infrastructures. And SAP takes a gamble with Leonardo Design Thinking workshops – what if the needed capabilities are not with SAP Leonardo (yet) but the customer needs and wants to transform? And goes elsewhere? But by now there is no way back.

    Effectively SAP is telling customers, don’t worry too much about S/4HANA, digital disruption will shake and rock your enterprise before you make that decision. Leonard is here to prepare you for the digital storm to come – or even become a digital disruptor. The rest of ERP, no matter if ECC, Suite on HANA or S/4HANA will be a 2nd class of priority problem. A taxi company disrupted by Uber or Lyft is also not worried about its call center solution, but to get a mobile app with superior customer experience out there. And in the meantime, SAP can get S/4HANA in the shape that complex SAP customers can move to it – maybe in a few years. A lot of reading between the lines from yours truly, take it with a grain of salt.

    Exciting times ahead.


    Want to learn more? Checkout the Storify collection below, it's about the Day #1 keynote, the Day #2 keynote is here and the 10 Questions I had before SapphireNow are here. (if it doesn’t show up – check here).




    More on SAP:
    • News Analysis - SAP reshuffles Executive Board - sets up for next 5 years - read here
    • Event Report - SAP Ariba Live - The quest to make Procurement awesome - read here
    • Event Report - SAP Capital Markets and S/4HANA Update - Good Plan - Execution matters in 2017 - read here
    • News Analysis -SAP Introduces Jump-Start Enablement Program for SAP Leonardo IoT Portfolio >> Bundling and Simplification matter for IoT - read here
    • Event Report - Event Report - SAP TechEd Barcelona - Analytics, ML, PaaS and HANA 2  - read here
    • News Analysis - SAP to unveil HANA 2 - New platform vs a fork's tine - read here
    • News Analysis - Microsoft announces SAP's choice of Azure to help enterprises transform HR - The SaaS land grab is on - read here
    • Event Report - SAP / Trenitalia Digital Summit - SAP is serious about IoT - read here
    • First Take - SAP BW/4HANA - Data Gravity and Cloud win - read here
    • Event Report - SAP SuccessFactors SConnect - Push on all fronts - read here
    • Event Report - SAP Insider Vienna - HCP, BI and SuccessFactors are the takeaways - read here
    • Event Report - SAP Sapphire 2016 - Top 3 Positives & Concerns: SAP changes - probably for the better - read here
    • First Take - SAP Sapphire Day #2 Keynote - read here
    • News Analysis - SAP and Microsoft usher in new era of partnership to accelerate digital transformation in the cloud - read here
    • First Take -  SAP Sapphire Bill McDermott Day #1 Keynote - read here
    • Event Preview - SAP Sapphire 2016 - What to expect and look for - read here
    • News Analysis - Apple & SAP Partner to Revolutionize Work on iPhone & iPad - read here
    • Progress Report - SAP SuccessFactors makes good progress - now needs appeal beyond SAP - read here
    • News Analysis - SAP HANA Vora now available... - A key milestone for SAP - read here
    • Event Report - SAP Ariba Live - Make Procurement Cool Again - read here
    • News Analysis - SAP SuccessFactors innovates in Performance Management with continuous feedback powered by 1 to 1s  - read here
    • Event Report - SAP SuccessFactors SuccessConnect - Good Progress sprinkled with innovative ideas and challenging the status quo - read here
    • News Analysis - WorkForce Software Announces Global Reseller Agreement with SAP - read here
    • First Take - SAP SuccessFactors SuccessConnect - Day #1 Keynote Top 3 Takeaways - read here
    • News Analysis - SAP SuccessFactors introduces Next Generation of HCM software - read here
    • News Analysis - SAP delivers next release of SAP HANA - SPS 10 - Ready for BigData and IoT - read here
    • Event Report - SAP Sapphire - Top 3 Positives and Concerns - read here
    • First Take - Bernd Leukert and Steve Singh Day #2 Keynote - read here
    • News Analysis - SAP and IBM join forces ... read here
    • First Take - SAP Sapphire Bill McDermott Day #1 Keynote - read here
    • In Depth - S/4HANA qualities as presented by Plattner - play for play - read here
    • First Take - SAP Cloud for Planning - the next spreadsheet killer is off to a good start - read here
    • Progress Report - SAP HCM makes progress and consolidates - a lot of moving parts - read here
    • First Take - SAP launches S/4HANA - The good, the challenge and the concern - read here
    • First Take - SAP's IoT strategy becomes clearer - read here
    • SAP appoints a CTO - some musings - read here
    • Event Report - SAP's SAPtd - (Finally) more talk on PaaS, good progress and aligning with IBM and Oracle - read here
    • News Analysis - SAP and IBM partner for cloud success - good news - read here
    • Market Move - SAP strikes again - this time it is Concur and the spend into spend management - read here
    • Event Report - SAP SuccessFactors picks up speed - but there remains work to be done - read here
    • First Take - SAP SuccessFactors SuccessConnect - Top 3 Takeaways Day 1 Keynote - read here.
    • Event Report - Sapphire - SAP finds its (unique) path to cloud - read here
    • What I would like SAP to address this Sapphire - read here
    • News Analysis - SAP becomes more about applications - again - read here
    • Market Move - SAP acquires Fieldglass - off to the contingent workforce - early move or reaction? Read here.
    • SAP's startup program keep rolling – read here.
    • Why SAP acquired KXEN? Getting serious about Analytics – read here.
    • SAP steamlines organization further – the Danes are leaving – read here.
    • Reading between the lines… SAP Q2 Earnings – cloudy with potential structural changes – read here.
    • SAP wants to be a technology company, really – read here
    • Why SAP acquired hybris software – read here.
    • SAP gets serious about the cloud – organizationally – read here.
    • Taking stock – what SAP answered and it didn’t answer this Sapphire [2013] – read here.
    • Act III & Final Day – A tale of two conference – Sapphire & SuiteWorld13 – read here.
    • The middle day – 2 keynotes and press releases – Sapphire & SuiteWorld – read here.
    • A tale of 2 keynotes and press releases – Sapphire & SuiteWorld – read here.
    • What I would like SAP to address this Sapphire – read here.
    • Why 3rd party maintenance is key to SAP’s and Oracle’s success – read here.
    • Why SAP acquired Camillion – read here.
    • Why SAP acquired SmartOps – read here.
    • Next in your mall – SAP and Oracle? Read here

    And more about SAP technology:
    • Event Prieview - SAP TechEd 2015 - read here
    • News Analysis - SAP Unveils New Cloud Platform Services and In-Memory Innovation on Hadoop to Accelerate Digital Transformation – A key milestone for SAP read here
    • HANA Cloud Platform - Revisited - Improvements ahead and turning into a real PaaS - read here
    • News Analysis - SAP commits to CloudFoundry and OpenSource - key steps - but what is the direction? - Read here.
    • News Analysis - SAP moves Ariba Spend Visibility to HANA - Interesting first step in a long journey - read here
    • Launch Report - When BW 7.4 meets HANA it is like 2 + 2 = 5 - but is 5 enough - read here
    • Event Report - BI 2014 and HANA 2014 takeaways - it is all about HANA and Lumira - but is that enough? Read here.
    • News Analysis – SAP slices and dices into more Cloud, and of course more HANA – read here.
    • SAP gets serious about open source and courts developers – about time – read here.
    • My top 3 takeaways from the SAP TechEd keynote – read here.
    • SAP discovers elasticity for HANA – kind of – read here.
    • Can HANA Cloud be elastic? Tough – read here.
    • SAP’s Cloud plans get more cloudy – read here.
    • HANA Enterprise Cloud helps SAP discover the cloud (benefits) – read here

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


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    Informatica had its user conference Infa17 this week in San Francisco, from May 15th till May 18th2017. We had the chance to be there on Monday, and actually speak about MDM trends (see the Storify here).

    As usual user conferences come with a flurry of press releases, this one was no difference – let me dissect in the custom style, it can be found here:
    Expands key capabilities of iPaaS to include end-to-end data management
    Advances productivity with CLAIRE – metadata-driven Artificial Intelligence
    Scales enterprise-wide to manage complex hybrid data environments
    Adheres to the broadest security certifications MyPOV – A fair summary, these press releases are a bit too long, when the PR folks realize they need a bullet list of content items at the beginning.
    Informatica World, SAN FRANCISCO, Calif., May 16, 2017 – Informatica, the Enterprise Cloud Data Management leader accelerating data-driven digital transformation, today announced Informatica Intelligent Cloud Services, the most advanced Integration Platform as a Service (iPaaS) solution available for end-to-end enterprise cloud data management. Informatica Intelligent Cloud Services will feature a next-generation user experience based on a modern API-based microservices architecture, powered by Informatica’s innovative enterprise unified metadata intelligence - known as CLAIRE Engine.
    MyPOV – Great summary, described what is happening and bridges between well know iPaaS to microservices and AI, introducing the CLAIRE engine.
     

    Informatica Intelligent Cloud Services expands Informatica’s leading application and data integration iPaaS capabilities to now include critical end-to-end cloud data management. This includes industry leading and enterprise-class data integration, API management, application integration, data quality and governance, master data management and data security, all re-imagined for the cloud. Informatica Intelligent Cloud Services is built on the Informatica Intelligent Data Platform™, and has reimagined the front- and back-end experience for the modern cloud environment, enabling organizations to efficiently unleash the power of all their data, wherever it resides, to fuel successful digital transformation initiatives.
    MyPOV – Ok more detail, and a reminder all is on one single platform – the Informatica Intelligent Data Platform.
    “As the industry’s number one iPaaS leader, we are driving innovation in this market,” said Amit Walia, executive vice president and chief product officer, Informatica. “With this launch, we are completely re-inventing iPaaS. We are delivering the industry’s broadest end-to-end data management solution for the cloud, with a next-generation user experience running on an API-based microservices architecture. Powered by metadata and Artificial Intelligence, we help enterprises accelerate their cloud-powered digital transformations.”
    MyPOV – Good quote rom Walia. Everybody wants to re-invent things these days, but when putting AI into action, it truly has the potential of doing things differently. My concern is that Informatica uses ‘old’ terms like e.g. metadata. No need to talk about metadata in the AI era. More below.

    Data Management Reimagined for Cloud
    Informatica Intelligent Cloud Services moves past the traditional definition of iPaaS to include cloud data integration, cloud application and process integration, API management and connectivity. Informatica Intelligent Cloud Services delivers the industry’s first, and only, family of clouds that provides industry-leading data management capabilities, powered by CLAIRE from Informatica.
    MyPOV – Ok – this is the third – and different collection of what the iPaaS does, maybe with a data management angle.


    The family of clouds available in Informatica Intelligent Cloud Services include:
    Informatica Integration Cloud– Modern digital strategies require a variety of integration approaches and patterns. Integration Cloud greatly expands the traditional definition of iPaaS to include advanced, unique functionality, such as Integration Hub and B2B. This also includes application integration, data integration and API management. For example, Cloud Integration Hub provides pub-sub-hub integration capabilities for hybrid data management.
    Informatica Data Quality & Governance Cloud– Modern digital strategies require trusted data. Data Quality & Governance Cloud includes functionality that delivers the data quality and governance foundation for all cloud projects and initiatives. For example, Cloud Data Quality Radar provides the ability to assess and fix data quality issues within cloud applications, such as Salesforce and Marketo.
    Informatica Master Data Management Cloud– Modern digital strategies require authoritative data. Master Data Management Cloud provides single, complete and accurate views across all forms of master data, in a single source of truth. For example, Cloud Customer 360 for Salesforce provides cloud MDM capabilities that scale to the most demanding enterprise requirements with a laser focus on business self-service and self-management of master data.
    Future Clouds – Additional, modular data management clouds, products and solutions will be seamlessly added to Informatica Intelligent Cloud Services over time.MyPOV – So what used to be once products are now ‘clouds’. The separation between integration, data management and then data quality and governance makes sense as these are the organic organization and breaking points how data handling organizations are setup. Good to see Informatica leaving the door open for future clouds aka products.
    Adopting cloud and using data to drive disruption requires excellence in data management. The innovative combination of a modern user experience and API-based microservices architecture, built on the industry’s only Intelligent Data Platform powered by CLAIRE, enables Informatica Intelligent Cloud Services to deliver increased productivity and address new use cases, at scale.
    MyPOV – Another collection of capabilities, would be good to have an example or customer proof point.

    Next-Generation Experience and Architecture: Innovative Approach for Maximum Productivity
    All the clouds that comprise Informatica Intelligent Cloud Services share a consistent, next-generation user experience across the entire spectrum of data management capabilities. The API-based microservices architecture delivers common services (e.g., user authentication, workflow creation, asset management, search, tagging, and more) that not only look the same, but also operate exactly the same wherever they are invoked across the cloud. This user experience dramatically reduces the learning curve for new tools and drives self-service across the environment.
    MyPOV – Always good to mention suite level benefits – and this time making them tangible with examples. Consistency and synergies is what enterprises want to see when they buy multiple, suite integrated products from the same vendor.

    The reimagined next-generation user experience includes a single, personalized home page with tiles for items such as personal tasks and connections, plus tiles that are dashboards for the projects that person has underway in each of the data management clouds. This home page gives them visibility and access to all the data management projects they may have underway across all the clouds of Informatica Intelligent Cloud Services.
    MyPOV - It's never enough to offer great capability and functionality behind the scenes, it has to been seen and experience by the user. Good to see the UX progress, which frankly was an area where Informatica has been challenged in the past, particularly in terms of consistency. Good to see the tile approach for UX - which has worked well across the industry to bring information together consistently for multiple user roles. 


    Additionally, the new microservices are based on open REST APIs. This will enable a continued rapid pace of innovation for Informatica, allowing the company to bring new services and advance existing services at a rapid pace. It will also enable quick integration with customer and partner reference architectures.
    MyPOV - An overdue move, good nonetheless. REST has won and it's time to adopt it for vendors. 

    Powered by CLAIRE: Intelligence Throughout the Cloud
    CLAIRE—with clairvoyance in mind and AI in the center—is the industry’s most advanced metadata-driven Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology and is embedded in the Informatica Intelligent Data Platform. CLAIRE delivers intelligence to the entire portfolio of Informatica data management solutions that includes data integration, master data management, data quality and governance, data security, cloud data management, and big data management capabilities. CLAIRE delivers AI by applying machine learning to technical, business, operational and usage metadata across the entire enterprise. This scale and scope of metadata is transformational and allows CLAIRE to help data and integration developers by partially or fully automating many tasks, while business users find it easier to locate and prepare the data they are looking for from anywhere in the enterprise. Meanwhile, data scientists gain a faster understanding of data and data stewards find it easier to visualize data relationships.
    MyPOV – Good intro and explanation of CLAIRE, though vague on detail in regards of machine learning algorithms, platform, pricing and so on – but it is early days.

    Enterprise-wide Management for a Hybrid World
    Informatica Intelligent Cloud Services is built to enable enterprises to run complex hybrid environments. It provides operational insights delivered through a single dashboard for monitoring and managing all data management clouds and products and their data. Customers benefit from easy connectivity to all cloud, on-premise and big data sources across the enterprise using pre-built Informatica connectors.
    MyPOV – We live in world of multi-cloud and hybrid systems – integrations in general and MDM in specific needs to span across them – so it is good to see Informatica providing a single pane of glass and tools on a common platform.

    Cloud with Industry-leading Security and Trust
    Informatica Intelligent Cloud Services is built for the enterprise with security as a core design principle. It has the following certifications and standards for industry leading security:
    AICPA SOC 2 Type 2 and SOC 3 attestations.
    Externally audited HIPAA compliance.
    ISO 27000-aligned Information Security Management System, and EU-US Privacy Shield and compliance security program.
    Member of Cloud Security Alliance and Salesforce AppExchange certified.
    MyPOV – Security remains the top – or one of the top 3 concerns of cloud users, so it is good that Informatica seeks security certifications that help address these concerns.

    Overall MyPOV

    Informatica is in the transition from on premises to the cloud, what started gingerly a year ago at INFA16 is now in full swing and available at INFA17. And a cloud platform brings new capabilities e.g. in the area of Machine Learning, and as we are in the ‘buzzword AI’ age – the AI assistants are coming. Good to see CLAIRE being launched, we have to understand a little bit better what she does, where she lives, how she is educated, and what other needs she have (thanks for staying with the metaphor).

    On the concern side, Informatica use some older vocabulary, and vocabulary is also an indicator for thinking. Metadata was the gold in integration mechanisms of the past. Take a look – to make it not contentious – at Google Photos: Users do not flag or tag pictures anymore. Machine Learning does. That there is a tagging (or metadata) repository underneath it – of course – but users never see that. It isn’t even exposed. If integration vendors will go so far remains to be seen – but with the rise of AI – CLAIRE will take care of the metadata, Informatica user should not know, see and talk about it – just use it the same way people use Google Photos. A high ask, but with a big prize.

    Overall a good INFA17, Informatica is running on all cylinders, the PE investment seems not to hinder the execution, the vendor is moving fast, which is great news for customers and prospects. For enterprises in general, as the integration problems only get bigger for the foreseeable future.



    Want to learn more? Checkout the Storify below.

    More on Informatica:
    • Event Report - Informatica World 2016 - The Cloud is the new platform - read here
    • News Analysis - Informatica announces new cloud capabilities - Keep up the Salesforce ecosystem play - read here
    • Event Report - Informatica World 2015 - Product Progress and New Approaches - read here
    • News Analysis - Informatica's Sohaib Abbasi showcases Innovations for the Age of Engagement - read here
    • Future of Work - One spreadsheet at a time, Informatica Springbok - read here
    • Informatica pushes the cloud integration stakes - read here.


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


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    [South Africa has 11 official languages – and as I start blogs on a new IaaS locations with the local language ‘being learnt’ by the provider, I took the alphabetically first and last language.]

    Microsoft made the announcement to bring Azure to South Africa recently. Data Center locations mater from both a constitutional and data residency – as well as a performance perspective.



    So let’s take apart Scott Guthrie’s blog, which can be found here:
    May 18, 2017 – Johannesburg, South Africa – Today Microsoft revealed plans to deliver the complete, intelligent Microsoft Cloud for the first time from datacenters located in Africa. This new investment is a major milestone in the company’s mission to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more, and a recognition of the enormous opportunity for digital transformation in Africa.
    MyPOV – Good to see the intent, in line with the general Microsoft Azure (or is it now the Microsoft Cloud?) value pitch of being the intelligent cloud.
    Expanding on existing investments, Microsoft will deliver cloud services, including Microsoft Azure, Office 365, and Dynamics 365, from datacenters located in Johannesburg and Cape Town, South Africa with initial availability anticipated in 2018. The new cloud regions will offer enterprise-grade reliability and performance combined with data residency to help enable the tremendous opportunity for economic growth, and increase access to cloud and internet services for organizations and people across the African continent.
    MyPOV – So 2018 will see the go live. No surprise there is an Office 365 and Dynamics 365 angle, two products that have to comply with data privacy and data residency legislation.
    “We’re excited by the growing demand for cloud services in Africa and their ability to be a catalyst for new economic opportunities,” said Scott Guthrie, Executive Vice President, Cloud and Enterprise, Microsoft Corp. “With cloud services ranging from intelligent collaboration to predictive analytics, the Microsoft Cloud delivered from Africa will enable developers to build new and innovative apps, customers to transform their businesses, and governments to better serve the needs of their citizens.”
    MyPOV – Good quote from Guthrie, which also hints at the next generation application angle for developers and the government angle. Government usually require data residency.
    Expanding Access & Opportunity: Currently many companies in Africa rely on cloud services delivered from outside of the continent. Microsoft’s new investment will provide highly available, scalable, and secure cloud services across Africa with the option of data residency in South Africa. With the introduction of these new cloud regions, Microsoft has now announced 40 regions around the world – more than any major cloud provider. The combination of Microsoft’s global cloud infrastructure with the new regions in Africa will connect businesses with opportunity across the globe, help accelerate new investments, and improve access to cloud and internet services for people and organizations from Cairo to Cape Town.
    MyPOV – South Africa is an island from a IaaS perspective. A large economy, but far away from a connectivity perspective, it’s in a similar situation like Australia, only that the IaaS vendors made it to Australia much earlier. With 40 regions Microsoft currently leads fellow competitors AWS and Google, but Microsoft does not clarify how many data centers are in one location. And to tackle reliable services in a geography, it needs to be at least, two data centers. Microsoft does not share how many data centers are in a region, but will have two regions with one each in Cape Town and Johannesburg. That should be a good answer for any HA (High Availability) concerns, though Oracle has moved the 'standard' quickly to three data centers per location / region.
    “We greatly value Microsoft’s commitment to invest in cloud services delivered from Africa. Standard Bank already relies on cloud technology to provide our customers with a seamless experience,” says Brenda Niehaus, Group CIO at Standard Bank. “To achieve success as a business, we need to keep pace with market developments as well as customer needs, and Office 365 empowers us to make a culture shift towards becoming a more dynamic organization, whilst Azure enables us to deliver our apps and services to our customers in Africa. We’re looking forward to achieving even more with the cloud services available here on the continent.”
    MyPOV – Always good to have launch customers and good to have them provide a quote in a press release announcing future to be used products / services.
    Investing in African Innovation: This announcement expands on ongoing investments in Africa, where organizations are using currently available cloud and mobile services as a platform for innovation in health care, agriculture, education, and entrepreneurship. Microsoft has been working to support local start-ups and NGOs, unleashing innovation that has the potential to solve some of the biggest problems facing humanity, such as the scarcity of water and food, and economic and environmental sustainability. One start-up, M-KOPA Solar, provides affordable pay-as-you-go solar energy to over 500,000 homes using mobile and cloud technology. AGIN has built an app connecting 140,000 smallholder farmers to key services, enabling them to share data and facilitating $1.3 million per month in finance, insurance and other services.
    MyPOV – Always good to show the potential and upside – and Africa has a lot of both. It’s not clear what M-Kopa and AGIN are or will be using from Microsoft. 


    Across Africa, Microsoft has brought 728,000 small and mid-size enterprises (SMEs) online to help them transform and modernize their businesses, and over 500,000 are now utilizing Microsoft cloud services, with 17,000 using the 4Afrika hub to promote and grow their businesses. The Microsoft Cloud is also helping Africans build job skills, with 775,000 trained on subjects ranging from digital literacy to software development. We anticipate the Microsoft Cloud from Africa will fuel extensive new opportunities for our 17,000 regional partners and customers alike.
    MyPOV – Impressive numbers, the consumer and educational aspect of the Microsoft product and services portfolio has a lot of potential in Africa. On the other side it also requires Microsoft to invest into infrastructure in Africa, and this is a first step.
    “This development broadens the options available to us in our modernization journey of Government ICT infrastructure and services. It allows us to take advantage of new opportunities to develop innovative government solutions at manageable costs, as well as drive overall improvements in operations management, while improving transparency and accountability,” says Dr. Setumo Mohapi, CEO at SITA.
    MyPOV – Again – good to see a current / future customer quote – covering the government aspect and potential.
    The Microsoft Trusted Cloud: Microsoft has deep expertise protecting data, championing privacy, and empowering customers around the globe to meet extensive security and privacy requirements. With Microsoft’s Trusted Cloud principles of security, privacy, compliance, transparency, and the broadest set of compliance certifications and attestations in the industry, Microsoft’s cloud infrastructure supports over a billion customers and 20 million businesses around the globe. […]
    MyPOV – Good to see Microsoft stressing the security aspect. As in every new geographic region where the cloud arrives, there is a large group of skeptical CxOs and security concerns are at the top of their list of reasons why they cannot move to the cloud. These concerns need to be addressed. There is no reason though why these concerns cannot be addressed as well in South Africa like they have in the rest of the world… with a broadly favorable outcome for the cloud.


    Overall MyPOV

    Always good to see IaaS vendors adding locations to their global clouds. South Africa is a key possession from the combination of GDP and remoteness toward network backbones. Australia has similar characteristics, but has a 4x larger GDP, so no surprise the global monopoly game between the IaaS vendors has seen Australia see the respective IaaS flags earlier than South Africa. But now it is South Africa, and with that Africa’s turn. And Africa (after Asia) is the world’s second largest continent – from a population perspective. As such Africa is key for Microsoft for all its offerings, as the press release outlines: For Office usage, for Dynamics usage and for getting strongly locally rooted customers (like governments) on the Microsoft cloud.

    On the concern side, there is little to address. Microsoft is large enough to make the CAPEX happen, the question is only, which geographies got trumped by South Africa. But that’s what we learn soon from the next data center location announcement. And then South African data centers will likely not be efficient to service any economy north of the equator, e.g. the African Mediterranean rim is likely served better from Europe. And then there is the prize of the first Middle Eastern data center. And that Microsoft does not shy away from network investments can be seen from the recent MAREA cable announcement (with Facebook  see here), which will hit Europe closer to Africa than any other transatlantic cable, in Bilbao (Spain).

    But for now, congrats to Microsoft – that between the three large providers (add AWS and Google) is the first with an announcement for a South African location. Even going further down the provider list to e.g. IBM, Oracle and SAP (though SAP may not push the IaaS build out now) – Microsoft has made the first announcement / move towards South Africa / Africa. So, congrats are in order.



    More data center openings blog posts:

    • New Analysis - AWS has now data centers in Canada. Or is it data centres? Speaks "Canadian" now. - read here
    • News Analysis - Amazon Web Services Cloud now speaks… Hindi - Indian AWS Data Centers available - read here
    • News Analysis – NetSuite speaks BeNeLux – expands into Belgium, The Netherlands and Luxembourg - read here
    • New Analysis - Amazon AWS spricht jetzt Deutsch - The cloud wars reach Germany - will European customers adopt the cloud? - read here
    • IBM kicks off the cloud data center race for 2014 - read here

    More on Microsoft:
    • Event Report - Microsoft Build 2017 - Good Housekeeping, laying foundation, deliver on vision - read here
    • Down Report – Power failure takes Azure services down - 3 Cloud Load Toads - read here
    • Event Report - Microsoft Connect - No April's Fools - Linux, Google and more  - read here
    • First Take - Microsoft discovers teams - launches Microsoft Teams - read here
    • News Analysis - Microsoft announces SAP's choice of Azure to help enterprises transform HR  - The SaaS land grab is on  - read here
    • First Take - Microsoft Ignite - AI, Adobe and FPGA [From the Fences] - read here
    • News Analysis - GE and Microsoft partner to bring Predix to Azure - Multi-Cloud becomes tangible for IoT - read here
    • Market Move - Microsoft acquired Linked - Tons of synergies, start with Cortana, maybe too many - read here
    • News Analysis - Microsoft opens Windows Holographic to partners for a new era of mixed reality - read here
    • News Analysis - SAP and Microsoft usher in new era of partnership to accelerate digital transformation in the cloud - read here
    • Musings - Will Microsoft's Hololens transform the Future of Work? Read here
    • Event Report - Microsoft Build 2016 - A platform vision and plenty of tools for next generation applications - read here
    • First Take - Microsoft Build 2016 - Day 1 Keynote Takeaways - read here
    • Event Preview - Microsoft Build 2016 - Top 3 Things to watch for developers, managers and execs...  read here
    • News Analysis - Microsoft - New Hybrid Offerings Deliver Bottomless Capacity for Today's Data Explosion - read here
    • News Analysis - Welcoming the Xamarin team to Microsoft - read here
    • News Analysis - Microsoft announcements at Convergence Barcelona - Office365. Dynamics CRM and Power Apps 
    • News Analysis - Microsoft expands Azure Data Lake to unleash big data productivity - Good move - time to catch up - read here
    • News Analysis - Microsoft and Salesforce Strengthen Strategic Partnership at Dreamforce 2015 - Good for joint customers - read here
    • News Analyis - NetSuite announced Cloud Alliance with Microsoft - read here
    • Event Report - Microsoft Build - Microsoft really wants to make developers' lives easier - read here
    • First Hand with Microsoft Hololens - read here
    • Event Report - Microsoft TechEd - Top 3 Enterprise takeaways - read here
    • First Take - Microsoft discovers data ambience and delivers an organic approach to in memory database - read here
    • Event Report - Microsoft Build - Azure grows and blossoms - enough for enterprises (yet)? Read here.
    • Event Report - Microsoft Build Day 1 Keynote - Top Enterprise Takeaways - read here.
    • Microsoft gets even more serious about devices - acquire Nokia - read here.
    • Microsoft does not need one new CEO - but six - read here.
    • Microsoft makes the cloud a platform play - Or: Azure and her 7 friends - read here.
    • How the Cloud can make the unlikeliest bedfellows - read here.
    • How hard is multi-channel CRM in 2013? - Read here.
    • How hard is it to install Office 365? Or: The harsh reality of customer support - read here.


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

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     Oracle had its Media Day earlier in the month and used the opportunity to unleash nothing less than 6 (six!) press releases on its momentum in cloud [Apologies for the gun metaphor, for the ones who don’t know – revolvers mostly have 6 chamber for 6 bullets).



    So, let’s go through the six press releases, selecting a few key paragraphs:

    Oracle and AT&T Enter into Strategic Agreement

    A key customer win for Oracle, as AT&T is staying with Oracle going forward for the foreseeable future. It can be found here.
    The agreement gives AT&T global access to Oracle’s cloud portfolio offerings both in the public cloud and on AT&T’s Integrated Cloud. This includes Oracle’s IaaS, PaaS, Database-as-a-Service (DBaaS), and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) which will help increase productivity, reduce IT costs and enable AT&T to gain new flexibility in how it implements SaaS applications across its global enterprise. AT&T has also agreed to implement Oracle’s Field Service Cloud (OFSC) to further optimize its scheduling and dispatching for its more than 70,000 field technicians. With OFSC, for example, AT&T will combine its existing machine learning and big data capabilities with Oracle’s technology to increase the productivity, on-time arrivals and job duration accuracy of AT&T’s field technicians.
    MyPOV – This is an impressive demonstration of the ‘chip to click’ Oracle stack creating value from the IaaS layer all the way to SaaS. For AT&T to throw in critical Field Service into the overall mega deal is a key sign that the Oracle synergies across the stack work. The AT&T machine learning and big data capabilities relied on Oracle and with that move with the Oracle systems. Industry rumors were that AT&T had tried a number (or even any) alternative to stay with Oracle, but could not find anything fitting capabilities as well as TCO. This is a key lighthouse deal for Oracle. The vendor’s shot to become a key player in cloud infrastructure is to capture more deals like this and the bulk of the load that the Oracle DB carries on premises – for the Oracle cloud / IaaS and Database as a Service business.

    Trek Bicycle Shifts to Oracle Cloud to Improve Customer Experience

    Another customer press release, always good to see them – it can be found here.
    As a first step, Trek set out to streamline the customer claims process and engagement with its dealers. Using Oracle Mobile Cloud Service, a key component of Oracle Cloud Platform, Trek developed an innovative new mobile application that enables dealers to submit repair claims using their mobile devices and a few taps of a button. With the new claims application, dealers will simply snap a picture of the customers’ bikes on their mobile device, connect directly to Trek’s supply chain applications through an API, and create a claim in just a couple of minutes. The new claim submission application will also include optical character recognition (OCR) technology that allows service professionals to pull up customer service histories simply by scanning a bike’s serial number. It also allows Trek to better service their bikes and better support existing customers.
    MyPOV – A good example how enterprises need to build software to truly differentiate. PaaS matters for that and Trek built an application that changes the supply chain from closed to open, making the Trek stories active users of the system. Making claims easier and faster to process is great for customers that get a more hassle-free repair experience, great for the Trek dealer who is more productive and has a happy customer and great for Trek that has happy dealers and customers. And likely a competitive differentiator in the market. 

    Oracle Announces EU Region Expansion in Germany

    New locations for IaaS are key as all vendors are in the monopoly race to plant their flag around the world, read the whole press release here.
    Continuing its commitment to cloud customers through extensive engineering and infrastructure investments, Oracle today announced enhancements to the Oracle Cloud EU Region in Germany with the addition of modern infrastructure as a service (IaaS) architecture and new IaaS and platform as a service (PaaS) cloud services. German-based modern IaaS will enable organizations to build and move mission-critical workloads to the cloud with uncompromised security and governance at a significant price performance advantage both over existing on-premises infrastructure and competitive cloud offerings. Oracle’s expanded infrastructure footprint is a result of tremendous customer demand with non-GAAP cloud revenue up 71 percent in Q3FY17 to $1.3 billion. The Oracle Cloud EU Region in Germany builds on the previously announced Oracle Cloud UK Region. The Oracle Cloud EU Region in Germany is expected to come online in the second half of this calendar year.
    MyPOV – Good to see the investment, that is required though to make Oracle a cloud IaaS player. Oracle follows the traditional roll out of the IaaS competitors, starting in the UK and then moving to Europe’s #1 economy, Germany. Frankfurt makes additional sense as it is one of the Internet backbone exchanges, so it makes sense to build data centers there. No surprise this will be a ‘Gen 2’ Oracle region – which usually means 3 data centers (though Oracle would not confirm). That would raise the ‘game’ over the also Germany based IaaS competitors. But then it is half a year out – so many things can change till then. But good to see Oracle spend the CAPEX, which it has to in order to catch up with the ‘Big 3’ of IaaS.

    Oracle Cloud Applications Drive Business Transformation Around the World

    At the end of the SaaS is an important business for Oracle, so it needed an update as well – it can be found here.

    The Oracle Cloud delivers nearly 1,000 SaaS applications to customers in more than 195 countries around the world. With NetSuite now part of Oracle, more than 25,000 organizations around the world now leverage Oracle Cloud Applications to transform critical business functions and embrace modern best practices. To accelerate this growth and help organizations of all sizes transform business processes, Oracle recently announced a series of NetSuite expansions and innovations. It is also introducing artificial intelligence-based enterprise applications. Oracle Adaptive Intelligent Apps blends first-party data with third-party data, and then applies Oracle's decision science and machine learning capabilities to create cloud applications that adapt and learn.
    MyPOV – The NetSuite acquisition is a huge jump in cloud customers for Oracle, albeit on a different and older platform than the rest of the Oracle cloud applications. But it is still an Oracle platform, so a number of investments that Oracle announced at NetSuite’s recent SuiteWorld even (see my takehere). And no surprise to see AI mentioned, and Oracle calls them Adaptive Intelligent Apps. The potential of merging third party data with enterprise data is substantial and we will see how well Oracle can exploit this opportunity. In the following list of Oracle Cloud suites, notably CRM was missing – though Oracle CX / HCM / ERP Cloud were mentioned. An unusual omission which begs questions. But overall good traction of the Oracle SaaS portfolio.

    VMware and Oracle Collaborate to Enable Advanced Security Features and Streamlined Management of Oracle Mobile Enterprise Applications

    Somewhat surprisingly a partnership announcement between VMware and Oracle thrown in the mix.

    VMware is the first mobile application management provider to manage and secure hundreds of Oracle business applications and custom applications built on the OMCS. As such, enterprise IT organizations can manage their Oracle application suite on a single unified platform together with their other business-critical applications and devices. Users who count on Oracle’s business applications to make better decisions, reduce costs and increase performance can benefit by being able to access these applications through a simple digital workspace environment—be it from a mobile device, laptop or desktop – with VMware Workspace ONE™ and AirWatch.
    MyPOV – Always good to see when customers can get vendor to partner and bring their offerings closer, here it is Oracle and VMware. VMware Workspace ONE and VMware AirWatch have reached a critical usage level in enterprises, so these enterprises want to use the same pane of glass to manage Oracle mobile applications. Good to see the partnership a win / win / win for customers and both vendor. 

    Oracle and Partners Make It Easier for Global Organizations to Move to the Cloud

    In another partner announcement, Oracle shared that Equinix is joining the FastConnect program – the press release can be found here.

    Oracle FastConnect addresses one of the most important issues that impacts migration to a cloud service: the unpredictable nature of the Internet. With FastConnect, customers can create a high-throughput and low-latency connection that delivers the benefits of a hybrid cloud setup by providing an easy, cost effective way to create dedicated and private connectivity to Oracle Cloud. In addition, customers can address common concerns with security and performance issues associated with cloud technologies. This is especially true for mission-critical enterprise workloads that frequently demand high levels of availability, security and performance.
    MyPOV – Network connectivity remains a crucial component for hybrid and migratory scenarios. Good to see Oracle expanding the program with Equinix, joining Megaport, Verizon, BT and NTT Communications.


    Overall MyPOV

    A good media day with Oracle, showing good traction across its cloud products. Good to see not only customer traction, but (probably well planned) traction on the IaaS, PaaS and SaaS level. As well as partner ecosystem moves that help Oracle customers move to cloud (FastConnect and VMware).

    On the concern side, Oracle will have to have a few more of similar ‘revolver style’ press events to change perception that its cloud offerings are behind compared to other IaaS / PaaS players. But you have to start with one, so let’s see when the second similar, overall Oracle cloud momentum release will happen. If this will be before Oracle OpenWorld, a good sign, it certainly is expected to repeat itself at OpenWorld.

    But for now – good to see the overall traction, with the opening of a region in the 4th largest economy on the planet probably being the most substantial of the 6 press releases.


    Recent blog posts on Oracle:
    • Musings - Does Oracle and Accenture make sense - or never ever! - read here
    • Progress Report - Oracle HCM Analyst Summit 2017 - Oracle HCM stronger and stronger - read here
    • Event Report - Oracle OpenWorld - the HCM perspective - Almost no news, but wait... - read here.
    • First Take - Early Oracle OpenWorld 2016 Keynotes - read here
    • Event Preview - Oracle OpenWorld 2016 - What to expect, what to watch for ... will IaaS start Clicking? - read here
    • Market Move - Oracle acquires NetSuite - Oddly consolidation means more options for customers - read here
    • News Analysis - Oracle Unveils Suite of Breakthrough Services.. or short: Oracle Cloud Machine - read here
    • Progress Report - Oracle Cloud - More ready than ever, now needs adoption - read here
    • Event Report - Oracle Openworld 2015 - Top 3 Takeaways, Top 3 Positives & Concerns - read here
    • News Analysis - Quick Take on all 22 press releases of Oracle OpenWorld Day #1 - #3 - read here
    • First Take - Oracle OpenWorld - Day 1 Keynote - Top 3 Takeaways - read here
    • Event Preview - Oracle Openworld - watch here

    Future of Work / HCM / SaaS research:

    • Event Report - Oracle HCM World - Innovation around the Core - read here
    • Event Report - Oracle HCM World - Full Steam ahead, a Learning surprise and potential growth challenges - read here
    • First Take - Oracle HCM World Day #1 Keynote - off to a good start - read here
    • Progress Report - Oracle HCM gathers momentum - now it needs to build on that - read here
    • Oracle pushes modern HR - there is more than technology - read here. (Takeaways from the recent HCMWorld conference).
    • Why Applications Unlimited is good a good strategy for Oracle customers and Oracle - read here.

    Also worth a look for the full picture
    • Event Report - Oracle PaaS Event - 6 PaaS Services become available, many more announced - read here
    • Progress Report - Oracle Cloud makes progress - but key work remains in the cellar - read here
    • News Analysis - Oracle discovers the power of the two socket server - or: A pivot that wasn't one - TCO still rules - read here
    • Market Move - Oracle buys Datalogix - moves more into DaaS - read here
    • Event Report - Oracle Openworld - Oracle's vision and remaining work become clear - they are both big - read here
    • Constellation Research Video Takeaways of Oracle Openworld 2014 - watch here
    • Is it all coming together for Oracle in 2014? Read here
    • From the fences - Oracle AR Meeting takeaways - read here (this was the last analyst meeting in spring 2013)
    • Takeaways from Oracle CloudWorld LA - read here (this was one of the first cloud world events overall, in January 2013)

    And if you want to read more of my findings on Oracle technology - I suggest:

    • Progress Report - Good cloud progress at Oracle and a two step program - read here.
    • Oracle integrates products to create its Foundation for Cloud Applications - read here.
    • Java grows up to the enterprise - read here.
    • 1st take - Oracle in memory option for its database - very organic - read here.
    • Oracle 12c makes the database elastic - read here.
    • How the cloud can make the unlikeliest bedfellows - read here.
    • Act I - Oracle and Microsoft partner for the cloud - read here.
    • Act II - The cloud changes everything - Oracle and Salesforce.com - read here.
    • Act III - The cloud changes everything - Oracle and Netsuite with a touch of Deloitte - read here


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


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    We had the opportunity to attend Infosys’ yearly user conference Confluence in San Francisco, held from May 24th till 26th 2017 at the Moscone West. The conference was well attended with a good mix of customers, partners and influencers. 

    So, look at my musings on the event here: (if the video doesn’t show up, check here)



    No time to watch – here is the 1-2 slide condensation (if the slide doesn’t show up, check here):




    Want to read on? 

    Here you go: Always tough to pick the takeaways – but here are my Top 3

    Infosys really wants to be a Products AND Services company– We have written about the early stages and first initiatives of Infosys building software products, pretty much since the arrival of Vishal Sikka. Last year it was a clear message of services and products, this year it was even more in the direction of products, with an event at Moscone West – where usually the product vendors show up. And with brining all products under one overall leader and product strategy lead, Infosys is now also taking the organizational steps towards more products in its future. All customers we spoke to are positive on this development. Sikka shared that the products have already helped Infosys to save over 10k positions from a productivity perspective. A good start. 


    Infosys Confluence Holger Mueller Constellation Research Sikka
    Sikka opening his keynote

    Nia is Mana and more– Last year Infosys launched Mana, its Machine Learning platform. Recently Mana became Nia with additional assets from Skytree, robotic process automation capabilities and OCR functions being added. The extensions all make sense, and Sikka shared that there are now over 120+ Nia engagements across 50+ customers. That is traction, but Infosys needs more of that, especially customer adoption Nia that are confident to share the main keynote stage. We will see what next year will bring. 



    Infosys Confluence Holger Mueller Constellation Research Dadlani
    Dadlani shares his Unlimit - learning to bike

    Innovation across the portfolio– All key products in the Infosys portfolio showed progress with new releases and capabilities. What stuck out are the new Panaya ALM related Release Dynamix (RDx) offering, with the traditional focus on quality (here is the press release). And a new open source based platform to build next generation platforms with oecloud.io. Makes sense for Infosys to productize its platform – though it’s not clear at the moment which and how many and when the Infosys products will uptake a common platform like e.g. opensouce.io (more can be found here). Not mentioned in the keynote (sic!) was a new data lake offering, running on AWS Cloud, an important component of almost any next generation application project (press release here).



    Infosys Confluence Holger Mueller Constellation Research Progress
    Infosys Renew Progress


    MyPOV

    A good Confluence event by Infosys, that is rapidly reinvent itself. Changes are not only coming with products, but also with the plans to onshore more services, with the ambition to hire 10k+ employees in the US, starting in Indiana. Infosys is as well ramping up its ambitions and capabilities around Digital project. So, innovation and new practices on all fronts, good news for customers. Also good to see that Sikka can an update on last year's leitmotiv - ZeroDistance - which seems to have made a difference for customers and Infosys. This year's theme of "unlimit" was a good theme, too - basically Infosys is trying to inspire customers to think about next generation applications in the age of unlimited storage (BigData, data lakes) and almost no cost compute (for ML / AI).

    On the concern side Infosys needs to successfully navigate the challenges that the SI business faces with the raise of SaaS, the needed re-skilling and potential location challenges coming to the outsourcing business from the Trump administration in the near future. On the product side Infosys needs to take the last step and issue roadmaps and add release numbers / versions to its products – in the public communication. And last but not least – more customers live on products, as customer references are the ‘mother milk’ for a product company’s success.

    But for now – another good Confluence for Infosys, that is inspiring its customers and getting more attention from partners than before. At least there were more exhibiting and having HPE CEO Meg Whitman there is certainly a sign for traction in the partner space. Stay tuned for more.

    More on Infosys:


    • Event Report - Infosys Confluence - The Future Watch is Software + People - read here
    • Progress Report - Infosys Analyst Meeting - Can you transform customers while you transform yourself? Looks like it - read here

    Want to learn more? Checkout the Storify collection below (if it doesn’t show up – check here).

    Want to learn more? Checkout the Storify collection below, it's about the Day #1 keynote, the Day #2 keynote is here and the 10 Questions I had before SapphireNow are here. (if it doesn’t show up – check here).