Tag Archives: acquired

DataRobot partners with BCG, acquires its analytics software

DataRobot said Tuesday it has acquired Boston Consulting Group’s Source AI technology as the two companies entered into a new strategic partnership.

DataRobot, a Boston-based AI and automated machine learning vendor, said it will use the expertise of BCG’s data scientists and tech experts to enable DataRobot customers to better build AI projects.

“The partnership with BCG will help DataRobot augment and extend their services offering and will give DataRobot additional resources to help their company design, develop and productize their machine learning models and applications,” said Dave Schubmehl, research director for cognitive/artificial intelligent systems and content analytics at IDC.

Acquiring software

Source AI, modular analytics development and deployment software created by BCG, helps data scientists write code in unrestricted ways, according to DataRobot. The price of the technology acquisition was not disclosed.

Schubmehl said that as far as he understands, “it seems that this capability can be used to build platform-independent machine learning models that then would feed into the DataRobot platform.”

DataRobot acquisition
DataRobot partnered with BCG and acquired its analytics software Source AI.

Igor Taber, senior vice president of corporate development and strategy at DataRobot, wouldn’t comment on whether Source AI would be integrated with DataRobot products in the future, but said “DataRobot is planning to leverage the experience and expertise of the Source AI team to strengthen its platform.”

The partnership with BCG will help DataRobot augment and extend their services offering.
Dave SchubmehlResearch director for cognitive-artificial intelligent systems and content analytics, IDC

“We are looking forward to combining the power of the DataRobot platform and BCG expertise to build AI-powered solutions across multiple industries,” Taber said. “We don’t have specific product plans to announce at this time, but we believe there is tremendous opportunity to make it even easier for our customers to realize value from AI.”

Following a trend

DataRobot’s acquisition of Source AI and partnership with BCG appears to be in line with a trend of AI companies acquiring and doing business with consulting firms. Among recent such acquisitions were Accenture’s acquisition of data consulting firm Mudano by in February and Atos’ purchase of data science and consulting firm Miner & Kasch in April.

Fueling the trend is enterprises’ technical needs in developing AI applications and meshing AI technology with their products, Schubmehl said.

“Most of the large consulting groups have strong AI and data science practices that are helping organizations to re-envision or streamline business processes with digital transformation using artificial intelligence,” he said. “Many of these organizations have informally partnered with vendors for years now and are beginning to formalize these relationships.”

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Google buys AppSheet for low-code app development

Google has acquired low-code app development vendor AppSheet in a bid to up its cloud platform’s appeal among line-of-business users and tap into a hot enterprise IT trend.

Like similar offerings, AppSheet ingests data from sources such as Excel spreadsheets, Smartsheet and Google Sheets. Users apply views to the data — such as charts, tables, maps, galleries and calendars — and then develop workflows with AppSheet’s form-based interface. The apps run on Android, iOS and within browsers.

AppSheet, based in Seattle, already integrated with G Suite and other Google cloud sources, as well as Office 365, Salesforce, Box and other services. The company will continue to support and improve those integrations following the Google acquisition, AppSheet CEO Praveen Seshadri said in a blog post.

“Our core mission is unchanged,” Seshadri said. “We want to ‘democratize’ app development by enabling as many people as possible to build and distribute applications without writing a line of code.”

Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but the price tag for the low-code app development startup is likely far less than Google’s $2.6 billion acquisition of data visualization vendor Looker in June 2019.

Under the leadership of former longtime Oracle executive Thomas Kurian, Google Cloud was expected to make a series of deals to shore up its position in the cloud computing market, where it trails AWS and Microsoft by significant percentages.

So far, Kurian has not made moves to buy core enterprise applications such as ERP and CRM, two markets dominated by the likes of SAP, Oracle and Salesforce. Rather, the AppSheet purchase reflects Google Cloud’s perceived strength in application development, but with a gesture toward nontraditional coders.

As for why Google chose AppSheet to boost its low-code/no-code strategy, one reason could be the dwindling number of options. In the past couple of years, several prominent low-code/no-code vendors became acquisition targets. Notable examples include Siemens’ August 2018 purchase of Mendix for $730 million, and more recently, Swiss banking software provider Temenos’ move to buy Kony in a $559 million deal.

It’s not as if Google, Siemens and Temenos made a long shot bet, either. A survey released last year by Forrester Research, based on data collected in late 201, found that 23% of more than 3,000 developers surveyed reported their companies were already using low-code development platforms. In addition, another 22% indicated their organizations would buy into low-code within a year.

Low-code app dev platforms foster quick creation of business data-driven mobile apps.
Google’s purchase of AppSheet gives it low-code app dev tools for business users.

Low-code competition heightens

Google’s AppSheet buy pits it directly against cloud platform rival Microsoft, which has the citizen developer-targeted Power Apps low-code app development platform that has taken off like a rocket, said John Rymer, an analyst at Forrester. The acquisition of AppSheet also sets Google apart from cloud market share leader AWS, whose alleged super-secret low-code/no-code platform that was said to be under development by a team led by prominent development guru Adam Bosworth has yet to appear.

However, in AppSheet, Google is getting a winner, Rymer noted. “It’s a really good product and a really good team,” he said.

Moreover, the addition of AppSheet will help Google get more horsepower out of Apigee than just API management. The company wanted a broader platform with more functionality to address more customers and more use cases, Rymer said.

“So, I think they will be positioning this as a new platform anchored by Apigee,” he said. “Customers could use Apigee to create and publish APIs and AppSheet is how they would consume them. But they won’t stop there. They need process automation/workflow, so I would expect them to go there as well.”

AppSheet gives Google the potential to craft a more cohesive story that integrates that with Google Cloud and Anthos in the future.
Jeffrey HammondAnalyst, Forrester

Meanwhile, another key benefit Google gains from this acquisition is the integration that AppSheet already has with Google’s office productivity products, said Jeffrey Hammond, another Forrester analyst.

“G Suite has always felt a bit out of place to me at Google’s developer conferences, but it used to be one of the main ‘leads’ for the enterprise,” he said. “AppSheet gives Google the potential to craft a more cohesive story that integrates that with Google Cloud and Anthos in the future.”

Overall, this acquisition is yet another indication that low-code/no-code development has gone mainstream and the number of people building applications will continue to grow.

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Logically acquires Carolinas IT in geographic expansion

Logically Inc., a managed service provider based in Portland, Maine, has acquired Carolinas IT, a North Carolina MSP with cloud, security and core IT infrastructure skills.

The deal continues Logically’s geographic expansion. The company launched in April, building upon the 2018 merger of Portland-based Winxnet Inc. and K&R Network Solutions of San Diego. Logically in August added a New York metro area company through its purchase of Sullivan Data Management, an outsourced IT services firm.

Carolinas IT, based in Raleigh, provides a base from which Logically can expand in the region, Logically CEO Christopher Claudio said. “They are a good launching pad,” he said.

Carolinas IT’s security and compliance practice also attracted Logically’s interest. Claudio called security and compliance a growing market and one that will continue to expand, given the challenges organizations face with regulatory obligations and the risk of data breaches.

“You can’t be an MSP without a security and compliance group,” he said.

Carolinas IT’s security services include risk assessment, HIPAA consulting and auditing, security training and penetration testing. The company’s cloud offerings include Office 365 and private hosted cloud services. And its professional services personnel possess certifications from vendors such as Cisco, Citrix, Microsoft, Symantec and VMware.

Christopher ClaudioChristopher Claudio

Claudio cited Carolinas IT’s “depth of talent,” recurring revenue and high client retention rate as some of the business’s favorable attributes.

Mark Cavaliero, Carolinas IT’s president and CEO, will remain at the company for the near term but plans to move on and will not have a long-term leadership role, Claudio said. But Cavaliero will have an advisory role, Claudio added, noting “he has built a great business.”

Logically’s Carolinas IT purchase continues a pattern of companies pulling regional MSPs together to create national service providers. Other examples include Converge Technology Solutions Corp. and Mission.

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Veeam cloud backup sells back N2WS, adding AWS and Azure products

Veeam Software has sold an AWS data protection company it acquired two years ago and will launch Azure- and AWS-focused backup products as part of its own “unified cloud platform.”

About 10 months after Veeam’s acquisition of N2WS, the U.S. government requested “information regarding the transaction,” said Ratmir Timashev, co-founder and executive vice president of Veeam. He declined to provide details on the information request.

“After some discussions with the government in the first half of 2019, Veeam voluntarily made the decision to sell [N2WS] back to its original founders,” Timashev said. “And we decided to focus on building our own unified cloud platform, using our internal [research and development] resources.”

Veeam cloud backup, N2WS move forward, separately

The sale back to N2WS CEO Ohad Kritz and CTO Uri Wolloch closed in the third quarter of 2019. Veeam is not releasing terms of the sale, but Timashev called it “relatively small.”

Veeam bought N2WS and its cloud-native, enterprise backup and recovery for AWS data for $42.5 million at the end of 2017. About eight months earlier, Veeam disclosed it had invested in N2WS. Veeam, a data protection and management vendor with international headquarters in Switzerland and U.S. headquarters in Columbus, Ohio, is also no longer an investor in N2WS.

Ratmir TimashevRatmir Timashev

Timashev said he could not give much more detail about why the government’s information request led to the major step of selling back N2WS. He declined to comment on a report that the U.S. government’s interest was piqued because it is an N2WS customer and Timashev and Veeam Co-Founder Andrei Baronov are Russian. Baronov is also Veeam’s CEO.

“We feel that developing a unified cloud solution, not just AWS [backup], but that is closely integrated with our platform, was the best,” Timashev said.

The acquisition of N2WS showed that Veeam understands the importance of native backup technology for public cloud environments, said Archana Venkatraman, research manager at IDC.

“Veeam voluntarily sold the business following discussions with U.S. government, so it was a sensible move given the federal complexities,” Venkatraman wrote in an email.

N2WS had operated as a stand-alone business under Veeam, which representatives from both companies said makes the split easier for customers.

The majority of customers who bought the Veeam-owned N2WS were looking for a point product to back up AWS, Timashev said.

“People who were using our software at the time were protecting their current data center and the purchaser of the N2WS solution was someone who was standing up infrastructure in the cloud,” said Danny Allan, vice president of product strategy at Veeam.

Ezra Charm, vice president of marketing at N2WS, said he can’t comment on what happened on the Veeam side, but noted “the issues were not N2WS issues.” The split was “amicable,” he said.

“It was really awesome being in the Veeam world,” Charm said, citing a larger marketing budget as one positive. “But the best is yet to come.”

Charm stressed that IT is still in the beginning stages of the cloud movement, as many workloads that could be in the cloud are not there yet.

“N2WS is well positioned to grow and make a difference,” Charm said.

Venkatraman said N2WS is prominent in the AWS Marketplace.

“As an independent company, it will continue growing as demand for cloud data protection continues to grow,” she wrote.

Charm acknowledged that “some of this is a little scary.” While it’s still figuring out the new budget, N2WS is a financially stable company with thousands of customers, Charm said.

N2WS has about 50 employees, including 30 in Israel at its research and development center and 20 in West Palm Beach, Fla., at its sales and marketing headquarters. The company did not let go of any employees as a result of the sale, Charm said.

Backup for AWS, Azure provides important protection

Following the sale, Veeam cloud backup will launch two new products. Veeam Backup for AWS and Veeam Backup for Microsoft Azure will be available as stand-alone point products or integrated with Veeam’s platform.

The cloud-native Azure backup will be available at the Microsoft Ignite conference next week in a technology preview. It’s slated to be generally available early next year.

The point product offering Azure to Azure backup is much cheaper than the version integrated with the Veeam platform, Timashev said.

Veeam Backup for Microsoft Azure — both free and paid versions — will be available for deployment through the Azure Marketplace for cloud-first companies, Allan said. In addition, Veeam Backup & Replication users can extend their protection to Azure-native instances.

The product also features file-level recovery of native snapshots and Veeam backups, as well as the ability to restore to an on-premises data center or any other Veeam-supported environment, Allan said.

The similar Veeam Backup for AWS will be available by the end of 2019.

“That’s why we were talking about the unified cloud platform,” Timashev said. “So, immediately, it’s integrated in our cloud platform as well as available as a [point product].”

After some discussions with the government in the first half of 2019, Veeam voluntarily made the decision to sell [N2WS] back to its original founders. And we decided to focus on building our own unified cloud platform.
Ratmir TimashevCo-founder and executive vice president, Veeam

Veeam and N2WS go from the same company to competitors in AWS backup.

“While both will serve the cloud-native AWS backup market, Veeam’s goal has always been broader and that is to deliver data management for all of our customers’ data — across clouds and on-premises data centers,” Allan said.

N2WS’ most recent product version, Backup & Recovery 2.7, added Amazon S3 Infrequent Access support and intelligent tiering. The 3.0 edition scheduled for general availability in January will feature more integration into other S3 storage tiers.

N2WS’ connection to the AWS community, transparent pricing and flexibility in allowing customers to cancel anytime help it stand out, Charm said. Competition is the sign of a “healthy market opportunity,” he said, and reinforces N2WS’ message that workloads hosted with public cloud providers need protection.

“N2WS has been focused on solving the challenge of protecting data and workloads in the public cloud since 2013,” Charm said. “It is great to see that all the major backup providers — not just Veeam — are starting to take this seriously.”

IDC research found that more than 80% of new application deployments will include cloud. A backup platform that features support for hybrid and multi-cloud environments is a top need, especially for large enterprises, and will help Veeam attract those customers, according to Venkatraman.

“But cloud focus is a top priority for its main competitors, too, and success will be driven by differentiation — in pricing, in user experience and successful unification, and in channel/go-to-market transformation,” she wrote.

Office 365 backup, NAS support and more

The Veeam cloud backup portfolio is also updating its Office 365 protection, the fastest growing product in the history of the company. While Veeam Backup for Microsoft Office 365 previously offered on-premises backup, version 4 will back up directly to the cloud to either Azure or AWS. Veeam had only been addressing half of the market needs, Timashev said.

Veeam Backup for Microsoft Office 365, which covers Exchange, SharePoint and OneDrive, will also add object storage support, including AWS S3, Azure Blob, IBM Cloud and S3-compatible providers. Version 4 will be available as a public beta on Monday with general availability expected by the end of 2019.

Further along in the roadmap, version 10 of the Veeam Availability Suite is scheduled to be available for service providers in December and the general public in January. The top feature is enhanced NAS backup, which incorporates changed file tracking, the ability to “protect from anywhere to anywhere” and snapshot support, Allan said.

The product has been in private beta since the summer.

“It’s been tested very extensively by our partners and our customers, so we are pretty confident that we are getting very close,” Timashev said.

IDC research showed that unstructured data is growing faster than structured data and organizations need enterprise-grade backup for this environment that houses sensitive data, according to Venkatraman.

“[Veeam’s offering] is a wait and watch, but there is a lot of demand for NAS backup among enterprises,” she wrote.

Veeam is also “always looking for acquisitions,” Timashev said, in areas such as cloud data management and migration, data optimization and cloud optimization.

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ConnectWise-Continuum buyout shakes up MSP software market

ConnectWise, a provider of software for managed services providers, has acquired its competitor Continuum.

The Continuum acquisition was announced today by ConnectWise CEO Jason Magee at his company’s annual user conference, IT Nation Connect, running from Oct. 30 to Nov. 1 in Orlando, Fla. The buyout, which is poised to shake up the MSP software market, accompanies the acquisition of ITBoost, an IT documentation vendor. ConnectWise also revealed a strategic partnership with partner relationship management software provider Webinfinity to help ConnectWise partners manage their vendor alliances.

“[The Continuum acquisition] allows ConnectWise to address the growing pains of our partners and some of those pains around talent and skills shortages … [and] continues to accelerate ConnectWise in the cybersecurity area,” Magee said in a press briefing.

ConnectWise and Continuum are owned by private equity investment firm Thoma Bravo. Thoma Bravo purchased ConnectWise in February. The private equity firm also owns MSP software players (and ConnectWise-Continuum competitors) SolarWinds and Barracuda Networks.

ConnectWise’s platform spans professional services automation, remote monitoring and management (RMM), and ‘configure, price and quote’ software. Continuum’s development of a global security operations center (SOC), network operations center and help desk technologies will be “complementary” to what ConnectWise does today, Magee said.

Jason Magee, CEO of ConnectWise Jason Magee

The future of ConnectWise and Continuum’s RMM platforms, ConnectWise Automate and Continuum Command, remains in question. Magee said the respective RMM platforms “will be maintained [separately] at this point.” After the IT Nation Connect 2019 event, the companies will begin working on its overall business plan and joint roadmaps, “which to this point we have not been able to dig into much due to regulatory restraints around getting government approval of making the deal happen and so on,” he said.

Magee suggested that in the short term ConnectWise-Continuum partners could see some innovations introduced to the Automate and Command platforms. He pointed to a few potential examples, such as making Command’s LogMeIn remote control available to ConnectWise partners and adding features of Command’s automation and patching capabilities to the Automate platform. He didn’t specify the timing around implementing any changes but said partners could expect to see some in early 2020.

Although the post-acquisition is still in the planning stage, Magee said Continuum’s CFO Geoffrey Willison will be brought as COO at ConnectWise, and the senior vice president of global service delivery, Tasos Tsolakis, will join as the senior vice president of service delivery “over all ConnectWise going forward.” Additionally, Magee said ConnectWise will hire a new CFO for the combined business.

“Until we have the rest of the best of the business plan done, it is business as usual,” Magee said.

Addressing two types of MSPs

Magee said that the ConnectWise-Continuum acquisition also serves to benefit “two mindsets” that have emerged among MSPs.

The first mindset is of the do-it-yourself MSPs that build their practices by partnering, buying platforms and tools, and hiring teams to manage and service their customers. The second mindset is of “the companies and people [that] just want to go hire the general contractor, and those people are asking for someone else to manage [their customers] for them, take the hassle out of having to do all that stuff within their company or themselves.”

This opens up a whole new world from a ConnectWise standpoint.
Jason MageeCEO, ConnectWise

“This opens up a whole new world from a ConnectWise standpoint,” Magee said.

For a few years, ConnectWise has been establishing a ‘connected ecosystem’ of third-party software integrations around its platform, and the company will remain committed to that strategy. “We are still committed to the power of choice for our partners and will continue with our API-first mindset, which allows for continued partnership with the 260 and growing vendor partnerships that we have out there,” Magee said. “These are all great options for those [MSPs] that like to do it themselves.”

When asked if Magee anticipated challenges in merging the ConnectWise and Continuum communities of MSP partners, he said he didn’t expect any problems but would address any issues that may crop up to ensure “we are doing right by the communities.”

“At the end of the day, there is so much good and greatness that comes from bringing these two together that the partner communities are going to benefit tremendously.”

ITBoost, Webinfinity and cybersecurity initiative

In a move similar to MSP software vendor Kaseya’s buyout of IT Glue, ConnectWise is purchasing documentation provider ITBoost. ConnectWise said the IT document tool will be integrated with its product suite.

Magee said the Webinfinity partnership will help ConnectWise launch ConnectWise Engage, a tool for channel firms for simplifying vendor relationship management. ConnectWise Engage aims to give partners “the ability to receive enablement content and material or solution stack information” from their supplier partners, he noted. Additionally, ConnectWise said the Webinfinity alliance will help centralize vendor-partner touch points for areas such as deal registration, multivendor support issues, co-marketing and SKU management.

ConnectWise today also revealed a cybersecurity initiative, which Magee is calling ‘Fight Back,’ to encourage vendors, platform providers, MSPs and MSP customers to up their security awareness and capabilities.

Magee noted that ConnectWise recently achieved SOC Type 2 certification and will mandate by early 2020 multifactor and two-factor authentication across its platforms. The company in August rolled out its Technology Solution Provider Information Sharing and Analysis Organization, a forum for MSPs to share threat intelligence and best practices. “This is an area that ConnectWise for years has strived to be better. We are not perfect by any means, but we strive to get better,” he said.

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Cohesion is latest Acquia acquisition

Acquia has acquired United Kingdom-based company Cohesion, the creator of DX8, it recently announced.

Acquia is a SaaS company, headquarted in Boston, created to provide enterprise products, services and technical support for the open-source web CMS platform Drupal. Cohesion’s DX8 is an enterprise-level, low-code Drupal website builder that enables in-browser creation of themes, layouts and pages.

The Acquia acquisition is intended to help content marketers and site builders with minimal coding skills create scalable Drupal sites from scratch up to four times faster, according to the company. Acquia also claims Cohesion DX8 will help provide brand consistency across websites.

Dries Buytaert, CTO and co-founder of Acquia and founder of Drupal, said that the Acquia acquisition won’t affect current Cohesion customers.

“There will be no change to support arrangements for Cohesion DX8 customers who have current contracts in 2019,” he said. “Acquia will notify and engage with Cohesion DX8 customers if any changes are envisioned.”

He added that he anticipates the Acquia acquisition benefiting the customers of both companies.

“It helps customers realize significant savings in development and maintenance costs,” he said. “Marketers can publish content more quickly and without the involvement of developers. Cohesion will also appear for customers who are getting started with Drupal. The tool makes it easier for content marketers and site builders with minimal coding skills to be productive and see creative results faster.”

Buytaert declined to disclose the specifics of the deal but said the chance to bring more value to customers was the driving factor.

“The addition of Cohesion DX8 to the Acquia product portfolio strengthens the proposition of both businesses and allows Cohesion the opportunity to scale faster.”

In May, Acquia also acquired Mautic, an open marketing automation and campaign management platform that enables Acquia customers to automate, personalize and measure the customer lifecycle.

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Amazon buys NVMe startup E8 Storage to boost public cloud

Another NVMe flash startup has been acquired — this time by a public cloud storage giant.

Amazon confirmed it will acquire E8 Storage and deploy its rack-scale flash storage in the Amazon Web Services (AWS) public cloud.

Amazon said the transaction includes “some assets” that include hiring the E8 Storage team. E8 Storage CEO Zivan Ori reportedly will join Amazon in an unspecified executive capacity.

Israeli news outlet Globes first reported the story, citing unnamed sources who estimated Amazon will pay between $50 million and $60 million to acquire E8 Storage. A separate report by Reuters said the purchase price is much less, citing another source with knowledge of the deal. Amazon did not publicly disclose the acquisition price.

Amazon’s move comes two weeks after its public cloud rival Google bought file storage software startup Elastifile and nearly one month after holding company StorCentric acquired NVMe array hopeful Vexata.

The Amazon-E8 Storage marriage signals growing interest in NVMe flash. There is widespread industry belief that the NVMe protocol will eventually replace traditional SCSI-based storage. SCSI traffic makes several network hops along the network. By contrast, NVMe allows applications to talk directly to storage across multilane PCIe devices.

For Amazon, the deal highlights the competition it faces from enterprises seeking an AWS-like alternative that costs less than AWS and is managed on premises. It will be worth watching to see if Amazon integrates E8 Storage gear with AWS Nitro compute instances, which use NVMe as the underlying media with Elastic Block Store.

By acquiring E8 Storage, Amazon gains a storage operating system optimized for NVMe flash, said Eric Burgener, a research vice president of storage at analyst firm IDC.

“E8 has an NVMe-over-TCP implementation integrated in its software. It’s not that Amazon couldn’t have built that, but E8 already built it and it works. TCP is clearly the future of NVMe-over-fabrics-attached storage. That’s where the volume is going to be,” Burgener said.

Ori and Alex Friedman founded E8 Storage in 2014. Both previously had worked in management positions at IBM Storage. Friedman was E8’s vice president of R&D. E8 Storage emerged from stealth in 2016, with a dense block-based array that combines 24 NVMe SSDs in a 2U standard form factor.

The E8 Storage software targets analytics and similarly data-intensive workloads that require extreme performance and ultralow latency. E8 received more than $18 million in total funding, including a $12 million Series B round in 2016.

In addition to E8 arrays, customers have also been able to buy E8 Storage software on reference architecture with servers by Dell, Hewlett Packard Enterprise and Lenovo. The vendor this year added parallel file storage to target high-performance computing.

E8 Storage was an early entrant in end-to-end NVMe flash. The E8 architecture is based on industry-standard TCP over IP. Other NVMe startups include Apeiron Data, Excelero and Pavilion Data Systems.

Burgener said he wouldn’t be surprised to see more consolidation in NVMe storage. After ceding ground early, Burgener said legacy storage vendors have aggressively pushed into NVMe.

“Most of the majors have gotten their marketing acts together around selling NVMe for mixed workload consolidation, but they also want to go after the same kind of dedicated workloads” first targeted by NVMe startups, Burgener said.

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Ytica acquisition adds analytics to Twilio Flex cloud contact center

Twilio has acquired the startup Ytica and plans to embed its workforce optimization and analytics software into Twilio Flex, a cloud contact center platform set to launch later this year. Twilio will also sell Ytica’s products to competing contact center software vendors.

Twilio declined to disclose how much it paid for Ytica, but said the deal wouldn’t significantly affect its earnings in 2018. Twilio plans to open its 17th branch office in Prague, where Ytica is based.  

The acquisition comes as AI analytics has emerged as a differentiator in the expanding cloud contact center market and as Twilio — a leading provider of cloud-based communications tools for developers — prepares for the general release of its first prebuilt contact center platform, Twilio Flex.

Founded in 2017, Ytica sells a range of real-time analytics, reporting and performance management tools that contact center vendors can add to their platforms. In addition to Twilio, Ytica has partnerships with Talkdesk and Amazon Connect that are expected to continue.

Twilio is targeting Twilio Flex at large enterprises looking for the flexibility to customize their cloud contact centers. The platform launched in beta in March and is expected to be commercially released later this year.

The vendor’s communications platform as a service already supports hundreds of thousands of contact center agents globally. Twilio Flex places those same developer tools into the shell of a contact center dashboard preconfigured to support voice, text, video and social media channels.

The native integration of Ytica’s software should boost Twilio Flex’s appeal as businesses look for ways to save money and increase sales by automating the monitoring and management of contact center agents. 

Ytica’s portfolio includes speech analytics, call recording search, and real-time monitoring of calls and agent desktops. Businesses could use the technology to identify customer trends and to give feedback to agents.

Contact center vendors tout analytics in cloud

The marketing departments of leading contact center vendors have placed AI at the center of sales pitches this year, even though analysts say much of the technology is still in the early stages of usefulness.

This summer, Google unveiled an AI platform for building virtual agents and automating contact center analytics. Twilio was one of nearly a dozen vendors to partner with Google at launch, along with Cisco, Genesys, Mitel, Five9, RingCentral, Vonage, Appian and Upwire.

Within the past few months Avaya and Nice inContact have also updated their workforce optimization suites for contact centers with features including speech analytics and real-time trend reporting.

Enterprise technology buyers say analytics will be the most important technology for transforming customer experiences in the coming years, according to a recent survey of 700 IT and business leaders by Nemertes Research Group Inc., based in Mokena, Ill.

Kontron heeds carrier demand for software, buys Inocybe

Kontron has acquired Inocybe Technologies, adding open source networking software to the German hardware maker’s portfolio of computing systems for the telco industry.

Kontron, which announced the acquisition this week, purchased Inocybe’s Open Networking Platform as telcos increasingly favor buying software separate from hardware. Kontron is a midsize supplier of white box systems to communications service providers (CSPs) and cable companies.

CSPs are replacing specialized hardware with more flexible software-centric networking, forcing companies like Kontron and Radisys, which recently sold itself to Reliance Industries, to reinvent themselves, said Lee Doyle, principal analyst at Doyle Research, based in Wellesley, Mass.

“This is part of Kontron’s efforts to move in a more software direction — Radisys has done this as well — and to a more service-oriented model, in this case, based on open source,” Doyle said.

Inocybe, on the other hand, is a small startup that could take advantage of the resources of a midsize telecom supplier, mainly since the market for open source software is still in its infancy within the telecom industry, Doyle said.

While Kontron did not release financial details, the price for Inocybe ranged from $5 million to $10 million, said John Zannos, previously the chief revenue officer of Inocybe and now a general manager of its technology within Kontron. The manufacturer plans to offer Inocybe’s Open Networking Platform as a stand-alone product while also providing hardware specially designed to run the platform.

Inocybe’s business

Inocybe’s business model is similar to that of Red Hat, which sells its version of open source Linux and generates revenue from support and services on the server operating system. Under Kontron, Inocybe plans to continue developing commercial versions of all the networking software built under the Linux Foundation.

Open source is free, but making it work isn’t.
Lee Doyleprincipal analyst, Doyle Research

The Open Networking Platform includes parts of the Open Network Automation Platform (ONAP), the OpenDaylight software-defined networking controller and the OpenSwitch network operating system. Service providers use Inocybe’s platform as a tool for traffic engineering, network automation and network functions virtualization.

Tools like Inocybe’s deliver open source software in a form that’s ready for testing and then deploying in a production environment. The more difficult alternative is downloading the code from a Linux Foundation site and then stitching it together into something useful.

“Open source is free, but making it work isn’t,” Doyle said.

Before the acquisition, Inocybe had a seat on the board of the open source networking initiative within the Linux Foundation and was active in the development of several technologies, including OpenDaylight and OpenSwitch. All that work would continue under Kontron, Zannos said.

Endpoint security tool fueled OpenText’s Guidance Software acquisition

TORONTO — When OpenText acquired Guidance Software in September 2017, the content management vendor needed its endpoint security tool.

Of course, OpenText also was pleased that endpoint security tool came with some other attractive assets: the well-known data forensics application seen on CSI and used by law enforcement and government investigators; an E-discovery platform; and Guidance’s loyal customer list.

Although OpenText plans to support all of those other assets in its aggressive growth-through-acquisition strategy — and one longtime customer confirms that needed integrations are underway — the biggest draw was the endpoint security tool.

OpenText’s private cloud has 50 million endpoints today, and is expanding as more customers migrate more data into it, CEO and CTO Mark Barrenechea said.

“We wanted to enter the security market,” he said during an OpenText Enterprise World media question and answer session.

While OpenText built its customer base on content management, which in time has evolved into content services, customers are demanding tighter hybrid cloud security, as well as content access control.

The endpoint security tool from Guidance fills in technological “white space” OpenText needed to fill, while acquiring Covisint brought much-needed ID management, Barrenechea concluded.

OpenText Enterprise World 2018 image
OpenText Enterprise World 2018

AI coming to EnCase

Guidance’s flagship application, EnCase, is used to collect and petrify data so it remains legally admissible in civil and criminal trials.

Lalith Subramanian, vice president of engineering for analytics, security and discovery at OpenText, said in an interview that the endpoint security tool now is needed mostly for laptops on the OpenText network.

But more use cases are coming as OpenText customers prepare IoT implementations that will multiply that number and as sensors come online, Subramanian said.

“People are not there yet but they’re going to get there,” he said. “Our challenge is more to support the breath of the platforms that are possible.”

Subramanian also said that a secondary opportunity OpenText saw for the Guidance acquisition was incorporating Guidance’s Magellan content-specific AI tools.

Guidance included no AI in its applications, but AI can help humans performing e-discovery for lawsuits, as well as data forensics investigations to sort documents and classify data.

We wanted to enter the security market.
Mark BarrenecheaCEO and CTO, OpenText

FBI investigators, Subramanian said, tell OpenText they are overwhelmed with digital data associated with cases and AI may quickly be able to identify patterns and starting points for evidence that sometimes take teams days to figure out.

OpenText forensicist James Kritselis has been assisting Guidance customers in extracting data from devices for years, taking on the most intractable cases to catch criminals.

He said he sees AI as a potential boon for finding connections (“link analysis” in investigator parlance) in data that aren’t obvious to humans. One example would be when a criminal might conduct relevant conversations — or pieces of conversations — in multiple apps.

“If I see WhatsApp on a phone, AI would be able to start to look in Bumble or Tinder — to figure out what other social media apps would be relevant,” Kritselis said in an interview at the conference.

Integrations coming together

Meanwhile, Liberty Mutual Group’s  insurance investigation unit doesn’t need the endpoint security tool as much as it does linkage with other OpenText applications and services, said Brian Morrison, principal business systems analyst. His group, based in Dover, N.H., had used OpenText and Guidance software separately for years.

While some customers may have felt apprehension when OpenText acquired Guidance, Morrison said he has seen some quick wins in consolidating workflows already and looks forward to more.

Getting information for evidence out of Guidance products and into OpenText required many connectors and third-party helper applications. That process also is a drag on IT staffers, keeping up with the needs for preserving data through the workflow so it remains legally admissible.

“[I’m looking forward to] being able to get there without all these connectors,” Morrison said.

“These are application developers and systems support people. I’m taking their time for something that if I could just get [from OpenText], they could work more on supporting the users, working on reporting, analytics and other things instead of grabbing something for me that’s three years old and absolutely meaningless to them,” he said.