Tag Archives: provider

Developers could ease DevOps deployment with CircleCI Orbs

CI/CD platform provider CircleCI has introduced a suite of 20 integrations that automate deployment and were developed with prominent partners including AWS, Azure, Google Cloud, VMware and Salesforce.

These integrations, known as CircleCI Orbs, enable developers to quickly automate deployments directly from their CI/CD pipelines. CircleCI launched Orbs in November 2018, and today there are more than 1,200 listed in its registry. But users created the vast majority of them; the difference with CircleCI’s internally created orbs is that they’re backed by vendor support.

CircleCI Orbs are shareable configuration packages for development builds, said Tom Trahan, CircleCI’s vice president of business development. The orbs define reusable commands, executors and jobs so that commonly used pieces of configuration can be condensed into a single line of code, he said.

The process of automating deployment can be challenging, which is why CircleCI added this suite of out-of-the-box integrations.

Orbs have two primary benefits for developers, said Chris Condo, an analyst at Forrester Research. “They can be certified by the third parties that create them, and they are maintainable pieces of code that contain logic, actions and connections to CD [continuous delivery] capabilities,” he said.

The orbs help CircleCI operate in an increasingly competitive market that includes open-source Jenkins as well as the commercial CloudBees Jenkins Platform, GitLab and GitHub, as well as cloud platform providers such as AWS and Microsoft.

Orbs are very similar in design to the best package managers that you see — like npm for Node.js, or like the Java library or Ruby Gems.
Tom TrahanVice president of business development, CircleCI

“When we launched Orbs, it was because our customers were asking us for a way to operate the same way that they operate within the broader open source world, particularly when you think about open source frameworks for various languages,” Trahan said. “Orbs are very similar in design to the best package managers that you see — like npm for Node.js, or like the Java library or Ruby Gems.”

These are all frameworks created so that bundles of code could be packaged up and made available to developers, which is what the CircleCI Orbs do, Trahan added.

Developers don’t want to have to “reinvent the wheel,” when they can simply access bundles of code and best practices that others have already developed, he said.

Multi-cloud trend drives need for easier deployment

Anything that removes boring configuration work from a developer’s plate is likely to be welcome, said James Governor, an analyst at RedMonk, based in Portland, Maine.

“CircleCI building out a catalog of deployment orbs makes a lot of sense, particularly as the market becomes increasingly multi-cloud oriented,” Governor said. “Enterprises want to see their vendors offer a wide range of supported platforms. The Orb approach allows for standardized, repeatable deployments and rollbacks.”

However, the process of automating deployments can be problematic for some teams because of the time it takes to write integrations with services such as AWS ECS or Google Cloud Run, Trahan said. The CircleCI deployment orbs are designed to limit the complexity and time spent creating integrations.

“Customers are asking for simpler ways to connect their dev and CD processes; Orbs helps them do that,” Forrester’s Condo said. “So I see Orbs as a very nice evolutionary step that allows teams to build maintainable abstractions between their development and deployment processes.”

How commercially successful the new suite of Orbs will be remains to be seen, but conceptually, the approach has been embraced by CircleCI users. Since their launch in November 2018, CircleCI orbs are now used by 13,000 user organizations, with around 40,000 repositories and nine million CI/CD pipelines, Trahan said.

Pricing for CircleCI’s CI/CD pipeline services is free for small teams and starts at $30 a month for teams with four or more developers. Pricing for enterprise customers starts at $3,000 a month. The orbs are free for all CircleCI users.

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How Genesys is personalizing the customer experience with Engage, Azure and AI | Transform

Microsoft and Genesys, a global provider of contact center software, recently announced a partnership to enable enterprises to run Genesys’ omnichannel customer experience solution, Genesys Engage, on Microsoft Azure. According to the two companies, this combination will provide a secure cloud environment to help companies more easily leverage AI to address customer needs on any channel.

Headquartered in Daly City, California, Genesys has more than 5,000 employees in nearly 60 offices worldwide. Every year, the company supports more than 70 billion customer experiences for organizations like Coca-Cola Business Services North America, eBay, Heineken, Lenovo, PayPal, BOSCH, Quicken and more.

Transform spoke with Barry O’Sullivan, executive vice president and general manager of Multicloud Solutions for Genesys, to explore how technology is reinventing the customer service experience.

TRANSFORM: How are technologies like artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning and cloud transforming the customer service sector?

O’SULLIVAN: It’s broader than customer service. It’s the entire customer experience, which encompasses any point at which businesses engage with consumers, whether it’s in a marketing, sales or service context. What cloud, AI and machine learning enable is the ability to make every experience unique to each individual. Every consumer wants to feel like they’re the only customer that matters during each interaction with a brand. These technologies allow organizations to understand what customers are doing, predict what they will need next and then deliver it in real time.

Traditionally, companies haven’t been able to do that well, because it’s hard to get a fix on a consumer as they move between channels. Maybe they come to a physical store one day, then call the next day or engage via web chat. These technologies allow brands to stitch together every customer interaction, and then use the resulting data to personalize the experience.

TRANSFORM: Can you talk a little bit more about that customer journey and what customers will experience going forward?

O’SULLIVAN: Let’s use contacting the cable company to get internet service as an example. You check out their website, but maybe you get stuck and use web chat to interact with a customer service representative. Today’s technologies allow businesses to connect the dots to better understand the customer.

Before these technologies were available, interactions were disconnected, and important customer details and context didn’t move from one department or agent to the next. We all know what that’s like – just think about a customer service experience when you had to repeat your name and birthdate every time you were passed to a new agent.

Today’s technology can tie together a customer’s details, like their favored communication channel, past purchases, prior service requests and more, so the business really knows them. Then, using AI, it can match that customer with the contact center agent who has the best chance of successfully resolving the issue and achieving a specific business outcome, such as making a related sale.

TRANSFORM: All of those kinds of experiences seem to be present in some form today. Is there a change coming that’s going to take the consumer experience to the next level?

O’SULLIVAN: Personalized service is not a new concept, but very few businesses get it right. Today, it’s about so much more than targeting personas or market segments.

It’s really about enabling organizations to link together their customers’ and employees’ experiences to deliver truly memorable, one-of-a-kind interactions. When it’s done right, organizations already know who the customer is, what he or she wants and the best way to deliver it.

That means understanding customers so well that businesses know the best times to contact them, on which channel and even the best days for an appointment. It’s no longer one-size-fits-all service – it’s tailor-made customer care for each consumer.

TRANSFORM: Are your own customers ready to adopt the technologies to enable this kind of new experience?

O’SULLIVAN: When it comes to cloud, it’s not a question of if, but when and how. And that’s one of the reasons the announcement between Genesys and Microsoft is so exciting. We have a lot of customers, especially large enterprises, who love Genesys and love Azure and really want to see that combination come together. So, giving them that option and that choice is really going to accelerate the migration to cloud.

In terms of adopting AI and machine learning, many companies are in the early phases, but recognize the enormous potential of the technology. What makes AI truly compelling in the customer experience market is its ability to unlock data. Increasingly, businesses use digital channels, like web chat and text, to communicate with consumers, which combined with traditional voice interactions has resulted in copious amounts of data being produced daily. The key for organizations is figuring out how to harness and leverage it to more fully understand customers, their experiences and behaviors, as well as the needs of human agents. That’s where Genesys comes in.

TRANSFORM: How would you describe your experience working with Microsoft?

O’SULLIVAN: It’s a great partnership because we’ve got a common view of the customer and a very aligned vision on cloud. It’s all about delivering agility and innovation quickly and reliably to our joint customers. So, it really helps when we’re both all in on the cloud, all in on customer experience.

Our customers are really excited about this combination of Genesys and Azure. They can simplify their maintenance, reduce costs and streamline the buying process. We believe in the advantages of moving to cloud, and obviously Azure is a leader there.

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Impinj partners get new program to drive IoT business

Impinj Inc., a RAIN RFID solution provider based in Seattle, has unveiled a global program for its partner ecosystem, replacing an earlier channel partner program.

The Impinj Partner Network aims to ensure the partner community “contains the depth and breadth” of the vendor’s RAIN RFID capabilities to meet the needs of a global market, said Sandy Murti, vice president of global partner development at Impinj. Impinj partners covered under the new program include IoT resellers, ISVs, distributors, service providers and OEMs.

RAIN RFID is an industry alliance that promotes the adoption of ultrahigh frequency RFID technology.

Murti said the expansion of Impinj’s partner program recognizes the diverse set of partner types that play a role in designing, deploying and servicing offerings that incorporate the company’s products. The varied partner ecosystem shares a common “desire to build transformative IoT solutions,” he added.

Impinj partners include industry-specific systems integrators, such as Lowry Solutions and Smart Label Solutions, which specialize in supply chain and logistics. Another partner, Idox Health, focuses on the healthcare industry in the United Kingdom.

Sandy MurtiSandy Murti

Some Impinj partners are also active in development. Converging Data, for example, has built an Impinj IoT Connector for Splunk. The connector “enables RAIN RFID data gathered by the Impinj platform to be visualized and analyzed within the Splunk interface,” Murti said.

Webroot aims to boost MSPs’ cyberskills

George Anderson, product marketing director at Webroot, said the cybersecuritty vendor is looking at advancing from “v1” of its products to “v2” in 2020.

We are trying to make inroads in [the cybersecurity skills gap] and finding ways of helping MSPs … and skilling them up.
George AndersonProduct marketing director, Webroot

Anderson noted that the security environment has become increasingly more complex for managed service providers (MSPs) and software vendors alike. He said he sees MSPs realizing they are under pressure to step up their security capabilities and do more to protect themselves. Many MSPs view two paths forward: either outsource cybersecurity services from other providers or skill up their in-house staffs.

“We are trying to make inroads in [the cybersecurity skills gap] and finding ways of helping MSPs … and skilling them up,” Anderson said.

Anderson added that some of Webroot’s MSP users suffered security breaches in 2019.”We have seen some of our MSPs this year compromised. We have tried to help them. We have even seen our own console used against us this year,” he said.

Webroot was acquired by Carbonite in March. Carbonite announced in November it signed a definitive agreement to be acquired by OpenText, a content management vendor.

Other news

  • Security vendor Armor, so far this year, has identified 269 publicly disclosed cases of ransomware infections, 18 of which involve service providers. The service provider cases include MSPs, hosting companies, cloud software companies and a real estate listing service. Municipalities are the most frequently targeted group, followed by school districts and educational institutions, healthcare organizations and service providers, according to Armor, which has U.S. headquarters in Richardson, Texas.
  • Logically, an MSP based in Portland, Maine, has acquired IQ Technology Solutions, an outsourced IT services provider in Reno, Nev. The transaction closely follows Logically’s acquisition of Carolinas IT, announced Dec. 4. The MSP’s Nevada presence adds to other local service delivery teams in San Diego; Portland; Boston; Chattanooga, Tenn.; Yorktown Heights, N.Y.; and Raleigh, N.C.
  • Microsoft and Oracle have made their cloud interoperability alliance available in Canada. The partnership, which was announced in June, enables enterprise organizations to migrate and run workloads across the Oracle and Azure cloud platforms.
  • Agosto, a cloud services and development company based in Minneapolis, has achieved a Google Cloud Partner Program specialization in Work Transformation — Enterprise. The specialization recognizes a Google partner’s ability to deploy G Suite in enterprise organizations.
  • SolarWinds, an IT management software provider that sells to MSPs, has launched SolarWinds Backup for Office 365.
  • In the managed detection and response market, Arctic Wolf Networks, a security operations center-as-a-service company, has added Managed Containment to its MDR service. Meanwhile, eSentire Inc., which provides cloud-based MDR, said it is partnering with endpoint protection vendor CrowdStrike. MDR services have emerged as an adjunct to traditional managed security services.
  • Avaya signed an agreement with distributor Synnex Corp. to provide Avaya Cloud Office, a unified communications-as-a-service offering, to its channel partners. Synnex will distribute Avaya Cloud Office as part of its Avaya Master Agent program, according to Avaya.
  • 8×8, a cloud-based provider of contact center technology, opened its Elev8 Partner Program to VARs. The company said it made its platform available to global VARs after growing its referral partner program to more than 1,000 active agent partners.
  • Otava, a cloud services company based in Ann Arbor, Mich., has become a Premier Cloud Provider in the VMware Partner Network. The company, which provides cloud backup and disaster recovery as a service, among other offerings, sells to enterprises and channel partners.
  • InterVision, an IT service provider based in Santa Clara, Calif., and St. Louis, has appointed Mike Shea as associate vice president of cloud services. Shea, who will oversee the company’s cloud services and public sector delivery teams, was previously managing director and CTO for Accenture Products and Platforms’ Health and Human Services business unit.
  • ConnectWise has updated its executive management roster. Geoffrey Willison has been appointed COO. He was formerly CFO at Continuum, which ConnectWise purchased in October 2019. Brad Surminsky has been named CFO. He previously was CFO at D+H, ADP, ACNielsen Canada and CentralSquare Technologies. Clint Maddox, a strategic advisor to ConnectWise since July 2019, has been appointed chief revenue officer. And Steve Cochran has been appointed CTO. He was most recently CTO at GHX, a former Thoma Bravo portfolio company. The four executives report to ConnectWise CEO Jason Magee.
  • CenturyLink has expanded its channel management team with five new appointments. New appointments include Matt Thompson as CenturyLink’s sales director.

Market Share is a news roundup published every Friday.

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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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Microsoft and Salesforce expand strategic partnership to accelerate customer success

Salesforce names Microsoft Azure as its public cloud provider for Salesforce Marketing Cloud to help customers scale and grow; new integration between Salesforce Sales and Service Clouds with Microsoft Teams will boost productivity

REDMOND, Wash., and SAN FRANCISCO — Nov. 14, 2019 — Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) and Salesforce (NYSE: CRM) on Thursday announced plans to expand their strategic partnership to help customers meet the evolving needs of their businesses and boost team productivity. Salesforce has named Microsoft Azure as its public cloud provider for Salesforce Marketing Cloud. Salesforce will also build a new integration that connects Salesforce’s Sales Cloud and Service Cloud with Microsoft Teams.

Salesforce and Microsoft logos
“At Salesforce, we’re relentlessly focused on driving trust and success for our customers,” said Marc Benioff and Keith Block, co-CEOs, Salesforce. “We’re excited to expand our partnership with Microsoft and bring together the leading CRM with Azure and Teams to deliver incredible customer experiences.”

“In a world where every company is becoming a digital company, we want to enable every customer and partner to build experiences on our leading platforms,” said Satya Nadella, CEO, Microsoft. “By bringing together the power of Azure and Microsoft Teams with Salesforce, our aim is to help businesses harness the power of the Microsoft Cloud to better serve customers.”

Comments on the news

“Marriott has more than 7,200 properties spanning 134 countries and territories, so driving efficiency and collaboration is critical,” said Brian King, global officer, Digital, Distribution, Revenue Strategy, and Global Sales, Marriott International. “The combination of Salesforce and Microsoft enables our teams to work better together to enhance the guest experience at every touchpoint.”

“With 400 brands and teams in 190 countries, we are always looking for ways to scale more efficiently and strengthen collaboration,” said Jane Moran, chief technology advisor, Unilever. “The powerful combination of Salesforce and Microsoft enables us to be more productive and connect with each other and our customers like never before.”

Salesforce names Microsoft Azure as its public cloud provider for marketing cloud

With Salesforce Marketing Cloud, marketers are empowered to know their customers, personalize marketing with Einstein, engage with them across any channel, and analyze the impact to improve campaign performance. Bringing its Marketing Cloud workload to Azure, Salesforce joins the over 95% of Fortune 500 companies benefitting from an Azure infrastructure offering the most global regions of any cloud provider.

Through this partnership, Salesforce will move its Marketing Cloud to Azure — unlocking new growth opportunities for customers. By moving to Azure, Salesforce will be able to optimize Marketing Cloud’s performance as customer demand scales. This will reduce customer onboarding times and enable customers to expand globally more quickly with Azure’s global footprint and help address local data security, privacy and compliance requirements.

​Salesforce and Microsoft Teams integration will boost productivity

​As teamwork becomes a driving force in the workplace, people want to bring workflows and frequently used apps into their collaboration workspace environments. Sales and customer service are highly collaborative, team-centric functions, and many companies actively use both Salesforce CRM and Microsoft Teams. As part of this agreement, Salesforce will build a new integration that give sales and service users the ability to search, view, and share Salesforce records directly within Teams. The new Teams integration for Salesforce Sales and Service Clouds will be made available in late 2020.

Building on a commitment to customer success

These new integrations will build on existing solutions that enable mutual customers to be more productive, including the hundreds of thousands of monthly active users using Salesforce’s Microsoft Outlook integration to create, communicate and collaborate.

​About Salesforce​

Salesforce is the global leader in Customer Relationship Management (CRM), bringing companies closer to their customers in the digital age. Founded in 1999, Salesforce enables companies of every size and industry to take advantage of powerful technologies—cloud, mobile, social, internet of things, artificial intelligence, voice and blockchain—to create a 360° view of their customers. For more information about Salesforce (NYSE: CRM), visit: www.salesforce.com.

About Microsoft

Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT” @microsoft) enables digital transformation for the era of an intelligent cloud and an intelligent edge. Its mission is to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.

For more information, press only:

Microsoft Media Relations, WE Communications for Microsoft, (425) 638-7777, [email protected]

Stephanie Barnes, Salesforce PR, (415) 722-0883, [email protected]

Note to editors: For more information, news and perspectives from Microsoft, please visit the Microsoft News Center at http://news.microsoft.com. Web links, telephone numbers and titles were correct at time of publication but may have changed. For additional assistance, journalists and analysts may contact Microsoft’s Rapid Response Team or other appropriate contacts listed at http://news.microsoft.com/microsoft-public-relations-contacts.

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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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VMware Cloud on AWS migrations continue to pose challenges

Hybrid cloud solutions provider Unitas Global said it is expecting an uptick in VMware Cloud on AWS migrations ahead, but noted migrations continue to pose problems.

According to the Los Angeles-based company, which provides cloud infrastructure, managed services and connectivity services, VMware Cloud on AWS has gained traction among enterprise clients with extensive VMware-based legacy infrastructure. Those legacy environments in the past have proved difficult to migrate, but VMware Cloud on AWS has smoothed the journey.

“[VMware Cloud on AWS] has given us a path to migrating legacy environments to cloud with less friction,” said Grant Kirkwood, CTO at Unitas Global.

VMware Cloud on AWS has also drummed up customer interest for its disaster recovery capabilities, which can provide significant cost reductions compared with traditional enterprise DR infrastructure.  “We are seeing a lot of interest in this particular use case,” he said.

Despite its benefits, however, Kirkwood has found that VMware Cloud on AWS migrations can be problematic for some customers. The biggest challenge usually stems from enterprises’ often complexly interwoven environments. As enterprise environments evolve, they tend to amass lots of hidden dependencies, which can break during cloud migrations, he said. “So no matter how much planning you seem to do, you pick up a database or middleware application and migrate it to the cloud, and [then] five other downstream [apps] break because they were dependent on that and it wasn’t known,” Kirkwood said.

A report from Faction, a Denver-based multi-cloud managed service provider, cited cost management (51%) as the top VMware Cloud on AWS usage challenge, followed by network complexity (37%) and AWS prerequisites (27%). Faction’s report, published in August, was based on a survey of 1,156 IT and business professionals.

VMware poised for multi-cloud opportunities

While enterprise multi-cloud adoption remains in its early stages, Kirkwood said VMware has been successfully redeveloping its portfolio for when it matures.

Each of the leading public cloud providers are trying to differentiate themselves based on their unique capabilities and services, he said. For the most part, enterprise customers today haven’t even scratched the surface of Google, AWS and Microsoft’s rapidly expanding menus of services. As enterprises gradually embrace more public cloud services, “being able to leverage all of them across a common data set [will be valuable] for companies that are sophisticated enough to take advantage of that,” he said.

VMware Cloud on AWS chart

According to Kirkwood, Google Cloud Platform (GCP) excels in AI and machine learning tooling that can be applied to large data sets. GCP is also “very competitive in large-scale storage,” he noted. Meanwhile, AWS has developed powerful analytics and behavioral tooling. Microsoft, though it “has probably the least sophisticated offerings,” provides “the path of least resistance for Microsoft-centric workloads.”

“What I think is going to be interesting to watch is how VMware adapts what they are doing to provide value across that much broader spectrum of [public cloud] services as they gain popularity,” he said.

Other news

  • Insight Enterprises, a technology solutions and services provider based in Tempe, Ariz., has completed its acquisition of PCM Inc., a provider of IT products and services. The deal expands Insight’s reach into the mid-market, especially in North America, and adds more than 2,700 salespeople, technical architects, engineers, consultants and service delivery personnel, according to the company.
  • Iland, a hosted cloud, backup and disaster recovery services provider, said it is reaching “a broader audience of enterprise customers” through a growing network of resellers and managed services providers. SMBs had been the traditional customer set for the company’s VMware-based offerings. The Houston-based company also said it has expanded its channel program. The program provides a partner portal for training, certification and sales management; a new data center in Canada for regional partners in North America; and an updated Catalyst cloud assessment tool.
  • MSP software vendor ConnectWise launched an organization that aims to boost cybersecurity among channel partners. The Technology Solution Provider Information Sharing and Analysis Organization, or TSP-ISAO, offers its members access to threat intelligence, cybersecurity best practices, and other tools and resources.
  • Accenture disclosed two acquisitions this week. The company acquired Northstream, a consulting firm in Stockholm that works with communications service providers and networking services vendors, and Fairway Technologies, an engineering services provider with offices in San Diego; Irvine, Calif.; and Austin, Texas.
  • Ensono, a hybrid IT services provider, launched a managed services offering for VMware Cloud on AWS and said it has achieved a VMware Cloud on AWS Solution Competency.
  • Sparkhound, a digital solutions firm, said its digital transformation project at paving company Pavecon involved Microsoft Office 365, SharePoint, Azure SQL Database and Active Directory. The project also drew upon Power BI for business analytics and PowerApps for creating mobile apps on Android, iOS and Windows, according to the company.
  • US Signal, a data center services provider based in Grand Rapids, Mich., unveiled its managed Website and Application Security Solution. The offering builds upon the company’s partnership with Cloudflare, an internet security company, according to US Signal. The managed website and application security offering provides protection against DDoS, ransomware, malicious bots and application layer attacks, the company said.
  • Cloud communications vendor CoreDial rolled out its CoreNexa Contact Center Certification Program. The program offers free sales and technical training on the vendor’s contact center platform.
  • Security vendor Kaspersky revealed that more than 2,000 companies have joined its global MSP program. Kaspersky launched its MSP program in 2017.
  • Service Express, a third-party maintenance provider based in Grand Rapids, Mich., has opened an office in the Washington, D.C., area. The company specializes in post-warranty server, storage and network support.

Market Share is a news roundup published every Friday.

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NVMe arrays power Plex MRP cloud

Cloud ERP provider Plex Systems requires a storage setup that can host hundreds of petabytes, while meeting high thresholds for performance and availability. The software-as-a-service provider is in its final year of a storage transition in which it added NVMe arrays for performance and two additional data centers for high availability.

Plex has been running a cloud for 19 years, since its 2001 inception. It started as a multi-tenant application run through a browser for customers.

“We’ve always been a cloud to manufacturers,” said Todd Weeks, group vice president of cloud operations and chief security officer for Plex. “We’ve been 100% cloud-based to our customers.”

“It looks like a public cloud to our customers, but we see it as a private cloud,” he continued. “It’s not running in Azure, AWS or Google. It’s our own managed cloud.”

The Plex private cloud runs mainly on Microsoft software, including SQL Server, and Dell EMC storage, including PowerMax all-NVMe arrays.

Scaling out with two new data centers

Weeks said Plex’s capacity from customer data grows from 15% to 25% per year. He said it has more than 200 PB of data for about 700 customers and 2,300 worldwide manufacturing sites, and it processes more than 7 billion transactions a day with 99.998% availability.

Todd Weeks, group vice president of cloud operations and chief security officer at Plex SystemsTodd Weeks

“With the growth of our company, we wanted a much better scale-out model, which we have with our two additional data centers,” he said. “Then, we said, ‘Besides just scaling out, is there more we can get out of them around availability, reliability and performance?'”

The company, based in Troy, Mich., has storage spread among data centers in Auburn Hills, Mich.; Grand Rapids, Mich.; Denver; and Dallas. The data centers are split into redundant pairs for failover, with primary storage and backup running at all four.

Weeks said Plex has used a variety of storage arrays, including ones from Dell EMC, Hitachi Vantara and NetApp. Plex is in the final year of a three-year process of migrating all its storage to Dell EMC PowerMax 8000 NVMe arrays and VxBlock converged infrastructure that includes VMAX and XtremIO all-flash arrays.

Two data centers have Dell EMC PowerMax, and the other two use Dell EMC VxBlock storage as mirrored pairs. Backup consists of Dell EMC Avamar software and Data Domain disk appliances.

“If we lose one, we fail over to the other,” Weeks said of the redundant data centers.

The performance advantage

Weeks said switching to the new storage infrastructure provided a “dramatic increase in performance,” both for primary and backup data. Backup restores have gone from hours to less than 30 minutes, and read latency has been at least three times faster, he said. Data reduction has also significantly increased, which is crucial with hundreds of petabytes of data under management.

“The big win we noticed was with PowerMax. We were expecting a 3-to-1 compression advantage from Hitachi storage, and we’ve actually seen a 9-to-1 difference,” he said. “That allows us to scale out more efficiently. We’ve bought ourselves a couple of years of extra growth capacity. We always want to stay ahead of our customers’ needs, and our customers are database-heavy. We’re also making sure we’re a couple of years ahead of where we need to be performance-wise.”

Early all-flash arrays

Plex’s introduction to EMC storage came through XtremIO all-flash arrays. While performance was the main benefit of those early all-flash systems, Weeks said, the XtremIO REST API impressed his team.

“Being able to call into [the API] made it much more configurable,” he said. “Our storage engineers said, ‘This makes my job easier.’ It’s much easier than having to script and do everything yourself. It makes it much easier to implement and deploy.”

Weeks said Plex is reluctant to move data into public clouds because of the fees incurred for data transfers. But it does store machine information gathered from the Plex industrial IoT (IIoT) SaaS product on Microsoft Azure.

“We gather plant floor machine information and tie it into our ERP,” he said. “But we don’t use public clouds for archiving or storage.”

Plex’s IT roadmap includes moving to containerized applications, mainly to support the Plex IIoT service.

“We’re looking now at how we can repackage our application,” he said. “We’re just beginning to go in the direction of microservices and containers.”

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Press Release | Cubic Telecom

Cubic Telecom, a leading connectivity management software provider for the automotive and IoT industries, today announced ahead of next week’s Mobile World Congress event that it is collaborating with Microsoft on its Microsoft Connected Vehicle Platform (MCVP). Cubic Telecom will be the first seamless connectivity provider as a core service offering to MCVP for a global market. MCVP is a set of services built on Microsoft Azure designed to empower the automotive industry to create customer connected driving experiences.

Cubic Telecom’s core network spans more than 180 countries and over 65 mobile operator partnerships, with over 2M drivers already using Cubic’s connected car solution. This gives MCVP the power to create and deliver global scalability with local connectivity to automotive manufacturers. Through Cubic Telecom’s advanced eSIM technology, applications and technologies will be embedded into vehicles at the manufacturing stage, enabling simple logistics, Over-The-Air software updates, and giving automakers the power to collect data on cars’ performance.

Barry Napier, Cubic Telecom CEO said, “As global car manufacturers undertake to digitally transform their businesses, they are fuelled not just to achieve improved economies of scale, but rather to meet the scalability requirements for application processing, performance, storage, security and software updates. Our PACE Platform continuously demonstrates the ability to scale open interfaces and flexible workflow operations.”

“We are delighted to extend further our collaboration with Microsoft into the Microsoft Connected Vehicle Program Team. The collaboration between Cubic PACE, MCVP and Volkswagen is a prime example of digital innovation and we are proud to be chosen as the first global connectivity provider for MCVP.”

To enable a connected car is a complicated process for automakers and Microsoft sought to simplify this through a flexible and collaborative ecosystem. With MCVP the automotive manufacturer will enjoy the freedom to choose the vendors they wish to work with through Cubic’s PACE Platform. Cubic will provide global connectivity, with potential to include value-added services in the future.

Volkswagen is using Azure and MCVP for its Volkswagen Automotive Cloud, and Cubic on Azure for the connectivity solution. “We welcome the ecosystem coming together to provide a seamless solution for customers”, said Heiko Huettel, Volkswagen Automotive Cloud at Volkswagen.

Tara Prakriya, Partner Group Program Manager of MCVP and Mobility at Microsoft, said, “The automotive industry is experiencing a transformational period and connectivity will have an increased role to play in the future of driving. The Microsoft Connected Vehicle Program consists of a set of services that enable automotive manufacturers build global scalable connected vehicle solutions and deliver unique digital experiences for their customers.”

Prakriya added, “We chose Cubic Telecom as the first global connectivity provider for MCVP as it has a proven track-record in the automotive marketplace. With Cubic’s proven and scaled connected services, hosted on Microsoft Azure, we look forward to bringing the MCVP solution to market together at pace and discovering more possibilities for technological innovations.”

MCVP will power next-generation, connected vehicles with advanced navigation, predictive maintenance, remote monitoring of car features and more.

About Cubic

Cubic Telecom is a global connectivity platform company that offers mobility solutions that power connectivity for leading Internet of things (IoT), machine-to-machine (M2M) and mobile device companies across the globe.

An expert in Connected Intelligence, Cubic Telecom enables global scalability with local connectivity anytime, anywhere. Cubic provides connectivity in over 100 countries; the most robust network, device and retail partnerships worldwide; and flexible over-the-air (OTA) device management for clients and partners.

Cubic creates connectivity where there was none before, with a belief in the future of things: a future where everything is connected. Cubic’s vision of interconnectivity will improve lives, and make the world a more interesting and intelligent place to be. Clients which also believe in this work include Audi, Panasonic, Volkswagen, Woolworths and Rakuten.

Based in Dublin Ireland, Cubic Telecom’s partners and customers include some of the world’s leading Fortune 100 tablet and notebook manufacturers, retailers, and M2M and automotive companies. The company is privately held with over €75 million in funding by Audi Electronics Venture GmbH, Qualcomm, Valid, Enterprise Ireland and the Ireland Strategic Investment Fund, among others.

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Author: Caitlin Karpinski

Mini XL+, Mini E added to iXsystems FreeNAS Mini series

Open source hardware provider iXsystems introduced two new models to its FreeNAS Mini series storage system lineup: FreeNAS Mini XL+ and FreeNAS Mini E. The vendor also introduced tighter integration with TrueNAS and cloud services.

Designed for small offices, iXsystems’ FreeNAS Mini series models are compact, low-power and quiet. Joining the FreeNAS Mini and Mini XL, the FreeNAS Mini XL+ is intended for professional workgroups, while the FreeNAS Mini E is a low-cost option for small home offices.

The FreeNAS Mini XL+ is a 10-bay platform — eight 3.5-inch and one 2.5-inch hot-swappable bays and one 2.5-inch internal bay — and iXsystem’s highest-end Mini model. The Mini XL+ provides dual 10 Gigabit Ethernet (GbE) ports, eight CPU cores and 32 GB RAM for high-performance workloads. For demanding applications, such as hosting virtual machines or multimedia editing, the Mini XL+ scales beyond 100 TB.

For lower-intensity workloads, the FreeNAS Mini E is ideal for file sharing, streaming and transcoding video up to 1080p. The FreeNAS Mini E features four bays with quad GbE ports and 8 GB RAM, configured with 8 TB capacity.

The full iXsystems FreeNAS Mini series supports error correction RAM and Z File System with data checksumming, unlimited snapshots and replication. IT operations can remotely manage systems via Intelligent Platform Management Interface and, dependent on needs, can be built has hybrid or all-flash storage.

FreeNAS provides traditional NAS and delivers network application services via plugin applications, featuring both open source and commercial applications to extend usability to entertainment, collaboration, security and backup. IXsystems’ FreeNAS 11.2 provides a web interface and encrypted cloud sync to major cloud services, such as Amazon S3, Microsoft Azure, Google Drive and Backblaze B2.

At Gartner’s 2018 IT Infrastructure, Operations & Cloud Strategies Conference, ubiquity of IT infrastructure was a main theme, and FreeNAS was named an option for file, block, object and hyper-converged software-defined storage. According to iXsystems, FreeNAS and TrueNAS are leading platforms for video, telemetry and other data processing in the cloud or a colocation facility.

New FreeNAS Mini models were introduced to iXsystems' lineup for open source storage.
IXsystems’ FreeNAS Mini lineup now includes the high-end FreeNAS Mini XL+ and entry-level FreeNAS Mini E.

With the upgrade, the FreeNAS Mini series can be managed by iXsystems’ unified management system, TrueCommand, which enables admins to monitor all TrueNAS and FreeNAS systems from a single UI and share access to alerts, reports and control of storage systems. A TrueCommand license is free for FreeNAS deployments of fewer than 50 drives.

According to iXsystems, FreeNAS Mini products reduce TCO by combining enterprise-class data management and open source economics. The FreeNAS Mini XL+ ranges from $1,499 to $4,299 and the FreeNAS Mini E from $749 to $999.

FreeNAS version 11.3 is available in beta, and the vendor anticipates a 12.0 release that will bring more efficiency to its line of FreeNAS Minis.

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