Tag Archives: software

Employee activism, from composting to protests, is an HR issue

Similar to many software companies, CyberArk Software Ltd. has policies and and practices that appeal to people with skills in high demand. They include a social responsibility policy and catered lunches. The information security software firm also has something else that appeals to younger employees — an employee activism effort that brought about some real change.

Lex Register, an associate in corporate development and strategy at CyberArk, was hired in 2018. Soon after, he saw gaps in the firm’s environmental sustainability practices. The firm wasn’t, for instance, collecting food scraps for composting.

“If you’ve never composted before, the idea of leaving left out food in your office can be sort of a sticky subject,” Register said, who has a strong interest in environmental issues.

Register approached his managers at CyberArk’s U.S. headquarters in Newton, Mass., about improving its environmental sustainability. He had some specific ideas and wanted to put together an employee team to work on it. Management gave it approval and a budget.

Register helped organize a “green team,” which now makes up about 25% of its Newton office staff of 200. The firm’s global workforce is about 1,200.

CyberArk’s green team has four subgroups: transportation, energy, community and “green” habits in the office. It also has a management steering committee. Collectively, these efforts undertake a variety of actions such as volunteering on projects in the community, improving enviornmental practices in the office and working on bigger issues, such as installing electric vehicle charging stations for the office building.

When I think about the companies I want to work for, I really want to have pride in everything they do.
Lex RegisterAssociate in corporate development and strategy, CyberArk Software

“When I think about the companies I want to work for, I really want to have pride in everything they do,” Register said. 

Junior employees lead the effort

The green team subgroups are headed by junior employees, according to Register, who is 28.

“It’s a way for a lot of our junior employees who don’t necessarily have responsibility for managing people to sort of step up,” Register said. They “can run some of their own projects and show some leadership capabilities.”

Employee activism has become an increasingly public issue in the last 12 months. In May, for instance, thousands of Amazon employees signed a letter pressing the firm for action. In September, thousands walked out as part of the Global Climate Strike.

“This walkout is either a result of employees not feeling heard,” said Henry Albrecht, CEO at Limeade Inc., or employees feeling heard but fundamentally disagreeing with their leaders. Limeade makes employee experience systems. “The first problem has a simple fix: listen to employees, regularly, intentionally and with empathy,” he said. 

Some companies, such as Ford Motor Co., are using HR tools to listen to their employees and get more frequent feedback. In an interview with SearchHRSoftware, a Ford HR official said recently this kind of feedback encouraged the firm to join California in seeking emission standards that are stricter than those sought by President Trump’s administration.   

But employee activism that leads to public protest doesn’t tell the full employee activism story.

Interest in green teams rising

The Green Business Bureau provides education, assessment tools and processes that firms can use to measure their sustainability practices. In the past nine months, Bill Zujewski, CMO at the bureau, said it’s been hearing more about the formation of sustainability committees at firms. The employees leading the efforts are “almost always someone who’s a few years out of school,” he said.

HR managers, responding to “employee-driven” green initiatives, are often the ones Zujewski hears from.

Maggie Okponobi, funding coordination manager at School Specialty Inc, is one of the Green Business Bureau’s clients. Her employer is an educational services and products firm based in Greenville, Wisc. Her job is to help schools secure federal and state grants.

Okponobi is in an MBA program that has an emphasis on sustainability. As a final project, she proposed bringing a green certification to her company. The assessments evaluate a firm’s sustainability activities against best environmental practices.

Okponobi explained what she wanted to do to one of the executives. She got support and began her research, starting with an investigation of certification programs. She decided on Green Business Bureau assessments, as did CyberArk.

Company managers at School Speciality had been taking ad-hoc steps all along to improve sustainability. Efforts included installing LED lighting, and reducing paper useage by using both sides for printing and recycling, Okponobi said.

Okponobi collected data about the environmental practices for certification. The firm discovered it was eligible for gold level certification, one step below the highest level, platinum. 

The results were brought to an executive group, which included members from HR as well as marketing. Executives saw value in the ranking, and Okponobi believes it will help with recruiting efforts, especially with younger candidates. The company plans to create a green team to coordinate the sustainability efforts.

HR benefits from sustainability

Sustainability may help with retention, especially with younger workers, Okponobi said. “It gives them something exciting, positive to do in their workplace, and a goal to work toward,” she said.

Some employees are coming to workplaces with training on sustainability issues. One group that provides that kind of training is Manomet Inc., a 50-year-old science-based non-profit in Plymouth, Mass.

“We can’t make the progress that we need on climate change and other issues without the for-profit sector,” said Lora Babb, program manager of sustainable economies at Manomet.

Lora BabbLora Babb

The nonprofit takes about 20 undergrad college students each year, usually enrolled in majors that often have a sustainability component, and gives them “real world skills” to meet with businesses and conduct assessments. The training enables future employees to “make changes from the inside,” and understand practical, applied sustainability, Babb said.

This is not strictly an environmental assessment. The students also ask businesses about economic and social issues, including a workforce assessment that considers employee benefits, engagement and talent development, Babb said. 

A business with a strong environmental mission is “going to be far less effective at carrying out that mission if you are having constant workforce challenges,” Babb said.

And the results of such efforts can have an effect on culture. CyberArk’s employees have embraced composting, Register said. The company hired a firm that picks up food scraps about twice a week, processes them and makes compost — what master gardeners often refer to as black gold — available for employees to use in their home gardens. 

The results make employee composting efforts “very tangible for them,” Register said. 

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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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UCaaS vendor Intermedia adds Telax CCaaS to portfolio

Unified communications vendor Intermedia has added contact center software to its cloud portfolio. The move is the latest example of how the markets for UC and contact center technologies are converging.

Intermedia follows the lead of other cloud UC vendors, including RingCentral, Vonage and 8×8, in building or acquiring a contact center as a service (CCaaS) platform. Intermedia’s CCaaS software stems from the acquisition of Toronto-based Telax in August.

The Intermedia Contact Center will be available as a stand-alone offering or bundled with Intermedia Unite, a cloud-based suite of calling, messaging and video conferencing applications. Intermedia will sell the offering in three tiers: Express, Pro and Elite.

Express — sold only as an add-on to Intermedia Unite — is a basic call routing platform for small businesses. Pro includes more advanced call routing, analytics, and support for additional contact channels, such as chat.

Elite, the most expensive tier, integrates with CRM platforms and includes support for self-service voice bots, outbound notification campaigns and quality assurance monitoring. 

Intermedia has already integrated Express with its UC platform. It’s planning to do the same for Pro and Elite early next year.

Integrating UC and contact center platforms can save money by letting customer service agents transfer calls outside of the contact center without going through the public telephone network. Plus, communication between agents and others in the organization is more effective when everyone uses the same chat and video apps.

Based in Sunnyvale, Calif., Intermedia sells its technology to small and midsize businesses through 6,600 channel partners. Most of them are managed service providers that brand Intermedia’s service as their own.

In addition to UC and contact center, Intermedia offers email archiving and encryption, file backup and sharing systems, and hosted Microsoft email services.

Roughly 1.4 million people across 125,000 businesses use Intermedia’s technology. The company, founded in 1995 and now owned by private equity firm Madison Dearborn Partners, said its acquisition of Telax brought annual revenue to around $250 million. 

Founded in 1997, Telax sold its CCaaS platform exclusively through service providers, which rebranded it mostly for small and midsize businesses.

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ArubaOS-CX upgrade unifies campus, data center networks

Aruba’s latest switching hardware and software unifies network management and analytics across the data center and campus. The approach to modern networking is similar to the one that underpins rival Cisco’s initial success with enterprises upgrading campus infrastructure.

Aruba, a Hewlett Packard Enterprise company, launched this week its most significant upgrade to the two-year-old ArubaOS-CX (AOS-CX) network operating system. With the NOS improvements, Aruba unveiled two series of switches, the stackable CX 6300 and the modular CX 6400. Together, the hardware covers access, aggregation and core uses. 

The latest releases arrive a year after HPE transferred management of its data center networking group to Aruba. The latter company is also responsible for HPE’s FlexNetwork line of switches and software.

The new CX hardware is key to taking AOS-CX to the campus, where companies can take advantage of the software’s advanced features. As modular hardware, the 6400 can act as an aggregation or core switch, while the 6300 drives the access layer of the network where traffic comes from wired or wireless mobile or IoT devices.

For the data center, Aruba has the 8400 switch series  that also run AOS-CX. The hardware marked Aruba’s entry into the data center market, where it has to build credibility.

“Many non-Aruba customers and some Aruba campus customers are likely to take a wait-and-see posture,” said Brad Casemore, an analyst at IDC. 

ArubaOS-CX everywhere  

Nevertheless, having one NOS powering all the switches does make it possible to manage them with the Aruba software that runs on top of AOS-CX. Available software includes products for network management, analytics and access control. 

For the wired and wireless LAN, Aruba has ClearPass, which lets organizations set access policies for groups of IoT and mobile devices; and Central, a cloud-based management console. For the data center, Aruba has HPE SimpliVity, which provides automated switch configurations during deployment of Aruba and HPE switches.

CX switches
Aruba’s new line of CX 6300and 6400 switches

New features in the latest version of ArubaOS-CX include Dynamic Segmentation that lets enterprises assign polices to wired client devices based on port or user role. Other enhancements include support for an Ethernet VPN over VXLAN for data center connectivity.

Also, within the new 10.4 version of AOS-CX, Aruba integrated the Network Analytics Engine (NAE) with Aruba’s NetEdit software for orchestration of multiple switch configurations. NAE is a framework built into AOS-CX that lets enterprises monitor, troubleshoot and collect network data through the use of scripting agents.

Aruba vs. Cisco

How well Aruba’s unification strategy for networking can compete with Cisco’s remains to be seen. The latter company has had significant success with the Catalyst 9000 campus switching line introduced in 2017 with Cisco’s DNA Center management console. Some organizations use the DNA product in data center networking.

In the first quarter of 2019, Cisco’s success with the Catalyst 9000 boosted  its revenue share of the campus switching market by 5 points, according to the research firm Dell’Oro Group. During the same quarter, the combined revenue of the other vendors, which included HPE, declined.

In September, Gartner listed Cisco and Aruba as the leaders in the research firm’s Magic Quadrant for Wired and Wireless LAN Access Infrastructure.

Competition is fierce in the campus infrastructure market because enterprises are just starting to upgrade networks. Driving the current upgrade cycle is the switch to Wi-Fi 6 — the next-generation wireless standard that can support more devices than the present technology.

Wi-Fi 6 lets enterprises add to their networks IoT devices ranging from IP telephones and surveillance cameras to medical devices and handheld computers. The latter is used in warehouses and on the factory floor.

That transition will drive companies to deploy aggregation and access switches with faster port speeds and PoE ports to power wired IoT gear.

Enterprises skeptical of cross-domain networking

Aruba, Cisco and other networking vendors pushing a unified campus and data center haven’t convinced many enterprises to head in that direction, IDC analyst Brandon Butler said. Adopting that cross-domain technology would require significant changes in current operations, which typically have separate IT teams responsible for the campus and the data center.

IDC has not spoken to many enterprises that have centralized management across domains, Butler said. “This idea that you’re going to have a single pane of glass across the data center and the campus and out to the edge, I just don’t know if the industry is quite there yet.”

Meanwhile, Aruba’s focus on its CX portfolio has left some industry observers wondering whether it would diminish the development of FlexNetwork switches and software. 

However, Michael Dickman, VP of Aruba product line management, said the company plans to fully support its FlexNetwork architecture “in parallel” with the CX portfolio.

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New small business ERP delivers SAP Business One alternative

Priority Software has launched Priority Zoom, a range of cloud ERP products to help small businesses streamline operational tasks such as financials, inventory, sales and customer relationships.

Priority Zoom has built-in business intelligence analytics, advanced reports and dashboards to track and manage each phase of the sales cycle. Users can create sales orders, manage invoices and billing, synchronize purchasing processes, and automatically generate ledger, transaction, financial and cash flow reports, customer lists, product and services catalogs and pricing.

Designed for smaller businesses, Priority Zoom is $50 per user for up to five users. That’s slightly lower than a limited user subscription to SAP’s Business One ERP software for small and midsize companies, which lists for $54 per user, per month. The Business One Professional user license lists at $94 per user, per month.

According to Priority Software, customers who migrate to the platform can convert their data from Priority Software’s on-premises accounting program AccountEdge, or from other accounting software such as QuickBooks.

Priority Zoom is in contrast of Priority ERP, which is Priority Software’s full ERP offering for tens of thousands of users that includes capabilities for finance, manufacturing, logistics, human resources, time and attendance, BI, project management, CRM and warehouse management. It also offers open APIs, a mobile application generator, web software development kit and machine learning business process management.

There are many advantages to adopting an ERP platform, according to Cindy Jutras, the president of Mint Jutras, an advisory firm that specializes in enterprise applications. For small businesses specifically, Jutras highlights the advantage of having “a single source of data and truth.”

“Most companies will simply point to the visibility, transparency and efficiency gained,” she said. “If it just gets them out of spreadsheet hell — passing data back and forth, the risk of error, the lack of auditability — they view it as worth it.”

Jutras said that as ERP platforms continue to change in scale and price, it has become easier for smaller businesses to take on the migration.

“Every single company would benefit, but very often SMBs feel they can’t afford it, and therefore they try to make do with something less than ERP — perhaps desktop applications combined with the ubiquitous spreadsheets, or perhaps just spreadsheets,” she said.

That approach made sense in the past when early ERP systems were rigid and inflexible, limited in functionality, hard to install and implement and even harder to use, but that’s changed, she said.

“Solutions now are far more flexible and technology-enabled, provide many more features and functions, are easier to install, easier to implement and easier to use,” Jutras said. “And SaaS-based [ERP apps] allow even the smallest companies to invest without an upfront capital expenditure.”

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ElectionGuard available today to enable secure, verifiable voting – Microsoft on the Issues

In May, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella announced ElectionGuard, a free open-source software development kit (SDK) from our Defending Democracy Program. ElectionGuard is accessible by design and will make voting more secure, verifiable and efficient anywhere it’s used in the United States or in democratic nations around the world. Today we’re announcing that ElectionGuard is now available on GitHub so that major election technology suppliers can begin integrating ElectionGuard into their voting systems.

The ElectionGuard resources available on GitHub today extend across four GitHub repositories, or storage spaces, each described below.

ElectionGuard specification. The ElectionGuard specification includes both “informal” and “formal” road maps for how ElectionGuard works. The informal spec is authored by Dr. Josh Benaloh of Microsoft Research and provides the conceptual and mathematical basis for end-to-end verifiable elections with ElectionGuard. The formal spec contains detailed guidance manufacturers will need to incorporate ElectionGuard into their systems, including a full description of the API – which is the way voting systems communicate with the ElectionGuard software – and the stages of an end-to-end verifiable election.

Software code. This repository contains the actual source code vendors will use to build their ElectionGuard implementations. It is written in C, a standard language commonly used by open-source software developers and includes a buildable version of the API. This documentation is also viewable here. This code was built together with our development partner Galois.

Reference verifier and specification. As we announced in May, ElectionGuard enables government entities, news organizations, human rights organizations, or anyone else to build additional verifiers that independently can certify election results have been accurately counted and have not been altered. The resources available on GitHub today include a working verifier as well as the specifications necessary to build your own independent verifier.

Ballot marking device reference implementation. Voting system manufacturers will be free to build ElectionGuard into their systems in a variety of ways. At the Aspen Security Forum in July, we demonstrated a sample voting system, built with the help of industrial designer Tucker Viemeister, that we believe showcased a great way the features enabled by ElectionGuard can be used in voting systems. The ballot marking device we demonstrated included accessibility features built under the guidance of the Center for Civic Design, authors of the original “Anywhere Ballot,” and incorporated the Xbox Adaptive Controller as an optional device to mark ballots. The ballot marking device open source repository released today includes a variety of tools and visuals necessary to build or augment real-world election systems using the best of ElectionGuard.

These are exciting steps that enable individual voters to confirm their vote was properly counted, and assures those voters using an ElectionGuard system of the most secure and trustworthy vote in the history of the U.S. As we’ve previously announced, all major manufacturers of voting systems in the United States are working with us to explore ways to incorporate ElectionGuard into their systems including Clear Ballot, Democracy Live, Election Systems & Software, Dominion Voting Systems, Hart InterCivic, BPro, MicroVote, Smartmatic and VotingWorks. We’ve worked deeply with many of these companies over the summer to prepare them for today’s SDK release.

Finally, we’ve continued progress toward pilot programs, including work with Columbia University’s Columbia World Projects, that will put voting systems running ElectionGuard in the hands of voters for the 2020 elections or sooner. We look forward to sharing more on these pilots shortly.

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SAP HANA database pivotal to SAP’s past — and future

Twenty years ago, enterprises may have turned to SAP for back-office business enterprise software. But these days, SAP wants to be much more than that.

A big part of SAP’s strategy has to do with SAP HANA, an in-memory database the company initially released in 2010. It is now the gateway to what SAP calls the intelligent enterprise, where data is used to improve business processes and develop new business models.

The first part of this two-part series looks at how SAP, which has been around for 47 years, has transitioned from a company that focused primarily on back-office business enterprise software to one that endeavors to transform organizations into intelligent enterprises.

Broadening the scope

SAP’s story in the last 20 years has been one of continually broadening scope, according to Lloyd Adams, managing director of the East Region at SAP America Inc. He joined the company in 1998.

In the late 1990s and early 2000s, “we were known more as an ERP company — perhaps back office only,” Adams said. “But through the years, both through organic development and a combination of development and acquisition, we’ve positioned ourselves to bring the back office to the front office to help provide the intelligent enterprise.”

Anchored by SAP R/3, its pioneering client-server ERP platform, SAP entered a period of dramatic growth in the late 1990s. It rode the wave of Y2K fears, as businesses scrambled to consolidate IT on back-office ERP systems.

Joshua Greenbaum, principle, Enterprise Applications ConsultingJoshua Greenbaum

“The upgrade fever that Y2K created was really enormous and a lot of folks were pushing to use Y2K as a way to rationalize IT spending,” said Joshua Greenbaum, principal at Enterprise Applications Consulting. “Also the Euro changeover was coming, and there was a lot of interest in looking at SAP because of how it could help manage European currency changes. So those two phenomena were really operative in the late 1990s, and SAP was right at the forefront of it.”

At the same time that SAP’s ERP business was growing, however, it faced threats from the rise of internet-based business systems and on-premises best-of-breed applications like Siebel Systems, which created a popular CRM product that Oracle acquired in 2005, and Ariba, which sold a procurement product that SAP eventually acquired in 2012, according to Jon Reed, co-founder of the ERP news and analysis firm Diginomica.com.

“SAP was able to weather those storms while expanding their ERP footprint by building out a serviceable CRM module, as well as an HR module with a globalized payroll function that has stood the test of time,” Reed said. “Their core manufacturing base remained loyal and … preferred SAP’s ‘one throat to choke’ approach and extensive consulting partners.”

Not all of SAP’s efforts succeeded. Its SAP NetWeaver integration platform fell short, and the company failed to see Salesforce — or anything SaaS — coming, Reed said.

One of the main keys to SAP’s success was to encourage its customers to undergo IT and business process reengineering in the 1990s, even if it was extremely complex, according to analyst Dana Gardner, president of Interarbor Solutions LLC in Gilford, N.H.

“Such IT-instigated business change was — and is — not easy, and the stumbles by many companies to catch up to the client-server world and implement ERP were legendary,” he said. “But imagine if those companies had not made the shift to being digital businesses in the 1990s? When the web and internet hit, manual processes and nonintegrated business functions had to adapt to a connected world, so IT went from being for the business to being the whole business.”

The idea that applications and the supporting IT infrastructure work collectively using distributed yet common data and pervasive networking to provide the best information and processes is a given these days, but SAP made this possible first, Gardner said.

Milestones in SAP's 20-year journey from R/3 to the intelligent enterprise.

The SAP HANA big bang

But by the end of the 2000s, the radical new in-memory database SAP HANA was about to change SAP’s direction again.

The release of the SAP HANA database in 2010 was the critical development that allowed SAP to conceive and begin to sell the concept of the intelligent enterprise, according to Adams. If there was no HANA, there would not have been an intelligent enterprise.

Lloyd Adams, managing director, East Region at SAP America IncLloyd Adams

“It truly revolutionized the company, the industry and our ability to transcend conversations from a back-office perspective, but then be able to sit down with our customers and try and understand what were the main opportunities that they were looking to exploit or problems they were looking to solve,” he said.

The development of SAP HANA was driven in large part by the rivalry between SAP and Oracle, according to Greenbaum. The SAP ERP applications ran mostly on Oracle databases, and in the 2000s Oracle began to aggressively encroach on SAP’s territory in the enterprise software space with moves like the bitter acquisition of ERP vendor PeopleSoft.

“For SAP this was a real wake up call, because of the dependency that they had on the Oracle database,” Greenbaum said. “That realization that they needed to get out from under Oracle, along with some research that had already been going on with in-memory databases inside SAP, began the hunt for an alternative, and that’s where the HANA project started to bear fruit.”

It has been a long, slow process for SAP to move its customers off of Oracle, which is still something of a problem today, Greenbaum said. But he believes HANA is now firmly established as the database of choice for customers.

Missteps with the SAP HANA database?

However, the emphasis on the SAP HANA database might have also been a distraction that took the company away from innovating on the applications that form SAP’s core user base, according to analyst Vinnie Mirchandani, founder of Deal Architect.

Vinnie Mirchandani, analyst and founder, Deal ArchitectVinnie Mirchandani

“Every few years, SAP gets enamored with platforms and tools,” Mirchandani said. “NetWeaver and HANA, in particular, distracted the company from an application focus, without generating much revenue or market share in those segments.”

SAP was fundamentally correct that in-memory technology and real-time ERP were the ways of the future, but its push into databases with HANA is still a questionable strategy, according to Reed.

“Whether SAP should have entered the database business themselves is still open to second-guessing,” he said. “You can argue this move has distracted SAP from focusing on their homegrown and acquired cloud applications. For example, would SAP be much further ahead on SuccessFactors functionality if they hadn’t spent so much time putting SuccessFactors onto HANA?”

Buying into the cloud

SAP was slow to react to the rise of enterprise cloud computing and SaaS application like Salesforce, but it course corrected by going on a cloud application buying spree, acquiring SuccessFactors in 2011, Ariba in 2012, Hybris in 2013, Fieldglass and Concur in 2014.

Combining these cloud applications with SAP HANA “completely changed the game” for the company, Adams said.

“We eventually began to put those cloud line of business solutions on the HANA platform,” he said. “That’s given us the ability to tell a full intelligent enterprise story in ways that we weren’t fully poised to do [before HANA].”

SAP’s strategy of buying its way into the cloud has been largely successful, although efforts to move core legacy applications to the cloud have been mixed, Greenbaum said.

“SAP can claim to be one of the absolute leaders in the cloud enterprise software space,” he said. “It’s a legacy that is tempered by the fact that they’re still pulling the core legacy R/3 and ECC customers into the cloud, which has not worked out as well as SAP would like, but in terms of overall revenue and influence in the area, they’ve made their mark.”

Although SAP has proved to be adaptable to changing technologies and business trends, the future is in question. Part two of this series, will look at the release of SAP S/4HANA (the rewriting of SAP’s signature Business Suite on HANA), the emergence of the SAP intelligent enterprise, and SAP’s focus on customer experience.

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Quest Software updates NetVault Backup capabilities

Quest Software has updated NetVault Backup and released version 12.4, which includes extended Office 365 capabilities.

NetVault Backup is a data protection platform for hybrid data centers. It supports backup and recovery for a range of systems and, in addition to the increased capabilities for Office 365 Exchange Online and OneDrive, has added support for SAP HANA and Nutanix AHV.

The extended capabilities for Office 365 include the ability to backup and restore user mailboxes to any cloud, disk or tape-based storage. NetVault can also restore individual emails and files, including reinstating emails to specific folders in Outlook.

New OneDrive support enables users to back up and restore data from OneDrive user and group files and folders. NetVault Backup support for Office 365 Active Directory and SharePoint Online is expected later this year, according to Quest Software.

With the added support for SAP HANA and Nutanix AHV, NetVault Backup enables a unified administration experience within the same user interface used to control, operate and manage all data protection.

This version of NetVault also adds agentless protection of Nutanix AHV virtual machines through the new NetVault plug-in for Nutanix AHV. There is also now a NetVault plugin for SAP HANA, which Quest claims enables secure and consistent backups of SAP HANA databases. The plugin enables an SAP administrator to control the operations while using the NetVault Backup recovery and backup infrastructure.

This update is part of the push into enterprise by Quest. In 2010, the company acquired the NetVault platform from BakBone, and in 2018 it released the first NetVault Backup 12 version. The original 12.0 version made the application more scalable, and added the capability to run VMware plug-ins on any available proxy. Later that year, Quest Software added a plug-in to enable backup and recovery of Office 365 Exchange Online mailboxes.

Quest Software and its NetVault Backup product competes with the likes of vendors such as Veeam. The Veeam Backup and Replication platform similarly provides backup for virtual, physical and cloud workloads. Veeam’s product also has a new plug-in for SAP HANA and recovery programs for Microsoft Active Delivery, Exchange, SharePoint and SQL Server.

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Kaseya ramps up managed compliance services focus

MSP software vendor Kaseya revealed it has invested $10 million into a newly formed business unit dedicated to managed compliance services.

The division focuses on Kaseya Compliance Manager, a platform the vendor developed after acquiring RapidFire Tools in 2018. Kaseya Compliance Manager lets MSPs assess and monitor customers’ compliance posture within a number of regulatory frameworks, including the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), the Payment Card Industry Security Standard, and General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). The platform can also help MSPs and their customers demonstrate compliance with cyberinsurance policies. Kaseya recently appointed Max Pruger, formerly chief revenue officer at CloudJumper, to lead the unit as senior vice president and general manager of compliance.

“We as a company believe that compliance is the next big managed service. It is a close cousin to security … [and] a fantastic opportunity for MSPs to expand their business and monetize a very low-touch type of offering,” said Fred Voccola, CEO of Kaseya.

What Kaseya Compliance Manager does

Fred Voccola, CEO of KaseyaFred Voccola

According to Voccola, Kaseya’s compliance management platform scans a customer’s networks and infrastructure to gather about 70% to 90% of the data required by regulators. The remaining 10% to 30% of information can’t be obtained through automated processes, so the software generates a checklist to guide that information’s collection.

“What our product does is it automates everything that can be automated and then it lists the 50 to 100 items that have to be ‘manually’ proven,” Voccola said.

HIPAA, for example, states that a medical provider must physically store patient files in a room with secure locks on the doors. In this case, Kaseya Compliance Manager would direct the MSP and its customer to take photos of the door locks and load the photos into the software, he said.

Once the information is collected, MSPs can then generate documentation and reports to show the customer has met compliance requirements.

In addition, Voccola said the software lets MSPs continually monitor customers’ compliance status. MSPs can receive alerts if changes in a customer’s network or infrastructure cause a compliance issue.

Enabling managed compliance services

A portion of Kaseya’s $10 million investment will go into developing resources to help MSPs establish managed compliance practices. Resources include a content library to learn about how to price, sell and deliver the services. “MSPs don’t have to be an expert in the compliance framework with this offering. That’s the biggest part of it,” Voccola said.

Max Pruger, senior vice president and general manager of compliance, KaseyaMax Pruger

Kaseya is also encouraging MSPs to use the platform internally. Under certain regulatory frameworks, such as HIPAA, MSPs must demonstrate internal compliance before they can touch customer data. Voccola said Kaseya gives MSPs the license for their own internal usage for free when they purchase Kaseya Compliance Manager.

Pruger added that MSPs can also benefit from using the software internally for showing continual compliance with cyberinsurance policies. “Every MSP out there should have cyberinsurance,” Pruger noted.

Voccola said that regulatory compliance will soon become a common part of doing business for all MSPs in the U.S., especially as states roll out localized privacy legislation. He cited the California Consumer Privacy Act introduced in 2018, as an example.

Pruger agreed. “I will say that in the next 24 months, every single MSP will have to have a compliance practice, because every single state in the United States is going to have specific compliance rules that they are going to have to follow,” Pruger said.

In the next quarter, Pruger said he aims to bring Kaseya Compliance Manager to market across GDPR, cyberinsurance, HIPAA and NIST frameworks. “As far as cyberinsurance, HIPAA and NIST go within the U.S., every single MSP has to be [compliant with] at least one of those,” he said. He noted that he will look to add more compliance standards on the platform.

Only about 400 MSPs are currently using Kaseya Compliance Manager, Voccola noted — a number the company hopes to greatly increase in the coming months.

SADA offers flat-rate GCP services

SADA, a business and technology consultancy based in Los Angeles, launched four flat-rate packaged offers for Google Cloud Platform adopters.

The packaged services include Anthos First Step, Anthos Flat-Rate, Database Migration Flat-Rate and VM Migration Flat-Rate. SADA delivers the services for a flat price and according to a fixed time. Miles Ward, CTO at SADA, said the GCP services address customers’ uncertainty and risk when moving to the cloud. An organization may balk at a cloud migration service if the service provider can’t cite a definitive delivery schedule or set a fixed price.

“The ability to have a flat-rate offer lets the conversation start,” Ward said. He noted customers are more likely to greenlight a project if the service is prescriptive, time-bound and available at a specific price point.

The Anthos First Step package provides the first phase of setting up and using Google Anthos. The offering includes x86 portable or rack-mounted infrastructure and Google Anthos, VMware vCenter 6.5 and F5 Big-IP Virtual Addition. SADA provides on-site hardware and software installation, a hands-on lab and a help desk trained on Anthos/Kubernetes.

Anthos Flat-Rate covers the second phase of an Anthos implementation. The package includes everything in the first-step package as well as additional items including a review of the initial implementation, identification of production goals and stakeholders for readiness reviews, and any additional equipment delivery and validation, according to SADA.

The Database Migration Flat-Rate package includes migration of a customer’s database to GCP, while VM Migration Flat-Rate migrates a customer’s virtual machines to GCP.

Hostway, Hosting rebrand as Ntirety

Emil Sayegh, president and CEO at NtiretyEmil Sayegh

Hostway Services Inc. and Hosting, which merged in January, have rebranded as Ntirety.

The managed cloud services company is based in Austin, Texas, and has vendor certifications with companies such as AWS, Microsoft and Oracle. Emil Sayegh, president and CEO at Ntirety, cited “strong synergy” between the companies’ offerings and no overlap between their customer bases. On the IT side, the companies had both been using ScienceLogic to run their businesses. The consolidation of those instances has generated cost savings, Sayegh noted.

No additional acquisitions are in the offing this year, but Sayegh noted the potential for merger and acquisition activity in 2020.

Other news

Christian Alvarez as vice president, Americas Channel, at NutanixChristian Alvarez
  • Nutanix has appointed Christian Alvarez as vice president, Americas Channel. Alvarez was previously worldwide head of channels and distribution at Juniper Networks. He has also held positions at Cyan, a Ciena company; Avaya; eLandia Group; Connexion Technologies and Terremark Worldwide, a Verizon company. Nutanix said its partners include value-added resellers, distributors, system integrators, OEM partners and technology alliances.
  • Hewlett Packard Enterprise launched HPE ML Ops, a container-based software product to support the machine-learning model lifecycle, according the company. An HPE spokesperson said the vendor believes the product presents an opportunity for partners. “Channel partners need to build a practice in this area and develop expertise in data science, AI [and machine learning], and advanced analytics. It’s an opportunity for them to … provide a strategic advisory role for their customers as they look to deliver game-changing business innovation with AI,” the spokesperson said.
  • NYI, a hybrid IT solutions provider based in New York, has acquired a data center in Chicago. The former Navisite facility is geared toward edge and IoT requirements, according to the company.
  • In distribution news, Ingram Micro inked a deal with CoreKinect to provide its IoT sensors to U.S. channel partners. Meanwhile, Tech Data signed an agreement with OPAQ to provide its network-security-as-a-service cloud platform to U.S. service providers.
  • Mission, an MSP based in Los Angeles, said it obtained AWS APN Premier Consulting Partner status.
  • Axcient, a business availability and cloud migration company, unveiled a lead generation program that it said is free for all Axcient partners.
  • Opengear, which specializes in enterprise automation, network resilience and security, will host its first channel partner conference Sept. 16-17 in Dallas.

Market Share is a news roundup published every Friday.

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