Tag Archives: software

Adobe acquisition of Marketo could shake up industry

The potential Adobe acquisition of Marketo could unsettle the customer experience software market and give Adobe, which is mainly known for its B2C products, a substantial network of B2B customers from Marketo.

Adobe is in negotiations to acquire marketing automation company Marketo, according to reports.

“It’s a trend that B2B customers are trying to become more consumer-based organizations,” said Sheryl Kingstone, research director for 451 Research. “Marketo is maybe throwing in the towel in being a lead marketing vendor on its own.”

But, reportedly, talks between Adobe and Marketo’s holding company may not lead to a deal.

Ray Wang, founder of Constellation Research, said leaks could be coming from Vista Equity Partners Management, which bought Marketo in 2016 and took the company private, in the hopes of adding another bidder to the race to acquire Marketo.

“If people think Adobe would buy Marketo, maybe it would get SAP to think about it,” Wang said. “The question is, who needs marketing automation or email marketing? And when you think about the better fit at this moment, it’s SAP.”

When reached for comment, Adobe declined, adding that it does not comment on acquisition rumors or speculation.

Adobe expanding to B2B

Marketo said it had roughly 4,600 customers when it was acquired by Vista Equity. It’s unclear whether Adobe and Marketo have much overlap between customer bases, but there could be product overlap between the software vendors.

Marketo is maybe throwing in the towel in being a lead marketing vendor on its own.
Sheryl Kingstoneresearch director, 451 Research

Adobe has its Marketing Cloud system, and both vendors offer basic martech features, like lead scoring, lead segmentation, web tracking, SMS marketing, personalized web content and predictive analytics. But an Adobe acquisition of Marketo would allow Adobe to expand into a wider B2B market, while allowing Marketo to offer its users the ability to market more like a B2C vendor using Adobe’s expertise.

“It’s a huge benefit for Marketo when you look at Adobe,” Kingstone said.

“Marketo has struggled in a B2B sense when its customers try to implement an ABM [account-based marketing] strategy,” she said.

Despite any potential overlap with its own products’ marketing capabilities, Adobe could find the chance to break into a pool of nearly 5,000 B2B customers compelling.

“There’s a lot of value in Marketo, and Adobe has been gun shy about entering B2B,” Wang said.

Adobe’s alliance

If the Adobe acquisition reports turn out to be accurate, it would amplify what has already been a busy year for the vendor. In May, Adobe acquired commerce platform Magento for a reported $1.7 billion.

A Reuters report about the Adobe acquisition of Marketo said likely prices will well exceed the $1.8 billion that Vista paid for Marketo when it took Marketo private.

Over the past few years, industry-leading companies in the CRM and customer experience spaces have sought to build alliances with other vendors.

Adobe and Microsoft have built a substantial partnership and have even gone to market together with products, while Salesforce and Google unveiled their partnership and product integrations last year at Salesforce’s annual Dreamforce conference.

Marketo has been one of the few major martech vendors without an alliance. Combining its technologies with Adobe’s creative suite and potentially Microsoft’s B2B breadth could make a significant imprint on the industry.

“If this is real, then it means Adobe has gotten serious about B2B,” Wang said.

Editor’s note: TechTarget offers ABM and project intelligence data and tools services.

Ytica acquisition adds analytics to Twilio Flex cloud contact center

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Contact center vendors tout analytics in cloud

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

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

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

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

VMworld pushes vSAN HCI to cloud, edge

VMware executives predict the vSAN hyper-converged software platform will grow rapidly into a key building block for the vendor’s strategy to conquer the cloud and other areas outside the data center.

VMware spent a lot of time discussing the roadmap for its vSAN hyper-converged infrastructure (HCI) software roadmap at VMworld 2018 last month. The vSAN news included short-term specifics with the launch of a private beta program for the next version, along with more general overarching plans for the future.

VMware executives made it clear that vSAN HCI will play a big role in its long-term cloud strategy. They painted HCI as a technology spanning from the data center to the cloud to the edge, as it brings storage, compute and other resources together into a single platform.

The vSAN HCI software is built into VMware’s vSphere hypervisor, and is sold as part of integrated appliances such as Dell EMC VxRail and as Ready Node bundles with servers. VMware claims more than 14,000 vSAN customers, and IDC lists it as the revenue leader among HCI software.

VMware opened its private beta program for vSAN 6.7.1 during VMworld, adding file and native cloud storage and data protection features.

VSAN HCI: From DC to cloud to edge

During his opening day keynote at VMworld, VMware CEO Pat Gelsinger called vSAN “the engine that’s just been moving rapidly to take over the entire integration of compute and storage to expand to other areas.”

Where is HCI moving to? Just about everywhere, according to VMware executives. That includes Project Dimension, a planned hardware as a service designed to bring VMware SDDC infrastructure on premises.

“The definition of HCI has been expanding,” said Yanbing Li, VMware senior vice president and general manager of storage and availability. “We started with a simple mission of converging compute and storage by putting both on a software-defined platform running on standard servers. This is where a lot of our customer adoption has happened. But the definition of HCI is expanding up through the stack, across to the cloud and it’s supporting a wide variety of applications.”

VSAN beta: Snapshots, native cloud storage

The vSAN 6.7.1 beta includes policy-based native snapshots for data protection, NFS file services and support for persistent storage for containers. VMware also added the ability for vSAN to manage Amazon Elastic Block Storage (EBS) in AWS, a capacity reclamation feature and a Quickstart guided cluster creation wizard.

If it pans out as we hope, it will be data center as a service.
Chris GreggCIO, Mercy Ships

Lee Caswell, VMware vice president of products for storage and availability, said vSAN can now take point-in-time snapshots across a cluster. The snapshot capability is managed through VMware’s vCenter. There is no native vSAN replication yet, however. Replication still requires vSphere Replication.

Caswell said the file services include a clustered namespace, allowing users to move files to VMware Cloud on AWS and back without requiring separate mount points for each node.

The ability to manage elastic capacity in AWS allows customers to scale storage and compute independently,

“This is our first foray into storage-only scaling,” Caswell said.

The automatic capacity redemption will reclaim unused capacity on expensive solid-state drive storage.

Caswell said there was no timetable for when the features will make it into a general availability version of vSAN.

Mercy Ships was among the customers at VMworld expanding their vSAN HCI adoption. Mercy Ships uses Dell EMC VxRail appliances running vSAN in its Texas data center and is adding VxRail on two hospital ships that bring volunteer medical teams to underdeveloped areas. They include the current Africa Mercy floating hospital and a second ship under construction.

“The data center for us needs to be simple, straightforward, scalable and supportable,” Mercy Ships CIO Chris Gregg said. “That’s the dream we’re seeing through hyper-converged infrastructure. If it pans out as we hope, it will be data center as a service. Then, as an IT department we can focus on things that are really important to the organization. For us, that means serving more patients.”

HubSpot enterprise edition unveiled

BOSTON — Since its inception, HubSpot has been known as a software company for SMBs, providing low-cost or free versions of marketing automation and CRM software, eventually adding sales and service tools.

Now the inbound marketing automation software vendor is targeting the enterprise market, with new products that the company said are commercially available now.

At its annual user conference, Inbound 2018, HubSpot unveiled a lineup of HubSpot enterprise tools aimed at helping companies that have outgrown the vendor’s initial products stay with HubSpot.

HubSpot had to expand reach

HubSpot “was losing customers, so it needed to expand,” said Predrag Jakovljevic, principal analyst at Technology Evaluation Centers.

Jakovljevic said with the HubSpot enterprise products, the company can target larger companies that need more scalability. He said HubSpot enterprise products can scale up to companies with up to about 2,000 employees.

The launch was not without its glitches. Early Sept. 6, the morning after HubSpot introduced the enterprise platform, an outage occurred. Tweeters quickly exposed it via the #HubSpotDown hashtag. HubSpot got it back online, blaming “configuration code” issues in a company blog.

HubSpot also released a video creation tool and a CMS product.

HubSpot CEO and co-founder Brian Halligan
HubSpot co-founder and CEO Brian Halligan keynotes at Inbound, HubSpot’s annual user conference

The branding could be seen as slightly confusing, as the term “enterprise” is commonly used to refer to the largest of organizations — ones with multiple departments scattered across locations, said Laurie McCabe, an analyst and partner at SMB Group. HubSpot, however, is using enterprise in terms of scaling up an organization’s processes.

“In the tech industry, we’ve taken the word ‘enterprise’ to mean large businesses,” McCabe said. “HubSpot is just continuing to grow with its customers.”

Moving to enterprise

Among the new HubSpot enterprise offerings are Sales Hub Enterprise and Service Hub Enterprise.

Sales Hub Enterprise offers the capability to build out best practices and resources for a sales team — useful for enterprises trying to get large sales teams working in the same direction. Service Hub Enterprise includes features to help teams track against service-level agreements and other service metrics.

The existing Marketing Hub Enterprise received upgrades around analytics and custom bot capabilities. HubSpot now offers three levels of sales, marketing and service products: starter, professional and enterprise.

[HubSpot] was losing customers, so it needed to expand.
Predrag Jakovljevicprincipal analyst, Technology Evaluation Centers

Users at Inbound 2018 expressed enthusiasm about some of the new features, but also wondered whether HubSpot enterprise products were right for their organization.

“We’re trying to embrace tech and bring an old-fashioned niche market into the modern world,” said Chad Wiertzema, creative marketing manager at ITM TwentyFirst, an independent life insurance firm. “We’ve used [HubSpot Marketing Hub] for about a year now at the professional level, and we’re wondering if it makes sense for us to use the enterprise product.”

Wiertzema said he spoke to a HubSpot rep about the enterprise product and whether ITM TwentyFirst would benefit from it, as the company has grown over the past five years.

“We’re getting close to it,” he said, referring to his company’s growth and whether it is ready for larger scale platform from HubSpot.

HubSpot adds video creation

HubSpot said it hopes that its new suite of products will enable its customers to better sell customer experiences, rather than products or services.

“The product used to win,” said Brian Halligan, co-founder and CEO of HubSpot, in a keynote. “Now the customer experience is what wins.”

HubSpot’s CTO and other co-founder, Dharmesh Shah, echoed that sentiment from the conference stage.

“Improving your experience by 10 times is much easier than improving your product by 10 times,” Shah said.

HubSpot also released a video feature available across its suite of products. HubSpot Video — powered by partner Vidyard — will include video hosting, in-video forms and a video creation tool.

HubSpot Video enables marketers to host and manage video files for campaigns, according to the company. Sales reps can create and share personalized videos from the CRM and service teams can help customers more completely with personalized service videos.

“Videos are what customers want,” McCabe said. “And they are sometimes easier to produce than blog posts.”

Video for creating content

Other users spoke positively about the potential for HubSpot Video, with creating content becoming a bigger priority for many companies.

Meanwhile, other features across all three HubSpot enterprise products include Slack integrations, machine learning for predictive lead scoring and Conversations — HubSpot’s communication unifier, previewed a year ago and commercially released in August 2018.

HubSpot also released a stand-alone CMS tool to help with website creation, as well as a Service Hub Starter product, which helps organizations do entry-level service requests like ticketing, help desk services and connecting with customers through live chat.

Pricing for HubSpot products varies depending on whether an organization licenses the starter, professional or enterprise level.

SmartBear-Zephyr deal spotlights software quality tools shake-up

Consolidation continues to reshape the software quality tools landscape as vendors seek to wean app dev teams off legacy tools for digital transformation initiatives.

The latest shake-up is SmartBear’s acquisition this week of Zephyr, a San Jose, Calif., maker of real-time test management tools, primarily for Atlassian’s Jira issue tracking tool, and for continuous testing and DevOps. This follows the Somerville, Mass., company’s deal in May to acquire Hiptest, in Besancon, France, to enhance continuous testing for Agile and DevOps teams.

Highlight on support for Atlassian’s Jira

Atlassian, Slack and GitHub provide three of the top ecosystems that developers use for ancillary development tools, said Ryan Lloyd, SmartBear’s vice president of products. Atlassian Marketplace’s overall revenue this past year is $200M, according to Atlassian financial reports. Zephyr for Jira is the top-grossing app on the Atlassian Marketplace, with more than $5 million in revenue since 2012.

Ryan Lloyd, SmartBearRyan Lloyd

Zephyr strengthens SmartBear’s portfolio with native test management inside Jira, and the Zephyr Enterprise product represents a modern replacement for Quality Center, HPE’s former software now owned by Micro Focus, Lloyd said.

Meanwhile, Hiptest supports behavior-driven development, and overlaps a bit with Zephyr, said Thomas Murphy, a Gartner analyst in Spokane, Wash.

SmartBear’s portfolio of software quality tools also includes SoapUI, TestComplete, SwaggerHub, CrossBrowserTesting, Collaborator and AlertSite.

Girding for the competition

SmartBear’s moves echo those of other vendors in the software quality tools space as they fill out their portfolios to attract customers from legacy test suites, such as Micro Focus’ Quality Center and Mercury Interactive, to their platforms, Murphy said. They also want to tap into Jira’s wide adoption and teams that seek to shift to more agile practices in testing.

Other examples in the past year are Austrian firm Tricentis’ acquisition of QASymphony, and Idera, in Houston, which acquired the TestRail and Ranorex Studio test management and automation tools from German firm Gurock Software and Austria’s Ranorex GmbH, respectively.

[Software test vendors] have different tool stacks for different types of users … [but] the more you can drive consistent look and feel that is best, especially as you push from teams up to the enterprise.
Thomas Murphyanalyst, Gartner

However, vendors that assemble tools from acquisitions often end up with overlaps in features and functions, as well as very different user experience environments, Murphy said.

“They have a little feeling that they have different tool stacks for different types of users,” he said. “But I believe the more you can drive consistent look and feel that is best, especially as you push from teams up to the enterprise.”

Test management is a key part of a company’s ability to develop, test and deploy quality software at scale. Modern software quality tools must help organizations transition into a digital transformation, yet continue to adapt to the requirements of cloud scale companies.

“Organizations must get better at automation, they must have tools that support them with figuring out testable requirements on through to code quality testing, unit testing, exploratory testing, functional, automation and performance testing,” Murphy said. “This story has to be built around a continuous quality approach.”

VMware takes NSX security to AWS workloads

VMware has introduced features that improve the use of its NSX network virtualization and security software in private and public clouds.

At VMworld 2018 in Las Vegas, VMware unveiled an NSX instance for AWS Direct Connect and technology to apply NSX security policies on Amazon Web Services workloads. Also, VMware said Arista Networks’ virtual and physical switches would enforce NSX policies — the result of a collaboration between the two vendors.

VMware is applying NSX security policies, including microsegmentation, on AWS workloads by adding support of NSX-T to VMware Cloud on AWS. NSX-T provides networking and security management for containers and non-VMware virtualized environments. VMware Cloud on AWS is a hybrid cloud service that runs the VMware software-defined data center stack on AWS.

The latest AWS feature is in NSX-T Data Center 2.3, which VMware introduced at VMworld. Other features added to the newest version of NSX-T include support for containers and Linux-based workloads running on bare-metal servers. NSX-T uses Open vSwitch to turn a Linux host into an NSX-T transport node and to provide stateful security services.

VMware plans to release NSX-T 2.3 by November.

NSX on AWS Direct Connect

To help companies connect to AWS, VMware introduced integration between NSX and AWS Direct Connect. The combination will provide NSX-powered connectivity between workloads running on VMware Cloud on AWS and those running on a VMware-based private cloud in the data center.

AWS Direct Connect lets companies bypass the public internet and establish a dedicated network connection between a data center and an AWS location. Direct Connect is particularly useful for companies with rules against transferring sensitive data across the public internet.

Finally, VMware introduced interoperability between Arista’s CloudVision and NSX. As a result, companies can have NSX security policies enforced on Arista switches running either virtually in a public cloud or the data center.

Arista CloudVision manages switching fabrics within multiple cloud environments. Last year, the company released a virtualized version of its EOS network operating system for AWS, Google Cloud Platform, Microsoft Azure and Oracle Cloud.

VMware is using its NSX portfolio to connect and secure infrastructure and applications running in the data center, branch office and public cloud. For the branch office, VMware has integrated NSX with the company’s VeloCloud software-defined WAN to provide microsegmentation for applications at the WAN’s edge.

VMware competes in multi-cloud networking with Cisco and Juniper Networks.

Box Activity Stream embeds Salesforce, Slack in Box viewer

SAN FRANCISCO — With Box Activity Stream, the content management software vendor is bidding to make its cloud platform a collaboration hub for all Box users’ daily communications by integrating with popular third-party apps like Slack, Salesforce and DocuSign.

Unveiled at the BoxWorks 2018 conference here, Box Activity Stream enables users to use apps in the file preview pane of the Box user interface, where users tag each other about file sharing and exchange messages.

As well as giving users the ability to share and post links on non-Box apps, the new feature also recommends apps for people to use in conjunction with a file they are working on in Box. The app recommendations are customized according to how often a user chooses them, their popularity in the company, and the file type with which they are most frequently associated.

Announcement-beta cycle

Box Activity Stream is expected to see beta release next year, following a pattern of Box product releases being announced the year before they are available in beta.

Analysts familiar with Box Activity Stream said the technology is a useful addition to the Box platform, but that it also puts Box in the position of competing with a host of software platforms to be the go-to hub for enterprise users, and could also lead to notification overload.

“It helps Box go from cloud file storage to being an interactive user experience that involves content. It makes it a more collaborative workspace,” said Alan Lepofsky, an analyst at Constellation Research.

Vendors vying to be digital hub

“In theory, it’s a great concept,” Lepofsky added. “But everyone wants to be the digital hub. Everyone wants to fight for everybody’s attention and eyeballs and to do that they want to bring in all the other products.”

Everyone wants to be the digital hub.
Alan Lepofskyanalyst, Constellation Research

Meanwhile, the company views Box Activity Stream as a key part of its digital workplace strategy to redefine content management, workflow and services as digital first, said Faizan Buzdar, senior director of product management at Box.

While modern SaaS enterprise applications have accelerated time-to-market and time-to-adoption rates, they have also created a sort of scattering of content, Buzdar said.

“It’s an awesome trend, but at the same time it creates a challenge. How do I know what’s happening, how do I know where all that content lives?” he said.

Box Activity Stream enables users to, say, create a document in response to an email, send it to a collaborator for editing, send it to someone else over Slack and then attach it to an account in Salesforce or NetSuite.

With that process, Buzdar said, “our goal is to avoid content fragmentation and segmentation and let enterprises apply the same security and compliance layers across all their content from the perspective of the touch points that their end users have.”

Buzdar said Box has seen demand for this kind of capability among users in CRM, sales and ERP.

Screenshot of new Box Activity Stream feature
Box Activity Stream showing integrations with Slack, Salesforce and DocuSign

Google integrations

In addition to Box Activity Stream, Box on the first day of the conference said its previously announced Box for G Suite and Gmail integrations are now available for public beta use.

Box enterprise users have been calling for Google integrations more and more, Buzdar said.

“We love Google. We work closely with Google,” Buzdar said. “Customers are coming in who are basically deciding to standardize on Google. If you’re a big company, say with 100,000 employees, somewhere in the organization you have Google.”

The company also said Box Feed, which was announced at BoxWorks 2017, will also now go into public beta. The machine learning feature provides personalized updates, activities and recommended Box content.

A primitive precursor to Box Activity Stream was rolled out in 2011 when Box added a collaboration feature to its then mostly cloud document storage-focused platform, which it termed “activity streams.”

Mobile and desktop screenshots of Box Feed system
Box Feed displaying content trends, activity

Possible confusion, more engagement

As for Box Feed, Karen Hobert, a Gartner analyst, said with Box Activity Stream, Box runs the risk of confusion between the two.

“One would think a user might want them combined as long as they could control the experience. But maybe the different UI experiences — Activity Stream in viewers, Feed in Box UI — will mitigate any confusion,” Hobert said.

But Hobert said she sees value in Box Activity Stream in terms of smoothing what can be a sometimes disjointed experience toggling between apps and Box.

“Basically, I see it as a way to keep employees engaged in Box throughout the day. Certainly users will like not having to bounce around from app to app,” she said. “Activity Stream clearly makes a more seamless experience with Box and content in other apps. In the end, Box wants to — and needs to — be a destination that users won’t live without.”

Hobert also questioned Box’s record on delivering on new systems and features, noting that there were “significant delays” in two earlier products, Box Relay and Box Sync, and that Box Feed and Box Skills, the company’s high-profile AI play that was announced nearly a year ago, are still in beta.

Lepofsky said he expected significant news at the conference about the much-touted Box Skills system.

“Otherwise, they’re going to look bad,” he said.

JetStream Data Protection safeguards data on the cloud

Cloud software development vendor JetStream Software is moving into backup with JetStream Data Protection, the newest member of its Cross-Cloud Data Management Platform.

JetStream Software is demonstrating its data protection software this week at VMworld. The application is in technology review and will enter beta in the fourth quarter of this year, with general availability scheduled for the first quarter of 2019.

JetStream Data Protection protects VMware environments by using continuous data capture and continuous replication methods, rather than the more commonly used snapshot-based backups.

The other applications of JetStream Cross-Cloud Data Management Platform are JetStream Migrate and JetStream Accelerate. JetStream Migrate moves live enterprise virtual machines (VMs) and their workloads into the cloud, while JetStream Accelerate uses nonvolatile memory in a low-latency storage tier to increase storage and compute performance.

JetStream Data Protection captures data through the use of VMware vSphere APIs for I/O Filtering (VAIO). It replicates that data to a low-latency log on an on-premises appliance before sending it through a crash-consistent data pipe to a cloud data center also running vSphere or a cloud-based object store.

The core technology in JetStream Data Protection is the I/O filter.

“It’s a way for a third-party technology to be integrated into the hypervisor to capture data as it moves between the virtual machine and the virtual disk,” said Rich Petersen, president and founder of JetStream Software, based in San Jose, Calif. “When you intercept data in this manner, it has much less impact on application performance than when creating a snapshot.”

Close connection with VMware

Only customers running VMware will be able to use JetStream Data Protection, as the company’s I/O filter is built on the vSphere-exclusive VAIO. According to Jeff Byrne, senior analyst and consultant at Taneja Group in Hopkinton, Mass., VAIO is unique.

“As far as I’m aware, VMware is the only vendor that has implemented I/O filters in user space in the hypervisor [ESXi] I/O stack,” he said. “Prior to VAIO, I/O filters were generally implemented in virtual appliances [that have access to I/O streams] or in the kernel itself. These approaches tended to be operationally complex to manage and, in the case of kernel deployment, risked introducing bugs or other instabilities.”

Byrne pointed out that many engineers and executives working at JetStream Software came from FlashSoft, a company that worked closely with VMware to develop I/O filters for caching and replication. JetStream used this familiarity and expertise to create JetStream Data Protection.

Still, Petersen said building software to take advantage of VAIO isn’t trivial. Any given on-premises environment could have hundreds or even thousands of VMs, and it’s difficult to handle the sheer volume of data going through the I/O filter. JetStream Data Protection handles that by replicating the data to a nonvolatile memory-based appliance.

“You have to have a highly scalable and very low-latency methodology for capturing it and replicating it somewhere else,” Petersen explained. “It really does produce a problem of a fire hose of data in the data center and a garden hose of connectivity onto the cloud, so you have to find a way to get around that. And the way we got around it is we took 50 garden hoses and strapped them together, basically.”

Screenshot of JetStream Data Protection
JetStream Data Protection’s user interface

Moving toward data management

Long term, where we see the company going is extending policy-based data management beyond just availability.
Rich Petersenpresident and founder, JetStream Software

While the individual products of the platform enable data resilience, data migration and I/O acceleration, Petersen stressed that the goal of the overall platform is ultimately data management.

“Long term, where we see the company going is extending policy-based data management beyond just availability,” he said. “We do believe because of our position in the hypervisor, where we are in the data I/O path, we can also help support policies for maintaining service-level agreements, identifying and moving data to best-execution venues, and ensuring compliance with respect to things like data sovereignty and regulatory compliance.”

Petersen said JetStream is looking for ways to bring the Cross-Cloud Data Management Platform to other hypervisors, such as Microsoft Hyper-V and KVM.

Like the vendor’s other products, JetStream Data Protection will be sold through enterprise technology resellers, cloud service providers and managed service providers.

M-Files cloud subscription turns hybrid with M-Files Online

To reflect the desire for flexibility, and regulatory shifts in the enterprise content management industry, software vendors are starting to offer users options for storing data on premises or in a cloud infrastructure.

The M-Files cloud strategy is a response to these industry changes. The information management software vendor has released M-Files Online, which enables users to manage content both in the cloud and behind a firewall on premises, under one subscription.

While not the first ECM vendor to offer hybrid infrastructure, the company claims that with the new M-Files cloud system, it is the first ECM software provider to provide both under one software subscription.

“What I’ve seen going on is users are trying to do two things at once,” said John Mancini, chief evangelist for the Association of Intelligent Information Management (AIIM). “On one hand, there are a lot of folks that have significant investment in legacy systems. On the other hand, they’re realizing quickly that the old approaches aren’t working anymore and are driving toward modernizing the infrastructure.”

Providing customer flexibility

It’s difficult, time-consuming and expensive to migrate an organization’s entire library of archives or content from on premises to the cloud, yet it’s also the way the industry is moving as emerging technologies like AI and machine learning have to be cloud-based to be able to function. That’s where a hybrid cloud approach can help organizations handle the migration process.

Organizations need to understand that cloud is coming, more data is coming and they need to be more agile.
John Mancinichief evangelist, Association of Intelligent Information Management

According to a survey by Mancini and AIIM, and sponsored by M-Files, 48% of the 366 professionals surveyed said they are moving toward a hybrid of cloud and on-premises delivery methods for information management over the next year, with 36% saying they are moving toward cloud and 12% staying on premises.

“We still see customers that are less comfortable to moving it all to the cloud and there are certain use cases where that makes sense,” said Mika Javanainen, vice president of product marketing at M-Files. “This is the best way to provide our customers flexibility and make sure they don’t lag behind. They may still run M-Files on premises, but be using the cloud services to add intelligence to your data.”

M-Files cloud system and its new online offering act as a hub for an organization’s storehouse of information.

“The content resides where it is, but we still provide a unified UI and access to that content and the different repositories,” Javanainen said.

M-Files Online screenshot
An M-Files Online screenshot shows how the information management company brings together an organization’s content from a variety of repositories.

Moving to the cloud to use AI

While the industry is moving more toward cloud-based ECM, there are still 60% of those in the AIIM survey that want some sort of on-premises storage, according to the survey.

“There are some parts of companies that are quite happy with how they are doing things now, or may understand the benefits of cloud but are resistant to change,” said Greg Milliken, senior vice president of marketing at M-Files. “[M-Files Online] creates an opportunity that allows users that may have an important process they can’t deviate from to access information in the traditional way while allowing other groups or departments to innovate.”

One of the largest cloud drivers is to realize the benefit of emerging business technologies, particularly AI. While AI can conceivably work on premises, that venue is inherently flawed due to the inability to store enough data on premises.

M-Files cloud computing can open up the capabilities of AI for the vendor’s customers. But for organizations to benefit from AI, they need to overcome fears of the cloud, Mancini said.

“Organizations need to understand that cloud is coming, more data is coming and they need to be more agile,” he said. “They have to understand the need to plug in to AI.”

Potential problems with hybrid clouds

Having part of your business that you want more secure to run on premises and part to run in the cloud sounds good, but it can be difficult to implement, according to Mancini.

“My experience talking to people is that it’s easier said than done,” Mancini said. “Taking something designed in a complicated world and making it work in a simple, iterative cloud world is not the easiest thing to do. Vendors may say we have a cloud offering and an on-premises offering, but the real thing customers want is something seamless between all permutations.”

Regardless whether an organization is managing through a cloud or behind a firewall, there are undoubtedly dozens of other software systems — file shares, ERP, CRM — which businesses are working with and hoping to integrate its information with. The real goal of ECM vendors and those in the information management space, according to Mancini, is to get all those repositories working together.

“What you’re trying to get to is a system that is like a set of interchangeable Lego blocks,” Mancini said. “And what we have now is a mishmash of Legos, Duplos, Tinker Toys and erector sets.”

M-Files claims its data hub approach — bringing all the disparate data under one UI via an intelligent metadata layer that plugs into the other systems — succeeds at this.

“We approach this problem by not having to migrate the data — it can reside where it is and we add value by adding insights to the data with AI,” Javanainen said.

M-Files Online, which was released Aug. 21, is generally available to customers. M-Files declined to provide detailed pricing information.

Mavenlink M-Bridge tether professional services automation silos

Embedded API integration is a significant trend across the software management universe that’s used by marquee-brand independent software vendors, like Salesforce and Red Hat, to break through data access and delivery barriers. Now, API integration has arrived in professional services automation platforms.

Designed for service organizations, such as law firms and nonprofits, professional services automation (PSA) software provides resource management, project management and project billing capabilities for enterprise applications. Organizations typically implement PSA platforms in silos and invest in integration PaaS (iPaaS) or integration middleware to connect with enterprise applications via prebuilt integration APIs.

Mavenlink, a cloud PSA platform provider in Irvine, Calif., hopes to bridge this connectivity gap with M-Bridge, an OpenAPI integration platform to help businesses standardize the data flow between operational platforms. Partner or customer integrations built into Mavenlink using M-Bridge are approved and added to other packaged integrations for other customers to use.

Systems of record, such as sales and financial systems, are typical uses for M-Bridge prebuilt integrations. Examples include integration with an accounting system to help manage and monitor expenses, project billings and a project burn rate; or link with a customer relationship management system to provide alerts about critical needs, such as new staffing requirements for delivering a project.

Streamlining application integration should help companies include more integrations in the initial phase of the implementation.
John Ragsdalevice president of service technology research, TSIA

Most PSA vendors publish integration APIs and packaged integrations to enterprise applications, such as Salesforce and Microsoft Dynamics. M-Bridge fills PSA users’ need for standardized API-based integration, which can allow reuse of integration models from one project to another, said John Ragsdale, vice president of service technology research for TSIA, an IT research firm in San Diego.

Connecting API integration to software management tools hits business users’ sweet spot for functionality and pricing, which sits between a simple set of published integration APIs on the low end and enterprise-level iPaaS and integration middleware on the other. PSA is the latest sector of software management tools enhanced with enterprise-level API integration. Earlier this year, Salesforce added standardized API integration capabilities to its software line with its MuleSoft acquisition, and Red Hat fused integration capabilities into its 3Scale API management product.

M-Bridge is the first domain-specific integration platform in the PSA market, Ragsdale said. Other PSA vendors include FinancialForce, Kimble, Upland, Workday and others.

API integration increased reusability, speed

Ragsdale said he frequently hears PSA software adopters complain about unmet ROI expectations, the causes of which are blamed on siloed data, too many applications and lack of adoption by employees averse to navigate them.

“Streamlining application integration should help companies include more integrations in the initial phase of the implementation, boosting time to value for the project, as well as employee adoption,” he said.

M-Bridge’s prebuilt integrations will help reduce the time to link the Mavenlink platform with other software platforms, said Kim Bernall, product manager at Talisys, a financial sector independent software vendor in Golden, Colo., which uses Mavenlink for resource management during project delivery lifecycles. Each Talisys development project involves the same repetitive tasks; Mavenlink PSA already allows the company to standardize process across projects and monitor and track project activities.

“M-Bridge is going to help us organize the API calls that we’re using now in a more integrated fashion,” Bernall said. Talisys started using OpenAPI over a year ago and with Mavenlink’s support created documentation for use cases. “I am so much more self-sufficient in looking at the documentation and creating calls on my own,” she said.