Tag Archives: vendor

GPU-buffed servers advance Cisco’s AI agenda

Cisco Systems is the latest hardware vendor to offer gear tuned for AI and machine learning-based workloads.

Competition to support AI and machine workloads continues to heat up. Earlier this year archrivals Dell Technologies Inc., Hewlett Packard Enterprise and IBM rolled out servers designed to optimize performance of AI and machine learning workloads. Many smaller vendors are chasing this market as well.

“This is going to be a highly competitive field going forward with everyone having their own solution,” said Jean Bozman, vice president and principal analyst at Hurwitz & Associates. “IT organizations will have to figure out, with the help of third-party organizations, how to best take advantage of these new technologies.”

Cisco AI plan taps Nvidia GPUs

The Cisco UCS C480 ML M5 rack server, the company’s first tuned to run AI workloads, contains Nvidia Tesla V100 Tensor Core GPUs and NVLink to boost performance, and works with neural networks and large data sets to train computers to carry out complex tasks, according to the company. It works with Cisco Intersight, introduced last year, which allows IT professionals to automate policies and operations across their infrastructure from the cloud.

This Cisco AI server will ship sometime during this year’s fourth quarter. Cisco Services will offer technical support for a range of AI and machine learning capabilities.

Cisco intends to target several different industries with the new system. Financial services companies can use it to detect fraud and algorithmic trading, while healthcare companies can enlist it to deliver insights and diagnostics, improve medical image classification and speed drug discovery and research.

Server hardware makers place bets on AI

The market for AI and machine learning, particularly the former, represents a rich opportunity for systems vendors over the next year or two. Only 4% of CIOs said they have implemented AI projects, according to a Gartner study earlier this year. However, some 46% have blueprints in place to implement such projects, and many of them have kicked off pilot programs.

[AI and machine learning-based servers are] going to be a highly competitive field going forward with everyone having their own solution.
Jean Bozmanvice president and principal analyst, Hurwitz & Associates

AI and machine learning offers IT shops more efficient ways to address complex issues, but will significantly affect their underlying infrastructure and processes. Larger IT shops must heavily invest in training and the education of existing employees in how to use the technologies, the Gartner report stated. They also must upgrade existing infrastructure before they deploy production-ready AI and machine learning workloads. Enterprises will need to retool infrastructure to find ways to more efficiently handle data.

“All vendors will have the same story about data being your most valuable asset and how they can handle it efficiently,” Bozman said. “But to get at [the data] you first have to break down the data silos, label the data to get at it efficiently, and add data protection.”

Only after this prep work can IT shops take full advantage of AI-powered hardware-software tools.

“No matter how easy some of these vendors say it is to implement their integrated solutions, IT [shops] have more than a little homework to do to make it all work,” one industry analyst said. “Then you are ready to get the best results from any AI-based data analytics.”

Zoomdata unveils data visualization and analytics channel program

Zoomdata, a data visualization and analytics vendor, has launched a global partner program as it looks to expand its roster of systems integrators.

Unveiled this week, the Zoomdata Application Partner program offers access to support representatives and integrated support systems, training, and sales and marketing resources. Zoomdata’s SI partners can also tap deal registration and tracking through a partner portal, the vendor said.

Zoomdata said in the last year it experienced “3X growth” in channel sales of its data visualization and analytics technology. Much of those sales were derived from SI partners in European and Asia-Pacific markets. About 30% of Zoomdata’s business is international, said Russ Cosentino, co-founder and vice president of channel sales at Zoomdata, based in Reston, Va.

Cosentino said Zoomdata aims to have a global base of about 100 SI partners within the next year. About 30 partners, including global systems integrators Deloitte, Atos, Hitachi INS and Infosys, currently provide the vendor’s data visualization and analytics tools. Zoomdata also has alliances with regional SIs focused on specific geographic and vertical markets such as pharmaceuticals and life sciences, telecom, and financial services.

“For us, a good partner is a partner that brings to the table skilled resources [from] across the big data ecosystem,” Cosentino said.

Quisitive inks blockchain pact with SaaS provider

Quisitive Technology Solutions Inc., a Microsoft national solution provider, is under contract with Jumptuit, a SaaS company, to build a blockchain solution that tracks subscriptions and entitlements.

Jumptuit, based in New York, offers a search assistant service that uses AI to find users’ documents, photos, audio and video files. The SaaS offering supports Microsoft Office 365, Microsoft OneDrive and other cloud services.

Scotty Perkins, senior vice president of product innovation at Quisitive, said Microsoft referred Jumptuit to Quisitive after the SaaS provider approached Microsoft about a blockchain solution. Quisitive met with Jumptuit, held a requirements workshop and is now in the process of completing a proof of concept, he said. 

Quisitive’s propriety blockchain solution, which uses Microsoft Azure, will let Jumptuit track active subscriptions, who they belong to and when they are up for renewal. On the entitlement side, the blockchain offering will determine the level of information access users have based on the terms of their subscriptions.

Quisitive, a portfolio company of Fusion Agiletech Partners Inc., focuses on Microsoft technology and has made private blockchain deployment one of its areas of emphasis. Quisitive has offices in Dallas, Denver and Toronto.

Zebra Technologies targets healthcare partners

Zebra Technologies Corp. is offering preferred product pricing to participants in its recently launched healthcare specialization program.

The Lincolnshire, Ill., company targets a number of verticals, but has created a series of purpose-built products for the healthcare industry. Those include mobile computers, barcode scanners, printers, patient wristbands and barcode label supplies.

Bill Cate, vice president of global channel strategy, programs and operations at Zebra Technologies, said healthcare has emerged as the company’s strongest growth opportunity, with the North American market experiencing particularly rapid expansion.

Zebra Technologies’ healthcare specialization, part of the company’s PartnerConnect Partner Program, has four segments:

  • Healthcare solutions specialists — Companies in this category dedicate their entire business model to healthcare. Cate pointed to Cerner and McKesson as examples.
  • Group purchasing organization (GPO) provider specialists — GPOs aggregate purchasing to negotiate vendor discounts for healthcare organizations. This specialization segment is designed for partners that have built healthcare sales groups. Cate cited CDW and Insight Enterprises as examples.
  • Advanced specialists — This segment is for hardware and services integrators that have devoted a large percentage of their businesses to healthcare.
  • Specialists — Partners in this segment include systems integrators that maintain a focus on healthcare, but dedicate a smaller percentage of their business to that vertical compared with advanced specialists.

Benefits for partners obtaining Zebra Technologies’ healthcare specialization include preferred pricing on the company’s purpose-built healthcare products. Other features include performance rebates, deal registration and specialized channel account managers.

Battery tech promises longer flights for drone service providers

Impossible Aerospace has unveiled a drone capable of flying two hours on a single charge, a development the company said dramatically increases the battery-powered flight time available to drone services providers.

The company manufactures the quad-rotor US-1 drones in Sunnyvale, Calif., and plans to begin deliveries in the fourth quarter of 2018. Impossible Aerospace also announced a $9.4 million round of funding, in which Bessemer Venture Partners is taking the lead. The company has raised more than $11 million in funding overall.

Spencer Gore, founder and CEO at Impossible Aerospace, said the two-hour unladen flight time can make an important difference for drone service providers accustomed to fight times in the 20-minute range — or less. Drone missions may be worth hundreds of dollars per hour for drone service providers, but the amount of time such companies spend changing or charging batteries proves an economic drain.

The US-1 drone’s flight time can “help drone service providers counting on more endurance in order to do their work,” Gore said.

Impossible Aerospace is positioning its initial drone as a surveillance product, geared toward law enforcement, public safety and private security organizations. Gore said the longer flight time stems from the company’s engineering approach, which starts with the battery as opposed to the airframe. The company’s design principle is to make sure “everything in the aircraft serves at least two roles,” one of which should be storing, using or transporting electricity, Gore said.

Other news

  • Bomgar’s pending acquisition of BeyondTrust in the privileged access management space could expand sales opportunities for channel partners working with those companies. The combined company will create an integrated channel program. “Based on the sizable scale and mass of BeyondTrust’s channel presence, we will continue to build upon what has already been successful,” said Matt Dircks, CEO at Bomgar. “We expect that the integration process will enable legacy partners to cross-sell both BeyondTrust and Bomgar products by 2019.” The deal is expected to close in October 2018.
  • Adtran, a networking solutions provider, unveiled an enterprise Wi-Fi solution for service providers. The company said the offering features machine learning technology and a cloud-managed IT model.
  • Identity and access management vendor OneLogin has bolstered its partner program. The OneLogin Accelerate program will now feature expanded training programs, new sales tools and incentives, and a partner portal featuring deal management and marketing campaigns, the company said. OneLogin noted that for a limited time it will offer extra margins for enterprise deals.
  • InterVision, a solution provider headquartered in Santa Clara, Calif., and St. Louis, expanded its cloud services capabilities with the acquisition of Infiniti Consulting Group. Infiniti, based in Folsom, Calif., will provide InterVision with expertise in AWS and Azure, hybrid cloud, on-premises cloud services, and software design and development, according to InterVision.
  • Green House Data, a company that provides managed services, cloud hosting and Microsoft advisory services, announced an international expansion. The company said it has open positions in Costa Rica and Sri Lanka, noting that it now provides IT services and consulting from six countries.
  • Kofax has entered an alliance with PricewaterhouseCoopers to provide intelligent automation solutions. Kofax offers robotic process automation and digital transformation products.
  • HyperGrid, a hybrid cloud management vendor, announced the closing of a $25 million Series C funding round. The move follows a year of 300% revenue growth across the company’s enterprise and MSP customer base.
  • Software analytics company New Relic revealed a developer program. The program helps customers and partners take advantage of application and infrastructure data, enhance their New Relic data capabilities, and automate New Relic into their workflows, New Relic said.
  • Nonprofit IT trade association CompTIA introduced a member community focused on emerging technologies. The CompTIA Emerging Technology Community will explore opportunities involving a number of developing technologies, such as IoT, 5G wireless, 3D printing and quantum computing, CompTIA said.
  • NetEnrich, a managed cloud services provider, appointed David Dragonetti to vice president of global sales.
  • Convey Services said it added Mango Voice and ComTec Cloud to its roster of vertical market solutions available through its Channel Accelerator program. Mango Voice, a hosted voice provider, specializes in the hospitality and dental industries. ComTec, meanwhile, provides a unified communications voice platform in the healthcare and education markets.

Market Share is a news roundup published every Friday.

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.

Cambium Networks certified in Express Wi-Fi by Facebook program

Wi-Fi vendor Cambium Networks, based in Rolling Meadows, Ill., has been certified in a Facebook Wi-Fi program that looks to expand internet connectivity to underserved locations around the world. Express Wi-Fi by Facebook works with carriers, internet service providers and local entrepreneurs to provide affordable internet access in public yet remote places.

Currently, Express Wi-Fi by Facebook is live in India, Nigeria, Kenya, Tanzania and Indonesia. The program allows access point (AP) manufacturers like Cambium to build Wi-Fi hardware that’s compatible with Express Wi-Fi by Facebook.

Cambium, a global provider of wireless network services, is one of the first Wi-Fi vendors to join Facebook’s Express Wi-Fi certified ecosystem, Cambium said in a statement this week. Cambium works with service providers and enterprise network operators to build edge connectivity. It specializes in providing end-to-end wireless fabric of cloud-managed platforms.

In the Facebook partnership, Cambium is enabling network deployment with its Frictionless Wi-Fi cnPilot enterprise-access service, Cambium president and CEO Atul Bhatnagar said in a statement. The cnPilot Wi-Fi products feature indoor and outdoor APs that can be installed in new or existing wireless local area networks.

The Express Wi-Fi network requires Wi-Fi vendors to support specific communications protocols to enable Facebook internet service provider partners to deploy Express Wi-Fi networks, according to Chetan Hebbalae, senior director of product management at Cambium. Facebook approves only Wi-Fi vendors that have passed its interoperability qualifications, he added.

As the goal of the Express Wi-Fi by Facebook program is to provide internet access to remote places, Bhatnagar noted approximately 3.8 billion people are unconnected around the world.

Nyansa provides free network insights

Network analytics vendor Nyansa Inc., based in Palo Alto, Calif., is making worldwide network data freely available. The data has been collected by Nyansa’s Voyance software-as-a-service platform that monitors hundreds of business networks with millions of end-user client devices. 

The free and public dashboard, called Voyance Live, is the first and only repository of network analytics, Nyansa said in a statement. The service was developed to help network professionals gain insight into the behavior of business networks that are not their own.

Voyance Live updates continually and provides insights into various network issues, service performance and client incidents. The aggregated network insights include the top Wi-Fi APs, best and worst performing applications, a breakdown of enterprise client devices in use by operating system, as well as the top issues affecting network performance.

Voyance Live does not share customer data but gleans anonymous insights and analytics from enterprise networks. The service can provide organizations with quantifiable answers to network issues by using real network data.

Voyance Live uses wired and wireless network data from more than 12 million client devices and hundreds of thousands of Wi-Fi APs under observation within Voyance, Nyansa’s commercial network analytics service. By using cloud sourcing, Voyance Live collects and processes petabytes of network data, analyzing billions of client events and detecting tens of thousands of incidents.

SevOne to add support for VMware NSX SD-WAN

SevOne, a Boston-based network and infrastructure management services provider, said its SevOne SD-WAN Monitoring Solution will support VMware NSX SD-WAN by VeloCloud. SevOne’s SD-WAN monitoring tool, released earlier this year, is designed to help managed service providers (MSPs) that offer network services over multi-tenant, multivendor networks.

The SevOne SD-WAN Monitoring Solution supports WAN infrastructures from Cisco, Huawei, Juniper, Nokia and others. It also supports Cisco SD-WAN. VMware NSX SD-WAN by VeloCloud provides bandwidth expansion, as well as access to data and enterprise and cloud applications.

MSPs need to view and access network performance data from the complex services running across their MPLS-based services, as well as hybrid WAN services, SevOne said in a statement.

The latest SevOne SD-WAN service, scheduled for release later this year, will provide real-time and historical insight into enterprise and service provider networks with customizable dashboards for network operations and engineering, product owners and business executives. MSPs can use SevOne’s SD-WAN monitoring tool for visibility across their entire service delivery path, including enterprise Wi-Fi from campus to branch and software-defined data centers.

Lucidworks Fusion platform to scale via channel partnerships

Lucidworks, a vendor of search and discovery applications, has revealed a channel program designed to make partners central to its business growth.

The program, launched this week, offers channel staples such as deal registration, a partner portal, and training and certification. The program also features engagement models to support various channel partner types, including technology vendors, systems integrators, value-added resellers, managed services providers (MSPs) and SaaS providers, Lucidworks said.

“The design philosophy around this was to formalize the way that partners engage with us,” said Simon Taylor, vice president of worldwide channels and alliances at Lucidworks, based in San Francisco. The vendor, which developed the Lucidworks Fusion platform, currently has about 60 to 80 core partners, he noted.

The company launched the program on the heels of a $50 million funding round and an alliance struck with storage vendor Commvault in June. Looking to expand, Lucidworks identified the channel as the means for transforming “our scale and growth as a company,” Taylor said.

“What we decided to do … is to really change the way the organization operates and make it as much as possible 100% channel-centric,” he added.

The tracks for different channel partner types within the Lucidworks program are intended to develop the vendor’s relationships “so that we could focus on partners that were meaningful to our business,” he said.

What we decided to do … is to really change the way the organization operates and make it as much as possible 100% channel-centric.
Simon Taylorvice president of worldwide channels and alliances, Lucidworks

The reseller program is structured with three partner tiers — Authorized, Gold and Platinum — with incremental requirements and benefits. Benefits include market development funds, qualified sales leads and technical assistance.

Other partner tracks within the program include the following:

  • an OEM and SaaS partner program, providing tools for embedding Lucidworks Fusion technology into solutions or using the Fusion software development kit and App Studio platforms to build apps and connectors.
  • a Certified Partner Consultant program for partners qualified to design and deploy offerings using the Lucidworks Fusion platform and applications, according to the vendor.

Taylor noted the company has invested significantly — and will continue to invest — in hiring channel management staff.

“It is a core part of our overall business plan: to embrace partners and grow this way,” he said.

Informatica ramps up partner training

Informatica, an enterprise cloud data management vendor, plans to train thousands of partner employees over the next year, as it seeks digital transformation resources.

Richard Ganley, senior vice president of digital transformation solutions and global partners at Informatica, based in Redwood City, Calif., said the company aims to cultivate partners that can help its customers navigate digital transformation projects.

“As good as we think our technology is … we really need partners to help us,” he added, noting the complexity of transformative IT initiatives.

Informatica’s training push includes a series of Elevate enablement events, which will conclude next week in Denver. The Denver event, scheduled for Aug. 20 to 23, follows training events held earlier this year in Copenhagen, Denmark, and Bangkok. The events include presales, sales and implementation tracks.

Over the course of the three events, Informatica will have trained some 750 people, Ganley estimated.

In another training effort, Informatica plans to send a training team to visit the campuses of eight of the largest systems integrators in India. Ganley said the company aims to train several thousand people over the course of the next year. Not all of the integrator personnel will be trained to the deepest level, but some will, he added.

Informatica’s goal is to provide a “much bigger pool of trained resources in the market,” he said.

“We are trying to train our partners on our technology on an industrial scale,” Ganley said.

Accenture focuses on digital twin tech

Accenture’s Industry X.0 practice, which focuses on the smart connected products market, is concentrating on digital twin technology.

Craig McNeil, managing director at Accenture and North American lead for Industry X.0, said digital twin is “one of the bigger areas of focus in our current fiscal year and definitely will be in the next fiscal year.” Accenture’s fiscal year begins Sept. 1.

A digital twin is a virtual representation of a product that can be used in design and simulation.

In other news, Accenture has entered an alliance with Malong Technologies, an AI startup based in Shenzhen, China. Accenture also made a minority investment in the company. Malong and Accenture’s Applied Intelligence practice will provide “computer vision and product recognition capabilities” to customers.

Other news

  • Cloudreach, a cloud services provider based in London, has inked a letter of intent to purchase Relus Cloud, an Amazon Web Services partner in Peachtree Corners, Ga. Relus Cloud, founded in 2013, is a Premier Consulting Partner in the AWS Partner Network, focusing on the North American market.
  • Qualys, a cloud-based security and compliance vendor, revealed it will release a version of its cloud platform for consultants, consulting firms and MSPs. Qualys Consulting Edition provides vulnerability assessments capabilities, as well as features such as customizable reporting and trending reports and dashboards, Qualys said. The vendor said Qualys Consulting Edition will be available by the end of this month.
  • Beachhead Solutions reported 72% year-over-year revenue growth for the first half of 2018 on the strength of managed service provider partnerships. The company said about 250 MSPs now work with the company, which provides cloud-managed PC and mobile device encryption, security and data access control offerings.
  • OPAQ, a network security cloud vendor, is teaming with Palo Alto Networks’ MSSP Partner Program in an alliance that lets MSPs and managed security services providers deliver Palo Alto’s security-as-a-service offering to midsize companies.
  • Cask LLC has joined Unified Compliance’s partner network as a value-added reseller.
  • ERGOS, an MSP based in Houston, has tapped Liongard’s Roar platform, which automates system discovery and documentation.

Market Share is a news roundup published every Friday.

Atlassian HipChat shutdown surprises enterprise IT pros

Atlassian’s HipChat died a sudden death this week, as the DevOps software vendor teamed up with an erstwhile competitor, Slack, and turned over its ChatOps IP.

The Atlassian-Slack deal will see Slack acquire Atlassian’s HipChat IP, as well as Stride, a successor to HipChat for ChatOps, which was released in Sept 2017. Both HipChat and Stride will be discontinued as part of the deal by Feb 15, 2019 in favor of Slack’s ChatOps tools. Atlassian, which also makes popular DevOps tools such as Jira, Confluence and BitBucket, also will take a minority stake in Slack.

IT pros were skeptical of Atlassian Stride, and judged it as too little and too late to compete with an entrenched ChatOps competitor. Atlassian HipChat was launched in 2010 and had a loyal following, though it’s unclear just how many users it has; while Slack is popular, HipChat’s discontinuation in about six months surprises many industry watchers.

“I guess we were right that Stride would fall, so that’s not a huge disappointment, since that came out after Slack,” said Chris Moyer, vice president of technology at ACI Information Group, a content aggregator based in Ipswich, Mass. “But Hipchat was before Slack and had quite a few loyal users.”

HipChat’s fate was already sealed last fall, when Atlassian rolled out Stride and encouraged customers to move to the new product almost immediately. But that migration effort fizzled by June 2018, and some Atlassian HipChat shops said the Slack takeover at least gives them more certainty about HipChat’s fate.

“Stride only had about 12 plugins when I evaluated it a month or two ago,” said Kevin Burnett, DevOps lead at Rosetta Stone, a global education software company in Arlington, Va. and an Atlassian customer. The company added plugins for Jira and Confluence in February 2018 and April 2018, respectively.

An uncertain future for Atlassian HipChat users

Still, Burnett is surprised to see Atlassian team up with a competitor, and he’s unsure whether his company will follow in that direction. There are other options available such as Microsoft’s Teams, which has proven a strong Slack competitor, as well as Google Hangouts Chat and Jabber. Rosetta Stone needs the centralized management and compliance policy features in Slack Enterprise, which comes with licensing costs. And he has concerns about how Atlassian will transition not just customer data but customer licenses and support agreements into Slack.

“Slack is a small company, so I don’t know what its support is like,” Burnett said. “I know Atlassian now has a small stake in Slack, but I’m also not sure how they’ll do the transition [to Slack] and what will happen to existing [Atlassian HipChat] contracts.”

For Atlassian customers who use monthly billing, instances of HipChat and Stride will continue to function until the customer terminates monthly billing, or until February 15th, 2019, whichever comes first, according to a company FAQ. Annual licenses will not be auto-renewed after July 26, 2018, and customers who choose to renew licenses will only be able to do so through February 15, 2019. In the meantime, a Migration Hub page has instructions to migrate from HipChat to Slack, but there’s no mention of how licenses carry over or how support agreements will work. Atlassian indicated on that page that it can’t currently migrate from Stride to Slack, but that this is “coming soon.” The page also doesn’t offer a clear answer about existing HipChat licenses that don’t expire before the Feb 15 cutoff date, or how the companies will collaborate, if at all, on Slack support once Atlassian customers are migrated.

Moyer said he’d prefer to see Atlassian and Slack merge HipChat functionality into Slack, or make a compatible HipChat client for Slack instead of discontinuing the product outright.

“Just dropping HipChat entirely might reflect poorly on other services Atlassian has, if they decide it’s better to just stop supporting and completely drop services,” Moyer said.

This also means less competition in ChatOps, which makes it more likely for Slack to get gobbled up by another company such as Google and merged into another existing product, Moyer said. Google also launched a latecomer to the ChatOps market in March 2018.

Dell EMC midrange storage systems nudge a little closer

Dell EMC today launched operating-system upgrades for its two main midrange storage arrays, and the vendor hinted it may eventually converge the platforms.

The storage market leader added data protection and mobility features to Unity Operating Environment (OE) 4.4 and capacity and performance improvements to SC Series Operating System (SCOS) 7.3.

Dell’s $60 billion-plus acquisition of EMC in 2016 left the combined vendor’s new enterprise IT division with multiple Dell EMC midrange storage platforms. Dell EMC has resisted phasing out either of its two main midrange systems, the EMC Unity and Dell SC (Compellent) brands, despite calls from industry experts to consolidate its product lineup.

Both Dell EMC midrange storage product lines are sold as all-flash or hybrid arrays. The Unity line integrates block and file support on a single array. It was launched in 2016 to replace VNX and VNXe midrange appliances. SC arrays provide a lower-cost midrange alternative. Dell EMC is winding down support for its midrange P Series storage arrays, formerly known as Dell EqualLogic.

In the near term, SC and Unity will run separate operating software, although Dell EMC has hinted at plans to consolidate them on a single management platform. Foreshadowing possible consolidation is an HTML 5 management interface and remote management added to SCOS, mirroring a similar user interface in Unity OE versions.

“Product transitions like this don’t happen overnight,” said Sean Kinney, a Dell EMC senior director of product marketing. “There may be a next-generation platform at some point in the future, but it will be a nondisruptive migration path for all of them.”

The latest Unity and SC upgrades are nondisruptive to customers, Kinney said, meaning the systems will remain available during the upgrades.

Unity bolsters data migration, replication and security

Dell EMC claims shipments of Unity have exceeded 1 EB of raw flash capacity since the product launched in 2016.

“We’re seeing continued quarter-on-quarter adoption of flash, as [an increasing] percentage of our total storage capacity shipped with Unity and SC. As the economics of flash come more in line with traditional spinning disk, more and more customers are saying, ‘Hey, I’m going to go with all-flash,'” Kinney said.

Product transitions like this don’t happen overnight.
Sean Kinneysenior director of product marketing at Dell EMC

Data protection in Unity OE 4.4 includes MetroSync array-based asynchronous and synchronous replication for transactional file applications. The feature is in addition to Unity’s existing block-based replication. MetroSync enables disaster recovery across long distances, using data aggregation and distribution to accelerate data recovery objectives.

Dell EMC enhanced its SAN Copy data mobility technology to let customers migrate their storage to Unity from other vendors’ block arrays. The addition of two-way Network Data Management Protocol helps to boost NAS backup by eliminating the need to go through the network to reach backup servers.

Kinney said performance enhancements for Microsoft include Active Directory and Lightweight Directory Access Protocol to boost searchability and security.

SC Series: Dell EMC midrange storage for ‘price-sensitive’ customers

SCOS 7.3 is based on re-engineered code that Dell EMC claims doubles the maximum IOPS of each SC array. The latest software boosts SC array performance to as much as 100,000 IOPS on mixed workloads, Kinney said.

Data-in-place upgrades in SCOS 7.3 allow customers to double the raw storage of SC arrays by adding larger enclosures and higher-capacity drives. For example, the high-end SC9000 can expand from 3 PB to 6 PB in 2U and is rated to deliver 2.2 million IOPS.

Support for 25 Gigabit Ethernet and 100 Gigabit Ethernet iSCSI has been made standard on SC arrays. Distributed sparing on SC arrays can increase I/O efficiency and accelerate RAID rebuilds, Dell EMC said.

According to a report in June by analyst firm IDC, Dell EMC midrange storage increased its market share by four percentage points over second-place Hewlett Packard Enterprise in the first quarter of 2018. IDC estimated Dell EMC’s first-quarter overall storage systems revenue at more than $2 billion.

Dell EMC executives said the quarter that ended in March saw its first storage market share gains since the 2016 merger. Midrange storage sales were cited as a sore spot in previous quarters.

Druva CloudRanger finds home in Cloud Platform

Less than two months after acquiring a vendor specializing in data protection for Amazon Web Services workloads, Druva has integrated the product into its Cloud Platform.

Druva CloudRanger, generally available today, replaces the Apollo product the cloud data protection and management vendor had started to work on. Announced in late 2017, Apollo also had a focus on AWS backup and recovery.

Having the underlying technology aided the integration, said Steven Hill, senior analyst of storage technologies at 451 Research.

“They were a good chunk of the way there,” Hill said. “Picking up CloudRanger was an excellent purchase.”

Druva executives said a customer advisory board meeting in February fueled the need to bring a product quickly to market.

“Sometimes, it’s just better to purchase technology than to write it from scratch,” Hill said.

It also helps that Druva and CloudRanger were both built natively on AWS, said Dave Packer, Druva’s vice president of product and alliance marketing. Druva CloudRanger can back up to a customer’s immediate account or cross-region.

Helping companies ‘make that leap’ to cloud

Druva completed the CloudRanger acquisition in June, and CloudRanger is now a Druva company. Druva did not disclose the price of its first acquisition since its 2008 founding.

CloudRanger provided a platform for snapshot management of Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud workloads using AWS native snapshots. It also provided management of servers and backup policies across multiple AWS regions and accounts.

CloudRanger’s disaster recovery features included file-level recovery, AWS snapshot restoration and automated DR testing.

In the last few weeks, CloudRanger has added about 20 new customers, and Packer expects a further increase in August.

“Companies really want to make that leap from on premises to the cloud,” but they need to do it and manage it the right way, Packer said.

Another key element is managing the costs of the cloud. Giving customers visibility across accounts and workloads can improve efficiency, Packer said.

Druva said its Cloud Platform provides a holistic view into data activities throughout the organization, including data protection status by source and region, service use, storage use and data compliance status.

Companies really want to make that leap from on premises to the cloud.
Dave Packervice president of product and alliance marketing, Druva

As it also includes Druva’s inSync and Phoenix products, the Druva Cloud Platform now protects and manages what the vendor calls four primary pillars of enterprise data: data center, software as a service, end-user devices and cloud workloads. Druva, based in Sunnyvale, Calif., started out providing endpoint data protection.

Though Hill said he was surprised at the speed of the Druva CloudRanger integration, he said he doesn’t foresee any issues with the quick rollout. In addition, AWS’ stability helps ease the challenge of integrating CloudRanger’s original 300 customers, Hill said.

“That’s the first place you want to establish yourself,” he said of Druva’s decision to start its cloud backup on AWS.

Current Druva customers have free access to the Cloud Platform. More pricing information is available by contacting Druva.

Looking at the clouds ahead

Hill said Druva should focus next on multi-cloud support — for example, moving an AWS workload to Microsoft Azure or the Google Cloud Platform.

Packer said Druva is keeping an eye on the possibility of support for other public clouds, but the greatest demand is for AWS. He said nearly all Druva customers have data in AWS, and few have data only in one of the other public clouds.

“The priority right now is AWS, because there is a large volume of enterprises moving in that direction,” Packer said.

Druva Cloud Platform dashboard
Druva’s Cloud Platform includes the Druva CloudRanger, inSync and Phoenix products.

Other backup vendors are also paying a great deal of attention to protecting public cloud data.

In late 2017, Veeam Software made its first acquisition in 10 years with the purchase of N2WS, which provides — similarly to Druva CloudRanger — cloud-native, enterprise backup and disaster recovery for AWS.

Druva has positioned its software to go up against traditional backup vendors Commvault and Veritas, which are also increasing their data management focus. It also competes with startups Rubrik and Cohesity, with their converged data protection and management appliances for secondary storage.

Druva claims about 4,000 customers.

StorageCraft backup and object storage packaged for schools

StorageCraft is going to school.

The backup vendor has identified education as a prime market for the integration of StorageCraft backup and recovery software with the object storage it acquired from Exablox in 2017.

The vendor is bundling data protection with object storage in an entry-level package, called StorageCraft for Education. Like other vertical markets, schools today find their storage capacity stressed, as more information goes digital.

The package consists of two StorageCraft OneBlox appliances and StorageCraft backup software. One appliance can reside off premises, with replication between the two boxes.

Pricing starts at less than $38,000 for StorageCraft OneBlox 4312 appliances with 96 TB of raw storage capacity. The education bundle is also available on OneBlox 5210 appliances with 38 TB of raw all-flash capacity. The appliances include StorageCraft OneSystem software for managing and monitoring storage across sites.

StorageCraft ShadowProtect software handles the backup and remote replication for data stored on the OneBlox appliances.

The goal is to provide the basic components necessary for creating on-premises primary storage for a large amount of data, along with an off-site backup to protect it. StorageCraft backup also provides scalability. And the storage offers large capacity, while keeping costs down, as schools often lack the IT budgets of enterprises.

“Most of the learning within the educational system is rapidly transitioning from more of a textbook-based approach to a rich-media-based learning approach,” said Shridar Subramanian, vice president of marketing and product management at StorageCraft, based in Draper, Utah. “At higher education, rich media is being generated for research projects, as well.”

Subramanian succinctly summed up the problem: “Where do you store all of that?”

Most of the learning within the educational system is rapidly transitioning from more of a textbook-based approach to a rich-media-based learning approach. … Where do you store all of that?
Shridar Subramanianvice president of marketing and product management, StorageCraft

Many turn to the cloud for storing “all of that,” but Subramanian said the costs of retrieving data from cloud-based storage are up to 50% higher than owning StorageCraft appliances over a three-year period. Restoring a backup from the cloud versus an off-site appliance could also take longer.

Lee Berkowitz, IT and network manager at MIT’s Plasma Science and Fusion Center, chose StorageCraft backup and storage after looking at products from Promise Technology, QNAP and RAID Inc.

“StorageCraft used object storage, was easily and rapidly expandable, and required no rebuilds in case of drive failure,” Berkowitz wrote in an email. “The additional fact that the units offered deduplication was a great bonus. We did have an instance when one of our units needed replacement from StorageCraft. In that case, the new unit was activated, with no loss of data or downtime.”

The education bundles are part of StorageCraft’s strategy to integrate its data management and backup software with Exablox’s object storage hardware.

“Our vision is to go after the midsize enterprise segment, as well as the SMB market space, and provide them with an integrated solution that not only manages all their data, but also protects it,” Subramanian said. “Thereby, customers don’t have to worry about stitching together different pieces of infrastructure or applications.”