Tag Archives: vendors

RapidAPI, MongoDB answer the call for GraphQL support

As developer demand for GraphQL continues to heat up, more and more vendors are heeding the call and providing support for the API query language in their product lines.

Both MongoDB and RapidAPI have introduced GraphQL support in their products. MongoDB has added support for GraphQL in its Atlas database, which means developers can work on MongoDB documents with GraphQL in their JavaScript applications via Stitch, MongoDB’s serverless platform. Stitch helps developers implement application logic and integrate with cloud services and microservices, as well as build APIs.

GraphQL lets users query an API endpoint and get only the fields they want, rather than receiving the full payload of that endpoint, which is what you get with an HTTP request. This can boost application performance, said Nicolas Raboy, a senior developer advocate at MongoDB, in a blog post.

“Until now, being able to use GraphQL in your applications required a dedicated web service that contained schema information, resolve functions with database logic, and other middleware logic to sit between the database and the client facing application,” Raboy said.

It’s an advancement that developers should welcome, according to one observer.

Of late, the industry has focused too much on REST APIs as the main thing.
Randy HeffnerAnalyst, Forrester

“Of late, the industry has focused too much on REST APIs as the main thing,” said Randy Heffner, an analyst at Forrester. “The request/reply model that is primary to REST APIs is a critical foundation but not enough; there are numerous other interaction styles in the landscape of business — such as events, data view, data sync, process, remote views and file transfer. So, instead of an API strategy, enterprises should think about a ‘digital bonding’ strategy.”

Randy HeffnerRandy Heffner

GraphQL is an important tool in the broad toolbox for digital bonding, Forrester’s term for extending API strategies beyond just REST-only APIs to encompass GraphQL and possibly other models.

RapidAPI aims for speed with GraphQL support

Meanwhile, with the addition of GraphQL APIs, developers can choose between GraphQL and REST APIs on the RapidAPI marketplace and then find and manage both types of APIs using a single SDK, API key and dashboard, said Iddo Gino, RapidAPI’s CEO and founder.

“I think that the biggest benefit of GraphQL is in areas where you have a lot of data and a lot of very structured data, being able to pull and query that data more easily in a single request versus having to do a lot of back and forth requests,” Gino said.

The RapidAPI Marketplace is used by more than a million developers, according to Gino. For API creators, the platform provides onboarding for publishing APIs, as well as interactive documents that enable users to test an API from a browser and begin using it. The platform also provides API management so users can monitor performance metrics.

RapidAPI may find an eager audience for the new GraphQL support. According to a recent developer survey on “The State of JavaScript,” of the 20,000 JavaScript developers surveyed, 21% said they had used GraphQL and would use it again. But it’s not a cure-all, according to Heffner.

“To have the option of using GraphQL is an important bit of industry movement,” he said. “GraphQL is a great tool in the toolbox, but only one among many, not a killer be-all/end-all — the way some talk about it.”

Go to Original Article
Author:

Citrix patches vulnerability as ransomware attacks emerge

A new round of Citrix patches arrived Thursday for the vendor’s Application Delivery Controller and Gateway products as reports of ransomware attacks targeting vulnerable systems emerged.

The directory traversal flaw allows an unauthenticated party to perform arbitrary code execution. Originally, the Citrix patches were scheduled for release later this month, but last week the vendor accelerated the delivery and issued the first round of patches. Thursday’s patches are for Citrix ADC and Citrix Gateway versions 12.1 and 13.0. A fix for version 10.5 of the products is scheduled for release Friday.

The vulnerability, CVE-2019-19781, was disclosed in December before Citrix had an opportunity to develop fixes. Fermin Serna, CISO at Citrix, previously told SearchSecurity that the company decided to disclose the vulnerability at that time because it had received three separate reports of the flaw within two days, which indicated the risk of exploitation was higher than normal.

In a blog post, Serna urged customers to immediately apply the Citrix patches and also advised customers to take advantage of a free scanning tool, co-developed with FireEye Mandiant, designed to detect indicators of compromise in customer environments running ADC, Gateway and SD-WAN WANOP products.

It’s unclear how many unpatched systems are currently online. Security researcher Victor Gevers, who is also chair of the Dutch Institute for Vulnerability Disclosure, said via Twitter that his public scans showed the number of vulnerable Citrix systems on the internet fell to 11,372 Thursday from a high of 128,777 on Dec. 31. Gevers’ research showed that many of the vulnerable systems during that stretch either “powered down” or applied temporary mitigations in lieu of patches.

Ransomware attacks reported

As Citrix rolled out the latest patches, two separate reports of ransomware detections on vulnerable systems emerged. On Thursday, FireEye threat analyst Andrew Thompson noted on Twitter that he observed a threat actor using the Citrix vulnerability to gain initial access to a network and then pivoting to Windows environment to attempt a ransomware infection. “If you haven’t already begun mitigating, you really need to consider the ramifications,” Thompson wrote on Twitter.

On Friday, anonymous security researcher known as “Under the Breach” also reported a potential exploit of CVE-2019-19781 in a Sodinokibi ransomware attack on German carmaker Gedia. Under the Breach said via Twitter that an analysis of data released by the Sodinokibi threat actors, in retaliation for Gedia’s refusal to pay the ransom, showed the carmaker had unpatched versions of Citrix ADC.

While Under the Breach said he believed the CVE-2019-19781 was used in the attack, it’s unclear if the data released by Sodinokibi is authentic, or if Citrix vulnerability was used to infect Gedia with ransomware.

Go to Original Article
Author:

Investments in data storage vendors topped $2B in 2019

Data storage vendors received $2.1 billion in private funding in 2019, according to SearchStorage.com analysis of data from websites that track venture funding. Not surprisingly, startups in cloud backup, data management and ultrafast scale-out flash continue to attract the greater interest from private investors.

Six private data storage vendors closed funding rounds over more than $100 million in 2019, all in the backup/cloud sector. It’s a stretch to call most of these startups — all but one of the companies have been selling products for years.

A few vendors with disruptive storage hardware also got decent chunks of money to build out arrays and storage systems, although these rounds were much smaller than the data protection vendors received.

According to a recent report by PwC/ CB Insights MoneyTree, 213 U.S.-based companies closed funding rounds of at least $100 million last year. The report pegged overall funding for U.S. companies at nearly $108 billion, down 9% year on year but well above the $79 billion total from 2017.

Despite talk of a slowing global economy, data growth is expected to accelerate for years to come. And as companies mine new intelligence from older data, data centers need more storage and better management than ever. The funding is flowing more to vendors that manage that data than to systems that store it.

“Investors don’t lead innovation; they follow innovation. They see a hot area that looks like it’s taking off, and that’s when they pour money into it,” said Marc Staimer, president of Dragon Slayer Consulting in Beaverton, Ore.

Here is a glance at the largest funding rounds by storage companies in 2019, starting with software vendors:

Kaseya Limited, $500 million: Investment firm TPG will help Kaseya further diversify the IT services it can offer to manage cloud providers. Kaseya has expanded into backup in recent years, adding web-monitoring software ID Agent last year. That deal followed earlier pickups of Cloud Spanning Apps and Unitrends.

Veeam Software, $500 million: Veeam pioneered backup of virtual machines and serves many Fortune 500 companies. Insight Partners invested half of a billion dollars in Veeam in January 2019, and followed up by buying Veeam outright in January 2020 for a $5 billion valuation. That may lead to an IPO. Veeam headquarters are shifting to the U.S. from Switzerland, and Insight plans to focus on landing more U.S. customers.

Rubrik, $261 million: The converged storage vendor has amassed $553 million since launching in 2014. The latest round of Bain Capital investment reportedly pushed Rubrik’s valuation north of $3 billion. Flush with investment, Rubrik said it’s not for sale — but is shopping to acquire hot technologies, including AI, data analytics and machine learning.

Clumio, $175 million: Sutter Hill Ventures provided $40 million in April, on top of an $11 million 2017 round. It then came back for another $135 million bite in November, joined by Altimeter Capital. Clumio is using the money to add cybersecurity to its backup as a service in Amazon Web Services.

Acronis, $147 million: Acronis was founded in 2003, so it’s halfway into its second decade. But the veteran data storage vendor has a new focus of backup blended with cybersecurity and privacy, similar to Clumio. The Goldman Sachs-led funding helped Acronis acquire 5nine to manage data across hybrid Microsoft clouds.

Druva, $130 million: Viking Global Investors led a six-participant round that brought Druva money to expand its AWS-native backup and disaster recovery beyond North America to international markets. Druva since has added low-cost tiering to Amazon Glacier, and CEO Jaspreet Singh has hinted Druva may pursue an IPO.

Notable 2019 storage funding rounds

Data storage startups in hardware

Innovations in storage hardware underscore the ascendance of flash in enterprise data centers. Although fewer in number, the following storage startups are advancing fabrics-connected devices for high-performance workloads.

Over time, these data storage startups may mature to be able to deliver hardware that blends low latency, high IOPS and manageable cost, emerging as competitors to leading array vendors. For now, these products will have limited market to companies that needs petabytes (PB) (or more) of storage, but the technologies bear watching due to their speed, density and performance potential.

Lightbits Labs, $50 million: The Israel-based startup created the SuperSSD array for NVMe flash. The Lightbits software stack converts generic in-the-box TCP/IP into a switched Ethernet fabric, presenting all storage as a single giant SSD. SuperSSD starts at 64 PB before data reduction. Dell EMC led Lightbits’ funding, with contributions from Cisco and Micron Technology.

Vast Data, $40 million: Vast’s Universal Storage platform is not for everyone. Minimum configuration starts at 1 PB. Storage class memory and low-cost NAND are combined for unified block, file and object storage. Norwest Venture Partners led the round, with participation from Dell Technologies Capital and Goldman Sachs.

Honorable mentions in hardware include Pavilion Data Systems and Liqid. Pavilion is one of the last remaining NVMe all-flash startups, picking up $25 million in a round led by Taiwania Capital and RPS Ventures to flesh out its Hyperparallel Flash Array.

Liqid is trying to break into composable infrastructure, a term coined by Hewlett Packard Enterprise to signify the ability for data centers to temporarily lease capacity and hardware by the rack. Panorama Point Partners provided $28 million to help the startup flesh out its Liqid CI software platform.

Go to Original Article
Author:

Major storage vendors map out 2020 plans

The largest enterprise storage vendors face a common set of challenges and opportunities heading into 2020. As global IT spending slows and storage gets faster and frequently handles data outside the core data center, primary storage vendors must turn to cloud, data management and newer flash technologies.

Each of the major storage vendors has its own plans for dealing with these developments. Here is a look at what the major primary storage vendors did in 2019 and what you can expect from them in 2020.

Dell EMC: Removing shadows from the clouds

2019 in review: Enterprise storage market leader Dell EMC spent most of 2019 bolstering its cloud capabilities, in many cases trying to play catch-up. New cloud products include VMware-orchestrated Dell EMC Cloud Platform arrays that integrate Unity and PowerMax storage, coupled with VxBlock converged and VxRail hyper-converged infrastructure.

The new Dell EMC Cloud gear allows customers to build and deploy on-premises private clouds with the agility and scale of the public cloud — a growing need as organizations dive deeper into AI and DevOps.

What’s on tap for 2020: Dell EMC officials have hinted at a new Power-branded midrange storage system for several years, and a formal unveiling of that product is expected in 2020. Then again, Dell initially said the next-generation system would arrive in 2019. Customers with existing Dell EMC midrange storage likely won’t be forced to upgrade, at least not for a while. The new storage platform will likely converge features from Dell EMC Unity and SC Series midrange arrays with an emphasis on containers and microservices.

Dell will enhance its tool set for containers to help companies deploy microservices, said Sudhir Srinivasan, the CTO of Dell EMC storage. He said containers are a prominent design featured in the new midrange storage. 

“Software stacks that were built decades ago are giant monolithic pieces of code, and they’re not going to survive that next decade, which we call the data decade,” Srinivasan said. 

Hewlett Packard Enterprise’s eventful year

2019 in review: In terms of product launches and partnerships, Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) had a busy year in 2019. HPE Primera all-flash storage arrived in late 2019,  and HPE expects customers will slowly transition from its flagship 3PAR platform. Primera supports NVMe flash, embedding custom chips in the chassis to support massively parallel data transport on PCI Express lanes. The first Primera customer, BlueShore Financial, received its new array in October.

HPE bought supercomputing giant Cray to expand its presence in high-performance computing, and made several moves to broaden its hyper-converged infrastructure options. HPE ported InfoSight analytics to HPE SimpliVity HCI, as part of the move to bring the cloud-based predictive tools picked up from Nimble Storage across all HPE hardware. HPE launched a Nimble dHCI disaggregated HCI product and partnered with Nutanix to add Nutanix HCI technology to HPE GreenLake services while allowing Nutanix to sell its software stack on HPE servers.

It capped off the year with HPE Container Platform, a bare-metal system to make it easier to spin up Kubernetes-orchestrated containers on bare metal. The Container Platform uses technology from recent HPE acquisitions MapR and BlueData.

What’s on tap for 2020: HPE vice president of storage Sandeep Singh said more analytics are coming in response to customer calls for simpler storage. “An AI-driven experience to predict and prevent issues is a big game-changer for optimizing their infrastructure. Customers are placing a much higher priority on it in the buying motion,” helping to influence HPE’s roadmap, Singh said.

It will be worth tracking the progress of GreenLake as HPE moves towards its goal of making all of its technology available as a service by 2022.

Hitachi Vantara: Renewed focus on traditional enterprise storage

2019 in review: Hitachi Vantara renewed its focus on traditional data center storage, a segment it had largely conceded to other array vendors in recent years. Hitachi underwent a major refresh of the Hitachi Virtual Storage Platform (VSP) flash array in 2019. The VSP 5000 SAN arrays scale to 69 PB of raw storage, and capacity extends higher with hardware-based deduplication in its Flash Storage Modules. By virtualizing third-party storage behind a VSP 5000, customers can scale capacity to 278 PB.

What’s on tap for 2020: The VSP5000 integrates Hitachi Accelerated Fabric networking technology that enables storage to scale out and scale up. Hitachi this year plans to phase in the networking to other high-performance storage products, said Colin Gallagher, a Hitachi vice president of infrastructure products.

“We had been lagging in innovation, but with the VSP5000, we got our mojo back,” Gallagher said.

Hitachi arrays support containers, and Gallagher said the vendor is considering whether it needs to evolve its support beyond a Kubernetes plugin, as other vendors have done. Hitachi plans to expand data management features in Hitachi Pentaho analytics software to address AI and DevOps deployments. Gallagher said Hitachi’s data protection and storage as a service is another area of focus for the vendor in 2020.

IBM: hybrid cloud, with cyber-resilient storage

2019 in review: IBM brought out the IBM Elastic Storage Server 3000, an NVMe-based array packaged with IBM Spectrum Scale parallel file storage. Elastic Storage Server 3000 combines NVMe flash and containerized software modules to provide faster time to deployment for AI, said Eric Herzog, IBM’s vice president of world storage channels.

In addition, IBM added PCIe-enabled NVMe flash to Versastack converged infrastructure and midrange Storwize SAN arrays.

What to expect in 2020: Like other storage vendors, IBM is trying to navigate the unpredictable waters of cloud and services. Its product development revolves around storage that can run in any cloud. IBM Cloud Services enables end users to lease infrastructure, platforms and storage hardware as a service. The program has been around for two years, and will add IBM software-defined storage to the mix this year. Customers thus can opt to purchase hardware capacity or the IBM Spectrum suite in an OpEx model. Non-IBM customers can run Spectrum storage software on qualified third-party storage.

“We are going to start by making Spectrum Protect data protection available, and we expect to add other pieces of the Spectrum software family throughout 2020 and into 2021,” Herzog said.

Another IBM development to watch in 2020 is how its $34 billion acquisition of Red Hat affects either vendor’s storage products and services.

NetApp: Looking for a rebound

2019 in review: Although spending slowed for most storage vendors in 2019, NetApp saw the biggest decline. At the start of 2019, NetApp forecast annual sales at $6 billion, but poor sales forced NetApp to slash its guidance by around 10% by the end of the year.

NetApp CEO George Kurian blamed the revenue setbacks partly on poor sales execution, a failing he hopes will improve as NetApp institutes better training and sales incentives. The vendor also said goodbye to several top executives who retired, raising questions about how it will deliver on its roadmap going forward.

What to expect in 2020: In the face of the turbulence, Kurian kept NetApp focused on the cloud. NetApp plowed ahead with its Data Fabric strategy to enable OnTap file services to be consumed, via containers, in the three big public clouds.  NetApp Cloud Data Service, available first on NetApp HCI, allows customers to consume OnTap storage locally or in the cloud, and the vendor capped off the year with NetApp Keystone, a pay-as-you-go purchasing option similar to the offerings of other storage vendors.

Although NetApp plans hardware investments, storage software will account for more revenue as companies shift data to the cloud, said Octavian Tanase, senior vice president of the NetApp OnTap software and systems group.

“More data is being created outside the traditional data center, and Kubernetes has changed the way those applications are orchestrated. Customers want to be able to rapidly build a data pipeline, with data governance and mobility, and we want to try and monetize that,” Tanase said.

Pure Storage: Flash for backup, running natively in the cloud

2019 in review: The all-flash array specialist broadened its lineup with FlashArray//C SAN arrays and denser FlashBlade NAS models. FlashArray//C extends the Pure Storage flagship with a model that supports Intel Optane DC SSD-based MemoryFlash modules and quad-level cell NAND SSDs in the same system.

Pure also took a major step on its journey to convert FlashArray into a unified storage system by acquiring Swedish file storage software company Compuverde. It marked the second acquisition in as many years for Pure, which acquired deduplication software startup StorReduce in 2018.

What to expect in 2020: The gap between disk and flash prices has narrowed enough that it’s time for customers to consider flash for backup and secondary workloads, said Matt Kixmoeller, Pure Storage vice president of strategy.

“One of the biggest challenges — and biggest opportunities — is evangelizing to customers that, ‘Hey, it’s time to look at flash for tier two applications,'” Kixmoeller said.

Flexible cloud storage options and more storage in software are other items on Pure’s roadmap items. Cloud Block Store, which Pure introduced last year, is just getting started, Kixmoeller said, and is expected to generate lots of attention from customers. Most vendors support Amazon Elastic Block Storage by sticking their arrays in a colocation center and running their operating software on EBS, but Pure took a different approach. Pure reengineered the backend software layer to run natively on Amazon S3.

Go to Original Article
Author:

On-premises server monitoring tools meet business needs, budget

Although the market has shifted and more vendors are providing cloud-based monitoring, there are still a wide range of feature-rich server monitoring tools for organizations that must keep their workloads on site for security and compliance reasons.  

Here we examine open source and commercial on-premises server monitoring tools from eight vendors. Although these products broadly achieve the same IT goals, they differ in their approach, complexity of setup — including the ongoing aspects of maintenance and licensing — and cost. 

Cacti

Cacti is an open source network monitoring and graphing front-end application for RRDtool, an industry-standard open source data logging tool. RRDtool is the data collection portion of the product, while Cacti handles network graphing for the data that’s collected. Since both Cacti and RRDtool are open source, they may be practical options for organizations that are on a budget. Cacti support is community-driven.

Cacti can be ideal for organizations that already have RRDtool in place and want to expand on what it can display graphically. For organizations that don’t have RRDtool installed, or aren’t familiar with Linux commands or tools, both Cacti and RRDtool could be a bit of a challenge to install, as they don’t include a simple wizard or agents. This should be familiar territory for Linux administrators, but may require additional effort for Windows admins. Note that Cacti is a graphing product and isn’t really an alerting or remediation product. 

ManageEngine Applications Manager

The ManageEngine system is part of an extensive line of server monitoring tools that include application-specific tools as well as cloud and mobile device management. The application monitoring framework enables organizations to purchase agents from various vendors, such as Oracle and SAP, as well as customer application-specific tools. These server monitoring tools enable admins to perform cradle-to-grave monitoring, which can help them troubleshoot and resolve application server issues before they impact end-user performance. ManageEngine platform strengths include its licensing model and the large number of agents available. Although the monitoring license per device is all-inclusive for interfaces or sensors needed per device, the agents are sold individually.

Thirty-day trials are available for many of the more than 100 agents. Licensing costs range from less than $1,000 for 25 monitors and one user to more than $7,000 for 250 monitors with one user and an additional $245 per user. Support costs are often rolled into the cost of the monitors. This can be ideal for organizations that want to make a smaller initial investment and grow over time.

Microsoft System Center Operations Manager

The product monitors servers, enterprise infrastructure and applications, such as Exchange and SQL, and works with both Windows and Linux clients. Microsoft System Center features include configuration management, orchestration, VM management and data protection. System Center isn’t as expansive on third-party applications as it is with native Microsoft applications. System Center is based on core licensing to match Server 2016 and later licensing models.

The base price for Microsoft System Center Operations Manager starts at $3,600, assuming two CPUs and 16 cores total and can be expanded with core pack licenses. With Microsoft licensing, the larger the environment in terms of CPU cores, the more a customer site can expect to pay. While Microsoft offers a 180-day trial of System Center, this version is designed for the larger Hyper-V environments. Support is dependent on the contract the organization selects.  

Nagios Core

Nagios Core is free open source software that provides metrics to monitor server and network performance. Nagios can help organizations provide increased server, services, process and application availability. While Nagios Core comes with a graphical front end, the scope of what it can monitor is somewhat limited. But admins can deploy additional community-provided front ends that offer more views and additional functionality. Nagios Core natively installs and operates on Linux systems and Unix variants.

For additional features and functionality, the commercial Nagios XI product offers true dashboards, reporting, GUI configuration and enhanced notifications. Pricing for this commercial version ranges from less than $7,000 for 500 nodes and an additional $1,500 per enterprise for reporting and capacity planning tools. In addition to agents for OSes, users can also add network monitoring for a single point of service. Free 60-day trials and community support are available for the products that work with the free Nagios Core download.

Opsview

Opsview system monitoring software includes on-premises agents as well as agents from all the major cloud vendors. While the free version provides 25 hosts to monitor, the product’s main benefit is that it can support both SMBs and the enterprise. Pricing for a comprehensive offering that includes 300 hosts, reporting, multiple collectors and network analyzer is less than $20,000 a year, depending on the agents selected.  

Enterprise packages are available via custom quote. The vendor offers both on-premises and cloud variations. The list of agents Opsview can monitor is one of the most expansive of any of the products, bridging cloud, application, web and infrastructure. Opsview also offers a dedicated mobile application. Support for most packages is 24/7 and includes customer portals and a knowledgebase.

Paessler PRTG Network Manager

PRTG can monitor from the infrastructure to the application stack. The licensing model for PRTG Network Monitor follows a sensor model format over a node, core or host model. This means a traditional host might have more than 20 sensors monitoring anything from CPU to bandwidth. Services range from networking and bandwidth monitoring to other more application-specific services such as low Microsoft OneDrive or Dropbox drive space. A fully functional 30-day demo is available and pricing ranges from less than $6,000 for 2,500 sensors to less than $15,000 for an unlimited number of sensors. Support is email-based.

SolarWinds Server and Application Monitor

SolarWinds offers more than 1,000 monitoring templates for various applications and systems, such as Active Directory, as well as several virtualization platforms and cloud-based applications. It also provides dedicated virtualization, networking, databases and security monitoring products. In addition to standard performance metrics, SolarWinds provides application response templates to help admins with troubleshooting. A free 30-day trial is available. Pricing for 500 nodes is $73,995 and includes a year of maintenance.  

Zabbix

This free, open source, enterprise-scale monitoring product includes an impressive number of agents that an admin can download. Although most features aren’t point and click, the dashboards are similar to other open source platforms and are more than adequate. Given the free cost of entry and the sheer number of agents, this could be an ideal product for organizations that have the time and Linux experience to bring it online. Support is community-based and additional support can be purchased from a reseller.

The bottom line on server monitoring tools

The products examined here differ slightly in size, scope and licensing model. Outside of the open source products, many commercial server monitoring tools are licensed by node or agent type. It’s important that IT buyers understand all the possible options when getting quotes, as they can be difficult to understand.

Pricing varies widely, as do the features of the dashboards of the various server monitoring tools. Ensure the staff is comfortable with the dashboard and alerting functionality of each system as well as mobile ability and notifications. If an organization chooses an open source platform, keep in mind that the installation could require more effort if the staff isn’t Linux savvy.  

The dashboards for the open source monitors typically aren’t as graphical as the paid products, but that’s part of the tradeoff with open source. Many of the commercial products are cloud-ready or have that ability, so even if an organization doesn’t plan to monitor its servers in the cloud today, they can take advantage of this technology in the future. 

Go to Original Article
Author:

HR vendors to watch in 2020

There are hundreds of HR vendors and most never get attention. They provide reliable payroll, benefits and core HR services. Their pricing is competitive, their support responsive, and their users are generally happy. But analysts do have firms they think are especially interesting or doing something new.

Here, analysts give their take on what HR software vendors to watch in 2020. The list is by no means inclusive but does provide some insight as to where HR vendors are headed.

Josh Bersin, an independent HR analyst, cited Pymetrics Inc., a New York-based assessment tools firm. Their assessment is based on neurological research and the “true attributes of your mind,” which includes strengths and weaknesses rather than skills, he said. The tool evaluates attributes such as risk-taking and pattern matching.

A strength of the Pymetrics system is that it’s unbiased, Bersin said. It doesn’t matter, in its evaluations, whether a job candidate went to college or has a doctorate from an Ivy League school. 

“Some companies are really starting to use it a lot for recruiting in roles where the college degree is a sort of a false signal,” Bersin said. Clients include Workday, Accenture, LinkedIn and the Boston Consulting Group.

College degree not needed

College degrees may be becoming less important, especially in a tight labor market. Glassdoor Inc., recently assembled a list of companies that don’t require a degree for top jobs, which included Google and Apple.

Our research shows that employees want coaching and mentoring relationships more than straight learning content, but employers often struggle with how to implement this.
Ben EubanksPrincipal analyst, Lighthouse Research & Advisory

Another firm that has Bersin’s attention is Waggl Inc., an employee feedback platform based in Sausalito, Calif. He said the firm offers a “really innovative” employee tool that enables employers to quickly assemble a way to get employee opinions on topics. One of the things it does is allow for the crowdsourcing of reaction, so employees can vote on the response.

Ben Eubanks, principal analyst at Lighthouse Research & Advisory, cited Pilot Inc., an employee coaching platform based in Knoxville, Tenn.

“Pilot would be my clear pick here,” Eubanks said. “Our research shows that employees want coaching and mentoring relationships more than straight learning content, but employers often struggle with how to implement this.”

Eubanks said Pilot offers development coaching for employees to help them manage and improve their own performance.

Growing client list

Nucleus Research cited AllyO, an AI-powered virtual recruiting assistant startup in Palo Alto, Calif. Trevor White, an analyst at Nucleus, said some of its customers have “put some quantifiable numbers” around its deployments.

The firm was founded in 2015 and has assembled some “marquee customers,” including FedEx, The Cheesecake Factory and Randstad. Its quickly developing client list “is why we think they will be taking off in 2020,” White said. 

John Sumser, a principal analyst at HRExaminer, said his firm has assembled a list of a dozen companies in their 2020 watchlist. Among the “cream of the crop” is SwoopTalent in Oakland, Calif., a data-as-a-service product, which stores HR data in a private cloud that integrates with existing systems.

Another is Rotterdam, Netherlands-based KeenCorp B.V., which uses language analysis that can analyze employee emails and chats to measure engagement and “tension” in a workplace. It generates an index to tell how critical groups are doing.

Go to Original Article
Author:

Investing in tech startups an act of trust for VC firms

When investing in tech startups, including BI vendors trying to get started, venture capital firms want to see more than just a good idea.

They want to see a real need for a particular product when they consider investing in tech startups, and they want to see founders who have enough management experience that they won’t ruin a company with poor decisions even if what they’re bringing to market could stand out.

There is also a litany of things they don’t want to see when they’re investing in tech startups, warnings that tell investors a particular company is a bad bet.

Vanessa Larco is a partner at New Enterprise Associates, a venture capital firm with over $20 billion in assets under management. From Salesforce and Tableau years ago to Sisu just recently, NEA has a history of investing in tech startups, and betting on BI vendors in particular. Larco, meanwhile, has a background in computer science that includes time as director of product management at Box and leading the speech recognition experience team at Xbox Kinect v1, and she leads some of NEA’s investments in tech startups and participates on deal teams led by colleagues.

Vanessa LarcoVanessa Larco

Larco recently answered a series of questions about investing in tech startups. In Part I of a two-part Q&A, she discussed what she looks for in BI startups and what stood out about Sisu. In Part II, she went into detail about what might prevent an investor from working with a company, and her process for investing in tech startups.

In a given year, how many tech startups — not only BI vendors — might NEA invest in?

Vanessa Larco: It’s anywhere from 15 to 30 new investments per year where we take a board seat — this excludes seed deals.

Meanwhile, when looking at investing in tech startups — those 15 to 30 in a given year — how many pitches do you go through before choosing who to work with?

Larco: For me individually, I invest in one or two companies a year — period. I spend 12 months just finding those one or two companies a year. But I talk to at least one or two companies a day, so I’m seeing between 600 and 1,000 companies a year and I invest in one.

So of those other 599 to 999 companies, what is it about them that eliminates them? What are some obvious warning signs and some more subtle things that stop you from investing in a tech startup?

I can think of hundreds of reasons why you shouldn’t invest, but what you’re actually thinking about is what’s that thing, what’s the spark that makes you suspend disbelief and take that leap of faith.
Vanessa LarcoPartner, NEA

Larco: By default, it’s more about what is that special thing that makes me say, ‘Yes.’ When you’re investing in a company in their early startup phase, there are a billion reasons why you shouldn’t invest. I can give you a thousand red flags — the capital-to-revenue ratio doesn’t make sense, the team isn’t experienced in the space, it’s too early for us because they’re pre-product, or it’s too late for us because they’re pre-IPO, the work that they’re going after isn’t big enough, the economics don’t really make sense, and I don’t understand how they’re going to make sense in the future. I can think of hundreds of reasons why you shouldn’t invest, but what you’re actually thinking about is what’s that thing, what’s the spark that makes you suspend disbelief and take that leap of faith, because they’re all leaps of faith.

So what gives you that faith when investing in tech startups?

Larco: On every deal, at least a dozen people are like, ‘That’s the dumbest stuff that I’ve ever seen; how did that person ever think that was a good idea?’ You have way more naysayers than you have people who think something is brilliant. That’s just the nature of investing in startups.

You’re looking for that spark when something just clicks for you about the founding team, whether it’s that they’re incredibly accomplished, or have some unique insights, or there’s something incredibly special that even if something doesn’t make sense you feel like the team will figure it out and you just really want to work with them. There’s enough stuff there that’s interesting that you believe they’ll make something work and their initial hypothesis is something I can get behind. Or it’s, ‘Holy cow, I’ve never seen such an innovative product. It meets a need that no one is paying attention to, and it leads to their vision of how they’ll become an independent company… that expand its vision.’ Or it can be that you don’t really get it, but holy smokes, look at the customers they have attracted in a short amount of time — these are hard customers and we know they don’t just buy anything, so we know something is there, and if these people see it a bunch of other people will see it and they’ll be successful.

And what’s the process – how does the relationship start and progress to the point where NEA commits capital?

Larco: It’s different for everybody. Some people are super data driven, some people are very relationship driven. I’m personally a hybrid of being space driven and relationship driven. There are some spaces I really like, data being one of them, HR tech being another. And then I want to get to know the people and find out if they’re people I’ll click with, so then we’ll just spend time together over months, and then when they’re ready I’m just like, ‘I’m here.’ We’ve done all the work, I know I want to invest. And from there you talk to your partnership and do a financial analysis and a returns analysis, and do the actual quantitative work. That’s the easier part. The harder part is to get the conviction to take a leap of faith. For me that’s about the relationship, and I really believe in the founders — I see the need.

How long might it take from the point when you first meet with someone to the point when you close the deal?

Larco: For me it’s longer than most. I like to get to know someone because ideally we’re going to spend the next 10 years of our lives working together, through the ups and the downs, so I want to get to know the founders a year before they actually want to take funding from us. And once they say they’re ready to go, it can take us two to four weeks to make the investment as a partnership.

Go to Original Article
Author:

4 cloud UC partnerships to watch in 2020

In 2019, unified communications vendors forged partnerships to integrate their products and plug holes in their portfolios.

Avaya and RingCentral came together to deliver cloud telephony to the midmarket, while Microsoft and Cisco reached a truce in the hopes of making it easier for users to join meetings across platforms.

Slack and Zoom inked a deal to align roadmaps, while Zoom and RingCentral agreed to keep bundling their calling and video services for at least another couple of years.

These cloud UC partnerships could bring significant new features to users and help the vendors involved stand out from the competition. But questions remain about exactly how each of them will play out in 2020 and beyond.

Avaya-RingCentral

In October, Avaya and RingCentral announced a partnership to sell the latter’s UC-as-a-service offering to the former’s base of on-premises customers.

The new product, Avaya Cloud Office by RingCentral, is supposed to launch in the first quarter of 2020. Avaya’s resellers will attempt to sell it to the small and midsize businesses that currently use Avaya IP Office.

The deal followed reports that Avaya was in advanced talks with private equity firms interested in buying the company. Ultimately, the vendor opted to partner with a competitor that had been stealing its on-premises customers for years.

The partnership brings together a leading cloud vendor and an industry stalwart with one of the largest bases of customers in the industry. But many remain skeptical about how much the deal will benefit the two companies.

Analysts have questioned whether it was smart for RingCentral to partner with Avaya when it was already successfully recruiting the vendor’s customers.

Meanwhile, Avaya’s customers are waiting to find out how different the joint cloud product will be from RingCentral’s standard offering. Avaya has said it plans to enhance the product with extra features familiar to on-premises users.

“The big question is, can Avaya really sell cloud? They have not really been successful in the past,” said Zeus Kerravala, principal analyst at ZK Research. “Another question is, will Avaya customers embrace this?”

Microsoft-Cisco

In November, longtime rivals Microsoft and Cisco revealed they were working together to enable better interoperability between their video conferencing room systems.

Businesses currently use third-party gateways to connect room systems. But the setup is unreliable and provides limited functionality in meetings.

In the future, Microsoft and Cisco room kits will load the other party’s app in a web browser. That will provide a native meeting experience and eliminate the need for a third-party gateway. The vendors expect to launch the feature in early 2020.

Microsoft is working with Zoom to enable the same kind of interoperability, a sign that the video conferencing industry could soon unite around the new method as a standard.

But cloud UC vendors have been promising to make joining meetings quick and easy for years. Large organizations will likely be taking a “wait and see” approach to the latest attempt to do so, said Dion Hinchcliffe, principal analyst at Constellation Research.

Meanwhile, Microsoft also said it would certify Cisco as a partner providing traditional gateway services for interoperability. Plus, it will let customers use Cisco’s session border controllers to support calling in Microsoft Teams.

The cooperation between Microsoft and Cisco is welcome news to the many large organizations that use a mix of technologies from both vendors. For Cisco, the initiative could be crucial in helping convince customers to keep their Webex video gear in place.

“What this shows you is that Microsoft is no longer afraid of Cisco,” Hinchcliffe said. “The bottom line is, Cisco wants to stay in the game. We are seeing Microsoft and Zoom winning a lot and having Cisco being pulled out.”

Slack-Zoom

In April, Slack and Zoom announced that they would align product roadmaps and develop joint marketing strategies.

The team collaboration vendor and the video conferencing provider have maintained a close association for years. The deal reached in April made that relationship formal, bringing together two upstarts that have disrupted their respective markets.

One aspect of the partnership involves better integrations between the two products. The companies have already made it easier to join Zoom meetings from within Slack. In the future, they are planning to power calling in Slack using Zoom Phone.

But analysts are still waiting to see whether Slack and Zoom will pursue joint sales activities, such as offering a discount for buying both products as a bundle.

A Slack-Zoom bundle could help the vendors compete against larger rivals Microsoft and Cisco. But the package would still be missing a calling service capable of appealing to the largest businesses. Zoom’s one-year-old telephony offering, Zoom Phone, does not yet offer everything those customers need, said Raúl Castañón-Martinez, analyst at 451 Research.

“While a combined offering is very compelling, I don’t think it poses a significant threat to Cisco or Microsoft,” Castañón-Martinez said. “Still, this could set the stage for Zoom and Slack to become disruptive in the near future.”

Zoom-RingCentral

For years, RingCentral has relied on Zoom to provide a video conferencing app to its UC-as-a-service customers. Zoom’s technology powers an offering called RingCentral Meetings.

In May, the two companies announced a “multiyear” extension of the partnership. But Zoom’s push into the cloud calling market is likely straining that relationship. Zoom has been rapidly building out Zoom Phone, a product that could replace RingCentral’s calling service within some organizations.

In launching Zoom Phone in 2018, CEO Eric Yuan suggested the company did not intend to compete with RingCentral. But Zoom was far less shy about pushing the product at its annual user conference in 2019, saying it was time for all customers to adopt it.

At the conference, Yuan told reporters and analysts he expected the relationship with RingCentral to continue. Given the multiyear extension announced in May, that may be true, at least in the near term. But analysts said it would make sense if RingCentral were developing a backup plan for video communications.

“It makes sense that RingCentral might consider its own meeting app and reduce reliance on Zoom,” said Irwin Lazar, analyst at Nemertes Research. “That doesn’t preclude them from continuing to support and partner with Zoom as well, for at least the time being.”

Go to Original Article
Author:

Pivot3, Scale Computing HCI appliances zoom in on AI, edge

Hyper-converged vendors Pivot3 and Scale Computing this week expanded their use cases with product launches.

Scale formally unveiled HE150 all-flash NVMe hyper-converged infrastructure (HCI) appliances for space-constrained edge environments. Scale sells the compute device as a three-node cluster, but it does not require a server rack.

The new device is a tiny version of the Scale HE500 HCI appliances that launched this year. HE150 measures 4.6 inches wide, 1.7 inches high and 4.4 inches deep. Scale said select customers have deployed proofs of concept.

Pivot3 rolled out AI-enabled data protection in its Acuity HCI operating software. The vendor said Pivot3 appliances can stream telemetry data from customer deployments to the vendor’s support cloud for historical analysis and troubleshooting.

HCI use cases evolve

Hyper-converged infrastructure vendors package the disparate elements of converged infrastructure in a single piece of hardware, including compute, hypervisor software, networking and storage.

Dell is the HCI market leader, in large measure to VMware vSAN, while HCI pioneer Nutanix holds the No. 2 spot. But competition is heating up. Server vendors Cisco and Hewlett Packard Enterprise have HCI products, as does NetApp with a product using its SolidFire all-flash technology. Ctera Networks, DataCore and startup Datrium are also trying to elbow into the crowded space.

Pivot3 storage is used mostly for video surveillance, although the Austin, Texas-based vendor has focused on increasing its deal size for its Acuity systems.

Scale Computing, based in Indianapolis, sells the HC3 virtualization platform for use in edge and remote office deployments. The company has customers in education, financial services, government, healthcare and retail.

Hyper-converged infrastructure has expanded beyond its origins in virtual desktop infrastructure to support cloud analytics of primary and secondary storage, said Eric Sheppard, a research vice president in IDC’s infrastructure systems, platforms and technologies group.

“The most common use of HCI is virtualized applications, but the percentage of [hosted] apps that are mission-critical has increased considerably,” Sheppard said.

Scale HE150: Small gear for the edge

Scale’s HC3 system is designed for Linux-based KVM. Unlike most HCI appliances, Scale HC3 does not support VMware. Scale designed HyperCore to run Linux-based KVM.

Scale Computing's mini-HCI appliance
Scale Computing HE150 HCI appliance

The HE150 includes a full version of HyperCore operating system, including rolling updates, replication and snapshots. The device comes with up to six cores and up to 64 GB of RAM. Intel’s Frost Canyon Next Unit of Computing (NUC) mini-PC provides the compute. Storage per nodes is up to 2 TB with one M.2 NVMe SSD.

Traditional HCI appliances require a dedicated backplane switch to route network traffic, including Scale’s larger HC3 appliances. HE150 features new HC3 Edge Fabric software-based tunneling for communication between HC3 nodes. The tunneling is needed to accommodate the tiny form factor, said Dave Demlow, Scale’s VP of product management.

Scale recommends a three-node HE150 cluster. Data is mirrored twice between the nodes for redundancy. Demlow said the cluster takes up the space of three smart phones stacked together.

Eric Slack, a senior analyst at Evaluator Group, said Scale’s operating system enables it to sell an HCI appliance the size of Scale HE150.

“This new small device runs the full Scale HyperCore OS, which is an important feature. Scale stack is pretty thin. They don’t run VMware or a separate software-defined storage layer, so HyperCore can run with limited memory and a limited number of CPU cores,” Slack said.

Pivot3 HCI appliances

Pivot3 did not make hardware upgrades with this release. The features in Acuity center on AI-driven analytics for more automated management.

Pivot3 enhanced its Intelligence Engine policy manager with AI tools for backup and disaster recovery in multi-petabyte storage. The move comes amid research by IDC that indicates more enterprises expect HCI vendors to provide autonomous management via the cloud.

The IDC survey of 252 data centers found that 89% rely on cloud-based predictive analytics to manage IT infrastructure, but only 72% had enterprise storage systems that bundle analytics tools as part of the base price.

“The entirety of the data center infrastructure market is increasing the degree to which tasks can be automated. All roads lead toward autonomous operations, and cloud-based predictive analytics is the fastest way to get there,” Sheppard said.

Pivot3 said it added self-healing to identify failed nodes and automatically returns repaired nodes to the cluster. The vendor also added delta differencing to its erasure coding for faster rebuilds.

Go to Original Article
Author:

Zoom Chat update takes vendor further beyond video

Zoom has launched a Zoom Chat update that demonstrates the video-conferencing vendor’s ambition to become a one-stop shop for business communications.

Zoom has made the Chat messaging app suitable for a broader range of collaboration scenarios. The more extensive capabilities bolster the product’s role in the vendor’s portfolio, which also includes the expanding cloud calling service, Zoom Phone.

The two products, combined with the vendor’s flagship video conferencing service, show that Zoom wants to become an all-in-one UC provider.

However, to reach its goal, Zoom still has to catch up with rivals. The updates to Zoom Chat unveiled this week underscore that the product remains far behind leading messaging apps with regards to features and integrations.

Zoom added support for reply threads and emoji reactions. The former is an essential tool for keeping messaging channels organized. The app also now gives users the ability to send notifications to everyone in a channel, and for admins to use channels to make announcements.

Users’ profiles are another new feature, showing each employee’s location, department and job title. Colleagues can link to those profiles by tagging their coworker in a message using “@.”

These are standard features that leading apps like Slack and Microsoft Teams have long supported. Nevertheless, by steadily adding features, Zoom is making its portfolio more attractive to businesses that want to buy communications services from a single vendor, analysts said.

Zoom is trying to get businesses to use more of its products by encouraging its video customers to adopt Zoom Phone. But more aggressively pushing Zoom Chat would bring the vendor into conflict with Slack, a close partner. That’s a scenario Zoom executives previously said they wanted to avoid.

“A Zoom Chat app, integrated with Phone and Meetings, makes a great deal of sense,” said Irwin Lazar, an analyst at Nemertes Research. “I think it will be interesting to see how aggressive Zoom is in the next year with adding features and integrations to its own chat app.”

Zoom is now a telephony service provider in six countries through Zoom Phone, with a beta service available in 11 additional locations. Outside of those countries, businesses can power Zoom Phone using third-party telephony services.

At Zoomtopia 2019, the vendor’s annual user conference in October, CEO Eric Yuan said Zoom Phone was raising Zoom Chat’s profile within the portfolio. 

“The more we focus on voice, we need chat,” Yuan said at the time. “As we sell more and more phone systems, I think chat will be key for us as well.”

Meanwhile, Zoom on Thursday delivered a better-than-expected earnings report for the quarter, bringing in $166 million in the three months ended Oct. 31. Valued at roughly $19 billion, Zoom now expects to generate revenue between $609 million and $610 million in the year.

Go to Original Article
Author: