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Dana Gardner is president and principal analyst at Interarbor Solutions (www.interarbor-solutions.com), an enterprise IT analysis, market research, and consulting firm. Gardner, a leading identifier of software productivity trends and new IT business growth opportunities, honed his skills and... More
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  • Big Data Should Eclipse Cloud As Priority For Enterprises

    Big data is big -- but just how big may surprise you.

    According to a new QuinStreet survey, 77 percent of respondents consider big data analytics a priority. Another 72 percent cite enhancing the speed and accuracy of business decisions as a top benefit of big-data analytics. And 71 percent of mid-sized and large firms are planning for, if they are not already active, in big-data initiatives.

    And based on what I'm hearing this week at the HP Discover conference, much of the zeitgeist has shifted from an emphasis on cloud benefits to the more meaningful and long-term implications of big data improvements.

    I recently discussed in a BriefingsDirect podcast how big data's big payoff has arrived as customer experience insights drive new business advantages. But there are also some interesting case studies worth pointing out as we look at the big momentum behind big data. Despite the hype, big data may deliver productivity goods and benefits better, bigger than, and earlier than, cloud for enterprises and small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) alike.

    Auto racing powerhouse NASCAR, for example, has engineered a way to learn more about its many fans -- and their likes and dislikes -- using big data analysis. The result is that they can rapidly adjust services and responses to keep connected best to those fans across all media and social networks.

    BriefingsDirect had an opportunity to learn first-hand how NASCAR engages with its audiences using big data and the latest analysis platforms when we interviewed Steve Worling, Senior Director of IT at NASCAR, based in Daytona Beach, Fla. at the recent HP Discover 2013 Conference in Barcelona. The discussion is moderated by me, Dana Gardner, Principal Analyst at Interarbor Solutions.

    Listen to what Worling said: "As we launch a new car this year, our Gen-6 Car, what is the engagement or sentiment from our fans? We've been able to do some deep analytic research on what that is and get valuable information to be able to hand GM, who launched this car with us this year and say, 'This is the results of the news' instantly -- a lot of big data."

    Nimble Storage

    Meanwhile, Nimble Storage is leveraging big data and the cloud to produce data performance optimization on the fly. It turns out that high-performing, cost-effective big-data processing helps to make the best use of dynamic storage resources by taking in all the relevant storage activities data, analyzing it and then making the best real-time choices for dynamic hybrid storage optimization.

    BriefingsDirect recently sat down with optimized hybrid storage provider Nimble Storage to hear their story on the use of HP Vertica as their data analysis platform of choice. Yes, it's the same Nimble that this year had a highly successful IPO. The expert is Larry Lancaster, Chief Data Scientist at Nimble Storage Inc. in San Jose, California. The discussion is, again, moderated by me.

    Listen to how Nimble gets the analysis in speed, at the scale and at the cost, it requires. Lancaster explains how he uses HP Vertica to drive results:

    "When you start thinking about collecting as many different data points as we like to collect, you have to recognize that you're going to end up with a couple choices on a row store. Either you're going to have very narrow tables and a lot of them or else you're going to be wasting a lot of I/O overhead, retrieving entire rows where you just need a couple fields. [Disclosure: HP is a sponsor of BriefingsDirect podcasts.]

    That was what piqued his interest at first. But as he began to use it more and more at Glassbeam, where he was previously CTO, he realized that the performance benefits you could gain by using HP Vertica properly were another order of magnitude beyond what you would expect just with the column-store efficiency.

    "That's because of certain features that Vertica allows, such as something called pre-join projections. We can drill into that sort of stuff more if you like, but, at a high-level, it lets you maintain the normalized logical integrity of your schema, while having under the hood, an optimized denormalized query performance physically on disk."

    Healthcare industry

    The healthcare industry is also turning to big-data analytics platforms to gain insight and awareness for improved patient outcomes. Indeed, analytics platforms and new healthcare-specific solutions together are offering far greater insight and intelligence into how healthcare providers are managing patient care, cost, and outcomes.

    To learn how, BriefingsDirect sat down with Patrick Kelly, Senior Practice Manager at the Avnet Services Healthcare Practice, and Paul Muller, Chief Software Evangelist at HP, to examine the impact that big-data technologies and solutions are having on the highly dynamic healthcare industry. I moderated the discussion.

    Medical information can be sensitive when available not just to criminals but even to prospective employers, members of the family, and others.

    Muller said dealing with large volumes of sensitive personally identifiable information (NYSE:PII) is not just a governance issue, but it's a question of morals and making sure that we are doing the right thing by the people who are trusting themselves not just with their physical care, but with how they present in society.

    "Medical information can be sensitive when available not just to criminals but even to prospective employers, members of the family, and others," he said. "The other thing we need to be mindful of is we've got to not just collect the big data, but we've got to secure it. We've got to be really mindful of who's accessing what, when they are accessing, are they appropriately accessing it, and have they done something like taking a copy or moved it else where that could indicate that they have malicious intent. It's also critical we think about big data in the context of health from a 360-degree perspective."

    So with all this in mind, how big will big data get? It's not clear. The challenges are as big as big data itself but the QuinStreet survey suggests survey responses are pressing forward, with 45 percent expecting to data volumes to grow 45 percent in the next two years along.

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    Jun 11 5:00 PM | Link | Comment!
  • Perfecto Mobile Goes To Cloud-Based Testing So Developers Can Build The Best Apps Faster

    We have surely entered a golden age of mobile apps development, not just for app stores wares, but across all kinds of enterprise and productivity applications. The notion of mobile-first has altered the development landscape so much that the very notion of software development writ large will never be the same.

    With the shift comes a need for speed, but not so much so that security and performance requirements suffer. How to maintain the balance between rapid delivery and quality assurance falls to the testing teams. Into the fray comes cloud-based testing efficiencies.

    Listen to the podcast. Find it on iTunes. Read a full transcript or download a copy.

    Our next innovation case study interview therefore highlights how Perfecto Mobile is using a variety of cloud-based testing tools to help its developers rapidly create the best mobile apps for both enterprises and commercial deployment.

    BriefingsDirect had an opportunity to learn first-hand how rapid cloud testing begets better mobile development when we interviewed Yoram Mizrachi, CTO and Founder of Perfecto Mobile, based in Woburn, Mass. The discussion is moderated by me, Dana Gardner, Principal Analyst at Interarbor Solutions.

    Here are some excerpts:

    Gardner: Tell us about the state of the mobile development market. How fast is it growing, and who are building mobile apps these days?

    Mizrachi

    Mizrachi: Everyone is building mobile applications today. We have not gone into a single company that doesn't have anything on mobile. It's like what happened on the web 15 years ago. Mobile is moving fast. Even today, we have customers with more transactions on mobile than any other channel that they're offering, including web or making calls. Mobile is here.

    Gardner: So that's a big challenge for companies that perhaps are used to a development cycle that took a lot longer, where they had more time to do testing and quality assurance. Mobile development seems to be speeding up. Is there a time crunch that they're concerned about?

    Mizrachi: Absolutely. In mobile there are two factors that come into play. The first one is that everyone today is expecting things to happen much faster. So everyone is talking about agile and DevOps, and crunching the time for a version from a few months, maybe even a year, into few weeks.

    Bigger problem

    With mobile, there's a bigger problem. The market itself is moving faster. Looking at the mobile market, you see hundreds of mobile models being launched every year. Apple is releasing many models. Android is releasing tremendous amount of new models every year. The challenge for enterprises is how to release faster on one side, but still maintain a decent quality on all the wide ranges of devices available.

    Gardner: So that's a big challenge in terms of coming up with a test environment for each of those iterations.

    Of course, we're also seeing mobile first, where they're going to build mobile, and it's changing the whole nature of development. It's a very dynamic and busy time for developers and enterprises. Tell us about Perfecto Mobile and how you're helping them to manage these difficult times.

    Mizrachi: Yes, it is mobile first. Many of our existing customers, as I mentioned, have more transactions on mobile than anything else. Today, they're building an interface for their customers starting from mobile. This means there are tremendous issues that they need to handle, starting with automation. If automation was nice to have on traditional web -- with mobile it's no longer a question. Building a robust and continuous automated testing environment is a must in mobile.

    Gardner: Now, we're talking about not only different targets for mobile, but we're talking about different types of applications. There's Android, Apple, native, HTML 5, Web, hybrid. How wide a landscape of types of apps are you supporting with your testing capabilities?

    Gardner: Tell us how you're doing this? I know that you are a software-as-a-service (SaaS) provider and that the testing that you provide is through a cloud-based model. A lot of organizations have traditionally done their own testing or used some tools that may have been SaaS-provided. How are companies viewing going purely to a SaaS model for their testing with their mobile apps?Mizrachi: When you look at the market today, mobile is moving very fast, and you're right, there are lots of solutions available in the market. One of the things that Perfecto Mobile is bringing to the market is the fact that we support them all. We support native, hybrid applications, Web services, iOS, Android, and any other platform. All of this is provided as a cloud service. We enable our customers to worry a little bit less about the environment and a little bit more about the actual testing.

    Mizrachi: The nice thing about what we do with cloud is that it solves a huge logistical problem for the enterprises. We're providing managed solution for those physical devices. So it's many things.

    One of them is just physically managing those devices and enabling access to them from anywhere in the world. For example, if I'm a U.S.-based company, I can have my workforce and my testing, located anywhere in the world without the need to worry about the logistics of managing devices, offshoring, or anything like that. Our customers are utilizing this cloud model to not change their existing processes when moving into mobile.

    ALM integration

    Gardner: And in order to be able to use cloud amid a larger application lifecycle, you must also offer application lifecycle management (NYSE:ALM) or at least integrate with ALM, source code management, and other aspects of development. How does that work?

    Mizrachi: Our approach was to not reinvent the wheel. When looking at the large enterprises, we figured out that the existing ALM solutions in the market, led by HP, is there, and the right approach is to integrate or to extend them into mobile and not to replace them.

    What we have is an extension to the ALM products in such a way that you, as a customer, don't have to change your existing processes and practices in order to move to mobile. You'll have a lot of issues when moving into mobile, and we don't believe that changing the processes should be one of them.

    Gardner: Of course with HP having some 65 percent of the market for ALM and a major market presence for a lot of other testing and business service management capabilities, it was a no-brainer for you to have to integrate to HP. But you've gone beyond that. You're using HP yourself for your own testing. Tell us how you came to do that.

    Mizrachi: HP has the largest market in ALM, and looking at our customers in Fortune 500 companies, it was really obvious that we needed to utilize, integrate, or extend HP ALM tools in order to provide a market with the best solution.

    One of the things I'm quite proud of is that we, as a company, have proof of success in the market, with hundreds of customers already using us and tens of thousands of hours of automation every month being utilized.Internally, of course, we're using the HP suites, including Unified Functional Testing (UFT) Performance Center, and Load Runner in order to manage our own development.

    We have customers with thousands of automated scripts running continuously in order to validate the applications. It's a competitive environment, obviously, but with Perfecto Mobile, the value that we're bringing to the table is that we have a proven solution today used by the largest Fortune 500 companies in finance, retail, travel, utilities, and they have been using us not for months, but for years.

    Gardner: Where do you see this going next? Is there a platform-as-a-service (PaaS) opportunity where we're going to do not just testing but development and deployment ultimately? If you are in the cloud for more and more of what you do in development and deployment, it makes sense to try to solidify and unify across a cloud from start to finish.

    Mizrachi: I'm obviously a little bit biased, but, yes, my belief is that the software development life cycle (SDLC) is moving to the cloud. If you want to go ahead, you don't really have a choice. One of the major failures in SDLC is setup of the environment. If you don't have the right environment, just in time, you will fail to deliver regardless of the tool that you have.

    Just in time

    Moving to the cloud means that you have everything that you need just in time. It's available for you. Someone has to make sure this solution is available with a given service-level agreement (NYSE:SLA) and all of that. This is what Perfecto Mobile is doing of course, but I believe the entire market is going into that. Software development is moving to the cloud. This is quite obvious.

    For our customers, the top insurance and top financial banks customers, healthcare organizations, all of them, security is extremely important, and of course it is for us. Our hosting solution is a SOC 2-certified solution. We have dedicated personnel for security and we make sure that our customers enjoy the highest level of privacy and, of course, security -- physical security, network security, and all the tools and processes in place.

    Mizrachi: We're enjoying the fact that our research and development center and HP's research and development center are close-by. So the development of the two products is very close. We have weekly or biweekly meetings between products and R and D teams in order to make sure that those two tools are moving together.Gardner: And, as we know, HP has been doing testing in the cloud successfully for more than 10 years and moving aggressively in that space early on.

    SDLC, as you mentioned, is a lifecycle. It's not only about one time testing; it's ongoing. And post-deployment, when moving into production, you need to see that what you're offering to the market on the real device is actually what you expect. That's extremely important.

    As the mobile market matures, organization are relying more on mobile to assure and increase their revenue. So making sure the mobile offering is up and running and meets the right key performance indicators (KPIs) on an ongoing basis is extremely important. The integration that we've made with BSM is utilizing an existing extremely mature product on the monitoring aspect and extending that with cloud-based real mobile devices for application monitoring.

    Listen to the podcast. Find it on iTunes. Read a full transcript or download a copy. Sponsor: HP.

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    Jun 05 6:06 PM | Link | Comment!
  • SAP's Ariba Teams With EBay To Improve Rogue B2B Procurement For Buyers, Sellers And Enterprises

    It remains one of the last bastions of enterprise spend over which companies have little or no control. Yet companies have been loathe to tamper with how their employers and managers buy ad-hoc goods - known as indirect spend, shadow purchasing, or "spot buying."

    Now, SAP's Ariba cloud is bringing the best of flexible, innovative spot-buying practices into a more controlled and sanctioned process by teaming with eBay and its B2B marketplace for an integrated, yet dynamic, approach to those indirect purchases not covered by contracts and formal invoicing.

    Such scattered, and often unmonitored, spot buying amounts to 15 to 20 percent of a typical enterprise's total purchasing. And so it provides a huge opportunity for improvement, the type that cloud, big-data analytics, and a marketplace of marketplaces approach can best solve. [Disclosure: Ariba is a sponsor of BriefingsDirect podcasts.]

    The Ariba Networks Spot Buy service was announced today in Orlando at Sapphire by SAP CEO Bill McDermott. "The most intractable CEO issue of our time is complexity," McDermott said in a keynote address Tuesday. "It's getting worse and worse. We see a dream for a simpler SAP, and a simpler customer experience."

    Long before the Web, the Thomas Register or vertical industry buyers' catalogs were the mainstays for how many business goods were discovered and procured. There were often done with no contracts, no bids, and no invoices. A material or product was needed, and so it was bought and paid for - fast.

    The Web -- and especially Internet search - only increased the ability for those workers in need to find and buy whatever they had to to get their jobs done. Because these buys were deemed "emergency" purchases, or amounted to smaller total amounts, the rogue process essentially flew under the corporate radar.

    Under the new Ariba Networks Spot Buy service, major and public online marketplaces are brought into the procurement process inside of SAP and Ariba applications and services. eBay is the first, but Ariba expects to extend the process efficiency to other online B2B markets, said Joe Fox, Vice President of Business Network Strategy at SAP.

    Pilot program

    The new indirect procurement approach, which will operate as a pilot program between August and December this year, before general availability, will allow those buying through the integrated Ariba Network's Spot Buy services to use eBay's PayPal service to transfer and manage funding, said Fox.

    Consistently updated content about B2B goods (services support will come later) will be available to users inside of their existing procurement applications, including Ariba, SAP and later third-party enterprise resource planning (ERP) applications, explained Fox. The users can search inside their Ariba apps, including soon-to-be-delivered mobile versions, alongside of their traditional purchasing app services, he said.

    "It's consumerizing business," said Fox, adding that users gain convenience and access inside of procurement apps and processes while enjoying ad hoc flexibility and one-click, no-invoice payments from converged markets, catalogs and sanctioned search. Enterprises, on the other hand, gain a new ability to monitor spot buying, analyze it, and provide guidance and curation of what goods should be available to buy - and on what general terms. "It's the best of Web-based buying but with some corporate control," said Fox.

    The net net, said Fox, is that more unmonitored spending can fall under spot buying, even as some spot buying can move to more formal procurement where bids, negotiation and payment efficiencies such as dynamic discounting can play a role. What's more, analytics can be applied to a whole new area of spend, amounting to higher productivity over many billions of dollars of B2B spending per year worldwide.Eventually, as multiple marketplaces become seamlessly available to procurement apps users, deeper analysis - via SAP's HANA big-data infrastructure on which all Ariba apps and cloud services are being deployed - will allow business to determine if redundancy or waste indicates that the sourcing should be done differently.

    "We are not going to build any marketplaces," said Fox. "We are facilitating access - with controls and filters - to all the public and third-party content from various markets. It's basically unlimited appropriate content for buyers and seekers."

    These marketplaces will also allow those selling goods and products to gain improved access into the B2B environments (such as the SAP installed base globally) as a new way to go seller-direct with information and content about their wares. New business models and relationships are no doubt bound to develop around that.

    Fox said no other business app or procurement services providers have anything like the new offering, one that targets rogue and unmonitored buying by workers using open and aggregated mainstream markets for B2B goods.

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    Jun 03 1:29 PM | Link | Comment!
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