Intel said that its Windows tablets are shipping in numbers which barely register in their quarterly numbers. Obviously this isn't a positive development. To put this in perspective, out of the five-million processors the chip behemoth shipped for tablets, as little as 10% were for Windows. It seems many analysts are convinced that for Windows devices to be successful, they need keyboards and to some extent this makes sense as tablets are typically described as consumption devices. But with software like Microsoft Word now running on iOS, this paradigm is set to change. Expect the development to put even more pressure on the Windows franchise.
As I mentioned at the top, expect Intel to increase the subsidies it pays out to get its chips in more tablets... It wants to hit 40 million this year from the current five-million it enjoyed in Q1. It beleives its Broadwell chip with greater efficiency and higher performance graphics as well as its entry-level SoFIA chips will aid in this goal. Other interesting tidbits are the first Android-based tablet running Intel's Bay Trail processor will be shipping soon and the company believes Windows will eventually gain traction in the tablet space.
You will see articles like this one and another trying to read into Intel's comments by describing it as a split between Microsoft and Intel but business is business and you have to do what is best for customers and shareholders. Just as Microsoft is free to use ARM-based chips, Intel too has to make smart decisions and getting into as many Android tablets as possible is smart business.
In the end, Windows machines are seen as commodity devices. However the challenge is the position Microsoft would have to fill in the tablet space is below Android. That is scary because you can get really no-frills Android devices for just over $50. The point, is the sweet spot for Microsoft tablets may be south of $100 which is why the good news for Redmond is Intel has even pushed the idea that a $99 tablet is in its future.
Copyright Communications and Technology Blog - Tehrani.com
If you market it as a phone, you end up with a platypus - an animal sarcastically said to have been designed by a committee.
Having said that, Samsung is set to unveil an updated camera later this month and it is expected to have a 10x zoom as well as a 20 megapixel sensor.
While this is less than half of what the Lumia 1020 offers in terms of megapixels, it could differentiate itself with a superior lens and optical zoom capability. Not to mention support for Android and its ecosystem of apps.
There is tremendous convenience in being able to have a high-quality camera which also allows instant and easy uploads through familiar apps. Samsung has an opportunity to capture significant share if it finds the right combination of features and price.
Here is the invitation Samsung recently sent journalists which hints at their intentions (Hat tip: TheStreet)
The predictions for wearable computing growth have been off the charts and every company it seems wants to be the leader in designing the next generation of computing device. Will Glass be one of the ways we communicate with technology going forward? Who knows - but what I can tell you is most every Glass owner I have interviewed loves them.
Fellow TMCnet writer Steve Anderson points out that until now you had to use a site like eBay to buy a pair and a quick search just now shows you could spend over $2,000 for a brand new model. Wow!
We are certainly early in the technology cycle and batteries need to get better and so do the displays but what you get now with Google Glass is absolutely staggering when you consider how light they are. Thanks again Moore's Law!
If you are a wearable tech fan, you should run out and get a pair as fast as you can - it will set you back $1,500. At the last two Wearable Tech Expos, the users of Glass were happy as could be - many were developers in fact. I expect to see many more of them at the Wearable Tech Expo July 23 & 24, 2014 in NYC. It should be very exciting to try some of the new apps these guys have written as well.
Hopefully you can come to the show and see a pair for yourself.
Here at NAB 2014 in Las Vegas the show is awash in cameras, lenses, mounts and talk of 4K but what I found most fascinating were the hundred-plus drones on display. They also seemed to capture much of the attention from attendees at the show. Of special note was the fact that drones were being sold by companies with huge booths as well as the smallest of the small. The point is the cost to make a drone is fairly low and reselling OEM drones is also fairly easy to do. This market will soon be highly commoditized and of course this ties into my ongoing concern regarding drones being used as weapons.
Take a look at the photos I shot earlier today. Notice there is one that even looks like an airplane. That is one serious piece of camera equipment.
Two months ago I warned of the coming urban drone wars and I was 100% sure I was spot-on with my predictions about the future. My worst frears have come true today as just 20 miles or so from TMC's Norwalk, CT HQ, someone was arrested for trying to fly a drone with a bomb on it into a school and federal building. The implications are massive. Policing in two-dimensions with metal detectors doesn't help when we live in a world with three-dimensional threats!
The only way to fight malicious drones is with good drones and each side will need more to stay competitiive. This is what I said in my previous post from just two-months back:
Criminals will soon realize a single flying gadget won’t help them so much and will be drawn into a drone arms race requiring each side to ramp up their drone numbers in order to win any encounter.
Moreover, once criminals discover the drone is a near-perfect murder weapon, they will start to invest in these devices and subsequently pull off murders without getting caught. Once again, police will have to counter with more drones which are constantly surveilling the air.
Finally, many of the drone-based murders will likely take place as night as these devices have night-vision and humans do not.
Gang and mob warfare will be taken to the next level as drone hits on one group will be retaliated with counter drone attacks and we’ll potentially see drone wars in the streets between sparring groups.
This future which may seem farfetched - is not, as it is possible to develop drones with virtually all of these capabilities today. As battery and drone technology gets better, I am 100% certain virtually all of these scenarios will take place around the world.
The issue at hand happened in Bridgeport, CT where FBI officials say they've arrested 27-year-old El Mehdi Semlali Fahtia, a Moroccan national - they found wires and tools in his Bridgeport apartment.
Once again, this news ushers in a very scary time for humanity.
In decades of covering Microsoft, I don’t recall the company enjoying so much positive press at one time. They are literally transforming before our eyes – at least from the outside looking in. The first salvo has to be Office for iPad which I must admit is better than I expected. I have used Microsoft Word for many hours since its launch and although it is missing a bunch of features and has at least one bug which I discovered relating to the “paste as” icon not disappearing, it has a solid spell-check engine and works adequately.
Expanding their mobile pesence: Office is universally used by hundreds of millions and finally making it available on iOS/iPad is a smart move which came many years late. Perhaps the most important takeaway from this evolution is that Microsoft finally gets it – it has lost in the mobile OS war. Sure it was very early in the smartphone market with Windows Phone – I was at the 3GSM event in France (now MWC) when the platform was launched. At first the it was amazing as it allowed a phone to do much of what a laptop did – but soon, it became bloated and difficult to use. The point is, it lost this war and had to buy Nokia as a last-stitch effort to not totally lose out on this space. In-short, they are making the moves they need to in order to be relevant in a mobile world.
Expand your software offerings to win: Microsoft through its Office on iPad success has learned that software is the key to getting into new markets and expanding its reach. Certainly Google knows this and has a wealth of apps and services which are fantastic – allowing it to entrench itself in a user’s life like no other entity. If Microsoft is reading the world correctly it understands it has to do the same thing.
Finally, Windows is free sort-of: This is why in-part the company has decided to give Windows away for free on devices smaller than nine-inches. It really is hard to compete in this space which is quite commoditized – especially when you are competing with Android which is essentially free. It is worth noting they recently cut the price of Windows 8.1 to better compete with Chromebooks and Apple has stopped charging for their OS as well. In short, the charging for OS market seems to have a limited shelf-life.
Finally the world learns Microsoft is a major speech player: Microsoft is a major player in the speech recognition space – they have been in the market since before 2000 – if you count their TellMe acquisition. They have some of the best tech in the world yet they haven’t really pushed it beyond Xbox. Finally Cortana has been released as the company’s Siri-killer. “Killer” is way too strong a word as I doubt people will give up the iOS ecosystem for better speech-rec but Redmond can hope.
They get ecosystem now? Microsoft has tried for a long tome to tout its ecosystem – it tied its Xbox platform to its mobile devices but this didn’t do it for the company. By bringing Office to iOS they seem to understand the importance of the ecosystem is greater than the platform. In other words after many millions of iPad Office downloads they are starting to build an ecosystem on iOS which will no doubt be expanded just the way Google has done.
The cloud is the ecosystem: Its true that Microsoft’s OneDrive (a name that changes too often) and Office 365 are wonderful central services to help drive the company’s entire strategy. In order to use Office on iPad you have to pay $69, $99, $10/month or more for Office 365. Personally I felt like I was being robbed having to pay this amount for software which I have already purchased on other devices but Office is so much better than the alternatives there was really no choice. And yes, if you use these apps often, it is worth the price.
Ease of use a continual issue: Microsoft still has a long way to go in terms of designing easy to use software like Apple. My experience changing document names and having the cloud files mirror the iPad files was far from perfect. Also, it is too confusing to work on cloud files when you use a browser – do you want to use the cloud or local version of Word for example… Who knows? I think the presentation of these choices can be cleaned up a great deal.
But still, they are on the right track. These recent moves show they finally understand cloud, mobile, ecosystems and how to leverage more of their key strengths. The good news for users is more software choices – some supported by advertising like Google and others supported by a cloud purchase like Office. The reality is these moves are more competitive to Android than iOS at the moment so Google really has to figure out how to leapfrog Redmond in the mobile space. It took many years for Microsoft to acknowledge that Google and Apple know what they are doing… Now they seem to have both companies in their sights. Your move, Apple and Google.
The traditional networking market is in an interesting place to occupy as recently, Juniper announced layoffs and recently Cisco announced it is making a major investment in the cloud space. At a high level does this mean the networking market is losing steam and will see less innovation?
Not according to Bob Noel, Senior Director, Solutions Marketing at Extreme Networks. Their acquisition of Enterasys closed last November and they are proud of the progress they have made and their vision for the future.
It can be summed up as follows according to Noel who said, “Our software defined architecture is simple, fast and smart from mobile edge to the data center.” He continued, “We offer a combination of high performance hardware coupled with a unified software approach, unique in the market.”
To put this in perspective he offered the following insight on the company’s activities…
The company’s new NetSight 6.0 centralized management solution brings together one tool with a single database which provides automated provisioning leading to rapid problem identification and resolution across the entire network. This applies to both the Extreme and Enterasys product lines and he was fairly proud that this was done in five-months. He said, “Differentiation through software is a key part of our R&D; strategy going forward.” This solution helps the customer manage their whole portfolio, wired and wireless with one management console. He said that other companies say they do this – but Extreme has a single database, not just the ability to launch disparate apps from a central location. He said this is what speeds time to resolution and reduces the skills needed and increase in headcount required to manage the network.
Continuing, Purview is their relatively new solution which provides application analytics at layer 7 directly from the network. He said it understands users, devices, apps, application adoption, engagement and ROI and delivers a more positive user experience. Noel continued by saying it can be used to measure adoption of apps if needed. This allows a company to see what the users are doing and if they are are actually using solutions which they have invested in.
He said, “IT gets business intelligence allowing them to make business decisions which weren’t previously available.” Continuing, he said, “It fingerprints apps. We have over 13,000 fingerprints and can add new ones in order to understand their adoption by leveraging the network.”
SDN 2.0 is their play in the SDN space. He says SDN is important but only a component of an overall solution. Continuing, he said you need programability and orchestration to make it all work together properly. While many competitors look southbound – OpenFlow to infrastructure, they do northbound out of the box and subsequently interoperate with VMware, Citrix, Microsoft, Palo Alto Networks, MobileIron, AirWatch and more. “We leverage the intelligence of these 3rd party tools to deliver programability and orchestration,” Noel concluded.
For example if the MDM determines a device is jailbroken, Extreme can immediately block network access.
Also, in a virtual environment – where a VM is assigned a security and priority level, they can manage it as it moves across the data center or to another. He pointed out others can do this with their own servers but Extreme offers the ability to work with the virtualization companies mentioned above.
In addition, the company announced new 802.11ac APs as well as the BlackDiamond X8 100GbE blade providing 100G wire speed with 20 Tbs of non-blocking throughput.
Their goal is to offer a broad enough range of hardware and software solutions with better management capabilities which will decrease TCO - in other words lots of innovation. It is a solid story and it will be interesting to see how the market reacts to their new portfolio of solutions and how the larger players will respond.
About a year ago, I shared there are 250,000 plus new pieces of malware being produced each day. Moreover, I explained how Emerging Threats thinks they can help with the problem. If there is one constant, it is that number – 250,000 new pieces of malware are still being detected daily by the company according to Ken Gramley, CEO.
He went on to tell me in an in-person meeting that the company has tremendous amount of information related to this malicious content including IP address and where the command-and-control center for these threats are geographically. The company now takes this data which is derived from their ETPro Ruleset and is using it to provide new products to help companies fight bad code.
Emerging Threat’s newly announced Beta release of IQRisk Query, is an extensive threat intelligence database that delivers valuable information through a web-based portal and GUI (pictured). Customers which typically consist of business users or OEMs receive 3-4 years of historical data of IP and domain behavior, threat categorization, scoring, geo location, and other pertinent information on suspected IPs and domains that enables users to determine the acceptable level of risk to make informative decisions.
We then discussed how Zeus malware which is often used to spread CryptoLocker ransom-ware often has its executable file changed daily making it difficult to find using hash. Gramley then said, “Its command and control protocol doesn’t change very often.” The idea here is you can detect that you are infected by IP address and other ancillary information.
The way this works in practice is a company utilizes IQRisk Rep List to keep users from going to sites deemed malicious. In case there is still an infection, IQRisk Query lets a network manger determine that there is activity related to a site which is known to be malicious. So think of the former as proactive and the latter as reactive.
The company has 20 people and 350 paying customers as well as 200,000 plus users of their open-source solution. Many of the largest computer companies (I am not allowed to share them per Ken’s instructions) use them as their backend for security solutions and they hope to sign a very large computer and networking company customer in a week after a few years of negotiation. Again, I am sworn to secrecy.
What I can tell you is the company has a new API that it provides to some companies allowing them to instantly query to determine if a site is safe or not. Expect to see it generally available in the next 60 days.
What companies like about Emerging Threats solutions is the data is actual – meaning every malicious IP address has a history associated with it allowing a company to determine why it is there. You can see what malicious code was communicating to that IP address for the past three-plus years to give you great insight into how potentially dangerous it could be.
In an age where malicious attacks can do so much repetitional and financial damage to a corporation, solutions like those from Emerging Threats are a must-have.
Updated April 3rd 2014: added "Enterprise" after each mention of Alcaterl-Lucent and clarified the role of the coprocessor in the E series model.
Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise recently made a number of intriguing enterprise announcements regarding new hardware and software to enable companies to better manage the myriad applications running on their network whether using wired or wireless access. Touting Unified Access with Application Fluency, their new solutions are designed to help you figure out exactly what your network is switching and moreover, what resource various applications are using.
In a conversation with company representatives, Joseph Raccuglia and Heitor Faroni, they explained their vision that the network needs to understand better what applications are doing. It’s not just about voice and video they explained but being able to ensure you know the difference between traffic related to your CEO on an analyst call as opposed to a random employee watching a video about cats. They continued that an explosion of apps has IT teams needing new tools to understand and control them.
In response, the company’s Unified Access strategy has added network analytics which can recognize more apps, deliver enforcement, add visibility while enforcing at the wired or wireless network edge.
As referred to in the cat video example above the company’s Unified Access solution optimizes QoS for business critical apps across wired and wireless networks. Moreover, there is a software refresh for Unified Access and SDN compatibility.
The company also unveiled the OmniSwitch 6860 Access Switch (pictured) which they believe is the industry’s most advanced access switch with a 256G wire rate engine, a wire rate DPI engine for up to 100 apps and a coprocessor for advanced functionality which I’ll get back to momentarily.
In addition the company rolled out additional 802.11ac APs for outdoor and price sensitive markets as well as an access point with a virtualized wireless controller built into it.
This gets us to the 6860E model which has an additional coprocessor which helps increase the capacity of the device in the following manner... It does recognition on 1000 app signatures and IT can then select up to 100 apps or app groups to push to the ASIC in order to perform enforcement. This coprocessor in the future can also house other network services.
In the real-world this means you can perform enforcement more rapidly – like bandwidth limitation or stopping file sharing apps such as BitTorrent. Alternatively you can raise or lower the priority of apps such as YouTube or others based on HTML.
Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise has done a good job upgrading its portfolio of software and hardware solutions and is positioning itself well as the industry moves towards the mega-trends of BYOD, SDN and holistic application management.
This has been a busy time for people watching cloud news as on the one-hand Cisco threw their hat in the cloud ring with a major investment while Google sparked a cloud price war. To help you make sense of what is happening, I thought it made sense to share the insights of Margaret Dawson, Cloud Evangelist at HP.
She says enterprise customers are living in a hybrid world while dealing with apps which live across various environments and in the meantime they have to manage the complexity and security challenges.
She continued that companies don’t want more diversity, they want to map out their apps and workloads to make sure they are in the right places while maintaining common governance, management, control and visibility across environments so as to be more agile. These are the things HP helps companies achieve she explained.
Specifically she outlined what HP is offering in the cloud
- They are promoting OpenStack as the tech foundation for their hybrid cloud and IT portfolio.
- Providing enterprise grade – hardened solutions.
- Providing hybrid solutions – making sure they work together with common management and integration – while using open APIs which don’t need a to retrofit or custom integration.
We then discussed the competitive environment and she had this to say about the public cloud… On price cutting she mentioned this applies to list price on basic services and they are seeing commoditization like other markets. She continued that for developers looking for the cheapest and simplest cloud solutions, these offers are for them. She continued by saying this pricing doesn’t apply to more complex hybrid integrations needing integration or strategic deployments.
Regarding the news of Cisco getting into the space, she mentioned that HP investments are far outshining others and their solutions work across public and private clouds with support for heterogenous environments with profesional and managed services support.
When I asked what else should people should know, she replied, HP is all in in cloud, this fits with our enterprise heritage. She continued, We are here to win, cloud is instrumental in the HP turnaround and we can expect big announcements around our cloud initiatives and OpenStack. In conclusion, she said, “It is going to be an awesome year.”
Companies have a challenge that as more data has moved to cloud apps, they have lost the traditional visibility, threat detection and control they used to enjoy. As they evolve from a CAPEX model to OPEX in search of best-in-breed apps, there remains a large security hole which needs filling.
This is where elastica (recently out of stealth mode) comes in… In a conversation with Eric Andrews VP of Marketing and Rehan Jalil President & CEO, they told me that companies need to be able to track activity in and out of these cloud services. They attack security through a suite of cloud-based services as follows:
- Their AUDIT shadow IT solution looks at the SaaS apps being used and reports how vulnerable each one is. It updates regularly – as frequently as 15 minutes.
- DETECT threats solutions detects intrusions in cloud app usage – for example, when a user is acting maliciously or behavior is suspicious, an organization is alerted.
- PROTECT cloud data stops policy violations from happening across cloud apps.
- INVESTIGATE transactions is like a network DVR function for your cloud applications.
The solutions can see firewall and other data and is aware of the users in the organization – they are placed in various groups. You can select from the above-four solutions in their cloud app-store and also opt for “securelets” which are mini-apps which correspond to the cloud services you are looking to monitor and secure.
Using the system’s dashboard, you can determine user location and activity within applications. When a user tries to do something like send a file they aren’t allowed to send, the system blocks this activity and further alerts the administrator through a dashboard and other alert.
You can then drill down into a user’s activities to see what apps they use and what they do in said applications.
You can further determine on a group basis what users can do in each cloud app – or across a range of apps. In other words you may specify certain users can’t send certain files regardless of application. Moreover, using a threat score, you can stop certain activities from happening. Moreover, if a user starts to download massive amounts of data which is unusual for them or they use a different IP address and engage in unusual behavior, their threat level automatically is increased thanks to the system’s machine-learning capability.
Administrators can be alerted of security events or threat level increases. A single dashboard enables a company to determine which users are malicious, where are attacks are coming from and which apps are the most threatening.
The idea is they are rebuilding the SOC in the cloud for the cloud so a SISO could determine what is happening in the organization.
The elastica dashboard in action
BYOD is not new but what has yet to be addressed properly by many organizations is security relating to this plethora of unknown devices. Quite frankly there are many holes in any corporate network where mobile devices are being used. MDM solves some of these challenges but it wasn’t originally designed to keep malicious apps and actors off your network. The Target data breach caused many millions of dollars of reputational damage and potentially long-term marketshare loss for the retailer. This is but one example of a worst-case security hole scenario. In other instances, companies run afoul of compliance requirements because they don’t adequately have a handle on their mobile devices.
Enter Mojave Networks (covered a few months back by colleague Peter Bernstein), the company’s co-founder and CEO, Garret Larsson (pictured) explained his organization fills this security hole by giving away MDM but charging $4/device/month for security which includes network security, data loss prevention and app security. Companies can utilize their existing MDM solution if they desire, instead.
Larsson said to me, “How do you secure devices, especially when you don’t own the networks?” He continued, “For every piece of Android malware we detect, there are 4k malicious attempts our company blocks each month such as phishing, malvertising, web malware, suspicious URLS and more..” His point is there is certainly lots of Android malware out there that get the lionshare of media attention but network security threats are an order of magnitude worse.
One customer of theirs was getting attacked by the Syrian Electronic Army who was sending OWA links to the company’s employees – this sort of threat he said had to be caught at the network level.
Mojave proxies some or all of traffic from mobile devices through their globally distributed data centers where they handle malware blocking, data loss prevention and more. As an added advantage, the company can monitor SSL traffic and read proprietary cloud protocols from major services such as Dropbox to ensure social security numbers and other sensitive corporate information is not being improperly shared.
If your company wants to allow Dropbox to be used, Mojave can wrap it and ensure all its traffic goes through its network. The administrator can then see analytics on the traffic being transmitted by the app. The solution can also monitor data which is being transmitted over the web.
One challenge with this solution is a user can bypass it by bringing in a device which IT doesn’t know about. The way to solve this problem is to ensure corporate email can only be accessed through their network. At this point - when a user comes in for help, IT puts an agent on the device. In an effort to be transparent as possible, the agent tells the user what the administrator can and can't do – which apps are monitored, if the device can be tracked, wiped, etc.
Corporations can choose which apps to monitor to ensure they know what is happening. IT admins can get alerts if social security numbers are being sent through Dropbox, etc. A customer can also use the log files for forensics at a later time or date.
BYOD and network security as a whole is a huge issue for companies – one I believe which IT has yet to address head-on. Mojave Networks and similar solutions should certainly be investigated by any organization which wants to minimize electronic threats to their network, users and customer data.
See screen shots of Mojave Networks solution in action
Aaron Rallo had a challenge… He ran an online photo finishing service provider for some of the world’s largest retailers and wanted to lower his costs. One obvious area to look was electricity… He noticed that even though order volume would increase and decrease greatly each month, his power bill seemed to resemble a straight line on a graph each month.
This led to the formation of TSO Logic where he is Founder & CEO… The Vancouver-based company has one customer, Arc Productions in Toronto which uses it solutions on 600 servers to save $140k year in power costs.
I am sure that's what Arc Productions calls a "Real Kodak moment."
He said, “We all build our data centers for the busiest point in time... I built mine for 2 hours before xmas.” Referring to his past company. He said on average an organization will see a 56% reduction in their power utilization after deploying their solution.
The system lets you set up various business rules like ensuring end-users have a minimum response time, determining a minimum number of servers to have running or even CPU utilization. He explained that often savings can take place at night for a business but in the case of a stadium there can be tremendous savings on a more frequent basis.
We actually met at Interop 2014 where his company was monitoring the power utilization of the devices at the event and was doing so in order to show its new dashboard which lets CXOs see exactly how much power is being used in their data center. This can be done per device or even per user. Now you can determine exactly what it costs you to provide customers with free WiFi for example.
You have heard me wax poetic about the Software Telco market and how network function virtualization or NFV will allow carriers to save tremendous amounts of money in the future. Solutions like those from TSO Logic will be needed for these goals to be met.
One other point worth making is government organizations and utilities often have large pools of grant money to throw at initiatives like this which save power and decrease the need for new power plants to be built. He says New York State and Europe are some areas ahead of the curve in this regard.
This is the graph of power usage from Interop 2014 as I post this entry - as you can see, the cost per user is $1.69 per day
“We provide operations intelligence which borders on business intelligence,” said Jesse Rothstein CEO of ExtraHop. In a conversation I recently had with him and Erik Giesa,
SVP Marketing. The pair wanted to make clear their company is providing the next generation of IT operations management and moreover, pioneering the idea of extracting value from wire data.
Said Rothstein, “IT operations gets more difficult but expectations for perfection continue to increase,” he continued, “How do you address this?” From there he explained his company’s role is to promote IT operations architecture. Explaining further, Giesa said, traffic is growing all over the place data centers with new VM and applications spinning up and down constantly. “Everything meets at operations,” he concluded.
Rothstein then shared a story where a customer of theirs providing cloud storage was about to upgrade their storage unit at a cost of a million dollars until they realized utilizing Extrahop’s solution that a single process was in an infinite loop of archiving. It turns out a script was missing a semicolon and when it was added, storage utilization decreased by 85% saving the company a million dollars in the process.
In another example, an advertising network was able to use their solution to determine they were trying to solicit ads from clients who had depleted their account balances. This was a tremendous opportunity cost – armed with this information they could now ask the clients to top off their accounts.
Extrahop further allows DBAs to see down into the stored procedures and database transactions on the network – without needing an agent embedded in the SQL. Really, this gets us to the idea that the company wants to be known as the leader in extracting value from wire data or “observed communications.” These are things which are observational, such a network slowdown.
Another way of looking at the company is traditional APM solutions are on the inside looking out – monitoring areas such as agent data or host based instrumentation while they are outside looking in.
In terms of deployment the options are varied - virtual appliances for retail sites or they can live in the AWS cloud. Companies can further opt to run the solution in a hybrid environment while maintaining a single view.
In the Devops space , companies use their products to test and QA baseline versus new releases while also monitoring the production environment to determine how various versions behave.
Here are some past interviews I've conducted with Jesse Rothstein for background information
Recently I wrote about the idea that marketing is eating sales, a direct quote from Barry O’Sullivan the new CEO of Altocloud. The concept is that marketing departments are gaining more power within organizations at the expense of sales departments. It isn’t that sales is going away, it is just that much of the waste in a sales department can effectively be eliminated if automated systems are used to better target and presell customers. The idea is a nurtured lead is a far better prospect than a cold call.
Big data of course is a hot trend these days and it seems its application will be most successful in areas like marketing automation where massive amounts of information about prospects and customers exist. Oracle’s Eloqua acquisition was made with these concepts in mind. The company says their solutions will help “modern marketers.” They further discuss how they tie this division into their business analytics and big data capabilities.
Video below shows how Eloqua ties into the Oracle's marketing strategy
Speaking of big data and analytics, IBM is not going to let this market opportunity get away from them. Armonk has built an incredible consulting organization over the past decade plus and they are smart enough to see big trends on the horizon and capitalize on them. This explains their $100 million additional investment into ad consulting.
This makes sense based on what IBM’s comments from last year. In an interview, Carl Ford of Crossfire Media spoke with Blair Reeves (pictured below) of IBM who said the following:
Companies should spend less time on advertising and worrying about various channels and instead focus more on putting customers at the center of their business. He went on to explain that everything is part of big data – there is so much data going out there not only on the marketing side but related to how people are buying and selling he said. Another interesting point was this coupled with social information can be used by companies to serve their customers better.
Perhaps the most compelling part of the interview was a reference to “digital Darwinism” where the companies that move and adapt quickly making smarter investments and moves with their customer base will win over those stuck in the past.
IBM’s consulting business already employs 5,000 and will add another 1,000 to help companies in the area of data analytics and more. According to the Wall Street Journal:
The group recently worked with a large consumer product goods company to help them figure out which two major movie stars they could use as brand ambassadors in their marketing campaign. IBM used its software to mine social media and other sources such the client’s customer data to determine which of the celebrities had the most influence with its customers.
Madison Avenue is getting used to the competition. Over the past few years, Accenture and Deloitte, which both compete with IBM in management consulting have also beefed up their marketing capabilities. At the same time tech companies such as Salesforce, Adobe and Oracle Corp. have also jumped into the fray with many of them building out technology platforms –with the help of expensive acquisitions–that can help companies manage their marketing efforts across different media and channels using technology.
Marketing will continue to rely less on guess-work and more on quantifiable data. Moreover, there will be many companies who get this transition wrong as they focus on leads but forget about their brand. It is a common error actually; many marketing people consider the number of leads they receive as a more important metric than how their brand is perceived.
In other words, if a company focuses its time mostly on leads and not on branding, it may end up spinning its wheels because many of the leads won’t consider their company when they make a purchase.
Big data can be extremely useful in helping companies determine brand preferences but in my experience many small to mid-sized companies don’t even consider doing such surveys because they have a laser focus on leads.
The bottom line is analytics and big data will continue to drastically transform marketing and marketing will continue to eat sales… This market will continue to remain very competitive and over time, even the small to medium companies will learn how to analyze all the data that matters. Companies that understand how to holistically evaluate their marketing spend and make correct decisions based on this knowledge will be far-better equipped for what IBM calls digital Darwinism.
The traditional telco is dead – the case for moving to COTS technology is just too compelling. This is a theme I have been espousing for over a year. My readers further know companies like Metaswitch Networks have also been making the case as to why carriers need to start evaluating their software options immediately.
You also know about the cost savings associated with moving to standard servers – power and maintenance savings are a few additional benefits. You also know in order to compete with OTT services you need to have similar cost models.
Having said that, Tiscali has just announced they have picked the Metaswitch Clearwater Core (see architechture diagram above) and Perimeta SBC to power their Indoona App. The applications is like a blend of social networks like Instagram and Facebook with some Facetime Audio thrown in (see pictures below). It allows 100 minutes per month of free calling to much of the developed world’s landlines and after that, rates start at 0.8 eurocents per minute for landlines and cell phones. Calls to Tiscali landlines and multimedia messaging are both free.
The Web-services-oriented design inherent to Clearwater Core makes it ideal for instantiation within NFV environments as a virtualized network function (VNF) according to the companies. The deployment also includes MetaView Service Assurance Servers for always-on diagnostics, including internal policy auditing as well as network protocol tracing.
“A network functions virtualization infrastructure (NFVI) is the perfect environment in which to construct, test, deploy and scale innovative network functions. We’re pleased that Tiscali chose Metaswitch’s NFV expertise to help it grow Indoona while providing telco-grade reliability,” says Dave Reekie, general manager of Metaswitch’s open source and security/interconnect business units. “We’re confident that as the Indoona service continues to scale and evolve and become more popular with consumers, Metaswitch will be right there helping Tiscali promote the rapid innovation of new services.”
“Our customer demand is growing rapidly and Metaswitch is helping us meet the needs of our customers quickly and easily,” says Tiscali CTO Andrea Podda. “Metaswitch’s Clearwater and Perimeta products are helping Tiscali achieve its goal of operating a modern, intelligent future-proof network in Italy, in turn delivering high-quality services to our customers.”
The future of the telco will rely less on hardware as SDN and virtualized servers play a larger role; First in the edges and eventually in the network core. Carriers who are concerned about WhatsApp, Facebook and a plethora of other competitors should be exploring their options quickly. I commend Tiscali for being innovative not only on the client-side with an app but in the network with a software-based strategy.
To learn more about becoming a software telco be sure to come to the second Software Telco Congress, August 12-12 2014 in Las Vegas.
For those of you who follow financial or political happenings you know that many conservatives and libertarians favor investing in gold, silver and related commodities because their value cannot be altered by central banks around the world. Congressman and former libertarian presidential candidate Ron Paul actually asked Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke if he sees gold as a currency. Paul has advocated taking the US to a gold standard for years and while this likely won’t happen any time soon, conservatives and libertarians have invested in commodities as a way to protect themselves from the US and other central banks who purposely devalue their currencies.
If you missed the debate BTW, it is a great watch. Bernanke is adamant that gold isn’t a currency – this is likely in my opinion because the federal government can’t manipulate it.
Recently the IRS ruled that bitcoin is not a currency but rather an investment meaning you have to pay capital gains on $300 profit if for example you purchased a bitcoin at $500 and used it to acquire a suit for $800.
As a student of history and technology I know that disruptive innovation in the tech world is difficult to predict but I know when something has the potential to change how the world operates. Many of us saw this with the advent of the web, VoIP, e-mail, e-commerce, e-auctions and more.
Currency is one of the next areas ripe for disruption. Will bitcoins be the future? Who knows? To some degree a virtual currency is like a gift card or a traveler’s check but in a world awash in irresponsible central bankers racing to devalue their currencies, there is tremendous demand for alternatives.
This is why Marc Andreessen just said libertarians will eventually be big backers of bitcoin. If I were him I would have hedged the statement by using the term “virtual currency” but other than that I agree with his statement.
The interesting point here is if libertarians (I would add fiscal conservatives to this group) start investing, then we can expect the value of the whole segment to increase. Challenges of course, will abound as bitcoin has already become as volatile as a dotcom stock.
Still, issues like volatility will get worked out – most likely through companies which offer some protection from it through hedging which the typical person will be shielded from. In other words, just like a bank has FDIC insurance and passes the cost on to the consumer, new bitcoin companies will protect your virtual currency from fluctuation but at a price.
The bottom line is the US federal government doesn’t see bitcoin as a currency – possibly for the same reason I outlined above – because it can’t manipulate it. It is worth mentioning that central banks cannot only devalue currencies over time by printing (electronically or otherwise) money but they can prop them up to boost confidence in the underlying denomination and economy.
As virtual currencies fight to transform today’s currency to currency 2.0, there are a host of challenges the financial and tech worlds will need to work out to ensure new currencies have all the benefits of government-issued currency but with limited drawbacks. When these items get resolved, we can expect even greater use of bitcoin and its currency 2.0 alternatives by libertarians, investors and everyone.
If you are a libertarian, conservative, investor or developer or want to learn more about the future of currency, be sure to come to Currency 2.0 Conference July 22, 2014 in NYC and register now to secure a pass before it sells out. And yes, you can use dollars.
Isn’t it funny how much of the world has changed thanks to Steve Jobs? As I sit here at my computer using a mouse and GUI, which Jobs popularized while listening to MP3s, another industry he revitalized, I am fascinated by how much this man changed computing. Over a decade ago, my company TMC launched a show in the biometrics space called BiometriTech and another in the tablet space, Tablet PC Summit. Both shows failed because the companies in the industries failed to make products in volumes that translated into marketing budgets which allowed for a successful conference. Biometrics is now a mass-market product thanks to the iPhone 5s and the iPad has made tablets a PC killer.
We also had a show that was very successful for a while called Planet PDA targeted at enterprise buyers – it died off when BYOD and the smartphone came out – another market Jobs revolutionized. A few months back I took the family to see Disney’s Frozen – an amazing franchise which will be worth billions to Disney. Again, this movie was created with the cooperation of the Pixar team, another company Steve Jobs revitalized and later sold to the entertainment giant.
Apple stock trades at a large discount to the market in-part because people think the company cannot innovate without Jobs. The issue was addressed recently in a relatively unknown book titled Haunted Empire: Apple After Steve Jobs where the author spells out exactly why Apple is doomed without Jobs – and more importantly has grown so large that it would be doomed with him there.
To be clear I haven’t read the book but one of the most trusted names in tech, Rob Enderle has and he recently summarized the title and discussed his thoughts on TMCnet sister site TechZone360 where he seems to agree with much of what the book has to say. What initially drew him to it was a comment on Amazon which seemed so negative that it was likely planted by someone who didn’t want anyone to read it.
Interestingly, sometime later Apple CEO Tim Cook came out with a statement about the book as follows:
It is very unusual and I would say not intelligent for Tim Cook to directly take aim at an obscure book that most people would have ignored. Now that he has mentioned it, he has moved the needle tremendously on the interest level in not only the book but on whether the assertion that he lacks imagination and can’t innovate is accurate. Here is Enderle in his own words:
In effect, Apple is haunted by the spirit of Jobs who is no longer there to micro-manage it and it was designed to be micro-managed. But since this design isn’t even viable anymore, it provides a double hit and thus the problems the book is full of.
One of the key things that clearly came through in the book is that Jobs’ reality distortion field, which is the term both used to describe times when Jobs disconnected from reality and when he disconnected Apple fans from reality, continues to exist in the company. This existence is detailed in an executive inability to even see the problems that need correcting and thus forms the foundation for why things aren’t getting better. If you can’t see a problem, you can’t fix it.
Ballmer – Cook
While the book doesn’t make this comparison, I’ve followed Ballmer much more closely than I have Cook and I was struck by how similar the two men are. In fact, I think they’d actually get along rather well. Both don’t chase personal wealth, both are sharply numbers focused, and neither is particularly good on stage - even though both have worked hard to be. Both are also decent operational managers but neither has any real imagination or ability to innovate. That similarity doesn’t bode well for Apple either.
Currently in Apple, for the employees, all career paths seem to lead to Google - where the firm is working to solve death (really) as opposed to just coming up with a way to build another phone color. There is actually an acronym for it “G2G” or “Go to Google.” That’s never good.
Now to some of the comments on Amazon – these are a few interesting ones I found:
This book does not do any of that. It has several deadly flaws:
1. It meanders from one random topic to another
2. The author injects their opinion into every detail and tells you how you should feel
3. Several topics fail to connect to the current state of the company
I was compelled to read it from cover to end very quickly. I'm not sure if it was due to a desire to give this book a chance or because I'm a masochist.
The criticism I have is that I want to know more about many of the people and developments I've read so far. That's a problem I don't think is the author's fault. I wish more people at Apple and Foxconn would have cooperated with the writing of this book. These people do interesting, important work but they take themselves and their secrecy too far and too seriously. They are in a competitive business but they also have experiences that are worth sharing and that can be shared without harming their work. They fool themselves thinking their silence is power when it often produces skepticism and distrust, even among each other.
There's been quite a bit of noise the past few days about the book. In recent years, it's become more and more difficult for journalists to write books about the subjects they cover without enduring instant criticism in many different venues, including Amazon reviews. Until now, I thought the most intense such criticism was dealt on political reporters and their books. But wow, it is truly dizzying to see the vitriol leveled at Yukari just on the first day the book was distributed. She is not an author who decided to latch on to the Apple "brand" and cash in, as some people have flippantly written here. No other company in technology has grown so fast from such a large base of revenue as Apple has in the past few years. That's something worth deeper scrutiny by a writer like Yukari with the experience of watching it and knowing the people in it.
Finally, for anyone who is part of the story, no book or article or any other type of portrayal of their work comes out the way they would have written it. No doubt everyone at Apple, Foxconn and other companies in this book see themselves and their work differently than it's shown in "Haunted Empire." Even so, Tim Cook's insulting email to CNBC about the book, which followed his refusal to be interviewed for it, is incredibly rude. It's another of the kind of episodes at Apple that the book raises questions about. A smarter, humbler leader would answer some of those questions.
The book's biggest shortcoming is, frankly, also its greatest strength. Apple's complete story hasn't been written yet. It is a company in the midst of an extremely challenging transition and we won't know how it plays out for years or decades. But I appreciate Kane's bravery in writing a book that both challenges the conventional wisdom and is full of new and fascinating reporting from Apple's recent history. Some of the vitriolic reviews on this page show the dangers of critiquing a company as loved by its employees and fans as Apple is.
After finishing the book, Kane's thesis -- that Apple must acknowledge the huge changes brought about by the loss of Steve Jobs and quickly adapt -- rings true for me. Others may disagree.
But is it a book worth reading? Absolutely. Brava.
Perhaps the best way to get a sense of whether the book is accurate is the author, Yukari Kane who defends her position on CNBC. Also check out this New York Times interview which is excerpted below the video.
Cook is more systematic and analytical. That means that he’ll run a tight ship, and Apple will be financially well managed under him. I’m not sure we’ll ever see his thumbprint on a product, though, because he’s not the type of person to get involved in the minutiae. I could see him running the numbers to make sure that new products are marketable, but he depends on his lieutenants to figure out the nitty-gritty.
One anecdote came up in my reporting that I think really shows the difference in their thinking. I don’t know if there was an official policy, but in the first weeks after launching a product, Apple would often replace damaged devices even if the customer is at fault.
When the idea was first proposed, Steve liked it because he saw how satisfied customers could bring in more business through positive word of mouth. His attitude was, “Hey, we’ve got to make people happy. If we’re spending an extra nickel, it’s O.K.”
What this discussion misses is the Apple ecosystem – (it is worth pointing out I am an Apple investor but if anything, I am typically more critical of companies I have invested in) which is already in-place. In other words, when I want to share photos, it is easier to do so using iOS than with any other device I have found. Users can AirDrop them or use iCloud and place them in specific albums. When a group of people get together and take photos, typically someone will set up an iCloud folder for sharing and the Android and other users will be excluded from partaking.
Likewise for podcasts, iTunes apps, music, movies, FaceTime, iMessage, etc.
In other words, as Apple comes out with new devices and products, the sheer weight of the ecosystem is in-place already and even if products are substandard, they will have the additional advantage of working with existing equipment and services.
Let's also keep in mind that Apple has consciously ceded the low-end of the market where there is little profit to Android. This actually hurts the ecosystem opportunity and may be looked at as a strategic blunder at some point in the future.
I would, have and will continue to argue that the iPhone 5s is substandard. Not only does it not get through the day with its current battery if you are a power user but it is too small. Steve Wozniak volunteered this same thought to me when he keynoted a recent ITEXPO in Las Vegas and I got to spend some time with him off-stage. Specifically he said they made the phone taller but not wider, suggesting this was an error.
The opportunity for Apple is to grow share in the computing market in tablet, phone and desktop/laptop form factors and from there make inroads into other markets such as music services with their radio initiative and eventually a wearable play. Home entertainment is not off the table either; we can expect more effort devoted to this space beyond their TV device.
One point worth making is Apple has innovated without Jobs – it has released a phone with a fingerprint reader which works fairly well, it has a desktop computer that is the envy of power users and the world’s first 64-bit smartphone processor.
Sure, I made fun of them for coming out with a plastic phone – which I still think was a bad idea – but there were mistakes under Jobs as well. After all, Steve never wanted the iPad Mini but was forced into the form factor wars by Amazon and others.
If Apple can come out with a few new form factors between the size of the iPhone 5 and the iPad Mini – or for heaven sakes, at least one form factor, I believe we will see a massive surge in the company’s sales (not that they are lacking now). After all, people with poor eyesight – anyone over 40, is a massive market and these people appreciate a larger phone.
Whether Apple will be able to innovate in other areas is unclear to me but we have seen the Pixar team continue to come out with blockbusters without Jobs at the helm. Understanding that Pixar can do it makes it a lot easier to believe Apple will be able to come out with new breakthrough products in the future as well.
Tags: amazon, apple, disney, facetime, imessage, itexpo, itunes, movies, pixar, podcasts, rob enderle, steve jobs, steve wozniak, tim cook
Related tags: haunted empire, apple steve, empire apple, review haunted, amazon verified, apple
Aspect has been expanding the capabilities of its portfolio as well as its deployment options. They have made a bunch of investments and acquisitions and they now have an extremely comprehensive omnichannel contact center capability in the cloud and on-premise. The company has multichannel self-service, agent assist in the contact center, workforce management, backoffice optimization solutions and more.
TMC has been covering them since the eighties and it is pretty amazing how many companies they have purchased during that time - Aspect was actually a company which was acquired and then the name was changed from Concerto. Some of my favorite acquisitions made by the company were PackNetX the first ACD on a CD company and Cell-IT, the first IP contact-center solution.
Nowadays, the company is finding it increasingly important for customers to enable consumers to communicate with them in the channel of their choice. Whether SMS, voice, social, whatever it is they explained, "It is increasingly important that companies enable omnichannel communications." said Jim Freeze, SVP & CMO. Moreover, he said, cloud is becoming an important deployment alternative for their customers.
In addition to Jim, I had a chance to speak with Spence Mallder, SVP & GM of Workforce Optimization and Tim Dreyer Director of Analyst Relations.
The company has expanded its omnichannel capabilities, part of this has to do with the Voxeo acquisition. Omnichannel self-service and proactive outboud were becoming important to their customers so they acquired the leader in the space they told me. Explaining further they said, the capabilities are now available to prospects and customers. They also told me about the new Aspect Proactive Engagement Suite. Similar solutions can let customers know via SMS when something happens like when power will be restored after an outage. Aspect's solution however can now turn this notification into a dialogue. A customer could use it for example to reschedule a delivery. In other words, you get a notification that your dentist appointment is tomorrow at 2:00 pm and you can interact with the alert to change it to a later time.
They have also been building out their data centers to support these cloud initiatives. Companies are all looking to lower costs while improving service they told me. Another announcement they recently made was their Workforce Optimization 8.0 Suite which provides icons, widgets and customizable dashboards as part of a new more intuitive graphical user interface designed to improve agent engagement.
These are some of the benefits according to the company:
- Higher productivity workforce because day-to-day administrative tasks take less time
- Improved morale resulting from the simplification of important tasks such as vacation requests
- Broader use of more powerful but complex WFO features
- Easier remote agent deployments with flexible use across common browsers (Internet Explorer, Safari, Firefox, Google Chrome) and devices (desktops, laptops, tablets and smartphones)
- Improved agent autonomy and efficiency by providing faster access to information, all in one place through simple icons and configurable widgets and dashboards
Mallder said, "Customers prefer not to talk to someone if they dont have to." and Freeze followed up "We are seeing a generational shift and while voice is growing, its growing more slowly than other channels."
Spence explained that user and supervisor interfaces have been humanized - this allows you to minimize the number of clicks to get things done. Continuing, he said, this has been done cross-workstream in one seamless user interface. The new Beta program has had to have little to no training; Its web-based and one Beta went into production already implying it was so easy to use a customer went full speed ahead.
They will have some news on a vertically focused expansion of their capabilities in the cloud in the next few weeks which we hope to break on TMCnet.
ShoreTel Touts Low TCO and Cloud/Premise Integration
I just had a chance to meet with Mark Roberts, CMO of ShoreTel to a get a handle on what the company has been up to lately. He has been at Polycom and Mitel in the past and is just embarking on his fourth month in his new role but seems very excited to be where he is. This is in-part because he beleives the ShoreTel roadmap is the correct one to navigate the ever-evolving communications market.
We started the conversation by discussing how companies with cloud communications solutions are valued far higher than those with custoemr premise-only solutions. In fact, the more cloud, the higher the valuation.
Of course ShoreTel has been ahead of this curve, purchasing M5, one of the leading cloud players in the space, almost two years ago.
Of course cloud is a recurring theme when talking about ShoreTel... This and TCO are two topics thecompany constantly touts. Past CMO Kevin Gavin waxed poetic about it in many of our past meetings. On the TCO front in-fact, Nemertes came out with research today showing ShoreTel has the lowest TCO out of all the major telecom players on the market. Another point Roberts was happy to tout.
Getting back to cloud, Roberts doesnt see cloud being something all his customers implement immediately. He said, "We don't see it as a flash cut, people moving from the prem to the cloud but we do see a huge growth opportunity for the cloud and are configuring ourselves to take advantage of that.
In order to leverage the fact that the cloud is a cost-effective way to get a solution in the hands of the customer but companies aren't going to throw away their existing solutions, they are developing more cloud-based solutions which work with their premise hardware. Think of this as new apps and features/functions.
From there he discussed their new 400 series phones which allows customers to have same phone, features and functions regardless of whether they use the cloud or prem. Roberts said the channel was especially happy about not only the phone but the story - one company can help them solve their communications needs from the prem to cloud.
From there we discussed how the communications platform has a new role to play - it will enable you to get higher value from myriad apps your corporation relies on. And as this happens, we can only expect the value of your communications solutions to increase. In fact, ShoreTel is hoping this ecosystem of communications systems and apps makes their solutions that much stickier.