Unravelling a Tangled Web of Cloud ERP Alliances

Cloud computing can always make for strange bedfellows, but when it comes to Unit4, a provider of ERP applications that is in the process of expanding its presence in North America, channel partners will need to check their scorecards.

Unit4 is a roll up of several application providers, the best known of which is Coda, a provider of financial software. To initially enter the U.S. market Unit4 formed a joint venture with Salesforce to create FinancialForce.com. Now the company is moving to bring the rest of its application portfolio to the cloud via an alliance with Microsoft.

Instead of deciding to deploy that software in the Salesforce cloud, Unit4 CEO Jose Duarte said Unit4 opted for the Microsoft Azure cloud because by definition the company’s ERP cloud applications will be deployed in hybrid cloud computing environments. As such, while the Salesforce cloud platform is viable for cloud native applications, when it comes to traditional enterprise applications running on premise and in the cloud Duarte said the Microsoft Azure cloud makes more sense in terms of how Unit4 customers will actually embrace cloud computing.

Microsoft is clearly betting that ISVs such as Unit4 will play a critical role in expanding the number of application workloads running on the Azure cloud. Unlike Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Google, Microsoft is committed to making it simpler to manage, deploy and secure applications across hybrid cloud computing environments.

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The most immediate benefit of the Microsoft alliance, said Duarte, will be the ability to better integrate Unit4 software with Microsoft Office and Microsoft Office 365 productivity applications. In effect, Microsoft productivity applications are evolving into front ends for ERP applications running in the cloud

Duarte says one other thing that makes Microsoft Azure attractive to an ISV such as Unit4 is the level of investments Microsoft is making in machine learning software. It’s only a matter of time before advanced analytics coupled with machine learning algorithms winds up automating a vast range of business processes. Rather than reinvent that wheel, Duarte says it will be more cost effective for ISVs to leverage the investments that Microsoft is already making in this area.

Unit4 is hardly the only ISV that will have a tangled web of alliances in the age of the cloud. But as the company’s cloud computing strategy continues to evolve it’s clear from a partner perspective that one of its approaches to the cloud is going to be both considerably larger and potentially a lot more profitable than the other.

Article source: http://talkincloud.com/cloud-computing/unravelling-tangled-web-cloud-erp-alliances

55% of enterprises predict cloud computing will enable new business models in …


In late 2014, Oxford Economics and SAP collaborated on a survey of 200 senior business and IT executives globally regarding the adoption and use of cloud technology:

  • 69% of enterprises expect to make moderate-to-heavy cloud investments over the next three years as they migrate core business functions to the cloud.
  • 44% of enterprises are relying on cloud computing to launch new business models today, predicting this will increase to 55% in three years.
  • 32% are using cloud computing to streamline their supply chains today. Senior executives predict this figure will increase to 56% in three years, a 24% increase.
  • 59% say they use cloud-based applications and platforms to better manage and analyze data today, reflecting the increasing importance of analytics and big data enterprise-wide.

These and other insights are from The Cloud Grows Up. You can find the study here (no opt-in).  Oxford Economics’ analysts compared the latest survey with one completed in 2012 looking for leading indicators of cloud adoption in enterprises. They found many C- and VP-level executives are taking a more pragmatic, realistic view of what cloud technologies can contribute. Enterprises are moving beyond the hype of cloud computing, putting in the hard work of launching new business models while driving top-line revenue growth.

Oxford Economics has made two interactive infographics available from the study here. The first details cloud adoption, and the second, on how enterprises see cloud computing changing their business models over the next three years.  As cloud platforms and applications become a scalable, secure and for the most part reliable, once-elusive enterprise goals and new business models become attainable.

Key takeaways from the study include the following:

  • Top–line growth (58%), collaboration among employees (58%), and supply chain (56%) are the three areas enterprises expect cloud computing to impact most in three years. The greatest gains will be in the areas of supply chain (a 24% jump), collaboration among employees (20%) and increased agility and responsiveness to customers (17%). The following graphic compares where enterprises are seeing cloud computing’s impact today and a prediction of each areas’ impact in three years.

Figure 2

  • Developing new products services (61%), new lines of business (51%) and entering new markets (40%) are three key areas cloud computing is transforming enterprises.  With a 35% increase, developing new products and services is the most dominant strategy enterprises are relying on to grow their businesses. See the comparison below for further details.       

developed new services using cloud computing 2

  • 58% of enterprises predict their use of cloud computing will increase top-line revenue growth in three years. 67% see the cloud changing skill sets and transforming the role of HR. The following graphic illustrates the first of two interactive infographics Oxford Economics and SAP are providing with the report. You can access the infographic here.

clouds enduring promise

  • 74% of enterprises say innovation and RD is somewhat or mostly cloud-based. 61% say they will have developed new products and services in three years as a result of adopting cloud technologies.  The following graphic illustrates the second of two interactive infographics Oxford Economics and SAP are providing with the report. You can access the infographic here.

infographic the cloud grows up

  • Enterprise cloud security strategies are maturing rapidly. From 2012 to 2014, strategies for ensuring the security of API and interfaces increased 24%, from 20% to 44%. Additional concerns that increased include virus attacks (up 19%), and identity theft (up 16%).  The following figure compares the top concerns enterprises have in the area of cloud security.

cloud security

  • 31% of respondents say the cloud computing has had a transformative impact on their business.  48%, nearly half, state that cloud computing has had a moderate impact on business performance. The majority believe cloud computing will have a significant impact on top-line revenue growth in three years.

Figure 31

  • 67% of enterprises say that marketing, purchasing, and supply chain are somewhat and mostly cloud-based as of today. Cloud-based adoption has reached an inflection point in enterprises, with functional areas having the largest percentage of workloads running on cloud-based apps. Enterprise senior executives see the potential to improve innovation, RD, and time-to-market via greater collaboration using cloud technologies.
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Article source: http://www.cloudcomputing-news.net/news/2015/jun/29/55-of-enterprises-predict-cloud-computing-will-enable-new-business-models-in-three-years/

I Want My Metadata: A Call For Greater Cloud Computing Transparency

Public cloud providers are replacing internal corporate data centers at a rapid pace. Technology and functions get handed over to a cloud provider. One thing appears to be missing, however: transparency. There is some important information– including performance, configuration and operations of each cloud workload, along with billing data — that isn’t made available to cloud users. As a result, cloud consumers are risking financial or operational impacts due to missing or hidden metadata.

That’s the key takeaway from a new survey of 275 IT leaders conducted by Forrester Consulting that finds there are negative financial, operational and strategic impacts when customers are denied crucial metadata and effective customer support. The survey was underwritten by iland, an enterprise cloud hosting provider.

The report’s message is clear: demand more from your cloud provider, and hold their feet to the fire. Insist that they provide more metadata.

Cloud metadata includes the performance, configuration, operations, and billing data that is part of each cloud workload. Such information helps enterprises keep tabs on cloud costs, maintaining performance and demonstrating compliance. This metadata is typically available to cloud providers, but on the customer side, there appear to be broad gaps in their knowledge about their own workloads.

As a result, 100 percent of companies surveyed suffered a negative business impact, including outages, wasted resources, unexpected costs and challenges reporting to management. At least 60 percent report they cannot grow their cloud footprint due to associated transparency, compliance and support issues.

The survey findings highlight the relationships between cloud providers and users, and areas for improvement. For starters, overall, cloud customer satisfaction is low, with a strong sentiment that providers do not respond to their users’ needs. Over 50 percent of cloud customers report their
provider “does not understand their company’s needs or care about their success.”

This lack of transparency can potentially slow down cloud expansion. At least 60 percent said that lack of operational transparency, compliance information, and solid support hinders them from expanding their cloud use, the report also finds. “A lack of clear cloud usage and operational data results in performance problems, challenges with reporting to management on costs of performance, payment for resources that customers ultimately don’t use, and unexpected bills.” More than half of companies also say they are not satisfied with the onboarding and support processes provided by their cloud providers.

There are a number of issues reported: Forty-three percent report performance problems or outages; 41 percent experienced challenges with reporting to management on costs or performance; 39 percent  paid for resources that weren’t used; and 36 percent received unexpected bills or line items.

Article source: http://www.forbes.com/sites/joemckendrick/2015/06/30/i-want-my-metadata-a-call-for-greater-cloud-computing-transparency/

The CXO view: We’re still unconvinced on cloud storage security


Less than one in three delegates polled at the Infosec 2015 event in London believe the cloud is a safe storage solution for corporate data.

The survey from digital encryption and USB specialist iStorage, which questioned more than 270 respondents including heads of IT, CIOs and CTOs, saw almost half (48%) say they do use cloud technology to store confidential information. 54% of those polled say they still use USB devices to store information.

Over three quarters (78%) said they were currently aware of policies within their organisations covering data protection matters, while a similar number (75%) affirmed they knew who specifically was responsible for data protection within their firm. Yet the imminent EU data protection regulations – which this publication has recently covered – caused more of a pain point. Only 50% of respondents said they understood what the regulations would mean for them individually and their organisations.

John Michael, iStorage CEO, said: “Cloud technology may make life easier for mobile workers but it’s certainly not without its risks; it really should only be used to store encrypted, non-sensitive information.” He added: “Ultimately, the cloud concept refers to a physical data centre and as such users are very much reliant on trusting cloud providers to protect any information that they store in this way.”

This is not a view that everyone agrees with, however. Kelly Stirman, VP strategy at MongoDB, spoke at the recent Cloud World Forum event on five tips for making success a reality in the cloud. Subtitled “escaping cloud cuckoo land”, Stirman blasted a few myths out of the water; one of which being the security of the cloud.

“Cloud is not secure – [it’s] just not true,” he told CloudTech. “Most of these guys are vastly more secure than any of us can design in our own systems.” He added: “People tend to object to cloud, their operation [team’s] obligation…because it’s not secure. No, this thing is incredibly secure, but your ops teams need to know how to configure to be secure where you need to be secure.”

iStorage also argues that, for those who still like to use a USB to transport company information, robust encryption capabilities need to be fitted. By remarkable coincidence, the company is also hawking a new USB 3.0 drive, the datAshur SSD, with auto-lock features, self-destructing PIN and brute force protection.

Regardless, despite cloud storage providers beefing up their business credentials – Box’s customer wins with the US Department of Justice, Dropbox’s adoption of the ISO 27018 standard – there still remains a fair amount of scepticism over the validity of cloud among the C-suite.

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There’s no doubt that some CXOs are skeptical of cloud security. Others, though, are increasingly confident that cloud’s benefits outweigh any risks. (bit.ly/1cm2rXw) — Chris Nerney, commenting on behalf of IDG and Microsoft


Article source: http://www.cloudcomputing-news.net/news/2015/jun/29/cxo-view-were-still-unconvinced-cloud-storage-security/

Dropbox and Xero form alliance as small business cloud computing battle heats up

Xero’s Australian managing director Chris Ridd said the partnership was important for Xero, as it meant all of Dropbox’s Australian users, would see that it was simpler to conduct their accounting online with Xero, than using other systems. For example if a Dropbox customer had created a folder to store snapshots of receipts and other expenses throughout the year, this could now be imported directly into the Xero accounting system.

The partnership comes just weeks after Xero announced a partnership with Google, which will mean customers can create invoices and quotes from within Gmail.

“That all means eliminating multiple passwords, sharing files, and means we can become a simpler part of the natural workflow of the business,” Mr Ridd said. 

Mr Ridd said Xero’s reputation as a cloud computing pioneer helped it when dealing with potential partnerships with big global tech firms, as the companies tended to approach initiatives from a common perspective.

Article source: http://www.afr.com/technology/dropbox-and-xero-form-alliance-as-small-business-cloud-computing-battle-heats-up-20150629-ghwp7g

Google to pair its cloud-computing power with Broad’s analytic tools

Broad Institute HQ–Courtesy of the Broad Institute

Google ($GOOG) has signed up a high-profile collaborator to work on its burgeoning cloud genomics platform. The agreement will see the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard work with Google to create new tools that pair their respective strengths in data analysis and cloud computing, starting with the offering of GATK as a service.

Broad Institute is making its GATK, also known as the Genome Analysis Toolkit, available as a service to users of the Google Cloud Platform. Initially, the partners will limit the number of users who have access to GATK, but the plan is to advance out of this alpha-stage release and make the service more widely available. Then, any user of Google Genomics will be able to upload their data to the cloud and run GATK analyses using the search giant’s computing capacity. This fusion between Broad Institute’s genomics knowhow and Google’s computing grunt runs right through the alliance.

“In order to scale up by the next order of magnitude, Broad and Google will work together to explore how to build new tools and find new insights to propel biomedical research, using deep bioinformatics expertise, powerful analytics, and massive computing infrastructure,” Jonathan Bingham, product manager at Google Genomics, wrote in a blog post. The relationship also promises to lessen the IT burden on researchers by allowing them to outsource the configuration of technical specifications and maintenance of computing capacity to Google.

Such a simplification of the lives of researchers is central to the cloud-computing pitch being made by Google and its rivals. GATK has been downloaded around 20,000 times, Reuters reports. In the near future, each of those downloaders could turn to Google Genomics instead. The availability of GATK and other tools could give Google and edge over Amazon ($AMZN) in genomics, a field in which it is difficult for either company to differentiate on price. Google’s relationship with Broad Institute isn’t exclusive, though, so its rivals could still offer competing services.

– read the blog post
– here’s Reuterscoverage
– and Bio-IT World‘s take

Related Articles:
Google and the Broad Institute join forces for genomic data sharing
Amazon, Google duke it out for control of cloud genomics
10X Genomics poaches David Jaffe from the Broad Institute
Broad Institute gets $10M to study genetics of cancer drug resistance

Article source: http://www.fiercebiotechit.com/story/google-pair-its-cloud-computing-power-broads-analytic-tools/2015-06-29

Cloud Computing Set to Transform Home Security

The spread of cloud computing and the development of wireless security devices are set to have a transformative impact on the way homes and commercial properties are kept safe from potential intruders.

According to David Ward, business development manager, electronic access control – wireless with Assa Abloy,  the next big paradigm change on the property security market is the introduction of home automation panels that allow owners or occupants to exercise precision control of multiple security functions via the Internet.

“The latest home automation panels are capable of incorporating multiple security features together, that can all be accessed and controlled via an online server,” he said.

Ward notes that a key driver in the expansion of the home automation panel market has been the increased use of centralized server and software systems by multiple manufacturers, facilitating deployment of their products.

“On the market at the moment there are a lot of home automation panels coming out that are all using the same server platform – alarm.com for example,” said Ward. “This allows a number of manufacturers to link to it as though it were an Internet portal, so they don’t have to do their own web development and they don’t have to have provide their own servers.

“It’s really opening up the wireless market – we’re right on the cusp of a big transformation, with every manufacturer looking at these panels.”

Ward said that these new cloud-connected panel provide highly enhanced levels of functionality to concerned building managers and homeowners.

“The panels enable you to control everything in our home via your personal devices,” said Ward “When a tradesman comes to your house, you can disarm your alarm, unlock the door, watch them through the cameras and see them out of the premises all via an iPad.”

“When your kids come home, you can have a message sent to your phone indicating that they opened the door at four o’clock on afternoon, accompanied by a snapshot from a security camera of them actually coming in. You can even see if your daughter has brought her boyfriend home with her after coming back from school.”

Manufacturers are responding to the enhanced functionality provided by home automation panels and cloud computing with the development of products and equipment that readily dovetail into the new systems.

“Where we’re seeing big growth in this market is in wireless digital deadbolts the you can put on the door,” said Ward. “We’ve already manufactured locks that can work with these systems.”

While many consumers may remain leery about cloud computing and Internet-based security systems due to regular media frenzies surrounding hacking, Ward said existing measures should be sufficient to deter any digital fraudsters.

“We have a lot of these discussions with regard to our locking solutions – one of the things we pride ourselves on is the encryption between our lock and the alarm panels,” he said. “Typically the solutions are encrypted in the property – the alarm controls talk to servers using encrypted data, and this is a perfectly sufficient security measure.”

Ward is confident that the demonstrable advantages of cloud-connected automation panels will soon make them a standard feature in the property security sector.

“All the major are suppliers are getting on board with home automation panels and it will be everywhere – this is going to be seriously paradigm-changing,” he said.

Marc Howe is one of Sourceable’s lead writers on technology and business issues in relation to Australia’s built environment.

He has accumulated extensive experience as an editor and reporter both in Australia and abroad, and has covered a broad range of topics during his press career…

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Article source: https://sourceable.net/cloud-computing-set-transform-home-security/

Does the cloud even exist?

As an IT leader, how often have you heard “move it to the cloud” in response to mounting pressures to reduce operational costs and increase delivery speed?  

Having grown up in an operational IT role, I’m willing to bet you’ve heard that said hundreds of times by now. Here’s my recommendation: The next time you’re asked this question, respond with something cheeky like, “Which one?” After a few moments of uncomfortable silence, break the tension with a more constructive discussion on the merits of using “a cloud” in lieu of “the cloud.”

Here’s why:

“The cloud” is increasingly used as a panacea for nearly all ills associated with legacy computing (as well as legacy IT outsourcing): too expensive, too slow, too complicated. The problem with this approach is that it fails to take into account the nuances inherent in a massive and complex ecosystem with very little standardization. Depending on the cloud that buyers choose, the services they’ll receive are a combination of outsourcing and insourcing, with some traditional software procurement mixed in. Either way, it will likely look very different from traditional on-premises IT or traditional ITO.

Today, each cloud is, for the most part, unique. This uniqueness has fostered an explosion of innovation within the cloud ecosystem. Each cloud provider operates in its self-interest, maximizing shareholder value by creating features and capabilities that are unique to its proprietary cloud.

One could argue that this uniqueness is beginning to dissipate a bit, because there is a good deal of current discussion about the future of interoperability between cloud infrastructure services. Most leading thinkers in this space believe we’re headed to a place where workloads will be able to move between clouds with little to no transformation. Others are attacking this problem from an application point of view. Docker, an open-source initiative that creates “containers” for applications, hopes to solve this problem by creating application portability across environments. Docker is creating a lot of buzz, and some very big organizations have some very smart people focused on this new project. 

However, we aren’t seeing similar interest in portability between clouds as buyers move further up the cloud “stack,” into software as a service (SaaS) — which just so happens to be a much bigger market than infrastructure as a service. Differentiation in SaaS is the name of the game, and Tier 1 SaaS providers are aggressively charging a premium for high-end features such as embedded analytics and mobile-enabled workflow. 

From a sourcing perspective, it’s important to note that this uniqueness inherent to each cloud is not only isolated to the features and APIs the provider exposes to its users. It also creeps into everything the company does: how it runs day-to-day operations, the service levels it exposes to customers, the contracts it asks customers to sign, the way it negotiates and the way it prices its services. 

This battle for differentiation creates significant challenges for ITO buyers who want to include cloud in their delivery model. Many buyers today approach cloud providers (as well as traditional providers that have developed or acquired next-generation cloud services) with the same thinking they have used with outsourcing providers for the last decade or so: Providers have limited to no differentiation so, therefore, the one that can lower my cost with the least disruption, provide the most client endorsements and the most amenable team for me to work with will win the work.

This approach discounts the uniqueness inherent in each cloud and fails to take into account several important distinctions between outsourcing providers and a cloud delivery model:

  1. The individual cloud a buyer selects in no way guarantees a reduction in cost. With many leading SaaS providers, a major upgrade may need to be avoided in order to ensure a positive business case. For public cloud IaaS, cost savings depend heavily on designing an appropriate infrastructure configuration for the application and the usage profile of this configuration. The potential for savings is unique to each provider and how the buyer chooses to use the platform.
  2. Most leading outsourcing providers have generally agreed on a set of commercial standards to ensure each party is protected from the inevitable ups and downs inherent in day-to-day operations. No such model exists for cloud providers. Infrastructure buyers are on their own to ensure they are not overpaying for compute and storage resources, and SaaS buyers will likely commit to a baseline of users that cannot be reduced during the term of the agreement. The protection you receive as a buyer is highly dependent on the specific cloud you choose, and how you choose to deploy it.  
  3. And, finally, day-to-day management of an outsourcing service, typically managed by large sourcing teams, is being disrupted by massive levels of automation inherent in many clouds. Increasingly, cloud platforms are using APIs to communicate with each other and with users. The robustness and maturity of these APIs varies wildly from cloud provider to cloud provider. Again, each cloud is unique, therefore, they way that buyers interact with each cloud provider will be unique as well.

Cheeky responses aside, using “a cloud” in lieu of “the cloud” can help crystallize the discussion when evaluating cloud as a potential delivery model. This approach helps to underscore the uniqueness and opportunity inherent in each cloud, but also reinforces the fact that selecting a specific cloud requires considerable due diligence, especially for mission-critical workloads.

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Article source: http://www.computerworld.com/article/2939719/cloud-computing/does-the-cloud-even-exist.html

CLOUD COMPUTING Salesforce Launches New Tools To Boost Mobile …

The new in-app customer support offering from Salesforce, announced today, includes an Amazon Mayday-like SOS button that instantly puts users in touch with agents for live, on-screen video help. The new cloud Relevant Products/Services-based Service for Apps will also enable companies to provide customers with in-app knowledge bases, chat support, case monitoring and tap-to-call access to phone support.

While Salesforce SOS is available now, the other app tools are scheduled to roll out in private beta later this year. Salesforce said Service for Apps will let enterprises easily embed multi-channel customer service directly into their mobile apps and fills a gap in existing customer relationship management. While 88 percent of mobile users’ time is spent in apps, most organizations aren’t yet making mobile a part of the service experience, according to Salesforce.

Smaller businesses looking to improve their mobile support for customers will have another new tool from Salesforce: Desk.com for Apps. Powered by the Desk.com customer support app, the new SDK, currently in private beta, will let small and midsize enterprises embed support into native apps for iOS and Android devices.

Demand for ‘Instant, Always-On’ Service

“The mobile app revolution has created a new requirement for instant, always-on service,” said Mike Milburn, senior vice president and general manager of Service Cloud for Salesforce. Salesforce’s new Service for Apps will allow companies to “deliver a whole new level of service to customers” from within their apps, he said.

There is currently “an immense gap between mobile adoption and success customer service and support on the mobile device,” according to recent research from Gartner Relevant Products/Services Inc. Despite the widespread use of mobile devices today, only 20 percent to 40 percent of customer interactions occur on such devices, and less than five percent of customer service is “one and done” on mobile devices, Gartner said.

Moving forward, Gartner said customer experience, rather than products and services, will define “the new competitive battlefield” for companies in many industries.

“The reality is that focusing innovation on new products — and even new business models — is subject to shrinking periods of competitive advantage,” Jake Sorofman, research director at Gartner, noted earlier this year. “Competitors and alternatives abound. To meet this challenge, nearly three-quarters of companies expect to increase technology spending on customer experience in 2015.”

Intelligent Routing for Personalized Support

Service for Apps will enable companies to easily expand their support options for customers who are interacting with them through mobile apps, according to Salesforce.

The Chat for Apps function, for example, will allow a mobile gamer to ask an agent for advice in real time while providing the agent with information on the specific game and level the customer is using. Cases for Apps, meanwhile, will add camera and location details for better case creation and monitoring. For instance, someone could use a city government app to send a picture of a pothole, which automatically generates a repair case with the city.

Supported by Salesforce’s recently added Intelligent Routing Agent, Service for Apps can also automatically route cases to the agent who’s most appropriate for handling a specific type of request. Service for Apps is the latest addition to Salesforce’s Service Cloud offering, which the company said can help companies resolve cases 48 percent more quickly while reducing support costs by an average of 45 percent.

Pricing for Service Cloud starts at $135 per month, while Salesforce SOS is now available for $150 per user per month for Enterprise Edition customers. Pricing for other Service for Apps features — including Chat for Apps, Tap-to-Call, Knowledge for Apps and Cases for Apps — will be announced when those offerings are released for general availability, according to Salesforce.

Article source: http://www.toptechnews.com/article/index.php?story_id=1220020TZUAG

Even bigger data: Getting the most out of your implementation

(c)iStock.com/Erik Khalitov

By David Belanger, Senior Research Fellow in the Business Intelligence and Analysis Program at Stevens Institute of Technology and co-leader of the IEEE Big Data Initiative

Over the last week or so, I’ve had the opportunity to view a collection of talks and articles about new network technologies related to how data is gathered, moved, and distributed. A common element in all of these discussions is the presence of big data. 

New network technology is often the driver on quantum increases in the amount of data available for analysis. In order, think of the Internet, web, 3/4G mobility with smartphones and 24×7 access, and Internet of Things. Each of the above technologies will make dramatic changes in the way networks gather, carry and store data, while taken together they will generate and facilitate far more data for us to analyse and use.  The challenge will be getting more than proportional value from that increase in data.

We have already been through network technologies that have dramatically increased the number of hours a day that people could generate and consume data, and fundamentally changed our relationship with information. The half-life of usefulness of information has dropped as we can get, at nearly any time, many types of information in seconds using an army of “apps”; and the “inconvenience index”, or the amount of trouble we needed to go through to obtain information, has become measured in inches instead of feet or yards. The emergence of a vast array of devices connected to the Internet and measuring everything from human movement, to health, to the physical and commercial worlds, is starting to create an even larger flow of data.

This increase in the volume, volatility, and variety of data will be larger than any of its predecessors. The challenge is: will it create a proportionally large increase in the amount of information? Will it create a proportionally large increase in the value of that information? Or, will it create a deluge in which we can drown?

Fight or flight

Leaving aside the fact that much of the increase in “data” in flight over networks today is in the form of entertainment, the latest number I have heard is about 2/3, there is no question that the current flood of data has generated information of significant value.  This is certainly true in the financial industry, not least algorithmic trading, which not only uses big data to make better decisions, but automates the execution of those decisions.

In consumer marketing, the use of big data has fundamentally changed the approach to targeting from segmentation and aggregates, to targeting individuals, or even personas of individuals, by their behaviours. This has created much more customisation for applications ranging from recommendations to churn. Much of the management of current communications networks is completely dependent on big data for functions such as reliability, recovery, and security. It is clearly true in many branches of science, and is becoming true in the delivery of health care. Leaving aside potential issues of privacy, surveillance cameras have changed the nature of policing. As video data mining matures, cameras will challenge entertainment for volume of network traffic, and provide another opportunity for value generation.

We typically think of the analytics associated with these data as leading to more accurate decision making, followed by more effective actions.

Size is not always important 

The answer to the two questions above depends, in part, on how broadly based the skill set for effectively using this data becomes. Big data is not only a function of the volume (size), velocity (speed), and variety (text, speech, image, video) of the data available.  At least as important are the sets of tools that allow a broad variety of people to take advantage of that data, the availability of people with the necessary skills, and new types of applications that evolve.

Over much of the last two decades, big data was the province of organisations that both had access to lots of data, and had the scientific and engineering skills build tools to manage and analyse it; and in some cases the imagination to create business models to take advantage of it. That has changed dramatically over the last several years. The set of powerful, and usable tools has emerged both commercially and as open source.

Understanding how companies can obtain access to data in addition to their operationally generated data are evolving quickly, and leaders in many industries are inventing new business models to generate revenue. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, there is a large, growing body of applications in areas such as customer experience, targeted marketing, recommendation systems, and operational transparency, that are important to nearly every business, and are the basis for competition in the next several years. Skills needed to take advantage of this new data are within the reach of more companies than a few years ago. These include not only data scientists, but also a variety of engineers and technicians to produce hardened systems.


So, how do we think about this? First, the newly generated data will be much more open than traditional operational data. It will be worthwhile to those who think about an organisation’s data to look very seriously at augmenting their operational data with exogenously created data.

Second, you need to think creatively about integrating various forms of data together to create previously unavailable information. For example, in telecommunications, it is now fairly standard to integrate network, service, customer, and social network data to understand both customers and networks.

Third, skill sets must be updated now. You will need data scientists, data miners, but also data technicians to run a production level information based decision and automation capability. You will need people skilled in data governance – policy, process, and practices – to manage risks associated with big data use.

It is time to start building this capability.

About the author:

Dr. David Belanger is currently a Senior Research Fellow in the Business Intelligence and Analysis Program at Stevens Institute of Technology.  He is also co-leader of the IEEE Big Data Initiative. He retired in 2012 after many years as Chief Scientist and V.P. of Information, Software, and Systems Research at ATT Labs.

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Article source: http://www.cloudcomputing-news.net/news/2015/jun/26/even-bigger-data-getting-most-out-your-implementation/