Facebook Grows up and Goes to Work, but Will It Win Over Businesses?

T. Banting

Summary Bullets:

• As Facebook is nearing the limit of consumer advertising, the company is turning its focus on the business market as an alternative revenue stream.

• Facebook’s Workplace and WhatsApp Business are likely to become a disruptive force to the communications and collaboration, and contact center markets.

According to Facebook, the average person spends 50 minutes a day on its Facebook, Instagram, and Messenger platforms. There’s no question that the rise of platforms like Facebook has a transformative effect on the way we interact socially; however, it is nearing the limit of consumer advertising as a source of revenue, Facebook is turning its focus on the business market as an alternative revenue stream. In October 2016, Facebook introduced Workplace by Facebook, a mobile and web-based service offering the best of Facebook for the business world. Incorporating News Feeds, Groups, Events; audio, video and messaging plus live streaming; the company has mustered a prodigious toolset to offer prospective customers. The company has amassed a large number of household names as customers: Booking.com, Columbia Sportswear, Danone, and Starbucks are all using Workplace by Facebook to connect, share ideas, and collaborate. Furthermore, Facebook has revealed it is working on an enterprise messaging service (known as WhatsApp Business), and trialing with KLM Royal Dutch Airlines and Yoox Net-a-Porter Group. When brought to market, WhatsApp Business could be considered a prime channel for customer service, sales and marketing, and support given the apps 1 billion daily active users. Consequently, Facebook is likely to be an increasingly disruptive force to not only traditional communications and team collaboration vendors (Atlassian, Cisco, IBM, Microsoft, Slack, Unify and others), plus the contact center market. Read more of this post

SD-WAN Buyer’s Guide Part 2: Exploring the Potential Functional Benefits

Joel Stradling – Research Director, Business Network and IT Services

Summary Bullets:

• Many enterprise IT departments find their current WAN solutions unwieldy when it comes to adding, or reducing, the number of connected sites. SD-WAN solutions should provide greater agility for turning up new branch sites.

• Service orchestration and a single-pane online tool for managing circuits and path-selection for critical apps also give greater functional agility.

SD-WAN services are becoming more widely available across the globe, with large global and smaller regional service providers increasingly including various SD-WAN options from within their portfolios examples include AT&T, Masergy, Colt, CenturyLink, Tata Communications, and NTT Communications. In parallel with such activity in the operator community, there are dozens of SD-WAN platform developers in the market, such as Nuage Networks (a Nokia company), Versa Networks, VeloCloud, and Viptela. The landscape makes it confusing to understand which type of SD-WAN supplier to work with, and thus businesses need to conduct conversations with several vendors from the categories above before making a choice. One theme remains constant: enterprise clients need to understand the network transformation path they intend to take in order to achieve a robust SD-WAN overlay. IT department heads can look at the functional positives that SD-WAN may bring and line these up with requirements.
Read more of this post

What Does Microsoft Need to Do to Win in Collaboration and Communications?

T. Banting

Summary Bullets:

• Microsoft needs to consolidate and rationalize Office 365’s overlapping functionality to avoid the potential chaos associated with having too much choice in its portfolio.

• Microsoft should decouple telephony from Skype for Business, add PSTN calling to Teams and end-of-life Skype for Business online to differentiate in the team collaboration platform market.

With Microsoft Ignite about to start in Florida (25th September), it’s interesting to try to read behind the lines of some of the sessions and speculate as to how Microsoft really will start ‘to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more’. At the moment, it’s hard to achieve more when Office 365 contains so much feature and functionality overlap between products such as Office 365 Groups, Skype for Business, Microsoft Teams and Yammer. Read more of this post

MWC Americas 2017: Application Platform Providers Represent a Pivotal Link in the IoT Platform Ecosystem

C. Dunlap

Summary Bullets:

• Application platform vendors are aiming to provide core integration and messaging platforms to partners’ IoT solutions targeting LoB.

• MADP and PaaS providers are enhancing mobile platforms with management and orchestration technology to manage apps across omni-channels, including IoT.

Numerous IoT platforms were on display this week during Mobile World Congress, Americas 2017 in San Francisco. At the heart of the solutions being offered by various telcos, networking, and other infrastructure leaders was a common foundational technology in the form of middleware or platform services, typically offered via cloud partnerships. That’s because IoT solutions are enabling applications through technology that gathers data, manipulates data, and applying rules around the data–technology founded in mature middleware solutions, including: Read more of this post

Huawei Aims for Public Cloud Market Domination in the Nicest Possible Way

B. Shimmin

B. Shimmin

Summary Bullets:

  • At its annual Connect conference, Huawei set down its plan to become one of the five dominant public cloud platform providers, opposite IBM, Google, Microsoft, and Amazon.
  • Huawei’s cloud ambitions, however, aim not to dominate but to create an open, independent platform that augments and works with other clouds while maximizing differentiated Huawei functionality and expertise.

What is a computer? Is the cloud a computer and vice versa? In many ways, yes. Both a computer and the cloud represent a programmable resource, for example. Both dole out capabilities in the form of services. And both are finite in their scale and bound to the purpose of those who program them. Sure, the cloud can be seen as a never-ending cluster of computers slung together. But both, at the end of the day, return zeros and ones in exactly the same way. Read more of this post

VMware VMworld 2017: Infrastructure Leader Poses New Threat to PaaS Providers

C. Dunlap

Summary Bullets:

  • VMware leverages its infrastructure strengths in taking on containerized services.
  • VMware neglected to outline a roadmap for DevOps technologies: microservices, serverless computing, and APM.

VMware significantly stepped up the competitive threat it poses to the application platforms market segment, announcing its first commercial offering alongside sister company Pivotal, as well as technology partner Google, via a container services collaboration, Pivotal Container Service (PKS). The emphasis is on easing configuration requirements that have delayed adoption around containerization, which ensures the continuous delivery of services and apps, while addressing IT operational concerns involving the modernization, management, and portability of legacy and new apps between multiple clouds. PKS, available year-end, supports Kubernetes container technology on vSphere and Google Cloud Platform (for more, see VMware VMworld 2017: VMware Container Collaboration Addresses Configuration Pain Point, August 30, 2017). Read more of this post

Variety Is the Spice of Life for AI, Particularly in Humanizing HR

B. Shimmin

B. Shimmin

Summary Bullets:

  • Digital assistants like Microsoft Cortana are a lot like people in that they are the most interesting when they specialize, and when they become experts in a given field.
  • This is the case with human resources (HR), where there are many AI-driven chatbots available, each able to answer specific problems (like employee feedback) or support specific constituencies (like millennial employees).

If there’s one lesson to be learned from this week’s announcement that Microsoft Cortana will be able to converse freely with Amazon Alexa, it’s that AI-driven personal assistants – like people – do well to specialize. Cortana is quite adept at setting appointments and Alexa is pretty good at turning lights off and on. But don’t ask Cortana to turn down the heat or Alexa to set up an Outlook meeting. Like people, AI platforms grow up under very different circumstances, each with its own unique philosophy, friends, and culture (in the world of IT, ‘philosophy’ means AI algorithms, ‘friends’ equals data sources, and ‘culture’ means domain of expertise). Read more of this post

Cloud Leaders Must Acknowledge Importance of Agility via OSS Initiatives

C. Dunlap

Summary Bullets:

• Leading into JavaOne, keep an eye on prominent microservices community project MicroProfile including vendor participants.

• Another important cloud initiative receives strong support this month via Microsoft and AWS.

As we head into the crush of fall conferences among application platform and cloud vendors, I’m watching for themes that will further the modernization of application development. Since I have concerns about the ongoing complexities around emerging microservices architectures, community projects focused on improving the development process via open source software initiatives will be especially important in coming months.

This week a prominent community project focused on microservices, MicroProfile, announced key feature enhancements aimed at accelerating the adoption of microservices within the Java EE community. While there are multiple efforts around standardizing Java EE technology, not the least of which is JCP, MicroProfile’s latest enhancement will include a common configuration API that can be applied to multiple deployments, basically externalizing a configuration from an app to support a rapidly changing DevOps environment including continuous delivery. Going forward, other areas the group is considering includes integration with Health Check, Health Metrics, and Fault Tolerance. Read more of this post

Microsoft Slams AWS via Container Offering and Kubernetes Backing

C. Dunlap

Summary Bullets:

  • Microsoft Azure’s recent noteworthy announcements include joining CNCF and previewing an easy-to-deploy container service.
  • Microsoft’s moves not only highlight efforts to make Azure more usable for customers and developers, but also seek to position AWS as an inflexible walled garden.

Microsoft had a banner week in the hotly contested cloud wars. Amid claims as the top revenue earner against AWS, Salesforce and others (with an annual ‘intelligent cloud’ revenue run rate of $18.9 billion), Microsoft rolled out an aggressive strategy to provide the easiest on-ramp into the cloud via a new container service. Read more of this post

In David Ulevitch, Cisco Has Found Its (Alternative) Rock Star Security Leader

E. Parizo

Summary Bullets:

• David Ulevitch, a seemingly unusual choice to lead Cisco’s security business, will foster ‘positive’ disruption.

• He’s the perfect choice to usher the business toward a cloud-centric future, in spite of looming challenges.

For many years, the top job in Cisco’s security business group has essentially been a revolving door. Leaders have come and gone quickly, generally in one to two year stints, with varying levels of success. It’s been a double-edged sword; ineffective leaders and misguided strategies haven’t lasted long (see: Jayshree Ullal and “Anti-X”), but innovative leaders and winning strategies often haven’t stuck (Chris Young, widely credited for the group’s turnaround, is now CEO of rival vendor McAfee). Read more of this post