Tag Archive: enterprise


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Amazon Web Services continues to enhance support for Microsoft workloads with added SDK support for Windows Phone and Windows Store Apps.

According to the AWS blog, the new support comes with a Developer Preview of the next version of the AWS SDK for .NET. The release of the SDK adds two new enhancements for.NET developers.

A developer can connect Windows Phone or Windows Store apps to AWS services and build a cross-targeted application that’s backed by AWS. With the addition, AWS now also offers SDK support for Windows as well as iOS and Android.

AWS also added support for its “task-based asynchronous pattern,” which uses “the async and await keywords and makes programming asynchronous operations against AWS more easily to do.”

The support follows AWS efforts to show support for running Microsoft Exchange Server in the AWS Cloud as well SQL Server and Sharepoint.

The new support illustrates the competition among the cloud service providers to become the developer center for all devices. AWS is by far the leader but Windows Azure has steadily added more features for supporting iOS and Android.

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iStockphoto | dny59

You can add this to the growing list of specialized software that now runs in the cloud: Tracking the usage rights for film and television companies.

The company that does it is FilmTrack, and today it announced that it has secured a $20 million investment from the private equity firm Insight Venture Partners.

FilmTrack’s cloud application is used by film and TV studios to track the use of their video troves in order to make sure they’re getting paid when someone shows a movie or licenses some part of it. FilmTrack’s customers include the Weinstein Company, Lionsgate and the cable network Starz.

As part of the deal, Peter Sobiloff and Nikitas Koutoupes, both managing directors at Insight, will join FilmTrack’s board of directors. Also joining is Michael Lang, the former CEO of Miramax Films.

It’s the 15th investment in a software-as-a-service company by Insight Venture Partners, a private equity and venture capital firm based in New York. Last month, it invested $100 million in Anaqua, a cloud software firm specializing in the management of intellectual property including patents, trademarks and trade secrets.

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Netsuite, the cloud-based business software company, just announced its quarterly earnings for the period ended June 30, and they reflect why the company’s shares have been one of the best performers on the New York Stock Exchange this year.

On a non-GAAP basis, Netsuite reported per-share earnings of five cents on sales of $101 million. That was better than what analysts had expected: Two cents per share on sales of $100.6 million. Sales rose 35 percent from the year-ago period.

Recurring revenue, a key metric for cloud software companies that sell their software on a subscription basis, grew 39 percent. Sales through resellers – or “channel partners,” in industry parlance – grew 70 percent.

“If there was any question that mission-critical business applications were moving to NetSuite, this quarter should provide the answer,” CEO Zach Nelson said in a statement. Just today, the company said that Hailo, the company behind the taxi-hailing app, had become a customer.

Always quick to point out where his main rival is tripping up, Nelson compared NetSuite’s results to those of the German business software giant SAP, which fell by about 7 percent year on year in its most recent quarter.

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Apigee has a new platform for customers to manage API-driven business efforts that extends from purchase-to-payment of digital assets. The service is meant for organizations, such as telecommunications providers, that sell services delivered through an API.

Apigee has designed the platform so a customer can get help with pricing, notifications set-up and limits that tell when a number of products have been sold. It comes with an administration platform and developer platform for billing. Licensed on a yearly basis, the platform is available both in the cloud and on-premise.

The communication through the API monetization platform is two-way. For example, telecommunications customers have often had to send email notifications when there was a change to a rate plan for one of its digital services. With the new platform, the service is automated so a customer can set up notifications for the developer subscribing to the plan.

The issue extends to the finance department with API providers historically collecting money by invoice from developers. With the platform integration, a bill gets automatically sent to the customer with real-time credits and deductions to the developer’s account without having to invoice.

In the overall market, there are companies that are digital native and those that do not have the background with APIs. Apigee is trying to serve both markets. They are offering easier API integration for the more seasoned customers and the expertise to show how the service can be offered and managed for the clients newer to the ways of the API economy.

APIs are becoming part of the mainstream business world. Until most recently, APIs have primarily been viewed as a way to connect apps. But they are increasingly used as a gateway for customers to sell services. This is evident in how they are getting baked deeper into enterprise systems. Intel acquired Mashery for $180 million this spring to offer the API platform to serve as a way to connect back-end systems to the cloud.

In essence Apigee is offering its customers a deeper way to automate the selling process and subsequent management of a customer’s digital assets. That’s something we can expect to see more often as APIs move deeper into the mainstream business world.

Disclosure: Apigee’s Sam Ramji needed a place to stay while here in Portland this week for OSCON so he bunked at our house.

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If you haven’t had enough of high profile tech IPOs, there’s word today that another is gaining steam for sometime in 2014, this one in the enterprise cloud computing space.

Box, the fast-growing enterprise cloud computing company that has raised a combined $312 million from venture capitalists and private equity investors, has completed its bake-off of bankers, according to Reuters, and is aiming to raise $500 million in an initial public offering in early 2014. Morgan Stanley, Credit Suisse and J.P. Morgan Chase will lead the offering.

Box has been hitting all the stations of the cross on its way to an IPO. Earlier this year, CEO Aaron Levie (pictured here from his appearance at D: All Things Digital in May) confirmed to AllThingsD that the company is on track to exceed $100 million in revenue this year. And while he also admitted that Box’s burn rate is typically in the “seven figure per month” range, Levie states that the company’s biggest expense is the sales and marketing people who can, as he put it, “get enterprise deals done.” In January, Levie predicted that Box would have 1,000 employees by the end of 2013, and I just heard from a source today who said that, as of October, it was already north of 900.

At the time, he said that “most” of the $150 million the company had raised in a huge Series E led by the private equity firm General Atlantic was still in the bank. Box first announced it had raised $125 million in the summer of 2012. That round was said to value the company at $1.2 billion. Investors seemed to really like Box, because by January that same round of funding had swelled to $150 million.

Before that it raised $81 million in a 2011 strategic round that included Salesforce.com and SAP Ventures.

Levie didn’t immediately answer an email, and other sources at the company were not commenting in the wake of the Reuters story.

Levie publicly said earlier this year that a Box IPO was likely for 2014, and would follow a series of moves to expand its sales footprint globally. Its first move was to add a sales office in London to go after European business.

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Docker, an app container service from the co-founder at DotCloud, and Salt, an open DevOps platform from the founder of SaltStack, were mentioned this past week at OSCON as two of the most exciting new open-source efforts.

Complexity comes with the cloud and its fit with enterprise data centers. The Docker team calls this new world of services and devices the matrix of hell. The Salt folks see salvation in speed – perhaps to save us all from the hell that comes with heavyweight systems that require extensive resources and are slow due to being built when distributed systems were not as common as they are today.

Both projects are tied to the deeper complexity that comes now with what new DotCloud CEO Ben Golub and Co-Founder Solomon Hykes describe as a world that resembles a matrix, represented by rows of endless number of available services and columns that represent any number of devices where applications run. DotCloud supports the Docker open-source project.

Their emergence also represents the new reality about what can be described as the “agnostic cloud.” Sure, there’s a belief structure about cloud but there is no almighty allegiance to its power. Instead, there is an agnostic movement to make on-premise and cloud services accessible through a universe of providers and open-source services that run anywhere – be it a private data center or a public cloud service.

Docker

Docker automates the deployment of apps as a lightweight Linux container. The container can be built and tested on a laptop and synced to run anywhere. It can run on virtual machines, bare-metal servers, OpenStack clusters, public instances or any combination of on-premise and cloud offerings.

Docker does not port the virtual machine nor the operating system, which makes sense when considering that the infrastructure itself is becoming the operating system. The compute, storage and networking is already in place on a cloud service – the application just goes there to run.

The service avoids the issue that comes with moving virtual machines, which are not designed to move between clouds. So instead of moving the VM, Docker moves the code between the VMs. Most of the security is managed by the Linux kernel.

Hykes said in an interview last week that developers particularly like the capabilities to continually test and integrate app containers. This makes for simpler and faster methods for building applications that can run anywhere. For example, developers are using Docker to build next-generation platform as a service (PaaS) offerings. It’s a noteworthy development. Most PaaS providers have historically provided monolithic platforms to do as much as possible. With Docker, platforms can be built that leverage the services of different providers to create lightweight environments for building and delivering apps.

For more technical descriptions about Docker, there are some good resources here, here and here.

Salt

Salt is a new open DevOps platform built for speed. It is designed to use generic high-speed communication to move data out to nodes by doing parallel data processing. Generic commands get sent to the nodes with feedback coming back very quickly. Harvard University used it for their supercomputer clusters. Jobs that once took 15 minutes now take five seconds.

According to the SaltStack website, Salt can be scaled to tens of thousands of servers through a communications bus that orchestrates, does remote execution and configuration management as well as other tasks.

Salt is being used as a replacement for Chef and Puppet, the two leading DevOps platforms. It is now used by LinkedIn and Rackspace. Here’s an excerpt from a good analysis by Sebastian Kreutzberger, CEO of RhodeCode, an open source software configuration and management platform for Git and Mercurial:

Salt is like a mix of Chef/Puppet (defining states) and an easy way to communicate with machines directly (like with an MQ). The big difference to Chef is the architecture: the slave (called minion) does not pull for changes every bunch of minutes, which can cause weirdness, but has a standing connection to the master which allows instant changes and commands.

Noted often about Salt is its documentation, which has helped the community further develop the platform. Here’s an introduction to Salt by its creator Thomas Hatch:


Conclusion

The cloud and on-premise systems are starting to merge into one cohesive universe. OpenStack serves as a way to make data-center environments more elastic. Cloud services like Amazon Web Services represent the public cloud infrastructure. The PaaS providers are becoming environments for serving apps to these different infrastructures. These agnostic providers, such as Cloud Foundry, do not serve one cloud. They help developers serve multiple cloud environments.

The same is true for services like CloudMunch, which offers a continuous integration platform that can move code between different cloud services. CloudMunch Founder Pradeep Prabhu said this new universal world has three main characteristics:

  • There must be the choice to use any developer or operations tools with any PaaS for any IaaS/cloud or on-premise/private cloud.
  • It has to be workload centric. Whatever makes best sense for a given workload including tooling, patterns and practices and infrastructure/cloud for delivering the best results/roi for that workload.
  • It is the ability to define a customizable software delivery progression with all the checks and balances for both application code and infrastructure code with no lock-in to any tool, methodology or cloud.

Similar principles apply to Docker, which treats the app container as the way to deliver apps to the cloud or any other infrastructure. Salt also fits into this universal mentality.

The new world is not about universal control and beliefs in all-mighty systems. Open-source efforts like Docker and Salt are popular because they fit into this more flexible and agnostic view of the cloud and data center universe.

Image credit: Wikipedia

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For 100 years or more, architects have relied on the massive catalog sitting on their desk to find the right products to use in their projects – this brand of glass, or that brand of toilet. That catalog had a monopoly on the market for a century, but with the birth of the internet, that catalog never made the transition over to digital.

But a site that launched back in 2009 as a platform for architects to publish their work, Architizer, is relaunching tomorrow to finally fill the void it left.

Architizer is a two-sided platform that lets architects upload their work in order to get more potential clients as well as professional feedback from their peers. Meanwhile, brands can pay a subscription to connect their own product pages to Architizer projects in which their products were used.

How it works:

It looks a little like this:

Architects upload their work in any format they like, from a PDF to a picture of a napkin covered in scribbles. Architizer’s curatorial team then deciphers that project, beautifies it, and publishes the project on the firm’s own Architizer firm page.

Within the project, other architects can comment and view all the materials used in the building, from the fixtures to the window systems and more.

Then, brands who had products used in that building can connect with that project. So let’s say the building used Kohler toilets, for example. Within the project page, Kohler would be listed as the plumbing provider, and that would automatically be hyperlinked to the Kohler product page on Architizer.

Architizer is free to use for architects and firms, while brands pay a subscription fee of anywhere between $95/month and $595/month for Architizer to hyperlink every mention of that brand on the site.

Competition:

Architizer launched back in 2009 as a self-publishing platform for architects who wanted a digital portfolio. Though the two sites were inherently different (one is an editorial curated blog and the other is a self-publishing platform), ArchDaily stuck out as the greatest competitor to Architizer at the time.

See, ArchDaily receives tips from architects who send in their work, and then features those projects in an editorial blog-style web site. Though Architizer’s content was all self-published by architects, Architizer had an editorial team that packaged and featured the top projects for browsing on the site.

At the time, most of the company’s revenue came from traditional advertising and running branded competitions amongst architects. This new form of native advertising, however, wherein brands pay to connect with users, will end up being the main source of revenue moving forward.

As it stands now, native advertising is huge with regards to any curated or editorialized content, especially when it involves user generated publishing. Everyone from blogs like BuzzFeed and Gawker to social networks like Facebook and Twitter are pushing branded content into a special place on the site, where it’s sure to receive eye balls.

Meanwhile, recommendation engines like WeeSpring are working hard to offer solid feedback on very niche verticals, like pre-delivery baby shopping.

However, combining user-generated content with a subscription-based paid service for brands to automatically promote themselves (within that user-generated content) is a relatively new business model.

The Re-Launch:

Architizer grew from 200 projects published in 2009 to 55,000 projects published now, but founder Marc Kushner believed there was still a piece of the puzzle missing with regards to materials used in projects, and making information on those materials easily accessible to architects.

“Right now, architects know more about the sandwich they’re having for lunch then they do about the products they’re using in their projects,” said Kushner. “Right now they’re learning about these products from reviews on Amazon because there is no online destination to get credible information. We’re looking to change that.”

The site has been redesigned entirely from the ground up to make uploads faster as well as connect users to other architects and brands. As it stands now, the site sees 1.5 million monthly visitors with over 14,000 firms on the platform according to Kushner. The relaunch will include participation from 18 partnering brands including Sherwin Williams, Kohler, and Dupont.

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Computing giant Dell is running up against the last few days of its existence as a public company. Soon to be privately held as the result of a $25 billion buyout approved last month by shareholders, Dell said today that one of its last official acts before delisting its shares on the Nasdaq will be to pay shareholders a special dividend of 13 cents.

CEO Michael Dell, who, along with private equity firm Silver Lake, is buying out the company he founded in his college dorm room in the 1980s, agreed to add the special dividend on Aug. 2, as the result of a drawn-out wrangle for control of the company with activist investor Carl Icahn.

The deal is expected to close before Nov. 1, which is two weeks from today. Once it does, the dividend will be paid, and the shares will formally cease trading.

One piece of business that will follow: The board of directors will shrink from 10 members to three. According to a Bloomberg report and since independently confirmed by AllThingsD, the new board will be comprised of CEO Michael Dell, along with Egon Durban and Simon Patterson, both managing directors at Silver Lake.

At this, let’s look back on Dell’s history as a publicly traded company. While it has had a lot of challenges in its recent past, it’s worth remembering what a wealth-generating machine Dell has been since its 1988 IPO.

Have a look at this Google finance chart. Over its 25 years and change of trading as a public company, Dell shares have risen by more than 13,000 percent versus a 900 percent return for the Nasdaq over the same period. Given the longest possible view, it has been an impressive run. (Click to make bigger.)

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