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SAP and Yandex pair up to launch predictive analytics platform

Zumos de verdura ecolcicaSAP and Yandex Data Factory have announced a new strategic partnership to develop cloud-based predictive analytics services for the retail, e-commerce, banking and telecommunications sectors.

Using the machine learning & data analytics capabilities of Yandex Data Factory, the team will offer services such as personalised offers of goods and services, churn prediction and recommendations for the retention of customers, which will be based on the SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud platform.

While the offering could seemingly be extended to other verticals, the team are focusing on more consumer orientated areas due to the volume of data these companies have already collected. There does not seem to be any reason why it could not be extended beyond the industries mentioned, though there would have to be a suitable amount of information collected to realize the full potential of the offering.

“While the advantages of big data analysis are well-understood, many in the retail, e-commerce, banking and telecommunications sectors will have concerns over integrating data analysis technology with their existing systems,” said Alexander Khaytin, chief operating officer at Yandex Data Factory. “We wanted to remove this obstacle and therefore deliberately partnered with SAP – one of the leading providers of data and business automation tools in these sectors – so that we can offer our clients advanced predictive and prescriptive analytics, without additional integration costs.”

The Yandex big data algorithms are based on matching a customer’s profile with another customer who has demonstrated the same purchasing tendencies. In theory, should two customers have a similar profile, predictions on what one will do can be based on the actions of the second. Yandex claims it can reduce the costs of acquiring new and retaining current customers by up to 10%.

T-Mobile exchanges stock for referrals in pursuit of new subscribers

GrowthT-Mobile US has launched its new #GetThanked initiative to engage existing customers, offering various rewards including stock in the company.

Building on the company’s view that its competitors only offer rewards as an incentive for subscribers to spend more money, the T-Mobile initiative rewards customers simply for being customers. While those who want to participate in the Stock-Up initiative do not have to spend any money, they do have to ensure their family and friends sign up to a post-paid contract, in a similar manner social media uses viral marketing to promote apps and games.

“Get ready for a gratitude adjustment, America! This Un-carrier move is all about giving you a good thanking! No strings. No gotchas. Just ‘thank you for being a customer!’” said John Legere, CEO of T-Mobile. “At T-Mobile, we already wake up every day working for our customers—so I’ve decided to make it official and turn T-Mobile customers into T-Mobile owners by offering them stock. And we’re thanking customers every week with cool stuff from brands people love. For free. Every Tuesday!”

Newer customers will receive one share for every successful referral, whereas those who have been customers for five years or more will receive two. An individual can receive up to 100 shares a year on the scheme, which is managed by T-Mobile’s brokerage partner, LOYAL3. Aside from the shares, subscribers can also receive more conventional rewards including free in-flight, Domino’s pizza, holidays to Las Vegas, hiking trips to Machu Picchu, as well as other prizes.

T-Mobile currently accounts for 15.8% of the US market share, according to statistics from Ovum’s WCIS service, which has been steadily increasing from 13.9% in June 2014. The Un-carrier initiative was launched in March 2013, seemingly as a means to differentiate the brand in the US, made stronger strides into the post-paid market and increase brand loyalty. While the stock initiative could be perceived by some as a PR stunt, it could have an impact on brand loyalty, as customers may feel more affinity to T-Mobile should they own a small percentage of the company, as well as acquiring new post-paid customers.

The overall Un-carrier strategy itself would appear to be a successful initiative, as the company recently reported healthy Q1 results including subscriber gain, revenue growth, churn reduction and an improved forecast for the remainder of 2016. The company claims it acquired 2.2 million customers over the period, marking its 12th consecutive quarter of over 1 million customer acquisitions. Ovum suggests T-Mobile were amongst the biggest winners of Q1 with AT&T bringing in 1.8 million new customers, Verizon 2.2 million and Sprint just 500,000.

82% of C-suite say public cloud is the way forward

Silhouette Businessman Holding PuzzleResearch from HyTrust claims 82% of C-suite execs are to increase the number of workloads their organization hosts on public cloud, reports

The transition to a cloud-based mentality and business model has given rise to arguably one of the most influential brands in the world; AWS. That is not to say Amazon as a brand wasn’t influential before the rise of the cloud; more the concept of the cloud made Amazon a major player in the Enterprise IT world.

In April, Amazon CFO Brian Olsavsky delivered the quarterly earnings call which outlined the team’s belief the AWS business unit would break through the $10 billion barrier. While this number does only represent roughly 10% of the company’s annual revenues, it demonstrates the progress of the cloud industry on the whole.

But the cloud is still seen as a proposition which is mainly utilized by the technologically advanced organizations, so what’s holding it back? The first answer for most would be security, but this might not be the case.

A recent survey from HyTrust highlighted while there may still be concerns for decision makers in trusting the cloud, this is certainly not holding these organizations back from investing. 42% of C-suite executives (CEO, CFO, CIO etc.) say critical server workloads have already been virtualized in their environments; for IT systems administrators and engineers, that number is 65%.

Data and security breaches are still top of the list of concerns when considering such a move, but the survey also highlighted 74% of respondents are planning to move (new or additional) workloads to a public cloud in 2016. This statistic is also weighted more towards the boardroom, as executives would appear to be more bullish in their cloud ambitions than other levels within the business. 82% of C-suite executives who were surveyed believe they will migrate additional workloads to the public cloud in 2016, compared to 66% at director level and 73% at administrator or engineer level.

For most, the C-suite would generally be perceived as the more risk adverse individuals within the business, having been exposed to the stakeholders and media alike when something does go wrong, however the statistics may demonstrate a more general acceptance of cloud computing throughout the business. Security has always been a concern of organizations since the beginning of the cloud revolution, though it would appear decision makers are now okay with accepting 100% secure is impossible and the new objectives should be to remain as secure as possible, consistently.

In terms of the top players within the industry, there are few surprises as to what brand decision makers are leaning towards during 2016. The only difference from many previous reports is the inclusion of VMware vCloud Air, which made an appearance in second accounting for 24% of the respondents, pushing Google Cloud out of the top three. Microsoft Azure was top of the list representing 32% of the vote, whereas the widely recognized market leader AWS sits in third, bringing in 22%.

Aussies lose AWS for six hours

amazon awsAWS’ Australian customers suffered an outage over the course of the weekend for approximately six hours due to a power outage which coincided with adverse weather conditions.

The cause of the outage has not been officially confirmed, though did occur at the same time as a storm system that ran from Brisbane to the NSW South Coast which caused widespread flooding, was limited to the Sydney data centre roughly between 11.30pm 4.30am (PST) on June 4.

On the company’s status page it stated, “We are investigating increased connectivity issues for EC2 instances in the AP-SOUTHEAST-2-Region,” at 10.47pm as well as, “We can confirm that instances have experienced a power event with a single availability zone AP-SOUTHEAST-2-Region. Error rates for the EC2 APIs have improved and launches of new EC2 APIs instances are succeeding within the other Availability Zones in the Region,” at 11.49pm PST. Full connectivity was not reported until 4.43am PST.

Although the company has not since commented on the episode, the status page on the website currently states all services are up and running. The outage impacted a number of core and value add services including EC2, Elastic Load Balancing, ElastiCache, Redshift, Relational Database Service, Route 53 Private DNS, CloudFormation, CloudHSM, Database Migration Service, Elastic Beanstalk and Storage Gateway.

While there have been a number of outages in recent months, AWS has seemingly faired pretty well avoiding headlines for the most part. Google appeared to be taking the route of damage control in April following an 18 minute outage, while Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff took to twitter last month to apologize for his company’s 12 hour outage and Apple customers lost numerous iCloud services for seven hours earlier this month.

AWS Outage

Wipro open sources big data offering

Laptop Screen with Big Data Concept.Wipro has announced it has open sourced its big data solution Big Data Ready Enterprise (BDRE), partnering with California based Hortonworks to push the initiative forward.

The company claims the BDRE offering addresses the complete lifecycle of managing data across enterprise data lakes, allowing customers to ingest, organize, enrich, process, analyse, govern and extract data at a faster pace. BDRE is released under the Apache Public License v2.0 and hosted on GitHub. Teaming up with Hortonworks will also give the company additional clout in the market, at Hortonworks is generally considered one of the top three Hadoop distribution vendors in the market.

“Wipro takes pride in being a significant contributor to the open source community, and the release of BDRE reinforces our commitment towards this ecosystem,” said Bhanumurthy BM, COO at Wipro. “BDRE will not only make big data technology adoption simpler and effective, it will also open opportunities across industry verticals that organizations can successfully leverage. Being at the forefront of innovation in big data, we are able to guide organizations that seek to benefit from the strategic, financial, organizational and technological benefits of adopting open source technologies.”

Companies open sourcing their own technologies has become somewhat of a trend in recent months, as the product owners themselves would appear to be moving towards a service model as opposed to traditional vendor. According to ‘The Open Source Era’, an Oxford Economics Study which was commissioned by Wipro, 64% of respondents believe that open source will drive Big Data efforts in the next three years.

The report also claims open source has become a foundation stone of the technology roadmap of a number of businesses, 75% of respondent believe integration between legacy and open source is one of the main challenges and 52% said open source is already supporting development of new products and services.

Apple experiences outage in North America

Apple 1Apple has restored services to customers around the world after many of its cloud-based offerings and other services faced outages of up to seven hours.

The outages, which were reported from users mainly in North America, are yet to be explained by the company but impacted numerous products including the App Store, iCloud, Apple TV, photos and iMovies as well as a host of others.

The issues would have appeared to have begun at around 9pm (GMT) June 2, and all services were resumed by 4:55am (GMT). Apple spokespersons have been directing journalists to the company’s support page where it posted insightful comments such as “Users experienced a problem with the service above” and “Users may have experienced slower than usual performance when using iCloud Drive, Backup, iCloud Notes, iWork for iCloud and Photos. Users may have experienced slowness with multiple services at”.

The services aspect of the Apple business has been reporting healthy numbers in recent months, seemingly offsetting the drop in iPhone sales. During its Q2 earnings call the company ended its long run of constant year-over-year revenue growth, as it reported a decline for the first time in 13 years, according to iPhone shipments were down 16% and Mac sales also went down from $5.61 billion to $5.1 billion, however its services business increased by 20% to almost $6 billion.

Apple Twitter


Dropbox steps ups European commitment with local signing

DropboxDropbox has announced the appointment of Philip Lacor, who will act as the new VP for EMEA Sales, based out of the Dublin office.

The company has been making notable efforts in recent months to increase its presence in the European market, capitalizing on free-user growth in the region. Aside from Lacor’s appointment, Dropbox has opened offices in Hamburg, Dublin, London, Paris and Amsterdam, as well offering localized payment models in 12 European countries to increase the number of upgrades to the paid-for services.

With the continuing dispute between the EU and US focusing on transatlantic data transmission not looking like it would end in the near future, a number of companies have been identifying means to remove concerns of the European customers. Dropbox has opened several offices around Europe, hired local employees and outlined plans for a European data centre, where as Box has developed its Zones offering through a partnership with IBM. For the Zones offering, customers can opt to have their data stored regionally on the IBM Cloud.

“Dropbox now has over half a billion accounts across the globe and nearly 40% are in Europe, Middle East and Africa,” said Lacor. “I am incredibly excited to support the acceleration of our growth in EMEA, particularly on the Enterprise side. With our Dropbox Business and Dropbox Enterprise products, our business customers can become even more competitive by deploying Dropbox to simplify the way people work together.”

Lacor joins Dropbox from Vodafone in Germany, where he served as the Managing Director for the enterprise division. Prior to Vodafone, Lacor worked for worked at Dell for over 10 years in several European and EMEA-wide roles across sales, marketing and finance.

IBM adds EZSource to bolster transformation capabilities

IBM2IBM has announced its intention to acquire EZSource as it continues efforts to build its offerings in the digital world. The additional of EZSource is touted as a means to bolster IBM’s capabilities to aide enterprise organizations in their digital transformation journey.

With a substantial proposition of companies targeting a hybrid cloud proposition within the next 12 months, developers are looking for new ways to reconcile the applications that reside on enterprise systems of record to digital forms of engagement such as mobile and social. As the majority of production IT workloads run on the mainframe, connecting these applications with mobile and cloud applications is important to increase customer engagement. This can be a time consuming task however.

EZSource provides a visual dashboard of an applications lines of code to show developers which have changed to ease the process of modernizing applications, exposing APIs and better leveraging development resources. EZSource’s application discovery technology will be coupled with IBM’s current DevOps offerings to enable developers to evolve legacy assets within the overall digital transformation strategy quicker, the company claims.

“The mainframe is the backbone of today’s businesses. As clients drive their digital transformation, they are seeking the innovation and business value from new applications while leveraging their existing assets and processes,” said Ross Mauri, GM of IBM z Systems. “By adding EZSource’s technology to our enterprise DevOps and API management offerings, we are making it easier and faster for developers to modernize key applications that previously were manually intensive and many times required specialized skills.”

Financials of the agreement have not been released, though this is the 14th acquisition of an Israeli business made by IBM since 1998. The last acquisition, Trusteer in 2013, was for more than $600 million.

Salesforce ventures into e-Commerce with $2.8bn acquisition

Salesforce 1Salesforce has taken another step towards the e-Commerce market after announcing it has signed a definitive agreement to acquire Demandware for $2.8 billion.

Demandware provides a cloud-based e-commerce platform and related services for retailers and brands worldwide, going public during 2012 after raising $88 million in its initial public offering of $16 a share. Salesforce has announced it will commence a tender offer for all outstanding shares of Demandware for $75 per share, with the deal set to complete by July 31, 2016, the end of Salesforce’s second quarter.

As with the Marketing Cloud proposition, Salesforce is seemingly happy to pay healthily above share value to break into new markets when it cannot develop the capabilities organically. The company acquired ExactTarget for $2.5 billion in 2013, this was previously Salesforce’s largest acquisition, which built the foundation of the Marketing Cloud proposition.

“Demandware is an amazing company—the global cloud leader in the multi-billion dollar digital commerce market,” said Marc Benioff, CEO at Salesforce. “With Demandware, Salesforce will be well positioned to deliver the future of commerce as part of our Customer Success Platform and create yet another billion dollar cloud.”

The idea of ‘omnichannel’ business would generally not be considered new to the industry, though this is one of the first major steps Salesforce has made in diversifying its core business offering. The company is widely recognised as a leader in the CRM space, though the Demandware acquisition offers a number of upselling opportunities for its current customer base (those who are using Marketing Cloud and its CRM offering), who may well favour having their CRM and e-Commerce platform from the same vendor.

Demandware currently works with a number of brands around the world including Design Within Reach, Lands’ End, L’Oreal and Marks & Spencer, to deliver customized experiences for customers across web, mobile, social and in the store. The acquisition is expected to increase Salesforce’s revenues by approximately $100 million to $120 million through the remainder of the financial year.

Cloud and software jobs surge over last 12 months

New productRackspace has released the findings from its annual analysis of the IT job market which highlighted demand for positions in and around cloud computing are rising at a healthy rate.

Vacancies for AWS engineer roles increased by 125% over the last 12 months, where are those advertised for Microsoft Azure competencies also increased by 75% in the same period. The rise in job focused on tailoring cloud solutions for individual companies, and also migrating from legacy technologies, supports previous research and claims that cloud computing is penetrating the mainstream marketplace.

“Our industry moves so fast that we can’t rely entirely on traditional forms of education from schools and universities to fill skills gaps,” said Darren Norfolk, Managing Director for Rackspace in the UK. “Therefore, technology companies have a responsibility to address these shortages by growing and fostering talent through on the job training and experience.

“I expect the rise in demand for cloud related jobs to continue as a growing number of businesses adopt a multi cloud strategy, using platforms such as Microsoft Azure, Openstack and AWS. The highly competitive recruitment market for skills in these areas means that managing the platforms in-house could become more costly than it has been in the past.”

Software development is another area which has demonstrated healthy growth as the number of vacancies for individuals who have Docker expertise has risen by 341%, though this is down from the 991% increase which was reported in the 2015 findings. The accelerated rate in which new technologies are penetrating the market and being implemented by companies throughout the world is seemingly too fast for in-house resource to be trained on these competencies, leaving hiring new employees the only option for some. Docker expertise is now the second most sought after job function in the IT world, according to the research.

DevOps as a practise would also appear to be have accepted in the business world, as the number of roles grew 53% over the last twelve months, following a 57% increase from the findings last year. The rise in roles would appear to be an indicator DevOps has not been integrated within the IT ecosystem, though it may still be considered too early to be mainstream.