Apttus Enjoys A $108M Round As Business Grows In Leaps And Bounds

Salesman discusses terms with customer. Just a couple of years ago Apttus, a quote-to-cash SaaS company built on top of Salesforce.com, had a couple of hundred employees. Today it has 900 and projects more than a 1000 by the end of the year. And it’s not hiring all of those bodies for nothing. The company’s year-over-year growth is in the 60 percent range. While not willing to provide an exact figure, it claims to have… Read More

You can now edit files from Egnyte in Office 365 and Salesforce

The Egnyte booth at VMware's 2015 VMworld conference in San Francisco on Aug. 31.

Egnyte, a startup with file syncing and sharing software that can run in the cloud (like Dropbox) and in companies’ on-premises data centers (like Microsoft SharePoint), has developed new integrations with web-based Microsoft Office 365 and Salesforce Sales Cloud. The integrations allow people to edit and save files right from within Office 365 and Salesforce.

With the Office integration, you can now open and edit files inside Office desktop apps like Word, as if it’s just another file locally stored on a PC. The integration also works with Microsoft’s Office mobile apps and on the Internet.

An Egnyte employee was showing off the new integrations today at the Egnyte booth on the exhibition floor at VMware’s 2015 VMworld conference in San Francisco. The company has not officially announced the news.

Box, which only offers cloud-based file syncing and sharing, made an announcement about a similar integration with Office Online earlier this year.

These integrations matter for Egnyte because people actually write documents in Word, prepare presentations in PowerPoint, and assemble spreadsheets in Excel. And salespeople live in Salesforce. (Okay, and email too). It’s just a little easier for everyday users, and Egnyte is now able to say it has a native Office integration right up there with Box — now a publicly traded company — when it comes to support for the Microsoft workflow. Egnyte already has a Google Drive integration.

Backed by Google Ventures and others, Egnyte last announced funding in December 2013. Customers include Bloom Energy, Home Depot, and Ikea.

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Everything announced at VMworld 2015 so far

VMware prepares for the first keynote at the 2015 VMworld conference in San Francisco on Aug. 31.

Enterprise software vendor VMware kicked off its big annual VMworld conference in San Francisco today with several news announcements, from new open-source tools to a new “intelligent automation engine” for making the best use of companies’ data center equipment. Other companies interested in riding the wave of attention this week have made announcements, too.

A lot of people are paying attention. More than 23,000 people are here at the Moscone Center for the event, and more than 50,000 people were live streaming today’s keynote. This is, after all, one of the biggest events all year in the world of enterprise technology.

For your convenience, here’s a roundup of all the news coming out of the conference. We’ll be updating this post throughout the course of the conference, so be sure to check back here later.


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VMware public cloud gets vCloud Air SQL, Site Recovery Manager Air, object storage

On the exhibition floor at VMware's VMworld conference in San Francisco on Aug. 25, 2014.

Above: On the exhibition floor at VMware’s VMworld conference in San Francisco on Aug. 25, 2014.

Image Credit: Jordan Novet/VentureBeat

VMware today announced several enhancements to its vCloud Air public cloud at the company’s annual VMworld conference in San Francisco.

Companies can test and run plans for disaster recovery in vCloud Air’s new cloud-based Site Recovery Manager Air. And VMware is starting to offer disaster recovery on vCloud Air based on usage, instead of just as part of a monthly or yearly subscription. VMware is also introducing vCloud Air Object Storage powered by Google Cloud Platform, the first new product to come out of VMware’s reseller relationship with Google, announced earlier this year.

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Nvidia launches Grid 2.0 virtual desktop technology with support for 128 users per server

Nvidia headquarters in Santa Clara, Calif.

Above: Nvidia headquarters in Santa Clara, Calif.

Image Credit: Nvidia

Chipmaker Nvidia today announced the launch of Grid 2.0, the latest version of its desktop virtualization technology that companies can use to deploy graphics-heavy applications remotely to employees who are offsite.

Companies can buy servers packing Nvidia Grid boards and then use virtualization software — such as VMware vSphere 6 and Horizon 6 and Citrix’s XenApp, XenDesktop, and XenServer — to share the power of GPUs (graphic processing units) with Grid 2.0.

The new release can handle as many as 128 users per server, twice as many as before, according to a statement. And Grid now supports the Linux operating system, not just Windows. Plus the technology can now run on blade servers, not just rack servers.

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VMware unveils Integrated OpenStack 2.0 based on Kilo

OpenStack's fifth birthday party at OSCON in Portland.

Above: OpenStack’s fifth birthday party at OSCON in Portland.

Image Credit: Shari Mahrdt/Flickr

VMware today announced the launch of VMware Integrated OpenStack 2.0, the company’s second release of its distribution of the OpenStack open-source cloud software. The new release, based on OpenStack Kilo, which became available in April, will become generally available to customers by Sept. 30.

VMware first announced that it would assemble an OpenStack distribution at the company’s VMworld conference in San Francisco last year. It came out in February, based on the open-source OpenStack Icehouse software. “Customers will now be able to upgrade from V1.0 (Icehouse) to V2.0 (Kilo), and even roll back if anything goes wrong, in a more operationally efficient manner,” VMware product line manager Arvind Soni wrote in a blog post on the news.

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VMware launches vSphere Integrated Containers and the Photon Platform

At VMware's 2015 VMworld conference in San Francisco.

Above: At VMware’s 2015 VMworld conference in San Francisco.

Image Credit: Jordan Novet/VentureBeat

VMware today announced technology previews for vSphere Integrated Containers and Photon Platform — two new products that companies can use to build and run applications inside of containers.

Containers are an increasingly popular technology that represent an alternative to the more widely used virtual machines, which VMware has turned into a standard in the world of enterprise software.

Containers are an increasingly popular technology that represent an alternative to the more widely used virtual machines, which VMware has turned into a standard in the world of enterprise software. The fascinating thing here is how VMware sees the Photon Platform as underlying a whole bunch of existing technologies from other companies that have been gaining popularity in the past several months. That includes Docker’s Swarm, Google-led Kubernetes, Mesosphere-led Apache Mesos, Cloud Foundry — “all on Photon,” said Kit Colbert, VMware’s vice president and chief technology officer for cloud native applications, in a press conference before today’s general session.

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ClusterHQ partners with VMware to build a vSphere storage driver for Flocker

ClusterHQ T-shirts.

Above: ClusterHQ T-shirts.

Image Credit: ClusterHQ

Startup ClusterHQ today announced that it has teamed up with VMware to develop a storage driver that allows ClusterHQ’s Flocker open-source software to integrate with VMware’s vSphere server virtualization software.

The result is that companies can now provision storage for specific containers, not just virtual machines, with VMware storage software like Virtual SAN and vSphere Virtual Volumes.

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VMware announces EVO SDDC software suite with SDDC Manager, Hardware Management Services

At VMware's 2015 VMworld conference in San Francisco on Aug. 31.

Above: At VMware’s 2015 VMworld conference in San Francisco on Aug. 31.

Image Credit: Jordan Novet/VentureBeat

VMware today debuted EVO SDDC, a new suite of software that includes several of the company’s existing tools for managing companies’ data center resources as well as a new “automation engine” and new open-source hardware management software.

The existing tools can handle server, storage, and networking virtualization. They include vSphere, Virtual SAN, NSX, and vRealize Operations, according to a statement VMware issued today at its big VMworld conference in San Francisco.

The big picture here is that VMware is finally going to provide a ready-to-go piece of software to let companies live the vision VMware has been talking about for a year or more: the grand “software-defined data center” that SDDC stands for.

Server virtualization is what VMware is built on. Now VMware is essentially making the other pieces a standard, even if they’re still not very widely adopted compared to server virtualization.

Read more


Note: This article will be updated with more VMworld news as it comes in.

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Institutions don’t have needs — people do

Hospital emergency entrance

BetterCareEastBay LogoThis sponsored post is produced by Better Health East Bay.


When it comes to serious health needs in our community, we don’t have to look too far. Here in Alameda County, one in three residents are vulnerable to serious health problems. We are a highly diverse community of 2.5 million people: almost a third are born outside the U.S. and 43 percent do not speak English at home. But we share a common issue: many of us have complex medical needs.

And we’ve determined that our health care delivery crisis centers on one very important point. It’s what we call “fragmentation vs. coordination.”

Think about how hard it is for an isolated senior struggling to manage their diabetes when they are not able to shop at a grocery store. Or for a working parent to monitor his child’s chronic asthma if the child is playing after-school sports.

While they are striving to manage their health or the health of a loved one, they are justifiably frustrated when one hospital tells them to do A, B, and C and another hospital three days later tells them to do X, Y, and Z. This type of episodic care for our most vulnerable neighbors is an example of where good intentions meet costly healthcare silos  — and how a patient can experience a merrygoround of ER visits and discharges.

In business and in philanthropy, we talk a lot about “making an impact” — how to define it and how to measure it. We balance the tension of having to focus on return-on-investment against the need to be open to new ideas that solve problems in creative ways. As a health care network on the front lines of managing the health of our community, we have to be good at both.

Today, Sutter Health’s Alta Bates Summit Medical Center, with campuses in Oakland and Berkeley, is one of only six hospitals in the country working with Jeffrey Brenner, M.D., and the Camden Coalition’s Hotspotting Advisory Group. Learning from Dr. Brenner’s groundbreaking work, we are implementing a geographic information system (GIS) to identify “hot spots” where large concentrations of people are using the emergency room (ER) for non-urgent care. This mapping technology will help identify extreme patterns of how patients access and use health care resources in our community. This includes a shocking view into the escalating use — and cost — of the ER for primary care needs.

The patient stories and GIS data we have gathered so far have yielded much more than maps, however. With some of the hottest hot spots in the Bay Area and the biggest pockets of urban poverty in Northern California, it is not surprising that we also have some of the highest “superutilizers” of hospital ERs right here in the Bay Area.

This includes at least one patient who has visited East Bay emergency rooms nearly 900 times in three years.

So, what do we do?

Sutter Health’s partnership with the Camden Coalition brought Dr. Brenner and his team to Oakland to engage East Bay care givers in a discussion about how to deliver better care at a lower cost, especially for those dependent upon a fragile and fragmented safety net. Together, we’ve taken a collective approach to the problem by gathering data, engaging stakeholders, enticing innovators, and collaborating with funders.

Using common sense digital tools and technology combined with data-driven insights, our vision is to make the patient’s individualized care plan visible to medical and social service providers, and to help community clinics more efficiently and effectively track their progress and follow-up care, regardless of where the patient enters the system.

We know the right technology exists when innovative companies like Lyft can give customers simple, practical tools to track a driver, or FedEx customers can see where their package is along the route. It is up to us to apply the same smart approach to how our most complex patients navigate the health system and how we care for them along the way.

Collaborating with organizations from around Alameda County, we are already hard at work, designing and building the technology infrastructure that will become a virtual safety net for the East Bay. With exceptional partners like the California HealthCare Foundation providing investment and support, we are making progress in our plans to make this well-connected patient-centric system a reality for our community.

And, while we are focused on creating a smarter, more efficient infrastructure, at the heart of it all is healthier people and a healthier community. Now that is a future worth investing in.

Jim Hickman is CEO of Better Health East Bay.


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VMware announces EVO SDDC software suite with SDDC Manager, Hardware Management Services

At VMware's 2015 VMworld conference in San Francisco on Aug. 31.

VMware today debuted EVO SDDC, a new suite of software that includes several of the company’s existing tools for managing companies’ data center resources as well as a new “automation engine” and new open-source hardware management software.

The existing tools can handle server, storage, and networking virtualization. They include vSphere, Virtual SAN, NSX, vRealize Operations, according to a statement VMware issued today at its big VMworld conference in San Francisco.

One new part is the EVO SDDC Manager. Here’s how it’s described in the statement:


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… a new intelligent automation engine that will simplify and significantly reduce the time required for power-up, provisioning and monitoring of virtual and physical resources, including software, servers, top-of-rack and spine switches. The EVO SDDC Manager will pool resources across multiple racks as a single “virtual rack” and can dynamically carve out workload domain capacity based on availability and performance requirements.

Then there’s the new “Hardware Management Services,” which will “abstract the characteristics of heterogeneous switching, server and power distribution unit (PDU) hardware,” according to the statement.

The big picture here is that VMware is finally going to provide a ready-to-go piece of software to let companies live the vision VMware has been talking about for a year or more: the grand “software-defined data center” that SDDC stands for. Note, though, that EVO SDDC is the product previously “code named” EVO: Rack, which was announced at last year’s VMworld in San Francisco.

Server virtualization is what VMware is built on. Now VMware is essentially making the other pieces basically a standard, even if they’re still not very widely adopted relative to server virtualization.

It’s possible that the new EVVO SDDC will integrate with VMware’s OpenStack distribution, the company said.

You can see more on EVVO SDDC in a new product page.

Find all of our coverage of VMworld 2015 here.

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Marketers are about to make new friends — or not — with data scientists

data science

A long time researching and writing about the wild importance of data analytics on the future of the marketing profession has led me to an inescapable conclusion:

Data scientists will soon take a lot of jobs away from marketers.

The reasons are simple:

  1. There’s already more data produced and mined every day than anyone can make sense of. Business gets this and is moving to incorporate data analytics into every facet of the organization.
  1. Virtually every marketing technology of note (and there are many) is either a data analytics solution or a solution almost wholly reliant on reams of data.
  1. Marketers simply don’t have the required skills to leverage these techs, or the underlying data. Unfortunately, that seems to be true at every level of the marketing organization.

Net-net, the ecosystem is changing, and the winds do not favor marketers with no data science game.

analytics importance

Here are three areas in which I believe traditional marketers will soon be displaced by a new breed of data scientists cum marketers.

In enterprises


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When mass need for an undersupplied skill set, in this case data science, comes to affect the market, enterprises have three options: build internal capacity, partner with people who do have the capacity, or outsource it.

If you want to build a data science-driven marketing competency in-house, you need to train up your current marketers or hire new ones. It’s tough to teach your average marketer differential partial equations, so I’d give the job to a data scientist and teach them the 4Ps and Facebook.

When an enterprise decides to partner around data marketing, it’ll be because the other guy has specific competencies they don’t have and/or don’t want to develop (e.g., the enterprise sees the importance of data marketing, but developing the in-house competency isn’t core to their business).

But even if they do go the partnership route, eventually that enterprise will need an in-house pivot who’s fluent in data to interface with their partner. That’s a new skill set required in a job that currently marketers often hold and will likely lose as a result.

One way or another, if they’re not building their own capacity, enterprises are looking for high-performing, headache-free solutions, not half-answers from marketers that don’t get data. 

In agencies

Digital marketing agencies are well-positioned to fit enterprises’ looming outsource needs for data-driven marketing, if they can build the omnichannel content marketing machines powered by robust data analytics that business will require.

To this end, I think you’ll see more data scientists, perhaps a little bored with their current roles (often in finance, health, or academia), make the move to the agency world as employees, partners, and founders. Done well, this combination of technical and creative skills has the potential to morph traditional agencies into marketing-scientists-as-a-service.

One of the things I think top agencies will get very good at is using the same marketing technology solutions that business is currently underutilizing to deliver high-value findings that will help business understand, measure, and optimize the customer journey.

In martechs

Irony doth reside in the martech universe.

Look carefully and you’ll note a good number of its occupants huddled together in data analytics clusters. Look again and you’ll see that pretty much every other martech entrant relies on some type of data analytics to do its thing. Nowhere else would you expect to find more qualified data scientists cum marketers, or data analytics solutions better attuned to marketers, right?

Wrong.

Read some of the stuff that VB and others have published lately on how martech users feel about the marketing analytics solutions that vendors are putting out (spoiler alert: it ain’t pretty).

The thing is, my good martechs: How can I believe that your solution will help me understand and service my user when your product doesn’t even seem to understand or service me? It’s a wide gap that your customers are struggling mightily with. C-suiters and investors will follow.

It won’t be easy for martechs to recruit high-end data scientists either — demand for data scientists’ services is and will be great, and salaries will be high. Expect the top minds in the marketing data science niche to go to the big marketing clouds, global consultancies, and a handful of well-funded startups.

Martechs — and pretty much every other industry outside of finance and health — looking to draw in data marketing talent will be left beholden to the skills of recruiters and the whim of new data science grads.

In summary

Read the studies and it’s difficult to refute that data science is emerging as a core competency for marketers. Think about that and it becomes evident that there are going to be some changes as a result.

It’s clear that there’s a gap between what marketers want to do, the tools they have to work with, and the training they need to be successful.

For these reasons I believe that, not long from now, serious data science chops will be a required skill set for most marketing roles, and that’s going to leave a lot of current marketers out of work.


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The challenges with legacy vendors and a case for believing in innovation

idea innovation gears

Sailthru.LogoThe Martech Challenge: The digital revolution has transformed how marketers reach and engage customers, as well as the tools needed to be effective.  In this series brought to you by Sailthru, we look at how to meet martech challenges head on — exploring cross-channel marketing, innovation, customer experience, email marketing and other topics essential to today’s marketers.


Marketing today follows consumers across the digital landscape — or should — offering them the experience that they want: connected, consistent, and completely tailored to who they are and what they are interested in. This is the most significant, yet challenging, opportunity seen in marketing since the word “digital” came into the vernacular and it’s why 84 percent of senior marketers worldwide plan to increase their spending in multichannel marketing.

Marketing clouds provide the backbone tech bundles that facilitate that conversation between consumers and brands. No question, legacy vendors like Salesforce, Oracle, Adobe, HP and IBM have the longest time-in industry, and often the most internal resources, to meet today’s complex marketing challenges.

However, that long-held experience does not guarantee success when it comes to meeting the needs of the modern customer experience. Legacy vendors face their own set of challenges when responding to the needs of today’s customer-centric marketer, leaving brands to buy on a vision that may never become a reality.

Juggling and integrating multiple acquisitions

VB Insight’s report on “Marketing Clouds: How the best companies are winning via marketing technology” examined some of the major challenges legacy vendors contend with as well as the emerging players who are now competing and winning market share.

Legacy vendors often strive to innovate by acquiring smaller companies with ideas and technologies with the potential to move the larger company forward as a whole. Take Salesforce, who acquired ExactTarget, which had previously acquired Pardot to power automation and iGoDigital for personalization and analytics. These series of acquisitions allow now giant marketing clouds to check the boxes across all major marketing functionalities on the surface.

However, oftentimes a multitude of acquisitions bogs down a legacy vendor and the acquisitions end up being great for marketing fodder alone, but not so successful in building a holistic product offering. For example, according to the VB report, “IBM is currently handling more than 40 products with ‘different brands, overlapping responsibilities, multiple heritages from numerous acquisitions, and no clear progression, sequencing, hierarchy, or organization.’” This can be confusing to customers looking for a simple, turnkey marketing solution.

The alternative — companies that offer solutions rooted in a shared history and a single database — offers two essential benefits for companies: efficiency and effectiveness.

“The efficiency of managing multiple channels from a single platform makes a big difference in your ability to get answers and execute marketing the way that consumers demand for it to be done today,” said Stephen Dove, senior vice president of product for Sailthru. “On top of that, the effectiveness of having all those channels driven off a single database is huge. It’s not enough to be able to trigger an email based on a purchase made on a mobile app. Consumers expect that brands know who they are and what they’re after regardless of where they are coming from and that’s something you simply cannot achieve with scale and cost efficiency using a legacy marketing cloud.”

Smaller single-platform, multi-use, purpose-built platforms, such as Sailthru are often better internally integrated than most of the massive legacy vendors. These newer, more agile vendors approach meeting the needs of managing a modern, connected customer experience by building native solutions that provide greater ROI potential. Marketers need to decide if they want to purchase based on legacy features and the potential of their integrations or if they prefer solutions that offer a different perspective on managing data, insights development and engagement that they can grow with over time.

Take cross-channel personalization as an example. Where legacy clouds were quick to acquire onsite, email and mobile automation tools in addition to personalization technologies, the single-platform solutions have developed native capabilities. Business Insider uses Sailthru to connect email and onsite channels. Recommendations served to any individual reader are based on that reader’s combined email and onsite behaviors and interests. When a reader clicks through specific content in email, that story is not served as a recommendation on the website. And vice-versa all in real-time. This connectivity of both data and experience has increased Business Insider’s email clickthrough rate by 60 percent and onsite recirculation traffic by 52 percent.


exclamation-001Learn more about martech decision-making and overcoming legacy inertia at a Sailthru live event on September 15 in San Francisco featuring Bill Gurley of Benchmarch. Gurley has built a career on growth, innovation, and disruption and will be sharing his insider’s perspective on e-commerce technologies and their potential to impact the bottom line. Register here for free


Maturity Curve

Getting to automated, personalized, one-to-one cross-channel marketing follows a progression. Most brands and businesses mature gradually to move beyond batch-and-blast communications and demographic-based segmentation to a fully connected, integrated, and predictive marketing strategy.

However, legacy vendors are slow to mirror this maturity curve and often are unable to truly meet the needs of marketers who are seeking solutions that allow them to get ahead of their customers and increase loyalty and revenue. The new set of technology providers who are setting trends are doing so because of their ability to enable marketers to leapfrog on maturity curves relating to customer data, customer insights, and customer engagement — while legacy vendors are held back by the practices described above.

HP, for example, has not yet delivered on social media marketing or built an app marketplace, both of which are nearly inseparable from the current digital marketing experience. Oracle has yet to offer a full suite of mobile services, such as an app analytics or a mobile engagement solution, which is also integral to modern marketing. Salesforce does not have the e-commerce integrations often expected of marketing solutions today. And, according to the VB Insight report, “IBM is sorely in need of a martech dictator to come in, cut its product list, focus on building more features into fewer, broader solutions, and massively integrate its offerings.”

Yet many marketers do embrace new technology providers and act as a trendsetter for their industries. Early adopters not only enjoy earlier lift to their bottom lines, but also benefit from a boost in reputation by being a step ahead of their competition.

Commitment to investment

As analysts and research publishers like VB continue to evaluate the martech space, more emphasis will be put on use cases and success stories. It’s going to take a lot more than completing a list of features to fulfill the vision of a truly integrated martech platform.

Rather, in order to hold position as the de facto leaders in digital and multichannel marketing, or rise to it, any vendor in the space will have to demonstrate use cases across a variety of customers. True cross-channel marketing is still in its infancy, and given the difficulty and expense found in managing these experiences in legacy environments, there likely will be continued jockeying for position and leadership.

Taking these challenges into consideration, legacy vendors are increasingly not the immediate go-to marketing solution they are often thought to be. Sometimes it takes a smaller, innovative, and more agile vendor that is more focused on integrating the latest features to provide the ideal, holistic marketing platform to get today’s job done. Given the above, it’s unwise to count these companies out. Both have advantages and disadvantages, but what’s important is that any vendor meet the requirements of the client’s customers whose needs have been entirely transformed through the explosion of devices and channels.


Sponsored posts are content that has been produced by a company that is either paying for the post or has a business relationship with VentureBeat, and they’re always clearly marked. The content of news stories produced by our editorial team is never influenced by advertisers or sponsors in any way. For more information, contact [email protected].










VMware public cloud gets vCloud Air SQL, Site Recovery Manager Air, object storage

On the exhibition floor at VMware's VMworld conference in San Francisco on Aug. 25, 2014.

VMware today announced several enhancements to its vCloud Air public cloud at the company’s annual VMworld conference in San Francisco.

Companies can test and run plans for disaster recovery in vCloud Air’s new cloud-based Site Recovery Manager Air. And VMware is starting to offer disaster recovery on vCloud Air based on usage, instead of just a monthly or yearly subscription.

“Customers pay a flat fee for each VM [virtual machine] protected and the amount of storage consumed by the VMs,” VMware said in a statement on the news. “When a DR [disaster recovery] test is run or a DR event occurs, customers only pay for the compute consumed when VMs are running.”


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VMware is also introducing vCloud Air Object Storage powered by Google Cloud Platform, the first new product to come out of VMware’s reseller relationship with Google announced earlier this year. It should become generally available by Sept. 30. A related product based on parent company EMC’s ViPR software, vCloud Air Object Storage powered by EMC, should become available in an early access program by the same date.

These updates and others from VMware this week show how the company is looking to become a formidable contender in the cloud infrastructure market. VMware has become a major provider of on-premises software for virtualization, which enables several virtual machines to run on top of each physical server. But companies are depending on public clouds to a greater and greater extent. Public cloud market leader Amazon Web Services, a subsidiary of Amazon.com, brought in almost $6 billion in revenue in the year that ended on June 30.

VMware, which as an entire company generated just over $6 billion in revenue in 2014, counts many large companies in its user base, and today’s additions to the product lineup reflect that to some extent. Disaster recovery, for instance, is a priority, with two announcements in that area.

Still, VMware is taking steps to have the basic components that other cloud providers have.

The release of the new vCloud Air SQL database as a service, which will become available in an early access program in the fourth quarter of this year, and the new object storage services — which were first announced at VMworld in San Francisco last year — give VMware features that many of the top cloud providers have.

VMware is also announcing today Hybrid Cloud Manager, a new tool to plug in to the vSphere virtualization software that should help on-premises do more with application deployments that extend in to vCloud Air.

“This solution provides workload migration, data center extension and enhanced hybrid management within the vSphere Web Client, including support for VM migration,” VMware said in a statement.

Find all of our coverage of VMworld 2015 here.

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How marketers are tailoring their content strategy for a multi-channel, multi-device world

tablet coffee shop

This sponsored post is produced in association with Citrix GoToWebinar.

We’re living in a technologically empowered age where smartphones, tablets, laptops, wearables, and e-readers reign supreme and customers are spoilt for choice not just for the content, but for the platform they wish to view it on.

Fortunately, content is still king for consumers. And the top marketers in the industry are the ones that can tap into the power of connected data and understand what sparks and sustains user interaction across different platforms.

The key to building a solid multi-platform content strategy is to have a keen understanding of the limitations of new technology and how you can create tailored content for each platform. And that demands a highly dynamic content strategy that offers a unique experience to users across each channel.

Your customer is a moving target, and you need to be fully tuned into their content consumption habits and device preferences to actively adapt your content strategy for attracting the right audience.

Making mobile a priority is non-negotiable

At this point, denying the impact of mobile marketing is like trying to contest the existence of gravity. According to a 2014 comScore report, 31 percent of content published by top media entities is viewed solely on smartphones and more than half of U.S. users spend the majority of their time consuming digital media with mobile apps. Google, Amazon, Apple, Yahoo, and Facebook collectively topped the list for highest combined platform usage.

A recent study conducted by Millward Brown revealed that nearly 60 percent of buyers use mobile devices to research their purchases.

It is becoming increasingly evident that the intrinsic value of your content in the eyes of mobile-savvy users instantly shoots up if your brand maintains a consistent multi-platform presence. However, you need to keep in mind that content relevance means a lot more than multi-channel presence.

Here are some of the most rewarding practices used by content marketers to captivate mobile users:

1. Make it locally relevant

Whether you’re setting up a mobile-optimized website or a mobile app, location plays a monumental role in determining your audience’s content consumption habits.

According to a mobile media consumption study done by Pew Research Center, 74 percent of adult smartphone owners ages 18 and older say they use their phone to get directions or other information based on their current location. Location-enabled services in apps allow marketers to target consumers at the right time – and right place – giving marketers a golden opportunity to serve location-specific content to consumers and make their brand interactions worthwhile.

For example, Blis Media helped Spotify produce excellent results by serving ads in airport coffee shops based on the assumption that people would be inclined to purchase last-minute travel entertainment.

Foursquare, Waze, Tinder, and Google Now have also done a splendid job delivering high quality location-specific content through the efficient use of big data. You can easily entice people walking by your store to walk in simply by offering a sweet check-in deal on Facebook or Foursquare.

2. Optimize for push messaging

Thanks to this newfound context-driven approach, content marketing through messaging for apps has become a lot more productive.

The highest click rates come from short messages (10 or fewer words) packed with words like “offer,” “super,” “ends” and “deal”. A 2014 Localytics report on push messaging revealed that there’s a 66 percent higher click rate on push messages that are sent on weekdays, and the ideal time to send them to users is between 12 p.m to 5 p.m.

Make your content relevant and timely by sending offers and updates on products users have viewed before. For instance, a user may have abandoned their online shopping cart with a few Burberry clothing items for some unknown reason in the past. By following up with a notification like “Your favorite item: Burberry Check Coat – now 20% off”, you have a high chance of rekindling the transaction.

3. Prioritize visual content

Social Bakers looked at the top 10 percent of posts made by more than 30,000 Facebook brand pages and found that posts with photos saw the most engagement—accounting for a whopping 87 percent of total interactions.

Mobile consumers strongly prefer rich visual content over text-heavy content due to the limitation of screen space and straightforward nature of the brand communication. Therefore, opting for catchy infographics and visually striking banners to promote your brand will prove to be a lot more engaging.

4. Champion responsive design

If you’re aiming to deliver a seamless content interaction experience to your customers across different platforms, then investing in responsive design should be on the top of your priority list – particularly if you haven’t yet invested in a mobile app. It allows automatic optimization of content across devices for effortless navigation and eliminates the need to create a mobile version of your website.

Big players in the media industry like USA Today and Disney have implemented responsive design across a number of their properties to streamline the cross-platform content experience for audiences.

Here are some of the key elements involved in implementing responsive design for marketing content across mobile devices:

  • Readability –to make sure that your message is easily visible, use at least 14 point fonts.
  • Navigability  to accommodate finger tapping for navigation more efficiently, avoid cluttering the page with unnecessary elements and create big buttons.
  • Adaptability — to target users more effectively, leverage the power of big data to change specific elements of your website, ad, or email body based on the past interactions of the user. Amazon’s brilliant recommendation engine is one of the best examples of dynamic content strategy.
  • Granularity — to deliver your content effectively across all platforms, plan it in such a way that you can break down your content into shareable tweets, Facebook posts, quotes, etc. without losing the authenticity of your brand message.
  • Action Potential — to focus your reader’s attention on the key points, use a single column to structure your content and place your call-to-action at the top of the screen.

It’s not easy to ignore that the always-on nature of social media can be a really intimidating factor in devising your content marketing strategy, not to mention the need to continually feed other content across your owned properties. However, if your content is crisp and you know your consumer profile and the best way to reach them, then delivering a seamless multi-platform content experience is not a dream so far-fetched.


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The anatomy of an Agile marketing team

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This sponsored post is produced by Workfront. 

If you’ve been halfway tapped into the marketing zeitgeist lately, you’ve seen this phrase: Agile marketing.

Everybody’s talking about it as the “next thing in marketing.” It even has its own manifesto. Despite all this hooplah, however, you shouldn’t feel too bad if you can’t quite put your finger on what Agile marketing is.

Take a look at the Agile marketing groups on sites like LinkedIn, and it becomes clear that more than a few people are a tad confused about it. Is it simply restructuring your marketing and in-house creative teams and their processes to be more nimble? Sort of. Does it just mean streamlining your process and jettisoning any baggage that slows your team down? Kind of.

To give you a nice, clean 20,000-foot explanation of it, Agile is a work management methodology that has been dominating IT work management for the last several years. It has been known to increase teams’ flexibility and ability to react to demand while improving productivity. Now that it’s proven itself effective, the marketing folks have taken notice.

Agile-driven creative teams have reported that, freed from the endless development cycles that can happen in traditional marketing work management, their creativity has experienced a major boost. Creative teams have seen their productivity explode by 400 percent and with less fuss. Marketing teams can test and iterate on campaigns faster.

If that last paragraph caught your attention, read on to see the four essential steps every creative team will need to follow to successfully manage their workflow using an Agile methodology:

1. Have a process to accommodate all kinds of requests

Agile is designed to handle all kinds of work, but that means your request management process should, too. Teams need to have a central place where requests can be submitted, including project-based assignments, formal one-off requests, and informal one-off requests.

Also, a creative brief is a must to allow your team to assign a required number of hours to it as a story.

If your team shares work with teams that don’t practice Agile marketing, a work solution that can handle mixed methodologies is highly recommended. Otherwise, you could find yourself duplicating requests and communication between your tools and their tools, which can suck up a lot of your team’s time.


exclamation-001To learn more about how Agile marketing works, join Chief Martec’s Scott Brinker and other experts for a webinar on how marketing teams can adopt this best practice without losing the creative and artistic elements that make them shine.

Register today for free! Tuesday, September 1 at 10 a.m. Pacific, 1 p.m. Eastern. 


2. Maintain your backlog

As requests enter your domain, they officially become stories within your backlog, a running collection of all your outstanding stories. Under the advisement of your team, you will assign a number of hours to each story, so that you can easily choose the most important and doable stories when it comes time to organize your sprint. If a story takes up more than six hours, consider breaking the story into two more bite-sized stories.

Your backlog can be managed in any number of media: whiteboards, bulletin boards, index cards, or work management software. This backlog should sorted by priority, whether by deadline, ROI, or client.

3. Hold your sprint planning meeting

With your backlog all sorted, you’re ready to kick off your sprint with a planning meeting. During this meeting, your team will gather to look at your backlog and decide which stories to work on during the upcoming sprint. As stories are moved to the burndown chart, these stories are assigned to individual team members, who commit to complete their stories within the sprint.

4. Keep an eye on your burndown chart

As your team works on their stories, they should also move their stories from ‘incomplete’ to ‘in progress’ to ‘approval’ to ‘complete’ on the burndown chart, so everyone can see their progress in near-real time. A good burndown chart will also include a graph showing how much has been completed versus what was planned to be completed.

When done right, this very public chart keeps stakeholders updated and provides a little extra motivation for team members.

5. Wrap up with a sprint retrospective

One of the key principles of Agile Marketing is its focus on continuous improvement and collaboration. Holding a sprint retrospective at the end of your sprint is crucial to your continued success. What worked? What didn’t? Which parts of the process need to be changed for the next project?

More than just a round of high-fives, this meeting should generate at least one improvement for the next sprint. Then, armed with this new learning, you begin the process all over again…

David Lesue is Creative Director at Workfront.


Sponsored posts are content that has been produced by a company that is either paying for the post or has a business relationship with VentureBeat, and they’re always clearly marked. The content of news stories produced by our editorial team is never influenced by advertisers or sponsors in any way. For more information, contact [email protected].