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Is Converged Infrastructure cure for your data center headaches?

Oracle recently upgraded their Virtual Compute Appliance (OVCA) to X4-2. It was launched earlier in 2013, with adoption accelerating. It’s particularly useful for consolidating non-workload specific applications into a single managed environment. Applications may be installed on Windows, Linux, or Solaris.

OVCA is part of Oracle’s portfolio of Converged Infrastructure, also known as Engineered Systems. This portfolio includes:

  • Exadata Database Machine and Oracle Database Appliance – for database workloads
  • Exalogic Elastic Cloud – for Java workloads
  • Big Data Appliance – for unstructured data organization
  • Exalytics – for analytics and business intelligence workloads
  • SuperCluster – for application and database consolidation
  • Virtual Compute Appliance – for quick deployment for hardware and virtualized applications

So the value of Converged Infrastructure over traditional infrastructure is:

  • Factory integrated vs. lengthy integration
  • Simple and standardized connections vs. hundreds of connections
  • Reliability and ease of management vs. ever increasing complexity

More specifically the value of OVCA is:

  • Pre-built system thats ready to use with minimal setup
  • Reduced integration risk for deploying infrastructure
  • Prebuilt templates for integrated application provisioning
  • Fully virtualized system with build it software defined networking for increased flexibility.

OVCA X4-2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

OVCA may be seen as either an application platform or an infrastructure platform. Primarily it’s a virtualized infrastructure platform, but through the use of templates it may be seen as an application platform.

OVCA as IaaS:

  • Monitoring
  • Configuration and Change Management
  • Provisioning
  • Compliance

OVCA as AaaS:

Balancing competing priorities between developers and IT (flexibility vs. standardization).

For Developers:

  • Rapid development
  • Choice of components and configurations

developers

 

 

 

 

 

 

For IT:

  • Certified stacks and frameworks
  • Known environments and patterns
  • Standardized security, monitoring and management

it

 

 

 

 

 

Oracles reference architecture for OVCA looks like this:

reference system

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Oracle customers considering consolidation and virtualization clearly have the most to gain from an OVCA solution. However this is applicable to non-Oracle shops too. An organization with mostly Oracle applications may consider OVCA for infrastructure consolidation and integration, but they may have an IBM or Microsoft BI or Portal system that could also be consolidated onto the same hardware. That’s the beauty of this environment, many operating systems are supported, as are diverse workloads. Management is simplified and streamlined.

If your organization has a large number of Java or Database applications, then Exalogic or Exadata may be more appropriate. In my view this solution is ideal for either mid-sized organizations consolidating servers, or for departments within large organizations that want a single environment to host and mange all of their unique applications.

Posted in News

Liferay Releases SDK to Speed Up Custom Mobile App Development

This just in, Liferay has a new SDK for custom mobile apps.  They will release it to the public on April 2nd.  Here’s the press release.

Liferay Releases SDK to Speed Up Custom Mobile App Development
New developer toolkit helps Liferay’s customers develop and manage sophisticated mobile apps

Liferay Releases SDK to Speed Up custom Mobile App DevelopmentLOS ANGELES – (April 1, 2014) – Liferay, Inc., which makes open source portal software, is releasing a mobile software development kit today. The Mobile SDK is part of Liferay’s commitment to being a mobile-ready platform, which began with making responsive design work out of the box in Liferay Portal 6.2. The Mobile SDK takes the platform’s mobile capabilities a step further, making the unique benefits of Liferay Portal available to mobile app developers.

“I’m excited that we’re thinking about how to bring our customers into the mobile revolution—and it really is a revolution, impacting every aspect of the way we do business and behave as a society,” said Bryan Cheung, Liferay’s CEO. “I think developers are going to love the Mobile SDK, because people are so hungry for the kind of immediacy that you only get from your smartphone. Anything that helps you make mobile apps more quickly with more relevant functionality is going to add a lot of value.”

The Liferay Mobile SDK is designed to work with Liferay Portal 6.2 and the major mobile app platforms such as Android and iOS.

  • Authentication against your Liferay Portal instance
  • Exception handling
  • Remote services calls
  • JSON parsing
  • Batch calls
  • Async calls
  • Auto-generated SDK, which is template based
  • Integration with Developer Studio
  • Compatibility with custom portlets

There are three key reasons to use the SDK when building mobile apps:

  • Common shared services such as log-in, handling errors, and getting content to and from the mobile app (using JSON)
  • Use of Liferay’s built-in content and collaboration features in the mobile app
  • Use of custom objects or integrations in the mobile app

For example, a company whose CRM is already integrated with Liferay will find it much easier with the Mobile SDK to create a mobile app that browses customer records, and each sales rep will have personalized access to their customers. Mobile apps designed by retail companies for their customers could take advantage of shopping catalog integration to quickly develop a native mobile e-commerce app, and enhance the experience with the phone’s camera and location services.

Long-term, Liferay hopes its portal can be used as a central hub that aggregates data and interactions from mobile devices to help companies understand the needs and preferences of their customers and employees. Of course, to help address privacy issues, Liferay will consider how companies can give more control of personal information to the users of the mobile apps they create.

“We’re making mobile a priority,” said Michael Young, CTO, Liferay. “Our customers want this for a lot of the same reasons they chose Liferay: they don’t want to keep re-writing the same code for several mobile apps, and they want to consolidate integration points behind a single system. The solutions we’ve come up with for making websites and portals easier to develop cross over well to mobile app development.”

The Liferay Mobile SDK is available as an Eclipse plugin that can be installed into Liferay Developer Studio, Liferay IDE, or a developer’s own Eclipse environment. The Mobile SDK is also available for download at github.com/liferay/liferay-mobile-sdk/releases.

Get a free demo of the Mobile SDK by signing up for the webinar at http://discover.liferay.com/liferay-live-11apr2014

For more information about the Mobile SDK, visit www.liferay.com/community/liferay-projects/liferay-mobile-sdk.

About Liferay

Liferay, Inc. is a leading provider of enterprise open source portal and collaboration software products, servicing Fortune 500 companies worldwide. Clients include Allianz, Carrefour, Cisco Systems, Danone, Lufthansa Flight Training, Rolex, Siemens, Société Générale, Toyota and the United Nations. Liferay offers Enterprise Subscriptions, which provide access to emergency fixes, software updates, 24/7 support SLAs, and subscription-only features. Liferay also offers professional services and training to ensure successful deployments for its customers.

Liferay, Liferay Portal, and the Liferay logo are trademarks or registered trademarks of Liferay, Inc., in the United States and other countries.

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CONTACT:
Liferay, Inc.
Rebecca Cho
1-877-LIFERAY
pr@liferay.com
Twitter: 
Liferay

 

 

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Posted in News

Amazon Slashes Pricing for Several Cloud Services

I recently blogged about Google’s Bigger, Cheaper Cloud and now it looks like Amazon has responded. CRN has an article about Amazon’s announcement of 10%-40% cuts for M1, M2, C1 and CC2 instances.  Amazon didn’t make much reference to Google and they have cut prices a number of times although the timing is suspect.

Amazon’s EC2 M3 instances are dropping 38 percent, while C3 instances are being cut by 30 percent. All of these EC2 figures are for instances running Linux, but Jassy said there will be a “comparable decrease” for Windows instances.

Amazon is lowering Simple Storage Service (S3) pricing by an average of 51 percent, with cuts ranging from 35 percent to 65 percent depending on the tier of service, Jassy said.

Other cloud price cuts are coming for Amazon’s Relational Database Service (28 percent on average), ElastiCache (34 percent on average), and Elastic MapReduce, AWS’ Hadoop service (27 percent to 61 percent depending on instance type).

AWS is able to make these price drops through economies of scale, as more people are adopting its cloud to replace or supplement their traditional data centers, Kevin RisonChu, director of systems and infrastructure at Digitaria, a San Diego, Calif.-based AWS partner, told CRN.

Hit the original article for more in depth information.

 

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Posted in News

Adobe Summit: Reimagining Digital Marketing in Financial Services

Christopher Young from Adobe kicked off this session by talking about these top challenges in Financial Services:

  1. Compliance – 84%
  2. Data Security & Privacy – 82%
  3. Difficulty Personalizing – 80%
  4. Fragmented Data – 78%
  5. Incompatible Marketing Solutions – 74%

Three takeaways:

  1. You are only as good as your analytics
  2. Tom improve the experience, understand your customer
  3. Don’t go it alone, align the right internal partners (legal, compliance, IT, marketing)

Nicole Sturgill from CEB TowerGroup presented results from surveys they’ve conducted.  The first survey showed the top priorities:

1. Develop a single view of the customer through integrated data

  • 80% said this is imporant
  • only 32% were confident they could do this

2. Deliver a cost-effective & consistent customer experience across all channels

  • 74% viewed this as important
  • but only 23% were confident they could deliver

3. Manage & organize data for actionable business analytics & decision making.

  • 66% feel this is important
  • but only 30% were confident they could get there

The most important analytics functions CEOs are focused on:

  • Risk Management – 50%
  • Improving product or service profitability – 44%
  • New Market identification and segmentation – 42%
  • Developing a corporate a business strategy 40%
  • Forecasting demand 40%
  • Product or service development 49%

Farrel Hudzik from Accenture Interactive spoke about what their clients are asking for.  Financial services companies are thinking about a holistic set of problems.  They are concerned with destructers – like Paypal, Square, etc who take business away. They are also concerned with disrupters like Bitcoin, etc.

Payments

These firms are now starting to think about how they can partner with other companies to provide services to their customers and get better at analytics.

The best companies at digital marketing start at the top and make a concerted effort to pull together siloed organizations and data.

In a quick poll of the audience, the vast majority of people said they are just getting started in their journey to digital transformation.

Deepak Nair from US Bank talked about digital maturity.  He started by talking about how Facebook started as targeted for students and quickly morphed into this mega marketing platform.  One reason for this transformation is that Facebook had good data about its users and understands them.

USBank started on their journey with a reporting effort – they need to collect the right kind of data and educate their people on what is actionable data.

Next, they went to the analyze stage.  They began identifying problems, causes and next steps.  Deepak called this their maturing stage.

In the leading stage, they began predicting with the data.  They started identifying trends and acting on them.

For data quality, Deepak provides these goals:

  • Build a rich analytics platform to combine online and offline data
  • Create a foundational testing and learning mindset
  • Innovate to solve business problems & increase efficiency.

When it comes to marketing,

  • “Your campaigns are only as good as your data/analytics.”
  • The right leadership and organizational alignment is critical

US Bank achieved the following results:

  • Identified new opportunities
  • Empowered their internal business partners
  • Increased the capability of the tools resulting in better ROI
  • Established Quantifiable results and quick wins
  • Able to build a better customer experience

What should you do:

  • Make a plan to get the data you need.  But ask what data do you need, where is it, what are you going to do with it
  • Unify that data to complete the view of the customer.  Again prioritize what data you need and how to get it.
  • Build a coalitoin of the enlightened by eduating on what you are trying to accomplish, and paint a picture of shared success.

Enterprise Architecture Case Study – City of Austin

Rob Byrd the Chief Architect at the City of Austin, gave his insights into running an enterprise architecture practice at a largish, and rapidly growing, US city.

wallpapers-to-go-austin-texas

Information Technology departments are unable to keep pace with the business needs (demand) for enterprise-wide capabilities.

Capability: People, processes and technology

The City of Austin wants to be the best managed city (in the world), not only the “Live Music Capital of the World“.

  • Need for interface
  • Data

Quote: Get a good mentor. A good architect takes at least a year (with a good mentor) to get productive.

Enterprise Architecture is about:

  • Common Capabilities
  • Common Data
  • Identify Common Goals

Business Needs Analysis:

  • Value Proposition (what can an architect give you)
  • What goals are you trying to achieve? (Goal Dependency)

Business Strategic Viewpoint:

  • Patterns
  • Map to IT capabilities
  • Realize the goals

Define the Customer Experience:

  • Integrate the business needs
  • User tells IT what they want – specification

Develop IT Business Need Strategy

  • Center of Excellence
  • Service Delivery Model

EA Derived IT Strategy

  • EA should work for corporate executives not CIO
  • Align IT to deliver maximum value to business

Posted in News

GMail integration with Eloqua, Salesforce and more

We keep hearing about the death of email – social media was going to kill email, spam was going to kill email, etc, etc. if you search Google for “email death”, you will find hundreds of articles predicting and espousing the death of email. As a side note, this even goes back 10 years: The Death of EMail by John Dvorak.

And still EMail continues to thrive, especially in business. The Radicati Group, in Email Statistics Report, 2013-2017 says that email accounts will grow by 1 Billion over the next four years and that “Email remains the go-to form of communication in the Business world.”

So, back to our headline. One of the most frustrating things about marketing automation is the learning curve. These systems tend to be complicated and used by the marketing gurus. But wouldn’t it be great to allow more people access to the data in these systems? The answer is yes. Sales people want to and should participate along with customer service and more.

As discussed, EMail is used by everyone in the company, so why not let people access marketing and sales information from the familiar EMail interface?

Cirrus Insights, a small tech startup in California has taken on the task of making access easier by integrating these systems with GMail. Cirrus starts by integrating Salesforce into GMail. So while you are looking at an email from a client or prospect, Cirrus Insights pops up on the right of your screen to show you information about that person from your Salesforce.com data. You can also reply in Gmail and have that reply attached to Salesforce so others can see all the interactions with customers. Here is a video explaining this integration: http://youtu.be/H2izCeDWAIQ cirins

Now Cirrus has used its platform to integrate other systems into GMail, including Eloqua, Marketo, and more. Say you are looking at an email from a prospective customer and you want to know their lead score according to Marketo. Cirrus Insights shows you that when you open the email. You say that your company uses Eloqua instead. Cirrus Insight says no problem – they pull information in from Eloqua as well. Take a look at this video for more information: http://youtu.be/pgDHHdfd4kc

Maybe this all sounds complicated – integrating all theses systems together in a big spider web. But Cirrus has taken a simpler approach. First, you integrate Eloqua with Salesforce.com. The Salesforce.com Marketplace makes this easier. Once you have tied those two together, Cirrus Insights can now show you the Eloqua data alongside the Salesforce.com data in the context of GMail. Now all of your authorized GMail users have easy access to all of this data.

For more about Cirrus see their website: cirrusinsight.com

Prehistoric marketing in the Age of the Customer

Today I was reviewing a Forrester webinar replay, called “The Age of the Customer: Becoming Customer Obsessed”, and later in the afternoon I checked by physical mail box, and found a post card depicting beautiful swimming pools that I may wish to purchase from Reliant Pools. What struck me was the incongruence between this advertisement and what Forrester was promoting. I live in an apartment community in central Texas, and every apartment community I’ve visited in the region has a swimming pool. As an apartment resident I have no influence over the type of swimming pool in my community. Perhaps when I move into my new home, I will be more interested in a swimming pool. Until then, like most recipients I’ll simply discard the card. (Incidentally this is what I did at first, before realizing it had relevance to what I’d just been reviewing).

Beautiful swimming pools from Reliant Pools

Beautiful swimming pools from Reliant Pools

This may be an example of what Forrester calls, the Dark Ages of Marketing, where customers are segmented based on basic criteria, such as “women aged between 25 and 45″. However I would go a few steps back and call it an example Prehistoric Marketing, mailing all households in a zip-code or geographic area, without any sort of differentiation. This would not be so bad, however on the reverse, the first sentence starts with “Our attention to detail is one of our strangest attributes”. I’m sure this is true of their swimming pools, but certainly not when it comes to marketing, being a local developer they may not have a dedicated marketing department, but they could spend their budget more wisely, perhaps by sending kids around neighborhoods on bikes to drop off flyers at homes without swimming pools. Better yet would be bridging the gap from offline to online, by incorporating a QR code on the flyer, that when scanned, would take the visitor to an information site or blog discussing the benefits of swimming pool ownership in Central Texas.

Lots of technical data that I'm not interested in.

Lots of technical data that I’m not interested in.

Although the target audience may be wrong, they also miss another point. Today the buyer, of swimming pools or whatever, is more empowered than ever to seek out information through any number of channels, such as social media, blogs, wiki sites, etc. Buyers what to know what the experience of the product will be like, they want to know what the relationship with the supplier will be like, it’s about the overall experience, and not one the technical specifications of the product. Again, an example from Reliant, they describe the quality of their pools and project management expertise. Do I as potential buyer care about this? Among other things, I want to know I’ll have a hassle free buying experience, and a pool that is a joy for my family to use.

Forrester goes on to say that a customer-obsessed business is one that enhances its knowledge of their (potential) customers and their engagement processes. This is where digital marketing systems, such as marketing automation and marketing intelligence, can come into play by helping to identify the right criteria for the kinds of customers you want to approach. For example, creating buyer personas, such as “Young Swimming Pool Dads”; i.e. young fathers, living in new homes, that want a swimming pool for their kids to play in. Then providing these personas with relevant information would create a stronger brand affinity, than a discardable, and easily forgettable, post card flyer.

Deploying a marketing automation solution is, to paraphrase from Oracle, great for targeting the right buyers, executing campaigns, getting the best leads to sales and delivering the highest return on your marketing investment. There are number of great platforms available to help modern marketers reach and connect with their desired audience, and provide these customers with a compelling user experience.

Oracle Eloqua has a great explainer video on what marketing automation is all about, whilst Adobe has a fun video explaining the benefits of marketing technologies, whilst also profiling their offerings. They’re both worth a watch to get of how marketing technology can benefit modern customer-obcessed organizations.

Perficient Receives Award for Search Deployment Excellence

Last week our Google Search Appliance practice team attended the Google Global Partner Summit in San Francisco, CA with over 600 fellow partners worldwide.  In addition, more than 200 Google employees were there to present, facilitate, or answer questions and provide their view on the future of Google Enterprise and the technologies they are creating.

Themes that emerged from the conference:

For the second consecutive year, Perficient was awarded Google Enterprise Search North American Deployment Partner of the Year 2013

  • Google’s focus on innovation is being recognized by the CIO. According to a recent Gartner CIO agenda 2014, leaders Google and Amazon will be among the most influential in enterprise innovation over the next decade and Google is working hard to innovate, internally and externally.
  • Google Search Appliance (GSA) 7.2 is rich with features that enable easier content acquisition, improve support for languages, improve usability and enhance reporting functions. Additionally, the new connector framework (version 4.0) will  make it easier to deploy, will better leverage GSA functionality and will enhance Perficient’s connector development process.
  • Google’s solutions are taking center stage and they are working with the partner community to take their technology and create repeatable, deployable solutions that add immediate value.

Perficient’s deep enterprise content management experience combined with Google’s universal search capabilities provides clients a compelling and comprehensive support for these three themes.

While there were many highlights of the event, the one that made me most proud, was to have Perficient recognized as the Google Enterprise North America Search Deployment Partner of the Year for the second year running. The award recognizes Perficient for its technical understanding of enterprise search and proven track record of deploying the Google Search Appliance (GSA) for customers.

Upon Amy Shavor, Chad Johnson and Jaspal Singh’s return they have admitted to being reinvigorated and full of ideas to help our clients make the most of search!

 

Posted in Google, News, Search

Facebook Introduces New Campaign Structure

Facebook has been hailed and maligned at the same time for its advertisement features.  On one hand, Facebook ads promise to reach large, targeted audiences with your message.  On the other hand, Facebook ad reach is a black box that only Facebook controls.  In a previous post, Why Facebook is Failing Marketers, my colleague Michael Porter wrote about Facebook ads reaching only 16% of a company’s fans.

I don’t know if the  New Facebook Campaign Structure that Facebook is rolling out will address the complaints, but it will make it easier to manage Facebook campaigns and ads.  Existing ads in Facebook are organized into Campaigns.  This two level structure has made it difficult manage campaigns and measure performance.

In the new structure, Campaigns organize Ad Sets which organize Ads.  This three level hierarchy makes it easier to target ads to different users and then measure specific results in a campaign.  For example, you can create a separate campaign for each of your marketing goals or objectives. If you want to increase brand awareness, that can be a distinct facebookcampaignscampaign from the campaign to increase revenues.  Each campaign can have its own tactics, budgets, and measurements.

Within each Campaign, you can segment your audience by using Ad Sets.  So you can create a ad set for 18-25 year olds, another for 25-35 and so on. Each Ad Set can have its own schedule and budget on Facebook.  This makes it easier to focus resources on those segments that may be most beneficial to your campaign.

Within each Ad Set you have various Ads.  Ads work the same way they do today.  However, now you can see how you can create a specific Ad for 18-25 year olds versus the other segments, all within the same campaign.

Facebook Campaign Structure

You can measure results at any of the three levels – Campaign, Ad Set or Ad.  If you want to see how a particular ad is doing in the 18-25 year old Ad Set, you can now get that data and make adjustments as needed.

Hopefully these changes will allow marketers to have more control over their Facebook campaigns. These changes are being rolled out over the next few weeks and will be available worldwide.

What Does SoftLayer Mean for IBM?

So I’m not the cloud guy within Perficient but let’s face it, everything I see within my portal, web content, social, and marketing automation world has some cloud component.  Let me give you some examples:

  • What Does SoftLayer Mean for IBM?We see more and more requests to host IBM Portal and IBM WCM on an easy to manage external entity.  Perficient uses a partner, Blue Iron because they stand up actual working instances of software and support more than just the base OS.
  • Sitecore has a Sitecore Azure option which makes a lot of sense given the fact that Azure can treat SQL Service as a Database service and not force separate spin-ups of db servers.  Note: the link is to a whitepaper on what you need to think about when implementing Sitecore Azure
  • Most marketing automation is done via cloud based tools like Eloqua, ExactTarget, and Xtify
  • Perficient’s Microsoft practice is spending a lot of time migrating users to that SaaS cloud product
  • Our Salesforce practice is growing by leaps and bounds with Sales Cloud, Services cloud, and the portal they call communities…..all SaaS options

This front end world is relatively quickly becoming a cloud based world. It’s not all SaaS.   IaaS and PaaS have plays here.  That brings me to my question posed in the title, what does Softlayer mean for IBM.  I think that in the short term, it mean some pain for IBM and it’s partner channel of which Perficient is a part.  That said, of course there’s confusion, cloud is changing rapidly and IBM recently acquired a company that now must be reconciled with a previous cloud offering in SmartCloud.

In doing some basic research, I found the following which I think shed some light on the subject.

It’s Easy to Use

Everywhere I go I find a variety of quotes on this.  I spoke recently to one of our partners who told me they intend to move at least part of their cloud services to Softlayer.  He said that yes it’s expensive but the tools to manage everything within that IaaS world are really easy to use.

One article at CRN says this:

SoftLayer’s automation platform, on the other hand, enables businesses to marry speed and simplicity and attracts the kind of young companies IBM wants — game makers, Database-as-a-Service companies and born-in-the cloud app makers.

“IBM needs to be high-speed, low-drag. That’s what the market wants. SmartCloud just didn’t deliver on that front. But before I get too excited about SoftLayer, partners need to know where IBM is headed with the platform. We want to add value but don’t want to get burned down the road when SoftLayer rolls out similar services,” said Champion Solutions’ Pyle.

I also found a number of reviews which highlight ease of use, nimbleness, and reliability.  So it seems that while Softlayer has focused on the infrastructure as a service side and doesn’t offer as much additional services as other competitors, it’s still a fantastic start.

It Gives IBM a Basis for All the Other Cloud Offerings

Softlayer is easy to use and I have no doubt IBM will pile commerce, web content, portal, and a host of other tools on it.  It will become the baseline for all on-premise tools IBM needs to migrate to the cloud.  It will take years but the agility provided makes it a lot easier compared to the old SmartCloud offering

Let’s Face It, Softlayer Is Just More Cool

You hate to say it because the entire technology industry views itself as a dispassionate base that makes rational decisions on what’s best for the business…………but I’ve been around too  long and seen too many decisions to move or buy systems based on what you would ultimately call the coolness factor.   Back when IBM acquired Softlayer, Gigaom came out with an interesting article that highlights it.

  • SoftLayer caters to younger, smaller, cooler companies — game makers, database-as-a-service companies including Slideshare, Kixeye, SendGrid and Cloudant. IBM SmartCloud customers tend to be, well existing IBM customers — enterprises. Will culture shock result?
  • IBM has been a loud proponent of OpenStack since joining the OpenStack Foundation last year. SoftLayer offers an OpenStack Swift-based storage option but has strong allegiances with Citrix, which backs the CloudStack open source effort. So what happens there?
  • Will the new division start building or acquiring additional new services to compete with AWS and to attempt to lock customers in, as AWS does with its higher-level services?

Bottom Line

I think that the long term implications of this will allow IBM to better compete in the marketplace and no one has any illusions on how competitive this space will be with IBM, Google, Amazon, and Microsoft deeply in the mix…..with a whole host of other players.

Posted in News