Friday, June 3, 2011

MuleSoft takes full-service integration to the cloud with iON iPaaS ESB platform

Listen to the podcast. Find it on iTunes/iPod and Read a full transcript or download a copy. Join the iON beta program. Sponsor: MuleSoft.

Enterprise application integration (EAI) as a function is moving out of the enterprise and into the cloud. So called integration platform as a service (iPaaS) has popped up on the edge of the enterprise. But true cloud integration as a neutral, full service, and entirely cloud-based offering has been mostly only a vision.

Yet, if businesses need to change rapidly as the cloud era unfolds, to gain and use new partners and new services, then new and flexible integration capabilities across and between extended applications and services are essential.

The older point-to-point methods of IT integration, even for internal business processes, are slow, brittle, costly, complex and hard to manage. Into this opportunity for a new breed of cloud integration services steps MuleSoft, a market leading, open-source enterprise service bus (ESB) provider, which aims to create a true cloud integration platform called Mule iON. [Disclosure: MuleSoft is a sponsor of BriefingsDirect podcasts.]

MuleSoft proposes nothing short of an iPaaS service that spans software as a service (SaaS) to legacy, SaaS to SaaS, and cloud to cloud integration. In other words, all of the above, when it comes to integrations outside of the enterprise.

BriefingsDirect recently learned more about MuleSoft iON, how it works and its pending general availability in the summer of 2011. There's also the potential for an expanding iON marketplace that will provide integration patterns as shared cloud applications, with the likelihood of spawning constellations of associated business to business ecosystems.

Explaining the reality for a full-service cloud-based integration platform solution are two executives from MuleSoft, Ross Mason, Chief Technology Officer and Founder, and Ali Sadat, the Vice President of Mule iON at MuleSoft. They are interviewed by Dana Gardner, Principal Analyst at Interarbor Solutions.

Here are some excerpts:
Gardner: It strikes me that the number of integrations that need to be supported are further and further toward the edge -- and then ultimately outside the organization.

Like it or not, any company of any size has some if not most of its data now outside of the firewall.

Mason: We describe it internally as the center of the enterprise gravity is shifting. The web is the most powerful computing resource we’ve had in the information age, and it’s starting to drag the data away from the enterprise outside into the platform itself. What this means for enterprises is, like it or not, any company of any size, has some if not most of its data now outside of the firewall.

I'm not talking about the Fortune 2000. They still have 95 percent of their data behind the firewall, but they’re also changing. But, for all of the enterprises and for forward-thinking CIOs, this is a very big and important difference in the way that you run your IT infrastructure and data management and security and everything else.

It turns a lot of things on its head. The firewall is constructed to keep everything within. What’s happening is the rest of the world is innovating at a faster speed and we need to take advantage of that inside enterprises in order to compete and win in our respective businesses.

There are a number of drivers in the marketplace pushing us toward integration as a service and particularly iPaaS. First of all, if we look back 15 years, integration became a focal point for enterprises, because applications were siloing their data in their own databases and for business to be more effective, they have to get that data out of those silos and into a more operational context, where they could do extended business processes, etc.

What we're seeing with cloud, and in particular the new wave of SaaS applications, is that we're doing a lot of the same mistakes for the same behaviors that we did 10 years ago in the enterprise. Every new SaaS application becomes a new data silo in the cloud and it’s creating an integration challenge for anyone that has the data across multiple SaaS providers.

New computing models

And it's not just SaaS. The adoption of SaaS is one key thing, but also the adoption of cloud and hybrid computing models means that our data also no longer lives behind the firewall. Couple that with the drivers around mobile computing that are enabling our workforce and consumers, when they are on the go, again, outside of the firewall.

Add the next social media networks and you have a wealth of new information about your employees, customers, and consumers, available through things like LinkedIn and Facebook. You've also got the big data explosion. The rise of things like Hadoop for managing unstructured data has meant that we end up pushing more data outside of our firewalls to third party services that help us understand our data better.

There are four key drivers: the adoption of SaaS applications; the movements by using more cloud and hybrid models; mobile is driving a need to have data outside of the enterprise; and then social media and also big data together are redefining where we find and how we read our information.

Gardner: It also appears that there will be a reinforcing effect here. The more that enterprises use cloud services, the more they’ll need to integrate. The more they integrate, the more capable and powerful the cloud services, and so on and so on. I guess we could anticipate a fairly rapid uptake in the need for these external integrations.

Mason: We think we might be a bit early in carving out the iPaaS market, but the response we're hearing, even from our largest organizers, is that most have lots of needs around cloud integration, even if it's just to help homogenize departmental applications. We’ve been blown away at MuleSoft at the demand for iON already. [Join the iON beta program.]

New open enterprises

The open-source model is absolutely critical, and the reason is that one of the biggest concerns for anyone adopting technology is who am I getting into bed with? If I buy from Amazon, ultimately, I'm getting into there with Amazon and their whole computing model, and it’s not an easy thing to get out.

With integration, it’s even more of a concern for people. We’ve looked through the vendor lock-in of the 1990s and 2000s, and people are a little bit gun-shy from the experiences they had with the product vendors like Atria and IBM and Oracle.

When they start thinking about IaaS or the cloud, then having a platform that’s open and freely available and that they can migrate off or on to and manage themselves is extremely important. Open source, and particularly MuleSoft and the Mule ESB, provides that platform.

Gardner: Ali, how do you see iPaaS process enablement happening?

Sadat: It’s a pretty interesting problem that comes up. The patterns and the integrations that you need to do now are getting, in a sense, much more complex, and it’s definitely a challenge for a lot of folks to deal with it.

We’re talking not only to cloud-to-cloud or enterprise-to-enterprise, but now extending it beyond the enterprise to the various cloud and the direction of data can flow either from the enterprise to the cloud or from the cloud to the enterprise. The problems are getting a little more challenging to solve.

The other thing that we’re seeing out there is that a lot of different application programming interfaces (APIs) are popping up -- more and more every day. There are all kinds of different technologies either being exposed to traditional web services or REST-based web services.

We’re seeing quite a few APIs. By some accounts, we're in the thousands or tens of thousands right now. In terms of APIs, they're going to be exposed out there for folks who are trying to figure out and how to integrate. [Join the iON beta program.]

Gardner: What do you propose for that?

Hybrid world

Sadat: It’s something a hybrid world, and I think the answer to that is a hybrid model, but it needs to be very seamless from the IT perspective.

If I want to do a real-time integration between Salesforce and an SAP, how do I enable that? If I poke holes from my firewall that’s going to definitely expose all kinds of security breaches that my network security folks are not going to like that. So how do I enable that? This is where iON comes into play.

We’re going to sit there in a cloud, open up a secure public channel where Salesforce can post events to iON, and then via a secured connection back to the enterprise, we can deliver that directly to SAP. We can do on the reverse side too. This is something that the traditional TIBCOs and WedMethods of of the world weren’t designed to solve and they weren’t even thinking about this problem when they designed and developed that application. [Join the iON beta program.]

The difference between integration running on-premise or in the cloud shouldn't matter as much, and the tooling should be the same. So, it should be able to support both a cloud-based management, and also be able to manage and drive us in the enterprise, and set up on-premise tools.

One of the things you’ll see about iON is a lot of familiar components. If you have been a Mule user or Mule ESB user, you will see that at the heart of iON itself. What we're providing now is the ability to be able to deploy your solutions, your integration applications to a cloud and be able to manage it there, but we also are going to give you the capability to be able to integrate back into the enterprise.

Gardner: Why not just use what Salesforce provides you and let that be the integration point? Why would you separate the integration cloud capability?

Sadat: Integration, as a whole, is much better served by neutral party than just going by any one of the application vendors. You can certainly write custom code to do it, and then people have been doing it, but they've seen over and over that that doesn’t necessarily work.

Having a neutral platform that speaks to APIs on both sides is very important. You’re not going to find Salesforce, for example, adopting SAP APIs, and vice versa. So, having that neutral platform is very important. Then, having that platform and being able to carry out all the kinds of different integration patterns that you need is also important.

We do understand the on-premise side of it. We understand the cloud side of the problem. We're in a unique position to bring those two together.

Having that platform and being able to carry out all the kinds of different integration patterns that you need is also important.

Gardner: Ross, please define for me what you consider the top requirements for this unique new neutral standalone integration cloud?

Mason: I'll start with the must-haves on the PaaS itself. In my mind the whole point of working with a PaaS is not just to do integration, but it’s for a provider, such as MuleSoft, to take all the headache and hard work out of the architecture as well.

For me, a true PaaS would allow a customer to buy a service level agreement (SLA) for the integration applications. That means we are not thinking about CPUs, about architecture, or I/O or memory usage, and just defining the kind of characteristics they want from their application. That would be my Holy Grail of why a PaaS is so much better?

For integration, you need that, plus you need deep expertise in that integration itself. Ali just mentioned that people do a lot of their own point to points and SaaS providers do their own point integrations as well.

We spend a lot of money in the enterprise to integrate applications. You do want a specialist there, and you want someone who is independent and will adopt any API that makes sense for the enterprise in a neutral way.

We’re never going to be pushing our own customer relationship management (CRM) application. We're not going to be pushing our own enterprise resource planning (ERP). So, we’re a very good choice for being able to pull data from whichever application you're using. Neutrality is very important.

Hugely important

Finally, going back to the open-source thing again, open source is hugely important, because I want to know that if I build an integration on a Switzerland platform, I can still take that away and run it behind my firewall and still get support. Or, I just want to take it away and run it and manage it myself.

With iON, that’s the promise. You’ll be able to take these integration apps and the integration flows that you build, and run them anywhere. We're trying to be very transparent on how you can use the platform and how you can migrate on as well as off. That’s very important. [Join the iON beta program.]

Gardner: You’ve come out on May 23 with the announcement about iON and describing what you intend.

Sadat: That’s correct. We started with our private beta, which is coming to an end. As you mentioned, we’re now releasing a public beta. Pretty much anybody can come in, sign up, and get going in a true cloud fashion. [Join the iON beta program.]

We're allowing ourselves a couple months before the general availability to take in feedback during the beta release. We’re going to be actively working with the beta community members to use the product and tell us what they think and what they'd like changed.

One of the other things we’re doing soon after the general availability is releasing a series of iON applications that we'll be building and releasing. These will be both things that we’ll offer as ways to monetize certain integrations, but also as reference applications for partners and developers to look at, be able to mimic, and then be able to build their own applications on top of it.

Gardner: What is it they are going to get?

Sadat: At the core of it, they get Mule. That’s pretty essential, and there’s a whole lot of reasons why they do that. They get a whole series of connectors and various transports they can use. One of the things that they do get with iON is the whole concept of this virtual execution environment sitting in the cloud. They don’t have to worry about downloading and installing Mule ESB. It’s automatically provided. We'll scale it out, monitor it, and provide all that capability in the cloud for them.

Once they’re ready, they push it out to iON, and they execute it. They can then manage and monitor all the various flows that are going through the process.

They just need to focus on their application, the integration problems that they want to solve, and use our newly released Mule Studio to orchestrate these integrations in a graphical environment. Once they’re ready, they push it out to iON, and they execute it. They can then manage and monitor all the various flows that are going through the process.

The platform itself will have a pretty simple pricing model. It’s going to be composed of couple of different dimensions. As you need to scale out your application, you can run more of these units of work. You'll be able to handle the volume and throughout that you need, but we are also going to be tracking events. So this is, in Mule terminology, equivalent to a transaction. Platform users will be able to buy those in select quantities and then be able to get charged for any overage that they have.

Also, partners and ISVs today don’t have a whole lot of choices in terms of being able to build and embed OEM services in a cloud fashion into various applications or technologies that they are building. So, iON is going to provide that platform for them.

Embeddable platform

One of the key things of the platform itself is that it is very embeddable. Everything is going to be exposed as a series of APIs. SIs and SaaS providers can easily embed that in their own application and even put their own UI on top of it, so that underneath it it says iON, but on top, it’s their own look and feel, seamlessly integrated into their own applications and solutions. This is going to be a huge part of iON.

Gardner: Looking at the future how does the mobile trend in particular affect the need for a neutral third-party integration capability?

Mason: Mobile consumers are consuming data, basically. The mobile application model has changed, because now you get data from the server and you render on the device itself. That’s pretty different from the way we’ve been building applications up till fairly recently.

What that means is that you need to have that data available as a service somewhere for those applications to pick it up. An iPaaS is a perfect way of doing that, because it becomes the focal point where it can bring data in, combine it in different ways, publish it, scrub it, and push it out to any type of consumer. It's not just mobile, but it’s also point-of-sale devices, the browser, and other applications consuming that data.

Mobile is one piece, because it must have an API to grab the data from, but it’s not the only piece. There are lots of other embedded devices in cars, medical equipment, and everything else.

If you think about that web, it needs to talk to a centralized location, which is no one enterprise. The enterprise needs to be able to share its data with integration outside of its own firewall in order to create these applications.
Listen to the podcast. Find it on iTunes/iPod and Read a full transcript or download a copy. Join the iON beta program. Sponsor: MuleSoft.

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Wednesday, June 1, 2011

HP's IT Performance Suite empowers IT leaders with unified view into total operations, costs

The IT cobbler's kids finally have their own shoes.

Some 20 years into enterprise resource planning (ERP), whereby IT made business performance metrics and business intelligence (BI) a science for driving the modern corporation, ERP and BI for IT is finally at hand.

HP today unveiled a new suite of software designed to measure and improve IT performance at a comprehensive level via an IT system of record approach. The HP IT Performance Suite gives CIOs the ability to optimize application development, infrastructure and operations management, security, information management, financial planning, and overall IT administration.

The suite and its views into operations via accurate metrics, rather than a jumble of spreadsheets, also sets up the era of grasping true IT costs at the business process level, and therefore begins empirical costs-benefits analysis to properly evaluate hybrid computing models. Knowing your current costs -- in total and via discrete domains -- allows executives to pick the degree to which SaaS, cloud and outsourcing form the best bet for their company.

Included with the suite is an IT Executive Scorecard that provides visibility in critical performance indicators at cascading levels of IT leadership. It's founded on the open IT data model with built-in capabilities to integrate data from multiple sources, including third parties to deliver a single holistic view of ongoing IT metrics. [Disclosure: HP is a sponsor of BriefingsDirect podcasts.]

HP has identified 150 standard, best-in-class key performance indicators (KPIs), 50 of which are included in the Executive Scorecard as a starting dashboard. KPIs are distributed in customizable dashboards that provide real-time, role-based performance insights to technology leadership, allowing alignment across common goals for an entire IT organization.

"With this we can leverage our human capital better," said Alexander Pasik, PhD, CIO at the IEEE, based in Piscataway, NJ. "The better automation you can apply to IT operations, the better. It frees us up to focus on the business drivers."

Lifecycle approach

The Performance Suite uses HP's lifecycle approach to software development and management and integrates industry standards such as ITIL.

The first solution to be offered in the suite is the CIO Standard Edition, which includes the Executive Scorecard, along with financial planning and analysis, project and portfolio management (PPM), and asset manager modules. This edition automatically integrates data from the modules to provide more than 20 best-practice KPIs covering financial and project health, enabling the optimization of IT performance from a business investment point of view.

"Our use of IT is about driving the actual business," said Pasik, who is adopting elements of the suite and looks forward to putting the scorecard to use soon. "We need to measure IT overall. We will have legitimate metrics on internal operations."

The scorecard can be very powerful at this time in computing, said Piet Loubser, HP senior director of product marketing, because the true capital expenses versus operations expenses for IT can be accurately identified. This, in turn, allows for better planning, budgeting and transitioning to IT shared services and cloud models. Such insight also allows IT to report to the larger organization with authority on its costs and value.

Using the scorecard, said Loubser, IT executives can quickly answer with authority two hitherto-fore vexing questions: Is IT on budget, and is IT on time?

What's especially intriguing for me is the advent of deeper BI for IT, whereby data warehouses of the vast store of IT data can be assembled and analyzed. There is a treasure trove of data and insights into how business operate inside of the IT complex.

Applying BI best practices, using pre-built data models, and developing ongoing reference metrics on business processes to the IT systems that increasingly reflect the business operations themselves portends great productivity and agility benefits. Furthermore, getting valid analysis on IT operations allows for far better planning on future data center needs, modernization efforts, applications lifecycle management, and comparing and contrasting for hybrid models adoption ... or not.

For more information, visit the suite's HP website,

The announcement of the HP IT Performance Suite comes less than a week before HP's massive Discover conference in Las Vegas, where additional significant news is expected. I'll be doing a series of on-site podcasts from the conference on HP user case studies and on the implications and analysis of the news and trends. Look for them on this blog or BriefingsDirect partner site.

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Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Partnerpedia enables enterprise app stores to build better applications marketplace for ISVs, service providers, mobile business ecosystems

Listen to the podcast. Find it on iTunes/iPod and Read a full transcript or download a copy. Request an app marketplace demo. Sponsor: Partnerpedia.

As enterprises and most business users rapidly adopt smartphones and make them mission-critical to their work and lives, tablets are fast on their heels as a similar major disruptor. These fast-moving mobile trends together are also escalating demand for enterprise app stores.

The App Store is rapidly gaining admiring adopters, pioneered by Apple, thanks to its promise of reducing cost of distribution and of updates -- and also of creating whole new revenue streams and even deeper user relationships. RIM, Apple’s iOS, and Google Android devices are rapidly changing the way the world does business ... and the app store model is changing the way the world does software.

App stores work well for both buyers and sellers. The users are really quite happy with paying for what they have on the spot, as long as that process is quick, seamless, and convenient. Vendors, service providers, and communication service providers should therefore explore how such stores can be created quickly and efficiently to strike, as it were, while the app store iron is hot.

So the onus is now on a variety of business service providers and enterprises to come up with some answers for app stores of their own and to serve their employees, customers, and partner ecosystems in new ways. This can't be done haphazardly. The new app stores also must stand up to the rigors of business-to-business (B2B) commerce requirements, not just consumer-driven games.

To learn more about how the enterprise app store market will shape up, BriefingsDirect assembled a panel to delve into the market and opportunity for enterprise app stores, and to find out how they could be created quickly and efficiently. [Disclosure: Partnerpedia is a sponsor of BriefingsDirect podcasts.]

The experts included Michele Pelino, a Principal Analyst at Forrester Research; Mark Sochan, the CEO of Partnerpedia, and Sam Liu, Vice President of Marketing at Partnerpedia. The panel was moderated by Dana Gardner, Principal Analyst at Interarbor Solutions.

Here are some excerpts:
Gardner: Maybe you could paint a picture of what's going on with business applications, now that we have seen the app store model really pick up and become attractive to consumers.

Pelino: Our surveys say that about 30 percent of enterprises -- that’s medium, large, as well as small enterprises -- are using app stores do deploy some of their applications at some level. It’s not that they're doing everything that way today. That’s the early stage of this, because this is an evolutionary path. It started on the consumer side and now it’s going into the enterprise.

... It’s really important to take a step back and recognize how important mobility has become to enterprises overall, as they are interacting with their employees and their customers and their partners and providers as well. ... We do surveys at Forrester of enterprises in both North America and Europe to better understand those priorities and how mobility fits into overall technology initiatives. We find that three of the top priorities that are being focused on by many enterprises are related to mobility.

Mobility includes many types of workers and applications that address not just the traditional email/calendaring applications, which are widely deployed by most companies, but is also pushing those applications down into line of business worker types of applications, which are tied to particular types of employees in an organization.

They're applications that may be designed for the sales team, customer service, support, or marketing. They also might be applications that are tied to the needs of particular vertical industry’s logistics or supply chain management or enterprise asset management types of applications.

The other thing that’s driving some of this momentum is that individuals, not just employees, are going out and buying lots of different smartphone devices and mobile devices. ... tablets, slates, and different types of smartphones. So, this momentum isn’t just happening within the corporation. It’s actually happening outside of that, and it's what we would call the consumerization of IT.

This means that many individuals, consumers, are driving requirements into the corporation and into the IT organization to get new types of applications on their devices, whether those devices are personally owned or ones that the corporation has as well.

App store momentum

One of the things to think about, when you are doing an app store, is to recognize that there's a lot of momentum around app stores in general. All the different device manufacturers have application stores tied initially to a consumer-oriented perspective.

The momentum around those app stores has driven corporations to start thinking about what they can do to more effectively and efficiently support their requirements around applications.

The thing with corporations is that IT organizations still want to control which version of the applications are in there and what types of apps an employee might have access to in a corporate environment, as opposed to what they might be doing in their personal world. Security is always a key issue here.

All of these things are really driving the need for these application stores -- but at an enterprise level. More and more applications are not just coming from what the IT organization wants to put out there, but also line-of-business workers.

By implementing these application stores, I, as an individual employee with a particular role will have access to certain applications. Another employee may have access to other applications that are tied to their role in the organization. And you could broaden that concept out to interacting with partners, suppliers, and customers as well.

The IT group is getting pushed by the end users and organizations that have become very comfortable with how they can search, browse, try, download, and purchase applications.

... More enterprises are dealing with that pain-point of the complexity of getting these applications out there, of having to have some control over which version, monitoring them, tracking what's going on with the apps, ensuring that everybody is getting the application that they should ... or not.

... What we're seeing now is that some of these key drivers are coming together for large, medium, small enterprises who must figure out how to expand their applications and capabilities.

Gardner: Is this a big opportunity for IT to do something differently and better than the way they have distributed software in the past?

Sochan: There is no doubt that the IT group is getting pushed by the end users who have become very comfortable with how they can search, browse, try, download, and purchase applications. As a result, that has raised the expectations of how those same workers would like to be able browse, search, and download applications that could help them in their business world and with their productivity.

But, there are some pretty big differences between the consumer world of buying a 99-cent Angry Birds game versus downloading business applications. So some of the things that IT groups are having to think about and sort out are security and data governance, and how data that is specific to the device can be managed and, if need be, removed.

There are also issues about how the IT group can enable worker productivity and increase the satisfaction of the user base.

Savings and efficiencies

Finally, there's a need to try and find cost savings and efficiencies. If you had everyone just buying individual applications, then you wouldn’t have the benefit of bulk license purchasing or the ability to purchase through normal corporate buying processes that result in larger scales of economy.

Gardner: How does an enterprise, a vendor, or a communication service provider start the process of thinking about architecting and providing such an app store?

Liu: We've talked to a number of different enterprises and various industries, and most of them are in the early stages of researching and trying to figure out what this means to them. They know that tablets are coming, but actually today’s problems have as much to do with just devices already in-house, such as smartphones.

What we're hearing in terms of platforms is that the top three platforms they're trying to figure out are iOS, Android, and the platform coming from RIM.

In that research phase, some of the issues that they're concerned about are more traditional IT policies and compliance issues. They understand the motivation from the user standpoint and the value of that, but they're really trying to understand the landscape in terms of those more traditional issues around IT control and compliance, such as security.

The other thing is that they're also more open to outsourced or cloud and software-as-a-service (SaaS)-based solutions, as opposed to something that may be completely managed in-house via traditional software. The issue there is that they want to make sure that it actually can connect to the very secure session in the corporate environment, and that by outsourcing they are not giving that up in terms of the security and control.

So you might want to start with the current devices, such as phones and focus on maybe internal applications or select third-party applications. Deploy a project from that and then figure out how you want to evolve that towards other devices and other platforms. [Request an app marketplace demo.].

They're looking for some blended model between complete end-user autonomy and some better corporate control.

Sochan: At Partnerpedia we've been working with a number of the leading tablet vendors and some of the largest enterprise customers to understand what are the business problems and what are the priorities that need to be solved.

Overwhelmingly, what we're hearing is that most customers are not satisfied with just having an open marketplace that you might see from, say, the Google Apps Marketplace. They're looking for some blended model between complete end-user autonomy and some better corporate control. That’s the first piece of feedback we are hearing.

The second piece is that there is a need to have some sort of branding. Most enterprise companies want to have some branding, so that it’s very clear to their users that this is their marketplace, this is their store. And that store has a combination of third-party built applications, similar to what you might see if you went into an Apple App Store or into the Google Android marketplace.

Custom built

Depending on the type of application and the user, there's a need to have a lot of control and flexibility for the corporation to either pre-purchase those licenses and to manage those licenses effectively. Then, they can both purchase and manage the distribution of those license, and be able to reclaim them as employees leave the organization or devices are lost, as well as allowing, as appropriate flexibility for the end-users to actually make purchases directly based on their budget. [Request an app marketplace demo.]

... If you look at the core essence of an app store, there is a repository or catalog of information that makes it very easy for a company’s customers be able to find, browse, and look for products and services, not only from the vendor, but also related products and services that are of value from that vendor's ecosystem.

It almost doesn’t matter what kind of company it is. Most companies have some extended ecosystem of value-added partners. The ability to create a very rich catalog of information that your customers can browse and search and look for related products and services makes it much more compelling and gains a lot more commitment from your partners.

Because you're now providing them with of a go-to-market benefit directly to the customers, and from the customer’s perspective, they see tremendous value in your company’s products and services, because they see the richness of the ecosystem around it.

At the heart of it is this catalog that can be highly personalized. You can imagine that if you're now able to personalize this for your customers, where your customers are coming into this marketplace and they are not just seeing a generic marketplace, they are actually seeing a marketplace that’s been personalized to them.

Marketplace knows

This means that the marketplace already knows which products your customers have purchased from you and therefore is making a pre-selection or presenting them with information that’s very specific and related to the footprint that, that customer already has of your products.

In some cases, in a more consumer-oriented world, you may want to actually go to a transaction and actually enable purchasing. But our enterprise customers are telling us that, equally important, if not more important, in the first steps is to have a very sophisticated lead capture engine, so that you can capture that interest that your customer has expressed, and been browsing and expressed interest in a particular product.

Then, you can route that, as appropriate, into whatever customer relationship management (CRM) system is being used and more effectively follow up with that customer, either with your own direct sales force or with passing that lead to your partners for the appropriate follow up.

... The core of the Partnerpedia offering is a white label, cloud-based, branded app store, that allows very efficient discovery and delivery of applications. The internal benefits for the internal facing app store is the capability for IT members to be able to pre-purchase select applications that they want their users have available to them. And also providing the capability to brand that app store so that it follows the company’s logo and it has a very consistent corporate look and feel.

The internal benefits for the internal facing app store is the capability for IT members to be able to pre-purchase select applications that they want their users have available to them.

Then, giving a way for users to be able to very easily search, browse, and look for applications that are specific to their role in the organization.

Finally, the license management of that software, allowing the IT department to be able to track licenses that have been purchased and downloaded, as well as be able to reclaim those licenses as is appropriate, when an employee either no longer needs that license or has left the organization or has lost the device.

And looking more to the future, we are also working very closely with customers that are building a private branded marketplace. And I distinguish between an app store and a marketplace in that a marketplace is much broader than just applications. It can be hard goods, products, services, or offerings from partners and provides just a much richer way for customers to discover value-added offerings from a company. [Request an app marketplace demo.]

Gardner: Who are the folks who seem to be most interested in this? Is this something you're selling at multiple levels, or do you really have the ears yet of that business strategy?

Sochan: We're seeing it in a few different industries. Certainly high-tech is an area where this lends itself very well, because most companies are moving to a cloud services world and so they're looking for new and more innovative ways to combine and recombine multiple solution offerings to come up with more valuable offerings to their customers.

This is also driving opportunities for innovation and business models. how the customer pays for it. Having these bite-size pieces of innovation lends itself to new ideas and new business models in which there can be not only just actual new sources of revenue that can come out of this, because now it’s a channel to the market.

Gardner: Do have any thoughts about the IT efficiency aspects of an app store model, if we take it beyond smartphones and tablets to the entire spectrum of endpoints the users use?

Pelino: We've been starting on the mobile device side of the world -- smartphones and tablets, those types of devices. But, at a corporate level, there are other types of endpoints that you need to manage and deploy applications to, and you want the same kind of control. You also want to have a sense of how much you are spending.

As a service type of delivery model or a per user type of delivery model, you can use different kinds of models here to keep control of the cost and have efficiencies around cost that you might not have today, because there is lots of overlap happening.

There are benefits as well, when you're thinking about individual end users who might have devices that they use in certain situations. When they're at their desk, maybe they have their laptops or desktops there. So, ultimately, you could have the same environment to integrate what an individual end-user or an employee could get in terms of the apps that they're able to get and always have a consistent experience for that.

The other side of that is just having a recognition that at the IT level, as much as they would love to control this, there are lots of devices around the bend. So even in the mobile world the devices we see today are not the ones that are going to be here tomorrow and there is more and more, almost on a day-to-day basis, being announced and put out there for end-users, whether it be enterprises or consumers to use.

How do I keep that in line? This app-store model is certainly one way to do it. But, when you think about it at the IT organization level, it’s not just about mobility. They have to think about the endpoints across the organization and this could certainly be relevant in that case as well.

The ability to create a very rich catalog of information makes it much more compelling and gains a lot more commitment from your partners.

... You can imagine that now, with the capabilities that you have, you're going to be able to track and understand better what individuals are doing. Are they using certain applications? What they are doing? When they are doing it? As well as better understanding how you might be able to package and put together capabilities that might be more valuable to your customers in a manner that will be useful, in an individualized manner, not just basic bundles or combinations of services.

... For reference, there's a Forrester report that sets up the complexity that’s facing many organizations that I touched on very early on, called "Managing Mobile Complexity."

There's another report that’s coming out very soon around mobility in the cloud. We've been talking about these delivery mechanisms, cloud-based delivery mechanisms for applications and services, especially around mobile devices and applications and services. ...

A big BI benefit

From the business intelligence (BI) side of this, we've only started scraping the surface, because we are in the earlier stages. But as you have all of your customers, partners, and suppliers accessing these application stores, as well as your employees, you can then target those individuals with appropriate information. Not necessarily marketing all the time, but appropriate information, if it’s for employees and partners and suppliers, and for the customers, certainly marketing and promotional activities could be tied in here as well.

Sochan: As Michele motioned, there is a really exciting rich trove of data and BI that you get, because now you can see what users are interested in. You see what they are browsing.

All of us are very familiar with the Amazon-like model, where you rate products and services. The exact same thing is now enabled in these branded app stores, where the users are in real time rating the number of stars for that application. More importantly, they are giving their comments about what they found useful and areas that they would like to see improvements, which creates this very exciting innovation cycle.

Where previously you had very complex monolithic applications that got delivered and had a couple of year cycle, now you're seeing bite-size pieces of innovation that gets immediate feedback from the end-users. The developer sees that feedback almost instantly and is able to immediately respond with either bug fixes or feature enhancements.

What’s really exciting to me is just how fast the innovation and that feedback loop happens that just spurs more innovation.

We have some great white papers that people can access from our website at, that will give very useful insights into some of the best leading practices in this area.
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