Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Creative Solutions in Healthcare improves client services and saves money using VMware vCloud Air hybrid cloud

The next BriefingsDirect innovator case study interview explores how a Texas healthcare provider has adopted cloud computing, and in doing so has both saved money and improved the quality of its many services.

Listen to the podcast. Find it on iTunes. Download the transcript.

 At the recent VMworld 2014 Conference in San Francisco, our moderator, Dana Gardner, Principal Analyst at Interarbor Solutions, interviewed Shawn Wiora, CIO at Creative Solutions in Healthcare in Fort Worth, Texas to learn more about the process of adopting cloud, and why cloud has benefited them as a complex organization.

Here are some excerpts:

Wiora: Creative Solutions in HealthCare is the largest independent owner and operator of skilled nursing facilities (SNFs), which are nursing homes, in the State of Texas. We also operate assisted-living facilities and we provide long-term care solutions, primarily in Texas.

We have about 6,000 employees. Many of them are nurses, and many of them are capturing data about our patients and our residents. Our residents are in the thousands and, as a private company, we're able to deliver solutions in the marketplace that are really geared toward lifestyle, care, nutrition, activities, and programs. That's why the company has been so successful -- we have this passionate care about our residents.

Gardner: Of course, healthcare is really changing in terms of how it's using IT and leveraging IT, and I suppose you're no different.

Wiora: That's exactly right. HealthCare has been ramping up in terms of IT, not only catching up with the industry, but in some cases, leading the forefront, especially when it comes to patient care and delivering innovative diagnosis and treatment programs over telemedicine and other types of electronic media.

Gardner:  Why has cloud computing been appealing to you with your requirements? What challenges were you trying to solve when you looked at the cloud model?

Going virtual

Wiora: It's an interesting story. About two years ago, the company was 100 percent physical in terms of its server infrastructure. Similar to many other long-term care facilities, we have to deliver new forms of compliance as it relates to HIPAA, the HITECH Act, and the NIST framework.

So if you take all those, in addition to the new apps that are being required of the organization, new types of health exchanges that we are involved with, the requirements were just escalating dramatically. So we started with a physical infrastructure and we looked at going virtual.

It was a wholesale change ramp-up. We took a big challenge by embarking on an initiative that allowed the company to go from physical to virtual, and at the same time, we went from premise-based to the cloud. We did that together.
Fortunately, we already had some really good experience with virtualization, but by no means did we have a program that was deploying across the server infrastructure. So we issued an RFP and we selected a group of vendors at the top of the pyramid. At that top was Azure, AWS, and VMware’s vCloud. We chose Microsoft Azure.
The team at the VMware understood what we were doing in terms of our timeline, our projects, and our applications that we are looking to move to the cloud.

We started a pilot with Azure, and it was really interesting. We're a Microsoft house, and the team chose Azure based on the fact that not only we were Microsoft house, but we had a number of initiatives that we wanted to move to the cloud, including Microsoft Exchange.

So, we started moving Exchange into the cloud with our Azure program. Then, we asked Microsoft to issue a document that indicated that they would support Exchange, their own software, in Azure, their own cloud, and guess what happened?

We did not get acknowledgment. Ultimately, they would not indicate that they would support their own software in their own cloud. We were flabbergasted. We just couldn't believe it.

We ended up pulling the plug on that project, on that initiative. We went back to the marketplace and we chose vCloud Air, and we quickly ramped up. That's the reason why this project has been so successful -- the ramp-up.

The team at the VMware understood what we were doing in terms of our timeline, our projects, and our applications that we are looking to move to the cloud. That's really where they differentiated, not only between Azure and AWS in terms of their on-boarding, because we did pilots on all those cloud infrastructures. VMware’s vCloud Air team had the best on-boarding process for any kind of IT project that I've been involved with in the past 20 years.

Had our back

It just really made the IT team at Creative Solutions in Healthcare, the company, just feel like those guys really had our back. They really cared about what was happening. They knew that we were under the gun, because we had done this Azure kind of cluster, and it was not even feasible for us to go down the path with our own infrastructure. It ended up being a great partnership.

Gardner: Shawn, tell me to what degree you're hybrid? Do you have an on-premises cloud virtualized set of applications? Do you have another set of applications? You've have opted to go into the public cloud, the vCloud Air. Is this something that you're still sorting out in terms of what goes where? How about the data? Is that also on-prem, and how you are factoring the hybrid approach?

Wiora: We're very deliberate with our cloud strategy. We started with a pilot of some core applications, got our feet wet in the cloud, and then we took that success that we had. Again, the on-boarding that we received in that process was really second to none.

That made the team feel very comfortable with moving other infrastructures. Now, we've moved our entire back-office infrastructure, our accounting, a number of custom apps, provisioning, and supply chain into the cloud with the vCloud Air.
That's what IT should be focused on: how do we ultimately deliver solutions that the other business units, and ultimately our patients, can appreciate.

We're are also in a hybrid environment, as you've indicated. We have servers throughout our facilities and servers at headquarters. We have other software-as-a-service (SaaS) models that we're interacting with. We're moving data from other providers back into our on-premise environment and then we're moving that into vCloud Air. There's a lot of hybrid going on right now.

Gardner: So that integration, management, and orchestration, being able to automate that, seems very important to you. You want to be able to set this up, have it run, and then devote your energy to all these new projects.

Wiora: Yes. That's really where the return is to the company, the shareholders, the board, and the management team. That's what IT should be focused on: How do we ultimately deliver solutions that the other business units, and ultimately our patients, can appreciate.

We're in the long-term care industry and we've been very successful in growing the company based on the passionate, caring model. The IT organization aligns its passion and care toward the patients.

Instead of being wrapped up with servers, virtualization, and all of the other things that VMware is the best at doing, we're outward-focused on the business units and the patients.

New product appeal

Who has more data than healthcare? There are some organizations that have a lot of data, but we track what our patients eat, what time they go to sleep, what they do during the day in terms of activity. We're talking each and every day across each and every facility, thousands of patients.
It is been game changing for the company. It is been game changing for our patients.

So VMware's Object Based storage is something that is in our future.

Gardner: So, one last area for adoption. You have talked about the on-boarding process, but there's also the end-user absorption of new approaches from IT. How this has gone in terms of your end users?

Have they noticed a change in the type of applications? Has it been something that they didn't notice? What's been that result at that end-user inception point when you made this transition to cloud?

Wiora: It is been game changing for the company. It is been game changing for our patients. Instead of being fearful about approaching IT, the business units are coming to IT, and they know that we can ramp up applications very quickly.

We just ramped up our maintenance application in a couple of days. In the past, that would have taken months of planning. The business unit laughed. They just looked at IT and said, "You have to be kidding. This is up and running already?"

Advice for others

Gardner: That's a strong testament. How about advice for other organizations that are beginning that RFP process, that are thinking about cloud, looking at the different approaches, the different providers? Any words of wisdom in hindsight that you could offer now that you have been through that process?

Wiora: Absolutely. Who wants to reinvent the wheel? If I'm looking at going to the cloud for the first time or if I am looking at enhancing my hybrid cloud environment, I would suggest you look at TCO.

Look at what your labor costs are. Look at who the A-Team is in the industry for virtualizing. Look at what the roadmaps are and look at which vendors really don't care what you put in your cloud infrastructure. There are vendors. as we talked about earlier, that really have the ability to approve or disapprove what you put in there.

I'd look at that, but you have to look at TCO and look at partnering with an organization that can help you easily ramp up. Then, I think you look at how you want to run your IT organization. If those things make sense to you, then I would suggest you look at vCloud.

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Wednesday, December 3, 2014

HP launches Haven OnDemand to deliver big data services suite in the cloud

The next BriefingsDirect big data news analysis discussion examines some major announcements made at the HP Discover conference this week, the debut of HP Haven OnDemand, a new set of analytics-in-the-cloud services.

Our panel of users and experts unpacks the details from Barcelona, and explores the implications of the delivery of cloud-based HP Vertica OnDemand and HP IDOL OnDemand components within the HP Haven OnDemand suite.

Listen to the podcast. Find it on iTunes. Download the transcript.

To learn more about how big data changes everything via these new HP cloud offerings, we're joined by Fernando Lucini, Chief Technology Officer for HP Big Data; Howard Brown, Founder and CEO of RingDNA, based in Los Angeles, and Neal Holley, Operations Director at GateWest New Media Ltd., based in Bristol, UK. The discussion is moderated by me, Dana Gardner, Principal Analyst at Interarbor Solutions.

Here are some excerpts:

Gardner: Fernando, we've heard quite a bit of news the last few days at the HP Discover 2014 Conference in Barcelona, and HP Software General Manager Robert Youngjohns delivered the details Tuesday about HP OnDemand. Let's look at this from the big picture. Why are data and analytics, combined with the cloud-hosting model and delivery model, such a good fit? Why is this an important milestone for the cloud?

Lucini: It's exciting in a number of ways. If you think about what we've launched, we recognized early that our customers, our partners, and developers out there were going to consume technologies in a new way. This is something that the industry all agreed on. We were just early birds in this and we recognized that it's all going to be about on-demand consumption, self-service, speed, elasticity, and all those nice things.

So in some respects, the industry wants to consume things in this fashion. We recognize it, and then the next step for us is to think about the people and what they're going to do with these kinds of services.

You can think about it in two different ways. You have the people out there in the real world who are creating applications on top of very rich information, and that's the mobile apps that we all use. It's the applications to look at both human information, as well as business information, or very structured information, creating applications that do that. We have that persona and we really wanted to make sure that that developer had all the right tools in that model on-demand, self-service.
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The other part of the equation is the world of the data warehouse, where we have very large amounts of information. We're traditionally applying analysis, but in this new generation, we need the tools that can do this at a bigger scale, can do it quicker, and can be more flexible. This is our Vertica technology and the same kind of on-demand, self-service needs are out there. So the second part of our answer to the question for industry is that we'll provide you an on-demand way to serve that particular purpose.

The announcement comes from a number of good reasons. It provides the market with an answer to both of these peoples' needs. It does so in an incredibly elastic fashion and it does it with incredible richness. It has quite a unique degree of depth and variety.

If you look at the IDOL OnDemand functionality, there are new APIs that you can explore and use with the freemium model.

If you look at the Vertica OnDemand space, it allows you to manage whatever size warehouse you need in an incredibly elastic and transparent way, but still on-demand.

There’s so much to tell. It’s such an exciting time for the industry, and being in HP, leading the charge, is pretty, pretty impressive and important.

Great importance

Gardner: Clearly, this isn't news just for one part of an IT organization. This seems to have a great importance for data scientists, IT operators, developers, even line of business users of business intelligence (BI).

So let's look at this a little bit from the perspective of the IT operator. This is something that's a cost issue in many respects and broadens the use of something like IDOL and Vertica to a much larger market. With it being in the cloud, you don't need to set up your data center and you don’t need to have those capital expenditures.

Let’s start at the top, where we're talking about this as a cloud model. Why does this broaden the market for data and analytics?

Lucini: Go back to this IT operator. This guy or gal has always wanted to provide their business with the tools. There was an element there where these guys want to provide the analysis capabilities, they want to have the ingestion and the features, but it’s a tough thing, as you very well put it. There is capital expenditure, maintenance, and training.

As the differentiator here, the move is that the acceleration is going to be immediate. Let’s use simple examples, I want to be able to take video and do face recognition, extract license plates, extract behaviors, or listen to voice and do something, I want to do that and I don’t want the burden of all the science that goes behind doing these things.
IT operators are going to be incredibly happy that they can provide the business with what the business needs at a lower cost and get outcomes quicker.

This IT operator is going to say, "No problem. Here’s the link. You pay this as you go. Enjoy." And that's as complex as it gets. So the acceleration is going to be immediate, which translates almost immediately to create more and more applications and doing more and more analysis, which is what we all want, at a lower cost point in shorter times.

IT operators are going to be incredibly happy that they can provide the business with what the business needs at a lower cost and get outcomes quicker.

Gardner: This should be of interest to large enterprises that might want to augment their current warehouse approach and strategy. It also sounds like for those organizations that may have been too small or didn’t have the budget to set up their own on-premises data warehouse, they now have an opportunity to walk right into a deep, powerful analytics capability.

Lucini: It democratizes the whole idea of analytics. You want to make it as democratic as possible. Size isn't necessarily important with regards to intelligence, interest, having something to say, or having something to analyze. It’s all about making it democratic, and the cloud really helps in that.

It's also about giving functionality that wasn't accessible to some of these guys. We're talking about very advanced analysis -- technologies for video, voice, or text analysis, let alone warehousing. It’s now available to everybody. They can go in there, test it out, play with it, see how valuable it is to them, and stop dreaming about the value, but make the value. Then, if that’s what they need, they can just start paying as they go and getting on with their lives.

General availability

Gardner: Let’s dig into a little of the details. HP announced Haven OnDemand on December 2, with general availability coming in Q1 2015, so pretty rapidly. Vertica, that’s the one that's coming up first and then IDOL OnDemand is currently available as a freemium model, as you mentioned, on an early access basis, but will be generally available in a few months later into 2015.

What else should we know about the pricing here? Why is this compelling not only as an OPEX versus a CAPEX, but with pricing that is very compelling and attractive.

Lucini: Indeed. In some respects, because you're removing the necessity to open the hardware and to scale it up, we're also providing economies of scale in what we're doing. In HP Cloud Services, we have an amazing cloud that we can go to elastically, and everybody gets advantage of this.

If you think about it, ultimately in one of these models, you get a lot of people come in, have a look, play, investigate, understand, and learn. Then, you get a smaller percentage that actually commit, do the greater applications, and run their warehouses.
You should be in a position where you understand exactly what you're using and what you are paying for it, and it should allow you to toggle back and forth on that need. It’s pretty cool.

It balances out and it allows us to have a lower price point. It also allows us to charge as we go. It allows us a pay-as-you-go model. It all works out. Over time, we'll understand more and more what people want. This is being done in a very collaborative fashion, listening to the market for on-demand.

In the very beginning, we have been very Net Promoter Score focused. I challenge anybody to get yourself a login, and you'll see the Net Promoter kick in.

All the analysis is very much linked to what you want to do, what’s important for you, what’s being used most, and what gives us the most economies. That drives us to be more competitive.

It’s very transparent. It’s very clean. You should be in a position where you understand exactly what you're using and what you are paying for it, and it should allow you to toggle back and forth on that need. It’s pretty cool.

Gardner: As for the actual cloud that this is running on, is there a choice with that or is this starting out on HP Helion Cloud, the HP public cloud. What's the roadmap for the public-cloud infrastructure that this operates on? 

Lucini: At the moment, this is running in HP Cloud Services, which is Helion based of course. It is all designed on top of Helion. So the roadmap for it in the next few courses will be that it will be deployed in any Helion implementation. As long as you have Helion, you can deploy the services underneath.

Of course, Helion is a flavor of OpenStack. So you have the ability to use this in other flavors of OpenStack, but we're principally focused on Helion. We're principally focused on the Public HP Cloud Services and the private Helion implementations with our colleagues from Enterprise Services.

No difference

In some respect in the next year it should be a choice for you to go public cloud for what you need to do. If you're a developer and you just want to create your own app, the private-versus-public doesn’t make a difference to you.

Corporate may want to use this inside a firewall. As you know, in HP we have some of the largest corporates out there. If you're one of these guys and have the need to have that privacy you can install Helion and run these services of top of Helion. Following the HP philosophy, it’s a matter of what the client requires and we'll achieve that.

Gardner: It sounds as if this has been made of, by, and for a hybrid cloud model over time.

Lucini: Correct. Most of our big customers are hybrid, and we're delighted to serve them.

In the meantime, as they o go into a mode of using this stuff on Helion inside of the firewall, they'll still get all the elasticity that Helion provides them. They'll still get all the simplicity that REST and Web Services OnDemand provides them, and the flexibility that Vertica OnDemand provides them for scalability In some respects, there is no downside. There is absolutely no downside to anything that’s happening here. It’s just a matter of choice.
In terms of pricing, I think we're competitive. The features and functions are worth the spend.

Gardner: We'll get to our use cases and the examples of how this is being used shortly, but I just want to look at the competitive landscape. A big player out there, of course, in the public cloud is Amazon Web Services, and Amazon has what’s called It's their data warehouse in the cloud. How does what HP has announced compare and contrast to Redshift? Why is it a worthy competitor and is this price comparable?

Lucini: Of course, guys out there and everybody listening might know Vertica is a leading product in the analytics space and in the warehousing space. So we're coming  at this already as a leader proven inside the firewall.

You get all of the economies, flexibility, and features that Vertica provides; the Flex Zones, all of the optimizations, and the incredible scaling growth factors; and you get it in an on-demand package.

Just because we now have an on-demand version, these things don’t go away. It's quite the opposite. They're immediately available. In that respect, I think we have a strong proposal against Redshift, because you have all the features and functions, not only just the database itself. 

In terms of pricing, I think we're competitive. The features and functions are worth the spend. Our customer base, our history, and our legacy certainly prove that to be the case. Little by little, more and more of the features will seep in, and more customers will start to get comfortable with using it. We already have a few out there in beta land.

We're going to compete. Because of the features, the Flex Zones and other things, we'll carve our own space as well.

What is the differentiator?

Gardner: One of the things that seems unique to me, Fernando, is the IDOL OnDemand being so broad in terms of the types of media, content, information, and data that can now be brought into what’s essentially the type of analytics engine you would only think of for structured information. So it's the best of the structured analytics and high-performance environment, with that breadth and depth of the various types of content. Is that a differentiator in your opinion?

Lucini: Absolutely. I call it everything on-demand. As you notice, I tend not to differentiate between BOD and IOD. The whole philosophy was that we deal with unstructured, structured, and semi-structured information every day to build what we need for our businesses. So why should we see this differently?

If I happen to have an image, it's an image. If I happen to have a file, it's a file. If I happen to have an Excel sheet, it's an Excel sheet. All of these things are materially important. So let’s give our application developer and our data analyst a way to consume all this.

We have the connectors in the cloud, ways for you to suck information into the platform. We have the ability for you to index them and analyze them. We have some protected APIs for you to have a play around with.
It's as broad in analytics as possible. At the same time, it's still market leading in every single one of those APIs.

We have text-mining APIs. Obviously, this is a platform for us. So even though we're using the word Vertica and IDOL, underneath IDOL OnDemand, we have Vertica powering some of our features for user management. All our billing and other APIs are coming up.

It's all about giving the application developer all the tools. What the data is, isn't necessarily important. What's important is that they can process it, use it, extract as much value from it as possible, and make their business successful.

So you are absolutely right. It's as broad data-wise as possible. It's as broad in analytics as possible. At the same time, it's still market leading in every single one of those APIs, which is pretty cool stuff.   
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Gardner: Now, when you're able to bring all sorts of information and media together, when you're able to tap web services, social media, when you're able to create a sentiment engine and a search engine capability, you're really starting to develop intelligence in new ways.

It seems to me, you can gain insight into markets, prospects, competition, customer inclinations, and directions. It's really about bringing more of a data-driven aspect to a business in ways that had really been sort of an art before, something that was not always by experience, but was by gut instinct.

Before we go to our use cases, how are we really changing a business environment here? Are we talking about a data-driven approach? Are we giving the type of tools that will move a marketing organization, for example, from guesswork into a scientific approach to how they make decisions?

Testing instincts

Lucini: You put it very nicely. We're moving into a world where we're allowing instincts to be tested, and tested quickly. In the past, we had a lot of clever professionals in the marketing world making educated guesses about what’s going on, what I like and don’t like, what you like and don’t like, or what’s popular and what’s not.

We're opening the door for businesses to take data, take a sample of it or take it all, it's their choice, whatever that may be, and in whatever varieties they come, to test out their theories, to see if this theory is correct.

I used to call it the CIO conundrum, where the CIO thinks they've got something and it becomes very difficult for them to prove if they do or don’t, and then they question the results when they get them.

We want them to be able to test this out. If they have an opportunity with their voice data and they think there's massive value in the voice data and they want to cross-correlate it to the social presence, do it, and let the data speak for itself.
It's very exciting stuff, because there is a real change in the industry, and we all have to adapt to it.

It's now no longer difficult. Just go into the platform, put the voice in there, put the text in there, use the analytics tools, give us our enterprise resource planning (ERP) warehouse. We'll do the queries and we'll create what we call combinations -- which is everything coming together as one -- and test the value.

Now, it no longer matters that this is not a very large project with very large budget. It will prove out the case. We have a next generation of proving things out and being capable of proving things out.

That might lead you to a very interesting onsite project with our tools, where you're inside a firewall, but you have proven it out. Or it might take you to a very interesting on-demand implementation. Either way you perform the testing or the proving or the thinking in a much more practical way.

It's very exciting stuff, because there is a real change in the industry, and we all have to adapt to it.

Gardner: Let's learn how some people have been using this already to change their business. Let's go first to RingDNA. Howard Brown, tell us a little bit about your company, what you do, and then how you've been using Haven OnDemand from HP?

Brown: RingDNA is a comprehensive sales acceleration platform that allows companies to create high-performance sales teams by combining powerful communications tools with prospect or customer DNA. That's a combination of marketing data, social data, customer relationship management (CRM) data, and account history, and pulling that all together to allow a sales rep to perform sales faster.

Data for inside sales

Gardner: It’s almost as if you're putting the tools of a data scientist in the hands of a salesperson without them having to be a scientist, to get all sorts of information to make the best call on a call in real-time on an inside sales basis.

Brown: You've got it. It's applying a scientific approach to sales. It's taking all of the data that exists out there which can be truly overwhelming, prioritizing it, and making it contextual to make sales much more effective.

Gardner: And this cuts across communications, as well as data, applications, and web services. Is that correct?

Brown: Absolutely. We apply both a theory-testing model and set of communication tools. When a RingDNA customer walks in in the morning, they know exactly who they should be calling, who they should be emailing or texting, and prioritizing the messages so that they know exactly who to call, how to reach out to them,  and what to say.
What HP IDOL OnDemand has provided us is the ability to test all kinds of theories, because every business we work with tends to have a different theory of what a hot prospect may be.

What’s so exciting is that you can start to understand buyer intent from marketing data from past interactions with your customers. We can look at voice transcripts and sentiment analysis and have a whole new way of determining who the right prospect is, how we should be contacting them, and with what messages.

Gardner: So it's up to your organization to take the best of technology, data, and analytics and empower those inside salespeople. It sounds like it's been up to HP to take the best of its technology in the cloud model and analysis to empower you. How, in fact, has HP empowered RingDNA with your early access use of HP Haven OnDemand?

Brown:  It's been truly game-changing. You nailed it when you talked abut taking business information and human information and combining those two. What HP IDOL OnDemand has provided us is the ability to test all kinds of theories, because every business we work with tends to have a different theory of what a hot prospect may be.

They can simply and easily test those theories using RingDNA and HP IDOL OnDemand. If there are buying signals, like someone visiting a website and downloading a whitepaper in combination with other factors, such as that person viewing web pages or maybe tweeting about their product or service, we can look at that buyer’s sentiment through HP IDOL OnDemand.

We're taking a bunch of this data, processing it through IDOL, and making our reps that much more productive and that much more powerful.

Gardner: One of the things you're doing is you are joining and bringing together very disparate data and information and tidbits of analysis. Is HP IDOL OnDemand doing that for you? Are you doing that? How do you make those joins that bring all that information together? Is the cloud the key to doing that?

Cloud is key

Brown: The cloud certainly is the key. We couldn’t deliver the type of product and service we do today without the cloud. RingDNA is all about accelerating a sales team’s ability to close deals. The last thing you want is to negatively impact those teams.

The cloud model means we can quickly implement a RingDNA process within an organization, bring in all that contextual data, bring in all that metadata, and make that rep that much more productive without negatively impacting their workflow.That’s critical to any business today.

It’s one thing to be able to deliver information. It’s another thing to be able to deliver information and insight without negatively impacting the business. Let's face it, in this  day and age, we can’t afford to slow down. With tools like IDOL OnDemand and RingDNA, you’re not slowing down teams. You're actually accelerating them beyond what you ever thought was possible.

Gardner: Fernando, as you're listening to Howard, is there anything about the way that RingDNA is using Haven OnDemand that you think highlights some specific benefits or values here. Are they a poster child for a certain type of way in which you can use Haven OnDemand?
With IDOL OnDemand coming on stream, we’ve found that we had a whole world of options opened up to us.

Lucini: Certainly they understand that they need to use tools to solve their problems and they go ahead and do it. In that respect, it’s great to see. There are a bunch of things we could learn as an industry from them in terms of seeing the opportunity of mixing two pieces of data, how these things collide, and how we get them to customers. I would challenge anybody to check them out because ultimately the end result is key, and I think everybody would be impressed.

Gardner: Let’s go to our next example. We're also joined by GateWest and Neal Holley. Neal, tell us a little bit about GateWest, what you do, and how you’ve been using HP Haven OnDemand.

Holley: We're HP Autonomy partners and have been since about 2002. During that time, we have deployed and maintained many IDOL-based systems. We provide a lot of support services to our clients on an annual basis. We also provide user interfaces to the core engine, our internal development team.

As well as enterprise search, we also specialize in knowledge management (KM). We have a couple of products addressing the management of knowledge, particularly within law firms, and recently we launched an application for the iTunes App Store providing mobile access to IDOL OnDemand, and we see this part of our strategy of what we’ve termed Mobile KM.

Gardner: Tell me a bit more about the iTunes App Store app. What is it called, and how did you use IDOL OnDemand to build it?

Holley: The app is called KnowGate and it was developed in direct response to the offering of IDOL OnDemand. Over the years, we’ve found that IDOL on-premise had a large cost of entry. Obviously, with IDOL OnDemand coming on stream, we’ve found that we had a whole world of options opened up to us. We were very surprised how straightforward it was to take the standard tools for producing the iPhone apps and iPad apps and interface them with IDOL OnDemand.

Great performer

It’s given us that opportunity to bring the technology that we've worked with for so many years and found to be such a great performer and hold the audience that we’ve always wanted to bring it to. The offering has allowed us to do that through its low cost of entry. As Fernando said, it’s democratizing the tools of the very large corporates that we've traditionally worked for.

Gardner: Help me to better understand this. There is no easier way to adopt a technology than to download it for a few dollars from the app store and instantly fire it up on your mobile device. If I were to download that app today, what would I be able to do with it? Who is the typical user? What is the function that that they would gather from it?

Holley: The typical user is predominantly a business user. The first instance is that you would be able to access your KM, your valuable documents or your key information that you need whether in a law firm, or whether it's engineering specifications or your latest contracts.

That’s the first element of it. The second element is being able to actually capture knowledge while on the move and being able to take information from an email or take a photograph of a document, OCR it, and then be able to ingest that into IDOL OnDemand and share it with the rest of your organization.
So it really opens up that kind of ability, and of course, once it’s shared it becomes valuable.

So it really opens up that kind of ability, and of course, once it’s shared it becomes valuable.

Gardner: Very interesting. Fernando, we're seeing with GateWest, this joining of the cloud model with the mobile model. How is that accelerating the use of analytics? That is to say, an application that can gather data and information and extend it to the cloud and then the cloud can create an analytics value and then send it back to that mobile device? How are you seeing that as a powerful new way of broadening the use and value of analytics in general?

Lucini: If you think about it, mobility is everywhere. We all create mobility and mobility apps for everything you have. I'm sure you guys walk around with a mobile device.

We have to be very clear that all of our consumers, even if it's enterprise-consumers versus consumer-consumers, all become little data analysts. We're all much better versed on information than we ever were.

Now you see 18 year-old kids or 20 year-old kids coming out of university and their ability to manage information in their devices, in their environment, is incredible. You no longer have a situation where you can associate analytics from mobile.

Mobile apps are mostly about analytics with some description, certainly about adding value to the data that a user asks you to create it. When I say "create it," I mean create it indirectly, create it by the motion on your wrist, versus you directly writing something down. So you get these two sources of data.

But it's certainly now such a rich space. Let me give you an example. You can take what's coming out of the back of a device, which is probably machine-driven, all the stuff that really the machine produces. You can put that in Vertica OnDemand and that will be your warehouse for doing the analysis on that: What am I doing, when, how, for how long, all that kind of jazz.

Creating context

At the same time, I'm producing the information directly from my mind. I'm creating context, I'm writing, I'm speaking, or I'm recording, whatever the case may be. Now, IDOL OnDemand can deal with that.

Anybody creating a mobile app is not going to want to have a hard server-based infrastructure, because the whole point of mobility is that it is distributed. It is a distributed computing model.

Those are kind of solutions that are on demand, in the cloud, elastic, pay-as-you-go kind of things. They're perfect for this generation, whether it's enterprise or not. The kind of partners we have are guys who understand that their intelligence and the value they add is not necessarily that they know a tool, but that they are the experts in their space and they know how to balance Vertica OnDemand.

I have my machine or business information and I need to do something important with that. I have my human information and anything in between, and it's the understanding of how this information adds values to people’s lives and how they execute them that’s he key.
The beauty of our OnDemand infrastructure is that it was created for everyone. It was created for our customers and it was created for ourselves.

So it's a really important moment. Mobile is the linchpin of much of what's going on around this that makes sense. If you look at any company today, there's no chance that they won't have a mobile intent.

At the same time, we have a lot of hackathons in OnDemand. I can tell you that 90 percent of the products that are created as a result of hackathons are mobile. It kind of speaks for itself.

Gardner: I know. The combination of the cloud-delivery model, analysis on demand, or as a service and the mobile device is just creating entirely new opportunities to add value as a consumer and as a company. It's really flipping many businesses around.

Let’s look at a particular business when we think about the impact of this new series of models and how they interact. I'm thinking about the IT organization in a company, in an enterprise.

With HP Software having a very broad portfolio of applications, many of which are designed and geared towards those IT organizations and developer organizations in companies, how can Haven OnDemand with that analysis-as-a-service capability be brought to bear on other HP software applications focused on IT organizations?

Lucini: The beauty of our OnDemand infrastructure is that it was created for everyone. It was created for our customers and it was created for ourselves. Not to unveil too many wonderful things, but there will be a number of announcements of our own tools, which will be powered by OnDemand. And we made a distinction of what is on demand versus what we call core. It’s our language to speak about our internal use versus our external use.

Organizational tools

These are tools that help the IT organizations.We have tools for backup, where the on-demand model will add great flexibility to what the IT operators can do with the information and how they can serve the legal compliance and partner infrastructures.

We have uses of OnDemand for a wider HP software family where they provide analytics, both for security as well as operational systems, and things like that. So it's a very democratic tool. We recognize that the world of information pivots on two things, and that’s why we created a platform.

It pivots on our ability to incredibly scale up and analyze structured information and semi-structured information. That’s why we have a Vertica core engine. We recognize that human beings create information and so we have our IDOL infrastructure.

And it's these two things together that every single one of our internal partners, IT, our own software product that tender to IT as well as external customers only to leverage this product. And then in some cases it goes very heavily one way, or very heavily another, you have a very, very strong warehouse.
All of our internal partners look at us and say that they're coming at it either from very human or from very machine, or actually in most cases, both.

You always have that road-map of possibility to get you to the other side, either more heavily toward IDOL or Vertica. You can really start, for example, with a Vertica OnDemand warehousing cloud, make it super-flexible, and put information in Flex Zones, really massage that data, don’t be upset by schemas,  and then work as you go, and scale up.

At the same time, think of what if you need some enrichment, what if you need to take some information that’s coming in and asking to say take in your social feed. So I need to take a voice feed and text information, classify it, and put it into my Flex Zones. That is available, and in the opposite direction, it’s exactly the same.

All of our internal partners look at us and say that they're coming at it either from very human or from very machine, or actually in most cases, both. This is the roadmap to get them to take advantage of both in the same platform. So you can see, it's very, very compelling for our internal partners to use, and we are delighted to serve them.

Gardner: I'm seeing a great deal of flexibility on the applicability of this. We've seen from RingDNA how this can help an inside sales organization do things they just could never have done before.

We have seen from GateWest how this is essential to bringing knowledge management and document management to a whole new level by combining the best of cloud and mobile devices.

Then, as you're now saying, we're only scratching the surface about how IT organizations can use the cloud and the analytics as a service for improving their application lifecycle management, their business service management, or their application development test. So it's really an exciting time.

I'm afraid we are about out of time for today’s discussion, but there's a lot more that people can learn at in terms of Haven OnDemand. Let’s just end with one more peek into the future. Fernando, what might we expect next? Where do you think Haven OnDemand will go in the near future in terms of a new type of business value?

Disrupting markets

Lucini: Let me just say that we're going to disrupt a bunch of markets. We're going to be looking to take over some markets out there that have been very traditionally on premise and we're going to try to democratize it. You can guess that we're going to take the world of video and voice and we are going to make that very democratic.

There are going to be lots of interesting things coming out where we're going to allow our customers to create their own APIs and extend the platform themselves. So there is a lot of that to look forward to.
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We'll also be extending our Vertica OnDemand presence, getting more-and-more customers in there and getting more modes, using more of our Vertica technology to add functionality in a REST kind of way, in a web-service kind of way to the on-demand picture, and adding more and more APIs just to reflect the richness of a platform. So it's clear to everyone that this is only the beginning of an amazing story. So there are quite a lot of APIs, but there are many, many more to come. So there is quite a lot to look forward to.

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Monday, December 1, 2014

Hortonworks accelerates the big data mashup between Hadoop and HP Haven

This latest BriefingsDirect deep-dive big data thought leadership interview examines how Hortonworks is working with HP on improved management of very large -- and very active -- datasets.

We'll explore how HP and Hortonworks are integrating Hadoop into more of the HP Haven family to make it easier for developers and data scientists to access business intelligence (BI) and analytics as a service.

Listen to the podcast. Find it on iTunes. Read a full transcript or download a copy. 

To learn how, BriefingsDirect sat down with Mitch Ferguson, Vice President of Business Development at Hortonworks at the recent HP Big Data 2014 Conference in Boston. The discussion is moderated by me, Dana Gardner, Principal Analyst at Interarbor Solutions.

Here are some excerpts:

Gardner: We heard the news earlier this year about HP taking a $50-million stake in Hortonworks, and then about Hortonworks' IPO plans. Please fill us in little bit about why Hortonworks and HP are coming together.

Ferguson: There are two core parts to that answer. One is that the majority of Hadoop came out of Yahoo. Hortonworks was formed by the major Hadoop engineers at Yahoo moving to Hortonworks. This was all in complete corporation with Yahoo to help evolve the technology faster. We believe the ecosystem around Hadoop is critical to the success of Hadoop and critical to the success of how enterprises will take advantage of big data.

If you look at HP, a major provider of technology to enterprises, both at the compute and storage level but the data management level, the analytics level, the systems management level, and the complimentary nature of Hadoop as part of the modern data architecture with the HP hardware and software assets provides a very strong foundation for enterprises to create the next generation modern data architecture.

Gardner: I'm hearing a lot about the challenges of getting big data into a single set or managing the large datasets.
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Users are also trying to figure out how to migrate from SQL or other data stores into Hadoop and into HP Vertica. It’s a challenge for them to understand a roadmap. How do you see these datasets as they grow larger, and we know they will, in terms of movement and integration? How is that path likely to unfold?
Machine data

Ferguson: Look at the enterprises that have been adapting Hadoop. Very early adopters like eBay, LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter are generating significant amounts of machine data. Then we started seeing large enterprises, aggressive users of technology adopt it.

One of the core things is that the majority of data being created everyday in an enterprise is not coming from traditional enterprise resource planning (ERP) or customer relationship management (CRM) financial management systems. It's coming from websites like Clickstream, data, log data, or sensor, data. The reason there is so much interest in Hadoop is that it allows companies to cost effectively capture very large amounts of data.

Then, you begin to understand patterns across semi-structured, structured, and unstructured data to begin to glean value from that data. Then, they leverage that data in other technologies like Vertica, analytics technologies, or even applications or move the data back into the enterprise data warehouse.

As a major player in this Hadoop market, one of the core tenets of the company was that the ecosystem is critical to the success of Hadoop. So, from day one, we’ve worked very closely with vendors like Microsoft, HP, and others to optimize how their technologies work with Hadoop.

SQL has been around for a long time. Many people and enterprises understand SQL. That's a critical access mechanism to get data out of Hadoop. We’ve worked with both HP and Microsoft. Who knows SQL better than anyone? Microsoft. We're trying to optimize how SQL access to Hadoop can be leveraged by existing tools that enterprises know about, analytics tools, data management tools, whatever.

That's just one way that we're looking at leveraging existing integration points or access mechanisms that enterprises are used to, to help them more quickly adopt Hadoop.
The technology like Hadoop is optimized to allow an enterprise to capture very, very large amounts of that data.

Gardner: But isn’t it clear that what happens in many cases is that they run out of gas with a certain type of database and that they seek alternatives? Is that not what's driving the market for Hadoop?

Ferguson: It's not that they're running out of gas with an enterprise data warehouse (EDW) or relational database. As I said earlier, it's the sheer amount of data. By far, the majority of data is not coming from those traditional ERP,  CRM, or transactional systems. As a result, the technology like Hadoop is optimized to allow an enterprise to capture very, very large amounts of that data.

Some of that data may be relevant today. Some of that data may be relevant three months or six months from now, but if I don't start capturing it, I won't know. That's why companies are looking at leveraging Hadoop.

Many of the earlier adopters are looking at leveraging Hadoop to drive a competitive advantage, whether they're providing a high level of customer service, doing things more cost-effectively than their competitors, or selling more to their existing customers.

The reason they're able to do that is because they're now being able to leverage more data that their businesses are creating on a daily basis, understanding that data, and then using it for their business value.

More than size

Gardner: So this is an alternative for an entirely new class of data problem for them in many cases, but there's more than just the size. We also heard that there's interest in moving from a batch approach to a streaming approach, something that HP Vertica is very popular around.

What's the path that you see for Hortonworks and for Hadoop in terms of allowing it to be used in more than a batch sense, perhaps more toward this streaming and real-time analytics approach?

Ferguson: That movement is under way. Hadoop 1.0 was very batch-oriented. We're now in 2.0 and it's not only batch, but interactive and also real-time, and there's a common layer within Hadoop.  Hortonworks is very influential in evolving this technology. It's called YARN. Think of it as a data operating system that is part of Hadoop, and it sits on top of the file system.

Via YARN, applications or integration points, whether they're for batch oriented applications, interactive integration, or real-time like streaming or Spark, are access mechanisms. Then, those payloads or applications, when they leverage Hadoop, will go through these various batch interactive, real-time integration points.

They don't need to worry about where the data resides within Hadoop. They'll get the data via their batch real-time interactive access point, based on what they need. YARN will take advantage of moving that data in and out of those applications. Streaming is just one way of moving data into Hadoop. That's very common for sensor data. It’s also a way to move it out. SQL is a way, among others, to move data.
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Gardner: So this is giving us choice about how to manage larger scales of data. We're seeing choice about the way in which we access that data. There's also choice around the type of the underlying infrastructure to reduce costs and increase performance. I am thinking about in-memory or columnar.

What is there about the Hadoop community and Hortonworks, in particular, that allows you to throw the right horsepower at the problem?

Ferguson: It was very important, from Hortonworks perspective from day one, to evolve the Hadoop technology as fast as possible. We decided to do everything in open source to move the technology very quickly and leverage the community effective open-source, meaning lots of different individuals helping to evolve this technology fast.

The ability for the ecosystem to easily and optimally integrate with Hadoop is important. So there are very common integration points. For example, for systems management, there is the Ambari Hadoop services integration point.

Whether it's an HP OpenView or System Center in the Microsoft world, that allows it to leverage, manage, or monitor Hadoop along with other IT assets that those management technologies integrate with.

Access points

Then there's SQL's access via Hive, an access point to allow any technology that integrates or understands SQL to access Hadoop.

Storm and Spark are other access points. So, common open integration points well understood by the ecosystem are really designed to help optimize how various technologies at the virtualization layer, at the operating system layer, data movement, data management, access layer can optimally leverage Hadoop.

Gardner: One of the things that I hear a lot from folks who don't understand yet how things will unfold, is where data and analytics applications align with the creation of other applications or services, perhaps in a cloud setting like a platform as a service (PaaS).

It seems to me that, at some point, more and more application development will be done through PaaS with an associated or integrated cloud. We're also seeing a parallel trajectory here with the data, along the same lines of moving from traditional systems of record into relational, and now into big data and analytics in a cloud setting. It makes a lot of sense.
What a number of people are doing with this concept is called the data lake. They're provisioning large Hadoop clusters on prem, moving large amounts of data into this data lake.

I talked to lot of people about that. So the question, Mitch, is how do we see a commingling and even an intersection between the paths of PaaS in general application development and PaaS in BI services, or BI as a service, somehow relating?

Ferguson: I'll answer that question in two ways. One is about the companies that are using Hadoop today, and using it very aggressively. Their goal is to provide Hadoop as a service, irrespective of whether it's on premises or in the cloud.

Then we'll talk about what we see with HP, for example, with their whole cloud strategy, and how that will evolve into a very interesting hybrid opportunity and maybe pure cloud play.

When you think about PaaS in the cloud, the majority of enterprise data today is on premises. So there's a physics issue of trying to run all of my big data in the cloud. As a result, what a number of people are doing with this concept is called the data lake. They're provisioning large Hadoop clusters on premises, moving large amounts of data into this data lake.

That's providing data as a service to those business units that need data in Hadoop -- structured, semi-structured, unstructured for new applications, for existing analytics processes, for new analytics processes -- but they're providing effectively data as a service, capturing it all in this data lake that continues to evolve.

Think about how companies may want to leverage then a PaaS. It's the same thing on premises. If my data is on premises, because that's where the physics requires that, I can leverage various development tools or application frameworks on top of that data to create new business apps. About 60 percent of our initial sales at Hortonworks are new business applications by an enterprise. It’s business and IT being involved.

Leveraging datasets

Within the first five months, 20 percent of those customers begin to migrate to the data-lake concept, where now they are capturing more data and allowing other business entities within the company to leverage these datasets for additional applications or additional analytics processes. We're seeing Hadoop as a service on premises already. When we move to the cloud, we'll begin to see more of a hybrid model.

We are already starting to see this with one of Hortonworks large partners, where you put archive data from on premises to store in the cloud at low-cost storage. I think HP will have that same opportunity with Hadoop and their cloud strategy.

Already, through an initiative at HP, they're providing Hadoop as a service in the cloud for those entities that would like to run Hadoop in a managed service environment.
We're seeing Hadoop as a service on prem already. When we move to the cloud, we'll begin to see more of a hybrid model.

That’s the first step of HP beginning to provide Hadoop in a managed service environment off premises. I believe you'll begin to see that migrate to on-prem/off-prem integration in a hybrid opportunity in the some companies as their data moves off prem. They just want to run all of their big-data services or have Hadoop as a service running completely in HP cloud, for example.

Gardner: So, we're entering in an era now where we're going to be rationalizing how we take our applications as workloads, and continue to use them either on premises, in the cloud, or hybrid. At the same time, over on the side, we're thinking along the same lines architecturally with our data, but they're interdependent.

You can’t necessarily do a lot with the data without applications, and the applications aren’t as valuable without access to the analytics and the data. So how do these start to come together? Do you have a vision on that yet? Does HP have a vision? How do you see it?

Ferguson: The Hadoop market is very young. The vision today is that companies are implementing Hadoop to capture data that they're just letting fall on the floor. Now, they're capturing it. The majority of that data is on premises. They're capturing that data and they're beginning to use it in new a business applications or existing analytics processes.
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As they begin to capture that data, as they begin to develop new applications, and as vendors like HP working in combination with Hortonworks provide the ability to effectively move data from on premises to off premises and provide the ability to govern where that data resides in a secure and organized fashion, you'll begin to see much tighter integration of new business or big-data applications being developed on prem, off prem, or an integration of the two. It won't matter.

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Monday, November 24, 2014

HP simplifies Foundation Care Services to deliver just-in-time, pan-IT tech support

Much of the attention to coping with mega IT challenges such as cloud, bring your own device (BYOD), mobile applications, and big data focuses on adoption and implementation strategy. Yet the added complexity and requirements of how to support these technologies once they are in place has now also become top of mind.

So how do enterprises deliver improved user experiences, leverage new reactive support tools and diagnostics, and increasingly rely on self-help and automation to keep their far-flung systems and services fully functional?

 Listen to the podcast. Find it on iTunes. Read a full transcript or download a copy.

BriefingsDirect recently sat down with an HP Technology Services Executive to chart a better path to simplified, just-in-time, and pan-IT support improvements -- despite dynamic and complex IT environments. Lou Berger, Vice President of Technology Services Enablement and Readiness in the HP Enterprise Group, took some questions from me, Dana Gardner, Principal Analyst at Interarbor Solutions.

Here are some excerpts:

Gardner: What are some of the key trends and drivers that are impacting the reactive IT support services market?

Berger: Data center managers and CIOs are entrusted with managing the current legacy environment they have while transitioning to address all the new trends: cloud, mobile, big data, and BYOD. They're all asking the data center to change and transform to address these things.

These new workloads are different, requiring new infrastructure and new strategies that are unpredictable. They're changing quickly -- and in the largest, hybrid cloud, with increased complexity. Hosting versus the legacy infrastructure is impacting the decisions and the requirements CIOs have to manage in their environments. This is obviously giving them more choices, but also adding more complexity.

The current state of affairs for a CIO is a very complex mix of technologies, supporting the old, while developing the new. They have new solutions that they're building on their own. They're buying solutions, converging their infrastructure, and really being asked to make choices now that are going to lead them into the future.

Gardner: And is this the case, Lou, for both enterprises as well as SMBs? Is there any difference between those two markets when it comes to IT support?

Impactful decisions

Berger: Not at all. The decisions are the same. The SMBs are looking to the future to save and optimize their environment and making the same exact decisions that the enterprises are making. Perhaps they're moving at different speeds, some more agile and innovative than others, but everybody is being forced to make the same decision.

Gardner: It seems that expectations have changed. End-users, from their consumer devices or at-home systems, are used to getting rapid support and help. Have the expectations of the end-user shifted?

Berger: In the new world, always-on is really the keyword, and data center managers' service-level agreements (SLAs) with their customers, the end-user, are at a much higher level. Access is always expected to be there for the full community of users, from the developers, to the actual customers, and then the end-users on the outside. The world today is 24x7 and with all the changes happening at the same time, they need to support that environment.

Gardner: So we're all adapting, we're all changing, and HP has adapted and changed as well. Maybe you could fill us in a little bit at a high level of what has changed with Foundation Care Services, and then also how reactive support fits into a wider panoply of all support choices?
We totally revamped our portfolio about two years ago to really enable this new style of IT.

Berger: At HP, we took a hard look at our service portfolio, not only Foundation Care, but across the whole portfolio, and we looked at how we were addressing customers’ needs in the current environment, and how we needed to look forward as the world was changing to meet the needs we just discussed. We totally revamped our portfolio about two years ago to really enable this new style of IT.

The first thing we did was simplify. CIOs have to make very difficult choices based on meeting the SLAs of the customers, of the environment, of each solution and each component of that solution, and then balance that against the cost of those things. We took a look at and simplified our portfolio.

The first thing was simplify it to make the choices easier for the CIOs. We broke the portfolio into three basic portfolio items. One was Foundation Care, the base of all service, the reactive parts of the service, the first decision the CIO has to make.

Second was adding Proactive Care, the ability for CIOs to add and make the decision of how much proactive support they wanted to add for the specific environment and the solutions they were building.

Finally, built on that, Datacenter Care, which combines all the options that we can make available to a customer to tailor to their specific needs for either their solutions or environment.

Simplifying support

When we talk about Foundation Care, we looked at our portfolio and we realized it was extremely complex for something that seems simple as reactive support. We had over 18 offerings that we were making available for customers, adding confusion to the decision-making process. Then finally we looked at our SLAs to them, and how they combined that in combination to manage complex environments.

In our new Foundation Care portfolio, we've narrowed it down to five offerings only, with three response choices for the customer to decide. This way, a customer can make very easy choices to understand the more fundamental decisions they need to make on reactive support -- what response time they want, what coverage window they want, and the length of term they want for that service before they review for renewal. It's a very simple decision-making practice.

We then took a look at our Foundation Care, and what customers required to manage those environments and made those things available through our call centers and our portals. So customers can understand very easily on a component level or across their environment what’s available through the services they've already been provided and with the SLA we have with them, so they can manage their environments.

There's an ability to be able to use their mobility tools to assess and understand exactly the state of their environments or the devices that they have connected to us and our support that we highly recommend because of the value it brings.
We removed complexity and we provided management and operational tools for customers to use on this foundational service.

So we removed complexity and we provided management and operational tools for customers to use on this foundational service.

Gardner: This sounds like it aligns very well to some of these trends we mentioned -- consumer behavior and expectations. Many people like the idea of self-help, of getting the right information that they can act on. Of course, they like to get it on a mobile device, which gives them flexibility and that 24x7 ability to track and manage.

Lou, one of the things that seems different nowadays is the ability for automation to play a larger role. How are your customers and HP adjusting to trying to automate some of these things, maybe through alerts and notifications, maybe through remote access in understanding systems regardless of where they are? What's the newest on that level, that automation capability?

Berger: As you know, HP has always invested heavily in the connected devices, the ability for us to securely connect to a customer’s environment, each one of those devices, and monitor. For those devices that we monitor this way, our time-to-repair is significantly faster than a straight call-in with no device.

That connectivity allows us to do much more than that. It allows us to communicate information that we're capturing for the customer to actually see, using mobility devices, on the health and the state of devices themselves and, in many cases, the configuration.

It allows us to understand failures, repair them quickly on behalf of customers, and notify customers of an issue so that we can work with them to repair.

Connected experience

These tools allow us to understand the state of their environment. So as we move up the proactive stack, we can help them understand and do preemptive maintenance, understanding what recommendations we make based on the devices, on doing upgrades to firmware and software, of the compatibility among the environment, of the key parts of the environment to the whole solution, and help make recommendations and keep their devices healthy.

The connected world is a key part of our strategy in helping customers manage through the complexity of new environments. Of course, the information we track becomes available to customers to help them manage their environments independently, both their SLAs, their contractual information, and the broader environment.

Gardner: And not only are we dealing with rapid change and complexity, but heterogeneity remains with us, as it has all along. When we talk about doing this support with updates, patches, and firmware, we are not just talking about one company or one vendor. We're talking about whatever your environment has and whatever you need. Is that not correct?

Berger: That’s very correct. When HP develops a compatibility matrix, these are the things we apply in helping customers be preemptive and make the decisions on the best way of managing their environment and staying up-to-date in the healthiest way.
Our connectivity is highly secure. It's been tested, agreed, and approved across every tier of business and every type of business.

Gardner: So you would be able to cover the entire fabric of your environment, not just parts and pieces, and that’s essential? You can’t have those cracks where things fall between or where patches don’t get made. That’s where these real problems can arise.

I have to also imagine, Lou, that this has the interest of the security and the governance, risk and compliance (GRC) people. This is another way for them to get assurance that things will continue not only performing, but performing securely. How does GRC and security fit into the services portfolio?

Berger: First -- and it's most relevant when we talk about security -- our connectivity is highly secure. It's been tested, agreed, and approved across every tier of business and every type of business, from the financial industries, to the government agencies. These have set the bar very high for security. So you can rest assured that our connectivity is a very secure and comfortable connection.

The compliance of environments in this new world is imperative. As CIOs make the decision at each product, at the solution, or at the environment, and how they meet their SLAs, they make the decision on how many proactive elements they want to add to that support. Providing these types of reports, or an enhanced call experience, across the environment, rather than at the piece level, adds to our ability to and the customer’s ability to manage environment to those compliance levels.

Again, the goal of the new portfolio was to simplify and make clear what each level of the portfolio gave in deliverables, and how that translates to value and the ability for the CIO to make these decisions and then meet their compliance requirements.

We stage our portfolio in a way that allows CIOs to make the right decisions to meet their compliance and security needs at the optimum cost for them.

Information is key

Gardner: So a key to good support, of course, is getting the right information to the right people in the right time-frame. We've talked a bit about the timing being very rapid, and the means to get that information being somewhat automated, with more mobility. But the information is still key.

So how do we improve the information flow? I understand the HP Support Center has been revamped to a certain degree as well. So that part of the equation, the information, is also rich, up-to-date, and easily available?

Berger: At a Foundation Care-level support, a customer has the option to only call the call center on a problem to be fixed and get the full support experience that comes from there. They also have access to our product pages, where they get specific information, access to our drivers, software and firmware, and the ability to download software, firmware and drivers on their own, which often includes both fixes and new features and functionality.

They have the ability to search the HP Support Center, which has all the content repositories for answers to support questions; guided troubleshooting, which provides step-by-step ability for our customers to self-heal themselves. And the Support Community, and our HP Forums allows our customers to interact with peers and learn how others dealt with issues and best practices.
In addition, we have 24x7 chat from our HP Support Specialists, which is available either from the mobile app or from a PC.

You have the Support Case Manager, where a customer can call in at any time and understand exactly what the state of open cases is. So if a case is in progress of being fixed, they can call in. Or they can use the mobile app, which allows automated updates.

In addition, we have 24x7 chat from our HP Support Specialists, which is available either from the mobile app or from a PC. And the full suite of solutions and technical manuals that are available to a customer for support.

Gardner: Of course, HP being a global company that means that these services are available around the world, with localization issues managed. What’s the breadth and depth in terms of that applicability to different markets and different languages?

Berger: HP’s greatest strength for a global customer is it's 24x7 worldwide support. We have Support Centers in every region. We have local language support for all our customers in every country necessary. We have the full suite of access and the same customer experience in any place in the world. That is the strength of HP.

Gardner: Okay, we've talked a lot about what it does. I think it's always great to show in addition to tell. Do we have any examples where we can point to an organization, large or small, one market or another, and demonstrate how they're using the simplified Foundation Care Services, getting some benefits, making sure that all the systems are up and running, and if not, the fix is in right away?

Foundation Care services

Berger: Foundation Care, our reactive services, is the base of all services. I will stick to that as an example. The first is a UK-based IT service company, a holding company for a group of companies involved in the provision of real-time monitoring systems and data management services, specifically the UK's leisure and forecourt petrol services.

The customers were looking to upgrade their IT infrastructure to handle growth in their customer demand. Our solution from the product side was to deploy converged infrastructure with HP Blades and Virtual Storage.

The customers’ requirements were met with HP Foundation Care Support. This is a very stable environment. It’s a converged infrastructure, but there are times when an anomaly can arise.

For example, in a connected world, the customer’s storage device sent a message stating that a driver is about to fail. Under Foundation Care, the driver was sent to the customer, preventing an issue before it happened. It's a different experience for many of our competitors, because we monitor the converged infrastructure and we take proactive actions versus waiting for the problem to occur.
A quote from the customer, “HP Support was fantastic. We were protected all the way through the support processes.”

So we recognized an issue. We proactively notified the customer. We sent the fix or sent a CE to fix their problem. We helped this customer meet their SLA at 99.98 percent uptime. In this case, we gave them a 100 percent uptime.

A quote from the customer, “HP Support was fantastic. We were protected all the way through the support processes.”

Gardner: Any other examples?

Berger: Sure. In this case, we helped a customer shift their focus from maintenance to strategic activities. HP offered a differentiated support experience by providing proactive alerts to flag potential issues.

The customer in this case is an underwriting services using proprietary databases and algorithms to estimate people’s life expectancy based on their medical records. The customer had performance issues with the large amounts of data on different services, with various hard drive configurations and several direct-attached devices for storage.

The resolution was to modernize their data center, where we worked closely with the customer, consolidating servers and storage using server virtualization and SAN technology. We installed ProLiant Server and 3PAR Storage and the customer purchased Foundation Care 24x7 support services.

The benefits were that centralized storage provided reliability and productivity. For the customer, their IT staff previously spent about 70 percent of their time dealing with infrastructure. Now, they spend only 20 percent of the time. That's a 50-percent saving in time.

With Foundation Care support, they now manage availability better with proactive support alerts on potential issues and focusing on improving applications rather than failures.

Managing costs better

Gardner: Lou, I've been tracking enterprise IT for quite some time now, and the question always comes up, "What do you get for your dollar or your peso or your Euro?" I have had trouble always coming up with return on investment (ROI) or a total cost of ownership (TCO) formula for some aspects of IT, for example, investing in modernization of a data center.

It's more the soft quality-assurance issues, but it seems to me, the economics of something like technology services and Foundation Care in particular is pretty straightforward.

What do you tell people when they ask you about the ROI here? It seems if you catch one big issue and you're in an always-on environment. That that can really save you a great deal of money very rapidly.

Berger: In any industry, an outage translates to revenue and cost, besides the customer satisfaction issues and everything else. There are studies that go back and say that in some industries, an outage, a long outage can actually put a company out of business in a very short amount of time.
Very fast response time is critical to the business. We commit to a six-hour call-to-repair.

But this does play very closely to the decision the CIO must make when they choose the support, and understanding the impact on their environment and understanding the crux of the business if they don't meet those needs.

In the Foundation Care Services portfolio we have three response levels with most customers. So Call-to-Repair is the highest level of service. Very fast response time is critical to the business. We commit to a six-hour call-to-repair.

It's our broadest coverage. We have 24x7 coverage, and take four hours, generally to fix a customer’s problem, with full access to our Support Centers and on-site service as part of the coverage.

Most economical would be Foundation Care Next Business Day, with coverage from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday to Friday. So a CIO can make decisions, based on the SLA they have and the impact to the business, whether critical or not, and apply these very simple service choices -- rather than the 18 we had before.

Gardner: So even though you've simplified, you still have the benefit of one size doesn't need to fit all. For example, I might have a set of applications or even a small rack or data center that doesn't require that higher level of oversight, and I might want to tier this. That gives me a lot more flexibility, and therefore I can manage my costs better. Is that the case?

Berger: That’s exactly the reason we did it. A data center manager, a CIO, can make the right decisions, at the right cost profile to meet his business needs, and optimize his decision making. Then, he can manage and understand by using the tools we provide to understand exactly what is covered for each one of those devices at any time. So they can understand if they are still meeting those needs as times change and customs change.

Looking to the future

Gardner: Looking to the future a little bit Lou, as we mentioned at the beginning, we have a lot of change. You mentioned it earlier, but we're looking at a lot more converged-infrastructure capabilities, particularly for big data.

We're looking at more use of hybrid and more types of cloud, platform as a service (PaaS), software as a service (SaaS), moving workloads from cloud to cloud, if we can do that in the future; the Internet of Things; the scale of the data and the amount of data and streaming data rather than static or batch data.

How do these things come to bear? What is your vision for how technology services adjust, given what we're expecting to happen over the next several years?

Berger: I hope you can see from the way we developed our portfolio that our Foundation Care Services allow the customer to make the most basic decisions on these requirements.
Proactive Care service allows a customer to call in across a variety of products. We own that problem and solve the problem across the solution.

We added Proactive Care service, which allows the customer to add further coverage based on the same parameters, adding preemptive support for those areas, environments, and solutions that require a greater uptime, a greater sense of security, and an enhanced call experience that includes solutions support.

Proactive Care service allows a customer to call in across a variety of products. We own that problem and solve the problem across the solution.

Then building into our Datacenter Care service, which was built including Foundation Care and the Proactive Care services, and allowing the customer to add elements specific to meeting their specific requirements, many of them now being built specifically for the new style of IT.

We also have a Cloud Hybrid Support offering, specific for this new style of IT. And different opportunities for customers to translate CAPEX into OPEX through support offerings, because many of the customers who are building on-premise clouds and converged infrastructure want the same experience from a financial point of view as moving to a hosted service. We built that into our Datacenter Care service.

As we move forward, the new style of IT, then DevOps requires agility, velocity, innovation, and continuous service. We're tailoring new offerings specific to that audience, specific to meet those requirements that we will partner closer and closer with customers on meeting those specific needs, and as always built on a Foundation Care support for their environment, too.

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