IBM

Marketing Automation Vendor Act-On Raises $42M Just Days After IBM’s Agreement To Acquire Silverpop

Marketing automation vendor Act-On Software today announced the finalization of $42 million in venture financing in a round led by Technology Crossover Ventures (TCV) with additional participation from Norwest Venture Partners, Trinity Ventures, US Venture Partners, and Voyager Capital. As a result of the funding raise, David Yuan, general partner at TCV, joins Act-On’s board of directors. Act-On intends to use the funding for all aspects of its business operations, including product development, sales, marketing and operations. The announcement of Act-On’s funding raise comes in the wake of IBM’s announcement of its agreement to acquire marketing automation firm Silverop on April 10.

IBM’s acquisition of Silverpop for an undisclosed sum builds upon Oracle’s acquisition of Eloqua and Responsys, Salesforce.com’s acquisition of ExactTarget and Marketo’s IPO in May 2013. Silverpop specializes in the personalization of marketing content based on the creation of customized audience profiles derived from email, social media and web and mobile activity and boasts 8000 customers in over 50 countries including the likes of Mazda, Stonyfield Farm and Advanced Micro Devices. Atri Chatterjee, CMO of Act-On, commented on the significance of IBM’s acquisition of Silverpop as follows:

The marketing automation industry has been heating up and Act-On is playing in one of the hottest markets right now…IBM acquiring Silverpop further validates the rapidly growing market and substantiates the industry as a whole. We are seeing an increasingly growing demand for marketing automation as companies are doing more online multi-channel marketing and moving beyond email. Corporate Darwinism is at work here in a fast evolving market. The companies that remain standing are the hyper-growth ones with leading edge technology, or the behemoths that are scrambling to enter the market.

Here, Chatterjee notes that the marketing automation landscape is rapidly bifurcating into two spaces marked by “behemoths” like IBM and Oracle that elected to scoop up attractive platforms such as Silverpop, and a selection of standalone vendors that differentiate themselves by consistently demonstrating their ability to innovate and respond nimbly to customer needs and the changing technology horizon in which all marketing vendors operate. Act-On definitively stands in the category of the “hyper-growth” vendors “with leading edge technology” as evinced by its growth to over 2000 customers and accolades such as the designation of leader in the Forrester Wave report on lead-to-revenue management platform vendors for Q1 of 2014. Today’s funding raise brings the total capital raised by Act-On to $74 million since it was founded in 2008. Act-On now has the luxury of innovating upon its integrated marketing platform to develop more accurate analytics and predictive modeling algorithms to drive the personalization of marketing content at both a population and individual customer level. Key challenges for the Beaverton, Oregon-based company will involve the platform’s ability to incorporate real-time analytics into its prescriptive marketing campaigns, the refinement of customer profiles as they evolve in the specific context of the customer’s relationship with specific brands and the ability to generate effective outbound content such as text messages that match the needs and predispositions of targeted consumers. With an extra $42 million in cash in hand, however, Act-On may well end up becoming one of the vendors scooped up by the “behemoths which are scrambling to enter the market,” particularly if it can consolidate its impressive traction to date and enhance its platform to the point where it becomes the undisputed leader in the marketing automation space.

Categories: Act-On, IBM, Venture Capital | Tags: , ,

IBM’s Acquisition of Cloudant And The Walmart Effect In Tech

Last week, IBM announced an agreement to acquire NoSQL database as a service vendor Cloudant for an undisclosed sum. An active contributor to the Apache CouchDB project, Cloudant delivers a JSON document database-based platform that claims high availability, scalability and elasticity amongst its attributes. Cloudant customers can take advantage of its JSON-based database as a service to store and mine structured and unstructured data from a variety of sources. Because the JSON database format is so widely used by developers of mobile and web applications, IBM’s acquisition of Cloudant stands to strengthen its positioning with respect to the development of applications for mobile devices in conjunction with the build out of its OpenStack-based cloud solution for the enterprise. The acquisition of Cloudant will be central to IBM’s MobileFirst solutions as well as its Worklight application for developing mobile applications. From an industry perspective, the acquisition represents a huge coup for the NoSQL space in general. CouchDB has historically not had the traction of MongoDB, Cassandra and Couchbase, so we should expect brand name tech companies to make similar offerings for the likes of MongoDB in the ensuing few months. Moreover, IBM’s acquisition of Cloudant testifies to the increasing emergence of cloud and big data behemoths with solutions for both hosting infrastructure, as well as database solutions that accommodate enterprise needs for scalability and the ability to store unstructured data. Cloudant CEO Derek Schoettle surmised the significance of Cloudant’s contribution to IBM’s SoftLayer cloud platform as follows:

Cloudant’s decision to join IBM highlights that the next wave of enterprise technology innovation has moved beyond infrastructure and is now happening at the data layer. Our relationship with IBM and SoftLayer has evolved significantly in recent years, with more connected devices generating data at an unprecedented rate. Cloudant’s NoSQL expertise, combined with IBM’s enterprise reliability and resources, adds data layer services to the IBM portfolio that others can’t match.

Schoettle notes that IBM is extending its infrastructure innovations to the “data layer” and as such, follows in the footsteps of Amazon Web Services and EMC/VMware spin-off Pivotal, which similarly deliver a combination of cloud and big data solutions in their platform and product offerings. The notable consequence of this convergence of cloud and big data product offerings is that only large enterprises with the requisite capital and resources can afford to cobble together combined cloud-big data product offerings. As a result, cloud startups and smaller data vendors will need to continue to compete by way of their agility, responsiveness, consultative support and superior technology. In effect, the IBM acquisition of Cloudant signals a Walmart effect in technology, of sorts, whereby large, well capitalized vendors have the ability to create marts of diverse data and analytics products that threaten the viability of cloud, big data and analytics startups in the same way that massive retailers such as Walmart threaten the viability of independent stores or small chains. Oracle’s recent acquisition of Blue Kai, a big data management platform geared toward marketing, constitutes another example of the way in which tech giants are continuing to integrate diverse data products into increasingly heterogeneous product portfolios. The question that remains unanswered, however, is whether the emerging Walmart technology maze is sufficiently easy to navigate that enterprises opt to partner either with one vendor for all of their technology needs, or whether they feel more comfortable shopping from a diverse range of technology vendors in order to avoid vendor lock-in and locate products that richly respond to the specificities of their industry-vertical and customer needs.

Categories: Big Data, Cloud Computing, Cloudant, Couchbase, IBM, MongoDB, NoSQL | Tags: , , , , ,

Garantia Data’s Redis Cloud Generally Available On IBM SoftLayer Dallas

Garantia Data’s (Garantia) Redis Cloud and Memcached Cloud products are now generally available on the IBM SoftLayer cloud by means of its Dallas region. As a result, Garantia Data’s Redis Cloud is now available on Amazon Web Services, Windows Azure and IBM SoftLayer Dallas. Redis is an open source, in-memory, key value data store that differs from other NoSQL databases by way of its ability to “serve a very high volume of write and read requests…at sub millisecond latency” as noted by CEO Ofer Bengal in an interview with Cloud Computing Today. The partnership between Garantia Data and IBM means that IBM benefits from the feather in its cap marked by the addition of Redis to its IaaS platform, whereas Garantia Data cements yet another high profile partnership with a major public cloud platform that promises to attract even more developers into using Garantia’s distribution of Redis. The Redis Cloud offers developers a fully managed service for development within an infrastructure that includes “automated clustering, scaling, data persistence, performance optimization, and failure recovery from a single console” according to Garantia Data’s Itamar Haber. IBM is pricing Redis on SoftLayer Dallas aggressively at $79/month for 1 GB of storage in contrast to Azure, which charges $108/month for the same. In comparison, AWS prices the Redis Cloud competitively at either $79/month or $89/month for 1 GB, depending on the region.

Categories: Big Data, IBM, NoSQL, Redis Labs | Tags: , ,

Amazon Web Services Continues To Increase IaaS/PaaS Market Share According To Synergy Research Group

A recent article by the Synergy Research Group (Synergy) claims that Amazon Web Services continues to dominate the IaaS and PaaS space in terms of revenue. According to Synergy, Amazon Web Services increased its quarterly revenue by 55% to over $700M in Q3 of 2013, whereas the aggregate of revenue for Salesforce, IBM, Windows Azure and Google was less than $400M for the same time period. Worldwide, total IaaS and PaaS revenues exceeded $2.5 billion for the quarter, with IaaS accounting for 64% of cloud revenues, a surprisingly small proportion given the limited penetration of platform as a service within the enterprise. Synergy Research’s John Dinsdale remarked on the company’s findings as follows:

We’ve been analyzing the IaaS/PaaS markets for quite a few quarters now and creating these leadership metrics, and the relative positioning of the leaders really hasn’t changed much. While Amazon dwarfs all competition, the race is on to see if any of the big four followers can distance themselves from their peers. The good news for these companies and for the long tail of operators with relatively small cloud infrastructure service operations, is that IaaS/PaaS will be growing strongly long into the future, providing plenty of opportunity for robust revenue growth.

Here, Dinsdale remarks that the “race is on to see if” Salesforce, IBM, Microsoft and Google can decisively secure second place in the battle for IaaS/PaaS market share. Strikingly, Microsoft, Google and IBM have revenues that are very close to one another, even though one might reasonably expect Microsoft’s Azure platform to edge out its competition given its earlier entry into the market than IBM and Google’s Compute Engine (GCE). That said, IBM’s sizeable IaaS revenue derives largely from its acquisition of SoftLayer, which itself had a rich and venerable history that predated IBM.

Synergy’s chart illustrating Q3 IaaS and PaaS revenues is given below:

Notable omissions from the findings include Rackspace, HP, Oracle, Pivotal One and Red Hat, the middle three of which (HP, Oracle and Pivotal One) are still relatively nascent, and hence justifiably excluded from the present calculation. As Dinsdale notes above, however, “the good news for these companies” and for remainder of the space is that revenues are set to increase significantly in the near term. Going forward, one of the key questions for subsequent IaaS market share analyses will be whether OpenStack’s momentum and gradual maturation propels disproportionate growth amongst OpenStack-based cloud platforms for vendors such as HP, IBM, Oracle, Rackspace and Red Hat.

Categories: Amazon Web Services, Google, IBM, Miscellaneous, OpenStack, Oracle, Red Hat | Tags: , ,

IBM Surpasses $1 Billion In Quarterly Cloud Revenue For First Time

IBM today announced that it exceeded $1 billion in quarterly cloud computing-related revenue for the first time in the company’s history. Of the $1 billion in cloud revenue, “$460 million is delivered as a cloud service” according to Mark Loughridge, IBM’s Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer, Finance and Enterprise Transformation. IBM’s cloud-related revenue for 2013 was up 70% in comparison to the same time period last year. A large part of IBM’s growth in the cloud segment of its revenues is presumably attributable to its July acquisition of SoftLayer, an IaaS public cloud solution that additionally features dedicated server and managed hosting solutions. IBM’s Smarter Planet and Analytics solutions delivered similarly impressive results with its Smarter Planet platform reporting earnings up 20% through September and its Analytics solutions up 8% through 2013. Cloud revenue represented a bright spot in an otherwise mixed earnings report for IBM marked by a 4% decline in overall Q3 revenue to $23.7 billion.

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Judge Rules In Favor Of Amazon Web Services Over IBM Regarding $600M CIA Contract

Amazon Web Services has won a legal ruling that allows it to retain its $600 million contract with the CIA after the Government Accountability Office (GAO) formally recognized a protest by IBM about the awarding of the contract to AWS. Judge Thomas Wheeler of the U.S. Court of Federal Claims ruled in favor of Amazon Web Services, which protested the necessity of a response from the CIA as a result of the GAO’s recommendation. The decision represents a huge victory for Amazon Web Services as it attempts to consolidate its early traction in the lucrative government cloud market. Meanwhile, IBM noted that it intends to appeal the decision by issuing the following statement:

We are disappointed with the ruling from the U.S. Court of Federal Claims, reversing the GAO’s recommendation to reopen the competition and correct flaws in the bidding process. IBM plans to appeal this decision. This court decision seems especially inappropriate in light of the current times, since IBM’s bid was superior in many ways, including being substantially more cost-effective. In addition, IBM has for decades supplied the government with proven mission-critical operations. The company remains committed to provide secure, reliable and robust cloud solutions to federal agencies.

Amazon Web Services declined to comment on the decision specific to Amazon Web Services Inc vs United States, Case No. 13-00506, U.S. Court of Federal Claims.

Categories: Amazon Web Services, IBM | 1 Comment

IBM’s Support Of Pivotal’s Cloud Foundry Underscores Enterprise Interest In Open Source Cloud Standards

IBM recently announced plans to work with Pivotal in order to accelerate the development of Cloud Foundry, the open source Platform as a Service project that is part of Pivotal, the spin-off from VMware and its parent company EMC. The partnership with Pivotal indicates that Big Blue is going all in on open source cloud technologies as underscored by its well-known commitment to OpenStack, the open source IaaS project that celebrated its third birthday on July 19. IBM’s support of Cloud Foundry means that it is now backing open source Platform as a Service in addition to Infrastructure as a Service in a move that illustrates how Big Blue intends to differentiate itself from its competition by staking out early positions of influence regarding the trajectory of promising open source PaaS and IaaS technologies.

Daniel Sabbah, general manager of Next Generation Platforms, IBM, commented on Cloud Foundry’s significance to IBM as follows:

Cloud Foundry’s potential to transform business is vast, and steps like the one taken today help open the ecosystem up for greater client innovation. IBM will incorporate Cloud Foundry into its open cloud architecture, and put its full support behind Cloud Foundry as an open and collaborative platform for cloud application development, as it has done historically for key technologies such as Linux and OpenStack.

Sabbah notes how Cloud Foundry will become part of IBM’s “open cloud architecture”and thereby illustrative of its belief that “cloud computing needs to be built on open source and standards.” Whereas the first iteration of IBM’s “open cloud architecture” philosophy was heavily based on OpenStack, its recent partnership with Pivotal is likely to compel a revision of the specifics of its commitment to open source cloud platforms and APIs with greater attention to Cloud Foundry. IBM’s backing of Cloud Foundry will enhance its credibility amongst enterprise customers as well as contribute to its governance processes. The larger point, here, however, is that the clamor for open source cloud technologies is trending towards increased support from the enterprise. As Pivotal establishes a Cloud Foundry advisory board, expect more and more companies to pledge support for Cloud Foundry in what amounts to an industry-wide demand for open standards and interoperability. We should also expect some kind of formal collaboration between OpenStack and Cloud Foundry to develop as the latter’s governance process matures.

Categories: IBM, Pivotal | 2 Comments

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