Teambox Partners With Box For 15 GB Of Free Storage For Its Collaboration Platform

Today, Teambox announced a partnership with Box whereby consumers and enterprises alike can access a Teambox-Box bundle marked by 15 GB of storage space in addition to Teambox’s collaboration functionality. More than just a 15 GB online storage drive, the Teambox-Box bundle allows users to share documents, comment, assign tasks, create content and build online teams in order to maximize team productivity. In cases where teams have traditionally conducted work through protracted email exchanges that often result in the collation of individual contributions in order to finalize a deliverable, the Teambox-Bundle now offers a way for teams to effectively collaborate and comment on evolving work in real-time.

The Teambox-Box bundle additionally enables consumers to produce their own, original work within the online interface itself using either Google Docs and Spreadsheets or Word, Excel and PowerPoint. The resulting interface is powerful not only for geographically dispersed teams but also for teams that inhabit the same brick and mortar workplace. Moreover, users can download applications that permit teams to share project artifacts across a range of platforms including the iPhone/iPad, Android, HP TouchPad and Windows Phone. Team members can also seamlessly embed files within blogs or websites, post artifacts to social networks and create links to content that can be circulated via email.

Steve Hufford, CEO of Society for Information Management, remarked on his organization’s use of Teambox as follows:

We use Teambox to manage our business here at Society for Information Management, a network of thousands of CIOs, and VP’s of IT spread across the country. Early on we faced the challenge of organizing a remote network with a wide array of interconnected programs and needed a collaboration solution that was simple and intuitive. Teambox answered the call, we feel it’s the most complete team collaboration tool out there. Given our technical member base, security and compliance were growing concerns. We’re early adopters of the Teambox-Box bundle and moved to this technology to hone our security and couldn’t be happier knowing we are protected.

Hufford points out the “simple and intuitive” nature of the Teambox collaboration platform but also notes how “security and compliance were growing concerns” given the company’s contributions from technical members. Here, Hufford refers to the auditing and usage reporting capabilities of the Teambox-Box bundle that allows a project administrator to produce audit trails and investigate all points of access to project artifacts. Teambox CEO Dan Schoenbaum underscored the importance of security by noting that the proliferation of consumer-driven IT platforms renders enterprise security more complex:

With the consumerization of IT, we’re seeing a trend of more and more customer employees storing their company files on unsecured networks. Teambox is addressing this trend by offering free secure storage from Box. Now, companies not only have unmatched team collaboration, but the confidence of accessing and sharing content from any device, any where and securely.

With the Teambox-Box bundle’s security and audit features, enterprises stand to benefit not only from enhanced collaboration, but also from improved security and compliance as well. The Teambox-Box bundle is free for up to 5 users, 5 projects and 15 GB of storage. Pricing for subsequent users starts at $5/user/month, with unlimited storage. The Teambox press release notes that organizations that commit to one or two year subscriptions are eligible for discounts for large groups.

The Teambox-Box partnership illustrates that the collaboration space is hot. Teambox already has partnerships with Dropbox and Google Docs and boasts a customer base of 150,000 businesses including the likes of Southwest Airlines, Groupon, the University of Arizona and the World Bank. As the tech blogosphere buzzes with predictions about cloud computing and Big Data in 2013, the Teambox-Box partnership suggests that analysts and consumers alike should keep a close eye on the rapidly evolving collaboration space and its impact on enterprise IT.


Survey Reveals Sequence Of Online Research That Drives Retail Shopping

A recent survey from Wanderful Media and Dimensional Research quantifies how consumer shopping experiences are increasingly driven by online experiences. Data about the effect of online shopping platforms on consumer shopping in brick and mortar stores underscores the importance, for retailers, of building rich and enticing online infrastructures around their products. Findings from the study indicated that store websites, online marketplace stores such as Amazon and social media all played significant roles with respect to the research done by consumers within a store.

Getting Consumers Into A Store

Emails, coupons, online advertisements, online store searches and social media all played a role in driving consumers into brick and mortar stores as illustrated below:

Online promotions and marketing of stores outweighed social media recommendations from friends by a factor of more than two.

Devices Used For Consumer Research In Stores

Smartphones represented the dominant platform for consumer research while in stores. Despite the significance of online marketing in getting consumers into stores, consumers continued to research and refine their shopping preferences using online research. In other words, online marketing had an initiatory effect on brick and mortar shopping experiences that consumers subsequently refined and finalized in collaboration with smartphones and tablets once in stores.

While the study powerfully illustrates the significance of the relation between brick and mortar shopping and online shopping and research, it hardly signals the death of the brick and mortar shopping. On one hand, online shopping drives retail shopping but retail shopping, conversely, leads to more targeted online product research and comparison shopping. All this suggests that big data analytics by retailers on online sales should consider the points of origin of online consumer research and strive toward constructing a holistic picture of the trajectory of a consumer’s online product research. Preliminary findings indicate that more focused consumer research happens in stores, on smartphones. The implication here is that retailers should increasingly focus on the richness of their positioning of products in smartphone-powered search platforms in ways that complement the efficacy of their email and online promotions that drive consumers into stores, in the first place.

Complete details of the study can be found here:

UserVoice and Crittercism Partner To Deliver Comprehensive Mobile App Customer Feedback Solution

Crittercism and UserVoice today announced a partnership that delivers a comprehensive infrastructure which empowers developers to obtain customer feedback and monitor the performance of their mobile applications. Developers can now obtain a 360 degree view of user activity, feedback, inquiries and application performance, all from the purview of an integrated application interface that melds the application monitoring and customer feedback platforms of Crittercism and UserVoice, respectively. The partnership responds to the rapid proliferation of mobile applications and the corresponding need, by the creators of such applications, to engage customers as well as to understand the frequency of application crashes and related performance metrics.

Under the partnership, Crittercism, an application performance management platform, collaborated with UserVoice, a SaaS helpdesk and customer engagement solution that enables the makers of client server, SaaS and mobile applications to more effectively understand their user base’s experience of their software. UserVoice provides a structured framework for the solicitation and organization of customer feedback. UserVoice’s forums feature allows users to provide feedback and then vote on existing ideas related to that feedback or otherwise create a new idea as illustrated below:

Moreover, UserVoice’s Instant Answers solution structures the automated delivery of knowledge base articles in response to customer questions such that roughly 40% of questions are answered by a knowledge base article before they are sent to a help desk agent. The platform additionally facilitates competition amongst help desk resources for “kudos” designations from users by way of an integrated service desk resource dashboard. In addition, the platform features a collection of widgets, SDKs and APIs that can be directly embedded into a product to maximize the stream of customer feedback with a view to more effectively understanding user experience.

Richard White, CEO of UserVoice, commented on the partnership with Crittercism as follows:

Consumers today expect a seamless mobile app experience, and will often abandon an app based on continued crashes or other issues, especially if they aren’t able to quickly report and resolve them. With Crittercism, we are extending our customer communication, support and feedback capabilities to mobile app developers, giving them the most comprehensive, flexible and intuitive support solution for mobile applications.

The partnership with Crittercism enables UserVoice to deliver a more comprehensive customer engagement solution that additionally provides data regarding mobile app crashes and related technical issues. The resulting platform presents developers with technical and user experience-based data points from which to monitor application usage and performance with a view to iteratively refining their mobile apps. Importantly, the integrated solution offers ways of prioritizing customer feedback such that mobile app makers can effectively scale their help desk support resources as their user base expands. UserVoice mobile app support is limited to the iOS platform at present, although Android is on the UserVoice product roadmap for subsequent integration.

OpenStack-Based HP Cloud Compute Ready For Prime Time As It Advances To GA

This week, HP made a number of significant announcements related to its HP Cloud Services platform. The company revealed an aggressive pricing strategy for its OpenStack-based, Infrastructure as a Service, public cloud platform known as HP Cloud Compute including a 50% promotion that lasts until January 1, 2013. The aggressive positioning of HP Cloud Compute underscores the technological viability of OpenStack as a key player in the commercial, public cloud IaaS space given that, separate from Rackspace and Red Hat, yet another technology giant has elected to build a public cloud infrastructure on the OpenStack platform.

HP Cloud Compute has now transitioned from Beta to general availability. Pricing starts at $0.04 cents/hour for the “extra small” Linux-based HP instance marked by 1 HP Cloud Compute Unit featuring 1 virtual core w/1 HP Cloud Compute Unit, 1 GB RAM and 30 GB disk space. In comparison, the smallest Amazon Web Services Linux instance features a comparable 1.7 GB memory and a significantly larger storage allocation of 160GB at the rate of $.065/hour. HP Cloud Compute’s price of $.04/hour to $.065/hour for Amazon Web Services amounts to a significant cost savings, particularly if instance disk space beyond 30 GB is not required.

When comparing the two medium-sized offerings, however, Amazon Web Services comes out on top not only in price but with respect to specifications as well. The medium HP Cloud Compute instance features 4 HP Cloud Compute Units containing a total of 2 virtual cores with 2 HP Cloud Compute Units each, 4 GB RAM and 120 GB of disk space. The medium-sized Amazon Web Services Linux instance, in comparison, contains an analogous 4 EC2 compute units via 2 virtual cores containing 2 EC2 compute units each, 7.5 GB memory and 850 GB of instance disk space. Pricing compares at $.16/hour for HP Cloud Compute versus $.13/hour for Amazon Web Services, with the AWS medium-sized offering surpassing HP on memory and storage metrics as well.

Separate from HP Cloud Compute, HP announced the Beta launch of HP Cloud Block Storage. In addition, HP revealed details of its HP Cloud Application PaaS, which provides developers with access to pre-configured technology stacks that support Ruby, PHP, Java, Node.js, Python, and other languages. The platform is based on Vancouver-based ActiveState’s Stackato technology that boasts one of the industry’s leading polyglot PaaS platforms. HP Cloud Application PaaS is currently accepting applications from interested organizations as part of a private Beta launch.

These announcements reveal how HP is making an aggressive push into the IaaS space by luring customers into trying their HP Cloud Compute platform with their 50% discount promotion. Regardless of the promotion, pricing remains highly competitive, and is backed by a 99.95% SLA. The SLA is guaranteed monthly, meaning HP is committing to 100% uptime with the exception of a maximum of 22 minutes of per month, as reported in The Register. Customers that are frustrated with Amazon Web Services’s repeated outages and famed lack of customer support may well consider trying HP Cloud Compute as an option, particularly given the added allure of its interoperability in an increasingly rich commercial OpenStack ecosystem.

NComputing Announces New Release Of Its Desktop Virtualization Platform

NComputing today announced the release of a new version of its acclaimed desktop virtualization platform that adds additional features and functionality to the platform recognized by IDC as a major player in the desktop virtualization space. The new release features the following three enhancements:

•vSpace Server version 7 for Windows
Access for up to 100 machines to a discrete Windows or Linux operating system instance.

•vSpace Management Center
An enterprise-grade management console that empowers IT administrators to manage client devices by way of a user-friendly web-based console.

•vSpace Premium Support and Services
Premium service and support including easy access to support engineers dedicated to the vSpace platform.

The enhancements collectively position NComputing to consolidate market share in the desktop virtualization space by way of its emphasis on simplicity, performance and value. Whereas desktop virtualization solutions have traditionally been complex to implement, NComputing’s vSpace platform differentiates by way of the simplicity of its installations and subsequent management. Moreover, NComputing’s performance and value collectively enable customers to confidently recoup their capital investment in addition to claiming ancillary benefits of a virtualized infrastructure such as enhanced enterprise security and control over computing devices.

Raj Dhingra, CEO of NComputing, elaborated on the company’s value proposition as follows:

NComputing removes the barriers to desktop virtualization, including the cost and complexity that has slowed adoption in both enterprise and SMB. Our approach is unique in blending three core principles to desktop virtualization success: simplicity, performance and value. Other solutions might deliver on one or two of these, but no vendor integrates all three. NComputing is accelerating the adoption of desktop virtualization and expanding the market by delivering integrated solutions that remove the barriers to adoption through this unique formula for success.

Here, Dhingra remarks on how no vendor in the desktop virtualization space can claim product attributes aligned to the combination of simplicity, value and performance in the way that vSpace can. Even though desktop virtualization has historically struggled to gain market traction because of concerns about cost or implementation complexity, NComputing has accelerated the pace of adoption of desktop virtualization solutions “through this unique formula for success.” vSpace now claims four million seats in production worldwide and over 20 million users in 140 countries.

A significant percentage of the company’s customers are currently in the education vertical amongst school districts, universities and Ministries of Education all over the world. Ray Kase, Director of Technology, Downingtown Area School District in Pennsylvania, elaborated on the use of NComputing amongst his school district as follows:

Everything we do today at our district is virtualized. NComputing’s vSpace technology enables several users to access a single operating system simultaneously by virtualizing multiple independent user accounts and dividing the computer’s resources so we knew the technology would be a great fit for us. We estimate we’re saving $400 per seat using NComputing instead of a traditional PC. What’s more, the centralized management system that we’ll be moving to will save me a bundle of time as well.

Kase points to a savings of $400 per seat in addition to the savings related to a simplified, enterprise-grade management platform. The bottom line here is that NComputing’s solution is gradually obliterating barriers to adoption that led to the failure of other desktop virtualization solutions such as Pano Logic, for example. NComputing’s unique ability to deliver an implementation-friendly, cost-effective VDI solution is gradually gaining recognition across the enterprise and, moreover, “its platform is showing success in early implementations,” according to Brett Waldman, Research Manager for Client Virtualization at IDC.

A sample NComputing dashboard is shown below:

VMC Dashboard Chrome

Virsto Releases Version 2.0 Of Its Virtualized Storage Solution

Virsto today announced the release of version 2.0 of Virsto for vSphere, the virtual storage platform that delivers software defined functionality for virtual storage. Virsto for vSphere virtualizes storage environments in ways analogous to the hypervisor’s virtualization of servers. Virsto’s hypervisor-agnostic solution delivers performance and efficiency enhancements to storage environments as well as significant reductions in storage costs. The new version boasts support for the Citrix XenDesktop hypervisor in addition to the currently supported VMware View on vSphere. Moreover, Virsto for vSphere 2.0 features support for high availability workloads as well as notable workflow optimization upgrades.

Enhancements specific to Virsto for vSphere 2.0 include the following:

•Improved data center integration marked by optimized support for Tier 1 applications, integrated application monitoring capability and superior automated recovery.

•Support for Citrix XenDesktop in ways that enable administrators to preserve machine images, update all installed components in an image as well as rollback image workflows as needed.

•Enhanced integration with existing workflows as well as automated, “wizard-based provisioning [that] can instantly create up to 10,000 high performance, space-efficient, cluster-aware clones.”

Mark Peters, Senior Analyst at ESG, remarked on the value of Virsto to the software defined datacenter as follows:

Enterprise storage decisions must always look beyond the upfront costs, and consider the long-term costs of management, hardware additions, human resources and so on. For VDI initiatives, a failure to appreciate this, and act accordingly, leads to projects that stall or fall apart. One of the specific contributory elements is the under-utilization of storage – aka wasted money – that’s inherent in much traditional storage; conversely, Virsto’s approach increases utilization and improves storage management, without compromising performance or efficiency; and it can thus be central to a fully software defined data center.

Virsto decreases storage costs while streamlining storage management according to Peters. Because enterprises typically ignore the ineffective utilization of storage resources, Virsto’s solution multiplies existing storage capacity while delivering value in conjunction with improved performance and efficiency metrics as well. Virsto’s partnerships with VMware, Citrix and Microsoft render it a credible player in the storage virtualization niche market. Users should expect to see competitors proliferate in the storage virtualization landscape within the next year but, until then, Virsto has clearly staked out thought and market leadership in a vertical that is destined to grow as the software defined data center allows CIOs to demand greater economies of efficiency from storage resources.

Piston Cloud Appoints Jim Morrisroe, Open Source and Enterprise Software Veteran, As CEO

jim-morrisroePiston Cloud Computing announced the appointment of Jim Morrisroe at its new Chief Executive Officer on Monday. Morrisroe takes over as CEO from cofounder Joshua McKenty, who will become the company’s Chief Technology Officer. Morrisroe brings to Piston Cloud over 20 years of experience in high growth technology companies that include VMware acquisition Zimbra, Storigen and Cemaphore Systems. Morrisroe’s appointment as CEO allows Piston to pursue a more aggressive business development strategy by freeing up McKenty to focus on product development and his responsibilities on the OpenStack governance board.

Morrisroe was previously a Vice President and General Manager at Zimbra, where he led the team’s acquisition by VMware after its spinout from Yahoo. Given that Zimbra delivers open source commercial email, calendar and collaboration software, Morrisroe brings to Piston Cloud extensive experience in open source software and its commercialization. In the early days of Zimbra, Morrisroe built a global team that grew the company’s revenue from $0 to a revenue rate such that it was acquired by Yahoo for $350 million in 2009. Prior to Zimbra, Morrisroe was VP of Worldwide Sales at Cemaphore Systems as well as VP of Sales at Storigen Systems. Morrisroe brings to Piston Cloud an exemplary track record of growing software sales globally as well as delivering strategic leadership to product and engineering teams.

McKenty remarked on Morrisroe’s addition the Piston Cloud team as follows:

We are extremely excited to welcome Jim to Piston Cloud. Not only is he a natural fit with the executive team, but his deep experience in open source and enterprise software will help us take the company to the next level.

Meanwhile, Morrisroe remarked on Piston Cloud’s positioning with respect to the enterprise as follows:

Private cloud and OpenStack are systematically transforming all aspects of enterprise information technology and Piston Cloud is the clear leader in the market for commercial OpenStack. OpenStack and private cloud software is emerging as a massive market and is disrupting billions of dollars that is today spent on legacy technologies. Piston Cloud is extremely well positioned to help lead customers through this transformation. I look forward to driving the continued growth and development of the company.

Morrisroe positions Piston Cloud as the “clear leader” amongst commercial OpenStack vendors. With McKenty freed up to focus on product development initiatives, Morrisroe’s characterization of Piston Cloud as the leader amongst the cottage industry of commercial OpenStack vendors may not be far off the mark, particularly given McKenty’s deep knowledge of the OpenStack product and its roadmap by virtue of his tenure at NASA and intimate knowledge of the OpenStack foundation. In comparison to vendors such as Red Hat and Rackspace, however, Piston has traditionally lacked competitiveness with respect to support. In an interview with Cloud Computing Today, Morrisroe mentioned the possibility of Piston Cloud’s partnerships with world class support vendors as its customer base expands and continues to grow.

Morrisroe’s appointment as CEO is likely to be a huge boon for the company because it frees McKenty from his company and OpenStack responsibilities and transfers the responsibility for sales to an industry veteran with a proven track record of growing open source software sales globally. Meanwhile, Piston continues to focus on productizing OpenStack in ways that render its version appealing for enterprise deployments. Expect to hear more news from Piston on the product and business development fronts in the next few months as the company strives to live up to its billing as the undisputed leader amongst commercial OpenStack vendors.