Now Available, The 2020 Guide to Continuous Integration and Continuous Delivery

Amalgam Insights’ Research Fellow Tom Petrocelli has just published a groundbreaking Market Landscape on Continuous Integration and Continuous Delivery titled “The 2020 Guide to Continuous Integration and Continuous Delivery: Process, Projects, and Products

This Market Landscape provides guidance on the processes, projects, products, and vendors that allow leading software development departments to effectively support continuous integration and delivery across their application portfolio. It is recommended for Software Engineering Directors  and IT Executives making “buy versus build” decisions and designing CI/CD workflows.

This report will be available at no cost until November 14th as a resource to the Amalgam Insights community, thanks to the support of Amalgam Insights’ Community.

How CrossKnowledge’s CK CONNECT Solution Effectively Assesses and Trains People Skills: A Neuroscience Evaluation

In a recently published Market Milestone, Todd Maddox, Ph.D., Learning Scientist and Research Fellow for Amalgam Insights, evaluated CrossKnowledge’s CK CONNECT Solution Suite from a neuroscience perspective.

Maddox argues that people (aka soft) skills training is an important part of any organizations Learning & Development strategy, but that most people skills training solutions are ineffective because they engage only the cognitive learning systems in the brain, instead of engaging a combination of cognitive, behavioral, and emotional learning systems in the brain. CK CONNECT meets these challenges and provides the competitive advantage that organizations need to attract, train, and retain the best talent.

For more information, read the full Market Milestone available on the CrossKnowledge website at no cost.

The Need for Simulation and Situational Awareness in Cybersecurity Training – A Neuroscience Perspective

Organizations are more vulnerable than ever to cybersecurity threats. Global annual cybersecurity costs are predicted to grow from $3 trillion in 2015 to $6 trillion annually by 2021. To stay safe organizations must train their employees to identify cybersecurity threats and to avoid them. To address this, global spending on cybersecurity products and services is projected to exceed $1 trillion from 2017 to 2021.

Unfortunately, cybersecurity training is particularly challenging because cybersecurity is more about training behavioral “intuition” and situational awareness than it is about training a cognitive, analytic understanding. It is one thing to know “what” to do, but it is another (and mediated by completely different systems in the brain) to know “how” to do it, and to know how to do it under a broad range of situations.

Regrettably, knowing what to do and what not to do, does not translate into actually doing or not doing. To train cybersecurity behaviors, the learner must be challenged through behavioral simulation. They must be presented with a situation, generate an appropriate or inappropriate response, and must receive real-time, immediate feedback regarding the correctness of their behavior. Real-time, interactive feedback is the only way to effectively engage the behavioral learning system in the brain. This system learns through gradual, incremental dopamine-mediated changes in the strength of muscle memory that reside in the striatum of the brain. Critically, the behavioral learning system in the brain is distinct from the cognitive learning system in the brain, meaning that knowing “what” to do has no effect on learning “how” to do it.

Cybersecurity behavioral training must be broad-based with the goal of training situational awareness. Cybersecurity hackers are creative with each attack often having a different look and feel. Simulations must mimic this variability so that they elicit different experiences and emotions. This is how you engage experiential centers in the brain that represent the sensory aspects of an interaction (e.g., sight and sound) and emotional centers in the brain that build situational awareness. By utilizing a broad range of cybersecurity simulations that engage experiential and emotional centers in different ways, the learner trains cybersecurity behaviors that generalize and transfer to multiple settings. Ideally, it is also useful to align the difficulty of the simulation to the user’s performance. This personalized approach will be more effective and will speed learning relative to a one-size-fits-all approach.

If your organization is worried about cybersecurity threats and is looking for a cybersecurity training tool, a few considerations are in order. First, and foremost, do not settle for a training solution that focuses only on providing learners with knowledge and information around cybersecurity. This “what” focused approach will be ineffective at teaching the appropriate behavioral responses to cybersecurity threats, and will leave your organization vulnerable. Instead focus on solutions that are grounded in simulation training, preferably with content and delivery that is broad-based to train situational awareness. Solutions that personalize the difficulty of each simulation are a bonus as they will speed learning and long-term retention of cybersecurity behaviors.

Canonical Takes a Third Path to Support New Platforms

We are in the midst of another change-up in the IT world. Every 15 to 20 years there is a radical rethink of the platforms that applications are built upon. During the course of the history of IT, we have moved from batch-oriented, pipelined systems (predominantly written in COBOL) to client-server and n-Tier systems that are the standards of today. These platforms were developed in the last century and designed for last century applications. After years of putting shims into systems to accommodate the scale and diversity of modern applications, IT has just begun to deploy new platforms based on containers and Kubernetes. These new platforms promise greater resiliency and scalability, as well as greater responsiveness to the business. Continue reading “Canonical Takes a Third Path to Support New Platforms”

Skillsoft’s Compliance Solution Provides the Competitive Advantage Organizations Need in the Modern Workplace

In a recently published Analyst Insight, Todd Maddox, Ph.D., Learning Scientist and Research Fellow for Amalgam Insights, evaluated Skillsoft’s Compliance Solution Suite from a learning science perspective—the marriage of psychology and brain science.

Maddox argues that compliance is an area where organizations cannot afford to be negligent. Training isn’t a luxury, it’s a necessity. For training to be effective, it needs to optimally engage appropriate learning systems in the brain and be designed in such a way that it effectively trains hard skills, behavioral skills, interpersonal skills, and situational awareness.

For more information, read the full Market Milestone available on the Skillsoft website at no cost.

Why Skillsoft’s Workplace Harassment Prevention Training Solution Primes Behavior Change: A Learning Science Evaluation

In a recently published Analyst Insight, Todd Maddox, Ph.D., Learning Scientist and Research Fellow for Amalgam Insights, evaluated Skillsoft’s Workplace Harassment Prevention Training Solution from a learning science perspective—the marriage of psychology and brain science.

Maddox shows that effective harassment prevention training requires content that is engaging and highlights the nuances of harassing behavior. This content must then be delivered in a way that broadly engages multiple learning and memory systems in the brain in a way that “draws the learner in” and primes the learner for behavior change.

For more information, read the full Market Milestone available at no cost on the Skillsoft website.

Augmented Reality in Product Development: A Neuroscience Perspective

 

3D Dynamic Representation

Product development is a collaborative process in which the product evolves from an idea, to drawings and ultimately to a physical prototype. This is an iterative process in which two-dimensional (2D) static images and schematics drive development early in the process only later leading to the development of a physical 3-dimensional (3D) prototype. This approach places a heavy load on the cognitive system in the brain because 3D dynamic representations and imagery must be constructed in the brain from a series of 2D static images. Continue reading “Augmented Reality in Product Development: A Neuroscience Perspective”

Look Beyond The Simple Facts of the Cimpl Acquisition

(Note: This blog was co-written by Hyoun Park and Larry Foster, an Enterprise Technology Management Association Hall of Famer and an executive who has shape the Technology Expense Management industry. Please welcome Larry’s first contribution to Amalgam Insights!)

On August 22, 2019, Upland Software announced the acquisition of Cimpl (f.k.a. Etelesolv), a Montreal-based telecom expense management platform that was the market leader in the Canadian market and had expanded into the United States market. With this acquisition, Cimpl will become a part of Upland’s Project & Financial Management Solution Suite and add approximate $8 million in annual revenue.

Context for the Acquisition

The TEM (Technology Expense Management) industry has experienced a continual series of ebb-and-flow acquisitions/mergers over the past twelve years. The typical TEM acquisition/merger encompasses two or more independent entities within the realm of TEM, WEM (Wireless Expense Management) or MMS (Managed Mobility Services) merging to create a more comprehensive expense management solution portfolio with superior global delivery capabilities.

The reality is that many of these mergers are driven by economic reasons where one or both entities can reduce overhead by eliminating duplicate services. Overhead is eliminated by unifying back-office operations and amalgamating technology platforms. These types of consolidation mergers are typical in a maturing industry that is eventually dominated by a few leading solution providers representing the majority of market share. All of the leading TEM solution providers including Tangoe, MDSL and Calero encompass a long history of multiple “like-minded mergers”.

Cimpl as an outlier in the TEM market

Until this recent acquisition, Cimpl has maintained the persona of the independent dark horse of the TEM industry quietly residing in Quebec, Canada refining its multi-tenant cloud platform and progressively building its market share.

Unlike most TEM managed service solution providers, Cimpl has decided to focus on being mainly a pure software company and providing a white-label technology platform for its delivery partners. In early 2018 CIMPL stealthily started to expand its physical presence into the United States. Since its inception, Cimpl has continued to progressively achieve conservative incremental success and stay profitable in contrast to a number of TEM vendors that have gone through boom-or-bust cycles driven by external funding (or the lack thereof).

The Challenge for TEM

The traditional acquisition playbook is preventing the TEM industry from being recognized as a strategic asset by organizations. Nonetheless, the TEM industry is experiencing a dramatic paradigm shift as organizations continue to replace legacy communication services with the ever-growing spectrum of cloud-based services. Traditionally, TEM solutions have focused on validating the integrity of invoice charges across multiple vendors prior to payment and allocating expenses to the respective cost centers leveraging the leased service. Enterprises derive value from TEM solutions by enabling a centralized ICT (Information and Communications Technology) shared service to automate the lifecycle from provisioning through payment and managing the resolution of disputed invoice charges for essentially static services.

However, as organizations adopt more ephemeral cloud services that encompass multi-vendor private, public and hybrid leased environments for compute, storage, API-enabled integrations, connectivity, input/output, and telecommunications, the purpose of the centralized ICT business operation is being transformed from managing daily operations to a fiduciary broker focused on optimizing technology investments. Unlike the recurring charges that represent the majority of traditional telecom charges, cloud services are consumption-based, meaning that it’s the responsibility of the client user to deactivate and manage the appropriate configuration of contracted services based on statistical analysis and forecast of the actual usage.

In the world of cloud, the provisioning activities such as activations, changes, and deactivations are done “on-demand,” completely independent from the ICT operation. The primary focus of ITEM solutions is to manage recurring and non-recurring invoice charges in arrears. As ICT operations evolve into technology brokers, they need real-time insight underpinned by ML and AI algorithms that make cost optimization recommendations to add, consolidate, change or deactivate services based on usage trends.

Why the CIMPL acquisition will help Upland

This context brings us to the real ingenuousness of the Cimpl acquisition. In the typical quiet financial days of August when everyone is away on vacation, Upland Software announced an accretive acquisition of Cimpl with a purchase price of $23.1M in cash and a $2.6M cash holdback payable in 12 months. Upland expects the acquisition to generate annual revenue of approximately $8M, of which $7.4M is recurring. The keyword buried within all of those financial statistics is “accretive” which means their strategy is to help increase natural growth.

Upland already has an impressive complementary portfolio of profitable software solutions. A closer look at the acquisition of Cimpl shows how Upland is formulating a solution strategy to manage all aspects of the Information and Communication Technology business operations.

The strategic value of the Cimpl acquisition becomes very clear when you recognize that Upland is the first company to combine an IT Financial Management platform (ITFM), ComSci, with an IT Expense Management-based solution (ITEM), Cimpl. Upland already owns additional complementary solutions such as a document and workflow automation, a BI platform, customer engagement platform, and a knowledge-based platform. With these components, Upland is working to create an industry-leading ERP-type solution framework to automate, manage, & rationalize all aspects of ICT business operations.

Although both ITFM and ITEM support the ICT business operations, they focus on different aspects. ITFM is predominately used on the front end to manage budgets and on a monthly basis to support internal billing/chargeback activities and leveraged by the IT CFO office whereas ITEM solutions like Cimpl are used by analysts and operational managers because they focus on managing the high volumes of transactional operations and data throughout the month, including provisioning and payment of leased services such as both landline and mobile communication services and now the ever-expanding array of cloud services.

Looking Forward: Our Recommendations

In this context, take the following recommendations into account based on this acquisition.

Expect other leading TEM, ITFM, CEM/CMP (Cloud Expense Management and Cloud Management Platform) solution providers to develop competitive solution frameworks that bring multiple IT categories together from a finance and expense management perspective.

ICT managers need to evolve and transform their solution to due diligence approach beyond pursuing and leveraging independent ITFM, ITEM, CEM/CMP solutions to choosing solutions with comprehensive IT management frameworks. As IT continues to become increasingly based on subscriptions, project-based spend, and on-demand peak usage across a variety of categories, ICT managers should aim towards having a single management control plane for finance and expenses rather than depend on a variety of management solutions

Real-time management is the future of IT expense management. The next levels of operational efficacy will be underpinned by more comprehensive real-time insight that helps organizations understand the most optimal way to acquire, configure and consume inter-related cloud services and pay their invoices. This will require insights on usage, project management, service management and real-time status updates associated with expense and finance. By combining financial and operational data, ICT managers will have greater insights into the current and ongoing ROI of technology under management.

The Amalgam Insiders have 5 Key Questions for VMworld

(Editor’s Note: This week, Tom Petrocelli and Hyoun Park will be blogging and tweeting on key topics at VMworld at a time when multi-cloud management is a key issue for IT departments and Dell is spending billions of dollars. Please follow our blog and our twitter accounts TomPetrocelli, Hyounpark, and AmalgamInsights for more details this week as we cover VMworld!)

As Amalgam Insights prepares to attend VMworld, it is an especially interesting time from both an M&A and a strategic perspective as VMware completes acquisitions of its sibling company Pivotal and end-user security startup Carbon Black. As these acquisitions are in progress and Amalgam Insights has the opportunity to question executives at the top of Dell Technologies, including Pat Gelsinger and Michael Dell, Amalgam Insights will be looking forward to answers to the following questions:

1. How will VMware accelerate Pivotal’s growth post-acquisition? Back in 2013 when Pivotal was first founded, I stated in an interview that

“Pivotal is the first application platform that combines cloud, Big Data, and rapid application development and it represents a fundamental shift in enterprise IT. By creating an enterprise-grade Big Data application platform, Pivotal has the opportunity to quickly unlock value from transactional data that has traditionally been archived and ignored without requiring a long period of up training, integration, and upfront development time.”

 

The potential for Pivotal was immense. Even in light of The Death of Big Data, Pivotal still has both the toolkits and methodology to support intelligent analytic and algorithm-based application architectures at a time when VMware needs to increase its support there in light of the capabilities of IBM-Red Hat, Oracle, and other competitors. We’re looking forward to getting some answers!

2. How will the Carbon Black acquisition be integrated into VMware’s security and end-user computing offerings? Carbon Black is a Boston-area security startup focused on discovering malicious activity on endpoints and will be a strong contributor to WorkspaceONE as VMware seeks to manage and secure the mobile-cloud ecosystem. And along with NSX Cloud for networking and CloudHealth Technologies for multi-cloud management, Carbon Black will help VMware to tell a stronger end-to-end cloud story. But the potential and timeline for integration will end up defining the success of this 2 billion+ dollar acquisition.

3. Where does CloudHealth Technologies fit into VMware’s multi-cloud management story? Although this 500 million dollar acquisition looked promising when it occurred last year, the Dell family previously invested in Enstratius to manage multi-cloud environments and that acquisition ended up going nowhere. What did VMware learn from the last time around and how will CloudHealth Technologies stay top of mind with all these other acquisitions going on?

4. Where is VMware going with its machine learning and AI capabilities for data center management? I can’t take credit for this one, as the great Maribel Lopez brought this up (go ahead and follow her on LinkedIn!). But VMware needs to continue advancing the Software-Defined Data Center and to ease client challenges in supporting hybrid cloud environments.

5. How is VMware bringing virtualization and Kubernetes together? With VMware’s acquisitions of Heptio and Bitnami, VMware has put itself right in the middle of the Kubernetes universe. But virtualization and Kubernetes are the application support equivalent of data center and cloud, two axes on the spectrum of what is possible. How will VMware simplify this componentization for clients who are seeking hybrid cloud help?

We’ll be looking for answers to these questions and more as we roam the halls of Moscone and put VMware and Dell executives to the test! Stay tuned for more!

VMware plus Pivotal Equals Platforms

(Editor’s Note: This week, Tom Petrocelli and Hyoun Park will be blogging and tweeting on key topics at VMworld at a time when multi-cloud management is a key issue for IT departments and Dell is spending billions of dollars. Please follow our blog and our twitter accounts TomPetrocelli, Hyounpark, and AmalgamInsights for more details this week as we cover VMworld!)

On August 22, 2019, VMware announced the acquisition of Pivotal. The term “acquisition” seems a little weird here since both are partly owned by Dell. It’s a bit like Dell buying Dell. Strangeness aside, this is a combination that makes a lot of sense.

For nearly eight years now, the concept of a microservices architecture has been taking shape. Microservices is an architectural idea wherein applications are broken up into many, small, bits of code – or services – that provide a limited set of functions and operate independently. Applications are assembled Lego-like, from component microservices. The advantages of microservices are that different parts of a system can evolve independently, updates are less disruptive, and systems become more resilient because system components are less likely to harm each other. The primary vehicle for microservices are containers (which I’ve covered in my Market Guide: Seven Decision Points When Considering Containers), that are deployed in clusters to enhance resiliency and more easily scale up resources.

The Kubernetes open-source software has emerged as the major orchestrator for containers and provides a stable base to build microservice platforms. These platforms must deploy not only the code that represents the business logic, but a set of system services, such as network, tracing, logging, and storage, as well. Container cluster platforms are, by nature, complex assortments of many moving parts – hard to build and hard to maintain.

The big problem has been that most container technology has been open-source and deployed piecemeal, leaving forward-looking companies to assemble their own container cluster microservices platforms. Building out and then maintaining these DIY platforms requires continued investment in people and other resources. Most companies either can’t afford or are unwilling to make investments in this amount of engineering talent and training. Subsequently, there are a lot of companies that have been left out of the container platform game.

The big change has been in the emergence of commercial platforms (many of which were discussed in my SmartList Market Guide on Service Mesh and Building Out Microservices Networking), based on open-source projects, that bring to IT everything it needs to deploy container-based microservices. All the cloud companies, especially Google, which was the original home of Kubernetes, and open-source software vendors such as Red Hat (recently acquired by IBM) with their OpenShift platform, have some form of Kubernetes-based platform. There may be as many as two dozen commercial platforms based on Kubernetes today.

This brings us to VMware and Pivotal. Both companies are in the platform business. VMware is still the dominant player in Virtual Machine (VM) hypervisors, which underpin most systems today, and are marketing a Kubernetes distribution. They also recently purchased Bitnami, a company that makes technology for bundling containers for deployment. At the time, I said:

“This is VMware doubling down on software for microservices and container clusters. Prima facie, it looks like a good move.”

Pivotal markets a Kubernetes distribution as well but also one of the major vendors for Cloud Foundry, another platform that runs containers, VMs, and now Kubernetes (which I discuss in my Analyst Insight: Cloud Foundry and Kubernetes: Different Paths to Microservices). The Pivotal portfolio also includes Spring Boot, one of the primary frameworks for building microservices in Java, and an extensive Continuous Integration/Continuous Deployment capability based on BOSH (part of Cloud Foundry), Concourse, and other open source tools.

Taken together, VMware and Pivotal offer a variety of platforms for newer microservices and legacy VM architectures that will fit the needs of a big swatch of large enterprises. This will give them both reach and depth in large enterprise companies and allow their sales teams to sell whichever platform a customer needs at the moment while providing a path to newer architectures. From a product portfolio perspective, VMware plus Pivotal is a massive platform play that will help them to compete more effectively against the likes of IBM/Red Hat or the big cloud vendors.

On their own, neither VMWare or Pivotal had the capacity to compete against Red Hat OpenShift, especially now that that Red Hat has access to IBM’s customer base and sales force. Together they will have a full range of technology to bring to bear as the Fortune 500 moves into microservices. The older architectures are also likely to remain in place either because of legacy reasons or because they just fit the applications they serve. VMware/Pivotal will be in a position to service those companies as well.

VMware could easily have decided to pick up any number of Kubernetes distribution companies such as Rancher or Platform9. None of them would have provided the wide range of platform choices that Pivotal brings to the table. And besides, this keeps it all in the Dell family.