Tag Archives: Vendors

10 RPA Vendors to Watch | IT Infrastructure Advice, Discussion, Community

Robotic process automation is hot right now. Here’s one reason why. RPA is viewed as a shortcut workaround way to achieve the benefits of digital transformation incrementally, as each bot is implemented, rather than waiting for a multi-year migration or upgrade to be completed before realizing the benefits. RPA enables organizations to automate repetitive tasks that slow down work and workers.

Gartner says that RPA is the fastest-growing software subsegment officially tracked by the company, with year-over-year growth of 63%.

RPA software can be used to automate any number of tasks. For instance, it can move data in or out of third-party application systems, therefore serving as the rescuer of siloed information. That’s because it can connect the data of two applications that may come from two different groups inside a company or even two competing vendors. RPA can also extract information from documents or systems and prepare it for the workers who need it.

“There are a great many opportunities for RPA tools to deliver significant value to enterprises struggling to leverage a patchwork of existing systems,” Gartner said in its first ever Magic Quadrant report about RPA vendors and systems, published in June 2019. “At the core, they help organizations unlock the data and value associated with their historical technology documents.”

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Let’s Make a Deal: Negotiating with IT Vendors | IT Infrastructure Advice, Discussion, Community

If you work in an enterprise IT organization that’s been around for a more than a decade or two, it’s a pretty good bet that you do business with one of the so-called megavendors — IBM, Microsoft, Oracle, and/or SAP. These established vendors have had deep roots in enterprise businesses for many years with ERP systems, databases, and more.

And if you think that your business is under pressure from market and industry disruptors, you should also realize that the same market forces are in play for these megavendors. The cloud has changed their licensing and business models. They are also under strain as these models have shifted, and their sales tactics have shifted, too, as they look to drive upsell revenue. These companies want to increase your spending year-over-year in the cloud with subscription licensing. They have a strategic product set that promotes the sale of other products, too.

Before you head into your contract negotiations with these megavendors, you need to prepare your own tactics and strategies. That’s according to Melanie Alexander, a director analyst at Gartner specializing in vendor contract negotiations. She provided some perspective on the best ways to prepare for your negotiations with these vendors during a session at the recent Gartner Data and Analytics Summit in Orlando, Florida.

“Their main purpose in life is for you to spend more money with them,” Alexander said. They will want to upsell you to use the full platform — to get you on the hardware and middleware and application stack, she said. They have a strategic product set and those products help them promote the sales of their other products. They want to get you into their cloud and lock you into subscription pricing. They want you to increase your spending with them year over year.

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Infrastructure Vendors Making Strides in 2019

Enterprises both large and small are increasingly looking to the latest technologies to help gain a competitive advantage. Because of this, every aspect of an organization’s infrastructure — from the network foundation to how apps are managed and served — is under review to ensure efficiencies. It’s also why we’ve seen budget increases on infrastructure components, creating opportunity for infrastructure vendors of all types.

Many trends happening now will continue into 2019. For one, businesses are spending heavily on the latest data networking platforms — specifically on the WAN edge. With the increasing interest in public cloud and remote worker models, networks must be re-designed to support disaggregated applications, data and users. Thus, new technologies such as SD-WAN, endpoint management and intent-based networking are of particular interest.

Advancements in application delivery and management are also areas in which IT is looking to gain efficiencies. Today’s businesses need to be able to quickly pivot their IT infrastructure to adjust to changes to their business vertical. Popular technology vendors that specialize in virtualization, container management, and data storage have made our list for this very reason.

Lastly, today’s business leaders have finally learned to understand the importance of data security within a business. Thus, they expect security to be built in to every aspect of the infrastructure from day one. Security platforms that specifically target cloud, hybrid and multi-cloud architectures are high on everyone’s IT budgetary spending list.

Top infrastructure vendors in 2019

Our picks for infrastructure vendors to watch in 2019 is filled with established companies embracing software and service-based options, along with startups offering a host of innovative technologies. Let’s look at the top companies (listed alphabetically) that you should keep a close eye on in the coming year. Check out the hot vendors in other segments of IT in InformationWeek’s full Vendors to Watch package.

Apstra (@ApstraInc) is an early pioneer in the new wave of intent-based networking, with software that’s designed to automate design and management of multi-vendor data center networks. In 2019, look for the eager young company to go head-to-head with Cisco. Apstra’s key differentiating factor is a vendor-neutral platform that appeals to many businesses looking to avoid vendor lock-in.

Broadcom Inc.(@Broadcom) is most widely known for the semiconductor manufacturing side of its business. However, several recent acquisitions — and near acquisitions — have landed the company on our list. Most recently, Broadcom’s interest in purchasing CA Technologies tells us that Broadcom is seeking to enter the infrastructure market from an infrastructure management software perspective. Thus, the company can continue to sell components to infrastructure hardware vendors while beginning to compete directly with those same vendors on the software side.

Cisco (@Cisco) is most famous for its network hardware business, which it dominates year after year. That said, CEO Chuck Robbins is clearing making the necessary steps for the company to pivot to a software and licensing-focused company. Tremendous growth and emphasis on the company’s cloud managed Meraki networking platform is proof of that strategy.

Citrix (@Citrix) virtualization and VDI platforms have been popular for years. In 2019, IT organizations that are interested in better managing their customer end devices may be turning to Citrix for what many consider to be one of the best unified endpoint management platforms on the market.

CoreOS (@coreos) provides its own Linux distribution and Kubernetes container management stack along with a management console to enable large deployments on varied infrastructure. In 2019, look for CoreOS to be a dominate force in the enterprise. 

Darktrace (@Darktrace) fuses artificial intelligence with data security. It’s a truly unique approach to cyber security and is winning over enterprise IT security teams that are looking for automated tools to fight back against advanced threats.

Dell EMC (@DellEMC) is an IT infrastructure powerhouse with a wide range of compute, storage, networking and virtualization business units. While the merger of Dell and EMC may be more than two years old, many feel the combined organization is finally hitting its stride. As the company looks at becoming a publicly traded company, rumors continue to circulate regarding a potential merger (or reverse merger) with VMware, possibly as early as 2019.

ExtraHop (@ExtraHop) sells an appliance that analyzes network data across the infrastructure to give visibility into application performance, availability, and security. The company’s Reveal(x) security analytics platform, launched in early 2018, is gaining traction and will continue to gain customer interest well into the new year.

F5 Networks (@F5Networks) has pivoted its core business toward the two hot infrastructure categories of cloud computing and data security. Of particular interest to enterprise organizations in 2019 will likely be F5’s SSL orchestrator and secure access control platforms.  

Forcepoint (@ForcepointSec) is taking a novel approach to combatting cyber attacks. The company is using what it calls human-centric security. The company feels that the most vulnerable point of attack today is the interaction space “between people and data” and the approach is intended to learn the behaviors of users and protect data assets when those behaviors are altered.

Intel (@Intel) is most well known for designing and manufacturing semiconductor chips. That said, it also invests heavily in advanced infrastructure technologies including artificial intelligence, data security and wireless data. Of special interest in 2019 will be the company’s efforts to create an end-to-end 5G product line from the carrier to the end-user device.

Lenovo (@LenovoODC) is widely known for its laptops. However, the company has recently made advancements in its data center lineup that are likely to appeal to enterprise customers maintaining on-premises or private data center clouds. In 2019, watch for Lenovo’s ODM+ strategy in the hyperscale market. 

Lumina Networks (@LuminaNetworks) is riding the SDN wave with a pure-play open source platform built on OpenDaylight. While the company has largely had success with tier-1 telcos, look for large enterprises begin to show interest in Lumina’s SDN platform in 2019.

NetApp (@NetApp) is one of many companies that has had to rethink its enterprise product portfolio to remain relevant. In 2018, the company successfully shifted away from its “bread-and-butter” NAS storage options and is now promoting hyperconverged platforms and cloud-connected flash products of interest to enterprise customers.

NS1 (@NS1) is a leader in the managed DNS and traffic management space. Most intriguing for enterprise customers in 2019 will be the company’s recently launched Private DNS platform. It’s a self-hosted solution for customers that are seeking to automate and ultimately speed up DNS changes for DevOps teams that seek rapid deployment schedules.

Portworx (@portwx) is a pioneer in the emerging area of persistent container storage. The company recently announced the availability of an SDK to give DevOps teams access over how their storage is distributed and managed.

Rubrik (@rubrikInc) is a cloud data management company that is largely focused on enterprise backup and recovery. The company recently made news when former Cisco CEO John Chambers personally invested in and joined Rubrik as a board advisor. 

SwiftStack (@SwiftStack) sells a commercial distribution of the open source OpenStack Swift object storage platform designed for clouds. Specifically, SwiftStack is targeting the multi-cloud data management market. Recent new features for the SwiftStack controller include deterministic placement of data across multiple regions and end-to-end visibility throughout multiple cloud provider infrastructures.

Violin Systems (@ViolinSystems) is a flash storage and data management company. It recently acquired the data storage IP from X-IO, which means that Systems will likely begin targeting mid-market and small business customers in the new year. 

VMware (@VMware) has solidified its place in infrastructure through its hypervisor, virtualization and cloud platforms. Customers seeking to build multi-cloud environments in 2019 will be looking at VMware platforms to manage them efficiently and provide maximum visibility. The recent acquisition of CloudHealth Technologies means that VMware has yet another set of multi-cloud management tools to offer customers.

Learn about more hot vendors in InformationWeek’s full Vendors to Watch package.

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5 Hot Enterprise Backup and Recovery Vendors

The backup and recovery market has become a crowded space, with hundreds of vendors vying for market share. At the higher end of the market, the enterprise data center segment, the bar is higher and the result is that just a handful of software vendors command most of the sales.

With most tape drive vendors exiting the market, support of other backup media has become essential to maintaining a vendor’s business. Most initially pushed for hard disk-based backup, but the latest trend is to offer cloud storage solutions as well.

In what had become a somewhat stale and undifferentiated market, both HDD/SSD and cloud opened up new opportunities and something of a “space race” has occurred in the industry over the last few years. Backup and recovery vendors have added compression and deduplication, which can radically reduce the size of a typical backup image. This is important when data is moved to a remote storage site via WAN links, since these have lagged well behind compute horsepower and LAN bandwidth.

Many backup and recovery packages create a backup gateway that stores the backup at LAN speeds and then send it off across the WAN at a more leisurely pace. The benefit is a reduced backup window, though with some risk of data loss if the backup is corrupted prior to completing the move to the remote site.

Today, the target of choice for backup data is the cloud. It’s secure, very scalable and new low-traffic services cost very little to rent. The backup gateway encrypts all data so backups are hack-proof, though not necessarily deletion-proof, which requires action by the cloud service provider to provide storage types with only a well-protected manual deletion path.

Continuous data protection (CDP) is one of the hot backup services today; it manifests as either server-side snapshots or high-frequency polling by backup software for changed objects. Using these approaches reduces the data loss window, though it can hurt performance. SSDs help solve most of the performance issues, but daytime WAN traffic will increase.

Noting that access to backup storage tends to occur within just a few hours of the backup itself, some of the newcomers to the space offer a caching function, where data already moved to the remote site is held in the backup gateway for a couple of days. This speeds recovery of cached files.

With applications such as Salesforce, MS Office and Exchange common in the enterprise, optimizations capabilities to enable backup without disrupting operations are common features among the main players in datacenter backup. Many vendors also now offer backup for virtual machines and their contents and container backup will no doubt become common as well.

There is a school of thought that says that continuous snapshots, with replicas stored in the cloud, solve both backup and disaster recovery requirements, but there are issues with this concept of perpetual storage, not least of which is that a hacker could delete both primary data and the backups. Not paying your cloud invoice on time can do that, too! The idea is attractive, however, since license fees for software mostly disappear.

Readers are likely familiar with “old-guard” established backup and recovery vendors such as Veritas, Commvault, Dell EMC, and IBM. In this slideshow, we look at five of up-and-coming vendors, in alphabetical order, that are driving innovation in enterprise backup and recovery.

(Image: deepadesigns/Shutterstock)

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IT Pros Review Top Vendors

Users cite pros and cons of HPE BladeSystem, Cisco UCS B-series, and Lenovo Flex System

In many enterprise organizations, blade servers reduce an enterprise’s footprint by saving space and reducing overall power consumption. IT professionals consider a number of factors when selecting a blade server for their enterprise, including a variety of hardware integrations, easy management, and minimal energy usage.

According to product reviews by IT Central Station users, top blade server vendors in the market include HPE BladeSystem, Cisco UCS B-Series Blade Servers, and Lenovo Flex System Blade Servers.

Here is what our users have to say about working with these products, describing which features they find most valuable and offering insight on where they see room for improvement.

HPE BladeSystem

A senior network administrator at a government agency said he finds HPE BladeSystems’ remote management capabilities as one of its most valuable features:

“Having implemented this solution, it has enabled us to have remote management of equipment problems, to identify the power for reviewing the status of errors without having to be on-site, but remotely from anywhere required. It allows immediate access to the server management and immediate detection of the access logs.”

An enterprise architect at a financial services firm lauds the virtualization capabilities of the product:

“The virtual connect side of networking and the manageability through that is by far the biggest win for us. The blades come and go as racks do, but the virtualization back of it means a lot less hands on and a lot more manageability.”


However, the systems engineer of business technology at a transportation company noted that HPE BladeSystems can improve in terms of scalability:

“I would like to see better scalability. We have been using this solution for five years, and sometimes there are scalability issues with relatively older generations. If planned well in advance, it will make your life easier.”

Cisco UCS B-Series

Matthew M., a data center practice manager, takes a holistic point of view on what makes the Cisco UCS B-Series blade server valuable.

“The UCS environment as a whole. The hardware is easily swappable and, utilizing the boot from SAN option, you can always keep your server intact due to the service profiles. So if your blade has failures and you have a hot spare, you can transfer the service profile to a new blade and be operational in mere minutes. Huge for uptime and perfect for environments like VMware ESXi hosts, which is what I use them for primarily.”

A senior system specialist at a construction company wrote that running Cisco UCS in a Vblock infrastructure is particularly beneficial for his company:

“Running in the VCE Vblock gives us the flexibility to deploy a large virtual workload of servers. We use a mix of mainly Windows servers and a few Linux appliances. I had one blade server fail. The replacement was up and operating quickly after the blade server was swapped over.”

But Brad F., a data center systems engineer, noted areas where the Cisco UCS B-Series that could improve:

“The HTML5 interface is a much needed improvement over the old Java interface, but still needs a little work. When customers are first introduced to UCS, the setup is somewhat complex. Yet the learning curve is reasonable.”

Lenovo Flex System Blade Servers

Alejandro D., system X & P/blade/storage/ SAN hardware and software support specialist, cited Lenovo Blade Servers’ redundancy as a valuable feature:

“The features of this product that I value most are total redundancy in all its components: power, cooling, communications, fiber, administration and blades, and a data center in 8U; you can accommodate 14 servers in a BladeCenter H chassis.”

Muhammad S., a senior system administrator at a consumer goods company, provided insight into the product’s central management capabilities:

“Central management of all blade servers and performance: It helps us to access blade servers remotely even at boot time, as well, when we can access the BIOS setup remotely. Other than that, we can restart and shut down blade servers from a single console.”

However, Amirreza Y., a design and development engineer at a communications service provider, said the Lenovo falls short on the storage front:

“The storage part of this product needs to be improved. If storage is also attached to this bundle, it would be a good solution for the databases… In the new version of this product, the Flex System, the storage feature is also available with the CPU and memory.”

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