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Microsoft News & Analysis

Gartner Names Wise Choices for Workplace Social Software

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In the market for social software? Gartner included 17 vendors in this year’s Magic Quadrant for Social Software in the Workplace. 

Like all of the other Garter Magic Quadrants, it's quite difficult to make the list. And squeezing into the Leaders quadrant is especially challenging. In this case, only Microsoft, IBM, Jive, Salesforce and Tibco managed to earn a spot. 

However, Gartner points out that Challengers offer solutions that have a strong market presence, and adds that these vendors have the market position and resources to become Leaders down the line. VMWare, Atlassian and Sitrion earned spots in this quadrant.

What's Behind Microsoft's MSN Portal Revamp?

2014-9-9 msn redesigned portal.jpgTwo decades after it launched MSN, Microsoft is applying its "mobile-first, cloud-first" direction to the MSN portal, which it claims has over 425 million users daily. The enhanced personalization capabilities will provide advertisers with a single place to buy space that can be synched across devices and audiences.

Office 365 Now Makes You Look Smarter via Office Delve

Even though it’s cloudy in Redmond, Wash. today, it actually looks brighter.

Oops sorry, it’s you that looks brighter if you’re one of the Office 365 Business users who is getting first access to Office Delve. Microsoft begins rolling it out today.

Office Delve’s (formerly codenamed Oslo) big promise is to present you with the right information at the right time without you needing to look for it. It makes information “even more valuable” according to Julia White, general manager of Office 365 Technical Product Management.

Artificial Intelligence is Resurrecting Enterprise Search

2014-08-Sept-Oleson-Image1.jpgThe future of enterprise search is bright. Recent announcements show enterprise search is taking a number of different forms. Microsoft has been stirring things up in the cloud with Delve -- the next generation Office Graph, based on search-driven discovery of activities and feeds. And some unlikely partnerships have been announced to combine consumer mobile technology with an enterprise injection. I'm ready for an enterprise search that understands me and gives me results based on my interests, location and social distance (i.e., people I work with the most). We've also seen the use of voice for search gain popularity as the lines between work and life blur.

Was Gartner's Social Software Smackdown a Lovefest?

Gartner hosted a “Social Software Smackdown” panel at its Catalyst Conference last month. After talking with its host, analyst Larry Cannell, it’s clear that the participants from Microsoft/Yammer, Salesforce/Chatter and Box don’t feel that they’re in a turf war, at least just yet.

That's true in spite of the fact that Gartner’s most recent Magic Quadrant for Social Software in the Workplace noted there’s little difference in the products these companies provide.

 “We are in the early stages of this market with a tremendous upside for enterprises and workers,” Cannell wrote in his takeaway notes.

The 'Drives Race' - The Battle for Cloud-Based File Storage

2014-05-September-Buy-of-the-Week.jpgInspiration comes from strange places. Last week on the radio I heard a DJ talking about how he still uses his VCR (for those of you that are too young to remember, that is what preceded DVRs). My first memory of VCRs was in a commercial that ran during an interview with Ronald Reagan. Although I was too young to understand the point, Reagan spent much of the interview discussing how we must rebuild our military, which was later branded by pundits as another “Arms Race.” Hence the name for this post. But back to the VCR ....

In that commercial, the VCRs were advertised for upward of $500 (that’s around $1000 in today’s money), but as more options came out, prices started falling. When DVDs came out, VCRs dropped under $100 and it seemed that they would soon be relegated to the scrap heap next to record players. Yet many households still have VCRs (and record players). Mine is disconnected, sitting in a cardboard box and likely doesn’t even work, but I am not throwing it away. The thing is, I still have a lot of tapes. Between kids’ birthday parties, family dinners and even videos of my old dog, I feel better knowing it’s there.

Cloud-based storage (and Drives in particular) share many similarities with VCRs.

Microsoft is Aggressively Expanding its Office Store

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At the end of a week that saw Microsoft piling on functionality and cash incentives to capture a bigger slice of the enterprise market, including businesses with a mere 150 seats, it also announced an aggressive expansion of its Office store and more languages to capture new markets.

While it's obvious Microsoft is going to push its own products in its own store, it will also highlight third party apps that integrate with Microsoft tools.

Microsoft Cushions Google's Blows with Cash

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Yes, Google is encroaching into Microsoft’s traditional business space in a vicious productivity fight. But Google's rebranding of its Enterprise Business as Google for Work yesterday seems to be a tacit acceptance — for the moment, at least — that Microsoft is the Enterprise Daddy.

Microsoft, meanwhile, has responded to Google's blows with a number of financial incentives that must have many Chief Financial Officers salivating over their ledgers.

Microsoft: Pimp Your Office 365 Ride

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When it comes to customer experience and engagement strategies, everyone knows appearance is everything. If that seems a bit shallow, Microsoft doesn’t seem to care. It just announced that it is allowing enterprises and users pimp their Office 365  — within reason, of course.

Starting this week, the new functionality will enable users to customize and personalize their Office 365 suite. The result: enterprises that deploy the platform will be able to give it a makeover to better reflect their corporate identities.

Are Hortonworks + Hive Community Paving Hadoop's Future?

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Marry a big vision and a vibrant open source community and you’ll get something pretty special. In this case we’re talking about delivery on the Stinger initiative, which teamed engineers from Hadoop distro provider Hortonworks with more than 140 developers to advance interactive SQL querying ability on Apache Hive at scale in pure open source.

The initiative, which was completed in April, brought together over 390,000 lines of code contributed by developers from 44 companies, to provide business analysts and data workers with one powerful engine for SQL queries on big data sets at speed and at petabyte scale.

It does something that other big data solutions like it do not do: it gives users a single, simple tool to use for either interactive or batch processing.

Why Google Is Rebranding Its Enterprise Division

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Here's a riddle for you: Why is Google rebranding of its Enterprise business?

Last night, Google announced the division that sells Google Drive and Gmail, among other services, is changing its name to Google for Work.

The announcement left a large number of observers underwhelmed. But the long-term vision behind the move may cause a lot of vendors concern about their future in a world where Google is seriously targeting the small business space.
 

Is Microsoft the Caped Crusader of Email Privacy?

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Jumpin' Jehoshaphat, Batman! Looks like Microsoft is defending email privacy. This, after it confirmed over the weekend that it would not be handing over email data to US federal regulators.

The decision follows a ruling on Friday by a US judge, which instructed the company to turn over email stored in Ireland to US prosecutors. But Microsoft does not plan to turn over the emails, and plans to appeal, a company spokesperson said.

Building a Hybrid Bridge to the Microsoft Cloud

2014-29-August-Rope-Bridge.jpgWhen Satya Nadella announced Microsoft’s new Mobile-First, Cloud-First strategy, he drew a line in the sand with Microsoft employees and set the company on a new course. When Microsoft COO, Kevin Turner reiterated the message at the World Wide Partner Conference in July, he sent partners scrambling to get cloud certified, saying “Selling on-premises software was good for you and us for a long time but the future lies in the cloud and mobility, and Microsoft plans to go in that direction with our partner community intact.”

Customers have felt the shift as well as they ponder what solutions can be cloud based and how to integrate them without significant effort and cost. Some organizations look at Office 365 and feel insecure about moving to a multi-tenant environment. Many organizations have significant investments in on-premises applications and infrastructure so moving to the cloud will not be an easy process.

These critical business systems have kept the wheels of commerce running for some time and have been built up with many layers of complexity and integration. Strict compliance regulations prevent many companies from exposing data in a cloud environment. With these constraints and issues in mind Microsoft has created a number of hybrid options that allow companies to selectively migrate enterprise solutions or build new applications that use cloud services while maintaining an on-prem infrastructure.

Let’s look at the options.

Zocalo + Amazon Web Services Could Be Game Changer

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Things are already pretty messy in the productivity space between Microsoft and Google. But it could get a whole lot messier.

Amazon Web Services (AWS)  just announced that its document storage, sharing and collaboration application for the enterprises is now on general release.

Amazon Zocalo has been in limited preview since July, but is now available to all AWS customers with bargain basement prices, and could be a game changer in the document collaboration and sharing and sync space.

Enterprise File Sync & Share Solutions: What's the Difference?

2014-29-August-Confusion.jpgHey IT Manager: if you don’t think your company has a file sync and share solution, you’re fooling yourself. By some estimates, over one third of your employees are using one as many as four times per day. And if protecting your company’s information is your responsibility that spells trouble. Because whether you want to admit it or not, you've lost control.

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