Gone, but not forgotten. And now its back. If many people had forgotten about Yammer once Microsoft released the communications platform Teams, it has reappeared again, this time with added enterprise appeal.

Last November at Ignite, Redmond, Wash.-based Microsoft announced that it was working on Yammer and that it was looking at enabling users to pull it into Teams. That work is now finished, and Microsoft has released a new app in Teams called Communities, or Communities Yammer App.

Yammer Communities, like the full version of Yammer, is meant for users who need to broadcast information to a wider group using the usual signals and flags inside Teams. It aims to keep everyone connected to what is happening in their community’s conversations, share announcements, attend live events, and connect with co-workers just as you would in the Yammer web or mobile apps.

It enables, for example, community branding with photos and allows announcements to be pinned to the top of a page. It also lets organizations conduct polls and solicit expert opinions with "at-mentions" messaging and allows individuals to mark the best answer to posted questions. It also enables organizations to initiate video broadcasts within the new Yammer App via the Microsoft Stream video service, which requires having an Office 365 E1, E3 or E5 subscription

For the moment, though, it is only available for desktop. In a blog about the release, Murali Sitaram, general manager of Yammer and Office 365 Groups wrote explained that it will be bringing it to mobile soon, too. If the meantime, the new Yammer mobile apps that were also announced at Ignite last year have been pushed into general availability for both Windows and Mac. This means that a perfect Yammer experience is not available on mobile phones.

These are all interesting developments for Microsoft since its bought Yammer in 2012, for the incredible price of $1.2 billion. Since then, Microsoft has struggled to find a real role for it, although it did finally fit nicely into Office 365 and the current Microsoft 365.

Microsoft has also insisted since the release of Teams in 2017 that Yammer and Teams both have separated roles in the enterprise, and they do serve different functions. However, this really looks like the pulling-together of two different apps that should, at least at first view, complement each other nicely.

The next step for the Yammer Communities app is its release for mobile devices, which will give it a lot more remote working appeal, which at the moment is one of the key asks of any app designed for the digital workplace.

Alfresco Services Enable Cross-Silo Content Search

If anyone was wondering what Boston-based Alfresco was going to do with Technology Services Group (TSG), a Chicago based Enterprise Content Management software and services firm, which it bought in March, the answer wasn’t long coming. Alfresco has just announced a new content federation and management service, enabling remote employees to gain a unified view of information across content siloes.

TSG provides expert advice, services and solutions — including strategic advisory, application development, software engineering, and software products — to many clients across North America.

In addition to content management services, it also offers no-code interfaces for case management, annotation, as well as additional massive scale options that leverage NoSQL approaches. As such, it was a perfect buy for Alfresco especially given that TSG was a long-time partner.

With the new release, it now offers a system that provides employees with ‘manage-in-place’ capabilities – allowing them to simultaneously search across more than sixty different business and content repositories from a single application.

This is particularly useful now with many businesses working remotely during the current health crisis with many of those companies likely to continue operating with many remote workers in the future. Alfresco’s new service allows them to manage files across repositories, without ever leaving the Alfresco platform.

Federation services has become a top roadmap priority and a trend that is shaping content services strategies for enterprise. According to a recent Forrester report - The Five Key Trends That Will Shape Your 2019 Content Services Strategy Landscape (behind paywall) - large enterprises often have multiple content management applications.

Firms that grow via acquisition will have overlapping and redundant systems. While migration to modern platforms and cloud services is on many road maps, the time and effort can be a barrier to innovation and modernization.

Content integration and federation services help organizations harvest, sync, and normalize content and related metadata across multiple systems. Cross-repository applications can surface content from a range of systems, hiding complexity from end users.

Searching for the right information in one system can be difficult, but this is compounded when multiple systems are in play — negatively impacting employee productivity and challenging regulatory compliance and records management. Additionally, with more people working remotely, the ability to manage and control an organization’s content securely is further exacerbated.

With Alfresco Federation Services, employees can find the information they need faster, and then be able to perform the tasks they want to — all from their desktop, no matter where they are located

Alfresco Federation Services also protects the integrity of content with records management and open government standards compliance, including SIO 15489, ISO 16175, DoD 5015.02 CH2 and CH3, VERS, EgovG, and MoReq.

While there has been a lot of discussion over the past weeks about the importance of communication apps either through social networks or through video conferencing and calls, none of this is worth anything unless, workers can access data and information. This effectively deals with this by enabling multi-silo search across content contained in just about any content management system on the market now.

Learning Opportunities

Amazon Web Services Chatbot Helps DevOps Through Slack

If you work on a DevOps team, monitoring systems and responding to events require major context switching. This is particularly true now with so many people working remotely. In a day — or a single notification — teams might need to cycle among Slack, email, text messages, chat rooms, phone calls, video conversations and the Amazon Web Services (AWS) console.

Synthesizing the data from all those different sources isn’t just hard work; it’s inefficient. Seattle-based AWS has just announced that its AWS Chatbot service for sending notifications to DevOps teams is now generally available across all its commercial regions.

AWS Chatbot, which has been pushed out into general availability, is an interactive agent that makes it easy to monitor and interact with your AWS resources in your Slack channels and Amazon Chime chat rooms. With it, users can receive alerts, run commands to return diagnostic information, invoke AWS Lambda functions, and create AWS support case

Launched in beta in June 2019, AWS Chatbot enables security, billing and system stability alerts to be sent to DevOps teams via the popular collaboration tool Slack. At the time of its launch, AWS explained that with just a few clicks users and teams can be receiving notifications and issuing commands in chosen channels or chat rooms. This means that teams do not have to switch contexts to collaborate

As a result, it is possible to update, collaborate, and respond faster to operational events, security findings, CI/CD workflows, budget, and other alerts for applications running in your AWS accounts.

More to the point, it comes loaded with pre-configured permissions templates, which of course can be customized to fit a given organization. It is also, according to Slack, easy to install through an intuitive setup wizard that only takes a few minutes to configure in the digital workplace.

Google Expands Reach of Anthos

Elsewhere, Mountain View, Calif.-based Google has announced some key updates to its Anthos application platform, enabling it to support more workloads in different computing environments at a reduced cost.

Google Anthos is a hybrid cloud application development platform that runs atop the open-source Kubernetes container orchestration software. It is designed to host applications that can run unmodified on both existing on-premises hardware and public clouds.

A blog post by Jennifer Lin, vice president of product management at Google Cloud explained, “Since first announcing Anthos, our multi-cloud and hybrid application platform, just under two years ago, we’ve been continuously delivering new capabilities to help organizations of all sizes develop, deploy, and manage applications more quickly and flexibly. Today, we are expanding Anthos to support more kinds of workloads, in more kinds of environments, in many more locations,” she wrote.

As a result, whether you run workloads in Google Cloud, on-prem, or in third-party cloud providers, Anthos offers a consistent platform on which your teams can build applications that can be changed and adopted in rapidly changing environments.

Confluent Raises $270 million

Finally this week,  Mountain View, Calif.-based Confluent, which develops a data streaming platform based on Apache Kafka, capable of not only publish-and-subscribe, but also the storage and processing of data within the stream, has just announced that it has raised $270 million in Series E funding. This follows last year’s $125 million Series D funding at which point the company was valued at $2.5 billion. Their total funding today is $456 million.

In a statement from the company, it says the adoption of event streaming as the platform for all current and historical data is rapidly accelerating as demand for real-time digital experiences are higher than ever. This groundswell of adoption led Confluent to double its annual recurring revenue year over year in 2019 and increase Confluent Cloud revenue more than 450 percent year over year.

Confluent was created by the original founders of Apache Kafka. Jay Kreps, CEO of Confluent says that it will use the money to enable Project Metamorphosis, he said, the major step for event streaming is going to come from reimagining what is possible with the many capabilities of modern cloud computing.

Over the next eight months beginning in May, Confluent will announce major capabilities or highlight new product announcements on the first Wednesday of each month.

Each release in 2020 will address the major technical challenges organizations face when putting event streaming at the heart of their business, and 2021 will kick off the next wave of innovation that will transform how businesses serve their customers. More on this as it happens.