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Bayshore Technologies, a division of Vology, proudly accepted the Visionary Leadership award for 2012 at Citrix Summit 2013 in Anaheim this week..............
REDMOND, Wash. — May 23, 2013 — Data technology experts and startup veterans Terence Craig and Mary Ludloff founded PatternBuilders with a singular vision: to make it practical and easy for enterprises everywhere to harness big data and make better, faster decisions — without hiring a team of experts.
“We found it disconcerting that there was such a huge divide between big data excitement and actual adoption rates,” said Craig, CEO and chief technology officer at PatternBuilders. “Taking advantage of big data analytics often requires a budget, toolset and in-house expertise far beyond what most enterprises can muster. Mary and I founded PatternBuilders because we thought there must be a better approach.”
Big data analytics is about finding answers to questions derived from data with high rates of volume, velocity or variety (singularly and in concert with one another). Enterprises can use big data analytics to investigate many types of business problems, such as the following:
A publicly traded enterprise wants to assess the impact of external social media activity on its stock price, based on factors including message sentiment, time of day, geographic location, and Klout scores of the people posting or tweeting.
A nonprofit health organization needs to quickly and accurately recommend ways to halt the spread of a highly contagious disease outbreak.
A municipality wants to use IP-enabled parking meters to simultaneously optimize parking revenues, improve traffic flow, and ensure that parking policies don’t discourage customers from visiting retail stores in the city.
“We’re not the classic young kids in a garage,” said Ludloff, co-founder and vice president of Marketing at PatternBuilders. “We’ve both been involved in data-related startups for many years. With PatternBuilders, we’ve been able not only to apply our expertise gained from past startups but also to build on the ‘Big Data 1.0’ tools that have been developed by others already.”
Enterprise-ready big data analytics
Big data analytics tools can require either specialized in-house software-engineering expertise or long-term, on-premises consultants to write customized code. To make big data analytics tools accessible to a wide range of enterprises, the PatternBuilders founders knew their solutions had to be affordable, usable and customizable by a company’s existing IT staff as well as empower business users to perform big data analysis.
“In-house big data analytics tools based on Hadoop or other open-source technologies are fine in environments with sufficient software engineering resources,” said Ludloff. “But only a handful of organizations globally fit that profile.”
Craig and Ludloff used experience they gained in the retail industry, where the demand for high-volume, high-velocity, real-time analytics is enormous and budgets are tight, to create tools that are within reach of the majority of enterprises.
“At first, most enterprises we talked to assumed they could figure out how to do a big data analytics solution on their own, but then they found out it’s really, really difficult,” said Craig. “Making the tools easy to use and scalable requires hiding a lot of very complex multiprocessing and multithreading issues.”
PatternBuilders’ first products include pre-customized solutions, such as its FinancePBI for the financial services industry, and a standard, enterprise-ready analytics application (AnalyticsPBI) that analysts or quants can easily customize to meet all their company’s big data analytics needs.
“We’ve made sure that our customers can take our solutions into their companies and start using them right away,” said Ludloff.
Microsoft technologies through and through
PatternBuilders made a conscious decision to wed itself to Microsoft technologies.
“When we started evaluating technologies for PatternBuilders, we were impressed by Microsoft’s multiprocessing capabilities, the cohesiveness of the .NET Framework, its developer toolkits and the Windows Azure cloud platform,” said Craig.
Craig cites a number of reasons for building PatternBuilders’ solutions on Windows Azure. From a business perspective, Microsoft worked hard to make the Azure platform affordable as PatternBuilders transitioned from on-premises and more traditional infrastructure services to a hybrid solution utilizing both Azure Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) offerings and rich Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) features. On the technical side, Craig was impressed with the Windows Azure platform’s predictable I/O performance, ease of deployment, natural integration with Visual Studio and the .NET architecture, and support for both platform services and heterogeneous infrastructure services, which is important for PatternBuilders’ use of 10Gen MongoDB running on Linux virtual machines. Windows Azure supports MongoDB directly through 10gen, as well as through the Windows Azure store via MongoDB partner MongoLab.
“As an independent software developer, I don’t like surprises with my technology,” said Craig. “With Microsoft, we seldom get surprised, thanks to its interconnected vision and strong tooling. Also, the widespread familiarity with Microsoft tools means we can achieve tremendous productivity with fewer senior engineers — leaving our senior folks free to focus on the truly tough problems. Plus, the ubiquity of Windows in the enterprise and Azure features like Virtual Networks make it easy for us to work with our customers’ existing infrastructures.”
For the PatternBuilders founders, entry into the Microsoft BizSpark program strengthened their ties to Microsoft technologists, providing direct access to experts who can answer questions and help solve technical issues quickly. As for access to funding, PatternBuilders has chosen a bootstrapped approach for now, although it will likely seek venture capital at some point in the future.
“We’ve both dealt with raising capital from venture funds a few times already, so we know how to get started and what to expect,” said Craig. “Still, we’d be crazy not to take advantage of our BizSpark relationships when we’re ready to look for venture funding. And beyond any funding events, the Microsoft sales and marketing people we’ve met through BizSpark will be enormously helpful for co-selling our products into the enterprise, where Microsoft’s reach and reputation are unparalleled.”
TURIN, Italy — May 20, 2013 — When the Fiat Nuova 500 rolled off the line in 1957, Fiat’s goal was to introduce the automobile to Italians who much preferred motoring around on their Vespa or Lambretta scooters. The Nuova 500 became one of Fiat’s most iconic models and helped parent company Fiat S.p.A. get to where it is today — one of the leading manufacturers of mass market, luxury and performance automobiles, with 4.2 million vehicles rolling out of Fiat S.p.A factories in 2012. Yet the basic idea behind the Nuova 500 is still inspiring technology innovation and business growth today.
Fast forward to 2006 and the rollout of the Fiat 500. This reincarnation of the original city car drew many design cues from its predecessor, but it was larger, faster — and smarter. The Fiat 500 included Blue&Me, a state-of-the-art infotainment system jointly designed with Microsoft and powered by Windows Embedded Automotive.
Affordable, flexible infotainment
A lot has changed since Blue&Me was first released: smartphones have become an almost-natural extension of their owners, and the Fiat Group has expanded its global presence, perhaps most notably through its majority ownership of the Chrysler Motor Company.
Fiat wanted a new version of Blue&Me that reflected both of these changes. It wanted an infotainment system that was affordable, flexible and would work equally well across more than 15 car models under the Fiat, Lancia, Alfa Romeo, Dodge and Chrysler brands, as well as on the company’s line of commercial vehicles. And the company wanted it ready for the 2012 rollout of the Fiat 500L, which left a mere 18 months to complete the project.
To keep it affordable, Fiat needed a platform that was powered by a smaller processor and required reduced storage space. For flexibility, it wanted a solution that supported multiple device types, that enabled the use of applications such as eco:Drive, that supported the use of touch and hands-free capabilities through the use of voice recognition, and that could be updated to support new devices and applications.
Candido Peterlini, director of Product Planning Infotainment for Fiat, says the company’s plans were based on an intimate understanding of customer needs.
“The loyalty of Fiat’s customer base has given us strong insight into the needs of the driver, and that’s where everything starts,” Peterlini says. “From there, we make decisions about things like picking the right user interface and offering it at an appealing price point. It all comes down to delivering the technology that makes the most sense to the drivers and helps them get the most use out of their car.”
A fine-tuned experience in no time flat
Fiat chose Continental Automotive Group because of its expertise developing in-car technology solutions and experience working with Microsoft and Windows Embedded, both of which were critical in completing the new system on time. Using the Windows Embedded Automotive development tools helped Continental to streamline development time, and its close relationship with Microsoft allowed Continental to expedite any requests for technical assistance. Collectively, this helped Continental deliver a system that struck the balance between affordability and capability.
The system meets all of Fiat’s requirements and bears the name Uconnect, the same given to the infotainment system in Chrysler and Dodge. Uconnect 5.0, the infotainment system in the Fiat 500L, features a 5-inch, high-resolution LCD touchscreen, radio with analog/digital tuners, support for multiple devices and media players, integration with Fiat’s eco:Drive app, and the ability to install new applications and services. And it will soon be available with support for Tomtom navigation.
Fiat has made Uconnect 5.0 part of the standard equipment package on the 500L, and the company’s own research suggests that it could see as much as a 40 percent increase in market penetration by making it standard across the entire model line. Such a move wouldn’t be possible without a lower-cost solution such as Windows Embedded Automotive.
And with Windows Embedded, car owners benefit from a solution that transforms their vehicle into an intelligent system: not only does it integrate their digital lives, but it also improves the safety and energy efficiency of how they drive by giving them access to apps, information and services.
Peterlini calls Uconnect a good balance between technology and implementation: “We needed a high-quality, upgradable solution, but didn’t want a huge processor that would drive up costs. With Windows Embedded, we found the sweet spot.”
REDMOND, Wash. — May 20, 2013 — IT security is one of the main goals of organizations in establishing a software asset management (SAM) program — especially the ability to recover quickly from catastrophic IT failures. It’s worst-case scenario preparation, a sort of insurance plan businesses hope never to need but can’t afford to be without.
That need was brought into sharp relief two years ago, after a tragic series of events in Norway: A deadly bombing and shooting rampage in July 2011 claimed 76 lives and destroyed the executive offices of the government’s IT organization, Departementenes servicesenter (DSS), knocking multiple government ministries offline.
In the wake of the attacks, disaster recovery became the No. 1 IT priority — a task greatly complicated by the fact that at the time, there was no standardization of IT among the different ministries. The Norwegian government turned to Microsoft Gold Certified SAM partner Crayon AS for help.
“The customer had to suddenly move several of its locations to more or less ad-hoc offices throughout the city,” says Geir Gulliksen, director of asset management for Crayon, an international IT consultancy based in Oslo, Norway. “There were 12 different ministries operating as 12 different IT entities. For DSS, software asset management wasn’t a matter of compliance at all; it was a matter of being able to quickly redeploy its infrastructure in new buildings.”
Crayon quickly worked to set the ministries on a path that would streamline and standardize software administration, management and licensing across the ministries. The solution includes set policies and procedures for software asset management, as well as a simplified licensing structure that allows for optimizing and reducing the number of agreements, and redeploying licenses between ministries. The new program eases maintenance and technical support and is scalable to allow for rapid growth.
“Crayon’s work with the Norwegian government really illustrates how critical software asset management is to IT security,” says Dinis Couto, general manager of Software Asset Management at Microsoft Corp., which today announced its partners of the year. “The company’s swift, careful and thorough work in getting DSS back online after the bombing — and functioning even more efficiently and securely — really epitomizes the potential of a good SAM plan.”
Crayon’s support of DSS also included providing three advisors, who for nearly a year worked solely on streamlining IT communication between ministries. Today, the dozen or so ministries — now on the same standardized and secure software asset management plan — are reaping the benefits of improved intraministry coordination and communication.
But beyond cost and time savings, DSS’ new solution has improved the ministries’ disaster recovery and continuity outlook. “If you have a standardized, mature IT environment, good security is a side effect of that,” says Gulliksen. “We were able to provide the customer with a framework for effectively standardizing its IT platform, which makes them more secure and better able to quickly recover from a system failure.”
Creating the vast, complex solution for DSS required a certain finesse, but Crayon’s team has a lot of experience working with government customers, according to Gulliksen. “What we find the most challenging working with governmental entities is that, since each ministry works as a separate entity, it requires much more effort from us in aligning and synchronizing everything. You need to find the right balance of respecting the policies and procedures in place combined with the ability and willingness to try to optimize the procedures within the framework given to you.”
Crayon’s approach is to start by ensuring that a customer has sufficient people and policies in place to implement a SAM program, before there is ever a discussion about tools. For example, at DSS, Crayon worked to establish the concept of license harvesting and reallocation within the organization, and software-usage metering to support license optimization. A training program was established, and roles and responsibilities around licensing were identified and documented throughout the organization. The standardization has resulted in lower support, maintenance, help desk and interoperability costs, as well as giving the various ministries a common platform on which to connect. “If we fix everything else regarding software asset management — people, policies and procedures — we find that organizations become what we call ‘compliant by design,’” Gulliksen says.
Compliant — and better able to quickly respond to IT disaster. After the bomb blast, every day the Norwegian government’s IT infrastructure was offline was a day too many. That’s a timeframe the Crayon team has worked to shorten, by creating a solution that makes it possible for DSS to respond and restore its IT infrastructure much more quickly now than it could when disaster struck in 2011.
Crayon and other Microsoft Software Asset Management partners will be taking part in the
Worldwide Partner Conference
in Houston, Texas, July 7–11, 2013.
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