• CloudKick Broadens its Infrastructure Management Base


    Cloud management company CloudKick, a Y Combinator startup, is launching its commercial product  and announcing they now support the Rackspace Cloud, Amazon EC2, Linode, GoGrid, Slicehost, RimuHosting,
    and VPS.NET.

    The CloudKick offering enables users to control cloud infrastructure from multiple different vendors, all from one dashboard which allows both monitoring and management of an infrastructure setup.


    CloudKick is built on the open source Libcloud API that CloudKick also helped develop under the guidance of the Apache Software Foundation Incubator

    Features now available in the Cloudkick toolset include:

    • Load, CPU, bandwidth, and memory monitoring


    • Alerts including SMS and Email
    • Advance and innovative performance graphs


    • Diagnostics performance
    • Autosetup
    • Multiple users per account
    • Change-log tool

    Cloudkick will continue to offer its original feature set to customers for free. Plans with advanced features activated range from $99 to $599/month depending on the number of servers. Cloudkick also offers customized packages for customers with larger or more specific needs.

    There’s a fair bit of competition in this space, Rightscale offers similar functionality to Cloudkick – pursuing an open source strategy and getting cloud vendors on board to help develop Libcloud looks likely to increase vendor buy in – customer buy in will be determined by how fast new cloud providers can be added, the feature set CloudKick continues to roll out and the price comparison between them and their competitors.

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  • Intacct Winter 2010 – More Strings to the Bow


    Last week I had a briefing from Dan Druker, SVP Marketing from Intacct (more here) on their forthcoming winter release and a review of their 2009 performance. First a recap of the past year:

    • 80% quarter to quarter growth in Q4
    • Over 3300 customers with over 30000 users
    • Massive uptake from accounting firms with their AICPA tie up (more on that here)
    • 99.98% uptime across the year

    And now onto the product launch. Winter 2010 sees major moves in three main areas – dimensions, revenue management and employee participation. Looking at each of these in turn:


    To allow for wider analytics to be run within the application before a fully fledged BI application is needed, Intacct has now has 12 completely customizable reporting dimensions within which users can generate reports. This gives very granular control over performance planning and reporting. Druker told me that they have customers who come to them with 60000 line excel spreadsheets that they are using to run the reports they need – dimensions will enable to do this within the application and in real time, without needing an external spreadsheet or a data warehouse.

    Intacct partners are already using dimensions to build vertical specific offerings – for example allowing restaurants to report based on menu item, location or server or perhaps a not for profit group to report by program, activity or contribution source.

    Revenue Management

    Druker asserts that many more businesses today are experiencing complex revenue situations with various allocation, deferral and recognition issues. This, along with the more stringent reporting and compliance situation means accurate and compliant reporting is very difficult.

    Intacct revenue management allows flexibility in terms of rules and schedules for different revenue classes and flows this through to forecasting, analysis and audit

    Employee Participation

    Until recently, generally only accounts department employees utilized Intacct. In an effort to increase the stickiness of their product, Intacct is rolling out various pieces of functionality that will encourage employee use of the product/ Specifically they know provide for:

    • Workflows for purchasing and expenses
    • User customizable workflow processes
    • A more flexible UI built on Flex that allows for contextual menus and “bookmarking” or reports for quick reference
    • Dash boards

    The employee participation is priced at $10 per user per month which is competitive with other expense management or purchasing management offerings.


    Intacct is moving up the food chain – this latest release sees some pretty powerful functionality that will see it both broaden it’s role within existing customers and also appeal to customers larger and more complex than it’s existing pool – along with the AICPA partnership, vertically customized solutions tailored with the aid of the new dimensions feature should see them pick up significant momentum.
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  • box.net – Doing It All In the Box


    <disclaimer> – I thought twice about the title above, anyone who infers anything from it needs to spend significantly more time away from a computer </disclaimer>

    I spent some time yesterday talking to box.net (coverage here) – partly in order to get an update on how they’re fairing, and also to demo some new technology they’re introducing. First a quick update. Box.net are proud that they’ve now reached the dual milestones of 1 billion files served and 1 million files served per day. They’ve grown the organization 75% and are now a 70 person team. Jen Grant, VP of Marketing at box sees 2010 as their “big year” caused, in part, by three factors affecting enterprises:

    • More organic businesses with more external project connections
    • IT changes carving costs out of spend and driving value
    • The changing face of the workforce

    With the review underway, Jen was keen to lift the wrapper on their new product announcement. Box.net is integrating the functionality gained when they acquired content management company Increo solutions in October – the new functionality brings content playing and embedding to box.net. So how does this work, and what’s the use case?

    With the new functionality, box.net users will be able to view any file natively within the box.net environment – not only documents but images, presentations, audio, video, PDFs etc. This extends so far as to allow for playing of PowerPoint files and, more importantly, gives IT some visibility over the content use – IT can, for example, track which slides of which presentations have been viewed the highest number of times. It’s a value area that Sliderocket is building it’s offering on, the ability to add value to formerly static documents by making them the launch pad for multiple trackable action calls. I quizzed Jen about this side of things and her response was:

    We’re really excited about how Cloud Content Management can give the IT department more robust analytics regarding how content is being used… giving IT better visibility regarding how business content is shared both within and beyond the organization. Our customers use Box to share files internally, but also as a core way to collaborate around files externally, whether it’s partners, vendors, prospects or customers, so information regarding collaboration “beyond the firewall” is key.

    It seemed to me a sensible approach for box.net to provide it’s own analytics functionality to the app. When I suggested this to Jen her reply was that:

    …adding our own detailed and granular analytics component to Box isn’t a current priority, though we’ll keep evaluating and see if there’s a need for that kind of functionality. But this is where the value of Box’s open platform comes in: we can easily leverage and integrate great solutions from other providers, such as a basic Google Analytics integration… we’re always interested in bringing best-of-breed solutions to our customers, and analytics is no exception.

    Apart from just content viewing though, users will have the ability to build rich content around files – creating comments and tasks and printing the files – in this way box.net are differentiating themselves from the likes of Google docs which is more about file creation rather than content management and workflow.

    The second part of the functionality is embedding – organizations can embed files on extranets to give external visibility to chosen files. It’s bringing what YouTube bought for video to all documents. As Jen pointed out:

    embedding lets you share the content in the form you intended. For example, you don’t have to worry about whether people have the right applications or the right version of any given piece of software – what you want them to see is how it’s delivered. Since we remove the barriers to viewing that content, it just makes it accessible to more people, whether it’s on a company intranet, a blog or any other web page.

    Overall I’m pretty excited by the new functionality – more the ability to view content items on the fly and online than the embedding. What it’ll mean for box.net’s customer numbers this year remains to seem. See the video below for a demo of the new functionality. 


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  • GDrive – A Rose By Any Other Name


    I posted late last year about some movements I saw happening in the short term around Google’s long fabled GDrive offering. Well it seems I was right (actually I knew I was right!), this morning Google announced it was allowing upload of any file times to be made within Google docs. While very sensitive to point out that this is not GDrive, for all intents and purposes it fulfils what we all expected GDrive would provide.

    This morning I had a briefing with Syncplicity CEO, Leonard Chung. Syncplicity has been working very closely with Google on this project for a few months now and, after the hype and hoopla dies away, it is interesting to look at what this move actually means for the landscape.

    I’ve followed Syncplicity for 18 months or so now – when I first came across them, it was safe to say that they were a provider offering cloud storage, with an interface wrapped around it. Today’s announcement see them shed that model entirely and now become the interface that brings together users storage islands of choice all in one place. It’s a smaller slice of the ecosystem, and that brings some inherent risks to Syncplicity, but they’re also broadening their footprint significantly.

    Why did Google chose Syncplicity? Currently there are 5000 customers shared between Syncplicity and Google, and those customers have around one million files synced – it’s a sufficient number to give Google proof-of-concept, and Syncplicity obviously manage to increase their footprint significantly with the partnership.

    I questioned Chung about the changing situation this brings to his business, the sands in the sync/backup/storage space are shifting fast and Syncplicity has deftly maneuvered with them. His response:

    Our key differentiator is in allowing users to view stuff across different clouds. While our initial approach was turnkey storage/syncing, our customers pushed us in this direction as they needed us to integrate with whichever way they prefer to store data

    One interesting thing to note about this deal is that Google is setting initial limits of 1Gb space and 256Mb maximum file size for its storage solution. (Regular users have 1 GB of free storage and can purchase more for $0.25/GB. Enterprise customer pay higher prices, starting at $17/year for 5 GB). Syncplicity users on the other hand can set their own storage size and have no file size limits – an interesting situation then arises when users chose to sync a particular folder onto Google if it contains larger files – in this instance the folder would appear within Syncplicity, and on all the devices that are synced with it, but would not in fact appear within Google.
    For this reason, and in something of a hidden blessing for Syncplicity, Google customers who chose to use the storage system are more likely to view their files via the Syncplicity interface as it will show all their files, regardless of which have actually been synced to Google. A minor point possibly, but one which will secure a few more eyeballs, and user habits, for Syncplicity. This is after all their core offering – the interface that ties together all the discrete island of storage a user may have.

    Another feature of this integration is that Google will follow the business rules Syncplicity uses for versioning control – in this way users get a consistent approach to versioning control across all their files.

    It’s exciting times – exciting for Syncplicity, interesting for Google and above all one step closer to cloud nirvana for us, the users.

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  • GoodData – More of the Same, Dressed Up Like New?


    Late last year GoodData gained quite some degree of publicity – due in no small part to the caliber of its investors. Tim O’Reilly is both an investor and board member and Marc Andreesen is also behind the venture. At first blush it would seem that GoodData provides the holy grail – on-demand visualization and analytics of business data. See video below:

    A few minutes spent on their site however gave me cause for concern (emphasis mine):

    GoodData securely hosts your data, enables you to build and manage a multi-dimensional data model from a variety of data sources, provides the tools to analyze data in a collaborative environment, and the means to share the results with others.

    Now I’m not dogmatic that everything should be real-time and on-demand but GoodData strikes me pretty much as a classical BI offering done the traditional way – aimed for organizations with screeds of data and with the ability to both extract data from their SaaS applications, upload it to GoodData’s warehouse and then run BI analytics – sorting, filtering and pivoting.

    What on-demand applications really need, in my opinion, is real time on the fly analysis. That’s why YouCalc (my review here) excited me when I came across them. You see YouCalc provides direct queries on data sources, rather than relying on data warehousing and what must inevitable end up as analysis on obsolete data. TouCalc is the business that should have the big dollars behind it but, as is often the case, style tends to overcome substance, at least in the short term.

    GoodData occupies an uncomfortable space – their tool is really aimed at huge enterprises with terabytes of data, but as we know big enterprise is hardly in the cloud yet and not very likely to upload all their on-premise data to GoodData for analytics purposes since they can perform more advanced BI behind the firewall with on-premise BI tools.

    Don’t get me wrong, the idea of moving some of the data storage and number crunching aspects of bid-data analysis out of onsite data centers and into the clouds resonates with me – I just think that YouCalc don’t go nearly far enough in their approach.


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  • Fuji FinePix F70 – Sexy and Small, but Sometimes Annoying


    some info firstI got sent a FinePix F70 the other day to test (test and send back I must explain before anyone thinks me a mercenary whore!) The F70 is a beautiful looking device slim in construction, with nice…

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  • Dremus Goes 2.0


    I got an email the other day telling me that Dremus has just released it’s 2.0 offering (review of the 1.0 offering here). The new version takes the existing functionality and adds to it the following; – More free…

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  • Aptimize Speeds Up Microsoft


    I’ve posted before about Aptimize, the startup trying to singlehandedly speed up the web. Their Website Accelerator product has just been given a strong endorsement by Microsoft who are using it to speed up their SharePoint public site.

    Aptimize have published some statistics of the benefits Microsoft is seeing with the solution;




    Reduction in load time

    First View

    10.6 seconds

    5.7 seconds


    Repeat view

    7.1 seconds

    3.3 seconds


    Aptimize are banking on their contention that faster load times translate into a more sticky browsing experience. This is borne out by another test site they’ve had live for a few months now. Geekzone a technology site with a 700k monthly unique viewer figure. Using the Aptimize tool, Geekzone has reported a;

    • 35.10% increase in average time on site
    • 13.63% increase in number of pages per visit
    • 3.7 percent reduction in bounce rate

    It’s interesting to see Microsoft using a tool that’s specifically aimed to increase the speed of some of its own software – one wonders why Redmond hasn’t developed a tool like this themselves already.

    I’d be remiss if, along with my post, I omitted posting the video of Aptimize founder and CEO Ed Robinson doing his best media superstar impersonation. Enjoy…

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  • Clio – Web-based Legal Practice Management


    A few weeks ago, after reviewing LegalSoftOnline (see here), I took a very brief look at Clio. Afterwards I had a discussion with Jack Newton, President of Clio who was eager to show me under the hood of Clio…

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  • YouCalc for Zendesk, Analytical View of Helpdesk Data


    I’ve written many times in the past about Zendesk (see here) and have also written about YouCalc. These two companies have much in common, YouCalc founder Rasmus Madsen was actually part of an early “friends and family” funding round for Zendesk, they’re both from Denmark (although Zendesk is now based in San Francisco) and they both have a friendly, open attitude that makes people comfortable with their businesses.

    Recently Zendesk and YouCalc jointly announced the YouCalc Dashboard for Zendesk and Personal Performance Widget, integrations that display Zendesk ticket analytics either standalone or embedded into a website. In a nice example of the proof of the pudding being in the eating, Zendesk themselves are using the YouCalc dashboard to track their own rapidly increasing customer base via their global support team.

    The Personal performance widget is aimed at individual Zendesk agents, and runs as a widget inside Zendesk, inside iGoogle and on the iPhone, providing a personal performance overview. It analyzes tickets assigned to a particular agent and gives a graphical depiction of:

    • The number of tickets created and solved in the past 7 days
    • The average resolution time on their tickets
    • The average waiting time on their tickets
    • The number of open tickets grouped by priority
    • Ticket backlog development.


    The Dashboard for Zendesk is aimed at Zendesk administrators who need analytics across the service & support organization.


    It gives overview and insight into agent performance, ticket type distribution and resource planning issues.


    I spoke with VP of Sales from Zendesk, Michael Folmer Hansen. Michael was the first employer Zendesk took on, so has had first hand experience of the stresses caused by the rapid growth that Zendesk has enjoyed. I asked him what the YouCalc integration means to him, heading as he does the support team.

    Hansen, not surprisingly given his role, was quick to complement the functionality of his own product saying;

    Zendesk already has strong reporting facilities which have, with the Zendesk Plus+ release last week [see CloudAve coverage here], been significantly improved with near real-time CSV feed of ticket data including resolution time metrics and custom fields. This enables you to use a wide range of tools to do your analysis.

    Realizing though that advanced analytics is not something the majority of users will want or need, Hansen was very complementary of the YouCalc dashboards ability to give a rich visual display of metrics, all with little or no configuration required;

    I manage the Zendesk Global Support Team with 9 members in 7 Countries. The Team also uses Zendesk to interact with the whole company and with external partners. Our customers are simply interested in quick resolution, which I also am, but I have to provide this with optimal manning across the globe while Zendesk continues its rapid month on month growth with resulting increase in Support tickets.

    With the YouCalc Dashboard I can, using 3 views, see our matrix of KPIs. In the Tickets Overview I see tickets created compared to tickets solved per hour, day, week + evolution over time – this allows me to plan the current and future manning of Zendesk Support, not just numbers, but also time zone location. In the Tickets Analyzer I can see the Resolution time and can drill down by date, type, group, agent e.g. for July 2009 the Resolution time for Level 1. tickets was under 1 hour for 44.03% of the tickets and under 10 hours for 71.13%. Under the Agent Performance view I can drill down to better understand the performance of the team and individual members – last month we had one Agent who solved 438 Tickets with an average resolution time of 51 minutes, while another Agent solved 183 Tickets with an average resolution time of nearly 3 hours. A little analysis shows that the first Agent palmed all the difficult Tickets off to the second Agent.

    It’s this sort of valuable analysis that YouCalc is aiming for – it allows for in-depth analysis of a number of different applications, from Salesforce.com to Highrise, from Google Analytics to Ebay and now includes Zendesk. I was excited when I first saw YouCalc at the Enterprise 2.0 conference in Boston earlier this year – the power of this latest integration shows why.

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