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VCOPs - VMware’s Move into Cloud Monitoring
VMware's move into PaaS requires a comprehensive Cloud monitoring solution

Is VMware slowly becoming the new Oracle? That was the question being asked after the backlash to their initial vRAM licensing model at the launch of vSphere 5. With VMware's somewhat quick retraction, it was ensured that any unsavoury Larry Ellison comparisons were quickly put to bed. Despite this it was still a signal of intent and an indication of VMware's recognition of its ever growing influence and clout. Now as VMware make serious manoeuvers into the PaaS space, a VMware based Cloud monitoring solution is a must. So with this in mind what is to be made of the huge marketing and push for their customers to adopt their VM monitoring tool vCenter Operations 5.0?

Back when VMware was only considered ideal for virtualizing test and development environments, the native alarms and performance graphs of the then termed Virtual Center were more than adequate for general monitoring purposes. As the vSphere revolution began with the average customer having VMs numbering in the hundreds, VMware generously allowed a plethora of third-party performance and capacity tools to plug into vCenter via their SDK. Suddenly every subsequent VMworld trade show would get bigger not just by the number of attendees but by the number of VM monitoring companies and tools such as vKernel vOPS, Veeam Monitor, VMTurbo Operations Manager, Quest vFoglight and Xanagti VI to name just a few. So when in February 2011 VMware eventually did enter the monitoring space with the purchase of Integrien's Alive and its later relaunch and rebranding as vCenter Operations Manager, there wasn't anything majorly distinctive between what were already mature and in most cases cheaper solutions. More than a year later, a huge marketing campaign and a revamped version, vCenter Operations 5.0 is slowly gaining traction amongst end users as the VM monitoring tool of choice but how much of this is related to its actual capabilities as opposed to VMware driving an agenda to monopolise a market segment that is clearly profitable?

To answer this, the first thing to do is to assess whether there is a need for such a tool, whether it's any good and what distinction, if any does it bring from the competition? The truth is that anyone who has had to troubleshoot a VMware environment, or gauge the capacity or performance, regardless of the size of the infrastructure will testify that the default tools are simply not sufficient. Add the factor that more and more business critical applications are now virtualised with virtual environments growing at an immense rate, then an enterprise-grade performance, capacity and monitoring tool is a necessity.

So looking at the vCenter Operations Manager vApp (from now on to be referred as VCOPs) the first thing to note is that it collects data not only from VMware‘s vCenter Server but also from vCenter Configuration Manager as well as third-party data sources such as SNMP. This collected data is then processed by the vCenter Operations Manager Analytics VM which presents the results through the rather colourful looking GUI. Compared to its predecessor the most notable change with the VCOPs 5.0 GUI is its integration with vCenter's navigation/inventory pane. This small yet effective change makes it look much more like a VMware product as opposed to the bolt-on appearance that both Integrien and previous VCOPs versions possessed.

Using the themes / badges of Health, Risk and Efficiency, the GUI organises the view of an entire infrastructure onto a main dashboard that can be drilled down to root causes and further details. Utilising a green, yellow, red scheme where green means good and red is bad, the badges are a quick indication of areas of concern or that require investigating. By seeing something as red, a couple of clicks and simple drill down will show you the relevant VMs and their affected hosts as well as any shared or affected datastores. Furthermore each badge carries a score where a high number is good for the Health and Efficiency badges but potentially detrimental for the Risk badge as a low risk is optimum for your environment. All of this enables quicker troubleshooting in large VM environments as issues can be quickly pinpointed from a very high level view down to the granular detail in just seconds.

The Health badge identifies current problems in the system and highlights issues that require immediate resolution. Using a heatmap, the end user has a quick health overview of all parent and child objects such as virtual machines and hosts that can also be rewound by up to six hours to track back trends. The Risk badge identifies exactly that and uses data based on infrastructure stress, time and capacity remaining. It also identifies potential issues that could impact the infrastructure's performance and can also be trended back to seven days worth of data. Finally the Efficiency Badge, which takes advantage of the now integrated CapacityIQ tool, is used for capacity planning where CPU, memory and disk space resource metrics are referred to for identifying overprovisioned, under-utilised or optimally resourced VMs.

As well as the Badges and their drill down details, VCOPs also has several menu tabs such as Operations, Planning, Alerts, Analysis, and Reports. Of most interest in the Operations tab is the Environmental section where a visual representation of objects such as the associated vCenter Server, datacenters, datastores, hosts, and virtual machines are presented alongside their scores and relationship. This is an excellent feature that enables the end user to quickly drill down, identify and investigate more granular objects of concern and their health status. The Planning section also contains a very useful summary section that provides a visual overview in graphs and tables of capacity for any selected object enabling you to easily switch between deployed and remaining capacity. Here VCOPs provides the ability to have extended forecasts of remaining capacity for up to several months, an essential value add especially as environments grow at such a radical pace.

In addition to the capacity planning and forecasting features, it's also good to see VCOPs incorporate what-if scenarios. Now becoming common amongst several VM monitoring tools, what-if scenarios are a useful addition to any VM environment especially as they allow you to foresee the impact on capacity and workload on your virtual environment prior to making any actual changes.

Finally the area in which VCOPs really stands out from the competition, is its unique and new vCenter Infrastructure Navigator feature. With the understanding that paramount to any business, monitoring solutions that look at the performance of their applications as opposed to just their infrastructure are far more attractive, VMware's vCenter Infrastructure Navigator has been introduced to automatically discover application services and map their dependencies and relationships. One of the main benefits of having a knowledge of the application and virtual infrastructure's interdependencies is that it will immediately help reduce MTTR by either eliminating or implicating the infrastructure as a cause of application slowdowns. Furthermore as key applications and their underlying infrastructure are constantly identified and monitored the end user can quickly ensure that the right level of resources are allocated and that priority is given to those VMs that actually need it.

When you put this in the context of disaster recovery and more specifically VMware's latest version of Site Recovery Manager, end users now have the opportunity to create recovery plans and protection groups that are aligned to the applications that reside on their VCOPs monitored VMs. This is a far cry from the competition whose equivalent Disaster Recovery solutions still don't allow you to automatically failback or even failover multiple VMs simultaneously. Using VCOPs' metrics and mapping of application interdependencies with VMs and underlying hosts, the level of sophistication in Disaster Recovery planning is raised significantly in that it's now related to what matters to the business most, namely the apps.

So while this all sounds great does VCOPs really spell the end of other VM monitoring solutions and a consequent reduction of third party stalls and their scantily clad glamour models at VMworld? Does it really constitute a comprehensive Cloud monitoring solution? At present, probably not. VCOPs is still more expensive than most of its competitors with a per VM pricing model and still has some limitations, most significantly its inability to monitor physical servers in the same way it monitors VMs. It also has to gain a market share by going against already popular and seasoned solutions that have already existent end users and champions. In saying that, this is VCOPs 5 and is merely the beginning.

Looking firstly at the price challenge, VCOPs is software and indeed it would be foolhardy to not expect the pricing model to change and become more attractive to new customers or even bundled in with new hypervisor purchases.  When looking at the bigger picture, VMware are clearly focusing further up the stack with a PaaS offering and it would also be short-sighted to think VMware only see VCOPs as a single entity product that just monitors the infrastructure space. If anything it's an investment to what will be an integral component to a comprehensive Cloud monitoring package that enables successful migrations to VMware's PaaS offerings. In such a scenario it would be ideal for VMware to have a PaaS offering that was already built on an IaaS monitoring, management and orchestration solution that they themselves have developed. Furthermore should the next version of VCOPs or the package that it comes with include the ability to monitor analytics that incorporate physical blades we could well have an integrated monitoring tool that's impossible to compete with. Just imagine being able to run a what if scenario on a physical blade prior to virtualizing it onto a VM so that you're able to size up the resources accurately not based just on current metrics but also analysed and predicted growth?

So taking a step back and looking at the whole VMware portfolio it seems that the heavy investment and marketing of VCOPs is more a ploy of eventually tying in many of their separate solutions as a single comprehensive management, orchestration and Cloud monitoring package that is managed singlehandedly via the vCenter interface. Currently VMware is littered with lots of separate solutions that include vCloud Director and vCenter Chargeback Manager but if they were fully integrated with VCOPs they would make a tasty introduction package to those looking to deploy a Private Cloud. Then there's VMware's Hyperic which has the ability to close the aforementioned physical gap as it can monitor the physical environment underlying vSphere hence providing performance management of applications in both physical and virtual environments. Therefore it's not impossible even today for a Cloud infrastructure's components to be monitored with a bolted together Hyperic and VCOPs solution, with Hyperic monitoring the applications and the processes running on vCloud Director, which in turn is conveyed to VCOPs which is monitoring the VMs and consequently other components such as vShield Manager. But for VMware to be successful in the PaaS sphere they need to enter and engage with a market segment they've had little exposure to i.e. the application owners. Looking at VMware's vFabric Application Performance Manager (driven by AppInsight) as part of a fully integrated package of VCOPs, vCloud Director, Hyperic etc. could be they key that opens the door to application owners. It would also provide VMware a true Cloud monitoring solution that could provide real-time visibility and control from application to infrastructure via a single management interface.

Ultimately this requires a lot of development work and effort from VMware and will eventually bring them into competition with a new breed of vendors that specialize in Cloud management and monitoring. The point is as good as VCOPs is and as good as the competitors are it's important not to get blinkered and avoid the bigger picture of what VCOPs may eventually become part of. Either way VCOPs' current competitors need to up their game quick or find alternative features to their solutions - to survive in this game it's clear, you're either big or niche.

About Archie Hendryx
SAN, NAS, Back Up / Recovery & Virtualisation Specialist.

Presentation Slides
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The next XaaS is CICDaaS. Why? Because CICD saves developers a huge amount of time. CD is an especially great option for projects that require multiple and frequent contributions to be integrated. But… securing CICD best practices is an emerging, essential, yet little understood practice for DevOps teams and their Cloud Service Providers. The only way to get CICD to work in a highly secure environment takes collaboration, patience and persistence. Building CICD in the cloud requires rigorous ar...
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In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, James Henry, Co-CEO/CTO of Calgary Scientific Inc., introduced you to the challenges, solutions and benefits of training AI systems to solve visual problems with an emphasis on improving AIs with continuous training in the field. He explored applications in several industries and discussed technologies that allow the deployment of advanced visualization solutions to the cloud.

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DE MENO
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IBM

HAZARD
Softlayer

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Softlayer

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Emcien

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Windstream

IVANOV
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BLOOM-
BERG

Intellyx

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IBM Watson

TOLL
ProfitBricks

LANDRY
Microsoft

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Akana

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HOLT
IBM Cloudant

SHAN
CTS

PICCIN-
INNI

EMC

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Modulus

PAIGE
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SABHIKHI
Cognitive Scale

MILLS
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KATZEN
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SLOPER
CenturyLink

SRINIVAS
EMC

TALREJA
Cisco

GORBACHEV
Systems Services Inc.

COLLISON
Apcera

PRABHU
OpenCrowd

LYNN
CodeFutures

SWARTZ
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CoreOS

BERMING-
HAM

SIOS

WILLIS
Stateless Networks

MURPHY
Gridstore

KHABE
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NIKOLOV
GetClouder

DIETZE
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DALRY-
MPLE

EnterpriseDB

MAZZUCCO
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WHOA.com

HERITAGE
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SEYMOUR
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Author

CARTER
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Cloud Expo Silicon Valley All-Star Speakers

TESAR
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KHAN
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SINGH
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BEACH
SendGrid

BOSTOCK
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DE SOUZA
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PATTATHIL
Harbinger

O'BRIEN
Aria Systems

BONIFAZI
Solgenia

BIANCO
Solgenia

PROCTOR
NuoDB

DUGGAL
EnterpriseWeb

TEGETHOFF
Appcore

BRUNOZZI
VMware

HICKENS
Parasoft

KLEBANOV
Cisco

PETERS
Esri

GOLDBERG
Vormetric

CUMBER-
LAND

Dimension

ROSENDAHL
Quantum

LOOMIS
Cloudant

BRUNO
StackIQ

HANNON
SoftLayer

JACKSON
SoftLayer

HOCH
Virtustream

KAPADIA
Seagate

PAQUIN
OnLive

TSAI
Innodisk

BARRALL
Connected Data

SHIAH
AgilePoint

SEGIL
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PODURI
Citrix

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Dyn

RITTEN-
HOUSE

Cisco

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Kaazing

THYKATTIL
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LEIDUCK
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LYNN
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WAGSTAFF
BSQUARE

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AOL

KAMARAJU
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HALL

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PLESE
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YEO
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Transparent Cloud Computing

NATH
GE

GOKCEN
GE

STOICA
Databricks

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Pivotal Software


Testimonials
This week I had the pleasure of delivering the opening keynote at Cloud Expo New York. It was amazing to be back in the great city of New York with thousands of cloud enthusiasts eager to learn about the next step on their journey to embracing a cloud-first worldl."
@SteveMar_Msft
General Manager of Window Azure
 
How does Cloud Expo do it every year? Another INCREDIBLE show - our heads are spinning - so fun and informative."
@SOASoftwareInc
 
Thank you @ThingsExpo for such a great event. All of the people we met over the past three days makes us confident IoT has a bright future."
Yasser Khan
CEO of @Cnnct2me
 
One of the best conferences we have attended in a while. Great job, Cloud Expo team! Keep it going."

@Peak_Ten


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Business Executives including CEOs, CMOs, & CIOs , Presidents & SVPs, Directors of Business Development , Directors of IT Operations, Product and Purchasing Managers, IT Managers.

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@CloudExpo Blogs
Product connectivity goes hand and hand these days with increased use of personal data. New IoT devices are becoming more personalized than ever before. In his session at 22nd Cloud Expo | DXWorld Expo, Nicolas Fierro, CEO of MIMIR Blockchain Solutions, will discuss how in order to protect your data and privacy, IoT applications need to embrace Blockchain technology for a new level of product security never before seen - or needed.
Blockchain. A day doesn’t seem to go by without seeing articles and discussions about the technology. According to PwC executive Seamus Cushley, approximately $1.4B has been invested in blockchain just last year. In Gartner’s recent hype cycle for emerging technologies, blockchain is approaching the peak. It is considered by Gartner as one of the ‘Key platform-enabling technologies to track.’ While there is a lot of ‘hype vs reality’ discussions going on, there is no arguing that blockchain is being taken very seriously across industries and cannot be ignored.
As Marc Andreessen says software is eating the world. Everything is rapidly moving toward being software-defined – from our phones and cars through our washing machines to the datacenter. However, there are larger challenges when implementing software defined on a larger scale - when building software defined infrastructure. In his session at 16th Cloud Expo, Boyan Ivanov, CEO of StorPool, provided some practical insights on what, how and why when implementing "software-defined" in the datacenter.
Bitcoins are a digital cryptocurrency and have been around since 2009. As a substitute for legal tender, they are becoming the rage for investors and others but because there is no government agency auditing or performing regulatory oversights, you wonder if it is the perfect breeding ground for electronic nano crime. Since the introduction of the Bitcoin, some competitors have emerged and the whole segment of cryptocurrencies are defined as Altcoins. Altcoins include Dogecoin, Ethereum Feathercoin, Litecoin, Novacoin, Peercoin, and Zetacoin. Some of these cryptocurrencies are considered impro...
ChatOps is an emerging topic that has led to the wide availability of integrations between group chat and various other tools/platforms. Currently, HipChat is an extremely powerful collaboration platform due to the various ChatOps integrations that are available. However, DevOps automation can involve orchestration and complex workflows. In his session at @DevOpsSummit at 20th Cloud Expo, Himanshu Chhetri, CTO at Addteq, will cover practical examples and use cases such as self-provisioning infrastructure/applications, self-remediation workflows, integrating monitoring and complimenting integra...
In his keynote at 18th Cloud Expo, Andrew Keys, Co-Founder of ConsenSys Enterprise, provided an overview of the evolution of the Internet and the Database and the future of their combination – the Blockchain. Andrew Keys is Co-Founder of ConsenSys Enterprise. He comes to ConsenSys Enterprise with capital markets, technology and entrepreneurial experience. Previously, he worked for UBS investment bank in equities analysis. Later, he was responsible for the creation and distribution of life settlement products to hedge funds and investment banks. After, he co-founded a revenue cycle management c...
BnkToTheFuture.com is the largest online investment platform for investing in FinTech, Bitcoin and Blockchain companies. We believe the future of finance looks very different from the past and we aim to invest and provide trading opportunities for qualifying investors that want to build a portfolio in the sector in compliance with international financial regulations.
You know you need the cloud, but you’re hesitant to simply dump everything at Amazon since you know that not all workloads are suitable for cloud. You know that you want the kind of ease of use and scalability that you get with public cloud, but your applications are architected in a way that makes the public cloud a non-starter. You’re looking at private cloud solutions based on hyperconverged infrastructure, but you’re concerned with the limits inherent in those technologies.
The nature of test environments is inherently temporary—you set up an environment, run through an automated test suite, and then tear down the environment. If you can reduce the cycle time for this process down to hours or minutes, then you may be able to cut your test environment budgets considerably. The impact of cloud adoption on test environments is a valuable advancement in both cost savings and agility. The on-demand model takes advantage of public cloud APIs requiring only payment for the time needed to run automated tests. In this framework, success depends on two things: automated i...
Leading companies, from the Global Fortune 500 to the smallest companies, are adopting hybrid cloud as the path to business advantage. Hybrid cloud depends on cloud services and on-premises infrastructure working in unison. Successful implementations require new levels of data mobility, enabled by an automated and seamless flow across on-premises and cloud resources. In his general session at 21st Cloud Expo, Greg Tevis, an IBM Storage Software Technical Strategist and Customer Solution Architect, explored how storage and software-defined solutions from IBM have evolved for the road ahead. Lea...
Nordstrom is transforming the way that they do business and the cloud is the key to enabling speed and hyper personalized customer experiences. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Ken Schow, VP of Engineering at Nordstrom, discussed some of the key learnings and common pitfalls of large enterprises moving to the cloud. This includes strategies around choosing a cloud provider(s), architecture, and lessons learned. In addition, he covered some of the best practices for structured team migration and discussed ways to control cloud costs.
The need for greater agility and scalability necessitated the digital transformation in the form of following equation: monolithic to microservices to serverless architecture (FaaS). To keep up with the cut-throat competition, the organisations need to update their technology stack to make software development their differentiating factor. Thus microservices architecture emerged as a potential method to provide development teams with greater flexibility and other advantages, such as the ability to deliver applications at warp speed using infrastructure as a service (IaaS) and platform as a ...
The use of containers by developers -- and now increasingly IT operators -- has grown from infatuation to deep and abiding love. But as with any long-term affair, the honeymoon soon leads to needing to live well together ... and maybe even getting some relationship help along the way. And so it goes with container orchestration and automation solutions, which are rapidly emerging as the means to maintain the bliss between rapid container adoption and broad container use among multiple cloud hosts. This BriefingsDirect cloud services maturity discussion focuses on new ways to gain container orc...
Blockchain is a shared, secure record of exchange that establishes trust, accountability and transparency across business networks. Supported by the Linux Foundation's open source, open-standards based Hyperledger Project, Blockchain has the potential to improve regulatory compliance, reduce cost as well as advance trade. Are you curious about how Blockchain is built for business? In her session at 21st Cloud Expo, René Bostic, Technical VP of the IBM Cloud Unit in North America, discussed the basics of Blockchain, previewed the Blockchain Reference Architecture, and introduced the mechanics o...
In his general session at 21st Cloud Expo, Greg Dumas, Calligo’s Vice President and G.M. of US operations, discussed the new Global Data Protection Regulation and how Calligo can help business stay compliant in digitally globalized world. Greg Dumas is Calligo's Vice President and G.M. of US operations. Calligo is an established service provider that provides an innovative platform for trusted cloud solutions. Calligo’s customers are typically most concerned about GDPR compliance, application performance guarantees & data privacy.
Imagine if you will, a retail floor so densely packed with sensors that they can pick up the movements of insects scurrying across a store aisle. Or a component of a piece of factory equipment so well-instrumented that its digital twin provides resolution down to the micrometer.
Blockchain offers impeccable security with its cryptography-based decentralized system as well as the plethora of possible uses retailers could exploit in the near future. In a world of increasing cyberattacks, internet fraud and online hacking, blockchain comes as a breath of fresh air. With its encrypted data and decentralized network system, it's a thorn in every hacker's side. Generally being associated with the finance sector, blockchain is now taking retail by storm. It's on a course that will change the retail industry as we know it. But how exactly is it going to achieve such a feat?
Making informed network investment decisions about emerging technologies such as network function virtualization (NFV) and software-defined networking (SDN) can help evolve the network to keep pace with the innovations of the devices and people it’s connecting. As you work with business leaders to make decisions about upgrading your infrastructure with these networking developments, it’s important to understand the similarities, differences, and benefits of dual NFV and SDN implementation. With their ability to offer a new way to design, deploy, and manage the network and its services, NFV a...
Coca-Cola’s Google powered digital signage system lays the groundwork for a more valuable connection between Coke and its customers. Digital signs pair software with high-resolution displays so that a message can be changed instantly based on what the operator wants to communicate or sell. In their Day 3 Keynote at 21st Cloud Expo, Greg Chambers, Global Group Director, Digital Innovation, Coca-Cola, and Vidya Nagarajan, a Senior Product Manager at Google, discussed how from store operations and optimization to employee training and insights, all ultimately create the best customer experience b...
"IBM is really all in on blockchain. We take a look at sort of the history of blockchain ledger technologies. It started out with bitcoin, Ethereum, and IBM evaluated these particular blockchain technologies and found they were anonymous and permissionless and that many companies were looking for permissioned blockchain," stated René Bostic, Technical VP of the IBM Cloud Unit in North America, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.