Jul
30
2020
--

Atlassian acquires asset management company Mindville

Atlassian today announced that it has acquired Mindville, a Jira-centric enterprise asset management firm based in Sweden. Mindville’s more than 1,700 customers include the likes of NASA, Spotify and Samsung.

Image Credits: Atlassian

With this acquisition, Atlassian is getting into a new market, too, by adding asset management tools to its lineup of services. The company’s flagship product is Mindville Insights, which helps IT, HR, sales, legal and facilities to track assets across a company. It’s completely agnostic as to which assets you are tracking, though, given Atlassian’s user base, most companies will likely use it to track IT assets like servers and laptops. But in addition to physical assets, you also can use the service to automatically import cloud-based servers from AWS, Azure and GCP, for example, and the team has built connectors to services like Service Now and Snow Software, too.

Image Credits: Mindville

“Mindville Insight provides enterprises with full visibility into their assets and services, critical to delivering great customer and employee service experiences. These capabilities are a cornerstone of IT Service Management (ITSM), a market where Atlassian continues to see strong momentum and growth,” Atlassian’s head of tech teams Noah Wasmer writes in today’s announcement.

Co-founded by Tommy Nordahl and Mathias Edblom, Mindville never raised any institutional funding, according to Crunchbase. The two companies also didn’t disclose the acquisition price.

Like some of Atlassian’s other recent acquisitions, including Code Barrel, the company was already an Atlassian partner and successfully selling its service in the Atlassian Marketplace.

“This acquisition builds on Atlassian’s investment in [IT Service Management], including recent acquisitions like Opsgenie for incident management, Automation for Jira for code-free automation, and Halp for conversational ticketing,” Atlassian’s Wasmer writes.

The Mindville team says it will continue to support existing customers and that Atlassian will continue to build on Insight’s tools while it works to integrate them with Jira Service Desk. That integration, Atlassian argues, will give its users more visibility into their assets and allow them to deliver better customer and employee service experiences.

Image Credits: Mindville

“We’ve watched the Insight product line be used heavily in many industries and for various disciplines, including some we never expected! One of the most popular areas is IT Service Management where Insight plays an important role connecting all relevant asset data to incidents, changes, problems, and requests,” write Mindville’s founders in today’s announcement. “Combining our solutions with the products from Atlassian enables tighter integration for more sophisticated service management, empowered by the underlying asset data.”

May
20
2020
--

Directly, which taps experts to train chatbots, raises $11M, closes out Series B at $51M

Directly, a startup whose mission is to help build better customer service chatbots by using experts in specific areas to train them, has raised more funding as it opens up a new front to grow its business: APIs and a partner ecosystem that can now also tap into its expert network. Today Directly is announcing that it has added $11 million to close out its Series B at $51 million (it raised $20 million back in January of this year, and another $20 million as part of the Series B back in 2018).

The funding is coming from Triangle Peak Partners and Toba Capital, while its previous investors in the round included strategic backers Samsung NEXT and Microsoft’s M12 Ventures (who are both customers, alongside companies like Airbnb), as well as Industry Ventures, True Ventures, Costanoa Ventures and Northgate. (As we reported when covering the initial close, Directly’s valuation at that time was at $110 million post-money, and so this would likely put it at $120 million or higher, given how the business has expanded.)

While chatbots have now been around for years, a key focus in the tech world has been how to help them work better, after initial efforts saw so many disappointing results that it was fair to ask whether they were even worth the trouble.

Directly’s premise is that the most important part of getting a chatbot to work well is to make sure that it’s trained correctly, and its approach to that is very practical: find experts both to troubleshoot questions and provide answers.

As we’ve described before, its platform helps businesses identify and reach out to “experts” in the business or product in question, collect knowledge from them, and then fold that into a company’s AI to help train it and answer questions more accurately. It also looks at data input and output into those AI systems to figure out what is working, and what is not, and how to fix that, too.

The information is typically collected by way of question-and-answer sessions. Directly compensates experts both for submitting information as well as to pay out royalties when their knowledge has been put to use, “just as you would in traditional copyright licensing in music,” its co-founder Antony Brydon explained to me earlier this year.

It can take as little as 100 experts, but potentially many more, to train a system, depending on how much the information needs to be updated over time. (Directly’s work for Xbox, for example, used 1,000 experts but has to date answered millions of questions.)

Directly’s pitch to customers is that building a better chatbot can help deflect more questions from actual live agents (and subsequently cut operational costs for a business). It claims that customer contacts can be reduced by up to 80%, with customer satisfaction by up to 20%, as a result.

What’s interesting is that now Directly sees an opportunity in expanding that expert ecosystem to a wider group of partners, some of which might have previously been seen as competitors. (Not unlike Amazon’s AI powering a multitude of other businesses, some of which might also be in the market of selling the same services that Amazon does).

The partner ecosystem, as Directly calls it, use APIs to link into Directly’s platform. Meya, Percept.ai, and SmartAction — which themselves provide a range of customer service automation tools — are three of the first users.

“The team at Directly have quickly proven to be trusted and invaluable partners,” said Erik Kalviainen, CEO at Meya, in a statement. “As a result of our collaboration, Meya is now able to take advantage of a whole new set of capabilities that will enable us to deliver automated solutions both faster and with higher resolution rates, without customers needing to deploy significant internal resources. That’s a powerful advantage at a time when scale and efficiency are key to any successful customer support operation.”

The prospect of a bigger business funnel beyond even what Directly was pulling in itself is likely what attracted the most recent investment.

“Directly has established itself as a true leader in helping customers thrive during these turbulent economic times,” said Tyler Peterson, Partner at Triangle Peak Partners, in a statement. “There is little doubt that automation will play a tremendous role in the future of customer support, but Directly is realizing that potential today. Their platform enables businesses to strike just the right balance between automation and human support, helping them adopt AI-powered solutions in a way that is practical, accessible, and demonstrably effective.”

In January, Mike de la Cruz, who took over as CEO at the time of the funding announcement, said the company was gearing up for a larger Series C in 2021. It’s not clear how and if that will be impacted by the current state of the world. But in the meantime, as more organizations are looking for ways to connect with customers outside of channels that might require people to physically visit stores, or for employees to sit in call centres, it presents a huge opportunity for companies like this one.

“At its core, our business is about helping customer support leaders resolve customer issues with the right mix of automation and human support,” said de la Cruz in a statement. “It’s one thing to deliver a great product today, but we’re committed to ensuring that our customers have the solutions they need over the long term. That means constantly investing in our platform and expanding our capabilities, so that we can keep up with the rapid pace of technological change and an unpredictable economic landscape. These new partnerships and this latest expansion of our recent funding round have positioned us to do just that. We’re excited to be collaborating with our new partners, and very thankful to all of our investors for their support.”

Jan
12
2020
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Samsung launches the rugged, enterprise-ready Galaxy XCover Pro

We got a bit of a surprise at the end of CES: some hands-on time with Samsung’s latest rugged phone for the enterprise, the Galaxy XCover Pro. The XCover Pro, which is officially launching today, is a mid-range $499 phone for first-line workers like flight attendants, construction workers or nurses.

It is meant to be very rugged but without the usual bulk that comes with that. With its IP68 rating, Military Standard 810 certification and the promise that it will survive a drop from 1.5 meters (4.9 feet) without a case, it should definitely be able to withstand quite a bit of abuse.

While Samsung is aiming this phone at the enterprise market, the company tells us that it will also sell it to individual customers.

As Samsung stressed during our briefing, the phone is meant for all-day use in the field, with a 4,050 mAh replaceable battery (yes, you read that right, you can replace the battery just like on phones from a few years ago). It’ll feature 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage space, but you can extend that up to 512GB thanks to the built-in microSD slot. The 6.3-inch FHD+ screen won’t wow you, but it seemed perfectly adequate for most of the use cases. That screen, the company says, should work even in rain or snow and features a glove mode, too.

And while this is obviously not a flagship phone, Samsung still decided to give it a dual rear camera setup, with a standard 25MP sensor and a wide-angle 8MP sensor for those times where you might want to get the full view of a construction site, for example. On the front, there is a small cutout for a 13MP camera, too.

All of this is powered by a 2GHz octa-core Exynos 9611 processor, as one would expect from a Samsung mid-range phone, as well as Android 10.

Traditionally, rugged phones came with large rubber edges (or users decided to put even larger cases around them). The XCover Pro, on the other hand, feels slimmer than most regular phones with a rugged case on them.

By default, the phone features NFC support for contactless payments (the phone has been approved to be part of Visa’s Tap to Phone pilot program) and two programmable buttons so that companies can customize their phones for their specific use cases. One of the first partners here is Microsoft, which lets you map a button to its recently announced walkie talkie feature in Microsoft Teams.

“Microsoft and Samsung have a deep history of bringing together the best hardware and software to help solve our customers’ challenges,” said Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella in today’s announcement. “The powerful combination of Microsoft Teams and the new Galaxy XCover Pro builds on this partnership and will provide frontline workers everywhere with the technology they need to be more collaborative, productive and secure.”

With its Pogo pin charging support and compatibility with third-party tools from a variety of partners for adding scanners, credit card readers and other peripherals from partners like Infinite Peripherals, KOAMTAC, Scandit and Visa.

No enterprise device is complete without security features and the XCover Pro obviously supports all of Samsungs various Knox enterprise security tools and access to the phone itself is controlled by both a facial recognition system and a fingerprint reader that’s built into the power button.

With the Tab Active Pro, Samsung has long offered a rugged tablet for first-line workers. Not everybody needs a full-sized tablet, though, so the XCover Pro fills what Samsung clearly believes is a gap in the market that offers always-on connectivity in a smaller package and in the form of a phone that doesn’t look unlike a consumer device.

I could actually imagine that there are quite a few consumers who may opt for this device. For a while, the company made phones like the Galaxy S8 Active that traded weight and size for larger batteries and ruggedness. the XCover Pro isn’t officially a replacement of this program, but it may just find its fans among former Galaxy Active users.

Oct
30
2019
--

Samsung ramps up its B2B partner and developer efforts

Chances are you mostly think of Samsung as a consumer-focused electronics company, but it actually has a very sizable B2B business as well, which serves more than 15,000 large enterprises and hundreds of thousands of SMB entrepreneurs via its partners. At its developer conference this week, it’s putting the spotlight squarely on this side of its business — with a related hardware launch as well. The focus of today’s news, however, is on Knox, Samsung’s mobile security platform, and Project AppStack, which will likely get a different name soon, and which provides B2B customers with a new mechanism to deliver SaaS tools and native apps to their employees’ devices, as well as new tools for developers that make these services more discoverable.

At least in the U.S., Samsung hasn’t really marketed its B2B business all that much. With this event, the company is clearly thinking to change that.

At its core, Samsung is, of course, a hardware company, and as Taher Behbehani, the head of its U.S. mobile B2B division, told me, Samsung’s tablet sales actually doubled in the last year, and most of these were for industrial deployments and business-specific solutions. To better serve this market, the company today announced that it is bringing the rugged Tab Active Pro to the U.S. market. Previously, it was only available in Europe.

The Active Pro, with its 10.1″ display, supports Samsung’s S Pen, as well as Dex for using it on the desktop. It’s got all of the dust and water-resistance you would expect from a rugged device, is rated to easily support drops from about four feet high and promises up to 15 hours of battery life. It also features LTE connectivity and has an NFC reader on the back to allow you to badge into a secure application or take contactless payments (which are quite popular in most of the world but are only very slowly becoming a thing in the U.S.), as well as a programmable button to allow business users and frontline workers to open any application they select (like a barcode scanner).

“The traditional rugged devices out there are relatively expensive, relatively heavy to carry around for a full shift,” Samsung’s Chris Briglin told me. “Samsung is growing that market by serving users that traditionally haven’t been able to afford rugged devices or have had to share them between up to four co-workers.”

Today’s event is less about hardware than software and partnerships, though. At the core of the announcements is the new Knox Partner Program, a new way for partners to create and sell applications on Samsung devices. “We work with about 100,000 developers,” said Behbehani. “Some of these developers are inside companies. Some are outside independent developers and ISVs. And what we hear from these developer communities is when they have a solution or an app, how do I get that to a customer? How do I distribute it more effectively?”

This new partner program is Samsung’s solution for that. It’s a three-tier partner program that’s an evolution of the existing Samsung Enterprise Alliance program. At the most basic level, partners get access to support and marketing assets. At all tiers, partners can also get Knox validation for their applications to highlight that they properly implement all of the Knox APIs.

The free Bronze tier includes access to Knox SDKs and APIs, as well as licensing keys. At the Silver level, partners will get support in their region, while Gold-level members get access to the Samsung Solutions Catalog, as well as the ability to be included in the internal catalog used by Samsung sales teams globally. “This is to enable Samsung teams to find the right solutions to meet customer needs, and promote these solutions to its customers,” the company writes in today’s announcement. Gold-level partners also get access to test devices.

The other new service that will enable developers to reach more enterprises and SMBs is Project AppStack.

“When a new customer buys a Samsung device, no matter if it’s an SMB or an enterprise, depending on the information they provide to us, they get to search for and they get to select a number of different applications specifically designed to help them in their own vertical and for the size of the business,” explained Behbehani. “And once the phone is activated, these apps are downloaded through the ISV or the SaaS player through the back-end delivery mechanism which we are developing.”

For large enterprises, Samsung also runs an algorithm that looks at the size of the business and the vertical it is in to recommend specific applications, too.

Samsung will run a series of hackathons over the course of the next few months to figure out exactly how developers and its customers want to use this service. “It’s a module. It’s a technology backend. It has different components to it,” said Behbehani. “We have a number of tools already in place we have to fine- tune others and we also, to be honest, want to make sure that we come up with a POC in the marketplace that accurately reflects the requirements and the creativity of what the demand is in the marketplace.”

Nov
01
2017
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Samsung now offers an Enterprise Edition of the Note 8 for business

 The push to let employees bring their own devices to work has been underway for some time now — in fact, it’s a big part of what ultimately doomed enterprise-focused companies like BlackBerry’s hardware businesses. Samsung’s been walking the line for a while as well, rolling out enterprise features like Knox security for its consumer handsets, along with accessories… Read More

Mar
02
2017
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New skimmers fit right on top of chip and PIN credit card scanners

ped3-copy-940x698 As usual Mr. Krebs has some great images of a credit card skimmer found in the wild. This model uses Samsung phone parts and lays right over the Ingenico card scanners you’ve probably seen in stores. The interesting thing is that these scanners also support chip and PIN technology but, as evidenced by the photo, it looks like the retailer disabled it essentially sending the scanner back… Read More

Nov
16
2016
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Google signs on to the .NET Foundation as Samsung brings .NET support to Tizen

2016-11-15_1502 Microsoft is hosting its annual Connect(); developer event in New York today. With .NET being at the core of many of its efforts, including on the open-source side, it’s no surprise that the event also featured a few .NET-centric announcements, as well. For the most part, these center around the .NET Foundation, the open-source organization Microsoft established to guide the future… Read More

Oct
27
2016
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Samsung acquires Tachyon to extend enterprise mobile device management

samsung-AP-sm Samsung’s mobile operation has taken a big hit of late, with profits plunging 30% in the last quarter in the wake of the Note 7 recall. But today, the company is announcing an acquisition of a wireless enterprise startup that speaks to how it wants to grow other areas of its business to offset setbacks like this, as well as the larger overall slowdown in handset sales globally. Samsung… Read More

Jul
26
2016
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Testing Samsung storage in tpcc-mysql benchmark of Percona Server

tpcc-mysql benchmark

This blog post will detail the results of Samsung storage in

tpcc-mysql

 benchmark using Percona Server.

I had an opportunity to test different Samsung storage devices under tpcc-mysql benchmark powered by Percona Server 5.7. You can find a summary with details here https://github.com/Percona-Lab-results/201607-tpcc-samsung-storage/blob/master/summary-tpcc-samsung.md

I have in my possession:

  • Samsung 850 Pro, 2TB: This is a SATA device and is positioned as consumer-oriented, something that you would use in a high-end user desktop. As of this post, I estimate the price of this device as around $430/TB.
  • Samsung SM8631.92TB: this device is also a SATA, and positioned for a server usage. The current price is about $600/TB. 
  • Samsung PM1725, 800GB: This is an NVMe device, in a 2.5″ form factor, but it requires a connection to a PCIe slot, which I had to allocate in my server. The device is high-end, oriented for server-side and demanding workloads. The current price is about $1300/TB.

I am going to use 1000 warehouses in the 

tpcc-mysql

 benchmarks, which corresponds roughly to a data size of 100GB.

This benchmark varies the

innodb_buffer_pool_size

 from 5GB to 115GB. With 5GB buffer pool size only a very small portion of data fits into memory, which results in intensive foreground IO reads and intensive background IO writes. With 115GB almost all data fits into memory, which results in very small (or almost zero) IO reads and moderate background IO writes.

All buffer pool sizes in the middle of the interval correspond to resulting IO reads and writes. For example, we can see the read to write ratio on the chart below (received for the PM1725 device) with different buffer pool sizes:

tpcc-mysql benchmarks

We can see that for the 5GB buffer pool size we have 56000 read IOPs operations and 32000 write IOPs. For 115GB, the reads are minimal at about 300 IOPS and the background writes are at the 20000 IOPs level. Reads gradually decline with the increasing buffer pool size.

The charts are generated with the Percona Monitoring and Management tools.

Results

Let’s review the results. The first chart shows measurements taken every one second, allowing us to see the trends and stalls.

tpcc-mysql benchmarks

If we take averages, the results are:

tpcc-mysql benchmarks

In table form (the results are in new order transactions per minute (NOTPM)):

bp, GB pm1725 sam850 sam863 pm1725 / sam863 pm1725 / sam850
5 42427.57 1931.54 14709.69 2.88 21.97
15 78991.67 2750.85 31655.18 2.50 28.72
25 108077.56 5156.72 56777.82 1.90 20.96
35 122582.17 8986.15 93828.48 1.31 13.64
45 127828.82 12136.51 123979.99 1.03 10.53
55 130724.59 19547.81 127971.30 1.02 6.69
65 131901.38 27653.94 131020.07 1.01 4.77
75 133184.70 38210.94 131410.40 1.01 3.49
85 133058.50 39669.90 131657.16 1.01 3.35
95 133553.49 39519.18 132882.29 1.01 3.38
105 134021.26 39631.03 132126.29 1.01 3.38
115 134037.09 39469.34 132683.55 1.01 3.40

Conclusion

The Samsung 850 obviously can’t keep with the more advanced SM863 and PM1725. The PM1725 shows a greater benefit with smaller buffer pool sizes. In cases using large amounts of memory, there is practically no difference with SM863. The reason is that with big buffer pool sizes, MySQL does not push IO subsystem much to use all the PM1725 performance.

For the reference, my.cnf file is

[mysqld]
datadir=/var/lib/mysql
socket=/tmp/mysql.sock
ssl=0
symbolic-links=0
sql_mode=NO_ENGINE_SUBSTITUTION,STRICT_TRANS_TABLES
# general
thread_cache_size=2000
table_open_cache = 200000
table_open_cache_instances=64
back_log=1500
query_cache_type=0
max_connections=4000
# files
innodb_file_per_table
innodb_log_file_size=15G
innodb_log_files_in_group=2
innodb_open_files=4000
innodb_io_capacity=10000
loose-innodb_io_capacity_max=12000
innodb_lru_scan_depth=1024
innodb_page_cleaners=32
# buffers
innodb_buffer_pool_size= 200G
innodb_buffer_pool_instances=8
innodb_log_buffer_size=64M
# tune
innodb_doublewrite= 1
innodb_support_xa=0
innodb_thread_concurrency=0
innodb_flush_log_at_trx_commit= 1
innodb_flush_method=O_DIRECT_NO_FSYNC
innodb_max_dirty_pages_pct=90
join_buffer_size=32K
sort_buffer_size=32K
innodb_use_native_aio=0
innodb_stats_persistent = 1
# perf special
innodb_adaptive_flushing = 1
innodb_flush_neighbors = 0
innodb_read_io_threads = 16
innodb_write_io_threads = 8
innodb_purge_threads=4
innodb_adaptive_hash_index=0
innodb_change_buffering=none
loose-innodb-log_checksum-algorithm=crc32
loose-innodb-checksum-algorithm=strict_crc32
loose-innodb_sched_priority_cleaner=39
loose-metadata_locks_hash_instances=256

Feb
26
2015
--

Samsung Filed The Most Patents In Europe In 2014, U.S. Led The Field By Country

4661050938_1f40e33d08_b While IBM is number-one when it comes to the number of patents filed in the U.S., in Europe, Samsung is leading the pack. Today, the European Patent Office released 2014 figures for patents filed in the region, which showed that the Korean company, and currently the world’s largest smartphone maker, filed 2,541 for the full year. In terms of countries, the U.S. dominated the list,… Read More

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