All posts by Richy George

Humio raises $9M Series A for its real-time log analysis service

Posted by on 24 January, 2019

This post was originally published on this site

Humio, a startup that provides a real-time log analysis service for on-premises and cloud infrastructures, today announced that it has raised a $9 million Series A round led by Accel. It previously raised its seed round from WestHill and Trifork.

The company, which has offices in San Francisco, the U.K. and Denmark, tells me that it saw a 13x increase in its annual revenue in 2018. Current customers include Bloomberg, Microsoft and Netlify .

“We are experiencing a fundamental shift in how companies build, manage and run their systems,” said Humio CEO Geeta Schmidt. “This shift is driven by the urgency to adopt cloud-based and microservice-driven application architectures for faster development cycles, and dealing with sophisticated security threats. These customer requirements demand a next-generation logging solution that can provide live system observability and efficiently store the massive amounts of log data they are generating.”

To offer them this solution, Humio raised this round with an eye toward fulfilling the demand for its service, expanding its research and development teams and moving into more markets across the globe.

As Schmidt also noted, many organizations are rather frustrated by the log management and analytics solutions they currently have in place. “Common frustrations we hear are that legacy tools are too slow — on ingestion, searches and visualizations — with complex and costly licensing models,” she said. “Ops teams want to focus on operations — not building, running and maintaining their log management platform.”

To build this next-generation analysis tool, Humio built its own time series database engine to ingest the data, with open-source tools like Scala, Elm and Kafka in the backend. As data enters the pipeline, it’s pushed through live searches and then stored for later queries. As Humio VP of Engineering Christian Hvitved tells me, though, running ad-hoc queries is the exception, and most users only do so when they encounter bugs or a DDoS attack.

The query language used for the live filters is also pretty straightforward. That was a conscious decision, Hvitved said. “If it’s too hard, then users don’t ask the question,” he said. “We’re inspired by the Unix philosophy of using pipes, so in Humio, larger searches are built by combining smaller searches with pipes. This is very familiar to developers and operations people since it is how they are used to using their terminal.”

Humio charges its customers based on how much data they want to ingest and for how long they want to store it. Pricing starts at $200 per month for 30 days of data retention and 2 GB of ingested data.

Posted Under: Tech News
Blue Prism looks to partners to expand robotic process automation with AI

Posted by on 24 January, 2019

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Blue Prism helped coin the term robotic process automation (RPA) when the company was founded back in 2001 to help companies understand the notion of automating mundane business processes. Today, it’s releasing updates to that platform including an updated marketplace for exchanging connectors to extend the main product, and in some cases, adding a layer of intelligence.

The product at its core has allowed non-technical users to automate a business process by simply dragging components into an interface. All of the process coding has been automated on the back end. You could have a process that scans a check, enters a figure in a spreadsheet and sends an automated message to another employee (or digital process) when it’s done.

Moss sees a world in which companies are looking to digitization to stave off growing competition. Big insurance companies, financial services and other workflow-intensive organizations need to look beyond the automation capabilities his company has given them and that is going to require an intelligence layer.

Today, the company wants to extend its core capability by offering more advanced tools in the Blue Prism Digital Exchange marketplace. The Exchange gives partners and customers the ability to create and share tools to enhance Blue Prism. To encourage those entities to add AI capabilities, the company also announced a new AI engine for building connectors to advanced AI tools from Amazon, Google, IBM and other AI platforms.

But the company doesn’t want to simply leave it to partners to provide the innovation. It wants that happening in-house as well, and to that end it has created Blue Prism Labs, where it will work with these same technologies looking for ways to inject its RPA products with artificial intelligence. This could lead to more sophisticated automated workflows down the road such as using image recognition technology to add metadata about a photo automatically.

While Blue Prism has been a public company since 2016, the market has attracted a slew of startups, which have in turn been attracting big bucks from investors on gaudy valuations. UIPath, a NYC RPA company has raised almost $450 million. Its most recent round in September was for $225 million on a $3 billion valuation. Automation Anywhere, a San Jose RPA startup, has raised $550 million including an enormous $300 million investment from SoftBank in November on a valuation of $2.6 billion.

Posted Under: Tech News
AWS launches WorkLink to make accessing mobile intranet sites and web apps easier

Posted by on 23 January, 2019

This post was originally published on this site

If your company uses a VPN and/or a mobile device management service to give you access to its intranet and internal web apps, then you know how annoying those are. AWS today launched a new product, Amazon WorkLink,  that promises to make this process significantly easier.

WorkLink is a fully managed service that, for $5 per month and user, allows IT admins to give employees one-click access to internal sites, no matter whether they run on AWS or not.

After installing WorkLink on their phones, employees can then simply use their favorite browser to surf to an internal website (other solutions often force users to use a sub-par proprietary browser). WorkLink the goes to work, securely requests that site and — and that’s the smart part here — a secure WorkLink container converts the site into an interactive vector graphic and sends it back to the phone. Nothing is stored or cached on the phone and AWS says WorkLink knows nothing about personal device activity either. That also means when a device is lost or stolen, there’s no need to try to wipe it remotely because there’s simply no company data on it.

IT can either use a VPN to connect from an AWS Virtual Private Cloud to on-premise servers or use AWS Direct Connect to bypass a VPN solution. The service works with all SAML 2.0 identity providers (which is the majority of identity services used in the enterprise, including the likes of Okta and Ping Identity) and as a fully managed service, it handles scaling and updates in the background.

“When talking with customers, all of them expressed frustration that their workers don’t have an easy and secure way to access internal content, which means that their employees either waste time or don’t bother trying to access content that would make them more productive,” says Peter Hill, Vice President of Productivity Applications at AWS, in today’s announcement. “With Amazon WorkLink, we’re enabling greater workplace productivity for those outside the corporate firewall in a way that IT administrators and security teams are happy with and employees are willing to use.”

WorkLink will work with both Android and iOS, but for the time being, only the iOS app (iOS 12+) is available. For now, it also only works with Safar, with Chrome support coming in the next few weeks. The service is also only available in Europe and North America for now, with additional regions coming later this year.

For the time being, AWS’s cloud archrivals Google and Microsoft don’t offer any services that are quite comparable with WorkLink. Google offers its Cloud Identity-Aware Proxy as a VPN alternative and as part of its BeyondCorp program, though that has a very different focus, while Microsoft offers a number of more traditional mobile device management solutions.

Posted Under: Tech News
Oracle says racial discrimination lawsuit is ‘meritless’

Posted by on 23 January, 2019

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Oracle says the racial discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs is “meritless.” This comes after Oracle declined yesterday to comment on the OFCCP’s filing that alleges Oracle withheld $400 million in wages from underrepresented employees.

“This meritless lawsuit is based on false allegations and a seriously flawed process within the OFCCP that relies on cherry picked statistics rather than reality,” Oracle EVP and General Counsel Dorian Daley said in a statement to TechCrunch. “We fiercely disagree with the spurious claims and will continue in the process to prove them false. We are in compliance with our regulatory obligations, committed to equality, and proud of our employees.”

In a filing yesterday, the OFCCP alleged Oracle withheld $400 million in wages from racially underrepresented workers (black, Latinx and Asian) as well as women. The department argues that Oracle’s “stark patterns of discrimination” started back in 2013 and continues into the present day. More specifically, the OFCCP alleges Oracle discriminated against black, Asian and female employees. This has all ultimately resulted in the collective loss of more than $400 million for this group of employees, the suit alleges.

Posted Under: Tech News
Open-source leader Confluent raises $125m on $2.5b valuation

Posted by on 23 January, 2019

This post was originally published on this site

Confluent, the commercial company built on top of the open source Apache Kafka project, announced a $125 million Series D round this morning on an enormous $2.5 billion valuation.

The round was led by existing investor Sequoia Capital with participation from Index Ventures and Benchmark, who also participated in previous rounds. Today’s investment brings the total raised to $206 million, according the company.

The valuation soared from the previous round when the company was valued at $500 million. What’s more, the company’s bookings have scaled along with the valuation.

Graph: Confluent

 

While CEO Jay Kreps wouldn’t comment directly on a future IPO, he hinted that it is something the company is looking to do at some point. “With our growth and momentum so far, and with the latest funding, we are in a very good position to and have a desire to build a strong, independent company…” Kreps told TechCrunch.

Confluent and Kafka have developed a streaming data technology that processes massive amounts of information in real time, something that comes in handy in today’s data-intensive environment. The base streaming database technology was developed at LinkedIn as a means of moving massive amounts of messages. The company decided to open source that technology in 2011, and Confluent launched as the commercial arm in 2014.

Kreps, writing in a company blog post announcing the funding, said that the events concept encompasses the basic building blocks of businesses. “These events are the orders, sales and customer experiences, that constitute the operation of the business. Databases have long helped to store the current state of the world, but we think this is only half of the story. What is missing are the continually flowing stream of events that represents everything happening in a company, and that can act as the lifeblood of its operation,” he wrote.

Kreps pointed out that as an open source project, Confluent depends on the community. “This is not something we’re doing alone. Apache Kafka has a massive community of contributors of which we’re just one part,” he wrote.

While the base open source component remains available for free download, it doesn’t include the additional tooling the company has built to make it easier for enterprises to use Kafka.
Recent additions include a managed cloud version of the product and a marketplace, Confluent Hub, for sharing extensions to the platform.

As we watch the company’s valuation soar, it does so against a backdrop of other companies based on open source selling for big bucks in 2018 including IBM buying Red Hat for $34 billion in October and Salesforce acquiring Mulesoft in June for $6.5 billion.

The company’s most recent round was $50 million in March, 2017.

Posted Under: Tech News
Anchorage emerges with $17M from a16z for ‘omnimetric’ crypto security

Posted by on 23 January, 2019

This post was originally published on this site

I’m not allowed to tell you exactly how Anchorage keeps rich institutions from being robbed of their cryptocurrency, but the off-the-record demo was damn impressive. Judging by the $17 million Series A this security startup raised last year led by Andreessen Horowitz and joined by Khosla Ventures, Max Levchin, Elad Gil, Mark McCombe of Blackrock, and AngelList’s Naval Ravikant, I’m not the only one who thinks so. In fact, crypto funds like Andreessen’s a16zcrypto, Paradigm, and Electric Capital are already using it.

They’re trusting in the guys who engineered Square’s first encrypted card reader and Docker’s security protocols. “It’s less about us choosing this space and more about this space choosing us. If you look our backgrounds and you look at the problem, it’s like the universe handed us on a silver platter the venn diagram of our skillset” co-founder Diogo Monica tells me.

Today, Anchorage is coming out of stealth and launching its cryptocurrency custody service to the public. Anchorage holds and safeguards crypto assets for institutions like hedge funds and venture firms, and only allows transactions verified by an array of biometrics, behavioral analysis, and human reviewers. And since it doesn’t use “buried in the backyard” cold storage, asset holders can actually earn rewards and advantages for participating in coin-holder votes without fear of getting their Bitcoin, Ethereum, or other coins stolen.

The result is a crypto custody service that could finally lure big-time commercial banks, endowments, pensions, mutual funds, and hedgies into the blockchain world. Whether they seek short-term gains off of crypto volatility or want to HODL long-term while participating in coin governance, Anchorage promises to protect them.

Evolving Past “Pirate Security”

Anchorage’s story starts eight years ago when Monica and his co-founder Nathan McCauley met after joining Square the same week. Monica had been getting a PhD in distributed systems while McCauley designed anti-reverse engineering tech to keep US military data from being extracted from abandoned tanks or jets. After four years of building systems that would eventually move over $80 billion per year in credit card transactions, they packaged themselves as a “pre-product acquihire” Monica tells me, and they were snapped up by Docker.

As their reputation grew from work and conference keynotes, cryptocurrency funds started reaching out for help with custody of their private keys. One had lost a passphrase and the $1 million in currency it was protecting in a display of jaw-dropping ignorance. The pair realized there were no true standards in crypto custody, so they got to work on Anchorage.

“You look at the status quo and it was and still is cold storage. It’s the same technology used by pirates in the 1700s” Monica explains. “You bury your crypto in a treasure chest and then you make a treasure map of where those gold coins are” except with USB keys, security deposit boxes, and checklists. “We started calling it Pirate Custody.” Anchorage set out to develop something better — a replacement for usernames and passwords or even phone numbers and two-factor authentication that could be misplaced or hijacked.

This led them to Andreessen Horowitz partner and a16zcrypto leader Chris Dixon, who’s now on their board. “We’ve been buying crypto assets running back to Bitcoin for years now here at a16zcrypto and it’s hard to do it in a way that’s secure, regulatory compliant, and lets you access it. We felt this pain point directly.”

Andreessen Horowith partner and Anchorage board member Chris Dixon

it’s at this point in the conversation when Monica and McCauley give me their off the record demo. While there are no screenshots to share, the enterprise security suite they’ve built has the polish of a consumer app like Robinhood. What I can say is that Anchorage works with clients to whitelist employees’ devices. It then uses multiple types of biometric signals and behavioral analytics about the person and device trying to log in to verify their identity.

But even once they have access, Anchorage is built around quorum-based approvals. Withdrawls, other transactions, and even changing employee permissions requires approval from multiple users inside the client company. They could set up Anchorage so it requires five of seven executives’ approval to pull out assets. And finally, outlier detection algorithms and a human review the transaction to make sure it looks legit. A hacker or rogue employee can’t steal the funds even if they’re logged in since they need consensus of approval.

That kind of assurance means institutional investors can confidently start to invest in crypto assets. That swell of capital could help replace the retreating consumer investors who’ve fled the market this year leading to massive price drops. The liquidity provided by these asset managers could keep the whole blockchain industry moving. “Institutional investing has had centuries to build up a set of market infrastructure. Custody was something that for other asset classes was solved hundreds of years ago so it’s just now catching up [for crypto]” says McCauley. “We’re creating a bigger market in and of itself” Monica adds.

With Anchorage steadfastly handling custody, the risk these co-founders admit worries them lies in the smart contracts that govern the cryptocurrencies themselves. “We need to be extremely wide in our level of support and extremely deep because each blockchain has details of implementation. This is inherently a very difficult problem” McCauley explains. It doesn’t matter if the coins are safe in Anchorage’s custody if a janky smart contract can botch their transfer.

There are plenty of startups vying to offer crypto custody, ranging from Bitgo and Ledger to well-known names like Coinbase and Gemini. Yet Anchorage offers a rare combination of institutional-since-day-one security rigor with the ability to participate in votes and governance of crypto assets that’s impossible if they’re in cold storage. Down the line, Anchorage hints that it might serve clients recommendations for how to vote to maximize their yield and preserve the sanctity of their coin.

They’ll have crypto investment legend Chris Dixon on their board to guide them. “What you’ll see is in the same way that institutional investors want to buy stock in Facebook and Google and Netflix, they’ll want to buy the equivalent in the world 10 years from now and do that safely” Dixon tells me. “Anchorage will be that layer for them.”

But why do the Anchorage founders care so much about the problem? McCauley concludes that “When we look at what’s potentially possible with crypto, there a fundamentally more accessible economy. We view ourselves as a key component of bringing that future forward.”

Posted Under: Tech News
Two years after being acquired by Cisco, AppDynamics keeps expanding monitoring vision

Posted by on 23 January, 2019

This post was originally published on this site

Two years ago this week, AppDynamics was about to IPO. Then Cisco swooped in with a big fat check for $3.7 billion and plans changed quickly. Today, as part of Cisco, the company announced it was expanding its monitoring vision across the business with a number of enhancements to its product suite.

AppDynamics CEO David Wadhwani says the company wants to monitor your technology wherever it lives in the enterprise, from serverless to mainframe. That kind of comprehensive view of a customer’s computing environment requires a level of built-in intelligence, and being part of a large organization like Cisco helped move more quickly toward this approach.

Last year when Cisco bought Perspica, a machine learning startup, it folded the engineering team into AppDynamics with a plan to make the product more intelligent. Given the sheer amount of information, a product like AppDynamics is monitoring, it’s a perfect use case for machine learning, which feeds on copious amounts of data.

Today the company announced the fruit of that labor in the form of a new Cognition Engine. Instead of simply pointing out that there is a problem, and leaving it to the DevOps team to figure out the root cause, the Cognition Engine handles both in an automated way. When you combine that with a rules engine, you can move from detection to root cause analysis to remediation much more quickly than in the past. Eventually Wadhwani expects the Cognition Engine can learn from the rules engine and begin to build even more automated fixes.

Root Cause Analysis. Screen: AppDynamics

The company is also announcing some new monitoring capabilities, including AWS Lambda, the serverless service, which has been gaining momentum in recent years among developers. The approach poses challenges to a monitoring tool like AppDynamics because the application doesn’t sit on a defined virtual machine, but instead uses ephemeral resources, served up by AWS at any given moment based on resource requirements. AppDynamics now offers a way to trace transactions on this type of infrastructure.

Finally, now that it’s part of the Cisco family, the product is looking not only at the application layer, it is expanding that vision to incorporate the networking infrastructure as well to help understand issues and set policies just as it does with applications.

All of this is part of what Cisco is calling a “central nervous system” for enterprise computing. It’s a marketing term designed to encompasses the overall vision of trying to locate issues, find the causes and fix them in as automated a way as possible across the enterprise computing landscape.

Posted Under: Tech News
Jupiter Networks invests $2.5M in enterprise tech accelerator Alchemist

Posted by on 22 January, 2019

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Alchemist, which began as an experiment to better promote enterprise entrepreneurs, has morphed into a well-established Silicon Valley accelerator.

To prove it, San Francisco-based Alchemist is announcing a fresh $2.5 million investment ahead of its 20th demo day on Wednesday. Jupiter Networks, a networking and cybersecurity solutions business, has led the round, with participation from Siemens’ venture capital unit Next47.

Launched in 2012 by former Draper Fisher Jurvetson investor Ravi Belani, Alchemist provides participating teams with six months of mentorship and a $36,000 investment. Alchemist admits companies whose revenue stream comes from enterprises, not consumers, with a bent toward technical founders.

According to numbers provided by the accelerator, dubbed the “Y Combinator of Enterprise,” 115 Alchemist portfolio companies have gone on to raise $556 million across several VC deals. Another 25 have been acquired, including S4 Capital’s recent $150 million acquisition of media consultancy MightyHive, Alchemist’s largest exit to date.

Other notable alums include Rigetti Computing, LaunchDarkly, which helps startups soft-launch features and drone startup Matternet.

Alchemist has previously raised venture capital funding, including a $2 million financing in 2017 led by GE and an undisclosed investment from Salesforce.

Nineteen companies will demo products onstage tomorrow. You can live stream Alchemist’s 20th demo day here.

Posted Under: Tech News
Okta appoints former Charles Schwab exec to board of directors

Posted by on 22 January, 2019

This post was originally published on this site

Okta, the Nasdaq-listed cloud identity management company, has recruited former Charles Schwab chief marketing officer Becky Saeger to its board of directors. The latest appointment comes one month after the company named Shellye Archambeau, former chief executive officer of MetricStream, to its board.

Saeger becomes Okta’s third female board member. Michelle Wilson, a former senior vice president and general counsel at Amazon, joined the company’s board in 2015. According to data collected by Women on Boards, women hold just over 17 percent of corporate board seats, up from 16.0 percent in 2017.

“A board is there for a few reasons,” Okta co-founder and CEO Todd McKinnon told TechCrunch. “One is to oversee a company’s management and strategy. A company like Okta is in a fast-growing industry and there is too much of a tendency for groupthink. You need someone around you to question the basis of what you’re thinking about.”

McKinnon has spoken openly about his commitment to diversity. In a letter to employees in early 2017, for example, he denounced President Donald Trump’s temporary ban on refugee admissions to the U.S. “Diversity of thought and experience are fundamental values at Okta, that includes religious beliefs, gender diversity, sexual orientation and political views,” he wrote. “No matter who you voted for, our opposition to this policy is not just about our business — it is also about our belief in the American freedoms and protections that have made our country so innovative and accepting of those most in need.”

Okta’s C-suite, though majority male, includes chief customer officer Krista Anderson-Copperman, executive vice president and chief of staff Angela Grady, and chief people officer Kristina Johnson.

Saeger, who McKinnon chose for her marketing and financial services acumen, also sits on the board of E*TRADE, an online broker.

“I am excited about the notion that as this company grows and evolves, the brand can become more visible and more meaningful,” Saeger told TechCrunch.

Headquartered in San Francisco, Okta debuted on the stock exchange in April 2017, closing up 38 percent on its first day of trading.

Posted Under: Tech News
Linux Foundation launches Hyperledger Grid to provide framework for supply chain projects

Posted by on 22 January, 2019

This post was originally published on this site

The Linux Foundation’s Hyperledger Project has a singular focus on the blockchain, but this morning it announced a framework for building supply chain projects where it didn’t want blockchain stealing the show.

In fact, the foundation is careful to point out that this project is not specifically about the blockchain, so much as providing the building blocks for a broader view of solving supply chain digitization issues. As it describes in a blog post announcing the project, it is neither an application nor a blockchain project, per se. So what is it?

“Grid is an ecosystem of technologies, frameworks and libraries that work together, letting application developers make the choice as to which components are most appropriate for their industry or market model.”

Hyperledger doesn’t want to get locked down by jargon or preconceived notions of what these projects should look like. It wants to provide developers with a set of tools and libraries and let them loose to come up with ideas and build applications specific to their industry requirements.

Primary contributors to the project to this point have been Cargill, Intel and Bitwise IO.

Supply chain has been a major early use case for distributed ledger applications in the enterprise. In fact, earlier today we covered an announcement from Citizens Reserve, a startup building a Supply Chain as a Service on the blockchain. IBM has been working on several supply chain uses cases, including diamond tracking and food supply protection.

But the distributed ledger idea is so new both for supply chain and the enterprise in general that developers are still very much finding their way. By providing a flexible, open-source framework, The Linux Foundation is giving developers an open option and trying to provide a flexible foundation to build applications as this all shakes out.

Posted Under: Tech News
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