Wednesday, 25 May 2016

AppBridge Signs Partnership with Densan System Co.

Tokyo, Japan - 25 May 2016

AppBridge is excited to announce the signing of a strategic partnership with Densan System Co. in Tokyo, Japan on Wednesday, May 25th. Canada's Minister of International Trade, the Honourable Chrystia Freeland, witnessed and welcomed the signing as a reaffirmation of the growth of technology partnerships between Canada and Japan. With the signing of this partnership and the support of The Government of Canada's Trade Commissioner Service and CanExport Program, AppBridge projects strong and continuous growth in the Japanese market in 2016.

This partnership creates a powerful solution for Japanese enterprises by combining the speed and flexibility of the AppBridge Transformation Suite for Google Apps migration with the world-class services expertise of Densan Systems Co.

“Canada is a trading nation, and we will continue to explore ways in which we can expand our commercial relations and our progressive trade agenda with the Asia-Pacific region. Japan is a long-standing and important partner for Canada, and I am pleased to be here to see first-hand how Canadian and Japanese companies are working together to strengthen our economic ties and create good-paying jobs. I am especially pleased to welcome this agreement between AppBridge and its Japanese partner, which was made possible through the CanExport program that I launched earlier this year. CanExport, which is designed to help small Canadian companies export to new markets, is one of the tools that the Government of Canada provides to help small- and medium-sized companies do business abroad.”
- Hon. Chrystia Freeland, P.C., M.P., Minister of International Trade

The Government of Canada’s Trade Commissioner Service provides free advice and other services to Canadian exporters. CanExport provides direct financial support to small and medium-sized enterprises in Canada seeking to develop new export opportunities, particularly in high-growth priority markets and sectors.

"Thanks to the Government of Canada support through the CanExport program and partnership with Google Japan, we are now expanding into the Japanese market. This is an exciting and growing space, and we're looking forward to the growth in Canadian hiring this will allow us to pursue.
I'm really looking forward to partnering with CanExport again to help us support more Google customers around the world."
- Cam Wallin, CEO, AppBridge

Wednesday, 11 May 2016

Google brings BigQuery to Google Drive

Google has just announced that they're integrating the power of BigQuery with Google Drive. This combines impressive analytical power and speed with the simplicity and convenience of Google Sheets.

If you're not familiar with BigQuery, Google describes it as a "serverless fully-managed analytics data warehouse." By providing this new integration, Google makes it simple to add and edit data being used by your queries. Simply specify a Google Sheet as your table data source and you're done. Changes you make in the Sheet will be immediately reflected in your query results--which can now be saved to a Sheet as well.

With big data such a hot topic these days, this functionality could be immediately useful to a lot of organizations. Not to mention all the academics and scientists out there that are looking for flexible ways to get their work done.

migration to Google Apps and Google Drive
- creating a BigQuery table with a Google Sheet as the data source

Here are some highlights from the announcement:

  • Save query results directly to Google Sheets from the BigQuery UI. 
  • Query files directly from Google Drive, without first loading them into BigQuery. 
  • Query Google Sheets spreadsheets from BigQuery as you edit them in Sheets! 
For more information about this powerful new functionality, you can read the full post on the Google Cloud Big Data and Machine Learning blog.

Friday, 6 May 2016

Google Slides Live Q&A Feature Released

The Google Apps group just released a really interesting feature for Google Slides. It's called Slides Q&A and it allows people to submit questions and vote on them during a live Google Slides presentation.

Instead of waiting until the end of a presentation, it's now easy to have the audience submit questions and then vote on which ones they would like to hear answered first. I've presented on a number of webinars on platforms with some of this functionality (minus the voting ability), but the ability for anyone to do it for free through Google Slides is a great step forward for audience participation.  People who are too shy to raise their hand will love the ability to submit questions and everyone will benefit from the voting functionality.

migration to Google Apps and Google Drive

Here are some of the notes from the announcement:

  • The Slides Q&A feature works on desktop computers, Android mobile devices, and iOS mobile devices.
  • You can only use Slides Q&A if you have edit or comment access to that Slides presentation.
  • By default, any user in your domain can submit a question. If your organization permits external sharing, you can allow external users to submit questions as well.

For a great example of this feature being used with a live audience, check out the Slides Q&A video demo.

Wednesday, 4 May 2016

What has changed in content migration since the 90s?

Opening Moves

Picture a gaggle of eager high school students diligently copying and pasting content from one website to another. That was my first exposure to enterprise content migration. The year was 1999, and the content management system was NCompass Resolution. The mundane manual work was required because there simply wasn't any migration software available; the market for content management was minuscule by today's standards, and migrating websites to VignetteInterwoven (who featured Lance Armstrong on their marketing posters), or NCompass Resolution wouldn't have supported a serious development effort.

NCompass Resolution

So, when faced with the problem of how to get an existing website's content into a new Resolution powered site, the most cost-effective answer at the time was to hire a bunch of worker bee students. Things have certainly changed a lot since then; in fact, they've changed many times over. Software as a Service (SaaS) content management solutions such as Google Apps weren't even a glimmer in a developer's eye, and there would be many steps along the way to reaching the cloud. Each step requiring its own solution to the data migration puzzle.

- The MCMS Site Manager Windows application

The Game Gets Popular

When I look back on those days, I feel fortunate to have landed an entry-level job at NCompass Labs just as "Web Content Management" was breaking out of a humble niche market and into the mainstream. The trend accelerated after Microsoft acquired NCompass Labs in 2001 and rebranded the product as Microsoft Content Management Server (MCMS). Before the acquisition, most of the established content management solutions came from niche players. Big name companies were starting out, but they weren't really in the game yet. That quickly changed with a number of large software companies developing content management solutions--including Microsoft adding SharePoint to the mix. In a few short years, talking to people about content management went from deer in headlights, blank stare reactions to, "Oh, ya. I've heard of SharePoint."

MCMS Woodgrove sample site
- The Woodgrove Bank sample site for MCMS

Migration Becomes a Business

While working on MCMS 2002, the team was facing the same migration challenge we had previously solved using the brute force student plan. Hiring students for each project obviously wasn't a scalable solution, so that's when Metalogix entered the picture. The Metalogix team had already been working on sophisticated technology to extract content from websites, and when they impressed the team with a demo, the first migration solution for Microsoft was born: Metalogix Migration Assistant. Since the source system varied, the most logical solution was to extract the content from the browser and then use the MCMS server-side API (which was awesome BTW) to write the content to the target. Most migration software today, does not work like this. It's pretty much one API to another these days.

Metalogix box shot

The Rise of SharePoint

MCMS was a highly profitable business by most standards (it made ~$50 million in its first year), but Microsoft had much bigger plans. Namely, a project code-named Tahoe. We heard about Tahoe at NCompass, but there was no public demo, so we hadn't seen it yet. Tahoe wasn't just the worst kept secret code name at Microsoft (you'll find numerous references to the 'code name' all over the SharePoint community), it was the beginning of Microsoft SharePoint--the fastest product in Microsoft history to reach $1 billion in revenue (it's currently over $2 billion).

Unlike the early days, by the time SharePoint entered the picture in 2003, content management solutions were well on their way to mainstream adoption. There was a rush of offerings from companies such as EMC, Oracle, IBM and many others. At the time, Microsoft Windows was the dominant desktop operating system, so most of the content management solutions were tightly tied to the Windows environment. Yes, many added a web-based authoring interface, but they relied heavily on a Windows-centric view of the software landscape and these solutions--as well as the migration software for them--were simply not well-suited to the coming revolution now known as cloud computing.

Not surprisingly, when Microsoft folded the MCMS team into SharePoint, Metalogix was already working on a migration solution for the new product. (Metalogix's SharePoint migration products recently finished in 1st and 2nd place in a favourite SharePoint migration tool poll.) Over the various incarnations of SharePoint, migration Independent Software Vendors (ISVs) had to adapt to the changing technology. For example, SharePoint eventually added a SOAP-based client API, but it did not provide the same functionality as the server API. This complicated matters since migration vendors all wanted to support both on-premises and hosted installs. Although network connections were getting faster and more reliable, speed was definitely still a major issue for migrating data to and from the cloud.

MCMS website
- The old MCMS website

The Cloud Changes the Rules

A decade later, many on-premises services rose to the cloud, and many companies were scrambling to deal with the new reality. Microsoft chose to adapt SharePoint to the cloud, first releasing the Business Productivity Online Suite (BPOS) which was a slightly modified version of the on-premises technology, and then later grouping a number of SaaS offerings together as Office 365. Developers working on migration solutions for the cloud had a difficult time adjusting to the new paradigm. By this point, content management solutions featured more friendly REST APIs, but most product APIs simply didn't provide enough coverage for high-fidelity migrations.

A New Player: Google Apps

Originally, Gmail, Google Drive, and the other Google Apps targeted the consumer market. However, with the release of Google Apps for Work, Google evolved their offering into a full stack solution for the enterprise. Unlike older content management systems, Google Apps wasn't rooted in the on-premises days, and this allowed the team to create something more modern and better suited to today's mobile-friendly tech environment; for example, with the ability to co-author in real-time in a web interface or mobile app. As Google expanded their apps, AppBridge was founded on the goal of helping companies go Google. Using new technology to achieve greater scale than previous migration software, we now offer full stack, zero downtime migrations to Google Apps via the AppBridge Transformation Suite.

migration to Google Apps and Google Drive

It is clear that cloud computing has been accepted by large organizations of all types and verticals. Data networks have improved significantly and many people have fast network access at home and work. many barriers have been removed, and the benefits of the cloud--especially the economic and security improvements--have outweighed the outdated value proposition of buying and maintaining on-premises equipment. Without a doubt, there will be surprises down the line, but it's clear that the overarching migration to the cloud is only just starting to gain momentum.