2011 has been the year of the Cloud database. The idea of shared database resources and the abstraction of underlying hardware seems to be catching on. Just like Web and application servers, paying-as-you-go and eliminating unused database resources, licenses, hardware, and all of the associated cost is proving to have attractive enough business models that the major vendors are betting on it in significant ways.
The recent excitement has not been limited to just the fanfare around "big data" technologies. Lately, most of the major announcements have come around the traditional relational, table-driven SQL environments Web applications make use of much more widely than the key-value pair data storage mechanisms "NoSQL" technology uses for Web-scale data-intensive applications such as Facebook, NetFlix, etc.
Here are some of the new Cloud database offerings for 2011:
Saleforce.com has launched Database.com, enabling developers in other Cloud server environments such as Amazon's EC2 and the Google App Engine to utilize its database resources, not just users of Salesforce's CRM and Force.com platforms. You can also build applications in PHP or on the Android platform and utilize Database.com resources. The idea is to reach a broader set of developers and application types than just CRM-centric applications.
At Oracle Open World a couple of weeks ago, Oracle announced the Oracle Database Cloud Service, a hosted database offering running Oracle's 11gR2 database platform available in a monthly subscription model, accessible either via JDBC or its own REST API.
Earlier this month, Google announced Google Cloud SQL, a database service that will be available as part of its App Engine offering based on MySQL, complete with a Web-based administration panel.
Amazon, to complement its other Cloud services and highly used EC2 infrastructure, has made the Amazon Relational Database Service (RDS) available to enable SQL capabilities from Cloud applications, giving you a choice of underlying database technology to use such as MySQL or Oracle. It is currently in beta.
Microsoft also has its SQL Azure Cloud Database offering available in the Cloud, generally positioned as suited for applications that use the Microsoft stack for developers that will want to leverage some of the benefits of the Cloud.
Some of the above offerings have only been announced so far, and not actually launched. Or, they have limited preview access available now. Also, even the business models in some of these cases have not even been completely divulged, or if so are very likely to change.
Clearly there is a considerable marketshare land grab existing now. All of the major vendors are recognizing that traditional-SQL Cloud storage infrastructure will be an important technology going forward. Adding a solid database layer to the Cloud architecture story seems like an important step in the continuing enterprise and commercial software move to the Cloud, and these new vendor offerings should in turn accelerate this move.
So, is this really the wave of the future? Some of the major questions that will have to be answered include those around latency. When data requests have to hop from a client application, then to the application server, to the database, and then back to the server and client, even multiple times within a single request, it can result in quite a performance hit. Likely, these machines exist far from each other geographically and might really slow things done, annoying an end-user with the slow page loads. This is probably why most infrastructure providers realize that they have to have the corresponding database capabilities available and accessed natively to reduce this latency. However, performance, along with security issues (perceived or otherwise) still could be a significant barrier to mainstream adoption.
Also, most of the relational database environments that exist in the Cloud only have a subset of SQL capabilities available and in some cases can be quite limited. For example, many of these Cloud SQL platforms don't support cross-table joins, at least not yet. This is a very common requirement for SQL applications. The lack of support is primarily because joins can consume a lot of resources, another performance-killer in shared environments.
Once most of this storage and Cloud database infrastructure gets in place however, incorporating more content-oriented data services such as customer data verification will become commonplace and easy to leverage. We may even see them incorporated into the database offerings themselves as they look to differentiate themselves from vendor to vendor. Cloud-based database offerings have the advantage of making much larger libraries of data-oriented add-on capabilities available right out of the box, so the story here is much more than just cost.
While SQL Cloud offering announcements are all the rage in 2011, 2012 will undoubtedly tell the adoption tale. No doubt these offerings will be ideal and cost-effective for many use cases out there. But will demand be large enough quickly enough to support all of these vendors and drive the innovation at a speed that will make these platforms viable in the near future for enterprise and commercial applications? The answer is likely yes, but the next twelve months or so will give us a lot of the supporting data to measure the extent of the trend.
According to a 2010 study by Return Path, achieving strong inbox placement remains a challenge in the B2B sector with a delivered rate of just 75%.
Delivered/Delivery rate is a common statistic used among marketers and email service providers (ESP). However, the term can be quite deceiving, since it doesn’t tell you what was really delivered to the inbox. Delivery rate refers to the amount of emails sent minus bounces/undeliverables. Delivery rate does not take into account the fact that your email could have likely ended up in a “spam” or “junk” folder.
If users can access the folder, they are still unlikely to see and read your company’s email. Over half of email subscribers are comfortable letting their ISP decide what spam is for them rather than reviewing all of their email and deciding for themselves. (Source: MarketingSherpa. “Email Marketing Benchmark Guide.” 2008.)
In addition to your email being ignored, spam folders make it challenging for marketers to properly determine if their emails reach the inbox or not. This further undermines other statistics like open rate. Open rate is the amount of tracked opened emails divided by the delivery rate. Again, this statistic has a false assumption that all non-bounced emails are being delivered to the inbox. Therefore, open rates skew our perceptions. They make it hard to gauge the effectiveness of email campaigns.
You simply cannot send an email and hope that it reaches the intended person’s inbox. If you are complacent with the prospect of campaigns landing in spam folders then you’re jeopardizing your company’s email reputation.
Email reputation influences your inbox placement rate (IPR), or the likelihood that emails actually reach the inbox.
If your email is lumped into spam then you’re risking email reputation. How do you avoid this? Make sure your mailing list is clean and up-to-date. It is important to remove inactive email addresses from your mailing list. Do not send emails to inactive addresses that hurt deliverability. ISPs note abandoned email addresses that are never logged into. When companies start emailing these inactive addresses then ISPs mark them as spammers.
It is best to be proactive in increasing your email deliverability. Real-time Email Verification Software helps you instantly determine if an email address is valid and deliverable before sending a message. It will notify you of the dangerous inactive email addresses that risk your email reputation. By minimizing the chance of being flagged as a spammer and blacklisted, you will improve inbox placement rate. Email campaigns will be more successful since you’re increasing the odds a message reaches the inbox. Statistics like open rate will be more accurate as well. The end-result is the ability to properly determine ROI on your email marketing campaigns. Cloud-based email verification saves organizations time and resources spent on trying to maintain mailing lists.
At the CTIA Enterprise and Applications event last week in San Diego, the trade group announced that the total number of text messages sent in the United States increased 16% to 1.138 trillion during the past year.
One of the reasons for this is the continued explosive growth in smartphones. In the past year, the number of active smartphones in the US grew from 61.2 million to 95.5 million, representing 67% year-over-year growth. In fact, the CTIA also reported that there are more wireless subscriptions in the United States than there are people. There are 327.6 million US mobile connections and only 315.5 million people in the country, a 103.9% penetration rate.
Given these statistics, it's no coincidence that the number of SMS messages being sent continues to climb. Text messaging is still the #1 data application on devices and is still the best way to reach someone. People carry their cell phones far more often than other computing devices such as tablets and PCs, allowing an individual to be reached immediately, practically everywhere. Also, enforced regulations and a per-message cost have prevented mobile devices from being inundated with spam like we see with other communications mediums such as email and instant messaging.
The continued growth of rich applications available on smartphones and their continued penetration will only make them even more pervasive in our lives as time goes on. One can envision a day where Smartphones are used for on-the-spot payments, credit cards, as our hotel key, and maybe even to unlock and drive our cars. We are just at the dawn of the smartphone age. New standards like LTE are also giving these devices an ever-increasing amount of digital bandwidth, pouring more fuel on an already raging fire.
The other key factor for continued SMS growth and its communication supremacy is that there exists a global standard for messaging. This enables phones worldwide, regardless of carrier and in hundreds of countries, to be able to receive and send text messages to each other, and even more importantly receive them from software and Internet applications. This makes SMS text messaging not only ideal, but practically a required feature for opt-in marketing automation, reminders, alerts, shipping notifications, data-driven triggers, and other system-delivered notifications.
On the application side, platform-independent, Cloud-based SMS APIs and Web services are available for easy integration into applications, Web sites, business processes, and other places where tapping into the worldwide network of cell phones is useful, not only with customers and prospective customers, but also within employee networks, work groups, and other organizations where immediate or scheduled notification has significant value. These APIs dramatically reduce the complexity and cost required to SMS-enable just about any application critical to an organization.
For a long time to come, SMS will continue to rule as a premier business communication vehicle.
Unfortunatly Email Verification (also know as Email Validation, Email Scubbing, Email Cleaning, etc.) is one of those terms that means different things to different people. Subscribe to Google Alerts for Email Verification and Email Validation to see this in action.
We thought it would be useful to create a quick post to explain what we mean by Email Verification and most importantly, why our solution adds value to our customers.
StrikeIron's Email Verification solution verifies that an email address actually exists without sending a message. We verify the address in real-time, meaning we do not use databases or other lists that quickly become stale. Our solution helps our customers ensure the highest deliverability since they will not be sending emails that bounce (the recipient's address doesn't exist). Sending too many emails that bounce will get you (or your Email Service Provider) servers flagged as a spammer and your messages will end up in the junk folders, no matter how legitimate they are.
Here are a few different meanings I have come across...
- Sending a confirmation link to an email address after registration. The recipient must click the link to do an action, typically confirming a registration. This works well for certain use cases, for example, to confirm the recipient is not a robot we send confirmation links with our free trials. The problem with using confirmation links to verify the email address exists is by the time you receive the bounce, it is too late, you have already sent to a bad address which will get you flagged as a spammer.
- Using Regular Expressions (regex). Regular Expressions are a great first check to make sure the email address format is valid (e.g. has an "@" and at least one ".") but do nothing to determine that the actual address is valid.
- Using a database lookup. Many other email verification providers use a database to determine if an address is valid. There are estimated to be 2.9 billion email addresses worldwide (2010) and 30% of email addresses change on a yearly basis thus it is hard to see how a database could be kept up to date. Feedback from customers that have used a database solution for verifying addresses is that there are a lot of false positives AND false negatives.
So what is right for you depends on what you are trying to accomplish. If you are collecting (or have collected) email addresses that you would like to use for marketing, surveys, or any other customer contact, it is imperative to verify each email at time you get it (e.g. off a webform) and regularly scrub your email lists to ensure that all of you stay off the spammer lists.
Let us know if you have heard a different meaning of email verification...we would like to get the complete list to help our customers best understand how to solve their needs...
eBay held its X.commerce launch event this week, describing its new platform as an "operating system for commerce" where e-commerce blends with traditional brick and mortar retail. The idea is that "e"-commerce has now been replaced by "x"-commerce. What used to be two separate worlds, Web and physical store retail, are now driving each other and the line between the two is definitely being blurred.
For example, Smartphones such as the iPhone and Android are enabling people to shop in a retail store, price check online simply by scanning a barcode, and either travel to another local store for a better price or alternatively order on the spot from an online retailer.
Discounts on Twitter and Groupon deals are now driving foot traffic to physical retail locations. Traditional retail is investing more and more in online presence such as Facebook pages. PayPal, now processing $4.7B annually in payments (3x what they were doing five years ago), is expanding from email-based payments to mobile payments and even supporting payments in the physical world, with much here still to come.
eBay is investing heavily in this concept of physical and Web commerce blending. If you look at their acquisitions, you can see that they have been laying the groundwork for this for quite some time. They purchased Magento, an open-source Web application development environment fine-tuned for e-commerce sites, over the Summer. They acquired GSI Commerce in a major investment for $2.4B a few months back as well, a company that helps build online shopping sites for brick-and-mortar retailers. In the past year they have also acquired RedLaser (smartphone-driven barcode price comparison), Milo (a database of traditional retail locations' products and their prices), and Where.com (location-based advertising).
Piece by piece, they are pulling together components of an entire commerce supply chain, or a "full commerce stack" so to speak, and are delivering it in a one-stop retail shop now known as X.commerce. The idea is to develop one's site using the Magento platform, use PayPal as the payment mechanism, and then automate the entire process of delivering inventory to all of the various marketplaces eBay drives. This includes its own commerce sites, the RedLaser database, Where.com, Milo, and within what other acquisitions or partnerships that will come in the future.
For StrikeIron, e-commerce and point-of-sale have always been some of our more prevalent use cases. Our customers integrate and use Cloud-based solutions from us such as real-time sales tax calculation services, customer data quality solutions for better data at the point of capture, shipping address verification, email address validation, phone number validation, foreign currency rates for price localization, and even mobile messaging for shipment notifications and ongoing opt-in marketing campaigns.
Integration to these Web services in the Cloud help our customers optimize their commerce transactions with very little complexity. So it was very refreshing to hear eBay CEO John Donahoe mention that data, in many different forms, was the most important asset a retailer had and needed to apply to remain competitive in the new world of X.commerce. The idea of reducing the Wild West of commerce components into a standard, full-stack platform will significantly make things easier for our customers, as will a focus on high quality and complete data as part of the process.
...who are collecting, selling, or buying email leads.
We are excited to kick off an encore of our wildly popular 'Evaluate StrikeIron's real-time Email Verification for a free iPad 2 promotion' this time at ad:tech New York.
Here is how it works:
1) Sign up at offers.strikeiron.com/ipad2
2) A StrikeIron representative will contact you to arrange a free Email Verification evaluation. 10,000 email addresses is the norm to ensure that we have a reasonable sample size. The evaluation will use StrikeIron's new Trident Email Verification algorithms which provide even higher accuracy than prior versions.
3) We will run the list through our Email Verification service before the show.
4) Setup a time to review the results at ad:tech New York (November 8-10) and walk away with your shiny new iPad2.
No purchase is necessary but we have found that once we have the opportunity, you will see how easy, accurate, and cost effective it is to verify your email leads in real time.
See you at ad:tech Booth #2153!
StrikeIron, the cloud leader in data quality and data communications, announced today the roll-out of Trident, the next generation email verification technology and the most accurate solution in the market.
Read the full press release here.
At Larry Ellison's keynote yesterday at the Oracle OpenWorld event, he announced the Oracle Public Cloud and Oracle's move into Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IAAS) offerings, primarily geared towards Java developers and users of Oracle's Fusion Applications. The brand "Fusion Applications" represents a set of over 100 different modules (financials, HR, etc.) which have been designed to run both on-premise and now in the Cloud and is launching after six years of development.
Clearly the Sun acquisition gave Oracle a lot of the Cloud technology to get to this point, but Salesforce's $2 billion in revenue, increasing penetration into enterprises, and launch of Database.com at the Dreamforce event might be pushing Oracle more quickly into this direction.
However, Ellison was quick to point out that Oracle's Cloud approach was an open one and would enable deployments to be moved to other Cloud environments such as Amazon.com (at least in theory) because of its Java roots, rather than a proprietary one like Salesforce.com's where applications are built with a proprietary language (Apex). Cost, however, was not discussed.
In addition to IAAS and Fusion Applications, Oracle will also have other hosted applications available in its Public Cloud such as its database platform, the SUN OS's, Fusion Middleware, and its Enterprise Manager offering.
This move is more evidence that the industry is moving full steam ahead to Cloud-based deployments, where enterprises can consolidate legacy spending, have fewer servers and other hardware, fewer on-premise software deployments, and a greater reliance on SAAS applications and other service-oriented offerings such as data-as-a-service (DAAS).
One of the things you can see from the picture below is that the Cloud really lays the foundation for "data service" components (notice the distinction versus "database service"), enabling enterprises to quickly leverage third-party datasets and data-oriented business functions such as customer contact data validation. This would be more difficult to achieve in on-premise solutions because third-party data has to be acquired, stored, maintained, and managed - a costly and time-consuming process. With the Cloud, you can simply plug into these services and have all of the third party data managed for you.
So the Public Cloud has been announced, but when will it be launched? StrikeIron is eagerly waiting.
StrikeIron's partner ActivePrime will be leading a data quality discussion during a session at Oracle OpenWorld in San Francisco on Thursday, October 6th, at 1:30 pm PDT at the Intercontinental Hotel San Francisco, Grand Ballroom A.
One of the primary themes of the session are the differences in data quality for SAAS CRM solutions versus on-premise solutions, and how real-time data quality can be leveraged at the point of data collection. It will also focus on how to manage data quality in hybrid SAAS and on-premise environments. ActivePrime's Clint Bidlack and Rosaline Gulati will lead the presentation.
In collaboration with StrikeIron, ActivePrime's CleanVerify offering utilizes StrikeIron's Contact Record Validation Suite to provide a seamless real-time data quality solution within Oracle CRM On Demand. The SAAS solution leverages StrikeIron's Cloud-based data delivery capabilities to validate, correct, and enhance physical address data, email address data, and telephone data directly within the Oracle system.
Because all of the reference data is stored out on the Cloud, there is no need to ever perform reference data updates. Oracle CRM On Demand users can always rest assured that their data validation processes are always using the latest, most current data available as the basis for the ongoing validation checks.
Also in this session, ActivePrime will discuss case studies where they have delivered a much better data foundation to customers utilizing Oracle CRM On Demand in hybrid environments so they can maximize ROI and get the most out of their CRM and marketing processes. Customers Insperity (formerly Administaff) and Komori will be presenting about their experiences at the session. I will be in attendance and answering questions at the session as well.
Oracle announced the Oracle CRM On Demand Release 19 Innovation Pack at the Oracle OpenWorld event today in San Francisco.
The release includes an enterprise marketing component enabling marketing professionals to build and manage campaigns, Web sites, and other customer-facing documents. It also includes lead management capabilities as well as role management and segment targeting.
In addition to the marketing features added to Oracle CRM on Demand, there is also a hosted contact center capability introduced in this release.
Presumably, much of these marketing features are the bearing of fruit from the Market2Lead acquisition last year. Oracle's expansion into a marketing automation platform demonstrates continued investments into SAAS and CRM On Demand, enabling it to compete more against entrenched SAAS stalwarts such as Salesforce.com
With marketing automation being added to Oracle's CRM on Demand platform, high quality and comprehensive data at the foundation becomes an even greater imperative. Fortunately, StrikeIron's integration of its Contact Data Verification Suite into the Oracle CRM On Demand platform will play an even greater role in the success of Oracle's SAAS initiatives going forward with this new announcement.
In addition, StrikeIron's mobile messaging solutions can play a significant role with the new campaign capabilities introduced today, as it does with many customers currently using it on other marketing automation platforms as part of critical mobile campaigns.
DataFlux will be holding its annual users conference this week in Hollywood, Florida near Miami. The annual "IDEAS" event brings together many of the top data experts in the industry. Key topics of discussion will include data quality, data stewardship, data governance, MDM, and the data supply chain. StrikeIron's Chris Atkinson will be at the event.
An interesting case study given by CEO Tony Fisher at the event keynote will discuss how Woolworth's failure
to embrace technology as one of the reasons for its decline, and the importance of taking advantage of data and related data management technology as a foundation to success. He is also discussing the explosion of data, including non-structured data (from sources such as Twitter), as well as the data supply chain.DataFlux
is a key partner to StrikeIron
providing some of the software technology that helps StrikeIron deliver solutions such as the Contact Record Verification Suite
, a real-time customer data quality solution that validates addresses, phone numbers, and email addresses at the point of data collection. This occurs via real-time validation checks via the Cloud and is very easy to integrate into any Website, application, or business process.
kicked off this week in San Francisco. CEO Larry Ellison gave the keynote last night where he introduced and highlighted the Exalytics Intelligence Machine, a new in-memory appliance that utilizes data compression and also storing data in DRAM (Dynamic Random Access Memory) to substantially increase business data analytics performance. It analyzes data "several times faster" according to Larry, enabling the scanning of 200 GB/sec of data, enabling "questions to be answered before they are even asked."
This and other announcements highlight what should be a great conference and show. It will be interesting to see if Oracle provides increased clarity around some of the following questions this week, such as:
What are Oracle's long-term Java plans? Will it continue to remain open post-acquisition of Sun, or can we expect to see a flurry of Java-licensing lawsuits such as the current one with Google they may cause some to doubt its interpretation of "openness"?
Will Oracle continue to move into larger-scale systems, including more hardware offerings, to compete with IBM and SAP? Oracle currently has sold over one thousand of its Exadata machines to date, so it is currently heading in this direction.
Will Oracle continue to push the "Public Cloud", or will it steer customers and the industry more towards its "Private Cloud" solutions that are "more secure" but also require individual software purchases rather than time-shared subscriptions?
Now that Fusion Applications have been made available on Cloud, on-premise, and mobile platforms, where is is the collection of offerings and integration with other Oracle platforms headed from here?
Will it continue to add more features and capabilities to its On Demand applications, such as CRM On Demand? Its acquisition of Market2Lead last year demonstrates its advance into On Demand marketing automation platforms.StrikeIron
, as an Oracle Gold Partner, is expressly interested in the future direction of Oracle and where the company is headed. Currently, our collaboration with another Oracle partner
, ActivePrime, enables us to deliver an integrated customer data quality solution to the Oracle CRM On Demand platform. Also, offerings such as our customer data quality solutions
and mobile messaging solutions
are available for integration into Oracle's broad stack of applications, products, and platforms. All of the great database innovation in the world won't help if it's not running on top of high quality, complete, and accurate data.