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The Rise of the Cloud Put Messaging and Collaboration in the Dark | @CloudExpo #APM #Cloud

Interview with JF Piot, Vice President at GSX Solutions

The Rise of the Cloud Put Messaging and Collaboration in the Dark

Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions. Please tell us, what is the New GSX Solutions and Gizmo all about and what do you do?

JF Piot, Vice President Product Management at GSX: GSX Solutions specializes in the monitoring of Messaging & Collaboration environments. For many years now, GSX has helped its customers by providing state-of-the-art monitoring capabilities for IBM applications, Microsoft Exchange, SharePoint and Skype for Business along with the entire Office 365 suite.

What's new with GSX V12 is the ability to deploy and manage multiple GSX Robot Users centrally in order to test all these services from every critical location that our customers may have.

The rise of the cloud has put Messaging and Collaboration in the dark when it comes to measuring the service delivered to end-users. Since they don't have any view of what is happening at the server level, the only way for them to know what is going on is to be able to replicate the end-user experience everywhere it is important. This includes not only measuring the performance of basic tasks that end-users would do on Exchange, SharePoint, or Skype for Business, but also having an idea of what's going on from a network and configuration perspective in critical locations.

Even if Microsoft is managing the Office 365 servers in the datacenter, the company administrator is still responsible for services delivered to their end users. GSX V12 gives administrators back  the power to monitor the health of their environment.

What is new? What is your key focus of your new product?

Piot: Two things are new. The first is the GSX Robot User, which is a very small piece of software that you can install anywhere to constantly replicate the end-user actions and analyze results in terms of performance. You can set them up to send alerts and critical information when latency is experienced. The Robot Users can be centrally managed by our configuration interface and deployed remotely, while allowing you to configure the level or alerting that suits your company.

The second thing that's new is the GSX Gizmo User Interface, our new flagship product designed as a brand new way to view your performance across all environments (on-premise, hybrid, and cloud) in a totally flexible way. GSX Gizmo is built on state-of-the-art technology with an open architecture. That means that GSX Gizmo can be used as a central interface for any kind of statistic that matters to you when managing and monitoring your collaboration environments.

Who is your target audience and how do you intend to reach them?

Piot: Our target audience ranges from medium to very large organizations that are migrating to Office 365 or that already have. These organizations have a very complex environment, with multiple applications involved in the delivery of the messaging and collaboration services. For that, GSX V12 has unique capabilities to monitor everything that matters in these complex architecture.

For example, one of our customer has 30,000 seats deployed into the cloud. What are their requirements and concerns?

  • Monitoring the ability for users to be able to use Exchange online, SharePoint online and Skype for Business online

  • Monitoring the network between its critical locations and the Microsoft datacenter in order to be able to determine where latencies come from

  • Monitoring the hybrid identities such as Azure AD Connect and ADFS with extensive end-to-end scenarios and critical usage statistics

  • Monitoring the remaining Exchange (and sometime Domino application servers) that are still there to serve as relay for particular applications, or that are used with special setup of mailboxes that cannot be found in the cloud (like for marketing mailboxes)

  • Monitoring of the proxy servers that are used before any connection to the cloud

  • Monitoring of the Mobile Device Management solutions that are connecting the Active Sync Devices to the cloud and hence participate to the end user experience of Office 365

  • Monitoring their IronPort servers that are used as anti-spam and that have a big impact on latency at the company level

As you can see, any medium-to-large size organization has mix of on-premise servers and cloud services that all participate to deliver the services to their end-users.

There is no solution quite like GSX that can monitor everything and put it on a single, customizable web dashboard to meet every monitoring need.

I'd be curious to hear any general thoughts you have on market trends...

Piot:  What really shocks me is how quickly large companies are adopting Office 365 services. I thought that large companies would wait longer, but we're seeing huge bank and insurance companies starting to put all of their data in the cloud. The trend is most visible in North America, but EMEA and APAC will soon follow the exact same trend. Now that large companies are moving to Office 365, they need tools that enable them to keep control on the service delivered to their end users. They need tools to optimize their infrastructure for cloud services and that understand the way these services are used. And that is exactly what GSX is about: Providing large companies the tools they need to ensure a perfect understanding of the performance delivered to end user as well as everything they need to troubleshoot any issue at any locations even before users start to feel a degradation of the service provided.

Is GSX Solution a APM tool?

Piot: Are we an application performance monitoring tool? Well if you consider messaging and collaboration on premise or in the cloud or Mobile Device Management as applications then, yes, definitely.

The term APM is usually used to speak about Web applications that are developed in-house or bought in order to meet business needs. Most of the APM tools that you find on the market are generic and can be used for any web application. The problem is that they are not developed specifically for complex application like Exchange, SharePoint or Skype for Business. And because of that they cannot simulate user and provide any critical health and usage statistics that are need to measure the service delivered and to troubleshoot performance issues.

So, we are an APM tool but we are dedicated to Office 365 and everything that can impact the Office 365 services delivered to end users.

What makes the smart robot user new?

Piot: The smart GSX robot user is new because and it is a brand new way to centrally deploy, manage and display the health of the services monitored from everywhere. It is extremely lightweight, can be installed anywhere, and performs series of tests that provides a complete view of everything that impact the service delivered.

The Robot Users are centrally managed and provide smart alerts when they experience any issues. We always develop solutions that focus the alert on what really matters in order to avoid alerting "noise" that generally just makes the monitoring completely inefficient.

Our Robot User has been created to focus on service delivery and to provide the information that is needed to troubleshoot any detected latency.

Who are the competitors for the new product?

Piot: If you look at our focus, medium to very large company going to the cloud with complex infrastructure, you won't see any tool that can do what we do. You can find pure SaaS tools focused only on cloud services, but they cannot provide any monitoring for anything else that impacts the service. These tools cannot meet the needs of a complex infrastructure. They are still good for smaller companies. You can also find tools that have been designed only for on-premise servers, but that cannot test properly the cloud services from multiple locations. So, everything depends on your market segment. And on our market segment, I don't see anyone being able to compete with what we provide.

How do you differentiate from your competitors?

Piot: We differentiate with the all-inclusive approach we provide in terms of monitoring. Again, our competitors have their own strengths for their own market segments.

GSX is the only one that provides a consistent monitoring for every part of the hybrid environment that is the base of every large company moving to the cloud. Hybrid identities, hybrid email security, hybrid exchange services sometimes, proxy servers, gateways, load balancer, and anything that impact the service.

We are also the only tool that can test all of that from multiple locations in order to provide to the administrator a complete view of the services delivered everywhere in the world.

GSX has always been built for medium to very large companies. And that's where we deliver the most value.

How does your technology differentiate from the competition and can you elaborate on the different technology deployed?

Piot: The first technological differences can be found in our Robot User, which are unlike anything they may compete with. A GSX Robot User has all the capabilities to test multiple environments, cloud, hybrid, on premise environment and everything that can impact the services.

The second technological difference is the way we built our services test. They are not just simple scenarios. They are built directly with our large customers to integrate the collection of every critical statistics that matters for each part of the environment. GSX has a unique ability to customize its test to adapt and enhance them in very short development cycle.

Finally, our last technological strength is our new flexible User Interface called GSX Gizmo. This UI is the first step of an open architecture that will be able to integrate data from multiple sources. And even at the moment, GSX Gizmo provide a unique and simple way to organize the data coming from our Robot Users the way the administrator need it. By location, by service, by platform, by any system or custom tag that have been defined. One Gizmo is able to adapt and meet the needs of multiple teams.

What business or technology could yours disrupt?

Piot: We will disrupt the same technology Office 365 is disrupting at the moment. And it is the world of the end-user performance service monitoring for medium to very large enterprises.

At the moment, these companies are either stuck with very complex and heavy monitoring tools that don't meet their needs in term of cloud service and comprehensive monitoring of the hybrid environment impacting the end-user experiences. Other smaller tools that can do cloud services do not understand the complexity of a large enterprise going to the cloud. GSX is the only tool that is able to meet these requirements.

Also, our GSX Gizmo will disrupt anything that is on the market in terms of User Interface because it is think to be open and flexible to any kind of environment. At the moment, we are speaking about pure IT data, but if you're thinking a step further, you can imagine any kind of data feeding this new graphical interface that will enable customizable alerting, status display and reporting.

Who founded the company, when? What can you tell me about the story of the company's founding?

Piot: The company was founded in 1996 by a genius messaging administrator that understood before everybody that what's really matters was the end user experience. The whole philosophy of the product was that it was useless to think that a server was healthy just because its system statistics looked fine. The most important thing was the ability for a user to use the server, to use the application and finally to use the service.

What was true in 1996 is even more now with the rise of the cloud services. Even more than before, administrators need to have a view of the health of the service provided by their cloud offering.  But again, they have to understand everything that can impact these service in order to be able to troubleshoot when there is a performance issue at the user level.

So as you can see, the history of the company is pretty coherent and persistent over time!

What is your distribution model? Where to buy your product?

Piot: We sell our product direct and through partners. We have a very good ability to speak with administrators and project managers, to understand their projects and to work with them in order to make them successful.

On the other side, we also work constantly with large hosting companies that manage hundreds of large customers.

And finally, we work with smaller resellers and system integrators that use our tool to provide recurring services for their customers.

What's next on your product roadmap?

Piot: Well, it's a kind of secret, but I can tell you that we are working on finalizing our portfolio of monitoring capabilities on the Mobile Device Management market including monitoring capabilities for AirWatchn, Good and MobileIron.

Again, these applications have a strong impact on the end-user experience of the email services. And the administrator needs to know what's going these applications level in order to troubleshoot any end-user issues.

We will also improve dramatically our reporting capabilities in Q1 next year and I'm sure that you will need another interview to discuss about that major improvement...

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Xenia von Wedel is a Tech blogger and Enterprise Media Consultant in Mountain View, serving clients in a variety of industries worldwide. She is focused on thought leadership content creation and syndication, media outreach and strategy. She mainly writes about Enterprise, B2B solutions, social media and open source software, but throws the occasional oddball into the mix. Buy her a coffee if you like her article: http://xeniar.tip.me