What B2B Enterprise Tech Marketers Can Learn from Sean Ellis’s “Hacking Growth”

How can B2B enterprise tech marketers benefit from Sean Ellis and Morgan Brown’s latest book, Hacking Growth: How Today’s Fastest-Growing Companies Drive Breakout Success, in order to transform their enterprise tech companies into larger-scale, rapidly expanding businesses?

Early on in the book, Ellis and Morgan specify that growth hacking is not just a tool for entrepreneurs, as “it can be implemented just as effectively at a large established company as at a small fledgling start-up…it is designed to work on the largest scale (company-wide) or the smallest scale (a single campaign or project).”

Before we dive into actionable insight(s), how does Sean Ellis define his self-coined “growth hacking” term, and what does it mean?

Growth Hacking: “the methodical, rapid-fire generation and testing of new ideas for product development and marketing, and the use of data on user behavior to find the winning ideas that drive growth.”

At its core, the growth hacking process consists of a recurring, four-pronged cycle:

b2b enterprise tech marketers

(Image source: growthhacker.com)

As enterprise tech marketers, how can we maximize the power of growth hacking?

Which user behavior data should we look for, and how will it benefit our marketing efforts?

The Practical Steps of Growth Hacking

LogMeIn’s Conversion Success Story

Initially, Ellis shares that from its offset, LogMeIn was an “ingenious product”, which is what warranted his (implemented) suggestion to “pivot” LogMeIn “from a paid to freemium model in an effort to differentiate the service from its fierce competitor, GoToMyPC.”

But after the freemium model was exposed to potential customers via thorough marketing efforts, such as costly ad spending, (not to mention repeated testing of the ad copy, keywords, and advertising platforms,) the low numbers in customer acquisition, or as Ellis describes it, “woefully low conversion rates”, did not generate a positive ROI.

In order to figure out what was going wrong, how could behavioral data explain why users weren’t converting to a freemium, highly useful product? What’s more, how could the marketers and engineers involved leverage user data to not only raise the conversion rate, but to scale up their user base, too?

Ellis shows us firsthand how each step of the growth hacking method positioned LogMeIn to prove the real potential of its offering;

  • Get feedback from users:

When the decision was eventually made to ask users via email why they initially signed up for the freemium service but then weren’t using the service, the collective response was simple: “people didn’t believe the service was really free.”

  • Implement the feedback:

After many marketing and design iterations, one strategy finally worked: adding a simple link to “buy the paid version”, resulting in the conversion rate tripling.

  • Delve (deeper) into user behavior data:

Next, as more users were successfully converting, an even bigger drop-off rate among users was revealing itself; yes, more and more users were downloading, but this only increased the number of users who were downloading the LogMeIn service and then not using it.

  • Implement the findings:

Now that they had the behavioral data in their palm of their hands, the experimenting began:

The marketing and engineering teams kept repeatedly changing the steps of the software’s installation process and sign-up steps, and testing the outcomes.

Finally, when the teams landed upon an installation process that proved to work best, the search ads that were once ineffective had now become cost-effective — scaling the software’s profitably at over 700%.

Not only were the company’s low conversion rates nursed back to health, its growth was scaled beyond expectation.

As Ellis concludes, “the solution had been found in just weeks, using a recipe that included healthy doses of out-of-the-box thinking, cross-company collaboration, and problem solving, real-time market testing and experimentation (conducted at little or no cost), and a commitment to being nimble and responsive in acting on the results.”

No User Left Behind

Once an enterprise tech marketer can gather enough user feedback that will identify why a marketing campaign isn’t performing well enough, he must do all he can to reap every possible fruit of this insight;

He implements the feedback and digs into the behavioral data as deeply and as quickly as possible. He’s made it his duty to notice everything about his users — and act on every finding.

As a growth hacking marketer, his motto has become: ‘No users left behind!’

Fine-tuning Growth Hacking for B2B Marketing

This past May, Observer Innovation’s Ryan Holiday interviewed Sean Ellis in “Dropbox’s Growth Guru Sean Ellis on What Everyone Misses About ‘Growth Hacking”. One of Holiday’s final questions to Ellis was:

“Growth hacking is pretty straightforward for B2C companies. How do you apply the framework to B2B businesses?”

Ellis answered:

Growth hacking is important for both B2B and B2C. In both cases, you have a customer journey that generally crosses multiple teams and a process of experimentation across that journey is important for driving customer and revenue growth.

One important difference is that B2B usually has a lower volume of prospective users in the funnel so you generally can’t run as many lower funnel experiments...

Often B2B experiments will be to drive distribution for content or a free version of a product, and then additional experiments are needed to drive prospects from these funnels into the premium product funnel or to figure out how to turn new customers into long-term users.”

Growth Hacking Long-Term Users

Keep Users. Happy. Repeat.

Ellis also brings the example of Evernote’s Smile Graph, which “shows that the longer people use Evernote, the more likely they are to continue using it.”

Image source: techcrunch.com

Way back in 2012, Nir Eyal described Evernote’s Smile Graph as ‘building behaviors instead of building apps.’

Evernote’s Smile Graph is built on the premise that “your service’s usefulness improves over time” — the longer you use Evernote as your note-keeping product, the more of your information is stored there, and the more inclined you are to re-download it to access your ideas and notes, as well as add to your existing collection.

The Power of Stored Value

Otherwise known as “the opportunity to capitalize on the power of stored value” in order to “increase retention over time”, whether B2B or B2C, companies cannot solely rely on the smile graph’s intrinsic growth pattern to guarantee that “customers will continue to be actively engaged.”

Growth Hacking User Feedback

So how can you get the user insights you need to growth hack your B2B Enterprise Technology offering?

Start by gathering user feedback in the form of case studies, user testimonials, and product reviews, and use it as your basis for digging deeper into your users’ experience.

Beneath the surface lies your users’ behavioral data — indicating patterns and guiding you towards identifying what your offering’s stored value is, and how you can leverage (aka growth hack) these experiences.

Growth hacking tools in hand, the ultimate duty of the B2B enterprise tech marketer is to be constantly giving his users a reason to keep coming back to what he’s offering — and to always be sticking around for more.

Read now: IT Central Station case studies, as told by our users.

17 B2B Tech Marketing Influencers to Follow in 2017

Our list of 17 B2B tech marketing influencers handpicks industry pioneers of 2017. These influencers specialize in areas such as revenue-building strategies, community-building, customer advocacy and engagement, content strategy initiatives, and product marketing.

  1. Lynn Vojvodich @lvojvodich ‏ 

b2b tech marketing influencersLynn Vojvodich is the Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer at Salesforce, where she has developed and led growth and innovation strategies for more than 20 years, primarily in the enterprise software industry.

In her current role as CMO, Lynn leads the global marketing organization and is responsible for driving market leadership, global awareness, demand generation, strategic events and communications for salesforce.com.

  1. Roland Smart @rsmartly

b2b tech marketing influencersRoland Smart is the VP of Social & Community Marketing at Oracle, where he oversees Oracle’s user communities and advocacy program and manages acquired marketing technologies (e.g. Compendium) for the Corporate Marketing group.

Examples of Roland’s work include “The Agile Marketer: Turning Customer Experience Into Your Competitive Advantage”, as well as publications on rolandsmart.com, Forbes.com, iMedia and other publications. Roland speaks at industry events such as the ad:tech, The Social Media Optimization Conference, Modern Marketing Experience, Oracle OpenWorld, and SXSW.

  1. Richard Millington @RichMillington

b2b tech marketing influencersRichard Millington is the Founder & Managing Director of FeverBee Limited. Founded in 2007, FeverBee is a team of “community veterans” consultants who have developed a training course, and published the most popular community-building book, “Buzzing Communities”, which is “widely cited as introducing best practices into developing successful online communities.”

Since 2004, Richard has “helped to develop over 150+ successful communities, including those for Google, The World Bank, Oracle, Amazon, Autodesk, Lego, The United Nations, Novartis, and many more.”

  1. Ardath Albee @ardathalbee

b2b tech marketing influencersArdath Albee is the CEO and B2B marketing strategist for her consulting firm, Marketing Interactions, Inc. Ardath’s modus-operandi is to help her clients “create persona-driven, digital content marketing strategy with compelling content platforms that contribute to downstream revenues.”

Examples of her work include “eMarketing Strategies for the Complex Sale”, and “Digital Relevance: Developing Marketing Content and Strategies that Drive Results.”  

  1. Carter Lusher @carterlusher

b2b tech marketing influencersCarter Lusher is an analyst relations (AR) professional at Informatica, where his main focus is driving top-line revenue growth. Carter is also a co-founder, Chief Research Officer, and Master Strategist at SageCircle.

Carter earned the “Analyst of the Year” honors twice during his seven-year tenure with the Gartner Group. At Gartner, Carter developed services for support strategies, where he “concentrated on all aspects of delivering customer service and technical support for both outside customers and internal end users.”

  1. Sam Whitmore @SamWhitmore

b2b tech marketing influencersSam Whitmore is the founder and editor of Sam Whitmore’s Media Survey, where he provides tech media analysis and consulting to tech PR pros and media buyers.

Recent examples of Sam’s work include Inc.com’s “Inc. Wants Contributors and Invests in Them”, The Next Web’s “Contributed Content Challenges at the Next Web”, “Contributed Content: Copy Tips”, Media Survey’s “Contributed Content Gatekeepers: The Directory”.

  1. Emily Miller @Emily_S_Miller

b2b tech marketing influencersEmily Miller is Senior Director of Brand & Audience Marketing at NetApp, where she directs integrated marketing campaigns and programs “built upon a centralized content model.”

Examples of Emily’s marketing campaigns and programs include Brand Strategy & Research, Integrated Marketing Programs, Account Based Marketing, Content Development & Distribution, and Creative.

  1. Lawrence Hecht @lawrencehecht

Lawrence Hechtb2b tech marketing influencers is an Analyst, Research Director and Infomediary at Lawrence Hecht Consulting, where he produces research reports about IT markets.

In 1999, Lawrence created the Internet Public Policy Network (IPPN), a network of subject-matter experts that provided customer research, white papers, and advice about technology-related public policy issues.

Lawrence’s most recent work includes “voice of the customer” surveys for the 451 Research and TheInfoPro, which address enterprise IT B2B markets such as Cloud Computing, Data Analytics and Information Security.

  1. Davin Wilfrid @dwilfrid

b2b tech marketing influencersDavid Wilfrid is the Senior Manager of Customer Advocacy at QuickBase, an app development platform whose value proposition is to “unify IT and business to quickly and easily build and maintain scalable productivity apps.”

At QuickBase, Davin drives “strategic initiatives through customer engagement, customer success, sales, marketing, and product development.”

Recent examples of Davin’s publications include “How to Develop The User-Generated Content (UGC) Your Brand Desperately Needs”, and “The Fajita Effect: Customer Advocacy and Social Proof for B2B Marketers.”

  1. Ann Lewnes @alewnes

b2b tech marketing influencersAnn Lewnes is the Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer at Adobe.

At Adobe, Ann is described as having led the marketing organization’s pioneering to digital, as she enabled them to deploy a “comprehensive set of digital marketing solutions, establishing an insight-driven culture, and setting a template for marketing’s strategic impact on business.”

Ann currently serves on the boards of Mattel and the Ad Council. In 2015, Ad Age named Ann to The Creativity 50, a list honoring the most creative people of the year.

  1. Bill Lee @bill_lee

b2b tech marketing influencersBill Lee is the Founder of Center for Customer Engagement, a “community of top-tier corporations” built around customer advocacy and engagement. The Center for Customer Engagement’s clients include Microsoft, Amazon Web Services, Salesforce.com, CA Technologies, and more.

Bill authored and published the book “The Hidden Wealth of Customers, which Forbes Online’s Dorie Clark described in 2012 as “one of the most insightful business books I’ve read this year.”

  1. Scott Brinker @chiefmartech

b2b tech marketing influencersScott Brinker is the Co-founder & Chief Technology Officer at ion interactive, an interactive content platform that “provides the scalable foundation to grow from one interactive experience to one thousand interactive experiences.”

At ion, Scott oversees product development and technical operations, where he also specializes in helping marketers “implement innovative post-click marketing.”

Scott also runs the Chief Marketing Technologist Blog, which “covers the intersection of marketing and technology” and boasts an audience of 40,000 readers, mostly mid-to-senior level marketers, and marketing technology experts.

Mark is also the program chair of the MarTech conference series, an international conference series for “senior-level, hybrid professionals who are both marketing- and tech-savvy: marketing technologists, creative technologists, growth hackers, data scientists, and digital strategists.”

  1. Wendy Perilli @wendyperilli

b2b tech marketing influencersWendy Perilli is VP Corporate and Digital Marketing at Druva Software, a cloud data protection and information management solution.

Previously, Wendy worked as the Senior Director of Global Campaigns and Americas Marketing at ServiceNow, where she onboarded and led a marketing team who delivered 134% of the pipeline number across nine campaigns worldwide.

Wendy has also served in various executive positions across corporate, channel, product and demand generation marketing at HPE Enterprise, OpTier, VMware, and Mercury.

  1. Jack Marshall @JackMarshall

b2b tech marketing influencersJack Marshall is a Marketing & Media Reporter at The Wall Street Journal. Jack was previously a staff writer for Digiday and a reporter for ClickZ.

Some of Jack’s latest Wall Street Journal stories include: “Ad Blockers Say They Won’t Be Replaced By Google Chrome Ad Filter”, “Google Will Help Publishers Prepare for a Chrome Adblocker Coming Next Year”, and “Facebook Tool Handles Media Companies’ Video Ad Sales.”

  1. Yuval Dvir @DvirYuval

b2b tech marketing influencersYuval Dvir is Head of EMEA Online Partnerships at Google Cloud. Yuval has been at Google since 2014, where he served as Head of Strategy, Change & Product Operations, Ads.

Since January 2016, in his role as Head of EMEA Online Partnerships, Yuval has been helping “organizations change and transform by adopting a lean, agile and modern way of working, powered by Google’s Cloud and App infrastructure.”

Yuval previously worked as Director of Business Transformation at Microsoft, and as Senior Manager of Product Strategy & Operations at Skype.

  1. Robert Rose @Robert_Rose

b2b tech marketing influencersRobert Rose is the Chief Content Adviser for the Content Marketing Institute.

Over the last five years alone, Robert has worked with more than 500 companies, including 15 of the Fortune 100. He’s provided marketing advice and counsel for global brands such as Capital One, Dell, Hewlett-Packard, Microsoft, Thomson Reuters, and others.

Robert’s most recent book, co-authored with Joe Pulizzi, “Experiences: The Seventh Era of Marketing” has been called a “treatise, and a call to arms for marketers to lead business innovation in the 21st century.”

  1. Mark Organ @markorgan

b2b tech marketing influencersMark Organ is the CEO at Influitive, where he helps “companies mobilize their advocates to produce massive increases in referral leads, reference calls, social media participation and more.”

Previously the founding CEO of Eloqua the “world leader in marketing automation software which was acquired by Oracle for $871M, Mark has helped over a dozen companies “successfully go to market in asymmetrical or disruptive ways.”

If you’re interested in B2B technology marketing, follow IT Central Station CEO @RussRothsteinIT and IT Central Station’s Twitter feed @ITCenSta for up-to-date news and user reviews.

Looking forward to connecting!

 

Did we leave anybody out?

Tweet us @ITCenSta to let us know if you think we missed somebody.

How to Leverage Social Media to Amplify Your B2B User Reviews

Why is it important to share user reviews on social media? What can existing and potential customers gain from reading peer reviews about your product on channels such as Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn?

Social Media and User Reviews: A B2B Marketing Power Couple

Forbes CMO Network contributor, Steve Olenski, hits the nail on the head with his answer for this very question: “It’s a fact. Your prospects are making up their minds about what to buy by reading social media content. Make use of this behavior. Integrate real reviews and ratings into your social media feeds to increase customer engagement and get more sales.”

Jeff Bullas adds another layer of brand value that social media can enable when used to distribute your user reviews:

“Sharing real-time experience of your buyers on your website, blogs, social media accounts, etc. will show how you deliver on your brand promise in the real world. Plus, your chance of drawing in more traffic to your site increases when customers write good reviews about your brand on social media platforms.”

Users would rather hear authentic feedback and read reviews written by real users, who have tried and tested the product themselves.

But how can you make sure that your user reviews are seen on social media, and that you’re tapping into your optimal target audience?

In this post, we share:

  1. Examples of vendors who have mastered the technique of sharing their products’ user reviews on social media channels.
  2. A Step-by-Step guide for how B2B tech marketers can expand the reach of their user reviews to a growing audience, all through social media.

Sharing your user reviews over Twitter

As of May 2017, Twitter’s social network boasts 313M active users on a monthly basis. A lucrative social engagement platform, Twitter allows us to generate more traffic to user reviews, so that as many tech professionals as possible can consume our valuable, peer-reviewed content.

user reviews

Viki Paige, a Senior Principal Product Marketing Manager at CA Technologies, tweeted this infographic that shows how CA Technologies Solutions rank as the #1 solution in various IT Central Station categories, such as APM, Network Management Applications, Network Troubleshooting, and others.

Viki’s tweet generated 91 Retweets and 18 Likes, engaging users in their peer-review content.

Sharing your user reviews over Facebook

With 1.13 billion daily active users, Facebook’s social network generates 36% of all social media-referred traffic to B2B websites.  

When Nagios shares review content that emphasizes their software’s ranking as the #1 network monitoring tool on IT Central Station, by means of a ‘thank-you post’ on their company Facebook page — they amplify their role as the industry leader for network monitoring.

nagios reviews

Sharing your user reviews over LinkedIn

When BMC Software’s Senior Technical Marketing Consultant for TrueSight ITOps, Patrick T Campbell, shared an insightful user review written by an IT Central Station user, it generated 13 likes, a significant amount of engagement for an enterprise technology company posting on LinkedIn.

bmc reviews

So how can B2B tech marketers leverage networks like Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn to generate traffic to their user reviews?


Step-by-Step Guide: How to Leverage Social Media to Amplify B2B Reviews

1. Share your User Reviews on Twitter

Example:

b2b reviews

  • Tweet valuable, engaging quotes from your user reviews.
  • When you can, add an engaging image to your tweet that’s relevant to the content. Users are much more likely to click when you’ve caught their eye.
  • Always add the relevant hashtags associated with the topic or industry of your product:

Hashtags that are relevant to your target audience will introduce you to online audiences that may never have met you before.

  • Check the rankings for every hashtag you want to use. These scores can be found on sites such as hashtagify.me or semrush.com:

b2b reviews

  • If your user review’s author has a Twitter account, mention their handle in the tweet!
2. Post user reviews on Facebook

Example:

it infrastructure monitoring reviews

 

  • When linking to your review content on Facebook, think of a catchy phrase that will encourage users to click.

Facebook users are more inclined to click on posts that ask questions they want answers for. Some ideas:

Some ideas:

  • “What do users really think?” about your solution?
  • “Who was ranked as a top solution?
  • “This user chose Solution X over Solution Y. Find out why in their review.”

Once you’ve identified the geographical location(s) of your target audience, schedule your posts according to their time zones.

If you can catch commuters on their morning train ride while they’re browsing their news feed, you’re much more likely to find engaged readers.

3. Distribute Review Content on LinkedIn

Example:

b2b reviews

  • Use industry-related terminology in your LinkedIn posts, that show users that your content discusses topics and questions they want to read about.
  • Search for (and join) LinkedIn groups where your target audience is most likely to be found. If you’re publishing user reviews that will interest storage professionals, for example, join active LinkedIn groups that are built for these users, such as:

b2b reviews

Interested in learning more about how IT Central Station can help you collect quality user reviews?Contact us here

 

New: Test Data Management Solutions – User Reviews: Q1 2017

What are real users in the enterprise tech community saying about test data management solutions in 2017?

This week’s blog post looks at test data management reviews on IT Central Station from Q1 2017.

Users discuss which features they’ve found most valuable, and where they hope to see room for improvement in the following tools:

CA Test Data Manager

Wesley-Miller, an AVP Quality Assurance at GM Financial, writes:

Valuable Features

Test Data Manager allows you to do synthetic data generation. It gives you a high level of confidence in your data that you’re creating.

It also keeps you out of the SOX arena, because there’s no production data within that environment. The more that you can put in controls and keep your data clean, the better off you are.

There are some laws coming into effect in the next year or so that are going to really scrutinize production data being in the lower environments.”

Room for Improvement

“I think one thing we would like to see is how quickly it can be used like a SaaS product”, writes Braja Pradhan, Client Partner at a financial services firm with 1,000-5,000 employees.

Pradhan elaborates that “You can just plug in incoming data that we have from different sources; how quickly that can be integrated and how the test data can be generated. That quickness I think is something that can be improved.

If plugins can be developed very quickly, that will help companies like us, because we have hundreds of data sources.”

Informatica Test Data Management

Valuable Features

Anirudh Nitta, Senior ETL Developer at a financial services firm with 1,000 – 5,000 lists “Data Masking and creating subsets of data” as Informatica Test Data Management’s valuable features.

Nitta describes that “One of our banking clients didn’t want to give live business data to developers, as it had sensitive information. We had to mask the data using Informatica TDM and leverage its built-in algorithm of seed values.

We also had to create a subset of data that had to be given to different teams. For example, the sales team only needed sales information and didn’t require customer information such as Social Security Number. The team working on credit information needed the Social Security Number. So we created subsets of data for each team from the master data.”

Room for Improvement

Gaurav Veerman, Technology Lead at a tech services company with 1,000-5,000 employees, points out two areas with room for improvement:

  • Help file: more detailed steps must be added with illustrative screen images.
  • Administrator support documentation.

Veerman shares that “We did encounter stability issues. The service component on the Informatica PowerCenter server had unexpected outages, multiple times, at irregular intervals.

Although the PowerCenter host server was up and running, the product was not accessible/usable since the TDM service was down.”

IBM InfoSphere Optim

Valuable Features

SeniorTe925c, a Senior Test Analyst at a retailer with 1,000-5,000 employees, lists two of IBM InfoSphere Optim’s valuable features:

  • Data masking
  • Test data environment setup and management

He continues to explain that the solution “Makes it really easy to obfuscate big tables involving lots of columns and to manage 100’s of tables without putting in much effort.”

Room for Improvement

This Senior Test Analyst explains further that “The InfoSphere Optim products work their best when incorporated into a larger Test Data Management initiative rather than performing data masking alone. The process takes a longer time to run.”

Read more 2017 test data management reviews on IT Central Station.

Top 6 Web Content Management Solutions — Q1 2017

IT Central Station’s crowdsourced user review platform helps technology decision makers around the world to better connect with peers and other independent experts who provide advice without vendor bias.

Our users rank their solutions according to their valuable features, and discuss where they see room for improvement.

Users have provided web content management reviews from Q1 2017 to help you with your buying decisions.

web content management reviews

#1 SharePoint

SharePoint is ranked as the number one solution in web content management by our users during Q1 2017.

“The list feature makes it easy to integrate database information into the same place as documents”, writes an IT Manager at a university with 1,000-5,000 employees.

He explains that the list feature “allows exposing of that data to create reports and views within the site for real-time reporting as well as point-in-time views. This is extremely useful.”

Further, this IT Manager elaborates that:

“We created a hang management system with a simple list including views and reports, instead of purchasing a bloated application. We created inventory tracking in the same way.

Instead of switching, this has kept all the information in one place and within one application. It allows easy data exports into other applications.”

“Almost all of the areas of the product have room for improvement; some more than others” writes Aseem Pandit, Practice Manager and Solutions Architect at a tech vendor with 1,000-5,000 employees.

He specifies that “At a high level, mobile, custom development/testing frameworks, BCS, external services integration, and BI may need to catch up more as compared to the other feature sets.”

#2 Liferay Digital Experience Platform

Liferay Digital Experience Platform is ranked by our users as the number two solution in the category during Q1 2017.

Liferay is a product that has been released with beautiful thinking behind it”, writes Ravi Kumar Gupta, a Technical Architect at a tech services company with 51-200 employees.

Gupta then describes that “With Liferay, setting up an enterprise portal is very quick and easy. Its faster development methodology helps us to customize Liferay to our needs.

For our organization, we have designed modules which help us with employee information, training, meeting room booking, performance evaluation, exit process, on-boarding, recruitment, and 360 feedback.”

“I would like to see better documentation”, writes Marco Re, AEM Solution Developer at a tech services company with 11-50 employees.

Re explains that “Updates in the documentation do not follow updates in the code and functionality” and then adds that there are also “some scalability issues. Finding a good infrastructure setup is not an easy task. Some scalability issues can arise when changing database engines since Liferay supports different databases.”

#3 Drupal

Drupal is ranked as the number three solution in web content management by our users during Q1 2017.

The best things about Drupal are its extensibility and pluggability. You can get something going quite fast that’s feasible for clients to see”, shares Maarten Aerts, Senior Drupal Developer at a non-profit with 51-200 employees.

Aerts elaborates that “It has a very good authentication/authorization system. For a few years, the application had a dedicated security team who took care of reported security issues with the Drupal core and even contributed modules.

The vast user base is a big bonus. You have plenty people collaborating on many modules/plugins, so if you have issues, someone will step in quite fast to help you.”

A Web Developer at Themelize.me writes that “The admin interface has been lacking in usability. They have made improvements in the new versions.

In the previous versions of Drupal, the admin UI was confusing to non-technical users. This has improved, but it probably isn’t as user-friendly as WordPress, for example.”

#4 WordPress.com VIP

WordPress.com VIP is ranked by our users as the number four solution in the category during Q1 2017.

Daniel Morris, CTO at eScribers, LLC lists several valuable features for WordPress.com VIP:

  • Constant bug fixes
  • Security patches
  • Flexibility to add plug-ins
  • Building plug-ins is easier than other CRMs such as Joomla
  • Can jump in quickly
  • Easy to use

Morris then writes that in terms of room for improvement, there is “Not really anything, but the plug-in interface into the system is not object-oriented. It’s diffuse, and you feel like you’re dropping bits into many places. They’re called plug-ins, but you don’t feel like you’re plugging in your code, but just reaching in with a hundred tentacles.”

#5 Joomla

Joomla is ranked as the number five solution in web content management by our users during Q1 2017.

“This CMS is very easy to use and can be enhanced with various modifications (most of them are free)”, writes Valentin Hobel, a Senior Consultant of IT Infrastructure at a tech consulting company with 51-200 employees.

Hobel explains that “I didn’t use it for the companies I worked for, but installed it for many people I know.

This CMS lets you create an own website within minutes, no matter if the user has knowledge in coding.”

In terms of improvements, Hobel shares that “Joomla itself seems to be secure, but many add-ons are badly written and allow LFI, RFI, SQL injection and XSS attacks. You have to be very careful when it comes to choosing the right add-ons.”

#6 WordPress

WordPress is ranked by our users as the number six solution in the category during Q1 2017.

Aimee White, Website and e-commerce at a retailer with 1,000-5,000 employees, describes WordPress as “not just for blogs anymore.”

Easy to install and a really nice CMS”, White adds that “The ability to amend the PHP to add extra functionality of to tweak things is also a great bonus. The use of PHP also helps if you need to buy help in from a coder – PHP is common so there is a massive pool of devs.

It also doesn’t need a massive server to run. That’s great for smaller businesses who don’t want the hassle of large cloud contracts.”

In terms of improvements, White shares that “everyone and their dog tries to hack it.
If you use WordPress without security plugins then things won’t go well for you. Thankfully, as above, there are lots to pick from: TOR blockers, IP blockers, whitelists, blacklists…all free.”

Read more web content management reviews from Q1 2017 on IT Central Station.

How I Use IT Central Station to Provide Virtualization and Public Cloud Insight to My Customers

This user story is based on an interview with IT Central Station member, Roger Nurse, who benefitted from our real user feedback and product reviews in both the virtualization and public cloud categories.

Roger Nurse is a VMware SRM NSX SDDC Consulting Engineer – Trainer at Plan IT Virtual, LLC, a firm specializing in delivering VMware Consulting and Training services to mid-level and large Fortune 1000 companies.

“Our solutions of expertise”, explains Roger, are with ‘VMware SRM‘ and ‘VMware NSX‘.

“Which Pain Points Were You Looking to Solve by Reading User Reviews?”

Roger shares an instance where he used IT Central Station to address a specific pain point:

“Implementing VMware NSX to better recover VM workloads in VMware SRM with little or no manual IP changes.”

“Which Questions Were you Looking to Answer by Reading Virtualization Software Reviews?”

Roger sought review content that answered questions such as:

“How does the solution better secure a customer’s VM workloads?”

“How did you convince customers to adopt the solution based on existing network security configuration?”  

“How does licensing cost compare vs competitor product for same VM workload count?”

“What Value Have You Found In Using IT Central Station?”

“IT Central has been a value in helping us better understand how other engineers are using these solutions and how they are deploying/configuring them to meet customer business requirements.”  

“IT Central also helps us assist our customers in making better purchasing decisions when it comes to Virtualization (VMware, Microsoft)/Public Cloud software (AWS, Azure, Openstack).”

About Roger:

Roger has been a member of IT Central Station since 2014, where he has published:

Product Reviews and Questions

VMware NSX, Version 6.2 (April 2017)

VMware ThinApp, Version 7 (February 2016)

VMware SRM, Version 5.8 (October 2015)

“Cisco UCS or HP hardware for VMware SRM?” — December 2, 2016

Projects

SRM DR Testing for Fortune 100 Customer

Assisted Top Firm in Virtualizing Siebel Web App

Roger is ranked the #1 expert in three different product leaderboards:

Product Leaderboards

VMware SRM

VMware NSX

VMware ThinApp

Roger is featured in three different category leaderboards:

Category Leaderboards:

#2 in Network Virtualization

#4 in Application Virtualization

#5 in Disaster Recovery Software

 

Read our full collection of network virtualization reviews, written by real users at IT Central Station.

Virtual User Session Solutions – New User Reviews: Q1 2017

What do users discuss in their virtual user session reviews in Q1 2017?

What have their experiences been so far this year?

In the excerpts below, users discuss valuable features and room for improvement among the following virtual user session solutions:

Continue reading to read the latest expert feedback from real users.

TeamViewer

Valuable Features

An Engineering Aide at a government agency with 1,000-5,000 shares that “I only use TeamViewer for troubleshooting methods when the students or staff members are unable to come to the IT desk.”

He then specifies several of TeamViewer’s valuable features:

  • The most important aspect of the software is remote access
  • Helps alleviate confusion with directions over the phone
  • Security: The user can input their credentials, personal information such as usernames, passwords, and secure payment methods without the risk of the IT personnel using it maliciously.

Room for Improvement

This Engineer Aide adds that “Unfortunately, the software is hit or miss when it comes to iOS devices, especially Macs.

It seems that the new updates may have included better iOS supported drivers. However, when we used the software, it only worked a handful of times.”

LogMeIn Pro

Valuable Features

A Director of Information Technology at a manufacturing company with 1,000 – 5,000 employees explains:

“It’s one means for the IT team to address issues that our staff might have. That’s our primary thing; getting to them. Some of them are on the road all the time, so it’s an easy way for us to get to them, and figure out what’s going on.”

Room for Improvement

Having a nice chat window would be ideal”, writes a VP of Enterprise IT at a financial services firm with 1,000-5,000.

He explains that “When using LogMeIn, you need a separate chat window. Also, you cannot talk when the other party is able to see your laptop or vice versa. When you’re really trying to communicate, you’re better off actually typing, “Hey, don’t do that.” “Go here.” Something like that.”

Microsoft Remote Desktop Services

Valuable Features

“The ability to actually interface with a Windows desktop is valuable”, writes an Enterprise Sales Engineer at a tech company with 51-200 employees.

He then elaborates that Microsoft Remote Desktop Services “makes things easier. The app that they provide you works off Mac and Windows.

Even if I have my instance upon Azure or any other cloud platform, I can just use the normal Desktop Services app to give it an IP, the login credentials, and just log in. It is done very easily.”

Room for Improvement

Prakuti Argawal, a Programmer Analyst at a tech services company with 501-1,000 employees discusses the solution’s speed capabilities:

“The speed should be a little more. When you’re pitching from Mac to Windows, it takes a little more time than what is required. It can improve its speed. That’s it. Everything else looks fine. I just started using it a year back, so that is what I can point out right now.”

Bomgar Remote Support

Valuable Features

Dilip Kulkarni, a Senior Professional at a tech company with 1,000-5,000 employees, lists “Non-persistent agent” as Bomgar Remote Support’s most valuable feature.

Kulkarni explains:

“This is the most valuable feature as there is no permanent client agent on the end user’s machine. Support representatives provide the user with a URL and a session key. The user enters the session, during which a small file is installed and then removed completely at the end of the session. It is secure because the company’s network needs to open only port 443.”

Room for Improvement

“I wouldn’t mind seeing this product have the functionality of pushing small software bundles”, writes Dallas Baldwin, Desktop Support Specialist at an educational company or school with 51-200 employees.

XenApp

Valuable Features

Nicholas Stapley, a Technical Architect Consultant, lists several valuable features in XenApp:

  • Remote access
  • BYOD
  • High performance
  • Feature-rich, full desktop experience

Stapley elaborates that XenApp has not only “enabled remote working from anyplace, anytime, and anywhere”, but has also “simplified, secured, and centralized the challenges of O/S deployment across the enterprise.”

Room for Improvement

Citrix needs to ameliorate their administrative panel and provide a tool to add more control in the user Citrix environment”, writes a System & Network Engineer at a tech company with 1,000-5,000 employees.

ConnectWise Control

Valuable Features

Daniel Mullikin names “The ability to access our servers behind the firewall with granular security” as one of ConnectWise Control’s valuable features.

Mullikin then elaborates on his experience with the product: A new project required a third party consultant to access a pair of our systems and the consultant didn’t have a remote control solution (most have their own). We took a crack at ScreenConnect and we really liked what we saw and how it worked properly.

“A new project required a third party consultant to access a pair of our systems and the consultant didn’t have a remote control solution (most have their own). We took a crack at ScreenConnect and we really liked what we saw and how it worked properly.”

Room for Improvement

Chris Briggs notes: “The only issues I’ve dealt with are display issues when the end user has a dual monitor setup. I haven’t had to address it at all. It was easier to ask the end user to disconnect the second monitor than to call up customer support. I’m sure they’d have a fix I just never got that far.”

Read more virtual user session reviews from Q1 2017 at IT Central Station.

New: Modular SAN Solutions — User Reviews: Q1 2017

What are real users in the enterprise tech community saying about modular SAN solutions in 2017?

This week’s blog post looks at the newest modular SAN reviews from Q1 2017 on IT Central Station.

Users share their feedback on the features they’ve found most valuable, and where they hope to see room for improvement in these solutions:

HPE 3PAR Flash Storage

Valuable Features

“To me, the deduplication features and compression are really helpful”, writes a Category Manager at a government agency with 501-1,000 employees. “The all-flash integration is valuable. It’s high-density storage, so the total cost of ownership of the solution is good for a company.”

Room for Improvement

Pedar Ivar Iversen, Owner at Serit IT Partner, suggests “an easier solution for provisioning new servers.”

Iversen describes that “Currently we need to go in, set up a server, give the server names and functions, declare the number of gigabytes the server has for storage, and so on.”

Nutanix

Valuable Features

A Senior System Engineer at Amanox Solutions describes:

“Over the years Nutanix has added lots of enterprise functionality like deduplication, compression, erasure coding, snapshots, (a)-sync replication and so on.”

This engineer also writes how “Nutanix delivers full visibility down to a single virtual disk (e.g. a VMDK file) and every single hardware component. Predefined health checks are executed during a support case which will in most cases already narrow down the root cause considerably if not point it out directly.”

Room for Improvement

Scott Brousseau, CTO at PBG Networks, explains that “It has the ability to connect to Azure or AWS for storing backups.”

Brosseau shares that he “would like to have the capability to spin up a backup on Azure or AWS for disaster recovery purposes.”

EMC VNX

Valuable Features
“The most valuable feature is the auto-tiering, which helps in the speed of data access”, shares Larry Manno, Senior SAN Engineer at a government agency with 501-1,000 employees.

Manno adds that “We have a big VMware storage pool in each of our three arrays and we have never had users complain about the response of any VM in our environment.”

Room for Improvement

Brad Eley, Network Analyst at a healthcare company with 1,000-5,000 employees, explains that “The management software used for the VNX is Unicenter. While it is an improvement over Navicenter, used in older EMC SANs, it still feels outdated in comparison to other SAN management software.

Eley elaborates that “Reporting is clunky and requires data collection to files, which then have to be retrieved and uploaded to a third-party site for processing before finally downloading the report.”

NetApp FAS Series

Valuable Features

“The most valuable features are the snapshots, the flash pool that we’re using, and cluster mode”, writes Luc Bussieres, Senior System Administrator at a marketing services firm with 1,000-5,000 employees.

Bussieres describes that “When we are doing an upgrade, there is less of an impact on the customer when you use cluster mode. It still has some with CIFS, but at least it has less impact.”

Room for Improvement

A Systems Engineer at a media company with 1,000-5,000 “One of the issues that we have had with NetApp in upgrading over the years is that migrating data from one system to another is one-way only.”

He elaborates that “If you have a new storage system that is going to replace an old storage system, where you’re transitioning slowly from one to another, you can copy the data in one direction, but that same tool, which is typically used as a disaster recovery tool, can’t be used to reset it back the other direction, as well. That level of backward compatibility would be very nice to have.”

IBM XIV

Valuable Features

Tom O’Toole, Sr. Systems Programmer at Sharp, shares that “For us, the XIV is pretty much set-it-and-forget-it storage. We use it behind the SAN volume controller. Having presented that storage to the SAN, we find that the latency is very predictable, the capacity is excellent and the reliability is fabulous.”

Room for Improvement

O’Toole also suggests that IBM XIV could be cheaper, “but considering they give you a rack of 325 TB usable, if you buy a fully loaded system, it’s really not that expensive.”

Read more of the latest modular SAN reviews from Q1 2017 on IT Central Station.

Top 7 Privileged Identity Management Solutions – Q1 2017

IT Central Station’s crowdsourced user review platform helps technology decision makers around the world to better connect with peers and other independent experts who provide advice without vendor bias.

You can read user reviews for the top seven privileged identity management solutions here, to help you decide which solution is best for you.

In the review excerpts below, our users have ranked their solutions according to their valuable features, and have also discussed where they see room for improvement.

#1 CyberArk Privileged Account Security

CyberArk Privileged Account Security is ranked as the number one solution in privileged identity management by our users during Q1 2017.

But what do users really think about CyberArk Privileged Account Security?

Malhar Vora, Project Manager at a tech vendor with 1,000-5,000 employees, shares that “All features of the CyberArk PAS solution are valuable.”

More specifically, Vora writes that “The Digital Vault is one of the key components of the solution along with many other great benefits. The highly secured vault stores the privileged account passwords and data files using encryption.

In version v9.7, CyberArk has introduced the Cluster Vault feature, which enhances the high availability of the Vault server.”

“The performance of this product needs to be improved”, writes an IT Administrator at a tech company with 1,000-5,000 employees.

He explains that “When the number of privileged accounts increases, i.e., exceeds 2000, then the performance of the system reduces. The login slows down drastically and also the connection to the target system slows down. This is my observation and thus, the server sizing needs to be increased.”

#2 Quest One Identity Manager

IT Central Station users rank Quest One Identity Manager as the number two identity access management solution of Q1 2017.

Sachin Loothra, Senior Identity and Access Management Specialist at a tech vendor with 1,000-5,000 employees, lists several of Quest One Identity Manager’s valuable features:

  • The GUI is very impressive and clean (even cleaner and minimalistic in v7).
  • JobQueueInfo does an amazing job tracking all processes.
  • Synchronizations are easy to set up.
  • Reporting capabilities are fantastic once you get the hang of using Report Editor.
  • WebDesigner allows a lot of customizations to be added to the web project.
  • Schema and table names are very logical. It is very easy to find something in the database just because of the fact that the naming convention in the schema is very logical and consistent.
  • It’s a feature-rich product: a suite of very powerful tools with a lot of functionalities once you get the knack of them.

A Presales Solution Architect at a tech company with 51-200 employees writes that “There is a need to improve the use case documentation and coding templates. This product has some limitations when it comes to using use case documentation.

Generally, when we have any different scenario, we need to post in the blog and only then we will get answers.”

#3 CA Privileged Access Manager

CA Privileged Access Manager is ranked as the number three solution in privileged identity management by our users during Q1 2017.

“We need a solution that is very reliable for our users”, writes a Senior Security Analyst at a retailer with 1,000 – 5,000 employees. “We need something that has the ability to handle requests for network ports and various configurations. Security is one of the highest priorities and part of that is tracking/auditing. Xceedium/CA PAM support has been excellent and that is one of the main reasons we have stuck with this solution. We have had the same core team supporting us over the years and they work with us through any issues.”

Jose Albino, Director, Managed Services – Analytics & Data Solutions at a tech services company with 51-200 employees, suggests:

“They need to improve how it scales. We end up adding new “appliances” to scale for large or complex environments.”

#4 BeyondTrust PowerBroker

IT Central Station users rank BeyondTrust PowerBroker as the number four identity access management solution of Q1 2017.

Gaurav Demiwal, Sr Platform Engineer at a construction company with 1,000-5,000 employees, shares that BeyondTrust PowerBroker “elevates the user to perform admin tasks without the user being a part of an administrator group.”

Demiwal then elaborates that “Previously, all users were in the administrator group of their machines. Since PowerBroker elevates the user, we can remove the users from the administrator group. Thus, the machines become less vulnerable to attacks.”

In terms of improvements, Demiwall suggests to “Improve the ActiveX rule for websites”, and notes that “the software uses a lot of memory.”

#5 BalaBit Shell Control Box

BalaBit Shell Control Box is ranked as the number five solution in privileged identity management by our users during Q1 2017.

Ivan Kutov, IT Security Engineer at a tech services company, points out two of BalaBit Shell Control Box’s valuable features:

  • Flexible Modes:

“Easily integrated into the customer infrastructure. It’s easy to find needed information and the indexer does a good job.

  • Secure Replays:

Balabit SCB supports multiple security officers (something like senior and junior officer), who can encrypt upstream, and downstream flows, with different SSL certificates. For example, one officer can see replays, and another officer can only see replays by pressing on a key.”

Peter Jankovsky, CTO & Solution Architect at a tech services company with 51-200 employees, addresses two areas for improvement:

  • VMware PCoIP protocol support:

“Many customers are switching from normal computers/environment to VDI infrastructure and some of them are switching to VMware Horizon that uses PCoIP protocol, which is not supported right now.”

  • Central management for more SCB boxes:

“If you have many boxes in a customer infrastructure (right now we have one customer of this kind in POC and they will need eight boxes) with the same configuration/purpose, you have to do everything 8x. I know this feature is on the roadmap, but nobody knows when it will be available.”

#6 Thycotic Secret Server

IT Central Station users rank Thycotic Secret Server as the number six identity access management solution of Q1 2017.

“I manage our Secret Server environment, and over the years we have heavily utilized this product across our entire University to harden our security posture and meet compliance requirements”, shares Michael Muto, a Systems Administrator at a university with 1,000-5,000 employees.

Muto explains that “Secret Server has helped us eliminate many of the manual processes that we performed regarding password changing and rotation, as well as the data we stored in Microsoft Excel.  

We love the fact that the product discovers privileged accounts across our infrastructure so that we can securely store and manage them appropriately, as well as rotate their passwords to meet our password policy requirements.”

This Security Operations at a tech company with 1,000-5,000 employees writes that in terms of future improvements, “Referring to Secret Server v10, we want the ability to add subfolders to the “\Personal Folders” container.  We had to rename it to “\Personal Secrets” to avoid confusion.

Otherwise, you can create as many top-level folders and subfolders as you like. A minor annoyance for an otherwise awesome product.”

#7 Lieberman Software Enterprise Random Password Manager

Lieberman Software Enterprise Random Password Manager is ranked as the number seven solution in privileged identity management by our users during Q1 2017.

A Cyber Security Engineer at a Recruiting/HR Firm with 51-200 employees points to the solution’s “Randomizing local accounts on all endpoints” as a valuable feature.

He elaborates that “ERPM’s greatest ability is that it can easily randomize ALL local accounts on almost any endpoint.

One of biggest security risks that occur within a company is the ability of an attacker to compromise one system and then use similar local accounts to slide horizontally through an environment.”

This Senior Solutions Engineer at a tech services company with 501-1,000 employees discusses session recording as an area for improvement:

“It records simple, flat Windows Media Viewer format files, and is suitable for very basic recording needs. It is not a very scalable or robust offering and offers no session management capabilities.”

Read more user reviews for the top privileged identity management solutions of Q1 2017 here.