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VMblog Q&A Follow Up to Zenoss GalaxZ21 Digital Conference


VMblog:  Can you start off by providing a recap of the recent GalaxZ21 event?  You all put your own spin on the virtual event, which is very different from what others are doing and was quite refreshing.

Zenoss: The event was a huge success, no doubt the IT monitoring / AIOps event of the year. We had an audience of Zenoss customers, partners and other IT experts uncovering new strategies and sharing industry best practices for optimizing hybrid IT infrastructures in the most advanced environments from around the world. We know how people value their time, so we try to ensure that it's not only great content, but that it's also entertaining, which is something very few conferences have. I think anyone who has attended one of our virtual events can attest that it's an experience like no other. For this conference we had a 1970s theme, and the attendees loved it-even the many people who weren't around in the 70s.

VMblog:  Each year during GalaxZ, Zenoss offers up some really great announcements.  Can you give us the highlights of what you announced this year?

Zenoss: We made a number of big product announcements in the areas of AI, security, intelligent dashboards, and cloud cost management. I'll highlight a couple of them.

One of the big announcements was around joint development work we've done with Google Cloud leveraging artificial intelligence for anomaly detection. Anomaly detection isn't new, but existing approaches were flawed. We worked together with the Google Cloud team and demonstrated how we jointly reimagined anomaly detection and applied new guiding principles to our product enhancements, which has resulted in dramatically more precise and actionable insights for customers struggling to manage ridiculously complex IT environments.

Another announcement was around our new partnership with CyberArk. With security being such a universal focus right now, attendees were extremely interested in hearing about CyberArk's certified integration with Zenoss Cloud and the benefits customers can achieve by leveraging it. We announced our (already available) solution for identity security, the accelerating trends driving identity as the new security battleground, and the target of identity and privilege at the heart of the attack chain life cycle.

VMblog:  With the global pandemic, physical trade show events were cancelled throughout 2020 and continuing in 2021.  What's it been like switching from a physical event to a virtual one for GalaxZ?

Zenoss:  Back when these events were in-person, we worked really hard to make them valuable and memorable. It's how you get people to travel and spend time away from their demanding jobs. Now that most events have been virtual for a year, it's easier for people to attend, but it's far more difficult to keep them engaged. In addition to the reality that people are probably multitasking, we also know that many of them are by now dealing with virtual event fatigue. So, you can't make the conference just another glorified webinar. We've found innovative ways to ensure not only that people attend, but that they're paying attention and getting value out of it. The bottom line is, you have to get them to want to be there and want to not be distracted by other things. That is a nontrivial endeavor, but I think we've exceeded expectations on this.

VMblog:  You offered a number of breakout sessions during the event.  What were some of the hot topics and key takeaways from those discussions?

Zenoss: There were too many great sessions to give a summary that does it justice (you can still go here to see all of the sessions on-demand), but I would say attendees were really looking for insight around the key topics of artificial intelligence, hybrid  IT monitoring/management, and security. They were also there to hear industry-specific sessions with speakers from companies in financial services, healthcare, power & energy, and many more. 

On the topic of artificial intelligence, we had a keynote presentation from Amir Husain, who is the CEO of SparkCognition and the author of The Sentient Machine. We also had John Sipple, who is a Software Engineer in AI at Google Cloud and the creator of the MADI algorithm, the basis for a distributed deep-learning solution that provides explanations to aid understanding, prioritizing and fixing faults. These were two sessions from powerful speakers that created a lot of buzz among the technical folks and business folks alike.

VMblog:  What kind of feedback have you been getting from your virtual attendees and partners? 

Zenoss: Customers loved it. Immediately after it was over they were sharing with co-workers who couldn't attend, and we were inundated with inquiries on how to get the recorded sessions (which you can find here). Our partners loved it as well. At the end of the conference our platinum sponsors were asking how they can guarantee their spot at the next conference. You really can't get much better validation than that.

VMblog:  Are there any new trends in the industry that people should be aware of?

Zenoss: I would say the key trends include:

  • Hybrid IT - Although cloud spending surpassed on-prem spending in 2020 for the first time, it's still quite rare to find organizations with infrastructures that are solely in the cloud. In fact, the preponderance of infrastructure is still on-prem. Most organizations are learning the right balance, finding the right model for different workloads and use cases. They're also adapting to cloud mobility - the ability to move to the cloud, between clouds, and from the cloud (to on-prem). The paradigm of the future will be understanding what makes sense at this moment and how to adjust in real time.
  • AI/ML - I talked about this in a previous question, but the bottom line is this - modern infrastructures have simply become too complex to be managed by human beings. The dynamic nature, the complexity, and the sheer amount of data have created a scenario where the "thinking" required is beyond the capacity/bandwidth of humans. So, it's partly out of necessity, but it's also due to maturing AI/ML capabilities that great advances are being made to tame modern environments. These tools are becoming more viable as they are becoming more necessary, and I don't think we've scratched the surface on what is possible.
  • Automation - This is a continuation of the AI/ML assertion. As scale and complexity continue to shoot off the charts, automation is no longer a nice to have. It's mandatory for organizations who want to thrive and remain relevant. Organizations are maturing their automation capabilities, finding ways for software to complete any task that doesn't require human beings. This enables the finite, valuable human resources to dedicate themselves to critical thinking - making decisions and completing tasks that cannot be done by computers. I assert that within five years all successful organizations will have adopted this approach. The others will simply not be able to keep up.
VMblog:  You also do an awards show each year.  Can you talk about some of this year's award winners? 

Zenoss: The Z Awards are designed to recognize and celebrate top customer IT organizations and partners displaying exceptional innovation, leadership and collaboration. The nomination categories showcase the achievements of organizations across a broad range of industries that have demonstrated incredible talent, excellent leadership skills, and a vision for new ways to derive value from Zenoss. These teams have realized exceptional business results and return on investment through the adoption of an innovative and effective IT monitoring strategy. Here are the categories and very deserving winners:

  • Vision and Innovation - Health Care: UPMC
  • Vision and Innovation - Technology: 2degrees
  • Vision and Innovation - Financial: Huntington Bank
  • Vision and Innovation - Education: Boston University
  • Channel Partner of the Year: DRYiCE by HCL Technologies
  • Technology Partner of the Year: Google Cloud
  • Service Partner of the Year: NTT DATA
  • Implementation of the Year: Cegeka
  • Zenoss Cloud Implementation of the Year: Enbridge
  • Rookie Customer of the Year: MetLife
  • Team of the Year: Geisinger
  • MSP of the Year: Cognizant
  • Innovator of the Year: ADCom Solutions
VMblog:  Finally, I have to ask.  Are you planning to bring GalaxZ22 back to a physical world in Austin next year? 

Zenoss: We can't wait to have the next in-person conference. There just isn't a substitute for face-to-face interactions. However, we're prepared for anything, and we'll see what the situation is for the next conference. It's actually quite feasible that we do a sort of hybrid where each year we have an in-person conference as well as a virtual conference. This allows us to improve on the once-per-year cadence and also allows our customers to choose how they want to participate. We could potentially even have another conference this year. We're continuously evaluating how to make it the best experience for customers.


Learn more about Zenoss in the new Gartner Market Guide for AIOps Platforms.

Published Wednesday, May 05, 2021 7:31 AM by David Marshall
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