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Virginia Backaitis News & Analysis

Hortonworks Spreads its Open Source Wings to Bring Governance to Hadoop

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We all know Hortonworks is committed to open source, insisting that it’s the way to innovate on Hadoop and deliver the best enterprise-grade technology to the marketplace. And though its main competitor, Cloudera (or at least a member of its management team) may have taunted that Hortonworks’ business model is “undependable,” Wall Street certainly didn’t agree -- its shares soared 65 percent above the opening price on Dec. 12, 2014, its first day of trading as a public company.

Big Data Skills Shortage? Not on MapR's (Pre-IPO) Watch

One of the biggest obstacles to the adoption of Hadoop in the enterprise is the shortage of professionals trained to work with it. According to job posting aggregator Indeed.com, there’s been as much as a 225,000 percent growth in demand for the big data crushing skill since 2009 — and no one is schooling engineers at that rate.

Learning Hadoop, until recently, has been something that passionate, self-directed computer engineers did alone, at leading edge technology-oriented schools like Stanford or as part of the Apache Hadoop community. Some chose a slightly easier way, by paying for training from individual distro vendors like Cloudera, Hortonworks and MapR or a few third-party providers.

While it’s not impossible to find “free,” self-paced training  online, most of it is delivered via a freemium model and doesn’t cover the material broadly or deeply enough to pass certification exams. That kind of training often costs hundreds or thousands.

Up until today, that is. This morning big data software and Hadoop distro provider MapR announced free Hadoop On-Demand Training for developers, analysts and administrators that meets certification requirements.

Microsoft's Play to Rule Analytics' 3rd Wave

One billion Excel users may not sleep tonight. It won’t be a problem that keeps them awake, but a new toy. And, get this -- it’s free.

Today Microsoft introduces a new Power BI -- a service that helps users bring data in, wring value out and visualize the results. It’s geared toward line of business users, not data geeks, and may be pivotal in helping enterprises usher in a “data culture.”

Some may see this new data culture as Microsoft’s birthright (sort of) given that 1 billion workers use Excel today and that analytics is a natural progression. But Microsoft certainly isn’t taking anything for granted. “We’re lowering the barriers to entry by removing the friction and greasing the gears,” said James Phillips, general manager, data experiences at Microsoft. 

Dropbox's CloudOn Buy Isn't its Only News

Oh, please, that’s what we thought late last night when Dropbox pinged us to say that the CloudOn acquisition wasn’t its only news for the day. Mathew Jaffe, who oversees Microsoft-related projects for Dropbox, announced that Dropbox apps are now available for Windows phones and tablets.

While this might not have been all that newsworthy earlier in the week, based on the market’s reaction to Microsoft’s announcements today, it may suddenly matter a lot. Why? Because there’s suddenly a real chance that Windows 10 might become omnipresent in our lives. 

Dropbox Just Got Stickier in the Enterprise

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How does it feel to wake up a few days before your company’s IPO to discover your rival just made a smart acquisition? We don’t know, and Box co-founder and CEO Aaron Levie can’t tell us: He's in a quiet period mandated by the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), which prohibits him from making such comments.

But here’s the deal. Early this morning Dropbox announced that it now owns CloudOn, a top 10 workplace productivity app in 120 countries. CloudOn makes it easy for people to edit, create, organize and share docs on any platform.

This should yield big wins for Dropbox (and its 300 million users) for several reasons. First because CloudOn brings with it an attractive mobile UI for content creation and collaboration as well as the team of engineers who built it. And second because the 100,000 companies who use Dropbox for Business will be able to do more of their work in Dropbox without ever having to leave the platform. The win for the enterprise? Productivity.

Retail's Omnichannel, Data-Driven Revolution is Here

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The retail revolution is here. It’s always on, omnichannel, social, mobile and highly personalized. It’s informed by data — big data, small data, fast data, machine data.

The times, they are a changing. If you’re a retailer or a brand, the question is "Will you?"

You’d better. Because the consumer already has.

That was the general sentiment at the National Retail Federation’s (NRF) BIG Show in New York City this week, where we heard speaker after speaker talk about data being the critical ingredient in creating customer experiences the likes of which we’ve never seen before.

No Data Butler? Alteryx's Newest Release Can Help

Let’s face it. Most line of business users don’t have a data scientist at their beck and call or even a geek from IT for that matter. So when a marketing manager or finance executive needs to make a decision in short order, he often has to do so based on a small fraction of the available information, go with his gut or miss the opportunity.

“It can take days, weeks or months before IT can provide it,” said Bob Laurent, director of product marketing at Alteryx, a data blending and data analytics platform.

That’s a problem because we live in an increasingly real time world.

That same world, mind you, is rich and overflowing with data — mobile, social, transactional, analytical, Internet of Things … we could go on. And it’s not just that, but today’s consumers don’t respond well to marketers (or anyone else) who misfires. They expect personalization and for the other party to be well informed.

Big Data Briefs: Focus on Databricks, Basho, Teradata, MemSQL

Big data isn't the “new oil” that will make us all smarter, richer, healthier. It’s just the oil without which you cannot run a business. What the market wants now is an easier way to get more from their data, faster, and the ability to translate insights into actions before someone else does.

And so it goes to follow that next generation companies like Databricks and MemSQL have raised the stakes when it comes to speed, efficiency and price, that NoSQL pioneer Basho is retrenching with new funding and new management and Teradata offers proof that the ROI for big data adoption bears fruit.

Big Data Bits: Spotlight on EMC, VMware, MongoDB, Hortonworks

Big data and the vendors that help us leverage it are “all that” in 2015. The evangelists have created believers. Enterprises are strategizing and implementing, their pilots are done. And entrepreneurs are crushing data and creating smart products, the kind we haven’t seen before.

With only one work week completed in 2015, here’s the hottest of the hot news.

Does Box's IPO Pricing Spell Trouble or Humility?

Understated is not a term anyone would use to describe Box co-founder and CEO Aaron Levie. The Silicon Valley whiz kid who does magic tricks on stage, speaks at every conference on the planet (we’re only slightly exaggerating) and is quoted on Twitter as if he were a seer of some sort had his company’s IPO priced today. The Enterprise File Sync and Share (EFSS) provider has officially begun its road show.

The company, which originally filed to raise as much as $250 million last March, today revealed that it expects to raise somewhere between $137.5 million to $162.5 million. It will offer as many as  12.5 million shares at $11 to $13 a share.

Could Cloud Apps Make the Enterprise Sick?

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Yes, we know, the word “cloud” has become a cliché — so much so, that CIOs are sick of hearing it. Not only that, but the CIO Journal suggests that everything has been cloud-washed to the extent that no one even knows what “cloud” means anymore.

But it’s not the word “cloud” that the information overlords ought to be worried about. God knows that John in Marketing, Sue in HR and Al in Accounting aren’t thinking “cloud” when they sign up for and log in to prosumer Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) solutions. All they want to do is to get their jobs done with the best and easiest to use solution. And there are plenty to choose from.

Office 365 & Sharepoint Online Just Became Irresistible

Forget Google Docs, Box and any productivity tool that anyone else has to offer. Microsoft is committing its brains and its brawn to one thing —being your “go to” for your digital life, at work and at home.

It plans to do this by providing a window to the digital world that feels “more personal and natural,” to use CEO Satya Nadella’s words, via innovations in touch, speech, vision, inking and much more. They will all come together with intelligent agent (can you say machine learning, analytics, PowerBI, Office Graph) and shell technologies.

New Year's Resolutions: An Annual Source of Anger, Disgust

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Do New Year's resolutions make us angry, annoyed and even disgusted? If you’ve stepped into an over-crowded gym this week, the easy answer is yes.

The regulars are disturbed that their “homes” have been invaded by the crowd that has pledged to finally lose weight. And the resolution makers are frustrated that they have to get off of the couch and go do something.

No Ticket Needed for the Office for Android Tablet Preview

There’s not going to be a device on the planet on which you can’t use Microsoft productivity tools. OK, maybe that’s pushing it a little too far. But that seems to be CEO Satya Nadella’s strategy and he’s executing on it one quick step after another.

Microsoft  just announced that the Office for Android tablet preview is generally available. Anyone can go to Google Play and download the Word, Excel and PowerPoint preview apps. There’s “No wait list. No requesting access. Just go and download the apps!” states the Office 365 blog.

2015: Time to Redefine Business Relationships?

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Would you do business with a liar?

On the face of it, this seems like a ridiculous question. After all, who is willing to be in a relationship with someone who is less than transparent or even downright deceitful? But the reality is that a good number of us are doing exactly that.

Who can’t name a vendor (or even a project team) that promises to deliver software or a solution with agreed upon features by a fixed date and fails to do so? Ditto for consulting firms who make commitments that they can’t or don’t keep. 

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