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Virginia Backaitis News & Analysis

Microsoft Shops Again: Buys LiveLoop, an Office Collaboration Start-Up

Installing software to collaborate on PowerPoint slides is a drag. Signing into web-hosting services like GoToMeeting, for the same reason, isn’t much better.

Microsoft knows this, so it set out to solve the problem — but not by assigning a team of engineers and UX experts to come up with a remedy. Instead it decided to buy a startup that had already found an answer.

Late yesterday a Microsoft spokesperson confirmed the company had acquired Office productivity tool maker LiveLoop. Here’s what the statement said:

“Microsoft is excited to welcome the talented team from LiveLoop to help build great collaboration across Office applications, as part of our strategy and vision to reinvent productivity.”

LiveLoop will be permanently shuttered on April 24, the site acknowledges.

The terms of the sale have not been disclosed.

Maybe Hadoop Providers Can Protect Your Data After All

There’s one thing no one in the Hadoop community will argue about — namely, that the big data crunching technology’s enterprise features are growing quickly.

In fact, that may be one of the best things about the highly competitive market. Every vendor is continuously raising its game to win customers.

And in the Hadoop world, security is a hot issue. “Hadoop isn’t inherently secure,” said David Chaiken, CTO of Hadoop-as-a-Service (HaaS) provider Altiscale.

But that doesn’t mean that the Hadoop-based products or services that Enterprises pay for aren’t secure. On the contrary, that’s one of the reasons that the commercial vendors are in business. It’s what they add on to naked Apache Hadoop that creates differentiation.

Lexmark Steps Up Its Play to Organize Your Office With Kofax Buy

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Lexmark wants to get deeper into the lucrative enterprise content management (ECM) space so, last night, it announced a merger with Kofax.

Under the terms of the merger agreement, Lexmark will acquire all of the outstanding shares of Kofax for $11 a share in cash for a total enterprise value of approximately $1 billion, net of cash acquired.

Once the deal is complete, Lexmark’s enterprise content and process management business will be worth approximately $700 million and a formidable force in the growing $10 billion content and process management software market.

Kofax, which provides content, analytics, mobile and process management systems, also automates things like mailrooms and invoices. It serves the financial, healthcare, government and insurance industries.

Apple Buys FoundationDB, Shuts Down Access to Code

We think it’s a done deal.

All signals suggest that Apple has bought flexible, fast database maker FoundationDB. TechCrunch first reported the news.

The company’s community site states:

“Thank you for your support of FoundationDB over the last five years. We’re grateful to have shared our vision of building the best database software and we strongly value your participation in this community. We have made the decision to evolve our company mission and, as of today, we will no longer offer downloads. If you have any technical questions, please email info@foundationdb.com.”

But pulling the code is exactly what very proprietary Apple would insist on. Regardless of how the FoundationDB community might react.

Money and More: It Pays To Be a B*DAS* Developer [Infographic]

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With big data and analytics being all the rage, hiring a Big Data, Analytics Software (thus the term B*DAS*) developer is no easy task. “Developers are the kingmakers,” explained Matt Asay, vice president of mobile at Adobe. At the time he said that, he was working at MongoDB.

And the job rate for this kind of worker is growing faster than the amount of qualified talent.

This is a problem for employers because 3rd platform developers write the software that can catapult them to new heights or let them float into oblivion. And we’re not talking only startups, but also big companies like Nordstrom, Cigna, FICO and even the Federal Government. They need these kinds of workers, too.

As a result, businesses are pulling out all the stops to attract developers. But before they can do that, they need to discover who these developers are and how they prefer to work. Otherwise, there’s no point in putting a perks package together.

Can a Plug and Play Data Lake Save the EMC Federation?

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Big data is new oil, the new gold, the new kale (wait … kale?). Honest to God, we’ve heard the latter one said.

Regardless of what analogy you use for the mass quantities of information your company stores or accesses, chances are good that it isn’t gleaning much insight from it yet.

And that’s not because CEO’s fail to see the value. In fact, a January survey conducted by the Economist Intelligence Unit reveals that 48 percent of executives believe big data is a useful tool. And another 23 percent predict big data will revolutionize the way businesses are managed.

If this is the case, then why isn’t big data more broadly deployed?

Some claim companies don’t know how or where to get started — or think the time to value is too long.

The EMC Federation (EMC 2 + VMware + Pivotal + RSA + VCE) hopes to change that perception. Later this morning, it will unveil its EMC Federation Business Data Lake solution. Its promise is to enable organizations to realize the value of big data analytics in as little as one week as opposed to months.

Come Closer: Here's How You Can Win the #MarchMadness Pool

Loser.

If you turned in your March Madness brackets earlier this week, chances are that that’s how you feel.

Fear not, you’re not alone. ESPN says 99 percent of the brackets submitted to their website were damaged by yesterday’s results.

Who would have thought the University of Alabama Blazers would beat the third seeded Iowa State Cyclones? Many expected Iowa State to be in the final four.

Or what were chances of UCLA knocking off SMU? Ditto for the Georgia State — Baylor result.

A blindfolded monkey throwing darts at the brackets might have better success than I did. 😝😩😡 Just sayin... #Marchmadness

— Julie Goolsby (@crazymrsg) March 20, 2015

You might take some comfort in knowing that the number crunchers at Google and Microsoft probably didn’t fare any better.  Check out Bing’s picks and where it got it wrongDitto for Google.

Filling out ur brackets u think ur genius. End of 1st day u realize ur an imbecile #MarchMadness

— Billy Black Chip (@BillyBlackChip) March 20, 2015

Make Room for Gartner's BI and Analytics Platforms MQ Leaders

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Twenty four is a crowd -- yet that’s how many vendors made it into Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for Business Intelligence (BI) and Analytics circa 2015.

For enterprises that are shopping for BI and Analytics solutions, choice may seem like a good thing until you consider what evaluating that many vendors might look like -- most of us wouldn’t even consider trying on 24 pairs of jeans.

Cloudera Doesn't Spark Hadoop Wars, Really?

Don’t tell Oracle’s head honcho Larry Ellison that some of his former employees have taken a page from his book, but darn if geeks at Cloudera aren’t saying inflammatory things about the competition. In this case, the competition is Pivotal Software and certain members of the Open Data Platform (ODP) initiative. 

Check out the picture in the tweet below. It comes from a presentation at Cloudera’s analyst day held earlier this week. 

Kiai! EMC Grasps Open Source, Kicks Off Cloud Foundry Dojo

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EMC CEO Joe Tucci’s star didn’t rise in an open source world. In fact, the idea of paying engineers to write code that would be donated to “the community” might have seemed as crazy to him as taking the doors off of all of his vacation homes and inviting a bunch of hippies to move in.

But the times they are a changin’, as Bob Dylan likes to sing.

This morning EMC will announce that it is opening the first Cloud Foundry Dojo, a place where application developers can receive the training needed to gain full open source contributor (“committer”) status on the open source development project in six weeks. It typically takes as long as one year.

The move, according to a pitch we received from EMC, is intended to signal “a new strategic focus for EMC as a major contributor to open source.”

Dropbox Sweetens Its Business Products

Dropbox wants to be the place where you store, sync and share files at work, and, for the most part, it already is.

Only 9 percent of employers have official enterprise file sync and share (EFSS) solutions in place, so it doesn’t take an Einstein to discern that workers are going rogue.

Chances are good that they’re doing so using the most popular file sync and share solution in the world, Dropbox. In a recent conversation, Ilya Fushman, head of Product, Business and Mobile at Dropbox, told us that Dropbox is home to more than 35 billion office documents.

This is a good thing for Dropbox. But it would be even better and bosses would be happier if all this file sharing was done in the open — with employer consent and the knowledge that everyone was adhering to company policies.

That’s what Dropbox for Business is for, and why Fushman’s team is working at a rapid pace to meet the needs of business customers — and why Dropbox introduced two new products today.

Acrobat Wants You to Do Magic on Adobe's New Document Cloud

In this, the digital age, we’re still using paper, and a whole lot of it. About 80 percent of document-based processes are at least partly dependent on paper, according to research by the IDC.

“People are still being forced to print, scan, fax and/or mail documents at some point in the process,” said Mark Grilli, vice president of product marketing at Adobe.

It slows the pace of business to a snail’s crawl because we’re living in an increasingly mobile world. People aren’t tethered to their desks waiting to fill out forms and sign things, let alone fax them back or put them in an envelope in need of postage. And when it comes to circulating documents, forget about it.

What Does Box's Lousy Showing Mean to the Enterprise?

Box CEO Aaron Levie better have had an extra cup of coffee before he arrived at his company’s Silicon Valley offices this morning. Chances are he was staring at the NASDAQ ticker all morning -- his company’s shares are down a whopping 15.64 percent (as of 3:03 EDT).

Big Data Bits: Making Sense Edition

For all we write about Hadoop, Spark, NoSQL databases and the geeky IT-facing side of big data, what really matters is how it brings value to knowledge workers. That’s the point, after all, isn’t it?

Discovering actionable insights and finding new, data-rich perspectives to study and look at problems is the promise of this data age.

And it’s not only that, but it’s delivering data smarts to the people who need them most and, more often than not, they’re not data workers.

So when solution providers make progress in these areas, we can’t help but get excited.

Splunk Brings Operational Insights to Main Street

To some of us, the mere idea of gleaning insights from operational and machine data seems baffling — like something that only large enterprises with big bucks and sophisticated IT pros have the resources to do. This leaves the rest of us straining our eyes and brains, examining and analyzing log files to anticipate and solve problems. 

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