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Virginia Backaitis News & Analysis

It's a Sync and Share World

Show me a company that doesn’t provide a way for its knowledge workers to share and collaborate on documents via their mobile devices and in the cloud, and I’ll show you a company that has a big problem.

And the problem is bigger than a bunch of bright employees who are supposed to be doing their jobs with their hands tied behind their backs and an anchor attached to their feet. Why? Because they are lobbing documents into the heavens anyway.

That’s bad for your company and bad for your job, Mr. CIO.

But with as much marketing material as we see about Enterprise File Sync and Share (EFSS) solutions that have been built to address the aforementioned issue, the reality is that fewer than ten percent of companies have them in place. And while some managers might argue that they lack the security and other features that their current way of doing business provides, it’s an argument that loses more and more validity each and every day.

EFSS vendors are constantly making big moves to let IT managers sleep at night and to keep end users happy.

Here are some examples that think are worth spotlighting this week.

Is Box Planning a New Trick?

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There’s something Aaron Levie can do even better than pulling a rabbit out of a hat — charm VC’s into investing in his ideas.

As the co-founder and CEO of money-losing Enterprise File Sync and Share service Box, Levie, an amateur magician, had to make a big move to assure doubting Wall Street investors that he was on to something big.

Yesterday he began to do exactly that at his company’s developers’ conference in San Francisco. He tried to convince the 1500 plus coders gathered there that Box could provide the platform and the tools they need to become the big enterprise application builders of the future. Sort of like the next Aaron Levies.

His pitch went way beyond bringing tech luminaries like Salesforce’s Marc Benioff and Google’s Eric Schmidt onto the stage. He also pulled out a bag of cash. Not his own money, mind you, but that of Silicon Valley venture capital firms, Bessemer Venture Partners and Emergence Capital. They have each committed to invest as much as $20 million into startups that build applications on Box’s platform.

But it will take more than the lure of cash and a pep rally to get developers going. They’ll also need great tools so they can build on Box’s platform.

8 Tips to Spring Clean Your Digital Work Life

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Not everyone is a digital packrat, but we could all benefit from at least a little spring cleaning.

Whether we’re talking about our drives at work, our folders in the cloud, the apps on our mobile devices or the social media accounts that include our professional personas -- if you’re like most of us, there’s too much content and too much data out there.

And we haven’t even begun to talk about email ….

Birst & Tableau: The BI World May Not Be Dog Eat Dog

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No one makes data shine brighter than Tableau. It’s why the BI vendor stands so far above the crowd in Gartner's BI and Analytics Platforms MQ Leaders report.

Think of Walt Disney answering some of your most pressing business questions. There’d have to be a picture, and you’d probably even be able to interact with it.

That’s what Tableau gives you: Answers in vizzes and tools that invite you to play with your data. Maybe Tableau’s magic has something to do with the fact that one of the company’s founders, Pat Hanrahan, once worked for Pixar and has won two Academy Awards for Science and Technology.

So it’s no wonder that Gartner BI Challenger Birst showed an interest in hooking up with Tableau. Today the vendors announced a “partnership” in the form of an ODBC connector that makes it easy for their mutual customers to leverage Birst’s data extraction and normalization engine with Tableau.

DataStax + HP Moonshot Show Off at SpringCM

It’s a good time to be a NoSQL database vendor. You don’t have to tell Matt Pfeil that. As the co-founder of DataStax, which brings Apache Cassandra to the enterprise, he’s living the story.

What started as an eight-person team in a rented office in San Mateo, Calif. in early 2011, DataStax now serves 500 customers in more than 55 countries and makes its home in a 36,000 square foot space.

And that’s not all. Pfeil and his co-founder Jonathan Ellis have raised $189.7 million in venture capital to grow their company. It’s now valued at more than $830 million.

But that’s not what the DataStax team was supercharged about when we spoke last week. Instead Pfeil had his company’s partnership with HP Moonshot on his mind. It was announced earlier today.

“In the past DataStax Enterprise hasn’t always worked well with smaller servers,” said Pfeil. “HP Moonshot changes that.”

Microsoft's Power BI Gets Mobile Muscle

Shortly after Satya Nadella took the helm at Microsoft, he began talking about a “data culture.” Two of his favorite tools —Microsoft Delve and Power BI — are supposed to be key in helping us live and work smarter.

The Microsoft boss has told us this over and over again.

And given that we live in an increasingly mobile-first world, being able to glean intelligence via our mobile devices is a must. So it should come as no great shock that Microsoft today announced that it has acquired Datazen, an industry leader in mobile business intelligence and data visualization on Windows, iOS and Android devices.

Hey Cloudera & MapR: Open Data Platform is the Real Deal

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If you thought the Open Data Platform (ODP) was just a bunch of hype, think again.

This morning at the Hadoop Summit in Brussels, three big data crunching giants — Hortonworks, IBM and Pivotal Software — are making big news.

The three will announce that their Hadoop platforms are all standardized on identical versions of Apache Hadoop 2.6, as well as Apache Ambari, and available on the market. The aforementioned configuration is known as ODP.

“We’re all shipping the same version,” Anjul Bhambhri, vice president, Big Data and Streams at IBM, said during a pre-release interview.

Pivotal Gets Open Sourcier

You can’t help but wonder if EMC Federation boss Joe Tucci is reaching for his stress ball today. His company’s spawn, Pivotal Software, is open sourcing the core of GemFire, its distributed in-memory database.

We asked Tucci to comment, but he hasn’t gotten back to us yet. And though his press spokesperson told us “we’re for it,” when it comes to open source, we suspect that it might feel a bit like watching your teenager turn your mansion into a commune.

EMC spinoff VMware (a part of the EMC Federation) paid good money for GemFire (it was called GemStone at the time), after all, and it’s hard to imagine that Tucci is elated about releasing it to the Adobe Foundation for incubation, where the code is open to all and free for the taking.

Tomorrow's Too Late: App Delivery in Digital Time

Ouch!

It takes only four letters to describe the sting that line of business users feel about the rate at which their IT departments bring new applications to market. According to a September study by Harvard Business Review Analytic Services, companies need to dramatically change the way in which IT and business users work together to build applications as well as the IT infrastructure on which they’re deployed.

And this isn’t just supposition.

“Success in the digital economy is increasingly driven by a company’s ability to leverage information for real-time decision making, or to improve customer experience via customer-facing products and services,” the study noted.

Enterprises that are “digital masters” are 26 percent more profitable than peers in their industries, according to cross-industry research conducted by Didier Bonnet of Capgemini Consulting together with George Westerman and Andrew McAfee of MIT.

These companies are leveraging information from social, mobile, cloud, analytics and big data. In addition, IT and the business are working together to build applications collaboratively and in short order. And when it comes to deployment, there’s a fraction of the lag time.

This means that yesterday’s systems development life cycles, reliance on coding, and old IT infrastructures may actually prove to be a disadvantage.

Cloud, mobile, social, big data, the Internet of Things and digital have disrupted the status quo and changed the game.

For quick-thinking business leaders and technology providers this spells opportunity.

Today, Mendix and Pivotal Cloud Foundry announced a new partnership to speed Enterprise IT’s journey to the digital era.

Is VMware Out to Disrupt the Likes of Box & Huddle?

VMware CEO Pat Gelsinger probably doesn’t lie awake at night worrying how Box CEO Aaron Levie plans to win the Enterprise Content Collaboration market.

Chances are good that he’s not all that concerned about Jeetu Patel at EMC Syncplicity, Morten Brøgger at Huddle or Vineet Jain at Egnyte either.

And that’s not because the aforementioned vendors and others like them lack good enterprise file sync and share and/or enterprise content collaboration products. In fact, VMware even partners with some of them.

But Gelsinger’s team is aiming for something bigger and broader — owning end user computing in the enterprise.

And that means social, mobile, video, content, collaboration, cloud and desktop virtualization.

AtScale Bridges the Hadoop Opportunity with BI Tools

You don’t need to buy a new BI tool to glean insight from data stored in Hadoop, so said Dave Mariani, CEO and founder of AtScale.

After all, some enterprises already use as many as 55 different BI solutions as it is, which is about 50 too many by most accounts. So does acquiring yet another analytics tool and training analysts to use it in order to glean insights from big data, in real time, make sense?

Not if there’s a way to accomplish the same thing using BI tools you already own, use and love.

That’s the premise behind AtScale.

3 Vendors Lead the Wave for Big Data Predictive Analytics

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Enterprises have lots of solid choices for big data predictive analytics.

That’s the key takeaway from Forrester's just released Wave for Big Data Predictive Analytics Solutions for the second quarter of 2015.

That being said, the products Forrester analysts Mike Gualtieri and Rowan Curran evaluated are quite different.

Data scientists are more likely to appreciated some, while business analysts will like others. Some were built for the cloud, others weren’t.

They all can be used to prepare data sets, develop models using both statistical and machine learning algorithms, deploy and manage predictive analytics lifecycles, and tools for data scientists, business analysts and application developers.

A Yelp for Enterprise Analytics? Alation Emerges from Stealth

Why is the distance from data to discovery so long?

Show me someone who works with big data, and I’ll show you someone who has asked the question.

And while most data scientists, analytics professionals and business analysts can give you a list of steps they have to take before they can even begin to extract insights from information, some will fess up to something else too — it may not be a completely virgin path they’re traveling to get answers. Someone may have been here before.

If that's the case, then being able to follow his footprints and learn from his experience would sure come in handy. CliffsNotes and SparkNotes would be of help, too.

But there’s no easy way to find out who that person was, even if he works at your company, and to know what he was looking for. It’s a large enterprise that’s inhospitable to bread crumbs.

It doesn’t have to be this way, according to Satyen Sangani. He’s the CEO and co-founder of Alation, the data accessibility company that emerges from stealth today.

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.

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