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Virginia Backaitis News & Analysis

Hadoop's Future Might Take a Cloud Foundry-Like Route

Maybe it’s not yet a pattern, but we wouldn’t call it coincidence either. Pivotal, a spinoff from VMware and EMC, has a way of upstaging everyone else in the world of big data by making market-shifting announcements just one day before everyone else makes theirs at major big data (3rd platform) conferences.

It did it on February 25, 2013 when they announced Pivotal HD, stealing the spotlight from Cloudera, MapR, Intel, Wandisco and others who broke their news at O’Reilly’s Strata Conference the next day. It did it again on November 12, 2013 when they announced the launch of their multi-cloud enterprise Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) just ahead of AWS’ annual conference.

So it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that it’ll be up to it again next week on February 17 when it has scheduled a webcast to update the world on its “New Approach to Big Data.” This is just one day before their competitors, collaborators and those who fall somewhere in between are slated to make their own big data announcements at O’Reilly’s Strata+ Hadoop World Conference in San Jose, Calif.

How Did Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella Do in Year 1?

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Happy Anniversary Satya Nadella.

You became the CEO of Microsoft this time last year, and what a year it has been.

The house that Gates built (and Ballmer almost wrecked) has gone from being perceived as “old and tired” to being called “cool." And that’s largely because you haven’t taken your customers for granted and have understood that every day and in every way you must earn their trust and love.

After all, if Microsoft fails to delight, there’s an app or web service that can replace it. You understand this in a way that your predecessor, Steve Ballmer, did not.

For that, we commend you.

Dropbox Says Open Sesame with Its New Button

Dropbox just gave its 300 million users another reason never to leave. While some Sync and Share providers would brag about a release like today's, Dropbox doesn't -- that's not its style.

What it does instead is ever so quietly say “Hey, by the way, look what we’ve done now that will make your life easier.” Its motive is to simply delight you, but how it plays out has another effect. It makes the experience on some of the other file sharing services kind of suck in comparison.

Did SAP Just Change the Game for Enterprise IT?

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Let’s face it. Most of the line of business applications that managers use to run today’s enterprises are pretty clunky.

Kind of like your grandfather’s rusted out, gas-guzzling Cadillac that was his pride and joy more than 20 years ago. Sure, it will still get you from here to there as it putters along, but try to get somewhere quick, to drive in the snow, on ice or off-road, and forget about it.

It can’t compete with today’s automobiles that automatically adjust for weather conditions and the terrain, help you hug curves like a racecar driver, and warn you before you back into something.

It’s prime time for something to change where line of business applications are concerned. And that’s precisely the vision that SAP unveiled for the world of business yesterday before a crowd at the New York Stock Exchange.

“It’s maybe the biggest innovation in enterprise IT in history, not only for SAP, but for the industry,” said Steve Lucas, president of SAP global solutions, during an interview following the presentation. “We’re ushering in a new wave of productivity unlike anything the world has seen before.”

What's Really Going on at EMC's Content Group?

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Shock and awe can be a good thing, especially if you’re introducing a change that’s long been desired. That’s why EMC’s Information Intelligence Group (IIG), which holds Documentum, Captiva, Syncplicity, among other product lines, waited until its annual partner pep rally last week to announce that it was changing its name to Enterprise Content Division — ECD is its acronym.

“We wanted to create some excitement around it,” said Rohit Ghai, EMC ECD’s new president. He knew that almost no one showed affinity for the old name, Information Intelligence Group (IIG) as it has been called for too many years.

“No one knew what that meant,” an EMC partner who asked not to be identified told us.

And while that kind of feedback matters a great deal to Ghai, there were three primary drivers behind the renaming: legitimacy, heritage and evolution.

Jive Brings Workstyle Apps to the Rest of Us

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We’ve all been told that mobile and the cloud are great equalizers. But how often do small and mid-sized businesses continue to find technologies and solutions beyond reach because of their cost, required technical know-how, difficulty of implementation and so on?

Far more often than most vendors are prepared to admit.

But it doesn’t have to be that way, said Colleen Jansen, vice president of global marketing, Jive Software. Today the company that has brought communication and collaboration solutions to enterprises and their business partners since 2001, unveiled three new workstyle apps: Jive Daily, Jive Chime and Jive People.

They’re consumer-like in look and feel, functional in that they work the way you work, easily accessible (not just anywhere, any time, any device) in that you don’t need much help (if any) from IT to set up and use them, and affordable to business and organizations of all shapes and sizes. (Though large enterprises might fare better with Jive and Jive X).

Here’s the low down on the three apps.

What Data Crunchers Say About the Super Bowl

The big game is on Sunday and we know who’s going to win. OK, no we don’t, but Microsoft’s Cortana thinks she does and she has a pretty good track record. If you remember, she called every single elimination match of last year’s World Cup, including the final, correctly. That’s right, she was 15/15.

But before we let Cortana spoil the fun for you data junkies out there, Dash Davidson, Tableau’s Sports Data Analyst, has shared some interactive viz’s with us which you can use to impress everyone and/or make your own predictions. They’re preloaded with data from Pro-Football-Reference.

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.

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