Good morning, Data Sheet readers. Europe’s antitrust chief is talking tougher as he seeks a resolution to the ongoing Google antitrust investigation. Oracle CTO Larry Ellison is readying competitive rhetoric as his company prepares to challenge Microsoft’s cloud computing strategy. And famed software developer Ray Ozzie is chatting up his latest creation, Talko. Read on for the lowdown.
European Union antitrust chief talks tougher on Google. In a speech on Tuesday, Joaquin Almunia called on the search giant to propose a more acceptable settlement to the four-year-old investigation of its market dominance there—or face formal charges. Google has rejected several proposals, and competitors (particularly Microsoft) have been vocal in their displeasure over the stalemate. The big question: can Almunia get this done before he leaves at the end of October? WSJ
Hurd: Oracle will challenge Microsoft’s cloud lead. The developer’s new cloud database services, to be launched Sunday by CTO Larry Ellison, are at the center of its strategy for establishing a leadership position in cloud computing. The idea: team Oracle’s market-leading relational database with its Java programming language to speed development of enterprise apps that live in the cloud. “It’s time to go on the attack,” new co-CEO Mark Hurd tells The New York Times. Sure, but is Microsoft really Oracle’s biggest worry?
Philips stitches together new healthcare tech company. Three months ago, the Dutch electronics giant signaled its plan to split LED and automotive components giant into a separate company. Now, the company is rolling its various healthcare technologies (including medical imaging and patient records systems) and its consumer wellness and personal care products (like beard trimmers) into a new HealthTech division. Why? The move will cut $385 million in costs by 2016. NYT
IBM’s big investment in backup. Its new disaster recovery data center in North Carolina can recover data and applications in minutes if an outage hits (rather than days), whether it’s due to a natural disaster or human error. The site is the first of three new “cloud resiliency” centers to be opened this year: the other two will be in Mumbai, India, and Izmir, Turkey.
Sage adds payroll services through PayChoice buyout. The $157.8 million acquisition comes amid a flurry of partnerships teaming enterprise resource planning software vendors with those that automate paycheck preparation or other human resources processes. Other notable developments within the past 12 months include Intuit’s takeover of service provider Prestwick and accounting developer Kashoo’s infusion from Paychex.
STATS & SPECS
Here’s how Home Depot is shoring up post-breach security. It’s too late for the 56 million cardholders who had information exposed during the home improvement retailer’s recording-breaking network break-in, but stronger encryption should be in place by the end of 2014. One key is support for terminals that can read smart cards using both an embedded chip and a PIN for authentication. But that’s pretty much all Home Depot is willing to say, so other retailers can’t really learn from its mistakes. eWeek
Square will think out-of-the-box on mobile payments. During comments made at a Canadian office opening, CEO Jack Dorsey suggested the company is building point-of-sale systems that support non-traditional payment methods, such as bitcoin digital currency and even Apple Pay (widely viewed as competitive). There’s no official release date, though, so he could just be gauging market interest. Either way, Square needs a credible diversification message to convince investors it can compete with much larger rivals like Amazon, Apple, Google and PayPal. Wired
STARTUPS & DISRUPTORS
People are talking about Ray Ozzie’s new collaboration technology. The famed creator of Lotus Notes and former Microsoft chief software architect is chatting up his latest venture, an iPhone app called Talko that supports ad hoc workgroup interaction. The technology hosts quick group voice calls or sequential “conversations” that could include voice, text or images. Ozzie’s last product was Groove, which faded into obscurity after it was acquired by Microsoft. No details on funding, but aside from Ozzie, the backers include Andreessen Horowitz, Greylock and Kapor Capital. Re/code
Radius Intelligence promises better marketing through data science. And it just got another $54.7 million in financing from Founders Fund to help deliver on that pledge, bringing total funding to about $80.1 million. Its software analyzes behavior and spending patterns among customers so marketers can segment and automate campaigns more appropriately. Competitors include Oracle, Salesforce, Marketo and HubSpot. WSJ
A database specifically for e-commerce?
It seems startups never tire of challenging Oracle’s dominance in databases.
Eight-year-old Clustrix, founded by a former EMC Isilon executive and financed with $54.3 million from backers including High Bar and Sequoia, offers a novel twist with a launch this morning: its latest software was engineered for e-commerce sites with visitor traffic that fluctuates depending on the shopping season. In other words, pretty much every one in existence.
Its secret is dynamic scaling, a feature that helps the database keep pace with unusual peaks in buying activity, new Clustrix CEO Mike Azevedo told Data Sheet. (Azevedo officially assumed that title in early September, his resume includes stints at IBM and Veritas.)
For shoppers, scalability means no noticeable slowdowns during the transaction process. For online sellers, it means the site is less likely to crash under the strain of a particularly fruitful selling day. “It’s that time of year again, the time when everyone starts speculating about how many sites will crash on Cyber Monday,” Azevedo says. “Many companies using MySQL are unprepared to handle website traffic spikes and don’t realize they’re at risk year round, not just during the holiday buying season.”
MySQL, owned by Oracle, routinely shows up in monthly market size and popularity reports as the top open source database. Translation: it’s often used by fast-growing sites looking for a cost-effective alternative to Oracle’s proprietary software. Hoping to entice converts, the Clustrix offering is compatible with MySQL and with e-commerce software from eBay’s Magento division, Azevedo says. Annual subscriptions start at $18,000.
Clustrix databases already handle one trillion transactions per month for customers including Rakuten (a Japanese e-commerce company) and NoMoreRack (a daily deals site). Last year, the technology helped the latter site manage a threefold load on its site during its busiest shopping day.
ONE MORE THING ...
Senate seeks balance on data privacy. It’s far from law, but U.S. senators are kicking around a bill that would limit the ability of U.S. law enforcement agencies to seize email or other data stored in data centers outside the country’s borders. The Law Enforcement Access to Data Stored Abroad (LEADS) Act would prevent unilateral information requests, particularly when the data concerned doesn’t belong to U.S. citizens.
The timing is definitely premeditated: Microsoft is embroiled in a high-profile dispute with the federal government over emails stored in Dublin. “This bill proposes a more principled legal blueprint for balancing law enforcement needs with consumer privacy rights,” writes Microsoft General Counsel Brad Smith, in a blog post about the development. “It also creates an important model that will help advance the international conversation that is so critically needed.”
Oracle OpenWorld: Get a roadmap reality check. (Sept. 27 – Oct. 2, San Francisco)
Interop: Actionable solutions for IT headaches. (Sept. 29 – Oct. 3, New York)
Enterprise Security Summit: Challenges, trends and solutions. (Sept. 30, New York)
Gartner Symposium ITxpo 2014: Compare notes. (Oct. 5 – 9, Orlando, Fla.)
Splunk .conf2014. Glean intelligence from machine data. (Oct. 6 – 9, Las Vegas)
Dreamforce: 1,400 sessions about the largest cloud ecosystem. (Oct. 13-16, San Francisco)
Strata/Hadoop World: Big data tools and techniques. (Oct. 15 – 17, New York)
TBM Conference 2014: Manage the business of IT. (Oct. 28- 30, Miami Beach)
AWS re:Invent: The latest about Amazon Web Services. (Nov. 11 – 14, Las Vegas)
Gartner Data Center Conference: Ideas for operations and management. (Dec. 2 – 5, Las Vegas)