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Data Sheet—Thursday, August 7, 2014

Happy Thursday! Do you still shove a big percentage of your IT projects offshore? If so, you should read about why GE Capital’s new CIO is bucking Jack Welch’s legacy and pulling more work back in-house. Plus: if your marketing team is spending oodles to transform its Web presence, it’s time to call their bluff on strategy. But first, some of the latest news, including Google’s new idea to encourage better website security.

TRENDING

Google rewards encrypted Web sites. We’re all sick of hearing about pilfered Internet credentials. Now, the search giant will give out bonus points for pages designed to make break-ins harder. And now we, and the bad guys, all know that.

Tibco CEO: Will you be our buyer? There’s nothing formal (yet), but ailing business intelligence developer is feeling the pressure from upstarts like Qlik Technologies and Tableau Software and is approaching potential suitors to revive its sliding share price. 

Hey look, Symantec’s growing again! The security software pioneer managed to eke out a modest 2% revenue gain, logging $1.74 billion for its first fiscal quarter. It’s still looking for a permanent CEO and other key execs, but new mobile security offerings and subscription revenue for advanced threat protection are helping.

IBM Services has new consulting “bundles” you can buy before you try. The world’s biggest IT services firms is enticing new clients looking for help with social media analytics, mobile app development, and their SAP or Oracle applications.

GE comes full circle: It will dramatically reduce IT outsourcing. Legendary CEO Jack Welch loved sending IT work offshore to cheaper places—at one point, almost 80% of all projects. GE Capital’s new CIO thinks things have “gone too far.” He’s looking for a 50-50 balance. Two strategies he’ll use to encourage in-house talent: co-locating teams, and local university apprenticeships. Plus, expect some CIO strategy shifts at Yahoo. It just hired away a top Netflix VP.

CLOUD CHATTER

Stop guess-timating your Microsoft Azure costs. It’s hard to accurately compare infrastructure as a service bills to traditional tech infrastructure costs, so the developer’s cloud team created a handy online calculator that I just found online. What it won’t tell you is whether it’s cheaper than Amazon or Rackspace.

STATS & SPECS

Get a charge out of this: wireless sensors sans batteries. In a twist on energy harvesting, University of Washington researchers are testing WiFi-capable mobile gadgets that recycle ambient radio waves to charge themselves. They work like RFID tags, but don’t require specialized readers.

Soon, you won’t need an outlet to juice up your mobile phone. Cord-free options for charging your smartphone or tablet are maturing fast. Cadillac is outfitting new ATS, CTS, Escalade, Silverado and Sierra models this year, and Starbucks is adding stations in company-owned coffee shops. There’s even an ultrasound-enabled option for people who can’t bear to put their phone down.

Finally, a “monumental security fix” for the oft-hacked Internet Explorer. An update planned for next week will block outdated ActiveX controls, including Java, making the software much harder for malware to exploit. You can expect future updates far quicker: Moving forward, Microsoft plans to ditch massive patches in favor of ongoing, bite-sized revisions.

Blackberry scores key thumbs-up for security software. It may not win smartphone marketshare battles, but the U.S. just joined the rest of the G7 in admitting the developer’s BES 10 software makes Android and Apple iOS devices safer.

STARTUPS

Another alternative to Apple’s annoying Siri. Google’s acquisition-du-jour is an intelligent mobile messaging assistant, Emu, that can schedule appointments or find restaurants based on your conversation. Ah, but will it talk back or make a coffee run?

FAQ

Here’s something to ponder: Should “Joe,” a project manager working at one of your company’s branch offices, really have access to that financial information he’s trying to view right now?

That’s the sort of question Israeli startup Fortscale recently got another $10 million in funding to help answer. The two-year-old company uses machine learning to create profiles of “normal” user activity, based on data you’re already collecting anyway.

“User intelligence is the ability to provide security analyst teams the capabilities to produce visibility on users,” co-founder Idan Tendler told me when I interviewed him shortly after his latest funding round. “Why is that important? Because users are a major black hole inside the organization, security-wise. If you think about it, the user is a major vehicle in cyber-attacks.”

Here’s the reality: most determined hackers usually find a way to break in and then hide behind the identities of legitimate users to pilfer data. That’s where Fortscale steps in: it can detect whether “Joe’s” actions are atypical of his usual patterns and also whether his habits are unlike other users who have a similar role within the organization. “Everything will look legitimate. It may be risky, but it looks legitimate,” Tendler says.

While other companies do the same thing, they require IT organizations to anticipate potential threats and then write rules for handling them. Fortscale learns along the way. 

ONE MORE THING …

Why your company’s so-called digital transformation is probably flawed. Almost 90% of the executives interviewed for a new Altimeter Group report are scrambling to buy the attention of potential (and actual) customers everywhere you can touch them: on social networks, Web sites, mobile platforms—even during support interactions. It’s shameless. But only 25% of the people spending all that money have actually figured out the desired end-result of those investments. Oops. The culprit appears to be over-eager marketing teams: at least half the time, they’re the ones approving the projects. Sounds like the makings of a Web 3.0 bubble to me.

EVENTS

Def Con: Hack to your heart’s content. (Aug. 7 – 10, Las Vegas)

Gartner Catalyst: Architect a digital business. (Aug. 11 – 14, San Diego)

VMworld: Learn about latest virtualization innovation. (Aug. 24-28, San Francisco)

Atlassian Summit: Build software, collaboratively. (Sept. 9 – 11, San Jose, Calif.)

Open Data Center Alliance Forecast 2014: Catch up on enterprise cloud computing trends. (Sept. 22 – 24, San Francisco)

Oracle OpenWorld: Get a roadmap reality check. (Sept. 27 – Oct. 2, San Francisco)

Gartner Symposium ITxpo 2014: Compare notes with peers. (Oct. 5 – 9, Orlando, Fla.)

Splunk .conf2014. Harness operational intelligence from machine data. (Oct. 6 – 9, Las Vegas)

Dreamforce: Pick from 1,400 sessions about the world’s largest cloud ecosystem. (Oct. 13-16, San Francisco)

Strata/Hadoop World: Analyze big data tools and techniques. (Oct. 15 – 17, New York)

AWS re:Invent: Hear the latest about Amazon Web Services. (Nov. 11 – 14, Las Vegas)

Gartner Data Center Conference: Get new ideas for operations and management. (Dec. 2 – 5, Las Vegas)