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Data Sheet—Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Happy Birthday to the IBM Personal Computer, which turns 33 today, and to the Data Sheet, officially one week old! Like what you’re reading? Give me a present—get your CIO and IT strategist friends to sign up, and white list this address, so you don’t miss a single edition. Want less geek speak? More cloud commentary? Send coverage suggestions to datasheet@heatherclancy.com. Meanwhile, back to your Tuesday download on the latest in business tech.

TRENDING

Google engineer gets new title: deputy federal CIO. As reward for fixing the Health.Gov mess last fall, the White House tapped Mikey Dickerson to lead a massive overhaul of all federal Web sites along with “a small team of America’s best digital experts.” The proposed fiscal 2015 budget: $20 million.

Now that’s super-fast. Six companies including Google are paying $300 million for a submarine cable between Japan and west coast that transmits data at 60 terabits per second. You could be using it by mid-year 2016.

New iPads hit the manufacturing line. You care is because they’re rumored to include anti-reflective screen coatings—better for outdoor, field service applications.

CLOUD CHATTER

Cloud service providers jockey for position. Amazon Web Services is still the odds-on favorite: it runs up $1 billion in revenue per quarter, mainly for infrastructure services. But Microsoft (yes, Microsoft!) and IBM are coming up from behind, and they’re spending lots of money to maintain that pace. Says Synergy Research analyst John Dinsdale: “It has become clear that AWS finally has some tough competition to face.”

In case you’re avoiding the public cloud. With the exception of Microsoft, the leaders look really different in a new report from Pacific Crest Securities. The rest of the top five: EMC, Equinix, NetApp and VMware.

Rackspace: We’re not like the others. Although it isn’t a full-fledged, Rackspace is avoiding head-to-head competition with Amazon and other rivals by promising more management services. Apparently businesses are buying that message: it just logged a record quarter, with help from customers like Under Armour, SunPower, and Alexi and Ani.

An opportunity to pick up the slack? Rackspace’s hiccup benefits niche players like Digital Ocean, which caters to mobile app developers. As of this month, it has 96,000 Web-facing servers—compared with just 100 in December 2012. “Our goal was to create a fantastic end-user experience for developers, so that they can just deploy their mobile apps, social apps online in a matter of minutes,” the company’s cofounder Mitch Wainer told me last week when I called for a reality check. Hopefully, players like Digital Ocean can keep the big guys somewhat humble.

STATS & SPECS

Forget Silicon Valley, the IT job hot spot is Texas. The Lone Star state lassoed 8,100 positions from January through June 2014, the biggest percentage jump for this job category. Other good places for tech job seekers to live: Florida, North Carolina, Oregon and Washington.

STARTUPS

Poof, there goes another standalone security company. IBM just bought out one of its business partners, Lighthouse Security Group, adding identity and access management expertise to its team of 6,000 security researchers and developers.

Do you know Nasuni? The enterprise storage startup is “displacing” EMC and NetApp, so its investors are kicking in another $10 million to accelerate market adoption. Total so far: $53 million.

FAQ

During my career as a tech journalist, I’ve scored interviews with some pretty intriguing executives and technologies. Two of my most recent conversations: Segway inventor Dean Kamen and patent mogul Nathan Myhrvold.

I didn’t expect them to have much in common, but they do. Both are super eclectic, and both take a similar try-before-you-buy approach to hiring new talent that you might want to consider for your own team.

As part of his hiring process, Kamen subjects candidates to a “whiteboarding” session with 10 senior people. And he watches: “Do they get defensive? Do they go into denial? Are they willing to throw out ideas? Do they respond when you laugh? When they watch two of your own guys have a debate about what the right answer is, do they join in? Are they thick-skinned?”

For his part, Myhrvold loves hiring homework assignments. “Frankly, that’s the best way to choose somebody, because you have an example of working with them that’s pretty concrete. A job interview is very difficult, because there’s very few people in a job interview who are going to say, ‘I’m kind of a jerk. I sort of have ego issues.’ ” 

When you’re trying to recruit quickly, this sort of an exercise might seem like a luxury. Then again, so is replacing someone you know doesn’t fit after a matter of weeks. Yes, we all know you spent lots of money on all those certification badges, but maybe it’s time for your team to step away from hiring processes long on resume fact-checking and short on real-world encounters with someone who needs to be part of a well-functioning team.

What’s your most successful recruiting strategy? Share with me at datasheet@heatherclancy.com.

ONE MORE THING …

This one’s for every poor fool who checks email after hours. Yes, you’re still reading, unless you happen to be from Volkswagen, which started diverting non-urgent messages three years ago. Is that strategy right for you? If you’re worried about employee stress, don’t bother: research suggests your most engaged workers consider flexible access to be helpful. The others don’t care one way or another.

EVENTS

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 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. (Oct. 5 – 9, Orlando, Fla.)

Splunk .conf2014: Glean 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)