Data Sheet—Wednesday, August 13, 2014

August 13, 2014, 1:07 PM UTC

Stealthy spy or sophisticated whistleblower? Most people have a visceral response to the name Edward Snowden—ranging from hate to qualified admiration. An investigative portrait in Wired offers a portrait of the “postmodern whistleblower.” You’ll need a big cup of coffee to digest it. But first, here’s your Wednesday edition of the Data Sheet.


Snowden: "I left a trail." We may never understand his motivation or know how many NSA documents he pilfered, but the Edward Snowden incident continues to be an object lesson in security protocol—one that haunts both the feds and businesses grappling with privacy concerns in a big data world. On the lam in Russia, the notorious IT consultant offers this troubling claim: he left plenty of digital footprints, so why hasn't the NSA found them? Plus, the conspiracy theory: there may be another leaker.

Would you trust a smartphone messaging app to handle stock trades? Japanese brokerage SBI Securities now lets customers buy and sell through chats on its official Line business account. It wants more business from 20- and 30-somethings.

No, it wasn't just you. Several major Internet service providers—including Comcast, Level 3, AT&T, Cogent, Sprint and Verizon—experienced major outages Tuesday. The culprit: overloaded routing tables. Methinks we can expect more of this.

Amazon's ever-expanding commerce realm. This time, it's taking on Square and PayPal with a mobile payments reader that carries way lower transaction fees way after the promo period. 

Samsung's smartphone mettle. As Apple's enterprise mobile dominance falters, its biggest rival is taking on design critics by ditching its cheesy plastic frame with a new model due in early September.


Need for speed. Does that application live in your data center or in the cloud? With Silver Peak's latest WAN optimization technology, called Unity, location doesn't really matter for prioritizing performance or routing.

Does VMware have a chance? At a crossroads, the virtualization giant wants a bigger piece of the public cloud. Here's how it will differentiate: compatibility in hybrid environments.


SAP users: Show me the business case. Three years after data platform HANA's splashy introduction, holdouts within the SAP customer community say they can't justify the cost of switching. SAP's move to relax hardware requirements could help, but a better product roadmap would be more helpful.

Machine-to-machine and everything between. Splunk now uses technology acquired through its buyout of Cloudmeter to collect info about what's happening within your network.  


Platform9's breakthrough in private cloud management. A founding quartet of early VMware engineers just got $4.5 million to tackle automated provisioning of virtual machines and container technologies. 

Planview and Projectplace plan a get-together. Their merger announced Wednesday creates a $125 million player in enterprise project management and collaboration technology.


Everywhere you turn, there is some analyst or management consultant clamoring about "digital transformation" and how it is disrupting everything from customer service to marketing to product development. Their argument is that you'll be toast if you don't do something! Now! Stat! But what, exactly, are you supposed to do?

One of the best discussions of this topic I've come across yet is the subject of a new book by several consultants from IT services company Cognizant with the rather unsexy title: Code Halos: How the Digital Lives of People, Things and Organizations are Changing the Rules of Business.

I chatted with one of the authors, Paul Roehrig, global managing director of Cognizant's Center for the Future of Work, several weeks ago. Some highlights:

What the heck is a code halo? "Every 'click' or 'swipe' or 'buy' or 'like' or search creates a digital footprint, a digital exhaust trail. The combined information of what you like, what you are listening to, where you are in space—all of that information in aggregate creates a virtual you that’s comprised of the information that you share every day, day after day, week after week, month after month."

What does it mean at the enterprise level? "You can find some really interesting examples: Allstate and Progressive and others are using very specific driver data, collected in many cases through telematics devices, to create new kinds of commercial models for personal insurance, for auto insurance. Disney has created its MagicBand system where it has encoded your credit card information and what kind of things you’re interested in; it helps people get a very personalized theme-park guest experience based on data and information, and it’s all encoded in a band that goes on your wrist. In manufacturing, GE creates code halos around their jet engine. There are hundreds of sensors built into the engine, generating data useful for GE and airlines. It’s lowering costs, improving safety and efficiency, and there are many business benefits."

There are three places code halos will have an especially profound impact, Roehrig believes: customer interactions, product design and development, and telematics. How businesses choose to respect the data their receive will make or break those strategies. He notes: Companies have to be compelling and honest in their ability to manage that information in an ethical and trustworthy way, and they have to deliver a level of value that makes it worth the give. We call this the 'give-to-get' ratio."

Is your team ready for the responsibility?


Breach-of-contract lawsuit backfires. Four years ago, Carlson—the hospitality company behind the Radisson chain—tried to squirm out of its 10-year-long, $646 million outsourcing deal with IBM Services, serving it with a $76 million lawsuit claiming poor performance. But a Minnesota judge just ruled on IBM's side, noting "the effort Carlson made at trial to portray IBM's performance as an unmitigated disaster is not borne out by the evidence." Now, Carlson owes $14 million in "early termination payments."


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)