Data Sheet—Monday, August 18, 2014

August 18, 2014, 12:02 PM UTC

Welcome to the new workweek, Data Sheet readers! Leave it to Bill Gates to geek out over his ALS #icebucketchallenge, although Jeff Bezos definitely beat him for theatrics. If you still doubt the viral power of social media, ponder the fundraising evidence: $13.3 million for this cause in three weeks. Plus, Supervalu ponders its data breach and Steve Case talks about his $40 million plunge into e-commerce.


Clean-up on aisle two. Grocery giant Supervalu is digesting the impact of a June-to-July cyber-break-in. Cardholder info may (or may not) have been pilfered from approximately 200 food stores and pharmacies, including those under the Albertson's, Acme Markets and Shaw brands. So far, there's no evidence of fraud using the stolen data, and the company says cyberinsurance should cover any damages.

IBM, Lenovo finally get U.S. green light. In case you missed it, a federal committee cleared the $2.3 billion deal transferring ownership of IBM's low-end server line to the Chinese computer maker late last week. China already gave the transaction the thumbs-up, but the U.S. was worried about potential espionage after the transfer. The deed should be done by year-end.


Black eye for Azure cloud team. Microsoft's infrastructure-as-a-service is recovering from a series of outages last week in Japan, Brazil and the western United States. It's probably a side effect of the platform's fast uptick in business vis-à-vis its fierce rivals, Amazon Web Services and Google. Here's how it's prepping for future downtime. Cause you know it's gonna happen.

Got scale? Google's latest cloud partner is Mesophere, founded by a former engineering lead for Twitter and Airbnb. The Apache technology "enables users to manage their datacenter or cloud as if it were one large machine."


Another Microsoft mea-culpa: You might want to uninstall our latest patches. Several updates from the last "Patch Tuesday" are causing heartburn for systems admins, so the advice is to roll them back. Meanwhile, mark your calendars, because the Windows 8 preview is due in late September. Or maybe early October. Either way, reliable sources say it's coming soon, so businesses can start figuring out migration plans.

Apple shines up Safari security credentials. The updates fix seven common vulnerabilities related to WebKit. (Google Chrome moved away from the technology last year.) Plus, Microsoft wants you to give Internet Explorer another chance, even if did once think about changing the browser's name.

Text me with your problem. Nearly half of U.S. adults surveyed by Harris would prefer to handle customer service requests via messaging, rather than waiting 20 minutes in your annoying hold queue. Among the most interested: parents with under-age children.


Digg founder catches entrepreneurial bug. Frequent angel investor Kevin Rose (Twitter, Square, Facebook) is going part-time at Google Ventures to create the somewhat stealthy North Technologies. Early reports liken the company's model to mobile app incubator Milk, Rose's previous venture and the reason he wound up at Google in the first place.

Not-so-odd couple. What do you get when you team a data scientist with a genome expert? One Codex is beta-testing a search engine that sifts more than 30,000 bacteria, viruses and fungi for researchers in clinical diagnostics, food safety and biosecurity.


Steve Case is a big advocate for American entrepreneurship. He has his hand in a lot of things, but I found it intriguing that one of his biggest investments ever ($40 million) went to an Australian e-commerce technology upstart Bigcommerce. (That's more than half the $75 million the company has raised so far.) So, I jumped at the opportunity to ask him why.

Apparently, one aim was to encourage the founders to hire engineers and developers in Silicon Valley rather than on their native turf. Mission accomplished: Bigcommerce already needs to break its San Francisco office lease because it is hiring so fast. Plus it has lured high-profile execs from PayPal, Google and Amazon.

But Case tells me his bigger motive was to support technology that can be the "big equalizer" for Main Street businesses as buyers browse web and mobile storefronts. Right now, e-commerce accounts for $294 billion of all retail sales; Forrester projects it will top $414 billion by 2018. He notes: “To some, this will mean the difference between success and failure. Even just five years ago, if you wanted to create a compelling offering, it could cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. Now, you can get up and running in hours for less than $100 per month.”

Clearly, the Fortune 500 doesn't really lie in Bigcommerce's target customer set, at least right now. But plenty of high-tech companies including eBay, IBM and NetSuite are circling this market with platforms that accelerate the time it takes to get online and prioritize tight integrations with back-office and customer support technologies.

Which begs the question: should large retailers keep rolling their own e-commerce platforms or look more closely at services and technologies their small, nimble competitors are using?

What say you? Email your feedback to


New checks and balances for federal IT. Systems integrators (and citizens) take heed. In one of his first interviews since ditching Google for a White House post overhauling the government's websites, Mikey Dickerson talks to The New York Times about "discouraging" multi-billion-dollar custom tech contracts that don't include explicit milestones. And, he riffs about why the public sector must back away from "an older style of corporate technology"—just like businesses in the private sector.


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)

TBM Conference 2014: Manage the business of IT. (Oct. 28- 30, Miami Beach)

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)