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Data Sheet—Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Good morning, Data Sheet readers. Like many enterprise software developers with names more than five years old, VMware is caught in the middle of a tricky transition. How can improve its proposition for on-premises data center managers while appealing to those concerned more with hedging bets in the hybrid cloud? Several big-deal announcements at the annual VMworld conference in San Francisco address that dilemma. Plus: both businesses and consumers are haunted by how to handle privacy. Upstart Ghostery wants to make things less spooky.

TRENDING

VMware counters cloud, open source competitors. Amid an avalanche of new product launches at its annual VMworld conference, three things stand out: the virtualization pioneer’s move to distribute its own version of the OpenStack management platform; its new EVO:Rail data center appliance (combining server, networking and storage features); and a pact with Google, Docker and Pivotal that lets it combine container technology with its virtual machines. And now, it needs to deliver to remain relevant.  

In case of lost smartphone, flip the switch. To the chagrin of Apple, Samsung, Google and others, California just became the first state to require anti-theft features that erase sensitive data and services immediately on phones that are swiped or misplaced. The law takes effect in July 2015. A similar one in Minnesota stops short of requiring automatic enablement.

Microsoft scrutinized (again) in China. Antitrust officials there are investigating its policy of bundling Internet Explorer and its media player with Windows. Because apparently enough time hasn’t already been wasted on studying this policy in the United States and Europe.

CLOUD CHATTER

Two heads are better than one? Hewlett-Packard and Avaya are getting together on combined services for contact center and unified communications, which will be deployed and supported by HP’s professional services team.

Microsoft’s outage post-mortem: We were sloppy. Configuration errors were just one core cause of the five-hour service blackout last week for Visual Studio Online (“one of the worst incidents we’ve ever had”). One solution in effect immediately: better testing.

Caught in the middle. What to do when your business model is commoditized by big guys like Amazon and Google? Think B2B. Storage pioneers Box and Hightail are catering to commercial customers with specialized services for healthcare, entertainment and hospitality companies.

Don’t write off Red Hat anytime soon. There’s now a September launch date on the calendar for the next version of the Linux powerhouse’s hybrid cloud management platform, Cloud Forms. Because, like VMware, it has no intention of becoming irrelevant anytime soon.

STATS & SPECS

Oh no, there’s a typo! Need to change a PowerPoint slide on your iPad minutes before your presentation? Google’s new Slides app for iOS now does the trick, mirroring its sibling Docs and Sheets apps for editing other native Microsoft Office documents.

STARTUPS & DISRUPTORS

Could it come down to Don Draper versus Watson? Artificial intelligence developer Persado is testing machine-generated advertising copy that seems to connect better with prospects than what’s written by humans. At least that’s what clients Citigroup and Motorola Mobility think. Ah, but who would you pick to share an adult beverage?

 

FAQ

You might love receiving personalized marketing messages or promotional offers, but you’d be spooked by how many services watch as you browse the web. Ipso facto, there could be up to 70 different ones associated with the average Fortune 500 company’s digital and social presence (aka “marketing cloud”)—if you believe the stats collected by marketing privacy company Ghostery.

As a CMO or CIO, you’d be equally horrified to learn that maybe only 20% of those trackers actually have your permission to be lurking. “When Facebook takes your data and sells it back to you, it may also be selling it to your competitors, and that’s not exactly an even trade,” says Ghostery CEO Scott Meyer.

If the name Ghostery is familiar, it’s because the developer makes free browser privacy plug-ins for Chrome, Firefox, Opera and Safari used by more than 40 million consumers to track who’s tracking them and to block same (if they want).

Its enterprise services (starting around $50,000 for an annual license) aggregate data collected anonymously from the “Ghostrank” panel and present it as spiderweb-like maps that visualize what’s going on. (You can see samples for Gap, Pepsi, Sears and T-Mobile at this link.) Among other things, these maps reveal when new trackers materialize and whether certain ones slow things down, which could discourage e-commerce or other interactions.

The current incarnation of Ghostery, which employs about 75 people, is the result of a 2010 merger with Evidon. The combined company rebranded in April; it has raised $23.5 million in venture funding so far from the likes of Warburg Pincus, Meyer says.

Publicly announced customers of the Ghostery enterprise services include International Hotel Group and Equifax, although there are dozens of others. “It turns out that businesses and consumers have the same problem,” Meyer says. They are both haunted by what to do about privacy.

ONE MORE THING

Royal Caribbean’s seafaring twist on BYOD. With 2,090 staterooms, the tech-savvy Quantum of the Seas uses mobile apps for everything from checking in guests to making dining reservations to luggage tracking to streaming video services while you’re lazing by the pool. To keep crew members in the know, the cruise line is giving them free, personal Windows 8.1 tablets. It will eventually hand out 40,000 across all of its ships.

EVENTS

Boxworks14: Talk enterprise cloud strategy. (Sept. 2 – 4, San Francisco)

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

Open Data Center Alliance Forecast 2014: Cloud trends. (Sept. 22 – 24, San Francisco)

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)

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: New ideas for operations and management. (Dec. 2 – 5, Las Vegas)