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Data Sheet—Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Good morning, Data Sheet readers, and welcome to a busy September starting with the Boxworks cloud this-and-that conference in San Francisco. More on that later this week. First, let’s catch up on news that trickled in over the relatively quiet Labor Day weekend—unless you’re a lawyer for Microsoft or Oracle.


Microsoft’s weekend legal scramble. While you were enjoying one last summer barbecue, the developer’s lawyers were busy drafting legal briefs to an ongoing antitrust investigation and a closely watched data-privacy case. Chinese officials just gave the developer 20 days to explain its OS and app bundling practices. Meanwhile, the developer responded to a New York judge’s late Friday ruling by renewing its pledge to ignore U.S. warrants for customer emails stored in Ireland—even though it could be held in contempt of court.

Oracle-SAP judge: Take it or leave it. Oracle was holding out for a $1.3 billion settlement in its copyright dispute against SAP, but a San Francisco judge called its bluff by setting the amount at just $356.7 million. It’ll have to endure a whole new trial if it wants more. On the bright side, Oracle’s $5.3 billion takeover of point-of-sale tech giant MICROS just got the green light in Europe.

Intel poaches Qualcomm exec to reset mobile strategy. Amir Faintuch—who led networking and connectivity for the wireless semiconductor company—is tasked with improving the big chipmaker’s designs for Internet-connected gadgets. By the way, if you rate a fashionista VIP pass, you can glimpse of Intel’s wearable designs on the runway during New York Fashion Week. (See, I told you September is busy for tech companies.)


Alibaba deepens public cloud footprint. The big Chinese e-commerce player—slated for a massive U.S. IPO next week—just opened the fifth data center serving its AliCloud offering. I’m sure Amazon isn’t scared, but the service could find a niche with small and midsize businesses. China’s recent crackdown on U.S. tech companies could make things interesting. Plus, it’s about to have oodles more money to spend.


Embarrassing track record for Windows 8 derivatives. Microsoft’s most recent OS update managed modest share gains in August, but it’s still catching on slower than Windows Vista, widely considered a flop. I’ll bet Windows 9 can’t come fast enough for Satya Nadella.

Remember those promising tablet forecasts? Never mind. IDC just slashed its 2014 growth-rate prediction to a mere 6.5% year-over-year growth rate in shipments—substantially less than its original forecast for a 12.1% rise. If you cut out the relatively flat growth expected for mature markets in North America and Western Europe, though, the outlook is considerably brighter.

Chromebooks purpose-built for enterprises! Yes, it’s true. The super-trio of VMware, Nvidia and Google are combining forces to create a desktop virtualization environment that can handle graphics-intensive software Adobe Illustrator, AutoCAD and Microsoft Office. When can you get your hands on this? Maybe by the fourth quarter.

Secure your smartphone through learned behaviors. Zimperium’s tattletale app can tell when your Android gadget (and now your iPhone!) is acting out of character. From there, it alerts you and acts accordingly. 


What a tangled web we weave. In an industry full of annoying acronyms, this ranks among the most annoying: IFTTT (pronounced like “gift) and short for If This Then That. Still, get used to saying it: the company is working on tech that creates smart links behind cloud services based on triggers you create with “recipes.” (It could be as simple as sending an email when something is uploaded to a Dropbox account or automatically tagging images.) Another $30 million in funding from the likes of Norwest Venture Partners and Andreessen Horowitz will help test its theories.

Shiny happy people. Is your workforce content or malcontent? Plasticity Labs just got $2.1 million in funding for data analytics software that helps keep a pulse on employee morale.


On Sept. 9, we’ll be treated to a peek into Apple’s next whiz-bang mobile gadgets, which may or may not include wearable devices, and may or may not include iPhones with built-in mobile payments technology.

What’s more certain is you can download iOS 8 (billed as the biggest release yet) within a matter of weeks, along with a wealth of features that should excite enterprise mobile apps sorts. 

Apparently, enterprise app creators hope to be more prepared for the ensuing onslaught than when iOS 7 hit, if the spike in “in the wild testing” handled in August by app-quality organization Applause is any indication.

“More companies are coming earlier and saying they need to ‘hold, serve and protect’ users,” says chief marketing officer Matt Johnston. So far, Applause has managed more than 200 test cycles for more than 50 customers prepping for the fall Apple mobile updates, Johnston says.

Right now, most testers are sorting potential functional or interface compatibility issues rather than figuring out ways to leverage new tools such as HealthKit or HomeKit. Another big change is one you need to be a Mac or iPad user to appreciate: dubbed Handoff, it makes sure a task initiated on one device can be picked up seamlessly in another cyberlocation. So, a call received on a mobile, for example, could be picked up elsewhere when someone arrives at home or the office. 

“iOS was incredibly visible in terms of user interface,” Johnston says. “iOS 8 is more for the developers and companies themselves. Where users will start seeing the changes is in the continuity of services. That’s where we’ll tangibly see the impact.”

While I’m on the topic of enterprise mobility, the iOS 8 launch is supposed to bring the first industry-specific MobileFirst apps to emerge from the Apple-IBM partnership forged in mid-July. To whet appetites, IBM just published tips for developing an enterprise mobile roadmap—in case you needed more convincing that developing one is a smart thing to do.


Apple’s guide to rejection. What’s the best way to get an app rejected from the App Store? Any of the design, content or technical mistakes catalogued on the company’s new running tally of goofs developers commonly make when submitting mobile software for approval. Perhaps it anticipates a boatload of new app applications with the iOS 8 launch?


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)

Enterprise Security Summit: Challenges, trends and solutions. (Sept. 30, 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)