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Data Sheet—Friday, September 5, 2014

Friday is upon us, Data Sheet readers. The bad news is more security incidents have been added to the cyberpolice blotter. The good news is companies from Visa and Mastercard, Barclays and Apple are finally talking about realistic solutions. Plus a special tip for geeky NFL fans: the league is using new RFID and analytics technologies that helps you keep better tabs on fantasy teams. Enjoy your weekend and don’t forget: If you enjoy Data Sheet, tell your friends to sign up.


Credit companies join fight to protect cardholders. Another day, another breach, another new account number for you to remember and manage. While Home Depot still struggles to figure out exactly what happened, that’s one likely post-hack scenario for every compromised consumer. But be still my heart! Credit-card companies are finally stepping up to help with security: both Visa and Mastercard are embracing payment tokens linked to individual consumers, essentially rendering stolen data useless. 

Every famous and non-famous person who uses iCloud will be happy to know Apple is contemplating an alert service that warns about unusual activity—like someone trying to change passwords or move lots of data. For those who learn from the mistakes of others: Goodwill is offering more details about its July breach—which is NOT one of the Backoff point-of-sale variety.

First GoogleX, now the White House. Soon-to-be-ex Googler Megan Smith is the nation’s third Chief Technology Officer. Sadly, one of the first things she’ll get to think about: a confirmed break-in at


Out-of-the-box workflows. Box is already a step ahead of other cloud storage services with useful integrations for Salesforce, NetSuite, DocuSign (and the upcoming one detailed this week for Microsoft Office 365). Now it pictures itself at the center of enterprise content management and collaboration processes of every shape and size. It doesn’t expect to do this alone: there are now 1,000-plus complementary Box apps.

Migration made easy. Pssst. Interested in moving to Microsoft’s cloud but don’t have the resources to pull it off? This service accelerates the process, regardless of whether existing workloads are on Amazon Web Services, VMware, legacy servers, or all of the above.

Watch for hackers, in real time. You can add Amazon Web Services to the list of cloud platforms covered by FireEye’s cyberattack surveillance services.


Ready to stop calling Cisco a networking vendor? The company just unleashed its latest barrage of all-in-one storage, compute and networking technologies—building on 35% growth in second-quarter server shipments and representing its most significant converged infrastructure launch in five years. But, oops, it also stopped shipping one of its storage appliances because of quality issues.

Warp speed for web pages. Well, not quite, but Google just released new compression technology that serves up big sites faster—provided they’re hosted on certain open-source platforms.

Shiny new Dell desktops. Two systems due this month will run Chrome, including one dedicated to videoconferencing applications priced around $999.

Mark your calendars. Get ready for Windows, Lync and Internet Explorer patches next Tuesday, including one rated critical.

Is this how you should manage your data center? Dell, Emerson Network Power and Intel are among those behind “Redfish,” a new framework for automating patches and other processes. More details are expected next week at Intel’s developer forum.


Big pile of money for DataStax. In its four years of existence, the open source database developer has signed up 500-plus global customers including eBay, Intuit, Intercontinental Hotels Group and Netflix. It was just rewarded with another $106 million in funding led by Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield & Byers, earmarked for engineering and accelerating enterprise sales.

Eye on biometrics. Intel Capital is among strategic investors forking over $5 million to Delta ID, which makes iris recognition technology that could replace passwords for secure transactions or electronic payments. Potential applications? How about more secure banking for breach-weary financial institutions. Barclays is on the vanguard: it’s testing transactions triggered by wristbands and a finger scanner for corporate customers, and plans a new voice-biometrics system for its 12 million retail customers in 2015.

Sign me up! LogMeIn is investing $15 million to make the log-in process for its online collaboration and conferencing services simpler. It just bought Meldium, a player in single sign-on and password management.


In early August, GE teamed up with Pivotal to launch what could be the first official “data lake” service, an extension of its industrial Internet strategy (what the rest of us call the Internet of things). Basically, GE wants to help customers draw predictive insights out of performance information already collected about things like aircraft engines—fuel consumption, operating temperatures, whatever you can think of—far more quickly than ever.

“Gathering and analyzing data to improve our customers’ performance is no longer a futuristic concept, but a real process underway today and growing in magnitude,” proclaims GE Aviation CEO David Joyce.

There are all sorts of reasons the data lake phrase is particularly apt (score another one for tech marketers). Not only are we literally drowning in useful tidbits of information, we’re using very little of what’s “below the waterline,” observes Ben Werther, founder of Platfora, one analytics developer seeking to help. (It isn’t quite Cloudera when it comes to funding, but Platfora’s pitch so far has been blessed with $65 million in venture capital and contracts with American Express, Citigroup Comcast, Disney, PayPal and Unisys.)

Werther uses this analogy: if data warehouses are well-organized file cabinets, data lakes are the cardboard box where you throw useful items you know you’ll want someday, but haven’t figured out how to use yet. It may be cluttered, even consciously curated, but there’s no way you can catalogue it. For that matter, no matter how smart your team is, you’d be hard-pressed to predict upfront all the potential use cases.

Is this an excuse to get lazy about data management? Gartner worries it might become one (much in the same way many IT teams worry about governing cloud services used with their knowledge). “The fundamental issue with the data lake is that it makes certain assumptions about the users of information,” writes research director Nick Heudecker. “It assumes that users recognize or understand the contextual bias of how data is captured, that they know how to merge and reconcile different data sources without ‘a priori knowledge’ and that they understand the incomplete nature of datasets, regardless of structure.” 

While you could certainly argue for better governance in an era of perpetual cyber-breaches, humans are wired to ask questions, and data lakes could help tease out far more detailed answers than previously possible. “The big generational shift isn’t about Hadoop, it’s about companies using different types of data and wanting to use them together,” Werther says.

Are data lakes a dangerous mirage? Send feedback to


What to wear (or not). As the world awaits in breathless anticipation for Apple’s maybe-maybe-not ‘iWatch’ intro, more vendors are jumping on’s wearable device bandwagon. Plus, Intel’s latest product category: smart bracelets, like the ones worn on New York runways during Fashion Week. Just what we need, another motivation for gadget muggings.


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