Good morning, Data Sheet readers, and welcome to Monday. You will care about at least two blockbuster events this week: the long-awaited U.S. trading debut of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba, which could raise $163 billion in the biggest tech IPO ever; and the next chapter in Apple’s mobile gadget wizardry. Plus, Apple just hired world-famous designer Marc Newson. Does your IT team pay enough attention to ease-of-use issues?
Fed-up Microsoft squawks over antitrust settlement. It's not happy with proposed remedies that would loosen Google's grip on online searches in Europe. (They don't go far enough for its taste.) The current commissioner is seeking an amicable agreement before his term is up in November.
Rackspace on the block? Unable to compete on scale with Amazon Web Services, the hosting pioneer's identity crisis has sparked copious takeover speculation. Reports suggest CenturyLink's arms are open. Both companies are mum.
GM reinvents cruise control. Take that, Google! It's not quite driverless, but GM CEO Mary Barra revealed the giant automaker plans a new Cadillac that includes sensors and other tech to minimize accidents—as well as an option for hands-free highway driving. The objective is safety, but try explaining this one to parents of teens with learner's permits.
Extra dose of security for IBM SoftLayer. It's adding Intel's Trusted Execution Technology, which extends hardware monitoring and controls down to the microchip level—a preventative measure that should appease healthcare, government and financial services clients.
Apparently, old procurement habits die hard. One oft-cited benefit of cloud computing is the ability to switch on additional computing capacity only when it is needed. But apparently, many CIOs are still prone to overprovisioning anyway.
STATS & SPECS
No gender divide when it comes to smartphone ownership. It's hardly shocking, but new Nielsen research shows Millennials rule when it comes to mobile gadget adoption. And what's this? Slightly more women (of any age) than men have their hands on one!
Return of the convertible? Hewlett-Packard, Dell and Lenovo are among vendors planning "2-in-1" mobile devices combining attributes of tablets and lightweight notebooks (and based on Intel's sexy new Core M processor line). We've heard this story before, and it didn't end well.
HP preps October refresh for Chromebook line. On deck are two models—both priced starting under $300 and both running about eight hours between charges.
Can't wait to update? If you're one of the millions of people who will download iOS 8 in the next few weeks, here are some refresher tips for making sure you don't lose apps or data in the process. (If you're still holding an iPhone 4 or are among the 9% of users who aren't using iOS 7, you should read this, too.)
STARTUPS & DISRUPTORS
Salesforce creates $100 million venture fund. It's backing mobile pioneers that expand its ecosystem (and share its views on corporate philanthropy). Initial commitments include four unnamed startups, DocuSign, InsideSales.com and the consumer products company started by Black Eyed Peas frontman Will.i.am. BTW, this is on top of the $215 million it has already invested in private companies.
Suddenly, user interface is the not-so-secret weapon in enterprise IT domination. The latest proof came late last Friday, when Apple confirmed its hire of Aussie-born industrial designer Marc Newson, who has created everything from a special Nike shoe to Quantas airplane seats.
"Meh," you say, "Apple isn't really a business tech company?" OK, then, how about BMC, Box, Cisco, DocuSign, Jive, Marketo, Okta and Zendesk, all of which are founding members of the User-Centric IT initiative launched in June. One of the five philosophies driving its creation:
"User-centric IT adapts to the way people work, not the other way around. Instead of requiring people to adapt workflows to meet technology needs or delay projects by weeks while waiting for configuration or special-request reports, business technology should fit seamlessly into the workflow. It should be easy to use, flexible and customizable to fit the style of each individual and department. This requires new IT systems to be extremely flexible at the edge, while maintaining consistency and security at the core."
Hiring empathetic engineers and developers is also a priority for Intuit CEO Brad Smith, who tells Fortune's Geoff Colvin: "Designing emotion into the product is now something you really have to think about explicitly and measure yourself against." Elsewhere, Infor CEO Charles Phillips is counting on "beautiful software" to compete against the likes of Oracle (his ex-employer) and SAP. The not-so-secret motivation: way-cool consumer gadgets that are simple to use, something millennials won't overlook as they join the workforce.
Phillips notes: "I just don't think the next generation of business users who use business applications will accept what we've typically done in this industry. Historically, the way software looked was an afterthought. People who bought the software, didn't have to use it. … People in the back-office had to use it, and it was dictated to them, it was just never important. And I think moving forward, if you want to hire the best employees and retain them, you have to make the applications more consumer-like."
Granted, the consumerization of IT has been "coming soon" for a while. But now that line-of-business managers have a bigger say in which apps they use, there will be far less tolerance for kludgy tech. Ready for your makeover? Tell me what you're doing via email to firstname.lastname@example.org
ONE MORE THING ...
Got Google Glass? If you haven't been among the super-geeky early adopters testing the smart eyeglasses for potential business apps as part of the limited launch, the "Explorer" edition is now generally available—that is, if you have $1,500 to spare.
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)