Data Sheet—Friday, September 12, 2014

September 12, 2014, 12:11 PM UTC

Good morning, Data Sheet readers. As speculation abounds over whether EMC will sell a stake in VMware, Hewlett-Packard just made an eyebrow-raising cloud bet—and snagged itself notable open-source exec Marten Mickos in the process. Plus, need a brief primer on cloud economics? Grab some coffee, because KPMG is happy to oblige. Enjoy your weekend!


Will it or won't it? A news report late this week proclaimed EMC's intention to sell a piece of its stake in VMware, a move meant to appease big investor Elliott Management. No one's talking officially, but a source close to the matter says it isn't true. These rumors have circulated for weeks. What we do know is that EMC CEO Joe Tucci and the hedge fund were supposed to talk things out late this summer.

Salesforce exec jumps ship to eBay. As Exec VP, Steven Fisher led the CRM giant's platform and application development. He'll now run eBay's Marketplaces tech strategy. The developer chose the same day to disclose the resignation of Mark Carges, who spearheaded strategy and expansions into China and India. He's leaving to focus on a family matter

Virtual reality pioneer puts up $31 million for research, scholarship. Oculus co-founder Brendan Iribe—whose company snagged $2 billion when Facebook bought it in March—is putting up real money so University of Maryland can advance applications in VR, robotics and artificial intelligence. (And he didn't even graduate!)


More than meets the eye. Hewlett-Packard's buyout of struggling Eucalytus, which makes cloud management software that rivals its own offerings, wasn't big enough to rate a financial disclosure. But open-source advocate Marten Mickos—who sold MySQL to Sun back in 2008 for $1 billion—is now in charge of HP's cloud strategy, reporting directly to CEO Meg Whitman. One of the stranger things about this development is that HP's focus is OpenStack, and Mickos hasn't been a fan. 

Let's make a deal. Big companies are used to buying and selling contracts for commodities like cocoa, gold or oil, and maverick broker 6Fusion wants to do something similar for cloud infrastructure services (like the sort sold by Amazon Web Services and Microsoft). It model would create blocks of capacity that could be traded as needed (or desired). It's trying to figure this out with the Chicago Mercantile Exchange and could have something in place by late 2015. 

Win free Google services for a year! It's giving away up to $100,000 in credit to help entrepreneurs create applications on its infrastructure. But only if your company is an approved startup with less than $5 million in funding, generating less than $500,000 in annual revenue.


Now, where did I leave that mobile phone? Gadget thefts are on the rise, but employees are taking longer to report them when they happen: close to 40% waited two days before fessing up, 9% took three to five days.

Protecting the Internet of things. Almost 2 billion units will contribute data to business intelligence applications by 2020, disrupting corporate security needs (both the actual and cyber sorts). About 20% will address the problem by 2017.

Now that's a lot of video. SanDisk's latest SD card can hold up to 512 gigabytes, which is a 1,000-fold increase over the vendor's first attempt in 2003. It also doesn't mind water or x-rays.


Former Microsoft exec turns venture capitalist. Kurt DelBene ran the developer's Office business and was part of the private-sector advisory team that fixed He's now with Madrona Venture Group (behind the likes of Amazon, Isilon and Apptio).

One smartphone, two numbers. With Movirtu's "virtual SIM" technology, one device can share professional and personal lines—you can even split up the billing. The technology works on iPhones and Android devices, and it's now part of new owner BlackBerry's differentiation strategy.

CEO swap for struggling cloud storage vendor. Former Yahoo exec Brad Garlinghouse is out, and co-founder Ranjith Kumaran is taking over at Hightail (formerly YouSendIt), which is feeling the heat from better-funded companies like Drop and Dropbox.

What is that caller really telling you? Ifbyphone's software helps sales teams and marketers prioritize incoming calls and get them to the right people more quickly. It just doubled its funding, adding another $30 million that will pay for the buyout of its rival, Mongoose Metrics.

Taking a pulse on patient health. Lumiata's machine learning technology helps doctors, nurses and other care providers sift data to make treatment decisions more quickly, especially in emergency situations. It just got another $6 million from new and returning investors, including BlueCross BlueShield Venture Partners.


What drives businesses to adopt a cloud service instead of sticking with their tried (if not necessarily true) infrastructure strategy?

Apparently, there are six common triggers (conveniently outlined for you in a new cloud economics analysis published by KPMG). But first, it's helpful to know most "cloud-rate economic advantage" comes from two things: higher utilization rates and lower capacity hoarding tendencies (although I've heard many IT professionals are still prone to the latter); and improved operational efficiencies, resulting simply from the scale of these services.

"With typical IT organizations spending over 30% of their budget on infrastructure (primarily data centers and data networks), shifting some or all of this work to the cloud can save organizations anywhere from 10-20% of their annual IT budget, savings that can either be returned to the firm or reinvested in growth and innovation," KPMG writes.

Generally speaking, cloud discussions start for six main reasons: 

  • A major new business initiative coming that will strain existing technology
  • Mandated cost reductions
  • Some business division started using an app-as-a-service behind the CIO's back
  • Forwarding looking strategic considerations
  • Urgent capacity needs, including (oops!) not enough electricity
  • An acquisition

What makes people say "Yes" differs for each scenario but comes down to these five things: scalability, long-term cost structure advantages, minimal upfront investments, lead time considerations (as in, there isn't much), and whether or not the business is committed to a particular service or application over time. (It looks at least a tiny bit better when you switch something off in someone else's data center rather than your own.)

But how do you really know? Every mega IT consulting company has an opinion, but KPMG's suggested phased approach is vendor-agnostic: benchmarking costs associated with the current environment based on five-year growth projections; and creating common workload definitions that can be used for evaluation. "The goal is to develop apples-to-apples, all-in cost comparisons across at least two or three viable scenarios: as-is (plus growth), hybrid and mostly cloud-based," KPMG notes.

Easier envisioned than done. But if you're in charge of cloud evaluations, definitely take a peek at this document. If you do, let me know how it maps against your own experiences via email to


Smarter vision? Google Glass gets considerably more digital ink than rival technology from startup Vuzix. But with partners like Lenovo and SAP, the latter has a way sharper focus on meaningful enterprise apps, such as factory inspections or just-in-time inventory updates. Worth a look.


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)