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Data Sheet—Thursday, October 23, 2014

Happy Thursday, Data Sheet readers. Enterprise storage and cloud company NetApp may not dole out as many perks as Google or SAS, but its “1 Team” culture makes employees feel respected and appreciated—a big reason the company is No. 3 on Fortune’s latest 25 Best Global Companies to Work For list out this morning. It comes down to simple things, like a personal thank you from CEO Tom Mendoza.

Speaking of which, I haven’t mentioned lately how much I appreciate your support! Keep your comments coming at datasheet@heatherclancy.com, and encourage your colleagues to sign up! But first, read on for today’s news, including EMC’s decision to buy out its joint venture partner Cisco (well, mostly), and Google’s attempt to reinvent the email inbox.

TRENDING

EMC, Cisco part ways on venture (mostly). As anticipated, EMC is taking over its VCE joint venture with Cisco, established in 2009 to help businesses buy and install virtualized data center technology from both companies. Cisco still retains a 10% stake. Here’s what should make EMC investors most happy: revenue previously booked as losses will now flow into the enterprise storage company’s income statement. The third-quarter annualized run rate for VCE’s products and services was more than $2 billion.

IBM to Lufthansa: Leave the computing to us. It’s been a super bad week for the technology giant, with way worse-than-expected financial results and serious disrespect from billionaire investor Mark Cuban, who questioned its ability to deliver technology innovation. On a brighter note, IBM just signed a deal to take over the German airline’s IT operations.

CLOUD CHATTER

IBM and Microsoft make nice. Each really wants more customers for its cloud computing servers and software at the expense of the other—Microsoft with Azure and IBM with Softlayer. But now businesses that use a lot of Microsoft enterprise applications to run their business processes can choose more easily between either with a higher comfort level about interoperability. And vice versa. Computerworld

STATS & SPECS

Is this the future of passwords? Social network giant Twitter is behind a new service called Digits that lets you sign into mobile apps using your mobile phone number, along with a confirmation code sent via SMS text. So far it only works with three applications, but Twitter will encourage other developers to use it. TechCrunch

Can Google invent a better inbox? Recognizing that many of us have a love-hate relationship with email, it’s experimenting with a new application (appropriately called Inbox) that reorganizes how messages and reminders are displayed. It also presents them in context: for example, if you receive a flight status message, the app will associate real-time updates with that original notification. The bad news, right now, it’s just for personal Gmail accounts not its business email. New York Times

STARTUPS & DISRUPTORS

Illumio protects from within. The highly virtual nature of many data centers is great for efficiency, but security breaches spread more quickly if attacks penetrate perimeter defenses such as firewalls. New “adaptive” security software from Illumio reduces the threat by assigning “agents” that watch over individual computing workloads and intervene when unusual activity is detected. The company launched this week with $42.5 million from investors including Andreessen Horowitz and General Catalyst. One obvious rival is vArmour, which has raised $42 million over the past three years. (See this FAQ item from mid-September.) Illumio’s early clients include Creative Artists Agency, Morgan Stanley, Plantronics, and Yahoo.

More funds for mobile payments company. Flint Mobile just secured $9.4 million in Series C financing led by Verizon Ventures, which almost doubles the $11 million it raised in two previous rounds. Over the past year, the Redwood City, Calif., company has signed more than 30 partners and increased transactions with its customers (predominantly small businesses) by sevenfold.

Progress Software buys mobile development technology. Extending a buying spree that began last year, it will pay $262.5 million to buy Telerik, which specializes in user interface design. Its earlier buyouts of Modulus and Rollbase were focused on enterprise cloud applications. TechCrunch

FAQ

Google, Microsoft alumni combine consumer search with business intelligence

In the rush to simplify business intelligence (BI), some software companies sidestep IT compliance and access control considerations. Enterprise technology startup ThoughtSpot seeks to harmonize that disconnect.

The founding team’s central vision: bring the simplicity of consumer technologies to the process of finding relevant business data.

“While BI served the enterprise well over the past three decades, the needs of users have changed tremendously,” says co-founder and CEO Ajeet Singh. “The future belongs to search, and ThoughtSpot is excited to bring a solution to market that answers this challenge.”

The company certainly has the technical chops to pull this off, boasting backgrounds at companies including Amazon, Google, Microsoft, Oracle and Yahoo. More recently, several senior executives started enterprise storage company Nutanix, poised for an IPO in 2015. So far, it’s backed with $40.7 million in funding from the likes of Lightspeed Venture Partners and Khosla Ventures.

ThoughtSpot’s technology is packaged in what it calls the Relational Search Appliance, a combination of hardware and software that processes information from a company’s existing data warehouses, spreadsheets, Hadoop data clusters and other relevant applications. It doesn’t matter where they are located, and it takes a matter of hours or days to set up, according to Singh. Pricing for the technology starts around $149,000.

The interface looks similar to ones used to query consumer search engines. But behind the scenes, a company’s IT organization can tightly control who sees what—limiting the results according to what division an employee works for, his or her level of authority within the organization, or by geography.

The business development team for accounting firm Andersen Tax already uses ThoughtSpot’s appliance to identify and prioritize sales prospects. “We were looking for a product that could be deployed to all users without any training required,” notes director of marketing Megan Williams.

ONE MORE THING

Microsoft: Test our unreleased apps. No, really! That’s the purpose of “Garage,” a site where the general public can access development projects it is testing internally. The idea is to figure out what’s wrong or right, and makes tweak before something is released. It could also help Microsoft avoid costly mistakes. As of this writing, Garage includes consumer mobile and wearable apps, and not just for Windows Phone. VentureBeat

EVENTS

IBM Insight 2014: Big data and analytics. (Oct. 26 – Oct. 30, Las Vegas)

TBM Conference 2014: Manage the business of IT. (Oct. 28- 30, Miami Beach)

SIMposium 2014: Tech execs and practioners. (Nov. 2 – 4, Denver)

Techonomy14: Tech-driven transformation. (Nov. 9 – 11, Half Moon Bay, Calif.)

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)

IBM Interconnect 2015: Cloud and mobile strategy. (Feb. 22 – 26, 2015; Las Vegas)

Microsoft Convergence 2015: Dynamics solutions. (March 16 – 19, 2015; Atlanta)