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Data Sheet—Thursday, January 22, 2015

Good morning, Data Sheet readers. Oracle founder Larry Ellison has a new competitive target: Cisco Systems. Plus, eBay may sell its e-commerce and logistics services division prior to spinning off PayPal later this year.

If you find this newsletter useful, forward it to colleagues and business partners, and tell them to sign up! Did you miss one? Here’s an archive of past editions.

TRENDING

Another spinoff for eBay? It’s amazing the things boards discover when a company prepares for a split-up. Aside from letting PayPal leave the nest, eBay is now exploring a sale of eBay Enterprise. That’s the unit that handles logistics and e-commerce services for the likes of Ace Hardware, Levi’s and Timberland. Apparently, it doesn’t mesh well with the core eBay auction business. The company also agreed to add three directors as part of an agreement with activist investor Carl Icahn. And, it’s preparing 2,400 layoffs to get its expenses back in order. “It’s going to get a little bit worse before it gets better,” Bob Swan, chief financial officer of eBay, told the New York Times. “Our ecosystem has simply been disrupted.”

BlackBerry CEO: Mobile apps for all! John Chen thinks developers writing software for Android or Apple smartphones should be required to release them on other mobile gadgets with a lower (ahem) market share. TechCrunch

Amazon gives up on mobile payments app, for now. It just pulled the plug on the six-month-old “Wallet” service. A spokesman for the e-commerce giant tells CNET it will “look for ways to apply these lessons in the future.”

Workday puts down deeper roots in Germany. It’s been in the country since 2008, and now counts more than 170 German businesses as clients. ZDNet

POLICY & STRATEGY

Will Oracle’s new server hardware spark a data center price war? The database giant is so busy spinning its cloud business as the best and biggest that it’s easy to forget that this software company sells a respectable amount of server hardware that it acquired through its takeover of Sun Microsystems (about $717 million in its quarter ended Nov. 30). Usually, Oracle talks up performance as its competitive edge. Now, it’s taking on Cisco with technology that “converges” the tasks of server, storage and networking hardware into a single platform.

“Our old strategy was to offer the highest performance and the best cost for that performance,” Ellison said, during a product launch Wednesday. “Now it’s highest performance with the best list price. We’re just trying to make the decisions easier.”

Cisco’s response: Bring it.

Cybersecurity, what a buzzkill. What’s one of the biggest issues CEOs are fretting over in Davos: how to prepare for escalating network break-in and data breaches. Some companies are delaying important technology investments as a result. Fortune

RESEARCH & PREDICTIONS

Analytics projects seen as potent prescription. Two-thirds of healthcare organizations surveyed by IT services firm CDW rate them as a top priority. The primary goal: address the rising cost of care.

We’re only human, and that’s a big security problem. Weak policies and a poor understanding of compliance regulations may have been behind more than 90% of the cyber breaches during the first half of 2014. In other words, in most cases they could have been prevented without some major technology investment. ZDNet

STARTUPS & DISRUPTORS

$50 million to reprogram network technology. Ericsson and Temasek Holdings (one of the companies behind Alibaba) led the Series D round in Pluribus Networks, which brings total funding to $95 million. It’s one of the startups focused on software-defined networking, which lets businesses use cost-effective, programmable hardware to handle tasks that usually require proprietary equipment. Other investors include New Enterprise Associations, Menlo Ventures, Mohr Davidow, and AME Cloud Ventures.

Intuit goes to Brazil. It just bought ZeroPaper, which sells financial management applications and services for small businesses and entrepreneurs. This is the U.S. accounting and business software company’s fourth acquisition this fiscal year. (The others were Acrede (human resources and payroll management), PaySuite (online payroll), and KDK Softwares (tax software in India).

Data center or cloud, it doesn’t matter. Four-year-old Ravello Systems uses next-generation virtualization technology to encapsulate applications, so they can be moved between on-premises server hardware and those hosted at Amazon Web Services or Google. It just raised another $28 million, led by Qualcomm Ventures and SanDisk Ventures. (On paper, Bracket Computing uses a similar approach.)

Funding ‘triggers’ name change for marketing automation company. Bluecore (until now known as Triggermail) kicks off 2015 by disclosing a $6 million Series A round led by FirstMark Capital. It automates email campaigns, based on the places that a prospect is visiting on e-commerce sites. Customers include recognizable retail brands such as BCBG, Jockey, Lucky, and Wine Enthusiast.

CLOUD CHATTER

Chalk up another two customers for IBM’s cloud business

Less than one day after proclaiming a $7 billion annual revenue milestone for cloud services, IBM’s newly formed Cloud division disclosed two fresh contracts.

One, a $500 million services agreement with healthcare benefits company Anthem, adds to the string of existing services customers switching to IBM cloud data centers or software as a service applications. It’s a theme the company has sounded often over the past year.

The other (more intriguing deal) establishes IBM as the cloud host for a new service from Clarient Global, backed by a consortium of financial services companies including Barclays, BNY Mellon, Credit Suisse, Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase and State Street. (Clarient is related to The Depository Trust & Clearing Corp.)

Under the pact, IBM will host a centralized, secure hub for client reference data and documents on its SoftLayer technology. Here’s the rationale from Clarient CEO Matthew Stauffer: “IBM’s cloud platform, coupled with its deep security expertise, plays a vital role in enabling this new service to help increase efficiency and control over client data while reducing risk and costs.”

Last year, IBM pulled in $7 billion in revenue last year related to cloud services—a level it was hoping to hit by the end of 2015.

In recent weeks, the company restructured to accelerate that momentum, naming veteran IBM Software manager Robert LeBlanc as the senior vice president. “We took all the pieces that were sitting in various places throughout IBM, some of them in services, some of them in software, and pulled them together,” LeBlanc said in a brief interview Wednesday. “It gives us the opportunity to innovate at speed.”

He isn’t committing (publicly at least) to a new goal. His team also has a lot of hiring to do before it can rev up: there are at least 1,000 open positions (the unit as a whole employs “thousands” of people).

MY FORTUNE.COM BOOKMARKS

Does President Obama’s bid to bolster cyber security go far enough? By Michal Lev-Ram

America’s new healthcare economy: 3 trends to watch By Bob Moritz

Tootsie Roll’s 95-year-old CEO Melvin Gordon dies, marking the end of a candy era By Laura Lorenzetti

The supremely befuddling cyber attack that stumped an industry By Robert Hackett

How guaranteed paid sick days could boost U.S. job growth By Dean Baker

Melinda Gates’ big prediction for women By Caroline Fairchild

FOR YOUR INNER TECHNOPHILE

Saving face, the Microsoft and Intel edition. Last week Google may or may not have given up on Google Glass. (More likely, it is just trying to build a better business case for industrial and commercial applications.)

Now the geeks among us can obsess over the latest headware (my made-up word) from Microsoft: it’s a set of holographic glasses called HoloLens that lets wearers manipulate 3-D images. Yes, the glasses are meant for gaming but they also could be part of design applications. Fortune

Intel is also plunging deeper into wearables technology. It acquired a Swiss company called Composyt Light Labs, which develops smart eyeglasses, shortly before the new year. It bough a fitness band company, Basis, last year and also forged partnerships with smart watcher companies including Fossil. eWeek

ONE MORE THING

And, Microsoft plays catch-up. In other news, the giant software company officially unveiled the first major update to it operating system since 2012. Like Apple, it’s talking up the ways it helps notebooks and desktop computers act more like smartphones. It’s free for the next year—provided you paid for one of the previous two updates.

MARK YOUR CALENDAR

IBM ConnectED: Collaboration and digital experience. (Jan. 25 – 28; Orlando, Florida)

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

Gartner CIO Leadership Forum: Digital business strategy. (March 1 – 3; Phoenix)

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

IDC Directions 2015: Innovation in the 3rd Platform era. (March 18; Boston)

Cisco Leadership Council: CIO-CEO thought leadership. (March 18 – 20; Kiawah Island, South Carolina)

Gartner Business Intelligence & Analytics Summit: Crossing the divide. (March 30 – April 1; Las Vegas)

Knowledge15: Automate IT services. (April 19 – 24; Las Vegas)

RSA Conference: The world talks security. (April 20 – 24; San Francisco)

Forrester’s Forum for Technology Leaders: Win in the age of the customer. (April 27 – 28; Orlando, Fla.)

MicrosoftIgnite: Business tech extravaganza. (May 4 – 8; Chicago)

NetSuite SuiteWorld: Cloud ERP strategy. (May 4 – 7; San Jose, California)

EMC World: Data strategy. (May 4 – 7; Las Vegas)

SAPPHIRE NOW: The SAP universe. (May 5 – 7; Orlando, Florida)

Gartner Digital Marketing Conference: Reach your destination faster. (May 5 – 7; San Diego)

Annual Global Technology, Media and Telecom Conference: JP Morgan’s 43rd invite-only event. (May 18 – 20; Boston)

HP Discover: Trends and technologies. (June 2 – 4; Las Vegas)