SiliconANGLE Extracting the signal from the noise. Tue, 07 Jul 2015 19:45:40 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Former HP exec Veghte signs on as head SurveyMonkey Tue, 07 Jul 2015 18:34:15 +0000 Having spearheaded much of the strategy behind cleaving Hewlett-Packard Co. in two, Bill Veght will face a very different challenge in his new role: Pulling together a company that’s coping with grief.

SurveyMonkey, Inc., a fast-growing provider of online research tools, today announced that Veghte would become its new CEO, filling the void left when former CEO David Goldberg died in an accident in May. The move has particular poignancy for Veghte and the SurveyMonkey staff, since Veghte and Goldberg were longtime friends dating back to their time at Harvard, according to a New York Times account.

SurveyMonkey employees have reportedly been struggling with the loss of their much-respected CEO, a fact that prompted his widow, Sheryl Sandberg, to join the board early this week. Sandberg is also the chief operating officer of Facebook.

SurveyMonkey Chairman Zander Lurie told Re/code that the company looked at 75 candidates for the job and interviewed a dozen potential CEOs before settling on Veghte. Goldberg had personally courted Veghte for board membership for several years, and the former HP executive was reportedly set to sign on when Goldberg died. With the details of the HP split now all but finalized, the time was apparently right to make the move.

The appointment will probably come as a bit of a surprise to many people, since Veghte has spent the last 25 years working for two large companies – Microsoft and HP. However, it’s worth noting that the Microsoft he joined in 1990 was barely a $1 billion company that had only just released Windows 3.0, the product that would vault it to the top of the industry.

SurveyMonkey has similar ambitions in its niche. Under Goldberg, it grew from 14 to its current 550 employees and is now valued at $2 billion. Veghte told the Times that the company’s technology for rapidly sampling customer sentiment was compatible with the new speed of doing business.

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Docker reveals its secret to success | #DockerCon Tue, 07 Jul 2015 18:01:34 +0000 The architectural change in Cloud computing sparked by Docker is a rare occurrence. And a few key practices made Docker, Inc. successful enough to bring about this critical change. First, Docker realized the importance of agility in infrastructure and capitalized on this.

Businesses like Amazon proved that using an agile application is critical to business survival.  “If you’re not trying to learn how to take advantage of agile infrastructure, of agile applications, you’re going to be left behind,” Scott Johnston, SVP of Product at Docker, told theCube at DockerCon 2015.

Everything starts with developers, and Docker has considered this. They made it easy for a single developer to purchase and use Docker, and the rest of the IT team has no choice but to support it.

Appealing to different audiences

By offering three different options, Docker is appealing to different audiences. There is an experimental branch for those interested in cutting-edge technology, a staple branch designed for running a business, and a 12-month commercial solutions package.

The last key to success has been in providing a portable product that is not limited. “We will include an implementation that works well for the developer on their desktop, out of the box,” Johnston said

Watch the full interview below, and be sure to check out more of SiliconANGLE and theCUBE’s coverage of DockerCon.

Photo by SiliconANGLE
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How the Cloud disrupted Oracle’s ideas on storage | #datacenter Tue, 07 Jul 2015 16:30:00 +0000 The Oracle Cloud Platform Launch Event was the place to be to hear new announcements about Oracle’s work on integrating the three layers of the stack: hardware, software and applications. To help shed some light on these announcements, Prashant Ketkar, VP of product management – Infrastructure Group for Oracle Cloud, joined John Furrier and Dave Vellante of theCUBE.

The conversation started with a look at what Oracle has in store for infrastructure and application levels. “We’ve been on the journey for several years making sure our applications are available in the Cloud as Software as a Service offerings,” Ketkar said.

He explained this has led Oracle to some disruptive ideas in storage, in particular, a policy-based storage solution where customers can choose services without having to change anything in their applications.

Integration on every level

Bringing integration to every level of the stack is a major goal. Oracle is also seeking to provide integration between infrastructure, hardware products and products on the Cloud.

A variety of industries could benefit from these products, especially those that require long-term data storage. As an example, Ketkar pointed toward the financial services and insurance industries.

Where data resides

One of the challenges involved in data storage is that companies are very concerned about data sovereignty. Where the data lives is an important question. Some customers must retain it inside their own country, while others want their data far away for backup safety. Ketkar described how customers were interested in data recovery both to and from the Cloud.

Finally, Ketkar commented on the vibe inside Oracle. He saw a lot of opportunity in the enterprise side of things and in the Cloud. “It’s a very interesting place to be in,” he said.

Watch the full interview below, and be sure to check out more of SiliconANGLE and theCUBE’s coverage of Oracle Cloud Platform Launch.

Photo by SiliconANGLE
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How Sprint is making customer service social Tue, 07 Jul 2015 16:28:21 +0000 Ever since @ComcastCares kicked off the social media customer service revolution seven years ago, companies have been evolving and refining their approach to handling customer service issues in a proliferating number of channels in ever-tighter timeframes.

John R. Glenn, SprintTelecommunications service provider Sprint Corp. is adopting a new approach to customer service that empowers agents to move incoming concerns to resolution across Facebook, Twitter and other social sites. The company has adopted  Conversocial, Inc.’s monitoring and customer service dashboard to enable quicker and more personalized interactions. John R. Glenn (right), vice president of care strategy, operations and transformation at Sprint, told of the results the company is having with its @SprintCare Twitter account and other social support services in this Q&A interview.

SiliconANGLE: What problem were you trying to solve?

Glenn: Simply put, our mission is to meet our customers where they are, to listen for emerging trends, and to resolve their service needs without requiring they interrupt their day with needing to call customer service. We identified a large segment of our customer base that preferred to engage with us via social media for account- and/or service-related needs.  It became increasingly clear to us that we had a great opportunity to extend our service delivery capabilities. By actively engaging our customers through social channels, we’re able to create a low-effort experience. At the end of the day, we believe this experience will foster brand advocates.

SiliconANGLE: What led you to the solution you ultimately chose?

Glenn: As we’ve evolved this channel, we’ve seen the marketplace also evolve solutions for social customer service.  We’ve had three solutions for social customer engagement since the Social Care team was formed.

At first, it was important to deliver everything into a single stream for monitoring. This was more of a listening tool approach, and it worked until our growth made it difficult for agents to find relevant conversations and not duplicate each other’s work.

Next, we deployed a tool that delivered posts to our agents so they didn’t have to search for content, but the context of the conversation was lost. As you can imagine, with our large-scale social customer service team of hundreds of agents across multiple call center sites operating 24×7, customers were dissatisfied that their posts would be replied to by multiple agents and context lost by treating each message as a separate interaction. Imagine getting one text or one line of an email from someone and having to search for the rest of the conversation. We recognized this wasn’t an effective way for our team to operate.

Our current provider, Conversocial, enables us to put the focus on the customer’s conversation with Sprint. Our customer service team members now have the full context of each customer’s interaction, whether the customer is responding to someone else’s comment within a Facebook thread or tweeting us on their own. That history is important.

We’ve also been impressed with the automatic workflow assignment feature, called PLAY, and the dashboard and analytics within the tool offered vast improvements over our prior solutions. Conversocial understands the metrics important to contact centers and also social customer service.

SiliconANGLE: What surprises or unexpected issues did you encounter?

Glenn: We did have a few issues initially. For example, there was a lack of history related to private messages being pulled into the application. There was some confusion related to messages being assigned to multiple agents as well as the dashboard and team performance not loading. Users initially weren’t able to search by customer name and some of the messages and posts weren’t routing property.

The Conversocial team was onsite for our deployments and handled issues immediately. Their developers were on standby specifically for us and their customer success team was there to assist our agents with any questions or issues that arose.

SiliconANGLE: What measurable results have you seen?

Glenn: We only had the new tool in place for about a month before we saw improvements to our key performance indicators. Almost immediately, we were been able to deliver 70 percent response time in 15 minutes or less. With our previous tool we were responding to approximately 40 to 60 percent of the time in 30 minutes or less. That’s big. Speed to respond is critical, as we know it prevents repetition, and it’s what customers have come to expect.

Creative Commons photo by Mike Mozart via Flickr.
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The perfect storm for a data breach Tue, 07 Jul 2015 15:50:47 +0000 When a severe storm hits, the destruction is palpable -homes flattened, trees on cars blocking yards and streets, and families displaced oftentimes losing all of their belongings. It’s a horrific scene most of us have seen, either firsthand or on the news. Thanks to forecasts, we typically know how storms should affect us, and to some degree we can prepare.

Data breaches are also destructive, potentially fatal to some businesses. However, many businesses can’t see them coming; they don’t have decades of cybercrime research and expertise to turn to, and the criminals are constantly shifting their tactics.

There are some standard ingredients that create the perfect storm for a breach. By knowing them, businesses can protect themselves from becoming a victim. Here are some of the most common ones.

1. Blind to risk

Too often we see businesses turn a blind eye to security. They don’t know where their most valuable data lives and they don’t have a process to track it. According to our 2014 State of Risk Report, 63 percent of businesses do not have a fully mature method to control and track sensitive data. If businesses don’t know where their valuable data is, how can they take steps to protect it?

Many businesses don’t understand what constitutes valuable vs. non-valuable data. For example, payment card information is labeled by most organizations as valuable, but that doesn’t mean non-payment card data is not valuable. Criminals also seek to steal non-financial information such as login credentials, Social Security numbers, health care information and ordinary customer contact information.

2. Too much access

Whether knowingly or not, businesses that give any employee and/or third party contractor access to their sensitive data are opening themselves to an attack. Criminals can also obtain access by guessing a weak password or social engineering. Once they log in with legitimate credentials, they can spend months stealing data without being noticed.

Privilege inheritance is also a common problem. Users are often granted rights to a business’s database, for example, because they are a member of a certain group that has rights to access the information. Criminals may also inherit privileges and log in through a user account that already exists.

3. Unsecured applications

According to our 2014 Trustwave Global Security Report, 96 percent of the applications we scanned in 2013 harbored one or more serious security vulnerabilities. The problem is twofold – application developers are not incorporating security testing throughout the full life cycle of the development process and businesses are not testing their applications to identify and remedy security weaknesses.

When we evaluate businesses’ security, we almost always see holes in their Web applications. Businesses should offer secure code training for their developers using weaknesses they uncover through security testing to show what constitutes weak code and how to make it stronger.

4. Only checking the box

Too many businesses just want to complete the compliance checklist. They want point-in-time protection versus making the investment in full-time protection. If businesses only look at security once a year, they are susceptible to a breach. As criminal tactics evolve and changes are made to a business’s environment, vulnerabilities become commonplace.

Security is a journey, not a destination. It is not achieved through a simple checklist.

5. Anti-virus is the only anti-malware protection

While anti-virus (AV) software is an important security control, it alone is no longer enough. Criminals are now creating polymorphic malware that can subtly evade AV detection. Behavioral detection is key. Businesses should analyze the malware’s behavior in real-time in an isolated environment so that no user is infected. That way they can see how the malware behaves and can strip it out in the isolated environment before it does damage.

When combined, these five ingredients create the perfect storm for a breach. However, even if just one of them exists, that business is susceptible. Employees are the front line of defense against an attack.  They should know what constitutes abnormal behavior and understand security best practices.

Businesses must also continuously monitor their networks for suspicious behavior and meticulously document their security policies and procedures. We often see situations in which only one employee understands the business’s security program; when he/she leaves the company, security is left hung out to dry. Businesses should build a tribal knowledge of their security and compliance programs. Otherwise, they may end up in the eye of the storm.

feature image via Pixabay (creative commons license)
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Doom producer promises the new game will be “a skill-based experience” Tue, 07 Jul 2015 14:00:12 +0000 While Doom may not have been the first first-person shooter, it certainly helped both define and popularize the genre, and the next title in the series – also called Doom – promises to be a return to the shooter’s roots.

“It’s quintessential Doom,” executive producer Marty Stratton told reporters on this year’s E3 showfloor. “I don’t know if that means it’s a reboot. You look out there and see how active the community is – there are still people playing it and making mods. Doom has this kind of timeless quality – the action works really well in the modern space,” Stratton said.

The original Doom was released in 1993 by Dallas-based game studio Id Software, which also created Commander KeenWolfenstein 3D, and Quake. While Doom stirred some controversy due to its violence and occult imagery, it was also praised for its high speed gameplay and imaginative level design. The game was also a technical achievement thanks to several design innovations created by Id co-founder John Carmack, who is now the CTO of Oculus VR.

Stratton promises that the new Doom will stay true to the original with fast, relentless combat.

“It’s a skill-based experience, it’s challenging,” Stratton said. “The way you use your weapons, the way you manage your resources… it’s a game.”

More recent shooters like the Battlefield or Call of Duty franchises have moved away from health packs and non-stop combat, focusing instead on regenerating health and cover mechanics. Any time players enter a room in a modern shooter that is filled with waist-high walls to hide behind, they know a fight is about to break out. Stratton explained that players in the new Doom will have no such luxuries.

“People comment on the speed of the game,” he said. “There’s no hiding, no taking cover or stopping to let your health regenerate. There are enemies all around you – but you move faster than everything else on the screen.”

Doom is still produced by Id Software out of the North Dallas suburb of Richardson, but the company is now owned by ZeniMax Media Inc., the parent company that also owns Bethesda Game Studios (Fallout 4Skyrim), Arkane Studios (Dishonored), and others. The new Doom is scheduled to release in the first half of 2016.

Screenshot via Bethesda | YouTube
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Final edition of Windows 10 will be with PC makers by the end of the week Tue, 07 Jul 2015 09:48:21 +0000 Microsoft is making history with Windows 10, the operating system that we’ve been told is the last in a long line due to the fact this OS will receive ongoing constant updates. Windows chief Terry Myerson talking about Windows as a service reiterated this last week, saying “we will never be done” concerning upgrades.

But for now Microsoft is at least almost ready to release finished versions of Windows to RTM customers (release to manufacturing). Prior to the RTM release a few builds will be released at the same time, which are what Microsoft calls RTM candidates. These go to the vote and the best one will then be released as the official RTM. Some of these builds have already appeared online. While Windows 10 will be frequently updated, the RTM released should come without any bugs. It’s essentially a finished unfinished product.

Following this the public will receive the release, starting with Windows Insiders and businesses, and then, as we earlier reported, rolling out Windows 10 in waves. As Myerson puts it: “Each day of the roll-out, we will listen, learn and update the experience.”

This is an historic moment for Microsoft, who is now coming to the end of its biggest Windows release to date. Some costs remain uncertain, but we do know that Windows 7 and Windows 8 users will be getting the upgrade for free, at least for a year. Microsoft is hoping that Windows as a service will bring in revenue from subscriptions and other services, rather than selling software licenses. Time will tell if Microsoft’s new business model will pay off. The company, as we reported here, seems very confident it will.

Photo credit: Robert Scoble via Flickr
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Big Data to accelerate Tour de France coverage Tue, 07 Jul 2015 09:41:01 +0000 South African IT firm Dimension Data Plc., a subsidiary of NTT Group, has achieved something of a coup by being selected as the Official Technology Partner of the Tour de France. The company is being tasked with powering the real-time data behind the world’s biggest cycling event, providing TV broadcasters and spectators with up to the second information on all the individual riders competing in the race.

Doing so is a pretty big undertaking, as the company says its data will be processed by its cloud platform across five continents, consuming over 350 million CPU cycles a second. The firm has also created a website especially to display real-time data of the event, which is capable of supporting up to 17 million visitors and 2,000 page requests each second.

Although it’s often associated with business processes, Big Data is also playing a transformative role in the way people can view sporting events. IBM did a similar job covering the Wimbledon tennis tournament last year, and now Dimension Data has created a platform that adds greater depth to people’s coverage of the Tour de France.

Admittedly, not everyone is a cycling fan, but the Tour de France has nonetheless grown to become one of the biggest sporting events in the world since the inaugral race back in 1903. The event kicked off last Saturday, but takes place over multiple stages and will run through till July 26.

To help spice up our coverage, Dimension Data has installed live trackers in the seats of around 198 individual racers. Data is gathered up constantly throughout each stage of the race, and Dimension’s system then processes and analyzes this before making it available to the media and cycling fans. During the three week event, Dimension is planning to introduce a range of new capabilities, such as a beta live tracking website that lets users track the current position of each cyclists, their current speed, and more.

“Until now it was difficult to understand what was happening outside of what could be shown on the live television coverage,” Dimension Data’s Jeremy Ord said in a press release. “The ability to follow riders, get accurate information about which riders are in a group, and see real-time speed are just some of the innovations that will be realized through this solution.”

When asked by Silicon Republic why the site isn’t already live, the company said it was racing against time to get it up and running. “I have a team of people in 11 cities around the world working around the clock to get this up and available as soon as possible,” Adam Foster, group executive for the communications business unit at Dimension Data, explained.

Perhaps whatever complications Dimension Data is experiencing were inevitable though, since an awful lot of data is set to flow through its website once it’s up and running. The data will be provided by a third-party geo-localization transmission component, and Dimension Data’s job is to “clean” this data, analyze it, and then provide it to the masses via real-time streaming and through historical archives. The 198 riders are likely to generate 42,000 geospatial points and 75 million GPS readings throughout the race.

At least we know the technology is sound though. Dimension Data previously tested it at Critérium du Dauphiné race held in France in June, and clocked one cyclist doing an astonishing 65 miles per hour.

“Dimension Data is bringing a new level of technical capability to the Tour de France in areas that will transform the technology landscape, including internet of things, real time big data analytics, Elastic Cloud Infrastructure, contemporary digital platforms, advanced collaboration technologies, and agile development practices,” enthused Brett Dawson, Dimension Data Group’s CEO.

“We’ll be their ‘Technical Tour de Force’.”

Photo Credit: tps58 via Compfight cc
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Samsung to post Q2 profit decline on back of incorrect Galaxy S6 sales expectations Tue, 07 Jul 2015 08:37:28 +0000 Samsung Electronics Co. on Tuesday forecast a second-quarter profit decline following a combination of lower than expected demand for its Galaxy S6 smartphone and shortages of its Galaxy S6 Edge model.

The South Korean technology giant estimated its second-quarter profit at 6.9 trillion won ($6.1 billion), a decline of four percent over the year-ago quarter. Although the estimation is a 15 percent increase over the first quarter profits, it misses the 7.2 trillion won ($6.38 billion) average of 33 analyst estimates compiled by Bloomberg.

Estimated second quarter sales fell eight percent from the year-ago quarter to 48 trillion won ($42.5 billion), falling short of analysts’ forecasts of 52.8 trillion won ($46.6 billion). Samsung will release its audited second quarter results later in July.

Despite the launch of the company’s new flagship Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge smartphones falling in the second quarter, this marks the seventh consecutive quarterly profit decline for Samsung.

According to The Wall Street Journal, citing sources familiar with Samsung’s situation, the smartphone make severely overestimated demand for the Galaxy S6 while underestimating how popular the Galaxy S6 Edge would be.

Originally expected to outsell the Galaxy S6 Edge four-to-one, demand for the Galaxy S6 turned out to be about even. This led to a shortage of Galaxy S6 Edge handsets while Samsung was stuck with Galaxy S6 devices it could not sell fast enough.

“The failure to manage the initial shipment for the Galaxy S6 series is the primary reason” for disappointing sales, said Lee Ka-keun, an analyst at KB Investment & Securities Co.

Samsung also faced increased competition from Apple’s iPhones at the high-end of the market while Chinese vendors such as Xiaomi and Huawei continue to dominate the low-end of the market.

The company did not break out earnings estimates by business unit on Tuesday, but analysts estimate that operating income from the mobile division likely declined 28 percent to 3.2 trillion won ($2.83 billion) on sales of 28.7 trillion won ($25.3 billion).

Analyst firm Nomura Securities estimates Samsung’s smartphone shipments during the second quarter at 75 million units, down 11 percent from previous estimates.

Although Samsung claims it has resolved the shortage of Galaxy S6 Edge devices, analysts do not expect it to overtake rival Apple this year – especially taking into account the upcoming launch of Apple’s next iPhone, expected in September.

Image credit: Kārlis Dambrāns via Flickr
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Google dips its toes into the ridesharing space with test of new service in Israel Tue, 07 Jul 2015 08:07:38 +0000 Google has decided it wants a piece of the ridesharing app pie by adding the feature via its Waze app, and a new app called “RideWith” in Israel for the first time.

If you’ve never used Waze before, it was acquired by Google in 2013 for $1 billion, and is similar to Google Maps except that it allows users to input details on road hazards, including the much hated by law enforcement feature of speed traps and fixed speed camera locations.

According to reports, the new service pairs commuters looking for a ride to work or back home from work on RideWith with drivers using Waze going in the same direction.

The service is said to limit a drivers’ ability to generate income by only connecting them with passengers who wish to join the same route each drive uses to go to and return in, and there’s a cap of two rides a day.

RideWith does involve payment for service  with passengers paying drivers for the ride through the app using a credit card, but payments are restricted to be only for fuel, and vehicular wear and tear. The app prices how much that is based on indices for the cost of fuel per kilometer and indices for wear and tear.

Google is said to take a cut of each payment, however, how much that cut is has not yet been disclosed.

Uber competitor?

The natural comparison to the service is Uber Inc., which while might be more known for its UberX service, also offers a similar “car-pooling” service is many locations as well; Google though has been quick to rule that out, stating that “RideWith is an experiment in the Tel Aviv area that doesn’t compete with Uber: it’s a platform built to enable local drivers to help each other during busy commute hours.”

Still, Google isn’t exactly known for not wanting to dominate spaces, and although it could be said that it’s proverbially testing the waters with the service, there’s zero question that if it’s successful it will roll out in other locations, and potentially take business away from Uber.

The trial started Monday and is limited to Android users who commute in the Gush Dan region of Israel, and can only be used during standard rush hour times.

Image credit: david55king/Flickr/CC by 2.0
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