Weekly Business Review: Cisco, HP, Amazon, Yellowfin, Nieman Journalism Lab

Lots happened the past week in the social media, social business, big data and business intelligence world. Read below a review of the most interesting happenings and developments that caught my particular attention. What news did you find the most interesting?

Social media and social business

Amazon buys Goodreads: publishing-oriented social media site

Amazon announced that the company had acquired Goodreads, one of the leading social media sites for book lovers. Founded in 2007, Goodreads allows users to track books they want to read, read user reviews and start book clubs.

Members add “want to read” recommendations to their virtual bookshelves at the rate of more than four books per second. Goodreads fits with Amazon’s evolving digital strategy by complementing its “x-ray” technology, which pulls up additional information for users of its Kindle reading platform and Prime video streaming service.

Goodreads has emerged as an important platform for digital discoverability.

Russ Grandinetti, Amazon Vice President, Kindle Content said:

“Goodreads has helped change how we discover and discuss books and, with Kindle, Amazon has helped expand reading around the world. In addition, both Amazon and Goodreads have helped thousands of authors reach a wider audience and make a better living at their craft. Together we intend to build many new ways to delight readers and authors alike.”


Social media engagement still matters according to Nieman Journalism Lab at Harvard University

A compilation of studies published on March 27 from the Nieman Journalism Lab at Harvard University highlights the importance of social media engagement. The Nieman Journalism Lab points to a study from the University of Iowa that mentions users who develop audience engagement on social media platforms are seeing positive results.

The Nieman Journalism Lab brings attention to how social media is influencing both traditional journalism and the business world. Interacting with followers on social networks is a crucial part of building a strong presence. Forbes highlights that “real engagement” with audiences is what separates many success stories from the failures.

Social media engagement is often defined as the real interactions that happen on these networks. Social media engagement is a concept that is being embraced by many people. Both are examples of how social media users are trying to get their audiences interested in the content that is posted.

Social media engagement relies on daily interactions between users to survive.


Big data

IT struggles to manage Big Data

The Cisco Connected World Technology Report (CCWTR) surveyed 1,800 IT professionals across 18 countries to examine the IT readiness, challenges, technology gaps and strategic value of implementing Big Data projects.

For example, while 60 percent of respondents agreed that Big Data will help improve decision making and increase their competitiveness, only 28 percent report they are currently generating strategic value from their data.

More than a third (38 percent) said that although they have a Big Data solution, they need a strategic plan to take advantage of Big Data. IT pros said there were several obstacles to fully adopting Big Data solutions, with security, budgets and staffing problems topping the list.

They cited the sheer volume of data, the number of ways to access data, and lack of budget for security as the top reasons why securing Big Data projects is such a challenge.

Almost a quarter said they didn’t have enough staff with the right skills to manage their Big Data projects.

Over half the respondents expected Big Data strategies to increase their IT budgets in 2013. The vast majority (81 percent) said all or some Big Data projects will require cloud computing capabilities, and nearly half (48 percent) said network loads would double over the next two years.


SUSE is preferred OS among top Big Data innovators

SUSE announced its enterprise Linux platform is a preferred OS for running Big Data solutions among top Big Data solution providers.

SUSE Linux Enterprise Server is designed to harness the volume and velocity of Big Data. As a result, enterprise Linux products from SUSE have been chosen to run today’s most innovative Big Data technologies including in-memory database, data warehouse and Apache Hadoop-based solutions.

Teradata delivers its entire portfolio of solutions exclusively on SUSE Linux Enterprise, including the Teradata Aster Big Analytics Appliance, which brings together open source Apache Hadoop and Teradata Aster into a single highly integrated appliance based on SUSE Linux Enterprise.

In addition to long-time partnerships with SAP and Teradata, SUSE recently expanded its Big Data partner ecosystem to include the Intel Distribution for Apache Hadoop, InterSystems Corporation, Cloudera, Hortonworks and WANdisco — all of whom offer Big Data solutions fully supported on SUSE Linux Enterprise Server.

Michael Miller , vice president of global alliances and marketing, SUSE, said:

“The explosion of data in the enterprise and the opportunity to mine it for valuable business information has resulted in huge interest in Big Data solutions from our customers. Our partnerships with market leaders like SAP and Teradata mean that thousands of businesses worldwide are already deploying SUSE Linux Enterprise Server today as the foundation for their Big Data solutions.”

Business intelligence

Platfora releases in-memory Business Intelligence platform

Backed by top-tier venture capitalist and led by EMC Greenplum veteran Ben Werther, Platfora pitches its platform as a modern-day replacement for the data warehouse. Platfora’s primary competition is the stop-gap approach whereby companies are pulling boiled-down data sets and aggregations from Hadoop and analyzing them on relational databases using conventional BI tools.

“We tend to see companies aggregating to data marts, but we’re replacing that model and accelerating the ability to get at all the data rather than just a subset,” said Werther, Platfora’s founder and CEO.

Platfora’s software creates a catalog that enumerates the data sets available on leading Hadoop platforms including Amazon Elastic MapReduce, Cloudera, HortonWorks and MapR (with Intel and ECM Greenplum distribution support coming). Behind the scenes, Platfora’s software generates and executes the MapReduce jobs required to bring all the requested data into a “data lens.”

Adding new data types or changing the dimensions in a data lens takes minutes or hours, says Platfora, not the days or weeks it might take to rebuild a conventional database schema.

Platfora has about 20 beta customers now moving into production, according to Werther. Platfora has been able keep up with fast-changing usage patterns and data structures as Riot adds new features to its games.


NuWare collaborates with Yellowfin to deliver easy-to-use Business Intelligence solutions

NuWare Technology Corp., a provider of Mobility, Big Data Analytics, and Cloud Infrastructure Management solutions to Life Sciences, Capital Markets, and Retail industries has forged a strategic alliance with Yellowfin, a global Business Intelligence Software firm.

The agreement will see NuWare make Yellowfin’s easy-to-use BI solution, and associated training and implementation services, available to its broad range of corporate and government customers worldwide.

VP Solution Marketing & Innovation at NuWare, Sona Shyam, said that Yellowfin’s consumer-oriented BI solution would enable NuWare’s current and future clients to make widespread self-service BI deployments a reality.

Sona Shyam’s comments were echoed by NuWare’s Sr. Vice President Sales & Customer Success, Neel Mukerji.

“Yellowfin’s BI technology has responded to the fact that BI is becoming an increasingly business owned and driven initiative,” said Mukerji.

“Increasing Yellowfin’s visibility and marketplace penetration throughout crucial regions, such as North America and Asia-Pacific, is an ongoing priority,” said Rabie.


Cloud computing

HP Cloud executives to invade OpenStack Summit.

Saar Gillai, SVP and GM, HP Converged Cloud, is set to keynote the OpenStack Summit.

Hewlett-Packard’s (HPQ) top cloud computing executives are set to invade the OpenStack Summit (April 15-18, Portland, Oregon). HP’s strong presence at the show will come at a critical time. Like IBM, Dell and other rivals, HP is building its public cloud atop OpenStack, the open source cloud platform. But it’s difficult to judge just how much progress HP’s Converged Cloud strategy is making — especially as public clouds like Amazon Web Services seemingly gain momentum by the hour.

During previous OpenStack conferences, former HP Senior VP Zorawar ‘Biri’ Singh often delivered keynotes and led media briefings.

And that talent will be on display at the OpenStack Summit.

  • Saar Gillai, SVP and GM, HP Converged Cloud: Gillai is set to keynote.
  • Roger Levy, VP and GM, HP Cloud Services: A key person on the public cloud strategy.
  • Margaret Dawson, VP, Product Marketing and HP Cloud Evangelist: An expert on how HP Cloud Services products run atop OpenStack.
  • Eileen Evans, VP and associate general counsel, HP Cloud Computing and Open Source: A key source who works closely with the OpenStack board and community.


Cisco acquires Austrian SolveDirect

The No. 1 maker of computer networking gear such as switches and routers, Cisco has acquired Austrian software company SolveDirect. Cisco has been building up its software business through mostly small acquisitions of software companies that deal in cloud computing, a system that lets companies access their data and apps over the Internet “cloud.” Here is a recent IBD report on Cisco’s software progress. Other tech giants that aim to sell a broad range of products and services to enterprises, such as IBM and Oracle, also are expanding their cloud efforts.

Acquiring SolveDirect will help push Cisco’s move into the cloud, Hilton Romanski, Cisco’s head of global mergers and acquisitions, said in a company blog post on Monday.

“The move toward multi-sourcing and cloud services is accelerating the development of large ecosystems of companies … that need to share data in a secure and scalable way,” he wrote. “SolveDirect’s cloud-based solutions offer enterprises and service providers a flexible way to integrate with service partners and automate sharing of processes, data and work flows in real-time by eliminating manual practices and bottlenecks, driving significant operational efficiencies.”