Welcome to This Week in Modern Software, or TWiMS, New Relic’s weekly roundup of the need-to-know news, stories, and events of interest surrounding software analytics, cloud computing, application monitoring, development methodologies, programming languages, and the other issues that influence modern software.
This week, our top story concerns Salesforce.com’s new IoT cloud and other news from Dreamforce.
TWiMS Top Story:
Benioff: Salesforce Wants to Dominate Internet of Things—USA Today
What it’s about: Salesforce.com’s annual Dreamforce conference took place in San Francisco this week, with some 160,000 registered attendees (and an additional 10,000 expected to follow online). Beyond the showmanship, celebrity sightings, and other interesting scenes, there was plenty of real business at hand. Salesforce unveiled its IoT Cloud (with Microsoft and Cisco on board as early users), upgrades to its year-old Wave Analytics platform, and the new data-driven SalesforceIQ tool for sales teams.
Dreamforce also served as the backdrop for a big announcement by Salesforce and Microsoft—one enterprise software’s “new” titan; the other a long-standing power player. The companies will be expanding their existing partnership for deeper integration between Salesforce’s Customer Success Platform and Microsoft Office, as well as new connections between Salesforce and Windows 10, Skype for Business, OneNote, and other Microsoft apps and services.
Why you should care: As with many major tech events, Dreamforce featured plenty of sizzle and glamour. (Seriously, check out the floating hotel-slash-cruise ship that some attendees slept on.) But one word underpinned the shining star power from Silicon Valley, Hollywood, and beyond: data. Lots and lots of data. And Benioff made clear that as data continues to explode with the growth of the Internet of Things, Salesforce wants to be the cloud hub of businesses trying to extract actual value out of all that information. As USA Today’s Marco della Cava writes: “Simply translated, Dreamforce’s keynote gave some insight into just how fast data is poised to transform and speed up the way business is done, driven in large part by a growing sense of consumer entitlement to great service.”
- Dreamforce 2015: Uber CEO Argues How Data Will Help Drivers—ZDNet
- Will Salesforce Wave Analytics Upgrade Be Persuasive for Users?—TechTarget
- Microsoft and Salesforce Are Getting Real Cozy—CNBC
- Salesforce.com Spreads Its Wings Into the Internet of Things—Fortune
Could iOS 9 Be Apple’s Greatest Gift to Enterprise IT?—Network World
What it’s about: On the heels of last week’s bevy of Apple announcements, iOS 9 was released to the masses this week. It’s no cosmetic update, either, with a slew of new features and enhancements, from six-digit codes (instead of the usual four) for unlocking screens to battery-life improvements to additional Siri functionality. And it wouldn’t be a major software release without some hiccups: Some users reported device crashes and other issues with iOS 9, although it appears they may be less widespread than those that plagued iOS 8.
Why you should care: While coverage of major Apple releases tend to be consumer-centric, iOS 9’s enterprise appeal may be the most compelling story here. For starters, iOS 9 resolves a significant security threat that affects Apple’s AirDrop file-sharing service on iPhones and Macs. Security researcher Mark Dowd told Forbes that the flaw affects anyone with iOS 7 or later (and Mac OS X versions from Yosemite onward), and enables bad guys within range of an AirDrop user to install malware on their device and take control of their iOS settings. Previously, the only real solution was to turn off AirDrop altogether, but iOS 9 fixes the flaw. (Mac users should upgrade to OS X El Capitan, version 10.11, according to Dowd.)
In the bigger picture, Network World’s Jon Gold writes that it’s iOS 9—rather than, say, the iPad Pro or the recent partnership with Cisco—that may be the biggest deal of all for enterprise IT. Among other reasons, iOS 9 gives IT better oversight and functionality for managing apps and security on user devices, including the ability to limit VPN access to company-approved apps like Salesforce.com while keeping personal apps and data off the corporate network.
- Apple Makes Its Biggest Push to Date Into the Enterprise—Re/code
- 23 Things You Can Do in iOS 9 That You Couldn’t Do in iOS 8—Gizmodo
- One Great Reason to Update to iOS 9 – A Nasty Silent AirDrop Attack Is in Town—Forbes
- iOS 9: How News Organizations Are Updating Their Apps for Apple’s New Operating System—NiemanLab
- Inside iOS 9: Under-the-Hood Improvements for Battery Life, Security, and More—MacRumors
- Apple Customers Report Devices Crashing on iOS 9 Update—Reuters
What it’s about: Global consulting giant Accenture announced a deal to buy the cloud advisory and services firm Cloud Sherpas this week. Cloud Sherpas is a significant partner of Google, ServiceNow, and Salesforce.com—and the latter’s Dreamforce conference was a nice amplifier for the deal announcement. Among other impacts of the deal: Accenture already had 2,700 certified Salesforce pros, and will add an additional 500 people to that team from Cloud Sherpas. Similarly, Accenture will get a boost from Cloud Sherpas’ specializations in the Google for Work suite and ServiceNow’s cloud-based enterprise software platform.
Why you should care: We’ve said it before, we’ll say it again: This cloud thing isn’t a passing fad. Accenture is a massive consulting concern and counts around 75% of the Fortune 500 firms and 89 of the Fortune 100 among its worldwide client base. While the price tag on its Cloud Sherpas buy wasn’t disclosed, at just about any figure the deal signals another big bet on enterprise cloud adoption. (Cloud Sherpas had raised more than $63 million in financing prior to being acquired.) Accenture CTO Paul Daugherty said in a statement: “We’ve reached a tipping point in cloud as our clients rapidly adopt cloud solutions.”
What it’s about: Google may be many things to many people, but it’s ultimately still a software company—a really, really big software company. In a recent presentation at the @Scale conference, Google engineering manager Rachel Potvin estimated that the software powering all of Google’s services spans 2 billion lines of code—all of which reside in the same homegrown, monolithic source repository. Wired’s Cade Metz points out that Google’s massive codebase is akin to building Microsoft’s Windows OS 40 times over. Google built its own source code repository, which houses, well, everything. (Almost everything: Wired notes that some especially sensitive code is stored separately.) It also developed its own version control system, “Piper,” to keep a 25,000-person engineering staff in sync. Most companies, to put it mildly, don’t have Google’s firepower—but that doesn’t mean they can’t take similar approaches to managing their code.
Why you should care: No matter the size and scale of your applications, the code behind them needs a place to live. And the benefits of a distributed version control system are myriad, including reduced error rates in the frequent deployments required of many cloud and mobile-driven environments. The Wired piece notes how smaller organizations can reap similar rewards with an open source tool like GitHub. Moreover, Google and Facebook are teaming up on a project to test whether the open source version control tool Mercurial, which Facebook already uses, can be extended to handle a gigantic code base like Google’s. That in turn could benefit other companies navigating the challenges of rapid growth, not just in their business metrics but in the amount of code their tech teams must support.
- 7 Great GitHub Tips and Tricks—New Relic Blog
- GitHub Isn’t Just for Engineers—It’s for Everyone, Even Poets—New Relic Blog
- How We Use GitHub to Manage Change in Software Engineering Teams—New Relic Blog
You Aren’t Good Enough to Win Money Playing Daily Fantasy Football—Bloomberg Businessweek
What it’s about: Here’s an alternative headline so that football fans don’t take it personally: “Your software and analytics aren’t good enough to win money playing daily fantasy football.” That’s the gist of a new Bloomberg Businessweek story that explores the explosive popularity of daily fantasy sports (DFS), in which people pick lineups of individual players in football and other sports and enter them into paid contests that offer cash prizes. (DFS is considered a skill game and therefore exempt from federal gambling laws.) But there’s a problem, at least for most of us: The lion’s share of the winnings are going to a relatively small group of elite players, according to the report. And it’s not that the winners simply watch more football or baseball than you do; rather, they rely on custom-built software, extensive data, and analytics to gain an edge over the average armchair quarterback.
Why you should care: Data and analytics have occupied ever-expanding space in the wide world of sports for quite a while, from the Moneyball craze in baseball to advanced metrics in the NBA to, more recently, improved analytics in tennis. Given that the entire premise of DFS is based on accruing numbers—from a quarterback’s passing yards to a pitcher’s earned run average to a golfer’s strokes in a given round—it makes sense that some contestants are gaining an edge with data and analytics. That’s especially true given the stakes: DFS sites were expected to bring in $60 million in entry fees during the first week of the NFL season alone, according to the Bloomberg Businessweek piece. That’s double the amount wagered directly on the games in Nevada sportsbooks, where sports betting is legal.
The story profiles people like Saahil Sud, a data scientist-turned-professional DFS player, who puts an average of $140,000 into play every day and earns a return of around 8%. His recipe for success includes custom software (he wrote it himself) that models expected player performance based on data automatically harvested from a variety of online sources. Sud claims he’s already earned more than $2 million in winnings this year.
How to Win by Moving to the Cloud: Lessons from the Movies—Workflow Studios
What it’s about: As more and more organizations adopt or migrate cloud apps, they can often use a guiding hand. (See “Accenture Acquires Cloud Sherpas” above.) These companies have questions: What problems can I solve in the cloud? How do I scale my IT in concert with the growth of the business? And so forth. The folks over at Workflow Studios have a fun source for the answers, and you don’t even need to leave your couch: Just turn on a movie.
Why you should care: Not just any movie, of course: Workflow’s post pairs a variety of flicks with specific business and technology problems to illustrate how the cloud can help. For instance, the movie Office Space—aside from featuring the greatest on-screen destruction of an office printer, ever—illuminates the perils of tight budgets paired with inefficiency and waste. Are you a Captain America fan? Bet you didn’t realize what Captain America: The Winter Soldier can teach you about cloud computing and IT elasticity. And did you ever pause to consider that Star Wars’ R2D2 is the original bring-your-own-device user? But our favorite might be Weird Science. When you’re going to pursue ambitious projects—and we’d say building a girlfriend with a Memotech MTX 512 computer qualifies—your on-premises resources might not cut it. The post puts it best: “Even back in 1985, Gary and Wyatt were using off-site computing power to make their dreams come true.”
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