Welcome to This Week in Modern Software, or TWiMS, our weekly analysis of the most interesting and important news, stories, and events in the world of modern software and analytics.
This week, our top story is the ultimate fate of the fallen internet giant Yahoo.
TWiMS Top Story:
Verizon to End Yahoo Survival Fight With $4.8 Billion Deal—Bloomberg
What it’s about: Yahoo’s well-publicized struggles to remain relevant gained closure with Monday’s news that Verizon would buy the company’s core assets for $4.8 billion. Yahoo’s lucrative stakes in China’s Alibaba and Yahoo Japan—worth 10 times as much as Yahoo proper—aren’t included in the deal, which explains why the price tag is so much lower than Yahoo’s actual market capitalization. The once-towering internet giant tried to reinvent itself as mobile, social, and other technologies changed the online game, but fell increasingly behind competitors like Google and Facebook. Yet Yahoo retains significant assets, including 600 million monthly mobile users. For Verizon, the deal is apparently another bet that growth in online advertising can make up for flattening mobile revenue. The wireless titan intends to merge Yahoo’s content and advertising assets with another big name from the early days of the online age, AOL, which it bought last year, to create market heft and economies of scale.
Why you should care: The end of Yahoo as an independent company is yet another reminder that tech royalty can’t ever get too comfortable on the throne. As Fortune’s Erin Griffith notes, it was once hard to “imagine a world where Yahoo and AOL didn’t rule the Web.… Surely these were lasting empires,” Griffith reminisces, before fast-forwarding to present day: “Nope!” Facebook and Google now reign online, especially in terms of advertising revenues. And as Griffith points out, Verizon’s newly minted media empire still has to compete with them. “Verizon buying Yahoo and AOL to compete with Facebook and Google is like the New York Knicks signing Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah to compete with the Golden State Warriors,” she writes. The Washington Post offers a more optimistic take: A combined Yahoo and AOL is effectively the world’s biggest website, even if it’s not actually a single site: “Yahoo and AOL might not be trendy names, but they ranked No. 3 and No. 6 respectively in ComScore’s list of the top digital media properties in the United States in February. Add AOL and Yahoo together, and their unique visitors were 50% greater than No. 1 Google.”
- Verizon Buys Yahoo for $4.83 Billion—TechCrunch
- What Will Happen to Yahoo Sports, Yahoo Maps, and Yahoo Mail? An Exhaustive List—Slate
- The Problem With Verizon-Yahoo—Fortune
- With Yahoo Acquisition, Verizon Hopes to Grow Its New Media Empire—Fast Company
- Verizon Doubles Down on Media With Yahoo Deal—The Wall Street Journal (Paywall)
- Marissa Mayer Memo—Yahoo
- Verizon Buys Yahoo in $4.8 Billion Attempt to Bore the Internet to Death—TechDirt
- Why Verizon Wants to Buy an Ailing Yahoo—The Washington Post
Happy SysAdmin Day!—The Register
What it’s about: System administrators and other ops folks never get enough love—but July 29 is all about changing that. Happy SysAdmin Day! It’s the 17th annual edition of the only holiday dedicated to celebrating the people who keep our applications and infrastructure up and running. As The Register’s Trevor Pott writes: “This year marks the 17th annual SysAdmin day and with any luck 17-fold increase in appreciation to some of the most frequently un-and-under appreciated people in any organization. You deserve a hurrah, some cake and—for some among you—your own private island.” So go on, have that piece of cake, though good luck topping this awesomeness. The private island might be a bit of a stretch, but the internet has plenty of other suggestions on how to celebrate.
Why you should care: As the SysAdmin Day website notes: “Let’s face it, System Administrators get no respect 364 days a year.” So, hey, let’s make this day count: “This is the day that all fellow System Administrators across the globe will be showered with expensive sports cars and large piles of cash in appreciation of their diligent work. But seriously, we are asking for a nice token gift and some public acknowledgement. It’s the least you could do.” Network World offers 10 ideas on how to celebrate. Computerworld shares its own suggestions here. And #SysAdminDay will keep you plugged into how everyone else is spending the day—including a warning that ignoring SysAdmin day might lead to unfortunate consequences. Enjoy the day and know that New Relic sincerely appreciates you all!
What it’s about: The FBI confirmed this week that it is formally investigating the hack that resulted in some 19,000 Democratic National Committee (DNC) emails ending up on WikiLeaks. The contents of that cache roiled the start of the Democratic National Convention and led to the ouster of DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Shultz. Now, multiple reports are pointing to Russia as the hack’s likely origin. Motherboard’s Thomas Rid has a good breakdown of why the implication is credible. Reports of state-sponsored hacking and cyber-espionage aren’t new, of course. But as Fast Company’s Steven Melendez writes: “This is the first time that such documents have been released to the public in a possible attempt to influence the result of a U.S. election.”
Why you should care: Software changes everything, even the seamier side of politics. This election cycle was already poised to be one of the most tech driven ever: Advanced analytics, data-driven decision-making, AdTech, and plenty of other above-board innovations are being frantically applied to the world of politics. But with that comes the darker side, including hacking and espionage. Both Fast Company and Mashable published pieces that note WikiLeaks has effectively been “weaponized,” its whistle-blower roots being overtaken by partisan influence. (WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange denied Russian involvement in the email dump.) Regardless of who’s responsible, Melendez’s line above stands: A data breach, whether email or any other system, is now a political tool, one that could potentially impact the highest levels of government. It has certainly already affected the campaign trail: Republican nominee Donald Trump publicly encouraged Russia to find emails from Clinton’s private email server used during her tenure as the U.S. Secretary of State, a statement that floored foreign policy experts, though Trump later claimed he was merely being sarcastic. It’s yet another reminder of the enormous—and rising—stakes of information security.
- Why the Suspected Russian Hack of the DNC Is Such a Game-Changer—Fast Company
- How DNC, Clinton Campaign Attacks Fit Into Russian Cyber-War Strategy—Ars Technica
- Hackers Have Found a Way to Turn Wikileaks Into a Weapon—Mashable
- How WiklLeaks Has Changed: From Whistleblower to Weapon—Fast Company
- Trump to Russia: Help Find Hillary’s Emails—Computerworld
- All Signs Point to Russia Being Behind the DNC Attack—Motherboard
- Trump Walks Back Email Hack Comments, But Damage Lingers—CNN
- Obama Institutes New Directive on Cyberattacks—CNN
Don’t miss these important stories from the world of modern software:
Ring the bell for cloud computing again: Amazon Web Services just posted its best-ever quarter, raking in $2.9 billion in revenue in Q2. That’s up more than $1 billion from the same period last year, and helped Amazon beat Wall Street earnings estimates by a wide margin. The news comes on the heels of Microsoft’s own cloud-powered earnings last week, and there are positive signs for Google’s cloud platform, too. It’s getting to the point where the word “momentum,” both for AWS and cloud in general, isn’t doing the staggering pace of growth justice. Meanwhile, tech and internet giants Facebook, Apple, and Twitter also reported their quarterly earnings this week.
- AWS Revenue Hits a New Record With $2.9 Billion in Q2—TechCrunch
- Amazon Earnings and Revenues Destroy Estimates—MarketWatch
- How Important Is AWS to Amazon?—Bloomberg
- Google’s Cloud Investments Are Finally Starting to Pay Off—WIRED
- Wall Street Is Going Nuts for Facebook After Its Incredible Quarter—Business Insider
- Apple Sales Down, But iPhone 7 Sales Offer Glimmer of Hope—CNET
- Twitter Shares Slump on Lower-Than-Expected Revenue Forecast—Bloomberg
Oracle NetSuite Buy Creates Serious Cloud Contender—InformationWeek
Elsewhere in the cloud, Oracle continued moving forward with its own grand-scale ambitions in the cloud with news that it will buy cloud ERP provider NetSuite for $9.3 billion (more than twice as much as Verizon paid for Yahoo, if you’re counting). Oracle CEO Larry Ellison once famously scoffed at the cloud as a passing fad. As TechCrunch’s Ron Miller puts it simply: “Times have changed.” Oracle has been rapidly building out its own vision of a cloud empire, and that’s what the NetSuite deal is all about: kickstarting its cloud growth plans with a proven player—and moneymaker—in cloud-based software.
Software changes everything, including … software? Madrona Venture Group managing director Matt McIlwain serves up a column predicting a shift from software to “dataware.” The new approach is fueled by application intelligence (including machine learning and AI), microservices and serverless architectures, and natural user interfaces. McIlwain defines the difference: “Software is programmed and predictable, while the new dataware is trained and predictive.” It’s another addition to the ongoing dialogue about the future of software, such as WIRED’s recent “End of Code” issue. In a sense, McIlwain’s vision of dataware puts data—rather than static code—at the helm of the applications of the future: “Over the next decade, dataware will be created through training a computer system with data that enables the system to continuously learn and make predictions based on new data/metadata, engineered features, and algorithm-powered data models.”
Over at DZone, Tom Smith picks the brains of more than a dozen executives on why the Java ecosystem continues to thrive, even as other languages and platforms grow in number and popularity. Lots of good insights here, including the immense value of stability and reliability, robust open source projects, and a thriving community.
- Scientist Meets Web Dev: How Python Became the Language of Data—Slideshare
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Can’t get enough modern software news and commentary? Be sure to check out our Modern Software Podcast. New Relic Editor-in-Chief Fredric Paul and guests discuss the most important things happening in the world of software analytics, cloud computing, application monitoring, development methodologies, programming languages, and more. Listen to episode 13 or subscribe on iTunes.