Google settlement could set new misconduct standard, EU announces new data regulations and VMware acquires SaltStack to drive automation

October 1, 2020 | Posted by: Jin Woo

Published every Thursday, The Blue Print recaps the industry’s most intriguing news, unexpected shifts and developing trends that are defining the business and technology landscape.

Politico: Ahead of debate, Biden campaign attacks Facebook for allowing ‘dangerous claptrap’
The Biden campaign is dinging Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg for “regression” in the face of misinformation swirling through the popular social media platform, singling out voter fraud claims from the reelection team of President Donald Trump. “No company that considers itself a force for good in democracy, and that purports to take voter suppression seriously, would allow this dangerous claptrap to be spread to millions of people,” Biden campaign manager Jen O’Malley Dillon wrote in a Sept. 28 letter to Zuckerberg — just ahead of the first presidential debate. O’Malley Dillon emphasized a recent Trump campaign posting featuring Donald Trump Jr., the president’s son, who in a campaign video accuses Democrats of planning to proceed with fraudulent ballots, without offering evidence.Facebook had labeled the post with a note saying voting by mail “has a long history of trustworthiness.” The Biden campaign asked Facebook to go further and take the video down, O’Malley Dillon said.

Why It Matters: The first presidential debate was chaotic to say the least. What is clear is that there is growing concern about the voting process as well as what is being allowed on social platforms, which brings us to who is the arbiter of truth and how will it impact the elections and Silicon Valley. Meanwhile TikTok launched a US elections app to fight misinformation.

Tags: Facebook, Donald Trump, POTUS, Joe Biden, Mark Zuckerberg, Jen O’Malley Dillon

CNBC: Google’s $310 million sexual harassment settlement aims to set new industry standards
Google parent company Alphabet has agreed to more than 80 updates or changes to its policies and procedures around sexual misconduct and harassment as part of an extensive legal settlement. The overhaul is meant to fill gaps that executives allegedly exploited to engage in sexual misconduct or harassment, and to serve as an example for other Silicon Valley tech companies. The settlement, which includes $310 million devoted to new diversity, equality and inclusion measures, comes after a group of shareholders accused the leadership team of mishandling employee complaints of sexual misconduct and discrimination. If the settlement is approved by a judge, it will be the largest such commitment among tech companies, beating Intel’s $300 million diversity pledge it made in 2015.

Why It Matters: The tech industry has long been plagued by discriminatory practices. Now that more employees are speaking out, this settlement and update to its policy by Google could lead to broader impact within Silicon Valley and beyond.

Tags: Google, diversity, equality, inclusion

SiliconAngle: New EU regulations aim to address power of US big tech monopolies
The European Union has drafted rules that could result in profound changes to big tech’s hold on power in Europe, according to a report today. Under the “Digital Services Act,” companies such as Google LLC, Facebook Inc., Apple Inc. and Inc. might have to start sharing data they’ve collected on Europeans with EU companies. Simply put, companies won’t be allowed to harvest any data if they don’t share it with their rivals. Last month, Facebook seemed to threaten to pull out of the EU after an investigation revealed that the company’s data collection practices didn’t provide enough protection to users in the EU. The company soon backtracked on leaving Europe, but the issue of data collection is yet to be resolved.

Why It Matters: The Digital Services Act that is expected to go into effect in December will have huge implications around data collections, privacy and advertising for companies operating in Europe.

Tags: European Union, Digital Services Act, Google, Facebook, Apple, Amazon

Gartner Press Release: Gartner Says 69% of Boards of Directors Accelerated Their Digital Business Initiatives Following COVID-19 Disruption
Sixty-nine percent of boards of directors (BoDs) accelerated their digital business initiatives in the wake of COVID-19 disruption, according to a new survey from Gartner, Inc. Almost half anticipate changing their organizations’ business model as a result of the pandemic. “BoDs play a strong role in helping the executive leadership team focus beyond the short-term risks associated with this extended pandemic,” said Partha Iyengar, distinguished research vice president at Gartner. “Technology-driven digital transformation can, and should be, a strong enabler in addressing employee, customer, supply chain and broad brand impact to position the enterprise to come out of the crisis stronger.”

Why It Matters: The pandemic has increased IT spending aligned with digital initiatives followed by customer engagement and supporting remote workforces. Meanwhile finance, marketing and HR are among the areas where businesses are looking to operate a leaner.

Driven by the onset of COVID-19, digital technology initiatives will serve as the top strategic business priority for BoDs over the next two years, followed by customer engagement and managing the remote workforce.

Tags: Gartner, pandemic, IT spending, digital business, CIO, analytics, AI

CRN: Six Things To Know About the Latest Microsoft Cloud Outage
A software “code issue” resulted in a five-hour Monday evening outage of Microsoft 365 and some Azure Cloud services.Microsoft customers started reporting their inability to access their cloud-based apps on at 5:21 pm Monday —within an hour, more than 18,000 posts documenting those problems had flooded the website that tracks cloud outages. Microsoft said the issue impacted users from 5:25 pm EST to 10:25 pm EST.

Why It Matters: One of the most common reasons companies are not in favor of using the cloud are outages like these, especially when workloads include business critical applications and data.

Tags: Microsoft, Azure, Office 365, cloud, outage

ZDNet Between the Lines: VMware to acquire automation software provider SaltStack
VMware said Tuesday that it plans to acquire SaltStack, makers of event-driven automation software, to bolster its cloud portfolio. Financial terms of the deal were not immediately disclosed. SaltStack is the company behind the hugely popular Salt open-source software, which is used by IT admins to handle a range of remote execution tasks. By acquiring SaltStack, VMware said it will be able to extend its automation capabilities beyond infrastructure to the software and packages inside virtual machines and containers.

Why It Matters: Gartner predicts that 40 percent of large enterprises will use AI-augmented automation to drive higher IT productivity with greater agility and scalability by 2023. VMware is embracing the shift from VMs to containers and this move helps its customers automate repetitive tasks to save time and reduce human error in everything from IT infrastructure to customer-facing applications.

Tags: VMware, SaltStack, open source, virtual machines, containers, automation

Forbes: Google Cloud AI Prediction Service Becomes Generally Available
Google announced the general availability of AI Prediction service, a key component of its AI Platform. The service supports hosting the models trained in popular machine learning frameworks including TensorFlow, XGBoost and Scikit-Learn. The AI Prediction service acts as the last stage of the machine learning pipeline. It hosts trained machine learning models in the cloud to infer target values for new data. Trained models deployed in AI Prediction service are exposed as REST endpoints that can be invoked from any standard client that supports HTTP. The AI Platform Prediction service is based on the Google Kubernetes Engine (GKE) backend which is designed for improved reliability, flexibility via new hardware options such as Google Compute Engine machine types and NVIDIA GPUs.

Why It Matters: Google continues to invest heavily in AI capabilities to better compete with Amazon and Microsoft in the cloud. Enterprises have been hesitant to adopt Google. Furthermore issues around reliability and security remain.

Tags: Google, AI, TensorFlow, XGBoost, Scikit-Learn, endpoints, Kubernetes, NVIDIA

Bloomberg: Cybersecurity Software Firm McAfee Files for Nasdaq IPO
Cybersecurity software maker McAfee Corp. has filed to go public, adding to the roster of companies rushing to cash in on a hot market for U.S. initial public offerings. The San Jose, California-based company listed the size of the offering as $100 million in a filing Monday with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. The amount is a placeholder that will likely change.

Why It Matters: The company has repositioned itself from a consumer focused portfolio to an enterprise company but still saw a $236 million loss. Despite speculation of acquisition, the company hired Peter Leav, former CEO of BMC.Still with an estimated valuation of $8 billion, the company has decided to IPO. In other cybersecurity news, Twitter hired a new cybersecurity chief after a high-profile July breach.

Tags: McAfee, cybersecurity, IPO

SiliconAngle: VMware’s Project Monterey signals growing enterprise interest in architecture at the edge
One of the key announcements during VMworld 2020 was Project Monterey, a collaboration between VMware Inc. and three other companies to redefine hybrid architecture for a new generation of applications. Working with Nvidia Corp, Pensando Inc. and Intel, VMware is leveraging smart network interface controllers to build a consistent digital foundation on which applications can be managed and protected in any environment.

Why It Matters: Project Monterey provides a consistent management platform for distributed compute across multiple hardware accelerators as the edge becomes more important to enterprises.

Tags: VMworld, VMware, Project Moterey, Nvidia, Pensando, Intel