Uber joins Linux Foundation, cementing commitment to open-source tools

Uber announced today at the 2018 Uber Open Summit that it was joining the Linux Foundation as a Gold Member, making a firm commitment to using and contributing to open-source tools.

Uber CTO Thuan Pham sees the Linux Foundation as a place for companies like his to nurture and develop open-source projects. “Open source technology is the backbone of many of Uber’s core services and as we continue to mature, these solutions will become ever more important,” he said in a blog post announcing the partnership. What’s surprising is not that they joined, but that it took so long. Uber has been long known for making use of open source in its core tools, working on over 320 open-source projects and repositories from 1,500 contributors involving over 70,000 commits, according to data provided by the company. “Uber has made significant investments in shared software development and community collaboration through open
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OpenStack regroups

Only a few years ago, OpenStack was the hottest open-source project around, with a bustling startup ecosystem to boot. The project, which gives enterprises the tools to run the equivalent of AWS in their own private data centers, ran into trouble as it tried to tackle too many individual projects at the same time and enterprises took longer than expected to adopt it. That meant many a startup floundered or was acquired before it was able to gain traction while the nonprofit foundation that manages the project started to scale back its big tent approach and refocused on its core services.

The height of the OpenStack hype was around late 2014, where even small startups used their copious venture funding to host lavish parties at the project’s conferences. But by 2016, it was deep in the trough of disillusionment as a number of major backers like HPE, Cisco and IBM
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Rookout launches its live Kubernetes debugger

Rookout, a startup that offers debugging tools for applications that run on modern container and serverless platforms, is launching a new feature today that brings the equivalent of breakpoints to Kubernetes.

“Traditional debuggers leave developers helpless on Kubernetes, because they can’t debug multiple ephemeral, shifting, distributed concurrent instances of code,” the company argues in its announcement. “The powerful and familiar features that debuggers provide, like breakpoints, are missing.” To get around this, developers tend to go for a more indirect way of diagnosing issues and debugging their apps running on Kubernetes. That mostly means logging and distributed tracing, both of which have spawned their own ecosystems of open-source projects and startups. Rookout argues that these systems are hard to set up and can only give you a relatively high-level view of what’s happening inside a container. While the company talks about this feature as “breakpoints,” though, we’re not talking
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Propel accelerates with $18M Series B to manage product lifecycle

We hear so much about managing the customer relationship, but companies have to manage the products they sell too. Propel, a Santa Clara startup, is taking a modern cloud approach to the problem, and today it landed an $18 million Series B investment.

The round was led by Norwest Venture Partners. Previous investors Cloud Apps Capital Partners, Salesforce Ventures, and Signalfire also participated. Today’s investment brings the total raised to over $28 million. “We are focused on helping companies design and launch products, based on how you go through the life cycle of a product from concept to design to make, model, sell, service where everybody in a company gets involved in product processes at different points in time,” company co-founder and CEO Ray Hein told TechCrunch. Hein says the company has three core products to help customers track products through their life. For starters, there is the product
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Docker inks partnership with Mulesoft as Salesforce takes a strategic stake

Docker and Mulesoft have announced a broad deal to sell products together and integrate their platforms. As part of it, Docker is getting an investment from Salesforce, the CRM giant that acquired Mulesoft for $6.5 billion last spring.

Salesforce is not disclosing the size of the stake it’s taking in Docker, but it is strategic: it will see its new Mulesoft working with Docker to connect containerized applications to multiple data sources across an organization. Putting the two companies together, you can connect these containerized applications to multiple data sources in a modern way, even with legacy applications. The partnership is happening on multiple levels and includes technical integration to help customers use the two toolsets together more easily. It also includes a sales agreement to cross-sell one another’s products and services and to work with systems integrators and ISVs, who help companies put these kind of complex solutions
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Government denies Oracle’s protest of $10B Pentagon JEDI cloud RFP

When Oracle filed a protest in August with the Government Accountability Office (GAO) that the Pentagon’s $10 billion JEDI RFP process was unfair, it probably had little chance of succeeding. Today, the GAO turned away the protest.

The JEDI contract has been set up as a winner-take-all affair. With $10 billion on the table, there has been much teeth-gnashing and complaining that the deck has been stacked to favor one vendor, Amazon. The Pentagon has firmly denied this, but it hasn’t stopped Oracle and IBM from complaining loudly from the get-go that there were problems with the way the RFP was set up. At least with the Oracle complaint, the GAO put that idea firmly to rest today. For starters, the GAO made it clear that the winner-take-all approach was just fine, stating “…the Defense Department’s decision to pursue a single-award approach to obtain these cloud services is consistent with
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Microsoft to acquire Xoxco as focus on AI and bot developers continues

Microsoft has been all in on AI this year, and in the build versus buy equation, the company has been leaning heavily toward buying. This morning, the company announced its intent to acquire Xoxco, an Austin-based software developer with a focus on bot design, making it the fourth AI-related company Microsoft has purchased this year.

“Today, we are announcing we have signed an agreement to acquire Xoxco, a software product design and development studio known for its conversational AI and bot development capabilities,” Lili Cheng, corporate VP for conversational AI at Microsoft wrote in a blog post announcing the acquisition. Xoxco, which was founded in 2009 long before most of us were thinking about conversational bots, has raised $1.5 million. It began working on bots in 2013, and is credited with developing the first bot for Slack to help schedule meetings. The companies did not reveal the price,
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Zendesk shifts to platform play with Zendesk Sunshine launch

Zendesk has always been strongly focused on customer service in the cloud. They began to look at this more broadly in September when they purchased Base to move into sales automation and CRM. Today, the company announced Zendesk Sunshine, a new platform for creating customer-focused applications on top of Zendesk’s toolset.

All of this appears to be with an eye toward shifting Zendesk from its core customer service mission to a broader customer management business. Mikkel Svane, founder and CEO at Zendesk, says Sunshine is about moving his company toward a platform play, something that many cloud companies have aspired to. “Sunshine is a platform for building your own apps, and also for managing and storing and connecting all your customer data,” Svane told TechCrunch. For starters, Zendesk is partnering with AWS to act as the infrastructure services backend for the applications built on the Sunshine platform. “You can build
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Analysts weighing in on $8B SAP-Qualtrics deal don’t see a game changer

SAP CEO Bill McDermott was jacked up today about his company’s $8 billion  Qualtrics acquisition over the weekend. You would expect no less for such a big deal. McDermott believes that the data that Qualtrics provides could bridge the gap between his company’s operational data and customer data wherever that resides.

The idea behind Qualtrics is to understand customer sentiment as it happens. McDermott sees this as a key piece to the company’s customer management puzzle, one that could propel it into being not only a big player in customer experience, but also drive the company’s underlying cloud business. That’s because it provides a means of constant feedback from the customer, one that is hard to ascertain otherwise. In that context, he saw the deal as transformative. “By combining this experience data with operations, we can combine this through Qualtrics and SAP in a way that the world has never
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Datacoral raises $10M Series A for its data infrastructure service

Datacoral aims to make it easier for enterprises to build data products by abstracting away all of the complex infrastructure to organize and process data. The company today announced that it has raised a $10 million Series A financing round led by Madrona Venture Group, with participation from Social Captial, which also led its $4 million seed round in 2017.

Datacoral CEO Raghu Murthy tells me that the company plans to use the new funding to grow its business team in order to be able to reach more potential customers and to expand its engineering team as well. The promise of Datacoral is to offer enterprises an end-to-end data infrastructure that will allow businesses and their data scientists to focus on generating insights over having to manage and integrate their data sources. Since nobody wants to move large amounts of data between clouds — and take the performance hit that
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Google Cloud wants to make it easier for data scientists to share models

Today, Google Cloud announced Kubeflow pipelines and AI Hub, two tools designed to help data scientists put the models they create to work across their organizations.

Rajen Sheth, director of product management for Google Cloud’s AI and ML products says that the company recognized that data scientists too often build models that never get used. He says that if machine learning is really a team sport, as Google believes, models must get passed from data scientists to data engineers and developers who can build applications based on them. To help fix that, Google is announcing Kubeflow pipelines, which are an extension of Kubeflow, an open source framework built on top of Kubernetes designed specifically for machine learning. Pipelines are essentially containerized building blocks that people in the machine learning ecosystem can string together to build and manage machine learning workflows. By placing the model in a container, data scientists can
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Google launches Cloud Scheduler, a managed cron service

Google Cloud is getting a managed cron service for running batch jobs. Cloud Scheduler, as the new service is called, provides all the functionality of the kind of standard command-line cron service you probably love to hate, but with the reliability and ease of use of running a managed service in the cloud.

The targets for Cloud Scheduler jobs can be any HTTP/S endpoints and Google’s own Cloud Pub/Sub topics and App Engine applications. Developers can manage these jobs through a UI in the Google Cloud Console, a command-line interface and through an API. “Job schedulers like cron are a mainstay of any developer’s arsenal, helping run scheduled tasks and automating system maintenance,” Google product manager Vinod Ramachandran notes in today’s announcement. “But job schedulers have the same challenges as other traditional IT services: the need to manage the underlying infrastructure, operational overhead of manually restarting failed jobs and lack
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Dropbox introduces Extensions for deeper integration with third-party tools

Dropbox has had APIs for years that enable companies to tap into content stored in their repositories, and they have had partnerships with large vendors like Adobe, Google, Autodesk and Microsoft. Today, the company announced Dropbox Extensions to enhance the ability to build workflows and integrations with third party partners.

Quentin Clark, SVP of engineering, product and design at Dropbox says they have long recognized the need to take the content stored in their repositories and provide ways to integrate it with other tools people are using. “We are on this journey to help this broader ecosystem get the most value possible. Extensions is another way to remove friction and allow better engagement,” Clark said. He said that while APIs could pick up content, do something with and put it into Dropbox, Extensions allows users to take action directly in Dropbox. This is part of a broader trend
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VMware acquires Heptio, the startup founded by 2 co-founders of Kubernetes

During its big customer event in Europe, VMware announced another acquisition to step up its game in helping enterprises build and run containerised, Kubernetes-based architectures: it has acquired Heptio, a startup out of Seattle that was co-founded by Joe Beda and Craig McLuckie, who were two of the three people who co-created Kubernetes back at Google in 2014 (it has since been open sourced).

Beda and McLuckie and their team will all be joining VMware in the transaction. Terms of the deal are not being disclosed — VMware said in a release that they are not material to the company — but as a point of reference, when Heptio last raised money — a $25 million Series B in 2017, with investors including Lightspeed, Accel and Madrona — it was valued at $117 million post-money, according to data from PitchBook. Given the pedigree of Heptio’s founders, this is a
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Google finally adds consumer customer support with Google One

You may recall my tale of woe from last year when I recounted how I was locked out of my Google account for a month. It was a tough time, made all the more frustrating because there wasn’t any customer support to contact. That is changing for Google One users though, and it’s about time.

I received an email this week from Google informing me that my paid Google storage had been upgraded to Google One, Google’s freshly designed storage options announced last May. It comes with twice the storage, giving me two terabytes for the same $9.99 per month I was paying for one. It allows me to share my generous storage allotment with my family members, but the thing that really caught my eye was actual customer support. With Google One, which is available for as little as $1.99 per month for 100 gigs of storage,
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HashiCorp scores $100M investment on $1.9 billion valuation

HashiCorp, the company that has made hay developing open source tools for managing cloud infrastructure, obviously has a pretty hefty commercial business going too. Today the company announced an enormous $100 million round on a Unicorn valuation of $1.9 billion.

The round was led by IVP, whose investments include AppDynamics, Slack and Snap. New comer Bessemer Venture Partners joined existing investors GGV Capital, Mayfield, Redpoint Ventures, and True Ventures in the round. Today’s investment brings the total raised to $179 million. The company’s open source tools have been downloaded 45 million times, according to data provided by the company. It has used that open source base to fuel the business (as many have done before). “Because practitioners choose technologies in the cloud era, we’ve taken an open source-first approach and partnered with the cloud providers to enable a common workflow for cloud adoption. Commercially, we view our responsibility
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Rockset launches out of stealth with $21.5 M investment

Rockset, a startup that came out of stealth today, announced $21.5M in previous funding and the launch of its new data platform that is designed to simplify much of the processing to get to querying and application building faster.

As for the funding, it includes $3 million in seed money they got when they started the company, and a more recent $18.5 million Series A, which was led by Sequoia and Greylock. Jerry Chen, who is a partner at Greylock sees a team that understands the needs of modern developers and data scientists, one that was born in the cloud and can handle a lot of the activities that data scientists have traditionally had to handle manually. “Rockset can ingest any data from anywhere and let developers and data scientists query it using standard SQL. No pipelines. No glue. Just real time operational apps,” he said. Company co-founder and
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Spoke enhances AI engine to power help desk ticketing system

Spoke, a startup that wants to simplify the way companies add and process help desk tickets using artificial intelligence underpinnings, announced it has enhanced its AI engine to allow for more complex queries.

The company founders were working at Google after a previous startup had been sold to the search giant when they encountered a problem with help desk ticket processing. It was spread across different tools and generally more complicated than they thought it needed to be. Like all good entrepreneurs, when they left Google in 2016, they were looking for their next challenge, and they decided to attack this pain point which they felt acutely in their time at Google. Like many startups, that pain point gave rise to a new company and they started Spoke . The product launched last March and the company already 150 customers. The idea with the service is to provide an intelligent
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The hybrid cloud market just got a heck of a lot more compelling

Let’s start with a basic premise that the vast majority of the world’s workloads remain in private data centers. Cloud infrastructure vendors are working hard to shift those workloads, but technology always moves a lot slower than we think. That is the lens through which many cloud companies operate.

The idea that you operate both on prem and in the cloud with multiple vendors is the whole idea behind the notion of the hybrid cloud. It’s where companies like Microsoft, IBM, Dell and Oracle are placing their bets. These died-in-the-wool enterprise companies see their large customers making a slower slog to the cloud than you would imagine, and they want to provide them with the tools and technologies to manage across both worlds, while helping them shift when they are ready. Cloud-native computing developed in part to provide a single management fabric across on prem and cloud, freeing IT from
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Cockroach Labs launches CockroachDB as managed service

Cockroach Lab’s open source SQL database, CockroachDB, has been making inroads since it launched last year, but as any open source technology matures, in order to move deeper into markets it has to move beyond technical early adopters to a more generalized audience. To help achieve that, the company announced a new CockroachDB managed service today.

The service has been designed to be cloud-agnostic, and for starters it’s going to be available on Amazon Web Services and Google Cloud Platform. Cockroach, which launched in 2015, has always positioned itself as modern cloud alternative to the likes of Oracle or even Amazon’s Aurora database. As company co-founder and CEO Spencer Kimball told me in an interview in May, those companies involve too much vendor lock-in for his taste. His company launched as open alternative to all of that. “You can migrate a Cockroach cluster from one cloud to another with
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