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In Brief

Website performance and security startup CloudFlare has acquired an anti-malware startup called StopTheHacker. The deal makes the popular CloudFlare that much more useful and also gives the company a new business to take advantage of the global infrastructure it’s building out. CEO Matthew Prince recently suggested it would get into the anti-malware space because it often has spare computing capacity that could be put to work scanning networks rather than sitting idle. Although it plans to integrate the two services more tightly, CloudFlare says it will continue operating and investing in the StopTheHacker service.

In Brief

A company called Carrier IQ is trying to help mobile carriers serve their customers better by using machine learning algorithms to diagnose problems with their smartphone, such as poor battery performance or call quality. A smart use of the technology would be for carriers to get proactive in helping customers resolve their problems before they get annoyed enough to call customer service or, in an increasingly non-contractual industry, just go elsewhere without letting a carrier know they’re leaving. The holy grail of big data, after all, is to actually be able to be proactive.

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In Brief

On Thursday, Facebook announced via a post on its engineering page that it has revamped the Thrift framework it built in 2006 (which has since become an Apache project) and is re-releasing it as open source code via GitHub under the fbthrift moniker. Thrift was created as a tool for helping build distributed applications that need to call different services written in different languages. Although it has been very useful, the post’s author explains, Facebook and other Thrift users ran into performance issues and feature deficiencies that have been resolved with fbthrift.

In Brief

A security startup called Elastica came out of stealth mode on Tuesday, and brought with it $6.3 million in venture capital from the Mayfield Fund. Elastica tries to protect corporate data scattered across the dozens of cloud services companies might be using and, like so many other security startups, is touting its use of data science techniques to accomplish its goal. Elastica does have an impressive pedigree, though, both with the Ph.Ds. on its founding team and with advisers including Rayid Ghani (Obama for America, Edgeflip), Tom Reilly (ArcSight, Cloudera), M.C. Srivas (MapR) and Ion Stoica (UC Berkeley, Conviva, Databricks).

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In Brief

Health care startup Welltok, which has developed a platform to help consumers make wise choices about their health, has raised a $22 million Series C round of venture capital. New Enterprise Associates led the round, but IBM (via its new Watson group) and Qualcomm also pitched in. One of Welltok’s products, CafeConcierge, uses Watson’s cognitive computing capabilities as the basis of its personalized medicine approach. IBM, of course, is betting big on Watson as a source of future revenue and has vowed to invest $100 million in companies willing to integrate Watson into their products.

In Brief

A robotics startup called Neurala has received a patent (No. 8,648,867) for a GPU-based system designed to run artificial neural network models. The patent covers the physical architecture of the system, which Neurala calls an “accelerator,” as well as aspects of data processing and user experience. It’s not clear whether the patent, which dates back to 2006, will affect others artificial intelligence efforts currently underway. Neurala’s business revolves around providing computer vision and navigation intelligence for robots, but GPUs are the computers of choice for many deep learning projects.

In Brief

Splice Machine, a startup promising a SQL-on-Hadoop database that can handle both transactional and analytic workloads, has closed a $15 million series B round of venture capital from InterWest Partners, along with Mohr Davidow Ventures. Supporting transactional workloads would put Splice Machine in a good position among the glut of companies and projects letting users perform SQL operations on Hadoop, because most are strictly for analytics. The big question for Splice Machine, though, might be whether companies actually want to run transactions on that data or whether they’re willing to stick to a tried-and-true database for that.

data exhaustion

Making sense of big data can be hard enough without spending untold hours having to write code or manually clean datasets that simply won’t work with existing BI tools. Trifacta is trying to automate that process with a new software product it announced on Tuesday. Read more »

In Brief

Troubled flash storage vendor Violin Memory has a new president and CEO, just months after a lackluster IPO and an ensuing scandal that resulted in the termination of its previous CEO and the departure of multiple executives. The company’s new leader, Kevin DeNuccio, has led infrastructure companies before, mostly in the networking space. He was CEO of a privately held London-based company called Metaswitch Networks, and before that was president and CEO of Redback Networks when Ericsson acquired it in 2006.

In Brief

Cloud backup provider Backblaze has moved into a new data center in Sacramento capable of storing 500 petabytes, or half an exabyte, of data. It’s not full yet (the company was storing 75 petabytes as of November), but the pace is picking up and it probably will be sooner than some might expect. The crazy part is that Backblaze isn’t even that big a company or that widely used a service. Facebook alone is building enough capacity to house 3 exabytes of data in each of its 3 cold storage facilities. Sometimes, I can’t help but think that we’re just digitally hoarding.

In Brief

A pair of MIT graduate students is working on an interesting system they think can help speed the process of analyzing data without putting it on expensive DRAM. The project uses a cluster of flash drives to store the data, with each one connected to a field-programmable gate array, or FPGA. The FPGA is really the key because it can perform calculations on the data in place before it’s sent over the network to the main processor. The architecture could potentially underpin a functional interactive database system for budget-conscious, data-heavy fields such as science.

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