Microsoft vet throws open Snowflake data warehouse
Startup Snowflake Computing has opened its cloud-based data warehouse service for business. The company, headed by Microsoft veteran Bob Muglia, is offering a service that lets companies pool all their data and workloads in a single warehouse that can be accessed by all their users. It's also capable of taking in both structured and semi-structured data.
Google brings a green data center to a coal-fired plant
Google is building a new data center inside a former coal-fired power plant in Alabama, and is asking the regional utility to find renewable energy sources and bring them online to power the facility, the New York Times reports. It pointed out the practical reasons to use the old plant: it's a solid building, obviously has good power lines, and also has access to lots of water needed for cooling.
Facebook now lets you use Messenger without a social network account
In an effort to expand the reach of its messaging system, Facebook has dropped the requirement that users of Messenger also have an account on the social network. All users need to sign up are a first and last name, phone number and photo -- oh, and residency in the U.S., Canada, Peru, and Venezuela, as the deal's not available anywhere else just yet. Those without Facebook friends can upload phone contacts to find people to start messaging with.
Pressure mounts in Europe to treat Internet giants as critical infrastructure
It's nice to be considered important -- until being so important means you have to bring your cybersecurity standards up to par with, say, banks or utilities. The European Commission wants rules about protecting networks from hackers and disclosing data breaches to cover enablers of key Internet services. While the European Parliament last year rejected the idea that e-commerce platforms, social networks, search engines, cloud computing services and app stores should be held to the highest security standards, the Commission has now won over ambassadors from the EU member states to its point of view.
Politicians put the brakes on Internet's move from U.S. oversight
Not so fast: U.S. lawmakers aren't ready to let ICANN, which coordinates the Internet's domain name system, slip from the American government's control. The House voted overwhelmingly Tuesday in favor of a bill that gives Congress 30 days to review alternative governance models for ICANN before a transition occurs. Many Republicans initially objected to ending U.S. oversight, fearing other governments would attempt to take control of ICANN, but most Democrats supported the move, saying it's time to show the rest of the world that the U.S. doesn't exert undue influence over the organization.
IBM, Box partner on cloud analytics technologies
In a mashup of AI and cloud technology, IBM and online storage firm Box have formed a wide-ranging partnership that will allow Box users to apply Watson Analytics know-how to their content while IBM customers can use Box's content collaboration platform. The international alliance is designed to make large volumes of data easier to use, especially for enterprise users in financial services, healthcare, law and engineering that are relying more and more on cloud data.
Your next Java update could make Yahoo your default search engine
Yahoo is still trying to grow its very small share of the search market by cutting deals that give it the default position in users' browsers. The latest: an agreement with Oracle means that when people are prompted to update to the next version of Java, they'll be asked if they want to make Yahoo their default search engine on Chrome and Internet Explorer -- and the "yes" position is the default reply. At the end of April, Google had 64 percent of desktop search traffic in the U.S., followed by Microsoft with 20 percent and Yahoo with less than 13 percent, according to comScore.
GM looking at over-the-air vehicle updates
General Motors is working on a new vehicle systems architecture that would update cars with new features over the air, as Tesla is already doing with its Model S sedan, Reuters reports. GM global product development chief Mark Reuss said the plan is to make cars' computer systems cloud-based, and it's looking to Boeing and military contractors for inspiration on strong network security.
Warner Brothers on Wednesday made the stunning decision to suspend sales of the PC version of its latest blockbuster game, Batman: Arkham Knight, after thousands of users complained about the buggy port. PC World put the game through its paces on a fully loaded, $11,000 gaming PC and shot the results.
One last thing
It's not just produce farms dealing with problems from drought in California, but server farms as well. Massive data centers in the region are facing up to their reliance on water for cooling systems.