Big Blue back on the attack, analysts cautious

(Reuters) – IBM shares surged 5 percent on Wednesday after the world’s first big computing company beat expectations on third-quarter revenue and gave an outlook that hinted it was back on a growth track after six years in retreat.

There was no initial sign of changes to major brokerage trading recommendations or price targets for International Business Machines Inc and most shied away from calling a complete turnaround in the company’s fortunes.

But the results pushed Big Blue shares 4.7 percent higher to $ 153.40 in premarket in New York, in stark contrast with a nearly 12 percent fall so far this year.

“We were pleased to see the quality of IBM’s earnings improve, with IP income and taxes being less of a driver of upside than in prior quarters,” Deutsche Bank analyst Sherri Scribner wrote in a note.

While IBM has struggled more than peers such as Oracle Corp and Microsoft Corp to adjust their approach to a changing market, the quarterly performance of its software business was noteworthy given its presence in key software markets, Jefferies analyst John DiFucci wrote in a note.

IBM’s revenue has fallen for 22 straight quarters as weak demand from customers left its legacy hardware and software businesses stagnating.

The results showed revenue from IBM’s cloud, cybersecurity and data analytics business rose 11 percent to $ 8.8 billion in the quarter, accounting for about 46 percent of total revenue.

The company’s software revenue also grew for the first time after 13 consecutive quarters of declines.

“We see the business as secularly challenged due to its high exposure to a legacy business model, and see continued margin pressure over the long-term as IBM’s business is pressured by competition from lower-cost offerings and the cloud,” Deutsche Bank analyst Sherri Scribner wrote in a note.

But she added: “We are modestly adjusting our FY-17E EPS higher on a lower share count and some additional mainframe sales.”

Out of 25 analysts covering the stock, only 6 have a “buy” or higher rating, 15 are on “hold”, and 4 have a “sell” or lower. They have a median price target of $ 154.50.

Reporting by Supantha Mukherjee and Sonam Rai in Bengaluru; editing by Patrick Graham

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Google Calendar Has Been Completely Revamped for the Web

It’s a total redesign. Here’s what you need to know.

Google’s popular online Calendar has received a redesign.

The search giant said Tuesday that its Calendar app for desktop computers has been upgraded to resemble its more nimble and aesthetically pleasing counterpart for smartphones.

The updated Calendar app seems primarily geared toward customers of Google’s G Suite lineup of business apps, formerly known as Google goog Apps for Work.

With the new update, corporate IT administrators will be able to set up office conference rooms into the app, so people can see whether or not a particular room has been booked for meeting on their digital calendars.

Once set up, employees can search for conference rooms via the Calendar app and book the space and invite other workers to any meetings they set up. They will also be able to see whether those conference rooms contain any particular audio or video equipment or if they are wheelchair accessible if their IT staff properly configured the digital calendars.

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People will also be able to add any spreadsheets or documents related to their meetings directly to the Calendar app, so people can access the necessary files without having to open other apps like Google Drive.

If an employee receives an invite for a meeting, they will see a portion of their calendar blocked off in the calendar app that’s “all in one color,” according to a tutorial on the new calendar. If people indicated that they will “maybe” attend the proposed meeting, they will see diagonal lines instead of one color, and if they haven’t replied, they will “just see the event’s outline” in the calendar app.

Customers can also choose to hide the weekends from their calendar so they can only see their workweek, according to the tutorial. They can also choose to see a view of the entire year truncated into calendar form.

Google plans to automatically convert its current calendar app to the updated version between Nov. 14 and Nov. 28. Interested companies can choose to manually update the app starting Tuesday.

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Exclusive: This Startup Just Nabbed $5 Million to Solve a Thorny Software Problem

Deploying business software has gotten very complex.

Backplane, a startup that says it can help companies manage the complex software deployments of the cloud computing era, has emerged from stealth with $ 5 million in seed funding—and a service it says can ease the headaches of deploying new-age software.

Now that nearly every business, whether it’s a media company or an automaker, also builds its own software for its website or employee sites, the pain of building and running business software is ubiquitous.

San Francisco-based Backplane says its newly available Backplane Core service will help those companies manage how their data flows whether it ends up running on Amazon Web Services amzn or some other cloud data center, internal data centers, or all of the above.

Company founder Blake Mizerany was the first engineer hired at Heroku, a popular software development platform purchased by Salesforce crm for $ 212 million seven years ago and, more recently, CoreOS, so he knows a lot about how software is built.

Related: This Respected Tech Exec Is Leaving Salesforce for Amazon

With companies using software containers, mixing and matching various services, and putting their processes in various clouds, the problem is how to manage an efficient and secure data flow between on-premises data centers and various clouds.

That’s a lot of complexity. Companies now have to think about what’s running in various cloud data center regions and virtual public clouds (VPCs) within those configurations. (VPCs are computing resources in a shared public cloud and cordoned off for use by a single customer.)

“Customers would ask how we did this at Heroku, and my sad answer was that we had to build all our own load balancers and proxy servers and let them spread traffic across data centers to the cloud,” Mizerany tells Fortune. The truth is that most companies don’t want to have to worry about that stuff, so the new Backplane Core service, available as of now, will take that off their plate, he says.

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Byron Sebastian, Heroku’s former CEO and a former senior vice president at Salesforce, advises the company. The explosive changes in how software is built and deployed—much of it the work of companies like Heroku— has caused a bit of what he calls a “hangover.”

Related: Microsoft Expands its Azure Cloud Data Centers

“How do you manage all these different services? How do they find and secure one another? Right now, the answer to that is a lot of difficult manual labor,” Sebastian says. “Blake’s idea is to put more power into the hands of technologies and let them manage the network connectivity.”

The big promise of Backplane Core, he continues, is it will give customers one dashboard to manage that data flow, regardless of where it happens.

The seed round was led by Baseline Ventures with a contribution from Harrison Metal. Backplane and its nine employees will use the funding for further investment in sales, marketing, and product development.

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