IT Channel News Briefs, Feb. 15

News headlines for the week of Feb. 15:
  • Dell's direct storage services.
  • Storage spending slowing?
  • Microsoft reorganizes.

    News for the week of Feb. 11-15, 2008 -- in brief, updated daily, on topics important to the information technology (IT) channel.

    Friday, Feb. 15

    Dell goes direct with storage services

    Dell has launched new storage assessment and deployment services directly targeting small and medium-sized business (SMB) customers. SearchStorage.com reports that the services will include three steps: a Dell representative visit to the customer site, diagnostic tests with Dell software tools and design of a new storage environment. Dell plans to charge between $10,000 and $30,000 for the services, which will not utilize any intellectual property acquired from EqualLogic.

    NetApp: Storage spending slowing

    Network Appliance expects storage spending to slow down, according to SearchStorage.com. CEO Dan Warmenhoven made the announcement this week during NetApp's quarterly earnings call, where the company forecast $915 million to $945 million in revenue for next quarter. That's far below the $963 million that financial analysts expected, and NetApp said it reflects the economic downturn's effect on the storage market. If the company's right, it could be a tough quarter for storage vendors and their channel partners.

    Microsoft reorganizes

    Microsoft announced a slew of executive promotions yesterday:

    Chris Capossela, Kurt DelBene, Antoine Leblond, Andy Lees, Satya Nadella, S. Somasegar and Bill Veghte were all promoted from corporate vice president to senior vice president. Seven others were boosted from general manager to senior vice president: Walid Abu-Habda, Brad Brooks, Larry Cohen, Steve Guggenheimer, Scott Guthrie, Roz Ho and Brian Tobey. And as Microsoft Business Division president Jeff Raikes preps for his exit this fall, three top Office lieutenants -- Chris Capossela, Kurt DelBene and Antoine Leblond -- were also promoted to senior vice president.

    Of note to development partners is that fan favorite Scott Guthrie will retain his leadership role for the .NET Developer Platform, and S. Somasegar, now senior vice president of the Developer Division, will keep leading the overall languages and tools charge. Satya Nadella will take an even larger role in the company's Live effort, including search, adCenter and billing and will also take on MSN programming and engineering, the company said.

    Steve Guggenheimer has moved over to the company's original equipment manufacturer (OEM) efforts, to handle relationships with PC and device makers that embed Microsoft software in their hardware. He had been GM of Application Platform Marketing. Former OEM chief Pieter Knook is going to Vodafone. Brad Brooks will take on Windows Consumer Product Marketing, replacing the departing Mike Sievert.

    Roz Ho, corporate vice president of Premium Mobile Offerings, takes on the newly purchased Danger Inc. team and continues to focus on consumer-oriented mobile communications

    Red Hat talks up interoperability for Web site management

    Interoperability was the word on Red Hat's lips this week when it formally launched the RHQ project -- an initiative to create a common management platform for Web sites. The RHQ project is designed to help Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) play nicely with Red Hat's own JBoss Application Server middleware and partner Hyperic's remote monitoring systems. Under development for three years, the jointly developed RHQ project code is available at the RHQ project Web site and will be included in future product releases from both Red Hat and Hyperic.

    The RHQ announcement follows hot on the heels of Red Hat's prediction of $1 billion in revenue by 2011, with plans to have JBoss sales grow twice as fast as those of RHEL. Given this recent push for interoperability, Red Hat partners will be actively making the case that Red Hat products hold the answer to companies' Web site management woes. The announcement might also make Hyperic's partner program more visible and attractive to Linux service providers.

    Thursday, Feb. 14

    Yahoo shareholder sues

    Yahoo's rejection of Microsoft's $44.6 billion takeover bid has spurred its first stockholder lawsuit. The Wayne County Employees' Retirement System filed a lawsuit this week, asking a court to force Yahoo to consider this and other takeover bids. Microsoft offered $31 a share for Yahoo on Feb. 1 -- $12 more than the previous day's stock price -- but Yahoo's directors rejected the bid on the basis that it "substantially undervalued" the company. The Wayne County Employees' Retirement System, based in Michigan, owns 13,600 Yahoo shares.

    Oracle's small business strategy not VAD at all

    Small business is good business for Oracle, at least according to biannual results from its VAD Remarketer program. The program, launched last June, is designed to get more Oracle products in the hands of small businesses by allowing Oracle resellers targeting the small-business market to buy through Oracle-approved Value-Added Distributors (VADs), such as Ingram Micro, rather than through Oracle directly. Oracle announced yesterday that more than 250 new resellers are doing business through 25 VADs.

    Vista SP1 coming sooner for some

    Microsoft Developer Network (MSDN) subscribers can get their mitts on Windows Vista Service Pack 1by the end of the week, according to the winbeta.org blog. Microsoft has been back and forth on different release dates to different constituencies for weeks now, since it announced that Vista SP1 released to manufacturing Feb. 4. At that time, Microsoft said the operating system bits would be pushed out via Windows Update in mid-March and other customer downloads would be available in April. That delay sparked grumbling among partners and customers, which the company is trying to address.

    A week later, Mike Nash, corporate vice president of Windows product management, blogged that the company started providing the RTM code to formal beta testers late on Feb. 8, and that volume customers could get the software at the end of this week. MSDN and TechNet Plus subscribers will be able to get the code at the end of this month, according to Nash.

    Microsoft writes a new script for Windows admins

    In a departure from the traditional GUI-based approach to Windows administration, Microsoft is pushing a command-line scripting language called PowerShell. According to SearchWinIT.com, a lack of scripting skills could now derail the career of a Windows admin. The reason: PowerShell is at the heart of Exchange Server 2007, System Center Operations Manager and Microsoft's forthcoming desktop and server products. Microsoft touts the advantages of PowerShell over a GUI, and command-line tools are now being used for Windows security administration, but some IT managers are wondering aloud why Microsoft would revert to scripting when their GUI approach to Windows administration was so popular in IT circles.

    Gates promises more SharePoint backup

    Microsoft chairman Bill Gates promised more resources will flow to SharePoint technical support and services. Speaking at the Office Developers Conference in San Jose last week, Gates addressed a question about the bottleneck of SharePoint technical support queries, saying that sales of the latest SharePoint 2007 had exceeded expectations and promised to invest more in technical support services to ease that concern, according to SearchWinDevelopment.com.

    Wednesday, Feb. 13

     

    Reports: News Corp., Yahoo talking

    News Corp. and Yahoo are in talks to thwart Microsoft's takeover bid, according to two published reports. Silicon Alley Insider reported the discussions yesterday, and TechCrunch followed with confirmation and more details. According to those details, News Corp. would spin out its Fox Interactive Media (which includes MySpace) into Yahoo as part of a $15 billion investment in the company. That would put News Corp. in control of Yahoo and Fox Interactive Media, making it the No. 2 most-viewed entity on the Web behind Google, TechCrunch said.

    Meanwhile, Yahoo laid off more than 1,000 employees Tuesday as part of plans announced before Microsoft made its unsolicited acquisition bid.

     

    Business Objects gets unstructured

    Business Objects has released XI 3.0, adding support for unstructured data and data traceability to its business intelligence feature portfolio. It is the first Business Objects release since the company was acquired by SAP last October for $6.8 billion. Business Objects XI 3.0 is available through on-demand distribution, in addition to on-premise and appliance mode. The company has 90,000 on-demand subscribers, a Business Objects executive told sister site SearchSAP.com.

    ERP SaaS fails to impress

    Despite a forceful shove by SAP last year, coupled with predictions of 10,000 Business ByDesign customers in two years, enterprise resource planning Software as a Service (ERP SaaS) is failing to impress midmarket CIOs. CIOs said ERP is too complex -- too "roast-to-order," as one put it -- for the SaaS model to handle. Some CIOs are also raising the age-old bugbear about control over one's own data.

    SAP entered the ERP SaaS game because it was convinced that midmarket and enterprise customers wanted a higher-end ERP SaaS solution than Salesforce.com was offering, but the evidence so far seems to argue otherwise. Instead of a high-end ERP SaaS solution, many midmarket CIOs are deploying ERP software in their own data centers. One company saying "I told you so" is Oracle -- CEO Larry Ellison said last September he doubted that the Business ByDesign market was really as big as SAP thought it was. The upshot for ERP service providers is that they should continue to adapt ERP solutions to the business needs -- and comfort levels -- of their clients.

    Alfresco dines on controversy

    A recent survey by open source content management system (CMS) vendor -- and Red Hat partner -- Alfresco is creating its own FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt) about Red Hat rival Novell. Whether this is intentional remains unclear, though some observers have drawn that conclusion. The survey of 35,000 Alfresco users shows that two flavors of Linux, Ubuntu and Red Hat Enterprise Linux, have a faster deployment rate than Novell's SUSE. Alfresco says this indicates flat growth for SUSE, but analysts caution that extrapolating from Alfresco's user base and generalizing about the larger marketplace is a mistake. Overall corporate usage statistics indicate that Red Hat dominates the AMD/x86 space, while Novell remains stronger in mainframes.

     

    Patch Tuesday focus on Office, IE

    Microsoft released 11 security updates on yesterday's Patch Tuesday. The top priority should be patching Office and Internet Explorer, vulnerability management experts told SearchSecurity.com. Attackers tend to go after applications instead of operating systems because they can take advantage of end users, who typically aren't as savvy as IT managers.

    Sun circles Earth

    Sun Microsystems and Frontline Technologies Corp. Ltd. have established a joint venture in Vietnam. Sun Vietnam is the first joint venture in the New Sun Equity Partner program, a new worldwide partner program built to help penetrate emerging markets, the company said. Sales offices are expected to open in both Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City later this year.

    Tuesday, Feb. 12

    Microsoft still pursuing Yahoo

    Microsoft has responded to Yahoo's rejection of its $44.6 billion takeover bid. In a statement released yesterday, the company called the move "unfortunate" and indicated that a hostile takeover is possible.

    "As we have said previously, Microsoft reserves the right to pursue all necessary steps to ensure that Yahoo's shareholders are provided with the opportunity to realize the value inherent in our proposal," Microsoft said.

    And although Yahoo may have fought off Microsoft's initial advances, Danger is now aboard. Microsoft is buying Danger, a maker of slick Web services for phones and a popular user interface for phone handsets including T-Mobile's Sidekick. The move is seen as an attempt by Microsoft to bolster its Windows Mobile push. Terms were not disclosed.

    Salesforce.com stalks Oracle, eyes Google

    Saleforce.com is reportedly offering itself to Oracle for $75 per share and at the same time issuing the 25th release of its Software as a Service (SaaS) platform -- moves that could either create new integration opportunities between Salesforce.com and Google or make the two companies major competitors. The new SaaS release features collaboration and content management, and Google added teamwork capability to its online suite of office tools last week, but few analysts see Google's first-generation offering as a serious rival to Salesforce.com's hosted customer relationship management (CRM) product -- at least not yet.

    Meanwhile, for service providers, the chatter about Salesforce.com and Google shows that SaaS continues to be popular in the enterprise, and that popularity doesn't show signs of waning anytime soon. As one Salesforce.com partner said last December, "There's a huge opportunity for third parties. They say on-demand implements itself. For enterprises, that's just not the case."

    Virtual servers need better management

    Even though server virtualization is being adopted in data centers large and small, only 45% of large-enterprise IT managers surveyed by CA Inc. say they have virtual server management under control. As a product marketing manager at CA told our sister site SearchServerVirtualization.com, "We think management will become more of a priority in the next eight to 10 months, as virtualization becomes mainstream and people start seeing issues like virtual server sprawl." For CA partners who sell and configure CA products, virtual server management could be the next big thing.

    Windows Server 2008 migration tips

    Microsoft released Windows Server 2008 to market last week, and partners are getting ready to perform customer migrations. But before they do, they should help their customers decide when is the best time to make the move. SearchWinIT.com expert Gary Olsen has offered up some Windows Server 2008 migration timing tips. He says the most important factors to consider are the risk of bugs and other problems that can come with an early migration and the cost savings that could be missed if the migration happens too late.

    New code search tool sounds like 'Google'

    Krugle has updated its enterprise code search tool. Krugle Enterprise 2.0 runs in an appliance inside the firewall to help developers find and organize software code. The new release can be configured to support any software configuration management (SCM) system. Search accuracy has been improved, and the tool can manage bigger code sets and more frequent updates than before, the company said. Krugle's technology runs with IBM developerWorks, CollabNet, SourceForge.net and Yahoo Developer Network. Also new: An OpenAPI to let developer partners embed Krugle code search into their own systems.

    Monday, Feb. 11

    Microsoft emails: 'We botched this'

    Microsoft allowed manufacturers to place "Windows Vista capable" stickers on PCs, despite knowing that the machines couldn't run Vista's advanced features, according to internal emails. The emails came out in U.S. District Court on Friday, during a hearing on a lawsuit about the stickers, according to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. In one email, a Microsoft employee wrote that "even a piece of junk will qualify" for the sticker. And in another, an executive acknowledged, "We really botched this." Plaintiffs in the case are asking a judge to grant their case class-action status.

    Yahoo sheds a few hosting tiers

    Yahoo unveiled Friday a new Web hosting plan for small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) that charges a flat rate of $11.95 for unlimited data and email storage. The company thus eliminated its previous tiered pricing model, which analysts said was confusing to customers. The move should help Yahoo compete on pricing and features with hosting plans from Microsoft.

    Most important for SMBs is Yahoo's free 24/7 tech support, which comes as part of the flat monthly rate. Of course Yahoo's move still leaves plenty of room for managed service providers (MSPs) that offer server virtualization, email archiving and other services.

    Coming: Bluetooth-Wi-Fi links

    Next year, Bluetooth and existing Wi-Fi-enabled devices will be able to work together. The linking of the two wireless technologies will make it easier to transmit music or photographs between computers and cell phones, and Michael Foley of the Bluetooth Special Interest Group said the first gadgets to make use of the new technology should be on shelves in mid-2009, according to the Associated Press.

    Microsoft finds new OEM chief

    Microsoft will tap insider Steve Guggenheimer as its next original equipment manufacturer (OEM) chief, according to All About Microsoft. The job was last held by Scott Di Valerio, who left Microsoft for Lenovo in late October. The corporate vice president in this position deals with PC and device makers that embed Windows and other Microsoft software in their hardware.

    Yahoo's anyone-but-Microsoft strategy

    With Yahoo's board of directors reportedly set to reject Microsoft's takeover bid today, the company is trying to restart merger talks with AOL, according to Reuters. Yahoo also approached Google and Disney about new ways in which the companies can work together. Microsoft still has the option of sweetening the deal and taking it directly to Yahoo shareholders, so service providers -- especially Microsoft partners -- should stay tuned.

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