IT Channel News Briefs, April 4

Headlines for April 4: More Dell layoffs are coming. Windows XP will be available longer. Microsoft offers training in Latin America.

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News for the week of March 31-April 4, 2008 -- in brief, updated daily, on topics important to the information technology (IT) channel.

Friday, April 4

More Dell layoffs coming

Dell plans to cut even more than the 8,800 jobs it previously announced, CEO Michael Dell told analysts yesterday. Company executives are "not satisfied with the current state of affairs," Dell said, according to Reuters, and they will need to cut more jobs to meet the previously stated goal of reducing annual operating expenses by $3 billion. Just last Monday, the company announced the closure of its PC manufacturing plant and the elimination of 900 jobs there.

Windows XP Home gets at least two more years

Microsoft will keep offering the Windows XP Home edition for certain low-end machines until 2010, or one year after the next version of Windows ships -- whichever date is later. These "ultra-low-cost PCs … typically have smaller screen sizes and lower-powered processors than more expensive mobile PCs," said Michael Dix, general manager of Windows Client product management. Such machines were meant for students and first-time PC users in emerging markets but are now expanding beyond that base, Dix said.

The company had planned to stop selling most XP versions by the end of this June, with some exceptions for white box makers and emerging markets. Dix said there is no plan to extend sales of any other Windows XP editions beyond then. Meanwhile, Microsoft continues to work on Windows XP Service Pack 3, which rolls up all previous fixes and is due this quarter.

Microsoft helps in Latin America

Microsoft will collaborate with the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and the Organization of American States (OAS) to expand a program providing technology skills training in Latin America to people with disabilities and at-risk youth. The company also announced a plan to improve classroom education in Brazil.

Microsoft and IDB have created a $4 million fund to support the program, called Partnership in Opportunities for Employment through Technology in the Americas (POETA). It will increase the involvement of the private sector -- including about 700 participating companies -- to improve job placement rates for people with disabilities in Ecuador, El Salvador, Mexico and Peru for three years. By the end of 2011, the job placement rate is expected to be 40%, with 10,000 people with disabilities trained and ready to work.

In a partnership with the Bradesco Foundation, Microsoft will create a School Technology Innovation Center, which will focus on researching and developing new educational approaches in the classroom to improve schooling in Brazil. All of the announcements are part of Microsoft's Unlimited Potential program, which makes technology available to underserved communities worldwide.

Forming a super-partner, Insight acquires Calence

Insight Enterprises Inc. acquired Calence LLC for $125 million this week, merging two of the largest solution providers in the IT industry. Another $35 million may be thrown into the deal if Calence meets performance targets over the next four years. The combination of Insight and Calence -- both based in Tempe, Ariz. -- makes the newly formed solution provider a heavy hitter in selling network components, as well as solutions and services. Calence specializes in unified communications and managed services, in addition to network build-out. The Calence acquisition was funded, in part, through a $300 million senior revolving credit facility.

Thursday, April 3

Microsoft, Symantec settle Veritas suit

Microsoft has settled a lawsuit brought by Symantec two years ago. Symantec had accused Microsoft of wrongly incorporating its Veritas data storage technology into Windows Server, Vista and XP. In a joint statement, Microsoft and Symantec said the settlement "reaffirms and extends our technical cooperation on volume management technologies." They did not disclose financial terms or other details of the settlement.

Going green saves Dell green

Dell's 2.1 million square-foot Round Rock, Texas, headquarters is now run entirely on green power, the company announced Wednesday. Dell is using a mix of renewable power sources for its 10,000-employee campus. The company also announced it would increase green power use for its Austin Parmer Campus from 8% to 17%. Its Twin Falls, Idaho, facility runs entirely on green power -- 97% wind power and 3% solar.

Operational efficiency and reduced electricity on Dell's central Texas campuses are expected to save the company nearly $2 million annually in operating costs and cut CO2 equivalent emissions by nearly 12,000 tons per year.

Oracle updates access control components

Oracle's new Application Controls Governor Release 8, available now, allows compliance officers to embed real-time preventive controls within PeopleSoft Enterprise and Oracle E-Business Suite applications. That allows fine-tuning of access, so that a manager with the authority to access some applications can be locked out of others. The product is a component of the company's overall Government, Risk and Compliance Manager, with a license list price of $3,995. The Governor is an additional $775. Neither price includes support or maintenance.

Vista SP1 giveth and taketh away

If your clients are migrating to Windows Vista Service Pack 1 (SP1), it's important to set expectations. That was the message delivered by Windows author and expert Mark Minasi at a recent TechTarget event for IT managers pondering the switch from XP to Vista. While SP1 brings improvements to the Encrypting File System, BitLocker and the startup repair tool, Minasi said, there have also been setbacks in other areas. Some IT managers interviewed by SearchWinIT.com say their Vista migrations will occur over years, not months, giving Microsoft and other vendors time to resolve lingering problems with application incompatibility and hardware drivers.

Healthcare CIOs face fiscal liposuction

When Medicare and Medicaid make budget cuts, the entire health care industry catches a cold, including midmarket CIOs. According to a survey from the Healthcare Information Management and Systems Society, nearly one quarter of midmarket CIOs in the healthcare industry face cuts or budget freezes this year, while 43% said that the specter of reduced Medicare and Medicaid payouts was affecting their IT planning. Service providers working in the healthcare market have an opportunity to help CIOs and other stakeholders prioritize IT planning as federal budget cuts and a general economic downturn begin to bite.

Wednesday, April 2

Report: Microsoft won't pay more for Yahoo

Microsoft will not increase its $44.6 billion bid for Yahoo, sources close to the company told The Wall Street Journal yesterday. According to the report, Microsoft's stance isn't posturing, and executives feel that nothing Yahoo has done since Microsoft made its bid in early February has justified a higher price. Executives in Redmond see a potential Yahoo acquisition as a major move to help them compete against Google in the online market, but the effect of such a deal on channel partners is uncertain.

IBM enhances Novus storage software

IBM has been pushing out enhancements to the Storage Enterprise Research Planner (SERP) software it acquired through its purchase of Novus Consulting Group Inc. last year. SERP interfaces with storage resource management (SRM) products from EMC, Hewlett-Packard, NetApp, Hitachi Data Systems and other storage vendors. It also creates a business intelligence (BI) layer to keep tabs on SRM products and the databases they produce. IBM said that SERP will give customers an alternative to using IBM's Tivoli software and will not be absorbed into existing IBM offerings.

Microsoft pushes mobile device management and services

Microsoft yesterday pushed further into the enterprise mobile device and services market, announcing Windows Mobile 6.1, an upgraded version of Internet Explorer Mobile and System Center Mobile Device Manager 2008.

The new products, along with the upcoming Microsoft Mobile Services Plan (MMSP), are meant to provide software and services for medium-sized and large businesses to manage and protect Windows Mobile phones in large user environments. IT managers will be able to administer mobile devices similarly to Windows-based computers.

Internet Explorer Mobile will enable desktop-grade Web browsing on Windows Mobile phones. Windows Mobile 6.1 phones and operator networks supporting Mobile Device Manager are expected to be available in the second quarter of 2008.

Oracle adds authentication to ID manager

Oracle is now offering Authentication Services for Operating Systems as part of its identity management and directory services lineup. The new services centralize user management and authentication across Linux and Unix, the company said. The software links into pluggable authentication modules for Oracle Enterprise Linux, Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL), SUSE Linux Enterprise Server (SLES), Sun Solaris, IBM AIX and HPUX.

Macs taking the enterprise? Not so fast

Anecdotal evidence, plus fresh data from Forrester Research, says recent reports of Mac resurgence on corporate desktops are way overblown, according to sister site SearchWinIT.com. Forrester numbers show Windows' share in the enterprise dropped 4% last year but that the Microsoft operating system still claims 95% of business users. Apple did see its enterprise share grow threefold to 4.2%, but the boost came from "limited enthusiasts and small workgroups."

Enterprise app vendors make their presence felt

Unified communications (UC), including presence, will be the next big thing in enterprise application products from Oracle and SAP, according to Forrester Research analyst Henry Dewing. He told SearchUnifiedCommunications.com that SAP is already working with Microsoft and IBM to make its tools available to employees using Microsoft Exchange and Lotus Notes without them having to log in to an SAP product. Dewing expects rivals such as Oracle to follow SAP's lead.

Tuesday, April 1

Dell shutters desktop facility in Austin

Dell is closing its hometown desktop manufacturing facility in Austin as part of continued cost cutting. The move is part of Dell's "broader assessment of its global manufacturing and logistics network," the company said in a statement Monday.

Dell's business has been under pressure as it seeks to add a channel component to its 23-year-old direct sales focus and its overseas growth has been eclipsed by aggressive competitors, including archrival Hewlett-Packard. Acer and other PC makers have also been able to compete with Dell on price. Over the next three years, the company expects to save about $3 billion. The company also reaffirmed plans to cut worldwide headcount by at least 8,800.

Microsoft working on System Center Online Services

Microsoft is planning an online services version of its System Center management software, according to SearchWinIT.com. The company has already confirmed asset and licensing management services, and more details are due at this month's Microsoft Management Summit in Las Vegas. Some large System Center users said they are so entrenched in the on-premise software that they won't switch to the online version, but the services may be a better sell for smaller businesses.

Juniper launches WiMAX product

Just in time for this week's CTIA Wireless 2008 show, Juniper Networks announced a WiMAX product. The Service Provider Steel-Belted Radius (SBR) Authentication, Authorization and Accounting (AAA) Server is a unified, multi-access system that will enable providers to work with evolving mobile networks as well as their existing assets.

Juniper's RADIUS servers provide centralized user authentication and access policy management for mobile operators on their networks. Juniper's SBR servers give mobile operators control over how users access and use their networks -- preventing unauthorized access, ensuring that users comply with security policies, granting the appropriate level of access to each user, and delivering accounting records to a billing/tracking system. Juniper's SBR Carrier AAA Server will support mobile WiMAX services.

No phishing: Messaging security toughens up

Crossbeam Systems and Trend Micro have joined forces to offer a new application called Next Generation Content Gateway Solution for Messaging Security. The offering combines Crossbeams' carrier-class X-Series Next Generation Security Platform with Trend Micro's gateway messaging security to block spam phishing, viruses, spyware and other email attacks. The solution also provides content filtering to prevent data leaks and enforce compliance.

The companies claim the solution outperforms traditional messaging security appliances, enabling applications like firewall, intrusion prevention and antivirus simultaneously at up to 40 Gbps throughput in a single chassis.

Analyst urges a return to SOA basics

Ron Schmelzer, a senior analyst with ZapThink LLC, is urging vendors, solution providers and enterprises not to overthink service-oriented architecture (SOA).

"The concepts of service-oriented architecture are very basic," Schmelzer told SearchSOA.com. "It's not that complicated. Can you build a service that is composable with any other service without you having to know how that service is built?"

Schmelzer noted that much of what's sold as SOA today is really old-fashioned middleware bundled with Web services. He said the way service providers should approach SOA is not by selling clients add-on technology like an enterprise service bus, but by making the best use of a client's existing IT infrastructure. Schmelzer also pointed out the need to distinguish SOA from Web services when discussing SOA with clients.

Monday, March 31

Poll: Microsoft needs a makeover

Microsoft is the global brand most in need of a makeover, according to a new survey by brandchannel.com. According to Reuters, the site asked 2,000 readers about the brand names that most affect their lives. One reader who voted for Microsoft in the makeover category said the company has gone from "innovative and bold to stodgy and follower." Apple was named the most influential brand, the most inspiring and the one that most respondents could not live without.

Google: Calling all developers

If you're developing a "cool, mobile application," you have two weeks to submit it for the Google Developers Android Challenge. Google has ponied up $10 million, and the deadline for Part 1 of the challenge is April 14.

Google is pushing Android as a platform for the aforementioned mobile apps. Developers can check out the Android Developer blog or the Android Developer FAQ.

With Android, Google is making a play for developers who have been Microsoft's lifeblood. One weak link in Microsoft's developer chain is phone handsets, where Windows Mobile does not dominate as Windows does on the desktop and laptop. Interestingly, Android puts Google at odds with ally Apple as well. Google's handset work will compete with Apple's iPhone innards. That's ironic, because Google CEO Eric Schmidt is on Apple's board. (He recuses himself from iPhone-related votes.)

Cleanup in IT: Hannaford heist an inside job?

In a report sent Friday by the Maine-based Hannaford Bros. supermarket chain to Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley, the company raises the possibility that the recent data breach at the supermarket chain was an inside job. Earlier this month, a hacker placed malware on servers in all the company's stores that lifted personal information from customers using card machines and sent that information overseas.

Several security experts interviewed by SearchSecurity.com said such a coordinated and targeted attack points to a Hannaford IT administrator with a high level of access to the company's IT infrastructure. While other security experts aren't convinced it was an inside job, they do say the breach highlights the need for layered security programs that include a company's own IT staff. In the end, PCI-DSS compliance is not enough to stop attacks.

Samsung trims sales forecast

Samsung Electronics lowered its sales forecast for this year, citing a dim economic outlook, but said its profits will still be up because of growth in memory chips, flat-panel displays and mobile handsets.

The latest forecast has the sales increase at 10% in 2008 instead of the 15% increase originally projected, according to the Associated Press. Samsung reported $7.61 billion in annual profits in 2007, up 12% from a year earlier. Still, a sharp drop in chip prices could lead Samsung to report its chip business in the red for the first quarter, which will be reported next month.

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