IT Channel News Briefs, April 11

Headlines for April 11: Insecurity about IT security skills. Cisco's millionth certification. Does Windows need a makeover?

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News for the week of April 7-11, 2008 -- in brief, updated daily, on topics important to the information technology (IT) channel.

Friday, April 11

Survey reveals an insecure IT workforce

In a global survey of 3,500 IT managers commissioned by CompTIA, 73% said IT security is the top skill their employees should have, but only 57% said their employees had adequate IT security skills. The survey found that this gap in IT security is even larger in China, Russia, India and other emerging IT markets. These results should be music to the ears of value-added resellers (VARs) and consultants providing IT security services.

Cisco certification program hits 1 million issued

Cisco Systems announced that it recently issued its millionth certification, surpassing the number of Microsoft certifications issued. Cisco began issuing certifications in 1993, starting with one track -- switching and routing. It now has dozens of certifications and, in fact, added a new data center specialization this week.

But Ed Tittel, a training and certification expert and author, said the announcement of 1 million certifications isn't necessarily good news, because many individuals get Associate certifications, but very few get Professional or Expert level. The number of Associate-level certifications has saturated the market, he said.

Gartner: Windows needs an overhaul

Microsoft needs to redesign its Windows operating system from scratch to support new ways of doing business, according to two Gartner analysts. SearchCIO.com reports that the analysts, Michael Silver and Neil MacDonald, said a one-size-fits-all OS tethered to a piece of hardware prevents customers from adopting new versions and eats up more memory than necessary to run a PC.

Sorting through the Microsoft/Yahoo/Google/Time Warner-AOL/News Corp. mess

If you've lost your scorecard in theMicrosoft-Yahoo acquisition battle, the Seattle Post Intelligencer's Microsoft blogger, Todd Bishop, has a cheat sheet for you.

In the latest installments, Yahoo has started running Google's ad service and is talking to Time Warner-AOL about combining their respective Internet businesses. Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. has apparently changed sides and is now talking with Microsoft about an allegiance to get the Yahoo deal done. And …oh, never mind, just read Bishop's recap.

Fraudsters use multiple financial services channels

Financial services execs say criminals are exploiting several channels -- the Web, phone, mail and brick-and-mortar -- making it hard to track fraud and authenticate customers, sister site SearchSecurity.com reports from the RSA Conference 2008.

Exinda firms up its WAN optimization product

Exinda Networks released upgraded firmware, the v5.0, for its WAN optimization appliances that will enable speedier application performance, more caching capacity and easier installation of appliances.

The upgraded version will enable stream-based caching, which reduces repetitive traffic and improves speed. The new hard disk caching provides 1,000 times more space than before.

The firmware upgrade also aims to make implementation easier, the company said. The WAN appliance can be installed in 12 steps and does not require centralized configuration. As a result, Exinda applications immediately recognize each other, so new ones can be added to the network at any time. The new firmware is available now, and Exinda customers with current software subscription contracts can download it for free at Exinda Updates.

Thursday, April 10

Systems products of the year

SearchSystemsChannel.com has compiled a list of data center, data management, customer relationship management (CRM) and call center Products of the Year from our TechTarget sister sites. The list also features top Windows hardware and software management tools. Check it out and learn what products your customers will be clamoring for this year.

Sun sparks up two new high-end servers

Sun Microsystems and Fujitsu Limited now offer two enterprise servers based on the new UltraSPARC T2 Plus microprocessor. The T5140 and T5240 servers are the first dual-socket, general-purpose servers using the CPU, the companies said.

Both vendors will sell the servers, which feature Sun's Chip Multithreading (CMT) technology. The vendors claim the hardware drives five times the performance per watt into half the space of predecessor machines. The servers suit large-scale Web and database applications.

Symantec snaps up AppStream

Plan on hearing a whole lot more about endpoint virtualization, now that Symantec has purchased AppStream. According to InformationWeek, the venture-capital-backed company will be folded into Symantec's endpoint virtualization group, which already includes brainpower Symantec acquired after it purchased Altiris in January 2007.

AppStream, which offers software licensing management combined with on-demand streaming, has been an object of Symantec's original equipment manufacturer (OEM) affections since 2006, so the purchase doesn't come as a huge surprise. It does, however, seem to confirm speculation in the blogosphere that Symantec has corporate desktop virtualization, turf staked out by VMware and Microsoft, in its sights.

PCI-DSS to get an upgrade

A revision of the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI-DSS) will come in September, according to PCI Security Standards Council general manager Bob Russo. SearchSecurity.com reports that some of the areas that will be tweaked or clarified will be around wireless implementations, application security and pre-authorization. A "beta" version of the new PCI-DSS will be shipped out in August, so PCI Security Standards Council members can weigh in before the revisions go live.

CommVault strengthens data protection and archiving suite

CommVault Systems Inc. announced an updated version of its Simpana 7.0 data protection and archiving suite, adding a new workflow between its replication and single-instance storage engines, e-discovery search, legal hold capabilities and support for Windows Server 2008, SearchStorage.com reported yesterday.

CommVault will support Microsoft's newest release, Windows Server 2008, along with Office, Exchange 2007 and SharePoint 2007. Included in this new support is the CommVault storage resource management (SRM) module, which allows customers to migrate files between disk arrays based on policies or classification. Support for new Windows applications also includes CommVault's "release-independent" feature, which the company claims can help users migrate between Exchange 2003 and 2007 by doing a full backup, then restoring the data to a new server with no conversion in between.

CommVault's continuous data replication has been realigned to keep from sending duplicate data over the wire. The Simpana archiving module will now support collaborative tagging and saved searches on disk, tape and archive repositories. Also in the archiving module is the ability to enforce legal holds on relevant content. Users can click a button to designate that all items in a data set should be placed on hold.

Wednesday, April 9

Data storage products of the year

Storage startups stormed the 2007 Storage magazine and SearchStorage.com Products of the Year awards, beating out Hewlett-Packard, Symantec, IBM and other data storage market leaders. Our sister publications named nominees and winners in five categories: backup and disaster recovery hardware, backup and disaster recovery software, disk and disk subsystems, storage networking equipment and storage management software.

IBM's new computer is just super

IBM has announced its new Power 575 supercomputer, which features the POWER6 processor and contains 448 processor cores per rack. It supports AIX (IBM's version of Unix) as well as Linux. The unit is cooled by water-chilled copper plates that channel heat away from the electronics. IBM asserts that this cooling method can cut energy usage in the data center by as much as 40%, and the company says it is moving closer to a day when the data center will have zero emissions. The Power 575 units ship next month, and some early adopters include the Max Planck Institute and the U.S. National Center for Atmospheric Research. Perhaps it goes without saying that the Power 575 is not designed with SMBs in mind.

Here's a video of how it works:

IT spending growth to slow in 2008

A new report from Gartner Inc. predicts that corporate IT spending will increase by 2.3% in 2008, down from the 3.1% the consultancy predicted last December. The lower number reflects a new Gartner report showing that 25% of CIOs reported trimming their IT budgets in the first quarter of 2008. Still, nearly two-thirds of CIOs surveyed said their IT budgets were unchanged in the first quarter, while 10% reported increases. Gartner believes that companies may reduce overall spending in 2008, but argues that drastic IT cuts won't materialize because of the central role IT plays in today's business world.

Microsoft offers Stirling beta

New trial code is now available for Microsoft Stirling, the nascent security dashboard. The offering, due in the first half of next year, promises Windows shops a centralized way to configure and manage client and network endpoint security, SearchWinIT.com reports.

The console will let IT shops control and set security configurations and policies for Forefront Client, Forefront ISA Server (now called Forefront Threat Management Gateway), Forefront for Exchange and Forefront for SharePoint

Symantec's Thompson urges content awareness in security

Symantec Corp. chairman and CEO John Thompson told RSA Conference 2008 attendees yesterday that they should build security that is content-aware and information-centric in order to better protect sensitive data, according to SearchSecurity.com.

"I believe that in five to 10 years we'll get to a system that marries security and information in a more complete and holistic way," Thompson said.

Thompson stressed that enterprises must extend content awareness beyond the firewall to mobile devices, creating policies and implementing technologies that control data and prevent it from being downloaded to memory sticks or emailed to personal email accounts. He also said 65% of software delivered to users is malicious, going after data either via keyloggers or password-stealing malware.

FCoE wares beat standard out the door

Storage vendors aren't waiting for a Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE) standard to be real before rushing FCoE products to market. This week Emulex, Intel, QLogic, EMC and Cisco all introduced FCoE gear, even as the standard is under consideration by the American National Standards Institute.

The proposed FCoE standard would enable Fibre Channel frames to be pushed over full-duplex 802.3 networks and has broad vendor support. Traditionally, Ethernet and Fibre Channel have required separate network hardware and cabling.

Emulex, QLogic and Intel all announced adapters that let network and storage traffic run over a single network fabric. FCoE's strong selling point is that it will reduce the need for redundant cabling for different traffic types and reduce power consumption, the vendors said.

Cisco chimed in with the Nexus 5000 data center switch, which supports both Fibre Channel and FCoE as well as iSCSI, a protocol which is gaining steam in midmarket storage solutions.

Tuesday, April 8

Meet the Google App Engine

Hoping to jump-start development of hosted apps, Google on Monday launched a preview of the Google App Engine, a tool to help developers to build Web applications to run on Google's infrastructure. The development environment includes Dynamic Web serving, persistent storage and load balancing Google APIs for authenticating users and sending email. Google also launched a blog to chronicle this project.

This is the latest step in a race by Google to stretch beyond Internet search into full-fledged application development, where it competes with Microsoft. It is not alone: Amazon.com, eBay and other Web 2.0 companies are tyring to lure developers into their camps and infrastructure with development tools.

AMD to cut jobs

Advanced Micro Devices said yesterday it will cut about 10% of its workforce, or 1,650 jobs. In a statement, the company said it expects revenue for the first quarter of 2008 to be approximately $1.5 billion -- a 22% increase compared to the first quarter of 2007, but down 15% compared to the fourth quarter of 2007. AMD attributed the decrease to lower than expected sales across all segments, and the company is slated to report earnings April 17.

HP servers ship with viruses

The "era of pre-installed malware" is here. On the Security Bytes blog at SearchSecurity.com, senior site editor Eric Parizo writes about the infected USB 2.0 floppy drive keys that are shipping with some Hewlett-Packard ProLiant servers. The Australian Computer Emergency Response Team (AusCERT) made the discovery but isn't sure if it is a random attack or a coordinated scheme against HP. Vendors and solution providers must start paying attention to the issue of pre-installed malware or run the risk of losing customer confidence.

Cisco, EMC partner on endpoint security

Cisco Systems and EMC have announced a partnership that will include collaboration on data loss prevention (DLP) products, as well as a number of other offerings, according to SearchSecurity.com. Cisco and EMC announced the partnership right before the security industry mega-event, RSA Conference 2008.

The two companies plan to integrate data classification technology from EMC's RSA security division with the Cisco Security Agent (CSA), an integrated endpoint security product that includes host intrusion prevention, policy control and firewall protection. Cisco and RSA also plan to collaborate on data center security and key management. Plans call for integrating Cisco MDS 9000 Storage Media Encryption (SME) with RSA Key Manager.

In addition, the two companies will integrate additional security capabilities into Cisco TrustSec for data-in-motion encryption with the Cisco Nexus 7000 platform. RSA intends to add email security by interoperating with Cisco's Registered Envelope Service technology, encrypting email discovered by RSA's DLP technology. A timeline has not been set for the release of the integrated Cisco/EMC DLP product.

Trend Micro amps up VMware ESX security

Virtual machines are attracting a swarm of hackers, leaving companies with investments in virtualization scrambling. Following the virtual security path blazed last year by Catbird Networks and other smaller security vendors, Trend Micro has announced that its endpoint, gateway and server are now fully supported in VMware environments. In addition, Trend Micro said its VMsafe API will allow service providers to enhance VMware security by seamlessly integrating a security layer into the VMware ESX hypervisor. Trend Micro claims that its VMware security products will make virtual computing environments more secure than physical environments.

Monday, April 7

Yahoo responds to Microsoft threat

Yahoo is still open to a Microsoft buyout, but one for more money, CEO Jerry Yang and chairman Roy Bostock said today. They responded to Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, who, in a letter to Yahoo on Saturday, threatened a hostile takeover if Yahoo did not accept his company's offer.

Yang and Bostock said they would agree to a deal with Microsoft "if it represents a price that fully recognizes the value of Yahoo on a standalone basis and to Microsoft, is superior to our other alternatives, and provides certainty of value and certainty of closing." Microsoft's bid was valued at $44.6 billion when it was made in early February but had dropped to $41 billion by Friday, according to the Associated Press.

Motorola and Icahn make peace

After weeks of wrangling between Motorola Inc. and activist investor Carl Icahn, the company has agreed to support two of Icahn's nominees for election to its board, The Wall Street Journal reported today. Motorola will immediately appoint Keith Meister, who manages Icahn's $8 billion fund Icahn Partners LP.

Last week Motorola offered Icahn -- who owns 6.4% of the company's stock -- two seats on the board, but wouldn't give one to Meister. That sparked a lawsuit from Icahn for access to board documents, but he agreed today to drop the lawsuit. Motorola also said it will seek input from Icahn regarding the intended spinoff of its mobile devices business, which Icahn strongly pushed for.

Jury to Microsoft: Pay up

Microsoft was ordered Friday to pay $367.4 million to Alcatel-Lucent for patent infringement. A jury in San Diego found that Microsoft's Tablet PC operating system infringed on two pattern recognition patents used for handwriting recognition, according to the Associated Press. The jury also found Microsoft Windows did not infringe on another video decoding patent.

The case, heard in the U.S. District Court in San Diego, is one of several stemming from 15 patent claims filed five years ago by Lucent Technologies Inc. against Gateway Inc. and Dell Inc. for technology developed by Bell Labs, which was Lucent's research entity. Alcatel, based in Paris, bought Lucent two years ago. Microsoft hopes to have the two negative judgments overturned.

Whaleback firewalls VoIP

Managed VoIP provider Whaleback Systems is offering a firewall as part of its upgraded voice package, CrystalBlue Service, in an attempt to stay ahead of the security curve. The firewall -- called OrcaSentry -- secures voice networks from spam over Internet telephony, Denial of Service (DoS) attacks and other threats for small and medium-sized businesses.

Whaleback's new release also includes call control functions that enable a company to spot trouble in the network and reroute voice packets, resulting in higher-quality calls for users. As part of the upgrade, Whaleback will also offer OrcaVision, which allows the company's personnel to analyze call volume, traffic, bottlenecks and usage patterns.

Consultant to clients: Big Brother or bust

If you're helping your clients protect against external data breaches, you're only doing half the job. That's the message security consultant Tom Scocca is trying to get across. He told Computerworld that internal data breaches like those at the U.S. Department of State, DuPont and Certegy highlight the need to place end-user security controls on internal employees. There are numerous products coming on the market that allow companies to keep sensitive data away from prying employee eyes, but the specter of Big Brother remains, Scocca said, which might explain why less than a third of Fortune 5,000 companies have instituted such measures.

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