IT Channel News Briefs, April 18

Headlines for April 18: Microsoft unveils BizTalk RFID Mobile. Windows zero-day probed. Oracle 11g upgrade tips.

News for the week of April 14-18, 2008 -- in brief, updated daily, on topics important to the information technology (IT) channel.

Friday, April 18

Microsoft brings BizTalk RFID to mobile

Microsoft yesterday launched BizTalk RFID Mobile, a development platform for applications that track and analyze real-time radio frequency identification (RFID) data on mobile devices. The new platform is the latest part of Microsoft's service-oriented architecture (SOA) and business process management (BPM) strategy. A private beta is available now, and the product will be generally available late this year, Microsoft said. Microsoft included RFID for the first time in the latest version of BizTalk Server, released in September.

Microsoft probes possible zero-day flaw

Microsoft is investigating reports of a new zero-day flaw in Windows that attackers could exploit to access extra user privileges and launch malicious code, according to SearchStorage.com. Bill Sisk, security response communications manager for Microsoft, said in an email last night that the flaw allows privilege escalation in Windows XP, Windows Server 2003, Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008.

The software giant issued a security advisory to offer affected customers some steps to mitigate the threat. Microsoft will take actions to protect customers through a service pack or through either a monthly or out-of-cycle security update, the advisory said.

Avoiding an Oracle 11g oops

Deploying Oracle 11g in stealth mode, without sufficient preparation, isn't the best strategy. Planning, testing and documentation are essential, so end users are as ready for an Oracle 11g upgrade as the IT staff and service provider. That was the message delivered this week by Maria Anderson, senior database analyst for enterprise infrastructure services at Calgary-based Petro-Canada, speaking at Collaborate '08, an Oracle user conference in Denver.

Secure Computing, Riverbed join forces

Secure Computing Corp. and Riverbed Technology are planning to jointly release wide-area data services combined with email and unified threat management (UTM) in one appliance. The offering will occur in a two-phase process.

In the first phase, the two companies will bundle Riverbed's Steelhead appliances and Steelhead Mobile software, which enable bandwidth optimization and application acceleration, with Secure Computing's Secure Web, which provides Web security. In the second phase, Secure Computing's firewall technology, Web filtering and anti-spam technologies will be available as a software module that can run on Riverbed's RiOS platform. The product bundle will be available in early May, and the software module for RiOS is scheduled for release in early 2009.

Thursday, April 17

SQL Server 2005 SP3 coming

The current SQL Server 2005 database will get a third service pack after its successor database ships, a Microsoft exec disclosed Wednesday.

"I'm happy to inform you that we will in fact deliver an SP3 following the release to manufacturing of SQL Server 2008," Francois Ajenstat, director of SQL Server marketing, wrote on his blog. "Our goal is to get SP3 released in the market in CY2008."

SQL Server 2008 is due in the third quarter, and SQL Server 2005 Service Pack 3 is due by year's end.

Users: Desktop virtualization not worth it

Vendors are pushing desktop virtualization, but some users tell SearchServerVirtualization.com that its benefits don't outweigh its costs. The benefits of virtualized desktops include remote access and high-speed maintenance and support. But the technology typically requires in-depth hardware and software reconfiguration and upgrades that are both costly and time-consuming. That's an issue that IT solution providers that sell desktop virtualization tools -- such as Citrix XenDesktop, announced this week -- and their customers will have to confront.

Yahoogle test gets good marks

Yahoo and Google are apparently pleased with the outcome of a test in which Yahoo ran Google search ads on a portion of its Web search service. The test is part of Yahoo's increasingly creative attempt to thwart Microsoft's unwanted buyout bid. Citing unnamed sources, The Wall Street Journal reported the test was successful, but regulatory concerns make it unlikely that Google and Yahoo could merge outright or form a wholesale alliance. The companies are the top two Internet search-and-ad service providers, and Microsoft is trying to break into that market in a big way.

New malware tool unmasked

Security experts have identified a tool that uses SQL injection to infect various legitimate websites and then use those sites to spread malware. According to SearchSecurity.com, the new type of malware tool infects vulnerable websites and uses them to silently spread malware to unprotected users visiting those sites. A security expert interviewed for the story said the malware tool may be tied to a pay-per-infection scheme.

Wednesday, April 16

Intel profits down, expectations up

Intel's profits dropped 12% in the first quarter, but expectations rose as the company issued a robust forecast for the year. In an earnings call yesterday, Intel execs said they expect second-quarter revenue to be in the $9 billion to $9.6 billion range.

The company logged $1.4 billion, or 25 cents per share, in profit, matching consensus Wall Street expectations. That was down from $1.63 billion, or 28 cents per share, for last year's corresponding quarter. Revenue was $9.67 billion, down 10% over the previous quarter. Intel revenues typically fall going into the new year, after the holiday buying season.

Seagate sues EMC partner

Seagate Technology is suing Stec, an EMC solid-state disk drive (SSD) partner, for patent infringement, according to SearchStorage.com. Seagate accused Stec of violating four patents, but Stec said Seagate is merely trying to stop competition in the SSD market. There are other major players in the SSD market, but Seagate may have targeted Stec because it has the first viable and reliable SSD adopted by a major storage vendor, an IDC analyst said.

Oracle reaches out to ISVs

Oracle has announced new and revised sales and marketing materials for independent software vendors (ISVs). The move comes in the wake of a leadership reshuffling in Oracle's partner program at the beginning of the year, as well as partner complaints about rising channel conflict.

Oracle reports that 46% of its global channel partners are ISVs. The goal of the ISV Solution Maps for Oracle Applications is to make it easier for prospective and existing Oracle ISVs to understand where Oracle applications fit within an enterprise environment. The company made the announcement at this week's COLLABORATE 08 in Denver, an annual event sponsored by three Oracle user groups.

Microsoft announces new Windows Embedded path

Microsoft announced a roadmap for its Windows Embedded business yesterday, renaming a number of products, unveiling systems for new devices and launching a developer certification. Executives said the company will offer preconfigured toolkits -- dubbed Windows Embedded Ready -- enabling providers to quickly develop and ship service-oriented devices. The Windows Embedded Ready product line will include Windows Embedded for Point of Service, called Windows Embedded POSReady, which will be released in 2009.

Windows Embedded Standard -- the first product release under a new name -- will be released this June. The next generation of Windows Embedded Compact will be released in 2009.

Microsoft also announced the Windows Embedded CE 6.0 Certification, which will provide technical expertise that the company recommends for 6.0 developers. The certification exam will be available May 5 at $125 and will be delivered through Prometric testing centers. A free preparation guide is on Microsoft's website.

Oracle charts road to Fusion

The journey to Oracle Fusion starts with a single step: upgrading to the latest release of whatever Oracle app you have now. That was the advice Oracle execs doled out at COLLABORATE 08 according to our sister site SearchOracle.com. Fusion is the term Oracle uses to refer to a next-generation applications portfolio, combining the best features of all its diverse applications -- from Siebel Systems, J.D. Edwards and PeopleSoft, as well as from Oracle's own E-Business Suite. The latest Oracle apps include E-Business Suite (EBS) 12, PeopleSoft 9, Siebel 8, J.D. Edwards EnterpriseOne 8.12, J.D. Edwards World A9.1 and CRM On Demand 15.

Tuesday, April 15

VMware offers infrastructure virtualization training

VMware partners have new training at their disposal. The company yesterday announced a new infrastructure virtualization specialty as part of its VMware Technical Sales Professional (VTSP) certification program. The training will cover advanced networking, data protection, resource management and other topics. VMware enhanced its training program as part of new channel initiatives announced in February.

Vendors get serious about virtual security

It seems that momentum is building behind virtual security, with more vendors joining the party as a number of real and potential attack vectors are identified. Security experts have shown, for example, that infections can spread not only from hosts to virtual machines, but also from virtual machines to hosts. Another potential source of security exploits is traffic between virtual machines.

According to SearchServerVirtualization.com, a number of vendors have released or will soon release products such as virtual firewalls, designed to head off threats. Still, it seems likely that the virtual security arms race between hackers and corporations has only just begun. Service providers will remain on the front lines of the battle as they guide their clients through ever-evolving best practices for securing virtual machines.

Open source BI stays strong in weak economy

Despite a soft economy, business intelligence (BI) plans are rolling forward -- especially those involving open source software. Just last month, open source BI vendor JasperSoft Corp. recorded its 80,000th deployment, making it the world's most widely used BI software, according to the company. Nearly 20,000 developers have accessed BIRT Exchange, the open source BI community site sponsored by Actuate Corp. And Pentaho Corp. recently raised $12 million in funding, indicative of investors' confidence in open source BI, SearchDataManagement.com reported.

With the cost of a typical commercial BI software deployment reaching well into six figures, open source BI software is an attractive option for many cash-strapped businesses. And with a community of developers regularly adding code, new and customizable open source features emerge more frequently than do those of their commercial counterparts.

Linux takes on Wall Street

Once the plaything of hobbyists and pony-tailed hippies in university computer science departments, Linux has matured to the point that it's ready for the very corporate world of financial services. According to a story on SearchEnterpriseLinux.com, that was the message delivered by speakers at the sixth annual Linux on Wall Street conference. The speakers noted that Red Hat, Novell, IBM, Canonical and other Linux vendors have been making more aggressive pushes into the enterprise market, causing many companies -- including financial institutions -- to start considering Linux for their mission-critical applications.

Monday, April 14

Salesforce.com to sell Google Apps

Salesforce.com will sell Google Apps and integrate the programs into its Software as a Service (SaaS) platform, the two companies announced today, according to SearchCRM.com. Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff said the partnership will help lure customers away from Microsoft, while the deal has increased speculation that Google will acquire Salesforce.com, according to the Associated Press. Neither company would comment on those rumors.

A Nucleus Research analyst told the AP that the move helps Google by instantly providing a sales channel. It remains to be seen whether the Salesforce.com partnership is part of larger Google channel program changes hinted at last week.

Meanwhile, if IT can imitate politics, Google may just be the John McCain of Web advertising, happily watching as two of its chief rivals bloody one another. According to some analysts interviewed by the AP, Google may benefit as online advertisers are scared away by Microsoft's tumultuous pursuit of a Yahoo acquisition. Google also stands to gain from its talked-about advertising alliance with Yahoo, as part of Yahoo's anyone-but-Microsoft strategy.

If AOL and Yahoo combine some of their operations, that could also help Google, which owns a 5% stake in AOL. And if News Corp. and Microsoft were to join forces and buy Yahoo, Google could win big because of its advertising deal with News Corp.-owned MySpace.

Storage vendors focus on encryption

EMC's PowerPath multipathing software, with the addition of disk encryption, will become available in May, SearchStorage.com reports. The new feature, based on encryption technology from EMC's RSA subsidiary, will allow automatic encryption of data at rest on Symmetrix and Clarion disk arrays, with centralized management and automation of encryption keys.

Meanwhile, Hewlett-Packard added several storage security products to its Secure Advantage portfolio, including the first original equipment manufacturer (OEM) rollout of Cisco Systems' SAN encryption switch. It also added a small library and key management, integration between the HP StorageWorks Secure Key Manager and the HP Compliance Log Warehouse, and a free storage security assessment tool.

Elsewhere, Brocade showed off a planned data security feature for its Data Center Fabric architecture at the RSA conference this week. And Hifn Inc. introduced a new unified storage OEM bundle consisting of its Unified IP Software bundled with an Express data security acceleration card.

AMD CTO leaves

Advanced Micro Devices' chief technology officer (CTO) Phil Hester is resigning. The news was reported by several outlets over the weekend, and a company spokesman was quoted as saying there are no plans to replace him in the CTO role. Hester spent nearly two decades at IBM before joining AMD in 2005.

Last week the Sunnyvale, Calif.-based chipmaker said it planned to lay off some 10% of its workforce, citing lower-than-expected sales. AMD will announce earnings for its most recent quarter April 17.

Nortel gets open source with unified communications

Nortel is upping the ante in the small and medium-sized business (SMB) unified communications (UC) market, introducing a SIP-centric software solution based on open source technology. Nortel's Software Communication System (SCS) 500 will enable presence and instant messaging, IP telephony, conferencing and other applications in the SMB environment.

The SCS 500 UC solution is available this month on Dell and IBM platforms. SCS 500 will be part of the Dell OptiPlex 755 and is expected to be extended to the PowerEdge R300 server. The solution will be available on the IBM System i platform, on which the UC solution will include IBM Lotus Sametime and IBM Lotus Notes collaboration software. Nortel plans to integrate the SCS500 with more of IBM's SMB server portfolio.

Blockbuster discloses play for Circuit City

Home video powerhouse Blockbuster is proposing to buy the Circuit City consumer electronics chain. Blockbuster today posted online a Feb. 17 letter from CEO and chairman Jim Keyes to Philip Schoonover, his counterpart at Circuit City.

Dallas-based Blockbuster, trying to break out of the video rental mold, offered $6 per share for the Richmond, Va., retail giant -- making the deal worth about $1 billion. Blockbuster went public with its offer because Circuit City failed to provide paperwork needed for Blockbuster to perform due diligence, according to Keyes' letter.

Circuit City was one of the first giant electronics retail chains but has felt increased pressure of late from Best Buy, other competitors and more general rivals like Wal-Mart. Retailers across the board are under pressure in a weak economy, but computer outlets have been engaging in price-gouging competition for some time, as evidenced by CompUSA's plight. CompUSA, once a leader, was acquired earlier this year and shut down many of its stores.

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