IT Channel News Briefs, May 16

Today's headlines: Touch-screen BlackBerry? Oracle promotes SOA. Verizon shuns Android.

News for the week of May 12-16, 2008 -- in brief, updated daily, on topics important to the information technology (IT) channel.

Friday, May 16

BlackBerry hopes to steal iPhone's Thunder

The Wall Street Journal is the latest media outlet pointing to an imminent launch of the BlackBerry 9500, code-named Thunder, a touch-screen device intended to take on Apple's iPhone. According to unnamed sources cited by the paper, the device is expected to launch this summer. If these reports are true, the BlackBerry 9500 and the iPhone will soon be battling for supremacy in the lucrative corporate mobile communications market.

Oracle talks up SOA's benefits

In a wide-ranging interview with SearchSOA.com, Oracle executives discussed how Hyperion's business intelligence (BI) technology fits into Oracle's service-oriented architecture (SOA) strategy. They explained that SOA will be used to help customers identify bottlenecks in their BI processes as well as to provide business activity monitoring (BAM) for executives who need real-time reporting. The channel impact of Oracle's Hyperion acquisition, once in doubt, may be somewhat clearer now.

Verizon picks LiMo, shuns Android

Verizon Wireless has chosen the LiMo Foundation's LiMo over Google's Android as the mobile operating system platform it will support on its devices. LiMo is a completely free, Linux-based mobile operating system built through the collaboration of several vendors. Adding insult to injury, Verizon says it will join Motorola, Panasonic, Samsung and other mobile heavyweights on the LiMo Foundation's board. Some analysts are beginning wonder aloud how Android will be able to gain much traction in the mobile space when the triumvirate of Microsoft, Symbian and LiMo seems to have all the mojo.

Tech Data bolsters MSPs

Tech Data announced a flurry of initiatives for managed service providers (MSPs) out of its Spring TechSelect Partner Conference in Las Vegas. For one, it is teaming with IBM Global Financing on credit initiatives for MSPs.

The distributor is also giving 250 of its value-added reseller (VAR) customers a 60-day trial of Zenith Infotech's managed data backup and disaster recovery services. VARs can evaluate and test out the service before offering it to their own customers.

TechData is also adding hosted network, server, desktop and printer monitoring services from Advanced Technology Services (ATS) to its mix of offerings for MSP customers. MSPs can brand these services as their own. Tech Data already offers ATS solutions installation, maintenance and repair services.

Welcome to the mother-LAN

The wireless local area network (WLAN) that Aruba Wireless began building for Microsoft in 2005 has turned into the mother of all WLANs. What was first meant to include 5,000 access points and serve around 25,000 people worldwide now has more than 11,000 centrally managed access points, serving 80,000 wireless clients, Aruba reported this week.

The network has been able to meet its original goals. It provides follow-me connectivity and security to all users, as well as centralized management with redundant backup. It also supports numerous personal computing systems and leaves room to upgrade for various IT services. More than 75% of Microsoft employees use the wireless LAN every day.

OLPC laptops get Windows at last

One Laptop Per Child, the effort dedicated to closing the technology gap between haves and have-nots, will now offer Windows XP on some of its low-cost PCs. Most of the organization's machines have been powered thus far by Linux.

Trials with the Laptop Foundation's XO laptops running Windows are to start "as soon as June" in emerging markets, Microsoft said in a statement. More than half a million XO laptops have sold thus far in emerging markets in Africa and South America., although most observers say that number is far fewer than was expected.

PC powers Microsoft and Intel initially viewed low-cost PCs for the masses as a threat, so early machines ran on AMD processors and Linux. Intel subsequently came aboard but then jumped off again. Microsoft has a vested interest in making sure its operating system and apps have as wide an audience as possible.

Thursday, May 15

AMD ships low-power chips, ships out execs

Advanced Micro Devices Inc. took the lid off new energy-efficient quad-core processors this week. Blade and rack systems based on the five low-power quad-core AMD Opteron HE processors are now available from original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and solution providers, according to SearchDataCenter.com.

AMD also shuffled around and lost some execs. Mario Rivas, formerly the executive vice president of AMD's computing solutions group, and Michel Cadieux, formerly senior vice president and chief talent officer, have left AMD. In April, CTO Phil Hester resigned and has not been replaced. Some attribute the reorg to the late shipment of the Barcelona processor, which was promised for last September but shipped seven months later.

Dell pushes PCs to be greener

Dell will move to reduce its laptops' and desktops' energy consumption by 25% by 2010. Dell has already improved energy efficiency in its OptiPlex desktops by 50% since 2005, while Latitude laptops have improved 16% since 2006. Dell will achieve its energy reduction by integrating further Energy Smart technologies, including circuit designs, fans and power management features. It is also working to develop energy-efficient components, including chip sets, power supplies and memory.

CommVault looks to grow its portfolio

With an increase in revenue -- thanks to the addition of archiving, replication and single-instance and continuous data protection -- CommVault Systems Inc. is eyeing new technologies to add to its mix, including block-level data deduplication and information management, SearchStorage.com reported yesterday.

CommVault reported $56.6 million in revenue in the fourth quarter, a 33% increase over last year and 13% more than the previous quarter. For the full fiscal year, CommVault's revenue of $198.3 million represented an increase of 31% over fiscal 2007. About a third of the company's 8,000 customers are running Simpana 7.0, which launched last year, CEO Bob Hammer said. Within that, archiving is up 103% compared to a year ago, and other emerging technologies, such as replication, single instancing and CDP were each up over 100%. CommVault is hoping that continuing to add new features will keep that trend going.

Wednesday, May 14

RIM opens up to Windows (Live)

Research in Motion's popular BlackBerry is a famously non-Windows-oriented device. But with Windows Live, Microsoft now has its nose in the BlackBerry tent.

The two companies said this week that Windows Live Hotmail and messenger services will run on BlackBerry smart phones.

That means "crackberry" addicts will be able to use RIM's "push" technology for message delivery and synch but receive Hotmail messages (or mail from other email accounts) in one inbox

Windows Live services for BlackBerry smart phones are slated to arrive this summer.

Studies predict mobile applications boom for workforce and consumers

Two studies hit this week highlighting the not-so-shocking boom in demand for mobile applications and "hyper-connectivity" among remote workers and consumers.

A Nortel-sponsored IDC study released Tuesday revealed that a growing number of employees are "hyper-connected." That means they increasingly use multiple devices and applications, and expect their jobs to supply everywhere, round-the-clock connectivity.

Of 2,400 people surveyed in 17 countries, 16% of workers are already "hyper-connected," using a minimum of seven devices for work and personal access, plus at least nine applications like IM, text messaging, Web conferencing and social networks. Another 36% said they were "increasingly connected" and use a minimum of four devices for work and personal access and six or more applications. The study predicts that 40% of business users will be dubbed "hyper-connected" in five years.

One of the more amusing findings in the IDC study is that 38% of respondents said they would grab their mobile phones rather than their wallets or keys if they had to leave the house for 24 hours. Nobody addressed how they would get back in their homes at the end of that day.

A newly released study from Juniper Research showed that the global market for mobile Web 2.0 will grow to $22.4 billion from $5.5 billion by 2013. Mobile Web 2.0 technology enables collaborative and location-based applications. The boom will alter mobile Web development since it will have to adapt to enable users to input content for social computing and participate in online communities via their mobile devices, the study shows.

VBA returns to Mac Office

It wasn't fun while it lasted, at least for some Mac users, and now Microsoft has announced they'll be adding Visual Basic Applications (VBA) support back to the next version of Microsoft Office for the Mac. On his blog, Erik Schwiebert, the head of Microsoft's Mac Business Unit (Mac BU), quoted a Mac BU press release attributing Redmond's climb-down to the demands of "a select group of customers who rely on sharing macros across platforms." Schwiebert was quick to add that sales of Office 2008 for the Mac are doing well, an indication that "most of our users don't find the lack of VB to be a major issue."

Wanted: Input for MSP survey

Untangle, a sponsor of next week's MSPAlliance Summit, wants VARs and systems integrators to weigh in on managed service provider business models. The MSP Benchmark Study seeks to build metrics that could illuminate the business models and performance.

Tuesday, May 13

Cisco's data center head bails

Jayshree Ullal, Cisco's senior vice president of data center, switching and services, has resigned. She is the third high-level Cisco executive to leave in just over a year.

Ullal, who has been one of the most visible Cisco execs in recent years, wrote on her blog: "With mixed feelings and much introspection I have come to my decision to leave Cisco after 15 great years. My loyalty and affection to Cisco, CEO John Chamber and my teams made this a very difficult and lengthy decision process."

Ullal's departure was surprising. She was one of the more touted keynote speakers at Interop two weeks ago, and many of Cisco's most important product developments this year -- including those in the data center -- were brought to market under Ullal.

In December, Charles Giancarlo, chief development officer, left the company, and in February 2007, Mike Volpi, senior vice president in charge of routing and service providers, resigned.

Ullal's spot will be filled by John McCool, who now works for her, according to Bloomberg News.

Visual Studio 2008 SP1 beta posted

Microsoft posted a beta version of Visual Studio 2008 and .NET FX 3.5 Service Pack 1 on Monday.

Aside from the usual fixes, the beta also includes new components and features, according to S. Somasegar's blog. Included in SP1 is full support for SQL Server 2008 and the ADO.NET Entity framework, which many developers have been waiting for. Microsoft pledged last year to "synch up" these bits between SQL Server and Visual Studio.

AMD processes more change

eWeek reports that struggling chipmaker Advanced Micro Devices has reshuffled its business unit again, this time naming Randy Allen as the new senior vice president of the computing solutions group. Meanwhile, AMD solutions group head Mario Rivas and senior vice president and chief talent officer Michael Cadieux have left the company. AMD also created a new central engineering division, reporting directly to AMD president and CEO Dirk Meyer, to supervise AMD's chip development.

Desktop virtualization Wyses up, slims down

Thin computing vendor Wyse Technology is teaming up with Citrix on new Wyse Viance appliances designed as delivery vehicles for Citrix's XenDesktop line. The appliances are low-power, fanless, diskless desktop appliances, and all video is decoded on the machines themselves to improve performance. The Wyse-Citrix should open up opportunities for VARs and managed service providers with clients that want the benefits of desktop virtualization for their employees without the network administration hassles. The appliances cost about the same as low-end PCs.

Sage Software streamlines

Sage Software has revamped its Partner Advantage program so that partners who work with its business management division and its industry and specialized solutions division have a single point of access for all their programs and services in the Sage Partner Portal.

Riverbed and Aruba partner for remote data access

Wireless local area network (WLAN) company Aruba Networks and Riverbed Technology, which specializes in wide-area data services (WDS), are partnering to offer mobile users LAN-like access to data.

The pair will combine Aruba's Remote Access Points to enable remote workers to link to enterprise data centers with identity-based authorization. Meanwhile Riverbed's WDS technology will accelerate applications and data for remote workers across the WAN, and the company's Steelhead Mobile Client will improve remote application performance.

Monday, May 12

BlackBerry Bold gets closer to desktop capabilities

Hoping to squash the glut of smartphones flooding the market in the past couple of years, Research in Motion released the new BlackBerry Bold, which supports Wi-Fi enterprise networks as well as GPS. The phone, formerly code-named the BlackBerry 9000, is the enterprise holy grail, because it enables quick downloading of email attachments, streaming video and desktop-style Web browsing.

The new BlackBerry also lets users access Microsoft Word, Excel or PowerPoint files and edit them on the handset. In addition, it has 1 gigabit of storage memory as well as another memory card slot. All of BlackBerry's email, messaging and calendaring functions are still available and have been upgraded.

Sprint financial woes worsen

Sprint Nextel reported a wider quarterly loss Monday, and execs reported that the company might seek amendments or waivers from creditors -- even though it is likely to have enough cash now to operate and repay maturing debts through 2009.

Bernstein analyst Craig Moffett told Reuters that Sprint is now "talking openly" about "available liquidity," indicating there isn't a turnaround in the near future. The company posted a first-quarter net loss of $505 million, or 18 cents a share, compared with a loss of $211 million, or 7 cents a share, a year earlier.

Microsoft appeals European antitrust fine

Microsoft said Friday it will appeal the $1.4 billion fine served up earlier by European Commission regulators. The fine was a response to what the European Court of First Instance said was the software company's failure to comply with an earlier antitrust ruling. The court had reaffirmed in September 2004 that Microsoft had used its Windows dominance to keep competitors out of related markets. Microsoft has maintained that the legal sanctions were driven by rivals Sun Microsystems, RealNetworks, Novell and others.

Report: HP to buy BT data centers

Hewlett-Packard is negotiating with BT Group to buy its British data centers -- or "centres," as they say across the pond -- for $2.93 billion, according to the Sunday Times. BT and HP have been working together since 2004, when they formed an alliance to take on other leading IT and telecommunications vendors, according to Reuters.

Web 2.0 workers get a personal touch

Software vendors are trying new ways to make a company's dispersed employees feel more connected to one another. According to the Associated Press, IBM and other vendors are using community-building techniques from social networking sites and video games to make working in a Web 2.0 world more humane and enjoyable. The idea is to help workers -- who in previous generations would have socialized around the lunch table or water cooler -- get to know their peers a little better. Some companies are using virtual worlds to attempt to replicate an office environment, and one has gone so far as to stage a virtual golf tournament for its employees, complete with real trophies.

Fun and games aside, there seems to be an emerging corporate market for "human-touch" technology, or what some describe as social computing. This use of social computing for a company's own employees seems to be a natural evolution of social networking techniques for channel partners and corporate marketing campaigns.

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