IT Channel News Briefs, June 20

Today's headlines: Former Nortel execs charged. Microsoft nails ERP timing. EMC adding solid-state to Clariion.

News for the week of June 16-20, 2008 -- in brief, updated daily, on topics important to the information technology (IT) channel.

Friday, June 20

Former Nortel execs charged

Three Nortel executives have joined the ranks of telecom industry leaders charged with intentionally producing fraudulent financial results, Reuters reported Thursday. Most of the executives, including those formerly at Nortel, did so in order to stabilize their companies after the Internet bubble burst in 2001.

Former CEO Frank Dunn, former CFO Douglas Beatty and former corporate controller Michael Gollogly are all facing charges. The charges allege that the executives omitted information and made false entries in financial records from early 2002 through June 2003. Here in the U.S., companies like WorldCom, Adelphia Communications and Enron -- which also had a communications division -- have all had executives tried and convicted for similar breaches. Nortel is the first Canadian company to see the same problems.

Late Thursday afternoon, almost immediately after police announced the charges, Nortel released a statement. The statement stressed that Nortel as a company has not been charged and was not the target of the investigation by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. It also said the company cooperated with the investigation: "Nortel is rebuilding a great Canadian company while upholding the highest standards of integrity."

Microsoft Dynamics AX 2009 hits at a good time

Microsoft's recent release of Dynamics AX 2009 brought a somewhat overhauled enterprise resource planning (ERP) offering to the midmarket at a time when many midmarket CIOs could be looking to refresh their ERP systems, according to SearchCIO-Midmarket.com. Research firm ChangeWave said ERP sales have waned in recent months as midmarket companies slash their software budgets. Still, if you are in the market for an ERP upgrade, now is the time, says Forrester Research principal analyst R. "Ray" Wang.

EMC to add solid-state disk to Clariion

EMC Corp. will add a new Clariion midrange storage array with solid-state drives (SSD) over the next few months, SearchStorage.com has learned. EMC began offering SSD in its enterprise Symmetrix systems earlier this year, and industry sources say EMC will extend its support of SSD technology with the Clariion CX4-80, expected in August.

Red Hat gets into auditing

Red Hat released a new auditing product yesterday during the Red Hat Summit in Boston, according to SearchEnterpriseLinux.com. The Red Hat Enterprise Identity, Policy and Audit (IPA) is based on FreeIPA, an open source security information management tool. The product also uses technology from Identyx, a virtual directory software vendor that Red Hat acquired earlier this week.

BroadSoft extends channel program

Voice over IP (VoIP) software provider BroadSoft announced a channel partner program that will extend sales coverage into new local vertical markets, as well as featuring the company's development initiative for Web 2.0 applications. The BroadSoft Channel Partner Program will give partners access to technical, marketing and branding materials through an online portal, as well as sales support. It also provides training and certification programs. The company's 50 existing partners immediately joined the program, and now BroadSoft is seeking to widen the channel further.

Thursday, June 19

HP users want better storage management

Users at this week's Hewlett-Packard Tech Forum in Las Vegas told our sister site SearchStorage.com that they want better, more affordable storage management tools. Members of Connect, a giant HP user group formed last year, said they are sick and tired of fighting daily storage fires. An HP storage executive agreed that admins need better storage management tools, and he said a combination of Storage Essentials and Opsware storage management products should get users off to a good start.

Red Hat rolls out Linux-based hypervisor option

Red Hat unveiled a new Linux-based hypervisor yesterday at the Red Hat Summit in Boston. The bare-bones hypervisor can be embedded on machines to host Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL), Windows and Sun Solaris operating systems, according to SearchServerVirtualization.com. It is based on the Kernel-based Virtual Machine (KVM) project. The move sets Red Hat up to compete with virtualization giant VMware.

Trend Micro makes threat management, email encryption news

Trend Micro had a busy week, announcing email encryption technology and a new threat management solution. The Trend Micro Threat Management Solution aims to help businesses respond quickly to data loss by monitoring the network for disruptive applications and malware. The product also features hosted threat management services that provide a detailed analysis of the threat environment. The solution runs on the Trend Micro Smart Protection Network, a client that sits in the cloud.

Trend Micro's Email Encryption Client 5.0 enables businesses of all sizes to encrypt email to any address without recipient pre-registration or certificate management, making it easier for the recipient to open encrypted email. Both the Trend Micro Threat Discovery Suite and the new email encryption technology are scheduled to be available in the third quarter of this year.

HP ProCurve gets new chief

Hewlett-Packard appointed Marius Haas as senior vice president and general manager of ProCurve Networking, replacing general manager John McHugh. Haas most recently served as senior vice president of strategy and corporate development at HP. Before that, he was at Compaq and Intel Corp. Haas will oversee ProCurve's worldwide operations.

Wednesday, June 18

SAP to acquire Visiprise

SAP announced yesterday it will acquire Visiprise, an Alpharetta, Ga.-based marketing execution software vendor. The companies did not disclose terms of the deal, which is expected to close next month. Analysts told our sister site SearchSAP.com that the acquisition will give SAP customers better integration on the NetWeaver platform and boost SAP's standing in the manufacturing sector.

Microsoft announces retirement of Jon Shirley

Microsoft announced Tuesday that board of directors member Jon Shirley will not be seeking re-election. Shirley served a 25-year tenure at the company, first as president and chief operating officer from 1983 to 1990 and then as a resident of the board of directors. Now 70 years old, Shirley said he hopes to pursue more personal interests by yielding his professional commitments at Microsoft. He will remain on the board through November, when shareholders will elect new members at Microsoft's annual meeting.

Sun utility turns servers into Fibre Channel arrays

Sun began to flesh out its server/storage convergence strategy last week, unveiling a way to turn OpenSolaris servers into Fibre Channel storage arrays using the Common Multiprotocol SCSI for Solaris (Comstar), SeachStorage.com reported this week. Comstar lets customers create a Fibre Channel array using a repurposed server and Fibre Channel host bus adapters (HBAs). Comstar brings SCSI command into the OpenSolaris kernel, which improves performance of the target, because it doesn't have to traverse the operating system and application memory for I/O to disk.

The first edition of Comstar, available for the Build 90 version of OpenSolaris, is scheduled to become part of the general OpenSolaris distribution in its next major release in November. So far, Sun has qualified HBAs from QLogic Corp. and Emulex Corp.

NetSuite takes on SAP's Business ByDesign

Hoping to capitalize on the recent scale-back of SAP's on-demand enterprise resource planning (ERP) application Business ByDesign, NetSuite this week released a competitive product called NetSuite for Managers. Netsuite's new software pits the company directly against SAP in aiming for small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) in the manufacturing arena. SAP announced at the end of April that it was scaling back its release of Business ByDesign to address concerns raised by customers.

San Mateo, Calif.-based NetSuite boasts 5,600 customers, while SAP's on-demand offering has 150 customers. NetSuite for Manufacturers costs $99 per user per month. Business ByDesign costs $149 per user per month.

NetSuite may be winning more Software as a Service (SaaS) customers, but that doesn't seem to bother SAP. Its focus is on attracting more customers to its small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) suite, which includes Business ByDesign and SAP's two on-premise offerings, Business One and Business All-in-One.

EMC expands Oracle partnership

EMC this week announced new storage solutions and reference configurations to make better use of its own storage technologies in Oracle transaction processing and data warehousing environments. The tools can help VARs select the best storage platform for each Oracle installation.

For Oracle online transaction processing (OLTP) environments, new EMC Symmetrix solutions boost performance and help scale out for big applications, EMC said. New solutions based on EMC Celerra NS Series multi-protocol storage unify production and development/test environments with disaster recovery for Oracle medium-sized enterprise environments. EMC already offers CLARiiON-based storage for Oracle OLTP.

In some circumstances, an Oracle implementation could use combined FC, NFS and iSCSI protocols, along with tiered storage, for the best possible performance. These guidelines will help VARs set up such installations.

Sophos sees patching problems

Patch deployment failures, misconfigured firewalls and missing operating system updates are causing security lapses at many firms, according to a study by Sophos. The study queried users of Sophos' endpoint assessment test tool. The tool, available free from the Sophos website, was used by 583 firms in the U.S. and abroad, according to SearchSecurity.com.

Tuesday, June 17

Microsoft names Partners of the Year

Microsoft announced the winners and finalists of its 2008 Microsoft Partner of the Year Awards on Monday. Microsoft gives the awards to its Registered, Certified and Gold Certified partners that exceeded customers' needs with superlative solutions over the past year. More than 2,000 partners worldwide submitted entries and received nominations based on their exceptional use of Microsoft technologies. Examples of award categories include distribution partners, database management partners, global ISV consumer partners and small business specialist partners. Microsoft will formally distinguish winners and finalists at its Worldwide Partner Conference 2008 in Houston, July 7-10.

Yahoo org chart keeps on changing

In the wake of failed merger and acquisition talks with Microsoft, a new joint effort with Google and furious shareholder litigation, Yahoo executive Jeff Weiner is leaving for two venture capital companies. Weiner is joining Accel Partners and Greylock Partners as an "executive in residence." He held a string of executive positions at Yahoo, most recently executive vice president of the network division.

In other Yahoo news, Reuters reports that a Delaware court denied a request by shareholders suing Yahoo to speed up proceedings against the company. They want the case heard in advance of Yahoo's annual meeting Aug. 1, alleging that Yahoo cut its newly announced ad deal with Google to keep shareholders from joining dissident shareholder Carl Icahn's proxy battle.

3Com gets new North American sales leadership

3Com has hired former BroadSoft sales exec Alex Dobson to be its new vice president and general manager for North America. The appointment is the latest in a series of recent changes at the corporation, which has had its fair share of controversy in the past year. Dobson is charged with improving channel effectiveness and working with existing end users in North America, according to a statement from 3Com.

Dobson has a long history of executive sales positions. At VoIP firm BroadSoft, he beefed up the channel and scored a number of key customers for the company. Before that, Dobson was vice president of business development at mobile software company NetMotion. He spent three years at 3Com in the 1990s serving in senior sales positions.

In May, 3Com named former Nortel exec Tony Wang as vice president of worldwide supply chain. Before that, the company named a new CEO, Robert Mao, to be based in China. That happened after the company experienced a high-profile, failed buyout, shaking up investors and channel partners.

HP launches SaaS, BTO software

Continuing its acronym-heavy tech push, Hewlett-Packard this week announced Business Technology Optimization (BTO) and Software as a Service (SaaS) products to help IT professionals solve problems that span business services and applications. HP also introduced new integrations of business transaction management and problem isolation technologies. These new business service management offerings, and a new ITIL V3-based Configuration Management System (CMS) solution, could provide a broader view of information about business services.

Novell adds VMware support

Novell has modified its SUSE Linux Enterprise Server (SLES) to improve its performance on the VMware ESX hypervisor, according to our sister site SearchServerVirtualization.com. By adding support for VMware's Virtual Machine Interface (VMI) to SLES 10 Service Pack 2, Novell says SUSE will run faster in VMware environments. But the company has not put forth any specific numbers, only saying that the improvement in performance will be "significant."

IT managers split on consumer technology in enterprise

IT managers are split about whether social networking and other consumer technologies are necessary in the enterprise -- or, in fact, should be kept out, SearchWinIT.com reported this week. At Microsoft TechEd 2008 last week, IT managers convened to discuss the effect of consumer technologies on IT departments. There are still many companies that have yet to set a formal policy for use of these tools, and IT managers who are charged with protecting corporate data hold mixed views on their adoption.

Some IT managers have security concerns, including when it comes to storing business-critical documents in the cloud. And others note how the influx of instant messaging into the enterprise brought along with it the threat of new viruses. Still, some managers see ways that these technologies can increase employee productivity.

Monday, June 16

IBM denies DB2 open source talk

IBM says it is not planning to make its DB2 database open source. News.com reported earlier Monday that IBM might be forced by market conditions to such action. An IBM spokesman said, "There are no plans to open source DB2." IBM has already taken the open source route for its Java-based Cloudscape database, turning that code over to the community where it became the basis for the Derby database.

Salesforce.com Summer '08 goes live

Salesforce.com has enabled the quarterly "Summer '08" update of its hosted CRM services and made the Visualforce "Platform as a Service" offering live across all editions. The company has touted Visualforce as a tool that enables VARs or integrators to build custom user interfaces to services running on Salesforce.com's infrastructure. In this update, the company has also made all of its content available in 15 languages.

Palo Alto Networks targets SMB channel with firewall

Palo Alto Networks says its newly available PA-2000 Series firewall suits midsized businesses and the value-added resellers (VARs) supporting them. The turnkey switch runs the PAN-OS operating system and can control more than 600 applications regardless of port, protocol or encryption, according to the company. The switch can also perform URL filtering, file blocking and real-time threat prevention versus vulnerability exploits, spyware and viruses, the company said in a statement.

The PA-2050 supports up to 1 Gbps throughput and lists for $16,000; the PA-2020 supports up to 500 Mbps throughput and lists for $12,000. Both models are available immediately.

HP introduces new blade server

Hewlett-Packard says its new Integrity NonStop NB50000c BladeSystem is ideal for mainframe applications in finance, public sector and telecommunications companies. The server includes new system management tools, 24/7 fault-tolerant software and real-time response capabilities. To entice customers using competing servers, a new incentive program promises to deliver the new hardware free along with one year of NonStop platform software if they transfer from mainframes. The BladeSystem was unveiled at the HP Technology Forum and Expo and is now available to interested customers.

Microsoft removes Windows Live Help Community

Microsoft has pulled the plug on the Windows Live Help Community, according to the Liveside blog. Users trying to access the service were redirected to Windows Live Help. Microsoft had made Windows Live Help Community available in December 2006, adding another link in the chain of Windows Live services. Others include Windows Live Account Help Central and Feedback, Live Search QnA, Windows Live Message Boards and public newsgroups. Windows Live Help Community is the latest in a series of Windows Live/Live Search services to disappear, as Microsoft tries to streamline its help and feedback channels.

Nortel goes David-and-Goliath in ad campaign attacking Cisco

Nortel is attacking Cisco Systems in a new series of Web and print ads, accusing the company of producing energy-hungry networking equipment. Nortel claims Cisco's equipment uses twice as much energy as comparable Nortel products.

This weekend The Wall Street Journal reported on the scrappy ad campaign, dubbing Nortel's undertaking as a David-and-Goliath attempt. That's because, according to The Journal, Nortel owns just 4% of the market for enterprise communications networks, while Cisco largely dominates the market.

Nortel has chosen to take a nontraditional approach to its most recent green marketing campaign, linking advertising to bloggers and launching a Web-based energy efficiency calculator. Nortel did let up a little on the guerilla marketing tactics. It originally bought the Internet domain names "ciscoenergytax.com" and "yourciscoenergytax.com," but after Cisco complained, Nortel gave the Web addresses up.

Cisco would not comment on Nortel's campaign, but said Cisco's equipment meets the standards of the product testing company Miercom.

Polycom developer group grows

Polycom's ARENA ecosystem of developers is expanding. ARENA is a web of software applications developers, hardware device makers and conferencing solution providers that contribute to Polycom's collaborative communications offering. Four new partners were added to the group today, which now ranges from cable companies to software developers and wireless network equipment providers.

Polycom has been hailed for creating a partner ecosystem that can develop solutions for its collaborative communications offering. The web now has 20 partners that offer standards-based integrated applications and equipment for enterprise collaboration in various vertical markets, including healthcare, manufacturing, education and hospitality. The partners also address mobile solutions and video streaming.

The four new companies are Angran, Hitachi Cable Networks, PowerDsine and Vantage Point Products.

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