IT Channel News Briefs, Aug. 15

Carl Icahn gets his men on Yahoo's board, and SAP rolls out its TechEd 2008 schedule.

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News for the week of Aug. 11-15, 2008 -- in brief, updated daily, on topics important to the information technology (IT) channel.

Friday, Aug. 14

Yahoo names pro-Icahn directors

Activist investor Carl Icahn's fight to take over Yahoo ended yesterday when the company named two pro-Icahn directors. Yahoo appointed former Viacom CEO Frank Biondi, Jr. and former Nextel CEO John Chapple to its board of directors, as part of a truce with Icahn announced in July. Under the deal, Icahn also received a seat on the board and agreed to drop his proxy fight for control of the company. Icahn had wanted to persuade Yahoo to accept a buyout offer from Microsoft.

SAP announces TechEd dates

SAP announced the dates of its TechEd 2008 partner and user conferences, which will run in four cities worldwide this fall. The events will take place in Las Vegas, Sept. 8-12; Berlin, Oct. 14-16; Shanghai, Nov. 5-6; and Bangalore, Nov. 12-14. The conferences, themed "Connect, Collaborate, Co-Innovate," are expected to draw SAP partners and users worldwide, giving them a chance to brainstorm, gain skills and strategize around SAP. SAP said the agenda was created based on feedback from SAP partners and users, and it will include sessions with technical experts. Last year, TechED drew 16,000 attendees worldwide. The events also give SAP a chance to tout new and existing applications and services.

Secretive Sinofsky starts Windows 7 blog

Steven Sinofsky, the former field marshal behind Office and now Windows, is going to blog -- shocking news to those who see Sinofsky as famously closed-mouthed. But he and Jon DeVaan will participate in a blog leading into Microsoft's Windows Hardware Engineering Conference (WinHEC) and Professional Developers Conference (PDC) this fall. Some say this news means that Microsoft is really trying to put Vista behind it and try to drum up interest in the next release.

From the kick-off post:

"Top of mind for us is the responsibility we feel to make sure we are not stressing priorities, churning resource allocations, or causing strategic confusion among the tens of thousands of partners and customers who care deeply and have much invested in the evolution of Windows."

They said they intend to post regularly.

NetApp still fighting to get into the enterprise

NetApp is facing critical issues trying to break into the enterprise, SearchStorage.com reported this week. Despite 26% revenue growth over the last year, last quarter NetApp saw a 7.4% decline, which was due largely to expansion of its sales force and a shift to low-end products. But there was also not the expected growth in the high end of the market. NetApp President Tom Georgens said during an earnings call there has been only modest growth in top enterprise accounts, and CEO Dan Warmenhoven said the number of million-dollar deals was not as strong as last quarter, although it was much stronger than a year ago. Midrange systems still make up most of NetApp's product revenue, although entry-level systems were up 74%, and high-end systems were up 36%.

Thursday, Aug. 14

VMware patches ESX bug

VMware has released an emergency patch for a bug that locked users out of their virtual machines (VMs) earlier this week. The bug in ESX 3.5 Update 2 reared its head Tuesday, when users who shut down their VMs the previous day were greeted with a "general system error" message, according to SearchServerVirtualization.com. VMware released the emergency patch the following day, along with an apology from new CEO Paul Maritz.

Mobile device OS market to diversify

Though BlackBerry dominates the mobile device market, other mobile operating systems such as Windows Mobile, iPhone for Mac OS X, Linux OS and Palm OS lend to an increasingly diverse market. According to SearchCIO-Midmarket.com, Forrester analysts predict BlackBerry will still lead the market in the next five years. Today 73% of businesses support BlackBerry, while 54% employ Windows Mobile; 83% say they are somewhat likely to continue supporting BlackBerry five years from now, and 87% expect to support Windows Mobile in 2013. While some businesses remain cautious about support for iPhone, IT workers may be obligated to manage a greater variety of OSes growing in popularity, including Mac OS X.

IBM to rebrand XIV system

IBM is set to launch its block-level Web 2.0 system acquired from XIV Ltd. under the IBM name, SearchStorage.com reported this week. IBM acquired XIV's parent company, Nextra, last January in a deal worth at least $300 million. But IBM wanted to enhance XIV before releasing it under the Big Blue name. IBM has not officially commented on the release, but according to interviews with IBM sources, the new system includes a redesigned box and a software upgrade.

XenServer gets Hyperic plug-in

Hyperic Inc. is the latest vendor to board the Citrix XenServer ship, with a plug-in for its Hyperic HQ management and monitoring software, according to SearchServerVirtualization.com. The plug-in offers administrators a unified view of physical and virtual resources. Administrators can use Hyperic HQ for Citrix XenServer and work from a single, integrated view of virtual and nonvirtual infrastructures, as well as all applications running on these environments.

Wednesday, Aug. 13

Best Buy to sell iPhone, launch airport kiosks

Best Buy will become the first independent U.S. retailer to sell the iPhone, according to the Associated Press. Best Buy's announcement today to resell the iPhone will expand its availability to 970 stores and 16 Best Buy Mobile locations. After two years of computer system upgrades and 250,000 hours spent training employees, Best Buy announced it had fully implemented Best Buy Mobile cell phone departments into stores last week. Best Buy also sells Apple's Mac computers and iPod media players. RadioShack is the only other reseller for AT&T phones, but it does not sell the iPhone.

Best Buy also announced plans this week to launch airport vending kiosks for technology in a program called Best Buy Express. A dozen kiosks -- selling iPods, headphones, cell phones, digital cameras, portable gaming devices, chargers, flash drives and other items -- will arrive in airports Sept. 1. Planned locations include Atlanta, Boston, Dallas, Houston, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Minneapolis and San Francisco, while a test drive is available at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport.

Gartner drops Oracle, SAP products from rankings

Oracle's E-Business Suite and PeopleSoft, as well as SAP's CRM On Demand and RightNow Technologies, have dropped out of Gartner's latest sales force automation software rankings. Our sister site SearchCRM.com reported yesterday that Salesforce.com and Oracle's Siebel CRM are the market leaders, according to Gartner's annual Magic Quadrant. Their top three challengers are Microsoft Dynamics CRM, SAP CRM and Sage's SalesLogix.

TechSelect boosts VMware training

Tech Data's annual TechSelect University kicks off next week, featuring free VMware Certified Professional (VCP) and VMWare Sales Professional (VSP) training. There will be a technology lab for VMware trainees who want hands-on instruction, and a mobile virtualization lab will provide server and desktop virtualization demonstrations. Other courseware includes Cisco Sales Essentials and managing and maintaining Windows Server 2008, according to Tech Data, the Clearwater, Fla-based distributor.

Trend Micro posts mixed results

Trend Micro posted earnings Tuesday with a net income of $37 million in the second quarter, a 4% growth in net sales from the same period last year. Still, business in a couple of foreign markets was weak, bringing down overall numbers.

Sales growth was led by a 9% increase in revenue in Europe and a 7% increase in Japan. Even with a shaky economy in the United States, North American sales grew 4%. However, the company took a hit in Asia Pacific sales, which decreased 16%, and in Latin American sales, which decreased 5%.

SAP, partners focus on risk management

SAP and select partners are working to help customers prepare for Standard & Poor's new enterprise risk management (ERM) evaluations. SAP, Deloitte, IBM Global Business Services, PricewaterhouseCoopers and Protiviti will collaborate on risk management software, services and best practice frameworks to help customers address S&P's forthcoming requirements, SAP said this week at the Business Objects Influencer Summit in Boston.

In May, S&P said it will add the ERM review to its rating analysis of nonfinancial companies; S&P has included this analysis in its ratings of financial institutions and insurers since 2005. Under the new directive, "Enterprise Risk Management: Standard & Poor's to Apply Enterprise Risk Analysis to Corporate Ratings," all companies seeking a positive credit rating will be required to provide evidence of a formal and effective risk management program.

Gartner predicts rise in mini-notebooks shipments

Mini-notebooks, a growing segment of the mobile computing device market, will reach 5.2 million shipments worldwide in 2008 and 8 million in 2009, according to Gartner. With the expected market increase, 50 million units could be shipped in 2012. Mini-notebooks offer screen sizes of five to 10 inches and a lightweight and basic PC functionality on client operating systems such as Windows XP and Linux. Demand for mini-notebooks has expanded since 2007, from consumers in the education industry to more emerging markets and business buyers this year. Gartner does not expect mini-notebooks to dominate mobile PC shipments in 2008 and 2009 but predicts they will overcome low-end mobile PC units by 2010 and improve business PC shipments significantly in 2011.

Tuesday, Aug. 12

Sun signs more virtualization OEMs

Sun Microsystems has inked original equipment manufacturer (OEM) pacts with Avanquest Software, Q-Layer and Zenith InfoTech for its xVM VirtualBox virtualization software. The agreements will expand the reach of Sun's open source virtualization, the company said today.

VirtualBox is compact virtualization software -- just a 20 MB install -- that lets VARs create virtual machines that can run Mac OS X, Linux, Windows, Solaris and/or OpenSolaris operating systems. Several operating systems can run simultaneously on the resulting VMs. And all APIs are exposed, so the OEMs can customize products.

Microsoft updates .NET Framework 3.5, Visual Studio 2008

Microsoft announced Monday the release to manufacturing of its .NET Framework 3.5 SP1 and Visual Studio 2008 SP1. The service packs feature updates based on customer feedback about .NET Framework 3.5 and Visual Studio 2008, which were released nine months ago.

The .NET Framework 3.5 SP1 provides Windows application deployment with its new .NET Framework Client Profile, Microsoft said. The service pack generates managed code to improve application startup time and utilize security features in Windows Vista. Additional features include support for ASP.NET Dynamic Data and SQL Server 2008. Visual Studio 2008 SP1 offers updated designers for WPF applications and the ADO.NET Entity Framework, as well as new tools for Microsoft's AJAX applications.

Open source Java security highlighted

Businesses and organizations need to pay more attention to security vulnerabilities in open source Java software, according to security vendor Fortify Software. Our sister site SearchSoftwareQuality.com reports the results of Fortify's Java Open Review project, which reviewed the security of several open source projects, including Struts, Hibernate, Geronimo, Hipergate and JBoss. Some of the biggest problems facing open source Java developers are cross-site scripting and SQL injection vulnerabilities, according to Fortify.

Virtual Iron increases power efficiency

Virtual Iron Software has released an updated version of Virtual Iron 4.4, SearchServerVirtualization.com reported Monday. The software includes a power-saving feature called LivePower, which monitors virtual machine use and adjusts physical resources accordingly.

When there is excess CPU capacity on a Virtual Iron server, LivePower consolidates virtual machines onto fewer physical servers and shuts down idle physical servers. It can also bring servers back up when capacity increases.

Virtual Iron version 4.4 will be generally available later this month and priced at $799 per processor socket, including LivePower at no extra charge. New customers can get it as an integrated part of the product, and existing customers can get LivePower for free when they upgrade to Version 4.4.

Monday, Aug. 11

Oracle launches updated WebLogic

Oracle is now shipping an updated version of the popular WebLogic application server, formerly known as BEA WebLogic. WebLogic Server is Oracle's strategic app server going forward and is the primary reason behind Oracle's $8.5 billion buyout of BEA Systems.

The new Oracle WebLogic Server 10g R3 promises integration with Oracle Fusion Middleware products, including Oracle JDeveloper, Oracle Coherence and Oracle TopLink, and Oracle Enterprise Manager. Oracle, as many partners had predicted, also hiked BEA prices, as first reported by SearchITChannel.com in June.

Sprint could sell Nextel network

Sprint may be looking to unload the Nextel Communications iDen network it acquired in 2005, according to Reuters. The problem is, since the $35 billion acquisition of Nextel, the iDen network has plunged in value by 80%, to about $5 billion, so Sprint may have trouble finding a buyer.

Beyond that, the Nextel iDen network, which is mostly used by public safety and construction workers, will be hard to unravel from Sprint's technology, because the company has worked hard to integrate the two. What's more, the network has to compete with newer standards. About 14.6 million subscribers, or 28% of Sprint's total 51.9 million customers, were exclusively using the iDen network at the end of the second quarter. Another 1.7 million used phones working on both iDen and CDMA networks.

Intel expands Core line of chips

Intel will sell its new generation of chips for desktop computers under the Core brand, calling the first released chips in the line Core i7, according to the Associated Press. The new chips are expected to be in production in the last three months of this year. Intel said that the Core name, already used for other chips, will be its flagship PC processor brand. "Expect Intel to focus even more marketing resources around that name and the Core i7 products starting now," said Sean Maloney, Intel's general manager of sales and marketing, in a news release.

Virtual support for Exchange, SQL Server coming

Microsoft will likely release support information for virtualizing Exchange and SQL Server at its "Get Virtual Now" event Sept. 8 in Bellevue, Wash., according to SearchWinIT.com. The event will celebrate the recent release of Microsoft's server virtualization hypervisor, Hyper-V, and feature training for partners and customers.

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