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IT Channel News Briefs, March 28

Headlines for March 28: Admins stick with XP; Red Hat red hot; Oracle's free Linux clusters.

News for the week of March 24-28, 2008 -- in brief, updated daily, on topics important to the information technology (IT) channel.

Friday, March 29

XP-loving enterprises snub Vista, even with free support

IT managers at a TechTarget event on Windows Vista migration have stopped just short of telling Microsoft that the company will have to pry Windows XP out of their cold, dead fingers. The emerging consensus among IT professionals is that XP continues to work just fine, while the benefits of upgrading to Vista -- even with free Microsoft support for migrations to Vista Service Pack 1 (SP1) -- don't outweigh the considerable negatives. (See yesterday's News Briefs below). Whether those negatives are an inherent part of the Vista operating system or a problem with third-party software and hardware support is almost beside the point, say the managers, many of whom are more interested in the impending release of Windows XP Service Pack 3 (SP3).

Red Hat profits increase

Open source vendor Red Hat saw its profits rise by 7% last quarter, according to the Associated Press. Red Hat announced its quarterly and annual earnings yesterday. Quarterly profits were $22 million, and revenue was $141.5 million, which was slightly above expectations. Red Hat said its annual revenue increased by 31%. The news shows there continues to be room for solution providers to make money in open source.

Oracle to Linux users: You want free clusters with that?

Oracle can't seem to get enough Red Hat baiting. Two years after announcing Unbreakable Linux, Oracle is adding free clusterware to the support program, reports. All basic and premium-package Oracle Unbreakable Linux customers will get the clustering free, Oracle said at this week's Open Source Business Conference in San Francisco.

Clusterware harnesses the processing and storage capacity of multiple servers into a single system that can be centrally monitored and managed. Oracle has offered cluster management for years, but this is the first time it has included it in its Unbreakable Linux support program. The company claims 2,000 customers have signed up for its Linux support and says most came from Red Hat. Its annual Linux support ranges from $1,000 to $2,000 per server, compared to $1,500 to $2,500 per server for Red Hat, according to

Windows Server 2008 remote management tools ready for download

Microsoft has made available updated remote tools that manage Windows Server 2008 from a desktop running Vista Service Pack 1 (SP1), reported this week. The toolkit is the updated version of what used to be called ADMINPAK.MSI, and it is ready for download at Microsoft's download website. Remote Server Administration Tools have an updated group policy management console, which adds search, filter, commenting, group policy preferences and other features, Microsoft said.

Strong contracts improve managed hosting services efforts

Companies that offer SAP ERP managed hosting services should focus on inking a bulletproof service-level agreement (SLA) to ensure a strong financial deal, reported this week. SLAs make clear the specific services and software a vendor will provide users or partners, and they are something tangible with which to renegotiate when it comes time to renew a contract.

"You want to be able to bring that [documentation] back and either ask for reduced prices or credits for failures during the last period," said Cal Braunstein, chairman, CEO and executive director of research with the Robert Frances Group, a Westport, Conn.-based IT consultancy.

Thursday, March 27

Oracle boosts profits, stock swoons

Oracle sales rose a healthy 30% year over year for its fiscal third quarter, meeting estimates on income but missing revenue projections. Shares swooned 8% after the market closed yesterday.

For the quarter ending Feb. 29, the company logged $1.3 billion -- or 26 cents per share -- in profit. Oracle is in the spotlight after tens of billions worth of acquisitions of applications, tools and business intelligence companies. Pundits say its buying spree shows that the database market -- where Oracle reigns -- has become commoditized.

Oracle contends with market leader SAP in enterprise applications and increasingly with Microsoft and SAP in selling applications to smaller companies. In that arena Oracle needs channel partners for coverage. Oracle also faces more competition with Microsoft SQL Server in its core database market. Company CFO Jeff Henley told analysts Wednesday night that he did not expect things to change much for the fiscal fourth quarter.

New license sales rose 16% for the quarter. (The company had forecasted a rise of 15% to 25%). For the current quarter, Oracle projected earnings of 37 cents to 38 cents a share, up from 31 cents a year earlier.

Windows Server 2008 security may be faulty

Argentinian researcher Cesar Cerrudo, founder and CEO of Argeniss Information Security, claims he has discovered serious security flaws in Windows Server 2008 that engineers failed to catch during the Security Development Lifecycle, reported yesterday. The security shortcomings could allow accounts commonly used by Windows to bypass the services protection mechanism and elevate privileges to achieve complete control over the operating system, Cerrudo said. Apparently the design weaknesses can be abused on Windows XP, Vista, Internet Information Services 7 (IIS 7), Server 2003 and Server 2008.

Cerrudo plans to present these glitches April 17 at the HITBSecConf2008 in Dubai, during a presentation entitled "Token Kidnapping." Microsoft claims on its website that Windows Server 2008 is the most secure server yet. Bill Sisk, security response communications manager for Microsoft, said the company is aware of Cerrudo's claim and is working with researchers to fully understand the findings. He also said that necessary actions to protect customers will be taken if necessary. Cerrudo said Microsoft has invited him to present his findings at the company's Blue Hat security conference but that a schedule conflict will prevent him from doing so.

Gartner: iPhone improvements OK

Gartner has softened its anti-iPhone stance. The Stamford, Conn.-based research firm said earlier this month that the iPhone was not suitable for business use. But now, vice president and distinguished analyst Ken Dulaney tells that Apple is making an enterprise push. He still warns against Apple's lack of enterprise experience, but he says iPhone's new Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync support makes it safe for limited business uses, such as email.

IBM looks beyond 'click here' Web attacks

Cyber criminals still do most of their harm by preying on unsuspecting Internet users through unsophisticated "click here" attacks, according to Danny Allan, IBM Rational's director of security research, and former research director at Watchfire. But that will change, he said, as Web users get better at spotting simpler scams.

Allan told that his team at IBM is focusing on Web application security to prepare companies for Web 2.0 attacks based on cross-site scripting, cross-site request forgery and other sophisticated tactics. Allan advises companies using Web applications developed or managed by service providers to have service-level agreements in place that contain specific guarantees about application-level security.

Juniper snags chip innovator from Sun

Sun Microsystem's executive vice president of microelectronics, David Yen, is leaving after 20 years to join Juniper Networks as executive vice president of emerging technologies. Yen leaves just as Sun is reorganizing its chip business partially around the super-quick UltraSPARC T2 processor -- known as Niagra 2 -- that he played a major role in bringing to market less than a year ago.

Mike Splain, senior vice president and chief technology officer of Sun's systems group, will be acting head of Microelectronics. At Juniper, Yen will assemble an engineering team and focus on high-performance computing and networking.

Wednesday, March 26

Sun banks on open source, MySQL

Sun has shifted its software strategy to focus on open source, according to Barton George, the group manager for Sun Microsystems Inc.'s GNU/Linux strategy, who sat down for a Q&A with this week. Addressing software development, George said, "One way is to contribute to existing projects. The other way is to turn your projects over to others in the software ecosystem. … The message is that if something at Sun currently isn't open source, it will be pretty quickly."

Sun's acquisition of open source database developer MySQL enables the company to offer "lower-cost," competitive database software with Sun's 24/7 support services, opening it up to Fortune 500 customers, George said. Recent acquisitions have put Sun ahead of competitors, including Microsoft and Oracle, in the open source race, he added.

Microsoft's Vista woes continue

There's more evidence that Microsoft just can't catch a break when it comes to Windows Vista. First is a story on Todd Bishop's Microsoft Blog that a number of well-known electronics retailers are being subpoenaed as part of the class action "Vista-capable" lawsuit against Microsoft. The plaintiffs are alleging that Microsoft's Vista marketing campaign led to artificially inflated prices for PCs certified as Vista-ready.

Second is a story from that a number of applications designed for Windows XP are still having trouble running on Vista, even with Service Pack 1 (SP1). The problems stem from fundamental code changes to the Vista user interface, including changes to Desktop Windows Manager, the Windows shell and user profiles.

Microsoft serves up XAML doc

Continuing its quest to be seen as a good software citizen, Microsoft has posted some 600 pages of XAML documentation on its website.

XAML -- or the transaction authority markup language -- is "the HTML of applications," said Sam Ramji, Microsoft's senior director of platform technology strategy. "Instead of writing an application in C++ or Java SWT, where you have to specify 'Here's how to make a window,' etc., you write in a markup language that is not served up from a server but is on your desktop."

The XAML docs will be available under the Microsoft Open Specification Promise (OSP) which means, according to Ramji, it will be available "universally for any developer to develop for profit or not for profit." Ramji talked up the news at the Open Source Business Conference on Tuesday. In addition, Microsoft is working with SourceSense, a key European open source integrator, to contribute code to the Apache POI so that the POI will support Microsoft's proposed Open Office XML.

Citi: Microsoft will up Yahoo bid

A Citi Research Investment analyst said Microsoft will eventually acquire Yahoo -- but not until it increases its bid, according to the Associated Press. The analyst said he expects Yahoo's stock -- which closed Tuesday at $28.73 a share -- to rise to $34. Microsoft's initial bid was for $31 a share.

Tuesday, March 25

Microsoft offers free Vista SP1 support

As more compatibility and installation problems with Windows Vista Service Pack 1 (SP1) pop up, Microsoft yesterday announced a free support program for users and partners. Free Vista SP1 support is available via email, with a promised response time of one day, or through online chat. Microsoft partners, Software Assurance customers and subscribers to TechNet or the Microsoft Developer Network can also take advantage of free phone support.

Dell may face subprime lending problem

Dell's longstanding partnership with a subprime lender could lead to financial problems, according to Barron's Online. A report there yesterday noted that troubled lender CIT Group owned 30% of Dell Financial Services (DFS) up until the end of last year. Dell has since bought back CIT's stake, but has still generated 9% of its sales this year through DFS -- which could expose Dell to a credit crisis, the report said.

Sun launches DARPA initiative

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has awarded Sun Microsystems $44.29 million to develop technology that will enable microchips to communicate with each other using lasers rather than wires. The five-and-a-half-year contract is part of DARPA's Ultraperformance Nanophotonic Intrachip Communication program, according to a statement posted to Sun's website. Sun's work will build on DARPA's High Productivity Computing Systems program.

Pots of gold for SAP consultants

This year will be a good one for SAP consultants, according to With new SAP products being introduced at a rapid pace, two consultants interviewed by the site say that those in the channel with next-generation SAP skills stand to gain. Some specific skills that will be in demand for SAP consultants include the Enterprise Core Components of SAP ERP and the Architects, Basis (BI and Portal) and Developers components of NetWeaver.

Motorola takes mobile tech to the channel

Motorola announced today that it will offer a unified mobile computing package, including enterprise mobile messaging and intranet, to more than 12,000 value-added resellers (VARs) worldwide in its PartnerSelect channel program. Motorola's intranet and messaging technologies come from its 2007 acquisition of Good Technologies.

The offering will include devices, data service plans, wireless email and other applications that are firewall-protected. Good technology extends IBM Lotus and Domino, Microsoft Exchange and other enterprise systems to smart devices and networks, as well as managed services. The services have also been opened to a range of devices, including many of Motorola's devices and a variety of Palm, HTC and Samsung smart phones.

Initially the service will be open to the existing PartnerSelect partners. The company will determine which partners are the best fit and which will opt out. At that point, the company will add additional partners.

Educators not schooled on e-discovery, compliance

Many school districts are running afoul of Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and state Sunshine Laws requiring them to keep relevant electronic information reasonably accessible. The first problem, according to school IT administrators interviewed by, is a lack of awareness on the part of the bureaucracy.

The second problem, which is even more challenging, is the lack of funding and manpower to make e-discovery and compliance happen. In the meantime, school districts that don't take measures to archive relevant data continue to be vulnerable in the event of lawsuits. The channel can help school districts sort through the government regulations, but they can't solve the political and budgetary problems that are causing the inertia.

Monday, March 24

Report: Intel channel execs retiring early

Four senior North American channel executives at Intel are taking early retirement, according to a ChannelWeb report. According to the report, which cited two anonymous sources, three of the executives are Shirley Turner, North American channel marketing director; Nick Davison, North American channel sales director; and Mike Steward, manager of North American channel marketing programs and initiatives. Intel is undergoing corporate restructuring, and in January the company reported lower-than-expected profits and revenue for the fourth quarter of 2007.

Microsoft releases Server, Vista deployment kit

Microsoft's new Deployment Toolkit 2008 for Windows Server 2008 and Windows Vista promises "Zero Touch Installation" and a new wizard-driven user interface. The toolkit download follows the release last week of Vista Service Pack 1 as a manual download on Windows Update, according to Deployment Toolkit 2008 also offers guides for getting started with an operating system deployment, a new task sequencer for configuring the operating system and Lite Touch installation support for multicasting with Windows Deployment Services.

VMware investing in India

VMware will invest $100 million in India over the next two years and double its staff there, according to Reuters. The company announced its plan today and said the money will fund research and development. In a statement, CEO Diane Greene cited the growing importance of VMware's systems integrators (SIs) in India as a major reason to invest in the country.

Microsoft takes up company for UC and telepresence offering

Microsoft announced two partnerships last week meant to keep it competitive in the unified communications (UC) and telepresence markets. In one deal, Tandberg is developing a high-definition webcam that will interact with Microsoft's unified communications platform. The camera will extend high-definition video to individual users at the desktop. Tandberg will deliver the camera with the next release of Microsoft Office Communications Server.

In another deal, Polycom will expand the compatibility between its visual applications and Microsoft Office Communications Server 2007. Ultimately users will be able to launch voice, video and telepresence calls from their Microsoft Office Communicator 2007 contact lists -- bringing better-quality audio and video conferencing out of the conference room and to the desktop.

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