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IT Channel News Briefs, July 11

Today's headlines: Partners, customers prefer third-party tools to Oracle's; new iPhone drops; IBM and Juniper partner on data center.

News for the week of July 7-July 11, 2008 -- in brief, updated daily, on topics important to the information technology (IT) channel.

Friday, July 11

Third-party tools still key in Oracle universe

Oracle wants partners to sell (and customers to use) more of its infrastructure stack, but third-party tools offer more features, functions and flexibility than Oracle's own lineup, according to Enterprises go with third-party options because they often best Oracle in terms of new features and because most companies mix and need to manage heterogeneous data environments, said Noël Yuhanna, a Forrester Research analyst.

Brace yourselves: New iPhone hits shelves

Apple's long-awaited 3G iPhone is available today and Apple outlets are bracing for the usual stampede. Businesses may take a look since a software update makes both this version and previous models better corporate citizens, able to tie into commonly used email systems.

IBM data center hosts Juniper worldwide applications

IBM and Juniper Networks have signed an agreement through which IBM will provide Juniper with a next-generation data center hosting environment to support enterprise resource planning (ERP) and customer relationship management (CRM) application deployment worldwide.

IBM will host Juniper's operations from its new Boulder, Colo.-based green data center. Juniper will use IBM's microchip technology, System-p servers, BladeCenter technology and enterprise storage, along with its own JUNOS OS-based network infrastructure.

Aastra offers VAR discount on new Response Point systems

Aastra is offering Microsoft Response Point VARs special limited-quantity pricing on its AastraLink RP Startup Bundle kit through Wesbell Technologies. The startup bundle consists of a base unit, gateway, one entry-level phone, one full-featured phone and one advanced-feature phone for $1,399, or $1,000 off suggested retail pricing.

Microsoft announced Response Point Service Pack 1 earlier this week. The software promises to bring easy-to-configure and easy-to-change telephony systems to small businesses.

Thursday, July 10

Green IT may not be as cost-effective as expected

A research report commissioned by Bell Micro shows that green IT policies saved only a median 10% of energy costs -- which is much lower than the rate predicted by many in the industry. Reported savings ranged from 2% to 90%, but in large companies none indicated over 50% savings. The research, consisting of 350 interviews in a variety of IT sectors, also showed that among the 21% of businesses using green IT policies, 12% attributed these strategies to reduced energy costs. However, many businesses believed that better green IT policies could decrease operational costs in the future. Of companies without green IT, 89% thought that introducing green policies into the IT department would trigger significant energy savings. Despite such optimism, the research indicates that green policies have a long way to go before enjoying considerable benefits and acceptance in the IT community.

Sun socializes Partner Advantage

Sun Microsystems says a new ExecConnect feature of its Partner Advantage program will make it easier for partners to chat and collaborate. The online partner social network is now available to Executive-level partners but will be extended to all channel partners at some point. The network would give partner participants access to top Sun execs.

In addition, the company is making the Sun Value Platform, an online tool to help pitch the advantages of new Sun solutions to customers, available to its partners. The tool lets partners input information about a customer's current implementation -- hardware type, electricity costs and so on -- and estimate cost savings if the customer goes to a new Sun solution.

SAP looks to partners for vertical expansion

SAP is looking to add support for specific vertical industries by working with its 2,000-plus partners, according to our sister site, A recent Forrester Research report said SAP and its rival Oracle will both be looking to add more customers this year, but taking different approaches. SAP will rely on partners for vertical expansion and also add industry-specific support through its own enhancement packages in ERP 6.0. Oracle, on the other hand, is known for vertical expansion through acquisitions.

Hazardous DNS flaw rallies server vendors

Vendors that sell domain name system servers released updates to patch a DNS flaw that could affect any server connected to the Internet. Director of penetration testing for IOActive, Dan Kaminsky, discovered the issue about six months ago and worked with 16 researchers at a Microsoft summit in March to correct the flaw. The defect could allow attackers to redirect Internet traffic. Companies such as Microsoft, Cisco Systems and ISC BIND have issued patches to repair the flaw through port randomization. IT administrators should evaluate their name servers over the next 30 days, according to Kaminsky, because the patch release may not update all servers automatically. An automated DNS checker is also available for vendors to verify if the flaw affected a server. While most IT experts have given high importance to the issue, some believe the flaw is a low-risk problem and even say that current attention may motivate attacks. More details of the bug will emerge at the Black Hat 2008 conference Aug. 7 and 8 in Las Vegas.

Verizon expands corporate wireless access applications

Verizon Business Services launched a new enterprise Wi-Fi interface that enables business users to get a secure wireless connection to corporate networks via the Internet and track all usage and costs as they are accrued.

Through the Verizon Wi-Fi Connect interface, an icon appears on a mobile device whenever a user is near a Verizon hot spot (there are 70,000 and growing worldwide). Once the user is connected, usage monitoring and reporting begins. The software is interoperable with wireless LAN software utilities and works with corporate security procedures.

Manpower can be disastrous in IP telephony management

For large-scale enterprise IP telephony deployment, automated testing and management outperforms actual manpower, reported this week. In fact, the manual approach could lead to disaster.

Hiring an "army of technicians" to do spot testing, create reports and test the vendor's phone system is "manual, expensive and does not scale," said Gurmeet Lamba, senior vice president of product development for IP telephony management vendor Clarus Systems. "It's highly error-prone and leads to Monday morning problems."

However, simple packet-sniffing network management products aren't enough, she said. Companies need software products that manage the IP telephony system throughout their lifecycle.

Wednesday, July 9

No surprise: Icahn, Microsoft ally on Yahoo, angering Yang

Microsoft is apparently backing Carl Icahn's move to push out the current Yahoo board, or at least is "interested in restarting talks to acquire some or all of Yahoo Inc." if the board is replaced, The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday. Predictably, Yahoo CEO Jerry Yang blasted that alliance on Wednesday, also in The Wall Street Journal.

Anyone surprised by any of this should buy some swamp land in Florida. Icahn has been pushing Yahoo for months to dump its board. Microsoft launched, then nixed, a $40-billion-something bid, but can't seem to get beyond a Yahoo deal.

Paragon Software launches new channel program for backup

Paragon Software Group, a data security and management solutions provider, commenced its new Paragon Partner Program for the Americas in June. The program includes two tiers, Standard and Alliance, subdivided into two levels each. Focusing on VARs selling to SMBs and mid-enterprise businesses, Paragon developed a program to suit VARs that provide managed services to customers. The company's entire product line is available to resellers through the channel, though the new program will highlight Drive Backup and Partition Manager products. Paragon says the program boasts better margins and profitability with fewer requirements. Benefits of becoming a member include a 24/7 partner hotline, deal registration, Paragon's full-service partner portal and certification training for selected partner levels.

IronKey expands partner program to include over 100 VARs worldwide

IronKey Inc. announced Monday that its global channel partner program now features over 100 VARs from around the world. IronKey, maker of secure USB flash drives, expanded its partner program benefits to complement the growing channel. Partner advantages include product discounts, sales support, lead generation, presales and technical support, product evaluation and beta programs, on-site and webinar training, partner portal access and opportunity registration. IronKey hopes to boost demand for its military-grade portal hardware encryption devices.

ShoreTel patents new IP network technology

On Wednesday IP unified communications (UC) company ShoreTel announced that it received two U.S. patents for technology that covers server backup across distributed IP telephony systems and another technology that collects and shares information when multiple switches are involved in a call. The patented technologies are part of ShoreTel's integrated UC system.

As IP networks proliferate, a number of technologies are expected to arise that help better manage them and keep them sturdy. "As converged networks and technologies grow more complex and applications become more bandwidth-intensive, organizations are facing new business challenges that require the assurance of more consistent, reliable communications across highly distributed infrastructures," said ShoreTel CEO Ed Basart.

Avaya starts new government sales subsidiary; no clear partner play

Avaya has created a subsidiary that will focus solely on selling government solutions in the U.S. The new subsidiary, called Avaya Federal Solutions, will launch in August and have a force of 400 focused on providing IP telephony, contact center and unified communications to government civilian and military agencies. The subsidiary will have its own direct sales force, and a call to the company unearthed no information that new partners will be involved in the government push.

New marketing VP at Digium to work with channel partners

The company that sells Asterisk technology, Digium, appointed a new vice president of global marketing. VP Leslie Conway comes to Digium from networking company ADTRAN where for 17 years she served in many positions, including vice president of global marketing for the enterprise division. At Digium, Conway will work with resellers to build a channel for Asterisk-based solutions. Conway is taking over marketing from Bill Miller, who will now focus solely on managing and expanding Digium's product line.

Tuesday, July 8

IBM to buy mainframe startup

IBM will settle its legal battle against Platform Solutions Inc. (PSI) by acquiring the plug-compatible mainframe startup, reported yesterday. IBM had sued PSI in 2006, claiming patent infringement on its z/OS operating system. PSI countersued last year, accusing IBM of trying to squeeze out competition by integrating z/OS with its hardware. The former adversaries did not disclose terms of the deal.

Response Point SP1 now available

Microsoft's Response Point Service Pack 1 is now available for download. Response Point is the company's phone management system for small businesses. SP1 adds SIP trunking for VoIP to the existing product, which has been available for six months.

Microsoft says Response Point gives small companies (with up to 50 employees) an easily configurable and flexible office phone system. Telephony equipment partners like Aastra Technologies Ltd. will have products available with the new software this week.

Juniper appoints former IBM exec to oversee channels, global sales

Juniper Networks appointed John Morris to the position of executive vice president of worldwide field operations, succeeding Eddie Minshull, who will remain with the company in an advisory role through the third fiscal quarter ending Sept. 30.

Morris will be responsible for global sales, services and channel organizations. Morris was previously at biometrics payment company Pay By Touch, where he served as president and CEO. Prior to that, Morris was with IBM for 23 years where he was vice president and general manager of the distribution sector in the Americas region for much of his tenure.

Cisco still bullish on FCoE

Despite claims by Brocade executives that Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE) will not take off in the mainstream until 2011, Cisco is sticking to its more optimistic outlook, saying that FCoE equipment will begin immediately shipping and technology releases will continue through 2009, reported Monday.

During Brocade's Technology Day on June 26, company executives said FCoE will start showing up in servers in 2010 but won't hit the mainstream for another year. But Cisco vice president of business development Jackie Ross told that she expects Cisco customers to begin using FCoE in production on servers in August, with volume shipments coming in November. She predicts that SAN arrays with native FCoE support will appear by late 2009.

"We are very bullish on the adoption rate of FCoE," Ross said. "I think the large SAN array vendors are saying, 'Let's see how fast this gains traction,' and if they see traction picking up ... we can see native FCoE [on storage] at the end of 2009."

Former HP head Fiorina vice president material?

Former Hewlett-Packard (HP) boss Carly Fiorina has hinted that she would be interested in being Senator John McCain's vice presidential pick or at least in his cabinet, US News and World Report reported Monday. Fiorina is now head of the Republican National Committee's Victory Committee and she is heavily involved in McCain's campaign, often speaking publicly on his behalf.

It has long been rumored that McCain would pick a business leader as vice president instead of a politician, and Fiorina's name has been tossed around in the media for the role. If Fiorina isn't the vice presidential pick, many believe she is a strong candidate for cabinet member, possibly in the role of commerce secretary. "There are many, many people who would be honored to serve in McCain's cabinet, and depending on the opportunity, I would be as well," Fiorina said.

Fiorina became the head of HP in 1999 and oversaw the merger with Compaq Computer, but she was forced out in 2005 because of HP's poor performance.

Xandros acquires Linspire, boosts software delivery for mobile Linux users

Xandros Inc. announced its acquisition of Linspire July 2. Xandros, an OEM Linux solutions provider, will work with Linspire technology to streamline software delivery capabilities. With Linspire's CNR software distribution and Linspire and Freespire Linux desktop operating systems, Xandros can offer enhanced one-click delivery and updates. Both companies are the only Linux vendors that provide users with one-click downloads and installation for free and commercial applications. By fusing capabilities with Linspire, Xandros can increase third-party application development and provide enhanced software delivery for more Linux and mobile users.

Still, the acquisition was not necessarily amiable. Computerworld reported that Linspire's former CEO Kevin Carmony has publicly criticized the sale to Xandros. Carmony wrote in his personal blog that the acquisition was a "secret backroom deal" for Linspire founder Michael Robertson to liquidate what he could from the company.

LeftHand Networks appoints Richard Shea to VP of North American sales

LeftHand Networks announced yesterday that it appointed industry veteran Richard Shea as vice president of North American sales. LeftHand Networks is an iSCSI storage vendor for virtualized environments. According to the company, Shea will work to augment LeftHand's iSCSI SAN leadership and increase revenue among channel partners. As former sales executive for EqualLogic and EMC, Shea built a reputation for developing effective channel go-to-market strategies and assembling successful sales teams.

Monday, July 7

Gartner: IBM, not HP, led Q1 server share

For Hewlett-Packard, it must have been nice while it lasted. In late May, Gartner said HP had displaced rival IBM as king of the hill in server market share in the first quarter. Last week IBM took the crown back. Gartner's revised numbers show IBM with 29.4% share and HP with 28.3%. The May figures, which were widely reported, showed HP selling almost $4 billion in servers for nearly 30% market share of overall server spending.

The kerfuffle points to an inherent issue with analysis of this type: Researchers like Gartner and IDC depend on vendors to supply them with revenue figures or at least guidance. In many cases the report only comes out after weeks of haggling.

Gartner also reduced its estimates of overall server growth for the quarter, to 2.5% from 4.3%.

JBoss 5.0 app server on its way

Sacha Labourey, chief technology officer for JBoss, blogged about the importance of the JBoss 5.0 release. But he buried his lead, which is that RC1 was "frozen" as of July 1 and the team expects to spend another six to seven weeks working on that build. General availability will follow soon after that.

With this release, JBoss, now part of Red Hat, will segment out three tiers of the application server: the base runtime, or JVM, core middleware services and APIs/methodologies.

Now that Oracle has started to digest BEA Systems, the middleware/app server race is bound to get interesting with Oracle, IBM and Red Hat jockeying for position.

Systems integrators are positioned best for WAN optimization sales

WAN optimization is maturing in global markets, and large vendors and channel partners that can offer integrated solutions may have a better shot at success than smaller, best-of-breed companies, Burton Group senior analyst Eric Siegel wrote in a report posted on Monday.

Systems integrators that work with large multi-technology vendors can more easily offer WAN optimization that is easy to integrate into existing networks, compatible with security and authentication designs and is easy to configure and manage.

Nevertheless, Siegel says smaller WAN optimization vendors can prosper if they build strong sales channels and focus on small and medium-sized enterprises. The goal would be to target customers that are tied to their channel suppliers. If that doesn't work, smaller WAN optimization companies are likely to be bought by the bigger players, according to Siegel.

HP-EDS deal sparks CSC to beef up its strategy

HP's proposed acquisition of EDS is lighting the fire under business and technology services competitors to strengthen themselves against the looming behemoth of a company. Research firm Ovum reported Monday that business and technology services firm CSC has expanded partnerships with three key vendors, two of which are close allies of EDS and are in the company's Agility Alliance program.

In June, CSC announced an expanded relationship with Dell to offer less expensive business technology solutions. It also announced an alliance with EMC in which the two companies will offer next-generation data centers and information infrastructure. In addition, CSC formed a global alliance with Xerox to create IT and document management solutions. Xerox and Dell are now part of CSC's recently formed Premier Partnership Program.

The Ovum report says CSC's moves are "not exactly a total surprise" in light of the HP-EDS deal. CSC's CEO Mike Laphen said during a quarterly conference call that some of EDS's partners had approached the company about enhanced partnerships. These particular partnerships make sense, according to Ovum, since Xerox is a competitor with HP on the printing and document management front and EMC competes with HP in storage. It remains unclear what will happen to vendors that have close alliances with EDS, but are direct competitors of HP.

NetApp unites OnTap GX with OnTap operating system

NetApp Inc. officials said they are closing in on uniting the company's OnTap GX clustered file system with its base OnTap operating system, reported last week. Moving GX onto OnTap comes after a series of delays since NetApp acquired clustered NAS player Spinnaker in 2004. GX didn't ship until June 2006 and another two years have passed without a converged OS.

NetApp plans one more dot release each for OnTap GX and OnTap 7G before the two are merged into OnTap 8 in 2009. While the company would not give a specific release date, one financial analyst (who requested anonymity) said the word on the street is OnTap 8 will appear around April, and it will be crucial for the vendor to get it right.

"Given the integration challenges that had existed with the acquisition of Spinnaker Networks in 2004, it is important for the company to execute on this," the analyst said. "If they don't execute, it is going to become more and more challenging to compete in the higher end of the market."

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