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IT Channel News Briefs, Aug. 8

Today's headlines: Everything Xen at Citrix. IBM's Linux initiative. Microsoft Office patches on their way.

News for the week of Aug. 4-8, 2008 -- in brief, updated daily, on topics important to the information technology (IT) channel.

Friday, Aug. 8

Citrix CTO stands by Xen

Citrix CTO Simon Crosby reaffirmed his company's commitment to the Xen hypervisor during yesterday's LinuxWorld keynote, according to Crosby's comments came in response to analyst Brian Madden, who recently predicted that Citrix would drop Xen because Citrix partner Microsoft has released its own hypervisor, Hyper-V. Crosby said that because Xen is open source, it can go beyond servers and help make virtualization ubiquitous.

IBM bolsters enterprise Linux

IBM announced several collaborative ventures with open source vendors and independent software providers (ISVs) at the LinuxWorld Conference and Expo that it hopes will add to Linux's appeal in the enterprise, reported Thursday. IBM said its Lotus Foundations all-in-one business application server will come with SUSE Linux Enterprise 10 preloaded and preconfigured. IBM also announced a software appliance toolkit enabling ISVs to build applications that can be installed with a USB key or compact disk.

Additionally, IBM's new 5.4 version of system z/VM will enable Linux administrators to add more memory while remaining in operation. IBM also donated Linux code for managing and monitoring high-performance clusters to the open source community. Finally, Novell's SUSE Enterprise Linux Real Time 10 is now certified for operation on several IBM BladeCenter servers and with its WebSphere Real Time Java-based application development environment.

Microsoft Office patches coming

Microsoft will issue 12 security patches -- including seven critical updates -- next week, according to Four of the critical patches address exploitable flaws in Microsoft Office, specifically Access, Excel and PowerPoint. Microsoft will release the patches Aug. 12 around 10 a.m. Pacific.

Study: Enterprises will pay for network optimization

An Ovum research survey of 150 enterprises in North America and Europe showed that less than half the respondents were satisfied with application performance on corporate networks, and that 65% to 80% would consider paying network service providers to improve application optimization. Moreover, 60% of North American respondents said they are already were or would consider using a third party for optimizing and monitoring network performance.

"These results confirm the value-added services trend we have been seeing in the market for several years," said Jeffry Herman, vice president and general manager of Ipanema Technologies' North American operations. Ipanema commissioned the study.

Thursday, Aug. 7

Yahoo voting error led to inflated results

Remember late last week, when we got the surprising news that Yahoo CEO Jerry Yang and his board of directors received high marks from shareholders at Yahoo's annual meeting? Turns out that was the result of a vote-counting error, and Yahoo's leadership isn't as popular as we thought. has a comparison of the Yahoo shareholder votes from before and after the error was discovered. Yang, for example, received 85.4% of the vote, according to the incorrect data. He actually received just 66.3%. Four other directors also saw their support dwindle in the actual results, including chairman Roy Bostock, whose vote total plunged from 79.5% to 60.4%.

Sprint Nextel sees losses, but execs positive

Sprint Nextel reported a loss of $344 million in the second quarter of 2008, or about 12 cents per share, but CEO Dan Hesse said during an earnings call Wednesday that the company is making progress. Sprint Nextel earned $19 million during the same period last year.

Revenue fell in the quarter 11% to $9 billion. Sprint touted a 2% customer turnover rate, which is low in the wireless industry. Still, Sprint Nextel lost nearly a million customers in the second quarter, though executives say that happened because they shook out undesirable subscribers, according to The New York Times. Sprint Nextel is stuck solidly in third place in the wireless industry behind AT&T and Verizon.

VMware adds design certification

VMware has added a certification for engineers who design and build enterprise virtual infrastructure, reported yesterday. The company now offers two certifications: the VMware Certified Professional and the new VMware Certified Design Expert. The former is aimed at a broad audience of partners, end users, resellers and consultants, but the latter targets consultants and architects who require an advanced level of expertise.

IBM, Oracle top Gartner's MDM classification

Gartner has ranked IBM and Oracle as chart-toppers in its new master data management (MDM) segment, reported yesterday. Gartner had previously ranked vendors only in customer data integration (CDI) software, but the firm expanded the topic to make it wider-reaching.

John Radcliffe, author of Gartner's Magic Quadrant report, said companies employ MDM for three reasons: compliance and risk management concerns, cost savings and growth through customer cross- and up-selling. The customer data software segment of MDM grew to $352 million in 2007, a 15% increase from 2006. IBM, Oracle and SAP command more than 50% of that market. Gartner estimates market growth to nearly $1 billion by 2012. Currently, most vendors cannot address all segments of the MDM initiative, including operational, workflow and transactional analysis, but Gartner predicts larger players such as IBM and Oracle will achieve full MDM capabilities in two or three years.

Oracle announces Utah data center

Oracle is developing a new data center using Oracle Grid Computing and Oracle VM technology in West Jordan, Utah, according to Mark Sunday, Oracle's chief information officer, detailed the 200,000-square-foot facility in a keynote address Aug. 6 at the LinuxWorld/Next Generation Data Center Conference in San Francisco.

The $285 million data center, called Project Sequoia, will employ about 100 on-site workers, with remote employees throughout the United States managing 65% of the operations. Utah's low-humidity climate will cool the data center to 85 degrees, along with hot-aisle/cold-aisle containment. To minimize power costs, Oracle plans to run Linux on commodity x86 servers and use its own Oracle VM software. Oracle Grid technology will allow the company to use an estimated one-sixth less hardware, while increasing its revenue fivefold per server. Operations at the facility are slated to begin in 2010.

Wednesday, Aug. 6

Hacker ring charged in identity thefts

The U.S. Department of Justice announced a federal indictment Tuesday charging 11 people with stealing and selling more than 40 million credit and debit cards from major retailers, reported. Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey called the hacker ring the largest and most complex identity theft case ever in the United States.

The defendants hacked into the wireless networks of retailer stores including TJX, Barnes and Noble, BJ's, OfficeMax, Boston Market, The Sports Authority, Forever 21 and DSW, according to the indictment. Prosecutors said the suspects installed sniffers in retail networks to seize card numbers, passwords and account information, then stored the data in encrypted servers throughout the United States and Eastern Europe, where they sold card information to other online criminals. By embedding stolen data on blank cards' magnetic strips, the hackers withdrew tens of thousands of dollars from ATMs, according to the indictment. Prosecutors said one suspect profited nearly $11 million from the hacker ring.

VMware launches OEM partner program

VMware's original equipment manufacturer (OEM) partners will receive additional benefits through the new VMware System Builder Program. The program, announced yesterday, will give OEMs access to the entire VMware product line, technical support, training, marketing tools and more. VMware said the program will help OEMs add more value to the hardware they sell, but some VMware resellers and integrators have said the vendor's OEM deals could hurt their virtualization software sales.

ERP software market set to boom

Enterprise resource planning (ERP) software has become a must-have for companies with revenue of more than $5-10 million, and for smaller companies that are going global or expanding their customer lists. As a result, there will be a boom in ERP spending, according to a recent study by AMR Research, reported this week.

The study showed that the ERP application market will reach $38.2 billion by the end of 2008, about half of which will be derived from sales to the manufacturing industry. AMR estimates that in five years, the market will be roughly $55.9 billion -- a 10% compound annual growth rate. Globalization of companies and the need to centralize management will be a strong driver of this growth in ERP applications. And growth is exploding among small and medium-sized businesses, according to AMR.

New EMC arrays blur lines between products

EMC rolled out its CX4 series of storage systems Tuesday, but customers and analysts are questioning whether the new midrange market technology is bleeding into the company's enterprise market lines, reported Tuesday.

The CX family brings solid-state disk (SSD), virtual provisioning, disk spin-down and other features into the midrange Clariion array. These features are already in Symmetrix and other EMC systems. Some analysts wonder if EMC is planning to merge some of its disk arrays down the road. In the meantime, they say EMC has to be careful not to have more equipment out in the market than it can support. Still, EMC execs say there are no consolidation plans and that there are major differences in the product sets beyond just capacity.

Tuesday, Aug. 5

Microsoft offers new security updates

Microsoft today announced the Microsoft Active Protections Program (MAPP) to give partners and customers more up-to-date warnings about security threats. The program targets exploit code that is released soon after Microsoft's traditional monthly security updates, and the company said it will help security vendors protect their customers more quickly and effectively. Microsoft made the announcement at the Black Hat USA 2008 conference in Las Vegas.

Symantec expands virtualization strategy

Symantec's desktop virtualization strategy is coming into focus as the company gets ready to close on its nSuite Technologies acquisition, according to Symantec announced yesterday that it will offer presentation virtualization and connection brokering technologies, which it expects to acquire from nSuite later this month. The company's overall virtualization strategy is to separate information and the user workspace from the operating system, applications and devices.

Xenocode upgrades software for .NET developers

Virtualization company Xenocode has launched Postbuild 2008 for Microsoft .NET Framework, an upgraded version of the code protection software for Windows developers. Postbuild supports the latest .NET technologies, including .NET Framework 3.0 and 3.5, Windows Presentation Foundation and Language Integrated Query.

Xenocode enables software developers to deploy .NET applications in a secure executable file that runs anywhere, even without the .NET Framework. Postbuild uses a range of techniques to protect intellectual property, and it integrates with the Xenocode application virtualization engine. Postbuild 2008 for .NET enables developers and ISVs to deploy applications in preconfigured virtual executables that run on any Windows desktop via intranets, the Internet, USB keys, or existing desktop management infrastructure.

Startups bring SaaS to Web security market

Zscaler and Purewire, offering Software as a Service appliances, joined the Web security gateway market Monday to streamline URL filtering through hosted services, reported. As Web-borne bugs have transcended the threats of email and script-based attacks, enterprises are looking beyond traditional desktop security antimalware. Zscaler provides data loss prevention for Web channels, while both Zscaler and Purewire offer URL filtering, HTTP traffic scanning, user Web access and application control among their startup services.

SELinux successful in protecting Linux

Security Enhanced Linux (SELinux) has reached its goal of intrusion protection for Linux systems. But it is still in the early adoption stage, and supporters need to work on further implementation, according to IBM distinguished engineer Doc Shankar, reported Monday.

In a preview of his LinuxWorld Conference and Expo workshop, Shankar said the biggest benefit of SELinux is that system-wide policies automatically and absolutely enforce access controls. In the case of a breach, an intruder is boxed in and can destroy only a portion of the system, he said. SELinux access restrictions can help commercial businesses safeguard credit and personnel information, although SELinux can easily handle the security requirements of the U.S. government and military services, Shankar said. IBM and Red Hat, as well as supporters of Ubuntu and Gentoo, are in the SELinux corner, while Novell approaches secure access through SUSE Linux Enterprise.

Monday, Aug. 4

Yahoo shareholders endorse board

Yahoo CEO Jerry Yang and his board of directors received strong support from shareholders during the company's annual meeting, according to Reuters. The vote served as an endorsement of Yahoo's actions since February, when Microsoft launched its hostile takeover bid. Yang received 85% of the vote, and the three members of Yahoo's executive compensation committee all received about 80%. But some investors did speak out against the way Yahoo has handled the Microsoft situation and the company's stock price.

Sun profits sink

Sun Microsystems' profits were down 73% last quarter. The company blamed the results on poor sales to large U.S. companies and restructuring changes, according to the Associated Press. Executives also said they don't expect to turn a profit this quarter. Sun's stock price dropped 12% on Friday after the announcement of the results.

Open source software takes on SharePoint

Thanks to the 2004 European Commission antimonopoly ruling that forced Microsoft to open its network protocols, there is now open source collaboration software that can take on Microsoft's SharePoint and interact with Microsoft Office, reported Friday. London-based Alfresco Software released Alfresco Labs 3, which adds SharePoint-like capability to its content management package. And users can import and export files from Office directly into Alfresco Labs 3 just as they would with SharePoint.

In addition to the SharePoint-like functions, Alfresco Labs 3 contains a number of other functions, including the ability to build Web applications, a social computing function and a document library that scales to 100 million documents. Alfresco claims it is the first software company to take the Microsoft protocol specifications and create a collaborative product that works seamlessly with Office.

Riverbed expands Microsoft relationship

Riverbed Technology, which specializes in wide area network (WAN) optimization and application acceleration, is now part of the Microsoft Optimization Licensing Program. The relationship gives Riverbed rights to Microsoft intellectual property and technology so that it can provide acceleration of Windows-based applications on the wide area network. Riverbed was already able to provide optimization and support for Microsoft Exchange 2000, 2003 and 2007. Riverbed said furthering the relationship with Microsoft will enable users to experience "wind in your hair" performance of Microsoft applications.

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