IT Channel News Briefs, Aug. 22

Today's headlines: Small Business Server 2008 RTMs, and Google and Verizon may do mobile search together.

News for the week of Aug. 18-22, 2008 -- in brief, updated daily, on topics important to the information technology (IT) channel.

Friday, Aug. 22

Small Business Server 2008 RTMs

Microsoft released Windows Small Business Server 2008 to manufacturing yesterday. The move comes in preparation of the SBS official launch Nov. 12, and it was announced by group program manager Dean Paron on the Official SBS Blog. SBS 2008 is the first new, full release of the product since SBS 2003, although there was an SBS 2003 R2 release in the meantime.

Verizon, Google may partner on mobile search

Verizon is negotiating a partnership with Google that would make Google the default search provider on Verizon mobile devices and give it a share of ad revenue, The Wall Street Journal reported today.

The partnership, which appears to end a history of bad blood between the two companies, is a sign that wireless companies on the whole are finally looking to Internet search heavyweights for tools. Until now, search functions for cellphones have been confusing and basically unsuccessful. Telecom companies have held out going to Internet search companies because they want to hold onto the potentially huge advertising revenue stream that search engines can produce.

The deal isn't yet final and the two sides are still negotiating on key issues, accoding to the Journal.

Gartner: Server sales increase

Sales of servers worldwide were up 12.2% for the second quarter, and associated revenue was up 5.7% to $13.8 billion on sales of 2.3 million units, according to Gartner. Overall, sales of RISC-based Unix servers were down nearly 8%, but revenue from those sales actually climbed 9.4%, research vice president Jeffrey Hewitt said.

There were signs of strong sales in x86 servers, along with strong sales into Web data centers. In what will likely be a hotly contested figure, IBM retained market leadership with 31.2% of new units sold -- up from 29.6% from the year-ago quarter. Hewlett-Packard took the silver with 27.6% of new units sold, down from 28.4%.And Dell was third, with an increase from 12% to 13%. HP, however, led the field in overall units shipped with almost 707,000 units shipped. That compares to 577,000 Dell units and 309,000 IBM units.

IBM: mobile application provider?

IBM has created a set of developer tools to support software and services for mobile devices, which will ultimately let business users access back-office business applications through their handsets, according to

WebSphere Business Monitor links BlackBerry devices, which enables business executives and consumers to check sales metrics or their bank balances wherever they are. iPhone connectivity won't be generally available until the fourth quarter of this year, but composite applications like those IBM describes may help make the iPhone platform an enterprise client, not just a stylish technology gadget.

The devices also set the stage for IBM's push into cloud computing, which is a perfect fit for mobile access.

Thursday, Aug. 21 earnings grow, stock drops nearly tripled its earnings per share in the second quarter, met Wall Street's expectations and still got hammered in after-hours trading last night.

The SaaS pioneer logged net income of $9.9 million, or eight cents per share, up from $3.7 million, or three cents per share, for the year-ago period. Analysts had expected eight cents per share in earnings. The San Francisco-based company also forecasted earnings of eight or nine cents per share for the upcoming quarter, but analysts were apparently not impressed. Piper Jaffray dropped its rating from buy to neutral, and the stock swooned after the markets closed, at one point plunging 8.4% to $59.80. It closed at $65.30.

The company also said it bought InStranet Inc., a Chicago-based call center specialist, for $31.5 million in cash.

IT spending worldwide to top $3.4 trillion

Gartner Inc. reported Monday that IT spending worldwide will top $3.4 trillion in 2008, an 8% increase from 2007, according to The IT industry has persevered throughout the present U.S. recession, and the estimated spending jump will result in part from the dollar's decline. The computer hardware sector drags in the worldwide market, while IT services and telecom dominate 70% of the total spending. Gartner expects spending on IT services to increase 9.5% in 2008, and software spending is projected to rise 10%. IT growth outside the United States shows promise in Asia, Latin America and Africa, with the Middle East market hovering around $220 billion.

IBM extends data center, cloud reach

IBM is spending $300 million to build 13 data recovery centers in 10 countries, adding to the 154 centers it already maintains worldwide, reported this week. The centers -- in Japan, China, the United Kingdom, Germany, Turkey, Poland, Italy and the United States -- will boost IBM's cloud computing play and strengthen its data recovery and storage options.

The centers will extend the reach of IBM's disaster recovery services by providing more locations to store customer data and an alternate workspace for customers in case of a disaster. In financial markets, like Paris and New York, IBM said it can extend the "local point of presence" for cloud services.

Wednesday, Aug. 20

Sun adds new perks, rebates

Sun Microsystems is beefing up its PartnerFirst channel push with a new demand generation program and incentives for VARs attacking new Sun accounts. The tool will help Sun partners figure out what vendor funding is available to them based on their partnership level.

Sun is also offering new incentives to U.S.-based partners, including a rebate for partners working to capture net-new Sun accounts, as well as a discount on Sun products sold into new accounts. Sun announced the news at the Avnet Technology Solutions New Frontiers conference Wednesday in Colorado Springs, Colo.

Hewlett-Packard posts strong earnings

Hewlett-Packard posted strong third-quarter results yesterday, with net revenue up 10% from the same period a year earlier to $28 billion.

The enterprise services group saw some of the strongest growth in the company -- 14% year over year, to $4.8 billion. Revenue in technology services grew 13% over last year, and the consulting, integration and outsourcing business was up 18%.

Enterprise storage and servers (ESS) didn't do quite as well, with 5% growth from the previous year to $4.7 billion. Still, ESS blade sales boomed, growing 66%. Storage grew 16%, fueled by low- and mid-range products. And software, the smallest of the businesses at HP, increased 29% over the prior year to $781 million.

Microsoft makes licensing virtualization-friendly

Microsoft has changed its application licensing rules to make them easier for IT managers in virtualized environments. The changes let customers move server applications within a server farm without paying additional licensing fees.

But there are some catches, according to You can only move the applications to different servers within the same country, the new licensing rules apply only to volume license holders, and they don't apply to the Windows Server operating system and client access or management licenses.

Supported applications include SQL Server 2008 Enterprise, Exchange Server 2007 Service Pack 1 Enterprise and Standard, Dynamics CRM 4.0 Enterprise and Professional, Office SharePoint Server 2007 and System Center servers, according to

iPhone CRM shows promise with 3G release

With the release of Apple's iPhone 3G in June, enterprises took one step closer to having CRM on the iPhone, according to Network connectivity improvements in the 3G allow better interfaces for the use of CRM. Apple in June launched the App Store, which provides access to enterprise applications -- including a mobile version of's CRM. Other CRM vendors are scrambling to develop CRM capabilities for the iPhone, including Oracle, which said it has plans to build an iPhone CRM application. Still, Research in Motion's BlackBerry CRM capabilities outweigh the iPhone's, as 3G offers a limited coverage area and slower connections.

Microsoft buys more Novell interop love

Strange bedfellows Microsoft and Novell got a bit tighter. Microsoft said today it is buying up to $100 million worth of certificates that customers can redeem for Novell's help in moving to enterprise-class Linux implementations. That investment will kick in Nov. 1.

The move bolsters the $240 million worth of certificates Microsoft bought in November 2006. Since then, Novell has billed for $157 million worth of support. It is all part of the companies' joint efforts to ease interoperability between Windows and Linux servers.

Intel jumps into SSD market

Intel announced it will release its first enterprise-class solid state drives (SSDs) and a new SSD for mainstream computing by the end of the year, reported Tuesday. The X-18 M and X-25 M for consumer products will be available over the next 30 days. The X-25 E, or "Extreme," is set to follow in 90 days. Intel said the new drives offer a boost in performance, and the company claims to have overcome reliability and durability issues associated with SSDs.

Tuesday, Aug. 19

Dell offers partners return policy

Dell is making a return policy available to its certified partners. Under the policy, partners can return products within 21 days in exchange for Dell credit, for the following reasons: any reason covered under Dell's limited warranty, order cancellation or change by the customer, Dell order processing errors and Dell delivery of incorrect products. There are several other terms and conditions, including a 15% restocking fee that partners must pay and additional fees that may apply.

Avnet expands managed services offerings

Avnet Technology Solutions has added remote monitoring and management services for VARs that want to expand their own managed services portfolios. The new services are part of Avnet's OneTech Managed Services, which come with three support levels for VARs.

Remote monitoring and management services provide round-the-clock monitoring for CPU, memory, disk space, network interfaces and network unavailability, Avnet said today. Avnet also showed off its SolutionsPath methodology to help partners move into government, healthcare and virtualization markets. The goal is to help participating VARs knit together technologies from several vendors into high-value solutions.

Microsoft addresses Windows Server confusion

There will be a Windows Server 2008 R2 release after all -- out (hopefully) by February 2010 -- as well as a major update slated to debut in the optimal four-year cycle, said Ward Ralston, the Windows Server group product manager.

There had been speculation, pinned to a Microsoft newsletter, that Windows Server 2008 R2 and Windows Server 7 would be one and the same, but that was because Microsoft has internally referred to R2 as Windows Server 7. But the Windows 7 term has been used mostly to refer to the successor to the Windows Vista client.

Blogged Ralston: "It is important to note that Windows Vista shipped a year earlier than Windows Server 2008, so the client version of Windows 7 will have an extra year of development. The client in fact will be a major release, but, as we've said before, compatibility with previous versions of Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008 is a design goal."

Google releases beta Android SDK

Google has released a beta software development kit (SDK) that is one step in the process toward working with the Open Handset Alliance on its Android 1.0 software and its first mobile devices.

In November, Google made "early look" SDKs available to give developers insight into the Android platform and get feedback. That feedback was shared with the Open Handset Alliance and used in the development of first-round devices. Since those devices are shipping in the fourth quarter, the platform is now converging on a final Android 1.0 version.

Those interested in getting a head start in learning about the beta SDK and the Android platform can find an Android Development 1.0 roadmap and SDK release notes on the Android Developers Blog.

Symantec to acquire PC Tools

Symantec yesterday announced it will acquire PC Tools, a security and privacy protection software provider for Windows users. The acquisition will expand Symantec's range of products to include PC Tools utilities and point security technologies, as well as spreading Symantec's regional market reach. PC Tools operations will function separately within Symantec's consumer business unit, and the company will continue to manage its existing channel and product offerings under the PC Tools brand.

Oracle hosts, manages Hyperion On Demand

Oracle this week said it is offering hosting and management services for its Hyperion business intelligence products. Oracle On Demand now supports the Hyperion financial management, planning, Essbase, data quality management and financial reporting applications, which comprise the Hyperion On Demand offering. The company also kicked off an On Demand blog this week.

FalconStor launches EZStart channel program

FalconStor yesterday launched the FalconStor EZStart Program, providing authorized partners with new ways to create and deliver data protection appliances. The program supports FalconStor appliances, including its Network Storage Server, Continuous Data Protector and Virtual Tape Library. With EZStart's preloaded USB drive, channel partners can plug in the EZStart installation wizard and automatically install the operating system, drivers and configuration appropriate for the their existing servers. The wizard then walks the installer through manual steps to build a FalconStor turnkey appliance in less than 10 minutes.

Monday, Aug. 18

Dell cuts EqualLogic prices

Dell has cut the price of its EqualLogic PS Series hardware by 10%. The price cut affects the PS5000E, PS5000X and PS5000XV models. In a post to the Dell Channel Blog, Sean Phelan, Dell's channel storage sales director, reminded partners to update their outstanding customer quotes to offer the new, lower prices.

OOXML becomes international standard

After months of appeals, Microsoft's Office Open XML (OOXML) will become an international standard, the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) said today. Deeming OOXML an open standard makes it eligible for numerous lucrative government contracts, The Associated Press reported.

Brazil, India, South Africa and Venezuela had appealed, complaining that the international ballot held in April was poorly conducted and the decision was based on incomplete information. Both the ISO and the International Electrotechnical Commission thought the appeals lacked the necessary support. It will take several weeks before OOXML officially becomes an international standard.

Windows Server 2008 R2 = Windows 7 Server?

The latest Microsoft math says that Windows 7 Server and Windows Server 2008 R2 will be one and the same. That's according to Dutch blogger Martijn Brant, citing a recent Microsoft TechNet newsletter. Microsoft has said little publicly about the next Windows, except that Windows Server 2008 R2 is due in 2009. Some hope the cone of silence will lift as Windows chief Steven Sinofsky starts to blog about the next release.

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