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Networking Channel News Roundup, Jan. 5-12

This week's headlines: Channel needs stimulus … package; SCADA moves to IP

Will networking channel get a piece of the stimulus package pie?

Channel players stand to benefit significantly from President-elect Barack Obama's stimulus plan, depending on how the wealth is spread. Obama has promised that a chunk of the stimulus plan would involve IT investment in better networking and automating governmental agencies and in extending broadband out to underserved communities. Last week, think tank Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF) released a report which showed that a $30 billion IT investment would create or save nearly 1 million U.S. jobs, Reuters reported. The group called for Congress to offer tax credits and incentives for investment in broadband, healthcare and energy technologies. Not surprisingly, the group is backed by heavy-hitting vendors IBM and Cisco Systems. But another group, Free Press, warned that ITIF's proposal would direct money only to large companies. Free Press has its own proposal, which also includes tax credits, but would require companies to apply to the Treasury Department to claim them. That would prevent the incentives from being handed out to a chosen few. Free Press' plan also calls for a $10 billion bond proposal to spur investment.

Cisco extends router application development contest

Cisco has extended its "Think Inside the Box" router application development contest submission deadline from Jan. 12 to Feb. 27. The contest, first launched in October, calls for developers to design apps for the Application Extension Platform (AXP) used on the Integrated Services Router (ISR). Cisco said in a company blog last week that the extension was a result of high demand. Cisco now expects to announce finalists at the end of April and winners in July. Those who have already entered proposals can continue to submit further ideas through the new deadline.

IP promises super performance for SCADA networks -- and some risk

Network administrators are now moving industrial control systems onto IP networks for better performance, but they face potential risks, reported last week. Industrial control systems, also known as Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) networks, monitor and control processes in complex industrial settings, such as utility companies, sewer and water systems, and factories. The systems once ran on radio and serial network connections, but users now see the potential savings and higher performance they can get running the systems on IP. But among the risks involved in moving to IP are security and control of devices. In a SCADA network, dozens of devices are involved and must now receive IP addresses. They would also be forced to run alongside hundreds of other devices and traffic between a multitude of sites, opening up security and management concerns. Still, the move is worthwhile, users say, as long as administrators put defense processes in place.

Server virtualization holds ground in a slow spending quarter

A new study shows VARs expect server virtualization and business intelligence to remain relatively strong in an otherwise bleak first quarter for IT spending, SearchITChannel reported last week. Market research firm RWBaird Inc. surveyed 40 enterprise resellers in North America and Europe and found that IT spending in Q1 2009 would be "below normal seasonality." That said, the survey showed that storage will be the strongest IT budget draw, with server virtualization and business intelligence following right behind.

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