Enterprise IT Watch Blog

October 19, 2011  2:38 PM

Research in not-so-much Motion

Melanie Yarbrough Profile: MelanieYarbrough

After a not-so-good year, Research in Motion, it seems, has come to a halt. Tuesday’s San Francisco unveiling of BlackBerry’s “next generation platform” is being called “little more than a rebranding” by the Times’ Ian Austen. What was supposed to be an appetizing display for developers turned into a disappointing realization that BBX, the new software, isn’t much more than a spruced up QNX operating system.

“Underwhelming is a good word,” analyst from MacDougall, MacDougall and MacTier told the Times.

For once, Microsoft has actually set a better example in the world of mobile and applications. Perhaps RIM should have taken a page out of the old Microsoft Build book and wooed its potential developers with hip new devices equipped with BBX. Instead, it frustrated the crowd with more vague information about the actual release date for BBX phones and no opportunity for developers to interact with prototypes.

Others think the simple act of renaming the OS from QNX, which PlayBooks are running, to BBX is a mistake. Ken Dulaney, VP of mobile computing at Gartner, told Tech News World that it “could be confusing for the BlackBerry community,” making “it look like RIM doesn’t have a unified operating system approach.” And RIM would do best not to confuse its loyal customers so soon after trying their patience with the recent BlackBerry outages around the world. The subsequent offer of free apps and free technical support (for one month, for enterprise customers) did little to patch up the largest network outage in the company’s history. As one community member of Slashdot put it: “This is the second major outage RIM has experience while my company has used their phones. Unfortunately for them, this one came right in the middle of my company’s evaluation period for new phones company-wide and it just sealed their fate. RIM’s going bye-bye.”

RIM wasn’t all foibles, however. The company finally delivered a set of software tools that will ease the transition of apps originally made for Android to BlackBerry phones. But analysts cringe at RIM’s adherence to the Android platform instead of fighting against it and offering something better.

Telecommunications analyst Jeff Kagan told Tech News World the trick to RIM’s avoiding “going bye-bye”: “They have to wow the marketplace. They haven’t wowed the marketplace since the Apple iPhone came out. The marketplace has yawned when it comes to BlackBerry.”

What do you think RIM could do to wake us up to BlackBerry?

Melanie Yarbrough is the assistant community editor at ITKnowledgeExchange.com. Follow her on Twitter or send her an email at Melanie@ITKnowledgeExchange.com.

October 18, 2011  8:25 AM

Is the Sysadmin a dying breed?

Michael Morisy Michael Morisy Profile: Michael Morisy

The “Death of IT” has been heralded for years, probably since around the time Grace Murray Hopper literally quashed the first computer bug. All that computer mumbo jumbo is destined to get simpler, right? That’s the Pointy-Haired Boss dream, at least, and it was one posited strongly in Nicholas Carr’s now infamous 2003 essay, “IT Doesn’t Matter.”

In that essay, he suggested that IT-based initiatives were rarely if ever a strategic priority; instead, such investments were generally a cost center. Technological advancements and falling prices meant any major investments today would likely be proved standard tomorrow and obsolete a generation later.

But since 2003, IT has managed (somehow) to stick around, and yesterday I came across an interesting point/counterpoint on the fate of the beleaguered Sysadmin, via Hacker News. Continued »

October 11, 2011  3:00 PM

IT Community: “Windows 8 who?”

Melanie Yarbrough Profile: MelanieYarbrough

Windows 8’s impending release has caused a bit of a stir especially in the blogging community, but not everyone is as concerned as we originally thought. When asked how they were planning to deal with the effect of the Windows 8 secure boot and Linux clash, community members all but laughed in our faces. Take a look at how the IT community is planning on dealing with this – minor – speed bump in its Linux life.
Continued »

October 11, 2011  7:40 AM

John Chambers for President?

Michael Morisy Michael Morisy Profile: Michael Morisy

In a bid to stir up debate that goes beyond “conventional politics”, Politico is holding an imaginary U.S. primary of off-ticket, independent candidates. The ballot features the likes of Michael Bloomberg, Hillary Clinton and Jon Huntsman (ok, so not completely beyond convention). Also in the ranks is one tech CEO: Cisco’s John Chambers. From Politico’s nomination:

The guy has a good personal story to tell: He was diagnosed with dyslexia as a kid, overcame it, excelled at Middle America universities – first at West Virginia and later at Indiana – and rose to head one of the world’s largest and most influential companies. He has an even better and more relevant business story to tell: He has pulled a company through a wrenching period – including big layoffs – helped reinvent its culture and operations and made money in the complex global marketplace.

He knows firsthand how government can both impede – and encourage – growth and deals daily with the competitive pressures of China and other emerging markets.

He could run as an authentic outsider, someone who hasn’t spent his life pursuing public office. A Washington-has-no-damn-clue message on navigating and dominating the world economy would resonate for many. His smooth speaking style and self-confidence would play well on the national stage.

More ingenious Cisco product placement? I hope not, but Chambers is one of the most non-conventional candidates on the list, now that Bloomberg’s established his political chops. Would he or could he make a presidential contender? I’m doubtful. Sure, he has the sales experience that comes with a large enterprise business, and that would surely help negotiate through the labyrinthine maze of Washington deal making.

Continued »

October 6, 2011  7:55 AM

Steve Jobs, 1955-2011

Michael Morisy Michael Morisy Profile: Michael Morisy

Wired.com has put together a particularly moving tribute to Steve Jobs, who died yesterday at the age of 56. In it, the thoughts and admiration of his friends, followers and competitors are collected, memorializing a man who reshaped, and fundamentally rethought, his industry.

Bill Gates:

Steve and I first met nearly 30 years ago, and have been colleagues, competitors and friends over the course of more than half our lives. The world rarely sees someone who has had the profound impact Steve has had, the effects of which will be felt for many generations to come. For those of us lucky enough to get to work with him, it’s been an insanely great honor.  I will miss Steve immensely.

President Barack Obama:

By building one of the planet’s most successful companies from his garage, he exemplified the spirit of American ingenuity. By making computers personal and putting the internet in our pockets, he made the information revolution not only accessible, but intuitive and fun. And by turning his talents to storytelling, he has brought joy to millions of children and grownups alike. Steve was fond of saying that he lived every day like it was his last. Because he did, he transformed our lives, redefined entire industries, and achieved one of the rarest feats in human history: he changed the way each of us sees the world.

Tim Cook, Jobs’ successor as Apple CEO:

No words can adequately express our sadness at Steve’s death or our gratitude for the opportunity to work with him. We will honor his memory by dedicating ourselves to continuing the work he loved so much.

Continued »

October 5, 2011  1:35 PM

Community Goals for 2011 into 2012

Melanie Yarbrough Profile: MelanieYarbrough

Each new year is a chance to set a new spin on your business, and IT is no different. We asked the community what goals they have to finish out 2011 to position themselves for 2012, and we received a range of answers.

Out with the old (software), in with the new
Continued »

October 4, 2011  8:03 AM

Oracle Exalytics BI Machine taps into unstructured data faster than ever

Michael Morisy Michael Morisy Profile: Michael Morisy

Promising to help customers reign in unstructured “Big Data” (think everything from ubiquitous smart meters to ever-present dumb Tweets), Oracle CEO Larry Ellison introduced the company’s new Exalytics BI Machine, alongside its new Big Data Appliance. The announcement, made as Oracle OpenWorld kicks off, embeds analytics right in with the hardware, crunching a terabyte of compressed data (which InformationWeek reported Oracle stating would equal about 5 to 10 terabytes of usable uncompressed data) with 40 on-board CPU cores.

AllThingsD’s Arik Hesseldahl has a good inside-baseball piece analyzing how the last few weeks  of quarreling between Oracle and HP over Autonomy, culminating in yesterday’s announcement:

And what did Ellison talk about in his keynote address Sunday night? Lots of things. One of them was an appliance called the Exalytics Intelligence Machine that does — guess what? — unstructured data. It’s designed, Ellison said, to do all its analysis while the data is loaded into the machine’s main memory, while four 10-core Intel Xeon chips make it scream on the processor side. “Databases run faster, everything runs faster if you keep it in DRAM, if you keep it main memory,” he said, describing it as data analysis at the “speed of thought.” Structured data, relational data, unstructured data — it does it all, Ellison said. Now all that mishegas makes sense. It’s all about having the last word.

(AllThingsD also has the video of the keynote) Continued »

September 29, 2011  9:00 AM

Is Microsoft shaping Linux’s future?

Melanie Yarbrough Profile: MelanieYarbrough

There’s been a bit of outrage recently over what seems to be Microsoft’s sly tactic against open source operating systems on Windows machines.

Worry over what this means for non-Windows users – especially in the vocal Linux community – has run rampant despite Steven Sinofsky’s claim that “[t]he UEFI secure boot protocol is the foundation of an architecturally neutral approach to platform and firmware security. Based on the Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) process to validate firmware images before they are allowed to execute, secure boot helps reduce the risk of boot loader attacks. Microsoft relies on this protocol in Windows 8 to improve platform security for our customers.”

It is precisely the Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) that makes this roadblock possibly permanent. While this is what they say is the “key” to allowing non-Windows users access to their machines, it may prove to be the lock instead. Matthew Garrett, mobile Linux developer at Red Hat, said in a blog post, “As things stand, Windows 8 certified systems will make it either more difficult or impossible to install alternative operating systems.”

The real worry comes when users buy newer models, since Microsoft has no control over whether or not manufacturers allow users to disable secure boot, the one saving grace of the whole fiasco. As Garrett points out on his blog: “[Microsoft’s] competition can’t [require hardware vendors to include their keys]. Red Hat is unable to ensure that every OEM carries their signing key….or any other PC component manufacturer.”

Not all Linux users see the hype as warranted, as IT Knowledge Exchange blogger Eric Hansen of I.T. Security and Linux Administration puts it: “I personally think all of this is nonsense.” Citing the optionality of Secure Boot and that this feature only affects newer models already set up for Windows, Hansen doesn’t see any immediate effects on the way he uses Linux.

“I’m not sure what the system specs are for Windows 8, but I’m pretty sure even those systems running the (now) archaic BIOS is going to be able to boot Windows 8. If you don’t have UEFI on your system, then Secure Boot isn’t going to make a difference anyways,” Hansen writes. “[H]ow does this involve Linux? Well, in the short term, it doesn’t.”

It’s true, it doesn’t seem that non-Windows users need to feel threatened by the BIOS replacement and default secure boot for now. Brad Chaco of Maximum PC highlights one Slashdot forum user’s “chilling prophecy of the future“: “Today you can throw Linux on any old hardware, and do something useful with it. 5-10 years from now, you’ll have to specifically hunt down unlocked software. This has a rather drastic effect on the utility of Linux, which is Microsoft’s intention.” Bing Tsher E follows up with an indirect response to Hansen’s less-than-alarmed post: “The hardware vendors are also vigorously trying to make certain there isn’t any ‘old hardware’ to employ…. It won’t matter whether the old hardware can boot Linux if it’s been sucked out of existence and destroyed.”

What do you think: Is this the beginning of the end or mere conspiracy theory?

Melanie Yarbrough is the assistant community editor at ITKnowledgeExchange.com. Follow her on Twitter or send her an email at Melanie@ITKnowledgeExchange.com.

September 28, 2011  2:30 PM

Are pretty graphs the next big security threat? The consumerization of business intelligence analytics

Michael Morisy Michael Morisy Profile: Michael Morisy

Are pretty graphs the next big security threat?

I’m regularly impressed by all the powerful new data analysis tools popping up these days, and it’s a great thing: While before, specialized internal teams had to suss out data trends at great cost and at a slow pace, more workers are empowered than ever before to dive deeper into their business data, finding inefficiencies, opportunities or challenges that would otherwise have gone unnoticed.

But as has been noted repeatedly, IT consumerization generally comes with a number of new costs: Loss of control, increased security risks and the misapplication of these tools, to name a few potential problems. Continued »

September 22, 2011  9:26 AM

Two companies down: What’s next for HP’s Leo Apotheker?

Melanie Yarbrough Profile: MelanieYarbrough

HP hasn’t been doing much inventing these days, unless you count the reinvention of the company’s entire focus and primary offerings. But is that all coming to an end with the ousting of Hewlett-Packard CEO, Léo Apotheker? Reports circulated yesterday of a secret meeting of HP’s directors to replace Apotheker. This comes two and a half weeks after HP’s confusing dump of webOS and TouchPad and shaky outline of the fate of its PC business.

Among the possible candidates, the Times and several other online news sources have named Meg Whitman, former CEO of eBay. Her history with eBay, which began when the popular bidding site was just a wee start-up, seems to be a major draw for HP’s board. Apotheker has had less than a year to lead HP to where it currently is, and no matter your opinions on where it’s heading, the bad PR alone is reason enough for the board to start looking for a new face to front the company.

The day after Apotheker’s announcement of HP’s mobile shutdown, PC business spinoff, and entrance into the software industry, HP stock plummeted 20 percent. Yesterday, after reports of Apotheker’s possible replacement, HP stock rose. If that seems like a coincidence, perhaps the thrice-lowered sales forecasts and 47 percent drop in HP’s stock under Apotheker’s management are enough for the board to reconsider the hire. Also under reconsideration? The proposal to spinoff HP’s PC division as a separate company.

This doesn’t necessarily mean that HP will abandon its proposed venture into the cloud, as Jayson Noland, an analyst at Robert W. Baird & Co. in San Francisco told Bloomberg: “Hewlett-Packard isn’t looking to completely change course. The company’s board and shareholders are mostly looking for a surer hand.”

While the board might support Apotheker’s plan, they’ve more than lost faith in his ability to carry it out.

UPDATE: Not everyone’s too keen on the idea of Meg Whitman succeeding Apotheker.

Melanie Yarbrough is the assistant community editor at ITKnowledgeExchange.com. Follow her on Twitter or send her an email at Melanie@ITKnowledgeExchange.com.

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