Channel Marker

August 30, 2006  11:40 AM

How to Cram for the CCNA Exam

Brein Matturro Profile: Brein Matturro

On his Cisco Blog. Jeremy Cioara provides a blueprint for an inexpensive testbed network for practicing for the CCNA exam. Check it out, Cisco-ites; it’s a thing of beauty.

August 29, 2006  1:12 PM

Microsoft Vista Pricing Revealed…on Amazon, at least

Brein Matturro Profile: Brein Matturro

Ed Bott on ZDNet reports that Microsoft accidentally released pricing for Vista on its Canadian website. The pricing is also now visible (at least as I post this) on

Microsoft had been rumored to be close to sending out Release Candidate 1 for Vista. This would seem to confirm that. Amazon is taking pre-orders now for delivery in January.

Based on the pricing shown ($300 for a Business license? $200 for an upgrade?), I don’t think mass early adoption will be much of a problem for the channel. On the contrary, Microsoft seems to have made pushing this puppy out to its installed base through the channel an extremely low priority by setting the bar so high…or maybe they need to charge more to make up for the revenue they lost from delays?

August 29, 2006  11:17 AM

Disaster Preparedness for SMBs: Plan B for $150

Brein Matturro Profile: Brein Matturro

With Eduardo starting to puff its way toward Florida, Orlando-based Vlad Mazek, the CTO of managed infrastructure service provider Own Web Now Inc., has come up with a quick-and-dirty disaster recovery plan that can be executed in under an hour for $150. The key elements: a prepaid cell phone, a Skype Dialin voice mailbox, an analog phone (for the “ride-it-out warrior”, says Mazek), and a disaster blog for coordination of staff.

After my experience with a no-warning loss of all Internet connectivity a few years ago, I can add the following things to that list:

  • A low-cost, password-protected website with a Wiki. We were able to keep a certain news operation running after the loss of all workflow by using a Python-based simple Wiki running with htaccess-based security on my $7-a-month personal web account.
  • Instant messaging and web mail accounts. If you can get connectivity, and you have everyone on a common instant messaging platform, you can quickly coordinate responses to a disaster. Webmail is also useful. But a better plan for SMBs is to outsource email to someone else–like Mazek’s company.

  • August 29, 2006  9:59 AM

    Symantec Uncovers New Intel Marketing Campaign…er, AMD virus

    Brein Matturro Profile: Brein Matturro

    VNU reports that Symantec security researchers claim to have found two variants of a proof-of-concept virus that specifically attacks AMD processors.

    Although harmless at this stage, the viruses could be used to create malware that affects computers with disparate operating systems, according to Vincent Weafer, senior director at Symantec Security Response.

    “If I can get to the processor level, potentially I can start tying myself into the core hardware,” he told

    While it’s intellectually interesting that someone has figured out how to execute arbitrary code independent of the operating system on Opteron, allegedly independent of the OS, any virus written to do so and actually go after elements of the hardware–like storage, or a network interface–would probably have to be tailored to specific system configurations. On the other hand, if an organization bought enough systems with a single common hardware configuration, that might create an opportunity for someone who really, really had some time on their hands and a desire to make life miserable for that select audience.

    Of course, it doesn’t take a virus for that to happen. Any time you have a hardware/software monoculture, simple problems can become huge problems very quickly. Ask anyone who worked with Unisys’ whitebox systems built for the Air Force Desktop III contract, which initially shipped with a SUMO SCSI controller that turned out to be incompatible with Windows. The support hassles, I have been told, ended up costing Unisys more money per deployed system than they were paid for delivery of them.

    August 28, 2006  5:28 PM

    Why the IT Staff Hates You

    Brein Matturro Profile: Brein Matturro

    Over on, Mark Arnold explains the The downside to outsourcing Windows desktop and server management from the IT manager’s point of view. While it focuses on large-scale outsourcing, the problems are similar to what any organization will face when a service provider takes over management of a Windows environment — or at least the points of resistance that the service provider will encounter:

    [A]ny problem with a server that you control will take significantly longer to resolve when you’re relying on an outside company to solve it. … Server and Active Directory permissions are almost always changed. Settings … are set in a way that only personnel in the data center or remote support center are able to control such things as drive configuration, Registry settings or patch levels. If you have an application problem, rest assured that the problem will come straight back to your lap, but you will have one hand tied behind your back while you are troubleshooting and resolving the problem.

    [Read more]

    August 28, 2006  10:27 AM

    Google Going After SMB Messaging Market

    Brein Matturro Profile: Brein Matturro

    All you Microsoft partners doing Outlook/Exchange/Microsoft IM installs in the midrange market or providing hosted Exchange services, take note: Google wants to eat your lunch.

    The NY Times reports: “Taking aim at Microsoft, Google plans to offer a package of software for business users.”

    The initial software bundle, called Google Apps for Your Domain, will provide e-mail (based on GMail), calendaring and instant messaging, as well as a Website development tool–for free. The bundle is obviously aimed at the same space as Microsoft’s Windows Live services.

    Google plans to offer a paid version of the service later that will include technical support and other services. I’m betting those other services include Writely, the web-based word processor that Google recently acquired , and a Google spreadsheet application. I’m also betting that the services will eventually also be bundled with the Google Mini search appliance for an all-in-one solution for document and knowledge management.

    Free is a hard price to beat, particularly at the price point Microsoft currently offers Exchange seats at. And with Microsoft looking to capture the same audience with its own software-as-a-service play (Windows Live), it’s going to get increasingly difficult to make any kind of money providing core software and services for SMB’s like messaging and basic knowledge worker applications. But that was true before Google got into the market — the safer ground is still customization and integration.

    But if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.

    August 25, 2006  11:50 PM

    Sun Server Sales Up in Shrinking Market

    Brein Matturro Profile: Brein Matturro

    IDC claims Sun regained the #3 position in overall server market share this summer, with 12.9% of a weakening market, stepping over distressed Dell. IBM still leads the server space, and HP remains in second; but only Sun saw an increase in market share, and a bump in revenues as well.

    The UltraSPARC platform is still Sun’s main money-maker…

    “…but the growth in the company’s Opteron-based products are having a positive impact,” IDC enterprise server research director Steve Josselyn said.

    …reports BetaNews.

    Well, duh.  Having a viable product to compete with Dell (with less heat issues) certainly should have a “positive impact.”

    August 25, 2006  11:38 PM

    Lenovo Burns A Hole In Dell Management

    Brein Matturro Profile: Brein Matturro

    The NY Times reports that Lenovo has hired yet another exec from Dell–the fourth in 8 days.

    Lenovo, the Chinese computer maker that bought I.B.M.’s personal computer business for $1.25 billion last year, has been trying to beef up its executive ranks and transform itself into a global computer giant in a fiercely competitive market.

    The new hire is Christopher Askew, VP of Dell Services. Previous hires were David Schmook, a VP of marketing; David Miller, head of Dell China; and Sotaro Amano, director of Japanese home and business sales.

    Considering Bill Amelio, the CEO of Lenovo, is a former Dell denizen as well, it leaves room to wonder if Lenovo is planning on stealing Dell’s business model as well by emphasizing direct sales at the expense of the channel. And the hiring of Askew indicates that Lenovo may be looking to be a lot more to large customers than just a laptop supplier.

    Askew’s hire comes on the heels of news that Dell is taking over desktop support for Citigroup as part of an outsourced services deal, though it’s not clear that Askew was involved in that transaction. Neither Dell nor Citigroup have spoken publicly about the deal, which was revealed by an irate soon-to-be-ex-Citigroup technician with a blog.

    August 25, 2006  11:11 PM

    Windows Patch Hell Redux

    Brein Matturro Profile: Brein Matturro

    Another reason to hate Patch Tuesday– it isn’t just your imagination that applying patches to Windows network clients using Microsoft System Management Server tales forever. A bug in SMS’s Inventory Tool for Microsoft Updates can dramatically slow down scans of client systems, causing scans to take up to five minutes per client. A fix is in the works, but it could be more than a month away.

    And the problem, for those who are experiencing it, is only going to get worse–it’s linked to the number of patch files that get loaded onto clients, so as more patches are applied, the scans get progressively slower.

    Fortunately, there’s only one Patch Tuesday between now and when the fix comes down. Maybe.

    August 25, 2006  2:34 PM

    Welcome to Channel Marker

    Brein Matturro Profile: Brein Matturro

    Hello, and welcome to Channel Marker, the weblog of TechTarget’s Channel Media Group. We’re preparing to launch a comprehensive set of websites to serve those on the pointy end of the IT industry sword–the resellers, service providers, integrators and consultants who build, deploy and support solutions for business customers.

    Personally, I owe a lot to the channel — I spent several years in the early 1990s in the channel, working for a VAR, for a systems integrator, and as a consultant before being drawn over to the dark side of technology journalism. I attribute a lot of my success as a technology journalist and as a technology practitioner to what I learned back then.

    Obviously, a lot has changed since then. But what hasn’t is the need for channel professionals to be able to stay on top of developments in many technologies, to be able to act on that knowledge to put together and support solutions for customers’ business problems, and to anticipate what customers’ needs will be next. Our goal is to provide the news, information and market intelligence that will help you do all of those things.

    If there’s something you’d like to see us cover that we’re missing, feel free to let us know by commenting here, or by sending me email. We look forward to talking with you.

    –Sean Gallagher, Editorial Director, Channel Media Group, TechTarget

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