Industry Watch

Power Crunch Hits Some California ASPs Hard

California’s energy crisis has some hosting providers feeling a bit uneasy, while others see the power crunch as an opportunity. To many tech-centric businesses, rolling blackouts are just another reason not to rely entirely on a California data center.

White Pajama, a Hayward, Calif.-based ASP of customer contact centers, hosts its business in California with Exodus Communications (Santa Clara, Calif.). To combat a potential loss of power, Exodus has configured a duplicate server setup in its New Jersey data center, which White Pajama will be automatically switched to in the event of an emergency.

Mansour Salame, president and CEO of White Pajama, says Exodus’ ability to provide a failover scheme makes him feel much more comfortable about his company’s hosting situation. White Pajama, which just launched its customer contact service in late January, views availability as a top priority.

As Salame describes it, White Pajama’s clients expect their contact center to be available whenever their customers have a question or concern. If, for whatever reason, it is not, says Salame, then White Pajama’s business is directly impacted.

If a blackout were to affect White Pajama’s California facility, Exodus has several strategies in place to keep the service live. The data center is fully redundant with backup power and cooling systems. And, in what Salame calls a recent addition, Exodus has launched its own power plant that is activated whenever the facility’s primary power source is cut off.

NetYourWork Inc. is an ASP currently in development mode, which founder, CTO and vice president Jim Hopp has decided not to host in the Bay area because of the potential for earthquakes. Instead, Hopp is negotiating a hosting deal with Rackspace Managed Hosting of San Antonio.

Looking to capitalize on fear associated with California’s energy problems, Rackspace is running a special promotion for distressed e-businesses in California. As part of its "blackout special," Rackspace is waiving all setup fees for customers that choose to migrate from a California hosting provider to Rackspace’s Texas-based service.

Speaking about how successful the program has been in generating new business, Rackspace chief marketing officer Lew Moorman says, "It’s actually been quite good in terms of getting our name out and getting new customers."

While the promotion did attract him to Rackspace, Hopp says his interest in hosting outside of California is more a product of earthquakes than the current rolling blackout situation.

– Matt Migliore

Red Hat Contests Securities Lawsuits

Red Hat has announced that it intends to vigorously contest certain securities lawsuits filed against it in New York. The complaints allege that Red Hat and its underwriters, Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Credit Suisse First Boston Corp., and Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith Inc., failed to disclose certain purported activities allegedly engaged in by the underwriters in the distribution of Red Hat’s initial public offering in August 1999. The complaints maintain that Red Hat’s alleged failure to disclose the underwriters’ activities in Red Hat’s prospectus violated federal securities laws.

"The entire premise of these claims against Red Hat and its directors is preposterous," says Mark Webbink, Red Hat’s senior vice president and general counsel. "We retained the finest investment banks in the world to handle the underwriting of our offering. The assertion of the plaintiff’s lawyers that Red Hat had the obligation and ability to monitor the manner in which these ... firms sold Red Hat’s securities is patently ridiculous." Webbink also indicated that the company would defend itself to the full limit of the law and seek any available redress.

Intel Opens Advanced Silicon Research Lab

In May, Intel opened RP1 (which stands for Research and Path-finding), a 300 mm wafer research laboratory. According to Intel, the $250 million facility is the first of its kind dedicated to research in advanced silicon process technologies on 300 mm wafers.

Intel researchers will use RP1 to develop next-generation photolithography, high-performance transistors, advanced interconnects (copper and optical) and environmentally friendly manufacturing processes (new materials and chemistries). Intel researchers hope the work done at the facility will enable them to build smaller, faster transistors, leading to faster microprocessors.

IntraNet Forms Alliance with Sybase

IntraNet Solutions Inc. has formed a strategic partnership with Sybase to provide a complete solution for managing and accessing business content in a personalized portal interface to business customers worldwide.

Under the agreement, IntraNet Solutions joined the Sybase e-Portal Alliance, Sybase’s partnership program that offers e-business applications with the Sybase Enterprise Portal (EP). The companies will integrate IntraNet Solutions’ Xpedio Content Management system into the Sybase EP, which provides customers with 24x7 online access to enterprise applications and data. The integration of Xpedio enables portal users to contribute content to Web sites in a variety of formats, such as word processing documents, spreadsheets or graphics. Xpedio also automatically publishes this content to a variety of Web formats, such as HTML, XML, PDF or WML. In addition, users can access content stored in the Xpedio Content Server through the Sybase EP.

Microsoft’s Bluetooth Drop Ripples Through Industry

In April, when Microsoft announced that it wouldn’t be supporting the Bluetooth standard in Windows XP, the forthcoming version of Windows, many trade press pundits (who should know better) began sounding the death knell for the short-range wireless communication standard.

The ensuing noise was loud enough to cause Carl Stork, general manager of Windows hardware strategy at Microsoft, to post an open message on the Microsoft Web site stating, "the issue for USB 2.0 and Bluetooth is only the timing of availability for native support for Windows, and not any decision to choose support for one technology over another."

Still, given Microsoft’s rather spotty record of keeping its commitments, it’s not unreasonable to be a bit skeptical. Nevertheless, according to a Microsoft spokesperson, "[Microsoft] is one of the nine promoter companies in the Bluetooth SIG. We are currently developing and testing our Bluetooth software. We are also working with industry partners to stabilize the technology and bring the best possible user experience to our customers."

Don Baumgartner, business unit manager for the Universal Mobile Connectivity Group at Extended Systems in Boise, Idaho, for one is confident that Bluetooth will rise above any suspicion. "Realistically, Microsoft’s development schedule makes it difficult for them to integrate new technologies. [For now], Bluetooth is an exceptional technology for personal area networks (PAN), for those who want to connect their own individual [handheld] devices."

But, although Bluetooth may be starting life as a personal story, IT managers shouldn’t count it out in the enterprise where both having access to and using corporate data is becoming a competitive advantage. Baumgartner thinks it’s not too early to be thinking about a corporate campus with Bluetooth access points, which will provide Palm and CE devices [and other PDAs] with the ability to remain connected at any point. "There should be good opportunities for [IT managers] to get outfitted," says Baumgartner. Because there’s no time like the future in the IT business, look for readily available equipment to outsource by the end of the year.

– George Thompson

Analyst Report: Bluetooth Set to Grow

Microsoft’s announcement notwithstanding, Bluetooth developers can smile about a positive recent report from research firm Cahners In-Stat forecasting that demands for Bluetooth-enabled devices will provide substantial opportunities. The report also says that "Bluetooth-enabled equipment shipments will soar to 955 million units in 2005, a 360 percent five-year compound annual growth rate (CAGR)." The report, titled, "Access Anytime, Anywhere: Bluetooth Will Make it So," says that "there is a plethora of activity happening in application development, both on the client side and the server/services side." In fact, In-Stat predicts that "despite delays, the economic slowdown and a recent slew of negative reports, the emerging Bluetooth market will shine."

HP, Compaq Back Away from Wintel Server Plans

Is it too early for super-sized Windows servers in the enterprise? The actions of two of the big four Intel-based server manufacturers in recent months say yes.

Compaq Computer Corp. and Hewlett-Packard Co. both backed out of agreements to resell 32-processor systems based on Unisys Corp.’s cellular multi-processing (CMP) technology.

Unisys and Microsoft Corp. worked together to develop a large server and operating system that would bring Wintel into competition with back-end stalwarts, like Sun Microsystem’s Starfire servers.

Unisys delivered the 32-processor, 64-GB RAM-capable CMP systems, which it sells itself under the ES7000 brand. Microsoft produced Windows 2000 Datacenter Server, the company’s first operating system to support such lofty hardware specs.

Unisys got a major validation of its technology in February 2000 when Compaq agreed to resell CMP systems under its own ProLiant brand. Another boost came in the fall when HP decided to do the same. Dell, ICL and Hitachi also have agreements to resell CMP systems.

But Tim Golden, Compaq’s director of enterprise server product marketing, says 95 percent of Compaq’s sales of Windows 2000 Datacenter Server systems come on Compaq’s own eight-processor ProLiant servers.

"Part of it is just the overall industry readiness for this class of server," Golden says in explaining Compaq’s decision to discontinue marketing the CMP systems.

Compaq, HP and IBM are all betting that true industry readiness for Windows-based servers in the data center will come when Intel delivers its second generation of 64-bit processors, code-named McKinley. All three server vendors recently expanded on plans to roll out 32- or 64-processor servers running Microsoft’s Datacenter Server in the McKinley timeframe.

Unisys officials apparently disagree about market readiness for high-end Windows systems.

"We’re obviously disappointed that they’ve made this decision," says Peter Samson, vice president and general manager of Unisys Technology Sales Development. "We’re disappointed that Compaq didn’t give it a little longer to measure the market for the products. We believe that our strategy is still right."

The high-profile departures are damaging to Unisys from a PR perspective, according to Steve Josselyn, research director for enterprise server fundamentals at IDC. "It’s [never] good to have people walking away from your platform."

But, Josselyn points out that internal pressures as much as market conditions may have motivated the companies to back out of the Unisys arrangements.

For companies, like HP and Compaq, that sell both commodity Windows servers and higher-end UNIX systems, Datacenter muddies the marketing message, Josselyn notes.

– Scott Bekker

NAI Labs Allies with NSA in Linux Protection Efforts

NAI Labs has allied with the National Security Agency (NSA) and its partners to further develop the NSA’s Security-Enhanced Linux (SELinux) prototype. The work will focus on research and development to improve the security of open source platforms, with the NSA paying $1.2 million to NAI Labs over the life of the two-year contract. The collaboration will build upon NSA’s work in developing a set of new security controls for the Linux kernel and NAI Labs’ work in developing an example security policy configuration for these controls and several additional kernel controls. Together, the companies are striving to reduce the threat of security breaches caused by flawed or malicious applications.

NAI Labs is a division of PGP Security, a Network Associates company, and is a security research organization with 100 dedicated researchers in four facilities throughout the United States and is a founding member of the Security Research Alliance. In addition to its prominent role in the security research community, all unclassified network and cryptographic research is shared with Network Associates’ product development and support organizations to enable superior solutions for Network Associates customers.

SCO UnixWare Now Caldera’s, Along with Acrylis

Linux and UNIX vendor Caldera International Inc. has completed its acquisition of two Santa Cruz Operation (SCO) divisions, and announced the acquisition of assets of Acrylis, a Linux network management vendor.

SCO was one of the oldest UNIX vendors, descending from hackers playing _with AT&T code. Caldera’s acquisition of its server software and professional services divisions lends credence to the Linux company’s attempts to reach into the enterprise market.

Caldera will continue to market and support SCO’s UnixWare operating system. Like Linux, versions of UnixWare operate on Intel-based platforms – in fact, it was the first operating system to run on Unisys’ 32-way ES/7000 Intel server. Caldera plans to expand the professional services unit to aid users in integrating Linux into corporate environments.

The Acrylis purchase enables Caldera to grow its software offerings. Beenoy Tamang, vice president of corporate development at Caldera, says his company will use the product to expand the abilities of it Volution network management product. The addition of the Acrylis technology, formerly known as Whatislinux, enables administrators to monitor and install software packages on Linux machines.

Caldera will take two steps in integrating the Acrylis technology into its product line. The first integration will be with Volution to make a new product, Volution Online. Users will access both applications from a single management portal. "Already there’s a cosmetic cleanup," Tamang says, "[and] there will be much more integration." Second, Caldera will adapt Volution Online for the UnixWare operating system.

While Caldera focuses on the open-souce Linux operating system, Volution, Whatislinux, and Volution Online will be distributed as binaries. "This is very much a proprietary product," Tamang says.

– Christopher McConnell

Sun and Partners to Offer CRM Solutions

Sun, iPlanet E-Commerce Solutions, a Sun-Netscape Alliance, and i2 Technologies Inc. _will form an alliance to help advance the development and adoption of next-generation Customer Relationship Management (CRM) solutions. The alliance includes joint engineering, sales, support and marketing activities. Solutions developed under this alliance are intended to make iPlanet and i2 software interoperable on the Sun platform.

The offering, scheduled to be available later this year, is intended to be a set of services providing interoperability between i2 CRM solutions and the iPlanet e-business solutions on the Sun platform. The i2 CRM solution is a suite of applications that power the planning and execution of customer-facing business functions while managing orders throughout the process. The iPlanet SellerXpert and iPlanet BillerXpert software will provide electronic bill/invoice presentment and payment solutions.

Products and services from the alliance will be supported through Sun and i2 sales and pre-sales support resources. PricewaterhouseCoopers will act as a preferred integrator.

Automotive Fusion

A new fusion has occurred – and not the kind taught in physics classes. Siemens Automotive and Mannesmann VDO have combined their separate efforts into a single company called SiemensVDO Automotive AG. Seem like a mouthful? Well, maybe, but with its 50,000 employees in 34 countries, SiemensVDO Automotive is positioned to be a leading automotive supplier for high-tech electronics.

The company is active in the future-oriented fields of information, cockpit and car communication systems, including instrumentation, audio, navigation, multimedia and telematics applications. System solutions for drive train, motor control electronics and fuel injection technology are developed in the "Powertrain" unit. Safety products, such as airbag and ABS electronics, and complete fuel tank systems are produced in the business unit "Safety & Chassis." A strong trading division markets not only spare parts for cars and commercial vehicles but also the products of the VDO Dayton and VDO lines successfully introduced to the hotly contested market for audio and navigation systems.

Despite the slowdown in the automotive industry, particularly in North America, SiemensVDO sees itself as well-equipped to achieve its profit goals. "With many of our major products and system solutions, we are already holding number one or number two positions on the world market. By extending our systems business, we will conquer further market shares. Furthermore, we can benefit from the technological cutting-edge position of our parent company, Siemens, so that we can develop additional potential in many areas of electronics, telecommunications and telematics," says chairman of the board, Franz Wressnigg.

UDDI Eliminates the Middle Man

UDDI, the Universal Description, Discovery and Integration protocol, offers a means for automating machine-to-machine transactions by describing a Web service in a manner understood by both machines. Work is moving forward in revising the standard to better fit the needs of e-business and to bring production-quality UDDI registries online.

The UDDI Registry is a global public online directory similar to Yahoo or a b-to-b yellow pages; it’s an implementation of the UDDI 1.0 specification. People can use the UDDI Registry to find business partners and connect to them automatically, without human intervention.

A company’s entry in the UDDI Business Registry can be as simple as a phone and fax number. On a more advanced scale, people can use the UDDI Registry to check which Web service interface a given partner uses, such as Ariba or Commerce One or WebSphere.

For example, if a company uses Ariba Marketplace and several XML schema, it lists its support for Ariba and the XML schema in the registry. That’s not all – the company also provides links to the schema so that customers can download them; in addition, it includes an address on the company’s extranet where potential partners can connect.

The UDDI Registry has several advanced search functions. Companies can search for business partners by criteria, such as location, application support, tax ID code or a Dun & Bradstreet DUNS rating.

The three major supporters of UDDI – IBM, Microsoft and Ariba – are all revving their Web services software to support UDDI. For example, IBM’s WebSphere and UDDI for Java will support SOAP and UDDI, as will Microsoft’s BizTalk server and Ariba’s product lines.

The UDDI effort gives sellers a chance to make themselves more accessible to existing and potential new customers. "Most businesses want to exchange information and services electronically, but previously had no mechanism to make their services known," says Chris Kurt, group project manager for UDDI at Microsoft. "UDDI makes them visible globally, and through a mechanism that will be supported by tools and technologies that make interaction with these services and easy and cost effective as possible."

According to Microsoft, UDDI will help eliminate that need for human intervention by providing information that was previously available only through direct contact between both parties’ development teams.

"There is no cookie-cutter solution," says Sam Johnson, president of TransactTools Inc., a designer of UDDI systems. "Every hookup is different and has to be done from scratch." With the advent of UDDI, companies will be able to accelerate the integration process. "UDDI lets companies discover what interfaces they support and do it dynamically, rather than wiring things together statically like they do today," Johnson says.

While software vendors are eager to trumpet the promises of UDDI, the real-world outlook for UDDI may not be so rosy. The process of getting enterprises ready for UDDI has only begun, but most companies lack the software for b-to-b.

"Enterprises have just started doing a little b-to-b work, with some marketplace procurement apps or some app servers that are starting to run off transactional Web sites," explains McDaniel. "But, the full, complete logic that’s necessary to recognize a vision like UDDI is a couple of years [away]."

The UDDI technical committee’s plate is full as far as future developments are concerned. It must provide more reliable messaging to acknowledge receipt of a message, better two-way communication, and increased security, privacy and encryption of data during transfers between companies.

–Andy Patrizio

UDDI Registries Go Online

Microsoft and IBM have already taken version one of the UDDI registry online, and Hewlett-Packard plans to bring its service online this fall. Each of these companies expects the registry to offer new capabilities for e-businesses.

Microsoft and IBM brought test versions of the registry online late last year, and the systems went into production in May. Businesses with UDDI-capable systems can use the service today.

HP will bring its system online this fall, when IBM and Microsoft update their servers to version two of the UDDI registry. "We all will contain the same data," says Tom Gaskins, marketing program manager for UDDI at HP.

Chris Kurt, group program manager for UDDI at Microsoft says that multiple vendors offering replicated UDDI registries expand the reach and redundancy of the program. More users can access the system, and multiple hosts ensure uptime if one system goes down.

A version three for the UDDI registry is already in the works, Kurt says. He hopes that future versions will be backward compatible, but notes, "It will be driven to community standards they see emerge."

Regardless of the shape of future UDDI standards, both Gaskins and Kurt believe the UDDI registries will be popular with users. "We’re looking at pretty heavy utilization going forward," Gaskins says. "We couldn’t be happier with the way things are happening," Kurt says. "UDDI is a fundamental part of the Web, going forward."

–Andy Patrizio