CIO, CTO Roles Evolving
Today’s enterprise CIOs and CTOs are seeing an evolution in how their roles are defined at large companies. According to a Gartner Inc. analyst, CIOs are more often asked to act as business links between IT and the enterprise’s overall business strategy. CTOs, on the other hand, provide the technical expertise to implement the CIO’s vision.
In particular, CIOs are under pressure to consider the business sense of every dollar spent, according to Ellen Kitzin, group vice president for Gartner’s executive program in the Americas. She made the remarks at a Gartner conference in San Francisco in May.
Kitzin said CIOs no longer can be as free-wheeling with their budgets as they were during the technology boom of the late 1990s. "I was talking to one CIO who said, ‘Every time I hear that word ‘infrastructure,’ I can hear the sound of a vacuum sucking dollars out of my budget.’"
As CIOs take on more business responsibilities, Kitzin said, they often turn over the technology side of the business to a CTO. Kitzin said that Gartner research shows that successful CIOs must be able to demonstrate how technological innovation will have a direct and immediate impact on profit margins. Pointing to research indicating that the average life expectancy of a CIO in an organization is just 18 to 24 months, Kitzen said enterprise CIOs may be reluctant to take on business responsibilities.
Compaq Says Goodbye to Alpha
Compaq Computer Corp. announced in June it would transfer its Alpha processor assets to Intel Corp. It also said it would consolidate its 64-bit server lines around Intel’s IA-64 architecture.
Intel will receive intellectual property related to Alpha and rehire engineers from the Alpha division. Compaq will release its upcoming EV7 Alpha processor, which will probably be the final iteration in the Alpha family. Intel is unlikely to continue Alpha development, instead applying Alpha’s engineers and intellectual property to enhance its IA-64 architecture.
Compaq plans to phase out its Alpha line in favor of IA-64. Compaq will also port its Tru64 Unix operating system to IA-64, expanding the operating system options for Intel users.
The Alpha processor was the first commercial 64-bit processor, debuting in 1992. It was developed by Digital Equipment Corporation, and transferred to Compaq when it bought DEC. Alpha was also the first 64-bit platform to support Linux, which paved the way for development on Itanium.
Although the Alpha architecture was widely respected, it gained little traction in the marketplace. Compaq’s acquisition of DEC may have sounded the death knell for Alpha, since Compaq’s marketing energies have focused on Intel platforms.
Oracle Launches "The Last Database"
Oracle Corp. launched its Oracle9i database with an emphasis on a new version of its old clustering technology.
Oracle CEO Larry Ellison says the technology, called Oracle Real Application Clusters (RAC), made the long-overdue Oracle9i "the last database," which was the product’s codename during development. Ellison says the codename implies Oracle9i will drive competitors like IBM DB2 and Microsoft SQL Server out of the database business.
Ellison promises that RAC will bring sweeping changes in the way customers use Oracle. "We think that with 9i, two-thirds or more [of our customers] will use clusters. We think running clusters will be the standard way of running Oracle," he says.
"I would call [Oracle9i] an elegant enhancement of what Oracle is already doing, as opposed to a big industry leap," says Teri Palanca, a database industry analyst at the Giga Information Group. She notes Oracle’s work on making its database more manageable and integrating OLAP and data mining as valuable improvements to its core database.
Oracle’s approach with Oracle9i is the Real Application Clusters based on shared disk. The technology is an outgrowth of the Oracle Parallel Server (OPS) that Oracle has offered for years. Ellison acknowledged during his presentation announcing the launch that data locking was a bottleneck with OPS.
With 9i and RAC, Oracle is using a new caching approach to overcome the data-locking bottleneck.
Giga’s Palanca says Oracle Parallel Server never lived up to Oracle’s marketing hype about its scalability, and Oracle needs to prove its next-generation clustering will work.
Post-Ruling: Microsoft Presses on Toward the Enterprise
The government’s antitrust case against Microsoft Corp. has always been primarily about Redmond’s consumer products. Corporate observers have followed the lengthy case on the chance that a major judgment against Microsoft could topple its momentum into the enterprise.
But a U.S. Appeals Court decision in late June makes the likelihood of a court-ordered Microsoft break-up extremely remote. The court upheld U.S. District Court Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson’s finding that Microsoft violated antitrust laws, but the court overturned Jackson’s order to break the company in two.
Analyst Rob Enderle, of the Giga Information Group, had perhaps the most colorful quote about the current chances for Microsoft to eventually be split.
"It was going to be a snowball’s chance in Hell before. Now we’re questioning whether Hell exists in the first place," Enderle said. "There was never enough of a foundation built to justify breaking up the company. They never crossed the burden of proof that the benefit would be what they sought."
The changing legal climate makes it unlikely that Microsoft’s surge into the enterprise software space will be thwarted in any way by the case.
Even if the Jackson-ordered breakup into an operating system company and an applications company had taken place it was never clear that Microsoft’s enterprise push would have suffered.
The Software & Information Industry Association tried but failed in an effort to get the government to broaden the antitrust action to cover Microsoft’s practices involving server software.
On the applications side, the company’s SQL Server database, which accounted for $1 billion in revenues this year, actually could have been helped. SQL Server already enjoys better integration with the Windows operating system than its major database competitors Oracle and IBM DB2. The major competitive knock on the database is that it runs only on Windows. An applications-only half of Microsoft, unencumbered by corporate mandates to advance the interests of the Windows platform, would have been free to port to other operating systems.
IBM, Others, Formalize Linux Alliance
IBM Corp. said in mid-June that it formalized an alliance with Japanese computer vendors Fujitsu Limited, Hitachi Limited and NEC Corp., to collaborate on enterprise Linux development. The companies will share developers who are planning to expand the scalability, reliability and availability of the platform.
Dan Powers, director of Internet solutions at IBM, characterizes the alliance as a line of communication between the companies and a means of dividing tasks between the organizations. "We got together and said, ‘Let’s avoid duplicating our efforts,’" Powers says. Although the companies are collaborating on open-source projects, the greater communication will spur more efficient development.
Bill Claybrook, research director, Linux and open source at the Aberdeen Group, believes that while the alliance won’t slow down Linux development, it won’t speed it up either. All of the modifications companies make must still go through Linus Torvalds and his associates before release. However, Claybrook believes companies may be able to test and qualify changes and new code more quickly.
"This will help get the features people think they need for getting Linux to move up the food chain," Claybrook says.
Sun Rides JXTA into Peer-to-Peer Market
You have to give Sun Microsystems Inc. credit—the company knows how to get plenty of mileage out of a free product. Its latest Java effort, Project JXTA, pushes the company into the increasingly popular peer-to-peer market.
Project JXTA, pronounced "Juxta" (short for juxtapose, as in side-by-side) is a Java-based research project for distributed network computing using peer-to-peer infrastructure. It offers the basic plumbing for such a network, such as the basic networking infrastructure and client code.
There are already distributed computing efforts around the Internet, the most notable being SETI@Home, which scans for signals from another world. And there are plenty of so-called peer-to-peer projects out there, like the notorious Napster.
But both efforts have shortcomings. Distributed computing doesn’t offer the ability for peers to communicate. Those three million people running SETI@Home, for example, can’t talk among themselves. Each client works in isolation, even if a dozen computers in the same room are all running the program. With Napster, on the other hand, users can trade files, but nothing more.
JXTA is designed to address this by using what are called "pipes" to establish uni-directional, asynchronous communication between peers. The pipes will support binary code, data strings, Java technology-based objects and applets. The asynchronous support lets distributed services work without being locked up waiting for a response from the other end.
Project JXTA is open source, so all of the code is freely available from Sun. Sun plans to eventually support Java 2 Micro Edition and the C programming language in addition to standard Java support.
JTXA 1.0 can be found at www.jxta.org.
Zollar: Lotus Committed to Web Services
Following IBM’s lead, Lotus is making efforts to equip its software with support for Web services. Web services are an Internet, standards-based model for building and integrating Web applications and systems—regardless of platform or network limitations. The model is expected to give application developers and customers alike more flexibility in bringing interoperable solutions to market.
Discussing Lotus’ commitment to the new Web services movement, the company’s outspoken leader, Al Zollar, pointed to several new offerings during a keynote address at the annual Lotus DevCon event in June in Las Vegas.
"Web services is not about changing existing applications – it’s about changing the way applications are exposed and leveraging them across the Web," said Zollar. "We are already putting Web services headlights on our new solutions in order to enable the standards in the ‘right’ places with any upcoming products—so when the time comes, our customers will be able to plug and play applications. Lotus customers would be able to keep one consistent application model that evolves over time, adding increased value as more and more users commit to adding solutions."
Lotus’ Web Services initiative complements IBM’s new versions of WebSphere and DB2, which are furnished with support for Web services. Lotus followed suit in revealing some new solutions at DevCon, including the Lotus Web Services Enablement Kit, Sametime Everyplace 1.0, K-station Software Developers Kit, Domino Application Studio and Lotus Workflow 3.0.
Middleware Players Increase Web Services Focus
Responding to the momentum behind Web-enabled applications and services, BEA Systems Inc., IBM Corp. and Hewlett-Packard Co. all introduced new middleware offerings that, in some way, make operating an Internet-based environment easier.
Based on the additions these three big players are making to their middleware offerings, support for Web services is increasingly becoming a key differentiator among large software vendors.
During June’s JavaOne Developer Conference in San Francisco, BEA revealed a new e-business platform that combines its WebLogic Web application server with its portal offering and integration tool. The e-business integration giant calls the new release the first platform "that combines application server, Web services, integration and portal technologies into a single, integrated, standards-based e-infrastructure solution."
Around that same time, IBM, which is BEA’s closest competition in the application server market, has just announced its latest version of WebSphere Application Server. The new release is equipped with a variety of new features to streamline the process of deploying Web-accessible software and services.
And HP, which in the wake of its January acquisition of Bluestone Software aspires to become a middleware force, now supports the Java Services Framework (JSR 111) specification. The move is part of HP’s Core Services Framework, which is the first offering in the middleware market to support the new JSR standard and its accompanying APIs.
HP’s adoption of the JSR 111 specification, a standard not yet approved under Java 2 Enterprise Edition, is a power play of sorts intended to help the company quickly gain share on BEA and IBM in the middleware market. An open standards framework, JSR 111 is designed to give developers of Web-based applications more flexibility in creating interoperability between Java application services. Should it achieve widespread adoption among the Java developer community, HP would have an edge over the competition in this area of the middleware market.
Daryl Plummer, a group VP and research director with Gartner Inc., says he anticipates JSR 111 will be accepted under the J2EE standard. And he believes HP must continue to find ways to differentiate itself if it wants to compete with BEA and IBM. "HP has not been one of the leaders in [the middleware] market—and they want to be a leader," says Plummer. "In order to do that they need to do these sorts of things."
By providing developers robust support for Web service standards, including SOAP, UDDI, WSDL, XML and J2EE, IBM is showing its commitment to the Web-based software and services community. "It gives them a lot more leverage among the Web-only entrepreneur and Web-only developer," says Plummer of IBM’s increased focus on Web services.
Like IBM’s WebSphere, BEA’s WebLogic E-Business Platform also offers enhanced support for emerging Web service standards. And it provides a variety of connectors and application devices that work with these standards to help developers build Web-based solutions.
Tyler McDaniel, director of application strategies for research firm The Hurwitz Group, says by bringing its middleware pieces together under a single e-business platform, BEA is hoping to compete with IBM on a broad scale. Despite sentiment to the contrary, McDaniel does not view BEA as the most prominent player in the middleware market, but rather sees IBM in the power position.
"I wouldn’t define [BEA] as the leader in the middleware space at all," says McDaniel, who feels IBM has more to offer beyond the application server than BEA does. While BEA has been concentrating on establishing its application server as a dominant presence in the middleware market, which it has, IBM has done a good job developing its integration tools and other ancillary middleware offerings, according to McDaniel.
However, McDaniel believes BEA’s decisions to integrate its middleware offerings under a single platform and to focus more on Web services is a good move and will help better its position against IBM.
Security Measures Can Be Double-Edged Sword
While encryption can protect the privacy of corporate information assets, it can also make networks more vulnerable to viruses, says anti-virus software vendor Sophos Plc.
To keep information away from unintended recipients, some organizations are turning to encryption, encoding and decoding e-mails with public key encryption. While this ensures that no unintended recipients know the contents of an e-mail, it also hides the presence of viruses.
"We’re seeing more and more companies employing desktop-to-desktop encryption," says Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant at Sophos. Cluley says many organizations are not afraid of hackers or industrial spies, but, rather, law enforcement organizations.
Cluley says the Echelon program, a network of packet sniffers deployed by the United States, Great Britain and Australia, has met great resistance from businesses worldwide. Many of these businesses have decided to encrypt all e-mail traffic to escape the prying eyes of Echelon.
The problem arises, Cluley says, when viruses or other objectional materials—such as pornography—are encrypted. Server-based virus-scanning software is unable to detect these materials. Although administrators can scan for viruses at the desktop, server-based scanning is more reliable. Cluley says this presents a huge problem for enterprises. "The companies keenest on encryption are the same ones who don’t want viruses."
No server software is currently able to scan for encrypted viruses, and Cluley doesn’t believe it will be developed. "I don’t think there should be a way to scan encryption," he says. Other solutions include decrypting messages at the server level or giving an ISP a set of encryption keys. "None of these options are terribly rosy," Cluley says. "Any solution ocasionally weakens encryption."
Cluley says as hostility to Echelon grows and e-mail viruses become more prevalent, a solution will have to be found, but in the meantime, administrators have a problem with no easy answers. "Any solution basically weakens encryption," he says.
U.S. Server Markets Down
The sluggish U.S. economy proved to be a killjoy for the worldwide server market during the first quarter of 2001. IDC’s Quarterly Server Tracker report shows Dell and IBM were the only two major manufacturers to post worldwide gains.
According to IDC, factory revenues for the industry declined four percent, from $13.8 billion in the first quarter of 2000 to $13.3 billion in the first quarter of this year. In the U.S. market, the descent was more precipitous; revenues fell 16 percent from $5.2 billion in the first quarter of 2000 to $4.4 billion in the first quarter of 2001.
Despite declining revenues in the overall server market, the rack-optimized segment showed substantial gains. Shipments jumped almost 138 percent, causing revenues in this segment to spike 87 percent. In comparison, revenues in the non-rack-_optimized server market fell 9 percent.
In terms of vendor performance, IBM and Dell were the only top-five players to increase their revenues in the worldwide market, with 13 percent and 21 percent jumps, respectively. In the U.S. market, Dell was the only top-five vendor to increase its revenues with 12 percent growth.
Great Gains from Great Plains
Microsoft Corp. presumably acquired Great Plains Software Inc. last year in order to extend its dominance to back-office automation software, particularly for small- and medium-sized businesses.
According to integrator ePartners, which sells Great Plains software, Solomon and Dynamics are currently true mid-market solutions. The eEnterprise product, on the other hand, has a more robust feature set, making it a better link to the high-end business automation market and a competitor with solutions like SAP and PeopleSoft.
Microsoft may merge Great Plains’ eEnterprise and Solomon into a single product, however, according to Terry Flatten, ePartners’ VP of sales. Flatten believes Microsoft will start the process immediately by combining key features from both products.
One of the changes Flatten said he expects to see in the 7.0 release of eEnterprise, the first under Microsoft, is enhanced reporting capability similar to Solomon’s. Meanwhile, with Solomon 5.0, Flatten said Microsoft may incorporate some of the business alert and import-export features from eEnterprise.
In addition, the upcoming releases of both Solomon and eEnterprise are expected to incorporate some .NET technologies. Microsoft .NET is an initiative for delivering all Microsoft technology on a Web services infrastructure. Ultimately, said Flatten, "Great Plains is probably going to be a .NET product."
Although no official announcement has been made yet, eEnterprise 7.0 and Solomon 5.0 are expected to hit the market in late summer or early fall.
Mainframes for the Masses
Hoping to attract developers to create applications for the zSeries, IBM Corp. launched its Linux Community Development System program for anyone interested in exploring Linux on IBM’s zSeries mainframes. Users can remotely access the 10-processor G6 machine to learn about mainframe Linux and test applications.
"We’d like to bring the mainframe to the masses," says Joann Duguid, IBM’s director of Linux for the IBM zSeries. Along with developers, IBM hopes to attract users interested in the scalablity and performance of the mainframe, Duguid says. "It shows the partitioning capability for each of our users to have their own virtual machine."
Users can sign up for the program at IBM’s site for the Linux Community Development System. Once enrolled, users are assigned a password and telnet the machine in Endicott, N.Y., via a client using SSH encryption.
Duguid believes that experienced Linux users will have no problem using the mainframe system and that porting applications to the zSeries should be trivial. "All you have to do is move the application and recompile," she says.
Users have the choice of the SuSE and TurboLinux distributions. IBM has also installed IBM’s middleware packages, and applications from the distributions. IBM also provides its Shark storage server for managing storage and Tivoli Storage Manager.
Compaq Computer Corp. added an Itanium server to its Test Drive program to offer Linux developers the opportunity to experiment with the IA-64 architecture.
The Compaq Blazer server runs four Itanium processors at 800MHz and sports 4GB of memory on Red Hat Linux 7.1 for Itanium. Like the IBM test machine, users can access the server via the Internet to test and compile applications.
Compaq also offers Alpha systems running Compaq’s Tru64 operating systems, 32-bit Intel systems running Mandrake, x86 systems with Windows 2000, and FreeBSD on both Alpha and Pentium processors.