Avoiding Cloud Pitfalls

Many IT pros are wary of the cloud because they can't control the data and must rely on the service provider to keep hackers at bay. But the cloud, in many cases, is financially and technically compelling. So if the economics lead you to a cloud solution, do your best to make sure your apps are secure. A report from the Cloud Security Alliance has some advice -- and a few warnings.

Here are some things for you to think about and to press your cloud provider on: How does the provider handle patching and, in general, administer your system? Because most clouds are virtualized, what specific steps have been taken to make sure cracking one VM doesn't lead to hacking all of them? How secure are the APIs? And finally, what measures are taken to make sure the service provider's own employees aren't a risk? IT people can be just as bad as any other, as I discovered in this report that was entirely based on Redmond Report readers' experiences.

Have you gone to the cloud? How do you handle security? Let me know at dbarney@redmondmag.com.

Posted by Doug Barney on March 05, 2010 at 11:53 AM0 comments


Novell Approach

I love Novell. This company has been on the ropes more than Ali in Zaire. But like Muhammad, Novell clearly has the knock-out punch. Whereas Wang, DG and WordPerfect all died because they couldn't escape their legacy, Novell did. NT killed NetWare and Office killed WordPerfect (which Novell bought), but yet Novell not only survives, but prospers.

Don't believe me? Well, why else would a hedge fund offer a cool $2 billion (in cash) for Novell?

I've seen enough companies come and go, and I've covered Novell on and off for almost three decades. Novell's survival and success are something we should all admire.

What's your best or worst Novell memory? Stories may be passed along to dbarney@redmondmag.com.

Posted by Doug Barney on March 05, 2010 at 11:53 AM3 comments


IT Heartache

It's been tough in IT for, what, about the last 10 years? It's gotten even worse in the last two, as you've been asked to not only do more with less, but sometimes do more with nothing!

How have these budget cuts affected you? How does it feel to lose co-workers or even be the one to give them their pink slips? How do you keep your head up and respond to these challenges? How do you prioritize spending when you're dealing with chump change?

I want to bring your stories to life in a cover story for Redmond magazine. I want your war stories and advice. E-mail me directly at dbarney@redmondmag.com and we may feature your experiences in this upcoming article!

Posted by Doug Barney on March 03, 2010 at 11:53 AM2 comments


Spambot Busted

Microsoft has just helped eliminate a spambot that could send some 1.5 billion spams every day. The Botnet Task Force, which Microsoft runs, got an injunction against the still unidentified botnet "herders," and the botnet domains are now shut down.

While the folks behind the botnet are still unknown, the botnet itself, W32.Waldedac, is fairly well-understood and hopefully will be gone for good.

Is spam getting better or worse? Send your answers, not your spam, to dbarney@redmondmag.com.

Posted by Doug Barney on March 03, 2010 at 11:53 AM1 comments


Windows Server 2008 R2 Is Hot

Windows Server 2008 R2 is hot enough to literally lift the x86-based server market out of its doldrums. IDC says server sales in the fourth quarter were up nearly 14 percent, with 42 percent of those running Windows Server. That's more than double the amount of servers running either Linux (at 14 percent) or Unix (at 18 percent). In that part of the market, Linux is rising slightly while Unix continues to fall.

Posted by Doug Barney on March 03, 2010 at 11:53 AM2 comments


VBScript Hit by Strange Exploit

If an e-mail directs you to a Web site, and that Web site asks you to push the F1 key -- don't! This is a new attack that takes advantage of a flaw in VBScript running on IE and Windows 2000, 2003 or XP, and if successful, can run malicious code on the attacked computer.

I can't remember ever being asked to hit the F1 key by a Web site, and I doubt you IT pros would fall for this either. But tricks like this fool novices all the time. In fact, I had a boss at an IT publication who thought someone was in love with him...and he unleashed the I Love You virus on his entire operation.

Have you or anyone in your IT group ever spread a virus? Come clean at dbarney@redmondmag.com.

Posted by Doug Barney on March 03, 2010 at 11:53 AM3 comments


Windows XP, Server 2003 Winding Down

All good or even mediocre things must come to an end, and so it is with XP SP2 and Windows Server 2000 and 2003, for which extended support will end this summer.

Microsoft is pushing customers to upgrade before July 31 or suffer the no-support consequences. If you don't upgrade but still want a failsafe, you'll have to buy a custom support plan. XP users have another, simpler option: Just upgrade to SP3! That will be supported for three more years.

If you're on Windows 7 RC, you best move to the real thing soon. Starting today, your machine may start shutting down for two hours at a time. There's a free trial version that will buy you another three months of uninterrupted use.

Does Microsoft support end too soon or go on too long? Tell us at dbarney@redmondmag.com.

Posted by Doug Barney on March 01, 2010 at 11:53 AM1 comments


.PST Format Now Mostly Open

Microsoft has been on an interoperability kick of late, and its most recent move involves Outlook's .PST format for storing e-mail. Microsoft recently published all the how-to's and wherefores for .PST so other vendors can tie more directly into the mail store.

There are limits, however: You can only access .PST files running on Outlook, and you can't implement the format in your own products.

Posted by Doug Barney on March 01, 2010 at 11:53 AM0 comments


Back in the Saddle

The recession had a lot of victims; jobs, mortgages and IT projects were all killed. While there's not a lot of good job and foreclosures news, IT projects may be on their way back. Cancelled projects as well and new ones are starting to get funding -- a development that could make IT fun again!

Top tech areas? Virtualization, Web design, collaboration, cloud computing and social media.

What's going on in your shop? Are the purse strings loosening? What areas are you looking at? Send your thoughts to dbarney@redmondmag.com.

Posted by Doug Barney on March 01, 2010 at 11:53 AM2 comments


Beta Blocker

Recently, I asked Redmond Report readers about your experiences with the beta version of Office 2010. Over a dozen of you agreed to be interviewed, giving deep insight into this new tool.

But due to space limitations in the magazine, I wasn't able to report on some of the problems you've run into. Take Redmond Report reader Bernie M. Bernie was interested in the new rev of Visio -- particularly because it sports the new ribbon interface -- and was told by Microsoft that Visio 2010 would coexist with his earlier version.

"I tried to open a 2007 doc -- any 2007 doc. They all failed," he said. "The beta had screwed up something in common with the Office 2007 environment. And it prevented any part of Office from being repairable, removable or updateable. I had to strong-arm it out, rip out several key registry sets of keys, then go back to the SP2 checkpoint, reinstall SP3, reinstall Office and make several additional attempts to reinstall Visio and Project 2007," he said.

Frequent Redmond Report commenter Mark D. MacLachlan of The Spider's Parlor also had problems. MacLachlan was a technical previewer and was told by Microsoft he had to move to the beta version. "My primary Office application is Outlook," MacLachlan said. "When I first loaded up the technical preview, I noticed that the default view was by conversation. Initially, I thought that was fairly cool. Then I noticed something bad: I was replying to old messages as if they were new because they were on the top of my incoming mail list. Moving away from the conversation thread was easy enough: I clicked View and Sort by Date. Imagine my surprise when I uninstalled the technical preview and did a fresh install of the beta and found that not only did the beta default to the conversation view, it also did away with the ability to sort by date. Instead, you must select to sort by conversation (date)."

MacLachlan found a workaround: deleting the Favorites folder for his inbox and making a new search folder -- sorted by date -- which he designated as the inbox. "The problem is, if I accidentally click on the inbox under Mail Folders instead of using the Favorite Folders link, I'm back to looking at the conversation view," MacLachlan said.

My guess is these problems will be solved prior to Office 2010's expected midyear release, but I'm using the nearly 3-year-old Office 2007 and it still has some weird behavior.

What's your productivity suite of choice and how is it treating you? Comments welcome at dbarney@redmondmag.com.

Posted by Doug Barney on February 26, 2010 at 11:53 AM4 comments


Sharing Synchronization Secrets

Most of us have several machines, and most of us are pretty mobile. So how do you keep a common set of files accessible from different PCs and locations? Are your files in the cloud or on a server? Do you use remote control software and have one PC as the master? Any cool third-party apps help you out in this regard?

I' m looking to explore the best options in a future feature story for Redmond magazine. Share your solution with the world be writing me at dbarney@redmondmag.com.

Posted by Doug Barney on February 26, 2010 at 11:53 AM7 comments


Google Apps Appeal

When most think people of Google, they picture free apps and services supported by ads. But a lot of Google wares have real price tags, including the enterprise version of Google Apps. And with paid products often come dealers -- and Google Apps can now claim nearly a thousand resellers. A big chunk of those are service providers who sell the apps as part of their overall service.

Many customers are apparently going with Google, not because of the cloud and access from anywhere, but because it's so cheap.

Do you use Google Apps or any other Web-based productivity tools? Are they any good? Let us know at dbarney@redmondmag.com.

Posted by Doug Barney on February 26, 2010 at 11:53 AM2 comments


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