The Apple iPad: Seriously?

It really looks like a grossly overweight iPod touch? And it's really called the iPad? Seriously? (We're going to take the high road here for once -- unlike a lot of other commenters whose thoughts we've read over the last couple of days -- and hold off on jokes about the iPad name. Let's just say that it's...awkward.) And there's really a slew of stuff that this thing doesn't come with and doesn't do, and it looks like a major pain to use and carry around? Really, Apple? Really?

We're in a little bit of disbelief here, given that this device was supposed to consume all other devices and enslave us all to its genius and that of Steve Jobs. The iPad is probably the dorkiest thing we've ever seen -- and we know dorky. Oh, we know it well. In all seriousness, why are we supposed to dump our (much cheaper) netbooks for this cartoonish hunk of plastic and weird rubbery stuff? What's the point of it?

Oh, the Apple legions will be all over us for this one, but we're thinking that the iPad looks pretty iBad. This could be the product that finally shatters Vista's record for worst hype-to-success ratio. Apple's losing it.

Posted by Lee Pender on January 28, 20107 comments

Oracle To Take Top 4,000 Sun Customers Away from Partners's Jeff Schwartz was all over yesterday's big Oracle-Sun acquisition announcement like your editor on a free buffet. (Seriously, people stare. But it's free!) Let's rummage through a bit of what Jeff gleaned from Larry Ellison's day-long tour de ego.

Just looking through here (go ahead and imagine that we're kind of whispering and dragging out the last word of every phrase as we flip through pages)...going to focus on bundling hardware with applications and database software; that's's something about competition from the Microsoft-HP alliance and from IBM...there's a new product called Exadata...oh, wait; here's a quote from Ellison himself. Let's see what he has to say:

"It is odd that the computer industry ships all these separate parts and expects customers to assemble them," Ellison said. "You will now be buying this complete system, and don't have to hire IBM or someone else to assemble it for you."

Huh. Well, that's kind of an odd quote. It would seem to us that partners do a lot of that assembling, probably because they're experts at it and know how to assemble, customize and maintain systems better (and more cheaply) than most internal IT people or big software vendors do. That's part of the reason why Microsoft has 600,000 partners or some such number and has been pretty successful using a channel strategy over the years. Gosh, it almost seems as if ol' Larry has something against the channel. Wait...what's this? A blog post from Jeff? Ellison's going to do what?

Yes, it's true. Oracle is going to take Sun's top 4,000 customers and move them to a direct-sales model and away from working with partners. Larry said it himself during yesterday's please-pay-attention-to-me-and-not-to-Steve Jobs event. He also talked to The New York Times about it. Check out this bit from another blog post by Jeff:

However, Oracle will sell its products direct to Sun's top 4,000 customers, Ellison tells The New York Times. Those 4,000 customers account for 70 percent of Oracle's revenues. Ellison indicated Oracle will move away from relying on Sun's partners to serve those customers.

"The partner model was disastrous, and we are immediately changing that," Ellison tells the Times.

Really? So, it was the partners that brought Sun to its knees, not poor leadership, questionable strategic decisions and a company more bloated than...well, than your editor after an hour of eating at a free buffet? That is interesting. Because Dell swore off the channel for years and then came back. And Microsoft, as we mentioned earlier, is king of the software mountain and has been for a couple of decades, thanks in very large part to its channel-heavy approach and massive partner base. Wow, those Sun partners must have really been duds.

Or maybe -- just maybe -- Larry's making a big mistake here. He doesn't make many; Oracle's ravenous approach to acquisitions has served the company pretty well so far. But hiring thousands of new direct salespeople and effectively cutting off the channel -- is that really what Sun needed all along? Or is Ellison just getting greedy and wanting to keep all the sales and service revenues for himself? We suspect a little bit of both.

In any case, yesterday was a bad day for the channel, and Oracle has clearly demonstrated what it thinks of you, partners, and how it's going to deal with the channel from now on. Will Larry Ellison turn into Michael Dell in a few years and want to partner with you again? We'll see...and here at RCPU, we hope so.

What's your take on Oracle ditching Sun's partners and going direct? Send it to [email protected].

Posted by Lee Pender on January 28, 20103 comments

Redmond Rolls Out Windows 7 Updates

You are up and running on Windows 7, right? Well, if you aren't, you probably should be. And if you are, you're going to want to know about this raft of updates Microsoft just released.

Posted by Lee Pender on January 28, 20100 comments

Is the End Near for the Company Laptop?

Today is the computer apocalypse, apparently, the day when the Apple tablet will destroy all other known devices in the universe and Steve Jobs and his band of hipster techno-warriors will begin their Cabernet-soaked 1,000-year rule of the planet. Resistance, as you might imagine, is futile.

Seriously, has anything ever received more hype than the Apple tablet? Anything? A Super Bowl? A Windows launch? New Year's Day 2000? We can't remember anything that has moved presses and pixels as much as this long-awaited reinvention of a model that's actually been around for quite a while and has never really been all that successful.

Apparently, people want this thing despite the fact that they (probably) haven't seen it until today and likely aren't even sure of exactly what it will do. Tablet mania is so rampant that it appears to have already eaten into sales of plain ol' laptops...including those made by Apple!

Of course, the Apple tablet is really a consumer play, so the last refuge of the laptop might just be the enterprise, along with small businesses. This tablet thing isn't even going to have a keyboard (we don't think -- but we're writing this the evening before launch day), so it won't show up much around the office in any serious way. Or will it?

It could, apparently, and not just because its appetite for devouring every other computer in the world is insatiable. No, the reason the Apple tablet might end up in use in the workplace is because...well, somebody might just want to use one. The prediction-happy folks at Gartner (aren't predictions wonderful when nobody ever checks up on them later on?) say that by 2012 -- that's two years from now -- 20 percent of businesses will just let folks work on whatever kind of machine they want. Check this out from the Gartner gurus:

By 2012, 20 percent of businesses will own no IT assets. Several interrelated trends are driving the movement toward decreased IT hardware assets, such as virtualization, cloud-enabled services, and employees running personal desktops and notebook systems on corporate networks.

The need for computing hardware, either in a data center or on an employee's desk, will not go away. However, if the ownership of hardware shifts to third parties, then there will be major shifts throughout every facet of the IT hardware industry. For example, enterprise IT budgets will either be shrunk or reallocated to more-strategic projects; enterprise IT staff will either be reduced or reskilled to meet new requirements, and/or hardware distribution will have to change radically to meet the requirements of the new IT hardware buying points.

In other words, all of a company's applications and back-end stuff will sit in the cloud in some vendor's (or possibly the company's) datacenter, and users will just tap into the cloud using whichever device they choose -- probably an Apple tablet, if the hype comes even close to becoming reality. That's 20 percent of businesses -- likely small ones, we're guessing -- by 2010. Again, two years from now, or so says Gartner, anyway.

Whether the number actually ends up being that staggering, we see where Gartner is going with this. And while there are enormous potential ramifications of this prediction on many levels, we'll stick here with discussing laptops. It's very possible (hardware partners take note) that the company laptop will someday become a relic. Microsoft partners, that means no more hardware refreshes and mass sales of new operating systems, like Windows 7 -- everything will just reside in the cloud, and Google or Microsoft or Amazon or (hopefully) some Microsoft partner will just upgrade it from time to time.

That would create a massive sea change in the way vendors and partners do business and in the way companies consume technology. No IT infrastructure? That sounds like an opportunity for partners to offer outsourced services. No more company laptops? That sounds like a potential problem for partners that still make money primarily by selling software -- if there are any partners out there like that anymore. (Surely everybody's consulting-oriented, right? Yes? Let's hope so.)

Anyway, this little tidbit should give us all something on which to chew for a while -- but not too long, if Gartner's timing is correct. RCP the magazine has a great feature in its February edition about how partners should deal with the explosion in the portable-computing (i.e., laptop and netbook) market. It's a really useful read -- except, of course, if the Apple tablet wipes out everything we've ever known and rules the technology world with an iron fist. (And even then, partners would have to support Apple tablets -- so go ahead and read the story, anyway.)

How does your company or how do your clients handle work laptops? What's your take on the future of portable computing? Do you want an Apple tablet, and why? Sound off at [email protected].

Posted by Lee Pender on January 27, 20101 comments

HP Expands Security Services

The company launched 90 new managed security services this week, and if you want to read about them...well, you'll just have to click on Jeff Schwartz's story here. It's worth it. Seriously.

Posted by Lee Pender on January 27, 20100 comments

Gates: Chinese Censorship Not Too Pervasive

Ol' Bill doesn't seem to think that China's Internet snooping is that big of a deal. But one of the commenters on, who lives in China, begs to differ. Go weigh in here.      

Posted by Lee Pender on January 27, 20100 comments

Rebel New Zealand School Boots Microsoft, Goes Open Source

The world's greatest rugby nation (South Africans, we just wanted to see if you were paying attention) has a guaranteed contract with Microsoft for school technology, which actually sounds like a pretty good deal for whichever partner or partners secured it. But one rebellious alternative-learning Kiwi school has shed Microsoft completely and gone open source...with great results, a school official says. The start of a revolution? Nah. A mildly interesting story for a Monday? Sure.

Posted by Lee Pender on January 25, 20101 comments

Symantec Brings Deduplication to Midsize Compnanies

The folks at Symantec are all about deduplication these days; they even have a sort of manifesto-type thing about it.

This week, Symantec revealed that it will release in February NetBackup 7, which will bring all sorts of capabilities to big companies, including deduplication. It'll also roll out Backup Exec 2010, which will bring deduplication down to midsize businesses. Partners, take note.

"Primarily in the past, [deduplication] has been an enterprise-class technology," a Symantec official told RCPU last week. "[A] Windows IT administrator can now easily implement this in the environment they're familiar with."  

Posted by Lee Pender on January 25, 20100 comments

Gates Warns on Economy; Gartner Positive on Spending

Tell us, Bill, is it all going to be OK? Bill Gates isn't so sure about this economic recovery we're supposed to be having. He says it'll take "years of digging out" before the economy really becomes stable again. And he says taxes will probably have to go up in order to balance the federal budget here in the U.S. Ouch. Bill, we're not saying you're wrong (RCPU, too, fears that a true recovery will take a very long time -- if it happens), but we liked you better when you were hocking new versions of Microsoft products at Comdex.

Gartner, meanwhile, joins the small chorus of tech analysts (the other we can think of being Forrester) telling us that IT spending will bounce back in 2010. Well, it would almost have to, wouldn't it?

Posted by Lee Pender on January 25, 20104 comments

Bill Gates Is on Twitter...When It's Working

The former Microsoft employee has given in to the wicked 140-word (or fewer) temptations of the vile social networking site (where, of course, you can follow RCPU at Apparently, he's got some odd following preferences and some annoying new online friends.

The good news about Twitter this week is that it went down again for a while on Wednesday morning. Your editor is an ardent opponent of the whole concept of Twitter and would love to see (with apologies to the folks who work there) the whole operation silenced forever. Until that happens, though, that link again for following RCPU on Twitter is

Posted by Lee Pender on January 21, 20101 comments

Redmond Talks to Congress About Cloud Policy

This article is interesting enough, as Microsoft wants Congress to protect cloud data and is advocating policies in that direction. But what we really like is the photo on this page and the second comment underneath the article. Pretty good stuff.

Posted by Lee Pender on January 21, 20100 comments

Microsoft To Patch Internet Explorer Today

If you took France and Germany's extremely overbearing and inappropriate advice and switched from Internet Explorer to some other browser, you might have jumped the gun just a bit. Microsoft says that it's patching today the IE vulnerability that left the browser open to attacks.

So, did the Euros freak out a little bit in telling people to dump IE, or were they just looking for another reason to try to dump on Microsoft? We wonder...but not all that much.

Posted by Lee Pender on January 21, 20100 comments