IBM in Trouble Over Mainframes?

The European Union is on the hunt for another American company to pester, and this time the EU has gone old school. Way old school. The EU is investigating IBM over claims of possible antitrust practices in the (we couldn't make this up) mainframe market.

Yes, mainframes! You remember those, right? Big iron? Computers that filled entire rooms? OK, we know that today's mainframes aren't like the ones that IBM sold in the 1950s and '60s. But still...mainframes? Does anybody even want to sell those things anymore?

Well, IBM does. And one of its competitors, T3 Technologies, makes software that can move mainframe functionality to servers that run Windows. It's T3, in part, that's causing the problem here by complaining about IBM to the EU in the first place. And who's behind T3 as an investor? You guessed it -- Microsoft.

It all makes sense now. IBM helped get Microsoft into hot water with the EU, and now Redmond is trying to turn the tables -- intriguingly, by going after a market that was IBM's bread and butter for decades (and still is, to some extent).

IBM, though, is no stranger to legal wrangles. The company has been doing battle with the government and antitrust plaintiffs on and off since 1952 and has mostly come out on top, even winning a 13-year battle that lasted from 1969 until 1982.

So, Microsoft and the EU are not exactly breaking new ground here. Whether they get anywhere obviously remains to be seen. But in an era of virtualization and cloud computing, it's nice to see the good ol' mainframe make news once in a while.

Do you still use mainframes? If so, how? Answer at [email protected].

Posted by Lee Pender on July 28, 20105 comments

Avaya Battles Giants

It's a pretty slow news week, so we're offering an interesting piece on how Avaya is taking on Microsoft and Cisco in the (still) nascent field of unified communications. Enjoy.

Posted by Lee Pender on July 28, 20100 comments

Tablets Will Eclipse Netbooks, Study Says

Well, your editor sure bet on the wrong horse in this race. He's typing RCPU on a netbook right now, but Forrester says that it's the tablet, not the netbook, that will be the device of the future. Frankly, we don't understand the tablet fascination, and we're going to hang on to our netbooks until Apple pries them out of our cold, carpal-tunnel-wrecked hands...

Posted by Lee Pender on July 28, 20102 comments

HP, Microsoft Planning Tablet

Don Quixote lives! And he and Sancho Panza are, no doubt, on the development team for the supposedly forthcoming HP Widows tablet. Yeah, this'll knock the iPad off its perch...

Posted by Lee Pender on July 26, 20100 comments

Microsoft Earnings Impress, Shares Fall

Quelling rumors of its impending death, Microsoft reported impressive earnings last week, which naturally led to an immediate drop in its share price (although the company's stock did bounce back a bit today).

Posted by Lee Pender on July 26, 20100 comments

Microsoft in ARM Power Play

Microsoft's deal with ARM for smartphone chips has sent buzz around about the possible end of the Wintel partnership. We're not holding our breath on that, but it is interesting why Microsoft is tightening its relationship with the British chip maker. Apparently, it's all about power...consumption. Intel's chips drink the juice, and ARM's, while less powerful, are also much less thirsty.

Posted by Lee Pender on July 26, 20100 comments

Google Struggling with Los Angeles E-Mail Deal

Sometimes, revolutionaries don't make the best rulers. Such is the case with Google right now in the company's deal to provide cloud-based e-mail for the city of Los Angeles.

Last year, Google won a landmark contract for cloud computing and against Microsoft by sealing a deal to replace LA's old Groupwise e-mail system with a cloud-based system. It did so, in part, by looking young, hip and inexpensive in front of the LA city council, while Microsoft sent suits and old-school messages into the City of Angels.

All of that sounded great for Google at the time, and we at RCPU fully backed the search giant's cloud-first pitch and took Microsoft to task for practicing some fear-mongering with regard to the readiness Internet-based applications. There was one problem, though, with both our take and Google's. We were wrong, and Microsoft was right.

The LA Times reports that Google missed a June 30 deadline for having its e-mail system implemented because it couldn't meet the LA Police Department's requirements for security. Now, not only is Google losing the faith of city leaders in LA, the company is also on the hook for paying for upkeep on LA's old e-mail system until at least November.

The real damage here, though, is to Google's reputation and to the cloud-computing model itself. The LA fiasco could not come at a worse time; Microsoft and Google are both pushing hard to sell cloud-based e-mail to the US federal government, and Google had the extremely unfortunate timing of announcing today Google Apps for Government and touting one of its landmark accounts...yes, you guessed: the City of Los Angeles.

For all of Microsoft's talk about being "all in" for the cloud, the company still makes most of its money on desktop software and on-premises servers. At this rate, it might for a while to come. We're enthusiastic about the cloud here at RCPU, and while we don't cheer for one vendor over another (really, we don't), we were hoping that Google's LA implementation would go well and that it would give the cloud model a reference account.

Now, to be fair, technology implementations run over schedule and over budget all the time. Everybody knows that. So, we're not raking Google over the coals here for missing a deadline. What does concern us is that the problem that has delayed this deal relates to security and the handling of sensitive data -- probably the two biggest issues (along with compliance, which is tied into those two issues) that cloud skeptics tend to talk about.

Google's LA deal, fair or not, is a watershed event for the enterprise readiness of the cloud, and right now Microsoft's suits must be having a good chuckle because the cloud is failing to meet expectations that, to be fair, might have been too high to begin with. Google's failure has to be good news for Microsoft Exchange partners, too, as they can point to the LA debacle as an example of how cloud computing really isn't as cheap or easy as it's cracked up to be.

Of course, with Microsoft "all in" for the cloud and telling partners to get on board or get lost, channel members might not want to cast Google's LA folly in too negative a light. After all, Google is still ahead of Microsoft in terms of cloud functionality, and assailing Google right now is nearly tantamount to assailing cloud computing itself.

Over the years, Microsoft has rarely been first to markets it has come to dominate -- but it has dominated, eventually. Google is on the leading edge of cloud computing, a revolutionary that's struggling now that it's in power. Will Microsoft, in the long run, be able to stage a cloud coup? Or will servers within organizations' walls and copies of Outlook crush, at least temporarily, the momentum and hype around the cloud?

Stay tuned. LA has long been a leader in providing entertainment to the rest of the world, and the Google cloud drama should be as entertaining as anything Hollywood has produced in quite a while.

Do Google's problems in LA change your impression of cloud computing? How seriously to do you take the cloud as an enterprise model? Send your thoughts to [email protected].

Posted by Lee Pender on July 26, 20108 comments

Active Directory Not as Active as It Could Be

Apparently Active Directory isn't automating everything it should be automating, at least according to one survey. Maybe it's just taking the summer off...

Posted by Lee Pender on July 22, 20100 comments

Microsoft Security Essentials Beta Out

Redmond is hoping that this version will be a little more complete than the last and that folks will take it a little more seriously than they've taken security offerings from Microsoft in the past.

Posted by Lee Pender on July 22, 20100 comments

The Industrial Worm Turns

That USB vulnerability that Microsoft hasn't yet patched is actually turning out to be a pretty big deal.

That's because malware isn't just for PCs and servers anymore. This worm is hitting big control systems that are critical parts of companies' infrastructures, and this week it nailed German electronics giant Siemens and caused all kinds of trouble. (In an interesting little side note, apparently the password for the Siemens system the malware struck has been available on the Internet for years. Wow, who knew that would ever lead to a problem?)

Up-to-date antivirus software should catch and remedy the vulnerability, apparently, but Microsoft is still working on a patch to fix the hole. In the meantime, Redmond has dropped a little "fix-it" workaround that's...well, a bit severe. In fact, it makes Windows darn near impossible to use. (Open source and Mac fans, hold your jokes please -- or send them to [email protected] if you're so inclined.)

Thus far, Asia seems to have borne the brunt of the problems related to this nasty little industrial worm. We don't have much more to say about it other than that it's a real mess for some folks and that we hope that you won't have to deal with it. Oh, and Microsoft -- please hurry up with that patch.

Posted by Lee Pender on July 22, 20100 comments

Mea Culpa: The Healing Power of Spam

Dear Readers, 

As most (maybe all) of you probably know by now, I am a complete buffoon when it comes to using Microsoft Outlook. I recently sent many of you an e-mail about a story I'm working on. Unfortunately, this was my first attempt (ever!) at a mass e-mail, and I thoroughly botched it. When I sent the mail, I put your addresses in the "To" line. That, I have learned, was a huge mistake. I now understand the importance of the "Bcc" line in Outlook. I don't plan on sending any more mass e-mails, but I will keep this in mind for the future.

On the plus side, you all know each other now (sort of), and I've connected with some readers I haven't heard from in ages. I doubt that anyone who received my mail will forget me anytime soon. (Is it really true that there's no such thing as bad publicity? BP should be on the phone trying to recruit me anytime now.) Plus, I've already had some excellent responses to my request for stories about software audit nightmares. (Send your tales to [email protected]. I promise not to copy them to anybody else.) I really, sincerely apologize for my ridiculous (but honest) screw up, and I hope that I haven't caused you any problems. Please continue to communicate with me -- I am now wise in the ways of e-mail and will not be a nuisance again.


Posted by Lee Pender on July 22, 20102 comments

Microsoft Responds to Zero-Day Threat

And by responds, we mean that Microsoft put out a security advisory on a vulnerability involving shortcuts from USB devices. A patch? Well, that's in the works, but there isn't one yet. Oh, and if you're on Windows XP SP2 and you're having problems with this, you're going to have to pay for "custom support." Your patching days ended last week...

Posted by Lee Pender on July 21, 20100 comments