RCP: Channel Likes Dynamics CRM

We always love, of course, the content on RCPmag.com, but we really love it right now because news in August -- outside of VMworld -- was slower than an offensive tackle dragging in from a day at training camp. So, if you need some late-summer reading material, check out Jeff Schwartz's story on why Dynamics CRM is popular among partners.

Posted by Lee Pender on September 01, 2010 at 11:56 AM0 comments


RCP: A Little Channel History

Hey, another Labor Day reading suggestion! Yes, you can pass the long hours indoors as Hurricane Earl, which must be from Texas and might have grown up in a trailer park, splatters the East Coast. Howard Cohen's piece on the history of the channel will provide you with...well, minutes of reading pleasure -- but it is worth a read.

Posted by Lee Pender on September 01, 2010 at 11:56 AM0 comments


VMware Makes its Hybrid Pitch

It's show time in San Francisco, where VMware is holding its annual VMworld conference and possibly stranding East Coast-based attendees through Labor Day weekend. There's a hurricane on the way, you know, and it might just soak the Eastern Seaboard this weekend.

With hurricanes, of course, come clouds -- or more appropriately, a big, swirling storm cloud with an eye in the center. Well, this week, all eyes were on VMware's cloud plans. (Oh, that was a terrible turn of phrase. But give us a break -- it's 95 degrees here in Greater Boston today, and we're not as air conditioning-equipped as some of you folks in other parts of the country are.)

At VMworld, the virtualization leader is making its hybrid pitch, more or less. vCloud Director, the company's new offering, is all about helping customers set up "internal clouds" (or Internet-based services that the customer itself hosts on-premises and delivers to users), as well as letting businesses know which tasks to run in an internal cloud and which to outsource completely to VMware or one of its hosting partners.

It sounds a bit like Microsoft's plans for the Windows Azure Platform Appliance, which will serve as sort of a set-top box of cloud applications. VMware is even beefing up its cloud efforts with a couple of acquisitions, specifically of Integrien and TriCipher.

What vCloud Director and the Azure appliance show is that the cloud that's moving into IT and the partner channel will be more of a steady farmer's rain than a hurricane. Hybrid, internal-external setups will rule for some time to come, and after making a considerable splash about the fully-outsourced cloud, big vendors are now settling into promoting the hybrid model.

That's pretty much what's going on in San Francisco this week. By the way, if you're at the show, or if you just really want to know what's going on there day by day, Rick Vanover has been blogging on-site for Virtualization Review. And, if you do get stuck in San Francisco this weekend, enjoy. We'll be swimming around the streets of our East Coast cities...maybe.

Have a thought about virtualization, VMware or Microsoft? Drop it to [email protected]

Posted by Lee Pender on September 01, 2010 at 11:56 AM0 comments


Spend-tel: Intel Dishes Out for Infineon Wireless Business

Well, cash is certainly burning a hole in somebody's pocket. Not long after scooping up McAfee for almost $8 billion, Intel is once again making a b-word acquisition, this time shelling out $1.4 billion for Infineon's wireless business. (The b-word was billion, by the way. You did get that, right?)

Posted by Lee Pender on August 30, 2010 at 11:56 AM0 comments


What Is Wrong with Paul Allen?

He's apparently healthy and not broke, so why is Paul Allen, Microsoft co-founder and Pacific Northwest sports magnate, suing pretty much the whole technology industry (except Microsoft) for patent infringement? This is as much of a head-scratcher as we've seen lately. Is this just a money grab? Is it an attempt to squeeze something tangible out of the failed Interval Research project, which Allen is using to launch the legal action? Is Allen just bored waiting for football season to start? We have all questions and no answers. And we suspect that Allen's legal action will get about as far in the courts as the Seahawks did in the NFC West last season. (In other words, since Allen hasn't sued the St. Louis Rams, as far as we know, we don't really see him beating anybody here.)

Posted by Lee Pender on August 30, 2010 at 11:56 AM5 comments


Microsoft Boxes Up the Cloud

OK, so, since this is a family newsletter, we're not going to make a reference to "that" Saturday Night Live skit when we talk about Microsoft's cloud in a box. But, yeah, we thought of it too.

Despite the notable absence of Justin Timberlake, Microsoft is talking boxes these days, at the same time that it's saying that it's "all in" for the cloud. How does that work, exactly? Well, Microsoft plans to put the cloud in a box (there's that phrase again -- but we're resisting temptation) with the forthcoming Windows Azure Platform Appliance.

The technology is fairly complex, but the idea is pretty simple. Microsoft compares WAPA (our name, not Microsoft's, but we find it catchy) to a cable or satellite box, except (hopefully) without a bunch of niggling little fees tacked on and with a better product to offer. Essentially, a customer would have WAPA on-premises, but Microsoft would host and maintain the device -- again, kind of like a set-top TV box.

This could be the device that finally bridges the cost advantages and convenience of the cloud with the reassurance about security and reliability that on-premises deployments offer. Or, it could be a thing that looks like a gigantic window-unit air conditioner and goes the way of Windows Vista. We're betting on the former, though, so partners should know how they can take advantage of this work in progress.

And they can find out...by reading the cover story in September's RCP magazine. Jeff Schwartz wraps everything up nicely and well in advance of the holiday season. Read up on Microsoft's cloud in a box and send your thoughts on it to [email protected]

Posted by Lee Pender on August 30, 2010 at 11:56 AM0 comments


DLLs Gone Wild

Right after Microsoft said that it couldn't patch a problem in Windows involving DLL load hijacking, guess what happened? Attacks involving DLL load hijacking popped up all over the place.

Posted by Lee Pender on August 26, 2010 at 11:56 AM0 comments


Colorful Battle in Store Between Red Hat and Azure

Red Hat has a cloud platform. It has a target competitor for that platform: Microsoft Azure. And it has a huge challenge ahead.

The darling of the open source world revealed this week that it has developed a Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS, of course -- but not that Paas, or even this one) offering, primarily aimed at companies looking to create "hybrid" clouds, or mixed Internet-service and on-premises IT environments.

In revealing its new platform, Red Hat did perhaps more than it realized to validate Microsoft's competitive offer. Quoth the news story linked above:

"Paul Cormier, executive vice-president and president of Red Hat's products and technologies unit, said that Red Hat and Microsoft are the only two companies that can offer the entire stack necessary to run a hybrid cloud-enabled IT environment. He added that some virtualization vendors lack the operating system and a 'credible middleware offering' to make this claim."

First of all, mee-ow! Take that, VMware! Of course, Cormier is probably right, but he might not realize how such a statement plays into Microsoft's hands. A pure-cloud environment, in which everything runs on an Internet-based platform hosted in a vendor's data center and is delivered to a company on a subscription basis, levels the playing field somewhat for companies trying to compete against Microsoft.

After all, if a company really is going to just chuck its whole IT infrastructure into the cloud, there's no reason for it not to consider a fresh start with a brand-new vendor. But nobody's doing that -- and Red Hat gets that (as does Microsoft). Companies are going to farm some functionality out to the cloud but continue to house some of it -- probably most of it -- within their own walls.

And that's where Microsoft should have the same old advantage it has had over Red Hat and other vendors for years: its massive installed base. It's the old pitch extended to a new model: Why mess around with multiple vendors when you can get everything from Redmond, both what you have in-house and what you need in a hosted model?

OK, so maybe the pitch isn't quite that simple, but it's not far off. And it is one big point in Microsoft's favor as the company begins in earnest to compete in the cloud with rivals such as Amazon, Google and now Red Hat. Plus ca change, as the French would say...The more things change, the more things stay the same.

What's your take on Microsoft competing with Red Hat in the cloud? How compelling does Red Hat's PaaS offer look at first blush compared to Azure? Send your thoughts to [email protected]

Posted by Lee Pender on August 26, 2010 at 11:56 AM0 comments


A Sneak Peek at IE 9?

From Russia with links... Somebody in Microsoft's Russian office appears to have maybe accidentally given the world a preview of the interface for Internet Explorer 9. Microsoft police are still investigating the case, of course, but they have detained two possible suspects. (Just kidding. There's no such thing as the Microsoft police.)

Posted by Lee Pender on August 26, 2010 at 11:56 AM0 comments


Microsoft Refreshes Security Compliance Manager

The update came out on Friday for the tool that helps administrators set baseline security policies on a bunch of Microsoft products.

Posted by Lee Pender on August 25, 2010 at 11:56 AM0 comments


HP Hasn't Scored 3Par Yet

So, we might have called the tournament with the players still on the 18th green. Apparently, HP hasn't quite nabbed 3Par yet (Dell is still in the running), and all of this interest in the company has other firms in the space thinking that they might be some big vendor's next acquisition target.

Posted by Lee Pender on August 25, 2010 at 11:56 AM0 comments


Microsoft Cloud Goes All Out

If anything is going to derail the cloud-computing train, it'll be cloud computing itself.

Microsoft's Business Productivity Online Suite -- the cloud versions of Exchange, SharePoint and other tools that Microsoft itself hosts -- went out for a couple of hours on Monday. A couple of hours might not sound like a big deal, but it's a pretty long time to be without e-mail or SharePoint access. And, more to the point, two hours would be a virtual eternity if a truly critical system -- something like an ERP application or suite -- were involved.

Of course, this shouldn't be that big of a deal because this stuff happens all the time. But that's precisely the problem: This stuff happens all the time. Data-center outages, some lasting hours, are still common enough that many companies are hesitant to move anything to the cloud except some extraneous or non-critical applications. As long as that's the case, the cloud won't reach its full potential as a revolutionary model for IT.

We know, too, that on-premises systems go down all the time as well. But in that case, a big enough company can get a partner or an internal IT department started on fixing it. When cloud apps go down, all companies can do is sit on their hands (or scream into the phone) and wait for their providers to make everything OK again.

Many Microsoft partners' role in cloud computing is still up in the air (ahem, so to speak). But Microsoft has pledged many times to be "all in" for the cloud, so it's coming to (and from) Redmond whether partners are prepared for it or not. These outages, though, remain the proverbial elephant in the room for partners looking to sell the cloud to their customers. And there's not much that partners who don't host applications themselves can do about them.

In that sense, many partners are a lot like customers when it comes to cloud computing -- when something goes wrong, they have to wait around for somebody else to fix it just as the customer does. Frustrating? Sure. Discouraging to potential clients? Undoubtedly. Avoidable? Apparently not. So, what's a partner to do when the system goes down and somebody else has to fix it? Wait, we suppose, and wonder whether cloud computing will ever become reliable enough to erase doubts about it.

What's your take on reliability in the cloud? Do you trust cloud-based applications? Do you have any horror stories about the cloud? Tell them at [email protected]

Posted by Lee Pender on August 25, 2010 at 11:56 AM2 comments