29th > October > 2002 Archive

All your e-commerce sites belong to PanIP (and they want your money)

A San Diego-based company has stepped up its legal offensive against small and medium-sized web businesses. Pangea Intellectual Properties LLC was created in March this year, and is using a patent granted on September 11 2001 to one Lawrence Lockwood to obtain damages from a number of websites. The patent (No. 6,289,319), titled "Automatic Business and Financial Transaction Processing System" is broad enough to cover almost every variety of e-commerce, and as well as ATM machines. "Defendant has been inducing others to infringe the '319 patent by engaging in certain aspects of electronic commerce," according to its filings. In 1994 Lockwood was granted a patent (No. 5,576,951) for an electronic airline reservation system, and unsuccessfully used it to obtain damages from SABRE. This time, he's targeting much smaller businesses. And lots of them. The first batch of 11 recipients received claims for up to $30,000. Five more rounds have followed, each taking in ten defendants: you can see a list here on a site set up by one defendant to draw attention to the claims. Tim Beere of DeBrand Fine Chocolates told us that only two names are listed on documents associated with PanIP, and who is funding the litigation remains a mystery. Neither PanIP nor its attorney, Kathleen Walker, had responded to our calls at time of filing this story. In July we broke the story of how Forgent Networks was pursuing licensees over a JPEG patent. Fortunately, the PanIP issue has already gained some press - Information Week has a fine report that establishes that Lockwood has licensed his patents to PanIP, and lists other fatuous patents - but more wouldn't go amiss. ® Related Link You May Be Next - information on PanIP litigation Related Stories RIM keyboard patent harmful only to RIM - experts JPEGs are not free: Patent holder pursues IP grab
Andrew Orlowski, 29 Oct 2002

Of mad snipers and cyber- terrorists

Last Monday the Internet was attacked in what one Washington official described as "the most sophisticated and largest assault" in its history. Eight of thirteen root DNS servers got whacked simultaneously with a distributed denial of service attack. Had the assault not been shut down in an hour, the constant interchange of e-mail spam and viruses might have been slowed; the ability of millions to BS idly with strangers in IRC might have been impeded; e-commerce orders of bulk dog food might have gone unfulfilled; and millions of teenagers might have been denied their daily downloads of porn and warez and MP3s. None of this happened, of course. Somehow, the Internet survived. It survived against the dire warnings of White House alarm divas Richard Clarke and Howard Schmidt. It survived against the predictions of Gartner which recently conducted cyber war games but neglected to involve a blue team and neglected to emphasize this curious fact. Had there been people working against the attack squads, as there would be in the real world, their results might have been vastly different. As it turns out, in the real world there are 'blue teams' capable of shifting in difficult situations and putting up obstacles to the 'most sophisticated attack in the history of the Internet' (actually it was a monumentally crude attack, but let's not quibble). Airplanes were not crashed by hackers -- nor will they be so long as pilots continue to fly them rather than Web bots. The flood gates of dams were not opened and no villages were swept away. Chemical additives were not incorporated into foodstuffs in toxic quantities because there are humans working on the production lines. The vast torrents of spam and viruses continued circulating. All was right with the world. Now, admittedly there are better attacks against DNS than some boneheaded packet flood, like cache poisoning for example. But this has been done and no doubt the 'blue teams' have a pretty good idea how to deal with it. Then of course there are 0-day exploits that no one is quite sure how to defend against or recover from because we haven't seen them yet, but here again so long as the equipment is in the hands of normal, adaptive humans, it should get sorted in a reasonable time. And so what if DNS goes down for a while. So what if the Internet slows. What's the worst that can happen? A few million Net addicts will have to go out and get some exercise for a change. You'll put your eye out What this big, non-incident illustrates is the fact that people are capable of dealing with unexpected difficulties in spite of bureaucratic insistence to the contrary. The bureaucrats who devote their lives to interfering with ours tell us that we're weak and stupid and incapable of managing our affairs without their guidance and protection and improvement schemes. Of course this has more to do with their own neuroses and Messiah complexes than the incompetence of ordinary folk. A certain number of deranged people believe they're superior to the general run of mankind and feel uniquely qualified to wield authority and regulate the lives of others. Most of these tortured souls end up among the ranks of bureaucrats, politicians, teachers, televangelists, social workers and 'mental-health professionals'. The worst are the bureaucrats and politicians; they wield the greatest power, and exposure to this addictive intoxicant inevitably leads them to underestimate the rest of us to the greatest extent. So we hear the Messianic cries: the "electronic Pearl Harbor" of Richard Clarke; the deadly electronic attacks on "America's soft underbelly" predicted by former NIPC honcho Michael Vatis; and ex-Microserf Howard Schmidt's new slogan, "weapons of mass disruption" -- all signifying horrors about to boil up from the depths of the Internet and destroy our way of life. Real disruption Meanwhile, as Reg readers know, I live well within what, until recent days, has been the Beltway Sniper's line of sight here in our nation's capital. Two unemployed, ignorant losers humiliated and taunted the best minds of our local and federal law-enforcement bureaucracy for three weeks whilst making sport of innocent human beings going about their daily business. So for me it was particularly ironic to hear about cyber-terror and 'weapons of mass disruption' and kiddie attacks against DNS while at the same time having, almost daily, a fresh opportunity to contemplate the extraordinary fragility of the human body in competition with high-velocity ammunition. Unlike a kiddie packet flood, a rifle shot does tremendous and often irreparable damage to the bodies and lives of people. Consider the tiny .223 Remington. Weighing anywhere from 50 to 75 grains (or a mere one-eighth of an ounce) and traveling anywhere from 2800 to 3800 feet per second, it strikes with up to 1400 foot-pounds of kinetic energy.1 Because of its small diameter and diminutive weight, we might expect it to do only local damage along its trajectory; but the .223 unfortunately has a tendency to exhibit yaw during penetration and to break up, especially if it's a semi-jacketed round, which greatly increases its effects. Obviously as the bullet fishtails and breaks up, its forces and those of its fragments will be transferred to surrounding tissues, spreading the damage. Thus most of the sniper's victims died quickly; the few who survived have sustained devastating, perhaps permanently-crippling, internal injuries.2 The second thing our sniper did was change forever the lives of every person close to his victims. In three weeks, with thirteen shots, a pair of pathetic drifters caused, to hundreds of people, pain and loss and suffering that will never go away, while the Internet suffered the worst attack in its history and absolutely nothing came of it. I'd like to hear Clarke or Schmidt or one of their fellow cyber-alarmist bureaucrats explain publicly what a so-called cyber-terrorist can accomplish that even approaches this sort of damage. I'd like to see one of these superior creatures address the friends and families of the sniper's victims and explain to them the devastating horrors of Internet mischief and cyber-terrorism. ® 1Hollywood action-film directors have done much to exaggerate the significance of a bullet's stated kinetic energy. This is calculated merely by multiplying half the mass of the moving object by the velocity squared. Far more important to the person struck is the rate and manner of the bullet's deceleration inside them, and its trajectory and the trajectories of its fragments in relation to vital organs and major blood vessels, all of which depends in each instance upon hundreds of variables. Suffice it to say that people shot do not fly backwards ten feet through the air. Of course this looks way cool on film, especially in slow motion with squibs full of stage blood bursting explosively, and has therefore become an established idiom of fictional ballistics. The chief myth at play here is that 'stopping power' is a function of kinetic energy. In fact it's a function of rapid blood loss and consequent loss of consciousness, which in turn depends on optimal wound-channel volume and bullet fragmentation -- both of which tend to favour nicking a major blood vessel. 2There is also a theory of 'hydrostatic shock' claiming that people shot by high-velocity rounds, even when major organs and blood vessels are missed, often die from internal injuries because a deadly wave of fluid pressure bangs up their innards beyond repair. I personally think it's an exaggeration at best, but many believe it to be a real effect.
Thomas C Greene, 29 Oct 2002

Creepy MSN butterfly guy identified

In a recent article dealing with Microsoft's advertising crimes against New York City I described their new MSN-8 butterfly advert as bearing "the silhouette of a ghastly adult male with ludicrous antennae reminiscent of the 'Killer Bee' skits from Saturday Night Live, and creepy, superhero gloves, with colorful 'butterfly' wings." A number of Reg readers have argued that the figure most closely resembles a character named Arthur from a comic strip, an animated series and a live-action series called "The Tick". I must admit that the resemblance is uncanny: I might still argue that the MSN-8 creep's antennae match those of the famous SNL insects best, though overall it's clearly Arthur that Redmond is commemorating. ®
Thomas C Greene, 29 Oct 2002

Dell will swing PDAs to PocketPC, says Dataquest

Dell Computer Corp's entry into the PDA market could lead to a considerable market shakeup, according to a report from Gartner Dataquest, despite Dell's own limited short-term ambitions for the technology. Gartner Dataquest, a division of Stamford, Connecticut-based Gartner Inc, believes that Dell's avowedly low-cost approach to computing will put increased pressure on smaller players and help swing the PDA market towards Pocket PC-powered devices rather than the currently numerically dominant Palm OS. Dataquest's opinion was backed up by Michael Dell himself. The Dell CEO told a news conference in Tokyo yesterday that his company would be launching its first Pocket PC-based PDA "fairly soon, at least in the United States." However, Dell sees only limited near-term growth opportunities because of the small size of the market. But while Dell expects only limited opportunities in the PDA space, any growth it does achieve looks likely to come at the expense of smaller rivals, especially given the static nature of the PDA market. Dataquest reported a 0.9% year-on-year slide in worldwide PDA shipments in the third quarter of 2002. Most obviously at risk from Dell's belated entry into the market looks to be Handspring Inc, the Palm OS licensee whose market share fell from 13.5% to 3.8% in the period (albeit not including sales of its Treo 180 integrated phone and PDA device), dropping it to fifth place among the named vendors. According to Dataquest's analysis, Palm itself continued to dominate shipments, accounting for over 800,000 of the 2.6 million units shipped in the period, increasing its market share from 28.8% to 30.6%. The big winners were Palm OS licensee Sony Corp, which grew market share from 3.5% to 13.0% to take third place overall, and Pocket PC user Toshiba, which came from 0.3% a year ago to 5.5%, fourth in Dataquest's latest league table. Hewlett-Packard Co reaped the rewards of absorbing Compaq's iPaq range of Pocket PC devices, claiming a slim second place ahead of Sony, with a market share of 14.4%, up from 12.1% in 2001. The unnamed "others", which included big names such as Casio, NEC and Sharp have also seen their market share fall as the market consolidates, falling to 32.7% from 41.8% a year ago. © Computerwire.com. All rights reserved.
ComputerWire, 29 Oct 2002

Open Source is good for America – US military advised

A report commissioned by the US military concludes that open source and free software should play a greater part in the infrastructure of the world's remaining superpower. Mitre Corporation's 152-page study addresses the extent of software libre, or FOSS-licensed software use - FOSS being "Free and Open Source Software", an acronym uncomfortably evocative to this author of dental hygiene - in various branches of the military. It's all over the place already, conclude the authors, and there should be more of it. "In the long term removing FOSS would remove an important source of price and quality competition. Without the constant pressure of low-cost, high-quality FOSS product competing with the closed-source products, the closed-source vendors could more easily fall into a cycle in which their support costs balloon and costs are passed on to their locked-in customers." Why? "... to promote product diversity. FOSS applications tend to be much lower in cost than their proprietary equivalents, yet they often provide high levels of functionality with good user acceptance." That doesn't mean software libre should be compulsory. It works best, notes Mitre, when people find the software and not vice versa. It rejects making it mandatory and notes that when users were "force fitted" to use a free software product for ideological reasons- the gcc compiler features in an example cited - the result might not be satisfactory. The report recommends the DoD create a "safe list" of approved products, encourage interoperability with commercial software, and promote it all round as A Good Thing. There are a couple of interesting aspects to Mitre's conclusions. The report doesn't take a side on Microsoft's argument that a commercial model sustains long term development and better support. That argument has been articulated by open source advocates who have little common cause with Redmond, such as Larry McVoy, whose BitKeeper product is used to maintain the Linux kernel. But it does torpedo one of Microsoft's more emotive arguments: that the GPL is a toxic, capitalist-munching virus. "A common assumption about FOSS licenses such as GPL is that their transitive user rights means they cannot be used with non-FOSS (e.g., government or proprietary) software," notes Mitre. "However, this is generally not the case; such mixing can generally be done in various ways. For example, even GPL with its strong protection of transitive user rights provides a number of mechanisms to allow such mixing." Mitre then explains how "Microsoft provides a good example of an innovative use of one such mixing strategy in their Windows Services for Unix (SFU)6 product. This product uses proprietary software to build an initial bridge between Windows and UNIX operating systems, and then adds in GPL tools and utilities to extend greatly its overall emulation of UNIX. Users benefit from the extended functionality provided by the GPL components, while Microsoft benefits by avoiding the cost and time of re-developing the tools as proprietary software. " See. It's even good for Microsoft. ® Related Link Use of Free and Open Source Software in the US Department of Defense [1.4MB PDF]
Andrew Orlowski, 29 Oct 2002

Merseyside council suspends five in porn probe

Five staff in a council team dealing with young offenders have been suspended for alleged "Internet misuse". Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council is continuing to investigate the alleged misuse of its computer facilities. Alarm bells were tripped when routine checks uncovered illicit material, believed to be pornographic, circulating on the council's network. A council spokeswoman told Annanova: "Five staff have been suspended pending an inquiry into misuse of the internet. Internet use across the council is regularly monitored and this will reveal if the system is being misused. "The extent of misuse is still being determined," she added. ® Related Stories HP confirms 150 suspended in email porn probe Porn probe at Ford plant Employers put the squeeze on porn surfers
John Leyden, 29 Oct 2002

Kournikova virus author loses appeal

Jan de Wit, aka OnTheFly, infamous author of the Anna Kournikova worm, has lost his appeal against his sentence for creating and distributing the prolific worm. An appeals court in Leeuwarden yesterday upheld a 150 hours of community service order imposed by a Dutch district court last September. The 22-year old appealed the verdict, fearing that his "conviction could hamper his career", Dutch IT news service Webwerld reports. He now works in a computer shop. Theo Jansen, de Wit's lawyer, expressed disappointment at the court's decision. "I hoped that he would be acquitted. My client never had the intention to do any damage," said Jansen, according to Webwerld. "The prosecution showed a letter from the FBI saying that damage had been done. But the damage was not specified in any way." Funny that. The Kournikova virus, released in February last year, was one of the most prolific ever produced. It promised racy pictures of the Russian tennis pin-up but delivered only misery for businesses worldwide, placing a grave load on email systems as it spread. Days after its release, de Wit came forward to admit his role to the authorities. Dutch police charged de Wit with spreading data into a computer network, with the intention of causing damage. The charges carried a maximum sentence of four years in prison and a fine of 100,000 guilders ($41,300). At his trial last September, de Wit admitted creating the worm using a virus creation toolkit but told the court when he posted the virus to a newsgroup he did it "without thinking" and "without overseeing the consequences". He denied any intent to cause damage. The court didn't agree. As we reported at the time, a judge ruled that de Wit "was not a layman in the field of computer viruses. He works in a computer store and collected viruses - about 7,200, according to himself. The defendant must have been very aware of the consequences of his acts. The virus he spread was a hindrance, causing worry and annoyance among Internet users worldwide." The court confiscated de Wit's CD-ROM virus collection. To press for a lengthier sentence the FBI submitted evidence to the Dutch court, suggesting that $166,000 in damages was caused by the worm, based on reports of damage from 55 firms. However the court felt the FBI report didn't give enough details, and also felt that de Wit's position as a first-time offender who gave himself up was in his favour. A 150 hours of community service order was imposed and this is now likely to stand, after Jansen (de Wit's) lawyer said his client was unlikely to take the case any further. ® Related Stories Kournikova virus kiddie gets 150 hours community service Virus toolkits are s'kiddie menace Anna-bug author OnTheFly 'fesses up Anna Kournikova bug drops harmlessly onto the Net
John Leyden, 29 Oct 2002

Real opens source but keeps its crown jewels

RealNetworks Inc will today release the source code for an audio-video playback client into the developer community, and announce bargain-basement pricing for companies wishing to license the code on a commercial basis, writes Kevin Murphy.. The company will release the code of its Helix DNA Client, the underlying engine for its own commercial RealOne Player, under two licenses. One license is similar to open source agreements such as the General Public License, the other allows developers to create closed-source software for a maximum royalty of $0.25 per unit shipped. Source code for handling RTSP, RTP, RTCP and SDP streaming protocols will be available, as will source code for playing back MP3, H.263, NB-AMR and 3GPP (MPEG) codecs. More than 600 APIs will be made available for building playback clients and adding additional codecs, the company said. The Helix DNA Client stops short of fully opening RealNetworks' crown jewels, however. Support for its proprietary RealAudio and RealVideo codecs will be available only in object code, rather than source code. And both licenses have been specially written to ensure RealNetworks' patent rights are protected. Kevin Forman, general manager at RealNetworks, told ComputerWire the GPL-like RealNetworks Public Source License was created to avoid any "ambiguity" about what the company was opening. "We wanted to be really clear on what patent rights we were giving developers," he said. The draft RPSL lists six RealNetworks patents that are covered by the agreement, all of which appear to cover systems for efficiently handling streaming media receipt and playback on a client device. The RPSL also says that some software derived from the code "may require additional patent licenses". Other clauses of the RPSL call for the agreement to be terminated if the licensee makes a patent infringement claim against RealNetworks, even if it is a counter-claim in a suit filed by RealNetworks. The license is also revoked if the licensee makes a patent claim against another licensee over the code covered by the license. The RPSL does, however, have a GPL-like foundation. Any software developed from the open source code must be delivered back into the open source community. This is the 'infectious' open source not beloved by some commercial software developers. For those wanting to release commercial software, the Community Source License is available. Both licenses mandate that all clients produced with the Helix DNA code be compatible with each other. The RCSL allows free commercial distribution up to one million units, with a $0.10 royalty to RealNetworks for all units over that limit, without support for RealNetworks' codecs. The royalty is $0.25 per unit that supports these codecs, capped at $1m per year. The client code release will be followed up by code releases for the Helix DNA Server and Helix DNA Encoder later this year. The strategy is to provide a basic platform for streaming media that can be used by all device manufacturers that is not restricted by the commercial concerns of streaming media software developers. "Up to this point [manufacturers] have been limited to choosing between us and others like QuickTime or Windows Media, and to some extent limited by our engineering schedule," said Forman, adding that the company expects hundreds of varieties of access devices to use streaming media. "We couldn't enable all these devices ourselves." RealNetworks has set up a developer community site at www.helixcommunity.org. Forman said: "Developers will get direct access to our engineers, almost as if they were sitting in this building... the latency of the communication between engineering departments we want to reduce to zero." The ultimate aim of the Helix project is to grow RealNetworks' licensing revenue, which has stagnated over the last couple of years. The company reported last week that in the third quarter its subscriptions and services business was the growth driver, with software license revenue down to $15.5m versus $26.7m a year ago. While the company will release some source for its server later this year, it will likely be stripped down, like the client. RealNetworks says its RealOne Player plays, and that its Universal Server streams, Windows Media Audio and Video, but the DNA versions of these products do not have this support, for example. "Regardless of the file format, Helix Universal Server streams to these Helix DNA Clients... even if there's a plethora of clients our servers will stream to them," Forman said. The new licensing methodology, the company hopes, will ensure that virtually every access device shipped with streaming media support will be compatible with RealNetworks' streaming servers. At launch, the company will announce Helix DNA Client has been licensed by consumer electronics manufacturers including Acer, Hitachi, NEC, Nokia, Philips, STMicroelectronics and Texas Instruments. All these companies are licensing the software with RealAudio and RealVideo codec support included. © Computerwire.com. All rights reserved.
ComputerWire, 29 Oct 2002

Trustix clinches China Secure Linux deal

Secure Linux operating system and software provider Trustix AS has signed a strategic partnership deal with Chinese server manufacturer Langchao Group to bundle its Trustix Linux Solutions Software (TLS) suite on the company's Intel-based hardware. Based in Trondheim, Norway, and with offices in San Jose, California and Jakarta, Indonesia, Trustix is a fast emerging player in the Linux server software market. It has scored something of a coup with this deal with Langchau, which is the largest native server manufacturer in China with a 15% share of the market behind only US giants IBM Corp and Hewlett-Packard Co. The Trustix portfolio includes the Secure Linux operating system distribution, as well as firewall, web server, proxy server, LAN server, web server, and mail server software through the TLS suite. The company has worked with IBM to deploy TLS on its xSeries servers for convenience retailer 7-Eleven, and most recently to replace an existing Novell network for sports car vendor Ferrari © Computerwire.com. All rights reserved.
ComputerWire, 29 Oct 2002

IBM demos BladeCenter using future Power4 variant

With Sun Microsystems Inc talking more and more about the benefits of blade servers as it readies its own entry in this nascent product segment, IBM Corp is keep to keep the excitement building for its own BladeCenter servers, which were announced in September and which are expected to start shipping in early December, writes Timothy Prickett-Morgan. To that end, IBM has begun demonstrating a version of the BladeCenter machine supporting as-yet-unannounced blades based on a future derivative of the Power4 processor. Only a month ago, IBM executives were hedging on whether or not it would deliver a Power4-based blade for the BladeCenter machines, and the demonstration is not, say our sources, an indication that IBM actually will deliver a Power4 blade to the market any time soon. IBM wants to demonstrate that it can do it, if and when enough customers ask for these blades; such a product has to have a certain level of support for it to be worth IBM's while to certify the AIX software stack for running on the BladeCenter machines. Ironically, IBM hedged for support on another product - the "Project Monterey" 64-bit implementation of Unix for Itanium processors - that would have obviated the need for Power4-based blades had IBM actually shipped AIX for Itanium and set about to put Itanium processors in the BladeCenters. As it turns out, sticking with the future Power4 chips for AIX blades will probably be a much smarter move for the long run. The BladeCenter is a 7U form-factor chassis that can house up to 14 two-way server blades, yielding a total of 168 processors in a standard 42U rack. The chassis has an internal Gigabit Ethernet backplane that the blade plugs into, and also includes Ethernet switches and, in the future, will have Fibre Channel and InfiniBand switches as options. The BladeCenter H20, which plugs into the chassis vertically, is based on the ServerWorks Grand Champion-LE chipset and can have one or two "Prestonia" Pentium 4 Xeon processors, which are equipped with 512KB of integrated L2 cache memory and which run at either 2GHz or 2.2GHz. The HS20 blades supports from 256MB to 4GB of main memory. IBM will eventually offer support for the "Gallatin" Pentium 4 Xeon MP processors that are due next year from Intel as a follow-on to the "Foster" Xeon MP processors that began shipping this year. The Fosters have a relatively low clock speed compared to the Prestonias, and do not support hyperthreading either, which helps boost performance, so the Fosters are not exactly popular with server makers at this point. IBM will also eventually deliver BladeCenter blades that are based on Intel's Itanium 2 processors - either the 1GHz "McKinley" chips or the future 1.3GHz "Madison" follow-ons, whichever ones are current when IBM is ready to ship. IBM has demonstrated the two-way Power4-based blades running Linux, and the blades are expected to support AIX as well. IBM has not said exactly what Power4 chip it is using in the blades. A two-way blade could be based on a single dual-core Power4-II chip, perhaps clocked down to 1GHz so it doesn't overheat. This chip has a lot of connectivity for SMP configurations on the chip, however, and that is unnecessary for any entry server, blade or otherwise. Or, IBM could employ the PowerPC 970 chip that it was showing off a few weeks ago. The PowerPC 970 is a derivative of the Power4 that is aimed at desktop and entry servers. It clocks higher and runs cooler than current Power4 chips, and it is widely expected to be used in Apple Macs and in entry pSeries servers supporting Linux and AIX operating systems. IBM could have another derivative of the Power4 chip in the works, too, that we have not yet heard of. No matter what processor IBM uses in the Power blades for the BladeCenter, the Power blades will plug into the same chassis alongside its Intel-based blades, and all of them will be manageable from the same console. IBM sources say that the company does not plan to ship them in 2002, and the expectation is for IBM to ship them sometime in 2003. That IBM's claim that demand is not yet there for a Power4-based blade is certainly true, but it is also convenient for IBM if it is indeed waiting for the PowerPC 970 to get into volume production, which isn't expected until around mid-2003. If IBM is using this chip in future blades, it very likely cannot get them out the door any faster than that, which means that IBM has to manage expectations and try to stoke down demand until it can ship the product. In the meantime, SPs and customers wanting BladeCenter machines can start with their Linux and Windows applications and tell IBM to get in gear with Power4 blades for AIX. If IBM really wanted to be crafty, it would create an UltraSparc-III blade and maybe a PA-RISC blade for the BladeCenter and get into some real trouble. Customers with vast numbers of incompatible servers running myriad flavors of Windows, Unix, and Linux would probably love such a network consolidation box. To be sure, IBM could simply put out support for Solaris 8 on the current Xeon blades and support HP-UX on Itanium blades. A blade server is a network in a box, and none of the blade vendors seems to really get what that means. Maybe it is time for some enterprising upstart to take the lead and create a line of blade servers that can support all the popular operating systems on their native processors. timpm@computerwire.com © Computerwire.com. All rights reserved.
ComputerWire, 29 Oct 2002

Brocade and Emulex go unified

The Register's new Enterprise Storage Channel Brocade (www.brocade.com) has stepped up its plans to dominate the Fibre Channel market by agreeing with Emulex (www.emulex.com) to integrate the latter's Fibre Channel host bus adapters (HBAs) into Brocade's intelligent switched SAN fabric, via free firmware upgrades to be available early next year. The two companies say that unifying the intelligence of the switches and HBAs will make SAN management easier, as well as improving SAN security. "This is about taking existing SAN elements and unlocking their intelligence from edge to edge," says Brocade CEO Greg Reyes. He adds that it simplifies storage management and also extends the SAN security model to the HBAs, allowing them to use strong authentication and digital certificates when logging onto the SAN fabric. The deal also ties in with Brocade's relationship with Hewlett Packard, as it allows Brocade switches and Emulex HBAs to be managed via HP OpenView, without the need for a software agent on each server. Emulex president and COO Kirk Roller says that the technology developed by Brocade and Emulex has been offered for ratification as a standard called the Fabric Device Management Interface (FDMI). This will allow any HBA to be managed as part of the SAN fabric, as long as it complies with the FDMI specifications. There have been suggestions that Brocade might acquire Emulex in order to become an end-to-end supplier, but it is not clear that this would bring any great advantages or synergy. For now, Brocade's aim seems to be to put pressure on competitors such as QLogic, which sells both switches and HBAs, while at the same time following Emulex into the midrange and departmental SAN market. Mark Woithe, business alliance director at HBA developer JNI, is sceptical. "Emulex is in the Windows server space and Brocade wants to be there, but it needs a lower cost SilkWorm switch to sell into that second tier market," he says. Brocade has announced the SilkWorm 3900, but this is a 32-port enterprise fabric switch, at the same per-port price as its 16-port enterprise models. "The right solution for the departmental market might be the Vixel approach of embedding a switch chip inside the storage box, so there's no separate switch," adds Woithe.
Bryan Betts, 29 Oct 2002

SAN to SCSI converter targets AS/400

The Register's new Enterprise Storage Channel Storage routers which were developed to re-use old SCSI devices within SANs are being flipped around to allow otherwise incompatible legacy systems such as IBM's AS/400 to join SAN-based storage consolidation projects. Crossroads Systems (www.crossroads.com) says that its ServerAttach box connects to legacy servers via SCSI on one side, and to Fibre Channel on the other. It can then be configured via a Web browser to make a Fibre Channel disk array look like a SCSI hard disk, say. Bob Griswold, Crossroads' chief technologist, says that the technology was originally invented to connect devices such as SCSI tape libraries to Fibre Channel. "We realised that doing the reverse was also attractive, especially for the orphan server market," he says. "Lots of companies have older AS/400, RS/6000 and HP 9000 servers running mature but critical applications, and no easy way to bring those into the SAN. We can extend the working life of those servers." He adds that while the application could be moved to a new server instead, the ServerAttach route should be both simpler and cheaper, at around $7000 to $8000 per SCSI port. Crossroads will offer two ServerAttach versions: the SA20 with two SCSI ports and one Fibre Channel, and the SA40 with four SCSI and two Fibre Channel ports. Griswold admits though that this method has its limitations. For example, some applications may not be able to cope with a shared SAN resource such as a tape library.
Bryan Betts, 29 Oct 2002
server room

You're never alone with a clone

The Register's new Enterprise Storage Channel If you think that bit-copying hard disks is only for cloning drives or PCs, then PowerQuest (www.powerquest.com) wants you to think again. It reckons there is a lot going for it in the backup market as well, where a snapshot disk image can be used to quickly restore a complete server or just selected files. The company's CTO and storage products veep Don Kleinschnitz describes its V2i (virtual volume imaging) Protector software as "an innovative use of mature technology," capable of imaging 2GB per minute into a compressed file which can be saved to another drive on the same server or to a NAS box out on the network. The 'mature technology' he refers to is PowerQuest's DriveImage, which is widely used for tasks such as creating and copying standard software installations for corporate PCs. Kleinschnitz adds that the advantage of imaging is that it copies everything, including hidden system files, configuration settings and so on, where file-based backup programs only copy what you tell them to. "The bandwidth is the same however you backup," he says. "The difference is your ability to reconstruct and restore." PowerQuest's recent acquisition of software developer Cognet will allow it to build policy-based automation into V2i Protector, plus the ability to do incremental backups and roll-backs, deploy programs and analyse software usage. "We are exclusively for Windows now," Kleinschnitz adds, "but we plan to add Linux clients next year, for as many flavours as we can."
Bryan Betts, 29 Oct 2002

DoCoMo gets defaced

Japanese mobile operator NTT DoCoMo shut down part of its Web site last week after an attack by Internet vandals. DoCoMo was forced into action after pages on the Web site which allowed business customers to contact the mobile operator were defaced. WirelessWeek reports that the cracker left his name along with the phrase "never die" on the defaced portion of the site. "To avoid any confusion among our customers, we closed down the page, and we don't know yet when we'll reopen it," spokesman Hiroto Nakagawa told Bloomberg. DoCoMo pledged to investigate whether unauthorised access was gained to any other parts of the site. This audit will also look at how it can beef up its security systems to prevent further attacks, DoCoMo promised. It's getting to the point where you're nobody in the IT sector unless you've been hacked. In recent months the sites of Microsoft (several times), Intel and (let's not forget) the RIAA were all spray painted with graffiti by members of the digital underground. ® Related Stories Want to know how RIAA.org was hacked? MS hacked once, twice, three, FOUR times Intel hacker talks to The Reg
John Leyden, 29 Oct 2002

SuSE Linux makes its pitch for the Windows desktop

SuSE is pitching for the mainstream office client market with the announcement today of SuSE Linux Desktop, which it ominously describes as the "first element of SuSE's product campaign for the utilization of Linux on workstations." The product, which will ship from January, is aimed squarely at existing Windows users, companies and individuals with no previous Linux experience. The English announcement (spoilsports) skips additional information on the rather more dangerous-sounding SuSE Enterprise Desktop, which the German language release from LinuxWorld Frankfurt today tells us will be out in Q1 2003, and will be optimised for corporate networks. This one rams the message home by adding a couple of prestige design wins, Debeka and Stuttgart Life, but as these are on SuSE's home turf, we shouldn't get too excited. The key additional elements to SuSE Linux Desktop are CodeWeavers Crossover Office and Acronis OS Selector. CodeWeavers allows users to install and run Microsoft Office 97 and 2000, and Lotus Notes, on Linux. It's been available separately for a while, but by bundling it SuSE is making a particularly aggressive move. CodeWeavers does not make any wild 'it's magic' type claims for what its product can do, and you can get the short list of supported apps here. Acronis OS Selector is one of those disk management products that pitches itself at the weak-willed and foolish by saying it "allows you to install up to 100 and even more operating systems (OSs) on one computer, boot an OS from any partition on any hard disk, have several operating system on the same partition." Trust us, this road leads to madness very quickly - we're sure it's very good, but stick to two, max. From the point of view of SuSE Linux Desktop it works with YasT2 to get the installer past that tricky stage of getting Linux onto a Windows machine without destroying everything, and it's significant that SuSE is going for a commercial disk/boot manager here. YaST itself is said by SuSE to be a be able to do the necessary re-arrangement of Win9x partitions, so presumably Acronis is there to handle XP and 2000. More properly though the differentiation should be between FAT32 and NTFS partitions, YaST being able to understand the former but not the latter. If you have a choice about it, we suggest you'll be a lot happier and more interoperable if you stick to FAT32 rather than installing XP or 2k on NTFS. Some major manufacturers we've noticed actually ship machines configured like this, but don't tell Microsoft. SuSE Linux Desktop will be priced at $129, or €129 per station. Euro stopouts will apparently have to make up their own prices. No data on Enterprise Desktop pricing as yet, but SuSE Deutschland seems to think customers might also be interested in a 25 client SuSE Linmux Office Server for €299. ®
John Lettice, 29 Oct 2002