Unlocking the Grid
In our upcoming March issue of Redmond
magazine, Sun CEO Scott McNealy
talks about the glory of grid computing. Earlier this month, Sun
expanded its grid
, which is now up to 10,000 processors, and is becoming
increasingly commercialized. Customers can now rent time for $1 per hour per
CPU and $1 a month for each gigabyte of storage.
Right now the grid is primarily aimed at compute-intensive tasks, but ultimately
McNealy wants the average Joe to use the grid for run-of-the-mill productivity
apps. To my mind, being tethered to a grid over a network just to pound out
an article doesn't make much sense, but then again, I don't run an $11 billion
Meanwhile, Sun has now released Solaris
10 open source. I'm dying to see if free Solaris 10 can take a bite out
of Linux or Windows Server.
Exchange Grid Style?
Microsoft isn't afraid of a little grid action either. The software giant recently
upgraded its Hosted
Messaging and Collaboration Service, which is based on Exchange and aimed
at small to medium- size businesses. The service now includes SharePoint and
Office Live Communications 2005.
Exchange Is Living in the Past, Man
Microsoft has long planned to replace the Jet Exchange data store with the heartier
data store from SQL Server. That ain't gonna happen anytime soon, as Exchange
12, due out in 2006 or 2007, will stick with good old Jet. Microsoft says
the move would be too disruptive for users, and so Jet will live on. My guess
is that the same kinks that plagued Longhorn's WinFS unified store are in play
here with Exchange -- only worse.
I doubt IT will mind -- that is if security, support for consolidation and
stability are all improved, but the goal of reshaping the core of Microsoft's
server OSes and applications has taken a major step back.
Spy vs. Spyware (and a Little Sybari)
For years Microsoft let third parties patch holes in its software, whether it
be anti-spam, anti-virus, anti-hacker or anti-spyware. In fact, every time Redmond
tried to add new protective features, critics started railing about bundling
and antitrust violations. To me that's silly, a little like criticizing Ford
for bundling seatbelts, air bags, door locks and horns! (Of course, driving
a Bronco feels a lot safer than operating most of the Windows boxes I've owned.)
Now with a few acquisitions under its belt, Microsoft seems poised to roll
out new anti-virus and anti-spyware tools, much the way it released the Intelligent
Message Filter to block spam. In fact, some of these tools are already in beta.
To beef up these efforts, Microsoft
is buying Sybari, whose software fights off worms, viruses and spam, and
offers content filtering -- all aimed at collaboration and messaging software.
So what does this mean for third parties? The news is good and bad. Microsoft
is clearly late to the game -- its internally built technology was lagging worse
than Rosie O'Donnell at the Boston Marathon.
But by buying state-of-the-art tools, Microsoft puts pressure on third parties
to improve their wares. My guess is that the best third parties will include
anti-this and anti-that as part of larger suites that offer new features and
better ways to manage the applications IT is trying to protect. The game has
Bill G. vs. George W.
In 2001 President George W. Bush gave back $38 billion in tax relief, in a somewhat
futile attempt to boost our sagging economy. Late last year Bill Gates gave
shareholders $32.6 billion, a move that actually
made a marked improvement to the economy. Personal income last December
rose 4.7 percent -- and would have only gone up 0.6 percent without the Redmond
windfall. Maybe Bill should take over our nation's economic policy -- after
all, Microsoft somehow always seems to run a healthy surplus!
Desktop Linux Dreams Dashed?
IBM has never gotten over the fact that it lost the desktop OS (and apps) war
to Microsoft. It should be embarrassed: A company 10 times smaller spanked it
repeatedly. In another vain attempt at vengeance, IBM chief Sam Palmisano vowed
to move his firm's desktops to Linux by the end of this year. Since then, Big
Blue has backed down a bit and is far short of a total open source migration.
However, there are thousands of Linux desktop currently in place, and more are
on the way at an undisclosed pace.
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I'm not surprised at the slowdown really, as Linux desktop environments make
even Windows seem simple to operate. In fact, I'm writing this column on a 10-year-old
Compaq Armada that is still more stable and easier to use than the latest Linux
desktop, I'd wager. (Of course, I'm working on the old Compaq because my Dell
XP laptop up and died, and still doesn't feel well after a full motherboard
and CPU transplant.)
But moves such as IBM's may work wonders in beefing up and simplifying Linux
desktops. This is great news for Windows shops. A true alternative puts the
pressure on Redmond to boost quality, and can put some real meat behind your
negotiating position. Now if they can only make a bulletproof version of Linux
for laptops -- at this point I'll try anything.
I'm Not Fired, I Quit
Microsoft employee Verna Felton turned
the tables on "The Donald" by walking off "The Apprentice"
earlier this month. Felton claimed she was exhausted, while Trump grumbled that
she "couldn't hack it."
Interesting. Apparently Felton had no problem doing real work in the Redmond
pressure cooker laboring under "The Bill," but for some reason couldn't
handle doing stupid, made-up TV stunts with a bunch of camera-hogging, obnoxious
Doug Barney is editor in chief of Redmond magazine and the VP, editorial director of Redmond Media Group.