Japan Opens Up to Open Standards

Japan is opening itself up to open standards, and becoming the first Asian country to do so. The island nation has instituted a policy wherein its government ministries and agencies will give preference to vendors whose products adhere to internationally recognized and accepted open standards like the Open Document Format (ODF). Software meeting this standard is designed to interoperate more easily with other software.

Officials at the ODF Alliance, the group that manages and monitors the ODF standard, hope the policy guidelines can be helpful for other companies, as well. If you want to check them out yourself, go to the Web site for Japan's Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry here.

Clearly, government organizations are making openness and interoperability a priority. For instance, after a long and contentious struggle that led to the departure of two of the state's CIOs, Massachusetts just approved Microsoft's new XML-based document file formats as meeting its own open standard mandates. When you have to make information available to the masses, the more open the better.

What's your take on open standards like ODF? Should private companies take as strong a stance as government? Open up to me at llow@redmondmag.com.

Oracle Rolls Out 11g
Today is the day. After a nine-month beta cycle and a four-year wait since the last upgrade, Oracle launched the 11g version of its flagship database earlier this morning. The new version includes data compression, "flashback" data recovery technology and online application upgrades.

The new automation features in 11g include a SQL tuning advisor that automatically tunes SQL statements. You can tune all memory by setting a single parameter. It also has a new feature called Automatic Storage Management (ASM), which lets multiple databases share a single storage pool for optimal load balancing.

Industry watcher IDC recently labeled Oracle as the No. 1 relational database, with a hefty 44.4 percent market share. It has posted greater revenue than the next three vendors combined.

Is your company an Oracle shop? If so, what do you think of the new features and do you plan to upgrade? Let me know at llow@redmondmag.com.

Intel Buys Into VMware
Intel has added to its holdings. The company just purchased a big chunk of virtualization powerhouse VMware from EMC. The company is selling off a $218.5 million stake in VMware to the chipmaker.

In 2004, EMC purchased VMware for $625 million, and it quickly became EMC's fastest growing business unit. With the acquisition, Intel now controls 2.5 percent of VMware and gets a seat on the board. This move could be part of Intel's strategy to build virtualization into its chipsets.

In other EMC news, the company also just announced an alliance with Microsoft and Cisco Systems to develop secure storage and information sharing among government agencies.

How do you see Intel's and VMware's technology fitting in together? Let me know at llow@redmondmag.com.

Mailbag: Figuring Out Live
In the wake of Microsoft's Live reorg, Doug asked readers on Monday if they have any idea what the heck Live is all about. Here are some
of your ideas:

What is Microsoft Live? Elementary, my dear sir: ALL of Microsoft's applications and services delivered from the Web or an enterprise server, hosted or in-house. Word, SQL or whatever. It replaces or will replace the stand-alone workstation as an application platform, co-ops the Linux threat since it will run just as well on Linux, and eliminate the OS as a marketable product. Of course, this will make Microsoft stock prices go through many years of double-digit growth when analysts realize that this "stealth" approach is Ray Ozzie's dream and his road to ultimate power!

We used to call it Web services, but the unified infrastructure model that Ray is creating is actually the follow-on product to Longhorn, aka Windows Server 2008.

Where did I get this information? I made it up, but many years from now, when I am proven right, a Google search will reveal my name as the first to see and reveal Ray Ozzie's master plan.
-John

I've got a couple of ideas about why Live is having trouble generating as much excitement as Microsoft would like. The first, maybe more cynical, thought is that Live is a catch-all term generated by the Marketing Department, devoid of any meaning except what they pour into it. It's impossible to articulate what it's about because there is no "it" -- it's just a word, without underlying concepts, architecture or cohesiveness.

The other, more generous, idea is that Microsoft is having trouble articulating what Live is because it truly is something new. Do you remember when Lotus Notes came on the scene? There was something like this at the time -- what in the world is Notes about, anyway? Microsoft .NET had the same problem initially; the explanation of .NET was slow in coming because it was easier to show it than to explain it.

Perhaps the best way to view Live is in this second way. I wonder if the people at Microsoft who really get Live are having too much fun setting it up and getting it to work to take the time to actually describe what they're doing to those not in on the secret.

I suppose the reality of the situation could be some mixture of both these things, but I think that as Microsoft moves more into the real-time, online world, we'll begin to see what's really behind Live. I expect it will be quite a change from the Windows-centric desktop world we've been experiencing for all this time.
-Dennis

What do you think? Leave a comment below or send an e-mail to llow@redmondmag.com.

About the Author

Lafe Low is the editorial liaison for ECG Events.

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