But Wait, There's More
Congressman Introduces Bill That Could Curb Offshoring
The battle lines are being drawn between corporations and their workers, and it is now going to run right through the Congress. Last week, Representative Bernie Sanders, an independent from Vermont, introduced a bill called the Defending American Jobs Act of 2004, which will prevent companies from getting any federal assistance--including grants, loans, subsidies, tax breaks, or guarantees--if their layoffs in the United States are deeper than those overseas. The bill would also start keeping a strict accounting of job rolls by corporations in the United States, assessing which ones are hiring, firing, and offshoring. The proposed law would also require companies that receive such government funds--and just about every major corporation in the country does get some form of corporate welfare so it can remain competitive in overseas markets--to provide statistics about pay rates for workers at home and abroad. There are so many ways that big corporations benefit from government largesse that it is hard to quantify the benefits they get from government, but it is sufficient to guess that not getting money from Uncle Sam would seriously affect their abilities to show profits.
"Companies should not be asking for U.S. government handouts if they want to secretly throw American workers out on the street while they are expanding employment overseas," Sanders said in introducing the bill. "The American people have a right to know when American companies are exporting our jobs overseas. And, the American people also have a right not to give corporate welfare to those companies that are leaving the United States for India, China, or Mexico." But Sanders, who tends to be one of the more outspoken members of the House, didn't stop there in upbraiding corporations for their short-sighted behavior. "In my view, it is an insult to the middle class of this country, that American taxpayer dollars are being used to provide loans, loan guarantees, grants, tax breaks and subsidies to huge and profitable corporations who then say to the American people: 'Thanks for the welfare, chumps. But we're closing you're your plant and taking your job to China.' " Some 50 legislators in the House have backed the bill.
Several weeks ago, Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle, of South Dakota, introduced the "Jobs for America" bill, which would force public companies to disclose how many jobs they are sending overseas, where they are going, and why they are being sent overseas. The proposed Senate law would require any company that lays off 15 or more workers to send those jobs overseas to give three months' notice to those employees and to send reports to the Department of Labor, so it can monitor the effects of offshoring.
SEC Extends Dates for Sarbanes-Oxley Compliance
If you are busting your hump to revise your computing systems to get compliant with the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, which is bringing more stringent accounting and reporting of public companies to bear in the wake of myriad accounting scandals, you just got a little more time. The Securities and Exchange Commission, which is implementing the law, originally required that any company with a market capitalization of $75 million or higher (which it deems an accelerated filer of corporate financial reports) had to be compliant with Sarbanes-Oxley by June 15. This date has been extended to November 15. Smaller companies originally had to be compliant by April 15, but now have been given until July 15.
Gateway Chases Unix-to-Linux Migration Biz
In December 2003, PC and server maker Gateway announced that it would bundle SuSE's implementation of the open source Linux operating system on its servers in addition to supporting Microsoft's Windows platform on the X86 machines. Having gotten its feet wet for a few months, now Gateway is going to try to go after the vast installed base of RISC/Unix iron with a Lintel solution.
Last December, Gateway said it would start bundling SuSE Enterprise Linux 8 on its model 955 and 975 two-way Xeon DP servers and model 995 four-way Xeon MP rack-mounted servers. Linux will also be available on preconfigured model 960 two-way Xeon DP and four-way model 980 Xeon MP tower servers. SuSE Linux Standard Server 8 will be available on smaller machines in the product line as well as these machines. Gateway had been bundling the entry Red Hat 9.0 on some of its servers, but Red Hat killed that product line in favor of its enterprise Linux Enterprise 3.0 line, which is based on the beefed-up Linux Advanced Server implementation of the Linux 2.4 kernel. This was good for Red Hat, but bad for people who did not want to spend a lot on Linux.
Microsoft is also in the process of sunsetting Windows NT, which has a huge installed base, and just about every Unix shop is looking around to see if it can save money moving application to Lintel iron.
These changes in the market are why Gateway has announced an OS migration service, the first in a set of professional services that the company is going to roll out to chase sales and profits in 2004. Gateway says that it has more than 5,000 operating system migration experts on tap in the States to do these migrations, and presumably some of these are coming through partnerships.
Under the SuSE Linux Migration offering, Gateway will assist companies with NetWare, Windows NT, OS/2, or Unix migration to either Linux Standard Server 8 or Linux Enterprise 8, depending on the needs of the applications. Gateway is not just supplying the iron and a license, but actually migrating user accounts, print and file serving, and TCP/IP infrastructure from one box to the other. The company is keen on doing server consolidation as part of the package, too, and migrate end user applications and data.
Under the Windows Server Migration, Gateway will move servers running NetWare, Windows NT, OS/2, or Unix to either Windows 2000 or Windows 2003. The company is also offering services to migrate Windows 9X, Windows NT, and OS/2 workstations to Windows XP machines, and is also offering migration services from GroupWise, Notes/Domino, and early versions of Exchange (5.5 and earlier) to Exchange 2000 or Exchange 2003.
Dell to Push VMware ESX Server on X86 Servers
by Timothy Prickett Morgan
If you don't own your own operating system stack and you don't own your own hardware architecture, you have to partner to bring all of your technologies to market. This is something that Dell is a master of, and it is one of the few companies that has minimized research and development costs while at the same time profiting off of industry standard hardware and software. That's why Dell's announcement that it would be going to the VMware unit of EMC for its server virtualization software is not a surprise. Dell has neither the time, money, nor inclination to invent its own virtual machine partitioning.
What the company does want to do, however, is co-opt the virtualization that is all the rage now in the IT market and graft it onto its scale-out, clustered server strategy. To that end, Dell and VMware announced yesterday that Dell would be deploying the ESX Server virtualization software on its two-way and four-way servers as part of an alliance between Dell and EMC. These two companies have already forged a big partnership for entry and midrange storage arrays, which are designed by EMC, made by Dell, and sold by both parties. Once EMC bought VMware, a tighter relationship between the two was almost inevitable. However, because VMware has to keep its partnerships with Hewlett-Packard, IBM, and other platform providers alive and thriving if it is to not get sidelined by Microsoft as that company readies its own server virtualization software, called Virtual Server 2004, for market, EMC has to be careful that its relationship with Dell does not alienate the other X86 platform providers in the market.
Pete Morowski, vice president of software development at Dell, said yesterday that the company would be ESX Server and related programs on preconfigured and pretested systems to try to speed up their adoption into the marketplace.
Specifically, Dell will put VMware's ESX Server 2.0.1 on its PowerEdge 6650 servers, which have up to four of Intel's "Gallatin" Pentium 4 Xeon MP processors and up to 32 GB of main memory. ESX Server provides an abstraction layer that allows up to eight virtual machines per processor and up to 80 virtual machines per server (obviously with eight-way machines that Dell does not sell, but IBM and HP do) to be put onto a server. These virtual machines are isolated and can support Windows, Linux, NetWare, and other operating systems. As part of the preconfigured setup, Dell and EMC are throwing in their CX300 and CX500 midrange disk arrays, a two-way PowerEdge 1750 that runs the VMware VirtualCenter Management Server. The setup also includes the VMotion feature that VMware announced last year, which allows applications running inside virtual machines on one physical server to be moved on-the-fly to a completely different physical server as they are running. This is made possible by using a SAN storage architecture, which is implemented by the CX series arrays, on the storage side and by a relatively high-speed interconnect linking servers to each other.
As part of this deal, Dell and VMware will support any configuration that customers require that are also in the Dell catalog, such as two-way machines running as the primary node in a cluster of machines, but companies that have these machines are probably more suited to the GSX Server virtualization technology, which allows multiple guest operating systems to be hosted inside a single instance of either Windows or Linux. ESX Server is more costly, at $3,750 for a two-way machine, than GSX Server, which costs $2,500 for a two-way machine. Dell says that a PowerEdge 6650 with two Xeon MPs, base main memory and disks, and ESX Server enabled for two processors will cost $30,579. Dell is going to be the level one service and support contact for this bundle, and the two are working on other bundles.
Dell did a few benchmarks to show how ESX Server and VMotion performed. In one test, it took two four-way PowerEdge 6650s each using 2.8 GHz Xeon MPs, configured with 4 GB of main memory, three Gigabit Ethernet NICs, and a Fibre Channel SAN array with 38 73 GB 10K RPM disk drivers and then moved a running SQL Server database processing 100 orders per second from one machine to the other using VMotion. Specifically, VMotion knew it was going to move the workload, reached out across the network and created a new virtual machine on the secondary server, set up the complete state of the Windows-SQL Server stack on that new partition, and moved it all over in 48 seconds. Because of the clever way VMotion works, end users only saw a few seconds blip as the SQL Server app was moved to the second machine.
In a second test, Dell showed that two four-way PowerEdge 6650s configured with 16 GB of main memory and running a SQL Server workload could handle 31,665 operations per minute at a cost of $92,000 compared to a competitor's eight-way box using the same 2.8 GHz Xeon MPs and 32GB of main memory, which only handled 28,984 operations per minute and cost $107,000. While this is 27 percent better price/performance, only Oracle and IBM have thus far been able to mask the complexities of clustered databases with their respective Oracle9i RAC and DB2 8.1 databases. Clustering SQL Server is not transparent, and the Dell comparison did not take this complexity into account. It would be more interesting to see how Oracle9i RAC or DB2 8.1, which are cluster-friendly, would perform in the same comparison. And while Dell's tests focused on the Windows platform, there is no reason to believe that similar benefits would not be possible with clustered Linux servers running Oracle or DB2, and when it becomes available, cluster-ready MySQL.
When pressed about Dell's plans to support Microsoft's future Virtual Server 2004, Morowski gave the predictable answer that Dell would evaluate what to do with that product when Microsoft started shipping it and as customer demands dictated. Given the vast installed base of Windows software, Microsoft's desire to see its own software used by its installed base, and Dell's closeness with Microsoft, it seems reasonable that Dell will push Virtual Server 2004, too. But Microsoft's product does not have anything like VMotion or Virtual SMP (which allows a VM to span two processors), and that will limit its appeal in the data center.
AMD Drops Voltage to Create Low-Power Opteron HE, EE
by Timothy Prickett Morgan
A few weeks ago, when Intel was talking about its 64-bit extensions to its Pentium 4 Xeon processors at Intel Developer Forum, rival Advanced Micro Devices tried to steal a little thunder from Intel by launching its low-power 64-bit Opteron HE and EE processors, which burn a lot less electricity and crank out a lot less heat than normal Opterons delivering the same performance. At the time, we were not able to find out how AMD did this. Now we know.
As it turns out, according to Brent Kirby, AMD's product manager for its server and workstations group, the trick that AMD is using to create low-power Opterons is to drop the voltage. AMD has not cut the cache memory on the Opteron down from 1MB, nor has it moved from a 130 nanometer process to a 90 nanometer process to lower the power consumption and heat dissipation. You can't just drop the voltage on any old Opteron to accomplish this, says Kirby. AMD has to sort through the Opteron bins to find those Opterons that can run at the same rated clock speed as the regular Opterons, which range from 1.4GHz to 2.2GHz currently, but can do so at substantially lower voltage. Only a small percentage of them can do this, and the further the voltage drops, the fewer chips that can do this. Hence, AMD is charging a premium for those Opterons that offer the lowest power consumption. It's just a supply-demand curve.
Lower voltage means lower power consumption (since power is volts times amps), and that means lower heat. The regular Opterons crank out 89 watts running at 2 GHz at 1.5 volts, but finding an Opteron that can run at only 1.3 volts--seemingly a small change of only 13 percent in voltage--lowers the maximum heat dissipation to 50 watts, a drop of 44 percent. These are the Opteron HEs. AMD has found that it can drop the voltage on a number of Opterons to as low as 1.15 volts and still run them at normal clock speeds, dissipating only 30 watts when running at 2 GHz. That's a 23 percent drop in voltage for a 66 percent decrease in power consumption and heat dissipation, and these are the Opteron EEs.
All of the Opteron, Opteron HE, and Opteron EE processors have the same 940-pin design, which means that they can be used interchangeably in the same motherboards. AMD is charging the same amount of money for a 1.4 GHz/30 watt Opteron EE as it charges for a 2 GHz/55 watt Opteron HE as it is charging for a 2.2 GHz/89 watt Opteron. That's $733 for a uniprocessor version (100 series), $851 for a two-way capable Opteron (200 series), and $1,514 for a four-way version (800 series).
PartnerWorld 2004: Sam Plays It Again
by Dan Burger
You could say it was back by popular demand. After all, IBM has been promoting the on-demand concept for more than two years, and now it wants to make money from it, just as it did with e-business. Without a doubt, IBM's on-demand computing strategy was center stage at the annual conglomeration of business partners that convened in Las Vegas last week, where the safe bet was following Big Blue's advice: Get on board with on-demand computing and open standards.
The "on demand" terminology is nothing new to business partners or anyone who follows IBM, even from a distance. The IT industry giant has been characteristically vocal on this the topic for close to three years. Now that the door to a better economy seems to be creaking slowly open, IBM doesn't want any of its faithful partners forgetting the message or going forth confused about the plan.
Frankly, the on-demand strategy has been a little fuzzy to many people. IBM Chairman and CEO Sam Palmisano admitted as much in a speech that opened PartnerWorld 2004. Despite its high ranking on IBM's "to do" list, most people know "on demand" only as it relates to hardware and processing power: If you need more juice, it's only a phone call away. Palmisano (along with everyone else who collects a paycheck with IBM's name on it) is now on a mission to clarify, as well as expand, the understanding of the on-demand concept to a variety of processes, techniques, and schemes.
"On-demand computing isn't one thing; it's a combination of approaches to address what IBM sees as a fundamental change in how the IT industry operates," Palmisano told his PartnerWorld audience, which was estimated at more than 5,000 resellers, independent software vendors, integrators and consultants. "The client is forcing us to focus on solutions," Palmisano said. He spoke disparagingly of a recent era when IT companies threw technologies at customers, and he criticized the best-of-breed approach to building an IT infrastructure. (Any comparisons I might make at this point about politicians saying that government has to be responsive to the people would probably not fall on deaf ears. But government does need to be more responsive, and IT companies cannot just dump new technologies into data centers and walk away any more.)
In addition to the on-demand message, Palmisano tied in several other important themes during his address. Moving the customer base in the direction of open source solutions remains a constant theme. As expected, Palmisano chided IT vendors for their disjointed efforts at accepting of open standards. There was also the unmistakable and increasing interest in the small and midsized businesses market, a highly competitive battleground where IBM is undoubtedly pouring resources into such strategies as Linux and server consolidation. Both are important to the on-demand approach to winning more business.
IBM sees resellers and distributors playing critical roles in the on-demand operating environments customers require. The selling skills and industry knowledge of consultants and integrators need to be on demand in order to win customers. On demand is also used to describe the independent software vendors' industry specific solutions. For its part, IBM is rolling out product, training, marketing support, and sales incentives.
"You have to commit to our point of view. You have to commit to open standards. If you do that, we will invest with you, to help you become more successful," Palmisano said. The channel may be generating more of IBM's sales, but IBM is still calling the plays.
IBM pSeries and Linux Technical University
Big Blue wants to alert you that it is hosting an eServer pSeries and Linux Technical University between September 20 and 24 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The 4.5 days of course include some 50 sessions (a mix of full day and half-day sessions) that can help technical staff increase their knowledge about Linux and AIX as it relates to the pSeries server line. You can find out more at this link or contact Jean Kestle, marketing manager for the Global Services unit that handles IBM's IT education, at firstname.lastname@example.org.