But Wait, There's More
Judge Makes Rulings in SCO Cases with IBM, Novell
Federal Judge Dale Kimball of the United States District Court for the District of Utah, who is hearing the lawsuits launched by The SCO Group against IBM and Novell, has handed down two rulings that move those cases forward. Kimball denied Novell's motion to dismiss the SCO suit and plans to keep the case in his court. This suit alleges that Novell has slandered SCO by claiming that Novell, not SCO, owns the copyrights to Unix. SCO thought it bought all the rights to Unix a few years ago, but Novell claimed it did not, in the aftermath of the intellectual property suit that SCO launched against IBM last year. SCO has 30 days to file with Kimball to seek specific damages from Novell. Now SCO and Novell will end up fighting out the copyright issue in court, which seems to be a setback for both companies.
In the SCO-IBM case, Kimball granted SCO's request to push the trial date from April 2005 to November 2005 (SCO asked for July 15), but Kimball also said that he would not allow the discovery process, which is vital to SCO's case, to go beyond April 22. SCO had also asked for the patent issues in the suit, which also has counterclaims against IBM's suit that was a response to SCO's suit, to be split into two cases. Kimball denied this request. Before these rulings, SCO had complained once again to the court that IBM had not supplied source code for AIX and Dynix Unixes, so it could a code check against the Unix System V source code that SCO bought from Novell.
NatureTech Launches "Portable" Sparc Server
A Taiwanese workstation maker named NatureTech has launched what it calls the world's first portable Unix server, the Proso 2000. The machine is based on Sun Microsystems' UltraSparc-IIIi processor running at 1.06 GHz or 1.28 GHz, and it can have two of them glued together in an SMP setup, like rack-mounted servers. The Proso 2000 runs the Solaris operating system and the Java Enterprise System middleware stack. The machine can have up to 16 GB of main memory and up to two SCSI or IDE hard disks; it also comes with a 15-inch LCD screen. It weighs a mere 9.5 pounds. Rather than laptops, which have all of their electronics underneath the keyboards and a flimsy screen that flips up, the Proso 2000 sits like a baby tower server with a screen on the side and a keyboard that flips down. It has a strong handle built into the top so it can be lugged around. Pricing information for the box was not available at press time.
HP Readies Itanium Blade, Possibly with HP-UX
Hewlett-Packard may not have invented the concept of the commercial blade server, but it did get the PA-RISC "Powerbar" blade servers to market ahead of Compaq's "QuickBlade" X86 machines, and it sure has generated at lot of interest in the concept in the past two years, since acquiring Compaq. Blade computing is an offshoot of server technologies long employed by telecommunications and service providers, and HP is making the rounds, talking very generally about its blade server roadmap, which includes Itanium-based machines that should have HP-UX Unix supported on them.
While RLX Technologies and a bunch of other startups commercialized the blade server concept, HP jumped into the market in a big way in early 2002, when it first starting shipping the "QuickBlade" ProLiant BLe blade servers, which cram 20 uniprocessor Pentium III-based servers into a single 3U chassis and up to 280 processors into a single 42U rack. While this was an interesting feat, these machines lacked oomph and bandwidth, which is why HP quickly rolled out two-way and then four-way blade servers that used Intel Xeon processors.
HP sources say that the company is still on track to deliver a two-way blade based on Advanced Micro Devices' 64-bit Opteron processors, and they say further that HP was considering a four-way Opteron blade as well as using the low-heat Opteron LE and Opteron HE processors, which lower the voltage on the Opteron chips (something that only a small percentage of Opterons that come off the line can do) so they can run cooler. This is interesting to the Windows and Linux crowds and maybe even to the Solaris installed base (if Sun supports Solaris on HP blades). But HP's Unix customers do not really have a blade server option, and this is a problem. HP is working on an Itanium blade (most likely using the "Deerfield" or future variants of the Itanium Low Voltage processors from Intel) to plug into the BL line. When these machines come out is anyone's guess, but you would think HP might be in a bigger hurry to protect its telecommunications and service provider business.
HP Touts Itanium Deals with Volvo, Body Shop
Itanium partners Hewlett-Packard and Intel take every chance they get to croon about an Itanium server deal, and this week saw two. First, Swedish car maker Volvo said it bought two Integrity rx8620 eight-way Itanium 2 servers to run HP-UX as a platform for its SAP ERP suite. The machines will be clustered for high availability. HP also said this week that beauty products retailer The Body Shop has acquired two Itanium-based Superdome servers to run the various SAP and Oracle ERP suites that support its 2,000 retail stores.
InfiniBand Backers Take Protocol Stack Open Source
This week, all of the major proponents of the InfiniBand interconnection scheme for servers and storage networks launched the OpenIB Alliance, which is seeking to create an open source, industry-standard software stack for implementing the InfiniBand software in Linux and, soon, Unix.
InfiniBand enthusiasts--including industry heavyweights like Intel and IBM as well as smaller but key players like TopSpin Communications and Mellanox Technologies--know that now that InfiniBand hardware (host adapters, switches, and such) is available, the real key to driving the adoption of InfiniBand in the high-performance computing and enterprise computing markets will be software. And having a consistent set of software that spans multiple workloads and vendors will be vital.
That is why TopSpin and Mellanox have contributed hundreds of thousands of lines of working code for implementing InfiniBand components to the OpenIB organization. They are hoping that other InfiniBand promoters like themselves--Dell, Engenio Information Technologies (formerly LSI Logic), IBM, InfiniCon, Intel, Lawrence Livermore National Lab, Network Appliance, Sandia National Laboratories, Sun Microsystems, Veritas, and Voltaire--will work together as founding members of the OpenIB alliance and flesh out the InfiniBand software stack for Linux. They want to then get that stack embedded in the Linux distributions so InfiniBand can ride up two separate waves in the IT market: the adoption of Linux clusters for HPC workloads and the adoption of Linux for clustered databases. Both of these waves are taking applications off of expensive, SMP Unix servers and putting them onto cheap, X86 Linux clusters. The use of InfiniBand--which has serious benefits compared to Ethernet, Gigabit Ethernet, and even 10G Ethernet--will accelerate the use of Linux for these applications.
By letting go of the software, OpenIB members hope to create a positive feedback loop that will break InfiniBand into the mainstream. That was the goal several years ago, when IBM and Intel created the standard and then later backed the InfiniBand Trade Association. IBTA created the standard, but you have to do more than that. All of the major server makers will have rolled out InfiniBand solutions of one sort or another by the end of this quarter, and all the major platform providers are working on getting InfiniBand supported in various Unix flavors, Linux, and Windows. But this is taking too long. It is better to give away the software, solicit the help of open source coders from interested parties, and speed the whole process up.
The OpenIB alliance hopes to have its bylaws and working groups created in the third quarter; it will also roll out its software delivery schedule around that time. OpenIB is being careful about IP models, and will allow companies to license the software stack under either the GPL or BSD licenses. Intel is acting as the secretary for the organization, and Sandia National Labs is hosting the OpenIB software repository.
Labor Statistics Indicate Offshoring Plays Small Role in Job Losses
The debate over sending technology jobs and other work abroad was stirred last week after the Department of Labor released research indicating that less than 2 percent of the 239,361 workers affected by extended layoffs in the first quarter of this year lost their jobs because of outsourced labor to foreign countries. The loss of IT-related jobs, particularly programming and other technology work, has been a cloud hanging over the industry in recent months. During that time some IT industry leaders have spoken out in favor of outsourcing jobs, saying it is good for the U.S. economy. According to the Department of Labor report, most of the jobs lost in the technology sector were from call centers and tech support. Since the report was released, the statistics are being used to show that the offshoring issue is nowhere near the crisis level that opponents have indicated. Forrester Research recently predicted 3.4 million jobs will leave the United States and will be taken by overseas workers in the next 11 years. The statistics were compiled from companies employing a minimum of 50 workers, where at least 50 people filed for unemployment insurance during a five-week period and the layoff continued beyond 30 days. The report totaled 4,633 workers who had their jobs relocated overseas from January through March.
Oracle Says IBM Wanted to Quash Its Bid for PeopleSoft
IBM's interest in Oracle's bid to purchase PeopleSoft was spotlighted last week during the antitrust trial concerning this potential acquisition. At the center of the storm were confidential and sealed documents that indicate IBM could lose millions of dollars if Oracle acquired PeopleSoft.
The Department of Justice, backed by 10 states, seeks to block Oracle's acquisition based on the idea that there is already limited competition in the market that attends to intricate accounting and personnel software required by the nation's largest organizations, and that Oracle's proposed purchase of PeopleSoft would reduce the competition from three companies to two. SAP, the worldwide market leader, is the third player the DoJ recognizes in this game. Oracle says the definition of this as a three-company market is too narrow.
The documents indicating IBM's potential losses were submitted by Oracle as lawyers to draw attention to IBM's financial stakes in the outcome of this trial and to cast doubt on the credibility of an IBM Business Consulting Services executive called to testify by the Department of Justice.
IBM losses, in the event that Oracle would purchase PeopleSoft, are outlined in this document and are substantial, Oracle's attorney pointed out. The reason is that Oracle's accounting and personnel software won't work with IBM's database software. It was also pointed out that the IBM documents included strategies to help PeopleSoft fend off Oracle. Oracle attorneys have repeatedly spoken out about how the government's antitrust case has been shaped by information from IBM, which wants to avoid a takeover.
If Oracle got PeopleSoft and its new J.D. Edwards unit, Oracle would control one of the biggest drivers of IBM's server, operating system, database, and middleware sales. What would happen to DB2 and WebSphere sales if all of this software were pushed heavily on the Oracle stack? The result is clearly more than simply the millions of dollars that Oracle's lawyers have suggested are at stake for IBM.