But Wait, There's More
Solaris 10 Hits 3 Million Registered Licenses
Sun Microsystems said this week that the number of registered licenses for the Solaris 10 Unix operating system that began shipping at the end of January of this year has surpassed the 3 million mark. This represents a small deceleration of downloads and CD shipments of Solaris 10, which hit 1.7 cumulative distributions (which Sun calls registered licenses, either electronically or by CD or DVD) in mid-June. That's 1.3 million shipments in 19 weeks, or about 68,400 downloads per week, on average, between mid-June and the third week of October. During May and June, the run rate was closer to 80,000 units per week, but up from the run rate of downloads and shipments in April and early May. The run rate won't be even as the weeks go by, of course, and it is unreasonable to expect it to be. The important thing is that Sun is doing better than many expectations with Solaris 10.
Earlier this year, I drew a few curves to project possible Solaris 10 ship rates, and I guessed then that Sun would probably do about 2.5 million downloads between January 2005 and January 2006, with a high range estimate of perhaps 3.5 million downloads. If the current rate holds and the holidays are slow (as you might expect), then Sun looks like it will hit that 3.5 million cumulative shipment numbers.
As I have cautioned many times in the past, you have to be careful about equating shipments with usage. I have personally done three Solaris 10 downloads since January and I also have 10 DVD versions of the Solaris 10 03/05 discs, too. I have 13 of those 3 million distributions, and I have none in production--at least not yet.
Gartner Says IT Spending to Rise 5.5 Percent in 2006
Let the prognostications for 2006 begin!
The analysts at Gartner have dusted off their crystal balls and taken a gander into the hazy future to declare that IT spending will increase by 5.5 percent in the United States in 2006. Gartner's preliminary results are based on surveys of IT departments, who are saying that some of this increase will be dedicated to application development and integration (of what, Gartner doesn't say). The 1,500 customers surveyed by Gartner say that spending on security and storage is going to level off, but they will boost spending on mobile computing and related infrastructure as well as on middleware and development tools. The survey results indicate that companies will boost spending on IT personnel in the areas of project and program management, systems management, and network management, but that they expected to spend less on contract employees.
While the average increase in spending among those U.S. companies surveyed was 5.5 percent, companies in the services industry set the high water mark with an average expected increase in IT budget of around 11 percent, with all other industry sectors expecting to grow in the single digits; banks and financial institutions expected, on average, to increase spending by only 3.4 percent. "On the surface, these results paint an optimistic picture of long-awaited IT spending recovery," explained Barbara Gomolski, the vice president of research at Gartner who created the spending forecast. "But the increases involved are relatively modest. Many industries will see revenue growth outpace IT budget increases in 2006. As a result, although absolute dollars spent on IT will increase in 2006, IT spending as a percentage of revenue will actually decline in some organizations." Gartner presented its first pass on 2006 predictions at the Gartner Symposium in Orlando, Fla., last week.
IBM Acquires XML Appliance Maker DataPower
Last week, IBM acquired a privately held maker of XML appliances called DataPower for an undisclosed amount of money.
When people talk about services oriented architectures (SOA), more times than not what that means is using XML as a glue to connect disparate file systems, Web servers, application servers, and transactional systems that might span multiple companies into a giant, integrated, hybrid application. But XML is not the fastest language in the world, and like many other technologies, it could use a little boost. And to that end, DataPower has created a line of appliances to not only speed up the performance of XML parsing by a factor of ten or so, but also to add a tight layer of security to it and to take non-XML data such as flat or binary files and wrap them into XML so you don't have to put code on your servers to do this. These are very interesting gadgets. And they might just end up as co-processors in future Power-based servers and mainframe servers from IBM. And down the line, the XML smarts that DataPower has will undoubtedly be used to add XML acceleration to future Power processors, which is being speculated about in the Power6 or Power7 generation of chips.
IDC Predicts Virtualization-Related Tech to Balloon to a $15 Billion Biz by 2009
Sometimes, I wonder about the projections being made by IT market researchers. Last week, IDC released a report that claimed that "virtual servers translate into real dollars: and that spending around virtualization technologies would "balloon to nearly $15 billion worldwide by 2009." IDC reckons that a "disruptive change" is at hand and that soon two-socket and four-socket servers will become routinely virtualized. In other words, server virtualization will go mainstream.
I have no qualms with that statement, but I do have some serious issues with those projections and the way that people are thinking about money in the server virtualization game. When you consider that VMware is at a $100 million or so run rate per quarter and may be at a $150 million to $175 million run rate next year, and maybe a $250 million rate per quarter in 2007, and then maybe $325 million per quarter in 2008, and then may even approach $400 million per quarter by the end 2009, that still only works out to a $1.6 billion-a-year business. And those back-of-the-napkin estimates I just made assume that VMware grows its shipment volumes by an order of magnitude and radically drops its prices, because I can tell you, only enterprises with cramped data centers are going to pay $5,000 for a virtual machine bundle for a server that itself may only cost $2,500. I will agree that server virtualization is very important, but it is like mufflers: All cars will have them, and people will not pay a lot for them. That $15 billion projection, even if you want to be generous and throw in storage virtualization, seems ridiculously high. Unless, of course, IDC is counting the value of the servers as well as the virtualization software. And if it is, then this is folly.
What probably will turn out to be true is this: There will be multiple server virtualization technologies available, and more companies will probably join the fray. Already there are a number of players besides VMware, including Microsoft, SWsoft, the open source Xen project, and now Parallels all peddling virtualization tools on X86 and X64 boxes. Unix boxes all have their own virtualization technologies and so do IBM's iSeries servers and mainframes. These latter machines do not have much of a premium for virtualization technologies, and I believe that over time, the premium that vendors can command for these logical and virtual partitioning technologies will diminish--just like every other server technology you can think of. The other thing to think about is this: as the server market uses more virtualization technologies, the box count footprint will shrink--big time. So while vendors may make some dough selling virtualization software, they are going to lose a lot more dough because they are going to ship a lot fewer physical server boxes that used to run at 15 to 25 percent of CPU capacity. IDC's and Gartner's server projections had better count on this effect, and if they believe that virtualization software will make up for lost server hardware sales, both the IT vendors and the IT consultants are going to be sorely and surely surprised. Ask yourself this: how much of a premium can a server maker charge for simultaneous multithreading support in their processors? Or integrated RAID cards? Or ECC on the main memory? The answer is very little.
I think this whole projection can get turned on its ear really easily, particularly if the members of the Xen open source virtualization project do one simple thing: What if XenSource starts making a little bit of money selling add-on systems management software to its Xen hypervisor for X86 and X64 servers, and then takes a bunch of that cash and decides to create a cross-platform hypervisor that works on X64, Itanium, Sparc, Power, and MIPS processors? Imagine a cross-platform VM. You think companies wouldn't adopt that? They would in a heartbeat. Remember: Linux started out on X86, and is now running on more platforms than any operating system in history, rivaling the open source BSD Unixes. And if there hadn't been such platform consolidation in the past decade, I think Linux would be running on a lot more boxes. What happened for Linux can happen for Xen--and probably will.
According to surveys by IDC, more than 75 percent of companies with more than 500 employees are deploying servers with virtualization technologies, and customer satisfaction with these technologies is very high. More than half of the virtualized machines deployed to date are being used in production, including for mission-critical workloads. As for revenue, virtualized systems that run Unix, OS/400, and mainframe operating systems like z/VM and z/OS currently account for the bulk of spending on virtualized systems, but there is rapid growth on Windows and Linux platforms, says IDC's analysts. Server buyers are telling IDC that, on average, they expect about 45 percent of all servers they buy in 2006 to have virtualization technologies. All of these statistics sound perfectly reasonable.
Intel Reports 18 Percent Increase in Revenue
Intel reported net income of $2 billion, or 32 cents per share, on revenues of nearly $10 billion for its third quarter ending October 1, the chip maker announced last week. These numbers translated into a five percent increase in net income and an 18 percent increase in overall revenue compared to the third quarter of 2004. Intel CEO and President, Paul Otellini, was upbeat on the results, explaining that the company set records for total revenues and unit shipments across all major product lines. "Execution remained solid as we launched our new dual-core server platform ahead of schedule and began shipping microprocessors built on our industry-leading 65nm process technology," he says. The company's earnings per share took a two-cent hit related to the payment of about half of a $300-million settlement of a patent infringement lawsuit with MicroUnity unveiled last month; the remaining $160 million will be amortized over a 10-year period, the company says. Profits were further reduced by four cents per share as a result of $250 million in tax increases related to the decision to repatriate foreign-earned income under the American Jobs Creation Act. Intel does not expect revenues to grow at the same rate in the fourth quarter, as the company forecast revenues between $10.2 billion and $10.8 billion, which would be an increase of 6.25 to 10.4 percent compared to the fourth quarter of 2004.
CommuniGate Pro 5.0 to Bring 'Carrier Grade' VoIP, Vendor Says
The next version of CommuniGate Systems' (formerly Stalker Software) CommuniGate Pro e-mail and collaboration software should be available in about a week, according to a spokeswoman with the company. CommuniGate Pro version 5.0 features numerous enhancements in the Voice over IP (VoIP) area and will provide a carrier-grade, software-based PBX system, the company says. With version 5.0, the session initiation protocol (SIP)-based CommuniGate Pro will act in a variety of new functions, including serving as a teleconference Server, providing auto-attendant and interactive voice response (IVR) functionality, providing call queuing and automatic call distribution (ACD) functionality, and serving voicemail. The company also claims users will be able to easily add nodes to their CommuniGate clusters, and scale up their "SIP Farm" to meet demands, while new logging functions and APIs will facilitate integration with billing systems. "The Internet is constantly evolving into the most widely used communications backbone, and users now demand sophisticated Internet Communications including instant messaging, e-mail, and Voice over IP," says Vladimir Butenko, chief executive of the San Francisco Bay Area software firm. Unix is one of several dozen operating systems that CommuniGate Pro runs on, including various flavors of Windows, Mac OS X, and OS/400.
Arkeia Rolls Out Volume-Based Pricing for Backups
Data protection software developer Arkeia last week unveiled a new way to charge for backups with Smart Backup, its new entry-level offering. Instead of charging users for the number and type of servers they back up, Smart Backup enables users to pay by the gigabyte backed up. Smart Backup uses the same Linux-based engine as its flagship Network Backup software, and supports the full range of BSD, Linux, Mac OS X, Windows, and NetWare, and BSD. The software replaces the company's free Arkeia Light software, and can also be upgraded from the company's Server Backup software. The software is free for the first 50 GB, and costs $99 for each 100 GB up to 1 TB, and $499 for each additional 500 GB above 1 TB, including $99 yearly support renewal.