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By Greg Paul

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In a rather intriguing article in the Windows Networking Newsletter by Dave Kearns.

As Dave points out, “About 20 years ago, the U.S. standardized on the first Sunday in April and the last Sunday in October as the dates to change. Soon thereafter, the Windows operating system knew to check the date and adjust the time on those occasions.

That all changes this year. Starting in 2007, DST will begin on the second Sunday in March and end on the first Sunday in November. There will be patches for your server and desktop operating systems (and your laptops, palmtops and all the other Windows platforms) and the automated changes will continue to occur at the right time – provided you’ve patched your systems up to date by the beginning of March 2007.

But there’s a trap lurking on most of your computers which, while not quite as serious as the old Y2K bug, will still be almost as annoying to overcome. And not only is it NOT Microsoft’s fault, but you can lay the blame directly at the feet of Sun. ”

“Sun’s Java Runtime Engine (JRE) has its own built-in time calculation, just like Windows. Unfortunately, it’s embedded in the JRE. There’s no easy way to create a simple patch that can be applied to any version of the JRE – you actually have to install a totally recompiled JRE that has the updated rules embedded in it.”

“Because of the way that Java apps are distributed, and because no vendor can be sure that you already have a compatible version of the JRE for their application, there are probably dozens of JREs, in different versions, scattered around your computers. That’s dozens on each of them, I might add. And every single one of them needs to be replaced. Better get started, you’ve only got four months! ”

Here is a link to the entire article.

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By Greg Paul

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Solera Networks, Inc., has introduced a new hardware product; for managing packet recorders distributed throughout a network. Here is an excerpted version of the press release that announced the product.

Control Center software for its packet recorder appliances. This initial release of the web-based interface software allows network administrators and security analysts to:

- Select, start, and stop physical capture, virtual replay, and/or regeneration processes
- Create and apply filters to the network data stream before capture or upon replay
- View graphical and numerical status of key system metrics
- Navigate and download PCAP files or PCAP header files of stored network data
- Create custom PCAP files selected by date-time or file size from the stored data
- Issue console commands to the appliance
- Add and manage users and user rights

Based on proprietary system software and the DS infinite storage file system, Solera Networks DS appliances achieve over 2X the sustainable capture and stream to disk rates of competitive products and can directly address disk storage in excess of 240 TB.

The DS series appliances capture LAN and WAN traffic of all types including T1, E1, digital, T3, DS3, E3, VoIP, HSSI, and all other packetized transport protocols. Up to 10 capture or regeneration ports can be configured on each device with 10/100, GigE, 10GbE, or Fiber Channel adapters.”

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By Greg Paul

Ipswitch Fortifies Network Operations Services of Connected Office(TM) Solution
LEXINGTON, MA and OTTAWA, CANADA — (MARKET WIRE) — January 16, 2007 — Ipswitch, Inc., a leading IT software vendor, and The Utility Company, a leading supplier of information technology delivered as a utility service, today announced a strategic partnership aimed at the small- and medium-sized business (SMB) market. The partnership will leverage the power of Ipswitch’s WhatsUp network monitoring software within The Utility Company’s new managed services offering, Connected Office.

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Connected Office is designed to provide Utility Service Provider (USP) franchisees and their end-user customers with practically everything needed for remote managed IT services through a usage-based utility computing model. Using Connected Office, USPs can easily offer SMB end-users improved network performance and reliability. At the same time, they are able to more easily leverage technology to better execute, automate and manage key business processes without having to hire an IT administrator.

This managed services approach is rapidly gaining traction in the market according to a recent study on managed services from research firm, InfoTech. The study says the market for managed services is expected to experience double-digit growth for the next five years because organizations are looking to improve network performance, increase network reliability and reduce business risk.

“Connected Office enables companies to focus on business productivity and not on technology operations. The Utility Company is partnering with Ipswitch to deliver the network monitoring requirements that underpin Connected Office,” said Mark Scott, President of The Utility Company. “We are following our own advice by partnering with a company that has an easy-to-use, off-the-shelf product that will very quickly enable our USP franchises to profitably deliver managed/utility services.”

Ipswitch’s WhatsUp Professional 2006 Premium Edition monitors and manages application and network resources to keep critical business infrastructure, like email servers and databases, up and running so companies can focus on their core business without worrying about the technology that supports it. WhatsUp is both fast to deploy and exceptionally easy to use.

“Our partnership with The Utility Company is bringing a new approach to the market that will enable end-users to drive higher levels of performance,” said Ennio Carboni, Director of Product Management, Ipswitch. “The Utility Company’s philosophy and Connected Office solution is a strong complement to our software. Together we are bringing a unique ‘shrink-wrapped’ offering to the market.”

Availability

The Connected Office 2.0 service suite is currently available. For more information on the offering, see “The Utility Company™ Powers Up at Xchange ’06″ at: http://www.theutilitycompany.com/News/2006/08-14-2006.asp.

About The Utility Company

The Utility Company™, the leader in Technology-as-a-Service™, delivers information technology as a utility to small- and medium-sized businesses providing the required hardware, software and service for a monthly fee per user. Our Connected Office™ service suite empowers people to properly leverage technology to operate, communicate and manage their business more effectively to increase productivity, performance and ultimately profit. Our customers are supported by the Utility Service Network delivering on-site service and business-technology consulting across North America; technology sales and service professionals can review the Beyond Managed Services™ franchise opportunity on our website. Learn how to make technology work for your business today at www.theutilitycompany.com.

*****************************************
About Ipswitch, Inc.

Ipswitch develops and markets innovative IT software that is easy to learn and use. More than 100 million people worldwide use Ipswitch software to monitor their networks with Ipswitch WhatsUp®, transfer files over the Internet using the market leading Ipswitch WS_FTP® Professional client and Ipswitch WS_FTP Server and communicate via Ipswitch Imail™ Server. To view the Daily Network Monitor blog, visit http://www.whatsupgold.com/blog. For product and sales information, write to info@ipswitch.com or visit http://www.ipswitch.com. Ipswitch values community involvement; visit http://icare.ipswitch.com to find out how to become involved.

WS_FTP and WhatsUp are registered trademarks of Ipswitch, Inc.

The Utility Company, Connected Office, Beyond Managed Services, and Technology-as-a-Service are trademarks of The Utility Company Ltd. All other product names are property of their respective owners.

*************************************

Media Contacts:
David Karp
Ipswitch, Inc.
781-676-5794
pr@ipswitch.com

http://www.ipswitch.com

Nancy Pieretti
Davies Murphy Group, Inc.
781-418-2424
ipswitch@daviesmurphy.com

http://www.daviesmurphy.com

Aaron Bradley
The Utility Company, Ltd.
613-591-9800 x26
abradley@theutilitycompany.com

http://www.theutilitycompany.com

You can read the original release here.

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By Greg Paul

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One of the big players in the Enterprise-class (meaning the software is so bloated you need a spaceship to hold the CDs?) is Computer Associates (CA) and the Unicenter product family. The product portfolio at CA, by the way, is so big they have to start coining new acronyms to describe it: they came up with Enterprise IT Management (EITM). At what point does a product portfolio large enough to cover everything become so large, overlapping and confusing as to become nothing?

CA recently announced they have appointed Ajei Gopal, Symantec Corp.‘s former chief technology officer, to lead its enterprise systems management business unit.

We wish him well!

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By Greg Paul

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I have made the point in my Technology Seminars in USA and Canada that VoIP imposes additional network requirements. This story in IT Business Canada illustrates the point nicely.

“When voice over IP first began appearing on business networks, many people expected to simply fire it up and start talking. But when they tried it, a lot of what they had to say never made it to the other end of the line – which was probably a good thing, because when they discovered how well VoIP worked on their existing networks, some of their language wasn’t very polite.

Because many early VoIP adopters expected it to be plug and play, networks often got no pre-implementation testing to see if they were ready to handle voice, recalls Brad Masterson, product manager at Mississauga, Ont.-based Fluke Electronics Canada LP, a maker of network testing tools. That frequently led to problems when the IP telephony application was turned on.

In 2003 Jeremy Urwin, a technical sales support director at Telus Corp., told the story of LAN administrator who refused to have Telus check his network for VOIP readiness before going live, even when offered a discount on the work. “The first two calls went through flawlessly, “ Urwin reported. “The third call dropped, and guess who that was? That was the CIO.” Telus belatedly did the readiness report, the network was adjusted – and the customer got a new LAN administrator.

Such hubris on the part of network managers not only cost a few unfortunates their jobs, but battered the reputation of voice over IP technology and some of the vendors who sell it. As a result, some major VOIP vendors now insist on testing every network on which they install their wares to make sure beforehand that it’s ready for voice.”

Read the complete story here.

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By Greg Paul

The U.S. Geological Survey has outlined an ambitious – though unfunded and unapproved – road map for wiring Yellowstone over the next decade to keep better tabs on its geologic life.

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Jake Lowenstern, a USGS geologist and head of the Yellowstone Volcano Observatory, said the plan is meant as a starting point for launching discussions about how best to monitor the park. It’s our way of thinking through what sort of techniques would be useful … what we do and why and then where do we fall short and how we might improve,” Lowenstern said.

The proposal suggests upgrades in Yellowstone’s seismic network, more gauges to monitor streams and potentially dangerous gases, Global Positioning System stations that help predict ground-splitting explosions, and even instruments hundreds of feet below the ground to monitor groundwater, magma and shifting rocks.

In the past 2 million years, Yellowstone has launched three of the largest volcanic eruptions on the planet. Another major eruption of what some have called a “supervolcano” has been the topic of much speculation in recent years.

“In terms of knowing whether an eruption is going to happen, we already have a pretty good system,” Lowenstern said.

[More]

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By Greg Paul

Klir Technologies, an IT management software-as-a-service (SaaS) provider, on Monday launched a beta version of a collaborative tool that allows its users to share best practices.

Klir Analytics 3.0 Beta is a new feature of the Klir network monitoring service that provides an open forum for users. Klir customers can add suggestions about how to better use the Klir service and view the suggestions that others have contributed, said Jim Maiocco, CEO of Seattle-based Klir.

“This lets users share the experiences of other users, which is invaluable,” Maiocco said.

Klir is a node monitoring solution that reads and reports on the performance of applications, network bandwidth, servers and other devices. The Klir solution is delivered via a SaaS model through Access Distribution. Access has a hand in the Klir monitoring process through a unique partnership that allows the Westminster, Colo.-based distributor to view the data feed from end-user networks at the same time a solution provider does, Maiocco said.

Klir Analytics 3.0 Beta is similar to the collaborative online database Wikipedia in the sense that Klir customers can add, comment on and make instructive modifications to best practices entries. Over time, the effort will produce an in-depth database of methods that optimize the Klir solution and make it more profitable for partners to use, Maiocco said.

The availability of functions such as entry tags, user ratings, reader comments and the freedom to design the user interface using Asynchronous JavaScript (Ajax) tools make Analytics 3.0 Beta a dynamic user experience that can be individualized, he added. Users can also link content from third-party industry, trade and vendor sites and call up information related to categories they are searching.
Users of the new collaborative tool can even use entries to advertise themselves and their expertise, something that can potentially attract subcontracting business from other participants in the forum, according to Maiocco.

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By Greg Paul

3M Digital Signage will be launching a comprehensive environment for the remote monitoring, diagnostic analysis and maintenance of devices on a digital signage network at London’ s Screen Expo 2007.

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The new 3M Digital Signage Software – Network Operations Manager addresses many potential show-stopping hardware and software issues that might interfere with playback, without the need to deploy an on-site technician.

The new Network Operations Manager (NOM) tool enhances the comprehensive content management capabilities of 3M Digital Signage Software – Network Edition by providing real-time visibility of a digital signage network’s entire computing infrastructure. Whilst Network Edition enables users to manage multimedia content, schedule playlists and verify correct playback, NOM equips users to remotely diagnose and repair issues on player PCs and other network devices without requiring on-site attendance.

“A failure anywhere within a digital signage network is highly visible and it is critical for digital signage operators to have a network analysis and maintenance solution that is comprehensive and enables a quick response,” says Simon Birkenhead , Sales and Marketing Manager, 3M Digital Signage Division. “Offering software with the capability to improve efficiency, minimise downtime and increase overall IT effectiveness is another way we’re building on our promise to deliver digital signage solutions that lead the industry in reliability and fully deliver against customer needs.”

Network Operations Manager complements Network Edition software by enabling users to identify and address infrastructure issues before they might affect playout. Player downtime is minimised with features such as automated email alerts that instantly warn of any hardware, software or network issue on any remote player that might affect playout. NOM offers remote control of any digital signage network player PC, including real-time video streaming to the user?s desktop of playback from any player to verify on-screen images.

Read the whole story here.

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By Greg Paul

This story is excerpted from here.

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“Several large telephone and cable companies are starting to make it harder for consumers to use the Internet for phone calls or swapping video files.

Some of the companies say the users are hogging bandwidth, taking up too much space on networks and slowing down service for all customers that tap the Internet for email, video, music, phone and other services.”

“Wireless phone companies like Verizon Wireless and Vodafone Group PLC stipulate in their subscription contracts that customers can’t use the company’s high-speed Web-access networks for Internet calling — or may prohibit usage in the future. Several cable companies are using technology to cap the speed at which some of their customers can swap videos. A number of equipment companies are selling software
and other products designed to block and monitor Internet applications such as phone calls, video and photo downloads.”

“Critics [ yes, I am one of them! - Ed.] say the big operators are using their concerns about heavy network traffic to fight competition from smaller rivals that are using the phone and cable companies’ networks, like Internet calling companies Skype Technologies SA or Vonage Holdings Corp. Others [including me! - Ed.] say that telecom companies may use their control over the networks to charge users more money if they want higher quality.”

“The battle features big companies with multibillion-dollar telephone,cable and cellular networks into homes and tiny competitors who don’t own any network but whose low-cost or free services compete with those of the big operators. Consumers could get caught in the squeeze.

The crackdown is controversial: Consumers have come to expect unfettered use of the Internet. Any effort by phone or cable companies to curtail use so far has sparked an outcry.”

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By Greg Paul

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In a recent issue of Network World’s Network/Systems Management Newsletter, Andi Mann wrote:

Two weeks ago, Dell announced a new Unified Manageability Architecture (UMA), which it described as “a blueprint to standardize systems management.” Future versions of Dell’s OpenManage solutions will be co-developed with systems management solution provider Altiris, built on the Altiris Notification Server. Dell will leverage Altiris’ management platform to offer a single hardware and software management console.

However, even though the console is built around technology from a proprietary management vendor, it will use open standards such as CIM, SMI-S, and WS-Man. ….Then last week, the Distributed Management Task Force (DMTF), announced a number of new standards aimed at boosting interoperability. These included a newly ratified WS-CIM specification, a Web services-based version of the DMTF’s Common Information Model (CIM), an open standard for interoperable exchange of management information; a revised version of SMBIOS, an open standard for interoperable exchange of motherboard and system information; and the public release of the complete open standard, Systems Management Architecture for Server Hardware (SMASH), V1.0.

The DMTF is an industry body with nearly 200 member organizations, including the who’s who of enterprise management – Altiris, Avocent, BMC, CA, Cisco, Dell, EMC, Fujitsu, HP, Hitachi, IBM, Intel, LANDesk, Microsoft, Novell, Oracle, Sun, and Symantec. Yet despite a membership consisting predominantly of proprietary vendors, it is probably the leading proponent of open standards to promote interoperability in enterprise management.

…More and more vendors are going to develop and build to open standards like UMA, SMASH, and WS-Man. Those that do not are likely to be left in the scrap heap, regardless of whether they are open source or proprietary.

Yet there is still a problem – competing “open” standards. When too many standards compete, it really does not matter how open they are, it still creates complexity, and works against interoperability. Therefore, in the end, customers still need to choose a limited number of suppliers. Regardless of how interoperable these so-called “open standard” suppliers are, it is the best way to reduce IT management complexity.

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