Top 10 IT News Stories of the Week

IBM and Cognos, most essential security skills for Java programmers, the first enterprise app for Facebook, and more...

1. "IBM Agrees to Buy Cognos for $5B,"

CIO.com, November 12

"Cognos Buy a Defensive Move for IBM,"

InfoWorld, November 12

"The BI Landscape: How Will the IBM Purchase of Cognos Impact End-Users?"

CIO.com, November 12

Another pure-play vendor looks to be swooped up after word this week that IBM has agreed to buy Cognos for $5 billion. Bringing the business intelligence vendor into the Big Blue fold will be a smack at HP whose BI and data warehousing platform is build on Cognos products. IBM has long had the position that it doesn't want to compete with its partners in applications, but that strategy may have shifted with the Cognos plan, analysts say.

2. "IBM Unveils 'Cloud Computing' Initiative,"

Network World, November 15

IBM announced its "Blue Cloud" initiative with the aim of allowing "computing across a distributed, globally accessible fabric of resources, rather than on local machines or remote server farms." Such a distributed computing system is what works for the likes Google, which has partnered with IBM to provide universities with curriculum and support for that sort of software development. Customers will be able to manage tens of thousands machines in this manner, helping them contend with space and energy crunches. The first Blue Cloud products will be out next spring.

3. "Researcher: Half a Million Database Servers Have No Firewall,"

CIO.com, November 14

Not many weeks go by without worrisome security news and here is this week's concern -- almost a half a million database servers exposed on the Internet have no firewall protection, according to security researcher David Litchfield. He discovered this when he examined a little more than 1 million randomly generated IP addresses to see if he could access them on ports for Microsoft SQL Server or Oracle's database. He came across 157 SQL servers and 53 Oracle servers and then drew his conclusions using known estimates of the number of systems on the Internet. He plans to publish his results on Monday, but we don't need those to realize that an awful lot of databases are being exposed to hackers.

4. "Disappearing Gmail Messages Baffle Users,"

ITWorld, November 15

It's a mystery -- and a horrifying one at that for many users who have logged on to their Gmail accounts to find no mail. The specter of an empty inbox has greeted Gmail users and caused considerable consternation. There seems to be no pattern to who will wind up with missing messages. What has been consistent is that customer support is lacking -- users say they can't even find a number to call. One customer suggests "do a dance and rub a stone for good luck" and then hope she connects with someone who can help. Google has told some users who complained via e-mail that they've determined the problem isn't a technical issue. The company has helpfully recommended to such users that they change their passwords. That doesn't seem to have helped them find missing e-mail. Perhaps the e-mails are cozied up with missing socks?

5. "Group Devises List of Most Essential Security Skills for Java Programmers,"

Computerworld, November 15

Security managers from more than a dozen organizations plan to publish a listing of what application software developers need to know to decrease the likelihood of vulnerabilities in the software they develop. The SANS Institute got the group together with the idea of helping Java developers tackle security problems with Web applications. The public will be able to look over and comment on the document in the next few weeks. The document will be released next year as a formal blueprint for Java application developers.

6. "Will Businesses Skip Windows Vista Altogether?"

PC World, November 14

For those who are keeping track, Nov. 30 is the one-year mark for the release of Windows Vista for businesses. Perhaps yours is one of the many companies that decided to wait for the first service pack to upgrade. Or maybe yours is one of the companies that plans to just wait for Windows 7, the code-name for the next Windows version, which is expected out in late 2009 or thereabouts. Even though Microsoft provided an optimistic update on Vista adoption, a lot of companies appear to be holding off on updating. A consultant, who asked not to be named in print, said that there are "just so many little usability issues" and that unless SP1 takes care of them, a lot of companies will probably stick with XP.

7. "First Enterprise Application for Facebook Launched,"

Techworld, November 15

Well, we could see this one coming -- open-source enterprise content management vendor Alfresco's application has been integrated with the Facebook social-networking site so that its users can communicate that way with customers and partners. Alfresco says that this is the first Facebook application specifically for business users. More must be in the works, so it's just a matter of time before that floodgate is opened.

8. "Chizen Out at Month's End as Adobe CEO,"

ITWorld, November 12

In the surprise personnel move of the week, Adobe said that CEO Bruce Chizen is leaving at the end of the month. As of Dec. 1, President and COO Shantanu Narayen will take over. Chizen will continue with his seat on the board of directors through the second quarter of 2008 and will serve as an advisor to the company. He has been CEO since 2000. On the surface anyway it appears that the move was an ordinary sort of transition, but in recent public speeches Chizen has sure sounded like he's ready for a break. He likened dealing with investors to "going to the dentist without Novocaine." He described the public nature of his life as "weird" and "awkward," noting that "everybody knows how much money I make and everybody thinks it's too much."

9. "10 Things We Hate About Laptops,"

Computerworld, November 15

Laptop shipments for business use will surpass desktops by this time next year if an IDC forecast is correct, adding to the 31.7 million laptops sold this year in the U.S. alone. While laptop users may be happy about that, IT executives ... Well, not so much. Culled from a long list of things they hate about laptops is a top 10 list of dread -- crummy battery life, difficult maintenance, early death, Wi-Fi issues, other security concerns, dings and breaks. And, oh, laptops are easy too lose.

10. "Oracle Sours on BEA Buy Plan,"

InfoWorld, November 15

Maybe BEA wasn't such a good acquisition target after all. And by the way, that $17 per share offer? Too high. So said Oracle chief Larry Ellison during a meeting with analysts this week. "It seems very unlikely that anyone's going to buy BEA right now," he said. "The $17 price seems too high right now," he also said. "If we made another offer, the price would be lower," he added. "If their goal was to stay independent, I think they're doing a good job." He said some other things too, but you get the drift.

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