Friday, May 29, 2009

Why invest in open source management apps now?

Open source management technology has advanced to handle enterprise environments

Cost isn’t the only reason IT managers should consider open source IT management applications, industry watchers say, as developers and communities continue to crank out enterprise-scale features, security and support for the free tools.

Software maturity, support packages and customization capabilities are driving more enterprise and SMB IT organizations to consider open source as a viable alternative to a commercial network management platform, according to Forrester Research.

“With shrinking IT budgets and a continued need to control IT environments, the use of open source solutions to manage infrastructure and operations is no longer just an interesting experience but a viable alternative for enterprises of all sizes,” writes Evelyn Hubbert, senior analyst at Forrester Research in a recent report. “Typically open source solutions are more lightweight and can be a real alternative for managing your IT environment. End users in both midsize and enterprise markets are looking at these tools as a way to save operational expenses.”

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Thursday, May 28, 2009

New Open Source Mobile Phone Targets Business Users: Report

Even with the huge market disruption that the iPhone 3G created when Apple (News - Alert) unveiled it last summer, creating a virtual store that’s spawned mimics from other device vendors (including Nokia), more and more smartphone makers appear to be targeting the business users specifically as they roll out new models.

We’ve heard reports about how some companies are planning to introduce the iPhone (News - Alert) as a business device – yet RIM’s BlackBerry Curve outsold the iPhone in the first quarter of this year (and BlackBerry models generally are associated with business users).

And officials with Sprint (News - Alert) – rival of iPhone carrier AT&T – said in no uncertain terms earlier this month that the Palm Pre (pictured below) will signal the end of the so-called “smartphone sandwich” – a phenomenon that leads users to keep an iPhone for personal use and BlackBerry for business.

“People have made compromises,” Sprint Chief Executive Dan Hesse said at an industry event. “(The Pre) is truly both a consumer and business device.”

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Friday, May 22, 2009

Should Microsoft's CEO summit have been 'open source'?

The biggest business story in Seattle this week occurred on the Microsoft campus -- and the media barely covered it. They weren't allowed to.

The Microsoft CEO Summit drew more than 105 CEOs representing 25 countries. Altogether, these titans represent about $2.9 trillion in annual sales and 8.9 million employees.

Among the names released were CEO Jeff Bezos, Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffett and News Corp. CEO Rupert Murdoch. The three-day meeting began May 19 at the Microsoft campus in Redmond.

If these leaders were elected officeholders meeting as a public body, their gathering would have probably been subject to open meetings laws. There's no such sunshine law for the meetings of leaders of private companies.

Microsoft has been hosting these summits for 13 years, and they've become a world-class forum.

The event was news in itself even though no news was announced. They discussed the convergence of technology, business issues, economic trends and making the world a better place. The exact agenda was private.

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Thursday, May 21, 2009

Linux development platform takes on license compliance

Embedded Alley has upgraded its "Development System for Linux" with tools to create software Bills of Materials, track open source components, trace binary sources, and help OEMs comply with open source license obligations. The new platform also adds support for the Freescale i.MX31 PDK (pictured).

EA's tracking system for open source licensing compliance is claimed to be a first for a Linux development platform. The tracking tools reflect the growing cost of license compliance for OEMs, as well as the frustration developers have with hunting down sources and licensing different components used in open source projects.

"Device manufacturers are using more and more open source packages, and with the number of stacks proliferating, each with different licensing, it becomes more challenging to track," said EA's COO, Matthew Locke, in an interview, "There's a need for a greater level of sophistication of these compliance tools, helping people through production and beyond, and helping OEMs comply with licensing obligations. We're combining development tools with best practices."

The focus on component tracking and licensing appears to be part of a trend in Linux development platforms. With key technological components now in place, the platforms are increasingly focusing on procedural and supply chain issues aimed at reducing development time. For example, the upcoming MontaVista Linux 6 will offer different versions based on various semiconductor distributions, and it provides a new build platform and content server for keeping track of open source components. Timesys has also focused on tracking issues with its DIY-oriented LinuxLink 3.0 subscription service. (See farther below for more on the new license compliance features, as well as additional comments from Locke.)

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Friday, May 15, 2009

Open Source Alternatives to Popular Software

Before you pay another cent to Microsoft or another software publisher, read this article by Eric Geier to discover whether you can use a free open source application instead. Just about every commercial app you use on a daily basis will have an open source alternative, whether you use Windows, Mac OS X, or Linux.

Whether you are looking out for your small business or personal computing needs, the open source community delivers robust applications that are completely free. Not only can you typically use these applications on Linux, the open source operating system, but many are also available to run on Windows and Mac OS X. Using these software programs can save you loads of money. You'll soon be on your way to a free and open computing experience.

Office and Productivity Software

One of the first things you are probably wondering about is the open source alternative to Microsoft Office. No worry needed here— (OOo) has been around for many years as a feasible substitution for just about any operating system. It includes Writer for word processing, Calc for spreadsheets, Impress for presentations, Draw for illustrating, and Base for databases.

OOo is pretty much a copy of MS Office 2003, with a few exceptions. Though separately available, OOo doesn't include an email client or other misc office-type applications that you might see from one of Microsoft's premium office suites. Plus some features are lacking, such as templates, clip art, and grammar checking. However with some searching on Google or browsing through my writings, you'll find some workarounds.

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Thursday, May 14, 2009

Microsoft preps for open-source cloud apps

Microsoft has unveiled a toolkit for PHP developers building open-source applications that help fluff its planned Azure cloud.

PHPAzure is a software development kit (SDK) for programming to both Windows Azure and the underlying SQL-like Windows Azure Storage service's blobs, tables, and queues. PHPAzure is an open-source project developed with RealDolmen and hosted on Microsoft's CodePlex site.

The PHPAzure community technology preview (CTP) was unveiled by Microsoft India and is due for completion on August 21. Azure is itself currently in CTP and has been promised for delivery by the end of this year.

PHP is one of the web's most popular programming languages, running more than 20 million sites. It's also used in conjunction with Apache, Linux, and MySQL - a web server, operating system, and database combo that Microsoft is in competition with.

Microsoft's recognized the importance of winning over PHP developers and has worked with Zend Technologies to fine-tune PHP to Windows until now. The risk was developers would otherwise build their PHP applications on Windows and deploy on Linux instead.

With PHP being a default web-programming environment, Microsoft has accepted it must embrace the language as a way to populate Azure with applications, moving it from a standing stop.

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Friday, May 1, 2009

Open Source Group Challenges Microsoft Patents

The Open Invention Network, an industry organization that protects Linux by acquiring and licensing open-source patents, is taking Microsoft to task over three patents related to its now-settled lawsuit against in car GPS device maker TomTom.

Microsoft sued TomTom in February for allegedly infringing on eight of its patents, three of which pertained to TomTom's implementation of the Linux kernel. At the time, Microsoft officials said the suit wasn't the start of a patent enforcement campaign against Linux, but didn't rule out further lawsuits.

OIN this week posted details on the three patents -- U.S. patents 5579517, 5758352 and 6256642 -- to a section of its Linux Defenders website in an attempt to get community members searching for prior art that could prevent Microsoft from wielding them in future lawsuits.

Microsoft has been known to get defendants to sign non-disclosure agreements and then coerce them into settlements. Since Microsoft refuses to offer specifics on which of its patents Linux specifically violates, industry experts have speculated that the software giant's claims might not hold up in court.

TomTom ended up paying Microsoft an unspecified amount for coverage related to the patents. As has been the case with past Microsoft lawsuit targets, TomTom decided to pay up rather than fight a lengthly legal battle.

Not surprisingly, Microsoft has a different view of what transpired. Microsoft says it has only used legal means to enforce its patents on two other occasions: In an August 2006 suit against Belkin, and in a July 2008 suit against Taiwan-based Primax Electronics.

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