General

iPhone iS iHuge. iWant but iCan’t have. iPout, Not.

29 Jun , 2007  

If there’s one thing Apple knows how to do, it’s inspire customers. I was an Apple Mac user faithful from the first Mac Plus until I finally gave up the ghost and changed to Windows 95. Frankly, I tired of watching all my friends use Windows to do what I would like to do on my Mac but couldn’t, all the while I spend my time explaining to them that the Mac really was better. Not.

But Apple’s changed since then. They have their finger on the pulse of consumers, not just counter culture computer users. Apple is the new Pepsi Generation, but just a lot cooler and a lot more successful. Business isn’t their focus for sure. And so far, and for the foreseeable future, Apple will continue to thumb their noses at the corporate elite and keep right on serving the masses with great music, phone and computer consumer products. Those Apple products will make it into the corporation anyway so why deal with all the hassles that business, security and IT folks bring. At least that’s their philosophy and it seems to have worked so far. There’s something to be learned from this philosophy. You can’t make everyone happy, but the customers in your target market – delight them. Others will follow, and the rest don’t matter.

Apple knows their customers are passionate and faithful. Apple continues to come out with industry changing consumer products in music and now the consumer phone market. Will the iPhone have enough battery power? Probably not. I can barelykeep my Motorola Q running on one extended battery for a full day withall the email I get. Add to that playing music and the less than speedyCingular/ATT EDGE network for web access and it will probably needcharging twice or three times a day. But the faithful won’t care because their Apple phone is cool and they know everybody else wants one too.

And yes, the iPhone has limitations when it comes to corporate Exchange email integration, security features that IT and Corporate Security organizations want – it won’t matter at least not in the beginning. Either Apple or someone else will come along and address those needs. I hear my peers in the security and IT world talk about the iPhone being such a security concern. Answer: If iPhone security is that concerning to you, then you have a bigger problem in your security plan ’cause there are plenty of other devices on your network with just as many or more issues than the iPhone. The iPhone isn’t the last networkable device that’s going to throw a wrinkle in our security plans so rather than expecting the world to stop changing on us, we have to adopt strategies that assume things will change and we know how do deal with it.

I want an iPhone but I’m pretty sure it won’t meet my needs right now. I’ve gone through the "cool" phase with phones and PDAs and I’ve learned that small, light, good email integration, very good phone quality, and a little bit of Internet is what I like. GPS would be next on my list. Music? Great, but not if my battery won’t last because I need all of those other things first. I feel the same way about the MacBook Pro laptops. Sure, they now can run Windows and they are BSD based. But my world I work in is Windows and Linux which I have with XP, Vista and a big ol’ built in laptop hard drive with VMware and lots of OS images on it. A friend told me after having his Intel-based MacBook Pro for six months; "ya know, it’s surprising how little I use the Apple features and how much time I spend in Microsoft applications on my powerbook." Another business friend took the fastest Mac Pro desktop available and after less than two months, ditched OS X and installed Windows XP on it. You might want cool, but if it doesn’t work for you it’s going out the window pretty quick.

So I guess the lesson for me is that you can’t always get caught up in cool. Sometimes its worth it, but not when you know what you want or what you need. Sure, if an mp3 player fueled my everyday world then maybe, but that’s not the world like live in most of the time. mp3s for me are best when I’m sitting in front of a Fender Stratocaster playing some tunes. Now, speaking of cool… Let’s talk about Stratocasters! Got a minute?….

Security

3Com will be 2 com’s

28 Jun , 2007  

I guess they finally had enough at 3Com. Enough of the dual, schizophrenic personality. Or maybe it’s better described as the petulant teenager who just wouldn’t stop railing against being a part of the family. Tipping Point will get it’s way and be spun out on an IPO by years end according to an announcement from Edgar Masri, 3Com’s president and CEO. 

Ty_extreme_makeoverIn my view, it never was a fit. TippingPoint always saw themselves as the real acquirer in the deal, or maybe as Ty Pennington leading the Extreme Makeover – Home Edition of 3Com. The next generation to take over the company. And let’s face it, the integration of 3Com and TippingPoint never did happen, starting with TippingPoint being identified as a "3Com company".

I actually think this is a good move for both. TippingPoint has done well in the market and will do just as well through an IPO. When 3Com acquired them, there was no IPO options for tech companies. With their good market performance and at least a hope for positive IPO prospects, now is as good a time as any to split. And that’s probably the way to look at it. More like a divorce, where the two companies just didn’t end up with as much in common as they thought during the courtship. 3Com’s business is in the SMB market, and overseas. TippingPoint, is ASIC-based, enterprise IPS with a new smattering of NAC thrown in.

Apron_stringsBut now, 3Com has to stand up on their own two feet. No growing IPS market and TippingPoint to bolster them up. And that’s actually a good thing for 3Com. It will allow them to focus, kind of like empty-nesters. Time for the know-it-all rowdy teenagers to move out on their own, start paying their own bills and make their own way in the world.

3Com: "Honey, where’s the scissors? Time to cut those apron strings from lil’ Tippy. Good luck son. Your mother and I are going to do some traveling. Your going to be on your own."

Editor’s note: As a reader so aptly pointed out in a comment, Tipping Point was already a public company before being purchased by 3Com. Doh! My mistake, I forgot about that. Thanks for bringing that to my attention.

Uncategorized

Red Hat still open source leader – who’s next?

28 Jun , 2007  

I know we all have our own favorites when it comes to Linux versions ; SuSE, Fedora (Red Hat’s base), Ubuntu, Debian, etc., etc., and it is great to see the increasing value that Linux brings to customers everyday. But you have to really hand it to Red Hat for paving the way, showing how an open source company can be built around an operating system product that was free to everyone to begin with.

Red Hat announced their Q1 07 results with robust revenue increase of 40%, or $118.9m. Most companies would give their left arm to see strong performance like this. And while there are still any number of variants for servers, desktops, etc. Red Hat Enterprise really is the standard for enterprise servers around the world.  Essentially Red Hat is to the Linux market, what Microsoft is to the Windows market, but without all the domineering bravado and other entanglements that come with Microsoft.

The question is, who will be the next big open source company. After Sourcefire’s misfire earlier this year, they aren’t the darling child of open source, certainly at least not yet – they’ll have to get out from under their lawsuits, demonstrate their revenues numbers aren’t dependent on one big customer deal, and show sustainable strong financial performance. Many say it’s MySQL who did a pre-IPO roadshow earlier this year. Analysts are predicting a valuation between $600m and $1B. That would be quite a deal, showing their decision to reject courting from Oracle was the right thing to do. (BusinessWeek has some really nice background on MySQL for those interested.) My personal experience with MySQL has been a bit mixed. Overall it is a very solid database and a great option for Linux databases (especially compared to the price of other options) but there are some performance limits when it comes to very large databases. Recent releases from MySQL have helped that a bit.

But I digress. Red Hat still is the poster child of open source companies even with their stock taking some hits due to competition. No one has risen near to challenge them for the top position as the open source market leader.

Uncategorized

Matt says we actually agree about OSS Pink Elephants

25 Jun , 2007  

I received a comment from Matt Asay about my Open Source Pink Elephants and Turning Back Time post and I thought rather than leave it buried on the permalink page I’d bring it to the front page. Here is Matt’s comment in full:

Mitchell: I understand and 100%support your point. I’m just not sure how you found me on the otherside of the aisle. I’m in full agreement with you. I have been on therecord (see http://weblog.infoworld.com/openresource/archives/2007/03/why_freedom_mat.html)over and over (and over – see http://weblog.infoworld.com/openresource/archives/2007/03/more_on_what_co.html)(and over – see http://weblog.infoworld.com/openresource/archives/2006/01/the_semasiology.html)as saying that an open source company is one that:…as its corerevenue-generating business, actively produces, distributes, and sells(or sells services around) software under an OSI-approved license.Notone that adds proprietary extensions to OSI-approved open sourcelicensed software. 100% open source.

So, again, while I appreciate your point, I don’t like being used asanti-example to your point, because the entirety of my opinion is inalignment.

First, let me thank Matt for taking the time to read and comment. What I discern from Matt’s comment is that he also is not in favor of vendors who use an OSI approved license, like the GPL, and then apply their own preambles to the license (a.k.a. Sourcefire’s 3.0 license preamble) or layer on additional restrictions like many GPL based vendor products do.

I’ve emailed Matt privately with some additional thoughts and asked for his comments to see if we are in agreement against this practice. I’ll wait to hear back from Matt, if I can, and then add some more thoughts to my blog on this topic.

The real question here is, is GPL’d software really open to everybody, as it says in the license, or do vendors get try and have it both ways – it’s open as long as you aren’t a competitor. That’s really what’s happening with manipulation of the GPL by OSS Pink Elephant vendors. If the OSI organization wants to police the definition of open source, this is where the most confusion exists and a great place to start.

Network

Cobia receives official VMware certification

25 Jun , 2007  

This week we announced that Cobia is officially certified by VMware as a Certified VMware Virtual Appliance. VMware has a pretty rigorous process where they look closing at how your product is configured for and using VMware. Various Cobia configure settings were reviewed and optimized, and they also checked to make sure Cobia is fully compatible and stable on VMware products.

We’ve been shipping Cobia as a VMware download for quite some time. As a result of the certification process, we were able to consolidate our VMware download images for Windows and Linux into a single download file for VMware (all settings are now common to both OS’s.) We also updated some of the Cobia documentation for VMware installations and various settings and software options that help make the most out of Cobia on VMware.

The significance of this announcement is that users can comfortably run Cobia in VMware in their networks, for firewalling, routing, DHCP and future network, security, VoIP and video services.

Vitualization is not only impacting the way we design and run data centers but will have the same impact on networking and security and other networking applications. Virtualization is something I’ve designed into Cobia from its very beginning and we have significant virtualization capabilities in the works beyond running Cobia in VMware.

Check out Cobia’s VMware download at http://cobia.stillsecure.com.

Uncategorized

Anti-Malware agent for Microsoft IE browser

25 Jun , 2007  

CanarySymantec’s let the "canary" out of the bag about a new product, code named canary, which will monitor attempts to exploit vulnerabilities or run malicious code within your Microsoft IE browser (and later Firefox and Safari). Here’s some questions that came to me (late at night) and a few of my thoughts on this:

1. Will we see application specific anti-malware products? Maybe, if it becomes commonplace that users systems, personal data or private information is compromised. We all run AV software as much because of the hassle it is to remove malware. If you’ve experience identify theft then you know what a hassle that is. If there’s a big enough pain point for customers out there, they’ll buy. It’s hard to say that browsers pose a big enough problem at this point though.

2. Won’t Microsoft, Firefox and others just build this into their products to start with? Yes. That’s really how it should be done in the first place. Can you imagine with every browser code update, the potential for compatibility problems between it and the canary-like browser anti-malware products? The first time it crashes the browser after an update, it will get uninstalled.

3. Is Symantec really onto something or are they just trying to recreate the need for the next gen anti-X product? Yes, and yes. In essense what we are talking about here is an application/HIPS+firewall for your browser. But given Symantec’s strategy built upon chaos theory, it’s more likely they are looking for the next anti-X market vs. really being onto something new.

4. Won’t this just slow down my Internet surfing speed like all other Symantec products? The past is the best indicator of the future. You answer the question.

5. Will McAfee announce their "Sylvester product" so they don’t get left out in the cold on this new potential market? Maybe, but I doubt it – at least they won’t rush into it. They actually have a strategy instead of just making it up as they go so I would expect that if McAfee takes this on, it will be because they agree there’s a market, not just as a defensive measure against Symnatec.

Network

Linux Home Networking

25 Jun , 2007  

Linux_quick_fix_notebookFor those of you who are do-it-yourselfers that always wanted to learn Linux but didn’t have the time, there’s a very nice site called Linux Home Networking. Created by Peter Harrison, author of the book Linux Quick Fix Notebook, this wiki site reads like a good intro book on how to set up Linux networking. Everything from the basics of setting up IP address information on your nics to using Linux to create your own hosting server.

There are a lot of books out there on the subject but I thought I’d pass along this site to anyone considering learning Linux. Now I’d be remiss if I also didn’t mention that much of what this wiki site covers are also things that Cobia can do for you without requiring you know Linux or spend any time "ice fishing" on the Linux command line. Best of luck!

Mobility

iWon’t iPhone

25 Jun , 2007  

I’ve heard it come up several times in the last week or so; should i get an Apple iPhone? Many are at least giving it some thought. Now, I’m as big a gadget guy as the next person, just ask my family and friends. And while the iPhone is cool (i blogged about it when it came out), I just can’t see giving up something that works (my Motorola Q) for something with less capabilities, and pay $599 to boot.

So as I usually do with brand new Apple products, i’ll sit this one out until Apple takes the time to get the product right and then I’ll consider it.

Uncategorized

Open source pink elephants and turning back time

21 Jun , 2007  

Pink_elephant1. The real pink elephant in the room. If defending the OSI’s definition of the term open source is so important, why is Michael Tiemann turning a blind eye to so many that use a license such as the GPL but then add their own licensing restrictions, riders or term definitions that effectively change core tenants of the license itself. Doing so negates elements within the license and OSI’s definition.

Those additional license "riders" are there to both limit and control the use and distribution of open source software to a subset of users, effectively discriminating against a group of users. Doing this directly goes against both a provision within the GPL2 license, section 6 which restricts you from changing the GPL, "You may not impose any further restrictions on the recipients’ exercise of the rights granted herein" and OSI’s own open source definition, #5. The license must not discriminate against any person or group of persons.

At the same time, OSI board member Matt Asay holds up companies who follow these practices as model examples of OSI citizens. I don’t think so folks. You don’t get to have it both ways. You can’t use an OSI license, claim to be an open source purist and then turn right around and add additional restrictions that alter core aspects of the license. The sum total doesn’t retain what you started with. Splitting hairs still results in split hair. So if software is using an OSI compliant license but modifies it by adding additional restrictions that change the use, distribution or source code aspects, then then it’s a different license, not a license certified by OSI. Lets stop call it so. We all see the pink elephant in the room.

2. It’s about the market, not an organization. My experience is the same as so many of those who have commented on Slashdot about the OSI definition debate. Users don’t much care. Open source = free software + source code.

Turn_back_the_clock_2OSI lost their ability to control the definition of open source long ago by not enforcing it and dropping their attempts to trademark the term open source. Anyone who knows trademark law knows the most important factor in trademarks is enforcing them. After the fact catch up attempts fail.

The market has moved on and taken over where OSI left off. The market defines opens source now and we can’t turn back the clock. Open source has evolved beyond just OSI’s definition or any single license, into a broader spectrum of software, free use and source code options. Putting that genie back in the bottle isn’t likely to happen given even the best attempts.

Lets put our efforts into moving forward instead of preserving a place in history we no longer live in. Open source is a big tent and there’s lots of room for all of us in it.

Uncategorized

Microsoft’s virtual position on virtualization

20 Jun , 2007  

Song_remains_the_sameSo can you virtualize Microsoft Vista or not? ZDNet says we’re still back at square .5 where Microsoft’s licensing only allows running virtual instances of Vista if they are the Business or Ultimate versions. But it looked like we were close to a change in policy. Microsoft briefed reporters earlier this week that the policy would change and virtualization would be supported in the license for all four Vista versions.

Then in a flip-flog that would make a seasoned politician feel all warm inside, Microsoft pulled the plug on the announcement and now states that nothing will change. So what happened? Did they pull in the reigns on the "new guy"? Did Bill Gates call up and remind the home team that Apple is the enemy? Did they fix a bug in Excel that suddenly showed they’d lose some revenue if the change was made?

The answer, in a word… $$$. Of course. Why else limit being able virtualize two of the four Vista versions. Microsoft claimed security concerns. Security over their revenue projections maybe. Virtualizing Vista Home and Home Premium is no more a security risk than Vista Business or Ultimate. There’s no extras in those two versions that provide any additional security. It’s about $$$.

The real mystery here, deserving of a full investigation by Nancy Drew, is why Microsoft was considering the change in the first place. Until further notice, the song remains the same.