Archive for February, 2013:

Learning MCSE 2012

The Comeback of MCSE 2012
What a comeback by Microsoft with the introduction of Windows Server 2012, Microsoft has also introduced the MCSE Exam again and this time the exam has been introduced by the name “MCSE: reinvented”. Microsoft, on high demand by IT Industry introduced its globally accepted MCSE, MCSA and MCSD certifications again. Though the certifications are back but now they have new designations like:

MCSA is now Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate
MCSE is now Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert

What’s New In It?
Microsoft changed the designation so that the certifications reflect better skills, knowledge and abilities that all candidates and IT professionals appearing for the certifications need to possess to manage and maintain technology in a better way. Microsoft reinvented the certifications so that they relate to technology upgrade in the market. This has been done by Microsoft to make IT professionals capable with modern skills to handle technology better. Microsoft has also added a requirement related to the recertification policy so that the already certified IT professionals also get up to date with the latest technology.

The New and Updated MCSE
Microsoft has introduced two new MCSE Certifications, and now MCSE has a new designation too which is Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert. These new certifications are based on the Windows Server 2012.

These certifications will be of great benefit to the IT professionals as they will get exposure of new knowledge which could be helpful to them for being successful in the IT industry. The training that candidates get under these certifications makes an IT professional open to new skills that they should have while working in modern IT Industry and environments of datacenters. Microsoft Certification Program which now has been reinvented has these two certifications in its latest category.

MCSE Certification makes the procedure easy for an IT Professional of getting hired as this makes the individual stand out in the crowd. For IT professionals, today is it very important to have certification in the field of interest and for the skills they possess as the certification proves to be guarantee of their capabilities. The MCSE certifications on Windows Server 2012 can help technology professionals to enable a modern work style and a cloud-optimized datacenter.

New Programs

MCSE Desktop Infrastructure Certification:
This certification has mainly been designed for the purpose of deploying and managing desktop and devices and this is in order to make the access to the services in the corporate world flexible and consistent enough with the desktop. This certification allows the IT professionals to shine in the organizations. This certification makes an IT professional master in skills related to desktop and its Virtualization, Virtualization of application and remote services.

MCSA: Windows Server 2012 (Prerequisite)
70-415 – Implementing a Desktop Infrastructure
70-416 – Implementing Desktop Application Environments

MCSE Server Infrastructure Certification:
This certification is for IT professionals and teaches them how to design, build and manage an efficient and smart data center. The exams included in this certification are:

MCSA: Windows Server 2012 (Prerequisite)
70-413 – Designing and Implementing a Server Infrastructure
70-414 – Implementing an Advanced Server Infrastructure


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Download S10-101 exam pdf demo Study Materials
1. What might be considered the most important criteria when designing an OLTP implementation for a financial services customer?
A. data integrity
B. data redundancy
C. disk latency of less than 15ms
D. high availability
Answer: A
2. From a business perspective a well managed archive is particularly important in which situation?
A. in the event of loss of power at the primary data center
B. when an administrator accidentally formats the wrong file system
C. in the event of litigation
D. when a user accidentally deletes an important email
Answer: C

 


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A new way to sell used IT equipment

MarkITx offers two-sided market for selling used IT gear

The buying and selling of used IT equipment is not a trivial market, but it doesn’t get enormous attention. In many cases, enterprises unload used equipment as a trade-in or at bargain price to a wholesaler because they just want the equipment off the floor.

A new Chicago-based startup says it has developed a system to help enterprises get as much value out of their old IT equipment as possible.

The company, MarkITx, is running an online system for selling equipment, but it’s not a new version of an eBay-like system. The seller and buyer remain invisible to each other, the money goes in escrow, and the transaction may even involve third-party vendors to refurbish equipment.

Ben Blair, the CTO of MarkITx, said the exchange works like “a two-sided market” rather than an auction. Buyers post what price they want to pay for particular piece of equipment, including condition and quantity. Sellers post the quantity and current condition of the equipment they are selling and what amount they want to receive for it.
IT industry

More in IT industry
Blair provided this example: A telecom operator wants to sell a few cabinets of Cisco Unified Computing System (UCS) systems for $2.1 million, and a financial exchange operator is seeking a UCS for their back office.

MarkITx puts a value on the equipment, and in this case it recommends selling the Cisco equipment at $1 million, based on a range of $800,000 to $1.2 million. The telco lists all their equipment at the suggested price, but each unit is listed as a separate item at its fair market value. If the buyer and seller agree on the price, the trade is executed automatically and the payment is put in escrow with MarkITx.

Once that happens, the telco is then given shipping instructions to an OEM- or ISO-certified refurbisher that MarkITx is working with. That third party inspects the equipment, test and verifies it, and the equipment is delivered to the buyer. When the buyer accepts the equipment, the funds in escrow are released.

MarkITx will also bring the equipment up to the condition that buyer wants. For example, a seller is offering 10 rack-mount LCD KVMs at $200 each but in “C” condition. However, the buyer wants them in “A” condition, with replaced back panels and polished glass. The refurbisher says it will cost $100 per unit to bring the equipment to “A” condition, and if the buyer is willing to pay $300 per unit, the trade executes.

Blair said the company, which began operating last May but just launched publicly this month, is clearing about $1 million in transactions a month. It has $5.5 million in supply on the market, and $13.5 million in demand, he said. The bulk of its customers are in telecom, data center, education and government. The company is paid by the seller through a default commission of 20%, but it has membership plans for lower commissions.

Blair believes there is an opportunity for the company because he says many enterprises are only interested in getting rid of their equipment, not in maximizing its potential resale value. They believe that once IT departments investigate the potential resale of some of the equipment through their market, their minds will change.

“[Wholesalers] make their spread off ignorance,” said Blair, who said his company’s model ensures offering transparency on price.

According to IDC, the market for used equipment in the U.S. is about $70 billion.

Joseph Pucciarelli, an analyst at IDC, said that a lot of companies are restrained on what they can spend on capital equipment, and purchase used equipment to augment their existing systems. In many cases, they buy used equipment to keep compatibility with existing systems as way to keep their “support footprint” from expanding, he said.

Pucciarelli said companies typicall will unload used equipment to an original equipment manaufacturer (OEM) as part of a trade-in on an upgrade.

The company doing the upgrade won’t get top dollar for their old IT equipment, but they may not see a selling alternative as worth their time, said Pucciarelli. Relative to the overall size of the transaction in an equipment upgrade, “you are talking about something that is pennies on the dollar [for the used systems,]” he said.


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Is it now crazy to offshore IT to China?

Mandiant report citing Chinese government's role in cyberattacks might give more pause to some U.S. companies

China has for years been developing an IT outsourcing industry aimed at bringing in business from the U.S. and Europe. It has succeeded, but then again it hasn’t thrived and now may face more barriers.

China’s IT and BPO outsourcing market today is in the range of $4 to $5 billion.

The total outsourcing revenue there is about half that generated by just one India’s largest IT firms, Tata Consultancy Services firms, said Jimit Arora, a vice president at Everest Group, a consulting and research firm.

China’s IT service and BPO market is expected to grow annually by around 20% to 25%, but that growth is off a small base, says Arora.

Ten years ago, there was wide expectation that China would emerge as India’s top threat in the IT services outsourcing business. Those expectations have been thwarted largely due to language issues and ongoing security concerns, say analysts.

China’s job building an IT and BPO outsourcing industry may have just gotten harder.

The blow-by-blow details of Chinese government espionage that arrived this week in a report by security firm Mandiant, lay bare, in ways never seen before, the extent of the security risks of working with China.

The Mandiant report draws a straight line to the Chinese military as a main instigator of cyberattacks on U.S. firms.

Meanwhile, the White House this week released a report with details on trade secret theft that makes numerous references to China, amplifying the extent of this problem.

Andy Sealock, a partner at consulting firm Pace Harmon, says the concerns about the security risks of outsourcing to China are already “priced into” and considered in the decision making process of U.S. firms. The latest revelations just add more evidence to “what many people already assumed was happening,” he said.

A potential wildcard is the U.S. response, if any, to the latest developments, analysts say.

“This onslaught of espionage targeting U.S. technologies is constant and unwavering,” said the White House in its report on mitigating the theft of U.S. trade secrets. Such attacks are increasing, concludes the White House.

Sealock said the U.S. may feel pressure to make “to make a public response to the threats and institute policies and sanctions that will make it more difficult to do business with China.”

Companies opposed to offshoring to China may now be less likely to change their minds. “This will just strengthen their resolve to stay away” from China, said Arora.

And for those companies considering China for outsourcing work, the “task has just become a bit harder,” said Arora.

James Slaby, who directs the security practice at HFS Research, says companies aren’t necessarily more at risk in China.

The security risks may be marginally greater there if the telecommunications equipment has been compromised with backdoors. How attacks on the equipment are mounted, though, is geographically independent, said Slaby.

The bottom line is that companies offshoring to China are “only embracing nominally more risks” as long as they are pursing best practices to protect corporate data, said Slaby.

Deploying basic security practices, “are more important than thinking about where you are physically located,” said Slaby.

Daniel Castro, an analyst at the Information Technology & Innovation Foundation, does not believe that “businesses will rethink their off-shoring decisions because of the Mandiant report, but they should all be taking a close look at their risk exposure and mitigation measures for these types of threats.”

 


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Microsoft’s Outlook.com comes out of preview phase

Microsoft’s Outlook.com comes out of preview phase
Hotmail users will be upgraded to the new email service by summer

Microsoft has moved its email service Outlook.com out of the preview phase, and plans a marketing campaign to boost its adoption worldwide.

The service, which claims 60 million active users since the preview was released last July, will soon start to upgrade Hotmail users to the new service, David Law, director of product management at Outlook.com, wrote in a blog post on Monday.

At launch of the preview, Microsoft said Outlook.com would eventually replace Hotmail. The migration of Hotmail users, which will be completed by summer, will be seamless, and users’ @hotmail.com email address, password, messages, folders, contacts, rules, vacation replies, and other features will stay the same, with no disruption in service, Law wrote. He did not specify a date when the transition would be complete. Users won’t have to switch to an @outlook.com address if they prefer not to, he added.

Microsoft is also launching a large-scale marketing campaign to promote the service worldwide, stating that it is confident that Outlook.com is ready to scale to a billion people.

“A number of people have expressed appreciation that Outlook.com replaces advertising with the latest updates from Facebook or Twitter when they’re reading email from one of their contacts,” Law wrote. On an average, people saw 60% fewer ads when using Outlook.com because they now get much more relevant updates from their friends, he added.

Microsoft launched recently a campaign against Gmail in the U.S., targeting Google’s alleged practice of going through the contents of all Gmail messages to sell and target advertisements. The “Don’t Get Scroogled by Gmail” campaign on Microsoft’s Scroogled.com promotes Outlook.com as an alternative to Gmail. Microsoft asked users to sign a petition to stop Google from going through personal email to sell ads.


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GoldKey Forms Partnership with Microsoft with Showcase at RSA Conference

 

Independence, MO – February 8, 2011 – GoldKey Security Corporation has formed a strategic partnership with Microsoft® promoting Microsoft features with the added security of GoldKey tokens. GoldKey solutions will be demonstrated in the Microsoft Partner Pavilion at the RSA Conference in San Francisco, February 14-18, 2011. The technology will also be featured in the GoldKey booth, #2051.

“Our partnership with Microsoft will not only give GoldKey customers an added layer of security, it will insure they receive first class service and support, especially when integrating GoldKey with Windows 7, Microsoft Cloud, and Active Directory”, says Jon Thomas, VP of Sales at GoldKey Security Corporation.

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GoldKey is an integrated security solution that incorporates twelve security strategies into a single device making it the most comprehensive solution on the market. GoldKey provides an additional layer of security for Microsoft Cloud, Windows 7, and Active Directory users.

GoldKey Multi-Factor Authentication for Microsoft Cloud

GoldKey can be leveraged as a secure multi-factor authentication device for many Microsoft® Cloud solutions. With native support in Windows® 7 and Microsoft Active Directory®, GoldKey allows you to take advantage of this progressive technology while ensuring only authorized key-holders will have access to your critical and confidential data.

Microsoft Windows 7 Lock with GoldKey

GoldKey has been designed to seamlessly integrate with the advanced security features already built into the Windows® 7 operating system. Organizations can quickly improve protection for every computer, encrypt any disk, safeguard email, simplify logins, secure files, and more – all without purchasing any additional software or drivers.


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Internet Explorer only? IE doubt it

Fewer businesses standardizing browser use on Internet Explorer, but the practice isn’t gone yet.

Just as Internet users in general have defected in huge numbers from Microsoft Internet Explorer over the past several years, the business world, as well, is becoming less dependent on the venerable browser.

Companies that used to mandate the use of IE for access to web resources are beginning to embrace a far more heterodox attitude toward web browsers. While it hasn’t gone away, the experience of having to use IE 6 to access some legacy in-house web app is becoming less common.

[BROWSER BATTLE: IE vs. Chrome vs. Firefox vs. Opera]

“Things have changed a lot in the last three years, and I think a lot of it has to do with the emergence of the modern web and the popularity of mobile. They have made it very different for companies to truly standardize on a browser,” says Gartner Research analyst David Mitchell Smith.

One example of the changing face of business browser use is SquareTwo Financial, a Denver-based financial services company that works primarily in distressed asset management. The firm’s 280 employees handle both consumer and commercial business, buying and selling debt, and a franchise program means that there are upwards of 1,500 more people working at SquareTwo affiliates. According to CTO Chris Reigrut, the company takes in roughly $280 million in annual revenue.

“In addition to buying and selling debt, we also provide a software-as-a-service platform that our franchises (and we) use to actually negotiate and litigate the debt,” he tells Network World.

Square Two hasn’t needed to standardize, he says, because keeping their offerings diverse is part of the idea – the company’s various online resources all have differing requirements.

“We do distribute Firefox on Windows systems – however, Safari and IE are both frequently used. Our internal wiki is only officially supported on Firefox and Safari. Our SaaS ‘client’ is a pre-packaged Firefox install so that it looks more like a traditional thick-client application. Most of our employees use their browser for a couple of internal systems, as well as several external services (i.e. HR, training, etc),” says Reigrut (who, like the other IT pros quoted in this story is a member of the CIO Executive Council Pathways program for leadership development).

The Microsoft faithful, however, are still out there. Many businesses have chosen to remain standardized on IE, for several reasons. SickKids, a children’s research hospital in Toronto, sticks with Microsoft’s browser mostly for the ease of applying updates.

“We have more than 7,000 end-point devices. Most of those devices are Windows workstations and Internet Explorer is included as part of the Microsoft Windows operating system. As such, this makes it easier and integrates well with our solution to manage and deploy upgrades, patches and hotfixes to the OS including IE,” says implementations director Peter Parsan.

“Internet Explorer is more than a browser, it is the foundation for Internet functionality in Windows,” he adds.

[MORE INTERNET EXPLORER: Internet Explorer flaws fixed by Microsoft Patch Tuesday updates]

The complexity of managing an ecosystem with more than 100 types of software – running the gamut from productivity applications to clinical programs – requires a heavily controlled approach, according to Parsan.

Smith agrees that IE still has its advantages for business users that want just such a strictly regimented technology infrastructure.

“If you want a managed, traditional IT environment … really, your only option is Internet Explorer,” he says, adding that both Firefox and Chrome lag behind IE in terms of effective centralized management tools.

Some companies, however, have gone a different way – standardizing not on IE, but on a competing browser.

Elliot Tally, senior director of enterprise apps for electronics manufacturer Sanmina, says his company’s employees are highly dependent on browsers for business-critical activities. Everything from ERP to document control (which he notes is “big for a manufacturing company”) to the supply chain is run from a web app.

Tally says Sanmina made the move to standardize on Chrome in 2009, in part because of a simultaneous switch to Gmail and Google Apps from IE and Microsoft products.

“It made sense to go with the browser created and supported by the company that created the apps we rely on. Also, Chrome installs in user space so it doesn’t require admin privileges to auto-update,” he says. “It also silently auto-updates, as opposed to Firefox, which requires a fresh install to update versions, or IE, which is similar. Chrome, over the last year or so, has supported web standards better than any other browser, and (until recently) has offered significantly better performance.”

Plainly, broad diversity exists both in the actual browsers used by workers and the approaches businesses have taken in managing their use.

That diversity, says Smith, is the reason Gartner has been advising clients against standardization from the outset.

“Standardize on standards, not browsers,” he urges. “That was a controversial position for 10 years. People really didn’t agree with it, they didn’t listen to it, and they paid the price.”

Microsoft, as well, has had to pay a price.

“[Standardization] hurts Microsoft’s reputation as an innovator; as a forward-thinker,” he says. “When people’s impression of using Microsoft technology – whether it’s a browser, whether it’s an operating system – is something that is two or three versions old, because they’re dealing with it through what enterprises want.”


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BYOD to Change the Face of IT in 2013

The “Bring Your Own Device” phenomenon, largely driven by Apple iPhones and iPads, is changing the face of IT departments, perhaps reaching a tipping point. If CIOs thought mobile devices presented challenges before, they haven’t seen anything yet.

[ALSO: BYOD keeps expanding and IT needs to deal with it]

“IT departments need to be service organizations,” says CTO Aaron Freimark at services firm Tekserve, which helps Fortune 1000 companies adopt Apple products. “The most conservative financial institutions are seeing all of these iPhones on their networks and accessing Exchange servers. We’re reaching a critical mass this year, when companies are forced to deal with it.”

MobileIron and iPass released a joint study, 2013 Mobile Enterprise Report, that found IT increasingly losing control of mobility budgets to other departments. In 2011, 53 percent of IT departments managed the mobile budget. This number dipped to 48 percent in 2012.

This year just might be the year of BYOD and the mobile workforce change how IT operates, or at least putting more emphasis on services. A new report from Forrester found that at least a quarter of a billion global information workers already practice BYOD in some form. A third of information workers want iPhones, or 208 million global information workers. Nearly the same amount want Windows tablets.

Along these lines, the Mobile Enterprise Report found that tablet usage increased in all non-executive departments between 2011 and 2012, with legal and HR seeing the biggest hike followed by finance and accounting.

Part of what’s driving BYOD is the emergence of next-generation workers, the Millennials. Many of these workers, between the ages of 18 and 29, are willing to blend work and personal lives, which goes hand-in-hand with BYOD. According to the Forrester report, the rise of “anytime, anywhere” workers in the United States and Europe grew from 15 percent to 28 percent of employees between 2011 and 2012.

Slideshow: 15 Best iPhone Apps for Newbies (2012)

What does this mean for CIOs? Change is in the wind, one that’s blowing toward becoming a service organization.

The top two sources of BYOD frustration for an IT department are onboarding and supporting an increasing number of devices, according to the Mobile Enterprise Report. The latter is one of the concerns that CTO Bill Murphy at financial services firm Blackstone Group has about supporting BYOD tablets beyond the iPad. (For more on this, check out How a Big Financial Services Firm Faced BYOD iPads.)

“Right now, the amount we do for our users as it relates to mobile devices is vast,” Murphy says. “If we had to support 15 types of devices, we wouldn’t have the staff to be able to handle it.”

Echoing the sentiments of Murphy, Freimark and others, the Forrester report states:

“For CIOs, BYOD is both an opportunity to outsource cost to employees and also a call to action to implement security models and application architectures that are device-agnostic. Only in this way can you get out of the business of device provisioning and into the business of service provisioning, and that’s where you can make a real difference in employee’s satisfaction and productivity.”


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Microsoft’s SkyDrive now stores 1B documents

Microsoft adds document-sharing link feature

Microsoft’s SkyDrive cloud storage service now has one billion Office documents stored in it, the company announced today.

While a billion may seem like a lot, the most popular consumer cloud storage service, Dropbox, has more than 100,000,000 users. According to the company’s information site, users save one billion files to Dropbox every 24 hours.

But along with Microsoft’s upload milestone news, Microsoft said it has added new features to SkyDrive that will make it easier to share content with others.

“Recently, we reached a big milestone; our customers are now storing over a billion Office documents on SkyDrive! We’re really excited about the feedback we’ve seen around the new version of Office and the deep integration of SkyDrive,” Sarah Filman, a Lead Program Manager on SkyDrive, wrote in a blog post.

Last week, Microsoft launched Office 365 Home Premium, which is tightly integrated with SkyDrive, offering an icon for saving and sharing documents through the cloud service.

Today, Microsoft announced a new feature in SkyDrive and the Office Web Apps that offers an easier way to share and edit documents by not requiring users to sign in with their Microsoft account.

In a feature similar to what other cloud storage vendors such as Dropbox already offer, Microsoft now gives users an edit link that can be used to give anyone access to a document at the same time.

Sharing a document link through SkyDrive

“One piece of feedback we’ve consistently heard, especially from students, is that our current SkyDrive edit links can be frustrating for recipients when they find that they need to sign in or sign up for a Microsoft account just to make a quick edit to the document,” Filman wrote.

Document originators can also limit who can view and edit their content by inviting specific people via their email addresses and checking the “Require user to sign-in” check box.


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Does PRINCE2® Training Increase My Income?

Project management qualifications such as PRINCE2, PMP and APMP have risen greatly over the past 10 years. A great many project management employment advertisements specifically look for one or more of the above qualifying criteria. This review explores if the available information supports the case for qualifying measures when considering wages and business choices for the individual project manager.

Presently there are three most valuable categories of qualifications that have all grown fast as businesses internationally have actually embraced project management as an effective core skill that require specialised professionals making use of most beneficial practice solutions.

PRINCE2
– Created in the uk by OGC
– Provides a methodical strategy to leading initiatives
– Project management working experience not essential
– PRINCE2 Foundation and Practitioner courses get ready people with regards to knowledge formulated assessments
– Related credentials consist of MSP programme management and MoR risk management

PMP
– The higher level qualification from the US Project Management Institute (PMI)
– Qualification necessitates a mix of proven expertise and also essential perception
– Great emphasis on enduring specialist progress

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APMP
– The United Kingdom version of the Level D International Project Management Association (IPMA) certification
– Several nationwide skilled professional organisations offer up their very own different versions
– Part of a hierarchy of project management certificates

Although these qualifications exist all over the world, their own use will vary by locality. Research in 2009 by Mateusz Jasny looked at the regularity each qualifying measures was requested in job vacancies.
In the United Kingdom there has been a remarkably significant practice of PRINCE2. This has been brought about within the public sector, that has a tendency when it comes to Information technology initiatives. Even so, nowadays there are PRINCE2 Professionals being employed in pretty much every industry area within just about all kinds of job. The PRINCE2 Principles, Themes, and Processes will be general and therefore are very broadly acceptable.

One specific regular impartial questionnaire carried out for Arras People in the UK assists to monitor the embrace of PRINCE2 qualification and it’s correlation with income or possibly contractor working day rates. The 2011 survey indicated that over fifty percent of all project managers obtained a PRINCE2 official recognition – though about 27% presented no professional project qualification.

PRINCE2 training courses and certification has a positive effect on income though the result can be seen as somewhat small. Everyone must keep in mind that there is also a regular criticism from anyone trying to get employment opportunities in the United Kingdom that they may under no circumstances be even considered until they happen to be Authorised PRINCE2 Experts. The official recognition is now so commonly followed that this is a pre-condition for many employment opportunities – although is normally not a major differentiator.

Further prognosis by John Thorpe of Arras comes various conclusions concerning a number of less widely followed project accreditations. APMP teaching and accreditation is linked to the average wage uplift of £10,000.

Much the same facts can be found by examining information from IT Jobs Watch. They presently illustrate on average project management salaries in the IT sector around £50,000 per annum. PRINCE2 rates are at the exact same level. Job opportunities mentioning PMI are £60,000.

The conclusion that there are various accreditations for example PRINCE2 Practitioner which have come to be required for project management career development and that you will find other ones which will help identify an individual’s skill sets is not unpredictable.

In associated areas for instance It there has been regular reports which have confirmed significant advantages due to official certifications. An IDC White Paper states that:

– Certified individuals are far more employable: “Sixty-three percent of hiring professionals have faith that accredited individuals are way more positive than certain non-certified competitors.”
– 43% experienced a pay increase as a result of earning their Microsoft professional official recognition.

During 2008 the Consultative Committee for Professional Management Organisations (CCPMO) inspected its 50,000 members. They found that individuals who have skilled professional qualifications and memberships boost the chances of becoming employed by 9%.
Evaluating life-long take-home pay, folks who hold skilled professional certifications attain 37% more on average than their fellow workers who are not qualified.

There are advantages from certification to employers likewise.
Individuals are usually more productive plus work to unfailing standards

– A commonly used vocabulary plus method aids teamwork within and between organisations
– There is an independent standard of skills that can be aimed to organisational skills frameworks.

There is visibly motivation both for people and also companies to embrace skilled qualifications.

A current Gartner report stated “over the next 3 years project management will become one of the top five major strategic issues that most managers will have to address to be successful”. The onward goal of PRINCE2 and various other professional qualifications appears to be set up to continue strongly throughout the next ten years.

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Internet Explorer flaws fixed by Microsoft Patch Tuesday updates

IE vulnerabilities offered hackers a one-two punch, expert says.

Microsoft says Internet Explorer versions 6 through 10 are subjects of two critical Patch Tuesday updates for February that could address recent Java woes.

Both critical patches address vulnerabilities that could give attackers access to client browsers and from there access to the underlying host, says Alex Horan a senior product manager at CORE Security. “Bulletins 1 and 2 target all versions of Internet Explorer on essentially all versions of Windows platforms, so it’s pretty much one-hack fits all in the Windows environment for attackers,” he says. “I expect a lot of interest in developing a working exploit for this vulnerability.”

[NEWS: Microsoft launches campaign against Gmail over privacy

HELP: 11 (FREE!) Microsoft tools to make life easier

NAVIGATE: 12 essential Windows 8 keyboard shortcuts]

Three less urgent patches ranked important could address flaws that enable the takeover of machines accessed via the Internet Explorer vulnerabilities, he says. “Bulletins 7, 8 and 9 seem to target the same underlying systems as Bulletins 1 and 2, which means hackers could phish users and then leverage 7, 8 and 9 to get system level control of their machines. That is essentially a worst case scenario and knockout punch for security personnel,” Horan says.

Another security expert Paul Henry, a security and forensic analyst for Lumension, says the two critical Internet Explorer problems could be linked to Java. “It’s possible that this is related to the recent and ongoing Java issues,” he says. “Microsoft has a very close relationship with Oracle, so it wouldn’t surprise me if these bulletins include Java patches.”

Regardless, they put unpatched machines in danger of falling to remote code execution exploits, Microsoft says, and may require restarting affected machines, something that will make installing the patches a longer exercise.

There are 12 patches in all this month, an uptick from the past few months, and they affect a wide range of Windows platforms from Windows XP to Windows RT, the new Windows 8 tablet operating system that runs on ARM processors. “It’s never a good sign when your current code base is impacted,” Henry says. This month’s 12 patches is the highest number since June 2011 when there were 16.

One remaining patch ranked important affects the FAST indexing server for SharePoint and is caused by an update to some Oracle libraries used for document conversion by Microsoft, says

The remaining bulletins are all rated important and are mostly “Local Elevation of Privilege” type of vulnerabilities, meaning that one already has to be on the targeted computer to be able to attack them. One exception is Bulletin 5, which can be used for Remote Code Execution. It affects the FAST Indexing server for SharePoint and it is also caused by Oracle’s update of the Outside In libraries that are used by Microsoft for document conversion processes, says Wolfgang Kandek, CTO for Qualys.


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Cisco fills out SDN family with 40G switch, controller, cloud gear for data center

Nexus 6000 designed for high-density 40G; InterCloud, for VM migration to hybrid clouds; ONE Controller for programming Cisco switches, routers

Cisco this week will fill out its programmable networking family with a new line of data center switches, cloud connectivity extensions and a software-based SDN controller.

The new products fill out Cisco’s ONE programmable networking strategy, which was unveiled last spring as the company’s answer to the software-defined networking trend pervading the industry. Cisco ONE includes APIs, controllers and agents, and overlay networking techniques designed to enable software programmability of Cisco switches and routers to ease operations, customize forwarding and more easily extend features, among other benefits.

This week’s data center SDN rollout comes after last week’s introduction of the programmable Catalyst 3850 switch for the enterprise campus.

The new Nexus 6000 includes two configurations: the four RU Nexus 6004 and the 1 RU 6001. The 6004 scales from 48 Layer 2/3 40Gbps Ethernet ports, all at line-rate Cisco says, to 96 40G ports through four expansion slots. The switch also supports 384 Layer 2/3 10G Ethernet ports at line-rate, and 1,536 Gigabit Ethernet/10G Ethernet ports using Cisco’s FEX fabric extenders.

The Nexus 6001 sports 48 10G ports and four 40G ports through the four expansion slots. The Nexus 6000 line features 1 microsecond port-to-port latency and support for up to 75,000 virtual machines on a single switch, Cisco says. It also supports FibreChannel-over-Ethernet tunneling on its 40G ports.

The Nexus 6000 will go up against 10G and 40G offerings in Arista Networks’ 7000 series switches, Dell’s Force10 switches and Juniper’s QFabric platforms. Cisco also announced 40G expansion modules for the Nexus 5500 top of rack switch and Nexus 2248PQ fabric extender to connect into the Nexus 6000 for 10G server access and 40G aggregation.

Cisco also unveiled the first service module for its Nexus 7000 core 10G data center switch. The Network Analysis Module-NX1 (NAM-NX1) provides visibility across physical, virtual and cloud resources, Cisco says, including Layer 2-7 deep packet inspection and performance analytics. A software version, called virtual NAM (vNAM), will also be available for deployment on a switch in the cloud.

For hybrid private/public cloud deployments, Cisco unveiled the Nexus 1000V InterCloud software. This runs in conjunction with the Nexus 1000V virtual switch on a server and provides a secure tunnel, using cryptography and firewalling, into the provider cloud for migration of VM workloads into the public cloud.

Once inside the public cloud, Nexus 1000V InterCloud provides a secure “container” to isolate the enterprise VMs from other tenants, essentially forming a Layer 2 virtual private cloud within the provider’s environment. The enterprise manages that container using Cisco’s Virtual Network Management Center InterCloud software on the customer Within the context of Cisco ONE, Nexus 1000V InterCloud is an overlay, while the Nexus 6000 is a physical scaling element for the virtual data center. A key core element of Cisco ONE is the new ONE Controller unveiled this week.

ONE Controller is software that runs on a standard x86 server. It controls the interaction between a Cisco network and the applications that run on it and manage it through a set of northbound and southbound APIs handling communication between those applications and the network.

Those APIs include Cisco’s onePK set, OpenFlow and others on the southbound side between the controller and the switches and routers; and REST, Java and others on the northbound side between the controller and Cisco, customer, ISV and open source applications.

Among the Cisco applications for the ONE Controller are a previously announced network slicing program for network partitioning; and two new ones: network tapping and customer forwarding.

Network tapping provides the ability to monitor, analyze and debug network flows; and custom forwarding allows operators to program specific forwarding rules across the network based on parameters like low latency.

Cisco also provided an update on the phased rollout of Cisco ONE across its product portfolio. OnePK platform APIs will be available on the ISR G2 and ASR 1000 routers, and Nexus 3000 switch in the first half of this year. They’ll be on the Nexus 7000 switch and ASR 9000 router in the second half of 2013.

OpenFlow agents will be on the Nexus 3000 in the first half of this year. This is in keeping with Cisco’s initial plan for OpenFlow, which was changed last spring to appear first on the Catalyst 3000. OpenFlow will now appear on the Catalyst 3000 and 6500, and Nexus 7000 switch and ARS 9000 router in the second half of this year.

For Cisco ONE overlay networks, the Cloud Services Router 1000V, which was also introduced last spring, is now slated to ship this quarter. It was expected in the fourth quarter of 2012. Microsoft Hyper-V support in the Nexus 1000V virtual switch will appear in the first half of this year, as will a VXLAN Gateway for the 1000V. KVM hypervisor support will emerge in the second half of this year.

As for the product announced this week, the Nexus 6004 will ship this quarter and is priced from $40,000 for 12 40G ports to $195,000 for 48 40G ports. The Nexus 6001 will ship in the first half of this year and pricing will be announced when it ships.

The 40G module for the Nexus 5000 series will ship in the first half, with pricing to come at that time. The 40G-enabled Nexus 2248PQ will cost $12,000 and ship in the first quarter.

The NAM-NX1 for the Nexus 7000 will ship in the first half with pricing to come at shipment. The vNAM will enter proof-of-concept trials in the first half.

The Cisco ONE Controller will also be available in the first half. Pricing will be announced when it ships.


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Microsoft Surface sales suck

Or do they? If you listen to some analysts, Surface, and other slates running Windows 8 or RT, started slow out of the gate. Considering how much tablets sapped PC shipments in Q4, slow forebodes trouble ahead. Or does it?

“There is no question that Microsoft is in this tablet race to compete for the long haul”, Ryan Reith, IDC program manager, says. “However, devices based upon its new Windows 8 and Windows RT operating systems failed to gain much ground during their launch quarter, and reaction to the company’s Surface with Windows RT tablet was muted at best”. He estimates that Microsoft shipped just 900,000 Surfaces during fourth quarter, which means to stores and not actual sales to customers.

That number sure looks low compared to any manufacturer in the top 5. Even lowly ASUS shipped 3.1 million units. But sell-through matters more. Except for about 10 days of the quarter, at retail, Surface sold exclusively through 66 retail shops in Canada and the United States. Apple offered iPad through an average 390 shops — 150 outside the United States. Accounting for online sales and doing some best guesstimates, I get 14,680 iPads sold per Apple Store and (assuming 600,000 units) 9,090 Surfaces per Microsoft shop.

However, when adjusting for actual sales days (Microsoft’s slate was available for only about two-thirds of the quarter), Surface-sell through averages out a little higher than iPad on a per-store basis. Meaning: Given limited distribution, Microsoft’s tablet sells better than IDC shipments suggest.

Size Matters
Microsoft’s problem is something else: Size. “We believe that Microsoft and its partners need to quickly adjust to the market realities of smaller screens and lower prices”, Reith emphasizes. That’s a polite way of saying Surface RT costs too much at $499 and Pro, for sale starting February 9, is already overpriced. But are they? Really?

According to NPD DisplaySearch, market demand shifts towards smaller, and lower-cost models. The firm forecasts that slates with 7-7.9-inch displays will account for 45 percent of shipments this year. By contrast, 9.7-inchers will fall to 17 percent — that’s the size of iPad, the category leader. But Apple offers the 7.9-inch iPad mini, whereas Microsoft and its partners offer nothing in this rapidly exploding size segment.

Apple tablets are pricey, too. Starting February 5, one iPad 4 will sell for $929. But fruit-logo pricing starts lower, at $329 for 16GB iPad with WiFi. Microsoft is locked lowest at $499 with a 10.6-inch slate. What the company needs more is a broader range of sizes and prices, the strategy competitors like Apple, ASUS and Samsung pursue. That would preserve current Surface pricing.

Such an approach doesn’t easily fit Microsoft’s current tablet strategy, which is all about making a traditional desktop operating system available on more form factors. But that’s not what the market wants today, when tablets displace some computer sales rather than replace PCs altogether.

Reith warns: “In the long run, consumers may grow to believe that high-end computing tablets with desktop operating systems are worth a higher premium than other tablets, but until then ASPs on Windows 8 and Windows RT devices need to come down to drive higher volumes”.

Give a Little
Simply stated: Working with partners, Microsoft must make gaining market share the top priority. Tablet shipments grew about 75 percent year over year and quarter on quarter to 52.5 million in Q4. Laptops lead the PC category, but NPD DislaySearch predicts that tablet shipments will exceed notebooks this year. Again, that’s not so much slates replacing PCs as displacing new sales, as capabilities overlap. Microsoft doesn’t want to be left behind Android and iOS slates. This is a platform war that nobody wants to lose.

 

ASUS tablet shipments grew 402.3 percent year over year and Samsung’s by 263 percent, according to IDC. These are phenomenal gains, and both companies offer models running Windows 8 or RT alongside Android. Something else: They also sell what Microsoft doesn’t — smaller slates with screens 7-7.9 inches. Short term, Microsoft’s options are limited with Surface. But working with partners, Microsoft could bring Windows RT to smaller screens. Such a strategy would preserve Surface pricing and Microsoft’s strategy around bringing desktop Windows to new devices.

But there’s a wrinkle. Android costs ASUS and Samsung nothing, and Apple realizes the cost of iOS through research and development. Whereas, Microsoft partners pay to license Windows RT. I wouldn’t recommend that Microsoft give tablet OEMs Windows for free, but co-marketing contributions and other incentives could temporarily make the fees essentially zero — on smaller slates.

Already Apple feels the pinch. In Q4, iPad shipment share fell to 43.6 percent from 51.7 percent a year earlier, even as volumes increased (22.9 million from 15.1 million), according to IDC. However, for the second quarter in a row, iPad share declined.

Apple’s falling tablet fortunes show just how dynamic is the segment, and that competitors can and will gain share. But for which platform? Android or Windows RT? Microsoft can answer the question, even in part, by adjusting its tablet strategy.


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