CRN News Briefs, April 10, 2006


SALESFORCE.COM CRASHES AGAIN
Salesforce.com suffered a serious crash that left its hosted CRM service unreachable for much of last Thursday, an outage that came just one day after the company issued a press release hailing its high uptime over the past month.

Customer reports suggested that the outage lasted several hours. The company attributed the problem to a cache server overload and posted an apology for the outage on its status Web site. “It took some heavy diagnostics to get to the cause, but we’re satisfied we know exactly what happened,” Bruce Francis, vice president of corporate at Salesforce.com, told CRN last week.

The outage comes as the company is trying to shake off questions that arose about its reliability after a spate of major outages in December and January.

During a conference call in February, CEO Marc Benioff attributed those problems to a new infrastructure that was swapped in during the period and said that, as a result, Salesforce.com plans to devote $1 million to $1.5 million to research and development quarterly to bolster the architecture that will, in theory, help Salesforce.com become what Benioff calls “the eBay of enterprise applications.”

MICROSOFT BOOSTS BI PRODUCT LINE WITH PROCLARITY BUY
Microsoft scooped up one of its longtime partners last week, announcing a deal to buy analytics software maker ProClarity for an undisclosed sum. ProClarity, a Microsoft Gold ISV partner, sells business intelligence tools that run atop Microsoft infrastructure software such as SQL Server 2005.

Microsoft and ProClarity already have 1,200 joint customers as well as sales teams that are used to collaborating with each other. Plans for how ProClarity’s technology will be integrated with Microsoft’s are still being worked out, but the expectation is that Microsoft’s partner channel will ultimately be able to sell software from ProClarity’s Analytics 6 suite alongside other Microsoft products, said Alex Payne, a product manager with Microsoft’s Office business applications groups.

“The existing ProClarity products should continue on for some time,” Payne said, while adding the caveat that firm product plans won’t be made until after the acquisition deal closes. “As we go into the next generation of technology, you’ll start to see the functionality that we’ve acquired moving into other Microsoft business intelligence product offerings.”

ProClarity has a staff of 140, most of whom Microsoft expects to stay on after the close of the acquisition, expected in early May. More detailed product road maps and channel plans will be available shortly after the close, Payne said.

N-ABLE ADDS MAC SUPPORT TO MSP PORTFOLIO
MSP platform vendor N-able Technologies plans to add support for Apple Macintosh operating systems in the second quarter of this year, the company said last week. N-able’s modular Velocity System MSP product and flagship N-central 5.1 MSP product will each begin shipping with native Mac OS X agents that will allow Mac PCs and servers to come under the remote management umbrellas of the two products, said Bill Stewart, vice president of marketing at N-able.

In much the same way that N-able’s products currently support MSP offerings for Windows-based networks, the Mac-enabled products will allow MSPs to monitor the status of Mac workstations and servers, send alerts, and deliver network status reports, Stewart said. Mac systems typically exist within predominantly Windows networks, and N-able will soon have a way to bring remote management of these blended networks to a single platform and user console, he added. Pricing for the Mac products has not been announced yet.

N-able is not the first MSP platform vendor to offer Mac support, said Marcial Velez, president of Xperteks Computer Consultancy, a Mac-focused solution provider and MSP who uses a Mac-ready product from N-able rival SilverBack Technologies.

SAP TO ACQUIRE COMPLIANCE SOFTWARE MAKER VIRSA
SAP last week agreed to acquire compliance software maker and close partner Virsa Systems in an all-cash transaction slated to close in May. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Virsa’s Continuous Compliance Suite monitoring and controls software helps users comply with regulatory requirements like the Sarbanes-Oxley Act and HIPAA. Its software can be used in conjunction with ERP applications from multiple vendors, including both SAP and Oracle, although Virsa’s ties to SAP are particularly tight. SAP has been reselling Virsa’s flagship Compliance Calibrator security controls software since last March as an add-on to its mySAP ERP system, and also invested in Virsa and uses its software internally.

SAP is still working out its plans for Virsa and declined to comment on whether it intends to make Virsa’s software available to its channel partners. SAP plans to fill in its Virsa road map at its annual Sapphire user conferences in Orlando and Paris in May, according to a company spokesman.

One open question is how committed SAP will be to preserving Virsa’s multiplatform support. The spokesman suggested that SAP may use Virsa as a beachhead for attacking its Oracle ERP accounts.

MOTOROLA, SONY TEAM FOR WIRELESS MESH VIDEO CAMERAS
Motorola and Sony Electronics are joining forces to offer wireless mesh-enabled IP video cameras.

The new offering will help streamline deployment of IP video surveillance solutions for municipal rollouts, a Motorola spokeswoman said.
Motorola plans to sell the equipment through its wireless mesh channel partners and recruit new security VARs, she said. Later this year, the company also plans to launch a new, more comprehensive channel program that will include its mesh and video infrastructure products, she added.

Under the pact, Sony’s Ipela SNC-RX550N/W-MT and SNC-RX550N/B-MT cameras will have drivers that enable them to operate with Motorola’s Motomesh-enabled Wireless Modem Cards. The cameras then can act as integrated router/repeaters in a mesh network on the licensed 4.9GHz public safety or unlicensed 2.4GHz frequencies without requiring an outside router to connect to the network, the spokeswoman said.

The companies demonstrated the products last week at the CTIA Wireless 2006 and International Security Conference West shows in Las Vegas.

Motorola plans to ship in May multiple kits under the Mesh Camera Wireless Video Networking System name that combine its wireless modem cards, Sony’s cameras and outdoor domes and mounting equipment. A kit with four cameras, four wireless modem cards, outdoor mounting kits and management software from Sony will sell for about $37,000. Single cameras with modem cards and outdoor equipment will sell for roughly $5,800.