Briefs: September 12, 2005


Cerf, who helped design the ubiquitous TCP/IP protocol, has been with MCI on and off since 1982. He took a sabbatical to work at the Corporation for National Research Initiatives from 1986 to 1994, and on his return to MCI in 1994, he helped lead the telecommunications company&s Internet work. In 2004, Cerf shared the prestigious A.M. Turing Award with Robert Kahn for his work in networking. Cerf is also a past CRN Industry Hall of Fame inductee.

Cerf&s move to join Google somewhat overshadows the Mountain View, Calif.-based company&s contentious attempt to hire scientist Kai-Fu Lee from rival Microsoft. Microsoft has sued Google over the matter, and a ruling is expected this week.

Cerf is still involved with the NASA Jet Propulsion Lab&s Interplanetary Network, and he will remain chairman of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers.

Sun Microsystems, which said last month that it plans to overhaul all its partner programs, last week started with a new effort for ISVs.

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Details about how Sun will work with solution provider and systems integrator partners should be revealed later this year, said Steven Borcich, vice president of partner marketing at the Santa Clara, Calif.-based vendor.

The new program has four tiers based on partner commitment to Sun. Benefits to the ISV range from simple product and event information to marketing tools and events for ISVs that port products to a Sun technology such as Solaris on x86. Other special channel and partner activities will be available for those that commit to two or more Sun technologies, while a handful of elite partners will receive early access to new hardware.

IBM Software last week had a collective unveiling for the new editions of Domino and Notes and for its new executive in charge of collaboration technology.

IBM trotted out Mike Rhodin, the new general manager of its Workplace, Portal and Collaboration group, to announce availability of the new client and server software and to stress that the road does not end here.

Rhodin replaces Ambuj Goyal, who has taken over IBM&s Information Management Group.

As expected, the Notes and Domino 7 upgrades are out and about, at least for Passport Advantage volume purchasers and some partners. Wide availability is slated for later this month.

IBM also claimed 500 “competitive wins” (75 percent of which were partner-led) over rival offerings and showcased a customer that had switched from Exchange Server 5.5 to Domino.

To be fair, Microsoft touts Domino-to-Exchange conversions as well. The two companies are vying for the top spot in e-mail installed base, but most integrators say there is not much full-scale migration either way.

Microsoft has promised SP2 for Exchange Server 2003, with some major perks, later this year. It will be followed by the Exchange 12 release to be synched up with Office 12 next year.

Cisco Systems last week confirmed that routers and other devices running the newest versions of its Internetwork Operating System (IOS) are vulnerable to serious attack.

The San Jose, Calif.-based network hardware vendor published a security advisory and recommended that users either upgrade to alternate editions or install fixed versions of IOS.

Security giant Symantec immediately raised its overall Internet threat to Level 2 from Level 1. The last time Symantec set its threat level to Level 2 was during the Zotob attacks of August.

The flaw is in the Firewall Authentication Proxy for FTP and/or Telnet sessions in IOS versions 12.2 through 12.4. The flaw might result in either a denial-of-service attack, which likely would bring down the device, or possibly a more dangerous scenario, where the attacker gains complete control of the device—or both possibilities.

According to Cisco, an attacker could take advantage of this vulnerability by completing a TCP connection to a device running IOS and launching the exploit while the device is authenticating the user.

If upgrades or patched versions of IOS can&t be deployed, Cisco recommended that customers disable the firewall authentication feature for Telnet and FTP sessions and instead deploy firewall authentication for HTTP and HTTPS sessions. Other workarounds and mitigating strategies were included in the Cisco advisory.

Cisco&s operating system has taken a beating this summer, primarily after a researcher spilled details of a new exploit technique that could knock out much of the Internet&s Cisco-based infrastructure. Cisco used a heavy hand, including legal action, to stifle the researcher.

The WAN optimization market continues to heat up as F5 Networks last week unveiled plans to acquire rival Swan Labs in a $43 million deal.

Earlier this year, Juniper Networks jumped into the fray with its acquisitions of Peribit Networks and Redline Networks, Cisco Systems added FineGround to its stable, and Citrix Systems made a similar play by snapping up NetScaler.

The acquisition, slated to close next quarter, adds Swan Labs& WAN optimization and acceleration appliances—including technology for branch offices and application-specific optimization—to F5&s traffic management portfolio.

The cash transaction is subject to customary closing conditions, including acceptance of employment with Seattle-based F5 by certain Swan Labs employees, according to F5.

Japanese mobile software vendor Access Co. last week said it will acquire troubled Palm OS developer PalmSource.

The cash transaction expected to close by year&s end will be worth about $324 million, the companies said. Access develops the NetFront Web browser for mobile devices and software for delivering digital content. Since spinning off from corporate sibling Palm, PalmSource has faced an uphill battle against much larger competition, particularly Symbian and Microsoft. PalmSource is in the midst of porting the Palm OS to Linux. It acquired the expertise for the platform migration with its recent purchase of China MobileSoft, a move that also positions it to do well in the Chinese market.

Palm, which has been PalmSource&s largest customer, expressed support. “Access is currently a software technology partner [of Palm&s], and we look forward to continuing our strong working relationship to advance the Palm OS platform,” said Palm President Ed Colligan in a statement.

However, while Palm has a long-term contract to use the Palm OS, it also reportedly is set to release a Windows Mobile version of its popular Treo smartphone.