5 Companies That Dropped The Ball This Week

Oracle Hit Hard In Q3 As Software, Cloud, Hardware Sales Disappoint

Oracle's fiscal third quarter results had some investors fleeing for the exits, sending shares down more than 8 percent in the wake of the vendor's Q3 earnings announcement.

Oracle was expecting software and cloud revenue to grow 3 to 13 percent, but instead saw it drop 2 percent year over year. Hardware sales dropped 23 percent, compared to Oracle's expectation of flat to down 10 percent.

Despite the sub-par results, Oracle executives painted a rosy picture for the future. Oracle later this month will start shipping servers based on its new SPARC T5 microprocessor, and CEO Larry Ellison said this will help Oracle get back on track. "Next year will be a big growth year for our hardware business," he said on the earnings call.

VMware Struggles With Hybrid Cloud Test Drive Issues

VMware's Hybrid Cloud Evaluation, a service first unveiled last August that lets users take a "test drive" on a VMware-powered public cloud run by an anonymous partner, isn't quite ready for prime time. VMware launched a 90-day free trial of the service earlier this month, but a flood of demand led to some users waiting hours, even days, for their service to be provisioned.

VMware told CRN it's working on the problem and apologized for the provisioning delays. While the Hybrid Cloud Evaluation isn't the VMware-managed hybrid cloud service unveiled earlier this month, it's still a litmus test for VMware's cloud capabilities, and is thus being closely watched by competitors.

Google Outage Takes Down Cloud Storage Service

Google Drive, the cloud-based storage service, went out of commission for more than four hours in an outage that impacted "a significant subset of users," the company later acknowledged.

Google apologized for the outage but didn't offer much in the way of detail about what caused it. While outages are a reality in the cloud, and Google Drive is a free service, a little more information probably would have helped clarify this particular issue in the minds of users.

Massachusetts Looking To Tax Computer Services

Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick (pictured), in the state's proposed fiscal 2014 budget, is advocating for a new tax on computer services. The proposed tax would impose a 4.5 percent levy against a wide variety of business-to-business IT services, and it would generate an estimated $265 million in revenue.

Unsurprisingly, IT solution providers aren't thrilled about the idea.

"This really frosts me," Mont Phelps, the Boston-based CEO of NWN Corporation, told CRN. "IT is part of the solution, not part of the problem. They want to take money out of this industry to show that they can."

Cisco Warns Of Password Vulnerability in Routers, Switches

Cisco is warning of serious password weaknesses in some of its routers, switches and appliances that could make them susceptible to brute-force attacks.

The company claims a limited number of Cisco IOS and Cisco IOS XE releases fail to salt passwords, instead encrypting the plain text password using the SHA-256 cryptographic hash function. This lack of salting opens the door to brute-force attacks from automated tools, Cisco acknowledged in a security advisory.