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Opinion: Open-source apps losing desktop . . .

Opinion: Open-source apps losing desktop . . .

OPEN-source apps losing desktop . . . . . battle with Microsoft. In fact, one wonders whether there's been a skirmish at all. For more than two years, open-source advocates have been furiously throwing alternatives into the market to compete against the Windows/Office combo, with little or nothing to show for their efforts. OpenOffice and StarOffice have been the most notable attempts, the latter pushed hard by Sun Microsystems Inc. These office productivity tools run on Linux, of course, and, for all intents and purposes, have been free for the taking. Yet, despite some of the toughest, most cost-constrained years in IT history, "it's pretty hard to come up with data that shows any traction from these products," as Alan Yates, Microsoft's senior director for business strategy, carefully puts it. That's an understatement. How has Microsoft defended its desktop turf against freebie competitors? By focusing on cost, says Yates. "Given the focus of the entire business world on cost recently, it's natural for people to focus on low-cost alternatives," he says. "We ourselves position Office as having the lowest TCO on the market." Switching to open-source productivity tools would cost you plenty in new deployment fees, user training, file conversion and more. That's an argument that clearly resonates inside IT shops, or else they would have embraced open-source on the desktop much as they have on servers, where Linux, Apache, MySQL and other tools are giving Microsoft a run for its money. But Microsoft owns the desktop, and the open-source folks might as well give up the silly game.

Open-Source ServerManagement . . .

. . . becomes more critical as deployment spreads. With more big companies shifting apps to Linux servers, the need to manage those machines and their software stacks has become paramount. To the rescue comes Hyperic LLC in San Francisco, which ships Hyperic HQ to monitor and control the major open-source server tools, such as Apache, JBoss, Linux, MySQL and Tomcat. Mark Douglas, president of the 3-month-old company, says his 100 percent Java app, which is free for developers beginning this week, gives you everything from JDBC connection management between your database and application servers to end-to-end performance metrics between end users and Web servers. Currently, Hyperic HQ feeds alerts into its own browser-based console or into a Tivoli management system. But if you wanted those alerts aimed at BMC Patrol or HP OpenView, says Douglas, "we'd be happy to do it. It's not hard." Pricing is US$65 per month per production machine.

Voice-Over-IP Spam Threat . . .

. . . is real, suggests Richard Tworek, CEO of Qovia Inc., a Frederick, Md.-based VoIP management firm. That's something you certainly didn't want to hear. But technically, it can be done, says Tworek. So, will the idea of VoIP spam deter you from deploying it? Not likely. Already, VoIP-ready private branch exchanges are outselling the old-fashioned kind because the appeal of avoiding toll charges and taking advantage of benefits like unified messaging services and simpler wiring layouts outweighs potential problems. Besides, Tworek claims, his company's VoIP Monitoring and Management System (VMMS) will be able to squelch spam if it ever becomes a problem. The VMMS already handles disaster recovery, path analysis, call quality and other management operations of traditional PBXs. Qovia's VMMS currently runs on Windows, but expect a Solaris-based version by year's end.

OptimalJ Upgrade Eases Java . . .

. . . code testing for programmers. And that's a boost for companies creating enterprisewide applications using Java -- the number of which Gartner Inc. predicts will grow 300 percent by 2008. According to Mike Burba, launch manager at Compuware Corp. in Detroit, the OptimalJ 3.2 release in mid-July will give programmers "model-driven testing, which simplifies their ability to generate test scripts for their code." The upgrade also adds a plug-in for the open-source Eclipse developer framework, includes complete application-analysis tools and adds support for the IBM Rational ClearCase source-control system, among other improvements. OptimalJ 3.2 comes in Developer, Professional and Architect editions.

Symantec Nails Non-English Spam . . .

. . . with Brightmail 6.0, which ships on June 30. With up to 20 percent of the world's spam targeting non-English speakers, Symantec Corp. in Cupertino, Calif., thinks global companies will like the latest release of its recently acquired technology that stops spam in 11 languages. They may also appreciate improvements to its suspect-source and safe-source IP list filters, message-blocking determined by attachment signatures, and significant upgrades to its management console, which is now fully browser-based. Pricing starts at $1,399 per year for 49 users.


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