Category: Products

Microsoft moves server software to per-core licensing

microsoft-in-chinaMicrosoft seems set to move its Windows Server 2016 to a per-core licensing system.

Windows Server will not arrive until the second half of next year, but Vole will probably change the way it licenses its server operating system.  Currently Microsoft uses a per socket licensing system, but now it wants to charge per core.

Windows Server 2012’s two main editions, Standard and Datacenter, had identical features, and differed only in terms of the number of virtual operating system instances they supported. Standard supported two virtual machines while the Datacenter product was unlimited. Licenses for both editions were sold in two socket units and a license was needed for each pair of sockets a system contained.

What appears to be happening with Windows Server 2016 is that this simple system is going to become more complex. There will be functional differences between Standard and Datacenter editions. Datacenter will gain additional storage replication capabilities, a new network stack with richer virtualisation options, and shielded virtual machines that protect the content of a virtual machine from the administrator of the host operating system.

More significant is that 2016 will use a two core pack, with the licence cost of each 2016 pack being 1/8th the price of the corresponding two socket pack for 2012. Each system running Windows Server 2016 must have a minimum of eight cores per processor, and a minimum of 16 cores per system.

In most cases with systems with up to four processors and up to eight cores per processor, this won’t change the overall licensing cost. But for heavier multi-processing and core use the prices will increase. Two or four processors with 10 cores per processor will cost 25 percent more to run Windows Server 2016 than they did 2012.

Those who know the black art which is Microsoft’s licensing will realise that this brings Windows Server’s licensing in line with SQL Server’s.  SQL Server has been using a per core model since 2014. BizTalk has been using the model since 2013. Azure is also licensed on the basis of virtual machine cores, rather than sockets.

What Microsoft appears to be doing is adapting its licencing to increased  processor core counts and a marked reduction of high socket count systems.

Some customers are going to lose money on the move, particularly those who are unfortunate enough to have Software Assurance agreements that cover systems that were licensed using 2012’s socket-based scheme.

Cisco leans on programmable networks

Cisco Kid Cisco updated its IOS XR network operating system while adding three additional routers to its portfolio as part of a drive to programmable networks.

Greg Smith, head of service provider marketing for Cisco said that rather than asking service providers to build their own programmable networks, Cisco via its IOS XR is committed to delivering those capabilities as a core part of the operating system.

He said service providers would rather buy these capabilities than build it themselves.

The Cisco network initiative is centred on a set of APIs which model data traveling across the network. There is also a software development kit that service providers can use to more easily expose network services to developers and their customers.

Cisco expects service providers to use these tools to create self-service portals through which end customers can provision network services in minutes instead of the several weeks.

Developers could use them to build applications that use those network services through the APIs that Cisco is releasing in its operating system and the announced software-defined Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI) networking architecture.

Smith said that the cunning plan is to insert these technologies into the existing tool chain of service providers, because they don’t have a lot of real-time insights into the network.

To help facilitate the deployment of those services at scale, Cisco this week also unveiled the Cisco NCS 5000 Series, which can be configured with up to 40-80 10GE ports and 4 100GE ports, a Cisco NCS 5500 Series that provides up to 288 routed 100GE ports for WAN aggregation, and the Cisco NCS 1000 Series, which provides access to 100/200/250G-bit wavelengths over distances exceeding 3,000km with existing fibre.

Smith claims that Cisco is the only provider of network infrastructure capable of unifying local and wide area networks at that distance.

Cloud no panacea as Citrix tries to sell itself

grandpa_simpson_yelling_at_cloudIt would appear that tacking “cloud” onto your product list is not proving to be a panacea for IT company woes.

Citrix, a US cloud computing company, is making a final attempt to sell itself as a whole before it embarks on asset sales, according to people familiar with the matter.

Citrix, which had attracted the interest of private equity investors before it agreed in July to give a man called Elliott a seat on its board of directors, is having new conversations with buyout firms.

Apparently the outfit is looking to hardware makers like Dell who might want to create a product and cloud package.

Citrix announced in July it would explore strategic alternatives for its GoTo family of products, including videoconferencing and desktop sharing service GoToMeeting. However, a sale process for these assets has not started yet because Citrix wants to see if it can still sell itself at a satisfactory valuation, according to the sources.

If Citrix does not sell itself it will sell or spin off its GoTo products, and other methods to asset strip itself.

Citrix provides communications software and networking solutions for businesses. It reported net income of $251.7 million in 2014, down from $339.5 million in 2013.

Earlier this year, Elliott called on Citrix to sell some units, cut costs and buy back shares to make up for six years of underperformance. In addition to the GoTo business, Elliott has called for Citrix to explore the sale of NetScaler, which helps speed up Web-based applications.

Elliott clinched a deal with Citrix in July that gave Jesse Cohn, one of its senior partners, a seat on the company’s board. Citrix also said it would start a search for an independent board member, mutually agreeable to Citrix and Elliott.

It also said at the time that Chief Executive Mark Templeton was retiring and that it would search for a new CEO.

Earlier this month, Citrix said it would repurchase up to an additional $500 million of its common stock.

 

 

 

Cyber Insurance market to triple

Republic_Fire_Insurance_Company_certificateThe cyber insurance market will triple in size to $7.5 billion in annual premiums by 2020 according to a new consultant’s report.

But PwC said insurance companies would not be laughing all the way to the bank as the insurance industry could face competition from disruptors such as Google.

Insurers and reinsurers are charging high prices for cyber cover and putting a ceiling on potential losses, deterring companies from buying cyber polices, in the report. Some insurers have kept out of the market, wary of the risks.
PwC’s Paul Delbridge said that if the industry takes too long, there is a risk that a disruptor could move in and corner the market by aggressively cutting prices or offering much more favourable terms.

Millennials – people in their 20s and 30s – are more likely to trust brands such as Google than conventional insurers and Google would be very creative.

Technology companies may also be better equipped than insurers to price cyber risk, he added.
Most of the $2.5 billion written in cyber insurance last year was in the United States, where requirements to notify data breaches have focused attention on cyber protection.

But the European Union is expected to follow suit, contributing strongly to growth in cyber insurance, Delbridge said.

Microsoft updates volume licensing use rights

Microsoft campusSoftware giant Microsoft has changed the way companies will have to update volume licensing use documents.

In the past, business consumers of Microsoft’s products and services have needed a Product List and the Product Use Rights. These determined the purchasing requirements and licencing rules applicable to those products and services. Both documents were incorporated into Microsoft’s volume licensing agreements and were updated periodically by Redmond on its website.

Now Microsoft has combined the Product List and the Product Use Rights into a unified document with the catchy title “Product Terms.” Users of Microsoft’s subscription-based Online Services like Office 365 still will need to use the Online Services Terms, which define service-specific use rights.

Product Terms come into effect when a volume licensing agreement is signed typically will remain in effect during the term of that agreement.

Upgrades to new product releases during the term will result in the incorporation of the then-current Product Terms for those products. Microsoft’s channel partners and resellers will have to point out the changes made to the incorporated terms to their customers, or there is going to be a pile of legal mess later.

Some changes in the new document already have been the cause of some confusion and concern. So fair most of the problems are about the General Licensing Terms for Developer Tools like Visual Studio.

Microsoft and partners defend against Chromebook

windowscomputexThe glorious Wintel alliance which is still running despite a few hiccups has a cunning plan to see off the threat of Google Chromebooks.

Microsoft and its chum Intel plans to launch a device running Windows 10 with Bing.

Microsoft and Intel are working with all   partners to bring cheaper devices to the market and help tackle the growth of Google Chromebooks.

Stage one of the plan is to release a cheap OEM version of Windows 10 with Bing.

As was the case with Windows 8.1, Windows 10 with Bing will be a Windows 10 SKU available exclusively for PC makers and will be offered at a very low cost or even free of charge.

Microsoft has worked out that it needs to slash licensing fees that manufacturers need to pay for installing Windows on their devices.

Windows with Bing is basically Windows 8.1 with Bing offered the same features as Windows 8.1 but came with Bing branding that OEMs could not change.

Users, however, were allowed to replace Bing as the default search engine with Google or something else.

A Windows 10 with Bing flavour will appear later. In fact Windows 10 is designed to be installed on as many devices as possible, and Microsoft expects one billion PCs, tablets, and smartphones to be running it by 2017.

Intel’s Xeon SoC to ARM wrestle

arm-wrestlingIntel has lifted the veil on a new Xeon D family of processors which are the company’s first ever Xeon-based System-on-Chip (SoC).

The news is bad for ARM because it is wanted to dominate the microserver market and this package is exactly what it does not want out there.

The Xeon D line is built on Intel’s 14nm process technology and combines the performance of Xeon chips with the size and power savings of a SoC.

Intel says the Xeon D delivers up to 3.4x faster performance node and up to 1.7x better performance per watt compared to the company’s Atom C2750, which is part of Intel’s second-generation 64-bit SoC family.

Xeon D is the third generation and it’s actually based on Intel’s 14nm Broadwell architecture.

This puts Intel in the running for those customers who want low-power, high density infrastructure products. In fact Intel says that it can deliver  server class reliability, availability, and serviceability (RAS) features in an ultra-dense, low-power device.

Cisco, HP, NEC, Quanta Cloud Technology, Sugon, and Supermicro have sworn their loyalty to the chip, before all their dark gods, and are committed to building microserves based on Intel’s new Xeon D options.

This means ARM has not got much time before actual products are out there.

Diane Bryant, senior vice president and general manager of the Data Center Group at Intel said that the growth of connected devices and demand for more digital services has created new opportunities for information and communication technology,” said.

“By bringing Intel Xeon processor performance to a low-power SoC, we’re delivering the best of both worlds and enabling our customers to deliver exciting new services.”

Intel’s kicking things off with two Xeon D processors, the D-1540 with 8 cores, 16 threads, 2GHz, 45W TDP and D-1520 with its 4 cores, 8 threads, 2.2GHz, 45W TDP. These have memory controllers capable of up to 128GB of addressable memory.

They also feature an integrated platform controller hub (PCH), integrated I/Os, and two integrated 10 Gigabit Ethernet ports.

All of this is based on Intel’s Broadwell so should give a reasonable performance per watt.

Lenovo goes tablet crazy

Screen Shot 2015-03-02 at 11.38.21Announcements from the Mobile World Congress (MWC) are as thick as blankets of snow this week, and Lenovo has joined in the chase for more business by announcing a range of three tablets.

Lenovo, according to market watchers, has been doing comparatively well in the tablet market.

Today it announced the A Series Android tablets, the Tab 2 A7 and A10-70 and a Windows tablet too.

The A10-70 has a 10.1-inch FHD screen, and Dolby Atmos. The machine runs Android 4.4, uses a MediaTek quad core processor, weighs 500 grams and is 8.9 millimetres thick. It will cost £180 and ships in April.
The Tab 2 A8 weighs in at 360 grams and comes with a dual SIM card slot, and costs £130 for the wi-fi model. It will ship in June.

The Windows Ideated MIIX 300, uses Windows 8.1, has an Intel Atom chip inside, and a media card reader. It will ship in July and will cost around £150.

 

Intel’s Knight’s Hill cut down to 10nm

intel_log_reversedIntel is telling the world+dog that it talks to that its third-generation Xeon Phi, codenamed Knight’s Hill, will use 10nm technology and its second iteration of Omni-Path fabric. TechEye and ChannelEye are not in Intel’s good books again, so we have to sneak under the radar.

Intel is not talking to us any more. Sniff.

Knight’s Hill is a long way from being in the shops. We still have to see the 14nm Knight’s Landing which is not going to be in the shops until summer of 2015. This could mean that Knights Hill is likely for 2017.

Knight’s Landing will use the same Silvermont architecture that powers Intel’s Bay Trail but it will  support four threads per CPU — currently Silvermont doesn’t use hyper-threading marchitecture at all.

The reason we are interested in Knight’s Hill is that information on it is about as rare as a 1970s TV star who has not been investigated by operation YewTree, and we wonder why Intel is talking about it at all.

Perhaps it might because Intel is attempting to reassure customers that there’s a roadmap stretching out beyond the Knight’s Landing product and the 14nm node.

Intel’s Omni-Path scaling architecture debuts next year. Omni-Path is Intel’s next-generation networking interconnect that handles up to 100Gbps of bandwidth and uses silicon photonics technology for signalling. The new standard offers up to 48 ports per switch compared to 36 ports on other top-end standards, and is designed to lower the cost of huge build-outs by reducing the total number of switches. The long  term goal is to reduce latency and allow for effective scaling as the industry pushes forwards towards exascale. Bring back Pat Gelsinger!

Future versions of the core will likely expand both the onboard memory pool (16GB is expected for Knight’s Landing; Knight’s Hill could pack 32GB or more), add additional bandwidth, and likely increase the interconnect performance between the CPU and the associated MIC.

According to Extreme Tech  Intel might push its AVX standard up as high as 1024-bit registers, if the HPC crowd wants it. Adding wider registers is a simple way to boost performance The current AVX specification allows for extensions of up to 1024 bits in length, however, so Intel could do this. [Does anybody apart from Extreme Tech believe this Intel crap any more? Ed.]

 

Decade old laser tech dusted off

laser1In a bid to save cash on expensive fibre optic lines, 10-year-old laser networking technology is being re-introduced.

The technology that uses parallel radio and laser links to move data through the air at high speeds, in wireless hops of up to 10 kilometres at a time. It is being trailed by three of the largest US Internet carriers and is being rolled out by one telecommunications provider in Mexico, and another in Nigeria.

AOptix, the company behind the technology, claims the system is cheaper and more practical alternative to laying new fibre optic cables because it does not require trenches to install fibre in urban areas.

However, it does face significant bureaucratic and physical challenges and because of its bandwidth is being seen as particularly attractive to wireless carriers.

According to MIT Review, the technology takes the form of a box with an infrared laser and a directional millimetre wave radio beside it. The two technologies form a wireless link with an identical box up to 10 kilometers away. A series of such connections can be daisy-chained together to make a link of any length.

It fixes the two problems associated with laser and radio. Laser beams are blocked by fog, while millimetre wave radio signals are absorbed by rain. Routing data over both simultaneously provides redundancy that allows an AOptix link to guarantee a rate of two gigabits per second with only five minutes or less downtime in a year, whatever the weather.

While fibre connection might be 10 or more times faster than that, due to the limitations of the radio frequency link. However, AOptix says the convenience of its technology makes up for that, and it could be increased to four gigabits or more in the future.

The radio and laser equipment inside an AOptix device move automatically to compensate for the swaying of a cell tower caused by wind.

Microsoft software is unsafe again

Stained Glass - picture Mike MageeExpect a slew of critical updates to Microsoft Windows and other Microsoft software this week.

The company last week warned that much of its software needed patches to be safe and sound.  Many will need you to restart your machine or machines.

At the same time Microsoft will release an upgrade to its Malicious Software removal tool, its update services and the download centre.

Affected software includes Windows Server 2003, Windows Vista, Windows Server 2008, Windows 7, Windows 8 and 8.1, Windows Server 2008 R2, Windows Server 2012 and Windows Server 2012 R2, Windows RT and Windows RT 8.1, Windows Technical Preview and Windows Server Technical Preview.

Microsoft doesn’t support Windows XP anymore so you are on your own unless like the NHS or people that use point of sale (POS) embedded software you have additional security built in. You can find the whole sorry tale at the Microsoft site, here.

Microsoft pushes Office for iPad

ipad3In either a sign of desperation or a sign of largesse, Microsoft said today it will let people using the Apple Pad make and edit documents for free instead of paying through the nose.

Microsoft wants its software to be pervasive across every gadget and gizmo as the world has opened up to applications that don’t need an expensive PC or a pricey Windows operating system to work.

Microsoft already started to offer Office for the iPad and is understood to have attracted some 10s of millions to the proposition.

And in a further move it wants Apple users on its side, it said it will release Powerpoint, Excel and Word apps not only for the iPhone but for the Android operating system later this year too.

Apps for mobile devices cost only pounds rather than hundreds of pounds but it’s not entirely clear what CEO Satya Nadella’s motives are in spreading the Word around.

Intel impedes Windows 10

Intel-logoA report said that sales of notebooks using Microsoft Windows 10 are likely to be hit because Intel will be tardy releasing an appropriate chip.

Digitimes Research said that the Intel Skylake microprocessor is supposed to be ready at the beginning of the third quarter in 2015 but will probably not hit the streets until the end of next year or even 2016.

The news will plunge Microsoft into the depths of despondency.  It is already taking a hit because uptake of the notoriously shabby Windows 8.x isn’t going to plan.

Windows 10 is supposed to be the summum bonum – that is to say it will work properly because there won’t be a Windows 9.

Digitimes Research estimates that Intel’s delays won’t make the acceptance of Windows 10 any easier and it appears the alliance between Microsoft and Intel is crumbling.

Intel could not be contacted for comment at press time.

The report is here.

Notebooks to become cheap as chips

notebooksThere is a long held adage about buying notebooks and that is don’t buy them in the fourth calendar quarter.

Intel always release new chips  in the New Year and it’s always wise to wait for that to happen rather than get all excited before Yule.  But just because chip prices will come down in early 2015, don’t rush to buy a new notebook because there is, of course, trouble on the Windows 8.1 scene.

Personally, I need a new notebook and would have bought one by now but for the fact that it’s very hard to buy one with the reasonable operating system Windows 7 any more.  This is because Microsoft, as usual, is behaving like a headless chicken.

Microsoft has a sound track record of getting operating systems and operating environments wrong every other time it releases one.  Just as Vista was a dog, so Windows 7 was pretty good and therefore Windows 8.1 was certain to be a dog.

It has decided not to bother with Windows 9 and its next operating system will be called Windows 10 – a bit of a cause for concern because Windows 9, compared to Windows 8, was probably going to be pretty good but now it’s calling Windows 9, Windows 10, that is a bit of a worry.

There’s other good news on the scene if you’re up for a new notebook, because Taiwanese based market research company Digitimes Research reckons that first tier vendors’ 8GB tablets are going to drop to $99 or less. It claims major Chinese vendor  Lenovo is starting this particular price war.

Google wants us to lick its lollipop

lollipopGoogle has released a major update of Android, dubbed “Lollipop”.

According to Google, this is its thirteenth and most ambitious release of Android.

It has over 5,000 new application program interfaces (APIs) and to work on all devices.

Lollipop, it says, has a consistent design across different devices.  It also has features that lets you filter notifications so that if you’re doing something and you don’t want to be disturbed, you’ll see only the people you decide to let through.

It also includes a new battery saver feature which it claims will extend the life of a gadget by up to 90 minutes.  Android 5.0 Lollipop  also now includes multiple user accounts, guest user mode, and PIN passwords.