Trendspotting 2

Trendspotting is such a popular hobby for business gurus and magazines because there's nothing worse than being the last to know. Linux has firmly established its megatrend status; now it's a question of where it goes next inside companies. IBM, Hewlett-Packard, and Dell all had their notions last week. In the world of Internet media, video is catching on, leading to some interesting chin scratching over what gear and content viewers will want delivered via Web video. With all the buzz that Web

InformationWeek Staff, Contributor

August 15, 2005

7 Min Read

IBM: Linux PCs! World: Yawn
IBM's top software exec, Steve Mills, makes the case that open-source Linux will soon play a greater role on PCs, despite the slow growth to date. Mills points to people who use their PCs to perform very specific functions--call-center workers, for example, who use the same few applications over and over, and don't need other programs on their machines. "There are tens of millions of these jobs around the world where there's no unique dependency on Windows," Mills says. IBM last week introduced Linux support for its Workplace desktop software and promised a $100 million investment behind Workplace for the Linux platform. With Lotus Domino Web Access on Firefox 1.0.X, which should be available by the end of the third quarter, IBM's browser-based Web-messaging client will support the open-source Mozilla browser, providing E-mail and other Lotus features through an Internet connection.

So Linux it is? No, concludes research firm Gartner, citing surveys of corporate IT buyers at conferences in Florida and France late last year, where just over 1% were running Linux desktops and open-source office products in their companies. In a separate study, Gartner estimates just 3.2% of nonconsumer computer users will run Linux and open-source office products by 2008.

-- Larry Greenemeier and Antone Gonsalves, TechWeb

All Join Hands To Sell Linux
Time was, LinuxWorld was dominated by techie folks looking to exchange ideas and put a face to a screen identity. Last week, building partnerships to sell open source to IT managers topped the agenda. A sample: Hewlett-Packard, knowing Linux is critical to selling its blade servers, partnered with Red Hat Inc. and Novell. It will make Red Hat's Global File System cluster-management software available with HP Serviceguard for Linux on its HP BladeSystem servers to help users keep systems up to date with security patches and updates. With Novell, it introduced a program promising its latest SuSE Linux server software on HP BladeSystem will run a variety of high-performance applications.

IBM partnered with Red Hat to package IBM Workplace Services Express collaboration software, Red Hat Enterprise Linux, and VMware virtualization software and make them available through the Red Hat Network. Dell promised support for MySQL databases and the JBoss application server, and Novell said it and its partners would sell MySQL support.

-- Larry Greenemeier

'Video Snacks' For Cell Phones
People might not want to watch a feature-length movie on a 2-inch square LCD screen. But they just may view commercially produced short clips--"video snacks"--a few minutes in length. That was an idea floating around last week's consumer electronics show in San Francisco, sponsored by Texas Instruments Inc.

An annual "Toy Tour" designed to tout the consumer electronics uses for TI's processors, the event also casts light on consumer preferences. In a panel discussion, Eric Huggers, Microsoft's business-development manager, predicted cell-phone viewing will catch on for "video snacking," watching two-, three-, or up to 10-minute segments. Watching longer features would require a larger portable viewing device.

Another notion is that viewing devices and preferences might vary more by geography than format: Asians, and to some extent Europeans, spend much more time on commuter trains than Americans. They are thus more likely to watch handheld portable videos than Americans, iSuppli senior analyst Chris Crotty says.

So far, there's not really enough video content available for download to make much of a difference. Panelists predicted Internet service providers will play a key role in how soon and how much video download content is available. Says Crotty, "The ISPs largely missed the music download revolution. Let's see how far they adapt to video transmission." (For more on Web video, see "The Web Moves".)

-- Stephan Ohr, EETimes

FBI Moving Past Its Past
The Federal Bureau of Investigation took two steps last week to put some distance between it and the $170 million Virtual Case File project, which was meant to be one of the foundations of its IT modernization but ended up as a near-total write-off.

The FBI last week asked for bids for Sentinel, an effort that includes replacing the functions Virtual Case File was supposed to provide. Sentinel also will include developing a services-oriented architecture upon which future applications will be built, according to plans laid out by FBI CIO Zalmai Azmi.

Also last week, the FBI inked a $1.6 million, bureauwide licensing agreement with MicroStrategy Inc. to use its business-intelligence software for data analysis. Last year, the FBI implemented MicroStrategy's software with its Investigative Data Warehouse, which lets agents tap multiple databases. That database was developed when it was clear Virtual Case File wouldn't deliver.

MicroStrategy doesn't know if it will be part of Sentinel. But the decision to standardize on a single product reflects the FBI's strategy "to not have every little project choose its own technology and end up with 12 versions of the same technology all over their enterprise," says Gary Monroe, MicroStrategy's director of federal operations. Since the Virtual Case File failure, the FBI has put more emphasis on buying off-the-shelf software rather than custom-building systems.

-- Steven Marlin

Schools Expose More ID Data
Colleges are spectacular at sharing knowledge. If only they weren't also so loose about sharing personal data with hackers. Last week, continuing a string of college or university data breaches, hackers broke into two computer networks and may have accessed 100,000 identities, including Social Security numbers.

Sonoma State University in California owned up to a breach that affected more than 61,000, while the University of North Texas said hackers may have gotten to nearly 39,000 records containing names and Social Security numbers. Hackers entered the network by exploiting a vulnerability in Microsoft Windows. The University of North Texas began notifying nearly 39,000 students and alumni that data containing names, addresses, phone numbers, and Social Security numbers was exposed, and that more than 500 credit-card accounts may have been exposed.

The Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, which at maintains a list of data breaches, lists 29 data breaches at colleges or university since February. Since that time, when the ChoicePoint Inc. scandal brought the issue to public attention, more than 50 million Americans' identities have been put at risk by universities, businesses, and government agencies.

-- TechWeb News

Blogs Are Mainstream
In six years, blogs have gone from navel-gazing online diaries to must-read Internet publications that rival the reach and influence of traditional media. A new study from online research firm comScore Networks reveals that 50 million U.S. Internet users visited blog sites in the first quarter of this year, up 45% from the first quarter of 2004. That represents about 30% of all U.S. Internet users, or a sixth of the total U.S. population. The study is based on data from comScore's opt-in research panel.

There are approximately 14.7 million blogs, if one goes by blog search engine But it's the top blog properties that matter and that are growing the fastest. The study finds that six of the top 10 blog-hosting services have seen their traffic numbers grow by more than 100% from the first quarter of 2004 to the first quarter of 2005. For example, now draws more traffic than,, or, comScore says.

"The public's appetite for consumer-created content on the Web (like blogs) mirrors its taste for reality shows, celebrity gossip magazines, talk radio, and cable TV shows," says Adam L. Penenberg, New York University journalism professor and author, via E-mail.

What's the lesson here? Says Penenberg, "Mainstream media outlets should realize that objective 'just the facts, ma'am' type of journalism isn't compelling enough anymore--and is, in fact, a major turn off to younger audiences, which are their future subscribers."

-- Thomas Claburn

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