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Oracle And SAP Settle Piracy Dispute

November 24, 2014 by  
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Oracle has won a limited victory in its long-running lawsuit with rival SAP.

The action was taken in reference to events dating back to 2007, which saw employees of SAP’s TomorrowNow unit accused of illegally downloading Oracle software.

German company TomorrowNow was bought by SAP as a means to undercut Oracle’s internal tech support rates, with the ambition of getting customers to migrate to SAP solutions, reports Reuters.

In 2006, TomorrowNow started the process of undermining its parent’s position, offering cut-price support to users of the Siebel database and CRM.

Oracle was originally awarded $1.3bn back in 2010, but this was adjusted downwards on multiple appeals.

SAP acknowledged that its employees had been in the wrong, but disputed the damages awarded. SAP offered a $306m payment in 2012, but did so more in hope than expectation given its admissions.

Earlier in the year, a federal judge gave Oracle the option to settle for $356.7m or force a retrial, and the company has now decided on the former with a further $2.5m in interest.

“We are thrilled about this landmark recovery and extremely gratified that our efforts to protect innovation and our shareholders’ interests are duly rewarded,” said Oracle’s general counsel Dorian Daley.

“This sends a strong message to those who would prefer to cheat than compete fairly and legally.”

SAP agreed: “We are also pleased that, overall, the courts hearing this case ultimately accepted SAP’s arguments to limit Oracle’s excessive damages claims and that Oracle has finally chosen to end this matter.”

SAP announced a partnership with IBM last month to bring its HANA service to enterprise cloud users.


SkySQL Joins IBM On SQL Merger

April 18, 2014 by  
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SkySQL has announced a line of MariaDB products that combine NoSQL and SQL technology, offering users the ability to handle large unstructured data sets alongside traditional database features to ensure data consistency.

Available immediately, MariaDB Enterprise 2 and MariaDB Enterprise Cluster 2 are based on the code used in the firm’s MariaDB 10 database server, which it also released today.

According to SkySQL, the availability of an enterprise grade SQL database system with NoSQL interoperability will be a game changer for developers building revenue generating applications and database administrators in charge of large, complex environments.

The two new products have been developed with support from other partners in the open source community, including Red Hat, IBM and Google, according to the firm, and are aimed at giving IT managers more options for managing large volumes of data.

In fact, Red Hat will use MariaDB Enterprise 2 as the default database for its enterprise customers, while Google has also moved large parts of its infrastructure to MariaDB, according to Dion Cornett, VP of Global Sales for SkySQL .

Cornett said that customers have been using a wide variety of databases over the past few years in order to meet the diverse requirements of applications.

“The types of applications have evolved over time, and the challenge we now have today is that people have different IT stack structures, and trying to integrate all that has been very challenging and required lots of custom code to be created. What we’re doing with MariaDB is introduce an array of features to combine the best of both worlds,” he said.

The features are designed to allow developers and database administrators to take many different data structures and integrate them and use them in a cohesive application, in the same way that standard database tools presently allow.

These include the Connect Storage Engine, which enables access to a wide variety of file formats such as XML and CSV files, and the ability to run familiar SQL commands against that data.

A key feature is dynamic columns, which enables MariaDB to “smartly interpret” incoming data and adapt it to the data structure that best fits, according to Cornett.

“At a technical level what you’re actually looking at are files within the cells of information that can vary in size, which is not a capability you’ve traditionally had in databases and that flexibility is a big leap forward,” he said.

The new MariaDB products can also plug into the Apache Cassandra storage engine, which can take a columnar data store and read or write against it like it is a traditional SQL table.

An example of how MariaDB Enterprise 2 might be used is if a service provider has a large-scale video server and wants to combine that with billing information, Cornett said.

“The customer’s video history and what they’re consuming could be very unstructured, but the billing structure will be very fixed, and it has been something of a challenge to bring the two of those together up to this point,” he explained.


vmWare Buys Airwatch

February 4, 2014 by  
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VMware will buy mobile management and security startup outfit Airwatch for $1.54billion.

The firm announced today that the deal has been approved by both companies’ boards and is forecast to close by the end of this quarter.

The deal will see VMware, which also announced estimated revenue of $1.48bn for the fourth quarter of 2013, pay $1.175bn in cash and $365m in installment payments.

Airwatch has nine offices worldwide with a workforce of 1,600 people and lists over 10,000 global customers.

The acquisition, which will help redefine VMware’s product portfolio and bring it more up to date with the industry’s threat landscape, will see the integration of Airwatch staff into the company’s End-User Computing Group, with the team working from its Atlanta base. VMware said it will continue to answer directly to Airwatch founder and CEO John Marshall, who will report to ex-Intel executive and VMware CEO Pat Gelsinger.

VMware EVP and GM of the End-User Computing group Sanjay Poonen said that the company plans to expand Airwatch’s Atlanta offices to become the centre of its mobile operations.

“Our vision is to provide a secure virtual workspace that allows end users to work at the speed of life,” he said. “The combination of Airwatch and VMware will enable us to deliver unprecedented value to our customers and partners across their desktop and mobile environments.”

Almost a year ago, VMWare announced a two percent increase in quarterly profits despite an impressive 22 percent increase in sales, and announced 900 job cuts.

The visualization specialist is one many firms to acquire security companies over the past year. Advanced threat specialist Fireeye announced plans to buy end-point protection firm Mandiant earlier in January for $1bn.


Is SAP Searching In The Clouds?

December 6, 2013 by  
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Esoteric business software maker, which no one is really certain what it does, SAP is debating whether to accelerate moving more of its business to the cloud.

The move would be a change in strategy which might initially have only a small impact on its sales. Co-chief executive Jim Hagemann-Snabe said the change would generate more sales by 2017 particularly in markets like the US where there is a big push onto the cloud.

Talking to a Morgan Stanley investor conference this morning, Hagemann-Snabe said that this would have impact on the 2015 level, I don’t expect enormous impact but it would have some impact because you are delaying some revenues. In the long term however it makes a lot of sense, which is not the sort of thing people expect from SAP.


SAP To Stop Offering SME

November 1, 2013 by  
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The maker of expensive esoteric software which no-one is really sure what it does, SAP has decided to pull the plug on its offering for small businesses. Business weekly Wirtschaftswoche said SAP would stop the development of a software dubbed Business By Design, although existing customers will be able to continue to use it.

SAP insists that development capacity for Business By Design was being reduced, but that the product was not being shut down. Business by Design was launched in 2010 and was supposed to generate $1 billion of revenue. The product, which cost roughly 3 billion euros to develop, currently has only 785 customers and is expected to generate no more than 23 million euros in sales this year.

The Wirtschaftswoche report said that ever since the SAP product’s launch, customers had complained about technical issues and the slow speed of the software.


Oracle Goes After SAP’s HANA

October 4, 2013 by  
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Oracle has upped its game in its fight against SAP HANA, having added in-memory processing to its Oracle 12c database management system, which it claims will speed up queries by 100 times.

Oracle CEO Larry Ellison revealed the update on Sunday evening during his opening keynote at the Oracle Openworld show in San Francisco.

The in-memory option for Oracle Database 12c is designed to ramp up the speeds of data queries – and will also give Oracle a new weapon in the fight against SAP’s rival HANA in-memory system.

“When you put data in memory, one of the reasons you do that is to make the system go faster,” Ellison said. “It will make queries go faster, 100 times faster. You can load the same data into the identical machines, and it’s 100 times faster, you get results at the speed of thought.”

Ellison was keen to allay concerns that these faster query times would have a negative impact on transactions.

“We didn’t want to make transactions go slower with adding and changing data in the database. We figured out a way to speed up query processing and at least double your transaction processing rates,” he said.

In traditional databases, data is stored in rows, for example a row of sales orders, Ellison explained. These types of row format databases were designed to operate at high speeds when processing a few rows that each contain lots of columns. More recently, a new format was proposed to store data in columns rather than rows to speed up query processing.

Oracle plans to store the data in both formats simultaneously, according to Ellison, so transactions run faster in the row format and analytics run faster in column format.

“We can process data at ungodly speeds,” Ellison claimed. As evidence of this, Oracle demoed the technology, showing seven billion rows could be queried per second via in-memory compared to five million rows per second in a traditional database.

The new approach also allows database administrators to speed up their workloads by removing the requirement for analytics indexes.

“If you create a table in Oracle today, you create the table but also decide which columns of the table you’ll create indexes for,” Ellison explained. “We’re replacing the analytics indexes with the in-memory option. Let’s get rid of analytic indexes and replace them with the column store.”

Ellison added that firms can choose to have just part of the database for in-memory querying. “Hot data can be in DRAM, you can have some in flash, some on disk,” he noted. “Data automatically migrates from disk into flash into DRAM based on your access patterns. You only have to pay by capacity at the cost of disk.”

Firms wanting to take advantage of this new in-memory option can do so straightaway, according to Ellison, with no need for changes to functions, no loading or reloading of data, and no data migration. Costs were not disclosed.

And for those firms keen to rush out and invest in new hardware to take advantage of this new in-memory option, Ellison took the wraps off the M6-32, dubbed the Big Memory Machine. According to Ellison, the M6-32 has twice the memory, can process data much faster and costs less than a third of IBM’s biggest comparable machine, making it ideal for in-memory databases.


Oracle Issues Massive Security Update

July 29, 2013 by  
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Oracle has issued its critical patch update advisory for July, plugging a total of 89 security holes across its product portfolio.

The fixes focus mainly on remotely exploitable vulnerabilities in four widely used products, with 27 fixes issued for the Oracle Database, Fusion Middleware, the Oracle and Sun Systems Product Suite and the MySQL database.

Out of the 89 security fixes included with this update, the firm said six are for Oracle Database, with one of the vulnerabilities being remotely exploitable without authentication.

Oracle revealed that the highest CVSS Base Score for these database vulnerabilities is 9.0, a score related to vulnerability CVE-2013-3751, which affects the XML Parser on Oracle Database and

A further 21 patched vulnerabilities listed in Oracle’s Critical Patch Update are for Oracle Fusion Middleware; 16 of these vulnerabilities are remotely exploitable without authentication, with the highest CVSS Base Score being 7.5.

As for the Oracle and Sun Systems Products Suite, these products received a total of 16 security fixes, eight of which were also remotely exploitable without authentication, with a maximum CVSS Base Score of 7.8.

“As usual, Oracle recommends that customers apply this Critical Patch Update as soon as possible,” Oracle’s director of Oracle Software Security Assurance Eric Maurice wrote in a blog post.

Craig Young, a security researcher at Tripwire commented on the Oracle patch, saying the “drumbeat of critical patches” is more than alarming because the vulnerabilities are frequently reported by third parties who presumably do not have access to full source code.

“It’s also noteworthy that […] every Oracle CPU release this year has plugged dozens of vulnerabilities,” he added. “By my count, Oracle has already acknowledged and fixed 343 security issues in 2013. In case there was any doubt, this should be a big red flag to end users that Oracle’s security practices are simply not working.”


Oracle Changing Berkeley

July 18, 2013 by  
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Oracle has changed the license of its embedded database library, Berkeley DB. The software is widely used as a key-value store within other applications and historically used an OSI-approved strong copyleft license which was similar to the GPL.

Under that license, distributing software that embedded Berkeley DB involved also providing “information on how to obtain complete source code for the DB software and any accompanying software that uses the DB software.”

Now future versions of Berkeley DB use the GNU Affero General Public License (AGPL). This says “your modified version must prominently offer all users interacting with it remotely through a computer network … an opportunity to receive the Corresponding Source of your version.”

This will cause some problems for Web developers using Berkeley DB for local storage. Compliance has not really been an issue because they never “redistributed” the source of their Web apps.Now they will have to make sure their whole Web app is compliant with the AGPL and make full corresponding source to their Web application available.

They also need to ensure the full app has compatible licensing. Practically that means that the whole source code has to be licensed under the GPLv3 or the AGPL.


Citrix Updates Xen Server

July 3, 2013 by  
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Citrix has released its open source Xen Server 6.2 to go up against VMware’s closed source free Vsphere hypervisor.

Citrix for years has maintained a free, open source version of its Xen hypervisor but it has been losing ground to KVM and in particular VMware’s free Vsphere hypervisor. Now the firm has released Xen Server 6.2 and a community website that the firm hopes will help increase support for its open source hypervisor.

According to Citrix, Xen Server 6.2 supports Cloud Stack, Open Stack and Citrix’s own Cloud Platform. The firm touted support for the latest guest operating systems including Microsoft’s Windows 8 and Windows Server 2012.

Sameer Dholakia, group VP and GM of Citrix’s Cloud Platforms Group said, “The cloud era has brought a lot of exciting opportunities for data center infrastructure, but the reality is that one size doesn’t fit all when it comes to virtualization.

“By empowering our users and partners with a committed open source strategy and community for XenServer – which already powers some of the largest clouds in the world – we are moving the needle in innovation to help customers of all sizes, and at all stages of their cloud strategies, to maximize the benefits they gain from vitualization and the cloud.”

Citrix said its Xen Server 6.2 supports its Xen Desktop software, including Intellicache and Dynamic Memory Control. The firm said it has added Desktop Director alerts so that administrators can be notified of low resources to try to prevent virtual machines from becoming unusuable.

Citrix will be hoping that as firms get used to the free version of Xen Server they will shell out for the full versions that cost up to $3,250. However, Citrix’s continued support of its free, open source Xen Serven means that VMware will have to continue offering a free version of Vsphere if it doesn’t want to leave a gap in the market.


Will Oracle Retire MySQL?

May 15, 2013 by  
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The founder of MySQL Michael Widenius “Monty” claims that Oracle is killing off his MySQL database and he is recommending that people move to his new project MariaDB. In an interview with Muktware Widenius said his MariaDB, which is also open source, its on track to replacing MySQL at WikiMedia and other major organizations and companies.

He said MySQL was widely popular long before MySQL was bought by Sun because it was free and had good support. There was a rule that anyone should get MySQL up and running in 15 minutes. Widenius was concerned about MySQL’s sale to Oracle and has been watching as the popularity of MySQL has been declining. He said that Oracle was making a number of mistakes. Firstly new ‘enterprise’ extensions in MySQL were closed source, the bugs database is not public, and the MySQL public repositories are not anymore actively updated.

Widenius said that security problems were not communicated nor addressed quickly and instead of fixing bugs, Oracle is removing features. It is not all bad. Some of the new code is surprisingly good by Oracle, but unfortunately the quality varies and a notable part needs to be rewritten before we can include it in things like MariaDB. Widenius said that it’s impossible for the community to work with the MySQL developers at Oracle as it doesn’t accept patches, does not have a public roadmap and there was no way to discuss with MySQL developers how to implement things or how the current code works.

Basically Oracle has made the project less open and the beast has tanked, while at the same time more open versions of the code, such as MariaDB are rising in popularity.


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