D-Day – Apple-IBM Axis Collapses

Well, I figured it was happening finally. The hint was there *if* you knew where to look. Looks like nobody else twigged to the firing of those Linux developers at Intel for timing – even though I had a thoughtful discussion with an analyst just last week over that very issue and asked whether that meant Jobs was going to Intel. He said “No way” but this time I wasn’t sure he was right – he went back to check things out one more time, was guaranteed it wouldn’t happen, and then “Voila”, it did. But his mistake was talking to Apple contacts. I didn’t bother. I looked at what Intel was doing. Since I’ve dealt with Intel on the silicon side over the years with SiliconTCP, it didn’t take a lot of digging to put the pieces together.

Markoff and Lohr (NYTimes) have one of the best articles on the topic today – less hand wringing and more substance than most. But they could add one more line that would tie it up, something like:
“The real story is Apple vs. Dell. High cost factor for Dell is Windows. Mac still sells at a premium above Wintel, and the OS & developer base is open source, so Jobs is out of the Mac developer debacle and cost leveraged. And he still has Microsoft Apps like Office in the stable … for now.”

Apple may be having the hissy fit, but IBM doesn’t care. IBM doesn’t even need Apple anymore to showcase their chips given all the game console manufacturers who are using them. Apple has always been high maintenance and low volume – the worse of all sins to a processor vendor – but IBM tolerated them because of their “Hollywood” artist image. But now it turns out gaming is even more “mogul” than Macs. Who wins? Intel for one, who’s been desperate to get some Hollywood patina for years, enterprise systems and desktops being so boring.

Customers and vendors will also win – in the short run. Prices will drop and applications development should broaden, especially in leveraging open source development for the X86 more effectively. But the long run remains bleak for Apple’s desktop and laptop division. It was the only decision possible for Apple if IBM wouldn’t give them the price breaks they needed for margin. But it probably wasn’t the best decision.

Do You Smell Smoke — Oops, there goes a Server!

It takes time, but it’s lovely when you get borne out in an article, as Martin LaMonica discusses how Google manages to handle all those search queries. And it’s really simple – get cheap X86 machines, use an open source stripped-down kernel, fiddle with the filesystem to do simple block transfers with a simple triad mirror (master – dual slave) configuration. So low-cost, easy, and direct.

Of course, I recall the enterprise guys at the time laughing at using commodity cheap servers for “real enterprise applications”. So I guess Google isn’t a real enterprise application company, hmmm?

But there is a little nit in the ointment, so to speak. Power! Having lots of cheap servers and simple management reduces people overhead, but at the cost of much greater power consumption. As Urs Hoelzle, VP Operations and Engineering at Google says “”The physical cost of operations, excluding people, is directly proportional to power costs,” he said. “(Power) becomes a factor in running cheaper operations in a data center. It’s not just buying cheaper components but you also have to have an operating expense that makes sense.”

Do Patents Matter? Lynne Jolitz Says “There’s Gold in those parchments”

Ever since the Internet bubble burst, I’ve heard the same old refrain “Why file a patent? It’s costly – patent attorneys and research alone may cost up to a quarter of a million dollars. It’s slow – grants typically take 3-5 years, assuming you pass muster. And it’s useless – you’ve got to defend patents, and you get precious little for licensing them.

In my career, I’ve filed, fought for, and received patents, alone and with others. There’s no bigger rush than getting that parchment with the gold seal and red ribbon with your name on it. It is cool.

Recently an inventor of a granted patent, upon hearing of my latest grant and frustrated by his own lack of recognition, lashed out at me, saying “but what chance do you actually have of defending the patent?” Which got me thinking – Do Patents matter anymore?

Think this area is mined out. Hardly. Recent trends in patent litigation are proving very profitable to lawyers, entrepreneurs, and technologists. So dust off those patent portfolios and join Lynne Jolitz as I discuss Do Patents Matter?, a special In the DataCenter production.

In the DataCenter – ISP’s and Video Stream Revenues Part II

Continuing on the discussion of evaluating the vanishing value of video streams, Dan and I broaden the discussion to encompass other companies, not just ISP’s, who are dependent on moving more bits across that wire.

How much value a video stream provides is not only important for a datacenter group debating this issue to understand. It is also important to companies like Cisco. According to some of the “M&A” guys I chat with, Cisco’s entire acquisition strategy right now is predicated on delivery of VOIP/VOD/MMP – and massive video production aka MVP (“Massive Video Production Debut“) fits right in. It’s all about end-to-end quality from the tech perspective, and building service models that deliver value from the business perspective.

So what does Dan Kusnetzky, Program Vice President, System Software at IDC say about this…

In the DataCenter – ISP’s and Video Stream Revenues

A debate recently arose among the datacenter staff. The oldsters think the cost per stream is more than the value per stream right now, because the cost of media is high and everyone looks at things single (one at a time). But the youngsters have noticed that a lot of new content creators are coming online wanting lower cost deployment of media, and some even lower the production time/cost itself through use of services like . They worry that the value per stream is eroding fast, and that’s a lot of ISP’s bread and butter.

So even if the value per stream is currently high, as you increase the number of media creators, what does it do to the revenues of the service providers? Does it increase their value per stream?

I asked Dan Kusnetzky, Program Vice President, System Software at IDC what he thought of the vanishing value per video stream debate. And here’s what he told me…

So Scott McNealy Says “No” to Java Going Open Source.

So Jon Paczkowski of GMSV is surprised that Scott McNealy of Sun said “No” to Java going open source. Didn’t surprise me. In my “In the DataCenter” commentary Making Up Isn’t Hard to Do months ago, I warned my audience not to presume:

“…But if Microsoft is on the run, why should Sun settle right before trial? It all comes down to money and open source. Sun, a proprietary unix vendor, has watched its dominance in the Unix market steadily sink under a
sustained attack by the freebie killer Unix clones. A cool $1.6B will sure help the bottom line of a company that also announced, almost as an afterthought, a 9% RIF and a “bigger than expected” net loss. They need cash – clearly, and Microsoft has buckets of cash.

But what does Microsoft get out of all this? Well, aside from this annoying lawsuit, they get something much more significant – a Unix vendor who needs Microsoft more than Microsoft needs them. Oh, and that Java licensing stuff that started all these suits – they get that settled as well, to their liking. All’s well that ends well, right?

The upshot – don’t expect Java to go open source, IBM. And don’t expect Sun to support Unix clones, either. They’ve crossed their Rubicon, and in running a hardware server business, cash is king.”

UC Berkeley Students Collateral Damage in Budget Cuts

After 44 years, the UC system has decided to give up and winnow out qualified students, bumping many to the overloaded community college system. These students, in turn, will bump out qualified students hoping to work themselves into the Cal State and UC system in Kind of a “Survivor” meets “Goodbye Mr. Chips” reality show – but with a real downside.

Berkeley Chancellor Robert Berndahl expressed the concern in April’s Cal Monthly magazine that “everything Berkeley has achieved over the past half century as a university could be lost within a half decade”. Is Clark Kerr’s vision finally vanquished?

What is the impact of these higher education budget cuts on the Silicon Valley high-tech industry? Will the next generation have the skills to compete in a world economy? Join me in my next installment of In the DataCenter as I explore The High Cost of Innovation.

In the DataCenter: A Tale of Two Opinions

Santa Cruz Operation, the company that purchased the rights to Unix from Novell and then launched a series of lawsuits against IBM and high profile users of Linux, has had a somewhat difficult time of it enforcing what they claim is their “rights”, enduring reactions ranging from denial of service attacks from hackers to legal wrangling over just what rights they bought from Novell in the first place.

So it’s no surprise that once again, they are tacking into the wind. But is SCO sailing into calmer legal waters, or is it simply a lull before the storm? Did the “Eldred” case championed by Dr. Lessig of Stanford Law School provide the key to a new approach? Please join me In the DataCenter as I examine SCO’s new direction in A Tale of Two Opinions. [Format: mp4/Unix or QT6+/Mac or Windows].

Welcome to “In the DataCenter” – Topical Internet TV Tech Commentary

Well, a miracle finally occurred – Sun and Microsoft announced today that they were going to kiss and tell. The long-running antitrust lawsuit and bad blood is now at an end. In fact, they are eager to spread their prosperous love!

All the world loves a lover, and no one should miss such a wonderful opportunity. So in the spirit of spreading more good news, I’d like to invite people to tune into a topical Internet TV in-depth technology commentary program we’ve been working on at TeleMuse Networks called In the DataCenter, where we will find out that Making Up isn’t Hard to Do.

In partnership with ExecProducer, a stealth company working on very cool realtime video projects, In the DataCenter uses state-of-the-art video, server, and Internet technologies to instantly create rich media for wired and wireless networks.

Why am I doing this stuff, when I already write for the “dead tree” press? Well, it’s hard to instantly respond to a news announcement like the one today from Microsoft and Sun and place it in a magazine with a 3 month cycle. Yet it’s at exactly these times when expert commentary is most desired. So instead of reading it, we “webvid” it.

So I’m pleased to announce our first public In the DataCenter¬†written, shot, produced and sent to my newsletter groupies the same day the announcement was made. And no, I didn’t know about it ahead of time. I hope you enjoy it as much as my subscription audience did.