VMware Goes Beyond Data Centers to Control the Cloud

Today VMware unveiled new products, new partnerships, and two acqusitions to help it become not just the operating system for the data center, but the means of assuring the flow of enterprise bits between data centers — or what many actually define as the cloud.

Does Your Smartphone Need a Split Personality?

VMware believes smartphones will be the next frontier in virtualization, as people want to use the same phone for work and play. But should handset makers focus on device virtualization or can such work-life balance on a handset be achieved via the cloud?

Why Cloud Computing Might Not Dampen IT Spending

The question was posed earlier this week as to whether cloud computing ultimately will represent a permanent downshift in IT spending, or whether it will become another channel for growth. Conventional wisdom, as well as Goldman Sachs, suggests the former: While spending will rise in the short-term as companies and cloud providers update their data centers, their investments in virtualization and automation technologies actually will decrease the need for spending in the long-term. It’s a solid theory, but I see the latter theory being equally possible.

Eucalyptus Enables Private Clouds on VMware

web-logo-eucalyptus-systemsEucalyptus said today that is offering the first commercial version of its open-source software used to create private clouds and that the software now supports VMware (s vmw), enabling enterprise customers that have embraced VMware for server consolidation to build private clouds on that infrastructure. Then, using Eucalyptus, they can bridge those private clouds to public ones, such as those provided by the likes of Amazon (s amzn). This offers enterprise customers an easier transition to the cloud and helps them leverage their investment in VMware beyond server consolidation.

Two New iPhone Commercials From Apple: Share and Travel

Apple (s aapl) recently introduced two brand new TV commercials, currently airing on U.S. cable and network television, that continue the “There’s an app for that” series of ads. The two new spots, called “Share” and “Travel,” both highlight features common to all currently sold iPhone models, instead of just the newer 3GS.

In “Share,” the focus is squarely on the new peer to peer connectivity introduced in OS 3.0 that allows iPhones in close proximity to discover each other for multiplayer gaming and sharing. The ad features three apps that use peer to peer in different ways. Mover (free, iTunes link) allows image sharing using an innovative and well-designed interface tailored to the iPhone’s touchscreen controls. Bump (free, iTunes link) allows contact info exchange, and is the app that won Apple’s billionth app downloaded contest. Finally, EA’s (s erts) Scrabble ($4.99, iTunes link) demonstrates the iPhone’s multiplayer gaming capabilities. Read More about Two New iPhone Commercials From Apple: Share and Travel

Oracle Buys Virtual Iron to Beef Up its Virtualization Software

logoOracle (s ORCL) today said it would buy Virtual Iron, a startup that has built a suite of virtualization software based on the Xen hypervisor. Terms of the deal were undisclosed, but Virtual Iron has raised more than $65 million in venture capital. The company’s products compete against VMWare (s vmw), Microsoft’s (s MSFT) Hyper-V and Citrix (s CTXS) XenServer. But it’s odd that Oracle, with its own Xen-based hypervisor, and as the soon-to-be owner of Sun’s xVM virtualization products (which also include a Xen-based hypervisor), felt the need for a third virtualization product. Is it cobbling all of these different hypervisors and software together for a full-on assualt on the virtualization market?

How Virtualization Saves Serious Computing Energy

The notion of virtualization in the computing industry — using software to better utilize computers and thus require less of them — has been around for over a decade, and VMware (s VMW) was one of the pioneers of adding virtualization to data centers. But in the face of competition, product commoditization, and projections for flat or lowered sales in the upcoming quarter, VMware has suddenly decided to point out how energy efficient and carbon-reductive its software is. Everyone needs an extra push in this economy.

Funny thing is, VMware has actually been helping computing companies save some serious energy and reduce carbon emissions since its founding in 1998 — they’re just fully marketing it now. Servers alone suck up about 1 percent of the world’s electricity use, and software and hardware design will be crucial to keeping that percentage low as more and more devices go online. Already 55 percent of IT firms budget for virtualization of servers. And the trend of marketing virtualization as a green tool — not just a way to save money by reducing the amount of servers purchased — will keep growing this year.

So how effective are VMware’s tools at saving energy and cutting carbon emissions? VMware says that since its inception, its virtualization software has helped companies save 105 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity, or about $11.6 billion. For individual companies, the tools can help cut energy consumption by 80 percent, and each server taken out of a datacenter cuts out four tons of carbon emissions.

New Boxee Alpha for Mac and Apple TV Released

boxeeDo-it-all media software Boxee just got a new update that should have Apple (s aapl) users jumping for joy. It incorporates elements from recent test releases and is now relatively bug-free compared to early antecedents. Those elements include Hulu and Pandora integration, as well as other App Box releases.
The alpha will get Hulu working again, in case you haven’t already downloaded the test fixes. The reason for Boxee’s renewed ability to play Hulu video is the new XULRunner browser it uses to play video, which sidesteps Hulu’s recent limitation of playback to non-browser based devices and applications. It also enables Boxee to play pretty much any video you can find on the web by adding URLs with video RSS feeds as sources. In the new alpha release, all of these features — and the new support for Pandora, PBS and RadioTime — are present, minus the bugs and connection issues that were present in the test builds. Read More about New Boxee Alpha for Mac and Apple TV Released

Shields Up! Twelve Security Holes Fixed by New iPhone/iPod touch Firmware

Weldon did a phenomenal job covering the visible and functional changes in the iPhone/iPod touch 2.2 firmware release. If you are holding off on the update, or just haven’t gotten to it yet, you may want to pencil in some time with iTunes as there are a twelve security fixes in this firmware release, each of which leaves your device and/or data vulnerable to attack.

  • CVE-2008-4228 & CVE-2008-4229 & CVE-2008-4230Passcode Lock – iPhone provides the ability to make an emergency call when locked. Currently, an emergency call may be placed to any number. A person with physical access to an iPhone may take advantage of this feature to place arbitrary calls which are charged to the iPhone owner. This update addresses the issue by restricting emergency calls to a limited set of phone numbers. Also, a person with physical access to the device had the ability (under certain circumstances) to launch applications without the passcode and if an SMS message arrived while the emergency call screen was visible, the entire SMS message would have been displayed, even if the “Show SMS Preview” preference was set to “OFF”.
  • CVE-2008-2327 & CVE-2008-1586 ImageIO – Viewing a TIFF image that was crafted to take advantage of poorly coded compression libraries could lead to attackers running any code they choose (i.e. arbitrary code execution) on your system or cause system instability/force a reset (Denial of Serivce/DoS)
  • CVE-2008-2321CoreGraphics – Very similar to the ImageIO problem, this involves attackers using a specially crafted web site to achieve the same results
  • CVE-2008-4227Networking – Your PPTP VPN connections may not be as strongly encrypted as they should be
  • CVE-2008-4211Office Viewer – If you view Excel files on your device, you are susceptible to arbitrary code execution or DoS attacks
  • CVE-2008-4231 & CVE-2008-4232 & CVE-2008-4233Safari – Nasty HTML TABLES (and, when are HTML TABLES not nasty?) and insidious IFRAMEs lead the list of Safari problems, but a particularly tricky bug regarding phone calls you did not deliberately make is now fixed by Apple properly dismissing Safari’s call approval dialogs when an application is being launched via Safari.
  • CVE-2008-3644WebKit – Even if you were a good web programmer and disabled autocomplete on “sensitive” form fields, Mobile Safari may still have saved that field data in the browser page cache. Individuals with physical access to the device could pretty easily gain access to that information.

Organizations that allow iPhones to be used for business purposes should do their best to ensure all users are upgraded as soon as possible. Individuals should take note of the reduced security posture prior to the 2.2 firmware and make their own risk-based decisions (but upgrading gets you the cool new Street View, so go ahead and upgrade now!).