International News


America: NetIQ launches AppManager beta

Computerworld staff

NetIQ Corp. in San Jose has announced a beta version of Net AppManager 6.0, which is designed to enable IT groups to manage service delivery to internal users in networks and systems. It is also able to measure compliance with service-level agreements. The beta version of Net AppManager 6.0 is available now; the product will be generally available before July. It is priced at US$2,500.

America: HP designs new notebooks to take a beating

Tom Krazit, IDG News Service/Boston

Feel free to drop this notebook on the floor, or leave it out in the rain overnight. Hewlett-Packard Co.'s (HP's) first ruggedized notebook and Tablet PC are able to withstand those types of abuse by workers in demanding environments and military personnel. The HP Rugged Notebook nr3600 launched Thursday, alongside the HP Rugged Tablet PC tr3000. Both products were developed in partnership with Itronix Corp., which has manufactured these types of notebooks for some time under the GoBook II brand.

Mobile workers such as appliance repairmen, police officers and utility workers need computing power as much as any business traveler or salesperson. But the demands of their environments require a notebook that can stand up to extreme weather conditions and frequent movements.

These workers also need to be in contact with their home offices on an almost constant basis. Both notebook and Tablet PC users can simultaneously operate up to three integrated wireless radios, including Bluetooth, 802.11 wireless LAN technology, and cellular technologies such as GPRS (General Packet Radio Services) and CDMA (Code Division Multiple Access).

If they choose, customers can also install other types of radio technology with replaceable radio modules, said Ben Thacker, a business development manager with HP. The notebooks are designed for three to eight-year lifecycles, and customers like the flexibility to keep up with changing wireless standards, he said.

The notebook uses a 1.7GHz Pentium 4 processor from Intel Corp. Faster processors are available, but because the nr3600 is sealed to prevent rain from leaking into the unit, it needs to operate without a fan directly over the processor, Thacker said. If HP had used a chip that ran any faster, it would be extremely difficult to remove the heat from the processor using the heat exchanger built into the notebook, he said.

Both the notebook and the Tablet PC were designed to exceed U.S. military specifications for rugged products, Thacker said. This involves dropping the notebook 26 times from a height of 3 feet (0.9 meters) onto a surface of plywood laid over concrete, and verifying the unit will operate in temperatures ranging from minus-23 degrees to 60 degrees Celsius (-10 degrees to 140 degrees Fahrenheit). Other tests include water resistance, vibration endurance, and dust protection.

The nr3600 notebook has a list price of US$4,099, and comes with the 1.7GHz Pentium 4 processor, 256M bytes of PC2100 (266MHz) DDR (double data rate) SDRAM (synchronous dynamic RAM), a 40G-byte ruggedized hard drive, a 12.1-inch touchscreen display, and Microsoft Corp.'s Windows XP Professional operating system. It weighs 7.9 pounds (3.6 kilograms).

HP will sell the tr3000 Tablet PC for a list price of $3,449. It comes with a 933MHz ultra-low voltage Mobile Pentium III processor from Intel, 256M bytes of low voltage SDRAM, a 40G-byte hard drive, an 8.4-inch touchscreen display, and Microsoft's Windows XP Tablet PC Edition operating system. It weighs 3.7 pounds.

Both units are available through HP's Web site Thursday. HP and Itronix will continue to work on designs together as the market for ruggedized products grows, according to both companies.

America: HP Dell, target SMB with storage offerings

Robert McMillan, IDG News Service/San Francisco

Hewlett-Packard and Dell Inc. announced new storage products aimed at making network-centric storage more attractive to the small and medium-sized business (SMB) marketplace.

Dell will begin shipping a replacement for its 1U (1.76 inch) rack-mounted PowerVault 725N network-attached storage (NAS) server, called the 745N. In addition to a faster processor speed, the 745N will have a capacity of 4T bytes of SCSI (Small Computer System Interface) attached storage - four times the limit of the 725 - and will include snapshot software that will allow customers to easily back up and restore the system.

The 745N runs Windows Storage Server 2003, and will be available with between 160 GB and 4 TB of storage, and Celeron or Pentium 4 processors ranging up to 3.2GHz.

Also on Monday, HP will announce plans to widen its networked storage offerings for SMBs. "We're seeing explosive growth in data. This is impacting small businesses as well," said Kyle Fitze, the director of product marketing for online storage with HP. "With these new products and technologies we can finally deliver that efficiency of storage management and deployment to a new class of customers," he said.

By July of this year, HP plans to begin shipping a new member of its Modular Smart Array line of networked storage arrays for small and medium-sized business that will be based on the Serial ATA (Advanced Technology Attachment) interconnect. Serial ATA works with inexpensive drives, but still allows users to "hot plug" new drives without turning off the array. It also has an architecture that makes it work well with large pools of data storage, according to Fitze. "We thought that this technology could be leveraged very nicely to an entry-level SAN environment," he said.

If HP can help users deploy easy-to-use, inexpensive SAN arrays using Serial ATA, it might have some success selling to the SMB market, said John McArthur, an analyst with research firm IDC. To date, SMBs have been slow to adopt SANs because of the high cost of the Fibre Channel drives most commonly used by SANs, he said.

Also in the works is a new HP StorageWorks B-series line of SAN switches, based on 8-port and 16-port Fibre Channel switches from Brocade Communications Systems Inc., as well as a tape autoloader, capable of storing six 72G-byte data cartridges, called the DAT 72x6.

The DAT 72x6 will be available later this month, starting at US$2,799. When the B-series switches begin shipping in April, an 8-port model will cost $5,000. Customers will pay $12,500 for a 16-port model.

Europe: Cebit: Suse Linux 9.1 launches in Hanover

LinuxWorld staff

"Users will see a three- to five-percent performance increase in the same machine under the new software," said Charlie Ungashick, Novell's director of product marketing, referring to the fact that, because Linux 2.6 is more efficient, users? computers would be better able to handle multiple streams of audio and visual media, as well as use Linux with 64-bit processors.

This was the trade show debut of the complete Linux package for personal users with Linux kernel 2.6 and desktop KDE 3.2, and Horst Nebgen, Managing Director of Novell Germany and Regional Vice President Central Europe, explained that it was Novell's first appearance at Cebit since acquiring its two new product divisions - Suse Linux and Ximian.

"We now offer enterprises a complete Linux-based IT infrastructure from the server to the desktop," said Nebgen." Combined with proven Novell products like NetWare or eDirectory, enterprises are provided with independence and the freedom to decide for the platforms and solutions that best meet their requirements," he added.

Marina Walser, Marketing Director Central Europe at Novell and Cambridge, was vocal too: "The effective deployment of IT as well as the increase of flexibility and cost reduction are the central issues for enterprises in this age of low budgets. We will present solutions by means of which we can assist enterprises in achieving these goals. One example for this is the resource management which enterprises can use to consolidate all systems. The reduced complexity of the IT infrastructure provides an enormous saving potential."

Europe: Cebit: Wooden monitors prove a hard sell

Sumner Lemon, IDG News ServiceTaipei

European users haven't exactly warmed to the idea of wood-cased computer peripherals, according to a Swedish vendor of the distinctive-looking products.

Stockholm startup Swedx AB, a maker of LCD monitors, mice and keyboards that are cased in solid wood, first launched its products at the Cebit exhibition last year, said Fawzi Salloum, vice president of the company, speaking on the sidelines of this year's show in Hanover, Germany.

Sales haven't exactly taken off, Salloum said, explaining the company is selling 3,000 of its wood-cased monitors each month. That doesn't account for very much of the European market for flat-panel displays, which Salloum estimated at around 4 million units per year.

Despite slow sales, Swedx isn't giving up on the idea of wood-cased computer peripherals and Salloum is hopeful that the company's fortunes will improve. "Day by day we are setting up new (sales) channels," Salloum said, explaining that the company's first year involved marketing the company's products to potential distributors across Europe.

The company currently offers LCD monitors in three screen sizes - a 15-inch version for Euro 458, a 17-inch offering (Euro 604) and a 19-inch version (Euro 1,044) - as well as a USB keyboard and a USB mouse and a wireless mouse. Pricing for the mice and keyboard was not immediately available.

Each of the products is available in a choice of three woods: ash from the U.S., beech from Germany and sapele from Africa, Salloum said, adding that the monitors are meant to appeal to a broad range of customers, including home users and senior corporate executives.

Swedx draws on Sweden's rich history of woodworking and its reputation as a provider of high-technology products, the company's brochure said. "One of the main advantages of our product range is that it is environmentally friendly," the brochure noted. "Swedx gives you access to a wonderful world of more feelings and beauty." Looking ahead, Salloum hopes to see the company reach profitability "soon" and believes the company's message and its unique array of products is striking a chord with some users. "Spain and Luxembourg are pretty good markets for us," he said.

Europe: Cebit: Nanode redefines the meaning of small PC

Sumner Lemon, IDG News Service/Taipei

The Nanode gives new meaning to small-form factor PCs. Measuring 9.4 by 15 by 16 cm, the Nanode is one of the smallest fully-configured desktop computers ever made. The Nanode is based on Via Technologies's upcoming Nano-ITX motherboard and will start shipping during the next three months, said Richard Brown, VP marketing at Via, speaking on the sidelines of the Cebit exhibition in Hanover, Germany.

Pricing for the Nanode has not yet been determined and the final configuration could change between now and when it goes on sale. The Nanode's price will depend on the price of the Nano-ITX boards, which has not yet been set, Brown said, noting that the PCs will be sold online at The Nano-ITX motherboard will also begin to ship during the second quarter of this year and the Nanode will be the first computer that will employ the new boards, Brown said.

The Nano-ITX motherboard was first shown by Via at the Computex exhibition in Taipei last September. The boards are strikingly small, measuring 120 by 120 mms. That makes them smaller than Via's Mini-ITX motherboard form factor, currently the smallest available PC motherboard form factor, measuring 170 by 170 mm.

The Nano-ITX boards run Via's C3 processor running at 533 MHz, 800MHz and 1GHz. None of these processors require a cooling fan, which means that the PC can be substantially quieter than other computers based on processors requiring cooling fans. The Nanode will be available in two versions when it goes on sale, said Ewan Wilcocks of, noting that the specific configurations have yet to be finalized.

The first version will offer a hard-disk with 20 to 40 GB and a CD-ROM, Wilcocks said, adding that 802.11g wireless networking may be available as an option. The second version of the Nanode is a thin-client without a hard drive and a CD-ROM. The Nanode's case is made of aluminum and has a baked ceramic finish, said designer Angus Morrison of Hoojum Design. The Nanode will only be available in one color, white, he said.

Asia and Pacific: Pioneer gives lowdown on VoIP

Lawrence Casiraya, Computerworld Philippines

Making long-distance calls through the Internet without a telephone operator is a novel experience. But it's also a new business proposition that telcos and even ISPs would most definitely want to scrutinize even more thoroughly. But VoIP remains a very much misunderstood concept, according to Johnny Sy, who heads the IT operations of network giant ABS-CBN Broadcasting Corp. "Many think it's a way of using the Internet to make free calls to bypass carriers," he said. "To a large degree, we're seeing that it's not the case." One of the few Filipino IT professionals who can boast of actual and extensive experience in VoIP, Sy certainly knows what he is talking about. Long before telcos and ISPs began their acrimonious debate over who should market Net-based telephony services to the public, he and his pioneering IT crew were already building and operating a VoIP system for ABS-CBN.

Africa: Comparex Africa to adopt Business Connexion brand

Computing South Africa staff

Comparex Africa has has decided to take the company forward under the brand of "Business Connexion". The new name will come into effect on 28 April, when the official launch is scheduled to take place. According to Peter Watt, CEO of the company, the decision to adopt the name of its black empowerment partner reaffirms management's commitment to embrace transformation. At a recent executive committee meeting, management voted unanimously to adopt the new identity.