Movers, Shakers, Data Theft
and Green Power"> Gates, McNealy Step Aside Two of the tech industrys founding giants and, for much of the past two-plus decades, fierce rivals, Microsofts Gates and Suns McNealy in 2006 stepped down from leadership positions at their respective companies.McNealy, on the other hand, after announcing he would be stepping down as Sun CEO to make room for President Jonathan Schwartz, has pretty much handed over the reins to his successor. That wasnt surprising, since Schwartz was given much of the credit for Suns bold moves over the past couple of years, including embracing AMDs Opteron chips and Suns decision to open-source much of its technology. VA Data Theft The theft in May of a laptop and hard drive containing the names, Social Security numbers and dates of birth of millions of retired veterans, active-duty personnel and some spouses brought into sharp focus the issue of security-sensitive data on employee notebooks. The laptop and external hard drive were stolen from the Maryland home of an unnamed Department of Veterans Affairs employee who had taken the data home to work on a personal project. The computer and hard drive were found a month later, and three teenagers were arrested in August in connection with the theft, but the theft of the data angered veteran and military groups. A probe by the VA inspector criticized the lax oversight of records at the organization and the poor response from officials once the initial report of the theft had been filed. Oracles Buying Spree Continues Any thoughts that Oracles hot buying spree of 2005 would cool off in 2006 were dashed when the software maker completed the acquisition of Siebel Systems in January, marking the beginning of another busy year for Oracle. This year, Oracle has bought 13 companies, equaling the number of purchases in 2005. From 360Commerce in January to Portal Software in April to Stellent in November, Oracle gobbled up companies big and small, in large part to build up its enterprise application offerings. A number of companies involved in the land grabHotSip and Sunopsis, for examplewere targeted to build up Oracles middleware capabilities, while other Oracle movessuch as its acquisition of SleepyCat Softwaretargeted the database space. HP passes Dell in PC biz In the third quarter of 2006, according to research companies Gartner and IDC, HP overtook Dell as the top PC vendor worldwide, regaining the position that Dell had held since the fourth quarter of 2003. But the numbers reflected more than simply an industry ranking and highlighted a reversal of fortune for the two rivals. HP, which struggled during Fiorinas tenure, became a more focused and streamlined company after Hurd took over in 2005. The results were put on display in 2006, with HP showing big revenue gains throughout the year, including a 7 percent increase in its fiscal fourth quarter. In contrast, 2006 was a year of challenges for Dell. Revenue growth slowed, and the company was dogged by a Securities and Exchange Commission investigation into its finances, the recall of 4.1 million Sony batteries in some of its laptopsthough a number of other OEMs also recalled the batteriesand continued problems with its customer support. Vista Debuts It wasnt until the last day of the 11th month of the year that Microsoft finally rolled out Vista for businesses, the first new version of the companys operating system since Windows XP five years ago. But there was certainly enough buildup in the months leading up to the Nov. 30 release. Upon Vistas releaseMicrosoft also released Office 2007 and Exchange Server 2007 the same daythe overall reaction was mixed. Did the operating system have some cool new features? Sure. But there was doubt over how quickly enterprises will adopt Vistathe general time frame is 12 to 18 monthsand how compatible current hardware is with Vista. Some industry analysts also said Microsoft would end up losing money this holiday season by not having the consumer version ready until late January 2007. And Dont Forget In 2006, the greening of the data center continued, with chip makers and OEMs continuing to roll out more energy-efficient products. Efforts were made to bridge the gap between IT administrators and facilities managers, and governmental bodies, including Congress, showed an increased interest in the issue. Net neutrality found its way into Congress as legislators were asked to decide whether telecommunications giants could charge extra for enhanced services or had to treat all Internet traffic as equal. Google bought YouTube for $1.65 billion in a power play against established mass-media models. Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest news, views and analysis on servers, switches and networking protocols for the enterprise and small businesses.
Gates, Microsofts co-founder, chairman and chief software architect, said in June that he will leave the company in 2008 and that two chief technology officers, Ray Ozzie and Craig Mundie, would take over his software chief role. Gates said he wants to spend more time on his charitable work through the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.