The day before CeBIT dawned gray and threatening, but gave false hope with a brief period of sun. In March, the German weather can be fickle. Fortunately, that was the only fickleness of the day. The-day-before-CeBIT is a period of press conferences and speechifying, apparently in an effort to remove any remaining powers of discrimination we may have retained from last year, or to keep us from spending too much time wandering around the show floors during setup and bothering the vendors.
We found out two important things about CeBIT this year. The first is that the guy who actually runs things, Hannover Fairs Senior Vice President Dr. Sven Prüser, has managed to find a way around a transit strike that could bring the show to a halt. Somehow, he convinced the unions to strike only between the hours of 3:00 a.m. and 7:00 a.m. -- hours when nobody would be going to CeBIT anyway.
The second thing is that he announced that CeBIT would try to include more conferences and seminars. As he mentioned, companies are starting to insist that their employees attending the show actually learn something.
Other major announcements today included Siemens admitting to the thinly kept secret that the company would be dropping out of the hardware business, and selling only software. The idea, according to company reps, was to create a series of open-standards-based unified communications, voice and video software products. The HiPath 8000, for example, would no longer be delivered on an IBM xSeries server. You'd have to buy your own.
Microsoft, meanwhile, flew in CEO Steve Ballmer to talk about green IT. He highlighted a power management program called YelloStrom, which uses Microsoft technology to automate meter reading and to give homeowners access to their historical usage data. Ballmer also talked about how his own company was building new data centers that emphasize energy efficiency. In Microsoft's case, that means, among other things, building a data center next to a hydroelectric dam in Washington State.
Ballmer also announced Search Server 2008 for a range of businesses, and Silverlight Blueprint for streaming media. He said Microsoft would be releasing Exchange Online and SharePoint Online in beta form in the United States in the next few days.
The dark and threatening day continued with periods of crummy weather punctuated by really bad weather. Ah, Germany in early March.
- Wayne Rash