Open source spells doom for Oracle, DB2 . . . Sybase and other general-purpose databases, predicts Tim O’Reilly. “MySQL might do to databases what Apache did for Web serving,” says the president of technical book publisher and conference organiser O’Reilly & Associates. Apache, he claims, has forced Microsoft to make its IIS Web server software “effectively free in bundles”. David Axmark, co-founder and “open sorcerer” at MySQL, the developers of the open-source database, cautions that you won’t see Larry Ellison approving free deals for Oracle9i in the near future, if ever. Still, he says, “MySQL has already forced prices down in databases.” And the price pressure will pick up steam with the release of MySQL Enterprise in two years.
MySQL gets another small boost next month when Pogo Linux, a supplier of preconfigured Linux servers and workstations, ships its first database appliance, the DataWare 2600, at LinuxWorld in San Francisco. The company is MySQL’s first hardware partner, and it’s just a start-up. Still, the relentless open-source drumbeat pounding in the heads of operating system vendors is beginning to be heard by the database giants, too.
One of the more intriguing new products you’ll encounter shortly is from Procom Technology. William Long, vice president of product planning and development, assures everyone that the product, called Taurus, is neither a Ford nor an astrological sign, but rather a “bridge product” for wireless networks and network-attached storage. You probably didn’t even know that bridge needed crossing, but the Taurus serves as both a wireless access point and a data storage appliance. The Linux-based device offers a 182-metre line-of-sight access range from clients and has a simple LCD display for set-up and troubleshooting. Long claims that the small device (about the size of the latest Harry Potter novel) will start cropping up in public wireless hot spots because it’s easy to install and inexpensive. And since it has up to 250GB of local storage, it lets users publish gobs of information to the Web. A 40GB unit starts at $US1699.
Still have some pesky Macintoshes in your company? Well, starting now, you can back them up with Retrospect 5.1 for the Macintosh from Dantz Development. The upgrade adds Red Hat Linux client support (it already supported Windows clients) and a nifty disaster recovery CD that lets you boot dead-in-the-water Macs and recover your data using a single disc.
Web services can clog your network with extra overhead, so you need to test those applications stringently, advises CIO Michael Stoeckert of EPL an IT services firm for banks and credit unions. He says EPL has a new application for processing cheque orders its customers place with cheque printers, a service it couldn’t offer until the advent of XML, SOAP and other Web services protocols. Stoeckert uses LoadRunner, a network test tool from Mercury Interactive. He also runs Mercury’s SiteScope to track the services-based application as its packets trek to and fro because “latency can be a problem” when you are dealing with machines outside your own data centre. Stoeckert isn’t overly concerned about security for the application because “it was not architected as a Web service for a B2C model. We’re in the B2B world.” A much safer place.
A B2B operation of a different sort is being run by Geekcorps, a volunteer organisation that seeks technology experts who are willing to help businesses in developing countries design, deploy and run information technologies. So far, more than 1500 volunteers have contributed their know-how in places like Bulgaria, Ghana, Jordan and Mongolia. The usual stint takes three to four months. Geekcorps staffers say many IT pros sign on while between jobs. So, while you’re waiting for the recession to end and work to begin, you can give a little back to the planet.