Friday, November 16, 2012

Asetek Debuts New Inside Server Air Conditioning Server Cooling

Asetek is planning on showcasing its patented ISAC, or Inside Server Air Conditioning, reference design at the upcoming SC12 Supercomputing Convention. ISAC completely eliminates the need for CRAC, or Computer Room Air Conditioning, in a data center. All the air inside the server stays inside the server and recirculates as opposed to exiting and heating up the data center. In addition to that, each CPU is liquid cooled with Asetek's proprietary liquid cooling while a liquid-to-air heat exchanger inside the server cools the internal server air. Each component inside the server also sees the same temperature and air-flow as it would in a standard data center install.

According to Vice President of Engineering for Asetek Ole Madsen, "While this may sound complicated on the surface, this is brilliantly simple. The demonstration server we are showing here is a 100% standard Intel H2216JFJR 2U 4 node server and besides installing our liquid cooling system, we have not changed a screw, this is just engineering at its best."

The ISAC server will integrate with Asetek's RackCDU, which will provide substantial cost savings in data center infrastructure. Due to the fact that 100% of all the server's heat is being transferred into water, users can expect to experience savings of at least 60% on their cooling power bill with immediate payback often occurring. In addition to that, because the hot water generated can be reused for a facility's heating or cooling, data center operators can now achieve EREs of <1.

The ISAC, in addition to saving data center power, also has a strong value proposition where dust and other environmental factors are a challenge. Areas like military operations, field operations, container data centers and even Formula 1 paddock data centers can benefit from this type of sealed design.

Andre Eriksen, Chief Executive Officer of Asetek, added, "Up until now, if you wanted to remove 100% server heat by liquid, you would have to invest in very expensive and proprietary technologies with large cold plates covering the entire motherboard, memory modules, etc. ISAC has the potential to revolutionize the data center cooling market. Instead of cooling an entire building, you are now only cooling the tiny volume within each server and the associated benefits are obvious."

Source: Xbit Laboratories - Asetek Introduces Inside Server Air Conditioning Cooling Solution for Servers

Friday, October 5, 2012

Top Companies Looking at ELE Servers

Some of the top names in the computer industry, including Dell, HP and SeaMicro (which is owned by Advanced Micro Devices), are looking into developing low-power servers for data centers. Recent reports have indicated that extremely low-energy servers will take up 2.4% of the market for servers that run on Intel chips by the year 2015.

The key thing that these companies are looking into is energy costs due to the power needed to cool large server farms. Some of the newer data centers that have been built recently pack in tens of thousands of computer servers that generate internet content and cloud services.

According to Kiyomi Yamada, an analyst for Gartner, "Currently, the extremely low-energy server market consists of small providers, such as SeaMicro, now under AMD, and Super Micro. Some major OEMs including HP and Dell have announced that they would enter the market, as well as smaller vendors like Boston Limited."

AMD was a rather surprising addition to the market when it acquired SeaMicro back in February for $334 million. According to a recent report from Gartner, the worldwide server market reached $52.8 billion in 2011. Profit margins, however, were thin, causing vendors to look into branching out to emerging categories like extremely low-energy machines.

Source: - HP, Dell, AMD Target Low-Energy Servers, A Hot Market

Friday, September 21, 2012

Dell Debuts New PowerEdge C8000 Series Servers

According to recent reports, Dell has unveiled some new servers based on designs that the company will soon be putting into effect in an upcoming 10-petaflop supercomputer known as Stampede. The servers being implemented, which are PowerEdge C8000 servers, use Intel x86 CPUs and offer the flexibility to include graphics processors or even more storage, allowing you to improve performance on database, high-performance computing or cloud computing.

Users will have the ability to experiment with graphics processors, storage, memory and other elements inside servers depending on their computing needs. A lot of inspiration for these servers came from the Stampede supercomputer itself, which is still in development.

The servers will be using Intel's Xeon eight-core E5-2600 processors and coprocessors, nicknamed Knights Corner, which are expected to increase the speed of scientific and mathematical calculations. The Stampede supercomputer is a compilation of thousands of C8000-series servers that has a total of 272TB of memory along with 14 petabytes of storage.

The chassis for the PowerEdge C8000 can have up to eight blade servers with each server having between two CPUs with 16 processing cores, two internal hard drives or other storage and networking options. The servers themselves are targeted towards hosting services, Web serving and other cloud applications, according to Dell's Product Manager Armando Acosta. There are two other versions of the server, the C8220X and the C8220. The C8220X is more advanced and allows for more RAM and storage, as well as an option to add graphics processors.

In addition to that, the servers can be hooked up to the new C8000XD storage box for expandable hard drive or SSD storage. The servers are also designed for deployment in highly parallel computing environments with their ability to fit graphics processors providing the capability to offer higher performance-per-watt and the internal hard drives offering more storage capacity. What's more is that the expandable storage box provides more long-term storage and caching for databases.

According to Dell, the new PowerEdge C8220 will have a starting price of $35,000 with eight blade servers in the chassis. The C8220X will start at $42,000 and the C8000XD somewhere between $25,000 and $27,000.

Source: - Dell showcases new servers from supercomputer

Friday, August 10, 2012

Blizzard's Servers Hacked, the huge game servers that house all the player information for Blizzard Entertainment's three major games (World of Warcraft, StarCraft and Diablo), has officially been hacked the company has just confirmed. According to an update posted on Blizzard's official website from President Mike Morhaime, financial information, including real names, billing addresses and credit card numbers, seem to be safe, though a list of email addresses, personal security questions and "information relating to Mobile and Dial-In Authenticators" has been accessed. In addition to that, a list of cryptographically scrambled passwords were also accessed.

Morhaime and Blizzard were quick to state that the information was not enough for any hacker to gain access to a user's accounts, though users should still take precautions. This hack affects users outside of China and Morhaime is also recommending that anyone using North American servers change their passwords. This typically includes users in North America, Latin America, Australia, New Zealand and Southeast Asia.

In the days following this announcement, North American server users will be asked to change their secret question while Blizzard will also be issuing an update to its authenticator software, which is something that most players should already use. World of Warcraft accounts get hacked regularly with hackers trying to steal in-game currency and high-level items.

According to a statement from Blizzard, "We take the security of your personal information very seriously, and we are truly sorry that this has happened. Like all companies doing business online, it is not an uncommon occurrence to experience outside parties trying to illegitimately gain access to the operation's structure at some level."

If you play World of Warcraft, StarCraft II or Diablo III then I highly recommend changing your information, mainly just your password and security question. With the amount of money that goes through these games from players, a hacked server is something nobody wants to see.

Source: - Blizzard reports hack of its game server
G4 - Hacker, User Information Obtained
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Friday, July 27, 2012

Toshiba Developing Flash-Based Data Center Products

Toshiba announced on Tuesday that it has started developing a line of products designed for storing large amounts of data and that these new products would be based on the company's flash memory chips. Toshiba is working on a three-tier strategy that it hopes will spur in-house demand for NAND flash memory.

Toshiba will offer memory chips for use in storage hardware, data servers that combine hard disks, solid-state drives and flash and software services for analyzing and handling large amounts of data. According to Senior Engineer at Toshiba Masaki Momodomi, "Up until now we've sold mostly to outside companies, but we want to strengthen our own offerings."

NAND flash makers like Toshiba are in a constant race to out-do each other and create chips with finer circuits, ultimately offering cheaper storage and better efficiency. However, they are closing in on the physical limits possible with our current technology. Toshiba has, until recently, focused on out-shrinking rival companies and was the first to launch solid-state drives with 19-nanometer memory.

Momodomi also added that Toshiba will offer chips smaller than 19-nanometers, but will remain in the teens over the next two years. In addition to that, Toshiba stated that it is working on 3D storage, which could be a possible successor to the current NAND flash technology that stacks memory in layers, allowing for greater density. Toshiba also says that it will have prototype samples ready by 2013.

Toshiba announced this new effort as part of the company's new research and development strategy. Toshiba showed several upcoming products at its central headquarters in Tokyo, including quantum encryption and home lighting based on organic light-emitting diodes. Toshiba also announced that its strategy going forward is also focused on adding headcount outside of Japan.

70% of the company's new research personnel through the fiscal year ending in March 2015 will be hired outside of Japan and the bulk of the new hires will come from China, India and Vietnam, countries where projects will focus on technologies and products meant for the countries where they are developed. According to Akira Sudo, a Research and Development Executive for Toshiba, "We have to keep a firm grasp on the global trends."

Source: Computer World - Toshiba to develop data center products based on its flash memory chips
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Friday, July 13, 2012

Network Solution Rentals When You Need Them the Most

If you ever need a complete network solution at a moment's notice then you don't have a lot of options. Buying one is way too expensive, especially if you only need it temporarily, which is why most business professionals turn to renting a network solution instead. has been offering network solution rentals to the business world for over 25 years, accumulating tremendous industry experience along with an army of technicians, engineers, installers and Tech Travel Agents to help you get the complete network solution that you need, when you need it.

With every rental you choose from you get to work alongside a Tech Travel Agent. Tech Travel Agents are personal consultants and your single point of contact for anything involving your rental. Your Tech Travel Agent will handle the procurement of every piece of equipment for your network solution rental. From every desktop and laptop to server and server peripherals, your Tech Travel Agent will make sure you have everything you need to fully connect you and your team to the internet and each other.

What's more is that your Tech Travel Agent can also acquire additional technology for you as well, including office equipment rentals like printers, copiers or fax machines. No matter what you need, when you need it and where you need it, your Tech Travel Agent will make it happen.

Did I mention that your network solution rental can also be delivered anywhere in the entire country? You can get every single piece of your equipment delivered directly to you no matter where you are. Need something delivered directly to a convention center or trade show booth? No problem. Once your equipment arrives by way of a local engineer, that professional will also set up and test everything for you, ensuring that everything is working like it needs to.

Renting a full network solution from is one of the smartest and easiest things you can do if you need an entire network solution quickly. Not only do you get access to the latest technology on the market but you also get access to professional engineers and technicians that are there to offer their expertise whenever you need it. With over 25 years of experience in the industry, nothing beats a network solution rental from

Friday, June 29, 2012

Google Debuts Compute Engine to Compete with Amazon EC2

Google has decided to open up its global datacenters to all who need access to large amounts of computer horsepower. The company has opened up its service called Compute Engine, which allows companies and developers to get into Google's hardware. Those who sign up for the new service will be able to run nearly any program that they want to on Google's servers.

Many people see this move as a way for Google to compete against Amazon and Microsoft, both of which offer similar services. Urs Holzle, who oversees Google's infrastructure, debuted Compute Engine at the I/O Developers Conference recently. Holzle said that the service was aimed at organizations that needed to call on huge amounts of computing power. Holzle also demonstrated the service by showing a genetic analysis application that used 600,000 processors.

Compute Engine will go along with Google's App Engine that was released back in 2008. The older service has a lot of restrictions on the applications that can run on Google's servers and even goes as far as to limit what programming language software developers can use. In comparison, Compute Engine will be packaged as a "raw" service and give customers a lot more freedom to run applications.

Google has stated that the service is currently in a test phase that would last a couple of months before it was fully opened to the public. In addition to that, the company said that its expertise in running large data centers meant that it would be able to undercut rivals and offer nearly 50% more computer power for every dollar spent.

As I mentioned earlier, Compute Engine will have Google squaring off against both Amazon and Microsoft in this industry. Amazon's Elastic Compute Cloud  (EC2) service is currently the market leader in barebones processing and has been very successful, so much so that it is estimated to be behind 1% of all net traffic. A lot of firms use EC2, as well as similar services, like Microsoft's Windows Azure, which allow them to handle spikes and peaks in traffic.

Source: BBC News - Google sets up 'raw' server service
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Friday, June 15, 2012

Cisco and Fusion-IO Team Up for Flash on UCS Blade Server Systems

Cisco Systems is planning on teaming up with Fusion-IO's flash storage modules later this year which will make the company the latest server manufacturer to offer the technology already available in servers from IBM, Dell and HP. Fusion-IO announced last Monday that this is the first Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) partnership the company has had with Cisco.

In addition to that, Fusion-IO will supply its ioMemory modules and software for use in Cisco's B-Series Unified Computing System (UCS) blade servers. Fusion-IO also provided demonstrations at the Cisco Live user conference last week in San Diego.

Fusion-IO is known for making flash storage subsystems that are integrated into servers via a PCle slot as opposed to being located on external storage systems. This type of storage is generally more directly accessible than conventional solid-state disks (SSD) and is also designed to accelerate application performance. Fusion-IO has also developed flash subsystems with HP for use in its BladeSystem c-Class servers and also with IBM for its xSeries line. Dell and SuperMicro servers also benefit from Fusion-IO subsystems as well.

The UCS platform used by Cisco was introduced back in 2009 and has moved up to being the third most incorporated blade server in the world, boasting more than 11,000 customers. Even though there are also rack mount UCS servers, blade servers are still the most utilized of the product line. Cisco uses blade servers in a platform that includes virtualization, network connections, access to storage and management software. Cisco also has storage partnerships with EMS as well as VMware through its VCE alliance and NetApp.

The first Fusion-IO components for UCS will be based on Fusion-IO's ioMemory2 technology, an upgrade that was announced at the beginning of this year and will eventually ship from all of the company's OEM partners. Pricing and available capacities have yet to be unveiled, though you can expect that information to come just before commercial release of the product.

Source: Computer World - Fusion-IO on-server flash coming to Cisco's UCS blade systems

Friday, June 1, 2012

Windows Server 2012 Release Candidate Goes Live

Microsoft has just unleashed the Release Candidate of Server 2012. Release Candidate versions are usually the very last beta versions of a Microsoft server operating system before the launch of the actual release, and this Server 2012 Release Candidate confirms that Microsoft is dedicated to the Metro interface.

Many IT professionals were skeptical about the usefulness of including a consumer-oriented touch UI in a server product, especially one that targets businesses and professional use. However, despite all that, Metro remains in Server with a GUI install option. The Release Candidate edition also has a couple of minor changes over the Server "8" beta, though most of them are purely cosmetic.

The most noticeable change is that the moniker Server 8 Beta has been completely replaced with Server 2012 in the splash screen and installation screens whenever you perform a Server with GIU installation. In addition to that, the background color during installation has been changed as well as in the Metro-style Start screen. The dull green has been replaced by a vivid dark blue, though server administrators have no ability to change this, unlike the screen in the beta release of the Windows 8 client operating system.

An extra setting has been added under the Server 2012's Charms Menu and is known as Tiles. This option doesn't provide any new setting controls over the beta release, though it does launch the settings that allow you to enable and disable administrative tools as well as allow admins to have clear personal info from the tiles. In the beta version, these same options were available directly under Settings; Microsoft has simply added an extra step in order to access them.

The Release Candidate's Start screen has eight tiles by default, which comprise the Start menu, whereas the beta only had seven tiles. These tiles are labeled as Server Manager, Windows PowerShell, Administrative Tools, Computer, Task Manager, Control Panel, IE and Desktop. The final change is that when you right-click on the Start screen, the "All Apps" icon is now on the bottom right-hand side instead of the left.

There also doesn't seem to be any way to disable Metro in the Release Candidate, though it is safe to assume that the user interface will be in the final release product. Server administrators can also choose to bypass the Metro user interface and simply use the Desktop and Server Manager for administration. If that doesn't do it for you then you can also choose to install Server 2012 in command-line Core mode.

This Release Candidate is probably going to be very close to what the final product is going to be like for Server 2012. There weren't a lot of things that were changed from the Beta version to the Release Candidate version and you can expect that any changes made before launch will be mostly under-the-hood.

Source: PC Mag - Windows Server 2012 Release Candidate: Metro Lives!
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Friday, May 18, 2012

Dell Announces PowerEdge C5220 Microserver with Ivy Bridge Xeon Chips

Dell recently announced an all new microserver that has Intel's first Xeon server processors that are based on the Ivy Bridge microarchitecture. The funny thing is that the Ivy Bridge microarchitecture hasn't even been officially announced by the chip maker. The PowerEdge C5220 from Dell is one of the first servers with Xeon chips based on the Ivy Bridge microarchitecture and is targeted at web 2.0, cloud and high-performance applications, according to Dell.

The server will run on Intel's Xeon E3-1200 V2 series of processors which are said to be faster and more power-efficient than the previous E3 chips that were based on Intel's Sandy Bridge processors. A spokesman for Intel said that the new chips provide more performance-per-watt, and a server with E3-1200 V2 processors drawing 17 watts of power in a 3U rack space could provide as much as 53% more performance than a 20-watt Sandy Bridge Xeon CPU.

According to Dell, the Xeon E3-1200 V2 chips draw between 17 to 45 watts of power and are made using the 22-nanometer process. In addition to that, these chips include 3D transistors, which are faster and more power-efficient than the 2D transistors that are found in the existing 32-nanometer process chips. Unfortunately, Intel was unable to disclose any other information on the new Xeon processors though the company did announce in April that it was planning on releasing its first Xeon server chips based on the Ivy Bridge microarchitecture towards the end of this quarter. These would be targeted at microservers, which are low-power servers with shared components designed primarily for web serving and cloud applications.

The PowerEdge C5520 is able to scale performance while simultaneously reducing the number of servers in a datacenter according to Dell. The company also noted that this new microserver has already helped one company consolidate four servers into one while running a software infrastructure based on the Linux, Apache, MySQL and PHP (LAMP) software stack. Dell says that the microserver will be available on May 22 for a starting price of $12,210.

Source: PC World - Dell Announces First Server With Intel's Ivy Bridge Xeon Chips

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Oracle Executives Regret Sun Acquisition

Oracle Sun logoAccording to a filing by HP in a dispute with Oracle over the porting of its software to the Itanium platform, HP stated that Oracle had gone with an aggressive strategy against HP's Itanium servers after sales of competing Sun's Sparc servers have dropped considerably. In addition to that, HP stated that Oracle executives believed that the 2010 acquisition of Sun Microsystems was a mistake.

Oracle announced back in 2011 that it would not support HP's Itanium platform on future products, which marked the latest move by the company that made running software on the HP platform more expensive. HP also submitted the filing to the Superior Court of the State of California, Santa Clara County, in opposition to Oracle's motion for summary adjudication.

Oracle decided not to support servers running the Itanium processors due to the fact that the processors were nearing the end of their life. When Oracle made this move, HP decided to sue because HP uses the chip in its high-end servers. Oracle CEO Larry Ellison made the decision not to port the software, a decision that was only shared with a few Oracle executives. Not even Oracle's Senior Vice President of Database Development was consulted on the issue.

Last month HP filed for a pretrial ruling that Oracle is contractually required to offer future versions of its software on the Itanium platform and claimed that an agreement between Intel and HP ensured that the Itanium was not an end-of-life processor. Oracle, on the other hand, stated that HP fraudulently induced it to enter into the agreement, stating that the company withheld information that it was secretly paying Intel $88 million per year to artificially continue the Itanium processor's life span.

The most recent filing points out that Intel had refuted Oracle's claims regarding the supposed end-of-life of the Itanium platform. A testimony from the Intel Executive in charge also made it clear that, "far from being near its demise, Itanium had just gained new vitality when Oracle made its announcement."

Oracle's internal sales communications shows the real reason the company decided to drop support for Itanium. The sales force was exhorted to take full advantage of the Itanium announcement according to the new filing, which quoted a sales executive from Oracle saying that, "we are the ones dictating IT/Itanium obsolescence."

According to a statement from HP, "This new information that has come up during the discovery period further underscores Oracle's behavior as 'anti-customer'. It reinforces the fact that Oracle breached its contractual agreement with HP in a bad faith attempt to drive hardware sales from Itanium to Sun servers." Deborah Hellinger, spokeswoman for Oracle, declined to comment on the filing.

Source: Computer World - HP: Oracle executives believed Sun acquisition was a mistake

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Is Too Much Changing with Windows Server 8?

Many tech professionals expect Windows Server 8 to come out sometime this year and, amid many reports, to be a little different from past installments. There are supposed to be a lot of new things that will come with the introduction of Windows Server 8, which leads many to wonder if these changes will boost the sales of Microsoft's Windows Server products or be too much too quickly?

In terms of revenue, Microsoft is the world's largest software maker. The greatest revenue generator by far for Microsoft is its business sector. This portion of Microsoft's business accounts for almost 32% of Microsoft's total revenue with 90% of this coming from Microsoft Office Systems. Microsoft is expecting big things from Windows Server 8.

According to ZDNet reported Jason Perlow, "Server 8 will unleash a massive tsunami of new features." Perlow recently wrote a review of Windows Server 8 after going to a two-day introductory workshop. Perlow also added, "By the end of the second day at the Windows Server 8 Reviewer's Workshop, I was literally ready to pass out from the sheer amount of stuff being shown to us."

One foreseeable problem is that almost half of all PC users on the market these days are still using Windows XP, the Microsoft operating system that is nearly 10 years old. In addition to that, Windows 7 is still fairly new and Windows 8 seems best suited for touchscreen devices, which would leave many users uninterested.

The biggest thing for Windows Server 8 will be whether or not it is easy enough for your average PC user to pick up and learn. Many people wonder if Windows 8 will be more suited for tablet and tablet users and less for computer and technology professionals.

Source: MSNBC - Is Windows Server 8 Too Radical of a Change

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Friday, March 30, 2012

Amazon's Cloud Powered by Estimated 454,400 Servers

endless server roomEver wonder what it takes to run a cloud operation? What kind of infrastructure is needed and what kind of hardware is used? Probably not because most typical users never really get a chance to see the entire infrastructure that supports the plethora of services they use on something like Amazon's Elastic Compute Cloud. However, it was recently estimated by by Huan Liu, Research Manager for Accenture, that an astonishing 454,000 individual blade servers are currently being used to power it.

Liu made the estimate in a personal blog post recently, stating that he used a combination of data and DNS queries within EC2, all of which were publicly available, to come up with that number. The number indicates just how many physical server racks are used by Amazon's Cloud Service multiplied by the number of individual servers that could be housed in each rack.

However, Liu did mention that there are a number of different obvious holes in his number. Liu notes that the total number he gave is a complete estimation on his part and that Amazon could very well configure its systems differently than he thinks. In addition to that, if Amazon has any racks without an active server running on it then it would be impossible to count, which would also displace Liu's accuracy in the total.

Regardless, Liu's post has stirred up quite the buzz in the media, though that could be because it is one of the best estimates to Amazon's cloud size currently on the web. Amazon is pretty secretive with their information on their Elastic Compute Cloud, making these hypotheses a necessity.

Source: PC World - Nearly a Half Million Servers May Power Amazon Cloud
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Sunday, March 18, 2012

First Licensed Server Refurbishing Plant Opened in China by IBM

IBM buildingLast month, IBM announced that it had just opened its first facility in China with the main purpose of refurbishing and reselling old computer servers. Financially, this is a great move for IBM as the market for refurbishing and reselling computer servers is expected to increase to $2 billion in China by 2014.

The United States and Europe's exporting of electronic waste to Asia over the past 20 years has brought up some major concerns about the impact this has on local environments as well as the low-paid workers who are in charge of dismantling the toxic-heavy computers and other components to recover valuable metals and parts.

However, the increasingly profitable economy in China has created a significant e-waste problem of its own. China's government even has a 5-year economic plan that encourages recycling and remanufacturing computers in order to keep them out of landfills. According to General Manager of IBM Global Asset Recovery Services Richard Dicks, "In China, they'll use them for five, seven or nine years and they're basically landfill when they come out."

IBM's plant opened back in February in Shenzhen, very close to another IBM factory. The factory is expected to refurbish 100,000 servers and PCs every year by 2014. This feat will be accomplished by installing new memory and storage and packaging them for resale to the domestic Chinese market. According to Dicks, "The Chinese market is huge from a server perspective."

The supply of old servers came mainly from China as equipment leases expired and customers started to turn in old machines and equipment. IBM also operates other refurbishing plants around the world, taking in 33,000 metric tons of old equipment every week. That diverts nearly 97% of the weight of old machines away from landfills according to IBM.

Dicks also stated that IBM had also been negotiating with the government in China for the last 2 years to license the Shenzhen refurbishing plant and that he expects IBM's competition to eventually establish their own facilities. "The thing we talked to the Chinese government about is that it's really easy to buy a new computer but it's really hard to get rid of one. We're the first licensed facility and we have a first-to-market advantage," Dicks said.

Source: Forbes - IBM Opens China's First Factory To Refurbish Old Computers, Tapping A $2 Billion Market

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Windows Server 8 Beta Now Live

Microsoft, right on the heels of its public viewing of Windows 8, has just released a beta version for the company's Windows Server 8 operating system. Windows Server 8, which was officially announced last September, updates the code base for Microsoft's flagship server OS, the current version of which is Windows Server 2008.

The beta version will allow administrators to test the operating system and give feedback to Microsoft who will then use that feedback to finalize the software for commercial release. However, Microsoft did not disclose any information on when the final production ready version of Windows Server 8 would be available for purchase.

Windows Server 8 is a very major update for the operating system and contains a plethora of improvements to virtualization, multi-machine management and application hosting capabilities, according to Corporate Vice President for Server and Cloud at Microsoft Bill Laing.

In terms of virtualization, Windows Server 8 will allow administrators to create virtual networks, allowing different business units or customers to share one physical network while simultaneously maintaining complete independence from the other virtual networks. Another new feature will allow you to move shared files between nodes without ever having to stop the server applications that use these files, which will help greatly in disaster recovery and maintaining continuity in operations.

As far as hosting applications are concerned, Windows Server 8 will also include a copy of .NET Framework 4.5, which also includes new capabilities to run a program concurrently across multiple processor cores. The Web server software Internet Information Server (IIS) has also been upgraded to provide better security isolation as well as manage more sites per server. The PowerShell command line interface has also been increased with the addition of 2,300 commands.

If you want to give the free beta version a run through, then all you need is a 1.4 GHz 64-bit processor, a minimum of 512MB of working memory and 32GB on a disk. In addition to that, users have the ability to upgrade to the new beta operating system from existing versions of Windows Server 2008 and Windows Server 2008 R2 though you will be unable to upgrade to subsequent releases from this release. Click here if you want to download the Windows Server 8 beta.

Source: PC World - Microsoft Releases Windows Server 8 Beta

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Friday, February 17, 2012

Parts of Internet Could Disappear Amid FBI Server Shutdown

FBI OfficersIn late 2011 the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) set up a bunch of secure servers to replace the ones created by seven individuals that were arrested for internet fraud. According to a statement by the FBI at the time of the arrests, "The dismantling of the defendants' rogue DNS servers - to which millions of computers worldwide had been redirected - would potentially have caused all of those computers, for all practical purposes, to lose access to websites."

Any company in the world that had a website hosted on one of those servers had only 120 days to knock out all the malware known as DNSChanger Trojan before the servers would be shut down by the FBI. Well, those 120 days of grace have almost run their course and any site that doesn't or hasn't cleaned out the malware could see their website erased from the internet entirely come March 8. If this happens, then we could also very well see a sizable piece of the internet disappear on that day as well.

Brian Krebs, a security expert, has claimed that nearly half of the world's Fortune 500 companies and personal computers at almost 50% of all federal government agencies still have the malware on their networks. If that is true, then there are a lot of companies, important ones, that will lose their websites and access to them in just a couple of weeks.

According to President and Chief Technology Officer for Internet Identity, "Yes, there are challenges with removing this malware, but you would think people would want to get this cleaned up. This malware was sometimes bundled with other stuff, but it also turns off antivirus software on the infected machines and blocks them from getting any security updates from Microsoft."

Source: Mashable - FBI's Looming Server Shutdown Could Leave Chinks of the Internet Dark

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Friday, February 3, 2012

Apache Releases v2.2.22 for Apache HTTP Server

ApacheThe release of Apache HTTP Server v2.2.22 has just been announced by both the Apache Software Foundation and the Apache HTTP Server Project. The Apache HTTP Server Project has stated that this release is definitely the best version of Apache HTTP Server released so far and is encouraging all of its users to to upgrade as soon as possible.

Version 2.2.22 of Apache HTTP Server 2.2.22 is mainly an update that fixes security issues and bugs. However, there are a number of significant security fixes that are included in v2.2.22. These include:

  • Reject requests when the request-URL doesn't match HTTP specification.

  • Fix integer overflow in ap_pregsaub().

  • Resolve additional cases of URL rewriting with ProxyPassMatch or RewriteRule.

  • Fix segfault when the '%{cookiename}C' log format string is in use and a client sends a nameles, valueless cookiee, causing a DoS.

  • Fix scoreboard issue which could allow an unprivileged child process to cause the parent process to crash and shutdown in stead of terminating cleanly.

  • Fixed an issue in error responses that could expose "httpOnly" cookies when no custom ErrorDocument is specified for status code 400.

Version 2.2.22 of Apache HTTP Server is currently available for download if you want it. The CHANGES_2.2 file, which is found on the download page, has the entire list of everything that is changed in v2.2.22 and a condensed list, known as CHANGES_2.2.22, includes only those changes since the prior release of v2.2. If you want to, you can also view an entire summary of all the security vulnerabilities addressed in this release, as well as earlier releases.

The summary includes version 1.4.5 of Apache Portable Runtime (APR) as well as APR Utility Library (APR-util) version 1.4.2, which is also paired with the tar and zip distributions. The Apache Portable Runtime libraries libapr and libaprutil, as well as Win32, libapriconv v.1.2.1, must all be updated for binary compatibility and to address a lot of known security and platform bugs.

Whenever you do decide to upgrade or install v2.2.22, keep in mind that if you are going to be using Apache HTTP Server with a threaded MPM other than the Prefork MPM, you need to ensure that all modules you will be using, as well as their libraries, are thread-safe.

Source: - Apache HTTP Server 2.2.22 Released
Server Watch - Apache HTTP Server 2.2.22 Released

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Friday, January 20, 2012

Vulnerability in X Server Allows the Unlocking of Computer

A very interesting, and potentially very harmful, vulnerability has been discovered in X.orgs's X Server that allows users to gain access to a locked computer. By pressing the Ctrl key, Alt key and * key simultaneously one can disable a user's screensaver and unlock the computer, a glitch discovered by French blogger "Gu1". The technique has already been verified to work on versions 1.11 and higher of's X Server.

According to Gu1, the vulnerability is caused by something known as the "AllowClosedownGrabs" debug option. If this debug option is activated, pressing that key combination will cause any processes that calculate mouse or keyboard inputs to shut down. In the case of the key inputs above, the computer's screensaver, which usually prevents a locked computer from being accessed, is disabled.

Gu1 also says that this debug option had existed up until 2008, though at that time it was disabled by default and well-documented. It has also been mentioned that the developers explicitly pointed out the potential security problems that may arise when this is used in combination with screensavers. In addition to that, developers were able to use an API to disallow the function for their processes.

The function was re-introduced last year though was enabled by default and was not clearly documented and not easily configurable according to Gu1. Developer at Peter Hutterer stated, "This was caused by a miscommunication within the development team." After the function was re-introduced, developers failed in removing the keyboard combination from the default keymap.

Gu1 also mentioned that any Linux distributions that use version X Server v1.11 are vulnerable and added that he was able to reproduce the problem with Debian and GNOME 3 and even with Arch Linux and GNOME 3 and Slock and Slimlock. It is also reported that KDE can also be unlocked this way.

Source: The H - server allows anyone to unlock computer

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Friday, January 6, 2012

New Denial of Service Attack Takes Its Time on Your Server

DeniedOn Thursday a researcher published a proof-of-concept code that takes a new look on the slow HTTP Denial-of-Service (DoS) attack by simply dragging out the whole process of reading the server's response and, eventually, overwhelming it. Senior Software Engineer at Qualys Sergey Shekyan also added this modified Denial-of-Service attack, which he dubs a Slow Read attack, to his Slowhttptest tool.

As far as the attack goes, Slow Read basically sends a legitimate HTTP request and then takes an excruciatingly long time reading the response. By doing so, the Slow Read attack keeps as many open connections as possible and eventually causes a Denial-of-Service attack.

The Slowhttptest attack tool developed by Shekyan was inspired by related open-source tools Slowloris and OWASP's Slow HTTP Post. Slowloris keeps connections open by sending partial HTTP requests and then sends headers at regular intervals in order to prevent the sockets from closing.

OWASP's Slow HTTP Post Distributed Denial-of-Service (DDoS) tool simulates an attack using POST headers that have a legitimate content-length field. This allows a web server to know just how much data is arriving. Once the headers are delivered, the POST message body is transmitted slowly and gridlocks the connection, as well as the server resources.

Slow HTTP attacks are becoming increasingly more popular, especially among hackers, as a way to quietly insert a Denial-of-Service attack due to the fact that these hacks are relatively simple to perform, require minimal computing resources and are often hard to detect until it is too late.

Source: InformationWeek - New Denial of Service Attack Cripples Servers Slowly

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