Stories by P.J. Connolly

  • Apple impresses with new Xserve hardware

    Perhaps my favourite manipulated image of the past year was the alleged image of a G5-powered Apple’s Xserve with a case designed by Sub-Zero Freezer. It pretty much summed up the biggest challenge of cramming the latest generation of the PowerPC family into a 1U server box: cooling.

  • Analysis: Networking plumbing needs repair

    Networking is the plumbing of information technology. Like conventional plumbing, most people take it for granted until a pipe bursts or a faucet starts dripping. But unlike the pipes in houses and offices, networking technology is evolving at a frantic pace, even as IT investments have slowed to a trickle in the past few years.

  • Putting a shine on PDFs

    Remember when it seemed possible that paper would go the way of typewriter ribbons in the workplace? That vision never quite materialised — people remain wedded to hard copy. Even so, documents are almost always created on computers, whether through a manual editing process or by way of an application running with little or no human intervention. Documents are the lifeblood of the enterprise. So maintaining their look and feel regardless of the platforms on which they are created or viewed is vital.

  • Patching made painless

    One of the primary drawbacks of the Windows platform is the amount of time it takes to keep up with patches for the operating system and the inextricably entwined Internet Explorer Web browser. New patches are issued so frequently that they could be dubbed “the patch of the week”.

  • Windows Server 2003 worth the wait

    Microsoft is poised to release the long-anticipated — and frequently renamed — Windows Server 2003, almost a year and a half after the last beta version became available in November 2001. Our experiences with what we are assured is the gold code confirmed that this is indeed the best version of Windows to come out of the gate. Improved performance, better management tools, and a rapidly maturing directory service give customers something to look forward to when they take the plunge.

  • THE CONTRARIAN: Spit and dirty socks

    Spit and dirty socks, I said, upon learning of Microsoft’s new plan to reduce the number of critical security patches for Windows and other software. I then opined that Windows .Net Server 2003 would require 30 such patches in the first year after its release, which is expected sometime after April 2003.

  • Cornering the office

    When Microsoft Office 11 ships in 2003, it will mark the fifth release in eight years of the industry leader in desktop application suites. Even Bill Ford doesn’t expect you to buy a new car every other year. But it’s no wonder that upgrade fatigue is a concern of CTOs and IT managers, given the additional expenses involved in retraining users and refitting desktops with new software.

  • Review: No worms here

    When we reviewed Mac OS X Server last year, we noted that Apple had a credibility problem. The company lacked a decent hardware platform on which to run a promising operating system. At the time, the best an IT manager could do was stack some of Apple's higher-end desktops and tie them to a rack with third-party fasteners; not exactly a pretty solution.

  • Know thy WLAN

    The promise of simplicity is one reason why wireless LANs are all the rage. No messy cables, just install an access point and some 802.11b (or Wi-Fi, as some prefer) cards, and unless you care about little details like security, you're good to go, right?

  • Systems management revolution?

    It's been said that server blades represent a strange and unusual challenge for IT departments because they somehow require a complete rethinking of management and support processes.

  • Appmail pulls it together

    Many collaboration tools fall short of expectations because they really don't take into account the way people work. For most distributed organisations, e-mail becomes the de facto tool of choice because of its simplicity and ubiquity.

  • Open-source Outlook?

    IT managers mulling over the pros and cons of replacing Microsoft Windows with Linux on the desktop have to consider a number of obstacles, but if we had to point to one deal-breaker, it would be the lack of office productivity applications that can easily replace Microsoft Office.

  • Microsoft casts .Net server, but will customers bite?

    Most IT organisations distinguish themselves by the operating systems on their servers: "We're a [name of OS vendor] shop. We don't use that junk from [OS vendor's leading rival]." Therefore, it's not surprising that Microsoft's next server OS, Windows .Net Server, puts its best foot forward in the Beta 3 release, which became available in mid-November.

  • NEC Express 5800/ft series servers

    There is nothing worse for business than server failure, especially when the machine in question provides power for critical Web applications. As companies become more dependent on e-commerce to stay in the black, they are much less likely to emerge unscathed from significant periods of downtime.