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China has approved Lenovo’s $2.3 billion deal to acquire IBM’s server division

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July 7, 2014

It's reported this morning that China's government has finally approved Lenovo’s $2.3 billion deal to acquire IBM’s server division.

To be sure, China’s anti-monopoly department has taken its time over the decision and the US authorities have yet to rule on the acquisition, but Lenovo has said it expects the deal to close sometime this year.

Chief executive Yang Yuanqing said at the annual general meeting in Hong Kong that the company thinks that its slurps of both IBM’s server business and Google’s Motorola Mobility division should be completed by the end of 2014.

It also added that national security issues shouldn’t be a problem with America. "We hope to complete the two deals by year-end," he said.

"The U.S. government and the U.S. Army are all our clients. There has been no problem and we will keep this tradition," it added.

A report in the Wall Street Journal last week alleged that the IBM deal was being held up because the U.S. was worried about national security implications.

IBM’s x86 servers are used in nationwide communications networks and Pentagon data centres, familiar people told the newspaper, and security officials and members of the Committee on Foreign Investments (CFIUS) are also worried about them being compromised.

The U.S. and China have been trading a 'few shots' on cybersecurity for years now, both accusing the other’s government and technology companies of corporate spying and intelligence-gathering for the authorities.

When Lenovo tried to acquire IBM’s PC business in 2005, the firm had to fight for approval and the computers were eventually banned by the State Department from use on its classified networks.

In other IT news

Oracle said earlier this morning that it now makes its free VM tool better at managing Windows virtual machines and handling SPARC workloads.

Oracle's new VM Server for x86 is free, but the company isn't throwing the kitchen sink at the product, as evidenced by the fact that this week it released version 3.3, more than two years after January 2012's version 3.2 release.

Yet the product has fans who felt that even version 3.2 was sufficiently well-featured to challenge Vsphere and Hyper-V.

To be sure, the 3.3 version upgrade looks to give Oracle a decent chance of winning more users, thanks to improved support for Windows guests, Oracle Linux and Oracle Solaris.

Workloads running under the latter operating system can now be pointed at storage sources using Fibre Channel, iSCSI, ZFS volume, local disk and NFS, which should be welcomed by those who dislike running separate storage pools for different environments.

Oracle says that it has also tightened security, reduced I/O requirements generated by virtual machines and simplified network design with new methods to define and operate VLANs.

There's even a new, HTML-5-powered, management console. Oracle's been very busy lately on the virtual front.

In late June, it released a new version of its virtual compute appliance, a converged infrastructure play now capable of using more recent Intel chippery, and also announced new ZFS storage appliances said to be capable of booting 16,000 virtual machines in under seven minutes.

So the question is, will this make Oracle a contender with the leading virtualization services providers?

At present, Oracle doesn't rate a mention in studies like IDC's EMEA Quarterly Server Virtualization Tracker.

With VMware expected to reveal a major vSphere refresh within weeks and rumors starting to emerge that Microsoft will refresh Windows Server during 2015, it may take more than biennial updates to get Oracle into the top tier. Then again, we shall see what will happen.

In other IT news

Oracle said this morning that it's moving forward with its Project Jigsaw.

The initiative is a major undertaking that aims to allow Java developers to break their programs down into independent and interoperable modules.

Initially, Jigsaw was intended to be a major features of Java 8, but by 2012 Oracle decided that waiting for Jigsaw to be ready would delay the entire Java 8 release, so work on the module system was postponed until a later version.

Not much has been heard about Jigsaw since, but in a blog post yesterday, Mark Reinhold, Oracle's chief Java architect, said that the Java Community was ready to begin "Phase Two" of the Project Jigsaw effort.

"It's now time to switch gears and focus on creating a production-quality design and implementation suitable for JDK 9 and then Java SE 9, as previously proposed," Reinhold wrote.

Reinhold has drafted a new document outlining the goals and requirements of Project Jigsaw. If the developers get it right, Reinhold says that Jigsaw will not only make it easier to scale the Java platform down to small devices, but it will also improve the security, performance, and maintainability of Java applications.

But it won't be that easy. Back in 2011, when Jigsaw was still expected to be part of Java 8, Reinhold said it would be a "revolutionary" release, as compared to the more "evolutionary" Java 7.

In the end, the Java 8 we actually got was mostly evolutionary as well, with lambda expressions being the only truly significant new feature.

And Java 8 arrived two years late, even after cutting loose the Project Jigsaw boat-anchor.

Now work is set to begin in earnest on making Jigsaw ready for inclusion in Java 9, and Reinhold is once again warning us of the difficulty this project has in store.

Still, he says it's important to press onward. "Jigsaw as a whole will bring enormous changes to the JDK. It would be unwise to wait until it's completely finished before merging any of it," Reinhold wrote.

"Our intent is to proceed in large steps, each of which will have a corresponding JEP (JDK Enhancement Proposal)," he added.

The first three steps will involve determining how to break the JDK down into modules, modularizing the source code, and then finally modularizing the binary images.

The fourth and last step will be to introduce the module system itself, in the form that developers will use for other programs outside the JDK.

Oracle is hoping for a 2016 release for Java 9, but given that there were three years between versions 7 and 8 (even after dropping Jigsaw), that may be a tall order. We'll keep you posted.

In other IT news

VMware has made some changes to its virtual storage area networks after some components it recommended were found as not being up to par anymore.

VMware's notification of the change suggests it is being made because some low-end IO controllers it once recommended offer very low IO throughput.

So low that the probability of the controller queue getting full is high. When the controller IO queue gets full, IO operations time out, and the VMs become unresponsive, the company said.

And VMware seems to have known about these issues for some time. A V-SAN user posted VMware support's response to his problems with a Dell H310 controller.

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That response, posted nearly a month ago says-- “While this controller was certified and is in our Hardware Compatibility List, its use means that your VSAN cluster was unable to cope with both a rebuild activity and running production workloads.”

The email from VMware goes on to say “to avoid issues such as this in the future, we are re-evaluating our Hardware Compatibility List. Our intention is to support hardware that meets a minimum threshold to work well during rebuild/resync scenarios.”

VMware has since listed nineteen controllers that, as of July 1st, are no longer supported in VSAN implementations.

The explanation for their withdrawal follows-- “As part of VMware’s ongoing testing and certification efforts on Virtual SAN compatible hardware, VMware has decided to remove these controllers from the Virtual SAN compatibility list. While fully functional, these controllers offer too low IO throughput to sustain the performance requirements of most VMware environments.”

“Because of the low queue depth offered by these controllers, even a moderate IO rate could result in IO operations timing out, especially during disk rebuild operations,” it said.

It added: “In this event, the controller may be unable to cope with both a rebuild activity and running Virtual Machine IO causing elongated rebuild time and slow application responsiveness. To avoid issues, such as the one described above, VMware is removing these controllers from the Hardware Compatibility List.”

Source: The Government of China.

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