Sun Microsystems Canada Inc. has announced that it will be partnering with EDS Canada to deliver smart card solutions to government organizations. Sun and EDS will be marketing a “starter bundle” to all levels of government – federal, provincial and municipal – that will include Sun’s Sun Fire 280R server, the Sun One Directory Server, the Sun One Identity Server, the Sun One Web Server, 100 smart cards and 100 readers.

Based on Java Card Technology, the cards can store multiple applications – up to 512KB -from different vendors. While smart cards are now being widely deployed in Asia, Canada is still in the early phases of adoption. Tom Keenan, dean of the faculty of continuing education at the University of Calgary, points to two reasons why smart cards haven’t taken off in Canada. First, he said, there have been no aggressive marketing campaigns in Canada for smart cards and second, Canadians are very protective of their privacy.

IBM scoops up Toronto firm

In a bid to bolster its on-demand offerings, IBM Corp. recently acquired Toronto software firm Think Dynamics Inc. and its suite of products, which allows users to automate management of data centre processes.

The ThinkControl suite allows what IBM calls “orchestrated provisioning” for three specific tasks: infrastructure provisioning, capacity management and service level management. This, according to IBM, provides network managers with feedback on the IT environment in real-time, checks status of systems against business policies and makes changes to the IT environment automatically. ThinkControl will be managed under Big Blue’s Tivoli group and IBM will be selling it under a yet-to-be-determined brand name and will integrate its automated provisioning capabilities not only into its software, but also into its servers and outsourcing offerings.

New bug affects McKinley Itanium

Intel Corp. is working with Itanium 2 server vendors on a bug that has surfaced in the McKinley version of its Itanium processor family. The “erratum” is confined to a subset of Intel’s McKinley Itanium 2 processors, said Barbara Grimes, an Intel spokesperson. An electrical issue with the processor can cause systems to behave unpredictably or shut down, she said. Customers can work around the problem by lowering the clock speed of their 900MHz or 1GHz Itanium 2 processors to 800MHz, Grimes said. They should contact their system vendor to determine the best course of action, she said. Intel will swap out older McKinley processors for new ones upon request, but the company is not issuing a recall, she said.

In order to crash the system, a particular sequence of operations and events need to happen in step, Grimes said. Intel discovered the problem in lab testing after a system vendor reported it earlier this year, she said.

Sun unveils low-cost computing effort

Admitting it arrived late to the game, Sun Microsystems Inc. recently announced new low-cost blade servers based on Intel Corp. processors and a partnership with Linux vendor Red Hat Inc., following rivals such as Dell Computer Corp. and IBM Corp. Also, reaffirming its relationship with Oracle Corp., Sun said Oracle’s software will run on all of its systems whether they run Solaris x86, Solaris Sparc or Linux. Together, Sun and Oracle will go on a low-cost computing drive and launch a joint “Oracle makes Sun unbreakable” advertising campaign, they said.

“We did not exactly jump on the 32-bit low cost bandwagon early, but we’re jumping on it big now,” said Scott McNealy, Sun’s president, chairman and chief executive officer (CEO), at a San Francisco event. The new Sun Fire V60x and V65x blades are priced starting at US$2,450 and $2,650, respectively, and come with 2.8GHz or 3.06GHz Intel Xeon processors and a choice of Solaris x86 or Red Hat Linux, Sun said. The systems offer six PCI-X slots, support up to 12GB of memory and are available now. Also, Sun lowered the price of its existing LX50 system by almost 30 per cent.