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In the midst of continued corporate IT belt-tightening, storage vendors are fighting one another over sales in the burgeoning midrange market as users look for small but powerful disk arrays that can centralize their storage and scale across distributed networks. EMC Corp., Network Appliance Inc., Hitachi Data Systems Corp., Hewlett-Packard Co. and Brocade Communications Systems Inc. are all experiencing sales upticks from the midmarket, according to a report issued last month by Clinton Vaughan, an analyst at Salomon Smith Barney Holdings Inc. in New York. As a result of the shift in demand, vendors such as EMC and Hitachi are rushing to pump up the performance of their “modular” midrange products and scale down their high-end arrays to better fit the needs of departments and midmarket companies. For example, Santa Clara, Calif.-based Hitachi plans to introduce later this year a new storage array that will use its high-end Lightning 9900 V Series architecture but will be targeted at the midmarket.

HP intros dual-Pentium blade servers

Hewlett-Packard Co. last month introduced dual-Pentium blade servers, a move analysts viewed as a natural extension of the single-processor blade servers brought to market by the now HP-owned Compaq Computer Corp. in January. Sally Stevens, director of marketing at HP’s density optimized server division, said the company plans to further extend its blade product line in the first quarter with a four-processor blade server. Blade servers are complete servers on a tightly packed board that can squeeze more processing power into a standard server rack than older-generation rack-mounted servers can. Stevens said the new dual-processor blade servers are designed to support applications such as Web hosting and streaming media. HP’s single-processor servers support security applications such as Domain Name System and Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol firewalls, while the four blade servers will be able to handle back-end databases.

IT companies dominate list of hottest startups

IT companies dominate the top 10 of Canada’s hottest startup enterprises, according to Profit magazine’s annual ranking. The magazine unveiled its list of Top 50 startups in the country last month at an event in Toronto. Eight of the top 10 enterprises were in the IT field, and 14 of the total 50 businesses listed were IT-related companies. The rankings appear in the September issue of the magazine. The source of candidates came from a self-nominating ballot published in three magazines, as well as an online ballot on Profit’s Web site.

Liberty Alliance swells ranks

The Liberty Alliance Project last month added 30 members to its effort to create a standard for online authentication. The infusion of companies and organizations adds first-time perspectives from both the healthcare and media industries, and from the consortium developing the next-generation Internet. The new members come just over a month after the alliance released version 1.0 of its specification, which outlines a single sign-on mechanism for electronic commerce and Web services. The specification would allow users to authenticate at one network access point and use that identity to traverse other sites. This so-called federated identity management is a key sticking point in developing secure electronic commerce and Web services for business-to-consumer and business-to-business interaction, although the alliance’s initial focus is on the consumer side. The alliance was originally started by Sun Microsystems nearly a year ago to counter efforts by Microsoft to create a similar authentication mechanism with its Passport service. The Alliance includes among its members Nokia, United Airlines, MasterCard and American Express. The members added Wednesday include Baltimore Technologies, Bridgewater Systems, ePresence, Financial Services Technology Consortium, Healthcare Financial Management Association, Internet 2, Newspaper Association of America, Oblix, Quadrasis and Sprint.

Blue light special in Aisle Three – Web services

Novell Inc. this month announced discount license pricing for businesses and government agencies that use Novell’s software to provide Web services to customers and citizens. The new license pricing will make Web services, including such things as accessing bank accounts or government records, more affordable, Novell said in a news release. The new pricing categories recognize that Web-based systems have many different types of users and that those users are different from employees, therefore the price of the license should be different, said Novell spokesperson Bruce Lowry. Novell’s license price is based on the number of individual users of a software service, as opposed to the number of computing devices connected to the network. This model allows companies and government agencies to avoid paying licenses for each PC, personal digital assistant (PDA) or other devices that a single user may use.

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