iTWire - iTWire - Latest News iTWire - Technology news, trends, reviews, jobs Tue, 16 Sep 2014 17:22:45 +1000 Joomla! - Open Source Content Management en-gb BT snares global contract with Glencore resources group BT snares global contract with Glencore resources group

UK global communications giant BT has secured a contract to build and manage a new global core network across Europe, the Americas, Africa, the Middle East and Asia-Pacific for global diversified natural resource company Glencore.

The worldwide contract to build a consolidated infrastructure will allow all Glencore employees to work together more effectively in more than 50 countries by improving access to critical business applications for the marketing and mining of natural resources.

BT will also provide a range of collaboration services to Glencore, including voice, audio conferencing and contact centre services.

Cyril Reol, Global Chief Information Officer of Glencore, said, “We operate globally and deploy critical activities in very remote areas. As a result, we need reliable communications to bring our employees together in real-time, from our trading offices to our mining sites.

{loadposition peter}“The recent merger of Glencore and Xstrata presented us with considerable challenges, including those related to the standardisation and management of the network infrastructure and the reliable provision of communication services between our employees.  

“We opted for BT because of its global presence and the quality of its services, giving us the ability to be creative and innovative in the way we leverage technology to meet these challenges. The fact that BT has proven to be a reliable and trusted partner over many years reinforces our confidence that we will achieve reliable and successful results from this ambitious project.”    

Corrado Sciolla, president Europe, BT Global Services said, “Leveraging our expertise in the energy and resources sector, we have been working with Glencore since 2004, providing the company with global network services, internet connectivity and a variety of communications services.

“The consolidated infrastructure will allow Glencore’s IT teams to orchestrate technology assets in a way that meets the company’s competitive ambitions.”

]]> (Peter Dinham) Deals Tue, 16 Sep 2014 16:50:29 +1000
Atmail picks Los Angeles for US expansion Atmail picks Los Angeles for US expansion

Aussie-based messaging platform Atmail today announced the opening of its first United States office, in the unusual location of Santa Monica, Los Angeles.

The new office is the first in an international expansion for Atmail, with the company's CEO Zach Johnson overlooking San Francisco in favour of Los Angeles, which typically doesn't attract technology companies.

"We're located in an area for our headquarters that most IT companies wouldn't choose," Johnson told iTWire.

"It's consistent with some of our historical location choices. We first looked at San Francisco, which was the obvious choice, but taking more of a holistic view and thinking about things like cost of living, salaries and competition for resources, and the ability to have a consistent culture across our two primary offices, I felt that all of those things were more in our favour in Los Angeles.

"Cost of living is 20% less, expectations not just of salary but of perks in general, the types of resources we have down here are much more in line with reality than in the Bay Area at the moment, and in terms of the beachside location that we have in Australia, we wanted to maintain that cultural cohesion that our staff would experience whether they're in Australia or the US."

Atmail, which already has a Sunshine Coast office in Queensland, says it now has thousands of clients that use Atmail webmail and webserver software, has seen double-digit revenue growth in recent years and now powers tens of millions of email accounts globally.

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“Historically, at least 50% of our business has come from the US, and that trend isn’t going to change in the near future,”  Johnson said. “In fact, we’re getting some larger customers in the US who have justifiably higher expectations in terms of service.”

The US launch will enable Atmail to provide support and sales staff closer to the company’s biggest clients, like FedEx and Media Temple for example.

Johnson also weighed in on the recent debate over whether Australia should have its own startup hub, with Atlassian's Mike Cannon-Brookes saying earlier this month Sydney should be Australia's startup capital.

"I think that would be a mistake," Johnson said. "There's a tremendous amount of talent and diversity across Australia, and even though there is a large concentration of tech companies in Silicon Valley, that's not the one and only place where innovation in the US is happening. For example there's New England, Boston, Austin, Colorado, LA, some of the biggest acquisitions in this past year came out of LA, not Silicon Valley.

"I think Australia would be doing itself a huge disservice by not recognising there's top talent in Melbourne, in Adelaide, in Brisbane, the Sunshine Coast, and around the country."

Atmail, which operates on Linux, offers on-premises and cloud-based email for major service providers, with 24/7 support, and claims it has significant experience with customers who have made acquisitions or mergers.

The company was founded in 1999 by Australian entrepreneur Ben Duncan, and has received $2 million in funding from Starfish VC.

Johnson said the Peregian Beach, Queensland and Santa Monica, California offices were the first of several international locations Atmail is planning to open in the coming years.

The company plans to hire five staff initially over the financial year, with bigger expansion plans to follow.

For more information check out its website.

]]> (David Swan) Strategy Tue, 16 Sep 2014 16:37:49 +1000
Flower lovers at Floriade to get free WiFi Flower lovers at Floriade to get free WiFi

Canberra's annual flower festival Floriade will be filled not just with whiffs of nature but also free WiFi, thanks to a new deal announced today.

All people visiting Commonwealth Park for Floriade will get access to the CBRfree network delivered by iiNet, which the company says will serve as an example of Australia's largest public WiFi network to be rolled out over the next nine months.

iiNet will be rolling out CBRfree over the rest of 2014 and some of 2015, and flower fanatics will be able to get a taste of what it will offer at Floriade.

Floriade, which began last Saturday, features more than one million bulb blooms and almost 8,000 square metres of garden beds, and is expecting more than 400,000 people.

iiNet said has deployed seven wireless access points at Commonwealth Park, connected by optical fibre cable to the core iiNet network.

Setting up the Floriade network required iiNet to deploy more than 2000 metres of optical fibre cable, which can be used to provide communications for future events at the park.

The free public WiFi network can deliver speeds as fast as 300 megabits per second, though actual speeds will vary.

iiNet provides a separate Ethernet service via direct fibre link for use by Floriade organisers.

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Floriade’s Adelina La Vita said though the event had been running since 1988, this was the first year the event had offered free WiFi coverage.

“It’s wonderful to have because it’s a new and exciting service for our visitors,” she said.

“Floriade is a photographer’s paradise, so we expect the availability of free WiFi to encourage even more people to share their experiences on social media.”

In May this year, the ACT Government selected iiNet to build the CBRfree network, which will connect up 12 business districts across the city.

iiNet will deploy more than 700 Cisco wireless access points to create the network, which will be free to use for anyone within the capital’s busiest commercial centres.

iiNet plans to commission the first stage of the CBRfree rollout, centred on Civic, by the end of next month. Remaining areas, covering the commercial centres of Belconnen, Dickson, Woden, Tuggeranong, Bruce, Manuka-Kingston, Gungahlin, Weston Creek, along with the tourist precincts of Parkes, will be finished by June next year.

iiNet’s Floriade sponsorship also includes the iiNet Flower Wall, a four-metre by 2.5 metre structure that is covered in Australian native flowers.

iiNet Sponsorship Manager Alicia Phillis said iiNet was delighted to sponsor Floriade. “Floriade is such a wonderful event that it’s our pleasure to support it,” she said.

“The idea for the Flower Wall came from attendees getting into the flower beds, which are no go zones: We thought why not build an interactive exhibit that they can enjoy and be part of?”

For more information on Floriade check out its website.

]]> (David Swan) Deals Tue, 16 Sep 2014 14:43:00 +1000
New country manager takes Watch New country manager takes Watch

Security solutions provider WatchGuard Technologies, has appointed a 30-year IT industry veteran to head up its Australian and New Zealand regional business.

David Higgins joins WatchGuard as Country Manager for ANZ from Trend Micro where he was most recently was Director, Business Development and Channels.

Higgins also worked for Sophos for seven years as Director of Sales, 3Com, ASK Solutions, NEC Australia and Tech Pacific Australia as General Manager Networking.

Higgins, based in Sydney, will be responsible for managing WatchGuard’s market presence in Australia and New Zealand, overseeing new revenue opportunities, and managing local customer and partner relationships.

{loadposition peter}“David’s experience will be a major asset to WatchGuard. His proficiency in driving sales and developing business channels for multi-national sales organisations will greatly enhance the business strategies we are implementing as IT security continues to remain at centre stage among CIO priorities and becomes a critical factor in both the success of our partners and customers,” said Scott Robertson, Vice President Asia Pacific, WatchGuard Technologies.

“We also look forward to the positive impact David will have on driving successful go-to-market strategies within the channel community which will be an invaluable asset to WatchGuard as we continue to expand the role of our channel program in supporting our company’s growth across Australia and New Zealand.”

]]> (Peter Dinham) People Moves Tue, 16 Sep 2014 14:35:23 +1000
iPhone 6 presales break record iPhone 6 presales break record

Apple has broken with tradition and announced sales numbers for ‘pre-ordered’ iPhone 6s. They are, as you might expect, very popular.

It said that  a record four million plus were sold in the first 24 hours. Many more would have been ordered since, both from Apple and from telcos and others who will be selling the phones. In Australia Telstra, Optus (and its subsidiary Virgin) and Vodafone are all taking orders, and there are stories of the websites being overloaded.

The announcement is significant because Apple has not previously disclosed first day sales. It did announce five million iPhone 5 sales in the first weekend of availability in September 2012, but did not announce any figure for early 5c or 5s sales last year, probably because they were disappointing.

“Demand for the new iPhones exceeds the initial pre-order supply and while a significant amount will be delivered to customers beginning on Friday and throughout September, many iPhone pre-orders are scheduled to be delivered in October,” said Apple’s statement announcing the iPhone 6 sales.

Demand is very likely to exceed supply, especially for the iPhone 6 Plus, which has been plagued by well publicised supply issues. Orders are not shipments, and it is likely that many users will be waiting a while for the iPhone 6 of their choice.

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“Additional supply of iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus will be available to walk-in customers on 19 September 19 at 8:00 a.m. local time at Apple retail stores. Customers are encouraged to arrive early or order online.” Expect lines outside Australia’s Apple stores this Friday.

"Pre-orders for iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus set a new record for Apple,” said Apple CEO Tim Cook. We can't wait to get our best iPhones yet into the hands of customers starting this Friday."

Apple says every customer who buys an iPhone 6 or iPhone 6 Plus at an Apple retail store will be offered free personal setup to help them customise their iPhone by setting up email, showing them new apps from the App Store and more, “so they'll be up and running with their new iPhone before they leave the store.”

In a rare interview with America’s PBS (Public Broadcasting Service), Cook said that Apple could have made phones with larger screens years ago but wanted to waited until it could offer enough enhancements. To make them worthwhile. "It's never been about just making a larger phone. It's been about making a better phone in every single way. And so we ship things when they're ready."

]]> (Graeme Philipson) Mobility Tue, 16 Sep 2014 13:02:20 +1000
Drupal agency Acquia wins govt websites contract Drupal agency Acquia wins govt websites contract

Acquia has won a federal government contract to build up to 450 websites using the open-source Drupal software. The resulting CMS will be known as govCMS.

The agreement is a four-year one, initially over two years and then extendable twice by a year at a time. The government's conservative estimate is that it needs 180 website but it has an ambitious target of 450.

Acquia has signed the deal with the Department of Finance - the liaison for all other agencies and departments - but will use its partner network of more than 50 Drupal delivery agencies in Australia.

The company's Asia-Pacific and Japan director, Chris Harrop, was unwilling to offer any estimate of how much the contract would run to.

But a spokesman of the Department of Finance said govCMS would be offered on a subscription basis to Commonwealth Government entities, therefore expenditure against the contract would be dependent upon demand for the service.  The total contract value allows for up to $24 million over the life of the four-year contract.

{loadposition sam08}A media release quoted John Sheridan, Australian Government CTO, as saying: "We designed govCMS to save costs while empowering agencies to act independently. We're supporting innovation by relying on Drupal, a technology proven in governments around the world."

Sheridan said work on the migration of and to the govCMS platform had begun.

govCMS will be broadly available to Commonwealth Government entities from February 2015.

Drupal has been used to build many government and big business sites around the world, including that of the White House.

]]> (Sam Varghese) Open Source Tue, 16 Sep 2014 13:00:36 +1000
Microsoft buys Minecraft creator Mojang for $2.5 billion$25-billion$25-billion Microsoft buys Minecraft creator Mojang for $2.5 billion

Tech giant Microsoft has opened up its chequebook, announcing a massive US$2.5 billion takeover of Minecraft developer Mojang.

Minecraft, a sandbox game about placing and breaking blocks, was launched back in 2009 and has become a gaming phenomenon, sitting as the third highest-selling video game of all time.

Stockholm-based game developers Mojang said in a statement the studio's three co-founders - Markus ‘Notch’ Persson, Jakob Porser and Carl Manneh - would step down, but said  Microsoft will continue to support Minecraft gamers moving forward.

“Yes, the deal is real," an official Mojang's statement announced. "Mojang is being bought by Microsoft.”

"[Notch has] decided that he doesn't want the responsibility of owning a company of such global significance.

"Over the past few years he's made attempts to work on smaller projects, but the pressure of owning Minecraft became too much for him to handle. The only option was to sell Mojang. He'll continue to do cool stuff though. Don't worry about that.

"There are only a handful of potential buyers with the resources to grow Minecraft on a scale that it deserves. We've worked closely with Microsoft since 2012, and have been impressed by their continued dedication to our game and its development. We're confident that Minecraft will continue to grow in an awesome way."

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Microsoft’s Head of Xbox, Phil Spencer, added: “Today is an incredibly exciting day for our team as Mojang and the Minecraft franchise join Microsoft.

“Minecraft is one of the most popular video games of all time, with more than 100 million downloads, on PC alone, from players since its launch in 2009. Minecraft inspires millions to create together, connects people across the globe, and is a community that is among the most active and passionate in the world.

“We’re excited to welcome Mojang to the Microsoft family and we are thrilled to support the success and longevity of Minecraft for years to come.”

Microsoft is anticipating that it could recoup its $2.5 billion as early as July 2015, noting Mojang made over $100 million in profit last year.

"Minecraft is more than a great game franchise - it is an open world platform, driven by a vibrant community we care deeply about, and rich with new opportunities for that community and for Microsoft," Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said.

The Redmond-based company said it would continue to support development for all consoles, including Playstations and iOS devices.

"There's no reason for the development, sales, and support of the PC/Mac, Xbox 360, Xbox One, PS3, PS4, Vita, iOS, and Android versions of Minecraft to stop," Microsoft said.

"Of course, Microsoft can't make decisions for other companies or predict the choices that they might make in the future."

Read a lengthy letter from the game's founder Notch on page two.

"I don’t see myself as a real game developer. I make games because it’s fun, and because I love games and I love to program, but I don’t make games with the intention of them becoming huge hits, and I don’t try to change the world. Minecraft certainly became a huge hit, and people are telling me it’s changed games. I never meant for it to do either. It’s certainly flattering, and to gradually get thrust into some kind of public spotlight is interesting.

A relatively long time ago, I decided to step down from Minecraft development. Jens was the perfect person to take over leading it, and I wanted to try to do new things. At first, I failed by trying to make something big again, but since I decided to just stick to small prototypes and interesting challenges, I’ve had so much fun with work. I wasn’t exactly sure how I fit into Mojang where people did actual work, but since people said I was important for the culture, I stayed.

I was at home with a bad cold a couple of weeks ago when the internet exploded with hate against me over some kind of EULA situation that I had nothing to do with. I was confused. I didn’t understand. I tweeted this in frustration. Later on, I watched the This is Phil Fish video on YouTube and started to realize I didn’t have the connection to my fans I thought I had. I’ve become a symbol. I don’t want to be a symbol, responsible for something huge that I don’t understand, that I don’t want to work on, that keeps coming back to me. I’m not an entrepreneur. I’m not a CEO. I’m a nerdy computer programmer who likes to have opinions on Twitter.

As soon as this deal is finalized, I will leave Mojang and go back to doing Ludum Dares and small web experiments. If I ever accidentally make something that seems to gain traction, I’ll probably abandon it immediately.

Considering the public image of me already is a bit skewed, I don’t expect to get away from negative comments by doing this, but at least now I won’t feel a responsibility to read them.

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I’m aware this goes against a lot of what I’ve said in public. I have no good response to that. I’m also aware a lot of you were using me as a symbol of some perceived struggle. I’m not. I’m a person, and I’m right there struggling with you.

I love you. All of you. Thank you for turning Minecraft into what it has become, but there are too many of you, and I can’t be responsible for something this big. In one sense, it belongs to Microsoft now. In a much bigger sense, it’s belonged to all of you for a long time, and that will never change.

It’s not about the money. It’s about my sanity."

]]> (David Swan) Deals Tue, 16 Sep 2014 12:46:56 +1000
NSW police spent millions on 'weaponised' surveillance software NSW police spent millions on 'weaponised' surveillance software

NSW police are spying on phones and computers using 'weaponised malware' surveillance software, according to fresh documents published by WikiLeaks.

Last night WikiLeaks published a client list of German-based spyware supplier Gamma International, which included NSW police along with security and intelligence agencies across 15 countries.

Gamma International's software, including FinSpy and FinFly, can be secretly installed on targeted computers by exploiting security lapses in update procedures of non-suspect software.

The documents show NSW police has spent about $2.5 million with the company that WikiLeaks says  "produces and sells computer intrusion systems, software exploits and remote monitoring systems" which can intercept communications on operating systems including Windows, iOS, Android, OS X, Linux, Symbian, BlackBerry and Windows Mobile devices."

WikiLeaks estimated FinFisher made as much as $127.2 million from the sales across various agencies.

NSW police have held nine licences for various forms of the software, including FinSpy and FinFly, during the past three years, the documents show.

Five licenses remain valid.

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An alleged support ticket from NSW Police reported by ZDNet states FinSpy experienced difficulties with OS X when a surveillance target was offline.

"When a Mac target is online, there is a configuration link which allows updating the configuration of the target and Trojan," the ticket stated. "However, when the target is offline, there isn't any configuration link. This only appears on a Mac target. Linux and Windows targets have configuration links when the target is both online and offline."

A police representative declined to comment on the grounds the technology 'relates to operational capability'.

NSW law allows police to remotely monitor computer use under warrant.

No other Australian agencies have purchased the software, according to the documents. Wikileaks also named state security and intelligence agencies in 15 nations as FinFisher clients: Slovakia, Mongolia, Qatar, South Africa, Bahrain, Pakistan, Estonia, Vietnam, Belgium, Nigeria, Singapore, Bangladesh, Hungary, Italy and Bosnia and Herzogovina.

It's understood the leaked documents were sent to WikiLeaks after they were obtained in a hacking attack in August.

The full list is available via WikiLeaks here.

]]> (David Swan) Security Tue, 16 Sep 2014 11:56:00 +1000
Attachmate Group to merge with UK firm Micro Focus Attachmate Group to merge with UK firm Micro Focus

The American software firm Novell will have a new owner from November 3 when its parent company, the Attachmate Group, merges with British mainframe computer specialist Micro Focus.

The British company will pay around $US2.3 billion to seal the deal. Attachmate's main assets are Novell, NetIQ and SUSE Linux.

Attachmate bought Novell and took the business private in November 2010. SUSE, which at the time was just about breaking even, was moved back to Nuremberg as an independent business unit. Since then, SUSE's fortunes have been on the rise, with profit margins of around 20 per cent on turnover of around $US250 million.

According to Reuters, Micro Focus shareholders will own about 60 per cent of the equity in the new group which will be listed in London.

It is uncertain whether anything will change as far as SUSE goes; in an email to customers, company president Nils Brauckmann sought to reassure them that it would be business as usual.

Announcing the merger, the Attachmate chairman and chief executive Jeff Hawn was quoted as saying: ""This merger... will result in a greater breadth of solutions, extensive global presence and significant financial strength.

“The combined company will be even better able to help customers address their business and IT challenges in light of increasing complexity, change and risk."

One of the problems that Novell faced in its pre-Attachmate days was the degree of scrutiny as it was a public company. In the years of Attachmate's ownership at least one unit, SUSE, has been able to thrive away from the nosy-parkers known as analysts.

Last year Hawn told iTWire that Novell's decline had been arrested and that the same line would be held into 2014.

Attachmate has about $1.17 billion of debt according to Reuters, while Micro Focus's debt is $US233 million. Last year, Micro Focus had annual revenue of $US434.8 million.

]]> (Sam Varghese) Deals Tue, 16 Sep 2014 11:02:24 +1000
'J'accuse!' Kim Dotcom vs the Kiwi PM 'J'accuse!' Kim Dotcom vs the Kiwi PM

The sensational allegation comes less than a week before the Kiwi election, in which Dotcom's Internet Party is standing candidates. Dotcom says it is contained in emails which also show that the New Zealand Government was systematically spying on its citizenry in a mass surveillance operation.

The accusations are supported by high profile whistle blowers Julian Assange and Ed Snowden. Emails and other documents supposedly supporting the assertions have been released by US journalist Glenn Greenwald, who is in New Zealand this week. They purportedly come from Snowden’s treasure trove of leaked National Security Agency documents.

If genuine the documents expose mass surveillance by the NZ Government of its citizens, say Dotcom and Greenwald. They include an email from Warner Bros which supposedly mentions a conversation in which Key knew of plans to extradite Dotcom to the US to face charges of Internet piracy. Warner Bros executive Paul McGuire says the email is a fake.

Greenwald has appeared in a ‘Moment of Truth’ panel session in New Zealand with streamed appearances by Snowden and Assange. See The Guardian’s real-time coverage here.

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Key rejects the allegations. He says Greenwald and Dotcom are trying to hijack the election, which will be held this Saturday. Key’s centre right National Party is leading in the polls, with the Greens surging in recent days. Dotcom’s Internet Party is unlikely to win a seat.

"Dotcom is trying to save Dotcom's butt, and it's a reasonably large one, so he's brought in all of these people, three little butts to save his butt,” said Key. "It won't work but they'll say anything to bamboozle people." Not that it’s personal, mind you.

The issue is now dominating the election campaign. Opposition Labor Party leader David Cunliffe has demanded that Key release all documents pertaining to his discussions with Warner Bros, which centred around the studio’s shooting of The Hobbit films in New Zealand. He has also asked for the release of the NZ Immigration Department’s no doubt bulging file on Dotcom.

Dotcom, originally from Germany, was founder of file sharing site Megaupload. His dramatic arrest on piracy charges, in which his palatial mansion on the outskirts of Auckland was raided in a military style operation, and his subsequent and thus far successful attempts to evade extradition to the US, have made him quite a celebrity.

]]> (Graeme Philipson) Government Tech Policy Tue, 16 Sep 2014 06:25:23 +1000