Privatising the NHS and compromising privacy of every Brit with foreign entities
CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikipedia
Summary: The worst privacy violator in the world and the firm behind LSE failures are pocketing as much as £0.35 billion of British taxpayers’ money to acquire access to very sensitive data of British people
IT IS being reported in the British media that the NHS, which is gradually moving to adopt more and more Free/libre software, has just given a contract to Microsoft minion Accenture (article by IDG). £0.35 billion are to be spent on mail alone; that’s just crazy! That’s a big — even colossal! — mistake for the NHS to make when budget is tight and the Conservatives try to kill or privatise it. A lot of money for Microsoft/Accenture means that a degree of privatisation is happening here. “The same crew that did in the stock exchange,” iophk notes regarding the role played by Accenture. The article says “NHSmail has almost a million registered accounts and 730,000 active users. It has been running on Microsoft’s Exchange platform since 2009. Accenture is yet to confirm which IT systems it will use.” What a ripoff. £0.35 billion for less than a million users? What a heist! They should have gone with Free software and a British Free software consultancy. But since Conservatives like Cameron insist that encryption is such a nasty thing, no wonder an insecure proprietary alternative might be sought. Need PRISM (and by extension the NSA) be mentioned here?
Several days ago an article was published titled “The NHS must embrace open source to improve”. No doubt that’s true. The article says: “This is according to CIO at Bolton NHS Foundation Trust Rachel Dunscombe, who we recently caught up with to learn more about the transformation facing the UK healthcare system.
“Dunscombe told us that she is a strong supporter of open source in the NHS because it removes many of the risks presented by using proprietary products.”
The risks presented by proprietary products are not just to budget (disproportionately high cost) but also to patients. There have been stories about unencrypted data leaks and this new report from the British press [via Slashdot, which amended the post], calling out Windows, recalls Stuxnet and shows how using Microsoft Windows yourself helps your enemies (espionage): “Malware probers Tillmann Werner, of Crowdstrike, and Felix Leder, of BlueCoat, say the clever cyber-spy tool – said to have put back Iran’s nuclear program by two years – was on the brink of failure thanks to buggy code.
“Stuxnet had to remain undetected to the Iranians or else it would have blown the operation. Unfortunately, a programming blunder would have allowed it to spread to PCs running older and unsupported versions of Windows, and probably causing them to crash as a result. Those blue screens of death would have raised suspicions at the Natanz nuclear lab.”
And Windows continues to be used in British healthcare. This is insane. Another report from IDG in the UK helps Microsoft pretend to care about privacy (see “Microsoft moves to address customers’ concerns about cloud control and transparency”) while it’s actively providing the NSA with back doors, such as those which enabled sabotage in Iran.
If the NHS is serious about money savings and about privacy of patients, then it must immediately drop Windows and other Microsoft traps. As this British report from the other day serves to remind us, Windows ‘sales’ still are falling, largely due to GNU/Linux. It says that “Microsoft has weathered a tough three months, and despite signs of growth in cloud computing, Redmond saw its sales dragged down by dwindling demand from consumers.” Now recall the article above, “Microsoft moves to address customers’ concerns about cloud control and transparency”. Microsoft now wants the NHS to give Microsoft its data, using buzzwords like the ‘cloud’ nonsense. It is clear that the NHS should reject all that and just self-host using Free/libre Open Source software instead. It would cost far less than £0.35 billion and be more reliable, secure, etc. █
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Summary: How the increased reliance of proprietary software for E-mails breeds abuse at the higher levels while hurting those who are vulnerable
COMPANIES and individuals who rely on Free software for their E-mail needs rarely lose any mail. The protocols, the software and the failovers are generally robust. They are well tested and widely used. There is usually redundancy built in and the costs of this redundancy is low.
When one relies on Microsoft for E-mails one can end up in prison and deported, as this recent case taught us. Microsoft’s E-mail infrastructure is ripe for surveillance abuses even by Microsoft itself. Blunders relating to lost mail often trace back to Microsoft and it’s too easy to see why. Any business that uses Microsoft for storing and relaying E-mail is settling for an office is almost as bad as Microsoft Office. It boggles the mind; why do people put such trash in offices? It’s a Trojan horse to communications. Most mail filtering and antivirus products are used specifically to tackle Microsoft issues (zombie PCs and Windows malware). Free software overcomes many of these complications and it is more efficient, economic, and robust.
“Free software overcomes many of these complications and it is more efficient, economic, and robust.”The other day offices that rely on Microsoft for mail came to a standstill. Any office that “relies heavily on Microsoft Outlook,” as the article put it, was unable to get anything done. “LOL,” wrote a reader of ours, “rely and Microsoft in the same sentence”.
This reader previously drew our attention to the way Microsoft’s broken mail software saved the Bush family from embarrassment (deleting evidence). Spot the pattern here. Here is another new report about Microsoft mail going down pretty badly and staying down for a whole business day. “In outages this week,” says the Microsoft-friendly site, “Microsoft’s online Exchange service was down for nine hours, crippling Office 365 and hosted Outlook accounts across North America and Mexico, just after its unified communications service also crashed.”
Microsoft’s hosted services can only be as reliable as the underlying software, which is simply not reliable. Why would anyone at all want to use hosted Microsoft services? Downtimes are just too frequent and we used to cover them regularly. Watch a Microsoft-affiliated site (Fool.com) thinking that Ubuntu users will give Microsoft their files for hosting. Only a fool would do that, or one whose goal is to have the files spied if not altogether lost.
Then subject of lost E-mail is very hot at the moment because of stories relating to the IRS and NSA, Microsoft’s special ally for well over a decade. Here is some of the latest:
During a hearing held yesterday by the House Oversight Committee, Committee Chairman Darrel Issa said that it was “unbelievable” that the IRS had lost the e-mails of former IRS official Lois Lerner. While Congressman Issa is not generally ignorant on tech issues, he’s clearly not familiar with just how believable such a screw-up is.
“A retention policy designed to ensure that mail is lost” is what our reader called it. Maybe they too used Microsoft, but it is hard to tell for sure. IRS recently signed a big Microsoft deal, so it is a Windows shop (we covered this at the time, only months ago).
The bottom line is, Microsoft’s E-mail infrastructure breeds abuse. It is easy to claim that some “computer crash” (read: Windows issues) made evidence of crime disappear and when one who is vulnerable uses Microsoft for mail it is clear that those in power will be able to retrieve a lot to be used against the individual. Proprietary software tends to work against its users and in favour of the software ‘masters’. E-mail is a great example of this. █
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Cannot find a home, struggles to find its identity
Mailbox down the drain
Summary: How a Free software Exchange/Outlook challenger became an obscure option with no FOSS identity
According to this report from VAR Guy, the Zimbra shuffle continues:
VMware (VMW) has sold Zimbra, its Microsoft (MSFT) Exchange alternative, to Telligent. The VAR Guy isn’t shocked, considering VMware has been selling off non-core assets and Zimbra’s website had barely been updated this year. But what exactly does Zimbra’s sale mean to VMware and its channel partners? Here’s the analysis.
Zimbra was already in the hands of two Microsoft-inflitrated companies, Yahoo and VMware, and it never really made the impact it deserved to make. Back in the days it was marketed as FOSS, but this is no longer the case. The above article says that “Telligent — which focuses on enterprise social software — has acquired Zimbra. And going forward, Telligent will be known as Zimbra. Telligent CEO Patrick Brandt will lead the combined company. It sounds like Intel Capital, NXT Capital Venture Finance, BDCA, Hall Financial Group and VMware will each invest in the new Zimbra — which offers a “unified social collaboration suite built for the post-PC era.””
“Zimbra is no longer what it claimed to be, but some FOSS-backing companies like Red Hat use it.”This is interesting. So the company will be known as the product it just bought? Either way, no word is said about Free/open source software, which was the key proposition of this company way back in the days. The new owner is, according to Wikipedia, “previously a founding member of Microsoft’s ASP.NET team and helped build and run the Microsoft ASP.NET community.”
That’s reassuring, isn’t it?
Kolab would be a good option for those seeking a Free software option in this area. Zimbra is no longer what it claimed to be, but some FOSS-backing companies like Red Hat use it. █
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Summary: Another hypocritical attack of Microsoft against Google, this time in Boston
THE home of the Free Software Foundation (FSF) and the principal battleground for Microsoft's anti-ODF wars in the US is going to abandon Microsoft. Relation expected, right? Microsoft, as we saw before, is getting all nasty about it.
Well, “despite the Anti-Google FUD-slinging” Boston will ditch Exchange: “Faced with the choice of saving serious money or buying a load of FUD, the City of Boston has become the latest enterprise customer to dump Microsoft Exchange in favor of Google Apps.
“The thing to do is not to learn from Boston’s government branches but from the Boston-based FSF.”“And the city’s 20,000 employees won’t be the last to make this move until Microsoft either closes the cost chasm or comes up with a scarier story.”
Here is more: “THE CITY OF BOSTON has switched its 20,000 employees from Microsoft Exchange to Gmail in a move that will save $280,000 a year.”
Neither choice is acceptable. They are both proprietary and not privacy-respecting. So on what grounds does Microsoft attack Google? The same was done by Novell and Microsoft in California. They are all hypocrites because Microsoft itself is trying to do exactly what Google is doing.
The thing to do is not to learn from Boston’s government branches but from the Boston-based FSF. What they need is encrypted, self-hosted, FOSS-based mail. Later in the week we shall write about some newly-discovered Microsoft surveillance. Microsoft is a lot worse than Google when it comes to privacy. █
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Microsoft on track to global Linux tax?
Summary: Microsoft’s Linux internment and Microsoft Linux (SUSE) in the news; a little bit about GroupWise too
MICROSOFT has been creating its own internment pen for GNU/Linux users and it is looking to hire a mole to handle operations and lure some innocent sheep in.
As Microsoft boosters put it, Microsoft has Red Hat customers in sight. Microsoft already taxes Red Hat Linux (servers) at Amazon and now on its own turf it is trying to take this extortion further. Aiding Microsoft’s efforts we have had SUSE for a while, but fortunately Dell is moving away from that (although not to the right system, feeding Oracle instead). From a new page:
How Dell Migrated from SUSE Linux to Oracle Linux
Switching the underlying operating system on a single server is not trivial. Neither is dealing with the related conversion and compatibility issues. Imagine what’s involved in switching the operating system on thousands of servers spread globally across an enterprise, like Dell just did.
The good news here is that Dell itself won’t pay Microsoft tax (for its own systems), but at the same time Dell is actively promoting Microsoft-taxed Linux for OEMs solution, which troubles us a bit. It’s a signed deal which has the VAR Guy arguing about SUSE Studio:
Dell Servers Embrace SUSE Linux, But SUSE Studio Is Real Story
No doubt, Dell has relationships with multiple Linux distributions — including SUSE, Red Hat Enterprise Linux and Canonical Ubuntu. But SUSE apparently is the “first Linux vendor” in the Dell OEM Technology Partner program.
Sort of makes you wonder: Is something deeper brewing between Dell and SUSE? Hmmm…
This is just another reason to actually avoid Dell, but Joe Brockmeier, the former Novell employee, is promoting this. VAR Guy, who has also been close to Novell over the years, goes ahead and promotes GroupWise, which sane Web sites say nobody cares about anymore (and they are right). To quote:
No One Cares That Novell Has A New Version of GroupWise
Today Novell released its 2012 version of its email software GroupWise, and the announcement was greeted by most with a big yawn. GroupWise? Seems so last century. (Actually, the last updates to the software were for version 8 back in 2008-2010.) According to one analyst, “GroupWise has 10,000 customers and is used by 47 of the 50 US state governments.” It has been a distant third to Exchange and Lotus Notes for a while, and many GroupWise customers have switched over to Google Apps in the past several years.
GroupWise is proprietary and it distracts from Free/Open Source options that work equally well or better. GroupWise — like SUSE — is a solution in search of a problem, much like OpenSUSE when it looks for other people’s work again (trying to ape Linux Mint in this case). SUSE over the past 5+ years has been just a product for Microsoft to tax GNU/Linux through. It lacks technical merit/advantage and the latest release of OpenSUSE — as put in this new review — “was released too early. Period.” Boycott Novell and boycott SUSE. █
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Novell’s portfolio fails to survive
Summary: A roundup of December stories where companies or institutions dump Novell and also make it known
THE tracking of Novell’s demise is made hard by the fact that it went private. It is also made hard by the fact that companies which dump Novell need not make it publicly known. But we do our best to collect anecdotal evidence and this post will supply some.
Here is an article from December that says:
The new Active Directory, which took the place of Novell to store network accounts, became visible this year. Users now log on to campus computers using an Active Directory account and their Netpass username and password.
Here is another one:
The much-maligned Novell GroupWise e-mail program may soon become a thing of Smith’s past: ITS is considering switching to the Google Apps for Education platform. Smith has used GroupWise since September 2000, though over the years many students have expressed dissatisfaction with the program’s organizational system and size limitations.
Here is a massive loss for Novell:
The council is replacing Novell’s Groupwise collaboration tool and Microsoft’s word processing and spreadsheet software for its 3,500 staff, it said in a statement. The switch is expected to save the council £3 million over the next four years.
They are getting rid of GroupWise:
Research by the council’s IT department earlier this year found two viable options for the shift: Microsoft Office 365 and Google. A tender was put out in July to find a company to help migrate the council from its current Novell GroupWise system to one of those two solutions, including supplying licensing, and the winner was the London-based Google reseller Cloudreach.
In LA, after a fuss was made, it turns out that:
Google will pay up to $350,000 per year for those employees to use that system, which is run by Novell, a competitor.
It took a lot of smears against Google to achieve this. Proprietary Groupwise is not necessarily more privacy-respecting than Google. They ought to just deploy Free software, instead. Here is more background information [1, 2], which meets the chagrin of Microsoft boosters. It should not be about security because proprietary software that is native has security problems too. Anyway, it may be too late to reverse this decision. Groupwise might live another day in LA. As for Novell’s other proprietary software, one article says that in provisioning “Key vendors dominating this market space include Oracle Corp., IBM Corp., CA Technologies, and Novell Inc.” How long for? Attachmate is too passive.
Regarding proprietary identity management, Novell is mentioned here. Remember that Attachmate does not promote Novell products, so those pieces of software are in a terminal state right now.
Quoting one last new article:
Licensing revenues are also derived from arrangements in which we enable third party technology, such as solutions from Novell, to be used with our OEM partners’ products.
At Novell, proprietary software is what everything is about, except the incubation known as OpenSUSE. █
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Summary: An accumulation of news about Novell, focusing on particular themes
New Novell Videos
GroupWise still has some new videos posted about it, e.g. [1, 2, 3] to name the latest. While it is true that a new version is coming, not many changes will be introduced. GroupWise is a dying product with a shrinking userbase.
“Novell Productions” might be a trademark violation in another, separate new video on YouTube, but the Novell brand is a dying brand anyway. It’s coming to be known as Attachmate — whatever does not get liquidated or shut down. There are other new Novell videos, but some are in Polish or are short clips from/about India. It has been a long time since we last saw Teaming mentioned, but here it is again (“Netflex Success Story for Novell Teaming + Conferencing”).
There was a heap of material in the news again about LA’s planned move to Google (from Novell) To quote one example:
The amended contract requires Google to pay for the police and related agencies to stay on Novell GroupWise till November 2012. Google was already footing the Groupwise bill through June 20, 2011. The cost to Google could be several million dollars. But the blow to Google’s reputation as a provider of safe and secure email and collaboration could be far higher.
Over a year ago we showed how both Novell and Microsoft spread FUD to derail this move. It was all over the news in the middle/end of last month:
The letter, dated Aug. 17, 2011, but confidential until now, essentially says Google is responsible for paying for the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD)’s Novell GroupWise deployment through November 2012.
More information can be found in [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9].
In the new we still find former Novell staff that finds a new home by moving to other companies. We also find former Novell staff in Allegiance now. To quote:
The company has named Jason Taylor, formerly with Omniture and Novell, as executive vice president of engineering.
Here is another news story about Novell getting the boot:
The project started four years ago when the University realised it was going to have to replace its aging mish-mash of legacy systems based around conventional PCs and obsolete technology such as Novell’s Netware.
Guess who is moving to Microsoft? Former customers of Novell:
“In moving from Novell to Microsoft for our back end, we had a blank slate,” says Johnson. The organization decided to move from systems-based downloads for applications to user-based downloads. In other words, end users can choose from a library of pre-approved software that they download themselves.
With Attachmate in charge, it is almost guaranteed that Novell’s old business will evaporate one client at a time. █
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Summary: The decline of GroupWise is made apparent by more departures from it, even self-professed analysts who point out the obvious
IT HAS BEEN quite a long time since the last GroupWise release. GroupWise is not cared for all that much anymore. It still has some legacy userbase, but that too is forever eroding.
The firm known as Gartner (which sells bias or points out the obvious) mentions the obvious decline of Novell in E-mail. It doesn’t take analysts to see this, but the news sites do like to reprint Gartner ‘research’ (which it does for paying customers to advance their objectives, not with objective analysis).
There were many ways to redress this so-called ‘study’, e.g. promoting Gmail, but nobody could deny the fall of GroupWise.
Moving on to another new article:
Following a regular IT product selection process, Schelp says a decision was reached whereby SBS would migrate off its existing Novell GroupWise e-mail and groupware suite to Microsoft’s Office 365 Cloud service for some 1300 user accounts.
Here is another one: “That was more or less how things shook out at Lincoln Property Co., said CIO Jay Kenney about the Dallas-based management company’s switching in 2010 from an in-house Novell GroupWise email system to Google Apps for its 4,000 employees.”
And another new story: “Brisbane City Council has undertaken a major project to migrate up to 8,500 desktop users off its Novell GroupWise email system to Microsoft Exchange.”
More on Bisbane from other sources (“Brisbane City Council culls GroupWise”): “Gartner suggests that Novell’s GroupWise and IBM’s Lotus Notes have lost momentum in the enterprise market in recent years, and this has made room for Google to prosper.”
There is a lot of evidence that makes Gartner’s so-called ‘research’ less than insightful and as another article puts it:
In a statement, the analyst house says classic stalwarts like Novell and IBM with its Lotus Notes have “lost market momentum”, while Cisco shut its effort down.
GWAVACon will carry on despite the fall of GroupWise, but how long for? They have a special speaker: “Flynn was appointed President and General Manager of Novell. He has worked for over 30 years in the IT industry, spending the past 13 years with the Attachmate Group.”
How come Attachmate does almost nothing to improve GroupWise? It is not even trying. █
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