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Server Specs: NSA data center drains Baltimore grid

NSA data center drains Baltimore grid; IBM to buy MRO Software; Sun layoffs begin.

NSA data center drains Baltimore grid

The Baltimore Sun this week reported that the National Security Agency (NSA) is running out of power for its data center. According to the report, the high-tech spying operation has been forced to stall the implementation of two new supercomputers. The NSA, located in Fort Meade, Md., is Baltimore Gas & Electric's biggest customer. The report said the NSA is considering building out more generator capacity and shutting down legacy systems to help alleviate the problem.

More on data center power:

The price of power

Data center efficiency bill passes the House

IBM to buy MRO Software

IBM Corp. announced last week that it plans to buy MRO Software for about $740 million to help boost its asset management services for customers running on a service-oriented architecture (SOA).

Bedford, Mass.-based MRO provides industrial asset and service management software. The buy fits into IBM's strategy to assist companies with asset management -- including equipment in the data center.

MRO Software's customers include Exxon-Mobil, Heineken and Frito Lay and will be rolled into the IBM Software and IBM Global Services departments. The acquisition, which comes out to $25.80 per share, is expected to close by the end of this year subject to shareholder and regulatory approval.

In a conference call last week, MRO Software president and CEO Chip Drapeau said the acquisition will help IBM organize its customers' IT and industrial assets.

Al Zollar, IBM's general manager of Tivoli Systems, said its customers are asking for a consistent way to manage corporate assets along with IT assets. The purchase of MRO Software helps them do that, he said.

The companies did not spell out whether IBM would integrate MRO Software products into its own portfolio or have a division within a division where the company worked more independently, but that roadmap should be spelled out more clearly once the acquisition is complete.

Whichever way it goes, the MRO Software products will likely work in tandem with, or be part of Tivoli, its systems management software.

Sun layoffs begin

Sun Microsystems Inc. started laying off employees on Friday as part of an effort to cut as many as 5,000 jobs.

The layoffs are part of a restructuring strategy by the Santa Clara, Calif., company to save between $480 million and $590 million a year. It seeks to reduce costs so it doesn't exceed income and hopes to have results to investors in two years.

The company would not say how many jobs were eliminated on Friday, but it went across all levels of staffing, including management. Jonathan Schwartz announced the restructuring after taking over as CEO in April.

In the most recent fiscal quarter ending June 30, Sun had an 8.75% operating revenue loss, though it did announce that net revenue had increased from $2.9 billion to $3.8 billion.

Another Cisco vulnerability revealed at Black Hat conference

A German developer and systems engineer for Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) said during a presentation last week that there appeared to be a flaw related to the protocol for a series of Cisco Systems Inc. firewalls and security appliances.

Hendrik Scholz, of Freenet Cityline in Germany, reportedly presented the flaw on one of the last slides of his presentation, and Cisco is reported to be investigating the issue. It said that the flaw may be caused by a problem specific to Scholz's implementation and not a true vulnerability.

That news followed on the footsteps of another potential problem, where Cisco's VoIP management software is vulnerable to a flaw in which a remote user could obtain a user directory with names in the user database. Cisco is also investigating that problem.

Last year, a security researcher disclosed details about a vulnerability in Cisco's Internetwork Operating System (IOS) software. That disclosure led to Cisco suing the conference organizers and the researcher, Michael Lynn.

Ohio University data breach leads to firings

Ohio University has fired two top IT officials for failing to prevent security breaches earlier this year, including one that exposed information of 137,000 alumni.

The school's director of communication network services and the manager of Internet and systems were both dismissed by the university's chief information officer, William Sans, who will also resign once the school finds a replacement for him.

The school has said that servers for at least three different departments -- technology transfer, alumni relations and health -- were hacked into in recent weeks and that personal information for about 200,000 people was on the machines.

The school contacted the FBI and sought assistance from other colleges, such as the University of Southern California and the University of Notre Dame, which had similar security breaches.

An attorney for one of the men who was fired said the responsibility was being dropped on two men who didn't deserve it, and that he would file an administrative appeal on behalf of his client.

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