AT&T Slashes Intro Rate for DSL Service

Firing what could become the opening salvo in a price war for high-speed Internet access, AT&T has launched an online-only offer that provides high-speed home Web access for US$12.99 per month.

The price is available only to first-time broadband users who are also telephone subscribers. After a year, the price will revert to market rates of about $29 per month.

Converting Dial-Up Users

Still, the price point is seen as significant because it is in the same range as many dial-up access plans. AT&T is using the bargain rate to convince dial-up holdouts to make the switch and likely believes that once they do so, few if any will go back, even if it means a few extra dollars per month.

For $12.99, users get a co-branded AT&T and Yahoo Internet service with speeds of up to 1.5 Mbps. The company, which launched a massive re-branding effort after the recent merger of SBC Communications and the original AT&T, is also offering a 3 Mbps version, known as AT&T Yahoo High Speed Internet Pro, for $17.99 per month.

The prices represent “an incredible value that will help even more consumers experience and enjoy the digital lifestyle,” said Scott Helbing, chief marketing officer for AT&T Consumer.

AT&T, which has about 7 million DSL lines in service, said the promotion was available in the 13 states where SBC conducted business, including southern states such as Texas and Arkansas; Illinois, Indiana and Michigan in the Midwest; and California and Nevada in the West. SBC’s only major inroads on the Eastern seaboard is in the parts of Connecticut that it services.

Pricing Power Flexed

Given the competitive nature of the high-speed Internet business, with cable companies and telecommunications firms vying for the same pool of customers, others may follow suit with lower-cost options. The deal could also spell more imminent doom for businesses that rely on dial-up subscribers, whose numbers have been plunging in recent years.

Cable companies typically charge more for high-speed service, though most cable modem access plans have higher download speeds. Still, many of those companies may be forced to react in order to avoid losing ground in the race for more business, as increasing numbers of customers choose bundles of services that include Internet access, telephone service and television services.

SBC can also offer wireless telephone services, since it owns a piece of AT&T Wireless, and portable Internet access, through a nationwide AT&T network of hotspots.

Yet some see danger for AT&T in pricing its service too low and starting a race to the bottom of the market, with quality of service, speed and other features left by the wayside. Also, attempting to compete on price alone leaves a company vulnerable to competitors who are willing to do the same.

Broadband penetration continues to climb, though analysts have said the double-digit growth of recent years will slow as the numbers grow. According to Nielsen//NetRatings, more than 42 percent of Americans now have broadband access at home, with some 60 percent of the Web site visits in the U.S. before the holiday season of 2005 coming from broadband connections.

Providers have helped sustain the growth of broadband by continually holding the line on price, Nielsen//NetRatings Vice President Charles Buchwalter told the E-Commerce Times.

“The speculation was always that the high cost of broadband would limit widespread adoption,” Buchwalter said. “But carriers have responded to the growing demand for lower cost broadband, and all indications are that this trend will continue.”

Building an Audience

That growth will be essential to create a market for the huge menu of high-speed services that providers plan to deliver over high-speed connections, especially on-demand movies and television shows, but also Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) and even interactive TV services such as e-commerce.

Telecom analyst Jeff Kagan told the E-Commerce Times that providers are eager to avoid an all-out price war. That’s why many partner with Web service providers such as Yahoo, which has had a long-standing relationship with SBC, AT&T’s predecessor.

“Carriers would much rather differentiate themselves with service and features rather than price,” Kagan said. However, if one company has success with a bargain rate service, others might have to follow. “No one wants to fall behind on building that loyal customer base for all the services that are going to come over that line in the future.”

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Canonical Lets Loose Ubuntu 22.04 LTS ‘Jammy Jellyfish’

Canonical Ubuntu 22.04 LTS (Jammy Jellyfish)
Image Credit: Canonical

Canonical’s Ubuntu 22.04 LTS, aka “Jammy Jellyfish,” is now generally available with features that raise the bar for open source — from cloud, to edge, to IoT and workstations.

The desktop version is one of the biggest LTS releases from Ubuntu with respect to visual and feature changes. This major upgrade to GNOME 42 brings changes to the desktop itself in terms of layout, appearance, and how things work.

If the Ubuntu desktop is your only connection to Canonical’s infrastructure, you can expect some mild and minor hands-on adjustments. If you deal with the rest of Ubuntu’s enterprise world, you will find a lot more hardcore improvements in security and performance for IoT and cloud computing connections.

Canonical announced the new release on Thursday, detailing features that bring significant leaps forward in cloud confidential computing, real-time kernel for industrial applications, and enterprise Active Directory, PCI-DSS, HIPAA, FIPS, and FedRAMP compliance.

The new desktop release, however, comes without the anticipated new installer, which uses flutter, an open-source user interface, noted Oliver Smith, Canonical’s program manager for the Ubuntu desktop. The flutter element is not fully ready for deployment. Instead, Canonical will release a build of 22.04 that does feature the new installer later in the update cycle.

“I think when you are dealing with something that we want to support for five years, and we were expecting a huge amount of adoption, we just did not feel that we would have the opportunity to test across all the different sort of ranges of hardware and use cases that we wanted to get (for) confidence to go live out of the box,” Smith explained.

“It is evolving a lot in the background, but just the timing did not quite work out for this release.”

Ubuntu Desktop Still in Focus

The range of use cases that involve Ubuntu Server, IoT, and cloud OS installations, is not making the Ubuntu desktop edition less significant, according to Mark Shuttleworth, CEO of Canonical. He denied the Ubuntu desktop itself is less important now than other enterprise factors in response to a reporter’s question Tuesday during a virtual presentation.

“Our mission is to be a secure, reliable, and consistent open-source platform everywhere,” he said. “Ubuntu 22.04 LTS unlocks innovation for industries with demanding infrastructure security requirements, such as telecommunications and industrial automation, underpinning their digital transformation.”

So the desktop is sort of central to Ubuntu’s narrative, Shuttleworth added. It is also central to the kind of innovation work a lot of the company’s developers do within Intel.

“For example, [improvements] enable the same sorts of high-end capabilities whether those are battery life or performance capabilities on Linux that they achieve on platforms like Windows,” he said. “Those are really important.”

In terms of resources, Canonical has about 60 people working with its various partners — Dell, HP, Lenovo — and the industry supply chain on the desktop. Plus, another 20 engineers or so work on core desktop capabilities, he noted.

Ubuntu Adoption Grows Deep

Ubuntu is deeply integrated into public clouds and optimized for performance, security, and ease of use. A key new capability is confidential computing, which greatly improves data protection and privacy in leading public clouds without requiring any changes to existing application deployments.

Ubuntu is the only Linux distribution supporting Azure confidential VMs, according to Vikas Bhatia, head of product for Azure Confidential Computing at Canonical. To ensure great performance on Arm, Canonical also optimized Ubuntu 22.04 LTS images for AWS Graviton.

On AWS, Ubuntu is available from EC2, with multiple images including support for the latest Graviton chips, all the way to containers. This includes the latest Arm servers, Ampere A1, that provide high-performing and cost-effective solutions for all types of workloads, he said.

Other Major Ubuntu Plaudits

Innovators on Raspberry Pi get the first long-term support release with Ubuntu Desktop support on the Raspberry Pi 4. The entire recent Raspberry Pi device portfolio is supported for the very first time, from the new Raspberry Pi Zero 2W to the Raspberry Pi 4, said Eben Upton, CEO of Raspberry Pi Trading.

“It is great to see a certified Ubuntu Desktop release that includes support for the 2 GB Raspberry Pi 4, giving developers all over the world access to the most affordable development desktop environment,” he said.

Ubuntu WSL (Windows Subsystem for Linux) delivers deep integration with native Windows development environments like Visual Studio Code and Docker Desktop across a shared file system. Users mix Windows and Linux commands to create efficient workflows for data science, web development, and IT systems management. Users of Ubuntu WSL can upgrade to 22.04 LTS directly.

For Windows and macOS developers, Multipass provides Ubuntu 22.04 LTS VMs on-demand with full cloud-init for cloud prototyping at home. Multipass gains Apple M1 support, making it the best way to drive development for new ARM cloud instances, according to Canonical. Multipass has also added support for Docker workflows to unify the developer experience for cloud and cloud-native applications.

For shared development environments, multi-user LXD offers per-user project segregation. This addition restricts specific user permissions so multiple people can safely share the same LXD cluster.

Foundation for Data-Sensitive Workloads

Ubuntu is the platform of choice to run Microsoft SQL Server on Azure with enterprise-grade support, noted Canonical. SQL Server on Ubuntu Pro LTS for Azure offers scalability and performance.

It also gives business-critical SQL Server workloads access to comprehensive open-source security on Azure. Nvidia virtual GPU (vGPU) software drivers are generally available now.

Data scientists can natively install Nvidia vGPU Software 14.0 and benefit from highly-performant GPU resources across multiple virtual machines simultaneously. This allows data scientists to use parallel, isolated advanced AI/ML workloads to help ensure that the underlying hardware resources are used efficiently.

“Enterprises, data scientists and developers building AI solutions require integrated systems and software that easily support MLOps workflows,” said Manuvir Das, vice president of Enterprise Computing at Nvidia.

“Organizations can now run Nvidia AI on Ubuntu to help solve some of humanity’s biggest challenges with new products and systems that simplify operations, boost safety, and improve communication,” Das added.

Other Ubuntu Strengths

The Ubuntu 22.04 LTS base image is available on Docker Hub along with a Canonical-maintained portfolio of secure and stable LTS application container images. Existing LTS Docker images on Ubuntu will receive new long-term supported 22.04-based tracks.

These include MySQL, PostgreSQL, and Nginx. The open-source applications portfolio is expanding further, focusing on Observability and Big Data, with new Grafana Loki, Apache Kafka, and Apache Cassandra container images.

“Ubuntu plays an essential role on Docker Hub, as one of the most popular Docker Official Images,” said Webb Stevens, senior vice president of Secure Software Supply chain at Docker.

Real-Time Kernel, Too

Canonical also reported that the Ubuntu 22.04 LTS real-time kernel is available in beta.

Designed to meet telco network transformation needs for 5G, the real-time kernel delivers performance, guaranteed ultra-low latency, and security for critical infrastructure. This new kernel also serves latency-sensitive use cases in industrial automation and robotics. It handles real-time applications like Cloud RAN,” said Dan Lynch, marketing director at Intel.

“The real-time kernel in Ubuntu 22.04 LTS leverages the acceleration from Intel hardware, allowing us to compete on even terms with the biggest network equipment providers,” said Radoslaw Adamczyk, technical lead at IS-Wireless, which develops and delivers mobile networks in the OpenRAN model.

That offers the ability to have one platform for the whole stack, from bare metal with MaaS to Ubuntu OS, LXD VM and Microk8s on the edge. Ubuntu 22.04 LTS adds Rust for memory-safe systems-level programming. It also moves to OpenSSL v3, with new cryptographic algorithms for elevated security.

Desktop Highlights

Ubuntu’s default GNOME desktop gains significant usability, battery, and performance improvements with the GNOME 42 upgrade featuring GNOME power profiles and streamlined workspace transitions alongside significant optimizations which can double the desktop frame rate on Intel and Raspberry Pi graphics drivers.

GNOME 42 brings a horizontal workspace view alongside the horizontal application view. The changes in will require some muscle memory changes to get used to updated and new applications.

Expect lots of new looks. Some of the notable upgrades involve changes to the base color scheme and the Jammy Jellyfish default wallpaper.

File Manager has a more compact look, and new screenshot tools changes how you do captures.

Available for Download

Ubuntu 22.04 LTS Jammy Jellyfish is available now on Ubuntu Downloads and major public clouds.

Jack M. Germain has been an ECT News Network reporter since 2003. His main areas of focus are enterprise IT, Linux and open-source technologies. He is an esteemed reviewer of Linux distros and other open-source software. In addition, Jack extensively covers business technology and privacy issues, as well as developments in e-commerce and consumer electronics. Email Jack.

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Low-Code Platforms Help Ease the Shadow IT Adversity Pain

Stand-alone automation platforms and low-code software tools in recent years enable vendors to increase sales of products designed for specific roles and functions directly to business users.

Often, this puts IT management at arm’s length from enforcing governance and security standards.

This shift to a more hands-on internal process can put a company’s CIO at odds with IT managers and software programmers over “shadow IT” issues.

That ongoing turf dispute is forcing CIOs to alter their roles within corporate settings.

CIOs now must balance new one-off IT issues with the traditional aspects of their role, observed Carter Busse, CIO at Workato.

They are balancing shadow IT on top of security, compliance, and cost-effectiveness, so that shadow IT becomes more of a team player rather than competing adversity with the company.

In the broader sense, shadow IT refers to information technology (IT) projects managed outside of an organization’s IT department. Often that occurs without the knowledge of IT awareness and management.

For example, workers within a company use other peer-to-peer file-sharing and cloud collaboration tools that IT has not sanctioned and configured.

Shadow IT Here To Stay

Especially with the expanded deployment of working-from-home arrangements, data security goes lacking with employees using messaging apps, flash drives, and HDDs that operate beyond in-house network protections.

Analysts predict the hyper-automation market will reach nearly $600 billion this year. That forecast begs the question: how does a CIO manage all of a company’s IT going forward?

Carter Busse has the answer to dealing with the shadow IT problem. CIOs can allow low-code and automation tools without losing control of IT architecture, he assured TechNewsWorld.

One essential tool to achieve this outcome is a low-code/no-code platform. Such platforms let enterprises integrate their software stack and automate the work for integration and workflow automation across their organization.

“Shadow IT will always be there. You will never eliminate shadow IT. It is a necessary evil, I think,” he said. “The industry for selling software as a service product is too entrenched to ever go away.”

It is up to the IT leader to deal with it. The right architecture, governance, and business relationships, make shadow IT an avenue for IT to be more strategic, he explained.

Alternative Strategies

Workato’s low-code/no-code enterprise platform gives corporate CIOs a new approach to integrate and automate tools and workflow apps. It provides an alternative to being at war with shadow IT elements. Good IT managers need to figure out how to work with the business and be partners within the business, Busse suggested.

“They have to enable their apps to become even more powerful. The platform can actually help IT become more of a partner with the business,” he said.

He sees Workato’s approach as the industry’s next platform for IT and business leaders to move forward. A low-code/no-code platform literally takes you to the next level, he added.

“It changes things because it gives the people who know the process the best an ability to take control. It is not IT. It is the business leaders,” he said. “You can actually sit down with the business leaders and let them automate their processes live in these low-code/no-code interfaces.”

As a CIO, he repeatedly views Workato’s platform users doing their own process automation with its tools. With that, they have the entire software governance process in tow to make sure they do it correctly.

Low-Code, No-Code Platforms Explained

Low-code is a software development approach requiring little-to-no coding to build applications and processes. Rather than using complex programming languages, low-code lets programmers in IT departments employ visual interfaces with basic logic and drag-and-drop capabilities in a low-code development platform.

Low-code is not the same approach as no-code solutions. No-code platforms target business users. Low-code platforms instead are tools for developers. Both rely on a visual development interface.

Workato’s somewhat combined solution provides IT users with the building blocks to do both. They can assemble tasks into workflows and applications. It is built on a cloud platform that auto-scales. This eliminates the complexities of infrastructure provisioning and capacity planning.

Low-code building blocks remove the code behind actions and commands making it possible for IT to assemble workflows and business apps without the need for hand-coding.

Workato’s low-code/no-code platform enables both business and IT teams to do both approaches using its integrated approach. They can build integrations at five times the speed of other integration platforms, according to Busse.

It is business process management software that manages and integrates a company’s financial status, supply chain, operations, commerce, reporting, manufacturing, and human resource activities.

“The platform lets IT and business leaders integrate the apps they have around them to get the data they actually need. In turn, that makes shadow IT less of a problem,” he added.

How It Works

From Busse’s perspective, Workato’s platform is a building block for every IT shop. It is a cloud app that also offers an on-premises client.

Workato connectors are the foundations for workflow automation with the platform. Each one includes a method of authentication, triggers, and actions for a specific app. They help companies walk through the process of integrating what they had on-premises into their cloud operations.

Recipes are sets of instructions that are designed to trigger automated complex workflows. Recipes are often used as REST endpoints that can be called from other recipes or apps. Workato’s customers developed most of the automation recipes.

REST, or representational state transfer, is a software architectural style created to guide the design of architecture for the web. A REST API is a way for two computers to communicate over HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol), much like how clients and servers communicate.

Triggers in Workato’s software platform are data conditions that prompt an action to happen automatically. They can be scheduled, move records in batches, and read from on-premises files.

A set of available actions exist for every trigger. Actions can have multiple steps and multiple conditions.

Impact on CIO’s Role

The workflow results the platform performs directly benefit CIOs, said Busse. It gives them the ability to move much faster and keep up with the business. “This gives a safe playground to the business users,” he noted.

A critical component is the added control provided for governance issues. Governance, a big part of a CIO’s role, is also a key requirement for any software platform that allows business users to work with corporate data.

For example, Workato Aegis is a management tool for cross-enterprise visibility into users and usage, integration processes, and the applications they connect. That combination of functions makes the CIO’s job more productive and responsive.

Aegis supports assigning different levels of responsibility and visibility within the platform. It enables collaboration between business and IT users as well. It also enables the implementation and enforcement of policies to improve security and governance across all users within an enterprise. 

Jack M. Germain has been an ECT News Network reporter since 2003. His main areas of focus are enterprise IT, Linux and open-source technologies. He is an esteemed reviewer of Linux distros and other open-source software. In addition, Jack extensively covers business technology and privacy issues, as well as developments in e-commerce and consumer electronics. Email Jack.

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