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Should Microsoft's Amdocs Deal Worry Data Center Operators?

Soulskill posted about 2 years ago | from the blood-from-a-linux-based-stone dept.

Microsoft 32

On Tuesday, Microsoft signed a patent cross-license agreement with Amdocs Software Systems. They specifically noted in their press release that the agreement covered Amdocs' use of 'Linux-based servers in its data centers,' and noted that Amdocs paid them money for the privilege. In light of the current state of mobile device licensing, with Microsoft getting a cut from most Android device sales, should data centers operators worry about having to pay Microsoft for their use of Linux servers? From the article: "To date, Linux advocates have been hypersensitive to any move Microsoft has made against the open-source OS—which, to be fair, Microsoft has seen as a threat since its inception. It's certainly possible that Amdocs approached Microsoft for a patent cross-license for its own purposes; but if that's the case, Amdocs would likely have disclosed that fact. Amdocs representatives declined to comment on the deal, and the arrangement has been completely ignored on the Amdocs Website. ... The question, though, is whether Microsoft will begin eyeing data-center operators as a similar source of licensing revenue. The company has avoided directly challenging Linux developer/distributors such IBM or Red Hat, instead targeting partners and customers."

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This is horrible! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40795741)

What's next, Stallman takes a bath?

Moral of the story (2)

HangingChad (677530) | about 2 years ago | (#40795775)

The company has avoided directly challenging Linux developer/distributors such IBM or Red Hat, instead targeting partners and customers."

Don't do business with Microsoft. If this is their new business model, sell your MSFT stock.

Re:Moral of the story (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40795869)

Actually they're brilliant.

They're slowly and quietly geting a hold of linux by using their patents. Quietly, I mean because there are no big lawsuits. They're easing into every possible niche where you find Linux.

Apple on the other hand, uses it's patents to bash anyone who opposes them, rocking the boat and pushing everyone out of their comfort zones. They're actually forcing the change of the patent laws.
I'd say it would be for the better, but considering how many laws got twisted back into something even more restrictive, I won't hold my breath. Well, in the USA anyway, the EU, seems to follow a different logic set.

Re:Moral of the story (-1)

bhcompy (1877290) | about 2 years ago | (#40796225)

Different logic set, yes. EU allows for reason to inject itself into decisions of law(well I know the law says this, but is it really worth it to do it that way?). US is more literal, which is a huge problem when you have tons of ambiguous laws and, within the realm of this top, tons of ambiguous patents to live within that set of ambiguous laws. Thus, you get literal interpretations of ambiguity that are completely awful and anti-competitive, anti-consumer, and anti-business all at the same time.

Moral - time wasted fighting can't be made up (2)

theshowmecanuck (703852) | about 2 years ago | (#40796813)

Patent crazy North America and Britain = 400 million people more or less. World population > 6 billion. Granted America has in past been capable of a great deal of technological innovation, but the rest of world is catching up quickly while America spirals down in ever decreasing circles of patent litigation. And this is compounded by the fact that any of the "limited by IP lawsuit" innovation they manage to do invariably gets exploited in offshore countries so that for example, the only part of a google phone that are made in America is the injection molded case.

The circle is complete, now the only thing Americans can do are the same things that Asia was limited to sell to America 50 years ago. Can do... not "capable of". Doesn't matter what you are capable of if the patent holding companies offshore the innovative stuff. The patent system is broken, we all know that. So who cares what deals are made. We're supposed to learn from history, but see what happens when myopic business leaders and lawyers ignore the advice of the technocrats... and voila, Deming is vindicated... in a few years the anti IP patent people will be too. To the detriment of those of us in North America (except for maybe Alberta until the oil runs out or no-one wants the dirty tar sand oil any more).

Brilliant in the short-term (1)

aNonnyMouseCowered (2693969) | about 2 years ago | (#40797153)

Microsoft is only brilliant in the short-term. If they do this enough times, sooner or later they either encounter another big bully or piss off enough of the little kids they'll have a rebellion on their hands. Short-term profits, but long-term Microsoft could be generating so much ill-will that people would prefer not to do business with them unless absolutely necessary.

Re:Moral of the story (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40798785)

Actually it's retarded.

They're slowly and loudly becoming a mentally vegetative company using invalid patents with NDAs to blackmail companies into giving them the cash that their failing products are no longer bringing in.

Once those patents are exposed and proven invalid (which they are), you can flush that abortion that should have been company down the toilet. While you're at it, make sure to wipe yourself with Apple stock, they're going down too.

we're not sure they did (1)

poetmatt (793785) | about 2 years ago | (#40795887)

Who says they did even do business with MS?

For all we know this patent settlement could be $0 and nothing is paid for. In fact, it's pretty likely given the patents that B&N already showed that MS was trying to use for this purpose.

Re:we're not sure they did (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40795991)

I don't have numbers, but they are very much an MS shop. Many millions of dollars on site licenses for everything. I suspect MS essentially paid them to do this through discounts on the site licenses.

Re:we're not sure they did (3, Interesting)

theshowmecanuck (703852) | about 2 years ago | (#40797459)

Amdocs pretty much is the largest vendor of telecommunications ordering, CRM, and billing software in the world. Almost every telecom company of any sort of significant size (anywhere) uses their software. Given the size of these companies I figure this means a user base of at least tens of thousands of people (if not more). And it controls hundreds of millions if not billions of accounts. To implement their systems at large telcos you're looking at costs well north of half a billion dollars (if not closer to the big B), and take years to complete. (Granted not all the costs are Amdocs specific, but much is Amdocs related since a lot goes into systems integration, and it all figures into human and capital expenses).

The core of the systems normally run on Unix or Linux servers (and when I was there the back end used a mix of C, C++, and JEE). The front end is either web based or run on MS machines. And I am pretty sure they have a not insignificant IP portfolio too. Given they set the hardware and software requirements for these systems, and given the size of these systems, ya just gotta figure they have a fair bit of leverage, and turn a lot of heads at their vendors (like MS, IBM, Oracle, HP, etc etc etc etc etc). And since, as some former (like me) and current employees of Amdocs like to say, they exhibit the finest execution of the umbrella principle ever, their influence on systems specifications doesn't end at the end of the implementation project. Once they get in a telco they are there for ever (like an umbrella inserted up your ass and then opened). Most companies wish they could execute this so well. So their influence extends for years into support contracts as well. So ya, go figure.

Re:we're not sure they did (1)

faedle (114018) | about 2 years ago | (#40798455)

.. and Amdocs is an old, archaic piece of shit that everybody is trying to migrate away from.

But, as you point out, it's difficult for even a small system like my employer to migrate to something else. It takes years to get everything working even for the best systems.

Re:we're not sure they did (2)

theshowmecanuck (703852) | about 2 years ago | (#40802273)

And as much as many don't wish to admit it, it is one of the few systems that can handle tens of millions of telco customer accounts. In some cases like AT&T, hundreds of millions. And I admit, I saw some things that were suspect in the code years ago, but since then they have pretty much completely replaced/rewritten the billing and order management system. I have more issues with how their customers get talked into totally trusting them with support. (Oh noooo the system doesn't support that anywhere, we need to charge you a million dollars for an enhancement... yeah right).

Re:Moral of the story (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40796075)

Looks like they're going to go another Canopus Group and pull an SCO.. though the mere fact that they're going after
small fries instead of the Linux "Bigshots" shows they're holding nothing.. The best thing to do is to ignore them
and get proactive on your stock portfolio, no telling when their current nose-dive ends in an abrupt halt. Just think about the
upcoming Windows-8 bust, and if you haven't heard of that yet, check out what people have to say about the upcoming
Windows 8. Windows 8 stands to become even more unpopular than Windows Vista ever was.

There's nothing more vicious than a dying snake, it will writhe and thrash around biting everything, including itself.
Looks like ole M$ is hurting more than we think. Glad I sold my M$FT months ago.

Re:Moral of the story (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40796223)

check out what people have to say about the upcoming apple ipad

http://apple.slashdot.org/story/10/02/25/1558207/ipad-will-beat-netbooks-with-magic

Win 8 is looking like a disaster in the making. However, lets see what happens first. I personally am going to install my 15 dollar copy that I get with my new computer and play with it. I would be stupid not to. I have a family tech support to run ;)

Re:Moral of the story (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40796119)

Such news should be a cautionary tale for all those who think RMS is too extreme in his insistence on the **true** definition of free software. "They came for my boot, but they still let me boot, so I didn't object," is the start of myriad problems. I'd rather have a dull, working, but free, system than one that I've somehow been allowed to have.

As a D level executive.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40795817)

A C level executive told me, “We use a lot of Microsoft software as well, and it was cheaper than fighting with them over our contracts. We want to do business, not fight over legal claims that have nothing to do with us.”

...

Another told me that, When Microsoft bought the Novell patents in 2011, “We knew Microsoft had to share those patents under the GPLv2, but our in-house counsel thought that didn't mean that Microsoft still couldn't charge for their use.”

As a D Level executive, I say FUCK'EM! Somebody on Slashdot posted that they can't do that and their lawyer is incompetent! It's GPL'd! GO ahead and sue me! I've got an army of Slashdot posters giving me legal advice!

Microsoft will rue the day!

Re:As a D level executive.... (3, Interesting)

DaHat (247651) | about 2 years ago | (#40796087)

It's GPL'd! GO ahead and sue me!

Doesn't that only apply to GPL3 software? Plus I'd think that assumes that the author of the code in question had rights to the patent.

The Details (5, Insightful)

arbiterxero (952505) | about 2 years ago | (#40795897)

See if you look at what they're doing, they're not actually trying to stem the flow of their "IP".

If their IP was valuable, or if they had a reasonable case, they'd take it to redhat, etc...

I mean if I invented something and someone big was selling the same thing.... and I had a case for it.... Why would I go after small potatoes Users rather than the big guy with $1billion dollars?

Unless my goal is to just extract small payments out of everyone because I know that I don't have a real case. Just be enough of a nuissance that people pay me to go away rather than fix the problem. I have no interest in fixing the problem, that doesn't benefit my wallet. Especially if the problem is trivial.

Where's the IBM suit? Oracle? Redhat? no, they could change things so that I wouldn't get my paychecks.

Why not at least tell people what's infringing so that I can be honest? Patents aren't secret anyways, so any patent I have is already public, but how I'm using them isn't. NDA's all around so that nobody ever knows and can't file a class-action for my security payments..

Pay me or I'll smash up your small bar.

Re:The Details (1)

roc97007 (608802) | about 2 years ago | (#40796159)

I think this will continue to work until Microsoft hits up a customer who won't roll over, it goes to court, and everything falls apart. But in the mean time, it's basically money for nothing.

You know, if you or I did that, we'd land in jail. But ok...

Re:The Details (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40796273)

No you wouldn't. You would just end up with more people saying "put up or shut up."

The Nazgul are watching this closely (4, Interesting)

RobertLTux (260313) | about 2 years ago | (#40796303)

When this becomes Important to IBM then the Blood Will Flow. The only reason we did not see real action from the Nazgul in The SCO case is that The MoFo ground them into paste (okay it took an obscenely long time but...

They try this with IBM or an IBM partner and they will be PASTE on a STICK.

Re:The Nazgul are watching this closely (2)

Jaseoldboss (650728) | about 2 years ago | (#40802391)

I like your imagery but SCO certainly did plenty to provoke IBM. Like revoking IBM's AIX license [wikipedia.org] for example.

Re:The Details (1)

Jeng (926980) | about 2 years ago | (#40796419)

Why isn't this criminally prosecuted for being extortion?

Nah (2)

carrier lost (222597) | about 2 years ago | (#40796127)

Should Microsoft's Amdocs Deal Worry Data Center Operators?

I wouldn't get too worried about it.

Microsoft is just trying to stay ahead of Apple, Sony, Disney and Oracle as the world's most odious hi-tech/media company.

The ball was in their court this month.

Would really like to see that patents (4, Insightful)

fmachado (89905) | about 2 years ago | (#40796153)

Does anyone still believe MS really has a patent that can affect Linux that hard? There should be tons of Unix and similar O.S. from the 70's to nuke any patent. Every supposed patent MS tries to show will get scrutinized and destroyed in no time. As long as we can see them, of course. How can your judicial system allow for a patent based suit, which includes a government granted monopoly, with the option for the plaintiff NOT disclosing the exact terms supposedly being infringed? If the company received a monopoly grant if also receives some obligations, not only rights.

The reason companies are signing patent agreements with MS is that it's painfully expensive to defend from a patent infringement suit and even more to invalidate a patent. So the cost to pay for each product is relatively small comparing to the millions spent on a trial. Look at the bill of costs from Google in Oracle vs Google: 4 million dollars on only DIRECT expenses, not counting time, bad image and so on.

This system cannot survive as it is, no new tech will ever be developed at USA (which is almost the case now), leaving USA as only leeches of other countries technology advances. If that happens, somewhere in time the other countries will stop paying USA for doing nothing, ACTA like treaties will be declared void and USA will reach a new low. No one will keep paying for rectangular shaped with round corners patents forever.

My hope is that the sanity prevails in short-to-medium time, cause it's already affecting all the economy, not only the USA. Can't you see the storm coming? This system is only making lawyers rich, the cost is growing for every one.

Flavio

Extremely rewarding (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40800507)

When you say it's PAINFULL EXPENSIVE to fight, surely you mean it's EXTREMELY REWARDING to sign!

The latest is B&N, who received $300 million inducement to switch from Android to the Windows thing, and settle the patents. Samsung received 50 million in marketing money when it settled for 50 million.

It's a scam. They don't dare sue Google yet, till they have enough fake licenses to pretend to have a valid claim. The question is, what is the deal with Amdocs? I've always assumed they were a Mossad front (ex Israeli military created it, it processes almost all of the US's telephone records, the data of who talked to whom, an incredible surveillance tool).

So there may be some hidden items to this deal that we'll never find out about.

FreeBSD is not Linux... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40796423)

It just occurred to me that FreeBSD could be an acronym for...

FUCK MICROSOFT
redmond gets no kickbacks
everyone deserves a free choice
everyone! (Even data centers!)*
Berkeley Software Distribution
Solution to the problem
Deal with it, Microsoft Motherfuckers!

* Fill in the blank here with whomever Microsoft is trying to rip off today.

Amdocs, the telecom trojan? (2)

quantic_oscillation7 (973678) | about 2 years ago | (#40796455)

How Israeli Backdoor Technology Penetrated the U.S. Government's Telecom System and Compromised National Security
An Israeli Trojan Horse
http://www.counterpunch.org/2008/09/27/an-israeli-trojan-horse/ [counterpunch.org]
.
.
.
B&N was fighting this FUD but looks like that they capitulate.... http://www.h-online.com/open/news/item/Barnes-Noble-Microsoft-deal-settles-patent-dispute-1563990.html [h-online.com]

Never sue someone big enough to defend themself (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40796965)

Is one obvious thing going on. In fact, we're not even sure which way the money flows in all these cases, due to the NDA's - some cross licensing might be going on.

But one really good reason not to sue, say, Google - masters of finding prior art, obviously (see Oracle) - is discovery. First thing a deep pockets defendant does is force access to windows source code, and go through it finding out how many patents/copyrights MS is in violation of themselves.

Yes, MS doesn't want anyone to know what patents apply - so we can't work around them. They also really don't want anyone to know how much money flows and in which direction. And they really, really, really don't want people to find out how much of (copyrighted) open source they've stolen, deliberately or accidentally, from the very people they are threatening, as it would be "game over" at that point. Due to the crazy number of patents/copyrights out there on software, it would probably be difficult to specify how many MS violates without resorting to exponential notation...

And that's why they are closed-source, period. That's some real dirty underwear they'd have to show. If Oracle thought that 9 lines of obvious code and a few headers that were part of a standard are sue-able....just think about the body of software microsoft is keeping the source hidden on.....it would be pretty huge to see it - and someone like google or redhat would be able to run it through sophisticated enough diffs to find a ton of MS violations - even if they are "innocent" of deliberate copying, since everything is already copyrighted or patented already. You can't do printf without breaking a few, much less write an opsys or a word processor.

Reading too much into this (1)

IcyHando'Death (239387) | about 2 years ago | (#40796989)

I think the posters here have read the press release (or at least the summary) exactly as Microsoft hoped they would. But there's a lot less threat to Linux in this than it may seem. The news is that Microsoft and Amdocs have signed a blanket cross-licensing agreement and Amdocs has paid some money. That's it.

Should Amdocs' cafeteria be using Microsoft-patented techniques in making their breakfast burritos, that's cool now -- It's covered in the agreement (even if it's not likely). And if Amdocs is using Microsoft-patented technology in the Linux-based servers in its data centers, that's cool too -- even if it's not likely. The fact that Microsoft takes pains to mention it in their press release is pure spin.

I.e. nothing to see here.

Goes great with skype (1)

Penurious Penguin (2687307) | about 2 years ago | (#40797047)

Amdocs, ...seems like the perfect company for Microsoft to be involved with to compliment everyone's paranoia about Skype. They (Amdocs) have an interesting history and have access to a lot of information, and perhaps other things: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6SBWJ8jaFrg [youtube.com] (part 2 of 2). But I guess this is a little off topic.

Can a license exclude this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40801695)

Add a passage to GPL to the effect that if the licensee pays a third party a fee for use of the software, it's a breach of GPL and they cannot use the software under GPL anymore. Is this legally possible?

Of course in the case at hand it's not clear if it's about Linux itself, or about some Microsoft crap that might be running on the Linux machines.

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