ACM TechNews is published every week on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.
ACM TechNews is intended as an objective news digest for busy IT Professionals. Views expressed are not necessarily those of either Gateway Inc. or ACM.
To send comments, please write to email@example.com.
Volume 2, Issue 4: Monday, January 10, 2000
- "AOL, Time Warner Merge in $350 Billion Deal"
C|Net (01/10/00); Junnarkar, Sandeep
AOL and Time Warner have announced a merger of colossal proportions, with the two companies combining to become AOL Time Warner in a $350 billion deal. The combination of AOL's online services with Time Warner's media and cable operations will provide the new entity with vast resources. AOL Chairman and CEO Steve Case will become chairman of AOL Time Warner, while Time Warner Chairman and CEO Gerald Levin will become CEO of the new company. Time Warner's vice chairman, Ted Turner, will hold the position of vice chairman at AOL Time Warner. AOL President and COO Bob Pittman and Time Warner President Richard Parsons will share chief operating officer duties at the new company. AOL shareholders will own about 55 percent of AOL Time Warner, with Time Warner shareholders owning the rest. AOL shareholders will convert their shares of AOL stock to AOL Time Warner stock on a one-for-one basis, while each share of Time Warner stock will be traded in for 1.5 shares of AOL Time Warner stock. The merger is expected to be finalized by the end of the year.
- "Xilinx Makes a Chip for All Seasons"
San Francisco Chronicle (01/09/00); Norr, Henry
Chipmaker Xilinx today plans to launch a new line of programmable chips called Spartan II that will let consumers upgrade digital devices without having to buy new hardware. Manufacturers will be able to provide software updates for consumers to download over the Internet to give Spartan II-based devices new features. Xilinx is a pioneer in field programmable gate arrays (FPGAs), which allow chips to be modified at any time. In the past, FPGAs have been costly and therefore have primarily gone into expensive, low-volume products such as mainframe storage devices and networking equipment. However, the Spartan II chips will be priced as low as $10 each in bulk, allowing Xilinx to reach a much larger market. New devices that will run on the Spartan II include DVD players, cell phones, high-definition TVs, audio equipment, and both cable and DSL modems, says Xilinx's Mike Seither.
- "IBM, Motorola to Speed Interactive Technology Into Vehicles"
IBM and Motorola have partnered to equip cars with Internet access, navigation, email, and emergency assistance capabilities. The companies plan to team with automobile manufacturers and parts companies to develop systems that connect to 24-hour service centers using IBM computers and infrastructure. "This is a very large opportunity because we believe that the vehicle is no longer an island of isolation from the outside world," says IBM's Raj Desai. The IBM-Motorola initiative is similar to recent efforts by automobile firms to ease navigation using in-vehicle navigation systems, cell phones, Internet access, and emergency roadside help. Yet IBM and Motorola maintain that their plan is more far-reaching than existing initiatives, because it incorporates real-time data such as traffic and weather.
Click Here to View Full Article
- "Security, Privacy Issues Make Net Users Uneasy"
C|Net (01/07/00); Sandoval, Greg; Wolverton, Troy
A number of recent examples highlight the continued importance of privacy and security in the online world. A consumer, Joel D. Newby, is suing Amazon.com's Alexa Internet unit for allegedly failing to inform Newby that his personal information was being collected while he used Alexa's software. Newby is not the first to take offense at the software. Last month security expert Richard M. Smith lodged a complaint with the FTC, alleging that Alexa's software broke privacy laws. Meanwhile, ReverseAuction.com recently made news for agreeing to settle an FTC complaint that it mislead eBay users in a mass mailing of spam. Likewise, Northwest Airlines was recently in the headlines because of the discovery of a hole in the company's Web site that jeopardized customers' personal information. A recent study from Forrester Research shows that half of online consumers favor government regulation of online privacy. Online retailers lost $2.8 billion last year due to consumer privacy worries, according to Forrester's findings. Andrew Shen of the Electronic Privacy Information Center called on federal agencies to crack down on privacy abuses and enforce privacy laws, noting that industry self-regulation is not working. The FTC's settlement with ReverseAuction amounts to a mere "slap on the wrist," Shen says.
- "IBM to Roll Out Weblet Technology"
Computer Reseller News Online (01/06/00); Moltzen, Edward F.
- "New Products, Different Names"
Edmonton Sun (01/05/00) P. 43; Michetti, Greg
A range of new technologies and devices are in store for this year, says the Edmonton Sun's Greg Michetti. Among the most highly anticipated technologies for the year 2000 is Bluetooth, which provides wireless communication between various handheld devices, including personal digital assistants, notebook computers, and pagers. Bluetooth has gained strong support from major industry players such as IBM, Hewlett-Packard, Motorola, and Ericsson. Also this year, manufacturers will be redesigning computers by making notebooks smaller and more portable and making flat panel monitors an affordable choice for desktop systems, says Michetti. Meanwhile, DVD-ROMs will come into vogue as data storage requirements rise, while rented software from application service providers will gain momentum, according to Michetti.
- "A Y2K Glitch for Lawyers: Few Lawsuits"
Washington Post (01/10/00) P. A1; Segal, David
Many lawyers in the U.S. were prepared to capitalize on Y2K-related lawsuits, but the number of suits filed so far is significantly lower than had been expected. Some experts predicted that Y2K litigation would amount to $500 billion, with companies suing for lost earnings and other suits. Alarmed by these predictions, software manufacturers and other companies worked to ensure that systems were Y2K compliant. Of the few suits that have been filed, most involve companies trying to recover the expense of software upgrades. About 70 companies, including Xerox and Nike, have sued insurers for upgrade costs, and the number of suits could increase in coming weeks as companies face exorbitant upgrade bills. Still, Y2K litigation is limited by the Y2K Act passed by Congress in July, as well as the media attention given to Y2K, which could lead courts to believe that plaintiffs were well aware of Y2K risks. Lawyers now say they deserve some credit for the smooth rollover because the threat of lawsuits spurred many companies to fix software before the date change. Meanwhile, lawyers say Y2K is not yet over, and that suits could still be filed over the next several months.
- "Online Healthcare Expected to Reach $370B by 2004"
E-Commerce Times (01/04/00); Dembeck, Chet
Internet-based health care business will total $370 billion by 2004, predicts Forrester Research, largely driven by business-to-business transactions. Based on a survey of 71 health care firms, Forrester said that by 2004, 8 percent of retail health care business will take place on the Internet, totaling $22 billion. Prescription drugs sales will account for $15 billion, $3.3 billion will be made up of natural health products, over-the-counter drug online sales will reach $1.9 billion, and health-and-beauty products will total $900 million. However, online business-to-business transactions will be the driving force behind the Internet health care sector, according to Forrester. Business-to-business sales will reach $348 billion by 2004, or 17 percent of total business-to-business transactions. Forrester projects that 24 percent of hospital procurement and 12 percent of private practice procurement will be performed online.
- "Promise of a New Year"
InformationWeek (01/03/00) No. 767, P. 22
Several products will be released in the first half of this year that will boost e-business by improving communications among applications and making it easier for companies to share data internally and externally. For example, Microsoft's Windows 2000, scheduled for release Feb. 17, will enable users to add more servers to an application and to handle more CPUs within each server. Windows 2000 Advanced Server edition is designed for e-commerce applications, and integrates load balancing across 32 nodes. In the middle of 2000, Microsoft plans to release its AppCenter Server for component load balancing, which experts say will make Windows 2000 better able to run e-business applications. Microsoft will also release its Exchange 2000 Server by midyear, which will deliver data to workers and partners using a Web browser. Oracle will compete with Microsoft in the database market, shipping Oracle8i 2 in the first quarter. The new version of Oracle's database is expected to have built-in analytical capabilities that require an analytical-processing server, support for Java standards, and an XML parser. Also during the first half of 2000, database vendors will release data and integration products aimed at facilitating a company's ability to find and share dispersed information. Oracle, for example, will release its Oracle Integration Server, while IBM will ship a content-management server. E-commerce vendor BroadVision will offer better integration between its One-to-One Web personalization system and third-party applications. Meanwhile, Siebel will add BroadVision's Web personalization technology to its Siebel 2000 CRM suite, slated to ship at the end of the first quarter. Enterprise application vendors will also focus on tighter integration, and Oracle will release its Oracle Applications 11i that will connect front and back offices by combining CRM, ERP, supply-chain, and e-business applications into a single suite.
- "XML Eases Network Monitoring"
PC Week (01/03/00) Vol. 17, No. 1, P. 1; Musich, Paula
Many enterprise management system vendors, including Microsoft, Cisco Systems, Tivoli Systems, and others are working to integrate XML into their applications, and within the next six months these vendors will have products that support XML using the distributed management task force (DMTF) specification using the common information model (CIM). Firms such as Tivoli, Microsoft, and Cisco Systems believe incorporating XML into system management suites will enable superior communication and data integration between disparate sources, increase flexibility in creating links between management applications and managed objects, and enabling management applications from different vendors to interoperate. Tivoli Systems, for example, will make XML a central component of its Tivoli Management Framework by the end of the year. Its CrossSite e-commerce management suite already incorporates XML to improve communication between management agents and servers. Microsoft will add XML/CIM support to Windows 2000 via an add-on that will make it possible to manage Windows 2000 from any system. Cisco's Works 2000 Service Level Manager suite, due this quarter, will use XML to provide third-party vendors with a means to create service-level agreement contracts within Cisco-based infrastructures.
- "Trouble Ahead for Cable Modems"
ZDNet (01/05/00); Strother, Neil
Cable modems' sales growth is about to see a substantial slowdown, predicts Cahners In-Stat Group in a new report that notes that the unit sales growth rate dropped from 478 percent in 1998 to 171 percent the following year. The report expects the compound annual growth rate between this year and 2004 to drop to 9 percent, due largely to DSL and other competing broadband services. More set-top boxes and voice and residential gateways will also reduce standalone cable modem sales. The report also said subscriptions to cable TV are growing relatively slowly and that cable broadband services are expensive, especially where consumers must pay hourly Internet rates. In some places and countries, broadband services through the phone lines are preferred, particularly where the cable infrastructure is owned by a national telephone company. Also, some countries have many small cable companies without the ability to bring broadband cable service to the market. Motorola still had the top market share in 1999's first half, with 33 percent, and Nortel Networks remains the runner-up with 18 percent.
- "Portals Push for New Revenue"
PC Week (01/03/00) Vol. 17, No. 1, P. 19; Du Bois, Grant
Many portals and e-business sites lost money last year, after realizing advertising revenue is not enough to generate profits. Walt Disney's Go.com lost $1 billion, as portals found increasingly harsh competition for visitors. Each portal is trying new ways to attract users and earn revenue. Microsoft's MSN.com signed a deal with Simon Property Group to sell Internet access to mall shoppers, offering gift certificates for use at Simon malls. Another strategy among portals is to distribute Web content on cellular phones and personal digital assistants. Increasing numbers of merchants are listing their businesses on portals as well. Forrester Research analyst Chris Carron says, "Portals realized that stickiness and reach aren't enough. They need to move to e-commerce to develop stronger, more stable revenue streams."
- "IT Officials Weigh Software Security Standards"
Federal Times (01/10/00) Vol. 35, No. 49, P. 1; Trimble, Stephen
Federal agencies might soon adopt a higher standard for software security as a result of a proposal from Richard Guida, security official for the interagency Government Information Technology Services Board. The proposal calls for higher federal standards for software products that are vulnerable to common forms of attack. Guida plans to establish uniform government guidelines, and the proposal is now being evaluated by the Computer Systems Security and Privacy Advisory Board, an independent group that deals with government and technology policy. Agencies could include the guidelines in software contracts or require software vendors to provide a warranty against the most common types of attacks, Guida says. Common forms of attack, such as buffer overflow, could easily be prevented if vendors added specific programming code, Guida says. However, extra programming code could damage software performance and raise prices, Guida says. The proposal calls for meetings with vendors such as Microsoft, and Guida says he will abandon the guidelines if vendors voluntarily agree to make products conform to certain security standards. The proposal also calls for agencies to centrally manage software patches offered by vendors, since few agencies keep track of available patches.
- "The Holy Grail: Wider Pipes"
Internet World (01/01/00) Vol. 6, No. 1, P. 47; Strom, David
Although intelligent routers and switches will improve network performance, they will not be sufficient for Web services that need round-the-clock uptime. Redundant components are being added to the mix, allowing servers to maintain their links if a failure occurs with a component. F5 Networks' Big IP is one of several products deployed in pairs for dependable support of Web servers. Such devices even offer built-in redundancy. Content service providers co-locate their clients' Web servers to their various data centers, bringing content closer to the user and improving performance. Performance may be improved even further when switching gear is combined with such service providers. Several suppliers provide Internet switches or content distribution services. Intel, Lucent, and Cisco are among the vendors investing in Web switching. Some upstart vendors are even offering speeds of over 100 Mbps Ethernet by using optical network protocols and terabit throughput technologies.
- "Consulting's Next Big Thing"
Computerworld (01/03/00) Vol. 34, No. 1, P. 94; Fryer, Bronwyn
With Y2K no longer dominating consulting services, several new areas are gaining prominence within the field, according to a recent Computerworld study. The field of consulting is changing rapidly, as new technology needs and business trends such as globalization, mergers and acquisitions, and joint ventures drive the need for experienced consultants with broad knowledge bases. After interviewing a variety of recruiting firms, IT hiring managers, industry analysts, and consultants, Computerworld identified several subject areas that will most likely be prominent in consulting for the next few years. Among these areas of expertise are customer relationship management (CRM) and online procurement, a subcategory of enterprise resource planning. Increased interest in CRM and online procurement will most likely spur a greater focus on data warehousing and data management, network integration, security, and Linux. Also important among consultants will be knowledge management and business intelligence, according to Computerworld. Meanwhile, business intelligence will be a lucrative field for those consultants with expertise in a specific industry, such as finance, communications, or health care.
- "Rebalancing Acts"
CIO (01/01/00) Vol. 13, No. 6, P. 182; Kappelman, Leon A.
The IT industry, particularly in the area of software, allows vendors too much control over customers, and CIOs should strive to bring vendors and customers together to even out the balance of power. Software currently lacks quality, consistency, and simplicity, and vendors have little motivation to improve this situation because they believe they can profit by making it difficult for consumers to switch products. Meanwhile, customers seem to be doing little to demand greater control over the products they buy. Still, the industry needs to improve over time because of the large amount of waste encountered in software projects, for example, which have a total failure rate of over 25 percent. CIOs should assume responsibility for changing the industry by focusing on improving relationships between customers and vendors. In addition, CIOs should stop setting short-term technology goals that result in frequently buying and getting rid of technology. However, customers should also change their behavior by managing IT as they would any other asset and being more careful about IT decisions, projects, and practices.
- "Certification: Is It Worth Your Time?"
Datamation (12/99); Martinez, Anne
IT professionals, and by extension their employers and customers, benefit when they seek out and obtain certification from reputable and recognizable organizations. Vendors understand that through certification programs professionals gain familiarity with the vendors' respective products. Furthermore, customers are often more confident in the service they receive when they are working with certified technicians. It pays to be certified. A 1998 Lotus Development survey of Certified Lotus Professionals found that their salaries rose an average 30 percent, from $54,000 to $70,000, within six months of obtaining certification. The survey also revealed that certified Lotus/IBM Business Partners are able raise the median fees they charge from roughly $80 to $100 per hour within six months of certification.