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Volume 2, Issue 12:  Monday, January 31, 2000

  • "Computing Continuum Conference Scheduled for March"
    ACM News Release (01/28/00)

    Intel, in association with ACM, is sponsoring the Computing Continuum Conference on March 15-17 in San Francisco. The conference will explore the defining concepts of the next era through an interactive forum that brings together visionaries from diverse segments of the field. Speakers include David Tennenhouse, Andy Berlin, Kris Pister, Greg Pottie, Raj Reddy, Pat Hanrahan, Guido van Rossum, Peter Neumann, Vern Paxson, Nadine Strossen, and Linda Roberts. The conference will use technology to facilitate the exchange of ideas and interaction of participants with speakers and panelists in the manner of smaller workshops. At the end of the conference, all presentations and sessions will be available to review via the Web.

  • "E-Commerce Report"
    New York Times (01/31/00) P. C11; Tedeschi, Bob

    Companies and individuals are increasingly realizing that email is extremely vulnerable to surveillance by server operators, corporate system administrators, and even governmental agencies. With Forrester Research predicting that Americans will send 1.5 billion emails daily by 2002, corporations are turning to various new products that encrypt and secure email messages. Tumbleweed Communications recently created a product that lets users send encrypted emails that are stored on the sender's server computer; the recipient can then access that secure server site, viewing the message on a secure Web page accessible only to them. Companies must initially pay around $500,000 to license the Tumbleweed service, and then pay between $0.3 and $.50 for every email thereafter. QVtech's Interosa service allows users to send an email message and control things such as to whom it can be forwarded and whether it can be printed, edited, or copied. An email can also be programmed to be deleted from the Interosa server on a specific date. QVtech is planning to contract with various companies such as Mailcom and MessageMedia, charging one penny for every email.

  • "Compaq Nets Some Gains in Building Web Presence"
    Investor's Business Daily (01/31/00) P. A6; Turner, Nick

    Compaq drew nearly as many visitors to its Web site over the holidays as rival Dell attracted to its site. Compaq.com averaged 522,000 visitors a day over the holidays, while Dell.com drew 582,000 visitors. Compaq's site ranked as the 22nd most visited e-commerce site, while Dell came in at No. 20. Almost matching Dell's traffic is an impressive feat for Compaq, which was late to move into online sales. Meanwhile, Dell has reached $35 million a day in online sales since its online store debuted in 1996. Compaq attributes the popularity of its site over the holiday season to increased consumer PC sales. However, Compaq does not release online sales figures, and the rise in traffic does not necessarily mean an increase in online sales. Dell says Compaq's site does not provide the direct connection with customers that Dell's site does because most Compaq systems are still sold through resellers.

  • "Regulate Thyself Warns Dash.com"
    Newsbytes (01/28/00); McGuire, David

    E-commerce portal Dash.com is lobbying other online shopping sites to give consumers access to their collected personal data in an effort to preempt FTC action on the issue. Dash.com sent its plea in a letter to the CEOs of several companies, including AOL, Time Warner, Microsoft, IBM, ExciteAtHome, and the Walt Disney Company. Businesses can alleviate consumers' privacy fears by giving them access to the personal information that has been collected about them, according to the letter. "By taking the initiative on consumer access, we can help the Internet industry avoid the kind of government oversight that some consumer groups and privacy advocates are calling for," the letter said. Jason Catlett of the privacy group Junkbusters helped Dash.com draw up its own policy that gives consumers access, and some control, over their personal data.

  • "Top Lawyers to Aid Microsoft"
    Washington Post (01/31/00) P. A5; Grimaldi, James V.

    Several former White House lawyers and attorneys general will sign a friend-of-the-court brief arguing that Microsoft did not violate federal antitrust law. The lawyers were recruited by a trade group backed by Microsoft called the Association for Competitive Technology. The group hired law firm Wilmer, Cutler & Pickering to help argue Microsoft's side in an amicus brief that will be filed tomorrow, along with three other briefs aimed at preparing for closing arguments. "We take the facts as the judge found them and on that basis will show that Microsoft hasn't violated the antitrust laws and has in fact engaged in the kind of vigorous and aggressive competition that the antitrust laws encourage," says Wilmer Cutler lawyer Michael Burack.

  • "Data Privacy Battle to Shift to States"
    Financial Times (01/28/00) P. 8; Labate, John; Waldmeir, Patti

    Upwards of a dozen states are preparing to take legislative action that would ensure the privacy of corporate-held consumer data, particularly in the financial services industry. Less than three months ago, President Clinton signed into law regulations governing the sharing of financial information. The federal legislation permits states to go above and beyond the privacy protections called for in the federal legislation by passing measures of their own. This allowance has big business worried. State protections are not needed and will only make matters more confusing, corporate concerns say. Washington and California are among a small group of states that bear watching as the state-led privacy movement heats up. New York has already introduced a new privacy bill, and a privacy measure in Washington may go on the books as soon as March. Some states will soon pass privacy laws, but federal lawmakers seem content to depend on industry-led efforts to regulate privacy for the time being, says Marc Rotenberg, executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center. Congress is expected to pass only a few privacy laws, at most, during this session.

  • "Sun Makes Play to Boost Image of Free Code"
    Investor's Business Daily (01/31/00) P. A6; Crum, Rex

    Sun recently announced that it will open the source code to its Solaris 8 operating system, slated for release in March, but experts say Solaris will not be as open as Linux. By opening the Solaris source code, Sun addresses the fact that many small and midsize businesses are deploying Linux on their servers. Sun's move aims to boost its server business and make Solaris 8 a strong rival to Microsoft's Windows 2000 as well as Linux. Last week, Sun President Ed Zander said his company will focus all of its efforts on Solaris and will never incorporate Linux into its operating systems. Many large companies are reluctant to move to Linux, and Sun hopes to capitalize on this market, analysts say. Sun also hopes to make Solaris dominate Internet appliances and their associated networks, experts say. However, while developers can modify Linux and make changes available to the entire open-source community, programmers working with Solaris must get Sun's approval before sharing changes with others. In addition, developers who license Solaris 8 need Sun's permission to distribute copies of the software outside of the licensing organization, and might have to pay royalties to do so.

  • "Conning Looks at Impact of Insurer Web Sites, Internet Models"
    PropertyandCasualty.com (01/28/00)

    The winners in the online insurance market will be sites that can instantly provide accurate quotes and maintain superior performance, according to a study by Conning & Company. Companies will not be successful online if they expect customers to visit insurance sites without incentive and use those sites only to find leads. Only 1 percent of insurance company Web sites offer interactive customer services or online sales and only 7 percent offer online quotes, according to a study by The Hartford. Only 34 percent of insurance executives have plans to create Internet products and only 23 percent believe these products will be developed, according to another Conning study. Insurers are concerned that using the Internet as a distribution method will conflict with their agent distribution system, according to Conning. Insurance companies need to begin planning and updating their Web sites in the very near future to get in on the Internet insurance market, advises Conning.

  • "Work in Progress"
    Business Week (01/31/00) 3666, P. 80; Edmondson, Gail; Fairlamb, David

    Whether Europe can develop a U.S.-style New Economy or not has become the hot subject of debate across the continent. Companies all over Europe are spending huge amounts on new information technology. In Ireland, Europe has the second largest exporter of software in the world. Ireland has also seen unemployment fall to 5.1 percent, while its gross domestic product rose 9 percent last year. Both Finland and Holland foresee 3.5 percent increases in their GDPs this year. Nokia, the most valuable company on the continent, is in Helsinki, and in Oulu, a technical university and government-backed science park has helped create a major manufacturing center with an economy that is growing 9 percent annually. The Netherlands is already a huge market for cable companies but Internet startups are now beginning to flourish as well. Belgium has 42 language software companies and a GDP that grew 3.1 percent last year. And Denmark, Norway, and Sweden are major markets for the cell phone business. Denmark is also the top maker of audio technology and hearing aids, Norway has 3.2 percent joblessness, and 80 percent of the residents of Stockholm have Internet access. Now, if only the larger European countries had similar achievements. The jobless rate in Spain is at 15.4 percent, for instance, and France and Germany continue to have high labor costs. Even so, for Paris-based consultant Christian Saint-Etienne, the crucial question does not involve whether Europe has a New Economy. "It is whether growth can be strong enough to [trigger] the kind of investment boom that the U.S. experienced," he says. So far, there are indications that European companies can seek out investors instead of commercial bankers. More than $20 billion in venture capital was raise in Europe in 1999. By issuing new equities and bonds last year, companies were able to raise $222 billion, which is 10 times more than in 1995. Moreover, the $55 billion from IPOs on Europe's markets for fast-growing stocks was three times higher than in 1998.

  • "Consultants Hone E-Biz Strategies"
    PC Week (01/24/00) Vol. 17, No. 4, P. 1; Madden, John

    Major U.S. consultancies are working to develop services that evaluate clients' e-commerce efforts. For example, Ernst & Young has spent the last year adding ASPs to its auditing service. The currently available service assesses an ASP's ability to host and manage secure applications online. ASPs will be able to use Ernst & Young's approval as a selling point to gain new customers. By 2003, the ASP market will reach an estimated $22 billion, up from today's $2 billion, experts say. Companies will increasingly turn to ASPs as they look for affordable applications, and ASP customers are primarily concerned with the security and availability of applications, says Ernst & Young partner Garth Pudwell. Beyond auditing, Ernst & Young this week plans to unveil an alliance aimed at offering a full range of ASP services through its management consulting division. Meanwhile, KPMG has rolled out a service called Saved through which it evaluates a client's e-commerce systems for three weeks and then suggests changes. Saved targets startups and traditional firms that have difficulty implementing and maintaining e-commerce systems. Other major consultancies, including Andersen, Deloitte & Touche, and PricewaterhouseCoopers are also working to expand their e-commerce services.

  • "Power Outlet"
    Executive Edge (01/00) Vol. 2, No. 1, P. 15; Ward, Judy

    Utilities have been slow to get into the marketing act in the wake of deregulation. Not so for emerging Web site entrepreneurs who are working to provide businesses and residential energy consumers with Internet access to electricity provider choices. So far, utilities have not had much to worry about when it comes to residential customers since the cost savings from switching are not usually big enough per house to be a motivating factor and since many consumers are not yet educated enough about the fact that they can switch without reducing reliability. However, online energy auction houses such as Enermetrix.com and Utility.com plan to change that; they are banking on the ease offered by Web sites when it comes to helping residential consumers switch from traditional providers, and on the huge cut in transactional costs gained by operating over the Internet. They see energy as a natural commodity since it has no differentiating characteristic and demand tends to stay at a constant level regardless of price fluctuations. Because there is so little demand elasticity in the electricity market these sorts of online services have very low margins and plan to compensate by offering extras such as Internet-controlled thermostats. Eventually, analysts predict that all utilities will have to get into online marketing. Once they do, competition will be extreme, especially to get business customers which typically provide 80 percent of energy companies' revenues. Many believe that once the competitive dust settles only a few, huge consolidated energy providers will be left standing. Online auction houses will be there waiting to help consumers make real time switches back and forth among the giant providers.

  • "From a Humble Beginning, Rises a Giant"
    Telecom Business (01/00) Vol. 4, No. 1, P. 52; Lusa, John M.

    Internet Protocol has emerged as a key technology for telecom networking. Bandwidth monitoring, quality of service, and traffic prioritization issues must be resolved before Internet telephony can become a viable option. But such issues will be resolved, according to Lucent Technologies' Jim Keeton. IP traffic will become the dominant form of user traffic and will be transmitted over carriers' ATM networks, said Dr. Frank Groom, a professor at Ball State University. Advanced IP network will become prominent in corporate applications, Keeton said. The most pressing issue is the ability to adjust according to growth, according to Tony Rybczynski of Nortel's Enterprise Solutions. He also believes that carriers should make improvements to corporate services. In order to do so, carriers must take advantage of the reliability offered by fiber-optic networks. MCI WorldCom, Qwest, PSINet, and AT&T are among the carriers seeking to benefit from IP technology.

  • "When Disaster Strikes"
    Network Magazine (01/00) Vol. 15, No. 1, P. 44; Hurwicz, Michael

    Disaster recovery (DR) efforts can allow businesses to minimize data loss in the face of a natural disaster. As IT assets are increasingly deployed in more distributed environments, DR becomes an increasingly difficult task for modern information-laden firms. Fred Joy of the META Group says that of the large companies that decide to outsource their DR needs, 90 percent turn to IBM, Comdisco Continuity Services, or SunGard Recovery Services because, as larger firms, they have the resources to support distributed environments. The first steps for any firm contemplating its DR plans are to inventory all of its IT resources, analyze how those resources will be affected by various disasters, and determine acceptable recovery windows for every aspect of the enterprise's IT system.

  • "E-Business Busters"
    Entrepreneur (01/00) Vol. 28, No. 1, P. 46; Campanelli, Melissa

    Although there is little remaining doubt that the Internet offers significant opportunities to small businesses, many are unaware that a successful e-business venture requires careful planning. Sources such as magazines and product literature often perpetuate the myth that e-business is easy, quick, and cheap. Although a basic page can be set up in no time and at a low cost, a professional Web site can cost anywhere from $10,000 to the six-figure range, while design and deployment can take several months. "You have a whole new spread of things to think about, such as how you're going to take orders, track inventory and fulfill orders," says Forrester Research analyst Charles Rutstein. Businesses should consult a Web advertising firm and a Web engineering company to make the most of their e-business investment, recommends Patricia Seybold Group analyst Martha Frey. Once a site is launched, further planning is necessary to ensure that it will attract an audience. Often, online retailers spend considerably more on advertising and promotion than brick-and-mortar shops. Experts recommend that companies invest in data analysis tools and targeted email campaigns to direct their products to the most receptive audience possible. Certain types of advertising are particularly important for small businesses. One method is to place a keyword banner ad on Yahoo!'s Internet directory. This service, which costs about $1,000 per month, causes an ad to pop up on the search page each time the company name is typed into the search engine. Also important are banner ads, particularly check-out banners, which are triggered when a consumer has ordered a product similar to those offered by the advertiser. An oft-overlooked yet extremely important aspect of e-business is privacy, which can be easily implemented by posting a basic statement to notify the audience that their personal information will not be sold to third parties.

  • "Hybrid Networks Offer New Options"
    InformationWeek (01/24/00) No. 770, P. 99; Sweeney, Terry

    Hybrid networks that combine ATM and frame relay are growing as carriers respond to customer demand for flexible, low-cost bandwidth. With hybrid networks customers can decide where to use frame relay and where to use ATM, with protocol conversion devices transferring traffic between the two technologies. Customers might use frame relay on remote sites with slower, low-priority traffic, while using ATM at business data centers with higher speed traffic that needs to be prioritized. In the past carriers preferred not to mix frame relay and ATM because the integration would complicate billing and management. However, over the past two years the industry has developed specifications that provide compatibility among frames, cells, and IP packets. Meanwhile, carriers have integrated frame and ATM networks as well as related billing and back-end systems. Customers are receptive to integrated access because it allows them to cut costs by applying the more expensive ATM protocol only where it is needed. Hybrid networks provide more scalability than frame relay networks, and allow users to prioritize traffic. However, migrating to a hybrid network requires an integrated access device at the remote site to manage conversion, which costs customers between $5,000 and $10,000 if the carrier does not provide the device. Another factor that has enabled hybrid networks is the availability of cost-effective access lines directly from long-distance carriers. In the past, long-distance firms such as AT&T, MCI, and Sprint did not have local-access facilities, and customers had to pay local providers high rates for leased lines.

  • "Congress' IT Agenda Tackles Privacy, Visas"
    Computerworld (01/24/00) Vol. 34, No. 4, P. 8; Thibodeau, Patrick

    Several important developments affecting the technology sector are expected in Congress this year relating diverse issues such as consumer privacy, foreign employee visas, and trade with China. Many members of Congress are feeling pressure from their constituents to impose new regulations protecting privacy on the Internet, which could lead to hassles for Web site operators. Sens. Conrad Burns (R-Mont.) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) will submit a bill that would establish a means for Web users to opt out of data mining and sharing. John Palafoutas of the American Electronics Association stressed that consumers' privacy concerns are not going away and that technology companies need to begin making changes on their own in order to avoid onerous federal regulation. Another important issue Congress will address is the H-1B annual visa program cap. Technology companies, strapped for skilled workers, want the limit raised from 115,000 visas each year to 200,000; the industry has allies in Congress who will fight to have the cap pushed up. Congress also will consider Clinton administration plans to further lower trade barriers against China, which could prove a boon to technology companies eager to gain access to the massive Chinese market.

  • "A World With No Limits"
    InfoWorld (01/24/00) Vol. 22., No. 4, P. 38; Leon, Mark

    The ASP trend is moving IT functions outside of corporate limits, freeing IT professionals from enterprise boundaries as well. "We call [ASP] the reinvention of IS architectures," says Wohl Associates' Amy Wohl. "Instead of being built inside the company, they will be built outside and accessed from the inside." Companies are increasingly willing to relinquish control of critical applications, as they need to complete implementations quickly and address e-commerce while also dealing with a shortage of skilled IT workers. Many vendors are moving into the ASP market, each with a different concept of what it means to be an ASP. Enterprise Applications Consulting's Joshua Greenbaum says the four full-service ASPs now include USi, Oracle, Qwest CyberSolutions, and Interliant. USi offers a mix of best-of-breed applications from different vendors that run on USi data centers and are managed by USi staff. By contrast, Oracle owns all of its own applications but contracts its data centers out to Exodus. Meanwhile, Qwest CyberSolutions provides SAP, Siebel, and Oracle applications, and Interliant offers CRM software from Pivotal and Onyx. Whatever approach ASPs take, they represent impending changes in IT departments as their popularity grows. ASPs are not likely to take away job opportunities for corporate IT workers, but many of these professionals might eventually work for ASPs instead of ASPs' clients.

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