Top 10 IT News Stories of the Week

1. "Cisco Acquiring WebEx for $3.2B,”

CIO.com, March 15

In a week full of mergers and acquisition news, Cisco’s latest stood out. The company plans to buy online collaboration service WebEx for $3.2 billion, with the aim of getting into the hot software-as-a-service market. The deal, expected to close in the fourth quarter, will give Cisco access to small and midsize companies that use WebEx and also will give Microsoft’s Live Meeting collaboration service another competitor. It marks Cisco’s first foray into hosted applications service provider terrain.

2. "IBM Ups Its BI Ante with Third-Generation Strategy,"

Computerworld, March 13

IBM is taking a new tack in business intelligence. Analysis of data stored in its data warehouse will be part of a business process under the "dynamic warehousing" strategy. That move was announced along with word of a new version of the DB2 Warehouse, which is a data analysis tool and data warehouse appliances for the small and midsize business market. The strategy is being termed "third generation" by IBM, which says query and reporting was the first and online analytical processing was the second. DB2 Warehouse is expected to be available by the end of the month.

3. "Intel Committed to Smaller, Energy-Efficient Chips,"

CIO.com, March 15

Intel expects to decrease the size and power consumption of mobile microprocessors by next year, with chips that consume 10 percent of the power of those on the market last year. The future microprocessors will be 85 percent smaller than their predecessors of last year, according to Christian Morales, the vice president and general manager of Intel’s operations in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Advances in process technology will lead to most of the improvements as Intel moves to the more advanced 65-nanometer process, compared to the 90-nanometer process it used last year to produce most of its chips. The company will soon produce chips using 45-nanometer process technology. Smaller chip sizes allow for more of them to be produced on one silicon wafer, which drops costs, along with leading to better performance and less power consumption.

4. "Launch of Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5 Renews OS Debate,"

CIO.com, March 14

Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5, or RHEL5, with built-in virtualization capabilities from the Xen project, was released this week. Customers have been waiting for the update, though Novell’s Suse Linux Enterprise Server 10 already offers built-in virtualization. RHEL5 costs the same as the previous version, which also ought to make customers happy. The new OS has features designed to make it easier to manage virtualized environments, as well as more streamlined customer support. The company is creating the Red Hat Cooperative Resolution Center, which is meant to help customers deal with problems they’re having no matter which software is causing the headaches. And the company is going to launch Red Hat Exchange to offer pre-integrated business application software stacks, though a launch date for that hasn’t been set. 

5. "IBM Launches First Public Beta of Notes/Domino 8,"

Network World, March 14

IBM/Lotus released the first public beta for Notes/Domino 8, which is expected to ship in the middle of the year. The Notes 8 client and Domino 8 server are central to IBM’s unified communications strategy, with the client providing front-end presence and document management tools integration along with Lotus Connections, the company’s social networking software. Notes 8 was introduced to users at the Lotusphere conference in January. It will be the first Notes-managed client built on Lotus Expeditor and Eclipse, allowing Notes 8 to act as a client for XML-based services, composite applications combining services and those that incorporate XML-based interfaces.

6. "Ballmer Talks Up CRM Live,"

InfoWorld, March 15

Steve Ballmer generally seems like a pretty excitable guy, but he was particularly energized when he demonstrated Dynamics CRM Live, Microsoft’s hosted customer relationship management software. "I’m really pumped up," he told the crowd at Microsoft’s Convergence show in San Diego. CRM Live will be one of three deployment options in the "Titan" release of the company’s CRM software. Titan is the first of Microsoft’s CRM products based on multitenant architecture, so a single code base supports CRM Live, an on-premise version of its CRM application and a partner-hosted version. CRM Live will be part of Microsoft’s growing stable of the Live software-as-a-service family, along with Windows Live and Office Live.

7. "Microsoft to Offer ‘MySpace’ for Business Apps Users,"

PC World, March 12

Microsoft is taking the MySpace concept to business users, introducing the first in an expected series of online communities for its Dynamics applications users. The idea is to offer forums where users can exchange best practices and other ideas, with the communities formed around specific industries of job titles. The first is for finance professionals such as corporate accountants, controllers and finance managers. More communities are expected to go online before the year ends.

8. "Software Job Growth Shifts,"

PC World, March 14

More software developer jobs will be created in Asia than in North America in the next three years, according to research from Evans Data. The percentage of such jobs in the Asia-Pacific region will climb to nearly 45 percent of such jobs globally, up from 37 percent today, while Europe, the Middle East and Africa will have a slip from 35 percent now to 30 percent by 2010. North America will hold 18 percent of such jobs by then, down from 23 percent. Overall, the number of software developer jobs will rise to 19.5 million from 14.5 million this year. Ajax developers will still find plenty of jobs in the United States, and development of new applications will continue to be done in the country. But computer science faculty are noting enrollment declines, leading IBM to urge schools to push software development as a career.

9. "Microsoft to Buy Tellme to Enhance Voice Services,"

InfoWorld, March 14

To boost its voice services portfolio and add speech recognition to software and online services, Microsoft is buying Tellme Networks. The deal had been rumored, but was confirmed this week, without financial details. Tellme offers a VoiceXML-based voice-recognition platform for directory assistance and also has mobile search services. Microsoft said it plans to keep on privately owned Tellme’s 320 employees, who will keep working from the company’s current headquarters in Mountain View, Calif., and become part of Microsoft’s business division.

10. "Charges Against Former HP Chairwoman Dunn Dropped,"

CIO.com, 03/14

HP moved closer to putting the pretexting scandal behind it this week when a judge dismissed criminal charges against former Chairwoman Patricia Dunn. The court also refused to accept no-contest pleas on misdemeanor charges of fraudulent wire communications against three other defendants, but said charges will be dropped if they complete 96 hours of community service and pay restitution to victims. They were accused of obtaining telephone records of journalists and others on false pretenses—the practice known as "pretexting"—at the behest of the HP board of directors. The scandal has led to calls for tougher legislation against pretexting and similar activity and has garnered wide attention otherwise. But it hasn’t seemed to hurt HP’s business.

-Nancy Weil, IDG News Service

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