by CIO Staff

The Week’s Top IT News Stories: Microsoft and Oracle play catch-up

Nov 04, 20055 mins
Data Management

1. Microsoft Plays Catch-Up on Services, PC World, 11/3.

Microsoft made its usual hoopla over a new strategy this week, with Bill Gates characterizing Live Software as a revolution in how to view applications. But when you strip away the hype, Microsoft’s latest take on software as a service is more about catching up with other players in the market like Google and Yahoo.

2. Oracle Readies Free Database, PC World, 11/1.

If you can’t beat them, join them. Recognizing the inroads open-source players like MySQL are making into the low end of the database market, Oracle is readying a free version of its database, 10g Express, to run on 32-bit Windows and Linux operating system. Microsoft is about to release a low-end free database SQL Server Express.

3. What’s Wrong with Dell?, InfoWorld, 11/1.

Missing a quarterly revenue target once could perhaps be counted a blip, but twice in row? Clearly all’s not well with Dell with both its U.S. consumer business and its entire U.K. operations performing below par. Additionally, the company plans to take a $450 million charge to lay off staff, write down excess inventory and replace faulty capacitors in its OptiPlex desktops. The full gory picture will appear next week when Dell releases its third-quarter financials.

4. Mercury CEO, CFO Resign in Accounting Probe Wake, InfoWorld, 11/2.

It shouldn’t happen anymore, should it? But here we go again, another accounting scandal, this time at software vendor Mercury Interactive. A special committee of Mercury board members discovered that over a 10-year period the company incorrectly reported the date of at least 49 stock-option grants to the personal benefit of Mercury’s CEO, CFO and general counsel. The trio of executives has each resigned. Mercury will now have to restate several years of financial filings. Analysts believe the company is likely to be acquired.

5. Microsoft Moves to Add VoIP to OfficeComputerworld, 11/3.

Microsoft is planning to add voice-over-Internet protocol to its Office suite of applications thanks to the acquisition of Swiss software firm Over the course of this year, Microsoft has been moving to more fully embrace VoIP through a combination of deals with the likes of AT&T and Qwest as well as the August purchase of Teleo, a developer of services and technology to facilitate Internet telephony.

6. Group Suggests a ’Denationalization’ of ICANN, InfoWorld, 11/3.

The main focus of the upcoming World Summit on the Information Society due to kick off Nov. 16 in Tunis will center on who should control the Internet. A group of international academics this week circulated a policy-concept paper suggesting how to share out oversight of the Net between the governments of the world instead of the current situation where the United States has sole political oversight through the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). U.S. companies and government officials oppose the suggestion claiming an international Net governing body would both slow innovation and limit online choices.

7. Offshore Outsourcing Creates Jobs, InfoWorld, 11/2.

Another study creating waves this week from economic analyst Global Insight posited that offshore outsourcing is making a positive contribution to the U.S. economy by lowering production costs for IT vendors and product costs for their customers as well as helping to keep the rate of inflation low. Organizations representing U.S. IT workers immediately disputed the findings, claiming the study didn’t take into account concerns over national security and future U.S.-based IT innovation.

8. Novell Details Layoffs, Restructuring Plans, Computerworld, 11/2.

One day after Novell introduced its new president and COO Ron Hovespian, the software company announced plans to lay off around 10 percent of its staff as part of a cost-cutting exercise to save over $110 million per year. Under pressure from its shareholders, Novell will focus on its Linux, identity and resource management businesses and is already in talks to sell off its Celerant consulting business. There’s some speculation that Hovespian may replace Novell Chairman and CEO Jack Messman who’s endured the brunt of shareholders’ ire over the company’s recent poor financial performance.

9. Symantec: From Stumble to Stagger?, BusinessWeek, 11/3.

Analysts who’d questioned the wisdom of Symantec’s $13.5 billion acquisition of data storage firm Veritas earlier this year, saw more cause for concern in relation to the security software vendor this week. Symantec’s financial results and future predictions weren’t too rosy and the company’s CFO suddenly quit. Trying to integrate Veritas into its business has proved disruptive both to the company’s product release cycle as well as diluting its focus from the security software market which it has dominated.

10. Deleted but Not Gone, The New York Times, 11/3.

Looking at computer security, people are tending to get caught up in making sure they deploy spyware and encryption, but they’re forgetting one basic loophole–ensuring that once they delete data that it’s really, truly destroyed and can’t be retrieved. There are a number of ways to securely eliminate data from storage media by using programs that overwrite files and entire hard disks with meaningless characters so the deleted information can’t be retrieved. There are also physical shredding devices to pulverize CDs and DVDs. If all else fails, take a hammer to your hard disk.

–China Martens