Stories by Network World staff

Akamai buys Nine Systems

Akamai Technologies plans to acquire Nine Systems in a deal valued at about US$160 million (NZ$239 million).

Quantum cryptography tested

Researchers at North-western University in Chicago have joined forces with BBN Technologies to demonstrate what they are calling the first truly quantum cryptographic data network.

Magnetic-powered chips explored in research project

A group of European researchers are working to develop silicon chips that forego wires and carry electric currents, an advance they say could lead to computers that run up to 500 times faster than today’s models.

MS Commerce Server 2007 nears completion

Microsoft has released a near-final version of its software for building e-commerce sites and renamed the product Commerce Server 2007, from Commerce Server 2006.

Help desks gear up for Windows XP SP2

The major changes to Windows XP brought by Service Pack 2 -- due this quarter -- are bound to cause support headaches. Analysts, users, PC makers and Microsoft Corp. all expect a spike in help desk calls. The service pack automatically will be downloaded into many PCs through Microsoft's Windows Update service and could create problems, including breaking current applications, disrupting network setups and prompting nontechnical users to make PC configuration decisions that might be beyond their grasp. Microsoft will offer free, worldwide telephone support for the service pack. Microsoft is returning to its policy to provide free support for service packs after leaving support for Windows XP SP1 to the PC makers. Nevertheless, Hewlett-Packard Co., Dell Inc. and Gateway Inc. also are gearing up for the release of SP2 and will support their customers, spokespeople for the PC makers say.

Gates: Progress being made against spam

Customers of Microsoft Corp.'s Hotmail service play an integral part in the company's fight against junk e-mail, Chairman and Chief Software Architect Bill Gates said in an open letter last week. He also dismissed the idea of generating revenue from spammers by imposing a charge for sending e-mail. "Monetary charges would be inappropriate and contrary to the fundamental purpose of the Internet as an extremely efficient and inexpensive medium for communications," he wrote. The letter, entitled "Preserving and Enhancing the Benefits of Email - A Progress Report," reviewed the company's work and outlined future plans in the fields of filtering, sender authentication and other preventive measures, and collaboration with regulators and law enforcement officials. Spamming is becoming more difficult and less lucrative, Gates said. For Microsoft customers, the situation is improving thanks to the introduction of Microsoft's SmartScreen spam filter, which it deployed on its Hotmail Web-based e-mail service six months ago, he wrote in the e-mail.

Government: Offshoring caused 2 percent of layoffs Q1

Despite the growing concern over the number of IT jobs being shunted overseas, a new report by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics says that just 2 percent of layoffs in the first quarter were the result of offshoring.

PeopleSoft rejects Oracle's bid, again

PeopleSoft's board of directors last week rejected Oracle's latest unsolicited offer to buy the company. PeopleSoft also announced that it has settled a number of class action suits filed against it in connection with Oracle's bid. Oracle's latest offer, made earlier this month, was $US21 per share, or approximately $7.7 billion. It was $5 per share lower than Oracle's previous offer of $9.4 billion, and like Oracle's three previous offers, it was flatly rejected by the PeopleSoft board. Separately, PeopleSoft announced that it had signed a memorandum of understanding to settle class action lawsuits filed in Delaware and California by PeopleSoft stockholders unhappy with the company's Customer Assurance Program. Created after Oracle launched its hostile takeover campaign, the program offered to pay PeopleSoft customers refunds for their software licenses if PeopleSoft's products were discontinued.

Outsourcing spending, services offered to increase

Spending on business-process outsourcing services will continue to increase in coming years, but so will clients' expectations for the quality and breadth of vendors' offerings, according to an IDC study released last week. Worldwide spending on BPO services reached US$405 billion in 2003, an increase of about 8 percent from 2002. Revenues are expected to grow at a compound annual rate of 11 percent through 2008, when they will total $682.5 billion, according to IDC. In a BPO engagement, a company hands over an entire business process or function to an external services provider. This contrasts with traditional IT outsourcing engagements, which involve the transfer of an IT task or process. Fueling the demand for BPO services are companies' desire to reduce costs, focus on their core business, obtain new expertise, and increase efficiency and productivity, IDC said.

Gartner: Internet 'phishing attacks' on the rise

A new Gartner Inc. study found that the number of online scams known as "phishing attacks" have spiked in the last year and that online users are frequently tricked into divulging sensitive information to criminals. The study, which ended in April, surveyed 5,000 adult Internet users and found that about 3 percent reported giving up financial or personal information after being drawn into a phishing scam, which uses e-mail messages and Web pages designed to look like correspondence from legitimate online businesses. The results suggest that as many as 30 million adults have experienced a phishing attack and that 1.78 million could have fallen victim to the scams, Gartner said. ISPs need to address the phishing problem to prevent the Internet and e-mail from being discredited as media for customer transactions, Gartner said.