IN ORBIT: World Wide Wire

IN ORBIT: World Wide Wire

IBM puts increased focus on IT security

IBM has announced a series of steps aimed at expanding its presence in the IT security market in response to an increased demand for such services after the September 11 terrorist attacks.

Big Blue is increasing the number of security and data privacy services it offers and creating a new security office, which will identify emerging trends and coordinate technology development.

Expanded offerings under the new initiative include virtual private networking and authentication services, as well as secure content delivery and mobile connectivity programs. The company will be focusing more on intrusion detection, vulnerability assessments and managed firewall services for hosted applications. And while many of those capabilities have already been available from various groups within IBM Global Services, analysts believe the company is trying to pull everything together under a more coordinated security services portfolio.

Grid computing gets push from server vendorsGrid computing, which had already caught the attention of IBM and Sun Microsystems, is now being targeted by another major hardware vendor, Compaq.

The three server rivals last month separately announced developments related to grid computing, in which groups of computers in different locations are harnessed together to provide large amounts of processing power for scientific research applications and other data-intensive uses.

Compaq said it's getting into the grid arena through a deal that will combine its AlphaServer Unix systems and Linux-based versions of its ProLiant servers with technology being developed by US-based Platform Computing.

Compaq will sell, install and support Platform's grid technology, which is expected to include a commercialised version of an open-source toolkit developed by the Globus Project, a research initiative funded by various US government agencies.

But while the technology shows promise for scientific use, some analysts believe its one big limitation is a lack of clear business applications. However, others believe uses are likely to be found in vertical markets such as the pharmaceutical and auto industries.

UN launches IT task force

The United Nations recently launched a new Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) Task Force, a group intended to form broad partnerships to advance the United Nations' development goals and bring technology to developing nations. In the works since June 2000, the ICT Task Force comprises an array of diplomats, business executives and representatives from non-governmental and non-profit organisations.

The ICT Task Force does not, in general, intend to finance and organise projects. Instead, its mission will be to facilitate connections among a variety of agencies to aid implementation of the projects it chooses to promote. The group's primary focus is on speeding the use of tecnology to fight poverty.

A-P server sales still falling sharply

Third-quarter server sales revenue in most countries in the Asia-Pacific (excluding Japan) region was down more than 20 per cent from the same period a year earlier, according to figures released by research organisation IDC. In most of these countries, revenue was also down compared to the second quarter, IDC said.

Worst hit were Australia, Singapore, Korea, Taiwan and Hong Kong, where server revenues in each case were down 30 per cent or more from the same quarter last year. Malaysia, Indonesia and New Zealand saw less severe revenue falls, while China bucked the trend with 20 per cent year-on-year revenue growth.

China's growth was due to that country's rapid expansion of the telecommunication sector and infrastructure investments by the government, IDC said.

Regional revenue for the third quarter reached $US1.3 billion compared to 1.6 billion in the third quarter of 2000, according to IDC. Overall 2001 server revenues will dip below $6 billion, before staring a gradual recovery next year, IDC said.

According to IDC, server demand will mainly be driven by business processing such as electronic commerce, CRM (customer relationship management) and ERP (enterprise resource planning), custom applications (core banking and telecom billing), IT infrastructure spending (file/print, load balancing, proxy and security) and collaborative applications (e-mail and workgroup).

According to Gartner's Dataquest unit, IBM is the leading server vendor in the region, with a 19 per cent market share, followed by Hewlett-Packard at 18 per cent. Both these vendors increased their market share from the previous quarter.

The third-largest server vendor is Compaq, formerly the market leader, which saw erosion of its market share from 21 per cent in the second quarter, according to dataquest figures.

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