Notes from the field: The WorldCom factor

Notes from the field: The WorldCom factor

Amber has been unable to reach her mother since our little visit, and she cannot help but wonder whether her mother is still mad about the way Apache was acting up. "Knowing her, she'll probably try to blame the whole thing on WorldCom," Amber said.

Taking precautions

WorldCom's corporate customers also have doubts about the company these days. Despite the fallout after the company revealed financial irregularities in its record keeping that totalled almost $US4 billion and the spectacle of executives taking the Fifth during Congressional hearings, the telco is telling the public that its customers are staying put. But a spy who works at one of the large Internet backbone aggregators told me that several major WorldCom customers have called him to order additional circuits "just in case". One is an airline company.

Big blues

A spy told me that he was having a horrible time migrating to IBM pSeries AIX servers with the new FAStT (Fibre Array Storage Technology) disk storage systems. He said headaches came because the FAStT just doesn't play very well with pSeries servers. After a lot of fighting, the sales rep let slip that there are only two or three FAStT current installations and that they are all having problems.

Another spy reported that at its Beaverton, Oregon operation, which IBM acquired when it bought Sequent, Big Blue laid off the remaining Sequent engineers. Like its treatment of the old AT&T folks, IBM gave severance packages based only on the two years engineers worked under IBM, although many had been with Sequent for longer than 10 years.

Not the only one

IBM is not the only company with discontented former employees. EDS, in fact, has also burned a few of its old friends, a spy told me, referring to long-time employees at companies that came to work for EDS through "outsourcing" contracts. EDS, it appears, has many clauses in its benefits, but generally the company's treatment of "redundant" employees is outrageous. In one case, an employee was fired one day after the contract that transferred him to EDS expired. If he had been laid off under the original transfer contract, he would have gotten 20 weeks of severance pay, his unused vacation, and six months of medical benefits.

Speaking of vacations, Amber has been hounding me to take another one with her. The biotech where she works is offering employees an unpaid week off, to help out with the bottom line. "It's time to finalise our summer vacation. Where do you want to go this season, Bobby?"

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