Intel revealed a series of initiatives last week that it hopes will improve the support infrastructure for IT managers.
The steps include setting up help desk centres worldwide; a range of training and service certification programs; and a greater presence on Internet standards bodies.
"The support infrastructure is under pressure," said Ed Ekstrom, general manager at Intel's systems management division.
Ekstrom cited three categories of services where Intel plans to help: deployment of PCs, configuration and software distribution. It will unite these under one support umbrella, which it calls its Intel Architecture Management Environment.
Intel will offer a software-based solution called Management Gateway Technologies, which will reside at a company's regional site or the site of a small business, and become the single point of contact for outsourced IT support.
In many smaller companies as well as in the regional offices of large corporations, "knowledge no longer resides inside the company", Ekstrom said. "Screwdriver VARs are providing support. It is these Ôvirtual IT managers' that Intel seeks to support."
Acer eyes top five PC vendor slot
by Eric Huang
TAIPEI -- Acer Group chairman and CEO Stan Shih set a lofty goal for his company last week, to become the world's fifth largest PC vendor by 2000.
The recent string of mergers and takeovers among worldwide PC vendors, such as Compaq's takeover of Digital, will actually help the Taiwan-based PC maker to reach that goal, Shih said.
The current top four PC vendors -- Compaq, IBM, Hewlett-Packard and Dell -- are likely to retain their leading positions, Shih noted. However, he predicted that Acer has a good chance of rising three notches from its current position as the world's eighth largest vendor.
Dell's position is not as secure as that of the other leading vendors, Shih said. It remains to be seen if Dell's reliance on direct sales will turn out to be successful in the long run, because providing extensive services and support is becoming an increasingly crucial part of selling PCs.
Acer has no plans to reach the number five spot through mergers or acquisitions, added Shih. Instead, Acer will find its own way by relying on its strengths in manufacturing and global logistics, as well as by building even stronger worldwide alliances with distributors under the company's "global brand, local touch" strategy.
NEC releases new workstation line
BOSTON -- NEC Computer Systems last week announced a new line of workstation-class, dual-processor-ready PCs aimed at the CAD/CAM, digital content creation and animation markets.
The PowerMate Professional 9000 Series of PCs are powered by Intel's Pentium II processors and use Microsoft's Windows NT Workstation 4.0 operating system. The systems include AccelGraphics' AGP graphics cards and NEC Computer Systems' hardware and software manageability suite.
The PowerMate Professional 9000 Series is available built-to-order starting from seven basic configurations, the statement said.
The workstations include software such as Intel LANDesk Client Manager 3.1, NEC WebTelligent, NEC SNMP agent, McAfee Virus Scan and Cheyenne Backup.by Rebecca SykesWang buys Olivetti services divisionby Philip WillanROME -- Wang Laboratories has agreed to buy Olsy SpA, the solutions and services division of the Italian IT and telecommunications group, Olivetti SpA, in a cash-and-stock deal worth around 700 billion lire ($US390 million).
Under the terms of the agreement, Olivetti will gain a 19 per cent stake in Wang, making it the largest shareholder in the US software and services company.
The deal, which has been under negotiation since last September, will expand Wang's global reach, particularly in Europe and Asia, and completes Olivetti's transformation from a computer to a predominantly telecommunications-based group.
The merger of the international activities of Olsy and Wang will result in the creation of a new company to be called Wang Global, but the merged company will operate under the brand name Olivetti Wang Global in the Italian, Japanese and Brazilian markets, the companies said.
The merged company will have combined sales of around $US3.6 billion and more than 20,000 employees worldwide. Olsy, with annual revenues of around $US2.3 billion, was responsible for about 60 per cent of the Olivetti Group's consolidated revenues in 1997.
Applix chief places bets on Java
Java and the Internet are the keys to the strategy of software developer, Applix. IDG journalist Tao Ai Lei recently spoke with Jit Saxena, chairman and CEO of Applix, about the role Java will play in the roll-out of its three product lines: front- office applications, customer interaction software and decision support softwareIDG: What drives your product strategies?
Saxena: There are two phenomena in the marketplace that decide our products and business strategies. Firstly, realtime, defined as the ability to deal with information and respond in a fast manner. Today, we have real-time messaging e-mail and real-time voice phone. It is almost becoming a requirement that an organisation responds to changing events in real time.
Secondly, the Internet has made all kinds of information available to everyone, anywhere. It can significantly change all aspects of our lives, and has an amazing impact on how you do business, buy or sell products, communicate with people. We made a major bet on Java as a programming paradigm, and we were one of the first companies to work with Java. This positions us to compete in the growth of the Internet revolution and in the growth of information anywhere and in real time.
You have 100 per cent Java on the client-side, what other plans do you have for Java?
We think Java has tremendous potential as the industry standard, as applications developed on it can run on any device. We are 100 per cent Java on the client-side, and whether we move our server over to Java would depend on the compilers becoming more efficient. Today, the compelling case is to run Java on the client.
Corel tried to "Javatise" its office suite, but failed. What went wrong?
Corel's approach was flawed from the beginning, it tried to re-create in Java what it already has in C and C++. Our approach is that of running applications on a thin client, with separate logic for the server.
What is Applix's road map for Asia-Pacific?
Asia-Pacific contributed 10 per cent of our worldwide revenues. Even though our Singapore and Japanese offices are relatively young, we had distributors in Australia (such as Melbourne-based Australian Information Processing Centre) and Korea for some time. We believe that region will grow 30 to 40 per cent a year. The challenge for us right now is to find the right hardware and software partners, along with systems integrators. The priority is to set up partnerships, and to set up offices later, perhaps in 1999.
How is Asia-Pacific taking to customer nteraction software (CIS)?
It is still in the early stages. The concentration is on manufacturing and finance applications, less on front-office applications. Compared to countries in the West, problems here are the same.
Your product lines seem divergent with decision support and helpdesk software. Where do you see the market going for your products?
Moving forward. We expect that some areas will come together and there may be a need for integration. For instance, data warehousing will see the integration of several applications, bringing together all the customer issues stored in different applications. Customer call history from the CIS may be linked to a data warehouse for analysis by an online analytical processing (OLAP) tool.
Applix's Australian distributor and business partner, Australian Information Processing Centre (AIPC), can be reached at:
Tel (03) 9818 5555 Fax (03) 9818 0155
JavaSoft releases Foundation Classes
by ARN staff
SAN MATEO -- Sun Microsystems' JavaSoft recently released Java Foundation Classes (JFCs) at (java.sun.com/products/jfc).
JFCs bring GUI components and foundation services to the Java Development Kit and let developers design applications to mirror the operating system on which they run.
Users can create customised interfaces for applications. Foundation services included are the Java Accessibility API, which makes Java applications accessible to users with disabilities; the Java 2-D API, which creates more sophisticated applications for scientific and business users; and drag-and-drop capabilities, which let developers drag and drop text or images among Java and native applications.