5th > October > 2003 Archive

Sun searches for a few good Opteron engineers

A new job opening posted on Sun Microsystems' Web site confirms the company's growing aspirations to roll out servers based on AMD's Opteron processor. "Solaris is the world's premier 64-bit operating system," the post on Sun's job board reads. "Now Sun is taking the next step: to make Solaris the operating system of choice for the AMD64 architecture. As a key member of the Solaris engineering team you will help in the planning and implementation of a 64-bit version of Solaris for platforms based on AMD's Opteron line of processors." This is one of five new job openings at the company, calling for experienced software engineers to do work on tuning Solaris x86 for the Opteron processor. Back in April, Sun's CEO Scott McNealy confirmed that work was already underway to create a 64bit version of Solaris x86 for AMD's x86-64bit chip. Now, however, Sun appears to be stepping up these operations. The plan is likely twofold. Sources have revealed that Sun plans to roll out its own Opteron-based workstation. In addition, Sun has been busy testing Opteron servers from various vendors for its Solaris x86 compatibility list. Opteron has given Sun a nice opening to try and extend the market share of Solaris and keep the OS at the center of 64bit computing. HP's commitment to Itanium has HP-UX relegated to the chip's EPIC instruction set. IBM, on the other hand, is full speed ahead with Linux for x86 chips, preferring to keep AIX on Power-based servers only. For one and two processor boxes, Windows and Linux will be fine options for Opteron servers, but as the chip matures and larger boxes roll out, it's only natural that companies will be looking for a mature version of Unix to run on multiprocessor systems. If Sun puts in enough effort, it may well open up a new future for Solaris in the x86-64bit space, which would be a major coup for the company.®
Ashlee Vance, 05 Oct 2003

SonyEricsson P900 – boxed and ready

SonyEricsson has sold around a million of its P800 smartphone, making it the most popular single PDA model on the market. Although you'd never know it, as the device is outsold by other phones and has a negligible presence in the US consumer market. But it's set to unveil the P900, on October 26, according to reports. Unlike the long-awaited, then delayed P800 which basked in months of pre-publicity, SonyEricsson has attempted to keep the successor a closely guarded secret, refusing to release a photograph or even acknowledge the name. Without too much success. Comprehensive reviews, some based on prototypes, have emerged in the past 48 hours - the best is at Mobile Review [in English ], and members of HowardForums have early units, complete with packaging. Mobitopia has a summary of the changes here. The P900 is more conservatively styled, abandons the physical contact buttons that Ericsson first used in the R380, and which gave the P800 a bulky convex shape, in favor of an integrated (but removable) flip, making the phone slimmer. Better screen quality, a camcorder and a real stylus top the other improvements. SonyEricsson P800 owners must be a vain lot: the P900 features a tiny mirror underneath camera mounted on the back: so you know what you look like, before you go out. The P900 expected to be in the channels in time for the Christmas rush. Its closest competitor, the Treo 600, arrives in volume at the end of next week Handspring executives said at this week's launch. ®
Andrew Orlowski, 05 Oct 2003

Intel CEO admits: jobs aren't coming back to US

They're calling it the 'jobless recovery' - but it's a misleading phrase. New jobs are being created in the tech sector, only CEOs are making sure they're in China and India, not at home in the United States. Craig Barrett admits to the New York Times today that while Intel has maintained a steady head count in the US, it has hired a thousand new software engineers in India and China. Barrett has a curious phrase to justify this new trend. "To be competitive, we have to move up the skill chain overseas," he said. (What's a skill chain and what do you find at each end?) The Times cites an estimate that a million jobs have been moved offshore since March 2001. Gartner predicts one in ten tech jobs will be moved offshore by the end of next year 2004 and half of them will be skilled engineering positions. (see US tech industry staff decimated in offshore stampede.) The trend is nothing new: but for the first time it's affecting the technocrat middle class, who in the United States (and increasingly the UK, too) must bear the costs of further education. The benefits, and inevitability of globalization were preached while first manufacturing then service jobs went off shore. Now an engineering degree no longer guarantees employment. 14 per cent of tech companies have already moved R&D offshore, CIO magazine reports, but more ominously 60 per cent of firms have only just started discussing the subject. By next year the first ripples could turn into tsunami. ® Related Stories US tech industry staff decimated in offshore stampede IBM lays off 15,000, HP 1300
Andrew Orlowski, 05 Oct 2003

Smart cards get really smart

Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania have developed smart credit cards with embedded microchips. What's new about is a technique which lets ordinary card users program in their own spending parameters. Just imagine: employers could better manage spending on corporate cards, while parents could create emergency credit cards for their children, to be used only at certain locations such as hotels or pay phones. Banks and other card issuers have long been able to set general parameters in chip cards, such as credit limits. So far, there has been little interest in setting finer limits because the procedure is awkward and expensive to manage. But not anymore, according to Penn scientist Carl Gunter, who presented this work at the recent conference on Object-Oriented Programming in Darmstadt, Germany. The programmable card brings together an assortment of existing technologies, including the microchips first built into credit cards more than 30 years ago. An on-card verification system prevents unauthorised users from tampering with restrictions programmed in by the card's rightful owner, while an ordinary card-reader plugs into a computer dock, allowing users to create restrictions. Programmable credit cards could let cardholders limit their own expenditures, to a certain amount a day or to spending only on certain days or at certain locations. The technology could also help cut fraudulent online use of credit cards, Penn scientists believe. So, will your bank offer these cards tomorrow? No, you need to wait. Penn says it seeking corporate partners to commercialise the technology. ®
Jan Libbenga, 05 Oct 2003
Cat 5 cable

Siebel: second thoughts on hosted CRM

Following a summer of rumor, Siebel Systems has finally spoken out and announced its intention to launch a hosted CRM service. Although widely predicted, the move will throw the already unsteady CRM sector into further turmoil and further raises the issue of whether the enterprise software industry is at a technology inflection point. Siebel will offer CRM OnDemand as part of IBM's OnDemand program and provide sales, service and marketing capabilities to assist with lead and account management. The plan is to allow users to combine on-premises and on-demand solutions. Siebel's motivation in moving to a service-based model has several facets. David Schmaier, Siebel executive vice president, described it as a market-making and market-changing announcement, predicting that in future software would look a lot like this new Siebel model. Its goal was to provide software that was easy deployable, usable and affordable and could be integrated with Siebel's on premise software. Both Siebel and IBM stressed that it was not a case of on-demand only or on-premises only and Mr Schmaier said that the approach would generate major new opportunities. In its current guise CRM OnDemand is generic and horizontal in orientation, but this is only the first of multiple offerings that will combine different services and different products and be geared towards different vertical industries or geographic locales. With sales of licensed applications tumbling, Siebel needs to generate new sales. It also needs a lower cost offering to enable it to effectively compete with SAP, PeopleSoft and Oracle - particularly following PeopleSoft's value-based pricing initiative and SAP's decision to include the CRM component in sales of the mySAP Business Suite. Both initiatives come at a time when these broad-based suite providers have largely caught up with Siebel in terms of the breadth and depth of CRM functionality. At the other end of the market it needs to head off the growing threat and even lower price points offered by Microsoft Business Solutions and Salesforce.com. There are also the issues of usability and user adoption, which are recognized as problems within the industry and CEO Tom Siebel is on record as saying the company has to reduce the complexity of its offering. Web-based offerings, accessed via browsers, immediately reduce the level of complexity from a user perspective and Siebel is making much of the usability aspects of CRM OnDemand with its HTML-based zero footprint client. Source: Computerwire/Datamonitor Related research Reuters Business Insight, The CRM Outlook
Datamonitor, 05 Oct 2003