Chrome finds cheap code-cutters in Vietnam

Chrome Global - the company established in WA in 1999 by the merger of Chromium, Database Technology and OzEmail West - has taken the unusual step of outsourcing its software development to the Corporation for Financing and Promoting Technology (FPT) in Vietnam. A spokesman for Chrome Global said FPT is a state-owned operation which has more than 300 developers worldwide. It includes Compaq, IBM, Oracle and Microsoft on its client list.

The benefits Chrome Global expects to gain from the deal include a reduction in direct salary costs and an increase in the number of projects it can undertake by relying on the extensive resources of FPT.

"As the outsourcing relationship develops FPT will exclusively dedicate a pool of resources to Chrome Global," the spokesman explained. "This pool of staff will become, in essence, an extension of Chrome Global's inhouse software development team. In this way Chrome Global gets a pool of well-qualified resources on an ‘as required' basis without increasing the fixed salary costs of the company," the spokesman added.

The first project FPT is undertaking for Chrome Global is an Oracle portal, which is now being specified and sized and is due to be delivered early in February.

Powerlan forges international alliances

It was a busy week for Powerlan which, through a couple of international alliances, will offer its training courses to Indian students, and will work on the creation of a wireless corporate information access system.

Through an alliance with Asset International, a subsidiary of Aptech, Powerlan's Australian IT Careers Institute will begin offering transnational training courses in which students will spend four months in India and 12 months in Australia. Students will study the ecom@asset course in India and the Diploma of Information Technology, Software Development, in Australia. The two companies believe they will be able to enrol about 1000 students in the courses in 2001.

Through a partnership with US company Centura Software, Powerlan will begin offering corporate users secure wireless access to enterprise data based on Centura's eSNAPP mobile computing platform. To put some muscle behind the offerings Powerlan has agreed to set up a separate business consulting division to focus on mobile communications.

Wavenet taps into Motorola's base

Western Australian wireless modem manufacturer Wavenet has entered an agreement with Motorola through which Wavenet will market its Wavebase base stations to DataTAC wireless network operators around the world. A spokesman said Wavebase operates in the 400MHz and 800MHz bands and is able to support radio packet modems within distances of 15km in urban areas and up to 100km in line of sight.

"Wavebase has generated a lot of interest from service providers and telecommunication carriers looking to expand their existing networks to meet increasing demand for wireless mobile services," noted John Thompson, managing director of Wavenet. He added that the licence agreement with Motorola will allow Wavenet to complete the development of the base station in a form more suitable for commercial deployment to such carriers.dFone and Singtel tackle IP telephonyWest Australian company dFone has agreed to work with Singapore Telecom Australia to develop Internet, voice-over-IP and integrated data services for corporate Australian users. A spokesman for dFone said the alliance is a significant step in the establishment of a VoIP network to deploy the dFone and other IP telephony products.

Under the terms of the deal SingTel will provide dFone with PSTN terminations and access to its international network, and will house dFone's equipment racks at sites around Australia. In return, dFone will buy Internet bandwidth from SingTel.

Genie forges alliance with US distributorGenie Systems, a Kiwi e-business solutions developer with a solid operation in Australia, has signed up Eden Technology to distribute Genie's OrderWare supply chain management product.

Peter Roberts, managing director of Eden Technology (a division of US company SMI International) said OrderWare is a collaboration and exchange package that enables B2B orders to be placed over the Internet. "Using OrderWare we are able to integrate the business processes of companies that trade together on a one-on-one, one-to-many or many-to-many basis, and we can do this with set-up times of only several weeks to provide almost immediate business benefits to our clients," Roberts explained.

OrderWare is already used by several US companies, including Toys ‘R' Us and General Electric, and Roberts added that Eden's sales team is taking the product to market in Australia to demonstrate its capabilities. Eden's customers here include the Royal Australian Navy, NSW State Water, the NZ Navy and the Australian Federal Police.

Business briefs

Redflex Communications Systems has won a contract worth about $A500,000 to provide systems requirements analysis services to Boeing Australia. The contract is seen as being a first step towards Boeing's full Vigilare project, which could be worth up to $A20 million to Redflex over three years.

Access1 has entered a strategic alliance with TransACT Capital Communications and will pump a complete range of its services into TransACT's fibre optic network. The deal includes the NetAccess, AccessTV and NetCourier services.

High speed broadband services supplier Flowcom is negotiating vendor finance agreements with Alcatel Australia as it extends the services it is able to offer. "Negotiations have progressed significantly since listing on the ASX on September 8 and the signing of this $A62 million agreement is imminent," explained Flowcom CEO Tom Amos.

John Dougall has successfully led Commander Communications through a bookbuild ahead of its IPO this week. Dougall acknowledged that the proceeds of the IPO were lower than he would have liked, but added that Commander now has capital available to implement its growth strategy by increasing data networking capabilities, expanding into Web hosting and introducing new telephony products.

Loyalty software developer Catuity was scheduled to begin trading on NASDAQ today as CTTY. The company's shares will continue to trade on the Australian Stock Exchange.

Australian Distributed Incubator, which is part of the Federal Government's Building on IT Strengths program, has opened a Sydney operation in league with Ernst & Young. "Entrepreneurs will now be able to receive ongoing assistance from their mentors via e-mail or phone and face-to-face through the offices of ADI in Melbourne and in Sydney via the offices of Ernst & Young," a spokeswoman explained. The recently appointed chairman of ADI is our own Len Rust.

Number crunching

PC manufacturer Gateway sent shudders through European and US sharemarkets this week when it warned Wall Street that its fourth quarter revenue and profit would fall significantly below analysts' forecasts. The company expects revenue to be flat at about $US2.55 billion, and warned that earnings per share would be about 40 per cent below most estimates. The company will also take a one-time charge of about $US200 million due to the write-down of investments in technology companies and could end up reporting a loss for the quarter. "The economic slowdown coupled with ongoing shifts in PC seasonality, clearly had a significant impact on our sales over the (Thanksgiving) holiday weekend," explained CFO John Todd. "We expect these issues will continue to have a significant impact on our sales over the next 12 to 18 months."

If it was all gloom at Gateway, Hewlett-Packard's CEO Carly Fiorina announced she was "comfortable" with analysts' estimates of the company's first quarter profit. She noted, however, that PC sales are soft. Despite the strength of HP's retail PC business in the US in 2000, Fiorina noted that the company knew things would change in 2001 and accordingly planned for only single digit growth. The reality now is that "softness in that market has been somewhat greater than we had originally anticipated", but HP is "still experiencing growth" over last year's figures, Fiorina said.

The battle became too much for speech recognition player Lernout & Hauspie, which confirmed that some $US100 million has disappeared from its Korean operation, and then filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in the US. A spokesman said the new management team in L&H's headquarters in Belgium had discovered a number of financial irregularities and questionable transactions. "Upon discovering this they reached the conclusion that the only hope for the company was to seek protection from creditors and legal claimants and, most importantly, to clean up the mess they had inherited.

The US Securities and Exchange Commission has filed a suit against IBM executive Steven Cowley alleging that he made $US127,288 from insider trading. The suit alleges that while Cowley was working in IBM's London office he received advance notice of a merger between 4Front Technologies and NCR, and promptly bought shares and options in 4Front. The suit does not assert that Cowley gained the knowledge of the merger from his executive duties.

A New York law firm has been retained to start a class-action suit against Lucent Technologies just a week after the company revised its fourth quarter revenue estimates downwards by $US125 million. The suit will allege that Lucent provided investors with false and misleading information about its financial results for the quarter.

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