Saturday, March 21, 2009

What is the latest buzz on Sun, IBM deal?

Whether it is mere speculation or a fact , the combination of two IT giants -- IBM and Sun Microsystems -- will surely alter the dynamics of the IT services market.

Of recent times, everybody is racing to offer hardware-software services and own data centres. We have seen that happen with Cisco s Unified Computing Systems, HP bought EDS, now IBM is looking at Sun.

There is no official comment from the two companies, but if the deal goes through it will give IBM a bigger control of the market and make it a fitting rival for HP, Dell and Microsoft.

Together, IBM and Sun would have about 65% of the market for server computers running the Unix operating system and 42% of the total server market, measured by the dollar value of the market.

Like Sun's Java and Solaris, the operating systems have gained substantial market share over the years. Similarly, Sun could give it some extra hardware market share specifically in servers.

However, reports indicate that Sun has not been doing well ever since the global recession began last September. Reports indicate that IBM may pay at least $6.5 billion in cash for the deal, which would be a 100% premium over Tuesday's closing price for Sun.

In last year's fourth quarter, IBM led in the global server market revenue with $4.9 billion in sales, about 36% of the market. HP was No. 2 with $3.9 billion in sales ie, about 29% of the market. Dell, with $1.4 billion in sales, and Sun, with about $1.3 billion, were a distant No. 3 and No. 4.

However, Sun's Solaris servers have a strong presence in the premium market, which is seen as more profitable. That is why that valuation may be justifiable for IBM.

But Sun's recent acquisition of StorageTek for $4.1 billion was termed as a hogwash, mainly because it did not go well with Sun and ended up in cold waters.

With customers like HDFC Bank, Punjab National Bank (PNB) and Tata Teleservices, Sun's strong presence in the financial services and telecom domains has been the envy of its rivals.

But in case of a merger, issues like having a number of common customers and how to merge the two global brands will come up. As a Sun employee, said, Sun employees are concerned about the future of our products if the acquisition happens, since there is a significant overlap between our products and that of IBM s.

Sun's corporate communications office terms it as a mere speculation and refused to comment on the rumour . So did the IBM communication team, saying they have no reactions from their headquarters and cannot comment on the issue.

Meanwhile, T.R. Madan Mohan, managing partner, Browne and Mohan, said that the WSJ picked up the news from the blog of a Sun employee.

According to him, the deal may not come through, but given the market cap of Sun, which is just about $ 2 billion, and IBM is supposed to have quoted $ 6.5 to $ 6.8 billion that is a very good valuation for a company that has been dithering.

Similarly, Sun's strengths are in government, BFSI and telecom. In telecom, it has some marque clients such as NTTDocomo, Dialog, Telefunken, Vodafone, etc which run mission-critical applications.

IBM has not been able to move into these accounts globally, unlike the easy entry the company had with Bharti Airtel, Aircel, Vodafone, Idea in India. By acquiring Sun, IBM will get access to these critical markets and benefit from the Java/My SQL communities.


Has AIG bonus outrage gives employees a fear?

The bonuses paid to AIG executives have turned pillars of a Connecticut community into pariahs and have workers fearing for their safety.

An executive who feared retribution and spoke Friday on condition of anonymity says AIG workers in ritzy Fairfield County are ``very, very nervous'' about security.

AIG's financial products division is in nearby Wilton. Corporate officials have told employees to avoid sporting the company logo and to travel in pairs at night.

Activists plan to visit the homes of AIG executives Saturday in an attempt to deliver letters highlighting the economic problems of ordinary Americans.

Security companies say the financial crisis is creating brisk business in everything from bomb-sniffing dogs to bodyguards.


US bank rescue plan likely out on Monday

The US government will announce as soon as Monday a long-awaited plan to try to get bad assets off the books of banks, a cornerstone of its efforts to tackle the credit crisis, The Wall Street Journal reported.

The Obama administration, battling a deepening recession, is set to adopt a three-pronged approach to ridding the financial system of so-called toxic assets, reports said.

The plan would create an entity, backed by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp, a U.S. banking regulator, to buy and hold loans, the reports said.

It would expand a newly launched Federal Reserve facility -- that lends money to investors to buy securities backed by consumer loans -- to include toxic assets. And it would create new public and privately financed funds to buy such securities under the management of private investment experts.

The Obama administration plans to contribute between $75 billion and $100 billion in new capital to the effort although that amount could be expanded, the Wall Street Journal said.

The Treasury Department and Federal Reserve declined to comment. Sources familiar with the government's thinking have told Reuters details of a plan could be announced next week.

The Bush administration tried without success late last year to set up a mechanism to get bad assets off the balance sheets of commercial banks.

The banks have been hammered by losses incurred by mortgage-related debt that has turned sour amid a fall in house prices and a pickup in defaults, sparking a credit crisis that has strangled the US and global economies.

Obama's Treasury secretary, Timothy Geithner, has outlined a new proposal to soak up as much as $1 trillion in assets through a public-private program.

But investors have grown increasingly concerned that his efforts are running into problems more than a month after he outlined the plan.

The slow start of the new Federal Reserve consumer lending program this week has been seen as a sign that private capital may shun the toxic-asset plan because of public outrage over large executive bonuses.

Many big private investors are worried they could face tough new rules in US financial rescue programs after Congress pressed ahead with efforts to claw back bonuses paid to executives at failed insurer American International Group.

The Wall Street Journal said the Treasury would match private sector finance for the public-private toxic asset funds on a one-for-one basis in most cases.

Washington would be a co-investor also in the new FDIC troubled loans program but could contribute 80 percent in some cases, and would guarantee as much as $500 billion in loans investments, the newspaper said in its report.

The New York Times said the FDIC program could involve government funding for up to 97 percent of the equity.

It also said the plan is likely to offer generous taxpayer subsidies, in the form of low-interest loans, to coax investors to form partnerships with the government.


Friday, March 20, 2009

AT&T Looks for Customers for Center in India

AT&T Inc., a US-based company offering advanced IP-based business communications services, is set to acquire customers from IT, ITES, manufacturing and finance service companies for its newly launched data center in India.

AT&T set up its India data center in Bangalore last December. Since then the company is looking at the growing demand from multinational customers in India for online data centers with highly resilient facilities and a wide range of IT infrastructure management services.

Talking to CXOtoday, Gopi Gopinath, chairman and chief executive officer of AT&T Global Network Services India, said, "Since the data center has just become operational, we have not got any customers in India so far, but the data center has been build to 'Green' specifications laid down by the parent company across all data centers."

The Whitefield center has a 5,000 sq ft of capacity and can expand unlimitedly. It is part of a $1 billion planned AT&T global network and portfolio investment for 2009. Data center customers will have access to a wide range of fully integrated managed hosting, application and networking services to support their data and e-commerce needs. Connectivity to the centre can be supported with AT&T's existing suite of managed data services in India.

The data center is built to the same rigid specifications consistent with AT&T's other 37 global data centers and are enabled with services that proactively manage customers' hosting solutions for predictable application performance. They are protected from intrusion and failure with the same multi-layered security, failsafe redundancy, diversity measures, and rapid response recovery measures built into each data center.

"We will be able to support multinational customers in India who turn to AT&T for integrated hosting and network solutions, allowing them to focus on running their businesses," said Gopinath.

The center is directly connected to AT&T's global MPLS backbone to offer a portfolio of hosting solutions with network performance and features. Among them are greater agility when making real-time changes to IT environments, more control to extend applications to the customer's premises or to other data centers, and the ability to include 'on network' capabilities in a customer solution.


US axes 651,000 jobs in February; unemployment rate highest in 25 years

US employers axed 651,000 jobs in February, pushing the unemployment rate to its highest in 25 years, as companies buckled under the strain of a recession that is showing no signs of ending, according to a government report.

While that figure was near economists' expectations for a 648,000 drop in non-farm payrolls, January and December job losses were revised sharply higher.

The Labor Department on Friday said the unemployment rate surged to 8.1 percent in February, the highest level since December 1983. That was above market forecasts for a rise to 7.9 from January's 7.6 percent.

January's job cuts were revised to show a steep decline of 655,000, while December's payrolls losses were adjusted to 681,000, the deepest since October 1949. Since the start of the recession in December 2007, the economy has purged 4.4 million jobs, with more than half occurring in the last 4 months.

Job losses in February were broad based, with only government, education and health services adding jobs.

"Since the recession began, the rise in unemployment has been concentrated among people who lost jobs, as opposed to job leavers or people joining the labor force," said Bureau of Labor Statistics Commissioner Keith Hall

The manufacturing sector shed 168,000 jobs in February, after eliminating 257,000 positions the prior month. Construction industries bled 104,000 jobs in February after losing 118,000 in January.

The service-providing industry slashed 375,000 positions after shedding 276,000 in January.


Has SAP lays off unspecified numbers in India?

The German software giant SAP AG reportedly laid off an unspecified number of employees recently as part of its previously announced plan to trim 3,000 jobs.

The lay offs were confirmed by a company spokesman according to the report. The spokesman said that the cuts were not directed at any one particular discipline or area of our business and were spread across the board.

SAP, which implemented cost savings in October after sales dropped sharply, said it would continue to slash costs and announced that it intended to reduce its workforce to 48,500 by the end of this year from 51,800 now.

The world's biggest maker of business management software gave no target for its key software and software-related sales this year but based its margin forecasts on the assumption that core sales would be flat or 1 percent lower than 2008 sales of 8.62 billion euros.

Co-chief executive Leo Apotheker told Bloomberg television in January that SAP was still seeing demand for software despite the global economic slump and that it intended to avoid forced layoffs. However, seems that approach is not working.

SAP said it expects the staff reductions to result in 300 million to 350 million euros in annual cost savings beginning in 2010 but also in restructuring charges this year in a range of 200-300 million euros.

That would weigh on its 2009 operating margin by 2 percentage points to 3 percentage points, the company said. It forecast an operating margin of 24.5 percent to 25.5 percent versus 28.2 percent last year.

SAP said 2008 operating profit rose 4 percent to 2.84 billion euros ($3.75 billion) and total software and software-related sales gained 14 percent to 8.46 billion euros.


Thursday, March 19, 2009

Will Common service centres generate 400,000 jobs in India?

The government's common service centre (CSS) initiative will generate around 400,000 direct employment opportunities and as many as indirect jobs in rural India, a top government official said here on Thursday.

"The scheme was likely to generate over 400,000 direct jobs opportunities as well as indirect employment avenues of a like number in rural India," Cabinet Secretary K.M. Chandrasekhar told reporters after inaugurating a conference on 'Common Service Centres: The Change Agents'.

The CSC is a government-run one-stop shop that offers web-enabled e-governance services in rural areas, including various application forms, certificates, and utility payments such as electricity, telephone and water bills.

"The scheme was structured to promote rural entrepreneurship. By creating appropriate support structures that enable demand-driven services as well as capacity building and training, entrepreneurs can be empowered as change agents for rapid socio-economic change in rural India," he said.

Earlier, while inaugurating the conference, Chandrasekhar said inclusive growth and rural empowerment were the major goals of the CSC initiative.

He added that the government would set up 100,000 CSCs across the country under the public-private partnership model by year-end.

Last month, Communications and IT Minister A. Raja had said that the government would invest Rs.57.42 billion (Rs.5,742 crore) for setting up CSCs.


Can an iPod be a poor man's iPhone?

I try to keep a stiff upper lip about not having an iPhone. Just couldn't afford it — not with the $75 a month or so AT&T charges for service on top of the $199 upfront cost for the device.

I could, however, afford the $229 iPod Touch — and got it as a gift, as it happened. It has most of the same goodies: a Web browser, e-mail, YouTube. And it stores way more music than the iPhone. (Ha!) Plus, the other day I used it to call China.

Yup, a call around the world — on a device that doesn't have a phone. A handful of applications on Apple Inc.'s iTunes store will let you do this, as long as you're in a Wi-Fi hot spot.

My iPhone complex hasn't disappeared, but at least now I have a device that looks just like it, has no monthly service fees, and lets me make free or cheap phone calls.

The best part of these applications — which require the second-generation iPod Touch that came out last year — is that they are free to download, and calls to other people using the same app won't cost you anything.

Two of the services I've tried, Truphone and Fring, will also let you make free calls to Google Talk users and type instant messages to friends online. Both automatically queue up a list of buddies from different services you might have, including Gmail chat, AIM and MSN Messenger, once you log in.

But it's Truphone's pay feature that puts it ahead of the others. TruPhone charges you to make calls to landlines or regular cell phones, but generally at better rates than most wireless carriers. And it's upfront about what you pay.

Your balance — which you can add to with a credit card, either on the device or on your computer browser — pops up with the dial screen. Calls in the U.S. are all 5 cents per minute (2 cents if you sign up to pay a $4 monthly fee).

Rates outside the U.S. vary wildly but you can check in the application before you dial. To call cell phones in China, for instance, is only 5 cents per minute, while France is 25 cents. Antarctica? A whopping $2.25.

You can make regular calls with Fring using a Skype account, but that's another layer to deal with.

The calls on these services sound pretty good, a little tinny but clearer than my regular cell phone connection. IPod Touch users will need Apple's $29 ear buds that have a tiny microphone on the back of the volume control along the cord.

The most serious drawback is the most obvious: While the iPhone uses AT&T's wireless network to provide Internet access anywhere, on the iPod Touch you'll need to stick to Wi-Fi hot spots. For rural or suburban dwellers who don't encounter lots of free Wi-Fi zones, that may very well mean limiting yourself to your house, or other places where there's a computer with the same Internet phone call capabilities anyway.

That means these apps probably won't replace your cell phone. But they can moderate your iPhone envy.


Microsoft releases Internet Explorer 8

Microsoft Corp is set to publicly launch Internet Explorer 8 early on Thursday, the latest version of its market-dominating Web browser.

The application, an integral part of Microsoft's eagerly awaited Windows 7 operating system, can be downloaded from Microsoft's website from 9 am Pacific time, free for people using licensed Microsoft operating systems.

IE8, as it is commonly referred to, has been in public beta testing for about a year, but Thursday's launch marks its full public rollout.

Microsoft, the world's largest software company, said IE8 will run with Windows Vista, its latest operating system, and also Windows XP, the previous version which some users still prefer over Vista.

The application replaces IE7, which has a lock on the browser market. According to a recent survey by IT consultants Janco Associates Inc, Internet explorer has a 72.2 perc ent market share, ahead of the Mozilla Foundation's Firefox browser with 17.2 per cent. Google Inc's new Chrome browser has only 2.8 per cent of the market, while Apple Inc's Safari has less than 1 per cent.

Microsoft has run afoul of US and European antitrust regulators for bundling its browser with its operating system, which competitors say is an attempt to drive them out of the market.

Last month, Google joined Mozilla and Norway's Opera in protesting Microsoft's dominance in the browser market. In January, European regulators brought formal charges against Microsoft for abusing its dominant market position by bundling its Internet Explorer Web browser with its Windows operating system, which is used in 95 percent of the world's personal computers.

Microsoft has already announced that users of Windows 7, expected later this year or early next year, will be able to turn key programs like Internet Explorer off, making it easier to use other browsers.

New features in IE8 include right-clicking on addresses or other Web features to go straight to a map or put into a blog or other website, which Microsoft calls an "accelerator". Users will also be able to put in keywords in the address bar to recall sites visited related to that word.

The new browser also has enhanced security protection, for example warning users if they are about to download something from a site known to be a source of malicious software, or "malware".


Is UBS cutting 5,000 management jobs?

Switzerland's biggest bank UBS plans to cut up to 5,000 senior and management jobs in the next few weeks, a media report said on Sunday.

The report said that according to its own research up to 2,500 management positions could go in UBS's dominant and profitable wealth management division, which accounts for 50,000 of the bank's total 77,000 staff.

A UBS spokesman declined to comment on the report. UBS said last week that it was restructuring its Swiss business structure into four regions from eight, and trimming its top management. But it said the changes did not mean any more job cuts than the 600 to 800 positions it already planned to cut in Switzerland as part of the thousands of job losses globally it had already announced.

UBS said in February that after a record loss it would cut 2,000 jobs to take staff to about 75,000 by the middle of this year.

UBS is struggling to rebuild its once powerful brand and focus on its core Swiss business after massive investments in risky US assets forced it to make more writedowns than any other European bank and accept government backing.


Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Is IBM in talks to buy Sun Microsystems?

International Business Machines is in talks to acquire Sun Microsystems, the Wall Street Journal said, citing people familiar with the matter.

IBM is likely to pay at least $6.5 billion in cash to acquire Sun, the people told the paper.

That would translate into a premium of about 100 per cent over Sun's closing price on Tuesday of $4.97 a share on the Nasdaq, the paper said.

In recent months, Sun has approached a number of large tech companies in the hopes of being acquired, the paper said. Hewlett-Packard Co declined the offer, the paper said.

Sun is a maker of software and high-end computers. A spokesman for IBM declined to comment to the paper on questions about any talks with Sun. IBM and Sun could not be immediately be reached for comments.


Is Nokia set to cut 1,700 jobs globally?

Nokia Oyj, the world’s biggest maker of mobile phones, plans to cut 1,700 jobs globally by scaling back sales, marketing and some technology functions to adapt to falling consumer demand.

The company, based in Espoo, Finland, will start consultations with unions regarding the cutbacks, which are part of previously announced plans to adjust to a shrinking market, Nokia said in a statement today. Of the cuts, about 700 will be in Finland, spokeswoman Eija-Riitta Huovinen said by telephone.

“Nokia continues to seek savings in operational expenses, looking at all areas and activities across the company,” Nokia said in the release.

In January, Nokia said that it would slash its dividend for the first time in seven years and forecast a 10 percent slide in industry sales as the global crisis saps consumer demand. Nokia sold 15 percent fewer phones in the fourth quarter than a year earlier and cut its industry sales forecast for a third time since November.


Will Fujitsu cut 1,750 jobs?

Japan's Fujitsu Ltd announced plans to axe 1,750 jobs in the Philippines, blaming the global economic downturn.

Workers have been offered early retirement packages to leave Fujitsu Computer Products Corp, which makes disk drives, said Ernesto Espinosa, a manager.

"We launched a voluntary leaving programme and the reason for this is that because of the global recession," he said.

Labour Secretary Marianito Roque told reporters the government had been notified of the plan, which takes effect on April 18.

He said this brought the number of Filipinos who had lost their jobs since the financial crisis unfolded last year to about 45,000. The government expects 800,000 people to lose jobs, mainly in the electronics and clothing sectors, before the downturn eases.

About nine million Filipinos, or 10 per cent of the population, were without jobs or underemployed, the government announced.

Espinosa said Fujitsu failed to save the jobs despite earlier efforts to cut working hours and overtime pay, which drastically reduced employees' salaries.

"Because of that we have no other choice but to offer voluntary separation," he added. About 2,900 other workers will remain with the company, based in Calamba town, south of Manila, he said.

Fujitsu announced in Japan last month that it would sell an 80 per cent stake to Japanese rival Toshiba Corp.


Will Infosys BPO layoff 600 contract workers?

The business process outsourcing (BPO) arm of Infosys Technologies, Infosys BPO, reportedly terminated the services of over 600 contract workers in a staff redeployment exercise in February.

According to the report -- which appeared in a business daily -- the workers, who were on multi-year contracts, included temporary workers, whose exact numbers are not clear.

Incidentally, Infosys BPO is also adding another 2,000 workers by the end of March, which will raise its headcount above the 20,000 mark from around 18,000 at present, according to the news story.

Though company spokesperson maintained that no employee on the direct rolls of Infosys BPO has been laid off. HR industry sources, however, confirmed the development. Infosys’ staffing needs contractors include Adecco PeopleOne, Mafoi and TeamLease.

The country's second-largest software company recently said that it is looking at acquisitions in the BPO and KPO spaces. “We are looking at back office functions where the companies perform very unique services with their own platform or intellectual property,” said Infosys MD S Gopalakrishnan. “There are opportunities in traditional BPOs as well and we are not restricted to KPOs.”

Captives in banking and financial services, manufacturing, and telecom are still considered hot property. “Our acquisition guidelines have not changed in this environment. We will acquire the strategic fit first and then growth,” said Gopalakrishnan, adding that the target company should typically have a revenue of about $300-500 million. Infosys is also looking at smaller acquisitions in the range of $100-200 million.

“There is always more risk attached to the integration of a larger entity. However, if something smaller or bigger comes along we will definitely look at it,” said Gopalakrishnan.

As the company continues to focus on geographically non-English speaking countries such as France, Germany and Japan, it is not averse to acquisitions in other locations. “These are not mutually exclusive with the services offered by the company. If there is an opportunity to acquire a consulting company in the US, we will look at it,” Gopalakrishnan said.


Strong reactions by CEOs on BJP IT vision document

As most election manifestos go, BJP's IT Vision Document, recently put up on its official website, promises a lot - ranging from generating 1.2 crore new IT-enabled jobs in rural areas, introducing IT in education and healthcare services, to making available laptops at Rs 10,000 to 1 crore students and setting up Digital Security Agency.

Following are some of the reactions to the vision document from CIOs and CEOs CXOtoday spoke to.

Vivek Kulkarni, former IT secretary of Karnataka, who is now the chairman and CEO of BrickWork India, said, "The IT vision of BJP will really come handy for creation of new job opportunities in the IT and ITeS sector in India where we still have a large percentage of unemployed graduates struggling to provide their services for the growth of the country."

Sudhindra Mokhasi, founder & CEO of e-Sutra, sees the document as overall a comprehensive and ambitious statement of intent, especially the open source preference, e-governance thrust, wider last-mile internet access, 100 million low-cost computers, education and financing.

"In a few cases it's probably better to let the incremental approach like converting post offices into e-service centers and creating higher density of Internet kiosks to take root before attempting ambitious plans like smart phones for bank access for all BPL population," Mokhasi said.

Similarly more robust envisioning needs to be done to ensure that providers of the solutions are predominantly Indian IT companies so there is a full 360 degree of benefit to the Indian society," said Mokhasi.

In all, however, most of these vision statements are significantly focused on the infrastructure supply, education and empowerment side of the divide," he said.

Terming the document a positive intent, Ramakrishna Voruganti, managing director of Barracuda Networks (India), said, MNIC will help traceability of transactions and will result in better tax collections.

"Having an open standard and adaptation of open source will level the playing field for enterprises. The cyber security initiative and the establishment of DSA will provide enormous possibilities for Indian IT security professionals while providing opportunities for organizations like Barracuda Networks, who have been in the forefront of countering cyber threats," Voruganti said.

Ajay Dhir, CIO of Jindal Steel, said the multipurpose national identity card (MNIC) with unique citizen identification number for every Indian citizen is a good initiative. "Besides, the other schemes like IT-enabled jobs in rural areas, 1 crore students to get laptop computers at Rs 10,000 are all good schemes. Overall, one can say that it is a progressive vision."

The initiative to provide IT-enabled jobs was also welcomed by Voruganti especially since the government is acting a catalyst rather than as an agency.

"The linking of PHCs, schools and colleges, use of IT in agriculture, rural development, SMEs, retail trade, informal and unorganised will greatly impact at the grassroots, will improve the off-farm employment in the villages, and prevent labour migration," he said.

Some of the measures are populist, but that is expected during the polls, was the general sentiment about BJP's IT Vision Document.


Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Is Indian CEO confidence highest in world?

Indian CEOs expect their businesses to be less affected by the crisis in the international banking system than their global counterparts.

PricewaterhouseCoopers’ 12th Annual Global CEO Survey found only 50% of the respondents in India saying they were likely to be affected by the credit crisis, as compared to 70% globally.

India has recorded the highest CEO confidence levels amongst the emerging economies, with 70% expressing confidence about both short term and long term revenue growth, compared to just 21% and 34% globally. CEOs worldwide were gloomier about longer-term growth, predicting a slow recovery.

“This confidence is extremely significant since it signals the inherent strength of the Indian market, and its continuing potential for growth even in the face of crisis,” said Ramesh Rajan, chairman of PwC, India. Pessimism prevailed across all geographic regions, business sectors and levels of economic development, said the survey. Only 15% of CEOs in North America and 15% in Western Europe expressed confidence about growth prospects for the next 12 months. This compared with 21% in the emerging economies of Central and Eastern Europe, 31% in Asia Pacific, and 21% in Latin America.

The outlook for the next 12 months was optimistic for Indian CEOs as 89% of the respondents expect to make a return on investment in products or services provided, compared to 69% globally. 60% of Indian respondents said that they were likely to grow their businesses by penetrating existing markets better, compared to 37% globally.

Indian CEOs indicated that M&A activities were likely to play a greater role in the growth of their businesses than JVs or strategic alliances, in contrast with the global trend. 97% of Indian CEOs indicated that information about employee views and needs was important in making decisions about the long-term success and durability of their business, compared to 88% globally. The India figure was highest in Asia too.

For the survey, 1,124 interviews with CEOs were conducted in 50 countries during the last quarter of 2008.

Times of India

India will come out of slump faster, says RBI chief

India’s economic growth is expected to pick up faster than the rest of the world once a global revival begins, though it is difficult to predict when, the country’s central bank governor was quoted as saying.

In an interview with BBC World broadcast on Sunday, taken before he left for a meeting of G20 in London, RBI governor D Subbarao said Asia’s third biggest economy could be an engine for global growth.

“India can be a growth engine. Not that India can recover ahead of the world. But when recovery starts, India’s recovery is going to be sharp and rapid,’’ Subbarao said.

In January, the IMF cut its forecast for global growth in 2009 to a slight 0.5% — the weakest since World War II — from a November estimate of 2.2%.

Even though India’s exports account for 14% of its GDP, much lower than some of its Asian peers, Subbarao said the global crisis has hit the Indian economy through the financial and manufacturing sectors, and said it was difficult to predict the timing of the recovery.

The Indian economy has slowed sharply as exports were hit and consumer sentiment was dented. It is expected to expand at a six-year low of 7.1% from an average rate of around 9% in the last three years.

Subbarao said India’s financial sector remains sound, safe and well capitalized and this was because of prudent policy actions taken by the government and the central bank.

Since the global crisis hit India’s shores in September authorities have rolled out two stimulus packages, duty and rate cuts with the latest rate cut just last week to shore up growth.

G20 finance ministers on Saturday promised the IMF money to help troubled countries and said they would use their full fiscal and monetary firepower to combat the worst economic crisis since the 1930s. Subbarao said India has gained from globalisation and would not turn away from it. “Globalisation is a double edged sword. It comes with benefits and costs so I don’t think pulling out of the global system is an option for any country.’’


Monday, March 16, 2009

India to have more IT professionals than US

Infosys chief and co-founder S Gopalakrishnan has said that the Indian IT industry would tide over the current downturn and may surpass the US in terms of having the largest number of IT professionals in the world in the next three years.

“In the IT revolution, we are at the centre. We are underinvested, but that is an opportunity. A lot of investment is being done in R&D here because of the availability of talent. Our education system provides for that,” Infosys CEO and managing director Gopalakrishnan said.

Last week, India's second-largest software company Infosys said that it will be inducting almost 20,000 engineering graduates this year at over 8.3 per cent higher salary from what was offered last year, even as the company seeks to cope with a lower demand for software services in its top export markets of US and Europe.

According to the company, the offer letters and dates of joining have been sent to the 20,000 freshers (2008-09) and the process of joining the company will start from June this year. Last year, Infosys recruited almost 18,000 (2007-08) engineering graduates.


New technology that will allow users to talk to web

Giving a new dimension to the internet, the Indian research arm of the US-based IT giant IBM has developed a technology that will allow users to talk to the web and create voice sites using mobile phones.

"People will talk to the web and the web will respond. The research technology is analogous to the internet. Unlike personal computers it will work on mobile phones where people can simply create their voice sites," IBM India Research Laboratory Associate Director Manish Gupta said.

For this technology, IBM has developed a new protocol -- Hyperspeech Transfer Protocol (HSTP) -- which is similar to the Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP).

"India now has over 360 million cell phone subscribers. Last month we added 15 million," he said pointing out that the research technology targets ordinary mobile phone users, all of whom may not be literate.

The spoken web is a network of voice sites or interconnected voice and the response the company got in some pilot projects in Andhra Pradesh and Gujarat and the kind of innovations that people came up with were just mind-boggling, Gupta said.


Is India back on FDI radar despite recession?

At a time when the world economy is facing the worst credit freeze in several decades, India attracted USD 2.7-billion FDI in January, up 58.8 per cent from a year ago, and remained a favourite destination for cross-border investments.

"January numbers are very is an indication of the confidence that the rest of the world has in India," Secretary in the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion Ajay Shankar said.

The foreign direct investment (FDI) inflows for the April-January period aggregated to USD 23.8 billion and is expected to cross the last year's target of USD 25 billion this fiscal.

Though the government had set a target of USD 35-billion FDI for 2008-09, it looked rather ambitious in the wake of the global downturn.

Up to September this fiscal, the monthly inflows were in excess of USD 2 billion. However, the following three months saw a sharp dip in the overseas investments.

The January figures bring a renewed hope that India is back on the radar of global investors.


Sunday, March 15, 2009

Will Creative Technology layoff 300 jobs?

Struggling Singaporean digital entertainment products maker Creative Technology is to cut 300 jobs globally, mostly in Europe and the United States, the company said.

It said in a statement the company said that there would be a restructuring charge of 10 million dollars for severance payments and headcount cost reductions in the current third quarter ending March.

The Singapore-listed firm has struggled to make inroads against Apple's iconic iPod in the MP3 or digital music player market despite pumping in massive investments.

In the second quarter ended December 2008, Creative Technology racked up a net loss of 32.4 million dollars compared with a profit of 7.6 million dollars for the same period in the previous financial year.


Cut costs & beat recession with cloud computing

The global recession is taking a toll on every industry and the construction industry is no exception. However, Aurigo Software Technologies, a provider of software and solutions for the construction and real estate, is offering companies its web-based products on a cloud computing model to save on huge IT expenditure.

Established in the US in 2003, Aurigo launched its solution BRIX for the Indian market in early 2008. Aurigo has three customers in India now - RDS Projects, IDEB and Navin Housing. All three companies have opted for the cloud computing model, thereby reducing their burden in managing the IT infrastructure, investing in the server hardware and software components and also on the power that is a huge expenditure.

Talking to CXOtoday, Balaji Sreenivasan, Founder and CEO of Aurigo Software, said, "Cloud computing is becoming a necessary requirement by customers seeking to deploy IT solutions even in the construction and real estate industries and is here to stay for the long haul."

Cloud computing helps companies and end-users access solutions without the hassle of having to invest in the computing power (hardware and software) required to run that solution internally. So if you are using gmail or hotmail to access your email, you are already a cloud computing proponent.

"As customers generally do not own the infrastructure, they merely access or rent, they can avoid capital expenditure and consume resources as a service, paying instead for what they use," said Sreenivasan. Many cloud computing offerings have adopted the utility computing model, which is analogous to how traditional utilities like electricity are consumed, while others are billed on a subscription basis.

Other benefits of time-sharing style approach are low barriers to entry, shared infrastructure and costs, low management overheads and immediate access to a broad range of applications.

In fact, IDEB's cloud computing model is expected to go live within the next six months, while RDS Projects, which has multiple projects spread across six locations in the country is expected to go live in the next 8 weeks. The remotely located and managed servers belong to various server farm providers that are highly secure, ISO 9001:200 certified and are located across India with overseas backup mirror locations with a committed 99.96% uptime.

Since these projects are yet to go live it would take a minimum of six months to one year to assess the actual ROI. However, BRIX is fairly well deployed across the US and at the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT), which is involved in a $3 billion bridge reconstruction, they have experienced a near 40% boost in productivity. This was measured by computing the reduced time to carry out inspections, transmit the data and increased information retrieval speed after deploying BRIX. The solution has been delivered on the cloud computing model with the entire solution being hosted on a central server and accessed by all the stakeholders at ODOT.


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