Global Dispatches

An international news digest

Insurer Takes Control of Offshore Operations

LONDON -- Aviva PLC, an insurer in London, last week announced plans to transfer more than 5,000 business process outsourcing (BPO) staffers from several services firms based in India to its Aviva Global Services unit.

The process is slated to be completed by January 2008 and includes the transfer of third-party facilities in Bangalore and Pune, India, and in Colombo, Sri Lanka, to the Aviva unit. Financial details weren't disclosed.

A spokeswoman for Aviva Global Services said the proposed transition doesn't reflect any dissatisfaction with the insurer's BPO service providers in India -- ExlService Holdings Inc., 24/7 Customer Inc. and WNS Global Services Ltd. The shift is part of a plan that Aviva initiated in 2003 to outsource work to Indian contractors under a build-operate-transfer model, she said. Under that model, services firms set up and staff facilities that do work for Aviva, which can take control of the facilities and their workforces at a later date.

After the transition is completed, ExlService Holdings and 24/7 Customer will continue to operate BPO facilities for Aviva in Noida and Chennai, India, respectively, the spokeswoman said. Aviva expects to employ 7,800 internal and external BPO workers in India and Sri Lanka by the end of 2007.

-- John Ribeiro, IDG News Service

Performance Problems Plague Support Deal

SYDNEY, Australia -- Less than a year after signing a five-year IT outsourcing deal worth $200 million Australian ($152 million U.S.) with Kaz Group Pty., Australia's Department of Defence said it is experiencing network performance and service-delivery challenges.

Kaz, a Sydney-based subsidiary of Telstra Corp., is providing technology and network support services for 90,000 desktop systems across 325 Department of Defence sites, as well as round-the-clock support for the agency's IP-based, restricted-access WANs.

Defence Department officials declined to disclose details of the network support problems, but a spokesman said that the department is working to "address the underlying issues as quickly as possible." The spokesman didn't blame Kaz for the problems but said the remediation initiatives include the formation of teams to identify the cause of high call volumes to the IT service desk the company set up. Kaz declined to comment last week.

"It has been 10 months now since they took over, and things have gotten progressively worse," said a Department of Defence employee who requested anonymity. The employee's complaints included a 45-minute wait to get through to the help desk and "constant" outages.

-- Rodney Gedda, Computerworld Australia

Taiwan Chip Maker Files Complaint Against Rival

HSINCHU, Taiwan -- Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. has accused Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp. of breaking the terms of a January 2005 settlement agreement that ended a patent infringement lawsuit filed in a U.S. federal court.

In its new complaint, which was filed Aug. 25 in a California state court, TSMC contended that Shanghai-based SMIC continues to use its trade secrets. Hsinchu-based TSMC is seeking unspecified monetary damages and injunctive relief.

SMIC agreed to pay TSMC $175 million (U.S.) over six years to settle the patent lawsuit, which was filed in 2003. In addition, the companies cross-licensed their patents through December 2010. But TSMC claims that an audit of materials placed in escrow by SMIC as part of the settlement showed that the Chinese company had stolen trade secrets related to the production of microchips.

SMIC denied the allegations and accused TSMC of acting in bad faith. In a filing submitted last week to The Stock Exchange of Hong Kong Ltd., SMIC said it "has worked diligently to honor the [settlement] agreement and has complied with its terms."

-- Sumner Lemon, IDG News Service

Intel, Communist Party Team on Open-source

HO CHI MINH CITY, Vietnam -- Intel Corp. has agreed to help Vietnam's Communist Party move its computers to open-source software.

Under a memorandum of understanding, Intel will help the party's Central Committee for Science and Education set up a laboratory called OpenLab for developing and testing open-source technology. Over the next three years, the lab will oversee the installation of open-source software on about 27,000 PCs equipped with Intel processors, the chip maker said.

The party's use of open-source technology is part of a wider effort that the Vietnamese government started in 2004 to cut IT costs and promote the development of the country's local software industry. In February, Intel announced plans to build a $300 million test and assembly plant in Ho Chi Minh City. The company said at the time that it expected the plant to eventually employ about 1,200 workers.

-- Sumner Lemon, IDG News Service

BEA Taps India Facility As Its Development Hub

BANGALORE, India -- BEA Systems Inc. plans to make India its worldwide hub for research and development, a move that the software vendor's top executive said will let it take advantage of skilled workers in that country.

Alfred Chuang, BEA's chairman and CEO, said at a press briefing here that the San Jose-based company expects to increase the number of software developers and support workers at its operations in Bangalore to about 550 as soon as possible. BEA currently employs 205 developers and 70 support staffers in the city, according to Chuang.

BEA opened a new 60,000-square-foot facility in Bangalore prior to announcing the workforce expansion plan. Chuang noted that when the facility is fully staffed, it will be the company's largest development operation worldwide. Engineers in Bangalore work on BEA's WebLogic and AquaLogic products, Chuang said.

-- John Ribeiro, IDG News Service

Briefly Noted

  • Alcatel SA shareholders are being urged by Paris-based Proxinvest to reject the networking vendor's proposed merger with Murray Hill, N.J.-based Lucent Technologies Inc. Proxinvest said that strategic aspects of the agreement make sense but that the financial terms appear "quite unfavorable" to Alcatel shareholders. A U.S. advisory group, Institutional Shareholder Services Inc., supports the deal. -- Jeremy Kirk, IDG News Service

  • OneSteel Ltd., a steel maker in Sydney, Australia, has extended an IT services contract with Computer Sciences Corp. for three years. The contract is valued at about $50 million Australian ($38 million U.S.) and includes an option for two more years. El Segundo, Calif.-based CSC provides IT services at OneSteel's plants in Newcastle and Whyalla, Australia. -- Computerworld Australia

  • Bharti Airtel Ltd. has awarded LM Ericsson Telephone Co. a $1 billion (U.S.) contract to expand and upgrade the Delhi, India-based mobile services provider's network. Under the three-year agreement, Stockholm-based Ericsson will manage the deployment of Bharti Airtel's upgraded network to help the carrier expand in rural India. -- John Ribeiro, IDG News Service

  • Nokia Corp. in Espoo, Finland, said it plans to integrate intrusion-prevention software from Columbia, Md.-based Sourcefire Inc. into its network security appliances by year's end. Sourcefire's technology, which is based on the open-source Snort software, scans networks for suspicious activity, which it can block or report to administrators. -- Robert McMillan, IDG News Service

  • Greenpeace International has rated Nokia highly for its eco-friendly policies. But the Amsterdam-based environmental group gave low marks to Lenovo Group Ltd., Motorola Inc., Apple Computer Inc. and other vendors. Greenpeace scores companies on their use of hazardous chemicals and their recycling and equipment take-back policies. -- Jeremy Kirk, IDG News Service

Global Fact

$500M: Projected spending on servers and networking hardware by small and midsize businesses in India this year.

Source: Access Markets International Partners Inc., New York

Copyright © 2006 IDG Communications, Inc.

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