Global Dispatches

An international news digest

Munich Starts Delayed Desktop Linux Rollout

MUNICH, Germany -- Munich’s municipal government last week began migrating its desktop PCs to Linux, a year later than originally planned and nearly three years after the city announced that it would move to the open-source software.

The migration work started on Tuesday, and by Thursday the first 100 of the city’s 14,000 PCs had been switched from Microsoft Corp.’s Windows operating system and Office applications to Debian Linux and the OpenOffice suite. The number of migrated systems is expected to double by the end of the year, said Florian Schiessl, the city’s Linux project manager.

“There have been some delays along the way, but we’re now moving steadily ahead,” Schiessl said. “Today, we’re still working in both the Windows and Linux worlds. But over the next two years, the Linux world will get bigger, while the Windows world will get smaller.”

However, a full migration to Linux is “unrealistic,” Schiessl added. Some of the hardware and software products that are used by the city’s administration will continue to require Windows, he said. Apple Computer Inc. systems will also still be used, particularly for desktop publishing, said Schiessl.

-- John Blau, IDG News Service

Insurer to Outsource 500 IT Jobs to India

LONDON -- Aviva PLC’s U.K. operation plans to outsource about 500 IT jobs to offshore services firms in India as part of a broader realignment plan that’s designed to reduce its annual operating costs by 10%.

The reorganization, which was announced earlier this month, calls for reducing the London-based insurer’s U.K. workforce by a total of 4,000 people through a combination of offshoring and layoffs. Aviva, which operates in the U.K. under the name Norwich Union PLC, currently has about 36,000 employees in the country.

Aviva said it plans to shift the IT jobs to Wipro Ltd. and Tata Consultancy Services Ltd. In addition, the company will transfer about 1,000 marketing, human resources and finance positions from the U.K. to its Aviva Global Services unit in Pune, India. The shift of the business jobs is tied to a plan announced late last month under which Aviva Global Services will take control of several third-party business process outsourcing (BPO) facilities in India and Sri Lanka.

The restructuring in the U.K. is expected to result in annual savings of ¿250 million ($470 million U.S.) starting in 2008, Aviva said. However, the company added that the various moves will cost it an equal amount between now and the end of next year.

Combined, Wipro and Tata already have about 1,500 IT staffers who are working on projects for Aviva, according to a spokeswoman for the insurer. Meanwhile, Aviva has about 6,000 business workers in India and Sri Lanka, a figure that includes employees of Aviva Global Services and the BPO companies that do work for the insurer.

-- John Ribeiro, IDG News Service

Indian Government Revamps Web Portal

BANGALORE, India -- India’s government last week launched an enhanced version of its Internet portal, adding new dynamic and interactive capabilities along with links to about 5,000 Indian Web sites.

The updated site, built jointly by IBM and India’s National Informatics Centre (NIC) in New Delhi, is used to deliver government information to Indian citizens. The first version of the National Portal of India was set up last year as a static Web site.

The enhanced portal provides a single point of entry to government information with a single sign-on, said R.Dhamodaran, a vice president at IBM India Ltd. in Bangalore.

The NIC, part of the Indian government’s Department of Information Technology, hosts the portal and provides its network backbone as well as e-governance technology and services. The agency uses Linux-based hardware and various software products from IBM to support the portal.

-- John Ribeiro, IDG News Service

Ericsson Sets Plan to Create Multimedia Unit

STOCKHOLM -- LM Ericsson Telephone Co. this month announced plans to reorganize its business operations and hire 500 new engineers for a multi¿media technology unit that the communications equipment vendor intends to set up.

Carl-Henric Svanberg, president and CEO of Stockholm-based Ericsson, said that next year the company will be restructured into three operating units focused on networks, global services and multimedia.

Most of the engineers to be hired by the multimedia group will be based in Sweden, Svanberg said. They will be charged with helping Ericsson better understand multimedia services and how demands for the technology might change in the future, he added.

The new group will also try to better leverage technology developed by Sony Ericsson Mobile Communications AB, the company’s mobile phone joint venture with Sony Corp.

-- Nancy Gohring, IDG News Service

Unisys to Add Two IT Facilities in India

BANGALORE, India -- Unisys Corp. last week said it plans to open two more IT services delivery centers in India as part of a plan to add 6,000 offshore jobs by 2008.

Unisys, which already has a facility in Bangalore, said it plans to open a second one in the city’s Whitefield suburb sometime next month. A third Indian facility, to be located in Hyderabad, is expected to begin operations in next year’s second quarter, the IT equipment and services vendor said.

The Blue Bell, Pa.-based company didn’t disclose how many employees it plans to hire to staff the new facilities.

Unisys opened its existing operation in Bangalore two years ago. Staffers at that facility work on application development and support, software maintenance, systems integration, IT and business process outsourcing, and internal IT administration functions.

-- John Ribeiro, IDG News Service

Briefly Noted

The University of Melbourne in Australia has signed an internship and hiring agreement with Satyam Computer Services Ltd. in Hyderabad, India. Each year, Satyam will provide up to 10 software development internships to university students and hire 20 software engineering graduates. The university and the IT services firm will also conduct joint research on grid computing and other technologies.

-- Darren Pauli, Computerworld Australia

Intel Corp.’s venture capital arm has purchased an unspecified ownership stake in ADA Cellworks SDN, a company in Selangor, Malaysia, that provides planning services for radio-based networks. ADA plans to use the funding from Intel Capital to expand its business into services for WiMax networks.

-- Sumner Lemon, IDG News Service

The Australian Computer Society said last week that the unemployment rate for IT professionals in Australia has fallen to 5.1%, its lowest level since the turn of the century. That finding was based on the society’s annual survey of its members on IT and communications employment. The ACS said this year’s results compare with IT unemployment rates of 7.2% last year, 10.6% in 2004 and 12.4% in 2003.

-- Michael Crawford, Computerworld Australia

Dell Inc. has selected Chennai, the capital of the state of Tamil Nadu in southern India, as the location for its first PC manufacturing plant in that country. The company plans to begin making desktops in Chennai by mid-2007. The facility, which will serve the Indian market, will be able to produce about 400,000 PCs annually, Dell said.

-- John Ribeiro, IDG News Service

BT Group PLC has awarded ZTE Corp., a telecommunications equipment maker in Shenzhen, China, a contract to develop mobile handsets. The deal calls for ZTE to develop third-generation handsets that support the DAB-IP standard for streaming TV and digital radio to mobile devices, the Chinese company said. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.

-- Sumner Lemon, IDG News Service

Global Fact

  • 35%
Projected percentage of the 3.4 million electric meters in Sweden that will be connected to mobile networks by 2010.

Source: Berg Insight, Gothenburg, Sweden

Compiled by Mike Bucken.

Copyright © 2006 IDG Communications, Inc.

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