Global Dispatches

An international news digest

TruEnergy, IBM Sign Outsourcing Deal

MELBOURNE, Australia -- TruEnergy last week signed a 10-year outsourcing deal with IBM Australia Ltd. The energy company, which is based here, said the deal would likely lead to the layoff of up to 200 IT workers.

Under the agreement, St. Leonards-based IBM Australia will assume responsibility for running TruEnergys customer registration, billing, credit and collections systems, as well as application development, technical support and infrastructure maintenance.

IBM said that client service and product delivery will be handled in its Australian office, while certain back-office functions will be managed from IBM Daksh in Bangalore, India.

TruEnergy Managing Director Richard McIndoe said that IBM will be developing systems that are compatible with the government of the state of Victorias new advanced interval meters, which enable customers to monitor their electricity use.

McIndoe said the 200 workers likely to be laid off are eligible to apply for 30 new positions in the companys retail operations. Others may be hired by the outsourcer, he noted.

-- Sandra Rossi, Computerworld Australia

U.K.s House of Lords Probes Privacy Issues

LONDON -- The British House of Lords Constitution Committee has launched an inquiry into the governments surveillance and data collection techniques.

Last month, the committee began a study of how an increased focus on surveillance and data collection affects the privacy of individuals and their relationship with the government.

The inquiry comes as the U.K. government is pushing for increased data sharing among public-sector agencies through programs such as a national identification card system.

The committee will determine what forms of surveillance or data collection are constitutional and whether the 1998 Data Protection Act offers sufficient protection for U.K. citizens.

The nature and extent of surveillance and data collection have changed dramatically in recent years, said Lord Richard Holme of Cheltenham, chairman of the committee. The broad constitutional implications of these changes have not thus far been sufficiently closely scrutinized.

-- Tash Shifrin, Computerworld U.K.

Singapore to Issue $1.5B in IT Contracts

SINGAPORE -- Singapores government expects to award IT contracts worth up to $2.23 billion Singapore ($1.5 billion U.S.) during the fiscal year that began April 1, as part of an effort to expand the public sectors use of technology.

The Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore said late last month that the largest contract up for tender is for the Standard Operating Environment project, which is worth about $1.5 billion Singapore ($987 million U.S.) over eight years. The projects goal is to standardize the desktop, messaging and networking products used by Singapore government agencies.

In addition, the government will offer more than 340 contracts worth an estimated $730 million Singapore ($480 million U.S.).

Those projects include building the Integrated Enterprise Information System for National Service Management for the Ministry of Defense; the Future Responder and Immigration Facial Screening Systems for the Ministry of Home Affairs; and the Title Automated Registration System for the Singapore Land Authority.

-- Sumner Lemon, IDG News Service

Satyam Adds Sydney Development Center

SYDNEY -- Indian outsourcer Satyam Computer Services Ltd. has added to its Australian operations by opening a 150-seat development center in North Sydney.

Deepak Nangia, Australia and New Zealand country manager for Hyderabad-based Satyam, said that with the new facility, the company now employs 250 developers in Sydney and 450 in Melbourne. The 700 developers in Australia are the most Satyam has in any country outside of India.

The new office, which Nangia called a regional solutions hub, specializes in process design, software architecture and application development.

The DNA of this office will be solution architects, modelers and integration experts, Nangia said. Sydney has the capability to cater to this skill set, and it has the ability to look beyond development.

Satyams Asia-Pacific senior vice president, Virender Aggarwal, said the companys business is growing well in Australia.

Our focus is to become a local, Australian company, he said, and we are hiring local staff and graduates.

-- Rodney Gedda, Computerworld Australia

IT Staffing Problems Ease in Great Britain

LONDON -- A shortage of IT expertise that has plagued U.K. businesses in recent years appears to be easing, according to research conducted by E-Skills UK, a London-based training agency.

In its latest quarterly bulletin, the nonprofit, corporate-funded agency said a survey of corporate recruiters throughout the U.K. found that just 6% of firms recruiting IT staff during the third quarter of 2006 experienced widespread skills shortages.

E-Skills said the result represented the lowest percentage of respondents encountering skills shortages in more than two years, even though demand for IT skills is increasing.

The survey did reveal that employers remain concerned about a lack of nontechnical skills among candidates for IT vacancies. About one-third of the IT recruiters said the level of business and interpersonal skills of candidates was below that required by their business.

In addition, the survey found that there were still shortages of IT workers in specific categories, including senior systems developers and senior programmers.

-- Tash Shifrin, Computerworld U.K.

Briefly Noted

AOL LLC has launched a Web portal in India that combines services like instant messaging and e-mail with local content from Indias film industry and other sources. The AOL offering will compete with portals already established in India by Yahoo Inc., Microsoft Corp. and others. AOL opened its first Indian operation, a customer service center in Bangalore, in 2002.

-- John Ribeiro, IDG News Service

Hynix Semiconductor Inc. announced late last month that it has broken ground on a 3.8 trillion won ($4.1 billion U.S.) chip factory in Chongju, South Korea. Hynix, based in Ichon, South Korea, plans to produce NAND flash memory chips, which are mainly used in digital music players and flash memory cards, at the new facility. The plant is expected to open next year.

-- Dan Nystedt, IDG News Service

CA Inc. has signed up outsourcing vendor Achievo Corp. to support its Chinese customers. Under terms of the agreement, San Ramon, Calif.-based Achievo will provide implementation, customization and maintenance services for CA software used in China. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

-- Sumner Lemon, IDG News Service

Telefonica SA in Madrid has agreed to acquire a 10% stake in Rome-based Telecom Italia SpA for ¬2.3 billion ($3.1 billion U.S.). The deal ends months of speculation about the future of the Italian telecommunications firm, which has attracted a number of suitors, including AT&T Inc. and America Movil SA in Anahuac, Mexico.

-- John Blau, IDG News Service

Several U.K.-based and international firms last week launched a consortium whose goal is to create programs to reduce the environmental impact of IT systems in England. The Green Technology Initiative, whose founders include Cisco Systems Inc., Saatchi & Saatchi Interactive, EDF Energy PLC and Global Crossing Ltd., aims to show companies how to use existing technology to reduce energy use and carbon dioxide emissions from IT equipment.

-- Tash Shifrin, Computerworld U.K.

Compiled by Mike Bucken.

Copyright © 2007 IDG Communications, Inc.

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