2002 was certainly an interesting year in IT.

Security finally became a reoccurring theme, WorldCom imploded, .Net started to take off, Microsoft won another important court battle, a whole lot of corporate buying went on (think IBM/PwC and HP/Compaq) and the IT economy struggled like never before.

To help make sense of the past 12 months, we at ComputerWorld Canada decided to take a stab at choosing the top 10 stories for the year, presented here in no particular order.

1. IBM buys PwC

In a move to beef up its already substantial consulting services, IBM Corp. agreed to buy PwC Consulting for US$3.5 billion. The move will bolster IBM Global Services, which is already the industry’s leading IT services provider, with about 150,000 employees worldwide.

“The rich get richer,” is how Stephen Lane, research director of IT services with the Aberdeen Group in Boston, referred to the deal.

2. HP-Compaq merger: canada style

Compaq Computer Corp. and Hewlett-Packard Co. wasted little time in creating a new corporate structure and product roadmap for the Canadian marketplace. Paul Tsaparis continued as president and CEO of HP Canada, the new creation. But the company kept mum about how many jobs would be lost in Canada.

And the ones who got rich on the deal so far? The lawyers who fought for and against the merger.

3. Outsourcing

Lots and lots of Canadian outsourcing deals. Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce handed over control of its IT infrastructure to Hewlett-Packard Canada in a deal valued at more than $2 billion. Hydro One Networks announced an agreement with Cap Gemini Ernst & Young Canada to create Inergi LP to manage and operate its business and technology services over the next 10 years, in a deal worth an estimated $1 billion. Scotiabank signed a deal with IBM Canada Ltd. worth $900 million over seven years.

4. Web hosting nightmare

With Web host Exodus Communications’ bankruptcy and closure of some locations, and the disclosure of WorldCom’s US$3.85 billion accounting blunder, it is hardly surprising companies were a little gun shy when choosing a Web hosting solution. Supriyo Sen, CTO of Tucows, came up with a new calculation. He placed a value of around 15 per cent of any Web hosting deal for peace of mind that the company won’t go under.

5. .Net vs. java

Arguing the virtues of .Net over J2EE or vice versa is as productive as arguing the virtues of Coke over Pepsi – both are here to stay, both offer similar benefits and features, and neither is a clear winner over the other. This was the conclusion arrived at by participants at a roundtable discussion at the BorCon conference in Anaheim, Calif.

6. Security’s uphill battle

At the Comdex 2002 show in Toronto an entire track was devoted to security and biometrics. Though the talks were well attended, two common refrains were heard; “we just don’t have the money” and “management needs to be more on board.”

And CTO of Counterpane Bruce Schneier’s take? “We saw a huge spike in interest after 9/11. Security was the flavour of the moment for a few months, but not any more.”

7. 10,000 unfilled jobs in Ontario

Nothing, and we mean nothing, generated even half the reader e-mail this story did. Many of you, shall we say, took issue with the story. It reported that, in 2002, companies in Ontario would be looking to fill 38,000 IT jobs – 9,900 more than the available pool of workers, according to the Information Technology Association of Canada, analyst firm IDC Canada, and Aon Consulting.


2002 was a tough year for all the sectors of the economy, and with farther to fall, IT may have felt it worse than most. Trade shows, traditionally a nice perk for overworked IT grunts, showed low levels of attendance. Maybe it had something to do with all the Cheap Trick and Aerosmith concerts. Microsoft changed its licensing program, viewed by many as a cash grab. SAP chief Hasso Plattner agreed to put its flagship software R/3 on a diet, removing as much as 50 per cent of the unused functionality. And Nortel announced it would cut 7,000 jobs. Yes, tough times for all.

9. Microsoft

A so-so year for the folks in Redmond, Wash. A recent court decision approved most provisions of a deal between the software giant, the U.S. Department of Justice and nine of the states that sued the software maker.

The industry was also encouraged that Bill Gates decided to make security a priority. Users were somewhat less encouraged when Microsoft tweaked its enterprise licensing scheme, which some said would ultimately force them to pay more. And XP, launched at the end of 2001, felt the brunt of a slow IT growth and never gained the install base many envisioned.

10. Handhelds, tablets and phones

With new PDAs from Dell, Palm, ViewSonic and Hewlett-Packard all hitting the shelves within weeks of each other, it would seem that there’s a handheld revolution on the horizon. Microsoft, along with several hardware and software vendors, finally launched the pen-based Tablet PC in early November. And Motorola announced partnerships designed to prime the pump for Java applications on mobile phones.