News Briefs

Novell launches Volera spinoff

In a long-anticipated move, Novell Inc. this month announced that it is spinning off its Net Content group into a separate firm called Volera Inc. The new company will market and develop Novell’s Internet Caching System and Content Exchange – its products for speeding the delivery of Internet content. Volera will receive investments from Nortel Networks Corp. and Accenture (formerly Andersen Consulting Inc.). In exchange for equity positions, Novell, Nortel and Accenture will give Volera more than US$80 million in cash, as well as consulting services. Simon Khalaf, former vice-president and general manager of Novell’s Net Content division, is Volera’s president. Drew Major, former chief scientist and CTO for the Net Content division, has been appointed CTO.

Former Bay CEO to head start-up

Router start-up Allegro Networks Inc. last week tapped industry veteran and former Bay Networks Inc. CEO Dave House as its new chairman, president and CEO. House was also president of Nortel Networks Corp. following Nortel’s acquisition of Bay Networks in 1998, and one of the key architects of microprocessor development and marketing at Intel. House assumes his new position at Allegro immediately. He was one of the key drivers behind the “Intel Inside” marketing campaign that made the microprocessor company a household name. Allegro was founded last year to develop a new router platform that would offer service providers an alternative to capital-intensive infrastructure build-outs.

Cisco misses earnings forecast

Cisco Systems Inc. has finally slipped. In a widely anticipated earnings announcement on Feb. 6, Cisco missed expectations for the second quarter of fiscal 2001. The company reported pro forma earnings of US$1.33 billion, or US$0.18 a share, on sales of US$6.75 billion. Wall Street had been expecting a profit of 19 cents per share, and Cisco usually beats expectations by a penny. Per-share earnings for the second quarter were flat from the first fiscal quarter of 2001. Regardless, Cisco stock ended up US$1.19 on Feb. 6 at the closing bell, an increase of 3.4 per cent. Cisco Chief Executive Officer John Chambers had been warning observers that the quarter was more challenging than expected, due to general economic conditions, including reduced spending by enterprises and service providers, and a shortage of components for key products. “It was even more challenging than anticipated,” Chambers said in an earnings call.

WorldCom sees promise in move to softswitches

WorldCom Inc. is starting a switch facelift on its mature voice and data backbones with the hope of erasing the inevitable aging process. The service provider is deploying softswitches in the U.S. and multiservice switches overseas that will offer better control over legacy platforms. Like most large service providers, WorldCom is moving away from circuit-switch technology. WorldCom is taking the softswitch route and will deploy six of the devices by year-end. Softswitches are server-based devices that manage voice calls from packet and circuit-switch nets. The devices also control a variety of gateways. One of the primary reasons WorldCom is deploying softswitches is to better support dial-up Internet access traffic over its voice network, said Fred Briggs, WorldCom’s chief technology officer. The new switches handle dial-up Internet traffic more cost-effectively than traditional Class 5 switches and have the capability to do voice over IP, he said. “This is not pie in the sky,” he added. “This is stuff that we are deploying today.”