Nortel Networks Corp. is helping companies integrate customers’ Web experiences with the assistance they receive from call centre agents, said John Roth, president and CEO of Nortel Networks Corp. during a keynote address opening the ComNet show in Washington, D.C.. Roth said the task for Nortel, which bought CRM software provider Clarify Inc. in October for US$2.1 billion in stock, is to develop the use of storage databases, allowing the agent to rapidly retrieve data about the customer, who in turn has already learned a lot about the company on the Web before talking with the agent.


Microsoft Corp. managed to beat itself to the punch recently, issuing the first patches to fix security holes in the much delayed Windows 2000 operating system – several weeks before its Feb.17 release date. Two security bugs were detected in Microsoft Index Server, search engine software found in both Windows NT and Windows 2000. The first could allow a malicious user to view, but not change, add or delete, files from a Web server, while the second could reveal the physical location of Web directories on the server, according to a security bulletin issued by Microsoft last week. The bulletin also said that the two glitches were unrelated except for the fact that they were both found in the Index Server. Visit for details.


At the same time Corel Corp. is taking the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) to court for its allegedly unfair procurement practices, it has won a “multi-million” dollar contract with the U.S. Department of Justice. Last month, Corel signed a three-year licensing deal for more than 55,000 seats of its Corel WordPerfect software. The deal, which Corel bills as a ‘site license’, also covers copies of WordPerfect Office 2000 Standard with Dragon NaturallySpeaking, WordPerfect Office 2000 and WordPerfect Law Office 2000. Corel announced last month that it has launched a lawsuit against the DOL after the Ottawa-based software vendor failed to win an $8 million contract.


NEC Corp. has announced a new encryption technology, CipherUnicorn-A, which it says is the strongest in the world. The technology is based on common key encryption, in which a single key is used for both the encoding and the decoding functions, but with a twist: as in other common key systems, a randomly generated master key, 128 bits in size, is first created. However, unlike in other systems, this is not used to encrypt or decrypt the file. NEC’s system creates an intermediate key of several thousand bits in length from the master key, and that serves as the base for the encryption process. The company plans to incorporate the system into its SecureWare security systems in mid-2000.


The company that has come to symbolize ’90s-style dot-com stock madness, and with a name that has become a verb (“to be Amazoned”), has made a rather disturbing announcement: Inc., dogged by losses despite sales growth, is eliminating 150 of its 7,500 jobs, or about 2 per cent of its positions. The cuts will occur across the company and are a result of an organization review, said Bill Curry, a spokesman for the Seattle-based retailer. For the third quarter of 1999, posted US$356 million in sales, but lost US$79 million.


Some ERP users are discovering that the software still isn’t flexible enough to handle all of their order entry and processing needs. Take the General Council of the Assemblies of God. Last month, the Springfield, Mo.-based organization of more than 11,000 Protestant churches delayed an installation of Oracle Corp.’s ERP system after learning the order entry module couldn’t handle a list of 16 functions needed by its catalogue sales operation. Such problems aren’t unique to Oracle; companies using applications from PeopleSoft Inc. and SAP AG also say the order entry modules aren’t up to snuff. Byron Miller, analyst at Giga Information Group, agreed that the growth of Internet-based sales and build-to-order manufacturing is putting pressure on packaged order entry applications.


It’s official – Lotus Development Corp. plans to pull the plug on its elder messaging product, cc:Mail, later this year. Lotus made the announcement at its annual Lotusphere user conference in Cambridge, Mass. The company plans to stop selling cc:Mail at the end of October. In a bid to focus strictly on the Notes/Domino client/server messaging platform, Lotus began de-emphasizing cc:Mail two years ago. Since then, Lotus has been maintaining the LAN-based product but has not offered new upgrades. cc:Mail’s installed base reached 15 million during its peak last year. Lotus shipped Notes and Domino 5.0 last April. Still, officials said only 25 per cent of Lotus’ installed base of 56 million messaging seats have migrated to the new release.


In a not-so-surprising twist, the Internet “universe” exploded in 1999, increasing from 97 million U.S.-based users in February to 119 million in December, according to Nielsen/NetRatings. The Internet measurement service defines the Internet universe as users who had access from their homes but didn’t necessarily go on-line. Among the findings: the gender gap has leveled out on the Internet, and is nearly evenly split. Also, users are going to fewer sites but viewing more pages per site. The average user visited 15 different sites in February, but that decreased to nine by December. And the Internet wasn’t part of the last-minute holiday buying rush due to several concerns, probably including worries that gifts might not be delivered in time.


More ‘net numbers: according to a new report from market analyst firm Gartner Group Inc., business to business (B2B) e-commerce will continue its rapid growth, generating US$7.29 trillion in sales transactions worldwide in 2004. The B2B market, worth US$145 billion in 1999, will make up a full 7 per cent of the forecasted $105 trillion in total global sales in four years time, the study found. The business of establishing e-commerce capabilities – for start up companies and traditional brick and mortar companies – will itself be a driving factor in the growth of B2B e-commerce, what Gartner Group calls “e-market maker activity.” The report estimates that such activity will make up 37 per cent of the B2B e-commerce market, worth US$2.71 trillion, by the year 2004.


IBM Corp. gained the most U.S. patents in 1999 – the seventh consecutive year that it has held the honour, according to IFI Claims Patent Services’ annual Patent Intelligence and Technology Report. IBM was awarded 2,789 patents in 1999, more than the 2,682 it gained in 1998 and 37 per cent more than the next nearest company, Japan’s NEC Corp., which gained 1,853 patents in the year. IBM received most of its patents in the area of “information processing systems” followed by “data processing and database management,” and led both sectors. Among the twelve companies that received more than 1,000 patents in the year, Japanese companies dominated with eight of the 12 positions.


Vendors jockeying for position in the crowded but lucrative load-balancing market space may be left in the cold if LAN switches become smart enough to successfully bridge and manage the IP address gap between the router and the switch on their own. “From a customer perspective, if you’re telling them there’s one fewer device on their network that doesn’t need managing…that’s going to be something to go for,” said Esmeralda Silva, senior analyst at International Data Corp. Switch suppliers including Arrowpoint, Foundry, and load-balancing pioneer Altion are developing ways to provide and integrate URL, cookie, and SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) switching-functions directly onto their switches to expedite packet delivery to the servers, Silva said.


The year 2000 bug slowed global PC sales by two per cent in the fourth quarter of 1999, but sales still grew nearly 22 per cent over 1998, Dataquest, a division of Gartner Group Inc., announced last month. Worldwide, shipments topped 113.5 million units, Dataquest said. In the U.S. alone, the market grew 21.6 per cent in 1999 over the previous year, with 43.8 million units shipped. Dataquest’s findings for the market growth in 1999 are very similar to predictions made by International Data Corp. late last year. Compaq Computer Corp. remained the top vendor worldwide, while Dell Computer Corp. surpassed others in the U.S. for 1999.