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Oracle Corp. is in talks to buy all or part of Hewlett-Packard Co.’s middleware product portfolio, Oracle chairman and chief executive officer Larry Ellison confirmed recently.

“We talked to them about it,” said Ellison in a session with reporters after he delivered a keynote speech at the recent Oracle World conference. He would not say what stage the talks are at, but did say that buying HP’s middleware business would be a “tiny” acquisition, comparable to Oracle’s take-over of WebGain Inc.’s developer tools. It is unclear which HP middleware products Oracle has an eye on. The HP portfolio includes a J2EE application server, a transaction server, a messaging server, various XML tools, its eSpeak software for building network-based services and its Process Manager business-modelling tool.

3G reaches more than 10 million users

Third-generation (3G) wireless networks are already a reality to more than 10 million users worldwide, and the figure is set to grow by more than 1 million subscribers per month, said Perry LaForge, executive director, CDMA Development Group, at this year’s 3G World Congress held in Hong Kong.

Currently, 3G networks based on the cdma2000 1X standard, are commercially available in Korea, Japan, Europe, North America and Latin America, he said. In Korea, telecom companies SK Telecom and KT Freetel have gone further to commercially deploy cdma2000 1XEV-DO networks, which theoretically provide data speeds of up to 2.4Mbps, compared to cdma2000 1X’s theoretical maximum of 307Kbps.

Dell eyes corporate networking

Following its entrance last September into the small and medium business networking market, Dell Computer Corp. recently announced its expansion into enterprise networking.

The move follows Dell’s migration from PCs into servers, and Kim Crawford, the company’s networking division vice-president, made it clear Dell plans to drive deeply into networking hardware with Layer 3 routers, 10-Gigabit Ethernet and possibly even chassis switches in the not-too-distant future. Analysts say that decision could mean lower prices for users. Dell’s first two offerings, a 1U Fast Ethernet switch with 48 ports with two gigabit Ethernet uplinks, and a 1U Gigabit Ethernet switch with 24 ports, are priced at US$1,499 and $2,499, respectively.

IT execs bullish on wireless

Four out of five Canadian IT executives believe mobile computing is the “wave of the future,” according to a recent Intel Canada survey. Improvements in efficiency (90 per cent) and greater staff productivity (71 per cent) are the most commonly cited reasons behind the movement toward mobility.

The survey shows that 81 per cent of IT decision makers plan to invest in new laptop computers over the next 18 to 24 months, with 32 per cent of decision makers planning to increase overall budget expenditure on laptop computers during this period. More than half of those surveyed believe that workers who have laptop computers tend to be happier than those who remain tethered to a desktop PC.

Linux message moves to Wall Street

IBM Corp. recently announced plans to open a technology centre in New York City devoted to encouraging financial services companies to deploy Linux. IBM’s Linux Center of Competence will get its start with a US$1 million investment from IBM.

The Madison Avenue centre, which is scheduled to open in September, will provide hands-on access to hardware, software and services from IBM and its partners. Prospective Linux users will be able to test applications running on the open source operating system and take advantage of training programs and technical expertise. IBM business partners including J.D. Edwards & Co., SunGard Data Systems Inc., Sybase Inc. and Veritas Software Corp. also will provide software for the testing environment.

New version of Office due in 2003

The next version of Microsoft Office, code-named Office 11, will be released next May, Microsoft Corp. announced recently at the PC Expo/TechXNY conference in New York. Office product manager Nicole von Kaenel pointed out four areas where Office will be upgraded. The user interface in Outlook has been changed to split its window vertically, instead of horizontally, as it is now. Office will also have better XML connectors, so users can automatically transfer data from their line of business applications to Office applications. She also said there would be tighter integration between Office 11 and SharePoint. The final upgrade will allow users to place unstructured data, such as that from a drawing table, directly into a structured document, such as a Microsoft Word or text file.

Storage facility opens in Moncton

Moncton, N.B., is now home to a new Enterprise Storage Centre, housed at xwave’s data centre. According to xwave, the centre will serve as one of the only sites in Atlantic Canada to allow businesses and other organizations to view, test and validate best practices and proofs of concept in utility-based enterprise data storage management. HP Canada provided $1 million worth of storage area network (SAN) technology to the new centre. With the amount of data stored by computers doubling annually, storage management solutions becoming increasingly complex and the need to implement data protection and recovery solutions greater than ever, a rapidly growing number of enterprises are looking for viable SAN solutions to address these needs, says xwave.

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