IBM expands IT security lab

IBM hopes to contribute $50 million to Australian IT export revenues over the next five years by increasing headcount at its Gold Coast-based security software lab by 65.

Set up in 1999, the IBM Tivoli Security Lab develops security, e-business and Web service technologies, as well as integration capabilities with other major software makers' products.

"IBM's investment will substantially increase the ability of the IBM Tivoli Security Lab to meet the emerging security needs ot IBM's customers throughout the Asia Pacific...making it easier for customers to manage the security of their e-bsuiness and Web services platforms," IBM said in a statement today.

The lab will focus on four core areas of security management: access management, identity management, threat managment and privacy management.

The lab currently employs 35 software developers. IBM said it "plans to create" 65 new jobs at the lab for professional software developers by the end of 2003.

The Queensland Department of State Development will back IBM in its QLD expansion drive with payroll tax exemptions and training support for employees. However, an IBM spokesperson would not disclose specifics on the level of tax exemptions or training subsidies.

The creation of 65 new roles at the lab was announced in the wake of reports this week Big Blue is undertaking a $US2 billion worldwide cost-cutting drive, making 700 employees redundant this week.

The spokesperson did not say if the new job creations were a result of IBM Australia's "redeployment" options, under which the company will redeploy some local staff.

This afternoon a local company spokesperson said of the plan: "We are talking to some people about redeployment options to other parts of our business where there is continuing growth," adding such changes are a "normal part of business operations".

The plan follows IBM chief executive Sam Palmisano's announcement to Wall Street analysts in New York this week the company would seek to follow its 6 per cent drop in quarterly revenue with a a 6 per cent cut in jobs - equivalent to 20,000 employees. IBM is also tightly controlling new hires.

As a result of normal attrition, every year some 15,000 people leave the 318,000-person employee company.

IBM regularly cuts jobs, but these are expected to be the biggest round of layoffs since the early 1990s.

(Siobhan Chapman contributed to this report.)

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