FRAMINGHAM (07/07/2000) - Lane departs Oracle unceremoniouslyRay Lane's eight years of achievement as president and chief operating officer of Oracle Corp. were reduced to a six-sentence press release on June 30 when the company announced his sudden resignation. Those six sentences included these three platitudes attributed to Oracle CEO Larry Ellison: "I am grateful to Ray for all of his efforts. He will be missed. We wish him nothing but the best." No reason was given for his departure, and Lane did not respond to a request for an interview. Lane was hired from consulting firm Booz, Allen & Hamilton in 1992, when Oracle was stumbling. He's widely credited with getting the company back on track, partly through his own efforts, but also through hiring key executives like CFO Jeff Henley. No successor has been named, and according to published accounts, Ellison may divide Lane's duties among Henley and two other executive vice presidents, Gary Bloom and Safra Catz.

Network processors poised for growth

Network processors, which add quality-of-service capabilities and increased bandwidth to switches and routers, will change the network industry as they replace conventional semiconductor components, says consultancy International Data Corp. (IDC) of Framingham, Massachusetts. Network processors are optimized for performing communications functions and combine the best attributes of Reduced Instruction Set Computing microprocessors and Application Specific Integrated Circuits in a single device. IDC estimates that revenues from network processors will grow from less than $41 million in 1999 to more than $560 million in 2003. While they will have their greatest use in networked systems, they will also be used increasingly in wireless communications.

IBM opts out of EMC-led alliance

IBM Corp.'s NUMA-Q unit recently resigned from the 50-member EMC Corp.-led FibreAlliance storage-area network (SAN) management standards organization, claiming the group wasn't "addressing the issues of interoperability and open standards for SANs." The NUMA-Q unit, which makes high-end Intel-based servers running Unix, was heavily reliant on EMC to provide it with powerful storage devices. "We feel that the FibreAlliance has resulted in an EMC-centric solution set and not a vendor-agnostic initiative," says Glenn Sullivan, an IBM product manager. However, IBM will remain in the Storage Networking Industry Association and the Fibre Channel Industry Association in an effort to maintain open standards and interoperability, Sullivan says. An EMC spokesman threw blame for the falling out back at IBM. "IBM is backing away from industry standards," he says, adding that Big Blue "is clearly putting competitive issues over the need for open standards."

Meanwhile, IBM and Compaq Computer Corp. last week announced an agreement to sell each other's storage network products and ensure interoperability between their products. The two companies intend for the agreement to speed customer acceptance of open storage network technology, Compaq said in a statement.

Microsoft adds legal muscle

Microsoft Corp. last week strengthened its legal team by hiring a law firm that has expertise in Supreme Court matters. Attorney Carter Phillips and his Washington, D.C. law firm Sidley & Austin will help Microsoft argue that its antitrust case appeal should be heard by a federal appeals court and not sent directly to the Supreme Court for review. The new legal team will work alongside Microsoft's lead trial counsel, Sullivan & Cromwell, a Microsoft spokesman said. The U.S. District Court judge overseeing Microsoft's case, acting on a request from the Department of Justice, recommended last month that Microsoft's appeal be heard directly by the Supreme Court. It's up to the Supreme Court to decide whether it will actually accept the case.

Papows setting post-Lotus course

Former Lotus Development Corp. CEO Jeff Papows, who virtually disappeared from view after his January resignation, has resurfaced on the board of directors of one of Lotus' largest business partners and says he has a new "CEO role settled to be announced this fall." Papows was named to the IT Factory board last week and will advise the company on its acquisition strategy. IT Factory is known for its component-based development tools and prebuilt collaborative applications. Papows, who continues to work with Lotus as it transitions to his successor Al Zollar, was stung last year by a series of stories alleging that he misrepresented his biographical, military and academic records. He also was named in a sexual discrimination complaint brought by a former Lotus executive.

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