KAZ cuts a slice of food supplier's IT

KAZ Computer Services has won a four-year contract to provide IT outsourcing services to Sydney restaurant supplier Food Service Associates (FSA). Under the terms of the deal KAZ will provide hardware, asset management, help desk services and WAN/LAN support.

A KAZ spokesman said the services will also include support for FSA's sales representatives, who take laptop computers into the field as sales tools. The computers can be used to display pictures of food, provide nutritional analysis, display market trends and show stock levels, he explained.

"Under the technology provided by KAZ, the FSA sales team does not need to hunt for landlines for their laptops in customer premises," the spokesman said. "They are able to dial in through their mobile phones and can access on the spot information, such as pantry and buying habits, and can automatically upload sales information throughout the day. In the same process they are able to download orders to the central server at KAZ."

The type of information available via the laptop includes recipe ideas and detailed information, like cost-per-serve data, the spokesman said.

Telemedia extends Deutsche Telekom deal

Listed Australian communications software developer Telemedia Networks has extended a support contract with the value-added services division of German carrier Deutsche Telekom for an additional two years.

"We have had a very successful partnership with Deutsche Telekom since we began providing them with technical support two years ago and the renewal of this contract also gives us the opportunity to offer them a range of our other products and services," noted Chris Jones, chief executive of Telemedia.

Jones claimed that Deutsche Telekom has operations in 65 countries and recently took its first steps into the US with a $US50 billion bid for mobile telecoms company VoiceStream Wireless.

Telemedia services more than 130 installations for 69 telecommunications service providers in 35 countries, Jones added.

Smart card exports keep rolling out

Australia's small but vibrant smart card industry continues to chalk up solid exports with this week's winners - Intellect and Keycorp - picking up business in France and the Caribbean.

Intellect has been selected as a technology provider to the Vigik project being undertaken by the French Postal Service, La Poste, which aims to use smart cards to control access to about 700,000 buildings throughout France. La Poste is equipping its postmen with smart cards that will be used as electronic keys, which are validated daily on Intellect terminals installed in post offices. In the first stage of the project all post offices in cities with more than 25,000 people are being equipped with the Vigik system, which will eventually be rolled out to almost every French post office. Francis De Vrieze, chief marketing officer of Intellect, said the company will supply equipment built on its Microbank Home Terminal.

Keycorp, in which Telstra now holds a controlling stake, has won a contract to provide smart card technology to plastic card processing services company Caribbean CariCard Services. CariCard - which was set up as a joint venture between the Barbados Mutual Group and the Cave Shepherd retail store - will use Keycorp's Nobil Internet gateway to set up a payment acquiring platform for its electronic commerce solution, a spokesman explained. "Keycorp's Nobil platform will allow our online customers to make payments over the Internet with the most secure and complete Internet payment facility," he explained. Keycorp CEO Michael Thomes, said he expects the CariCard system to expand considerably to include debit processing.

Network Appliance gets flying Start

Network file management specialist Network Appliance has won a contract to supply a filing solution to Australian company Start Corporation, which provides online communications and community building tools. A spokesman said the system will be used to address impending demands for free e-mail services and to ensure the reliability of the company's network attached storage.

Starts' retail business has 350,000 registered users, and is adding more than 20,000 registrations a month. Its wholesale operation provides businesses with a suite of communications and community building products, including Web-based e-mail and messaging, and online diaries and organisers.

Michael Mak, technical director of Start, said that at the end of 1999 the company was experiencing problems with its original operating system in terms of back up, check disk and capacity restrictions. "Start is a 24-by-7 service and cannot afford to have down time. We needed a solution that would operate under those conditions".

Network Appliance provided its NetApp F700 filer, which stores all e-mail data from Start's retail and wholesale operations.

Open Telecommunications sells to Europe

Open Telecommunications (OT) has licensed a wireless telecommunications software product to UK company Thomson-CSF Racal Electronics, which will integrate the software into its Vector TETRA radio.

"This contract represents the first sale of our wireless software technology to a major European manufacturer," noted Wayne Passlow, OT's managing director.

"The order has significant strategic value in demonstrating to the main equipment manufacturers that OT has the ability to develop world class wireless software protocol products".

Passlow said that the contract was important because it demonstrated OT'sAbility to win significant telecommunications in Europe;Capability in leading edge wireless telecommunications technology; andBreadth and depth of telecommunications product range.

AAPT picked for community telco

AAPT has been selected as the commercial and strategic partner for the Bendigo Community Telco Group, which claims to be the first community telecommunications company in Australia. AAPT will provide the group, which includes many Bendigo businesses, with basic voice and data services, and will work with the group as it grows to become a regional services provider.

"The Bendigo Telco Group has set an important benchmark for other regional communities around Australia and we believe this model of delivering services to these areas can be adopted by other communities," noted Larry Williams, CEO of AAPT. "This is a landmark initiative for regional Australia."

AAPT will use its existing Victorian regional infrastructure, which is also used for the State Government's VicOne data communications contract. It will also expand its fibre, microwave and high-speed fixed wireless LMDS technology to deliver the services.

Singapore sets itself for recruitment warAustralia may have to lift its game in the face of stiff offshore competition if it wants to attract overseas IT skills to fill gaps in our workforce. Singapore is treating the IT shills shortage so seriously that "we must fight the global war for talent", according to Yong Ying-I, the CEO of the government's Infocomm Development Authority, which oversees strategic IT initiatives. "This is going to be the core of Singapore's effectiveness and if we don't win in this areas we may not win in any other area," she claimed.

Yong feels that with a population of slightly more than three million, Singapore faces an uphill battle to attract staff ahead of more lucrative offers from the US, Germany, the UK and - closer to home but no less eager - Australia.

A spokesman for IDC claimed that around 20 per cent off full time IT jobs in ASEAN countries cannot be filled because of a lack of skilled staff. It has been estimated that Australia will have a shortage of 30,000 skilled staff this year in an IT workforce of 300,000.

Besieged Microsoft pleads for relief

As the US Department of Justice's antitrust case against Microsoft proceeds apace the giant developer is seeking relief from the 62 consolidated, private, class action antitrust suits by asking that more than half of them be dismissed. At the same time, the company is coming under fire from the European Commission.

In the US, Microsoft has called on the US District Court to dismiss 37 of the consolidated cases against it on the grounds that indirect purchasers cannot sue for damages, and has quoted as a precedent a case involving concrete building blocks.

Stan Chesley, national co-chairman of the Microsoft private litigation, said the precedent does not apply because the Microsoft suits involve licensing rather than purchasing. He explained that a licence is required to operate software, so it requires direct interaction with Microsoft, and he compared it to buying a car and requiring a key to drive it.

In Germany, the European Commission is opening proceedings against Microsoft for alleged discriminatory licensing and refusal to supply information on the APIs for Windows. The investigation follows complaints by Sun Microsystems that Microsoft had abused its dominant market share in operating systems to leverage its position in server software. The EC agreed.

It is expected to be some months before the EC makes any findings, and it is not clear what action it can take against a US company, apart from imposing fines.

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