Briefs: Wal-Mart Spins Off a dot-com

Wal-Mart won't be just your neighborhood retailing behemoth anymore. The heaviest of the brick-and-mortar heavyweights this week announced that it will create a Palo Alto independent company -- Wal-Mart.com -- in order to speed development of its online retail site. Venture capital firm Accel Partners will join with Wal-Mart in the undertaking. The Wal-Mart.com board will include Wal-Mart Chairman Rob Walton; Lee Scott, vice-chairman and chief operating officer of Wal-Mart; and James Breyer, managing partner of Accel.

Short-Time CEO Out at Baan

Baan CEO Mary Coleman resigned this week after less than a year at the helm of the troubled maker of enterprise resource planning software. In a concurrent announcement, Baan reported it would close 14 branch offices and reduce its worldwide work force by about 4 percent in an attempt to reverse the company's recent misfortunes. Baan has incurred losses over the past five quarters, amid restructuring and a drop in revenue for its core ERP business. The current chairman of the Baan supervisory board, Pierre Everaert, will serve as interim CEO while the search for a permanent CEO of the business software maker is under way, Baan said in its statement. Baan has headquarters in both the Netherlands and Reston, Virginia.

Nortel Buys DSL Switch Vendor

Nortel Networks plans to buy digital subscriber line (DSL) switch specialist Promatory Communications for US$778 million in stock. By snapping up Promatory, Nortel gains access to Promatory's ATM-based Intelligent Multi-service Access Switch (IMAS) edge switch. This device takes in traffic in a number of DSL flavors and sorts customer traffic to ensure various levels of service quality.

Quality of service is a must for transmitting voice-over- DSL lines to avoid gaps and delays in voice transmissions. In addition, carriers can use the IMAS to offer different levels of service quality at different prices. So a customer who uses a DSL line for e-mail and Web surfing could buy a less-expensive, lower-quality connection than someone using a DSL link to tie into a corporate network for business reasons. In combination with Nortel's cable modem and wireless access gear, the Promatory deal will round out the company's broadband access offerings for residences and small businesses.

Security Start-Up Includes 'Mudge'

A Cambridge, Massachusetts-based security start-up that debuted this week will feature the leader of a renowned hacker group as vice president of research and development. Backed by $10 million in capital from Battery Ventures, @Stake, Inc. will lean on the expertise of a hacker organization called the L0pht and its well-known front man, who goes by the moniker Mudge. The new company's chief technology officer will be Daniel Geer, former vice president and senior strategist at CertCo and director of engineering at Open Market. @Stake promises to provide "non-traditional, e-commerce-age security solutions."

Shopping for a NOS?

Network World is offering a hands-on comparative look at Microsoft Windows 2000, Novell NetWare 5.1, Red Hat Linux 6.1 and The Santa Cruz Operation's UnixWare 7.1.1 to all ComNet 2000 trade show attendees in Network Operating Systems Showdown Lab. The lab will be located in the main lobby of Washington, D.C.'s Renaissance Hotel and be open Jan. 25 to 27. Attendees will get a customized view of how these NOSes stack up against each other. Attendees also will be able to pick the brains of the engineers from Centennial Networking Labs at North Carolina State University, the Network World Test Alliance partner that conducted this first public showdown between Windows 2000 and its competition in the NOS arena.

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More about Accel GroupBaanBattery VenturesCertCoComnetMicrosoftNortel NetworksNovellOpen MarketPromatoryPromatory CommunicationsRed HatWal-Mart

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