News in brief

Short takes from this week's news

Short takes from this week's news

Amex in managed services deal with EMC

American Express has signed a multi-year services agreement with EMC for the management of the credit card company's distributed storage environment, including all of its core business critical applications and thousands of servers. Amex said it went for the deal because it wanted more flexibility in the way it manages its infrastructure.

Outsourcing saves 15% on average, says report

Research examining outsourcing contracts awarded between 2003 and 2005 has disproved the widespread market claims that outsourcing can reduce costs by 60% or more. The study, by TPI, found that savings from outsourcing - net of professional fees, severance pay and governance costs - average 15%. Duncan Aitchison, managing director of TPI, said, "The promise of massive operational savings is unrealistic."

Sun introduces slimline server

Sun Microsystems has started shipping a lower-end server using the Ultrasparc T1 Niagara processor. At 1.75in thick, the Sun Fire T1000 server is half the thickness of the Sun Fire T2000, making it suitable for customers with limited datacentre space. The T1000 costs £1,900 when equipped with a 1GHz processor with six processing cores, and 2Gbytes of memory. An operating system or hard drive is not included.

Learning and Skills Council in network deal

The Learning and Skills Council has extended the managed service contract for its network for a further three years at a cost of £9.7m. The public sector agency, which is responsible for all education outside universities for students over 16 years of age, has 5,000 users across 54 sites. The contract with supplier Global Crossing now includes data and video services.

Former administrator faces US hacking charge

A former systems administrator accused of hacking into US military computer systems fears he could end up at Guantanamo Bay if extradited to the US, a court heard last week. Gary McKinnon, from London, denies causing £400,000 of damage to military computer systems in 2001 and 2002. His defence told Bow Street Magistrates' court that McKinnon was at risk of indefinite detention if extradited. McKinnon was remanded on bail.

DTI helps set up e-crime knowledge network

Several government departments and companies have joined forces to help tackle cybercrime. The Department of Trade & Industry, the Home Office and the Ministry of Defence are among the founder members of the Cyber Security Knowledge Transfer Network. The DTI has given the network £1.8m and has made a further £10m  available for research and development and technical projects.

New Look fixes IT costs with fee per transaction

Clothing retailer New Look has extended a contract with IT services company Accenture on different terms to the original agreement in a bid to better control its IT costs. Under the 10-year contract extension, estimated to be worth £23m, New Look will pay Accenture a fixed amount for every till transaction. The supplier is guaranteed a minimum initial payment based on a set sales volume.

Lloyds TSB offshores accounting operations

Lloyds TSB is offshoring its finance and accounting operations to India, under a five-year, multimillion-pound deal with Xansa. The outsourcing supplier will provide the bank with accounts payable, employee expenses and fixed asset accounting services. Lloyds TSB said the deal would help it to transform and standardise its operations to provide "significant cost savings".

Brent prepares for shared services deal

The London Borough of Brent is planning to share citizen records with its local NHS trust as part of a project to create a single view of local people across all its systems. The London borough is seeking a systems integrator to begin work on the project.

Manchester court hears sound of parking fines

Manchester Magistrates Court has gone live with a speech recognition system for handling speeding and parking fines. Using a "virtual agent" from Fluency Voice Technology, the system, called Payment Capture, offers the public a way to pay their fines 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The service collects credit and debit card details and obtains real-time bank authorisation and transaction settlement where required.

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