Briefs: November 27, 2006


One executive who has backed out of scheduled appearances is Dell CFO Jim Schneider, who was slated to appear in financial forums through the end of the year, including the Raymond James IT Supply Chain Conference next month in New York. In addition, a Dell Web page listing executive appearances was pared down dramatically.

"We've canceled a few meetings that are focused on discussing financial results, pending completion of our Audit Committee's review of prior financial reports," a Dell spokesman said.

Last week, Dell suggested in a regulatory filing that it is facing stiff questioning over its handling of potential liabilities in connection with pending investigations into its finances. In an 8-K report of special events filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, Dell said it believes it handled its accounting properly but could suffer if the company is found to have accounted some of its numbers improperly.

IBM plans to funnel $1 billion in additional credit into the channel and offer credit lines of up to $500,000, turnaround times of less than 30 minutes from completing the application to placing orders, and up to 90 days to pay the loan.

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Under the IBM Flexible Credit program, IBM Global Financing (IGF) will offer solution providers credit lines of at least $100,000 and flexible payment plans with near-immediate approval. The program is designed to help small solution providers improve their cash flow.

IBM aims to lend $1 billion within three years under the program, said Ron Bachner, business development executive at IGF.

Initially, the program will be available through Tech Data, but IGF plans to run it with other distributors in early 2007, Bachner said.

The quick application and approval process should be especially enticing to VARs that have been reluctant to use third-party financing in the past, said Mike Zava, senior vice president of credit and customer services at Tech Data.

VARs will retain their normal credit lines with Tech Data, which usually are net-30 terms. In the Flexible Credit program, only one-third of the total is required after 30 days.

An additional third would be due at 60 days and at 90 days. Interest would accrue after day 30, at a competitive rate that would be determined by the solution provider's credit score, Zava said.

The Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA) and the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) have teamed to create a home technology integration certification program.

Called Digital Home Technology Integrator+ (CEA-CompTIA DHTI+), the certification is in beta mode and is expected to officially launch in March 2007. It will cost $180 for CompTIA members and $225 for nonmembers.

DHTI+ is designed to give digital integrators an industry-accepted seal of approval to show their mastery of home integration standards, including networking, audio/video, telephone and VoIP, security and surveillance, home control management, and documentation and troubleshooting, said Miles Jobgen, CompTIA product manager.

"Some of the technology is easy to install. But once you start adding multiple components to the home network, it becomes too complicated for the average homeowner," Jobgen said.

Industry leaders expect that interest to grow with the upcoming release of Microsoft's Windows Vista operating system, which brings added multimedia muscle. Also fueling interest, they said, are the growing need to receive, store, manage and share music and video files available over broadband connections; the influx of cost-effective home technology solutions, such as IP-based surveillance, control, automation and entertainment; and fully networked computing.

CEA is taking a tiered approach to certification. While DHTI+ focuses on mass-market integration, CEA's Tech Home Division recently partnered with the Custom Electronic Design and Installation Association (CEDIA) and the National System Contractors Association (NSCA) to launch the Electronic Systems Professional Alliance, which will provide cross-industry certification for the upper end of the custom installation market.

EMC is readying a new OEM edition of its Documentum content management software, allowing partners to incorporate the technology for storing and serving documents into their own products.

"We looked at building this technology internally, but it would have been very expensive," said Nasser Barghouti, CTO of software and services firm Document Sciences. "Having this OEM edition cuts a lot of our R&D costs."

EMC's Documentum OEM edition will be available by the end of the year, with "flexible" licensing terms that EMC said will be adapted to match the pricing model of the host application. Document Sciences, one the first partners to begin kicking the tires of the new product, plans to embed the software in its own xPression suite of customer communication management software.

Document Sciences expects to sell its expanded xPression suite to customers that don't currently have an enterprise content management (ECM) platform in place.

Other partners are building add-ons for the OEM edition itself. Daybreak ICS, an ECM solution provider, is readying its eCapture tool as an optional addition to the new software. "We think this [OEM edition] will hit the middle space and provide a scalable solution," said Kara Cleaver, Daybreak's president.

EMC acquired ECM specialist Documentum three years ago.

Hewlett-Packard is the leader in the IT clubhouse.

HP sales increased 7 percent in its fiscal fourth quarter, ended Oct. 31, to $24.6 billion, pushing revenue for its fiscal 2006 to $91.7 billion. That number should make HP officially the largest technology company in the world, passing IBM, which is expected by most analysts to report sales of just short of $90 billion for its fiscal year ending Dec. 31.

HP Chairman, President and CEO Mark Hurd said that HP, as part of the reorganization of its sales force last year, has hired a substantial number of new salespeople and is looking for more.

"We are looking everywhere," he said. "This is part of us not just building out our direct sales force to sell direct but really in concert with our partners because we want to scale our partner relationships as a key part of our strategy. We had pretty good success in [the third and fourth quarters]. Think of us as being more than 50 percent of what we hope to achieve," he said.

HP's net earnings for its fourth quarter surged to $1.7 billion, up from the $416 million reported for the year-earlier period.

Hurd said in a conference call following the earnings release that growth in both revenue and earnings was spread evenly across all of HP's business units. "This was one of the most balanced quarters in recent memory," he said.