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In brief: Compuware to buy auto industry exchange

Feb 09, 20044 mins
Enterprise ApplicationsPatch Management SoftwareSecurity

Plus: Holes found in ReaNetworks players; report says most new voice systems will be IP-based; CA CEO says company still under accounting-issue cloud; Oracle raises PeopleSoft bid; Verizon sells off BBN.

Compuware last week announced its intent to acquire Covisint, the business-to-business exchange and Web portal used primarily by the automotive industry. No price was announced.

The deal would end the financial involvement of General Motors, DaimlerChrysler and Ford, which launched the privately held business-to-business portal four years ago. Compuware Chairman and CEO Peter Karmanos said his company wanted to acquire Covisint because he’s confident its e-commerce portal products and services can grow from roughly $20 million per year to $100 million over the next few years. Covisint offers access to dozens of applications to auto-industry suppliers and manufacturers.

The auto-industry messaging and document-delivery services will remain in place for the approximately 135,000 users in 95 countries who access them. But Compuware would like to expand the portal-based services to include other industries, including healthcare and financial.

RealNetworks’ media player software contains vulnerabilities that could let an attacker take control of a PC on which the software is used to download multimedia files, the company confirmed last week. Corrupt files posing as normal music and video files could allow an attacker to gain control of the downloader’s computer, although RealNetworks stressed in a statement that, as far as it is aware, this has not yet happened. The problems have been fixed, and users are advised to download updates from the company’s site, it said. The affected software is RealOne Player, RealOne Player v2 for Windows only (all languages), RealOne Player 8, RealPlayer 10 Beta (English only) and RealOne Enterprise Desktop or RealPlayer Enterprise (all versions, stand-alone and as configured by the RealOne Desktop Manager or RealPlayer Enterprise Manager).

While companies aren’t ripping out their PBXs for IP telephony systems en masse, a report from ABI Research says most enterprise voice systems purchased over the next several years will be IP-based. The research firm says IP PBX seat shipments (licensed end-user ports on an IP phone system) will grow from 3.2 million in 2003 to 26 million by 2006. ABI cites improvements in IP PBX and IP phone features and stability, and interest in deploying converged voice/data applications in corporations, as the growth drivers of IP PBXs.

ABI also says companies will adopt fewer hybrid voice systems, where PBXs are IP-enabled with gateway technology or IP PBXs are integrated with existing circuit-switched phone networks. The research firm also says that by 2006, 90% of all new IP phone systems shipped will be 100% IP, as opposed to mixed circuit-switched/IP equipment.

Until the government completes its investigation of Computer Associates’ past accounting infractions, the company will continue operating under a cloud, CEO Sanjay Kumar said last week during CA’s quarterly meeting with analysts. Several government agencies and CA’s board are conducting investigations of the company’s accounting in the late 1990s. Three top financial executives, including CA’s CFO, resigned in October after preliminary results from the board inquiry showed that CA booked some sales prematurely during its fiscal year that ended March 31, 2000.

One of those executives, former Senior Vice President of Finance Lloyd Silverstein, pleaded guilty last month to accounting fraud and told investigators of a “widespread practice” at CA of booking revenue from software contracts before the deal was signed. “We recognize that [the penalties] can be serious for a problem like this, but we’re hopeful we’ll resolve the problem in a positive way,” Kumar said.

Oracle last week raised its bid for PeopleSoft to $26 per share, boosting the all-cash offer’s total to $9.4 billion. Oracle began trying to acquire rival enterprise software maker PeopleSoft last June, initially offering PeopleSoft shareholders $16 per share, totaling $5.1 billion, for control of the company. Analysts and shareholders said the company was offering too little for PeopleSoft, and Oracle raised its bid to $19.50 per share. After PeopleSoft closed its August acquisition of J.D. Edwards, increasing the number of shares in the company, the price tag for the acquisition climbed to $8.3 billion.

The new bid marks the first time Oracle has offered shareholders a significant premium on PeopleSoft’s trading price.

Verizon last week announced it has sold off BBN Technologies, whose credits include operating the forerunner of today’s Internet, to BBN’s management team in conjunction with venture capital firm Accel Partners and private equity firm General Catalyst. Terms of the deal weren’t disclosed. BBN, which was founded in 1948, came to Verizon by way of the merger of former BBN parent company GTE with Bell Atlantic in 2000. The GTE-Bell Atlantic combination became Verizon.