• United States

Esrey being treated for cancer

Nov 18, 20024 mins

Plus: Sprint announces layoffs; Sun buys Terraspring; alleged hacker indicted and more.

Sprint CEO William Esrey has been diagnosed with a treatable form of cancer, the company said last week. He will remain active in his current role during his recovery, according to the company. Esrey was diagnosed with lymphoma, a cancer of the lymphatic system. Esrey, 62, has been CEO of the long-distance and mobile phone carrier since 1985 and became chairman in 1990. Doctors at Duke University Medical Center, where Esrey’s condition was diagnosed, have informed him that the lymphoma is considered highly treatable and they anticipate a full recovery.

Sprint will lay off about 1,600 full-time employees and release about 500 contractors over the next few months as part of a reorganization to reduce operating costs. The cuts will be in its PCS mobile phone service division and will represent about 6% of the division’s total workforce, Sprint said. Only a few employees work directly with customers, according to Sprint. They work in support areas such as marketing, IT, network and finance. Fierce competition has driven down prices in the crowded U.S. mobile telecom market, while the global carrier business reels after making big investments in the late 1990s. Cutbacks at many carriers have caused concern that quality of service will be affected.

Sun last week acquired data center software start-up Terraspring to improve its N1 computing strategy. The company, which did not disclose the value of the deal other than to say it was a cash-for-stock transaction, will use Terraspring’s logical server farm software to increase the virtualization capabilities of Sun’s server and storage products. Terraspring, founded in 1999 by Sun veterans, makes software that automates the deployment, management, visibility and control of heterogeneous data center environments. Its software works with Solaris, Linux and Windows NT operating systems. N1 is Sun’s initiative to combine separate server, network and storage devices into one supply of resources so companies can transact business more efficiently.

After a 17-month investigation, federal grand juries in Virginia and New Jersey last week indicted 36-year-old British computer administrator Gary McKinnon for allegedly hacking into 105 U.S. military networks over 12 months beginning in March 2001. McKinnon was apprehended in London by Britain’s National High Tech Crime Unit, which has cooperated with the Army’s Criminal Investigation Command’s Computer Crimes Investigative Unit and other U.S. agencies. McKinnon is accused of deleting files and causing loss of Internet access to thousands in the Defense Department, Army, Air Force and NASA.

The tough economy continues to take a toll on software maker Inktomi, which has sold its enterprise search business to Verity to focus exclusively on Web search. The companies announced last week that Verity agreed to pay $25 million for the business, which includes basic search, categorization and content refinement capabilities, as well as XML technology. Verity will take over certain Inktomi obligations, including support for about 2,500 Inktomi enterprise search customers. The news comes just months after Inktomi announced it was winding down its caching business. In July, the company said it was reducing its content networking group and laying off 270 employees, or about 42% of its workforce, to focus on its core search business.

The IEEE is exploring whether to set a standard for running 10G bit/sec Ethernet over Category 5 wiring, which would be in addition to the existing standard for 10G Ethernet over fiber. So far, proposed implementations of the technology on copper vary widely, and that will have to be sorted out in a work group that could start meeting as early as January. Last week, the IEEE put out a call for interest that will result in a group that will start dealing with technical issues. Companies working on 10G Ethernet over copper include Accelerant, Cicada, Mysticom, Plato Labs and SolarFlare. All the proposed schemes would use all four wire pairs in a Category 5 cable and would support distances up to 328 feet.