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10/12/2001
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IT Confidential

Microsoft bowed to pressure from its business partners last week and said it wouldn't "decertify" the Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer qualification for Windows NT. The company's Microsoft Certified Partner program requires partners--consultants, VARs, and service providers--to have MCSE qualifications. The decertification of the Windows NT MCSE, which Microsoft unveiled at the beginning of this year, brought howls of protest from its partners and was seen as a thinly disguised way to get them and their customers to upgrade to Windows 2000. "Historically, Microsoft has periodically retired credentials earned on older versions of its products," the company said in a statement. "Going forward, the MCP program will recognize credentials for as long as they're in demand in the marketplace."

Russell Stover Candies, the country's third-largest manufacturer of the sweet stuff, last week re-upped its outsourcing contract with OneNeck IT Services, to the tune of $20 million over five years. OneNeck runs Russell Stover's Baan ERP system and provides data-center hosting and management, WAN and LAN monitoring and management, and database administration for the company's headquarters, five factories, 10 distribution centers, and one customer-support facility.

That kind of loyalty to a vendor may not be possible in the very near future, according to Gartner CEO Michael Fleisher. Last week, Fleisher told the 6,000 or so attendees at the market-research firm's Gartner Symposium/ITxpo 2001 in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., that the recently announced merger of Hewlett-Packard and Compaq is the first of many such megadeals, and that half of today's brand-name IT companies won't exist in their current form in three years. "You need to anticipate incredible consolidation--both in your own industry as well as in your suppliers," Fleisher said. "Your most trusted partner may suddenly be subsumed by another company that you chose not to do business with."

When Computer Associates last week laid off 5% of its staff--about 900 positions, bringing the company's headcount worldwide to about 17,000--it detailed in a statement on its Web site what it describes as a "special separation package" that will cost the company as much as $20 million for the quarter ending Dec. 31. Along with outplacement services that include consulting and training, all affected employees will be paid and will receive benefit coverage through the end of October; additional severance of two weeks per year of service will be paid beginning Nov. 1; CA also will pay family health-benefit coverage from Nov. 1 for up to six months--and for up to a year for those who elect to work for a charitable 501(c)(3) organization. The company's child-care facilities also will be available to affected person-nel for up to 60 days, and kindergarten children will be allowed to finish the 2001-02 school year in the CA program.

Jeff Christian, CEO of executive search firm Christian & Timbers, says businesses today are looking for executives "with proven track records of delivering real profits and financial self-sufficiency." Christian & Timbers has received 7,062 resumés in the first three quarters, compared with 2,554 during the same period last year. "With sources of capital drying up," he said in a statement, "corporations can no longer afford to keep executives who came of age in the go-go '90s and whose major experience was in growing quickly and burning through a seemingly endless supply of money."


Sounds like my wife. Just kidding! I really am just kidding--my wife is as sober and practical as a judge. Speaking of practical management experience, InformationWeek is looking for its Chief of the Year for 2001. If you know of someone who's been instrumental over the past year in transforming his or her business and industry, who's a leader in collaborative business, customer focus, and implementation of innovative technology strategies, especially in the face of the struggling economy and the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, go to the nominating form on our Web site: informationweek.com/coty. If, on the other hand, you have an industry tip, send it to jsoat@cmp.com or call 516-562-5326. And if you want to talk about layoffs, resumés, or outplacement services, meet me at InformationWeek .com's Listening Post: informationweek.com/forum/johnsoat.

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