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IT Confidential: Friends In High Places; Saved By Paper

"This is an exciting time to be in private equity," Gerstner says.

Why'd he do it? When Charles Wang announced his retirement last week as chairman of Computer Associates, the company he founded in 1976, speculation was that Wang was finally ready to hand over the reins to CEO Sanjay Kumar, who has made strides in softening the company's hard-edged image. But one source has a more interesting scenario: due to his close ties with the Bush administration and in particular Colin Powell, Wang--a Chinese native--may be in line to become ambassador to China. Wang is stepping out just as the feds appear to be turning up the heat on their investigation of CA's finances. Both the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal reported last week that federal investigators recently handed out subpoenas to CA customers and former employees.

Speaking of friends in high places, Lou Gerstner, who steps down as chairman of IBM next month, has been tapped by The Carlyle Group, the powerhouse Washington investment firm, as its chairman. Gerstner's just-released book about his days at IBM, Who Says Elephants Can't Dance? (HarperCollins Publishers), is getting good word-of-mouth.

Phil White, former CEO of Informix, was indicted last week by a federal grand jury on charges of securities fraud. While head of the database company, White is accused of signing bogus 1996 financial earnings statements, concealing improper transactions, and blocking restatement of earnings, according to the Associated Press. White, 60, faces 10 years in prison for each of the eight counts in the indictment. White's attorney, Elliot Peters, said he acted responsibly. "In today's climate it's politically popular to indict former CEOs," Peters said in a statement.

John Halamka's triage training came in handy recently--besides being CIO at health provider CareGroup Healthcare Systems and Harvard Medical School, Halamka is a board-certified emergency-room physician--when Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, operated by CareGroup, experienced repeated network crashes over a four-day period. The hospital dusted off its Y2K emergency plan and relied on paper records and processes. Halamka says the culprits were the "glued together" networks of Beth Israel and Deaconess hospitals, which were merged as part of an acquisition. The networks couldn't keep up with the workload, which includes electronic patient records and other bulky data that contributes to the medical center processing about 40 terabytes of information daily. A hundred CareGroup IT workers and a team from Cisco Systems helped rebuild the network in a few days.

Didn't I see that on ER? With George Clooney as John Halamka and John Leguizamo as the irascible network administrator? If you saw that one, or have an industry tip, e-mail or phone 516-562-5326. If you want to talk about CA sans Wang or IBM sans Gerstner, meet me at the Listening Post:

To discuss this column with other readers, please visit John Soat's forum on the Listening Post.

To find out more about John Soat, please visit his page on the Listening Post.

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