Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Google is hiring, even after layoffs

Google Inc is hiring to fill about 360 jobs, even after it announced plans this week to lay off almost 200 sales and marketing employees in its third round of job cuts this year.

The openings listed on Google's website range from software engineers to sales and marketing positions, to one opening for a Foodservices Supply Chain Manager at Google's Mountain View, California headquarters.

Hollywood Lions Gate is cutting jobs again

Under pressure, the Santa Monica studio eliminates 45 more positions, out of 550, after a similar move in November. Amid continuing fallout from the tough economy and volatility of its movie and DVD business, Lions Gate Entertainment Corp. has slashed jobs for the second time in five months.

The Santa Monica-based movie and television studio is eliminating 45 positions, or 8% of its 550-person workforce, the company said Friday. The latest downsizing included 27 people who were laid off Friday and 10 who were moved into independent contractor consulting jobs and production deals. Eight open positions will not be filled.

Cognizant, Pepsico among 50 best US cos: BusinessWeek

Cognizant Technology Solutions and Pepsico, both led by India-origin people, have found a place in the list of 50 best American corporates compiled by the BusinessWeek magazine.

IT major Cognizant ranked at the 31st spot is led by Francisco D'Souza, while snacks and beverages firm Pepsico, which is at the 40th spot, is headed by Indra Nooyi.

The league of 50 best corporate performers is topped by healthcare entity Gilead Sciences. CF Industries Holdings, which is into materials sector, and energy firm Diamond Offshore Drilling are at second and third spots, respectively.

Both Cognizant and Pepsico have slipped from their last year's 19th and 31st positions, respectively. However, Pepsico's rival Coca-Cola is at the 26th spot, improving its position from the 45th rank last year.

At fourth place is Windstream, which is into telecommunication services, followed by Colgate-Palmolive (5th), Robinson (CH) Worldwide (6), Exelon (7), Microsoft (8), Best Buy (9) and Mastercard (10).

The ranking is based on two core financial measures, average return on capital and growth, both taken over the previous 36 months.

iPhone maker Apple (15th rank), telecom firm Verizon Communications (21st) and Internet search giant Google (35th) are also part of the list.

About Cognizant, the publication said the company seems to defy gravity.

"CEO Francisco D'Souza has appointed 700 relationship managers to work closely with the company's 500 clients, enabling Cognizant to track their needs and respond quickly to shifts in demand. As a result, 90 per cent of the company's revenues come from repeat business, which keeps selling costs low," it said.

The magazine said Pepsico which has sales worth USD 43.3 billion, has been on a marketing and repackaging frenzy.

The company is "replacing its old Gatorade labels with a giant "G," shorthanding Mountain Dew to "Mtn Dew," and giving Pepsi itself a simpler logo reminiscent of the Obama "O" campaign logo," the publication noted.

"... Pepsi still faces a slog selling soda to Americans who drink less of it. But CEO Indra Nooyi is betting that new advertising and innovation will keep sales fizzing," it said.

BusinessWeek said the 13th annual ranking of the companies shows that "innovation is still alive and well vital, even among America's largest companies".

"To arrive at the BusinessWeek 50, we run data screens on all of the companies in the Standard & Poor's 500-stock index, focusing on sales growth rate and return on invested capital.

"All the companies are measured over time, to reward sustained performance, and compared against other companies in the same sector...," the magazine said.

Hitachi to shut plant, lays off 800

Hitachi Ltd, a Japanese maker of nuclear reactors, household appliances and hard disk drives, said it will close its flat-panel television factory in the Czech Republic amid slumping demand.

The company, Japan’s second-biggest plasma-television maker, will end operations at the plant this month, laying off all 800 employees, Hiroki Inoue, a Tokyo-based spokesman at Hitachi said. The factory has been in operation less than two years, he said.

ATCO I-Tek entered strategic relationship with Wipro

ATCO I-Tek, a subsidiary of Canadian Utilities Ltd and a provider of customer care, utility billing and information technology solutions, has entered into a strategic relationship with Wipro (NYSE:WIT), a multi-national service provider, to provide joint delivery of some customer care services and to pursue new opportunities in the utility business process outsourcing market.

ATCO I-Tek said its relationship with Wipro's Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) division brings together a combination of outsourcing strengths, industry expertise and service delivery solutions.

One of the benefits of the relationship for the company will be the ability to access international service delivery centres, in addition to its operations in Alberta, Canada, in order to enhance its competitiveness and offer more flexibility to clients. No financial details were disclosed.

6,400 Satyam employees quit since September

Satyam Computer Services, which is in search of a new owner, has around 46,600 employees on its rolls now. Nearly 6,400 employees quit the IT firm after September last year, when the company claimed a headcount of 53,000.

Satyam’s suitors have been given information on the validated headcount during the due diligence of the assets of the beleaguered IT firm, people familiar with the development said. Engineering firm Larsen & Toubro, IT services firm Tech Mahindra and a private equity firm are among the seven to eight shortlisted bidders, who have started the due diligence.

KCI will eliminate 300 positions worldwide

Kinetic Concepts Inc. said Monday that the company is planning on laying off 4 percent of its work force, or 300 employees, worldwide.

San Antonio-based KCI (NYSE: KCI) is proceeding with the layoffs as a way of reducing expenses, improving operational efficiencies and increasing shareholder value.

The company created a global shares services team that will explore ways to improve the company’s overall productivity and performance.

IT biggies eye $2 Billion projects in power sector

Domestic IT market seems to be pouring opportunities to the Indian IT vendors with many government IT projects are at the doorstep. The government of India has a budget of Rs.50, 000 crore for the modernization of power sector, of which $2 billion (Rs.10,000 crore)will be spent on IT projects in areas such as consulting, implementation of IT systems and training, reported The Economic Times.

The state electricity boards (SEBs) have invited bids from eligible vendors and almost every major Indian and multinational companies is vying for the different pieces of the project. The fund distributing body for SEBs Power Finance Corporation (PFC) has empanelled around 15-20 vendors as eligible to be consultants. The consultants will be responsible for defining the requirements for the IT systems and also for releasing the RFPs for implementation and training.

"A few RFPs have already come out and the bids are underway. If things go well, we will see a lot of investment in the new year. Some of these projects will take a backseat because of the elections, but irrespective of which government comes to power these projects will go on," said Anand Sankaran, CEO, Wipro Infotech.

The consulting projects are estimated to be anywhere between Rs.50 lakh for small SEBs and Rs.2 crore for some of the larger SEBs. Each SEB will select the successful bidder from among the consultants empanelled by the PFC. Tenders for the implementation of new systems will be called after the initial consulting phase. The implementation phase is estimated to be between Rs 50 crore and Rs 200 crore.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Obama lowers temperature against outsourcing

Source: TheEconomicTimes
Related: "Return of outsourced jobs not good for US: Obama"
US President Barack Obama will not insist on bringing back poorly-paid, low-skill jobs offshored to India and other emerging markets, signalling a reversal of his stance against US companies sending jobs abroad. Obama said he would rather work on creating high-skill, well-paying jobs in the US.

The US president’s acknowledgement that offshoring is here to stay, made in a live online town hall meeting from the White House, brings relief to the over two million employees in technology services and BPO companies in India and their counterparts in other offshore destinations like China and the Philippines.

Commenting on President Obama’s statement in Washington, Nasscom president Som Mittal told ET, “It will be good for the US and for us,” Both low-end and high-end offshoring would grow, he added.

“The issue is that over the years fewer Americans have been opting for STEMS (Science, Technology, Engineering & Maths) and there is a shortage of workers there. This is what President Obama is trying to address,” said Mr Mittal.

“It is the right sentiment. At a broader level, the issue is not high-end or low-end, but accepting the reality of today’s world, that is, you cannot root any job to a geography,” said Robert E Kennedy, a professor at Ross School of Business, University of Michigan.

Mr Kennedy recently wrote a book on outsourcing: The Services Shift, Seizing the Ultimate Offshore Opportunity.

IT honchos said the US now acknowledges that offshoring is a reality to live with. “President Obama is actually saying that the US needs to move up the value chain, while legitimising offshoring. About 8-10% of those done in India is high-end and this trend will continue, even as the US scales up further,” said the India head of a US services multinational who requested not to be named.

Citing a S&P 500 research, Mr Mittal said among the top 10 US companies, 50% of the revenue comes from outside the US and the growth in their businesses outside the US is 2.5 times that of their businesses in the US. Also, US companies like GE, Cisco, Intel, Microsoft, Oracle have R&D centres in India. They are leveraging global talent to remain competitive and will continue to do so.

Responding to a question about outsourced jobs returning to the US, Mr Obama said: “Not all of these jobs are going to come back... What we’ve

got to do is create new jobs that can’t be outsourced.”

However, not all jobs that have been offshored are low-end. The high-end jobs being done in India include the work done at R&D units of multinationals, analytics, engineering services, new technology development and so on. “Calling jobs ‘low skilled’ is a reference more to manufacturing rather than services offshoring. The US will not put curbs on offshoring, but will give a stimulus to its own high-end

Genpact sets sights on home turf, aims to bag 30 outsourcing deals

Genpact is eyeing around 30 outsourcing deals in India across sectors like manufacturing, telecom, utilities and financial services, according to the company’s president and CEO Pramod Bhasin. The country’s largest BPO firm by sales has also zeroed in on China, Japan and West Asia as growth markets.

The country’s BPO market, valued at $1.3 billion, is expected to grow by 40% in 2009. "The domestic market is very receptive towards outsourcing. Deal sizes, however, remain small, ranging between $1 million and $5 million," Mr Bhasin said.

IBM's golden handshake to employees

Source: TheEconomicTimes
The severance package that IT giant IBM is expected to give employees selected for a layoff reportedly includes a lump sum severance payment as well as counseling and financial planning services.

According to media reports, the company will cut about 5,000 jobs in the United States. The job cuts will account for over 4 per cent of IBM's US workforce, which totaled around 115,000 at the end of 2008.

According to a report in Computerworld, here’s what the laid off IBM employees are slated to receive:

A lump sum separation payment equal to one week of pay for each fully completed six months of service based on the most recent date of hire, with a minimum of two weeks and a maximum of 26 weeks.

Eligibility for a continued IBM subsidy for medical coverage. The coverage period is three months for less than five years of service; six months for five or more years but less than 25 years of service, and 12 months for 25 or more years of service. Transitional group life insurance follows a similar formula.

Outplacement and career counseling, with reimbursement of up to $2,500 for job-related skills training completed within 12 months of departure date, among other services.

The ability to apply for other jobs within IBM, as well as take jobs overseas, but the pay will be at local rates. The company says overseas work "may not appeal to everyone, but it can be a good fit for IBMers who are interested in broadening their skills by living and working abroad, or for those with a cultural or heritage link to one of the countries where positions are open."

Infosys ties up R&D with Cambrigde University, eyes acquisitions in US

Infosys Technologies will partner the University of Cambridge for research in engineering, management and business, architecture and pharmacy, even as the technology bellwether is exploring opportunities for acquisition in the US.

"This collaboration will create an opportunity for some of the best minds engaged in academia and at Infosys to come together to identify and create relevant solutions in the areas of engineering, business, architecture and pharma," Narayana Murthy, chairman of Infosys Technologies, said.Infosys ties up R&D with Cambrigde University, eyes acquisitions in US.

HCL bags 3 year contract from M.J. Logistic

HCL Technologies (HCL), a leading global IT services provider, has entered into a three year contract with M.J. Logistic Services (MJ), a leading third-party logistics (3PL) solutions provider in India.

The contract will enable MJ to focus on its core business, manage the growing complexities of its logistics operations, reduce its cost and enhance inventory visibility.

Now IBM axing jobs in Canada

IBM Canada, which has 19,600 employees on its rolls, announced Thursday that it is axing a number of jobs to contain costs.

The US software giant, which is reportedly in the process of laying off 5,000 staff in America and transferring a lot of them to India, said the Canadian cuts will affect the staff from customer care positions to executives.

Without specifying how many jobs will be cut, an IBM Canada spokesman told the Canadian Press that "there is no specific area being targeted and no specific region - it is across the country.''

He added, "From our perspective this is just the way we manage resources depending on the needs of clients and how that changes.''

With 400,000 employees worldwide, IBM is cutting costs by shifting many jobs to low-cost India and other countries to maintain profits.

Infosys, sitting on $2 bn cash, eyes US bargains

Infosys Technologies expects to find acquisition opportunities in bargain basement America as it seeks to reaccelerate growth in the midst of an ongoing economic slump, co-chairman Nandan Nilekani said on Thursday.

"Acquisitions will definitely be very accessible in this market from a price point of view," Nilekani told the Wall Street Journal. "If it makes sense, we'll do it," he said, adding that Infosys has $2 billion in cash and no debt.

India's second-largest software services company is eyeing firms that operate in the healthcare and pharmaceuticals sectors. V Balakrishnan, chief financial officer of Infosys, told DNA earlier this month that the company was looking at firms in the $100 to $200 million price range as targets.

Indian Tech Tries to Retain Top Workers

Infosys, Wipro, and others are trying to avoid layoffs by reassigning skilled workers to subsidiaries or asking them to accept reduced salaries.

At a time when most IT companies are reducing employee numbers to cut costs, tech majors such as Wipro, TCS and Infosys are rechanellising their manpower. Sabbaticals are more common and people on the bench are being asked to undergo longer and more rigorous training programmes.

Wipro has asked some of its non-billable and skilled employees to move to subsidiary Wipro Infotech on the same pay package as earlier; but they will continue to be on the payrolls of Wipro Technologies. "These are not under performers, but talented people we don't want to lose. The move to Infotech is currently for a year, and this will give them a chance to be productive," Wipro executive VP (human resources) Pratik Kumar told ET. This will also help the firm in sustaining high utilisation rates.

The other option given to employees, who have been on the bench for over six months, is a special programme which allows them to come to work for 10 days a month, at half their salary. "This allows them to take up certification programmes, work on innovation projects and help in creating question banks for domain specific internal tests. Once we see an opening for them on a project, we will transfer them immediately," said Mr. Kumar.

TCS has also put its benched employees on high-end training programmes in areas such as enterprise resource planning, business intelligence and analytics. "We are building a larger skill set as we would like to be ready when the demand picks up," said a TCS spokesperson. The IT company has also invited its employees to write research papers on technology that can be used by the company.

Reducing employee numbers for saving costs is a short-term solution, said Infosys global HR head Nandita Gurjar. "When demand picks up, we'll be hiring skill pools at a higher cost; there will also be the cost of extra training. Weed out non-performers, but retain talent even if they are not being utilised currently."

While Infosys has said that 50 employees, at any given point of time, can take a year off and work for an NGO at half their salaries, its peer Wipro has introduced project rejuvenate where employees, across all levels, can take a year-long sabbatical and pursue their hobbies. This is not restricted to those on the bench, but also for those working on projects. Even though these people are asked to take a pay cut, it does not matter. "As long as you get to keep your job and do fun things to de-stress, a pay cut doesn't matter," said a Wipro employee.

Expedia confirms more layoffs

Online travel giant Expedia Inc. says it cut a “handful” of positions yesterday in its customers operations group.

It's the latest round of layoffs for the Bellevue, Wash.-based company, which let go an undisclosed number of employees in February as part of a global restructuring.

Johnson Controls to Close Ten Plants, Cut More Jobs

Auto interiors and battery maker Johnson Controls said it would close an additional 10 plants and cut more jobs than planned as it expects no near-term recovery in global auto production.

Plantronics to close plant, cut 670 jobs

Plantronics Inc. plans to cut about 670 positions and close its manufacturing plant in Suzhou, China to improve profitability of its Bluetooth headset product line, the company said Thursday.

Santa Cruz-based Plantronics said it will outsource production of Bluetooth headsets to an existing supplier in China, where most of the job cuts will take place.

The plan will proceed in phases and is expected to be complete by October 2009.

Wal-Mart shuts down lab in Ohio

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. announced Friday that it will shutter an optical lab in Ohio, cutting 650 jobs, as it looks to cut costs by fold its operations into facilities in Indiana and Arkansas.

The world's largest retailer said in a statement that eyewear orders previously sent to the facility in Lockbourne, Ohio, will be dispersed to labs in Crawfordsville, Ind., Fayetteville, Ark., and Dallas.

Wal-Mart also has contracts with Essilor of America and Carl Zeiss Vision, which both operate optical labs in the U.S. and Mexico.

Bentonville, Ark.-based Wal-Mart said the Indiana and Arkansas facilities will add a total of approximately 100 jobs

Friday, March 27, 2009

New requirements for H-1B American visa applicants

The US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced changes to the requirements for H-1B American visa holders.

The H-1B visa allows foreign workers to live and work in the US on a temporary American visa, provided an American employer petitions the USCIS on behalf of the prospective employee to get the visa grant. The foreign worker must have been working in a specialty occupation and the employer (petitioner) must file a labour condition application before the visa can be processed.

The new requirement means that employers who receive funds through the Troubled Asset Relief Program or covered funding need to fill in the revised version of the Form I-129 when filing the Labor Condition Application.

The changes are the result of the new "Employ American Workers Act" (EAWA) introduced by President Obama this year, and are part of the new administration's attempts to protect the jobs of American workers from having foreign workers take their place.

All H-1B petitions filed on or after 17 February 2009 will be subject to this act, including those who are already H-IB status and have not started employment as of that date.

The EAWA does not apply to H-1B petitions for those already working in another category on a different America visa, or those who are extending their H-1B visa to stay with their employer.

The next lottery round of petitions will be starting 1 April for the 2010 fiscal year.

In related news, Network World News reports that legal experts are expecting that fewer H-1B visa petitions will be sent for the 2010 lottery because of the new EAWA requirements and the current economic conditions. With 65,000 visa places to be filled, plus an extra 20,000 H-1B visas for American university graduates, experts are predicting the H-1B visa program will not fulfil its cap, and survey results have supported the prediction.

According to the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) survey, nearly three quarters of those surveyed expect there to be fewer petitions for the American visa type this year.

"The survey shows that fewer companies are going to file H-1B petitions for a number of reasons, but the main reason is the current economy," says Eleanor Pelta, AILA official and Morgan, Lewis and Bockius immigration partner in Washington D.C.

"That means the chances for many companies to get an H-1B are better. In the past, the demand was more than double the available visas so hiring a foreign national was really a crapshoot for most companies."

For laid-off IBM workers, a job in India?

An IBM program offers some incentive to relocate. Americans who have migrated overseas find less pay – but a good lifestyle. Click here to read entire post from csmonitor.com.

More IBM news:
IBM Employees Sound Off on Layoffs: from eWeek Blog
Will IBM layoffs mean more jobs sent overseas?: from NetworkWorld

IBM plans lump-sum severance for those laid off

Pay and benefits detailed for workers due to get laid off Thursday. The severance package IBM is expected to give employees selected for a layoff includes a lump-sum severance payment, as well as counseling and financial planning services.

IBM is expected on Thursday to lay off as many as 4,000 to 5,000 employees in its global business services unit, according to the Alliance@IBM.

This particular severance package, distributed tonight by the union, lists employees -- by title and age alone -- in the applications services unit that have been selected for the layoff. The number affected is 1,674 in total.

The company has already cut some 4,000 workers in a number of business units this year, according to the alliance.

Disney World Quietly Cutting Work Force

Job reductions are under way at Disney World after the company's announcement in January it was offering buyouts to 600 executives companywide, including about 300 in Florida.

Obama says more layoffs on the way

The US president asks Americans to brace for a "difficult time", warning that the country will face a greater hemorrhage of jobs in 2009.

"We're going to have to be patient and persistent about job creation because I don't think that we've lost all the jobs that we're going to lose in this recession," President Barack Obama said Thursday at an event that aimed to respond to questions posed on the White House website.

"We're still going to be in a difficult time for much of this year."

Obama nevertheless pledged to create some 3.5 million jobs in two years according to a promise he and his economic team made when they presented their hefty $787 billion stimulus plan.

Now with his electoral glow fading, Obama is faced with concrete realities, almost all of which relate to the US economy that is in a free fall.

When the President was confronted with the fact that 1 in 50 children in America are homeless, he responded by saying, "I'm heartbroken that any child in America is homeless and the most important thing I can do is make sure their parents have a job."

25% of H-1B visas to US given by Chennai consulate

Consul General Andrew T Simkin said as there was a provision to apply for a Green Card after residing for six years in the US, some H-1B visa holders used the provision to settle in America.

One fourth of H-1B visas to the US from India are issued by the US Consulate in Chennai, which caters to the four southern states, Consul General Andrew T Simkin has said.

On denial of H-1B visas, he said as there was a provision to apply for a Green Card after residing for six years in the US, some H-1B visa holders used the provision to settle in America. “Only when we suspect that a person will settle in America, we reject the visa application,” he added.

Stating that India and America had many things in common, he said “there is tremendous scope for business between the two countries.”

On the problems relating to stringent conditions of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) faced by India’s processed food exporters, he said there was no scope for relaxing the conditions.
But FDA would soon expand its wings to countries including India, so that exporters could understand the regulations and start exporting more by meeting the conditions.

Tech cos draw up ways to retain good performers

At a time when most IT companies are reducing employee numbers to cut costs, tech majors such as Wipro, TCS and Infosys are rechanellising their manpower. Sabbaticals are more common and people on the bench are being asked to undergo longer and more rigorous training programmes.

Wipro has asked some of its non-billable and skilled employees to move to subsidiary Wipro Infotech on the same pay package as earlier; but they will continue to be on the payrolls of Wipro Technologies. “These are not under performers, but talented people we don’t want to lose. The move to Infotech is currently for a year, and this will give them a chance to be productive,” Wipro executive VP (human resources) Pratik Kumar told ET. This will also help the firm in sustaining high utilisation rates.

The other option given to employees, who have been on the bench for over six months, is a special programme which allows them to come to work for 10 days a month, at half their salary. “This allows them to take up certification programmes, work on innovation projects and help in creating question banks for domain specific internal tests. Once we see an opening for them on a project, we will transfer them immediately,” said Mr Kumar.

TCS has also put its benched employees on high-end training programmes in areas such as enterprise resource planning, business intelligence and analytics. “We are building a larger skill set as we would like to be ready when the demand picks up,” said a TCS spokesperson. The IT company has also invited its employees to write research papers on technology that can be used by the company.

Reducing employee numbers for saving costs is a short-term solution, said Infosys global HR head Nandita Gurjar. “When demand picks up, we’ll be hiring skill pools at a higher cost; there will also be the cost of extra training. Weed out non-performers, but retain talent even if they are not being utilised currently.”

While Infosys has said that 50 employees, at any given point of time, can take a year off and work for an NGO at half their salaries, its peer Wipro has introduced project rejuvenate where employees, across all levels, can take a year-long sabbatical and pursue their hobbies. This is not restricted to those on the bench, but also for those working on projects. Even though these people are asked to take a pay cut, it does not matter. “As long as you get to keep your job and do fun things to de-stress, a pay cut doesn’t matter,” said a Wipro employee.

Job cuts planned for N.Y. Times, Washington Post

New York Times Co. will eliminate 100 jobs on the business side of its flagship paper and cut employee pay by 5% over the next nine months in exchange for 10 days of leave. The 5% reduction in pay will affect staffers at the Times, the Boston Globe, Boston.com and the company’s corporate unit.

Washington Post said it plans to offer buyouts to employees this year at the paper, affecting workers in its newsroom, production and circulation areas, as well as a small number of positions in the advertising and information-technology departments.

Google cuts 200 in second reduction of downturn

Source: MarketWatch
Google Inc. said Thursday it will cut nearly 200 jobs in its global sales and marketing teams due to unchecked growth and "overlapping organizations." The search giant announced the cuts in a posting on a company Web site.

Google announced its first-ever cuts of full-time employees in January, when it said it would eliminate 100 positions from its recruiting organization.

"In some areas we've created overlapping organizations which not only duplicate effort but also complicate the decision-making process," Google's senior vice president of global sales and business development, Omid Kordestani, wrote in the online posting Thursday.

"That makes our teams less effective and efficient than they should be. In addition, we overinvested in some areas in preparation for the growth trends we were experiencing at the time," he elaborated. Once criticized by Wall Street analysts for its torrid hiring pace, Google has in recent months sought to reduce its acquisition of new employees to a trickle. It has reported having 20,222 full-time employees as of Dec. 31. Google is only one of a number of technology giants opting to cut jobs amid the economic crisis.

Agilent Technologies to cut another 2,700 jobs as product demand drops

Agilent Technologies Inc. shares climbed more than 5% Thursday after the measurement-tools maker said it would cut 2,700 jobs in response to a sharp decline in product demand caused by the worldwide economic slowdown.

Santa Clara, Calif.,-based Agilent (A) will also temporarily suspend its share-buyback program until the end of its 2009 fiscal year.

Agilent shares rose 79 cents to $16.75 after the company made the announcement that it would cut approximately 14% of its workforce of almost 14,000 employees.

In a statement, Chief Executive Bill Sullivan said that "business remains severely depressed, and there are no prospects for a meaningful recovery in the foreseeable future."

As a result, the company will slash $300 million in costs from its electronic- measurement segment in order to reach a goal of 12% operating margins and a 21% return on investment capital for the division.

Amazon.com to Close Three Distribution Centers

Over the next two months, the online retailer, Amazon.com, will close 3 distribution centers: in Red Rock, Nev.; Munster, Ind.; and Chambersburg, Pa. The 210 employees in those three facilities were informed Wednesday. They will get severance packages and an opportunity to transfer to other Amazon shipping locations.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Patni cracks Japanese outsourcing mkt

Recession-hit Japan is finally looking at Indian providers of outsourcing services to cut cost. A case in point is Mumbai-based Patni Computer Systems, which has not only signed two $10 million deals in Japan in the recent past but has also witnessed increased traction in the region.

TCS puts productivity bar on staff

As part of cost-cutting to tackle the current downturn, the country’s largest software exporter, Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), has imposed “travel restrictions and put a productivity bar on its employees,” says Kesav V Nori, executive vice-president and executive director (TCS innovation lab — business systems).

“A lot of interchange has been made in our existing infrastructure. We have now increased the number of video conferences between people in India and web casts internally, to reduce the usage of wired lines, besides putting restrictions on travel,” Nori told Business Standard on the sidelines of a function to launch the company’s new computer-based functional literacy software in Urdu.

There was also a productivity bar to be met at various levels, he said. “Besides, there is a greater move of people from onsite to offshore,” he said, declining to give any numbers.

Nori, under whose supervision the Urdu software was developed, said software in Arabic, and Spanish and other European languages, were also being developed by TCS. “While the Arabic software will be ready in a month’s time, the Spanish software will take about three months. The idea is to provide a medium through local dialects for handling migration problems,” said Nori, who is retiring from TCS on March 31.

TCS joined the belt-tightening club of Wipro and Infosys last month, when it announced plans to review the variable component of its employees’ salaries every quarter. Variable pay accounts for 20-35 per cent of TCS employees’ gross salary. The company had cut the variable pay by around 1.5 per cent in February 2008.

Infosys has already started recalling about 25 per cent of its US-based sales teams since last year, while Wipro has announced that it has employed 30 cost-cutting measures, especially in operational efficiency, since the third quarter of this financial year.

Satyam shortlists key 100 employees to be retained

Troubled Satyam computers is believed to have short-listed 100 key employees to be retained in the company when a new owner takes control of it, which is expected to happen by April 30, reported The Economic Times.

Among the various pre-requisites, a shortlisted bidder, if he is finally selected as the owner, has to agree with retaining key employees for a year. A senior company official is understood to be assisting a special advisor to the board and a career consulting agency to identify key employees. The final list should get approved by the government-appointed board of Satyam.

Meanwhile, a company spokesperson said, "We are not aware of any short-listing being done by the mentioned individuals or by anyone else for that matter. It is absolutely speculative." However, according to a person close to the development, retention of key employees is needed for business continuity and to help the firm retain clients. "Key employees stood by the company during the crisis. While a new owner will bring his own team, the services of existing employees may be needed to help the new team in the initial phase," the person added.

NetApp CEO compensation drops 29 percent

NetApp Chief Executive Daniel J. Warmenhoven received a compensation package valued at $4.9 million for fiscal 2008, down 29 percent year-over-year, according to an Associated Press calculation of figures released in a government filing Monday.

As CEO of the Sunnyvale data storage company, Warmenhoven earned a base salary of $786,538, up 11 percent from $709,615 in 2007. But his performance-based bonus payments fell by nearly half to $507,160 from $986,365.

His stock option grants fell to $3.6 million, down 30 percent from $5.2 million. And those grants have little worth having been granted on June 1, 2007, when the company's stock closed at $30.74. Shares traded Monday below $16.

IBM to cut 5,000 jobs in U.S.

* Latest round hits more than 4 pct of U.S. workforce
* Job cuts mostly in IBM's global services business
* Shares close down 0.42 pct (Adds details on IBM's workforce, business)
IBM will cut about 5,000 jobs in the United States, adding to similarly large cuts in the past few months, sources with knowledge of the matter told Reuters on Wednesday.

The job cuts will account for over 4 percent of IBM's U.S. workforce, which totaled around 115,000 at the end of 2008. The sources, who were not authorized to speak publicly on the issue, said the cuts will mostly be in IBM's global services business, which includes outsourcing and consulting services.

An International Business Machines Corp spokesman declined to comment. The company, which had a total workforce of 398,455 as of end 2008, has not disclosed how many jobs it has cut so far this year, but has said it was making "structural changes" to reduce spending and improve productivity.

IBM, which now earns around two-thirds of its revenue from outside the United States, has been expanding its workforce in emerging markets like India and China.

At the end of 2008, employment in the BRIC countries -- Brazil, Russia, India and China-- totaled around 113,000.
, ,

Domestic IT cos may seek fewer H1Bs this year

Source: The Hindu Business Line
An uncertain business outlook coupled with pressure to trim onsite workforce as clients ask for price cuts could prompt Indian outsourcers to apply for lesser number of HI-B visas for 2009.

The H1-B programme allows US companies to bring in foreign skilled workers when such skills are in short supply. The US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will take H1-B applications for the next fiscal from April 1-7.

“I would think so: the number of applications will be substantially lower,” said Mr Ganesh Natarajan, Chairman of Nasscom, the apex industry body of software services companies, stating that it would be difficult to put a figure. “The duration for receiving applications is expected to be longer,” he said.

The USCIS recently said that it would continue to accept applications beyond the five-day stipulated period if it does not receive adequate number of applications to meet the annual cap of 65,000. Generally, the quota gets exhausted within the first two days.

H1-B recipients
Though Indian firms have been among the top H1-B recipients, they do not disclose the number of applications filed. In 2008, four of the top five H1-B recipients were Indian IT firms – Infosys Technologies, Wipro, Satyam and TCS, while the fifth was Microsoft. Infosys topped the 2008 list with 4,559 visas followed by Wipro (2,678), Satyam (1,917) and TCS (1,539).

“We will apply for H1-B based on our business requirements. It will be lesser than last year,” an official of a large IT services firm said.

Shrinking volumes
Faced with shrinking volumes and with new business hard to come by, as US customers reel under the impact of the economic crisis, Indian IT companies have resorted to reducing their onsite workforce in recent months.

“I don’t see that rush to grab visas this year,” said Mr Avinash Vashistha, CEO of Tholons Inc, an offshore advisory firm that helps clients with their outsourcing strategy.

Explaining why there could be a drop, Mr Vashistha said the Indian vendors are increasingly looking at a business model that’s not dependent on visas and includes hiring local workforce and in near shore locations.

Lower costs
Also, these vendors are keen on moving work offshore while agreeing to client requests for price cuts. Further, companies have significantly reduced their staff augmentation because of the availability of skilled resources locally, Mr Vashistha said.

Applying for lesser number of visas would mean lower costs and that would have a positive impact on their first quarter margins, said Mr Harit Shah, analyst at Angel Broking Ltd.

“The chances of getting a visa could be higher this year as the number of applications would be less and the smaller companies could benefit,” Mr Natarajan said.

MindTree CFO, Mr Rostow Ravanan, said the company’s business model uses less US visas and that they would be applying for fewer H1-B permits this year.

BSNL walks out on Satyam, shifts contract to HCL Infosystems

The biggest challenge facing any buyer of Satyam Computer Services is not to stop the company from losing more contracts but to win back the confidence of customers and get new contracts and renewals.

The scam-hit firm, which is now run by a government-board, has lost out on winning a major tender from Bharat Sanchar Nigam (BSNL), in its core area of expertise, ERP implementation, according to industry sources.

The tender has been awarded to HCL Infosystems, a source close to the situation said. BSNL was reluctant to award the contract to Satyam because of the uncertainty surrounding its future although the company made a strong pitch.

TCS cuts staff's travel, instead, utilises video conferences

Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) has adopted several measures like avoiding travel and moving people from onsite to offshore to cut down costs, a senior official of the company said here on Wednesday

"These are difficult times. One of the things we have increased is the number of video conferences between cities in India for people to discuss various matters. So we are making use of earlier infrastructure to a greater extent than before," Kesav Nori, Executive vice-president of TCS, told reporters.

"We are avoiding travel, using telephone and telephonic conversations, web casting... all these have increased internally. There is a greater move from people onsite to offshore," he said. There is also a great emphasis on making people more productive, Nori said. Replying to a query, he said all the campus recruitments made by the company will be honoured.

"All the campus recruitmens have been made, they will be honoured. They will be staggered because they have to join our training facilities. So TCS has been good. It is not there to do people out of jobs, but it wants everybody to become more productive," he said.

IBM Cutting More Jobs, Shifting Work to India

International Business Machines, a blue-chip tech company that has managed to continue to grow despite the global recession, is expected to eliminate a large number of U.S. employees from its global-business services unit, The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday.

Weeks after slashing nearly 5,000 jobs, IBM is expected to shift the work of a large number of U.S. workers to IBM employees working in India, the latest example of a successful company that is continuing to slash costs and take advantage of cheap Asian labor, the Journal reported.

Representatives from IBM did not immediately respond to a request for comment. IBM tends to carry out "stealth" layoffs by avoiding public disclosure.

IBM managers have been receiving training from human-resources specialists on handling the layoffs, the Journal reported.

The layoffs could impact a sizable amount of employees, as the global-business services unit is the tech giant's largest in terms of revenue and employment, with 180,000 workers worldwide, the Journal reported.

IBM isn't alone among profitable companies cutting costs to weather the economic storm -- for example, both Microsoft and Caterpillar announced plans earlier this year to slash 5,000 jobs each.

However, the apparent cost-cutting moves for IBM come as the company is said to be in talks to take over rival tech company Sun Microsystems for up to $8 billion.

The latest layoffs will only add to an already bleak labor picture in the U.S., which has been stuck in a recession since Dec. 2007. Last week the Labor Department said jobless claims filed by people out of work for more than one week soared by 185,000 to 5.47 million. The U.S. unemployment rate stands at 8.1% -- the highest level since Dec. 1983.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009


Indian IT firms may have to cut prices further

Already working on thin margins, the information technology (IT) services industry in India will have to cut prices by 5-20 per cent over the next three quarters, say analysts.

Global clients continue to keep purse strings tight and very few deals are coming from traditionally large markets like the Americas and Europe, which account for almost 80 per cent of revenues of most Indian IT firms.

The billing rates of most Indian IT firms in the third quarter were either flat or were cut, compared with the second quarter of the current financial year. For instance, Infosys’ pricing in Q3 came down by about 1.8 per cent compared with the second quarter. The pricing for Mindtree in Q3 was almost flat when compared with Q2.
Click here for complete story from BusinessStandard.

TCS unaffected by H-1B visa restrictions

Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), India’s largest exporter of software services, said on Monday that the restrictions on H-1B visa norms has had no impact so far.

“The restrictions on H-1B visa employees has not affected us so far,” said chief operating officer and executive director N Chandrasekaran. When asked if it would impact his businesses in the future, he said, “We will continue to monitor the developments on this issue.”

Industry analysts also believe that it is unlikely to have any major impact. “The Indian IT sector has indeed seen minimal impact due to H-1B restrictions. It is difficult to assess what the impact would be in the future,” said Apurva Shah, head of research for Prabhudas Lilladher, a Mumbai-based brokerage firm. “In any case, if at all there is an impact, it would be minimal, because Indian companies usually have more H-1B visa holders than required,” he added.

In the first week of March, TCS had announced that it would ask one per cent of its workforce to leave on the basis of non-performance. Commenting on that, Chandrasekaran added, “We do that every year. We have appraisals twice a year, and on the basis of their performance, we offer help to outplace them.”

He said his international clients are looking at offshoring more work to cut costs. TCS has made offers to around 24,000 trainees for the coming year. “We will be honouring all these offers,” he said. “Our employee utilisation rates have gone up to 79 per cent. We are comfortable to maintain it at that level,” he added.

TCS has also seen discretionary spending by its clients under stress. “Discretionary spending has been under stress. There will be more clarity on this from our clients in the coming quarters, hopefully by the end of the first quarter,” he said.

Infosys tells 50 of top employees: work with non-profit for a year, will pay you half your salary

Source: IndianExpress
In times of slowdown, Infosys Technologies Ltd, the country’s second largest software services company, has offered its top employees an option to work with a non-profit organization for a year but continue to earn half their income.

Asked if he was still hiring, Nandan Nilekani, Co-Chairman, Infosys, told Forbes that the company had launched a program where an employee can go and work with a non-profit organisation for a year “...and we’ll pay him half the salary for the duration.”

Mohandas Pai, a board member and Director, Human Resources and Education and Research and Administration, told The

Indian Express that the option was available to 50 of its seniormost employees. “They come immediately after the top deck,” he said. Pai said the company has restricted the kind of non-profit organisations employees can work with. “It has to be in the areas of public health and education or in regulatory bodies and industry associations,” he said, adding that these organisations must be secular and not have any religious affiliation. This is the first year of the programme and seven Infosys employees have opted for it.

Infosys has over 1 lakh employees in 50 offices spread across the world. “It is good quality people and not money that such (non-profit) organisations desperately need,” Pai said. Adding that Infosys may look at expanding the scope of the programme depending on the experience and response from employees.

Wipro may open second unit this year in Philippines

The local unit of global outsourcing giant Wipro Technologies wants to open a second call center in the Philippines within this year, less than two years after it opened its first Philippine facility in Cebu.

Wipro, whose parent Wipro Ltd. is listed on the New York Stock Exchange, opened its first Philippine call center at the Cebu IT Tower within the Cebu Business Park in April last year, with only 50 workers.

It is hiring 200 more workers to bring its work force to 600. In the next two to three months, 250 more workers will be hired and Wipro is expected to fully occupy all four levels — around 6,000 square meters — that it is leasing at the Cebu IT Tower.

Bankrupt Nortel to give $7.3 m bonus

A Canadian court has allowed eight senior executives at Nortel Networks Corp to share in the bonuses that the telecom equipment maker plans to pay out even as it fights for survival in bankruptcy protection.

Bankruptcy courts in both the US and Canada will allow Nortel Networks to pay as much as $7.3 million in incentive bonuses to the executives.

Nortel already had court approval to pay out a total of $45 million in bonuses for close to 1,000 executive and non-executive employees.

Hospira to cut 10 pct of jobs in efficiency drive

Medical products maker Hospira said on Tuesday it expects to cut about 10 percent of its workforce, or 1,400 jobs, as part of a plan to reduce costs and become more efficient.

Fund manager Western Asset cuts 10% of staff

Pasadena-based Western Asset Management today cut 10% of its workforce, joining the growing list of money managers that have slashed staff to cope with shrinking assets.

Western, the nation’s third-biggest manager of bonds and other fixed-income securities, said it cut 100 jobs worldwide, including at its headquarters on Colorado Boulevard.

HSBC Said to Plan 1,000 U.K. Job Cuts, Consider Closing Offices

Source: Bloomberg.com
HSBC Holdings Plc, Europe’s biggest bank by market value, may cut about 1,000 jobs in the U.K., according to a person familiar with the situation.

The jobs will be eliminated in processing and operations, and some administration sites may be closed, said the person, who declined to be identified because the information is confidential. London-based HSBC employs about 58,000 people in the U.K. and 330,000 worldwide.

Arbitron cuts jobs, reaffirms 2009 outlook

Media ratings service company Arbitron Inc (ARB.N) said it reduced its workforce of full-time employees by about 10 percent and reaffirmed its 2009 outlook.
* To reduce workforce by about 10 pct full-time employees
* Says reducing non-employee related expenses
* Sees pre-tax expenses of $8 mln-$9 mln in Q1
* Reiterates 2009 revenue and earnings outlook

Schlumberger says another round of layoffs coming

Houston’s vast oil field services industry took another blow Monday with word that Schlumberger is preparing for its second round of layoffs since January.

The world’s largest oil field services company, which in January announced plans to cut 6 percent of its work force, now expects “a further reduction of a similar amount” in coming months, Chief Executive Andrew Gould said at the 2009 Howard Weil Energy Conference in New Orleans.

While the first round of cuts — eliminating about 5,000 of the firm’s 84,000 global employees — should be largely completed by the end of March, Gould gave no specific timetable for the next phase of layoffs. A company spokesman did not yet know how the company’s Houston operations would be affected.

Playboy Enterprises closing NYC offices

Playboy Enterprises Inc. is closing its Manhattan office and laying off employees as it struggles with falling advertising revenue and a gloomy economic climate.

Company spokeswoman Martha Lindeman says Playboy employed about 100 people at the Fifth Avenue office in midtown. A majority of those jobs will be lost when the office is expected to close May 1.

GM lays off 160 white-collar workers at Warren

General Motors Corp. began white-collar layoffs today, telling about 160 workers at the Warren Technical Center that their last day will be April 1.

The move is just the beginning of GM’s plans to cut 3,400 salaried jobs in the United States this year. Worldwide, GM plans to cut 47,000 workers by the end of the year.

The job cuts are part of GM’s sweeping restructuring efforts to make the company viable. Salaried workers that are let go will receive severance packages. Most of the workers told they would be let go are engineers and support staff, Wilkinson said.

NewYork Gov. orders 8,900 layoffs

Gov. David Paterson on Tuesday ordered layoffs that could total about 4 percent of state workers after unions refused concessions amid a staggering economic downturn that was projected to push the state's deficit to $16 billion in the next year.

Budget Director Laura Anglin told The Associated Press that the layoffs of nearly 9,000 employees would be the first since the late 1990s after unions refused to even provide counterproposals. It was unclear if the eventual number of layoffs could be offset by attrition or early retirement incentives. Those are among the details that would be worked out in coming weeks.

Infosys defers hiring plans for engg grads by 6 mths

India’s second-biggest software exporter, Infosys Technologies, has postponed its hiring plans for engineering graduates this year by almost six months, as the company seeks to cope with a lower demand for software services in its top markets of US and Europe.

Next fiscal, Infosys will be interviewing potential employees by visiting top engineering colleges during eighth semester, and not sixth semester as before.

“Earlier, we used to give offers an year in advance, even one-and-half years in advance. We have changed that,” says Infosys board member and director, HR, TV Mohandas Pai, told ET .

Infosys have a target of hiring 25,000 employees this fiscal and based on this; it will be hiring another 9,000 employees till March, 2009. For the December quarter, Infosys and its subsidiaries added 5,597 employees on a gross basis, much lower than the previous quarter’s 10,117. Net employee addition stood at 2,772 for the quarter.

One of the reasons for scrapping advance hiring is that the company is moving towards a leaner bench. According to Mr Pai, Infosys’ current bench strength is at 20% of total employees, which is likely to come down to 10% and eventually stabilise between 10 and 15% in the coming fiscal. “Attrition is down because growth has come down and hence the need for bench is less. We are in the middle of an adjustment towards a leaner bench,” he pointed out.

The IT major has also tightened performance management norms and has placed around 5% of its global workforce (roughly 5,000 out of a total staff strength of 100,000-plus ) under the scanner. Senior managers have been asked to give the lowest performance rating to the ‘underperforming’ 5% as a part of the company’s consolidated relative ranking. Though rock-bottom rankings have been handed out earlier, this is the first time that Infosys has made it mandatory.

Pai said Infosys has been trying to make the organisational structure leaner and efficient resulting in some 100 positions being knocked off. “They are not being redeployed because these positions do not exist any longer. But it is a modest figure when compared to the overall numbers,” he said.

Meanwhile, the company has reduced the variable part of the board members’ compensation by 30% in the second quarter of the current fiscal and by an additional 20% in the third quarter.

California unemployment will hit 12 percent, UOP predicts

California's unemployment rate will peak at just over 12 percent late this year, according to a forecast today by the University of the Pacific. The rate won't drop back to single digits until late 2011, said forecaster Jeff Michael. Currently, unemployment statewide stands at 10.5 percent.

Michael, director of UOP's Business Forecasting Center, said the state will lose 950,000 nonfarm jobs by the time the recession ends. Throw in the effects of the water shortage, which is crippling many farm operations, and the total job loss will approach 1 million.

An unemployment rate of 12 percent would be the highest since modern record-keeping began in 1976. The previous high: 11 percent, reached three times in the early 1980s recession.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Xerox Plans Another $300 Million In Cost Cuts

Xerox Corp. (XRX) sees first-quarter earnings well below already-downbeat expectations in part on slumping spending by corporations as the company plans to cut another $300 million in costs. Details on where the savings would come from weren't disclosed, but the cost cuts come on top of plans to save $250 million this year, largely from last year's 5% cut in the work force.

Intel to freeze pay, help employees with 'underwater' stock options

Intel plans to freeze salaries and exchange employee stock options for new ones with a lower exercise price, the company said in a SEC filing Monday.

In a proxy statement filed with the Security & Exchange Commission in advance of its May 20 annual meeting, the Santa Clara semiconductor giant said its actions were a necessary response to the weak economy.

"In 2008, net revenue declined slightly and net income declined 24 percent compared to 2007," the company said in its filing. "Given Intel's financial performance in 2008 as well as uncertainty in the global economic environment, the committee elected to keep base salaries and annual incentive cash baselines flat for all listed officers in 2009."

Intel's shares were up 3.8 percent to $15.21 in late-afternoon trading. That's down from its 52-week high of $25.29 a share.
According to its proxy statement, Intel President and CEO Paul Otellini made $12.7 million in salary and other compensation in 2008.

The economy has pushed down the value of employee stock options. At the end of 2008, the company said, 99 percent of its stock option were "under water," meaning the exercise price exceeded the market price. Those options are held by 87 percent of Intel's 83,900 employees.

"We face a rapidly changing marketplace in which demand is shifting among mobile, desktop and server microprocessors, and the prices and margins of our products have been under pressure," the company said.

If approved by share holders, employees will be able to exchange options at a more favorable price. The potential impact, it said, could be the reduction of 285 million stock-option shares.

The move is needed, Intel said, to keep employees engaged. "The current situation provides a considerable challenge to maintaining employee motivation, as well as creating a serious threat to retention."

Daily Mail group to cut 1,000 jobs

The Daily Mail and General Trust (DMGT) media group said Monday it would cut 1,000 jobs this year, over twice as many as previously forecast. The job reductions, the latest blow to the ailing media sector, will hit its regional arm, although further cuts are planned “across all cost categories” at Associated Newspapers, owner of the Daily Mail and Mail on Sunday.

Mitsubishi UFJ to cut 1,000 jobs, shut 50 branches

Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group Inc. said Monday it will shutter dozens of branches and cut 1,000 jobs as part of continuing efforts to streamline operations since Japan's biggest bank was formed through a merger three years ago. Its core unit, the Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ, will close 50 domestic branches, eliminate 200 ATM locations and reduce its payroll by 1,000 positions through natural attrition over the next three years, said company spokesman Takashi Miwa. It has already closed about 70 branches and now operates about 670 outlets.

The bank will also transfer another 1,000 employees from its headquarters in Tokyo to local branches. The combined moves will lower headcount at the bank's main office by a third, Miwa said. The overall group has 78,000 employees.

Diacritech buys US-based KPO firm

Knowledge process outsourcing (KPO) company DiacriTech, which has a headcount of 700 and facilities in Chennai, Madurai and Kottayam, recently acquired US-based e-publishing outsourcing firm LaurelTech Integrated Publishing Solutions for an undisclosed sum.

Microsoft, HCL in tie-up to make affordable ERP available in India

Global IT firm Microsoft India has announced a partnership with Indian technology enabler HCL Infosystems to further augment the availability of Microsoft Dynamics NAV Business Essentials (BE) - Microsoft's ERP solution for growing businesses, across India. This partnership will expedite the process of making Microsoft's affordable ERP, NAV BE more extensively available across the country.

uReach Tech partners Hyd firm to tap carrier mart

uReach Technologies Inc, a US-based provider of lifestyle messaging solutions with its regional headquarters at Gurgaon, has formed a partnership with Hyderabad-based software product development solutions provider – MARS Telecom Systems – to deliver value-added services (VAS) to the Indian mobile, wireline and broadband service providers. The partnership follows uReach’s entry into the Indian carrier market in September 2008, when it opened its Indian headquarters in Gurgaon.

USCIS Issues 2009 H1-B Visa Plans

Restrictions for H1-B visa program imposed by Employ American Workers Act not likely to effect Silicon Valley's lust to hire foreign guest workers on a temporary basis, but potential legislation from Senators Charles Grassley and Richard Durbin could limit the practice.

The USCIS (U.S. Customs and Immigrations) said March 20 it would begin accepting H-1B visa applications April 1 -- as normal -- but with the various terms and conditions related to the recently approved EAWA (Employ American Workers Act) imposed. The changes are not likely to effect the Silicon Valley but will severely restrict banks and other financial institutions that heavily rely on the H1-B program.

The new law prevents a company from displacing U.S. workers when hiring H-1B specialty occupation workers if the company received stimulus funds from Congress. The law took effect Feb. 17 and applies to any "hire" taking place before Feb. 17, 2011.

IT outsourcing prices to fall -Gartner report

* Sees IT outsourcing prices dropping 5-20 pct through 2010
* Economy, IT budget constraints to hurt prices
(Source: Reuters) - Prices of IT outsourcing services will shrink 5 to 20 percent through 2010 due to the uncertain economic climate, IT budget constraints and competition between vendors, research firm Gartner said on Monday.

"This fall in prices will occur due to increasing competition in the market between traditional and new providers as more providers compete aggressively to keep revenue growth on target, while ensuring margins," Gartner said.

Gartner said it expects prices for application hosting services to fall by 10 to 20 percent and for network services to fall 10 to 15 percent. It sees prices for data centre service dropping 5 to 15 percent and help desk services 5 to 10 percent.

"These are not `price list reductions' but represent an overall price reduction on infrastructure outsourcing deals that may apply to new deals and, albeit only partially, to renegotiated deals," analyst Claudio Da Rold said in a statement.

GobalLogic expands Bangalore centre

GlobalLogic Inc, the leader in global product development services, has expanded its newest centre in Bangalore. LumenData, an innovative product company specializing in data management, has partnered with GlobalLogic for product development and implementation.

"We feel privileged that LumenData has chosen GlobalLogic as its partner to expand its presence in Bangalore," said Peter Harrison, CEO of GlobalLogic.

"GlobalLogic seeks only highly skilled engineers with several years of experience to join its global team. The centre in Bangalore is critical to our recruitment efforts in India. It's an important technology hub that gives us access to a pool of highly talented engineers," he said in a statement here today.

Cranes Software gets microfinance project from L&T Finance

Statistical analysis and simulation products developer Cranes Software International Ltd. has signed an agreement with L&T Finance Ltd, the financial arm of Larsen & Toubro, to implement a microfinance lending solution.

United Nations(UN) to terminate "direct" contract with Satyam

The United Nations has decided against having any dealings with the scam-hit Satyam Computer, a UN spokesman said on Monday. The current contracts with various agencies are being wrapped up, he said.

"Throughout the (UN) system, various bodies of the United Nations will wrap up the contracts. The details of these may need some fine-tuning and may need to be worked out in coming months. But certainly all the contracts are being wrapped up. Some in the pipeline will be completed but it will all be shut down," he added.

The United Nations in January suspended fraud-hit Satyam Computer from its vendor database. The software exporter was selected by the UN on the talent management project.

The UN has also asked one of its arms International Computing Centre (ICC) to replace the firm for its projects.

“The UN Secretariat has several projects under way with ICC that involve Satyam. Satyam is engaged as a sub-contractor of ICC.”

Alcatel-Lucent gets China Unicom 3G contract

Alcatel-Lucent on Monday said it received a contract to deploy and maintain third-generation mobile networks for Chinese telecommunications provider China Unicom in 14 of the country's provinces.

Alcatel-Lucent did not disclose the value of the contract, which will give some of Hong Kong-based China Unicom's cell phone customers faster speeds for surfing the Web and watching video on their phones.

IBM loses Telstra contract to Infosys Technologies; possible job losses in IBM India

Australia’s biggest phone company, Telstra Corp. has ended one of its information technology or IT outsourcing contracts with International Business Machines Corp. (IBM) and has given it to Infosys Technologies Ltd, ‘The Australian’ reported on Monday.

Less than a week ago, the newspaper had reported Telstra’s decision to terminate its IT outsourcing contract with fraud-hit Satyam Computer Services Ltd.

“IBM Global Services’ multi-million dollar applications support contract with Telstra has been scrapped as a result of the telco reducing its outsourcing partners from four to two,” the daily reported. “The decision to shift from IBM to Infosys could result in hundreds of job losses locally and in Bangalore, where IBM operates outsourcing centres.”

‘The Australian’ said IBM staff were told the scrapping of the vendor’s software support would represent about 50% of its $1 billion, six-year deal with Telstra, signed in early 2006.

TCS to launch passport service pilot in June, to hire 2,000

India's largest software company, TCS, plans to hire 2,000 people for the Passport Seva Project, which is ready for a pilot launch in June this year. The Rs 1,000-crore ministry of external affairs project was awarded to TCS last year and the company will set up 79 passport seva kendras (PSK) as part of the project.

Tanmoy Chakrabarty, vice-president, global government business group, TCS told FE that the company has already started recruiting for the project, which will expedite the process of issuance of passport to three working days post police verification.

"A mock passport seva kendras will be set up in New Delhi to train hires, which will take 3-4 weeks," said Chakrabarty. While the pilot launch will see the launch of 7 kendras in six cities, TCS plans to set up the rest by February-March 2010.

The personnel employed and trained by TCS will provide the citizen interface, which will include all aspects of collecting and processing application forms. "BPO aspects, like disaster recovery and troubleshooting, will also be involved," said Chakrabarty.

"The look and feel of the centres will be like that of international bank branches, as the project is based on experience and certainty," he said. Chakrabarty added that personnel will be trained to complete the process of submission of an application form within 45 minutes, instead of the present several hours. In case of passport requests under the taktal scheme, TCS will facilitate issuance on the same day; this process currently takes 7-15 days.

The project will also have representatives from ministry of external affairs, who will do the final vetting of applications.

Chakrabarty, however, didn't reveal the investment details of the project. He also declined to share the revenue that TCS expects out of the project, though he said that every year, at least 5 million passports are issued and TCS will be paid per passport.

Satyam defers joining date of freshers

Satyam Computer has deferred the joining dates of freshers, citing the global economic slowdown and the turn of events in the once iconic firm, while stopping short of asking them to look for jobs elsewhere.

"Accordingly, it has been decided to defer the joining dates for the campus hires, until further intimation. We expect and recognise that this will cause a disruption in your plans and do sincerely regret the inconvenience caused.

"We would like you to know that this decision was made after careful deliberations and only after all other practical options were exhausted. While unfortunate, it has also been unavoidable. Added to this, was an unprecedented set of events in the organisation, over the past few weeks, which has been most unfortunate", said company HR head of S V Krishnan in an email to all the freshers.

The company is in the process of restating its accounts, which is crucial to determining the future of its over 50,000 employees.

"This scenario combined with the continuing volatility in the business environment, necessitates that we optimise... and critically re-examine additional requirements (for new-hires) on an ongoing, quarterly basis", he said.

"The IT services industry in India and around the world has been observing the impact of the unfolding global economic crisis. The rate of growth, is half of what it used to be at around 40 per cent Y-o-Y," he said.

Satyam Receives Contract From India-based Vijaya Dairy to Implement SAP Solutions

Monday, scandal-hit Indian software major Satyam Computer Services Ltd. said that it was awarded a contract to implement SAP Business All-in-One solutions for Vijay Dairy & Farm Products, a dairy processing company based in India. The financial aspects of the deal are not revealed. The new contract is said to be a breather for Satyam, at a time when it faces contract discontinuations from certain clients.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Nike to realign operations, cut workforce

Athletic-shoe maker Nike plans to reorgainse its Nike Brand into a new model consisting of six geographical areas across the globe, with an increased focus on the core category business. Previously, the marketing of the brand was organised between just four regions globally.

As per the new plan, Nike would now operate in six regions of North America, Western Europe, Eastern / Central Europe, Greater China, Japan and Emerging Markets. The prior marketing model of Nike was based on four regions, that included US, Asia Pacific, Europe and Middle East & Africa.
, ,

US sets new H-1B hiring norms for companies on bailout programme

The US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) today announced additional requirements for employers, who receive funds through the Troubled Asset Relief Programme or under section 13 of the Federal Reserve Act (covered funding), before they may hire a foreign national to work in the H-1B specialty occupation category.

The additional measures for hiring foreign specialists under the H-1B visa work programme will make it more difficult for the firms receiving government bailout to hire overseas workers and deal a body blow to Indian professionals seeking employment in the US.

These measures come about 10 days before the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) starts accepting petitions for new H-1B visas for the fiscal year beginning October 1, 2009.

The new `Employ American Workers Act,' (EAWA), signed into law by President Obama as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act on 17 February 2009, was enacted to ensure that companies receiving covered funding do not displace US workers, a government release said.

Under this legislation any company that has received covered funding and seeks to hire new H-1B workers is considered an `H-1B dependent employer.' All H-1B dependent employers must make additional attestations to the US Department of Labor (DOL) when filing the Labor Condition Application.

EAWA applies to any labor condition application (LCA) and/or H-1B petition filed on or after 17 February 2009, involving any employment by a new employer, including concurrent employment and regardless of whether the beneficiary is already in H-1B status. The EAWA also applies to new hires based on a petition approved before 17 February 2009, if the H-1B employee had not actually commenced employment before that date.

EAWA does not apply to H-1B petitions seeking to change the status of a beneficiary already working for the employer in another work-authorised category. It also does not apply to H-1B petitions seeking an extension of stay for a current employee with the same employer.

USCIS is revising the application form (Form I-129) for non-immigrant worker to include a question asking whether the petitioner has received covered funding. USCIS will post this revised form on the USCIS Web site in time for the next cap subject H-1B filing period that begins on April l, 2009.

''While USCIS encourages petitioners, whenever possible, to use the most up-to-date form, USCIS will not require use of the revised form in time for the start of the filing period for fiscal year 2010,'' the release said.

USCIS, however, said H-1B petitions that are already prepared for mailing using the previous Form I-129 (January 2009 version) need complete only the page in the revised version of the Form I-129 (March 2009) which has the new question on EAWA attestation requirements and to file this single page with the prepared package.

A valid LCA must be on file with DOL at the time the H-1B petition is filed with USCIS. This means that if the petitioner indicates on its petition that it is subject to the EAWA, but the labor condition application does not contain the proper attestations relating to H-1B dependent employers, USCIS will deny the H-1B

Indian software firms eye defence contracts

The terror attacks and the continuous security braches in the country has opened up opportunities for Indian software firms in the defence sector. The software companies are eyeing the various Information and communication technology (ICT) contracts worth $500 million of the defence forces, expected to be dished out within next three years.

The defence forces are looking at setting up of new real time software systems and replacement of legacy communication systems, IT industry officials and analysts told Business Line. IT firms such as IBM, Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), Rolta and others see opportunity as a large chunk of work would come in the areas related to setting up of strategic communication systems, tactical communication systems, battlefield management systems etc. K. K. Singh, Chairman and CEO, Rolta India said, "The communication systems used by our defence forces are about 20-25 years old. The establishment is keen to upgrade tactical equipment systems used by our forces. We see significant opportunities in this space."

Apart from communication systems, firms would also be roped in for development of core applications such as ERP and for inventory management and e-maintenance of defence systems and equipment. In the defence space, however, things have not changed much. "The slowdown has not yet impacted the pace of projects. Having said that, one must look at this market from a five-year horizon," said Puneet Gupta, Vice-President, Public Sector, IBM India/South Asia.

Remaining 1000 freshers to join TCS

There's finally good news for the remaining Tata Consultancy Services' (TCS) campus recruits. According to a report in a business daily, the country's largest computer-services provider plans to complete the process of bringing on board the campus recruits of 2008-09 by this month-end.

The news brings relief to some 1000-odd freshers waiting in the wings. Having passed out in June-July 2008, many of these campus recruits have been waiting for months.

The company has also reportedly completed the procedure of communicating the date of joining to its employees-in-the-wings.

The Tata Group company gave over 22,000 offer letters to freshers for 2008-2009. Of this, around 21,000 employees have already joined the company.

Recently, the IT major decided to lay off about 1,300 of its workforce in the next few months, as they have, according to the company, failed to meet performance standards.

The company has also increased employee working hours to 45 hours a week from the present 40 hours per week level. The company may also freeze variable pay of its over 1 lakh employees as part of a string of cost-cutting initiatives to cope with the pangs of the global meltdown.

Slowdown bug bites TCS, no more benches

The IT companies earn more when they employ more but that’s now a thing of the past. Recession has clearly taken a toll on business with not many new projects coming in and existing clients cutting back on their IT budgets.

The gates to the largest Indian IT company TCS is gradually closing for engineering graduates. How would it impact the aspiring IT engineers and the company? There would be no more offer letters in advance and a slim chance of employment for the ones who finally graduate, and that only if the company has more business on hand and needs to recruit.

However, for S Ramadorai, the CEO of TCS, the bigger worry now is to deal with the existing bench—the idle number of employees that typically amounts to 15-20 per cent for an IT company and for TCS which employs over 1,30,000 employees, it’s a daunting task. "We cannot afford benches anymore. We will redeploy and retrain existing bench and put a freeze on lateral hirings. The non-performers will have to find alternatives, " Ramadorai said.

So, even if Ramadorai tactfully puts it, more layoffs in TCS is a reality and the company also plans to make changes in variable pay structures to tame employee cost and link salaries more and more to the performance of the company.
"One change is to increase variable pay component and even make adjustments in the existing structure. There is a lot of room for cost cutting," Ramadorai said.

Well, the IT companies incur almost 50 per cent of the total cost on employees. Now, in these tough times when business is not fast and thick, it is this expenditure that they are aiming to axe. Therefore, a tough job market and more layoffs are inevitable.

Infosys may bag large govt deal

Infosys Technologies may win a large IT project from the government, which will run on a transaction-based pricing model, similar to the passport processing contract its larger rival Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) won last year, according to industry sources. The contract is among the many large IT contracts that are up for bidding from government departments or public sector undertakings. A final decision is expected in the next 15-20 days, but the possibility of the elections causing further delay cannot be discounted, said an industry source. If Infosys bags the project, it will be its first mega win in the public sector.

Electroglas cuts 15% of workforce, plans for more

Electroglas, which cut its work force by 15 percent and reduced salaries for those remaining by the same amount, said the steps were “not enough to compensate for the precipitous drop in revenue” during its fiscal 2009 third quarter, for which it released results today.

The company, which supplies wafer probing equipment and software used by chip makers, said it is in the process of “adjusting to these business realities and have additional plans in place to dramatically lower our break even point which should return us to positive gross margins this quarter.”

U.S. Postal Service(USPS) cuts 1,400 jobs

The U.S. Postal Service said that it is closing six of its 80 district offices. In addition, administrative staff positions at district level nationwide are being reduced by 15 percent and nearly 150,000 employees nationwide being given opportunity to take an early retirement. More than 1,400 mail processing supervisor and management positions are also being eliminated.

Lam Research cuts 375 jobs

Lam Research is getting rid of approximately 375 regular, temporary and contract workers, or about 10 percent of its total workforce, with roughly 225 of the employees being eliminated from locations in North America, with the rest located throughout Asia and Europe, the company said today in a regulatory filing.

The layoffs are expected to be substantially complete by the June quarter, but the timing “may vary by country based on local legal requirements.”

Saturday, March 21, 2009

First Data lays off more employees

Global technology company First Data is laying off a second wave of employees as it closes its Coral Springs call center. The company told the state labor department this week it is laying off 105 workers at the site, 4000 Coral Ridge Dr., by May 12. That's in addition to 159 the company told the state about last month. Those workers will be laid off by April.

A third wave of layoffs is possible, a company spokeswoman said. First Data has said this is a cost-cutting move. The affected employees were told of the plan in July and will receive severence pay, according to the company. Other First Data departments at the site will remain after the call center closes.

California economy worsens, unemployment at 10.5 percent

California's unemployment rate rose to 10.5 percent in February, its highest in nearly 26 years, as most industries in the most populous U.S. state slashed payrolls.

California's high-technology companies, for instance, felt the brunt of job losses earlier this decade after the implosion of dot.com companies.

The increase underscores how the U.S. financial crisis and slump in consumer spending it prompted is battering California's economy, the world's eighth largest, and compounding troubles brought on by its prolonged housing downturn.

At 10.5 percent, California's unemployment rate is at its highest level since April 1983 and has increased for 11 consecutive months, economist Steve Levy of the Center for the Continuing Study of the California Economy said on Friday after officials reported on the state's labor market.

Boeing handing out another 900 layoff notices

Boeing Co. is handing out another 900 layoff notices, 650 of those to Commercial Airplane workers in the Puget Sound area.

Spokesman Tim Healy says the 60-day warnings sent out Friday will take effect May 22 or later. He says they are part of the planned 10,000 job cuts this year that Boeing announced in January.

About 1,100 layoff notices that were handed out in February will take effect April 24. Boeing has said it hopes many of the cuts will be handled by not filling the jobs of people who retire or leave for other reasons. Healy says Boeing is meeting Friday with the Machinists union to discuss the notices.

Friday, March 20, 2009

IBM's bid to acquire Sun might cost jobs

Source: denverpost.com
A reported negotiation to purchase Sun Microsystems could mean layoffs for two of the region's largest employers.

Boulder's largest private-sector employer, IBM Corp., reportedly is in talks to purchase Sun Microsystems Inc., Broomfield's biggest, in a move that has analysts pondering corporate culture clashes and possible job losses.

Several published reports Wednesday citing unnamed sources said IBM is offering at least $6.5 billion in cash to acquire longtime rival Sun.

Neither company commented on the reports.

Analysts said a combination of Armonk, N.Y.- based IBM and Santa Clara, Calif.-based Sun likely would produce job cuts.

IBM employs about 3,400 at its campus in north Boulder. Sun Microsystems has an estimated 2,500 workers at its facility in Broomfield's Interlocken business park.

"It's certainly always a concern when you have a merger or an acquisition and there is duplication in job functions," said Don Dunshee, president and chief executive of the Broomfield Economic Development Corp. "We'd hate to see any adjustments to their employment numbers."

IBM would benefit from acquiring Sun's large share in the computer-server market and gaining access to Sun's customer base in finance, telecommunications and government, analysts said.

But the deal would create strange bedfellows, said University of Colorado economist Gary Horvath.

"You've got a West Coast company and an East Coast company with distinctly different corporate cultures," he said.

Former Sun chief executive Scott McNealy "has been quite an IBM basher over the years," said technology analyst Frank Gillett of Forrester Research in Cambridge, Mass. "It would be very curious to see them combine."

Gillett said Sun is known for having "a lot of cool technology but not much recognition in the market for it."

Reports of IBM's possible purchase sent Sun shares soaring $3.92 Wednesday to $8.89, a gain of 79 percent. IBM was down 96 cents, or 1 percent, to $91.95.

Until Wednesday, Sun's stock had fallen about 70 percent over the past year as restructuring efforts and thousands of layoffs failed to prevent two straight quarterly losses with prospects for a third, according to analysts' estimates.

Sun said in November that it would cut up to 6,000 jobs, 18 percent of its global workforce, after terminating 7,000 positions in the previous three years. Sun does not disclose regional employment totals, but economists have estimated that its Colorado workforce has dropped from about 3,500 in 2007 to 2,500 now.

IBM's workforce in U.S. declines in '08 but grows overseas

Company's overall workforce increased slightly last year
The number of workers that IBM employs in the U.S. declined by about 5% last year, but the company's overall head count is increasing because of overseas hiring.

IBM finished 2008 with 115,000 U.S. employees, down from the 121,000 it reported at the end of 2007, according to its most recent annual report released this month. Overall, IBM finished 2008 with 398,455 employees worldwide, an increase of nearly 12,000, or about 3%.

In 2007, IBM said it had 98,000 employees in Brazil, China, India and Russia, but that number increased by 15% to 113,000 last year. Most of those employees are in India.

IBM continues to cite the U.S. as the country with its largest workforce, but it is not providing a breakout of head count for India, which may well be the second-largest country for employment. In 2007, IBM said it had 74,000 workers in India.

IBM's head count could change substantially if it buys Sun Microsystems Inc. or another company this year.

Sun employed 34,900 worldwide last year, but recently announced reductions of as many as 6,000 employees. Both companies are reportedly in merger talks. The two companies have neither confirmed nor denied the reports.

IBM recently instituted a program for employees in the U.S. to take jobs overseas, but if they choose to go, these employees would be paid at local rates, not at U.S. wage levels.

IBM has had about 4,000 layoffs in the U.S. this year, according to the union Alliance at IBM.

Five great products IBM would get by buying Sun

Courtesy: computerworld
1. VirtualBox. Sun acquired German-based Innotek in 2008. This is a really innovative desktop virtualization product that despite having more than four million downloads needs more visibility. http://www.computerworld.com/action/article.do?command=viewArticleBasic&articleId=9062319

2. Q-layer. Sun acquired this company in January. The company, based in Belgium, manages and automates deployment of public and private clouds.

3. MySQL. We all know the Swedes make great companies. MySQL is a next gen database company who will find a welcome home at IBM which loves all things database.

4.Neogent. Sun acquired this identity management company in 2006. This company was really an identity management database building tool. This is increasingly important as database security systems get built, combined and must remain secure themselves.

5. Kealia. I saved the best for last. Andy Bechtolsheim was a Sun Micrososystems founder. He also is about the smartest guy around in networks (He essentially built Cisco's Catalyst 4000 family). While IBM has been moving away from hardware, Andy could be the catalyst for the next gen unified storage,computing, network platform.

Is computer science the one smart major in a recession?

A number of outlets are reporting on the rise in computer science majors at American universities. For years, the number of graduates with a computer science degree has been falling as the comp sci boom of the 90s left some pretty poor job prospects for graduates.

Now, however, the recession has made one thing clear. No matter how much the economy stinks, we need computers and we need them to work better, more efficiently, and in ways that make people more productive. There is no doubt that the tech sector is getting hit by the recession. Everyone from Sun to Microsoft seems to be laying off workers are avoiding contract renewals.

On the other hand, as an article on VNUNet points out,

[Figures released by the US Department of Labor predict that IT jobs will see some of the strongest growth of any profession in the US by 2010. Demand for applications programmers is expected to grow by more than 100 per cent, and overall the IT sector is forecast to expand by over a third.]

Essentially, once the recovery begins, IT will be the first to flourish and computer science grads will be the first to benefit.

[“Competitive advantage, driven by innovation, has never been more important, ” said Daniel Reed, current chairman of the CRA.]

HP India launches HP Software University

Hewlett-Packard (HP) in partnership with the Indian Institute of Hardware Technology (IIHT) on Thursday announced the launch of ‘HP Software University’ (HPSU). This first of its kind program from HP in the non-enterprise training space aims to address the growing demand of software testing professionals in India.

The program will offer students accredited training on HP Software and a curriculum path surrounding various testing software from HP like Quick Test professional and LoadRunner. Certified professionals would gain access to special HP Software online resources providing the latest in software news, product information, job openings and more.

The university will be initially launched in Mumbai, Delhi, Pune, Kolkata, Hyderabad, Noida, Chennai and Bangalore and HP has plans to add more cities over the next few months.

Keshava Raju, CEO, the Indian Institute of Hardware Technology, said, “Keeping in mind the tremendous market for soft ware testing tools, we have partnered with HP. With this program, our graduates will be equipped with unique skills that will benefit and make them more marketable.

"We want to expose our students to products and technologies used by leading corporations in the real world," he added.
“HP Software University is aimed at providing students a competitive edge in the software testing industry. With HPSU, students and professionals will have access to numerous opportunities in the technology industry," said Neelam Dhawan, Managing Director, HP India.

The HP Software University is the only HP authorized program offering students and professionals the opportunity to attend an official and accredited training on HP Software testing tools.

"The HP software university’s mission is to prepare its students for the real world of business and IT," said Roy Chermana, director, Educational Services - HP Software, APJ. "The program and its students will be directly monitored by an HP worldwide team at each stage right from the inception to final certification."

HP launches program to train software testers

"As applications become more complex, testing is going to be the need of the hour, while the sector which is growing about 45 percent annually among the various verticals of application development faces shortages of trained testers," said Neelam Dhawan, Managing Director, HP India. Blaming Indian IT education system which follows the curriculum that is not subjected to upgradation frequently, Neelam opines that Indian institutes fail to produce graduates who are updated with latest trends in technology.

Intending to fill the gap between education and employability and help the graduates to become well trained software testing professionals, HP, one of the testing majors has launched HP Software University (HPSU) in partnership with Indian Institute of Hardware Technology (IIHT).

The first of its kind program from HP will offer students accredited training on HP software and a curriculum path surrounding various testing software from HP like Quick Test professional and LoadRunner. Certified professionals would gain access to special HP software online resources providing the latest in software news, product information, job openings and more.

Software testing is a $13 billion market globally today and India is expected to contribute 70 percent of this. "Keeping in mind the tremendous market for software testing tools, we have partnered with HP and with program our students will be equipped with unique skills that will benefit and make them more marketable," said Keshava Raju, CEO, IIHT.

As per the estimates India is currently facing a shortage of 18,000 software testers and it may grow to 25,000 in the coming years. HP is eying to fill this gap by setting up training centers in Mumbai, Delhi, Pune, Kolkata, Hyderabad, Noida, Chennai and Bangalore. The company has plans to extend the program to more cities over the next few months.

Sony Plans U.K. Job Cuts as Part of Global Reduction of 8,000

Sony Corp., the world’s second largest consumer-electronics maker, plans to cut jobs in the U.K. as part of its reduction of 8,000 full-time positions globally at its electronics operations.

Sony on Dec. 9 said it will cut 8,000 full-time jobs at its electronics business worldwide, or 5 percent of the operation’s workforce, as consumers curb spending on televisions, game machines and music players during the global recession.

U.S. Olympic Committee lays off another 54 employees to cut costs

The United States Olympic Committee (USOC) has laid off 54 employees in an effort to reduce its operating budget in the current tough economic climate. The 54 job losses, which represent 13 percent of the USOC's workforce, will be spread across the organisation, including the most senior level of management.

Graco To Slash 8% Workforce

Graco Inc., announced an 8% reduction in its global employee base, citing continued negative impact of global recession on its businesses. The Minneapolis, Minnesota-based company would now reduce its workforce by 8% or approximately 180 people, resulting in a pretax charge of $4 million related to severance in the first quarter of fiscal 2009.

Why would IBM buy Sun Microsystems? Software, services

Source: SanJoseMercuryNews
With IBM reportedly in talks to buy Sun Microsystems, industry experts say the two tech giants — both of which earned early fortunes by selling expensive hardware — are looking to a future based on a much broader range of computing gear, software and tech services.

"It's about the whole data center," said Chris Foster, a veteran analyst at Technology Business Research, noting that a deal would give IBM control over Sun's cornerstone Java programming language and other valuable software, as well as access to hardware customers and highly profitable contracts for consulting and other services.

Both companies declined to comment Wednesday on reports that IBM is negotiating a possible $6.5 billion purchase of Sun — a deal that would shake up the global tech industry and spell the demise of a venerable but now-struggling Silicon Valley pioneer. After its founding in 1982, Sun built a hugely successful business selling powerful computer workstations and later the servers behind much of the first Internet boom.

News of the talks first surfaced Wednesday in The Wall Street Journal, which cited unnamed sources familiar with the discussions. While those sources said a deal could be struck this week, analysts said it is by no means certain, and even suggested Sun might entertain offers from other suitors.

But if the sale occurs, analysts say it would reverberate through the ranks of other tech giants, including Hewlett-Packard and Cisco Systems, which are also expanding their range of data center products and services. It could open the door to more acquisitions as competitors jockey to fill gaps in their own portfolios.

It also could produce substantially more layoffs in an industry already reeling from the recession, as IBM seeks to mitigate the cost by cutting redundant positions in sales, administration, research and development.

Acquiring Sun would give IBM a boost in the computer server market, where the New York company has long competed with Palo Alto-based HP for the position of market leader. Sun is the world's fourth-largest seller of servers, the industrial-strength computers that are the building blocks of most data centers; it had about 10 percent of the market and $5.5 billion in server revenue last year.

Each company has its own lines of hardware, but there is enough overlap that some analysts questioned the benefit of a deal. Though IBM was originally known for its big mainframes, it has in recent years divested its personal computer business and shifted its focus to software and services — which contributed 80 percent of IBM's $104 billion in revenue last year and helped it post a 12 percent increase in profit for its last quarter, despite the global economic slowdown.

Sun, meanwhile, has posted losses in the past two quarters and struggled for several years because the biggest part of its revenue comes from high-end servers and storage systems that many customers are no longer buying. In acquiring Sun, Credit Suisse analyst Bill Shope wrote in a note to investors, IBM would be "doubling down in one of the most secularly challenged segments in servers. In our view, the acquisition makes little strategic sense."

Reports of the talks drove IBM's stock down 1 percent to close at $91.95 on Wednesday, while Sun's stock soared 79 percent, to $8.89.

Sun has based its current business strategy on open-source software and on developing new technology for cost-conscious customers. In recent months, the company has been at the industry's vanguard in offering new storage and server systems that exploit innovations in software and solid-state memory. It's also been developing new cloud-computing services for software developers and Web-based businesses.

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