By Scot Petersen  |  Posted 2004-12-20 Print this article Print

Comply, comply, comply

Public companies got a reprieve this year and didnt have to comply with the Sarbanes-Oxley Act until Nov. 15, rather than the original June 15 deadline. That gave technology vendors time to get more SarbOx solutions in the pipeline.

Regardless, IT organizations around the country spent much of their time getting ready for Sarbox—when they were not fighting off spam and phishing attacks, that is. According to a CIO Insight survey in May, 88 percent of CIOs reported their IT departments were "very involved" in compliance projects, and 67 percent said their companies were investing in new financial systems to aid in compliance projects.

No one knows for sure if all this compliance will prevent more Enron Corp.- or WorldCom Inc.-style accounting scandals, but at least a lot of old accounting systems are getting updated.

CA under fire

CA and Sanjay Kumar made us get misty and nostalgic for 2001. In April, Kumar resigned as chairman and CEO and put himself in limbo as CAs new chief software architect, only to leave the company for good in June, citing ongoing investigations by the U.S. Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission. Kumar was then indicted on fraud and obstruction charges in September. Lewis Ranieri, of Liars Poker and Salomon Brothers fame, was elected chairman of the board. Last month, CA tapped longtime IBM software executive John Swainson as CEO over interim chief executive Ken Cron.

Meanwhile, Ranger Governance Ltd., led by Texas billionaire Sam Wyly, a major CA shareholder, moved to reopen a class action suit against the company because it is not satisfied that stiff fines, executive indictments and a deal with the government to settle fraud charges have cured what ails CA. Strangely, the company performed well amid the chaos, with its stock up about 15 percent for the year.

VOIP at your service

You could call it a quiet revolution.

Voice-over-IP services, which have been around for years but only in niches, broke through in 2004, and it suddenly doesnt seem so far-fetched anymore that VOIP could displace traditional plain old telephone service. Last month, Vonage Holdings Corp., a broadband phone company, won a Federal Communications Commission ruling, 5-0, that its VOIP service was exempt from state and local regulation and tariffs. The FCC backed a petition from Vonage that its communications business was interstate in nature and insulated from regulation by individual states.

And another thing ...

No year in review would be complete without a check on Microsoft, whose biggest news this year was its $3-per-share, or $30 billion, dividend windfall awarded this month. The company also patched things up with Sun Microsystems Inc. in April but had to scramble to deal with a Windows 2000 source code leak in February.

For its part, Sun continued to struggle, outside of the $1.6 billion settlement with Microsoft. The company made strides with its Open Solaris initiative, but its proposed license has some developers worried. ... The presidential election last month delivered a mandate of sorts but not on the future of electronic voting, which was plagued by bugs and security flaws. ... Bloggers crawled out into the sunshine and became a force in technological and political discourse, even earning press credentials at both presidential conventions for the first time. ... For the first fall since 1979, there was no Comdex, which had long lost its luster but remained the premier annual gathering for the industry. Still, there were reports of techies wandering around Las Vegas in search of the Katt party. ...

The browser wars are back as The Mozilla Foundations Firefox emerged as a legitimate alternative to hole-ridden Internet Explorer. The issue was highlighted this month when Pennsylvania State University asked its 80,000 students to refrain from using IE and switch to Firefox or the open-source Opera browser. ... Hewlett-Packard Co. stumbled in the middle of the year due to "poor execution" in its storage division, said CEO Carly Fiorina, but rebounded in the second half of the year. ... RFID (radio-frequency identification) was on everybodys lips, but 2005 will likely be its breakout year. ...

After multiple delays, Inc. finally went public in June; meanwhile, in May, former IBM executive Michael Lawrie replaced Tom Siebel as CEO of Siebel Systems Inc. ... The SCO Group Inc. battled on in its fight for intellectual property rights, as Linux vendors took measures to indemnify its customers from liabilities. ... The iPod became the apple of millions of music lovers eyes as Apple Computer Inc. shipped more than 2 million units in its fourth fiscal quarter alone. ... And, finally, the 86-year-old "curse" against the Boston Red Sox came to a dramatic end in October with a little help from the teams investment in technology. As Stan Gibson reported in his Nov. 29 story, the Soxs Dave Roberts used the teams digital video system to help spark the epic comeback against the New York Yankees. May all technology investments pay such dividends for everybody in 2005.


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