Now Merger Must Prove Good for Customers

Now the hard work begins for Carly Fiorina and the HP-Compaq integration team.

Now the hard work begins for Carly Fiorina and the HP-Compaq integration team. If the thin margin of victory that HP proclaimed holds up through the counting process, the speed with which the two decidedly different cultures can be meshed will dictate the success or failure of the merged entity. Wooing shareholders is easy work compared with wooing customers that have lots of vendor alternatives. If the first half of the HP-Compaq merger game focused mostly on why the deal was good for investors, the second half of the game will hinge on convincing customers that the deal is good for them also.

As Paula Musich states in her article on the future of HP-Compaqs service operation in this weeks issue ("Integrating Services to Be Key"), the best way to integrate the two companies may be to separate the services business. IBMs Global Services organization has wisely been careful to avoid being viewed as a company that in the end recommends only IBM products. The combined HP-Compaq service operation represents a new $15 billion player in a business dominated by IGS and Electronic Data Systems. The service business is not one that allows many miscues or false starts.

While much of the merger focus this week was on HP-Compaq activity, the buying activity in the software industry is of equal interest. Companies such as Titan Ventures and Divine have been busy scooping up lots of software companies at bargain rates. For the latest on the great software roll-up, see Dennis Callaghans article "Firms Acquired as Value Falls".

What happens when you take some of the top security experts from the research and vendor communities and have them engage in a lively debate hosted by Technology Editor Peter Coffee? In this weeks Special Report on security ("Security Roundtable"), Peter tackles some of the touchiest security issues now facing IT. Will Microsoft really make security its top priority? What about that "unbreakable" promise from Oracles Larry Ellison? Did Sun really build in security from the outset? Why does one participant feel that many of the security projects address only 10 percent of problems and miss the biggest ones at that? No one gets off with an easy answer when Peter is at the helm.

And if you think security issues will become any less of a concern with the rise of Web services, think again. As part of the Security Report, West Coast Technical Director Tim Dyck takes a look at the current state of the security art in Web services and finds much lacking ("Here Be Dragons Web Services Risks"). As Tim points out, Web services will be at the heart of future business-to-business networks, and the time to deal with security is now, in the planning stage, rather than when those systems are deployed.

Have you got a handle on your Web services security? Write to me at