Stories by Tom Pullar-Strecker

HP reports $27m loss in NZ

Hewlett-Packard's New Zealand subsidiary has had another year to forget, with revenues falling 10 percent to $736 million and its annual loss ballooning from $10m to $27m.

HP-EDS shrinks after mega-merger

Hewlett-Packard's New Zealand revenues increased by only 51 per cent to $816.2 million following its assimilation of the local arm of information technology services giant EDS while its losses widened by $1.5m to $10.3m.

Cabinet takes tighter grip of $2b IT spend

The Government will take a carrot-and-stick approach to coax departments into making better use of the $2 billion they spend on computer systems each year. Internal Affairs Minister Nathan Guy said the Cabinet had approved a policy that meant departments could only opt out of using shared services and centralised purchasing of technology if they could show a "compelling business reason". The Treasury will report back to the Cabinet by March on providing incentives to chief executives to toe the line. A Cabinet minute showed that some large agencies, including the Police, the Defence Force, the Justice Ministry and the Social Development Ministry, had raised concerns about the change to an opt- out regime. They said the practical and cost implications needed further consideration. Internal Affairs chief executive Brendan Boyle, who will take over as Government chief information officer from State Services deputy commissioner Peter Brown in February, said the agency's concerns were understandable but could be overcome. The new policy did not go as far as saying "thou shalt all do the same thing", he said. "It acknowledges . . . you need a certain degree of flexibility. "The reality is that if you have got good (shared) products and systems that you can use, then start there. And if they don't meet the need, then prove the case." A 2008 survey by the State Services Commission found 80 per cent of the Government's $2b budget for computer technology was spent keeping systems running and only 20 per cent on new initiatives, and that some of that spending was "fragmented". Efforts under way to rationalise spending include the construction of a single system to check the identity of people accessing government services online and centralised purchasing of computer equipment and datacentre capacity. Some past attempts to improve efficiency have failed. GoProcure, a central system to let agencies buy products and services online, was scrapped in 2003 after $2 million was spent on the system. The first effort to create a shared network for government communications, the $28m Government Shared Network, was abandoned last year after the State Services Commission racked up multimillion-dollar losses. Mr Boyle said the willingness of chief executives to collaborate had since improved. "Everybody is under a lot of pressure in terms of budgets." Brett O'Riley, chief executive of industry group NZICT, said it welcomed efforts to seek public sector efficiencies.

Renaissance stores to sell own 'iPad'

Renaissance, which is likely to be renamed YooBee, plans to develop a range of computer devices, including its own-branded tablet computers that could compete with Apple's iPad, which it will sell through a new chain of concept stores. The NZX-listed company has engaged leading brand specialist Brian Richards, whose clients include Icebreaker and Fisher & Paykel Healthcare, to make over its image. Chief executive Richard Webb says it will test the YooBee brand with its new offerings before considering a name change for Renaissance in 10 to 12 months.

Grand designs for IBM's 'green' datacentre

IBM says its datacentre at Highbrook business park in Auckland will be one of the eleventh "greenest" out of more than 400 it operates around the world when it opens in March. IBM New Zealand has been showing off the centre to dozens of corporate and government clients, but it went into "lock down" on Friday as electricians moved in to wire up the 25 tons of copper cabling that will feed power to its 1500 square metre computer room.

Gen-i yet to land Air NZ

A multimillion-dollar deal under which Air New Zealand would outsource the hosting of its mainframes to Telecom's Gen-i has not yet moved beyond a memorandum of understanding that was leaked in June, sources say. IBM currently houses the systems at an ageing facility in Auckland that was originally built by Air NZ and later transferred to the vendor.