DataStream

ACS Snags Consultec<@VM>Treasury Looks at Performance<@VM>IP Telephony Demonstration <@VM>Zmax Buys PMC<@VM>Technology Alliance Formed<@VM>New IT Courses For Non-Majors<@VM>Researchers Study Data Deluge

Affiliated Computer Services Inc. of Dallas made another government-related information technology acquisition Oct. 1, adding Consultec LLC, a subsidiary of General American Life Insurance Co.

ACS, a $1.6 billion IT services and outsourcing company with about $600 million in government revenue, is picking up the Atlanta-based company for $105 million in cash. Consultec,which provides IT services to state Medicaid and welfare benefit programs, had about $107 million in revenue for the year ended July 31.

William Woodard, president of ACS-Government Solutions Group in Rockville, Md., called the acquisition an exciting one, though it will not fall under his purview.

"We don't have the large processing capability, and that is what they will bring us," he said.

Consultec will be a wholly owned subsidiary of ACS and operate as an independent business unit.

ACS' last acquisition of a government IT company was in February, when it purchased BRC Holdings Inc., Dallas.
The Treasury Department is collecting information from vendors about their experiences with performance-based contracting.

The agency plans to use these contracts more, but first it wants help from industry in developing measurement tools, quality-assurance plans and incentives for outstanding performance.

The agency is looking for lessons learned in developing management plans. From the information it collects, Treasury will write a guidance document for its 13 bureaus' procurement offices to use performance-based contracts.A group of key industry players in the Internet Protocol telephony space recently announced a joint demonstration of the first H.323v2 standards-based VoIP [voice over IP] interoperability with a new class of peripherals.

The devices include PCs, personal digital assistants, mobile phones and personal gateways.

The Cisco Systems, Intel Corp., ITXC and Lucent Technologies demonstration is based on recommendations submitted to the International Multimedia Teleconferencing Consortium (IMTC). If accepted by the IMTC, the proposal offers customers who purchase and use any iNOW! compliant appliance or client the assurance that they could send calls over any network using any other iNOW! compatible products.

The recommendations submitted to the IMTC are based on the ratified H.323 Simple End-Point Terminal Annex and provide a real-world framework for PC clients, PDAs and appliances to speak to gateways and gatekeepers from all industry vendors.
Zmax Corp., Germantown, Md., took another step in its transition from a Y2K company to a national information technology services business Oct. 1, purchasing Parker Management Consultants Ltd., which has offices in Laurel, Md. and Houston.

PMC will enhance Zmax's enterprise resource planning capabilities, particularly in Oracle applications.

The company, which employs about 30 consultants, will contribute approximately $800,000 in working capital and $3 million in backlog to Zmax.

Michael Higgins, Zmax president and chief executive officer, said one of the company's goals for the year is to complete "one to two acquisitions in the of $5 million to $15 million range, and PMC is a strong addition to our company."

The purchase price included a cash payment of $1.3 million, an escrow of $150,000, a three-year, $3 million note and a warrant to purchase 200,000 shares of Zmax common stock at an exercise price of $5 per share.

PMC should generate 1999 revenue of approximately $5 million, said Zmax officials, who also anticipate savings from merging the PMC's Maryland operation into Zmax's Germantown headquarters.

Last December, Zmax paid more than $1.5 million in cash and stock for Eclipse Information Systems Inc., a privately held Chicago company that provides electronic business solutions, enterprise resource planning applications and client-server migration services. MicroStrategy Inc. of Vienna, Va., has signed a $52.5 million licensing and technology agreement with NCR Corp. of Orlando, Fla.

Under the Oct. 4 deal, NCR will pay $27.5 million to resell MicroStrategy's e-business products and services; Micro-Strategy bought NCR's Teradata Warehouse for $11 million.

The NCR technology will power MicroStrategy's Strategy.com network, which delivers news via e-mail, pager, fax, phone or Internet.

MicroStrategy has also agreed to purchase NCR's Teracube for $14 million in stock.

MicroStrategy expects revenue of $170 million this year, up from $106 million in 1998. About 10 percent of its business comes from government contracts.
Three Temple University computer and information scientists will use a three-year, $347,000 National Science Foundation grant to develop a framework for colleges and universities to design upper-level courses for information technology education to students who are not computer science majors.

Called "Problem Solving and Lifelong Learning: Developing and Assessing a Course in Information Technology," the project will use the experiences of instructors in non-computer-related courses, such as chemistry, sociology and anthropology, to produce a framework that can be adapted by other schools for a variety of academic disciplines.

According to one of the researchers, the project is unique because it seeks to foster second-level courses for majors in many disciplines.

Few, if any, schools have attempted to train non-computer majors beyond the introductory level.

The team will distribute the results of its work by publishing papers, presenting workshops at conferences, creating a Web site and possibly writing a book.
A top panel of researchers is working on new ways to store, access and search the large volumes of data that are being generated in the information age.

The interdisciplinary team is headed by Alexander Szalay, a professor at Johns Hopkins University, and includes scientists from Cal Tech, the Department of Energy's Fermilab and Microsoft Corp.

While they have worked together for several years, this month they receive their first formal support in a 3-year, $2.5 million grant from the National Science Foundation.

One perspective on the problem of the volume of data generated by modern science comes through the CERN particle collider in Geneva. It now produces more than 1 petabyte of information every year. By comparison, the words and other text in all the books in the Library of Congress amount to only about one-thousandth of that information, or one terabyte (1 trillion bytes).

The first major component of research under the NSF grant is developing better ways to break down large quantities of information.

The challenge is to make sure that this partitioning process improves the abilities of the researchers to see important patterns and irregularities in the data.

The second major component is arranging ways to simultaneously access data in different locations without ever bringing it together in one database, a technique called distributed processing.

The third component will improve a technique called parallel querying. This involves searching in different locations simultaneously. Researchers will try to make search agents smarter and more independent by improving the software they use.

The NSF grant is one of 31 in a new effort to support "knowledge and distributed intelligence" projects.

The grants focus on efforts to apply new computer technology across multidisciplinary areas in science and engineering.

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