The UK Government Open Standards Consultation faces substantial change as the result of the exposure of an undisclosed Microsoft relationship.
In a remarkable development last night resonant of the revelations in the Leveson inquiry, the Cabinet Office voided the findings of the first open standards consultation round-table on the grounds that it's facilitator had a previously undisclosed relationship with Microsoft. The news posting on the Cabinet Office web site also announced that an extra month has been added to the process, so that the consultation meeting can be run again.
As both ComputerWeekly's Mark Ballard and ComputerWorld's Glyn Moody have discovered, there has been extensive behind-the-scenes manoeuvring to re-open the Government's position on open standards and protect the incumbent suppliers to the government, so the discovery of an over-cozy relationship in this area of the government's business too is no real surprise.
The extra time will be welcomed by many, but I expect to see a renewed push for the sophistry that claims standards with restrictions on who can implement them are somehow preferable to standards anyone can freely implement. That's clearly untrue, as I wrote on Wednesday. The extension also means you're extra time to submit your responses; please do.
DMandPenfold writes: Investment bank Goldman Sachs has been hit with a $22 million fine by regulators over its failure to monitor analyst communications and its trading, with any proper or effective technology.
Banking industry regulator FINRA issued an $11m fine as it said Goldman Sachs had failed to supervise equity analyst communications and monitor trading in advance of published research changes.
The other $11m fine came from the SEC, the US Securities and Exchange Commission, which said that "higher-risk trading and business strategies require higher-order controls", something the bank had failed to deliver.
Brad Bennett, FINRA executive VP, said Goldman's trading huddles – in which analysts met traders to share ideas – "created an environment of heightened risk in which material non-public information concerning analysts' published research could be disclosed to its clients".
He added that Goldman Sachs "did not have an adequate system in place to monitor client trading in advance of changes in its published research".
DMandPenfold writes: A High Court judge has issued a tough rebuke to the Serious Fraud Office (SFO), over the UK watchdog's handling of a case that left it unable to track any of the information it had used to obtain a search warrant.
The news follows the SFO reportedly abandoning the development of a new case management system earlier this year. The system had been intended to help with case management, and the SFO had said it wanted the system to help it process "increasingly complex cases, spawning ever greater volumes of information".
In his comments yesterday, the judge was referring to the SFO case against property magnate Vincent Tchenguiz, concerning the collapse of Icelandic bank Kaupthing. In March 2011, the SFO had made a dawn raid over Mr Tchenguiz's dealing with Kaupthing, but a year later it apologised for relying on "misinformation" for the warrants. Tchenguiz is suing the SFO for £100 million over the issue, saying it has significantly damaged his business.
In the case, the SFO has also admitted some of its former staff who had worked on the case "did not have access to any form of secure email". These problems hampered the watchdog's internal investigation...
The SFO said in internal documents seen by the newspaper that it had "no clear record of the precise materials that had been relied upon".
Lord Justice Thomas blasted the "sheer incompetence" of the organisation.
"When I was at school, I used to claim the dog had eaten my homework," he said. "It's fine for a schoolboy, but pretty feeble from a publicly funded regulator."
The SFO has asked for six more weeks to provide an explanation, and the judge said it should "burn the midnight oil" in order to do so in time.
concertina226 writes: Hacker group Anonymous has been threatening since February to "shut the Internet down" by launching a Distributed Denial of Service attack (DDOS) on Saturday (31 March). The attack will target the world’s 13 DNS servers so that Internet users will be unable to perform domain name lookups , thus temporarily disabling the Internet.
DMandPenfold writes: Some 14,400 News Corp emails have been published by an Australian newspaper as a storm grows around Rupert Murdoch's company and a former unit's alleged involvement in hacking the smart codes of pay TV rival ONdigital.
The email cache, published online by the Australian Financial Review, could cause issues for Cisco, the networking company that bought NDS, once a News Corp subsidiary, for £3.2 billion two weeks ago.
Allegations have been raised that NDS security head Ray Adams – a former commander in the Metropolitan Police – paid a hacker to access the smart codes of ONdigital, an ITV-owned rival that later collapsed after mass counterfeiting of TV access cards. The messages, purportedly from an NDS unit hard drive, apparently show the unit discussing a pay-TV rival being "totally hacked" by pirates.
The emails also raise questions on News Corp's disputes with pay TV rivals in other geographical areas, including the US and Australasia, it has been reported. The newspaper claimed that NDS's activities in Australia in 1999 caused huge financial damage to News Corp's competitors there.
NDS has not commented. News Corp, its former parent before the Cisco acquisition, said it was "proud to have worked with NDS, whose industry-leading technology has transformed TV viewing for millions of people across the world, and to have supported them in their aggressive fight against piracy and copyright infringement".
In one email, NDS employees appear to discuss the fact that a European pay-TV company was "totally hacked", at a time that News Corp was interested in buying a stake in that company, the FT noted. The email sender writes whether NDS should "start to protect" the encryption method used by the company "while leaving the main...platform compromised", given News Corp's buying interest.
NDS said after a BBC Panorama expose on Monday that it has always operated legally. It added: "These allegations were the subject of a long-running court case in the United States. This concluded with NDS being totally vindicated and its accuser having to pay almost $19m in costs – a point that the BBC neglected to include."
Adams has denied handling encryption codes.
In a statement, Cisco said: "The allegations made by the BBC's Panorama predate Cisco's involvement with NDS by more than 10 years. Given that we remain separate companies, it would be inappropriate for Cisco to comment further." The acquisition is set to close later this year.
DMandPenfold writes: Goldman Sachs, which has traditionally traded bonds with desk-based traders, is reportedly considering rolling out electronic trading systems for the products.
The investment bank's fixed income, currency and commodities unit (FICC) is keen to use more automated trading, according to the Financial Times.
Goldman Sachs has for many years used advanced electronic trading systems for the stock markets, but bond trading as an industry has lagged behind. It would be one of the first banks to introduce full electronic trading for bonds.
Rates and currencies were the most likely candidates for the changes, the newspaper reported, given the more advanced technology already in use.
Revenues at Goldman Sachs' FICC unit plummeted by a third to $9 billion last year, prompting some of the new plans, it is understood. But the bank is said to be evaluating the full impact of the new Dodd Frank rules being introduced in the US, before designing such a system.
"Goldman Sachs and others are waiting for the final Volcker and derivatives rule making under Dodd-Frank before they can redesign and begin implementing more electronic platforms," David Hendler, banking analyst at CreditSights, told the FT.
"Banks and brokers need to incorporate a greater use of computerisation and technology in fixed income, similar to what the equities segments had to deal with [more than 10] years ago."
The bank had not provided comment at the time of writing.
Qedward writes: Chancellor George Osborne insisted in today's Budget that the UK will become "Europe's technology centre".
While delivering a Budget that cut corporation tax, raised stamp duty on the most expensive homes, and offered an increase in the personal allowance for tax, Osborne said there would be support for the UK's technology and video games industries, with support for broadband, research and development, and companies issuing patents.
A cut in corporation tax to 24% (and to 22% by 2014) is intended to support businesses, as is cutting the tax on small businesses to 20%. Osborne also announced a fund to help entrepreneurs start their own firms...
DMandPenfold writes: JP Morgan has gone live with a London Stock Exchange-hosted communications platform that is designed to increase operational efficiency and fully meet compliance demands.
JP Morgan is using the LSE's UnaVista Swaps Portal in Europe, which will provide it with a central and audited communication channel to connect to its client community using standard message formats.
UnaVista's Swaps Portal can be used for any trade on any global market, while maintaining a complete audit trail for the trade.
Teresa Heitsenrether, European prime brokerage head at JP Morgan, said: "We welcome the opportunity to work with our client and broker communities to bring efficiencies to this market, and significantly lower its inherent risks."
UnaVista Swaps Portal enables firms to automate communication at all stages of the equity swaps process, including orders, allocations and give-ups. The platform can normalise, validate and match all of the data automatically and employs strict data segregation to ensure all compliance rules are met.
UnaVista accepts data in all standard formats, including SWIFT, FIX, flat files and email.
Qedward writes: Advanced Micro Devices is expected to announce new Opteron 3200 series chips for low-end servers, which the company hopes will give it a competitive edge over Intel in the cloud server market.
The three Opteron 3200 chips are for use in single-socket servers for web hosting and cloud applications, according to a company presentation. The chips have up to eight processor cores, clock speeds of up to 3GHz, and draw between 45 watts and 65 watts of power.
The new chips are based on the Bulldozer processor architecture, which is also in the Opteron 6200 16-core processors and FX-series gaming chips. The Opteron 3200 launch comes after AMD in late February announced it would to acquire SeaMicro, which offers dense and power-efficient servers for cloud computing environments...
DMandPenfold writes: Managing directors at Goldman Sachs openly insulted clients on internal emails, according to the comments of a high profile employee leaving the company.
Goldman Sachs' European equity derivatives boss, Gregory Smith, said he had seen emails from several managing directors that openly branded clients as "muppets".
Goldman Sachs denies the claims, and has said it supports customer success.
In a letter to the New York Times, Smith said he had chosen to leave the bank because its practices were "toxic and destructive".
"It makes me ill how callously people talk about ripping their clients off. I have seen five different managing directors refer to their own clients as 'muppets', sometimes over internal email," wrote Smith, who was an employee of the bank for over 11 years.
"I can honestly say that the environment now is as toxic and destructive as I have ever seen it."
Smith described the company as originally having a culture of teamwork and humility, which he said had virtually disappeared during the current tenure of cheif executive Lloyd Blankfein, who once said he was "doing the work of God" — a comment he said was a joke that backfired. Smith wrote that the "decline in the firm's moral fibre" represented "the single most serious threat to its long-run survival".
Executive comments sent by email are always liable to be retrieved later, particularly in situations where disputes and lawsuits occur, though no emails have yet been publicly shown to back up Smith's claims.
The news is not the first time Goldman Sachs executives have been described making damaging comments by email.
Michael Swenson, a former executive in Goldman Sachs' fixed income trading division, wrote a series of infamous emails in 2007, before the worst impact of the financial crisis. He wrote that the investment bank's traders were urged to "kill" rival investor positions, and cause "maximum pain", adding that "this will have people totally demoralised". Goldman Sachs insisted last year that the language "does not reflect the reality" of its trading at the time.
Today, the bank said in a statement in response to Smith's letter: "We disagree with the views expressed, which we don't think reflect the way we run our business."
It added: "In our view, we will only be successful if our clients are successful. This fundamental truth lies at the heart of how we conduct ourselves."
DMandPenfold writes: JP Morgan Chase is overhauling business processes, improving product development and slashing the costs of trading, as part of a major IT initiative.
The news comes as the banking giant said it was implementing global trading and asset servicing platforms, and investing heavily in fast-growing areas such as mobile payments.
JP Morgan Chase, where nearly a third of its 25,000 staff work in IT, has told investors that it is working fast to slash trading errors and redevelop key platforms. The company is reported to have a $2 billion (Â£1.3 billion) annual budget for technology.
Jes Staley, head of its investment bank, said the bank was "over" half way through a "strategic re-engineering" of its technology. It was also making use of its scale, and establishing cross-asset platforms for financial trading, as it cut errors and costs per trade.
Meanwhile, the bank's treasury and securities operations are taking assertive steps to overhaul technology.
Extensive redevelopment of key platforms has included the elimination of many legacy systems, an increase in automation, and better virtualisation and capacity on demand, according to Mike Cavanagh, head of that division.
Cavanagh said that technology was enabling the bank to "optimise the location strategy" of staff, with an increase of the percentage working in low cost sites from 26 to 40 percent. The use of Agile development methodology was also enabling faster application deployment and better functionality, he said.
The treasury and securities unit has also reengineered payments processing, workflow automation and accounting processes, he said. As its next steps, it plans to implement a global trade and asset servicing platforms, and "next generation" cash management.
Menawhile, JP Morgan Chase said it had consolidated three servicing platforms into one, and reengineered servicing processes.
The consumer banking unit said it was making progress on its "One Chase" initiative, giving it a "360 degree" view of its customers within its CRM system, and enabling a more consistent customer experience. The company said that "not all banks have the capacity to invest" in such a programme scale combining people, systems and processes.
For its branches, JP Morgan Chase is developing a more flexible architecture to allow it to implement more all-round self-service terminals for customers to manage their accounts, make payments and withdraw cash.
The company also touted its online and mobile capabilities. Its Chase.com website is the most visited banking site on the web for cardholders, it said, with customers spending some $85 billion there last year. The bank also has 15 million registered mobile users, who sent $33 billion last year via their phones. The company is investing heavily in mobile payments, mobile wallets and near field communications technology.
"We are deeply engaged in digital channels and we are seeing rapid adoption of our capabilities," said Gordon Smith, head of its credit and debit cards business. "Digital channels are an important [accelerator] of our business model â" engagement, efficiency, and customer acquisition."
DMandPenfold writes: IT consolidation from the merger of British Airways and Iberia has helped achieve $177min operational savings.
International Airlines Group (IAG), the name for the combined company, told Computerworld UK that technology infrastructure changes had contributed to the savings, alongside sales team integration, single management teams in a number of key airports, shared property and shared engineering services.
The combination of IT teams between Iberia and BA has also played a part, it said.
A spokesperson at IAG insisted the changes equally involved adding new technology to improve efficiency.
"IAG is building a platform of technological services to help achieve synergies and cost savings as well as a platform for growth," said the spokesperson. "In 2011, most of the IT synergies have come from infrastructure consolidation savings".
IAG said it was investing in areas such as Avios for mileage rewards and in its cargo business.
"IAG Cargo, for instance, has launched an innovative free iPhone and Android phone application, which allows customers to track and trace air freight documented on Iberia and British Airways World Cargo airway bills," said the spokesperson.
The application provides customers with full access to information on both brands' global schedules and networks, with real-time tracking information on their shipments.
IAG said last week that its savings so far were â134 million and costs of implementation were â60 million, resulting in net benefits of over seven times its current target.
As the company reported a more than six-fold pre-tax annual profit rise to â503m euros, Willie Walsh, chief executive, said its performance had "been boosted by net cost and revenue synergies of â74 million, â64 million more than target, in our first year since the merger."
But he said there was much modernisation work to do, particularly with Iberia, adding that "the challenge remains for Iberia to become more competitive, especially as it has a high cost base and outdated workplace practices".
DMandPenfold writes: Accenture's chief executive of technology, Kevin Campbell, has abruptly left the company after 24 years' senior employment — and without so much as a 'thank you'.
A press release issued yesterday said Campbell, 50, was leaving, with immediate effect, for "personal reasons", but gave no further detail.
Accenture is to appoint Martin Cole "immediately" as Campbell's replacement. Cole is currently chief executive of Accenture's Communications, Media & Technology operating group, as well as leading the company's mobility efforts. In the short-term at least, he will maintain responsibility for the mobile operations.
Accenture group chief executive Pierre Nanterme made no reference to Campbellâ(TM)s achievements with the company, in the official press release. Instead he focused on Cole, who he said was "a great leader with a proven track record of successfully running key parts of our business".
Campbell, who began in the role of technology chief executive in August 2009, had also been Accenture's head of outsourcing and as a senior managing director for business process outsourcing.
Before that he also led sales at Hewitt Associates, and was president at Exult, both consultancies. He also had an initial 17 year employment at Accenture, preceding these roles. In 2010, his total compensation package at Accenture was $6.1 million, according to Forbes.
DMandPenfold writes: The FBI has said it is closely watching social media sites, including Facebook and Twitter, as well as the Skype chat service, in order to catch insider traders.
As it launched a campaign fronted by actor Michael Douglas â" who famously played ruthless businessman Gordon Gekko in the 'Wall Street' films â" the FBI said it was stepping up Operation Perfect Hedge investigations, which are designed to catch hedge funds and associates involved in illegal trading.
"We will go to whatever lengths we have to, to keep up with changes in technology," said Richard Jacobs, an FBI special agent, yesterday.
The FBI has been closely examining social media and instant messaging sites in order to collect evidence.
This is becoming an increasingly widely used tactic, because the FBI is now known to have used recorded phone calls â" such as in the case against Raj Rajaratnam, who was convicted of insider trading last year. The recording of phone calls could prompt insider traders to use alternative channels of communication, observers have noted.
DMandPenfold writes: Bloomberg developers today showed how the company embarked on a massive programming project to develop the $100 million (Â£63 million) Bloomberg Next system.
Bloomberg Next, launched publicly today to much fanfare, was developed over several years by over 3,000 programmers.
Sean Edwards, chief technology officer at Bloomberg, showed an audience at Bloomberg's London headquarters images of his team using advanced systems to monitor test users' steps and analyse the data, ahead of the programming.
Bloomberg market data API made public Thomson Reuters CEO leaves weeks after admitting Eikon switchover errors Using advanced eye movement recognition technology for clients who chose to participate in tests, Bloomberg was able to ascertain exactly what the users were looking at on screen. It also tracked mouse movements and keyboard taps so that it could analyse typical patterns for different types of users.
"We could see in real time exactly what users looked at on the screen, as well as what they were missing," Edwards said. "We wanted to make sure they were getting the most from our data, and finding what they needed."
"We developed Bloomberg Next using our in-house 'Rapid' system, which is for application development," he said. "We developed Rapid four years ago, and use it for ultra-agile development and changes of all sizes."
"Rapid allows us to take feedback from a trader, hand it to the developers, and return an simple system updates to the trader later that day. With that kind of speed we were able to effect massive change on a much larger scale, quickly, for Bloomberg Next."
The Bloomberg Next product is a simplified and more intuitive version of the standard terminal, and the company expects to migrate most of the rest of its users to the system later this year. Some 113,000 of its 300,000 trader clients already use the system following a rapid four month migration programme, and it says 99 percent of those to try the system have stayed with it.
It insists the price will remain the same as for using the old terminal, and that training is free.
Edwards said that in order to make sure Bloomberg Next was better tailored to users' needs than the existing terminal, the company made "thousands of customer visits and hundreds of developments".
Bloomberg's software developers worked closely with layout designers to create a simple and usable interface, he said.