Contract Watch: Grab Your Piece of the Biometrics ActionBy Joseph C. Panettieri | Print
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UniSys caxhes in on biometrics. Ingram Micro is strengthening ties with Hewlett-Packard and IBM to make a midsize play.James Bond has used biometrics for nearly four decades. After several false starts, the technology is finally fit for the rest of us. Now, solutions providers are eager to cash in.
Just ask Unisys Corp., which has won a 20-month contract with the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) worth up to $17 million. Under terms of the deal, Unisys will deploy biometric and surveillance technologies at 20 undisclosed airports. The biometric technologies will potentially include fingerprinting, facial recognition and iris scanning.
Admittedly, early sales of biometric technologies didn't live up to expectations. The International Biometric Group (IBG) LLC says worldwide biometric sales were a nominal $600 million in 2002. Still, IBG expects biometrics sales to top $4 billion by 2007, as more and more companies move from passwords to fingerprints or iris scans to permit network and building access.
Deal 3 International Ambitions: Computer Sciences Corp. (CSC) hopes to conquer foreign lands. The El Segundo, Calif.-based solutions provider may acquire two European solutions providers between now and the spring, according to an interview with CSC Europe Chairman Claude Czechowski, which was published last week in La Tribune. During its most recent quarter ended Oct. 3, CSC's year-over-year European revenue rose 21.1 percent to $852 million.
That's impressive, but competition looms. SBI Group of Salt Lake City, for one, has amassed a 13.4 percent stake in Framfab, a Stockholm-based digital media specialist whose clientele includes 3M, IKEA and Kellogg's. If you're thinking of selling your business, give SBI a call. The company has acquired several dot-com integrators that crashed and burned during Wall Street's correction, including Emerald Solutions, Lante, MarchFirst, Razorfish and Scient.
Deal 4 Changing its Stripes: Remember Cabletron Systems, one of the many switch makers that Cisco Systems ultimately crushed? I spent my early journalism career interviewing Cabletron founder Craig Benson (now governor of New Hampshire), a colorful guy who often told me that Cabletron would never sell through solutions providers. Benson changed his tune before leaving Cabletron in 1999. Today, Cabletronrecast as Enterasys Networks relies heavily on channel partners like Agilysys Inc.
Earlier this month, the City of Alexandria, La., activated an Enterasys-based network designed by Agilysys. The switching infrastructure supports a customer service database, the city's payroll system and various Web applications.
Okay, that's a bit short on detail. But the important point is Enterasys's growing commitment to solutions providers. I've heard it from Agilysys. And I've heard it from service providers like MSPX in Arlington, Va. I wonder if any Cisco partners will sit up and take notice.
About Contract Watch: Each week, this column examines customer engagements that are stirring the channel, and the solutions providers behind them. Our goal is to strip away the hype and tell you what's really sellingand what isn'tin today's IT marketplace. Send your tips to my e-mail address below.