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Tech and business news from around the region.

Northrop starts work on IT center

Los Angeles-based defense contractor Northrop Grumman Corp. broke ground on a new information technology center in Chesterfield County, Va..

In addition to Northrop IT operations, the Northrop Grumman Commonwealth Enterprise Solutions Center will also house the Virginia Information Technologies Agency.

The center will have approximately 185,000 square feet of office space on 28 acres. In addition to serving as Virginia’s primary data center, the facility will also host a video broadcast studio, a security operations center, a technology lab, a training room and a fitness center. Construction of the building is scheduled for completion in the fall of 2007.

United Online debuts PrivatePhone

Woodland Hills-based United Online Inc. launched a new service called PrivatePhone, offering a free phone number and voice mail to any area code in America, without divulging personal information.

Users may sign up either through the Internet or through a mobile phone. Users may set up a text-messaging service to alert them when a new voice mail has been received. PrivatePhone voice mail may be checked through a phone or via the Internet.

Customers using United Online’s NetZero Voice service may set up direct forwarding to a mobile or landline phone. United Online is touting the security features of the service. Because the purpose of the phone number is to serve as either a voice mail or forwarding number, users may freely publish the number without fear of the number being used for purposes of identity theft.

United Online provides consumer Internet subscription services through a number of brands, including NetZero, NetZero Voice, Juno, and Classmates.

Comtrend releases auto-configuration tool

Irvine-based Comtrend Corp. released its new Comtrend Auto-Configuration Server (ACS).

The Comtrend ACS is designed to interface with all DSL Forum TR-069 compatible customer premise equipment (CPE) products. The Comtrend ACS will provide telecom service providers with abilities such as remote CPE WAN Management, secure auto-configuration, dynamic service provisioning, remote firmware management, view status and performance monitoring.

The Comtrend ACS uses an XML protocol for low bandwidth overhead communications with CPE.

IT worker confidence declines

The Hudson Employment Index for IT workers edged down 1.1 points to 108.8 in May. A significant decrease in the number of workers who believed their finances were improving contributed to the decline in IT worker confidence. However, that was offset by an increase in the number of workers satisfied with their jobs. Despite the decline, the latest reading is considerably higher than last May, when it registered 93.2.

The composite index also fell 5.4 points to 102.3. The work force was less satisfied with their finances in May, as the percent rating their situation as excellent or good fell from 45 percent in April to 43 percent.

There was also a three-point decrease to 40 percent in the number of workers who indicated their personal finances were improving, taking this to the lowest level since November 2005.

Additionally, the number of workers expecting their employers to hire returned to 32 percent in May after jumping to 34 percent in April. Managers also cooled their hiring plans, as the number anticipating a boost in headcount edged down a point to 33 percent.

IXIA loses marketing head

Calabasas-based IXIA reported that its vice president of marketing, Alan Amrod, has resigned and will leave the company at the end of the second quarter.

Amrod has worked for IXIA since August 2003. IXIA provides test systems for IP-based infrastructure and services.

TechTarget buys 20/20 Software

TechTarget of Needham, Mass., acquired 20/20 Software Inc., whose Web site lets companies test out business software applications.

Los Angeles-based 20/20 Software was founded in 1996 and is not affiliated with an identically named Stamford, Conn., firm that sells software for use by photographers..

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