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Notebook sales down

framedwindowsIt is hardly a surprise given that one in two UK households now have a swipy style tablet, but independent research shows top X86 models aren’t exactly the flavour of the month.

According to Digitimes Research, both branded notebook vendors and top original design manufacturers (ODMs), recorded month on month drops of 12 percent and 11 percent in December.

Dell and Toshiba did better than the other bunch of brand names, with the former, in particular, showing a bit of a surge because Microsoft will deck long in the tooth but reliable Windows XP this spring.

The ODMs were hit because HP was hit – Quanta and Inventec supply Hewlett Packard with most of its notebook boxes.

While the X86 mob hope that enterprises are still likely to plump for Windows based boxes, there is evidence that large corporations are seriously contemplating the bring your own device route, which will further erode Intel market share.

John Lewis up. Debenhams down

tablet-POS-cash-registerHigh street stores showed mixed results in their bids to win the hearts, souls and wallets of people over the Yuletide season.

Debenhams didn’t do at all well and that caused its chief beancounter, Simon Herrick, to fall on his sword this morning.

The John Lewis Partnership, which is a sort of cooperative, said its sales for the period were up 6.9 percent from the same Christmas period the year before. But it did particularly well on the interwibble front – in the five weeks to the 28th of December last its sales rose by over 22 percent.

Debenhams is in the slough of despond, however. It issued a profits warning for the next six months.

Obliquely, the John Lewis news is bad news for chip giant Intel too. Many people are using smartphones and tablets to buy online rather than wait for their X86 based machines to boot up.

Nile boxes make private cloud projects a breeze

drinks dispenserEMC has promised to release a product to suppliers which will allow them to build a private cloud which has all the advantages of a public cloud.

Project Nile will introduce machines in the first half of next year, which is much earlier than was planned.  The boxes were shown off at VNX product launch in Milan yesterday (pictured).

Jeremy Burton is Executive Vice President, Product Operations and Marketing at EMC said that the kit is based around EMC’s VIPR software and the VNX hardware.  It is designed to stop EMC and its partners losing business to public cloud products.

EMC expects Nile to be will be the first commercially-available complete, Web-scale storage infrastructure for the data centre..

It allows customers to choose storage for files, databases or the Web and receive a complete system within 48 hours.

Nile fills a gap in the mid-range market.  Currently customers will buy into a public cloud because they need flexibility and cost.  However this kit allows them to set up a private cloud operation in their own data centre much cheaper.

This is an easier sale in the EU where many companies are worried about public cloud offerings allowing their data to be stolen by US spies.  The EU has already been muttering that public cloud data should not leave the EU forcing those who want to comply into expensive private cloud structures.

Nile effectively kills off the need for medium and large corporations to need to look at public cloud offerings which typically come from Amazon or Microsoft.

It also makes it a very attractive package for EMC’s Channel partners who want to sell cloud operations in easy packages rather than lose business to Amazon or Vole..

The price of the systems, which can be customised to deal with files, objects or blocks and set up to prioritise capacity or performance, is yet to be announced.  However the figures being bandied about at the product announcement were as low as five cents a gigabyte.

Burton said the new range of products will cost customers 40 percent to 60 percent less than public cloud options, although given that the product has not hit the shops yet that could just be wishful thinking.

EMC releases next gen data centre product range

DSC_0017EMC hit the hyperbole when it released a refresh of its new mid-range data centre products.

Rich Napolitano, President, Unified Storage Division, EMC told the product launch in Milan yesterday that when people look at the history of datacentre computing they will see this particular product launch as the “day everything changed.”

To be fair the outfit has a lot to be proud of, if even half the stats for the VNX series are true.

The outfit has been the leader in the market with its VNX boxes which are for companies who want a data centre.

According to EMC President and Chief Operating Officer, David Goulden the rise of mobile data has made the data centre a vital part of any IT plan.  Huge amounts of data were flowing into the company which not only needed to be stored, but also used.

One of EMC’s customers, Enrico Parsini, from Conserve Italia, said that active use of the datacentre within his company was being seen as a way of driving down costs for the rest of the business.  This was particularly important in his company which has seen a three years of falling prices in the food industry.

VNX products are based on the idea that if you make Intel’s Sandy bridge cores more efficient and make SD cards run on special software rather than traditional HD methods you can make data centres go like the clappers for less energy and cost.

If what EMC says is true, its channel partners will be able to sell their clients a cheaper box than what they would have previously bought, and still see data centre speed improvements of about 50 per cent.

The product puts other hardware makers on the back foot.  While they have been touting the use of virtual computers, some even have hybrid systems for sale, they do not have the speed options of the EMC machines.

EMC said that many people were expecting it to just announce a refresh of the product, when it actually announced that it was going to change everything.

This is partly because the hardware is ahead of the competition and is already gearing up for its next generation.

It is the first time that we have heard of companies coming up with a use for Intel’s multicore products and making them work properly.  With Chipzilla planning more cores on its chips in coming months, EMC will have an easy upgrade path.

Part of the product’s success has been because of the involvement of Cisco and VMWare.

Satinder Sethi, Vice President, Data Centre Group, Cisco said that his company partnered with  EMC to speed its customers’ journey to the cloud.  These include allowing  custom-designed infrastructure, validated reference architectures via EMC VSPEX Proven Infrastructure, and pre-integrated converged infrastructure with VCE Vblock Systems.

Cisco kit and software integrated with offerings from EMC and VCE have generated significant momentum with customers and partners.

“Cisco and EMC have hundreds of joint channel partners and thousands of joint customers around the world.  Together, Cisco and EMC plan to accelerate this success with our mutual channel partners,” he said.

He added that EMC’s next-generation VNX technology will complement Cisco’s Unified Compute and Unified Fabric solutions, helping customers maximise their existing infrastructure and further simplify cloud deployments.

 

 

EMC transformed itself thanks to Channel

7361653728_ac8edc50eb_cEMC, which was celebrating the release of new tech which could see it take control of the mid-range datacentre market, claims that its rise to dominance is because of its Channel strategy.

Talking to ChannelEye, EMC’s Vice President of Global channel sales, Gregg Ambulos said that a few years ago the company did not have an effective channel strategy and relied on its own sales team.

“That was probably OK when we had only one product but then Joseph Tucci took over as CEO in 2001 and wanted a different approach and a much stronger channel,” Ambulos said.

Since then more than 65 percent of EMC sales come through its Channel and in the area of mid-range data centre boxes.  Also it is starting to notice that partners are starting to defect from rivals like IBM to join in.

Part of this is a strong product line.  EMC holds most of the mid-range data centre business on the basis of its strong server offerings.

Ambulos thinks that this will become more obvious as the new VNX range hits the streets.  The new VNX is a much easier box to sell as it is faster and cheaper than previous incarnations.

He said that the technology changes to the VNX range were driven by EMC’s partners some of which were involved in actually crafting the developments.

Ambulos said that while EMC will be running channel incentive programmes to sell the VNX range, these will be comparatively low key.  Channel partners need very little incentive to sell the VNX range and just really wanted to get started.

 

Don’t scrap fax services, distributor warns

6a00d83451bdba69e20105357f6f1d970b-450wiResellers and distributors might be better off forgetting to kill off their fax services, according to one Italian distributor.

Cesare Pedrazzi, who is the CTO of top Italian distributor Esprinet said that as part of a business plan to try and simplify his company’s IT systems, he thought it would be a good idea to kill off the fax service.

The distributor runs a highly complex network and really faxes in the network were a bit of a headache to look after. Esprinet runs on high tech ordering, with fairly low margins and mucking around with bits of paper was jolly annoying.

After all, Pedrazzi reasoned, who on earth sends faxes in this day and age? Faxes had gone the way of the pigeon as a valid means of communication.

However after taking the fax machines off-line it took only 15 minutes before customers were complaining about the loss of the service. Apparently while the fax might have been developed in the 19th century, a lot of distributors still depended on a fax based system.

“In the sort of complex system we run you just can’t afford to do that sort of thing,” Pedrazzi said. So the faxes went back online.

SAP about to get a good kicking from AS/400

ESPRINET01__CUSTOM_SAP is too inflexible and is being defeated by an AS400 legacy ERP software which is soon to be open sourced.

While the esoteric software outfit, which makes software that no one really understands, is jolly popular with distributors, it might actually be holding them back.

A top Italian distributor Esprinet has saved a fortune by owning the source code for an AS-400 legacy ERP system.

Speaking exclusively to ChannelEye , the CEO of Esprinet Alessandro Cattani said his company provided services to suppliers who were using his company’s services because they were hooked on SAP software.

He said that his company sells them services because the AS-400 legacy code is faster and more flexible than anything the distributors who use SAP ERP systems can write.

SAP software is less flexible and is difficult and expensive for businesses to write specific code for what they want,” Cattani said.

Esprinet owns the source code for the code and has a team which can churn out code when ever it is needed.

Cattani said that he recently had the chance to benchmark his AS-400 applications against and an SAP equivalent. They cleaned SAP’s clock managing to be 50 percent more efficient and cheaper, he said.

While SAP might not be too concerned that one company is doing rather well ignoring its software, it might be concerned that an Italian firm called SME-UP is planning to open source the software.

That means that some of the bigger suppliers would be wondering why they would shackle themselves to expensive ERP installations when with some nice old IBM box they could be as free as a bird.

 

Microsoft partners get cloud headache

cloud (264 x 264)Over the next six to 12 months Microsoft’s cloud partners are going to have a major headache keeping up with the sweeping changes that Microsoft is planning.

Microsoft Australia partner business and development director, Dean Swan has warned resellers down under that there is going to be a sudden rush of new products and ideas coming in the next six months to a year.

Swan told ARNnet normally they only had to cope with a major new technology release would occur every three to four years.

Resellers needed to work out how to keep sales, pre-sales, and technical teams trained and up to speed with what is happening in the Redmond cloud.

He warned that if a business model was  100 percent service delivery, companies will have to consider what it would look like if 20 percent was managed services delivery that is Cloud-oriented.

Swan also cautioned that companies should not concentrate on the hype but show ways to build a profitable business around the Cloud.

Partners will need to work out the time it will take to achieve the appropriate business model and what form of training is necessary.

Swan said to have a look at what customers are asking for, what they expect from a Cloud vendor and what are they looking for when they move to the Cloud.

Partners must commit to understanding what the Microsoft technology can do and effectively present its capabilities as being powered by the Cloud.

Indian outsourcing prices slump

rupee300The cost of outsourcing to India has plummeted after the rupee slipped to below 100 against the British pound.

According to the India Express  it also has fallen significantly against the US dollar too.

A recent report by Bank of America Merrill Lynch said that Indian outsourcing had been hit hard by the country’s high current account deficit and a lower import cover which had kept the cost of currency high.

While the weaker rupee sent the stock prices of many Indian companies on a slide, it boosted the market performance of IT companies like Tata Consultancy Services (TCS).

In a recent interview with the Business Standard, TCS Chief Financial Officer Rajesh Gopinathan said the weakening rupee allows the company to be more “adventurous” than usual in pursuing business and to win outsourcing deals with lengthier terms.

This is good news for India’s outsourcing companies, particularly as their rivals, China and South Korea,  have a stronger currency and their prices will be higher.

It is also bad news for non-Indian competitors like IBM and Accenture.  A weak rupee allows Indian providers to offer lower rates that cannot be matched.

There is a fear amongst outsourcers that the pressure to match Indian prices might result in a declining standard from non-Indian suppliers.

 

 

SAP partners make a killing

Mary_Read_killing_her_antagonist_cph.3a00980Despite the economic downturn, and the fact that their product is so dull only an accountant could love it,  the partners of the esoteric German business software maker SAP are laughing all the way to the bank.

Global research firm IDC  has added up the numbers and claims that SAP partners worldwide will earn $220 billion in revenue in the next five years.
This is because everyone+dog will be wantig advanced analytics and predictive analytics over the next year because they need to control costs, optimise operations and manage risks,

I would not hold your breath with excitement.  The report was commissioned by SAP itself and it would be unlikely that it would ever see the light of day if IDC said that everyone was doomed.

SAP as been pushing its partners had needs more reselling, professional services, hardware and additional intellectual property and solutions developed on top of analytics solutions from SAP and the SAP HANA platform.
One infographic said  that the  top 10 industries for these analytics and big data opportunities are manufacturing, government, communications and media, banking, professional services, retail, healthcare, utilities and insurance.
Darren Bibby, vice president for IDC Channels and Alliances Research said that SAP and its partners make a significant impact on the global economy.
“SAP does an excellent job delivering great products for partners to work with, as well as effective sales, marketing and training resources. The result is that the SAP ecosystem is well-positioned for the future and customers will benefit from these additional skills and resources,” Bibby added.

 

Microsoft’s Ballmer cries into his beer

steve_ballmer Microsoft’s delightfully understated CEO has admitted that everything he has done over the last year has been a cock-up.

According to the Verge, Steve “there’s a kind of hush” Ballmer has publicly admitted that Microsoft  built too many Surface RT tablets, and it’s not selling as many Windows devices as he wants.

The confession came during an internal town hall event last week when Ballmer and COO Kevin Turner both addressed the recent $900 million hit for Surface RT and the sales pace of Windows across various devices.

Ballmer tried to cheer himself up by talking about getting Instagram for Windows Phone, and its plans for the next-generation Surface.

He said that Microsoft had built a few more Surface RT tablets than it could sell.  Either that or they had shipped at a price which was so expensive no reseller could get them off the shelves.

Recently Ballmer cut the price of its Surface RT tablets by 30 percent saying that the price adjustment was necessary to sell Surface RT devices.

Ballmer confirmed new devices are currently being tested with incremental improvements.

But Ballmer was even more gloomy when it came to the performance of Windows 8 which shipped as it Microsoft was trying to flog Android instead of its flagship decktop,

He said that Vole was not selling as many Windows devices as it  wanted  and a lack of devices in retail stores hasn’t helped Windows 8’s initial prospects.

Ballmer said that Microsoft was focusing on the back to school period and the holiday season to ensure Windows 8 and Windows 8.1 devices are available.

 

Samsung pushing into Blackberry’s security territory

shoe phoneSamsung is managing to take over Blackberry’s mobile customers by promising them a layer of security to the standard Android.

Blackberry was always able to target business customers and government contracts because of its encrypted network system.

However it is starting to look like that is coming unstuck. Samsung is close to signing deals for its devices with the FBI and the US Navy, which have been traditional Blackberry customers.

Blackberry’s offerings have been looking somewhat out of date in comparison to the Android phones out there, however Blackberry has been able to claim that it was much more secure than anything else on the market.

That is where Samsung’s  KNOX slots into the market.  Samsung is touting it as a “comprehensive enterprise mobile solution” . KNOX addresses the mobile security needs of enterprise IT without invading the privacy of its employees.

In addition Samsung has hired executives away from BlackBerry, creating an enterprise-focused division within the company, and collaborating with third-party software firms.

Getting high profile contracts is an import step.  In the US Samsung also appears to be doing well, winning corporate customers from companies like American Airlines.

 

Microsoft way below the Surface

titanic-ship-wreckThis week Microsoft announced that it was cutting the price of the ARM based version of its Surface tablets.

Instantly it kicked itself an own goal with many of the more cynical types in the industry saying that it was a fire sale which HP did when its tablet failed.

Both were trying to do something fairly radical.  HP was trying to convince the world that its WebOS was up to snuff and Microsoft was trying to tell the world that it could run on ARM chips.

HP ended up flogging its warehouses in a fire sale and no the thought is that Microsoft has done the same.

There are some similarities between the HP situation and what Microsoft is doing now, but it is not to do with a fire sale.  Microsoft did make a number of mistakes when it came to its Surface and not it is trying to repair that error.

The biggest error Microsoft did was on an increasing saturated market it attempted to launch a product at a price which was far too high to push it into the market.

It also initially launched a product based around ARM which could not do half the things that the x86 version could manage.

At the time there was a good rumour that Microsoft was going to release its keyboard based Surface at about $100 to $150 lower than Apple.  This would have to be subsidised, but would certainly have proved popular and could have gotten Vole’s foot in the door.

However Microsoft decided instead not to do that.  In fact there was some indications that Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer did not want to hack off his OEMs too much by releasing a cut price tablet which would have knocked them out of the market.

After coming into the market late, and with a product that was going to be overpriced and a tough sell, Microsoft did not do too badly.  However the figures did leave Microsoft with shedloads of overpriced tablets sitting in its warehouse.

The answer to this was to come in late with price cuts and hope that cheap and cheerful RTs would encourage future upgrades to the concept later.

But typically with things Microsoft, it mis-handled the whole thing.   What Microsoft wanted to do was issue a new range of Surface tablets with a better spec.   It wanted to empty its warehouses so it could introduce a better selling model.

If it were Apple it would start the world talking about the new spec first.  Then no one would question what the price cuts were all about.  Those who wanted the new machines would wait, while those who did not care too much about future proofing would believe they had a good deal.

But Microsoft kept the news of its new tablets quiet until after the cuts were announced, giving the impression that they had not sold.  This re-enforced the view that the Surface was really dead in the water.

All the way down the line, Ballmer has mis-read what is happening in the Tablet market and mis-judged how Microsoft should have responded.  This is despite having a tablet which is arguably a better product than anything on the market.

 

Spandex gets Zünd reseller work

spandexZünd has appointed Spandex as the authorised UK reseller of its S3 and G3 range of wide-format flatbed cutters.

According to Print Week,  Spandex will work alongside Zünd’s UK-based subsidiary, whose headquarters in St Albans is home to both its UK service engineers and spare parts.

The move is an expansion for Spandex. It scored the deal as a reseller for SwissQPrint’s UV flatbed printers in November 2011 and apparently the way that worked caught Zünd’s interest.

Zünd UK sales director Peter Giddings said that SwissQprint was founded by former employees of Zünd’s printer division and the two companies, share a similar pedigree and policy.

Steve Pridham, Spandex UK specialist, said that the addition of Zünd’s cutters to its range of SwissQPrint UV flatbed printers would allow Spandex to supply “full turnkey solutions” to any UK digital print business.

Zund does have a few other US dealers that it uses too.

Businesses suffer from poor presentation

powerpointCasio claims that UK outfits are losing out because of proper presentation training for employees and the poor use of presentation technology.

Apparently companies are under more pressure than ever to give presentations and they are not quite up to snuff, mostly due to a  lack of investment in brushing up their skills.

This is apparently leading to god awful meetings which go nowhere and causing businesses to look at companies who look a bit better on the Powerpoint stakes.

According to the report, nearly half of business decision makers are unlikely to buy from a company that makes a poor new-business pitch presentation.  It didn’t mention anything about taking your gum out of your mouth and your hands out of your pockets.

More than 63 percent of respondents agreed that the use of AV in presentations could be improved.  Perhaps the technology of glove puppets needs a second look.

Another 40 percent thought that effective and innovative use of technology could improve new business pitches.

Casio  sent this on a whopping 7.4 mb file.  Most of it seemed to have been taken up with lots of heavy graphic pictures of smiling people at presentations.