Author: Mike Magee

Lenovo faces a channel grilling

lenovo2This afternoon, two senior Lenovo European executives faced questions from the channel audience here at the Canalys Channels Forum in Barcelona. Gianfranco Lanci and Eric Cador, both big suits in the European market were put through their paces.

Lenovo’s Lanci said the acquisition of Intel servers has gone quite well.”I think it’s maybe another quarter but it’s nearly done.” Lenovo has started making money.

He said the PC market is not going to decline but it’s not going to hit double digit growth. He said the economical situation meant sales were suffering in the emerging market.

Lanci said Windows 10, in terms of performance isn’t comparable to Windows 8 or Vista. It will help the market to recover “a bit”. A number of commercial customers are considering moves to Windows 10 in 2016.

Lenovo is working on converging storage and computing but Lanci declined to comment on whether it would buy into the storage business.

He said consolidation in the PC area is inevitable and the smaller players will disappear. He’s prepared to play a waiting game and thinks that in two years time there will only be four or five PC companies.

Lenovo thinks it’s special because it’s got PCs, phablets, phones, tablets and enterprise products.

Lenovo doesn’t understand why Microsoft has launched a new Surface. Microsoft is both a partner and a competitor. Microsoft asked Lenovo a year ago if it would resell its products and said no.

Lenovo thinks Android will continue to take share. Lenovo ships more Android than Wintel products by a factor of two.

Asked why many Lenovo products were cheaper in retail than through distribution, Lenovo said most of the products sold in retail were different from machines pushed through the channel. Lenovo has to deal with multiple channels.

Lenovo said that when it bought the IBM server business it thought there was room to grow. There’s room for it to take business from HP. It has a great opportunity in Europe and the USA.

Channel complaints about overstock at distribution leading to big cash problems don’t seem to be a problem, according to Lenovo’s Lanci. When there’s overstock it’s usually Lenovo which pays the bill and isn’t paying the bill on overstocking. Lenovo has invested money to solve the problem.

Lenovo will concentrate on going the commercial or enterprise channels. It believes the integration of IBM System x channel partners went pretty well. Lenovo needs value added channel partners and needs to grow volume too. W0

Meg Whitman describes HP’s amicable divorce

Meg Whitman, photo by Mike MageeMeg Whitman was quizzed by the audience at the Canalys Channels Forum in Barcelona, today.

She said that the reason for splitting the company was to be more focused. She said it was remarkably complex on all fronts whether it was the IT or the supply chains HP used.

On August 1st HP started operating as two separate companies she said, and on November 2nd there will be two separate Fortune 50 companies.

She believes that HP will demonstrate the success of the separation. The two companies will be called HP Inc and Hewlett Packard Enterprise. She said HP wanted to avoid inventing a new brand name and wanted both companies to be linked to the HP heritage.

HPE will have a green rectangular logo. HPE will include HP financial services. On November the 2nd, both companies will probably still be in the same buildings. She said that there’s a joint venture between HP Inc and HPE to work together on the supply chain to leverage the size.

Whitman said the biggest challenge was the IT separation. She said the company had to change emails, URLs, servers, and the rest. She said HPE will be a much faster and agile company but one thing that won’t change is partner focus. “Channel is in our DNA,” she said.

Whitman said she has rooted out the “nay sayers” in the company. She said the separation means both companies will have something of a rebirth. Everyone in both companies is going to be “fully engaged”.

She said HP has increased R&D spending every year for the last four years. She said in a software defined world infrastructure matters more than ever. She thinks configuration of infrastructure to apps will be an important part of HPE’s strategy.

Software is only seven percent of revenue but HPE is about providing answers for the new type of IT.

She said that the slimming down of headcount in the services business recenrly was intended to make that business unit leaner and meaner and HPE expected revenues in that sector to grow.

She said the Safe Harbour provision that the EU court ruled was invalid yesterday wouldn’t affect the two companies too much, because data was generally held locally. There may be changes but she believed HP set that process going four years ago.

One question from the audience that was asked, but wasn’t aired,  was whether Whitman would vote for Winsome Carly Fiorina as president of the USA.

Channel looks like it’s onto a winner

onedollarSteve Brazier, CEO of Canalys opened the Channel Forum conference here in Barcelona by ourlining how he and his company of analysts view the tech industry.

He said PC makers have been cheating on benchmarks for years but without the consequences Volkswagen is experiencing.

He said the industry is much more complex than it used to be.  It’s hard for everyone to keep up with everything. Complexity, he said, is good news for channel people.

He said that the crash in oil prices is good news for European countries. But countries producing oil and commodities are going to have some difficult times including Brazil, and Australia.

But the strength of the dollar means prices have gone up in 2015. Putting prices up has clearly reduced demand.

He said there’s been a massive shift in spending into service providers and datacentre growth. Close to 50 percent of all servers that ship this year will go into datacentres. This slim margins. investment is driven by consumer companies.

Datacentres are building white box systems and even if the big brands win big server orders it’s at extremely slim margins.

But more datacentres means networking and security sectors are growing. Bringing compute and storage in a single console benefits a certain kind of customer.

Nutanix and Simplivity would like to be bought but the price may be too high.

The client computing market is only 13 percent for the first half of this year. The smartphone industry is moving away from operators. Large smartphones in the first half of this year showed 110 percent growth.

The tablet and notebook PC markets are disappointing. The industry has had too much inventory and negative scales, declining by nine percent in the first half of this year.

Microsoft invented the hper converged notebook category while Apple and Google are following suit. Microsoft is now competing directly with their OEM partners.

There’s a shift for Apple to to an all Apple microprocessor model. Microsoft hasn’t helped the channel or the OEMs with its free Windows 10 upgrade. Google products could make real headway. Google will put pressure on Microsoft and Intel.

When companies are struggling they become defensive.

Cisco has been through dramatic personnel changes in the last four months but Canalys expects it to exit some businesses but the new “vision” is still to come. A CEO change is likely at EMC.

Dell is now committed to two tier distribution through the channel. IBM lacks agility and it lacks growth. Microsoft’s new CEO has done a much better job than the previous CEO and has shifted to services and apps rather than Windows. Azure is only behind Amazon in terms of cloud services.

Cloud computing still has its challenges but the industry has moved so far to the model that it can’t go back.  Software as a service is the primary model everyone will have to deal with.

The channel is doing very well and some good things are happening.  We’re expecting a major UK channel partner to do a public flotation this year.  He said that the channel has had to bolt on different services including managed services, cloud security and co-location.  Creating a channel mix can be very lucrative.

Distribution has shown year on year growth in the European sector. The operating marin in Q2 amounted to 1.1 percent.  European distributors have grown over the last three years.



Disties lose their rag with Lenovo

lenovo_hqThere’s a dynamic in the channel between vendors, distributors and what we used to call dealers but are now forced to call resellers for politically correct reasons.

The basis of that dynamic is the cold fact that they all hate each other. The vendors hate the disties, the disties hate the vendors, the dealers hate the disties and the vendors, the disties hate the dealers. The consumers just, hopefully, buy stuff.

So here at the Canalys Channel Forum (CCF) we were pleased to observe quite a degree of upset at Lenovo for, in the 1990s jargon, “stuffing the channel”.

What that means is several distributors I have talked to here have clearly indicated that they have piles of Lenovo products in their warehouses that not only aren’t selling that well but continue to be delivered to their distributors, willy-nilly.

These sources from various distributors decline to be named, for obvious reasons, but have clearly indicated that they suspect the same thing is going to happen on the X86 server front too.

Lenovo could not be contacted at press time because it’s 05:42 in the morning here in Barcelona and we’re just waiting for breakfast to start.

We’re sure we’ll have our share of nibbles later in the day.

HP backs AMD to the hilt

AMD in BarcelonaDespite rumours of private equity money, and takeovers by people as diverse as Microsoft and even HP, it appears that AMD is still getting the kind of support it needs from partners in its egosystem (sic).

Here at the Canalys Channel Forum (CCF) conference in Barcelona, HP went out of its way to give AMD express backing and even exclusivity in the way of product launches.

Of course, there is nothing particularly new about this. I am staying at the Princesa Sofia hotel in Barcelona and it was here, now more than 20 years ago, that Compaq CEO Eckhard Pfeiffer lit out at Intel for messing with its customers’ minds. Wasn’t this also the venue for ex CEO Jerry Sanders III to declare that “with Microsoft and Intel we make the Holy Trinity?”  I think it was.

Compaq was eventually swallowed up by the HP body corporate in the shape of Winsome Carly Fiorina but it has always given AMD a fair crack of the product whip.

AMD showed off two devices that will be sold into the channel worldwide – a highly dense little jobbie that seems to have more specs than you can shake a fist at and will hang on the back of your HD monitor – and a rather light notebook that is also highly specced and soon to be released as part of the Elite family.

Of course, getting the spinners or the suits to talk about acquisitions and the like is like trying to get a spider out of its web. But, nevertheless, it seems clear that quite a few AMD suits now appear to be HP people out of Grenoble.

An HP source, who declined to be named, suggested to Channel Eye that Intel doesn’t mind these kind of exclusive deals because it will be in deep hot water if it has to go it alone.

More, if it transpires.

Business process management. Who needs it?

snake oilMarket research company Gartner appears to believe that every company in the known cosmos is gagging for business process management (BPM).

To that end, it is going to tell people between September the 9th and September the 11th all about how BPM works at the Gaylord convention centre in National Harbor, MD.

So what is BPM? Gartner believes it is all about improving things for your business to bring high performance results. Gartner thinks its four tracks that feature sessions from analysts, problem solving workshops and “peer interaction” will help businesswomen and businessmen that much better.

But a keynote about “Digital Humanism” delivered by Brian Prentice, catches our attention, if only because its sub title is “Swinging the pendulum of digital business”. This sounds more like Kant than cant.

Gartner is also pulling in Michael Massimino, a NASA astronaut, to give “views from space” about obstacles and challenges that business faces.

Keith Ferrazzi, the author of Who’s Got Your Back and Never Eat Alone will probably be joining you for lunch so you never eat alone.

It’s all very compelling stuff.

John Byrne joins Dell

AMD's John ByrneDell has appointed a vice president of sales strategy and operations – and it’s charismatic Scotsman, John Byrne,  who has bagged the job.

John Byrne could well be described as an industry veteran and is well known to practically everyone in the UK channel business.

After a long stint at Advanced Micro Devices (AMD), John decided to take some time off with his family.

But you can’t keep a John Byrne down for long, and he said: “Great to work at a company led by an industry legend like Michael Dell.”

ChannelEye sends our best wishes to him.

AMD ignites fury at hardware sites

AMD, SunnyvaleAdvanced Micro Devices (AMD) appears to have found itself in the middle of a blazing row after being accused by several hardware review sites of being biased against the press. That is, the press it doesn’t like too much.

AMD introduced its Fury product last week to a blaze of publicity but it wasn’t long before different hardware sites said no samples were to be had for love or, even, apparently money.

The crux of the matter comes down to benchmarks – some sites have said that AMD’s Fury simply doesn’t cut the ice when compared to product from arch rival Nvidia.

The situation has become so tense that one wag has used footage from the Third Reich film Downfall to portray Adolf Hitler as a frustrated AMD fanboy.

Some sites have said that the situation looks pretty much like AMD has done its traditional thing of shooting itself in both feet at the same time.

AMD is keeping mum about the matter – apparently there has been a shortage of samples while the company cranks up either its takeover by a third party or a cyanide pill at the end of the day.

AMD’s Sunnyvale site (pictured) does have bad Feng Shui. It is on the wrong side of a freeway along with ill-fated Yahoo. S3 was there at one time too.

No AMD spinners could be contacted at press time.

Dell signs up Tech Data

Dell logoTech Data will distribute a number of products from Dell in the UK and Ireland.

Dell, which in times past was positively averse to the channel, has changed its tune completely in the last few years

The company said the extended relationship with Tech Data underlines its “continued investment” in the channel.

Tech Data is one of the largest distributors of technology products in the world, with sales of close to $28 billion and a network of 115,000 resellers worldwide.

Andy Gass, MD at Tech Data, said in a prepared statement: “Dell has made a strong commitment to the indirect channel by opening its full product range to us.”

And Tim Griffin, CEO of Dell UK said: “Over the past few years, Dell’s Partner Direct programme has grown exponentially and the channel is now, more than ever, an essential element in Dell’s overall business strategy. Partners like Tech Data are pivotal to our success.”


Dell puts more beef into the channel

Dell logoThere was a time when putting the word Dell next to the word channel would produce sheer disbelief in a reader.

But those times are no more.

Today Dell said it has bolstered its channel team as well as announcing incentives and rebates for its channel partners.

The company said it has introduced a programme called “AllStars”, intended for its networking channel to do more business with the companies. Its partners get customer support and initiatives like training. The programme also gives premier and preferred partners in Europe access to C-level sales and marketing councils.

It also said that it has introduced the Vostro 15 3000 business networks aimed at SMEs and giving channel partners incentivies.

Dell has also appointed our old mate Sarah Shields as UK sales executive director and general manager for the UK. Sarah will look after a number of different routes to market.

Sarah said: “Our partners continue to pivotal… I look forward to continuing to build Dell’s offering to ensure that it meets the need of our partners across the UK.”

And Ralf Jordan has been appointed as executive director of EMEA broadline distribution.


Gigaom runs out of cash

map-of-internetTechnology web site Gigaom has closed down, after saying it had run out of cash.

Gigaom was started by our old friend Om Malik and had around six and a half million pages views a month.

But advertising revenue for small sites is at an all time low, following the disintermediation of adverts for the web.

Tom Foremski, from Silicon Valley Watcher, said that one of the biggest problems of the internet is that there is no value attached to good quality media content.

He said: “We still have no satisfactory business model that can save the media industry from the disruptive economic forces of the web, that continue to hound its shrinking news rooms and dwindling pools of exhausted professionals.”

Part of the problem, Foremski said, is that a shift to accessing the web via mobile phones means it’s almost impossible to make money from adverts.

He said it’s likely that it’s nearly impossible to make a living as an independent publisher because unless your web views are sky high, the return on adverts is tiny.

Your binmen are watching you

wheeliesA Freedom of Information (FOI) request made to Oxford City Council has revealed that the folk who pick up your wheelie bins are filming you in secret.

After a wheelie bin in TechEye’s front garden in Oxford wasn’t picked up, we called the council to ask why.

The council said that we didn’t have the bin in the right place for collection and supplied photos showing how we’d offended. We hadn’t, by the way.

Our FOI request asked Oxford City Council which Act of Parliament authorised the filming of people’s houses; how long the footage was kept; whether employees were aware they were being filmed; and whether the information was shared with other authorities internally and externally.

We received the answers to those questions today.

The council said:

1.    There is no specific legislation preventing the CCTV recording of
private property taken from public places (in this case the public
highway). The system is operated in accordance with all the requirements
and the principles of the Human Rights Act 1998, and the Data Protection
Act 1998.

2.    The footage is stored on a hard drive in the vehicle and the image
storage time does fluctuate, but is generally around 8 weeks.

3.    Yes. Staff are fully aware that they are being filmed. A full
consultation with the Unions was undertaken before the cameras were
installed on our vehicles.

4.    No. The system is operated in accordance with all the requirements
and the principles of the Human Rights Act 1998 and the Data Protection
Act 1998 and therefore, has the potential for images to be released, on
request, to the police and/or other agencies.

So there you have it. Your binmen and the council are watching you.

Notebooks to become cheap as chips

notebooksThere is a long held adage about buying notebooks and that is don’t buy them in the fourth calendar quarter.

Intel always release new chips  in the New Year and it’s always wise to wait for that to happen rather than get all excited before Yule.  But just because chip prices will come down in early 2015, don’t rush to buy a new notebook because there is, of course, trouble on the Windows 8.1 scene.

Personally, I need a new notebook and would have bought one by now but for the fact that it’s very hard to buy one with the reasonable operating system Windows 7 any more.  This is because Microsoft, as usual, is behaving like a headless chicken.

Microsoft has a sound track record of getting operating systems and operating environments wrong every other time it releases one.  Just as Vista was a dog, so Windows 7 was pretty good and therefore Windows 8.1 was certain to be a dog.

It has decided not to bother with Windows 9 and its next operating system will be called Windows 10 – a bit of a cause for concern because Windows 9, compared to Windows 8, was probably going to be pretty good but now it’s calling Windows 9, Windows 10, that is a bit of a worry.

There’s other good news on the scene if you’re up for a new notebook, because Taiwanese based market research company Digitimes Research reckons that first tier vendors’ 8GB tablets are going to drop to $99 or less. It claims major Chinese vendor  Lenovo is starting this particular price war.

Dell woman wins woman of year award

Sarah ShieldsA senior executive at Dell has been voted Woman of the Year by 1,000 IT voters.

Sarah Shields, executive director and general manager at Dell UK, picked up the award at an event organised by PCR in London today.

Shields said: “It’s an absolute honour, especially to be in a room full of such amazing women.  I really am at a loss for words right now, but I think the best thing that I can do is to inspire all women to join IT.”

It’s rarely Sarah Shields, nee Scott, is at a loss for words.  In the 20 odd years we’ve known her, she has often had something to say. And, sure enough….

She continued: “IT isn’t just about programming or hardcore selling – it’s actually one of the most rewarding an enjoyable careers a woman can get into it and make a real difference.”

Nancy Hammervik, ComTIA’s senior VP for industry relations said: “With women representing just over half of the population, and the slight majority of university graduates, it is critical we leverage this powerful demographic to contribute and grow our industry.”

Councils snoop on employees, residents

fingerprintHard evidence shows that UK councils behave far worse than Google and employ cameras to check whether their own employees and residents follow the made up rules council officials operate.

It has emerged CCTV cameras follow every movement of the binmen as they pick up wheelie bins, and binmen are called to task if they get a tiny iota wrong.

A letter from a man called Robert Brown – waste and recycling operations manager at Oxford City Council, a functionary for the body  – confirms that a corporation operating binmen has cameras watching all the time to see what both their employees and residents are up to.

We have asked for full YouTube footage of the probably daily snooping, by back door cameras watching both employees and residents, in the hope there might be transparency.

Brown said to a resident of back water Mill Street, in Oxford: “We have taken the time to check out our inboard cameras and can confirm that your bin was not presented correctly when our operatives came to service your street.”

The resident told TechEye: “My bin was where it had been for the last four and a half year years. It is a narrow street and I would not care to put a bin on the pavement because people are trying to take their children to school and walk on the narrow street.”

Oxford City Council’s Brown produced one sample of video and four photographs to demonstrate the local resident was in the wrong, but posed the question to TechEye about surveillance of both staff and the people that pay Oxford City Council’s functionary bills.

A local resident told TechEye – on conditions of anonymity – that the binmen had been happy to deliver the blue bin to its inevitable consignment in a Grunwald’s vehicle but that he was puzzled that what she thought was a mistake on the behalf of the binmen, turned out to be an act of mass surveillance.

At press time, Oxford City Council was unable to reply because they only operate between the hours of nine to five, Monday to Friday. We’ll try tomorrow to get a definitive answer from Robert Brown – that is to say his representatives on earth, the press officers at Oxford City Council.

As you can see, from the pictures, below  there is a lack of cohesive advice to both binmen and residents.  We at TechEye are also concerned at the lack of transparency and intrusion from Oxford City Council and its representatives.  More on Tuesday.