Author: Nick Farrell

More Microsoft partner consolidation happens

microsoft-in-chinaIt seems that Microsoft’s partners are busy buying each other at the moment with dynamics expert SAGlobal snapping up fM4 Systems.

Both are based in the Cardiff area and have worked together on a number of occasions in the past. But last week, SAGlobal snapped up M4 for an undisclosed sum, in a move which will create a £7 million turnover firm with around 500 staff globally.

It is the latest pair of Microsoft partners to merge. New Signature bought Paradigm, and RedPixie snapped up Cloudamour at the start of last year.  The move is widely seen as a part of a general vendor consolidation which arrived about the same time that Vole moved onto a more cloud orientation.

This meant that vendors need to become more focused on their customer base. Taking another company’s contact list therefore makes a lot of sense.  But many resellers are finding that with Microsoft’s cloud services there is less for them to do that Vole is not doing already. Resellers are scrabbling around looking for  complementary services on top to replace the lost revenue streams.

Meanwhile Microsoft only wants resellers who offer something over and above what they offer themselves in their generic product.

The latest acquisition gives SAGlobal and M4 much needed scale and  shows that the Dynamics channel is maturing.

 

Gemalto suffers from poor US sales

USmilitaryOUTSecurity outfit  Gemalto expects its revenue for first quarter to be lower by seven percent to nine percent at constant exchange rates compared to the same period of 2016. This is mainly due to lower than expected Payment business revenue in the United States.

The Gemalto Payment business revenue for the full year 2017 is estimated to be around €100 million lower than its initial expectation. This update primarily reflects a double digit decline in its assumption for the payment cards total available market in the United States due to EMV card inventory levels at its customers in the first semester. This situation also leads to a lower contribution from personalization services.

Looking ahead, taking into account the first quarter trend, Gemalto now expects its 2017 profit from operations outlook to be at a similar level to 2016. Gemalto is currently reviewing its action plan to minimize the impact.

The company will provide further details when it publishes its first quarter revenue on April 28, 2017.

Microsoft and Adobe getting closer

dc34c48293d48b194affb44168216351Microsoft and Adobe  are joining to make their respective sales and marketing software products better at seeing off Salesforce and Oracle.

The pair said they will work together to create a a shared data format between Adobe’s marketing software suite, which the company is re-naming its Experience Cloud, and Microsoft’s sales software, called Dynamics, allowing the software systems to work together seamlessly.

“It’s going to enable to customers to go beyond the current (software) silos they have to navigate today,” said Scott Guthrie, executive vice president of the cloud and enterprise division at Microsoft.

For Adobe the partnership builds on a deal it struck with Microsoft last year to use its Azure cloud computing services.

Adobe has been pushing into business-to-business marketing software since it purchased Omniture Inc, a firm that helps website owners track their traffic, for $1.8 billion in 2009. Software that companies use to run digital marketing and advertising campaigns represented about $1.2 billion of Adobe’s $4.6 billion in revenue last year.

Microsoft has been trying to expand Dynamics, its software system for sales people. Teaming with Adobe helps it compete more strongly against Salesforce and Oracle, which both offer a combination of sales and marketing software.

 

IBM launches blockchain service

redstoneblock1Biggish Blue has launched a service that will allow businesses to build applications on its cloud using the Hyperledger Project’s blockchain code.

Developers designed IBM Blockchain for building enterprise-grade technology using Hyperledger Fabric, the first code released by the open source group.

The Fabric blockchain can process more than 1,000 transactions per second and has the necessary features for large enterprises to build their applications, IBM said.

It added it was working with technology company SecureKey Technologies and a group of Canadian banks to build a digital identity network using its new blockchain services.

The network, set for launch later this year, is aimed at making it easier for consumers to prove their identities when accessing services such as new bank accounts, driver’s licenses or utilities. Banks involved include Bank of Montreal, Royal Bank of Canada, Bank of Nova Scotia, Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, and Toronto-Dominion Bank.

Blockchain is a digital shared record of transactions that is kept by a network of computers on the internet, without the need of a centralised authority.

Big businesses, including many of the world’s largest banks, have been increasing their investment in the technology in hopes it can help them reduce the complexity and costs of some of their most difficult processes, such as the settlement of securities or international payments.

Technology companies and professional services firms have also been ramping up their investment in blockchain, as they race to capture the nascent market.

IBM is big on blockchain and has several large clients developing applications with the technology, including Northern Trust, Wal-Mart, and the Depository Trust & Clearing Corporation.

IBM said it had also tested a blockchain-based asset management platform for carbon assets with Chinese company Energy-Blockchain Labs. The companies aim to release the platform, built using the new IBM Blockchain, later this year.

Avast appoints more security partners

securityInsecurity outfit Avast has named a third UK distributor to get the AVG product range out there before more partners.

Avast has signed up Northamber as part of a cunning plan to increase its channel sales this year. AVG was  initially called Grisoft and grew to become one of the biggest brands in desktop and mobile security apps. It also offers a range of related services, including AVG Cleaner for Android and Mac. The company is now headquartered in Amsterdam.

Avast was founded out of Prague in 1988. It has since emerged as one of the leading online security firms and is reported to control more than a fifth of the global antivirus software market. Though it is better known for its security software, Avast has branched out into other verticals — earlier this year, the company launched a new initiative to reveal the best Wi-Fi hotspots, using crowdsourced data.

Avast acquiried AVG to “gain scale, technological depth, and geographical breadth” and so it can “take advantage of emerging growth opportunities in internet security, as well as organizational efficiencies.”

Northamber will be handling the AVG small business products, which include CloudCare and Managed Workplace, which provide remote monitoring and management.

Northamber joins CMS and Sigma Software Distribution, which was signed up by the vendor last September, as the firm’s UK distributors.

IMImobile signs Global Framework Agreement with Telenor

cloudCloud communications software and solutions outfit IMImobile has signed a Global Framework Agreement with Telenor following a competitive tender process.

Under the deal, IMImobile will supply its cloud Digital Service Delivery Platform, VAS (Value Added Services) Virtualisation System and services for Telenor Business Units.

The platform will be deployed in a secure cloud environment, and will support Telenor’s long term vision to virtualise network capabilities and improve the efficiency of its core business.

Telenor is one of the biggest mobile operators, providing tele, data and media services for 214 million subscribers in 13 markets across Scandinavia, Central and Eastern Europe and Asia.

Nitin Gupta, Sr. Group Expert Business Applications, at Telenor Group said that IMImobile successfully demonstrated that its Digital Service Delivery Platform and VAS Virtualization products meet its criteria to enhance digital service deployments across the Group.

“The partnership will enable Telenor Group to respond to the growing demand to digitally transform and optimise our business processes, allowing for faster and more efficient service delivery.”

Jay Patel, Chief Executive Officer at IMImobile commented: “We are pleased to be working with Telenor on one of their key business transformation projects. By integrating our cloud Digital Service Delivery Platform, Telenor can drive both cost savings and faster time to market for new digital and unified customer services.”

 

Dell boots “rogue resellers”

RogueOneDell EMC has booted two partners off the Dell EMC Partner Programme this week claiming they were engaged in repeated abuse of the deal registration system.

Dell is not telling anyone who is in hot water but said that they abused the deal registration system of the new programme, which went live last month.

It says that it will enforce its zero-tolerance view on any dodgy deals its partners or its inside sales staff are involved in.

One partner was “consistently reselling goods secured for a named customer” and boosting the grey market and the second was registering a deal for customer A and then repeatedly selling to customer B when they knew they couldn’t get a deal reg for customer A in the first place. If that makes sense.

When Dell EMC launched the new combined partner programme it stressed the importance of its rules of engagement. The code of conduct was designed to ensure the Dell EMC inside sales force, which has historically been a direct-selling business, does not gazump channel deals, but also to ensure fair-play among partners.

Dell EMC said that the company had no problem booting out those that purposely cheat.

Dell EMC uncovered the issues with the partners’ deal registrations itself internally, but soon after doing so, was alerted to the issue by numerous others from its partner base.

IBM scores huge outsourcing deal with Lloyds

ibm-officeBiggish Blue has scored a $1.6 billion outsourcing deal with Lloyds Banking Group, but that is not great news for its IT staff.

Under the deal, IBM would pay Lloyds for its data centre assets and in return will charge the bank for ongoing management.

Lloyds plans to move almost 2,000 members of staff to IBM as part of the IT outsourcing deal in the hope that the seven-year deal will save the bank close to $930 million in costs, streamline the business and make its IT services more agile.

Lloyds Trade Union (LTU), which represents around 35,000 members of staff has now found itself “derecognised” by the bank. It fears that once the deal is signed the jobs would be “offshored” over a four-year period and most of the 1,961 positions will be cut.

1,961 staff will be transferred to IBM including permanent staff, contractors, third parties and offshore suppliers. However after four years, only 193 of the staff transferred to IBM will still be working on the LBG contract,” the LTU claimed.

It does sound like a rather old-fashioned outsourcing deal, which while being popular in the 1990s and early part of 2000s fell from favour when the savings proved to be less than expected and off-shore staffing of IT departments less efficient than traditional employees.

Microsoft carries out partner review

Stefan_Lochner_-_Last_Judgement_-_circa_1435Software King of the World, Microsoft, is auditing its partners and sorting out the sheep from the goatees.

Request for proposals (RFPs) were sent out to existing and new distributors last Friday covering much of the software Microsoft puts through distribution especially its full packaged products (FPP), OEM Windows, OEM server and electronic software delivery (ESD) products.

At the moment, Vole uses Tech Data, Ingram, Westcoast, Exertis and Entatech but now it is thought that Microsoft wants its distributors to reflect its recent move into hardware and changes to its business model.

VIP and Ci Distribution have received an invite to bid which could suggest a widening of the distribution channel, or that some big names might be culled.

Ingram and Tech Data recently lost out in a similar review Microsoft completed for its hardware accessories business, which includes mice and keyboards. In that case there were seven distributors were invited to bid for this franchise but only Exertis and Westcoast were successful.

Changtel boss disqualified for 13 years


taxman sheet musicFormer owner
of Changtel Solutions UK Jason Tsai has been barred from being a company director for 13 years after being caught participating an VAT fraud.

Changtel owed millions of pounds to HMRC, after the outfit participated in transactions which related to the fraudulent evasion of VAT between 29 June 2007 and 10 December 2010.

The fraud involved batches of high-value components shipped between companies in different parts of the EU. The fraudsters charge VAT on the sale of the goods but do not pay this back to the relevant governments and then in most cases disappear or shut up shop.

Between 2007 and the close of 2010, ETL was involved in 107 wholesale transactions, 79 of which HMRC claimed were traced back to “defaulting traders”, incurring tax losses of at least £15.6 million.

A further 25 were tracked to defaulting suppliers, via a contra trader, and those defaulting traders incurred tax losses of £5.4m to HMRC.

“Tsai caused or allowed ETL to wrongfully claim input VAT of at least £19.5 million from HM Revenue and Customs in relation to the [fiscal] 2007 to [fiscal] 2010 VAT periods,” the IS document stated.

Changtel was finally wound up in 2015, but before this Changtel sold several assets to Entatech in 2013, another company with links to Tsai. These transactions were disputed by HMRC.

Entatech itself was sold to Stevinson Capital in 2015, which reached a settlement early last year. Tsai is not involved with the business since.

Alphabet invests in Currencycloud

cloudbustAlphabet has written a cheque for a UK startup that provides technology to enable businesses to provide cross-border payments services to its customers.

Currencycloud has received more than $25 million in an investment round in Currencycloud alongside existing investors Notion Capital, Sapphire Ventures, Rakuten and venture capital firm Anthemis Group.

The cash injection, which brings the total raised by Currencycloud to $61 million, will be used to support the company’s global expansion plans, the company said.

Mike Laven, Currencycloud’s chief executive officer said his outfit had just opened in the US and required a lot more development.

Launched in 2012 Currencycloud’s platform allows companies ranging from banks to payments startups to offer international payments services without having to set up complex and costly cross-border infrastructure.

Its clients include Swedish payments business Klarna, Standard Bank Group, Travelex and startups Azimo and Revolut. Around $25 billion has been sent through the company’s infrastructure to more than 200 countries.

Laven said Google was attracted to Currencycloud because it saw it as a company that provided computer developers tools to add cross-border payment functionality to their services.

“Google looked at us as a tool that is used in globalising domestic businesses,” Laven said.

The funding round is a surprise as there had been a noted drop in venture capital investments in UK financial technology startups since Brexit.

HPE gets more Nimble

Funny-Surfing-22Hewlett Packard Enterprise has written a $1 billion in cash cheque to buy Nimble Storage which makes predictive all-flash and hybrid-flash storage systems.

HPE claims it will mean that it can offer a full range of flash storage systems for different customer bands. HPE’s hopes the move will see of rivals from Dell EMC, NetApp and Pure Storage.

IDC reckons the flash storage market topped reached $15 billion in 2016, and will grow to almost $20 billion by 2020 with nearly 17 percent compound annual growth rate.

Nimble’s flash systems are aimed at SMEs and HPE said the acquisition is complementary to its midrange to high-end 3PAR flash storage systems and its affordable MSA products.

Meg Whitman, HPE president and CEO, in a statement that Nimble Storage’s portfolio complements and strengthens HPE’s 3PAR products in the high-growth flash storage market and will help it deliver on its vision of making Hybrid IT simple for our customers.

“This acquisition is exactly aligned with the strategy and capital allocation approach we’ve laid out. We remain focused on high-growth and higher-margin segments of the market.”

HPE wants Nimble’s InfoSight Predictive Analytics platform to be used across its storage products portfolio. That technology helps IT managers detect and resolve IT infrastructure issues, reducing the amount of time spent on support activities.

Combining the HPE and Nimble product portfolios would allow customers to more easily move and replicate data across hybrid flash and all-flash storage to meet IT demands, more easily manage storage volumes and data compaction to reduce capacity costs, and integrate data protection capabilities with data encryption, replication and integration capabilities provided by third-party applications, Whiteman said.

Antonio Neri, executive vice president and general manager of HPE’s Enterprise Group wrote in the company’s bog that Nimble’s entry to midrange predictive flash storage solutions, coupled with InfoSight, its leading predictive analytics technology, will strengthen HPE’s flash storage portfolio by expanding market reach and enabling a transformed, analytics-based customer experience.

Smart home channel opportunities just beginning

28aa8f108e881657229d88bf6ead4af5Beancounters from Gartner think that the UK is just at the start of its adoption of smart home technologies and there could be big opportunities for the channel.

Gartner said that it was still early days and those who had not got a smart home strategy probably have not missed out on much.

Gartner analysts said that of the UK, US and Australia America was ahead in adoption because the concept had been out there longer but there had been some movement here as the technology begins to gain popularity.

The most popular products were home security alarm systems followed by monitoring, energy management and then health and wellness management.

Big G suggested that the secret to pitching smart home products was to concentrate on an overall solution to help the user get more from the technology.

Jessica Ekholm, research director at Gartner said that messaging needed to be focused on the real value proposition that the complete connected home ecosystem provides, encompassing devices, service and experience.

“The emphasis needs to be on how the connected home can helps solve daily tasks rather than just being a novelty collection of devices and apps,” she added. Users liked to be able to manage their various smart functions through a single dashboard and thought that branding was important. More than half saw a value in products being certified.

Citrix partners predict growth this year

1_Citrix-SignMost Citrix channel partners predict 2017 will see more revenue growth than last year.

According to Citrix, more than 88 percent of its polled partners across Northern Europe, including UK and Ireland, Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden where optimistic about revenue growth.

More than 71 percent said they are undergoing some kind of transformation, and 45 per cent were revamping their processes to keep up with industry changes.

Justin Sutton-Parker, Citrix partner director for Northern Europe, said that the IT industry was facing one of the largest periods of change since its inception, with new and innovative technologies disrupting the bigger players and driving increased customer churn.

“Despite this challenge, channel partners are forecasting a year of significant growth, with the cloud earmarked as a driver of such change.”

A third of partners think they will see revenue increases of more than 20 percent year on year thanks to bigger opportunities, and a fifth predict margins will increase as a result of customer demand.

The Cloud will be the primary growth driver, according to 71 percent of respondents, who said it will account for at least 10 percent of revenues.

More than 38 percent of respondents said they think cloud will account for 20 per cent of new business in the coming year. However, cloud drove less than 10 per cent of revenues for 60 percent of partners last year.

Emerging technologies such as AI, Big Data and the IoT may be too immature to experience the same sort of growth as the cloud, the survey found.

Just over half said the IoT is important, but 37 percent don’t believe it will make a difference to their business, and 12 percent won’t be selling IoT gear.

“Partners may be divided when it comes to the potential of emerging technologies such as Big Data and the IoT, but the message is clear when it comes to the delivery of cloud services. The time for action is now, and only by working with the right vendors can partners truly capitalise on this opportunity,” Sutton-Parker said.

Cybersecurity will be one of the leading growth areas for the channel in 2017. Over 90 percent of partners said they fully expect customers to increase spending on cybersecurity in the next year. The motivation behind this is increased governance and regulation, they said.

Apogee buys Danwood

Merge-AheadApogee has written a cheque for fellow print outfit Danwood, claiming their glorious nuptials union will create Europe’s largest independent specialist in managing print.

Apogee made the announcement, confirming it has snapped up Danwood for an undisclosed sum.

In the announcement, Apogee said its board of directors, led by its joint CEOs Jason Colins and Robin Stanton-Gleaves, will continue to manage the group following the deal.

Apogee said Danwood’s presence in the SME, corporate and public sector space in the UK will “significantly enhance” its client base, which currently consists of 10,000 retained customers and 8,000 transactional ones.

Apogee’s Collins said: “This significant acquisition for Apogee provides us with the scale and reach to be a leading player in the European market for managed print services. Danwood has terrific strengths that complement Apogee’s offering and strategy, including a large client base of major corporate businesses, government and public sector organisations, and a strong service network that will increase the group’s coverage and capacity to support its clients across the UK and continental Europe.”