Author: Nick Farrell

Security reseller faces hacking charges

acb20792e8439a1d28a1f2cdbd7fdf1cFive employees from cybersecurity outfit Quadsys have admitted to hacking into a rival company’s servers.

The hack was apparently to nick customer data and pricing information and the top Quadsys managers have fessed up and pleaded guilty to hacking charges. Oxfordshire, UK-based Quadsys is a reseller of IT and cybersecurity products, hardware and services. The firm sells software from vendors including Websense, Checkpoint and F-Secure. Customers include Leeds United FC, South Tyne and Wear Primary Care Trust and Derry City Council.

The owner of Quadsys, Paul Streeter, managing director Paul Cox, director Alistair Barnard, account manager Steve Davies and security consultant Jon Townsend all appeared at Oxford Crown Court and admitted to “obtaining unauthorised access to computer materials to facilitate the commission of an offence”.

This could lead to up to 12 months testing the security bars of a prison.

In March 2015, the five men were arrested and then charged in August. The group were originally held on suspicion of conspiracy to commit computer misuse offences, unauthorised PC access and conspiracy to acquire and use criminal property — allegedly, the data belonging to customers of the rival company, as well as the firm’s pricing tiers.

However there are signs that they might not get the full weight of the law pressing upon them. The judge in charge of the case reduced the severity of the charges. All five pleaded not guilty to one count of “securing unauthorised access to computer material with intent,” which is against the UK Computer Misuse Act 1990.

After three plea and case hearings, an additional count of securing access to computer material without criminal intent was added to the list, of which Townsend pleaded guilty. Cox was also charged with blackmail, to which he pleaded not guilty.

They are due to be sentenced on 9 September. A second charge, obtaining unauthorised access to computer materials with intent to commit an offence, will also be heard.

 

US Navy turns to software piracy

pugwashSuppliers who think they are onto a winner flogging software to the US government might be a little concerned to learn that their trusted partner might be not what it seems.

The US Navy appears to have turned to piracy in the sort of way that would make its tough pro-Hollywood and software industry stance look a bit hypocritical.

Apparently the US Navy liked a trial copy given to it by a German 3D software outfit  Bitmanagement Software GmbH so much that it stole it. And now Bitmanagement is suing the United States of America for over half a billion dollars.

According to the court filing, Bitmanagement licensed its BS Contact Geo software for use on 38 Navy computers from 2011 to 2012. This limited rollout was “for the purposes of testing, trial runs, and integration into Navy systems.”

While this test period was underway, the Navy reportedly began negotiating to license the software for use on thousands of additional computers.

However, while the negotiations were ongoing, the Navy initiated its full-scale rollout without actually paying for the software.

In total, the initial 38 computers allegedly swelled to 104,922 computers by October 2013. As of today, BS Contact GEO is claimed to be installed on 558,466 Navy computers, although “likely this unauthorized copying has taken place on an even larger scale” according to the filing.

As if the unauthorized installation of software onto hundreds of thousands of computers wasn’t enough, Bitmanagement is alleging that the Navy during 2014 began disabling the Flexwrap software that is tasked with tracking the use of BS Contact Geo and helping to prevent it from being duplicated.

At the time the retail price of a single BS Contact Geo license was $1067.76. With nearly 600,000 computers now in play, Bitmanagement is seeking a whopping $596,308,103 in damages. The lawsuit, which alleges willful copyright infringement was filed on 15 July

EMC votes to become part of the glorious Dell empire

legionnairesEMC has approved Dell’s $60 billion offer to become part of the glorious Empire in the largest technology merger ever.

The newly combined entity, to be named Dell Technologies, aims to be a one-stop shop for information technology sold to businesses. OF course they all say that, but this will be pretty big.

It will consolidate diverse products and services under one umbrella, including personal computers, servers, storage and networking equipment.  The only thing which could stick a spanner in the works is regulatory approval from China.

EMC Chief Executive Joe Tucci said before the vote that the board evaluated numerous options and decided that the merger with Dell is the best outcome.

Once combined, the two companies plan to help customers move to cloud computing, which likely would be a hybrid approach that includes both cloud and on-premises operations.

The deal will also let Dell exploit EMC’s “converged infrastructure”, to sell computing, storage and networking equipment as an easy-to-install bundle.

The deal will give current EMC shareholders a tracking stock for VMware shares. Consequently, the privately held Dell will issue quarterly financial reports.

 

Today is D-Day for EMC

michael-dell-2Today is the day that EMC shareholders vote to merge with Dell, or tell Michael Dell to go sling his hook.

The merger was announced last October and will create a more-than $70 billion global IT powerhouse with significant strengths from PCs to security and the high-end data centre.

EMC had been under pressure from shareholders to be broken up so being swallowed whole came as a bit of a surprise. The company’s enterprise business will be run from EMC’s headquarters in Hopkinton – a place in America somewhere –  while the rest of the business will be run from Dell’s house in Texas.

There is no guarantee that Dell will manage to convince shareholders. However, the signs are that it will be rubber stamped. The deal has received the seal of approval from two independent proxy firms, ISS and Glass Lewis, and hasn’t been the subject of any public investor unrest. But nothing is certain.  Dell’s Empire has a debt loading which makes my credit card bill look very small potatoes.

Still the deal is worth $62.3 billion.

Shareholders are being asked to approve the merger, vote to give huge “go away”  payments to top EMC executives as a result of the merger. This is basically giving $90 million to EMC Chairman and CEO Joe Tucci; CFO Zane Rowe; EMC Infrastructure President David Goulden; Marketing Chief Jeremy Burton and COO Howard Elias. They will only get the money if they bugger off and never darken Dell’s door again.

Dell himself is quietly confident that everything will go through on time. He thinks that the merger will be completed by October.

VR is too pricey to sell

CeVB4bYW8AA9Kt6VR is still too pricey to make a clean sale, with more than half of consumers thinking that the technology is over priced.

A survey carried out by IT market analysts Context has found that almost four in ten consumers in the UK believe that VR is too expensive. That figure rises to 47 percent when extended to include thre rest of Europe.

When asked how much they would be willing to spend on their first VR headset, consumers showed they thought that spending that much dosh was a waste of time.

37 percent would prefer to pay nothing for the headset, whilst 21 percent would only be willing to pay under £100. Nevertheless, over a third (35 percent) would fork out £100 to £200, but when asked to consider the current cost of the headsets, almost four in ten (39 percent) believe they are too expensive.

It is not as if they are poorly informed. The survey also found that three in four consumers have heard of technology such as the Oculus Rift, HTC Vive or PlayStation VR.

Consumers in the UK and around Europe are most excited about VR’s applications in sport, film and TV. Half of those surveyed in the UK (51 per cent) want the chance to experience something they would never do in real life, such as sky diving.

VR’s biggest draw is currently sport, with 60 percent of consumers claiming they’re most excited about viewing a match as if they were really there. This figure rose to 65 and 66 percent in France and Germany.

The survey has found that those in the UK certainly do not see VR as a gimmick, with over half of the British public (56 percent) agreeing that VR has serious applications in fields such as medicine, science, and education. The figure rose to 68 percent with German consumers.

The tech industry has given VR a dominant focus over the past few years, and that trend looks set to continue as it becomes more widely available.

Security vendor revenues rising as market contracts

securityBeancounters working for analyst outfit Gartner have added up some numbers and divided by their shoe size and worked out that security software revenues have risen  3.7 percent and were worth  $22.1bn in 2015.

The report said that security information and event management  remained the fastest-growing sub segment of the cybersecurity market and saw a 15.8 per cent growth. Consumer security software recorded a 5.9 percent year-on-year decline.

The top five vendors were Symantec, Intel, IBM, Trend Micro and EMC and they accounted for 37.6 percent of the security software revenue market share, down.

These vendors saw a collective decline of 4.2 percent in 2015, while the rest of the market grew strongly at 9.2 percent year on year. In fact, of the top five only Biggish Blue grew and increased its revenue by 2.5 percent to reach $1.45billion.

Both Symantec and Intel Security both suffered from the long-standing decline of the consumer market for anti-virus products and services. But Symantec still remained on top despite suffering a third consecutive year of revenue decline and its highest decline in revenue over a three-year period.

Still at least it did better than Intel which saw revenues fall from $1.83bn to $1.75bn between 2014 and 2015.

Amazon’s Prime Day boosted sales by 60 per cent

amazonOnline retailer Amazon claims that its “prime day” resulted in a boost of sales of 60 percent worldwide.

Despite early glitches, the retailer said it recorded the largest daily sales for Amazon devices on Tuesday, helped by heavy discounts. The Fire TV Stick was its best-selling device.

Orders rose by more than 50 percent in the United States, Amazon said. Orders placed on the company’s mobile app doubled.

Amazon did not provide total sales figures for the event, which was open only to members of its $99-per-year Prime subscription service.

However it might not have gone as well as Amazon hoped. Analysts noted that the rate of deals selling out was a lot slower than expected, meaning that Amazon was expecting the demand to be higher. However the number were still pretty good.

If orders jumped 60 percent over last year, that could mean sales in excess of $650 million on this year’s Prime Day

Citi analysts had projected up to $1 billion in sales from Prime Day. However, a snag that resulted in some customers being unable to add discounted items to their shopping carts could have affected sales.

Amazon’s potential sales from the event pales in comparison with the more than $14 billion of total value of goods transacted during Alibaba’s Singles’ Day shopping festival in China in November.

Piper Jaffray’s Gene Munster said global unit sales growth of more than 60 percent outperformed the brokerage’s estimate of a 37 percent growth.

The sale is also expected to drive shoppers to the Prime service, which offers original TV programming and access to digital entertainment products such as Prime Music and Prime Video, as well as one-hour delivery of purchases.

Benchmark Co analyst Daniel Kurnos said he expects Prime Day to have added over 6 million new Prime members worldwide and to boost year-over-year revenue growth by 300 basis points.

Microsoft names new UK partner boss

microsoftSoftware King of the World Microsoft has named Glenn Wollaghan as its new UK  partner supremo who will take on a role once occupied by Martin Gregory and Linda Rendleman.

Wollaghan  has had a good week. He started the role of partner development lead this week, after his predecessor Martin Gregory left the role of partner business and development director earlier this year. Gregory did not have time to warm the seat when his predecessor Linda Rendleman returned to to the US last summer.

Wollaghan has been a Microsoft Vole for three years, during which time he has run its SMB and telesales business. He had a decade working for Symantec before that.

Wollaghan’s job is a bit different to the one  occupied by Gregory and Rendleman. For a start he will have a wider remit.

Clare Barclay, Microsoft UK’s general manager for small and mid-market solutions and partners said that  Wollaghan will take the the lead on partner strategy stuff. Microsoft is investing more in partner development because we see the opportunity in the cloud.

 

Channel partners positive about European changes

emcChannel partners across Europe appear to be an optimistic lot, unless you are talking about HP, according to figures gathered by beancounters at Context.

In the outfit’s ChannelWatch, channel partners generally approved of their distributers and even liked the move by Dell to buy EMC. If they were unhappy about anything it was the splitting off of HP.

Jeremy Davies, Context CEO and co-founder said that resellers were clear on their opinions, especially when it comes to how they rate their distributors where overall the verdict has been good.

The reaction towards distribution in the UK was particularly positive, with 40 per cent thinking their partners were ‘excellent’. That was higher than elsewhere in Europe, which in the case of France and Portugal had the lowest levels hitting the top mark.

The Context survey found more partners thinking of adding Dell to their lists in the next six months. However, HP is not doing so well with two thirds of respondents claiming that the firms split might make them less inclined to take on products in the future.

Oracle culls channel execs in cloud push

Oracle-Announces-X5Oracle has laid off several channel and sales executives as well as its entire channel pre-sales technical support team. It is part of a cunning plan to push its cloud licensing direct sales.

So far the cuts have been in North America where 225 and 300 staff have been told that they will have to leave the building by the end of the month. Some of those let go were vice president-level sales managers who’d been focused on selling hardware and on-premise software at Oracle.

Gone are Gary Koopman, group vice president of alliances and channels in Oracle’s North America sales group and Christine Aumann who was director of sales consulting for Oracle’s North American hardware alliances.  Steve Vakulskas, group vice president of North America technology sales has gone alone with Anthony Cioletti, who was a senior sales consulting manger and Dennis Schurmeier who looked after Oracle’s public sector business.

The figure includes sales engineers and sales consultants who worked closely with channel partners. Also gone is the entire channel pre-sales technical support team who go into the customer with the partners and determine how the solutions should be engineered and fit together.

Without them the channel is going to have a hell of a time getting deals closed.

This all comes down to Oracle CTO Larry Ellison’s war with Salesforce.com to become the first SaaS vendor to reach $10 billion in annual sales.

 

Microsoft reshuffles sales and marketing execs

reshuffleMicrosoft Supreme Dalek Satya Nadella announced a broad reorganization of the company’s senior executive ranks as the outfit’s Chief Operating Officer Kevin Turner is packing his office up into photocopy boxes.

Turner is leaving for new job CEO of the securities unit at financial-services firm Citadel. He leaves a hole in Vole Hill because he was the bloke responsible for setting up Microsoft’s global sales.

Instead of naming a new COO, Nadella appointed two executives to divvy up the sales responsibilities and report to him. Jean-Philippe Courtois will be in charge of global sales, marketing and operations spanning Microsoft’s 13 business areas, Nadella said in a note to employees Thursday. Judson Althoff will lead the worldwide commercial business, including government and small and medium-sized businesses.

Courtois has been with Microsoft for 32 years as an international sales executive at Microsoft, having run both Microsoft International and Microsoft EMEA previously. Althoff previously ran Microsoft North America and is a former Oracle executive.

Chris Capossela will take the worldwide marketing jon, Kurt DelBene leading IT and Chief Financial Officer Amy Hood taking over the sales and marketing team’s finance group, which had been separate.

Turner had bought the sales and operations organisations a discipline it had lacked and did well boosting the sales of enterprise software. But there was also declining sales growth in the final years of CEO Steve Ballmer’s reign as.

Turner was a candidate to replace Ballmer as CEO in 2014, but was passed over in favour of Nadella. He has been searching for a CEO job for several years we guess it was on his bucket list.

Nadella said that he and Turner had been discussing what needs to be done in sales and support to help Microsoft “continue to reach for the next level of customer centricity and obsession.”

To do that, Nadella said he decided to more closely embed Turner’s unit in the rest of the company. The reorganization dismantles what had become something of a parallel organization within Microsoft, where Turner had his own finance, marketing and communications staffs.

Amazon.co.uk sees no Britexit fall out yet

amazonsAmazon says that its British site has not seen any sales dip since the vote to leave the European Union, and in fact it is planning to create a further 1,000 jobs across the UK this year.

UK country manager Doug Gurr said that the site’s sales were in line with expectations and it was business as usual.

Gurr, who became Amazon’s UK head in May after a stint in China, said it was too early to say what the impact of the June 23 Brexit vote would be.

“There’s a lot of details to be worked out … We don’t know exactly what the regulatory environment will be, we don’t know exactly what the terms of the new separation will be,” he said.

A survey published last week showed confidence among British consumers fell sharply in the days after the referendum, while on Tuesday department store retailer John Lewis said its sales grew more slowly last week.

On Tuesday the boss of Sainsbury’s, Britain’s second largest supermarket group, said there was a danger of Britain talking itself into another recession.

Gurr said Amazon’s plans for the UK had not changed on the Brexit vote.

“We’re continuing with the plans, we haven’t suddenly invented new plans,” he said.

The additional jobs will take Amazon’s full time permanent employees in the UK to over 15,500 by the end of the year.

The status of EU nationals currently living in Britain has been clouded by the Brexit vote.

“What we’ve said to all of our teams is: ‘As far as we’re concerned nothing changes. We’re still part of the EU as of today, we’ll continue to operate on that basis,” said Gurr.

Dell jacks up Brexit prices

michael-dell-2UK suppliers are already having to pay the cost for the UK’s Brexit referendum result – Michael Dell is already jacking up his prices by eight percent.

Dell increased UK prices across its portfolio by eight or nine percent, according to its partners. He is not the only one.  Canalys warned that US vendors will begin hiking the prices of its products feared the UK IT market could shrink by as much as 15 percent next year.

Dell tends to hedge everything against the dollar on a quarterly basis. It was expected that he would do it in August but it was brought forward.

Fortunately, all the suppliers are in the same boat and no one is going to get an advantage out of this. However, it does makes sales teams look a bit stupid if they quoted a price one morning and are having to jack up the prices a few days later.

The worry is that clients will start looking at their budgets again and wonder about suspending projects until things have settled down a bit.

In a statement, Dell said:

“Dell’s priority is always to provide great value to our customers and partners. We carefully consider price moves for our customers and partners, and have worked diligently over the past several months to postpone any increases pending the outcome of the EU referendum. In line with the rest of the industry, our component costs are priced in US dollars, and unfortunately, the recent strengthening of the US dollar versus the euro and other currencies in the EMEA region, following the UK’s decision to leave the European Union, will have a direct impact on the price we sell to our EMEA customers and partners.

“We understand that this is an uncertain time for many British businesses and we will continue to work closely with our customers and partners to provide great value products and services,” a spokesDell said.

EU starts €1.8 billion cyber security plan

european-commissionThe EU has signed an agreement with industry on cybersecurity and stepped up efforts to tackle cyber-threats which it hopes will trigger €1.8 billion of investment by 2020. It would be a big help to security suppliers, if the UK remained in the EU.

The new public-private partnership is part of a series of new initiatives to better equip Europe against cyber-attacks and to strengthen the competitiveness of its cybersecurity sector.

According to a recent survey, at least 80 percent of European companies have experienced at least one cybersecurity incident over the last year and the number of security incidents across all industries worldwide rose by 38 percent in 2015.

As part of its Digital Single Market strategy the Commission wants to reinforce cooperation across borders, and between all actors and sectors active in cybersecurity, and to help develop innovative and secure technologies, products and services throughout the EU.

Andrus Ansip, Vice-President for the Digital Single Market, said: “Without trust and security, there can be no Digital Single Market. Europe has to be ready to tackle cyber-threats that are increasingly sophisticated and do not recognise borders. Today, we are proposing concrete measures to strengthen Europe’s resilience against such attacks and secure the capacity needed for building and expanding our digital economy.”

Under the plan the EU will invest €450 million, under its research and innovation programme Horizon 2020. Cybersecurity market players, represented by the European Cyber Security Organisation (ECSO), are expected to invest three times more. This partnership will also include members from national, regional and local public administrations, research centres and academia. The aim of the partnership is to foster cooperation at early stages of the research and innovation process and to build cybersecurity solutions for various sectors, such as energy, health, transport and finance.

The Commission also sets out different measures to tackle the fragmentation of the EU cybersecurity market. Currently an ICT company might need to undergo different certification processes to sell its products and services in several Member States. The Commission will therefore look into a possible European certification framework for ICT security products.

A myriad of European SMEs have emerged in niche markets  and in well-established markets with new business models (like antivirus software), but they are often unable to scale up their operations. The Commission wants to ease access to finance for smaller businesses working in the field of cybersecurity and will explore different options under the EU investment plan.

Of course this does not apply to the UK. By the time the scheme is ready to go, the UK will have Brexited and will have to find its own source of funds, or not have any cyber security schemes of its own. But at least it can make up its own mind and it still has royality.

Microsoft about to knock Amazon off of its cloud

Every silver has a cloudy liningBeancounters at Morgan Stanley think that Microsoft’s Azure will edge out Amazon Web Services by 2019 for both Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) and Platform as a Service (PaaS).

The 2016 CIO Survey worked out that  31 percent of the CIOs will be using Azure for IaaS, versus roughly 30 percent using AWS. Today, about 21 percent are using AWS and 12 percent are using Azure. While nearly 55 percent of the surveyed CIOs said they’re using no public-cloud IaaS today, that number will drop to less than 10 percent by the end of 2019.

Azure is already leading AWS in PaaS and it is used by 18 percent of the respondents, versus AWS’s 16 percent. Azure’s lead will grow slightly by 2019, growing 9.8 percent versus 6.4 percent, Morgan Stanley said.

Software as a Service (SaaS) spending is looking promising with 95 percent of the 100 respondents predicting it will be flat or will increase, up from 90 percent last year.  Its key driver will be marketing applications from the likes of Adobe, HubSpot and Salesforce.

Nearly one-third of all applications will be migrated to the public cloud by the end 2017, up from 14 percent today, the survey said. On-premises apps will decline to 58 percent, from 71 percent today.

Hardware vendors, including conventional and flash storage makers, will continue to suffer as their market is eaten by the cloud. Hardware spending growth is down this year to 3.2 percent, from 3.4 percent last year.

Hewlett Packard Enterprise and NetApp face the largest threats, the study said. Biggish Blue might be saved by its cloud investments and cognitive-computing offering.

Oracle, EMC, Dell, VMWare and Cisco, in that order, all face declines in their share of the next three years’ IT budgets, ranging from -17 percent to -9 percent.