Author: Nick Farrell

Irish Data Solutions sets up shop in UK

hN5nlncPIrish distributor Data Solutions has announced a three-year, £3.8 million investment in expanding into the UK with new office in Reading.

The move is part of a cunning plan to triple its business and score a £60 million turnover on the back of the investment.

Data Solutions specialises in next generation data centres, security and unified communications.  It plans to hire 10 new employees in its Reading office by 2018 to coincide with the expansion and it wants its UK operations to be the same size as those in Ireland.

Sean Fane has been named as the UK managing director. Fane has more than 20 years’ channel experience in the UK.

Fane says the UK operation will “bring the engagement philosophy of partnership and the strong value proposition from our long-established Irish parent company to the UK reseller community.”

He said that his ‘back-office’ team had a depth of sales and marketing skills and experience, and has a track-record of achieving results for emerging technology companies. Fane thinks the outfit is ideally positioned to enable UK resellers to become successful in this exciting new technology space.

Data Solutions recently teamed up with Nutanix, vendor of hyper converged infrastructure. Michael O’Hara, group managing director, Data Solutions says the firm will enable resellers “to take advantage of the opportunities with this fast-growing technology and bolstering our UK presence with Nutanix.”

Data Solutions has also signed deals with CommVault, Arista and Supermicro in Ireland.


Oracle predicts explosion of born-in-the-cloud partners

oracleOracle has claimed that the launch of its new Cloud Programme will see an “explosion” of born-in-the-cloud partners coming to the firm.

Dubbed the Oracle PartnerNetwork (OPN), the programme has launched yesterday and is Oracle’s first cloud-focused partner scheme.

There are four accreditations: Cloud Standard, Cloud Select, Cloud Premier and Cloud Elite.

Cloud Standard requires partners to have a certain cloud specialisation and the benefits are focused on moving these partners to the next level, Cloud Select.

Cloud Select has a $2m cloud-revenue requirement and partners have to designate sales and marketing resources. The benefits of this level include MDF funds, Oracle’s cloud discounts and more visibility at Oracle cloud events.

The Cloud Premier level has a $6m cloud-revenue requirement and partners must have hired number of certified cloud specialists. The benefits include dedicated account managers, sales training and enhanced partner visibility.

The Cloud Elite has a $20m cloud-revenue requirement and for the Global Cloud Elite level this rises to $40m. The benefits include increased go-to-market support with free cloud environments for development tests and demos.

Oracle hopes the programme would help migrate existing partners and attract new types of channel players. It thinks that it opens the partner programme up to the regional “born-in-the-cloud digital natives” that have ruled out Oracle because it did not really fit into their structure.

These cloud resellers are often focused on the mid-market which is not an area Oracle has been involved. Oracle’s not having a cloud programme. But with the OPN programme, and Oracle’s drive into the mid-market, he expects to see a flurry of this new type of partner coming to the vendor.
Oracle has more than 800 UK partners and when asked how many more resellers it wants to recruit more with its new OPN programme.

IP PBX and unified comms market – here’s Microsoft!

maxresdefaultBeancounters at IDC claim that Microsoft has become a “head-to-head competitor” in the IP PBX and unified comms (UC) space.

Apparently Vole is taking advantage of the fact that traditional players’ have had a slow reaction to changing adoption patterns.

In the first quarter of 2011 and the second quarter of 2015, Microsoft tripled its market share from 4.8 percent to 15.5 percent in EMEA. This made it a “head-to-head competitor “with Alcatel-Lucent, Avaya, Cisco, Aastra and Unify which have been the kings of the space for years.

With more than 15 per cent market share, Microsoft has become the fourth-largest player, IDC said.

IDC’s report said: “This is not a random rise of a vendor/ The companies that had dominated the EMEA IP PBX and UC platform market come from equipment- and on-premise-focused backgrounds. They were too slow to react to the rapidly changing adoption patterns in the market, and Microsoft seized the opportunity.”

Microsoft changes Enterprise Agreement volume licensing deals

Microsoft campusSoftware King of the World Microsoft’s cunning plan to develop ‘one volume licence agreement to rule them’ starts with a new change to its Enterprise Agreement minimums, takes effect July 1, 2016.

The move is to try and simplify Vole’s Byzantine style licensing. According to what Vole is telling resellers, on July 1, 2016 business users who want to go the Enterprise Agreement approach will face a minimum requirement of 500 users or devices, rather than the current 250.

Those who want fewer than 500 devices/users will be steered to the Microsoft Product and Services Agreement (MPSA) and Cloud Solutions Provider (CSP) programmes.

The MPSA software/services licence appeared in 2014 and CSP shortly thereafter. Microsoft currently trying to kill off its Select Plus volume license agreement.

Microsoft wants customers to be able to manage their various licensing agreements with the company so that it feels like they only have one.

Vole says that it does not want anyone to have to buy something they don’t need and it wants to have one place where customers could see all their purchases.

Microsoft’s ultimate goal is to get all customers to use MPSA and CSP for their licensing.

Microsoft has seen the composition of its business-customer licensing deals shifting. In fiscal 2015, more than half were for online services only, with no enterprise-wide coverage requirement,

Worldwide Licensing and Pricing. MPSA and CSP are more suited toward addressing these kinds of scenarios, he said.

Moyse exits Rackspace after 10 months

ian-moyseChannel veteran Ian Moyse has walked out of his job at Rackspace after 10 months.

Moyse was senior sales manager at Rackspace apparently cleaned out his desk a couple of weeks ago.  No official reason has been given, and the only coincidence is that he just joined the board of the Federation Against Software Theft (FAST) in a personal capacity.  No reason that this would make a difference of course.

Before joining Rackspace, Moyse was sales director at for three years and before that he was Webroot’s EMEA channel director for five years.

Moyse was named as one of LinkedIn’s top-10 “Power Profile” for technology alongside Sage CEO Stephen Kelly and former Apprentice candidate Lauren Riley.

No one is saying anything at the moment and we only have LinkedIn to go on.

Social networking marketing might be illegal

thumb-mark-zuckerberg-facebook-pro-4566Using social media
to market products might end up being illegal, according to a German court.

The German courts have looked dimly on a  feature that encourages Amazon customers to share links to products of the online shop with their contacts. The Amazon “share” feature invites customers to share a product via e-mail, Facebook, Twitter or Pintrest and really it could be part of any consumer marketing operation.

The court said that sharing by e-mail without approval of the recipient was illegal. It is “unsolicited advertising and unreasonable harassment,” the regional court in Hamm said, confirming the ruling of a lower court in Arnsberg.

The case was brought against one of Amazon’s resellers by a competitor.

The ruling comes after Germany’s highest court ruled earlier this month that a similar feature that encourages Facebook users to market the social media network to their contacts as unlawful.

At the time, the Federation of German Consumer Organisations (VZBV), which brought the Facebook case to court, had said the ruling would have implications for other services in Germany which use similar forms of advertising.

Insight scores Anglesey contract

angl_holyheadInsight has won a key contract on the Isle of Anglesey in Wales as the cash strapped council looks to save up to £5.6m

The council wanted to use mobile working as a solution to promote a more agile and modern workforce while at the same time reducing the council’s property assets.

The council’s ICT budget has been low over the last few years because of general low funding from the Welsh Government and this year it was told that it would have to make  service cuts of up to £5.6m.

However the council worked out that a smart investment in ICT would enable “smarter working” and could result in gains from both a financial and non-financial perspective in other areas.

The council will save £140,000 following an engagement with reseller Insight to streamline the council’s software licensing estate.

The project with Insight, which used Snow as a software management tool, has since led to an ongoing contract with Insight to manage the council’s Microsoft licensing estate saving the council money through the redeployment of unused licences.

The Insight contract, worth £33,600 over the next three years, will provide complete visibility of the council’s deployed software licences, while assuming responsibility for ensuring that Anglesey maintains licensing compliance. Insight will also implement a three-year Licence Consulting Desk Service to build and adapt solid, cost effective licensing strategies for the council to help it meet its current, but most importantly, future technology needs.

Discussing the engagement and the council’s broader ICT strategy, Neil Summers, the council’s technical services manager, said he had engaged Insight because he realised that keeping on top of licensing compliance can be a headache for cash-strapped councils who are wrestling with the demands of austerity.

“Software licensing is an area which is full of complicated, fast-changing rules,” said Summers. “Insight had proved itself a valuable partner, and we realised that to ensure we were compliant and cost-effective we needed an expert to help us – which is where Insight came in. Our work with them ensures we are compliant to our software providers and efficient as a local authority.”

Security vendor sued for poor security

courtroom_1_lgSecurity resellers will be a bit nervous about the outcome of a court case in the US where an anti-virus software maker has been sued after a casino became infected with malware.

If the case against Trustwave succeeds it could mean that security companies could be sued if they fail to stop serious breaches.

US casino chain Affinity Games is suing Trustwave, a cyber-security vendor that was brought in to investigate a card breach but failed to detect and stop a malware incident on Affinity’s servers, which led to the escalation of a previous card breach.

In October 2013 Affinity Games was notified of fraudulent credit card activity on the bank accounts of numerous victims and it hired Trustwave to sort out what was believed to be malware on its system.

Trustwave was hired to investigate and stop a credit card breach. In January 13, 2014, Trustwave reassured the casino chain that the incident “has been contained” and that a “backdoor component appears to exist within the code base, but was inert.”

Trustwave also said that the malware’s author became aware that he was detected, and stopped all activity on October 16, 2013, also removing and deactivating some of the malware’s components.

In April 2014 the server and the application from where the suspicious activity was coming were previously tested and deemed safe in Trustwave’s report.

On April 19, 2014, Affinity hired another cyber-security investigator, Mandiant, a FireEye subsidiary, to investigate these new findings in depth. It found that the breach thought shut down by Trustwave had continued to be open until April 27, 2014, when Mandiant security experts shut it down.

Affinity says that Trustwave failed to remove the malware it discovered, failed to find all pieces of the malware, and also failed to identify evidence in some logs it looked at.

In its lawsuit, Affinity claims that “Mandiant’s investigation and remediation confirmed that Trustwave’s representations were clearly inaccurate, and its efforts woefully lacking.”

Affinity is looking for damages in excess of $100,000.

Industry hit by aging workforce

skillsA new report says that the industry is to face a huge skills shortage because nearly half of all techies plan early retirement.

The report by recruitment firm Randstad Technologies said there will be a mass skills exit in 2020 as a large proportion of senior talent or baby boomers leave the workforce to retire.

More than 80 per cent of tech workers feel under pressure to retire at state pension age and nearly half (49 per cent) plan to retire early.

The number of people in the workforce aged 50 to state pension age will be 13.8 million by 2022, and the number aged 16 to 49 will have reduced by 700,000.

Randstad claims that the exit of these older workers will worsen the current skills shortage. Most of the older workers (78 per cent) said they felt they wouldn’t be wanted in the workforce when older, and 12 per cent were concerned about age discrimination in their sector.

According to Randstad, technology specialists feel age pressure more than most, with 83 per cent claiming they felt this stress, compared with 75 per cent of other workers in the UK.

More than 36 percent said the pressure was significant, and just 14 per cent said they felt no pressure.

Ruth Jacobs, managing director of Randstad Technologies, said: “The tech industry is facing an expansive experience exodus. The early retirement of the baby boomer generation could lead to a serious skill shortage in the sector. This generation helped build the technology sector in the 1980s. Companies need this experience if the sector is going to continue to expand. There is already fierce fighting for talent as it is, and early retirements will make it even harder to find the right people for the right jobs.”

It is possible to fix the problem. Randstad said that flexible working hours for older workers would help keep them in positions longer, an option 43 per cent of those surveyed agreed with, as would changing their roles to act more like mentors to junior staff, thus sharing their skills and experience. In total, 41 per cent of respondents agreed with mentoring as an option.
Introducing retraining schemes for older workers so they can keep up with the latest technology was also a popular suggestion, with 34 per cent opting for that as a solution.

Jacobs added: “To avoid the impending tech talent shortage, employers need to make sure that their company’s working hours fit with the demands placed on more senior staff. Having the option to work around other responsibilities such as caring for a loved one or treating any health issues would be a big benefit to older workers. As an increasing amount of work in the tech sector can now be done via the cloud, these changes should be easier to introduce. While some tech firms may already have some form of flexible working, it’s important to make sure older workers know these schemes are available.

Cisco releases new tool in cloudy push

Cisco Kid Desperate to provide a better cloud package, Cisco has released a new monitoring tool.

On the face of it Cloud Consumption as a Service, which monitors how employees use third-party software is a bit of a yawn, however it could make Cisco a little more useful to its partners who can flog it on the basis that it will solve a lot of complicated regulations around the privacy of data.

It  helps companies manage software employees might download and use independently, for example email programs like Google’s Gmail or file-storage services like Dropbox.

While the services, which IT professionals dub “shadow IT,” provide convenience for employees, they can create headaches if they expose vulnerability to malware attacks, eat up bandwidth, or fail to comply with laws.

Shadow IT is creating a growing corporate challenge. Most companies with over 5,000 employees estimate around 90 such services are deployed around their computer infrastructure, but the actual number is typically over 1,200, according to Cisco executive Bob Dimicco.

Of those, more than 40 fall in the high-risk category.

Cisco plans to bill monthly at a cost of $1-$2 per employee, will help Cisco expand its offerings in the fast-growing business area of cloud services.

Cisco  has been trying to beef up its offerings catering to the increasingly Internet-based technology culture at many companies. It has introduced products like Cisco Meraki, which controls routing and security over the Internet, and Cisco WebEx, which offers Internet-based video conferencing and similar products.

Many companies, including Cloudability, Netskope and Skyhigh, offer services similar to Cisco’s cloud consumption service, but Cisco says its product goes beyond the others because it offers more details on usage and about each individual third-party app provider, such as if it complies with relevant regulations.



Lexmark mulls cutting itself in two

steven-ho-conan-watermelon-360x240Long time printer maker Lexmark is considering the possibility of hacking itself in two.

The outfit wants to divesting its hardware and software assets separately to revive interest in its sale process.

Lexmark held discussions with several potential buyers about the sale of the entire company but it didn’t seem that anyone was particularly interested.

Reuters now claims that private equity firms are now having conversations with Lexmark about acquiring either its hardware or software assets. The company has yet to make any decision on a way forward, the people added.

Officially Lexmark is saying nothing.

“Lexmark does not intend to comment on the exploration process or disclose further developments until the board approves a specific transaction or otherwise concludes the exploration of strategic alternatives,” the company said in a statement.

However Lexmark, which has a $1.74 billion market capitalization, announced in October that it was exploring strategic alternatives, including a sale, and had hired Goldman Sachs Group as an adviser.

Lexmark has sought to diversify and aggressively bought up software assets to bulk up its services catering to business customers. Last year it bought Kofax Ltd for about $1 billion, a company which provides data services to financial, insurance and healthcare companies.

It also said the deal would double the size of its enterprise software unit to a $700 million business.

Lexmark’s software can scan everything from spreadsheets to medical images. It has customers in banking, healthcare, insurance and retail companies. Its software business has a higher growth rate but it represents a small portion of revenue compared to the hardware business.


Spirent gets deal with red One

CS8_Mobile_Device_Tester_RightUK-based Spirent Communications  has announced its first MVNO contract in Asia, with Malaysian virtual operator red ONE.

Spirent is a multinational telecommunications testing company headquartered in Crawley, West Sussex, in the United Kingdom.  It makes verification, assessment, analytics and device intelligence systems.

A spokesSprent said that red One had signed a contract for the firm’s mobile device intelligence unit Tweakker.

Spirent said that the contract will enable red ONE to embed Tweakker ‘self-care smartphone Device Guides’ on its website with a link to Tweakker’s cloud. This will have the aim of minimising the time it takes when on-boarding new subscribers if they experience difficulties in getting online.

Red One was started in 2012 and built its customer base to one million in just under three years. With plans to open more retail outlets across the country and wants to double its customer base by end-2016 through ambitious customer acquisition campaigns.



Oracle adds auto-update

oracleOracle has announced the release and general availability of the Unbreakable Enterprise Kernel (UEK) 4 for the Oracle Linux operating system.

The move is an important selling point for Oracle partners because they can pitch performance improvements and enhancements for some essential components.

Real-time kernel patching was one of the most requested features by Oracle Linux customers and is  possible thanks to the Ksplice open-source extension of the Linux kernel 4 branch,. This lets users apply patches to the running kernel without the need to reboot the system, thus improving security and simplifying the management of cloud infrastructures.

Unbreakable Enterprise Kernel Release 4 is now available for the Oracle Enterprise Linux 6 and Oracle Enterprise Linux 7 series of operating systems based on Red Hat’s RHEL (Red Hat Enterprise Linux) OS.

“The Oracle Linux team is pleased to announce the general availability of the Unbreakable Enterprise Kernel (UEK) Release 4 for Oracle Linux 6 and Oracle Linux 7. This release, based on the 4.1 mainline kernel, delivers many important new features and enhancements engineered for modern cloud infrastructure,” said Michele Casey.

The update includes CPU schedulers and Automatic NUMA Balancing, along with powerful new features, such as real-time kernel patching.

Oracle boosted the security of its Oracle Enterprise Linux systems, as well as to the hosted apps, by implementing features like a new random number system call, kernel address space randomization, and updates for the SELinux, SHA512, SHA256, and nftables programs.

There are also new real-time kernel features like timerless (tickless) multitasking and deadline scheduling class, support for Firefly-based Ceph Storage for Oracle Linux Release 1.0, Oracle Linux DTrace improvements, and better InfiniBand support. Moreover, there are updates to the Btrfs, EXT4, XFS, NFS, FUSE and OverlafFS filesystem, as well as updated drivers to support new hardware.

EMC UK bigwig defects to Pure Storage

swimming-ratIt seems that not all are happy with what is happening at EMC now that Dell is fairly certain to get his paws on the company.

Gary Matson began working at EMC in October as district manager after joining from Arrow.  Now he has left the company after four months to lead Pure Storage’s UK and Ireland (UKI) channel.

His new job  is as a sales professional with Distribution, Vendor, SI, and ISV experience  working with partners to deliver IT solutions.

Neither Pure Storage nor EMC were immediately available to confirm the move or comment, but Matson updated his LinkedIn profile this week.

For those who came in late,  Pure Storage and EMC are rivals and there is much bad blood between them. A number of EMC staff have defected to Pure Storage over the past year or so.

In fact his this time last year, EMC’s former UK boss James Petter cleaned out his desk and headed over to Pure Storage . EMC’s chief marketing officer Jonathan Martin left the company to take on the same job at Pure Storage.

Pure Storage is big on the channel. In a recent 10-Q filing published last month. It promised to continue to invest in the channel programme and boost its global channel network.  To be fair, so is Dell and EMC, but it is unclear why EMC is losing its talent to such a smaller outfit.

Oracle user groups back licensing policy

oracleWhile Oracle has been blasted by the Campaign for Clear Licensing for its Byzantine approach, two Oracle user groups have backed it.

Earlier this week CCL called for the supplier to make its software licensing more cloud friendly and slammed Oracle’s approach to measuring successful software licence sales.

John Matelski,  president of the Independent Oracle Users Group, noted in a blog: “I was extremely surprised and dismayed to learn that there are still those in the customer community that would suggest their relationship with Oracle is predominantly hostile and filled with deep-rooted mistrust – particularly when it comes to licensing and audits.

“Oracle is not just a solutions provider, but rather they are a partner in helping promote the success (or failure) of every organisation they do business with – for me, failure is not an option!”

Debra Lilley, a member advocate and board member of the UKOUG, wrote in a blog post: “Users are very passionate when they feel wronged and immediately after an audit there can be a lot of shouting, and we hear of audits that happen in the last quarter and are then seen as revenue generating.

“The discussions need to be outside actual audits, with less emotion. Oracle License Management Services (LMS) are trying to engage more with customers. Mark Hurd recently talked about employing 10x more staff whose only role is to improve relationships with customers. This is something user groups have asked for repeatedly, so let’s give them the chance to demonstrate the payback to customers.”