Author: Nick Farrell

Microsoft’s webmail crashes and burns

il_570xN.386643874_phvgMicrosoft Outlook and Hotmail users across Europe on Monday, with many unable to access their email accounts.

Users of Outlook and Hotmail reported not being able to send or receive emails for up to 12 hours. The technology giant confirmed it was suffering from connection problems.

Vole announced that it was aware of intermittent connectivity for some users in European countries and we’re working to resolve ASAP.

The company’s service health website carried a message which read: “We’ve identified that a subset of infrastructure was unable to process requests as expected, which caused general service availability to drop unexpectedly.

“We’ve redirected requests to alternate infrastructure to restore service, and we’re monitoring the environment while connectivity recovers. Additionally, we’re investigating an issue in which users are unable to send email messages.”

According to service monitoring site Downdetector.co.uk, the platform began experiencing issues at around 9am, with the UK among the worst affected areas.

“Intermittent connectivity is affecting customers in some European countries, which we are working to resolve as soon as possible,” a Microsoft spokeswoman said.

#Hotmail began trending on Twitter in the UK as social media users took to the site to vent their frustration. The issue was resolved by Monday evening. Outlook has more than 400 million active users, according to Microsoft figures.

Synergy Research sees datacentre equipment spending fall

datacenterTraditional non-cloud datacentre equipment spending has plunged by 18 percent in the last two years according to new research.

Beancounters at Synergy Research have added up some numbers and divided by their collective shoe size and worked out that datacentre spending is now dominated by cloud.

Spending on public and private cloud datacentre equipment has grown to about two thirds of the total market.

Total datacentre infrastructure equipment revenues hit $30 billion in the second quarter of 2017, with public cloud infrastructure accounting for over 30 percent of the total and private cloud or cloud-enabled infrastructure accounting for over a third.

The public cloud has grown by 35 percent and private cloud by 16 percent over the last two years, traditional non-cloud datacentre hardware and software spending has dropped by 18 percent.

Synergy said the main beneficiaries of this market shift are the Asian ODMs, which in aggregate account for the largest portion of the public cloud market, its figures show. Cisco is the leading individual vendor in the public cloud space, followed by Dell EMC and HPE.

Dell EMC leads the private cloud segment followed by HPE and Microsoft, a trio which also control the declining non-cloud datacentre market.

Synergy chief analyst John Dinsdale said: cloud service revenues continued to grow by over 40 percent per year, enterprise SaaS revenue growing by over 30 percent, and search/social networking revenues growing by over 20 percent.

“It is little wonder that this is all pulling through continued strong growth in spending on public cloud infrastructure. While some of this is essentially spend resulting from new services and applications, a lot of the increase also comes at the expense of enterprises investing in their own datacentres. One outcome is that public cloud build is enabling strong growth in ODMs and white-box solutions, so the datacentre infrastructure market is becoming ever more competitive,” he said.

CCS scraps £3 billion framework due to bidding process error

parliamentCrown Commercial Service (CCS) has scrapped a Lot on a £3 billion framework because there was an ‘error’ during the bidding process.

The eight-lot Management Consultancy framework should have seen Lots 1-3 go live in July, with Lots 4-8 slated to follow in October.

However, Lot 1 – which specifically covers business consultancy services – was delayed and did not go live with Lots 2 and 3.

CCS has said that Lot 1 will not be awarded because there had been a “construct error” which meant that the bidding process “did not adequately assess the bidders’ quality of delivery to the level required”.

The framework, initially expected to be worth between £2- £3 billion was supposed to offer a range of services to government bodies in areas including HR, education, IT and infrastructure.

A CCS spokesperson said that it was important that to offer a service that would meet all of our customers’ needs now and in the future.

“To address this, we are running a further procurement exercise with a broader scope. A new prior information notice – Management Consultancy Framework Two – has now been issued as part of our ongoing engagement with suppliers. The intention is to award this framework in 2018.”

Lots 2 and 3 of the framework have gone live as planned, with Lots 4 through to 8 set to go live in October. Suppliers already awarded a spot include Capita and Accenture. While the Management Consultancy framework is for broader business services, Lot 8 is specifically for IT and digital services.

Kaspersky’s partners back the security outfit

40153923-1-kaspersky1Kaspersky has seen a flood of support from its distributers after the US government ordered its departments to remove all of its products within 90 days.

The US government’s Department of Homeland Security (DHS) yesterday released a statement saying the use of Kaspersky products carried “information security risks” to the government.

“The Department is concerned about the ties between certain Kaspersky officials and Russian intelligence and other government agencies, and requirements under Russian law that allow Russian intelligence agencies to request or compel assistance from Kaspersky and to intercept communications transiting Russian networks”,  the statement read.

“The risk that the Russian government, whether acting on its own or in collaboration with Kaspersky, could capitalise on access provided by Kaspersky products to compromise federal information and information systems directly implicates US national security.”

DHS also claimed that Russian law allows its intelligence services to “request or compel assistance from Kaspersky and to intercept communications transiting Russian networks”.

Kaspersky has denied any connection to the Russian government since July when Bloomberg claimed to have seen emails proving the vendor had been working with the Kremlin.

Bloomberg saw emails between founder Eugene Kaspersky and senior Kaspersky staff, discussing a cybersecurity project that was in development for the Russian FSB intelligence agency.

Kaspersky said it was disappointed with the US government’s decision.

“No credible evidence has been presented publicly by anyone or any organisation as the accusations are based on false allegations and inaccurate assumptions, including claims about the impact of Russian regulations and policies on the company. Kaspersky Lab has always acknowledged that it provides appropriate products and services to governments”, Kaspersky added.

Kaspersky’s distributors agree, saying that the whole thing has the smell of anti-Russian politics rather than meaningful security problems.

Dave Stevinson, managing director at Kaspersky partner GNR, said the US’ decision is driven by political motives, rather than technological motives.

“In my opinion, this is a political issue and unfortunately for Kaspersky they’ve been used as a pawn in Trump’s game against Russia,” he said.

Resellers say that in Europe there has been no reluctance from partners or customers to continue using Kaspersky products.

One ace card that Kaspersky did was offer to share the source code with the US spooks. If there were Russian interference that would have been obvious from the code.

The fact that the US government refused to take it and yet locked them out of US markets is probably a sign that they were not really interested in security.

Alliance with Microsoft pays off for Citrix

Ominous Clouds over Dublin CityThe deal between Microsoft and Citrix to share each other’s cloud channel rosters is an alliance which appears to have paid off.

The pair struck up a partnership to encourage greater integration of the Citrix Cloud technology in the Azure universe. This was seen as being a bit tricky because the two have overlaps in products where they are in direct competition.

However it is turning out that the relationship between Citrix and Microsoft is bearing channel fruit for both vendors finding it is bringing some fresh resellers into the respective partner programmes.

The pair have been building a hybrid cloud offering has been the focus of the relationship.

As a result Citrix partners are being introduced to a Microsoft world of Azure and vice versa with the software giant’s channel getting the option to know the VDI player.

Justin Sutton-Parker, partner director at Northern Europe at Citrix, said that although there was some overlap between the two firms in their partner rosters there were still plenty of new names it was being introduced to.

“Lots of Microsoft partners are waking up to this and saying that this will help them”. he added “We are starting to see more Microsoft partners engage with us.”

Citrix has developed play books and put in place support to make life easier for Microsoft partners looking to add Citrix to their offerings. The vendor also recently hired a former Microsoft staffer to run its operations in this area.

“There are a healthy number of Azure partners that have not yet come to look at Citrix and these are new partner brands,  added Sutton-Parker.

Ellison swings handbag at Amazon again

539bd2ca2d098c463b2e2c984d423bcaOracle founder Larry Ellison has swung his mighty handbag of sarcasm at Amazon Web Services (AWS) again following the release of Oracle’s quarterly results.

Oracle saw its cloud revenue jump 51 percent this quarter, so he must have been feeling a bit smug.

Oracle’s cloud revenue rose to $1.5 billion – making up 16 per cent of the vendor’s overall quarterly revenue.

Ellison took a shot at public cloud giant AWS ahead of the launch of Oracle’s automated cloud database products. Ellison claimed these solutions will have downtime of less than 30 minutes a year.

“To achieve that level of reliability, Oracle has to automatically tune, patch, and upgrade itself, while the system is running. AWS can’t do any of this stuff”, he claimed.

“Perhaps the most interesting aspect of autonomous systems… [and] on our new self-driving database are the economics that surround total automation.

“Customers moving from Amazon’s Redshift [database product] to Oracle’s autonomous databases can expect to cut their cost in half or more and Oracle will be providing SLAs that guarantee those cost settings to customers that move.”

He would have been less smug about Oracle’s on-premises software still made up 65 percent of the overall $9.2 billion quarterly revenue.

In fact Oracle’s on-premises revenue was flat at $5.9 billion, but new software licensing was down six per cent to $996 million.

Oracle shareholders were less interested in Ellision’s anti-amazon digs as the outfit’s share price fell as much as five per cent following the results, reportedly as a result of weaker-than-expected guidance for Q2.

Ellison ruled out the possibility of acquisitions in the near future because “there is no one left to buy”.

“It’s not like, as we focus on the cloud, there are a bunch of obvious targets we can go out and buy. We’re seeing our best growth in technology that we have developed internally.”

Channel needs to share more, you buggers

toddlers-fightingHP Inc CEO Dion Weisler says that the channel must “build stronger muscles” in the “sharing” economy.

Talking to the assembled throngs at the HP Re-invent World Partner Forum in Chicago, Weisler said trends such as rapid urbanisation, a changing workforce and the accelerating pace of new stuff mean people are changing how they buy products and services. No kidding.

“The rate of change is happening at a staggering pace – the likes of which we’ve never seen before. Change equals opportunity, and there is disruptive change all around us. So how do we capture the opportunity together?”

Rapid urbanisation was important to the channel “because people and businesses are in smaller spaces with greater efficiency needs and are shifting from owning things to an on-demand, service-driven economy”.

The sharing economy, as personified by the likes of Uber and Airbnb, which provide shared access to goods and services, claiming it “is changing absolutely everything”.

“The channel and all of us need to build stronger muscles here,” he said. “It’s no longer about buying and selling boxes; it’s about improving end-user outcomes and having experience-centric solutions that provide the customer with what they want exactly when, where and how they need it.”

Whatever that means.

Weisler said businesses are at an “inflection point”, and channel partners can help vendors optimise their operations and their investments.

He added that the move from transactional to contractual is behind HP’s Device-as-a-Service offering, which saw improvements it announced during the event. Weisler said its stuff lets customers reduce costs, shift CapEx to OpEx and have the flexibility to scale as they need it.

Is that clear?

Kalura and Oregan team up on cloudy telly

Cloud TV-videomind-ooyala_1Video technology provider Kaltura, and a British technology company which specializes in Pay TV client solutions called Oregan Networks have announced a “strategic collaboration” for advancing cloud TV transformation.

The two companies have developed “a solution” that lets service providers to transform their old systems and services into hybrid cloud TV services while “protecting existing legacy investments.” The solution will allow integration of new cloud TV-based features and capabilities within legacy Set-Top-Boxes.

Oregan CEO, Mark Perry said: “Oregan’s client-side smart technology and integration services, combined with Kaltura’s modular cloud TV platform came together naturally and organically, creating a platform blueprint sought after by many operators that are aiming to evolve their current Pay TV service while prolonging the lifecycle of legacy STB deployments.”

Co-founder, President and General Manager of Media and Telecom at Kaltura,  Shay David added. helpfully: “The way viewers today are consuming TV is forcing global telecommunication firms to rework their IPTV strategy and launch transformative cloud TV services. Our ability to connect our cloud TV platform into legacy STBs not only helps save costs in the migration process but enables new services to reach their entire existing subscriber base simultaneously.”

Perry said, “With the rapid consolidation we are seeing in today’s market, a strong end-to-end offering which is credible and based on proven, widely accepted cross-ecosystem engineering standards is a winning formula, reducing the operational risks of service providers on a path towards a new generation of high-quality home entertainment.”

SMEs ignoring resellers financial packages

1-introResellers that support their customers with finance are going to find it a tough sale, according to the BDRC SME Finance Monitor.

Smaller firms are battening down the hatches in response to growing uncertainty about Brexit and the weak government.

The Monitor said that many small firms opting to reduce their exposure to external finance and focus more on self-funding.

The latest analysis of what has happened in Q2 reveals some segments of the customer base are struggling to deal with the ongoing “lack of cla around the future.

Larger SMEs remain a much better target for those resellers advising investment as they are much more likely to be prepared to seek finance to support business growth.

Shiona Davies, director at BDRC said that there had been no dramatic market changes since the referendum. However, there are signs in the first half of 2017 that larger SMEs, whilst concerned about the economic climate and political uncertainty, are looking to grow and to use finance more than before.

“For the smallest SMEs, the picture is slightly different,” she added. “Like their larger peers, many of them have made a profit and more of them are holding £10,000 or more in credit balances. These sole traders have become less likely to be planning to grow over time and less willing to borrow to grow. They would be more likely to either self-fund a new business opportunity or turn it down because of concerns over getting into debt”.

Apple’s share price falls after iPhone X launch

appleApple’s launch of a new iPhone was supposed to send its shares through the roof and pack the press with feel good press, but for some reason that has not happened this time.

Apple and those of its suppliers have taken a bit of a nose dive. Apple’s stock dropped from around $163 each to $159. The share price recovered slightly to $160.31, but it was lower than the day’s opening price of $162.61 and lower still than the 2pm EST peak of $163.54 when Apple CEO Tim Cook took to the stage.

Apples suppliers also took a hit especially Apple’s chipmakers AMS down 3.2 percent, while Dialog Semiconductor slipped 1.7 percent and STMicro fell 1.1 percent.

The Tame Apple Press was out for blood and initially blamed Apple’s suppliers because the product would be delayed. However, that idea did not work because the supply delays were due to the yields on the screen displays.

The next person to be blamed was Apple exec Craig Federighi who made an arse of himself in the demonstration of the iPhone X’s facial recognition technology, Face ID, which replaces the fingerprint scanner as a security mechanism.

“Unlocking it is as easy as looking at it and swiping up…” he said, instead unlocking an awkward wait as the device refused to open. He tried and failed a second time, before switching to a backup phone.

While this is not the sort of thing which should have caused huge problems, Cook had a tough sell on his hands anyway and it probably did not help.  Cook’s main problem is that phone did not feature any technology which could not be found elsewhere much cheaper. Even the headline edge-to-edge screen had been done before.

All this and Apple wanted to jack the price up to over $1000 because… you know it’s Apple.  Basically he is flogging a more expensive phone that does nothing new and certainly nothing Apple’s rivals cannot do for $200 cheaper.

This is probably the real reason Apple’s share price went into reverse, falling one percent after the event ended. But expectations were so high, disappointment was really the only available reaction.

VMware customers will move to subscriptions

Pat-Gelsinger-300x199VMWare CEO, Kicking Pat Gelsinger, expects some customers to buy all of their VMware products on a subscription model

Kicking Pat said that VMware is set to make more of its products available as a service and says it is anticipating some customers wanting their entire VMware purchasing done through a subscription model within three years.

Subscription models are not new at VMware – AirWatch, AppDefense and Wavefront all use it, but most revenues come from  traditional licensing.

“We’re primarily a perpetual licence business, but today about nine percent of our business is as-a-service, in the subscription business, and that portion of our business is growing about three-times faster than our overall business”, Gelsinger said.

“We expect that piece of our business to grow much more rapidly moving forward and, frankly, I expect in a year or two some of you as customers are going to tip over and say ‘that’s how I want to buy all of my products’. Today the vast majority is perpetual but clearly we expect that to become more important and we’ll have a broader set of options.

“In the next three years I expect some of you to say ‘that’s how I want to buy all of my VMware’ and we plan on having offerings in place to be able to enable that.”

Fujutsu flogs 10 million scanners globally

SCANNERS - Italian Poster 3Global shipments of Fujitsu branded document scanners have passed 10 million and the outfit has opened the champers.

Since 1983, Fujitsu branded scanners have been designed, manufactured and marketed by PFU Limited, a wholly owned subsidiary of Fujitsu.

The outfit said that achieving the leading position in the document scanner market and reaching the 10 million milestone was only possible thanks to its sales partners in more than 100 countries have played a vital role.

Of course the press release banged on about thinks like “attention to customer detail” and constantly coming out with “great quality and new “innovative products, which are what every company says it does in a press release.

For example Mike Nelson, Senior Vice President, PFU (EMEA) said: “When developing products, PFU always has a focus on users’ needs and customers’ feedback. Combined with the engineers’ creativity, this has enabled us to create winning products with unique features and build a strong market position.”

Dunno why he bothered, those are the sorts of things that a company should be doing anyway.

PFU has launched a “10M achievement” website which uses the slogan “Good quality has 10 million reasons”, which contains messages as to why customers have consistently purchased Fujitsu scanners, this website will be sharing global campaign information as well as the history of PFU’s success.

Brits want government broadband minimums

tin-can-phoneThe latest ISPreview survey of over 1,700 internet users in the United Kingdom has revealed that over three quarters of people want the Government to aim for a 30Mbps (Megabits per second) broadband Universal Service Obligation rather than the planned 10Mbps USO.

While the survey found 83 percent  of respondents support the Government’s plan to introduce a minimum national broadband speed of 10Mbps (Megabits per second) via a legally-binding Universal Service Obligation (USO), most of them  (78p percent) feel as if the minimum should have been set at the “superfast” rate of 30Mbps.

It’s widely expected that the bulk of the USO will be delivered via fixed line broadband networks (e.g. KCOM and BT), although the Government has previously hinted that Fixed Wireless and Satellite technologies could also play a role. The survey found that 60 percent of respondents supported the potential inclusion of fixed wireless networks, but approval drops to just 28 percent  for Satellite.

Mark Jackson, ISPreview.co.uk’s Founder, said: “Today around 93 per cent+ of premises in the UK are estimated to be covered by a so-called ‘superfast broadband’ network offering 24Mbps or greater of download speed and this should reach around 98 percent by around 2020. The plan to implement a new USO will thus primarily cater for those in the final two percent and should be welcomed, but the majority clearly wanted the Government to set its performance ambition far higher.”

“The delivery of a 10Mbps USO will certainly be hundreds of millions of pounds cheaper to roll-out than 30Mbps, although it’s feared that the final policy may also overlook other important aspects of service such as the need for a fast upload speed (very important for social network apps and the cloud etc.) and fast connection latency.”

“The government should also be careful about adopting quick-fix USO solutions like Satellite, which appear to lack wide public support and suffer from problems with slow peak-time performance, small or expensive data allowances and painfully slow latency.”

“On the other hand there are some extremely remote areas where Satellite may truly be the only viable option (this technology is predicted to focus on around 0.3 percent of UK premises), although this will be no good for today’s world of heavy video streaming where the average 10Mbps+ residential connection gobbles 153GB per month (Ofcom data) and rising”,  concluded Jackson.

Kicking Pat Gelsinger says he does not work for Michael Dell

Pat-Gelsinger-300x199In a comment which would be news to his boss Michael Dell, VMware CEO Kicking Pat Gelsinger says he does not work for him.

Gelsinger was playing down the influence parent company Dell has on VMware, citing recent partnerships with Dell’s competitors as proof

The relationship between the pair has become more formal since Dell acquired EMC, which owned VMware, most recently when Dell announced it would be distributing VMware products.

Speaking at VMworld Europe in Barcelona, Gelsinger stressed that VMware remained an independent company.

“I don’t work for Michael [Dell], I work for the board of directors. We remain an independent legal company with our own route to market.”

Gelsinger said that VMware’s independence is proven by the relationships it has formed with vendors that compete with Dell.

“At VMworld US when I was announcing the HP relationship, Michael Dell was in the front row. Absolutely, we’re going to partner broadly across the ecosystem, but we’re going to accelerate the business of VMware by Dell reselling and investing more around the VMware products.”

Dell was benefiting from VMware’s ecosystem – highlighting the announcement today that Dell EMC will offer its commercial customers access to VMware products in IBM’s cloud. The partnership also sees Dell EMC’s infrastructure products added to the IBM Cloud.

“Because of VMware and our partnership with IBM, today Dell announced their partnership with IBM and that is largely as a result of the work and innovation that we were doing jointly with IBM; now it’s expanded to benefit Dell as well,” he said.

“There you see the synergies playing out: not Dell helping us, but us helping Dell.

“Overall we feel very good that the relationship is going quite strongly. We’re announcing major partnerships with other companies like Lenovo, HP, Amazon that aren’t Dell partners, but also doing more with Dell.”

Mobile workplace is years off as PC is still king

old-pcs-100565082-primary.idgeWhile many in the channel are trying to get out of low-margin hardware sales, a new report shows that there is still money to be made from PCs.

Spiceworks’ has penned a report with the catchy title: “Future of the PC: Top computer brands adoption trends in the workplace” which shows that despite the popularity of smartphones and tablets, employees still use laptops and desktops as their primary work devices. Organisations aren’t planning to shift investments away from traditional PCs in the foreseeable future.

Peter Tsai, senior technology analyst at Spiceworks, said although desktop PC growth is expected to stall a bit, they’re still the primary computing device of choice in many businesses.

Among the organisations surveyed in the US, Canada and the UK, 60 percent of employees currently use desktops as their primary work device, and laptops are favored by 27 percent.

In terms of future business investments, desktop investments are expected to be relatively flat in the next 12 months, but 43 percent of businesses surveyed said they expect to increase their laptop investments. Mobile devices, such as tablets (25 percent), smartphones (16 percent) and 2-in-1s (18 percent) are expected to see about half the growth of laptops.

“Growth in laptop sales presents a strong and viable opportunity for the channel. Forty-three percent of businesses are planning to increase their investments in laptops, which is nearly double the percent of organisations that intend to spend more on tablets or smartphones,” Tsai says.

“So while there is plenty of hype around mobile devices, both desktops or laptops will continue to be omnipresent in the workplace for the foreseeable future, and it’s an opportunity the channel should not ignore.”

As such, a mobile-dominated workplace is “at least three to five years off”, Tsai said.

The research said that 25 percent of companies plan to increase their investments in Dell PCs within the next 12 months, while 17 percent and 13 percent plan to increase spending with HP Inc. and Lenovo, respectively.

Among other PC vendors, 15 percent of those surveyed plan to increase their investments in Microsoft PCs, while eight percent plan to spend more on Apple laptops and desktops.

Respondents believe Dell, HP and Lenovo produce the most reliable devices – followed by performance, security and cost. Other factors, such as manageability, user-friendliness and ease of repair are slightly less important, and innovative features and style ranked the lowest as contributing factors.