Author: Nick Farrell

McAfee’s top partners could be demoted

AAEAAQAAAAAAAAKZAAAAJGU1N2MxODU4LTY5NmUtNGQ3Yi1hZmVhLThjODQzODZiMGE0NgRecently liberated from the clutches of Intel, McAfee has announced it expects a bit more from its top-tier partners.

Global channel VP Richard Steranka has warned that McAfee’s top-tier partners will have to meet service-certification requirements by the end of the year or be demoted.

Speaking at McAfee’s MPower Cybersecurity Summit in Amsterdam, Steranka said that McAfee is implementing the new training criteria to reward partners that have invested in the firm.

The big idea is to reward VARs who are building their business around McAfee’s software, rather than solely rewarding transactional partners who hold “more than 300” security vendors in their portfolio.

“At the beginning of 2017, it was a new requirement of being a Platinum partner to have two service delivery specialists in at least three of our product areas: end-point, infrastructure, data, or security operations. There was no incentive [previously], so we created one.”

Partners have until 31 December to obtain the necessary certifications, when their place in McAfee’s partner programme will be evaluated.

The vendor has 250 Platinum partners globally, and Steranka expects this to decrease as some current Platinum partners cannot meet the new criteria.

New certifications have been added to the programme; partners are still given rebates depending on how they perform against set quarterly revenue targets.

Partners hitting 80 to 100 percent of their sales target get a two percent rebate, those achieving 100 percent to 150 percent make four percent, while those exceeding 150 percent of sales can earn an eight percent quarterly rebate.

Nokia denies Juniper deal

nokia-lumiaThe dark satanic rumour mill has manufactured a hell on earth yarn claiming that the former making of rubber boots, Nokia was about to buy network rival Juniper.

The rumour was that Nokia was readying a $16 billion offer for the California-based networking vendor.

Nokia, however, released a statement directly contradicting the report, stating: “Nokia is not currently in talks with, nor is it preparing an offer for, Juniper Networks related to an acquisition of that company.”

Wall Street had reacted favourably to the potential deal, with Juniper’s share price rocketing over 22 percent. Juniper currently has a market cap of just over $11 billion.

Juniper was saying nothing.

Nokia’s roots are in telecoms infrastructure. In 2016 it reported revenue of over €20 billion.

It is not as if Nokia does not have the previous form for expensive buyouts. Last year the firm acquired Alcatel-Lucent for $16.6 million to boost its manufacturing of mobile equipment, after offloading its mobile phone business to Microsoft in 2014.

Consumers will abandon insecure businesses

sdfgdsfgsdfgsdfgCompanies that suffer from a data breach could lose more than 70 percent of their customers, according to a new survey.

Ok, the survey was carried out by Gemalto which is a security company, but it was based on questions asked to 10,000 consumers.

Just under 70 percent of consumers feel businesses don’t take the security of customer data very seriously.

This is a little ironic because the Gemalto study found that consumers are failing to adequately secure themselves, with over half (56 percent) still using the same password for multiple online accounts.

Even when businesses offer robust security solutions, such as two-factor authentication, two fifths (41 percent) of consumers admit to not using the technology to secure social media accounts, leaving them vulnerable to data breaches.

This may be because the majority of consumers (62 percent) believe the business holding their data is mostly responsible for its security.

This is resulting in businesses being forced to take additional steps to protect consumers and enforce robust security measures, as well as educate them on the benefits of adopting these. Retailers (61 percent), banks (59 percent) and social media sites (58 percent) were found to have a lot of work to do, with these being sectors that consumers would leave if they suffered a breach.

Gemalto Identity and Data Protection CTO Jason Hart said: “Consumers are evidently happy to relinquish the responsibility of protecting their data to business, but are expecting it to be kept secure without any effort on their part.”

“In the face of upcoming data regulations such as GDPR, it’s now up to businesses to ensure they are forcing security protocols on their customers to keep data secure. It’s no longer enough to offer these solutions as an option. These protocols must be mandatory from the start – otherwise, businesses will face not only financial consequences but also potential legal action from consumers.”

Despite their behaviour, consumers’ security concerns are high, as two-thirds worry they will be victims of a data breach shortly.

Consequently, consumers now hold businesses accountable – if their data is stolen, 93 percent of consumers would take or consider taking legal action against the compromised business.

More than half believe that social media sites are one of the biggest threats to their data, with 20 percent fearful of travel sites – worryingly, 9 percent think no sites pose a risk to them.

A third of consumers trust banks the most with their data, despite them being frequent targets and victims of data breaches, with industry certified bodies (12 percent), device manufacturers (11 percent ) and the government (10 percent ) next on the list.

Hart said: “It’s astonishing that consumers are now putting their data at risk, by failing to use these measures, despite growing concerns around their security. It’s resulting in an alarming amount of breaches – 80 percent – being caused by weak or previously stolen credentials. Something has to change soon on both the business and consumer sides, or this is only going to get worse.”

Amazon plots New Year partner revamp

usa-mockingbird-heights-munsters-vampire-grandpa-magazineAmazon Web Services (AWS) is planning a New-Year revamp of its channel partner programme.

The big idea is to promise incentives for resellers which commit to specialising in its core cloud technologies.

Terry Wise, vice president of worldwide alliances, channels and ecosystems at AWS, told the assembled throngs at the AWS Partner Summit keynote at the cloud giant’s annual user and partner conference, Re:Invent, in Las Vegas, that the AWS Channel Reseller Programme will get a full rebrand in 2018.

It will be renamed the AWS Solutions Provider Programme, and will feature beefed-up benefits and support for partners, Wise said.

“What customers are telling us is they want AWS to actually recognise and incentivise a set of partners that provide more of the specialised services”, he said.

The bookseller will use a tiered incentive structure for its new-look partner programme, with resellers specialising in managed services, cloud migrations, DevOps and other areas set to reap bigger rewards.

“Further incentives and investments in partners working with us on the front end to bring net new opportunities to the AWS cloud are coming”, Wise continued.

Furthermore, resellers who go above and beyond from a customer support perspective will also have their efforts recognised via the programme, he added.

“We’re going to make changes in the support model by recognising our reseller partners (who provide a great high-quality support experience) with a different economic model, and a much more flexible way in which you can offer support to our mutual customers”,  Wise said.

“Collectively, these areas are going to give our channel partners the opportunity to substantially improve the profitability of their business.”

More details will arrive early in 2018.


Days of vendors bossing distributors about are nearly gone

hqdefaultResearch from the Global Technology Distribution Council (GTDC) suggests that the days of vendors telling distributors what to do are nearly over.

In its latest Landscape and Disruption Trends and Challenges to 2022 report, the council notes that there are greater levels of collaboration between vendors and their channel partners and many want to increase that in the future.

GTDC in EMEA general manager Peter van den Berg said that the distributor knows the vendors and works on solutions and knows how to glue them together. Distributors are in the middle with knowledge and can handle the education and training.

The GTDC research found that the majority of vendors, 60 percent, saw more of their business going through two-tier distribution in the next three to five years, with value-added players getting the bulk of that business.

Not only do vendors expect more business to go through distribution but there is an expectation that more of their product and service portfolios will also go via that level of the channel.

Performance rather than cost is one of the key considerations for those choosing to work with a distributor, and those that want to remain market leaders will need to invest in making sure they can help vendors tap into growth areas.

Distributors needed to provide digital skills and maintain speed and flexibility.

Despite all of the hype about AI, the next big thing to hit the channel is going to be IoT and distribution needs to be in a position to help integrate solutions for the SME market, the report said.

The data that distributors gain working with vendors and resellers is also going to become a useful tool with the need for more analysis of that information to not only improve the business but share back with vendors.

Government confirms G-Cloud 10 delay Commercial Service (CCS) has extended the G-Cloud 9 framework until May 2019.

It is saying that G-Cloud 9 is being extended past its May 2018 expiry date as G-10 stalled.

In a message sent to suppliers today, CCS confirmed that G-Cloud 9 will be extended for a period of “up to 12 months”, with the expiry date now set for “on or before” 21 May 2019.

The note said: “The decision to extend G-Cloud has not been taken lightly. It will allow time for CCS and GDS to deliver a revolutionary transformation to the platform to meet user needs – for suppliers and buyers both central government and wider public sector.

“Previously, we have undertaken continuous and regular refreshes for each of the individual agreements. However, this hasn’t always given us adequate time for the Digital Marketplace to be developed beyond simply the refresh of these agreements, to meet user needs.

“More time is now needed to transform the platform and make it scalable and more flexible, enabling more framework services and improved customer and supplier functionality based on what user needs have identified.”

That’s from The government’s Digital Future Twitter page, which added that G-Cloud 9 had been extended to give time to enable wider functionality improvements.

Along with G-Cloud, the Digital Outcomes and Specialist 2 framework, and Cyber Securities Services 2 framework have also been extended until 2019.

The move will allow the 70 percent of suppliers who are yet to make a sale on G-Cloud 9 a bit longer.

Millennium Business Systems is no longer

ex-parrotIT and audiovisual reseller Millennium Business Systems (MBS) has gone into administration and now must be considered to have gone the way of the dodo and the Norwegian Blue.

The Wokingham-based VAR should have been doing well. It won a place on a £800 million Welsh public sector IT framework, turned over £8 million in its year ending 31 December 2016. But its operating profits were wafer thin at just  £86,000.

MBS had been attempting to raise cash urgently by flogging excess inventory and told staff it could not pay them. Sales director James Baxter wrote on Linkedin that the firm closed its doors after 31 years in business.

The failed MBS attempt left the business “with nothing”, and Millennium had no choice but to call in the administrators after one of the big distributors issued a winding-up order.

“As expected, there is a lot going on at this point, but my main concern right now lies with our 40 personnel and their families who, in this festive period just before Christmas, find themselves without work, through absolutely no fault of their own”, Baxter wrote.

There are quite a few distributors that will feel a bit of pain from the loss.

As recently as a week ago, it was still posting on its LinkedIn page with updates on product launches from its vendor partners, including Panasonic and Sharp. As well as acting as a reseller, it was also a PC builder, having secured Local Named OEM status with Microsoft in 2014.


VR will be a bit hit in education and healthcare

Abraham-discovers-virtual-reality--128960The people of the divination division at beancounters Canalys have been shuffling their tarot decks and concluded that virtual reality headsets will be a hit in verticals such as healthcare and education.

Canalys said the emerging device category has just racked up its first million-unit quarter and shipments reached seven figures for the first time in the third quarter.

This was due to a price war among leading players such as Oculus and Sony which saw consumers start to buy.

Canalys analyst and auger Jason Low said that VR headsets are set for “strong uptake” in the business market from next year as new A-brand PC entrants supporting Microsoft’s Windows Mixed Reality platform begin to push their products through the channel.

“VR in business can be applied to many industries, such as manufacturing, healthcare and education,” said Low. “As top-tier PC vendors, including HP, Lenovo, Acer, Asus and Dell launch their own VR headsets, using their distribution channel efficiencies, one can expect a strong VR uptake in business.”

Canalys’s definition of VR excludes simple viewers, such as Samsung’s Gear VR and Google’s Daydream View. Oculus – one of three players alongside Sony and HTC which together account for 86 percent of the market according to Canalys – recently slashed the price of its Rift headsets to $399.

Barracuda hooked by Thoma Bravo

Barracuda-1Security outfit Barracuda Networks has been acquired by equity men Thoma Bravo in a deal worth $1.6 billion.

Barracuda CEO BJ Jenkins said: “We believe the proposed transaction offers an opportunity for us to accelerate our growth with our industry-leading security platform that’s purpose-built for highly distributed, diverse cloud and hybrid environments.”Thoma Bravo has an excellent history of investing in growing security businesses, and this transaction speaks to the value and strength of Barracuda’s security platform, which helps customers protect and manage their networks, applications, and data.

“We will continue Barracuda’s tradition of delivering easy-to-use, full-featured solutions that can be deployed in the way that makes sense for our customers.”

The transaction is expected to close before the end of Barracuda’s fiscal year on 28 February.

Barracuda was expected to be bought because of its relatively low share price, and because it has been bought by a private equity buyer its product portfolio will be left alone and  diluted into the portfolio of a security rival

NHS looking for a cybersecurity partner

CONurse.OriginalUKquadposterAfter the WannaCry disaster, the NHS wants a cybersecurity partner to create a security operations centre (SOC), in a deal set to be worth £20 million.

A contract notice, published by NHS Digital shows plans to select a “strategic partner” that will develop and support the SOC for three years.

In a statement, NHS Digital said the agreement would provide “enhanced monitoring of national services” and also bolster the NHS’ ethical hacking capabilities.

Dan Taylor, head of the digital security centre at NHS Digital, said: “The partnership will provide access to extra specialist resources during peak periods and enable the team which would proactively monitor the web for security threats and emerging vulnerabilities.

“It will also allow us to improve our current capabilities in ethical hacking, vulnerability testing and the forensic analysis of malicious software, and will improve our ability to anticipate future vulnerabilities while supporting health and care in remediating current known threats.

“By creating a national, near-real-time monitoring and alerting service that covers the whole health and care system, the SOC will drive economies of scale, giving health and care organisations additional intelligence and support services that they might not otherwise be able to access.”

NHS Digital will invite five or six suppliers to tender for the contract, with the deadline for suppliers to express interest set for 20 December.

NHS Digital expects to invite potential suppliers to tender on 15 January next year.

The NHS had a rough time after the network was taken down by the WannaCry virus which was blamed on the outdated and unsupported operating systems used by NHS organisations.

Symantec jumps on Amazon

amazonAnti-virus outfit Symantec has said it will move the “vast majority” of its cloud workload to Amazon Web Services (AWS).

It is making a “major operational move” to AWS, a month after moving its Norton consumer business to Vole’s Azure.

Symantec VP of cloud platform engineering Raj Patel, said: “Our cloud-first approach to engineering requires a highly scalable and reliable infrastructure that helps our team deliver faster time-to-market and ensures that security remains our top priority.

“AWS’s experience serving some of the most risk-sensitive enterprise customers was an important part of the decision to choose AWS as we execute on our enterprise integrated cyber-defence strategy.”

Symantec said the AWS platform allows it to develop new software and tools at a faster rate.

AWS VP of worldwide commercial sales Mike Clayville said: “By taking advantage of the benefits of deploying their software on AWS, Symantec has been able to accelerate its pace of innovation, gain more profound insights through their company-wide data lake, and use that knowledge to make better-informed business decisions.

“Leading ISVs worldwide are moving core business applications to AWS for greater agility and efficiency, to reduce costs, and to leverage the security, reliability, and global infrastructure we offer.”




McAfee acquires Skyhigh Networks

mcafee-antivirus-plus-screenshot.pngMcAfee is celebrating its liberation from the claws of Chipzilla by writing a cheque for Skyhigh Networks.

Skyhigh Networks is a cloud access security broker (CASB).  For those who don’t know CASB is supposed to be a hot ticket, at least according to Gartner. Oracle, Forcepoint, Cisco and Blue Coat all making CASB acquisitions.

Skyhigh CEO Rajiv Gupta will join McAfee’s leadership team, and its organisational structure will “remain intact”, according to McAfee.

McAfee CEO Chris Young said: “Skyhigh Networks had the foresight five years ago to realise that cybersecurity for cloud environments could not be an impediment to, or afterthought of, cloud adoption.

“It pioneered an entirely new product category called cloud access security broker that analysts describe as one of the fastest-growing areas of information security investments of the last five years – where Skyhigh continues to innovate and lead. Skyhigh’s leadership in cloud security, combined with McAfee’s security portfolio strength, will set the company apart in helping organisations operate freely and securely to reach their full potential.”

McAfee became an independent outfit again eight months ago after Intel span out its security assets to PE house TPG Capital.

Samsung provides smartphones to UK emergency services

fire_brigadeSamsung has inked a deal with the UK’s emergency services to provide smartphones to 250,000 police, paramedics and fire crews.

The UK Home Office is preparing to deploy an upgraded network and phones for use by police, firemen, and ambulances.

Samsung will be supplying its specially designed smartphones from 2018.

Previous disaster phones supported only voice calls, but the new phones support mobile data services, video live streaming, and come with various applications for use by trained professionals.

The company will also supply various accessories for use with the phones.

The South Korean tech giant first showed off the public safety use gear back in June 2015, which are based on public safety LTE standards.

It was last year selected as the vendor to provide South Korea with a boosted emergency services network. In February this year, it showed off live video streaming between handsets and mission control.

The business is part of Samsung’s enterprise mobile portfolio. The firm also collaborated with SK Telecom to redeploy South Korea’s first LTE-R service.

The British Home Office awarded Samsung the three-year contract, which will see the Koreans supply toughened, water-resistant 4G devices to emergency services.

These smartphones will offer both hardware and software features that will support emergency services functions and critical voice services, according to Samsung, including a “push to talk” button.


Huawei punts for Government Cloud Market

illustration: elenabsl/adobe stock

Huawei launched its latest Government Cloud Solution to Western Europe in a bid to get its foot in the door for “smart city” construction.

The solution provides a unified framework to integrate private and public clouds into an open-sourced platform. Cloud providers in Western Europe use this solution to drive city administration innovation and meet government customers’ service needs.

When connected to an Internet of Things (IoT) network, the solution is supposed to improve city operation, administration, and maintenance (OAM). With the support of Big Data technology. Huawei claims it enables real-time command, allows intelligent traffic management, and prevents public safety incidents.

Huawei’s Government Cloud Solution exchanges information between government departments and offers public services to residents. Huawei uses its unique advantages in cloud operating system kernel and hardware to provide solution performance and reliability which “open-sourced versions can never have”.

The solution decouples applications from data, permitting multiple departments to share updated data in real time. This laid a foundation for smart government applications, such as unified planning, proactive protection, real-time command, precise operation, and collaborative administration innovation.

Huawei is committed to providing innovative ICT platform for government customers and promoting the construction of service-oriented governments. Governments and government cloud service providers need stable, collaborative, innovative cloud and Big Data platforms. In the future, these platforms will gradually integrate IT technology with city operating experience.

Government clouds will not only bear government departments’ internal ICT services, but also support digital services of the whole smart city.

Government rumoured to be delaying G-Cloud 10

Ominous Clouds over Dublin CityThe dark satanic rumour mill has manufactured a hell on earth yarn which says that G-Cloud 9 will be extended by 12 months next week, with G-Cloud 10 now delayed until  May 2019.

G-Cloud 9 was supposed to end on 22 May but now the government is mulling over an extension and is expected to confirm it soon.  The question is why and it is believed that framework has suffered since Tony Singleton moved on.

The worry is that there might be “very significant” problems with G-Cloud which will leave suppliers burnt, while many expected an extension they did not expect the full 12 months.

Each time there is a new G-Cloud there are more than 700 new SME suppliers join. Suppliers cannot be added in the middle of an iteration, meaning they have to wait and apply for the next version. New products and services can not be added mid-iteration, meaning these also have to wait for the next incarnation to launch.

Another issue is that this shows that the government’s so-called commitment to technology is inconsistent and not transparent.  Some suppliers are muttering that the government claims it has an industrial strategy where tech SMEs are seen as vital, and yet the Cabinet Office and Crown Commercial Service are deciding internally whether they’re really going to do something which damages the growth of the same sector.

Delays will cause pricing issues for suppliers because prices are locked in when a G-Cloud iteration goes live and can able to be changed when a new iteration launches.