Author: Nick Farrell

Computacenter buys cloud player TeamUltra

lightning-cloudComputacenter has written a cheque for cloud player TeamUltra in a move which will strengthened its relationship with ServiceNow.

TeamUltra was a gold partner for in the ServiceNow ecosystem and now Computacenter has its 60 specialists to play with.

Computacenter has worked with TeamUltra since last year when the two firms delivered a series of projects for financial, utility and pharma customers.

Mike Norris, CEO of Computacenter, said his outfit had  announced its sales and service partnership with ServiceNow six months ago. Now it was making a strategic acquisition to enhance its commitment to the ServiceNow platform.

“The TeamUltra acquisition means that we can link ServiceNow’s cloud-based Service Management platform for ITSM, customer service management, security operations, IT operations management and more, with Computacenter’s award-winning Next Generation Service Desk (NGSD) and Digital Workplace offering, to transform the end user experience,” he added.

TeamUltra will continue to run as an independent operation and will become Computacenter’s ServiceNow delivery arm.

Mike Beale, managing director of TeamUltra, said the acquisition meant the outfit could continue its  “independent and agile” market approach with local decision making support while using its own expertise and complementary solutions portfolios.

Michael Weiss, head of group strategy and marketing at Computacenter said TeamUltra’s specialists and consultants delivering process consultancy, implementation, bespoke training, support services and integrated solutions will help sort out Computacenter’s Digital Workplace, Hybrid Cloud and Managed Security Services.

No word on how much the deal set back Computacenter.

 

Hammer takes StarWind’s gear

thor-hammer-hdValue-added distributor Hammer has taken on StarWind’s simplified software-defined storage stack, hyperconverged and storage appliances to its portfolio.

The distribution agreement is tailored for the SMB, remote office/branch office (ROBO), and low- to mid-tier of the enterprise market.

Hammer is the exclusive StarWind distributor in the UK, Ireland, Germany, Benelux, Nordics and Italy so the deal is expected to be at least Europe-wide.

StarWind is a full-stack virtualisation infrastructure, providing all the solutions required for a software-defined datacentre for primary and backup purposes.

Optimised for Microsoft Hyper-V, StarWind appliances are also VMware compatible and offer an effective way to enable customers to seamlessly move away from traditional architecture to a hyperconverged system.

SMBs have the advantage of pre-integrated Veeam licences for a clearer asynchronous backup and replication. There is a cloud-out option to give customers the ability to offload ‘cold’ data to the public cloud with ease by utilising service providers such as Amazon S3; and a free-of-charge migration service.

Gerard Marlow, General Manager for OEM & Whitebox Storage at Hammer, said: “This relationship will allow us to provide additional, complementary products to our existing customers, but will also give us the ability to engage with new resellers in the SMB and ROBO hyperconverged space that our portfolio has not enabled us to reach in the past.”

“We are thrilled to be partnering with StarWind, and look forward to a mutually beneficial partnership – one which allows Hammer to make its name as a leader in delivering hyperconvergence to the SMB / ROBO segment of the market.”

Artem Berman, COO and co-founder of StarWind, said: “StarWind and Hammer stood together at the origins of virtualisation and possess necessary resources for anticipating and forming market demand.

Oracle investigating buying Accenture

oracleThe dark satanic rumour mill has manufactured a hell on earth yarn which claims that data base maker Oracle wants to write a cheque for the government outsourcer Accenture.

The database giant has hired a team of consultants to conduct due diligence to “explore the synergies that could be created if they [Oracle] bought Accenture”.

Oracle’s money men and women are weighing up the pros and cons including the potential impact on Oracle’s wider channel.

While this sort of thing happens all the time, Oracle is rather serious about it even if it is a little bit daring. Accenture has a market cap of $77.5 billion, and shareholders will expect a premium offer so it is set to cost a bomb.

It would dwarf some of Oracle’s biggest deals so far which have included a $10 billion buy of PeopleSoft, a $7.4 billion deal for Sun Microsystems, and $9.3 billion for Netsuite.

Still it would give Oracle some rather huge government-based customers to hold by their ankles and shake until the money comes out.

Cisco partners mull over its new network operating system

Cisco Kid Cisco is planning to release a new network operating system that will allow users to run its most sophisticated networking features on older and lower-cost Cisco routers and switches.

What is interesting about the tech is that it could disrupt Cisco’s networking hardware business as it will only run on Cisco switches.

Dubbed Lindt, it will enable Cisco customers to move away from switches based on proprietary high-performance Cisco chips to Cisco hardware that works with lower-cost chips.

The move is seen as part of Cisco becoming less hardware focused and some of its partners think it is rather a good time to do that.

Cisco partners have always had the problem of linking software to the hardware so that they always had to renew the software with the product.

Having the flexibility of owning the software and having more flexibility of changing the platform underneath that makes a more likely sale.

Solution providers said Cisco selling stand-alone software could make Cisco a more valuable company in the long run.

Cisco has been putting networking functions on more platforms, including virtual switches for VMware and Microsoft Hyper-V virtualized and private cloud environments.

It has been also setting up more software-defined networking technology which removes the management layer and switching technology from physical switches to move the networking functionality into the network itself.

Crown Commercial Service slammed

westminstCrown Commercial Service (CCS) has been slammed by a government report as “the latest failure” in the Cabinet Office’s attempts to centralise procurement.

The Public Accounts Committee (PAC), which is a a government Select Committee which monitors the government’s public sector spending, has written a damning review of the CCS’s performance.

The outfit is supposed to be managing around £13 billion of spending, but is in fact only currently responsible for £2.5 billion.

Apparently, CCS’ has been a stuff up since it started in 2014 and had a “poorly” executed launch.

Labour MP Meg Hillier, who chairs the PAC, slammed CCS for its “dismal” performance over the last three years.

“Government really needs to sharpen up if this latest attempt to centralise buying is to function properly… This is a dismal showing that calls into question exactly how willing government departments are to accept the authority of the Cabinet Office in this area,” she said.

“There were clearly fundamental problems at the launch of CCS but even now it is unclear exactly how progress will be made during this Parliament and beyond. Meanwhile the taxpayer is losing out.”

The report found that CCS’ management of procurement frameworks “remains unsatisfactory”, and claimed that its current structure makes it “confusing, blurs accountability and reduces clarity of the purpose” of CCS.

The CCS has failed to renew or replace all frameworks before their final expiry dates and before all extension options were used, and claimed that its frameworks do not always offer competitive pricing.

CCS promised the committee that it had fixed its database issue since the summer and that it had improved its management of frameworks.

“However, when we asked CCS about benchmarking prices, it told us that it did not collect information on the prices on contracts and that how it really knew whether it was competitive was through ‘those call-offs and those contracts which are done underneath the frameworks’,” the report said.

BT fined for being too escargot

Cooked_snailsTop British telco BT has been fined a record £42 million by the regulator, Ofcom,  for failing to install high speed lines for businesses fast enough.

It is likely that BT will have to write out a cheque for £300 million in compensation to customers who suffered from its mega-slowness.

The company was apparently using its terms of its contracts to reduce compensation payments to other providers for failing to deliver Ethernet services on time between January 2013 and December 2014, regulator Ofcom said.

BT’s Chief Executive Gavin Patterson said the company took the matter very seriously, and had put in place measures, controls and people to prevent it happening again.

In other news, Ofcom has revealed new plans which would see consumers who experience poor service automatically compensated, in cash or credit, by their landline or broadband providers.

As part of the scheme, customers who have had to put up with delayed repairs, missed installation or engineer appointments, will be paid up to £30 in compensation, depending on the problem. According to Ofcom, six million landline and broadband customers could receive a total of around £185 million in compensatory payments each year as a result of the policy.

The regulator says every year UK repair technicians failed to show up for 250,000 repair appointments.

Accenture’s outlook below expectations

accenture-surfing-elephantConsulting and outsourcing services outfit Accenture slightly raised its full-year profit forecast, but the revised outlook was still below market expectations.

Accenture has invested heavily in its digital and cloud services, amid stiff competition from Cognizant and Biggish Blue.

Revenue in its consulting unit, which has a higher profit margin than its outsourcing business, increased 2.6 percent in the second quarter its slowest growth in more than a year.

Chief Financial Officer David Rowland told the press that he plans to write $1.5 billion cheques for acquisitions in the year ending August.

Accenture said it expects adjusted profit of $5.70 to $5.87 per share for its year ending August, slightly higher than its prior forecast of $5.64 to $5.87 per share.

However, the company narrowed its full-year revenue forecast growth range to 6 percent to 8 percent in local currency, from its earlier 5-8 percent range.

The new forecast points to revenue of between $34.86 billion to $35.51 billion.

Analysts on average are expecting a profit of $5.87 per share and revenue of $34.60 billion.

Accenture said second-quarter net revenue rose 4.7 percent to $8.32 billion, as it benefited from strong demand for its digital, cloud and security-related services, which made up more than 45 percent of revenue.

Net income attributable to Accenture fell to $838.8 million in the quarter, from $1.33 billion last year.

Profit in the year-ago quarter received help from a $553.6 million gain on the sale of some businesses.

The company’s profit in the second quarter was hurt in part by a higher tax rate and increased operating costs, up 4.3 percent to $7.62 billion.

Analysts on average had expected revenue of $8.34 billion.

More Microsoft partner consolidation happens

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Gemalto suffers from poor US sales

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

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

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

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

Microsoft and Adobe getting closer

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

IBM launches blockchain service

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Avast appoints more security partners

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

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

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

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

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

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

IMImobile signs Global Framework Agreement with Telenor

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Dell boots “rogue resellers”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

IBM scores huge outsourcing deal with Lloyds

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

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

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

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

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

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