Author: Nick Farrell

Datatec issues profit warning

Fire Bell

Datatec issued a profit warning this morning as its for-sale distribution arm, Westcon, has been hit hard by an SAP roll out.

The outfit warned in April that earnings per share for its fiscal 2017 would more than halve, but no one was ready for the number to be 66 percent behind the previous year.

Datatec laid the blame firmly at the door of its distribution arm Westcon, or Westcon-Comstor as it has taken to calling it since it began negotiations to sell it.

Ill effects of the SAP roll out had devalued the business in the eyes of suitors, at least in the short term.

Westcon-Comstor’s global sales fell by seven percent to $4.53 billion, the damage mostly done in EMEA, where sales plunged by $263 million to $864 million, a whopping 30 percent slump.

Datatec stated: “Europe went live on SAP during November 2016, resulting in transitional challenges and delayed financial reporting, exacerbated by the business process outsourcing in that region. Trading conditions in MEA were weak, resulting in a poor performance across the region, with additional receivables write-offs in Africa and the Middle East.”

Datatec’s other main arm, integrator Logicalis, performed in line with expectations for the year, Datatec added.

Datatec gave no update on the possible sale involving Westcon-Comstor, other than to repeat that there can be no certainty that the transaction it is negotiating will be completed.

BT fires staff and takes CEO’s bonus away

Kitten-KongBT is axing 4,000 jobs and has stripped its CEO of his bonus after what it has called a “challenging year”.

The company had an annus horribilis thanks to a £245 million charge relating to an accounting stuff up at its Italian operation and a £42 million fine from Ofcom for regulatory breaches at its Openreach arm.

All this happened as the UK public sector and international markets all suffered. The company profit slumped 19 percent. Reported revenues rose 27 percent to £24.06 billion, but this was only because it bought EE. If that was taken out of the math, sales fell 0.2 percent.

BT’s Remuneration Committee have opted not to dish out a bonus to its CEO Gavin Pattison, meaning his total pay packet has was cut from £5.28 million to £1.34 million this year. Poor Gavin.

At least he will still have a job. More than 4,000 staff in Global Services, as well as its Technology, Services and Operations divisoin and Group Functions, are being told to clean out their desks and exit the building. BT says this is to offset “market and regulatory pressures and support investment”.

Patterson admitted it had been a “challenging year”, adding that BT is taking the Ofcom and Italian issues “extremely seriously”.

“Learning from the challenges of this year will make BT a stronger outfit for the future,” he said.

F-Secure buys Digital Assurance

2_180923-2130x2708F-Secure has written a cheque for the security consultancy Digital Assurance to get its products in front of more Brits.

This is the second consultancy it has acquired in the space of three months as the vendor takes steps to bolster its position in the market.

Digital Assurance has been providing security assessment services to firms operating in the public sector, financial, retail and defence markets.

It is not clear how much F-Secure paid for the outfit. The deal will add the consultancy’s customer base and market knowledge along with the F-Secure endpoint and cyber security products.

Jens Thonke, executive vice president of F-Secure’s cyber security services said:

“Digital Assurance has a deep understanding of cyber security, and delivers a broad range of security testing, consultancy and training services to organisations in both the private and public sectors. This acquisition will help F-Secure grow our successful service business to meet the ever-increasing demand for cyber security services.”

Digital Assurance founder and managing director Greg Jones said: “Over the past decade, we have built one of the UK’s leading security consultancies and worked together with many customers delivering leading edge security assessments.”

This is the second similar deal F-Secure has done this year. F-Secure wrote a cheque to vertical player Inverse Path, another consultancy that had a formidable reputation in the security service space.

Carbon Black poaches channel bloke from HPE

milesripponclearswift-370x229Miles Rippon has been named as Carbon Black’s EMEA channel director and has been ordered to sort out the outfit ‘s European channel business following its strategic distribution agreement with Arrow.

Apparently, Rippon will be building up Carbon Black’s relationships with channel partners, expanding its reach and increasing enterprise sales through the region. To do this he will have to push Arrow and Carbon Black’s joint offerings in cyber security.
In a statement, Rippon pointed out that traditional AV products were going no-where because they could not deliver the improvements needed to protect organisations against modern threats.

While there is a huge demand from customers for a leading NGAV solution, by combining Cb Defense with Arrow’s vast network, Carbon Black is greatly increasing its global footprint, providing high margins for resellers and continuing to stay at the cutting edge keeping businesses protected from cyberattacks, he said.

There is a huge opportunity for Carbon Black to work with its channel partners to grow its market share this year and Rippon said was happy to be behind the wheel.

Rippon joins Carbon Black from HPE’s enterprise security products division, where he served as EMEA channel and alliance director. Prior to that, he has held roles as VP of global channels for Clearswift and VP of EMEA channels for RSA Security.

Mark Reeves, VP for EMEA sales at Carbon Black, said: “Miles is an EMEA channel expert with extensive experience and hands-on sales territory and sales management skills. He has maintained strong sales performance records in developed and emerging territories. With the recent launch of our streaming prevention technology and the appointment of Arrow, we are now well set up to service the channel and build momentum in the market.”

UKCloud wants to get into healthcare

market_street_thumbG-Cloud supplier, UKCloud wants to push into the cloud-hating healthcare market.

The outfit has opened a new division which will deliver a “sovereign, secure and open” platform to NHS bodies and the wider healthcare sector.

Dubbed UKCloud, Health the new division will learn from UKCloud’s government experience. The outfit saw a 37 per cent share of Infrastructure-as-a-Service spend through the G-Cloud public sector framework.

CEO Simon Hansford said that cloud adoption in government stands at eight per cent, compared with two per cent adoption in healthcare.

He said that the market is ripe, and when they see that there is a sovereign, secure and open platform they will go for it.  He said the situation was similar when UKCloud launched six years ago.

It built a platform at its own cost and risk, and stood it up, and believed customers would come to us.

The new UKCloud Health platform is a replica of its existing platform and would encompass “tens of thousands of VMs and petabytes of storage”. It will run on the same physical datacentres, but it’s a segregated platform.

One important aspect of the platform is that it allows healthcare bodies, pharmaceutical companies and regulatory bodies to share data sets with each other and partners in the supply chain, where appropriate, Hansford explained.

Hansford said that UKFast is price neutral, and in the majority of cases cheaper, than AWS and Azure across the whole basket of storage and compute.

He also claimed the US hyperscalers’ recent investments in UK datacentres were “tiny” and that their data residency claims were no more than ‘FUD’.

Hansford pointed out that last week, Azure ran out of storage capacity in the UK, so moved customers over to the Netherlands. Amazon has also run out of a compute platform in the UK and moved over to Ireland.

The big outfits had made tiny investments in the UK to win hearts and minds and they don’t give data residency, let alone data sovereignty.

Dell claims client computing is still its core

michael-dell-2At the inaugural Dell EMC World event in Las Vegas this week, Dell pledged that client computing “remains core to our business” and said that the PC will be back with augmented reality, subscription payment models, and wireless charging.

Dell Technologies chief marketing officer Jeremy Burton said that the PC will evolve in the coming years, as well as some of the technology the vendor is ready to bring to market now.

He showed off the Latitude 7285, which Dell claims is the world’s first wireless-charging two-in-one laptop and the Canvas, a 27-inch monitor pitched at the design industry. The latter involves a stylus, for drawing, and a ‘totem’ dial-style tool for cursor control. He said:

“The PC is smack bang in the centre of what is going on in the world Augmented reality and virtual reality are technologies that are now at the tipping point. This will be a $45bn [annual] hardware market, and a $35bn software market by 2025.”

Dell is also looking to forge partnerships with other AR and VR players, and is launching a partner programme through which to formalise ties with industry specialists.

“We want to work with a broad ecosystem to make this a reality,” said Burton.

Michael Dell showed off VMware’s AirWatch enterprise mobility management which has been embedded into some of its client computing devices he also revealed that the vendor’s PC-as-a-service offering will be available across the world during 2017.

“We are announcing the global rollout of our PC-as-a-service, which combines the latest Dell PCs with financing services and support for a single predictable price per month,” he said.
Dell added: “To make it extremely clear: the PC remains core to our business and strategy – it is how work gets done.”

Ironscales needs security resellers

0941dac383f60a9f815aeac28fead1e3Email phishing remediation outfit Ironscales is looking for security resellers to roll out its goods in the UK

Ironscales was founded in 2013 by CEO Eyal Benishti to provide and intelligence capabilities on phishing emails.

He said that there were only two major email security solutions. The first is the more traditional gateway or filter that sits on the network or the cloud, with the emails going through and trying to decide if they should be let through or not.

While these are good at filtering out spam or known attacks, but it’s at least a couple of hours before they can spot new attacks. The other technique involves training which stops around 80 per cent of attacks.

Ironscales works on the idea that you use machine learning and human interaction. The machine learning aspect of the software quarantines malicious content, but it will also learn from the use commands.

It operates both on end-point devices – in the form of a plug-in for the likes of Microsoft Outlook and Gmail – and also on the perimeter or in the cloud.

The company launched into the UK two months ago and now has two employees, with more set to follow soon to increase its sales and presales presence. The vendor has four UK channel partners, but wants more managed security service providers.

It signed a deal with Check Point, which sees the vendor support Ironscales’ sandbox solution, which Benishti said provides a strong proposition for current Check Point partners to bolt on Ironscales’ products.

However, the company wants channel partners that have no anti-phishing solution and those who want to replace a traditional solution like email filtering.
A channel programme is expected to be launched in the coming months along with moves into mainland Europe with an initial focus on the Nordics.

British companies waste £37 billion on failed Agile IT projects

contortionist-1-e1426130003119UK business will waste £37 billion on failed Agile IT projects in the next year, according to a new report from independent IT consultancy 6point6.

6point6 commissioned a survey of 300 CIOs in the UK and the US to examine their experiences of Agile and measure how successfully the principles of Agile are being applied and executed.

The results were shown at the CIO Insight Summit in Frankfurt today in a major new report with the catchy title “An Agile Agenda: How CIOs Can Navigate the Post-Agile Era.”

Chris Porter, CTO and co-founder of 6point6 and one of the authors of the report said: “Agile IT in the UK is facing a hidden crisis – 12 percent of Agile projects are failing completely.

CIOs tell us they expect to undertake six agile projects next year, one in eight of which will fail completely. Given there are about 6,000 CIOs in the UK and that the average Agile IT projects costs £8 million, that is a huge amount of waste. The truth is that, despite the hype, Agile development doesn’t always work in practice.”

The research also uncovered that over half of CIOs regard Agile development as “discredited” while three-quarters are no longer prepared to defend it. Three quarters of CIOs think Agile IT has now become an industry while half say they now think of Agile as “an IT fad”.

Chris Porter said: “This is a conservative estimate. We have only looked at Agile IT projects that fail completely. This does not include the waste involved in Agile projects that fail only partially. UK and US CIOs now estimate that a third of Agile projects fail. The failure to apply Agile effectively is a huge problem for the UK.”

It said that 32 per cent of Agile projects that fail, do so because teams are geographically scattered. As Agile is increasingly being used at scale, organisations have been forced to look across local, regional, and international boundaries to find the talent they need in the quantity they require. Agile favours co-location of teams and business people but this is increasingly a luxury so organisations must develop ways to successfully overcome this limitation, which will involve more process, communication, governance, and management.

6point6’s research showed 95 per cent of CIOs have worked in a scaled Agile environment involving multiple teams working on multiple projects concurrently. But Agile does not offer a means to scale up or out. Instead, organisations must either set up their own scaled Agile method or embrace an existing one.

The report revealed 44 per cent of Agile IT projects that fail, do so because of a failure to produce enough documentation. Agile teams cannot service a piece of software indefinitely. At some point, it will have to be handed over to others to run it and they will need a set of instructions that simply cannot be written at the end of a project. Be ready with up-to-date architecture, designs other mechanisms such as wikis, automated tests, dynamically generated documentation, and Clean Code.

6point6’s research demonstrated that the average life expectancy of a CIO is just 14 months which is not long enough to affect the cultural change and ensure the ongoing boardroom support required to nurture success in an Agile environment.

CEOs must empower and support their technology leaders if they want to succeed in the digital economy, the report said.

The survey found that 34 per cent of failed Agile projects failed because of a lack of upfront and ongoing planning. Planning is a casualty of today’s interpretation of the Agile Manifesto, which can cause Agile teams to lose their way and their customers to lose visibility of what they are getting for their money, now and in the future.

Agile teams require more Architects. From defining strategy, to championing technical requirements to ensuring development teams stick to the rules of the game, the role of the Architect is missed in the Agile space. It must be reintroduced.

Brother uncloisters SMB print offering

2c43014a23e409b5b0d7adaa2c8dfd58Brother UK is boosting its SMB print offering with its latest colour laser launch.

The big idea is that the new L8000 and L9000 ranges will help channel partners capitalise on a buoyant colour laser market, which has grown 28 per cent year-on-year.

The ICT services provider is introducing seven new models, which are all specifically designed to increase efficiency and improve workflow in SMBs and small corporates.

The company said that javing generated the largest sales growth last year, the L8000 and L9000 series launch cements Brother’s position as one of the leaders in the colour laser market.

Replacing the L8000 and L9000 models currently available, the five-strong L8000 range comprises two A4 printers and three multifunction devices. The L9000 series includes a higher volume A4 printer and the flagship MFC-L9570CDW, which features a fully customisable 16.5cm LCD touchscreen.

Models offer advanced paper handling, fast print speeds of up to 31 pages per minute (ppm) and scan speeds of up to 50 images per minute (ipm), as well as compatibility with mobile cloud and connectivity services such as Google Cloud print and AirPrint – all of which facilitate improvements in efficiency and workflow.

Both ranges are well suited to SMBs – as well as providing cost-effective printing, the option of added lower and tower trays means devices are scalable as businesses grow, Brother said.

Models in the L9000 series are suitable for higher volume users, with high-yield toners and print management solutions such as b-guard and PaperCut for greater control.

Hassan Masaud, Product Manager at Brother UK, said: “We’re building on our industry leading colour laser proposition with the launch of these two new ranges, helping partners to take advantage of growing revenue opportunities.

“At the moment, there’s a huge focus on the SMB market within Brother, and we’re confident these models perfectly meet the needs of small business customers.

“Businesses are increasingly looking to make workflows faster and more intuitive, to ultimately increase efficiency, and the L8000 and L9000 ranges have been designed with these priorities in mind.”

Dell in the clouds again

Michael DellGrey box shifter Michael Dell talked up the importance of a ‘multi-cloud’ world and waded in to AWS, Microsoft, and Google by claiming that, for many customers, “public cloud is twice as expensive as on-premise”.

Dell said that while all styles of cloud computing have their merits and applications, customers should not relytoo heavily on any one model, – particularly public cloud.

“If you have a public cloud-first and -only strategy, you will find yourself uncompetitive in the long term. On-premise offers automation capabilities on an unprecedented scale. Many customers have already told us that the public cloud is twice as expensive as on-premise,” he said.

David Goulden, president of Dell EMC, added that Dell’s cloud offering addresses not only generalist productivity and business applications, but also core applications that many enterprises would not typically consider suitable for the cloud arena.

“Most clouds target the millions of general-purpose applications,” he said. “Our cloud strategy targets those, but also targets performance-intensive, mission-critical applications that most customers would not [otherwise] consider running on a cloud or as-a-service basis. We, uniquely, have a hybrid cloud strategy for all your applications.”

Dell EMC is adding its 14th generation of its PowerEdge range of servers this summer and the new VMAX 950F all-flash storage array.

The vendor also boosted its VxRail suite of hyper-converged technology, including the launch of a single-processor unit which allows businesses to invest in hyper-converged infrastructure for a capital investment as low as $25,000.

Dell Financial Services is to a launch a payment offering for hyper-converged infrastructure providing customers with the option of “cloud-like consumption” of the technology.

VMware falls out with Tanium

Divorce Just Ahead SignVMware has ended its OEM relationship with the security start-up Tanium in what is turning out as an annus horribilis for the security outfit.

Both VMware and Tanium confirmed the end of the OEM relationship with their various spinners saying that the decision was mutual.

The ending appears due to conflicts related to the Tanium OEM deal payment structure and to challenges in supporting Tanium’s tricky tech. Tanium has removed VMware from its list of technology partners on its website.

VMware said the two will continue to work together in some capacity to service joint customers.

The couple have been together since June 2016 and VMware created a new offering called VMware TrustPoint. It was supposed to allow an IT administrator to monitor, discover and manage threats and vulnerabilities, and to manage end point updates and OS migrations.

It was targeted at securing endpoints and easing Windows 10 desktop migration projects.

During the honeymoon period VMware Executive Vice President and General Manager of End User Computing Sanjay Poonen praised Tanium’s “highly innovative” approach to end point management and security.

Tanium’s proprietary peer-to-peer technology lets organisations continually scan all endpoints in their global networks, finding and fixing security vulnerabilities and identifying and controlling unmanaged devices.

In fact at one point the companies were close to merging. Acquisition talks took place in late 2015. Sources said at the time that Tanium’s high valuation, combined with Dell’s $67 billion bid in October to acquire VMware parent EMC, prevented the acquisition talks from progressing further.

Tanium has had a pretty terrible year. The outfit has been hit by multiple reports of a troubled company culture. The company was slammed for exposing a client’s private network information without permission in demos. Tanium CEO Orion Hindawi has apologized for both issues in a blog post.

The outfit has seen multiple top-level executive flee in recent months including the sudden exit of CFO and COO Eric Brown in March. Tanium has replaced Brown with former Dreamworks executive Fazal Merchant. Tanium has also seen the departures of its CMO and head of sales last year, and multiple VP-level channel executives.

Tanium had been considering an initial public offering.

Robots are after your job

robotsSmart machines and robots may replace skilled professionals in medicine, law and IT by 2020, warned beancounters at Gartner who are presumably seeing R2D2 cleaning out their desks as we speak.

Analyst group Gartner has predicted that by 2022, smart machines and robots could replace highly trained professionals in tasks within medicine, the law and IT. CIOs need to prepare now to ensure that their organisations are ready for the impact that AI will have over the next five or ten years.

Stephen Prentice, vice president and Gartner fellow, suggested that the economics of AI and machine learning will lead to many tasks performed by highly paid professionals today becoming ‘low-cost utilities’.

This means that all this will force an organisation to adjust its business strategy. Many competitive, high-margin industries will become more like utilities as AI turns complex work into a metred service “that the enterprise pays for, like electricity,” he said.

Prentice cited the example of lawyers, who must spend a lot of time and money on education and training.

Any organisation that hires lawyers must therefore pay salary and benefits sufficient not only to compensate each successive lawyer it hired for this training, but a sum that is commensurate with their knowledge, expertise and experience.

A smart machine that could act as a substitute for a lawyer would also require a long, expensive period of training – or ‘machine learning’ but once the first smart machine is ready, the enterprise could add as many other similar machines as it wants for little extra cost.

Employment numbers would be hit in some industries, with some routine functions at risk of replacement, such as systems administration, help desk, project management and application-support roles.

Others would see the technology as a benefit as AI takes over routine and repetitive tasks, leaving more time for the existing workforce to improve in other areas of the business. The mix of AI and human skillsets will complement each other in these roles.

Prentice said that CIOs need to develop a plan that can run alongside the company’s current digital transformation strategy. He warned that too much AI-driven automation could leave the enterprise less flexible.

“The CIO should commission the enterprise architecture team to identify which IT roles will become utilities and create a timeline for when these changes become possible. Work with HR to ensure that the organisation has a plan to mitigate any disruptions that AI will cause, such as offering training and upskilling to help operational staff to move into more-creative positions,” he said.

Dell predicts digital transformation explosion

funny-cat-running-21-desktop-wallpaperMichael Dell is so pleased with his shiny new EMC acquisition and his going private that he is predicting a digital transformation explosion in businesses.

Talking to Dell EMC World 2017 Dell said that: “This isn’t our show, this is your show. It’s about how you’re changing the world and using transformation to change your businesses. Making digital transformation happen, making it real, that’s why we created Dell Technologies, combining innovations from Dell EMC, Pivotal, RSA, Secureworks,Virtustream and VMware. This allows us to innovate like a startup with the scale of a global powerhouse.”

Michael Dell enthused about the importance of both Digital and IT transformation, not only in the technology industry but in the whole workforce.

Dell said: “We are at the beginning of an innovation explosion. CEO’s want their companies to become technology companies. You’re competing with startups who are more sophisticated at injecting new products into their platform. You need an IoT strategy, a cloud strategy and a workforce strategy. As well as security, that’s the highest priority of all.”

Beta Distribution pulls out of talks to buy rival Entatech

hqdefault (3)Beta Distribution has withdrawn from talks to buy rival Entatech after some last minute due diligence.

Beta  MD Steve Soper said information obtained during due diligence process killed off the transaction.

Beta confirmed that it had been in “detailed talks” with Entatech and its advisors about acquiring certain assets of the company.

However while the talks went on for a while, it appears some  information obtained during detailed due diligence meant Beta was unable to continue.

Industry rumours were claiming that Beta was closing in on inking a pre-pack deal to buy Entatech, which has been widely marketing itself in recent weeks because it needed a larger trade backer to deal with its credit problems.

It managed to get a reprieve last March when new management there agreed a deal with HMRC over its legacy VAT issues. But then  the outfit lost its key Fujitsu contract last summer and it was forced to put itself up for sale.

The search intensified at the end of April when RBS started to take control of the company.

Soper said that Beta would still deviate from its glorious five-year plan if the right opportunity came along.

Entatech fitted the bill, with experienced people, important supplier relationships and a well-established customer base but in the end, it wasn’t a starter.


Nutanix and HPE are not chums

9-coverHPE has made clear in no uncertain terms that it is not partners with Nutanix, after the latter opened up its Enterprise Cloud Platform software to allow users to install it on HPE ProLiant and Cisco UCS B-series servers.

Nutanix made the announcement late last week, signalling a move away from its traditional all-in-one approach.

HPE is cross at the move and issued a retaliatory blog post slamming the idea of using Nutanix software in favour of a purpose-built HPE platform.

In the post, titled “Don’t be misled… HPE and Nutanix are not partners”, the clearly irritated former maker of printer ink told customers “considering running hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) on an HPE server, you should consider the HPE HCI offerings”.

HPE’s VP of marketing, Paul Miller, said: “Landing Nutanix software on HPE hardware without any type of OEM or support agreement is going to cause real issues in the real world – in the absence of a real support agreement.”

Nutanix previously made its software available as part of a hardware all-in-one package, Nutanix said it will make it compatible with rivals’ servers so customers can choose its own offering over those from competitors like HPE and Cisco.

HPE’s Miller warned that in the case of an outage, HPE could provide immediate assistance so long as you’re running its own software, but for those customers taking on third-party offerings, it is unable to provide the same levels of service.

HPE said it is not surprised by the idea that a company would want to run its software on HPE ProLiant, it appears Nutanix has jumped the gun a little by forgetting to inform the hardware provider of its cunning plan first.

HPE’s recently bought hyperconvergence specialist SimpliVity for $650 million, a direct competitor to Nutanix so it makes sense that HPE would not be keen to have customers from turning to a competitor.

Nutanix has said its Enterprise Cloud Platform software will be available for HPE’s portfolio by the end of the year.