Author: Nick Farrell

Datto sees exceptional growth

Datto which packages its IT solutions through managed service providers (MSPs), announced exceptional growth in Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA).

The outfit serves small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) through more than 3,000 MSP partners. Globally, Datto now serves more than 500,000 SMEs in over 130 countries through over 14,000 MSPs.

Datto said that its increasing investment in EMEA has created a wide-array of partner-focused employees, with product management teams and staff dedicated to building products, servicing, and supporting Datto partners. Datto continues to hire in EMEA.

Datto has recruited over 750 new MSP partners in EMEA since the start of the year, achieving over a 40 percent year-over-year increase.

Datto’s local workforce now has more than 230 European employees located across seven offices. In addition to the company’s data centres in the United Kingdom, Germany, and Iceland, Datto invested in a new data centre in the United Kingdom at the start of 2018, and is opening a new data centre in Germany in the first half of 2019, aiming to migrate European customers’ data in time for Brexit.

Paul Burns, chief technology officer at Technology Services Group said that the Datto and Autotask merger brought together two organisations, which has been fantastic for the channel,” commented.

“As a Datto partner, this is an exciting time for our business, and we are eager to see the rapid innovation cycle continue across all product lines.”

SMEs are increasingly outsourcing their IT needs to MSPs due to continued technology investment and stricter data regulations, providing tremendous growth opportunities for MSPs.

Node4 opens new European services gateway

Node4, the UK-based cloud, data centre and communications provider, has launched its Services Gateway.

Designed to help customers realise the value of digital transformation, the Services Gateway allows them access IT infrastructure and solutions. All solutions are underpinned by Node4’s end-to-end infrastructure including tier 3+ data centres, core network, cloud and collaboration platforms.

The Services Gateway also allows Node4 customers to benefit from hybrid solutions, supported by partners including Office365, AWS and Microsoft Azure to make sure that applications and workloads are on the most efficient infrastructure.

Paul Bryce, Chief Commercial Officer, Node4 said: “Node4’s history of owning and running data centres, including our cloud platform, gives customers the option to either host with us physically or in the cloud. It gave us the pedigree to then build our network, on which we can now offer customers a gateway to leverage multiple services across the Node4 portfolio as well as other providers.”

“Our Services Gateway supports customers in placing their workloads on the right infrastructure while maintaining control, backups, continuity and security,” he said.

The Services Gateway allows customers to easily transition to a digital environment, without the risk or costs associated with making all legacy equipment redundant at once. By taking a customer’s legacy hardware and moving it into Node4’s environment, customers can access new services alongside their existing infrastructure.

Node4 can also support customers that want to modernise legacy applications.

Bryce said: “Node4 can work with customers, developers and application support teams to review existing applications and see if they are suitable for containerisation. Containerising legacy applications not only allows customers to deploy applications on modern operating systems and infrastructure such as the Node4 Cloud but it supports a reduction of on-premise legacy server footprint, by removing the requirement to support old hardware and out of support operating systems.”


SAP launches partners innovation programme

The maker of esoteric business software which no-one really understands, SAP, has launched an innovation programme for its partners.

The programme means that they can build and go to market with new applications that augment the rich functionality of SAP S/4HANA Cloud. The partner innovation programme is designed for customers in micro verticals within priority industries, such as professional services and manufacturing.

The programme will help partners extend the intelligent capabilities of SAP S/4HANA Cloud using the open and agile SAP Cloud Platform.  SAP said that its  S/4HANA Cloud SDK, a software development kit that supplies partners with all the productivity tools and templates they need for quick innovations, makes the development process even faster.

SAP will co-market the solutions with partners to help them drive new business growth and profitability.

SAP initially involve select partners and then extend the programme in the second half of 2019 to all partners focused on SAP S/4HANA Cloud

Franck Cohen, president, Digital Core & Industry Solutions, SAP said: “Many of our customers are asking for an intelligent enterprise resource planning solution that addresses not only broader industry needs but also supports their unique micro-vertical business challenges. They want a solution from out of the box to help them thrive. The SAP ecosystem and partners – one of the most robust networks of its kind in the world – will play a critical role in helping us meet the needs of our customers in particular markets. We are committed to empowering and supporting our partners, so they can successfully build and market solutions that are complementary to our core SAP S/4HANA Cloud software.”

Ingram’s cloud guy heads to Symantec

Ingram Micro’s  UK&I director of cloud and software, Apay Obang-Oyway,  is set to leave the company.

Apparently, he is getting ready to join Ingram vendor partner Symantec in a northern European channel role next month.

Matthew Sanderson, Ingram Micro UK&I managing director, said: “Apay will be leaving us to pursue new opportunities, and we thank him for his dedication and hard work over many years. During his tenure, Apay has helped build our highly successful cloud business and leaves us with a market-leading position, along with an experienced and strong team in which we have every confidence that it will continue to take the business forward under new leadership.”

Sanderson added that Scott Murphy, Ingram’s director of cloud and advanced solutions, would now head up a combined enterprise and cloud unit.

“Customers are increasingly turning to the cloud as a strategy for business growth and as our partners look ahead to the next two years. Many see the cloud as beneficial for either growing their business or using it as a strategic asset to react more quickly to market shifts, deliver new products and services faster and get ahead of the competition”, he said.

“Under Scott’s leadership, we will continue to enable our partners to tackle a full range of critical IT issues via the cloud, Internet of Things, artificial intelligence and enterprise solutions, with the goal of becoming the number one strategic enterprise distributor.”

Scale Computing gets Lenovo cash to live on the edge

Scale Computing has raised $34.8 million with Lenovo putting up the cash.

The Lenovo cash injection comes after the pair announced a global partnership which will see them create an edge computing product aimed at firms with highly distributed infrastructures.

Scale has doubled its revenue over the past two years with its retail sector revenue quadrupling.

The Series F round has been split in two, with the first part closing at $21.2 million and the second set to close by the end of the year.

Scale CEO Jeff Ready said: “We have experienced tremendous growth over the past two years, driven by our unique capability to automate the administration of a fully converged platform. This round of funding, combined with our new partnership with Lenovo, enables us to reach customers at a global scale instantly.”

Allos Ventures also took part. Don Aquilano of Allos Ventures said: “Scale is a company which has exceeded its plans for more than two years. We are thrilled with the company’s performance and market leadership as edge computing moves to the forefront of IT. No company is better positioned to take advantage of this global trend.”

EMEA businesses turn to SD-WAN despite a lack of education

Barracuda Networks has warned that EMEA business is boosting investment in cloud-friendly networking technologies, despite a lack of education and skill.

VP and general manager, network security, Dr Klaus Gheri’s comments are based on the findings of a study of 410 IT and networking professionals released today by Barracuda Networks.

The study found that 89 percent of EMEA organisations were either already using software defined wide area networking (SD-WAN), a technology that helps users access the cloud quickly and securely, or are considering it

The biggest driver for implementing SD-WAN is to improve application performance between locations. The IT C-suite handles the most (28 percent) SD-WAN projects.

Eight out of ten EMEA organisations think that their SD-WAN solution has lived up to expectations.

The study also showed that EMEA lags behind the rest of the world in SD-WAN knowledge: only 32.7 percent fully understand SD-WAN, compared to a global average of 41 percent.

Generally, EMEA thinks SD-WAN has been overhyped, with over half of organisations thinking it is a buzzword and won’t revolutionise networking. This is higher than the US and APAC.

The number one issue for a third of those who have deployed SD-WAN was a lack of internal skill and understanding.

More than 40 percent think SD-WAN will replace MPLS. Almost two-thirds believe there’s currently not enough SD-WAN training in their organisation.

Gheri said that despite its success, SD-WAN education in the EMEA region leaves a lot to be desired.

Less than a third felt that they understood SD-WAN, falling far behind the US (57 percent ) and APAC (41 percent).

“While this may be more to do with hubris than reality, it’s leading to a lack of internal skill and understanding to deploy SD-WAN, which is highlighted by more than a third (34 per cent) of EMEA respondents as the main issue following its deployment,” Gheri said.

This research clearly shows that the new European data regulation has helped organisations in EMEA wake up to the reality of cyber threats, with many taking the plunge into SD-WAN as a result, Gheri said.

“It’s comforting to see that for many organisations, cybersecurity has become not only the number one focus for IT teams, but has also risen to a CEO level issue.”

Arrow turns platinum

Arrow  has been awarded the Platinum Reseller Partner status by Mitel, an industry-recognised leader in Unified Communications and Collaboration (UCC).

The Platinum Partner status is the highest level of accreditation that Mitel can offer, and distinguishes elite partners who represent the highest standards for Mitel’s solutions.

Arrow has been a reseller for Mitel for 18 years and in that time has designed and built one of the first Multi-Instance Communication Director (MiCD) platforms in the UK as well as being recognised as a Mitel Hospitality Partner – one of only eight in the UK.

Arrow Head of Products, Andy Arnold said: “This award is recognition of the depth of our Mitel expertise and also Arrow’s success in pushing the boundaries of unified communications. Earlier this year we launched our cloud collaboration platform. Scala – a flexible and feature-rich hosted telephony solution built on best of breed applications and services. Scala is designed and built with Mitel at its core and is a technology that people trust.

“We are delighted with this news and look forward to working even more closely with the Mitel team ” to ensure our customers continue to get the very best UCC solutions”.

Silver Peak signs deal with Westcon-Comstor

Silver Peak, the global SD-WAN outfit announced a global distribution agreement with Westcon-Comstor, a value-added global distributor (VAD) of security, collaboration, infrastructure and data centre gear.

Through its Westcon line of business, the distributor will offer the full portfolio of Silver Peak software-defined WAN (SD-WAN) edge solutions, including the Unity EdgeConnect SD-WAN edge platform, to resellers and enterprise customers across Europe, Middle East and Africa and Asia Pacific.

By adding EdgeConnect to its portfolio, Westcon will provide resellers and enterprise customers with what it claims is a complete solution that eliminates the need for conventional branch routers. EdgeConnect uniquely unifies foundational branch network functions, SD-WAN, WAN optimisation, routing and security into a single, centrally managed, business-driven, SD-WAN edge.

Michael O’Brien, vice president, worldwide channel sales at Silver Peak said: “Modern enterprises operate in the cloud for speed and efficiency, but traditional routers weren’t designed for that Built for the cloud, EdgeConnect empowers enterprises with a WAN edge architecture that frees them from the associated complexity and expense of traditional router-centric WAN approaches. This presents a substantial opportunity for Westcon to offer resellers and enterprise customers, across the globe, a solution that directly and securely connects users to SaaS and cloud applications to deliver the highest quality of experience. The Silver Peak and Westcon distribution agreement represents a strategic partnership that leverages the core competencies of both organisations.”

David Grant, chief operating officer at Westcon said: “At Westcon, we pride ourselves in transforming the technology supply chain through our capabilities in the cloud, services and global deployments. Partnering with Silver Peak means we can now offer value-added distribution of our full portfolio to existing Silver Peak partners, while evangelising the SD-WAN addressable market opportunity to potential new value-added resellers (VARs) and system integrators across the company’s existing collaboration, infrastructure and security portfolios.”

Datacentres are not that reliable

Independent research released by Volta Data Centres has revealed that 56 percent of IT decision makers in the UK say they have experienced downtime from their data centre provider in the last six months – despite over half (53 percent ) saying constant uptime was a top priority for their CEO.

According to a new report with the catchy title ‘Data Loss and Downtime are putting Hybrid and Edge Computing Strategies at Risk’, just under half of IT decision makers reported their businesses had experienced data loss as a result of downtime, with businesses suffering from an average of 3 hours and 45 minutes of downtime over the past 12 months.

The research, conducted by independent research provider Sapio Research, found that over half of IT decision makers said guaranteed uptime was important when selecting a data centre provider. Despite this being a top priority, over a quarter said they have had to make compromises on system uptime to meet budget restrictions.

Jon Arnold, Managing Director at Volta Data Centres, said: “This research has helped identify two fundamental concerns: the quality of service being delivered to UK businesses and an apparent disconnect between business priorities and IT infrastructure planning.”

Looking into the impact of downtime on businesses, the research found that 29 percent  of respondents had suffered one or two events of data loss as a result of their data centre provider letting them down – with 18 percent stating they had suffered data losses on three or more times during the past 12 months.

Arnold said, “Outages and data loss can be due to a variety of factors such as network glitches, human error or inadequate maintenance, but whatever the reason, organisations need to be taking a far more robust approach to data centre due diligence.

“Where is the guarantee of 100% uptime? What power resilience is in place? How many different connectivity options are available – and do they run across different networks for greater contingency? These are all questions businesses need to ask when choosing data centre providers or face the risk of more downtime.”


Sigma Software Distribution signs deal with Titus

Sigma Software Distribution today announced a new distribution agreement with data protection solutions outfit TITUS.

The deal means that more than 300 Sigma IT security retailers can use TITUS’ solutions to help customers accelerate the adoption of a data protection strategy that’s right for them.

Jane Silk, Managing Director at Sigma said: “TITUS have been working closely with their high-profile customer base for many years to help transform organisations’ security culture. We are delighted to be partnering with TITUS and are looking forward to helping them drive their channel strategy within the UK.”

David Land, VP of International Sales at TITUS, said: “We are excited to partner with Sigma Software Distribution to grow our presence in the UK market. Working with Sigma’s well-established reseller network enables us to play a critical role in providing UK organisations with the technology they need to meet regulatory compliance, such as EU GDPR, and to enable secure collaboration with best-in-class data protection solutions.”

TITUS data protection solutions are immediately available through Sigma Software Distribution resellers.

Cities best placed to attract cyber talent named

Cyber security training outfit Crucial Academy has released its 2018 Cyber Security City Ranking, revealing the best cities for cyber security professionals, with Reading, Leeds and Cardiff topping the table.

Analysing four factors, including salary, affordability, job availability and tech sector growth potential, the ranking sought to uncover which cities may be most attractive to those already working in or considering cyber security as a career path.

Reading in Berkshire, home to a wide variety of major international tech companies, topped the ranking, performing particularly well for job availability and salary. Leeds closely followed, gaining big points for the potential growth of its tech sector, whilst Cardiff ranked in third place, scoring top points for affordability.

With the predicted future shortfall of cyber security professionals, Crucial was keen to research the factors which may render some cities more attractive to this much needed specialist talent. An October 2018 report revealed that the worldwide cyber security skills gap currently stands at almost three million.

Johnny Mercer, MP for Plymouth Moor View and non-executive director of Crucial Academy said: “There is a huge cyber skills gap in the UK and we need to fill it in order to protect against attacks. Businesses have more of a duty than ever before to protect themselves and their customers’ information, meaning cyber skills are becoming ever more valuable.”

Neil Williams, CEO of Crucial Academy, added: “Every city in the ranking is a tech hub within its own right, however, it is fascinating to see which cities, based on these factors, may be more attractive to the much-needed talent pool of cyber security professionals.”

Other findings from the study included:

  • Best cities for salaries: London followed closely by Cardiff and Edinburgh.
  • Best cities for affordability: Cardiff closely followed by Newcastle and Glasgow.
  • Best cities for job availability: Reading followed by Leeds and Manchester.
  • Best cities for tech sector growth potential: Leeds, Edinburgh and Brighton all placed highest with the same score.

The top 10 cities:

Rank City Salary Score Affordability Score Job Availability Score Tech Growth Potential Score TOTAL SCORE
1 Reading 8.3 7.3 10 8.1 33.7
2 Leeds 7.7 7.9 7.5 9.7 32.8
3 Cardiff 9.3 10 4.2 8 31.5
4 Edinburgh 8.5 8.2 4.7 9.7 31.1
5 Manchester 7.8 7.5 6.6 8.9 30.8
6 London 10 5.9 5.2 8.2 29.3
7 Glasgow 8.1 8.4 4.2 8.5 29.2
8 Newcastle 8.4 9.2 3.2 8 28.8
9 Brighton 7.8 6.5 4.7 9.7 28.7
10 Bristol 7.5 6.7 4.6 9.3 28.1

Jamf scores big SAP contract

SAP, the esoteric management software outfit which no one really understands, has chosen Jamf to manage its 17,000 Mac, 83,000 iOS and 170 Apple TV devices. SAP is managing these devices together with Jamf Pro to create a “native and integrated IT and user experience” across all of its Apple devices.

That’s several orchards of apples.

Martin Lang, vice president of enterprise mobility, SAP, said: “With a growing number of SAP employees choosing Apple devices, SAP decided to reorganise its IT teams to create an Apple Centre of Excellence team and chose Jamf because of its focus on the user experience. Jamf Pro combined with the Apple@SAP service ensure a consistent experience for Apple users.”

SAP claims that it is taking advantage of Jamf’s integration with Microsoft Enterprise Security + Mobility (EMS), which provides an “automated compliance management solution” for Mac and iOS devices accessing applications set up with Azure AD authentication.
“Through this collaboration, SAP leverages conditional access to ensure that only trusted users from compliant devices, using approved apps, are accessing company data. In addition to conditional access, SAP is also taking advantage of Jamf Self Service, which is a self-help destination that gives SAP employees instant access to resources, content and trusted apps through a single click on their Mac or iOS device without IT help.”

It claims it can keep pace with upgrade cycles. Streamline workflow for provisioning and provide a consistent user experience by segmenting Apple devices in separate management solutions forces end users to interact with different apps for Mac and iOS, ultimately creating confusion for where to go for what device. Streamlining ecosystem management with one solution gives users a common app for all Apple platforms. Users gain a “consistent experience” with Jamf Self Service that has one brand, name, look and feel across both macOS and iOS.

Reading between the PR lines, I guess that means everything works.


Sword Active Risk pushes into South Korea

Sword Active Risk, a UK supplier of specialist risk management software and services, has appointed its first reseller in South Korea.

Based in Seoul, SNS Eng Ltd will be responsible for developing and growing the market for Active Risk Manager in South Korea.  The new agreement is part of Sword Active Risk’s strategy to extend its global reach by working with its partner network to provide users of Active Risk Manager with local risk expertise and support, letting them “drive more value” to the business from an investment in risk.

SNS Eng provides specialist enterprise risk management and systems engineering consulting services to its customers in the defence, aerospace, railway, plant, steel and engineering sectors, services which complement and are supported by Active Risk Manager. High profile clients of SNS Eng include: DAPA, ADD, KARI, HHI, DSME, HHIC, STX, KRRI, KAERI, KEPCO E&C, Hanwha, Hanwha System, KRISO, and Hyundai Wia.

I’m sorry, I don’t know what these abbreviations stand for, but there sure are a lot of them.

Park Jong-sun, CEO of SNS Eng said: “There is a growing realisation by leading organisations in South Korea that enterprise risk management supports better business decisions and ultimately helps to create better stakeholder value.  Being able to provide this powerful software platform, Active Risk Manager, will enable us to provide advice and guidance to our clients that is ultimately actionable, which gives us a huge advantage.”

Charlie Longridge, Director of Partnerships for Sword Active Risk commented; “We are delighted to be working with the team at SNS Eng. Their specialist knowledge and contacts within the local market will enable us to gain traction within this vibrant and growing economy. Our co-marketing programs have been designed to enable our resellers to add value to the Active Risk Manager proposition, increase sales engagement with their customers and to provide significant additional revenue opportunities.”

This agreement follows on from the launch of Sword Active Risk’s Partner Program for Risk Consultants which was announced in July 2017 and, it’s claimed,  further underlines the company’s stated commitment to and participation in the risk community.


Connected Planning is a good sell

A Dimensional Research survey sponsored by connected planning outfit Anaplan shows that using next-generation technology to connect data, people, and processes across the enterprise to combine strategic insight with business foresight accelerates business value.

The study showed that 92 percent of companies believe that better planning technology produces better business outcomes and 74 per cent of companies plan more frequently than they did five years ago. More than 97 percent of survey respondents said planning is critical to enhancing revenues, optimising resource allocation and converting strategies into action. Around 82 percent of “aggressively growing” companies incorporate market data into their plans within days or weeks.

However, just 15 percent of companies report executing on all of their plans, and only 39 percent put three-quarters or more of their plans into action.

Anaplan Chief Planning Officer Simon Tucker said: “Business planning is at a critical tipping point, and in the era of digital transformation, organisations need to leave behind the static and siloed approach of traditional business planning to survive in today’s market. Data has to flow in all directions, across business units, so that everyone has a single source of truth. Organisations using a connected planning approach have a competitive edge by integrating—and acting on—market changes more quickly.”

The survey seemed to show a correlation between a company’s ability to be more agile and data-driven in its planning with driving better business outcomes with 82 percent of respondents of “aggressively growing” companies saying that planning is critically important for enhancing revenue.

Jeff Brobst, Vice President, Finance, Seagate Technology said: “We overhauled our planning process, which was highly siloed and disconnected with more than a dozen independent software applications to a more agile, connected planning approach that leverages a single, cloud-based platform,” said. “We see tremendous value with connected planning by more effectively integrating market changes into our plans and driving collaboration across business units to help us see around corners and make better decisions. As a result, we’re seeing the impacts of changes more quickly.”

Respondents also addressed the role of advanced analytics, machine learning and artificial intelligence in connected planning. Demand for emerging technologies in the planning space is strong, with 94 percent of survey respondents reporting that they believe machine learning has a role in the future of planning technology and 55 percent of IT professionals stating that capabilities like “what-if” analyses allow organisations to perform advanced analyses with confidence.

You couldn’t make it up.


Bidooh secures contracts to roll out 3,000 screens across Eastern Europe

Bidooh, a UK-based real-time, real-audience, digital billboard advertising platform, has won contracts from two partners based in the Czech Republic and Romania to operate its blockchain-based facial analysis billboard platform on live advertising screens across Eastern Europe.

The two contracts combined cover an initial allocation of approximately 300 screens and target a roll-out of 3,000 screens over a three-year period.

27 screens are currently live in Bosnia and Herzegovina under the contract with the Czech partner, generating over one million direct interactions in the last 30 days.

The contracts have been awarded following the success of the UK Test Network, it claims, currently operating on 16 screens across four different locations in the UK: Manchester Deansgate, Oldham, Rochdale and Nottingham. To date, over 500 advertisers have signed up and used the platform since the first site went live in November 2017.

Bidooh is forming a decentralised digital billboard network which offers publishers immediate access to the Group’s global selection of screens. Bidooh intends to primarily grow its screen network by purchasing and deploying its screens in shopping malls and other high footfall locations. However, to rapidly extend the reach of its platform, it is also entering into licence agreements with regional partner operators around the world.