Author: Nick Farrell

Amazon promises to create 5,000 UK jobs

amazonOnline retailer Amazon is set to create more than 5,000 jobs in Britain this year as the outfit boosts its UK operations.

Amazon, along with other tech giants such as Google and Apple, has increased its commitment to Britain in the last year, saying Britain’s referendum decision to leave the EU last June did not affect its investment plans.

The plans to add over 5,000 jobs in 2017 is a record for Amazon in Britain, although at least 2,000 of the jobs had been previously announced. The moves would take its permanent workforce in the country to 24,000.

Doug Gurr, UK country manager at Amazon, said the jobs would provide “even faster delivery, more selection and better value” for British customers.

Amazon’s new head office in London will have capacity for more than 5,000 people by the end of the year, the firm said. The concentration of tech expertise in London has been cited by many firms as an attraction.

 

Microsoft tells partners to pass on Surface price hikes

Microsoft campusSoftware king of the world, Microsoft, has told its channel chums to pass on the price increases of its surface gear.

The move is expected to cause a few headaches as resellers will be the ones left explaining why prices have risen.

The reason is the value of the pound and the Brexit tax. There have been some price rises already with the large hardware vendors passed on the currency fluctuations but now everyone is having to do it. This is mostly because the only thing that is selling for 90 euro cents a pound turns out to be the pound.

Vole has said that it is increasing hardware prices on the Surface and the Surface Book by 15 percent, as a direct consequence of the state of Sterling.

The vendor has given the channel some leeway on exactly how much it will pass on those increase, but really a 15 percent increase is about the only way it can happen.

A spokes Vole said that the price increases only affect products and services purchased by individuals, or organisations without volume licensing contracts and will be effective from February 15, 2017.

“For indirect sales where our products and services are sold through partners, final prices will continue to be determined by them,” it  added.

Microsoft is doing its best to encourage the channel to sell more of its Surface line. Schemes like a try-before-you-buy and increased services have all launched in the last few months to tempt more users.

Other vendors that have looked at prices include HP and Apple and earlier this week the speaker manufacturer Sonos revealed that it was also increasing the costs for customers because of exchange rates.

Still at least the UK can be re-assured that as soon as the UK gets out of the EU more than $380 million a week will be spent on the National Health Service.

IBM updates channel programme

A not so mobile X86 PCThe ever shrinking Biggish Blue has announced changes to its channel programme with the aim of making its plans with Q2 a bit better.

IBM wants to encourage its partners to move into the high growth areas of cloud and security. This week it is holding its PartnerWorld event in Las Vegas and the announcements have been flowing out from the conference.

One of the planks of its cunning plan is to increase the number of competencies in the PartnerWorld programme, with the number heading up to the 40 mark.

Marc Dupaquier, general manager, IBM Global Business Partners said that as digital and cloud “solutions” continue to transform industries, the time is now for IBM partners to deliver cognitive solutions with deep vertical expertise built on the IBM Cloud platform and made available in an omni-channel environment.

This includes an expanded and redesigned the PartnerWorld programme to guide Business Partners of all types and models in developing capabilities aligned to our cognitive solutions and cloud platform strategy to deliver high client value.

While IBM started off revising its PartnerWorld programme at the beginning of the year the men in suits have being rolling out enhancements with the additional competencies.

Some of the additional competencies coming in Q2 include in security Information, Risk and Protection and in cloud the Cloud Video and High Speed Transfer. The Watson Internet of Things side of the business will offer Continuous Engineering and there will also be a new Competency in IBM Global Financing to help partners offer “Financing” as a core capability.

Another part of the growth strategy includes embedded solutions, a simplified reselling process and enhanced software incentives.

The embedded solutions agreement that IBM is making available should make it easier for partners to use their own branding on solutions that are built on Big Blue technology. The vendor is also providing a Ready for IBM Cloud validation for ISVs to make it easier for developers.

After April there will be more software incentives to increase the rewards available to those partners that sell the vendor’s product range.

Intel says channel has key role in cloud security

wintel_blimp_featureIntel Security which has just released its second annual cloud security report which says that the channel has a key role in reassuring customers about hosted data.

Intel Security said that there was a gut feeling among some users that keeps them worrying about data integrity and that should be a chance for a reseller to step into the breach and ease their passage to the hosted world.

It suggested that the UK is one of the most risk-averse when it comes to cloud adoption. Some of that is caused by a skills shortage making it harder for customers to move to a hosted environment, but there are also real concerns about moving sensitive data into the cloud.

Stuart Taylor, UKI regional director, channel at Intel Security said that security concerns and the skills shortage seem to be holding UK organisations back when it comes to cloud adoption.

“While our research clearly demonstrates that businesses in the UK are the least likely globally to implement a proactive cloud-first strategy, that is not preventing cloud from being adopted across the business. This often leads to shadow IT practices which make it difficult for IT to get a firm control over corporate data in the cloud,” he said.

The Intel research found that 40 per cent  of cloud services were now being commissioned without the involvement of the IT department.

Taylor said that with more data shifting across to the cloud, it was essential that the correct security controls are put in place.

“By moving towards a cloud-first strategy, organisations can encourage the adoption of cloud services to increase flexibility, reduce costs and set up proactive security operations. To this end, we work closely with our channel partners to ensure they can advise end users on the steps needed to secure cloud deployments,” he added.

Intel’s channel partners understand that taking a proactive stance was the key and can help companies go beyond initial protection by ensuring the correct technology is in place to rapidly detect threats and correct their systems when necessary. However, this focus on the threat defence lifecycle must go hand in hand with shifting the defender-attacker dynamic, he said.

Microsoft looks to channel to sort out its small blue things

hqdefaultSoftware King of the World Microsoft is ending pay-as-you-go Azure access for new smaller customers on the Microsoft Products and Services Agreement, as it turns to channel partners to win small customers.

At the moment punters are purchasing Azure on a pay-as-you-go basis through the MPSA.  Vole’s new customers seeking the payment plan will be “guided” towards Microsoft’s Cloud Solution Provider (CSP) programme.

According to Richard Smith, Microsoft’s general manager for commercial licensing the new licensing focus was a matter of “enhancing and creating synergies” across the ways in which it goes to business.

It means that customers seeking to dip their toes into Azure on a PAYG basis will now need to go through the Channel.

Vole will not make much extra cash from selling through the channel, but Volish thinking is that small suppliers are more likely to stay signed up to a Channel programme than sticking to something more direct.

Many smaller customers don’t see the true benefits of the Azure cloud because they lack the skills.

By encouraging customers to work with partners via the CSP programme, it will mean that there is a  greater chance of success and ultimately a greater consumption of services from the Cloud.

Infosys moans about reporting of board spat

infosysudacityOutsourcing giant Infosys is getting a little miffed about the ways that the press are reporting concerns about the way the outfit is managed.

Infosys Chief Executive Vishal Sikka said talk in the media on concerns over corporate governance at the software services firm was “distracting”.

For those that came in late, there are appears to be a war of words between Infosys’s founders and its executive.

Sikka insists he is on good relations with the firm’s founders, including N.R. Narayana Murthy.

Infosys’ founders, who own 12.75 percent of the firm, have questioned the pay of Chief Executive Vishal Sikka and severance payouts given to others, including former finance head Rajiv Bansal. According to local media reports, the founders have also questioned the appointment of an independent director.

“All this drama that has been going on in the media, it’s very distracting – it takes away attention – but underneath that there is a very strong fabric that this company is based on and it is a real privilege for me to be its leader,” Sikka said at an investor conference.

Infosys, founded in 1981 when seven engineers, including Murthy, pooled $250 – mostly borrowed from their wives, is expected to address the governance concerns at a separate news conference at 1230 GMT today.

“My relation with the founders is wonderful,” Sikka said at the investor conference hosted by brokerage firm Kotak, adding he typically meets Murthy five or six times a year.
Sikka, a former member of the executive board at German software firm SAP, took the top job at Infosys in 2014, becoming its first non-founder CEO.

The board has backed Sikka, and has brushed aside concerns over CEO compensation, appointment of independent directors and severance pay relating to former employees, saying those were old issues and that full disclosures had been made.

Symantec gets its blue coat on

51Tg15QMqQLSecurity outfit Symantec is nearly ready to roll out its unified partner programme which merges its own channel with that of Blue Coat.

For those who came in late, Symantec bought Blue Coat last year for $4.65 billion and is working out a way of merging the two channels.

Symantec is to launch a Secure One channel programme this Spring and it is pretty simple. There are two areas – core security and enterprise security and four tiers of registered, silver, gold and platinum.

The whole thing is being pitched as a chance for resellers to cross and up-sell.

Partners can boost their margins with opportunity registration on non-standard pricing deals, development funds for gold and platinum partners and the chance to get a performance rebate.

Symantec vice president for global partner sales Torjus Gylstorff said that partners will have the opportunity to cross-sell and up-sell, providing mutual customers with “leading solutions to solve the world’s biggest cyber security problems.”

Other key initiatives include transitioning Opportunity Registration to a front-end discount only, which ensures that the financials of doing business with Symantec will be more predictable.

The firm is going to share more details with partners as it gets closer to launch in April.

“With a $30 billion-dollar opportunity in cyber security, we will see massive growth potential in our industry this year. We’re excited about this new era for our company, our partnership and our program, and we look forward to defining the future of cyber security, together,” he said.

Dell EMC announces its stairway to heaven partner plan

stairwayDell EMC has finally told its partners what they will have to do to qualify for its new partner programme tiers.

The Dell EMC Partner Programme launched yesterday with Michael Dell himself insisting on a video that the channel is important to him personally. However partners did not know what they would have to do to qualify for the Gold, Platinum and Titanium tiers.

As Dell EMC’s EMEA boss Michael Collins said there were two paths you could go on, but in the long run, there’s still time to change the road you are on.

The first path involves high revenue targets and low training achievements, and another which has much higher training targets but less of a focus on revenue.

Collins said, is designed to help smaller, specialist partners remain competitive in the programme.

There are two paths per “bucket” of countries in EMEA – one bucket of bigger countries: the UK, Germany and France; and the other bucket consisting of the rest of EMEA.

UK partners will be mostly focused on revenue, and less on training. They much sell between $3- $7 million to achieve gold, with $400,000 of that coming from services. To achieve Platinum, partners must sell between $15 million and $25 million of the Dell EMC portfolio – including $1.6 million of services. Those who would be Titanium, must hit an overall revenue target of between $35 and $45 million with $3.2 million of services.

The UK’s training-focused path has smaller revenue requirements. Gold partners must achieve between $500,000 and a million in sales, with $60,000 coming from services. Platinum partners must sell between $3-$7 million in revenue, including $600,000 from services. To be crowned with Titanium, partners need to hit between $15 and $25 million in sales and have $2.4 million coming from services.

The targets for UK partners are higher than for the rest of EMEA.

There is a last tier called Titanium Black which is a status within the top-level Titanium tier. That seems to be dished out on the whim of Dell-EMC and will mean that other partners must stand when they enter the room and they will get the first choice when the chocolate buscuits are passed around during meetings. Actually, we made that up we have no idea of what you get if you are Titanium Black.

For this year, Dell EMC partners have been “status matched”, meaning their position on the Dell EMC Partner Programme is determined on where they finished on the legacy Dell or EMC programmes last year.

UK Cloud warns of US privacy threat  

lightning-cloudUKCloud commerical director Nicky Stewart, has warned that the US government could start demanding emails which are stored on servers outside of the United States

A US magistrate ruled against Google and ordered it to cooperate with FBI search warrants demanding access to user emails and president Donald (Prince of Orange) Trump issued an Executive Order that weakened protections for data held in the US about foreign citizens.

She said that at the time of Trump’s recent executive order, US firms were quick to dismiss privacy concerns and the implied threat to Privacy Shield as a ‘complete over-reaction.’

With the US Department of Justice appealing the Microsoft case, the Rule 41 amendments coming into force, Trump’s initial executive order with who knows how many more to come, and now the ruling against Google, there will be fresh concerns in Brussels, and European privacy campaigners are going to be up in arms.

“The last remaining foundation for Privacy Shield was the 1974 US Privacy Act (written well before email existed, in which time Europe has rewritten its privacy rules three times). Not only is this act out of date, but it is patchy and deficient at best. It now appears under assault.

Even if we could be confident that the new administration and US courts were committed to upholding European privacy rights, and could be certain that there would be no further orders or rulings like these, what we have seen so far suggests that the US is deeply divided and there can be no certainty.”

“Public sector bodies with contracts with US cloud firms need to make an immediate Privacy Impact Assessment, and if necessary, seek expert legal advice. They may need to scope out migration options to move workloads so data privacy and sovereignty can be assured.

British Prime Minister’s new industrial strategy which actively favours UK firms for government contracts and procurement for growth in the post-Brexit world, departments are going to need to weigh up the risks (in terms of data privacy and sovereignty and currency fluctuations) of doing business with non-UK providers.”

UKFast buys another security outfit

UKFast-Office-Inside-1024x564UKFast has written a cheque for its second security firm acquisition in just a few months.

The outfit is getting more aggressive as it seeks larger public sector contracts. Last July it bought Pentest and this week wrote a  £2.3 million cheque for Secure Information Assurance. SIA has clients which include the MoD and the Cabinet Office.

The deal took a year to complete and required UKFast to get access to the IL3 and IL4 Official-Sensitive accreditations.

UKFast CEO Lawrence Jones said that acquiring S-IA was a strategic move, not only because of its high-profile government clients, but also because of its security product set.

“It’s a rising business and the deal was an extremely competitive process, but the S-IA management team sees the clear advantage of partnering with UKFast, seeing the instant scalability of our eCloud platform as the perfect offering for the government.”

S-IA CEO Martin Knapp is remaining to head up UKFast’s G-Cloud team and will be looking to grow public sector revenues.

“The conversation started when we went to UKFast to look at their data centre facilities. We initially planned to host our cloud with UKFast, but we were so impressed that we started a conversation about becoming partners and that quickly became a conversation about Lawrence buying the business,” he said.

Security vendors have been using witchcraft on customers

Salem-Wallpapers-HDComputer security vendors have been “massively” exaggerating the abilities of malicious hackers according to the UK’s National Cyber Security Centre.

Dr Ian Levy, technical director of the UK’s National Cyber Security Centre claimed that vendors were playing up hackers’ abilities to help them sell security hardware and services.

Overplaying hackers’ skills let the firms claim only they could defeat attackers, a practice he likened to “witchcraft”.

Speaking at the Usenix Enigma security conference, Dr Levy said it was dangerous to listen only to firms that made a living from cybersecurity.

“We are allowing massively incentivised companies to define the public perception of the problem,” he is reported as saying.

He slammed  vendor’s marketing materials for depicting hackers as hugely skilled masterminds and for the hyperbolic language they used to describe cyberthreats.

He said that playing up the threats allowed vendors to establish themselves as the only ones that could defeat hackers with hardware that he likened to a “magic amulet”.

“It’s medieval witchcraft – it’s genuinely medieval witchcraft,” said Dr Levy.

Most attacks aimed at firms were not very sophisticated and in one case an attack last year on a UK telecommunications firm that used a technique older than the teenager believed to be responsible.

Dr Levy urged other businesses to take a look at what the NCSC was doing and to read through its cyber security advice because the measures it recommended were “not completely crap”.

Proficio starts Euro expansion

proficio-officeManaged security services outfit Proficio wants to grow its presence in the UK and is using venture capital cash to do it.

The firm is looking for potential sites for a European Security Operations Centre (SOC) to run alongside its US and Singapore operations.

The Proficio managed services technology works by using analytics and threat intelligence to spot threats and prevent them from developing into a serious data breach.

It brought in some private equity funds from Kayne Anderson Capital Advisor with an ambition to use some of that finance to make the move into Europe.

Tim McElwee, co-founder, president and chairman of the board at Proficio said that it was time to grow to the next level.

“We will build our sales and marketing and then will build up our channel relationships. There are channel players in the UK who have the skills and we have been encouraged by the levels of interest,” he added. “We will be putting together a very developed and thoughtful channel programme that will be attractive for a reseller.”

Gartner Group is predicting that by 2020 15 percent  of mid and enterprise customers will be using managed detection and response, which is up from the current level of one percent.

 

Ooyala gets into the channel

r6uhkgtsix9vtvl3pjd4Broadcasting and media sector outfit Ooyala has launched a channel programme with the aim of getting more VARs and MSPs.

Normally getting into the video and media market is limited to those channel specialists.  Ooyala thinks it can be made easier for those looking to get a foot into broadcasters and media firms.

The video monetisation specialist has rolled out its solutions partner programme, which is designed to attract IT partners that can sell a range of products from video production workflow to analytics and video monetisation. It wants partners with the data skills that can help broadcasters go digital.

Ooyalal thinks that VARs or MSPs are in the best position to pull together a solution that can help its target market get into a position where they are ready to take advantage of the latest digital technology.

Channel partners have the advantage of signing up for a scheme that has a customer base that is likely to have digital needs that go beyond simply the video and could want more.

Ooyala CEO, Issac Vaughn said that Ooyala wanted customers to thrive in the future of TV delivery and production.

“ Our increased commitment to our channel programme is designed to attract and enable our customer’s preferred suppliers and align with their typical buying patterns,” he said.

Accenture blamed for NHS mail silliness

accenture-surfing-elephantLast year’s reply-all cock-up by the NHS where 500 million emails being sent across the health service’s network in just 75 minutes is being blamed on outsourcer Accenture.

On 14 November a senior associate ICT delivery facilitator sent a test message on what was thought to be a local distribution list she had created. However, it instead went to all 850,000 people with an NHSmail email account.

The blank message, sent early in the morning with a subject line that simply read “test”, was sent to a distribution list called “CroydonPractices”. Around 80 promptly replied and demanded that they be removed from the list which was when trouble really began.

An official report into the meltdown said that NHSmail’s Dynamic Distribution List (DDL) allows administrators to create distribution lists using a range of options and rules.

The local admin selected the “only in my organisation” rule, which she thought would restrict the distribution list to her South London clinical commissioning group.

However, a software configuration error meant that the system applied an ‘All England’ rule rather than one including only the administrator’s organisation. The administrator would not have known that this had occurred.”

The NHS report blames Accenture for not having failsafes in place that would have prevented the fiasco. The system’s design requirements was that “strict controls must be in place to limit the volume of any one email sent by an individual user or local administrator.” This was something that Accenture has not come up with.

The ability to create DDLs of similar forms will remain disabled until NHS Digital is satisfied this has been delivered, the reports said.

Dell EMC tells partners to prove their worth

Michael DellDell EMC is putting the thumbscrews on its partners and demanding that they prove they belong in their assigned tiers in the company’s new glorious unified partner programme.

Dell EMC’s decision to “status match” solution providers into the programme has forced some solution providers to boost revenue to maintain that tier status.

This is because the new tier status is not automatic. In Dell EMC’s 2019 fiscal year, which begins in February 2018, tier eligibility will be based on new revenue targets and training requirements, she said.

The new Dell EMC partner programme officially rolls out 8 February, and is organised into Gold, Platinum and Titanium tiers and an invite-only Titanium Black designation.

Dell EMC channel chief John Byrne  wants to push solution providers to win new business, and solution providers expect that the new revenue requirements will force them to up their game.

To earn a position in the top tier of the old Dell programme, a solution provider had to book $5 million in annual revenue. For the top tier of the old EMC programme you had to book $100 million or more.

The thought is that pressure could spur merger and acquisition activity among Dell EMC solution providers.