Author: Nick Farrell

Data centres are an albatross

General_FOLDER_16 July_Albatross (RL_30June2015)This week Verizon and CenturyLink have been off-loading their data centre investments suggesting that the days of everyone+dog wanting a data centre business are past.

IT and telco providers are concluding that owning datacentres is too much of an effort and are off-loading them as soon as they can find a buyer.

Verizon this week flogged 29 datacentres to Equinix for $3.6 billion in a deal involving the transfer of 250 staff.

CenturyLink closed the sale of its data centre and colocation business, which has 700 staff, to a consortium of private equity investors.

In all cases the moves have been to release capital into their businesses. The companies feel it is better to invest in things like networks, instead of trying to support datacentres – particularly when there might be companies out there better suited to it.

UK-based resellers and hosting players are also having to re-assess their data centre strategies.

With more use of the cloud happening, even companies that own their own data centres are having to become increasingly technology-agnostic and data centre owning companies are having to change their operations.

No one expects the European General Data Protection Regulation

6748f8ea516944e171a49983c7f5e696More than half of the companies affected by the European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will not be ready by the end of 2018.

Beancounters at Gartner have added up some numbers and divided by their collective shoe size and worked out that when the GDPR goes live on 25 May 2018 more than half will eligible for fines of up to €20m – or four percent of turnover – for non-compliance.

Gartner research director Bart Willemsen said that the GDPR will affect not only EU-based organisations, but many data controllers and processors outside the EU too.

“Threats of hefty fines, as well as the increasingly empowered position of individual data subjects tilt the business case for compliance and should cause decision makers to re-evaluate measures to safely process personal data.”

All this opens the way for the channel to step in and provide customers with the advice they so desperately need.

They need someone to tell them their role under the GDPR. Outfits need to appoint a representative to act as a contact point for the data protection authority (DPA) and data subjects.

Most will have to hire a data protection officer (DPO). This is especially important when the organisation is a public body, is processing operations needing regular and systematic monitoring, or has large-scale processing activities.

Gartner said that too few organisations have found every single process where personal data is involved. Going forward, purpose limitation, data quality and data relevance should be decided on when starting a new processing activity as this will help to keep compliance in future personal data processing activities.

Organisations must prove an accountable ground posture and transparency in all decisions regarding personal data processing activities. Outside parties must also follow relevant requirements that can affect supply, change management and procurement processes. It is important to note that accountability under the GDPR needs proper data subject consent acquisition and registration. Prechecked boxes and implied consent will be in the past. A clear and express action is needed that will require organisations to implement streamlined techniques to obtain and document consent and consent withdrawal.

Digital security outfit Gemalto gets into digits

fingerprint Digital security outfit Gemalto has closed its acquisition of 3M’s Identity Management Business after approval by the relevant regulatory and antitrust authorities.

This strategic acquisition rounds out Gemalto’s cunning plan to get Government contracts offering by adding biometric technologies and more secure document features. It ideally positions the Company to provide solutions for the promising commercial biometrics market, the outfit claims.

The Identity Management Business will be integrated into Gemalto Government Programs business. In 2016, the acquired business generated $202 million in revenue and an estimated $53 million in profit from operations.

Philippe Vallée, Gemalto CEO said that buying 3M’s Identity Management Business, Gemalto makes a strategic move by in-sourcing biometric technology.

“Combining our market access, technologies and expertise will enable Gemalto to further accelerate the deployment of trusted national identities and to offer strong end-to-end biometric authentication solutions throughout the digital economy. “

SAP and Siemens invade Saudi Arabia

maxresdefaultGerman firms have scored a major win setting up shop in Saudi Arabia – something British outfits would give an arm and a leg for.

The maker of expensive esoteric management software which no-one can be really certain what it does and have been invited to play an important role in furthering the kingdom’s “digital transformation”.

Top executives at the engineering conglomerate and the business software company who were touring with German chancellor Angela Merkel signed declarations of intent to work with the Saudi authorities.

Saudi Arabia is pushing a long-term economic transformation dubbed “Vision 2030” to reduce the country’s reliance on oil, attract investment and improve the lives of its citizens. When we say citizens, we mean Muslim men.

Siemens signed a framework agreement with the Saudi National Industrial Clusters Development Programme (NICDP) which the German group said could lead to equipping infrastructure projects worth at least a billion euros.

The company also wants to provide vocational training in Saudi Arabia, while SAP has agreed with the Saudi Ministry of Planning to cooperate on the country’s digitisation efforts, officials said.

The German business delegation travelling with Merkel on her Gulf visit also includes the chief executives of Lufthansa, national railway operator Deutsche Bahn and industrial services group Bilfinger.

PCM enters the UK and is hiring

XdyfrZEwPCM has unveiled its entry into the United Kingdom and Europe through a wholly-owned subsidiary, PCM Technology Solutions UK.

For those who came in late, PCM is a big US technology solutions provider with 2016 revenues of $2.25 billion and nearly 4,000 employees.

Opening in the UK is the next major step in PCM’s global expansion following its successful entry into Canada in 2015. PCM UK will be conducting a Grand Opening celebration on 2 May and expects to begin sales operations during the second quarter.

PCM UK is driving towards considerable scale and expects to employ 90 co-workers by the end of 2017.

PCM CEO Frank Khulusi, Chairman said that the outfit’s expansion into the UK marks a major milestone for PCM.

“PCM UK will be our hub for the UK and the rest of Europe.  Many of our North American customers are increasingly global with needs for us to deliver to their European operations cutting-edge IT solutions with the same high level of service they have grown accustomed to from us in North America.”

The outfit said that there are significant potential opportunities for customers based in the UK and across the European Union.

“We believe now is the right timing for us to pursue this additional market, and launched our UK operations accordingly. We spent a great deal of time during the quarter setting up the operation, hiring a managing director and various other leadership roles to ensure the success of this international expansion.”

PCM UK has recently appointed Donavan Hutchinson as its Managing Director. Hutchinson joined the PCM in February to help develop and create the UK operation.

Hutchinson worked for other Global IT solution providers where he was directly responsible for creating and effectively executing collaboration programs to extend service offerings from North America based clients into the UK, Europe and Asia Pacific Markets.

Hutchinson, stated, “I am excited to bring my experience and record of accomplishment of successfully growing global sales of IT solutions to the PCM family.  With a mission of delivering a very high level of service to our European clients, we have already built an incredible management team to lead the operation, and I’m confident we will be able to expand the successes of PCM to the UK and across Europe. “

Jay Miley, PCM’s President, added: “Our success in rapidly building the UK operation and preparing it for a grand launch has been one of leveraging our strong relationships with our key vendors and distribution partners who believe in our team and our strategic business plan. I would like to personally thank all of our internal stakeholders, partners, vendors and distributors who are assisting us in executing against our strategy to extend the high level of service and support that our customers currently enjoy today.”

PCM UK is now hiring for positions in sales, vendor management, purchasing, marketing, IT and finance as well as a variety of other business roles.

Security features are the top reason for Windows 10 upgrade

magritte-windowThe killer reason why companies are upgrading to Windows 10 is the improved security functions, according to beancounters at Gartner Group.

The analyst outfit said that it took a long time for Windows 10 to start driving PC sales but the channel has witnessed the impact of the OS upgrades triggering hardware sales since the last quarter of 2016.

Gartner noting that the adoption of Windows 10 is faster than previous OS versions and the traditional refresh cycles are shortening. Ranjit Atwal, research director at Gartner said: “Organisations recognize the need to move to Windows 10, and the total time to both evaluate and deploy Windows 10 has shortened from 23 months to 21 months between surveys that Gartner did during 2015 and 2016.

“Large businesses are either already engaged in Windows 10 upgrades or have delayed upgrading until 2018. This likely reflects the transition of legacy applications to Windows 10 or replacing those legacy applications before Windows 10 migration takes place”.

The analyst house has found that security improvements are the top attraction for those migrating as well as the cloud integration capabilities offered by the OS.

But there are also technical problems with some users being driven to upgrade to make sure they can use the latest desktop and server processors. Meike Escherich, principal research analyst at Gartner said: “Respondents’ device buying intentions have significantly increased as organizations saw third- and fourth-generation products optimized for Windows 10 with longer battery life, touchscreens and other Windows 10 features. The intention to purchase convertible notebooks increased as organizations shifted from the testing and pilot phases into the buying and deployment phases.”

Figures from last month from Netmarketshare revealed that Windows 10 holds a 25 percent market share, which is still lagging behind the 49 percentheld by Windows 7. The number of users still using XP and 8.1 has now dipped below 20 percent

Snow goes to channel first approach

ALG-L50-073Snow Software has announced it is setting up a channel-first policy to make sure all sales happen with partners.

Snow is a Software Asset Management outfit and it expects a channel will help it meet growing demand for software asset management support.

A SAM skills shortage is looming and as a result customers will be leaning more on partners to make sure they can help them plug the expertise gap.

To support the increased channel focus the firm has launched a partner portal, updated its programmes with more emphasis on joint marketing opportunities.

The company said that it will make sure the channel can perform the function customers will be looking for the vendor is encouraging partners to use its training facilities with the Snow Academy, which is an online learning platform.

Urban Bucht, global vice president partners at Snow Software announced that he will be developing partner relationships and he will be bringing on new partners to provide greater reach in the market.

Microsoft takes on Salesforce with LinkedIn data

microsoft-in-chinaSoftware King of the World, Microsoft, is rolling out upgrades to its sales software using data from LinkedIn.

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said that the cunning plan was central to the company’s long-term strategy for building specialised business software.

The move means improving Vole’s sales software Dynamics 365, so it can take on market leader Salesforce.com.  It is the first thing to come out of Microsoft’s $26 billion acquisition of LinkedIn, the business-focused social network.

The new features will comb through a salesperson’s email, calendar and LinkedIn relationships to help gauge how warm their relationship is with a potential customer.

The system will recommend ways to save an at-risk deal, like calling in a co-worker who is connected to a potential customer on LinkedIn.

“The artificial intelligence, or AI, capabilities of the software would be central. I want to be able to democratize AI so that any customer using these products is able to, in fact, take their own data and load it into AI for themselves,” Nadella said.

LinkedIn has 500 million members globally, one of the first big milestones for the business social network since its acquisition.

Mid-market positive despite Brexit

Divorce Just Ahead SignCloud and data centre player Node4 has issued a market report which shows that the mid-market is feeling rather optimistic despite Brexit.

The mid-market has long been one of the number one target areas for the channel and it is believed that budgets in that segment will rise this year.

Node4 said that while Brexit is a dark cloud which is causing some concerns with business leaders worried about the impact that the process to leave the EU will have on their prospects, most mid-market firms are optimistic.

More than 77 percent of mid-market firms are expecting budgets to rise this year with 22 percent of that total looking forward to more than a 10 percent increase.

Hosted and cloud-based services are scooping up most of the cash with IaaS and security as a service the two top areas. Managed services and disaster recovery as a service are expected to follow suit.

A third of those quizzed had Brexit concerns and many thought that the channel could be doing more to support them through potentially challenging times.

Paul Bryce, business development director at Node4 said that mid-tier companies were the UK economy’s engine and so it was promising that investment was taking place in the IT infrastructure that will help to fuel further growth.

“It is no surprise that mid-market companies are embracing the cloud, which affords a huge opportunity to drive efficiency, agility, scalability, and to empower workforces,” he said.

Amazon wrestles Oracle in handbags at dawn duel

cda0b487bcbf9c72a65ee8106e695603While you would not really expect Amazon and Oracle to see eye to eye, it appears that the two are having a very public hand-bags at dawn duel.

Two months ago Oracle co-CEO Mark Hurd called Amazon’s cloud infrastructure “old” and claimed his company was gaining market share.

Now Amazon Web Services chief Andy Jassy slammed Oracle for locking customers into painfully long and expensive contracts.

“People are very sensitive about being locked in given the experience they’ve had the last 10 to 15 years,” Jassy told Amazon’s AWS Summit in San Francisco.

“When you look at cloud, it’s nothing like being locked into Oracle.” Jassy was addressing a cultural shift in the way technology is bought and sold. No longer does the process involve the purchase of heavy proprietary software with multi-year contracts that include annual maintenance fees.”

Jassy claims that the cloud is about choice and ease of use, including letting clients turn things off if they’re not working.

Tanium hits back at poor press

-1x-1The security outfit is being battered more than a Mars Bar in a Scottish chippie lately with stories that   it exposed a hospital’s network during demos and allegations of staff mistreatment.

In letter to customers, Orion Hindawi had to answer allegations that Hindawi mistreats staff, and then by a Wall Street Journal report claiming that it exposed a hospital’s network in demonstrations without its permission.

Hindawi said that that many would be “tired of waking up to the bad Tanium press stories hitting your inbox in the last week.

“I don’t think they’re painting an accurate picture of our company, so I’m reaching out directly to all of you to give our side of this,” he wrote.

Hindawi stressed that Tanium did not have access to its customers’ on-premise installations of Tanium – it is an on-premise solution – unless they have explicitly provided it to the vendor.

It cannot demonstrate customer environments with Tanium, although it could have done more to obscure and anonymise the identity of the specific hospital in question.

But viewers “didn’t connect the demo environment to that customer for years, and we do not believe we ever put our customer at risk with the data we showed”, he said.

Hindawi also addressed reports alleging that he fired workers before they could acquire shares and ridiculed staff in front of their co-workers.

“It is true that I personally can be hard-edged, and that I’ve had to apologise to people at Tanium when I’ve gotten too sharp at times,” he wrote.

“What is not true is that we have a toxic culture. Mission-oriented, hard-charging, disciplined, even intense, but not toxic. We do not belittle each other at work, and it is completely untrue that we fire people to save a few shares of stock.”

Cylance may have over egged performance

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Anti-virus outfit Cylance appears to have been caught out trying to create false positives in clients machines as part of a sales gimmick.

According to Ars Technica  the scheme was rumbled when a systems engineer at a large company was evaluating security software products when he discovered something suspicious.

Cylance had provided him with 48 malware files in an archive stored in the vendor’s Box cloud storage account. The idea was to show the company how good its Protect, a “next generation” endpoint protection system built on machine learning really was.

Protect identified all 48 of the samples as malicious, while competing products flagged most but not all of them. But when the engineer took a closer look at the malware files in question—and found that seven were not malware.

He reasoned that Cylance was using the test to close the sale by providing files that other products wouldn’t detect—that is, bogus malware only Protect would catch. Cylance claims Protect uses AI to train itself using “the DNA markers of 1 billion known bad and 1 billion known good files.”

But over the past year, competitors and testing companies have accused Cylance of using product tests that favour the company. These critics have also accused Cylance of using legal threats to block independent, competitive testing.

Cylance executives reply accuses testing companies of running tests that inaccurately represent performance.

Ars says that the Cylance appears to be “re-packing” existing malware samples and turning them into “fresh” malware mostly using packers to convert executable files into self-extracting archives or otherwise obscure their executable code.

Cylance executives said there is no foul in that, because that is exactly what hackers do – share malware and repackage that malware to evade signature-based detection. The files that only Cylance caught in the test were all repacked in some way; five of the files were processed with MPRESS and the remainder were packed with other tools, including what appears to be a custom packer.

Of the nine files in question, testing by the customer, by Ars, and by other independent researchers showed that only two actually contained malware. One of the MPRESS-packed samples appeared to contain a copy of the MPRESS packer itself. The remainder of the MPRESS files contained either “husks”—essentially empty files—or samples that had been corrupted in packing. Two others crashed on execution, after opening a bunch of Windows resources without using them.

Gartner warns of currency woes

Databroker_scrooge_mcduckGartner has warned that currency headwinds will cause the market some major headaches and have already reduced IT spending forecasts

Gartner’s analysis of IT spending this year has been downgraded as a result of the position of the dollar. The analyst house is still expecting things to be up on 2016 but only by 1.4 percent instead of the previously expected 2.7 percent .

There should be about $3.5 trillion spent on IT this year but billions have been shaved off the potential amount because of ongoing issues around the dollar.

John-David Lovelock, research vice president at Gartner said that the strong US dollar has cut $67 billion out of his 2017 IT spending forecast.

“We expect these currency headwinds to be a drag on earnings of U.S.-based multinational IT vendors through 2017.”

The big US firms have already been forced to react to exchange rates with price rises and the chance of more problems will not be welcome to resellers or users.

Gartner is hoping that with the benefit of its warnings the industry can deal with the challenges and try to mitigate some of the impact.

The other headache that the analyst house has identified is the move away from physical servers towards hosted cloud services. The trend is helping the data centre market return to growth after being in a negative position in 2016, but it is hitting some of the established hardware brands.

“Enterprises are moving away from buying servers from the traditional vendors and instead renting server power in the cloud from companies such as Amazon, Google and Microsoft. This has created a reduction in spending on servers which is impacting the overall data center system segment,” said Lovelock.

Breaking down the forecast further there will be a dip in IT services, coming in at 2.3 percent in 2017, compared to 3.6 percent a year earlier.

On the hardware front the tablet demand will continue to wane but those selling Windows 10 business PCs will continue to enjoy growth as more customers invest in that technology.

VMware partners rub paws as the outfit buys Wavefront

vmware-partner-link-bg-w-logoIn what is being seen as good news for VMware’s partners, the outfit has decided to buy Wavefront.

For those who came in late Wavefront, makes multi-cloud monitoring and management technology on the application level.

This is seen as good news for VMware partners who can now offer a live-streaming look at all of the data from the cloud and from the applications in the cloud including user behaviour.

It can also handle a multi-cloud strategy to turn VMware into a cross-cloud management platform.

It should reassure customers about the risk of their cloud based strategy. VMware is effectively claiming to be able to monitor that entire cloud application delivery experience right down to the end-user behaviour.

VMware revealed its plan to acquire the Palo Alto, Calif.-based startup Wednesday. Wavefront, named to CRN’s 10 Coolest Big Data Startups of 2016, develops a cloud-hosted, real-time analytics platform that monitors and manages cloud applications. It provides monitoring to optimise clouds and modern applications by delivering insight using millions of data points per second in real time.

Wavefront’s metric monitoring for applications complements VMware’s vRealize Operations platform for monitoring, troubleshooting and capacity planning across virtual environments, according to VMware. Wavefront also will complement VMware’s vRealize Network Insight and vRealize Log Insight products.

Ajay Singh, senior vice president and general manager of VMware’s Cloud Management Business Unit claimed that VMware set the standard for monitoring virtual environments with VMware vRealize Operations platform, and will set the standard for cross-cloud and modern application monitoring with Wavefront.

Huawei goes after public cloud market

huawei-liveChinese smartphone maker Huawei has announced that it will compete with Amazon and Alibaba as a global provider of public cloud services.

The Shenzhen-based outfit said it will expand in cloud computing with a dedicated division that will recruit 2,000 more people this year.

President of the new unit, Zheng Yelai, said that Huawei used to focus on private cloud and did well.

“Now the purpose is to strengthen our public cloud offering.”

Consultancy Gartner expects the market for public cloud services to reach $383 billion by 2020 from $247 billion in this year.

Huawei hopes to continue developing software-based revenue at a time of slowing growth in smartphone sales and reduced spending on telecommunication infrastructure.

In China, its biggest rival is Alibaba Cloud, while the latest market entrant is conglomerate Dalian Wanda Group Co Ltd in partnership with Big Blue.

Huawei deputy chairman Eric Xu said the company’s global network of telecoms clients give the firm a unique advantage.

“I believe we can build upon our advantages accumulated over the years,” Xu said, referring to carrier partnerships in Europe and a strong presence in developing countries. Compete and coexist with AWS and Microsoft, I believe that is the trend we are going to see.” Xu said.

Xu also said Huawei would not compete for market share by offering services at extremely low prices.

“Our strategic focus will be on our telecom partners’ cloud transformation”,  Xu said.