Author: Nick Farrell

Capita does a U turn

4e1c55e8ea626edb781355e5ac47ca51--small-cars-naples-italyCapita’s IT services division managed to turn itself round in the first half of this year and get back to black. However, the rest of the company is not looking so hot.

Overall Capita business saw an underlying revenue decline of three percent to £2.07 billion.

The drop in revenue saw Capita’s share price fall by over 11 percent on the London Stock Exchange.

Underlying operating profit however jumped 38 percent to £228.4 million, attributed to “a significant improvement” in the IT services division.

CEO Andy Parker stepped down last week to spend more time with his family just before the news was announced.

Nick Greatorex, interim CEO at Capita, said: “In the first half of 2017, we made good progress on executing the plans laid out at the end of last year to reposition the group.

“We announced the sale of our asset services businesses, completed the disposal of our specialist recruitment business and commenced a number of cost initiatives.

“We remain confident that these actions are making Capita a simpler business, well positioned for the future under new leadership.”

Despite the broader business struggling, Capita was optimistic about the turnaround of its IT services division.

The IT division was held responsible for Capita’s first ever profit warning last year, and was a key factor in Parker announcing his departure in March after the outsourcer’s full-year profits fell £100 million  in 2016.

However in H1 Capita saw revenue for the division up 13.6 percent to £273.9 million

Capita said: “The turn-around of our IT services division progressed better than expected, following restructuring of the management team and operating model, but we continued to be impacted by weakness in a number of discretionary services.

“We improved our major contract win rate in a relatively subdued business process management market in the public sector.”

IoT adopters need systems integrators

fings-ain-t-wot-they-used-t-be-all-star-studio-cast-recordingEnterprises wanting to build end-to-end Internet of Things (IoT) solutions are increasingly turning to System Integrators (SIs) as partners.

ABI Research forecasts that IoT system integration and consulting revenues will grow past US$35.7 billion in 2022 from just under US$17 billion in 2017 at a CAGR of 16.1 percent. SI specialists address the challenges the IoT poses due to their vast experience integrating legacy systems into end-to-end solutions, their knowledge of the IoT landscape and players in the market, and their existing relationships with enterprises and end-users. That’s what it reckons.

“The core responsibility of a system integrator is to fill the gap between solution providers and targeted market verticals”,  said Ryan Harbison, Research Analyst at ABI Research. “As such, SIs have a deep knowledge not only of enterprise pain points and issues, but also of specific applications and the business as a whole.”

SIs are becoming essential partners in many IoT partner program ecosystems due to their expertise in integrating IoT solutions across specific vertical markets and regions. SIs range from global system integrators (GSIs) and consultancies like Accenture, Deloitte, and PricewaterhouseCoopers to IT service system integrators like IBM and HP. GSIs like Accenture have stayed ahead of the curve in IoT primarily by addressing client demand for connected solutions and by understanding the value behind enterprise digital transformation and technology convergence. Technology services providers such as Altimetrik and Leverege have delivered value to their clients by offering extensive knowledge and expertise within particular vertical market segments.

“End-users are less concerned with the features of a various device or software platform and are more concerned with how their IoT solutions work as a whole to truly become a system of systems,” concludes Harbison. “Enterprises looking to develop IoT solutions may not contact hardware or software vendors and instead rely on the advice of a SI to navigate the marketplace to find solution components that deliver a full solution. Moving forward, it’s crucial for software and hardware providers to develop deep relationships with a range of SIs that provide vertical-specific solutions to end-users.”

These findings are from ABI Research’s Role of System Integrators in M2M and IoT report. This report is part of the company’s M2M, IoT & IoE research service, which includes research, data, and analyst insights.

Microsoft larging it in Manchester

934604c61e26727fe609989426d9af77--car-parks-manchester-englandMicrosoft has opened a new office in Manchester, in a move which it says will give it a “strong base” to work with northern partners.

The office in Charlotte Street will be occupied by 100 Microsoft Voles and used as a collaboration space for partners and customers, Microsoft said.

Derrick McCourt, general manager of Microsoft’s UK customer success unit said that Manchester was  important to Microsoft.

“We have a long-standing relationship built on common values, including industry, creativity and caring about people.

“We see the region as a core part of our strategy. This office is a commitment to the area and our customers, business partners here and in the north. It’s also a commitment to the UK economy, and we are passionate about the role that technology plays in this country.”

The new office becomes Microsoft’s fourth in the UK, adding to its current bases in London, Edinburgh and its headquarters in Reading.

Gemalto finds bigger breaches on the rise

hqdefaultSecurity vendor Gemalto claims that more data was stolen in the first half of this year than in the entirety of 2016, but the number of reported European breaches dropped 35 percent.

According to Gemalto research, over 1.9 million data records were nicked compared to just under 1.4 million in all of 2016, representing an increase of 164 percent.

The report said that the numbers of data records pinched will grow significantly, especially as government regulations in the US, Europe and elsewhere enact laws to protect the privacy and data of their constituents by associating a monetary value to improperly securing data.

“Security is no longer a reactive measure but an expectation from companies and consumers”, the report said.

Gemalto’s research found identity theft to be the leading type of data breach, accounting for 74 percent of all breaches in the first six months of this year. The number of records exposed as a result of identity theft jumped 255 percent.

North America maintained its position as the number one attack target, making up over 86 percent of both total breaches and total records stolen.

Gemalto said that North America has always seen the most declared data breaches, but said it expects that to change once the General Data Protection Regulation comes into effect next year.

In the first of half of this year European companies reported 49 data breaches, reflecting just five percent of the global total and a decline of 35 percent on the previous six months, Gemalto said.

Veritas does not think Dell’s EMC mash up was a good thing


img287110241024-580x358Dell’s merger with EMC sparked much mirth at its rival,  Veritas.

The wags at Veritas mashed up a picture of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and celebrity Kim Kardashian in the process to have a dig at Michael Dell’s efforts.

Mike Palmer, executive vice president and chief product officer at Veritas, used his keynote address to talk about “data monsters” and displayed six such ‘monsters’ on the big screen: Mike and Sully from Monsters, Shrek, Frankenstein’s monster, Stripe from Gremlins, the Night King from Game of Thrones and finally an image which blended the faces of Kim Jong-un and Kim Kardashian.

He said that it had created each ‘monster’ to demonstrate a different type of data threat. For Mike and Sully, Palmer said: “Some monsters learn how to add value in society, such as these guys who eventually created energy through laughter”, while the likes of Stripe transformed into something evil and were “not as well intentioned”.

The Jong-un-Kardashian mash-up was all about Dell and EMC. “I got this from Dell EMC. They went to the Kim Jong-un school of sales training, realised that sort of dictatorial hardware image isn’t what they wanted, so they mashed it up with Kim Kardashian and that is what we got.”

Greater Manchester Police still depend on ancient Windows

21571595686_452fb147ff_bOne in five of the Greater Manchester Police  computers are still running Windows XP.

Greater Manchester Police told the BBC that 1,518 of its PCs ran the ageing operating system, representing 20.3 percent of all the office computers it used.
Microsoft ended nearly all support for the operating system in 2014. Experts say its use could pose a hacking risk.

Greater Manchester Police said it was reducing its reliance on XP “continually” presumably every time that smoke starts pouring out the back of a PC.

“The remaining XP machines are still in place due to complex technical requirements from a small number of externally provided highly specialised applications”, a spokeswoman told the BBC.

“Work is well advanced to mitigate each of these special requirements within this calendar year, typically through the replacement or removal of the software applications in question.”

Cleveland Police said it had seven computers running XP, representing 0.36 percent of the total.

The Police Service of Northern Ireland said it had five PCs still running XP, representing 0.05 percent of the total.

The Civil Nuclear Constabulary said it had fewer than 10 computers in operation running Windows XP, representing less than one percent of the total, but it added none of them was on its live network.

Gwent Police, North Wales Police, Lancashire Constabulary, Wiltshire Police and City of London Police all said they had no computers running XP.

London’s Metropolitan Police Service  refused to say how many PCs were running XP, but in June it said about 10,000 of its desktop computers were still running XP.

Veritas cuddles up to Microsoft

friends15Veritas’ Las Vegas conference showed how close the outfit has got to Microsoft Azure.

Mike Palmer, executive vice president and chief product officer at Veritas, told the assorted throngs at the firm’s Veritas Vision conference that its customers are adopting cloud at an “unprecedented pace”, but Veritas customers are finding it tricky.

“Those customers have a legacy of applications, many of which were built 20 or 30 years ago and eventually evolved. Now they are moving into the public cloud, but they are struggling with how to make that pivot”, he said.

“These struggles include how to build native applications and how to manage deploying applications in a global environment. They also continue to struggle with visibility of data, particularly around data which is regulated.”

Palmer said regulations such as GDPR are seeing companies need to form data retention policies where in the past they had data deletion policies.

“Our customers are struggling and we know that all the technology transformation that is happening is driving a lot of these concerns, but that is also driving a lot of opportunity for us and our partners”, added Palmer.

However, the conference also heard how close Veritas was getting to Microsoft. Mark Russinovich, CTO of Microsoft Azure at Microsoft, claimed the partnership with Veritas worked due to the vendors’ joint understanding of the enterprise space.

“We are working closely with Veritas around the integration of its technology with Azure so they can produce a high-performing and secure product. We have go-to-market plans together and we also have mutual channels that work together.”

Veritas has announced 360 data management expansions for Veritas and Microsoft Azure customers. These include plans for business continuity and disaster-recovery readiness, hybrid cloud scale-out storage optimisation and data visualisation across disparate sources.


UK Civil Service falling behind in cloud adoption

hero-33008Despite the myths, the UK government is not so well organised when it comes to cloud adoption according to a new report.

Beancounters at Cloud Industry Forum (CIF) and UKCloud have added up some numbers and discovered that the public sector has a fair way to go to really claim it is committed to using hosted services.

This finding is against the common perception that the public sector was an example of a market that has embraced cloud.

The reports findings show that there is much more to be done to get hosted services being used more widely.

CIF and UKCloud have revealed that a lack of leadership and problems getting hold of skilled staff have meant that apart from engaging with some easy projects the vast majority of the public sector has not got very far on its cloud journey.

CIF findings were fairly encouraging in terms of 82 per cent of public sector organisations having adopted cloud services, which was up from 62 percent last year.

But adoption remains fairly shallow and when pressed those quizzed for the research came up with several reasons why they had been holding back, including budget, an aversion to risk and not having access to skilled staff.

CIF chief executive Alex Hilton said that the take-up of cloud computing within the UK public sector has been a story of consistent growth, and the overall adoption rate of has more than doubled since we first started charting the cloud market seven years ago.

“This growth is thanks, in no small part, to the efforts of the Government Digital Service (GDS) to accelerate the sector’s move to digital services and the launch of G-Cloud,” he said.

“But while comfort with cloud is clearly increasing, and public sector organisations are achieving a wide range of benefits as a result of their use of cloud services, for many organisations, penetration cloud services remains relatively shallow,” he added.

UKCloud CEO Simon Hansford, who criticised the public sector for sticking to low hanging fruit.

“Many of the migrations that we have seen to date in the public sector have targeted the so-called low hanging fruit – typically virtualised applications that can simply and easily be shifted into the cloud. While this is a good start, to unlock the full potential of cloud and digital transformation, organisations need to tackle the complexity inherent in many processes, overcome the cultural barriers to adoption and seek to breach departmental silos,” he said.

“In many areas, this will require them to rethink the way that services are delivered and then truly embrace an agile, cloud-native approach while radically changing their internal operations. I hope that, with the right assistance from the industry, we will see more progress along this path when we come to reveal next year’s research findings”, he added.

Cloud giants headed towards per-millisecond billing

grandpa_simpson_yelling_at_cloudThe cloudy giants like Amazon, Microsoft and Google are moving towards per-millisecond billing.

Microsoft and Google already have adopted the billing method and now Amazon has gone the same way – at least for some of its services.

Amazon’s move to introduce per-second billing for some of its services forms part of a wider industry trend and could inspire similar moves by other cloud players, according to partners.

The cloud giant has announced that it will begin billing some forms of Linux instance of its EC2 and EBS services in one-second increments, bringing it into line with public cloud rivals Microsoft Azure and Google.

Amazon’s partners were happy as it seems to be part of an inexorable trend towards ‘per-millisecond’ pricing in the cloud world.

The feeling is that the world will get used to the idea and other cloud companies to follow this trend.

AWS will be able to provide sustained usage discounts, which is one remaining area where competitors claim they are cheaper.”

It appears to customers because they can reduce their TCO for workloads in cloud which in turn increases the appeal of moving new or more workloads to it.

Per-second is very helpful when running very heavy workloads, but a lot of the very large migrations to the cloud are just datacentre migrations where the private cloud providers like IBM play.  It will be less interesting to some customers.


Microsoft’s webmail crashes and burns

il_570xN.386643874_phvgMicrosoft Outlook and Hotmail users across Europe on Monday, with many unable to access their email accounts.

Users of Outlook and Hotmail reported not being able to send or receive emails for up to 12 hours. The technology giant confirmed it was suffering from connection problems.

Vole announced that it was aware of intermittent connectivity for some users in European countries and we’re working to resolve ASAP.

The company’s service health website carried a message which read: “We’ve identified that a subset of infrastructure was unable to process requests as expected, which caused general service availability to drop unexpectedly.

“We’ve redirected requests to alternate infrastructure to restore service, and we’re monitoring the environment while connectivity recovers. Additionally, we’re investigating an issue in which users are unable to send email messages.”

According to service monitoring site, the platform began experiencing issues at around 9am, with the UK among the worst affected areas.

“Intermittent connectivity is affecting customers in some European countries, which we are working to resolve as soon as possible,” a Microsoft spokeswoman said.

#Hotmail began trending on Twitter in the UK as social media users took to the site to vent their frustration. The issue was resolved by Monday evening. Outlook has more than 400 million active users, according to Microsoft figures.

Synergy Research sees datacentre equipment spending fall

datacenterTraditional non-cloud datacentre equipment spending has plunged by 18 percent in the last two years according to new research.

Beancounters at Synergy Research have added up some numbers and divided by their collective shoe size and worked out that datacentre spending is now dominated by cloud.

Spending on public and private cloud datacentre equipment has grown to about two thirds of the total market.

Total datacentre infrastructure equipment revenues hit $30 billion in the second quarter of 2017, with public cloud infrastructure accounting for over 30 percent of the total and private cloud or cloud-enabled infrastructure accounting for over a third.

The public cloud has grown by 35 percent and private cloud by 16 percent over the last two years, traditional non-cloud datacentre hardware and software spending has dropped by 18 percent.

Synergy said the main beneficiaries of this market shift are the Asian ODMs, which in aggregate account for the largest portion of the public cloud market, its figures show. Cisco is the leading individual vendor in the public cloud space, followed by Dell EMC and HPE.

Dell EMC leads the private cloud segment followed by HPE and Microsoft, a trio which also control the declining non-cloud datacentre market.

Synergy chief analyst John Dinsdale said: cloud service revenues continued to grow by over 40 percent per year, enterprise SaaS revenue growing by over 30 percent, and search/social networking revenues growing by over 20 percent.

“It is little wonder that this is all pulling through continued strong growth in spending on public cloud infrastructure. While some of this is essentially spend resulting from new services and applications, a lot of the increase also comes at the expense of enterprises investing in their own datacentres. One outcome is that public cloud build is enabling strong growth in ODMs and white-box solutions, so the datacentre infrastructure market is becoming ever more competitive,” he said.

CCS scraps £3 billion framework due to bidding process error

parliamentCrown Commercial Service (CCS) has scrapped a Lot on a £3 billion framework because there was an ‘error’ during the bidding process.

The eight-lot Management Consultancy framework should have seen Lots 1-3 go live in July, with Lots 4-8 slated to follow in October.

However, Lot 1 – which specifically covers business consultancy services – was delayed and did not go live with Lots 2 and 3.

CCS has said that Lot 1 will not be awarded because there had been a “construct error” which meant that the bidding process “did not adequately assess the bidders’ quality of delivery to the level required”.

The framework, initially expected to be worth between £2- £3 billion was supposed to offer a range of services to government bodies in areas including HR, education, IT and infrastructure.

A CCS spokesperson said that it was important that to offer a service that would meet all of our customers’ needs now and in the future.

“To address this, we are running a further procurement exercise with a broader scope. A new prior information notice – Management Consultancy Framework Two – has now been issued as part of our ongoing engagement with suppliers. The intention is to award this framework in 2018.”

Lots 2 and 3 of the framework have gone live as planned, with Lots 4 through to 8 set to go live in October. Suppliers already awarded a spot include Capita and Accenture. While the Management Consultancy framework is for broader business services, Lot 8 is specifically for IT and digital services.

Kaspersky’s partners back the security outfit

40153923-1-kaspersky1Kaspersky has seen a flood of support from its distributers after the US government ordered its departments to remove all of its products within 90 days.

The US government’s Department of Homeland Security (DHS) yesterday released a statement saying the use of Kaspersky products carried “information security risks” to the government.

“The Department is concerned about the ties between certain Kaspersky officials and Russian intelligence and other government agencies, and requirements under Russian law that allow Russian intelligence agencies to request or compel assistance from Kaspersky and to intercept communications transiting Russian networks”,  the statement read.

“The risk that the Russian government, whether acting on its own or in collaboration with Kaspersky, could capitalise on access provided by Kaspersky products to compromise federal information and information systems directly implicates US national security.”

DHS also claimed that Russian law allows its intelligence services to “request or compel assistance from Kaspersky and to intercept communications transiting Russian networks”.

Kaspersky has denied any connection to the Russian government since July when Bloomberg claimed to have seen emails proving the vendor had been working with the Kremlin.

Bloomberg saw emails between founder Eugene Kaspersky and senior Kaspersky staff, discussing a cybersecurity project that was in development for the Russian FSB intelligence agency.

Kaspersky said it was disappointed with the US government’s decision.

“No credible evidence has been presented publicly by anyone or any organisation as the accusations are based on false allegations and inaccurate assumptions, including claims about the impact of Russian regulations and policies on the company. Kaspersky Lab has always acknowledged that it provides appropriate products and services to governments”, Kaspersky added.

Kaspersky’s distributors agree, saying that the whole thing has the smell of anti-Russian politics rather than meaningful security problems.

Dave Stevinson, managing director at Kaspersky partner GNR, said the US’ decision is driven by political motives, rather than technological motives.

“In my opinion, this is a political issue and unfortunately for Kaspersky they’ve been used as a pawn in Trump’s game against Russia,” he said.

Resellers say that in Europe there has been no reluctance from partners or customers to continue using Kaspersky products.

One ace card that Kaspersky did was offer to share the source code with the US spooks. If there were Russian interference that would have been obvious from the code.

The fact that the US government refused to take it and yet locked them out of US markets is probably a sign that they were not really interested in security.

Alliance with Microsoft pays off for Citrix

Ominous Clouds over Dublin CityThe deal between Microsoft and Citrix to share each other’s cloud channel rosters is an alliance which appears to have paid off.

The pair struck up a partnership to encourage greater integration of the Citrix Cloud technology in the Azure universe. This was seen as being a bit tricky because the two have overlaps in products where they are in direct competition.

However it is turning out that the relationship between Citrix and Microsoft is bearing channel fruit for both vendors finding it is bringing some fresh resellers into the respective partner programmes.

The pair have been building a hybrid cloud offering has been the focus of the relationship.

As a result Citrix partners are being introduced to a Microsoft world of Azure and vice versa with the software giant’s channel getting the option to know the VDI player.

Justin Sutton-Parker, partner director at Northern Europe at Citrix, said that although there was some overlap between the two firms in their partner rosters there were still plenty of new names it was being introduced to.

“Lots of Microsoft partners are waking up to this and saying that this will help them”. he added “We are starting to see more Microsoft partners engage with us.”

Citrix has developed play books and put in place support to make life easier for Microsoft partners looking to add Citrix to their offerings. The vendor also recently hired a former Microsoft staffer to run its operations in this area.

“There are a healthy number of Azure partners that have not yet come to look at Citrix and these are new partner brands,  added Sutton-Parker.

Ellison swings handbag at Amazon again

539bd2ca2d098c463b2e2c984d423bcaOracle founder Larry Ellison has swung his mighty handbag of sarcasm at Amazon Web Services (AWS) again following the release of Oracle’s quarterly results.

Oracle saw its cloud revenue jump 51 percent this quarter, so he must have been feeling a bit smug.

Oracle’s cloud revenue rose to $1.5 billion – making up 16 per cent of the vendor’s overall quarterly revenue.

Ellison took a shot at public cloud giant AWS ahead of the launch of Oracle’s automated cloud database products. Ellison claimed these solutions will have downtime of less than 30 minutes a year.

“To achieve that level of reliability, Oracle has to automatically tune, patch, and upgrade itself, while the system is running. AWS can’t do any of this stuff”, he claimed.

“Perhaps the most interesting aspect of autonomous systems… [and] on our new self-driving database are the economics that surround total automation.

“Customers moving from Amazon’s Redshift [database product] to Oracle’s autonomous databases can expect to cut their cost in half or more and Oracle will be providing SLAs that guarantee those cost settings to customers that move.”

He would have been less smug about Oracle’s on-premises software still made up 65 percent of the overall $9.2 billion quarterly revenue.

In fact Oracle’s on-premises revenue was flat at $5.9 billion, but new software licensing was down six per cent to $996 million.

Oracle shareholders were less interested in Ellision’s anti-amazon digs as the outfit’s share price fell as much as five per cent following the results, reportedly as a result of weaker-than-expected guidance for Q2.

Ellison ruled out the possibility of acquisitions in the near future because “there is no one left to buy”.

“It’s not like, as we focus on the cloud, there are a bunch of obvious targets we can go out and buy. We’re seeing our best growth in technology that we have developed internally.”