Category: News

Microsoft strikes back on Surface claims

fightSoftware King of the World, Microsoft, has hit back at Consumer Report claims that its Surface tablets are so badly made that they cannot last longer than a couple of years.

Consumer report said that it refuses to endorse any of Microsoft’s laptops due to ‘two-year breakage rates of 25 percent’.

Consumer Reports said in an article that it was removing its ‘recommended’ status from four of Microsoft’s Surface devices – Surface Laptop (128GB and 256GB) and Surface Book (128GB and 256GB) – after its research found that 25 percent of owners will experience problems in the first two years.

It said it would not be recommending any of Microsoft’s Surface devices because the estimated breakage rate for its laptops and tablets was higher than most other brands.

“The differences were statistically significant, which is why Microsoft doesn’t meet CR’s standards for recommended products.”

Consumer Reports tested and scored the devices on a range of factors including display quality, battery life, speed and ergonomics. The data came from the assessment of over 90,000 devices purchased between 2014 and the beginning of 2017.

It also applies to the Surface Pro, although Consumer Reports did praise the gear for its performance.

Microsoft was cross and claimed that the products’ fail rates are far lower than CR’s estimates.

Writing in his bog, the Volish corporate vice president of devices Panos Panay said: “While we respect Consumer Reports, we disagree with their findings. Surface has had quite a journey over the last few years, and we have learned a lot.

“In the Surface team we track quality constantly, using metrics that include failure and return rates. Both our predicted one-to-two-year failure and actual return rates for Surface Pro 4 and Surface Book are significantly lower than 25 percent.

“Additionally, we track other indicators of quality such as incidents per unit, which have improved from generation to generation and are now at record lows of well below one percent.”

The Surface family hit the headlines in June when Greenpeace and iFixit scored both Microsoft’s Surface Book and Surface Pro 5 one out of 10 for reparability mostly because it was glued together and impossible to fix without destroying.

Bedlock offers high margin CloudView channel programme.

cloud1RedLock has been telling its partners about its CloudView channel programme, which, it claims, offers high margins and support.

The programme seeks to discuss end user concerns of data stored in the public cloud being accessible to hackers, specifically in the public sector while giving partners the resources they need.

The company said recent breaches involving information hosted in the public cloud have heightened security concerns among enterprises. RedLock’s own research found that 82 percent of public cloud databases are unencrypted.

The theory is that the adoption of public cloud infrastructure will grow exponentially in the coming years, organisations need a cloud-native approach to protect an environment that’s constantly changing.

RedLock believes helping the channel take advantage of this opportunity is vital to at least abating the threat of public cloud infrastructure hacks, and as a result, it will focus on the channel for its business rather than direct sales.

David McCaw, RedLock director of sales for its west division said: “We’re excited to launch the CloudView channel programme and work with leading partners to enable organisations across the globe to holistically secure their public cloud environments.”

“With companies adopting resources from multiple pubic cloud providers, and as the adoption of cloud infrastructure by the business is outpacing the security organisation’s ability to keep up, it has never been more important to gain a complete view of security and compliance risks,” he added.

Redcentric CEO quits

522939308_1280x720The CEO of Redcentric has resigned in the middle of the company’s issues with its legacy accounting.

Fraser Fisher will step down in 31 December 2017 so that he can provide a handover with his yet-to-be appointed successor.

The company’s share price has fallen by two thirds last November after it warned it would have to write down historic profits after discovering “misstated accounting balances” in its balance sheet.

Redcentric said in June that it had put a “challenging period” behind it after hitting revised financial targets, with annual revenue reaching £104.6 million.

In February, the firm became the sole supplier on a significant contract which forms part of the Health and Social Care Network, which replaces the N3 national private network.

According to a stock exchange notification, Fisher is leaving to “pursue other interests”.

Redcentric chairman Chris Cole said: “On behalf of the board, I would like to thank Fraser for his loyal service to the company for the past 14 years and for his leadership of the business in the recent difficult times and wish him well for the future.”

Competition expected to be tough in global hyperconverged market

this-will-probably-not-end-wellKey players in the global hyperconverged integrated systems market are expected to be at each others’ throats in the coming years.

According to Transparency Market Research (TMR) beancounters the key players in the market will start to complete rather ruthlessly.

This includes Nutanix, Pivot3, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Scale Computing, VMware, Inc., Simplivity Corporation, Cisco, Oracle, NetApp Inc., Fujitsu and Huawei.

The global hyperconverged integrated system market is highly fragmented due to the rapid rise of the sector and is likely to witness steady entry of numerous new players in the near future. The competition in the market is thus likely to escalate steadily over the coming years.

The market will continue to grow and is likely to rise to a valuation of close to US$31 billion by 2025. The market was valued at US$1.5 billion in 2016 and is expected to exhibit a robust 37.3 percent CAGR between 2017 and 2025.

The global hyperconverged integrated system market is divided by application into the healthcare sector, the government sector, education, entertainment and gaming, BFSI, hospitality, and cloud service providers.

The healthcare sector’s contribution to the hyperconverged integrated system market is likely to exhibit a rapid 41.7 percent CAGR between 2017 and 2025, due primarily to the growing adoption of digital information storage mechanisms in the healthcare sector in developed countries.

Growing use of smartphone-based technology for patient interaction is likely to be a key driver for the global hyperconverged integrated system market in the coming years, the report said.

Most of the action will be seen in North America, however, Europe and Asia Pacific are both likely to outpace the North America market for hyperconverged integrated systems, with the Europe market expected to exhibit a robust 43.8 percent CAGR in the given period and the Asia Pacific hyperconverged integrated system market expected to exhibit 42.9 percent.


Carbon Black slams claims that it is a data leaker

leakCarbon Black has hit back at US reseller DirectDefense claims its Cb Response product leaks customer data.

DirectDefense president Jim Broome claimed that his staff had been able to harvest data from several Cb Response customers thanks to the fact that files uploaded by Cb Response customers had been forwarded to a cloud-based multiscanner.

Broome has since gone on to clarify that his firm “strongly believes” in cloud-based multiscanners, he said they operate as for-profit businesses that spread files to “anyone who wants them and is willing to pay”.

He added that the problem was not isolated to CarbonBlack.

“Additionally, it is imminently likely that there are other EDR sources and products to exploit (perhaps even other keys being used by Carbon Black’s solutions and even other vendors)”, he wrote. “Over the last couple of years, there have been over 50 EDR companies launched, and likely, some of them may follow the same inspection model as Carbon Black.”

However, Carbon Black co-founder and CTO Michael Viscuso said that using a cloud-based multiscanner is an optional feature in Cb Response that is turned off by default. The feature allows customers to share information with external sources for additional ability to detect threats.

“Cloud-based multiscanners are one of the most popular threat-analysis services that enterprise customers opt into. These multiscanners allow security professionals to scan unknown or suspicious binaries with multiple AV products,” Viscuso wrote.

“Cb Response has a feature that allows customers to send their unknown or suspicious binaries to these cloud-based multiscanners (specifically VirusTotal) automatically. We allow customers to opt into these services and inform them of the privacy risks associated with sharing. Our products are not dependent on these services.”

Reynold and Reynolds scores Caffyns deal

article-1320724-0B9FA152000005DC-52_468x424Reynolds and Reynolds  today announced that Caffyns , one of the largest motor dealer groups in the south-east of England has installed  its Contact Advantage at 12 of their sites across Sussex and Kent.

Contact Advantage software enables dealerships and manufacturers to capture and synchronise more of their customer data and streamline more of their communications in the vehicle purchase process.

By installing Contact Advantage in their dealerships, Caffyns will integrate their CRM Showroom system and the POWER Dealership Management System (DMS).

Adele Feeney, Managing Director for Reynolds said that  Contact Advantage and POWER help dealers operate more efficiently and profitably, and improve the customer experience in all areas.

With Contact Advantage, dealers have a single point of data entry that results in real-time, accurate reporting information for management, and can enjoy complete transparency throughout the sales process to better manage leads, enquiries, and follow-ups.

In addition, Contact Advantage offers a suite of mobile applications enabling dealerships to take their customers through the entire sales process – including model selection, colour and specification configuration, pricing and order forms – all in one simple-to-use interactive process. It is also an iPad based application that allows sales people increased mobility.

Simon Caffyn, Managing Director at Caffyns said:  “We chose to invest in Contact Advantage as it offers us the complete package,” said. “We have enjoyed a long-term relationship with Reynolds as a POWER DMS user for many years. Now, we enjoy the completeness of integration between these two systems, from the initial enquiry to the order form.”

Cisilion gets HMV contract

HMV_NewcastleReseller Cisilion will be helping HMV sort out its network.

Cisilion will deploy Cisco Meraki’s software-defined wide area network (SD-WAN) across the sites, with the cloud networking product promising an easier-to-use infrastructure.

HMV Darren Houghton, IT head  said that by partnering with Cisilion, HMV will now have a private, fully managed network, accelerating growth and allowing more flexibility to help HMV achieve our goals of modernising our retail sites.

“Not only are we reducing costs by moving from legacy MPLs to internet based connectivity, but the Cisco Meraki SD-WAN solution will also allow us to add monitoring and surveillance on top of the solution, increasing security levels across all our sites.”

Alex Hooper, CTO at Cisilion, said the firm is cock-a-hoop about expanding its retail portfolio through the HMV deal.

“We are seeing increased demand for modernising expensive and complicated legacy WANs to enable cost-effective transformation and expansion,” he said.

The network will be deployed in October 2017 to be finished just in time for the peak Christmas trading period.


Manchester IT consultants shut down for Google scam

arrest machesterA Manchester-based IT consultancy firm has been shut down after an investigation by the Insolvency Service found it “pretended to be Google” to fraudulently make over £500,000.

Movette Limited, trading as Online Content Management Services and OCMS, sold a service managing ‘Google My Business’ listings for clients, charging between £199 and £249 for a 12-month subscription.

Google My Business lets companies list their services on Google, so they appear when people search for related services in their area, but the Google service was free.

Movette sold its management services to unwitting customers by “stating or implying that it represented or was affiliated with Google when in reality there was no such relationship”, according to the Insolvency Service.

The firm had been reported to various regulatory bodies, including City of London Police’s Action Fraud, over its two-and-a-half-year existence.  This was the second go at the fraud, it tried the same trick as a company called Online Platform Management, was wound up in 2015. The company’s records show it received fees totalling £537,000.

Colin Cronin, the investigation supervisor with the Insolvency Service, said: “Movette used deceptive methods to persuade customers to sign up for its service, including stating or implying that it represented or was connected to Google.

“The company then made it difficult for customers to extract themselves from rolling contracts and used debt collection methods which were coercive and intimidatory. These proceedings show that the Insolvency Service will take firm action against companies which operate in this manner.”

OCMS was wound up on 28 July, with the Official Receiver being appointed liquidator.

Exertis names Rik Hubbard commercial and services director

Rik_HubbardExertis has announced the appointment of Rik Hubbard as its mobile commercial and services director.

Hubbard will be working with the sales and purchasing teams to boost the performance of the division’s market leading vendors across the consumer and business to business areas.

He also has to build on the opportunity to launch a range of device-focused services from trade-in, repair and refurbishment to finance and service contracts, following the recent announcement of the MTR Group acquisition.

Hubbard will report to Exertis mobile director Simon Woodman, who said: “Rik is joining our team at an exciting time for the mobile division. He brings a wealth of experience having worked for a major vendor and a leading telco and internet service provider.

“We have opportunities to grow in the main areas of our business with a superb portfolio of products and solutions to offer our customers. We are now also in an excellent position to enhance our entanglement still further with our vendor partners and clients by providing additional services to support their business. Rik will play a fundamental role in helping us to achieve that.”

Hubbard is a chartered accountant with almost twenty years’ experience in the telco industry, and joins from Samsung where he was head of commercial finance and financial services for five years.

When he was there he helped launch the S7 Upgrade programme which was the UK’s first manufacturer backed handset upgrade scheme. Before that, he spent a similar period at Three in a variety of commercial roles.

Hubbard was very positive on his appointment, saying: “Providing services that add value are fundamental to being successful in technology distribution. I am delighted to have joined Exertis, a company at the forefront of mobile distribution with an outstanding product and solutions portfolio, and one with the drive and ambition to look for and add complementary services that make a positive contribution to revenue and profit for partners and customers. I look forward to building on this success and working with a vibrant, award-winning team.”


Companies avoid sales tech as if it were a German egg

135a4c22c3cNearly half of companies are avoiding investing in tech for sales teams because it costs too much.

Beancounters at CITE Research found that 48 percent of businesses did not want to shell out cash on new tech because it was too pricey. More than 63 percent of UK firms spent at least £1,200 on technology annually per sales representative to equip them with the right tools to do their jobs effectively.

The survey of 400 sales executives in the United States and the United Kingdom was conducted to define what technology stack a modern sales team uses. Apparently this includes smart phones, laptops, CRM systems and web meeting platforms.

Nearly a quarter of respondents said they spend at least £2,400 per sales employee.

The research also highlighted a lack of confidence and expertise in installing new technology, with 34 percent admitting to being worried about the complexity of introducing new tech systems – and 20 percent concerned about a lack of skills in using the tools.

The survey revealed concerns about keeping pace with digital transformation. More than 63 percent of firms said they were worried about the cost and effort needed to maintain systems up to date and more than two-thirds (69 percent) worried about staff training. Other hurdles to tech deployment include cultural challenges, with 34 percent of organisations citing ‘resisting change’ as the main reason for avoiding new tech investment.

The report confirms earlier findings and seem to indicate that some organisations are willing to spend money, but many are in the experimental phase. Other than CRM, organisations are dabbling in a variety of other tools in a trial and error period to decide what is critical for sales people to be more efficient.

The study showed that CRM is still the most frequently deployed tool for sales teams, with 70 per cent of organisations saying they use the technology.

Home Office wants help on Amazon public cloud

parliamentThe Home Office is looking for a partner to move one of its systems to Amazon Web Services (AWS).

According to an ad posted on the Government’s Digital Marketplace, the Home Office wants three suppliers to bid for a six month contract to move its Digital Capabilities to the public cloud.

“The HO Digital Capabilities programme deals with a significant amount of data and our current hosting provider has reached its potential… Home Office has determined that the in-house Amazon Web Service platform is the most appropriate location to run these services,” the advert says.

The Home Office wants to solve its migration problems of putting all its digital services on the new platform within the period and with minimal disruption to the live service. It  wants a supplier to provide solutions architects and developers to build the new AWS environment and provide a seamless switch to the new platform.

The closing date for applications is 17 August, with the start date pencilled in for no later than 9 October. The contract can be extended for a further three months if required.

Government is expected to be a big spender looking at AWS, Azure and Google (now that the search engine outfit has announced its UK datacentres).


KCOM fined £900,000

marina-hullA network failure which meant that Hull residents could not dial 999 calls for four hours has cost the outfit responsible £900,000.

KCOM was investigated by Ofcom after residents in the Hull area could not connect 999 calls between around 21:58 on 27 December and 1:43 on the following day.

The supplier provides the phone and broadband network for most of the Hull area, was reprimanded by Ofcom after the regulatory body found “a serious weakness” in the firm’s emergency call services.

Gaucho Rasmussen, Ofcom’s enforcement and investigations director, said: “Ofcom rules mean that people must be able to call the emergency services around the clock.

“Any failure to connect 999 calls is extremely serious. Today’s fine serves as a clear warning to the telecoms industry that it must prioritise access to the emergency services, no matter what the circumstances.”

Storm Eva in 2015 on the day of the incident meant that a BT telephone exchange in York, which connected calls from KCOM’s network to the emergency services through BT, had flooded. KCOM had contingency plans in place, but these relied on the same exchange being operational.

There were more than 74 calls to the emergency services, from 34 telephone numbers which failed to connect through the four-hour period.

Ofcom acknowledged that KCOM had addressed the problem within two hours of discovering it, but said the firm still warranted a fine that “reflects the seriousness of the breach and its impact on public health and safety”.

In a statement sent to CRN KCOM said: “We recognise the critical importance of providing our customers with uninterrupted access to emergency call services and take that responsibility extremely seriously.

“During Storm Eva in 2015 the loss of our 999 service was a result of a single point of failure in another operator’s exchange in York.

“Our emergency call services are managed through long-standing external outsourcing arrangements. In establishing them, we sought to ensure diverse and resilient routing which Ofcom has acknowledged in its findings.

“We’re very sorry this happened and immediately after the incident we ensured steps were taken to remove this network vulnerability.”

White box servers are bucking the industry trend

9100-w_cube-favor-boxes476fe5f55ab9e9fbdd0d91e1da43bb0aWhile the server market is in the doledrums, white box servers are doing really well, according to beancounters at IDC.

The white box server market is growing and the IDC numbers from IDC merely serve to reinforce the point, with the revelation that the ODM Direct group of vendors grew revenue by 41.8 percent in the first quarter to $1.2 billion, accounting for 10.4 percent of the market, at a time when overall server revenues declined by 4.6 percent.

Gartner research director Adrian O’Connell found something similar – while there was a global decline of 4.5 percent in server revenues in the same period, revenues in the “others” category rose 4.4 percent. He wrote that leading server vendors are doing all they can to ensure that service providers don’t continue to shift their server purchases toward ODM suppliers.

“Combined with the significant inroads made by China-based suppliers, we expect to see continuing challenges and downward price pressure across the EMEA server market for some time to come,” he said.

HPE struck a deal with Foxconn to sell white box-like servers to cloud and telco providers three years ago. But CEO Meg Whitman recently admitted that server sales had been affected by declining orders from a single customer – probably Microsoft.

Supermicro is one of the key white box venders. In February, it was believed that Chipzilla was the unnamed customer in a deal for more than 30,000 Supermicro servers for a data centre in Silicon Valley.

Micro datacentres are growing

maxresdefaultThe director and senior boffin at Schneider Electric’s Data Center claims that micro datacentres on the edge of the network are the next big thing.

Victor Avelar said that infrastructure vendors are providing self-contained prefabricated and highly integrated pods that allow small data centres to be deployed quickly, reliably and cost effectively.

The idea can be combined to form the larger IT facilities many organisations require as their needs grow, but who cannot afford the larger up-front costs of building a new traditional, or purpose built data centre.

He cited a new white paper from Schneider Electric with the catchy title of “Cost Benefit Analysis of Edge Micro Data Centre Deployments”. He said that it proves why micro datacentres are best suited to support edge computing over other alternatives such as server rooms and traditional builds.

Small prefabricated and integrated, micro datacentres benefit from scalability, speed of deployment, reliability and fulfil the desire to outsource applications to the cloud or colocation facilities.

Key technology drivers enabling the miniaturisation of datacentres include: compaction of IT equipment—led by ever more powerful and smaller silicon chips, all IT components from processing elements and networking equipment to storage arrays are becoming smaller; hyper convergence – which allows several subsystems, including processor elements, networking technology, disks and solid-state mass storage to be integrated into a single enclosure; and virtualisation which allows a single element to run many different applications simultaneously.

If some of the 200 micro datacentres are geographically located away from the others, network latency might be affected and there may therefore be some instances when the purpose-built approach, with all the IT in the same location may be preferable, Avelar said.


Former Incisive Media boss dies

Dame-Helen-Alexander-300x231Dame Helen Alexander, a former chairman of Incisive Media and the first female president of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), has died following a long battle with cancer. She was 60.

She was chairman of Incisive Media between October 2009 and December 2014 and played a key role in the development of the business.

Dame Alexander held a number of influential business roles during her career including chief executive of The Economist Group between 1997 and 2008, and board roles at Rolls-Royce and Centrica. She also led the CBI between 2009 and 2011 in the wake of the financial crisis.

Throughout her career, Dame Alexander was seen as a trailblazer for women in business. Alongside Sir Philip Hampton, she headed the Hampton Alexander Review, which focused on boosting the role of women in senior business positions.

Among her many roles, Oxford-educated Dame Helen was a non-executive director of PA Group, parent company of the Press Association, and at BT Group and Huawei UK.

 The Economist described her as “self-effacing but a world-class networker”, and said that business had “no better ambassador”.

“Her success owed much to a leadership style that lacked fireworks and did not seek fame, but deserved more recognition, for both its humanity and effectiveness,” the newspaper said in an article on its website.