Category: News

Salesforce to open UK data centre

Salesforce_Logo_2009Salesforce will be opening a European data centre, based in the UK, in collaboration with NTT Europe.

The data centre should reach completion around 2014, and it will mark Salesforce’s sixth data centre world wide. It will be used to support the company’s cloud services in the EMEA region.

CEO Marc Benioff said in a statement that Europe was the fastest growing region for the company in fiscal 2013, managing to bring in revenue growth of 38 percent. “We are doubling down on Europe,” Benioff said.

Salesforce COO Stephen Kelly praised the UK, calling it one of the world’s “greatest technology centres”. “The UK is in a strong position to support fast growing international companies such as Salesforce,” Kelly said.

At the same time, Salesforce pointed out that there has been ‘unprecedented’ growth in cloud spending throughout Europe, citing an IDC paper that predicts public cloud will grow three times faster than other IT segments for the region.

Tablet juggernaut rolls on

nexus7Worldwide tablet sales continued to surge, growing 142.4 percent in the first quarter of 2013.

According to IDC’s latest figures, tablet shipments totalled 49.2 million units in Q1, surpassing the first two quarters of 2012 combined. It seems growth is now being fuelled by smaller and cheaper devices.

Since small and cheap tablets are almost exclusively powered by Android, Google’s once fledgling mobile OS is starting to overtake Apple, and we might see a repeat of the smartphone wars. However, Apple is not going anywhere anytime soon. It still managed beat IDC’s latest projections, shipping 19.5 million iPads, 800,000 more than the original forecast and up 65.3 percent compared to a year ago. Samsung also did well, piggybacking the success of its Galaxy series phones with Galaxy branded tablets. The Korean giant shipped 8.8 million tablets, up 282.6 year-on-year. Asus shipped 2.7 million, up a whopping 350 percent in a single year.

Amazon ranked fourth, with 1.8 million units shipped and 157 percent YoY growth. Not exactly a bad result, but then again Amazon really doesn’t have much to show for all its Kindle Fire hype. Good old Microsoft sold just 900,000 Surface tablets, which are still struggling to become relevant. Worse, total Windows tablet sales, including the Surface RT, Surface Pro and all other tablets based on Windows RT and Windows 8 totalled just 1.8 million units.

The numbers clearly show that most growth is coming from Android tablets. Although Apple is still growing at an impressive pace, the market is slowly becoming saturated with inexpensive droids. The combined Android market share stands at 56.5 percent, while apple is down to 40 percent.

This is nothing new, we saw the same trend in the smartphone market a couple of years ago and it worked like a charm. By flooding the market with cheap 7- to 8-inch Android tablets, Google might pull it off in the tablet space as well, although it still has a long way to go.

Gartner believes BYOD will save the world

threeiphonesTight-arsed corporate types are planning to shift their computer hardware bill to their staff, according to analyst outfit Gartner.

In a new report, Big G have been talking up the future of Bring-your-own-device, claiming that the trend is the single most radical change to the economics and culture of client computing in a decade.

Gartner predicts that by 2017, half of all employers will require workers to supply their own devices for work purposes. What is particularly unpleasant is the enterprises will more often than not refuse to give money to help employees buy their gear.

More than 38 percent of companies expect to stop providing devices to workers by 2016 and let them use their own, according to a global survey of CIOs.

Basically it means that employees will shift the cost of buying personal computers onto their staff.

Of course, the trend will happen in the US first where employers are allowed to treat their employees like slaves or they are not being patriotic.

Big G said that companies in the United States are twice as likely to allow BYOD as those in Europe.

Companies in countries such as India, China and Brazil are already forcing their staff to buy their own standard mobile phones at work.

By 2015, the number of employees using mobile applications in the workplace will double. Today, roughly half of BYOD programs provide partial reimbursement.

Mass-market adoption of BYOD and the steady decline in carrier fees, employers will gradually reduce subsidies until they are no longer there.

Gartner’s David Willis said that the enterprise should subsidise only the service plan on a smartphone. It is better for them to keep it simple because if they buy a device for an employee and they leave it is impossible for them to settle up.

Employees are generally thought of as being happy with the plan so employers do not have to see it as a cost cutting idea.

Overseas online sales to soar to £28bn

poundsAccording to  research from OC&C Strategy Consultants and Google, British retailers could see their overseas online sales soar to £28 billion by the end of the decade.

Researchers concluded that growth in online sales will outpace domestic growth and eventually account for 40 percent of total online sales by 2020.

British retailers are already doing quite well abroad. In fact, international consumers spent £7.4 billion on British online retail sites last year, making up about 14 percent of total online sales. This year British retailers are expected to net £10 billion from cross-border sales.

OC&C Strategy Consultants and Google found that growth will come from multiple regions, with western Europea leading the way. Sales in western Europe are expected to hit £9.8 billion by 2020, up from £1.5 billion last year. Central and Eastern Europe will see plenty of growth as well, with sales reaching £6.9 billion by the end of the decade, up from £400 million last year.

Sales in Asia are expected to hit £4.5 billion by 2020, while North America will lose its position as the top market for British online retailers. The North American market is currently estimated at £800 million and it is set to expand to £2.7 billion in 2020. The American market is simply more mature than the rest of the world, which translates into slower growth.

“We have seen a significant increase in the volume of searches for British retailers and brands coming from overseas,” Peter Fitzgerald, director at Google, said. “The majority of non-UK searches are currently coming from Europe, followed by North America and Asia, driven by the increased popularity of British brands abroad. Retailers can use search data to identify pockets of demand and move quickly to meet the needs of customers.”

Anita Balchandani, partner at OC&C, said e-commerce has already transformed the retail game, which was once anchored in local markets.

“There are a number of reasons why growth in e-commerce is changing the rules of internationalisation. Firstly, geographical proximity no longer determines which market is best suited for expansion – the internet allows customers seek out the best offers from around the world,” she said. “Secondly, the nature of risk has changed. International expansion is much less capital intensive and this is creating growth opportunities which have a more controlled exposure to risk. Thirdly, the speed with which companies expand has also accelerated – over 40 of Britain’s top-100 etailers serve customers in more than 40 countries.”

Microsoft readies a Surface re-run

Microsoft SurfaceWhile Microsoft’s Surface tablets proved completely underwhelming, a report suggests that the company might have another bash at the platform.

According to Taiwanese wire Digitimes, the company is expected to announce next generation Surface machines at the end of June.

The company only managed to shift 1.5 million tablets of the first generation Surface – way beyond what it expected to achieve.   But the pricing was all wrong and the competition in this field is now very intense.

The wire claims that the second generation Surface will largely retain the same suppliers as Surface Mark I – including microprocessors from Intel and Nvidia, screens from Samsung and LG and touch panels from TPK.

The report also said that displays for Surface Mark II will be smaller – supposedly because there’s more demand for these type of devices, although it’s entirely possible that Microsoft wants to bring down the bill of materials (BOM) costs. It will certainly have to do something spectacular to make Surface tablets fly – particularly on retail costs.

Avnet intros Avnet Services

avnettsAvnet has announced Avnet Services which rolls existing Avnet operations into a single team with a single strategy, focusing on software, life cycle and education services – because it feels IT services are underrepresented in the channel.

It will continue to work with VARs, ISVs, SIs and OEMs at both point of sale and delivery, while partners are promised benefits such as extended reach and scale as well as variable cost models and extended capabilities.

Avnet Technology Solutions president Phil Gallagher boasted in a statement that IT services is expected to reach $674.9 billion but the channel is not taking advantage. He enthused that Avnet will be well positioned to take advantage of the opportunity by building a single services business with common processes and tools, that will let it deliver multiple lines of services from different business units to channel partners.

Avnet Services will primarily look at software services, such as infrastructure and application management, lifecycle services, like integration and end of life options, and education services, for example, vendor training.

Previously senior veep of Avnet Integrated, Bill Wentworth will head the team as senior veep of Avnet Services. Regional services teams will report to Wentworth, while the EMEA team will be led by Christian Magirus.

“This alignment will enhance project success and return on investment for customer deployments throughout the IT lifecycle, creating more stickiness for our partners and suppliers,” Wentworth said. “It will also extend our partners’ reach and resources with reliable service delivery offerings for their non-core service needs.”

SMBs throw cash about

google-walletSmall and medium businesses are hiring dedicated e-commerce specialists in ever growing numbers.

According to a report from Freelancer.co.uk, SMBs are realizing that they need to offer safe and convenient online services, on par with the big boys. The number of businesses hiring e-commerce experts has gone up 19 percent in the first quarter of 2013.

Freelancer spokesman Matt Barrie stressed that the high street is already facing major problems due to the e-commerce boom. He warned that plenty of major retailers have already seen their businesses disintegrate because they lacked a good online presence. Smaller outfits seem to have learned their lesson, so they are investing in e-commerce in the hope of not becoming the next Jessops or HMV.

Barrie believes that even the biggest high street players could see their businesses go down the drain if they fail to embrace online shopping. It could be good news for smaller companies, as e-commerce could level the playing field and allow them to compete with bigger outfits, without much overhead. The web allows small companies to offer their goods and services to a much larger audience, so it could be used to their advantage. 

Another aspect of the e-commerce revolution involves niche markets. Although they are diluted across the country, geography simply isn’t a limiting factor in e-commerce, which means that even tiny companies can cater to the entire niche market.

“Retail outlets are proving incapable of adjusting to a consumer base no longer geographically captive. E-commerce is dominating the consumer retail landscape,” said Barrie. “It’s no surprise that big name retailers that haven’t kept up with the online shopping revolution are increasingly going bankrupt. These high street dinosaurs are unwilling to compete, and so will soon be consigned to retail history.”

Big retail chains have all but monopolized the high street in recent years, but it seems e-commerce has the potential to reverse the trend and put independent retailers back on the map.

EC and FH talk 450mm production

georgiefameNot having a 450mm production infrastructure in Europe will “threaten the competitiveness of the current European SC manufacturing base” a study has found.

The report commissioned by the European Commission and prepared in partnership with Future Horizons focused on the impact of 450mm manufacturing. It found that European suppliers contribute nearly 25 percent of the equipment used in chip manufacturing today and the transition to 450mm wafer processing may have a significant impact on their competitiveness.

European research consortiums are developing 450mm funding and development plans.  In July at SEMICON West, imec announced, the Flemish government’s plans to invest in the building of imec’s 450mm clean room facilities. However the report said how much of this further investment was targeted for 450mm remained unclear.

It warned that with G450C developed based in New York and funded partly by the government, there was a currently limited role of European consortia in 450 R&D, and with high volume manufacturing targeted by US and Asia-based manufacturers, a move to 450 could negatively impact EU-based suppliers.

It said in a bid to maximise impact and benefits for the industry, a shared programme coordinating the leading European R&D institutes activities could be envisaged to secure the equipment and material industry in Europe.

The pair also put forward a master plan, which they said would show both a strong industrial commitment and a coordinated position to leverage the required funding, avoid duplication and concentrate the funding where needed.

The master plan would also be charged with coordination with the Global 450 Consortium (G450C) and be open international participation.

“Failure to support a strong European role in next generation chip manufacturing would lead to a continuous decline in SC production activities in Europe and a progressive shift of the equipment  and  material industry outside Europe”, it warned.

The report also highlighted that a creation of a 450 pilot line in Europe would benefit the industry. It claimed that it could start in the short term with a five-year programme to urgently set up the 450E pilot line in Europe to support the transition of the European equipment and material suppliers to 450mm and coordinate with the US-led G450C initiative in Albany.

“Every effort must be expended by the European Commission and national PAs to ensure that …advanced manufacturing centres in Europe remain favourable places for chip companies to operate in. High tech industries can only close competitive gaps during technological shifts. The 450mm shift is one of them and most likely the last one for the semiconductor industry,” the report claimed.

Face to face interviews in Europe, Japan, Korea, Taiwan and the USA with senior industry executives across the full industry eco-system, from advance research institutes, equipment and materials firms, IP providers, IDM, fabless and foundry semiconductor manufacturers, end users and public authorities, were conducted to draw conclusions from the report.

ASA aims to show it’s no fool

beanteddyThe Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has attempted to show that it has a backbone.

The toothless watchdog has released its annual report which it claims highlights its “big five” misleading advertising priorities, including free trials, pricing, daily deals, testimonials and health claims and what its been doing to tackle them.

The ASA said that last year 70 percent of its cases were about misleading advertising. It said making sure that responsible advertising isn’t being under-cut by the irresponsible helped get a fair deal for consumers and competitors.

It added that last year it received 31,298 complaints about 18,990 ads, while its work led to  3,700 ads being changed or withdrawn. It also dealt with 6,273 complaints about 5,338 online ads, which made up 28 percent of  its workload

The moves will do nothing to appease critics of the watchdog, which last year was described as “toothless” and “feared as much as a monster under the bed.”,  after it gave a company, which repeatedly violated ad terms, a tiny slap on the knuckles.

And it seems it’s continuing with its softly, softly approach, this week partly upholding two separate complaints about DSG Retail and Plusnet.

DSG was given a slap on the wrist after the ASA received two complaints about the company. It said two issues were investigated, one of which was upheld and the other not upheld.

The complaints centred around a TV and a press ad for tablets and e-Readers. The TV ad for PC World featured various tablets and e-Readers. The voice-over stated “At Currys PC World, get up to £80 Cashback on tablets and e-readers when you buy a case too”. At the same time there was also a large bauble that displayed text that stated “up to £80 Cashback”. On-screen text also stated “Conditions apply. Excludes Ipad”.

Images of the Blackberry Playbook, Google Nexus and Samsung Note appeared separately on the screen, each offering cashback options.

The press ad also stated “up to £80 Cashback on tablets and eReaders when you buy any case”. The ad featured a number of devices which detailed the price of the item “after cashback”.

The ad included an image of a Kindle. Text stated “£10 Cashback* 6” eReader The new Kindle features built in Wi-Fi allowing you to download a book in 60 seconds and weights less than 170grams. £59 AFTER CASHBACK* £69 payable in store + cost of case”. Text at the bottom of the ad stated “*when you buy a case”. The ad also included a box, which include the text “the largest range of tablet and eReader cases on the high Street From only £9.99”.

Two complainants challenged whether the TV ad was misleading because it did not make clear the extent of the consumers’ commitment in order to obtain the advertised discounts.

The press ad was queried for the same reason. DSG tried to get clever in its defence claiming that by definition, a ‘misleading advert’ had to be one that created a false impression and that an ad could not be considered misleading by not including a piece of information that a consumer may wish to know.

It said the absence of such information would only cause an ad to be misleading if it subsequently created a false impression and believed a case for a false impression had not been set out by the ASA.

However the ASA fought back claiming that an ad did not need to contain false information or create a ‘false impression’ in order for it to be misleading and that it should be considered misleading if it omitted significant information about the featured offer that would affect a consumer’s informed decision about whether or how to buy the product.

It let the company off the press ad but ruled the TV ad should not be shown again.

Over in the broadband camp Plusnet faced a similar fate after  airing a TV ad claiming that everyone was “a winner with the PlusNet broadband half price sale.”

It promised unlimited broadband from £4.99 a month with the smaller text claiming “with £13.99 monthly line rental” and “new customers only; £8.49 a month for customers in certain areas. £5.99 router delivery. 12 month minimum term.”

However, viewers weren’t impressed. One challenged whether the on-screen text was legible, while a second viewer challenged whether the ad was misleading, because the offer did not apply to “everyone”.

Other viewers challenged whether the claim “All broadband’s [sic] half off” was misleading, because they understood the offer applied only to packages that included line rental whereas broadband-only services remained at full price.

PlusNet said it understood the on-screen text was of the required minimum height. It said the offer was available to existing customers as well as new customers so the on-screen text would be amended to state “£8.49 a month for customers in certain areas. £5.99 router delivery. 12 month minimum term.
The ASA agreed that the TV ad conformed to its code.

However it didn’t like Plusnet’s claim that everyone was a winner, claiming that although the offer was in fact available to existing customers it considered the inclusion of that condition, which was in any case contradictory, in the ad was likely to lead existing customers to believe they could not benefit from the offer and that they might miss out on the promotional price as a result. It therefore concluded that the ad was misleading.

HP launches all singing data centre network fabric

HPHP has introduced a data centre network fabric built on its FlexNetwork architecture.

The company claims its new baby will give business agility for clients by delivering two times greater scalability and 75 percent less complexity over current network fabrics.

It also claims clients could also see a reduction in network provisioning time from “months to minutes”. A bold claim, indeed.

As companies move to a cloud environment, legacy network architectures are apparently buckling under the pressure for instant access to applications and services .

HP also said organisations are struggling with the complexity of current data centre network fabric designs, which need manual device-by-device configurations and limit the performance of bandwidth-intensive applications.

It said it was moving to save the network world with a  series of software-defined network (SDN) data centre switches that are claimed to deliver advanced automation capabilities and industry-leading scalability for bandwidth-intensive applications such as Hadoop.

The offerings include the HP FlexFabric 12900, which is an OpenFlow-enabled core switch capable of scaling to meet the demands of virtualised workloads.

By simplifying network design and operations, HP’s new networking products are claimed to enable customers to improve IT productivity by unifying the virtual and physical fabric with new HP FlexFabric Virtual Switch 5900v software. In conjunction with the HP FlexFabric 5900 physical switch, this is said to deliver advanced networking functionalities such as policies and quality of service to a VMware environment.

Integrated Virtual Ethernet Port Aggregator (VEPA) technology provides clear separation between server and network administrations to deliver operational simplicity.

It is also claimed to reduce data centre footprint with the HP Virtualized Services Router (VSR), which allows services to be delivered on a virtual machine (VM), eliminating unnecessary hardware.

The scale data centre fabric for improved application performance is claimed to enhance support for complex, high data-consuming applications with the HP FlexFabric 12900 switch series, which manages bandwidth spikes with the built-in networking standard Transparent Interconnection of Lots of Links (TRILL).

The HP FlexFabric 12900 switch series can  apparently move up to three times more data across the network per 40-gigabit Ethernet port.

Alongside all the new frill, HP has said its Technology Services could help customers evolve and operate complex data centre networks to reallocate resources to innovation and business growth. It’s new services include the  HP Connectivity Transformation Experience Workshop, which is claimed to help customers achieve network scale and agility with a defined strategy for network transformation that aligns business and IT goals.

Its IPv6 Roadmap Service also provides access to experienced consultants to develop a transition roadmap to IPv6 by considering all six of the domains affected by this transition, while the  HP Datacenter Care for Networking is said to offer a single point of contact for reactive support and proactive services that enable customers to quickly resolve network
issues.

HP will demonstrate the new data center products and services in the HP FlexNetwork architecture at Interop Las Vegas, held May 6-10 at Mandalay Bay, in booth 1527.

M-commerce continues to wow shoppers

ibm-officeM-commerce is continuing to grow in the retail space, a report has suggested.

In its Online Retail Index IBM said that the new way to spend money has been growing in popularity with smartphone owners opting to use this over traditional means of shopping.

According to the report, mobile commerce grew by 31 percent in the first quarter of this year, up from the same time in 2012.  It said the technology now accounted for 17.4 percent of all online retail sales. The figures were also up from 13.3 percent in the year-earlier period.

IBM said that the trend had grown as a result of many shoppers liking the freedom m-commerce offered, enabling them to shop more frequently and, in some cases, spend more money. It also pointed out that the growth of interactive technologies, such as augmented reality and QR codes, which offered discounts for shoppers using m-commerce sites, had helped boost the adoption of mobile commerce.

And tablets have also fuelled the shopping frenzy, with IBM noting this technology’s larger screens, navigation and easier touch functions made online shopping easier.

IBM said that the growth would continue as a result of retailers embracing the trend and offering their customers sites that catered for m-commerce.

Education hardware sees growth

ClassroomEducation hardware spend grew in 2012.

According to Futuresource Consulting, the sector saw an increase of 23 percent to a total spend of $11.6 Billion, from 2011.

The analyst company said this was a strong result compared to other markets and considering the pressure on education budgets across the world.

Looking to the future, the company predicted that the total value is expected to   reach $21 billion by 2017, a CAGR of 12 percent from 2012 to 2017.

It also claimed that as well as raking in the cash the education sector was slowly moving digital, potentially opening up a wide range of revenue stream opportunities in hardware, software, content, infrastructure and services for suppliers.

This increase of spend in education technology has been driven by the uplift in the mobile PC market, which at $6.8 billion, now accounts for 59 percent of the total spend, up from 51 percent.

The explosion of tablets and ‘one to one learning programmes’ primarily driven by the iPad and now the iPad mini, are also expected to accelerate growth in 2013.

And traditional education tools are also helping fuel revenue. In 2012, a million interactive board displays were sold, marking an annual increase of 15 percent the company said.

The interactive projector market is  also expected to have some of the greatest growth in the classroom technology market, with a 2012 – 2017 volume CAGR of 19 percent.

Best Buy to sell European op to Carphone Warehouse

best-buy-carphoneBest Buy has decided to unload its 50 percent share in Best Buy Europe to its joint venture partner Carphone Warehouse in a deal valued at £500 million.

Under the terms of the agreement, Best Buy will receive £420 million in cash and £80 million in Carphone Warehouse stock, subject to a 12-month lock-up restriction. Best Buy also agreed to pay Carphone Warehouse £29 million to settle obligations stemming from existing agreements, some of which will be terminated when the outfits close the deal.

The transaction has already been approved by the boards of both companies and it should be finalized by June 2013.

“After reviewing the business and spending time with our partners, we concluded that the timing and economics were right to enter into this agreement with CPW,” said Hubert Joly, president and chief executive officer of Best Buy.

Joly went on to say that the transaction will allow Best Buy to simplify its business, improve its return on invested capital and strengthen its balance sheet.

“Each international market is different and the sale of our European operations should not suggest any similar action in our other international businesses,” said Joly.

The joint venture was launched in 2008, with Best Buy paying $2.15 billion for its share of Best Buy Europe.

Huawei boss in leaked letter: no-go for IPO

huawei-liveHuawei CEO Ren Zhengfei has said in an internal note sent Sunday, and seen by Reuters, that the company will not go public in the next decade – and the incumbent CEO will not be related to Ren.

The boss of the humongous equipment manufacturer said that Huawei will not be going public in the next five to ten years, and plans to avoid entering capital markets. “We have not studied the issue of an IPO because we feel that listing is not conducive for our development,” he wrote.

In the letter, Ren also noted that his family won’t be taking his place when he steps down: “Huawei’s successor should not only have vision, character and ambition, like what we’ve said before, but also a good global perspective and the acumen to drive the business. My family members do not possess these qualities. Thus, we will never be in the running of the successor race.”

Both Ren’s son and and daughter have jobs at Huawei, however, they are not part of the CEO system that was created for when the chief exec steps down. Three big wigs at the company – deputy chairs Ken Hu and Guo Ping, plus veep Eric Xu – act as CEO for six months each. None of the three are related, Reuters reports.

On the same day as the leak, Huawei Enterprise published a statement outlining its five year plan for the enterprise, first given at the Huawei Global Analyst Summit, 23 April 2013.

According to the statement, Huawei plans to chase customers by bringing them increased total cost of ownership, or TCO. Huawei Enterprise Business Group’s William Xu boasted in a statement that the firm has the “industry’s most comprehensive product line”, and with continued investment in enterprise, expects Huawei Enterprise’s sales to meet $2.7 billion in 2013, and $10 billion by 2017.

Huawei keenly pointed out that in 2012, Huawei had over 3,500 channel partners worldwide – and expects this to swell to 5,400 by the end of this year.