Category: News

IBM to invest $1bn in flash R&D

ibm-officeIBM has announced it will invest $1 billion into flash R&D as well as launching a series of SSD based systems.

Flash will be integrated into all IBM server and storage systems as well as a new flash only storage system.

Not only is flash a “key tipping point”, according to head of IBM software and systems, but eventually data centres will be completely comprised of solid state drives, reports Solid State Technology.

IBM has also announced plans to open 12 centres worldwide which will allow its customers to test flash products in various scenarios. They will be able to test flash performance in various scenarios that require heavy workloads like in stock exchange transactions and credit card processing.

Data Memory Systems has taken the announcements to mean all enterprise Tier 1 storage should be totally flash based, reasoning that the shift toward cloud and big data makes processing data quickly a necessity. Because traditional HDDs have not increased phenomenally in speed over the last years, flash can potentially increase processing speeds by 90 percent for certain tasks, for example in banking and trading where speed is critical.

It is not the end of traditional hard disks yet, as they still offer cost benefits now, but IBM’s decision to invest so much in flash storage shows the direction the industry is headed.

Logicalis scores Juniper Network Elite status

JuniperLogicalis has nabbed itself Elite Partner status for Advanced Security at Juniper Networks’ partner advantage programme, the top level for partners.

Logicalis has got itself Firewall/VPN & IDP and Policy and Access Control authorisations, which the company hopes will score it some more brownie points with companies thinking of hiring it.

MD at Logicalis UK, Mark Starkey, said the company had worked with Juniper Networks for quite some time, so getting the Elite status should help it sell itself to businesses concerned with advanced security in emerging trends like mobility and cloud.

“This accreditation provides us with access to the latest technologies and advanced training at Juniper,” Starkey said.

Darryl Brick, director of partners UK&I at Juniper, said that Logicalis is now offering advanced security from data centre through to small and medium enterprise, so customers can “take advantage of some of the most advanced security technology and services in the market”.

IHS ups tablet panel shipment forecast

Keep taking the tabletsIHS has increased its forecast for tablet displays by six percent for 2013.

The numbers were boosted by orders from Chinese white-box tablet makers who seem to be growing at a much faster pace than big brands. A total of 262 million displays for tablets should be shipped this year, up from a previous forecast of 246 million units. Looking back at 2012, this represents 69 percent growth. 

Gartner slashes 2013 IT forecast

pc-sales-slumpGartner has revised its forecast for worldwide IT spending due to very soft demand for PCs. The outfit believes sales of traditional PCs will continue to lose steam in the second half of the year and there seems to be no end in sight. 

The analyst firm estimates spending on IT will total $3.7 trillion this year, which is actually up two percent from last year, but it is still far short of 4.1 percent predicted earlier this year. A number of other factors are hurting demand. Big G said unfavourable exchange rates and constant currency growth in Western Europe are not helping, either.

Windows 8 and Haswell failed to jump start the PC market, Gartner notes , but there might be light at the end of the tunnel. New devices and new form factors are coming, but at this point it is very unlikely that a bunch of hybrids and touch-enabled Ultrabooks can turn the tide. They will help, but they won’t reverse the trend.

Although IT departments aren’t expected to go on a spending spree over the next six months, things could change in early 2014, as they get ready to phase out XP boxes in Q1 and early Q2. Despite that, there doesn’t appear to be much room for optimism this year.

Windows 8.1 will launch on a number of new devices, but nobody is expecting it to make much of an impact. Intel Haswell and AMD Richland chips are out and the first products are already shipping and they will soon be joined by low-voltage Atoms and AMD Jaguar based APUs. On top of that, new Ultrabooks and hybrids are coming, too.

However, businesses rarely go for Atoms and Jaguars and IT departments tend to view new form factors like hybrids and thin clamshells as unnecessary gimmicks, so most new products that will enter the fray this year will be consumer oriented.

Citrix appoints Arrow pan-euro distributor

teenwolf-teen-wolf-32822640-400-300Citrix has appointed Arrow Electronics  as its first pan-European distributor to further expand the European channel for the SaaS.

Under the deal, Citrix SaaS products will be available on the ArrowSphere cloud services platform.  This means that Arrow resellers can market and sell Citrix SaaS products through their webstore or using ArrowSphere white-label webstore functionality.

The ArrowSphere webstore platform was launched by Arrow in July 2012 and is “live” in the UK, France, Spain, Germany and Denmark. The ArrowSphere platform will continue to roll out to other markets in Europe.

Robert Gratzl, vice president and general manager EMEA for Citrix’s SaaS products  said the agreement with Arrow is an important step in extending our pan-European reach and helping our customers embrace mobile workstyles and new ways of working.

“We selected Arrow and its ArrowSphere webstore platform because they were taking a highly innovative approach to SaaS products to their reseller and customer community,” he said.

The collaboration is another step in the expansion and implementation of the Citrix SaaS Advisor (CSSA) programme launched in May.

It aims to use a local and regional approach with strategic partners to deliver Citrix SaaS applications as part of a broader solution means it is easier than ever for partners and customers to benefit from Citrix technology.

Free games to lead app downloads

dandroidFree to play games are set to drive app ecosystems, leading the charge of the 160 billion plus consumer apps Juniper Research expects to be downloaded by 2017.

In Juniper Research’s report, Future App Stores: Discovery, Monetisation & Ecosystem Analysis 2013 – 2018, the analyst house found the majority of downloads will be in the games category. 40 percent or more downloads are expected to come from this segment.

We can expect an increase in social network functions in these games – not only in terms of leaderboards but to promote the apps themselves.

But developers are still working out the kinks when it comes to monetisation. There is a downward pressure on pricing which often means paid-for apps need to be enormous hits to get the pay-off from investment. This will, Juniper thinks, lead to more free to play games as it becomes the most popular option at the point of download among consumers.

The app store model itself, according to Juniper, has already cut out network operators from grabbing their share of the profit.

Report author Siân Rowlands said that it’s still possible to squeeze cash from customers through carrier billing, which can be popular for customers without a bank account. “However, operators must realise they won’t see as great a revenue share as they did during the pre-app store era,” Rowlands said.

It’s predicted that just five percent of apps will be paid for at the point of download in 2017 – less than 6.1 percent this year.

Intel releases digital signage software

minority-report-gap1Chipmaker Intel has developed a new content management system so vendors and other retailers can organise, control and tailor their digital signage marketing programmes.

The Retail Client Management (RCM) system works across multiple devices and aims to provide an interface for marketing teams.

It means that they can create new campaigns and promotions in minutes, customise content instantly and control each screen individually in a secure environment, claims Intel.

Marketers can use the tool to create multiple zones within each digital sign, and supports most formats, including HD video, Adobe Flash, static image and Web content.

This is supposed to help create a consistent impression.

Joe Jensen, general manager of Intel’s Retail Solutions Division, said that digital signage was changing the advertising landscape and becoming a preferred channel for marketing professionals looking to reach customers with relevant content near the point of sale.

“With Intel RCM our customers are able to create and manage attention-grabbing campaigns while ensuring they are reaching the right customer, at the right time, with the right product,” he said,

Intel RCM was designed to play nice with the chipmaker’s Audience Impression Metrics suite, which anonymously counts the number of viewers, gender and age group, and the time spent looking at each digital sign.

This means that brands can tailor advertising content based on audience demographics.

Using Intel AIM suite, retailers can also gauge the effectiveness of content by measuring the length of time viewers spend looking at displays, and which ads captured the attention of passersby.

The platform is also optimised for Intel Core vPro processors with Intel Active Management Technology so that it can handle remote management and diagnosis of digital signage networks.

 

Avnet sends Ziokowski to the Poles

64272Avnet has appointed Mariusz Ziółkowski as country manager of its Polish office.

Ziółkowski joined Avnet 18 months ago as sales director, Poland. In his new role as country manager, he is responsible for the development and implementation of the business strategy and operations for Avnet Technology Solutions Poland.

He is also expected to start speeding up the growth and success of Avnet in the region.

Judith Ecker, vice president, Avnet Technology Solutions East EMEA said that Mariusz had a proven track record in developing and managing highly motivated teams.

This skill will support the growth of Avnet Technology Solutions in this region. Mariusz has an excellent understanding of the market dynamics in Eastern Europe.

Before he joined Avnet, Ziółkowski worked for IBM for 14 years and has a Master’s Degree in ‘faculty organisation and management’, specialising in computer integrated manufacturing.

 

EU firms complacent on data risk

ironmountainCABusinesses, overwhelmed by an ever increasing surge of data to deal with, are in danger of becoming complacent about data loss.

A survey from Iron Mountain and PwC has determined there is an increasing awareness in information risk, but many SMEs just don’t have the tools in place to deal with the reams of data and in multiple formats. There is also a danger of more sophisticated security threats as well as needing to treat information management as essential to business.

Under half of businesses surveyed in the 2013 Risk Maturity Index said they had a strategy in place for measuring and combating information risk – even as the average number of data breaches increase by 50 percent each year.

Of those asked, over half were so overwhelmed by the threat of data breaches that they acknowledge they’ll never be able to keep up, while 41 percent said data loss is an “inevitable part of daily business”.

Evaluating 600 European SMEs with between 250 and 2,500 employees, across the legal, financial, pharma, insurance, manufacturing and engineering sectors, there was some improvement compared to last year in understanding information risk. Using a set of metrics based on the amount of data protection in place, it rates companies at a target score of 100. This year European companies scored an average of 56.8 compared to 40.6 last year, but clearly there is a long way to go.

PwC Risk partner Claire Reid said that businesses will have to embrance a “new way of thinking” – where data security will be a top priority and also a way to create value.

Microsoft channels Surface to businesses

surface-rtIn what can only be described as a last ditch effort to keep Surface tablets from flopping, Microsoft has launched a new channel programme in the United States. The programme should push sales of Surface tablets to businesses and other organisations. 

For the time being, the programme is limited to the US, but it will expand over the next few months. Under the programme, Microsoft’s channel partners stateside will offer the Surface RT to schools and universities at steep discounts, reports PC World. Private sector companies and government agencies are being pursued as well.

The partners will also be able to offer technical support, on-site assistance, data protection, recycling and asset tagging. Independent software vendors are also being encouraged to develop apps for Windows RT and Windows 8. The latter just crossed the 100,000 app milestone, but on the whole the choice of RT and Win 8 apps remains rather limited when compared to competing platforms. The software part of the programme is called AppsForSurface and developers who sign up will receive Surface devices and funding.

Ingram Micro, Synnex and Tech Data, CDW, CompuCom, En Pointe, Softchoice and Zones are already on board, while Citrix, Airstrip and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt have signed up for the software part of the programme.

However, although businesses don’t tend to shy away from Microsoft, they aren’t exactly lining up for Redmond’s tablets. Demand remains soft and enterprise adoption is anything but spectacular. Windows tablets have one thing going for them, IT departments seem to like them a bit more than Android gear when it comes to BYOD. But many love Apple even more.

Tablet makers cut targets citing white-box competition

cheap-tabletsBig brand tablet makers have slashed their shipment targets for 2013, citing stronger than expected competition from white-box vendors. According to NPD DisplaySearch, worldwide tablet shipments should hit 256.5 million units this year, up 67 percent from 153.6 million units last year.

However, big brands will lose market share, as white-box outfits are growing faster. Apple, Google, Microsoft, Samsung, Acer and Asus are expected to lose share at the hands of Chinese white-box makers, who are slowly making inroads in the international market. NPD DisplayResearch estimates that top brands shipped 172 million units in April, but shipments are believed to have dropped to 167 million units in June.

Market leader Apple is also feeling the pinch. It shipped 67 million iPads last year, but NPD DisplaySearch has cut mighty Apple’s shipment target for 2013 from 88 million units to 74 million.

However, despite the cuts the tablet market is looking as healthy as ever, but it might be becoming a bit more heterogeneous. Cheap Androids might undercut industry heavyweights, but at the moment this is more of a regional trend than a global one. White-box vendors are doing well in some parts of Asia, but they won’t take western markets by storm.

While browsing through some cheap tablets at Computex, we got the impression that they have a lot of potential and they might be competitive in some markets. However, it won’t be a repeat of the Macintosh vs. vanilla PC battle of the eighties. The trouble for white-box Chinese tablets is that they can’t just waltz into Europe and the US. For the time being many of them can only sell their kit in mainland China. As one vendor told us, if they tried to go overseas, their collective hind quarters would be sued by Acer and other big players.

First Firefox OS smartphones launch today

zte-open-firefox-osThe first Firefox OS phones could be just days away from hitting retail. Mozilla has announced that the regional rollout of the first foxy phones will begin soon.

There are just a couple of devices so far, the Alcatel One Touch Fire and the ZTE Open, and the latter launches in Spain on Tuesday for just €69.

Needless to say, it doesn’t feature headline grabbing specs. It’s a 3.5-inch HVGA device powered by a 1GHz processor and 512MB of memory. That’s the sort of spec one would expect from a mid-range Android handset launched in 2011, but that sort of seems to be the point.

Mozilla doesn’t want to compete in the high-end, it thinks it has a very lean operating system that could bring most smartphone features to first-time smartphone buyers. Smartphones are overtaking feature phones in terms of worldwide sales as we speak and cheap smartphones are expected to fill the gap.

It seems like a sound approach, but the smartphone market is already overcrowded and it’s dominated by two or four operating systems, depending on whom you ask. There doesn’t appear to be much room for another competing platform, but Mozilla is going after a small niche. Apple, BlackBerry and to some extent Microsoft, don’t really matter in this price segment.

Android, however, remains a force to be reckoned with. There are dozens if not hundreds of cheap Android phones on store shelves, with a tried and tested OS and a huge app ecosystem. What’s more, last year’s models often end up in the bargain bin, hence it is possible to get something even better than an entry-level phone for peanuts.

Mozilla thinks it can do better, with an OS specifically designed to run well on a meagre serving of silicon and this might be what differentiates its products in the long term. The hope is that consumers will choose a frugal phone with a lean OS instead of an outdated Android device that doesn’t really support all the nice features offered by Google in its latest Android builds.

The approach might work, especially in emerging markets, but for the time being the platform is rather limited and untested, although initial reviews were positive.

French police raid Apple over reseller treatment

peter_sellers_3918 Inspector Clouseau of the French Yard has raided Apple’s Paris headquarters on behalf of the government competition authority.

French police were in the building for 24 hours seizing documents as part of an ongoing government antitrust investigation.

Investigators are interested in the relationship between Apple and its resellers in France.  It was spurred by a premium reseller in France, eBizcuss, which went bankrupt last year.

According to Apple Insider the company filed a complaint against Apple accusing it of unfair competition.

According to the complaint Apple favoured its own retail stores rather than resellers like eBizcuss, which exclusively sold Apple products.

Apple made it difficult for resellers to obtain the latest models of new Apple products, while Jobs’ Mob’s cathedrals to consumerism were packed.

The French competition authority is also interested in Apple’s iOS App Store.  Apple increased the minimum selling price for magazines and newspapers last year and the authority is worried that Fruity co is abusing its power for digital downloads as well.

Cupertino should have seen the writing on the wall and that it was suddenly off the French government’s Christmas card list when it was ordered to pay $6.5 million in 2011 taxes for iPad sales.

The mandate came from a French professional association that collects revenue for artists’ copyrighted works.

Microsoft’s starts Surface move to the Channel

Surface-ElementaryMicrosoft has launched Surface partner programmes for tablet resellers and software developers in a small scale to its US channel.

Writing in his bog, Cyril Belikoff, director, Surface marketing, said Microsoft was launching what he called the “first phase” of expansion into the business channel.

It will allow customers to purchase Surface and commercial services through a small number of authorised resellers.

There is also a new ISV program, called AppsForSurface, which provides devices and funding for app design intended to get key enterprise apps on Surface and Window 8.

While there is no news yet about what Microsoft’s plans are in other parts of the world, it is starting to look like there is a thaw in its plans.
When the Surface came out, Vole’s hardware partners screamed blue murder claiming that Microsoft was treading on its toes.

In response to that Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer  said that its channel could sell Surface but only if they order it from a Microsoft store or Microsoft.com. There will be no formal channel programme.

Now it seems that Vole is starting to branch out in a small way and test the water and close to home.

The Surface will be going to Microsoft’s bigger US partners first and Vole does not seem to be that keen to have a huge push.

In the United States that means CDW, CompuCom Systems, En Pointe Technologies, Insight Enterprises, Softchoice, Softmart, SHI International, PC Connection, PCM and Zones Inc. are the first Surface authorised resellers.

That is a tiny drop in the market of the US channel.

Microsoft says the initial Surface resellers bring a variety of value-added services to tablet family, such as asset tagging, custom imaging, kitting, onsite service and support, device recycling and data protection.

In other words, Microsoft really does need the channel to push its surface but it wants to do it without isolating its hardware chums.

IT should use XP migration to boost infrastructure

framedwindowsWith support for Windows XP just around the corner, yet another company is shouting that businesses must have no illusions: sticking with unsupported software could be catastrophic.

Attachmate’s Barry Davis, UK sales director, said in a statement that businesses will be and should be migrating – and when they do they should take the migration as an incentive to evaluate security vulnerabilities in their infrastructure. “They can also reconcile and shrink the sprawl to a level their current IT staff can support,” Davis said.

Attachmate pointed out Accenture research that claims half of UK IT departments have no strategy for applications current running on Windows XP. And it warns that if businesses continue to run terminal emulators made for XP after upgrading, they could still be open to vulnerabilities.

“This is an opportunity to invest in future proofing, streamlining desktop emulation and mainframe access,” Davis said.

Attachmate advises businesses to take step by step best practice approaches to migration, based on standardisation, and starting with an inventory check to get all the data in place.