Category: News

Dell: we’re serious about enterprise

haas330Dell CEO Michael Dell, so the rumours go, notoriously hates his company being referred to as a box-shifter.

While speculation about him personally taking the company off the market to exert more control increases, European bigwigs here at Dell’s Technology Camp, Amsterdam, took to the stage promising a packed room of analysts and reporters that Dell is on an aggressive push into enterprise, but that it is very much established there already.

Dell believes it will find opportunity in a world plagued with recession, and heavy hitters such as Marius Haas, president for Dell Enterprise Solutions, are fighting the company’s corner.

Opening the presentation was Aongus Hegarty, president, Dell EMEA. He insisted that Dell’s position is as an established software company, and that its many recent acquisitions – recently herded into one umbrella group as Dell Software, are paying off. Recurring themes from all the speakers were the company’s broad intellectual property and a vast stockpile of patents, swelling with each acquisition.

Crucially, Aongus pointed out that Dell is unique to the competition. Showing a slide that presented the company in a very favourable light within the enterprise, his statement was backed up by HP veteran Marius Haas. Haas said that over the last 10 or so years, people have been mostly thinking about performance and value – but the trend has shifted onto how also to provide operational efficiency across the board.

Haas pointed out that systems can be expensive to maintain, and flagged the Itanium as an example. Although these systems can provide some operational efficiencies, costs are there because they don’t provide the full package, according to Haas. Even with cheaper Chinese vendors (naming no names), though capital costs may be at bargain prices, operational costs can be higher because there are other factors to think in – and they still must be maintained. This is where Dell differs, he said.

Scalability is another key point. Being able to deliver services from the SMBs to enterprise level means more opportunity and flexibility. Haas mentioned an initiative by the British government to store all data from every study in a digital format: this leads on to conversations from high computational requirements through to what is possible with tape storage, or the cheapest options to protect and keep that data.

Although there has been a slow down in business spending, Dell fully expects the second half of this year to pick up. We will have to wait and see. What is clear, is that Dell is serious about further entrenching its brand as an enterprise company and its execs were quite convincing. Can a further shift away from shaky consumer territory be on the cards?

David Atherton assumes a new position

dabs01Serial entrepreneur David Atherton – the brains behind dabs.com which he subsequently sold to BT for a heap of dosh – has a new position, it has emerged.

David is now a consultant at Suzanna’s Pub and Restaurant. We think it’s this one, but we’re not entirely sure.

As part of his iconic career, David once confided to me in a pub close to the Register’s then HQ in East Mayfair that he, like myself, was subject to a Jesuitic regime when he was a kid.

His legacy at DABS is not over.  Just a few days ago, at the Beehive pub in Crawford Street, just off Baker Street, we snapped a branded bag bearing the logo.

Qualcomm raises 2013 outlook

snap dragon Qualcomm has posted  strong quarterly results for the beginning of 2013, which have led to the company raising its revenue and earnings predictions for the upcoming year.

The chip company said saw its net income grow by 36 percent for the first quarter fiscal 2013,  hitting $1.91 billion, while revenues totalled $6.02 billion, up 29 percent year-over-year.

Qualcomm chief exec Paul Jacobs put the results down to a “growing global demand for smartphones” and the company’s portfolio of 3G and 4G LTE processors.

He added that the company’s broad licensing partnerships and “extensive chipset roadmap”, including its new Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 and 600 processors, had also attributed to the growth.

Revenue from licensing fees grew by 20 percent to $1.82 billion, while equipment and services sales rose by 33 percent, generating the company $4.2 billion.

As a result of the stronger than anticipated results, the company said that it is adjusting its full year outlook from a previous revenue prediction of $23.4 billion to $24.4 billion.

Qualcomm also made some announcements regarding its senior level staff.

In a separate statement Qualcomm said that it would be saying goodbye to CFO William Keitel, who it retiring after 11 years at the post.

Keitel, who will step down on 11 March, will be replaced with George S. Davis, who is currently executive vice president and chief financial officer of Applied Materials.

Peugeot unveils hybrid-air powertrain for superminis

psa-air-drivetrainFrench carmaker PSA Peugeot Citroen is taking the road less travelled with its latest concept car. The company has developed a hybrid gasoline vehicle that does not rely on batteries to store energy. The PSA Hybrid Air system uses compressed air instead.

The oddly shaped concept is said to be very efficient and it should achieve 81 miles per gallon, with very low carbon dioxide emissions to boot. The idea of using compressed air to store energy has been around for ages, but Peugeot engineers believe it might give their eco-cars a competitive edge in the future.

Hybrid cars usually rely on costly and heavy battery packs to store energy. According to Fast Company, the typical battery pack used in hybrids and electric vehicles costs about $11,000. Battery packs are bulky, heavy and they have a limited lifecycle, which is not the case with a simple compressed air system.

However, there are quite a few downsides to Peugeot’s approach. Air compressors are not very efficient and compressed air can’t match the efficiency or energy density of batteries or liquid fuels. So, although compressed air is a cheap and simple way of storing energy, a lot of energy is wasted in the process.

Peugeot hopes the simplicity and low cost of its approach outweighs the drawbacks. Compressed air cars should end up a lot cheaper than battery based hybrids and the simple, low-tech approach should allow designers to incorporate it into existing cars with relative ease.

Peugeot’s compressed air technology is intended for small B and C segment vehicles, with engines up to 110 horsepower. Like other hybrid designs, PSA’s Hybrid Air features regenerative breaking and it can operate in three modes, compressed air only, internal combustion or a combination of the two for peak power.

In terms of fuel efficiency, hybrid air vehicles could deliver 45-percent savings in fuel usage and a 90-percent increase in range compared to a similar vehicle powered by a traditional petrol engine.

PSA plans to start fitting the new drivetrain to several B-segment models in 2016 and it could license the technology to other carmakers.

VIP Computers shirks “rough conditions”

VIP_square_CMYK Despite “rough conditions” in the channel, VIP Computers has said it will continue to push on with its channel strategy and look to hire more senior management in the future.

Speaking with ChannelEye, the distie said channel partners will also continue to see support.

The comments follow an announcement earlier in the week where it said it had appointed two new team members, showing that even in times of economic hardship it continued “to buck the trend”.

The appointments follow the company gobbling up sister company Realtime and unveiling a £1.6 million warehouse expansion.

Frazer Hamilton joins as a product manager and it is hoped his previous record of dealing with major accounts such as Samsung, Sony and LG where he had a similar role within the distribution sector, will help boost business at VIP.

Also joining the ranks is Amanda Baxter, who has taken a position in the company’s accounts department after working for businesses such as Morrison’s and Yorkshire Bank.

“These two new appointments are fully in-line with our plans moving forward,” a spokesperson said, speaking with ChannelEye.

“The appointment of Fraser to look after 600 products was vital for VIP to continue its focus on components and deliver on two key areas for the business, focus and flexibility. Having Fraser in place gives us the focus we need for this product sector, but also much needed flexibility to deliver what our vendors and customers need.”

The spokesperson added that channel partners will be given the “support they need” to get products out to end users.

Speaking about its future, VIP hinted that it would be hiring again in the coming months as well as branching out other parts of its business.

“We will continue to bring on product managers as we expand our vendor base in the PC gaming peripherals market,” it said.

“We’re also continuing to keep a close eye on the cloud services market and will be appointing employees to this market once we have determined a clear route to market for our existing channel partners.”

ChannelEye launches and injects zest into the supply chain

Hands across the waterPrakasha Publishing Ltd has launched a title designed to inform, educate and entertain the influential supply chain in the United Kingdom.

ChannelEye, (channeleye.co.uk) is edited by industry veteran Mike Magee. The editorial team that launched another channel title this time last year, will upset the apple cart and provide hard hitting news, interviews and pithy comment that reflect the concerns of distributors, resellers and the rest of the community.

“It’s high time that stuffy, old fashioned channel magazines whether online or in print are consigned to the dustbin of history,” Magee said.  “The supply chain continues to be essential to deliver vendors’ offerings to end users.  We will break the mould and deliver essential information to the key players in the market.”

“This is a fantastic development for IDG” suggests Jonny Busse, head of the IDG Tech Network. “Commercially representing this website will now allow IDGUK a strong presence in this important marketplace with ChannelEye offering a clean and unique style coupled with hard hitting content”

In addition to news, ChannelEye will cover wider matters including reviews, interviews with key players, moves in the industry, product information, gossip, and sparky, solid information. Avoiding re-cycled press releases, ChannelEye will avoid business jargon that only marketers understand, and will deliver gritty and realistic depictions of stuff that matters to the channel.

About Prakasha Publishing Ltd.  Prakasha, headed by CEO Mike Magee, already publishes well respected technology title TechEye.  Founder of both the Register and the Inquirer, Magee was listed as the 35th most influential person in UK technology by the Daily Telegraph.  He can be contacted at mike.magee@channeleye.co.uk  He brings on board a team of journalists that has close contacts in the channel and the wider IT community.

Resellers salt fake reviews

fakeSuppliers have been paying computer science experts in Bangladesh, India and Indonesia to write fake glowing reviews for products on partner websites.

According to Guardian Money, fake reviewing has becoming a global business and is making the idea of customer reviews redundant.

Many offer their services to western companies on Freelancer.com, which promotes itself as an international website on which you can “outsource anything you can think of”. Companies simply post their requirements and wait for freelancers to start bidding for the work.

Guardian Money focused on fake reviews which promoted WAE+ which is a Birmingham reseller which claims to flog cheap cameras, flat-screen televisions and computers. It used to be known as We are Electricals. Last year this reseller had the distinction of being Computerworld’s most complained about company. Bogus reviews work was also carried out for a financial services company, AnnuitySupermarket.Com.

It outted “Zahed Kamal” who is a 25-year-old studying computer science and engineering at university in Chittagong, Bangladesh. He made cash on the side posting hundreds of reviews on independent consumer review websites such as Trustpilot and Review Centre. He has 11 jobs posting reviews, which, he says, will earn him £1,130 – which is a lot of dosh from where he comes from. He makes so much cash that he sub-contracts some of the work to others in India and Bangladesh.

What is tricky is that the writer needs to be able to create a unique name, email and internet provider address for each review, and make it look like it is posted in the UK. It does not take much computer expertise to do that, but it does explain why it is a nice little earner for computer science students.

WAE+ was a good example of what is going wrong with the system. Either its reviews were extremely low or extremely good.

In March 2012, an internet culture blogger called Danger Nazi Zombies Ahead (DNZA) analysed WAE+ reviews and found usernames that had posted glowing reviews were also used to post positive reviews of a small set of unrelated companies, based in different countries. Curiously those who bought from Birmingham UK with prices in pounds and thought the outfit was pretty good also bought from an American clothes shop with prices in dollars.

Guardian Money found Kamal, who said he was contracted to post reviews about WAE+ and was contacted through Freelancer.com by someone under the name of “f0rtkn0x” who was believed to be Ben Slater, operations director of WAE+.

Things went badly when someone from his company was fired, started posting bad reviews, and reported all about the reviews WAE+ got from his clients.

WAE+ insisted that there were no false reviews online about WAE+ for which it is knowingly responsible.

Kamal told the Guardian that sometimes he is contracted to put up real reviews that have been sent to a company by customers, but which haven’t been posted on the all-important review sites.
Trustpilot admitted that there was a black market for reviews and it took it very seriously. It also relies on the Trustpilot community to help identify and investigate reviews, further ensuring their quality and authenticity.

Fake reviews are illegal under consumer protection legislation. Apparently reading three negative reviews is enough to change the mind of 63 percent of consumers about making a purchase

Lenovo posts strong profits, beats forecasts

lenovo_hqLenovo has bucked the trend with a stellar quarter, which saw the outfit’s profit and market share soar.

Lenovo reported its earnings on Wednesday and its net profit in the October – December fiscal quarter was $204.9 million, up by a third from a year earlier. Analysts had expected Lenovo to post $178 million net profit, but the outfit outperformed even the most optimistic forecasts. In fact, Lenovo exceeded its previous record of $172, posted back in 2007, before the credit crunch and PC slump.

The company is still trailing Hewlett Packard in terms of global PC market share, but according to IDC, it is narrowing the gap. What’s more, Lenovo is diversifying beyond the PC market and its smartphones and tablets are making their presence felt in China. The same can’t be said of HP, which apparently still thinks it can grow its business by peddling toners and overpriced printer ink.

Although Lenovo phones are somewhat of an oddity in western markets, Lenovo’s mobile business saw its revenues jump 77 percent in the Chinese market, almost hitting the $1 billion mark. So although western consumers don’t see them, Lenovo phones seem to be doing rather well. The company’s mobile internet and digital home business accounted for about one tenth of revenues during quarter and  Lenovo claims its China smartphone business reached profitability for the first time.

Lenovo’s core business is doing fine and its focus on mobile seems to be paying off, at least in China. Lenovo’s Android tablets aren’t big sellers in the west, but they aren’t lemons, either. What’s more, Lenovo is starting to offer an increasing number of high-end ThinkPad tablets on top of its bland Android offerings. It is also in a good position to capitalize on Windows 8 tablets and hybrids. Although the Android tablet market will probably remain dominated by Asus and Samsung, Lenovo might carve out a high-margin niche in Windows 8, if it plays its cards right.

Half of businesses to get Facebook style not working by 2016

gartnerHalf of large enterprises will have an internal social network, similar to Facebook, by 2016, Gartner has claimed.

Although 30 percent of these firms will consider this medium as essential as email and telephones, Gartner also claims that through 2015, 80 percent of social business efforts will not hit the high levels required to make this a reality, as a result of inadequate leadership and an overemphasis on technology

According to Gartner, using Facebook-like enterprise social not-working software for communication has several advantages over email and traditional collaboration methods. The analyst house said this is because software enabled information and events that are traditionally sent in emails can instead be turned into conversations and logged onto one system that everyone can see.

To ensure that businesses made the most of this, Gartner said head honchos must shift their thoughts away from deciding what the best communication technology is and instead focus on how to implement and understand how social networks work – and how they can be integrated into companies.

Currently, businesses are stifled because there is too much focus on content and technology, and not enough focus on leadership and relationships.

By 2017, Gartner expects to see companies offering social networking with gamified features – possibly rewarding employees through the social networking on a mobile or PC platform with work incentives.

VMware to fire and hire staff

fireVMware has become the latest company to announce that it will be slashing jobs.

VMware, which reported revenue growth of 22 percent for 2012 compared to 2011, raking in around $4.61 billion, said that it would be handing around seven percent of its 13,800 staff their pink slips as part of a restructuring effort.

The announcement was driven by a slowdown in its 2013 earnings predictions,

However, it said it plans to hire in other areas.

Speaking with analysts, VMware chief exec Pat Gelsinger said a lack of government spending, plus increasing competition from the likes of Microsoft, meant that the company had to focus on specific products and geography.

This means taking away a focus on areas such as its online presentation software, SlideRocket and looking more at software-defined data centres and hybrid cloud services. Translated, this means VMware will slash 900 jobs in areas that are not profitable, where it hopes to save roughly $20 million for the first quarter of 2013.

Gelsinger did say that 1,000 jobs should be created by the end of the year as the company keeps up with competitors in its new focus areas. He said the company will shovel talent into the new roles, which support “growth opportunities” as well looking for new recruits in these areas.

The announcement comes after security software firm Symantec admitted it would be culling management jobs to save cash.

Symantec swings axe at management, plans to rely on resellers

axeSymantec has said it will be culling management jobs as it tries to reorganise its business and save money.

Despite the company announcing a four percent  rise in its fourth quarter profits, at $1.79 billion, CEO Stephen Bennett said he was unhappy with the way the company’s management is run.

He said in previous restructuring exercises Symantec had targeted front line employees and spared the jobs of higher level staff. This meant that the company was left with “too many” layers of management, which wasn’t beneficial.

Speaking to the Dow Jones, Bennett said the axe would swing on three separate occasions, and by the end of June there would be fewer bigger jobs within the sales and  marketing sectors. The company also plans to merge some product lines, which could suggest the axe grinding here, too.

Although he did not divulge how many pink slips will be issued, he admitted the company had saved around $275 million of its budget for severance pay, which the Dow Jones reported could mean 1,500 layoffs, based on the company’s past severance spend.

Bennett said the company will rely on resellers to help it sell consolidated product lines.

However, he hinted that, as a result of a smaller product portfolio, partners could also eventually be reduced.

Magor Communications intros cloud partner programme

clouds3Magor Communications is set to launch the first phase of its new Stratus Partner Programme at a conference later this week.

The visual collaboration company will use the Integrated Systems Europe (ISE) conference, which kicks off Jan. 29 in Amsterdam as the mouthpiece for the new initiative, which is claimed to help resellers offer their customers “alternatives to traditional video conferencing.”

The Stratus service is said to work differently from other products as it uses software architecture to apparently allow users to engage and interact on any device.

As it runs through the cloud, the company says there are more opportunities for partners who will be able to leverage the cost reduction of cloud deployment and support many creative use cases for video to their customers.

At ISE the company will be on the search for new partners who are looking at new revenue opportunities. In return the company claims it will give those who join up access to a variety of options for billing, endpoint monetisation, vertical product development and “other benefits.”

ChannelEye will be attending the event and giving you the low down later in the week.

Nvidia reportedly working on phone and tablet reference designs

nvidia-gangnam-style-330pxNvidia has been frantically trying to carve out a foothold in the mobile SoC market over the past couple of years and with every new Tegra generation it saw its number of design wins double.

However, that doesn’t seem to be enough for CEO Jen-Hsun Huang. According to Mobile Review, the chipmaker is planning to kick things up a notch, by directly entering the smartphone and tablet business with a bit of help from its partners.

Nvidia is said to be working on reference smartphone and tablet designs. The designs will be built by contract manufacturers, under Nvidia’s direct control. The partners are apparently small regional players, basically retail chains who already offered cheap Chinese tablets under their brands. It is unclear whether traditional Nvidia AIBs will also join the effort, but it seems more than likely, as some of them have already started making inroads in the tablet space, without Nvidia’s support.

The idea seems to hold water. Nvidia could control the feature sets and performance of reference designs, while regional players could take care of distribution and retail. Nvidia partners could end up with cheap, yet competitive devices capable of taking on first-tier devices with fancier brands. The drive is said to be scheduled for May and June, roughly Computex time, and Mobile Review’s Eldar Murtazin believes tens of 7- and 10-inch tablets based on Nvidia’s reference design could show up.

Nvidia already has extensive reference design experience and plenty of partners in the graphics market, so such an approach would be nothing new for the company. However, last year Nvidia also offered Kai, a reference tablet design based on the Tegra 3 SoC. It did not find many takers. Back at CES, Nvidia unveiled Project Shield, a Tegra 4 gaming console built under its own brand, but we haven’t seen any Tegra 4 design wins yet. The chip is apparently a couple of months behind schedule, due to some technical issues which necessitated a re-spin.

We should see more Tegra 4 gear at the Mobile World Congress and Nvidia is also expected to launch a cheaper, A9-based quad-core SoC in the latter half of the year. The reference design approach could help Nvidia gain quite a bit more design wins this time around, provided it doesn’t flop like Kai.

Triple dip recession threat leaves channel unbothered

gosborneAccording to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), the British economy shrank 0.3 percent in the fourth quarter of 2012, reflecting wider economic woes in the Eurozone and further afield.

The figures were lower than expected for the last three months of 2012 and have sparked fears that, if the economy does not pick up, the UK will enter an unprecedented ‘triple dip recession’ – although arguably, Britain never left the recession at all. Chancellor George Osborne has warned that tough times still lie ahead for the country, but shirked advice from the International Monetary Fund that he and the Coalition should ease up on the policy of austerity.

On the GDP figures, Osborne said: “We have a reminder today that Britain faces a very difficult economic situation”.

The figures serve as a “reminder that last year was particularly difficult” and that the country faces problems at home “because of the debts built up over many years and problems abroad with the Eurozone, where we export most of our products, in recession”. The opposition accused Osborne and Prime Minister David Cameron of being “asleep at the wheel”, although the macroeconomic environment is unrelentingly difficult and both Labour and Conservatives differ on many minutae of policy – with the wider climate beyond their control.

GDP, meanwhile, was flat compared to the same time last year. Production output decreased by 1.8 percent for the quarter, negating a 0.7 percent increase between the second and third quarters. Service industry output was flat from Q3 into Q4, although that followed a 1.2 percent boost between Q2 and Q3 2012.

Britain enjoyed steady GDP growth from 2000 right up until the world markets crashed in 2008, and according to the ONS, the decline of economic conditions in 2008 and up until now has had a significant effect on construction and production – though the service sector wasn’t hit as hard, and is now slowly returning to 2008 levels.

In October last year, channel analyst house Canalys’ CEO, Steve Brazier, said that, despite the difficult economic climate, there is still opportunity in the channel. Although growth was not exactly meteoric, Brazier said that by carefully steering the ship, channel players could weather the storm, although the market will be tough.

 

Senior analyst at Canalys, Rachel Brindley, offered some thoughts to ChannelEye on just what channel players can do to push through the crisis. She tells us the situation isn’t exactly all doom and gloom.

“Some partners will struggle if this economy goes into a triple dip recession,” Brindley said, “but there is a chance that it could happen. That being said, a lot are well placed – those who focus on customer service, keeping existing customers very close, growing their services business an diversifying their portfolio into things like managed services and data centres, will rise to the difficult times we’ve been going through”.

“Generally,” Brindley said, “those that focus on their customers, and diversify their business away from traditional hardware and box shifting will come through OK, it will come down to careful planning and taking opportunities in spaces like the data centre and looking at what’s going on in the networking space”.

Hard drive prices slowly returning to pre-flood levels

hddcloseupThe hard drive industry was hit hard by heavy flooding in Thailand back in 2011. Several plants, providing vital components for Seagate and Western Digital, temporarily went off line following the disaster. The shortage caused a massive surge in hard drive prices and its effects are still being felt.

Keen to provide a bit of perspective, Xbit Labs compiled an interesting chart of hard drive average selling prices, based on data from Seagate’s and Western Digital’s SEC filings over the last four years. Pre-flood average selling prices (ASPs) were between $45 and $55, but they soared to the $70 mark in Q4 2011. The recovery was painfully slow and although some rather optimistic analysts claimed the market would stabilize by mid-2012, we are still feeling the muddy aftertaste of Thai flood water.

According to the latest figures, average selling prices decreased to $62 – $63 per unit and they are still considerably higher than pre-flood prices. Prices are currently at 2008 levels, which means they are still too high for comfort. Of course, the effects of the global economic downturn and recent PC slump were not factored into 2008 pricing and ASPs should be significantly lower today, even after they are adjusted for inflation.
This is bad for consumers and system integrators alike, as they have to adjust their own margins to compensate for the higher prices.  What’s more, hard drive makers are probably not too keen to reduce their ASPs, as further cuts would negatively impact their margins while they are still reeling from flood-related losses. Western Digital CEO Stephen Milligan confirmed the company has more capacity, but it is throttling it to what it sees as demand, which is a polite way of saying WD is trying to keep prices artificially high.

It is even worse for end consumers looking to upgrade their PCs or get some cheap portable storage. Back in mid-2011, per-terabyte retail prices were at their lowest point, about €25 in European markets and a 2TB 3.5-inch drive cost roughly €50. By November 2011, per-terabyte prices hit €35 to €38 and they went on to peak at €50 to €55 by April 2012. Retail prices today are still significantly higher than in 2011 and they are in the €38 to €40 range across Europe.

Xbit also concluded that ASPs peaked in Q4 2011. In the meantime, SSD prices continued to tumble, but SSDs are still too costly to completely replace traditional hard drives. However, SSD shipments are expected to double in 2013, as they are the preferred storage option for Ultrabooks.

Hybrid drives are also entering the fray and they can be found in quite a few budget ultrathin notebooks, although their days in proper Ultrabooks are numbered. So far Seagate is the only hard drive maker to offer 2.5-inch hybrid drives in retail, but Western Digital is also entering the market and it showed off its first consumer friendly hybrid drives at CES.

Traditional hard drives are not going anywhere yet and it is evident that WD and Seagate have enough room to maintain a huge price advantage over SSDs, as they are artificially inflating prices. They can’t bridge the performance and power consumption gap, but by offering hybrid drives they can bring the best of both worlds to value-minded consumers.