Category: News

Intel expands its foundry business

IntelChipzilla is starting to expand its foundry business to include some serious business partners for the first time.

Forbes reported that Intel has started making chips on behalf of Altera, which is certainly a much bigger fish than the names it has previously outted as business partners including Achronix Semiconductor. Of course Intel makes chips for HP and still has to produce the Alpha chip as part of a SEC settlement but no one ever mentions that these days.

It all makes for an interesting symbiotic relationship. Altera’s programmable chips get to use Intel’s upcoming 14 nanometer trigate transistor technology which will help it steal the march on its nearest rival Altera’s largest competitor and long-time rival is FPGA founder and market-share leader Xilinx .

It also means that Altera can keep established business relationships with the likes of TSMC who will continue to make its more elderly offerings.

Meanwhile Chipzilla gets someone who will ultimately pay for the huge amounts that Intel needs to keep its fabs at the cutting edge. It also means that it does not have to mothball plants because the PC business is in the doldrums thanks to the recession.

But with Intel attempting to obtain new customers, it could be that it will become a foundry for many other surprising names. Already Apple has been mentioned, although not by name.

Sunit Rikhi, Vice President and General Manager of Intel custom foundry, told the Mercury that if Intel was called upon to serve large mobile customers who can drive a lot more volume, it could serve them today in terms of capability.

He added that he was confident we have a very strong platform of offering upon which we can scale and that there was no doubt in his mind the foundry business will be a significant player in the future”.

RBC analyst Doug Freedman agreed saying that Intel had crossed over the line from it just being a questionable experiment to working with important clients.

Altera Chief Executive John Daane said that Altera, which depends on communications infrastructure for about half of its business, is the only major programmable chipmaker that will have access to Intel’s plants.

“We are essentially getting access like an extra division of Intel. As soon as they’re making the technology available to their various groups to do design work, we’re getting the same,” he said.
Daane said Intel’s manufacturing technology will give Altera’s chips a several-year advantage against Xilinx, its main competitor in programmable chips. He said Altera would continue to make other chips with TSMC, its long-time foundry.

Salesforce puts customer service onto their mobiles

clouds3Salesforce has announced Salesforce Service Cloud Mobile – software that the company claims will boost customer service for any device.

The idea is to manage customers through mobile browsing on touch based devices, on the cloud. Salesforce’s logic is that mobile is not going anywhere any time soon and that engaging with customers on those platforms they will be seen as technologically progressive and able to reach more people. If companies can connect just about everything in the chain, that is, customers, employees, partners and products, Salesforce thinks firms will be able to gain a clear advantage in engagement.

This especially matters, according to Salesforce, when customers are simply expecting a better level of engagement with companies. It is no longer good enough to have an email address that will respond in five business days – a Twitter account is not optional. Salesforce goes so far as to say the days of traditional call centre servicing are “for the era of landlines” – although we suspect the many call centre workers will disagree, not to mention frustrated people customers who require talking to a person who can engage with a level of empathy rather than bound up by software restrictions.

Of course, people will have to staff these services, signalling a switch from traditional customer service to paid-for instant messaging. A question is if that, too, could eventually be mostly automated.

Salesforce’s product offers ‘service cloud mobile chat’, where customers will be able to chat in real time similar to sending an SMS. Cloud touch, meanwhile, will be a way for service staff to interact with customers from tablets and smartphones so they are “no longer tethered to a desk”.

Co-browsing should be out and ready in the second half of 2013, though there’s not a price tag set yet. Mobile Service Cloud Communities is generally available now, and so is Service Cloud mobile chat, provided you’re a Service Cloud Enterprise or Unlimited Edition customer. Service Cloud Touch is out and packaged with all Service Cloud editions.

IE 10 arrives for Windows 7

msMicrosoft’s channel partners will be greatly relieved to discover they will no longer have to explain to corporate clients why they can’t have the latest Internet Explorer, even after they upgraded to Windows 7.

Redmond, in a desperate attempt to push Windows 8, delayed the release of its new Internet Explorer 10 so that it did not run on Windows 7, even though that is mostly what corporate customers are upgrading to at the moment.

Corporations usually run a generation behind on operating systems and the system has been compounded by many of them hanging on to Windows XP and ignoring Vista.

But IE 10 also has some important security improvements and is an all-round better browser with better access for things like HTML5 functionality and do not track functions. It also plays nicer with web standards and fits into 30 that were not adopted in IE9.

Like IE10 for Windows 8 and Windows RT, IE10 for Windows 7 is optimised for touch, which will be largely seen as pretty pointless for corporations. However unlike the Windows 8 and Windows RT versions, IE10 for Windows 7 places the URL bar at the top of the screen, not the bottom.
These sorts of functions and the fact that IE 10 on Windows 7 includes improved JavaScript performance, and a focus on battery life improvements for mobile PCs means that it will make an easier sale to outfits who are mulling over a BYOD policy.

More from Microsoft here. 

Google starts to recruit resellers against Amazon Cloud

cloud 2Google and Amazon have been scrapping it out for dominance of the skies, but now it seems that the search engine Zeppelin may be trying to recruit resellers to help out.

According to GigaomGoogle has signed up its first reseller, a company called RightScale, which is offering a “cloud management platform”.

It helps an enterprise automate routine tasks, monitor usage and monthly costs, and control security options.

As a reseller RightScale works with other major providers of Internet-delivered computing power and storage, including Amazon, RackSpace, HP Cloud, and Windows Azure. But its products have always worked with Compute Engine since Google launched the cloud service in June.

What this means is that Google has finally woken up and realised that its enterprise customers not only need someone to sell them the products, but also hold their hands if something goes tits up.
One of the difficulties that Google has had is that the company is so big, that getting information on its products, particularly when something goes wrong, is difficult.

But there are some elements of self-protection here. This partnership announcement comes a week after Amazon launched a new service called OpsWorks, which competes with RightScale. This means that by having resellers Google and the reseller can protect each other from the Amazon juggernaut.

In the long term Google will probably do better than Amazon. It has a lot more experience running Apps on the Cloud, and soon its products will be faster and cheaper but this announcement is a reminder that even super-companies like Google need resellers to get their products out there.
Google is also the new kid on the block and many corporate customers will not be aware that it is out there yet. Having a reseller pushing product is one way of raising the profile.

Retail sales index slump blamed on weather

snow-london

UK retail sales are down and it seems the slump is worse than economists had predicted. According to the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), retail sales will hit a five-month low in February.

Although volumes continued to strengthen in the first half of February, the pace of growth slowed down once again. CBI found that 37 percent of retailers saw an increase in their volume in early 2013, while 29 percent reported a decline.

The resulting balance of 8 percent was the lowest figure since September 2012. It was also the third consecutive month in which the pace of growth had slowed. Economists expected growth to drop to 16 percent, down from 17 in January. They also expected the volume of orders to remain flat, but they fell 19 percent, the lowest figure since November 2011.

However, it is not all doom and gloom. CBI reckons the business situation is actually improving. The business situation balance rose to +12, the best result since August 2011. Some retail sub-sectors also did quite well, such as clothing, furniture and none-store goods, which includes online and mail order sales. In fact, non-store sales were up 70 percent.

“We all know trading is tough, and the bad weather hasn’t exactly been encouraging shoppers to hit the high street lately,” said Barry Williams, Chairman of the CBI Distributive Trades Survey.

So, it appears that strong non-store sales had a lot to do with horrid weather, and the weather also contributed to the sharp decline in retail footfall last month.

Markitx offers buying and selling of used IT equipment

Hands across the waterA Chicago based startup offering the opportunity to buy and sell used IT equipment within the enterprise sector has been launched.

However some resellers have stressed that the new model could account for a demise in sales from traditional channels as well as encourage the buying and selling of stolen goods.

MarkITx claims to enable enterprises to make more money from their used equipment through a buying and selling site where a pair who agree on a transaction remain anonymous to each other.

It said that this could help sellers make more money from items which are traditionally traded in or sold at rock bottom prices as company’s are in a rush to get rid of this stock.

The exchange is said to work by buyers posting what they want and what they are prepared to pay for a particular item and sellers respond with a post about what they have and the quality the product is in.

MarkITx said it also acts as a mediator, recommending prices that the stock should be sold at to ensure buyers get a fair deal.

However resellers aren’t convinced.

One told ChannelEye: “I’m not entirely sure how this works but from first glance it looks to me like its just another way to drive resellers out of the market further.

“This marketplace will clearly offer cheaper priced items, whether second hand or not, which can be sold on to consumers and businesses at a cheaper price than many of us could offer.”

Another added: “Nice idea but it sounds to me like an excuse to pick up knock off gear. Is there certification of where this came from?”

Tesco depot staff face job losses

tescoTesco’s “You shop, we drop” strapline, seems to have taken on a more sinister meaning after the company announced that it would be axing at least 150 jobs.

The company has said the cuts come as it aims to transfers 2,000 depot jobs in a  restructuring effort after it announced that it would be closing three centres in its distribution sector.

The depots facing the closure are Harlow, which has 800 workers, Barlborough near Chester, which employs 400 people, and Weybridge in Surrey with 650 staff.

The company’s site in Magor in Monmouthshire, which employs 800 people, has also admitted that it will be cutting 150 staff.

The supermarket has said that it will aim to transfer some jobs to its new shiny depots in Berkshire and London where it said 2,000 would be created.

It also claimed that it would aim to give staff in the closing down depots new jobs within the company.

However,  local workers have spoken out, telling the Harlow Star that many won’t be willing to uproot their families to move to the new locations.

This isn’t the first time this year that the company’s distribution sites have been in the news. Earlier this month ex Tesco warehouse staff and forklift drivers spoke out, claiming that they were forced to wear armbands so Tesco could monitor their work efficiency and the amount of time they took for breaks.

At the time Tesco denied that the bands were used for staff monitoring, claiming that they were only used by drivers to scan the stock they collected from supermarket distribution points and send it out for delivery. It said this meant staff didn’t have to worry about carrying around pads and paper.

However, workers claimed that they had been used to spy on them with some saying they had been called in front of management if they took unscheduled toilet breaks.

Over in the company’s marketing department, however, the story is completely different – with reports that the supermarket is looking to fill 40 vacancies.

Jobs going include head of online marketing for F&F and marketing manager for Clubcard, as the company aims to drive its online and internal communications initiative.

Primark and Domino’s do well

domsIt seems the current economic climate hasn’t got in the way of fast food fans, with Domino’s Pizza announcing that our appetite for the “treat” will help it generate 1,500 jobs this year.

The news comes after the cheesy chain, which promises to deliver within 30 mins, announced that it had sold 61 million pizzas last year, resulting in its 2012 annual profits rising by 11 percent to £46.7 million.

However, it admitted that on average its serving area was small, estimating that on average 19 percent of households were customers.

As a result the company has baked a plan to create more franchise-run stores as part of a drive for around 1,200 outlets, which it hopes will expand its customer waistlines, reach.

More than half of sales were made online, with 56 percent accounting for internet orders  compared to 44 percent a year earlier.

The chain said the rise was as a result of a range of factors. This included store openings, online demand, new stuffed-crust products and a busy summer of sporting events.

Its UK franchisees opened 57 new shops – taking the total to 727.

However 2013 had seen a flat start as a result of the snowy weather which  forced 498 UK stores to close at some point during the first seven weeks of the year.

And it’s not just Domino’s which is raking in the cash, with Associated British Foods claiming it will see a rise in its profits this year as a result of its clothing arm Primark riding high on the highstreet waves.

The company said sales at the cheap clothing chain had risen by 25 percent in the last six months and by seven percent from shops which had been open at least a year.

Over this period the company had opened 15 new stores, including a second store on London’s Oxford Street.

Posh hotels gouge guests for Wi-Fi

hotel-roomIt is no secret that free Wi-Fi is good for business, so it is available practically everywhere, from pubs and service stations, to public institutions.

However, it is still not available in most hotels and according to a survey carried out by travel site Gogobot, posh hotels are still charging an arm and a leg for a bit of Wi-Fi.

On the face of it, there is nothing wrong with charging a few pounds for unlimited Wi-Fi, but the survey also confirms another angle – the pricier the hotel, the pricier the Wi-Fi. It is cheeky, to say the least.

Gogobot’s survey of UK hotels revealed that some establishments, such as the Hilton, charge as much as £15 per day. Smaller boutique or independent hotels are cheaper and some offer free Wi-Fi, while others charge up to £5 and £8 per day. It doesn’t sound like too much, but the cost can quickly add up in a matter of days and it is obvious that frequent travellers (or their employers) could end up wasting hundreds of pounds on overpriced Wi-Fi over the course of a single year.

What’s more, the survey found that Wi-Fi access was at times spotty and unreliable, reports Mashable. Quality remains a problem, no matter how much you pay.

“There is no correlation between the amount you pay and the quality you get,” Kelly Lees, general manager in Europe said. She argued that tetherless travel is here to stay and the days of connecting to the internet using Ethernet in hotels are “long gone”.

However, things could be about to change. Lees says Wi-Fi prices are starting to affect hotel ratings. Travellers who believe they were ripped off on Wi-Fi will not give hotels a five-star rating. In addition, the availability of low cost 3G/4G services could make hotel Wi-Fi as obsolete as Ethernet, unless hotels finally realize that they stand to gain more by offering free Wi-Fi rather than making their guests pay through the nose for every byte consumed on business trips.

Warehouse space hits record low

forkliftRetail is hurting and the slowdown now appears to be trickling down to warehouse outfits, who are slowly running out of space. 

According to a report from Jones Lang LaSalle, the amount of warehouse space available in the UK is at its lowest level since records began. Some regions are already experiencing shortages of immediately available space.

Tim Johnson of Jones Lang LaSalle told Logistics Manager that the amount of immediately available new floor space is at its lowest level since his outfit started keeping records and it currently sits at just 8 million sq ft UK-wide.

“This is 71 per cent below its pre-recession peak of nearly 29 million sq ft in March 2008 – this definitely affected take up levels last year,” he said.

The vacancy rate in December 2012 stood at about 10 percent across the UK. Overall take-up in 2012 was lower than in 2011 due to a lower level of overall economic activity. Worse, occupier demand slowed down in 2012, but even so the amount of available space kept declining. Construction of new facilities slowed down after the 2008 meltdown and it is currently at the lowest level since 2005.

Jon Sleeman, director EMEA Logistics & Industrial Research at Jones Lang LaSalle, pointed out that the availability of good quality space is now becoming a real issue and some clients are being forced to consider alternatives, such as build to suit developments. On a positive note, he argued that some developers with infrastructure and planning in place stand to benefit from the downturn.

Cachet to offer Prelert’s Anomaly Detective

holmesBritish reseller Cachet Software has just got the contract to offer Prelert’s predictive analytics software in the automation and operational risk sectors.

Prelert’s Anomaly Detective for Splunk Enterprise will now be on offer from Cachet in the UK, which uses automated intelligence to work out risk and behavioural changes hiding out somewhere in the data. By predicting, finding and fixing this data, Prelert says operational efficiencies are increased “dramatically”.

The MD at Cachet said the analytics technology will fit in nicely with its existing portfolio. Stuart Kenley said in a statement that Prelert’s software provides “fast and efficient” data analytics that will let customers tinker with and improve the availability and performance of their IT systems.

Customers will be able to download and install Anomaly Detective in “minutes” to integrate with Splunk Enterprise. Prelert boasted that the software is completely self learning and as such doesn’t require much configuration.

Intel Ultrabooks are the “Titanic of the 21st Century”

Der Untergang der TitanicResellers have lit into Intel Ultrabooks likening the range to the “the Titanic of the 21st Century,” and calling the products a “sinking expense.”

The comments come as resellers are still seeing bleak sales  for  these products, with some saying they can’t see a light at the end of the dismal tunnel.

Intel’s slim line babies had been touted as a lighter way to work, however, according to recent research by IDC, the company’s emphasis on its skinny form factor did it no favours as the price tag is still sky high.

However, it seems the stubbornness of the company, and its reluctance to cut prices, have angered resellers.

“Ultrabooks have really been the Titanic of the 21st Century. A disaster, and sinking expense,” one told ChannelEye today.

“It seems to me that whatever Intel does, and however much it throws at this brand, it’s just not going to take off unless it reduces prices for these ranges significantly.

“However what we’ve heard from the company hints that this isn’t going to happen, meaning we’ll once again be left with surplus stock and low margins as a result.”

Others agreed, claiming that the price point was the thorn in Intel’s side.

“Ultrabooks still aren’t doing as well as we would have liked. No one wants an overpriced laptop at the moment and the slim USP it’s got going on just isn’t attracting consumers,” another reseller told ChannelEye.

“There are cheaper, but bigger laptops that offer similar features that just make purchases more justified.”

Others have also pointed out that although the company could cash in on the upcoming holidays, consumers again would be reluctant to opt for this product with tablets offering a better price point.

“We’re hoping to see a rise in Ultrabook sales as the summer holidays come around, but it’s market. Some families who are going away will be looking for a light device that can keep kids occupied on a plane as well as act as a virtual mag/book.

“Although an Ultrabook would be perfect for this, the reality is the price points will push many to a tablet,” he added.

Windows 8 touch screens fail to thrill

msTouch-screen Windows 8 portable PCs are still failing to cut the mustard in Europe with cpeople preferring to spend their cash on tablets.

That’s the latest from IT market research company Context, which has said that this could lie in the fact that at the October Windows 8 launch last year, there was no significant support from leading hardware vendors for touch screens in portable PCs.

It added that at the time only 1.1 percent of all the Windows 8 portable PCs selling through distribution at the time of the launch were touch screen-enabled. By the end of January this year, this had only risen to 2.4 percent, while tablet sales had increased “significantly” over the same period.

However, the momentum is still upbeat with hardware vendors surveyed by Context claiming that they are anticipating some uptake in sales of touch screen enabled portable PCs by the third quarter of 2013 in time for the end of year holiday season.

The company warned that with the price of 15-inch and higher touch screens still expensive, making the portables a high-priced item, the cheaper tablets could potentially dampen touch screen sales.

Ingram Micro creates new business unit

IMIngram Micro has merged its recent BrightPoint purchase to make a new business unit in the company.

The distie announced at Mobile World Congress that it had created Ingram Micro Mobility, which had been made up of its existing mobile group and BrightPoint, which it bought in October last year.

It claimed the new division will give customers more options as a result of the combined capabilities and reach of both companies.

Ingram Micro Mobility is said to offers a complete end-to-end service for the lifecycle of mobile devices – moving mobile products from manufacturing, providing customisation services, fulfilling through all channels, managing transportation and logistics, and providing complete integrated reverse and recover services.

It claimed the services would also support moving and selling mobility products through markets across the globe with a single partner.

Ingram Micro Mobility vendors are also claimed to be given better benefits and services through the new division as they can apparently further optimise their supply chains with BrightPoint’s experience in device lifecycle services.

BrightPoint product vendors also get advantages with claims that they can gain access to new selling channels as BrightPoint’s product portfolio is cross-sold into Ingram Micro’s sales channels.

The distie will also target new markets including Vietnam, Philippines, South Africa, China, Hong Kong, France, Latin America and Canada, which can access Ingram Micro’s and BrightPoint’s joint capabilities.

HP tells partners to “look inside”® for CPUs

Look inside at The Venetian, Las VegasAt its Global Partner Conference (GPC) held at the Venetian, Las Vegas last week, we asked senior suits at the company whether Hewlett Packard was Intel only.

Executives told us foreign journalists that it was CPU agnostic, and that we should “look inside” to fashion our “ecosystem” experience.

A direct question elicited the response that if we looked inside HP servers we would find various microprocessors powering its servers, including ARM and AMD. Just look inside, we were told.  HP is not only an Intel company. Look inside!  Sounds like a Buddhist idea, but we’ll take HP’s word for it. For now.

Anna Cheng, a PR rep at Intel UK, declined to comment “on rumours and speculation”. Intel does own trademark “The Journey Inside“, which is pretty Zennish. ®