Category: News

Demand for SSDs to stay strong

hdd-hugeAlthough the PC market has seen better days, shipments of solid state drives are expected to grow more than 600 percent by 2017, according to the latest figures released by IHS. However, even at this rate, two thirds of PCs shipped in 2017 will still have mechanical hard drives, although many of them will probably be hybrids. 

PC SSD shipments are expected to hit 227 million units in 2017, up from 31 million last year.

Hard drive shipments will drop to 410 million by 2017, down 14 percent from 475 million in 2012. In just five short years SSDs will claim 36 percent of the market, up from just six percent last year. HDDs will account for the remaining 64 percent, but memory makers stand to cash in from them as well, as hybrid drives hit the market in ever increasing numbers.

The driving force behind the SSD boom will be ultrabooks and other ultrathin devices. IHS analyst Fang Zhang believes ultrabooks and ultrathins, combined with touch screens and convertible form factors, will become very compelling machines, designed to lure consumers away from smartphones and tablets.

Of course, none of this is possible without more consumer interest. Although enthusiasts have been buying SSDs for years, the standard PC box buyer doesn’t care too much about the latest storage technology, which is still too pricey for mainstream adoption. Ultrabooks are slowly changing the public perception of SSDs are geeky devices for gamers and enthusiasts. Consumers are slowly starting to appreciate the added agility and responsiveness of SSD-based systems, and prices are tumbling as well.

On Tuesday Seagate announced its first series of SSD products designed to cover all market segments. The news was closely followed by an announcement from Western Digital and SadDisk, who will collaborate on new hybrid drives. Traditional HDD churners simply have to transition to SSDs and hybrid drives, it is just a matter of time.

“SSDs have dropped in price this year. The industry would probably put this down to supply and demand – but if I’m honest I think it’s all down to competition. Big players are moving in and really taking this industry to the next level – this week WD and Seagate separately announced their SSD push – and it wouldn’t surprise me if these larger players triggered a price war to push smaller players out of the market,” a reseller told us. “In terms of getting consumers more involved isn’t it just a case of making them a more prominent feature of gadgets and cost points? The average consumer just cares about what they can get and for how much.”

More marketing cash from the likes of Seagate and Western Digital will help, but so will tablets and smartphones. Consumer are already enjoying the perks of speedy solid state storage on their iPads and Androids, which means they are far more likely to go for an SSD based PC next time they upgrade. It is basically a case of not downgrading from a horse to a donkey, as Balkanese old wise men would say.

Kids buy apps and raid parents’ accounts

Apple, iPadChildren are costing their parents cash, running up bills on apps and in-app purchases on their tablets and smartphones.

According to research conducted by Microsoft, parents have spent on average an extra £341 on their bills, unaware of their kids’ app spending, totalling over £30 million for parents across the nation.

Over a quarter of the 2000 parents asked admitted to falling foul of their kids making unauthorised app and in-app purchases, with 83 percent of these parents suffering from an increased monthly bill as a result.

Just over one in ten parents said that they were concerned they were unable to pay the extra cost, while  a third have resorted to hiding their smartphone and tablet from their kids.

Nonetheless, 17 percent of UK parents still share their smartphone and tablet passwords with their children, with 23.5 percent of parents not having a security password at all.

Eight year olds are running up the largest app costs, having added on average an extra £59.59 to their parents’ smartphone or tablet bill.  And, demonstrating the widespread issue of ‘accidental’ buys by very young children, well over a third of kids aged four and under have made app and in-app purchases without permission.

The research reveals that fun-loving kids are spending on average three hours and 21 minutes a week playing smartphone games and apps. Surprisingly, one in ten parents give their children free rein to access whatever content they want and over half link their smartphone or tablet to a subscription service or direct debit account that can be easily accessed.

As well as the financial implications of the unsupervised use of a parent’s smartphone or tablet, there is also the risk of social media pranks. Over a quarter of kids have sneakily updated a parent’s Facebook status, and one in five updated their Twitter status.

Potentially causing a career limiting move, one in ten kids have also hijacked a parent’s Facebook profile to comment on or insult their boss.

Microsoft said its Windows Phone 8 handsets could help parents reduce the likelihood of suffering ‘bill shock’, providing a Kid’s Corner feature which prohibits in-app purchases and only lets kids roam around in the specific area.

Resellers need wider mobility portfolios

DominicWordsworth_newResellers must begin to start building wider mobility portfolios and get cosy with disties in a bid to exploit the latest opportunities within the market, Computerlinks has said.

The company, which earlier this week announced an agreement in the UK and Germany with MobileIron, said the recent BYOD trend had been  good for starting conversations about mobility strategies organisations.

However, Dominic Wordsworth, product group manager at the company pointed out that the industry was now moving beyond just securing devices to considering how they can make staff not only mobile but also productive.

“MDM was the ‘knee jerk’ reaction by many to BYOD (both vendors and end-users) – securing the devise is an important start, but enabling and managing applications is the real challenge,” he told ChannelEye.

He pointed out that the companies with insight who initiated pilot mobility projects were now starting to move into company-wide rollouts.

“[This gives] the channel plenty of opportunities to get involved as businesses need to evaluate what applications are needed, who needs them and why. Vanity projects such as handing out iPads to executives are becoming more scarce, as organisations are becoming to demand real value from all of their devices,” he added.

Many channel partners are offering mobility products which allow IT departments to manage devices, however, Wordsworth claimed it was becoming clear that security was not the only factor at play here.

“To exploit the latest opportunities in the market, resellers should be building wider mobility portfolios around devices, applications and content. Focusing on one aspect of the mobility pitch won’t bring in those high-value contracts as organisations will generally be looking for the whole package rather than just a point solution.

“One way resellers can get ahead of the competition is by working with distributors that can offer extra services to help companies get mobile more easily, such as pre-sales support which can gives them access to current market expertise and knowledge,” he said.

Computerlinks claims that its new partnership with MobileIron will further continue to help resellers to drive their customers to deliver useful business applications to users over enhanced mobile networks to a secure endpoint, whatever the device.

It has also promised training for its channel partners around the new announcement, as well as helping them take advantage of its highly qualified pre and post sales consultants to support their own teams.

Dell attacks Cisco in mid-market

mikedellcloseupDell is talking big about taking on network behemoth Cisco, announcing its SonicWall NSA firewalls that it believes will disrupt the market.

Dell is promising protection for mid-sized organisations with its latest firewalls, promising customers that the SonicWall NSA software will assure “optimal network performance and total cost of ownership”, going on to say that its technology will even “render competitors’ traditional firewalls obsolete”.

Using a patented single pass, low latency Reassembly Free Deep Packet Inspection, or RFDPI engine, this kit, Dell claims, has enough power to take note of all network traffic, no matter the port or protocol, and can block threats before they worm their way into the network.

Dell boasts that the RFDPI engine has the twin benefit of combining a firewall with an intrusion protection system, and the software sports features like 10GbE SPF+ interfaces and high performance SSL decryption. Medium sized organisations will be able to use the kit to take advantage of security usually only afforded for enterprise grade network security, Dell claims.

Dell exec director in product management, Patrick Sweeney, said the company believes these “products are game-changers as we take on Cisco in the critical mid-market”.

As web threats get more sophisticated, penny pinching mid sized organisations swamped by economic stagnation need excellent security to make sure they are not even more vulnerable than they already are. Problems with funding staff training or specialisation are common, too, so Dell thinks its latest product can help.

Avaya loves its partners

Hands across the waterAvaya is moving to help partners and disties speed up access to its portfolio of unified communications, contact centre, networking, and SME products.

The business communications and collaboration systems and services company has announced that it will be rolling out its Avaya One Source globally.

It’s also announced three new Avaya Aura suites of UC, mobility and collaboration applications that help simplify pricing and the delivery of UC applications.

According to the company, the suites make it easy and cost-effective for channel partners and customers to select and deploy the right mix of UC capabilities across their entire workforce.

Avaya One Source is said to speed quoting and ordering of all Avaya products through more efficient pricing, processes and tools.  New automation capabilities, real-time access to standardised pricing, and an integrated and centralised web-based system is also claimed to significantly reduce order cycle times, enabling channel partners to deliver quicker responses to customers.

The service is said to be available to all 9,000 Avaya Connect channel partners and will also include simplified global pricing and discounting reduces 1,400 Avaya material price groups to 13 and combines over 200 separate pricing catalogs into one.

Avaya One Source is already deployed in key regions throughout the world, with full deployment planned for all countries in Europe, Africa, the Middle East and Asia Pacific by July.

Tradeshift shouts about success

megaPhTradeshift has released a teaser statement declaring its  success in the first quarter of this year.

The company, which has reams of blog posts about how well it’s been doing, has announced that 250,000 new suppliers have joined up to its services.

Tradeshift first began by helping companies handle invoicing online. Since, it has grown into offering customers a range of apps that allow them to add functionality such as quotes and purchase orders.

The company said it had seen new clients such as  Deutsche Post DHL with large supplier volumes, as well as a “massive” public sector organisation with 130k suppliers joining its books.

A global healthcare company, claimed to have 15,000 suppliers, as well as products sold worldwide through subsidiaries and distributors, had joined Tradeshift’s books, while a  global publisher working with 5,000 suppliers in the industry has also signed up.

Though it is just releasing teaser statements for now, it promised more details would be available soon. Existing customers include the NHS and the French government.

McAfee, Stonesoft merger bad news for channel

Intel-logoCompetition in the security market is increasing, meaning businesses and consumers could eventually end up paying higher prices to keep their PCs protected, resellers have warned.

The comments come as it was announced that Intel’s McAfee was splashing $389 million on the purchase of Stonesoft a security company that delivers software-based customer-driven cyber security products to secure information flow and simplify security management.

McAfee said Stonesoft’s product portfolio of next-generation firewalls would help it “extend its leadership position in network security.” It said it planned to integrate Stonesoft’s offerings with other McAfee products such as its cloud-based Global Threat Intelligence services.

However, resellers aren’t convinced the company is doing it to perfect the security world, claiming the buyout will stifle competition and keep customers “over barrels.”

“Intel and other big vendors are gobbling up smaller companies, closing the competition,” one told ChannelEye.

“This means that eventually we’ll be left offering clients only a few security software options at higher prices for the vendors but lower margins for us as we try and compensate for their greed.”

Another agreed, claiming companies were using the fact that everyone needed security to rake in the cash.

“The security world has gone mad. But then big security companies can afford to splash the cash. Not only do they charge extortionate amounts for security but have many over a barrel. It’s like car insurance,” he told ChannelEye.

“Everyone needs it to be safe but no one wants to pay the premiums for it.”

Others also pointed out that although it was a good time to be in security, resellers rarely benefited.

“It’s big money in the security software market if you’re at the top, as this proposed buyout has shown,” he said.

“However resellers like us rarely see the fruits of the profits. Our clients are often quite au fait with security and buy off the shelf, or won’t spend the money we require to see rewards.”

Seagate’s SSD push starts to take shape in Colorado

seagate-longmontHard drive maker Seagate is planning a big push into the solid-drive market and now it seems to be making its first move. The company is hosting a job fair in Longmont later this week and it is looking to hire about 150 people, mostly engineers. 

Seagate’s 1,250-strong Colorado Design Centre is based in Longmont and it seems it will lead Seagate’s SSD push. Gary Gentry, Seagate VP and general manager of the company’s SSD business, said his client SSD team will be headquartered in Longmont. 

“We already have a substantial group and we’re expanding the technology, the product and the business development here in Longmont,” he told Timescall.com.

Seagate’s new 600-series SSDs will be marketed to consumers and OEMs alike, marking a new era in the company’s history. The drives will be available in multiple capacities up to 480GB and they will fit standard hard drive bays, which means we are probably looking at 2.5-inch 7mm units. In addition, Seagate also plans to develop a series of business oriented SSDs at Longmont.

This won’t be the first time Longmont dabbled in flash. The centre was instrumental in the development of Seagate’s hybrid drives (SSHDs) a couple of years ago. It got the job done and Seagate was the first hard drive market to successfully introduce 2.5-inch hybrids. Earlier this year it upgraded and expanded its SSHD offer.

Seagate VP and management lead for the centre Jeff Mason said his team is also developing drives specifically designed to suit the needs of large-scale cloud storage systems. He said the job fair is Seagate’s biggest recruitment in a decade and said the hiring will occur throughout the year.

Although Seagate is betting big on SSDs, it won’t leave the traditional HDD market anytime soon.

“There’s not enough SSD production in the world to replace the amount of storage that magnetic storage devices provide,” said Mason.

Mason pointed out that mobile devices are not a “displacer” for mechanical storage, but rather a stimulant, as mobile devices tend to rely on cloud storage, which is still largely based on mechanical drives.

UK retail sector healthier than in last two years

snow-londonAt its latest quarterly meeting in April, the KPMG/Ipsos Retail Think Tank (RTT) came to the conclusion that the health of the UK retail sector is improving.

The RTT upped its Retail Health Index by one point to 77 points, the best result in two and a half years.

The RTT cited a marginal lift in demand as the main factor underlining the recovery and things could have been even better had the first quarter of the year not been marred by unusually cold weather. Christmas sales were strong, the food sector performed exceptionally well and the decline in footfall, caused by wintry weather, did not hurt overall demand. Gadgets also did well, as consumers decided to stay indoors and chuck Angry Birds on their shiny new tablets.

However, retailers’ margins weren’t as good. Food margins remained flat and margins on technology products remain low. Costs stayed flat. Although multichannel operations continued to spend more on fuel and energy, this was offset by reductions in estate sizes and creative cost cutting measures.

The outlook for retail health in the second quarter is not so great and it is expected to stay flat, reports FreshBusinessThinking.com. Consumer confidence remains low, inflation is rearing its ugly face again, fuel and energy prices are set to rise, demand still looks very soft.

“Overall the quarter was quite an even one for UK retailers as demand, margins and costs all remained relatively static and it looks like we’re at the bottom of the decline,” said David McCorquodale, Head of Retail, KPMG UK. “The weather did affect demand in terms of footfall being down, but otherwise sales were largely ok.”

BCS swallows Institute for the Management of Info Systems

ukflagBritain’s Institute for the Management of Information Systems is joining with the BCS, the Chartered Institute for IT, effective immediately.

All IMIS members will now become BCS members. The idea is that the two groups will try to maintain standards and promote the professional reputation so that it can be recognised alongside established professions such as law and engineering.

The two hope that, together, they will be able to have a “stronger united voice to policy decisions” that have wider repercussions in the industry and internationally.

IMIS has previously been working to promote better understanding of information systems management, and has worked to provide leverage to those working in the profession, as well as promoting higher standards in education and training. Both it and the BCS are registered charities.

BCS group’s chief exec David Clarke said in a statement: “Today IT is central to society and business, therefore it is important that we establish standards for those currently working in the profession, encourage the next generation to consider IT as a future career choice and raise awareness among the general public of the importance of the profession”.

Prof Simon Rogerson, chair of IMIS Council, said that “together our organisations will offer the best opportunity for members to continue to meet their academic, professional and career requirements”.

 

Scotch Whisky industry escalator for sales causes slump

scotch-whiskySales of Scotch whisky in the UK have declined 12 percent over the last five years and the Scotch Whisky Association has pinned the blame for the slump on the alcohol duty escalator. In 2012 Brits bought 90 million bottles of whisky, down from 102 million in pre-recession 2007.

The escalator increases the duty on whisky by two percent above inflation every single year and to make matters worse the 2013 Budget also featured an increase in duty of 5.3 percent, reports Tax-News.com.

The Scotch Whisky Association says tax accounts for 80 percent of the total retail price of a bottle of whisky. Furthermore, beer is not covered by the escalator, hence the association believes the exemption unfairly distorts the market, as whisky lovers are paying 48 percent more duty than beer guzzlers. The association is now calling for the duty escalator to be scrapped altogether.

“There is no justification for spirits being taxed more heavily than beer. After more than half a decade, the Government should review the duty escalator rather than maintain the mantra that it should run for the remainder of this Parliament. The escalator will further depress the volume of sales of Scotch whisky in the UK,” said Gavin Hewitt, chief executive of the SWA,

The Scotch Whisky Association pointed out that the Scotch whisky industry supports 35,000 jobs across the UK, including quite a few in economically deprived areas, i.e. Scotland.

Authorize.Net lands in Blighty, Euroland

authorize.netPayment gateway Authorize.Net is now available for British and European merchants, dealing in GBP, EUR and USD. Authorize.Net is a small business solution from CyberSource, a Visa company. It is a popular payment platform designed to accept and manage card transactions, fight fraud and automate recurring transactions.

Simon Stokes, managing director EMEA at CyberSource, said the platform is now able to cater to merchants of all sizes throughout the UK, ranging from home-based start-ups to the biggest enterprise merchants. He was quick to point out that Authorize.Net is the most popular payment gateway in the US. Currently more than 380,000 merchants use Authorize.Net stateside.

“We believe UK merchants will benefit greatly from Authorize.Net’s stability, ease of use, and award winning support,” said Stokes.

In addition to bank card processing, Authorize.Net also provides merchants with a virtual terminal and a website payments seal. It also supports recurring billing, a suit of fraud detection filters and secure data storage. CyberSource also likes to point out that Authorize.Net’s customer support has received quality awards for four years running, so timely support shouldn’t be an issue.

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.