Category: News

Westcon-Comstor expected to be sold

ForSaleThe dark satanic rumour mill has manufactured a hell on earth yarn claiming that Westcon-Comstor is about to be sold off.

Datatec, the parent company of WestconGroup and Logicalis, has confirmed that it is in the process of negotiating “a material transaction” and the rumour is that its $4.9 billion distributor is going to be flogged off.

Datatec has told the regulators that the “material transaction” could have a material effect on the $6.5 billion company’s stock price if it is successfully completed.

Westcon-Comstor has not been doing that well over recent quarters. Westcon’s revenue fell 10 percent in the most recent filing period to $2.26 billion, with sales dropping everywhere except Asia-Pacific. The rumour is that it makes sense to off-load it, however no one is confirming anything. .

One of the reasons for the company’s woes is that its Latin America was sucking it dry and it was costing a fortune to transform the company’s business process outsourcing (BPO) practice.

Datatec spent $160 million in June 1998 to buy a 92.5 percent stake in WestconGroup and quickly expanded into Europe, which now accounts for 34 percent of the distributor’s overall sales.

Context claims commercial users buying PCs

Beancounters at Context claim that PC sales through distribution across Western Europe in Q4 show that the commercial market is still buying PCs.

Apparently while consumer sales continue to slump, commercial PC sales continued to hold up towards the end of last year and gave a fillip for resellers.

Context pointed out that the fourth quarter is always traditionally a busy period in the PC hardware world and the market for Western Europe was hit by “soft consumer performance”, which dragged it down by two percent compared to last year.

Windows 10 is starting to become a significant driver of sales with distributors handling more Win 10 pre-installed machines in the fourth quarter, Context said.

Commercial sales were up by six percent year-on-year with all categories delivering growth.

Notebooks were up nine per cent, desktops two percent and workstations by one percent. Detachables, which includes the iPad Pro and Surface Pro also continue to remain in demand.

It is the consumer space which has been proven to be pants since 2016. Volume sales of PCs aimed at home users dropped by seven percent. All categories were down but the worst was desktops with a 16 percent fall.

Marie-Christine Pygott, senior analyst at Context said that Windows 10 began to play a stronger role in the commercial segment in Q4 2016.

“38 percent of Windows Business PCs sold through Western European distributors during the quarter featured Windows 10 Pro compared to 22 percent in the third quarter.”

The performance of the enterprise market has given hope to those vendors that continue to fight for market share in the PC market and has been used as evidence by the likes of Lenovo that there is still gold in them thar hills.

Wobbly PC market stabilises in EMEA

Bike-blog--Young-child-on-010Figures just in from IDC show that the EMEA PC market stabilised in the fourth quarter.

After adding up some numbers and dividing by their shoe size, the IDC beancounters worked out that the market had declined only 0.2 percent annually, thanks to strong demand in the commercial space and a Chromebooks boom.

If it had not been for Brexit vote caused a slump in Blighty of 6.2 percent year on year everything in the region would have been good – another reason for suppliers to string up Nigel Farrage, Boris Johnson and Michael Grove.

“As the pound has become a turbulent currency following Brexit in the UK, the British traditional PC market was impacted negatively, down 6.2 percent,” said IDC.

In the final quarter of 2016, total PC shipments in EMEA reached 20.7 million, down 0.2 percent year on year. Notebooks performed well in the region, up 2.9 percent, and “strong demand” was triggered in the commercial space, which grew 10.1 percent.

During 2016, PC shipments fell 6.1 percent to 71.6 million units.

The biggest disappointment was that Windows 10 “did not drive extensive renewals.” The money spinners were Chromebooks which led to “strong demand for notebooks” in the second half of the year thanks to a boom in the education market.

Although the whole EMEA region performed well in Q4, the same could not be said for the UK.

Senior research analyst, IDC EMEA Personal Computing Malini Paul, said that the western European PC market performed better than expected in 2016’s Q4, thanks to notebooks in both the consumer and commercial segments.

“While promotions around Black Friday and the post-Christmas period supported the strong seasonality of the holiday period, fulfilling backlogs from 2016’s Q3 due to component shortages contributed to the sell-in uptake in the consumer space.”

Cisco buys AppDynamics

Cisco Kid Cisco has written a $3.7 billion cheque for the business software company AppDynamics in one of its largest deals of recent years.

The move will see Cisco looking for new business outside its core networking business. Cisco has been trying to shift its strategy to stay ahead of technology developments, such as the rise of cloud computing.

Cisco’s announcement comes a week after HPE said it would buy cloud startup SimpliVity for $650 million.

Rob Salvagno, Cisco’s vice president of corporate development, said in an interview that the acquisition fits Cisco’s long-term direction and its transition toward software.

AppDynamics makes software that manages and analyses applications and it has about 2,000 paying customers, including NASDAQ, Nike and its new owner, Cisco.

Cisco wrote its cheque the day before the San Franciso-based firm was planning to price its long-planned IPO.

It is Cisco’s largest acquisition since it bought security company Sourcefire for $2.7 billion in 2013.

Computacenter did OK in a miserable UK

boris-parachuteComputacenter  has issued an interim statement for 2016 where it said that it had done OK in a miserable period of UK history.

Computacenter said it had a lot to be happy about with a strong pipeline of managed services opportunities.  The channel giant said that the 12 months ending 31 December had been ok overall the Group’s numbers will be in line with board expectations.

Group revenue was up by six percent for the year, service turnover improved by five percent and supply chain revenue was up by seven percent. Currency falls had been a real killer. Currency fluctuations with the pound and the dollar have been felt strongly in the UK, with some vendors increasing prices over the last few months and, not surprisingly, the numbers from Computacenter for the performance of this country were slightly down on last year.

UK revenue was down a percent, services dropped by eight percent  with supply chain on the rise by three percent – some of that was as a result of a particularly strong Q4.

The outfit did much better in Germany with three percent growth and services up by seven percent and supply chain by one percent.

“We are encouraged by our performance in 2016 in Germany and pleased with the progress we have made in France. In the UK, the second half performance has been in line with our revised expectations, set at half year after a disappointing first half performance,” stated the firm in the update.

“We expect 2017 to be another year of progress for the Group as we continue our momentum in Germany, maintain our position in France and marginally improve on our 2016 performance in the UK. While in the UK we are reliant on a small number of large opportunities, our Managed Services pipeline across the Group is strong,” the statement added.

Avaya files for Chapter 11 in US

avaya logoThere are a few channel partners who are worried about their relationship with unified comms specialist Avaya which has filed for Chapter 11 protection.

Word on the street is that the outfit owes quite a bit of dosh to its channel partners.

Avaya announced that it had started the Chapter 11 process and would be rebalancing its balance sheet, “to better position itself for the future”.

However there are a few channel names who will be caught up with the case because of the global size of the indirect partner base, which stands at 6,500 as of 30 September last year. More than 74 percent of product revenues in fiscal 2016 came from the channel.

Top if the pile is Avnet which is owed $8.8 million but also hit will be HPE, Salesforce, IBM, Infosys, World Wide Technology and Red Hat.

In a statement the vendor has promised that it will emerge from the current process stronger.

Kevin Kennedy CEO of Avaya insisted the company was performing well, the only problem is that the current capital structure is over 10 years old and was put in place to support its business model as a hardware-focused company.

Things have changed since then and Avaya is saddled with large debt obligations and the upcoming debt maturities. The company needs to be recapitalized, he said.

“Pursuing restructuring through chapter 11 will enable us to reduce Avaya’s debt and interest expense, while providing increased financial flexibility to further invest in innovation and growth to enhance our market-leading competitive position,” he added.

He is also confident he can minimise disruption to our customers, partners, and employees. He did not expect the company to generally experience any material disruptions during the chapter 11 process.

Oracle dumps Solaris 12 for a cloudy future

oracle_sparc_solaris_roadmapIt would appear that Donald (Prince of Orange) Trump’s favourite database maker has dumped Solaris 12 from its roadmap as part of its cloud initiatives.

Oracle published a new roadmap and Solaris 12 is absent. A new blueprint dated January 13, 2017 expunges any mention Solaris 12 in the places where Oracle had included it in the 2014 edition. There is a mention of “Solaris 11.next” as due to debut during this year or the next complete with “Cloud Deployment & Integration Enhancements”.

You can’t find any mention of “Solaris 11.next” anywhere on the worldwide wibble.

Oracle does mention SPARC Next appearing this year in 2020 SPARC Next+. It also hints of plans to launch SPARC infrastructure-as-a-service, probably under the brand “@Customer” with services in “Dedicated Metered & Non-Metered” form.

It appears that there will not be a full new version of SPARC but the existing flavour will be enhanced and will be supported for many years to come.

While it is not the end of Solaris which some have predicted, it does seem to indicate that Oracle has not much will to push through a full version.

Smartphone web sales picking up

tin-can-phoneNew reports suggests that while more orders are being placed via smartphones some retailers are dropping the ball by being too slow.

The latest IMRG Capgemini eRetail Sales Index suggests that as mobile phone screen sizes get bigger, customers are becoming happier about buying online

Capgemini found that £133 billion was spent online with UK retailers last year, which was up by £18 billion on the previous twelve months. The expectation is that the trend will continue and the market will increase by 14 percent  this year as users become more comfortable with online ordering.

Bhavesh Unadkat, principal consultant in retail customer engagement design at Capgemini said that if retailers invested to improve the customer shopping experience, 2017 will be another record breaking year for online sales.

The findings about increased web sales come at a time when research from Interactive Intelligence has shown that those who respond slowly to customer queries are going to lose business.

David Paulding, regional director for Interactive Intelligence, which carried out the research, warned that dealing with customers in a timely way was essential.

“Retailers can benefit from technology such as cloud-based solutions that can far more effectively handle big data analysis across all interaction types. This will ensure timeliness and consistency across every channel which will give customers the best experience possible,” he said.

HP wants to expand into hybrid cloud platforms

cloudThe bit of HP which no longer makes expensive printer ink, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, has written a $650 million cheque for the privately held cloud software company SimpliVity.

The move is part of a cunning plan to expand its operations in the fast-growing market for hybrid cloud platforms.

For those who came in late, hybrid cloud platforms run applications that are based partly on the client’s private servers and partly on public cloud data centers. They are proving rather useful for resellers peddling cloud platforms so HPE jumping on the bandwagon will give them more sales options.

The deal is expected to add to Hewlett Packard Enterprise’s earnings in the first fiscal year after it is completed, the company said.

SimpliVity was founded in 2009 and had raised $276 million in four funding rounds.

Customers will blame companies for data breaches

affiche.Blame.51335Customers believe that outfits who hold their data are responsible for any data breaches and will not see themselves as responsible in anyway.

A new report created by digital security outfit Gemalto said that customers put any responsibility for protecting their personal data firmly at the hands of the organizations holding their data – and not themselves.

Of the 9,000 customers surveyed worldwide, 70 percent of the responsibility for protecting and securing customer data lies with companies and only 30 percent of the responsibility with themselves.

Less than a third of customers believe companies are taking protection of their personal data very seriously. This comes as customers are becoming increasingly fearful of their data being stolen, with 58 percent believing it will happen to them in the future. More than 4.8 billion data records have been exposed since 2013 with identity theft being the leading type of data breach accounting for 64 percent of all data breaches.

Despite becoming more aware of the threats posed to them online, only one in ten believe there are no apps or websites out there that pose the greatest risk to them and consumers are not changing behavior as a result:

• 80 per cent use social media, despite 59 percent believing these networks pose a great risk
• 87 per cent use online or mobile banking, with 34 percent believing they leave them vulnerable to cybercriminals
• Consumers are also more likely to shop online during busy commercial periods such as Black Friday and Christmas (2 percent increase online versus -2 per cent decrease in store), despite 21 percent admitting
the threat of cybercrime increases a lot during these periods

Nearly 60 per cent believe they will be a victim of a breach at some point, and organizations need to be prepared for the loss of business such incidents may cause. Most consumers who currently use the following, say they would stop using a retailer (60 per cent), bank (58 percent) or social media site (56 percent) if it suffered a breach, while 66 per cent say they would be unlikely to do business with an organisation that experienced a breach where their financial and sensitive information was stolen.

The lack of consumer confidence could be due to the lack of strong security measures being implemented by businesses. Within online banking, passwords are still the most common authentication methods – used by 84 per cent for online and 82 per cent for mobile banking, and more advanced transaction security the next highest for both. Solutions like two-factor authentication (43 per cent online and 42 per cent mobile) and data encryption (31 percent online and 27 percent mobile) trail behind.

Similar results can be seen in both the retail space, with only 25 percent of respondents that use online retail accounts claiming two-factor authentication is used on all their apps and websites, and in social media, with only 21 percent using the authentication for all platforms. Only 16 per cent of all respondents admitted to having a complete understanding of what data encryption is and does.

Jason Hart, CTO, Data Protection at Gemalto said that customers have clearly made the decision that they are prepared to take risks when it comes to their security, but should anything go wrong they put the blame with the business.

“The modern-day consumer is all about convenience and they expect businesses to provide this, while also keeping their data safe. With the impending threats of consumers taking legal action against companies, an education process is clearly needed to show consumers the steps they are taking to protect their data. Implementing and educating about advanced protocols like two-factor authentication and encryption solutions, should show consumers that the protection of their personal data is being taken very seriously.”

Microsoft buys Maluuba in AI push

robotsSoftware King of the World Microsoft is working out new ways to push AI enhanced products on the great unwashed.

Over the weekend, it announced that it was buying the startup Maluuba which will help Vole develop products based on natural language deep learning, especially question answering and decision making.

Harry Shum, executive vice president for Microsoft’s Artificial Intelligence and Research Group, wrote in his bog that Maluuba’s expertise in deep learning and reinforcement learning for question-answering and decision-making systems will help it advance our strategy to democratize AI and to make it accessible and valuable to everyone — consumers, businesses and developers.

Vole did not disclose the terms and conditions of the acquisition, or the price. As part of the acquisition, Microsoft will also bring Montreal Institute for Learning Algorithms head Yoshua Bengio on board as an advisor. Bengio was previously an advisor to Maluuba.

Maluuba was founded in 2011, has raised $11 million in equity funding. The company focuses on improving computer systems’ reading comprehension, memory and common sense reasoning abilities.

In September, Redmond, Wash.-based Microsoft also formed the Artificial Intelligence and Research organisation, which the company said would double down on its AI product efforts through research.

Virtual smart home assistants like Amazon Alexa and Google Home have been gaining traction over the past year and will continue to do so. But the key for its partners is that Microsoft can also pave the way for other high-end artificial intelligence applications, including in the medical field.

Chinese tech exports fall as trade war predicted

eclipse-chinaThe place where most tech gadgets are made is suffering from a fall in exports for the second year in a row.

Shipments are falling in the face of persistently weak global demand and officials voicing fears of a trade war with the United States this year.

Next week China’s leaders will see if President Donald (Prince of Orange) Trump will make good on a campaign pledge to brand Beijing a currency manipulator on his first day in office, and starts to follow up on a threat to slap high tariffs on Chinese goods. This will of course hit technology goods hard with most of them being made in China and exported to the US.

The world’s largest trading nation posted gloomy data  with 2016 exports falling 7.7 percent and imports down 5.5 percent. The export drop was the second annual decline in a row and the worst since the depths of the global crisis in 2009.

China’s trade surplus with the United States was $366 billion in 2015, and Trump could seize on in a bid to bring Beijing to the negotiating table to press for concessions. A sustained trade surplus of more than $20 billion against the United States is one of three criteria used by the U.S. Treasury to designate another country as a currency manipulator.

China is likely to point out that its own data showed the surplus fell to $250.79 billion in 2016 from $260.91 billion in 2015.

Trump’s trade policy will likely motivate US businesses to move their manufacturing facilities away from China which China might counter by moving to high end manufacturing which will cut costs.

China has a few weapons of its own. Beijing announced even higher anti-dumping duties on imports of certain animal feed from the United States than it proposed last year. It is also likely to protest to the IMF

This war of words will weaken investor confidence not only in the US and China.

China’s December exports fell by a more-than-expected 6.1 percent on-year, while imports beat forecasts slightly, growing 3.1 percent on its strong demand for commodities which has helped buoy global resources prices.

 

Microsoft’s partner boss promoted

maxresdefault (4)Microsoft’s UK partner boss Clare Barclay has been promoted to the role of UK chief operating officer.

According to a company email Barclay announced that she is “transitioning” into the role of UK COO and would report to UK CEO Cindy Rose. The reporting is unchanged she already does that in her current job of small and mid-market Solutions and Partners general manager.

Chris Perkins taking on interim leadership of the SMS&P business from 1 February until they can find a successor. He has led Microsoft’s corporate accounts business for the last four years and is a “great supporter” of selling with partners, Barclay said.

She added that she will continue to fly the flag for partners in her new role.

“I have always been and continue to be a passionate advocate for our partner community and will continue to stay connected in my new capacity. During my tenure, I’ve been supported by an incredibly strong leadership team, who remain in place to help you grow your business alongside Microsoft and you should not see any changes day to day as a result of this announcement.”

Vole announced plans to rejig its partner business last week, merging SMS&P and its Enterprise Product Group. However there were not supposed to be any management reshuffles as a result of the move.

Barclay said that it was an incredible time in the industry and one that is full of opportunity but also change.

“New year is often a time to reflect and it has been incredible to see the impact we have had together with our partners over the last couple of years, as we have helped our customers transform their businesses and have seen rapid adoption of cloud services during this time. I have had the pleasure of leading the SMS&P and partner business over this period and I wanted to thank you for the impact you have had,” he said.

MSP market is growing

growA new survey on MSPs reveals that the market is growing

Bean counters at Kaseya have added up some numbers and devided by their shoe size and reached the conclusion that the number of managed service and players continues to expand with more of the channel increasing their monthly recurring revenues that come through services.

The survey found that 26 per centof respondents now gain more than 16 percent of their revenues from monthly recurring business and there are more close to reaching that level, with 18 percent enjoying 10-15 percent of MRR.

Those leading the market were providing more services to gain a greater share of the customer wallet as well as being in a position to be a trusted supplier of a complete solution, the report found.

MSPs are currently beavering away at delivering network operations centre (NOC) expertise, infrastructure monitoring, backup and DR plus security services.

Apparently those MSPs who can see off security worries from customers by providing two factor authentications are doing better.

The Kaseya survey found that the leading players in the market were offering on average around eight discrete security services. The same was true of those excelling in networking support, with a range of options being made available to users.

Customers placed security as the major challenge for 2017, followed by concerns about the cloud, making it crucial for MSPs to deal with those worries.

Miguel Lopez, svp and general manager for MSP Solutions at Kaseya said that the report’s aim was to help all MSPs unlock their potential, and to arm them with the knowledge they need to better succeed.

“Our annual MSP pricing survey is a critical tool that helps the MSP community keep a pulse on this thriving industry. It answers important questions of ‘how’ and ‘why’ certain MSPs are succeeding, and what others can do to achieve the same level of success,” he said.

 

ThinPrint names Northamber as UK distributor

history-of-print-16th-century-printing-companyPrint management software and services outfit ThinPrint has appointed Northamber as its UK distributor.

The distributor will raise ThinPrint’s market profile and drive sales of  its print management across education and small-to-medium sized businesses.

ThinPrint and adapt to print jobs of all sizes using Advanced Adaptive Compression technology to eliminate bandwidth congestion. Its Output Gateway software replaces printer drivers across printing servers or desktops and reduces pressure on IT departments.

Alex Phillips, director of strategy at Northamber, said: “Having been known as ‘The Printer People’ in our earlier years has helped Northamber develop a strong base of customers who have a key focus on print.

“As technologies evolve and these partners are becoming more reliant on infrastructure and networked devices, ThinPrint is the perfect value-add to bring infrastructure and imaging together helping the channel to mature with technology.”

Reg Bowdrey, UK and Ireland sales manager at ThinPrint  said:“We are very impressed by the enthusiasm and pro-activity shown by Northamber about bringing our product to their channel. With their customer base in both the print and infrastructure categories, we truly believe we have found a unique partner which we can work closely with, enjoying plenty of success in 2017 and beyond.”