Category: Products

Microsoft demos Dynamics 365

Microsoft campusMicrosoft has been hyping its Dynamics 365 platform for months and now is finally showing it off to its channel partners.

For those who came in late, Dynamics 365  is an integrated CRM and ERP. Vole talks up the software’s machine learning skills, business intelligence and advanced data integration features.

Vole announced that Dynamics 365 will be released next month, giving customers a cloud-based customer relationship and business management solution that delivers predictive insights by using artificial intelligence.

Microsoft thinks the software will create opportunities for partners to drive business transformations.

Dynamics 365 is fully integrated with Office 365 and the Cortana Intelligence Suite, and works with Microsoft’s productivity tools, email and business intelligence solutions.

The product, accessible through a mobile app, leverages machine learning algorithms to help sales, service, and marketing agents gain insights into their professional relationships.

CRM rival Salesforce has a similar product which it calls Einstein, an artificial intelligence technology infused into its sales, service and marketing apps.



HPE unveils new channel scheme

HPE The former maker of expensive printer ink, HPE has taken the covers off its new channel programme.

The outfit’s new Flexible Capacity model for Microsoft Azure allows partners to bridge private and public cloud with a single pay-as-you-go unified billing consumption model.

HPE unveiled the Flexible Capacity option as part of the launch of a new HPE Microsoft Azure Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) and Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) stack for HPE’s DL380 hyperconverged system.

The HPE Microsoft Azure stack should be ready to go in mid-2017 and HPE Consulting for Azure Hybrid Cloud services are available now.

The stack provides customers with Flexible Capacity single pay-as-you-go bill for both on-premise HPE private cloud and Microsoft Azure public cloud.

HPE said the DL380 Azure stack, which will sit in the customer’s data center, can be deployed with HPE SecureData software – protecting data in both public and private clouds and HPE Operations Bridge analytics software.

Kaspersky ends reseller contract with Quadsys

40153923-1-kaspersky1Russian security outfit Kaspersky Lab has told security reseller Quadsys to go forth and multiply after its company bosses admitted hacking rivals.

Quadsys owner Paul Streeter, MD Paul Cox, director Alistair Barnard, account manager Steve Davis and security consultant Jon Townsend pleaded guilty to securing unauthorised access to computer material, contrary to section 1 of the Computer Misuse Act 1990.

The five were charged in summer 2015 with hacking into a rival’s database to plunder customer information and pricing details. Sentencing is set for 9 September.

Quadsys, which was accredited as a Kaspersky Gold partner, the vendor’s top tier certification has moved to distance itself from the troubled outfit and has ended its business relationship with the company.

Others are expected to follow, but still have not gone on record.  Sophos had actually promoted Quadsys to its platinum certification on 1 August, just nine days after the Quadsys Five pleaded guilty at Oxford Crown Court.

Ingram Micro goes very very quiet

ingram-mico-hqIngram Micro UK & Ireland has signed up to be the newest distributor for Quiet’s power supplies, PC cases and cooling solutions.

Ingram said the addition of Quiet’s products to its portfolio will allow resellers to offer customers a wider range of peripherals, while developing their own new and innovative product ranges promote growth.

Taj Pandya, head of commercial management at Ingram Micro, UK and Ireland said:“We are extremely excited to be able to deliver new technologies and opportunities to our channel partners and we are thrilled that be quiet! has trusted us with the distribution of their premium products that embrace an exceptional level of precision and quality.”

“We hope the inclusion of this new vendor will appeal to our customer base and will permit Ingram’s further expansion into new categories.”

Ingram Micro was one of the first to sign up for Microsoft’s Surface as a Service programme, which will allow new services and hardware to its customers based around Redmond’s Surface Tablet.


Ingram Micro launches Surface as a Service product

surface-pro-2Ingram Micro has signed up for Microsoft’s Surface as a service programme and launching its own version.

Under the deal, the distributor will be able to offer resellers in the UK the chance to provide Surface and the Microsoft suite along with the chance to take advantage of leasing options that should make it an easier decision for users.

Brian Windsor, senior business manager for Microsoft at Ingram Micro, said that it would be able to lean on its knowledge of the vendor’s software and hardware products.

“This offering will permit our resellers to assist their customer’s transformation to digital with ease. What’s more, we have strived to build our leasing options with recurring business in mind in order to maintain longevity of customer investment for our resellers,” he said.

Microsoft launched the programme last month.  The big idea was to expand the number of partners that would be offering the same managed services approach. It is open to Cloud Solution Providers who are authorised Surface distributors and provides a managed service offering that can be taken out through resellers to users.

At the time Vole said that the Surface was having a real impact in the business market and Surface business has grown from generating $1bn in revenue in a year to $1bn in revenue per quarter.

“With our growing portfolio, we are creating not just great devices, but breakthrough categories that open up a world of new opportunities for partners to build capabilities in new areas, and to create solutions and services for customers. This year, we are investing in programs that increase partner revenue and profitability,” he added.

VR is too pricey to sell

CeVB4bYW8AA9Kt6VR is still too pricey to make a clean sale, with more than half of consumers thinking that the technology is over priced.

A survey carried out by IT market analysts Context has found that almost four in ten consumers in the UK believe that VR is too expensive. That figure rises to 47 percent when extended to include thre rest of Europe.

When asked how much they would be willing to spend on their first VR headset, consumers showed they thought that spending that much dosh was a waste of time.

37 percent would prefer to pay nothing for the headset, whilst 21 percent would only be willing to pay under £100. Nevertheless, over a third (35 percent) would fork out £100 to £200, but when asked to consider the current cost of the headsets, almost four in ten (39 percent) believe they are too expensive.

It is not as if they are poorly informed. The survey also found that three in four consumers have heard of technology such as the Oculus Rift, HTC Vive or PlayStation VR.

Consumers in the UK and around Europe are most excited about VR’s applications in sport, film and TV. Half of those surveyed in the UK (51 per cent) want the chance to experience something they would never do in real life, such as sky diving.

VR’s biggest draw is currently sport, with 60 percent of consumers claiming they’re most excited about viewing a match as if they were really there. This figure rose to 65 and 66 percent in France and Germany.

The survey has found that those in the UK certainly do not see VR as a gimmick, with over half of the British public (56 percent) agreeing that VR has serious applications in fields such as medicine, science, and education. The figure rose to 68 percent with German consumers.

The tech industry has given VR a dominant focus over the past few years, and that trend looks set to continue as it becomes more widely available.

VMware increases NSX price

vmware-partner-link-bg-w-logoVMware has been having a few problems with its bottom line lately and it seems it is taking it out on its NSX prices.

The outfit has cut the product’s feature list to offer cheaper versions which do not cost as much as the full product but it has also jacked up the price of the top version of the product.

The more expensive product is aimed at companies wanting to create software defined data centres, which is a lucrative area.  NSX slips networking and security into the hypervisor and could be a good product for resellers to sell.

Now however it is getting a pricy option. A full NSX license cost US$6,000 per CPU socket although the cut down packages might be a little more viable. NSX Enterprise costs at $6,995 per CPU socket; Standard will cost $1,995 per CPU socket; and Advanced will cost $4,495 per CPU socket.

Advanced and Enterprise also get more license options. All three are available on a perpetual license; Advanced can also be licensed on a per-user basis, and Enterprise adds a per-VM licensing option.

Companies reject cloud for fog

Fog.PNGEnterprise CIOs are starting to twig that the cloud is not all it is cracked up to be and are looking at a new buzzword – the Fog –  instead.

One of the problems with the cloud is that many of the services and apps, and data used in critical decision-making are better kept on premise or in smaller enterprise data centres. Cloud goes against the demand for mobility too as the data needs to be kept closer to the machine.

Now Cisco, Dell, Microsoft, Intel and ARM, as well as researchers at Princeton University, are betting that the future of enterprise computing will be a hybrid model where information, applications and services are split between the cloud and the fog. Cisco came up with the name “fog computing” you can probably tell.

Cloud based data centres are huge and are working ok for now. But when, and if the IoT appears on the scene things are going to get messy.

When everything from cars and drones to video cameras and home appliances are transmitting enormous amounts of data from trillions of sensors, network traffic will grow exponentially. Real-time services that require split-second response times or location-awareness for accurate decision-making will need to be deployed closer to the edge to be useful, something which would cause the cloud to break.

The only thing which will save the cloud really is increased technology,  or coming up with a hybrid approach to data. That will enable distributed fog networks in enterprise data centres, around cities, in vehicles, in homes and neighbourhoods, and even on your person via wearable devices and sensors.

If this sounds like the old “distributed computing” over “Centralised computing” debate which happened as the Internet was starting to arrive, it pretty much is. What Cisco is suggesting is incredibly complex networks.

IBM announces blockchain services for cloud

grandpa_simpson_yelling_at_cloudBig Blue has  announced new services to help companies design and develop blockchain technology in a secure environment in the cloud.

Blockchain is the tech behind bitcoin and does a shedloads of functions such as recording and verifying transactions. The big idea is that the it can create cost-efficient business networks without requiring central control.

Jerry Cuomo, vice president, Blockchain at IBM, said in a statement that the only problem with blockchain is concerns about security.

“While there is a sense of urgency to pioneer blockchain for business, most organisations need help to define the ideal cloud environment that enables blockchain networks to run securely in the cloud,” he said.

IBM said it is addressing security problems in several ways, including cloud services with the highest Federal Information Processing Standards (FIPS 140-2) and Evaluation Assurance Levels (EAL) in the industry to support the use of blockchain in government, financial services and healthcare.

The technology company also announced the opening of an IBM “Garage” in New York and London. These “garages” are similar to research labs on the blockchain created by several major financial institutions over the past year. IBM’s garages are dedicated to helping clients design and develop their blockchain networks, said Cuomo.

Garages in Tokyo, London and Singapore will also open in the coming weeks to let customers talk to IBM experts on the design and implementation of blockchain for business.

Dell starts IoT partner programme

michael-dell-2Tin Box shifter Michael Dell has started an IoT solutions partner programme designed to make it easier for partners to identify themselves as specialists in this area.

The vendor is contacting providers to encourage them to use its technology in their offerings to provide more features, including security and data analytics.

Dell has been listing the tech it provides for intelligent gateways, embedded PCs, security, manageability tools, data center and cloud infrastructure and data analytic tools. It also is building ‘use case blueprints’ that will make it easier for partners to deploy IoT gear.

The IoT partner programme has three tiers – executive, associate and registered.

Registered partners might be doing enough to get the public backing of Dell but do not have enough experience to get the sort of recommendation other tiers. Associates can deliver more differentiated and proven solutions when compared to the registered level. Executives are those that have a stand out proposition and are seen as ‘best in class’ with a proven ability to deliver.

The IoT partner programme includes working with firms including GE, SAP, Software AG, Microsoft, OSIsoft and others.

Dell also stressed that it would continue to build relationships with systems integrators that have vertical expertise.


HPE updates ProLiant Gen9 server portfolio

ML350_Gen9_rack_Bezel_FTThe outfit formally known as HP, HPE, has told its partners that it has updated its enterprise workhorse ProLiant Gen9 server portfolio.

HPE’s Gen9 ProLiant DL360 and DL380 servers will get Intel’s newest Broadwell processor as well as its new persistent memory technology, which allows the server’s memory to serve as a high-performance storage tier.

The new servers also include new management, security and storage capabilities aimed at helping customers tie on-premise data center infrastructures to the cloud for running mission-critical applications.

The refresh should help channel partners make their presence felt in the server market. Over the last six months HPE has flat out improving its visabily after being eclipsed by Cisco UCS and VCE .

The updated ProLiant DL360 and ProLiant DL380 servers are based on Intel’s new Xeon E5-2600 v4 processors and come with a significant boost in performance boost.

Persistent memory is another buzzword.  It brings together standard DRAM along with NAND flash memory and a micro controller with an integrated battery on a module that fits in a standard memory slot. This means it can deliver the performance levels you see with DRAM in storeage.

Thin clients are thin on the ground

skeleton-woman-615While thin client set ups have been touted as the “next big thing” for nearly two decades, it would appear that no-one can make cash from them.

Bean counters at IDC said that the market leaders HP and Dell suffered double-digit shipment drops last year. Apparently companies are walking away from, or cancelling their thin-client projects. Ironically mostly before the poor economic climate, thin clients were touted as a cost-saving measure.

Thin client projects are being canned or postponed in the face of the faltering economic climate and reduced public budgets, IDC said as it warned that shipments in the sector shrank last year.

According to IDC, thin and terminal-client shipments fell 6.9 per cent to 5.08 million in 2015, with market leaders Dell and HP enduring double-digit drops.

To be fair it is not all doom. Thin-clients did better than PCs which fell 10.6 per cent last year.  IDC insists that the outlook for thin clients and virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) remains favourable, although people have been saying that since networking became a thing.

Jay Chou, research manager, worldwide enterprise client device trackers at IDC said that while there was a certain amount of slowdown expected as many organisations had just refreshed their systems a year or two ago, the extent of economic and currency-related issues had a definite impact in the budget and timeline of other projects which were supposed to be in the pipeline.

“Nonetheless, awareness around VDI continues to improve, and IDC does expect an improved outlook ahead, especially as companies begin to think about moving beyond Windows 7.”

While the PC market may be consolidating into the hands of fewer players, the same cannot be said of thin clients, where market leaders Dell and HP lost market share hand over fist during the year.

The US duo’s collective share of thin-client shipments fell from 55.1 to 50.6 per cent between 2014 and 2015, with Dell seeing shipments drop 13.8 per cent and HP suffering a 15 per cent fall, IDC said.

NComputing came third as its shipments rose 12.8 per cent to 518,000, IDC said.

BT wins big Boots contract

boots_1419530bBT has won a big contract to provide the underling infrastructure for Boots as it prepares to push forward with an ‘omni-channel’ strategy.

Boots has contracted BT to overhaul its IT infrastructure in the UK and the rest of Europe as part of a wider digital transformation. It wants to get better at omni-channel retailing, it thinks that is where the money is.

The high street retailer will soon be bringing in more ways for customers to interact with the brand online and in-store. And new voice and communications technologies for staff will also be introduced.

Boots has a lot more network requirements and a lot more bandwidth requirements – with that goes resilience.

“If you become dependent on digital tools in-store, you don’t want those things to be unavailable.”

BT will roll out dedicated fibre Ethernet services and copper-based networks to flagship stores, improve internal systems, and shops will have a “future-ready” network to adapt to new technologies. This should also speed up in-store processing time for pharmacy orders, stock replenishment and booking appointments.

Currently the outfit has a lots of different legacy systems – in data, in data centres, networking and other infrastructure. So the company was after a way to centralise network services in one place, in a way that was better for security and application control.

It is also an early adopter of BT Connect Intelligence IWAN. It’s a managed service that allows for automatic routing and optimisation of network traffic, and the intention is to provide more visibility on applications performance.

Boots tried several contractors but BT came out on top in terms of reliability and for its innovations like IWAN. It was also a good deal money wise.


Cisco unveils DNA

DNA_000046710792_640Networking outfit Cisco is launching of an extensible and software driven architecture for digital business solution, Digital Network Architecture (DNA).

Cisco DNA is part of the company’s datacentre based Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI) technology by extending the policy driven approach and software strategy throughout the entire network.

Cisco enterprise products and solutions senior vice-president, Rob Soderbery, said this extends it from campus to branch, wired to wireless, and core to edge.

Cisco DNA is part of the Cisco ONETM Software family which his supposed to simplify software-based licensing, and helping with investment protection and flexibility.

Soderbery said that Cisco DNA was built on the principal of virtualising everything that moves to allow organisations freedom to run any service anywhere, independent of the underlying platform – physical or virtual, on premise or in the Cloud.

DNA is designed for automation to make networks and services on those networks easy to deploy, manage and maintain, fundamentally changing the approach to network management.  It also has pervasive analytics to provide insights on the operation of the network, IT infrastructure and the business.

He said service management can be delivered from the Cloud to unify policy and orchestration across the network.

It also integrates Cisco and third party technology, open APIs, and a developer platform to support an ecosystem of network-enabled applications

Dell adds security add-on service

michael-dell-2Tin box shifter Dell has announced an add-on service to its SonicWALL firewall product.

The cloud offering, called the SonicWALL Capture Advanced Threat Protection (ATP) Service analysies files and traffic for threats using three filter engines.

These engines are the VMRay third-generation Analyzer, Lastline Breach Detection platform and the Dell SonicWALL Sonic Sandbox.

Dell thinks that, combined, they deliver better protection against the growing prevalence of zero-day attacks which are designed to evade sandboxes like badly behaved kittens.

In addition to having multiple analysis engines, the solution has hypervisor-level analysis and full-system emulation.

Dell’s system sends suspicious files to the cloud for analysis and there is no limit on the file size so it can capture a lot of malware in its net. Once a threat has been detected, Dell sends remediation signatures through its existing solutions.

Dell thinks that it can block malware at the gateway, and provide a much more effective protection of the network.

The Dell SonicWALL Capture ATP Service solution is currently available as a beta and will be available for purchase “by mid-year 2016.”