Category: Products

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.”

EU gives its cloud to BT, IBM, Accenture and Atos

Eu-flag-vector-material2The European Commission has announced BT, IBM, Accenture and Atos will get most of the contracts to supply its new cloud services.

Contracts were broken out into three “lots,” covering a private cloud setup, public cloud setup, and platform-as-a-service, for which it will pay $38.5 million.
The whole lot will be platformed by Telecom Italia which is a bit unfortunate. That outfit is under resourced and its mobile arm TIM just adopted the iChing hexagram for “standing still” as its logo.waiting

It is unusual that Microsoft, Oracle, SAP, Amazon and none of the other big cloud outfits managed to get their paws on the EU’s clouds.

The Commission said that all the systems will be physically located within the European Union, the Commission noted, “to be compliant with EU data handling requirements” basically it means that the US will not be able to steal it.

According to the announcement, the contract will “enable the Commission to follow the ceaseless pace of today’s technological race.”

The EU hopes that use of cloud services will help it come up with future improvements to how it works, such as using “Big Data.”

The private cloud service will provide computing and storage facilities through a private network link connected to the EC’s data centres, and will be hosted by a single provider. The public cloud infrastructure will be run over the public internet. And the public platform-as-a-service will include both operating systems and database services run over the cloud.

The first cloud services should appear this year.

Oracle predicts explosion of born-in-the-cloud partners

oracleOracle has claimed that the launch of its new Cloud Programme will see an “explosion” of born-in-the-cloud partners coming to the firm.

Dubbed the Oracle PartnerNetwork (OPN), the programme has launched yesterday and is Oracle’s first cloud-focused partner scheme.

There are four accreditations: Cloud Standard, Cloud Select, Cloud Premier and Cloud Elite.

Cloud Standard requires partners to have a certain cloud specialisation and the benefits are focused on moving these partners to the next level, Cloud Select.

Cloud Select has a $2m cloud-revenue requirement and partners have to designate sales and marketing resources. The benefits of this level include MDF funds, Oracle’s cloud discounts and more visibility at Oracle cloud events.

The Cloud Premier level has a $6m cloud-revenue requirement and partners must have hired number of certified cloud specialists. The benefits include dedicated account managers, sales training and enhanced partner visibility.

The Cloud Elite has a $20m cloud-revenue requirement and for the Global Cloud Elite level this rises to $40m. The benefits include increased go-to-market support with free cloud environments for development tests and demos.

Oracle hopes the programme would help migrate existing partners and attract new types of channel players. It thinks that it opens the partner programme up to the regional “born-in-the-cloud digital natives” that have ruled out Oracle because it did not really fit into their structure.

These cloud resellers are often focused on the mid-market which is not an area Oracle has been involved. Oracle’s not having a cloud programme. But with the OPN programme, and Oracle’s drive into the mid-market, he expects to see a flurry of this new type of partner coming to the vendor.
Oracle has more than 800 UK partners and when asked how many more resellers it wants to recruit more with its new OPN programme.

Microsoft changes Enterprise Agreement volume licensing deals

Microsoft campusSoftware King of the World Microsoft’s cunning plan to develop ‘one volume licence agreement to rule them’ starts with a new change to its Enterprise Agreement minimums, takes effect July 1, 2016.

The move is to try and simplify Vole’s Byzantine style licensing. According to what Vole is telling resellers, on July 1, 2016 business users who want to go the Enterprise Agreement approach will face a minimum requirement of 500 users or devices, rather than the current 250.

Those who want fewer than 500 devices/users will be steered to the Microsoft Product and Services Agreement (MPSA) and Cloud Solutions Provider (CSP) programmes.

The MPSA software/services licence appeared in 2014 and CSP shortly thereafter. Microsoft currently trying to kill off its Select Plus volume license agreement.

Microsoft wants customers to be able to manage their various licensing agreements with the company so that it feels like they only have one.

Vole says that it does not want anyone to have to buy something they don’t need and it wants to have one place where customers could see all their purchases.

Microsoft’s ultimate goal is to get all customers to use MPSA and CSP for their licensing.

Microsoft has seen the composition of its business-customer licensing deals shifting. In fiscal 2015, more than half were for online services only, with no enterprise-wide coverage requirement,

Worldwide Licensing and Pricing. MPSA and CSP are more suited toward addressing these kinds of scenarios, he said.

Cisco releases new tool in cloudy push

Cisco Kid Desperate to provide a better cloud package, Cisco has released a new monitoring tool.

On the face of it Cloud Consumption as a Service, which monitors how employees use third-party software is a bit of a yawn, however it could make Cisco a little more useful to its partners who can flog it on the basis that it will solve a lot of complicated regulations around the privacy of data.

It  helps companies manage software employees might download and use independently, for example email programs like Google’s Gmail or file-storage services like Dropbox.

While the services, which IT professionals dub “shadow IT,” provide convenience for employees, they can create headaches if they expose vulnerability to malware attacks, eat up bandwidth, or fail to comply with laws.

Shadow IT is creating a growing corporate challenge. Most companies with over 5,000 employees estimate around 90 such services are deployed around their computer infrastructure, but the actual number is typically over 1,200, according to Cisco executive Bob Dimicco.

Of those, more than 40 fall in the high-risk category.

Cisco plans to bill monthly at a cost of $1-$2 per employee, will help Cisco expand its offerings in the fast-growing business area of cloud services.

Cisco  has been trying to beef up its offerings catering to the increasingly Internet-based technology culture at many companies. It has introduced products like Cisco Meraki, which controls routing and security over the Internet, and Cisco WebEx, which offers Internet-based video conferencing and similar products.

Many companies, including Cloudability, Netskope and Skyhigh, offer services similar to Cisco’s cloud consumption service, but Cisco says its product goes beyond the others because it offers more details on usage and about each individual third-party app provider, such as if it complies with relevant regulations.

 

 

Oracle adds auto-update

oracleOracle has announced the release and general availability of the Unbreakable Enterprise Kernel (UEK) 4 for the Oracle Linux operating system.

The move is an important selling point for Oracle partners because they can pitch performance improvements and enhancements for some essential components.

Real-time kernel patching was one of the most requested features by Oracle Linux customers and is  possible thanks to the Ksplice open-source extension of the Linux kernel 4 branch,. This lets users apply patches to the running kernel without the need to reboot the system, thus improving security and simplifying the management of cloud infrastructures.

Unbreakable Enterprise Kernel Release 4 is now available for the Oracle Enterprise Linux 6 and Oracle Enterprise Linux 7 series of operating systems based on Red Hat’s RHEL (Red Hat Enterprise Linux) OS.

“The Oracle Linux team is pleased to announce the general availability of the Unbreakable Enterprise Kernel (UEK) Release 4 for Oracle Linux 6 and Oracle Linux 7. This release, based on the 4.1 mainline kernel, delivers many important new features and enhancements engineered for modern cloud infrastructure,” said Michele Casey.

The update includes CPU schedulers and Automatic NUMA Balancing, along with powerful new features, such as real-time kernel patching.

Oracle boosted the security of its Oracle Enterprise Linux systems, as well as to the hosted apps, by implementing features like a new random number system call, kernel address space randomization, and updates for the SELinux, SHA512, SHA256, and nftables programs.

There are also new real-time kernel features like timerless (tickless) multitasking and deadline scheduling class, support for Firefly-based Ceph Storage for Oracle Linux Release 1.0, Oracle Linux DTrace improvements, and better InfiniBand support. Moreover, there are updates to the Btrfs, EXT4, XFS, NFS, FUSE and OverlafFS filesystem, as well as updated drivers to support new hardware.

Microsoft moves server software to per-core licensing

microsoft-in-chinaMicrosoft seems set to move its Windows Server 2016 to a per-core licensing system.

Windows Server will not arrive until the second half of next year, but Vole will probably change the way it licenses its server operating system.  Currently Microsoft uses a per socket licensing system, but now it wants to charge per core.

Windows Server 2012’s two main editions, Standard and Datacenter, had identical features, and differed only in terms of the number of virtual operating system instances they supported. Standard supported two virtual machines while the Datacenter product was unlimited. Licenses for both editions were sold in two socket units and a license was needed for each pair of sockets a system contained.

What appears to be happening with Windows Server 2016 is that this simple system is going to become more complex. There will be functional differences between Standard and Datacenter editions. Datacenter will gain additional storage replication capabilities, a new network stack with richer virtualisation options, and shielded virtual machines that protect the content of a virtual machine from the administrator of the host operating system.

More significant is that 2016 will use a two core pack, with the licence cost of each 2016 pack being 1/8th the price of the corresponding two socket pack for 2012. Each system running Windows Server 2016 must have a minimum of eight cores per processor, and a minimum of 16 cores per system.

In most cases with systems with up to four processors and up to eight cores per processor, this won’t change the overall licensing cost. But for heavier multi-processing and core use the prices will increase. Two or four processors with 10 cores per processor will cost 25 percent more to run Windows Server 2016 than they did 2012.

Those who know the black art which is Microsoft’s licensing will realise that this brings Windows Server’s licensing in line with SQL Server’s.  SQL Server has been using a per core model since 2014. BizTalk has been using the model since 2013. Azure is also licensed on the basis of virtual machine cores, rather than sockets.

What Microsoft appears to be doing is adapting its licencing to increased  processor core counts and a marked reduction of high socket count systems.

Some customers are going to lose money on the move, particularly those who are unfortunate enough to have Software Assurance agreements that cover systems that were licensed using 2012’s socket-based scheme.

Cisco leans on programmable networks

Cisco Kid Cisco updated its IOS XR network operating system while adding three additional routers to its portfolio as part of a drive to programmable networks.

Greg Smith, head of service provider marketing for Cisco said that rather than asking service providers to build their own programmable networks, Cisco via its IOS XR is committed to delivering those capabilities as a core part of the operating system.

He said service providers would rather buy these capabilities than build it themselves.

The Cisco network initiative is centred on a set of APIs which model data traveling across the network. There is also a software development kit that service providers can use to more easily expose network services to developers and their customers.

Cisco expects service providers to use these tools to create self-service portals through which end customers can provision network services in minutes instead of the several weeks.

Developers could use them to build applications that use those network services through the APIs that Cisco is releasing in its operating system and the announced software-defined Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI) networking architecture.

Smith said that the cunning plan is to insert these technologies into the existing tool chain of service providers, because they don’t have a lot of real-time insights into the network.

To help facilitate the deployment of those services at scale, Cisco this week also unveiled the Cisco NCS 5000 Series, which can be configured with up to 40-80 10GE ports and 4 100GE ports, a Cisco NCS 5500 Series that provides up to 288 routed 100GE ports for WAN aggregation, and the Cisco NCS 1000 Series, which provides access to 100/200/250G-bit wavelengths over distances exceeding 3,000km with existing fibre.

Smith claims that Cisco is the only provider of network infrastructure capable of unifying local and wide area networks at that distance.

Cloud no panacea as Citrix tries to sell itself

grandpa_simpson_yelling_at_cloudIt would appear that tacking “cloud” onto your product list is not proving to be a panacea for IT company woes.

Citrix, a US cloud computing company, is making a final attempt to sell itself as a whole before it embarks on asset sales, according to people familiar with the matter.

Citrix, which had attracted the interest of private equity investors before it agreed in July to give a man called Elliott a seat on its board of directors, is having new conversations with buyout firms.

Apparently the outfit is looking to hardware makers like Dell who might want to create a product and cloud package.

Citrix announced in July it would explore strategic alternatives for its GoTo family of products, including videoconferencing and desktop sharing service GoToMeeting. However, a sale process for these assets has not started yet because Citrix wants to see if it can still sell itself at a satisfactory valuation, according to the sources.

If Citrix does not sell itself it will sell or spin off its GoTo products, and other methods to asset strip itself.

Citrix provides communications software and networking solutions for businesses. It reported net income of $251.7 million in 2014, down from $339.5 million in 2013.

Earlier this year, Elliott called on Citrix to sell some units, cut costs and buy back shares to make up for six years of underperformance. In addition to the GoTo business, Elliott has called for Citrix to explore the sale of NetScaler, which helps speed up Web-based applications.

Elliott clinched a deal with Citrix in July that gave Jesse Cohn, one of its senior partners, a seat on the company’s board. Citrix also said it would start a search for an independent board member, mutually agreeable to Citrix and Elliott.

It also said at the time that Chief Executive Mark Templeton was retiring and that it would search for a new CEO.

Earlier this month, Citrix said it would repurchase up to an additional $500 million of its common stock.

 

 

 

Cyber Insurance market to triple

Republic_Fire_Insurance_Company_certificateThe cyber insurance market will triple in size to $7.5 billion in annual premiums by 2020 according to a new consultant’s report.

But PwC said insurance companies would not be laughing all the way to the bank as the insurance industry could face competition from disruptors such as Google.

Insurers and reinsurers are charging high prices for cyber cover and putting a ceiling on potential losses, deterring companies from buying cyber polices, in the report. Some insurers have kept out of the market, wary of the risks.
PwC’s Paul Delbridge said that if the industry takes too long, there is a risk that a disruptor could move in and corner the market by aggressively cutting prices or offering much more favourable terms.

Millennials – people in their 20s and 30s – are more likely to trust brands such as Google than conventional insurers and Google would be very creative.

Technology companies may also be better equipped than insurers to price cyber risk, he added.
Most of the $2.5 billion written in cyber insurance last year was in the United States, where requirements to notify data breaches have focused attention on cyber protection.

But the European Union is expected to follow suit, contributing strongly to growth in cyber insurance, Delbridge said.

Microsoft updates volume licensing use rights

Microsoft campusSoftware giant Microsoft has changed the way companies will have to update volume licensing use documents.

In the past, business consumers of Microsoft’s products and services have needed a Product List and the Product Use Rights. These determined the purchasing requirements and licencing rules applicable to those products and services. Both documents were incorporated into Microsoft’s volume licensing agreements and were updated periodically by Redmond on its website.

Now Microsoft has combined the Product List and the Product Use Rights into a unified document with the catchy title “Product Terms.” Users of Microsoft’s subscription-based Online Services like Office 365 still will need to use the Online Services Terms, which define service-specific use rights.

Product Terms come into effect when a volume licensing agreement is signed typically will remain in effect during the term of that agreement.

Upgrades to new product releases during the term will result in the incorporation of the then-current Product Terms for those products. Microsoft’s channel partners and resellers will have to point out the changes made to the incorporated terms to their customers, or there is going to be a pile of legal mess later.

Some changes in the new document already have been the cause of some confusion and concern. So fair most of the problems are about the General Licensing Terms for Developer Tools like Visual Studio.

Microsoft and partners defend against Chromebook

windowscomputexThe glorious Wintel alliance which is still running despite a few hiccups has a cunning plan to see off the threat of Google Chromebooks.

Microsoft and its chum Intel plans to launch a device running Windows 10 with Bing.

Microsoft and Intel are working with all   partners to bring cheaper devices to the market and help tackle the growth of Google Chromebooks.

Stage one of the plan is to release a cheap OEM version of Windows 10 with Bing.

As was the case with Windows 8.1, Windows 10 with Bing will be a Windows 10 SKU available exclusively for PC makers and will be offered at a very low cost or even free of charge.

Microsoft has worked out that it needs to slash licensing fees that manufacturers need to pay for installing Windows on their devices.

Windows with Bing is basically Windows 8.1 with Bing offered the same features as Windows 8.1 but came with Bing branding that OEMs could not change.

Users, however, were allowed to replace Bing as the default search engine with Google or something else.

A Windows 10 with Bing flavour will appear later. In fact Windows 10 is designed to be installed on as many devices as possible, and Microsoft expects one billion PCs, tablets, and smartphones to be running it by 2017.

Intel’s Xeon SoC to ARM wrestle

arm-wrestlingIntel has lifted the veil on a new Xeon D family of processors which are the company’s first ever Xeon-based System-on-Chip (SoC).

The news is bad for ARM because it is wanted to dominate the microserver market and this package is exactly what it does not want out there.

The Xeon D line is built on Intel’s 14nm process technology and combines the performance of Xeon chips with the size and power savings of a SoC.

Intel says the Xeon D delivers up to 3.4x faster performance node and up to 1.7x better performance per watt compared to the company’s Atom C2750, which is part of Intel’s second-generation 64-bit SoC family.

Xeon D is the third generation and it’s actually based on Intel’s 14nm Broadwell architecture.

This puts Intel in the running for those customers who want low-power, high density infrastructure products. In fact Intel says that it can deliver  server class reliability, availability, and serviceability (RAS) features in an ultra-dense, low-power device.

Cisco, HP, NEC, Quanta Cloud Technology, Sugon, and Supermicro have sworn their loyalty to the chip, before all their dark gods, and are committed to building microserves based on Intel’s new Xeon D options.

This means ARM has not got much time before actual products are out there.

Diane Bryant, senior vice president and general manager of the Data Center Group at Intel said that the growth of connected devices and demand for more digital services has created new opportunities for information and communication technology,” said.

“By bringing Intel Xeon processor performance to a low-power SoC, we’re delivering the best of both worlds and enabling our customers to deliver exciting new services.”

Intel’s kicking things off with two Xeon D processors, the D-1540 with 8 cores, 16 threads, 2GHz, 45W TDP and D-1520 with its 4 cores, 8 threads, 2.2GHz, 45W TDP. These have memory controllers capable of up to 128GB of addressable memory.

They also feature an integrated platform controller hub (PCH), integrated I/Os, and two integrated 10 Gigabit Ethernet ports.

All of this is based on Intel’s Broadwell so should give a reasonable performance per watt.