Microsoft looks to channel to sort out its small blue things

hqdefaultSoftware King of the World Microsoft is ending pay-as-you-go Azure access for new smaller customers on the Microsoft Products and Services Agreement, as it turns to channel partners to win small customers.

At the moment punters are purchasing Azure on a pay-as-you-go basis through the MPSA.  Vole’s new customers seeking the payment plan will be “guided” towards Microsoft’s Cloud Solution Provider (CSP) programme.

According to Richard Smith, Microsoft’s general manager for commercial licensing the new licensing focus was a matter of “enhancing and creating synergies” across the ways in which it goes to business.

It means that customers seeking to dip their toes into Azure on a PAYG basis will now need to go through the Channel.

Vole will not make much extra cash from selling through the channel, but Volish thinking is that small suppliers are more likely to stay signed up to a Channel programme than sticking to something more direct.

Many smaller customers don’t see the true benefits of the Azure cloud because they lack the skills.

By encouraging customers to work with partners via the CSP programme, it will mean that there is a  greater chance of success and ultimately a greater consumption of services from the Cloud.

Infosys moans about reporting of board spat

infosysudacityOutsourcing giant Infosys is getting a little miffed about the ways that the press are reporting concerns about the way the outfit is managed.

Infosys Chief Executive Vishal Sikka said talk in the media on concerns over corporate governance at the software services firm was “distracting”.

For those that came in late, there are appears to be a war of words between Infosys’s founders and its executive.

Sikka insists he is on good relations with the firm’s founders, including N.R. Narayana Murthy.

Infosys’ founders, who own 12.75 percent of the firm, have questioned the pay of Chief Executive Vishal Sikka and severance payouts given to others, including former finance head Rajiv Bansal. According to local media reports, the founders have also questioned the appointment of an independent director.

“All this drama that has been going on in the media, it’s very distracting – it takes away attention – but underneath that there is a very strong fabric that this company is based on and it is a real privilege for me to be its leader,” Sikka said at an investor conference.

Infosys, founded in 1981 when seven engineers, including Murthy, pooled $250 – mostly borrowed from their wives, is expected to address the governance concerns at a separate news conference at 1230 GMT today.

“My relation with the founders is wonderful,” Sikka said at the investor conference hosted by brokerage firm Kotak, adding he typically meets Murthy five or six times a year.
Sikka, a former member of the executive board at German software firm SAP, took the top job at Infosys in 2014, becoming its first non-founder CEO.

The board has backed Sikka, and has brushed aside concerns over CEO compensation, appointment of independent directors and severance pay relating to former employees, saying those were old issues and that full disclosures had been made.

Symantec gets its blue coat on

51Tg15QMqQLSecurity outfit Symantec is nearly ready to roll out its unified partner programme which merges its own channel with that of Blue Coat.

For those who came in late, Symantec bought Blue Coat last year for $4.65 billion and is working out a way of merging the two channels.

Symantec is to launch a Secure One channel programme this Spring and it is pretty simple. There are two areas – core security and enterprise security and four tiers of registered, silver, gold and platinum.

The whole thing is being pitched as a chance for resellers to cross and up-sell.

Partners can boost their margins with opportunity registration on non-standard pricing deals, development funds for gold and platinum partners and the chance to get a performance rebate.

Symantec vice president for global partner sales Torjus Gylstorff said that partners will have the opportunity to cross-sell and up-sell, providing mutual customers with “leading solutions to solve the world’s biggest cyber security problems.”

Other key initiatives include transitioning Opportunity Registration to a front-end discount only, which ensures that the financials of doing business with Symantec will be more predictable.

The firm is going to share more details with partners as it gets closer to launch in April.

“With a $30 billion-dollar opportunity in cyber security, we will see massive growth potential in our industry this year. We’re excited about this new era for our company, our partnership and our program, and we look forward to defining the future of cyber security, together,” he said.

Dell EMC announces its stairway to heaven partner plan

stairwayDell EMC has finally told its partners what they will have to do to qualify for its new partner programme tiers.

The Dell EMC Partner Programme launched yesterday with Michael Dell himself insisting on a video that the channel is important to him personally. However partners did not know what they would have to do to qualify for the Gold, Platinum and Titanium tiers.

As Dell EMC’s EMEA boss Michael Collins said there were two paths you could go on, but in the long run, there’s still time to change the road you are on.

The first path involves high revenue targets and low training achievements, and another which has much higher training targets but less of a focus on revenue.

Collins said, is designed to help smaller, specialist partners remain competitive in the programme.

There are two paths per “bucket” of countries in EMEA – one bucket of bigger countries: the UK, Germany and France; and the other bucket consisting of the rest of EMEA.

UK partners will be mostly focused on revenue, and less on training. They much sell between $3- $7 million to achieve gold, with $400,000 of that coming from services. To achieve Platinum, partners must sell between $15 million and $25 million of the Dell EMC portfolio – including $1.6 million of services. Those who would be Titanium, must hit an overall revenue target of between $35 and $45 million with $3.2 million of services.

The UK’s training-focused path has smaller revenue requirements. Gold partners must achieve between $500,000 and a million in sales, with $60,000 coming from services. Platinum partners must sell between $3-$7 million in revenue, including $600,000 from services. To be crowned with Titanium, partners need to hit between $15 and $25 million in sales and have $2.4 million coming from services.

The targets for UK partners are higher than for the rest of EMEA.

There is a last tier called Titanium Black which is a status within the top-level Titanium tier. That seems to be dished out on the whim of Dell-EMC and will mean that other partners must stand when they enter the room and they will get the first choice when the chocolate buscuits are passed around during meetings. Actually, we made that up we have no idea of what you get if you are Titanium Black.

For this year, Dell EMC partners have been “status matched”, meaning their position on the Dell EMC Partner Programme is determined on where they finished on the legacy Dell or EMC programmes last year.

UK Cloud warns of US privacy threat  

lightning-cloudUKCloud commerical director Nicky Stewart, has warned that the US government could start demanding emails which are stored on servers outside of the United States

A US magistrate ruled against Google and ordered it to cooperate with FBI search warrants demanding access to user emails and president Donald (Prince of Orange) Trump issued an Executive Order that weakened protections for data held in the US about foreign citizens.

She said that at the time of Trump’s recent executive order, US firms were quick to dismiss privacy concerns and the implied threat to Privacy Shield as a ‘complete over-reaction.’

With the US Department of Justice appealing the Microsoft case, the Rule 41 amendments coming into force, Trump’s initial executive order with who knows how many more to come, and now the ruling against Google, there will be fresh concerns in Brussels, and European privacy campaigners are going to be up in arms.

“The last remaining foundation for Privacy Shield was the 1974 US Privacy Act (written well before email existed, in which time Europe has rewritten its privacy rules three times). Not only is this act out of date, but it is patchy and deficient at best. It now appears under assault.

Even if we could be confident that the new administration and US courts were committed to upholding European privacy rights, and could be certain that there would be no further orders or rulings like these, what we have seen so far suggests that the US is deeply divided and there can be no certainty.”

“Public sector bodies with contracts with US cloud firms need to make an immediate Privacy Impact Assessment, and if necessary, seek expert legal advice. They may need to scope out migration options to move workloads so data privacy and sovereignty can be assured.

British Prime Minister’s new industrial strategy which actively favours UK firms for government contracts and procurement for growth in the post-Brexit world, departments are going to need to weigh up the risks (in terms of data privacy and sovereignty and currency fluctuations) of doing business with non-UK providers.”

UKFast buys another security outfit

UKFast-Office-Inside-1024x564UKFast has written a cheque for its second security firm acquisition in just a few months.

The outfit is getting more aggressive as it seeks larger public sector contracts. Last July it bought Pentest and this week wrote a  £2.3 million cheque for Secure Information Assurance. SIA has clients which include the MoD and the Cabinet Office.

The deal took a year to complete and required UKFast to get access to the IL3 and IL4 Official-Sensitive accreditations.

UKFast CEO Lawrence Jones said that acquiring S-IA was a strategic move, not only because of its high-profile government clients, but also because of its security product set.

“It’s a rising business and the deal was an extremely competitive process, but the S-IA management team sees the clear advantage of partnering with UKFast, seeing the instant scalability of our eCloud platform as the perfect offering for the government.”

S-IA CEO Martin Knapp is remaining to head up UKFast’s G-Cloud team and will be looking to grow public sector revenues.

“The conversation started when we went to UKFast to look at their data centre facilities. We initially planned to host our cloud with UKFast, but we were so impressed that we started a conversation about becoming partners and that quickly became a conversation about Lawrence buying the business,” he said.

Security vendors have been using witchcraft on customers

Salem-Wallpapers-HDComputer security vendors have been “massively” exaggerating the abilities of malicious hackers according to the UK’s National Cyber Security Centre.

Dr Ian Levy, technical director of the UK’s National Cyber Security Centre claimed that vendors were playing up hackers’ abilities to help them sell security hardware and services.

Overplaying hackers’ skills let the firms claim only they could defeat attackers, a practice he likened to “witchcraft”.

Speaking at the Usenix Enigma security conference, Dr Levy said it was dangerous to listen only to firms that made a living from cybersecurity.

“We are allowing massively incentivised companies to define the public perception of the problem,” he is reported as saying.

He slammed  vendor’s marketing materials for depicting hackers as hugely skilled masterminds and for the hyperbolic language they used to describe cyberthreats.

He said that playing up the threats allowed vendors to establish themselves as the only ones that could defeat hackers with hardware that he likened to a “magic amulet”.

“It’s medieval witchcraft – it’s genuinely medieval witchcraft,” said Dr Levy.

Most attacks aimed at firms were not very sophisticated and in one case an attack last year on a UK telecommunications firm that used a technique older than the teenager believed to be responsible.

Dr Levy urged other businesses to take a look at what the NCSC was doing and to read through its cyber security advice because the measures it recommended were “not completely crap”.

Proficio starts Euro expansion

proficio-officeManaged security services outfit Proficio wants to grow its presence in the UK and is using venture capital cash to do it.

The firm is looking for potential sites for a European Security Operations Centre (SOC) to run alongside its US and Singapore operations.

The Proficio managed services technology works by using analytics and threat intelligence to spot threats and prevent them from developing into a serious data breach.

It brought in some private equity funds from Kayne Anderson Capital Advisor with an ambition to use some of that finance to make the move into Europe.

Tim McElwee, co-founder, president and chairman of the board at Proficio said that it was time to grow to the next level.

“We will build our sales and marketing and then will build up our channel relationships. There are channel players in the UK who have the skills and we have been encouraged by the levels of interest,” he added. “We will be putting together a very developed and thoughtful channel programme that will be attractive for a reseller.”

Gartner Group is predicting that by 2020 15 percent  of mid and enterprise customers will be using managed detection and response, which is up from the current level of one percent.

 

Ooyala gets into the channel

r6uhkgtsix9vtvl3pjd4Broadcasting and media sector outfit Ooyala has launched a channel programme with the aim of getting more VARs and MSPs.

Normally getting into the video and media market is limited to those channel specialists.  Ooyala thinks it can be made easier for those looking to get a foot into broadcasters and media firms.

The video monetisation specialist has rolled out its solutions partner programme, which is designed to attract IT partners that can sell a range of products from video production workflow to analytics and video monetisation. It wants partners with the data skills that can help broadcasters go digital.

Ooyalal thinks that VARs or MSPs are in the best position to pull together a solution that can help its target market get into a position where they are ready to take advantage of the latest digital technology.

Channel partners have the advantage of signing up for a scheme that has a customer base that is likely to have digital needs that go beyond simply the video and could want more.

Ooyala CEO, Issac Vaughn said that Ooyala wanted customers to thrive in the future of TV delivery and production.

“ Our increased commitment to our channel programme is designed to attract and enable our customer’s preferred suppliers and align with their typical buying patterns,” he said.

Accenture blamed for NHS mail silliness

accenture-surfing-elephantLast year’s reply-all cock-up by the NHS where 500 million emails being sent across the health service’s network in just 75 minutes is being blamed on outsourcer Accenture.

On 14 November a senior associate ICT delivery facilitator sent a test message on what was thought to be a local distribution list she had created. However, it instead went to all 850,000 people with an NHSmail email account.

The blank message, sent early in the morning with a subject line that simply read “test”, was sent to a distribution list called “CroydonPractices”. Around 80 promptly replied and demanded that they be removed from the list which was when trouble really began.

An official report into the meltdown said that NHSmail’s Dynamic Distribution List (DDL) allows administrators to create distribution lists using a range of options and rules.

The local admin selected the “only in my organisation” rule, which she thought would restrict the distribution list to her South London clinical commissioning group.

However, a software configuration error meant that the system applied an ‘All England’ rule rather than one including only the administrator’s organisation. The administrator would not have known that this had occurred.”

The NHS report blames Accenture for not having failsafes in place that would have prevented the fiasco. The system’s design requirements was that “strict controls must be in place to limit the volume of any one email sent by an individual user or local administrator.” This was something that Accenture has not come up with.

The ability to create DDLs of similar forms will remain disabled until NHS Digital is satisfied this has been delivered, the reports said.

Dell EMC tells partners to prove their worth

Michael DellDell EMC is putting the thumbscrews on its partners and demanding that they prove they belong in their assigned tiers in the company’s new glorious unified partner programme.

Dell EMC’s decision to “status match” solution providers into the programme has forced some solution providers to boost revenue to maintain that tier status.

This is because the new tier status is not automatic. In Dell EMC’s 2019 fiscal year, which begins in February 2018, tier eligibility will be based on new revenue targets and training requirements, she said.

The new Dell EMC partner programme officially rolls out 8 February, and is organised into Gold, Platinum and Titanium tiers and an invite-only Titanium Black designation.

Dell EMC channel chief John Byrne  wants to push solution providers to win new business, and solution providers expect that the new revenue requirements will force them to up their game.

To earn a position in the top tier of the old Dell programme, a solution provider had to book $5 million in annual revenue. For the top tier of the old EMC programme you had to book $100 million or more.

The thought is that pressure could spur merger and acquisition activity among Dell EMC solution providers.

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.