Lexmark mulls cutting itself in two

steven-ho-conan-watermelon-360x240Long time printer maker Lexmark is considering the possibility of hacking itself in two.

The outfit wants to divesting its hardware and software assets separately to revive interest in its sale process.

Lexmark held discussions with several potential buyers about the sale of the entire company but it didn’t seem that anyone was particularly interested.

Reuters now claims that private equity firms are now having conversations with Lexmark about acquiring either its hardware or software assets. The company has yet to make any decision on a way forward, the people added.

Officially Lexmark is saying nothing.

“Lexmark does not intend to comment on the exploration process or disclose further developments until the board approves a specific transaction or otherwise concludes the exploration of strategic alternatives,” the company said in a statement.

However Lexmark, which has a $1.74 billion market capitalization, announced in October that it was exploring strategic alternatives, including a sale, and had hired Goldman Sachs Group as an adviser.

Lexmark has sought to diversify and aggressively bought up software assets to bulk up its services catering to business customers. Last year it bought Kofax Ltd for about $1 billion, a company which provides data services to financial, insurance and healthcare companies.

It also said the deal would double the size of its enterprise software unit to a $700 million business.

Lexmark’s software can scan everything from spreadsheets to medical images. It has customers in banking, healthcare, insurance and retail companies. Its software business has a higher growth rate but it represents a small portion of revenue compared to the hardware business.


Spirent gets deal with red One

CS8_Mobile_Device_Tester_RightUK-based Spirent Communications  has announced its first MVNO contract in Asia, with Malaysian virtual operator red ONE.

Spirent is a multinational telecommunications testing company headquartered in Crawley, West Sussex, in the United Kingdom.  It makes verification, assessment, analytics and device intelligence systems.

A spokesSprent said that red One had signed a contract for the firm’s mobile device intelligence unit Tweakker.

Spirent said that the contract will enable red ONE to embed Tweakker ‘self-care smartphone Device Guides’ on its website with a link to Tweakker’s cloud. This will have the aim of minimising the time it takes when on-boarding new subscribers if they experience difficulties in getting online.

Red One was started in 2012 and built its customer base to one million in just under three years. With plans to open more retail outlets across the country and wants to double its customer base by end-2016 through ambitious customer acquisition campaigns.



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.

EMC UK bigwig defects to Pure Storage

swimming-ratIt seems that not all are happy with what is happening at EMC now that Dell is fairly certain to get his paws on the company.

Gary Matson began working at EMC in October as district manager after joining from Arrow.  Now he has left the company after four months to lead Pure Storage’s UK and Ireland (UKI) channel.

His new job  is as a sales professional with Distribution, Vendor, SI, and ISV experience  working with partners to deliver IT solutions.

Neither Pure Storage nor EMC were immediately available to confirm the move or comment, but Matson updated his LinkedIn profile this week.

For those who came in late,  Pure Storage and EMC are rivals and there is much bad blood between them. A number of EMC staff have defected to Pure Storage over the past year or so.

In fact his this time last year, EMC’s former UK boss James Petter cleaned out his desk and headed over to Pure Storage . EMC’s chief marketing officer Jonathan Martin left the company to take on the same job at Pure Storage.

Pure Storage is big on the channel. In a recent 10-Q filing published last month. It promised to continue to invest in the channel programme and boost its global channel network.  To be fair, so is Dell and EMC, but it is unclear why EMC is losing its talent to such a smaller outfit.

Oracle user groups back licensing policy

oracleWhile Oracle has been blasted by the Campaign for Clear Licensing for its Byzantine approach, two Oracle user groups have backed it.

Earlier this week CCL called for the supplier to make its software licensing more cloud friendly and slammed Oracle’s approach to measuring successful software licence sales.

John Matelski,  president of the Independent Oracle Users Group, noted in a blog: “I was extremely surprised and dismayed to learn that there are still those in the customer community that would suggest their relationship with Oracle is predominantly hostile and filled with deep-rooted mistrust – particularly when it comes to licensing and audits.

“Oracle is not just a solutions provider, but rather they are a partner in helping promote the success (or failure) of every organisation they do business with – for me, failure is not an option!”

Debra Lilley, a member advocate and board member of the UKOUG, wrote in a blog post: “Users are very passionate when they feel wronged and immediately after an audit there can be a lot of shouting, and we hear of audits that happen in the last quarter and are then seen as revenue generating.

“The discussions need to be outside actual audits, with less emotion. Oracle License Management Services (LMS) are trying to engage more with customers. Mark Hurd recently talked about employing 10x more staff whose only role is to improve relationships with customers. This is something user groups have asked for repeatedly, so let’s give them the chance to demonstrate the payback to customers.”


Carmakers partner up with Microsoft

Vintage & Classic Car Salvage Yards and Wrecks (11)While hardware and software makers are fighting their way into smartcars, it appears that the software king of the world Microsoft is already on-board thanks to its pretty complex partner strategy.

Microsoft’s executive vice president of global business development at Microsoft Peggy Johnson claims that now that carmakers see their cars as technology platforms, and they are choosing Microsoft as their partner.

Volvo, Nissan, Harman and IAV announced new details about their partnerships with Microsoft to enhance their connected car strategies and they joined Toyota, Ford, Qoros, Delphi, and other companies already working with Microsoft, Johnson said.

Johnson said that the big idea is to bring their cars into the mobile-first, cloud-first world. Soon apparently your car will be connected to the Internet, as well as to other cars, your mobile phone and your home computer.

At CES, Volvo showcased new concepts that integrate Microsoft Band 2 with a Windows 10 smartphone and the Volvo on Call Universal App, creating new ways for customers to interact with their vehicles. From the new Microsoft Band, a Volvo owner can press and hold the action button and say, “Volvo, start the heater of my car,” among many other options.

Harman has integrated Microsoft Office 365 productivity suite capabilities into Harman infotainment systems. Drivers will be able to access Office 365 services and interact with them through intelligent personal assistant software to schedule meetings, hear and respond to important emails, and make Skype calls when in park, or when on the road in autonomous vehicles.

IAV will use Windows 10 Continuum to stream Windows 10 via a mobile device directly to a car’s dashboard, giving drivers access to Windows 10 features and apps such as Cortana, Skype for Business, Calendar, Outlook and Groove Music while the vehicle is in autonomous driving mode or parked. This integration allows drivers to use the devices they already own. Microsoft and IAV will also demo how to use Cortana Analytics and data from a vehicle’s surroundings to improve safety by anticipating and mitigating potential vehicle and pedestrian accidents.

Nissan and Vole will announce that all Nissan LEAF and Infiniti models in Europe will have Connect Telematics Systems (CTS) powered by Microsoft Azure.

Johnson claimed Automakers are choosing Vole as their connected car partner to help them transform the consumer experience with a platform for intelligent cars that complements their own strategies and ambitions.

“With this partner focus, we’re able to leverage our cloud-based intelligence technologies, productivity services and tools, and even personal assistant technologies like Cortana in a neutral manner,” she said.

“We’re able to strike the right balance between using data to create both intelligent and personal experiences, while helping maintain privacy and security. We’re able to create more natural, human computing interfaces. And, we’re able to develop and deploy secure platforms and infrastructure to enable innovation on top of existing systems,” Johnson said.

Nokia quickly merges Alcatel-Lucent operations

wellington-bootFormer rubber boot maker Nokia has gained control of French counterpart Alcatel-Lucent following its $17 billion all-share offer and the two telecom equipment makers are planning to swiftly merge their operations.

Nokia wants to be in a stronger position to give Ericsson and Huawei a good kicking in the telecom network gear markets.  To do that it has to absorb  Alcatel-Lucent and restructure its channel rather fast.

Formal closure of the deal is not expected unti the first quarter of next year, but the restructuring will happen before that.

Nokia Chief Executive Rajeev Suri said that from January 14, 2016, Nokia and Alcatel-Lucent will offer a combined end-to-end portfolio of the scope and scale to meet the needs of our global customers.

The stock is still down about 10 percent since the announcement of the deal in April as investors have worried about the integration process and special terms negotiated by the French government.

But in October, Nokia brought forward the deal’s 900 million euro cost-saving target by a year to 2018.

The deal, set to become the biggest transaction in Finland’s corporate history, follows a string of M&A moves that have restructured former mobile phone giant Nokia in recent years.

In 2013, it took control of its network business by buying out Siemens from a joint venture, and in 2014 it sold the ailing mobile phone business to Microsoft. Last year it also sold navigation business.

2016 could be the year of the public cloud

grandpa_simpson_yelling_at_cloudA battery of reports suggests that more companies are going to push data onto the public cloud this year.

Public cloud setups are being suggested as a good idea for resellers to push on startups and software test and development, but now they are making its way into the corporate data centre and enterprise.

A recent IDC study reveals that spending on public cloud IT infrastructure will increase by nearly 30 percent to $20.5 billion in 2015 and now a Dimensional Research survey, released by Cloud Cruiser, a provider of software solutions for hybrid cloud analytics, finds that more companies are committing to public clouds for enterprise applications.

They are particularly interested in ERP and CRM all of which means good business for cloud services providers.

One of the stranger findings is that all this is taking place with very little information available about cloud costs and consumption.

It is looking like channel players need to provide “solutions” that help customers gain greater usage visibility and cost transparency into their public cloud investments and, if they pull it off, they could be laughing all the way to the bank.

Beware fake presidents

Screen-Shot-2015-03-23-at-7.21.27-PMBeancounters at Deloitte arewarning companies against a ‘fake president’ scam which apparently is rather convincing and has claimed several reseller scalps.

According to a Deloitte press release, the scam works by convincing an employee of a company to make an emergency bank transfer to a third party under the guise of paying off a company debt, sealing a contract or making a deposit.

Deloitte’s said: “We wish to draw the attention of our clients and suppliers to a wave of frauds affecting many companies at the moment. We recommend our clients and suppliers to stay vigilant.

“These type of frauds are created by well-organised criminal organisations with a complete knowledge regarding the market, structure and customers of the companies they are attacking,” it added. “This knowledge is used to give them all necessary arguments to convince their victim and act in the wanted direction,”.

The scam gets its name from the fact that the fraudsters impersonate a group executive such as the president, CEO or CFO or a trusted partner such as lawyers, auditors, accountants of the company.

They contact a specific employee’s company by reaching a manager or any employee by phone (imitating a voice) or emails (using the company signature), requesting an urgent bank transfer to a foreign bank account.

The transfer is then done manually using a direct phone call or fax to a bank. They usuallu use the victim’s company procedures for urgent business transactions.

Deloitte said there were several ways to avoid falling victim to this scam, including making all staff aware of the issue, and ensuring they respect standard working procedures.
It was important to verify the legitimacy of the request by calling back the person using the contact information stored in the contacts and not use the phone numbers the scammers give you.

It seems to us that it is just a more personal version of the Nigerian scam, but apparently it is a lot more successful, presumably because it is done over the phone by someone who sounds like they could be the real deal.

Panama president linked to SAP bribery case

indexThe former president of Panama, Ricardo Martinelli might have been involved in a bribery scheme that helped SAP to sell millions of dollars in software to Panama.

According to Reuters, being SAP’s business partner is just one of the crimes that the former president faces at the moment.  He says they are all politically motivated.

The main case was against Vicente Garcia, a former executive at SAP, the German soutfit which makes esoteric business software which no -one is really sure what it does.

Garcia, 65, was sentenced to 22 months in prison on December 16 by a US court in the Northern District of California, after pleading guilty to conspiring to bribe Panamanian officials to secure contracts for SAP software.

Judge Charles R. Breyer’s told Garcia to avoid contact with “any co-conspirator in this case,” naming Martinelli and six others, as a condition of his future supervised release.

Martinelli has not been charged with any wrongdoing in Garcia’s case in fact his brief claims the former president had never met Garcia.

SAP fired Garcia in April 2014 and is cooperating in the ongoing investigation. The US Securities and Exchange Commission said Garcia “circumvented SAP’s internal controls” to fund the bribe payments.

Garcia admitted using bribe payments to secure a software contract to update technology for Panama’s social security agency. The scheme, which ran from 2009 until 2013, won an SAP reseller a $14.5 million contract. SAP itself received around $2.1 million in software sales thanks to the bribes, according to court records.


Councils found outsourcing a burden in 2015

ukflagLocal authorities in the UK  are starting to find that the outsourcing contracts they signed are saddling them with more costs than they predicted.

Outsourcing was being touted as a way to save money, but it is starting to look like the councils are having to scale down outsourcing operations or abandon them completely. The current belief is now that a move to outsource can be a false economy. Councils are beginning to realise they are quite adept at making savings themselves.

This year Cornwall Council was awarded the right to divorce its outsourcing contract with BT. The council signed a 10-year £160m contract with BT two years ago,. However Cornwall was far from happy and wanted out. So BT sued to keep it in.

The eventual contract with BT was a slimmed down version of the original deal proposed in 2012, which was overturned after councillors put forward a no-confidence vote to the leader of Cornwall Council over the plans.

It was not the only one which is unhappy with its outsourcing contract. Earlier this month, Somerset voted to terminate its 10-year SouthWest One deal with IBM a year early, due to a report finding it had become “increasingly unaffordable”.

Now it seems that other councils are getting less keen about being saddled with outsourcing contracts. Dorset County Council has rejected plans to outsource its IT services, as it was unlikely to be sufficiently flexible in the future.

Looking at the numbers the council decided that it would not get value for money.

This means that outsourcing sales teams hoping to interest councils in big contracts next year will find it a tough sell.

Fujitsu splits PC and smartphone businesses

tumblr_static_tumblr_static_bipw3qkx87www8ogs08wggok0_640Fujitsu has decided on a divide and conquor strategy for its PC and smartphone business – although it has decided to divide itself, so we are not sure if it has got the hang of the concept.

Fujitsu is splitting its PC, both desktops and notebooks, business and its smartphonebusiness into companies of their own with their own long-winded name.

Those two companies will now be called Fujitsu Client Computing Limited and Fujitsu Connected Technologies Limited.  These names do not appear to have been made up by the marketing department but rather the legal department.

The outfit said that “it has become increasingly difficult to achieve differentiation, and competition with emerging global vendors has intensified.”

Companies and subsidiaries are spun out to give them more leeway in creativity, R&D, and design. In practice, that might not always happen.

There is an even bigger rumored that Japan’s three biggest, but now struggling, PC makers will be merged into one. Toshiba, Fujitsu, and VAIO are in the process of negotiating a merger of PC businesses. Fujitsu’s split might make it easier for its PC division to make that move and it also might explain why they could not come up with a sexier name for the new company.


Salesforce buys a steelbrick for Christmas

oSalesforce has just bought six-year-old startup SteelBrick for $360 million which will become a wholly owned subsidiary after the deal closes in April 2016.

SteelBrick is expected to bolster Salesforce’s Sales Cloud business, by far the largest segment of the company. But it’s unclear how it plays into Salesforce’s recent move to target larger enterprises because SteelBrick is largely for small companies.

The deal was rumoured since last week but the deal size is almost half of the expected $600 million amount.

Salesforce was already an investor in SteelBrick, so the final price might reflect what Salesforce paid without including its existing stake.

SteelBrick offers quote-to-cash (QTC) technology that makes it easier for salespeople to put together complex quotes and billings for potential customers. The company last raised $48 million in October at a reported valuation of $250 million.

The startup is run by Godard Abel, the former CEO of BigMachines, another QTC software maker acquired by Oracle for $400 million in 2013. There’s a number of popular QTC solutions in the market, but SteelBrick is different in that it mostly deals with small- and medium-size businesses.

The SteelBrick acquisition marks the largest deal in more than two years for Salesforce. The last startup deal it made of any note was when it bought RelateIQ for $390 million last year.


Government says G-Cloud will shake up public sector suppliers

funny_faces_of_dogs_shaking_heads_640_17The UK government claims that its G-Cloud procurement makeover in the new year, will “revolutionise” the way suppliers work with the public sector.

The government is trying to make  procurement simpler for buyers and suppliers and is testing it on its Digital Outcomes and Specialists (DOS) framework.

“Plain English” standards were applied to the DOS tendering process, which the government claims it has vastly simplified.

Writing in its bog the government said: “For the redesigned framework, we’ve reduced the length of the documentation significantly. The new documentation includes six tender documents rather than the 11 we had for Digital Services 2.

“The DOS tender pack, which includes the contracts, has around 50 per cent fewer words than the Digital Services 2 tender pack. It’s also 123 pages shorter. If the average adult reading speed is around 250 words per minute, the old documentation would have taken around nine hours to read, and that’s assuming a reader understands everything on a single read-through. We estimate that the new DOS documents will take around three-and-a-half hours to read.”

G-Cloud – which shares a place in the Digital Marketplace alongside the DOS framework – is next in line to get a procurement makeover.

The blog said that in 2016, the government will work in a similar way for the next iteration of G-Cloud (G-Cloud 8) as well as for any new or redesigned frameworks coming onto the Digital Marketplace in the future.

“We think that meeting user needs is important for all government procurement, not just for digital and technology services. We want to share our approach and the lessons we’ve learnt from delivering DOS for the Digital Marketplace.”

UK VARs unhappy with US Vendors

too_good_for_grumpy_catUK VARs are less happy with their vendor partners than their counterparts in the US, according to a new survey.

The research conducted by CompTIA surveyed more than 200 British channel firms earlier this year as part of its State of the UK Channel Report 2015 and compared the results to that of the same survey it carried out in the US.

According to the results only one in five UK resellers would give their vendors the highest possible satisfaction rating. In the US 40 percent thought their vendor is the bee’s knees.

Less than 12 percent of UK resellers were not satisfied with their vendor partners.

CompTIA’s senior vice president for industry relations Nancy Hammervik said it is “not surprising” the Brits were less enthusiastic than their US counterparts.

She thinks channel conflict could be partly to blame although geography does not help. The UK is not a primary indirect target for many US-based vendors. She said that UK partners may feel less satisfied due to vendors assigning less resources, communication, marketing support to regions compared to the US.

More than 40 percent of respondents said channel conflict with vendors has gone up in the last year.

“There are more vendors can do to ensure their channel partners are 100 per cent satisfied and happy selling their products,” Hammervik said.

“If a reseller knows that their supplier is reliable and offers a product that their customers will want, they will have the confidence to retain and expand the relationship, meaning more business and income for the vendor.”