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.

A video thunderbolt hits Asus partners mispronouncing its name

zeus-personality-traits_55ac40ddd60b6667Taiwanese vendor Asus has released a video because it has had enough of its partners mispronouncing its name.

Most of them default to the classic “eh-sus” when it should be the more mythological pronunciation ‘Ay-Zeus.’

In a post on Linked In linking to the video, AZEUS’s UK marketing director John Swatton said he had “lost count” of how many people have asked him how to pronounce its brand over the past year.

This is despite Taiwan-based ASUS now being EMEA’s third-largest PC manufacturer, behind only HP and Lenovo, but people never get the pronunciation right.

“So our designers created a video using a radio ad that we ran last year. Hopefully the next time I’m cold-called, the caller might pronounce our brand correctly,” Swatton said.

“Originally named after Pegasus, the winged horse of Greek mythology, but now sounds like Zeus, the God of storms and thunder,” the video says.  Maybe they should have spelt it with a Z in the first place. Zeus might not be that impressed either, which is why our last Asus developed a sudden electrical fault which caused it to be packed off to Hades early.

Google targeting Office 365

google-ICGoogle is getting more agressive in its attempts to lure customers to Google Apps from Microsoft Office 365 after its initial programme was successful.

An incentive which allowed midsize businesses locked in contracts with other vendors to use Google Apps at no cost until those contracts expired was started in October and expired on April 14.

But Google has decided to maintain the incentive until the end of 2016, while also making it easier for smaller companies to qualify.

Writing in his bog, Neil Delaney, sales director for Google Apps said that the programme, which also helps fund migrations to Google’s cloud is doing rather well.

More than 20,000 midsize companies took advantage of the offer since October, launching 200,000 new Apps seats they wouldn’t have to pay for until licenses with other software vendors expired.

The original iteration of the programme applied to companies with between 250 and 3,000 employees. Delaney said Google fielded so much interest from smaller customers that it reduced the threshold to 100 employees for the extension period.

The programme aims to induce companies locked into an Enterprise Agreement (EA) to switch to Google Apps.  It gives new customers the opportunity to influence the move to Apps and gives decision makers the final incentive to make the switch.

Google wouldn’t name specific competitors from whom it sees the programme siphoning customers.  But it is pretty obviously talking about the sort of volume license offered by Microsoft for certain products, including Office 365.

 

Dell’s EMC debt rising

emcTin-box shifter Michael Dell always knew that his outfit’s debt was going to be a bit high after buying EMC, but it is starting to look like it is getting heavier.

Dell’s debt was high after the company went private, but now it seems that the Wall St bond market will need higher interest payments to fund the deal. While there is still enough cash in the kitty to get hold of EMC, it means that there could be a fire sale of overlapping business soon after the sale takes place.

All this is because the weak quarterly results at Intel and the poorly received debt sale by disk-drive maker Western Digital are pushing up the costs of Dell’s coming debt issuance. Basically the bankers are a bit nervy about investing in hardware at the moment.

Dell’s ability to raise money through selling off some businesses is also suffering. His SecureWorks IPO is now priced at $14/share instead of the original $15.50 – $17.50 range, reducing the likely inflow of cash to Dell, and thus reducing its future debt needs less than it must have hoped.

All this could add tens of millions of dollars to Dell’s annual interest expense, something that Dell needs like a hole in the head. It is thought that to deal with the problem, Dell is going to have to flog anything not nailed down in the two companies. There are overlaps between the two companies which can be safely flogged off, but it is more likely that more cuts will have to be made.  It is expected that there will be large numbers of former EMC or Dell staff looking for jobs when the agreement goes through.

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.

 

BT sent all its mail to Steve

btlogoBroadband provider BT redirected its customers’ outgoing emails to the account of one of its business partners for three hours.

The account belonged to Synchronoss Technologies, which  took over the running of BT’s cloud services last month. While BT did not provide details on the reason for the disruption, it appears to be something gone wrong during testing.

It appears that outgoing messages were getting forwarded to stevewebb2@btinternet.com address and that was bouncing email as the mailbox was full. According to Linked in there is a Steve Webb who supports O2 and BT email platforms looking after the mail gateway, the backend servers containing the mailboxes, calendars and address books and other servers in the platform.

“I have supported 28 million email accounts and 80 million emails per day,” if we are right then this guy literally did the job for a few hours this week.

 

EMEA PC shipments can’t get a lucky break

6a01053686a547970c017d3e73793e970c-piBeancounters at Gartner have added up some numbers and divided them by their shoe size and reached the conclusion that PC shipments in the EMEA region have fallen by 10 percent over last year.

Big G said that global PC shipments had sunk to their lowest point in a decade, with sales falling for a sixth consecutive quarter, down 9.6 percent year-on-year during the first three months of 2016. This was the worst things have been since 2007. But the figures seem to suggest that things in EMEA were worse than anywhere else.  Shipments for Q12016 totalled 19.5m units, a 10 percent year over year decline.

Isabelle Durand, principal analyst at Gartner said that the decline in the EMEA PC market is similar to the 9.6 percent decline seen worldwide, but there weres ome differences.

“In EMEA we saw many distinct factors cause clear splits between the consumer and professional PC markets, but also regionally between Western Europe and the rest of EMEA. Some PC vendors struggled to manage inventory and profitability in these diverse and rapidly shifting conditions.”

Looking at vendor performance in EMEA, HP increased its market share lead, despite a shipment decline of 2.5 percent, while Lenovo’s shipments shrank a significant 12.6 percent. Asus, ranked third, was the only vendor in the top five to increase its shipments, growing 3.9 percent.

Acer was by-far-and-away the biggest loser of the quarter, selling 26.4 percent fewer PCs year-over-year.

There was strong growth in demand for ultrabooks and hybrid two-in-one devices in both the business and consumer segments; however, this was not enough to offset the decline in PC sales.

Consumer shipments in the UK and Germany were stable which saved HP’s bacon. Professional shipments of desktops and notebooks fell  as business buyers continued to evaluate Windows 10 and delayed major deployments.

“These various trends in major Western European markets reveal that vendors are failing to give consumers and businesses a compelling reason to upgrade their existing PC hardware,” said IDC.

The situation in Russia and Ukraine had a chilling effect on Eastern Europe and Eurasia shipments which also did not do the industry much good.

Durand said buyers in EMEA will likely continue into the second quarter of 2016. “PC vendors must react quickly to varied trends among the professional and consumer segments, and fast-changing market conditions. The structure of the devices market and user purchasing behaviour has fundamentally changed the dynamics of the PC market.” That’s the ticket, Intel.

Huawei scores Britannic contract

huawei-liveBritannic Technologies has snubbed traditional networking bigwigs and given a £1 million networking contract to Huawei.

The comms VAR is introducing software-defined infrastructure and networking across all its datacentres. The job went out to tender and Huawei cleaned the clock of Cisco and Juniper.

Britannic said that Cisco was knocked out earlier and the choice was between Juniper or Huawei. While Juniper is renowned in the carrier space, Huawei spends more on R&D, has a better roadmap and seems to know what it is doing for the next 15 years, Britannic said.

The contract includes a new optical backbone between datacentres, and an  SDN-powered infrastructure across all the core.

Despite hacking off the Americans, Huawei is doing well. Its Enterprise Business Group saw 2015 revenues hike 44 per cent to $4.25 billion with 76 per cent of that generated by channels and partners. The Chinese firm now claims to have 300 distributors and VARs and a further 8,000 tier-two channel partners globally.

Britannic is a Gold reseller partner of Huawei and also a Platinum partner of Mitel and is a big name in cloud and managed services.

Comparex sales deal looks dead in the water

charly_poseMicrosoft enterprise licensing house Comparex is having difficulty selling itself off.

The Raiffeisen Banking Group-owned reseller hired investment banker Jefferies to manage a sales process in May and by September last we heard there were two private equity firms left in the running.

An agreement was expected for the end of 2015 but the dark satanic rumour mill claims that the talks collapsed and Comparex was left without a buyer.

The private equity buyers did not see licensing or software asset management strategy as being a good deal any more. Microsoft thinks that everyone will be using consumption-based licences through Azure and Office 365 making an Enterprise Agreement pointless.

Vole has reduced the profits licensing houses can generate from license reselling and recently confirmed that it will gradually kill off EAs in favour of Microsoft Products and Services Agreements and Cloud Solution Partner purchasing models.

Comparex resells software from 70 other vendors including Adobe, CA, IBM, Citrix and VMware but its primary vendor is Vole.

Peruni Holdings, which is a system integrator owned by Raiffeisen Bank, has owned Comparex since 2011.

Exertis gets Fractal Design gig

 maxresdefaultPC components manufacturer Fractal Design has named Exertis as a distributor for its range of cases, PSUs and cooling gear.

The move is seen as a push by Fractal Design into the UK channel using Exertis’ system integration customerbase and its multiple and independent retail and etail segments.

Exertis gets the full range of Fractal Design cases, including the Define, Core, Node and ARC series.

Stuart Hatch, Exertis general manager for components, said: “Exertis has the UK’s broadest portfolio for the PC enthusiast and gamer and the addition of Fractal Design is a perfect high-end complement to our growing range of PC chassis and accessories.

“We look forward to working with Fractal Design to broaden the customer base for their unique Scandinavian blend of cool style and cool operation.”

Graham Dark, regional manager for Western Europe and South Africa at Fractal Design, added: “Exertis is the premier distributor for PC components and gaming in the UK and we are delighted to be able to partner with them to bring our high-performance cases to a wider UK market.

“Fractal Design’s range of products are the pinnacle of design and performance and we partner with companies of a similar ethos. Exertis really adds to our presence in the retail, etail and SI markets.”

Ingram Micro teams up with Dropbox

ingram-mico-hqIngram Micro has announced an expanded distribution agreement with file sharing and collaboration outfit Dropbox.

The move will see it extending availability to channel partners across Europe, Australia, and New Zealand.

The scheme has been operating over the pond in the US and Canada. Ingram Micro said that the expanded agreement will make it the ‘premier distributor’ of Dropbox in the new regions.

Renee Bergeron, vice president, Global Cloud, Ingram Micro said that Dropbox is one of the most widely adopted collaboration platforms on the market, with unique business-focused capabilities that we expect will deliver significant value to our cloud portfolio and global partner community.

“Dropbox and Ingram Micro’s strengthened relationship reaffirms our joint commitment to meet the growing demands of channel partners and their customers for secure and controlled file sharing and collaboration environments. Through this expanded agreement, we will leverage our combined technical capabilities and expertise to build a value-added solution for strategic customer segments and vertical markets.”

Dropbox has been pushing into the enterprise market lately and Ingram Micro says that its channel partners will have greater cross-sell opportunities by attaching Dropbox to Microsoft Office 365 via Ingram Micro’s productivity suite.

Dell’s SecureWorks should get a $1.42 billion IPO

michael-dell-2Dell’s cyber security unit, SecureWorks, could be valued at up to $1.42 billion in its initial public offering, the first major US listing of a technology company this year.

SecureWorks said its offering was expected to be priced at $15.50-$17.50 per Class A share, raising as much as $157.5 million.

It is not the greatest time for SecureWorks to launch. IPO values plunged to a seven-year low in the first quarter, more than halving from a year earlier to $106.6 billion, as worries over slowing economic growth kept investors wary.

However as far as shareholders in SecureWorks are concerned, from such a low base, things can only get better.

Several cyber security firms such as FireEye, Rapid7 and Mimecast have gone public to take advantage of growing investor interest in them after a spate of hacking attacks on companies including major banks and retailers.

However, shares of Rapid7 and FireEye are now trading way below their IPO prices. Mimecast, which jumped 20 percent on its listing day, has also slipped below its offering price.

The Wall Street Journal first reported in October that Dell, the third-largest personal computer maker, had filed confidentially for listing SecureWorks, which it bought for $612 million in 2011.

Founded in 1999, SecureWorks has 4,200 clients in 59 countries.

 

Amazon sticks Jassy on Cloud

andy_jassy_amazonAmazon has promoted Andy Jassy to the job of CEO of the industry’s top public cloud infrastructure business.

He has already been doing the job, more or less, since he founded AWS in 2003 with a team of 57 people and has presided over the most dominant cloud business in the world, with more than a million customers in 190 countries.

Jassy’s promotion, which Amazon announced in a blog post comes after CEO Jeff Bezos revealed in his annual letter to shareholders earlier this week that AWS is on track to reach $10 billion in sales this fiscal year.

Bezos said in the letter that AWS is larger and growing faster than Amazon itself was after its first decade in business. He also pointed to AWS’ addition of 722 “significant” new features and services in 2015 — 40 percent more than it added in 2014 — as evidence that AWS is innovating faster than any other cloud vendor.

AWS, along with Amazon Prime and Marketplace, are examples of big bets the company has made that have paid off. Jeff Wilke, senior vice president of Amazon’s consumer business and the executive in charge of those units, has also been promoted to the title of CEO Worldwide Consumer, Bezos said.

 

EMC ponders selling Documentum

emcEMC is looking to sell its Documentum software unit in a move that parallels Dell’s efforts to sell off assets ahead of the companies’ pending merger.

According to Bloomberg, EMC had agreed to a Dell plan to shop the Documentum software business to prospective private equity buyers as part of an effort to offset the cost of acquiring EMC. However it is equally possible that EMC wants the cash to buy something nice.

Few EMC partners sell Documentum. EMC partners work at the infrastructure level, rather than the application level with document management. Documentum software tracks corporate documents. EMC acquired the company in 2003 for about $1.7 billion.

Dell expects its acquisition of EMC to close between May and October. Dell has been flogging off assets to offset the cost of the transaction. The acquisition deal is worth around $60 billion. Dell intends to take on as much as $49.5 billion in debt in order to complete it.

It has flogged off Perot Systems business to NTT Data of Japan for about $3.1 billion and is trying to find a buyer for SonicWall security business and Quest software.  This should get it $4 billion.