Microsoft confuses on Azure

clouds3Software giant Microsoft is trying to encourage its channel to come up with more cloud offerings by cutting the price on its Azure licencing.

Microsoft lowered Windows Azure price on SQL Reporting Services, which is used for business intelligence-type applications.
The SQL Reporting Service is now measured at increments of 30 reports at $0.16 per hour. The previous charge was measured at $0.88 per hour in increments of 200 reports.

Writing in its bog Vole claims that “the smaller report increment will give customers better use of the service and lower effective price points”.

Like most of the postings that Microsoft has made on its cloud offerings this one is as clear as mud. That is one of the things that resellers have been moaning about when it comes to Azure. The licensing arrangements are so Byzantine you have to be Constantine the Great to understand how they all work.

Customers have to pay for the compute time, data storage and data access and the bandwidth of the data transferred out of the cloud. Those various services get priced per GB. Then there is a monthly fee rolled into the overall cost if an organization uses SQL Azure.

To make matters worse, at the end of last year, Vole started reducing the price for Windows Azure Storage (WAS), claiming that costs could be reduced by 28 percent. WAS offers geo-replication storage support, as well as lower cost “redundant storage”. The geo-replication storage service is turned on by default.

However according to RPC magazine the service cannot be that good because when there was a two-day Windows Azure service disruption in December, Vole did not bother using it. If it had, Microsoft would have lost customer data.

Microsoft is apparently planning a few price more cuts which look even more complex as they are discounts based on spending tiers.

All this is because of the effectiveness of Amazon, particularly Amazon Elastic Cloud Compute (EC2) and Amazon Web Services (AWS). Amazon cut data transfer prices by as much as 83 percent. In addition, Amazon decreased some EC2 on-demand prices by up to 13 percent.

All up this is making the life of the reseller trying to sell Azure based offerings a little harder. Price cuts would make things a lot more competitive, if the original pricing structure was not so complex. Trying to sell such a complex structure to a client is a tough sell, particularly when the customer does not know what they are getting into.

Lenovo has nothing to fear from Dell deal

lenovo-logoOne of the few successful PC makers this year, Lenovo has said that it has nothing to fear from Dell going private.

For those who came in late, Michael Dell along with a consortium of chums which include Microsoft, bought up the with his name on it to make the hardware maker private.

The move will mean that Dell will not have to answer to any nasty smelly shareholders and Microsoft will be assured that it has a hardware base for its Windows 8 plans.
In a statement, Lenovo said that Dell’s actions will make no difference to its outlook. In fact the wording, which failed to mention Dell by name, seemed to imply that there had been calls for it to do something similar.

If Lenovo had been thinking of doing something similar that would have been surprising, nevertheless, the company seemed to be answering an unasked question “what will it do now?”.

In a press release Lenovo said it did not have to do anything, thank-you very much. Its strategy was clear, its financial position is healthy and its business is very strong.

Lenovo was “focused on products, customers and overall execution rather than distracting financial manoeuvres and major strategic shifts”.

Lenovo has enjoyed growth in sales and profits thanks to its strength in China and emerging markets so it never really need to change anything it was doing.

Since buying IBM’s PC business in 2005, Lenovo has grown fast and overtaken Dell in the PC market. It is the world’s second-largest PC vendor, is now only slightly behind market leader HP.
So Lenovo’s response to Dell’s sale is that “well we are not going to do anything like that” which is fair enough. We didn’t think it would.

Abiquo launches 2013 Global Partnership Programme

Hands across the waterAbiquo has launched its 2013 Global Partnership Programme, aimed at helping partners make the most of the Cloud.

According to the company, the global programme will aim to help resellers take advantage of this technology, which some companies may struggle to do.

Stuart Kerr, Abiquo director of partner alliances told ChannelEye: “The cloud can affect some businesses because of the way it works.

“If you look back traditionally resellers used a range of products from tech to licenses to fulfil their client’s needs. However, the cloud provides all in one solutions.”

He said the programme had been developed in response to increased demand and expansion opportunities worldwide, and “would also look at finding resellers in areas that the company hadn’t yet “reached out into.”

There are also four levels for partners to choose from, which Abiquo claims will help meet their customers’ cloud demands.

It is also hoped that the programme will help the company extend its ability to offer resellers a product that fully meets their customer’s needs as well as offering IT administrators and managers, for the first time the chance to really control every aspect of their cloud.

This ranges from billing to user identification.

Abiquo’s range of cloud software products are targeted at partners operating in the telecoms, healthcare, government and education sectors and are offered in four different options.

The company also says it has already formed a partnership with NEC, making it easier for their customers to deliver self-service cloud services to their enterprise customers.

The channel expansion will target partners in the appropriate vertical sectors and demonstrate Abiquo’s expertise in providing software solutions for these skilled industry areas.

No cash cow from dog chips – it’s barking mad

ChihuahuaCompanies hoping to make a few bucks out of new dog chipping legislation could end up disappointed with an analyst pointing out that that there’s not a lot of margins in this industry.

Malcolm Penn, an analyst at Future Horizons, has also advised chip companies looking to be favoured by the government to put away those expensive bottles of whisky, with favouritism illegal in this country.

The comments come as an anticipated announcement by the government is expected to order that all dogs are microchipped by 2016.

It is thought the moves will help owners reunite with lost or stolen pets, relieving the burden placed on local authorities and animal charities by stray dogs. It will also mean it will be easier to track the owners of dangerous dogs.

The chips will contain an electronic record of their owners’ name and addresses, as well as a unique identity number, which will be stored on a database in case the details are needed.

According to the Dogs Trust, more than four million dogs and cats in the UK have been fitted, with up to 8,000 new registrations every week.

However, prices on this process are varied. The Dogs Trust suggests that owners are looking at around £20-£30 to chip their dogs, while others claim that the cost could be as little as £5.

Malcom Penn pointed out that the cost would be far lower.

“These chips are not so complex, maybe five cents a pop for the IC manufacturer, and pet quantities are not that great – around 8 million dogs and cats – with a ‘renewal rate’ of say 1 million per year, assuming an average eight years life . So, US$5 million per year ongoing plus the one off surge.”

He also pointed out that although Infineon is the world market leader here, the UK  is unlikely to have a favoured supplier, as it’s illegal under EU regulations.

Ingram Micro says ta ta to senior chief

IMMegadistributor Ingram Micro said its Senior Director of its Volume Technology Group, will be leaving the firm in March.

Desmond Ling, who moved to Australia in 2011 to take up the job, has now decided to return to his home country of New Zealand to spend more time with his family.

His boots will be filled by Julian Phua who will rejoin the company on the 18 of this month under the title of  Commercial Director.

He will return to the company after a six year stint as general manager of product development and supply chain at Cellnet in Brisbane.

Prior to that stint, Phua spent almost 10 years at Tech Pacific and then Ingram Micro between 1998 and 2007.

Intel imposes pay freeze on staff

IntelThings are looking more than a little shaky at the Intel Corporation  with claims of pay freezes and vacancies left unfilled.

Last month the company announced that it had seen profits take a nose dive dropping 27 percent in the last quarter, net income stood at $2.5 billion from the $3.4 billion, a year earlier, while the company’s revenue took a hit falling three percent to $13.5 billion from $13.9 billion.

At the time the company claimed that it was striving to do better and award its stakeholders with fatter margins the next time round, but it seems clawing some of the cash back is falling at the expense of its UK staff.

Sources within the company told ChannelEye: “There’s been talk of pay freezes, while [vacancies] that have been left open for months have yet to be filled.”

Some departments were facing a losing battle as a result.

“There’s also been more pressure on both [sales and marketing] departments to perform better, which, without the right support and staff count has been hard, but that’s obviously the demons that we have to deal with rather than for the top level staff.”

The source also said neither marketing or sales departments were seeing any of the marketing budget Intel had promised to throw at this area when it announced its financials.

This year the company earmarked $18.9 billion on research and development, along with marketing and administrative costs, an increase from 2011 when it spent $16 billion in this sector, and up from $18.2 billion last year.

“When Intel said it would be spending more on marketing last month, I don’t think it really meant its staff in this sector and in sales,” ChannelEye heard.

“I think it was more for its products – namely Ultrabooks – and other shiny toys that would appeal to consumers.

“There’s however only so much we can do to promote the Ultrabook, and feed exciting, engaging info to resellers and consumers when we haven’t got all the tools to do it”.

Box pushes, with force, into EMEA channel

boxfactoryEnterprise cloud and collaboration company Box is launching a channel partner programme packed with incentives and organised by industry veterans to boost growth in the UK and EMEA.

The Silicon Valley firm posted an impressive end of fiscal year in 2012 with its technology in roughly 150,000 enterprises and with about 15 million users, channel director Chris Penner told ChannelEye, along with over 17,000 developers actively building custom apps for the platform. Pre-partner programme, the company has been busy boosting its roster of seasoned executives and went on a poaching spree over a six month period, bringing on staff with experience at Salesforce, VMware, HP, NetApp, Cisco and more to make sure it gets the channel strategy right on the first try.

One such hire is David Quantrell, who joined Box in September 2012 to run Box’s channel strategy in EMEA. Prior to this role he was President, EMEA for McAfee, and also has experience at HP and Nortel.

Wayne Cook, another hire, was previously at McAfee and is now a VP for channel and alliances at Box.

Penner told us that for the poached staff, moving over to Box presented an opportunity “of a lifetime” in a company that is well positioned with proper venture backing, a tremendous install base, and $40 billion pre-IPO. “A lot of ingredients that don’t come along every day,” Penner said. “We are building a really fundamental industry leading channel”.

Box Partner Network will create an “ecosystem of strategic alliance, channel and platform partners” that will bring Box’s content into new markets and, it hopes, drive further lofty aims of expansion. In a press release, the company boasted that, although in relative infancy, the company already had tons of big business clients signed up, including EA, NBC, Nationwide, Discovery Communications, Sony Music, and Netflix.

Starting partners include Autodesk, AtTask, Fonality, Marketo, CollabNet, Clarizen, TIBCO, Tidemark, and Xero – while five new partners, CollabNet, Clarizen, Fonality, tibbr, and Tidemark, will be tasked with leveraging the Box Embed HTML5 framework introduced late last year.

50 resellers have been signed up on a global basis over the last four months, including big hitters such as Ingroam Micro.

Interested channel players should head here.

As for Box’s position in the tech industry, Penner is optimistic: he tells us that end users love the service for its collaboration tools and simplicity, while IT likes Box because they know exactly what technology is going to be on premises and can control and manage every level of content in a secure manner – which is not the case for consumer alternatives, Penner said.

 

Dell sells itself off to Dell and Co

Michael DellDell has confirmed it has sold itself to Michael Dell and associates for the princely sum of $24.4 billion.

Shareholders of Dell stock will receive $13.65 per share, when the transaction  concludes. That’s a premium of Dell’s share price of $10.88, which was its closing price before rumours of the sale started to surface.

The board of Dell, which includes Michael Dell himself, unanimously approved the merger agreement with Michael Dell and Silver Lake Partners taking the company private.

Dell Inc has appointed a special committee to evaluate alternative proposals in a so-called go-shop period of 45 days.

Michael Dell said he thought the move was an “exciting new chapter for Dell” and its customers.  He said he has put a “substantial amount” of his own capital at risk together with Silver Lake.

After the transaction is completed, Michael Dell will continue as chairman and chief executive officer. Parties affiliated with Silver Lake include Microsoft, Merrill Lynch, Barclays, Credit Suisse and others.

Liberty mulls Virgin Media buy

rbransonVirgin has confirmed that it is in talks with American billionaire John Malone about a possible takeover of Virgin Media – that could lead to a bid within the week, threatening Rupert Murdoch’s leading BSkyB TV service.

A purchase will be a challenge to Rupert Murdoch’s monopoly on paid-for TV services in the UK with BSkyB. Liberty Media, a subsidiary of Liberty Global, owns a hefty chunk of cable TV in the United States, and has the financial clout to inject competition into the British market.

According to principal analyst at Ovum, Adrian Drury, said in the near term the UK will become a “slug fest” for the two global pay TV heavyweights – that is, John Malone and Rupert Murdoch. TV subscribers will not be the only segment up for grabs, as the action could also kick off a price war in fixed broadband and voice subscribers.

“Depending on how Malone might choose to leverage the Virgin Mobile asset,” Drury said, “it may also spill over in consumer mobile services”.

Malone’s involvement would bring business experience from cable operations in 13 major markets, Drury points out, as well as leverage across multiple territories with the major studios and sports federations. Liberty’s Horizon platform would also gain a foothold in the UK. However, Drury said competing with BSkyB will be “facing off against a jewel” – as it is one of the best run operations in the world, not to mention its technology platform strategy and exclusive content rights with HBO and contracts with Premiership football.

The UK is also an emerging territory for streaming content services, with the two big players being Netflix and Amazon’s Lovefilm. Both BSkyB and Virgin have been offering their own streaming packages, however, that has seen a battle between companies that offer streaming to getting the best licensing deals. As such, Ovum suggests, it will be a a test for Liberty’s vision of cable TV and web services.

“Also expect that there would be some collateral damage, potentially other UK telcos trying to solve their triple play pay-TV challenge, such as Talk Talk and BT,” Drury said.

Avnet brings FlexPod, Expresspod to EMEA

avnettsEnormous distributor Avnet has teamed up with both Cisco and NetApp to open up integration services based on FlexPod and ExpressPod architecture to resellers in EMEA.

FlexPod and ExpressPod are data centre design architectures built with virtualisation and the cloud in mind. The idea behind Avnet’s programme is to give partners access to these technologies on a basis that will let them roll out as fast as possible. Included is pre-sales support, single order capability, assembly and testing, and ship completion and tracking. Avnet’s Cisco, NetApp and VMware teams will offer additional support.

Avnet says that by partnering with three top market players it has landed itself in an advantageous position for the region.

The programme will be available in every EMEA country where Avnet has distie rights for Cisco and NetApp – which includes the UK & Ireland, France, Germany, the Netherlands and Denmark.

In a statement, Cisco’s EMEA director for data centre and virtualisation, Ed Baker, said that the opportunity presents resellers with a “great way to position new services and increase customer relevance”.

NetApp’s VP for partners and pathways EMEA, Thomas Ehrlich, said the potential for the technologies is “immense” because the flexibility of the architecture pays off for resellers and customers.

Inkjet market going the way of the Dodo

Dodo-birdIt is starting to look like inkjets are going the way of the Dodo and the Rubik’s Cube.

Figures from Context show that all-in-one inkjet sales in the UK slid 11.8 percent by volume in 2012. That figure is better than the rest of the EU where all-in-one inkjet sales fell by 14 per cent.

Wireless versions of InkJets are doing slightly better because they are popular in homes and small offices because they can be located easily, connecting to multiple devices without cabling.

As you might expect, HP is still the leading vendor of wireless all-in-one inkjets, although Epson and Canon are doing a little better. However, the InkJet market has been looking shaky for a year.

In August Lexmark announced that it was pulling out of the market completely. Lexmark made its name on the “flog a cheap printer make your money back on the ink” model which was pioneered by HP. The fact that it left the market was seen as the beginning of the end. If Lexmark could kill off an entire business, unit sales numbers must have been dramatically bad.

Other companies have been seeing the writing on the wall for about three years. Consumer inkjet sales were proving so bad that it was better to try and flog the technology to corporate. Epson spent a fortune on its WorkForce high-end inkjets and did OK. HP, which has pitched its products to the business market for years, should have been doing fine too.

However, HP CEO Meg Whitman blamed part of the company’s recent and dismal earnings announcement as a steep decline in HP printer sales. She said that this lack of interest from consumers meant HP was going to de-emphasise products for lower-end customers. It seems business customers are no longer that interested either.

It is not quite so clear why the inkjet market has been so completely gutted. There have been moves to claim that the low end market and the consumer space have become completely paperless. Pictures which once would have been printed are now saved and shared across the net. Hard copy is less likely to be needed.

Some of that might be true, but the cost and quality of laser printing has also dropped. Cartridges require filling less often and are frequently cheaper than inkjets. Mostly it is because in the consumer market inkjet sales were tied to PC sales. Cheap inkjets were often sold as packages with PCs.

It also might indicate that there was a gradual realisation among consumers that inkjets really are a waste of cash in the long term. While the high-end inkjet technology was good, particularly for photographs, most of the great unwashed would not pay over £250 for a decent inkjet with all the sub-$100 models floating around. The cheap and nasty machines poisoned the market for the others.

Apple turned resellers into hostile competition

skippysonny_1334Apple might have scored an own goal down-under by culling its channel savagely and pushing its own retail model.

Last year, Apple fired more than 200 Australian resellers. Many of them had been selling Apple gear for years. The sackings came without warning or explanation.

One Sydney reseller told CRN Australia that all he got was a two line email terminating his reseller status. It ended his connection to Apple which brought $5 million worth goods to Australian businesses, health organisations and not-for-profits.

Another reseller who was dropped from Apple’s list was Sydney reseller Complete PC Solutions. Director Frank Triantafyllou said Apple made up figures which claimed his outfit had not sold enough products. Not only was that untrue, but what he found was that Apple was not really behaving like a partner.

His company often found he was competing against Apple’s own sales team and would find that product was not being made available for him to sell.

In one case he wanted 100 iPads for a school customer but was told by Apple he wasn’t authorised to supply that particular product.

The feeling down under is that Apple has peaked and it is losing business opportunities because it can’t handle the channel. The reason it can’t handle its channel is because it can’t give up control.
Apple’s policy appears to be one of forcing customers to go direct. This is helped by the development of its own retail channel. While this boosts the company at a local level it means the loss of huge numbers of sales.

Apple also failed to notice that those 200 resellers suddenly turned from committed advocates to actively hostile competition.

What the resellers have done is to recommend to their installed base of customers products which are not blessed by Apple. Talking up the merits of rival products seems to be working.

For example, HP’s ElitePad business tablet is being pushed for having a number of superior features for businesses, including better touch control, better keyboard, battery life, faster processing and of course Windows 8 and Flash compatibility.

Instead of pushing Apple, they have established an idea, which we are seeing among Apple resellers in Europe too, that Apple is a spent force.

One Roman reseller, which had been a keen Apple supplier for a decade, said that he started recommending other products because Apple’s time was over.

“It used to be that Apple was seen as infallible, and perhaps under Steve Jobs it was, but now cracks are appearing,” he told ChannelEye. “We could have put up with them being arrogant before, but now it is just annoying.”

European biz wants Network-as-a-Service

cloud 2Beancounters working for research outfit Ciena have discovered that European enterprises are falling over themselves to get to WAN connectivity.
Interest is particularly strong in the UK, France, Germany and the Netherlands.

Dubbed the Vanson Bourne survey, the report indicates that corporates are most interested in a WAN connectivity model that adapts to peak and off-peak demands.

Four out of five enterprises describe themselves as very or somewhat interested in adopting Network-as-a-Service (NaaS). The report said that this reflects the increasing bandwidth requirements that enterprises face today as well as the need for a more cost-effective connectivity model.

More enterprises are considering a ‘Data Centre Without Walls’ model where they can pay for connectivity according to usage.

The survey was made up of senior IT decision makers in Western Europe. German companies were particularly keen on Network-as-a-Service as a way of reducing IT costs.

Almost half of interviewees in the finance and manufacturing sectors describe themselves as very interested in such a model, while the public sector seems more reluctant with only 14 percent seeing it as an option.

Dutch and French enterprises are the most receptive to a pay-per-use model for WAN connectivity, followed by the UK and Germany. A third of French and British enterprises are attracted to this model by lower cost while the Dutch like the fact it is very predictable.

The report also shows the extent of IT outsourcing. About two thirds of companies have outsourced IT services, and among those more than a third intend to outsource more.

Ian Harris, EMEA system integrators leader at Ciena said that with most enterprises outsourcing part of their IT services, the next step for enterprises will be to move part of their infrastructure requirements to the cloud.

He thinks that the Data Centre Without Walls idea will catch on because it allows enterprises to share resources while dealing with peak and off-peak demands.

The research backs up findings from Gartner’s IT Spending Report for 2013 that overall spending on IT infrastructure will surpass $3.7 trillion this year and $4 trillion by 2015.

A10 Networks launches 10 partners per country programme

tenA10 Networks has launched a EMEA partner programme, which is claimed to offer a small community of committed partners more benefits.

According to the application network company, its new Ten4A10 programme will  have a maximum 10 members with one distributor, two Gold, three Silver and four Bronze, which it hopes means that partners will gain more support and be given a clearer picture of the channel landscape.

The new programme has been formed following feedback from the company’s current partners as well as the current state of the Application Delivery Controller (ADC) market.

Andre Stewart, Vice President Sales EMEA for A10 Networks said that by looking at the
vendor landscape, the company had identified there was networks with an “over extended channel that was fighting over margin while selling an overpriced product.”

He said Cisco had “deserted” the ADC sector and  was pushing its channel to compete with Citrix partners in offering NetScaler, while smaller rivals such as Radware and Kemp didn’t offer in- depth products that enterprise customers required.

Ten4A10 programme means that a maximum of 10 per country will be supported directly through a channel manager with an associated set of benefits around training, support and marketing.

The company also said that it will increase margins by approximately 10 percent across all tiers with additional margin uplift through deal registration and customer reference programmes.

It has also promised an agreed set of target accounts per partner as well as free use of A10 Virtual appliance software for demonstration purposes

The new Ten4A10 strategy and supporting programme will be implemented in A10’s highest revenue producing EMEA regions including the UK, France, Germany, Spain and the Netherlands.