Alvea offers SMBs, channel, managed network security

gardnerIt “makes no sense” for the channel and small businesses to ignore the security market, Alvea has said, speaking with ChannelEye.

Recent research from channel analyst house Canalys suggests that the security industry is growing 10 percent year-on-year. According to Alvea, however, it can be tough for small businesses to stay on top of the ever changing security landscape, especially in a difficult economic climate.

The comments come as it launches its Managed Network Security service in the UK and Ireland.

Managed Network Security, which is the latest addition to the company’s services portfolio, is designed to help small and medium businesses (SMBs)  protect their networks from security threats and will be sold through the firm’s channel partners.

Neil Gardner (pictured), professional services development and operations manager at Alvea Services, pointed out that although it is urgent for SMBs and channel players to keep up with current threats, it can cost serious money and time.

Gardner told ChannelEye the company can help channel partners keep up with these threats thanks to its relationship with distributor Computerlinks. Although the Alvea brand is an independent service, it is supported by technical expertise and infrastructure from Computerlinks.

“Computerlinks has been in this industry for over 20 years and has an office built around a range of engineers and techies who keep up with the day-to-day threats in the security market,” Gardner said.

“Therefore what we offer our partners can be better than our competitors. Either a fully managed service contracted to us or a managed support package run by the partner.

“We want to give our partners an a la carte package, where they can also mix and match services. If we look at the competitor landscape we at best match prices with our rivals. However we offer a better service,” he said.

The new service includes both a firewall and a Virtual Private Network (VPN) delivered on a choice of hardware security appliances.

According to the company, the range of appliances available within the Managed Network Security service ensures that resellers can select the product that is best suited to their customer’s network requirements. They can also offer consultancy skills to customers to ensure the provision of the right level of protection and investment.

As businesses grow, resellers have the scope to add new service modules.

Alvea said this gives them the chance to remain in constant contact with customers, hold regular service reviews and foster a long-term relationships that may lead to additional sales opportunities.

Resellers can also offer the option of a managed security service to their customer bases without incurring the high costs of becoming a managed service provider themselves.

Church of Scientology runs Apple inspired Super Bowl ad

scientology-adThe Church of Scientology ran a rather amusing Super Bowl ad in several cities and the ad was apparently inspired by Apple.

Everything, from the music, narration and the clean post-production points to Cupertino, although it’s nothing like Apple’s iconic 1984 ad. However, it is a lot like Apple’s 1997 “Think Different” spot.

The ad speaks about seekers of knowledge, freethinkers, non-conformists, rebels, artists and a bunch of other New Age woo. The only thing missing is an iMac at the end.

The ad is part of the organisation’s “knowledge” campaign, which is rather amusing as the Church of Scientology has gone to great lengths to prevent the publication of its religious texts, which are copyrighted.

But you can always Google Xenu or visit RationalWiki for more information on Scientology’s beliefs. The Church of Scientology is often accused of being a money grabbing cult. So it is not that different from Apple after all.

Much like Apple, the Church of Scientology was created to change the world and generate a bit of cash for its founder. The other version is that it was the result of a bet. However, unlike Apple, which was launched by a couple of geeks who really did change the world, the Church of Scientology was launched by L. Ron Hubbard, a science fiction writer who spent much of his life on the run from US authorities. It did not change the world. Also, Apple designers tend to have better taste.

It is based on Dianetics, an atrocious attempt at pseudoscience and spirituality written by Hubbard at a time when he was struggling to make rent. Apple also enjoys a cultish following, but even Tom Cruise and John Travolta would struggle if they tried to turn the iTunes Terms and Conditions into a religious text. Hubbard would not, and he would probably copyright it to boot.

 

Canon launches idiot proof small biz scanner

beanteddyCanon has launched a compact and versatile desktop scanner, which it claims will appeal to small offices and corporate departments seeking a cost-effective scanning product.

The Canon imageFORMULA DR-C120 is claimed to be easy to use and comes with a range of features that are said to help businesses scan and convert documents into existing workflows and to the cloud.

It has double sided colour scanning of up to 40ipm and a 50-sheet automatic document feeder, using the folio mode feature users are also said to be able to scan up to A3-sized documents, while there is also an option to add Canon’s A4 Flatbed 101 Scanner Unit accessory in case there is a need to scan books or other bound material.

According to the company, the device is simple to use. Customers simply need to press a button on the scanner or through the company’s CaptureOnTouch software.

The scanner driver software also incorporates a full auto mode function that automatically applies the optimum scan settings so that users don’t need to worry about configuring settings for different document types. It features plugins for cloud-based connectivity with Microsoft SharePoint, Evernote and Google Docs.

The imageFORMULA DR-C120 is more energy efficient when scanning, using less than half the power compared to its competitors. It also ships with
software, including CapturePerfect, eCopy PDF Pro, BizCard, OmniPage, and PaperPort.

It will be available through all Canon sales offices and selected disties across Europe this month.

Iran proudly shows off stealth jet and folk fall for it

iranian-fake-jet-1The Iranian PR machine pulled off another stunt over the weekend, proudly proclaiming that the country’s top boffins managed to develop a super advanced fighter jet. Dubbed the Qaher F-313, the mockup was unveiled during a ceremony to commemorate the 39th anniversary of the Islamic revolution and quite a few dignitaries turned up to spice up the show, including President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad and Defence Minister Ahmad Vahidi.

State media covering the event were quick to point out that the plane was indigenously designed and produced in Iran. Vahidi said the jet could evade radar thanks to its very low radar cross section and its capability to conduct low-level operations. Press TV reports that the aircraft is similar to the F/A-18 and the F-5E/F Tiger II, although it looks nothing like the two Northrop designed planes. In fact, the mockup looks like the lovechild of an F-35 and X-36, with one small difference. Iran’s stealth jet is a fake, and a bad one at that.

The images show a tiny jet with an oversized cockpit. The canopy material seems to be plexiglass and the cockpit is just plain ridiculous. It features a mix of cheap avionics for homebuilt aircraft, including an audio panel, transponder and NAV/COM courtesy of Garmin. Basically it is the sort of thing some ultra-light enthusiast would botch together in a shed. The avionics don’t even appear to be wired. The canopy mechanism is all wrong and even the size of the cockpit is ridiculous, as it doesn’t appear to be spacious enough to accommodate a pilot.

iranian-fake-jet-2
The air intakes are tiny, the wing doesn’t look like any airfoil NACA would bless with its stamp of approval, even on a bad day. There is no engine on board, either. The skin of the aircraft also looks funny, with plenty of imperfections on all surfaces. It also features huge, fixed canards and a tiny nose, way too small to accommodate a decent radar. It looks like something straight out of a video game and we would love to meet the poor coder who is supposed to develop its fly-by-wire software.

However, in spite of everything, plenty of journalists and anti-globalist conspiracy kooks fell for it, in what can only be described as a stunning display of gullibility. Some even went on to say that Iran already has a functioning prototype, since they couldn’t tell the difference between a tiny RC model shown in a state TV video and a 5th generation fighter jet. Apparently the sound of a screeching turbofan dubbed over the footage was enough to fool them.

Iran has a long tradition of rolling out vaporware and countless paper projects. Iranian spinners often talk about fancy defence projects, including indigenous tanks, missiles and superfast torpedoes. Most of them never get built in any significant numbers, so Iran’s defence projects are a bit like Google’s Nexus gear. In this case, it’s more of a paper mache affair than a paper project.

On a related note, last month Iran announced that it managed to send a monkey into space and bring it back safely to the earth. However, western observers now claim there is no evidence that the suborbital flight was successful. Iran released some press photos of the monkey, but on closer inspection it turned out that the images show two different animals. One of them apparently bought the farm.

Surface RT faces high return rates, low sell-through

surface-rtMicrosoft’s Surface RT tablet rollout came and went without much fanfare. Although Redmond’s first crack at the tablet market received relatively positive reviews, consumers seem unfazed and many of them are choosing to trade in their new tablets.

IHS iSuppli estimates that channel shipments totaled about 1.25 million units, but far fewer have been sold. In fact, as little as 680,000 to 750,000 units appear to have actually been sold.

Channel must be emission transparent or risk losing customers

earthcropIf big vendors and other large firms don’t become transparent about their energy usage and carbon emissions, they may start losing contracts with ecologically minded companies, according to sustainability data reporting site Ecodesk.

Ecodesk named CA Technologies, Eurostar, ISS, Compass Group, PepsiCo, Mitie, and GlaxoSmithkline as examples of companies that are now measuring and posting data on sustainability – thanks in part to mandatory legislation, as well as part of risk mnagement for investors, and CSR initiatives.

By doing this, not only are they more ecologically sound, they are also making cost savings. As a result, they are extending sustainability programs to the supply chain – where there are also ost savings to be made.

Ecodesk’s CEO, Robert Clarke, said in a statement that the channel is a big player in energy use and carbon emissions. When margins are consistently squeezed, it’s important to stand up and listen to customers – or risk losing contracts. “Any business that can measure and report will find its own cost benefits and be able to trade on progress to boost business relationships and viability,” Clarke said.

According to Ecodesk’s data, just half already have calculated or intend to calculate energy and carbon emissions for customers over the next 12 months. Although 17 percent pointed out this would not be a possibility for various reasons, such as company policy or privacy, the rest out of the 1,300 sample did not commit or weren’t sure where to go.

Mobile shopping apps only four percent of e-commerce revenue

smartphone-shoppingIn spite of the unprecedented smartphone boom, shoppers are apparently still reluctant when it comes to e-commerce apps.

According to a report compiled by Research2Guidance.com,  the vast majority of mobile shops made less than 5 percent of their total e-commerce revenue via the mobile channel.

Roman Abramovich buys big chunk of phone company

Roman AbramovichRussian magnate Roman Abramovich has plunged £70 million into phone company Truphone, giving him a 23.3 percent stake of the company.

Abramovich is the owner of Chelsea football club and is said to be worth over £8 billion.

Abramovich used his investment cmpany Minden, to take the stake.  The investment means that Truphone will take on 500 more staff over the next 18 months, with many jobs in the UK.

The British company was founded by Hames Tagg.  The technology lets you use a SIM card to access local voice, data and text services and at local rates in the 220 countries it covers, with local rates available here, in the USA, and Australia.

Truphone intends to open businesses in Hong Kong, Spain, Poland, Germany, and the Netherlands this year.

Samsung eats into Apple’s tablets

Samsung HQ in CaliforniaResearch firm IDC has released a set of figures showing that Apple’s dominance in the tablet market has started to slide.

But Samsung effectively doubled its market share in the last quarter of 2012, according to IDC. The Galaxy tablets sold nearly eight million units representing a market share of 2.2 million.

Apple, on the other hand, has seen its market share slip from 51.7 percent to 43.6 percent, although it sold more units.

IDC said that the last quarter of 2012 saw worldwide sales of tablets rise to 52.5 million units, a rise of 75 percent.

It’s not a direct correlation, but PC shipments fell in the last quarter of 2012. But even though Microsoft introduced the Surface tablet towards the end of last year, it only sold 900,000 units.  The price of the Surface is hurting sales, IDC believes.

Cost and pressure of uni work placements could put students off

bbc 330Work placements at degree stage help prepare  IT students for full time work, yet the cost and pressure of finding them can put many off, a work experience professional has said.

The comments follow a survey of 320 graduates from CWJobs, which found that those who had completed a placement year had been better prepared to enter the world of work when they had finished their degree.

A quarter of those asked said they had completed a placement while studying for their degrees. Of these, 81 percent said they felt the experience had helped them when it came to their IT career.

Just under half of students who had not completed a placement year admitted that they did not feel that just having a degree better placed them for the world of work.

According to recruitment firm Experis, and IT jobs site CWJobs.com, which jointly conducted the research, employers often look for students who had completed relevant work experience.

However, they pointed out that of the 2,048 computing courses offered in the UK, only 470 offer a placement year.

According to a work experience expert,  many students who don’t have the option of a sandwich course will fail to find a placement during their time at university.

“At university level things change slightly from school age where it is down to each borough to place a 16 year old in a work experience placement”, she told ChannelEye. “At degree level, it’s no longer down to the government to place students, which in some ways, considering the tuition fee hike is unfair.

“It means that on top of their workload students are put under pressure- with probably minimal help from their tutors, to find placements to accompany their course. There may be companies who are signed up with the course but the competition is rife.”

There are financial costs involved too.

An article in the Guardian last year suggested that some universities can charge up to around £4,500 for sandwich years, while businesses are also reluctant to become a part of this scheme as they don’t have the time to supervise these students.

“Placements are very important, but for some, the time and effort associated with these put students off and, as we’ve seen from this research could prove detrimental in the future,” the work experience expert added.

Meanwhile, the Chartered Institute for IT announced that it is launching a teacher training scholarship aimed at creating the next generation of computer science teachers.

The organisation wants secondary schools to “have outstanding computer science teachers” and it hopes the scholarships will help towards achieving this.

The scheme also aims to help students receive a good grounding in computer science education so they are suitably equipped for progression into further education and a professional career.

A Department for Education spokesperson said: “We need to bring computational thinking into our schools. Having Computer Science in the EBacc (English Baccalaureate) will have a big impact on schools over the next decade.

“It will mean millions of children learning to write computer code so they are active creators and controllers of technology instead of just being passive users. It will be great for education, great for the economy, and will help restore the spirit of Alan Turing and make Britain a world leader again.”

Fifty scholarships per year, each worth £20,000, will be awarded for those engaged in an initial teacher training course, with the funding supplied by the Department for Education.

The scheme will also be backed by the likes of Microsoft, Google, IBM, BT, Facebook, Meta Switch Networks and Ocado.

Brother sticks cash into marketing

broombroomBrigitte labels everything, even her labels. And her post-its. Reminiscent of the Fast Show’s office clown dipped in a large and sticky vat of social anxiety, Brigitte has turned her obsessive compulsive disorder into a way to cheer up the office.

 

 

 

Actually, printing company Brother UK found Brigitte somewhere in a £1.5 million marketing kitty, and it hopes her feverish habit will enourage companies to spend more on its labelling machines. Following a TV campaign last year, Brother UK boasted that label printer sales rose 52 percent.

There’s an opportunity to win a holiday to Mexico – by answering the question at the end of the video – as well as a concerted effort to build online advertising and social media engagement, Brother says.

“Our intention is to shake up the labeling market with innovative and surprising marketing activity that clearly communicates product benefits, but with a sense of humour,” James Lawton-Hill, head of marketing, said.

YouTube user Peepingbotham said: “Keep making clips using attractive women and I’ll (as well as lots of other people) will keep watching, and maybe even even buy a label printer. ATTRACTIVE women, though. Not the one with the tattoos.”

Another added: “She seems very immature to be in management, but very cute, quite like to have seen a full length shot of her, I assume she has OCD, nevertheless adorable!”

A spokesperson for Brother UK told ChannelEye that the video, concept, script and strategy were put together by Manchester-based Code Computerlove, while the film was produced and directed by Chief Productions. “We’ve had a great response to the video so far and a large number of entrants to the competition,” the spokesperson said.

 

Undercover report shows shops shift Samsung, Samsung, Samsung

wifepresRetailers and salespeople in the UK prefer to recommend Samsung devices over other brands because they get a better commission off the sale, an analyst outfit claims.

Researchers from Informa Telecoms and Media went undercover to a variety of large British retailers and found that salespeople were recommending Samsung’s Galaxy S3 and Note 2 more than other devices.

Informa’s Julian Jest said that, despite the fact that Apple, Nokia and HTC had released newer handsets, the sales people were not even mentioning them to customers.

One store showed off the Galaxy SIII and the Galaxy Note II, despite having been on the market longer than the latest handsets from Apple, Nokia and HTC.

Apple would be gutted as it had spent a fortune on an in-store campaign at some of these stores and it still could not get sales people to recommend its iPhone 5.

The researchers visited John Lewis, Everything Everywhere, O2, 3, Maplins, PC World, Carphone Warehouse and Phones 4U. The mystery shoppers scored manufacturers based on whether they were advertised in the store window or in-store. They then asked a sales assistant to recommend three smartphones or tablets.

While Apple and Samsung were just as likely to be promoted by advertising in the store or the shop window, sales assistants were far more likely to recommend Samsung.

Informa said in a statement it was “likely that sales assistants see the Samsung devices as a safe bet to earn greater commissions”.

Speaking to Channel EYE  Jest said  Samsung devices have been extremely well received by the consumer market, so sales assistants naturally assumed that the Mystery Shopper would likewise be satisfied with a Samsung product.

Dell: we’re serious about enterprise

haas330Dell CEO Michael Dell, so the rumours go, notoriously hates his company being referred to as a box-shifter.

While speculation about him personally taking the company off the market to exert more control increases, European bigwigs here at Dell’s Technology Camp, Amsterdam, took to the stage promising a packed room of analysts and reporters that Dell is on an aggressive push into enterprise, but that it is very much established there already.

Dell believes it will find opportunity in a world plagued with recession, and heavy hitters such as Marius Haas, president for Dell Enterprise Solutions, are fighting the company’s corner.

Opening the presentation was Aongus Hegarty, president, Dell EMEA. He insisted that Dell’s position is as an established software company, and that its many recent acquisitions – recently herded into one umbrella group as Dell Software, are paying off. Recurring themes from all the speakers were the company’s broad intellectual property and a vast stockpile of patents, swelling with each acquisition.

Crucially, Aongus pointed out that Dell is unique to the competition. Showing a slide that presented the company in a very favourable light within the enterprise, his statement was backed up by HP veteran Marius Haas. Haas said that over the last 10 or so years, people have been mostly thinking about performance and value – but the trend has shifted onto how also to provide operational efficiency across the board.

Haas pointed out that systems can be expensive to maintain, and flagged the Itanium as an example. Although these systems can provide some operational efficiencies, costs are there because they don’t provide the full package, according to Haas. Even with cheaper Chinese vendors (naming no names), though capital costs may be at bargain prices, operational costs can be higher because there are other factors to think in – and they still must be maintained. This is where Dell differs, he said.

Scalability is another key point. Being able to deliver services from the SMBs to enterprise level means more opportunity and flexibility. Haas mentioned an initiative by the British government to store all data from every study in a digital format: this leads on to conversations from high computational requirements through to what is possible with tape storage, or the cheapest options to protect and keep that data.

Although there has been a slow down in business spending, Dell fully expects the second half of this year to pick up. We will have to wait and see. What is clear, is that Dell is serious about further entrenching its brand as an enterprise company and its execs were quite convincing. Can a further shift away from shaky consumer territory be on the cards?

David Atherton assumes a new position

dabs01Serial entrepreneur David Atherton – the brains behind dabs.com which he subsequently sold to BT for a heap of dosh – has a new position, it has emerged.

David is now a consultant at Suzanna’s Pub and Restaurant. We think it’s this one, but we’re not entirely sure.

As part of his iconic career, David once confided to me in a pub close to the Register’s then HQ in East Mayfair that he, like myself, was subject to a Jesuitic regime when he was a kid.

His legacy at DABS is not over.  Just a few days ago, at the Beehive pub in Crawford Street, just off Baker Street, we snapped a branded bag bearing the logo.

Qualcomm raises 2013 outlook

snap dragon Qualcomm has posted  strong quarterly results for the beginning of 2013, which have led to the company raising its revenue and earnings predictions for the upcoming year.

The chip company said saw its net income grow by 36 percent for the first quarter fiscal 2013,  hitting $1.91 billion, while revenues totalled $6.02 billion, up 29 percent year-over-year.

Qualcomm chief exec Paul Jacobs put the results down to a “growing global demand for smartphones” and the company’s portfolio of 3G and 4G LTE processors.

He added that the company’s broad licensing partnerships and “extensive chipset roadmap”, including its new Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 and 600 processors, had also attributed to the growth.

Revenue from licensing fees grew by 20 percent to $1.82 billion, while equipment and services sales rose by 33 percent, generating the company $4.2 billion.

As a result of the stronger than anticipated results, the company said that it is adjusting its full year outlook from a previous revenue prediction of $23.4 billion to $24.4 billion.

Qualcomm also made some announcements regarding its senior level staff.

In a separate statement Qualcomm said that it would be saying goodbye to CFO William Keitel, who it retiring after 11 years at the post.

Keitel, who will step down on 11 March, will be replaced with George S. Davis, who is currently executive vice president and chief financial officer of Applied Materials.