Progress Distribution wants London tech incubator

13196_0Progress Distribution will launch an emerging technology incubator in London, once it has completed an investment deal.

Progress is a specialist security VAD peddling TrapX, Ironscales and Cybereason in the UK.

It is believed that the distributor is close to agreeing funding of between £2m and £2.5m with a secret investor worth around £130 million.

Progress founder John Quinn said that once the cheque clears, the company will buy a 10,000 sq ft building in London to house emerging tech vendors as they enter the UK, with the rest of the investment being used to fund two acquisitions.

Quinn claimed that the standard distribution model was broken. If you speak to the vendors they all want something different because gone are the days when you want distributors for banking and finance, logistics, tax – all the sort of things that come from standard distribution services.

“The problem with standard distribution, or the broadliners, is they don’t really have the ability to create demand. Tech incubation is the future of VAD,” Quinn said.

CCS Media is aiming to hit £250 million revenue within five years by expanding its headcount, investing in staff development, and building its services business.

CCS Media planning expansion

willy-wonka-violet-blow-upCCS Media is planning to add another five academies across the UK by 2022, on top of its existing two, which would raise headcount from 400 to 1,000.

The Chesterfield-based firm is investing in two services and solutions centres in the north and south of the UK. These will provide managed services, as well as advanced technology services for devices and infrastructure.

CCS Media’s deputy managing director James Hardy said that instead of building legacy managed and professional services business the rest of the industry it can work from the ground up.

It has £5 million services business already with 5,000 transactional customers every month and only 10 percent buying services. This allows the company to build some robust value with customers.

Ultimately the plan is to get a quarter of the customer base which is happening relatively quickly.

This will help ensure CCS Media has the management bandwidth to continue growing its transactional reseller business as it pushes into services, he said.

Gemalto teams up with Enfuce in Nordic alliance

Screen-Shot-2017-03-11-at-6.59.36-PMDigital security Gemalto has signed a deal with the Finnish-based financial services provider Enfuce.

The idea is to offer enterprises a rapid and cost-efficient deployment of convenient and strong customer authentication using mobile devices.

Enfuce has launched its cloud-based ‘authentication as a service’ solution, designed to make it simple for financial institutions, retailers and fintechs to secure their mobile applications.

It is built on Gemalto’s Mobile Protector Software Development Kit (SDK) and Confirm Authentication Server (CAS).  Users can decide to be authenticated for the transactions using a PIN code, fingerprint or facial recognition,

Using its Mobile Protector SDK, Enfuce’s customers can deploy secured mobile applications in a matter of weeks, helping them to comply with PSD2 banking regulations.

Gemalto Mobile Protector SDK provides Enfuce’s customers with APIs, needed to embed security into their mobile applications, without requiring developers to master security principles.

Initially targeting the Nordics, where it has already been sold, Enfuce plans to extend the service across Europe.

Enfuce CEO for Monika Liikamaa said: “The introduction of this ground-breaking ‘authentication as a service’ solution reflects our commitment to enable profound changes in the payment industry. By combining our extensive knowledge of the financial sector with Gemalto’s authentication capabilities, we can offer a ‘plug and play’ service that leaves clients free to focus on core activities.”

Sky is the limit on Ingram Micro cloud

grandpa_simpson_yelling_at_cloudIngram Micro is expanding the automated services it can provide resellers to encourage more to sell cloud services

The idea is to encourage more partners to get involved with the hosted services market.

The improvements to the services follow changes to Ingram Micro’s Odin platform, which is now offering automated processes to reduce the complexity of providing hosted services. Odin was the Norse god of wisdom, who unfortunately was also one eyed and prone to hanging to get the sort of information he needed.

Ingram Micro is offering two options with its Automation Premium and Essentials packages. The first level combining automated processes with data analytics to help resellers keep an eye on what’s happening with their customers.

The essentials option gives the partner the chance to automate the purchasing, provisioning and reselling of cloud technology.

The distributor has launched a cloud referral programme and is generating pre-negotiation distribution agreements with pricing to speed things up for the channel.

Apay Obang-Oyway, director cloud & software, UK&I at Ingram Micro, said that all the expectations were for more spending around cloud and resellers needed to be supported in their efforts to capture some of that revenue.

With enterprises now saying that their cloud and hosting budgets are likely to grow more than their general IT spend in 2017, this is an opportune moment for partner organisations to grow a cloud business that can address their needs, he said.

Goldman Sachs invests in Information Builders

12845_Goldman-Sachs-logoBusiness intelligence, analytics, data integrity, and integration solutions provider, Information Builders has just cashed a growth equity cheque from Goldman Sachs’ Private Capital Investing group.

The money will be spent extending Information Builders’ position in the large and growing market for BI solutions.

Gerald Cohen, president and CEO of Information Builders said: “We are extremely pleased to have Goldman Sachs as an investor. Their investment in Information Builders affirms the value of our world-class technology and services, and reinforces our efforts for growth moving forward.”

The Private Capital Investing group is Goldman Sachs’ investment platform dedicated to providing junior capital to growth and middle market companies throughout North America.

The group is co-headed by Michael McGinn, managing director at Goldman Sachs, who will be joining the board as part of the investment. Also participating in the financing is Bregal Sagemount, a firm with an established track record of software investing.

Stephen Kerns, vice president in Goldman Sachs’ Private Capital Investing group said that Goldman Sachs is pleased to contribute to Information Builders’ continued growth and innovation in the business intelligence industry.

“Information Builders has a long history of market leadership and customer-focused solutions, as demonstrated by its very strong reputation and impressive customer base. We look forward to working with Information Builders to further position the company for long-term growth.”

Scottish ZoneFox partners with Distology


maxresdefaultEdinburgh-based cybersecurity outfit ZoneFox has teamed up  with distributor Distology in a bid to grow its UK channel.

ZoneFox makes user behavioural analytics gear which monitors the movements of an organisation’s users by mapping out their day-to-day behaviour. This means it can recognise when a user is carrying activity that they usually would not and may or may not have been replaced by a hacker or an alien.

CEO and founder James Graves has gone on record saying that it wanted to launch the vendor into the UK channel using a two-tier model. Now it seems stage one of the cunning plan involves Stockport-based Distology.

It wanted to appoint 15 partners by the end of the year and channel manager Howard Freeman revealed the figure is now at eight.

He said the channel was interested in the product and there were a few that wanted to team up.

Distology is not signing a reseller contract, it will just be transacting business and working with ZoneFox.

The eight partners are boutique security specialists, ranging from between 15 and 100 employees.

Distology gives ZoneFox a distributor that can package its solution alongside its other vendors. It distributes Osirium, Portnox and Okta.

Security vendors are happy about WannaCry

drama-masksSecurity companies have seen their share prices rise sharply amid expected increase in spending on IT security after the WannaCry hack

The ransomware attack that disrupted the NHS and businesses around the world has led to a boom in share prices of cybersecurity companies – even the firm used by the health service to protect it against hackers.

Governments and companies expected to increase spending on IT security after being caught out by the attack, cybersecurity firms have seen their stock market values climb sharply over the past two days.

Sophos, a cloud network security specialist which counts the NHS among its clients, have jumped by about eight percent. Of course, it had to make a few changes. The claim on the company’s website that “the NHS is totally protected with Sophos” was changed to “Sophos understands the security needs of the NHS”.

Last week, the company tweeted its “top five tips for securing NHS organisations”. But its shares have been performing well over recent months because of the increased need for cyber defences.

NCC group added five percent to its share valuation and cyber consultancy group ECSC surged 42 percent. ISE, a fund invested in cybersecurity businesses, added nearly four percent.

All this is because corporates have suddenly woken up to the fact that they need to spend some cash on IT security and it is probably a daft idea to keep all those Windows XP machines running for the great unwashed while top execs get Microsoft Surfaces.

Sophos already gives services to the healthcare industry and is looking to increase selling to the sector in the aftermath of the attack.

FireEye’s prices have risen seven percent, Symantec up more than three per cent and Palo Alto Networks 2.7 percent.

The success of the WannaCry hack could make other attacks more likely in the future amid doubts over governments’ ability to secure “cyberweapons” from theft.

Amazon, Microsoft and Google need channel help

R-9020249-1473392859-8701.jpegBeancounters at Canalys say that AWS, Microsoft and Google need the channel as they look to capitalise on the “next phase” of cloud adoption.

The analyst outfit said that AWS, Microsoft and Google grew their cloud infrastructure revenues by 43 percent, 93 percent and 74 percent respectively in Q1, as the overall market rose by 42 percent to $11.4 billion.

Canalys principal analyst Matthew Ball said that the three have worked out that building an indirect business will be the only way to maintain that order of growth.

“We’re seeing the next phase of cloud adoption beyond the big marquee projects like Netflix and Snapchat. The cloud providers are now looking at corporate and mid-market accounts, and for that they need greater reach and scale, and that’s where the role of the channel comes in.

“So we are seeing a lot of the big cloud providers, AWS and Google in particular – those that haven’t come from an enterprise IT background – starting to mature their partner programmes and channel engagements. They are looking to focus on that more because they recognise that the channel has those relationships with customers. So we believe that the channel will be a part of their go-to-market strategies going forward, especially if they want to maintain their high levels of growth each quarter and year.”

Canalys said that AWS’ Q1 cloud infrastructure sales were more than $3.5bn, but the market leader’s success need not be at the cost of the channel as the rise of cloud has in some cases expanded the role played by resellers.

“The channel has made good business selling datacentre infrastructure in the past, and we believe they still will do going forward. Cloud is another choice for customers in terms of how they operate their IT environments and, for sure, it’s a concern for channel partners. But we’ve seen some partners being affected by cloud and others changing their business model to develop consultancy or professional services to help their customers define a cloud environment.”

Channel needs to focus on business lines

Creative-colorful-lines-business-template-vector-01As power moves away from the traditional IT department, the channel needs to focus on business lines.

In a report, CompTIA said that not only are lines of business buying technology but ideas about investments are coming from a wider source of participants.

The industry lobby group found that 45 percent said that ideas were coming from outside the IT department and more than half used business unit budget to pay for technology purchases last year.

More than a quarter (27 percent) of final decisions about which projects and investments get sign off are made by somebody other than the IT department.

The power is shifting to those working in finance, marketing, sales and logistics forcing resellers to have multiple contacts at any single customer.

Carolyn April, senior director, industry analysis, CompTIA said that CIOs and information technology (IT) teams remain involved in the process, as their expertise and experience is valued. But business lines are flexing their muscles. It’s another strong signal that technology has shifted from a supporting function for business to a strategic asset.

Lines of business money is going towards cloud based investments that are quick to spin up and can often be paid for in small instalments on a company credit card.

The advice from CompTIA is to recognise the changes and approach the sales pitch from a slightly different direction.

“Partners need to speak the language of business because this new generation of buyers doesn’t want to hear about the technical implications of their purchases. Channel partners need to position themselves as consultants and service providers who can help customers make informed decisions about what they buy,” April said.

“The amount of green-field, untapped space for business is huge. But lines of business have little knowledge or interaction with the channel. It’s incumbent on the channel to get their faces in front of line of business leaders,” she added.

Microsoft assimilates 15 resellers to its collective

The BorgMicrosoft has added 15 UK resellers to its new Surface Hub partner programme.

The Surface Hub was launched in Europe with just 20 specialist AV partners, but in February Microsoft opened up the device to its entire partner base through The Surface Hub Distributors Programme for Opportunity Resellers (VAD-OR).

Danielle Crayton, senior product marketing manager at Microsoft UK, said that the Surface Hub “ecosystem” is growing daily and Microsoft’s partners play an essential role in that growth by helping organisations implement new, innovative workplace collaboration strategies and communicate with colleagues across geographies.

“Surface Hub is a new breed of collaboration tool designed to unlock the power of any group and their ideas in real time. This ultimately leads to better solutions and results, regardless of whether teams are in the same room or spread across the globe.”

Microsoft said its Surface Hub customer base has increased globally from 500 customers last July to 2,000 now.

One of the partners was the IT outsourcing giant Capita. Managing director of Capita’s smart buildings divisions Paul Morris said Capita’s cunning plan was to bring users’ experience into the 21st century and embrace the developing role of multimedia technology to support and enable all employees.

“We offer customised audio-visual systems that encompass and deliver seamless collaboration, maximise content delivery and increase productivity within any environment. Surface Hub is a key part of our offering to clients, and we are very proud to have been awarded Authorised Device Reseller (ADR) status.”

Other partners are eBECS, Electrosonic, GV MultiMedia and Pro AV which are now Surface Hub ADRs, while a further 10 partners have been recruited through the VAD-OR programme with distributor Maverick.

Another regulator peeks under Redcentric’s bonnet

article-2633954-1E09DB5F00000578-344_634x445The Financial Conduct Authority is investigating Redcentric’s accounting mess which was made public last autumn.

For those who came in late the firm admitted to overstating assets and understating net debts. The outfit announced that it made multi-year number crunching errors that saw net assets exaggerated by £20.8 million and net debt closer to £42 million.  The company had previously said that it only had £30 milion in debt.

The CFO quit after the revelation and Redcentric hired Deloitte and law firm Navarro to complete a “forensic review” of the finances. It changed its billing and credit control management systems, and the continued restructure of the accounting department.

Now it appears that the FCA has “commenced an investigation following the historic overstatement of net assets and profits” and Redcentric said it would “co-operate fully” with the investigation.

This is the second snuffing around the hindquarters by a watchdog that Redcentric has had to undergo. Its  accountant PWC is being investigated by the Financial Reporting Council.




Entatech MD creates a phoenix

 The MD of the failed Entatech Dave Stevinson has created a new brand which he claims will raise an extra £1 million for creditors of fallen distributor

Stevinson has borrowed £1 million and bought some Entatech assets from the administrator KPMG. Not only does that mean that creditors will get some cash, it will also save 29 jobs.

Entatech entered administration last Monday after it failed to sell itself in a ‘pre-pack’ deal to Beta. It had been seeking a trade deal for several months amid a deepening credit crunch.

Stevinson said he and his family have acquired a new firm, GNR Technology, which has bought some of Entatech’s assets, namely the stock and some fixtures and fittings, as well as goodwill that gives it access to customer contracts.

GNR stands for ‘greatest net return’, reflecting the distributor’s mission of maximising the return for its vendor creditors.

The new company will manage the channel inventory of our vendors, as opposed to seeing the stock purchased by an inventory auction house.

Stevinson said GNR would be funded by a blend of personal funding and new funding secured from Aldermore Bank.

He said the new company would be a narrow-line distributor, focusing on the UK market. We expect to hold onto the key vendors.

Plantronics settles with Headset Solutions

f667f7102af7412ec2bbe6fc07e67a78Plantronics has announced it has reached an out-of-court settlement with dealer Headset Solutions.

The move is part of a battle that Plantronics was having with grey wear and is the second time the Plantronics has made a trade mark infringement claim against Headset Solutions. The headset vendor said the settlement related to the sale of non-EU Plantronics products that it claimed infringed EU trade mark laws.

Headset Solutions have been settled with legally binding undertakings being given and payment of an undisclosed sum to Plantronics.

Paul Dunne, UK & Ireland country manager at Plantronics, said: “We want to make it clear to those who deal in unauthorised Plantronics goods that we will continue our robust stance on illegal product and that we remain committed to our channel community.”

In February, Plantronics settled with Manchester firm PMC Telecom and last year the headset player settled with James Products and Corporate Direct (Europe) and Incom Telecommunications.

PC sales continue to dip but value increases

pc-sales-slumpWhile the number of PCs sold continues to fall the value of those sold has increased, according to figures from Context.

According to Context, the desktop market has been consistently pants over recent quarters with the consumer end of the business in the doldrums. The only positive signs comes from the enterprise market.

This has meant that volumes continue to decline but price rises caused by currency fluctuations and part shortages have meant that the revenues have increased.

Figures from Context covering PC sales across Western Europe in the first quarter found that year-on-year the volume of sales was down by 2.4 percent but revenues were up by 8.3 percent.

Most hardware manufacturers have been forced to put their prices up to try and cover costs, thanks to the falling pound. But higher end products have proved popular with powerful notebooks doing well in the enterprise space.

Marie-Christine Pygott, senior analyst at Context said that revenue growth was driven by a significant rise in distributors’ average sell prices for the quarter.”

“Across the entire Western European region, average selling prices were up by 11 percent to €553 compared to Q1 2016. Across just the eurozone countries, ASPs for the quarter rose 7.3 percent to €535,” she said.

One of the drivers of investment has been the high-profile ransomware attack on the NHS, which was caused essentially because of the use of out-of-date Windows XP machines.

VMware buys Apteligent

cloud (264 x 264)VMware has written a cheque for  Apteligent, a provider of mobile application performance and monitoring technology, and plans to shove it under the bonnet of VMware’s cloud and end user management products.

Apteligent arrives with shedloads of intellectual property related to how applications operate in mobile environments which VMware wants to use to make manageability across the cloud and end-user computing more intelligent.

Apteligent automatically captures and interprets application data to provide user insights and information to help provide mobile business performance. It takes real-time event data from user flows in an application, tracks key metrics, and uses mobile ecosystem data points to help customers improve the applications.

Last year VMware acquired Arkin, a startup developer of software that lets organisations keep track of networking traffic flows and security issues in virtualised and physical environments. That technology became VMware’s vRealize network Insight, or vRN