HE framework has education pounds to spend

classroom-19th-century-1140x684A higher education buying consortium wants suppliers to deliver £50 million worth of networking equipment and services to UK higher education institutions.

The HE Networking – Supply and Services Framework, developed by North Eastern Universities Purchasing Consortium, wants wired and wireless networking equipment tobe acquired through the framework.

The framework will be divided into four Lots: Networking Equipment, worth £22.5 million, £16.5 million worth of Small to Medium Networking Projects, £10.5 millon worth of large networking products, and £500,000 for Networking Consultancy.

No more than 14 suppliers are expected to be invited to bid for a place on each Lot, with no more than nine awarded a spot on each. No suppliers on Lots 1, 2 and 3 will be eligible for the fourth consultancy Lot, to avoid conflicts of interest.

The framework will run for an initial two-year period, with the option of two further 12 month extensions. Contracts are expected to be awarded in February 2018.

Half of companies to outsource security

funny-security-guardNearly half of companies plan to outsource their security opening the way for managed security service providers (MSSPs) according to research from service management software provider SolarWinds .

SolarWinds is a managed service provider (MSP) so the results are not entirely unexpected, but the results come from a survey with 401 UK and US enterprises in a report called ‘The Path to MSSP’.

From its findings, 60 percent of respondents are currently managing all or part of their security internally but of those, 82 percent are likely to outsource in the next year.

Out of those likely to outsource, 42 percent  cited cost and 40 percent performance as the main drivers for this decision. Those who are likely to outsource also make up 49 percent of all the respondents and the report highlights how MSSPs can take advantage of this opportunity.

The difference between MSSPs and managed service providers (MSPs) is that the former meet various criteria in four categories: infrastructure, risk and vulnerability management, data security and identity and access management. The majority of businesses in the report preferred a security specialist to an MSP, with 70 percent agreeing that it would give them ‘more trust in their security capabilities’.

Tim Brown, vice president of security architecture at SolarWinds MSP, said that daily reports of security issues were forcing businesses to examine their protection measures.

“This creates nervousness amongst enterprises and SMEs and greater scrutiny of the IT security measures in place. Where there is market turbulence, there is also opportunity, and the good news for IT service providers is that this has resulted in almost half of all businesses planning to outsource their security needs to specialists”, he said.

“However, IT service providers need to remember that more opportunity inherently means more competition. Providers need to be able to prove their knowledge, capabilities, and available resources to take full advantage.”


Smaller companies suffering from a bad case of Brexits

sick-man-in-bedInsolvency trade body R3 has warned that post referendum inflation and weaker pound have hurt businesses’ bottom lines.

R3 says as data shows prolonged fall in corporate insolvencies seen between 2010 and 2016 appears to now be in reverse.

According to Q3 stats from the Insolvency Service, underlying corporate insolvencies rose 15 per cent between Q2 and Q3, and are also 15 percent higher than this time last year.

Although corporate insolvency data has bounced around in recent quarters, the Q3 stats – which cover England and Wales – are in line with an underlying rise in bankruptcies since the middle of 2016.

R3 said businesses are coming under more strain from rising costs, partly due to factors relating to last June’s referendum.

In a statement, R3 president Adrian Hyde warned that businesses have faced a number of fresh challenges over the last year. Increasing input costs caused by post-referendum inflation increases and a weaker pound, a rising national living wage, the added costs of pensions auto-enrolment, and, for some businesses, rising business rates will have hurt bottom lines.

“Some of these added costs will have been passed on to customers, but reliance on consumer confidence isn’t necessarily a recipe for long-term financial health. Consumers’ ability to absorb price rises is limited, and with spending fuelled by consumer debt, potentially unsustainable. An interest rate rise is just around the corner, too. Although it may be a small one, it may be too big for those businesses and their customers already on the edge.”

Hyde added that R3’s own statistics show the number of businesses with signs of growth have fallen from recent record highs, while the number of businesses with signs of distress are increasing from recent record lows.

Airbitz doing Cashaa’s blockchain security

redstoneblock1Cashaa, the blockchain-based banking platform, has partnered with Airbitz to provide the security for its global financial services.

Cashaa, which aims to provide access to financial services for the billions of unbanked, uses blockchain technology to enable value transfer, without the end user having to come into contact with cryptocurrency themselves. Airbitz integration means, Cashaa has strengthened its service by adding secure, encrypted storage for its network of traders that work behind the scenes.

The partnership will allow the platform to scale out and offer the fastest services on the market to the widest possible audience.

CEO and founder of Cashaa, Kumar Gaurav, said: “Airbitz is one of the most secure and trusted cryptocurrency wallets, which is in line with the ethics and vision of Cashaa, in providing platinum grade service for the people around the world.”

Cashaa is one of the top 100 most influential block chain companies after its service launched earlier this year, it reckons. The platform already beta tested the transfer of fiat money for a flat fee of 1$, disrupting existing business models and signalling a new era of financial freedom.

Cashaa’s platform will be powered by the Cashaa (CAS) token. CAS holders can access premium services, instant loans, obtain a credit score, create smart contracts for trading and participate in the governance mechanism of CAS tokens. 1 billion CAS tokens will be generated with 51 percent (510,000,000) available to the public. The CAS TGE opens on 6 November until 5 December and the pre-sale is running now offering between 60 percent to  100 percent bonus tokens.

Computacenter gets an eight percent boost

whirlwind-computerComputacenter saw its UK bottom line tighten up in Q3 with revenue up eight percent year on year to £33 5million.

Overall the group saw revenue jump 27 percent to £931 million with Germany once again the standout performer.

Revenue in the German business was up 26 percent to £453 million, while France’s sales pogoed 34 percent to £127 million.

Of the UK business, Computacenter said: “Whilst the UK is growing slightly slower than the group , the results in the third quarter clearly demonstrate an improved performance.”

Computacenter announced that the momentum it experienced across the group, particularly in Germany, in the first half of the year has been maintained if not improved during the third quarter of 2017.

“Whilst the fourth quarter is our most difficult comparison to 2016 of any quarter in the year, we remain on track for a record performance. New technologies, digitalisation and our customers’ appetite to invest is as buoyant as we can remember, which is obviously driving our professional services and supply chain services.”

The company warned that its target market’s desire to reduce operating costs, and therefore the cost of running their IT, has intensified which is eroding its contractual services base, thus increasing the need to invest in productivity and innovation to remain competitive. Whatever that means.

Autotask’s owners buy a bit of dis and Datto

DIS-DAT-40Acres-Spackback-Cap_11Vista Equity Partners, the parent company of IT management solutions vendor Autotask, is about to buy Datto.

It is not clear how much it is paying for the outfit but it is expected to complete later this quarter. The deal will cross Datto’s backup and disaster recovery solutions with Autotask’s IT management portfolio.

Both claim it will create ‘significant opportunities’ for the channel, creating a single provider able to meet the needs of MSPs and IT service providers from operations through service delivery – including professional services automation (PSA), backup and disaster recovery, networking continuity, file sync and share, and remote monitoring and management (RMM).

The merged outfit will have 1,300 employees with offices in nine countries, servicing over 500,000 SMBs through their network of partners in 125 countries.

Brian Sheth, co-founder and president of Vista Equity Partners, said: “We’re thrilled to bring together the complementary skills and world-class service of two global market leaders, Autotask and Datto. Over the past three years, we have worked closely with the Autotask team to accelerate growth and expand its Unified Platform. Bringing Autotask together with Datto’s impressive talent and deep expertise in backup and networking solutions will take us to the next level and deliver extraordinary tools and services to MSPs worldwide.”

Mark Cattini, CEO of Autotask, added: “With the powerful combination of the Autotask Unified PSA-RMM platform and Datto’s industry leading business continuity solutions, together we can now deliver unprecedented innovation and unmatched levels of value and service to our customers and partners worldwide.

“This merger marks a natural step in our evolution as we continue to bring more managed service offerings to the channel. We look forward to using our combined scale to do even more to help our customers grow, succeed and increase profitability. We are excited to get going.”

Datto founder and CEO Austin McChord, said: “”This unique combination of talent with a track record of success marks a new chapter that will make an even bigger impact for our Managed Service Provider partners, by delivering an unprecedented set of capabilities for them to serve millions of small businesses in the future.”

They all had something to say, then. Datto founder Austin McChord as CEO and Autotask’s Cattini will acting as a strategic advisor to the board of directors.


AGMA calls for closer monitoring of service and warranty fraud

Greyarticle-1202547-0001C74700000258-888_468x329 market outfit The Alliance for Grey Market and Counterfeit Abatement (AGMA) has warned vendors that they must monitor partners closely for service and warranty fraud

AGMA is a non-profit organisation aiming to stamp out grey market activity. It  claims that the two issues “continue to run rampant” in the technology industry, diminishing vendor revenues by as much as five percent.

The body claims that service abuse can lead to an increase in grey market activity, as well as a decline in customer confidence and company reputation.

AGMA defines services abuse as the use of services and support without proper entitlement or authorisation, while warranty abuse involves a partner providing service on a product that is no longer covered by warranty.

In a statement, it has called on vendors to take a tougher stance on their resellers by implementing watertight contracts and carrying out audits on partners.

“Channel partners play an integral role in the business of tech manufacturing; they are relied upon to help market and deliver products and services to end users. The delegation of these essential activities to a third party necessitates the use of a contract.

“[Vendors] have a right to audit channel partners as they see fit, and they should be exercising it.”

AGMA’s membership comprises industry heavyweights including Microsoft, HPE, HP Inc, Cisco, IBM and Dell EMC – as well as auditing firms including Deloitte, KPMG and PwC.

The body recommends that partners are audited every two years, either at random or by targeting those suspected of malpractice.

AGMA president Sally Nguyen said: “While no contract is ironclad, by covering all your bases in a clear manner, your channel partner contracts will be an instrumental tool in efficiently managing your network of partners.”

UKFast targets more government business.

Downing_Street-Whitehall_-_geograph.org.uk_-_862190UKFast says that it is taking on some well-established competitors as it looks for more government business.

Since its purchase of Secure Information Assurance (S-IA) earlier this year, UKFast has been flat out drawing in public sector cash. The firm claims it has tripled public sector revenues.

This includes a £250,000 deal with the Cabinet Office, a £500,000 deal with software development service CDS and a £266,000 deal with enterprise mobility management provider Nine23.

UKFast CEO Lawrence Jones said the outfit now feels it is a serious challenge to some of the household US names and other public-sector players like UKCloud.

He said that the acquisition of S-IA was timely, and with it comes relationships with organisations including the MoD, Cabinet Office and other high-profile government departments.

“We’re ensuring the government knows there is a better British cloud alternative, more aligned to the needs of the great people of this country”, he effused.

The company has since continued to build on the acquisition of S-IA and had invested in the systems that were needed by health, defence and central government customers.


Cognizant buys Netcentric

Finding-Nemo-Shark-Wallpaper-HDUS IT services outfit Cognizant has snapped up Netcentric in a move to improve its offering in the digital marketing space.

Based in Zurich, Netcentric works in  the UK, the Netherlands and Germany, as well as delivery centres in Spain and Romania.

Netcentric specialises in digital output and has Mercedes-Benz, Allianz and Swisscom as its customers.

Netcentric CEO Elian Kool said: “The rapid growth of our business is driven by clients who understand that flourishing with the new digital economy requires merging marketing and digital concepts powered by more flexible IT that is delivered globally.

“By joining forces with Cognizant, we will be able to integrate marketing, technology, analytics and AI to help clients provide personalised experiences across multiple channels and enable their digital transformation.”

This means that more than 380 digital marketing specialists will join Cognizant’s digital practice through the deal, which is expected to close before the end of the year.

Cognizant works in a host of sectors including communications, finance and retail.

Cognizant has a market capitalisation of around $44 billion.

Gajen Kandiah, president of Cognizant’s digital business arm, said the deal would extend his outfits Adobe Experience Cloud presence for the global brands we serve.

“We continue to expand on the digital marketing and experience skills our clients demand, and round out our ability to deliver these services to the market at scale”, he said.

Cloudjumper announces Competitive Replacement Programme

plammerCloudJumper, a Workspace as a Service (WaaS) platform has announced the CloudJumper Competitive Replacement Programme.

The new programme brings the company’s WaaS platform to partners using competitive platforms such as Amazon Workspaces by offering an easy migration path.

It claims it also offers a better feature set, and lower pricing.

Under the terms of the programme, new and existing partners gain access to the CloudJumper WaaS platform at no charge for the first three months when signing up for a 12-month service agreement.

The programme is designed for IT service providers with client accounts on alternative desktop as a service (DaaS) or WaaS solutions, but who require a more affordable, customised, functional and reliable solution.

With CloudJumper’s cloud-based workspace “solution”, customers gain access to business-class scalable WaaS.

CloudJumper nWorkSpace offers access to more than 2,200 applications and business data within the user’s cloud desktop interface.

Partners also have the ability to select their preferred cloud infrastructure vendor and can customise the service to meet the widest range of business requirements.

CloudJumper chief sales officer Max Pruger said that his outfit’s programme provides the channel with affordable entry into one of the market’s leading WaaS platforms.

“With nWorkSpace, IT service providers can offer a complete office in the cloud containing all of an organization’s mission-critical applications required to conduct business-but without the service limitations and costs of comparable solutions.”



ADVA Optical Networking sees revenue drop

651d40634c7c4346f3f104a1ff612807_XLADVA Optical Networking saw its third quarter revenue drop 22.9 percent from the second quarter to £99 Million.

In the second quarter ADVA made £128.72 in Q2 2017. This marks a decrease of 30.3 percent year-on-year but is about what was expected as the outfit has been doing some serious restructuring. It has also consolidated its product portfolios

ADVA Optical Networking CEO Brian Protiva said that the third quarter was one of the most challenging in the company’s history.

“We had to lower our guidance within a financial quarterly period for the first time since Q2, 2008. Nevertheless, the integration of MRV Communications is progressing very well. We have implemented much of the planned restructuring measures, updated our roadmaps and aligned our product portfolios, development teams and sales focus. All this provides us with a solid basis for a return to growth and profitability in 2018.”

ADVA Optical Networking CFO Uli Dopfer said that the company had also suffered from the drop-in revenues from two major customers during the acquisition process of MRV.

“However, we responded at once and adjusted our cost structure to the current sales level without jeopardizing any activities that are important for our future

In Q4 2017, ADVA Optical Networking expects revenues to range between £102 million and £116 million and anticipates a pro forma operating income of not very much at all.

Blackberry boss under pressure to tart up name

blackberry tartAs Blackberry turned around by shifting from hardware to software its CEO John Chen said he was under pressure to change the company name.

Talking to the assembled throngs at BlackBerry’s fourth security conference in London, Chen said that this shift in strategy has started to gain traction in the market.

“People have asked me to change the name, from BlackBerry to something else. People have asked me to do more advertising [as well], but the thing is our consistency, and our team going out there day after day and getting our message out there, is starting to pay off.

“A year ago, everyone wanted to talk about the next keyboard phones. They wanted to talk about the phones, the speed, the web browsing capability and all these sorts of things which was great – we’re very proud of our heritage.

“We continue to license it to other people who want to build phones, but we really need to get out of the phone business and leave the hardware business, and move onto the software side of the equation.

“The narrative has changed. For BlackBerry to get back on a positive track… it’s very important for [these people] to start talking about the value-add that we provide. I love talking about our heritage, but that only goes so far.”

The vendor’s name will still appear on handsets through licensing deals with hardware firms.

The BlackBerry Motion will ship in the UK early next month and is manufactured by Chinese giant TCL. Chen said he expects the vendor’s hardware revenue to be completely erased next year, with income coming only in the form of royalties paid for its branding.

The move away from hardware, he added, led people to question why he didn’t change the company’s name to better reflect the shift in focus.

“Virtually all the analysts, rightfully so, had written things that were negative”,  he said. “But after three and a half years we really have turned around the perception and the understanding of our company.

The move away from hardware to software has led to a shift in BlackBerry’s go-to-market, with more channel partners needed to deploy the solutions to end users.

The firm has seen its new partner intake rise 75 percent this year compared with 2016.

Chen said that BlackBerry has built out its direct sales teams for highly regulated markets such as financial and government, but that partners predominately serve other verticals.

Lack of Cloud demand is a barrier to partners

grandpa_simpson_yelling_at_cloudCustomers are not demanding cloud services enough in Europe according to market watcher Context

Context’s ChannelWatch Survey of 8,500 resellers said that a lack of customer demand is the biggest barrier for partners when considering whether to offer cloud services.

Nearly half of resellers globally have been preparing to sell cloud services this year, but others are put off by the amount of investment required to get started.  Nearly 35 per cent of respondants branding this the biggest barrier.

Security fears was rated the next biggest blocker – selected by 19 per cent of respondents.

European partners are lagging behind their Japanese and American counterparts when it comes to offering cloud services, Context said. Vendor-branded services to be the preferred entry choice to cloud for partners, thereby mitigating any concerns over security by relying on the vendor’s own solutions.

Adam Simon, global managing director at Context, said: “As demand increases, so will the need for distributors and vendors to train their reseller partners.”

Over half of those surveyed thought back-up to be the biggest cloud opportunity, followed by storage and business applications.

Commtech Eton by Arrow match

Harrow_cricket_team_of_1869_for_the_match_against_EtonAnglo-Irish distributor Commtech has confirmed that it has reached a definitive acquisition agreement to be bought by its rival Arrow.

Commtech founder and CEO Justin Owens said the deal was completed on Friday, remains subject to competition approval, and is set to close in Q4.

Owens said Arrow is a “natural fit” for Commtech, whose largest vendors are Dell-EMC and Pure Storage. It also works with the likes of Rubrik, SonicWall and DataCore.

He said that putting its business in with Arrow will allow it access to Arrow’s wide vendor portfolio, and also to the investments Arrow has made in platforms and cloud.

Founded by Owens in 1997 as a Cisco and Symatec consultancy, 40-employee outfit Commtech moved into trade-only distribution in 2002. It launched a UK office in 2012 and the UK now generates half of its circa €100 million sales.

The Commtech brand will probably be integrated into Arrow next year, Owens said.

Arrow has a heritage of snapping up local VADs and wrote a cheque for security specialist Computerlinks in 2013 and Sphinx in 2010.


InfoArmor partners with SiO4

sdfgdsfgsdfgsdfgInfoArmor, which provides of employee identity protection and cyber intelligence services, has signed a partnership with SiO4 which provides specialist cyber threat intelligence services.

SiO4 will be announcing its new mid-market cyber-security suite SAFE HOUSE – Total Threat Intelligence on October 19, 2017 at the Imperial War Museum in London, U.K.

SAFE HOUSE is a  modular cyber-security service focuse on delivering actionable and targeted threat intelligence.

The outfit claims it provides the ‘who, what, why, when and how’ to defend against present and future cyber-threats. Using the service will give businesses a pre-emptive warning of an imminent breach, meaning they can react before threat actors strike

SiO4 will also brand the SAFE HOUSE solution with “Powered by InfoArmor”.

SiO4 CTO and Founding Partner Andrew Speakmaster said: “Our new SAFE HOUSE – Total Threat Intelligence offering uses the operatively-sourced human intelligence of InfoArmor with our cyber-security services to deliver an industry-agnostic turnkey solution to the U.K. mid-market.

“We chose InfoArmor for their (sic) proven capabilities to deliver high-quality data from their elite team of Dark Web operatives and researchers. There is a huge vacuum globally in the mid-market for threat intelligence and we identified the market potential to fill this void in the UK”

‎ Mike Kirschner, Sr. Vice President of Sales of InfoArmor Advanced Threat Intelligence Unit added: “SiO4 and their SAFE HOUSE solution will allow U.K.-based mid-market companies to mitigate risk and help defend them against global cyber threats. In addition, SiO4 will deliver analysis to customers in assessing their current state of infrastructure in compliancy to ISO 27001 and EU GDPR.”