VR will be a bit hit in education and healthcare

Abraham-discovers-virtual-reality--128960The people of the divination division at beancounters Canalys have been shuffling their tarot decks and concluded that virtual reality headsets will be a hit in verticals such as healthcare and education.

Canalys said the emerging device category has just racked up its first million-unit quarter and shipments reached seven figures for the first time in the third quarter.

This was due to a price war among leading players such as Oculus and Sony which saw consumers start to buy.

Canalys analyst and auger Jason Low said that VR headsets are set for “strong uptake” in the business market from next year as new A-brand PC entrants supporting Microsoft’s Windows Mixed Reality platform begin to push their products through the channel.

“VR in business can be applied to many industries, such as manufacturing, healthcare and education,” said Low. “As top-tier PC vendors, including HP, Lenovo, Acer, Asus and Dell launch their own VR headsets, using their distribution channel efficiencies, one can expect a strong VR uptake in business.”

Canalys’s definition of VR excludes simple viewers, such as Samsung’s Gear VR and Google’s Daydream View. Oculus – one of three players alongside Sony and HTC which together account for 86 percent of the market according to Canalys – recently slashed the price of its Rift headsets to $399.

Barracuda hooked by Thoma Bravo

Barracuda-1Security outfit Barracuda Networks has been acquired by equity men Thoma Bravo in a deal worth $1.6 billion.

Barracuda CEO BJ Jenkins said: “We believe the proposed transaction offers an opportunity for us to accelerate our growth with our industry-leading security platform that’s purpose-built for highly distributed, diverse cloud and hybrid environments.”Thoma Bravo has an excellent history of investing in growing security businesses, and this transaction speaks to the value and strength of Barracuda’s security platform, which helps customers protect and manage their networks, applications, and data.

“We will continue Barracuda’s tradition of delivering easy-to-use, full-featured solutions that can be deployed in the way that makes sense for our customers.”

The transaction is expected to close before the end of Barracuda’s fiscal year on 28 February.

Barracuda was expected to be bought because of its relatively low share price, and because it has been bought by a private equity buyer its product portfolio will be left alone and  diluted into the portfolio of a security rival

NHS looking for a cybersecurity partner

CONurse.OriginalUKquadposterAfter the WannaCry disaster, the NHS wants a cybersecurity partner to create a security operations centre (SOC), in a deal set to be worth £20 million.

A contract notice, published by NHS Digital shows plans to select a “strategic partner” that will develop and support the SOC for three years.

In a statement, NHS Digital said the agreement would provide “enhanced monitoring of national services” and also bolster the NHS’ ethical hacking capabilities.

Dan Taylor, head of the digital security centre at NHS Digital, said: “The partnership will provide access to extra specialist resources during peak periods and enable the team which would proactively monitor the web for security threats and emerging vulnerabilities.

“It will also allow us to improve our current capabilities in ethical hacking, vulnerability testing and the forensic analysis of malicious software, and will improve our ability to anticipate future vulnerabilities while supporting health and care in remediating current known threats.

“By creating a national, near-real-time monitoring and alerting service that covers the whole health and care system, the SOC will drive economies of scale, giving health and care organisations additional intelligence and support services that they might not otherwise be able to access.”

NHS Digital will invite five or six suppliers to tender for the contract, with the deadline for suppliers to express interest set for 20 December.

NHS Digital expects to invite potential suppliers to tender on 15 January next year.

The NHS had a rough time after the network was taken down by the WannaCry virus which was blamed on the outdated and unsupported operating systems used by NHS organisations.

Symantec jumps on Amazon

amazonAnti-virus outfit Symantec has said it will move the “vast majority” of its cloud workload to Amazon Web Services (AWS).

It is making a “major operational move” to AWS, a month after moving its Norton consumer business to Vole’s Azure.

Symantec VP of cloud platform engineering Raj Patel, said: “Our cloud-first approach to engineering requires a highly scalable and reliable infrastructure that helps our team deliver faster time-to-market and ensures that security remains our top priority.

“AWS’s experience serving some of the most risk-sensitive enterprise customers was an important part of the decision to choose AWS as we execute on our enterprise integrated cyber-defence strategy.”

Symantec said the AWS platform allows it to develop new software and tools at a faster rate.

AWS VP of worldwide commercial sales Mike Clayville said: “By taking advantage of the benefits of deploying their software on AWS, Symantec has been able to accelerate its pace of innovation, gain more profound insights through their company-wide data lake, and use that knowledge to make better-informed business decisions.

“Leading ISVs worldwide are moving core business applications to AWS for greater agility and efficiency, to reduce costs, and to leverage the security, reliability, and global infrastructure we offer.”




McAfee acquires Skyhigh Networks

mcafee-antivirus-plus-screenshot.pngMcAfee is celebrating its liberation from the claws of Chipzilla by writing a cheque for Skyhigh Networks.

Skyhigh Networks is a cloud access security broker (CASB).  For those who don’t know CASB is supposed to be a hot ticket, at least according to Gartner. Oracle, Forcepoint, Cisco and Blue Coat all making CASB acquisitions.

Skyhigh CEO Rajiv Gupta will join McAfee’s leadership team, and its organisational structure will “remain intact”, according to McAfee.

McAfee CEO Chris Young said: “Skyhigh Networks had the foresight five years ago to realise that cybersecurity for cloud environments could not be an impediment to, or afterthought of, cloud adoption.

“It pioneered an entirely new product category called cloud access security broker that analysts describe as one of the fastest-growing areas of information security investments of the last five years – where Skyhigh continues to innovate and lead. Skyhigh’s leadership in cloud security, combined with McAfee’s security portfolio strength, will set the company apart in helping organisations operate freely and securely to reach their full potential.”

McAfee became an independent outfit again eight months ago after Intel span out its security assets to PE house TPG Capital.

Samsung provides smartphones to UK emergency services

fire_brigadeSamsung has inked a deal with the UK’s emergency services to provide smartphones to 250,000 police, paramedics and fire crews.

The UK Home Office is preparing to deploy an upgraded network and phones for use by police, firemen, and ambulances.

Samsung will be supplying its specially designed smartphones from 2018.

Previous disaster phones supported only voice calls, but the new phones support mobile data services, video live streaming, and come with various applications for use by trained professionals.

The company will also supply various accessories for use with the phones.

The South Korean tech giant first showed off the public safety use gear back in June 2015, which are based on public safety LTE standards.

It was last year selected as the vendor to provide South Korea with a boosted emergency services network. In February this year, it showed off live video streaming between handsets and mission control.

The business is part of Samsung’s enterprise mobile portfolio. The firm also collaborated with SK Telecom to redeploy South Korea’s first LTE-R service.

The British Home Office awarded Samsung the three-year contract, which will see the Koreans supply toughened, water-resistant 4G devices to emergency services.

These smartphones will offer both hardware and software features that will support emergency services functions and critical voice services, according to Samsung, including a “push to talk” button.


Huawei punts for Government Cloud Market

illustration: elenabsl/adobe stock

Huawei launched its latest Government Cloud Solution to Western Europe in a bid to get its foot in the door for “smart city” construction.

The solution provides a unified framework to integrate private and public clouds into an open-sourced platform. Cloud providers in Western Europe use this solution to drive city administration innovation and meet government customers’ service needs.

When connected to an Internet of Things (IoT) network, the solution is supposed to improve city operation, administration, and maintenance (OAM). With the support of Big Data technology. Huawei claims it enables real-time command, allows intelligent traffic management, and prevents public safety incidents.

Huawei’s Government Cloud Solution exchanges information between government departments and offers public services to residents. Huawei uses its unique advantages in cloud operating system kernel and hardware to provide solution performance and reliability which “open-sourced versions can never have”.

The solution decouples applications from data, permitting multiple departments to share updated data in real time. This laid a foundation for smart government applications, such as unified planning, proactive protection, real-time command, precise operation, and collaborative administration innovation.

Huawei is committed to providing innovative ICT platform for government customers and promoting the construction of service-oriented governments. Governments and government cloud service providers need stable, collaborative, innovative cloud and Big Data platforms. In the future, these platforms will gradually integrate IT technology with city operating experience.

Government clouds will not only bear government departments’ internal ICT services, but also support digital services of the whole smart city.

Government rumoured to be delaying G-Cloud 10

Ominous Clouds over Dublin CityThe dark satanic rumour mill has manufactured a hell on earth yarn which says that G-Cloud 9 will be extended by 12 months next week, with G-Cloud 10 now delayed until  May 2019.

G-Cloud 9 was supposed to end on 22 May but now the government is mulling over an extension and is expected to confirm it soon.  The question is why and it is believed that framework has suffered since Tony Singleton moved on.

The worry is that there might be “very significant” problems with G-Cloud which will leave suppliers burnt, while many expected an extension they did not expect the full 12 months.

Each time there is a new G-Cloud there are more than 700 new SME suppliers join. Suppliers cannot be added in the middle of an iteration, meaning they have to wait and apply for the next version. New products and services can not be added mid-iteration, meaning these also have to wait for the next incarnation to launch.

Another issue is that this shows that the government’s so-called commitment to technology is inconsistent and not transparent.  Some suppliers are muttering that the government claims it has an industrial strategy where tech SMEs are seen as vital, and yet the Cabinet Office and Crown Commercial Service are deciding internally whether they’re really going to do something which damages the growth of the same sector.

Delays will cause pricing issues for suppliers because prices are locked in when a G-Cloud iteration goes live and can able to be changed when a new iteration launches.

Dell warns about an absence of intelligence

Michael DellOutfits which do not use artificial intelligence or machine learning to help make their business decisions will be in danger of “doing it wrong”.

Plugging Dell EMC’s Ready bundles, Dell warned that businesses need to be using the capabilities and output from AI, or risk making mistakes.

“In the not too distant future, if you are making decisions in your organisation without machine learning, you are probably doing it wrong”, he said.

Dell EMC is launching “Dell EMC Ready”, which bundles together networking, server and storage solutions that are optimised for AI and machine learning-based applications.

The bundles are optimised to allow applications in areas including fraud detection, image processing and financial investment analysis.

Dell EMC is working on the basis that while a number of organisations globally are deploying AI solutions, very few have the infrastructure to effectively manage the systems and the data they churn out.

The Dell EMC Ready range will be available from the vendor directly, and through channel partners, in the first half of 2018.


Qualcomm insists on more cash from Broadcom

the-highwaymanQualcomm is insisting on an extra $10 a share from chipmaker giant Broadcom, before it even looks at the takeover bid.

Qualcomm rejected Broadcom’s $70 a share offer as grossly underestimating the company value, however the mega-merger will go ahead, if Broadcom coughs up more cash.  Word on the street is that if Broadcom offered $80 then Qualcomm might take it more seriously.

Daniel O’Keefe, a fund manager of the $3.1 billion Artisan Global Value Fund, which owns Qualcomm stock, told Bloomberg: “We would be very interested in evaluating an offer that begins with an 8. The board should urge Broadcom to come back with a higher bid.”

Broadcom’s offer came with valuation of $70 per share for Qualcomm. That’s down from its five year high of $81.6 in mid-2014.

However, in more recent years Qualcomm has gone through some turbulence, which has decreased the value of its shares to below $70.

Looming large over the firm is an ongoing legal battle with Apple and regulatory actions around the world, threatening its licensing business, which accounted for $5.1 billion of Qualcomm’s pre-tax profits in its fiscal 2017.

Acquisitions help Claranet’s bottom line

clarinet3Managed services outfit Claranet had a good year thanks to the acquisitions it made just before its financial year ended in June.

The firm has reported a 40 percent increase in revenue – £216.5 million up from £152.5 million from the previous year.

UK acquisitions included application management player Ardenta and security firm Sec-1. There were deals struck in France, Portugal and the Netherlands to bolster the Group operations.

Charles Nasser, founder and CEO of Claranet, said that its growth now gave it the chance to provide more scale and capabilities “that are increasingly relevant to our customers’ journey, allowing us to develop ever stronger relationships. As we continue to expand our portfolio of services, we are also attracting larger customers with a broader range of services.

“This strategy has enabled us to make significant inroads with upcoming technologies and related services in the areas of Public Cloud, DevOps, Security and Big data.”

Nasser also indicated that there would not be a change to its strategy of using acquisition as a means of expanding the business.

“The steps we have taken to grow the business provide the ideal platform from which we can consolidate our position in the market and pursue further growth as the IT services industry continues to evolve and consolidate”, he said.

Claranet CFO Nigel Fairhurst said: “The investments we’ve made over the past few years in our staff, technical expertise and partnerships mean that we’re now capable of competing with some of the biggest players in the industry, and we fully expect to maintain this momentum into the next financial year.”

TheCloud changes its name to Atmoso

grandpa_simpson_yelling_at_cloudFareham-based hosted services outfit TheCloud has chosen to change its name to Atmoso.

The outfit claims the move coincides with a widening of its portfolio and a change of culture.

The firm started in 2010 offering cloud products, including online backup and recovery, hosted desktops and virtual servers. This year it became interested in telephony and PCI-DSS compliance.

Managing director Daniel Crespi said the company felt that its portfolio was branching out in new directions – the voice and contact centre suite, the PCI compliance piece- that what we had was no longer just a ‘cloud’, but more of a connected ‘atmosphere’.  “From that idea of an atmosphere came the new name – Atmoso.”

The change in culture is not just confined to the internal operations of Atmoso but Crespi said would also extend to the way it worked with resellers. The Atmoso name applies to the ‘atmosphere’ that connects the company and its partners, he said.

The firm is planning to establish its cloud products as brands in their own right and is developing a voice suite that once ready will appeal to SMEs and contact centre customers. The firm is also planning some activity on the PCI compliance front.

Channel happy with the budget

nintchdbpict0003399380517His government might be staggering like a Glaswegian who was turned into a zombie on his way home after a seven day bender, but Philip Hammond’s  budget will be broadly welcomed by the Channel.

This is mostly because of the Chancellor’s decision to plough more cash into AI, broadband and 5G and increasing the numbers of computer science teachers.

For those who came in late, Hammond announced he is investing £500 million directly into tech for AI, 5G and full-fibre broadband and is backing it up with more investment into training a further 8,000 computer science teachers.

In his speech, the Chancellor said a tech business was founded in the country every hour, and its ambition was for that to become every half hour.

“So today we invest over £500m in a range of initiatives from Artificial Intelligence, to 5G and full fibre broadband”, said Hammond.

He added that it was also committed to improving the education system, “Computer science is also at the heart of this revolution”.

“So we’ll ensure that every secondary school pupil can study computing, by tripling the number of trained computer science teachers to 12,000″, he said.

KPMG UK, tech sector head Tudor Aw said that commitments to emerging technology such as 5G, AI and data science are to be applauded.

“It is important that core technology businesses are not forgotten in the chase for the next shiny toy. The UK has strengths in ‘old-school’ tech sub-sectors such as software, IT services and semiconductor technology”, he said.

Insight UK IT applications director said that AI was becoming fundamental to an organisations’ business strategy – particularly when it comes to managing changing customer expectations.

Datalogic acquires 20 percent of Research for Innovation

Barracuda-1Automatic data capture and process automation outfit Datalogic, has bought 20 percent of RFID company Research for Innovation (R4i).

R4i specialises in the development of software algorithms that optimise the performance of systems based on RFID technology, particularly in the Ultra High Frequency (UHF) band, which enables one or more objects, whether static or in motion, to be identified, transmitting a univocal identifier to the receiver.

Datalogic claims to be the first company in the global market to have brought automatic data identification to the retail, logistics and industrial spheres. It supplies barcode reading systems, image recognition systems and other technologies that identify objects, including RFID technology, for 45 years.

RFID  and UHF technology is becoming an integral and fundamental part of IOT.  It enables objects that are not intrinsically related and do not have batteries to be visible and locatable.

Datalogic CEO Valentina Volta said: “By acquiring this stake, Datalogic confirms that innovation is the key to its growth and that it intends to maintain its leadership in traditional barcode reading and image recognition technologies and complementary object identification technologies.

“ Following the agreement with R4i, Datalogic is now able to extend the development of solutions to RFID technology, improving its competitive position and increasing its presence in the four major markets.”

She said that RFID technology will make object identification increasingly automatic, univocal and incremental. It represents great opportunities for the growth of our business.

R4i CEO Pietro Carolla said: “The entrance of Datalogic, a world benchmark in the field of identification, R4i will can develop innovative solutions based on the requirements of Datalogic’s international customers operating in the retail, manufacturing, transport & logistics and healthcare spheres”.

Two banned directors back on the job

External-SignTwo banned directors have returned to security reseller Quadsys after their bans expired.

Paul Streeter and Paul Cox hacked a rival’s email account last year, and a judge handed them a suspended jail sentence and banning them from being company directors for a year.

Streeter and Cox resigned as directors of Quadsys last year but were reappointed as of 15 November this year.

Fellow director Alistair Barnard, who received the same sanctions as Streeter and Cox, resigned and is no longer a person of significant control in the company.

The trio and with two other Quadsys employees were found guilty of “obtaining unauthorised access to computer materials with intent to commit an offence” last year, after accessing an email account of rival ITB.

The reseller hired an ex-ITB technician, who arrived at Quadsys with the email passwords, allowing them to view quotes and poach customers.

Some vendors ended their relationship with Quadsys including Sophos, McAfee and Barracuda when the outfit was found out.