Home Office wants help on Amazon public cloud

parliamentThe Home Office is looking for a partner to move one of its systems to Amazon Web Services (AWS).

According to an ad posted on the Government’s Digital Marketplace, the Home Office wants three suppliers to bid for a six month contract to move its Digital Capabilities to the public cloud.

“The HO Digital Capabilities programme deals with a significant amount of data and our current hosting provider has reached its potential… Home Office has determined that the in-house Amazon Web Service platform is the most appropriate location to run these services,” the advert says.

The Home Office wants to solve its migration problems of putting all its digital services on the new platform within the period and with minimal disruption to the live service. It  wants a supplier to provide solutions architects and developers to build the new AWS environment and provide a seamless switch to the new platform.

The closing date for applications is 17 August, with the start date pencilled in for no later than 9 October. The contract can be extended for a further three months if required.

Government is expected to be a big spender looking at AWS, Azure and Google (now that the search engine outfit has announced its UK datacentres).


KCOM fined £900,000

marina-hullA network failure which meant that Hull residents could not dial 999 calls for four hours has cost the outfit responsible £900,000.

KCOM was investigated by Ofcom after residents in the Hull area could not connect 999 calls between around 21:58 on 27 December and 1:43 on the following day.

The supplier provides the phone and broadband network for most of the Hull area, was reprimanded by Ofcom after the regulatory body found “a serious weakness” in the firm’s emergency call services.

Gaucho Rasmussen, Ofcom’s enforcement and investigations director, said: “Ofcom rules mean that people must be able to call the emergency services around the clock.

“Any failure to connect 999 calls is extremely serious. Today’s fine serves as a clear warning to the telecoms industry that it must prioritise access to the emergency services, no matter what the circumstances.”

Storm Eva in 2015 on the day of the incident meant that a BT telephone exchange in York, which connected calls from KCOM’s network to the emergency services through BT, had flooded. KCOM had contingency plans in place, but these relied on the same exchange being operational.

There were more than 74 calls to the emergency services, from 34 telephone numbers which failed to connect through the four-hour period.

Ofcom acknowledged that KCOM had addressed the problem within two hours of discovering it, but said the firm still warranted a fine that “reflects the seriousness of the breach and its impact on public health and safety”.

In a statement sent to CRN KCOM said: “We recognise the critical importance of providing our customers with uninterrupted access to emergency call services and take that responsibility extremely seriously.

“During Storm Eva in 2015 the loss of our 999 service was a result of a single point of failure in another operator’s exchange in York.

“Our emergency call services are managed through long-standing external outsourcing arrangements. In establishing them, we sought to ensure diverse and resilient routing which Ofcom has acknowledged in its findings.

“We’re very sorry this happened and immediately after the incident we ensured steps were taken to remove this network vulnerability.”

White box servers are bucking the industry trend

9100-w_cube-favor-boxes476fe5f55ab9e9fbdd0d91e1da43bb0aWhile the server market is in the doledrums, white box servers are doing really well, according to beancounters at IDC.

The white box server market is growing and the IDC numbers from IDC merely serve to reinforce the point, with the revelation that the ODM Direct group of vendors grew revenue by 41.8 percent in the first quarter to $1.2 billion, accounting for 10.4 percent of the market, at a time when overall server revenues declined by 4.6 percent.

Gartner research director Adrian O’Connell found something similar – while there was a global decline of 4.5 percent in server revenues in the same period, revenues in the “others” category rose 4.4 percent. He wrote that leading server vendors are doing all they can to ensure that service providers don’t continue to shift their server purchases toward ODM suppliers.

“Combined with the significant inroads made by China-based suppliers, we expect to see continuing challenges and downward price pressure across the EMEA server market for some time to come,” he said.

HPE struck a deal with Foxconn to sell white box-like servers to cloud and telco providers three years ago. But CEO Meg Whitman recently admitted that server sales had been affected by declining orders from a single customer – probably Microsoft.

Supermicro is one of the key white box venders. In February, it was believed that Chipzilla was the unnamed customer in a deal for more than 30,000 Supermicro servers for a data centre in Silicon Valley.

Micro datacentres are growing

maxresdefaultThe director and senior boffin at Schneider Electric’s Data Center claims that micro datacentres on the edge of the network are the next big thing.

Victor Avelar said that infrastructure vendors are providing self-contained prefabricated and highly integrated pods that allow small data centres to be deployed quickly, reliably and cost effectively.

The idea can be combined to form the larger IT facilities many organisations require as their needs grow, but who cannot afford the larger up-front costs of building a new traditional, or purpose built data centre.

He cited a new white paper from Schneider Electric with the catchy title of “Cost Benefit Analysis of Edge Micro Data Centre Deployments”. He said that it proves why micro datacentres are best suited to support edge computing over other alternatives such as server rooms and traditional builds.

Small prefabricated and integrated, micro datacentres benefit from scalability, speed of deployment, reliability and fulfil the desire to outsource applications to the cloud or colocation facilities.

Key technology drivers enabling the miniaturisation of datacentres include: compaction of IT equipment—led by ever more powerful and smaller silicon chips, all IT components from processing elements and networking equipment to storage arrays are becoming smaller; hyper convergence – which allows several subsystems, including processor elements, networking technology, disks and solid-state mass storage to be integrated into a single enclosure; and virtualisation which allows a single element to run many different applications simultaneously.

If some of the 200 micro datacentres are geographically located away from the others, network latency might be affected and there may therefore be some instances when the purpose-built approach, with all the IT in the same location may be preferable, Avelar said.


Former Incisive Media boss dies

Dame-Helen-Alexander-300x231Dame Helen Alexander, a former chairman of Incisive Media and the first female president of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), has died following a long battle with cancer. She was 60.

She was chairman of Incisive Media between October 2009 and December 2014 and played a key role in the development of the business.

Dame Alexander held a number of influential business roles during her career including chief executive of The Economist Group between 1997 and 2008, and board roles at Rolls-Royce and Centrica. She also led the CBI between 2009 and 2011 in the wake of the financial crisis.

Throughout her career, Dame Alexander was seen as a trailblazer for women in business. Alongside Sir Philip Hampton, she headed the Hampton Alexander Review, which focused on boosting the role of women in senior business positions.

Among her many roles, Oxford-educated Dame Helen was a non-executive director of PA Group, parent company of the Press Association, and at BT Group and Huawei UK.

 The Economist described her as “self-effacing but a world-class networker”, and said that business had “no better ambassador”.

“Her success owed much to a leadership style that lacked fireworks and did not seek fame, but deserved more recognition, for both its humanity and effectiveness,” the newspaper said in an article on its website.

FireEye denies hack details

wargames-hackerSecurity outfit FireEye has denied that its corporate network was hacked last week after one of its employees had his or hers social media account hacked.

Apparently the employee’s LinkedIn account was seemingly taken over by the hacker, who posted a series of messages claiming they had hacked the victim’s emails and contact lists.

But after a six-day examination FireEye said the hacker’s claims were false, but admitted that three corporate documents were obtained and two customers were compromised through the victim’s personal accounts.

Writing in his bog FireEye’s Steven Booth said: “The attacker did not breach, compromise or access our corporate network, despite multiple failed attempts to do so.

“The victim supports a very small number of customers. Two customer names were identified in the victim’s personal email and disclosed by the attacker. We believe these are the only two customers impacted by this incident.”

Booth added that the employee’s online credentials had been released into the public domain through eight security breaches of third parties in the past, including LinkedIn.

All documents exposed by the hacker in this instance, minus the three referenced above, were already in the public domain, according to the vendor.

Booth added that other documents released by the hacker were manufactured screen grabs that “falsely implied successful access to our corporate network”.

Wireless VR headsets demand to grow

virtual-realityA new report from Juniper Research on Virtual Reality forecasts that wireless VR headsets (smartphone-based and standalone) data consumption will grow by over 650 percent over the next four years.

The new research, Virtual Reality Markets: Hardware, Content & Accessories 2017-2022, found that data consumption will reach over 28,000PB when combined with traffic generated by VR headsets tethered to PCs and consoles, placing significant additional strain on both wired and wireless networks.

VR requires fast data speeds to stream content effectively and, by 2021, the data demand of each VR device is expected to exceed that of 4K, according to Juniper. This will be driven by the need for higher image quality and frame rates, a developing problem as VR becomes more mainstream.

In order to make VR more accessible, the Juniper report recommends bringing network operators and broadband providers into the VR standards conversation now. Juniper argues that the future data demand needs to be taken into account when considering specifications like minimum frame rate and resolution. In addition, technologies which reduce the amount of data processing, like foveated rendering, need to be rolled out and become universal.

The research also found that social VR is on the rise. Facebook and WeChat are currently developing VR platforms and several VR games, most notably Star Trek: Bridge Crew, have social elements. These platforms are designed to bring more users into the VR ecosystem by offering new social interactions.

“VR is currently seen as very isolating,” remarked research author James Moar. “The promise of having new worlds to explore is much more compelling when other people can share the experience, which needs social games and social interfaces, as well as the development of cross-platform standards.”


Avaya nearly out of bankrupcy

companies-that-can-be-hedged-with-cds-are-way-more-likely-to-go-bankruptAvaya will be soon out of bankruptcy according to its former CEO Kevin Kennedy.

Apparently this is all due to a Plan Support Agreement (PSA) with holders of more than 50 percent of its first lien – or highest priority – debt.

Kennedy said the new plan is the result of “extensive negotiations” among Avaya and members of its “Ad Hoc First Lien Group”.

The creditors have agreed to support Avaya’s amended plan – which includes wiping more than $3 billion from Avaya’s debts, and transferring pension plan obligations under the Avaya Pension Plan for Salaried Employees (APPSE) to the US Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC).

The amended plan also pledges to take steps to enable Avaya to emerge from the Chapter 11 process as a public company. It still needs to be cleared by the Court which is likely to happen on 23 August.

Along with the debt holder agreement, Avaya announced that Kennedy is stepping down from the CEO post to be replaced by chief operating officer Jim Chirico as of 1 October. Kennedy will also retire from the board of directors, but will remain an advisor to the firm.

Avaya’s bankruptcy process hit shedloads of resellers and distributors. Avnet was named the firm’s second biggest unsecured creditor, with Avaya owing the distribution giant $8.8 million in unsecured debt.

Other large creditors include big reseller partners such as World Wide Technology which was owed $1.6 million and SHI

Avaya has also today filed its preliminary third quarter 2017 financial results, which expects revenues to fall nine percent year over year to around $802 million  to $804 million, while EBITDA is forecast to come in at $202 million  to $206 million  down from $223 million reported in Q3 of 2016.

Savvius hires Mark Kirwan

AAEAAQAAAAAAAAimAAAAJGM0YzZhZWRhLTA0MjItNGEyMy04YWM2LTg1NDBjOGQ3MDM2MANetworking outfit  Savvius has hired Mark Kirwan to lead UK and European sales out of a new regional headquarters office in London.

Kirwan will report to Patrick Johnston, Savvius Vice President of Worldwide Sales, and help drive the company’s next phase of growth in the network performance monitoring and diagnostics (NPMD) space.

Johnston said that with the introduction of new products like Savvius Spotlight for real-time monitoring and Savvius Insight for remote office visibility, Savvius is actively expanding the company’s reach into new markets through channel partnerships in Europe, North America, and Asia Pacific.

“We’re supporting that growth with new regional offices in strategic locations like London, where we can directly cater to the needs of our current and future customers. Mark brings years of invaluable enterprise networking experience in the UK and Europe to Savvius. Having Mark lead our European sales ensures that customers throughout EMEA will receive comprehensive solutions and responsive customer support from Savvius. We are thrilled to welcome Mark to Savvius, and expect he will grow his team to match the opportunity.”

Kirwan said that he was thrilled to join an industry leader like Savvius and be a part of the high growth market for network visibility.

“As customers look for solutions to help them gain visibility into how their data is impacting performance, user experience and security, there is a clear market demand for the rich experience and product depth that Savvius brings to the industry.”

Kirwan has nearly two decades of experience in network software and hardware sales in the UK and Europe. Prior to joining Savvius, Kirwan was Vice President of Enterprise Sales for Positive Technologies, where he built an enterprise-focused sales team covering the EMEA region. Before Positive Technologies, Kirwan spent more than eleven years at Netscout and its subsidiary, Arbor Networks, where he held positions including Global Account Director for British Telecom and Regional Director for EMEA Sales. Kirwan graduated from the Institute of Technology, Carlow in Ireland, where he received a diploma in Instrumentation Electronics.

Interoute releases cloud-based object storage tech

Ominous Clouds over Dublin CityCloudy Interoute has rolled out a cloud-based storage service based on Cloudian’s HyperStore object storage technology.

The cunning plan is to flog it as part of the Interoute Virtual Data Centre cloud platform, it provides customers with a cut-price fast, reliable and highly durable cloud-based storage for unstructured data, backups.

A company spokesman said that Interoute is offering multiple petabytes of capacity, with further growth planned in accordance with customer demand. The Cloudian deployment is available across the entire Interoute platform with 17 Virtual Data Centre zones globally. Customers have the option to use resilient in-country deployments in Switzerland and Germany.

The geo-location flexibility offered by the Cloudian solution, in combination with the Interoute Enterprise Digital Platform, gives Interoute customers control over data locality and assured performance, enabling them to build regulatory-compliant storage solutions in different territories.

Mark Lewis, EVP Products and Development at Interoute said: “With GDPR looming large in 2018, as well as the rapid adoption of VDC and SaaS platforms, our customers are revisiting the legacy world of physical backup and archiving and demanding a simple, controlled, auditable cloud service,” explained . “So, we’ve created an easily accessed and integrated, cost-effective object storage service to support their digital transformation.”

Jon Toor, chief marketing officer at Cloudian, commented: “With Cloudian, Interoute is offering its customers choice in limitlessly scalable and cost effective storage, on a foundation that is proven in some of the world’s largest unstructured data stores.”

Death spiral of the tablet continues

iTomb-design-offers-mourners-touchscreen-tributes-from-the-grave-Macworld-AustraliaThe death spiral of the “game changing” tablet is continuing and soon there will be very few people wanting to buy one anywhere and resellers would be more likely to successfully flog used bog-roll tubes.

According to IDC, the tablet market continued its “downward spiral” in Q2 this year with worldwide shipments falling 3.4 percent.

The year-on-year decline was caused by tight consumer spending, IDC said. There was even a decline in shipments of detachables in Q2, as consumers wait for flagship launches from Apple and Microsoft.

Detachables had previously been a shining light for the tablet market, which has now been in a state of decline for 11 consecutive quarters.

IDC research director Linn Huang said that the tablet market has essentially become a race to see if the burgeoning detachables category can grow fast enough to offset the long-term erosion of the slate market.

However he has not given up hope yet as new product launches from Microsoft and Apple are generally accompanied by subsequent quarters of inflated shipments.

“The reintroduction of Windows to the ARM platform could help remedy the aforementioned hollowing of the middle of the market, and we expect a proliferation of Chrome OS-based detachables in time for the holidays.”

Despite the market decline, three of the top five tablet vendors saw their quarterly shipments increase year on year.

First-placed Apple, third-placed Huawei and fourth-placed Amazon all saw growth, while second-placed Samsung saw flat growth and Lenovo saw a decline.

Cloudreach gets its paws on Cloudamize

shark_attack_painting-t2 (1)Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure partner Cloudreach have written a cheque for the cloud migration platform Cloudamize.

Cloudreach was acquired by private equity giant Blackstone earlier this year and signalled it was set for aggressive organic and inorganic growth.

Cloudamize automates a lot of processes involved in planning and migrating businesses to the cloud and provides Cloudreach with a tool to develop to automate a lot of these processes and combine the software.

A spokesman said that from an efficiency and a cost perspective it is cheaper to do that than have hundreds of people in a low-cost location.

Cloudamize has built up its own ecosystem of channel partners over its five-year life, which will still have access to the Cloudamize platform.

Cloudreach has also developed its own software internally, which could use the Cloudamize channel in the future.

Cloudamize’s development team is in India and Cloudreach will continue to invest in this part of the business, as well as in Cloudreach’s own software capabilities.

Infosys shops in London and buys some Brilliant Basics

infosysudacityOutsourcing supremo Infosys has written a cheque for Brilliant Basics, a London-based product design and customer experience outfit.

Infosys’ Ravi Kumar S, President & Deputy COO, claims it is all about its commitment to the expansion of a worldwide connected network of Digital Studios.

“These studios are focused on fulfilling the needs of our global clients for end-to-end Digital Transformation solutions required to meet customer demand for next-generation enhanced customer experiences,” he said.

“Adding Brilliant Basics’ design and CX capabilities has already proven to be invaluable, helping Infosys close large deals with a deep blend of skills. Brilliant Basics will connect our clients’ Systems of Record to new systems of engagement.”

Brilliant Basics Founder and CEO, Anand Verma said, perhaps not unexpectedly:  “I am thrilled to be a key part of Infosys, a company I have admired for a long time. Being a key member of the Infosys family allows Brilliant Basics “bb” to enhance and scale the overall offering for our clients. Infosys has a unique vision and approach to partnership and acquisition, which will enable us to closely collaborate on Digital Transformation programs globally.”

Brilliant Basics will enhance the company’s expertise in the financial services, retail and telco sectors across Europe and the Middle East, Verma said.

Global Head of Infosys Scott Sorokin said that the pair had coupled together on numerous Digital Transformation engagements and wins.

The acquisition is expected to close during the second quarter of fiscal 2018, subject to the usual closing conditions.


Arrow falls short on enterprise sales

Archer-Shooting-a-Goose-Arrow--59097Distributor Arrow has seen a double-digit drop in its European enterprise computing sales.

Driven by a 16 percent hike in component sales, the NYSE-listed outfit’s revenues rose eight percent annually to $6.47 billion in the three months ending 1 July 2017.

Q2 net profit hit $100 million, down on the $134 million recorded a year earlier, although adjusted for certain items the figure rose marginally to $160 million.

It was not completely bleak. The company had hit the high end of its quarterly guidance but Arrow’s Enterprise Computing Solutions (ECS) arm’s sales continue to head south, falling six percent to $2 billion globally. Its operating profit fell by two percent.

In Europe, ECS’ sales slumped by 10.9 percent to $720.3 million. In local currencies, European ECS sales fell 7.3 percent to $641.7 million.

Arrow CEO Michael Long said: “Our industry-leading infrastructure software and cloud portfolio produced strong growth again this quarter, but were offset by declines in legacy hardware.”

Singleton signs up for Advice Cloud

YLGTGI1IFormer G-cloud boss Tony Singleton, OBE, has signed up to public sector procurement outfit Advice Cloud as a strategic advisor.

Singleton was the chap who oversaw the launch of the Government’s Digital Marketplace and was G-Cloud director for a two-year period to March 2016.

He took up a COO role in the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy but has left the public service and headed into consultancy.

His Advice Cloud work involves helping SME suppliers gain access to government organisations and working with Advice Cloud gives him the opportunity to work with those suppliers, helping them to make the most of the opportunities open to them.

Advice Cloud managing director Chris Farthing said: “I am incredibly excited and humbled to have a person of Tony’s calibre join the team. He will bring an unrivalled wealth of experience and knowledge to us here as well as assisting us and our ambitious SME clients deliver better public services.”

Perhaps Farthing could have been slightly more effusive.