IBM scores huge outsourcing deal with Lloyds

ibm-officeBiggish Blue has scored a $1.6 billion outsourcing deal with Lloyds Banking Group, but that is not great news for its IT staff.

Under the deal, IBM would pay Lloyds for its data centre assets and in return will charge the bank for ongoing management.

Lloyds plans to move almost 2,000 members of staff to IBM as part of the IT outsourcing deal in the hope that the seven-year deal will save the bank close to $930 million in costs, streamline the business and make its IT services more agile.

Lloyds Trade Union (LTU), which represents around 35,000 members of staff has now found itself “derecognised” by the bank. It fears that once the deal is signed the jobs would be “offshored” over a four-year period and most of the 1,961 positions will be cut.

1,961 staff will be transferred to IBM including permanent staff, contractors, third parties and offshore suppliers. However after four years, only 193 of the staff transferred to IBM will still be working on the LBG contract,” the LTU claimed.

It does sound like a rather old-fashioned outsourcing deal, which while being popular in the 1990s and early part of 2000s fell from favour when the savings proved to be less than expected and off-shore staffing of IT departments less efficient than traditional employees.

Microsoft carries out partner review

Stefan_Lochner_-_Last_Judgement_-_circa_1435Software King of the World, Microsoft, is auditing its partners and sorting out the sheep from the goatees.

Request for proposals (RFPs) were sent out to existing and new distributors last Friday covering much of the software Microsoft puts through distribution especially its full packaged products (FPP), OEM Windows, OEM server and electronic software delivery (ESD) products.

At the moment, Vole uses Tech Data, Ingram, Westcoast, Exertis and Entatech but now it is thought that Microsoft wants its distributors to reflect its recent move into hardware and changes to its business model.

VIP and Ci Distribution have received an invite to bid which could suggest a widening of the distribution channel, or that some big names might be culled.

Ingram and Tech Data recently lost out in a similar review Microsoft completed for its hardware accessories business, which includes mice and keyboards. In that case there were seven distributors were invited to bid for this franchise but only Exertis and Westcoast were successful.

Changtel boss disqualified for 13 years

taxman sheet musicFormer owner
of Changtel Solutions UK Jason Tsai has been barred from being a company director for 13 years after being caught participating an VAT fraud.

Changtel owed millions of pounds to HMRC, after the outfit participated in transactions which related to the fraudulent evasion of VAT between 29 June 2007 and 10 December 2010.

The fraud involved batches of high-value components shipped between companies in different parts of the EU. The fraudsters charge VAT on the sale of the goods but do not pay this back to the relevant governments and then in most cases disappear or shut up shop.

Between 2007 and the close of 2010, ETL was involved in 107 wholesale transactions, 79 of which HMRC claimed were traced back to “defaulting traders”, incurring tax losses of at least £15.6 million.

A further 25 were tracked to defaulting suppliers, via a contra trader, and those defaulting traders incurred tax losses of £5.4m to HMRC.

“Tsai caused or allowed ETL to wrongfully claim input VAT of at least £19.5 million from HM Revenue and Customs in relation to the [fiscal] 2007 to [fiscal] 2010 VAT periods,” the IS document stated.

Changtel was finally wound up in 2015, but before this Changtel sold several assets to Entatech in 2013, another company with links to Tsai. These transactions were disputed by HMRC.

Entatech itself was sold to Stevinson Capital in 2015, which reached a settlement early last year. Tsai is not involved with the business since.

Alphabet invests in Currencycloud

cloudbustAlphabet has written a cheque for a UK startup that provides technology to enable businesses to provide cross-border payments services to its customers.

Currencycloud has received more than $25 million in an investment round in Currencycloud alongside existing investors Notion Capital, Sapphire Ventures, Rakuten and venture capital firm Anthemis Group.

The cash injection, which brings the total raised by Currencycloud to $61 million, will be used to support the company’s global expansion plans, the company said.

Mike Laven, Currencycloud’s chief executive officer said his outfit had just opened in the US and required a lot more development.

Launched in 2012 Currencycloud’s platform allows companies ranging from banks to payments startups to offer international payments services without having to set up complex and costly cross-border infrastructure.

Its clients include Swedish payments business Klarna, Standard Bank Group, Travelex and startups Azimo and Revolut. Around $25 billion has been sent through the company’s infrastructure to more than 200 countries.

Laven said Google was attracted to Currencycloud because it saw it as a company that provided computer developers tools to add cross-border payment functionality to their services.

“Google looked at us as a tool that is used in globalising domestic businesses,” Laven said.

The funding round is a surprise as there had been a noted drop in venture capital investments in UK financial technology startups since Brexit.

HPE gets more Nimble

Funny-Surfing-22Hewlett Packard Enterprise has written a $1 billion in cash cheque to buy Nimble Storage which makes predictive all-flash and hybrid-flash storage systems.

HPE claims it will mean that it can offer a full range of flash storage systems for different customer bands. HPE’s hopes the move will see of rivals from Dell EMC, NetApp and Pure Storage.

IDC reckons the flash storage market topped reached $15 billion in 2016, and will grow to almost $20 billion by 2020 with nearly 17 percent compound annual growth rate.

Nimble’s flash systems are aimed at SMEs and HPE said the acquisition is complementary to its midrange to high-end 3PAR flash storage systems and its affordable MSA products.

Meg Whitman, HPE president and CEO, in a statement that Nimble Storage’s portfolio complements and strengthens HPE’s 3PAR products in the high-growth flash storage market and will help it deliver on its vision of making Hybrid IT simple for our customers.

“This acquisition is exactly aligned with the strategy and capital allocation approach we’ve laid out. We remain focused on high-growth and higher-margin segments of the market.”

HPE wants Nimble’s InfoSight Predictive Analytics platform to be used across its storage products portfolio. That technology helps IT managers detect and resolve IT infrastructure issues, reducing the amount of time spent on support activities.

Combining the HPE and Nimble product portfolios would allow customers to more easily move and replicate data across hybrid flash and all-flash storage to meet IT demands, more easily manage storage volumes and data compaction to reduce capacity costs, and integrate data protection capabilities with data encryption, replication and integration capabilities provided by third-party applications, Whiteman said.

Antonio Neri, executive vice president and general manager of HPE’s Enterprise Group wrote in the company’s bog that Nimble’s entry to midrange predictive flash storage solutions, coupled with InfoSight, its leading predictive analytics technology, will strengthen HPE’s flash storage portfolio by expanding market reach and enabling a transformed, analytics-based customer experience.

Smart home channel opportunities just beginning

28aa8f108e881657229d88bf6ead4af5Beancounters from Gartner think that the UK is just at the start of its adoption of smart home technologies and there could be big opportunities for the channel.

Gartner said that it was still early days and those who had not got a smart home strategy probably have not missed out on much.

Gartner analysts said that of the UK, US and Australia America was ahead in adoption because the concept had been out there longer but there had been some movement here as the technology begins to gain popularity.

The most popular products were home security alarm systems followed by monitoring, energy management and then health and wellness management.

Big G suggested that the secret to pitching smart home products was to concentrate on an overall solution to help the user get more from the technology.

Jessica Ekholm, research director at Gartner said that messaging needed to be focused on the real value proposition that the complete connected home ecosystem provides, encompassing devices, service and experience.

“The emphasis needs to be on how the connected home can helps solve daily tasks rather than just being a novelty collection of devices and apps,” she added. Users liked to be able to manage their various smart functions through a single dashboard and thought that branding was important. More than half saw a value in products being certified.

Citrix partners predict growth this year

1_Citrix-SignMost Citrix channel partners predict 2017 will see more revenue growth than last year.

According to Citrix, more than 88 percent of its polled partners across Northern Europe, including UK and Ireland, Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden where optimistic about revenue growth.

More than 71 percent said they are undergoing some kind of transformation, and 45 per cent were revamping their processes to keep up with industry changes.

Justin Sutton-Parker, Citrix partner director for Northern Europe, said that the IT industry was facing one of the largest periods of change since its inception, with new and innovative technologies disrupting the bigger players and driving increased customer churn.

“Despite this challenge, channel partners are forecasting a year of significant growth, with the cloud earmarked as a driver of such change.”

A third of partners think they will see revenue increases of more than 20 percent year on year thanks to bigger opportunities, and a fifth predict margins will increase as a result of customer demand.

The Cloud will be the primary growth driver, according to 71 percent of respondents, who said it will account for at least 10 percent of revenues.

More than 38 percent of respondents said they think cloud will account for 20 per cent of new business in the coming year. However, cloud drove less than 10 per cent of revenues for 60 percent of partners last year.

Emerging technologies such as AI, Big Data and the IoT may be too immature to experience the same sort of growth as the cloud, the survey found.

Just over half said the IoT is important, but 37 percent don’t believe it will make a difference to their business, and 12 percent won’t be selling IoT gear.

“Partners may be divided when it comes to the potential of emerging technologies such as Big Data and the IoT, but the message is clear when it comes to the delivery of cloud services. The time for action is now, and only by working with the right vendors can partners truly capitalise on this opportunity,” Sutton-Parker said.

Cybersecurity will be one of the leading growth areas for the channel in 2017. Over 90 percent of partners said they fully expect customers to increase spending on cybersecurity in the next year. The motivation behind this is increased governance and regulation, they said.

Apogee buys Danwood

Merge-AheadApogee has written a cheque for fellow print outfit Danwood, claiming their glorious nuptials union will create Europe’s largest independent specialist in managing print.

Apogee made the announcement, confirming it has snapped up Danwood for an undisclosed sum.

In the announcement, Apogee said its board of directors, led by its joint CEOs Jason Colins and Robin Stanton-Gleaves, will continue to manage the group following the deal.

Apogee said Danwood’s presence in the SME, corporate and public sector space in the UK will “significantly enhance” its client base, which currently consists of 10,000 retained customers and 8,000 transactional ones.

Apogee’s Collins said: “This significant acquisition for Apogee provides us with the scale and reach to be a leading player in the European market for managed print services. Danwood has terrific strengths that complement Apogee’s offering and strategy, including a large client base of major corporate businesses, government and public sector organisations, and a strong service network that will increase the group’s coverage and capacity to support its clients across the UK and continental Europe.”

Channel fears more Brexit price rises

are-we-afraid-noThe UK channel fears more price rises after the UK government triggers Article 50 this month.

The UK is expected to go tell the EU it wants out later this month, if it can get approval from the House of Lords.

So far, lots of vendors have jacked up their prices but there are fears that more could be in store for the channel.

Each time there has been a major Brexit development the pound has received a kicking and some are getting prepared for more potential issues with prices.

HP, Dell, Lenovo, Apple and Microsoft have raised hardware prices between 10-15 percent and software prices by 20 percent, but it is likely that there will be more price hikes in the works,

The hard Brexit is coming when the dollar has seen considerable rises and since hardware components are traded in the US currency, this ultimately means price rises.

Many channel partners avoided passing too many price rises by managing stock but that could be impossible if further hikes come through the supply chain.

When Article 50 is triggered and the formal process starts, the channel is at the mercy of the overall economy which means price rises could be spectacular.

Many of the major vendors supplying from the USA face significant pressure for them to recover ground lost by exchange rate changes.

Amazon’s cloud goes down

Amazon-Cloud-OutageAmazon’s cloud partners are tearing out their hair and stamping on their rabbits after the service went offline in the US.

Portions of Amazon Web Services, which is the world’s largest cloud computing company, went offline Tuesday afternoon, affected multiple companies across the United States but especially on the east coast.

The outage appeared to have begun around 12:45 pm ET. It was cantered in AWS’ S3 storage system on the east coast. Many of the services that firms use AWS are for back-end processes, and therefore not immediately visible to consumers, though the outage could disrupt customer-facing activities like logins and payments.

Shedloads of websites crashed and burned including Airbnb, Down Detector, Freshdesk, Pinterest, SendGrid, Snapchat’s Bitmoji, Time, Buffer, Business Insider, Chef, Citrix, CNBC, Codecademy, Coursera, Cracked, Docker, Expedia, Expensify, Giphy, Heroku, Home Chef, iFixit, IFTTT,, Lonely Planet, Mailchimp, Medium, Microsoft’s HockeyApp, News Corp, Quora, Razer, Slack, Sprout Social, Travis CI, Trello, Twilio, Unbounce, the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), and Zendesk.

The dashboard of Amazon Web Services, which tracks the status of the service, is unable to change colour, Amazon said. It is because the status dashboard also runs on the service that is down.

While the spectacular crash might not have effected many European companies, it does make cloud packages where data is sent across the pond look a lot less reliable.  Interest in cloud packages and SAAS is picking up, but huge outages like this make it a harder sale.

Ixia goes all out for the channel


Ixia-Labs-2Network testing and visibility specialist Ixia has decided to look to partners and distributors to help it increase enterprise sales and wants to become 100 percent channel based.

It launched its Xcelerate partner programme a couple of years ago and has worked out that its global partner “ecosystem” was playing a vital role in delivering the innovation, expertise, and excellence enterprise customers want.

CEO of Ixia Bethany Mayer,  said: “Relying 100 percent on channel partners to provide world-class service to enterprise customers reaffirms our confidence in every organization participating in our Channel Xcelerate Partner Programme.”

The firm already has 800 partners on board globally and is on the hunt for more. The vendor works with the Exclusive Group in the UK and is close to sealing a deal with a global distributor shortly.

Gabe Luis, head of enterprise segment and technology partners EMEA at Ixia, said that the decision to go 100% channel was a big deal for the firm and would mean that significant revenues would now be going through partners.

“It shows a commitment to the channel and reassures our distributors and resellers that we are very commited,” he said.

The vendor provides network visibility tools and testing solutions, which it has worked hard to make easier for resellers to pitch to customers.


Watchdog gets companies to agree on fairer cloud

lightning-cloudThe Competition Market Authority (CMA) has got three more large cloud storage providers to agree that users should be given clear and fair terms and conditions

The watchdog has already got an agreement with Dixons Carphone, BT, Dropbox, Google and Mozy to make changes to their contract terms. Now the CMA got the key cloudy types Amazon, Apple and Microsoft to agree.

Taking the pledge means not hiking prices on a whim or making the terms and conditions too complex.

Andrea Coscelli, CMA acting chief executive was pleased that Amazon, Apple and Microsoft had joined their seven rivals and agreeing commitments to improve their terms and conditions.

“Millions of cloud storage users will benefit from fairer terms which will help them make the right choices when using cloud storage services,” he said.

The CMA started a campaign in October last year, writing an open letter to storage cloud providers, and has so far got most of the household names to sign up.

The outfit will monitor firms terms and conditions and expects firms to do the same to ensure they can keep up with the law and make sure conditions are as fair and clear as possible.

“People rely on cloud storage to keep things such as treasured family photos, music, films and important documents safe, so it is important that they are treated fairly and should not be hit by unexpected price rises or changes to storage levels,” added Coscelli.

Gartner sees IaaS getting shedloads of investment

PAY-Lion-King-cloud-MAINGartner is forecasting an uptake in public cloud spending and  IaaS is going to be the main winner.

It looks like resellers that have taken the effort to specialise in infrastructure as a service (IaaS) are going to be laughing all the way to the bank for the next year or so.

Beancounters at Big G say that IaaS as the main area to benefit from a general upswing in customer spending on public cloud services.

They expect worldwide spending on public cloud services to increase by 18 per cent this year, which equates to $246.8 billion.

The IaaS market is expected to grow by 36.8 percent with SaaS not too far behind with a 20.1 percent. The SaaS market is expected to slow a bit quicker because it is further along in the maturity cycle and a lot of customers are already using HR and sales applications in the cloud.

Customer attitudes towards public cloud have improved as firms like Amazon have been successful at promoting the idea of putting data onto their platforms. Sid Nag, research director at Gartner said that while fears about security are still out there but there is also a pressure towards digital transformation strategies and an acceptance from most users that the public cloud will play some role in their future.

“The overall global public cloud market is entering a period of stabilization, with its growth rate peaking at 18% in 2017 and then tapering off over the next few years,” he said .

“While some organizations are still figuring out where cloud actually fits in their overall IT strategy, an effort to cost optimize and bring forth the path to transformation holds strong promise and results for IT outsourcing (ITO) buyers. Gartner predicts that through 2020, cloud adoption strategies will influence more than half of IT outsourcing deals,” he added.

UKFast and Cisco team up with Open University

hqdefault (1)UKFast and Cisco have teamed up with the Open University to tackle the IT skills gap and improve the technical expertise available to Northern employers.

UKFast invited schools across the North West to sign up to take advantage of the support being offered to teachers by the Cisco Net Academy.

UKFast held a launch event last week and has already seen 73 schools sign-up to take advantage of the resources that the networking giant is offering.

UKFast CEO Lawrence Jones said that while everyone was talking about the skills shortage in technology, and there’s no way we can combat that shortage if teachers do not get the tools to deliver cutting-edge digital training.

Technology is evolving so quickly that we need to focus on supporting teachers and keeping them up to speed with the latest developments,” said MBE.

“Just last week a skills audit by Manchester Digital called on employers to engage more closely with education. It’s something we’ve been doing at UKFast for years and we’re seeing amazing results. You can see from the incredible uptake for the scheme from schools and colleges that it’s something they’re crying out for,” he added.

Cisco and UKFast are working with the Open University to deliver the academic programme and there is still a chance for schools to sign up to the programme.

Nuno Guarda, head of corporate affairs for Cisco in the UK & Ireland said it was critical to have strong partners like UKFast and the Open University because they bring amazing value to the curriculum and help deliver it to local schools.

“This has been Cisco’s flagship CSR programme since 1997 and we’re aiming to help everyone, not only IT professionals, become more confident in their use of technology and help them understand how it fits in the world that surrounds them,” Guarda said.



Europeans will lean on tech

european-commissionGood news for the channel as research from Ricoh Europe suggests that companies want to lean more on technology to improve their fortunes.

While the world is feeling rather uncertain at the moment, many feel that the way the work will change in the near future as a result of digital disruption, economic uncertainty and political turbulence.

More than 95 percent of people thought their business would benefit from the changes.

Most people that were asked for their opinions by Ricoh saw technology as the best way of making sure they could improve the fortunes of their business. On the wish list were using IT to improve customer communications, increased productivity and simpler business processes.

The weak point was that most felt that there will be even more of a scramble for skilled staff.

Ricoh Europe CEO David Mills said: “How people relate to, engage and execute their work is fundamentally changing. In the years ahead we’ll see businesses fall into two distinct camps. Firstly, those with strong fundamental processes which empower employees by enabling them to do their best work, adapt and thrive. Secondly, those businesses which shy away from change and unfortunately set their employees up for failure.”

“As the world feels the impact of unprecedented change, business leaders must ask themselves where they see the most beneficial return on bringing more innovative technology into the company. To enable their business to stay focused on its long-term goals, and remain competitive, often the best place to start is with their employees,” he added.

Resellers are being bombarded with advice from vendors to get more involved in the trend.