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.”

 

Ebuyer releases more corporate services

ebuyer-careersOnline retailer Ebuyer.com is releasing more services aimed squarely at the corporate customer.

Dubbed Ebuyer ProServices, it provides corporate customers with managed IT and cloud computing systems and online and telephone consultancy.

The move is part of a cunning plan to chart a growth in demand for business devices with an increasing number of previously well-known online consumer players while bolstering Ebuyer revenues by entering the B2B space.

As well as delivering a range of managed services the firm is also looking to help meet one of the main challenges from customers, around security. The service will deliver protection against malware, DDOS and other malicious attacks.

Ebuyer’s IT Director, Paul Lyons, said that the launch of the latest initiative should appeal to existing customers as well as give the firm the chance to strike some fresh relationships.

“We are excited to launch our new service.  Our team is looking forward to helping new and existing customers increase their organisations productivity and online security with our bespoke systems”, he said.

 

Eaton spruces up its channel programme

publicSchoolboys_e_2963348bPower protection outfit Eaton has been improving its channel partner programme to assist its new data centre strategy.

The power protection players are enjoying decent market conditions as more punters want reliability and local data centres need to be able to function all the time.

Eaton has established a Power Advantage Partner programme, including a fresh portal, online training and a new deal registration facility.

EMEA Eaton IT channel partner manager David Oddie said that in the era of digital; transformation, organisations weremore dependent than ever on their IT systems and infrastructure and the reliability and availability of power is major concern.

“They know that it’s vital to protect themselves from power surges and outages while also keeping their costs under control and reducing their impact on the environment”,  he said.

Eaton depends on partners to deliver our products and adapt them to suit the customer’s environment and needs, Oddie continued.

“This further investment is part of Eaton’s ongoing commitment to ensure partners get the very best support, enablement, guidance and, most importantly, quick and easy access to information and funding.”

Cyber security channel needs to rethink training

old schoolTraditional classroom based training is not going to solve the skills shortage, according to a former director of GCHQ.

Talking to the assembled throngs at the launch of the Digital Cyber Academy, Robert Hannigan said that the industry needs to rethink the way it trains people with traditional approaches failing to deliver the right results as well as turning off the next generation entering the workplace.

Classroom based sessions were  not helping to fill the thousands of empty cyber security posts.

“The best guesstimate is that by 2020 there are going to be one and a half million unfilled cyber skills jobs. That is going to get worse as the other half of the planet comes on line and the Internet of Things connects more and more devices spewing out more data”, he said.

“The enabling security that needs to underpin it is going to be even more challenged”, he added.

While the industry and the government knew that they had to “fix the pipeline” and get more people into training and more of those could come from a non-technical background, GCHQ had problems about the way training was offered, Hannigan said.

“A lot of the cyber security training is fairly old fashioned”, he added. “It is classroom based, it is quite static, and it can fairly often be out of date by the time it’s learnt. We must think differently, particularly for a new generation that learn differently,” he said. Gamification was one of the good ways of engaging with them.” Whatever gamifications means.

 

 

Avnet finishes Tech Data UK integration early

The BorgAvnet will have finished its Tech Data UK integration by the start of November.

For those who came in late, Tech Data closed its Avnet TS buyout in February this year, and thought that the scale of both businesses would mean that full integration could take up to 12 months.

However, Belgium, Iberia and Italy are already integrated and France and the UK should be completed by the beginning of November, the company said.

By the end of this calendar year, approximately two thirds of the business will be fully integrated.

That did not mean that the integration had not been complex, and Avnet is still checking with customers and vendors if things went ok.

The $2.6 billion deal gave the distributor a presence in the APAC region and boosted its employee count to 14,000 employees across 40 countries globally.

Tech Data will phase out its Azlan brand by the end of Q1 2018, citing the results of a brand study, which discovered that no one in Europe could recognise Azlan in a line-up.

“Awareness of Azlan’s reputation was only recognised in only a limited number of countries, mainly the UK and a bit in France. It was not consistent, so our study recommended putting Tech Data at the front as a master brand”,  the company said.

 

HPE shifts away from lower margins

HPEHPE has outlined its plans for its full year 2018, indicating that it will shift its focus away from lower margin business and focus more on high margin solutions and services.

HPE’s lower margin business – particularly its tier one server business – has been blamed for hampering growth.

HPE said it expects to record revenue growth of five percent, but this prediction takes the tier one business out of the equation.

For its full year 2018, HPE said it expects to report “modest” revenue growth, again discounting the troubled tier-one server business.

Speaking at an analysts meeting, HPE CEO Meg Whitman outlined the five-year turnaround plan HPE is in the middle off, insisting that splitting the company into HPE and HP Inc was the right decision.

“I can tell you without a doubt separating the company in two was absolutely the right thing to do for our customers, our partners, our employees and of course our investors. We’ve seen that in the financial markets reactions.

“In 2012 we embarked on a five-year journey to turn this company around and create better value for shareholders, customers and partners.

“The first step was to diagnose the problems and build a solid foundation for a turnaround. 2013 was all about fixing and rebuilding the business. We improved operations, drove better cash flow and repaired our balance sheet

“In FY14 we focused on recover and expansion. We stabilised our revenue trajectory, we reignited innovation across HP and further strengthened our leadership in key areas. Fy15 was about accelerating that progress. We continued to target investments in higher-margin areas and saw the opportunity to accelerate our business in key acquisitions like Aruba.”

Whitman said that HPE is in the process of strengthening through four key factors: Organic investment, in areas such as HPE Synergy; investment in partnerships; acquisitions of the likes of Nimble and SimpliVity; and portfolio optimisation, which saw its services and software business spun out into separate organisations.

“Our partner ecosystem is the best in the industry and absolutely critical to our future. Partnerships our going to be critical and that’s why we launched Pathfinder, our venture investment and partnership programme. We use our expertise to identify the best emerging start-ups and then we curate their innovation within our innovation which helps us deliver cutting-edge solutions to our customers with results they cannot find anywhere else.”

Misco in shock collapse

il_570xN.386643874_phvgMisco’s shock collapse after nearly 30 years has left the industry shocked.

A few years ago Misco had revenues north of £300 million operating profits of over £10 million and over 600 staff. It was still growing when it opened new offices in Weybridge in 2013.

However, four years later, the Misco UK name abruptly vanished from view and a last-minute rescue attempt to keep the business afloat in a reduced form fell through.

Its collapse comes seven months after a new management team, backed by Hilco Capital, bought the UK and European business from long-time parent Systemax.

But the rot had set in before the new team led by Alan Cantwell arrived and it was probably too late to fix what appears to have been management problems.  Especially as its rivals such as Computacenter appear to be doing well.

Its rivals appear to be thinking that the spiralling death of  Misco was an isolated case for the channel.

Misco UK’s operating losses widened to over £8 million in the year before the change in ownership. Systemax simply gave up and sold it. The feeling is that broadline, commodity distribution was dying, no one is making money from it and Misco was tried to reform too late.

Credit insurers began cutting their exposure to Misco and distributors became unwilling to deal with the reseller, with just a few supporting the business until recently.

Misco also received a winding-up petition from HMRC over unpaid VAT, leaving it with no “viable option other than to seek the protection of administration”.