Welsh civil servants saw off WannaCry

SiluresAs the WannaCry ransomware hit the UK NHS it seems that Welsh hospitals were saved because they did not rely on private enterprise.

In a move that flies in the face of the “private sector fixes everything better” the NHS Wales Informatics Service is public service organisation, which supplies more than 70 software services to users across NHS Wales.

Upon catching wind of the WannaCry attack, a major incident room was set up at the service’s Cardiff office – one of five in Wales – and additional monitoring was ordered across the country.

A spokeswoman from the service said: “At the NHS Wales Informatics Service we constantly provide real-time monitoring of NHS Wales’s digital services and IT systems, all of which are designed to have strong security measures.

“In addition we immediately put in extra security controls and co-ordinated the effort to protect our national and local systems, liaising closely with senior management from across NHS Wales.”

The team blocked all external emails sent to NHS Wales and applying new anti-virus definitions and patches to both national and local systems.

“Where the ransomware has been detected, immediate remedial action has been taken to prevent the spreading of the virus. This has ensured that no patient data has been compromised or lost.”

In the case of the NHS in England and Scotland, the use of connected networks – linking GP surgeries to main hospital infrastructures – meant that the virus could navigate it with relative ease. But there were no reports of the incident impacting on patient care anywhere in Wales.

But the Welsh success is making all the private sector deals in England look a bit weak.

NHS Wales was in fact attacked by the virus but monitoring software and processes identified each attack, allowing the Informatics Service to isolate and kill the virus.

In total, 37 computers were investigated as being suspected of having the virus but only seven were infected with the malware out of 55,000 computers in use across NHS Wales.

The Informatics Service are urging suppliers and partners to ensure that local systems are protected and that staff remain aware of the “on-going need” to protect the IT systems.


Kids discouraged from being IT entrepreneurs

Favim.com-30121A study by Nominet found that only nine percent of parents would like their children to choose a career as a tech entrepreneur, web developer or computer games developer.

Of these parents were more likely to steer boys than girls towards a technology career – 13 percent of parents said they would want their son to pursue a career as a tech entrepreneur or games developer, whereas these roles did not appear at all in the top five roles that parents suggested for girls.

A career as an engineer was the top choice of parents for boys to pursue in the future, whereas a quarter or parents hoped girls would become doctors – and only six percent hoped their daughters would become tech entrepreneurs.

Eleanor Bradley, COO of Nominet, said the UK had the potential to be a hub for tech in the future as it begins to grow its digital economy, but parents needed to encourage their children into technology roles for these efforts to succeed.

“Parents are one of the greatest influences on their children’s future decisions, much more than they perhaps give themselves credit for, and I encourage everyone to help all young people – and especially girls – to consider the possibilities the tech industry has to offer,” said Bradley.

The UK IT industry is suffering from a skills gap, and the government has tried to develop a bigger pipeline of young people with relevant skills by introducing the computing curriculum in 2014, making it compulsory for children between the ages of five and 16 to learn concepts such as computational thinking.

Many parents are beginning to understand the importance of computing skills, with 45 percent in the study thinking computing studies will give children useful skills to have after they leave school.

Only 19 percent of parents think coding skills will be important for future jobs.

Dads are often seen as less of a barrier for girls attempting to pursue a technology career than mums, and the Nominet research found dads are more likely to encourage children to attend tech-based after-school activities in general.

Google cloud glitch forces SQL backups

cloudGoogle’s Cloud SQL service was hit by rather a nasty glitch over the weekend and more than seven percent of clients using the service’s first-generation code were not backing up properly.

Google announced it was “forcing” backups “as short-term mitigation” and was expected to issue a patch today.

The news comes just as Google is announcing the release of its new Cloud Spanner product.

For those who came in late, Cloud Spanner is a horizontally-scalable and strongly consistent relational database, combining the company’s two other DBaaS solutions, NoSQL and RDBMS, offering a wider range of services including ACID transactions and SQL semantics. It’s targeting AWS’s RDS and Microsoft’s SQL Database in the public cloud.

Product manager, Dominic Preuss wrote in his bog that Google had carefully designed Cloud Spanner to meet customer requirements for enterprise databases — including ANSI 2011 SQL support, ACID transactions, 99.999% availability and strong consistency — without compromising latency”.

“As a combined software/hardware solution that includes atomic clocks and GPS receivers across Google’s global network, Cloud Spanner also offers additional accuracy, reliability and performance in the form of a fully-managed cloud database service.”

While traditional databases guarantee transactional consistency, while NoSQL databases offer horizontal scaling and data distribution. The aim for Cloud Spanner is to offer cloud developers both capabilities.

Cloud Spanner is available now via a trio of data integration partners, Alooma, Informatica and Xplenty.

“Cloud Spanner is one of those cloud-based technologies for which businesses have been waiting: With its horizontal scalability and ACID compliance, it’s ideal for those who seek the lower TCO of a fully managed cloud-based service without sacrificing the features of a legacy, on-premises database,” Xplenty said.

Google is offering a free trial of Cloud Spanner so companies can see how it would work for them.

2847 Suppliers get into G-Cloud 9

lightning-cloudThe government is expected to announce that 2847 suppliers have been awarded places on the government’s G-Cloud 9 framework which is set to go live on today.

Suppliers who have been successful should have been told ten days ago, so if the post has not arrived then chances are you have not got in.

G-Cloud 9 is split into three Lots: Cloud Hosting, Cloud Software and Cloud Support. The 2,847 suppliers on the framework compares with the 1,616 firms on G-Cloud 7, and 1,908 on G-Cloud 8.

Suppliers will no longer be able to conduct business through G-Cloud 7 and G-Cloud 8 frameworks from today.

One of the changes in the system is that contracts signed through the framework can last longer than two years for the first time.

There are two optional one-year periods, so a maximum of four years.

Microsoft’s their agreements such as the Enterprise Subscription Agreement are a three-year period so it does allow for enterprise agreements that were previously exclusively online agreements to be done through G-Cloud.

It is also expected that a lot of Microsoft business going through G-Cloud.

The most recent G-Cloud figures on the CCS website show total spending through the framework to date to be just under £1.7bn as of November 2016, 77 per cent of which was spent by central government and the remaining 23 per cent by the wider public sector.

“G-Cloud frameworks are refreshed every six to eight months.

Last year the government announced that the ninth iteration G-Cloud would be built from scratch, but drew criticism from suppliers for not spending enough time researching how the framework should be improved.

Westcon-Comstor finishes back-office overhaul

AAEAAQAAAAAAAAQJAAAAJDNiMGVhY2RiLTZhNzAtNGQ3YS1hYTFiLWQyMjI2MzM1MGUzMwDistributor Westcon-Comstor has said that it has completed its back-office overhaul with outsourcing specialist Genpact.

The scheme, which has seen roles covering 52 countries outsourced to the business process outsourcing (BPO) specialist, started two years ago. Various posts were shifted to Romania in a move which affected almost one in six of its then 1,900 staff in the region.

In 2016 the outsourcing initiative took effect across Westcon-Comstor’s Asia-Pacific operations, with the programme expanded into North America this year. The distributor has not announced how many staff globally were impacted by the process.

At the same time there was a roll-out of a new SAP ERP platform. The software, which took three years to deploy, went live in Europe six months ago. Problems with the roll-out hurt the company badly with a 30 per cent sales decline in Europe.

CEO Dolph Westerbos predicted that the investments in its back-office foundations will serve the company well in the years to come.

What is looming on the horizon for the company is some more uncertainty, as current owner Datatec has been in discussions to sell the distributor since early this year.

Having initially published several stock market updates alluding a deal concerning one part of its business, Datatec revealed a month ago that the talks related to a potential $800m sale of Westcon-Comstor. Suitors including Synnex, Arrow, and have all been linked to a potential buyout, but a transaction is still yet to be agreed.

Comodo hit by billing database woes

komodo-dragonDigital certificate firm Comodo suffered a nasty database problem that affected its billing systems.

As part of its repair work Comodo had to  restore to a nine day old database.  According to an email sent by the company:

”Comodo’s CA licence database is having to be being restored. The initial restore has already taken place and all orders placed before 03-May-2017 12:19:52 UTC are being correctly managed.

“Some orders placed after 03-May-2017 12:19:52 UTC may not be obtainable. We are now working on resolving this. We do understand your situation. We apologise for the inconvenience caused.”

The problems kicked off on Thursday when a digital certificate reseller noted an “unscheduled outage” of of Comodo’s CA (certificate authority) billing service because of database problems.

Comodo has a good track record of minimising unscheduled maintenance but it had problems with its billing systems that are yet to be fully resolved. There were no problems issuing certificates.

What happened was that a database that deals with Comodo’s orders and billing for the certificates and some related services spat out multiple errors and corrupted the database.

The certificates themselves are present in multiple systems, so were not lost. But the company’s ordering and billing system was unavailable for about 20 hours.

Comdo are backfilling the missing data over the next 24 hours, and some customers were unable to self-manage the lifecycle of some recently issued certificates.

AI Eptica gets in on Gartner’s magic roundabout

magic-roundaboutEptica has been included in Gartner “Magic Quadrant for the CRM Customer Engagement Center (CEC)” for the fourth year running.

This is the fourth consecutive year that Eptica has appeared in this Magic Quadrant.

Olivier Njamfa, CEO and co-founder of Eptica said that the digital customer experience market is changing rapidly, driven by the rise of artificial intelligence and increasing consumer demands, and is becoming ever-more central to business success.

“I am therefore very proud that Eptica has retained its position in the Gartner Magic Quadrant for the CRM Customer Engagement Center,” Njamfa said.

According to Gartner, this Magic Quadrant for the CRM Customer Engagement Center examines the global market for customer service and support applications designed to enable customer service and support agents to engage customers through their preferred communication channel.

The functionalities evaluated in this Magic Quadrant include those for knowledge-enabled service resolution, social media/community management and offer management.

Also evaluated are interaction assistance tools and service analytics dashboards. Ideally, the applications should have tools for both agents and customers, and the vendors should have a clear point of view on how to escalate customer support from self-service to human agents and back again, while retaining the context of the interaction for reporting and future customer engagements.

Gartner evaluated vendors on their completeness of vision and ability to pull it off.

Eptica has been pouring cash in to Natural Language Processing (NLP) and linguistics.

“Coupled with our strong, self-learning knowledge management capabilities, this means we are ideally positioned to help brands deliver digital CX across email, chat, social media and self-service, through a single, cloud-based platform, ” Njamfa said.

Windows Server shrinks its footprint  

giantfootprintSoftware King of the World, Microsoft, has shrunk Windows Server’s footprint when you run it in Azure.

The slimmed down version of Windows Server is destined for use in Azure’s Managed Disks. This is a storage option that allows the creation of disks without first creating a storage account and without the need to manually assign a universal resource indicator.

Microsoft offers Managed Disks at 32GB, 64GB, 128GB, 512GB and a terabyte, with the two smallest sizes a recent addition. But it looks like users had trouble squeezing Windows into the little ones, because Microsoft’s now announced it has “added a second set of Windows Server offerings with 30GB OS disks for Windows Server 2008R2, Windows Server 2012, Windows Server 2012R2 and Windows Server 2016”.

Microsoft channel partners can now put it into 32GB Managed Disks and save customers “US$2.18 per VM if you choose to deploy with 32GB Standard Managed OS disk vs. 127GB”.

Windows Server 2012 could be installed onto a 32 GB partition that was an absolute minimum value needed for successful installation. It was providing a  Windows Server Core with IIS and no GUI, which was not very useful.

The new Azure version, though, makes it fit rather well into the tighter partition which makes it an easier sale.

HPE channel boss spills the beans

C--zInpVYAAfVBaThe recently appointed global channel chief at HPE said that he is working out a cunning plan to ensure partners navigate through an era of “digital transformation”.

Denzil Samuels joined HPE from GE Digital. He said that “digital transformation” is an industrial revolution there are lots of technology shifts going on at the edge.

Samuels thinks that HPE has the best plan, portfolio and partner programme to take advantage of the change that is going on in the world.

However, he now wants to take the plan to the next level which means announcing pay at net, which lets HPE partners get the highest level of back-end rebates in the industry. It is also announcing the inclusion and development of competencies.

HPE already has product certifications but now Samuels wants to introduce “competencies”, because knowing how to use the  product portfolio and putting it into an outcome for the customer is the way “to drive success”.

To do that you need to have the competencies, the industrial or vertical know how and the horizontal know how, Samuels said.

HPE had a partner programme which encourages different types of partner categories, different geographies and countries, different verticals, different horizontal solutions and different business models.

Samuels said that one size does not fit all but embraces the dynamic nature of the market but taking the very complicated but making it simple.

HPE is planning a new “solution” to do all that already but it is still on the drawing board. The plan is to do a cautioned roll out of some of it over the next year to 18 months.

He said that HPE did not want to disrupt what is already 70 percent of its business, which comes from the channel.

TechUK and FSB give election candidates their wish-lists

pinocchio-17Lobby group TechUK has brought forward its requests to those hoping to be elected.

It is calling for more of a proactive stance by the next government on digital technology.

TechUK CEO Julian David said that the pace of global digitisation will not slow down and the UK had a choice about whether we want to shape the digital future or be shaped by it.

“The course of the next parliament will see significant technological developments in the way we work and live. It’s crucial that all political parties avoid broad brush and reactionary policy solutions to the complex challenges of the digital age. Politicians must do all they can to cultivate a world-leading tech sector, where a new wave of tech talent can start and scale the next generation of world leading tech companies,” he said.

Resellers want tougher steps to tackle late payers and to make supply chain bullying illegal. Federation of Small Businesses Chairman Mike Cherry has also asked future governments to step up and do something.

He said that there are a series of decisions required by new Government Ministers in their first 100 days in office.

These include export support to tackling our late payments crisis, to co-funding apprenticeships and a new consensus on the future of business rates, to the survival of small businesses.

“Our manifesto sets out what small businesses want to see from all major parties and candidates standing on 8 June. Millions of votes are at stake,” said Cherry.

Excelero gets closer to Micron

dc34c48293d48b194affb44168216351Micron has written a cheque investing in Excelero, the software supplier for its SolidScale all-flash NVME array.

SolidScale has been around since May and is a serious bit of kit with NVME SSDS and an NVMe over Fabrics class access latency, adding one percent to the access latency of a direct-attached NVMe SSD.

It uses Excelero’s NVMesh server SAN software. SolidScale can function as a shared external array block target, made up from from clustered server nodes, or as a virtual SAN in a hyper-converged style configuration.

The investment is a few million, although no one is saying officially how much.

Excelero was founded in 2014 and has had a single £20 million funding round in 2015.

The investment moves Micron closer access to Excelero’s software development, and a better ability to tune its SSD controller software to optimise SSD performance characteristics of the software.

It might help Excelero software to make better use of QLC (4 bits/cell) flash drives.

3D Scanners joins Strathclyde’s Advanced Forming Research Centre

SCANNERS - Italian Poster 3UK Polyworks Software reseller 3D Scanners has signed up to work with Strathclyde University’s Advanced Forming Research Centre.

Polyworks is computer based technology used by manufacturers across the world when designing or analysing products. The Coventry based company is interested in the AFRC’s work in reverse engineering of surfaces.

Dr Lynne O’Hare, chief business development officer at the AFRC said: “The broad scope of the new members reflects the diverse range of activity that the centre is involved in across the UK’s manufacturing sector.

“These relationships will be bilaterally beneficial and I’m really excited about each of the new partnerships. The AFRC helps companies of all shapes and sizes from across the manufacturing sector and these partnerships will boost that capability, expanding our offering as a centre of manufacturing excellence.”

Progress Distribution wants London tech incubator

13196_0Progress Distribution will launch an emerging technology incubator in London, once it has completed an investment deal.

Progress is a specialist security VAD peddling TrapX, Ironscales and Cybereason in the UK.

It is believed that the distributor is close to agreeing funding of between £2m and £2.5m with a secret investor worth around £130 million.

Progress founder John Quinn said that once the cheque clears, the company will buy a 10,000 sq ft building in London to house emerging tech vendors as they enter the UK, with the rest of the investment being used to fund two acquisitions.

Quinn claimed that the standard distribution model was broken. If you speak to the vendors they all want something different because gone are the days when you want distributors for banking and finance, logistics, tax – all the sort of things that come from standard distribution services.

“The problem with standard distribution, or the broadliners, is they don’t really have the ability to create demand. Tech incubation is the future of VAD,” Quinn said.

CCS Media is aiming to hit £250 million revenue within five years by expanding its headcount, investing in staff development, and building its services business.

CCS Media planning expansion

willy-wonka-violet-blow-upCCS Media is planning to add another five academies across the UK by 2022, on top of its existing two, which would raise headcount from 400 to 1,000.

The Chesterfield-based firm is investing in two services and solutions centres in the north and south of the UK. These will provide managed services, as well as advanced technology services for devices and infrastructure.

CCS Media’s deputy managing director James Hardy said that instead of building legacy managed and professional services business the rest of the industry it can work from the ground up.

It has £5 million services business already with 5,000 transactional customers every month and only 10 percent buying services. This allows the company to build some robust value with customers.

Ultimately the plan is to get a quarter of the customer base which is happening relatively quickly.

This will help ensure CCS Media has the management bandwidth to continue growing its transactional reseller business as it pushes into services, he said.

Gemalto teams up with Enfuce in Nordic alliance

Screen-Shot-2017-03-11-at-6.59.36-PMDigital security Gemalto has signed a deal with the Finnish-based financial services provider Enfuce.

The idea is to offer enterprises a rapid and cost-efficient deployment of convenient and strong customer authentication using mobile devices.

Enfuce has launched its cloud-based ‘authentication as a service’ solution, designed to make it simple for financial institutions, retailers and fintechs to secure their mobile applications.

It is built on Gemalto’s Mobile Protector Software Development Kit (SDK) and Confirm Authentication Server (CAS).  Users can decide to be authenticated for the transactions using a PIN code, fingerprint or facial recognition,

Using its Mobile Protector SDK, Enfuce’s customers can deploy secured mobile applications in a matter of weeks, helping them to comply with PSD2 banking regulations.

Gemalto Mobile Protector SDK provides Enfuce’s customers with APIs, needed to embed security into their mobile applications, without requiring developers to master security principles.

Initially targeting the Nordics, where it has already been sold, Enfuce plans to extend the service across Europe.

Enfuce CEO for Monika Liikamaa said: “The introduction of this ground-breaking ‘authentication as a service’ solution reflects our commitment to enable profound changes in the payment industry. By combining our extensive knowledge of the financial sector with Gemalto’s authentication capabilities, we can offer a ‘plug and play’ service that leaves clients free to focus on core activities.”