Sapphire has appointed Micro-P as its latest tier on UK distributor. Micro-P is a leading B2B distributor and Sapphire hopes it will help it broaden channel reach in Britain, create more market demand and generate more revenue, naturally.
Writing in his bog, Cyril Belikoff, director, Surface marketing, said Microsoft was launching what he called the “first phase” of expansion into the business channel.
It will allow customers to purchase Surface and commercial services through a small number of authorised resellers.
There is also a new ISV program, called AppsForSurface, which provides devices and funding for app design intended to get key enterprise apps on Surface and Window 8.
While there is no news yet about what Microsoft’s plans are in other parts of the world, it is starting to look like there is a thaw in its plans.
When the Surface came out, Vole’s hardware partners screamed blue murder claiming that Microsoft was treading on its toes.
In response to that Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said that its channel could sell Surface but only if they order it from a Microsoft store or Microsoft.com. There will be no formal channel programme.
Now it seems that Vole is starting to branch out in a small way and test the water and close to home.
The Surface will be going to Microsoft’s bigger US partners first and Vole does not seem to be that keen to have a huge push.
In the United States that means CDW, CompuCom Systems, En Pointe Technologies, Insight Enterprises, Softchoice, Softmart, SHI International, PC Connection, PCM and Zones Inc. are the first Surface authorised resellers.
That is a tiny drop in the market of the US channel.
Microsoft says the initial Surface resellers bring a variety of value-added services to tablet family, such as asset tagging, custom imaging, kitting, onsite service and support, device recycling and data protection.
In other words, Microsoft really does need the channel to push its surface but it wants to do it without isolating its hardware chums.
The virtualisation and cloud infrastructure company hired Dave O’Callaghan as senior vice president of Global Channels and Alliances.
It is hoped that in his new role O’Callaghan will lead the vision and strategy for VMware partners globally across all routes to market, including service providers, distributors, OEMs, system integrators and outsourcers, and independent software vendors.
His CV boasts positions in the tech industry spanning 30 years and includes positions in senior sales and indirect sales roles at Cisco Systems, Hitachi Data Systems and Memorex Telex.
Most recently, in 2011, O’Callaghan founded and led his own consulting firm specialising in go-to-market strategies for high-tech manufacturers, distributors and solution providers. Prior to this, O’Callaghan served as vice president of worldwide commercial sales at Cisco, where he led sales, strategy and programs of the midmarket and SMB segments.
During his 12 years at Cisco, O’Callaghan also held vice president roles in worldwide distribution and regional sales. He said he was “excited” to be helping his new customers “solve their biggest IT infrastructure challenges of today and in the future”.
The announcement follows Mr Jones’ promotion in March 2012 to deputy MD, a role that saw him take responsibility for the company’s 180-strong workforce and £100 million of sales.
Jones has worked his way up through the company, originally joining as a fax machine salesman in 1995, later becoming sales & marketing director.
Commenting on the appointment, Mr Jones said he was “thrilled” to be given the responsibility to lead Brother in the UK as MD.
“Having joined the business back in the early 1990s with little leadership or business management experience, my journey really underlines Brother’s commitment to investing in people and backing talent – a culture that I’m determined to continue building during my tenure,” he added.
Mr Jones, 45, lives in Warrington with his wife and two teenage children. He is a regular speaker and blogger on leadership, innovation and personal growth and a keen road cyclist, it is claimed.
The virtualisation and cloud management software company claims that the new platform, with a new multi-tenant cost model capability, will help deliver IT-as-a-service (ITaaS) with support for multi-hypervisor environments, as well as help customers make the right economic decisions for their virtualised data centres.
Whilst the channel has done a great job of helping their customers to virtualise their IT environments, some customers have traditionally found it difficult to cut through the tough-talking and hyperbole from Microsoft and VMware about which vendor offers the most cost-effective hypervisors.
The new cloud management platform is said to change this offering easy-to-use rapid provisioning, self-service, service catalogues, IT costing and charge back, workflow automation, resource optimisation and lifecycle management capabilities and will now also give users a cost comparison functionality.
Embotics V-Commander is also said to help users integrate Hyper-V into their data centre environment for rationalisation via reclamation, optimisation and workload migration through multi-hypervisor adoption. Apparently data centres can implement Embotics V-Commander and accelerate cloud maturity without simultaneously accelerating costs or complexity.
Embotics V-Commander return on investment (ROI) is gained later through automation and the standardising of services for the best fit.
Additionally, by examining the historical view of the environment and how it grows, Embotics V-Commander can retrofit the environment to achieve ROI. It can also identify waste and help recycle, migrate and reclaim that waste on the Microsoft Hyper-V platform.
Online shoppers are not just killing main street, they seem to be taking creating a lot of demand for oversized commercial storage units suitable for logistics and delivery outfits. In other words, small warehouses are going out of style, fast.
Property Magazine International reports that 25 million square meters of retail space will be needed over the next five years to keep up with e-commerce trends. That is the equivalent of 3,300 football pitches and some developers might end up driving white Bentleys, just like Premiership footballers.
It is estimated that online outfits will also need an additional three million square meters of specially equipped e-fulfilment space over the next five years. Another 22 million square meters is needed to keep retail stores and satellite warehouses stocked.
The growth of e-commerce will also drive further development of so-called dark stores, which is basically a fancy name for huge warehouses where goods are packed and shipped to consumers.
Jones Lang LaSalle executive Paul Betts argued that many retailers have simply outgrown their supply chain infrastructure and they have to work out new logistics models for multi-channel retail.
Yesterday the outfit unveiled vCloud Hybrid Service to investors. Well we say unveiled we really mean that it told the world that was intending to set up a public cloud service. But it caught everyone on the hop because it was only a couple of months ago that VMware’s Pat Gelsinger sounded so dead set against the public cloud.
Speaking at the VMware’s Partner Exchange Conference in Las Vegas, Gelsinger said that VMware needed to own the corporate workload. He said that the company would lose if they end up in commodity public clouds.
With comments like that to suddenly come out and launch your own public cloud seems a little silly. However what Gelsinger appeared to be saying was that he did not want corporate data on other people’s public clouds.
“We want to extend our franchise from the private cloud into the public cloud and uniquely enable our customers with the benefits of both. Own the corporate workload now and forever.”
But Gelsinger’s plans might be a little tricky to pull off.
When it comes to public cloud there is a lot of top notch competition including Amazon, IBM, and HP who don’t take too kindly to strangers in the market. To make matters worse VMware’s offering will not be around until at least the second quarter.
VMware has chucked a bit of money trying to get the idea of the ground. Former Savvis Cloud president, Bill Fathers, will run the vCloud and has said that the idea will get a level of investment appropriate to that priority and to capitalize on a $14 billion market opportunity.
One of the crucial differences about what VMware is offering is that it is the service “hybrid” so that enterprises should see it as part of the VMware’s packages. The software which the vCloud is based on is called Director. It uses an IaaS environment and lets workloads become managed either in the cloud or in the office in the same way.
But all this is being set up because VMware could not interest its partners in building something similar. VMware had a crack at offering similar products through its ISP partners. But these were a little spooked that vCloud implementation would commodise their products. There were mutterings from ISPs who did not want to pay VMware licensing costs when they had cheaper open source alternatives.
VMware has a job on its hands to prove to VMware Certified Professionals that the public cloud is an extension of the data centre while at the same time convincing them that there are some advantages over the “non-cloud” environments they use now.
The public cloud will be aimed at its existing customer base and sold through its existing VAR and SI channel.
However most of VMware’s channel partners don’t have the skills to help their I&O clients transition from static virtualisation to cloud. So somehow VMware is going to have to give its channel the consulting skills and hope they can bluster their way through conversations where real cloud is needed.
Either way the company has a long way to go before it can sit comfortably among other cloud players. It might just pull it off, but it will take a bit of time and a lot of luck.
The managed security and cloud-based computing provider, says its new Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) has been designed for organisations that may need to vary their computing capabilities at a moment’s notice to match the changing needs of their business. Rather than have to invest in an IT infrastructure that may lie redundant when full capacity is not required, they are claimed to be able to use Alvea’s new service to quickly and easily provision additional virtual servers when they need them.
The company says this is is particularly important for project-based businesses, those that operate around seasonal fluctuations in demand or those that may need additional resource for testing or short-term data processing.
A key feature of the new service is its secure data seeding capability, either via encrypted hard disk or high-speed internet transfer, which allows businesses to move their data to the cloud quickly and securely. There is also a simple user interface to give clients instant provisioning of IT security and cloud services with a pay-as-you go model so that IT departments can react quickly to the changing needs of their businesses and only pay for the computing power they use.
The new service has been built around a UK-based data centre to comply with data “sovereignty” and security requirements and is operated by IT security and data centre management specialists.
The service is delivered and supported by a network of IT and security resellers that provide technical support and advice on how Alvea Infrastructure can be integrated into an organisation’s existing IT environment.
To demonstrate the service, Alvea is offering businesses free trials of the service, for a limited period of time, and inviting them to ‘try before you buy’ to test out the flexibility of the new service.
The distie, like many, centres its efforts around education and training for its partners, which it hopes will boost morale and help them sell more products.
And according to Arnet the company is riding the wave of success as a result of a range of initiatives launched over the past year. This includes its enablement training programs, aimed at the SME market, and helped bring in the bucks for the resellers in this sector.
The distie has also launched major programmes including the Microsoft Training Academy and Microsoft Customer Immersion Experience, which it claims are doing so well that they have been over-subscribed and forced the company to lay on more of these events over the next month, while its Symantec and VMware launch and learn events have also paid off.
The company, which said it a statement that it believed “education and training were key enablers for its reseller partners” has now launched two more programs for March.
Veeam Campus is a program claimed to provide training and certification for Veeam products, while Cloud Advance has been created in partnership with UberGlobal and Microsoft to assist resellers in identifying and capitalising on cloud service opportunities.
The distie warned that interest in both new programs was strong already and early registrations were filling quickly.
IM resellers can register for both free programs immediately.
For a number of years now, HP has had a problem in that its direct-selling sales teams have been nicking deals from their channel partners. While this has been good for the company in the short term, it has led some resellers to wonder why they should line up deals, when HP would just nick them from underneath them.
Unsure if it was going to keep its hardware business, HP did not seem that keen to tackle the problem. After all if Leo Apotheker’s plan paid off, then there was little reason to care about hardware partners, as they were going to be dealing with a new business, who would presumably be kinder.
As a result hardware sales dropped, in part because of the lack of morale of HP’s hardware partners. More than 70 percent of HP’s sales are delivered through its channel.
All that changed when the new CEO and president Meg Whitman decided to keep HP’s hardware business. She realised that without a fully functioning channel, the whole business was rubbish.
She ordered the company to develop better rules of engagement for HP’s direct sales team which did not step on the toes of the channel.
Speaking to the recent Global Partner Conference, Whitman said that partners had “literally built” HP’s business over the years, and she warned that any move which took business away from the HP channel and going direct would not be tolerated.
“Everyone in the HP organisation is crystal clear on the behaviour we expect. I am holding myself and the executives accountable for that,” she added.
But that did not mean that HP was going to close down its direct sales operations. Indeed the rules that Whiteman has been pushing forward might be hard to implement.
Her view was there are accounts that HP will take direct, but there must be “no mystery” in the process, and that partners who have done months of work on a deal will be paid even if transacted by HP.
The agreement basically makes a few pledges. Partners are not restricted from selling to anyone but the bigger accounts still have to involve an HP field rep.
HP has promised to leave the midmarket to the channel which which is a significant change.
The company’s opportunity registration policies are being used to govern behaviour. If HP accepts a partner’s registration, the company will not sell direct on that opportunity.
HP has set up a “value express pricing” programme, where HP channel partners will be rewarded for the value they provide.
It also has promised for there to be mandatory training on the new rules.
While this sounds good, it is hardly tangible. Under what circumstances would HP take a customer away from its channel partner? How much work would have to be done before a partner got paid?
In fact it might also be difficult for HP to fire sales staff that do pinch deals from partners. While they may be breaking HP’s policies, they are not breaking any laws. Sales teams are not famous being open to what they perceive as rivals when they are looking for commissions.
The only way a channel deal can be protected is if they are go for certifications and will use registration. This makes the deal more open, but it also makes it vulnerable to gazumping by HP’s internal teams.
As Jack Mele, vice president of sales at Data Impressions pointed out, it will only work if the Whiteman’s corporate edict trickles down the way it should.
However it is better than nothing, according to Search IT Channel, many in HP’s channel welcomed the change. Craig Sehi, of Sehi Computer Products said that HP’s new “rules of engagement,” were a welcome relief and was sign that HP is listening to its resellers.
But it is clear that HP has a long way to go before it can calm its jittery channel and get them working together.
The comments come as resellers are still seeing bleak sales for these products, with some saying they can’t see a light at the end of the dismal tunnel.
Intel’s slim line babies had been touted as a lighter way to work, however, according to recent research by IDC, the company’s emphasis on its skinny form factor did it no favours as the price tag is still sky high.
However, it seems the stubbornness of the company, and its reluctance to cut prices, have angered resellers.
“Ultrabooks have really been the Titanic of the 21st Century. A disaster, and sinking expense,” one told ChannelEye today.
“It seems to me that whatever Intel does, and however much it throws at this brand, it’s just not going to take off unless it reduces prices for these ranges significantly.
“However what we’ve heard from the company hints that this isn’t going to happen, meaning we’ll once again be left with surplus stock and low margins as a result.”
Others agreed, claiming that the price point was the thorn in Intel’s side.
“Ultrabooks still aren’t doing as well as we would have liked. No one wants an overpriced laptop at the moment and the slim USP it’s got going on just isn’t attracting consumers,” another reseller told ChannelEye.
“There are cheaper, but bigger laptops that offer similar features that just make purchases more justified.”
Others have also pointed out that although the company could cash in on the upcoming holidays, consumers again would be reluctant to opt for this product with tablets offering a better price point.
“We’re hoping to see a rise in Ultrabook sales as the summer holidays come around, but it’s market. Some families who are going away will be looking for a light device that can keep kids occupied on a plane as well as act as a virtual mag/book.
“Although an Ultrabook would be perfect for this, the reality is the price points will push many to a tablet,” he added.
Google is continuously trying to improve its e-commerce business and its latest acquisition should give it a nudge in the right direction. The search giant bought e-commerce solution provider Channel Intelligence for $125 million in an all-cash deal.
Channel Intelligence is active in 31 countries and it offers a wide range of e-commerce services.
The company has been a partner of Google Shopping for years and the two outfits worked together on Return on Ad Spend (ROAS) and Product Listing Ads (PLA) products. In addition, Channel Intelligence offers a range of free services, including Facebook integration and product search widgets and an e-commerce back end, dubbed Shopping Engine.
Channel Intelligence announced the deal on its website, adding that all of its services will be available for years to come. The company has been around since 1999 and it tracks about 15 percent of all online transactions in the US. It is behind $2 billion in sales through referrals every year.
ICG group announced Wednesday that the transaction should be finalized in the first quarter of 2013. ICG is expected to realize $60.5 million in connection with the transaction.
“Building upon the perseverance and strong foundation laid by CI’s founder Rob Wight, I am extremely proud of the work we accomplished at CI,” said Doug Alexander, CEO of CI and President of ICG. “With the talent and hard work of the entire CI team, we successfully navigated a very complex marketplace, ending a record year that culminated in this very exciting acquisition.”
Wright said he is thrilled to see the recognition of CI’s value. He said the company’s vision was to simplify the online shopping experience and that he is very proud to see the vision executed to such a “great outcome.”
But as the cleaners clean the blood off the court room walls, it is clear that the case will have some impact on the way suppliers do business.
The case centred on the so-called Hurd Agreement, which HP and Oracle negotiated after Mark Hurd left the company and joined Oracle. Oracle felt that the agreement was a statement that the two companies would work together as they did before their spat. Oracle co-President Safra Catz claimed that such a statement was a non-binding “public hug”.
The judge thought that public hugs should be considered legally binding, depending on who was doing the hugging. He pointed out you can’t write down a phrase like “Oracle will continue to offer its product suite on HP platforms … in a manner consistent with that partnership as it existed prior to Oracle’s hiring of Hurd” and hope that no one would take you literally.
“The sentence can only be reasonably interpreted as requiring Oracle to continue offering its product suite on HP’s Itanium platforms,” Kleinberg wrote.
It went without saying Oracle appealed, but other judges also nodded sagely and said that it did not matter what Ellison thought he had signed, the agreement was there in black and white.
While the situation is extraordinary, it could herald a new era of partner agreements.
The case effectively said that any agreement has to be written down carefully and mulled over by the legal team before it is signed. It also says that anything put in writing has to be looked at as if it was chiseled into Egyptian granite for all time.
While this might seem obvious, it clearly was not in Oracle’s mind it has some of the most expensive, er, best, lawyers in the world.
Already analysts are muttering that you will never see another “public hug” deal like this again. Every agreement between suppliers will have a start date and an end date.
This is one of the reason why the channel should be dusting off their legal contracts with their suppliers post haste. Many of them will find that they have signed vague expressions of love and devotion which could get them in hot water.
Some of these contracts are like a pre-nuptial agreement, which are signed when the partners are in love and only reviewed when they are arguing custody over the CD collection.
Software deals in particular can be problematic, which are particularly ripe for a major legal row when something goes wrong for a mutual customer.
Fortunately a lot of lawyers have written in clauses into such for the contracts to be reviewed, or renewed. The problem is that if they are not renegotiated it is possible, as HP did, to stand up and demand it be taken literally.
The Itanium case also proved that trying to get out of a deal with bad grace might also backfire. Oracle really hates having to support Itanium, but if it assigned its worst developers to make sure the porting was stuffed, Ellison could be back in court facing a contempt charge.
Because the court has become involved, Oracle is painted into a corner and must be a dedicated follower of Itanium. Its ability to duck out of the plan is even more restricted than Intel or HP.
No company would ever want their partner to have that much power over their business decisions. So it is probably better to check out what those old contracts look like before you pick a fight with your channel partners.
According to a report compiled by Research2Guidance.com, the vast majority of mobile shops made less than 5 percent of their total e-commerce revenue via the mobile channel.
ChannelEye, (channeleye.co.uk) is edited by industry veteran Mike Magee. The editorial team that launched another channel title this time last year, will upset the apple cart and provide hard hitting news, interviews and pithy comment that reflect the concerns of distributors, resellers and the rest of the community.
“It’s high time that stuffy, old fashioned channel magazines whether online or in print are consigned to the dustbin of history,” Magee said. “The supply chain continues to be essential to deliver vendors’ offerings to end users. We will break the mould and deliver essential information to the key players in the market.”
“This is a fantastic development for IDG” suggests Jonny Busse, head of the IDG Tech Network. “Commercially representing this website will now allow IDGUK a strong presence in this important marketplace with ChannelEye offering a clean and unique style coupled with hard hitting content”
In addition to news, ChannelEye will cover wider matters including reviews, interviews with key players, moves in the industry, product information, gossip, and sparky, solid information. Avoiding re-cycled press releases, ChannelEye will avoid business jargon that only marketers understand, and will deliver gritty and realistic depictions of stuff that matters to the channel.
About Prakasha Publishing Ltd. Prakasha, headed by CEO Mike Magee, already publishes well respected technology title TechEye. Founder of both the Register and the Inquirer, Magee was listed as the 35th most influential person in UK technology by the Daily Telegraph. He can be contacted at email@example.com He brings on board a team of journalists that has close contacts in the channel and the wider IT community.