Tag: Cloud

Microsoft: resellers coming around to cloud

clouds3Traditional resellers have been slow in embracing the cloud, with many predicting the technology was “just a hype,” a Microsoft spokesperson has told ChannelEye.

However, according to Clare Barclay, director of SMB at the company, two years later resellers are embracing market changes.

“Traditional resellers are in a competitive market with younger companies evolving far quicker,” she told ChannelEye. “Two years ago they put Cloud down to just a hype and continued with their business as it was. However, they are now changing.”

Microsoft believes cloud has changed the way resellers and the market operates, eliminating the need for cumbersome software and hardware. Savvy SMBs have also set up their business using this technology to make them appear bigger and offer their customers more services.

“Most SMBs have now realised that they need to capitalise on cloud, and offer services that put them in a position with their competitors,” said Barclay.

She also pointed out that Office 365 was enabling the company’s partners to offer more services to their customers.

“Three to four years ago customers were worried about buying into a cloud based model but now this is aggressively growing we’re seeing a number of partner engaging in monthly based subscriptions,” she said.

Microsoft said it is trying to seduce resellers into cloud confidence by offering training and events programmes to outline the benefits.

Businesses not clear on cloud responsibilities

cloud 2Uninformed or ignorant businesses believe that once data is stored on the cloud, companies lose their responsibility for it – although EU law says they are culpable.

Confusion over the cloud is not exactly surprising: currently laws differ depending on where in the world your servers are based and where your company is based. A report from Iron Mountain said this shows, with over three quarters of survey respondents claiming their service provider would likely get more flack than their own firm. But when it comes to storing sensitive data, it is probably worth doing your homework.

Although the evidence points in the other direction, the majority of respondents said their approach was “responsible” and said that they do take due dilligence when picking cloud suppliers. A fifth want cloud only storage for all their data.

Respondents were in the UK, Spain, France, Germany, the Netherlands and Hungary. Cloud is unsurprisingly a popular option. Iron Mountain urged all companies to understand the specific ins and outs of where their data is stored, whether it could be moved, and who has access to it. They should also consider the core IT infrastructure that is being used and if the providers have a rigorous vetting process in place to check for malware. Businesses should think about just how much data they plan to store, should make back ups, and are warned to seek out multiple providers in a tiered approach, using the cloud, tape, and disk storage.

Salesforce puts customer service onto their mobiles

clouds3Salesforce has announced Salesforce Service Cloud Mobile – software that the company claims will boost customer service for any device.

The idea is to manage customers through mobile browsing on touch based devices, on the cloud. Salesforce’s logic is that mobile is not going anywhere any time soon and that engaging with customers on those platforms they will be seen as technologically progressive and able to reach more people. If companies can connect just about everything in the chain, that is, customers, employees, partners and products, Salesforce thinks firms will be able to gain a clear advantage in engagement.

This especially matters, according to Salesforce, when customers are simply expecting a better level of engagement with companies. It is no longer good enough to have an email address that will respond in five business days – a Twitter account is not optional. Salesforce goes so far as to say the days of traditional call centre servicing are “for the era of landlines” – although we suspect the many call centre workers will disagree, not to mention frustrated people customers who require talking to a person who can engage with a level of empathy rather than bound up by software restrictions.

Of course, people will have to staff these services, signalling a switch from traditional customer service to paid-for instant messaging. A question is if that, too, could eventually be mostly automated.

Salesforce’s product offers ‘service cloud mobile chat’, where customers will be able to chat in real time similar to sending an SMS. Cloud touch, meanwhile, will be a way for service staff to interact with customers from tablets and smartphones so they are “no longer tethered to a desk”.

Co-browsing should be out and ready in the second half of 2013, though there’s not a price tag set yet. Mobile Service Cloud Communities is generally available now, and so is Service Cloud mobile chat, provided you’re a Service Cloud Enterprise or Unlimited Edition customer. Service Cloud Touch is out and packaged with all Service Cloud editions.

Google starts to recruit resellers against Amazon Cloud

cloud 2Google and Amazon have been scrapping it out for dominance of the skies, but now it seems that the search engine Zeppelin may be trying to recruit resellers to help out.

According to GigaomGoogle has signed up its first reseller, a company called RightScale, which is offering a “cloud management platform”.

It helps an enterprise automate routine tasks, monitor usage and monthly costs, and control security options.

As a reseller RightScale works with other major providers of Internet-delivered computing power and storage, including Amazon, RackSpace, HP Cloud, and Windows Azure. But its products have always worked with Compute Engine since Google launched the cloud service in June.

What this means is that Google has finally woken up and realised that its enterprise customers not only need someone to sell them the products, but also hold their hands if something goes tits up.
One of the difficulties that Google has had is that the company is so big, that getting information on its products, particularly when something goes wrong, is difficult.

But there are some elements of self-protection here. This partnership announcement comes a week after Amazon launched a new service called OpsWorks, which competes with RightScale. This means that by having resellers Google and the reseller can protect each other from the Amazon juggernaut.

In the long term Google will probably do better than Amazon. It has a lot more experience running Apps on the Cloud, and soon its products will be faster and cheaper but this announcement is a reminder that even super-companies like Google need resellers to get their products out there.
Google is also the new kid on the block and many corporate customers will not be aware that it is out there yet. Having a reseller pushing product is one way of raising the profile.

Phoenix raises Manheim from ashes to cloud

mythical_phoenixUK hosting, cloud, business continuity and managed IT services outfit Phoenix has signed a multi-million pound deal to give automotive specialist Manheim’s IT systems a make-over.

Manheim is one of the world’s largest automotive firms and spends a fortune on IT for its business-to-business products and services.
Phoenix is going to consolidate Manheim’s IT infrastructure, multi-site hosting, backup and replication, management, monitoring and remote and onsite support for its European operations.

In addition Phoenix will provide deskside support, hardware support and warranty management as part of an on-going service.

Under the plan, a dedicated virtual platform will consolidate servers and services at a number of sites throughout the UK into the Phoenix data centre environment.

Jeremy Lewis, CIO from Manheim, said Phoenix had been used as a hosting partner since 1999.
He said that rather than continue with a disjointed approach using multiple sites and providers, Manheim thought it would be better to refreshing its IT environment and transferring it to the Phoenix data centre.

Lewis claimed that the one stop shop cloud approach would be the most cost-effective and efficient route. Since the project has been switched on, the company has found it a lot easier to manage.
Manheim said that the project allowed for 11 of its desktop support staff to transfer to Phoenix.

Nick Dean, Managed Services & Hosting Director at Phoenix said there were lots of companies like Manheim, which were outsourcing their IT infrastructure.

“It provides them with a cost-effective, secure and reliable platform, allowing total freedom while reducing complexity and risk. It allows customers to concentrate on what they do best, leaving us to do what we do best,” he said.

Microsoft woos channel with Office 365

cloud 1Businesses and consumers have reached a “tipping point” in the market, leading to a huge appetite for the cloud, a Microsoft’s director of partner and strategy programmes has claimed to ChannelEye.

The company, which, over the past year has brought out a range of new products for both consumers and business, is now trying to win over resellers in the lead up to the launch of Office 365 for the commercial space.

“Last July we called the upcoming year a new wave for Microsoft,” Janet Gibbons, director of partner strategy and programme, told ChannelEye. “Not only was this because of the range of products, including Windows 8, that were launched but also the migration to the cloud.”

She said Office 365 had spearheaded this message with the home version for the first time offering a household licence for up to five devices, including Macs and tablets.

“This was a new way of consuming software,” Ms Gibbons added. “It shows how we’re going to be taking products to market.”

Microsoft says it is doing as much as it can to ensure its partners are ready for the commercial launch of Office 365, on the 27 of this month.

It has also changed the way its resellers can bill clients for the product, meaning that from 1 March resellers will be able to bill customers directly.

The current model for reselling Office 365 sees partners receive kick-back payments for what they sell, with Microsoft controlling billing. However, now resellers will be able to set their own margins and bill customers themselves.

“From a channel perspective we have advised our partners ahead of the launch so they in turn can help their customers,” Gibbons told ChannelEye. “We’re scaling this through distribution channels to target 7,500 partners, offering training and face to face meetings.”

The company has also embarked on licensing training  through December to Feb, putting on a two day event targeting 1,700 partners.

This covers other products relevant to resellers including Sharepoint and Link.

“We’re aiming to catch the market when the market is ready for new changes,” Ms Gibbons said. “From what our resellers tell us, their clients are ready.”

Public sector drawing up cloud contracts

cloud (264 x 264)Vendors will find themselves bidding for lucrative European government cloud projects soon.

According to the IDC Government Insights report for Cloud Trends for Western European Government Sector more than 56 percent of local government survey respondents and 42 percent of central government respondents have adopted or are planning to adopt internally hosted private clouds.

More than half of public sector groups are adopting or planning to adopt provider-hosted private clouds. Public clouds come second, with 28 per cent of respondents, and hybrid cloud is a distant third.
Among central governments, citizen Web portals and assembly management are the areas most under consideration.

Silvia Piai, research manager, IDC Government Insights said that the reseach suggests that public and hybrid cloud will gradually replace private clouds.

The study, with the catchy title, “Western Europe Government Sector IT Cloud Computing Trends, 2012–2013 (IDC Government Insights #GIPP12U, January 2013)”, is the third in a series of studies which say more or less the same things.
Not only are central and local governments about to make large cloud investments, but eventually Public clouds will become more important.

Microsoft confuses on Azure

clouds3Software giant Microsoft is trying to encourage its channel to come up with more cloud offerings by cutting the price on its Azure licencing.

Microsoft lowered Windows Azure price on SQL Reporting Services, which is used for business intelligence-type applications.
The SQL Reporting Service is now measured at increments of 30 reports at $0.16 per hour. The previous charge was measured at $0.88 per hour in increments of 200 reports.

Writing in its bog Vole claims that “the smaller report increment will give customers better use of the service and lower effective price points”.

Like most of the postings that Microsoft has made on its cloud offerings this one is as clear as mud. That is one of the things that resellers have been moaning about when it comes to Azure. The licensing arrangements are so Byzantine you have to be Constantine the Great to understand how they all work.

Customers have to pay for the compute time, data storage and data access and the bandwidth of the data transferred out of the cloud. Those various services get priced per GB. Then there is a monthly fee rolled into the overall cost if an organization uses SQL Azure.

To make matters worse, at the end of last year, Vole started reducing the price for Windows Azure Storage (WAS), claiming that costs could be reduced by 28 percent. WAS offers geo-replication storage support, as well as lower cost “redundant storage”. The geo-replication storage service is turned on by default.

However according to RPC magazine the service cannot be that good because when there was a two-day Windows Azure service disruption in December, Vole did not bother using it. If it had, Microsoft would have lost customer data.

Microsoft is apparently planning a few price more cuts which look even more complex as they are discounts based on spending tiers.

All this is because of the effectiveness of Amazon, particularly Amazon Elastic Cloud Compute (EC2) and Amazon Web Services (AWS). Amazon cut data transfer prices by as much as 83 percent. In addition, Amazon decreased some EC2 on-demand prices by up to 13 percent.

All up this is making the life of the reseller trying to sell Azure based offerings a little harder. Price cuts would make things a lot more competitive, if the original pricing structure was not so complex. Trying to sell such a complex structure to a client is a tough sell, particularly when the customer does not know what they are getting into.

Box pushes, with force, into EMEA channel

boxfactoryEnterprise cloud and collaboration company Box is launching a channel partner programme packed with incentives and organised by industry veterans to boost growth in the UK and EMEA.

The Silicon Valley firm posted an impressive end of fiscal year in 2012 with its technology in roughly 150,000 enterprises and with about 15 million users, channel director Chris Penner told ChannelEye, along with over 17,000 developers actively building custom apps for the platform. Pre-partner programme, the company has been busy boosting its roster of seasoned executives and went on a poaching spree over a six month period, bringing on staff with experience at Salesforce, VMware, HP, NetApp, Cisco and more to make sure it gets the channel strategy right on the first try.

One such hire is David Quantrell, who joined Box in September 2012 to run Box’s channel strategy in EMEA. Prior to this role he was President, EMEA for McAfee, and also has experience at HP and Nortel.

Wayne Cook, another hire, was previously at McAfee and is now a VP for channel and alliances at Box.

Penner told us that for the poached staff, moving over to Box presented an opportunity “of a lifetime” in a company that is well positioned with proper venture backing, a tremendous install base, and $40 billion pre-IPO. “A lot of ingredients that don’t come along every day,” Penner said. “We are building a really fundamental industry leading channel”.

Box Partner Network will create an “ecosystem of strategic alliance, channel and platform partners” that will bring Box’s content into new markets and, it hopes, drive further lofty aims of expansion. In a press release, the company boasted that, although in relative infancy, the company already had tons of big business clients signed up, including EA, NBC, Nationwide, Discovery Communications, Sony Music, and Netflix.

Starting partners include Autodesk, AtTask, Fonality, Marketo, CollabNet, Clarizen, TIBCO, Tidemark, and Xero – while five new partners, CollabNet, Clarizen, Fonality, tibbr, and Tidemark, will be tasked with leveraging the Box Embed HTML5 framework introduced late last year.

50 resellers have been signed up on a global basis over the last four months, including big hitters such as Ingroam Micro.

Interested channel players should head here.

As for Box’s position in the tech industry, Penner is optimistic: he tells us that end users love the service for its collaboration tools and simplicity, while IT likes Box because they know exactly what technology is going to be on premises and can control and manage every level of content in a secure manner – which is not the case for consumer alternatives, Penner said.

 

European biz wants Network-as-a-Service

cloud 2Beancounters working for research outfit Ciena have discovered that European enterprises are falling over themselves to get to WAN connectivity.
Interest is particularly strong in the UK, France, Germany and the Netherlands.

Dubbed the Vanson Bourne survey, the report indicates that corporates are most interested in a WAN connectivity model that adapts to peak and off-peak demands.

Four out of five enterprises describe themselves as very or somewhat interested in adopting Network-as-a-Service (NaaS). The report said that this reflects the increasing bandwidth requirements that enterprises face today as well as the need for a more cost-effective connectivity model.

More enterprises are considering a ‘Data Centre Without Walls’ model where they can pay for connectivity according to usage.

The survey was made up of senior IT decision makers in Western Europe. German companies were particularly keen on Network-as-a-Service as a way of reducing IT costs.

Almost half of interviewees in the finance and manufacturing sectors describe themselves as very interested in such a model, while the public sector seems more reluctant with only 14 percent seeing it as an option.

Dutch and French enterprises are the most receptive to a pay-per-use model for WAN connectivity, followed by the UK and Germany. A third of French and British enterprises are attracted to this model by lower cost while the Dutch like the fact it is very predictable.

The report also shows the extent of IT outsourcing. About two thirds of companies have outsourced IT services, and among those more than a third intend to outsource more.

Ian Harris, EMEA system integrators leader at Ciena said that with most enterprises outsourcing part of their IT services, the next step for enterprises will be to move part of their infrastructure requirements to the cloud.

He thinks that the Data Centre Without Walls idea will catch on because it allows enterprises to share resources while dealing with peak and off-peak demands.

The research backs up findings from Gartner’s IT Spending Report for 2013 that overall spending on IT infrastructure will surpass $3.7 trillion this year and $4 trillion by 2015.

Gartner: Cloud providers need to look at security services to survive

cloud 2Cloud providers must look at offering robust security options to ensure they stay ahead of the game, Gartner said.

Rubbing its crystal ball, the analyst company has gone as far to say the US government could declare cloud services as a critical national infrastructure, as a result of expanding public clouds, along with the ever-persistent threat on private and public sectors’ infrastructures.

It said that in the future this could mean that future network security is based increasingly on virtual security appliances.

By 2016, Gartner said public cloud infrastructure will include and be mandated to critical national infrastructure regulations by the US. It said that this is a result of the economic downturn, with governments continuing to sniff out ways to reduce their IT operating expenditures, eliminate duplication across their IT organisations and optimise their compute resources, making cloud deployments an attractive option.

Apparently several key governments have created initiatives for the adoption of cloud-based services, however, Gartner pointed out that they are yet to see any negative impacts from the technology. Disruptions, brought around by attacks on cloud service providers, were minimal.

By 2015, 10 percent of overall IT security enterprise product capabilities will be delivered in the cloud.

However, Gartner warned that as the economy becomes more dependent on the cloud, the threats against these networks would grow, eventually impacting national security.

The company is advising security providers to prepare their technologies to address potential mandates for critical infrastructure protection of public cloud environments.

It warned that those who lag behind with their security could face difficult sales and be squeezed out of the market by cloud providers who had threat management processes in place.

Growth rates for cloud-based security services are set to overtake those of traditional on-premises security equipment over the next three years with operational cost reduction, flexibility of deployment across multiple IT environments, and fast implementation and product updates among major factors driving demand.

Gartner also pointed out that as cloud matures, security offerings will also evolve, with data loss prevention, encryption and authentication all becoming must-have services offered alongside the cloud.

As new players establish themselves with innovative offerings, existing companies will look to acquire them to expand their portfolios with new capabilities and remain competitive.

Ovum: the cloud is unstoppable

clouds3Analyst house Ovum has released a report that forecasts trends to watch in the cloud for 2013 which predicts the industry shows no signs of slowing down.

According to senior analyst Laurent Lachal, cloud computing will evolve to tackle two challenges it has faced so far, namely reducing implementation costs and boosting innovation. Vendors and enterprises face some problems with successfully building both private and public clouds, but Lachal insists they will “make it work” in 2013 – on their own and as part of increasingly complex ecosystems.

Public, private, and hybrid clouds are building momentum, according to Lachal, and increasingly approaching enterprise grade class, but Ovum believes it is “early days” for both vendors and enterprises. We can expect the cloud to begin reaching its maturity in 2013, however, it will take another five years before this is complete, according to Ovum.

Ovum believes that in 2013, cloud computing will begin to form its own ecosystem. Rather than being viewed as a single platform as part of a larger infrastructure, public clouds will be seen as a central ecosystem hub both for cloud service providers and consumers.

“They offer a new way to accelerate participation in the rapidly evolving social networking and mobile ecosystems of the internet age,” Lachal said. “Some industry sectores are benefiting from the data centre as a hub, an increasingly cloud computing-centric ecosystem of partners that assembles in a key location or data centre such as around financial exchanges, web and online services, or media content”.

Data itself will drive further adoption of the cloud. As cloud services along with the apps that run on it generate data, cloud services and applications are needed to make sense of it, Ovum said. This means that cloud will evolve in line with other upcoming industry trends such as machine to machine communication, smart cities initiatives, the consumerisation of IT, open government data, and big data.

Ovum notes that the market is currently focused on big data in particular, however, the group thinks that from this year onwards there’s going to be an interest in the shift from vendors and enterprises to turn data into a manageable resource – something they can make money from. The start, Ovum believes, will be data abstraction, sharing, and valuation.

Foreign companies set up local clouds for UK

cloudForeign cloud vendors are waking up to the fact that European companies need data stored locally.

Already there has been concerns within the EU that some of the larger multinational cloud vendors are trying to score lucrative contracts in Europe.

The problem is that many foreign countries have laws which require their companies to turn over any data to their intelligence agencies.
In the US the Patriot Act requires all US companies to hand over data if the Government wants it. That means that if EU data crosses the pond it can become US government property.

UK customers of Megaupload found that out the hard way when their data was seized as part of a copyright dispute between the US government and the company..

Similar problems exist with companies that connect to Indian outsourcers which have cloud operations. Although it has not happened yet, data can be seized by Indian spooks under their terrorism acts.

The EU has been issuing warnings to companies that they could be in trouble if their data levels the boundaries of the trade bloc.

Last year, Sophia In’t Veld, a member of the Parliament’s civil liberties committee complained that the way it was worded US Patriot Act effectively overrules the EU Directive on Data Protection. She called for the Commission to remedy this situation.

Now it seems that the foreign vendors are starting to listen and are getting around the problem by setting up local clouds in the EU.

The latest idea has come from the ResellerClub, one of the world’s largest providers of Web Presence Products. It is now offering its resellers Hosting and Shared Hosting on Servers located in the UK.

Under the deal resellers can assure their customers Shared Hosting as well as Reseller Hosting on server locations are based in the UK.

Bhavin Turakhia, Founder of ResellerClub said hosting meant that website owners can reduce latency and benefit from better local search engine rankings.

Turakhia said that since the UK is one of ResellerClub’s biggest markets and resellers were warning that the content had to be kept local.

Earlier this year another cloud supplier saw a hole in the market and created a cloud platform that could manage the different levels of infrastructure and service required in a highly-secure cloud environment.

The company pointed out that “there’s a lot of concern around data security, particularly in Europe where there’s a great deal of anxiety about the Patriot Act, we felt that increasing our focus on security could offer an interesting and important opportunity for us,” a company spokesman said.

One of the company’s selling points is that its customers know and can control where their data is based and where that data is being accessed from.

It can be expected that as the EU looks closer at Data Protection then more such regional cloud packages will be required.

Juniper Networks kisses the cloud and its partners, too

JuniperJuniper Networks has made bold promises with an announcement outlining changes to its Partner Advantage program.

The network company, which claims to support around 12,000 partners, has decided to take advantage of the growing cloud trend and incorporate these products into its services.

Of course, this isn’t a ground-breaking ploy, with companies moving to take advantage of the cloud and the revenue it offers for a good few years now, and it could be argued that the company has been a bit slow on the uptake.

However, Juniper is pushing ahead also announcing a range of new support, maintenance and professional partner services.

It says its Partner Advantage Cloud programme will depend on, rather than compete with, partners and help to bring “cloud-ready products to the market”. It also claims its strategy is to acknowledge partner cloud service and infrastructure capabilities and connect them with Juniper’s technology partnerships to create cloud-ready bundles that are easier for providers to deploy and manage. Whatever that means.

Partners in the programme will be given relevant tools and resources to drive cloud differentiation and growth.

The company has also outlined two specific areas: Partner Support Services and Partner Professional Services.

Juniper’s Partner Support Services will focus on support and maintenance services with partners treated to four new services troubleshooting workshops, including service provider routing, enterprise routing, enterprise switching and security, designed to help partners improve service delivery effectiveness, later this year.

Juniper’s Partner Professional Services is said to focus on validating partners’ professional services capabilities. We assume there will be a cost. Juniper didn’t say.

The programme also promises revenues and rewards to partners, although how hard they have to work, or how much they have to originally stump up for marketing and training to achieve this, is anyone’s guess.