Tag: Dell

Next year’s server wars may be cancelled

soldiers-2The major battle in the server space planned for next year may be only a minor skirmish with the usual suspects winning.

Intel needs to see off the expected competition from ARM and is going to chuck a lot more cash in the area to keep its position as market leader. What we are seeing from the Intel Developer Forum is that its answer will be a a new Xeon D family of chips.

Xeon D chips will be the first server chips based on the Broadwell architecture, and will go into dense servers starting next year. But these are not your normal server chips, they are effectively systems on a chip which means that they will be deliberately targeting anything “low level and power efficient” that ARM is expected to come up with.

It means that Intel does not think that its Xeon E3 and Atom chips code-named Avoton will be up to the task of taking on ARM. The Xeon D chip will be faster, but more power hungry than Avoton, which is based on an architecture called Silvermont used in mobile chips.

But Intel thinks that the Xeon D will provide more performance-per-watt, which punters will find attractive.

Intel does have some other advantages in any coming server war. Intel’s chips already go into more than 90 percent of servers, and server makers like Dell have said that the chances for success of ARM servers are diminishing due to product delays. Intel also has a head-start on software development over ARM.

ARM’s server chips are based on the ARMv8 architecture, and have integrated networking, storage and I/O controllers. Its key weapon against Intel is still lower power consumption, something Chipzilla is fast catching up on.

A variety of companies had indicated interest in making server processors based on blueprints from ARM,  but so far ARM 64-bit server processors have not been made available commercially.

Chip makers like Applied Micro and Advanced Micro Devices have delayed shipment of ARM-based chips.

Dell is offering prototype ARM servers for benchmarking and application development. Hewlett-Packard announced plans to use ARM processors in its Moonshot “dense” server, which uses x86 chips, but hasn’t announced a definitive release date for the ARM edition.

The other player in any coming war AMD is also expanding its low-power server processor lines,  which could also will hurt adoption of ARM servers.

The other big hurdle for ARM is the fact that most firms already have software and hardware based around x86. To adopt ARM-based servers, companies will not only have to invest in new servers and components, but also port applications to the architecture.

This could make a switch to ARM very expensive in terms of capital and final cost of ownership. Then there are some licensing issues surrounding the adoption of ARM servers, as companies will have to pay more for software per core used in them, Norrod said.

ARM is also finding its allies thin on the ground. ARM server pioneer Calxeda folded operations and earlier this year Nvidia scrapped server chip plans. Samsung has also abandoned ARM server chip development.

PC sales up. Secretly

A not so mobile X86 PCSales of PCs in the Middle East and Africa (MEA) region showed growth in the second quarter, stopping a continuous seven quarter decline. That applies to both notebooks and desktop machnes.

So says market research company IDC, which said growth in the quarter amounted to 2.2 percent, up by 4.5 million units.

Oddly, the bulk of the growth came in Iran, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Palestine and Afghanistan.  Why is that odd? Because, according to Fouad Rafiq Charakla, research manager at IDC, no vendor make any official shipments of PCs into these countries.

Saudi Arabia and Pakisan showed growth in the region.  “The healthy shipments seen in most countries can either be attributed to a recovery from instability – be it economic political or social – or to previously low PC penetration rates. Bearing this in mind, Egypt and Nigeria are expected to be among the region’s fastest growing PC markets in 2014,” Charakla said.

The top dogs in the region are HP, Lenovo, and Dell. But the last suffered a shortfall year on year. Acer and Asus came fourth and fifth respectively.

Dell updates PC line

Dell logoGiant PC supplier Dell said it has released redesigned additions to its Latitude and Optiplex PCs.

The Latitude 7000 Series 2 in 1, the Latitude 3000 and 5000 series laptops and the Optiplex 9020 and 3020 desktop PCs come with a set of fresh functions.

Dell claims its the only vendor to offer encryption, advanced authentication and malware prevention from a single source – and this helps its customers save time and cost.

The Latitude 7000 machine combines a business Ultrabook and a detachable tablet in one device, with a 12.20inch display and an instant go feature similar to those found in smartphones and tablets.

The Optiplex machines have a chassis design of only 1.2 litres and are aimed at places where space is at a premium.

Dell said its Chromebox   – a cloud based unit – offers multiple ports, Ultra HD resolution and several mounting options.

Dell also introduced the 55 Monitor, which, as its name suggests, has a 55-inch wide screen.

All machines are already available or will be available during this month.

Storage revenues fall

storageWhile still worth $5.9 billion, external storage systems revenue fell by 1.4 percent in the second quarter of this year, according to IDC.

The market research company said a decline in high end systems was coupled with a drop in midrange storage sales too.

While EMC stayed in first place, its market share fell in the quarter from 31.2 percent the year before to 30.1 percent.  NetApp and IBM tied in second place but they also saw drops in their sale.

HP appears to have profited from their market share drop, as it moved to fourth place, while Dell and Hitachi tied for the fifth position.

Moving from external disk storage to the total storage market the top four vendors were EMC, HP, IBM and Dell.

Intel builds custom chips for Oracle

oracleIntel’s new business building custom chips for punters who build their own servers appears to have been gaining some momentum.

Last year, Intel started offering custom chip designs to Facebook and eBay and now it has managed to get Oracle signed up.

The difference with the Oracle deal is that Chipzilla is making custom processors to sell to customers.

According to DatacenterDynamics  Oracle wanted a processor whose performance profiles could be changed on demand based on workload.

Intel built Oracle’s E7-8890 v2 on the Xeon E7-8895 v2 processor but gave it the ability to put its cores into ultra-low power states and then bring them back up as needed.

The 8890 v2 model is the top of the Xeon line, the only one with RAS capabilities and other high-end functions found in the Itanium and other RISC processors.

The 8890 has 15 cores running at 2.8 GHz and 37.5 MB of cache per core for high performance analytics or in-memory databases.

With the 8895, Intel allowed the processor to act like an 8890, 8891 or 8893 while in operation and without having to shut down and restart.

The technology was already there. Intel already does something similar with its consumer Core processors called Turbo Boost. If a dual core, 3.0GHz processor is running a single-threaded app, it will shut down one core and run the other at 3.4Ghz, for example.

The 8895 is used in Oracle’s Exadata Database Machine X4-8,an 8-processor rack system with up to 12 TB of system memory 672 terabytes of disk, 44 terabytes of high-performance PCI Flash, 240 database CPU cores, and 168 CPU cores in storage to accelerate data-intensive SQL.

There are limits to the deal. Intel will not be open to chip suggestions from Oracle’s hardware competitors like HP and Dell. The Oracle deal was oriented around its database and other business application software.

Don’t fear the Big Blue Apple Alliance

blue-appleThe glorious alliance between soft fruit Apple and Big Blue has not put the fear of Jehovah into other potential fruity alliances.

According to Reuters  top executives at Dell and BlackBerry scoffed at the deal with their best scoffing sticks.

The pair have been trying to re-invent themselves, and some of the tame Apple press claims that the glorious Apple-IBM alliance will stuff up their efforts.

John Swainson, who heads Dell’s global software business, said that the Apple-IBM made a good press release but there was nothing in it which was worth taking seriously.

Swainson, who spent over two decades in senior roles at IBM, point out that IBM reps will be unable to flog Apple gear to their client base. He said that they were rubbish at selling that sort of thing when it had an IBM logo on it, so they are going to be just as pants at trying to sell stuff with an Apple on it.

While it is true that Apple products are better marketed, Swainson said they lack the depth of security features that many large business clients like banks need.

BlackBerry Chief Executive John Chen told the Financial Times that the alliance was like when “two elephants start dancing”,

Dell and BlackBerry have declined to discuss whether they would consider teaming up, but some analysts, bankers and others have argued in the past that a partnership between the two underdogs potentially made sense.

Dell has a huge sales team, vast network of business clients and is focused on growing its security and device management capabilities which is everything that BlackBerry needs.

Dell puts Hammer on the table

Hammer logoMajor channel player Dell said it has appointed distie Hammer as an international OEM covering its complete portfolio.

The partnership means Hammer will sell into 40 verticals including military, defence, media, entertainments and telecommunications.

Gerard Marlow, general manaer at Hammer said that his company’s experience in bespoke server design helps it to be a Dell OEM.  The company has over 50 sales and technical professionals in house.

Dermot O’Connell, executive director of OEM business at Dell says that the partnership means Hammer will be part of his company’s overall channel strategy.

HPC server market falls

server-racksA report  from market research company IDC said factory revenues for the high performance computing server market fell by close to 10 percent in the first quarter of 2014, compared to the same period in 2013.

Revenues fell from $2.5 billion to $2.3 billion.

But the long range view for the supercomputers sector of the market is expect to see reasonable growth with a CAGR of 7.2 percent to 2018.

HPC technical computing analyst Earl Joseph said that the race towards exascale computing means that SMEs and research outfits are likely to use HPCs in the future.

HP is the clear leader in the market with 35 percent share, IBM has 23.1 percent share, while Dell managed third place accounting for 17.2 percent of global revenues.

The overall HPC technical server market is likely to be worth $14.7 billion by 2018.

Dell engages in channel love in

dellbudaTen years ago, the very word Dell was enough to send VARs, VADs and, let’s face it, the rest of the channel into streams of invective, punctuated by words you wouldn’t want your nan to hear you speak. Like the expletive “direct sales”, for example.

But, it seems, everything has changed and now Dell loves the channel and, incredibly, the channel seems to love Dell too.  Channel Eye took time out from our incredibly stressful schedule to spend a day at a security partner reseller conference in Budapest and got to chat to several senior executives and resellers too, for that matter, who spelled out the sea changes that have happened at the Round Rock company.

While Dell is still seen by many as the PC tin maker that put the wind up conventional and indirect players like HP and the rest, it’s made a number of acquisitions in the last few years that mean the barque is now being steered in an entirely different direction. Those include SonicWALL, Quest and others.

The changes have been engineered at the highest level – that is to say by Michael Dell himself – with the assistance of senior exec Cheryl Cook. Unbelievably for an old channel hack like me, 32 percent of Dell’s business now goes the indirect route, worth an estimated $20 billion of revenue, under the umbrella of Partner Direct.

Channel Eye interviewed senior members of the EMEA channel team, including Andy Zollo and Marvin Blough – executive director of Dell’s worldwide channels and alliances. We also had the opportunity to talk to Patrick Sweeney, executive director of product management at the corporation.

Sweeney said: “Dell is in the process of becoming an end to end supplier of scalable systems. Dell continues to build PCs, but relies on value added resellers (VARs) to be trusted advisors [to customers].” He said that Dell is now a serious player in software and security and offers products that he claimed favourably compete with the likes of Cisco, Fortinet and others.  The company, he said, invests heavily in R&D, has a wide breadth of products and the idea of Dell as a major player in security and software is promoted by Michael Dell himself when he makes major announcements.

In fact, Dell has something like 124 VARs in the EMEA region. The trend is that larger companies have started to rely on VARs to help them through the IT maze, whether that be in the cloud, in big data, or in security.  Florian Malecki, who is the international product marketing director at Dell, said his company also relies on value added distributors (VADs) to generate events and training schemes.

How does it all work? Under the Dell umbrella of Partner Direct, the company operates certification for its channel partners at different levels, said Zollo. The tiers are premier partners, preferred partners and registered partners, but, he said, Dell is about to introduce a fourth category – managed service providers (MSPs).  Dell continues to roll out partnership initiatives and concedes that while it still has direct customers, the trend is to move towards an indirect model to allow it to penetrate different markets.  It’s impossible to operate a direct model in the many markets it now plays in.

Zollo says that the company has a “direct touch” sales team that cross sells all the products it has – and this umbrella model means that Dell GCC is able to operate across a wide area of customers and partners.

Who would have thought it? Dell was once a company that wouldn’t even talk to channel publications like ours. But it looks as if it will be talking to us more and more in the future. It relies on its VARs and its VADs for deep levels of specialisation, training and support.

We guess that HP must be gazing at all of this with quite some alarm. And Lenovo, for that matter.

Get yourself a firewall or get stung

Dell logoPatrick Sweeney, executive director of network security at Dell, talked about next generation firewalls and how the world+dog needs them because of increased security threats.

He said Dell processed 50,000 pieces of malware a day and that means 50,000 new counter measures a day too – with updates to its firewalls pushed out between eight and twelve times a day. Mobility is changing and is being compromised – it’s not just the enterprise. Security from little to large companies all face the same problems and threats.

There’s an increase in criminal to criminal activities, with exploit auction houses, and people offering a distribution service as well as Botnet rental.  The biggest companies in the world and many governments have been badly compromised.

Encryption is used offensively by malware designers which makes it hard to defend networks. Algorithms to defend against these threats must be able to cope with encrypted malware too. Defence has to be at multiple levels, including deep packet inspection to filter content, offer anti-spam, SSL inspection, intrusion protection and others.

Dell has introduced several new features to its SonicWALL offerings including new content filtering policies that are downloaded when people are on the road – an enforced client deployment mode for CFS and AV. Application control is important too, so that highly threatening applications are prevented from being runnable on the network.

PC shipments in Europe “stabilise”

european-commissionA report from market research firm IDC said there are indications that shipments of PCs in the European, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) stabilised in the first quarter of this year.

21.8 million units shipped in EMEA, a decline of 1.1 percent compared to the same quarter last year.

But Western Europe showed a growth of 8.6 percent, spurred by business demand.  If that percentage is taken as a pie, commerical units showed an increase of 15.1 percent, while the retail market showed growth of 2.1 percent.

It’s the end of support for Windows XP that drove the rebound, according to Chrystelle Labesque of IDC.  And companies have started to invest in IT again, she said.  There is more business confidence.  Neverless, the overall PC market in central and eastern Europe and in the Middle East and Africa showed a year on year decline of 12 percent.

HP did well, as did Lenovo, while Dell was in third place and Acer in fourth place.  Asus took the fifth place.

PC market falls again

IBMoldThe news for resellers specialising in the PC business in western Europe continues to be gloomy, apart from those specialising in the enterprise sector.

Gartner issued a report that said the market fell in western Europe by four percent in the last quarter of 2013.

And it’s all PC segments.  Mobile and desktop PC shipments fell by 6.5 percent and 0.3 percent respectively.  Sales to enterprises fell by 1.7 percent while sales of PCs to individual people fell by seven percent.

However, it’s not all bad news. Gartner said that large corporations are switching away from Windows XP – support from Microsoft ceases in April.

HP is the number one player, followed by Lenovo, Acer, Asus, and Apple. The total number of PCs shipped in Q4 2013 amounted to 14,671,825.

PC shipments in the UK amounted to 2.9 million units in the quarter, down 6.7 percent compared to the same quarter in 2012.

Mobile shipments fell 10 percent.

HP, Lenovo, Dell, Toshiba and Apple were the top five vendors in the UK for the quarter.

Microsoft is at the crossroads

A knight at the crossroads, Victor VasnetsovIn many cultures, both in Asia and the West, crossroads are considered to be baleful places, associated with darkness, with death.

Why so?  A crossroads is a place where you have to make decisions, to head off in a different direction, not really knowing what lies at the end of the route you choose.

Microsoft is at the crossroads.

The appointment of Satya Nadella as Microsoft’s CEO, replacing the somewhat understated Steve Ballmer, is a considerable challenge for the software behemoth.

And Bill Gates is back – spending a third of his hours – to help with Microsoft’s product strategy.

There are a few problems with the Gates move.  Despite Microsoft’s undoubted success in the past, much of it was a product of accident coupled with very cunning marketing.  It was, for example, IBM’s decision to adopt DOS as the operating system for the first PC which pulled Microsoft from obscurity into the limelight.  Although Microsoft released its first version of Windows it was many years before Windows took off. Microsoft was never very good at inventing anything.

The stimulus for businesses to adopt the IBM PC was a clever piece of software from Lotus, 1-2-3.  Even that spreadsheet was not a first because that honour belongs to Visicalc, for Apples. But Apples were and are expensive and in the 1980s large businesses adopted PCs because they would never be fired for buying IBM.  The fact that PCs had Intel microprocessors inside meant that businesses were tying themself into a cartel which included. at that time, Microsoft and AMD too.

When companies and individuals first started adopting Windows, Microsoft had the field to itself for the introduction of application software was offered as a bundle.  Its software was, in the late 1980s and early 1990s. judged inferior to offerings from the like of Lotus, Ashton-Tate and Borland – just as examples.

But now Microsoft, like its joined at the hip partner Intel, is lagging behind in the technology stakes, with both joining the smartphone and tablet revolution way too late.  And we’ve seen a steady decline in sales of the PC for many quarters now. The gravy train has hit the buffers, or perhaps the cash cow is dead.

What’s interesting in the management reshuffle yesterday is that Symantec and former IBM senior executive John Thompson is now chairman of the Microsoft board, essentially meaning that Microsoft’s three main movers and shakers is a troika.  Thompson should not be underestimated.  He is a highly intelligent, astute businessman who has been trained in the school of hard knocks.

The big question is whether in the next 10 years will we see all those giants of the PC age – HP, Dell, Intel, Microsoft and the others – relegated to the second division or maybe even the fourth.

That’s why Microsoft is at a crossroads. And there’s no compass nor GPS nor Google Maps to show it the right route to take..

Tablet sales soared in last quarter

ipad 3Rather as expected, global tablet shipments in the fourth quarter of 2013 showed a 29.8 percent rise compared to the same quarter a year before.

That’s according to the research wing of Digitimes, which thinks 78.45 million units shipped during the period.

But the research doesn’t spell particularly good news for Apple.  It hogs 29.7 percent of shipments, other vendors account for 36.6 percent, while white box units represent 33.8 percent of the market.

According to Digitimes Research, the Android OS represent 51.2 percent of shipments, Apple’s iOS 44.9 percent and Microsoft Windows based tablets a trifling 3.9 percent.

Breaking the market share out, the research showed Apple at 29.7 percent, Samsung 17.4 percent, Amazon 5.4 percent, Lenovo 4.2 percent.  Acer, Dell and HP trailed with market shares of one percent or below.

Notebook sales down

framedwindowsIt is hardly a surprise given that one in two UK households now have a swipy style tablet, but independent research shows top X86 models aren’t exactly the flavour of the month.

According to Digitimes Research, both branded notebook vendors and top original design manufacturers (ODMs), recorded month on month drops of 12 percent and 11 percent in December.

Dell and Toshiba did better than the other bunch of brand names, with the former, in particular, showing a bit of a surge because Microsoft will deck long in the tooth but reliable Windows XP this spring.

The ODMs were hit because HP was hit – Quanta and Inventec supply Hewlett Packard with most of its notebook boxes.

While the X86 mob hope that enterprises are still likely to plump for Windows based boxes, there is evidence that large corporations are seriously contemplating the bring your own device route, which will further erode Intel market share.