Tag: intel

Tyan launches cheap, powerful server stuff

Tyan1Tyan has launched products aimed at people looking for powerful and cheap computing performance.

The server platform design manufacturer has shown off the Tyan TA77-B7061, its latest and flexible 2U GPU supported platform; the S7042, entry-level dual socket motherboard -GT62A-B5512 and the GT20A-B7040, the “cost-effective” 1U server at CeBIT.

The TA77-B7061 is said to help consumers who are looking for accelerated data-processing and efficient computing performance as a result of supporting up to four GPUs in a 2U server chassis, it is also said to save server and rack space through the use of Intel Xeon Phi processors, NVIDIA Tesla K20 Series and ATI FirePro.

The TA77-B7061 supports Intel’s Xeon E5-2600 Series Processors, (8+8) DDR-III R/U/LR-DIMM,  PCI-E x16 G3 slots, PCI-E x8 G3 slots,  GbE ports and 2.5” HDDs.

The S7042 motherboard is targeted at the SMB market, claiming to offer these sectors a cost-effective platform.  It is claimed to have multiple expansion slots and a cost-optimised dual socket motherboard designed for SMB and workstation environments.

Those looking for strong performance with a weak price tag are said to benefit from the GT62A-B5512 which is a one way 1U rackmount server, which is claimed to target nearline storage, and  bring down the cost of server deployment.

iPad mini sales figures prove Steve Jobs wrong

iPad-miniLess than three years ago, Apple boss Steve Jobs famously proclaimed that 7-inch tablets would be dead on arrival. However, according to the latest NPD DisplaySearch statistics, small tablets are doing rather well and Apple’s own iPad mini is overtaking full size iPads.

The iPad mini got a lukewarm reception when it launched last year. Many tech hacks did not like it, although the usual shills went out of their way to prove that it is the best thing since sliced bread, but on the whole it was just a repackaged iPad 2 with a somewhat smaller screen. However, it did have a couple of things going for it. It was a lot smaller and lighter than 9.7-inch iPads, and it launched at $329.

Many didn’t believe Apple would experience much cannibalisation, as the iPad 3, with its gorgeous Retina display, was in a league of its own a year ago and the iPad mini seemed like a compromised product with subpar specs. It was thought there was enough of a gap between the two form factors to prevent cannibalisation. That assumption was wrong.

NPD’s figures show that shipments of 9.7-inch panels fell off a cliff over the past couple of months. Total shipments in December were 7.4 million, but late last year Apple kindly asked Sharp to reduce production to a minimum, so January shipments were just 1.3 million. Meanwhile shipments of 7.9-inch panels increased, hitting 5 million units in January.

NPD DisplaySearch reckons Apple was planning to ship 100 million iPads in 2013, but that figure has now been revised to 88 million units. Apple originally expected it could sell 60 million 9.7-inch iPads and 40 million minis, but now it seems that it will sell just 33 million 9.7-inchers and a whopping 55 million iPad minis.

Apple was never afraid of cannibalisation. If it came up with a new product, it would let it eat into sales of existing products, no questions asked. It is better to cannibalise your own sales than to have someone else do it for you. However, Apple might be getting a bit more cannibalisation than it bargained for, coming from a dead-on-arrival 7-inch tablet. It is also worth noting that the iPad mini was the first iOS product Steve Jobs did not sign off on. Intel has never mastered the art of cannibilisation.

Iron Mountain makes the UK superbrands list

ironmountainCAInformation management company Iron Mountain has found itself in the 2013 Business Superbrands qualifiers, finding itself among household names such as Samsung, Intel and Apple.

Although it is not in the top 20 – dominated by the heaviest hitters – the company has posted a proud release to let the world know of its increasing brand presence, specifically in the European mid market.

Iron Mountain has been following a strategy that targets European mid market companies. Its campaigns, the company said, have centred on showing off its brand appeal to smaller companies, using a combination of PR, web marketing, direct mail and event channels to raise awareness.

The company said that it works with 150,000 organisations across the world as well as finding itself in the majority of FTSE top 100 businesses for storing and managing critical information. In a statement, the company said despite this reputation, it was “largely unknown in Europe”.

Since 2011, the company has been involved in brand research in the UK, France, Spain, the Netherlands and Hungary.

The long list of the so-called superbrands is available in PDF format here.

Top ten business superbrands, from top to bottom, were Apple, BA, Google, Visa, Virgin Atlantic, IBM, SHell, Microsoft, London Stock Exchange Group, and Mastercard.

Superbrands claims that its league tables are based on the “opinions of marketing experts, business professionals and thousands of British consumers”.

Three tech companies were in the top ten of the consumer index. Apple was in second place, Microsoft in third, and Google at six. We are not clear about the exact metrics used, but Stephen Cheliotis from the council said they’re judged on “quality, reliability and distinction”.

Intel expands its foundry business

IntelChipzilla is starting to expand its foundry business to include some serious business partners for the first time.

Forbes reported that Intel has started making chips on behalf of Altera, which is certainly a much bigger fish than the names it has previously outted as business partners including Achronix Semiconductor. Of course Intel makes chips for HP and still has to produce the Alpha chip as part of a SEC settlement but no one ever mentions that these days.

It all makes for an interesting symbiotic relationship. Altera’s programmable chips get to use Intel’s upcoming 14 nanometer trigate transistor technology which will help it steal the march on its nearest rival Altera’s largest competitor and long-time rival is FPGA founder and market-share leader Xilinx .

It also means that Altera can keep established business relationships with the likes of TSMC who will continue to make its more elderly offerings.

Meanwhile Chipzilla gets someone who will ultimately pay for the huge amounts that Intel needs to keep its fabs at the cutting edge. It also means that it does not have to mothball plants because the PC business is in the doldrums thanks to the recession.

But with Intel attempting to obtain new customers, it could be that it will become a foundry for many other surprising names. Already Apple has been mentioned, although not by name.

Sunit Rikhi, Vice President and General Manager of Intel custom foundry, told the Mercury that if Intel was called upon to serve large mobile customers who can drive a lot more volume, it could serve them today in terms of capability.

He added that he was confident we have a very strong platform of offering upon which we can scale and that there was no doubt in his mind the foundry business will be a significant player in the future”.

RBC analyst Doug Freedman agreed saying that Intel had crossed over the line from it just being a questionable experiment to working with important clients.

Altera Chief Executive John Daane said that Altera, which depends on communications infrastructure for about half of its business, is the only major programmable chipmaker that will have access to Intel’s plants.

“We are essentially getting access like an extra division of Intel. As soon as they’re making the technology available to their various groups to do design work, we’re getting the same,” he said.
Daane said Intel’s manufacturing technology will give Altera’s chips a several-year advantage against Xilinx, its main competitor in programmable chips. He said Altera would continue to make other chips with TSMC, its long-time foundry.

Intel Ultrabooks are the “Titanic of the 21st Century”

Der Untergang der TitanicResellers have lit into Intel Ultrabooks likening the range to the “the Titanic of the 21st Century,” and calling the products a “sinking expense.”

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.

HP tells partners to “look inside”® for CPUs

Look inside at The Venetian, Las VegasAt its Global Partner Conference (GPC) held at the Venetian, Las Vegas last week, we asked senior suits at the company whether Hewlett Packard was Intel only.

Executives told us foreign journalists that it was CPU agnostic, and that we should “look inside” to fashion our “ecosystem” experience.

A direct question elicited the response that if we looked inside HP servers we would find various microprocessors powering its servers, including ARM and AMD. Just look inside, we were told.  HP is not only an Intel company. Look inside!  Sounds like a Buddhist idea, but we’ll take HP’s word for it. For now.

Anna Cheng, a PR rep at Intel UK, declined to comment “on rumours and speculation”. Intel does own trademark “The Journey Inside“, which is pretty Zennish. ®

What HP really told its dear partners

HP Global Partner ConferenceLet’s face it, us journalists are like a dangerous bacillus for vendors. Although the press are important to HP, we must be kept in isolation, and any HP execs that come anywhere near us must be inoculated beforehand and go through extensive health checks afterwards to ensure they haven’t been contaminated.

So in the ICU unit at this week’s Global Partner Conference, we were kept carefully away from the 2,000 partners invited to the glittering jamboree at the very glittering Venetian hotel in swinging Las Vegas.

We attempted to visit a server briefing but we were ejected by an HP bouncer because he noticed that we were wearing a red badge – red standing for warning, of course.

It was hard to prevent us chatting to sources close to Avnet, Ingram Micro and Tech Data, however, and to sundry HP employees who hadn’t been inoculated. Because these chaps and chapesses haven’t been press trained, we will have to not name them and describe them as “sources close” to the companies. And we can relay the undoubted fact that although folk from the big distributors welcomed Meg Whitman’s pledge to be nicer to the channel, they will believe it when they see it, if you get my meaning.

We hacks didn’t get invited to the Gen8 Petting Zoo, which is a shame. We would have loved to see HP petting the channel. Nor did we learn about the new compact servers (need three pedestals), the future HP Smart Update Manager (SUM), the future HP BladeSystem interconnect and we weren’t briefed on HP’s Smart Storage Futures (power, monitor, internet).

We do know that Synnex is HP’s largest North American distributor, delivering over $3 billion sales every year. It’s HP’s number one distie and has over 45 percent channel share. A Mr Eric Doyle, from the Intel Corporation, delivered the message that Intel, HP and resellers are “better together”.  This Eric Doyle is different from UK hack Eric Doyle, who had a package waiting for him in reception. Confusion arose. The UK’s Eric Doyle was being asked to pay $7 to collect the Intel package. We didn’t see Intel’s Mike Magee there, either.

Dan Forlenza from HP and Aaron Arvizu from Intel impressed on delegates the importance of the enterprise tablet revolution. Those would be HP tablets with Intel chips inside, then. Scott Wiest, from HP, invited the resellers to “ignite new opportunities” with X86 servers and how to migrate IBM and Oracle Sun servers to HP ones, instead.

Ray Carlin from HP told partners that while there have been many predictions of the demise of bricks-and-mortar shops, lots of people still want to go into real shops. As ChannelEye knows only too well, people like to go into shops to eye up the goodies but fewer and fewer are buying there and after they’ve taken a dekko, go online to buy the kit instead.

All in all, the event was a very revealing snapshot of how HP treats its partners.  We were successfully confined to sealed test tubes and shipped out of Vegas with due despatch and without the plague breaking out in a widespread kind of a way.

HP is top on blades, claims HP

hpmanvegasBlades are not expensive, HP said at a briefing here in the amazingly huge Sands Expo centre today.

It has shipped over three million blade systems and vastly outsells Dell and the others, said a man from HP. HP didn’t have very much to say about ARM, so we suspect he is talking about Intel based systems.

HP also claimed at the same press conference it was ahead on the storage front, you’ll be astonished to hear. HP will extend its converged storage portfolio with a couple of new products with a channel exclusive set of stuff called HP Store System and HP Store Virtual. It is all industry standard so basically we are talking about AMD and Intel – not ARM.

Store Virtual is incredibly simple, according to HP. “Because of the power of being HP we can deliver storage with rich data services with ProLiants”.

WLAN is a huge market for HP’s partners, growing 11 percent CAGR. WLAN is worth $4.18 billion, a spokesperson said.  HP claimed to be committed to driving all wireless revenue through its channel partners.  Ninety percent of HPN portfolio goes through the channel. HP Blade systems are worth $37 billion and driven by the channel, it was pointed out.

Channeleye’s likely tips for new Pope

Leo-I_Attila_Raphael-(1)With Pope Benedict announcing that he is cleaning out his desk and collecting his pink slip, Channel Eye has come up with a list of those who it thinks will have the right stuff to be the next Pope. Now we know that one of the jobs of the Pope is to be Catholic, but given that the church is unlikely to survive another 100 years unless it liberals up a bit, we have given our nominations on the basis that if they can run an IT company they can probably look after the world’s largest religious organisation.

1. Steve Ballmer
Ballmer is already half way to the job by having the inner certainty that he is God. Ballmer would sort out most of the Catholic church’s problems by shouting at them until they go away. Pope Ballmer would probably encourage cardinals to make all sorts of power plays so long as they left him alone. We predict that under his rule, the Catholic church would adopt wide scale contraception to avoid another Ballmer.

2. Sir William Gates
Since resigning from Microsoft’s top job, Gates has been heading towards sainthood. Not only is he well on the way of purging Africa from the devilish mosquito, his various charity work is now healing the sick of Polio. If he were appointed Pope, Gates would closely monitor other religions and then try to mimic their success.

3. Steve Jobs
A tricky choice for the church given that he is already dead, however, that has not stopped him being the head of the world’s fastest growing religion. Chances are that thanks to Apple technology he could do the job from the afterlife, all it would take is to replace all those videos of him with an iPad so that he appears to be holding a bible. We predict that under the rule of Jobs, which would be eternal, you would have to pay half of your salary to the church every year and queue to get into the sermons.

4. Leo Apotheker
A bit ofan  outsider but given that Cardinal Ratzinger was a similar figure within the Catholic church, and it is known for being fairly conservative, we think he could be a starter. Pope Apotheker would start by selling off all the churches and training all priests so that they could handle business management software, like SAP. While many people will not understand why the Catholic Church should dump everything it makes money on and moving into business software, Apotheker would point out that this was exactly the same plan he would have run for HP if those pesky board members had not been involved.

5. Michael Dell
Although he might be a little busy for the job, Michael Dell will abandon all the churches and tell his priests to take their services directly to parishioners. However, if this plan starts to go wrong, he will do a deal with Microsoft to buy out the Church from its Mafia backers and make himself the supreme pontiff and not have to answer to anyone.

6. Paul Otellini
Paul Otellini is retiring soon so might be up for the job, as he is a big fan of monopolies and will probably rule the Catholic Church in the same way as he did at Intel. This would involve leaning on the supplies of other religions and advising them to follow the Roman Catholic Church. Then the other religions would go broke and collapse. In some cases, where they had interesting theology, Intel might buy up their patents and incorporate them into Catholic theology.

Microserver market set to be a money spinner

HP-MicroServerCompanies interested in jumping on the next industry craze might want to have a look at what is being cooked up in the microserver market.

Analysts like iSuppli thinks that shipments of microservers will go up by three times this year. While that sounds like a lot, we are talking about a miniscule market now so a threefold increase is only 291,000 microservers.

But, if the pundits are right, this year will just be the start of something fairly bright and glorious which will start netting huge numbers of sales next year.

The forecast shows shipments increasing substantially each year until 2016. By then, it will represent one-tenth of overall server shipments.

For those who came in late, a microserver uses a bunch of densely-packed, low-power chips. The chips themselves are slower than an asthmatic turtle with a heavy load of shopping, but they can manage to do simple tasks without wasting power.

This makes them ideal for providing contact information on one website user. The bigger web-companies, including Facebook and Yahoo, and the banks are looking at them.

IHS says that Microserver shipments are going up faster than general servers and blade servers.
It will take a while for them to dent normal server shipments. To match that IDC estimates that microservers will have to come up with 8.4 million sales. It is worthwhile remember those are  last year’s figures and that companies were not buying due to the recession.

Already the big names in the chip industry are starting to come up with their plans for this big boom. Both Intel and ARM have announced that they are ready to come up with chips ready. The key was having 64-bit versions, which Intel was tooled up for while ARM wasn’t.

Now it looks like ARM is ready to come to the party and its partner AppliedMicro announced it will have something ready by the middle of the year.

Chief Financial Officer Robert Gargus told Reuters this morning he has been increasingly impressed this month with performance test results on new chips that include 64-bit features widely used in servers.

The company’s shareholders also like such talk. AppliedMicro stock has surged almost 80 percent since September. Gargus however seems to think that the serious revenue from microserver chips will not be around until next year. When they come through, those chips could account for as much as half the company’s business.

Intel is vying for a sizable cut with its Atom-based processor that uses just six watts. AMD snapped up SeaMicro, and Rackspace has already certified the new SM15000 for use in OpenStack.
Qualcomm and Samsung Electronics, which both use ARM’s technology to make chips for mobile gadgets, could also move into the microserver market and create a formidable challenge for AppliedMicro, analysts say.

Then there are the hardware makers who will be wading in for a slice of the pie. All up, there will be a lot of people who will want to make a pile out of technology before the technology becomes old hat.

Intel denies pay freeze claims

IntelIntel’s HQ  in Satan Clara has poured water over rumours that it has imposed pay freezes and left important vacancies open in a bid to save cash.

The comments from the company come following claims that the company was making these cuts in a bid to claw back the cash and make up its falling profits, which  dropped 27 percent in the last quarter.

Earlier this week the reliable sources told ChannelEye there had been “talk” of pay freezes, while vacancies that had been left open for months had yet to be filled.

When Intel was initially contacted regarding these claims, its press machines told us that the company didn’t “comment on rumour or speculations”,

However, it seems someone has had a change of heart – or woken from its media slumber, with the company now issuing a further statement.

It told ChannelEye today: “Just to follow up with confirmation from HQ.  [ChannelEye’s] report is false, there are no pay cuts or frozen hiring.”

We say watch this space.

Surface Pro showered with negative reviews

 

surface-pro

Microsoft’s tablet push seems to have hit yet another snag. The first reviews of Redmond’s new Surface Pro tablet are in and they are not good at all.

Envisioned as business friendly tablet with unparalleled legacy compatibility, the Surface Pro was supposed to challenge the iPad and high-end Android tablets by wooing traditionally conservative corporate customers to embrace a tried and tested platform, more or less.

At least that was the idea and on paper everything seemed right. The Surface Pro is powered by a proper x86 chip and it runs Windows 8, ensuring compatibility with legacy applications. It also has a full HD screen, physical keyboard and a pretty high price tag, which should be justified by its unique feature set. However, reviewers gave the Pro no quarter.

The Verge reckons it is still a better choice than the Surface RT, which really isn’t saying much since the RT doesn’t appear to be a good choice at all. However, consumers can get a decked out hybrid for about the same money, which led The Verge to put forth a simple question: who is it for? Oddly enough, the Apple loving New York Times was a bit more lenient, concluding that the Surface Pro could be the right machine for a lot of people.

“It strikes a spot on the size/weight/speed/software spectrum that no machine has ever struck. You can use this thing on a restaurant table without looking obnoxious (much),” wrote NYT’s David Pogue.

AllThingsD was not impressed, concluding that the Pro is too power hungry and too difficult to use in your lap. “It’s something of a tweener — a compromised tablet and a compromised laptop.”

Engadget’s Tim Stevens tried to be a bit more positive, but it soon ran out of kind things to say. “When trying to be productive, we wished we had a proper laptop and, when relaxing on the couch, we wished we had a more finger-friendly desktop interface,” he wrote.

Business Insider was blunt as usual, saying the Pro is just like the RT version, only heavier, thicker, more expensive and with half the battery life. “It looks like a tablet, but you can snap on an optional (but essential) keyboard cover that turns the Surface Pro into a pseudo-laptop. So why would anyone buy that?”

So what exactly was the Surface Pro’s undoing? Quite a few of things apparently, but most of them are not restricted to the Surface Pro – they apply to all upcoming Windows 8 tablets. On the hardware side all appears well, but vendors have to use power hungry x86 chips in all Windows 8 tablets, rather than frugal ARM SoCs employed by Apple and the Android alliance. The OS itself is bloated, hence a lot of speedy solid state storage is required to come up with a feasible Windows 8 tablet. Android and iOS are a lot leaner. Less efficiency also translates into limited battery life and bigger batteries, increasing production costs and bulk. Modern Android tablets and the iPad mini measure just seven to eight millimeters at the waistline and no Windows 8 tablet can come close to that yet.

Still, legacy app compatibility and unbeatable productivity features could easily outweigh the drawbacks? Well they could, in 2009. Countless developers have spent long hours working on productivity apps for iOS and Android over the past three years, so Redmond’s productivity edge has been blunted. BYOD is another trend that is forcing companies to rethink their approach and embrace cross-platform software solutions.

As far as legacy apps go, Windows 8 tablets seem like the obvious choice, but there are a few caveats. Windows 8 still lacks native, touch friendly apps. Most legacy apps can’t handle touchscreens very well, which means the traditional keyboard and touchpad combo is a must. With that in mind, there is no good reason for those in need of legacy support to get a tablet, as an Ultrabook or hybrid will do just fine.

Windows 8 tablets were cleverly marketed as a natural extension of ultraportable notebook lineups, so many vendors were (and still are) a lot more interested in Windows 8 tablets rather than Windows RT gear. Between Surface RT’s slow sales and the unflattering Surface Pro reviews, Redmond’s tablet strategy seems to be imploding faster than a North Korean uranium warhead.

 

 

Intel imposes pay freeze on staff

IntelThings are looking more than a little shaky at the Intel Corporation  with claims of pay freezes and vacancies left unfilled.

Last month the company announced that it had seen profits take a nose dive dropping 27 percent in the last quarter, net income stood at $2.5 billion from the $3.4 billion, a year earlier, while the company’s revenue took a hit falling three percent to $13.5 billion from $13.9 billion.

At the time the company claimed that it was striving to do better and award its stakeholders with fatter margins the next time round, but it seems clawing some of the cash back is falling at the expense of its UK staff.

Sources within the company told ChannelEye: “There’s been talk of pay freezes, while [vacancies] that have been left open for months have yet to be filled.”

Some departments were facing a losing battle as a result.

“There’s also been more pressure on both [sales and marketing] departments to perform better, which, without the right support and staff count has been hard, but that’s obviously the demons that we have to deal with rather than for the top level staff.”

The source also said neither marketing or sales departments were seeing any of the marketing budget Intel had promised to throw at this area when it announced its financials.

This year the company earmarked $18.9 billion on research and development, along with marketing and administrative costs, an increase from 2011 when it spent $16 billion in this sector, and up from $18.2 billion last year.

“When Intel said it would be spending more on marketing last month, I don’t think it really meant its staff in this sector and in sales,” ChannelEye heard.

“I think it was more for its products – namely Ultrabooks – and other shiny toys that would appeal to consumers.

“There’s however only so much we can do to promote the Ultrabook, and feed exciting, engaging info to resellers and consumers when we haven’t got all the tools to do it”.

Channel faces legal pitfalls after Oracle ruling

courtThe final appeal is out and Oracle has lost its appeal against a Californian judge’s ruling that it will have to keep porting its software to Hewlett-Packard’s Itanium-based servers.

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.

Dell EMEA pres, Aongus Hegarty, outlines company’s vision

AongusHegartyHaving delivered a keynote designed to outline Dell’s positive outlook in enterprise to a room full of press and analysts at a remodeled gas-works, the Westergasfabriek, on the edge of an Amsterdam park, Dell EMEA President Aongus Hegarty took some time out of his schedule to speak with ChannelEye, joined by Edmund English, Director, EMEA commercial marketing.

The latter  confirmed Dell is actively looking at ARM servers.

As CEO Michael Dell is rumoured to be funding taking the company off the market, with investment from Microsoft, it is hard not to see Dell in a transitional phase. Although Dell holds a strong presence in the enterprise already – the whispers at Tech Camp were about just if and when the company would dump its consumer division.

Hegarty said that from a business perspective, Dell has been going through significant change over the last three years. “We’ve been concentrating on enterprise,” he said. “We are at a significant stage in our transformation, very much linked to our customers deploying technologies”. English added that looking at the company’s market strategy, Dell recognises that there are “a lot of great things that brought us to where we are” and that the firm must not forget about them – and that it is adding capabilities rather than cutting them. It is, English emphasised, an “evolution”.

Channel players in particular will have noted Dell’s product portfolio swelling in hardware and in services, not to mention opening itself up to a partner network rather than dealing directly with the company. “Our company five years ago would have been predominantly direct,” English said. “Five years ago we changed and unlocked choice for our partners – because of that our channel business has grown strongly over a number of years.

“Dell is predominantly a commercial company,” Hegarty added. “About 15 percent in consumer and 85 percent in business to business”. With a lot of work around the enterprise, Dell has been building its portfolio in the full enterprise, including in networking, storage and servers.

It is clear from the company’s shopping spree in the enterprise space that Dell is keen to continue as an established player, adding intellectual property as it goes, including with acquisitions such as Quest, Wyse, Kace, and the others that now form Dell Software Group. “That said,” Hegarty pointed out, “we’ve been continuing to invest in our PCs and tablets” – in line with Windows 8 launching late 2012. It did, however, pull out of its brief flirtation in the smartphone space.

“We have continued to invest in the prosumer as well as the commercial side,” Hegarty said. “You see a lot of trends from the consumer space, features and functionalities, influencing, like in Bring Your Own Device – we are very focused with our commercial customers to enable that choice, to work with security elements and access to data”. For example, with Dell’s Latitude Ultrabook.

Although the Intel logo was plastered on Dell’s Tech Camp banners – a similar blue to Dell’s own logo – English confirmed to ChannelEye that the firm has been actively looking at ARM servers. Efficiencies in power are the talk of the day, and English said that Dell takes its lead from its customers. “That’s what we build into our portfolio,” he said. “We are seeing asks and interest, specifically in the hyperscale space”. That said – there have also been “tremendous” efficiency gains on x86 generation on generation. “We are looking at it, yes – have we done engineering and back end testing? Yes.

“We look at our total cost of ownership,” Hegarty said. “At the end of the day, it is about providing the most efficient technology for our customers”. English added that efficiency can span more than classic power efficiencies: “You’re also talking about staff, driving more automation into backend infrastructures, changing architectures, and thinks like that rather than just keeping the lights on”.

Aside from trends such as tablet usage and mobility in the commercial sector, for SMBs, more should be focusing on social media and the building trends that are happening organically and those that are technology led. “For small businesses,” Hegarty said, “they need to be aware – it’s one of the key mechanisms to connect in business, but also in getting feedback and listening to your customers”. Of ten small businesses Hegarty recently spoke to, at least half of them had no social media strategy or approach adopted in their business.

Considering the soothsaying from influential analyst house Gartner, which said in a recent report that the biggest hitters will have their own in-house social networks, this is an area where businesses cannot afford to be playing catch-up.

For trends in the enterprise, English said that convergence is increasing. “It’s a long time since a customer rang up and asked for a server,” he said. “What they’re looking for is a collaboration service, they want a prescripted solution, the fabric, the storage, the compute, and how you manage and orchestrate that – you’re seeing more conversations happening at a holistic level and an application level”.

Hegarty invited interested channel players to start a conversation with Dell. “What’s exciting for Dell’s channel partners is they’ve seen the portfolio of business expand and grow,” he said. Three or four years ago, partners particularly focused on servers, but the wider portfolio is open for business, and Dell is finding that those partners are investing in other capabilities as well. “Using the enterprise space as one example, the acquisitions that we’ve done – a lot of those companies had been doing business through channel partners, so that’s brought new partners into our network too – Dell uniquely has a full portfolio of technology, end to end, and it creates opportunity for partners.

“The best advice I can give to partners, is come talk to Dell,” Hegarty said.

What does the wider market look like to Dell, right now? Hegarty said that, of course, he couldn’t speak for the rest of the market – but for Dell, it is “very much focused on our customers”. Dell must – and is, Hegarty said – understand customer needs and requirements, as well as trends in the market place, whether it’s in a business environment or at home. The strategy Dell has been developing has been working, according to Hegarty, who cited some slides from Marius Haas earlier in the day – himself an ex HP man, that demonstrated it is “winning in that space”.

As for Dell’s competitors – Marius Haas, formerly a heavy hitter at HP and top ally with ousted chief exec Mark Hurd – led the company’s networking division towards serious success. HP itself has an aggressive channel partner program and is providing subsidies and loans to potential partners as well as buying back rival equipment and end-of-lifing it if it can’t be recycled.

How can Dell respond to such aggression from its top rivals? English told us that primarily, the message in the enterprise is total cost of ownership with storage. “I’m very keen to go and have a five year TCO conversation with anybody versus the competitors,” he said, before acknowledging that Dell had similar “tactical tools” for the channel – including where it buys back terabytes in storage. “But for me that is not going to be a primary vehicle of acquisition, I don’t want to press the price of labor, I want to have a holistic conversation”.

“That really reflects a reaction to the success we’re having with the end to end solutions,” Hegarty said. “I can point to the IDC data globally – we’ve been taking share from HP now six quarters in a role, with the launch of 12g technology. Nothing beats investing in R&D to innovate, and to improve the TCO. Different competitors will react in different, potentially kneejerk ways, to deal with that – but nothing beats innovation”.