Channel Marker


October 3, 2007  10:47 PM

Microsoft wants Facebook–er, maybe not

badarrow Barbara Darrow Profile: badarrow

 Just what company Microsoft will buy, or buy into, next has become a parlor game among solution providers and civilians alike.Last week,  The Wall Street Journal reported, citing unnamed sources, that Microsoft was talking to Facebook about buying perhaps a five percent stake in the social networking company  for up to a half a billion dollars.  

The Journal valued Facebook at $10 billion or more. Staggering.

This week, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer was quoted in  The Times Of London in a way that indicated that social networking sites in general and by extension Facebook in particular were  “faddish.”

You could argue–and many did–that this was a ploy to drive price down. I would like to think Ballmer was just speaking his mind. He acknowledged that the Facebook community–tens of millions of user aggregated in its three years of existence–has value.

But a technology powerhouse? Seriously, does anyone really see Facebook as a legitimate application development platform?

Let me know. I can take it.

Barbara Darrow, a Boston-area journalist, can be reached at badarrow@comcast.net.

October 3, 2007  8:22 AM

Symantec adds bot protection to managed security services

Bcournoyer Brendan Cournoyer Profile: Bcournoyer

Symantec continued its services push today by boosting its managed security services (MSS) with bot protection.

MSS customers will receive the added protection free with their current subscriptions, which provide real-time monitoring and threat response. Symantec says its latest Internet Security Threat Report found, over a six-month period, more than 5 million computers infected with bots — programs that can spread malware from computer to computer and grant remote access to unauthorized users.

Much of Symantec’s focus lately has been on managed services and Software-as-a-Service (Saas). Its upcoming SaaS platform, Symantec Protection Network, was on the minds of many value-added resellers (VARs) at last month’s Partner Engage conference, where Symantec executives reassured them that the channel will play a big part in services. The first SaaS offering, Online Backup Service, is due later this year.

Symantec’s services push is an attempt to attract more small and medium-sized business (SMB) customers and also to keep its lead in the emerging Symantec vs. Microsoft security battle.


October 2, 2007  8:56 AM

Microsoft addresses Google, Zoho online apps

badarrow Barbara Darrow Profile: badarrow

Microsoft let another shoe drop Monday in its “software plus services” take on software-as-a-service

First it announced a free service, with the catchy name Microsoft Office Live Workspace. This will let users securely access their stored online documents and files from anywhere. Users can pre-register now for the beta. Those documents and files will be stored by Microsoft.  And the Groove technology Microsoft acquired along with Ray Ozzie’s Groove Networks a few  years back will presumably be the mechanism for working with those documents off line.

 The company was careful in its announcement to differentiate between this with its pre-existing Office Live service for small businesses which is now dubbed -you guessed it-Office Live Small Business. The company claims 450,000 users.

Also new, but  hardly unexpected, is Microsoft hosted SharePoint, or Office SharePoint Online.  To be clear, the aforementioned Office Live Small Business also uses Sharepoint as a foundation.

Again, solution providers, especially those who host technologies for small businesses have to watch these developments carefully.  While one side of Microsoft wants partners to host applications on Microsoft foundations, another increasingly important group maintains that Microsoft itself must host a wide array of services for consumers and small businesses to combat the threat from Google and cool offerings from Zoho.

Solution providers working with enterprises had better also keep their eye on the company’s growing array of managed services. Microsoft Managed Services now include hosted Exchange Server, SharePoint Server, and Live Communications Server.

While Google, which has blazed the trail for lean online apps for consumers and now some business people, has not had to worry about alienating its partner base, the same cannot be said for Microsoft, which must tread a fine line here.

As Ozzie  himself said when he was named to his lofty role , Microsoft  is being forced to change, just as its partners must change.

Forewarned is forearmed.

Barbara Darrow, a Boston-area freelance journalist can be reached at badarrow@comcast.net.


October 2, 2007  6:16 AM

Rosy economic forecasts ignore the dour nature of the products being sold

badarrow Brein Matturro Profile: Brein Matturro

Despite the need to project budgets and hiring plans into the future, relying on generalized economic indicators can be iffy and, in some cases, counterproductive.

Right now, for example, a price of consumer goods and corporate profits, generally low inflation rate tell a different story.

The problem is that all the general economic indicators make broad market projections, but not in your specific market.

Continued »


September 27, 2007  9:31 PM

Avnet acquires Acal plc’s IT solutions division

badarrow Brein Matturro Profile: Brein Matturro

Avnet Inc. today announced that it will acquire the IT solutions division of Acal plc., a strategic move that pushes Avnet’s distribution channels further into Europe and shores up its storage offerings to customers in the European Union. 

Acal IT Solutions is a leading value-added distributor for storage area networking (SAN), secure networking and electronic document management products and services. Acal IT Solutions has operations in the UK, the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, France and Sweden, and the division will be integrated into Avnet Technology Solutions’ EMEA business, but not before the transaction is approval by Acal shareholders and EU merger control clearance.

Avnet has outlined a strategy of growing our business by delivering complete solutions to our partners around the globe,” said Vincent Keenan, Avnet’s vice president and director, investor relations.  “The acquisition brings us new supplier relationships and ultimately more storage solutions for VARs in Europe by offering a broader line of products. For the U.S. there is no immediate impact,” Keenan added.

With the deal Avnet will assume an additional 2,000 Acal resellers and system integrators as well as 180 experienced personnel that design and install complex storage networking systems and document management requirements.

Acal IT Solutions markets a wide range of storage networking, networking and fibre channel products from several manufactures including Brocade, Cisco, Emulex, Juniper and Qlogic and document management products from Canon, Fujitsu and Kodak.

“The acquisition does not specifically impact the cost of storage products, but does give Avnet’s partners in
Europe the opportunity to offer a wider variety of complete storage solutions to their customers, potentially increasing their revenue and growth,” Keenan said.

Another benefit to Avnet will be Acal IT Solutions’ Headway Technology Group, which focuses on document management and storage with a portfolio of products including document capture software, scanners, optical, CD and DVD storage hardware and software and tape backup solutions.

Additionally, the acquisition will bring to Avnet a value-added services unit that provides network infrastructure planning,  implementation and training as well as technical support.

Acal IT Solutions’ revenue was approximately $200 million in the fiscal year ended March 31, 2007.


September 27, 2007  11:58 AM

Microsoft Brings Dynamics Into One Support Fold

badarrow Barbara Darrow Profile: badarrow

Continuing its enterprise business applications push, Microsoft has pulled its Dynamics ERP solutions into its overall Premier Support program.

That means if a VAR’s customer already has Premier support for Office, Windows, SQL Server etc., that customer can now add Dynamics ERP and CRM to that single contract. That means one process, one contract, one technical account manager (TAM) instead of more than one.

This is just the latest in a series of baby steps Microsoft has taken in the past few years to push its Dynamics lineup—Axapta,
Great Plains, Navision and Solomon—into even its largest customers.

Those product lines –the official names are Dynamics AX, Dynamics GP, Dynamics SL and Dynamics NAV–initially targeted the heart of the SMB market. That left Microsoft free to pursue collaboration in enterprise accounts with SAP. Starting two years ago, the company started to shift that message, http://www.crn.com/it-channel/198000298  incrementally adding fuel to the fire, and most recently at its Worldwide Partner Conference to parse out where it will collaborate with and compete with SAP, as well as other big software players.

Currently, of all the Dynamics products, only CRM is included in volume enterprise Agreements (EAs). That could change, however.

Barbara Darrow, a Boston-area journalist, can be reached at badarrow@comcast.net.


September 25, 2007  8:46 AM

Microsoft releases Windows Server Virtualization preview

Bcournoyer Brendan Cournoyer Profile: Bcournoyer

Microsoft partners eager to start working with Windows Server Virtualization (WSV) now have their chance.

The Inaugural Release Candidate (RC0) for Windows Server 2008 is available for download, and it includes a community technology preview of the Windows Server Virtualization hypervisor, code named Viridian. Microsoft will use feedback from the preview to make improvements between now and the full release of Server ’08, which is scheduled to ship with WSV sometime early next year.

In a recent SearchITChannel.com story, Microsoft value-added resellers (VARs) and systems integrators (SIs) said Microsoft will be able to manage its hypervisor and support its applications better than market leader VMware can. They also said VMware’s shift in its revenue model, away from its hypervisor and more towards services, will help Microsoft increase its server virtualization market share.

The availability of RC0 for Server ’08 isn’t the only news coming out of Redmond in the past few days. Microsoft also made available the Windows Media Services 2008 RC0 and a community technology preview of the Internet Information Services 7.0 Media Pack. The Windows Vista Service Pack 1 (SP1) Beta was released to about 12,000 testers, too. And of course, the wildly anticipated “Halo 3″ hit shelves at the stroke of midnight today.


September 24, 2007  9:58 PM

MSPAlliance launches first vendor accreditation program

Bcournoyer Brein Matturro Profile: Brein Matturro

As the MSPAlliance kicked off its fall managed services conference in San Jose, Calif., the organization announced the launch of its vendor accreditation program (VAP) for the managed services industry.

Designed by MSPs as a benchmark for vendors who sell to the MSP community, vendors that earn the VAP seal will have shown that they have positive channel practices, product research and development, financial stability and MSP customer satisfaction.   

“It is a benchmark system for MSPs to evaluate vendors,” said Charles Weaver, president of the MSPAlliance. “Vendors entering the program must have at least three MSP specific references and it’s basically a seal of approval for those vendors who have a specific interest in selling to the managed services global community,” Weaver added.   

Among those that have received accreditation under the new program are: Intel, SilverBack/Dell, Asigra, Untangle, XRoads Networks, LiveCargo and N-able. 


September 24, 2007  4:27 PM

Security: Without information, it’s nothing

Heather Clancy Heather Clancy Profile: Heather Clancy

I saw a provocative presentation earlier this month by Dennis Hoffman, a senior vice president for RSA, the security division of EMC. Hoffman really brings a no-nonsense, solution-centric mindset to the whole security conversation, refreshing in someone who represents a product vendor and (understandably) is trying to sell more products. His thinking is even more refreshing when you consider that Hoffman gave this speech on behalf of a VAR (Network Computing Architects) to a bunch of said VAR’s customers. Talk about a readymade pitch opportunity.

Here’s how the argument goes. For a long time, the accepted practice for anyone addressing a security problem has been to look at creating some sort of boundary that keeps people who shouldn’t have access to information from being able to see it, steal it, use it, alter it or otherwise mess with it. Put up a wall, and keep the bad guys out!

Continued »


September 24, 2007  3:42 PM

Facebook face off: Microsoft takes on Google again

badarrow Barbara Darrow Profile: badarrow

The Wall Street Journal reported Monday afternoon that Microsoft wants a piece of the Facebook franchise. (For those without a Journal subscription here’s a related account.)

Microsoft wants to buy a stake in the popular social networking site which quickly grew beyond its college kid roots. Such an interest is yet another potential area of contention with Google, which also wants a piece of Facebook.

The Journal and others have reported that Microsoft, Yahoo, Google have all expressed interest in Facebook and some have even pitched an outright acquisition although it is believed that Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg would like to take the privately-held company public.

Continued »


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