Channel Marker

February 27, 2008  2:06 PM

QB Steve Young makes splash at HP

badarrow Barbara Darrow Profile: badarrow

HP brought in NFL Hall of Famer Steve Young to speak to the partner faithful bright-and-early Wednesday morning. And he did not disappoint. Some 1,000 or more partners were in Las Vegas for the annual partner conference and a pretty good number showed up for Young.

Peering out at the darkened hall, Young noted the obvious: “A 9 a.m. talk at Caesar’s Palace and there are people here? Was attendance mandatory?”

Young said his speaking gigs are relatively easy given the prevalent jock stereotypes, and the low expectations they engender.  “If I can string two sentences together, people think, ‘Hey! Not bad.”

Who knew that aside from his Super Bowl MVP and top quarterback rankings Young is also a lawyer? And a big philanthropist? Not me, but then again, baseball’s my game.

Young followed printer kingpin Vyomesh Joshi who issued a call to arms to a pretty fair subset of the 1,100 partners in attendance for his 8 a.m. keynote.

“If you’re in hardware, get into supplies. If you’re in hardware and supplies, get into services,” Joshi said

Joshi, often known as VJ, painted a picture of a whopping $280 billion market for printing and imaging from the home devices to huge commercial printers that use ink by the liter.

The Scitex wide-format machines that print signs for Times Square and similar venues soak up liters of ink. “Not ccs, liters. I love liters,” Joshi joked to the early morning crowd.

Conversely , he also touted HP’s recycling and green printing efforts.

He estimated the worldwide enterprise printing and image market to be about $53 billion. In that segment, HP reserves 900 named accounts for its direct focus. He cordoned off about 4,000 accounts in “named territory” accounts and the additional 8 million SMB accounts which the company hopes to attack with partners.

“We will be consistent and clear. We will not go after those 4,000 accounts, we’ll provide the names and help plan for them but for those 4,000 accounts we need your help.”

The vast majority of printing remains analog. Translating all of that to digital “where HP can play” is a huge opportunity. And for that to happen, partners need to help HP persuade IT departments to network all their printers and copiers, he said. That infrastructure work is another opportunity for VARs.

Joshi then gave way to the former San Francisco 49er great .

Ensuring attendees left on a high note, Sheryl Crow played Wednesday night. Some of us couldn’t be there — flying out of lovely 70-degree-and-sunshine-Vegas weather back to the frozen Northeast tundra. But according to second-hand accounts, Crow was stellar.

Barbara Darrow can be reached at

February 26, 2008  10:29 PM

Craving managed services stats and best practices? CompTIA wants to help

Heather Clancy Heather Clancy Profile: Heather Clancy

With most consumers of information technology expected to ratchet up their spending on managed services this year, the Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA) has started a Web site intended to aid VARs and resellers figuring out whether the business model is right for their own company. Some long-time managed services advocates, like my friend Oli Thordarson from Alvaka Networks, a 25-year industry veteran who made the switch a number of years back, are even blogging there!

The site, FocusOnMSP, will feature news and research about managed services, online forums, a managed services vendor directory and case studies. But the big draw will probably be the CompTIA Managed Services ROI Tool, which is a calculator that MSPs can use in helping make sales presentations. Check it out.

Heather Clancy is an award-winning business journalist and channel communications consultant with SWOT Management Group. You can reach her at

February 26, 2008  7:30 PM

Bill Gates here, Linking in

badarrow Barbara Darrow Profile: badarrow

Bill Gates is Linked In.

And on Thursday you too could be connected to the Microsoft maestro

This according to email from the LinkedIn spokespeeps:

“This Thursday, Bill Gates, Chairman of Microsoft, will post a question on LinkedIn. His objective is to communicate with LinkedIn’s base of over 19 million professional members, in order to expand his own expertise on how technology can be better utilized for charitable causes. All LinkedIn members will be able to post answers/suggestions to Bill’s question in real time.”

Here’s BillG’s LinkedIn page.

Note: Bill and Melinda only have two connections.

Barbara Darrow can be reached at

February 25, 2008  11:08 PM

Hurd to partners: HP will fix problems, but attach rates must rise

badarrow Barbara Darrow Profile: badarrow

Hewlett-Packard has logged robust growth but could do better, especially in the U.S. and in SMBs, HP CEO Mark Hurd said Monday.

Kicking off HP’s annual Americas Partner Conference (APC) in Las Vegas, Hurd (hoarse with a cold) also disputed the notion of some partners that the company wants them to be exclusive to HP while HP continues to play the partner field.  

It was clear (as if there could be any doubt) that Hurd has heard the partner complaints: a balky rebate program; lagging storage lineup; channel conflict.

Bottom line, he reiterated, is that HP partners need to sell more HP gear into their accounts. That means an HP partner who sells servers should try to sell servers plus (HP) storage plus (HP) switches. You get the idea.

HP is working to resolve these issues he said, acknowledging that the company can be challenging to work with.

“I’m not going to tell you to be exclusive [but] I also don’t want to be a loss leader [in cases] where our brand goes out in a  Proliant with someone else’s memory. We don’t make much margin on low, stripped units…frankly we created some of this problem ourselves” when HP stressed unit sales in figuring out partner remuneration.

The goal is fatter, more margin-rich solution sales. And thus HP echoes similar themes from IBM, from Microsoft, from Oracle.

All of these companies want to widen their footprint in existing accounts while adding net-new customers.

Some partners see these tactics as one-sided in the vendor’s favor, if not a one-way street

HP has grown from $80 billion in sales in 2004 to $105 billion in three years. Hurd said outside analysts expect the company to hit the $111 to $112  billion mark this year.

Sixty-nine percent of HP’s business comes from overseas, and Hurd wants to see the company increase strength in the U.S.

And the bulk of its sales has been and will remain through the channel.

But HP faces its own risks. Partners frustrated with what they see as non-competitive storage offerings signed on with EqualLogic for its iSCSI storage expertise only to see Dell buy that company and are now faced with the prospect of Dell as a vendor partner. Still, with Dell making channel friendly noise, some are disposed to give it a try.

A few partners said they had hoped HP would buy EqualLogic and are now hoping it’ll make another move on Lefthand Networks or another iSCSI player to bolster its storage.

Barbara Darrow can be reached at

February 25, 2008  10:42 AM

Yahoo saga takes spotlight off Server ‘08 launch

Bcournoyer Brendan Cournoyer Profile: Bcournoyer

Microsoft is doing its best to hype this week’s “Heroes Happen Here” launch event for Windows Server 2008, but the company’s pursuit of Yahoo is still stealing the headlines.

Now in its fourth week, the soap opera continues to take new twists and turns. Todd Bishop’s Microsoft Blog reported Thursday that Bill Gates, in comments made last July, said he saw no value in acquiring Yahoo. Now he sees so much value that his company is willing to spend $44.6 billion. That’s a drastic shift that will fuel even more questions about the motives and strategies in Redmond.

Around the same time that news broke, Microsoft evangelist Anand Iyer posted a response to Yahoo employees who are “disappointed that they’d be working for Steve Ballmer.” Iyer stopped just short of going on YouTube and tearfully yelling, “Leave Steve alone!” But he did heap praise on his boss, including these gems:

  • “Every word coming out of his mouth has the potential to change the world in some way.”
  • “Ballmer is probably the most intelligent, tactical and loyal person I’ve ever known.”
  • “I totally respect the man.”

The next day, Microsoft released an internal email by Kevin Johnson, president of its Platforms and Services Division, addressing Microsoft’s goals, integration strategy and the prospect of layoffs. And then two more Yahoo stockholders sued the company and its board of directors for rejecting Microsoft’s bid.

The Yahoo saga is clearly drawing outsiders’ attention away from other Microsoft news. But the real trouble for Microsoft will come if Yahoo becomes a distraction internally.

February 22, 2008  4:02 PM

PR-mageddon! for the week of Feb. 22

Bcournoyer Brendan Cournoyer Profile: Bcournoyer

PR-magdeddon! is a new feature here on Channel Marker, where we call out vendors for press releases that aren’t exactly the most clear and concise things in the world. Check out last week’s debut if you missed it and then read this week’s worst offenders. If you’re brave enough to try and decipher what these press releases mean, leave a comment.

Red Hat
CSC Standardizes Nordic Linux Hosting Services on Red Hat Solutions, Feb. 20: “CSC has also implemented the Red Hat Network Satellite Server systems management platform for a unified and centralized management, administration and provisioning  model for its Linux systems.”

Oracle Unveils New Release of Oracle Identity Manager, Feb. 20: “A component of Oracle Fusion Middleware, Oracle Identity Manager is a user provisioning and administration solution that enables organizations to automate the process of adding, updating and deleting user accounts from applications and directories; and helps improve regulatory compliance by providing granular reports that attest to who has access to specific data, resources and information.”

Hobby Lobby Turns to SAP to Help Build Its Future, Feb. 20: “Demonstrating ongoing leadership in providing innovative solutions to retailers worldwide, SAP America, Inc., a subsidiary of SAP AG (NYSE:SAP), today announced that Hobby Lobby has selected SAP to provide a stable, predictable solution platform and a clear solution road map to help the company manage operations and continue to grow successfully.”

Symantec Backup Exec 12 Delivers Certified Data Protection for New, Existing Windows Systems, Feb. 19: “Backup Exec 12 rapidly restores data from a single pass backup with patent-pending Granular Recovery Technology, which obviates the need to run mailbox backups to recover individual Exchange emails, and makes it easy to restore SharePoint, SharePoint Services, and Active Directory data-from documents to user attributes and properties-in seconds.”

February 22, 2008  11:25 AM

Paul Maritz takes his Pi to EMC

badarrow Barbara Darrow Profile: badarrow

EMC is buying Pi Corp., and Pi’s founder, Paul Maritz, will now head EMC’s software-as-a-service effort. The news was reported by The New York Times and others.

And it is extremely interesting news. Maritz was a well-regarded top Microsoft exec for 14 years before taking his act on the road.

In its earlier “about” statement on the company Web site , Pi said its “next generation software environment” was expected to be available in both “free (open source) and licensed forms.” That open source verbiage is now only viewable in a cache. Hmmm.

Note: Pi ‘s environment was going to help “users create, repurpose, store, share and access personal information in novel ways.” (Personal Information = PI. )

Barbara Darrow can be reached at

February 21, 2008  12:27 PM

EC to Microsoft on interop: Show me

badarrow Barbara Darrow Profile: badarrow

Prove it.

The European Commission has heard it all before when it comes to Microsoft’s vows to be more interoperable and generally better behaved than in the past. Basically, Microsoft has never won good marks in the “works well with others” category, at least in the eyes of European regulators.

Microsoft’s latest interoperability  efforts — were outlined today by Steve Ballmer, Ray Ozzie, Bob Muglia and Brad Smith on a conference call. And the moves appear to be pretty aggressive.

But the EC appears unmoved.

In a statement posted to its Web site, the EC says it’s heard all this before.

Money quote:

“The European Commission takes note of today’s announcement by Microsoft of its intention to commit to a number of principles in order to promote interoperability with some of its high market share software products. This announcement does not relate to the question of whether or not Microsoft has been complying with EU antitrust rules in this area in the past. The Commission would welcome any move towards genuine interoperability. Nonetheless, the Commission notes that today’s announcement follows at least four similar statements by Microsoft in the past on the importance of interoperability.”

So there.

February 20, 2008  4:04 PM

Microsoft reorgs business solutions

badarrow Barbara Darrow Profile: badarrow

We’ve been waiting for shoes to drop over at Microsoft Business Solutions (MBS)—it’s been very quiet. Well, they’re dropping now.

Chris Caren has been named to lead MBS marketing, coming over from Office Business Applications. His direct reports are: Mogens Elsberg (ERP product management and marketing); Brad Wilson (CRM product and marketing); Kim Carnesale (cross-brand Dynamics marketing); Gayle Hoshino (pricing and services product management and marketing); and Paul Prokop (small biz marketing).

MBS vet Tami Reller had done across-the-group marketing but became CFO of the  Windows Platform & Services Group in December.

Terry Petrzelka, CEO of Tectura, a big MBS partner, took the news in stride: “Mogens, Brad, all those people used to report to Tami so this makes sense.:

Hal Howard gets responsibility for all ERP research and development. Darren Laybourn is moving to a new, as-yet-undisclosed Microsoft gig, according to e-mail from an MBS spokeswoman. Dan Brown will now head Dynamics NAV and Mobility teams.

<i>This post was updated Thursday morning with partner quote and Reller background.</i>

<p>Barbara Darrow can be reached at </p>

February 19, 2008  10:34 PM

Microsoft posts new SQL Server 2008 CTP

badarrow Barbara Darrow Profile: badarrow

The rolling pre- launches of the Windows 2008 “platform wave” continue apace a week before the February 27 launch event.

Microsoft made what it calls a feature-complete Community Technical Preview of SQL Server 2008 available for download on February 19.

Data compression, improved policy-based management, and integrated text search are all in there, a Microsoft said in e-mail. The first CTP went live in June of 2007.

Last month the company acknowledged (although it buried that tidbit in a blog’s fine print) that final release date for the database had slipped into Q3 2008. It had been promised in the first half of 08.

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