Channel Marker

July 26, 2007  3:53 PM

Is HP getting ready to swallow Bull SA?

Brein Matturro Profile: Brein Matturro

Published reports say Hewlett Packard Corp. is getting ready to buy  French systems integrator Bull SA for 720 million euros 7.5 euros per share.

Speculation on the buyout began when Capital Magazine reported that HP is in advanced discussions with Bull SA and CNN picked up the story.

Based in France, Bull SA provides system integration consulting, outsourcing, storage infrastructure, security solutions and software publishing. 

Among the company’s customers are firms in the banking, finance, telecommunication and manufacturing sectors. The group has operations in the United Kingdom, the United States, Netherlands and Germany.

A spokesperson for HP said the company would not comment on rumors of a Bull SA buyout.  “The company has nothing to add at this time,” the spokesperson said. 

The reports come in a week when HP announced on Monday the acquisition of software company Opsware Inc., paying $1.6 billion in cash.  By automating certain management tasks, Opsware reduces a company’s cost and complexity to run their data centers.  

On Monday HP also said it will acquire Neoware Inc., a company based in King of Prussia, Pa. paying $214 million, or $16.25 per share.  The acquisition will hasten the growth of HP’s thin client business. 


July 26, 2007  2:25 PM

IBM reorg aims Big Blue at SMB customers

badarrow Barbara Darrow Profile: badarrow

IBM has launched another reorg aimed at boosting sales of its hardware into SMB accounts.

In the name of simplicity and “ease of use” IBM is building a single partner-facing sales force to rep all of its Systems and Technology hardware brands, its Global business partner org and its Global technology Services Group.

This is all well and good. Partners have long (privately) complained about the difficulties of navigating the various teams and fiefdom’s at Big Blue and this could take a chunk out of that issue. IBM’s Systems and Technology broad hardware portfolio, its Global Technology Services Group and its Global Business Partners personnel will now be funneled into a single team into a single team that will present what IBM calls one unified face to business partners.

In that way, Joe Schmoe VAR theoretically wouldn’t have to deal with one rep for AS/400 (oops iSeries) another for Intel-based servers, and yet another for storage systems. That’s all well and good, especially if the designated team member actually KNOWS all those product lines.

But, knowing how complicated IBM remains; there’s skepticism that this partner interaction can ever get easy. Also, big gap here: The company’s Software Group is not included in the simplification plan, and some partners say it very much should be. Several say the Software group’s “Express” efforts – essentially a repackaging of Big Boy products like WebSphere Portals or DB2 for small and medium businesses — haven’t met expectations.

One major problem is vendor-mandated segmentation of enterprise partners is vs. SMB partners. IBM, like Microsoft, like Oracle, refuses to believe that even smallish VARs can have very big accounts. Instead they persist in pushing enterprise business to their hand-picked enterprise global integrators or worse yet, to their own services group.

Another issue: If you’re a partner, would you rather sell an “Express” product for a couple thousand dollars or a $30,000 enterprise product. You see my point

In its recent earnings call, IBM said software and services led growth in its overall 12 percent gain in net income. Hardware sale/income was relatively flat after currency adjustments.

With a resurging Hewlett Packard gaining ground in hardware and now bolstering its data center services by buying OpSource, IBM’s got some worrying to do both on the enterprise and SMB front.

Barbara Darrow, a Boston-area journalist, can be reached at


July 26, 2007  8:48 AM

Microsoft Live services, anti-Google strategy, leave partners out of the loop

badarrow Barbara Darrow Profile: badarrow

For Microsoft the question of whether to host or not to host remains a sticky one.

This week the company reiterated its hosting platform plans at HostingCon 2007 in Chicago and talked a bit about how the upcoming Windows Server 2008 and IIS7 will bolster hosting capabilities for partners and — no-brainer alert — for Microsoft itself.

While Google has hosted and managed its own services offerings from the get-go all by itself, Microsoft continues to walk a fine line between bringing hosting into its data centers and continuing to offer long-time hosting partners a robust platform for their services and software.

The company’s CRM Live and Office Live offerings are examples of how it wants to play all sides of the hosting game, on-premises delivery model.

Some of those partners compete directly with nascent Microsoft Office Live offerings and will continue to do so.

According to one long-time Microsft hosting partner: “We use Windows SharePoint Services as a platform so Microsoft is a platform and infrastructure partner. We develop on their APIs and leverage their ecosystem. That said, from an application and services perspective, we compete with Office Live which likewise runs on Windows SharePoint Services.”

Continued »

July 26, 2007  6:50 AM

Channel news: Apple profits soar; data loss at US .mil; Seagate to stop making IDE

badarrow Brein Matturro Profile: Brein Matturro

Apple profit soars 73% as sales rise The results exceeded analysts’ expectations as the company reported strong sales of iPods and Macintosh computers, as well as the sale of 270,000 iPhones. [NYT]

Data loss blights US military, Aussie bank, and Fox network Butterfingers all round. [TheReg]

Symantec sales up, but profits drop Norton suite secures revenue. [TheReg]

Continued »

July 25, 2007  8:57 AM

Another study shows end users’ lack of awareness

Bcournoyer Brendan Cournoyer Profile: Bcournoyer

I have a friend who works for an IT help desk. A few weeks back, an employee called him up and asked — and I quote — “How do I use the Internet?”

Now, a new study by Trend Micro is confirming what most people (especially IT help desk employees) already knew: A lot of end users are clueless about the technology they work with daily.

This study specifically focused on Web threats — malware from the Internet that can install malicious software, steal sensitive information and use up a computer’s resources. Of the 1,600 end users who responded from the United States, United Kingdom, Germany and Japan, just 54% said they were aware of such threats. Germany had the most aware users at 63%, ahead of the U.K. (57%) and United States (54%). Only 43% of Japanese users said they were aware of Web threats, but Trend Micro said that data may be wrong because “Web threats,” as a phrase, “is difficult to translate into Japanese and is not often used.”

The results show that awareness of Web threats is “slowly” rising, Trend Micro said. The results also indicated that Web threats are the third most serious IT security issue, behind viruses and trojans. Other threats that received mention were pharming, phishing and spam. In a press release, Trend Micro’s anti-malware CTO, Raimund Genes, said Web threats are “perhaps the greatest challenge to protecting the privacy of personal information and the confidentiality of corporate information.”

As vendors are wont to do with these kinds of studies, Trend Micro uses these results to push the need for “a multi-layered, comprehensive set of techniques … to address the newest class of threats” — in this case, the Trend Micro Web Threat Protection Strategy product.

July 25, 2007  6:49 AM

Channel news: Firefox URL bug supports malware; Sun exec charges Microsoft with “patent terrorism”

Bcournoyer Brein Matturro Profile: Brein Matturro

Mozilla confirms own URL handling bug ‘Turns out it’s a problem with Firefox as well.’ [TheReg]

Sun exec accuses Microsoft of ‘patent terrorism’ The efforts of Microsoft to pressure the Linux community over alleged and unspecified patents is akin to “patent terrorism”, according to Aussie executive for Sun Microsystems.

Near-feature-complete Visual Studio 2008 Beta 2 due later this week Microsoft plans to deliver the Beta 2 bits of Visual Studio 2008 (“Orcas”) later this week, according to Scott Guthrie, General Manager of Microsoft’s Developer Division. Meanwhile, the Redmondians have delivered a first pre-alpha of IronRuby, Microsoft’s implementation of the Ruby dynamic language.<!–[if !vml]–><!–[endif]–> [All About Microsoft]

Continued »

July 24, 2007  2:02 PM

A chance for the channel to compete with RFID

Bcournoyer Brendan Cournoyer Profile: Bcournoyer

The last few days have not been kind to radio frequency identification (RFID).

ABI Research reported today that Wi-Fi is “muscling in on RFID’s location-based services markets,” predicting that the market for Wi-Fi as a real-time location services (RTLS) provider will grow by more than 1300% over the next five years. That forecast came just four days after the managing director of Heavey RF, an Irish firm, issued his own report calling RFID “potentially one of the biggest technical blunders in history.”

The Heavey RF report says that RFID has a place in the market but will never fully live up to its hype because it is less reliable and cost effective than bar-coding. If you agree, that opens the door for a new technology in the RTLS market. Enter Wi-Fi, whose revenues in the market will increase from $59 million this year to $839 million in 2012, according to New York-based ABI.

“In the past, companies wishing to deploy RTLS had to buy proprietary RFID systems, inlcuding very expensive readers,” said Stan Schatt, ABI’s vice president and research director, in a statement. “But there is now such a large installed base of Wi-Fi equipment worldwide that Wi-Fi-based RTLS becomes cost effective for companies that had never considered it before.”

ABI recommends that vendors — including market leader Cisco and main competitors Aruba and Trapeze — work with channel partners who have RTLS experience to best take advantage of this new opportunity.

“It is a sophisticated solution that requires a knowledgeable reseller,” Schatt said.

ABI pointed out several benefits of Wi-Fi RTLS over RFID: Users that already have wireless networks don’t need to install extra cabling, and it utilizes specialized software to maximize its effectiveness. But there are also some problems with Wi-Fi RTLS compared to RFID, according to ABI: It’s “somewhat less accurate,” less secure and requires more wireless access points.

July 24, 2007  7:15 AM

Channel news: Hack exploits common coding error; HP buys 2 data pushers

Bcournoyer Brein Matturro Profile: Brein Matturro

New hacking technique exploits common programming error Researchers at Watchfire Inc. say they discovered a new technique that exploits a common dangling pointer error. []

H.P. making 2 purchases to push data Hewlett-Packard said it had agreed to pay $1.6 billion for software maker Opsware, giving a hefty payoff to Opsware founder, Marc Andreessen. [NYT]

Intel cuts desktop prices by up to 50% Aggressive 1333MHz FSB pricing strategy. [TheReg]

Continued »

July 23, 2007  7:06 AM

Channel news: New Symantec ‘bot tool; DoD records at risk; hack-for-sale market grows

Bcournoyer Brein Matturro Profile: Brein Matturro

Symantec bats botnets with new tool Symantec hopes customers accept AntiBot as a complimentary layer to the company’s other security offerings. [eWEEK]

US service personnel at risk of ID theft Half a million people’s records sent unecrypted. [TheReg]

Dirty e-Deeds done dirt cheap Password stealers, keyloggers, customized Trojans—you name it, it’s for sale, and the ROI boggles the mind. [eWEEK]

Continued »

July 20, 2007  11:37 AM

Microsoft financial results show Office cloud success, potential of other strategies

badarrow Barbara Darrow Profile: badarrow

After all the sturm und drang around Microsoft’s games and “software plus services” game plans at and after the Microsoft Worldwide Partners Conference last week, it still should come as no surprise to active Microsoft solution providers that the engine of the company’s growth and profit continues to be boring old Office and Windows.

All those billions cover a multitude of miscues. The $1-billion-plus-change charge Microsoft had to take on Xbox warranties for example.

The Microsoft Business Division (MDB) — home of Office — logged a hefty $3 billion in profit for the quarter ending June 30. That’s up from $2.5 billion for the year-ago period.

The client business, earned $2.8 billion for the period, up from $2.5 billion for the comparable quarter last year. Yikes.

Meanwhile, Entertainment and Devices, (games) lost $1.2 billion this quarter compared to a $423 million loss last year. Overall, Microsoft raked in nearly $4 billion in profits, compared to nearly $3.9 billion for the year-ago period.

One attendee of the recent Microsoft partner conference engaging in the “who will be the next CEO” game said that if people thought games-guy Robbie Bach could be a dark horse candidate, that billion-dollar write down might fix that, fast.

Meanwhile, speaking of Microsoft Business Division: That group now encompasses all the ERP and CRM products; so, with business apps all wrapped up with Office revenues, it’s gonna be tough to gauge the health of the ERP and CRM business going forward.

Also does anyone find it weird that Bob Muglia’s Server & Tools group is now in MBD? One former Microsoft exec says taking that from Kevin Johnson (president of the platforms and services division and former head of marketing and sales) frees the latter up to concentrate on executing the company’s search and advertising effort and make sure its purchase of online advertising agency aQuantive (another anti-Google tactic) bears fruit.

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