Channel Marker

August 7, 2007  4:24 PM

The perils of partnering; Adobe, Kinko’s and Oracle’s four-letter word

badarrow Barbara Darrow Profile: badarrow

If anyone needs a nudge about the perils of partnering, the recent Adobe/Kinko/Fedex imbroglio is a wakeup call.

Smaller partners of big software companies have to look out for their self interest every second.

Here’s what happened:

Adobe Systems decided to put a pushbutton link to Fedex/Kinko in the latest version of its Acrobat software. That way a customer could create a document, format it with Adobe software, and send it paperlessly over the Web to Kinko’s for hard-copy output. Think of the courier mileage saved! For ease of use, it’s a lovely scenario.

One small thing: Kinko’s is a huge partner for Adobe, but so are thousands of smaller print shops who, by the way, compete with Kinkos.

And those smaller shops—who might in aggregate even own a bigger share of Adobe’s than Kinko’s—most certainly don’t appreciate the preferential treatment. (Wall Street Journal story here.)

When Adobe favored its large partners (Kinko/Fedex) over myriad smaller partners, it repeated similar miscues from the tech era.

It may be natural for a large software company to favor its largest partners, but it does so at great peril.

My favorite case in point: Oracle execs asked about that company’s partnering strategy invariably talk up Dell, which is a huge partner in that it bundles a lot of Oracle (and Microsoft and whatever) software on its boxes. What those Oracle execs repeatedly fail to understand is that Dell is one four-letter word to which every other potential Oracle channel partner views with nothing short of abhorrence.

Every time Oracle (or Microsoft or Acme Software) names the direct-to-customer, VAR-disenfranchising Dell as a preferred partner, blood pressures spike among the army of other Oracle partners. What some forward-thinking Oracle exec should remember is that when it comes to small businesses, these smaller solution providers with their hands-on capabilities often make a helluva lot better implementation partners than Dell. Or Kinko’s. Or whoever.

Addendum: two days after The Journal and others reported on the Adobe dustup, the company agreed to pull the offending button from Acrobat.

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

August 7, 2007  7:05 AM

Channel headlines for Aug. 7, 2007: Lenovo to sell Linux; Ubuntu chief attacks MSFT

badarrow Brein Matturro Profile: Brein Matturro

Lenovo to sell laptops with Linux Lenovo Group Ltd. , the world’s No. 3 PC maker, said on Monday it would start selling laptop computers preloaded with Linux software from Novell Inc. instead of Microsoft Corp.’s Windows operating system. [Reuters]

Ubuntu chief: Microsoft fracturing the open-source community Microsoft’s patent indemnity agreements with several Linux vendors are unsettling the marketplace, Ubuntu leader says. [eWEEK]

Survey: Cost of cybercrime reaches $7 billion A study by Consumer Reports finds cybercrime has cost U.S. consumers more than $7 billion during the last two years. [eWEEK]

Continued »

August 6, 2007  11:47 AM

SAP to launch ERP suite in September

badarrow Barbara Darrow Profile: badarrow

German ERP giant SAP has been mighty coy about its promised hosted ERP suite, aka A1S.

Well one tidbit has emerged (don’t ask how). The long anticipated product will launch in September. An SAP spokesperson would not comment on timing of any A1S launch.

Whether “launch” means actual service availability—as in a REAL launch or is a marketing ploy—merely an event to re-announce the plan and to promise availability for some future time is unclear.

Last April, SAP execs, clearly pressured by the SaaS boomlet that competitors have latched onto, demonstrated A1S to a roomful of users and a few reporters at SAPPHIRE 2007 in April.

At the show they said some customers and partners had access to an early “validation” stage of the service which offered “see it, try it, buy it” buttons for prospects.

SAP small and medium enterprise exec Hans-Peter Klaey said at that time said to expect volume readiness of A1S in early 2008.

Whatever the A1S timeline, it’s clear that the specter of hosted business solutions and the related software-as-a-service model have taken the established software providers by storm. Solution providers give Oracle’s hosted CRM On Demand a big thumbs up, for example, and say its $70 per user per month price is giving a run for its money among cost-conscious buyers.

Plus, they say, the Oracle (aka Siebel) product is much fuller featured than the stuff. Microsoft is readying a self-hosted (as well as partner-hosted) CRM Live bits for broad availability early next year. As of last month, Microsoft had not decided whether or not to self-host ERP, according to one Microsoft Business Solutions exec.

Some partners view these vendor-hosted options as a threat. Others maintain that a solution provider’s real value is in specialized domain expertise and customization skills which will be needed even if partners do not participate in the hosting play itself.

One SAP partner specializing in SMB implementations says he is interested in hearing more about A1S.

“Many larger organizations that are organized in such a way that an SaaS model makes sense for them and many of those organizations need a higher-end ERP than can provide,” he said.

Barbara Darrow is a Boston-area freelance journalist. She can be reached at

August 6, 2007  7:25 AM

Channel news: IRS gives away passwords; Red Hat Delays linux; IBM nails supercomputer deal

badarrow Brein Matturro Profile: Brein Matturro

Computer security problems found at IRS IRS employees ignored security rules and turned over sensitive computer information to a caller posing as a technical support person, according to a government study. [AP]

Red Hat delays release of Linux software Software maker Red Hat said it has delayed its August release of a version of its Linux software for personal computers. [NYT]

IBM near supercomputer contract The National Science Foundation is planning to award I.B.M. a $200 million contract to build the world’s fastest supercomputer in Illinois. [NYT]

Continued »

August 3, 2007  8:59 AM

Heather Clancy: Survival of the fittest – and how to be one

Heather Clancy Heather Clancy Profile: Heather Clancy

I never really pondered what Charles Darwin meant by the word “fit” until this week at the CompTIA Breakaway conference.

Certainly it doesn’t refer to “fit” in the sense that we use the term now — all buffed-up from sessions at the gym.

Darwin wasn’t talking about the smartest among us either.

Continued »

August 3, 2007  7:19 AM

Channel news: IPv6 a risk for vista; Home Server the next iPhone?

Heather Clancy Brein Matturro Profile: Brein Matturro

Black Hat 2007: Vista users urged to beware of IPv6 A researcher warns that attackers could make trouble for Vista users by exploiting Teredo, an IPv6 tunneling tool enabled by default in the latest Windows OS. []

Experts pick Windows security technologies to watch Network access control, remote attestation and virtualization are some of the best bets for better Windows security coming down the road. []

Could Windows Home Server be Microsoft’s iPhone? Is it too much to call Windows Home Server Microsoft’s iPhone? I think it’s likely the closest Microsoft will come to a product with built-in popular appeal. [All About Microsoft]

Red Hat delays release of Linux softwareSoftware maker Red Hat Inc said on Thursday it delayed its August release of a version of its Linux software for personal computers that would compete with Microsoft Corp.’s Windows operating system. [Reuters]

Continued »

August 2, 2007  11:53 AM

Sun to introduce low end storage products, exec. says

Heather Clancy Brein Matturro Profile: Brein Matturro

Sun Microsystems Inc. intends to introduce new products for the low end storage market including a new Linear Tape Open (LTO) offering in its fiscal year 2008.  The move is in reaction to poor sales of products that Sun sells to the low end storage market which contributed to the company’s dismal storage revenue performance in its fourth quarter.   

Bret Schaefer, Sun’s vice president, investor relations, outlined Sun’s storage plans during a call on Wednesday as he tried to put the best face forward on Sun’s surprisingly positive overall fourth-quarter results and dismal performance in its storage division.   

Sun’s storage products revenue for Q407 was $639 million  – a decrease of 10.4% compared to the same period last year.   Schaefer said the decline was the result of weakness in low end tape and disk sales and that Sun will have to turn its storage business into a more profitable position moving forward.  Schaefer touted to storage analysts the success of the Sun Fire X4500, otherwise known as the Thumper. Sun shipped nearly 20 Petabytes of Sun Fire X4500 in Q4 and is now on an annual billing run rate of $100 million.  Sun executives view the Sun Fire X4500 as the foundation for a new line of data warehousing appliance based on general purpose computing and open source operating systems.   

During Monday’s Q4 earnings call Sun CEO Jonathan Schwartz said Sun is also hanging its hat on its virtualization strategy, saying in Q4 the company began to see the impact of Sun’s virtualization investments with support for Solaris 10 containers and as of last month support for bundled virtualization giving customers the ability to buy fewer but more richly configured systems and storage on both Sparc and x64 platforms.

“We clearly see Solaris and its core virtualization properties as opening a world of new opportunity beyond computing,” Schwartz said on Monday. 

August 2, 2007  7:55 AM

Who should have a say in product development?

Heather Clancy Heather Clancy Profile: Heather Clancy

I was fascinated to learn during a Breakaway panel discussion Wednesday (during CompTIA’s Las Vegas conference) that managed service tech company Autotask had a college intern sit on on the design meetings for a recent upgrade to help keep the company on point.

Autotask CEO Bob Godgart relates this individual shared some pretty strong opinions that altered radically the company’s interface direction.

Likewise, IBM Software channel exec Kevin Hopper reveals that while one of its teams was debating recently how to set up a formal feedback mechanism for a new product, one engineer took matters into his own hands, created a wiki and incited comments before there could even be a formal planning meeting.

Which got me to thinking about two things. First, how closely are VARs including their customers in the design of repeatable solutions?

Continued »

August 2, 2007  7:39 AM

Channel news: Black Hat updates — making Mozilla save and VoIP risky

Heather Clancy Brein Matturro Profile: Brein Matturro

Making open-source browsing safe for the masses Black Hat: A short conversation with Mozilla’s ‘chief security something or other.’ [TheReg]

Apple releases fixes for Mac OS X, iPhone vulnerabilities Apple Computer has released software patches fixing critical vulnerabilities in Mac OS X and its newly released iPhone. []

Black Hat 2007: VoIP security reaches tipping point VoIP security is as bad today as it was a couple years ago, industry experts say. But PGP creator Phil Zimmermann thinks his new Zfone software will help turn the tide. []

Continued »

August 1, 2007  3:08 PM

VARs to increase business with NetApp, report says

Heather Clancy Brein Matturro Profile: Brein Matturro

If a survey of 15 VARs is a good indication, Network Appliance products are not only selling above plan, the NetApp partners selling them are shifting more of their sales efforts toward the NetApp products.  

In a study published today, Robert W. Baird & Co. reports that all but one of 15 NetApp partners surveyed are either on or above their quarterly sales targets.  NetApp’s indirect channel represents more than 60% percent of the company’s revenues.   

Based on the interviews with NetApp partners — with a combined annual revenue of $1.8 billion –NetApp’s long-term competitive position remains solid.   

The report also predicts that EMC’s new product offerings – which are designed to compete directly with NetApp — are likely to put greater competitive pressure on NetApp, but won’t be enough to curb NetApp’s growth rates of between 20% and 25% per year. 

NetApp is growing roughly three times faster than the industry largely due to the company’s easy-to-use solutions and its commitment to a single operating system across product families which translate to the technology managing more storage with less people, the Baird report said. 

NetApp stands to make further gains from its two-year-old OEM agreement with IBM.  Under the agreement several NetApp products are re-branded and distributed by IBM.  The agreement will further drive incremental growth and distribution of NetApp’s products through IBM’s global channels, the report said.  

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