Channel Marker


September 12, 2006  4:32 PM

Physical Media (and Blockbuster) Are Dead, and You Can Profit By It

Brein Matturro Profile: Brein Matturro

If you’re one to bet on the success of new technology and the potential ruin of the old (and your presence in the reseller business is evidence enough that you are), put a few bucks on the tubercular demise of Blockbuster and the rest of the walk-in video rental industry.

Both Apple and Amazon have announced that they’re going to sell or rent downloadable movies in the near future.

That’s great news for those of us who don’t have the patience to wait for Netflix to deliver a movie and would rather eat burned popcorn from a malfunctioning microwave while watching reruns of Full House than step into another Blockbuster.

It’s also good for those of us who think On Demand would be great if it ever had enough Supply. Two new movies a week doesn’t provide a ton of selection, you know? So downloadable is the way to go.

Sure, there are the tiny problems that go along with any new approach. “What are you going to watch it on?” asks one colleague, whose imagination is unfortunately limited to what is technically possible, or at least practical. Handheld video units like Apple’s own iPod don’t have enough storage or a big enough screen for a full-length movie. Laptops it is, at least for now.

Continued »

September 12, 2006  3:26 PM

HP’s Dunn Steps Down Following Leak Investigation

Brein Matturro Profile: Brein Matturro

Hewlett-Packard announced today that Patricia Dunn, who chairs its board of directors, will resign and be replaced by CEO Mark V. Hurd, who will assume both titles.

Her resignation follows revelation of the methods HP investigators used to try to uncover the source of information leaks to the press from a member of the board of directors. The leak involved a CNET story describing a days-long retreat taken by top HP executives and board members to plan strategy for the coming months.

Dunn did launch the investigation, after deciding the leaked information could affect the price of HP’s stock, but did not supervise it directly because — as a board member — she was a possible target of the investigation.

Long-serving board member George A. Keyworth II, who confirmed that he was the source of the leaks, also resigned.

Among other methods, the investigators — some of whom worked directly for HP and others who were contractors — used a technique euphemized as “pretexting” to get access to phone records of HP board members and several reporters. Pretexters call phone companies and lie about their identities in an effort to have the otherwise-private phone records of a target given to them.
Dunn apologized in a published statement that said, in part: “Unfortunately, the investigation, which was conducted with third parties, included certain inappropriate techniques. These went beyond what we understood them to be, and I apologize that they were employed.”

In another published statement, Hurd promised he would take “action to ensure that inappropriate investigative techniques will not be employed again. They have no place in H.P.”


September 7, 2006  5:41 PM

New Slogan — HP:Subvert

Brein Matturro Profile: Brein Matturro

No one has ever accused major IT vendors of being role models. Microsoft gets the most public heat, but it’s far from the most loathed, or most unethical, in the business. Resellers, whose reward for having built a thriving market for some new product is to have the largest customers stolen by a direct-sales force more interested in bonuses than either the reputation or long-term growth of the products they sell.

Every once in a while someone pulls a real doozy, though; the kind of diabolity you’d never believe of an otherwise respectable company. Something so contemptible you’re sure the story has to have been exaggerated by a competitor. No one in their right mind would have done something like that, right?

This is one of those times. HP, driven to paranoid mania by a perfectly ordinary story revealing that the company’s top execs had sneaked off to a posh resort to put together a strategy outline for the next 18 months. From a reporting perspective it was a fine story; from a business perspective, the strategy itself is a yawner.

But HP chair Patricia Dunn got so ticked off she launched an investigation, against the advice of HP’s corporate governance guru, that eventually let to an HP contractor hacking into the private phone records of both board members and at least one reporter involved in the story.

Continued »


September 7, 2006  5:08 PM

Yes, security vendors play dirty, but how do you cope?

Brein Matturro Profile: Brein Matturro

It seems fairly obvious that vendors use security alerts to promote themselves and devalue their competitors, as addressed in this CRN article. And I imagine many channel folks can relate to the challenges that result, i.e. defending vendor products to their customers, separating the security alert wheat from the chaff and relating that info to their customers. But how you handle this challenge? I’d like your input. How do you manage security alerts? What is your process for analyzing them and communicating with your customers? Post your comments here or email me directy. Perhaps we can come up with some best practices.


September 7, 2006  10:00 AM

Companies waste money doing compliance manually

Brein Matturro Profile: Brein Matturro

Technology is not a regulatory compliance cure-all, but it does play an important role in compliance efforts. Technology enables the automation of processes that can otherwise cost companies time and money, as reported by SearchSMB.com:

In fact, according to a new survey of 132 finance and technology executives by compliance software vendor ControlPath Inc., 74% said their companies use mostly manual processes, such as spreadsheets and Microsoft Word documents, to comply with government regulations. Even more grim: 70% admitted they had multiple projects in place for each regulation, even though it’s redundant. Only 25% say they’re automated.

Companies are wasting valuable resources and, what’s worse, their efforts may not pass auditors’ scrutiny the next time around. As auditors become more seasoned with SOX, HIPAA, etc., their expectations for compliance will evolve. They’ll expect to see more reliable controls, and better integration between business and technical controls.  Sooner or later, an Excel doc isn’t going to make the grade.


September 6, 2006  11:18 AM

Another reason for disaster recovery plans

Brein Matturro Profile: Brein Matturro

When I hear technology media and PR folks discuss the Avian flu and disaster recovery, I chalk it up to FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt) tactics. However, the findings of a survey conducted by Forsythe Solutions Group points to a larger issue. Of the more than 75 senior IT and business continuity pros at Fortune 1,000 and other major US companies surveyed, only 35% are prepared to deploy more than 10% of their workforce remotely. Obviously, this would be a problem in the case of a national health crisis. But a severe natural disaster could also make telecommuting a necessity. And while we as a nation (fortunately) have not recently witnessed a pandemic event, we have seen what a terrorist attack and natural disasters can do to our businesses. So chalk the Avian flu up to one – of many – reasons companies still need to implement a disaster recovery plan.


September 6, 2006  10:29 AM

Intel Bloodletting Redux: Does It Matter?

Brein Matturro Profile: Brein Matturro

Intel will release another 10,500 employees into the wild as it attempts to reinvent itself. But the bloodletting in itself isn’t going to change the fundamental problems Intel faces: an inventory glut of processors that haven’t moved, stiff competition from AMD, and its new sidelines (like the poorly-branded Viiv consumer chipset line) have yet to really do anything for Intel’s bottom line.

And it’s not really clear what the impact of these cuts on the channel will be. About 5,000 of the people affected by the announcement are already gone, and it’s not clear where the other 5,500 are coming from. Its sale of its communications processors to Marvell doesn’t really directly affect resellers, and an earlier layoff of 1,000 managers in an effort to address “slow and inefficient decision-making” (announced in July) is still working itself out.


September 1, 2006  1:24 PM

No one way to sell wireless voice to SMBs

Brein Matturro Profile: Brein Matturro

According to a Yankee Group report, the range of sales channels into the SMB is wide for wireless voice. Factors such as the size of the company and service/device ownership (employee vs. employer) determines whether an SMB purchases directly from a vendor, non-company owned stores or the indirect channel (VARs, consultants). But the bottom line is, all SMBs prefer to have their wireless voice bundled with their telephony and Internet services on one bill. In the U.S., mobile providers operate separately from traditional phone companies. This article outlines other ways the channel can support the majority of SMBs.


August 31, 2006  5:33 PM

VoIP not just for SMBs

Brein Matturro Profile: Brein Matturro

VoIP is often touted for its benefits to SMBs, but a SearchNetworking.com article reports that enterprises are also showing interest:

According to Yankee Group, more than 50% of enterprise respondents in a recent survey called “The Hosted Opportunity” said they believe a hosted VoIP environment would meet their needs in the areas of lower capital costs, remote access, multi-site networks, technology refresh and scalability. Slightly less (more than 40%) weighed in with security, lower cost of refresh, control and manageability as reasons that a hosted solution better meets their needs.

This bodes well for the channel, especially as customers big and small recognize how outsourced VoIP can be customized to fit their specific needs and the role it can play in disaster recovery. The article goes on to describe how Verizon Business equipped two customers whose telephony needs were met by VoIP’s flexibility and simplicity.


August 31, 2006  4:53 PM

Would like to hear from you

Brein Matturro Profile: Brein Matturro

As Sean mentioned in his introductory post, the editors behind Channel Marker are preparing to launch a set of Web sites to meet the information needs of the technical folks who implement and support technical solutions as a service. I’m spearheading our efforts in the networking and security spaces. After nearly six years editing TechTarget’s SearchSecurity.com, I’m happy to expand my knowledge of the security industry by focusing on the channel and to take on a new subject area – networking. But enough about me. I want to hear from you.

I’ve been meeting with potential contributors and readers to find out what issues we should be covering in the networking and security spaces. So far, integrating heterogeneous network and security devices, security event monitoring for regulatory compliance and aligning IT infrastructure to business strategy, top the list. I’d also like your two cents. What common problems are you helping your customers solve? What challenges do you face in doing so? Feel free to comment here or send me an email. I look forward to hearing from you.

– Crystal Ferraro, Editor, SearchSecurityChannel.com and SearchNetworkingChannel.com


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