Channel Marker

November 14, 2007  3:54 PM

Chizen exits Adobe

badarrow Barbara Darrow Profile: badarrow

Here’s  another news nugget that bears watching.

Bruce Chizen is leaving his spot as Adobe next month after 13 years with the company. Shantanu Narayen, who is now president and chief operating officer, will take his slot.

Chizen rode herd on Adobe’s blockbuster buyout of Macromedia. That buy gave Adobe, already ubiquitous with its Acrobat reader and the PDF format,  even more desktop presence and mindshare with Macromedia’s Flash franchise.

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

November 12, 2007  5:46 PM

Cognos: Sold to IBM for $5B!

badarrow Barbara Darrow Profile: badarrow

 IBM Software has long made a big racket about how it’s an infrastructure player and would never ever, ever (again) compete with applications partners.

But now it’s buying Cognos for five billion big ones. That’s five billion. For Cognos! So those arguments are sounding pretty flimsy. Of course, IBM would (and will) argue that business intelligence and analytics are not applications per se. Yes, and you can probably fit a million angels on the head of a pin.

BusinessWeek’s headline summed it up:  IBM, Cognos, and the end of Best-of-Breed. Once again, Oracle CEO Larry Ellison, who has long said that best-of-breed was a goner, is proved right. Of course, as Bill Gates once said, Larry spent billions of shareholders’ dough proving that contention. But enough digressing.

A reporter pal could have one upped BusinessWeek with her suggested (but unused)  Cognos headline:  “Well, it needed killin’.”

 Of course IBM’s pledge of application agnosticism has long stuck in the craw of such “applications partners” as Information Builders and others. Many never bought the premise especially as the infrastructure of all the major players has crept up, up, up the application stack.
After  SAP bought Business Objects and Oracle bought up the rest of the known universe including Siebel and its analytics powers (Siebel had already bought nQuire) IBM must have figured it had to move. Don’t forget, Microsoft had its own buying binge snapping up Dundas technology along with Proclarity, ActiveViews, DeepMetrics, AssetMetrix (or parts of them) to beef up its BI portfolio.

So, as Cognos was the last BI player standing, it was only a matter of time. It has also been very closely aligned with IBM for years, especially once Microsoft started coming up the stack with its own reporting and analytics tools. In fact, IBM used to tout Cognos as a example of how it, unlike Microsoft and Oracle, does not compete with applications partners.

As SAP, Oracle, Microsoft continued their feeding frenzy, maybe it became an if-you-can’t-beat’em-join-em thing for IBM.

For  BI solution partners who’ve been in demand for their skills, will have to get used to playing with bigger and bigger partners.

Barbara Darrow, a Boston area freelancer, can be reached at  

November 12, 2007  2:29 PM

Got an IT job opening? Maybe you should take a chance on a vet

Heather Clancy Heather Clancy Profile: Heather Clancy

When I talk to solution providers about their biggest day-to-day operational challenges, hiring skilled technical personnel invariably comes up as urgent priority one or two. So it seemed appropriate to put on my patriotic cap for a moment on Veteran’s Day to mention a new program started by the Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA) to prepare returning war veterans for jobs in the IT field.

The effort, called Creating Futures, links would-be employers with military personnel who are leaving active service and transitioning back into civilian life. It is, in its purest form, a training program intended to help these individuals develop the skills they need to potentially snag one of these jobs. The program provides a skills assessment, scholarship opportunities, technical training sessions, certification testing, internships and job search assistance.

CompTIA says it has been running a pilot program in Jacksonville, Fla., since March that has aided 47 veterans to date. The organization’s goal is to offer training for up to 200 people in this particular geographic area, with an eye to duplicating the program in other large cities that are home to large numbers of transitioning military personnel who are leaving active service and reentering the civilian job pool. CompTIA is also offering online training to active personnel stationed in Germany, and it is working with organizations, including Wounded Warriors, to identify IT job candidates.

Even if you’re not a CompTIA member, it seems reasonable for solution providers to look toward this candidate pool to address their hiring needs. Got any success stories or tips for how you’re successfully developing personnel? If you’re a solution provider with something to talk about, e-mail Tech Target contributing blogger Heather Clancy at

November 6, 2007  10:59 PM

Dell seeks partner progress in EqualLogic buy

badarrow Barbara Darrow Profile: badarrow

Talk about strange bedfellows.

Dell’s  decision to buy EqualLogic, a company led by CEO Don Bulens, made some heads spin.

Bulens, before his stints at Radnet and Trellix, was the chief partner advocate for Lotus Notes. He was, in short, very much in tune with the needs of Notes partners (I was going to use the word ‘ecosystem’ but just couldn’t spit it out.)

He was a popular leader who helped engineer the shift of Notes from a direct-only sale to a partner sale. After he left there was considerable backsliding, but no matter.

The idea that Bulens, the ultimate partner guy, should ally himself with Dell which is seen as anything but, is mind boggling.

Also, Dell now has to balance its existing storage alliance with EMC with this new entry.  

Yeah, yeah, yeah. Dell et al. is trying to become more channel savvy and perhaps even partner friendly. Suffice it to say, I’ve heard that before.

Having Bulens and Equallogic aboard may help in that regard. Maybe.

Barbara Darrow, a Boston area freelancer, can be reached at  

November 5, 2007  9:53 AM

Consumer apps/services continue assault on business IT

badarrow Barbara Darrow Profile: badarrow

The blurring of corporate/consumer computing lines continues.

Any solution provider or integrator working with corporate clients (SMBs to enterprises) knows how there is simply no way to prevent consumer-oriented services (Napster, AOL or Yahoo instant messaging, YouTube, you name it) from penetrating the firewalls. Some of these beasts—Second Life leaps to mind—are even claiming that they have relevance inside the firewall.

Last week, Google took another step, backing what it calls a set of “open” APIs for social networking application development. No skin off Google’s teeth there: It’s really not a huge player in this Facebook/MySpace world. Yet. Why not declare yourself a player while claiming the moral high ground in a battle field where you’re barely a blip? Sounds positively Microsoftian.

Leading into that news, F acebook declared itself to be far more than a voyeuristic social networking site, but a for-real application development environment.

Anyway, solution providers know this poses a challenge—and an opportunity for them to help customers sort through these worlds and keep the customer as secure as possible.

An opportunity because these trends shift faster than Paris Hilton changes poses and a challenge because it may be hard to persuade clients to pay for expertise in this respect.

Barbara Darrow, a Boston area freelancer, can be reached at

November 2, 2007  5:13 PM

Who are the real tech buyers/decision makers?

Heather Clancy Heather Clancy Profile: Heather Clancy

Want to sell some a unified communications solution, skip the tech guys and start with the sales department.

Yes, yes, the idea that business executives will wield a larger decision over technology purchases has been kicking around the channel for several years now. But Mike Thompson, president and CEO of VAR Groupware Technology in Campbell, Calif., says the most relevant sales conversations are starting to happen outside of the IT organization. This is especially true for complex solutions such as unified communications, he says, because the easiest way to justify the investment cost is to talk to those who own or manage operational and facilities costs that fall outside the IT organization.

Of course, this means a different sort of marketing message, Thompson says. He’s investing in a multi-tiered one for unified communications that leans less on the tech specs of the Cisco equipment he sells and more on the tangible business benefits. One of the biggest head turners, he says, is the simple efficiency argument—especially when it comes to linking together organizations with several remote locations that want to look more professional.

Business journalist and channel communications consultant Heather Clancy welcomes your comments, ideas and gripes. E-mail her at

October 31, 2007  2:02 AM

NetSuite puts Ellison’s shares in ‘lock box’

badarrow Barbara Darrow Profile: badarrow

At last, someone at NetSuite (or maybe Oracle) has figured out that Larry Ellison’s stake in NetSuite is the conflict-of-interests outsiders have been flagging for years.

According to recent NetSuite filings, Oracle CEO Ellison will put his NetSuite shares into a “lock box” to be managed by a third party.

 The whole Oracle-NetLedger-NetSuite dance has been complex from the get-go.

Ellison funded the startup, then called NetLedger in 1998. Oracle at that time was primarily a database player and concentrated on large enterprise accounts. NetSuite’s fledgling online financial software consisted of applications for smaller companies.

Oracle itself then re-sold the resulting NetLedger product/service into SMB accounts. However, as Oracle launched a serious SMB attack on its own and spent billion-upon-billion (upon billion) to buy more applications, it was quickly apparent –at least to most of the sentient world–that Oracle’s own products were competing with NetLedger (by now NetSuite).

It was not unlike the “frenemy” situation between Oracle and, the pioneering CRM SaaS player.’s CEO Marc Benioff was a former Oracle exec and Larry protégé. Ditto NetSuite CEO Zach Nelson. Ditto, for that matter, NetSuite tech guru Evan Goldberg. Goldberg and Ellison co-founded Net Ledger in 1998.

Given Oracle’s apps hunger, there was lurking suspicion that Oracle may end up buying a Larry Ellison company. Yet another complication, especially as NetSuite keeps trying to go public. Several NetSuite partners (who also happen to be Oracle partners) have been wondering about this ownership situation for some time. Most shrugged it off as one of those Larry-being-Larry things.

Barbara Darrow, a Boston area freelancer, can be reached at

October 30, 2007  6:43 AM

Time to recalibrate your thinking about printing and imaging

Heather Clancy Heather Clancy Profile: Heather Clancy

Been prepping this week for a presentation I’m giving on behalf of my colleagues at channel consulting firm SWOT Management Group to Oki Data‘s solution provider advisory council (full disclosure on where my head is right now). So thinking quite a bit about printing and imaging. I know: Probably not your usual fare here at

In my days as a reporter, printers were, quite frankly, a bit overlooked as a coverage area. That is, until marvelous inventions like Adobe PostScript promised to pull these peripherals squarely onto the network and into the workgroup realm. The latest wave of innovation began when features from the office equipment world began to creep over—management software, scanner support and the like. In reality, if you sit back and mull the technology over a bit, today’s printing and imaging segment is one of those practice areas that could be a very logical, practical extension to your existing infrastructure practices in storage, security and collaboration.

Let me explain.

First, some market statistics. Gartner reported fairly recently that U.S. shipments of printers and copiers declined 4 percent in the second quarter. That is, printer sales declined 15 percent, but purchases of flatbed multifunction peripherals (MFPs) grew 19 percent compared with the second quarter of 2006. The color-enabled portion of this market is growing at a rate of 29 percent year over year, according to another market researcher, IDC. A related area, document scanners, is also posting respectable growth. Here’s some thoughts from market research company InfoTrends on the role of scanners. The transition to digital fax machines, of course, started happening years ago.

In my opinion, there are several dynamics driving this growth: new forms of business collaboration, as illustrated by software platforms such as Microsoft SharePoint; compliance regulations that dictate better document management policies and strategies; and the rise of Web 2.0-related portals that have made the job of managing content in both electronic and printed forms a whole lot more onerous. Of course, price points for MFPs have simply made the investment in these devices more worth it.

So how does this relate to something like storage? Think of printing and imaging as the front-end to the document management and workflow applications that have been slowly finding their way into business continuity and back-up solutions. You could even tie together a start-to-finish managed service: one that starts with an MPF, links into the appropriate software and archives accordingly, as business conditions dictate.

Similarly, protecting these documents with some sort of digital signature or encryption methodology could be a concern of your data security practice.

The fact that there are really no “standard” ways of handling documents, that every company’s workflow and retention strategy is probably slightly different, that this entire process really could benefit from ongoing management and services . These things make a printing and imaging solution look a lot more like an infrastructure practice than a commodity PC sale. Have you been thinking about it that way?

October 29, 2007  3:36 PM

Biztalk Next or ‘Oslo’ details coming soon

badarrow Barbara Darrow Profile: badarrow

Microsoft is getting ready to talk about BizTalk Server Next.

The product-to-be, code-named Oslo, won’t be out any time soon-sources said to look at 2009 or 2010.  The current iteration , BizTalk Server 2007 R2, which added EDI and RFID support, just shipped. 

BizTalk is Microsoft’s take on Enterprise Application Integration,. And, it is being positioned as a key component–along with SQL Server and Visual Studio–of the company’s overall application development platform. Visual Studio 2008 is due perhaps late this year but more likely early next. , SQL Server 2008  has been promised for delivery in the second quarter of CY 2008.

Microsoft’s BizTalk group has already parsed out  some component services and offered them as such. But the company has also said these services will not supplant the  BizTalk server SKU itself. 

Barbara Darrow, a Boston area freelancer, can be reached at

October 29, 2007  9:33 AM

Big personnel change in biz-apps world

badarrow Barbara Darrow Profile: badarrow

It’s been an active autumn among top-level business applications execs.

First, in a shake-up, Sage Software nuked a big part of its Americas leadership. Ron Verni and channel-and-strategy chief   Taylor MacDonald were gone as first reported  here.

And, also in mid-month, Oracle’s John Wookey, widely praised for his work integrating the PeopleSoft and Siebel goods into an overall Oralce portfolio took his leave as reported on this  blog and picked up by this one.

One shoe still to drop: where will   Tami Reller, who helped lead Microsoft Business Solutions chief end up? There is some speculation she could move to head one of Microsoft’s subsidiaries. Kiril Tatarinov now heads MBS

 Barbara Darrow, a Boston area freelancer, can be reached at

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