Channel Marker

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

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. []

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August 1, 2007  3:08 PM

VARs to increase business with NetApp, report says

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.  

August 1, 2007  2:32 PM

Distributors expand storage offerings

Brein Matturro Profile: Brein Matturro

This week two major distributors of storage products have made two separate announcements that deepen their ties and strengthen their storage strategies as they make available storage products to their resellers.

Avnet Technology Solutions, a division of Avnet Inc, has signed an agreement with VMware to offer US value added reseller partners VMware products for desktop and server virtualization.   The agreement will make available to resellers VMware products based on server and platforms from HP, IBM, and Sun.

Avnet executives said they have invested in their reseller partners to help them deliver IT virtualization solutions to customers that have embarked on consolidation projects.  Avnet officials also said their partners can tap into the company’s network of vertical markets where virtualization opportunities exist.

In a separate announcement Ingram Micro’s new Infrastructure Technology Solutions (ITS) division has expanded its relationship with EMC and will now offer its partners the EMC CLARiiON, EMC Celerra networked storage systems, and the EMC Centera content addressed storage system.

Ingram Micro already provides EMC’s RSA security solutions, EMC Insignia products for Small and Medium Businesses (SMB), and EMC’s Backup & Recovery Software Solutions.

As Ingram Micro’s ITS division seeks to push EMC products into the market, the company has said it will recruit net new EMC partners to help EMC products gain a greater traction in developing markets  such as the blade server market.

August 1, 2007  12:27 PM

Forget “Crossing the Chasm;” future is for VARs who can cross the generation gap.

Heather Clancy Heather Clancy Profile: Heather Clancy

Note to self: Acquire notebook computer before next business travel commitment in early September. Filing blogs from an iPhone distinctly not fun.

Remind TechTarget team to super-duper spell check this.

How do teens and 20-somethings cope with texting, which is like water torture to me?

But more on generation gaps in a sec… Emerging for the next phase of my channel journalism existence in my not-so-favorite place (Las Vegas)

I HAVE run into some of my favorite solution providers (aka VARs) here at CompTIA’s 25th anniversary Breakaway event. Good to see you guys!

As is apt for a nostalgia-fest, the opening session here was one of those seat-squirmers intended to make you think outside your comfort zone.

In his session “The Extreme Future: The Top Trends That Will Shape The 21st Century,” futurist James Canton touched often on a generation gap that is being exacerbated by technology.

How much have you thought about what your customer will look like in 2015? Not to mention your employees and maybe even your boss!

Note to you: Why are you waiting?

Some of my friends think they can squelch their kids’ interest in things like testing and Webkins and MySpace.

Can you say ‘lost cause?’

What we CAN do as parents and adults and business leaders is use our, ahem, perspective, to channel those new habits and ideas into solutions for the future. Think about how tech support, as an example, could be revolutionized by adding video.

Quicker resolutions. Empathy.

Anyway, even if it makes you feel “old” you need to start looking to the “youth boomers.” After all, why should they have all the fun?

Hey, thanks to the CompTIA organization for inviting me here to Vegas. More soon.
Sent from my iPhone

Business journalist Heather Clancy has been inciting dialogue in the high-tech channel for close to 18 years

August 1, 2007  12:12 PM

Microsoft partners pack Surface demos; too bad it won’t do them any good

badarrow Barbara Darrow Profile: badarrow

Microsoft Surface, the company’s prototype table computing device (that looks like a giant iPhone) caused quite a stir among Microsoft solution providers at its recent Worldwide Partner Conference debut.The thing—which allows direct manipulation of on-screen, er on tabletop icons—was demo’d most recently at last week’s Financial Analysts Meeting in Redmond, Wash., with Microsoft chairman Bill Gates working a video puzzle for the crowd.

One partner is smitten, foreseeing all sorts of real-world applications beyond the fun-and-gaming apps Microsoft has discussed.

For example, he sees it as a way for stranded airline passengers to re-route their flights. They slap their boarding pass on the surface, where the locator number is recognized and processed, and alternate routes planned, booked, seat assigned etc. etc.

Of course, that’s if Surface ships. And/or works. Remember, Gates and company have talked about “alternate user interfaces” since what seems to be the beginning of PC time. And what company has the coolest, most directly manipulatable (word?) device out there? Um, that would be Apple. The iPhone again.

Microsoft doesn’t help itself necessarily by hyping what’s not there yet. If you look at the Surface site here and click on “About Surface,” you might think you could drag yourself out to Best Buy to buy one this weekend.

“With Surface we can actually grab data with our hands, and actually move information between objects with natural gestures and touch.

Surface features a 30-inch tabletop display whose unique abilities allow for several people to work independently or simultaneously. All without using a keyboard or mouse.”

Sign me up. Whoops. Wait a sec. back to the site:

“Beginning at the end of this year (2007), consumers will be able to interact with Surface in hotels, restaurants, retail and public entertainment venues.”

Initial partners are Harrah’s, IGT, T-Mobile and Sheraton.

Everybody else, get in line.

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

August 1, 2007  8:08 AM

Channel news: Feds award $50B to 29 VARs; FCC gives Google some props

Brein Matturro Profile: Brein Matturro

U.S. awards $50 bln technology contract to 29 firms The U.S. government said on Tuesday it had chosen 29 companies to provide information technology products to federal agencies in a contract worth up to $50 billion. [Reuters]

F.C.C. hands Google a partial victory The Federal Communications Commission moved cautiously toward creating an open wireless broadband network as it weighed the interests of cellphone carriers and other contenders. [NYT]

IBM helps customers get a supercomputer on the cheap IBM ratcheted the world of supercomputing up a few notches in June with the Blue Gene/P, a system nearly three times as fast as its predecessor at a cost of $1.3 million per rack. But in anticipation of the Blue Gene/P, IBM dropped the price of the Blue Gene/L, to about $800,000 late last year and prompting sales of Blue Gene/L to more than doubling the first half of this year, compared to the second half of 2006. [NetworkWorld]

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July 31, 2007  11:28 AM

Good News, bad news For Microsoft Business Solutions

badarrow Barbara Darrow Profile: badarrow

Here’s an interesting nugget from last Thursday’s Microsoft Financial Analysts Meeting.

Jeff Raikes, president of Microsoft Business Systems, said the company’s business solutions effort (that’s ERP plus CRM plus related goods and services) surpassed the billion-dollar mark in the last fiscal year.

A spokeswoman subsequently confirmed that this is the first time the company has said that this business hit the magic billion dollar level: Up till last Thursday the word was MBS was “close to a billion,” she said.

The good news here is a billion dollars is a lotta dough. Even for Microsoft The bad news is that this is most certainly a revenue, not a profit number. And given some past publicly-stated ambitions for this group, a billion ain’t so perky.

Witness this quote from Orlando Ayala from June 2003 when he was head of Microsoft’s Small and Midmarket Solutions and Partner Group.

“…this asset, called the Microsoft Business Solutions asset, is $500 million. If we partner closely with our associates in the marketplace and deliver that great value to customers, we will see this business growing to be in the range of a $10 billion business by 2010. This is one of those areas where we see a lot of growth.”

Microsoft proponents would say that figure probably included “ecosystems numbers.” Although that’s not how it appears here. to be fair, company poohbahs started backpedaling from this prediction pretty much immediately.

The fact that Microsoft no longer breaks out MBS financial figures from the much-bigger Microsoft Business Division which includes numbers from the Office juggernaut speaks volume.

You can always bet when a public company becomes less transparent with a group’s revenue or earnings number, there’s a good reason for it. Remember how Oracle used to slam IBM for not breaking out its database numbers? Gee, now Oracle lumps database numbers in with middleware. Hmmm

Directions On Microsoft analyst Chris Alliegro thinks MBS is chugging along nicely, thank you very much.

“They’ve eked out a profit once or twice in the past” he notes. “Now I think CRM sales are good and the ERP sales are holding their own. I’d say they’re close to breakeven in this group. The four [existing] ERP products—that’s what’s keeping the business afloat. They let them acquire new customers and partners while figuring out the future offerings,” he noted. “From a financial standpoint, they can’t throw these things overboard.”

Speaking to analysts on Thursday, Raikes highlighted some other MBS factoids, claiming 21 percent growth in customer billing for MBS overall in FY 07. Dynamics CRM saw 50 percent growth for the year, and added 85,000 new customers in the most-recent quarter. “That,” he added pointedly,” is about the same as”

For full text of Raikes’ talk, see this Microsoft site.

Barbara Darrow is a Boston-based freelancer and can be reached at

July 31, 2007  9:28 AM

Trend Micro launches SaaS security platform

Bcournoyer Brendan Cournoyer Profile: Bcournoyer

Another security vendor is getting into the Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) business.

Trend Micro has released SecureCloud, a platform that offers messaging gateway security, hosted email security and botnet identification services. And the Cupertino, Calif.-based company is aiming SecureCloud at its channel partners: By using SecureCloud in conjunction with the Trend Micro Worry-Free Remote Manager, partners can remotely manage services for multiple customers from one hosted location. The company’s future plans for SecureCloud include the ability to manage customers’ gateways as well.

Trend Micro also says partners can scale SecureCloud to meet the needs of small businesses and large enterprises. Here’s the price structure:

Email Reputation Services Advanced (messaging gateway security): $6.80 per user for 250 users

InterScan Hosted Messaging Security Advanced (hosted email security): $28.50 per user for 250 users

Botnet Identification Service: 9 cents per user for 500,000 users

The SecureCloud announcement marks another shift towards managed services in the security market. In April, Symantec launched its Online Backup Service — its first in a planned series of SaaS offerings called the Symantec Protection Network. McAfee also offers security SaaS platforms, including its Secure Messaging Service and Security Alert Service.

Does the SaaS trend threaten value-added resellers, who see vendors and managed service providers hosting more and more of the work they’d typically do? Or does it present new opportunities? is working on a story asking these questions, but leave your comments in the meantime.

July 31, 2007  7:34 AM

Channel news: Oracle 11g testers speak up; Black Hatters show DB attack

Brein Matturro Profile: Brein Matturro

Oracle Database 11g beta testers speak up Oracle Database 11g beta testers have a lot to say about the system’s Real Application Testing and XML capabilities. []

Black Hat 2007: Researchers highlight new database attack method At this week’s hacker confab, expert penetration testers will demonstrate how cyberthieves can reach into corporate databases — without exploiting a specific software flaw — to steal credit card and Social Security numbers. []

Cisco backpedals: not planning to retire Linksys brand anytime soon CEO Chambers may have spoken prematurely about sunsetting the brand at a recent press conference. [eWEEK]

Continued »

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