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.
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.
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.
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.
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
The NY Times reports that Radio Shack has laid off 400 employees, and notified them by e-mail. The electronics retailer (and HP and Sprint/Nextel retail channel partner) cut the jobs mostly from its headquarters staff; it has also closed close to 500 stores has consolidated its distribution centers and product lines.
Aside from the HR faux pas, Radio Shack has been relatively savvy about how it uses technology to drive the company. But the company is suffering for the same reason that many small VARs are suffering–what was once a business that thrived on upgrades and tweaks and personalization has become a commodity business that is increasingly dominated by big box retailers and manufacturer direct sales.
Radio Shack’s move toward sales in stores based on a more broad appeal may have made sense a few years ago, but based on personal experience, I’m betting that it’s cut down on their retail foot traffic. In the past year, I’ve stopped going into stores because they no longer carry the kinds of cables, adaptors and other techie niche products that used to pull their core audience in–which in the past they had successfully converted into larger sales. All that specialty stuff is online now — which doesn’t help them any, because the whole reason Radio Shack got my business in the past was convenience (their ubiquity meant I could find one close by) and instant gratification (I could always get it cheaper someplace else, but I’d have to wait).
In other words, Radio Shack has picked the wrong customers to focus on, and the wrong way to interact with its best customers. Strikes one and two. How good are you at identifying your most potentially profitable customers, and making yourself indispensable to them?
Realizing that (a) delays in Vista have dampened revenues, (b) customers probably won’t widely adopt Vista for business use until at least Service Pack 1 (or maybe SP 2), and (c) there was increasingly large potential for mass attrition among some trailing-edge customers from the Microsoft brand to one of those free operating systems that run well on legacy hardware if they didn’t do something, Microsoft has extended its Custom Support Agreement program to provide for at continued support of Windows NT (paid) support for large customers. The same is true of Exchange Server 5.5, and Windows XP Service Pack 1, which were both due to be dropped from support shortly.
The long life of Windows NT in some particularly conservative markets has certainly surprised (and probably distressed) Microsoft, which attempted to pull all life support for NT a few years ago but extended the lifecycle of Windows NT due to popular outrage/demand in 2002. That extension was supposed to end at the conclusion of this year.
But now, laggards with applications that absolutely require Windows NT 4.0, XP SP1, and Exchange 5.5 will be able to pay for continued patches and technical support from Microsoft — at a sharply increased price, as support pricing is shifted to a per-device basis. As a result, the ROI calculators of many customers still stuck in the 90’s may become a little more upgrade-friendly. But Microsoft is “all about customer choice”…
On his Cisco Blog. Jeremy Cioara provides a blueprint for an inexpensive testbed network for practicing for the CCNA exam. Check it out, Cisco-ites; it’s a thing of beauty.
Ed Bott on ZDNet reports that Microsoft accidentally released pricing for Vista on its Canadian website. The pricing is also now visible (at least as I post this) on Amazon.com.
Microsoft had been rumored to be close to sending out Release Candidate 1 for Vista. This would seem to confirm that. Amazon is taking pre-orders now for delivery in January.
Based on the pricing shown ($300 for a Business license? $200 for an upgrade?), I don’t think mass early adoption will be much of a problem for the channel. On the contrary, Microsoft seems to have made pushing this puppy out to its installed base through the channel an extremely low priority by setting the bar so high…or maybe they need to charge more to make up for the revenue they lost from delays?
With Eduardo starting to puff its way toward Florida, Orlando-based Vlad Mazek, the CTO of managed infrastructure service provider Own Web Now Inc., has come up with a quick-and-dirty disaster recovery plan that can be executed in under an hour for $150. The key elements: a prepaid cell phone, a Skype Dialin voice mailbox, an analog phone (for the “ride-it-out warrior”, says Mazek), and a disaster blog for coordination of staff.
After my experience with a no-warning loss of all Internet connectivity a few years ago, I can add the following things to that list: