September 20, 2011

Initial Cloud Channel Summit Set, Focus on Market Opportunities

THINKstrategies Inc., a Wellesley, MA-based market researcher, said that it will hold its first Cloud Channel Summit on November 7, 2011 at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, CA, the focus of which will be identifying new opportunities in the cloud market for channel partners, officials said.

Organizers expect the event will attract some 200 executives from cloud computing companies and channel organizations. Rising Tide Media also is involved in organizing the conference.

Jeffrey Kaplan, THINKstrategies founder and managing director, said that the conference is geared toward defining the channel's role in cloud computing and providing best practices for channel partners and vendors to build profitable partnerships.

"There is a common misperception that the role of the channel will diminish as cloud computing grows, when in fact, the exact opposite is true," said Kaplan.

Kaplan said that cloud vendors will use the conference to increase awareness about their channel programs.

"If the cloud computing market is to thrive, cloud vendors cannot go it alone," he said. "They will need channel partners who can enhance their solutions, customize their capabilities and improve customer service by addressing the unique requirements of specific market segments."

Stephen Cho, Google Enterprise director, channel and business development, is slated to deliver the opening keynote in which he will speak about new channel opportunities in the cloud.

Additional speakers include Eileen Boerger, Agilis Solutions president; Peter Chase, Scribe Software Corp. founder and executive vice president, business development; Daniel Saks, AppDirect founder, president and chief executive. Kaplan also will address the attendees.

The conference will provide examples of cloud success stories, information on selling and supporting cloud services and leveraging Platform-as-Service (PaaS) and Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) options. Key topics to be covered in panel discussions include what works in winning channel programs, building and leveraging a cloud ecosystem, the economics of a winning cloud partnership, and building collaborative sales and support models.

Initial event sponsors include AppDirect, Agilis and Scribe.


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September 12, 2011

Solution Provider IDs Five Cloud Common Strategy Errors

Steve Pelletier, cloud solution architect at Logicalis Group, a $1 billion, U.K.-based IT communications service provider with 17 offices in the U.S., says that cloud computing's somewhat loose definition has led to "people not fully understanding the enormous opportunities" the technology offers.

In Logicalis' view, the inability of a company to articulate a sound cloud strategy leaves it vulnerable to flimsy plans and an underuse of the technology.

"If you ask 10 people to define 'the cloud,' you'll get 30 answers," Pelletier says.

"Cloud is a buzzword; you hear commercials and advertisements all saying 'Cloud, cloud, cloud,'" he says. "But it's not a well-defined term and that leads to people not fully understanding the enormous opportunities that cloud computing can offer their businesses today," says Pelletier.

"When businesspeople - even the most experienced IT pros - have a limited view of this nebulous term, 'the cloud,' it's hard for them to make the best decisions for their companies," he says.

According to Logicalis, businesses make five common mistakes that cause them to miss out on the full potential of the cloud, bypassing important services and savings in the process.

In constructing a cloud strategy, too many companies look mainly at the short term benefits instead of developing a longer-term strategy. Taking a longer view won't limit future capabilities and foster design limitations.

Secondly, companies should resist viewing the cloud as a way to acquire a single service. The cloud encompasses a wide variety of services such as platform-as-a-service, infrastructure-as-a-service, software-as-a-service, backup and disaster recovery-as-a-service, all of which can and should play a role in a company's cloud strategy.

Thirdly, companies that view cloud computing as the next evolutionary step in information technology may miss its importance as a business strategy. Cloud computing enables companies to tap IT resources as a service and can have a major transitional impact on a company's business processes.

Fourth, IT professionals in a company must be up to date on what each business unit needs in terms of services before they can build a coherent company-wide cloud solution to give users what they want when they want it.

Lastly, IT professionals must take into consideration the impact on performance and the user's experience in each cloud decision they make. It's not only the bottom line that counts.

What's the best way to avoid these cloud computing pitfalls? Enlist the assistance of an experienced cloud computing partner to help develop a clear cloud strategy, says Pelletier.

"Companies should seek a cloud partner that has the ability to consult with you and develop a cloud strategy and roadmap," he says. "By finding a partner that understands and can deliver on the complexities of both public and private clouds, that gives businesses the ability to examine every angle of a solution."


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August 26, 2011

AMD Taps Rory Read, Former Lenovo President, for Top Spot

Advanced Micro Devices Inc. (AMD) said that Rory Read, a 28-year industry veteran, will take the reins as the company's new chief executive, replacing Dirk Meyer, who resigned in early January amid disagreement with the vendor's board of directors over future strategy and direction, particularly in the mobile market.
AMD has been looking for a new top executive who could do better at getting the company's chips into tablets, possess a wider vision and carve a larger portion from rival Intel's dominant market share, reportedly dangling the job in front of a few high profile names in the process.
While not a household name, Read appears to command sufficient background for the job, most recently serving a five-year stint as PC-maker Lenovo Group Ltd.'s president and chief operating officer. His resume also sports a 23-year career at IBM Corp. in a number of management positions, including Managing Partner for Business Consulting Services Industrial Sector.
Read is credited with shepherding Lenovo's market share gains and revenue growth while reversing its operating losses and boosting profits, and navigating the PC-maker's entry into the tablet and smartphone markets.
He will have to stare down some of AMD's more formidable challenges, not the least of which will be to carve out a noticeable position in the mobile market with its Fusion chips. Still, his Lenovo experience likely will help to shore up the company's share of the global microprocessor segment, which, according to International Data Corp.'s (IDC) newly released Q2 2011 figures, stands at about 20.4 percent, a sequential gain of 1.5 percent but far behind Intel's 79 percent stake.
IDC's Q2 data, based on worldwide unit shipments, shows that AMD gained share in the mobile PC processor and desktop PC segments but slid in PC servers. For mobile, AMD maintains a 15.2 percent share, a gain of 1.8 percent over Q1, for desktops its portion stands at 28.9 percent, a 1.5 percent increase, while for PC servers its share slipped .6 percent to a 5.5 percent.
Read said on a financial analyst and media call that initially he will tend to examining AMD's markets, opportunities, customers and relationships, seeking out new opportunities in the cloud and data center infrastructure.
"AMD is a true innovator and is uniquely positioned to lead the industry forward, delivering the next big thing both within the PC ecosystem and beyond," he said in a statement. "AMD has strong momentum and the opportunity to continue profitably gaining share based on its highly differentiated products, solid financial foundation, and passionate and committed employees."
Bruce Claflin, AMD chairman, said that "Rory is a proven leader with an impressive record of driving profitable growth." Claflin said that Read's "sound strategic thinking and natural customer orientation will help amplify the voice of the customer inside AMD." 
Yuanqing Yang, Lenovo chief executive, said that Read has "made a significant contribution to our success during his time as president and COO at Lenovo and played a "key role in our record-setting growth and our consistent performance." 
According to an 8-K SEC filing dated August 25, 2011, AMD will pay Read an initial base salary of $1 million, reviewable annually. Documents show that he will be eligible for a bonus of 150 percent of his salary by the end of this year and again in 2012. Read also gained a $1 million signing bonus, half of which he must repay should he not last two years on the job.
In the SEC filing, AMD also disclosed that Lenovo is one of the chip maker's larger customers, accounting for some $450 million in sales during FY 2010. 
AMD said that Thomas Seifert, who served as interim chief executive since January, will return to his role as senior vice president and chief financial officer (CFO). Claflin, who was named executive chairman of the board when he led AMD's search for a new chief executive, will returns to his role as AMD's chairman, the company said.

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August 21, 2011

HP Taps Visentin for Enterprise Services Lead

Obscured in Hewlett-Packard Co.'s flurry of news last week about putting its PC business up for sale, scrubbing its TouchPad tablet, ceasing production of webOS-based smartphones and buying infrastructure software maker Autonomy for some $10.3 billion, was its appointment of John Visentin, a 27-year IT industry veteran, as HP Enterprise Services executive vice president to replace the retiring Tom Iannotti.

Visentin's rise from leading HP's Enterprise Services Americas unit to his new post couldn't be timelier, considering HP chief executive Leo Apotheker's grand plan to make the company over as a supplier of business solutions and services to enterprise organizations.

Visentin is tasked with driving Enterprise Services growth through technology infrastructure, applications and business services and will report to Apotheker. In his new role, Visentin will become a member of HP's Executive Council.

"John is a world-class services executive who will accelerate our efforts in delivering high-value services around cloud, security, mobility, application modernization and industry solutions," said Apotheker.

Visentin previously was IBM Corp.'s general manager, Integrated Technology Services, North America. His experience includes managing multibillion dollar business units, sales enablement and brand recognition.


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August 12, 2011

N-able Offers Free Software Licenses, Marketing Tools to Ingram Micro Channel Partners

N-able Technologies, a maker of remote monitoring and management (RMM) software said it is offering Ingram Micro Inc.'s channel partners and managed service providers (MSPs) a package of free licenses and marketing resources to help kick-start sales among small- and medium-sized business customers (SMBs).
The vendor said that the offer, which is available to Ingram Micro channel partners in North America, includes an unlimited number of free licenses for its N-Central Essentials--a pared down edition of its flagship N-Central RMM software--five licenses for its anti-virus software and five Professional licenses. In addition, the vendor is giving away free versions of its MSP Sales and Marketing Digital Binder, a collection of pre-set, brandable marketing tools. 
N-able said that about 70 percent of its MSPs use the "freemium" offer to boost sales. The vendor initiated the program in January, 2009, offering a hybrid of free and paid licenses for its N-central and anti-virus products.
"N-able's freemium offers have a proven track record of helping new and established MSPs achieve 100% IT coverage within their existing customer base, as well as secure new business using a 'try before you buy' sales strategy," said Derik Belair, N-able vice president, business development and marketing.
Jason Bystrak, Ingram Micro services sales director, said that the freemium offer "tees up a great, no-hassle opportunity for Ingram Micro channel partners to demonstrate the value of managed IT services and cloud computing to prospects and customers."
He said that it will help the distributor's channel partners engage with N-able "out the gate and show them the business and technology value N-able brings to the table for resellers and MSPs who are remotely managing hardware, software and cloud services."  

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August 11, 2011

AppSense Touts 54 Percent Uptick in Orders, Employee Count for FY 2011

AppSense Inc., a maker of virtualization technology to deliver a uniform user experience on physical, virtual, cloud and hybrid platforms, recently said that it closed its fiscal year 2011 on June 20 by recording a 54 percent increase in bookings to more than $71 million and grew its employee base by some 60 percent.

"The remarkable growth that AppSense has experienced highlights the significant demand for user virtualization technology in the market," said Darron Antill, AppSense chief executive.

He said that, in particular, the vendor's professional services and customer support divisions expanded in FY 2011, recording 350 enterprise-scale customer deployments and training more than 1,000 customers worldwide. The company's customer support unit employs about 40 people who support its 4,000 customers globally.

"User virtualization has now emerged as a true category in its own right and a vital component of desktop transformation initiatives that include both PCs and mobile devices," he said.

In pointing to an estimated $2.4 billion market in user virtualization by 2015, Antill said that AppSense plans to extend its user virtualization technology to cloud computing, data and mobile devices in its FY 2012.

AppSense officials said U.S. sales now make up about half of its overall business. In addition, the company said that in FY 2011 it added EMEA offices in Nordics and France, opened a cloud and mobile technology research center in Santa Clara, CA, and hired Harry Laban as its chief technology officer (CTO). Last February, AppSense gained a $70 million investment by Goldman Sachs.


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August 11, 2011

Cloud Sherpas Lands WaveAdept, Its Third Purchase in Past Six Weeks

Cloud Sherpas, an Atlanta, GA-based, Google Apps reseller, said it has purchased WaveAdept, a Wellington, New Zealand-based cloud services provider and Google Apps reseller.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Cloud Sherpas said that the acquisition, which follows less than two months on the heels of its transactions for Google Apps resellers Omnetic and Beloit Solutions Group, gives the company an immediate presence in Australia as well as New Zealand.

Officials said that WaveAdept has expertise in migrating workers and companies to Google Apps as well as significant experience selling and servicing major accounts.
 
"We plan to staff up quickly in New Zealand and Australia, but the acquisition of WaveAdept gives us immediate help from senior managers and Google experts who know the local market inside-and-out," said Jon Hallett, Cloud Sherpas chief executive. 

Cloud Sherpas pointed to International Data Corp. (IDC) figures that forecast cloud computing in Asia-Pacific (excluding Japan) will grow from $1.3 billion in 2010 to about $5 billion in 2014, or 40 percent annually.  

"Asia is a huge opportunity for Google Apps, and we're thrilled to be a key catalyst for rapid adoption," Hallett said.

Cloud Sherpas said that in the last three years it has migrated some one million workers to Google Apps and SherpaTools, its add-on software, which to date has been installed on more than 20,000 domains in about 110 countries.


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July 18, 2011

Microsoft's Turner Lauds Partners for Cloud Transition

Kevin Turner, Microsoft Corp.'s chief operating officer, told partners assembled at the company's annual Worldwide Partner Conference in Los Angeles last week that in crafting its cloud computing strategy, the vendor counted on its "partner ecosystem to come with us to the cloud because the cloud was how we were going to re-pivot ourselves."

Turner reminded partners of his remarks at last year's conference when he said that Microsoft had "to find a way to bet our business on cloud services and making this transition to the cloud."

His point, of course, was that in the past year the vendor had gone full bore to the cloud with public and private cloud products--namely Office 365, SQL Azure, Windows Azure, Windows Intune, Dynamics CRM Online, SharePoint Server, Lync Server, Exchange Server, SQL Server, Microsoft Dynamics and Microsoft Server--and wanted most of its partners to follow suit by transitioning their business models in the same direction.

"We still have this big, audacious goal of having a continuous cloud service for every person in every business around the world," he said.

In praising the work of the vendor's product development teams, Turner told partners that "many, many of you in this audience made the jump to come to the cloud with us this past year. And many others are making the transition and making the leap to come to the cloud with us this next year."

As evidence, Turner offered that to date Microsoft has trained some 42,000 partners on Office 365, 30,000 on Windows Azure and 12,000 on Windows Intune, although from his public remarks it was unclear how much overlap resides in those figures.

Still, with its claim of some 650,000 partners under its PartnerNetwork umbrella, Turner acknowledged that Microsoft has some ground to travel before the lion's share of its partners embrace the cloud.

"I want the other 600K partners to get on board," he said.

Turner told partners that the vendor now will turn its attention to the private cloud.

"The focus on FY 12 is about the acceleration of the private cloud," he said. "We've got great momentum with our public cloud, now we're going to get straight away after the private cloud."


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July 18, 2011

Fonality Launches New Partner Program

Fonality Inc., a Dallas, TX-based provider of cloud-based Voice-over-Internet-Protocol (VoIP) and unified communications solutions for small and mid-size businesses (SMB), said that it has initiated a new tiered program for channel partners called Partner Plus that includes training, certification, tools and resources to help boost sales.

The vendor said that the Partner Plus program is aimed at providing channel partners with the proper training, marketing resources and tools to broaden their customer portfolio and, correspondingly, increase revenue.

Partner Plus includes three tiers--Authorized, Certified and Premium--with ascending responsibilities, capabilities and benefits. At the base level, Authorized partners sell hosted and hybrid-hosted solutions on the vendor's behalf; at the mid level, Certified partners work with Fonality, leading sales and marketing efforts to bring the right solutions to their customers; and, Premier partners, the highest level, are trained by the vendor to market, sell, and implement solutions.

In addition, under its Agent program, Fonality offers a 20 percent commission for sales referrals on cloud solutions with no cap on residuals throughout a contract's lifespan.

"A strong ecosystem of qualified and capable partners is imperative to our fast-growing customer base," said John John Young, Fonality general manager, channel operations.

"The Fonality Partner Plus Program was designed to provide our resellers with resources to better leverage our solutions," he said. "The enhanced program offers highly-competitive incentives while giving partners the unique flexibility to deliver cloud solutions as Fonality Agents, or hybrid-hosted solutions as a reseller."

Fonality said that channel partners may choose their level of participation in the program and that compensation and incentives map to certification and training. At each level, partners can sell the vendor's SMB-geared portfolio, which includes hosted and hybrid-hosted solutions.


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July 18, 2011

Hamada Assumes Avnet's Top Exec Slot Next Month

Rick Hamada, Avnet Inc.'s current chief operating officer, will become the company's chief executive on August 1 at the beginning of its fiscal year 2012, replacing 34-year veteran Roy Vallee, who has held the top spot for the past 13 years.

Avnet first announced Hamada's ascension in mid-February, which it said culminated a multi-year succession plan. Hamada, who has been with Avnet since 1983, has been its chief operating officer since July 2006.

Vallee will continue with the company as executive chairman of its board of directors.

"Rick is more than ready to become CEO with the skills, experience, passion and values needed to lead Avnet to the next level of performance," Vallee said.

Hamada is Avnet's ninth chief executive in the company's 90-year history.

"I remain personally and deeply committed to accelerating the success of our customers, suppliers, employees and shareholders by maintaining our focus on performance and our value-based management approach to managing, investing in and defining profitable growth across the Avnet enterprise," Hamada said.

In late April, Avnet issued guidance for Q4 2011 upward, telling analysts that it expects consolidated sales for the period to range between $6.60 billion and $7.30 billion and earnings per share (EPS) about $1.10-$1.22 per share. Analysts were anticipating revenue of $6.51 billion and EPS of $1.04 for fourth quarter of 2011.

Separately, Avnet Technology Solutions (ATS), Avnet's distribution arm, said that it has appointed Cooke Serrano as vice president of finance. Serrano, a 20-year veteran in the finance and accounting fields, previously worked at Goodrich Corp., Motorola Corp. and Foodservice Corp. in financial management positions, officials said.

Serrano, who will manage ATS's finance teams in North America, will report to Rusty Murdaugh, ATS group finance officer.


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