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Datto Overhauls Partner Program

Backup vendor Datto Inc. this week unveiled a major revamp of its partner program, including a new partner portal, expanded support for partners and the introduction of a partner conference.

According to Datto CEO and Founder Austin McChord, the portal overhaul and other changes have been under development for more than a year, with substantial partner input along the way. "These tools are something we have been working on for a long time," McChord said in a statement.

The portal features an enhanced user interface and features that include the ability for partners to track and get reports on the Datto hardware devices they run or have deployed with customers.

Support has been expanded in both hours and in headcount. Starting next Monday, Datto will offer partners 24-hour live support by U.S.-based technicians from Monday through Friday. Additionally, the company is spinning up a new Quick Start Install Service. In that program, a Datto sales engineer will help partners with the full installation of their first Datto SIRIS or Datto SIRIS Lite implementation.

The company is also joining the list of channel-focused vendors hosting their own partner conferences. The first of what Datto says will be an annual event will occur Sept. 11 -13 in Washington, D.C.

Posted by Scott Bekker on April 10, 2013 at 11:58 AM0 comments

Tech Data Opens Mobility University for Partners

Mobility solutions are getting more important to the channel every day, and Tech Data Corp. has been focusing more and more on mobile.

The effort included a joint venture between Brightstar and Tech Data to create the TDMobility infrastructure and numerous agreements with Verizon, T-Mobile, AT&T and Sprint that allow resellers to supply and configure mobile devices on the customers' carrier of choice.

Now, Tech Data is creating a centralized partner education resource to match the other investments the company has been making in mobility solutions.

The Clearwater, Fla.-based distributor on Monday announced its TDMobility University on Monday. The portal's partner resource includes online training videos for products, sales, mobile strategy, mobile policy, mobile security and mobile device management. The portal also includes sales resources, such as white-labeled presentations, meeting scripts and e-mail templates.

Posted by Scott Bekker on April 08, 2013 at 11:58 AM0 comments

With a Year To Go, a New Incentive To Leave Windows XP Behind

With Windows XP exactly one year out from its support retirement date today, Microsoft marked the milestone with a new deal that involves partners.

As Microsoft has repeatedly reminded partners for the last several years, Windows XP support completely ends on April 8, 2014. The same date portends the end of support for Office 2003.

In a blog post today, Microsoft announced a Get2Modern offer. Under the deal, small and medium businesses that buy Windows 8 Pro and Office Standard 2013 together get up to 15 percent off the upgrade. To qualify for the deal, customers need to buy through the Open License program by June 30, 2013, and they need to contact a partner for pricing.

The page links to the Pinpoint directory, but there doesn't appear to be much guidance built into the search. Partners would do well, as always, to reach out to customers on their own to let them know about this opportunity.

The SMB-focused deal is in effect for up to 249 seats each of Windows 8 Pro and Office 2013 Standard editions.

Editor's Note: An earlier version of the story noted that Microsoft originally posted conflicting figures for the maximum number of seats for the offer. The correct number is 249 and both Microsoft pages now reflect that number of seats.


Posted by Scott Bekker on April 08, 2013 at 11:58 AM3 comments

The Windows XP Deadline Cometh

Now that it's April 2013, that means there are approximately 365 shopping days until the official end of support for Windows XP.

All of Microsoft's many customers for Windows XP, which was on sale between 2001 and 2010, must be off the OS by April 8, 2014. To paraphrase what they say in the bar at closing time: "You don't have to go to Windows 8, but you can't stay here."

The doorway could get crowded in the rush for the exits. As of March, data from Net Applications still put Windows XP market share at 39 percent of all PCs worldwide.

In technical terms, Microsoft is ending extended support for Windows XP. That means no more public, paid support per incident, per hour or otherwise; no more security updates; and no more guarantees that there will be Windows XP information in the Microsoft Knowledge Base or in other online resources. Some large customers had hoped for an out in something called custom support contracts. Analysts at Gartner Inc. have discouraged customers from going that route, arguing that the contracts cost more than customers commonly anticipate and that an upgrade to Windows 7 (Gartner's recommended post-Windows XP path) may actually cost less.

In any case, partners can anticipate another reminder in a few months at the annual Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC). Each of the last two years, Microsoft executives have told partners how many days remain until Windows XP support ends. When the WPC starts July 8, there will be 275 days left.

Posted by Scott Bekker on April 03, 2013 at 11:58 AM4 comments

DataCore Tightens Partner Program

DataCore Software on Monday compressed its channel program for storage virtualization partners from three levels to one and increased its standards, while simultaneously boosting investment in partner margins, marketing funds, training and sales engineers.

The moves come as enterprise demand for storage virtualization solutions is beginning to take off, Steve Houck, COO for the Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based company, said in a phone interview.

While it may seem counterintuitive to respond to an expanding market opportunity by exercising more control over the number of partners representing the product, Houck, who joined DataCore last year, said the specialized nature of the emerging market requires close engagement.

"The prior program had tiers -- bronze, silver, gold. It was fairly open. It had a level of technical certification. What we found was we needed to adapt the program based on what was happening in the market," Houck said.

The new Premier Partner Program for the Americas has one level and will be invite-only. In the Americas, DataCore has about 100 partners, with 10 of them considered very active. The company is in touch with another 20 to 30 partners that it's hoping to add this year in the region, which includes Canada, the United States, Latin America and the Caribbean.

According to Houck, there are several characteristics of a successful DataCore partner on the SANsymphony-V storage hypervisor platform, which covers VMware, Citrix and Microsoft hypervisors, and commonly supports Exchange, SharePoint and SQL Server workloads, along with SAP and Oracle workloads.

"Number one is that the partner principle understands the strategic value of having a storage virtualization practice," Houck said. Another foundation is that the partner has done server virtualization, which means they have customers who are beginning to experience challenges related to integrating both hardware and software from multiple storage vendors. Partners working to solve those types of enterprise issues also tend to be exploring SSD and flash storage options for speed, which is an area where DataCore's software is a fit, Houck said.

The emerging nature of those requirements means that both the partners and vendors like DataCore are seeking one another out even as they are separately discovering customers' pain points. "There's no storage virtualization community that we go recruit," Houck said.

Posted by Scott Bekker on April 01, 2013 at 11:58 AM0 comments

Microsoft Offering Training on Office 365 Open

A month after expanding the billing options for partners around Office 365, Microsoft is offering broad training to help partners make sense of the new rules and connect with distributors.

On March 1, Microsoft released Office 365 for Open licensing and for Full Package Product (FPP) sales. For years, partners had been asking for the Open licensing portion, which will allow the channel to bundle Office 365 into other services and handle customer billing.

Still, the new billing comes with its own complexities, including new and sometimes counterintuitive SKUs. Starting last week and continuing through June, Microsoft is offering a webcast series every Wednesday at 10 a.m. ET to help partners sort out whether to use the pre-existing advisor model, in which Microsoft bills customers and partners get partner of record fees, the Office 365 Open option or FPP.

Distributors Ingram Micro, Tech Data, Synnex and D&H will contribute content for the calls. More information is available here. The sessions will also include offers and incentives for partners new to Office 365 sales.


Posted by Scott Bekker on April 01, 2013 at 11:58 AM1 comments

RCP/Rocket Award Submissions Due May 1

Remember to submit your entries for the RCP/Rocket Award. This award is a joint creation of Redmond Channel Partner magazine and Revenue Rocket Consulting Group. We're recognizing and honoring excellence in growth. The RCP/Rocket Award will be awarded to up to three IT services companies whose innovative business strategies have resulted in sustained growth over a three-year period.

Submissions are due May 1. You can find more details here. Send your submissions or your questions to me at sbekker@rcpmag.com.

Posted by Scott Bekker on March 28, 2013 at 11:58 AM0 comments

IDC: Tablets To Overtake Desktops in 2013, Portable PCs in 2014

A billion "smart connected devices" shipped in 2012, but the four types of devices that make up that overall International Data Corp. definition are on radically different trajectories.

Desktop PCs occupy a bitter plateau, declining slowly but rapidly losing share compared to an overall market expected to more than double to 2.2 billion device shipments by 2017, according to IDC's latest forecasts released this week. Portable PCs are in a slightly better place, and looking forward to decent share gains over the next five years.

Steamrolling both of those categories are tablets, which IDC projects will outpace first desktop PC sales in 2013 then portable PC sales by 2014. The final category is smartphones, not increasing as fast as tablets but still gaining plenty fast and dominating the overall numbers now and probably for the next few years.

Microsoft has gotten a lot of complaints that its Windows 8 overhaul left traditional PC users' needs in the dust. Even accounting for the necessary skepticism about five-year market projections, any study of the trend lines makes it pretty clear why Microsoft seems less concerned about the installed base and seems urgently focused on leaping across to tablets and smartphones.

Posted by Scott Bekker on March 28, 2013 at 11:58 AM2 comments

Gartner: Get Ready for 3-D Printing in Your Face

The 3-D-printed bust at Jon Roskill's house is an example of the uneven distribution of the future.

Created last summer for the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference, the tiny likeness of Microsoft's channel chief was part of a presentation on near-future technologies. The session, designed to inspire the thousands of partners in the Toronto arena, included a camera/projector combination that allowed pen and paper sketches on one desk to be displayed on another and the 3-D printer that produced the mini-Roskill from a Kinect scan of his head and shoulders.

Roskill bust
Image courtesy of Olivia Roskill.

Because forms of 3-D printing emerged in the 1970s and most devices in subsequent decades were large and expensive with limited capabilities and lots of hype, it might not be apparent how close the technology is and how cheap it is getting.

That Microsoft could produce a demo in July 2012 didn't shed much more light on the price-performance progress, given the company's multibillion-dollar research budget.

A Gartner report this week, however, spotlights the rapid spread of the technology and the rapid fall in prices of 3-D, or additive, printers.

Gartner research director Pete Basiliere argues the technology is accelerating from niche to mainstream adoption in his report, "How 3D Printing Disrupts Business and Creates New Opportunities." The technology is already entrenched in automotive and other manufacturing, consumer goods, the military, medical equipment and the pharmaceutical industry, Gartner notes in a news release about its $195, six-page report.

Basiliere encourages enterprises of almost all types to buy 3-D printers now and start experimenting with personalized products, components, working prototypes and architectural models. The exercise is partly for immediate business benefit and partly to build a better institutional understanding of the technology and its possibilities. He says the printers are affordable now for any size business but predicts that what he calls "enterprise-class" 3-D printers will cost less than $2,000 by 2016.

As with drones and robots, a vibrant hobbyist community exists around 3-D printing. Looking at what hobbyists pay for do-it-yourself kits and fully assembled systems, it's easy to see that Gartner's price targets seem reasonable, maybe even a bit conservative.

Gartner's Basiliere points to the disruptive opportunities businesses could realize through 3-D printing, and highlights some positive social potential. He notes, for example, life-changing parts and products for struggling countries, ways to help rebuild crisis-hit areas and a democratization of manufacturing.

There's a darker side to 3-D printing, too. Individuals and organizations are already working on manufacturing printed firearms. Success would provide a way to pass metal detectors and to circumvent gun laws and international arms bans. Even without malice, sufficient progress on the speed and capability of 3-D printing might one day present a serious threat to the millions of jobs in transportation if local manufacturing through 3-D printing takes off.

For now, 3-D-printed objects like the Roskill bust are mostly scattered and widely separated. Soon they'll be everywhere. Time to get ready for 3-D printing in your face.

Posted by Scott Bekker on March 28, 2013 at 11:58 AM0 comments

Veeam Developing Free Tool To Rescue SharePoint Files

Veeam Software is promising to release software that will make it possible to quickly recover individual items from Microsoft SharePoint backups.

Other tools exist to do the similar things, but Veeam's plan is to release its tool, Veeam Explorer for Microsoft SharePoint, for free.

The SharePoint Explorer comes at the problem from Veeam's corner of the market. Veeam specializes in virtualization solutions and will offer the Explorer as a free add-on in the next editions of Veeam Backup Free Edition and Veeam Backup & Replication v7. That means the product works only if SharePoint is running on top of a virtual machine.

The many limitations of the free version of Veeam Backup make the possibility of running the SharePoint Explorer for free a caveat-filled affair. But for those customers backing up their virtual environments with the full product, granular SharePoint file recovery comes without additional cost.

At this point, the product is little more than vaporware. Veeam this week announced only that it was taking signups for a free public beta, which isn't available yet. The final version will ship with Backup & Replication v7 in the second half of this year.

Nonetheless, Veeam has delivered similar products before in the Veeam Explorer for Microsoft Exchange. The company's management has a solid track record of identifying important problems for IT administrators and coming up with solutions.

Posted by Scott Bekker on March 27, 2013 at 11:58 AM1 comments

T-Mobile Overhaul: Win for Lumia, Loss for HTC 8X

In the coverage of T-Mobile's plans to blow up the wireless industry, most of the focus, rightly, is on a handful of things. The company is adding the Apple iPhone to its lineup, eliminating contracts, rolling out an LTE network and revealing the true consumer cost of devices. (CEO John Legere's potty mouth also achieved some notice.)

Windows Phone got zero attention in the announcements (less than BlackBerry even), but the changes have interesting implications for current and future Windows Phone customers.

The self-branded "un-carrier" is offering phones without contracts. Customers can pay for the phone upfront or pay some or no money down and pay out the rest over two years. Meanwhile, the cancel-anytime, unlimited phone, unlimited text and data plan costs $50, $60 or $70 a month for 500 MB, 2 GB or unlimited data, respectively.

For the iPhone 5 coming April 12, the phone cost is $100 down and $20 a month for 24 months.

T-Mobile immediately updated its Web site prices yesterday, and the carrier's two Windows Phones reflected the new pricing. The flagship Windows Phone is the HTC 8X. Buying one of those now will cost $0 up front and $18 a month for two years, with the option to pay the full $432 up front.


The other phone, the Nokia Lumia 810 sells for $0 down and $15 a month for two years or $360 at checkout.

Here's where things get, um, surprising for customers who paid more for that HTC device. The 8X by HTC will not support T-Mobile's new LTE network, even though other carriers' HTC 8X devices are LTE-capable. (To make things more confusing, T-Mobile does show a 4G badge next to the HTC phone in its online store. Maybe T-Mobile isn't such an "un-carrier" after all.) The less expensive Lumia 810, however, will support LTE soon.

Windows Phone Daily tracked down a statement from T-Mobile:

"The Lumia 810 is the only other LTE-capable device on T-Mobile aside from the [Samsung Galaxy] Note II, and we will share timing of that LTE [maintenance release] at a later time. Please stay tuned."

In the near term, the difference will only matter in a handful of places as T-Mobile upgrades its infrastructure. Sprint launched its LTE network in seven metro areas Tuesday: Baltimore, Houston, Kansas City, Las Vegas, Phoenix, San Jose and Washington, D.C. The company is promising to cover 100 million Americans by the middle of the year, including New York in June. By the end of the year, T-Mobile's network is supposed to cover 200 million Americans.

Posted by Scott Bekker on March 27, 2013 at 11:58 AM1 comments

Citrix Bundles Software for SMBs

In an effort to expand SMB sales, Citrix Solutions is introducing two new SMB editions that it will sell primarily through partners.

Mike Fouts, Citrix Americas channel chief, announced the editions in a blog post Tuesday:

"It bundles VDI-in-a-Box, XenDesktop, NetScaler, ShareFile and support for companies with 25+ and 50+ users. For those who purchase the bundle designated for more than 25 but fewer than 50 users, XenDesktop will be replaced by the simpler to manage VDI-in-a-Box solution. The price for each package is $6,600 for the 25-user bundle and $21,000 for the 50-user bundle."

At the same time as the product releases, Citrix is introducing two changes to partner margins and incentives to make selling the packages more attractive. Fouts says the SMB suite will carry additional margin for partners and the Citrix Advisor Rewards threshold will fall from $10,000 to $2,500.

The product bundles and program changes follow Fouts' effort last July to reduce concerns about channel conflict in the SMB business by making clear that no Citrix field employees would be compensated for SMB sales.

Posted by Scott Bekker on March 26, 2013 at 11:58 AM0 comments