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WPC 2016 Preview: 9 Must-See Sessions

RCP analyzed the Worldwide Partner Conference session catalog to help partners get the most out of the show or to track it from the office. For more on WPC 2016, visit our event page here.

If you think of the Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC) in terms of the old Microsoft phrase "drinking from the firehose" for getting up to speed at a disorientingly fast rate, this is the group of sessions that forms the core of the conference's infodump.

1. Satya Nadella Vision Keynote: The Microsoft CEO usually kicks off the conference from the big stage, laying out the themes and making some major news announcements.

2. Kevin Turner Vision Keynote: Just as Nadella opens the conference, COO Turner comes in for the big finish. In a presentation usually filled with competitive barbs, kick-in-the-pants motivation and chock-full of Microsoft boosterism, Turner reinforces the themes and sends the crowd home with some chuckles.

[Update, 7/7: After this article was published, Microsoft announced that Kevin Turner was leaving the company. Read the article here.]

3. Microsoft Partner Network (MPN) Vision Keynote: In addition to product group keynotes, Microsoft usually provides an MPN keynote filled with program momentum details and programmatic and incentive announcements.

4. Office 365 Roadmap: In the running with Azure for Microsoft's most strategic product is Office 365. Microsoft plans to give partners a detailed roadmap for the Office 365 family of cloud services in a special session.

5. FastTrack: A major source of conflict between Microsoft and partners is Microsoft FastTrack, the controversial program and internal onboarding center to provide customers with free migrations to Office 365 and other cloud products. Microsoft will openly make its case for partner opportunities around FastTrack in a WPC session.

6. SMS&P Enterprise Partner General Session: This is the public session where Microsoft's heavyweight partners, the licensing solution providers (LSPs), get details on how their incentives will work. At recent WPCs, LSPs have generally learned that their incentives were going down. Changes in LSP compensation can push those partners into conflict with smaller partners for services revenues, making the session important beyond the exclusive LSP community.

7. U.S. Field Priorities: The WPC is an international conference, but a plurality of attendees usually comes from the United States. For those U.S. partners, the U.S. field priorities session provides information on Microsoft's co-engagement plans with partners.

8. MPN 101: New partners especially can benefit from an overview session on the MPN. Benefits discussed include internal use rights, technical support, marketing materials and incentives.

9. PIE: Another valuable session for new and experienced partners is an update on the Microsoft Partner Incentive Engine (PIE), which Microsoft describes as a partner's single access point to a pool of $20 million that partners can use for marketing, pilots and deployment programs.

Posted by Scott Bekker on July 05, 2016 at 6:28 AM0 comments

LinkedIn's CEO Is Your Next High-Profile 'Softie

With the LinkedIn acquisition, expect Jeff Weiner to be a major player at Microsoft. The question is, for how long?

The top executives of large companies that Microsoft acquires frequently become major movers and shakers within Microsoft, at least for a while. See Bates, Tony; Elop, Stephen; and Ozzie, Ray.

Nowhere is that more likely to be true than for the CEO of the company that Microsoft is spending more money to acquire than it has spent on any company in the past, LinkedIn.

So who is Jeff Weiner, the lightly-bearded/heavily-stubbled CEO of LinkedIn, who will retain that job title overseeing a largely independent LinkedIn business unit for Microsoft should the deal close as expected this year?

He's a Silicon Valley star who held prominent positions at Yahoo Inc. from 2001 to 2008, winding up as the executive vice president of the Network Division, which involved managing 3,000 employees and running Yahoo's Front Page, Mail, Search and Media products.

After Yahoo, he was briefly an executive in residence at venture capital firms Accel Partners and Greylock before joining LinkedIn in December 2008 as president in a management shakeup that saw founder Reid Hoffman retake the CEO role. Weiner was named CEO a mere six months later, after what many in the industry viewed as a trial run as president.

During Weiner's tenure as CEO, LinkedIn has gone from about 42 million registered profiles to 433 million and went public in May 2011.

By all accounts, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and Weiner are getting along famously. "Long before Satya and I first sat down to talk about how we could work together, I had publicly shared my thoughts on how impressive his efforts were to rapidly transition Microsoft's strategy and culture," Weiner wrote in a letter to LinkedIn employees about the deal.

In his own e-mail to the LinkedIn staff, Nadella wrote, "From the moment I met Jeff I knew he was a special leader creating a special place at LinkedIn -- your sense of purpose is palpable."

Weiner is also close to Qi Lu, executive vice president of the Applications and Services Group at Microsoft. The two worked together at Yahoo.

An open question is how long Weiner will remain at Microsoft. His name has been bandied about as a potential replacement when Disney CEO Bob Iger retires. Asked directly about how long he plans to stay by Re/code's Kara Swisher this month, Weiner reportedly answered that he was staying put.

Posted by Scott Bekker on June 24, 2016 at 10:37 AM0 comments

Datto Ships SIRIS 3 Platform

Business continuity and data recovery specialist Datto rolled out its third generation of appliances, services and cloud solutions under the SIRIS brand this week during its DattoCon conference for MSPs in Nashville.

A major new element of the broad set of enhancements across the SIRIS 3 platform was the addition of an all-flash backup appliance called the SIRIS 3 X1. That device has a 1TB solid state drive, 16GB of RAM and local virtualization capabilities.

Other additions to the SIRIS 3 platform include new agents to support Mac and Linux endpoints, agentless backup for systems running VMware hypervisors, disk-less restores, Linux backup screenshot verification and hybrid virtualization, which was previously only available in the Datto ALTO product line. SIRIS 3 appliances are updated with 10Gb Ethernet interfaces and current Intel Xeon processors.

Also now included in the SIRIS platform is the ability to turn non-Datto backup and disaster recovery devices and other servers into Datto appliances. Previously branded GENISIS, that technology has been renamed as the SIRIS 3 Imaged service.

The SIRIS 3 software was available immediately for new appliance and service purchases. Datto promises a free upgrade to the SIRIS 3 software "shortly" for SIRIS 2 appliances, a generation that included the RCP 2016 Editor's Choice award-winning Datto SIRIS 2 Enterprise.

The company also unveiled a more robust Datto Device Management Portal; released a new partner pricing model for cloud storage called Infinite Cloud Retention; and reported thousands of sign-ups following the May 2016 launch of Datto Drive, its file sync and share solution that launched with a free one-year subscription with 1TB of cloud storage for unlimited users.

Posted by Scott Bekker on June 23, 2016 at 11:57 AM0 comments

SkyKick Releases App Syndication, APIs

SkyKick this week introduced two new distribution methods for its partner-focused, cloud management software.

The Seattle-area company already uses its Web site and some distribution relationships to sells its tools for helping partners migrate customers to Office 365 and manage and back up their cloud accounts once the customers are in the cloud.

Now, SkyKick is adding a syndication app that will allow partners to embed SkyKick's white-label migration and backup applications on their own Web sites. According to SkyKick, partners will be able to post the app with just a few lines of code in a process that takes less than an hour.

"I think this is going to be a huge boon for an MSP or a reseller who is doing high volume, and it will make their process more efficient. They can do online marketing, right to a landing page where customers can migrate, back up or manage themselves," says SkyKick Co-Founder/Co-CEO Todd Schwartz. Announced Wednesday, the syndication option will be available around the time of the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC), which starts July 11.

In addition, SkyKick is opening its APIs to allow developers to build custom cloud management applications or deeper integration with their own systems for migrating and managing cloud customers.

"They can customize the migration experience, the backup experience, however they want to, to fit their business model. This is for the larger end of the channel, [for companies that want] to make an investment in a scalable, unified platform," Schwartz said.

Posted by Scott Bekker on June 23, 2016 at 9:18 AM0 comments

ConnectWise Releases LabTech 11

ORLANDO, Fla. -- ConnectWise this week released a substantial upgrade to its LabTech remote monitoring and management (RMM) tool and previewed some integrations with the rest of the ConnectWise Business Suite, including a new unified ticketing system.

The announcements came during the Automation Nation show in Orlando attended by more than 500 ConnectWise partners.

Critical features of the new release, LabTech 11, include a redesigned user interface (UI), significant new patch management features and major scalability improvements.

The UI takes LabTech into the category of simplified design with substantial open space, similar to Google Apps or Office 365. Large tiles with placement that is customizable now show techs some of the key metrics that they used to have to drill down into the application to find.

"What [our users] are used to is a whole bunch of tabs with a whole lot of data. They would have to go mining for problems," said Brett Cheloff, LabTech general manager for ConnectWise, in an interview. "All these techs are looking at the same 10-15 data points. Now with the dashboard, all that data is already there."

[Click on image for larger view.] The overhauled dashboard in LabTech 11 surfaces common system metrics that technicians used to have to track down.

The UI changes in LabTech 11 are also a step toward a unified interface style that ConnectWise is working toward across its five major products, which also include the flagship ConnectWise professional services automation tool, Quosal, ScreenConnect and CloudConsole. Without committing to a ship date, Cheloff and ConnectWise CEO Arnie Bellini said more information on the unified interface would come at ConnectWise's big annual show, IT Nation, in November.

During his keynote, Cheloff also demoed a quick ticketing window that ConnectWise plans to put into pilot within about a month. The small window floated over the LabTech interface showing open tickets. When a help desk call came in, it started an immediate timer, and when the caller's name was entered, it pulled up the user's device information. The window features tight integration between LabTech, ConnectWise and the other Business Suite products, and should make it possible for techs to do most of their duties on one screen rather than a typical three-screen setup, Cheloff said.

With LabTech 11, which hit general availability on Tuesday, ConnectWise is also introducing a staged patch management feature that allows managed service providers (MSPs) to designate certain machines at each customer as pilots for new patches. That way, after testing a patch internally, an MSP can ship out the patch to all the pilot machines at customer sites. If unique problems emerge at individual customer sites, the broader deployment can be canceled. If the pilot goes smoothly, the patches are automatically deployed to all the servers after a set amount of time that the MSP controls.

"Scripting is our No. 1 thing. Automation, automation, automation."

Brett Cheloff, LabTech General Manager, ConnectWise

The other headline features in LabTech 11 have to do with scalability -- both in agent capacity and in the scripting engine. In version 10.5, ConnectWise for the first time allowed LabTech's database component to be deployed on a separate server. With version 11, LabTech is extending that separation to allow the Web server component to also be deployed on a separate server from the core application server. The roadmap calls for the ability to segment traffic so all agent traffic goes to one Web server and all techs hit a different Web server, Cheloff said.

LabTech 11's scripting engine is much more robust as well, a core improvement for a company that calls its partner conference Automation Nation. "Scripting is our No. 1 thing. Automation, automation, automation," Cheloff said. The old scripting agent could run 1,000 scripts at a time. The version 11 engine can handle 20,000, he said.

The 1,000-script limit was a gating factor for MSPs, but the 20,000-script limit should provide headroom for a while, Cheloff said.

"Our average size of a customer is about 1,000 to 1,500 agents deployed. You can run 1,000 scripts, even if you're deploying AV, say switching from eSET to Webroot. That would be a lot of scripts. Now you can change out your AV like that. Before, it would have slowed down or paused any other scripts they would have had. I don't think anyone's going to have anywhere near the [new] limits that we have set," he said.

Christian Vazquez, a service desk manager at Kennewick, Wash.-based Teknologize, said in an interview that the quick ticketing feature was the most interesting of several strong new features introduced at the conference.

"They're really trying to make our lives easier," Vazquez said after watching the ticketing demo. "Being able to start, stop, complete, clear and create and tickets will probably save [a] half-hour to an hour of multitasking a day [per technician]."

The integrated ticketing tool might also save employees on the billing side at his company two to three hours per week, Vazquez said. Integration with CloudConsole could also save Teknologize money by helping prevent Office 365 user cancellations from falling through the cracks. When techs handle a request from a customer to cancel one of its user accounts on Office 365, new techs handle their administrative responsibilities in shutting down that user but sometimes forget to tell the billing department, leaving Teknologize on the hook with Microsoft for paying the user's uncanceled subscription when the charge shows up at the end of the quarter, Vazquez explained.

Vazquez also was enthusiastic about the scalability of the scripting enhancements, which he said will be useful in script-testing scenarios. "Every iteration of the test takes time. I could spend an hour and only go through eight revisions. Hopefully, I can do a couple dozen changes now and not waste time," he said.

Posted by Scott Bekker on June 22, 2016 at 8:52 AM0 comments

How LinkedIn Stacks Up Against Other Microsoft Acquisitions

If successful, Microsoft's acquisition of LinkedIn for $26.2 billion would be the tech giant's highest-valued deal to date by a huge margin. The face value of the LinkedIn agreement is more than triple what Microsoft paid for the next biggest acquisition, Skype. The LinkedIn offer is about half the size of Microsoft's $44.6 billion bid in 2008 for Yahoo, but that deal ultimately did not go through.

Here are Microsoft's acquisitions worth $1 billion or more, ranked by their value at the time:

Rank Company Year Value
1 LinkedIn 2016 $26.2 billion
2 Skype 2011 $8.5 billion
3 Nokia (partial) 2013 $7.2 billion
4 aQuantive 2007 $6.3 billion
5 Mojang 2014 $2.5 billion
6 Fast Search & Transfer 2008 $1.9 billion
7 Visio Corp. 2000 $1.4 billion
8 Navision 2002 $1.3 billion
9 Yammer 2012 $1.2 billion


Posted by Scott Bekker on June 13, 2016 at 9:15 AM0 comments

BitTitan Raises $15 Million in Outside Funding

BitTitan, which sells a broad array of tools that help partners sell, onboard and maintain cloud services from Microsoft and others, has closed a $15 million Series A financing round, which will allow the company to boost its engineering and global sales efforts.

The 9-year-old Kirkland, Wash.-based company did not disclose the specific percentage stake that the investors led by San Diego-based growth equity firm TVC Capital were getting in the company or what the deal means for the overall valuation of BitTitan.

"It is a small percentage of the company, and we are adding one person to our board," said Barney Silver, vice president of finance for BitTitan, in a telephone interview about the funding round, which was announced Thursday. Steve Hamerslag, managing partner at TVC Capital, is the investor joining the board. In a statement, Hamerslag said BitTitan was TVC Capital's largest Series A funding to date. Tao Capital Partners of San Francisco also participated in the funding round.

This is the first outside funding BitTitan has taken since former Microsoft engineer Geeman Yip started the company in 2007, and Silver says the company's bootstrap identity and the fact that it is already profitable were major factors in BitTitan's ability to raise money even as the trend among technology investors is for them to fold their wallets shut.

"Being a business that's been around for a while and that has demonstrated that we weren't trying to figure out if we've got a product that works or not was super helpful to us," Silver said.

According to senior BitTitan executives, Yip determined that the opportunity in cloud generally was becoming bigger than BitTitan could continue to address in the organic-growth manner that it had previously operated. That was part of the reason for bringing Silver onboard late last year.

Silver said he's not sure that BitTitan will need future outside investments. "We are raising this money so we can accelerate growth. This may be all the money we ever need to raise," Silver said. "We met with lots of investors who were very interested to write us significantly bigger checks. Realistically, we couldn't deploy $50 or $60 million today. It would be too much to spend relative to our scale too quickly."

The growth of the company to date has been rapid. The company claims revenue increases between 50 percent to 100 percent in each of the last five years. A major push behind BitTitan's relatively new MSPComplete offerings has helped the company double its number of partners in the last year to more than 7,000 MSPs, systems integrators and distributors.

BitTitan, which has also doubled its staff in the last couple of years, will be hiring aggressively with the investment. "We've cashed the check and we are in the process of opening dozens of headcount as we speak," said Rocco Seyboth, vice president of products and marketing for BitTitan. "The two areas we are focusing on and how we're going to deploy the capital is accelerating the product roadmap -- hiring more engineers so we can build out software more quickly -- and the other is international expansion. While we are a global business, and we have sales around the world, we were doing it with a few people scattered around the globe."

Posted by Scott Bekker on June 09, 2016 at 10:18 AM0 comments

AWS Rolls Out Migration Competency

Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) giant Amazon Web Services (AWS) delivered a key new element for its channel program this week with the formal rollout of the AWS Migration Competency.

Amazon announced that the migration competency was on the AWS Partner Network (APN) roadmap last October during the AWS Global Partner Summit in Las Vegas. The migration competency is about helping partners move applications or entire datacenter operations to the Amazon cloud.

"There is just a gigantic opportunity for SIs [systems integrators] to help enterprises with migration managed services," said AWS CEO Andy Jassy at the time.

An executive for one of the initial participants in the new competency program, Slalom Consulting, explained its significance in a video posted by AWS on Thursday.

"The new AWS competency for migrations is really important," said Joel Rosenberger, managing director of cloud technologies for Slalom Consulting. "A lot of people come in thinking about AWS, migrating to AWS. But what you find is there's complexity both around the organizational and knowing which technologies to apply when. And so I think having a competency around migration is a really important thing, and it's an assurance both to AWS customers and even ourselves that we are doing the right things by our customers."

In a blog post about the new competency, Kate Miller of the APN explained the point of the AWS Competency Program, which also includes DevOps, Big Data, Security and other competencies.

"Making sure the right AWS Partners are highlighted to customers and making it easy for customers to connect with these partners is the ultimate goal of the AWS Competency Program. Attaining an AWS Competency allows you, as an AWS Partner with specific expertise, to differentiate yourself to customers by showcasing this expertise," Miller wrote.

Amazon released five lists of launch partners who have earned the competency in various specializations:

  • Migration Delivery Partners, who can handle every stage of a migration, include 2nd Watch, Accenture, Classmethod Inc., ClearScale, Cloud Technology Partners, cloudpack, Cloudreach, Cognizant Technology Solutions, CorpInfo, CSC, FPT Software, Infosys, Logicworks, REAN Cloud, Serverworks, Slalom Consulting and Smartronix.

  • Migration Consulting Partners include Apps Associates, Aquilent, Datapipe, Flux7, Pythian and TriNimbus.

  • Partners who offer Migration Technology for Discovery & Planning include Atadata, Cloudamize and RISC Networks.

  • Migration Technology for Workload Mobility Partners are Racemi, CloudEndure and Atadata.

  • Migration Technology for Application Profiling Partners are New Relic, AppDynamics and Dynatrace Ruxit.

Posted by Scott Bekker on June 09, 2016 at 12:39 PM0 comments

SolarWinds N-able, LOGICnow Combine To Form SolarWinds MSP

In a deal that combines two of the biggest players in the managed service provider (MSP) tools market, SolarWinds has bought LOGICnow and will combine their product lines into a unit called SolarWinds MSP, the companies said Wednesday.

SolarWinds, an IT management software company that bought its way into the MSP market with the acquisition of N-able Technologies in 2013, positioned the new combination as adding LOGICnow's cloud capabilities and MSP-focused data analytics to SolarWinds' existing remote monitoring and management (RMM) and other MSP-focused technologies.

"SolarWinds is committed to the growing MSP market and has realized great success through the acquisition of N-able, making the acquisition of LOGICnow a natural next step for us," said Kevin B. Thompson, president and CEO of SolarWinds, in a statement.

"SolarWinds MSP, combining the capabilities of LOGICnow and SolarWinds N-able, will offer MSPs a complete set of IT service management solutions via the cloud and on-premises delivery models. SolarWinds MSP gives them everything they need to acquire and retain profitable clients, deliver outstanding levels of service, and maximize their internal efficiency through standardization of their toolsets and the use of automation," Thompson said.

SolarWinds was a public company when it bought N-able. However, the company went private last year when private equity technology investment firms Silver Lake Partners and Thomas Bravo bought SolarWinds for about $4.5 billion in cash. What SolarWinds paid for LOGICnow was not disclosed.

[Editor's Note: The original blog entry posted on Wednesday, June 1, has been updated from here on based on a telephone interview Thursday, June 2, with SolarWinds MSP Managing Director Alistair Forbes.]

According to the companies, SolarWinds MSP will have a huge base of MSP customers worldwide -- 18,000 MSP companies with 200,000 engineers managing more than 5 million end points and 1 million mailboxes. About 5,000 of those MSPs are SolarWinds customers, with the rest coming from LOGICnow.

The companies identified new titles for a few senior LOGICnow executives within the SolarWinds MSP organization. LOGICnow CEO Walter Scott is now executive vice president for SolarWinds MSP, reporting to Thompson. LOGICnow General Manager Alistair Forbes and JP Jauvin, who ran the SolarWinds N-able business, each now hold the title of managing director at SolarWinds MSP, reporting to Scott.

Competitors were already field testing the messaging that they'll be honing in the coming months as they attempt to exploit any uncertainty within the SolarWinds MSP customer base. "Their customers should be concerned about this M&A event not only because of the massive debt that SolarWinds is taking on in order to fund it -- which in itself will require massive cuts in R&D and support to service it -- but the uncertainty around which product will survive when they merge the two product lines," said Kaseya CEO Fred Voccola in a statement e-mailed to reporters shortly after the deal was announced.

In an interview the morning after the acquisition, SolarWinds' Forbes acknowledged that there are overlaps in components of the two companies' MSP tool platforms. However, he made a clear commitment that not only would neither platform be discontinued, but that development would continue on both product lines.

"Both platforms are at the heart of many MSPs. We are acutely aware of the fact that the products that we're providing are used to run their businesses. Any changes are going to be incremental and additive -- taking technology from one platform and adding it into the other platform," Forbes said. "For us to say that we're going to retire one of them would be absolutely contrary to what we're doing here."

Instead, he emphasized new opportunities for both groups of MSPs, such as the ability for an MSP using N-central to offer MAX Backup and Disaster Recovery for customers.

Geographically, the combination gives SolarWinds a much stronger presence in Germany, France and Italy due to LOGICnow's distribution relationships. Looking at the ability to service different-sized MSPs, Forbes said, "We're now the only company in the market that has the ability to go from the smallest MSPs of two to three people to some of the very biggest [telcos]," Forbes said. He said smaller partners will tend to be drawn to the LOGICnow cloud products, while the biggest MSPs use on-premise-based N-central products.

Forbes also pointed to the headcount numbers for the combined unit as a source of reassurance for SolarWinds and LOGICnow partners. About 450 employees from LOGICnow will join the 300 employees of the SolarWinds N-able unit, to create a SolarWinds MSP business that is 750 employees strong. Executives are "still looking at redundancies" in administrative areas, Forbes said, but he didn't expect those to significantly affect the size of the unit. A key takeaway for MSPs, Forbes argued, is that "we have something like 400 engineers in R&D now within the SolarWinds MSP business."

On a similar note, Forbes contends that LOGICnow partners shouldn't be concerned that the SolarWinds MSP effort might get lost in the larger agenda of the IT-focused SolarWinds. SolarWinds MSP is between a third and a quarter of the overall SolarWinds business, he said: "We're a very important part of SolarWinds."

Posted by Scott Bekker on June 01, 2016 at 11:35 AM0 comments

Microsoft Names 2016 Partner of the Year Winners

Microsoft on Tuesday released its Partner of the Year award winners for 2016. Microsoft typically releases the list in May or June and honors the winners on the main stage and in a private event at its annual Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC), which will be held this year in Toronto on July 10-14.

Below are the categories, winners and finalists of the global awards, as well as a few country-level Partner of the Year winners.

Alliance Partner of the Year
Winner: Accenture/Avanade

Global Commercial ISV Alliance Partner of the Year
Winner: DataStax

Application Development Partner of the Year
Winner: Wortell
Finalist: Cloudhouse Technologies
Finalist: Resco spol. s r.o.
Finalist: Veeam Software

Cloud Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Partner of the Year
Winner: Sonoma Partners
Finalist: Cloud2020 Ltd.
Finalist: Computer Engineering & Consulting Ltd.
Finalist: PowerObjects, an HCL Company

Cloud Packaged Solutions Partner of the Year
Winner: SoftBank Technology
Finalist: Caase.com
Finalist: EDU 365 Group Ltd.
Finalist: GNet Group LLC

Cloud Productivity Partner of the Year
Winner: Atea AS
Finalist: Dedalus
Finalist: SADA Systems Inc.
Finalist: SoftBank Technology

Collaboration and Content Partner of the Year
Winner: Content and Code
Finalist: BrightStarr
Finalist: Kloud
Finalist: Rapid Circle

Communications Partner of the Year
Winner: Modality Systems
Finalist: Accenture/Avanade
Finalist: Nectar Services Corp.
Finalist: Proge-Software

Data Analytics Partner of the Year
Winner: Extend Solutions SA de CV
Finalist: Bismart
Finalist: Neudesic

Data Platform Partner of the Year
Winner: Hewlett Packard Enterprise
Finalist: Plain Concepts
Finalist: Rosslyn Analytics
Finalist: ScaleArc

Developer Platform Partner of the Year
Winner: Black Marble
Finalist: Commentor A/S
Finalist: Northwest Cadence
Finalist: Sogeti

Distributor Partner of the Year
Winner: Ingram Micro
Finalist: ALSO Holding AG
Finalist: Ingram Micro Brasil
Finalist: SND Distribuidora de Produtos de Informática

Enterprise Mobility Partner of the Year
Winner: Kloud
Finalist: Onevinn
Finalist: Oxford Computer Group
Finalist: Synergy Advisors LLC

Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) Partner of the Year
Winner: Columbus
Finalist: K3 Software Solutions
Finalist: mcaConnect LLC
Finalist: UXC Eclipse

Hosting Partner of the Year
Winner: Internet Initiative Japan Inc.
Finalist: Datapipe
Finalist: Extrinsica Global
Finalist: SherWeb

Hybrid Cloud and Infrastructure Platform Partner of the Year
Winner: Ensyst
Finalist: Inframon Ltd.
Finalist: innobit ag
Finalist: Sonata Information Technology Ltd.

Internet of Things (IoT) Partner of the Year
Winner: BlueMetal
Finalist: eBECS
Finalist: JCI
Finalist: MOQdigital

Learning Partner of the Year
Winner: DDLS
Finalist: NetCom Learning
Finalist: QA Ltd.

Messaging Partner of the Year
Winner: SoftBank Technology
Finalist: Dell
Finalist: Quadrasystems.net (India) Private Ltd.
Finalist: QUADROtech

Microsoft Azure Certified ISV Solution Partner of the Year
Winner: Barracuda
Finalist: Esri
Finalist: Veeam Software

Microsoft Dynamics Industry Partner of the Year
Winner: AEC360 Holdings
Finalist: Accenture/Avanade
Finalist: INFOMA Software Consulting GmbH
Finalist: SAGlobal

Modern Marketing Partner of the Year
Winner: PowerObjects, an HCL Company
Finalist: MediaValet
Finalist: Qorus Software
Finalist: RedPixie

OEM Partner of the Year
Winner: Exertis
Finalist: MouseComputer Co. Ltd.

Open Source on Azure Partner of the Year
Winner: OpenSistemas
Finalist: i3 Systems Inc.
Finalist: Link Development
Finalist: Xpirit Nederland BV and GoDataDriven

Partner Seller Partner of the Year
Winner: Rick Slager, Wortell
Finalist: Margaret Totten, IA Cubed
Finalist: Rob Kuehfus, Infront Consulting Group Inc.
Finalist: Takeshi Fujisawa, SoftBank Commerce & Service Corp.

Project and Portfolio Management Partner of the Year
Winner: CPS
Finalist: Campana & Schott
Finalist: Program Framework
Finalist: Projectum

Public Sector: Education Partner of the Year
Winner: 3P Learning Ltd.
Finalist: CoreAzure Ltd.
Finalist: Edsby
Finalist: EDU 365 Group Ltd.

Public Sector: Government Partner of the Year
Winner: SoftBank Technology
Finalist: AvePoint Inc.
Finalist: Caase.com
Finalist: Sparked

Public Sector: Health Partner of the Year
Winner: Innana S.A.S
Finalist: Innofactor
Finalist: Pyramid Analytics
Finalist: Whanau Tahi

Public Sector: Microsoft CityNext Partner of the Year
Finalist: ITWORX Education
Finalist: Tieto
Finalist: Wortell

Public Sector: Public Safety & National Security Partner of the Year
Winner: SMS
Finalist: Accelera Solutions
Finalist: IT Odjel
Finalist: risual

Small and Midmarket Cloud Solutions Partner of the Year
Winner: EMIT
Finalist: Be-CLOUD
Finalist: ProServeIT Corp.
Software Asset Management (SAM) Partner of the Year

Software Asset Management (SAM) Partner of the Year
Winner: Software Optimisation Services
Finalist: Business Connexion
Finalist: COMPAREX
Finalist: ITERBI

Technology for Good Partner of the Year
Winner: AvePoint Inc.
Finalist: 3P Learning Ltd.
Finalist: IA Cubed
Finalist: Navantis

Volume Licensing Partner of the Year
Winner: SoftwareONE Mexico
Finalist: CDW
Finalist: SHI International Corp.

Windows and Devices Deployment Partner of the Year
Winner: CDW
Finalist: Caase.com
Finalist: MPGIO Co. Ltd.
Finalist: Wortell

YouthSpark Partner of the Year
Winner: QA Ltd.
Finalist: IA Cubed
Finalist: L3
Finalist: Tribridge

Country Partners of the Year
United States: Catapult Systems
United Kingdom: eBECS
France: Expertime
Germany: VAS Value Added Software GmbH
India: Sonata Information Technology Ltd.
Japan: SoftBank Group
Netherlands: Caase.com
Italy: Insight Technology Solutions
Canada: Infusion
Russia: Softpoint Cluster Technology
Brazil: N1 IT
Australia: MOQdigital
Spain: Plain Concepts
South Africa: Karabina
New Zealand: Datacom Systems Ltd.

The full list of country-level winners is available here.

Posted by Scott Bekker on May 31, 2016 at 1:23 PM0 comments

PayPal Ending App Support for Windows Phone, BlackBerry, Amazon

Windows Phone is losing a key app, although the platform has company in its misery.

PayPal this week announced that June 30 will mark the end of the availability of its widely used digital payment apps for Windows Phone, Amazon Fire and BlackBerry.

Calling it a "difficult decision," Joanna Lambert, vice president of global consumer product and engineering at PayPal, said in a blog post, "We believe it's the right thing to ensure we are investing our resources in creating the very best experiences for our customers."

PayPal will be concentrating development and support resources on iOS and Android for mobile devices.

Lambert pointed out continuing, non-app options for Windows, BlackBerry and Amazon Fire users. "Windows Phone users can still access PayPal through our mobile Web experience on Internet Explorer and Microsoft Edge browsers. Outlook.com users can also use the PayPal add-in to send money directly from their inbox," Lambert said.

Similar mobile Web options exist for BlackBerry and Amazon Fire, and BlackBerry users can continue to use the BBM app to send peer-to-peer payments, Lambert said.

Posted by Scott Bekker on May 26, 2016 at 10:55 AM0 comments

Microsoft, Facebook Partner on Highest-Capacity Atlantic Subsea Cable

Microsoft and Facebook on Thursday jointly unveiled the highest-capacity subsea cable yet to carry their customers' data across the Atlantic Ocean.

Construction of the cable, called MAREA, is set to begin in August with an expected end date a little over a year later in October 2017. Telxius, a telecommunications infrastructure company owned by Telefonica, will operate the 4,100-mile cable system.

"MAREA will be the highest-capacity subsea cable to ever cross the Atlantic -- featuring eight fiber pairs and an initial estimated design capacity of 160Tbps," according to a blog post by Frank Rey, director of Global Network Acquisition for Microsoft Cloud Infrastructure and Operations. Designed to be interoperable with a variety of networking equipment, the cable system's throughput should improve along with optical technology advances, Rey said.

[Click on image for larger view.] The MAREA undersea cable, set to be completed next year, will span 4,100 miles between Virginia Beach, Va., and Bilbao, Spain. (Source: Microsoft)

The cable will take a more southerly route than existing U.S.-Europe cables. It will run from Virginia Beach, Va., to Bilbao, in northern Spain. Rey said having the route separate from other cables that primarily land in New York or New Jersey will provide resiliency for U.S. and European customers.

It's the fourth major undersea cable for Microsoft in a little over a year. About this time last year, Microsoft announced investments in two trans-Atlantic cables and a trans-Pacific cable.

Posted by Scott Bekker on May 26, 2016 at 11:26 AM0 comments