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AgileThought Wins 2017 RCP Rocket Award

AgileThought, a Tampa, Fla.-based custom software solution and development consulting specialist, is the 2017 winner of the RCP Rocket Award.

The RCP Rocket Award is a joint award of Redmond Channel Partner magazine and Revenue Rocket Consulting Group to recognize IT services companies with unique business strategies that are resulting in sustained growth. This is the fifth year for the RCP Rocket Award.

AgileThought won the 2017 RCP Rocket Award based on its excellence in implementation of its optimized growth strategy that netted significant tangible financial results in a very short time.

Watch the September/October issue of Redmond Channel Partner magazine for a full profile of AgileThought's nimble business moves and its inspiring growth story, as well as tips and lessons learned from their success.

Congratulations to CEO and President David Romine and the entire AgileThought team.

Posted by Scott Bekker on July 13, 2017 at 10:43 AM0 comments


Tech Data Makes Play for Old Small Business Server Niche

  • Complete Microsoft Inspire 2017 coverage here.

There are few products remembered as fondly by as many Microsoft partners as Windows Small Business Server (SBS).

A foundational product consisting of Windows Server, Exchange Server and a rotating cast of supporting server products such as SQL Server, SharePoint Server and various specialized components, SBS spurred and supported an entire ecosystem of small partners serving small business customers. The product represents a moment in tech when infrastructure for even the smallest companies was primarily kept on-premises, and when small shops of technically oriented partners found a thriving market for their skills.

Since Microsoft announced five years ago this month that there would be no new versions of SBS, that partner community has fragmented technologically. Some have kept customers on Windows SBS 2011, most components of which are now in the extended support phase. Others made the shift to Microsoft's Windows Server Essentials, a hybrid approach with an on-premises Windows Server and with e-mail in the cloud. Many have moved their customers entirely to Office 365-based cloud environments. Those are only a handful of the available approaches involving Microsoft technologies, and partners have found ways to meet small business customers' needs with non-Microsoft approaches, as well.

This week at Microsoft Inspire, Tech Data highlighted a bundle of its own that represents another option -- a soup-to-nuts back-end offering aimed at the needs of small businesses and the partners who sell to them but one that is entirely in the cloud, addressing the increasing preference among smaller customers to not have to worry about infrastructure in a wiring closet.

The distributor is pulling together its recently launched Tech Data Small Business Cloud Server with the Microsoft 365 Business package unveiled by Microsoft this week to create an SBS alternative for the cloud.

"We anticipated a high demand because of the installed base of SBS. There's lots of excitement about it," said Stacy Nethercoat, vice president for Cloud, Americas, at Tech Data, in an interview this week at the Inspire conference. "Partners could have pulled the elements together, but it lets a partner take a solution to market as quickly as possible. We see this as a facilitation play for SMB, even up into the mid-tier."

The Tech Data Small Business Cloud Server (SBCS) was launched last month as a bundle that included an Azure virtual machine, Office 365, backup, storage and VPN, with remote desktop as an option. Originally available in three sizes -- one to six users, seven to 20 users, and a package for larger customers -- the SBCS offering is configurable by Tech Data partners through its StreamOne platform, allowing partners to provision, bill and manage customers and their users. Tech Data is also building in such small business-friendly options as being able to set pre-determined usage thresholds and limits, allowing cost-conscious customers to avoid being caught by surprise with an unexpectedly large Azure usage bill.

With the announcement of Microsoft 365 Business this week at Inspire, Tech Data will upgrading its offering to include that subscription when Microsoft makes it fully available this fall. A public preview of Microsoft 365 Business is planned for Aug. 2. Microsoft 365 Business includes Office 365 Business Premium, along with security and management features for Office applications and for Windows 10 devices. The suite also features centralized console management for deploying and securing devices and users.

While SBCS currently includes Office 365, the Microsoft 365 Business version will be more robust in its security and management capabilities, especially for Windows 10 devices a customer owns.

Aside from its benefit for customers, Microsoft partners using the Tech Data approach could find themselves getting positive attention and help from their Microsoft contacts, given Microsoft's new fiscal year 2018 focus on Azure consumption.

Although interest is high, Nethercoat expects the ramp-up to take a little time, in addition to the wait for the full release of Microsoft 365. "We have to go build a market together," she said.

Posted by Scott Bekker on July 13, 2017 at 10:12 AM0 comments


Layoffs Under Way at Microsoft

The other shoe is dropping in the major sales and marketing reorganization that Microsoft began implementing earlier this week: The company started notifying employees of massive layoffs on Thursday.

Layoffs numbering in the thousands had been rumored and widely reported over the last few weeks, but leaked versions of companywide memos about the restructuring on Monday made no mention of layoffs.

CNBC reported on Thursday that Microsoft was cutting up to 3,000 jobs, with about 75 percent of them coming from offices out of the United States. For context, Microsoft has about 121,000 employees worldwide, 71,000 employees in the United States and about 52,000 employees in the affected global sales, marketing and worldwide business unit.

Thursday morning, Business Insider reported about Microsoft employees posting on the anonymous chat app, Blind, which is in use by about 25,000 of the company's workers, that they had been scheduled for 15-minute meetings where they expected to be laid off or transferred to new roles.

Microsoft confirmed cuts, but not numbers, in a statement to CNBC: "Today, we are taking steps to notify some employees that their jobs are under consideration or that their positions will be eliminated. Like all companies, we evaluate our business on a regular basis. This can result in increased investment in some places and, from time-to-time, re-deployment in others."

The layoffs are hitting just as Microsoft's fiscal year is beginning and as the company prepares for two of its most important business-related gatherings -- the partner conference, Inspire, next week, and the internal sales meeting the following week.

Related:

Posted by Scott Bekker on July 06, 2017 at 12:20 PM0 comments


DXC Technology Buys Tribridge

DXC Technology, the IT services giant formed by the April merger of CSC with HPE's services arm, bought one of Microsoft's biggest Dynamics partners, Tribridge, on Wednesday in a move to strengthen the DXC Dynamics 365 business.

Terms of Tyson's Corner, Va.-based DXC's first acquisition were not disclosed. The deal included Concerto Cloud Services, a Tribridge-affiliated company that provides advisory and managed services to the mid-market. DXC will rebrand the companies as Tribridge, a DXC Technology Company, and DXC Concerto.

Tribridge is a 19-year-old company based in Tampa, Fla., with 740 employees. A strategic ERP and CRM partner of Microsoft's since 2004, Tribridge has won several global and national Partner of the Year awards from Microsoft.

Tony DiBenedetto, co-founder and CEO of Tribridge, will continue to lead the business, a spokesperson said. He will report into a new business unit led by Troy Richardson, DXC senior vice president and general manager of Enterprise & Cloud Applications, that will combine Tribridge with DXC Eclipse, DXC's existing Dynamics-based business unit.

"The combination of Tribridge with DXC Eclipse significantly strengthens DXC's role as a leading Microsoft Dynamics 365 systems integrator, greatly enhancing our ability to address client needs," said Mike Lawrie, DXC chairman, president and CEO, in a statement.

DXC positioned the Tribridge acquisition as enhancing its business geographically in the Americas and vertically in health care, state and local government, consumer packaged goods and professional services.

Posted by Scott Bekker on July 05, 2017 at 12:51 PM0 comments


Microsoft's Pre-Inspire Reorg Raises 7 Big Questions for Partners

Many of Microsoft's most committed partners will be mostly stumbling in the dark on the basic facts of the company's massive sales and marketing reorganization as they arrive next week at Inspire, the Microsoft partner conference where they're supposed to get their marching orders and work out concrete business plans for a fiscal year that started July 1.

RCP asked Microsoft for a number of partner-related clarifications about the reorganization, but got only the canned response of the week from a Microsoft spokesperson: "Microsoft is implementing changes to better serve our customers and partners."

Here are some of the big partner questions RCP will be asking about at Inspire, the show formerly known as the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC), in Washington, D.C.:

Are partner categories and classifications changing related to the sales and marketing restructuring?
There are rumors of changes to the basic ways that Microsoft classifies partners and plans to go to market with them in fiscal year 2018. Some possibilities include no longer looking at partners as LSPs, VARs or CSPs, and instead viewing them by the categories of solutions they sell: Modern Workplace, Business Applications, Applications & Infrastructure, and Data & Artificial Intelligence.

The last time Microsoft substantially overhauled the competencies and other structures was a long time ago with the Microsoft Partner Network launch, so a big change is overdue. Yet, when that happened, Microsoft telegraphed the changes for several years in advance. With its increasing operational tempo, Microsoft spends a lot less time preparing partners for changes before springing new programs on them, so it's hard to say how major any changes to the partner program might be.

Did Microsoft settle the partner-facing employee structure with the One Commercial Partner in February or are there more changes to Microsoft's partner organization in the latest reorganization?
Effective Feb. 1, Microsoft consolidated its partner organization with the creation of the One Commercial Partner business within Judson Althoff's Worldwide Commercial Business Group. Althoff put former Salesforce.com executive Ron Huddleston in charge of One Commercial Partner, and had Worldwide Partner Group leader Gavriella Schuster, Enterprise Partner team leader Victor Morales and ISV team leader Kim Akers all report to Huddleston.

In some ways, the move telegraphed the larger restructuring that followed this week. In other ways, it seems to run counter to it (see the next item). The big question is whether the February round of partner-facing team reorganizations was a setup for the new reorganization, or whether that partner team is now in for another big shuffle. Let's hope Microsoft did the One Commercial Partner changes in February partly to provide some stability for partner engagement at Inspire. After all, partners are Microsoft's key route to market, and every partner who goes to Inspire is making a substantial investment in their Microsoft partnership by attending the conference. Having Microsoft employees with no choice but to shrug and tell those partners, "Things are up in the air," would be very damaging.

How should enterprise partners engage?
There are always jagged edges within Microsoft's organizational chart, given the company's size and complexity. One manifestation of that right now, should the One Commercial Partner organization that was spun up on Feb. 1 survive the new reorganization, is whether enterprise partners deal with the enterprise operating unit or with the small, medium and corporate (SMC) customers unit. The enterprise unit, which we're hearing will also include the former corporate account managed (CAM) accounts, is being run separately. Yet in the Feb. 1 partner reorganization, enterprise partners were moved into One Commercial Partner, which we're hearing is going to be part of SMC.

Can partners who formerly played in the CAM and EPG categories still conduct business seamlessly while being managed in a different organization? The answer is probably yes. Dotted lines are nothing new in a Microsoft organizational chart, but the lines of authority need to be worked out.

What about partners who focus on the enterprise but aren't in one of the six categories?
A detail emerging about the reorganization is that the enterprise operating unit will be organized around six key vertical industries. They are manufacturing, financial services, retail, health, education and government. That's all well and good for partners who work in the enterprise and are in those six categories. What about all the other verticals? Meanwhile, are all education and government sales classified as enterprise now, or do government departments, state and local or individual school deals also fall under SMC?

Where does Microsoft Consulting Services fit in now?
Unmentioned in the reporting about Microsoft's internal memos laying out the changes is the role of Microsoft Consulting Services (MCS). Long a source of channel conflict and suspicion between Microsoft and its partners, the future of MCS is a key detail of the reorganization.

How fast will Microsoft settle the internal churn?
Although Microsoft hasn't confirmed anything, sources tell RCP that thousands of job roles will be eliminated, with others getting created and filled. (Update, 7/6: Microsoft reportedly began the process of laying off about 3,000 people on Thursday. Read about it here.) That's a tough situation for all of those employees at Microsoft, stressful even for those who will land new roles, and many Microsoft partners are expressing concern and empathy for their friends in the organization.

It also means the Microsoft field will start fiscal year 2018 completely flat-footed, focused internally on getting and filling the new positions rather than on winning deals with its partners. A key question for Inspire will be how long partners can realistically expect Microsoft to be absent as a force to drive business while they're getting their new house in order.

Is this the last time for this rodeo?
One curious thing about Microsoft is its continuing focus on the fourth quarter. Since 2010, Microsoft has been urging partners to go "all in" with the cloud. Yet, seven years later, Microsoft itself is reorganizing its sales and marketing structure at the beginning of the fiscal year, the same way it used to a decade ago. Q4 was sacrosanct, that period when Microsoft needed all hands on deck to close the year with a strong quarter of SQL Server 2005 or Windows Server 2003 R2.

In a cloud era, Q1 sales are four times as valuable as Q4 deals. Yet once again, Microsoft's big reorg will freeze the company and its partner ecosystem in Q1. It's forgivable if this is the big move that finally aligns Microsoft to a cloud-based, recurring-revenue orientation. If Microsoft needs another massive Q1 shuffle in a couple of years, though...

Posted by Scott Bekker on July 05, 2017 at 12:41 PM0 comments


Next for Nutanix: Applications, Public Cloud Support, Google Partnership

Nutanix plans to pull applications into its hyperconverged infrastructure platform and make it possible to extend that platform to all three major public clouds, the company revealed this week at its .NEXT conference in Washington, D.C.

The additions to the Nutanix Enterprise Cloud Platform will include the new products Nutanix Calm, for application management, and Nutanix Xi Cloud Services, which will allow Nutanix software to be consumed as a service by Amazon Web Services (AWS), Google Cloud Platform (GCP) and Microsoft Azure.

Although Nutanix CEO Dheeraj Pandey presided over Calm and Xi demos on the conference stage, neither product will be available for a while. Calm is slated for availability in the fourth quarter of this year. Xi is only planned to be available initially as a specific application for disaster recovery, with an "early access" technology release set for early 2018.

Pandey positioned the melding of Xi with Nutanix's on-premises products as the path that the company is following toward hybrid computing. "That's the big announcement of this conference, but obviously it's a multi-year journey for us," he said during a conference kickoff keynote Wednesday night.

While all three major public clouds are part of the Xi plan, most emphasis at .NEXT on Wednesday was on GCP because Nutanix and Alphabet, Google's parent company, announced a strategic alliance. Diane Greene, senior vice president of Google Cloud, took the stage to discuss the three components of the deal, which are GCP integration with Calm and Xi and a joint solution for Kubernetes, Google Container Engine and Nutanix's Acropolis Container Services.

Shares of Nutanix jumped more than 7 percent Wednesday on news of the Alphabet partnership. Nutanix, founded in 2009, went public last September. Fruits of that alliance aren't expected to arrive until the first quarter of calendar 2018, with planned availability of the integration of Nutanix Calm with GCP as the first deliverable.

Calm and Xi would extend Nutanix's current offering, which is like operating system software for a software-defined datacenter that brings together server, storage, virtualization and networking resources on integrated hardware. Nutanix currently delivers its on-premises-only hyperconverged infrastructure offerings in three ways: as its own, branded dedicated appliances, such as the NX-1000; as dedicated partner appliances from Dell and Lenovo; or as software running on approved Cisco UCS or HPE ProLiant hardware. On Tuesday, Nutanix and IBM also announced that Nutanix would be coming to IBM OpenPOWER LC Systems.

What Xi would do is allow users to take existing Cloud OS constructs from within the current Nutanix environment and use them in AWS, GCP and Azure. The company contends that the approach will eventually allow for rapid movement of traditional enterprise applications -- think SQL Server or Oracle database deployments -- from Nutanix private clouds into the public clouds, and back as needed.

"What if we could help enterprises move to the public cloud but preserve the tooling, preserve the economics, preserve the SLAs?" said Nutanix Chief Product Officer Sunil Potti in a Tuesday morning keynote.

Potti called disaster recovery the biggest use case for the approach and said it will improve the process of testing disaster recovery for enterprises and reduce the need for secondary datacenters. "You shouldn't have to worry about your secondary datacenters going forward. In the next few years, frankly, you should be out of the secondary datacenter business," he predicted.

Potti also focused on Calm during his keynote, calling it Nutanix's "first strategic product beyond Acropolis and Prism," which are the company's operating system and its management technologies, respectively.

"Every portion of our workflows are now coming top-down from an apps-down perspective," he said in describing Calm, which starts with a marketplace interface showing a menu of applications users can start with. Among the applications in demos and slides were numerous Microsoft applications, Aviatrix, AWS, Citrix, Hadoop, Docker, Cassandra, MySQL and MondoDB.

Organizations would use a visual UI to create app blueprints that capture elements of an application, including virtual machines, related binaries, a sequence of operations and configurations. Then the blueprint could be deployed on any supported platform, be it within a Nutanix private cloud using Nutanix AHV Virtualization or on a public cloud platform.

According to Potti, the portability will create the ability to compare pricing, service levels and scalability among deployment targets. "Imagine your CIO going to your business and saying, look, you can go to whatever [platform]. Tell us your [scalability requirements], SLA and cost and let the system tell us AHV, Azure, AWS, Google," he said. If the user is considering AWS, he explained, "You'll be able to log into Calm, log into AWS, into that account, and it will scrape AWS usage, model the workload with heuristics around workload and cost, [and say] 'This is what it would cost. Do you want to migrate?'"

That ability to make a runtime decision based on scale and cost about what platform to deploy on, Potti argued, "is the real power of Calm."

Posted by Scott Bekker on June 29, 2017 at 9:09 AM0 comments


Independent SonicWall Boasts of Booming Channel Momentum

SonicWall is coming out of Dell's shadow at a flat-out sprint.

Late last year, Francisco Partners and Elliot Management completed the acquisition of Dell Software Group and spun out SonicWall as an independent company. Simultaneously on Nov. 1, SonicWall created the SonicWall SecureFirst Partner Program.

The 25-year-old company took the opportunity to redefine itself, as Steve Pataky, vice president of Worldwide Sales and Channel for SonicWall, explained in an interview earlier this year. "We're getting back to the legacy of SonicWall being really focused on the channel. This signals our return to being a 100 percent channel company, with 100 percent focus on security and with 100 percent of our brand, SonicWall," Pataky said.

Channel partners are flocking to the private network security company, soaking up training and transacting business, according to figures released by SonicWall on Tuesday.

SonicWall currently boasts that 15,000 partners have registered for SecureFirst since November, with about 5,000 signing up in the last three months. Of those 15,000 partners, 4,000 are new partners for SonicWall, roughly double the number of new partners that SonicWall had three months ago. Signing up from 90 countries, the SonicWall channel consists of resellers, integrators, managed security service providers and security consultants.

The new SonicWall University that was launched at the end of March is also getting heavy use, with 10,000 hours of training logged and 19,000 successful exams so far, according to the company.

It hasn't hurt that SonicWall's refocused story came as WannaCry made ransomware a household word, not to mention the Petya attack that is hitting now and pushing security even closer to the forefront. SonicWall's initial partner-focused marketing campaign investments earlier this year involved newsworthy topics like ransomware and phishing e-mails.

The recruitment and training metrics are significant, but Pataky says all the activity is being successfully converted to real revenue opportunities. He said this week that SonicWall has seen 50 percent growth in partner deal registration, representing $250 million in new pipeline.

Posted by Scott Bekker on June 28, 2017 at 11:44 AM0 comments


Box-Microsoft: A Partnership for a Complicated World

Later this year, Microsoft and Box will begin co-selling the Box cloud content management platform with Azure on the back end.

The deal announced this week involves competitive complications for both companies. For Microsoft, a main wrinkle is that Box technology competes directly with OneDrive and SharePoint and indirectly on other fronts. For Box, in addition to the OneDrive/SharePoint coopetition, the company must navigate its existing relationships with the other major cloud platforms, Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Google Cloud.

By involving sales and go-to-market investments, the Box relationship with Microsoft is different than its deals with AWS and Google. As Recode noted in a report on the partnership, Box currently stores customer data on its own servers and backs the data up to AWS, while it has arrangements for delivering Google's apps to customers, as well.

As part of the Microsoft agreement, Box will also be looking at ways to integrate Azure Cognitive Services into its products. Some possibilities, according to the companies, include video indexing and other advanced search capabilities.

One interesting twist is that Box will also look to Azure's global datacenter footprint to accelerate its own data sovereignty efforts. There are concerns in many countries outside the United States about the U.S. government having access to data held by U.S.-based companies. Microsoft views those concerns as a threat to its ability to profit from its massive investments in building datacenters around the globe, partly explaining the very public fight between Microsoft and the U.S. Department of Justice over the government's right to customer data held on servers in Ireland.

Faced with similar customer pressures, Box launched Box Zones in April 2016 and the data sovereignty-focused service is available in eight countries. As part of the agreement, Box plans to piggyback on Microsoft's substantial geographic Azure investments to expand its own service. The companies noted that Azure has 40 datacenter regions around the world, giving Box a lot of directions to expand its service.

If Box ends up using Azure for Zones, it will be a case of one U.S. company using the infrastructure of another U.S. company to get around customer concerns that arise, in part, from worries about the security of data stored by U.S. companies.

Posted by Scott Bekker on June 28, 2017 at 12:43 PM0 comments


This Blog Post Was Created with Microsoft Dictate

Editor's Note: The following text was generated using Dictate, Microsoft's new speech-to-text feature in Office. To read the original script, plus some useful resources, scroll toward the end.

microsoft has a new experimental add in for office called dictate it is supposed to improve the experience of talking to word, outlook and powerpoint rather than typing to enter text into a document

officially, microsoft called dictate a" project released through the microsoft garage, " and emerged from an annual microsoft hackathon and had one thousand five hundred microsoft employees using it in more than forty countries before the release on Wednesday.  rather than write a usual blog post about dictate,  I figured I'd download it, give it a spin and publish the results as a blog post.  the traditionally typescript that I dictated from is included below so you can judge the results for yourself. 

the back end of microsoft 's speech to text conversion for dictate involves microsoft cognitive services , the bing speech api and microsoft translator, although I only tried english.  at lunch, the addin can transcribes voice in twenty four languages.  some of those languages are geographic variations.   for example, there are five variations of english colon u s, uk , india, canada and australia.   it also offers reeltime text translation of about sixty  languages . 

I'm posting the relevant urls, like the one for the blog post announcing dictate, at the bottom of the blog post because urls aren't supported by the publish list of,nds available in english at lunch.  I would've put that last sentence in parentheses, parentheses aren't in the,nd list yet either.  I could've stopped dictating, typed in the parentheses and resume dictation, but that's not how I wanted to roll for this test . 

 see the bottom of this post for the list of nine available,nds at lunch.  trying to dictate those,nds to appear here would presumably cause the tool to go crazy, or require level of planning, thought and logic that I'm definitely not capable of before my second cup of coffee . 

the download process was relatively straightforward .  I went to the projects page, and followed the instructions for figuring out if your copy of office is thirty two bit or sixty four bit.  I'm using sixty four bit word twenty sixteen here.  more about my test rig colon it's a dell latitude with intel core I five cpu in eight gigabytes of ram running windows ten enterprise.   I'm also using jobr is cortana integrated evolve sixty five headset.  did you need to know all that? of course not, I just wanted to see what dictate would do with all that technical jargon. 

[Click on image for larger view.] Microsoft Dictate interface in Word 2016.

the download with very quick, and when I opened word," dictation " showed up for this to the right in the list of tabs, just before the search box.  clicking on the dictation tab brings up a straight forward interface.  

mousing over the manual punctuation icon shows the spoken,nds are available in a link for word dictate that may be helpful I'll eventually but so far only includes generic instructions for viewing, managing installing adens in office in for taking linked notes. 

for this trial, I'm not running spell check, which obviously would greatly improve the final output wouldn't give a picture of the tools rock capabilities. 

hopefully the short test will give you a sense of whether dictate will be worth your time .

Original Text:

Microsoft has a new experimental add-in for Office called Dictate that is supposed to improve the experience of talking to Word, Outlook and PowerPoint rather than typing to enter text into a document.

Officially, Microsoft called Dictate a "project released through the Microsoft Garage," and it emerged from an annual Microsoft hackathon and had 1,500 Microsoft employees using it in more than 40 countries before the release on Wednesday. Rather than write a usual blog post about Dictate, I figured I'd download it, give it a spin and publish the results as a blog post. The traditionally typed script that I dictated from is included below so you can judge the results for yourself.

The back end of Microsoft's speech-to-text conversion for Dictate involves Microsoft Cognitive Services, the Bing Speech API and Microsoft Translator, although I only tried English. At launch, the add-in can transcribe voice in 24 languages. Some of those languages are geographic variations. For example, there are five variations of English: U.S., U.K., India, Canada and Australia. It also offers real-time text translation of about 60 languages.

I'm posting the relevant URLs, like the one for the blog post announcing Dictate, at the bottom of the blog post because URLs aren't supported by the published list of commands available in English at launch. I would have put that last sentence in parentheses, but parentheses aren't in the command list yet either. I could have stopped dictating, typed in the parentheses and resumed dictation, but that's not how I wanted to roll for this test.

See the bottom of this post for the list of nine available commands at launch. Trying to dictate those commands to appear here would presumably cause the tool to go crazy, or require a level of planning, thought and logic that I'm definitely not capable of before my second cup of coffee.

The download process was relatively straightforward. I went to the project's page, and followed the instructions for figuring out if your copy of Office is 32-bit or 64-bit. I'm using 64-bit Word 2016 here. More about my test rig: It's a Dell Latitude with an Intel Core i5 CPU and 8GB of RAM running Windows 10 Enterprise. I'm also using Jabra's Cortana-integrated Evolve 65 headset. Did you need to know all that? Of course not, I just wanted to see what Dictate would do with all that technical jargon.

The download was very quick, and when I opened Word, "Dictation" showed up furthest to the right in the list of tabs, just before the search box. Clicking on the Dictation tab brings up a straightforward interface. You just hit the microphone icon under Start and begin speaking.

Mousing over the Manual Punctuation icon shows the spoken commands that are available and a link for WordDictate that may be a help file eventually but so far only includes generic instructions for viewing, managing and installing add-ins in Office and for taking linked notes.

For this trial, I am not running a spellcheck, which obviously would greatly improve the final output but wouldn't give a picture of the tool's raw capabilities.

Hopefully this short test will give you a sense of whether Dictate will be worth your time.

Useful Links:

Commands Available (English):

  • New Line: Takes cursor to new line
  • Delete: Removes the last line you dictated
  • Stop Dictation: Terminates the dictation session
  • Full Stop or Period: Types period character (.)
  • Question Mark: Types (?)
  • Open Quote: Types (")
  • Close Quote: Types (")
  • Colon: Types (:)
  • Comma: Types (,)

Posted by Scott Bekker on June 22, 2017 at 10:48 AM0 comments


CEO: Security, Go-to-Market Are Next for Continuum

Redmond Channel Partner magazine caught up with Continuum CEO Michael George on Thursday, a day after the managed services provider tools vendor landed an acquisition by Thoma Bravo LLC. (See our story Wednesday for details.) What follows are excerpts from the conversation.

On whether and how long George will be staying on in the CEO role he's held since September 2011:
"I'm a part owner and I'm an investor. By sound mind and reason, I'd be a fool to leave prematurely [laughs]. This is a company that we've been building now for the last five years to get to this foundational point. As long as I'm the right CEO for the company, I intend to stay on."

On whether the investment puts Continuum in better position to make acquisitions, which Thoma Bravo officials mentioned could be on the horizon:
"For sure, but I think that's more a function of the size and scale of our company. When Summit Partners acquired us [in 2011] we were about 400 employees. We've been profitable. We only had 43 employees in the U.S. at the time. Today we're 1,400 employees. We have 400 employees in the U.S. We have offices [now] in the U.K., Australia, Manila and Mumbai. We have a very distributed engineering environment. We've always had capacity to invest, grow and build, or buy. We have more capacity just because we have size and scale. I have a full-time M&A guy on my team, Steve Cardillo, and he has a team of people [looking for companies to acquire, researching them and doing due diligence]."

On what Continuum's MSP partners should expect:
"There are two things that you should see likely change for us, that we'll lean into more aggressively. One is acquisitions -- products and services. [The other is] investing in our go-to-market to make more and better resources available to [our partners] so they can sell and grow and be more profitable. Our revenue model is utilization-based. We're very focused on helping our partners go get more customers."

On the technology areas that Continuum will look to make investments in the near future:
"I think the watchword is security for us. It's a very big problem, and it's getting bigger. If you think about what we do, the unique value proposition from Continuum is the fact that we have this vertically integrated solutions model. We have the NOC, the help desk. Soon we're going to have a security operations center that we're going to take to market that's going to enable people to have massive scale and have our MSPs have massive scale and capacity. Security is the category that no one technology solves for. You have to defend, which technology can do, but then you have to detect, and that requires people. There's over 1,000 people in the service delivery side of [our] business. That completes the whole equation -- RMM, security, then backup and recovery. Those are the three pillars of the IT service waterfront, what I affectionately call the holy trinity of the IT service waterfront."

Related:

Posted by Scott Bekker on June 15, 2017 at 12:19 PM0 comments


Thoma Bravo Buys Continuum

Continuum, a major provider of tools for managed service providers (MSPs), is being acquired by private equity firm Thoma Bravo LLC.

The deal was announced Wednesday evening. Terms were not disclosed.

Thoma Bravo is buying Continuum from Summit Partners about five and a half years after Summit Partners bought the remote monitoring and management (RMM) business of Zenith Infotech, first calling the company Zenith RMM LLC and then a short time later renaming it Continuum.

"Thoma Bravo is the perfect financial and strategic partner for us at this important stage of our company's growth," said Michael George, CEO of Continuum, in a statement in which he also credited Summit Partners for its support over the years. "This investment will enable us to continue to capitalize on our core value propositions and increase critical investments in product development, as well as sales and marketing tools for our MSP partners to help accelerate their growth."

Those investments could lead to add-on acquisitions, according to a statement from a partner at Thoma Bravo, A.J. Rohde. "What Michael George and his team have delivered on in terms of an innovative product suite and full software and services model has been very impressive, and we can't wait to work with them to accelerate the world-class offering they deliver to MSPs, both organically and through add-on acquisitions," Rohde said.

The acquisition comes as part of Thoma Bravo's Discover Fund, which was started in 2016 and focuses on growth-oriented technology companies in the lower middle market. Other Discover Fund investments include integrated risk management provider Riskonnect, cybersecurity provider Bomgar, supply chain operating network Elmica, analytics company Infogix, and parking management software firm T2 Systems.

Within the broader portfolio of companies in which Thoma Bravo either currently holds a stake with its $17 billion in capital commitments or has previously invested are Blue Coat Systems, Hyland Software, Riverbed, SailPoint and SonicWall. One company in that class is SolarWinds, which offers MSP tools that compete with Continuum's.

While the privately held Continuum does not share revenue figures, other statistics touted in the acquisition announcement show growth over the company's scale in 2011. The size of the Continuum channel has gone from 3,000 partners to 5,800 partners, the number of endpoints managed went from 400,000 to more than 1 million, and the employee headcount rose from around 600 to more than 1,400.

Posted by Scott Bekker on June 14, 2017 at 12:14 PM0 comments


Microsoft Unveils 2017 Partner of the Year Awards

Microsoft on Thursday named the several hundred winners and finalists of its Partner of the Year Awards, which will be handed out next month when partners gather from around the world in Washington, D.C., for the Microsoft Inspire conference.

Global Category Winners
Alliance Global Commercial ISV Partner of the Year

Alliance SI Partner of the Year

Application Development Partner of the Year

  • Winner: ICONICS
  • Finalist: nexx.tv GmbH
  • Finalist: Black Marble
  • Finalist: Veeam

Business Analytics Partner of the Year

  • Winner: Neal Analytics
  • Finalist: BizData
  • Finalist: Slalom
  • Finalist: Brillio

Cloud Apps Partner of the Year

  • Winner: Neudesic
  • Finalist: MOQdigital
  • Finalist: Rackspace
  • Finalist: SELA

Cloud Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Partner of the Year

Cloud Packaged Solutions Partner of the Year

  • Winner: P2V Systems
  • Finalist: LanCloud (LanKey Group)
  • Finalist: Caase.com
  • Finalist: Extrinsica Global

Cloud Productivity Partner of the Year

  • Winner: (joint submission) The Consortium -- Content and Code, Inframon, Modality Systems, Program Framework and Coeo
  • Finalist: Dimension Data
  • Finalist: Ernst & Young LLP
  • Finalist: Catapult Systems

Collaboration and Content Partner of the Year

  • Winner: Slalom
  • Finalist: SoftBank Technology
  • Finalist: harmon.ie
  • Finalist: Rapid Circle

Communications Partner of the Year

  • Winner: PAIS Kuwait
  • Finalist: NeWay Technologies
  • Finalist: Modality Systems
  • Finalist: C3ntro Telecom | Microsoft Enterprise Productivity

Customer Experience Partner of the Year

  • Winner: Qorus Software
  • Finalist: Content and Code
  • Finalist: MediaValet
  • Finalist: Cavalry

Data Platform Partner of the Year

  • Winner: Cognizant Technology Solutions
  • Finalist: Bitscape Infotech Pvt Ltd
  • Finalist: (joint submission) HPE & Pragmatic Works Consulting
  • Finalist: Capax Global

DevOps Partner of the Year

  • Winner: InCycle Software
  • Finalist: Sogeti
  • Finalist: Canarys Automations Private Limited
  • Finalist: AIS

Distributor Partner of the Year

  • Winner: Also Holding AG
  • Finalist: Westcoast
  • Finalist: Tech Data
  • Finalist: Ingram Micro

Enterprise Mobility Partner of the Year

Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) Partner of the Year

  • Winner: SAGlobal
  • Finalist: Accenture/Avanade
  • Finalist: Sable37 (formerly Sable Systems)
  • Finalist: mcaConnect LLC

Hybrid Cloud and Infrastructure Partner of the Year

  • Winner: 10th Magnitude
  • Finalist: InSpark (previously known as inovativ)
  • Finalist: Long View

Internet of Things (IoT) Partner of the Year

  • Winner: COPA-DATA
  • Finalist: The Yield
  • Finalist: Accenture/Avanade
  • Finalist: ML!PA Consulting GmbH

Learning Partner of the Year

  • Winner: Fast Lane
  • Finalist: Firebrand Nordic
  • Finalist: Lithan Academy Pte Ltd

Messaging Partner of the Year

  • Winner: Perficient
  • Finalist: Sonata Information Technology Ltd.
  • Finalist: Wortell
  • Finalist: New Signature

Microsoft Dynamics Industry Partner of the Year

  • Winner: Tribridge
  • Finalist: Levtech Consulting
  • Finalist: Edgewater Fullscope
  • Finalist: Sunrise Technologies Inc.

Microsoft Philanthropies Cloud for Global Good -- Technology for Good Partner of the Year

  • Winner: Navantis
  • Finalist: Gap Consulting
  • Finalist: adesso AG
  • Finalist: NV Interactive

Microsoft Philanthropies Cloud for Global Good -- YouthSpark Partner of the Year

  • Winner: REDBELT
  • Finalist: QA Limited
  • Finalist: Brillio

Mobile App Development Partner of the Year

  • Winner: BlueMetal
  • Finalist: Productive Edge
  • Finalist: Unissoft Technology Co. Ltd.
  • Finalist: SapientRazorfish

Open Source on Azure Partner of the Year

  • Winner: Cardinal Solutions Group
  • Finalist: Aztek
  • Finalist: G&S Gestión y Sistemas SAC
  • Finalist: T-Systems International

Partner Seller Partner of the Year

  • Winner: Sebastien Molendijk, Econocom
  • Finalist: Reed Wiedower, New Signature
  • Finalist: Ronnie Eliasson, B3 IT AB
  • Finalist: Asaf Nakash, Dario IT Solutions

Project and Portfolio Management Partner of the Year

  • Winner: Projectum
  • Finalist: Prosperi
  • Finalist: Ernst & Young LLP
  • Finalist: Sensei Project Solutions

Public Sector: Education Partner of the Year

  • Winner: U-Planner
  • Finalist: Learning Possibilities Limited
  • Finalist: Edsby
  • Finalist: Authentica Solutions

Public Sector: Government Partner of the Year

  • Winner: Lagash
  • Finalist: GIS People
  • Finalist: Bitscape Infotech Pvt Ltd
  • Finalist: risual

Public Sector: Health Partner of the Year

  • Winner: Allscripts
  • Finalist: KPMG
  • Finalist: adesso AG
  • Finalist: SADA Systems Inc.

Public Sector: Microsoft CityNext Partner of the Year

  • Winner: AvePoint
  • Finalist: PricewaterhouseCoopers Private Limited
  • Finalist: Indra Sistemas SA
  • Finalist: Genetec

Public Sector: Public Safety & National Security Partner of the Year

  • Winner: Genetec
  • Finalist: Black Marble
  • Finalist: Taqtile
  • Finalist: (joint submission) NV Interactive & Intergen

Small and Midmarket Cloud Solutions Partner of the Year

  • Winner: Be-CLOUD
  • Finalist: Onex Group
  • Finalist: Intercept

Windows and Devices Deployment Partner of the Year

  • Winner: Dell
  • Finalist: Dimension Data
  • Finalist: CDW
  • Finalist: itnetX AG

Country Partner of the Year Winners
Angola: Menshen
Argentina: AXXON Consulting
Armenia: Dom-Daniel
Aruba: (joint submission) NetPro Aruba and Inova Solutions
Australia: Mexia
Austria: ACP IT Solutions
Bahrain: Computer World WLL
Bangladesh: Aamra Technologies
Belarus: JLLC DPA
Belgium: Realdolmen
Bermuda: Fireminds
Bolivia: Dima Ltda
Bosnia & Herzegovina: King ICT
Brazil: Dedalus Prime
Brunei: Tech One Solution Sdn Bhd
Cambodia: Softline (Cambodia) Co.
Canada: Genetec
Cayman Islands: SALT Technology Group
Chile: Softline Internacional Chile
China: Shanghai Nanang Wanbang Software Technology Co. Ltd.
Colombia: Lagash
Costa Rica: ITQuest Solutions
Croatia: COMBIS
Curacao: Inova Solutions
Cyprus: Dot.Cy Developments Ltd.
Czech Republic: SoftwareONE Czech Republic
Denmark: VENZO A/S
Dominican Republic: C-ven Technologies
Ecuador: BUSINESS IT
Egypt: HITS Technologies
El Salvador: Advanced IT Consulting Services
Estonia: Primend
Finland: M-Files Corp.
France: Cegid
Germany: ORBIS AG
Greece: ATCOM S.A.
Guatemala: SEGA
Honduras: SEGA Honduras
Hong Kong Special Administrative Region: HKT Limited
Hungary: S&T Hungary Consulting
Iceland: Wise
India: Sonata Information Technology Ltd.
Indonesia: PT Mastersystem Infotama
Ireland: Codec-dss
Israel: Cloud Valley (Dario IT Solutions)
Italy: Softjam spa
Jamaica: Inova Solutions
Japan: FIXER Inc.
Jordan: Specialized Technical Services
Kazakhstan: Softline Services LLP
Kenya: Dimension Data
Korea: SBCK Corp.
Kuwait: Diyar United Trading & Contracting Co.
Latvia: Squalio (SIA DPA)
Lebanon: Comprehensive Computing Innovations
Lithuania: UAB SQUALIO Lietuva
Luxembourg: Wizata
Malaysia: rhipe
Malta: Eyetech Ltd.
Martinique: Infodom
Mauritius: The Cloud Factory EMEA Ltd.
Mexico: Pegaso Tecnologia
Morocco: Netopia Solutions
Netherlands: SnelStart Software B.V.
New Zealand: Kinetics Group
Nicaragua: Intcomex
Nigeria: Reliance Infosystems Ltd.
Oman: International Information Technology Co. LLC
Pakistan: Confiz
Palestinian Authority: NTS
Panama: Business IT Panama
Paraguay: Diviserv S.A.
Peru: G&S Gestion y Sistemas SAC
Philippines: EPLDT Inc.
Poland: Sagra Technology Sp. z o.o.
Portugal: Tech Data Portugal
Puerto Rico: Invid, LLC
Qatar: Mannai Corp.
Romania: Likeit Solution SRL
Russia: Navicon
Rwanda: Dimension Data
Saudi Arabia: Computer World International
Serbia: ComTrade System Integration
Singapore: Accenture/Avanade
Slovakia: Softip, a.s.
Slovenia: Stroka produkt d.o.o.
South Africa: BUI
Spain: Avanade Spain SLU
Sri Lanka: Sanje Pvt Ltd
Sweden: Acando AB
Switzerland: Sword Switzerland
Taiwan: Iscom Online International Information Inc.
Tanzania: Techno Brain T Ltd.
Thailand: G-Able Mverge
Trinidad & Tobago: Inova Solutions
Turkey: Netas Telekomunikasyon A.S.
Ukraine: Comparex Ukraine LLC
United Arab Emirates: Teambase
United Kingdom: CGI IT UK Ltd.
United States: Neudesic
Uruguay: AT srl
Venezuela: RKM Suministros S.A.
Vietnam: HPT Vietnam Corp.

Posted by Scott Bekker on June 01, 2017 at 11:48 AM0 comments