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Nadella IDs Top Opportunities: Office 365 E5, CRM, BI, Security and Windows

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella spent part of his earnings call this week explaining some of Microsoft's recent restructuring moves as a way to align the company with the biggest opportunities.

"We pushed forward in our transformation by focusing our investment in areas where we have differentiation and significant opportunity for future growth in large addressable markets," Nadella said during the call.

So what are those big opportunities? Nadella put dollar figures on four of them, totaling $115 billion.

  • E5, the new SKU of Office 365, which takes the top-selling E3 SKU and adds cloud PBX, PSTN conferencing, Delve analytics, Power BI Pro, Lockbox and advanced threat protection. "With E5, we have expanded our market opportunity for Office 365 by more than $50 billion," Nadella said, using a figure in the ballpark of what Microsoft executives told partners a week ago at the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference. "This new E5 SKU and the launch of Office 2016 will drive one of the biggest new businesses for us."

  • CRM. Nadella called CRM a $20-billion market with "massive opportunity for reinvention."

  • BI and analytics. "Business intelligence and analytics is another large, rapidly growing market for us with an opportunity of more than $15 billion," Nadella said.

  • Security. Calling security "a key priority for our enterprise customers," Nadella used a figure of $30 billion for that market opportunity.

One other area -- although Nadella didn't attach a specific dollar figure to the opportunity -- was Windows 10. He vowed that Windows 10 would broaden the economic opportunity for Microsoft and the PC ecosystem and return Windows to growth.

Posted by Scott Bekker on July 22, 2015 at 10:23 AM0 comments

Microsoft Names New U.S. Channel Chief

After a three-month search, Microsoft this week named Oracle veteran Stephen Boyle to run the U.S. channel for Microsoft, replacing Jenni Flinders.

Boyle's formal title is vice president of U.S. Partner Strategy and Programs. He reports to David Willis, corporate vice president of Microsoft U.S. Small and Midmarket Solutions & Partners (SMS&P), who announced the appointment in a blog post Tuesday.

"This announcement is the culmination of an exhaustive search for the right leader, and I know Stephen will play a key role in leading across Microsoft U.S. to transform how we scale our business together with partners. Stephen's role is a critical one for the organization and the company, as he will serve as our U.S. 'Channel Chief,' supporting our vast U.S. partner ecosystem," Willis said.

Boyle has been at Microsoft for just over a year, most recently reporting to Susan Hauser as a vice president in the Enterprise Partner Group. Before coming to Microsoft, he was group vice president for ISV and OEM sales at Oracle, one of a number of senior leadership roles he held at Oracle since 2005, according to his LinkedIn profile. Boyle also lists Sun Microsystems and Data General among the places he's worked in a 25-year tech career.

In a statement for Willis' blog post, Boyle kept his comments to Microsoft's current big themes: "I'm very excited to join U.S. SMS&P as the new U.S. Channel Chief. I'm looking forward to working closely with many of you and accelerating partner transformation in this mobile-first, cloud-first world. I believe we must enable and engage with all of our partners to help you build compelling industry and business solutions for our joint customers. The cloud creates new opportunities for all of us."

Flinders left Microsoft in April after more than 14 years with the company, much of it in high-profile partner-facing roles in the U.S. Partner Group and the Worldwide Partner Group. She ran the U.S. partner channel from 2009 onward.

Posted by Scott Bekker on July 16, 2015 at 10:38 AM0 comments

Half of Microsoft Partner Incentives in 2016 Will Be Cloud

  • Get more WPC 2015 news here.

Microsoft will accelerate the ongoing shift of its partner incentives to increase the focus on cloud-related business activity in fiscal year 2016, which started at the beginning of this month.

Partner incentives are one of Microsoft's biggest levers for aligning partner behavior with company goals. One of the company's biggest stated goals this year is getting more partners to do more business in the cloud.

Microsoft COO Kevin Turner told partners in his Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC) keynote on Wednesday that Microsoft wants to "own" the cloud, given the company's unique positioning in both consumer and business service offerings that span IaaS, PaaS, SaaS and hybrid cloud.

Despite a count of 75,000 partners transacting cloud business with Microsoft in FY15, Turner said, "We don't have enough cloud partners at scale in the company today."

Turner said nearly half of Microsoft's total partner incentives for fiscal year 2016 will go for cloud-related work. In a slide (see below), Turner showed the steady upward march of that percentage starting with 2013.

[Click on image for larger view.]

As a percentage of total partner incentives, cloud incentives accounted for 10 percent in 2013, 19 percent in 2014 and 32 percent in 2015. For fiscal year 2016, that figure jumps to 49 percent, which is the biggest percentage-point increase over the entire period. The overall size of the partner incentive pool was not shared in the keynote.

The focus on cloud incentives accompanies another major change Microsoft is making to encourage partner participation in cloud this year. The other is the broad market rollout of the Cloud Solution Provider (CSP) program (see RCP's July cover story for details.) That program allows partners to both bill their own customers directly and to bill them on a monthly, rather than annual, basis.

In an interview, John Case, corporate vice president for Office marketing, said Microsoft expects the broad rollout of the CSP program to radically expand the number of partners transacting cloud business with Microsoft this year.

More from WPC 2015:

Posted by Scott Bekker on July 15, 2015 at 12:45 PM0 comments

Microsoft Launching New Office 365 SKU

  • Get more WPC 2015 news here.

Microsoft will roll out a new premium Office 365 enterprise suite later this year called E5 that company executives are positioning as the new flagship offering of the cloud productivity suite.

E5 will bring several brand-new capabilities to the Office 365 suite, including Cloud PBX, analytics, Power BI and advanced security capabilities. John Case, corporate vice president of Office Marketing for Microsoft, introduced the suite in a Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC) keynote speech Monday.

"We think what that does is more than double the available market for Office 365," Case said in an interview after the keynote. "The number that I put on the slide today was a $56 billion addressable market. We think we're less than half that today with services like e-mail and the Office client."

Case said the suite would be available later in the calendar year. Pricing will be announced closer to general availability of the suite, but Case contended that it would be compelling.

"We will price it aggressively relative to all the individual components. People will look at it and they think, Power BI, we've priced it as $10 per user. For Advanced Threat Protection and things like Lockbox, other providers are charging a significant amount of money for those services on a standalone basis. Cisco's price points on things like WebEx are significant. Those aren't free services. So when you add all that up, we'll be able to give a significant advantage to those that buy from one vendor for something like E5," Case said.

Currently, the largest percentage of Office 365 sales come under the E3 SKU, which includes most of the high-end server functionality, plus the Office client software.

"I think a very sizable percentage of the Office 365 customer base will find E5 very attractive from a price perspective and an end-to-end functionality perspective," Case said. "It won't be 100 percent, but it will be a sizable percentage."

Case said the whole suite will provide new opportunities for all Office 365 partners, but integration of the new PSTN conferencing capabilities and Cloud PBX with existing enterprise telephony infrastructure opens opportunities for large telco partners.

More from WPC 2015:

Posted by Scott Bekker on July 14, 2015 at 12:45 PM0 comments

RCP/Rocket Award Winners for 2015

Every year, Redmond Channel Partner magazine and Revenue Rocket Consulting Group scour the Microsoft partner community for IT services companies that are doing it right. We look for companies with great business strategies that result in sustained growth.

Today we're pleased to announce the three winners of our third annual award: Pariveda SolutionsUptime Legal Systems and Valorem Consulting.

"We are particularly excited about the slate of RCP/Rocket award winners this year. They are a diverse set of partners that represent the 'best of the best' of the Microsoft channel. They have set a very high standard indeed for others to follow," says Mike Harvath, president and CEO of Revenue Rocket, an RCP columnist and a member of the award selection panel.

The award recognizes the companies for their innovative business strategies that resulted in sustained growth over a three-year period, from 2012 through 2014.

The award sought applications from U.S.-based IT services firms with annual revenues between $5 and $75 million.

Stay tuned for the October issue of RCP when we'll profile the winners and tell their inspiring growth stories.

Posted by Scott Bekker on July 13, 2015 at 5:53 AM0 comments

An IPO in Kaseya's Future? Q&A with New CEO Fred Voccola

Fred Voccola admits that he's "drinking out of the firehose right now" in his first week as the new CEO of Kaseya, one of the prime mover companies in the remote monitoring and management (RMM) tools market for managed service providers (MSPs). But Voccola took a few minutes to speak with RCP about his plans for the company.

Here are some highlights of the conversation, which has been lightly edited for clarity.

What are your plans for the company?
It's day three, so ask me in a few weeks. But the premise of coming on board and one of the things that turned me on about Kaseya is that Kaseya was one of the founding thought leaders of the MSP community. It's a great market. It's a market that's only going to grow substantially. As the demographics and dynamics of MSPs grow, this is a really exciting place to be. Kaseya has a great team.

I think the communication with the community is going to change. The primary focal point that we are going to have in this business from an operational standpoint is the single goal of having our partners and customers have the best experience in working with Kaseya.

[We'll focus on making the products] easy to use, powerful and scalable. We want customers to want to use the product. As a business, we need to be very easy to commercially interact with. It has to be a great experience to work with us -- business terms, customer terms, legal terms. Our commitment is to making the customer successful and being proactive in helping them do that.

"Kaseya is not a business where we need to sell it to a platform company. I see an IPO as a higher probability than a sale."

Fred Voccola, CEO, Kaseya

What should MSPs expect from Kaseya during your tenure?
From a product perspective in the coming weeks, there will be some pretty interesting announcements. Kaseya in the last 18-20 months has spent well north of $31 million in R&D in enhancing and developing our platforms. We're really excited to start communicating and rolling that out both for the MSPs, as well as midmarket IT.

Our customer base is 70-80 percent MSPs. What MSPs can expect in the next 60 days is they will notice a substantial advancement from where the industry is to what we deliver from a customer-success perspective. We're going to have incredible strides industrywide there. I think within 60 days it will hit the market in an incredible way.

In the past, you've come into companies and generated high growth and then a sale. Are you being brought in to prepare the company for a sale?
Hopefully, we get the high growth. Selling a company is never the objective. That's the path that was right for [some of] those companies for various reasons. At Nolio, I was brought in; now it's under CA, and doing very well at CA, by the way. Nolio was kind of the first player in the DevOps space doing release optimization. In that world, it's very difficult for a vendor to stay independent. Here at Kaseya, we have a platform. Kaseya is not a business where we need to sell it to a platform company. I see an IPO as a higher probability than a sale. If you look at the financial dynamics of Kaseya, it's easier for us to aggregate [other technologies into our platform]. As for the timing on an IPO, I have no idea.

Kaseya has acquired at least four companies or technologies over the last few years. Do you plan to continue with acquisitions?
Whether it's build or buy, we have a very robust and capable dev team and product organization. The world's going to see a lot of the fruits of what we've been building. We are looking to expand organically and inorganically. Looking at acquisitions is always an ongoing thing in a business like Kaseya's.

Kaseya has shifted a lot of product development to the cloud, although many users continue to run the on-premise versions. Will you continue to support on-premise versions?
One hundred percent yes. We are in the business of making our customers successful. Some of our customers leverage an on-premise solution. Some customers prefer a cloud delivery model, and obviously we're going in that direction, as well. Cloud delivery is not the best solution for every customer. We're innovating on our entire platform.

What should Kaseya's MSP partners know about you?
This is not really about me but about the organizations I've been lucky enough to be a part of. I've been so blessed in my career where I'd love to say it's all been by design. I've worked with some absolutely phenomenal, amazing people. The one consistent thing I've learned from people who have been my mentors, peers, employees, all through my career is business is very simple. Have a product that makes your customer absolutely love it and love working with you. Everything else, the revenue, the profitability, all of that stuff takes care of itself.


Posted by Scott Bekker on July 09, 2015 at 10:23 AM0 comments

Kaseya Names Voccola as New CEO

Fred Voccola

Two years after joining Kaseya as CEO as part of an investment by Insight Venture Partners, Yogesh Gupta will become chairman of the board and the MSP-focused IT management cloud company is pulling in Fred Voccola as CEO.

"I am thrilled to be able to bring Fred onboard as our new CEO," Gupta said in a statement released this morning. "His outstanding track record of driving transformational growth for high-velocity software businesses and investing in the success of his customers is second to none."

In introducing Voccola, Kaseya emphasized three times that he has led a company through rapid growth, followed by a sale. The cases are:

  • Nolio Inc.: As president of the DevOps SaaS company, Voccola drove 100 percent year-over-year growth and oversaw a sale of the business to Computer Associates.
  • Trust Technology Corp.: As president and CEO, Voccola led the business to $28 million in revenues in three years and sold the company to FGI Global.
  • Identify Software: As co-founder and COO, Voccola helped Identify grow from $1 million to $60 million in revenues over five years and participated in the sale to BMC Software.

Voccola was most recently president and general manager of the Brand Networks Division at Yodle. His resume also includes a stint at BMC as vice president of Worldwide Sales and Services after the Identify Software sale, as well as management and executive roles at Intira and Prism Solutions.

"The opportunity at Kaseya is tremendous," Voccola said in a statement. "The organization, team and products that Yogesh and the rest of the company have built are nothing short of world-class. I couldn't be more excited to have the opportunity to come in at this juncture in Kaseya's development to help our customers reach new heights and lead the next phase of hyper growth for the company."

In his two years as CEO at Kaseya, Gupta oversaw the integration of four acquisitions of companies or business units, including Scorpion Software, RoverApps, 365 Command and Zyrion. Those acquisitions added identity and access management, bring your own device (BYOD) management, cloud application administration and cloud monitoring and management, respectively, to Kaseya's products.

Gupta also refocused the company on cloud platforms and managed a transition to a faster and more reliable pace of product updates -- first to a three-releases-a-year schedule and then, since April, to an agile delivery schedule.

Posted by Scott Bekker on July 07, 2015 at 10:26 AM0 comments

Veritas Overhauls Product Lineup, Launches Update of NetBackup

Ahead of its planned separation from Symantec Corp., Veritas on Tuesday unveiled new datacenter offerings and upgrades to its backup and information management products, including immediate availability of the next version of NetBackup.

Doug Matthews, vice president of the Information Availability business unit at Veritas, said the product line overhaul resulted from the "Envision 2019" strategy exercise that Symantec initiated more than a year ago.

As Veritas looked at all the information its backup, recovery and information management products touched, product managers realized a more comprehensive approach was necessary.

"Infrastructure and information sprawl are unbelievable, out of control," Matthews said in an interview. The spread of data across on-premises systems, private clouds and public clouds is making it harder for companies to be aware of, let alone prioritize and get maximum value out of, the data they have. "How do people handle that situation and ensure that they get value out of that information?" he said.

Veritas' attempt to address those issues will come out over the next few months as Veritas prepares for an operational separation from Symantec that is planned for October, with complete separation set for January 2016. Symantec will go forward as a security business, while Veritas will take all products related to backup and recovery, storage management, clustering, disaster recovery, archiving and e-discovery.

The new offerings and architectures include:

Veritas NetBackup 7.7: NetBackup, which is Symantec-Veritas' flagship backup solution and a key product for many Microsoft partners, began shipping in the latest 7.7 version on Monday. New features include enhancements in virtualization scenario support for both VMware vSphere 6 and for Microsoft Hyper-V. Brand-new in version 7.7 is support for cloud connectors that allow hybrid cloud deployments that use Amazon Web Services, Google Nearline and other cloud platforms.

Veritas InfoScale: Veritas is relaunching and rebranding its Storage Foundation as InfoScale. A software-defined storage approach, InfoScale provides Web-based management of multi-tiered applications. By using on-host flash and direct-attach storage, the goal, Matthews said, is to provide the "benefits of a SAN without the cost of the infrastructure."

Veritas Data Insight 5.0: In beta now and planned for general availability (GA) in August, the 5.0 version of Data Insight will expand Veritas' platform for applying unstructured data analytics to retention management, access compliance and other information management policies.

Veritas Information Map: Also planned for an August GA is Information Map, a cloud application that Veritas describes as being able to "glean meta-data from Veritas NetBackup, store it in the cloud and present this data in a user-friendly, visual navigation tool that helps identify areas of risk, areas of value and areas of waste across a customer's primary content repositories."

Posted by Scott Bekker on July 07, 2015 at 8:31 AM0 comments

Microsoft Expanding In-House Cloud Deployments

Microsoft is expanding the scope of the FastTrack program and the Onboarding Center in a few ways that will further overlap with some partners' current cloud business models.

FastTrack is a benefit for new Office 365 customers with more than 150 seats who can get free e-mail migration as part of the deal. The Microsoft Onboarding Center is an internal business unit that Microsoft spun up to handle the migrations, with the larger goal of increasing customers' consumption of Office 365 licenses. Microsoft was reportedly hiring hundreds of people worldwide to staff the Onboarding Center last year.

Both programs raised concerns from partners when they were unveiled last July, although many partners became more comfortable with the changes as they learned the details of a related set of adoption offers that included substantial partner subsidy funding.

With the start of a new fiscal year this month, Microsoft on Thursday unveiled a raft of updates to FastTrack and to other partner incentives. A few of the updates fundamentally change, or at least clarify, the relationship between partners, the Onboarding Center and Microsoft Consulting Services.

First, Microsoft is renaming the official name of "Office 365 FastTrack" to the broader title of "Microsoft FastTrack." Initially, the change means Microsoft will add Enterprise Mobility Suite (EMS) migrations to the existing Office 365 migrations. Logically, the new name would also clear the way for Microsoft to bring other types of cloud workloads into the FastTrack program.

Next, Microsoft is adding e-mail data migration to the e-mail migration services it offered for free to Office 365 customers. With the inauguration of the program last year, Microsoft officials told partners that FastTrack would only cover low-margin e-mail migration services, and even then only for customers with relatively simple migration scenarios. Higher-margin services like e-mail data migration, identity integration, user adoption and management would be reserved for partners. Like the other FastTrack services, the e-mail data migration is only for customers with 150 or more seats.

In an interesting clarification, Microsoft notes that customer funding through a new EMS adoption offer for fiscal year 2016 will be available not only for engagements involving Microsoft cloud competency partners but also for engagements fulfilled by Microsoft's own consulting services.

Microsoft seems very aware that the new changes will be controversial. In an e-mail to RCP listing the changes, a Microsoft spokesperson said, "With a partner base as broad as ours, we recognize that not every change we make will be well-received by all partners. However, we believe that the updates we make to FastTrack and our incentives portfolio today will not only ensure success for both Microsoft and our partners, but our mutual customers as well, in today's mobile-first, cloud-first world."

One lesson Microsoft seems to have learned from the controversy last year is to communicate the changes before the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC). With details released a little more than a week before the conference begins this year, Microsoft's partners can use WPC to get more detail about the programs rather than trying to piece together what is changing based on rumors and snippets of information.

Here is the full text provided by Microsoft to list and explain the changes:

FastTrack Updates:
Throughout this first year of delivery, Microsoft has continued to evolve FastTrack to ensure we can deliver the best possible customer onboarding experience and help partners build profitable practices. We quickly realized the best possible experience is one where both the partner and the Onboarding Center are working together with the customer to deliver first class services. 

FastTrack is designed to minimize the time a partner needs to spend doing the time-intensive, administrative tasks, so they can accelerate time spent selling and deploying high-value added services that can be more profitable and drive usage.

Based on feedback around how customers are adopting the Microsoft Cloud services and where they need help to more fully realize the value of their investment, today we are announcing several updates to FastTrack and our Adoption Offers.

  • Office 365 FastTrack is evolving to become Microsoft FastTrack and will include services benefits for both Office 365 and Microsoft Enterprise Mobility Suite (EMS) customers.

  • Email data migration is now included as part of the core benefit of Office 365 FastTrack for Office 365 customers with deployments over 150 seats

  • We are expanding the Office 365 SKUs and workloads available through Office 365 FastTrack to include onboarding and migration for K [SKU]s and Non-profit SKUs as well as enterprise voice

  • For the FY16 Office 365 Adoption Offer, we are focusing on partners driving adoption of workloads which include SharePoint, OneDrive for Business, Skype for Business, Yammer, Office ProPlus, Project Online and Visio. The Adoption Offer is in addition to the onboarding and mail migration benefit, so it no longer requires customers to choose. Both are available as a customer benefit.

  • With the FY16 EMS Adoption Offer, customers earn funds on a per-seat basis to pay for qualified adoption activities by eligible Microsoft competency partners (Cloud Productivity, or Devices & Deployment) or Microsoft Consulting Services (MCS).

  • FastTrack Getting Started is a new program that helps customers get started with EMS by setting up a production ready trial, including a 90 day/250 seat trial subscription, Deployment lab environment, pre-populated end user training resources and business scenarios as well as templates. 

Incentives Portfolio:
Partner Incentives are designed to support partner profitability and growth whether partners are doing business on-premises, in the cloud, or somewhere in between. Over the past three years, incentives have increasingly focused on rewarding strategic cloud outcomes -- in FY16 nearly half of incentives spend will be directed toward cloud.

We're keeping the Enterprise, Managed Reseller, and Commercial Distributor incentives largely stable YoY.

LSP partners will see incremental investment in the Enterprise program directed at rewarding upsell revenue at time of anniversary on EAS licenses beginning October 1.

Within the Managed Reseller and Commercial Distributor incentives, we have combined the Growth and Incubation product categories into a single Strategic product category.

We've improved our Coop offering with a single Partner Incentives Coop Guidebook, which spans our SMB, Cloud, and Devices incentives programs.

Our goal is to continue advancing usage and consumption, and with new capabilities now available such as increased telemetry and Digital Partner of Record, we can reward partners driving customer success across workloads.

The Azure consumption incentive, rewarding partners for driving consumption of Microsoft Azure Services, will be available to all Silver or Gold Cloud Platform competency partners. Any partner who earns this competency will be eligible for this incentive.

The Online Services Usage incentive, previously paid on assigned seats based on the data available, will be paid on the rate card value of a customer's active entitlements. Microsoft's strategy in FY16 emphasizes the usage opportunity, so the incentives will reward increased usage across eligible Online Services workloads.

We're making adjustments to the incentives portfolio in FY16 to prioritize through-partner sales motions.

We want to maintain the Advisor Sell incentive in parity with our through-partner sales motions, but it will be reduced in years 1-3 as part of a broader shift to prioritize through-partner sales motions.

Microsoft will not renew the Channel Developer Incentives in Q2 in order to drive more cloud revenue through partners via CSP/Open than around partners via Web-Direct.

We're adding new, limited-time incentives for the CSP 1-Tier and 2-Tier Resellers designed to drive adoption of CSP.

Editor's Note: One of the bullet points originally included in the Fast Track Updates section above has been removed. The original information provided by Microsoft read: "Office 365 active usage requirements have also been adjusted from 15 percent to 30 percent to better align with cloud adoption and usage goals." Microsoft later corrected that section to indicate that it hasn't changed: "The active usage requirement for the offer is still 15 percent on a single workload."


Posted by Scott Bekker on July 02, 2015 at 8:29 AM0 comments

Survey: How Well Does Microsoft Meet Partners' Needs?

As Microsoft rolls into fiscal year 2016 starting July 1, we surveyed readers to find out how happy they are with their Microsoft partnership.

At a high level, partners are pretty satisfied, and report that Microsoft products are actually becoming more central to their businesses. Yet many partners report that Microsoft is not the most important company in their vendor stable.

For this survey, we received responses from 240 partners from late May through early June. About a quarter had at least one gold competency, making the respondents a gold-heavy group. Microsoft often says partners with gold competencies represent only the top 1 percent of its community.

A little more than 15 percent of the partners had at least one silver competency, and 23 percent were subscribers to the Action Pack. Of the rest, 19 percent were community members and another 19 percent were informal partners who did not participate in the MPN.

Readers gave Microsoft fairly high ratings among their vendor partners. Asked to rate Microsoft as a partner compared to other vendors, 63 percent rated Microsoft as either "Excellent" or "Above Average" (see Figure 1).

Figure 1. Compared to other vendors, how do you rate Microsoft as a partner?

Microsoft has moved quickly on products in the last two years, with cloud products updated on a quarterly-or-faster basis, and even on-premises products getting refreshed at a good clip. At the same time, Microsoft also moved to embrace open source technologies in many areas. With all that change, we asked readers how important Microsoft technology is in the solutions they sell compared to two years ago. By a ratio of about 10-to-1, readers who reported that Microsoft technology is more important outnumbered those for whom it is less important (see Figure 2).

Figure 2. How important is Microsoft technology generally in solutions you sell now compared to two years ago?

But Microsoft isn't necessarily the most important vendor partner for most of the readers we surveyed. For one-quarter of them, Microsoft is the most important partner. But 70 percent only rate Microsoft as among their top vendor partners. And for 5 percent, some other vendor is the most important (see Figure 3).

Figure 3. Is Microsoft your most important vendor partner?


Posted by Scott Bekker on July 01, 2015 at 8:00 AM0 comments

Hard Data on Windows XP Support Costs from the Navy

A recent U.S. government contract extension sheds a lot of light on the price of big contracts to extend custom support for Windows XP.

The U.S. Navy is entering Year 2 of a Custom Support Agreement (CSA) with Microsoft for 100,000 workstations running Windows XP, the Office 2003 suite and Exchange 2003. Eagle-eyed editors at Ars Technica spotted the contract notes amid U.S. Defense Department notices and wrote about them this week.

Extended support for Windows XP ended a little over a year ago on April 8, 2014. The U.S. Navy's Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command (SPAWAR) signed a one-year agreement with Microsoft for custom support that expired June 8, 2015.

The Navy has better excuses than many organizations for lagging on the Windows XP upgrade. Cited in Navy documents are the fact that shipboard administration networks are not available for long periods of maintenance. In other words, the ships are out at sea. Some of the systems are ashore, and those upgrades have been postponed by cascade effects of delays in the Next Generation Network (NGEN) contract.

As for the numbers, an official notice awarding the contract to Microsoft earlier this month put the cost of the CSA for this year through July 12, 2016 at $9.1 million. Should the Navy be unable to complete the migration of systems to Windows 7 and need the support for a third year, the costs will roughly double. If the Navy exercises options in the contract to continue the contract through June 8, 2017, the total cost of the contract could come to $30.8 million.


Posted by Scott Bekker on June 24, 2015 at 11:55 AM0 comments

Asigra Unveils MSP-Focused Backup Appliance

Asigra plans to start shipping a backup appliance in August designed with the goal of keeping things simple for managed service providers (MSPs).

"It's coming in this pre-optimized, pre-configured, pre-tested, turnkey solution, which is comprised of software, hardware, the file system, the operating system, compute, storage, everything. The solution providers need only plug it in and be up and running with an enterprise-class backup and recovery service," said William Kulju, senior product marketing manager at Asigra.

Asigra unveiled the Asigra Converged Data Protection Appliance for Managed Service Providers on Tuesday during the second day of its Asigra Global Partner Summit in Toronto.

"We've packaged and priced this in such a way that this allows service providers to be cash-flow positive in as little time as possible," Kulju said.

[Click on image for larger view.] The 4U version of the Asigra Converged Data Protection Appliance for Managed Service Providers. (Image source: Asigra)

The appliance will come in three sizes. A 1U has up to 9.6TB of what Asigra calls "billable capacity," which refers to data that's stored on the device after already having been compressed, deduped and encrypted. A 2U has 32TB of billable capacity, and the 4U has 96TB.

The entry price is less than $5,000, and has 1TB of the 1U's billable capacity turned on. MSPs can add capacity within the unit in increments of as little as 10GB.

The Avnet Embedded business unit of Avnet Inc. is assembling the appliances for Asigra from Supermicro servers running FreeBSD and ZFS and shipping them to customers. MSPs won't require any familiarity with the underlying software, according to Asigra. Instead the MSPs will manage the multitenant storage environment from a Web-based management console and can control agentless backups of Windows, Linux, Mac, Android and iOS systems and devices.

Posted by Scott Bekker on June 16, 2015 at 9:08 AM0 comments