Microsoft's defunct foray into motion-based gaming technology is back for the "intelligent edge" era.
At his Build 2018 keynote on Monday, CEO Satya Nadella unveiled a fourth-generation version of Microsoft's discontinued Kinect motion-sensing device, which the company is repurposing with more advanced technologies for artificial intelligence (AI), the Internet of Things (IoT), Azure and edge computing.
Project Kinect for Azure is a package of sensors anchored by a next-generation depth camera that also includes on-board processors. An availability timeframe for the sensor package was unclear, with Microsoft saying more details would be coming over the next few months.
"This Project Kinect for Azure is going to have some of the best spatial understanding, skeletal tracking, object recognition, and package some of the most powerful sensors together with the least amount of...noise and also have ultra-wide field of view," Nadella said in his keynote.
Kinect was originally launched with Xbox 360 in 2010 with the idea of creating a new category of games that would be controlled strictly by players' motions. The technology did inspire a few titles, but didn't take off as a runaway category. Microsoft released a PC version later that could be used both for gaming and for potential business applications. The company released updated versions of Kinect for Xbox One and for PC before discontinuing all versions of the product last year.
Nadella said Microsoft was inspired by partners' business applications with the PC versions in medical, industrial, robotics and education applications, and he suggested that subsequent technological progress make it the right time for another run at the technology.
"Since Kinect, we've made a tremendous amount of progress when it comes to the foundational technologies, in HoloLens," Nadella said in reference to Microsoft's augmented reality headset, which the company describes as a holographic computer. "We're taking those advances and packaging them up as Project Kinect for Azure. This set of sensors we expect to be fully integrated into many different applications both on the consumer side, as well as the industrial side."
Alex Kipman, technical fellow for AI Perception and Mixed Reality, and the public face of Microsoft's HoloLens efforts, called the forthcoming version of Kinect "a key advance in the evolution of the intelligent edge; the ability for devices to perceive the people, places and things around them."
In a LinkedIn post Monday, Kipman provided details about the depth sensor that will be part of Project Kinect for Azure and that also will be included in the next generation of HoloLens. Features include 1024x1024 pixel resolution, low power consumption, the ability to cleanly capture near and far objects, and a shutter that improves performance in sunlight.
Kipman also called Project Kinect for Azure a fourth generation of the technology because, in addition to the first-generation Xbox 360 and second-generation PC versions, Kipman said the third generation of the underlying technology helped power the first HoloLens product.
"With Project Kinect for Azure, the fourth generation of Kinect now integrates with our intelligent cloud and intelligent edge platform, extending that same innovation opportunity to our developer community," Kipman said.
Posted by Scott Bekker on May 07, 2018 at 3:10 PM0 comments
Cortana and Alexa shared the stage on Monday during the Build 2018 keynote, five months after their respective proprietors announced a joint plan to integrate the two.
Alexa (Amazon's assistant whose main platform is Echo devices) and Cortana (Microsoft's intelligent assistant that operates primarily from Windows 10) were featured calling upon one another's services during the keynote.
It was an integration that Microsoft and Amazon had originally promised to deliver by the end of 2017. That deadline came and went with no timeline updates from either company.
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella introduced the demo on Monday during his keynote by stressing how important it is for personal digital assistants to communicate.
"We want to make it possible for our customers to be able to get the most of that personal digital assistant, not be bound to some single walled garden, and for developers to have access to the maximum number of users," Nadella said. "We've been working with our friends across the lake at Amazon to really bring Alexa and Cortana together to benefit every user and every developer out there."
For the demo, Megan Saunders, a general manager on the Microsoft Cortana team, and Tom Taylor, a senior vice president for Amazon Alexa, went to opposite ends of the stage to interact with each other's environments.
Saunders pretending to be in her kitchen with an Amazon Echo, first asked Alexa to add milk to her shopping list, then made the key request of the tube-shaped speaker appliance: "Alexa, open Cortana." After a pause, Cortana's voice asserted: "Cortana here, how can I help?" From there, Saunders got her appointments for the day, including a dinner with Amazon's Taylor to celebrate the demo, and used voice commands to send Taylor an e-mail that she'd see him tonight.
Taylor, pretending to be in his office working on a Windows 10 laptop, read the e-mail from Saunders, and first asked Cortana to show him the location of the restaurant where he was meeting Saunders. Then, he said the key phrase from the other side: "Hey, Cortana, open Alexa." Soon, the PC was saying, "Hi there, this is Alexa, how can I help?" He then asked Alexa to get him an Uber to the restaurant, and got Alexa to turn off a lamp on his desk.
For a laugh line, Taylor closed by asking Alexa, "What do you think about Cortana?" The response: "I like Cortana. We both have experience with light rings. Although hers is more of a halo."
The integration is currently in a limited beta. Microsoft created a Web site for users who want to be notified when the integration is live here.
Posted by Scott Bekker on May 07, 2018 at 3:10 PM0 comments
Kaseya, a vendor of managed service provider (MSP) and midmarket enterprise tools, merged with backup specialist Unitrends on Thursday.
Terms of the deal weren't disclosed, but both companies are part of the Insight Venture Partners portfolio. Insight made what it described as a "significant investment" in Kaseya in June 2013 and a "major growth equity investment" in Unitrends in October 2013.
Kaseya's MSP products include VSA, a remote monitoring and management platform; BMS for professional services automation; AuthAnvil, an identity and access management tool; Traverse, which provides performance monitoring; 365 Command for administering Microsoft online services; and Unigma for cloud management and optimization.
Unitrends' product lineup includes backup appliances, backup software, cloud backup, business continuity and disaster recovery (BCDR) and disaster recovery as a service (DRaaS).
The deal comes on the heels of an OEM relationship between Kaseya and Unitrends MSP for an offering called Kaseya Unified Backup.
"Over a year ago, we embarked on a journey to provide our customers with the best BCDR solution for their needs," said Fred Voccola, CEO of Kaseya, in a statement. "After working with Unitrends to launch the Kaseya Unified Backup offering to our MSP customers, as well as introducing the core Unitrends product to our enterprise customer base, we witnessed the explosive adoption of these solutions and decided that it just made sense to further our relationship and to bring our two companies together."
Unitrends and Kaseya will continue to operate under their respective brands.
Posted by Scott Bekker on May 03, 2018 at 2:03 PM0 comments
Just a year after launching Cosmos DB as an Azure service at the 2017 Build developer conference, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella says it's the fastest-scaling database he's ever seen.
"In less than a year, Azure Cosmos DB, the first globally distributed [and] multi-model database, exceeded $100 million in annualized revenue," said the Microsoft CEO during the company's Q3 earnings call last week.
While annualized revenue doesn't mean Microsoft has pulled down $100 million on Cosmos DB yet, it does mean that it's recently ramped up to a pace of more than $8.3 million a month.
"I've been around databases for a long time. I've never seen a product that's gotten to this kind of scale this quickly," Nadella said, according to the Seeking Alpha transcript of the call.
Replacing Microsoft's previous NoSQL offering DocumentDB, and competitive against Amazon Web Services (AWS) DynamoDB and Google Spanner, Cosmos DB boasts several key selling points.
As a base service of every Azure datacenter and region, Cosmos DB is globally available and allows developers to click on a map to add or delete geographic regions even while their Cosmos DB-based applications are running. That worldwide distribution allows for both massive scale and minimal latency for users anywhere.
Cosmos DB includes support for multiple data models, including document, graph, key-value, table and column-family, and has APIs for SQL, MongoDB, Cassandra, Gremlin and Table.
Microsoft also stands behind Cosmos DB with guarantees, including a four-nines uptime service-level agreement, end-to-end latency times in the low millisecond range and zero-data loss in the case of regional failures.
During the investor call, Nadella positioned Cosmos DB as a potential cornerstone of future data projects on Azure, especially as artificial intelligence efforts drive demand for more and more data. "This AI era is mostly first a data era. And that's where I think the opportunity lies," Nadella said. "Cosmos DB happens to be one of the best database products to be able to capture the signals that you want around your customers from a variety of different sources."
How many customers would be required to drive more than $100 million in annualized revenue is not clear. From the earliest discussions at Build last year, it was evident that even a few customers can drive massive data volumes. At that show, Microsoft Executive Vice President of Cloud and Enterprise Scott Guthrie said early adopters, including Jet.com, were already using Cosmos DB to the tune of 100 trillion transactions per day.
Andrew Brust, founder and CEO of Blue Badge Insights and a co-chair of the 1105 Media Visual Studio Live! conference series, is seeing broad interest in Cosmos DB in the database community.
"My own observation of Microsoft tech influencers who have years -- or decades -- of experience with conventional database technology like SQL Server (and therefore Azure SQL Database), is that they are kicking the tires on Cosmos DB and still working to understand how its pricing will work for them in production," Brust said in an e-mail interview.
"The use case for massive, global-scale Web properties employing a database like Cosmos DB is pretty clear. For the long tail of enterprise applications with smaller, less concurrent and less geographically dispersed user bases, the adoption of Cosmos DB is more disruptive and less straightforward," Brust said. "This will likely get better with time, and the pricing models for Cosmos DB will likely become more compelling and more easily understood, too. Amazon's DynamoDB has been out for many years and is explicitly integrated with a number of other AWS services so, clearly, Cosmos DB isn't on a level playing field with it yet. This, too, will change over time."
Brust says a key point to remember about Cosmos DB is that it's based on the same technology Microsoft has used for its own cloud services for years.
"The company's skin is in the proverbial game, with very high stakes. If it's worked for them, it's going to work really well for their customers. What's left is more fit and finish on pricing, marketing and rationalizing the service with other components in the Azure data and analytics stack," Brust said.
Posted by Scott Bekker on April 30, 2018 at 10:39 AM0 comments
Microsoft reported surprisingly strong Windows and Surface revenues in a largely flat-to-declining PC market, but the company's third-quarter financial results seemed mainly powered by continuing cloud strength.
Microsoft reported overall earnings of $0.95 per share on revenues of $26.82 billion. The third-quarter (January through March) figures beat analyst expectations of $0.85 per share and revenues of $25.77 billion, but the company's stock still fell in after-hours trading following the news.
Revenue was up 16% and earnings per share (EPS) climbed 36%, although the EPS figure excluded certain items.
By broad business unit, Microsoft did $9 billion in revenues in Productivity and Business Processes, $7.9 billion in Intelligent Cloud, and $9.9 billion in More Personal Computing.
The 13% revenue gain in More Personal Computing included a 21% jump in Windows commercial products and cloud services revenue, and a 32% jump in Surface revenue. Microsoft attributed the Windows gain to an increased volume of multi-year agreements and to internal accounting reasons, with the mix of products sold carrying higher in-quarter revenue recognition than in the year-ago period.
As for Surface, Microsoft said the company's line of Microsoft-branded PCs had a favorable comparison against a year-ago period impacted by end-of-lifecycle dynamics.
Amy Hood, executive vice president and chief financial officer at Microsoft, said in the earnings news release that the company's performance across all segments was better than expected. "We delivered double-digit revenue and operating income growth driven by 58% growth in our commercial cloud revenue."
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella chose to interpret the results as evidence of customer trust in the Microsoft cloud. "We are innovating across key growth categories of infrastructure, AI, productivity and business applications to deliver differentiated value to customers," Nadella said in a statement.
Revenues for the Productivity and Business Processes unit and the Intelligent Cloud unit, both of which include cloud products, were each up 17%. Those gains included growth of 42% in Office 365 commercial, 65% in Dynamics 365 and 93% in Azure.
Posted by Scott Bekker on April 26, 2018 at 2:27 PM0 comments
For about five years, Microsoft has been encouraging partners to develop their own intellectual property. Reston, Va.-based IOTAP took that advice to heart in a way that's already helping other partners struggling to overcome some of the difficulties inherent in being a Microsoft Cloud Solution Provider (CSP).
As a CSP itself, IOTAP had difficulty tracking licensing for CSP customers. Straightforward orders went fine. Things got complicated when customers wanted to add seats, change Office 365 or other Microsoft cloud product SKUs, or otherwise change orders during the middle of a billing period, to name a few of the many examples. When a customer wanted to know why their charges came in at a certain amount, it could be hard to find an answer.
IOTAP Co-CEO Ismail Nalwala recalls looking around the emerging ecosystem of CSP-related tools vendors for someone who could provide billing and invoicing for cloud and subscription services, customer service and incident management, self-service and automatic provisions, and e-commerce and payments.
"There's about six or seven folks that we looked at. Everybody had a SaaS-based app with some capabilities. You could build a portal, you can build some self-service, you can customize it, you can expose it out," Nalwala explained in describing solutions on the market. None of the products did everything IOTAP wanted, and what's more, IOTAP found a lack of another element that was important to it as a Dynamics partner.
"The reality was that all our data would be in a separate system, all our customer orders would be in separate systems -- cases, service tickets," he said. In other words, none of them were in Dynamics, which IOTAP used internally, leveraging its Internal Use Rights (IUR) as a Microsoft partner. "We didn't want to go outside and build integration back into Dynamics."
With that in mind, IOTAP started working on a system for internal use that would serve as a fully integrated customer experience platform that would be built on Dynamics 365. After all, said the co-CEO, who is a regular attendee at Washington, D.C., chapter meetings of the International Association of Microsoft Channel Partners (IAMCP), and whose company has held gold competencies from Microsoft for years, "Partners should be using Dynamics if they can to run their business."
IOTAP put its system into production internally in July 2017. "Toward the end of last year, we said, 'You know what, this is a pain point,'" Nalwala said. At that point, the company pivoted from maintaining an internal tool to creating a product that other partners could use.
After beta tests with a few partners early this year, IOTAP made its solution, Work 365, generally available last month.
At the time of the launch in early March, Nalwala described Work 365 this way in a statement: "This system was built to overcome the challenges that Microsoft CSP Partners face every day when handling customer billing, subscription, and service management. Our solution is built on Dynamics 365 using the partner's IURs, which allows the partner to keep ownership of all the data. Dynamics 365 is at the core of the digital transformation agenda and partners that use Dynamics 365 to run their business will be able to help their own customers with these initiatives."
One early adopter is Rosalyn Arntzen, president and CEO of Redmond, Wash.-based Amaxra, which has been using Work 365 to manage its business as an indirect CSP partner for a little over a month.
Arntzen, a 15-year Microsoft veteran before starting Amaxra in 2007, said Work 365 is helping her wrangle licensing. That task is complicated enough when it's just Microsoft, but her company has the added challenge of third-party licensing to manage through add-on solutions, such as ClickDimensions, for Amaxra's Dynamics customers.
"All of that needs to be tracked. With licensing, oh my, the spreadsheets you have to be tracking," exclaimed Arntzen, who added that one of her mottos is "anything done twice is once too often."
She's found herself as the bottleneck previously for the good reason that someone needed to make sure the company was profitable overall. "Nobody could really have a handle over the licensing because I had to keep it very close. You very quickly could leak money: $1 here, $5 here. Pretty soon you could be losing money," she said.
In two senses, Work 365 has been a help already for Amaxra. "It absolutely makes a huge difference because I now can have one place in my CRM that's tracking all of these, 'Hey, I need one more license, now I need an E3,' all of that history is there," she said. The second way it's helped is that questions can be better delegated and answered more quickly.
"If we get any questions, 'Hey you just billed me x dollars back to the first of the month, I don't think that's right,' I was about the only person that could answer the question," Arntzen said. "We've only been using Work 365 for about a month, but already [others] can go in, see the quotes, look what the client signed and get a lot further along and answer 80 percent of the questions."
Posted by Scott Bekker on April 20, 2018 at 8:50 AM0 comments
Fresh from announcing a plan to invest $5 billion in Internet of Things (IoT) initiatives over the next four years, Microsoft this week took its IoT push even further with the launch of a major new security vision.
Brad Smith, Microsoft president and chief legal officer, unveiled Azure Sphere on Monday during a security news briefing in San Francisco timed to coincide with the start of the 2018 RSA Conference. Azure Sphere aims to secure the billions of IoT devices, from device hardware to software to cloud -- and gives Microsoft a central role.
"It is an end-to-end IoT solution. It goes where...no company has gone before," Smith said.
The Azure Sphere solution has three parts: Azure Sphere MCUs, the Azure Sphere OS and the Azure Sphere Security Service.
Azure Sphere MCUs: The first part is a microcontroller unit (MCU), the chips that power IoT devices. Microsoft has developed a new class of MCUs, which it also calls the Azure Sphere MCU or Azure Sphere chip. Microsoft plans to license the intellectual property of the new MCUs royalty-free for silicon partners interested in developing and manufacturing Azure Sphere chips. A major element of the chips is the Microsoft Pluton Security Subsystem for creating a hardware root of trust, storing private keys and executing cryptographic operations. Other elements of the chips include network connectivity, Microsoft I/O firewalls, an application processor, a real-time processor, flash memory, SRAM and multi-plexed IO, according to a diagram.
Azure Sphere OS: The second part is an operating system for IoT devices built on a Linux kernel, the first time Microsoft has released an OS built on Linux. According to Microsoft, the Azure Sphere OS will offer a trustworthy, defense-in-depth platform via secured application containers and a security monitor.
Azure Sphere Security Service: The cloud component is the Azure Sphere Security Service, which Microsoft describes as a turnkey cloud security service. Elements include certificate-based authentication for all communication, device authenticity checks, device status and health monitoring, automated updates of the Azure Sphere OS, and device software deployment services. The security protections through the service are designed to last for a 10-year device lifetime.
Currently, Azure Sphere is in a private preview, and Microsoft is working with select hardware providers. The first Azure Sphere chip is being developed by MediaTek Inc., which built the MT3620 as a reference architecture for Azure Sphere with Microsoft and is now sampling the chip with some customers. The company expects broad public availability for the MT3620 in the third quarter of this year.
"MediaTek has a long history of working with Microsoft on specific SoC [system on a chip] designs that meet demanding connectivity needs," said Jerry Yu, MediaTek corporate vice president and general manager of the Intelligent Devices Business Group, in a statement Tuesday. "On top of our close ties with Microsoft and design expertise, Microsoft had a vision we also believed in."
According to a blog by Galen Hunt, partner managing director at Microsoft for Azure Sphere, a first wave of Azure Sphere devices will be "on shelves" by the end of 2018. He also promised universally available dev kits by mid-2018.
Arm Ltd. was also another early partner, working closely with Microsoft to incorporate its Cortex-A application processors into Azure Sphere MCUs, according to a Microsoft page detailing the Azure Sphere silicon ecosystem. Other partners represented on that page include Hilscher, LitePoint, LongSys, Nordic, Nuvoton, NXP, Qualcomm, Seeed Studio, Silicon Labs, ST Micro, Toshiba and VeriSilicon.
During the briefing, Smith suggested why Microsoft thinks the time is right to roll out a significant IoT security initiative.
"There are going to be 9 billion of these MCU-based devices shipped this year. Think about that. For every person on the planet, there will be more than one of these MCU devices shipped. They literally will be in the toys of our children, they literally will be in our kitchens and our refrigerators, they will be in every room in our house," Smith said. "Today, fewer than 1 percent of those MCUs are connected to a network or the Internet. But that is changing, and it's going to continue to change. And what it fundamentally means is that our homes and our offices and the infrastructure of the future will literally be only as secure as the weakest link."
Smith also cited the Mirai botnet as a harbinger of the types of security threats that will become more common as IoT expands, and as a reason that a holistic security approach is needed.
"It was in 2016 that the Mirai attack basically enabled hackers to take control of 100,000 devices and use it to launch a DDoS attack by turning those devices into part of a botnet. It was an attack that, on a single day, basically took the East Coast of the United States off of the Internet," he said, reinforcing an idea that he discussed earlier in his talk and in a related blog post. The idea is that Microsoft and others in the tech sector have the first responsibility to address security issues.
"We operate the platform. We unfortunately are the battlefield in many ways," he said.
Posted by Scott Bekker on April 17, 2018 at 10:54 AM0 comments
Microsoft's ongoing courtship of Linux reached a new milestone this week when the company unveiled a brand-new operating system product with a Linux kernel.
The product is Azure Sphere OS, and it's part of Microsoft's ambitious effort to place itself at the center of the emerging swarm of Internet of Things (IoT) with Azure Sphere, a combination of a reference architecture for microcontroller units (MCUs), operating systems for the devices themselves, and a cloud-based Azure Sphere Security Service to manage and secure them all. The broader Azure Sphere initiative is expected to result in shipping products by the end of the year.
In announcing Azure Sphere during a security news briefing on Monday, Microsoft President and Chief Legal Officer Brad Smith took a moment to acknowledge the significance of the Linux component.
"For anybody who has been following Microsoft, I'm sure you'll recognize that after 43 years, this is the first day that we're announcing that we'll be distributing a custom Linux kernel," Smith said. "It's an important step for us, it's an important step I think for the industry, and it will enable us to stand behind the technology the way I believe the world needs, because what we will do is ensure that these devices are secured throughout their 10-year lifetime with the continuing improvements and updating to the Azure Sphere operating system."
Microsoft describes the Azure Sphere OS as a trustworthy, defense-in-depth operating system. The OS has five layers, with OS Layer 0 interacting with the hardware, OS Layer 1 running a security monitor, OS Layer 2 hosting the custom Linux kernel, OS Layer 3 covering on-chip connectivity services, and OS Layer 4 sporting app containers for compute and real-time I/O.
Microsoft is not conceding defeat here to Linux, with which Windows has fought for decades, but more of a tactical cooperation with the open source community that Microsoft has increasingly worked with for the last several years.
Microsoft is still sprinkling the operating system with Windows features, and recognizing that Linux has a more efficient kernel for the limited devices of IoT.
"This is a new operating system. It's based on a custom Linux kernel -- a custom Linux kernel that has really been optimized for an IoT environment and is reworked with security innovations pioneered in Windows," Smith said. "Of course, we are a Windows company, but what we've recognized is the best solution for a computer of this size in a toy is not a full-blown version of Windows. It is what we are creating here. It is a custom Linux kernel, complemented by the kinds of advances that we have created in Windows itself."
Even with those caveats, this is a significant step for Microsoft. This is a company that always saw Windows as the answer to any operating system question -- from Windows Datacenter Server in the largest use case to the recent Windows IoT Core for the very smallest.
The new days at Microsoft just keep on coming.
Posted by Scott Bekker on April 17, 2018 at 10:52 AM0 comments
It's a tale of two PC markets this week, with Gartner and IDC each releasing their latest reports on worldwide PC shipments, but neither story is particularly positive.
The less-negative news comes from IDC, which found evidence of a flat market. That's right, this was the good news.
IDC reported that worldwide there were some 60.4 million PCs sold in the January-to-March period, amounting to 0.0 percent growth over the year-ago quarter. The reason that's good news is that IDC had previously forecast a drop of 1.5 percent, so flat is better than declining.
IDC also found some green shoots related to Windows 10. In its discussion of the quarter, IDC noted that businesses are moving to Windows 10 at a steady clip.
Speaking of the U.S. market, Neha Mahajan, senior research analyst for Devices & Displays at IDC, stated, "The year kicked off with optimism returning to the U.S. PC market, especially on the notebook side. A likely rise in commercial activity amidst a positive economic environment is expected to further strengthen demand."
Overall, Jay Chou, research manager of IDC's Personal Computing Device Tracker, called the path that PCs are on "resilient" and predicted "modest commercial momentum through 2020."
Even that modest optimism was not evident in an assessment released on the same day by Gartner. Gartner, while calling the market as slightly larger at 61.7 million unit shipments for the quarter, reported a 1.4 percent decline in PC shipments for Q1.
Gartner Principal Analyst Mikako Kitagawa affixed the blame primarily to the Chinese market. "The major contributor to the decline came from China, where unit shipments declined 5.7 percent year over year," Kitagawa said in a statement. "This was driven by China's business market, where some state-owned and large enterprises postponed new purchases or upgrades, awaiting new policies and officials' reassignments after the session of the National People's Congress in early March."
Where IDC saw some modest improvements in the U.S. market, Gartner found red ink there, too, reporting a 2.9 percent decline in U.S. PC shipments from Q1 2017 to Q1 2018. In all, Gartner declared Q1 2018 the 14th consecutive quarter of decline going all the way back to the second quarter of 2012.
Posted by Scott Bekker on April 13, 2018 at 1:36 PM0 comments
Mimecast on Tuesday unveiled a revamped partner program newly organized to offer a consistent global experience and three new channel executive appointments.
Major updates from the old Mimecast channel programs for the new Mimecast Global Partner Program include:
- restructured discounts and rewards to better align with motions that attract new clients or deepen existing engagements,
- new training programs, especially to cover Mimecast's integrated cloud suite,
- partner access to account resources like partner account managers, sales engineers and marketing managers, and
- a new partner dashboard.
Julian Martin, a 10-year Mimecast veteran, is now the vice president for global channel and operations.
Martin described the old channel structure as having developed differently in different regions of the world over the last 10 years for Mimecast, which specializes in e-mail and data security products and does a substantial portion of its business with Office 365 customers.
"As we have continued to engage with our rapidly expanding ecosystem of resellers globally, we developed a stronger global strategy," Martin said in a statement. "Simplicity is a core value of the new program and we want to ensure our joint engagements with resellers are easy and rewarding for everyone involved as we service our customers together."
Other new channel appointments announced Tuesday include Shawn Pearson, a former Hewlett-Packard vice president of inside sales, who is now vice president of channel sales for North America at Mimecast; and Rema Lolas, who is taking over as channel director in Australia and New Zealand.
The changes come as Mimecast says it is driving toward a primarily channel-focused business. In the company's Q3 earnings call in February, Chairman and CEO Peter Bauer said the range of business coming in from the channel is approaching 75 percent of new sales. At the time, he telegraphed the investments in channel that Mimecast announced Tuesday, and also made clear where Mimecast sees its biggest opportunities geographically.
"North America and continental Europe are two real focus areas for us [in] building out our channel practice even further over the next year," Bauer said on the investment call.
Posted by Scott Bekker on April 10, 2018 at 12:39 PM0 comments
Cryptomining leapfrogged almost all other forms of malware detected in the first quarter of 2018, according to a new security report from Malwarebytes Labs.
"Cryptomining has just gone insane," said Adam Kujawa, director of Malwarebytes, in an interview about the report. "It's all over the place. We've never seen a mass migration to the use of one particular type of threat so fast by so much of the cybercrime community as we have seen with cryptominers."
Malwarebytes on Monday released "Cybercrime tactics and techniques: Q1 2018," the latest in its quarterly series of reports based on telemetry from its business and consumer products.
There are legitimate miners that get a user's consent before repurposing all or most of their CPU capacity toward mining for cryptocurrencies. Malwarebytes' report focuses on the other kinds -- malware-based miners that are often delivered via existing malware families and browser-based miners that hijack a victim's processor through drive-by attacks or malicious browser extensions.
The company found that cryptomining detections were way up in the quarter for consumers, with Android miners in particular surging to 40 times more detections this quarter than last. There was also a boom in March in Mac-based detections of malware-based miners, browser extensions and cryptomining apps, the company found.
For now, it's mainly a consumer problem. Business customers saw a 27 percent increase in cryptomining -- a significant jump to be sure, but nowhere near the levels on the consumer side.
This security report is a trailing indicator given that it covers the first three months of the year. Yet the cryptomining spike documented by Malwarebytes is tracking a little behind the price movement on the flagship cryptocurrency, Bitcoin, which had a recent peak in December but has been mostly falling from those highs over the last quarter.
Damages from cryptomining are squishy for businesses to calculate. A drive-by, browser-based attack, for example, can sometimes be stopped by simply shutting down the offending tab. Other types of cryptomining malware can be much more insidious.
How much damage is really done? There's lost productivity for sure, but Kujawa argues the malware delivery vectors that brought the cryptomining malware to systems will represent a lasting problem, even if cryptocurrency values don't rebound quickly and attackers lose interest in the attacks.
"A miner may only cause minimal damage, but any infection that you don't want to be on your system can install different stuff," he said. "The attacker sends a message to the miner: 'Hey install some ransomware for me, worm, go back to the old tricks.' It's like keeping your back door unlocked."
Posted by Scott Bekker on April 09, 2018 at 1:22 PM0 comments
Longtime senior Microsoft channel executive Jenni Flinders has landed the channel chief role at VMware Inc.
Flinders' formal title at VMware is vice president, Worldwide Channels, and she reports to Brandon Sweeney, senior vice president, Worldwide Commercial and Channel Sales.
The Palo Alto, Calif.-based enterprise virtualization and cloud giant boasts an ecosystem of 75,000 partners.
Flinders left Microsoft in April 2015 after nearly 15 years with the company. She joined Microsoft in 2000 in marketing and sales roles in South Africa and later ran the midmarket business for Latin America out of Microsoft's Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. office before joining then-Microsoft worldwide channel chief Allison Watson's team in the Worldwide Partner Group as chief of staff.
From 2009 until her departure in 2015, she was channel chief for Microsoft's U.S. partners.
Since 2015, Flinders has been CEO of Daarlandt Partners, a channel strategy consulting practice.
Posted by Scott Bekker on April 05, 2018 at 10:26 AM0 comments