After being in limited preview since last September's Ignite conference and in a broader preview since early May, the premium tier for Microsoft's Azure Files service has hit general availability.
With Wednesday's release, users with higher performance needs now have the ability to access managed file services on solid-state drives in Microsoft's public cloud.
"Premium tier is optimized to deliver consistent performance for IO-intensive workloads that require high-throughput and low latency. Premium file shares store data on the latest SSDs, making them suitable for a wide variety of workloads like databases, persistent volumes for containers, home directories, content and collaboration repositories, media and analytics, high variable and batch workloads, and enterprise applications that are performance sensitive," said Tad Brockway, corporate vice president for Azure Storage, Media and Edge, in a blog post.
Microsoft will continue to offer a standard tier of Azure Files at a lower price, with the standard tier positioned for general-purpose file storage, development, test, backups and applications that are less sensitive to latency.
In the United States, the premium tier is about four times as expensive as the standard tier per month at $0.24 per provisioned GiB rather than $0.06 per used GiB. The delta on snapshot GiB/month is slightly less, with premium going for $0.20 per used GiB, while standard is $0.06 per used GiB. (Editor's Note: The story has been updated to correct pricing. An earlier version was based on old information on Microsoft's pricing page, which was updated after the announcement.)
However, unlike with the standard tier, operations on premium files are free. That difference is reflected in the "per provisioned" (versus "per used"), which Microsoft contends makes it simpler to determine the total cost of ownership.
The premium tier pricing goes into effect on Aug. 1. A public preview discount of 50 percent will stay in force until July 31.
Brockway also said the Azure Storage team is working internally with the Azure SQL and Microsoft Power BI teams to help leverage the premium files for higher-performance solutions. "As a result, Azure Database for PostgreSQL and Azure Database for MySQL recently opened a preview of increased scale of 16 TiB databases with 20,000 IOPS powered by premium files. Microsoft Power BI announced a powerful 20 times faster enhanced dataflows compute engine preview built upon Azure Files premium tier," he said.
Posted by Scott Bekker on June 26, 2019 at 8:49 AM0 comments
When it comes to digital marketing for Microsoft partners, few organizations are watching the trends, the space and the success metrics as closely as Fifty Five and Five. Founded five years ago, the firm each year releases a lengthy report recognizing the best in Microsoft partner digital marketing.
As the London-based organization gets ready to release its annual report at the Microsoft Inspire show next month, we caught up with founder Chris Wright for an e-mail Q&A. (The company is taking advance registrations for the free report here.)
RCP: What was the market issue that inspired you to start this series of reports five years ago?
Wright: Fundamentally, we wanted to change the way Microsoft partners thought about marketing. We spent a lot of the time, back then as a young agency, educating clients on "inbound marketing." We'd talk to prospects about the potential of this new way of thinking, of the power of becoming a thought leader, of giving great content away and focusing on inbound leads. We told a great story, but partners sometimes found it difficult to understand. Back then it was too new.
So, we created what was then called "The Microsoft Partner Inbound Marketing Top 50 Report." We devised a means to assess "good inbound marketing" and started ranking partners. It was a way to say, "Look, look over here and see what great inbound marketing looks like right now." Suffice to say it proved very effective, and the report has continued to grow since then.
As you look at the results this year, what are the things that have stayed consistent?
It's actually consistency itself. This year we've seen once again that consistency wins the day. Quality is key, but those partners who remain consistent in their output and their execution rank highly. Put simply, a big part of great content marketing is keeping your message consistently in the places where customers might find it. It is a clear trend in every report we've published.
What were the most surprising results from the survey this time?
We've actually renamed the report this year. We dropped the "Inbound Marketing" wording and called it the "Top 50 Digital Marketing Excellence 2019-2020 Report." This might seem a small thing, but it's actually very significant. The partner community has really matured in recent years, and as the levels of marketing competency have risen, many partners have come to see inbound marketing tactics as the only way to look at digital marketing. Inbound = digital. And the market is very tuned to that now. It's surprised me a little how quickly the market has matured in this way, but it is fantastic to see.
What do the most successful marketing campaigns include?
We are seeing a much greater focus on different content types this year. As partners have started to understand the power of inbound (or content) marketing, they are quite rightly realizing that there's more substance to a well-balanced strategy. Posting a 750-word blog once a week doesn't cover it.
We've seen far more longer-form content this year. Here at Fifty Five and Five we've preached the power of 1,600-word in-depth blogs for a long time, as well as much more visual content. Video and animation are, of course, popular, but even the odd interactive touch to an otherwise static post can make a huge impact.
"A generic blog titled '10 Tips for SharePoint Online' won't cut it anymore. However well-written and engaging your content is, blogs like this will simply get lost in the crowd."
Chris Wright, Founder, Fifty Five and Five
How have marketing strategies developed and improved in the last year?
As well as embracing different content types, we've seen partners apply a lot more creativity. We've seen clear trends appear such as highly specific messaging using clear language, and the adoption of a more "B2C" [business-to-consumer] tone.
A generic blog titled "10 Tips for SharePoint Online" won't cut it anymore. However well-written and engaging your content is, blogs like this will simply get lost in the crowd. The best partners know their customers inside out and can tailor content to meet their target audience's needs. This might mean creating content that focuses on a vertical, a job role or a highly specific problem a customer faces.
When you look at different approaches, what is the comparative success of Web site, blog and social media marketing?
Without giving away exactly how we score partners, blogs have always played a big role in the overall ranking. Good content marketing relies on regular fresh content, and blogs remain the perfect outlet for that. But some very advanced partners have started to look beyond the blog and embrace this sort of content across their site. Quite rightly they think, "Why should that content be siloed in a blog area?"
How would you rate the overall state of Microsoft partner marketing?
Fifty Five and Five have created this report for five years now. Our analysis shows that partner marketing is better than ever. We rank over 39,000 partners every year. Not only have the scores, overall, steadily risen, but the gap between places continues to narrow.
We work closely with Microsoft (in the U.S. from our Seattle office) and in the U.K. and Europe from our London HQ. The focus and sheer effort they put into Go-To-Market activity have really paid off.
If you were to recommend one thing for Microsoft partners to really focus on in their marketing in the coming year, what would it be?
Touching back on an earlier comment, I would say consistency. As an agency, the team here at Fifty Five and Five see it all the time, and it's borne out by the report. Consistency in execution is what earns the best results. Lack of consistency kills marketing efforts.
Partners need to think about their USP (unique selling point), what differentiates them and what their customers already like about them. Then they need to turn that into a marketing message. But the most important thing is maintaining consistency with this message. One blog every few months does not build an audience. The odd tweet or LinkedIn status update does not count as social selling.
Consistency is different to volume, that's also important to remember. There's an optimum level of output, of course, but cranking up the volume doesn't always yield better results.
Posted by Scott Bekker on June 25, 2019 at 11:16 AM0 comments
The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), the lead U.S. government unit on civilian cybersecurity, has joined the chorus of warnings about the "BlueKeep" Windows security vulnerability.
BlueKeep refers to a critical vulnerability in the implementation of the Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) used by several older Windows operating systems, including Windows 2000, Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows Server 2003 and Windows Server 2008. BlueKeep's Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures (CVE) identifier is CVE-2019-0708.
Microsoft disclosed the vulnerability in mid-May and took the extraordinary step of providing patches for some of the involved operating systems that have fallen out of support -- Windows XP, Windows Vista and Windows Server 2003.
Because the vulnerability is pre-authentication and requires no user interaction, Microsoft at the time warned, "The vulnerability is 'wormable', meaning that any future malware that exploits this vulnerability could propagate from vulnerable computer to vulnerable computer in a similar way as the WannaCry malware spread across the globe in 2017."
In an end-of-May blog post, the Microsoft Security Response Center repeated its warnings about the BlueKeep vulnerability in no uncertain terms. "It's been only two weeks since the fix was released and there has been no sign of a worm yet. This does not mean that we're out of the woods ... It is possible that we won't see this vulnerability incorporated into malware. But that's not the way to bet."
Earlier this month, the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) issued a public warning of its own urging Windows administrators to apply the patch and update their systems. In the June 4 statement, the NSA wrote, "Although Microsoft has issued a patch, potentially millions of machines are still vulnerable."
Now comes the CISA warning, which also urges users and administrators to review Microsoft's advisory and "apply the appropriate mitigation measures as soon as possible." In addition to enumerating the previous concerns about the vulnerability -- such as a successful attacker's ability to add accounts with full user rights; view, change or delete data; or install programs -- CISA goes further with a discussion of its own tests.
"CISA tested BlueKeep against a Windows 2000 machine and achieved remote code execution. Windows OS versions prior to Windows 8 that are not mentioned in this Activity Alert may also be affected; however, CISA has not tested these systems," the alert states.
Attila Tomaschek, data privacy advocate at ProPrivacy.com, said the CISA warning should not be taken lightly, in part because of the agency's test. "The fact that CISA revealed that it was able to exploit BlueKeep to execute code remotely on a computer running Windows 2000 suggests that it is only a matter of time before malicious attackers are able to do the same," Tomaschek said in an e-mailed statement.
Tomaschek suggested that the CISA's critical warning indicates that authorities believe the threat of a malicious exploit with the capability to infect large numbers of vulnerable devices is imminent. "Organizations and individuals using vulnerable Windows operating systems should take heed and install Microsoft's security updates to patch the vulnerability and insulate themselves from an attack that could potentially take over their systems and compromise hordes of sensitive data," he said.
Posted by Scott Bekker on June 19, 2019 at 12:47 PM0 comments
Determining the best Microsoft partners in the world is challenging. With a community as large, diverse and global as the Microsoft Partner Network (MPN), there are a thousand ways to look at the question.
Market research firm IDC took a crack at it from the standpoint of global implementation giants in a report released last month. The "IDC Marketscape: Worldwide Microsoft Implementation Services 2019 Vendor Assessment" is an analysis of 10 Microsoft systems integrators.
To be included, a firm had to have at least $125 million of revenue from a Microsoft implementation practice at a worldwide level, a minimum of 1,000 professionals related to Microsoft projects, and at least 10 percent of revenue and 10 percent of headcount in each of IDC's three macroregions.
Summarizing its findings in the form of a chart, IDC was careful not to rank the top 10. Instead, citing 34 evaluation criteria, IDC arranged the companies along a two-axis chart with "Capabilities" on the vertical axis and "Strategies" on the horizontal. Five companies are clustered around the lower edge of a "Leaders" category and the other five are clustered near the top of a "Major Players" category.
According to IDC, the leaders include Accenture and Avanade (grouped as one entity), IBM, Infosys, HCL and TCS. The major players are PwC, DXC, EY, Wipro and Cognizant.
IDC noted that although Leidos is one of the top five systems integrators based on worldwide revenue, the firm was excluded due to the concentration of its revenue. According to IDC, Leidos typically receives more than 80 percent of its revenues from the U.S. government.
IDC also cautioned that its evaluation should not be considered a "final judgment" on firms to consider for a project. "It is conceivable, and in fact the case, that specialty firms can compete with multidisciplinary firms on an equal footing," analyst Ali Zaidi wrote in the report.
In short, the IDC research provides a useful snapshot of the biggest and broadest systems integrators in the Microsoft ecosystem.
An excerpt of the report featuring Accenture and Avanade is available here.
Posted by Scott Bekker on June 17, 2019 at 8:41 AM0 comments
Microsoft announced its Partner of the Year awards this month, and like every year, the structure and categories tell a lot about Redmond's priorities.
Microsoft has always used the worldwide partner awards to emphasize partner success in strategic growth areas or key competitive areas, and to reinforce to the channel what business areas will be most important in the coming fiscal year. Microsoft announces its winners in June and formally gives them out at its Inspire partner conference in July, which aligns roughly with the start of the company's fiscal year.
Here are six takeaways from a review of the 41 categories.
How big a deal is this "digital transformation" concept to Microsoft? Pretty big. First of all, there's a Digital Transformation Partner of the Year category. Kudos to Accenture for winning that one, although it's odd that there are no finalists. That suggests Microsoft may be struggling to get partners to join the Digital Transformation parade in a meaningful way.
Meanwhile, the phrase "digital transformation" has attained buzzword status in the winner descriptions. In the 30-page PDF featuring short descriptions of each of the 2019 winners, the phrase "digital transformation" appears 66 times. Compare that against the 52 appearances of the phrase "artificial intelligence" or "AI," and you get a sense of how important this digital transformation idea is to Microsoft.
Microsoft grouped its solution-focused awards this year into four main areas. They are Azure (Intelligent Cloud) Awards, Business Application Awards, Modern Workplace Awards and Other Awards. (Non-solution groupings are Industry Awards and Country Awards.) What's interesting is that those groupings are relatively consistent with the big partner classifications set in the major field and channel shakeup of 2017. At the time, Microsoft created four major buckets for partners: Modern Workplace, Business Applications, Applications & Infrastructure, and Data & Artificial Intelligence. Two of those remain in the awards structure, Modern Workplace and Business Applications. The other two are largely combined into Azure (Intelligent Cloud).
There's not much in the way of on-premises-based awards. The closest are the ones that involve getting customers the heck off on-premises. Two of those awards are in the "Azure (Intelligent Cloud) Awards" area. There is the straight "Datacenter Migration" category, won by Microsoft awards veteran 10th Magnitude, a pioneer in Azure business practices.
Then there's the related "Data Estate Modernization" category, won by Cognizant Technology Solutions. Note also the "Indirect Provider Partner of the Year" winner, Arrow ECS. One of that company's major pushes is datacenter retirements paired with moves to Azure. Expect an ever louder drumbeat about datacenter migration to Azure as end-of-life approaches for Windows Server 2008 R2 on Jan. 14, 2020.
Evident in the business applications categories is the shift away from emphasis on terms like ERP and CRM and toward Dynamics 365 and elements of the platform underlying Dynamics 365. These categories reflect changes going on with the business applications competencies, as well.
The mix of industry verticals Microsoft appears most interested in has evolved slightly, but is still relatively consistent with the verticals Microsoft declared as strategic in the 2017 overhaul. At the time, it was manufacturing, financial services, retail, health, education and government. Those verticals continue to be reflected and rewarded in the current awards list, although the manufacturing category is "Manufacturing and Resources." Additional vertical awards for 2019 are automotive, media & communications and Microsoft CityNext.
SAP on Azure
One other awards category of interest is the SAP on Azure Partner of the Year, won by Capgemini. SAP on Azure is an advanced specialization within the Cloud Platform competency. In addition to the strategic importance to Microsoft of drawing SAP implementations to the Azure cloud, it's also a hint of things coming for partners. In the next fiscal year, Microsoft will be expanding its advanced specializations for partners to include Azure Stack, server migration, security and teamwork.
Trends and priorities aside, congratulations to the 2019 partner winners. See the full list below.
Azure (Intelligent Cloud) Awards
AI and Machine Learning Partner of the Year
- Winner: Crayon Group
- Finalist: AgileThought
- Finalist: eSmart Systems
- Finalist: Modis
Application Innovation Partner of the Year
- Winner: Wapice Ltd.
- Finalist: Infosys Ltd.
- Finalist: Wragby Business Solutions and Technologies Ltd.
- Finalist: Zure
Azure Influencer Partner of the Year
- Winner: Hanu
- Finalist: Navisite
- Finalist: SELA
- Finalist: Sol-Tec Ltd.
Data Analytics Partner of the Year
- Winner: Modis
- Finalist: Cognizant Technology Solutions
- Finalist: Pragmatic Works
Data Estate Modernization Partner of the Year
Datacenter Migration Partner of the Year
DevOps Partner of the Year
- Winner: 10th Magnitude
- Finalist: Dimensional Strategies Inc.
- Finalist: InCycle Software
Internet of Things Partner of the Year
- Winner: Accenture/Avanade
- Finalist: PTC
- Finalist: SoftBank Technology
- Finalist: Telelink Business Services
Mixed Reality Partner of the Year
- Winner: PTC
- Finalist: Bentley Systems
- Finalist: Kognitiv Spark
- Finalist: Meemim Inc.
OSS on Azure Partner of the Year
- Winner: HashiCorp
- Finalist: SNP Technologies Inc.
SAP on Azure Partner of the Year
- Winner: Capgemini
- Finalist: DXC Technology
- Finalist: T-Systems
Business Applications Awards
Dynamics 365 for Business Central Partner of the Year
- Winner: Cooper Parry IT
- Finalist: Bond Consulting Services
- Finalist: NAB Solutions AB
- Finalist: Wiise
Dynamics 365 for Customer Service Partner of the Year
- Winner: PowerObjects, an HCL Technologies Company
- Finalist: Cognizant Technologies
- Finalist: DXC Technology
- Finalist: Hitachi Solutions Philippines Corporation
Dynamics 365 for Field Service Partner of the Year
- Winner: Hitachi Solutions
- Finalist: eCraft Oy Ab
- Finalist: HSO International
- Finalist: Velrada
Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations Partner of the Year
Dynamics 365 for Sales Partner of the Year
- Winner: SAGlobal
- Finalist: Experlogix
- Finalist: KPMG Advisory
- Finalist: MASAO
Dynamics 365 for Talent Partner of the Year
Power BI Partner of the Year
- Winner: Nihilent
- Finalist: Campus Management
- Finalist: Catapult Systems
- Finalist: Expose Data
PowerApps Partner of the Year
- Winner: Catapult Systems
- Finalist: C Centric Solutions
- Finalist: Mercury xRM Limited
- Finalist: PowerObjects, an HCL Technologies Company
Automotive Partner of the Year
- Winner: Annata
- Finalist: 4ward
- Finalist: Bright Box
- Finalist: Icertis Inc.
Education Partner of the Year
- Winner: Edsby
- Finalist: Blackbaud
- Finalist: Insight
Financial Services Partner of the Year
- Winner: PowerObjects, an HCL Technologies Company
- Finalist: AKA Enterprise Solutions
- Finalist: Finastra
Government Partner of the Year
- Winner: Hitachi Solutions
- Finalist: KPMG
- Finalist: Planet Technologies
- Finalist: RapidDeploy
Health Partner of the Year
- Winner: Health Catalyst
- Finalist: KenSci
- Finalist: Mozzaz Corporation
- Finalist: Quest Software
Manufacturing and Resources Partner of the Year
- Winner: PTC
- Finalist: ABB Asea Brown Boveri Ltd.
- Finalist: Hitachi Solutions
- Finalist: ICONICS
Media & Communications Partner of the Year
- Winner: Aprimo
- Finalist: AdPushup Inc.
- Finalist: SAGlobal
- Finalist: Tech Mahindra
Microsoft CityNext Partner of the Year
- Winner: Bentley Systems
- Finalist: ABB Asea Brown Boveri Ltd.
- Finalist: KPMG Adoxio
- Finalist: Meemim Inc.
Retail Partner of the Year
- Winner: Obase
- Finalist: Brainpad Inc.
- Finalist: HSO
- Finalist: JDA Software
Modern Workplace Awards
Intelligent Communications Partner of the Year
- Winner: Arkadin
- Finalist: CDW LLC
- Finalist: NBConsult
- Finalist: Tata Communications
Modern Desktop Partner of the Year
Modern Workplace Transformation Partner of the Year
- Winner: Phoenix Software
- Finalist: Accenture/Avanade
- Finalist: Content and Code
- Finalist: DXC Technology
Project and Portfolio Management Partner of the Year
- Winner: Wicresoft
- Finalist: Innovative-e
- Finalist: ProActive A/S
- Finalist: Sensei Project Solutions
Security and Compliance Partner of the Year
- Winner: InSpark
- Finalist: Edgile
- Finalist: Maureen Data Systems Inc.
- Finalist: Onevinn
Teamwork Partner of the Year
Digital Transformation Partner of the Year
Learning Partner of the Year
- Winner: Global Knowledge
- Finalist: QA
- Finalist: Shanghai Yungoal Info Tech Co. Ltd.
Partner for Social Impact Partner of the Year
Alliance Global ISV Partner of the Year
- Winner: Finastra
- Finalist: Cloudera
- Finalist: Icertis Inc.
- Finalist: Sitecore
Alliance Global SI Partner of the Year
Customer Experience Partner of the Year
Diveristy and Inclusion Changemaker Partner of the Year
Indirect Provider Partner of the Year
- Winner: Arrow ECS
- Finalist: Crayon Software Experts Spain S.L.
- Finalist: Ingram Micro Mexico
- Finalist: rhipe
Argentina: VU Security
Austria: ITSDONE Holding GmbH
Azerbaijan: SMART business
Bahrain: Almoayyed Computers
Bangladesh: Corporate Projukti Limited
Bermuda: Maureen Data Systems Inc.
Bolivia: SoftwareONE Bolivia
Bosnia and Herzegovina: Logosoft d.o.o.
Brunei: Tech One Solutions Sdn Bhd
Canada: Long View
Cayman Islands: Kirk Office Equipment Ltd.
China: SYSTEX China Ltd.
Colombia: Westcon Group Colombia Limitada
Costa Rica: ITCO
Côte d'Ivoire: INOVA Consulting Services
Croatia: Hrvatski Telekom d.d.
Curaçao: Inova Solutions
Cyprus: Dot.cy Developments Ltd.
Czech Republic: Unicorn Systems
Dominican Republic: C-ven Technologies
Ecuador: BUSINESS IT
Egypt: HITS Technologies
El Salvador: GBM de El Salvador
Estonia: TVG Eesti, OÜ
Georgia: UGT Ltd.
Germany: Joint Entry: PHAT CONSULTING GmbH, Glück & Kanja Consulting AG and GAB Enterprise IT Solutions GmbH
Greece: OFFICE LINE SA
Guatemala: Gensa Group
Hong Kong SAR: KBQuest Hong Kong Limited
Hungary: T-Systems Magyarorszag Zrt.
India: G7 CR Technologies India Pvt. Ltd.
Indonesia: PT Awan Integrasi Sandidata (ViBiCloud)
Ireland: Spanish Point Technologies
Israel: U-BTech Solutions
Italy: Var Group Spa
Jamaica: Inova Solutions
Japan: Fujitsu Ltd.
Kazakhstan: M-SYSTEM LLP
Kenya: Cloud Productivity Solutions Limited
Korea: Zenith & Company Co., Ltd.
Latvia: Tilde Sia
Luxembourg: Devoteam S.A.
Malaysia: Rhipe Malaysia Sdn Bhd
Malta: ICT Solutions
Mexico: Ingram Micro Mexico
Mongolia: Mogul Service and Support LLC
Namibia: Salt Essential IT
Nepal: Tech One Global Nepal Pvt. Ltd.
Netherlands: ICT Automatisering NV
New Zealand: Umbrellar Limited
Oman: BAHWAN IT LLC
Pakistan: Maison Consulting & Solutions
Panama: GBM Dominicana
Paraguay: OLAM S.R.L.
Peru: G&S Gestión y Sistemas SAC
Philippines: Crayon Software Experts Philippines Inc.
Poland: Synerise S.A.
Portugal: InnoWave Technologies S.A.
Puerto Rico: Nagnoi LLC
Qatar: Information & Communication Technology W.L.L
Romania: Asseco SEE
Russia: Awara IT
Saudi Arabia: eSense Software
Serbia: Comtrade System Integration d.o.o.
Singapore: Ingram Micro Asia Ltd.
Slovakia: exe, a.s.
South Africa: Mint Management Technologies
Sri Lanka: Tech One Global
Sweden: Acando AB
Switzerland: isolutions AG
Taiwan: Systex Software & Service Corporation
Thailand: MFEC Public Company Limited
Trinidad and Tobago: Davyn
Uganda: Britehouse/Dimension Data
Ukraine: Infopulse LLC
United Arab Emirates: Netways
United Kingdom: New Signature
United States: Quisitive
Uruguay: Arnaldo C. Castro S.A.
Venezuela: CONSEIN, C.A
Vietnam: Tech Data Advanced Solutions (Vietnam) Company Limited
Posted by Scott Bekker on June 13, 2019 at 11:46 AM0 comments
Adam Warby will step down as CEO of Avanade after over 11 years in August and be succeeded from within the company by Pamela Maynard, the company announced this month.
Avanade is a giant in the Microsoft partner community with 36,000 professionals worldwide, a specialized focus on Microsoft technologies and a tight relationship with Microsoft. The company was originally founded in 2000 as a joint venture between Accenture and Microsoft, and the company's board includes Judson Althoff, executive vice president of the Worldwide Commercial Business at Microsoft.
Since Warby became CEO in 2008, Avanade's revenues have tripled from $900 million to $2.5 billion, the company has expanded the number of countries it operates in by seven to 26 total, and it has closed seven acquisitions.
In a statement, Warby called the decision to leave difficult, but said that it was the right time for a transition. "On the eve of our 20th anniversary, I am confident that Pam is the right leader to take Avanade into the next chapter. During the last 11 years, she has driven unparalleled results for Avanade in the key roles that she has held and has been a vocal advocate for inclusion and diversity across the organization," Warby said.
Maynard is currently president of product and innovation at Avanade. She has held the role for two years and responsibilities included overseeing several practices, development of new offerings, advisory services and the delivery organization. Her previous roles within Avanade included running Avanade Europe as president and running Avanade U.K. as general manager. Maynard has also worked for Capgemini, Ernst & Young and Oracle.
Posted by Scott Bekker on June 13, 2019 at 8:46 AM0 comments
Significant tweaks are coming to the Microsoft Partner Network (MPN) in the coming months, including more challenging competency requirements, advanced specializations, a new security competency and some additional benefits.
"To prepare you for new opportunities today and into the future, we are making large investments in many aspects of our partner business, with the Microsoft Partner Network as your entry point for partnership with Microsoft and with other partners," said Toby Richards, general manager of Partner Go-to-Market & Programs in Microsoft's One Commercial Partner organization.
Richards outlined the changes in a recent blog post that serves as a preview for topics Microsoft will discuss at the Microsoft Inspire partner conference in Las Vegas in mid-July. The Microsoft 2020 fiscal year begins on July 1, and that's traditionally the time of year when Microsoft makes the biggest adjustments to its partner programs.
The blog post was vague about the changing requirements for competencies, but Richards' comments suggested partners can expect higher bars for both the gold and silver tiers. "As cloud technologies advance, partner capabilities must keep pace," Richards wrote. "With this in mind, we are updating the requirements for several competencies to better reflect the market and more demanding customer expectations."
In a hint of things to come, he pointed to changes announced in April on the business application side. At that time, Microsoft announced the coming retirement of the Cloud CRM competency, as well as big increases in the bar for attaining competencies, including the Cloud Business Applications competency that Microsoft is steering Cloud CRM partners toward. For example, partners going for a silver competency in Cloud Business Applications need five different employees to pass exams; partners reaching for a gold competency need 15 different employees.
The specific requirement changes for other competencies will take effect in July and will be communicated directly to affected partners, Richards said.
Even as the Cloud CRM competency is going away, Microsoft will add a new Security competency, covering a critical area of customer need. The new competency will be available in July and will be designed for partners delivering security-related services on Azure and Microsoft 365.
Microsoft will also be expanding its advanced specializations for partners with certain gold competencies. The recent example is the SAP on Azure advanced specialization for the Cloud Platform competency. In the coming months, Microsoft plans to release more advanced specializations for partners, including Azure Stack, server migration, security and teamwork.
Richards also teased but did not detail additional benefits for competency partners. In addition to the flagship benefit of internal use rights for Microsoft products, competency partners will also have access to enablement and go-to-market benefits within their competencies. Richards also reaffirmed Microsoft's emphasis on the co-sell program, hinting that there may be more integrations between co-sell and competencies.
Microsoft also plans to provide go-to-market services that are tied to specific partner activities, such as creating a business profile in the Microsoft Partner Center for referrals, publishing and transacting an app or service in the marketplace, and attaining a first competency or renewing an existing competency.
Posted by Scott Bekker on June 04, 2019 at 11:46 AM0 comments
IDC's latest update to its 2019 PC market forecast is promising an "interesting year" for PC sales, with Windows 7's end-of-support deadline providing a bright spot in an otherwise gloomy market.
Overall, IDC now expects to see unit shipments drop by 3 percent for the year for a total of 392.5 million units. The main challenge comes on the consumer side of the market, where shipments are expected to decline 6 percent year-over-year, as consumers spend more of their budget on replacing smartphones than PCs.
Yet IDC is projecting that the average selling prices (ASPs) for the entire market are rising 2.6 percent for the year, keeping the dollar value of the market roughly flat at $237 billion.
The ASP increase, according to an IDC statement, is being "driven by new technologies, such as thinner bezels on notebook screens that have increased demand for 2-in-1 form factors, and ongoing demand for gaming PCs. Additionally, shipments into the commercial segment are expected to provide an uplift in ASPs in 2019 as many enterprises move to replace their PCs before Microsoft ends support for Windows 7 in early 2020."
That key date of Jan. 14, 2020, when extended support for Windows 7 ends, and the other ASP-lifting factors are prompting IDC to declare that "2019 is shaping up to be an interesting year."
After 2019, maybe not so much. IDC currently expects unit shipments to decline by an average of 1.6 percent per year, hitting 367.7 million units in 2023.
Posted by Scott Bekker on June 03, 2019 at 9:12 AM0 comments
Veeam is unusual among private software companies in that it regularly and publicly shares financial performance data via press release.
It's not the kind of comprehensive disclosure you'd see from a public company with net income, revenues and business unit results, but it's still a remarkable degree of transparency.
This week, Veeam provided an update at its annual VeeamON conference in Miami and revealed a significant revenue milestone.
"We achieved $1 billion in revenue bookings," said Ratmir Timashev, co-founder and executive vice president for sales and marketing. Timashev said the figure was based on revenues for the trailing 12 months.
The revenue marker trails slightly, but only slightly, behind Timashev's prediction in 2013 that the company would reach $1 billion in five years.
"We can blame [that] a little bit on subscription rights," Timashev said, referring to the shift in revenue models and the marketwide way in which businesses are buying software on a monthly basis rather than paying for licenses upfront.
Veeam also said this week it had 350,000 customers and was adding 4,000 net new customers per month and 50,000 per year.
Veeam sells backup and availability software for cloud data management.
Posted by Scott Bekker on May 22, 2019 at 10:47 AM0 comments
Veeam is forging ahead with a second generation of its orchestration technology for disaster recovery that could present significant opportunities for the company's partners.
Failing over a complex environment in a disaster recovery situation is a multistep process. Processes and applications must be started in a precise order and spun up on the correct hardware or virtual machines. Orchestration solutions allow organizations to set the order that those automated steps are taken in case of need for a failover.
Veeam Availability Orchestrator v2 hit general availability on Tuesday during the VeeamON 2019 conference in Miami.
Danny Allan, vice president of product strategy for Veeam, said the flagship feature of the new version is that it now allows orchestrated business continuity from backups rather than strictly from replication environments.
"Doing it from backups means you don't have to be running 24x7 in both locations. This now democratizes orchestrated business continuity disaster recovery to the entire customer base, and not only the customer base but the whole industry," Allan said.
Allan described Veeam's vision of the cloud data management journey for customers as about a 10-year process. The first stage are backups protecting all workloads, followed by cloud mobility. Most organizations are in those two stages, Allan said. Because of General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), companies in Europe are slightly ahead of U.S. companies in a third stage, visibility. Relatively few organizations have reached the fourth stage, orchestration, or the final stage, automation, he said.
One Veeam customer that is very interested in the automation tool is Tom Morley of ABM Industries, a large facilities management company. Morley, director of global technology operations and enterprise engineering, is an intensive user of Veeam technologies, but sees orchestration as a 2020 project after a current modernization overhaul is complete.
"As part of modernizing, our weakest spot is probably orchestration across all of our systems," Morley said. "Next year will be about orchestrating all the way down."
Veeam's v2 includes several other new features. Reporting and compliance capabilities have been enhanced to allow organizations to prove with the orchestrator that service-level agreements are being met. The tool also allows the ability to use the orchestrator for purposes aside from recovery, such as DevOps, testing and analytics. Veeam has also added role-based access control to allow for more fine-grained delegation.
Due to the complexity of orchestration environments, Allan sees Veeam's thousands of channel partners playing a significant role. "When you're doing orchestration, that is the automation of business processes. It takes an expert to do. Someone has to design it, probably partners," Allan said.
Cloud service provider iLand, a longtime Veeam partner with a substantial Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS) practice, already has its own runbooks for orchestration of customer failovers. However, iLand Senior Vice President for Business Development Dante Orsini is very enthusiastic about some of the opportunities unlocked by v2's ability to orchestrate for non-DR purposes, especially security testing.
"One of the big drivers we see is security," said Orsini, referencing the ability to run vulnerability assessments and penetration tests on a copy of a customer's applications and data. "Now you can do this in a nonintrusive fashion, take a look if there are any challenges and make a plan," Orsini said.
Currently for an organization with 100 applications, the partner would need to find the 100 application owners and involve them in the testing process. With the orchestration, more robust tests could be done safely as a first step, making it necessary to track down only the owners of applications that had major security issues.
Posted by Scott Bekker on May 22, 2019 at 10:48 AM0 comments
Organizations whose Office 365 environments were set up by third-party partners are at risk of a number of security misconfigurations, a federal computer security watchdog warned on Monday.
In an analysis report titled "Microsoft Office 365 Security Observations," the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) described four common security misconfigurations found during a multi-month investigation begun last fall. CISA is the new standalone agency within the Department of Homeland Security that functions as the lead national government unit on civilian cybersecurity.
The investigation focused on customers who have used third-party partners to migrate their e-mail services to Office 365. The CISA report did not say how many customer environments it looked at, how large the organizations were in terms of seats or revenues, how widespread the problems were at those sites, or what kinds of third-party partners were involved.
The conclusion, however, was stark. "The organizations that used a third party have had a mix of configurations that lowered their overall security posture (e.g., mailbox auditing disabled, unified audit log disabled, multi-factor authentication disabled on admin accounts)," the report said. "In addition, the majority of these organizations did not have a dedicated IT security team to focus on their security in the cloud. These security oversights have led to user and mailbox compromises and vulnerabilities."
The report details five Office 365 configuration problems, with some of them exposing administrator username/password prompts to attack without multifactor authentication (MFA) protections in place, others involving audit logs being left off, and another allowing attackers who had compromised on-premises accounts to move laterally into the cloud.
The main MFA problem involved organizations that didn't set up MFA for the Azure Active Directory (AD) Global Administrators in an Office 365 environment. Microsoft does not require MFA by default in creating the accounts, and many organizations don't change the setting. The report notes that the Azure AD Global Administrator accounts are the first ones created and are required to configure the tenant and migrate users. "These accounts are exposed to internet access because they are based in the cloud. If not immediately secured, these cloud-based accounts could allow an attacker to maintain persistence as a customer migrates to O365," the report warned.
A related problem flagged by CISA involves legacy protocols that don't support MFA. Those include POP3, IMAP and SMTP. While the report acknowledges that users with older e-mail clients may need these less secure protocols, efforts should be made to limit their use to specific users and to wean the organization off of those protocols as quickly as possible.
Of all the problems highlighted in the report, CISA stressed enabling MFA as a best practice: "This is the best mitigation technique to use to protect against credential theft for O365 users."
Auditing is another commonly discussed problem in Office 365 security circles. Mailbox auditing was disabled by default prior to January 2019, meaning organizations trying to investigate potential breaches often discovered they had no logs to look at if they hadn't enabled the feature. CISA urged organizations whose Office 365 configuration was set up prior to January of this year to ensure that mailbox auditing is enabled.
The analysis report also pointed to another logging feature which is still disabled by default -- the unified audit log. That log records events from several Office 365 services, including Exchange Online, SharePoint Online, OneDrive, Azure AD, Microsoft Teams and Power BI. Administrators can enable the unified audit log in the Security and Compliance Center.
Another configuration choice that can lead to security problems involves password sync using Azure AD Connect, the report states. A useful migration tool designed to create Azure AD identities from on-premises identities or to match previously created Azure AD identities with on-premises AD identities, Azure AD Connect can cause security problems in certain cases.
Posted by Scott Bekker on May 13, 2019 at 10:48 AM0 comments
Buried in Microsoft's slew of Build-related announcements this week was an expansion of the co-sell program that has already incented the Microsoft field to sell billions of dollars worth of partners' solutions.
Begun as a program for Azure ISVs, the Microsoft co-sell program was a way for Microsoft to get its own salesforce selling the partners' cloud infrastructure-based solutions. Under co-sell, the Microsoft field got 10 percent of the total value of the ISV partner solution, paid by Microsoft, for landing a sale.
Microsoft said at the Build show in Redmond on Monday that nearly 3,000 ISVs whose solutions run on Azure have generated more than $5 billion in revenue over the past 12 months with the co-sell program. That figure is roughly in line with previous figures the company has released about the scale of the co-sell program.
Now Microsoft is leveraging its massive channel to expand the program in two ways.
First, Microsoft is expanding co-sell beyond Azure. It will now encompass Microsoft 365, Dynamics 365 and Power Platform. In a statement, Microsoft said the idea is "to create deeper collaboration in selling line-of-business applications." The capabilities are planned for availability at the start of Microsoft's fiscal year on July 1. The roadmap also calls for later expansions to Office 365 and Dynamics 365 add-ins.
Next, Microsoft is expanding sales incentives beyond its own salesforce. Now Microsoft channel partners will be able to resell eligible ISV solutions through the Microsoft Cloud Solution Provider (CSP) program. "For all ISVs, small and large, this effectively offers 'channel as a service' to accelerate customer acquisition through one of the world's largest distribution channels," the statement said. It was not immediately clear if the field sales incentives would be changed for fiscal year 2020 or what those incentives would be for resellers representing other ISVs' solutions through Microsoft's engine.
Helping to power the co-selling opportunities is the introduction of what Microsoft describes as "transactable seat-based SaaS capabilities for AppSource and Azure Marketplace."
The automation and incentives in the expanded co-selling program, especially on the partner-to-partner (P2P) side, represent an important new phase of the Microsoft Partner Network (MPN). With the hundreds of thousands of partners in the MPN worldwide, the ability for those partners to connect through the Microsoft marketplaces they already use with (ideally) little friction could rapidly accelerate P2P revenues.
Posted by Scott Bekker on May 07, 2019 at 10:49 AM0 comments