HP Adds BI Appliances

Hewlett-Packard Co. is beefing up its analytics portfolio, targeting mid-range and large-scale implementations with several new BI appliances.

The company today added the appliances to its newly named AppSystem portfolio during its HP Discover conference, taking place this week in Las Vegas.

The new Business Data Warehouse appliance is optimized for Microsoft's SQL Server. It follows the release in January of the Enterprise Data Warehouse, both of which were co-engineered by Microsoft and HP.  The two companies inked a $250 million pact to co-develop converged appliances based on Microsoft's core software back in January of 2010 (see "Microsoft and HP: Eyeing Their Next Move").

The Enterprise Data Warehouse was targeted at larger enterprises with large data sets to enable them to consolidate those down into a large enterprise data warehouse. The new Business Data Warehouse is aimed at smaller and mid-range customers with data volumes up to 5 or 6 terabytes, according to HP.

"The goal is to make it really simple to consolidate data into a single data warehouse, pre-designed, pre-optimized single SKU, easy-to-deploy plug-it-in, and type in a few key things and you're off to the races, in hours versus potentially weeks or months," said Martin Whittaker, vice president of systems and solutions engineering for HP's Enterprise Servers, Storage and Networking business.

Another system HP is announcing in conjunction with Microsoft is the HP Database Consolidation solution, or DBC, which is designed to bring together spread-out instances of SQL Server. "The sprawl of SQL Server instances consuming datacenter space, consuming power, lots of instances to manage, may be rather aged," Whittaker said.

DBC is pre-integrated with tools developed jointly by HP and Microsoft that are designed to simplify the migration of data from multiple older instantiations onto the database consolidation appliance. That reduces the footprint in the datacenter, including power and cooling, making it easier to manage, he said.

The company also rolled out the HP Vertica Analytics System, aimed at organizations looking to crunch massive amounts of data in real time. HP recently acquired Vertica and is now offering the software on the HP BladeSystem platform. The system will be offered in three configurations: quarter-, half- and full-rack. Whittaker said the full-rack configuration will manage a petabyte of data.

HP also announced the HP SAP Hana AppSystem, an appliance designed to perform analysis of data running in the SAP Business Suite.

Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on June 06, 2011 at 11:59 AM0 comments

Microsoft Aims for 'Partners of Record' with Office 365 Beta

It's been nearly a month since Microsoft issued the public beta of Office 365, and the company is now encouraging its partners to sign customers up.

Microsoft said yesterday that partners can indeed sign customers up for the beta and register themselves as the "Partner of Record."

"This feature allows you to get your customers up and running on the Office 365 beta, and to continue to build relationships with them as they move to trial and purchase," said Jon Roskill, corporate VP of Microsoft's Worldwide Partner Group, in a blog post. "A partner of record designation also provides initial advisor fees for each purchase, and perpetual fees for each seat continuing to run Office 365."

To jump in, Roskill noted that all Cloud Essentials partners will have access to the trial invitations and purchase offers features in Office 365. By so doing, solution providers and integrators can attach themselves as Partners of Record to any customer who accepts the invitation to test the beta and ultimately subscribe.

Partners should choose between Cloud Accelerate and Cloud Essentials, Roskill suggested. Cloud Accelerate partners get access to delegated administration, he pointed out. "This allows you to perform administrative tasks on behalf of your customers," he said.

Partners can sign up here. (For RCP's look at 12 key features of Office 365, click here.)

The Partner of Record model for the beta is similar to Microsoft's existing model for the Business Productivity Online Suite (BPOS). In essence, Microsoft is billing customers directly and paying partners on the back end.

Many partners are holding out hope that Microsoft will fundamentally alter its cloud billing systems when Office 365 ships or shortly thereafter to allow partners to control the customer account.

Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on May 12, 2011 at 11:59 AM0 comments

Veeam Moves To Extend Partner Network

Veeam Software, a provider of VMware data protection and management solutions for VMware datacenter environments, is looking to recruit Microsoft partners.

Company officials will be at this week's Microsoft Management Summit trolling for partners who want to help customers manage VMware environments through Microsoft System Center.

"We are trying to drive our partner awareness," said Doug Hazelman, Veeam's senior director of product strategy. "We have a number of partners who are VMware partners but we are also doing some heavy recruitment right now for Microsoft partners or those VMware partners that want to become deeper Microsoft partners, especially in building a System Center competency to be able to really follow on with Microsoft's vision for the private cloud as they move forward."

System Center Operations Manager by default can't see any VMware information. Veeam brings all the VMware virtual infrastructure information, such as performance and event data for the host hardware information, into System Center Operations Manager.

Veeam this week said Microsoft has named it a Microsoft Technology Center partner. Microsoft will install the Veeam nworks Management Pack at its centers worldwide.

Last week, the company said that its Veeam University training program is now offering an online professional accreditation program for its 3,000 channel partners. The program has two levels, Veeam Technical Sales Professional (VMTSP) and Veeam Sales Professional (VMSP).

Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on March 22, 2011 at 11:59 AM0 comments

Cisco Releases New UC Tool

Cisco Systems this week took the wraps off a unified communications platform that combines chat, presence and voice messaging onto PCs, tablets and smartphones.

Cisco Jabber is the culmination of the company's 2008 acquisition of Jabber Inc. Cisco said Jabber works with or is set to support Windows, iPhone, iPad, Nokia, Android and the BlackBerry platforms. Support for the Mac is slated for this summer.

It also works with Cisco's own video endpoints, including Cisco Unified IP Phones, Cisco WebEx MeetingCenter and Cisco TelePresence.

The company launched the new product at the Enterprise Connect trade show, taking place this week in Orlando, FL. The release of Cisco Jabber sets the stage for a battle with Microsoft, which late last year released Lync Communications Server. Cisco, like Microsoft, is looking to convince customers to move away from traditional PBXes.

While Cisco last week stepped away from a different battle with Microsoft, deciding not to go to market with its Cisco Mail offering, the battle in the UC market between the two companies is alive and well. Don't expect either company to back away.

Based on the standard Extensible Messaging and Presence Protocol (XMPP), Cisco Jabber is interoperable with a variety of presence and instant messaging platforms, according to Cisco. That allows for chat among individuals using other IM platforms from Google, IBM, Microsoft and AOL.

Cisco also said Jabber can integrate with Microsoft Office, enabling individuals to set up calls or chats within Office.

On the video side, Cisco Jabber supports the H.264 standard and provides high-definition resolution. It allows for multiple parties to participate in a videoconference. However, the latter capabilities aren't set to be available until the second half of the year.

Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on March 02, 2011 at 11:59 AM0 comments

Will Nokia License Windows Phone?

Nokia's shares rose for the fourth consecutive day, apparently on rumors that the struggling phone maker is going to abandon its Symbian operating system in favor of Microsoft's Windows Phone 7.

The company has scheduled an announcement for next Friday. Though the nature of the event, to be held in London, was not revealed, Nokia CEO Stephen Elop is scheduled to brief investors. The rumors perpetuated upon the publication of a letter yesterday by analyst Adnaan Ahmad of Berenberg Bank in Hamburg, urging Elop and Ballmer to form an alliance.

Elop, who was president of Microsoft's Business Division until late last year, could also decide to license Google's Android platform, which has 53 percent of the phone market, according to NPD, though Ahmad's letter details why doing so would not be in Nokia's interest. Licensing either platform, or both, would be a departure for Nokia, which until now has remained wedded to Symbian.

Nokia sold 450 million phones in 2010 and it would be a strong channel for Windows Phone 7, Pete Cunningham, an analyst at Canalys told The New York Times. "For Nokia, Microsoft would be a strong domestic ally, helping it to crack the U.S. market," The Times reported.

Still, only 2 million phones running Microsoft's Windows Phone 7 have sold, according to Microsoft. Perhaps an alliance with Nokia would be enough to boost Microsoft's fortunes but both have some pretty well-established rivals to beat. Still, since smart phones represent only 25 percent of all phones shipped, it may be too early to declare any winners. But with the momentum of Android and Apple's iPhone, it's sure hard to bet against them at this time.

Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on February 03, 2011 at 11:59 AM0 comments

Microsoft Roadmap

Wondering what new products are coming from Microsoft this year? Redmond Channel Partner's product guide is now up. Though the 2010 lineup was a tough act to follow, there are quite a few new products in this year's pipeline as well.

Among them are new versions of Dynamics, Windows Small Business Server and, of course, Office 365. There are also a number of enabling products to look forward to including Visual Studio LightSwitch, Silverlight 5 and Internet Explorer 9. Also, while we're not sure it will ship this year, we included the next version of SQL Server, code-named Denali. The Community Technology Preview (CTP) is now available.

If you're looking to keep tabs on Microsoft products in the pipeline, this is a feature you will want to bookmark.

Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on February 03, 2011 at 11:59 AM0 comments

Intel's $1 Billion Bug

If you had your eyes set on any number of new notebooks based on Intel's Second Generation Core processors code-named Sandy Bridge, you're going to have to wait a few months. And if you or any of your customers already have one of the few that have shipped, you may want to return it.  Intel this week abruptly halted production of systems based on the company's Second Generation Corei5 and Core i7 quad-core processors. 

It is the costliest glitch in the company's history, surpassing a flaw in the original widely publicized Pentium processor that led to a $475 million write-off in 1995, according to The Wall Street Journal. This time around, Intel is putting aside $700 million to fix the problem and has is reducing its revenue forecast by $300 million as a result of the new flaw putting the total cost of the flaw at $1 billion.

The problem lies with a support chip called the Intel 6 Series, code-named Cougar Point. Intel said the Serial-ATA (SATA) ports in the chipsets could potentially degrade thereby impacting data throughput if devices linked via the SATA interface such as hard drives and DVD drives.

Intel said it has halted shipment of the support chip and has fixed the design problem and is already manufacturing a new version of the chip. The Sandy Bridge processor itself is not affected, nor are any other products, Intel said. The company expects to start shipping the updated chipset within a few weeks and expects to resume normal production in April.

The news has already had an impact on key PC manufacturers. Hewlett-Packard Co. has postponed a media briefing scheduled for next week when it was to unveil new notebooks based on the Sandy Bridge processors. According to a Bloomberg report, the flaw is impacting other PC makers including Samsung, NEC and Dell.

Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on February 03, 2011 at 11:59 AM0 comments

Will Lync Replace the PBX?

When Microsoft launched its Lync universal communications and collaboration platform this week, the mandate was clear: that Lync is destined to replace traditional office telecommunications systems.

"The era of the PBX, folks, is over," said Gurdeep Singh Pall, corporate vice president of Microsoft's Office Communications Group. Pall made that point several times at the public launch event and in a follow-up discussion.

Some say not so fast. Even those that have jumped on the Lync bandwagon are not bringing the forklift in just yet. A perfect example is Estee Lauder, the huge cosmetics conglomerate. I sat down with Earl Newsone, Estee Lauder's VP of global IT services, who said while scrapping the company's PBX systems would be nice, not so at the expense of good solid dial time.

"Once we're convinced that Lync can give us dial tone then we can begin to start to look at it as a replacement to the PBX," Newsone said. Newsone needs to be convinced that if his company removes its PBXes they won't be left with a tinny and unreliable connection.

Mark Roberts, vice president of partner marketing at Polycom, Microsoft's "best-of-breed" partner for Lync, told me he expects to see aggressive take-up of customers who will replace their PBXs with Lync. But he acknowledged it will be a gradual shift.

"We're not advocating that you rip out your entire PBX on day one and replace it with Lync on day two," Roberts said. "I don't expect it's going to be a seamless transition but what we are proposing is that you work aggressively with your channel partners to understand the specifics in migrating to a full UC solution using Lync as the core platform for it."

Rich Skoba, worldwide director for universal communications and collaboration at Hewlett-Packard, said Lync for the foreseeable future will likely co-exist with existing PBXes.

"I believe you're going to see a combination of PBXes in the accounts, because a lot of those are not end of life," Skoba said. "Customers are just not going to let those go. But I also believe you are going to see the Microsoft stack, in particularly Lync, integrated in and enhancing the PBX experience."

For his part, Pall told me in an interview that he sees the PBX on a "downward slide. At some point it won't be relevant." But even Pall said that the transition might not happen overnight. "Personally, I  believe that any customer today who's going to make a choice on buying the next PBX, if they think about it all they will probably think twice and ask, 'Is this the right thing that I'm doing?' In some situations some people may end up buying a PBX but I think the game has changed."

Do you think the game will change with Lync? Drop me a line at [email protected].

Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on November 19, 2010 at 11:59 AM0 comments

Cloud Credo to Microsoft Partners

Why should Microsoft's partners who sell software to customers feel inclined to sacrifice those revenues and margins in favor of the company's cloud services?

"If you don't do it, you will be irrelevant in the next four or five years," said Vahé Torossian, corporate vice president of Microsoft's Worldwide Small and Midmarket Solutions and Partners (SMS&P) Group. Jon Roskill, corporate vice president of the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Group, reports to Torossian, and Torossian reports to Chief Operating Officer Kevin Turner.

Torossian spoke to a group of about 60 partners yesterday at this month's local International Association of Microsoft Channel Partners (IAMCP) meeting held at Microsoft's New York office. "Believe me, I'm a very polite guy, I don't want to be blunt for the sake of being blunt, I am saying that because it starts with us."

Microsoft's competitors, the likes of Google and Saleforce.com, are making this push without the legacy of a software business to protect. Torossian told partners that he believes 30 percent of all of its customers will transition their IT operations to the cloud with or without Microsoft.

"I think it's important that you start to lead the transition and assuming that your customers have already been meeting with your competitor," he said. "We are giving you the opportunity to have the discussion with your customers [where you can say] if you're really interested in the cloud, you'll be able to get there. We want to position ourselves as a leader in the cloud."

It should come as no surprise to those who have been following Microsoft's "we're-all-in" the cloud proclamations these days. But the fact that he responded so bluntly underscores how unabashed Microsoft is in trying to get its message out to partners.

"I think he was just being blatantly honest, I don't think there was any softer way to say it, it's the truth," said Mark Mayer, VP of sales and marketing at Aspen Technology Solutions, a Hopatcong, N.J.-based solution provider. "His most important point, is his competition doesn't' have a legacy business. He's not competing apples to apples."

Howard Cohen, president of the New York IAMCP chapter, said he initially thought Torossian was joking, but quickly realized he was serious. "I think it was refreshing," Cohen said. "He wasn't saying 'you should do this because we want you to,' he was saying 'we're doing this because we have to. The market demands it and you should come along with us.' I think that's an accurate message. I too believe if you ignore cloud services you won't be doing much."

The challenge is for solution providers and partners to deal with the change in a way that allows them to transition and maintain a profitable business, said Neil Rosenberg, president and CEO of Quality Technology Solutions Inc., a Parsippany, N.J.-based partner.

A $50,000 Exchange deployment might translate to a $15,000 consulting engagement to deploy Exchange Online. "Making up the volume is challenging," Rosenberg said.

So what's he doing about it? He's starting to focus more on the application stack, getting involved in more SharePoint and business intelligence development and consulting, for example.

"On the flip side, I don't think infrastructure is going to go away, it's going to gradually reduce in terms of what customers are looking to have in house, and there's going to be a whole separate set of services around management and planning of the infrastructure," Rosenberg said. "Stuff still needs to be managed in the cloud, just in a different way."

Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on October 22, 2010 at 11:59 AM0 comments

Can Windows Phone 7 Succeed?

After attending Microsoft's launch of Windows Phone 7 Monday in New York, I walked away feeling that Microsoft has put its best foot forward in attempting to regain share in the hypercompetitive mobile phone market (see Microsoft Launches Windows Phone 7). The defining question: will Windows Phone 7, despite its positive attributes, get lost in the crowd that is clearly dominated these days by Google's Android, Apple's iPhone and Research in Motion's BlackBerry?

"I've never seen anything like it," said Forrester Research analyst Jeffrey Hammond, who was at Monday's launch event. We were talking about the rapid ascent of the Android mobile platform, which had virtually no share a year ago, and now has emerged as the fastest selling smartphone OS, according to data released by Nielsen last week.

With Verizon Wireless reportedly set to start selling the iPhone early next year and the BlackBerry platform holding its own, where does that leave even a respectable Windows Phone 7? Hammond pointed out it is not game-over for Microsoft.

"Right now we see 23 to 25 percent of phones out there in the U.S. that are smart phones, so there's still another 75 percent of the market to convert over," Hammond said. "If they aggressively price Windows phones so they are logical replacements for quick messaging devices and they offer lower cost data plans, they can grow in the market without having to take Android devices out of users' hands."

Plus every two years, a good number of users swap out their phones, suggesting the long term outlook for all platforms could shift. Key to whether or not Windows Phone 7 will be a viable platform moving forward is whether the .NET developer community mobilizes, so to speak.

IDC analyst Al Hilwa believes they will. "They have a ready base of developers that haven't been very much engaged so far with either Android or Apple that will bring that whole base of developers on board," Hilwa said.

Hammond agrees: "I think there is general interest from the core Microsoft developer network out there and there's a lot of them," he said. There are two things that have to happen, he added. "They've got to get units in market and they've got to make sure they make the on-boarding process as easy and as inexpensive as possible."

Despite a slick batch of devices that will come at launch, this is very much a consumer play. Microsoft still has to evolve Windows Phone 7 into an enterprise-grade platform, adding the ability to remotely manage the devices and embed improved security. Still this is a market where consumers decide first and if a platform succeeds, enterprises will then decide whether or not to support it. So from that perspective, Microsoft's strategy makes sense.

At the same time though, Microsoft will have to win over consumers that want to use their devices to help them in their jobs. From that standpoint, the SharePoint support and E-mail integration are good first starts.

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer summed up Windows Phone 7 as "a different kind of phone." It is from the perspective that it is focused more on what the user wants to do with their phones, Hammond pointed out. "They are focusing on what it allows you to do, as opposed to what it does," he said.

If you’re a Microsoft partner or enterprise developer, I'd like to hear your take on whether Windows Phone 7 still has an opportunity over the long haul. Drop me a line at [email protected].

Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on October 13, 2010 at 11:59 AM4 comments

IBM Takes on BPOS

IBM yesterday unleashed a new online e-mail, scheduling, instant messaging and contact management service largely targeted at users of its traditional Lotus Notes platform.

Big Blue's new LotusLive Notes is available for $5 per user per month. The company is going after Google and Microsoft, which both have similarly-priced cloud-based messaging and collaboration services.

The Web-based service is available to any business user and the company is promising 99.9 percent uptime and disk and network-layer encryption. "It will probably keep some IBM customers in the fold, but it won’t be a market disrupter in its current state," said Gartner analyst Guy Creese.

For $10 a month, IBM is offering the Lotus Live Collaboration Suite, which adds Web conferencing file sharing and social networking services to the mix.

Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on October 06, 2010 at 11:59 AM1 comments

Scripting Simplified for SharePoint Admins and Devs

After determining that PowerShell is popular among SharePoint admins and developers, Idera Inc. last week rolled out a tool aimed at users of Microsoft's popular scripting tool.

The company launched the new SharePoint productivity toolbox at the SharePoint Connections conference held in the Hague, Netherlands. The tool, which costs $295 per administrator, combines Idera's PowerShell Plus and SharePoint page profiler. The former is an IDE that automates repetitive administrative tasks and the latter is a set of popular SharePoint scripts.

"PowerShell Plus makes managing and executing PowerShell easy," said Rick Pleczko, Idera's president and CEO, in an interview. "For example, one of the things it does is allow remoting, so you can basically say 'I want this script to run on these 20 servers all at the same time.'"

Idera put together a library of PowerShell scripts for SharePoint administration and development and bundled it with its PowerShell Plus tool, he explained.

"It's a large library of scripts that allows you to do a lot of administration work, move site lists, do a lot of reporting, a whole bunch of activities," he said. "You've got a range of PowerShell cmdlets that you can use that are provided within the SharePoint implementation in PowerShell. We basically leveraged that and also extended it with these scripts that we've provided."

It is suited to both enterprise users and partners who administer customers' SharePoint sites, Pleczko said.

Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on October 05, 2010 at 11:59 AM0 comments