HP Taps SAP's Ex-CEO, Revamps Partner Program

The mystery is over as to who will be Hewlett-Packard's next CEO. The company late today announced it has appointed Leo Apotheker as president and CEO and named former Oracle president Ray Lane as non-executive chairman.

Apotheker, a 20-year veteran of SAP, spent his last year there as SAP's CEO. I was among those betting that HP would turn to an insider such as Todd Bradley, who runs the company's client systems business, or Ann Livermore, who runs its large services organization.

The appointments both take effect Nov. 1 to tie in with the beginning of HP's new fiscal year. HP's lack of a CEO hasn't held the company back from making big acquisitions -- it also hasn't kept it from making big changes to its partner program.

HP is making  some major changes to its PartnerOne program. Perhaps most noteworthy is an improved deal registration program with upfront margin in place of back-end rebates. Also, some key components of HP's businesses that were not previously in PartnerOne are now part of the program, notably HP's software business.

Many of HP's acquired companies come into PartnerOne -- 3Com and Palm, to name a few. HP has acquired dozens of companies in recent years and it doesn't show signs of letting up, recently shelling out billions for 3Par and ArcSight.

Yet despite the changes, uncertainty will reign until it becomes more clear how Apotheker will approach the channel. Will he be as well-liked by the channel as apparently Mark Hurd was?

"There is much more interest than there is concern," said Mike Galane, senior director of HP's Enterprise Server, Storage and Networking (ESSN) Channel Marketing and Strategy  for the Americas (speaking before the news broke). That certainly appears to be the case with Romi Randhawa, CEO of HPM Networks, an HP partner based in Freemont, Calif.

"We are really not concerned with the new CEO being less channel friendly," Randhawa said in an e-mail. "HP runs so much business through channel and the channel is becoming more and more important to them. They cannot afford to not be friendly with channel. They have 6 percent share in the U.S. of the SMB market. They know that the only way to grow that piece of business is through the channel."

What's your take on HP's new CEO and its changes to PartnerOne? Drop me a line at [email protected]

Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on September 30, 2010 at 11:59 AM1 comments

Microsoft Reveals Lync Pricing

Microsoft this week revealed pricing and licensing for its new Lync Server, the product previously known as Office Communications Server.

The company announced the name change and imminent release two weeks ago. Lync is Microsoft's effort to replace or augment PBX or office telephone systems with a software-based telecommunications platform that integrates with Office and Exchange Server.

Microsoft first started talking about Lync, code-named Communications Server 14, in March at the annual VoiceCon show.

Lync Server will offer instant messaging and presence, audio video and Web conferencing and telephony functions. It is an upgrade to Microsoft's Office Communications Server 2007 R2 that Microsoft believes can enhance or replace existing office telecom systems. The new platform is due to be released before the end of the year, Microsoft said.

Microsoft posted pricing and licensing documentation this week, which points to two server (Standard and Enterprise) editions and four client access license (CAL) offerings.

The Lync client software is necessary to communicate with the server and is available for $31 for the standard CAL and $107 for the Enterprise or Microsoft Office Professional Plus editions. Lync Server Standard Edition will list for $699 and the Enterprise Edition for $3,999.

A Microsoft spokeswoman explained the company is emphasizing the Lync Server 2010 Enterprise CAL and the new Lync Server 2010 Plus CAL, in effect separating audio, video, and Web conferencing and adding new PBX  functionality to the Plus CAL. As a result, Microsoft has cut the price of the Enterprise Edition CAL by 23 percent, she said. All other prices remain unchanged.

Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on September 29, 2010 at 11:59 AM0 comments

VMware Adds Partner Tools

Under siege by Microsoft and Citrix Systems, virtualization leader VMware Inc. is stepping up its efforts to engage its channel partners to go after greenfield opportunities and gain stronger competencies in specific areas, such as SQL Server and Exchange Server.

The company last week launched its Solution Enablement Toolkits, or SETs. As the name implies, the tools are designed for the VMware Partner Network to offer packaged repeatable suites and selling best practices. It is targeted at the VMware Certified Advanced Professional Level, who have what the company calls VMware Solution Competencies, says Doug Smith, senior director of VMware's global partner strategy and programs. Smith says there are 3,500 such partners today.

"This is where we take our IP and basically packaged it up in a way that partners can build their own solutions offerings to customers," Smith says. "We've done between 80 to 90 percent of the work; the partner basically does that last 10 to 20 percent so they end up with individualized solutions."

The company earlier this year launched the first such SET, called vSphere Upgrade, designed to help partners migrate customers on older iterations to the new 4.1 version released last month. VMware is now offering seven SETs, targeted at the following:

  • vSphere Jumpstart, aimed at greenfield opportunities to shops that are not yet virtualizing their infrastructure
  • Microsoft Exchange on VMware vSphere
  • SAP on VMware
  • SQL Solutions on VMware vSphere
  • Desktop Virtualization Assessment
  • VMware View Pilot
  • VMware vCenter Site Recovery Manager Jumpstart

Smith says he is encouraged by the initial uptake: there have been 7,000 downloads in the first week. "Obviously there are multiple individuals that a partner may be downloading the toolkit, but we're really pleased with the results," he says.

Initiatives like this could be critical to VMware's efforts to fend off challenges from Microsoft and Citrix, which are both seeing growth of their respective Hyper-V and XenServer hypervisors.

"The upstarts might not have all the capabilities of VMware, but they are reliable and decidedly cheaper," writes Jonathan Laing, in Barron's, who questioned the company's ability to sustain its growth and justify its lofty valuation. According to Laing, VMware's stock price topped $89 recently, approaching levels not seen since late 2007, and toted a P/E ratio of 147, "making it vulnerable to even the slightest mishap."

Still, VMware chief marketing officer Rick Jackson tells Barron's in that same article that despite already having 190,000 enterprise customers worldwide and 97 percent of the Fortune 1,000, the "server market is immature and is hitting a 'tipping point' that eventually will lead to a more than doubling of server virtualizations."

If his forecast is even remotely on target, VMware partners could benefit from the new SETs the company is releasing. The question is, will VMware keep pace with the growth of Microsoft and Citrix?

If you've downloaded any of the SETs from VMware drop me line at [email protected] and give me your take.

Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on September 29, 2010 at 11:59 AM0 comments

Who Will Gain from SAP's Pain?

SAP has fallen way short of its goal to get 10,000 customers onto its Business By Design Web-based business software after three years. According to The Wall Street Journal, only about 100 customers have signed on for the product.

"It was not as successful as expected," Rainer Zinow, SAP's senior vice president for Business By Design tells the Journal (see report). "You can do everything you want under lab conditions, but when you are in the real world, sometimes things look a bit different."

Certainly the success of Salesforce.com has not helped SAP, which recently launched an updated version, which for $179 per user per month runs the gamut of HR, financial and project management apps. Nor has the economy. Just as the SAP software-as-a-service offering was released, IT spending followed the economy into a free fall.

But Salesforce.com is still the company to beat. And now Microsoft is wading deeper into the game. As reported in the current issue of Redmond Channel Partner, Microsoft is readying a new version of Dynamics CRM Online for shipment in the coming quarter. Look for Microsoft to bring more of its Dynamics product suite online as well.

Indeed there are many players that will be fighting this battle including Oracle, NetSuite, Intuit and a host of others. And SAP has some pretty big customers, including Microsoft.

Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on September 29, 2010 at 11:59 AM0 comments

HP Windows Slate Leaked

The Web site Gizmodo last week posted a brief video review showing what appears to be a prototype of HP's forthcoming Windows-based slate PC.

While HP has said it will deliver a slate-based on Windows 7 in the coming months, a company spokesman declined to comment on the Gizmodo video, which highlighted a form factor that was similar in size to Apple's iPad. The reviewer, Kat Hannaford, who described the performance of the HP slate as fast, said the HP slate is a bit lighter than the iPad.

The HP Windows-based slate has a rear 3-megapixel camera, and a Webcam in front, and on the sides it features a microphone, speaker/headphone jack, a USB port, SD card slot and a button to launch an on-screen keyboard. The review did not reveal battery life, which many have predicted in the past will not come close to the iPad's 10-hour capacity.

The comments on Gizmodo's site accompanying the review suggested a preference for other platforms, which is not surprising considering the audience is gadget enthusiasts and consumers. HP has indicated its Windows 7-based slate will be targeted at business and enterprise customers.

"When are people going to stop trying to transfer over existing UIs?," said one poster, identified as SKiTz. "Create a touch interface that is optimized for the device please."  In defense of a Windows 7-based tablet, Dave wrote: "Running Windows on a tablet is important for a lot of people because they want to run specific applications that are not on the iPhone or Android." 

To be sure, the review never suggested HP's Windows-based slate will be an iPad killer. Apple has sold 3 million iPads since its release in April.

HP is also developing a slate based on webOS, the platform it inherited when it acquired Palm Inc. earlier this year. The company has said it will likely debut in the first quarter of next year.

Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on September 27, 2010 at 11:59 AM2 comments

Web Developers Like Android's Long-Term Outlook

Web developers are predicting that Google's Android mobile platform has a better long-term outlook over Apple's iOS, according to a survey released today by Appcelerator and market researcher IDC.

More than 58 percent of respondents to the survey said Android has a better long-term outlook than iOS, Apple's platform for the iPod, iPhone and iPad. By comparison, nearly 35 percent of developers believe iOS has a better long-term outlook.

Appcelerator, which offers a platform for Web developers, and IDC surveyed 2,363 developers that use its Titanium platform earlier this month. Since Appcelerator's last report in June, the gap has widened by over 10 points between Android and iOS, the survey found.

Moreover, some 72 percent of developers found Android to be the best option for connecting to a wide variety of devices, compared with 25 percent for iOS. Appcelerator's VP of marketing Scott Schwarzhoff said in an interview the findings are noteworthy because Web developers typically aren't partial to a particular platform. "They have this agnostic view," Schwartzhoff said.

Currently, Apple still has the advantage with 91 percent saying they are "very interested" in developing for the iPhone compared with 82 percent for Android phones. By comparison, 34 percent showed interested in the BlackBerry phone platform and 16 percent for the Palm webOS Pre.

As for Windows Phone 7, 28 percent are interested in developing for that platform, but Schwartzhoff said its long-term prognosis is too early to forecast since phones based on Microsoft's new platform are not yet available.

"Microsoft has zero legacy with Windows Phone 7, so no one has any idea about all its capabilities, market acceptance or anything," he said. "That's one that's way too early to call."

Some other findings in the report:

  • Apple's iPad still has an edge over Android-based tablets with 84 percent showing interest in the former and 62 percent in the latter.
  • Fragmentation is a concern with 74 percent saying iOS is "least fragmented" compared with 11 percent for Android.
  • Only 16 percent each have current interest in tablets-based on webOS and BlackBerry's anticipated new entrée.

The report is available for download here.

Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on September 27, 2010 at 11:59 AM0 comments

CA Unit Adds Channel Chief

What do data backup and modeling have in common? If you're CA Technologies it means they have the same umbrella channel program, even if there is little overlap between the customers and partners.

The company's Recovery Management and Data Modeling (RMDM) organization now has a new general manager: Mike Crest, a 12-year veteran of the company, who was previously GM of CA's Northern U.S. territory. Crest's predecessor, Adam Famularo, was promoted to the position of GM for CA's cloud business several months ago. Famularo is driving CA's entire cloud strategy.

CA's data modeling product ERwin, is a popular tool among developers. CA has 50 partners. ARCserve is CA's line of backup and recovery software. CA says it has 10,000 ARCserve partners.

For RMDM, Crest's first move was to appoint a channel chief, David Roberts, in a newly created position. Roberts comes to CA from Websense, where he was SVP Americas channel sales. Prior to that he was a channel manager at McAfee.

"CA Technologies understands that you are adopting new models and new technologies to grow your revenue and win the business of end customers who are themselves facing evolving business challenges," Crest said in a letter to partners Tuesday.  "Our team is 100 percent committed to helping you do that."

In an interview, Crest explained why two unrelated products fall under one go-to-market strategy. "The commonality is really the delivery model in that both solution areas are very dependent on a partner ecosystem," he said. "The future will be the same in that our design for this particular business unit is to have a channel centric model and that's where a great deal of commonality comes into play. While those partners may not be the same, they are both very partner dependent."

Also, he said both have business models that are very much shifting from a traditional software sell to a managed services and potentially cloud delivery model. "The cloud is forcing a lot of convergence into areas in which partners traditionally haven't participated, many have been traditional sell-through value added resellers that add value or services to a given transaction," he said.

Crest said he envisions using cloud services from partners Amazon Web Services and Microsoft to deliver both software offerings in the future.

No major changes to existing partner programs are planned but Roberts said he hopes to flesh them out with new options within 30 days, particularly as it relates to those looking to evolve to managed services.

"We will look at margin enhancement programs and other things that help their businesses and then as we expand our channel reach we will look into geographic areas where we need help," Roberts said. "We will look at vertical markets where we need help, we will look at delivery options with MSPs. Those are the kinds of things that we're looking at."

Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on September 23, 2010 at 11:59 AM0 comments

Will HP Insider Become Next CEO?

It's looking like Hewlett-Packard's board is leaning toward an insider to replace Mark Hurd as CEO.

Among the leading candidates are Todd Bradley and Ann Livermore, The Wall Street Journal reported. Bradley heads up HP's PC business and Livermore is responsible for the company's huge server and services business. Also a contender is Dave Donatelli, who heads HP's storage business, though he is seen as a dark horse. Donatelli, who came to HP from EMC, helped lead HP's bidding war for 3PAR.

The report said HP hasn't ruled out candidates from outside the company. Among those under consideration was Stephen Elop, who was president of Microsoft's business division, where he oversaw the company's Office product group, Dynamics and Office Communications Server businesses. Elop was named CEO of Nokia  two weeks ago.

Meanwhile, HP's former CEO Hurd was front-and-center this week. Hurd has freed himself of HP as the two have settled the lawsuit HP filed against him for joining competitor Oracle.

While the terms of the settlement are confidential, Hurd has agreed to "adhere to his obligations to protect HP's confidential information while fulfilling his responsibilities at Oracle," HP said in a statement. "The agreement also reaffirms HP and Oracle's commitment to delivering the best products and solutions to their more than 140,000 shared customers."

Hurd this week made his first public appearance as Oracle's co-president, when he gave a keynote address at the company's annual OpenWorld conference in San Francisco. His presence and Oracle's focus on new hardware from its Sun Microsystems division is fueling speculation that the company is looking to put itself on a level paying field with IBM and HP, The New York Times reported today.

In a rare move, IBM CEO Sam Palmisano threw himself into the fray, pointing to HP's cuts in R&D spending. In an interview with the Journal, he said: "HP used to be a very inventive company."

According to the report, Hurd slashed HP's R&D budget to $2.8 billion, representing 2.5 percent of the company's revenue, in its last fiscal year from $3.5 billion, or 4 percent of revenue, in 2005 when he took over as CEO. IBM spends 6 percent of revenue on R&D, including $5.8 billion last year.

To be determined: Will HP's next CEO, whoever it may be, revive R&D spending and/or will it spend mightily to shore up its bench via acquisitions? Can HP and Oracle remain true partners given their competitive differences? And despite its detour from Microsoft on the slate PC side with its plan to deliver a Palm webOS based device, will HP turn closer to Redmond to fend off Oracle and IBM?

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

Microsoft Extends HPC's Limits

Microsoft is looking to up the ante with its Windows Server HPC platform. The company released its third iteration yesterday and signaled it would like to see broader use of its high-performance computing platform.

"Think of this as one of the key shifts in our fleet for what we look at as this future of technical computing," said Bill Hilf, Microsoft's general manager for technical computing. Hilf made his remarks in his keynote address at the High Performance Computing Financial Markets conference in New York.

"It's a pretty wide initiative where we want to take the technical computing technologies and really make those available and accessible to a broader number of IT end users and developers," explained Bill Hamilton, Microsoft's director of technical computing.

In an interview right after his keynote address, Hilf said he believes HPC applications will drive usage of Windows Azure, thanks to Windows HPC Server's newfound support for Microsoft's cloud service.

"I believe the technical computing workload will be the killer Azure app because the nature of these workloads consume a ton of computer," he said. "We believe having an infrastructure with hundreds of thousands of servers is going to be very compelling."

Some notable facts about Windows HPC Server 2008 R2:

  • It will support 1,000 nodes, up from 256.
  • Excel users will be able to perform computations much faster.
  • Organizations can tap idle Windows 7 desktops in their clusters.

If you're among those that are testing it out, or intend to do so, share your thoughts with me at [email protected]


Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on September 21, 2010 at 11:59 AM0 comments

Microsoft Skipping Verizon for Round 1 of Windows Phone 7

Reports that Windows Phone 7 initially won't be available at launch on the Verizon Wireless network are hardly a surprise, given that all test units were assigned to AT&T. But now comes word that it might be awhile before Verizon Wireless users will be able to get their hands on Windows 7 Phones.

That's because, according to News.com's Ina Fried, Microsoft will need to create an upgrade to Windows Phone 7 to support CDMA networks. Both Verizon Wireless and Sprint's networks are CDMA-based while AT&T's and T-Mobile's networks are GSM-based.

How extensive that upgrade will be and when it will arrive is unclear, reports All About Microsoft's Mary Jo Foley but it appears Microsoft is targeting the first half of 2011.

If anything, Microsoft should have aimed to release WP7 on CDMA networks first, and then worry about GSM support.  By not offering support for CDMA from the outset, it only gives Google's Android further opportunity to become entrenched on Verizon's network.

That might not be so terrible if Verizon didn't have the largest percentage of subscribers in the U.S. with a share of over 31 percent, according to comScore. Perhaps Verizon wanted no part of Microsoft after the Kin debacle? Or maybe Microsoft feels it's getting even with Verizon for heavily pushing Android phones.

Whatever the case, Microsoft should have endeavored with more priority to deliver Windows Phone 7 on Verizon's network at launch. If Microsoft wants to have any chance of slowing the momentum of Android, its phones need to be on Verizon's network and prominent among the carrier's dealers.  It wouldn't hurt to have them available with Sprint as well.

What's your take? Drop me a line at [email protected]

Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on September 17, 2010 at 11:59 AM1 comments

Microsoft Downplays Windows 1.0

Windows 1.0 got off to its auspicious start on Thursday Nov. 10, 1983, at the Plaza Hotel in New York City. Invitations to the launch were sent to the press in a box with a squeegee. The header read: "For a clear view of what's new in microcomputer software please join Microsoft and 18 microcomputer manufactures for a press conference…"

But, like many versions of Windows that would follow it, the first release didn't ship until two years after that fateful press conference, leading many to refer to it as "vapor-ware." Finally, Microsoft released Windows 1.0 in November of 1985 at Comdex.

When it comes to Windows 1.0, Microsoft prefers not to look that far back and has no apparent plans to celebrate its pending 25th anniversary. When we reached out to Microsoft to talk about its first rendition of Windows, the company declined to make anyone who was there at the time available. "We are focusing our anniversary efforts on the Windows 7 first birthday so unfortunately we won't be able to provide a briefing from someone [from] the Windows 1.0 days," a spokeswoman for Microsoft said in declining our request.

Of course, that anniversary is coming next month on Oct. 22. But we want to hear your recollections of Windows 1.0. Drop me a line at [email protected]

Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on September 10, 2010 at 11:59 AM3 comments

Who Will Replace Elop?

The news that Stephen Elop is leaving Microsoft is hardly a surprise -- Elop was believed to have been coveting a CEO job for a long time and now he has one.

Elop will take the reins of Nokia Sept. 21, leaving yet another void in the executive ranks at Microsoft. In addition to looking to fill the hole left by the departure of Robbie Bach, who headed Redmond's Entertainment and Devices business, now CEO Steve Ballmer will oversee the Microsoft Business Division until he names a successor.

In an e-mail to employees announcing Elop's departure, Ballmer pointed to MBD's bench, including Chris Capossela, Kurt DelBene, Amy Hood and Kirill Tatarinov, who will report to him until a successor is named.

It's been a few months though since Bach was ousted. Will Ballmer take as long to replace Elop? Or might he use the change to re-organize the different business groups at Microsoft?

What's your prediction? Drop me a line at [email protected]

Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on September 10, 2010 at 11:59 AM0 comments