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Lorna Garey

Lorna Garey is editor in chief of Channel Partners. She has been in the tech publishing trenches since 1995, when she joined eWeek, and was most recently content director of InformationWeek digital media.

5 Channel Ops: HP Paving Win10 Way, Voxox Joins Convey, Quick Heal Malware Report

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Lorna GareyThe official release of Windows 10 dominated the tech landscape this week, even though it’s highly unlikely that businesses will move before fall.

“Most apps aren’t certified on it, and our management tools aren’t yet ready to update it," says TBI VP Ken Mercer. “Antivirus has to be right too, and many suites are not." That won’t, however, keep consumers away: “My wife loves it," says Mercer, though it took some getting used to. Should you recommend that friends and family make the move? I run down three decision points here. However, one warning: While Windows 10 contains many new security features that will help enterprises and consumers, security experts are raising a big red flag.

“The inclusion of Wi-Fi Sense, which automatically shares access to your private Wi-Fi Networks at home or work with your contacts, is a massive step backwards by Microsoft," says CounterTack CTO Mike Davis. “All users must disable this feature, which is enabled by default." For technical details, check out Brian Krebs’ explainer here.

HP: Ready For Win10

HP is among the first out of the gate with a suite of services designed to help with the move to Windows 10, as well as Office 365 and Skype for Business. The suite includes HP Test Drive Services for Windows 10, HP Transformation Services for Windows 10, HP Roadmap Service for Windows 10 and HP WebApp Accelerator Service for Internet Explorer 11. Partners may want to take Test Drive for a spin internally — it’s aimed at uncovering any potential incompatibilities in advance of a wholesale migration. During the test drive, a select set of users would move to new Win10 PCs or tablets hardware and try out migrating data and settings and ensuring that all core apps work as expected. HP Test Drive Services, HP Roadmap Service and HP WebApp Accelerator Service for IE11 are available now. HP Transformation Services for Windows 10 will be available Oct. 1, just in time for Q4 budget spend-down season.

Filings Provide Insight Into Last-Mile Battle Lines

Notices filed to the FCC this week by Verizon, CenturyLink and Comptel shed some light on the ongoing fight over CLEC access to fiber as copper is phased out for businesses and consumers. As Comptel points out, last week, representatives from Windstream, Granite Telecommunications, Sprint, Integra Telecom, Level 3, U.S. TelePacific Corp. and others expressed support for the FCC’s “bipartisan unanimous determination that the technology transition proceeding should ensure that the network values of competition, consumer protection, universal service and public safety should continue."

Not so fast, says Verizon, which argued that interim access rules must “be limited to DS1 and DS3 special access services and must sunset by a date certain." CenturyLink agrees and adds that “reasonably comparable wholesale services should apply only to DS1s and DS3s, and not to commercial platform services. Platform customers can obtain Ethernet local access service to commercial locations from numerous alternative providers, including cable providers. They can also offer VoIP as an alternative to TDM voice service to commercial customers." The next date to watch is August 6, when the FCC holds its open meeting and discusses not only its plan to preserve competition in fixed communications networks but also 911 continuity and mobile spectrum holdings and incentive auction procedures.

If you’re not following this process, you should be — while the end of last-mile Ethernet over copper might be a long way away, the specter of that possibility and ILEC dominance of IP networks could be enough to sway some deals now. The FCC has issued a fact sheet to bring interested parties up to speed.

Voxox Conveys A Message

Cloud-based and channel-focused communications provider Voxox announced this week that it’s joined Convey Services’ cloud-based Convey Engage platform, which provides marketing services via an online engagement portal to drive Web traffic, engage sales agents and enhance content distribution and training. The goal is eliminating friction from the vendor/master agent relationship and helping agents sell more effectively. TBI’s Ken Mercer says his company is a member, and that Convey is fast becoming a popular way to drive content engagement and help with SEO while maintaining the master agent’s branding. From the vendor POV, Voxox aims to achieve two core objectives, said the company in a statement: Streamline content sharing for existing channel partners through the Convey Engage platform, which delivers content such as training materials, promotions and events directly from solution providers to their agents and distributors; and expand the Voxox footprint by networking with new master agencies that are also partnered with Convey.

“Convey Engage has the potential to become the industry standard of communication with channel partners, replacing mass emails," said Bryan Hertz, CEO of Voxox, a sentiment Mercer agrees with. TBI marketing director Corey Cohen says the ability to view Voxox's promotions, training and other materials through the Convey portal is of tremendous value. No one can dispute that fewer mass emails is a good thing. My question: Is placing a third-party layer between a solutions provider and its channel a smart bet in the long term?

“One of the reasons that this program piqued our interest is because we are seeing a lot of master agencies transitioning over to Convey for content sharing, distribution and networking due to the ease with which they can communicate using the Convey platform and portal," Voxox's senior VP of Business Sales, Tad Nikolich, told Channel Partners. “As a solution provider, if you choose not to participate, then agents and subagents that go to the site simply won’t know that you exist, so it’s your loss."

Nikolich admits that this is a business-process change, but the roster of master agents presently in the Convey Alliance Engage or Vendor Match programs is impressive. In addition to TBI, the list includes ABS Telecom, Advantage Communications Group, Aligned Communications, Avant Communications, BCM One, Clarus Communications, Cloud Taskforce, Comtel Communications, Converged Network Services Group, Connectivity Source, ECT Telecom, Exemplify Group, Global Systems Telecom, IQ Wired, Microcorp, P2 Telecom, PlanetOne Communications, PSI Network, SelectTel Corporation, TCG, TDM, TeleCHOICE, Telegration x4 Solutions and others.

“More will be added during the year," says Nikolich. “In essence, we are following our master-agent partners’ lead by centralizing some of our efforts through the Convey platform that they are using now for communication and networking."

Quick Heal: Android Malware Up

The Android Stagefright exploit, details of which are set to be released at next week’s Black Hat conference, should be on your radar. (Here, Bluebox’s Andrew Blaich runs down technical details.) Coincidentally, this week channel-exclusive global IT security provider Quick Heal released its Q2 2015 Threat Report, which details Windows and Android IT security threats over the previous quarter as well as upcoming security trends. Key findings include:

  • The Quick Heal Threat Research Labs received 500,000 Android malware samples per month for the second quarter of 2015. This represents a growth of 16 percent over Q1. Of these samples, 170 new Android malware families and 232 new variants of existing malware families were detected.
  • Analysis of several pre-installed apps on new devices has led the Quick Heal Threat Research Labs to conclude that many devices are equipped with spyware right from the factory. That’s something partner should alert customers to.
  • Also spotted in Q2 2015: New point-of-sale (PoS) malware families that steal credit/debit card details from merchants’ PoS terminals. As if PCI compliance weren’t painful enough.
  • Close to 74 percent of Windows malware samples detected run on 32-bit machines. In most cases, these in-the-wild variants are not supported on 64-bit systems.

Among top trends? Quick Heal says old ransomware families (think CryptoLocker) are poised to make a comeback with new features; the ability to attack cloud storage services is a particularly disturbing advancement in detected ransomware variants.

“The Quick Heal Threat Report for Q2 2015 highlights the rising challenges of malware across popular computing platforms and underscores the critical need for awareness and effective security measures by SMEs, now more than ever," said Sanjay Katkar, Quick Heal CTO and co-founder. For partners, the message needs to be that no device is safe, and the bad guys are constantly evolving. Partners can download a complimentary copy of the Q2 Threat Report and can check out the Quick Heal/SEQRITE partner program.

Talk About Cloud Control

The big are getting bigger. After analyzing the major operators’ earnings data for Q2, Synergy Research Group reports that Amazon Web Services, Microsoft, IBM and Google together own well over half of the worldwide cloud infrastructure service market. Their combined share rose to 54 percent in the latest quarter compared with 46 percent in Q2 2014 and 41 percent in Q2 2013, while their year-on-year revenue growth rate averaged 84 percent in Q2. The rest of the market grew earnings by only 33 percent. AWS is by far the top dog, with 29 percent market share. As for hard dollars, quarterly cloud infrastructure service revenues (including IaaS, PaaS and private and hybrid cloud) are now approaching $6 billion, said Synergy in a statement, the bulk of that in North America.

 

Can smaller players compete, or is it better to simply build services on top of these clouds? That’s a theme we’ll explore in depth at next month’s Cloud Partners show, including a concurrent education session called “Dancing With Elephants: Partnering With Google and Amazon." Mike Healey, president of Yeoman Technology Group, will discuss best practices for incorporating services from these titans into an overall cloud and service portfolio in a way that benefits both customers and your bottom line. Underscoring that message, John Dinsdale, a chief analyst and research director at Synergy, has a warning for those contemplating a new cloud data center build.

“Developing the necessary global hyperscale data center infrastructure along with the required marketing and operations support is simply beyond the reach of all but a very small number of players," said Dinsdale in a statement. “This is not going to change. The good news for the plethora of small-to-medium-sized cloud providers is that there does remain a wealth of opportunity for those that are focused on specific market niches or local geographic areas."

Follow editor in chief @LornaGarey on Twitter.

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