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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: Dell World Update Bonanza, MetTel Shares 2016 Mobility Trends

- Blog

Lorna GareyAt this week’s AT&T Partner Exchange Summit I had a chance to chat with Max Silber, MetTel’s director of wireless services. For the second time, MetTel won the cowbell trophy as AT&T Mobile Services partner of the year; it also achieved platinum status, so Silber seemed a good bet for insight into what 2016 holds.

First, it’s the end of the road for large-scale BYOD. “We’re starting to see a large percentage of port-ins, where devices are coming from a personal account back into a corporate account," he says. “So we are seeing the trend reverse. BYOD was a good idea on paper, but I think most CFOs and CIOs are realizing, two years in, that it didn't achieve everything they set out to do — predominantly cost savings. It essentially moved the problem from the technology organization to the financial organization."

That said, he doesn’t expect a 180-turn to corporate-liable. Instead, CYOD – where employees choose their own devices from a portal, based on role – will be the model for enterprise mobility programs in 2016 and beyond. Silber also sees a renewed push for security driven by compliance mandates, including PCI and HIPAA. “For a customer, it's not just about the cheapest cost," he said, using the example of a large retail client where MetTel worked with AT&T to supplement a private APN with 4G LTE backup and still maintain PCI DSS compliance. “Traditionally it would have been an eight-week cycle to get that service added on," he said. “But by working with the Partner Exchange team, we were able to get that down to two weeks, which allowed us to win the business."

Silber also sees Microsoft making a splash with its Lumia mobile devices thanks to integration with enterprise networks, other devices and its included MDM component. Finally, he expects partners will see more mobile-enhanced business processes that depend on pervasive connectivity.

“Devices are becoming communication endpoints for a variety of applications, and that's changing the workflow from physical paper to the digital world," he said, citing home health-care providers who can now send data back to an EHR system, which can then automatically submit claims or request a prescription. “It's happening right now, and it's typically our customers that are driving it," he says. “IoT is a worthwhile investment with a pretty immediate ROI."

Snow Ends Mobile Device Software Licensing Drift

If Silber is right about CYOD – and I think he is – that means customers need a way to keep track of a mish-mash of software licenses. Snow Software this week announced that its on-premises and hosted software asset management systems now include native software license-optimization support for mobile devices. The offering is based on Snow’s February acquisition of EMM provider The Institution.

Snow License Manager FR3 extends software-asset management to tablets and phones running iOS, Android and Windows. In a statement, the company, which has a mature partner program, said that while 97 percent of organizations now provide mobile devices to staff, just 17 percent of them include mobile devices and apps in their software asset-management policies. Snow License Manager enables partners or customer IT teams to keep tabs on mobile-app costs, track licenses associated with mobile devices and ensure devices comply with internal hardware and software policies.

Google Takes Aim, Again, At Office 365

In a blog this week, Rich Rao, head of global sales for Google Apps for Work, tendered a tempting offer: It will cover the cost of Google Apps for North American customers with enterprise agreements with another provider (cough, Microsoft, cough) until their contracts run out.

“We'll even chip in on some of the deployment costs and set you up for success with one of our Google for Work Partners," writes Rao. Google says more than 5 million businesses use Google Apps; that list includes Motorola and Whirlpool. And, it says costs can be 70 percent lower, depending on the EA in place. It backs that claim up with some snazzy graphs. The program is available only through Google partners.

Should you advise customers to take the deal? Google has little to lose and a lot to gain with this offer. For roles that need basic productivity tools and in sites where collaboration systems have made employees less dependent on Outlook, or that have a lot of Millennial workers, Google Apps is worth a pilot test. However, while the platform has come a long way, it still falls short for Outlook, Word and Excel power users, from whose cold, dead fingers you will need to pry their Office desktop licenses. I use both products; Word’s handling of graphical elements is superior, and it’s best for long documents. There’s a reason Excel is the industry standard. And let’s not even discuss printing. Still, Google Apps is a much less expensive suite, and it offer superior collaboration — try having two people on opposite sides of the globe working on the same Word document at the time.

Also note that there is some fine print for Google for Work Partners. Notably, the deployment cost deal is good only for between 250 and 3,000 licenses, and the payout is in the form of a voucher issued by Google of up to $25 per license.

Dell World Update

News from Austin includes several ventures with Microsoft as well as new security, data center and channel announcements. A rundown:

In a blog, Cheryl Cook, Dell’s VP of global channels and alliances, looked back on 2015 and dropped a few hints about a post-EMC-acquisition future. Some highlights: Up to double incentives for global Premier and Preferred partners selling Dell storage, networking, server, client and software products to new customers; new rebates for bundling Dell ProSupport with qualifying hardware; big discounts on integrated appliances; and new cloud “pay as you grow" deals. There are also a slew of new PartnerDirect competencies and training options.

Dell greatly expanded its security portfolio with a new SonicWall APT Protection Service, available on both firewalls and email security solutions, that scans for and sandboxes potentially malicious files. It also added integrated management of X-Series switches through the SonicWall firewall interface, allowing security policies to be managed and enforced from a single pane of glass; an on-demand, emergency cyberincident response capability on Amazon Web Services; Dell AEGIS, a tool that helps assess software vulnerabilities; and much more.

Dell and Microsoft announced Azure-based hybrid cloud appliances, in CPS Standard and CPS Premium builds, that the company says can be up and running in as little as three hours. Operations, patching and updates are automated. The hardware is shipping now with Windows Azure Pack, System Center 2012 R2 and Windows Server 2012 R2 – upgradable to Microsoft Azure Stack when it becomes available. Dell also joined the Microsoft Cloud Solution Provider program.

If that’s not enough, the event also yielded announcements around new data center servers, enterprise storage arrays and hyperconverged appliances as well as big data and analytics solutions and services, IoT asset protection, and a major refresh of its OptiPlex portfolio, including a Wyse 5050 AIO zero client for VMware and new cloud multifunction printers. Phew.

You Say You Want a Monitoring Revolution?

Have you heard of Zenoss? The company’s business is unified IT monitoring and analytics for hybrid data centers. It’s got a robust partner program and lots of reasons for you to pay attention: Sales are up 111 percent so far this year, the company announced this week, with record revenue from new customers, expansion and renewals; it was named by Forbes as one of the best cloud-computing companies (and CEO) to work for in 2015, leading to 40 percent staffing growth; and it added Rackspace president and CEO Taylor Rhodes to its board.

The company’s Zenoss Service Dynamics 5 uses lots of new technologies under the hood (Docker, Apache Hbase, Hadoop) to deliver a unified, service-centric view of the application infrastructure. Think of it as really new-age NSM that can provide visibility into Windows, VMware vSphere and NSX, Cisco APIC, OpenStack and more. The software, which can be on premises or in an as-a-service model, is used by more than 35,000 organizations globally, including VMware, Deutsche Bank, Broadcom, Rackspace and Telstra as well as the U.S. Army, Air Force and Marines.

MetTel Inks Deals With Adtran, VeloCloud

Circling back, MetTel this week also announced a strategic partnership to add VeloCloud SD-WAN capabilities to its managed SD-WAN and bonded Internet offerings as well as adding Adtran’s Bluesocket virtual WLAN solution to its managed-services portfolio.

If you’re unsure whether an SD-WAN is right for your customers, check out our report on just that topic. The main selling points of this technology are speed of setup and changes, simplifying and automating management and (sometimes dramatically) lower WAN costs. Drawbacks are the bleeding-edginess of the tech and worries about security.

The MetTel/VeloCloud offering addresses both issues. First, MetTel is layering its private MPLS network over the VeloCLoud SD-WAN for added security. And, Marshall Aronow, MetTel’s CEO, said in a statement that the simplicity of VeloCloud’s SD-WAN “plug-and-play solution is matched with a greater level of cloud control for the customer." 

VeloCloud won several 2015 startup of the year awards and has its own extensive partner program.

Meanwhile, the Adtran vWLAN is a way to grab a piece of the cloud-managed Wi-Fi services market, which IDC predicts will reach $2.5 billion by 2018. MetTel will package the offering with other data, mobility and telecom applications and, again, cited the flexibility, scalability and “plug and play nature" of the Adtran access points.

Follow editor in chief @LornaGarey on Twitter.

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