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5 Channel Ops: Microsoft Goes Country, Comcast and Time Warner Go Big

Lorna Gareyreport out Friday shows that U.S. cable broadband operators are on a roll, adding 840,000 subscribers in Q3, with Comcast and Time Warner Cable in the lead, gaining a combined 552,000 new subscribers. Time Warner was also named to the 2016 Corporate Equality Index list for the eighth consecutive year, receiving a perfect score of 100 percent. The CEI is a national benchmarking survey and report on corporate policies and practices related to LGBT workplace equality. In another positive note, broadband average revenue per user was up between 2 and 7 percent. This tracks with our 2015 Cablecos & The Channel: State of the Market report, which shows that cable companies have gotten more serious about their indirect sales strategies and are seeing results.

Chrome Lives

Google had a hopping booth at this week’s Ingram Micro One summit (other highlights: Kid Billy and Elvis). I spoke at length with company reps who said rumors of Chrome OS being subsumed into Android are off base; in fact, I was told that Chrome is getting additional features and investment in support of Google’s push to move Chromebooks beyond the education vertical and into offices. The Android connection is about enabling Play Store apps to run in Chrome.

This week Google also announced an $85 candy-bar size Asus Chromebit device that turns any display with an HDMI port into a Chrome computer, useful for taking presentations on the road when A/V support is uncertain. The device is also targeted at smart digital signage, and customer and employee kiosks. The Chromebit pairs with Bluetooth 4.0 keyboard and mouse combos and includes 2GB of memory, 16GB of eMMC storage, dual-band 802.11ac Wi-Fi and both USB and HDMI ports.

Microsoft Scoots Boots

Country line dancing with Microsoft at Ingram Micro ONEMicrosoft also had a strong presence at Ingram One and hosted the well-attended final night party at the Wildhorse Saloon in downtown Nashville, which featured line-dancing lessons. The company announced this week a deal with Hewlett Packard Enterprise to partner on Windows 10-focused cloud productivity and mobility consulting services and vertical applications. Specifically:

  • A range of consulting services pairing HPE’s services with Microsoft platforms including Enterprise Mobility Suite, Dynamics CRM, Office 365, Skype for Business and Windows 10 for the Enterprise. There are also new cloud and mobility consulting services.
  • Industry-specific vertical applications. HPE and Microsoft currently have joint health care, automotive and financial applications; that portfolio will expand to include retail, energy and transportation industry applications.

3 Minutes? Really?

Speaking of Windows 10, a new study of 868 IT and business professionals by Dimensional Research for user environment management solutions provider AppSense shows that end users and IT pros don’t see eye to eye on what constitutes a good experience.

As expected, security is the biggest source of friction. Most, 63 percent, of end users say unobtrusive security is important to a great desktop experience, compared to just 46 percent of IT professionals. Desktop performance is another area of disagreement. While 63 percent of both end users and IT pros rank fast log-on and log-off times as the third most important factor, the same percentage of end users say an acceptable standard is a log-on time of 30 seconds or less. Meanwhile 42 percent of IT professionals see no problem with a logon time of 3 minutes. No wonder BYOD is wildly popular.

Bluebox: Mobile Malware Is Coming

If you think long log-on times make for disgruntled end users, try deploying an insecure mobile app for your or a customer’s business. To prevent that, mobile app security company Bluebox announced December availability for its Bluebox for Consumer Apps. The software allows developers to quickly and transparently harden any mobile app so it can detect and deflect threats.

I recently met with Pam Kostka, Bluebox’s CEO, who said that the company is attracting a lot of partner interest. Kostka attributes that to the fact that mobile malware is on the rise just as companies of all sizes realize they need apps to compete.

Bluebox also does some interesting research; last year it bought a dozen Black Friday bargain tablets and found malware on most of them. A couple even came complete with back doors. A new study of 422 consumers and 292 developers by the company  shows that 80 percent of consumer respondents would stop being customers if there were a security breach in a company’s mobile app, and that 69 percent of consumers are somewhat to very confident that the apps they use are safe.

Not so much. In fact, 74 percent of developers believe most mobile apps are moderately vulnerable, and 24 percent say they are highly vulnerable. The remaining 2 percent live under a rock.

Red Hat Partners Up

Red Hat announced this week availability of its Red Hat Storage portfolio through partner networks. The open, software-defined storage solutions, based on Ceph and Gluster, will be sold through Red Hat Connect for Business Partners, Red Hat Embedded Partners and, in 2016, Red Hat Certified Cloud and Service Providers.

Both Red Hat Ceph Storage and Red Hat Gluster Storage run on commodity hardware. Ceph Storage is unified storage for private and hybrid clouds that combines object and block storage in one platform. It’s aimed at organizations that measure their data in petabytes.

Gluster is more enterprise-focused. It’s a scale-out system that’s well-suited for unstructured data workloads like analytics, virtualization, rich media and file sync and share. It can run on a customer’s current hardware — if in doubt, Red Hat’s Hardware Certification Program ensures compatibility between Red Hat software and hardware from industry leaders. In addition to tests to verify compatibility, the program includes an active support relationship between Red Hat and many hardware OEMs so partners can be assured that the companies will work together to address customer issues.

Bits & Bytes

IBM announced that five new cloud partners have joined its growing ecosystem serving the U.S. federal government: Arrow, Avnet Government Solutions, Ingram Micro, Tech Data Corporation and ViON will combine and bundle their solutions with IBM Cloud.

Channel-focused SD-WAN provider Talari Networks announced this week subscription pricing for customers that wish to pursue an opex-based SD-WAN acquisition model. Subscription pricing includes terms for one, two or three years and bundles product, maintenance and support.

Elite Microsoft partner Unify Square released predictions for enterprise adoption of unified communications and Skype for Business in 2016. It based its prognostications on over 50 Fortune 500 enterprises that use Skype for Business. Of note for partners:

  • Skype for Business could exceed 100 million enterprise seats by 2018. Microsoft’s cloud computing business has grown more than 300 percent since 2014 (7.7 percent to 25.2 percent). Since Microsoft began integrating Skype for Business into Office 365 previews in July, more than 4,000 companies have started using the new services — and that number is growing by 20 percent each week.
  • Gartner expects Skype for Business, as a telephony solution, to earn Microsoft a top three spot as a global telephony provider by the end of 2016. That’s a challenge to carriers that have traditionally played in the enterprise.
  • IDG analysts expect 54 percent of enterprises will implement a hybrid cloud UC model over the next two years.

Follow editor in chief @LornaGarey on Twitter.


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