5 Channel Ops: Olympic-Size Contract, Arrow Adds IoT, New Database-as-a-Service Channel Program

Lorna GareyHere’s a dream channel deal: a contract to fully overhaul the outdated IT infrastructure of a major international airport as it transitions from government to privately run. In 24 months. Without downtime. And with the Olympic Games bearing down.

“Airports are like cities,” says Joao Quiterio, director of operations for Sao Paulo-based managed services provider and integrator Ziva Technology and Solutions. Ziva has served the Brazilian market for some 20 years, but the multi-tenant nature of an already busy international airport combined with an influx of visitors for next month’s Olympic Games presented some unprecedented challenges.

“Two years ago, the government decided to transfer management of RIOgaleão-Tom Jobim to a private company,” says Quiterio. “The infrastructure was obsolete. We saw that a new model was needed.”

That was August 2014. After six months of study, the airport came up with plan: Start from scratch, meet various constituencies’ requirements, and avoid services downtime. Leadership had about $800 million to replace everything from the physical plant to the IT infrastructure, with enough capacity to manage the spike of Olympic travel. While RIOgaleão normally would handle 40,000 to 45,000 travelers, next month daily traffic is expected to peak at 90,000, with a total of 1.5 million expected for the summer games.

Ziva partnered with HPE/Aruba and rolled out Aruba 802.11ac access points and controllers, HPE FlexNetwork and FlexFabric switches, and unified network-management software to run both the wired and wireless infrastructure. The network also supports stringent passport control and an additional 1,000 surveillance cameras put in place for added security.

“We already planned for high-density APs,” said Quiterio. “We knew where biggest demand would be — gates, areas where travelers congregate. That’s where we concentrated the biggest part of the network bandwidth.”

Of particular interest are the beacons feeding a new mobile app powered by Aruba’s Meridian platform. Ziva installed about 3,000 beacons in passenger circulation areas at the airport. With the app, users can find places to shop, eat or rest; receive personalized offers; track the status of flights; and network with apps like Waze and Google Maps.

“Traditionally, the airlines own the relationship with the passengers, so it’s difficult for the airport facility to develop that relationship and learn who these passengers are and what kinds of services appeal to them,” said Renata Pinheiro, marketing and communications director for RIOgaleão. “With the app in place, we’re hoping to gather more knowledge about our passengers so we can cater to their needs and wants more effectively.”

The same challenge faces customers that run malls, mixed-use spaces, medical buildings — anywhere multiple entities own the customer relationship.

So what’s it like being a partner in Latin America versus the United States? And what’s the outlook for a smooth Summer Games?

“It is difficult to answer because I only know the Brazilian scenario,” says Quiterio. “What I can learn during contacts with American professionals during participation in global events is that the United States does greater investment in the design stage, and that budgets are more accurate.”

As to the Games, he says he’s not part of that team but promised that Brazilians are working hard. At least flights in and out should go smoothly.

Arrow Gets in the IoT, Hybrid Cloud Games

Arrow Electronics announced this week deals to distribute Cypress Semiconductor’s Internet of Things portfolio and to work with Equinix to offer preconfigured hybrid cloud packages through resellers and MSPs.

Cypress’ IoT lineup runs from consumer goods – home appliances, health and fitness monitors – to industrial automation and asset tracking systems and smart meters. It includes sensors as well as apps and connectivity under the “eVolve” life-cycle project. The company recently acquired Broadcom’s IoT products, including the Wireless Internet Connectivity for Embedded Devices (WICED) platform, which supports development of IoT devices from conception to production by providing forums, development kits and other information.

As a Bostonian, I find the WICED acronym wicked cool. I’m also looking forward to sharing some IoT insights at Channel Partners Evolution in a few weeks.

As for the hybrid cloud solutions, they’ll be on display at next week’s Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference. The current lineup is based on HPE Helion hyperconverged systems running inside select U.S. Equinix International Business Exchanges and leveraging the Equinix Cloud Exchange, including Microsoft Azure via ExpressRoute. Canadian and European data centers will be added in the coming months.

“Managed hybrid cloud will be the key to channel partners’ success for the future,” said Steve Robinson, vice president of Arrow’s global cloud business, in a statement. “The Equinix-Arrow hybrid cloud solution coupled with a direct connection to Microsoft Azure via Equinix Cloud Exchange gives our channel partners a robust, easy-to-consume solution that delivers a secure, high-performance hybrid cloud located in multiple markets around the globe.”

Partners can quote, order and provision the preconfigured hybrid clouds through Arrow’s ArrowSphere online marketplace. Arrow offers a series of playbooks for the offerings, and Equinix will open its Toronto data center to WPC attendees. Drop by booth 1410 for details on a tour.

PLUS: Think hyperconvergence is still bleeding edge? Not so, says Technology Business Research. The analyst firm’s new report shows that healthy adoption of hyperconverged platforms “has invigorated the waning data center IT infrastructure market.” In fact, TBR’s 1H16 Hyperconverged Platforms Customer Research shows a 50 percent CAGR from 2015 to 2020 leading to a nearly $7 billion market by 2020. And, Krista Macomber, TBR senior analyst, data center, says research shows customer satisfaction is strong once the architecture is up and running. That aligns with my discussions with partners at the recent, and sold-out, Nutanix NEXT conference.

More Very Bad Bug News for Symantec

In case you missed it, just before the long weekend, Tavis Ormandy of Google’s Project Zero team revealed multiple critical vulnerabilities in the core engine behind all Symantec and Norton endpoint and email-protection products. That’s a lot of customers at risk.

“These vulnerabilities are as bad as it gets,” wrote Ormandy. “They don’t require any user interaction, they affect the default configuration, and the software runs at the highest privilege levels possible. In certain cases on Windows, vulnerable code is even loaded into the kernel, resulting in remote kernel memory corruption.”

If you resell – or run – Symantec or Norton products, take a look at the post. Ormandy isn’t exaggerating about the severity.

ClearDB Launches Partner Program

Hot on the heels of a new end-to-end Data Services Platform and the appointment of former Micron and Intel exec Allen Holmes as vice president of marketing and platform alliances, database-as-a-service provider ClearDB this week announced the launch of its channel partner program.

ClearDB’s motto: “Guaranteed uptime and fanatical support for the right price.” The company offers 13 easy-to-understand prepackaged plans, from $3.50 per month for a simple application with up to 250 MB of data to $4,800 for a TB with 100 percent uptime SLAs and 15-minute response times. The service is based on MySQL and can run transactional and analytic database workloads fully in the cloud or in a hybrid setup.

The new program allows partners to design and deliver customized database-as-a-service solutions. ClearDB says on-boarding is simple and that partners can develop predictable and recurring revenue streams. The program includes sales discounts and bundled service offerings, access to technical resources, go-to-market assistance and product training.

“Database assets are increasingly the key for business success in today’s always-on, data-driven economy,” said Holmes. “Our valued partners play a vital role in ClearDB’s growth and success, and a strong channel partner program will further empower our partners to effectively and confidently ensure that a customers’ database-powered applications stay online and perform reliably.”

If you support customers that need distributed databases, the program is worth a look. More than 200,000 companies worldwide run the DBaaS suite, and it’s great to see a partner program. 

Grandstream Opens Beta Club

SIP-based UC gear supplier Grandstream announced this week a new Gigabit VPN router and associated managed Wi-Fi access point. We see managed Wi-Fi as a great services-revenue generator for channel partners (see our take on why here), but getting started takes some capital investment. Grandstream has an alternative: Demonstrate that you have experience with wireless network gear like that from Cisco, Aruba or Ruckus and apply for free by July 20 to be included in the “Grandstream Beta Club.” If accepted, you get one of 60 Wi-Fi APs and VPN router test units. The APs are dual-band 802.11ac with advanced antennas, two Gigabit ports with PoE/PoE+, and 2 Gbps wireline performance. They cover up to 175 meters and can be remotely provisioned and managed through the VPN router.

There is some fine print: Participants must provide a credit-card number and agree to submit at least 10 bugs and/or improvement suggestions to a dedicated forum. Oh, and the first rule of beta club is that you don’t badmouth beta club to the general public. Still, it’s a way to take managed Wi-Fi for a low-risk test run.

Customer Execs On The Move: Cyber-Crime Magnets?

What’s not so low-risk? Business travelers, especially senior-level executives. So says a new Kaspersky Lab International Travel Report, which shows that one in five has been a cybercrime target while traveling for work.

The survey, which includes 11,850 respondents from across the U.S., Europe, Russia, Latin America and Asia Pacific, also showed that the pressure to work while on the road leads to risky behavior:

  • Fifty-four percent conduct their online activities while traveling and on unsecured networks just as they would on a secure network in the office.
  • Forty-four percent of senior managers and more than 43 percent of mid-level managers use unsecure public-access Wi-Fi networks to connect their work devices when abroad; 20 percent of senior executives admit to using work devices to access websites of a sensitive nature via Wi-Fi.
  • Forty-one percent expect their employers to have set strong security measures that will protect their data.

For partners, responding involves a mix of targeted education and technology. Kaspersky recommends specific training on potential cyber threats while traveling, even (and maybe especially) for C-level users. From a technology perspective, provision a VPN to access the corporate network, use email encryption, and have a multilayered endpoint protection strategy.

Also consider a policy that smartphones may be used as mobile hotspots. If you think data plans are expensive, try ransomware.

Agree? Disagree? Let me know, either in comments or direct. Follow executive editor @LornaGarey on Twitter.

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