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5 Channel Ops: T-Mobile’s ‘Accidental War,’ Microsoft Beefs Up Skype, Sticks Fork in IE10

Lorna GareyThis week T-Mobile CEO John Legere backpedaled his attack on the Electronic Frontier Foundation — in the form of an apology letter that was mostly an extended sales pitch for the company’s “Binge On” content-throttling program, the legality of which the EFF is contesting in light of Net neutrality rules. Coincidence that Legere apologized (sort of) just before reportedly meeting with the FCC on the matter? Or maybe it was the realization that picking a fight with a popular watchdog org, that has dozens of lawyers on its various advisory boards, could be a losing proposition. In any case, Paste’s headline, “How T-Mobile Accidentally Went to War with the EFF and FCC,” pretty much covers the situation.

Opponents and proponents of Net neutrality, and the journalists who rather like this sort of accidental war, are watching closely to see how the FCC comes down on the permissibility of T-Mobile capping video streams, by default, at around 1.5 Mbps, even when the LTE connection and T-Mobile’s network can support higher throughput.

Mobile App Investments Paying Off

Red Hat this week announced results of a recent mobile survey, run by Vanson Bourne, of IT decision makers from 200 private sector organizations with at least 2,500 employees across the U.S. and Western Europe. The survey zeroed in on how respondents with mobile app strategies evaluate the success of those programs — and, presumably, future investment with partners. Most, 85 percent, of respondents do use KPIs to measure mobile app success. Of those, 74 percent say they’re achieving positive ROI. Maybe more interesting for channel partners is that 90 percent plan to increase mobile app development in 2016.

Along vertical lines, manufacturing, telecommunications and construction are achieving the most success, with 92 percent of manufacturers citing positive ROI.

This is one area where partners must be prepared to work with line-of-business execs, however. Today, 72 percent of KPI trackers say responsibility for mobile app success lies with senior IT staff. In the next year, however, respondents see this shifting, with 43 percent saying they believe the primary responsibility will stay with senior IT heads versus 42 percent placing accountability with LOB leaders and 14 percent looking to the head of mobility.

Special Delivery: Cloud, Security Data

Speaking of surveys, F5 just released its 2016 Application Delivery Survey, which tracks pretty much every aspect of app service delivery, from straightforward cloud, mobility and security to DevOps and SDN to more cutting-edge techs like containers and microservices. More than 3,000 respondents globally told F5 which technologies they think “will have a strategic impact (cloud is still high on the list), what’s holding them back (security, budgets, security), and what services and technology they actually use day-to-day to provision and deliver apps and app services in their organizations,” writes F5 principle technology evangelist Lori MacVittie.

For partners, key takeaways are confirmation that hybrid cloud is the future — MacVittie says the vast majority of respondents, 81 percent, are moving toward hybrid cloud environments. The drivers, especially for small and midsize organizations, are flexibility and potential cost savings. In the 2015 survey, 20 percent of North American respondents said they had a “cloud first” strategy, meaning their organizations are required to evaluate cloud-based IT solutions before making new IT investments. This year, that number jumped to 29 percent in North America. Twenty percent plan to migrate over half of their applications to the cloud.

F5 also asked about security. Must-have services before rolling out any new app are Web application firewall, access control, antivirus, network firewall and distributed denial-of-service. On the agenda for new controls that could loosen some budgets are DNS security and identity federation services, which let IT or partners maintain control of users’ credentials when they access cloud-based applications. Both are under consideration by 26 percent.

Tableau on the Move

If you’re looking for a vendor that can help you help customers analyze cloud, security and mobile data, check out Tableau Software. The company’s mission is to “help people see and understand data” by focusing on intuitive dashboards that don’t require special training, and business, apparently, is booming. This week Tableau announced that it opened offices in New York City and Beijing and signed additional leases in Seattle and Kirkland, Washington. The company now has more than 2,800 employees spread across offices in 16 cities in 10 countries. It’s got a broad partner program and recently announced a slew of new features for Version 9.2 of its eponymous software, many of them meant to help analyze mobile data.

Improvements include enhanced security and a new native iPhone app. Tableau also added geolocation and updated its APIs to let partners or administrators more granularly set, view and remove default permissions. The included data interpreter not only cleans Excel spreadsheets, it automatically detects and converts sub-tables so that info can also be analyzed. In short, don’t think you need an expensive data scientist to spot trends, or help customers do so.

WatchGuard Locks Down APs

Partner-focused multifunction threat management appliance vendor WatchGuard Technologies announced this week a new secure 802.11ac wireless access point that’s designed to work with its Firebox appliances. The AP300 AP provides table-stakes features like fast roaming, fast handover and band steering to push capable devices to 5GHz, plus six, count ’em, six, internal omnidirectional antennas and max throughput of 1.75 Gbps.

“Organizations across all industries are facing increased pressure from customers, vendors and employees to offer wireless access,” said Ryan Orsi, director of product management at WatchGuard, in a statement. “Businesses that fail to properly secure their Wi-Fi networks, including guest hotspots, may expose customers, partners and internal users to a variety of risks. The AP300 provides the latest wireless technology and best-in-class security features working together to help protect customers from threats online via Wi-Fi networks.”

WatchGuard says partners need to look out for wireless access points that still use older security protocols, like WEP, as well as rogue hotspots with innocent-seeming SSIDs (remember hacker-bait Barbie?). MSRP for the AP300 is $660 with three years of support, $525 with a one-year contract.

Microsoft: Skype Hot, IE Not

In another shot over the bows of UC providers, Microsoft this week announced that it’s acquired the technology behind Event Zero’s UC Commander product suite. In a blog, Zig Serafin, corporate VP of Microsoft’s Skype Business Services Group, said the buy “will allow us to expand and improve the built-in management tools for Skype for Business, and is the latest example of Microsoft’s commitment to deliver a complete, enterprise-grade communications solution at global scale with Office 365. Event Zero will continue to service its customers and partners.”

Serafin is just reiterating what’s no surprise to anyone — that Microsoft wants Skype for Business/Office 365 to displace UC suites. In the past few months it’s signed a deal with Dell; launched Skype for Business on Android; incorporated Talko, a mobile app for team communications; and added a bunch of new features, including Cloud PBX and PSTN calling and conferencing.

With the new Event Zero functionality, customers or partners can use the Office 365 administration center to acquire and assign phone numbers to end users, view reports of audio and video conferencing use and access aggregated call quality information. In the future, Serafin says Skype for Business will gain more diagnostic capabilities as well as reporting and analytics for online audio and video conferencing. Eventually, partners will be able to integrate their own monitoring, reporting and analytics capabilities with the Skype for Business Online management tools.

Where Microsoft isn’t expending resources is on supporting or patching versions 8, 9 and 10 of Internet Explorer after this week. Customers using Windows really, really need to switch to either Internet Explorer version 11 or the Edge browser. Or, Chrome, or Firefox. Something developed after 2012.

Bits & Bytes

Knowledge Is Power: If your staff’s technical skillsets could use updating, check out a slate of new classes launched this week by Avnet Academy, an education and training organization within Avnet. Matt Fox, vice president of education solutions for Avnet Services, said in a statement that courses will be offered in big data and analytics, cloud, converged infrastructure, IoT, mobility, security and networking. Among the new titles are Hadoop Administration, Cloud Essentials, Nutanix Admin Training, Implementing Internet of Things with IBM IOT Foundation, Mobile Application Development and Deployment with IBM MobileFirst Platform Foundation and CyberSec First Responder: Threat Detection and Response.

Carbonite Locks Up EVault: Carbonite this week completed its acquisition of cloud-based business continuity and disaster-recovery provider EVault, saying the combined product portfolio positions its partners for success in the SMB data protection, disaster recovery and business-continuity arena. That market is projected by IDC to reach $8.2 billion by 2019, with the majority of the growth coming from cloud backup solutions. “In fact, while the overall industry is expected to have a 6.3 percent CAGR, cloud growth will be almost double that at a 12.4 percent CAGR,” said Laura DuBois, group vice president storage at IDC, in a statement. “With data storage growing at approximately 25 percent annually, data protection is an absolute necessity, making this a great time for providers like Carbonite to expand their offerings and their market.”

For partners looking for a global solution, Carbonite said it expects to complete the acquisition of Evault’s European Union assets in the first quarter of this year, if the creek don’t rise and EU regulators are willing.

NTT Challenges in Security: If NTT isn’t on your security radar, maybe it should be. The IT and telecom giant announced this week that Gartner has positioned it in the “challengers” quadrant of the 2015 Magic Quadrant for Managed Security Services, Worldwide, based on its wide range of managed security offerings targeted at large and midsize enterprises. NTT has been busy expanding its managed security services business, partly through consolidating NTT Com Security, Solutionary, Dimension Data and the NTT Innovation Institute. Like cloud BC/DR, managed security is a growing business. In 2014, according to Gartner, the global market for security outsourcing was $13.8 billion, with a forecast compound annual growth rate of 15.4 percent through 2019. 

We’re a mere 62 days from the 2016 Channel Partners Conference & Expo. I’m moderating education sessions on SD-WAN, NFV and security as a business enabler and looking forward to our first-ever Cloud Migration Lab on the expo floor. Early bird registration ends on Feb. 1! Follow me on Twitter @LornaGarey.


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