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6 Channel Ops: Avnet Ups VMware Game, Microsoft Adds 365 ExpressRoute Option, RackSpace Private Cloud Play

Lorna GareyPlans for Channel Partners’ big spring show are shaping up. We expect record attendance, and we have three opportunities to do some good while doing business. For the first time, we’re partnering with a local organization and inviting exhibitors with extra giveaway items, booth supplies or demo gear to donate it rather than pay to ship it home. Serving Hope Las Vegas will be at the Venetian & Sands Expo on Friday, after the show floor closes, to collect items. Serving Hope LV is an all-volunteer organization focused on caring for Las Vegas’ homeless population. If you want more info, drop me a line or contact your account exec. Hat tip to Michael Bremmer of TelecomQuotes.com for the idea.

We’re also excited that Telecom for Change is again holding its fundraising event in conjunction with the show. This year, the group is sponsoring a round of golf, drinks and networking on Tuesday, March 15 at TPC Las Vegas. I’m not a golfer, but I can see visiting this course just for the spectacular views. The beneficiary of the Second Annual Telecom for Change Charity Golf Tournament is The Ashley Lauren Foundation, which helps families affected by pediatric cancer. Telecom for Change provides transportation, clubs, golf/cart, lunch, cocktails (and more cocktails, if you are so inclined), heavy appetizers, a silent auction and transportation back to the hotel. Reserve your spot here.

Finally, we really do value your feedback on the show. To encourage you to tell us what we did right, and what could have gone better, we’ll donate $1 for each completed survey to a deserving cause; more on this as we get closer to show time. See you in Vegas!

Avnet Adds VMware Partner Professional Services

Avnet announced this week that it has joined the VMware Partner Professional Services Program at the Enterprise tier, enabling it to sell consulting services engagements with its partner community. Avnet says its focus is helping global partners move their customers to a software-defined enterprise model, but plenty of U.S. companies could use some help there as well.

“Avnet already has strong VMware-certified capabilities and resources as they relate to software-defined enterprises, and our participation in this program further emphasizes our commitment to the success of our VMware partners,” said Mike Heintzelman, Avnet’s vice president of global suppliers, in a statement. At the Enterprise tier, Avnet and its partners get access to VMware licenses, sales and services support and discounts on technical training.

Microsoft Adds Aryaka ExpressRoute 

Office 365 is popular — Microsoft recently announced that revenue grew nearly 70 percent year-over-year. But there’s no doubt moving from an on-site to a cloud-based productivity suite increases WAN bandwidth demand significantly. And nothing will dampen user adoption more than latency.

Avoiding latency is the idea behind Microsoft ExpressRoute, and this week, Microsoft added Aryaka as an ExpressRoute partner. Aryaka says it’s one of the first network providers to offer private connectivity into Office 365 instances and claims up to 40 times faster Office 365 performance thanks to its network of POPs that are within 1 and 5 milliseconds from Office 365 data centers around the world.

“Microsoft is excited to welcome Aryaka as an ExpressRoute connectivity provider for Office 365,” said Ross Ortega, Microsoft principal manager, Azure networking. “By offering Azure ExpressRoute for Office 365 over its software-defined network platform, Aryaka is providing enterprises with enhanced network performance and consistent, accelerated access to the Office 365 cloud.”

Aryaka says that besides single-day deployment of O365, it offers real-time visibility and optimization benefits, such as compression, data deduplication and application acceleration. See more on Aryaka’s partner opportunities in my interview with Jim Hilbert, Aryaka’s senior vice president of global sales; Hilbert says the WAN-as-a-service provider now has a 100-percent channel model.

Rackspace to Offer Red Hat OpenStack

Rackspace announced this week that it will offer the Red Hat Enterprise Linux OpenStack Platform for use in onsite private clouds or as a managed, private cloud service as part of its OpenStack-as-a-Service portfolio. Rackspace will manage and maintain the Red Hat environment, including the underlying RHEL, Red Hat Satellite management system and RHEL OpenStack Platform. Darrin Hanson, vice president and general manager of OpenStack Private Cloud at Rackspace, says the company is refining the RHEL OpenStack architecture so it’s “a supportable, production-ready private cloud we can back with our industry-leading 99.99 percent uptime SLA guarantee.”

OpenStack is a set of open-source blocks with which to build scalable clouds; the basic architecture includes compute (virtual machines), storage, virtual networks and a management dashboard. But pulling everything together is complex; that’s where Rackspace comes in, along with plenty of others that support OpenStack. The selling points for your customers are that OpenStack is less expensive than proprietary private cloud stacks, it works on existing servers and networks, and there’s a wide and ever growing array of distros and appliances in the Marketplace. Rackspace also offers an OpenStack-based public cloud build. A common platform significantly eases hybrid projects.

PLUS: Speaking of Linux, HPE this week launched its 8-socket Integrity MC990 X Server, optimized for running high-volume, high-value workloads on an x86 platform. The 11U chassis can support eight Intel Xeon E7-8800 v3 processors and 6 TB of memory and runs SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 11/12, Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6/7 or Oracle Linux 7.

Interoperability Testing-as-a-Service

If you’ve ever wanted to know, or show, exactly how a potential product or service would work on a customer’s network without actually installing it on-site, check out the new tekVizion onTAP virtual lab, which goes live this week. onTAP’s pay-as-you-go remote “testing-as-a-service” provides interoperability testing and optimization as well as sales enablement. The company says its customers have used the lab to demonstration solutions right from a customer’s office on the fly.

tekVizion’s CEO, Chakra Devalla, told me pricing varies based on lab setup. As a general guide, the daily usage fee for Cisco, Avaya or Microsoft Skype4B standard deployments, which include gateways, SBCs, six phone numbers to make calls nationally and more, is $225. Devalla says pricing for extended hosting is negotiable, and customized setups are available. 

“onTAP provides access to the industry’s most comprehensive lab, complete with the latest technologies, most current versions and our deep business communications expertise,” said Vimal Andrews, director of strategic accounts at tekVizion, in a statement. “With our pay-per-use model, onTAP customers gain access to our extensive lab without the high capital expense and challenges of setting up their own in-house facility. onTAP simulates real-world load environments, including large enterprise deployment levels to test, optimize and demonstrate their solutions.”

tekVizion, which is headquartered in Plano, Texas, also offers integration services and custom application development.

PLUS: Speaking of labs, be sure and stop by our first-ever Cloud Migration Lab for education, presentations and hands-on demos.

What, Us Worry?

Technology Business Research calls them “ANPs,” alternative network providers, and projects that the Big 3 — Alphabet (Google), Amazon and Facebook — will spend billions over the next few years on infrastructure. “These companies believe they can do networking better than the incumbent telcos and are putting their money where their mouths are,” said Chris Antlitz, a telecom senior analyst at TBR. “Telecom operators should take note of this nascent, disruptive force in the market, and ICT vendors should gear up to support this new category of customer. Billions of capex dollars are up for grabs.”

Antlitz says ANPs aren’t out to get telcos per se. They are focused on shoring up the ways they make money — mostly e-commerce, cloud and digital advertising — by controlling the support and distribution infrastructure. If that means disintermediation of the carriers that have provided network backbones and access services, that’s how it goes. Think Amazon’s initiative to Uber-ize home delivery. It’s not out to get UPS, it’s out to get product to customers as quickly as possible, for the least cost, with the most control.

For the channel, TBR says incumbent telecom operators will accelerate their shift to software-mediated technologies to stay competitive. This could be a windfall for vendors, but it could also be good news for partners, who can piggyback on these transformational projects.

Security Roundup

What’s keeping your customers awake? Cloud and managed security services provider Trustwave just released its 2016 Security Pressures Report, based on a survey of 1,414 security professionals. Some highlights: The number of respondents who either already partner or plan to partner with managed security services providers has climbed from 78 percent to 86 percent. That may be because a shortage of security expertise has climbed from No. 8 among operational pressures to No. 3, behind only advanced security threats and adoption of emerging technologies.

And, 77 percent of respondents are pressured to unveil IT projects that aren’t security ready. The business wants to move fast, and partners that are staffed up to make that happen have an advantage. Knowledge is power, so it makes sense to arm sales teams with insight into pressures facing customer CISOs and CIOs.

FinServ partners take note: Use of two new banking-focused Trojans is growing rapidly, says new analysis by ASERT (Arbor Networks’ Security Engineering & Response Team). The “Big Bong” malware is now targeting South Korean banks; its method is to use service provider networks to hijack banking sessions. The “Corebot” Trojan, first seen last year, is evolving to match dominant banking malware like ZeusNeverquest, and Dyreza.

Arbor, which is the security division of NetScout also introduced this week Arbor Networks Spectrum, a new security platform for advanced threat protection. The company Spectrum can be the basis for a managed security service to tackle advanced persistent threats customers are so worried about.

Hardware is so over. Networking and telecom researcher Dell’Oro Group predicts that the network security appliance market will exceed $11 billion in 2019. But don’t read “appliance” as “hardware.” The big driver will be strong virtual appliance revenue growth. Casey Quillin, director of data center appliance market research, called out virtual security appliances that are integrated with hypervisors, such as VMware and Hyper-V. Another big driver: NFV, as I’ll discuss with experts from ADTRAN, CenturyLink and Nitel in a few weeks.

Follow executive editor @LornaGarey on Twitter.


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