IT and Business Insights for SMB Solution Providers

ICYMI: Our Channel News Roundup for the Week of December 11th

Artificial intelligence goodies from Microsoft and the latest proof that intelligence, artificial or otherwise, is hard to find among young men are two of the many stories we failed to get around to this week. By James E. Gaskin

Just like you, we missed a few news stories as we desperately searched the web for presents. Some big things happened, too, so close your six comparison-shopping tabs and read along.

Microsoft grabbed the spotlight on Wednesday the 13th at their artificial intelligence show-and-tell type meeting in San Francisco. Smarter programs and utilities were demoed, features updated, and even Clippy got his IQ raised a point. Other companies did some good stuff this week too.

AI BIAI, AI, Oh! After winning the knowledge worker market, MS hopes to make users smarter with updates to Office 365, Bing, and Cortana. A chart titled Microsoft AI by the Numbers shows considerable resources committed to help tools better answer more nuanced questions. Will Excel ever pop up a dialog that says, “Dude, you need a database”? Probably not. But it might link to a Dan Bricklin quote about best uses for a spreadsheet. Maybe.

Some bits here on AI boosting Office 365. And getting Intelligent Search results out of the vast pool of data (that’s what trolls make?) from Reddit. Forget AI, how about Artificial Civility? Maybe the newly-available Azure Bot Service and Language Understanding will help quell the chaos.

Charge up your virtual assistant with new features in the Cortana Skills Kit for developers. Look for the exact tool you need with the new Intelligent Search features for Bing.

Azure Cost ManagementMore MS but less AI. You’ll get more Azure for less coin with Azure Cost Management, which now supports Azure Reserved Virtual Machine Instances, plus the price reductions of up to four percent that go into effect on general-purpose Dv3 Series virtual machines in selected regions on January 5th.

VMware and Hyper-V users might like the release of Azure Site Recovery Deployment Planner. Archive360 users should check out Archive2Azure with complete support for Microsoft Azure Archive Blob Storage Tier.

Business intelligence hides inside data, so Power BI Premium‘s new support for datasets up to 10GB in size should make BI jockeys look smarter.

Hiring? Skype Interviews Scheduler can make the process a bit less painful.

iMac ProNews from big vendors not named Microsoft. Apple (extremely not Microsoft) released a new iMac Pro (pictured) for those who need to crank at workstation productivity levels. Intel Xeon chips with up to 18 cores offering up to 22 teraflops of graphics speed on a 27-inch Retina 5K display sound like a great fit for video editing and more.

Those with less demanding workloads, and less full wallets, rejoice: Intel introduced new value-priced Pentium Silver and Celeron processors.

Gamers, put down your controllers long enough to install the new Radeon Software Adrenalin Edition for graphic goodness and performance.

Google raised the number of managed service providers for the Google Cloud Platform to an even dozen.

Cloud-based CRM pioneer Salesforce expanded into new ways to help companies please customers with Distributed Marketing.

AWS users will be happy to hear about the new Amazon CloudWatch Agent with AWS Systems Manager integration.

Early adopter corporate C-suiters can un-hide their Apple X phones now that Cisco released the Security Connector App for iOS 11.

LG gramMore products but less MS and AI. Big ideas must sometimes be printed on big paper, so Epson America announced three new wide-format printers for small biz, creatives, architects, and the like. Say hello to the Epson WorkForce WF-7210, WF-7710, and WF07720. And to seven new Pro L-Series laser large venue projectors and the ELPLX02 ultra short-throw lens. Up to 4K resolution with 15,000 lumens and from 100 to 1000-inch projection are just a few of the features.

Getting an early jump on the competition, LG says it will roll out a new line of LG gram Notebooks (pictured) at the Consumer Electronics Show in January. Two-ish pounds with Intel i7 chips and SSDs, accent is on the slim and fast side.

Not to be outdone, the Samsung Notebook 9 Pen will be available early in 2018 too. Thin, light, fast, etc.

Alexa for Business fans (Bueller? Bueller?) should try out the new Sharp B2B MFP line that integrates with the Amazon intelligent assistant. When, “Alexa, unjam the printer” works, let us know.

Those curious about the Internet of Things (everybody, right?) should peruse the new services from Avnet on display at CES and afterwards. IoT Advisory Services, Device Design and Build, Cloud and Digital, and Lifecycle are just the first of them.

  • Xage Security launched what it claims is the first and only blockchain-protected security platform for the IIoT (Industrial Internet of Things).
  • KnowBe4 released a new tool to help employees avoid phishing emails called Second Chance. Hard to get those from hackers.
  • ZeroStack, of the self-driving on-premises cloud, announced its DevOps Workbench.
  • EventTracker (a Netsurion company) revved up its SIEM product to version 9 to help you catch more bad stuff on your network.
  • Cloudian now connects Axis Communications’ network cameras direct to its Cloudian HyperStore object storage system.
  • Epicor shipped the latest version of Epicor ERP.
  • FileCloud released what it claims is the first private cloud enterprise file sync and share solution with GDPR compliance support.
  • Atmosera won approval to offer its customers Microsoft Azure Government services.
  • Vena Solutions announced Revenue Performance Management for SaaS and subscription-based businesses.
  • M-Files released M-Files 2018, which includes a new Metadata Layer to provide a simple interface for retrieving documents regardless of the system they’re hiding in.
  • Everlaw now has automatic transcription for audio and video files in its cloud-based ediscovery platform. And it can now grab files from other cloud storage locations.

Dan ShaperoMore news but no products. The movers are busy at Cisco. Senior Vice President of Operations Rebecca Jacoby leaves in January 2018 but will advise etc. through May. Irving Tan takes on the new position of senior vice president of operations and digital. Chris Dedicoat will move next summer to a senior advisory role to Chairman and CEO Chuck Robbins.

Franchiser TeamLogic IT welcomed former President Chuck Lennon into a new role as executive vice president for business development and franchise support, while naming long-time channel vet Dan Shapero (pictured) the company’s new president starting in March.

No time for New Year’s Eve hangovers at Thales: January 1, 2018, marks the regrouping of all things digital under a “transverse” Digital Business Unit. David Jones, in California, will be the senior vice president in charge of it. Olivier Flous, we now know, has been vice president for digital transformation and the Digital Factory since July. Cindy Provin starts as CEO of Thales eSecurity on New Year’s Day. Faizel Lakhani became CEO of the company’s Guavus real-time big data analytics unit back in October.

TPx Communications has hired Jamie Minner to be the first vice president of its new unified communications line of business.

Cato Networks has welcomed Avant Communications into its channel partner program.

Asigra (the cloud backup folks) have rolled back prices for partners and end users by 50 percent as part of the new Asigra Partner Acceleration Program.

BluVector, the next-generation network intrusion detection group, has launched its OEM partner program.

This week’s stat ticker:

  • Spiceworks’ 2018 IT Career Outlook reports that one in three IT pros have itchy feet and will be looking for a new home next year. Reasons? Money, of course, say three of four respondents eager to boogie. 70 percent want new skills, and 39 percent want “to work for a company that makes IT more of a priority.” No surprise, but 81 percent say cybersecurity expertise is desired. Unfortunately, only one in five declare themselves advanced in cybersecurity.
  • For those willing to go over to the dark side, Impartner’s Partner Relationship Manager study shows that nine of ten hiring managers find it hard to recruit and hire direct sales professionals. According to CMO Dave Taylor, that means “the golden age of the channel has arrived.” Leverage the channel or lose to competitors with more feet on the street.
  • The latest Kaspersky Security Bulletin says that the “Number of the Year” for 2017 is 360,000. That’s how many new malicious files were discovered each day this year. 78 percent of them were malware, 14 percent viruses, and 8 percent adware. The first time Kaspersky Labs counted there were just 70,000 new and evil files found per day. That was only back in 2011, so the flood of malware has grown five-fold. Looks like the wrong week to quit.
  • LogicMonitor surveyed 300 industry influencers and found that enterprises will migrate the majority of their IT workloads from data centers to the cloud by 2020. The Future of the Cloud Study says that part of the transition will be the 20.8 billion IoT devices Gartner expects will go online. Amazon will remain in the lead with only 18 percent growth while Azure and Google grow 200 and 800 percent. That’s what a good head start buys you.

Computer BrainMore proof that young men don’t think too good. Vrge Analytics repeated the Internet Attitudes survey from 10 years ago and discovered that (surprise!) young men are more likely than the rest of us to do dumb things. Especially men 18-29 years old, 30 percent of whom say they’d be willing to implant the internet directly into their brains, provided it were safe.

Males in this age range of the species tend to be particularly afflicted by the “Hold My Beer“ syndrome we see in the South quite a bit. Politely put, they are stupid, primarily because they are young men. One in five men of any age would accept the brain chip, but more than nine of ten men 60+ years old said no way.

Ten years ago, only seven percent of women were willing to be chipped, but now that number is up to 13 percent. Really, ladies? Don’t follow us men down this slippery slope. I mean, think pop-up ads are terrible? Imagine having the entire internet piped directly to your head. If you get caught in a pop-up blizzard, how do you reboot?

About the Author

JAMES E. GASKIN is a ChannelPro contributing editor and former reseller based in Dallas.

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