IT and Business Insights for SMB Solution Providers

ICYMI: Our Channel News Roundup for the Week of January 23rd

Dueling headline grabbers from Cisco, new FastTrack services from Microsoft, and statistical evidence that sleep deprivation really doezzzzzzz…Where were we again? Oh yes, about to take you through a week’s worth of stories we missed. By Rich Freeman

We’ve finally figured it out. Why we can’t seem to keep up with everything happening in the tech industry, that is. Turns out there’s now a quantitatively-validated explanation for our chronic underperformance. We’ll gladly share it with you too, but you’ll have to read through all these stories we didn’t get around to writing up this week first.

Cisco Spark BoardFor shame, Cisco! You fooled us! We clocked out on Tuesday assuming that the cool all-in-one meeting room solution and conference planning application you released that morning were your big news for the day. And then, boom! Out comes word that you’ve acquired application performance monitoring vendor AppDynamics for $3.7 billion, and right on the eve of its IPO no less.

Let’s start with that cool all-in-one meeting room solution. It’s called Cisco Spark Board and bears a strong resemblance to Microsoft’s Surface Hub and Google’s Jamboard, except that with the help of “ultrasound wireless pairing technology” it lets anyone with a Cisco Spark app on their PC, Mac, tablet, or smartphone share content on a big digital whiteboard with no Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, or wired connection whatsoever.

And get this: The 55-inch edition, which will be available by end of month, lists for $4,990, versus $8,999 for the equivalent Surface Hub. A 70-inch version available later this year will go for $9,990, versus $21,999 for Microsoft’s larger (but not that much larger) 84-inch model. The Cisco solutions require $199 a month subscription plans, however, for cloud service, help desk support, and software updates.

Also new this week is the Cisco Spark Meetings conference planning application, which automatically creates a team space for newly scheduled meetings that attendees can then use to create an agenda, collect presentation materials, capture notes and follow-ups, and generally help meetings make better use of people’s time.

“This is all made possible by the tight integration of hardware, software, apps and the cloud,” Cisco said in its press release for Spark Board and Spark Meetings.

AppDynamicsWhich brings us back to AppDynamics. Its $3.7 billion sale price is close to twice what the company was reportedly valued at privately as of Tuesday morning. But if you’re a vendor known for hardware that maybe sees potential in integrated hardware/software/cloud solutions that are only worth owning if you can keep their performance strong, spending big dollars on a big name in APM starts to look like a shrewd move.

Or maybe they just wanted to make more money on software. Bold step either way. And allow us to extend a completely and totally unauthorized thank you to Cisco from AppDynamics competitor New Relic for driving its stock price up 8.95 percent as of yesterday’s market close.

Kevin ScottHere’s proof that Cisco’s news was kind of a big deal. It overshadowed some reasonably important stories from Microsoft. Specifically, the company reported boffo Q2 cloud numbers yesterday, including a 93 percent year-over-year revenue jump for Azure and a 47 percent gain for Office 365 commercial revenue, and named Kevin Scott (pictured), formerly of LinkedIn, its new CTO. Which is no small thing, by the way, because it’s been a while since Microsoft even had a CTO and past occupants of that post include industry legends Ray Ozzie and Nathan Myhrvold.

Meanwhile, and of more immediate relevance to channel pros, Microsoft expanded its FastTrack onboarding service beyond the two solutions it applied to before—Office 365 and the Enterprise Mobility + Security suite—to encompass Windows 10, Dynamics 365, and recently introduced Slack-like collaboration solution Microsoft Teams as well.

What hasn’t changed however, generally speaking, is that direct assistance from Microsoft through FastTrack with tasks that partners make money on, like data migration, is still limited to larger deployments (150 or more seats with respect to Office 365 implementations, for example).

OneDrive for Business for MacAlso straight outta Redmond this week…Were these product announcements:

  • OneDrive for Business now has sync support for SharePoint Online team sites, a new standalone client app for Macs (pictured), and simplified sharing options.
  • Office 365 Advanced Threat Protection now offers built-in safeguards against malicious links, as well as a public preview edition of new faster attachment scanning technology.
  • School Data Sync, an online classroom solution for Office 365 Education users, is now in general availability
  • Also for education customers: There’s now a version of Microsoft’s Intune administration tool specifically for them.

Toshiba Portege X20WLet’s keep the product news flowing! By noting that:

  • Bluelock has added security enhancements to its Disaster Recovery-as-a-Service solution’s management portal.
  • Data Deposit Box has equipped its Smart Storage bare metal recovery solution to backup end points even if they don’t have a client-side agent installed.
  • F5 Networks has launched a new line of application security solutions, including encryption and anti-DDoS systems and an as-a-service Web application firewall.
  • Jabra has shipped a new desktop application for contact center agents who use its headsets with Cisco’s Finesse solution that gives them faster, easier control over frequently used call features.
  • Opsgility has introduced a “Cloud Sandbox” that lets users create and manage Microsoft Azure environments without disrupting production resources.
  • Riverbed has linked its SteelConnect SD-WAN solution to Azure-based cloud networks.
  • Toshiba has added 7th Generation Intel Core (i.e. Kaby Lake) processors to its mobile solutions portfolio generally and Portege X20W 2-in-1 (pictured) specifically.
  • TRENDnet has released a new 6-port network switch with variable voltage technology capable of accommodating the 12V and 24V power supplies often found in industrial applications.
  • Unigma has rolled out an update of its cloud monitoring and management solution offering new support for both Microsoft Cloud Solution Provider partners and Azure users with Microsoft Enterprise Agreements.
  • Zoho has shipped a new solution for adding checkout processes to e-commerce sites.

Good news, bad news. As in good news for LG Display, which reported record profits for its fourth quarter this week. And bad news for digital signage customers, perhaps, because it was rising prices for LCD displays that fueled those big numbers.

Jennifer BodellThis, on the other hand, is all good. For the vendors and people involved, anyway.

This week’s stats ticker:

  • 44 percent of U.S. small businesses plan to buy at least one PC this year, according to Techaisle.
  • 32 percent of parents have scolded a child for bringing mobile devices to bed, and 36 percent have been scolded by their kids for using devices during family time, according to Intel Security.
  • Global semiconductor revenue will climb 7.2 percent this year, according to Gartner.
  • Over 25 percent of businesses worldwide have suffered a security breach in the last year—and another 23 percent can’t really say for sure if they have or haven't, according to DomainTools.

Sleep deprivationFlash! Sleep deprivation makes you sluggish. And Microsoft can prove it, thanks to a recent experiment that tracked 75 million keystrokes and clicks on Bing made by over 30,000 volunteers wearing Microsoft Band fitness wearables. Turns out people process search results more slowly when they don’t get enough sleep. Other less than startling insights in the new study include the revelation that keystrokes and clicks are slower than usual during your first hour or two after waking and at their slowest, on average, at 4:00 am.

On the other hand, this was kind of an interesting application of “population-scale” data collection for research purposes. And we didn’t actually know that the effects of getting six hours of sleep a night twice in a row are visible for the next six days.

In any event, we’ve finally come to the explanation for our perpetual reporting lapses promised to you at the beginning of this piece: We’re a touch slow at catching up with some of the week’s news here at ChannelPro, we now know, because we never sleep.

About the Author

Rich Freeman is ChannelPro's Executive Editor

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