IT and Business Insights for SMB Solution Providers

ICYMI: Our Channel News Roundup for the Week of March 28th

New software from Microsoft, new hardware from Dell, HPE, and Supermicro, and the world’s first hackable wine bottle are among the stories worth knowing about that you may have missed this week. By Rich Freeman

Not to sound defensive or anything, but maybe if people in the IT industry stopped making news so insistently we wouldn’t have trouble reporting it all. But they won’t and we do, so here’s our latest roundup of stories worth knowing about that we didn’t cover this week.

Microsoft Build 2016Can’t beat the price. As anticipated, Microsoft had news to share at this year’s Build conference in San Francisco about Xamarin, the multi-platform mobile app development vendor it purchased in February. Xamarin’s software is now available free to users of Visual Studio Community and Visual Studio Enterprise, and Microsoft said it would open source the Xamarin SDK in the coming months as well. The goal of these bold moves, the company explained in a press statement, is to empower developers to “deliver fully native cross-platform mobile app experiences to all major devices, including iOS, Android and Windows.”

Microsoft also shared details about its “intelligence vision” with Build attendees. We’ll skip right past the snarky comments a phrase like that pretty much invites, and just note the company was referring to its vision for using machine learning and big data capabilities hosted on Microsoft Azure to create intelligent agents that communicate with people in plain language via voice, text, Skype, Slack, and more. And once again we’ll resist the temptation to crack wise by noting that Microsoft is still mastering the distinction between plain language and the racist kind.

Also announced at Build were:

  • Windows 10 Anniversary Update, a new edition of Microsoft’s client device OS (which the company says is now running on over 270 million devices) featuring Cortana, Windows Hello, and gaming enhancements, as well as new digital ink functionality. It will arrive this summer.
  • Microsoft HoloLens Development Edition, which arms programmers to create applications for Microsoft’s HoloLens augmented reality device, and is shipping now.

Office 365 ConnectorsMeanwhile, back in Redmond. The folks minding the fort at home kept busy this week too, making news with these additional product intros:

  • Microsoft Advanced Support for Partners, a new subscription-based support offering for Azure, Office 365, Dynamics CRM Online, and Dynamics AX that lets resellers open tickets on behalf of customers and get action from Microsoft within an hour.
  • Office 365 Connectors, which equip end users to receive content and updates from popular apps like Twitter and Trello (or even Zendesk's IT customer support solution) directly in Office 365 solutions. Formerly in limited preview, Office 365 Connectors are now officially available to one and all.
  • Surface Hub, the giant, wall-mounted interactive display and collaboration tool that was also in preview before, but is now shipping to business customers.

HPE ProLiant DL380You’d think they planned it in advance or something. The same day Intel announced the release of its new Xeon E5-2600 v4 processors, Dell, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, and Supermicro all shipped servers containing the cloud-optimized CPUs. More specifically:

Dell Precision workstationsElsewhere in vendorville:

  • The aforementioned folks at Dell issued upgraded Precision tower and rack workstations (pictured) optimized for use with virtual reality devices like the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift. The new systems have beefed up processing, memory, and graphics specs.
  • dinCloud added new audit trail, utilization reporting, and self-serve features to dinManage, the company’s administration console for its hosted workspaces and virtual servers.
  • Lenovo announced an alliance with open source software-defined storage vendor Nexenta aimed at combining the latter’s software with the former’s x86 server hardware.
  • NETGEAR released two new SMB-friendly switching platforms, the ProSAFE M4200 Managed Intelligent Edge Series, which the company calls the world’s first Power-over-Ethernet 8x2.5Gigabit and 2x10Gigabit distribution switch for Wave 2 Wireless-AC Access Points, and the ProSAFE M4300 Managed Intelligent Edge Series, which NETGEAR says is the first switch family to offer stackable 10G ports.
  • Seagate introduced the Innov8, which it claims is the first external hard drive that draws power from USB 3.1 ports rather than electrical outlets. The “8” in the product name refers to its 8TB capacity.
  • ShoreTel announced a new plug-in called ShoreTel Telephony for Microsoft that lets users of its phone systems dial contacts, transfer calls, access voicemail, and more from directly within Microsoft’s Skype for Business client software.

SYNNEXAnd what’s the word on SYNNEX, you ask? Meh. You’ll recall that on Monday we wondered whether the quarterly financial figures SYNNEX posted this week would more closely resemble Tech Data’s recent eight percent net income increase or Ingram Micro’s 13 percent year-over-year global sales dip. As things turned out, SYNNEX came in more or less in the middle. Profits were ever-so-slightly up over the same quarter a year ago and revenue was a touch down. Disappointed by weaker than expected forward guidance, however, Wall Street had bid SYNNEX shares down 5.93 percent as of press time.

This week’s stats ticker:

  • Global thin and terminal client shipments dropped 6.9 percent in 2015, according to IDC.
  • Sales of data center colocation services will reach $33.2 billion by 2018, according to 451 Research.
  • The worldwide Ethernet switch and router market will grow at a more than 10 percent CAGR through 2020 to nearly $16 billion, according to Technavio.
  • The global market for Hadoop software, hardware, and services will climb at an even hotter 28.4 percent CAGR through 2023 to $37.76 billion, according to Transparency Market Research.

Clap your hands. Because you’re happy and you know it, and so are your customers, according to Dun & Bradstreet and the Pepperdine University Graziadio School of Business and Management. Their latest Private Capital Access Index shows that 86 percent of U.S. SMBs are either more or somewhat more optimistic about their future growth prospects. The report also reveals that demand for capital is up 7.4 percent in the last quarter while access to capital is up 2.5 percent. And where are SMBs getting that capital? The new study says 71 percent rely primarily on friends and family, 68 percent lean on personal credit cards, and a comparatively low 56 percent utilize “trade credit” (i.e. vendors).

Kuvee smart wine bottleInternet of tipsy Things. Last week, we wrote about a somewhat unusual Internet of Things security demo that involved hacking a large pink sex toy. Now comes word of a new “smart wine bottle” from Kuvée that lets you pour a single glass without oxygenating everything else, so partially used bottles stay fresh for up to 30 days. In addition, however, the device comes with a built-in, WiFi-enabled touchscreen that displays information about what you’re drinking and allows you to order more. You can’t help but wonder how long it will be until no-goodniks start penetrating these (I’m guessing here) loosely-secured devices and charging their wine to your account—or until legit Kuvée owners start blaming hackers for that case of the good stuff they drunkenly purchased the night before.

About the Author

Rich Freeman is ChannelPro's Senior News Editor