IT and Business Insights for SMB Solution Providers

ICYMI: Our Channel News Roundup for the Week of October 24th

News dumps from Microsoft, Apple, IBM, and others, scary Halloween-themed statistics, and two nearly simultaneous announcements sure to have brought a smile to Jeff Spicoli’s face are among the stories we didn’t get around to covering this week. By Rich Freeman

So there we were, all set to apologize once more for not bringing you such an oversized hunk of the week’s tech industry stories, when the root of our persistent failing finally occurred to us. And sorry, dear reader, but it’s you. Yes, you, with your insatiable desire for ChannelPro’s take on the latest doings in the world of IT. I mean, if you’d just spend your time playing computerized miniature golf like a sensible person we wouldn’t have to go through this exercise every week. But since you seem to get at least a little value out of our Friday headline roundup, we’ll strain ourselves to pull one together for you yet again.

Surface StudioBig names, big news. If there’s a theme to this week’s ICYMI it’s giant vendors dumping giant—or at least large—volumes of news on us all at once. And if there’s a theme to Microsoft’s news dump it’s the joy of creativity, which the software, and now hardware, maker aims to help customers experience more richly with the help of new additions to its Surface device line and a new version of its Windows 10 operating system.

On the Surface front, the newcomers include the Surface Studio, a slick all-in-one PC with an adjustable 28-inch display, NVIDIA GeForce GPU, 4.5k ultra HD screen, and somewhat hefty price $2,999-and-up price tag. A nifty looking little peripheral named the Surface Dial lets users of the Studio and other Surface devices access tools, rotate images, and otherwise interact with whatever they have on their display, while an upgraded Surface Book PC delivers longer battery life, faster processing speeds, and enhanced graphics performance.

As for Windows 10, Microsoft previewed a Creators Update edition that will arrive as a free upgrade early next year. The new OS will offer more than we can get into here, but suffice it to say the top features mostly have to do with 3D imagery, as well as mixed reality experiences brought to life by new headsets from Acer, ASUS, Dell, HP, and Lenovo.

In keeping with the whole artistic expression motif, you can color us impressed, Microsoft. On (virtual) paper, at least, it looks like you’ve given yourself a shot to surpass Apple as the go-to source of cool devices and software for creative professionals. Now let’s see how many of those creative professionals signal their agreement by taking advantage of Microsoft’s MacBook trade-in offer.

Meanwhile, in lesser news from Microsoft this week…There was this:

Apple MacBook ProGood, Bad, and Ugly. One day after Microsoft’s launch event, Apple unwrapped three slender new MacBook Pro laptops with a dynamically adaptable, hi-res Touch Bar in place of the function keys. Alas, that debut occurred one day after word arrived that the hardware maker’s new wireless iPhone earbuds will reach stores later than expected and two days after a disappointing quarterly earnings report dragged down the company’s stock price, and with it the entire Dow Jones industrial average.

Johnnies on the spot. Those would be Kensington and LG. The former already has a locking solution out for the brand spankin’ new Surface Studio while the latter has shipped 4K and 5K displays for use with those spiffy new MacBook Pros.

It’s Watson’s world. We’re all just living in it. Or so implied IBM this week at its World of Watson event in Las Vegas, during which it unveiled a herd of new Watson-powered offerings, including:

Ricoh MP 6503Anyone know what got into Ricoh this week? Because they glommed onto the too-much-is-just-enough headline generation game too by announcing:

  • The release of not one but two new families of multifunction printers equipped with a “Smart Operation Panel” that business can use to streamline common tasks, create customized workflows, and access information in the cloud.
  • The launch of a new suite of applications for use with those Smart Operation Panel-equipped MFPs.
  • The introduction of a new compact series of color laser printers ideal for use in small offices.

Hang in there, people! We’ve got one more news barrage for you, this time from Intuit, which at its QuickBooks Connect conference in San Jose announced:

  • The addition of AMEX Working Capital and BlueVine Flex Credit to the QuickBooks Financing platform, which lets business use QuickBooks data to apply for loans and credit lines.
  • New integrations with Apple Pay and Google’s G Suite.
  • An especially deep new integration between QuickBooks and PayPal aimed at helping small businesses get paid for goods and services more easily.
  • An extra, extra deep integration between QuickBooks Online Accountant, QuickBooks Self-Employed, and Intuit ProConnect Tax Online that’s designed to turn the three solutions into a unified, multi-pronged platform for bookkeeping, tax preparation, and practice management.

Google JamboardAll evidence to the contrary this week, some vendors still do product launches one at a time. For instance:

  • Belkin rolled out a new docking station for notebooks equipped with a Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) port.
  • Brocade enhanced its Cloudpath Enrollment System, which grants BYOD devices secure, policy-based access to wired and wireless networks.
  • Epson launched a new family of projectors for classrooms and conference rooms with HDMI connectivity, HD 1080p resolution, and built-in Wi-Fi connectivity. 
  • Extreme Networks introduced a money and labor-saving 802.11ac Wave2 AP with an integrated high-definition camera.
  • Google previewed a big new touchscreen display (pictured) that integrates with G Suite productivity apps.
  • Hewlett Packard Enterprise shipped a new edition of its Helion OpenStack private cloud solution with enhanced security and management functionality as well as built-in integration with third-party load balancing and software-defined networking software.
  • Kerio releases an updated version of its Kerio Connect messaging and collaboration solution featuring a new stand-alone desktop application, integration with Cisco's Spark unified communication platform, a smart mobile email client, and new remote cloud management functionality. 
  • OwnCloud added graphical data change tracking functionality and enhanced metadata restore capabilities to its cloud-to-cloud BDR solution.
  • Pure Storage introduced a managed OpenStack-based private cloud solution in partnership with Cisco, and an OpenStack-based private cloud appliance in partnership with Breqwatr.
  • Samsung brought its stylus-equipped and non-exploding 10.1-inch Galaxy Tab A to U.S. shores.
  • Scale Computing released a new single node hyperconverged infrastructure appliance.
  • Zendesk adopted a new logo and shipped two new business intelligence solutions.

Victoria GreyWait, you mean vendors do stuff other than launch products? Yup.

  • Avnet announced a vertical industry analytics program that will provide training, pipeline development support, pre- and post-sales services, and more to IBM channel partners.
  • CoreDial launched a partner program for resellers of its hosted PBX solutions, VoIP, and SIP trunking services.
  • Container management software maker DH2i launched a partner program of its own.
  • MSPAlliance introduced a new monthly billing option for channel pros pursuing its MSP/Cloud Verify certification, as well as a new Slack channel that MSP/Cloud Verify members can use to collaborate and socialize.
  • Nexsan (re) appointed Victoria Grey (pictured) to be its CMO.
  • Zenefits and Expensify unveiled a strategic alliance to integrate the former's HR software with the latter's expense reporting solution.

This week’s stats ticker:

  • Nearly 40 percent of U.S. channel executives say cloud computing is the number one reason to be optimistic about the channel's future, according to CompTIA.
  • About a third of U.S. channel executives say cloud computing is one of the top reasons to be pessimistic about the channel's future, according to the same dang CompTIA study.
  • 38 percent of small businesses and 79 percent of midsize firms have experienced a mobility-related security breach in the last year, according to Techaisle.
  • 82 percent of email servers analyzed by KnowBe4 were misconfigured in a way that exposed them to spoofing attacks.

And in honor of Halloween. Here are two fright-related bonus stats:

  • 30 percent of IT decision makers believe desktop computers will be ghostly remnants of the corporate past within two years, according to Finn Partners.
  • 23 percent of U.S. small business owners say nothing scares them more right now than the upcoming presidential election, according to SurePayroll.

Jeff SpicoliBest. News. Ever. For Jeff Spicoli, anyway. Because the world learned this week that Eaze, the marijuana delivery service sometimes referred to as “Uber for weed,” has received a fresh round of venture capital on the very same day that General Mills announced it will be introducing a Girl Scout cookie BREAKFAST CEREAL. And yes, that’s medical marijuana that Eaze brings to your doorstep and those Thin Mints and Caramel Crunch cereals (made with whole grain!) are available for a limited time only, but with 9 states just days away from voting on some form of legalized pot it would appear serendipity has conspired to ensure that many of us spend a lot of time affixed to our couches satisfying our munchies while happily binge watching…well, anything really.

About the Author

Rich Freeman is ChannelPro's Executive Editor

ChannelPro SMB Magazine
SUBSCRIBE FREE!

Get an edge on the competition

With each issue packed full of powerful news, reviews, analysis and advice targeting IT channel professionals, ChannelPro-SMB will help you cultivate your SMB customers and run your business more profitably.