Ever wonder who eats those holiday fruitcakes people are re-gifting all the time? It’s us. Yep, somehow or another they all find their way to ChannelPro headquarters and we just can’t resist diving in. The unfortunate consequence, however, is that we’re a bit too logy afterwards to cover the news. Here’s a rundown of what we were too fat and happy to write about this week.
Relax, people. Amazon Web Services may have entered the managed services market on Monday, but they’re not coming anywhere near any of your customers any time soon. The public cloud giant’s new AWS Managed Services offering explicitly targets “the Fortune 1000 and the Global 2000,” not SMBs, and while it leans heavily on automation and machine learning it still requires the efforts of “a dedicated team of Amazon employees.” Sure, you can’t rule out anything entirely when it comes to a company capable of replacing delivery people with drones, but it’s hard to imagine even Amazon achieving the kind of scale required to do all the tasks an MSP performs cost-effectively for hundreds of thousands of small businesses, versus three thousand big ones.
On the other hand, if you’re an Amazon managed services partner with a focus on the enterprise market, you might have cause for a little anxiety.
Mojo Ryzen? Back in September, four months after longtime processor kingpin Intel announced massive layoffs in connection with a strategic shift from PC computing to the cloud and Internet of Things, ChannelPro’s James Gaskin made a prescient observation.
“Intel is certainly not getting out of the PC business” he wrote. “But if management ignores the company’s declining but still lucrative PC market for too long, attention and loyalty may wander before other revenues fill the gap.”
This week we got a glimpse of some AMD products that might—and we emphasize might—steal away some of Intel’s attention and loyalty when the underdog chipmaker shared new details about forthcoming desktop and notebook processors based on its “Zen” architecture, which collectively will be known by the brand name Ryzen.
They were eye-catching too. According to AMD, Ryzen CPUs will deliver a 40 percent improvement in instructions per clock thanks to an embedded basket of “sensing, adapting, and learning technologies” it calls SenseMI that includes neural network functionality, a “Precision Boost” feature that optimizes clock speeds up to 1,000 times a second, and “Smart Prefetch” algorithms that anticipate application requirements based on past behavior and get soon-to-be-needed data ready in advance.
Intriguing stuff. So intriguing, in fact, that it all but completely overshadowed the also intriguing new server GPU accelerators AMD unveiled this week, which are carefully tailored to the needs of high-speed “machine intelligence” applications.
Make no mistake, Intel has some interesting PC initiatives of its own underway, including that “merged reality” project it’s got going with Microsoft, and its new Kaby Lake platforms are a nice step forward too. But don’t be surprised if Ryzen poses a serious and unaccustomed challenge for Intel in the desktop and notebook markets next year.
And now on to the other half of the Wintel alliance. When it wasn’t taking steps to build an ecosystem around its Cortana virtual assistant in a bid to vault past Amazon and Google in the market for home automation or boasting about how well its Surface products are selling these days, Microsoft was adding a bunch of new features to its ever-expanding Azure platform, including:
- Message routing for Internet of Things solutions.
- Certificate-based authentication for Azure Active Directory entries.
- Risk-based conditional access functionality that “ensures that only the right users, on the right devices, under the right circumstances have access to your sensitive corporate data.”
- New tools for streamlining Electronic Data Interchange and business-to-business transactions.
- A free addition to the Dynamics 365 platform that lets you automatically replicate data to Power BI analytics solutions hosted on Azure SQL databases.
And just because Azure shouldn’t have all the fun, Microsoft tacked some new tools for reviewing student work and other enhancements onto its Class Notebook for OneNote add-in too.
Speaking of fun…Check out all these developments from the world of hardware, software, and services:
- Acer unveiled its TravelMate P4 series of slim new 14-inch and 15.6-inch commercial notebooks.
- Avnet released a new starter kit for embedded solutions based on the UltraZed-EG System on Module.
- Concerto Cloud Services unveiled a new hybrid cloud solution for healthcare organizations with industry-specific security and regulatory compliance functionality.
- Epson, within hours of releasing new small office/home office document scanners, also announced a new classroom projector offering up to 10,000 hours of lamp life.
- EventTracker launched a new managed security service combining SIEM technology, intrusion detection, vulnerability scanning, flow analysis, and more.
- Impartner added a new partner locator tool to the Salesforce AppExchange.
- Nokia made its triumphant return to the cell phone market with a throwback handset bearing a physical keyboard (pictured).
- Salesforce introduced a new tool for conversing with customers via SMS and messaging apps, and an enhanced edition of its Marketing Cloud.
- Slack equipped its collaboration platform with video calling functionality.
- Swiftpage launched a new service that lets users of its Act! customer and contact management software generate sales leads via Facebook.
- Unitrends shipped new and 100 percent faster purpose-built backup appliances with integrated hybrid cloud functionality and tiered flash storage.
- Uplevel Systems released a Small Business Server-like readymade IT infrastructure solution for SMBs.
- ViewSonic announced three slender new all-in-one digital signage displays.
Want a little more fun? Of course you do, but you’ll have to settle for these noteworthy vendor news tidbits instead:
- ADTRAN executive Mike Foliano (pictured) has been elected to the executive board of the QuEST Forum, an industry group dedicated to “rapid industry adoption of new technologies and consistent quality of communication networks around the world.”
- Datto and Armor have both signed on as supporting partners of the No More Ransom project, a European public/private collaboration aimed at preventing ransomware and helping victims avoid paying their attackers.
- Nasuni has landed $25 million in new financing, mostly through a Series E equity round.
- PlumChoice has named Dave Hauser its new vice president of cloud services.
This week’s stats ticker:
- 40 percent of U.S. SMBs use managed services at present and another 38 percent have considered it, according to CompTIA.
- 33 percent of technology decision-makers in the U.S. think IT consultants are too hardware-focused and 24 percent feel they don't emphasize cloud solutions enough, according to Intermedia.
- Demand for capital among small businesses is at a four-year high but bank loan success rates are at an all-time low, according to Dun & Bradstreet and the Pepperdine Graziadio School of Business and Management.
It’s the most wonderful time of the year. If you’re into search stats, anyhow. If you’re not, then the annual search trend compilations Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo have all published recently probably won’t do much for you. I mean, how surprised are we supposed to be that the presidential election and Donald Trump were Yahoo’s top searches of 2016, or that Trump trailed only Pokemon Go and the iPhone 7 on Google’s list?
On the other hand, if you’re looking for some search data that’s genuinely fascinating, in a somewhat mysterious way, head over to Google’s “breakout search” page and sort the results by region. Then spend a little time contemplating why there was a giant spike in “fanny pack” searches in Spain, “Hotel California” searches in Sri Lanka, and “Tarzan” searches in Moldova this year. Planet Earth is a strange and wonderful place, is it not?