To you, it looks like laziness. To us, it looks like reveling in the calm before the storm. With America’s birthday shortening the week and the news frenzy that is Microsoft’s Worldwide Partner Conference looming on the horizon, we treated ourselves to an easygoing, feet-up-on-the-desk kind of week here at ChannelPro, and therefore never told you about this giant batch of noteworthy stories.
Which begins with an interesting product launch from Microsoft. Called Dynamics 365, and available this fall, the new online offering rolls Microsoft’s current CRM and ERP solutions together into a single service that also comes with a set of new mix-and-match apps for business functions like sales, finance, operations, and customer service. Microsoft’s Power BI and Cortana Intelligence systems provide predictive advice and insights, while integration with Office 365 embeds email, videoconferencing, and other collaboration tools seamlessly within business workflows.
We expect—or at least hope—to learn more about matters like plans, pricing, and margins at WPC.
Microsoft isn’t the only vendor getting warmed up for WPC either. In addition to Rackspace, which as we told you yesterday is now offering 2-Tier distribution services to members of Microsoft’s Cloud Solution Provider program, there was also early-bird news from:
- Acer, which unveiled a slick new line of TravelMate X3 commercial notebooks (pictured) for SMBs, with an all-aluminum chassis and up to 10 hours of battery life. They’ll be available for fondling next week at booth 1509 in the WPC expo hall.
- Arrow Electronics and Equinix, which have jointly introduced preconfigured hybrid cloud packages featuring Hewlett Packard Enterprise hardware and software. You can check them out at WPC booth 1410.
- ClearDB, which makes cloud-based database technologies and has just rolled out its first partner program. They’d be more than happy to discuss it with you, too, at booth 1534.
- Conexlink, which has released version 2.0 of MyCloudIT, its Azure-based desktop hosting delivery program. Stop by booth 1625 if you’d like to learn more.
And now back to Microsoft. Because they also let us know this week that:
- Skype Meetings (pictured), a free Skype audio and videoconferencing tool, is now available to small businesses in the U.S. The new system, which supports meetings for up to 10 people for the first 60 days and up to three people afterwards, is apparently designed to serve as a sort of appetite stimulant for the much more robust Skype for Business solution that ships with many Office 365 plans.
- AppSource, a new online storefront for line-of-business SaaS apps from Microsoft and its partners, is now open for business.
- The Secure Productive Enterprise, a new license offering that combines Office 365, Windows 10 Enterprise, and Microsoft’s Enterprise Mobility + Security suite in a single SKU, will join the company’s existing family of licensing schemes later this year. The new offering comes in two flavors named E3 and E5 in a deliberate echo of the better-known Office 365 plans with those names. The Secure Productive Enterprise E3 plan replaces the Enterprise Cloud Suite Microsoft introduced in 2014.
- Always Encrypted, a new security feature in Azure SQL Database that keeps sensitive data encrypted not only in transit and at rest but during query processing as well, is now in general availability. The system decrypts data in real time at the point of use, and reportedly requires minimal application modifications.
- Azure Container Service for Windows Server containers, which is pretty much exactly what it sounds like and supports both DC/OS and Docker Swarm container technology, is now in limited preview.
But why should Microsoft have all the fun? These other companies made product news this week too:
- GIGABYTE shipped the first PC power supply from its XTREME GAMING product family plus two new GeForce GTX 1070 gaming-grade graphics cards. It also previewed the forthcoming GeForce GTX 1060 G1 graphics card.
- HTC announced the new Desire 530 smartphone (pictured), which comes with a 5-inch display, HTC BoomSound technology, and “micro splash” styling that probably isn’t meant to cover up for you when you get flecks of food and coffee on it, but will do so just the same.
- K2 added enhanced mobile functionality, new app starter kits, deeper DocuSign integration, and more integration tools to its Appit workflow app development solution.
- Nintex announced an upcoming workflow analytics service named Hawkeye that helps companies assess the contents and efficiency of their business processes.
- ProfitBricks revealed that its infrastructure-as-a-service solution now offers Intel Xeon processors and storage on solid-state drives.
- Samsung introduced what it calls “the industry’s first removable memory cards based on the JEDEC Universal Flash Storage (UFS) 1.0 Card Extension Standard.” Which basically means they’re fast—according to Samsung, the 256 GB model performs random reads more than 20 times quicker than typical microSDs.
- Vuzix began selling its new M300 Smart Glasses, augmented reality devices with built-in GPS, expandable memory, high-definition recording and playback, and wireless connectivity to other devices and Wi-Fi networks.
Meanwhile, in happier news from the vendor community. There’s this:
- Avnet named Steve Gomez (pictured) its new to senior vice president of sales.
- eSentire and Garland Technology announced a partnership that will integrate the latter’s network test access points with the former’s threat detection and remediation solution.
This week’s stats ticker:
- Global IT spending will come in at a flat $3.41 trillion this year, according to Gartner.
- More than 112 million records were stolen from U.S. healthcare organizations in 2015, according to Panda Security.
- Software-defined WAN revenues will reach $6 billion in 2020, according to IDC.
The fact that they don’t actually hover should have been a clue. Here are some further proof points that hoverboards truly are the lamest gizmo trend to come around in a long, long while:
- Airlines rank them right up there with explosives and hazardous chemicals as carry-on no-nos.
- Justin Bieber digs them. (This should probably be case closed, right?)
- Judging by the U.S. Consumer Protection Agency’s recall this week of 500,000 of them, this SNL bit is starting to look more like documentary than comedy: