You know how it is. One minute you have all the time in the world to finish everything on your to-do list and the next it’s Friday and you’re apologizing to your readers once more for all the SMB channel stories you never got around to reporting this week. Ah, well. Here’s our latest batch.
New Microsoft, old Microsoft. It’s not exactly dogs and cats living together, but it sure felt close when news broke Monday that Microsoft’s SQL Server database would be available on Linux by the middle of next year. Yet that turned out not to be the only Kumbaya story out of Redmond this week. On Tuesday, the company revealed that it’s now a full-fledged member of the Eclipse Foundation, a non-profit organization responsible for an integrated development environment that competes with Microsoft’s Visual Studio and utilizes Java instead of Microsoft’s .NET.
Now, we realize both moves make perfect sense given that Linux and Eclipse are popular among developers, that Microsoft Azure already supports them both, and that Microsoft wants to make Azure as friendly to cloud coders as possible. And we know as well that under the leadership of Satya Nadella Microsoft has been energetically shipping apps for competing OSes. Still, some of us old-timers found ourselves rubbing our eyes in disoriented wonder just the same.
And then, in another perfectly sensible move that restored some order to the universe, Microsoft revealed yesterday that it’s handing out SQL Server licenses to Oracle users for free (provided they buy a subscription to the company’s Software Assurance maintenance program). Sacrificing revenue in a cutthroat bid to seize market share from a bitter rival? Now that’s the Microsoft I know so well.
Silver linings. In a new study published on Monday, Synergy Research Group had bad news mixed with good for Microsoft. Frowny face: Cisco has widened its lead in the collaboration space. Smiley face: Microsoft is the leader in the hosted/cloud collaboration segment.
And they’re not resting on their laurels, either. Indeed, Microsoft had lots to say this week about conferencing and communication. Fans of the company’s Office 365 Enterprise E5 plan, which includes hosted PBX functionality and access to PSTN calling plans, will be pleased to know that it will also come with auto attendant functionality as of April. The absence of that feature has kept some partners from recommending E5 to their customers since the offering debuted late last year.
Also coming from Microsoft next month is the Cloud Connector Edition of Skype for Business Server, a lightweight tool for linking existing phone lines and numbers to Office 365. And later this year, vendors including Logitech and Polycom will begin shipping products affiliated with Project Rigel, a Microsoft initiative aimed at bringing all the Skype meeting slickness enabled by Microsoft’s Surface Hub product to other manufacturer’s displays and projectors.
Wait, you want more conferencing products? This turned out to be an unexpectedly good week for them:
- 8x8 introduced its cloud-based Virtual Office Meetings solution, which will bring 720p video and content sharing functionality to mobile users. (The company added new capabilities to its Virtual Contact Center offering this week as well, by the way).
- Logitech announced its new ConferenceCam Kit, which bundles one of its ConferenceCam devices with an Intel NUC mini-PC and a copy of Intel’s Unite collaboration application, giving businesses a quick, cost-effective way to equip conference rooms for video meetings.
- Sennheiser unveiled TeamConnect Wireless, a portable, cable-free solution that enables users to host audio conferences in pretty much any room anywhere.
Office automation sensations. Perhaps this week’s ITEX conference in Fort Lauderdale was responsible, or maybe it was simply kismet, but HP Inc. was but one of many manufacturers to roll out new printers and document management products this week. Others included:
- Fujitsu, which released PaperStream Server, a new Web-based document scanning and processing solution.
- Ricoh, which introduced a new family of multifunction printers for the education market designed to integrate with learning management systems, cloud storage repositories, and print management systems.
- Xerox, which launched its i-Series multifunction printers, SMB-targeted devices equipped with new mobile print options and built-in functionality for automatically translating documents into over 35 languages, as well as customization tools that channel pros can use to tailor printers to the needs of particular customers or vertical industries.
No, actually, we’re not done with product news yet. Not, at least, until we mention that Kaspersky Lab released an update to its Internet Security for Android solution that lets users see threat warnings on their smartwatch and that Seagate showed off what it claims to be the world’s fastest SSD.
Change of direction. Or make that directors. On Wednesday, CompTIA introduced its board members for 2016-17. The most noteworthy (not to mention praiseworthy) change? Amy Kardel, co-founder of San Luis Obispo, California-based solution provider Clever Ducks, becomes just the third woman ever to serve as board chair.
This week’s stats ticker:
- Worldwide server revenue rose eight percent in 2015 and server shipments climbed 4.9 percent to a record high of 9.7 million units, according to IDC.
- Nearly 80 percent of decision-makers worry about uploading data to the public cloud, and 58 percent are more worried than they were last year, according to Dell.
- The global predictive analytics market will grow at a blistering 27.4% CAGR from $2.74 billion in 2015 to $9.20 billion in 2020, according to Research and Markets.
- By 2018, chip makers will be shipping over 1 trillion semiconductors a year, according to IC Insights. Read that one more time. 1 trillion.
We know, we know. Enough with the robots already. And we were going to let the subject drop after two straight weeks of warnings that we really must stop working so hard at designing killer machines that can follow you as you flee. And then, in the same week we learned that Google has successfully taught a computer to outthink a Go master, Travelzoo published a survey revealing that global travelers are “largely comfortable” with robots playing a role in their vacations, with 76 percent and 81 percent of respondents respectively saying robots have better memories and “untiring energy” that give them an edge over human bellhops, waiters, and flight attendants.
Hmm. Long memory? Untiring energy? All I’m saying is tip generously the next time you encounter a robot at a hotel. You really don’t want to give these things any more reason to come after you on the day they finally unleash their patiently hatched plan to cast us all into oblivion.