OK, so we didn’t get around to covering some pretty big news this week involving names like Microsoft, Amazon Web Services, and VMware. But can you blame us? Someone posted video of steel wool burning, and we can’t seem to stop watching it. Over. And. Over. Again. Not easy, but we’ll tear ourselves away now just long enough to take you through everything we should have shared with you earlier.
Sneak preview. The big news from Microsoft was word that its Dynamics 365 business management solution debuts on November 1st. Said word arrived on Tuesday, as Microsoft gave the world its first peek at the new offering, which will soon join Office 365 and Azure as a core pillar of Microsoft’s cloud portfolio.
And at first glance, it looks pretty robust for a 1.0 release! The system lets businesses quickly snap together building block apps to create personalized, integrated, role-specific solutions for functions like sales, accounting, field service, and customer support that you can run in a browser or through mobile apps for Windows, iOS, and Android. The whole thing draws on advanced analytics and machine learning technology to deliver insights and automation on demand, and connects to an app store that already contains over 100 solutions from Microsoft and third-party developers.
About that store: Called AppSource, it’s one of the top Dynamics 365-related profit opportunities for Microsoft partners, and not just for ISVs, because we learned this week that integrators can promote service offerings there as well. And if you don’t want to get your hands dirty installing and customizing Dynamics 365, you can still make a little money reselling it via Microsoft’s Cloud Solution Provider program. All in all, quite frankly, it’s hard to think of a recent addition to the Microsoft product lineup with greater potential upside for its channel.
It wasn’t all smiley faces on the cloud front for Microsoft, though. Two days after the big Dynamics 365 reveal, Amazon Web Services CEO Andy Jassy (pictured left) and VMware CEO Pat Gelsinger (pictured right) snatched away the spotlight by announcing a major new alliance that makes VMware’s software-defined data center stack available on Amazon’s public cloud. Or rather, will make. The new service, which will be sold and supported by VMware and integrates with VMware-based private clouds, is in technical preview at the moment and won’t officially launch until the middle of next year some time. No word on pricing yet, either.
Still, this can’t be a welcome development in Redmond. A week ago at this time, Microsoft had a true, integrated hybrid cloud platform that seamlessly merged the Azure public cloud with on-premises systems like Windows Server, while AWS was public cloud only. That differentiator is set to disappear now, however. To make matters worse, moreover, the AWS-VMware hybrid cloud platform combines the market leader in public cloud technology with the market leader in virtualization (if not private cloud) technology, more or less instantly turning Microsoft’s once unique hybrid cloud offering into a kind of runner up.
Does VMware have the technical support chops and street-level partners it needs to keep AWS customers happy? We’ll see next year, but you can bet the Softies are hoping the answer is no.
Meanwhile, you’ve got to pity the Microsoft employees responsible for these announcements. Because they kind of got overshadowed by all the Dynamics 365 excitement. You might find it interesting nonetheless to know that:
- Azure has a new compliance tracking and education tool and Yammer has new compliance auditing and reporting capabilities.
- Azure AD Domain Services, which lets you integrate onsite and cloud-hosted Active Directories among other things, is now in general availability.
- A whole new set of tools for turning kids into coders is ready for use too.
- Windows 10 Anniversary Update has finally reached the Surface Hub (pictured), the wall-mounted, decidedly not mobile member of Microsoft’s Surface hardware family.
Under the radar. With all the chatter about Microsoft and Amazon and cloud computing going on, you could easily have missed the concentrated little burst of new stuff from Dell EMC this week, which included:
- A free software update for its midrange Unity all-flash storage products with new inline compression functionality and new storage analytics solution.
- A family of new flash-based data protection storage devices that includes a model priced and scaled for SMBs and new policy-based tiering software for those devices that lets you connect local storage arrays to leading public cloud environments.
We could be wrong, and in fact usually are, but suspect this launch wave was meant to whet our appetite for more and bigger announcements headed our way next week at the big Dell World—make that Dell EMC World—user and partner event.
Even deeper under the radar. Needless to say, all sorts of goodies from other vendors reached market this week too. For example:
- Adar shipped a new administrative portal for its Nerdio hosted IT-as-a-service platform (and won ChannelPro’s Trademark Gold Star of the Week, which we just invented right this second, for the awesome name "Nerdio").
- Canon Business Process Services released a new reporting tool that helps users benchmark and streamline document-focused workflows.
- Citrix rolled out an affordably priced new SD-WAN appliance for branch offices and an updated edition of its NetScaler SD-WAN software.
- Dataguise integrated open source security and performance monitoring system Apache Eagle with its DgSecure Monitor product.
- Fujitsu launched a new line of aggressively priced all-flash storage arrays including an entry-level model that packs 92 TB of raw capacity into a 2U case.
- IBM released a new cloud-based object storage solution that's allegedly 25 percent cheaper than comparable services.
- Insightly upgraded the security capabilities of its CRM software for SMBs.
- Intel introduced the Intel Falcon 8+ (pictured), a commercial drone for the North American market.
- Lenovo announced a hosted version of its Unified Workspace solution.
- ManageEngine added support for security-enhancing smart cards to its Active Directory management and reporting solution, and new ticketing and reporting functionality to its ADManager Plus mobile apps.
- MobileIron introduced a solution that helps technicians administer mobile and desktop devices running Windows 10 through a single console.
- RingCentral added Android and iOS mobile apps for its RingCentral team messaging platform, RingCentral Glip.
- Seagate shipped two super skinny hard drives, a 5 TB model in both 7mm internal and 15mm external form factors and a 2 TB model that the manufacturer calls the “fastest, thinnest and lightest 2TB hard drive on the market today.”
- Toshiba released a new wireless docking station with support for up to 7 peripherals and prices that start at $299.99.
The vendor community was abuzz as ever with non-product news too this week. For instance, we learned that:
- Cirrus has launched a new global partner program with three membership tiers and a forthcoming online portal that will provide access to leads, deal registration, training resources, and marketing materials.
- Workspace-as-a-service vendor CloudJumper has launched a partner program for MSPs, ISVs, and IT service providers.
- Thin client computing vendor IGEL has announced a new North American partner program of its own.
- CloudJumper competitor itopia has secured $3.5 million in funding from angel investors, much of which it plans to invest in channel development.
- LogMeIn has introduced an integration partner program for its join.me online meeting service and signed Slack, HipChat, and Trello as charter members.
- net2phone and master agent Telecom Consulting Group have sealed a deal to offer the former company's hosted PBX and SIP trunking services to the latter company's partners.
- Cloud and Internet of Things technical services provider PlumChoice has received a fresh round of capital from its current investor owners.
- Sharp Electronics Corporation has named Doug Albregts (pictured), who is already and will remain president of Sharp Imaging and Information Company of America, its new president and CEO.
- StorageCraft, fresh off the unveiling of its alliance pact with Exablox, has made Jawaad Tariq its new vice president of engineering.
- Unigma has appointed Kaseya and CA veteran Matthew Albritton its new vice president of sales.
This week’s stats ticker:
- 41 million U.S. adults have been victims of identity theft, according to Bankrate.com.
- 80 percent of IT professionals have had end users go behind their back to set up unauthorized cloud services, according to Spiceworks.
- Global 3D printer shipments will climb 108 percent this year, according to Gartner.
Finally, a truly useful algorithm. First the good news: Two computer scientists have solved a surprisingly difficult mathematical puzzle by devising a darn near perfect, envy-free formula for divvying up a cake fairly. Now the bad news: The number of cuts it requires you to make, even if only a handful of people are eating, is greater than the number of atoms in the universe. So, um, I guess we’ll have to resign ourselves to more envy for now. Or less cake.