Stories by Andrew Hendry

Trend Micro preps Affinity official partner program launch

Security vendor, Trend Micro, will take the wrappers off its new Affinity channel partner program next week on the back a 20 per cent headcount increase across the entire business. The new program was soft launched at the beginning of the year to gauge partner feedback, but the Australia and New Zealand extension of its global partner program will be formally released next week at a gathering of senior channel executives in the Hunter Valley. The program will involve three membership levels – Affinity, AffinityPLUS and AffinityONE – each based on status and revenue patterns, while not-for-resale and market development fund programs have been remodelled. “We’ve got a rebate structure which includes lead referral rebates, product push rebates, volume rebates and a raft of incentives for our partners. We’ve got very generous margins for partners structured according to status, and we’ve streamlined the margin structure from last year as well,” says A/NZ key partner manager Adam Biviano. “The program is designed to attack all angles of our partners, right from sales and marketing down to technical.” The company has added personnel to all business sections including major accounts, enterprise, SMB, consumer, channel management, marketing and technical services. Dedicated channel account managers for all global system integration channels and key channel partners have been added, to give Trend Micro’s core group of 40-50 partners more face-to-face interaction with the vendor. A new channel marketing manager is on-board, and a channel training specialist will provide educational sessions to partners. Service engineers have been added in the majority of locations nationally to increase technical support for customers. There's also dedicated phone support for more than 2000 small business resellers. Biviano says the demand for higher staff numbers and increased support services came from the increasing emergence of Web-based threats and the subsequent popularity of Trend Micro’s Smart Protection Network initiative. “We’ve been talking about the Web-based threat vector for quite some time. Back in 2006 we identified the fact that this was going to get worse,” Biviano says.

McAfee to launch new partner portal

Security vendor, McAfee, will roll out a new partner portal designed to completely automate the way it interacts with partners. It will also continue consolidation throughout 2009. McAfee’s Asia Pacific channel director, Andrew Littleproud, said the new portal will be rolled out to premier and elite partners this quarter, andl become standard for all partners from April 1. “If you think about usual partner programs and the elements of how you interact with partners, if you can automate much of that, it makes the partner’s job a lot easier,” he said. The new portal will feature automated deal registration, automatic renewals online, price configuration and partners can also become certified online. “It will basically automate the [partner] program itself. So we can track how many people are certified through the system. It can flag when you fall out and need to re-certify staff and things like that,” Littleproud said. The overhaul of the partner portal was motivated by partner feedback, he said, as was the decision to introduce classroom training. “We’ve got online training but our partners across the region have been asking for consistent classroom training and we’ve just revamped our partner training program so that we can now provide, free of charge, classroom training for our partners which will allow them to go deeper in terms of certification levels on McAfee products and solutions,” he said. Coming off the back of strong Q3, 2008, results in which McAfee grew its business by 27 per cent, Littleproud signalled the vendor’s intentions to continue consolidation within the security industry throughout 2009. “We’ve just completed the acquisition of Secure Computing and before that we acquired Reconnex and SafeBoot, all in the space of 12 months," he said. “I think if you look at the state of the security industry there is still quite a lot of fragmentation and boutique players out there. McAfee is definitely acquiring and building out a wider solution portfolio, so we’re being the consolidator in that respect.”

Linux.conf.au lineup ready to go

The organising committee for Linux.conf.au (LCA) have finalised the program for the conference to be held at the University of Tasmania's Sandy Bay campus from January 19-24.

Australian innovation plummeting: Optus

The tit-for-tat war of words between Telstra and Optus over the National Broadband Network process continued last week at the 2008 Australian Telecommunications Summit, as Optus' head of government and regulatory affairs, Maha Krishnapillai, warned that Telstra's submission for an open access NBN is akin to free and open elections in Zimbabwe.

Privacy laws to address the human side of IT

The Australian Law Reform Commission this week concluded its largest ever research and public consultation exercise ever with the launch of its report For Your Information: Australian Privacy Law and Practice, which recommends a re-write of the nation's 20-year-old privacy laws to keep pace with the information age.

New online code of practice in Australia

The Communications minister has signaled the government's support for the Content Services Code, an Internet Industry Association code of practice for providers of online and mobile phone content.

Survey: Aussie IT industry lacking in confidence

The overall sentiment regarding key company performance indicators like sales and profitability growth amongst Australia's ICT industry has deteriorated by about 10 percent over the past year, according to the latest bi-annual KPMG Communications Alliance Industry Pulse Survey.

Australian VoIP online directory service launched

A new online services directory, dubbed FreeConnect, has been launched, claiming to be Australia's first online VoIP directory service. FreeConnect is a free portal for businesses to connect with potential customers via telephone, e-mail, SMS and VoIP. The service allows businesses to post contact and services information, photographs, payment options and company history. Consumers can search FreeConnect's national online database by business type, keyword, location or service nature. Once an appropriate business is found, FreeConnect can contact the consumer and initiate a connection between them and the business. Searching the service is free, with charges incurred once the service connects a customer to a company. A A$99 (US$95) advance payment gives a business up to $175 credit, with amounts deducted each time a customer is connected to the business. Fees range from 40 cents for an SMS, to $3 for a voice call. Businesses can specify how and when they wish to be contacted. FreeConnect founder John Kennedy says that with FreeConnect businesses don't pay to list or promote their products and services. "They only pay for the leads that bring new business in the door, which is a results-driven approach that hasn't been available before now," Kennedy says. "Our database already lists most of the businesses operating in Australia, but we want the businesses themselves to visit the site, check their details are accurate, and then add additional information to their listing that will make it easier for people to choose them."