After a year that has seen much of the buzz around Hewlett-Packard Co. (NYSE: HPQ) focused on the software side, hardware was front and centre on day one of the vendor's global partner conference as the vendor launched its new generation of Gen8 servers and announced a new cloud computing partner specialization.
Stories by Jeff Jedras
There's been a change in the channel leadership at enterprise software vendor SAP AG (NYSE: SAP) with the departure this week of Pat Hume, the worldwide channel chief who has led SAP's ongoing transformation from a direct-first company to one that is embracing the indirect go to market, particularly in the small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) space.
While Oracle Corp. (NASDAQ: ORCL) may be a late convert to cloud computing, rival SAP AG (NYSE: SAP) said Tuesday that the cloud will render Oracle's differentiator of owning the entire business intelligence hardware and software stack irrelevant, as it will all exist up in the cloud.
A request by Sun Microsystems that its partners provide it with confidential information about ownership, employees and contractors has angered a number of members of its partner community and left them wondering what right the vendor has to such information.
Until its acquisition of Sun Microsystems closes, executives from Oracle (Nasdaq: ORCL) are staying tight-lipped about their plans for integrating the Sun business, and Sun executives have been equally tight-lipped. But for Sun's Canadian partners, one of the questions that's emerging is around partner culture and the go-to-market approach.
With its acquisition earlier this year of Pure Digital, makers of the Flip line of ultraportable, user-friendly video cameras, Cisco Systems has big plans for the Flip as part of its vision for the connected home. And as the second generation of Flip products hits the Canadian channel, the buzz is likely to continue building. I've used the first generation Flip since last year, and I've come to love it. It's easy to use and portable, and it has accompanied me to many conferences and trade shows, allowing me to compliment my writing with video reports. Among the only points I raised were the inability to charge by USB and the lack of a mic jack for better audio. The VGA picture quality was also a challenge at times. So I was excited to get my hands on the next generation of Flip products recently, and I can report two of my three minor concerns have been addressed. The Flip family has gotten larger and now includes two product groups: Flip Ultra, and Flip Mino. And within each group there are two offerings, one which shoots standard-quality VGA video (640x480) and one which shoots HD (720p) in 16:9 widescreen. We'll review the Ultra at a later date; this review focuses on the Mino. The Mino is about half the size of the Ultra, taking portability to another degree. While the Ultra mesures 107mm x 55mm x 29mm, the Mino is just 101mm x 50mm x 15mm and weighs a scant 93 grams. For the size advantage you do have to accept a smaller screen and 60 minutes of recording time instead of 120 minutes on the ultra, but for the added portability it's a compromise worth considering. I tested the Mino HD, and comparing it to my first generation ultra, the Mino just feels like a sturdier, more durable, higher quality product. The older Ultra felt a little plasticy. The Mino feels substantial. Mine came with a sleek black finish, but it's also available in chrome, and a customized pattern can be applied when ordering online. If you haven't used the Flip before, the user interface is designed to be as easy as possible. The on button on the side activates the camera. You orient the camera using the 1.5" widescreen display. There's no settings to fiddle with after you set the date and time on first use, just point and press the big red button to start and stop recording. A minimal digital zoom is included, but it doesn't move too far. While the Ultra is powered by two AA batteries, the Mino has an internal battery that is charged by the flip-out (hence the name) USB dongle, which also performs your data transfer to the PC. I greatly prefer USB charging, and you can get about two hours on a charge with the MinoHD, and four hours with the non-HD Mino. While the first generation Flip used a codec that caused me much conversion drama before I could bring it into Adobe Premiere for editing, the Mino HD gave me .mp4 files that Premiere had no troubles with at all, allowing me to get right down to editing. And the picture quality the Mino HD produced was beautiful and clear, particularly when viewed on a high-definition display. And if you want to watch your Flip videos directly from the camera on your TV, an output jack and cable are included. The one still missing feature I'd love to see is a microphone jack, so I could connect an external mic for better quality audio. Pure Digital tells me though they intend the Flip to be a primarily consumer offering, so a mic jack is an unlikely addition. I urge them again thought to reconsider. Now, the Flip does have its limits. You'll want to stick to well-lit locations. And if you're aiming to get audio, get close, and try for a quiet location. It comes with a tripod mount, I picked up a $10 tripod at a local store and I found this did wonders for my shaky hand syndrome. Bear those limitations in mind though and the Flip Mino HD is a dream, and a great fit for someone who wants the portable ability to shoot great-quality video without lugging around a full-sized camera. I carry mine everywhere in my jacket pocket. The Mino HD is available now through retail and distribution for US$279.99, while the non-HD Mino model retails for $219.99. s.
With the economic uncertainty many small-and-medium-sized businesses are delaying their PC hardware refresh cycles to save money, but it's a decision that could actually be costlier in the long-run. That's the message that Intel Corp. (NASDAQ: INTC) sent during a recent Web briefing on the SMB PC market, and it's a message that could help resellers and system builders close sales.
With the new "Enabled by SAP Business One" designation and brand for its solution provider program, SAP (NYSE: SAP) hopes to do for the ERP business what Dell did for the PC business.
When I received Panasonic's CF-Y7 for review I was looking forward to pouring water over the keyboard to see if it lived up to its Toughbook brand, but what impressed me most about this notebook was its how little it weighed and its long battery life.
According to IBM chairman and CEO Sam Palmisano the client PC era is over, dead and buried, and not just because the vendor sold its Thinkpad business to Lenovo. Cloud computing is the future, and to underline the point Google CEO and chairman Eric Schmidt shared the keynote stage at Big Blue's partner leadership forum in the US last week.
One year into a two-year plan to revamp its partner program from a volume-based model to one stressing value, Nortel Networks promises it will continue to deliver on its outlined plan of record over the next year.
While the technology is in place, an analyst says getting the channel marketing strategy right may be the real key to success. The past year saw Cisco very busy on the SME front with the launch of Smart Business Communications Services (SBCS), its SME-centric network platform of solutions, as well as its Select Certification program for SME-focused partners. On the Linksys side, the Linksys Connected Office platform targeted at SMEs was re-launched as well as a revamped Linksys partner program designed to better leverage the Cisco relationship. In an interview at C-Scape, Cisco's annual press and industry conference, Rick Moran, vice-president of solutions marketing Cisco Systems, said 2008 should be less busy from a news perspective, with the focus being on tweaking and enhancing the new programs based on partner feedback. "We'll be focusing on better integration of the different divisions that sell to the SME, as well as pulling together the channel programs and messaging,"said Moran, including showing a partner that starts with Linksys, for example, how they can advance to the next stage. "It was rather segregated before." That process has already begun with the recent re-branding of a number of previously standalone brands. New marketing is being developed to tie the previously standalone Ironport, Linksys and Webex brands more closely to the Cisco brand name while still maintaining their own individual identities. "Tying these together is a critical part of where we're going and where we're going to be,"said Moran. "We think it's very important to get a uniform look and feel." In its research on the SME space, Moran said Cisco does have a challenge becoming known as a company that plays in the SME market. They've also identified storage as a key interest area, and learned that the type of partner SMEs like to buy from is different from the partners enterprise companies prefer to work with. "We found a definite division, a lot of SMEs like to buy from VARs that are also SMEs," said Moran, adding that means the support Cisco needs to give those partners is different. The way those partners need to sell to SMEs is also different, he said. While technological talk is already on the outs at the enterprise level with business value becoming the preferred conversation, for the SME it needs to be drilled down even deeper and made relevant to the SME owner. Talking about disaster recovery won't fly. "We're actually rewriting hundreds of documents in our organization to make them more SME friendly," Moran said. Cisco is already a multi-billion dollar business in the SME, but while it has 40 percent penetration in the M segment of SME that rate falls off significantly in the S component. The challenge for Cisco, said Moran, is how far down to segregate that business, and along what lines to take distinct approaches. The need is for both volumes of channel and channels of volume. "I don't know how far we're going to micro segment it," said Moran. "Right now the big thing is showing we've got our bases covered and showing we've got something that suits your needs at this point in time. The opportunity for us is to make those small partners feel we can make them money and grow their business." The challenge more Cisco in the SME is two-fold said Jon Arnold, a Toronto-based analyst with J. Arnold & Associates. They have the technology in place, but the channel strategy will need to be a very different model from what they've been used to in the enterprise space. The second challenge will be selling the marketplace on Cisco (or Linksys) as an SME player. Without the incumbency that its pervasive routers and telecom equipment gave it in the enterprise space, Arnold said Cisco is starting from scratch in a very crowded, competitive market. While Cisco has high-end tools and technology that only appeals to a segment of the SME market, he said. Most of the space is very value-driven, so it will take a new approach from Cisco to earn their trust. "It's going to be a harder market to crack then the enterprise space," said Arnold."They've got to start from scratch like everybody else and earn their way in, and I think that's going to take a little longer then what they're used to doing.
The glory days of enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems are over says one analyst, adding in a Software as a Service (SAAS) world if partners are going to be successful they need a new go to market approach