News highlights of 2014

We look back through the last year with some of the main stories

Flicking back through the issues of the MicroScope digital magazine these were some of the stories of the month and provide a quick overview of a year that saw plenty of acquisitions, more channel investment from vendors and ongoing fears about data protection and security threats.


Colt’s Simon Walsh heads to EMC
The year started with the news that former Colt EVP and member of the executive committee with responsibility for Pan-European enterprise, Simon Walsh, was joining EMC in the role of chief operating officer EMEA. Walsh joined Colt in February 2011 following a 17 year stint at Computacenter, where he rose to the post of UK managing director. He left CC in November 2010 after deciding to take his career in a different direction. In his new role he would take charge of developing both EMC’s go-to-market strategy and its workforce across the wider region.

Ingram Micro to make redundancies in major organisational shake-up
Ingram Micro made a number of changes to its European organisation, implementing a pan-regional operating model in an attempt to “significantly improve” its ability to meet its customers’ needs, and is preparing to make a number of cuts to back itself up. The firm claimed that by simplifying and standardising its organisational set-up it could tap into wider economies of scale and exploit the local knowledge its country operations have gained to enhance its growth prospects. European senior EVP and president Gerhard Schulz characterised the changes as a means by which the distie can better align with a rapidly changing and evolving market.

Bytes turns to Apprentice winner for recruitment nous
Bytes Software Services teamed up with sales recruitment specialist Raw Talent Academy, the brainchild of 2008 Apprentice winner Lee McQueen as it hunted for sales staff to fill its new office. Held at Epsom racecourse in February, the event saw a number of applicants put through their paces in a variety of Apprentice­-style tasks, which Raw Talent Academy puts together based on their clients’ requirements. McQueen set up Raw Talent Academy after leaving Alan Sugar’s digital signage business, Amscreen, at the end of 2010.

Capita buys Updata Infrastructure
Barely two weeks after it acquired security and managed services player Network Technology Solutions, Capita opened its chequebook again to buy network services player Updata Infrastructure for £80m on a cash free, debt free basis. Surrey-based Updata specialises in networking and connectivity services in the public sector, and claims a vendor- and supplier-agnostic approach enables it to offer higher value, best-of-breed services to its customers. Its suppliers include BT Openreach, Virgin Media Business, TalkTalk, Level3, Easynet and Tata Communications, with key customers including Bury, Bedford and Peterborough Councils.

Cisco and Juniper products hit by Heartbleed bug
The Heartbleed bug continued to send ripples out across the industry with a host of vendors reporting that the malicious OpenSSL vulnerability had caught them on the hop and left a number of products exposed. The latest names that admitted they had to work quickly to patch the problem included Cisco and Juniper as they looked to close off holes in routers and switches. They were following in the footsteps of several web retailers that had taken steps to remove their vulnerability. Cisco updated customers on the situation reporting that it would be offering free software updates to help fix the problem that had an impact on "multiple products" that incorporate a version of the OpenSSL package that has been hit by the heartbleed bug.

Cisco boss appeals to President to get spooks out of supply chain
Cisco's boss John Chambers wrote to the US President expressing his worries that the National Security Agency (NSA) is intercepting products in transit through the channel and modifying them in order to spy on customers. Ever Since Edward Snowden started to reveal the extent to which the NSA was spying on US and foreign nationals there have been some questions of how much the IT industry was aware of the issue. A raft of vendors, including Cisco, were quick to distance themselves from the NSA activities and said they had not supported the attempts by the agency to use their products to gather data when the Snowden hysteria was at its height last year.

Fenton's QuantiQ Acquisitions snaps up Tectura UK
Former Insight EMEA boss Stuart Fenton boosted the chances of his latest firm QuantiQ Acquisitions to become a leading Microsoft Dynamics Cloud partner with the acquisition of Tectura UK. Tectura had been going through the process of selling off its subsidiaries with UXC Eclipse buying its North American operations. The plans for the business included a re-branding and investment to fuel growth in the UK, which would see support increase for the existing Microsoft Dynamics AX and NAV practices, as well as the launch of new ones around Dynamics CRM and Microsoft's cloud solutions.

Xerox partners with authorities to strike back at counterfeiters
Xerox was actively taking the fight against counterfeit goods to the producers as it worked with authorities to take fake toner cartridges out of the market in attempts to claw back some of the billions lost to grey products. The printer vendor struck in China, where 1,500 boxes of fake toners were seized from Zhuhai Warmth Electronic Co, and in Brazil, where a couple of raids masterminded by Xerox and other OEMs discovered 1.000 more boxes of toner as well as security labels and product identification materials. A further 1,000 boxes of fake toner was also taken out of the supply chain after a raid carried out on behalf of Xerox and other OEMs in Turkey delivered a result.

Dell Solutions Summit: Channel delivering $20bn and growing
It has been seven years since Dell opted to rediscover its love of the channel and the indirect business is now worth $20bn and delivers a third of the vendor's revenues. Globally the vendor now can boast a reseller base of 167,000 partners and had managed to get 4,255 of those to premier level by the mid way point through 2014. Speaking at the firm's Solutions Summit in Brussels the vendor's founder and CEO Michael Dell said that there was no upper limit on the level of business that could be done with partners and he expected it to grow beyond a third.

Liberata steps in to start the next chapter at Trustmarque
Business process services specialist Liberata UK acquired Trustmarque Solutions ending a few weeks of speculation about the destiny of the reseller after it opted to change its investor. In the ldays before the deal Trustmarque had been looking for alternative investment and landed on Liberata, which plans to run Trustmarque as a separate entity without changing its current business. In Summer 2013 Trustmarque, led an MBO backed by Dunedin, that enabled it to part company with its former investment backer LDC in a deal worth £43m but in recent weeks it has become clear that a new investor was needed to take the business forward.

Fujitsu enjoys channel growth in H1
Fujitsu saw its channel numbers swell in the first half of its fiscal year as it started to benefit from uncertainty around some other vendors in the market. The vendor has seen demand for its desktops, storage line, security and servers growth strongly in the first half and as well as gaining business in a recovering market it has also benefited from the prolonged acquisition of IBM's x86 business by Lenovo and the uncertainty caused by the recent decision by HP to split its operations in two. Fujitsu has already enjoyed business from the channel increasing by around 33% year-on-year in H1and has seen the number of partners it is trading with on a regular basis rise by 23% in the same period.

Avnet points to a positive future
Avnet’s vice-president for business development across Europe, Dieter Lott, outlined a positive future for the company. “When it started, it was about product availability, logistics and credit,” said Lott. “Then in the 1990s, the value added reseller community needed to be helped with training, which is still offered today. “The next step is being the business technology advisor by sharing our business intelligence. We know what sells when and what product combinations sell well. We are creating the value proposition for the partner,” he said. Lott believes the company is moving into a role that could be seen as more of a partnership with resellers and will deepen relationships with those doing the work in a way that vendors would struggle to match. “You just have to look at what distribution has done and for its size it is quite agile,” he added. “I am not worried about the future of distribution.”

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