Briefs: May 22, 2006


Services has been a fast-growing part of EMC’s business. This year, the company has acquired Microsoft solution providers Interlink and Internosis. The services capabilities of the two acquired solution providers will be offered to EMC customers via its direct sales force, while technology and best practices related to those services will be made available to channel partners, EMC executives told CRN at the time of the acquisitions.

EMC last month made a number of bundled managed services available for resale or implementation by channel partners, including services related to stationing EMC personnel at customer sites, offering computing as a utility and managing a customer’s on-site storage. EMC also has said that it is developing a services practice around security of data that is stored on-site or off-site.

IBM this week plans to unveil the Value Net Solution Provider program, which allows resellers to sell IBM hardware to an ISV and then deploy the products at the ISV’s end-user location.

“It’s a way for infrastructure partners to focus on small ISVs who might not care about hardware, but they can drive hardware demand,” said Towney Kennard, vice president of business partners for IBM Americas.

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The designation enables ISVs to keep more control of the end-user relationship and helps VARs drive more revenue, said Eric Williams, executive vice president of the IBM Group at Arrow Electronics’ Enterprise Computing Solutions arm.

Before the new designation, the reseller—not the ISV—had to sell the hardware to the end user, resulting in separate bills to the end user, he said.

“ISVs still want the central interface with the end user, particularly around billing. IBM’s policy did not allow the partner to do that. It has been a key inhibitor to driving ISV and [solution provider] relationships. Now there’s a real bridge across those two,” Williams said.

Under the old model, ISVs could not sell the hardware directly to end users without proper certifications. Now they can leverage the solution providers for those certifications, said Mike Nowlan, director of marketing at Arrow’s IBM Group.

Camera Corner/Connecting Point (CCCP) last week held one of the largest solution provider technology expos in the country in Green Bay, Wis., with 100 vendors exhibiting and 1,200 customers attending the one-day event.

The growing popularity of partner technology forums, in which solution providers bring vendors and customers together to discuss solutions, is in stark contrast to Dell’s product-centric, direct marketing approach, said CCCP CEO Rick Chernick. “We want to surround ourselves with vendors who want to work with us,” he said.

Former Dell customers at the event said having a solution provider that works with a vendor was one reason they stopped buying direct from Dell. Debra Thorne, director of information technology at Summit Academy Schools, said her schools standardized on Hewlett-Packard desktops and servers after frustrations with Dell’s customer service. “We get better service from [CCCP],” she said.

Neil Stafford, a VAR sales account executive at Ingram Micro, said solution provider technology shows help drive demand by bridging the gap between new technologies and customers. “This is one of the few places that VARs, distributors and vendors can all talk to the customer at the same time,” he said.

Best Buy has earned Microsoft Gold Certified Partner status, becoming the first retailer to earn that distinction, according to the company.

Microsoft and Best Buy jointly developed a certification program that allows Best Buy for Business and Best Buy Geek Squad associates to serve small business customers.

More than 300 Best Buy for Business and Geek Squad associates have completed Microsoft Certified Professional training, including the Small Business Specialist designation, and more than 900 are expected to be MCP certified by the end of the year, according to Best Buy.

The associates will complete an MCP curriculum that covers Microsoft Windows Small Business Server 2003. Some associates will be required to achieve a Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer (MCSE) certification, according to Best Buy.

The retailer is expanding its training and certification schedule through an online portal that incorporates Microsoft Learning certifications, according to Best Buy.

Symantec on Thursday filed suit against Microsoft for allegedly incorporating storage functionality in Windows Vista that violates a longstanding intellectual property agreement between the two companies.

The dispute revolves around a 1996 licensing agreement between Microsoft and Veritas, which Symantec acquired in 2005, covering volume management technology, according to a Microsoft spokesperson.

Microsoft fulfilled its contract with Veritas and is “fully entitled” to use the volume management code in Windows Vista, the spokesperson said. “We acted properly under our contract, and in fact even exercised our right to ‘buy out’ the code under the contract [in 2004], in part to be better able to fix the bugs and compromises in code we licensed from Veritas,” the spokesperson said.

Michael Schallop, director of legal affairs at Symantec, said the decision to file suit against Microsoft was made after the security vendor was unable to resolve the conflict with Microsoft despite repeated attempts. “We have been working for a while to reach a business resolution to the dispute, and we decided we needed to protect our intellectual property,” Schallop said.

Microsoft has been steadily adding new pieces to its security technology portfolio in recent months, and last Thursday signed an agreement to acquire Whale Communications, a longtime security ISV partner, in a move that enables the software giant to jump into the secure access software market. Whale makes Secure Socket Layer (SSL) virtual private networks (VPN) and Web application firewalls.

Despite the lawsuit, Schallop said he doesn’t expect the close working relationship between Symantec and Microsoft to be negatively affected. “We’ll continue to work together on multiple fronts with Microsoft and let the court take its course,” Schallop said.

At the Gartner IT Expo in San Francisco last week, Symantec CEO John Thompson expressed concern over the implications of Microsoft muscling its way into the security space. “If all of a sudden the whole world uses the monoculture of Microsoft and the monoculture of Microsoft security capability, I am not sure we would create a more secure world,” Thompson said.