Plus: New ransomware, IDology assures positive ID, Level 3 adds ExpressRoute, more.

Lorna Garey

April 1, 2016

8 Min Read
5 Channel Ops: Microsoft IoT in a Box, Dell Divests Services, Datto Google Guide

Lorna GareyThere was a lot of news out of this week’s Microsoft Build conference. That Ubuntu, the Bash shell and the Linux CLI will soon run natively on Windows 10  got a lot of attention, as did the announcement that Win 10 is now running on 270 million devices, up from 200 million in early January. The conversation as a platform vision, where A.I. chat bots will be integrated with various Microsoft products, spells the death knell for Clippy. RIP.

But what caught my attention are five Azure IoT Starter Kits, available now for $50 to $160, depending on what comes in the box. Yes, there’s a box. Microsoft says the kits will allow anyone with Windows or Linux experience to easily launch test projects on top of all Azure’s IoT offerings.

“Azure IoT Starter Kits allow anyone to get started with IoT and quickly build prototypes and proof of concepts,” said Sam George, Microsoft’s Azure IoT partner director. “Azure IoT Starter Kits open the door to innovation not just for developers, but device makers, inventors, business owners, even school programs or hobbyists — anyone with an interest in IoT or a great business idea.”

In addition, the Azure IoT Gateway SDK is now available to process data on edge devices before it’s sent to the cloud (Microsoft’s answer to Cisco Fog) and make it easier to connect legacy devices to Azure cloud.

Dell Sheds Service Business

From the “cash flow is important” files, this week NTT Data announced that it will acquire Dell’s IT service-provider business (which Dell bought from Perot Systems) for a reported $3.05 billion. While Dell’s pending EMC buy will cost more like $67 billion, every bit helps. NTT Data sells cloud, consulting and managed services to midsize and large companies globally, and the buy is expected to help it gain cloud and vertical market share in North America.

John McCain, CEO of NTT Data, will lead the combined business. In a filing with the Tokyo Stock Exchange, NTT said it expects to hire Dell Service’s 28,000 employees, according to Bloomberg.

Dell CEO Michael Dell called out the services division for domain expertise in health care and life sciences, banking, financial services and insurance. In fact, Gartner consistently names Dell the No. 1 provider of IT services for health-care providers based on revenue. The buy makes sense for both companies. Dell gets some cash and can continue to sharpen its focus on enterprise infrastructure, while NTT – which also owns Dimension Data – adds to its U.S. services portfolio.

And of course, Dell partners are no longer looking over their shoulders at the in-house services group.

Who’s at the Other End of That Line?

Have you heard of IDology? The company provides end-to-end authentication technology to verify identity and age, important for customers that do business in consumer-not-present situations and worry about fraud and meeting compliance regulations. This week, it announced some mobile-enabled products, the IDology Mobile Identity Spectrum suite of identity and anti-fraud tools and ExpectID Scan Onboard, an interesting ID document verification, scan and prefill solution.

“Consumers are relying on their mobile devices more and more for all types of transactions, and we are removing many barriers to entry inherent in mobile that come from the sign-up process and security,” said John Dancu, CEO of IDology. “We are now able to onboard, verify and continuously monitor mobile interactions while providing a fast and frictionless customer experience.”

With ExpectID Scan Onboard, a user would take a picture of the front and back of a driver’s license or state or international identification card. IDology then verifies that the information on the ID is legitimate and uses it to pre-populate an enrollment form. No more asking customers to type on glass, trying to fill in forms that may or may not be optimized for the mobile device.

If the ID information is suspect, IDology can call a time out and launch a deeper forensic review of the ID, or customers can choose to ask knowledge-based authentication questions to verify the person’s identity. Once identity is confirmed, the system generates a “Mobile Identity” that binds the user to the device for quick login next time. The ID can stick through events such SIM card or carrier changes. IDology also offers products to verify identity attributes such as age, a phone number or geolocation, and end customers need not provide sensitive info, like birth date or SSN, to be verified.

MSSP Market Update

Managed security service global revenue totaled $17.4 billion in 2015, up 9 percent from the prior year, and is forecast to grow by one-third over the next five years. That’s according to a report released this week by IHS.

Most (54 percent) of the growth is thanks to CPE-based services, with cloud-based offerings contributing 46 percent. However, the consultancy says this ratio will flip by 2020.

Managed security providers are now beginning to leverage software-defined networking (SDN) and network functions virtualization (NFV) rollouts to scale up their businesses without adding headcount.

Sales of cloud-based security services grew 12 percent in 2015 from the prior year, says IHS, which says the segment will grow at a CAGR of 9 percent through 2020. Where’s the money? The largest contributor to cloud-based security service revenue is content security, followed by managed firewall services, other security services, distributed denial of service (DDoS) mitigation and intrusion detection and prevention systems. “The majority of providers IHS tracks either met or exceeded their revenue expectations for the year,” said Jeff Wilson, cybersecurity research director for IHS. “The long-term outlook for this market – especially for cloud services – is strong.”

Leveling Out the 365 Fast Lane

Add Level 3 to the list of Microsoft Azure ExpressRoute partners. ExpressRoute is about reducing Office 365 latency and increasing security by offering private connectivity into O365 instances. Level 3 will offer both point-to-point Ethernet and any-to-any IP-VPN connectivity to Azure and Office 365, giving partners the flexibility to choose the right network architecture for customers’ needs.

Microsoft data-center locations in Amsterdam, Chicago, Dallas, London, Seattle, Silicon Valley and Washington, D.C., are included. At every ExpressRoute IP-VPN network-to-network interface, Level 3 says it will have a security gateway that not only performs the network address translation required by Microsoft, but also provides a carrier-grade firewall platform to enhance the secure connection into the VPN without slowing things down.

dinCloud Adds Audit Trail

Channel-focused cloud services provider dinCloud this week added new security features to its dinManage cloud orchestration platform. The idea is to make it easier for partners and customers to manage and track access to hosted workspaces and virtual machines, and David Graffia, the company’s VP of sales, told me that the features have been well received by partners.

“The most recent release of dinManage includes enhancements to security with log and audit trails, along with identity and access management,” said Graffia. “It helps their customers increase their security posture.”

New features include an audit function that provides detailed reports on who is logging in and out of hosted assets, utilization reports showing how much CPU and memory are being utilized on a virtual machine, and added self-service features. Customers or partners can modify or provision new cloud resources; create and modify VM templates; and view, add, edit or delete domain names and DNS IPs within the DHCP server.

Walid Elemary, vice president of product development for dinCloud, says the company is focused on self-service. It’s also transparent about rate pricing; the provisioning system shows a detailed breakdown of monthly recurring costs for base and add-on features. The company recently inked a deal with CDW to resell its hosted services.

Bits & Bytes

Datto Schools Partners On Google: Check out a new blog from Datto’s Chris Brunau detailing the process of helping EDU customers move to Google Apps. You can also download a free Google for Education ebook. Chromebooks are hot in classrooms, and Google is courting the channel to increase uptake.

Ransomware Hits Hard Drives: Technical support site Bleeping Computer (yes, really) wrote this week about new Petya ransomware that goes beyond simply encrypting the files on an affected computer and goes right for the hard drive. Like other ransomware, Petya is distributed using phishing emails with malicious links and demands payment in bitcoin. Unlike other malware, this variant replaces the boot drive’s existing Master Boot Record with a malicious loader. The site shows step-by-step how the ransomware works, with handy screen shots. If you send a newsletter to customers, it’s worth a warning. Our advice still stands: Beating ransomware is more about backups than security.

Have Service Desk, Can Travel: LOGICnow announced this week MAX Service Desk Mobile, an iOS app that provides remote access to its Service Desk portal. I am told that an Android version is in the works. The app gives partners access to customers’ ticket history plus additional capabilities, including the ability to schedule site visits with built-in calendar and GPS functionality, retrieve real-time customer data and records, track time and mileage and more.

Show Us The Money (Data): Finally, have you checked out our Channel Compensation Survey, up and running now? The effort is underwritten by AT&T, and our friends at the 451 Alliance are hosting the poll and helping with analysis. Please take a moment to join the survey, and point your colleagues our way as well; it’s at for easy reference. The more respondents we get, the better we can slice and dice the data to reveal how region, vertical served, tech specialties and other factors affect compensation.

To show our appreciation, you can enter to win a $100 Amazon gift card. It’s completely anonymous, and everyone who completes the survey gets a copy of the resulting report.

Follow executive editor @LornaGarey on Twitter.

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