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You think Chromebooks can’t be well managed or run legacy apps? Dell begs to differ.

Lorna Garey

August 21, 2015

7 Min Read
5 Channel Ops: ASCII Summit, AMDs Security Persistence, IoT

Lorna GareyI spent a few days this week at The ASCII Group Summit in Waltham, Mass. (see some highlights here). Ted Roller of GetChanneled opened the event with a look at CompTIA’s 2015 IT Industry Outlook Survey. One headline: IT spending has overtaken telecom, and there’s no looking back. Among 200 channel providers surveyed, 58 percent expect IT services margins to be up in 2015, versus 32 percent of telecom brokers seeing an uptick. Most, 65 percent, of business growth for a solutions provider comes from existing customers, so it’s critical to layer on new IT technologies while also helping them spend less for more business benefit.

ASCII also announced at the event a new tax helpdesk service aimed at helping IT providers apply sales tax appropriately to IT services across the country. A crazy quilt of state tax laws makes it difficult for larger solutions providers with customers in multiple states. For the new service, ASCII developed a list of common sales tax questions and answers related to managed and cloud services. ASCII will automatically push updates to its membership whenever a state changes or re-interprets a sales tax law.

Persistence Pays Off

Chipmakers are getting in the security game. Intel has several hardware-assisted security programs, and Absolute Software this week announced an agreement with Advanced Micro Devices to incorporate its Persistence technology into AMD x86 APU chip designs. The Persistence tech is a good idea on its own and worth recommending to customers that have sensitive data on mobile endpoints. The idea is that OEMs embed Persistence into the devices’ firmware. A software agent is installed to activate Persistence; at that point, IT or an MSP can reliably track the device, even if it’s lost or stolen. Persistence triggers an automatic reinstallation if the agent is removed and works even if the firmware is flashed, the device is reimaged, the hard drive is replaced or a tablet or smartphone is wiped to factory settings. Thus the name.

“If we’ve learned anything from recent malware attacks it’s that virtually any software can be breached, especially anything that interacts with end users,” says Kurt Marko, a Channel Partners contributor and specialist in chip design. “That includes malware protection and endpoint management software. The only sure way to secure devices is by embedding code in firmware such that it’s immune from tampered even by protected-mode OS processes. This puts the onus on PC manufacturers to build security into the device. Intel pioneered these efforts with technologies like Secure Boot, TPM, OS Guard and VT-x that allow software vendors including Microsoft, Intel/McAfee and Symantec to anchor their protection to a known, secure foundation. AMD is following suit by partnering with Absolute to embed the company’s endpoint protection and management software. It’s the right security strategy for PC manufacturers, and I expect to see more endpoint-protection vendors work with AMD and Intel to bake their products into hardware.”

Partners recommending end-user hardware purchases can access a list of devices with Persistence baked in here. Acer, Asus, Dell, HP, Toshiba and Samsung are among the OEMs participating.

Someone Is Always Watching

This week EnGenius Technologies began shipping the EnGenius Wireless IP Surveillance System for monitoring both indoor and outdoor areas, including harsh environments, where video must be transmitted over fairly long distances. The devices come in 2.4 GHz (EDS8012) and 5 GHz IP (EDS8015) versions and can be deployed in point-to-point or point-to-multipoint configurations. Video streaming is reliable at wireless speeds of up to 90 Mbps at .5 mile, up to 60 Mbps at 1.8 miles, and up to 30 Mbps at 3 miles. IP cameras can be integrated with third-party digital alarms, sensors or other electronic devices that activate when motion detectors are triggered. Customers can monitor, record and play back video from up to 16 camera streams with the included software, and they can perform many functions directly on Android and iOS device via a free app. The EnGenius EDS8012 and EDS8015 Wireless IP Surveillance Systems are available now in North America, priced at $280 for the EDS8012 and $290 for the EDS8015.

Dell Means Business With Chrome OS 

Dell announced September availability of a new “premium professional” 13.3-inch Dell Chromebook 13 that sports an Intel Core i5 processor, up to 8GB of memory and up to 12 hours of battery life. Included are Dell KACE, which provides inventory management and service-desk support, and the Dell SonicWALL Mobile Connect VPN app. Customers with a Dell Secure Mobile Access appliance or next-generation firewall can lock down and track network access. Optionally, partners can enable URL filtering and use Dell’s Wyse vWorkspace desktop virtualization software to deliver Windows applications. Of course, you could also use Office 365 in the Chrome browser.

The Chromebooks support Google’s Chrome for Work, a major advantage for customer IT teams. The Chrome for Work browser includes more than 100 policy settings that enable IT or an MSP to force auto-updates of security fixes and control which applications and extensions are available to employees, all from a cloud interface. It also brings Chrome’s Legacy Browser Support, for cases where a business applications requires IE, Firefox or a browser other than Chrome. Dell has extended its ProSupport Plus for PCs and tablets to Chromebook 13 customers. Deployments of 1,000 systems or more get a dedicated technical account manager. The Dell Chromebook 13 starts at $399 and will be available Sept. 17. As a dedicated Chromebook fan, I’ll be checking it out.

Predixion, Wind River Partner On IoT

At this week’s Intel Developer Forum, Predixion Software and Wind River announced a deal to help customers translate IoT data into actionable business moves — even predict opportunities and spot problems before they impact sales or operations. The partnership will enable predictive applications created on the Predixion Insight platform to be deployed and managed on Wind River’s Helix Device Cloud, said the companies in a statement. Helix enables edge sensors, devices and machines to connect securely to a network infrastructure. Predixion brings the analytics.

The technology is undoubtedly still complex. However, McKinsey estimates the market opportunity for predictive maintenance in manufacturing and health care alone could be $577 billion by 2025, with potential cost savings of up to 40 percent delivered by better resource optimization and more timely maintenance. Steve Stover, VP of marketing and product management for Predixion Software, told Channel Partners that there are opportunities for solutions providers willing to be part of a provider ecosystem.

“There is a lot of hype right now, and we are making very specific partner choices that will benefit the customer,” said Stover. “There are many layers to an IoT implementation; no single vendor has everything, so partnering is critical to end customer success.”

As to what Predixion is seeing within its partner ecosystem, he says there’s a lot of variety.

“We are focused right now on embedding into IoT platforms – Accenture, Wind River – gateway hardware vendors – Cisco, Intel ecosystem, Dell, Advantech … application vendors – MainSpring for medical-device asset management, others to come in retail and other verticals — systems integrators like Accenture, and software infrastructure providers like Software AG, with others to come.”

Clearly, there’s a place for collaboration-minded solutions providers.

Bits & Bytes

Carbonite announced at the ASCII event that it’s running a program through the end of next month to pay registered partners $250 for every client switched to its Carbonite Pro and $500 for every move to Carbonite Server from a competitive product. The list of completive vendors incudes Acronis, AT&T, Datto, Dell, MySecureBackup, Peak10 and dozens more.

Did you miss our coverage of HP’s deal with Windstream? If so, take a look. The backup and replication services are in the sweet spot for SMBs.

Business Solutions is hosting a free webinar, Raising Capital: Best Practices For ISVs, on Wednesday, Aug. 26, at 2 p.m. ET. It will feature a panel of ISVs who have successfully raised capital for their companies. Business Solutions president Jim Roddy will conduct a Q&A about different avenues for raising capital, lessons learned from the process, managing time and resources while raising capital, and next steps for ISVs looking to grow.

Follow editor in chief @LornaGarey on Twitter.

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