1. Microsoft is betting on hybrid
Although it is billed as the closest challenger to Amazon Web Services in the battle for public cloud dominance, Microsoft is actually placing its bets on hybrid IT.
At the Microsoft Inspire partner conference in Washington DC, CEO Satya Nadella announced that the Azure on-premise stack will start shipping in September, available on hardware from Dell EMC, Hewlett Packard Enterprise and Lenovo.
"It's no longer the debate even of ‘is it private versus public?'" Nadella said. "In fact, it's clear as day that what is needed is more distributed computing infrastructure - that true hybrid computing fabric."
Microsoft also continued its plans to put cloud front and centre of its business, announcing job cuts as it brings together its SMB and enterprise divisions. Microsoft partners saw the move as an attempt to improve the vendor's support to partners, particularly those that deal with customers in the mid-market, while also placing greater importance on cloud solution providers.
Alongside this, the firm announced its new Microsoft 365 platform for both SMBs and enterprises, which rolls up Office 365 with Windows 10 and various enterprise mobility and security products.
2. MSPs are barking up the wrong tree
At least, that's according to managed service provider (MSP) Managed 24-7 which claims that MSPs' raison d'être should be to improve workforce productivity, rather than hit service-level agreements (SLAs).
Research it commissioned found that the average UK employee wastes 5.59 per cent of their total working time due to IT issues.
Managed 24-7 CEO John Pepper told CRN that the findings should prompt MSPs to re-evaluate their role.
"I don't believe that three hours 59 minutes on a four-hour SLA, with a very expensive resource sitting there, is success; it's failure," he said. "We're moving into the world of workforce productivity analytics, [to determine] what investments need to be made to ensure [outages don't] happen again."
3. There's no end in sight for the components shortage
Anyone hoping that the components supply shortage is nearing its end was dealt a blow by news of an incident at a Taiwanese factory that produces memory components.
Market watcher Trendforce reported that Inotera, also known as Micron Technology Taiwan, has suspended one of its plants due to the malfunction of its nitrogen gas dispensing system. It expects the impact of the fault to see the production of DRAM components go down by 5.5 per cent in July, triggering yet more price increases for memory products.
Micron itself has since played down the report, describing it as a "minor incident", although this will be small comfort for vendors that have seen DRAM prices double over the last year.
4. VARs are lawyering up over GDPR
The debate over whether the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) regime will be a blessing or a curse for the channel continues to heat up ahead of its introduction on 25 May 2015.
While Gartner believes GDPR will represent a $3.5bn sales opportunity for security and storage resellers, some resellers see it is as a minefield, and are taking legal advice over what they can and cannot say to customers.
"Our first look at it isn't ‘where is all this extra technology we can sell?," said Justin Harling, managing director of HPE and Cisco partner CAE Technology. "Our first conversation is ‘Christ, we're going to need to talk to the lawyers to figure out what we can and can't do, what advice we can give and what advice we can't give'."
5. AI isn't yet fulfilling its promise
Virtual personal assistants and AI may be all over TV advertising right now, but Gartner, for one, is sceptical, arguing that they are failing to capture the imagination of end users.
The market watcher claims that the technologies will undoubtedly grow in adoption in the coming years, but will not have a "revolutionary" impact on the market as a whole.
"Today, the user experience with new technologies such as artificial intelligence and virtual personal assistants is too often below the standard found in the rest of the device, and the cost to raise the standard quickly is prohibitive, relative to the benefits," said Ranjit Atwal, research director at Gartner.
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Results, reaction and pictures from last night's CRN Fight Night