Monday, November 19, 2012

Microsofts Office365 Telco Strategy should make Google nervous

AT&T last week joined Verizon and a pantheon of major service providers in the  rush to offer MS Office365 email services.  good start.
Should Google be concerned? Well, I'm sure Eric Schmidt remembers only to well what happened when MS decided to kill Netscape.

Running the numbers from research undertaken by BackChannel in September 2012 Microsofts strategy of partnering with giant telco's is already biting into Google Apps for Business.

The graph shows the distribution of O365 installations by company size.

We looked at 22,000 UK companies with a recognised service hosted mail service and found MS 0365 had nearly 700 installs; so about 3%.  Checking the underlying data we see that many of the Office365 customers identified were BT SMB customers migrated off of BTs own legacy mail service, others classed as SMB had churned from Google, larger organisations from a mixture of established providers.

We can firmly predict that AT&T, Verizon, Orange,Vodafone and the dozen others partnering with Microsoft globally will have the same effect. 
In short Office365 delivered in collaboration with the Big Telco's is the start of a serious fight back by Microsoft against GoogleMail and Apps for Business and it is clearly off to a good start.

Should Google be concerned? Well, I'm sure Eric Schmidt remembers only to well what happened when MS decided to kill Netscape.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

A trip down memory lane: From Mosaic to Chrome

Having been online since the late 80's Browsers have been like the soundtrack to my career from the early days of Gopher, Veronica & Archie to the arrival of Marc Andreessen's ground breaking Mosaic they've been a constant feature in my life. 
Here is a terrific little youtube documentary on the birth of the Netscape and the Web Browser and its untimely death after Microsoft decided it was time to take control of the market and launch Internet Explorer.

An interesting cameo and link between Netscape & Chrome is Eric Schmidt; who in 1998 as CEO of Novell integrated  Novonyx the Novell/Netscape joint venture into the main Novell business.  Schmidt shocked the industry in 2001 by jumping ship to join startup Google.  The rest is history, or is it?

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Mobile Data growth in Europe to slow as users rely more on WIFI

A really nice piece in Fierce Wireless, with graphs, from our friends over at Analysys Mason - another of us terrific Cambridge Research Companies.

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Fragmented market for $1 trillion worth of telecoms business sales

Provision of telecoms services for the world’s biggest companies is remarkably diverse. A survey carried out exclusively for GTB by BackChannel shows that the world’s biggest 500 companies do not concentrate their custom on a few key operators, and the operators themselves work in a highly fragmented market

Nearly 60% of the IP services that AT&T delivers worldwide go to US-based customers. Of the world’s large operators it is one of the most focused on its home market — only one percentage point above China Telecom’s focus on China for the IP services it delivers.
Both companies, this exclusive survey appears to show, have a long way to go to spread their business away from their respective home markets.
By contrast NTT Communications provides slightly more
Article by Alan Burkitt-Gray Editor Global Telecoms Business

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Dropbox security breach

As shown by the recent breach of security at 'everyman' Cloud darling Dropbox goes to show no matter what suppliers sell to you, cloud storage is not completely secure.  So todays lesson is that if you're going to trust data to any Cloud service make sure you can take control of the encryption.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

South African Hosted Email Security Update

Back in January we reported that Mimecast had taken control of the South African market after having grown at an extraordinary rate for the previous 18 months, We 1st identified Mimecast as a rising star 3 years ago when they 1st came to the notice on the world stage taking market share in Europe, Australia & North America.  

Mimecast has definitely been an organisation to watch over the past two years. We think its continued growth is indicative of both its presence as a growing force within the worldwide cloud-based email security services landscape as well as the uptake in remotely managed product offerings within the South African market

Market penetration for cloud-based email technologies is particularly high in South Africa at 33%. In fact, the country is up there with first world territories such as the US,UK and Scandinavia, all well known for their openness towards new technologies and services.

Six months on the July 2012 BackChannel reports shows that Mimecast's market share growth has continued to accelerate, extending its installed base by 170% over 2 years, a strong performance even against an overall market growth in South Africa of a not-too-shabby 40%.

We think the vendor landscape in South Africa is a microcosm of ICT worldwide in general, showing that focus is almost certainly the key to winning in a technology marketplace. The fact that Mimecast focuses on what it does best. Competitors have fallen to the wayside due to a lack of emphasis on core service offerings; in comparison, Mimecast has continued to offer premium products and services which meet customer needs. That’s why they are the market leaders in South Africa and increasingly on the world stage.

Monday, July 16, 2012

BackChannel Publish 9th Email Security Services Report

At BackChannel we use unique search engine technology to reveal actual Cloud and IP services usage & identify real market trends amongst over 1 million organisations worldwide.  Every 6 months we use this 'hard-numbers' research to report on to produce twenty definitive reports detailing the performance of the world's leading service providers including those delivering e-mail security/unified e-mail management services.   

Who's up, who's down, regional & sector trends, new market entrants, plus the impact of M&A and of the release of new products (Webroot, you know we're watching you.) 

Emerging blinking into the daylight after several weeks of marathon number crunching we're ready to share with you a few of the insights we have gained after publishing this our 9th major survey of the industry.  Over the next few weeks we will be releasing both samples of the data itself and some of our thoughts about this dynamic and growing market.

So, if you're interested in Cloud based services be sure to bookmark this blog now.  If you're interested to know more about the Email Security Services Reports then please contact me directly and one of us will get back to you.

Monday, July 09, 2012

Submarine cable map 2012

The folks at Telegeography are producing another one of their great maps.

Why not take a look.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Vodafone snaps up Cable & Wireless

Vodafone looks to have succeeded in its ambition to buy up commercial network provider Cable & Wireless for a projected £1.04 billion ($1.76 billion), or about 40% of the estimated break up value of the company.

Assuming it is successful, Vodafone will gain; a national fibre-optic broadband network that is separate from BT or Virgin Media's), a massive portfolio of business customers and a global backbone infrastructure that reaches out to over 160 countries via its network of undersea cables. 

Suggestions are that the latter will probably be sold off so that Vodafone can concentrate on winning more enterprise customers at home, which is probably what they will do.  Though as a long term play, especially if they are interested in servicing large enterprise customers, I think that would be as strategically unwise as the BT forced sale of its mobile phone business...

C&W has a lot of customers but not as many as you might think, remember they have been in serious decline for over 10 years, I rather consider them to be the GEC/Marconi of the UK Telecoms Industry, the parallels are clear.

The real coup with this acquisition is not the customers or the international fibre, it is that UK national fibre infrastructure that they will take possession of as the deal completes.   Since 2010 when the use of smart phones and mobile devices saw the cellular data traffic move ahead of voice the one the largest cost-of-service-delivery items has been the amount of money that Vodafone has had to pay to BT for backhaul, and from here on in the Vodafone will benefit from the coming explosion in mobile (I don;t think mobile is even ouf the gate yet...)

Bottom line. Buying up C&W gives Vodafone its own infrastructure the reduction in backhaul costs will dramatically improve its revenue per user with all the potential advantages that this brings forth customers and investors.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

TATA leaves C&W Worldwide a sinking ship

Tata Communications 11th hour withdrawal from negotiations with Cable & Wireless Worldwide sent the troubled companies shares into free-fall yesterday and left the way clear for Vodafone to snap up a bit of a bargain.

The estimated breakup value of Cable & Wireless is estimated to be around £2 1/2 billion, approximately £.90 per share. This may have led to the Cable & Wireless board to reject the £.42 a share offer made by Tata.  With CW shares standing at £.31 each as I type this, you wonder if they've gained anything.

Over the years of watching the ups and downs and further downs of Cable & Wireless it's often occur to be and my colleagues at Cable & Wireless would be a better fit with British Telecom supporting their increasingly successful BT Global Services organisation.

Here is an interesting if not terribly well-informed article posted on interactive investor on the 16th which goes into rather more details. The comment that Cable & Wireless is the provider of choice for 70 of the FTSE 100 companies is terribly wide of the mark, after years of decline Cable & Wireless is left as one of the many, many, many, providers that service the U.K.'s largest companies.  Don't believe the PR spin Cable & Wireless's position amongst these organisations is way behind that of BT Group and Verizon.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

GMail fail should act as Cloud Warning

It was as recently as November 2011 that RIMs Blackberry server farms were unable to supply e-mail services to millions of customers for days, to the great delight of Starbucks customers and commuters worldwide…

Gmails short outage this week has caused quite a long conservation amongst users and the world's press. The system was out for about an hour and seems to affected about 10% of users. In the grand scheme of things this outage is not really significant and I wonder how many users put it down to failures at their ISP or if they were mobile ‘just another coverage failure’.

But once again this minor Gmail failure is a reminder that cloud-based services and applications are out of control of their users.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

iCloud migration foobar infuriates customers

Whilst not directly related to the corporate cloud environment the current shenanigans at Apple are a reminder of some other things that can go wrong when a company tries to force its users down a cloudy path.

For many years Apple have run a very successful cloud-based service called MobileMe to which I am a subscriber it's very useful allowing you to sync  e-mail, contacts, bookmarks etc across multiple devices (Apple devices of course). This required and Apple ID and an associated e-mail address so far so good I have a separate Apple ID that I set up with my regular e-mail address when our first used iTunes so now I have two separate  Apple ID's Upton house will work fine now I'm being coerced into using iCloud up to now this has all worked fine however like hundreds of thousands of other users are now being coerced into using iCloud as the Mobile me service comes to an end; requiring me to update to the Lion operating system, but that is another story.

You wouldn't think this should cause too many problems. However I couldn't figure out how to merge the two accounts. So, going online I typed “merge Apple ID” to find hundreds of posts on the web and hundreds more in the Apple support forum all asking the same question "how can I do this and not lose my iTunes/Apps/Mail/Contacts". 

It turns out that there is no way to merge Apple IDs across iCloud, iTunesStore and AppStore for those  using Mobile Me or who regularly use the DRM enabled iTunes store or the APPStore to buy music and software the synchronisation issues this become a significant problem when moving to the new iCloud.

Here is what happened when "MacRumors" reader Robert emailed Apple CEO Tim Cook about the issue, and quickly received a phone call from an Apple executive relations employee. She had spoken to the team responsible for Apple IDs and acknowledged that they understood the issue and that more people would run into the problem with iCloud. She also repeated that there is no way yet to combine accounts but revealed they are working on it. In the meantime, she recommended picking a single account to plan on keeping indefinitely and to make all future purchases on that account." 

That's the best information we have to date.

Apple failed to run an effective beta programme or to have trialled the systems in a real world scenarios. As a result customers are dissatisfied and are using all sorts of unsupported workarounds.  In consumer world vendors like Apple, Microsoft, et al seem to have the luxury of being able to ignore their customers ire, if & until they get around to fixing it.  Ask yourself this - as a department head commissioning a Cloud service or a service provider building one will you share that luxury?

This debacle should act as a cautionary tale and reminder that Clouds are 'there to meet the customers needs' not demonstrate the 'completeness the vendors vision.' 

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Microsoft's cloudy platform, Windows Azure, is experiencing a major outage: at the time of writing, its service management system had been down for about seven hours more

I worry about the concept of a completely Cloud strategy, I have been working for, around and with Service Providers for 25 years and I have never seen one that hasn't occasionally been snafu'd by some unexpected thing, but when the Cloud providers environment is almost an OS in itself, the potential for mayhem rises at an rate exponential to it's complexity.

Over the next few years this technology will undoubtedly settle down and become a solid underpinning of most businesses but for now we'll be keeping our mission critical servers in fully DR'd co-locates that we control.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Mimecast takes South African Market by Storm

As part of the BackChannel bi-annual Hosted Email Security report we used our advanced search engine technology to electronically survey over 3,600 organisations in South Africa* in order to discover the actual market share amongst competing vendors for these type of services.  The results for South Africa were particularly interesting so I thought we would share them with you. 

Our research data shows Mimecast having an increasing impact in several regions around the world.  In particular Mimecast have made excellent gains in the South African market and at the end of the full year 2011 had grown their customer base in South Africa significantly ahead of the market to become the dominant provider of hosted email security & management solutions in the region.

When we first started tracking their activities of this market in 2006 Mimecast was a new kid on the block, this year they won the 2011 CRN 'Security Vendor of the Year' and our latest reports show them taking control of the South African market and growing at a terrific pace worldwide. I wondered what was driving the business?  So, I spoke to Garth Wittles, SVP & General Manager at Mimecast South Africa, who has been with the company since the beginning. 

Garth said: "At Mimecast we specialise in email management delivered from the cloud (UEM-Unified Email Management). Email Security is part of our unified platform designed to reduce cost, risk and complexity for our customers and it's an essential cloud service for MS Exchange users."

What part does archiving play? “We know we have had market leadership in cloud archiving for some time, but this is the first time it extends to Cloud Email Security.”

On taking control of the South African market his comment was "We certainly have had a strong focus on developing  market leadership as well as achieving market share penetration of 40% in a number of verticals."

*BackChannel monitor the use hosted email security services amongst approximately 1,000,000 organisations worldwide, tracking the use of 60+ international service providers.  We also undertake bespoke research projects on internet connected services and their providers.

For further information on currently available reports contact