An AMD/IBM merger would not be good for system builders

The Financial Times of London published a story yesterday citing sources that AMD and IBM would either merge or broaden its partnership.

A merger or take over of this magnitude would not be welcomed news and pose many challenges for the system builder community especially in this country.

For one, under IBM’s stewardship they may not be open to selling processors to system builders. They may want to keep it in house and advance it for better market opportunities than the system builder channel.

The system builder channel would be a relatively new channel for big blue. The acquisition cost could go up. IBM would have to pay for this billion dollar acquisition some way and to increase the price of the processors across the board would be an obvious move. System builders would not have the cache or the size to negotiate with an IBM.

Intel, which has steadily increased its focus on this community, would inevitably make gains with system builders and could reestablish its dominance. That too could become troublesome for system builders because instead of two rivals fighting it out you have one who will inevitably dictate to the market.

I can see why AMD might want to be acquired by IBM. They have had a horrible year and their much-hyped Barcelona chip failed to deliver on its promise. If AMD was part of IBM’s Microelectronics division they could expand and build desperately needed new chip plants.

And, to be fair IBM could help system builders as it would be a new business opportunity for them.

But, I don’t see it because system builders are small fry in this market.

It would be sad to see because this community makes its living building customized systems on the basis of fast processor speeds for local businesses. Any change in direction could mean a slow down in chip supply and increased acquisition costs.

Another thing to consider is that local businesses enjoy dealing with system builders because they get customized systems for their needs at an affordable price. White box was never meant to compete with Dell or other lower cost brand names. Without an independent AMD in the market keeping Intel in check the system builders may be rendered virtually irrelevant.

What do you think about this? Are you a system builder getting squeezed? I would like to know your story. Email me [email protected].

— Posted by Paolo Del Nibletto, 25/01/08, 11:43 PM, [email protected]

Can you run a business on Facebook?

Alan Lepofsky, a Canadian from Toronto, has the task of developing a money making strategy for social networking.

As a senior strategist for IBM Lotus, Lepofsky needs to figure out how IBM and the Lotus Software division, plus the company’s community of channel partners, can achieve a sustainable revenue stream through the use of Web 2.0 technologies and social networks.

It’s all in a day’s work for Lepofsky, whose job is to consider way-cool trends and figure out a practical business vision for these.

Lepofsky typically does not work on any specific products. He does not have a sales quota and, from what I can determine, he does not report directly to any one individual at the company. Unlike most of us, perhaps, he is absolutely free from the pressure of achieving immediate success.

He’s trying to find new ways for people to communicate with one another, and so he’s looking at the success of Facebook as a social networking community. Could you run your business on it? It’s possible, and he says some are doing it today.

However, Lepofsky himself would be reluctant because of concerns around as security, control, ID management, and back up and archiving. These are challenges that must be addressed in order to turn the mainstream social networking trend into a viable business product.

This is some good insight for channel partners from an executive who has been providing his employers futurist outlooks for the seven years. Customers are talking about Facebook and other popular Web 2.0 sites, and the channel has to come up with a real, solid business models around this. Lepofsky’s advice is to always look at the business reasons for any trendy item first.

Basically, you have to cut through the hype and look at time-tested business principles for Facebook or any other social networking environment.

Do you think Facebook has a place in business? Or do you believe it will be a personal tool? I would like to know your thoughts. E-mail me at [email protected].

One quick hit before I go. Randal A. Kalpin, former executive at On The Go Technologies, is now the vice-president of operations & business development for Consolidated Information Technology of Toronto.

— Posted by Paolo Del Nibletto, 24/01/08, 11:43 PM, [email protected]

Digital document standards death match

The growing acceptance of digital documents around the globe has led to a skirmish that might make this movement a new challenge for the channel.

At the crux of the fight, from my interpretation of it, is a battle between proprietary versus open. In one corner there is Microsoft with its Office Open XML (OOXML). The Redmond, Wash, software giant created an Open XML translator that would enable users to convert documents between OOXML and open digital documents.

In the blue corner, as you will, is IBM, which supports Open Document Format or ODF. ODF is a file format for digital documents produced using the productivity suite, which unless you’ve lived under a rock for many years includes spreadsheets, powerpoint and word documents. ODF was created by a group called OASIS or Open Office XML technical committee. I don’t know how they get OASIS from that, but if you want more info on them check out the Web site.

Microsoft doesn’t appear to be behaving in a pro-proprietary way, but IBM isn’t taking any chances and is positioning ODF as an “open” alternative to proprietary formats such as DOC. I can understand if Microsoft has its back up, but as a 100 per cent channel friendly company they should consider the channel fallout in this fight.

Both IBM and Microsoft and allies in the fight to establish a digital document standard. Governments are waiting to see what standard gets established. It is at this point, where the channel will have to augment existing deployment if OOXML gets established.

Channel partners are in the trenches. They’re dealing with documents all the time. They have to help their clients produce them, protect them and archive them. Compliance is another issue that the channel has to deal with for its customers.

Document interchange will have to stand the test of time. Let’s face it, those documents will not be paper based in the future. An IBM executive told me that if you’re dealing with term insurance that document may have to sit idle for 40 to 50 years and then be activated (in the case of a death). If it is stored digitally, accessing that file will be critical for all parties involved.

A ch

Spies like us

Symantec Canada is taking security to another level. They even held their Christmas party in a bank vault.

Well not really because this particular bank vault hasn’t been used for close to 10 years. The vault is part of a party area at Toronto’s swanky One King West building, which is up for sale by the way.

I thought I was late for the party because in my mind I had 3:30 P.M. Don’t ask me why. Who has a start time of 3:30 for anything? I attended my daughter’s Christmas recital. She is three and amazingly cute.

So when I arrived I thought I was late when in fact I was super early since the party started at 6:30.

Oh well. It was great to see Michael Murphy the head of Symantec Canada. In his speech he mentioned my name which was nice.

Believe it or not, but this is not my first time inside a huge vault. No I am not a safe cracker or anything like that. But I actually had dinner inside a bank turned restaurant in Denver a few years ago. It is quite fascinating to eat and socialize while surrounded by chrome bars.

I had an interesting discussion with Naheed Ahmed of Maverick, the agency that handles Symantec. She said when looking at the huge door of the vault how could someone seriously break into that? I said to her that a bank robber would not be looking to break into the vault’s strongest point, but its weakest. What they normally would do is occupy a room in an adjacent building and start drilling through the outer wall and that would lead them to the vault wall. Now this is the 1930s and they did not have sophisticated alarm systems back then.

But the point remains valid. Hackers do not look to break the strongest part of your security system, but its most vulnerable area.

<One quick hit before I go. CDN has learned HP's dynamic duo, Mike Larsen and Jack Novia are planning on retiring. Larson is the senior vice-president and general manager of HP's Personal Systems Group Americas and Novia is the managing director and senior vice-president of HP's Technology Solutions Group Americas. I wish them the best. They were great characters especially up on stage during conferences.

— Posted by Paolo Del Nibletto, 13/12/07, 10:34 AM, [email protected]

Two aces and a cloud of dust

I have to hand it again to Danielle Fournier and Kathy Swail of McAfee Canada for putting on another excellent year end poker party.

The venue, the Westin Harbour Castle, was again packed with people. It was sponsored by some great solution providers such as The Herjavec Group, Xwave, CyberKlix, Dyntek, and ISA.

The food was outstanding and better than last year. And, last year’s food was great.

Ok, on to the poker, I think I was the first out this year. Last year I think I finished 13th, which I was happy with.

Losing right away got me home to my wife and kids faster, which is always nice, but I only got to play a few hands. One of them I actually won.

I lost even though I was dealt two aces right from the start. I slow played the hand to get people to play and build up the pot. My mistake was that after the turn I should have gone all in. You see by continuing to slow play I did get more chips out of one player who was playing a possible straight with a Queen, Nine as his hole cards. On the table was a 10 and a King. He was fishing for the Jack and it came in on the river card, which is the last card dealt to the table.

He went all in and I covered the bet thinking he had two kings. I lost knowing I played it as well as I could and my opponent just got lucky at the end.

One quick hit before I go. Dave MacDonald is at it again. The CEO of SoftChoice has acquired St. Louis-based Microsoft LAR Software Plus for only $45 million. The reseller has revenues of close to $200 million. I have found that MacDonald has cut some of the best deals in the past five years.

— Posted by Paolo Del Nibletto, 12/12/07, 10:34 AM, [email protected]

Marketing is no man’s land

I have attended many conferences in the high tech sector. I have even attended some analysts and financial conferences during my career. And, for the most part those are dominated by men.

I would estimate that it is 90 per cent male at these conferences. When vendors say to me that we need more women in IT I do not doubt them. I totally see it.

At the recently concluded Velocity Channel Marketing conference sponsored by Cisco in Miami it was refreshing to see more women. It was funny because I noticed something different but I could not put my finger on it right away.

The amount of women at this conference was quite high. I would guess it is about 50/50 men and women.

Luanne Tierney of Cisco spearheaded this conference. Cisco’s top keynote speaker was Wendy Bahr. The conference had speakers from Universal Studios and the NFL. Both were women. They had a great speaker who is a verbal coach and yes she is female.

I would even say that a good percentage of the partners in attendance were female.

I hosted a lunch with partners and half were of the fairer sex.

Lets face some facts here marketing is an area that is not dominated by men unlike the IT industry.

I would go as far as to say that when I meet male marketers they have the aura of a used car salesmen. I know I am overstating that, but I think marketing coming from a women is more genuine. Consider this: would you like your PC repaired by a women or a man?

I have no clue on how to break down these stereotypes. I just know that they are there.

They question I would like to ask you is does the IT industry need a women’s touch?

Two quick hits before I go. Ed Zander, the CEO of Motorola is resigning as of January of 2008.

Former EMC vice-president, Jack Sweeney has been named president and CEO of Apparent Networks of Vancouver.

— Posted by Paolo Del Nibletto, 11/12/07, 10:34 AM, [email protected]

The real YouTube experience

My wife asked me the other day if I was on YouTube. I said no. I love the service because every now and then I get nostalgic and I want to relive something of the past.

For example, do you remember the Howard Cosell interview with Muhammed Ali and Joe Frazier where Frazier, the then World Heavyweight Champion, trashed the studio? Well it is on YouTube.

Do you remember NFL hall of famer Joe Namath wearing panty hose in a commercial.

Well it is on YouTube too.

There is the cheese music video by an Italian band called Bano & Power back in the earlier 80s and it is there as well.

Anything I can remember has been put on YouTube. That is, in my mind, what makes YouTube fantastic. I can spend hours looking at stuff like the old Dean Martin roasts.I knew eventually that I would be on YouTube, but I could never really put myself on there. It is the true power of social networking that makes YouTube and other services really work.

And, yesterday by happenstance I found myself. I was part of Cisco TelePresence demonstration about a year old and my colleague Jon Arnold recorded it and put it on YouTube. The most amazing part of it is that more than 8,000 people have watched this video.

Look for yourself and do not be surprised if you are on.

One quick hit before I go. Abaca Technology Corp. has hired Leo Jolicoeur ast is new CEO succeeding founder Steve Kirsh.

— Posted by Paolo Del Nibletto, 10/12/07, 10:34 AM, [email protected]

No Christmas cheer from the High Road party </

The worst keyboards of all time

I do not write a lot of news stories about the latest keyboard. Each year Microsoft gives me one to take a look at and I think they really mastered it.

I am typing on a Systemax keyboard and it is substandard, but better than the Apple Mac one I had earlier this year.

But these keyboards are works of art compared to some of the worst of all time. PC World did a top ten worst keyboards feature recently and I was just shocked at some of the bad designs that where pushed on people back in the late seventies and eighties.

The worst of all time was the IBM PC Jr. According to PC World, this keyboard single handedly killed this PC in the market place. This keyboard was the first wireless device, while that would normally mean it is state of the art it was actually a nightmare for users because they would have to buy batteries all the time. The keyboard would not work if a user placed it on his or her lap. So what would be the point of being wireless?

And, to top it off IBM did not print any letters on the keys. If I was John Akers, the then IBM Chairman and CEO at the time, I would have fired the person who made that bone-headed decision. But, IBM fired no one and in fact had a policy against it.

The top ten was also interesting for the manufacturers who were in the PC market at the time. I did not know that Mattel and Timex made PCs.

Barbie doll maker Mattel had a PC called the Aquarius. Its keyboard had a tiny space bar. Maybe it was made for Barbie’s tiny finger.

Watch maker Timex had a PC called the Sinclair 1000 and back in 1982 they released a PC for under $100. That is truly amazing. What was more amazing was how bad its keyboard was. This keyboard crammed keys onto a flat keyboard. Timex also assigned BASIC keyword commands for each key, which is great if you want to print something you just hit the letter “P”. But it made word processing nearly impossible because every time you typed the letter “P” it printed.

One of the dumbest keyboards came from Texas Instruments. The TI 99/4 PC keyboard for some reason did not support lowercase letters. To make up for it TI told users they could use the SHIFT key to type in lowercase. Unfortunately, SHIFT “Q” also quit the computer. I can’t imagine the tech support calls on that one.

One quick hit before I go. Do you remember the Microsoft employee Stuart Scott, who was fired from his post as CIO for breaking company policies? Well he has a new job as the COO of Taylor, Bean & Whitaker Mortgage Corp., a mortgage and loans company based in Ocala, Fla.

— Posted by Paolo Del Nibletto, 28/11/07, 10:00 AM, [email protected]

The paperless office may no longer be a myth

My wife is working at this company that is trying to become a paperless office.

My response was to that statement was good luck. I have been writing about the paperless office for nearly two decades and I can tell you factually that paper and printing consumption has skyrocketed during that time.

The Ivey Business Consulting Group based at the University of Western in London, Ont., did a study that found the average employee working in a large company in Canada prints almost 50 pages daily.

If that was at an SMB company it would be slightly smaller at 35 pages per day. That is a lot of pages and it is technology that is driving this.

However, this company is really close and I would like to tell you how it was done. First off it starts with the top on down. The president wanted this done and mandated it to be done within two years.

Secondly, this is a storage issue and not one of people being forced to read off of computer screens.

He gave someone internally the task of scanning all these documents.

He came to the realization that there were some documents, mainly legal, that would have to remain in paper form. And, instead of giving up he accepted it and trying to make the office as paperless as possibly.

And, with tools such as file it for dummies and low cost products such as Fujitsu’s ScanSnap now people in business on their own or in a small office can go paperless.Let’s face some facts here: PDF is not a complex thing any longer. People understand it and it has taken time, but I think we are finally at the point where a large number of companies in Canada can actually try it and succeed.

There are many benefits such improved productivity, cost savings and environmental matters.

But, what seemed to be a pipe dream many years ago looks to be close to a reality today.

Two quick hit before I go. Tech Data executive Joe Quaglia will be its new chief marketing officer replacing Bob O’Malley who left to be the CEO of InFocus.

And, Henry Bazarte conviction of Dot-com fraud was upheld last week. He will stay in prison.

— Posted by Paolo Del Nibletto, 27/11/07, 10:00 AM, [email protected]

Collecting PCs as memorabilia

Harry McCracken of PC World did a story a while ago about old computers and while he admits most do not hold any monetary value they do have historical significance.

He says that PCs have been around a very long time and people are now getting nostalgic about them. Case in point, the Vintage Computer Festival is a show similar to the ones that sell sports memorabilia. Let’s hope O.J. Simpson does not know about them.

I can’t imagine why anyone would want to keep some of these relics since they were so frustrating to use at the time. Even today’s computers are frustrating.

The most sought after in terms of price is the Apple I, which had an ominous price tag of $666.66 back in 1976. Why Apple wanted to issue a price that is also the sign of the devil is beyond me, but if you have one today it could be worth $25,000.

The original PC, the Mits Altair, is worth $2,000. It originally priced at $621. The first PC I ever saw was the Commodore PET at my high school. That was released in 1977 and that hunk of junk has actually maintained its value over the years. It is valued at $500. One that has severally decreased in value is the Cray 1 super computer. In 1976 that sucker cost $5 million. Today collectors estimate its worth at $10,000.

The IBM PC in 1981 was priced at $1,565 and collecters say it is valued at $500. Charlie Chaplin is crying.

One quick hit before I go. PR practitioner from High Road Donna Araujo is leaving the fold to take a corporate gig at a pharmaceutical company in Mississauga, Ont. She was fantastic to work with and would also go the extra mile for me. Case example: finding my coat at last year’s Christmas party. All the best Donna.

— Posted by Paolo Del Nibletto, 26/11/07, 10:00 AM, [email protected]

Day off security thoughts

I took a day off yesterday and while my American friends were having Thanksgiving I was giving thanks that I did not have to drive in Toronto’s first snow storm of the season.

Like most people who work a lot I take days off to run errands.

One of them was to winterize my gas guzzling SUV. I like the SUV and I really do not care who knows that. It is not that I am against the green movement. I just like the ride. It is comfortable for me and it is great for my wife who takes the kids to school each work day.

I took the car to the dealership and I sat in the newly built customer lounge. This was really a great lounge with a fantastic flat screen TV. Unfortunately, some woman was watching a boring soap opera. What a waste. I sat down and thought to myself this isn’t any fun so I got up and approached her face-to-face. I asked in an audible manner if she was watching TV. She quickly said no. Then I asked her if she minded if I changed and put on the Tha

Would you recommend this article?


Thanks for taking the time to let us know what you think of this article!
We'd love to hear your opinion about this or any other story you read in our publication.

Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

Featured Download

Paolo Del Nibletto
Paolo Del Nibletto
Former editor of Computer Dealer News, covering Canada's IT channel community.

Related Tech News

CDN in your inbox

CDN delivers a critical analysis of the competitive landscape detailing both the challenges and opportunities facing solution providers. CDN's email newsletter details the most important news and commentary from the channel.