Microsoft Said to Plan Sales Reorganisation Focused on Cloud

 

HIGHLIGHTS
Microsoft is planning to announce a reorganisation as early as next week
Job cuts are likely to result from the changes
There may be other smaller personnel changes in company’s other parts
Microsoft Corp. is planning a global sales reorganisation to better focus on selling cloud software, according to people familiar with the matter.

The restructuring is scheduled to be announced as soon as next week and will impact the Worldwide Commercial Business under Judson Althoff and Jean-Philippe Courtois’ global sales and marketing group, the people said.Microsoft Said to Plan Sales Reorganisation Focused on Cloud

Job cuts are likely to result from the changes, said the people, who asked not to be identified speaking about unannounced plans. The shifts will be some of the most significant in the sales force in years and will also impact local marketing efforts in various countries, said one of the people. There may be other smaller personnel changes in other parts of the company too, one of other people said. A Microsoft spokesman declined to comment.

The company’s sales force has been trained for years to sell software for use on desktops and servers. Now it’s more important to convince customers to sign up for cloud services hosted in Microsoft’s datacenters. The Redmond, Washington-based company wants to accelerate this switch to add more revenue and catch cloud market leader Amazon.com.
Friday is the end of Microsoft’s fiscal year, the first in which Althoff and Courtois have run the sales and marketing organisations, taking over from Kevin Turner who left in 2016.

The Puget Sound Business Journal reported earlier than the company planned a companywide reorganisation around the cloud.

 

Cisco’s Spark grows into a phone and meeting platform for the cloud

20151005 Cisco headquarters sign

Cisco Systems is rethinking its collaboration tools from the bottom up, turning the lowly Spark text-messaging app into a cloud-based platform that includes videoconferencing and the core features of an enterprise phone system.

Spark, which debuted last year as an app called Project Squared, is central to the company’s strategy of using cloud computing to deliver collaboration to everyone in an organization. Cisco says it’s not abandoning its dedicated collaboration products; in fact, it’s offering ways to hook some desk phones and a big-screen video meeting system into Spark. But the company’s focus is now on the cloud.

At the center of Spark is one-to-one and group messaging and content sharing with persistence, so messages are still available after the conversation is over. When the new version arrives in the first quarter of next year, users will also be able to make and receive voice calls and host and participate in video meetings from within Spark. These additions begin to fulfill Cisco’s vision for the system.

“When we launched Project Squared, we said, ‘We’re showing you an app, but what we’re building is a platform,'” said Ross Daniels, senior director of collaboration marketing.

The services that users will reach through Spark will be hosted in Cisco’s own cloud infrastructure and sold by the same kinds of partners that deliver the company’s collaboration products now, including service providers and systems integrators. In the future, it’s likely that aspects of Spark will also be hosted in partners’ data centers through Cisco’s Intercloud platform, Daniels said.

As a voice-calling platform, Spark will go beyond simple chatting to include voicemail and the basic capabilities of a corporate PBX, such as the ability to hold and transfer calls.

But Cisco knows many of its customers are heavily invested in phones, videoconferencing systems and collaboration software in their own facilities. Even though smartphones are ubiquitous and highly capable, enterprises keep buying desk phone systems for optimal sound quality and advanced features like call logging and departmental billing, according to Daniels. “Our phone business is as strong as it has ever been,” he said.

The company will let employees at sites with these Cisco on-premises platforms, like Unified Communications Manager, take advantage of Spark cloud services. New gateway software will make the Spark cloud aware of the on-premises systems as part of the same enterprise. Third-party systems like Microsoft Exchange and Active Directory can also be part of this hybrid setup.

This will allow for smooth integration, Cisco says. For example, when an employee with a desk phone gets a call from a coworker who’s using Spark, a one-on-one meeting room in Spark can immediately open the phone user’s PC browser so the two workers can use video or share content.

Spark can also be integrated into specific devices in the office that can be updated to run Spark as an operating system. This capability will come first to Cisco’s 7800 and 8800 Series phones and the Cisco Telepresence SX-10 big-screen videoconferencing system. A meeting host will be able to connect an SX-10 to a Spark meeting by entering a code or just by walking into the room and tapping one button on the Spark smartphone app.

Another addition to Spark be a powerful spur to broader adoption. Cisco will now let developers extend the platform by writing their own applications or adding ones from third parties. Starting Tuesday, the company is offering APIs (application programming interfaces) through a developer portal with community support.

When Spark becomes available, it will include native integration with several applications, including Instagram, incident management tool PagerDuty and task management app Trello. For example, without any coding, users can set up Trello to notify a group chatroom in Spark every time a task in that group’s project is completed, Daniels said. Spark will be a data source for app integration services like IFTTT and Zapier to set up actions such as notifications.

Safe Harbor’s ending makes for a good start for Cloud28+

The European Commission headquarters in Brussels (8)

After two months of beta testing, European enterprise app and service store Cloud28+ is open for business, making it easier for companies wanting to host their applications or data in Europe to find a home for them.

A beta test is usually a shakedown, intended to remove any lingering bugs, but for Cloud28+ it was more of a shake-up.

The Cloud28+ catalog offers European businesses around 700 infrastructure-, platform- and software-as-a-service offerings from almost 150 partners. It allows them to choose services based on price, performance, and the location where the data is hosted, among other criteria.

Barely a week after the beta test began, the first shock came, as data sovereignty and hosting location unexpectedly took on new importance for many European cloud services businesses. The European Union’s top court, asked to clarify a point of law in a case concerning Facebook in Ireland, struck down the Safe Harbor Agreement that had previously allowed businesses to export EU citizens’ personal data — that of their customers or employees, for instance — to the U.S. for processing. Those that weren’t scrambling to make new arrangements were left wondering whether they complied with EU data protection law, which requires that personal data be afforded the same level of privacy protection wherever it is processed.

The second shock for Cloud28+ came two weeks later, when its main backer, Hewlett-Packard, said it will pull out of the public cloud business come January 31, although the company pledged ongoing support for its Helion OpenStack distribution and to continue managing hybrid cloud services for its customers.

Hewlett-Packard was in the process of splitting itself into the new HP, focusing on printers and PCs, and Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE). Their separation became official on Nov. 1, but it was another month before HPE anointed its new preferred cloud provider, Microsoft Azure.

Now the Cloud28+ team are putting all that behind them: The catalog is now open for business, HPE’s senior marketing manager for Cloud28+, Guillaume Runser, wrote on Thursday.

The catalog, at cloudofclouds.eu, lets users search for and compare cloud services, although if they want to buy, they’ll be redirected to service providers’ own sites to sign up. There are other sites cataloging services hosted in Europe, such asendofsafeharbor.eu, but it doesn’t offer the same search tools.

While the main backer of Cloud28+, HPE, is throwing in its lot with Microsoft for hosting, that hasn’t stopped other hosting providers from joining.

A last-minute arrival before the launch was ZettaBox, which itself only opened for business in June, aiming to profit from restrictions in some European countries on where data can be hosted. The tearing up of the Safe Harbor Agreement came as a bonus.

“Cloud28+ was a logical community for Zettabox to join as their mission is to build a cohesive and collaborative cloud environment, for Europeans by Europeans,” said James Kinsella, founder and CEO of Zettabox.

Concern about data sovereignty is unlikely to be just a passing fad: The European Commission hopes to have a new Safe Harbor Agreement in place early in the new year, but there are concerns that the court that struck down the previous one may not have said its last word in the matter.