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Every once in a while, even hardened cynics like me have to wipe the sneer from our faces and admit that some hapless vendor might be getting something right. In this case, the vendor is Microsoft, and the thing they may be getting a little more right is the subject of last month’s column: Microsoft Business Solutions and its enterprise software product line.

Don’t worry, I haven’t gone soft on MBS. I promise I’ll still hide behind the columnist’s traditional safe harbor statement — they still have to execute against the new strategy — but at a minimum MBS deserves credit for addressing a host of issues that have plagued them for the last two years.

Lets start with Project Green: Green was originally intended to be a complete rewrite of the code base for the four main products that make up MBS: Axapta, Navision, Great Plains and Solomon. The vagueness of the effort’s goals and timetable left Microsoft’s partners in the untenable position of trying to sell today’s products against the prospect of a much more perfect and undeniably interesting future. A very bad idea.

Microsoft has wisely scaled back Green in a number of substantive ways. The most important change is that, instead of a complete rewrite, MBS is going to focus on Web service-enabling the four products so that their respective functions can be used — somewhat interchangeably — as the platform for a composite application solution that would be independent of any individual product. This makes much more sense and will be not only easier to do, but easier for customers to make use of.

Then there’s the channel. The channel has been a mess, with channel partners competing against each other while interesting add-on products remain unavailable to the wider MBS customer base or are unsupported by small, resource-strapped VARs. To remedy these problems, MBS later this year will launch two services: one to help find these solutions and bring them more into the mainstream of the sales process, and another to make sure that channel partners aren’t competing with each other for the same customers. And the biggest and best of the partner products will be folded into MBS’ new Industry Builder program, which will ensure that they are well-productized and well-supported throughout MBS’ burgeoning global empire.

Meanwhile, MBS executives outlined some important areas where the synergy between MBS and the rest of the Microsoft world would take place. The most important in my mind is in what MBS calls the “user experience.” The basic premise is that Office and Outlook constitute the core of the user experiences of many millions of customers and prospective customers. Leveraging that familiarity in the MBS product line is something that can add tremendous clout to MBS sales efforts in the training and IT-resource constrained mid-market.

So far the report card looks good. The one place where the strategic overview did fall short was on the revenue and profitability picture. Doug Burgum, MBS top gun and chief history buff, claims that profits aren’t in the plan, and that revenues are growing consistent with the industry. That’s one place where no columnists’ safe harbor is justified. This is Microsoft we’re talking about, not “the rest of the industry.” Doug needs at a minimum to articulate how the above changes in channel and product strategy might translate into more revenues, or show how something else he has up his sleeve will.

We’re no longer expecting MBS to be a $10 billion company in 2010, something that Doug’s sales pal Orlando Ayala spent 2003 claiming was a real possibility. But we still expect some degree of greatness to justify the Microsoft brand, the many billions in investments, and the fear and loathing that MBS still generates across the enterprise software industry. At least at Convergence, we could see that the beginnings of a comprehensive plan. And not a moment too soon.

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The Car That Repairs Itself

Quick Fix and Get your Kicks

_Microcapsules embedded in the carbon-fiber composite break open and dump a liquid “healing agent” into a crack as soon as it forms due to standard wear and tear. Catalyst microparticles react with the agent, and it hardens, sealing the crack. Researchers project that a composite car body possessing these chemical elements could retain 90 percent of its original strength, which would significantly lengthen its life span. To protect against more energetic abuse, say an enthusiastic whack from a karate blackbelt, superflexible, springy “bubbloy” absorbs the energy of the impact by crumpling up. After the impact, the bubbloy pops right back into its original shape. The alloy–a mixture of palladium, nickel, copper and phosphorus that’s fairly lightweight and can be squished like a red rubber ball–was developed at Caltech._

It’s a shame how easily cars get dented. All it takes is a runaway shopping cart or a reckless jerk pulling into an adjacent parking spot. Why not make them from carbon-fiber composites, which are stronger, stiffer and lighter than steel? Because such composites have a serious shortcoming: They break with little or no warning. Over time, tiny cracks form due to the cumulative insults of vibration, impacts and thermal cycling. Eventually the microcracks (difficult to detect because they often form under the surface) create large cracks, leading to sudden, catastrophic failure. No one wants a car that shatters after driving over a speed bump.

But what if composite materials could repair themselves the way the human body attends to its own injuries? That’s the question Scott White asked himself when he first thought of self-healing structural composites. “Your body heals itself continuously over your lifetime,” says White, a professor at the University of Illinois Urbana†Champaign. If you get a cut or bruise, the repair process begins automatically. The local effects of the cut itself send a signal to nearby platelet cells and white blood cells to get to work. “We liked that idea–healing cracks as they form,” White says.

The material White’s team developed contains millions of liquid-filled microcapsules. When a crack forms, the shells of the microcapsules (which measure roughly 1/250 of an inch) rupture, releasing the liquid “healing agent” dicyclopentadiene (DCPD), which is a polymer precursor. Capillary action draws the liquid into the fissure, where it comes into contact with embedded catalyst particles, causing the liquid to harden in a matter of minutes. By catching and patching the cracks while they’re still tiny, a car’s body could retain up to 90 percent of its original strength, extending its life span considerably.

Of course, once all the capsules have been broken, the material can no longer heal itself. White’s solution is to make the material even more like a living creature. “We’re getting closer to the biological model. People have a highly developed circulatory model that transports not only the building blocks for regeneration and healing but also nutrients and everything else in your body.” White’s research team is working on a fabrication technique to make materials with circulatory networks embedded within them. “At that point we could replenish the supply of healing agents indefinitely throughout the lifetime of that material or structure, and that would involve a â€heart’ to pump the fluids around the network and a â€gas’ tank you’d fill up periodically with a supply of healing agent.”

While self-healing composites could provide years of crack-free driving, they won’t be able to repair damage incurred in a serious collision. That’s where “bubbloy” (from “bubble” and “alloy”) could come into play. Developed in Caltech’s materials science lab, bubbloy is made from a frothy mixture of palladium, nickel, copper and phosphorus. You can hit a bubbloy fender with a hammer and it’ll pop back to its original shape. Doctoral candidate Chris Veazey, who created the material with fellow Caltech student Greg Welsh, says, “We think it might be especially useful for the crumple zone of a car. It should make a car safer.” Demolition derbies will never be the same.

Is Google Adwords Advertising Itself Honestly?

I’ve been working on PPC for my dad’s dental seminars business, and I have to admit that while I like a challenge, the system is really overwhelming. It makes me wonder whether Google AdWords – the PPC traffic/platform we’re buying/using – is honest in how it promotes itself.

Consider these two claims that AdWords makes:

1) Get started in minutes.

The first claim is obviously nonsense.

First, you need to have your landing page’s graphics designed.

Then you need to have the pics sliced and coded into html, which takes at least a day for even the highest volume shops at their most expensive. Otherwise it’s a few days.

Next you have to do keyword research and plan out how you’re going to organize the campaigns thematically. Yes, campaigns is plural, because everyone knows that to manage AdWords efficiently you have to make liberal use of campaigns in your account structure.

Assuming you want a good quality score, you’ll probably want to further organize campaigns by match type, and subdivide adgroups into plurals and singulars.

Then, naturally, you’ll need to brainstorm ad copy that matches the particular nuances of each campaign’s keywords and match types.

That copy has to be reflected back on the landing pages, which will also need additional copy.

Web analytics have to be integrated, and you’ll likely want to use a split-testing solution immediately to increase your conversions

The second claim also is laughable.

First, Google has this arbitrary algorithm known as Quality Score.

Second, Google has a ‘minimum first page bid.’ That’s a variant that also plays with these and other factors.

How in the world is that not a minimum spend requirement?

On PPC Blog’s private forum, people are calling it price gouging.

Which is all, naturally, assuming you’re not mislead by common PPC myths.

This is a system small business people can just hop into??

This black box of a system is bloody hard to deal with. What have your experiences been?

Verizon Sells Two Million Iphones In The September Quarter

Carrier Verizon Wireless, a joint venture of U.S. telecommunications firm Verizon Communications and UK multinational mobile network operator Vodafone, today announced financial results for the September quarter. Big Red sold two million iPhone units which represents a 300,000 units decline compared to the June quarter. Verizon was also behind rival AT&T which yesterday reported activating 2.7 million iPhones in the quarter out of a total of 4.8 million total devices.

In a separate statement, rival AT&T said it activated a million units of the new iPhone 4S on its network as of Tuesday, while Verizon made no mention of iPhone 4S in its quarterly filing. iPhone 4S went on sale in the United States, UK, Australia, France, Germany, Canada and Japan on Friday, October 14. The phone will roll out to 22 new countries later this month, with regional online Apple Stores in those countries accepting reservations beginning today.

Verizon’s full press release is right after the break.

Verizon Generates Strong Wireless Results, Increased Cash Flow, and FiOS and Strategic Services Growth in 3Q



· 49 cents in diluted earnings per share (EPS), compared with 23 cents per share in 3Q 2010.

· 56 cents per share in adjusted EPS (non-GAAP), which excludes 7 cents per share in non-operational items, compared with 55 cents in adjusted EPS in 3Q 2010.


· $15.0 billion in service revenues in 3Q 2011, up 6.1 percent year over year; data revenues of $6.1 billion, up 20.5 percent, representing 40.6 percent of service revenues; total revenues of $17.7 billion, up 9.1 percent.

· 2.4 percent growth in retail postpaid ARPU over 3Q 2010; retail postpaid data ARPU up 15.7 percent; retail service ARPU also up 2.4 percent.

· 29.0 percent operating income margin; record-high 47.8 percent Segment EBITDA margin on service revenues (non-GAAP), up 60 basis points year over year.


· 138,000 FiOS Internet and 131,000 FiOS TV net additions, with increased sales penetration for both products; 4.0 million customers now subscribe to FiOS TV.

· 8.8 percent year-over-year increase in consumer ARPU; FiOS consumer retail revenues represent nearly 60 percent of total consumer revenues.

· 15.6 percent increase in strategic services revenues, representing nearly 50 percent of global enterprise revenues.

NEW YORK – With another strong showing by Verizon Wireless, and continued growth in FiOS and strategic business services, Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE, Nasdaq: VZ) today reported third-quarter 2011 financial and operational results that keep the company on track to achieve its full-year earnings and revenue guidance.

Verizon reported 49 cents in EPS in the quarter, compared with 23 cents per share in third-quarter 2010.

Adjusted third-quarter 2011 earnings (non-GAAP) of 56 cents per share exclude 7 cents per share for a non-operational charge relating to a remeasurement, based on an actuarial valuation of pension plans. No adjustments were made for the previously announced $250 million (5 cents per share) negative impact in the quarter due to storm-related repair costs and a two-week strike affecting the Wireline segment. Comparable adjusted third-quarter 2010 earnings were 55 cents per share, excluding the impact of non-operational charges, the largest of which was related to pension and benefits remeasurements.

Well-Positioned for 4Q and 2012

“Verizon emerges from the third quarter in a strong position to accelerate growth,” said Lowell McAdam, Verizon president and chief executive officer. “We faced significant challenges in recent months, yet delivered results that keep us on track to meet our 2011 earnings and revenue guidance, with great momentum expected entering 2012. We continue to grow revenues from strategic products and to increase free cash flow through improved operating performance and disciplined capital spending.”

McAdam added, “Verizon Wireless delivered impressive results across the board in the third quarter, and we are geared up for an even better fourth quarter, with new smartphones, tablets and data devices coming to market. In FiOS, we expect to capitalize on pent-up demand and deliver stronger growth in the fourth quarter. In enterprise, the integration of Terremark and recent acquisition of CloudSwitch have significantly improved our competitive positioning.”

Verizon has targeted 2011 adjusted EPS growth of 5 percent to 8 percent from an adjusted base of $2.08 in EPS in 2010, and 2011 revenue growth of 4 percent to 8 percent on a comparable basis with 2010.

Consolidated Revenue and Cash Flow Growth

In third-quarter 2011, Verizon’s total operating revenues were $27.9 billion on a consolidated basis, an increase of 5.4 percent compared with third-quarter 2010. Total operating expenses were $23.3 billion, an increase of 0.7 percent.

Consolidated EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization) for the quarter totaled $8.8 billion, up 19.2 percent year over year.

Cash flow from operating activities totaled $21.5 billion in the first nine months of 2011, and capital expenditures totaled $12.5 billion — on track to meet the company’s full-year guidance of $16.5 billion. From the $9.0 billion in free cash flow (non-GAAP, cash flow from operations less capex) over the first nine months, Verizon has paid $4.1 billion in dividends to shareholders, and in September the Verizon Board of Directors approved a dividend increase for the fifth consecutive year.

Verizon Wireless Delivers Strong Results

In third-quarter 2011, Verizon Wireless again delivered strong growth in revenues, retail customers and other connections, driven by increased smartphone penetration and increased retail postpaid ARPU (average monthly service revenue per user).

Wireless Financial Highlights

· Service revenues in third-quarter 2011 totaled $15.0 billion, up 6.1 percent year over year. Data revenues were $6.1 billion, up more than $1.0 billion or 20.5 percent year over year, and represent 40.6 percent of all service revenues. Total revenues were $17.7 billion, up 9.1 percent year over year.

· Retail postpaid ARPU grew 2.4 percent over third-quarter 2010, to $54.89. Retail postpaid data ARPU increased to $22.22, up 15.7 percent year over year. Retail service ARPU also grew 2.4 percent, to $53.21.

· Wireless operating income margin was 29.0 percent. Verizon Wireless generated $7.2 billion of EBITDA in third-quarter 2011, an increase of 7.5 percent year over year. Segment EBITDA margin on service revenues (non-GAAP) was 47.8 percent, up 60 basis points over third-quarter 2010 and up 240 basis points over second-quarter 2011. This was the highest Segment EBITDA margin on service revenues Verizon Wireless has ever reported.

Wireless Operational Highlights

· Verizon Wireless added 1.3 million total connections in third-quarter 2011, including 882,000 retail postpaid customers, and 367,000 wholesale and other connections. These additions exclude acquisitions and adjustments.

· At the end of the third quarter, the company had 107.7 million total connections, an increase of 6.5 percent year over year, consisting of 90.7 million retail customers and 17.0 million wholesale and other connections.

· At the end of the third quarter, smartphones accounted for 39 percent of the Verizon Wireless retail postpaid customer phone base, up from 36 percent at the end of second-quarter 2011.

· Retail postpaid churn was 0.94 percent in third-quarter 2011, an improvement of 13 basis points year over year. Total retail churn was 1.26 percent, an improvement of 17 basis points year over year.

· Verizon Wireless continued to roll out its 4G LTE mobile broadband network, the largest 4G LTE network in the United States, during the quarter. As of yesterday (Oct. 20), Verizon Wireless 4G LTE service was available in 165 markets covering a population of more than 186 million, across the country. With additional markets planned before year-end, the company’s 4G LTE network build-out is ahead of schedule and has already exceeded the company’s 2011 target of covering a population of 185 million.

· The company introduced five new 4G LTE devices: the DROID BIONIC by Motorola, Pantech Breakout, Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 tablet, Compaq Mini CQ10-688nr netbook and HP Pavilion dm 1-3010nr notebook. On Oct. 14, the Apple iPhone 4S became available on the Verizon Wireless 3G network. On Oct. 18, the company announced that the DROID RAZR by Motorola, a 4G LTE device, will be available in November.

· Verizon Wireless opened its LTE Innovation Center in Waltham, Mass., in July and its Application Innovation Center in San Francisco in August.

· The company continued to invest in and enhance its 3G network, the nation’s largest and most reliable 3G network.

FiOS, Strategic Services Transform Wireline Revenue Mix

Wireline Financial Highlights

· Third-quarter 2011 operating revenues were $10.1 billion, a decline of 1.3 percent compared with third-quarter 2010. Consumer revenues grew 1.1 percent compared with third-quarter 2010.

· Consumer ARPU for wireline services was $94.20 in third-quarter 2011, up 8.8 percent compared with third-quarter 2010. ARPU for FiOS customers continues to be more than $146. Revenues for Verizon’s FiOS services to consumer retail customers generated nearly 60 percent of consumer wireline revenues in third-quarter 2011, compared with approximately 50 percent in third-quarter 2010.

· Global enterprise revenues totaled $3.9 billion in the quarter, up 2.1 percent compared with third-quarter 2010. Sales of strategic services — including Terremark cloud services, security and IT solutions, and strategic networking — increased 15.6 percent compared with third-quarter 2010 and now represent nearly 50 percent of global enterprise revenues. Terremark achieved record new sales bookings in third-quarter 2011. International revenue, which makes up approximately 15 percent of global enterprise, grew 9.8 percent year over year.

· Segment EBITDA (non-GAAP) was $2.2 billion in the quarter, including the $250 million impact from the storms and strike. This compares with $2.3 billion in third-quarter 2010. As a result, segment EBITDA margin (non-GAAP) was 21.4 percent in third-quarter 2011, compared with 22.7 percent in third-quarter 2010.

Wireline Operational Highlights

· Verizon added 138,000 net new FiOS Internet connections and 131,000 net new FiOS TV connections in third-quarter 2011. Verizon had a total of 4.6 million FiOS Internet and 4.0 million FiOS TV connections at the end of the quarter. With the clearing of FiOS installation backlogs caused by the storms and strike, Verizon expects to add at least 200,000 FiOS Internet and 200,000 FiOS TV customers in fourth-quarter 2011.

· FiOS penetration (subscribers as a percentage of potential subscribers) continued to increase. FiOS Internet penetration was 35 percent at the end of third-quarter 2011, compared with 31 percent at the end of third-quarter 2010. In the same periods, FiOS TV penetration was 31 percent, compared with 27 percent, respectively.

· Broadband connections totaled 8.6 million at the end of third-quarter 2011, a 2.8 percent year-over-year increase. FiOS Internet connections more than offset a decrease in DSL-based HSI connections, resulting in a net increase of 20,000 broadband connections from second-quarter 2011. Total voice connections, which measures FiOS Digital Voice connections in addition to traditional switched access lines, declined 7.6 percent to 24.5 million — the smallest year-over-year decline since fourth-quarter 2006.

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Towards Trusted And Open Solutions

As articulated several years ago, the mission of the Storage Networking Industry Association (SNIA) is to ensure that storage networks become efficient, complete, and trusted solutions across the IT community.While this is a noble goal for a vendor association, it implies that SANs have not been efficient, have been incomplete, and have not established widespread trust within the broader end user community. While all of these assumptions are still valid, significant progress has been made over the five years of the SNIA’s existence.

Efficiency of SANs

Efficiency is a broad category that spans everything from performance to ease of implementation and management. SAN technology has demonstrable efficiency in terms of performance. Host bus adapters (HBAs) operate at wire speed and with minimal CPU utilization. SAN fabrics offer high performance 1 and 2 gigabit per second (Gbps) switching, as well as the ability to aggregate interswitch links to optimize throughput in a multi-switch fabric. SAN-attached storage devices offer multiple 1 and 2 gigabit ports and high performance RAID controllers and caches that minimize the latency of read and write operations.

New IP storage technologies have also demonstrated efficiency in terms of wire-speed throughput and optimum utilization of local and wide area IP networks. With 4 gigabit and 10 gigabit interfaces on the horizon, even greater performance is expected, making SAN technology the obvious choice for efficiently moving block data from servers to storage assets.

The same level of efficiency has not been reached, however, in terms of ease of implementation and management. Beyond the underlying transport, storage is a complex discipline that has required manual administration to create, assign, and monitor storage resources. This inherent complexity is exacerbated by a storage network, since the ability to share storage assets between multiple servers also requires close monitoring of asset assignment.

Installing and optimizing a SAN configuration is far more complex than a comparable direct-attached solution, but once established, SANs offer significantly more value in terms of consolidated storage, backup, and other applications. The result is that while customers may feel some new pains in implementing SANs, many old and familiar pains thankfully disappear.

Making SAN solutions efficient requires addressing all the remaining inhibitors to configuration and management. The SNIA Storage Management Initiative (SMI) is attempting to resolve inefficiencies in storage networking by offering a uniform management interface that spans all vendors and all aspects of storage transport and placement. This goal has been central to the recent activity of the SNIA and a major beneficiary of SNIA funding and volunteer effort. The SMI effort has been elevated as an official SNIA Architecture, with shepherding by SNIA through ANSI and the appropriate standards bodies.

In the long term, a viable SAN will offer the dual benefits of efficient performance and efficient management. In the near term, customers frustrated with the current inefficiencies of SANs can expect steady progress towards resolution, but no immediate remedies. SMI and virtualization initiatives are attempting to mask the complexity of SANs and simplify management, but these are intricate problems that cannot be fixed overnight. Multi-vendor cooperation between storage, switch, and software suppliers is at least accelerating the development of new management solutions, particularly compared to the sluggish performance of vendors on this front a few years ago.

Page 2: Complete SAN Solutions

Meeting Gdpr Requirements With Mdm Solutions

Even if your business isn’t headquartered in the EU, GDPR affects you if you control data on EU citizens (“data subjects”), or if you process data of EU citizens. The scope is very broad, and a significant number of non-EU companies are affected.

The intersection of GDPR — which is designed to protect people’s rights regarding their own personal data — and personal devices like smartphones is important for a couple of reasons. One is that the smartphone is a treasure trove of personal information for the owner, so protecting that information is critical. On the other hand, smartphones are also relevant to GDPR because they are gateways to customer data, and GDPR requirements set fairly strict rules about how personal information and customer data has to be treated and protected.

As an IT manager, smartphones are pretty far down on your GDPR compliance checklist — but that doesn’t mean you can ignore them completely. In every case, though, the key to checking them off the “to-do” list comes down to good mobile device management (MDM) tools and policies.

My Phone, My Data

When it comes to personal data on a user’s own phone (even when owned or controlled by the company), GDPR doesn’t put much responsibility on you. Essentially, GDPR only swings into action if you start backing up that information. Under GDPR’s rules, you have to give people control over what data you store, and you have to be careful to protect that data.

There are two main approaches to staying GDPR compliant when it comes to personal data on a user’s phone. One is to avoid backing up personal data at all. In that case, you don’t have it, so you don’t have to worry about it. If you’re using a “work/home” profile to segment the smartphone, you can back up the “work” side, leave the “home” side alone, effectively sidestep GDPR liability — although you should remind users that they ought to back up their own data.

If you think that a full backup is part of your job, then there are three tasks to get everything in GDPR alignment. First, you have to get consent to store someone else’s personal data. If people sign a BYOD/CYOD policy as part of getting their phone, make sure that it includes a clause giving consent to the company to back up the data.

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Second, you have to give people an option to withdraw consent. This one is up to you: you could say that if you can’t back up the phone, it can’t be connected. Or, you could allow someone to have a phone under your BYOD/CYOD policy, but not take responsibility for backing it up.

The third task is to set in place some policies to be sure that those backups remain private and don’t get shifted around from country to country (something else GDPR discourages, especially between the EU and non-EU countries). GDPR requires that you inform someone if their data is breached, so the best thing to do is avoid losing your backups. For most IT managers, that’s no surprise, since they’ve been protecting server backups since the beginning. This should just be a reminder to protect users’ personal phone backups with the same rigor that you protect server backups — and a breach of either type of backup would likely activate a variety of GDPR notification procedures.

My Phone … Customer Data

The other area where MDM would come into contact with GDPR is when smartphones have access to customer data. The biggest deal is a data breach: if data are lost and someone else gains access to them and the breach is “likely to result in a high risk to the rights and freedoms of natural persons,” then you have to notify everyone about what happened. GDPR has lengthy requirements for this, depending on how much data were lost and how sensitive the data are.

GDPR requires significant changes in how companies process, store and transfer personal data. With a few small tweaks, IT managers can ensure that mobile devices don’t pose a problem with GDPR compliance.

Download this free guide to learn more about how to protect both personal and corporate smartphone data.

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