ISSUE Feb 18
FUTURE TRENDS ISSUE #173
THE BIG INTERVIEW
Exertis retail director Mike Buley reveals how the distributor remains at the top of the food chain
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TheEditor When a trade show isn’t a trade show
CES HAS BECOME its own bizarre cultural phenomenon. Acting as the kick-starter for the tech calendar, the 51st Consumer Electronics Show was full of futuristic highs and literal show-stopping lows, but the most remarkable thing is just how much coverage it now gets from the mainstream press. I find it especially interesting when I compare CES and (to a lesser extent) MWC with the trade shows covered by our sister publications. For all the ballyhoo that surrounds CES, the wide range of shows covered across other industries cause barely a blip on the radar of national newspapers, radio stations and TV networks. That is save for E3 which, at this point, is closer to a carnival than a trade show. But yet, CES is an event for mass consumption, with product reveals and announcements penetrating the bubble of public consciousness. Why is this the case in our industry? Simply, one has to point to the excitement inherently generated by the aspirational technologies shown off. People want to see cool, shiny things that promise to improve their lives; CES presents just that. But we mustn’t forget the focus of this month’s edition: distribution – a theme which lends itself to that buzz, excitement and reminds us why the industry is still flourishing. A good distributor will go unnoticed to an end-consumer, but their efforts to bring a product to market are a vital part of the supply chain and exactly what we’re examining this month. One final note of congratulations to all of those nominated for the PCR Awards. Well done on making it this far and good luck, we look forward to welcoming you to our own industry show on March 7th.
“People want to see cool, shiny things that promise to improve their lives; CES presents just that”
Jonathan Easton, Editor email@example.com
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THE BIG INTERVIEW EXERTIS
Contents February 2018 PCR Awards shortlist Day at distie
The nominations are in and the finalists can now be revealed
CES success stories
We round-up our highlights from the Las Vegas show
PCR takes a trip to Tech Data to see behind the scenes
Following its merger with Datto, Autotask talks to PCR
At a glance 09 CHIP BUG FALLOUT Following the Spectre and Meltdown chip bugs, PCR looks at the long term impact on the market and chip manufacturers 30 SETTING UP SHOP In a crowded market, we examine how start-up distributors can carve out a niche for themselves and be successful in the Channel
Regulars 12 Life in the Channel 14 Industry opinion 40 Products 49 In my team 50 Logging off
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Shortlist UNVEILED THE PCR AWARDS are a staple of the tech calendar and a must-attend event for anyone in the UK Channel. Presented by the hilarious comic Phil Wang and sponsored by Headline Partner Ci Distribution, Reseller Category Partner Northamber, Distribution Category Partner AOC International, After Party Host ASUS and Event Partner HANNspree UK, the Awards will be taking place at The Brewery in Central London on Wednesday 7th March 2018. Tickets are available now from www.pcr-awards.com.
RETAILER CATEGORY System Builder CCL Computers Cyber Power Utopia Computers PC Specialist Yoyo Tech
National Retailer Dixons Carphone GAME iSmash John Lewis Maplin
Independent Retailer Chips Computers Chesterfield GHI Computers Hull Computers The Computer Studio Xgates Computer
Online Retailer BT Shop Ebuyer Onbuy Overclockers UK SCAN
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RESELLER CATEGORY SPONSORED BY NORTHAMBER SMB Reseller Ebuyer FirstNet Solutions Kingsfield Computers SCAN Sweethaven Business Services
Corporate VAR Britannic Technologies Centerprise International Computacenter Softcat Transputec
MSP Specialist ATG Interoute Mirus SCC Transputec
CHANNEL SERVICES CATEGORY Dealer Services Provider Brigantia Network Group
Synaxon X Gates Computers
Marketing & PR Agent42 Berkley CompTIA Dynamo Communications Gekko
Cloud Services Amazon Web Services Calligo Microsoft Transputec Westcoast
DISTRIBUTION CATEGORY SPONSORED BY AOC INTERNATIONAL Software, Services & Support - Distributor Ci Distribution Exertis GNR Technology Ingram Micro Sigma Software Distribution Tech Data
Hardware Distributor Exertis GNR Technology M2M direct Northamber Spire Technology Tech Data
Consumer Electronics Distributor CMS Distribution Exertis Ingram Micro Tech Data VIP
VENDOR CATEGORY Software, Services & Support - Vendor Adobe BullGuard Microsoft
DISTRIBUTION CATEGORY SPONSOR
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Peripherals & Accessories Vendor AOC International Ceratech HANNspree HyperX Microsoft Turtle Beach
Components Vendor AMD Asus HANNspree Intel Nvidia Ortial Technologies
Asus Dell Lenovo Terra Computer
Specialist PC Vendor Asus Medion MSI SCAN Terra Computer Utopia Computers
Networking Vendor Belkin D-Link Netgear Synology TP-Link
PCR COMPANY OF THE YEAR 2018
To be decided by PCRâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s editorial staff
RESELLER CATEGORY PARTNER SPONSOR:
AFTER PARTY SPONSOR::
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When the chips are down As all and sundry push out patches to fix the Spectre and Meltdown vulnerabilities, Rob Horgan takes a look at what the fallout from the chip bug scandal will be and what needs to change to avoid future slip-ups
HEN INTEL CEO Brian Krzanich took to the stage at CES in Las Vegas, he could have been forgiven for wanting to be anywhere else in the world. Just days before the world’s biggest tech show got underway, it was revealed that almost all PCs, Macs and mobile devices were at risk of being hacked due to a pair of vulnerabilities that existed in a alarming number of Intel, AMD and ARM-produced chips. The discovery of the vulnerabilities, Spectre and Meltdown, would have been bad news at any time of the year, but coming just days before CES was nothing short of a disaster for the chip manufacturers. Yet as Sod’s Law would have it, Krzanich was faced with the daunting task of addressing his industry peers in the
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midst of the worst chip scandal in 20 years. Not since the Pentium FDIV Bug of the 1990s has the chip industry taken such a knock (and that cost Intel around $475 million). “Before we start I want to take a moment to thank the industry for coming together,” he told attendees, as he took to the main stage. “Security is job number one for Intel and our industry, so the primary focus of our decisions and discussions have been to keep our customer’s data safe.” It was a noble attempt at staring the problem in the face, but even now not all devices are secure. From the get-go patches were reportedly going to affect performance, with Intel initialling suggesting that bug fixes could affect performance by some 30 per cent.
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Microsoft was then forced to pull its initial Meltdown patch after some AMD-powered devices were left completely crocked after users had installed the fix. And the fallout has already begun. While Intel share prices took a hit, slumping by 2 per cent in the immediate aftermath, a full autopsy is being demanded by industry analysts, security experts and the chip manufacturers themselves. Lawsuits are already being discussed and a costly bill is expected to hit the manufacturers at fault. Looking forwards, Phil Hughes, director of Public Relations at ARM, said that ‘all future processor designs’ will have to be re-evaluated. “I can confirm that we plan to address Spectre in future processor designs, but there also will need to be an ongoing discipline in the design of secure systems, which needs to be addressed through both software and hardware,” he said. “In the meantime, we continue to encourage users to follow good security practices and ensure their software is up-to-date. All future ARM Cortex processors will be resilient to this style of attack or allow mitigation through kernel patches.” And it will no doubt be a similar story at Intel and AMD as another bug of this magnitude cannot be allowed to happen. Intel has already made significant moves (at least publicly) to ensure that a similar vulnerability never comes to head again. Establishing
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an internal security group, the Intel Product Assurance and Security (IPAS) team will be led by resources chief Leslie Culbertson who will report directly to Krzanich. The need for greater focus on security is one theme that is being echoed within the wings of security firms. Derek Weeks, VP and DevOps advocate at Sonatype said that security has been overlooked for too long by manufacturers. “A flaw in the architecture of Intel and other chipmakers’ products highlights the urgent need for security vigilance when designing technology,” he said. “Time and time again, we see how failure to design in security from the beginning, whether into software, hardware, or firmware, puts our data, our health and our privacy at risk. GDPR-like ‘security by design’ has not been the default position to date and we must take steps to make it so. It is therefore imperative that organisations make targeted investments in people, process and technology, to ensure we truly are secure.” Likewise, Paul Lipman, CEO at cybersecurity company BullGuard, believes that the ‘shocking and alarming’ flaws in chips are an inevitability of the industry’s blasé attitude towards security. “Chip manufacturers have been central to driving the technology revolution and we wouldn’t be where we are today without them and their leveraging of Moore’s law,” he said. “But only last year it was discovered that Intel’s Active Management Technology had harboured
a security flaw for seven years that could be exploited to remotely control and infect systems with spyware. He added: “There will always be flaws in systems due to inherent complexity. But what is frightening is that 40 years after desktop computing became commonplace the fundamental importance and need for security by design hasn’t yet been grasped. Security by design should be a fundamental priority. Ironically, the cost of fixing these security issues in the after-market phase is significantly higher than the investment required for implementing security by design.” Thankfully no real damage has been done (yet) by the Spectre and Meltdown vulnerabilities. Some systems may have taken a hit in terms of performance and a handful of devices may have bricked due to patches being rushed out, but the reality is that no significant harm appears to have been done. Hopefully manufacturers will heed the warnings of the security experts as they may not get off so lightly next time around.
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“40 years after desktop computing became commonplace the fundamental importance and need for security by design hasn’t yet been grasped” Paul Lipman, BullGuard
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“I get a real buzz from bringing exclusive vendors to market and hitting our targets” 12
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LIFE IN THE CHANNEL
Louise Honeywill Northamber’s head of Audio Visual reflects on her PCR Woman of the Year award win as well as looking back at a career spanning four decades at the Surrey-based distributor Now that the dust has settled and you have had time to let it sink in, how does it feel to be crowned PCR’s Women of the Year? I am still in shock if I am being totally honest with you. I am really honoured to have be given this award. I still have a huge smile on my face every morning when I get in to work and see the award proudly sat on my desk. This was one for the girls! What is your role at Northamber and how long have you been in the job role? I started at Northamber some 30 years ago, back in March 1987. Through the years I have worked my way up through the various departments including stints in Credit and then Monitors. Nowadays I love being at the helm of the Audio Visual Product team and am really enjoying the new challenge and bringing my experience to the role. What does an average day look like for you and what tasks do you undertake on a daily basis? Wow... where do I even start? Every day is a completely different day for me. I am always first in, so I open up at 7.15am and get tucked straight into my emails. I check my stock levels and pricing, attend vendor meetings, build marketing plans, work with our wonderful new graduates and hit the phones to talk to our lovely AV
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customers. I get a real buzz from bringing exclusive vendors to market and hitting our targets. It’s a great team and I love being pulled into anything that needs my special brand of Honeywill magic to ensure the best result for the team. What is the most unexpected / amusing thing that has ever happened to you at work? That has to be when Northamber sent me to a 5-Star Hotel in New York City for a long weekend with my son, to reward me for my outstanding achievements last year! It really was a dream come true and is an example of the kind of company Northamber is. What is the best part of your job? The best part of my job is that (secretly) I’m the ‘real boss’ at Northamber and everybody knows it deep down. I love being part of the management team, especially taking new starters under my wing, nurturing them and watching them grow throughout their careers within Northamber. How can people best contact you? We have a ‘no voicemail’ policy at Northamber, so calling 0208 296 7078 will always work. Emailing lhl@ northamber.com will also come directly to me too if you prefer emailing.
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Nick Shaw - vice president and general manager of Consumer Business Unit, Symantec
The rise of ransomware With hacking a growing hot topic, eveyone needs to know what to do when their data is being held hostage a white flag, surrender, and pay the ransom to get them RANSOMWARE IS ON THE RISE, and last year it was back. More than one-third of victims choose to pay the supersized by attacks like WannaCry and ransomware ransom, which is why the average ransom has increased attacks involve hackers holding your digital files hostage considerably, jumping by 266 per cent from $294 in 2015 to and demanding payment for you to get them back. It poses $1,077 in 2016, and why an increasing number of attackers a dilemma that no one hopes to face: should you pay up if are jumping on the bandwagon; for a few minutes’ work, a you fall victim to a ransomware attack? criminal could earn several thousand dollars. This malware-based extortion is now one of the most However, paying the ransom doesn’t guarantee your files significant and dangerous cyber threats facing consumers. back. Before parting with money, bear in mind that According to our Symantec Internet Security you’re expecting a crook to hold up their end of Threat Report 2017, consumers made up 69 per the bargain. It’s a huge risk and less than half cent of all ransomware victims last year. And (47 per cent) of victims who pay up regain to top it off, the number of ransomware ‘Bear in mind that access to their files. families more than tripled in 2016. paying the ransom Prevention is always the best cure. Here Criminals are creating new forms of this are my top tips on how to avoid falling malware to evade detection, cause doesn’t guarantee victim to a ransomware attack: disruption and increase profits. Of course, your files back’ Firstly, back up your data regularly on an it’s not just consumers who are suffering, external drive or a secure online file hosting WannaCry hit organisations globally, and service. It’s the number one way of combating caused widespread chaos. ransomware infection. Keep your security The most common way to be infected with software up to date to protect against the growing and ransomware is via emails. A consumer might receive evolving ransomware threat. Take utmost care when an email luring them to open an attachment or clicking a opening emails. Look out for spelling and grammar malicious link, which would cause the ransomware to mistakes, and delete any suspicious looking emails you download itself onto the victim’s device and encrypt their receive. Manually type a company’s web address in your files. At this point, attackers demand payment, often in browser as opposed clicking on suspicious links you may Bitcoin, in return for access to their files. receive. Be extremely wary of any Microsoft Office email Our digital information is of a lot of value to us, whether that advises you to enable macros to view its content. Only it’s precious photos and videos, important documents, or do this if you trust the source. If not, delete the email. irreplaceable files. As such, the temptation is great to wave
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Paige O’Neill - CMO, Prysm
Could new technology address the generation gap in the workplace? Distributors in 2017 have to go beyond the old task of bringing a product to market, they have to work with resellers to provide unbeatable services informative but focused experience. Meeting these MILLENNIALS IN THE WORKPLACE are on the rise. diverse needs in the workplace is a challenge – According to PwC, by 2025 they will make up 50 per cent particularly when we throw in remote workers. of the global workforce, and we currently have as many as Comprehensive means for collaboration must unite five generations working for any given company. This diverse groups and individuals, and in doing so improve diverse environment poses a challenge for employers: productivity and workplace efficiency. How do you unify a group of people with different Cloud-based collaboration platforms provide a approaches to work and communication? potential solution. By unifying all tools and In a recent study, 45 per cent of respondents applications in one environment, teams can cited lack of engagement as a top challenge for contribute, combine and transfer content meetings. Different people prioritise “Understanding and knowledge. When it comes to different objectives, and it falls to senior meetings, these can be made more management to find ways to accommodate the different values efficient by enabling participants to work all viewpoints and drive productivity. and attitudes of all together in real time. With Millenials set to be the business generations is Enterprises must select options that leaders of tomorrow, if enterprises are to critical” keep collaboration simple and intuitive. succeed under new digital and data savvy Less effective solutions can run the risk of leaders, they must maximise the transfer of being ignored or requiring lengthy training, skills across generations. reducing productivity in the short term. Hardware To start, understanding values and attitudes of and software agnostic solutions therefore hold a distinct all generations is critical. Baby Boomers for example advantage by enabling workers to collaborate with (born between 1946 and 1964) are alleged to be technology they are already familiar with. competitive, whereas Gen Ys (AKA Millennials) enjoy The right technology can make a big difference in working in teams and like regular feedback. When it accelerating product and service development, driving comes to sitting down for a meeting, these different ROI overall. Collaboration is critical – from simple approaches must be managed. beanbag brainstorms to advanced platforms, technology Research has revealed that Millennials prefer face-tomust be used to empower workers of all generations to face meetings and prioritise engaging discussion. This is work in the way that works best for them. arguably in contrast to members of Gen X, who expect an
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February 2018 | 15
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â&#x20AC;&#x153;2017 has been a significant milestone for Exertis where we have profitably grown our business and retained key specialisms within a diverse technology businessâ&#x20AC;? 18 | February 2018
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The one-stop distie Exertis’ retail director Mike Buley speaks to Jonathan Easton about the company’s position in the market, its future prospects and how important acquisitions are to the distributor’s ongoing success
How was 2017 for Exertis? Exciting and full of opportunities. Indeed, Exertis achieved almost 20 per cent growth in revenue for the first half of our financial year (£1.371bn) ending 31st March 2018, compared to the previous year with very strong operating profit growth of 25.8 per cent, in the seasonally less significant first half of the year. Our UK and Ireland business performed very strongly and benefited from good growth in key product areas, such as smart home, enterprise and components, and from recent acquisitions. Hammer, acquired in October 2016, has performed well and has significantly strengthened Exertis’ presence in the server, storage and related services markets. The UK business has also enhanced its position in the audio-visual market through the acquisition of Medium, completed in December 2016, and the organic development of its vendor and product portfolio, particularly in edTech. In Ireland we achieved strong growth, driven by good business development in the mobile and retail sectors and growth in sales of networking and security products. Of course, we continue to have a strong presence in retail, brought about by years of experience in providing the right products and services for different types of customers along with our expert teams of knowledgeable people specific to this area. In April, we created a dedicated Consumer Business Unit (CBU) to drive growth in this key area of our UK business that contributes significant revenue and profit for the company. Operating across our Basingstoke and Harlow offices, the CBU has over 250 employees with fully aligned sales, purchasing, commercial and marketing functions. It
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combines several successful areas of the business: gaming, where Exertis is the number one UK distributor; Smart Tech, where we are a clear leader in this new but increasingly important market; gadgets, accessories and premium audio from our specialist Exertis Unlimited division and a wide range of market leading brands in consumer IT and accessories. Our dropship programme has been a key enabler for our retail customers and we have been successful in adding a technology portfolio to retailers that weren’t previously in that sector. A good example would be with our Smart Tech offering. It’s a market in which we entered at a very early stage recognising its potential and that has enabled us to lead the field, opening up new opportunities for our vendors in the DIY and wholesale trade markets. In addition, we have always had a strong presence in the games market where we have taken advantage of exclusive distribution agreements with key vendors and built a portfolio that encompasses PC hardware, consoles, accessories and software. Our new demo suite in Harlow has also been a great success in showcasing a range of CE products. We continue to expand our service offering to customers and vendors and the acquisition of MTR Group, completed in July 2017, has significantly expanded the UK business’ mobile device refurbishment and managed services capability and the business has performed well since. Looking back, I would say that 2017 has been a significant milestone for Exertis where we have profitably grown our business, consolidated our acquisitions and retained key specialisms within a diverse technology business. What’s more, we still have opportunities to make our business even stronger in the future.
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thebiginterview “Exertis is truly your archetypal onestop sales, marketing and distribution service provider” Talk us through the different elements that makes up Exertis’ business Exertis is unique in that we provide a portfolio that extends from consumer through to enterprise. Whether it’s IT, mobile, home entertainment or simply supplies, we have the broadest product portfolio in technology distribution from the world’s leading vendors. Indeed, Exertis is truly your archetypal one-stop sales, marketing and distribution service provider, supplying product solutions, logistics and a range of services to over 11,000 customers in the retail, business, mobile and supplies markets. However, it’s our specialism and expertise across these diverse technology areas that makes us unique in the industry and positions us as the distributor of choice for our vendors and customers. Each technology area requires its own degree of specialism. It’s not a one size fits all type of business. Far from it, customers rightly expect products and services that are applicable to their business. They have specific requirements and we are particularly mindful to ensure that we have retained the specialist skills in businesses that we have acquired in addition to ensuring that all our employees receive the necessary training to keep abreast of technology. We have dedicated business units covering consumer, IT, enterprise, mobile and a separate supplies business. Within IT, we have teams focused on computing, Pro AV, print and components. In consumer, we have dedicated resource in gaming, accessories and pro audio. In enterprise, we have experts in server and storage, UC and security. Our customers are equally diverse, ranging from retailers and etailers to mobile dealers, system integrators and VARs that service the retail, SME, enterprise and public-sector markets. With such a strong technology offering, we are not dependent on any one area. In addition, we have the backing of a leading international sales, marketing and support services group that is highly successful, ambitious and entrepreneurial. DCC, our parent company, has supported Exertis both in acquisitions and transformational projects. 20 | February 2018
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How big a role does gaming play at Exertis? Gaming is an important part of our consumer offering. We grew our revenues by almost 50 per cent year on year with a product portfolio that encompasses PC and console hardware, software and accessories. We have added key brands to our portfolio, maintained exclusive distribution with many vendors and taken advantage of market opportunities derived from VR, AR and eSports. Our team in Harlow that has established new relationships, maintaining our position as the number one gaming distributor. We also offer a state of the art digital distribution service both online and in-store through Exertis Ztorm, working with all leading games publishers and software vendors to distribute their titles to retailers. It offers thousands of ready to sell SKUs, delivered via a simple API-integration that ensures a high level of security and control, while minimising the workload of our partners. With more and more distributors going down the services route, how important is this to Exertis? Growing our services portfolio is a key strategic focus for the business. However, Exertis has always provided a number of services specific to retail including category management, merchandising, POS, product packaging, product demonstrations and training, reporting market and trend analysis, and drop shipment and fulfilment. These are certainly integral to our retail offering. www.pcr-online.biz
2017 saw the first Plug-In To Exertis event at Twickenham. How successful was this and are you looking at running future events? I think if you manage to get 950 attendees and 107 vendors exhibiting for the first time that you run an event on this scale, you can call it a success. Plug In To Exertis was devised to enable customers to gain a better understanding of the range and diversity of products we provide. Customers had the chance to focus on their area of business or look at other opportunities. Certainly, we have seen resellers buying products from us in areas that they hadn’t previously. That was a key goal; to educate our customers on the technology range we can provide and make it as easy as possible for our customers to buy products and solutions from Exertis. Certainly, we were pleased with the attendance and the interest in the seminars that we ran as part of the programme. The feedback was excellent. As far as repeating the exercise, you will have to wait and see!
In addition, we provide an ISO 27001, professional services portfolio which is designed to equip resellers with the skills, knowledge and confidence to service and support their own customers. These services can be white labelled and include straightforward ‘breakfix’ through to a 24/7/365 complete managed service. We also offer a pro-active, vendor agnostic monitor and incident response service. Exertis delivers this portfolio with fully qualified engineers and support staff, and from our own Technical Assistance Centre (TAC). Most recently, we gained Cyber Essentials PLUS certification for our professional services division, an independently verified self-assessment which assesses a company against five basic security controls. This provides independent assurance that you have the proper protections in place to help prevent the vast majority of cyber attacks. That provides our resellers with confidence to use our range of white label support services for their customers. At the same time, we completed IASME governance which demonstrates that a company has prepared for the introduction of GDPR by focusing on how data is collected, maintained and protected. Furthermore, we are also taking advantage of the expertise and services provided by MTR with their high-tech refurbishment facility. We see the ‘as a service’ model expanding into hardware and it’s an area in which we will provide a range of solutions. www.pcr-online.biz
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As an established distributor in the Channel, what are the differences in the market today compared with when Exertis started up? Technology continues to evolve and distribution has had to adapt to changing market dynamics. While the basic components of the Channel remain the same: vendor, distie, retailer/reseller to end customer the original pick, pack and ship model has certainly moved on. Of course, the core competencies of distribution: sales and marketing, credit and logistics remain but services have become a key differentiator for distributors. Generally, there has been a move towards more services in all customer segments along with a more customer centric rather than vendor led approach to business. In addition, consolidation has been – and remains – part of the landscape. Distributors have become either larger and more diverse, taking advantage of economies of scale, or specialised in more niche markets. The same applies to vendors and resellers. Despite the effect of e-commerce, the Cloud and other dynamics, distribution remains as relevant as ever. Consultancy firm RootSquared predicted in a new GTDC report that distribution will build and extend its market relevance. In the report, it noted that 70 per cent of channel interviewees expected to see an increase in the share of business going through two-tiered distribution. Certainly, we have witnessed some major changes in retail. The internet has transformed the way consumers both make and transact their purchasing decisions. The omni-channel approach in retail has led to a requirement for 24/7 support services and February 2018 | 21
distributors have had to respond accordingly. While change is constant, distributors need to retain their relevance to customers and that will always be the case. Talk us through your Channel acquisitions over the past 18 months Back in July 2016, we announced that Computers Unlimited (CU) had legally transitioned to become a division of Exertis UK and was rebranded as Exertis Unlimited. This acquisition brought added expertise in the CE market and access to products and accessories for Apple, a range of premium audio products and products for creative professionals. We have since
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added Smart Tech products into this division and it continues to be a home for emerging technologies and innovative brands. We acquired Siracom a wireless and mobility distributor with particular pedigree in the education market and added this expertise to our growing enterprise portfolio. This was soon followed by the acquisition of Hammer in October enhancing our capability in the mid- and higher range server and storage market. Hammer continues to operate as a stand-alone business with a well-earned reputation as a storage specialist. We collaborate on opportunities, as evidenced by our appointment as a Dell EMC distributor, and provide value-added services and bespoke solutions in a number of vertical markets. A month later, we acquired Medium Ltd, a specialist audio-visual distributor of projectors, flat panel displays, interactive systems and digital signage with leading brands that include CTOUCH, Casio, Hitachi, LG, NEC, Panasonic, Samsung and Peerless. Medium had an unrivalled reputation for customer service, industry knowledge and offering specialist support and solutions in key areas of the AV market. Mediumâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s technical expertise strengthened our ability to implement a full suite of professional AV solutions into the B2B market where our complementary www.pcr-online.biz
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WEDNESDAY 7TH MARCH 2018 THE BREWERY, LONDON
CONGRATULATIONS TO ALL OF OUR FINALISTS Head over to www.pcr-awards.com to find out who made the shortlist!
Book your tables and tickets today! Be there on the night to join over 500 people and celebrate the achievements of the UK PC and Tech industry. There are a number of packages available to suit your requirements. Visit the website to book: www.pcr-awards.com or contact Johanna Oâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;Brien at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
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PLATINUM RESELLER CATEGORY PARTNER
AFTER PARTY PARTNER
“With all [of] our acquisitions, the intention is to retain the expertise that has made the company successful in the past” products and services provide opportunities for additional growth in a market where IT and AV is continuing to converge. Since the acquisition, the company has been rebranded to Exertis Medium and moved to new premises. We have also added vendors to our portfolio, significantly Promethean. In 2017, we acquired MTR Group, a service and solutions provider specialising in second generation lifecycle extension of mobile, wearable and tablet devices. This is hugely complementary to our mobile and computing divisions. With more than 15 years’ experience within the service and repair network, their team of highly trained technicians offer a complete repair and refurbishment process including data cleansing and when required an environmentally friendly disposal service. MTR has a strong relationship with Samsung, a key vendor for Exertis, who appointed them as their exclusive UK Trade-In partner and an approved repair centre to support 17 Samsung Service Centres located in Samsung stores around the country. In addition, MTR also supports Samsung with their annual ‘Upgrade Program’
24 | February 2018
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ensuring that their customers always have access to the latest flagship products. Exertis is collaborating with MTR on a ‘Device as-aService’ programme that will provide our B2B resellers with a more sophisticated suite of services that they can provide white labelled to their end user customers that have a fleet of mobile devices, enabling them to take advantage of a quick turnaround to repair a broken phone or to manage a buy-back or multi-user trade in scheme. With all our acquisitions, the intention is to retain the expertise that has made the company successful in the past and develop opportunities for the future. Of course, these acquisitions that I have mentioned only relate to our UK business. Are there any more acquisitions on the cards for the coming year? We are always on the lookout for opportunities that can enhance our skills or expertise either within, or complementary to, the technology areas in which we operate or where we see the chance to increase our European footprint. Is Exertis investing in AI? If so, what will it bring to Exertis and distribution as a whole? New technologies always provide opportunities for the channel. We always want to be the distributor who is one step ahead and at the forefront of technology innovation. And if the right opportunity presents itself in AI… why not?
Inside Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s one of the biggest distributors in the world, and group marketing director UK and Ireland Andy Dow invited Jonathan Easton into the companyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Basingstoke HQ to see the lay of the land
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February 2018 |
IT MIGHT HAVE been a cold and damp Friday outside, but that didn’t deter those inside Tech Data’s bustling Basingstoke office from keeping the ship sailing smoothly when I stopped by to see just what goes on inside. Taking time out to walk me through the company and its ethos, group marketing director Andy Dow stressed that a ‘people-first’ mentality creates a positive work environment and ensures that everyone is working at their best. (Certainly everyone seemed in good spirits – I was complimented on my hair during my brief visit, twice.) But while the sales and HR teams are busy at work, so too are the teams at the Magna Park warehouse in Lutterworth, Leicestershire. Priding itself on being the ‘UK’s busiest IT and mobile product logistics operation’, the 46,000m2 warehouse is the size of 10 football pitches (you could fit the entirity of Wembley Stadium inside) and sends 2 million DNLs and 16 million units per annum out to the UK and across Europe. 18 receiving bays, three miles of conveyors and 20,000 product lines stocked across 42,000 storage locations mean that handlers can process up to 100 pick-ups a minute and 20,000 orders a day. Dow promised that they’re working to make that number even higher. It is a good time for Tech Data across the entire business and that looks certain to continue throughout 2018 and beyond.
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February 2018 | 29
The UK distribution arena is already crammed with juggernauts dominating the play. With such well established disties already succssfully doing the business, Rob Horgan asks Channel players young and old - if there is room left for start-up companies to thrive within the UK market
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ECHNOLOGY has always been driven by innovation, disruption and - most importantly - rogue start-ups willing to change the state of play. In 2018, start-ups are just as important to technological innovation as ever before. However, can the same be said about the importance of new kids on the block within the Channel’s supply chain? With so many well established distributors already dominating large areas of the Channel, what chance does a start-up have of being successful? And more importantly, are they even needed in today’s market? Despite the highly competitive nature of the market, Channel stalwart Dave Stevinson focussed on building GNR Technology in May last year after Entatech went under. According to Stevinson there are ‘five main challenges’ when setting up a distributor in the Channel: ‘Finance, Infrastructure, Vendor, Clients and Staff’. And while those five pillars are as relevant to a start-up as to an established firm, one factor which is specifically relevant to new companies is setting yourself apart from the crowd. As Stevinson explains: “At GNR we have deliberately focussed on moving to uncontested space and focussing on providing services
“We avoid head-to-head competition with established distributors” Dave Stevinson, GNR
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to our vendors that assist them in meeting their business outcomes. We purposefully avoid head-tohead competition with the more established distributors. Ours is a blend of traditional distribution with a critical services element.” It is a similar story at recently establish distributor nSpire. Based in Dorset, managing director Zack Fowler has been trying to find niche areas of the market to exploit. While Fowler insists that nSpire is ‘extremely competitive’ on the ‘traditional’ front, it is within another area which he believes his company is already excelling. Specialising in refurbished tech, Fowler believes that nobody is as competitive on price and quality as nSpire is. “We are unlike other distributors in as much as we focus a lot of our time of selling refurbished tech and more importantly selling it at good prices,” he says. “It is an industry that is growing rapidly and there is plenty more room for expansion for us moving forwards.” Fowler believes that the refurbished technology market is a potential cash cow for resellers to increase their margin. However, scepticism among many means that a large number of resellers and retailers are ignoring the market altogether. Fowler is therefore taking it upon himself to change that mentality. “If we have a new client who is unsure about refurbished technology then we will let them trial it first,” Fowler explains. “They will perhaps buy one refurbished laptop or a PC and then see how it does. If they don’t sell it within a month, then they can give it back to us, without having to pay a penny. Most of the time, they will sell it – at a big profit to them – and then they will invest more in our products. Another way in which we are encouraging buyers to open an account with us is by giving away £25 in pre-approved credit to anyone who signs up.” And it is not just the smaller fish that are having to find alternative market avenues to target. As Jon Atherton, director at Ci Distribution, explains ‘to be successful you must be niche and offer value’. He adds: “For example, Ci Distribution is recognised as the leading Rugged distribution business within the UK, the products are not a commodity. This is a solution led sale, requiring my sales people to understand product cycles, quote and ultimately supply a solution that will be fit for purpose for three to five year cycles. We offer additional DaaS (Device as a Service) through our Configuration Centre in Caerphilly, from there we can offer a multitude of solutions for the reseller/end-user from asset tagging, disposal, BTO, device upgrades, imaging, 3rd party software, AV, finance options, etc.”
February 2018 | 31
Atherton, who had previously worked at Exertis and Entatech, adds that over the last decade ‘distribution comapnies have become more cost efficient and leaner in their transactional business’ but added that ‘the Channel requires Tier 2 and niche distributors without question’ to give ‘new vendors and start-ups a route to market’. Meanwhile, Centerprise International founder Rafi Razzak claims that putting the right people in the right positions is what drives success at a start-up disite. “The key challenges is attracting the right vendors and showing why you can provide a better value than broad distie,” he says. “To do this you must have the right competency of resources, adequate financial credit worthiness, focused and specialised distribution and investment in expertise. Having expertise in the management within CI has been instrumental to our success. Jon Atherton has been instrumental in managing the strategy as well as Darren Perks and Iain Gillogaley.” So while start-ups rely on being (and will need to continue being) creative in order to find a gap in the market, those who have been there and done it are adamant that experience is the key to success. One thing is for sure, start-up distributors are still needed, will continue to be successful but they will need a good business plan (and to take a few risks) if they are to punch above their weight.
32 | February 2018
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“The Channel needs Tier 2 and niche distributors without question” Jon Atherton, Ci Distribution
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The PCR CES Awards
Best Innovation – Synaptics Clear ID Fingerprint Sensor
Best PC – Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon
California-based touchpad developer Synaptics managed to do what Apple (reportedly) tried – and failed – to do with the iPhone X: integrate a fingerprint sensor into the OLED screen. A Vivo handset was used to demo the tech which is already in mass production. Look forward to this one taking over smartphones.
It may look ancient with its red dot mouse in the middle of the keyboard, but this update to Lenovo’s extremely popular ThinkPad X1 range adds a range of improvements including a built-in privacy shutter, a great-looking Dolby Vision HDR display and incoming Alexa support to cover all bases in 2018.
Best smart home tech – Nest x Yale Lock
Best gaming – Nvidia BFDGs
Keys are so 2017, but luckily Yale has managed to stay relevant in the smarthome era by teaming up with Nest to create a lock that works with a memorable passcode to do away with those pesky jangling bits of shrapnel. Don’t worry, it’s smart too, and will notify you via an app whenever the door is opened.
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Unveiling Big Format Gaming Displays (BFGDs), Nvidia will work with Acer, Asus and HP to create 65-inch 4K screens with HDR capability. That might sound like standard fare, but compatibility with Nvidia’s G-Sync tech allows the smoothness of PC gaming on a much larger scale.
CES 2018 With the world’s biggest trade show kicking off the tech year in style, the PCR team has put their heads together to decide who the winners were from CES 2018
Best mobile phone – Sony Xperia XA2 Ultra CES has never been the stomping ground of smartphone vendors, with most waiting for MWC, but the lack of the big players (save for reports of Samsung secretly showcasing the Galaxy X) has allowed Sony to quietly show off an affordable handset that’s got a solid camera and great audio. It is, for all intents and purposes, a mid-range phone, but one that’s got a much more premium feel and design than it probably has any right to.
Best TV – Samsung The Wall When it comes to TVs, size really does matter. And when you’ve got a product called ‘The Wall’, it is only ever going to be a big deal. Samsung’s jaw-dropping 146-inch modular TV, features a module-based, bezel-less design. The MicroLED screen is expected to sell for upwards of $10,000.
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Best VR – HTC Vive Pro Taking what was already the top consumer VR headset on the market and improving it was never going to be a small task, but somehow HTC has done it with the Vive Pro. Sure, it still needs a PC powerful enough to run it and it still has those obnoxious towers, but a bumped up resolution and built-in headphones ensure that it’s the standard bearer for widely available VR.
Best startup – BinaryBots Children learning to code is becoming increasingly popular. British-based startup BinaryBots is looking to capitalise on that growth by making coding fun. Born out of the belief that ‘every child should have the opportunity to code’, BinaryBots has created a series of robots that children can programme.
February 2018 | 35
Best smartspeaker – Lenovo Smart Display Google answered the call of the Amazon Echo Show with the launch of its Google Assistant-equipped Smart Display platform, and Lenovo was there to show off what it could do. Coming in 8and 10-inch varieties, its price tag of $199 and $249 respectively, the Lenovo Smart Display firmly has the Show in its sights. Regardless of build or sound quality, the fact that this thing can play YouTube videos (unlike the Echo Show) already puts it at a distinct advantage and should be a compelling option when it launches this Summer.
Best health & fitness tech – Coros Omni helmet With packed trains and even busier roads, more people are turning to two wheels. However, for many cycling through busy streets is just a bore. Coros have come up with the solution. The Omni helmet, allows cyclists to listen to music, make calls and follow directions by connecting wirelessly to their phone. This is all while hearing what is on the road due to the open-ear boneconduction audio.
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Best prototype – LG’s rollable TV Ever wanted to roll up your TV and take it with you? Probably not, but now you can! LG has revealed a 65-inch 4K OLED TV that hides inside a rectangular box and magically rolls out whenever you fancy it. Featuring a flexible display, the LG rollable TV won’t be seen commercially in 2018, but it could very well be LG’s flagship offering in 2019, with the possibility of a foldable soundbar likely to appear in the finished product.
Best natural phenomenon – Torrential weather in Vegas The building may have been filled with the best new things in tech, but what took over the show (literally) was a power outage that knocked the North and Central halls of the Las Vegas Convention Center out of commission for two hours on the Wednesday. The culprit: rainfall. Attendees stood around in eerie awe as tech giants were shut down by a lack of power. Elsewhere, Google’s giant funhouse booth was out of action for an entire day because of flooding.
Best wearables – L’Oreal UV Sense With wearables slowly taking over, the latest body part to be smartened up is the fingernail. The L’Oreal UV Sense tells its wearer if they are exposing themselves to too much UV. It’s NFCenabled so you can scan it with your phone to retrieve the UV data collected. The UV Sense will determine how long you’ve been outside, and once synced with your app, provides a score that says whether you’re spending too much time in the sun.
Most CES – Sony Aibo Every year there’s one outrageous and ostentatious bit of kit to steal the show. Last year the honour was tied between Razer’s triple-screen gaming laptop and Acer’s Predator 21X, but in 2018 Sony had everyone talking with its revival of the Aibo robot dog. After a decade off, Sony decided to bring Aibo back with Wi-Fi, LTE connectivity and even cloud backup. Somewhat surprisingly you can actually buy it right now, though at $1,600 (roughly £1,200) plus a monthly subscription, we doubt it’ll fly off the shelves.
Best in show – HTC Vive Pro What was the standout VR headset of the technology’s first wave has been iterated upon to improve it in every possible way. The screen resolution has been increased to 2880 x 1600 (a jump of 78 per cent), there’s built in 3D audio and, best of all, there’s an adapter to remove the hazardous cables from the entire unit. HTC Vive needed to do something big to maintain the excitement that led Oculus to dramatically reduce the Rift’s price in 2017 and now, two years after the launch of the original, the Vive Pro looks to have recaptured its position at the top of the VR tree. With consumer interest in VR waning, the HTC Vive Pro looks set to rekindle that flame and spark a whole new wave of head mounted displays into action.
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February 2018 | 37
Better TOGETHER In the wake of its merger with Datto, Mark Banfield, SVP and general manager International at Autotask, speaks to Jonathan Easton about the reasons behind the deal, what it will mean for both companies and how MSPs will benefit
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IN AN AGE OF mergers and acquisitions, it was no surprise when Autotask Corporation, the world’s leading provider of hosted IT business management software, announced that it had entered into an agreement to be acquired by Vista Equity Partners in June 2014. And it was equally unsurprising when, a little over three years later, business data protection solutions provider Datto was snapped up by the same investment firm. What perhaps did come as a surprise to many though was the news that the two were to be merged. Internally however, the deal made perfect sense, says Autotask SVP and general manager International Mark Banfield. “Datto had originally planned to take the company public,” Banfield says. “With Vista Equity Partners, they found an investment partner that understood the market Datto is in and believed in Datto’s long-term vision. “Vista also owned Autotask and we’re very entrenched in this market space already and they saw an opportunity to bring our companies together to create a company that could serve the needs of the IT channel more effectively.” Those needs have been a driving force for both organisations and the ‘inherent synergies’ are, Banfield believes, key. “We are both passionate about delivering a superior customer experience and providing the best
“They saw an opportunity to serve the IT channel more effectively” products and solutions to help our customers succeed and grow profitably.” While the merger has seen internal maneuvers under the stewardship of Datto CEO and founder Austin McChord, with Autotask senior vice president of Engineering Adam Stewart joining the executive team, Banfield is keen to stress that those who will benefit the most are the firms’ collective portfolio of MSPs and SMBs. (Datto’s network alone currently consists of more than 13,000 MSPs and 500,000 SMBs, but the company is remaining coy on future targets.) “By combining Autotask service automation and remote monitoring and management with unified managed service offerings – backup, secure file sharing, business continuity and networking services – we can now deliver tremendous value to the IT channel by providing technology providers (MSPs, IT service providers) with services to increase recurring revenue, grow and expand – all from one company.” Moving forwards, the newly expanded Datto brand will continue to grow with a ‘joint roadmap’ imminent and Banfield is confident that everyone will benefit. “We are now, more than ever, committed to innovating and providing our customers with valuable solutions for them to run their business and support their clients with the right solutions. The Datto brand will benefit from what our unified Autotask PSA and RMM has to offer and our customers will have the added dimension of offering the best total data protection solutions to clients. “It’s a win-win-win and I believe it will help expand the brand positively for years to come,” he concludes.
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February 2018 | 39
HP Envy x2 SRP: £999 OUT: February 5
The HP Envy x2 with Qualcomm Snapdragon is optimised for extraordinary battery life and an ‘always on experience’. Designed to transport easily, the fanless and incredibly thin and light CNC Machined Aluminium tablet is just 6.9 mm and weighs in at 70kg. It features a 12.3-inch diagonal touch WUXGA+ display with Corning Gorilla Glass for increased durability and scratch resistance. The Envy x2 is wrapped in a leather-like textured case in Oxford Blue and integrates a 110 to 150-degree adjustable stand to transform the device into laptop mode for comfortable viewing. Its Qualcomm Snapdragon X16 LTE modem supports 4G LTE-Advanced with ultra-fast downlink speeds. Users will also have the performance to do more with up to 8 GB LPDDR4X PoP memory, and store movies and pictures with up to 256 GB10 of storage.
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Ryzen 5 2400G SRP: £169 OUT: February 12 AMD’s next generation of Ryzen chips are set to debut in February. The Ryzen ‘Raven Ridge’ APUs are set to debut on the 12nm process technology in the first quarter of 2018, with the Ryzen 5 2400G set to be unveiled first followed by the Ryzen 7 upgrade coming later in the Spring. The new lineup is said to bring higher clock speeds and better overclockability to the table in addition to support for faster DDR4 RAM. The new chips will be manufactured using GlobalFoundries’ 12LP ‘Leading Performance’ process node and will feature AMD’s improved Zen+ CPU microarchitecture.
SRP: £499 OUT: February 6
SRP: £150 OUT: February 6
ORION360 is the world’s first gesture controlled music system packed with smart gesture and ATMOS sensors to improve listening experience. Shaped like a donut, the 360 degree speaker boasts wireless connectivity as well as seven custom built speakers.
After it acquired Hush (a company that had previously developed smart noise-cancelling earbuds), Bose is set to relaunch the noise-masking buds. The redesigned Sleepbuds work by masking noise with soothing sounds that facilitate sleep, are wireless and come with a case that is good for one complete recharge to last you through the night.
Konnected alarm panel
Sony Xperia XA2
SRP: £75 OUT: February 13
SRP: £450 OUT: February 13
Launched as a Kickstarter campaign, the Konnected alarm panel replaces your old security system panel, connecting your existing alarm system to Samsung’s SmartThings and Home Assistant. Better still it works with any wired alarm system and allows you to add a touch screen panel to your existing system, get notifications when a door or window is opened.
Sony is following in the footsteps of Apple, Samsung and LG by removing the bezels from its flagship device. The new Sony Xperia XA2 will feature an 18:9 screen ratio, and a 5.7-inch 4K HDR Triluminous display with Gorilla Glass 5. The Xperia XA2 and Xperia XA2 Ultra will launch on Android 8.0 Oreo.
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February 2018 | 41
Memory Rounding up the top memory devices on the market, PCR brings you the latest and most popular RAM components currently available
42 | February 2018
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Corsair Vengeance LPX 16GB
HyperX FURY Series 8GB
Distributor: CMS Distribution, Exertis, Macle SRP: £269.99 Specs: XMP 2.0 enabled, DDR4 form factor, 16GB RAM, 8GB hard drive
Distributor: Ingram Micro, Tech Data, GNR, Spire Technology SRP: £76.99 Specs: Form factor: 240-pin DIMM, Kingston processor, 8GB RAM, DDR3 SDRAM memory type
The Vengeance LPX memory heatspreader is made of pure aluminium for heat dissipation and the eight-layer PCB helps to manage heat and provides overclocking headroom. Each IC is individually screened for performance potential. The DDR4 form factor also offers higher frequencies, larger bandwidth and lower power consumption than DDR3 modules.
The Fury automatically recognises its host platform and automatically overclocks to up to 1866 MHz, providing plenty of power for your next death match. HyperX PnP memory will run in most DDR3 systems up to the speed allowed by the manufacturer’s system BIOS.
Crucial 8GB DDR4 Laptop Memory
Kingston ValueRAM 4GB
Distributor: Northamber, Tech Data, Target Components, VIP SRP: £72.98 Specs: Speeds start at 2133 MT, memory clock speed: 19,200 MHz, memory speed: 2,400 MHz
Distributor: Exertis, Ingram Micro, Tech Data, Spire Technology SRP: £36.99 Specs: Computer memory size: 4GB, memory clock speed 1,333 MHz, memory speed 1,333 MHz
Designed to help your system run faster and smoother, Crucial Laptop Memory is one of the easiest ways to improve your system’s performance. Load programs faster, increase responsiveness, run data-intensive applications with ease, and increase your laptop’s multitasking capabilities, with Crucial Laptop Memory.
Kingston ValueRAM is made from quality components and backed by rigorous testing and Kingston’s engineering expertise, comes with technical support and reliability. Kingston qualifies all components and tests modules at every stage of production.
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February 2018 | 43
Ballistix Sport LT 8GB
Vulcan T-Force 8GB
Distributor: Macle, Tech Data SRP: £103.20 Specs: Memory clock speed: 2,400, memory speed: 2,400 MHz, 8GB Dual Rank
Distributor: Target Components SRP: £89.99 Specs: CPU compatibility: Intel Skylake, chipset: Intel Z170/Z270, capacity: 8GB (4GBx2)
Designed for performance enthusiasts, gamers, and anyone who simply wants to get more out of their system, Ballistix Sport LT DDR4 memory helps you do just that. Give your processor the resources it needs to perform and make your computer faster and more responsive.
44 | February 2018
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With multi punch press, asymmetric cutting and elegant dual colours design, Team Group Vulcan will make your motherboard stand out with a choice of black and red, or black and grey. Radiating performance is improved by 2 per cent thanks an extended heat spreader.
Corsair Domination Platinum 16GB
Team Group NIGHT HAWK RGB 16GB
Distributor: CMS Distribution SRP: £209.99 Specs: CPU compatibility: Intel Haswell-E & Intel Skylake, chipset: Intel X99 / Z170, capacity: 16GB (8GBx2)
Distributor: Target Components SRP: £229.99 Specs: CPU compatibility: Intel Skylake/ Kabylake & AMD Ryzen, chipset: Intel Z170/ Z270 & AMD 350/370 chipset, capacity: 16GB (8GBx2)
The Dominator Platinum 16 GB (2x 8GB) is a dual Channel kit that is specifically designed for Intel’s latest Skylake platform and of course are compatible with X99 platforms. Also compatible with Intel Haswell-E, the Dominator Platinum has a tested speed of DDR4-3000 MHz (PC4-24000).
Inspired by new creative concepts, Team Group created the NIGHT HAWK RGB luminous memory module with heat spreaders in black and white colours.
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Motherboards 46 | February 2018
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ASUS STRIX B250F
Distributors: Ingram Micro, Spire Technology, Tech Data, Terra, VIP SRP: £119.23 Specs: ATX form factor, 1151 CPU socket, Intel B250 chipset
Distributors: Exertis, GNR Technology, Target Components, Terra, VIP SRP: £64.99 Specs: MicroATX form factor, 1151 CPU socket, Intel H110 chipset
The successor to Pro Gaming motherboards, the ASUS STRIX B250F is equipped with Aura Sync RGB LED lighting technology for ultimate customisability. ASUS is the first motherboard manufacturer to support 3D printing, with dedicated 3D mounts to make fitting 3D-printed parts easy.
Gigabyte 100 series motherboards support the latest 6th Generation Intel Core processors, a 14nm desktop CPU which features improved performance, power efficiency and support for DDR4 memory, bringing cutting edge features and ultimate performance to your next PC build.
MSI Intel Z270
ASUS Maximus VIII Hero
Distributors: Exertis, VIP SRP: £160.07 Specs: ATX form factor, 1151 CPU socket, Intel Z270 chipset
Distributors: Exertis, Ingram Micro SRP: £128.48 Specs: ATX form factor, 1151 CPU socket, Intel Z170 chipset
Combining quality you can rely on with top performance and clever business solutions are key aspects of the MSI Pro Series motherboards. Engineered to gratify even the most demanding professional, these motherboards will fit in any PC, making life easier and supporting your business.
This Maximus VIII is from Asus’ Hero line, which is a motherboard that has been optimised and honed for perfectly-balanced enthusiast-grade gaming desktops. It is filled with impressive technologies that help the motherboard with a variety of aspects from durability protection to gaming audio.
Gigabyte GA-Z170X-GAMING 7
MSI Z170A GAMING M5
Distributors: Terra SRP: £199.99 Specs: ATX form factor, 1151 CPU socket, Intel Z170 chipset
Distributors: Exertis SRP: £162.95 Specs: ATX form factor, 1151 CPU socket, Intel Z170 chipset
Powered by Intel’s own Thunderbolt controller the new Thunderbolt 3 protocol, which is available over a USB Type-C connector on the back I/O of the GIGABYTE Z170X-Gaming 7, brings an unprecedented single-wire bandwidth of up to 40 Gb/s, twice more than the previous generation of Thunderbolt! Itis also accompanied with support for different protocols such as DisplayPort 1.2 and USB 3.1, which is compatible with USB 3.0 and USB 2.0.
The MSI Z170A Gaming M5 motherboard is designed to provide gamers the best gaming experience through genuine best-in-class gaming features and the latest technology. The Z170A GAMING M5 introduces DDR4 Boost technology with optimised traces and fully isolated memory circuitry to ensure the memory signals stay pure for optimal performance and stability.
ASRock X370 TAICHI
Asus ROG RAMPAGE VI EXTREME
Distributors: CI Distribution, Mentor, Spire Technology, Target Components SRP: £229.99 Specs: ATX form factor, AM4 CPU socket, AMD X370 chipset The Taichi is a stylish ASRock motherboard that also packs considerable power. It is capable of supporting AM4 socket Ryzen Series CPUs and DDR4 (2667) memory, features both USB 3.1 Type-C and Type-A, plus it even has boosted audio output through Purity Sound 4 and DTS Connect.
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Distributors: Ingram Micro, Spire Technology, Terra, VIP SRP: £569.99 Specs: E-ATX form factor, 2066 CPU socket, Intel X299 chipset Cutting-edge specifications, intelligent cooling, and carefully crafted aesthetics: The Rampage VI Extreme tames Intel’s X299 platform to deliver beastly performance and redefines what it takes to be a flagship motherboard.
February 2018 | 47
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IN MY TEAM
PCR catches up with marketing firm Agent42 to find out about the PRs pushing technology within the Channel and beyond
I was to pick one person for the obscure random stories she tells Who is in your team and what are their roles? it would have to be Karen. Within PR and communications, the main heads are; Linda Hassall who is a Company Director and Karen Cheslett, PR and What is the best part of working for a PR firm? communications Manager. We have 10 people in the core Agent42 has six key marketing disciplines it provides to clients. marketing team with five additional people working in PR and What we do at the agency is much more than just PR. But Communications. The team is frequently scaled up the best part of being in PR is of course speaking to depending on project requirements. As we are a small lovely press and having such a huge pool of boutique agency, the team are brilliant at multi“The team are thetalent to talk with daily on new product launches tasking and two days are never the same. In brilliant at multi- and events. Being in an agency like ours, you can general Linda sets strategy and manages key work across such a broad spectrum of products, client relationships and Karen manages PR and tasking and two social media for our top clients with a team days are never the clients and businesses so it’s far from boring. working underneath her. same” What are you most looking forward to in the next year? Who has been here the longest / shortest? There will be many events and product launches over Agent42 was created five years ago by Lauren Tauben the next 12 months and hopefully there’ll also be some new who is the founder of the company. Karen is the newest clients. However one thing that we are particularly looking member of the team, joining us 13 months ago – however it feels forward to is our annual press challenge. Previously, we subjected like Karen has been with us from the start as she is a key asset to 20 journalists to walking the ‘Three Peaks’ with us: ‘The the company. Hebrides’, ‘The Scilly Isles’ and in 2017 we achieved ‘The Jurassic coastline’... We can’t wait to present ideas to our client for the Who is the team joker? 2018 challenge and we will make sure it’s our greatest We are all happy, positive and quite hyper people in general. We achievement with the press to date! bounce off each other, all having our share of fun and jokes. But if
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February 2018 | 49
<Full Nelson’s support>
Jonathan Easton Editor email@example.com Rob Horgan Deputy Editor firstname.lastname@example.org
A group of seven volunteers from Midwich’s charity committee visited Nelson’s Journey to provide support to their inspirational team of workers over the Christmas period. The Midwich team spent the day packing Xmas hampers, cleaning toys and displaying Christmas decorations at their head office in Little Plumstead, Norfolk. They raised over £13,500 in 2017 and will continue to support the charity throughout 2018. Nelson’s Journey provides help to children and young people, who have experienced the death of a significant person in their life, helping them to move forward positively with their lives.
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<Pensar movement> Pensar is continuing its support for the Kokrobite Chiltern Centre. Dedicated to providing education for local children near Accra in Ghana, Pensar covers the cost of school fees, uniforms, shoes, books and other costs for three children every year. A number of staff also volunteer their time both in the UK and by visits to Ghana such as finance manager Mary Charles (pictured).
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The VR, AR and mixed reality issue Is 2018 VR’s last chance to shine? Will AR take off and how will mixed reality fit into the fold? All will be answered in the next issue of PCR. Features to look forward to include a comparison of the purpose of VR, AR and mixed reality as well as a look at how to sell VR as more than a novelty product. There will also be a special focus on headsets and business software as well as all the regular news and features.
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