Accenture-Disney deal: Blockchain at the movies

A recently revealed Accenture-Disney alliance aims to apply virtual reality, machine learning and blockchain in immersive entertainment and film production; other news.

Accenture's recently announced R&D collaboration with Walt Disney Studios will pursue technologies such as virtual reality, machine learning and blockchain.

The professional services firm earlier this month said it will help Walt Disney Studios establish StudioLAB, an initiative that aims to apply emerging technologies in fields ranging from immersive entertainment to film production. Accenture Interactive, that group's Fjord design consultancy and Accenture Labs will contribute to the StudioLAB venture. Accenture will also support StudioLAB's operations as part of a three-year agreement.

Marc Carrel-Billiard, Accenture's global technology R&D lead, said StudioLAB's future-of-cinema work will include tapping virtual and augmented reality, so people can "experience movies in a different way." Disney Research already works on augmented reality projects.

Carrel-Billiard said he also envisions a role for machine learning in camera placement and finding the best possible shots to help film crews when they are on site. As for blockchain, Carrell-Billiard said that technology can play a role in exchanging documents between crew members during the production of a movie.

"A distributed ledger can be quite interesting to them," he said.

Accenture's blockchain work spans a range of industries, from border security to air travel.

Storage may also come into play in the Accenture-Disney partnership at some point, although that technology is not on the immediate agenda. However, developing compression algorithms that provide a good rendering of movies and managing cloud storage will become part of StudioLAB's work in the future, Carrel-Billiard noted. Channel partners in the storage sector have carved a niche in the entertainment industry vertical.

Virtustream looks to partners for Healthcare Cloud growth

Cloud infrastructure provider Virtustream said it will rely on partners to grow business around its Healthcare Cloud storage offering.

The company, which is among the several strategically aligned businesses under Dell Technologies, currently works with a combination of systems integrators (SIs), ISVs and value-added resellers -- about 200 partners in total. Healthcare Cloud was launched last year and hosts electronic healthcare records in an environment that's compliant with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act and HITECH regulations.

Virtustream will "need to rely on SIs quite significantly" in the healthcare space, tapping partners for their expertise and market reach, said Christina Colby, senior vice president of strategic alliances at Virtustream, based in New York.

Colby added that Virtustream is also looking to ramp up its joint solutions building with system integrators. She said these efforts would tie into the vendor's Pivotal Cloud Foundry Service, an application development platform-as-a-service offering hosted on Virtustream enterprise cloud infrastructure.

About 30% of Virtusteam's business is influenced by partners today, and Colby said she is focused on growing that percentage by increasing partner enablement. She said the company plans to introduce more training materials in the next six months that will help partners become "more self-sufficient."

StorageCraft survey: Cloud services boost customer retention

Offering cloud services makes customers stick around.

That's one takeaway from StorageCraft's newly released channel partner survey. The data protection vendor, which sells a disaster-recovery-as-a-service offering through its partners, surveyed 50 channel companies in the U.S. in February 2018. According to StorageCraft, 63% of the respondents reported improved customer retention as a result of adding cloud services to their portfolios.

"The overall stickiness of the customer base increased quite a bit," said Shridar Subramanian, vice president marketing and product management at StorageCraft, based in Draper, Utah.

Providing cloud-based data protection also increases customers' trust in channel partners, he added. "And this becomes an enabler for them to [sell] additional services into their customer base."

The survey, which polled StorageCraft partners and firms not partnering with StorageCraft, also found an increase in revenue per channel partner customer of 66% as a result of adding cloud services. Nearly a quarter of the respondents said they captured at least one new customer as a consequence of offering cloud services. And more than half of those companies surveyed reported selling cloud services has increased quarterly revenue by at least 6%.

Other news

  • Insight Enterprises, an IT solutions provider, has unveiled a mobility-as-a-service (MaaS) offering. Dubbed Insight Managed Mobility, the MaaS offering includes mobile device procurement; deployment and activation; managed services, including help desk support; and technology refreshment.
  • Wipro, a consulting and business process services company, signed a $405 million deal to divest its hosted data center services business to Ensono, a hybrid IT services provider. The divestment comes with eight data centers and more than 900 employees of Wipro's hosted data center services business, Wipro said. Additionally, Wipro said it will invest $55 million into Ensono as part of a partnership agreement to address the hybrid IT needs of Wipro's customers.
  • Blue Prism, a robotic process automation vendor, has launched a program that aims to provide fast RPA deployment across public-sector agencies. The effort taps partners such as Appian, Deloitte, IBM and KPMG, and it also includes ImmixGroup as a value-added distributor. RPA vendors are building partnerships with consulting firms and other channel partners to broaden deployment of their technology.
  • Security vendor DigiCert bolstered its Certified Partner Program to align partners with the company's 2017 acquisition of Symantec Website Security. The program features four membership tiers, including a new Elite tier, and offers discounts based on sales volume and expertise, DigiCert said. Partners can also become certified to offer DigiCert Managed PKI, which aims to simplify customer's enterprise authentication, mobile device management and encrypted communications.
  • Service providers discussed product moves at the recent Enterprise Connect conference in Orlando, Fla. Masergy, a hybrid networking and managed security provider, announced availability of an automation tool that simplifies unified-communications-as-a-service user provisioning. In addition, Unified Office Inc., a managed services provider, announced a customer portal that the company said unites its Total Connect Now services, which include voice over IP, UC, business analytics and the internet of things (IoT).
  • Distributor Weston-Comstor has added Cisco IP phones with Multiplatform Firmware to its device-provisioning and lifecycle management offering. The offering, called ForgeServe, was developed in partnership with Swoop Datacom Ltd., an IoT services and software development provider.
  • Business communications vendor Mitel said ScanSource is now its primary U.S. distributor for Mitel's on-site products. In an expanded partnership, ScanSource will simplify the U.S. distribution of Mitel's on-site products and better enable partners, Mitel said.
  • One Identity, a provider of identity and access management software, said it has seen a 49% increase in year-over-year global channel sales. The vendor added that it recently appointed Roger Moffat as its director of channel and alliances. Moffat's most recent roles include director of channel and alliances at SUSE.
  • Infinidat, a vendor of data storage systems, named Mitch Diodato as its director of North American channel sales and Hanan Atlif as a new EMEA channel director. Diodato joins Infinidat from Arrow Enterprise Computing Solutions, where he served as national sales director. Atlif previously worked as a regional channel manager at VMware.

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