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Research Roundup: ransomware, phishing, malware via Excel

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by Peter Krass on 02/01/2022
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Financial-services companies are the top targets of ransomware. Fake invoices and other business documents are the top methods crooks use for phishing. And Excel is now being used to spread malware.

That’s from some of the latest research on cybersecurity. Here’s your tech provider’s roundup.

Ransomware’s Top Targets

Financial-services companies are the No. 1 target of ransomware attacks, according to Trellix. As bank robber Willie Sutton once quipped, “That’s where the money is.”

Trellix, a provider of extended detection and response systems, just released its January report on threat research, which actually examines trends from the third quarter of last year.

Here’s some of what the Trellix researchers noticed:

> Financial services received more than 1 in 5 of all ransomware attacks (22%). The same industry also received roughly a third (37%) of all advanced persistent threat (APT) detections.

> Ransomware group DarkSide has re-emerged with a new name, BlackMatter. DarkSide is the group responsible for the Colonial Pipeline attack, so this is a big deal.

> Cobalt Strike, an adversary simulation tool, is being used by nation-states to gain access to the networks of others.

Most Popular Forms of Phishing

You know ransomware mostly comes in via email phishing, but do you know which types of email messages are most likely to contain phishing tests?

Security firm KnowBe4 does. Here’s its recent list of the top-clicked phishing tests:

> Business (24%): Fake invoices, purchase orders, shared files, more

> Online services (19%): Shopping, entertainment, applications, etc.

> Human Relations (16%): Applications, surveys, etc. — typicaly has the word “HR” in the mailbox name

> IT (11%): Antivirus, email account inquiries, security notifications

> Banking & Finance (8%): Transactions, confirmations

> Other (22%): Including Covid-19 messages, mail notifications, holiday coupons, social networking

And here are some typical phishing email subject lines you might encounter, according to KnowBe4:

> “Password check required immediately”

> “Dress code changes”

> “Vacation policy update”

Malware via Excel? 

You have a new reason to hate Excel. Hackers are using Microsoft’s popular spreadsheet application to spread malware.

That’s according to a new threat insights report from HP Wolf Security.

HP found a huge quarter-to-quarter increase (+588%) in attackers using malicious Excel add-in (.xll) files to infect systems.

This technique is particularly dangerous. Because running the malware requires just one click.

The HP team also found ads for .xll dropper and malware builder kits on underground markets. These kits make it easier for inexperienced attackers to launch campaigns. 

HP also identified a recent QakBot spam campaign that involved using Excel files to trick targets. The campaign sent compromised email accounts to hijack email threads and reply with an attached malicious Excel (.xlsb) file. After being delivered to systems, QakBot injects itself into legitimate Windows processes to evade detection.

HP has also seen malicious Excel (.xls) files being used to spread the Ursnif banking Trojan to Italian-speaking businesses and public-sector organizations through a malicious spam campaign. In a creepy move, the attackers posed as employees of an Italian courier service, BRT.

New campaigns spreading Emotet malware are now using Excel instead of JavaScript or Word files, too.

 

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In the Zone

Cross-platform solutions: relief for your hybrid-device headaches

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by Kevin Jacoby on 01/27/2022
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Hybrid work is the new normal. For the foreseeable future, hardly anyone’s going back to the office Monday through Friday, 9 to 5.

Instead, workers are now found in offices, at home, on park benches, in airplane seats, and just about anywhere else that offers a flat surface and a decent internet connection.

However, working from these various locations is still harder than it should be. Mainly, that’s due to a decided lack of device interoperability.

Major platforms still incompatible

You might think that by now, all the major platforms — Windows, macOS, Android, iOS, Chrome et al. — would be fully interoperable.

But just try sharing a file in a proprietary format with another platform, and you’ll see how wrong you are. An iPhone won’t play nice with a Windows 11 ultrabook. That Android tablet prefers not to shake hands with nearby PC monitors. Your smart TV doesn’t speak the same language as your in-car display.

The answer? Big Tech thinks it’s cross-device setups. If they’re right, this could be the perfect solution for the modern workforce. And a new business opportunity for tech providers.

Bridging the gap between devices

How do cross-device setups help the modern worker? The answer may be found in Intel’s recent acquisition of Israeli tech startup Screenovate.

Founded in 2009, Screenovate is working to commercialize cross-platform software. Essentially, the company’s software duplicates and displays the contents of a mobile device on the screens of other devices, such as PCs, smart TVs and 2-in-1 convertibles.

Intel’s purchase of Screenovate is a prime example of how Big Tech is working to bridge the gap among the many devices we interact with every day.

Intel isn’t alone. Other tech titans, including HP and Microsoft, are getting into the game, too. Their goal: give workers a smooth transition between all their devices. That includes mobile phones and tablets, desktop and laptop PCs, and secondary devices such as smart displays.

Microsoft’s human-centric approach

Connecting devices is the purpose behind Microsoft Graph. It’s a new API-based platform designed to replace workers’ device-centric activities with what Microsoft calls a human-centric approach.

When workers move from one device to another, they can lose data, time and patience. Microsoft says Graph can help by enabling software designers to build-in a menu of recent activities.

Then the contents of this menu are stored in the cloud. From there, they’re pretty much available from any connected device.

Microsoft Graph

Microsoft Graph: sharing activities with any supporting device

Using Microsoft Graph-enabled devices, your customer’s typical workday morning might go something like this:

7 a.m.: Your customer wakes up. Looking at their bedside smartphone, they see a display of yesterday’s collaborative project.

7:30 a.m.: While eating breakfast, your customer has the latest edits to the project read aloud by a smart speaker.

8:30 a.m.: Your customer drives to work. On the way, they have the car’s dashboard screen host a chat or conference call and display the PowerPoint presentation controlled by a remote worker.

9 a.m.: Your customer is now seated at a traditional office desk. Now they can click a button to call onto their work PC all the latest data from that productive morning commute.

Or, if your customer is working from home that day, all these devices (excepting the car’s dashboard) can similarly share data, files and more.

New, cross-device business for tech providers

Will the coming cross-device revolution bring new sales opportunities? It’s a pretty good bet.

New hybrid work-focused devices like the recently announced Dragonfly ultrabooks and E-series conferencing monitors from HP will soon hit the market.

The HP Dragonfly features a videoconferencing enhancement called HP Presence. The device also offers myHP, an application that gives users a dashboard to control and customize their PC experience.

HP Dragonfly ultrabook

HP Dragonfly: virtual meetings built-in

Also, a new generation of devices enabled by the Intel/Screenovate screen-mirroring tech could kick off a mobile-tech buying spree.

Software will likely be a major player, too. New versions of faithful work staples like Word and Excel will gain new Microsoft Graph superpowers. To take advantage, your customers will need to update older software titles and perhaps buy new apps too.

The new normal of hybrid work will demand cross-device compatibility as a matter of course. Now’s the time to get the ball rolling — and that ball can now roll among your myriad devices.

 

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In the Zone

EdTech: Check out the latest training courses from Intel Partner University

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by Peter Krass on 01/26/2022
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Education technology is hot. Do you have the skills and knowledge to get in?

Yesterday’s skills won’t do because EdTech has been transformed by the pandemic. Remote learning, once merely an interesting idea, is now the norm. Ditto for giving every student a Chromebook or PC.

Those changes translate into a lot of business — and a lot of money. Last year global EdTech sales approached $255 billion, according to Arizton Advisory & Intelligence. Looking ahead, the market researcher expects EdTech sales to grow by an average of 15.5% a year through 2027, when total worldwide sales should reach $605.4 billion.

Remote learning

Need new skills for the fast-changing, fast-growing EdTech market? Intel Partner University is here to help. Check out these 4 new online courses:

Multitasking in the Virtual U.S. K-12 Classroom

In this course you’ll learn about the research and recommendations from the Intel-commissioned 2021 Multitasking in the Virtual Classroom study.

The study quantifies how powerful Intel processors have a significant impact on the ability of educators and students to experience and participate in a seamless, synchronous virtual learning experience. (20 minutes; 5 credits)

eSports Opportunities U.S. Higher Ed

Ready to explore the world of collegiate eSports — and how Intel helps to drive growth with technology, events, and partnerships? This class will show you how. You’ll also learn how you can partner with Intel to drive growth in your own eSports business. (20 minutes; 5 credits)

The Right Devices for U.S. K-12 Education

Learn about the transformation that’s happening in education and the workplace. Then discover how you can best equip students with the devices they’ll use today to develop the skills for tomorrow. (20 minutes; 5 credits)

AI and the Future of Work

Take this course to learn how Intel collaborates with community colleges to provide over 200 hours of Artificial Intelligence content in a “train the trainer” model.

It’s all done through Intel’s AI for Workforce Program, a program being adopted by community colleges across the United States. This program, part of Intel's Digital Readiness portfolio, equips current and future workers with key AI skills.

In this course you’ll also discover how Intel can support your customers in building and implementing this program. (20 minutes; 5 credits)

Browse more EdTech courses from Intel Partner University.

> Not yet a member of Intel Partner Alliance? Learn more about Intel Partner Alliance and register to join.

 

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In the Zone

Join Intel partner webinar & learn where managed services are headed

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by Peter Krass on 01/25/2022
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The new year has a lot in store: AI, hybrid worker security, cloud security, and more. How will you tell your customers about the impact of these technology transformations? And how will you position your own solutions to gain business this year?

To get started, join Intel for an exclusive partner webinar. Entitled “Where is Managed Services Heading in 2022?” this webinar is happening on Thursday, Jan. 27, at 10 a.m. PT / 1 p.m. ET.

The speaker: Eric Townsend, director of SMB and MSP marketing at Intel. During this webinar, Eric will discuss what he sees as the 5 biggest technology transformations happening in 2022.

Eric Townsend

Eric Townsend of Intel

There’s more: Join this webinar live, and you’ll be automatically entered in a drawing for a special Intel-branded prize pack. The winners will be announced live during the webinar.

Attend live and you’ll also earn 7 training credits toward your company’s Intel Partner Alliance annual training requirement. Attend the webinar later on-demand, and you’ll earn 5 credits.

This webinar is part of a series of Intel Partner Alliance webinars for North America. Join the webinar on Jan. 27 and learn where managed services are heading this year.

> Check out the Jan. 27 webinar, “Where is Managed Services Heading in 2022?” and register to attend.

> Not yet an Intel Partner Alliance member? Discover the benefits and sign up today.

 

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In the Zone

5 top takeaways from Intel’s latest IDM 2.0 moves

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by Peter Krass on 01/21/2022
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Intel today announced bold new moves in its IDM 2.0 strategy.

The IDM 2.0 strategy, announced by Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger last March, calls for Intel to become a major provider of foundry services for other companies in the United States and Europe.

As part of that strategy, Intel made 5 big moves today:

1. Intel CEO Gelsinger appeared side-by-side with President Biden this morning at a White House press conference, “A Future Made in America.” Gelsinger said this was “a historic day for Intel — and the global semiconductor industry.” (Watch the press conference video replay.)

Pat Gelsinger speaking at White House press conference, Jan. 21, 2022

2. Gelsinger announced Intel’s plan to invest more than $20 billion to build 2 new semiconductor factories on a “mega-fab” site in Licking County, Ohio, outside the city of Columbus. Initially, the project will create 3,000 full-time Intel jobs and 7,000 construction jobs, he said.

3. To support the project, Intel will commit an additional $100 million to form partnerships with local colleges and universities to train new talent and bolster research.

4. At 1,000 acres, the Ohio site is big enough for 6 more fabs, which would bring the total to 8 fabs. Assuming Intel builds these additional manufacturing plants, the company says its total investment in the Ohio site could reach $100 billion over the next 10 years.

5. Intel has persuaded 4 companies to support the new Ohio chip fabs by establishing a presence in the region: Air Products, Applied Materials, LAM Research and Ultra Clean. More companies are expected to join these 4 in the future.

 

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Get into the fast-growing gaming biz with Intel NUC

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by Peter Krass on 01/21/2022
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Searching for a tech market that’s growing fast? Then look into gaming.

Looking for gaming hardware that can give your customers a competitive edge? Then check out the Intel NUC family.

Intel NUC 11 Extreme

You probably know that Intel NUCs are ideal for business applications such as conferencing and digital signage. But did you know these small compute devices are also perfect for high-performance gaming?

Gaming hardware: a fast-growing market

For tech providers, being able to offer a new hardware option for gaming is a big deal. Because gaming hardware is a big business. And it’s quickly getting even bigger.

Over the next 3 years, global sales of videogame hardware —  mobile devices, consoles and PCs — will increase on average by 8% a year, predicts market watcher Technavio.

By 2025, Technavio adds, all that compound growth will bring gaming hardware sales to nearly $75.5 billion worldwide. That’s a lot of “Pokemon: Brilliant Diamond.”

What’s behind the gaming market’s fast growth? Well, gamers are always looking for a competitive edge. And one big edge is hardware.

Intel NUCs for gaming

Whether you already serve gaming customers or just want to get into the business, the Intel NUC can help. These compact devices can give your gaming customers a big hardware advantage.

They’re powered by 11th gen Intel Core processors, include discrete graphics options and offer a range of I/Os. Plus, all Intel NUC devices are backed by Intel’s 3-year warranty.

Here’s a look at Intel NUC devices you can offer your gaming customers.

Intel NUC 11 Extreme Kit

Small but powerful, the Intel NUC 11 Extreme Kit features your customer’s choice of an 11th Gen Intel Core i7 or i9 processor. It’s also the first Intel NUC to support full-size (12 in.) dual-slot high-performance graphics cards.

For a wow factor, there’s also customizable underglow lighting with a replaceable RGB front logo.

Intel NUC 11 Enthusiast Mini PC and Kits

The Intel NUC 11 Enthusiast Mini PC is powered by the 11th Gen Intel Core i7 processor in a small and sleek chassis. You’ll also get NVIDIA GeForce RTX2060 Discrete Graphics for a smooth, immersive gaming experience.

It’s small enough to fit on any desk. So your customers can game where and when they want.

Intel NUC X15 Laptop Kits

With your choice of an 11th Gen Intel Core i7 or i5 processor, plus an NVIDIA GeForce RTX 30-series GPU, these laptop kits power elite experiences for enthusiast gamers.

This laptop kit also gives gamers up to 10 hours of battery life. Connectivity options include Thunderbolt 4, USB 4.0 Type-C, and DisplayPort.

You customize the predesigned kit with your choice of memory, storage and OS — then add your own brand.

Get into gaming hardware with Intel NUC:

> Browse Intel partner sales tools and marketing assets for Intel NUC Mini PCs, kits and boards

> Watch this Intel Partner University on-demand webinar: Win with 11th Gen Intel NUC Mini PCs and Laptops for Gaming

Gain new skills with these 2 Intel Partner University courses:

> Intel NUC 11 Extreme Kits: Legends Start Here

> Intel NUC X15 Laptop Kit

Not yet an Intel Partner Alliance member? Check out the benefits and sign up today.

 

 

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Case study: How a state agency improved performance by moving to the cloud

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by Deloitte on 01/20/2022
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For government agencies, especially those at the state level, moving to cloud is a growing imperative.

With any shift to the cloud comes the potential for benefits such as greater speed of business, reduced operating costs, IT simplicity and enhanced security. All are key for public-sector organizations.

For one state agency charged with fiscal responsibilities, cloud emerged as a central focus. Its leaders sought to tame the complexity associated with human resources (HR) and payroll data while maintaining accountability and integrity.

Done right, the move would give stakeholders greater access to data and bolster reliability. It would also optimize costs and provide scalability to support growth.

Growing pains with older platform

The agency encountered growing pains with its existing platform, which was oversized, high-cost, and aging. As a result, the team couldn’t move the data as is, or freely, in any other platforms.

The choice they faced: Overcome budget constraints and invest in a major capital improvement project for current infrastructure or make a more strategic and cost-effective move to cloud.

The challenge? Understanding the options and defining a path for an effective move. Scalability and costs were important considerations. But complexities around the cloud architecture presented challenges.

Skill sets were also a key focus in planning a move to cloud. The agency relied on specialized skills for maintaining its existing databases.

AWS + Intel solution

Despite a clear goal to make cloud the foundation for mission-critical HR data, the organization needed a well-marked blueprint for building that foundation. It also needed a team of enterprise resource planning (ERP) and cloud transformation leading specialists to help make it real.

The state agency teamed up with Deloitte to plan and execute a move to a new Amazon Web Services (AWS) Cloud environment, bringing along HR and payroll data for thousands of state employees.

Working together, the organizations created a road map for the state agency to migrate to AWS infrastructure powered by Intel Xeon Scalable processors. The Intel-powered instances are optimized for SAP workloads and are reliable, were the right size for the need, and are certified by SAP.

Itinerary for a journey to the cloud

The project team generated a detailed playbook for the agency to use for its ongoing journey to cloud. This playbook encompassed migration and process requirements for data, applications and networks. It also addressed needs across development, workloads, testing, quality assurance, production and security.

Armed with this detailed strategy, the agency moved confidently to migrate its SAP payroll and reporting system to AWS, while significantly improving performance over its previous onsite platform.

They reduced payroll runtimes by as much as 60%. And they reduced labor needs for database management.

The initial move from on premises to AWS occurred during a 12-hour technical cutover window. The team used SAP export/import methods that had been customized to the agency’s requirements.

In planning and then making the move, the agency and Deloitte worked across organizational borders to develop consensus. They also made sure that the new cloud landscape could support the agency’s needs.

Deloitte also collaborated with other organizations, including the state’s IT department, to ensure that the project would meet strict technology and procedural protocols for state-maintained data. They also aimed for minimal disruption.

Fine-tuning the database

To complete the work, Deloitte brought its long-standing experience with cloud and SAP solutions running on the AWS Cloud, and powered by the Intel Xeon Scalable platform, to bear.

Deloitte helped to fine-tune the database for the applications, adhere to strict Intel, AWS, and SAP technical standards, and ultimately create a new cloud landscape aligned with the agency’s business processes.

With the first wave of its move complete, and a detailed migration template in place, the agency is well positioned to extend its cloud journey. It can scale readily and shift additional systems to the cloud as needed in the future.

The ongoing transformation also should allow the agency to take advantage of additional AWS capabilities in the cloud. That includes services for integration and intelligent automation.

The wins

As a result of the state agency’s move to the cloud, here are the main benefits it’s enjoying:

> Scalability to support growth of data and the organization’s SAP payroll workload.

> Reduced labor needs and dependence on specialized database and hardware skills.

> A solid foundation and blueprint for moving additional applications to the cloud.

> Lower total cost of operations; moving from a CapEx model to OpEx.

> Greater system availability for payroll functions.

> Faster overall application and payroll runtimes, achieved by a database powered by Intel Xeon Scalable processors.

> Access to additional cloud managed services to support ongoing maintenance and services.

~~~~~~~~~

By the Numbers

10,000+ users: The migrated data is relevant to the work and the roles of thousands of state users

50% to 60%: Reduction in runtime for monthly payroll activities and batch processing

70 working days: The agency’s estimated annual time savings for processing HR activities

99.95%: System availability on AWS infrastructure

16 weeks: Time needed, from planning to migration, to complete the initial phase

~~~~~~~~

About the Authors

Andrew Chew is a managing director at Deloitte Consulting.

Chandra B. Mahale is a specialist leader at Deloitte Consulting.

~~~~~~~

Learn more:

Read the full case study, and check out related Deloitte resources.

 

 

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In the Zone

2022 Blueprint for Success: Leverage Intel Partner Financing

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by Peter Krass on 01/18/2022
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What would you say to an incremental, 60-day and interest-free credit line for purchasing Intel components?

It’s now on offer from Intel Partner Financing.

Available to all members of the Intel Partner Alliance, this financing plan is administered by DLL, a global vendor finance company. It’s designed to help Intel partners bridge the gap between their purchase of Intel components and their customers’ payments.

David Allen of Intel

David Allen of Intel

To learn more about the program, we spoke recently with David Allen, Intel’s director of distribution for the U.S. Here’s an edited version of our conversation.

What was the impetus for Intel Partner Financing?

In the beginning of the pandemic, back around the second quarter of 2020, we saw a huge surge in people buying technology, components and devices. What we heard from our partners is that they were buying so much for their customers, they were hitting the limit of their credit lines.

So to help, we went to DLL, a long-time partner of ours and a long-time friend of the channel. Together, Intel and DLL created a program that enables incremental and extended credit flow to our partners. For an Intel partner that’s already been deemed creditworthy by a distributor, this goes beyond that.

Given everything that’s going on with the pandemic — product shortages, more product orders, customers taking longer to pay — we find it’s been really timely.

How does Intel Partner Financing work?

First, it’s a separate credit line that partners can use to buy Intel components. That could be Intel CPUs, Intel NUCs, Intel server products — any of our Intel components available through our authorized distributors.

Second, the Intel credit does not affect other credit lines partners may already have with a distributor. That’s why we say it’s entirely incremental.

Then, with DLL and Intel stepping in to provide an incremental credit facility, the bill comes due in 60 days. The good news is, Intel is picking up the tab for that 60-day interest-free financing. So assuming you pay within that 60-day limit, Intel pays the associated program fees.

Now, if you want to go beyond those 60 days, that’s a separate conversation with DLL and the distributor. That’s outside our domain. That said, we find that for the majority of our partners, the 60-day timeline works well.

What’s the process?

It’s pretty simple. A partner applies for credit, and their application goes in via the distributor to DLL. Once DLL approves a partner’s application, the partner buys from the distributor as they usually do. The 5 participating distributors are TechData, Synnex, ASI, Ingram Micro and D&H.

Next, the distributor ships the part to the partner, then invoices DLL for the payment. DLL pays the distributor, and then the partner pays DLL with 60 days. As I mentioned, Intel takes care of the fees. We want to ensure this works well for the partner as well as for the distributor.

Intel Partner Financing chart

It’s worth noting that DLL is a wonderful partner. They have a level of flexibility that’s great. Plus, they’re open to discussing options and other arrangements with partners. DLL has been a preferred financing partner across the channel for many years, and they were a natural choice for this project.

Can a partner be too big or too small for this financing?

A few very big national retailers and solution providers will be considered ineligible for this financing, but they’re the exception.

As far as small partners go, there’s really no limit. A partner does have to show that they’re creditworthy, and that’s up to DLL to determine. But we’re not looking only for big accounts. In fact, we’d like to see a balance of large, midsize and smaller accounts.

How big is the program now? And what do you plan for the future?

Last year, the value of sales that went through the program exceeded $100 million. And we had the participation of well over 100 partners.

Looking ahead, we see this as a multiyear program. We want more partners and more financing. We’re expanding the program geographically, too. We’ll do more in Canada, where partner financing has so far been limited. We also plan to launch the financing program in Mexico.

If a partner is interested, how do they get started?

Just go to the Intel Partner Financing landing page. This will give you a quick description of how the program works and what the benefits are. Then click a link to one of our authorized distributors. It’s that simple.

Learn more:

> Check out Intel Partner Financing.

> Not yet an IPA member? Learn more about Intel Partner Alliance and register today.

> Check out these other 2022 Blueprint for Success posts:

     > Partner marketing made easy

     > Build your credentials with Intel training

 

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Meet Intel’s 2 newest execs: CFO and GM of client computing

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by Peter Krass on 01/17/2022
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Intel has brought in the new year by appointing two new senior executives: a new head of client computing and a new chief financial officer.

Intel’s new head of client computing, Michelle Johnston Holthaus, is a company insider. But the new CFO, David Zinsner, was recruited from Micron Technology, where he also held the CFO position.

Meet the two new Intel executives:

David Zinsner, CFO

David Zinsner’s new titles at Intel are executive VP and CFO. Both positions are effective as of today, Jan. 17. Zinsner reports directly to Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger.

David Zinsner

David Zinsner, Intel’s new CFO

Zinsner is an industry veteran with more than 20 years of experience in tech. He’s held both financial and operational roles in semiconductors and manufacturing.

Prior to working at Micron, Zinsner was president and chief operating officer of Affirmed Networks, which offers cloud-native communications for service providers and is now a unit of Microsoft.

Before that, Zinsner was senior VP of finance at integrated circuit maker Analog Devices, where he helped manage several acquisitions, including Linear Technology. And before that, Zinsner was CFO at Intersil Corp., where he was part of the team that took the company public in 2000.

On the education front, Zinsner has earned an MBA from the Owen School of Management at Vanderbilt University, and a bachelor’s degree in industrial management from Carnegie Mellon.

Zinsner replaces Intel’s previous CFO, George Davis, who previously said he would retire this coming May. Until then, however, Davis plans to remain with Intel in an advisory role, assisting Zinsner in his transition.

Michelle Johnston Holthaus, GM of client computing

Holthaus is now an Intel executive VP and GM of the client computing group. With Intel for 26 years, she was most recently the company’s GM of sales, marketing and communications.

Michelle Johnston Holthaus

Michelle Johnston Holthaus

In her earlier roles at Intel, Holthaus was head of global client computing sales, lead of the Microsoft account team, and manager of channel products. Her first job at Intel, started in 1996, was as program manager of OEM platform solutions.

Holthaus has been recognized by CRN’s Women of the Channel award three times.

Holthaus replaces Gregory “GB” Bryant, Intel's previous GM of client computing who surprised industry watchers by announcing his resignation last week. That was just days after he introduced key products at the CES 2022 conference, including new members of the 12th gen Intel Core processor family. Bryant joined Intel 30 years ago, back in 1992.

Holthaus’s previous role as head of sales, marketing and comms has not yet been filled. Intel says a search for her successor is still underway.

 

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Research roundup: PC sales – Q4:21 and looking ahead

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by Peter Krass on 01/14/2022
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While much about Covid-19 is subject to debate, one thing about the pandemic surely isn’t: It’s been really good for the PC business.

With so many people working from home, studying from home, or just stuck at home, new desktops, laptops, workstations and Chromebooks have been flying off the shelves.

The new question is whether strong demand for PCs will continue. With the pandemic approaching the 2-year mark, doesn’t everyone who needed a new PC have one by now?

Full year was strong 

First, let’s look back. Last year was another strong year for PC sales. For the full year 2021, global shipments rose by either 10% or 15%, depending on who you ask and how you count.

Analyst firm Gartner says the year’s PC shipments increased 9.9%, for a global total of 339.8 million units. But in that count, Gartner includes Chromebooks.

Market watcher IDC, which does not include Chromebooks in its tally, says full-year 2021 PC shipments rose by a much higher 14.8%, for a total of 348.8 million units worldwide.

Either way, that’s strong.

Over at analyst company Canalys, senior analyst Ishan Dutt called 2021 a “watershed year in the history of the PC market.”

Mainly, that’s because instead of just replacing older PCs, the industry shipped new PCs to people who previously didn’t use them. These customers included students and remote workers.

Q4:21 tells a different story

However, look at last year’s fourth quarter, and the story shifts. Both IDC and Canalys agree that shipments rose a mild 1%. Gartner, again including Chromebooks, says global Q4 shipments actually fell, and by a rapid 5%.

Gartner’s inclusion of Chromebooks appears to be a deciding factor. Schools, the biggest customers for Chromebooks, appear to have had their fill. Gartner says demand for Chromebooks in Q4:21 “collapsed.”

Combine that with supply-chain issues, and you’ve got what Gartner research director Mikako Kitagawa calls “the end of massive growth in PC demand triggered by the pandemic.”

U.S. market saw demand fall

Even market watchers who say PC shipments in Q4 rose globally concede that U.S. sales tanked. Gartner goes as far as calling it a “sharp decline.”

Market watchers agree the U.S. downturn was caused by a combination of supply-chain issues, the aforementioned drop in Chromebook demand, and weak consumer demand over the holidays.

How bad was it? According to Gartner, pretty bad. It says PC shipments in the U.S. during Q4:21 fell 24% from the year-earlier quarter.

Lenovo really felt it. The company’s global PC shipments dropped nearly 12% in Q4, due mainly to weak U.S. demand, according to Gartner. Similarly, HP’s Q4 shipments of PCs fell 4% worldwide.

Dell snatched victory from the jaws of defeat. Its Q4:21 shipments of PCs worldwide rose nearly 8%.

And in the U.S., Dell secured the top spot in Q4 with a 28.5% market share of unit shipments, according to Gartner. Number 2 in the U.S. was HP (25.9% share), followed by Lenovo (15%) and Apple (13%).

Looking ahead

How’s the PC future look? Again, it depends on who you ask.

Gartner expects PC demand to drop for at least the next 2 years.

By contrast, Canalys believes 2022 will be a year of “digital acceleration.” That means spending will shift to premium PCs, monitor and other work-from-anywhere tech.

IDC has a mixed outlook. On the one hand, it acknowledges that both education and consumer demand for PCs is tapering. But the market watcher also believes the PC market has essentially “reset” itself, and at a much higher level than before the pandemic.

 

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