February 7, 2013
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The Game Changer
States split on issue of cloud taxability
The rise of cloud computing has helped businesses cut costs, improve efficiency and enhance productivity. But for state regulators, it has presented something of a conundrum: Is virtually hosted software a product or a service, and more importantly, is it taxable? Idaho became the latest state to levy a sales tax on businesses that sell cloud services as well as those that use them, joining Arizona, Indiana, New York, Texas and Washington state. Other states, including Kansas and Nebraska, have determined that hosted software only counts as a taxable product if users download it. The Wall Street Journal (2/6)
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Emerging Tools
Enterprises bullish on UC but lack adequate support, report finds
Technology executives are eager to embrace unified communications, but the vast majority of them have yet to determine exactly how their companies will benefit, a survey has found. Research firm MDS predicts that the UC industry will experience strong growth, generating $7.7 billion in revenue by 2015, but says that operators need to improve customer engagement efforts. Channel Partners (2/5)
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Security Update
Report exposes flaws in FCC cybersecurity program
A cybersecurity initiative launched by the Federal Communications Commission in 2011 contains serious vulnerabilities and should be retooled, according to a report from the Government Accountability Office. The analysis found that, among other things, the FCC's Enhanced Secured Network project relied on security tools that were poorly configured, encryption methods that weren't strong enough and a malware protection system that contains holes. "As a result of these and other deficiencies, FCC faces an unnecessary risk that individuals could gain unauthorized access to its sensitive systems and information," the report said. The Washington Post/Federal Eye blog (2/5)
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Tech Business
Study: SMB cloud services spending will double in 2 years
Spending on cloud services by small to midsized companies will more than double by 2015 to $95 billion, cloud-hosting firm Parallels predicts. "Looking at the global IT landscape in 2012, we see SMBs' participation in the cloud market spanning the full gamut -- from having a mature cloud services market to needing education about what cloud services are," a Parallels report says. V3.co.uk (U.K.) (2/5)
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Managing IT
Companies find patience is a virtue when transitioning to the cloud
Enterprises are more eager than ever to embrace cloud computing, but many companies are finding that getting there is more difficult than expected, according to a survey of 674 business and IT executives by KPMG International. While 70% of respondents cited increased efficiency and cost savings from the cloud, one-third said configuring and integrating new cloud solutions involved unanticipated expenses, and roughly the same number said they expected to realize business benefits more quickly. InformationWeek (2/6)
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Building engagement is all in the game
Companies such as Microsoft, Nike and SAP are increasingly using gamification to turn employee engagement into a fun, social activity. Such strategies let workers compete to complete key tasks more effectively and help managers focus on creating metric-based business objectives. "Productivity games and virtual worlds are 21st-century business processes, not gimmicks," says Microsoft's Ross Smith. Mitchell Osak Online blog (2/6)
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Geeking Out
Red dwarf stars could support Earth-like atmosphere, researchers say
Planets similar to Earth may be more common and closer at hand than previously thought, according to an analysis of data from NASA's Kepler telescope that found red dwarf stars could support habitable planets. Scientists at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics determined that 6% of the 75 billion red dwarf stars they studied may have Earth-like planets orbiting them, some of which could be as close as 13 light-years away. Popular Science (2/6)
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SmartQuote
Clearly businesses, especially SMEs, are keen to receive IT and communications services under a single umbrella offering, but operators in some cases are failing to deliver a compelling and clear proposition for an integrated customer experience."
-- Matt Hooper, chief marketing officer at research firm MDS, as quoted by Channel Partners
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