SMB Nation Blog

SMB Nation has been serving the Bainbridge Island area since 2001, providing IT Support such as technical helpdesk support, computer support, and consulting to small and medium-sized businesses.

Pokémon GO and Office 365

pokemon go logo

Greg Plum 8/8/2016


"How is Office 365 like Pokémon GO?" I ask my tween daughter as we are discussing the nearest Poke-stop.  Of course she looked at me with the same expression that I often get when I interrupt her world with a "dad question".  The look that says "Why are you talking to me?  I'm busy."  You know the look.  Or, you will one day.  

Finally, she graces me with a half-hearted response, "What do you mean? They are nothing alike!"  At this, I am actually encouraged because this response indicates that she does know what Office 365 is.

So, now I ask you, "how IS Office 365 like Pokémon GO?"  In a word:  relevance.

Let’s Take a Look Back

Pokémon was wildly popular in the mid-90s, making Nintendo an even more familiar name in households worldwide. That movement was fueled by a series of video games and the ever presence of Pokémon cards. I am sure millennials remember this quite well. Then, with the advent of more realistic graphics in video games with names like Call of Duty and Grand Theft Auto (or "GTA" to those who were among the legions of fans), Pokémon seemed to have passed it's peak, although always maintaining a healthy fan base.  

Pikachu Today…

Enter Pokémon GO on July 6, 2016.  According to SurveyMonkey, "Within three days of its release, Pokémon GO attracted more users than [decade-old] Twitter and rose to the top of the App Store revenue charts, earning millions of dollars a day for its publisher, Niantic." For now, anyway, Pokémon is an integral part of our everyday vernacular.  It has been given new life… all courtesy of Pokémon GO.  Not only is it the most played mobile game in US history, crushing "Candy Crush", it's use is closing in on Google Maps and SnapChat! Pokémon is, once again, relevant. To say the least…

Your Father’s Microsoft

But, what does all of this Pokémon talk have to do with Office 365?  Plenty.

Think back just a few years…  When someone asked which technology companies were hot, you would have likely said Facebook, Google, Apple and maybe even AirBnB and Uber. But, Microsoft?  Hardly.  Most of these companies that we all admired were "born in the cloud", that is, according to Techopedia, companies that offer "a specific type of cloud service that does not involve legacy systems, but was designed only for cloud delivery."  Microsoft was legacy, old, stodgy, not worthy of admiration, and maybe even thought of as a necessary evil.

 

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Google Sucks at Naming Stuff

Story by Eric Ravenscroft -

Yesterday, Google announced YouTube Red. Google, blissfully unaware of what goes on in Incognito Mode, apparently thought that this was a good name for a service. It is not the first time that Google has made flagrantly terrible choices in naming stuff.Google

As a brand itself, Google is pretty great. The name is distinct, it’s become synonymous with search, and the company has even managed to convey a distinct identity of whimsy, curiosity, and experimentation. Which is why it’s pretty frustrating that every single time Google announces the name of a new product, it’s either a generic English word with “Google” slapped on the front, or it’s a weird name that makes no damn sense.

Google Now Is an Awful Name for a Great ProductGoogle now

Google is the only company that hasn’t tried to personify its voice assistant. And I’m okay with that. Siri, Cortana, and Alexa are all nice, but I’m not going to be upset if my phone doesn’t get sassy when I ask it to divide zero by zero. But I almost wish that Google did give Google Now a persona so it wasn’t so stupidly difficult to talk about it.

For starters, Google still hasn’t really clarified what Google Now is. Initially, it seemed that “Google Now” referred to the page of cards that attempted to guess what information you wanted at any given moment. However, it now seems that Google’s collection of voice commands is included in “Google Now.” Or is that part of something called Ok Google, as this help page seems to indicate? Google used to have a separate product called Voice Actions, but that’s now the name of Google’s framework for third-party developers to add voice commands to Google. Maybe Google’s voice actions have no name. But if that’s the case, then Google’s entire personal assistant product has no name at all. Which would be really silly, since the voice commands are way more useful than Google Now cards.

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Lenovo Announces Availability of ThinkCentre Chromebox

Lenovo announced today the ThinkCentre Chromebox, an addition to its ThinkCentre Tiny business desktop family designed for education and SMB users.

Lenovo

Based on Chrome OS, the ThinkCentre Chromebox offers security, easy management and flexibility, key for businesses and industries with few IT professionals or minimal training. Through Google Chrome, users can access myriad applications designed for learning, sharing and collaboration.

“Lenovo was the first to introduce a one litre commercial desktop and ThinkCentre Chromebox is a testament to our commitment to the continued evolution of the desktop and our promise to push the boundaries on innovation for our education and business customers.” said Ouyang Jun, vice president and general manager, Desktop and Visuals, Lenovo. “Combined with the ThinkCentre Tiny-in-One, the new Chromebox illustrates our belief in more flexibility for teachers and IT managers to continue to offer desktop solutions in a modern day environment.”

ThinkCentre Chromebox will be available in June.

P.S.: Be sure to attend our online Office 365 connected conference, June 2-3. No travel, no hotel, no traffic! Sign up at http://getconnected.o365nation.com.

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The week that was – June 13th, 2014

Your weekly roundup of the IT and channel news you don’t want to miss.

Report: cybercrime costs $400B each year and that will only grow

csisIt’s another week, so it’s time for another Cybercrime study. This time we are being provided with a picture of the actual cost of cyber attacks – $400 billion and as many as 350,000 jobs in the US and Europe. Despite the fact that we seem to be getting this kind of report almost constantly these days, it still makes for compelling – and somewhat chilling – reading. Almost half a trillion dollars is nothing to sneeze at. The report, Net Losses – Estimating the Global Cost of Cybercrime, crunched open-source data about security incidents including corporate network attacks and intellectual property theft, and associated losses and then officials in 18 countries were interviewed to calculate its numbers. Conservatively, annual losses are at least $375 billion, but they could reach as high as $575 billion! The report was conducted by the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington, D.C. think tank and commissioned by Intel Security (formerly McAfee) and includes information about driving factors and security weaknesses. The study also highlights data from Framingham, Mass.-based research firm IDC, which projects a major increase in security spending, including on such elements as digital forensics tools, next-generation firewalls, and identity and access management software. Ironically, the report suggests that such increased spending may be negatively effecting the global economy as companies shift spending from innovation to security. It’s well worth reading for anyone in the IT space concerned with providing or provisioning security applications for themselves or clients.

Google to acquire Skybox for $500 Million

google logoGoogle announced plans to expand its mapping services with the purchase of satellite image provider Skybox Imaging for $500 million. The Search-engine giant plans to use Skybox to add more accurate imagery to its Google Maps and Google Earth services. “Skybox’s satellites will help keep Google Maps accurate with up-to-date imagery,” the company said in a statement. “Over time, we also hope that Skybox’s team and technology will be able to help improve Internet access and disaster relief—areas Google has long been interested in.”

 

ZyXEL unveils next-gen UTM firewalls for SMBs

Zyxel logoZyXEL launched a new line of Unified Threat Management products. The new products address a couple of major issues the Anahiem, CA-based company says SMBs are running afoul of: The need to maintaining high system throughput, even with security services turned on, and simplifying systems management with a new, easy-to-use interface. The new UTMs improve performance and add an integrated management interface that simplifies security provisioning for both solution providers and their SMB clients. Key features for new UTM series include:

  • Gigabit throughput with multi-core processer
  • Redesigned management interfacethat consolidates all security policies in a single location to deliver a single point of control for firewall, IDP, anti-virus, content filtering and application control.
  • Application intelligence identifies, categorizes and controls over 3,000 social, gaming, productivity and other Web applications and behaviors to boost productivity and prevent bandwidth abuse.
  • An integrated WLAN controlleris integrated with security management to help SMBs set-up a secure WLAN network.
  • SSL inspectionprovides deep packet inspection for SSL traffic

Barracuda releases new Mobile Device Manager for K-12

Barracuda NetworksBarracuda Networks Inc. has launched the Barracuda Mobile Device Manager, a free cloud-based mobile device and application management service designed to simplify management of iOS devices from a centralized console for K-12 educational institutions. “We believe mobile device management is an integral part of this broader security solution, particularly for educational institutions looking to leverage mobile technology in the classroom,” said Stephen Pao, GM Security, for the Campbell, CA-based provider of cloud-connected security and storage solutions. The new service allows administrators to:

  • Set device security policies including revoke access and device restrictions such as passcode policies and global proxy settings
  • Deploy and manage applications including other Barracuda mobile applications such as Safe Browser, Copy, and SignNow to enforce browsing policies, to help improve workflow between teachers and students, and manage the document signing process for parents
  • Remotely manage and monitor mobile devices

Mobile Device Manager is a free add-on for existing Barracuda customers and can be accessed through the Barracuda Cloud Control portal.

GFI Software adds Integrated Remote Access and Control to GFI Cloud

GFI LogoGFI Software has expanded its GFI Cloud Suite IT platform for SMBs with remote control and access capabilities. GFI Cloud is designed to provide IT administrators with the ability to manage and secure servers, workstations, laptops, and mobile devices from a single Web-based interface. Pricing for Remote Control for GFI Cloud starts at $24 per computer, per year. Multi-year and service bundle discounts are available. To learn more visit http://www.gficloud.com/. To sign up for a free 30-day trial, go to https://signup.gficloud.com

Intronis launches new BDR platform with fixed-fee pricing, partner resources

intronis logoIntronis was especially busy last week, announcing a new platform, fixed-fee pricing model and the availability of new partner support resources. First, the cloud backup and data recovery vendor launched its new Intronis ECHOplatform – offering a single solution for data recovery and cloud backup, while folding a range of existing services under the new platform for simplified delivery, including: imaging, VMware and Hyper-V, SQL and Exchange backup, BMR, and file sync and share. Intronis then announced it was reengineering its pricing model for cloud backup storage. Under the new Intronis U2 Plan partners will pay a monthly flat fee for unlimited cloud storage for all their clients rather than paying by the Gigabyte. Finally, Intronis announced the release of a new Partner Toolkit which will provide the channel with marketing materials, sales tips, and technical content such as onboarding instructions.

Israeli startup SiSense Raises $30 million, to launch channel program

SiSenseLogoSmallBig data analytics startup SiSense says it’s planning to invest a portion of the $30 million it just received in Series C financing to build a channel program and accelerate its go-to-market. SiSense develops business analytics, reporting and dashboard software that enables nontechnical staffers to combine, analyse and visualize data from multiple sources. The company, which added the ability to analyse data from mobile devices with the launch of SiSense 5 in February, is one of several next-gen analytics developers (including Tableau Software and QlikTech) looking to take a piece of the big data market away from established giants like SAP's Business Objects and IBM's Cognos. According to the company, which is based in Tel Aviv, Israel and opened a US sales HQ in New York, it is looking to recruit a channel management team and launch a full channel partner program complete with partner training, a formal pricing plan, and sales and marketing resources. Several ISVs are already designing SiSense products into their offerings.

VMware makes NSX software-defined networking tech available to the channel

VMware logo blk RGB 72dpiPalo Alto, CA-based VMware has added its NSX software-defined networking technology to its general price list, making it available for resale through the company’s channel partners. NSX was initially released last November, but VMware restricted sales to a specially trained internal sales team but the company is now looking for the channel’s help to compete with Cisco for marketshare. NSX can be sold with either perpetual or term licenses. List pricing for a perpetual license starts at $5,996 per CPU, while a term license starts at $34 per virtual machine per month. VMware also is offering volume discounts for the technology. So far, VMware has around 10 partners selling NSX through an early adopter program launched in February. Channel partners can expect VMware to launch a new channel program competency for NSX at VMworld in August, which will establish the requirements for partners that want to resell the technology. Cisco, which takes a hardware based approach to its SDN technology, has started actively bashing VMware and it’s software-based NSX – possibly prompting VMware’s move as the company needs the push NSX from early-adopter phase to general market availability in short order to keep up.

DLT Solutions releases new procurement tool for government customers

DLTlogoDLT Solutions, an integrator focussed on the federal government market, launched of DLT Cloud Navigator, a new cloud solution designed to help public sector client procure products and services. According to Rick Marcotte, president and CEO of DLT, "The goal is to help (federal government clients) develop a practical cloud strategy." The new offering is built on products and services from a number of DLT partners, including Oracle, Red Hat and Amazon, and folds in procurement support for various government procurement processes. Users will also have access to a new managed services offering, architectural support, and pay-as-you-go billing. Marcotte added that he expects government investments in cloud – which are slow now as IT spending is trending downwards across the fed – to grow significantly over the next five years as departments try to lower costs.

 

Nimble Storage releases new hybrid array, flash expansion shelf

Nimble-StorageSan Jose, Calif.-based Nimble Storagereleased a new enterprise model hybrid disk and its first-ever all-flash storage expansion shelves. The new CS700 hybrid array and flash shelves are part of the company’s Adaptive Flash management platform and are aimed at meeting end user needs for both storage capacity and performance in the data center. According to the company, most current offerings focus on one or the other, leaving a meaningful market opportunity. The CS700 hybrid array has the same form factor as the company’s CS200 and CS400 arrays and is configurable with 12 hard drives and four SSDs to provide more than 125,000 IOPS of performance in a single node. The new all-flash expansion shelves ship with up to 12.8 TB of SSD memory. When combined with the CS700's 3.2 TB of flash, each CS700 node delivers as much as 16 TB of flash storage. The solution is managed through the Nimble Storage Adaptive Flash management platform, which is built on the company's CASL file system and its InfoSight cloud-based management and support tool.

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Dell and Google Extend Collaboration with Video Presence Solution

Dell Logo amllDell Software today announced a new development in its existing collaboration with Google. Dell is working on the Dell Chromebox, a full-featured collaboration solution designed to provide an in-room experience to employees separated by geographical distances.

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Google’s Eric Schmidt Outraged at NSA

google logoEarlier this week, Corky Siemaszko, a writer for the New York Daily News, released an article on the latest in the privacy battle raging across the web. In this article, Siemaszko reported that Google’s Executive Chairman, Eric Schmidt has been in direct contact with members of Congress, as well as President Obama after reading reports from the infamous NSA leaker, Edward Snowden.

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HP, Google Collaboration Features Google Apps for Biz via “HP SMB IT in a Box”

HP today announced the first phase of HP SMB IT in a Box—a “one-stop shop” technology solution for SMBs.

Marked by HP’s entry into the Google Apps Reseller program today, HP SMB IT in a Box will leverage existing innovative HP hardware, including PCs and printers, with Google Apps for Business, Google’s cloud-based communication and collaboration tools. HP SMB IT in a Box can now simplify customers’ IT environment and help reduce their operating costs and infrastructure requirements while improving their workflows and workforce productivity.

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Why you need to Know about a New Term Known as “Workshifting”

About a week or so ago, I was so outraged by Yahoo CEO Marissa Meyer’s decision to ban telecommuting for the company’s employees, beginning June 1. Basically, Meyer decided that any employees who had an arrangement to work at home, or those who sporadically used their home offices, would be forced to commute into the company’s headquarters each day, or find employment elsewhere.

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