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.

D&H DISTRIBUTING TEACHES VARS TO EQUIP THE “CLASSROOM OF THE FUTURE” WITH BREAKTHROUGH VR/AR SOLUTIONS & SERVICES

— Cutting-Edge VR Systems, “Google Expeditions,” Plus D&H’s Trainings & White Glove Services Open Unique Opportunities for VARs to Profit While Enhancing STEM/STEAM Curricula —

HARRISBURG, PA – October 30, 2017 – D&H Distributing, a major provider of SMB and consumer technologies to the North American high-tech channel, is invigorating its linecard for the education vertical with virtual and augmented reality solutions that will usher-in “The Classroom of the Future.” dandhD&H is training its resellers via streaming webcast sessions and VAR engagement events, and through its K-12-dedicated “White Glove” services program which includes amenities such as laser-based product tagging, pre-assembly, configuration, and device management. Efforts include acclimating VARs to a “curriculum-based sales strategy,” which aligns with spring as opposed to the typical fall IT purchasing season, to accommodate the budgeting process for this marketplace. Such will give K-12 decision-makers the necessary lead time to allocate funds to these breathtakingly immersive solutions.

In addition to training, D&H is offering preconfigured “Virtual Reality Kits,” or customizable product bundles around the Google Expeditions platform, including VR headsets, routers, cases, tablets, smartphones, monitors, and more. The cutting-edge “Google Expeditions” app allows teachers to immerse students in lessons via stunning, 360-degree photographic environments utilizing a headset/smartphone/tablet combination. For example, students can virtually walk through a factory on the other side of the country, trek the surface of Mars, or immerse themselves in a dinosaur-inhabited, prehistoric landscape.

Other products include the HP’s Sprout Pro by G2, an interactive, all-in-one computer that incorporates extraordinarily detailed 3D scanning. Scans can be used with a 3D printer, allowing students to create, color, and manipulate items such as artwork, shop class projects, or engineering designs on-screen, then physically produce those items as dimensional, real-world prototypes.

“The implications of VR technology in the classroom is remarkable, introducing a new era of immersive, 3D teaching techniques that until now have been mostly seen in science fiction,” said Peter DiMarco, vice president of VAR sales at D&H Distributing. “We’re educating our VARs, not only with product knowledge, but also by helping them navigate the potentially complicated K-12 space. Armed with this information, pre-configured VR product bundles, and competitive pricing, our resellers can be among the first to introduce these virtual teaching techniques to classrooms, profiting from the emerging trend.”

D&H’s latest Solutions Lab webcast, “VAR Curriculum: Tech for the Future of Teaching,” outlines both the HP Sprout Pro G2 all-in-one and the Google Expeditions-compatible solutions, helping VARs to familiarize themselves with these offerings. It also covers D&H’s “White Glove Services” support program for K-12 VARs, which includes amenities such as laser-based product tagging, pre-assembly, configuration, and device management. The session is available for streaming on-demand at dandh.com/solutionslab.

In addition, D&H has developed a “K-12 Advisory Group” of resellers in the this vertical, who meet during D&H’s trade events to engage with D&H management and discuss trends and challenges in the field. The group’s feedback has helped to shape the direction of D&H’s K-12 offerings.

Promoting STEM/STEAM via Virtual Technology
Demand for items such as 3-D-capable computers, scanners and 3-D printers, plus 360-degree, VR/AR learning platforms is growing in K-12 settings, as educational institutions seek new ways to engage students via cutting-edge, technologically-enhanced environments. Such high-tech solutions have typically been applied toward STEM fields, e.g., science, technology, engineering, and math.

This initiative has expanded to include art and design, since educators are finding that students learn better and comprehend concrete concepts such as math and scientific principles more readily when artistic disciplines such as design and graphics are incorporated into that learning process. It has led to the evolving acronym “STEAM,” incorporating “Arts” into the formerly “left-brain” initiative.

A Wide VR/AR Ecosystem of Products
A plethora of products are being leveraged to support these virtual and augmented reality teaching techniques, including the following (some models forthcoming):

  • Chromebooks and Chrome management platforms
  • PCs from HP and ASUS
  • Virtual reality headsets and systems by Samsung, HTC, VIVE, Lenovo, Ematic, and Xtreme Technologies
  • Tablets and digital pens from Wacom and ASUS
  • Classroom-appropriate routers from TRENDnet
  • 3D printers from MakerBot, ROBO 3D, and XYZprinting
  • Drones and robotic toys from Mota, Zooppa, Xtreme Technologies, UBTECH, and Sphero
  • Build-your-own-computer coding kits for children from Piper
  • Accessories including trunk cases, mats, chargers and more from Pelican, Siig, and Startech.com.

On the software side, Google apps such as Daydream (which includes tools that manipulate objects within the virtual scene), the Tango 3D simulator, and the WorldSense tracking technology deliver similar virtual experiences. And the forthcoming Google Expeditions AR promises to project a 3D image into a live space such as a classroom, wherein students can walk around the projected image and view it from all sides with compatible hardware.

“We’re dedicated to helping resellers seize this opportunity, teaching them to communicate how these solutions fit into a district’s curriculum and enhance experiences through immersive technology,” DiMarco added. “Virtual reality makes this an exciting time to be a solution provider—in addition to a student or an educator.”

VARs can email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for information on D&H’s Virtual Reality Kits, or visit the distributor’s K-12 Opportunity page at dandh.com/K12. The VAR Curriculum Solutions Lab presentation is available for streaming on-demand at dandh.com/solutionslab.

About D&H Distributing
D&H Distributing believes the most important element of doing business is developing relationships for mutual success. The company continues to build upon its 99-year-old culture by providing its manufacturers, co-owners, and partners with the utmost customer care, consultative guidance, and multi-market expertise. As one of North America’s leading technology distributors, it delivers a wealth of enablement resources and hands-on support services that empower resellers in the IT channel.
The company engages with solution providers, integrators, and VARs to meet current business challenges, as well as forecast their evolving, real-world needs and prospects for lucrative growth opportunities. D&H maintains a special focus on independent VARs expanding their competencies in areas such as hosted and cloud services, the modern mobile workplace, comprehensive SMB server networks, and cross-market expertise across the small business, education, healthcare, and government verticals, to name a few. The company's value proposition includes professional marketing resources, a new transactional service model, dedicated Solutions Specialists, and a highly-lauded webcast training venue; plus reseller engagement events such as technology trade shows, roundtable opportunities, training “track” sessions, and hands-on "lab" sessions.
The distributor is headquartered in Harrisburg, PA, in the US and in Brampton, Ontario, in Canada. Additional warehouses are located in Atlanta, GA; Chicago, IL; Fresno, CA; and Vancouver, BC, Canada. Call D&H toll-free at (800) 340-1001, via www.dandh.com, or follow the distributor’s Facebook and Twitter feeds, https://www.facebook.com/DandHDistributing/ and @dandh.

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Check-in: Kaseya

I recently had a surprisingly transparent conversation with Fred Voccola, the CEO of Kaseya. He has gained his sea legs just crossing his second work anniversary. The tone and tenor of the interview was three-fold: Hello World, No IT and Office 365.

Hello World
Voccola reached out to reinvigorate the Kaseya conversation in the SMB Nation community. To be blunt, Kaseya hasn’t been top of mind for some time at SMB Nation. It was always perceived as an expensive tool for the big Fred Voccola Kaseyaguys. But Voccola had a different explanation. A couple of years ago, Kaseya was essentially acquired by a private equity group and had “lost its way” with the MSP community. Voccola promises it has returned with partner momentum. I’ll continue to monitor the situation.

No IT

I enjoyed a spirted conversation about the transformation MSPs are undergoing in a volatile business community. Loosely translated – everything is changing and very quickly. Voccola is committed to assisting MSPs with that transition to be, in my words, business advisors. I contributed to the conversation by highlighting how the IT spend is moving away from the server room (read CIO) and to other departments such as marketing (read analytics). It’s gonna be a rodeo ride and Kaseya wants to be right there with you, the SMB Nation MSP.

Office 365
I pressed hard on Kaseya’s commitment to Office 365. It acquired some dashboard technology but I had reason to believe it was put 365 Command on the shelf. Voccola insisted that recent actions such as moving internal operations to Las Vegas wasn’t a sign that the 365 Command team had been disbanded. Rather it continues to invest in this technology area.

BTW – the Kaseya Connect conference is May 9-11. I’ll miss it as I’m already committed to the Sage Summit in Atlanta. So many conferences, so little time!

UPDATED May 10, 2017 808AM Pacifc:

Hey Harry,

I am at Kaseya Connect and I read your piece on Fred Voccola. I know it was a short blurb, but one thing that underscores the “little guy” theme is that their PSA, called BMS is full featured and a lot less expensive than most other PSAs. It integrated, of course, with the Kaseya VSA, as well as Quotewerks, IT Glue and other vendors.

Yes, Kaseya had a bad two years (had to wait for their self-inflicted foot wound to heal up), but they are doing quite well and the ecosystem is back up and functioning due to a robust API in their products.

Randall C. Spangler, MCP, CSSA

Merit Solutions

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Show Us Your...

Show us your newsletter that you send to customers! Here is the official story:

Harry here. I need your help.

I'm researching how MSPs, consultants, IT Pros and good old fashioned 'puter guys communicate with customers (small business owners).

newsletter image


There are a couple reasons for my research. Too often we spend far too much time researching recurring revenue and how to get you to sell more stuff for vendors. I am on a mission to see if we can strengthen the organic relationship between a service provider (MSP, etc) and the SMB customer.

My ask is this.

Please both SEND me and SUBSCRIBE me to the customer facing newsletter you send to your customers. Kindly use the following email address as I anticipate the response to be a large sample size: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

I'll publish the results of my research and analysis. One offshoot I'd like to discover is, based on how you communicate with your real world end-user customers, can we craft a better level of community engagement for Small Business Saturday in late November 2017?

Thank you for helping me. Your participation makes us a better community - even 18-years later since our humble start in the early days of Small Business Server (SBS) in the late 1990s!

Enjoy the ride....harrybbb
Harry Brelsford
206-201-2944 (yep - that's my real phone number!)

UPDATED: I've receive a number of great responses, samples and sign-ups since I announced this matter last Friday, March 17, 2017 (THANK YOU). I'm amazed at the innovation by wiser MSP minds out there. For example - one franchise organization provides newsletters for its franchise holders. Another MSP only sends print newsletters. So far this has been really interesting research.

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The Evolving Distributor: How the Cloud Service Explosion Affects the Distribution Model

By Pete Engler

There is no denying the emerging prevalence of cloud services within the technology industry. No Peter Engler Digiumlonger are we solely relying on premises-based technologies to keep our day-to-day business activities going, but are, instead, deploying cloud technologies and accessing them from remote locations. While it seems that everyone is jumping on the new cloud services trend, it leaves many people wondering how it is affecting the traditional business channels, specifically its impact on distributors.

If we take a look at the full picture of the distribution landscape, we can see a change in the channel that began taking place even before the introduction of cloud technology. Distributors were originally simple warehouses that served as a means for getting the product from a vendor to a reseller, but, over time, this model has been changing. These so-called limited service distributors have become less prevalent and we have seen a shift towards value-added distribution as the new vogue model.

Value-added distributors are more than just large warehouses filled with products waiting to be shipped; they provide credit for resellers, carry a range of products for partners to add to their portfolios, and even offer training for those technologies. Distributors have become more of a trusted advisor for resellers than simply a quick stop in the channel, which is helping them to retain relevance in the dawning of the Cloud Age.

As a trusted advisor, distributors serve as a gateway between vendors and resellers. They are often the first to research and analyze new technologies and vendors to determine what they should offer to their reseller partners. Resellers depend on distributors’ findings to decide what solutions to add to their product portfolios. This relationship places an incredible amount of power into the hands of distributors because they have the ability to make or break a vendor and their solution. This is especially important right now because cloud technology is exploding. According to the Synergy Research Group, the worldwide cloud computing market grew 28 percent to $110 billion in 2015, and everyone is trying to get their slice of the profit pie. Cloud vendors are popping up everywhere and if resellers alone are trying to decide which vendors’ solutions are pursuable, the process may become overwhelming. Therefore, they place their trust in distributors to vet new cloud technologies and vendors to ensure they are offering clients the best solutions for their specific business needs.  

Additionally, cloud technology presents distributors with the opportunity to expand their role in the channel by offering aggregated cloud services. Oftentimes, deploying a cloud solution requires ongoing services from multiple vendors, and customers prefer to work with a reseller who can offer them a complete solution. According to research conducted by the Global Technology Distribution Council, resellers are reluctant to offer aggregated services independently due to the vast financial responsibility and the uncertainty of taking on a general contractor type role. However, distributors are in an excellent position to perform such duties with their close relationships to vendors and their financial business models, making them the ideal candidate for bundling services and selling them through the channel in one complete package.

While many people fear the emergence of cloud technologies will eventually dry up the distribution channel, research actually proves the opposite to be true. The path distributors have been following has led to their natural evolution into a more value-added role. And their ability to serve as a general contractor for cloud deployments has created for them a resiliency that will not only allow them to survive, but to flourish in the coming Cloud Age.


Pete Engler is the channel marketing manager at Digium, a business communications company based in Huntsville, Ala., that delivers enterprise-class Unified Communications.

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Announcing SMB Nation M&A Services!

Operating in stealth mode the past few months, we’re ready to come out of the closet. Yes – we are now offering advisory services to MSPs and resellers trying to adjust their business portfolios to start over in a Tim Carlsenthighly disrupted technology market. To date we’ve had four (4) beta clients as we discovered and refined our services offering. And we’re ready to assist you too!

Our offering is very simple. This year we are dedicated to telling the start-up and start over story in the IT community because, quite frankly, cloud changed everything. Just yesterday I once again found myself repeating in a conversation that Windows Small Business Server (SBS) is gone. So whatcha’ gonna do? Call Ghost Busters? Rather call our own Tim Carlsen at 206-890-0015 or email him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. who serves as our M&A specialist. He brings a career from the financial services sector and has worked in numerous start-ups. He’s a matchmaker bringing together buy-side and sell-side parties to consummate transactions. Whether it’s a merger of equals or a true acquisition between MSPs and resellers, Tim’s your man. We have a starter package for a relatively low fee with a back-end kicker when the deal closes.

Doing nothing is no longer an option. If you start your business model pivot now in 4Q, it’s likely you’ll go into 2017 looking forward to the future

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Start-up Secret: Mining LinkedIn

If you are starting up a new technology-based entrepreneurial endeavor, you need to heed the wisdom of many before you. It’s about who you know. I can attest to that my relationships have yield more return on investment that my intellectual capabilities. Ultimately I made more money as a “rainmaker” than a hard core geek (although you need both as a technical professional – don’t get me wrong).

One of the secrets to my success is applying analytics to my data. In this case, the secret I want to share concerns mining your

LinkedIn connections. Before I share the special link that will give you a bona fide business boost, please indulge in some context.

Be aggressive in making connections. Early in the life of LinkedIn, there was a strong cultural norm that you should not over connect with people you don’t really know. And to some extent, the LinkedIn connection procedure still forces you to demonstrate some type of alleged relationship with the recipient. But there are now one-day workshops and countless YouTube videos advising you on how to build your list of LinkedIn connections as fast and large as possible to engage in business development.

 

linkedin

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When you connect with someone, you can message them, endorse and recommend them. But did you know if you click on the little Contact Info icon below the individual’s picture, you can often see a telephone number and an email address. The email address is very interesting because it is usually a “back email” address such as Gmail or Hotmail. It’s often not their corporate email address. When people set-up their LinkedIn account, they frequently use a personal email address so that the authentication and identity credentials travel with the individual (e.g. if they change jobs) and not with the “company.” The little secret here is that you can email these people at a little-used back email address and get their undivided attention. Make sense?

If gets better. When you follow the connection download procedure below, you can easily aggregate all of your connections with email addresses on a single spreadsheet (CSV) format. In my case, that’s 3,297 connections I’ve legitimately built up over several years. When I have access to all of that connection information in one Microsoft Excel 2016 worksheet, the world if my oyster. I can slice, dice, sort and pivot this important data to make it rain dollars!

So you’ve waited long enough – here is the link.

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Back to School - Karl's Books!

With Fall arriving quickly, it’s time to sharpen the saw as a life learner. In the spirit of “back to school,” Karl Palachuk has just released a four (4) volume “Managed Services Operations Manual” audio book set.

This is important to know for several reasons, the least of which is many of you are trying to “start over” in the new-new world of cloud.

Firstly, many SMB Nation fans have Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) whether you want to admit it or not. How do I know this?

Because you are a high tech entrepreneur running your own MSP consulting reseller practice. And having ADHD is actually a success factor (even your secret weapon) despite what the Catholic nuns told you in grammar school. What I’ve personally found and studies now confirm is audio books are a way for ADHD afflicted people to “read books” and absorb the content. (Success secret: You can also have other documents read aloud in Windows 10 with the [Windows] [Enter] keystroke sequence to launch Narrator).

 

karl

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Buy Karl's Books! Keep your eyes open for a future webcast featuring Karl (Superman) and me (Batman) as we debate learning methods between ADHD and non-ADHD entrepreneurs. For example, I’m huge on using Slack and OneNote as a way to put everything back together again in my mind. Karl promotes the single screen experience and avoiding email pop-ups. We intend to host debate this before the end of 2016.

Second, I can honestly say, if I were starting-over, I’d start with Karl’s operations books. Why? Because for many years I resisted bing operationally oriented and then I finally hired Jenny Hallmark to run things. The point is that I learned to honor the importance of operations the hard way. And while I’m streetwise today about this matter, I’d be a better entrepreneur if I had the likes of Karl’s knowledge nuggets earlier in my career. This is something you can attend to right here, right now.

Third, Karl is a long-time friend of the SMB Nation family and has offered a 10 percent savings coupon for you. Here is how you enjoy the savings. Read the blog about what the Managed Services Operations Manual offering is and decide if this is right for you. Then when you purchase, enter the code smbnation2016 for the additional 15 percent savings.

Think of it this way. The entire Karl bundle is cheaper than one (1) undergraduate textbook in Aerospace Engineering. Trust me.

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Should MSPs Unionize?

Earlier this month, the Seattle Times ran a thoughtful article about a long journey for Microsoft contractors to unionize. The short story is these “perma-temps” where seeking benefits and stability afforded permanent Microsoft employees. Please read here before proceeding further so you have the proper context about what I plan to say.

Many words have been written over the past two years about the changing nature of the relationship between partners and vendors. My own take is that partners pride themselves as technology and business advisors providing value as consultants to clients. That’s what gets us up in the morning. No doubt about it.

But in a quantitative-based “Marketing 2.0” world of measurable metrics, the SMB vendors have become not nice people, viewing us as “resellers” who have no other passion than to sell licenses. Their Jim Crow language about “partnering” and their degrading actions are repulsive and highly offensive to our culture. And they don’t care. It’s all about the monthly pipeline report. Unknowingly they are increasingly biting the hand that feeds them.
This sets up the dynamic for considering some type of organization. When relationships are out of balance, there will be a reaction. Just ask the US Republican party in this Fall’s elections. Given over 80% of the SMB Nation tribe self-identifies themselves as MSPs, I’d offer this is a segment you shouldn’t ignore.

percentage MSPs

Years ago, under the late Jim Locke, the fledging SMB Technology Network (SMBTN) messaged aspects of organizing as a collective to bargain both against and fairly with the vendors. It was one of its pillars if not mission statement. While its intentions were noble, it didn’t execute broadly to truly organize MSPs to cut better deals with vendors and receive better treatment.


So in the spirit of late August crowd sourcing, use the comment section to tell me what you think. Should MSPs lead a revolution?

PS - this topic is just in time for Labor day next week LOL!

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Dan the Man: What Cloud Partner Program is Best?!

Long-time SMB Nation member Daniel Williams (Xpedeus) from Tampa, FL asked a very relevant question this past week. I wanted to crowd source the answer.

Dan asked: What MS “certs” or MS programs can our Xpedeus consultants gain for becoming “MS Cloud” consultants and transitioning Xpedeus to become an MS Cloud consultancy? In the old SBS days it was easy, just become Small Business Specialist. What is the equivalent in the cloud? It seems MS has so many programs for becoming a “cloud guy” I am not sure which applies best to Xpedeus customer base of 5-250 knowledge-worker companies.

danwilliams


Harry here. I’d offer the short answer is that Dan jump into the Microsoft Cloud Services Provider (CSP) program with both feet. There are a few resources for Dan to learn more. One is Microsoft itself. https://partner.microsoft.com/en-us/cloud-solution-provider The other concerns third-party Office 365 ecosystem partners such as AppRiver, long-time supporter of SMB Nation. https://www.appriver.com/partners/resell-office-365

But most importantly, I want to hear from YOU the reader in answering Dan’s important question. Please leave a comment on this blog which I’ll approve and also use in a follow-up contribution next week. Thanks in advance.

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LinkedIn's Competitive Threat to MSPs

You knew it was coming. It arrived in my Inbox as a forwarded email from SMB Nation community member David Gerhart from Bend, OR. David is an IT consultant and he received a “lead” from LinkedIn’s new ProFinder service (which I consdier a start-up).

LinkedIn has always had the underutilized asset of millions of details on millions of people. It’s discovering ways that it can now offer a plethora of new professional services including training (see my blog how LinkedIn’s Lynda competes with Microsoft Learning Partners here) And rest assured I’ve kept an eagle-eye on LinkedIn for years including having attended its world launch Cocktail Mixer Party in Seattle in November 2014.

LinkedIn ProFinder challenges MSPs in a couple of fronts. First – there are spot buyers of IT services in the SMB space who don’t want or understand the value of a long-term contract. Second - there are existing MSPs customers who will re-evaluate their needs as they understand what LinkedIn ProFinder is. They might possibly bump into it in a different realm, perhaps trying to out Angie on Angie’s List for some minor repairs.

linkedin

And this is a threat to labor markets like OnForce as LinkedIn, using Big Data, just has deeper analytics and richer resources to draw on. It’s also neutralized an overthought idea that “I should monetize my huge LinkedIn group into a labor market and connect group members with customers needing services.” I’ve heard that idea several times from entrepreneurs who believed that they had invented this idea of labor markets (remember the “Windows 7 was my idea” TV commercials?). As a side note, we performed a few “stress tests” against several LinkedIn groups over the last year to test the “strength” of the list membership and we were roundly disappointed. First - LinkedIn changed the look/feel and even modified the algorithms of the groups, causing interest levels to fade quickly. Second – LinkedIn groups like “Microsoft Office 365” (with 85,623 members) don’t convert to actions such as signing up for a webinar. It all looks good on paper but the data doesn’t lie. Enter LinkedIn ProFinder with its natural competitive advantage.

Here is how LinkedIn ProFinder works for the customer:
1. Tell us what you need.
2. Get free proposals from up to five professionals eager to help.
3. Hire with confidence. You select the right pro but if you need help, there is a ProFinder concierge team that helps the customer with every step. This is perhaps the most disturbing feature. LinkedIn is devoting real-time resources in the bid-sell process. That’s something of an antithesis maneuver that online labor markets can’t match and ultimately affect MSPs.

There are over 13 service categories ranging from Accounting to IT Services to Real Estate.
Turning the argument around, there is an opportunity to sign-up as a service provider for LinkedIn ProFinder. I liken it to gap filler work akin to being a part-time Uber driver. The sign-up process results in the following motions:
1. Get leads in your Inbox.
2. Respond on your terms.
3. Get hired.

When I signed up, the services radio button only allowed me to select one service category, so I selected IT Services. Then a selection box menu allowed me to make several selections including IT Consulting and Computer Networking. Next I had to put in my phone number. At this point, a must read is the LinkedIn ProFinder – Terms and Conditions, which amongst other things limits its liability (not surprisingly).

Back to David Gerhart. The lead information I received is the basis for my blog today but the shoe didn’t fit for me. It was for an engagement in Portland, OR.
In a forthcoming blog, I’ll detail how Amazon will ultimately be a competitor to MSPs using its Big Data analytics. Standby.

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MSP Strategy Suggestion!


We are delighted by the strong reception we’ve enjoyed introducing the merger and acquisition conversation into the SMB Nation audience this past couple of months. Seems like the stars are aligned with key demographics represented in our recent 2016 Salary Survey. You are a mature audience and very quickly life is happening before your very eyes. So your needs are changing from Geek to Grandparent (okay – that’s a bit of a stretch but there is truth to humor). You proudly are approaching 20-years in the IT profession.


And you are consciously re-evaluating your life and business strategy. 

aug2016picnicsmall

At our 16th annual SMB Nation picnic this past week, M&A was a conversation amongst the MSPs!

This past week, our MSP M&A "Sell-side" (Part 2) webinar offered the following nuggets:

• Discover how to value your business
• Preparing for due diligence
• Creating the big notebook
• Approaching potential buyers
• Retaining experts (and avoiding business brokers)
• Managing expectation about the negotiating phase
• Separating heart from mind
• And much more…


Note you can watch the webinar replay here and scroll down to the Replay Webinar link for MSP M&A "Sell-side" (Part 2). More importantly, you can sign-up for this week’s “Free Consulting Hour: MSP M&A” where we will answer your specific questions here. No slide deck. No presentation. You’ll love it.

So exactly who are “we” and what are we doing? Tim Carlsen has hopped on board at SMB Nation to assist with us helping you in the M&A area. Tim’s investment and VC background is detailed here.

Tim Carlsent

Between our respective skills, we now offer an M&A advisory service to MSPs in the SMB community. We’re already assisting four clients and can only accommodate five more in 2016. Reach out to Tim at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for more details.

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Harrybbb featured in New Book

It’s become fashionable for authors to crowdsource their books and I’m proud to have contributed to the newly released “Tips to Protect Your Business from Cybercrime” effort by Anita Campbell, the CEO of Small Business Trends.

First – you can download the eBook complimentary from this site andyou’ll find my dark-side contribution on page 31 where I speak about the lurking dangers of social engineering, which is both a security and technical topic. Catch my references to the central figure, Frank Abagnale, Jr. best known for his life story in the movie “Catch Me If You Can!” I saw Frank speak in the early 1990s in Seattle before he became famous and he’s not without controversy. Here is a former con artist profiting off his prior misdeeds. But it is a very important topic nonetheless.

Second – I consider this book a -Start Over- topic at SMB Nation. As we continue our 2016 editorial themes of either start-up or starting over, I see this book as your -cookbook- to reinvent yourself as a technology security sleuth. Its ben said a good consultant doesn’t know everything about an area, she just knows where to get the information. This book fills that void many of us have in security as we pivot to profitability as partners.

hb security tip book

Third – crowdsourced books such as this are a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it is a cheap trick for authors to outsource the heavy lifting and for contributors to get a low friction love tap. I have even seen such books where they print a unique cover for each contributor implying that each contributor wrote the entire book. This is really peeved Vlad Masek at Own Web Now in his Vladville blog where he really goes after self-published MSPs. However, crowdsourced books have an upside. In the case of Campbell’s effort herein, it provides diversity and richer content. More importantly, she has engaged many people I’ve never heard of so I feel like she has broken way beyond the “same old, same old” SMB partner crowd.

Download here.

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Start-up: International Coworking Day!

SMB NATION ADMIN


This past week on Tuesday, it was International Coworking Day. This was a worldwide celebration for the coworking movement where entrepreneurs, artists and others “rent” a desk or office inside a cooperative workspace. I attended the BBQ at OfficeXpats
a coworking space on Bainbridge Island. It ended up being a diet cheat day as I ate two cheeseburgers, had chips, deserts and a beverage (sorry!). Hat’s off to OfficeXpats owners Leslie Schneider and Jason Omens (pictured) for engaging the community with a party.

I have tracked this “culture” for several years and have observations. And while this blog is about start-ups, I have an Office 365 hook below.

internationalcoworkingday

 

Culture. In general, there are three types of coworkers/members based on my research.

Start-ups. First and foremost are the start-ups seeking a physical beachhead in the world of business. These are typically capital-starved entrepreneurs who benefit from the flexible leases ranging from a desk to cubicle to small office. Their tenancy is typically short-term as they either make it or not. If not, they move along down the road. If they make it, the entrepreneurs will often move into permanent larger space. When I’ve walked into different coworking spaces, I’m always surprised at the tenant turnover. For example, at The Hub in downtown Seattle, I spoke with some young entrepreneurs who were trying to create “Uber Movers” where you’d hire a mover for just a few hours, not the full daylong commitment. Fast forward and the “Uber Movers” were gone next visit.

Not for profit. My sister Ginna Brelsford runs a not-for-profit called Sahar and is a tenant in The Hub. She fits the profile of many coworkers seeking a place to work, have interns sit at those long millennial tables, etc. Sahar currently serves 15,000 girls annually in 12 schools in Balkh Province, Northern Afghanistan. They provide access to education for girls through computer centers, innovative and sustainable building designs, training female teachers and piloting a program to prevent early marriage. It dedicated a new school for 3,500 girls in 2011 and are managing the collaborative partnership between philanthropy, architecture and international development. The reason I share this is that donors often require the not-for-profit entity be run from a real office, not a dining room table.

Social Cliques. Defined as “a small group of people, with shared interests or other features in common, who spend time together and do not readily allow others to join them….” I’d say this element is present and accounted for in the coworker movement. There are storytellers, writers, artists, poets, retired execs and even PR people who are really into this movement stuff. I get that but I’m personally not that into it. It’s akin to the hard core “channel clique” in the SMB channel amongst a handful of vendors and compliant partners in our world. Think of it this way. By analogy, there are coworking tenants who are really seeking the B&B experience about getting to really know you versus the anonymity of a hotel room while traveling. Does that make sense?

Conservative/Secular

In 2009, I wrote an article in our SMB PC magazine on Regus, the worldwide executive suite provider, shaking up the need for new office buildings and being an almost counter-cyclical play in the Great Recession. It has a day lounge that I compared to an airline lounge (in fact Regus briefly got into the airline lounge business at one point). To this day, I’m a gold member. That means I can use the business lounge at any of 3,000 locations worldwide (I’ve done so in Istanbul Turkey, Sydney Australia, London GB and countless US locations including the handful of Seattle-sites). I’ve viewed the business lounges as getting me away from the sticky customer tables at Starbucks to get some real work done. Wouldn’t leave home without my Regus gold card.

My friend and colleague Dave Waldrop rented a couple offices inside the Redmond Regus when he directed the start-up attachedapps (see my blog on attachedapps being acquired). Dave needed a more traditional arrangement (read more conservative) as he was raising capital from investors for this venture. I get that. My experience has been that Regus is not an “untraditional” coworking movement space (several coworking organizations advertise against Regus offering a hipper and cooler alternative; Level office ad: “Hipper Office, Lower Cost - Better-Looking Designs & Amenities‎”).

Office 365

Now the geek stuff. Back in the Small Business Server (SBS) days, I implemented more than one solution for offices that had sub-tenants and the use of the SBS resources was a benefit that could be shared. I remember touring some early executive suites (including one launched by former Microsoft exec Tony Audino) where IT local area network resources where shared (and billed for). Today that’s all changed. With my Office 365 account and laptop in hand, I work wherever I am. So when I visit a Regus Business lounge, I take advantage of the high-speed WiFi connection and rock on. Worked in Istanbul Turkey (the Regus was in a “Trump Tower”) because my fleabag hotel had no internet connectivity. I literally camped out at Regus for a week!

Next year, mark your calendar for August 9th to participate in International Coworking Day and learn more about this community. The shoe might just fit.

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3Q2016 MSP Report

Thu, Aug 4, 2016 12:00 PM - 1:00 PM PDT

Join Harry Brelsford and Karl Palachuk for this content-rich 60-minute analyst webinar focused on the mid-year “State of the Union” for MSPs, partners, consultants and resellers. Discover what business approaches were trending in the first six months. What numerous surveys are tracking and how you can leverage the finding to make more money. A focus on what industry vendors are doing and how partner programs are changing dramatically in 2016. And of course the normal gossip of who’s in and who’s out. Looking forward, Harry and Karl issue predictions for the second six months of 2016 and offer up a set of best practices. Ample time for audience Q&A.

 

349 X 115 MOD REG RND2

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Microsoft Angst

Microsoft Angst

Some weeks it feels like it’s always something. With the end of the Microsoft fiscal year upon us, there are, at least for SMB Nation, renewal deadlines upon us. For example we have to renew our Office 365 E3 partner plan as part of the Action Pack membership level. Understood.


But what I didn’t understand was how my pivot from Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online to the hosted version would trigger a one-month payment penalty. Let me explain.

During the life of SMB Nation, we’ve gone from Microsoft Dynamics CRM 1.2 to NetSuite to Salesforce and back to Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online (v7.x) and now to Microsoft Dynamics CRM on-premises hosted. Why? In the first couple of conversions, life happened. But the most recent Microsoft Dynamics CRM pivot from online to hosted on-prem was driven by a few factors.

Hidden costs. There is a dirty little secret to Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online: storage costs. After you exceed 5GB of storage (not hard with email tracking), you have to buy additional 1GB increments at $10/month (or $120 per year). Not only does it add up but it’s typically of CRM and ERP vendors (as you can ascertain, we know ‘em all above) cost creep. And it pisses me off. The pivot to on-prem instance gives me 25GB storage right from the start. Thank you!

Partner-2-Partner power. For whatever reason, I just wasn’t falling in love with “Her,” the Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online edition. As a point of reference, if you missed the subtle joke, I’m trying to create an analogy to the popular 2013 movie “Her”  starring Joaquin Phoenix, Amy Adams, Scarlett Johansson and directed by Spike Jonze. So we hired one of our own, well-known Microsoft partner Grant Thompson (MG Technology Group). Essentially I’d rather give my money to a SMB Nation member and friend of the family then Redmond to host my CRM. I’m not necessarily saving money but I receive a hellva lot of value adds from having a real partner attached to my Microsoft Dynamics CRM instance. For example, Grant (who has a heart of gold) implicitly provides free wisdom as a natural trainer. He is working with Jenny at SMB Nation to create an event registration form that flows right into our CMR instance instead of us using a commercial event management program at $5 per registration and creating a split database.

Many readers will recognize Grant as he is our long-time expert trainer on the Office 365 roadshow. As an aside, there is a chance for YOU to talk to Grant about what you’d like to see in the next nine (9) workshop cities here.  

So why am I angry at Microsoft? 
For the first part of this tale, I’ll take ownership. We migrated around Memorial Day weekend in late May 2016 and ran both CRMs in parallel for a few weeks (just in case we had to rollback). Apparently, with the end of the Microsoft fiscal year and some renewal deadlines that impact SMB Nation, our Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online service “automatically renewed” on June 23, 2016. My bad as I wasn’t attentive to the fact we had auto-renew turned on. I discovered this on the June 25th and promptly terminated my service. I was greeted with a one-month service charge as a termination fee as seen in the pic (actually the pic shows the same condition for my termination of the Office 365 E1 SKU, but it’s the same point). Really? Seriously Microsoft? Shame on you! I felt I’d been oracled in my orifice by MSFT when this Article 50-like clause was invoked on my Brexit from Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online.

o365cancellation

When I’m back in the saddle early this week, I intend to look into this with Microsoft starting with some internal connections. I want my termination fee back!

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Survey - What's your Brexit?

Survey - What's your Brexit?

I’m not going to define the EU or the UK “Brexit” as this trending topic is handled much better in other forums such as Real Clear Politics. Rather I want to use the Brexit concept as a teaching moment for our SMB Nation community.

Personal Story
As you know, so goes SMB tech, so goes SMB Nation. I underestimated the impact of the Windows Small Business Server end-of-life (EOL) announcement at this exact time three years ago (actually early July 2013). While we were already pivoting to other business models such as Office 365 Nation, the MSP exodus from the Microsoft Partner SBS community was stunning. It was nothing short of a niche collapse.

So my “BrelsfordExit” (get it) has been to look at other tech opportunities above and beyond Microsoft’s solutions including Big Data, Predictive Analytics and online sales tax calculation solutions. Tongue-in-cheek, I mocked the “Brexit” story earlier this week as I’ve traveled home to Alaska for a long weekend (that be my summer vacation) and recounted how Alaska was in fact its own sovereign territory at one point. Given the fierce independent mentality up here, it would NOT be hard to start a right-of-center secessionist movement. 

Your Story
Now let’s get serious. You are confronted with a plethora of transitional opportunities in the SMB tech space. For working in tech, you are surprisingly conservative and resist change. That’s likely the stubborn small business owner in you. But change has indeed arrived and on-prem servers aren’t what they used to be. So I’m interested in what’s your Brexit from SBS going to be? Has your Brexit already occurred?

Please complete our Brexit “Reinvention” Survey! If you could be so kind to answer just a few questions on this topic, we can better serve you sooner rather than later. Take the survey here

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Start-Up Pitch-Off Event Review

Start-Up Pitch-Off Event Review

I never met a press pass I didn’t like. Such an award is a glitterati pass not open to all. I’ve done the US Open (last year at this time at Chambers Bay in the Seattle-area), an IoT conference, countless Microsoft Worldwide partner conferences (WCP) and many other events. So I jumped at opportunity to attend the TechCrunch (TC) Seattle Meetup and Pitch-Off this past week. I wasn’t disappointed and I will repeat. I was impressed that TC could attract over 300+ attendees to this event (that’s hard – let me tell ya). Further I was impressed how extroverted everyone was. Folks walking up and striking up a start-up chat. For just an evening, Seattle lost its shy Scandinavian culture.


Let’s get specific. One intrepid entrepreneur, Bill Herling, introduced himself to the SMB Nation team at the event (myself and Tim Carlson). He is the founder and CEO of Dial which is a new video storytelling platform and a way to create and share interactive advertisements. Turns out Herling lives near our Bainbridge Island location and we intend to get together soon to discuss good business. First conversations will be about raising capital for his endeavor. In the pic, Herling is center and Tim Carlsen is left. What I liked about Herling’s moxie is that he attended as an “attendee” and was not one of the selected pitch-off start-ups who made a 60-sec “pitch” before the entire audience. Rather Herling engaged in “Hallway 101” working it ‘til it hurt. My kinda guy!


Finally, a comment on the format. After an arrivals period, the pitch-off competition commenced. Then the winners were announced. For the record – here are the start-ups that played in the pitch-off reindeer game:

The TC Meetup and Pitch-Off is a traveling roadshow. For example, it recently visited Austin as well. Next up is Tel Aviv and Berlin. 

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Happy Father's Day!

Happy Father's Day!

The headline says it all, Or does it? 

With Facebook accolades flowing today, June 19th, praising Fathers, it is a moment to reflect. The SMB Nation demographic is over 90% male and anecdotal evidence clearly suggests the majority are indeed fathers. We don’t survey on the later and we stopped surveying on the former years ago as it became an obvious statistic. 

A couple thoughts. Celebrate what you’ve been able to do, setting an example as an MSP, consultant, resellers and partner. Your kids are watching and its rewarding to see them move forward with your “table talk” in working in, running and in most cases, owning a small business. 

And a moment of applause for a SMB Nation family member. My niece Dr. Christa Brelsford has just given birth to her second son making husband Ethan a father twice over. Many readers will recall my nice niece as a well-known Haiti eaarthquake survivor (watch the NBC Today Show here) and the gold medalist in rock climbing (bouldering) at the World Championships in Spain, 2014. I can honestly say that Christa’s the classic case of starting over after adversity. Makes the demise of Small Business Server in 2013 look manageable, eh?

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1h2016 Roadshow Wrap-up; 2h2016 Coming Soon!

1h2016 Roadshow Wrap-up; 2h2016 Coming Soon!

Whew! That was a long haul. We’ve just completed nine (9) cities in the first six months of 2016 for our Office 365/Windows 10 roadshow across the US. Jenny and Grant did the heavy lifting (THANK YOU!) and the technical content was universally adored. We’d offer that, in the immediate SMB partner community, we are the MOST TECHNICAL workshops in market!

By-the-numbers
We hosted more one-day workshops in 1h2016 than our two nearest friendly SMB communities combined (ASCII = 4, ChannelPro = 2). Add competitor SMB TechFest (2) and we still win the workshop delegate math LOL! A look back at where we’ve been this first part of the year is: Redmond, New York, Atlanta, Chicago, Washington DC, Charlotte, LA, SF, Phoenix). Our approval rating consistently exceeds 90% (“awesome” shout out to Grant who is rarely stumped; “Jenny is the best”). Our content morphed over the six months to add Office 365 Security and Azure while diminishing Windows 10 (yes – we listen to your feedback). And our sponsors consistently commented that we are attracting a new crowd, not just the same old tired old guys. I’d also offer its not the same old “High School clique” where all too familiar friends can finish each other’s sentences. We cultivate new faces from new walks of life where new friendship bonds are being forged. Everyone loves a first date!

Your Input Needed
So onward and upward for another nine (9) cities in 2h2016. We want your input on where to go and what content to deliver. Please complete the survey here.

Finally - attending our workshops is a fantastic wayt to start over and reinvent yourself! 

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What happened to SMB Nation?

What happened to SMB Nation?

Recently a friend of SMB Nation asked what’s going on at SMB Nation? The question created an opportunity to reflect on what we’ve accomplished this past few years. And it offered insights that we need to be louder in trumpeting our accomplishments (forgive the pun). 

  • Workshops. We host a workshop every two (2) weeks on average annually. That’s a lot of motion to roll-out approximately 26 events in 12-months. It keeps us busy. Our events average 100-attendees. The topics, typically presented by Grant Thompson are technical first, moneymakers second. Our customers have a high bar about learning something they don’t know (and how can I make money from it). I’ve yet to see Grant stumped so I think we’ve reached that goal. In the second part of the year, you can look for a “Tour de Cloud” workshop tour highlighting Azure and security topics. Anyone up for analytics? Lemme know.
  • Webinars. We host 30+ webinars per year. Backing out holiday weeks and fishing season, it’s a once-a-week cadence. We work closely with our community sponsors to provide insightful content and not just speeds and feeds. It’s a tough conversation to have but we’ll keep pushing for your best interests.
  • Content. I personally write 100+ blogs per year. It’s harder than it looks. Try it sometime.
    Newsletter. We publish 48-editions of the newsletter every year. ‘Nough said.

Here is a Throw Back Thursday (TBT) pic of me in high school. I’m with Charles Wohlforth and we were entrepreneurs. We would both go by Dean Whitter (stock brokerage) and invest in options before school. I imported digital watches into Alaska. Charles had other business endeavors including writing articles.

Culture

The times are changing and so are we. We honor the geeks in our workshop and webinars. But increasingly in our digital avenues we are telling a different story about either starting up (something new) or starting over (reinventing yourself). It’s one of those times in our industry. A recent article in the New York Times had the former AT&T chairman commenting that his landline business disappeared in three years – PUFF! Few would deny time are changing. Some critics have commented that SMB Nation has lost its way. We’d prefer to say we’re headed in a new direction. Change is necessarily disturbing. But we take comfort in these comments this week from Jeff Bezos at the Code conference.
"As a public figure, the best defense to speech you don’t like is to develop a thick skin. You can’t stop it. If you’re doing anything interesting in the world, you’re going to have critics. If you can’t tolerate critics, don’t do anything new or interesting."
- Jeff Bezos

So here’s hoping you’ll pivot with us and lead the parade. See you on the other side!

PS - Here is a partial list of the workshops we delivered over the past few years. I'm not listing closed events (where we acted as a event manager) or our annual Geek Picnic, etc. :) 

2016 Office 365 and Windows 10 Roadshow for MSPs/CSPs/Resellers (1H2016:http://2016roadshow.smbnation.com/cities/)

  1. Redmond
  2. NY
  3. Atlanta
  4. Chicago
  5. Washington DC
  6. Charlotte
  7. LA
  8. SF
  9. Phoenix
  10. PLUS Additional Nine (9) Cities in 2h2016!

Office 365 Resellers/MSP Tour 2015: http://o365tour.smbnation.com/cities/

  1. Bellevue
  2. Silicon Valley
  3. LA
  4. NY
  5. Chicago
  6. Dallas
  7. Washington DC
  8. Charlotte

2015 Windows 10 launch events for resellers/MSPs  (5 events):

  1. New York City, New York – June 2nd 2015
  2. Los Angeles, California – June 9th 2015
  3. Redmond, Washington – June 16th 2015
  4. Fort Lauderdale, Florida – June 23rd 2015
  5. Austin TX – June 25th 2015

2014 Worldwide Modern Tour  (24-cities in 23-countries: http://moderntour.smbnation.com/cities/ )

  1. Auckland, New Zealand 3/27/2014
  1. Bangalore, India 6/10/2014
  2. Cape Town, South Africa 5/22/2014
  3. Dubai, United Arab Emirates 5/8/2014
  4. Dublin, Ireland 4/23/2014
  5. Hong Kong, China 3/21/2014
  6. Istanbul, Turkey 5/13/2014
  7. Johannesburg, South Africa 5/20/2014
  8. Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia 3/17/2014
  9. Madrid, Spain 5/6/2014
  10. Manila, Philippines 3/19/2014
  11. Mexico City, Mexico 4/1/2014
  12. Milan, Italy 6/13/2014
  13. Mississauga, ON, Canada 6/4/2014
  14. Montréal, QC, Canada 6/6/2014
  15. Moscow, Russia 5/22/2014
  16. Prague, Czech Republic 5/21/2014
  17. Reading, United Kingdom 4/1/2014
  18. Sao Paulo, Brazil 3/20/2014
  19. Singapore, Singapore 3/14/2014
  20. Stockholm, Sweden 5/27/2014
  21. Sydney, Australia 3/25/2014
  22. Taipei, Taiwan 4/29/2014
  23. Warsaw, Poland 6/4/2014

2013 Windows XP EOL “Million Mile" Tour (44-workshops in 22 cities)

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Start-up Nuggets

Start-up Nuggets

With a holiday weekend here in the US, I find that there is a unique opportunity for our readers to slow down and reflect. So I wanted to share a couple of interesting start-up nuggets I bumped into this past week.

Long-time SMB Nation citizen Chip Reaves is always up to something! This Tuesday (May 31) at 3pm Eastern, he’s showing off his new look at this popular Bigger Brains site. Chip shared “A few weeks ago we announced we were rolling out Bigger Brains v3 to our MSP / IT Service Pro resellers. The update is mostly in place now (there are a couple of small issues the team is still fixing), and next week we'll host a webinar to show off the new features AND how you can use Bigger Brains to boost your MSP/CSP/IT Service Pro business.”

Sign-up here

Another nugget concerns StorageCraft. Earlier this week it announced a summer kick-off special. It has reduced prices on its premium backup and disaster recovery software between now and June 30th. StorageCraft is an early and long-time supporter of SMB Nation going back to the early days when StorageCraft itself was a start-up. Learn more here: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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Support SMB Nation!

Support SMB Nation!

It’s our annual giving campaign and we want to take a moment to thank you for your support. Supporting SMB Nation over the past 15+ years has allowed us to act as your independent ombudsman in the small and medium-business technology arena. We’re all in this together!

Please support us as you are able. Your generous support helps us to tackle the tough stories with bona fide authenticity. If you value our voice, click on the donate button below. A suggested amount is $25.

donate

Need an example of the no-cost advocacy that your support allows? Look at our free-of-charge workshops over the past three years! We produce more events than any other SMB community. And our commitmnt to real pure knowlege-based academic content is very strong, as you know. 

  • 2016 Office 365 and Windows 10 Roadshow for MSPs/CSPs/Resellers (1H2016: http://2016roadshow.smbnation.com/cities/)

    1. Redmond
    2. NY
    3. Atlanta
    4. Chicago
    5. Washington DC
    6. Charlotte
    7. LA
    8. SF
    9. Phoenix
    10. PLUS Additional Nine (9) Cities in 2h2016!
  • 2015 Windows 10 launch events for resellers/MSPs  (5 events):

    1. New York City, New York – June 2nd 2015
    2. Los Angeles, California – June 9th 2015
    3. Redmond, Washington – June 16th 2015
    4. Fort Lauderdale, Florida – June 23rd 2015
    5. Austin TX – June 25th 2015

  • 2014 Worldwide Modern Tour  (24-cities in 23-countries: http://moderntour.smbnation.com/cities/ )

    1. Auckland, New Zealand 3/27/2014
    1. Bangalore, India 6/10/2014
    2. Cape Town, South Africa 5/22/2014
    3. Dubai, United Arab Emirates 5/8/2014
    4. Dublin, Ireland 4/23/2014
    5. Hong Kong, China 3/21/2014
    6. Istanbul, Turkey 5/13/2014
    7. Johannesburg, South Africa 5/20/2014
    8. Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia 3/17/2014
    9. Madrid, Spain 5/6/2014
    10. Manila, Philippines 3/19/2014
    11. Mexico City, Mexico 4/1/2014
    12. Milan, Italy 6/13/2014
    13. Mississauga, ON, Canada 6/4/2014
    14. Montréal, QC, Canada 6/6/2014
    15. Moscow, Russia 5/22/2014
    16. Prague, Czech Republic 5/21/2014
    17. Reading, United Kingdom 4/1/2014
    18. Sao Paulo, Brazil 3/20/2014
    19. Singapore, Singapore 3/14/2014
    20. Stockholm, Sweden 5/27/2014
    21. Sydney, Australia 3/25/2014
    22. Taipei, Taiwan 4/29/2014
    23. Warsaw, Poland 6/4/2014

  • 2013 Windows XP EOL “Million Mile" Tour (44-workshops in 22 cities)

Thank you for supporting the SMB Nation family in 2016! And thank you for your trust! 

 

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Did You Know: National Small Business Week

Did You Know: National Small Business Week

This past week was a nationwide celebration called Cinco de Mayo. It was also National Small Business Week supported by the Small Business Administration (SBA). It’s an annual opportunity to reflect back on our roots as small business owners ourselves. And we’re serving small businesses as MSPs. I liken it to maturity matching in finance. Small businesses serving small businesses. That math works for a few reasons that I want to share with you as part of my reflections on National Small Business Week.

When I see enterprises salivate at the small business opportunity, I often see these enterprises misfire when executing on sales and services. Why? Because enterprises don’t speak the language of small business. They don’t “get it” from a cultural perspective. Two simple examples make my point. First, there is the tendency for enterprise folks to engage in display fighting where they have to be the smartest person in the room during a meeting. That tends to lead to this. The small business customer asks what time it is. The enterprise salesperson overwhelms them with a lecture on how to build a watch. Another example concerns overreaching. Enterprises inherently engage in a strategy of incrementalism. If you can sell your widget for $1.05, try to stick it to them (the customer) and get $1.06 LOL. What I’ve seen with the small business culture is a sense of Kankei no baransu. It means to keep your relationships in balance. The idea is that we’re all in the together, live in the same community and understand these are long-term relationships. Enterprises can take there NSA mentality back to the big leagues where it belongs.

Back to National Small Business Week. Microsoft itself was a “sponsor” of several outreach touches including a small business contest, a gaggle of Washington DC events and Melanie Gass was in the thick of it all. Readers will recall Melanie was one of our speakers on the Office 365 roadshow in 2015.

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Start-Over: Beat the Back Office Blues

Start-Over: Beat the Back Office Blues

As part of our ongoing dialog about reinventing yourself, I present for your scrutiny the concept of making the last mile of your operations more efficient. So much emphasize is now placed on pre-acquisition lead generation that we’ve lost sight of improving the bottom line by improving your back office. It’s understandable. We ask a lot of MSPs to be skilled in three areas: finder, minder and grinder.

You’ll recall from my classic SMB Consulting Best Practices (2003) that finder is “get the business.” Minder is “manage the business.” And grinder is “do the work.” The idea is to pick two out of three. You can’t do three out of three as these are radically different skills. More often than not, I see MSPs fancy themselves finders and grinders. Way down the list is minder. But fear not. 

There are means and methods to improve the minder role in your MSP practice. You can consider Accounting.com to outsource your overall accounting function. But you probably don’t need that. A more targeted approach would be a invoicing management service called ConnectBooster. Based out of Fargo, ND (original home of Great Plains accounting software), an intrepid group of MSP entrepreneurs have been at market for a few years with the ConnectBooster billing solution. I recently spoke with the ConnectBooster team and learned that it’s reason for being historically has been to integrate into PSAs such as, you guessed it, ConnectWise. But in my briefing, it was made clear that other PSAs are also supported. ConnectBooster is essentially adding the billing function so you can collect the money. But it’s not providing a collection service (e.g. collection agency). Rather its helping you invoice faster and sooner. Fast money is good money. 
Bottom line on this back office discussion is this. Many MSPs are “starting over” in the era of cloud. Lower administrative costs and improving operations is central to your success.

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2016 Salary Survey Results – Part II: F/T, Salaried, Six Figures

2016 Salary Survey Results – Part II: F/T, Salaried, Six Figures

As our 2016 salary survey journey continues, we are getting closer to what matters most: money. Last time, in Part I, we established you are well-experienced, educated and the owner. All highly desirable demographic characteristics. Let’s go a layer deeper.

Employment
You are full-time in your company. In fact, you’re likely working overtime! Very few were part-timers. With that said, you’re a W-2 employee in the US (this was nearly 60% of your income) followed by additional income in the form of owner draws and dividends (30%). Makes sense for anyone who has run a small business.

Compensation
Looking more specifically at compensation, the most common response was salary with bonus (39%). Very few of you were working for an hourly wage. And only one respondent had a commission-only position. Your actual compensation clusters in the range of $91,000 to $150,000 USD. Impressive. The exact average (mean) compensation was, wait for it, was $91,000 to $100,000 which is consistent with prior years of survey. The most frequent response (mode) was exactly tied in the range of two categories: $91,000 to $100,000 and $101,000 to $125,000. All of this supports our long-running narrative that “our people make $100,000 USD per year.”

Company Revenue
Vendors and sponsors, in an eternal quest to turn geeks into resellers, are always seeking out the “big guys” at the expense of not showing love to the little guy. Our survey results offer both. The most popular response (mode) for company revenue was $1-million to $3-million, a full 29% above the next category. The average (mean) response was $251,000 to $300,000. Why is this? That’s because we have a double bell curve. We have a cluster of responses in the $51,000 to $200,000 company revenue range that is dragging down the overall average. I’d offer this is the one-person shop. But the cluster between $500,000 and $10,000,000 ($10M) represents50% of the responses (OK actually 49.99%). Something for everyone.

So what’s it all mean. A “B” grade that you’re hanging in there during changing times, transforming compensation models and shifting technology paradigms. Staying even is the new win. Congratulations.

Next week we will look into forward looking statements. Join us right here in the SMB Sunday paper!

PS – Want to make more? Attend our Office 365/Windows 10 Roadshow! Phoenix is May 10th following by Los Angeles and San Francisco. Learn more at 2016roadshow.smbnation.com.

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2016 SMB Salary Survey Results: Educated and Educated!

2016 SMB Salary Survey Results: Educated and Educated!

Hear Ye! Hear Ye! The 2016 SMB Salary Survey is now complete. I’m excited to share results over the next few weeks. Let’s get started.

Education
As we always knew – we’re educated. The facts are this. 
• SMB 2016 four-year degree attainment: 44%
• US Average: 32%
The difference is 31.58 percent or nearly one-third. This isn’t a huge surprise as we’re in a technical professional field where education isn’t only a tool but the road to greater professional competence and success.

Age
Oh my! The majority of the respondents were 51-58 in age with no one between 18-25. Houston we have a problem! Close behind was the 43-50 age group. Interestingly I’m seeing young people engage in other areas of technology such as coding, a byproduct of Coder DoJo and Hour of Code in our schools. The median age in the US labor force is roughly 42 years old. By the way, our older demographic suggests there will be a wave of consolidations in the near future. More on that in a future column.

Job Title
Here is the best news of all in my opinion. Over 80 percent (actually 81.49%) of us are business owners, a highly desirable group for several reasons. First, you have much more experience and business acumen than you likely acknowledge. You’re not some corporate Dilbert in a cubicle repeats the same tasks daily. You’re much closer to a wild catter solving new problems daily. You’re something of a risk taker, forgoing the gold watch after 30-years of corporate service. Right on! We are real people living in the real world! You can count yourself as someone who has started, own and operated a business – experience you can’t buy.

IT Experience
This is good and bad news and goes right to the heart of start-over challenges. The good news is that you are certainly competent in your profession (16+ years in IT). The bad news, in my humble opinion, is you might be stuck in your ways. My evidence is both quantitative and qualitative: survey results and conversations. My concern is that you are likely riding the server-side down to the bottom and not tapping your business acumen to perhaps provide Marketing 2.0 consulting services (CRM list AttachedApps; marketing automation systems like Marketo). Experience is a double edged sword. You don’t want too little; you don’t want too much. Like porridge, you want it just right. You read it here first!

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Mr. Smith Rides the Rockies!

Mr. Smith Rides the Rockies!

A day doesn’t pass wherein some community member shares news on a more personal level. And it’s my honor and privilege to parrot out the highlights. In this case, it’s a successful mid-sized MSP (Initial.aec) from the Denver-area, Jack Smith, reporting he’s formed a team to raise charity funds in the coveted Ride The Rockies tour this summer. Smith’s feel good story is also a chance to herald in cycling season. While I’m a daily bike commuter to my start-up, Jack takes cycling in our community to a whole ‘nother level. He was on the post SMB Nation Fall conference ride in 2014 where we rode the 35-mile Chilly Hilly in the rain!

BTW – I’ve placed Jack’s story in the Start Over column. That’s because he’s always up to something new both personally and professionally. In the MSP-side, he has embraced Office 365 to fortify his thriving Autodesk practice.

“Below is what I have sent out previously for the ride and have gotten a great response thus far.” Smith said. “As a fellow cyclist, I was excited to let you know that I will be beating myself up on my vacation grinding up a few very big hills! I plan on tweeting from the road so make sure you are following me to witness my pain and successes!” Smith’s appetizing appeal is below. Please support Smith and his team as you are able.

Hi Everyone-
We are coming up on 4 weeks since I sent out the email below asking you to help me make the climb for kids. I am happy to say that thanks to the generosity of a few great people, we are currently at $2,025.00! This is fantastic, and I want to say thanks to those of you that have donated. We have been in training mode since I first sent this out and with the recent weather, it has forced us indoors onto the bicycle trainers and cycling videos in order to get our saddle time in. Way more fun outdoors, but good for us nonetheless. We have our first official meeting with Ride the Rockies on the 5th to learn more about what we have gotten ourselves into, and I can’t wait as I have quite a few questions. Questions like, will there be oxygen provided above 10,000’? Will they provide replacement muscles and certain body parts along the route? And the most important one, will someone wake me up from my exhaustion induced coma like sleep every morning? These are but a few and I am pretty sure that the answer to these questions will be a hard NO. Doesn’t hurt to ask!

Enough about me, let’s talk about you and how you can help us make the climb for kids. We are currently at 1/3 of our goal of $6,000.00. I am excited that we have come this far, but I would really love to see us hit at least $4,000.00 if not $6,000. I would encourage you to re-visit this link to check up on us and make a donation if possible. Again, I want to express my gratitude to everyone that contributes and to everyone that offers moral support as well. It will make the climb easier knowing that we have some great people supporting our efforts and the efforts of two great charities. I have included below the context of my original email for your reference.

Please click on the link below to visit our fundraising site:
https://www.crowdrise.com/teambonksclimbforkids2016


Thanks again and look for an update in a few more weeks!


March 5, 2016:
As many of you know, I have shaved my head a few times to raise money for St. Baldrick’s. With your help, we were very successful in our efforts and as a bonus, I ended up with a permanent hair style! It feels good to know that every time I rub my bald head, that it was for a good cause. Maybe that’s why I keep it shaved, hmm.

Anyway, most of you may also know that I love to cycle, especially in the mountains. This year I have decided to bring these two passions together. I have organized a team of three to participate in this year’s Ride the Rockies event (http://www.ridetherockies.com/) as team “bonk”. For those of you unfamiliar with this term, it is used when you have completely exhausted your energy during a physical activity and you stop cold. This name was selected as an inside joke between me and my cousin, who ironically enough, is on the team. This is something we WILL NOT be doing during the ride.

I have selected two charities to benefit from our efforts this year. St. Baldrick’s (http://www.stbaldricks.org/) and Special Olympics of Colorado (http://www.specialolympicsco.org/). I encourage you to visit their websites and read up on the fantastic things they are doing in the world.

The three of us on the team are not asking for sponsorship, we are asking for a donation and your moral support as we tackle the mountains and our own limitations. As you will read on our fundraising website, all three of us have been blessed with healthy children. My own daughters have always motivated me to try to help others that are not as fortunate and this is but one way to do this.

As I glide down and grind up the mountains, I will be thinking about all the kids that rely on these organizations, all of their struggles and successes and how they continue to grow and succeed. I will also be thinking of my own two girls and how blessed I am and how your donations and support will inspire me to push to the top of every mountain pass and to reflect on the opportunity I have been given to help others.

Please click on the link below to visit our fundraising site:
https://www.crowdrise.com/teambonksclimbforkids2016

I appreciate anything you can give albeit money or moral support.

Jack R. Smith
Principal
initial.aec
[Connect] http://www.linkedin.com/in/jacksmithaec
[Follow] http://twitter.com/initialaec

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Analysis: Why I’m Qualified to Discuss AttachedApps

Analysis: Why I’m Qualified to Discuss AttachedApps

Over the next couple blogs, I’ll review AttachedApps, a contact management system for small businesses (and I’d assert Start-Ups in particular). I’m qualified to have this conversation with you. I use AttachedApps. And I use it in a start-up. Let me use this blog for the proper context and later I’ll rock the speeds and feeds.

There is a popular philosophy about being a lean start-up.

Just as the name implies, you keep it simple stupid. I’m currently involved in a Big Data start-up in Seattle in addition to my ownership role at SMB Nation. I’ve learn a lot over the past year about what a real investor-backed start-up looks like. It’s been like earning a second MBA. One decision relevant to this conversation with to use AttachedApps as our “baby CRM” system. I can now say that I’ve used nearly every major CRM solution including Salesforce, Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online 2015 (“Dynamics CRM”) and NetSuite. I still use a couple programs daily supporting the Big Data clients we have.

But internally, the decision was made to roll with AttachedApps from day one. Why? Simplicity! Essentially instead of being consumed with the complexity of Saleforce et al, the prevailing sentiment was to just get stuff done. I get it. When I work with the big boys (Salesforce, Dynamics CRM), you find yourself spending more time just trying to figure out how to do something. You know it can be done, you’re just not sure how to do it. Then there is the notion that most people use a fraction of the power in the big boy CRM packages. With AttachedApps, using it daily, I can honest say I’m using the majority of the horsepower that comes standard! 
Bottom line: Rethink the technology you deploy in a start-up. Complexity is overkill. Consider simplicity like AttachedApps.

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Don’t Miss: 2016 Salary Survey Closes March 31st

Don’t Miss: 2016 Salary Survey Closes March 31st

Hey there, Hi there, Ho there!

We need your support! In order to have a representative data set of the state of SMB compensation and activities, we need more participation. Think of this as Karma Dollars! You contribute your information (confidentially) and you benefit from seeing more rich results (literally). Think of it as crowd sourcing meets the sharing economy.

With respect to viewing this survey from a start-up perspective, I have a story to share. Earlier this month I met a young man at the Channel Partners conference in Las Vegas. He had recently completed college and was all bright eyed and bushy tailed. He sincerely wanted to know what line of work to go into with respect to information technology (IT). He was looking at traditional networking as an MSP. He was looking at telecom as a consultant/sales agent (that is still the predominant audience at Channel Partners). This salary survey can truly benefit our start-up kid! Why? Because he can decide if these professional career paths work for him. The world is his oyster and he can compare our MSP/CSP world to opportunities in Big Data (that conference was upstairs at LeadsCon), online commerce, mobility and even Internet of Things (IoT). That’s that start-up hook to the salary survey.

Discover more and participate in the 2016 Salary Survey here

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Start-Over: Rethinking Where You Work

Start-Over: Rethinking Where You Work

One year ago, SMB Nation reached the end of a five year commercial lease for office space. And it felt great. Still does. Why? Because in the mid-2000s, when SMB Nation grew out of the garage and dramatically increased its head count, the original office space we leased made sense from a prestige, ego and functional point of view. Much of our computing was still client-server based with Small Business Server 2003 (the gold standard in my opinion). Fast forward the move and two office moves later, letting our lease expire and having everyone work from home starting March 2015 felt like a natural act. We were “starting over” with respect to how we worked. And folks loved it: no commute, no make-up and more time to complete work that matters. We didn’t experience the loneliness highihglighted in the following New York Times article “Telecommuting Can Make the Office a Lonely Place, a Study Says” which start out: Ever since telecommuting became a viable option for a broad spectrum of workers, some companies have offered it as a tempting perk. Why not make workers happier by allowing them to spend more time with their families, avoid long commutes and exert more control over their schedules?

Read more here

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Start-up; Poverty and Entrepreneurs

Start-up; Poverty and Entrepreneurs

Harry here and be forewarned. I’m about to go intellectual on you. This is an interesting New York Times article about how entrepreneurial communities do and do no develop in non First World countries. Hint: It has to do with savings and capital.

Laura Doering was at a rest stop in Panama about five years ago, waiting for her bus to refuel, when she saw six vendors clustered together selling almost exactly the same snacks. She wondered: Why doesn’t anyone sell something different?

Read on here 

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Analysis: Geek Guide to Day Lights Savings Time!

Analysis: Geek Guide to Day Lights Savings Time!

My good friends over at GeekWire published a timely piece on setting your clocks forward on March 13, 2016. Always a goog evergreen story, this article highlights the good and bad. And cheers that it doesn’t mention the farming myth about day light savings.

Spring forward in stages
Spring = forward. It’s a simple algorithm, but this weekend’s switch to daylight saving time can get complicated. The bottom line is that timepieces have to be pushed forward an hour in most (but not all) of North America. Traditionally, clocks skip ahead an hour, from 2 a.m. to 3 a.m. local time Sunday. Smartphones, computers and other connected devices should pick up the beat automatically. Old-school analog devices as well as standalone electronics such as microwave ovens will have to be set by hand, typically at bedtime on Saturday night.

daylight
But maybe there should be another way to think about all this, particularly because of 21st-century social trends.
Read on here.  

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True That: HPE and March Madness!

True That: HPE and March Madness!

Lately a lot of people are asking me about the new Hewlett Packard(s). For the purposes of the SMB Nation community, we live in the world of HPE. I liken it to HP is STARTING OVER as HPE!

And it’s making a splash with its March Madness “Hello World” special offer. We’re glad to help as HP (now HPE) is a long-time friend of the family. It was there at the first SMB Nation conference in 2003 and beyond. The pic attached to this blog is from the video series “In The Trenches” produced by HP promoting SBS 2000 and its mobility features (watch it HERE). 

 Harrybbb in early HP SBS video

So with great pleasure – I’d like to invite you to join us the Thursday, March 17th at 12:00pm Noon Pacific (GMT-7). Sign up here

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O365/Win10 Roadshow: NYC Applause, ATL and CHI This Week!

O365/Win10 Roadshow: NYC Applause, ATL and CHI This Week!

Like the primary elections, the Office 365 / Windows 10 workshops are coming fast and furious in March. Last week over 110+attendees enjoyed and applauded Grant Thompson’s amazing independent outside-looking-in view of Office 365 and Windows 10.

“Thank you for putting on the 2016 Road Show. I especially want to thank Grant Thompson for his presentations, both the formal topics and side discussions answered many questions I had about Windows 10 deployments, Azure AD, Office 365 implementation and the CSP program. The AppRiver and Webroot presentations were enlightening also. It was a very worthwhile day.”

Doug Steinschneider, DCS Group, Fairfield, CT

new york feb29 roadshow

“Harry, I went to this event with Marc Harrison It was one of the best events I"ve attended in a while. Within 90 minutes - I gained enough value to make the trip worth my time…the vendors / speakers were top notch. Thanks.” Joe

Please join us this week in Atlanta and Chicago – followed by Washington DC and Carolette! The workshops are complimentary and all geek, all the time. Discover more here: http://2016roadshow.smbnation.com/

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Start-up: Spring Break Man Cave!

Start-up: Spring Break Man Cave!

Many conversations with longtime SMB Nation folks lead to side jobs. With the changing of business models and personal interests, I’m seeking you guys engage in weekend warrior businesses to supplement your MSP practices. You have the MSP who remotely supports Boston-based clients from his profitable ski lodge in Mount Snow, New York (been there). You have Ken in Phoenix selling red BBQ gloves (used these). A couple on Bainbridge Island with a gourmet popcorn business (yummy). And now you have Greg Hansen with his Central Coast Oregon-area man cave! Known as the Siletz River Cabin, this getaway is a must do for SBSers looking to catch their breathe, recharge and reboot. What better place to plot your start over strategy then the babbling brook sounds overheard while fishing?

cabin2

 

The reason I share this story is too fold.

First – don’t hesitate to put a toe in the water in starting a side business. Maybe you are an expert bicycle mechanic just waiting to serve neighbors. Heck perhaps you’re keen to multi-level-marketing schemes. However you slice it, diversifying your business portfolio is prudent to migrate all the risks as we pivot to cloud!

Second – it’s time to lock down your vacation plans. Some of us have wanderlust and want to do something new. I’d offer some time at Hansen’s man cave is time well spent.

In Hansen’s own words:
“Experience a relaxing and fun weekend (or week day) of Steelhead or Salmon fishing in the Siletz River...while staying at Siletz Valley Lodge (reserved only for small retreats, team building, and strategic planning sessions) or Siletz River Cabin …by the way, river conditions are good according to the Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife. Transportation available anywhere from point A to point B by Siletz River Shuttle Service.”
Learn more here, and tell ‘em Harry sent ya!

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Speeds and Feeds: Atera PSA / RMM Product Review

Many readers enjoy the “Fastest two minutes in sports” as a regular segment on SportsCenter at ESPN. Some of you enjoy the weekly highlights at halftime on Monday Night Football. So fasten your seat belts. In the ten minute video that accompanies this blog, you will discover the most important features of Atera, a spunky start-up that aims to make a splash in the SMB partner community.

Atera’s main asset is that it is based on per technician pricing. This contrasts with the legacy PSA and RMM providers who typically charge on a per device basis. This effectively and dramatically lowers MSPs costs – a critical “thing” as our community pivots from big iron to born-in-the-cloud. Atera’s other value proposition is that it is very good at being an efficient solution that provides the functionality you want and need. It’ll never be confused with bloatware!

In the review, you’ll see that I start with the core functionality of the Atera product. There is a very important reason for this. The set-up process is fairly traditional and would have significantly extended the time of the video. In a YouTube world, less is more.

You can anticipate the following nuggets in this review:

  • Dashboard review
  • Tickets
  • Alerts
  • Devices
  • Customers
  • Plus much more!

Bottom line: View the video and then sign-up for the 30-day Atera trial here

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Super Monday – Roadshow in NYC Feb 29th and BEYOND!

This is the all of those starting up – attending our roadshow workshops is a great first step!

Until I sat down to write this update on our Office 365/ Windows 10 Roadshow, I hadn’t truly thought about us behaving similarly to a political campaign in the Spring primary season, but there are some parallels. We launched last Tuesday in our own state (favorite son) in Redmond. The capable audience enjoyed the expert content delivery from our own Grant Thompson was not only well-received but the launch feedback has allowed us to update the curriculum. That’s a common training function – improve the content for each city moving forward.

redmondpizza

Attendees enjoying PIZZA UP at our Redmond workshop - February 23rd! 

Another parallel is that we’re road warriors on a roadshow. We’re going from state-to-state over the next few months. The full schedule is here. There is still time to sign-up for New York as it’s Monday, February 28, 2016. So click over and sign-up for the following future dates:


• New York City, February 29th
• Atlanta, March 9th
• Chicago, March 11th
• Washington DC, April 12th
• Charlotte, April 14th
• Phoenix, May 10th 
• Los Angles, May 31st
• San Francisco, June 2nd

So we focus on the technical aspects of Office 365 and Windows 10 in our roadshow workshops. Perhaps the most popular speech was the Office 365 Security speech. Timely, spot on and ready for consumption. 
Join us – the event is complimentary. Discover more and sign up here: http://2016roadshow.smbnation.com/

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What’s the real value behind Unified Communications?

I’m continually impressed by the good work coming out of Mitel with respect to community conversations. I think everyone agrees there’s no home for speeds and feeds BS content at SMB Nation. Rather – you want unique insights into matters that interest you. You want the community sponsors to be respectful; they want to be top of mind when you are ready to move forward. I think Mitel’s recent outreach to the SMB Nation community meets this high bar.

 mitel

Mitel has embarked on a journey to act as your guide by the side when it comes to your communications strategy. In particular, Mitel’s new communications landscape white paper that you can (and should) download here (“Making Smart Communications Decisions – an SMB Buyers Guide”) present the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) concept. Essentially ITC refers to the view that technology is an enabler. We used to call it data + voice but Mitel’s ICT concept is about the premise that today’s IP-based phone systems are gateways to this new world focused on applications.

Other topics in the white paper are:

  • Small business IT staff are more and more becoming cloud and applications managers. The assertion is that ICT staff are becoming more strategic and less break-fix.
  • Spending growth for a mobile world. Budgets are facilitating smartphones and applications to deliver a flexible work experience to employees who are becoming more mobile and geographically distributed.
  • Re-imagining work. The new workspace requires a new communications approach. I previously covered this conversation in my late December 2015 blog titled “I Love Work” that you can read here
  • Premium on protection. It goes without saying but you need to say it: security is important!
    Incremental, integrated solutions approach. This not only relates to cloud solutions but OPEX vs CAPEX financing.
  • Reshaping the customer experience. This is my favorite part of the Mitel white paper. There is a strong marketing conversation currently underway that with search, customers are doing much of their own research before ever speaking to a salesperson. So true. I’ve seen another report that nearly 70% of the decision has been made before customers speak to you. Google calls it the zero moment of truth. True that!

So you’ll have the read the rest of the report to get the good stuff. Highly recommended!

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Office 365 Security Blues – Roadshow Content Added

When having conversations with long-time SMB Nation peeps, those steeped in Small Business Server (SBS), the mere mention of Office 365 brings a response focused on security concerns. We got the message and received the memo. So based on popular (and I’d add populist) demand, we’ve added a security lecture to our popular Office 365 and Windows 10 roadshow.

 349 X 115 MOD REG RND2

So building a wall to keep the bad guys out isn’t completely realistic (although a firewall is LOL), our expert speaker Grant Thompson does touch on important Office 365 Officesecuritysecurity topics (listed below) that you might not have considered. In fact, I’ll go so far as to assert we are offering content that includes something for everyone and more importantly, something YOU DO NOT KNOW! In fact, if you honestly knew everything in this lecture, we’ll refund your workshop fee. That would be very easy as the workshop is complimentary LOL!

Office 365 security topics:

  • Encrypted Data at Rest and in Transit 
  •  Automated operations and Just-In-Time Access
  • Everything is designed to Fail
  • Customer LockBox
  • Data Loss Prevention 
  •  Information protection using RMS
  •  RMS OneDrive for Business Sync 
  •  Sync block for non-domain PCS
  •  Enteprise Mobility and Security Suite: Discussion and Demo! 
  •  Four Layer End-to-End Security 
  •  Compliance – CJIS standards 
  •  Microsoft Advanced Threat Analytics
  • Hybrid Identity
  • Common Identity and Access Problem 
  •  Manage your external identities 
  •  Windows Azure Active Directory Premium
  • Device and Application Protection via Intune

We take our responsibility as a independent ombudsman seriously representing you. Therefore, we hope we’ve earned your trust and more importantly your desire to attend one of our workshops traveling the US this spring.

You can learn more here: http://2016roadshow.smbnation.com/.

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SMB Salary Survey for 2016 is OPEN!

 

Wonder how you measure up? Here is your chance to both provide community data and then discover the results in a future blog. Think of it as training data for a BIG DATA experiment in SMB. You can participate confidentially and contribute to the data set. The more participants we have, the greater the value of the data. Again, we’ll happily share the results with you.

Thank you in advance and participate in the survey here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/salary2016

We appreciate the generous support of Atera (www.atera.com) in underwriting this community survey.

salary survey artowrk

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Harry Mention: On SMB MSP & Cloud Channel Challenges

Who Dat? Below is a reprint of a blog., based on our SMB Nation State of the Union 2016 Webinar (January 2016) with Anurag from TechAisle. Enjoy the read!

On 7th January, Harry Brelsford, Founder, SMBNation had a Q&A webinar with Techaisle on the challenges of SMB-focused MSPs and cloud channel partners. Given below are his questions and Techaisle’s responses.

Harry: Referring to this blog SMB IT Channel has reached an inflection point can you better define “inflection point?” does that mean a tipping point before collapse or a pivot?

Anurag: It is a pivot not a collapse – “one stop solution shop” is dying as each of cloud, mobility, managed services and CI/virtualization gets too complex for generalists to manage. The IT channel is changing, permanently and in ways that are entirely different from what we have seen in the past. In the same way that “cloud” refers to a very wide range of very different IT models and deployments, “the channel” is becoming a generic phrase 

Click HERE to read the rest of the article!

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Dazed and Amazed: Atera’s Disruptive PSA and RMM Pricing Model

Once in a great while, disruptive financial models are created. Take derivate trading in the financial markets and how that led to high speed trading an amazing disruption. Atera is out to do the same by essentially offering a futures contract where you lock in your PSA/RMM pricing based on the number of technicians you employ, not the number of device. It’s a brilliant strategy and makes sense with the commoditization of IT at SMB customer sites.

Why the "paying per device" model is killing the growth of your MSP business

If you avoid Atera’s attractive pricing offer, you do so at your own peril. That’s because you subjective you and your family’s financial welfare to the diminishing returns of IT management. Allow me to assert my argument.

  1. Penalized for growing – when you grow, your traditional PSA and RMM supplier grows on your expense, since new customer will require you to spend more money on monitoring of new servers & workstations. Loosely translated, there is no upside financial leverage. Your RMM and PSA costs are essentially variable costs and that makes it tough to increase profitability margins.
  2. Makes you uncompetitive – you need to charge your customer for every PC, laptop and server added. Remember I made mention of the oft accepted theory of IT commoditization? In such a marketplace, it’s essential you control if not lower your costs. A market that is being commoditized doesn’t support a cost-plus inflationary strategy. You can’t pass on your costs easily and thus you become uncompetitive to more efficient operators.
  3. Hurting your customer growth & relationship – when your customer grows (and needs more PC, laptops and servers), you have to charge more, and the customer most likely will not care about the fact that this money isn't going to your pocket at all. It’s going to fat cat PSA ISV owners and RMM executive’s wallets!

Atera to the rescue: per technician pricing

So I’ve saved the best for last. Atera is asserting an optimistic investment approach that reduces risk and increase profitability with maybe a bit of fun thrown in. Atera’s PSA and RMM solution has three pillars.

  1. Predictably – you know how much you pay each month. That’s your hedge strategy facilitated by buying Atera’s solution set. By analogy, think of it this way. Each and every day, corn farmers in Iowa sell futures on the Chicago Board of Trade. Big Ag (large agriculture companies and distributors) buy those futures as part of a financial strategy to lock in its corn commodity prices. Right or wrong, Big Ag knows what it’s be paying.
  2. Competiveness – You can charge less and provide better service because all devices will be monitored. Smart idea in a cloud world and facilitated by Atera, a born-in-the-cloud ISV.
  3. Relationship with customer- you avoid the tension of the whole “I need to charge you more for your growth” conversation. Whereas in the financial community, I’d offer personal friendships are minimized because “they” are not nice people. It’s just the opposite in SMB. MSPs are often personal friends with customers. So expectation management is paramount to a long-term relationship!
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Breaking News – 2016 Readership Results!

Thank you for participating in our 2016 Readership Survey – it’s good for us and good for you. Here are the results:

Nearly 2/3 of you defined yourself as MSPs at 62.84%. The remaining responses included break-fix, consultant, system integrator, business consultant and ISV.

Technical content areas you are interested in, in order of strength, are: Office 365, Windows 10, and Windows Server. As you can see in the figure, AWS, Azure and Skype are less popular topics for you.

Not surprisingly, with respect to segments, you want coverage on the small and medium business (SMB) area. You are not interested in government and education. Enterprise, home and consumer were all tied for a distant second.

In terms of general areas, you were very interested in more coverage of SECURITY! Second was legacy technologies and third was cloud. Losers included Big Data and Internet of Things (IoT) with both topics tied for last.

Your interests in “styles” was won by the “How To…Business” category followed by a tie with “How To…Technical” and stories on products and services. The notion of “Best of” contests finished a distant last.

When it came to social topics, you want more coverage on Start-ups, Shutdowns and Start-overs. The good news is that we’re closely listening to you and intend to make these area(s) pillars of our coverage in 2016! Tied for second was industry hiring and firings and gossip (lawsuits, etc.). Last place goes to political coverage. I thought political coverage might be a bit higher with the 2016 election year in the US.

Finally, a couple of standout comments included desire for an improvement in our newsletter being displayed on mobile devices, Hybrid Exchange/O365 articles and more technical content. There was also a shout-out to SharePoint. One person shared that “I expect this to provide content related to my work and revenue streams.”

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Better Call a MSP Part 8 – 3 Misconceptions of Outsourcing

By Shannon Mayer, Senior Product Marketing Manager, Continuum Managed IT Services

The eighth installment of a monthly blog series offering tips and best practices on various ways MSPs can help their SMB clients work through the most challenging daily business issues.

In the last installment of “Better Call an MSP,” I offered tips on how to easily navigate the current flurry of M&A activity. Now let’s discuss something that too often has had a negative connotation surrounding it—outsourcing. I really think this is an area that many MSPs are overlooking, and here’s why. Below are some of the most common misconceptions about outsourcing and why you should consider this approach as you continue to grow and scale your business.

Misconception #1: Poor Customer Service: This is probably the most common stigma about outsourcing. Many might have personally experienced less-than-stellar customer service from a company that’s not even using outsourced employees, and now hold a grudge. As competition continues to increase, this is an area in which quality needs to outpace quantity. Why does bad customer service still exist? The four biggest customer complaints are long hold times, unresolved issues, multiple transfers and unsympathetic reps. So, how can an MSP implement a solid customer service level through outsourcing to avoid these complaints?

• Scale: Hiring and retaining talent is the most common struggle for MSPs. How can you grow your business when you can’t find and retain good people? Outsourcing helps by allowing you to take on additional customers without the fear of encountering some of the customer complaints mentioned in the previous paragraph. Working with a solid outsourcing vendor within the industry that understands the SMB space and the pain points of MSPs is the first step to getting an effective outsourcing plan in place. With the right vendor, your company will be staffed by reps who know and understand your managed IT services business.

• Proper Knowledge Base and Broad Skill Sets: I mentioned in a previous blog that it costs six to seven times more to acquire a new customer than it does to retain an existing one. Outsourcing helps gain access to a wide knowledge base that allows issues to be resolved quickly and easily. Taking the time to build your own knowledge base is something that many MSPs can’t afford to do from a financial and time standpoint, especially when trying to build their customer base. For example, if a customer has an issue with a Mac operating system, and you don’t have a skilled tech, outsourcing is particularly helpful; it provides access to techs who have broad and/or specific skill sets that would be difficult to keep on staff.

• Consistent Procedures: Outsourced companies generally have written and proven procedures that all employees follow. There are clear escalation guidelines and rules on how to handle specific situations. And when these procedures are enforced and followed, your client base experiences consistent customer service. You also don’t have human resources issues like hiring, firing and training practices.

• True 24/7 Support: With outsourcing, you truly have access to constant support, which is something that can be taxing as a business owner who is trying to expand. Growing your business is one of the most important areas in which outsourcing can help, and according to Defaqto Research, “55percent of customers would pay extra to guarantee better service.”

Misconception #2: Outsourcing is Pricey: Like the stigma of poor customer service, this is also a myth. Why? Because reducing your overall IT budget is still the number one reason for considering outsourcing. Most MSPs think outsourcing is more expensive, and they miss out on valuable cost-savings opportunities. Not only does outsourcing help you save money, it also helps to keep employees happy, which undoubtedly leads to company loyalty and longevity.

Hiring an outsourcing firm also allows techs to focus on proactive projects, rather than scramble to put out IT fires. If you have techs dedicated to Level 1 tasks, have your outsourcing company take those calls and put your best techs on project work that’s more satisfying to them, all while bringing in additional revenue and new customers.

Remember that the advantages of outsourcing go beyond the actual price. Examine, too, the cost of delivery of your services. When considering cost, it’s important to look at how much you are spending on tools and use the new outsourcing opportunity to work on more revenue-generating tasks. You also want to consider not only what it costs now, but also in 6-12 months from now.

Misconception #3: Outsourcing is Difficult to Manage: Externally, outsourcing allows you to spend more time working with customers that have proactive needs, while working to recruit new ones, and deepening your relationships. Internally, outsourcing gives employees the ability to gain and develop fundamental management skills by allowing them to manage the outsourced provider, thus enhancing their value and expertise. By giving employees management responsibilities and allowing them to work on projects of their choosing, this alleviates the number one issue that MSPs deal with—hiring and retaining good employees.

Remember that it’s OK to reveal any struggles you are experiencing in managing a help desk on your own with your vendor partners. By outsourcing, you save time on items such as metrics, reporting, structure and processes. This can all be done without the outsourcing provider completely replacing your help desk—they can simply enhance it, augment it and help identify what is not working as well as areas of improvement.

Don’t allow the misconceptions of outsourcing to stand in the way of prosperous business growth as well as happier employees and customers.

Shannon Mayer is Continuum's Senior Product Marketing Manager and is directly responsible for platform go-to-market strategy and messaging as well as business intelligence. She manages the Continuum Peer Groups program and content for Navigate 2016, Continuum’s annual partner conference. Shannon was named a 2013 Channel Chief by CRN and has also been named to the MSPmentor 250, CRN’s ‘Top 100 People You Don’t Know, But Should’, and CRN’s ‘Women of the Channel: Power 100’ lists. Follow her on Twitter: @shannonjmayer.

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MSPs: Learn Enterprise Marketing, on an SMB Budget - Webinar

By Harry Brelsford, CEO, SMB Nation -

MSPs: Learn Enterprise Marketing, on an SMB Budgetmarketing puzzlePS

Join SMB Nation and other MSP's
Tuesday, December 22nd, 2015 at 12:00pm

Marketing is critical for MSPs to maintain their current revenue and grow their bottom line.You’re considering ramping up your marketing efforts in 2016, but is there a realistic way for an MSP owner/operator to accomplish their marketing goals without much time or budget? Where do you start? Where should you focus? What resources are necessary? Let us guide you through the complexity of marketing in a realistic and actionable way.

Click Here To Register!

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AVG Restructuring SMB Business, Laying Off 35

avg antivirus logo 3216Story by Scott Bekker - 

AVG Technologies is restructuring its managed service provider-centric SMB business division and laying off 35 employees as the unit struggles to meet the company's overall growth goals.

"As we discussed in the last earnings call, our expectation of the uptake of our cloud-based services was not where we wanted it to be as a result of our existing customers' commitment to our traditional on-premise product," said Gary Kovacs, CEO and managing director, according to a Seeking Alpha transcript of AVG's third-quarter earnings call Wednesday.
"To fix this, we have taken specific actions to improve our go-to-market strategy, including a significant restructuring and streamlining of the business and further simplification of our products to make it even easier for our resellers to go out with our products to serve their end customers' needs. These restructuring and leadership changes, we believe, will put us in the right position to capitalize on a large and growing opportunity," he said.

CFO John Little explained the restructuring would include "releasing approximately 35 employees," outsourcing a portion of the help desk and restructuring the management of the division. Little said the moves would save about $3 million over the next 12 months.

Click Here To Read More

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Avnet adds Alert Logic to portfolio

Technology distributor Avnet today it expanded its portfolio of offerings with SaaS solutions from Alert Logic. 

Avnet will provide Alert Logic’s services to VAR, MSP and ISV partners in the U.S. in Canada through Avnet Cloud Solutions. avnet

“Avnet’s new relationship with Alert Logic will bolster the ability of our partners to deliver critical cloud security services that help keep their customers’ data safe and compliant, allowing them to focus on running their businesses,” said Tim FitzGerald, vice president of Avnet’s cloud solutions business in the Americas. “The addition of Alert Logic expands our cloud ecosystem with another important ally toward providing our partners with the strategic guidance, resources and packaged offerings to quickly, securely, and cost-effectively build and grow their customers’ cloud computing platforms.”

More information about solutions from Avnet and Alert Logic is available here.  

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Webroot expands UK distribution

U.K.-based Distology and threat protection provider Webroot announced today they expanded distribution of Webroot’s products into the UK and Ireland. webroot

“The MSP space in the UK carries huge potential and Webroot has taken a very dynamic and proactive approach to grow its presence in this market,” said Rick Yates, director of sales and marketing at Distology. “Webroot’s lightweight agent, two minute initial system scan time, and minimal impact on end user devices keep downtime to a minimum and service costs low. We look forward to delivering their innovative threat intelligence and Smarter Cybersecurity™ solutions to our extensive partner and MSP network.”

This expansion will allow Webroot to globally further its partner programs and provide MSPs, resellers and system integrators with privacy, performance and protection.

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SolarWinds N-able offers IT service management platform for SMB MSPs

SolarWinds N-able, a RMM and service automation software provider, announced yesterday the upcoming release of its IT service management platform for MSPs serving small and midsized businesses.

MSP Manager, available this September, is designed to increase efficiency and profitability for MSPs, with features including centralized customer knowledge management, mobile applications, integrated billing and a customer portal.

“One of the toughest challenges facing small and medium-sized IT service businesses is profitably growing revenues while acquiring new customers,” said JP Jauvin, General Manager, SolarWinds N-able. “Many IT service professionals are either using manual processes or complex software tools to manage the business, but what they really need is a cloud-based IT service management software platform that is simple, affordable and easy to manage.”

Pricing details and partnership information are available from SolarWinds N-able.

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Managed Service Provider Consortium Provides Free RMM with Integrated PSA

The Managed Service Provider Consortium, an open consortium built by MSPs for MSPs, is a platform that leverages the MSPC platform tool designed to help MSPs eliminate licensing fees, improve business performance and increase revenues.

Its platform tool combines remote management and monitoring and professional services automation, and is free to use, just as MSPC is free to join.

“A huge advantage of the MSP Consortium is that it has been designed by MSPs specifically for MSPs – giving members the ability to leverage a community of IT and security experts to help solve any technical or business challenges they are facing in building their business,” said Amy Rutt, MSPC board president and CEO of Ciracom. “The ability to quickly and easily tap into the knowledge of your peers will give members unique insight, tools and resources – all free of charge. No one in the entire IT industry is doing anything like this today for MSPs.”    

Organizational operations are led by committees surrounding central MSP concerns, such as technology and compliance, and a board of directors, which includes representatives from Ciracom, Comodo and LazoTek Computer Solutions, among others.

Membership information and registration is available here.

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Community Corner: California MSP Reports +20% Revenue Growth for 2013

MyersYesterday, San Jose, CA-based MSP, Myers Network Solutions announced that it has seen a significant year-over-year annual revenue growth of over 20% in 2013. The company cited the development of new partnerships, as well as the growth of its Cloud service offerings as the two main reasons for last year’s growth.


As it stands now, Myers Network Solutions has experienced revenue growth for the past seven years running. For 2013 specifically, the company formed partnerships with Datto and Star2Star. It was the partnership with Star2Star that allowed the company to expand its VoIP offerings to include cloud-based phone systems with desktop integration capabilities.

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Continuum makes play to simplify the public cloud for MSPs

According to research completed last summer by Wakefield Research and Citrix as little as 16 percent of your SMB customers might actually understand what the cloud is. Twenty-eight percent of survey respondents said that it was weather-related (literally a cloud in the sky) while another 17 percent...well, the less said about their responses the better. Suffice it to say they were wrong.

The numbers are probably better now, almost a year later but the cloud has gotten more complex too. The big public cloud providers – which are gearing their services to large enterprises which have proportionally large IT staffs – have stuffed their offerings with hundreds of solutions and it’s your job as their IT guru to help them navigate that morass.

That’s why Continuum launched the Continuum Cloud Console – C3 for short – this week. C3 is an Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) management platform that helps MSPs unlock the value of the public cloud for SMBs by streamlining the congested world of the public cloud.

dee-zepf“We’ve simplified the complexity of the choices out there,” said Dee Zepf, Continuum’s Vice President of Product Management and Technical Services at Continuum. Essentially, C3 preselects the solutions that are going to make the most difference for SMBs and excises the rest, decluttering the process for MSPs.

C3 – which provides cloud service management through the same pane of glass used by the company’s existing RMM solution, thus putting everything on one screen for techs – is initially limited to Amazon Web Services (AWS), but Zepf says that she expects to roll out enhancements every quarter going forward, including Google, Azure and other large public cloud offerings.

Tim Lasonde, president of Boston-based NSK Inc., which is focused on providing IT services to SMBs, says the conversation about the public cloud comes up with customers all the time, especially when a client is due for a technology refresh.

As a member of Continuum’s Partner Advisory Council, one of the partners who beta tested the C3 offering and an existing Amazon Web Services partner, Lasonde has some keen insights on the value of a service like C3.

“Working with Amazon can be a bit of a daunting process. They are big player and have a lot of offerings. It’s such a disruptive technology. There are a lot of different ways to implement it,” he says. “I think one of the reasons C3 is a good product is because it helps smaller MSPs that don’t really have the time to invest in figuring out all the options.”

Tim LasondeLasonde adds that considering the rapidity with which customers are moving towards buying services through the cloud, getting up to speed on these services is critical for MSPs in the evolving IT landscape. The very public price war driving costs down across the board is certainly a factor driving interest.

On the one hand, this is helping us get new clients over and above existing customers, he says, but MSPs really do need to look at this for their customers because if they don’t then someone else will or the customers will do it for themselves.

Right now anyone can go online and order Office 365, but someone still needs to manage that and controlling how the SMB is exposed to the value these services deliver allows the MSP make sure it’s own value proposition is included in the message.

“Sure customers can go online and purchase O365 and stuff like that,” says Lasonde. “But when it comes to managing it, like migrations, that requires some skill and some training. There are a lot of pain points. It’s not the kind of thing that the average SMB wants to do. That’s where we can add a lot of value.”

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Dell Software Announces Release of AppAssure Version 5.4

Dell SoftwareThis morning, Dell Software announced the release of AppAssure 5.4. I was able to speak with Michael Grant, director of product marketing, data protection, and Jason Raymond, director of product management, data protection, Dell Software, yesterday, both of whom took me into the latest version updates for this solution.

To start, I spoke with Michael Grant, who explained that he joined Dell in the mid-90s. Michael said that, like many of you, he is seeing a major industry shift in both the amount and importance of data. Today’s organizations, particularly in the SMB segment, are bound to be on 24/7 and they need to provide immediate services to customers. “This shift has really exacerbated the SMB problem,” said Michael Grant, in an interview yesterday.

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Parallels Summit Day Two: Changing Reseller Roles, Cloud Battleground

Birger KeynoteGood day again, and welcome to today’s coverage of the goings-on at the Parallels Summit 2014! I was up bright and early again to attend today’s keynotes, which spoke directly to the Service Provider (IT Pro) role in the changing cloud industry.

I have already discussed the growing presence of the Cloud, not only on the tech side, but also for Main Street SMBs, like florists, plumbers, manufacturers, etc., so let’s dig into the good stuff! I attended three keynote presentations this morning, the first of which was another check-in from Parallels CEO, Birger Steen (pictured), with new software version announcements, as well as the announcement of the company’s top partners (I’ll cover this news in a separate article).

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eGuard Technology Services Reports Fourth Consecutive Year of Growth

khaled 1Yesterday, eGuard Technology Services, a Washington, DC-based MSP, reported that it has seen significant year-over-year growth 2013. In fact, this marks the company’s fourth consecutive year of revenue growth. eGuard Technology representatives attributed the 2013 results to the addition of new clients, employees and services.

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ThreatTrack Security Announces Updates to ThreatAnalyzer Solution, Plans for Partner Program

Earlier this week, ThreatTrack Security released news that it is recruiting specialized security partners to add the company’s ThreatAnalyzer solution to their offering portfolio. The company explained that the new program is available starting Q1 2014 to VARs and MSPs, and will include sales, marketing and technical support.

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Rebit Announces Debut of Mobius Solution for MSPs and CSPs

Rebit Mobius Overview smallRebit today announced availability for the Rebit Mobius solution designed specifically for MSPs and CSPs. The Mobius solution combines sync, share, and backup capabilities into simple software. Mobius marks the Rebit’s first big step into the business solutions market.

I was recently able to speak with Paul Guerin, CEO, Rebit and Courtney Macchia, VP Marketing, Rebit to discuss the new Mobius solution, and they explained that Mobius can be deployed one of three ways: as an on-premise only solution, as a cloud only solution, or as a hybrid option. In addition, MSPs and CSPs can brand the Mobius solution with their own logo, and integrate it into their current ecommerce systems, to keep control over client relationships. Rebit is also planning a “dynamic branding” feature for Mobius 2.0, which will allow MSPs to brand the solution with their customers’ logos, but as of today’s release, branding can take between 1-2 days to complete. Guerin explained to me that Rebit has a long history of white label and OEM partnerships, and that the company strives to keep control in their customers’ hands.

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Continuum Strengthens Leadership Team with Additions on Technology, Marketing Fronts

continuum logoContinuum said today that it has hired two new industry experts to its executive management team: Paiman Nodoushani, vice president, engineering and chief technology officer; and Jeanne Hopkins, senior vice president and chief marketing officer. The moves deepen Continuum’s strengths in product engineering and development, as well as all aspects of partner and acquisition marketing programs.

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AVG Launches RMM Toolset for MAC Environments

AVG logoAVG Technologies is now offering enhanced support for Apple’s Mac operating system (OS) environments within its AVG Managed Workplace 2013 remote monitoring & management (RMM) platform. At the same time AVG Managed Workplace becomes the first RMM tool to offer agentless iOS management of Mac OS X devices including iPads and iPhones. 

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N-able Launches ‘How To’ Biz Playbook on MSP Revenue Strategies

Mike CullenN-able by SolarWinds has launched what is reportedly the industry's first MSP Playbook, which delivers best practices and step-by-step business and technology guidelines to MSPs worldwide. Designed as an end-to-end business plan, the new MSP Playbook is valued at more than $50,000 and provides new and established MSPs with the checks and balances needed to build and maintain a successful managed services practice.

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Community Rocks! Profiles in SMB IT: Joseph Fulgieri, JMF TechServices

Joe FulgieriFor our new blog series “Community Rocks! Profiles in SMB IT,” we spoke with Joseph Fulgieri, (pictured) owner of JMF TechServices. Located on Long Island, NY, Fulgieri is a one-man shop hybrid MSP who specializes in almost any type of IT need that a small business owner requires. Read more to find out how Fulgieri got his start in IT, how he once got paid by a client in homemade empanadas, and what his personal business philosophy is.

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eFolder and Anchor Announce Partner Lunch Tour

efolder logoEarlier this week, eFolder and their recently-acquired company, Anchor Networks, announced a 22-stop tour through the US for MSPs and VARs. This tour will include dates between Oct 8 and Nov 21, and will stop at major cities throughout the US.

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Vistara Offering Dell packetTrap Customers IT Platform Upgrade

Vistara logoVistara said that is offering a limited time promotion for enterprises and MSPs with active Dell packetTrap network monitoring and tool licenses. If you remember, Dell packetTrap announced earlier this year that they would be discontinuing the service. This was following the acquisition by Dell of Quest packetTrap last year.

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TechSquad IT CEO Chris Wiser to be featured in Documentary Film, “The IT Guy”

watch-banner-it-guy-big2MSP firm TechSquad IT announced today that Chris Wiser, the company’s Founder and CEO, will be the subject of a documentary film titled, “The IT Guy,” which will be broadcast on a nationally syndicated cable television channel on Wednesday, September 18, 2013, at 7:30 am EST/6:30 am CST.

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The Disappearing MSP Middle Class (Part One of a Series)

MSP Middle class picThe maturity of the SMB community is starting to show. In a new series of articles, I detail the current shakeout amongst IT Pros, vendors and other community members that isn’t in any way wrong, it’s just a reality. I’ll explore master MSPs built for scale, lifestyle consultants built for pleasure. Plus I’ll explore the sales agent and contractor community. I’ll even talk about how to “hang on fast” and how you can try to avoid the middle class trap that I’m about to reveal to you.

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GFI MAX Releases HIPAA Resources for MSPs

gfi max smallYesterday, GFI MAX released news of a new resource pack for MSPs using their platform. The addition is for HIPAA readiness, and is designed to address the new regulations that organizations must follow starting September 23, 2013.

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MSP Firm TechSquad IT Adds Dropbox for Business to its Technology Services Platform

TechSquad LogoTechSquad IT, is now offering, as part of its technology services platform, Dropbox for Business to its SMB customer base.

By adding Dropbox for Business to its selection of technology services, the Milwaukee-based MSP will now be able to provide its SMB clients with file sharing and collaboration tools that will help streamline and organize their daily business processes. Utilized currently by more than 2 million businesses, Dropbox for Business is known for its ability to automatically back up data so that it is available anywhere at any time from any device. In addition, Dropbox for Business keeps important data safe so that it may be shared securely with team members, as well as giving the ability to access older versions of any type of document, and restoring previously deleted files.

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StorageCraft Offers Discount to MSP Partners

storagecraft smallYesterday, StorageCraft announced the start of a new offer for Canadian and US MSP partners, which includes a 30% discount on new devices using the company’s StorageCraft Cloud Services Platform. The offer will run until 30 September, 2013.

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Toronto-Based MSP, MBC, Becomes a Microsoft Reseller

MBCLogoToday, Toronto, ON-based MBC Managed IT Services, announced that they have become a VAR for the next generation of Microsoft’s Office 365 solution. Under this new agreement with Microsoft, MBC will work to both deploy and provide support for their existing managed services customers.

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Naverisk Opens First US Office in Tampa Bay, FL

RMM company Naverisk, which has offices in New Zealand and Europe, said that it has opened its first U.S.-based office in Tampa Bay, FL.

Another milestone in Naverisk’s global expansion program, the US office opening follows on from the successful opening of Naverisk offices in the United Kingdom at the end of 2012.

Built as a complete “all in one” package from the ground up, Naverisk positions itself as “the only solution that offers RMM (Remote Monitoring and Management) and a complete Service Desk at an affordable and fair price for SMB focused MSPs and IT Service Providers.”

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MSP Exigent Technologies Offers Turnkey Cloud Services for NY/NJ SMBs

Exigent Technologies today launched its new service TurnKey Cloud, which makes it easy and affordable for New Yorkers and New Jerseyans (who are SMBs) to quickly and confidently adopt cloud computing solutions.

Available immediately, Exigent’s TurnKey Cloud services are purpose-built for SMBs and include customizable, cloud-based infrastructure solutions and data center services that ensure business availability and enable smaller companies to consume information technology as a service (IaaS), rather than a continuous expenditure.

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Datto Appoints LPI Veteran Rob Rae as VP of Business Development

It was announced today by Datto that the BDR provider has hired Rob Rae to the position of VP of Business Development. Rae, who is known by most in the SMB channel for his work as VP of Partner Development at Level Platforms, will begin his tenure at Datto on Monday, August 5.

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TechSquad IT, Bigger Brains Holding Webinar at 1 pm EST to announce BiggerMSP Partner Program

techsquadMSP firm TechSquad IT said today that it has partnered with Bigger Brains to create a new MSP-focused marketing enhancement program called BiggerMSP.  

BiggerMSP is based on Bigger Brains’ premium, high-definition video training courses, which have all been developed in the uniquely engaging “Teacher/Learner” style. Each course is divided into short, 10-minute video modules, to make it conveniently easy to learn whenever your schedule permits, and to jump straight to the training modules you need right away with our unique search function.

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Insight Venture Partners Makes Investment in Kaseya; Gerald Blackie and Co-Founders to Pursue Other Opportunities

It seems as though there is no stopping acquisitions in the RMM world. Last month it was SolarWinds' acquisition of N-able, and then a couple of weeks back, Level Platforms shocked its partners when it announced that it was acquired by anti-virus giant AVG. The latest victim is Kaseya, which announced late today that it was acquired by Insight Venture Partners, which has made a significant investment in the RMM. According to a press release issued by Kaseya, terms of the agreement are undisclosed.

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Washington, DC-Based MSP Increases Cloud Services Revenue by 350% (in just 1 Year)

Washington, DC-based MSP eGuard Technology Services said that it experienced significant year-over-year corporate growth in 2012 as it relates to Cloud services. This revenue growth is attributed to the MSP adding multiple clients per month to its popular eGuard Cloud Care platform, and its formidable presence by serving various vertical markets of the SMB community within the Metro DC region. In addition, eGuard Tech reports that in 2012, its Cloud services sales were up 350%, net Cloud profit increased 45%, and monthly recurring Cloud revenue was up over 200% from 2011.

(Pictured): Khaled Farhang, Founder and CEO, eGuard Technology Services


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Autotask Releases Technology Service Provider Survey Results

Autotask logoYesterday, the Autotask Corporation announced the results of a February 2013 survey concerning the state of technology business growth. In particular, the study, which was conducted by Decision Tree Labs, showed that technology providers are experiencing a high drop in the number of billable hours each month, mainly due to inefficient business process.

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They wore it well! SMB Forum Review…

SMB Forum Polite ImageA tip of the hat to our partner ChannelProSMB for its recent SMB Forum in Long Beach, CA. SMB Nation happily supported this second year show. The show presented a balanced attendee/sponsor mix fortified by top speakers. My expectations as a sponsor on the floor were managed and I will repeat. Just my little “Yelp” to get this party started.

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Continuum, Growth Achievement Partners Forge Alliance to Help with Managed Services Transition

Continuum, and Growth Achievement Partners (GAP), a major provider of sales and operational consulting in the office technology marketplace, announced their strategic alliance to establish a new Managed Services Business Model specifically for office technology dealerships. The model provides a blueprint for a seamless transition into this adjacent opportunity, so dealers can capitalize on lucrative trends toward off-site management, HaaS (hardware as a service) and cloud-based offerings. This transition will help deliver recurring revenues and customer growth to dealers through an expanded solutions and network services offering, resulting in accelerated financial performance.

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independenceIT and N-able Form a Strategic Partnership

iIT logonable logoThis morning, independenceIT and N-able Technologies announced that they have entered into a new strategic and technological agreement. Under this agreement, the two companies will work to foster education and complete technology integrations.

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Logicalis Launches New Program for NorAm MSPs

Logicalis LogoYesterday, Logicalis announced the release of a new partner program aimed at helping SMB MSPs get marketing, expertise, and tech opportunities to make their businesses grow. The M.E.E.T., or MSP Expert Extension Team, program draws on five major areas to assist the SMB MSP.

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Top 3 Reasons CIOs Are Embracing New Storage Technologies

Logicalis has identified a thorny problem facing IT pros today: CIOs, strapped with budgetary constraints, have adopted a “don’t fix it unless it’s broken” approach to storage. The problem with that approach, according to Logicalis storage experts, is that storage is the heart of IT; continuing to rely on storage solutions with a basic architecture developed two decades ago won’t give forward-thinking businesses the advanced data archival and retrieving capabilities that new business pressures are demanding of them.

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Level Platforms Releases Dates, Location for MSP Summit

Level PlatformsEarlier this week, Level Platforms released details about their upcoming MSP Community Summit. This event is slated to take place June 17-19 at the Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas, NV and will feature session tracks geared for Level Platforms Managed Workplace 2013.

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Chris Cramer Hired to Spearhead NetEnrich’s MSP Partner Base

The PR group representing NetEnrich officially confirmed to us this morning that Chris Cramer has joined the company from I.T. Works, a NetEnrich MSP partner, taking on the role of Partner Manager. Cramer, who started his new position on Monday, will be working with Justin Crotty, NetEnrich’s senior VP and GM, to spearhead the company’s efforts to build upon, and further enable, the success of its existing MSP partner base.

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Datto to Provide BDR and Biz Continuity for Team Logic IT Network

Datto said late yesterday that it will provide backup, disaster recovery and business continuity solutions to more than 50 TeamLogic IT locations across the country. TeamLogic IT is a nationwide network of businesses that provide comprehensive computer-based services for managing information technology.

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Continuum’s Tech Advantage Program Offers MSPs High-Value, Low-Cost Expertise

Continuum said today it is now offering Continuum Tech Advantage, a new program that allows its MSP partners to leverage the expertise of more than 200 certified engineers and technicians on a project-by-project basis.

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Heartland Technology Solutions to Sell MSP Practice to WesTel

I remember last year, around the same time, there were a whole lotta mergers and acquisitions going down the first week of November—namely when Dave Sobel sold his MSP practice, Evolve Technologies to Network Depot. This year apparently is no different with major announcements being made during the first week of business in 2013: Arlin Sorensen’s Heartland Technology Solutions (HTS) announced this morning that its IT practice has been sold to WesTel Systems, an Iowa-based telecom and computer services company supporting communities in Iowa and Nebraska.

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