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.

Mobile Apps – Your Blue Ocean Recurring Revenue Opportunity

Part 1 – Charting the Waters


Recurring revenue is the life-blood for IT consultants and managed service providers these days. The challenge for us is to find new products and services that can be added to staples like network management and Office 365, which areRecurring Revenue logo the low-hanging fruit that we have already adopted. The conundrum we face is that new solutions typically require a significant commitment of time and money in order to learn how to implement, manage and sell them while generating an acceptable return on that investment as quickly as possible. As a result, inaction and procrastination hold us back when we should be proactively expanding our solution stacks.


One area that has not been fully explored is mobility. Although we may deploy mobile devices – tablets, notebooks and phones – for our clients, it is easy to construe the devices to be solutions when they are merely tools. The power of mobility actually resides in the ability to connect people to the information that they want and need wherever and whenever they need it. Studies by comScore have shown that nearly two-thirds of all digital media access is now done through mobile devices. Furthermore, the bulk of that access occurs through smartphone mobile apps.


Given the prominent role that smartphones play in connecting people to information, it follows that many of our clients have businesses that can benefit by making it possible for their customers to connect with them via their mobile devices. This opens the doors for us to enter the mobile app market on behalf of our clients, but few if any of us are able to become app developers.


In Part 2 of this series, we will take a look at the things that have been holding us back from adopting a mobile app practice and what can be done to overcome them.

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Affordable Dial-In Conferencing Solutions as Simple as One Click

Conference calls make doing business easier. Unfortunately, traditional conference call services can be cost-prohibitive and difficult to use for many SMBs. That’s why AppRiver recently rolled out dial-in conferencing as a part of its Office 365 service.

Customers using the service can host conference calls for audiences small or large on their computers, cell phones or landlines – often for about half the cost of other appriver septemberpremium services, and managed right from familiar tools like the Outlook desktop and Web clients. For AppRiver’s resellers, it’s a convenient way to incorporate another critical business function into their practices, saving their customers money and growing their topline revenue at the same time.

AppRiver offers several Office 365 and hosted Exchange plans designed to match the needs of businesses of all sizes. Now, customers can add unlimited dial-in conferencing to Skype for Business at a budget price, just for the users who need it. For most organizations, this price point could mean a dramatic cost savings compared to standalone services currently on the market.

Dial-in Conferencing adds valuable new capabilities to Skype for Business service plans, which already include secure instant messaging, screen, file, and application sharing capabilities for meeting organizers and attendees. For attendees who need or prefer a benchmark dial-in audio connection, the new PSTN conferencing option is the ideal solution.

AppRiver is a Microsoft Cloud Solution Provider (CSP), and helped Microsoft develop the Indirect model that powers the growth of the CSP program today. As a result, AppRiver’s channel sales advisors, support team and billing staff have years of experience helping partners price, sell, bill and support Office 365 for their customers. This experience can be invaluable for resellers who are new to Office 365 or who can’t or choose not to participate in the CSP program on their own.

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Microsoft is extending its Office Insider Fast Ring test program

Microsoft is adding a Fast Ring option to its Office Insider test program for Windows desktops, Windows 10 Mobile, iOS and Android.

mary jo foley thumb2By Mary Jo Foley

 

 

 

Microsoft has an Office Insider testing program that shares a number of similarities with its Windows Insider program, but one difference broaderofficeinsiderbetween the two has been scope.

The Office Insider program, which Microsoft launched in November 2015, didn't initially support different test rings. The one rather odd exception was the Office Insider for Mac program, which did include both Fast and Slow ring options, since June 2016. (Microsoft added Office for Mac users to its Insider test program in January 2016.)

Today, August 30, Microsoft disclosed it would be adding a Fast Ring option to its Office Insider program for users on other platforms, beyond Mac OS.

 

 

 

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Trending - Trend Micro's Office 365 play

Back in the early Windows Small Business Server (SBS) days, Trend Micro made a significant commitment to developing solutions and branding around SBS. In no small part it contributed to the multi-fold growth Trend Micro has experienced over the past 15-years. I certainly appreciate its community commitment because year-in and year-out, community members could depend on Trend Micro to suit up and show up.

Now it feels like déjà vu. Trend Micro is going big in the Office 365 community this year. It starts with strategic direction at the top management level. Seeing the momentum of Office 365 growth at 70% year-over-year in Microsoft FY2016  it’s easy to see why Trend Micro is placing bets on this community.

Here is what you can expect from Trend Micro’s Office 365 push moving forward.  

Community involvement. Trend Micro is again appearing more and more at numerous community events. These include our own Tour de Cloud events starting in mid-September.

Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC). A couple of years ago as Office 365 was building momentum, Trend Micro was the only major security ISV at the 2014 WPC and I wrote about it here. The context was reintroducing Trend Micro to the community because with the demise of SBS and the early stages of Office 365 growth, there was a perception we’d lost touch with Trend Micro, even if briefly.

Long-term Commitment. When Intel acquired McAfee it essentially rebuffed community outreach efforts to engage in sincere and mindful ways with the working men and women of SMB Nation, focusing on the Big Boys and Distis. Fast forward the movie and McAfee is gone, a victim of Intel arrogance. That misstep underscores that Trend Micro is doing right by the SMB Nation tribe right here right now.

Bottom line: Learn more about Advanced Threat Protection for Office 365 and File Sharing here.

 

TrendMicro Ransomware

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Pokémon GO and Office 365

pokemon go logo

Greg Plum 8/8/2016


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

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

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

Let’s Take a Look Back

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

Pikachu Today…

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

Your Father’s Microsoft

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

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

 

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Learn how to > Master Your Archive Migration and Move to Microsoft Office 365

What: A Microsoft Office 365 Migration Best Practice Breakfast Seminar
When: Weds 31st August, 08:30 to 11:00
Where: Microsoft Office, Johannesburg

If you’re thinking about a move to Microsoft Office 365, and want to ensure the fastest and most efficient migration – then this best practice seminar is for you. Event Header 220 x 150 for SMB

Hear from Microsoft about the key benefits of moving to the Cloud, as they are joined by TransVault, the leader in archive migration solutions and Soarsoft, a migration services expert, for a morning event at Microsoft South Africa.

Enjoy a complimentary breakfast while the gurus take you through the ways you can prepare for the challenges of moving enterprise email and data into Microsoft’s Cloud.

Aimed at messaging professionals, by attending this event you will learn:
• How to securely and accurately move legacy email records into Office 365 for a one-stop-shop regulatory experience
• Get an introduction: To the Cloud. From the Cloud. Leverage Microsoft Azure for a completely 'in Cloud' migration
• See how others have made their move and embraced the Microsoft Cloud

 

REGISTER TODAY – LIMITED SEATING >

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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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Potential Office 365 customers crying out for channel help

Antony Savvas (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)

Office 365 Cloud Email

Two thirds want a VAR or service provider to help them shows Barracuda research

Research from Barracuda Networks highlights the opportunity for the UK channel to help businesses adopt Microsoft Office 365.

While the proportion of businesses surveyed planning to migrate to Office 365 is “promising”, said Barracuda, some potential end users cite issues such as security as major inhibitors to adoption.

“Education and value-add services will therefore play a key role in the success of channel programmes around Office 365,” said the security and data management vendor.

Microsoft OfficeThe survey found that just under half of the respondents plan to migrate to Office 365, and a quarter of those will do so in the next 12 months.

And two thirds plan to consult a VAR or service provider to help manage adoption, migration and on-going operation. One third of those not planning to migrate cited security worries as the main reason for this.

Commenting on the research, Henry Doyle, director at Altinet, the IT security and storage VAR, said: “As the popularity of Office 365 grows, it is really encouraging to see that companies recognise the value-add that service providers can deliver in the planning, roll-out and ongoing implementation of these services.

 

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Recipes for Office 365 Business Solutions

Our cookbook of Office 365-based applications will point you toward a new, richer way to profit from sales of Microsoft’s online productivity suite.

By Rich Freeman cookbookinside

There are many things for channel pros to love about Microsoft’s Office 365 communication and collaboration platform. The single-digit commissions Microsoft pays resellers of that offering after a subscription’s first year aren’t among them.

“That is not a business model that’s sustainable if you’re a small company,” observes Jerod Powell, CEO of Infinit Consulting Inc., a managed and cloud services provider headquartered in San Jose, Calif. “You need to have some value-add.”

For Powell and other Microsoft partners, that means developing business solutions on top of Office 365. The product’s constituent applications—especially Microsoft SharePoint—make solid foundations for everything from workflow and knowledge management systems to predictive analytics solutions and beyond. “If you can think it, you can probably build it in there,” Powell says, adding that doing so increases not only an Office 365 sale’s bottom-line impact but a solution provider’s “stickiness” with its customers as well.

Wondering where to begin? Here are high-level recipes for five Office 365 solutions that should stimulate your thinking.

Recipe 1: Financial Reporting Solution
Most accounting solutions come with built-in reporting tools. Most financial professionals find them sorely lacking.

That was certainly true at one of Infinit’s clients, anyway. “It was taking the comptroller two weeks to generate a lot of the 10-K-, 10-Q-type stuff,” Powell recalls. That frustration ultimately inspired Powell and his team to create an Office 365-based reporting solution that pulls data out of an accounting or ERP system, stores it in SharePoint, and provides intuitive, graphical access to it on PCs, tablets, and smartphones via Microsoft’s Power BI business analytics application.

Creating such a system isn’t for the faint of heart though, Powell warns. Building one for that first buyer took over six months and $200,000 worth of development time. “It can get complicated fast,” Powell says. Using that initial version of the system as a template for future installations, however, Infinit can now roll out new deployments in as little as a day.

Ingredients
•An Office 365 subscription that includes SharePoint Online
•A Microsoft Azure subscription
•Microsoft Power BI
•An accounting or ERP solution, preferably cloud-based, with open APIs

Preparation Summary
1.Assess the client’s reporting needs. Each buyer will require different reports formatted in different ways. Many will have regulatory compliance requirements to consider too.
2.Implement and customize the solution.
3.Integrate the solution with the client’s accounting or ERP system. Some clients may wish to link the solution to a payroll or time and expense management application as well.

Additional Serving Suggestions

INFINIT typically bundles its financial reporting solution with a package of associated managed services that provides 24/7 support, mobile device management, and more for a single, per-user monthly fee.

Recipe 2: Office 365 Help Desk

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Microsoft Partner Taps Power BI for SMB Market and Beyond

By: Barb Levisay, Owner, Marketing for Partners

Microsoft's Power BI Partner Showcase is a testament to the success of partners helping their clients, from enterprises to SMBs, realize the potential of data through analytics and visualization. For most SMB partners, however, experience and resource challenges put building a Power BI practice beyond their reach.  powerbi

But one of the showcase partners, RoseBud Technologies, has set its sights on taking Power BI to the SMB market -- and helping other partners do the same.

While RoseBud, a 10-person IT service provider based in Atlanta, may seem an unlikely Power BI advocate, it has deep roots in data. "A large part of the success of any partner is a result of the background their people bring to the equation," said Joe Treanor, president of RoseBud. "I spent time in banking when metrics and analytics were becoming the drivers in the industry. It gave me an understanding of the importance of making data useful."

Beginning with the self-service analytics released with Excel 2010, Treanor was intrigued with the practical application for RoseBud clients, predominantly small and midsize businesses. In 2013, RoseBud was an early adopter of Power BI, seeing the opportunity to support business intelligence (BI) without big infrastructure investment. 

Since that time, Treanor has seen a reluctance in partners to pursue the BI opportunity. "SMB partners face two major hurdles," Treanor explained. "The first is the experiential comfort with managing and directing business intelligence work. The second is where to find the people who can speak to clients and deliver the services." 

To solve the second challenge, RoseBud has established a relationship with Kennesaw State University's Coles College of Business. The college has a strong program that focuses on the practical business applications of quantitative analytics. KSU also offers a master's degree in applied statistics and more recently launched a Ph.D. program in Analytics and data science.

"Kennesaw is very much aligned with what we are doing," Treanor said. "They are training people who are comfortable holding a conversation about business and data analysis. They are developing data scientists for business, not just academia."

Just like most partners who are searching for their value-add in a cloud world, Treanor sees BI as a specialty that RoseBud can build on for the future. "It's a changing game. There is only so much business you can do with migrations," Treanor said. "We looked at what we could do with analytics. Microsoft is making very sophisticated enterprise-level capabilities available to the smallest businesses through subscriptions and tools. So we are helping our customers take advantage of Power BI, and we think it is just the beginning of a very big wave."

With Microsoft's heavy promotion of Power BI, RoseBud is seeing more proactive interest from customers. "There is more awareness through Office 365 and the infrastructure barriers are gone," Treanor said. "Many of the clients we talk to, even small business owners, understand the value of predictive and prescriptive analytics. They are looking beyond reporting to solving specific business challenges by using data."

Additional potential -- helping other partners who don't have the experience or resources to offer Power BI on their own -- is also developing for RoseBud. "A single partner can't be a generalist anymore," said Greg Treanor, vice president of RoseBud. "We're applying our experience and resources, becoming a go-to partner for Power BI. Partners can focus on their niche, work with us for Power BI and offer even more value to customers. They don't have to build the practice for themselves."

 

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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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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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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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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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Windows 10 + Office 365 & Special Topics = Immediate Knowledge Power!

Thu, Nov 19, 2015 12:00 PM - 1:00 PM PST

Presented by: & Harry Brelsford CEO of SMB Nation and Grant Thompson Founding Partner MG Technology Group

Join us for Part III of our three-part webinar series focused on Windows 10.

In this installment, we direct our expertise to discussing Office 365 integrations with Windows 10 plus a host of special topics that have accumulated over the first two webinars.  Windows 10

Topics include:

  • Windows 10 with Office 365 is the Azure AD Join
  • Any special reason why you are still using Office 2013 instead of Ofiice 2016? 
  • What’s the current state of OneDrive storage with Windows 10 and Office 365? 
  • Can you have both a personal and business OneDrive? 
  • What is the difference Windows Home and Windows Business SKUs? 
  • Windows Media Center was removed form Windows 10. Does Microsoft plan to make it available in any way or is there a workaround to regain that functionality? 
  • Is there a Windows 10 Certification exam available yet?
  • What about the Microsoft "snooping" in Windows 10 and other security concerns?
  • Through Virtualization - can I control two simultaneous outgoing audio streams (two disparate audio jacks/cards) 
  • And MUCH MORE…

Also remember since your customers are attending, you can register this event with Microsoft Community Connections and receive giveaway software and materials

349 X 115 MOD REG RND2

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Featured

Building a Profitable and Scalable Cloud Business / SMB Nation Webinar

Sign up today! SMB Nation Webinar 12:00 PM - 1:00 PM PDT. Friday, Oct 30th

Presented by: Harry Brelsford CEO of SMB Nation and Dan Shapero Founder of CLIKCLOUD Digital Marketing

In today’s ever-changing business landscape, cloud computing is profoundly shifting the way businesses operate. As more SMBs are moving to a cloud-based strategy, new growth opportunities are opening up for channel partners seeking a competitive advantage in the channel.clikCloudlogo2

This session will examine the latest trends impacting SMBs and how they present unique opportunities for channel partners.
Attendees will learn:
● Learn how leveraging Office 365, among other best practices can help build a successful cloud business.
● Gain exclusive IDC research on the latest trends fueling channel success in cloud.
● Explore how leading Cloud Service Providers are capitalizing on Cloud as a “Door Opener”.
● Discover ways to recalibrate your sales compensation to support the Cloud business model.
● Learn about exclusive offers for to help partners implement Microsoft SureStep and Modern Marketing Programs.

Registration Link > https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/46816475679947778

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Switch announces integration with Office 365

Office 365 is too key to the business world for forward-looking technology companies to ignore. Switch, a cloud-based business phone system provider, announced yesterday it is now fully integrated with Office 365 and also offers an open version allowing any business in the U.S. to sign up. 

“Any size business that moves to Google Apps and Office 365 understands the value of the cloud,” CEO Craig Walker wrote. “IT departments at enterprises that are making the move really, really understand it. They know that employees need to be productive when they work remotely, whether it’s down the block or on the road, and having on-premise email, calendar and documents doesn’t make sense any more. Cloud adoption is inevitable, not just for productivity suites but for business phones, too.”

Switch was built around the WebRTC framework, which continues to be heralded and updated by Google, Firefox and Microsoft, and now has data centers in Australia, Asia, Europe and the U.S. to keep multi-national customers connected. 

More information is available here on the Switch blog.

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New Features to Look for in Office 2016

By Nathan Mitchell, Appriver

The highly anticipated Office 2016 was released on September 22. While you will quickly notice that many of the Office apps appear very similar to the 2013 version, Microsoft, however has snuck in several new features that make Office 2016 work great with Office 365.AppRiver Nathan Mitchell

Sharing files and saving to the cloud have become very popular with Office 365’s OneDrive for Business. Microsoft has now further simplified that process by adding “Save to Cloud” and “Share” features right into the Office 2016 apps. With co-authoring also available in Office 2016 apps, the workflow for creating, sharing and collaborating has never been easier.

Right: AppRiver’s Office 365 Support Team Lead, Nathan Mitchell

 With collaboration and team work being a huge part of business today, the “Groups” feature helps teams communicate easily and effectively by acting as a shared inbox, calendar, and OneDrive. Office 2016 incorporates the new Groups feature in the Outlook app making it readily available for Office 365 users.

A ton of features have been incorporated into Office apps over the years and it can be difficult to remember all of those things. Not to worry though, as Office 2016 includes the new features “Tell me” and “Smart Lookup” that make finding answers to all Office questions a breeze. The Smart Lookup feature brings the Web browser right into the Office app so you can quickly and easily search the Web. The Tell me feature makes it easy to find commands or options within the Office app you are using. Tell me will be especially useful for users upgrading from older versions of Office with different interfaces who want a quick nod in the right direction.

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Novel ideas: Binary Tree contributes to new edition of O365 e-book

Binary Tree announced today it contributed two chapters to the second edition of Office 365 for Exchange Professionals, to be launched at the IT/DEV Connections Technology Conference Sept. 14-17. 

The e-book includes information on Office 365 designed to take O365 users from making the decision to transition to cloud to completing the migration from on-premises servers.

"Writing technical books in an age when technology evolves so quickly is a challenging task,” author Tony Redmond said. “We all have other jobs to do, and we simply could not afford to spend the time necessary to assemble the information contained in Office 365 for Exchange Professionals without the help of additional, experienced authors. We want to be able to publish new editions of the book to keep track of what happens inside Office 365 and that takes a lot of work and effort. Fortunately, we were able to get the necessary support from Binary Tree. We also received some great content for the book, covering the often intricate and difficult subject of how to sort out Active Directory infrastructures to make them compatible with the cloud.”

Binary Tree’s chapters cover tips and techniques for Office 365, as well as the importance and integration of Active Directory. 

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AvePoint updates Azure-based SaaS platform for O365

AvePoint announced yesterday immediate general availability of a new version of AvePoint Online Services, a 100 percent Azure-based Software-as-a-Service platform for Office 365 designed to simplify the transition to O365 and Azure.

AvePoint Online Services integrates with Azure Active Directory and SQL Azure Data Base, and provides IT pros simplified platform access with tools to scale storage for O365 reporting.

“One of the major benefits of the cloud is simplifying IT operations to focus more on the needs of business users,” said George Petrou, Chief Technical Officer, AvePoint. “With the latest release of AvePoint Online Services, administrators can easily access and scale the tools they need for Office 365 management while boosting user productivity and ensuring organizational governance policies are met through automated service requests and insights available within the SharePoint Online interface.”

More information, including testimonials and the link to a free trial, are available here.

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Microsoft announces first look, features for SharePoint

Sharing is caring, right? After all, we’ve welcomed many business solutions in the past few years allowing us to collaborate with colleagues, clients and customers through services like Microsoft SharePoint.

Microsoft announced yesterday availability of SharePoint Server 2016 IT Preview and a new cloud hybrid search preview for SharePoint Server 2013 and 2016.sharepoint

“One of the more difficult challenges, beyond deploying software, is managing the IT infrastructure to support it,” wrote Bill Baer, SharePoint senior technical product manager. “In many cases, IT investments directly impact the bottom line. SharePoint Server 2016 has been designed to reduce the emphasis on IT and streamline administrative tasks, so IT professionals can concentrate on core competencies and mitigate costs. Tasks that may have taken hours to complete in the past have become simple and efficient processes that allow IT to focus less on day-to-day management and more on innovation.”

Perhaps one of the most exciting developments in the Microsoft announcement is a cloud hybrid search preview, which will allow Office 365 and SharePoint users to retrieve information from on-premises and O365 content with a combined search index in Office 365.

The full announcement and links to download the cloud hybrid search and SharePoint Server 2016 IT Preview are available here.

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O365 SMB Channel Harmony

Israel-based harmon.ie (pronounced “harmony”) announced yesterday at Microsoft Ignite its new channel partner program for the Office 365 community.

This product essentially brings a single pane of glass to access all Office 365 data stores from Microsoft Outlook or a mobile interface.

I’ll blog about my experience using its product another day, as it gives me simple access to SharePoint instead of the dreaded browser interface. Think of the Outlook snap-in as akin to running Microsoft Dynamics CRM from the CRM snap-in in Outlook and tagging/saving every e-mail, etc. More on the functionality later.

Back to the issue at hand. As I learned more in an interview last week before Ignite, I realized harmon.ie is striking a balance between its intellectual property and its community relations.

I also saw a tacit understanding on the continued need for an intermediary between the ISV and the customer. Products such harmon.ie don’t install themselves, although the 30-day trial I’m running was an easy install.

The affiliate—or partner—opportunity will add more value on top of Office 365 to better use SharePoint et al. Heck, that’s something I can benefit from with my ten-person staff!

"As the adoption of Office 365 accelerates, individual experts and smaller consultancies have an opportunity to play a bigger role in this new 'mobile-first, cloud-first' world," harmon.ie CEO Yaacov Cohen said. "Our Affiliate Partner Program empowers these consultants to have quick and easy access to the harmon.ie collaboration suite of connected apps to help their clients succeed in this new cloud and mobile era."

Office 365 and evolving application technology was discussed last week at the Build Conference by industry professionals including Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella.

“Applications that you build will now be capable of ‘showing up’ throughout Office so that they do more than any single application on their own,” Nadella said.

Translated, this means Office 365 is being viewed as a platform that will have ISVs delivering apps and tools on top of it. Case in point: harmon.ie.

Then, there is the economics of it all. Consultants can quickly obtain a partner ID and then submit purchase orders directly on the partner portal for deals ranging from 15 to 200 users.

All business is sold through harmon.ie, with the referring partner receiving a 15 percent commission upon harmon.ie receiving payment from the customer. For deals involving more than 200 users, Affiliate Partners will work directly with a harmon.ie representative to ensure customer success.

"We are committed to helping companies of any size overcome evolving digital workplace challenges. This is the first of our many partner program enhancements, as we actively cultivate the harmon.ie partner ecosystem in 2015 and help drive this revolution," Cohen said.

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A Newbie’s View of the D&H Mid-Atlantic Show

dandhjpgThis past Thursday, I was lucky enough to be the SMB Nation representative at the D&H Distributing Mid-Atlantic Summer Show in Hershey, PA. Although I am not new to the trade show experience, having worked at a few of our own shows as event staff, the exhibitor side was a new view of the event portrait for me. So I am giving my highlights below to you today, as I report from my family’s home in Northern VA.

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SkyKick Teams with Ingram Micro, Expands CSP Channel Reach

SkyKick Project Management ApplicationToday, Seattle-based SkyKick announced that it has entered into a partnership with Ingram Micro. Through this agreement, Ingram Micro can offer the SkyKick Migration Suite to its cloud solution provider community via the Ingram Micro Cloud Marketplace.

So what does SkyKick do? The SkyKick Migration Suite is designed for MSPs, VARs, System Integrators and IT Consultants, and will automate a full Office 365 migration from start to finish. In fact, SkyKick states that this solution reduces up to 90% of the effort from traditional migration tools and can take the migration time from 40 hours to less than 4 hours per project. Check out the image pictured for a look at the Migration Automation dashboard.

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Action Pack Updates – Harrybbb Style!

A few weeks ago I reported that the Cloud Essentials title was being rolled into the Microsoft Action Pack (MAPS). It was an odd fit coming on the heels of Microsoft announcing a huge gain in cloud-based Office 365 earnings.

This past week, I received some additional insights into that roll-up strategy. Turns out that Microsoft is “cloud,” with its devices and services strategy and, ergo, MAPS is now more “cloudy” so that Cloud Essentials didn’t need to be an outlier. In other words, anything and everything cloud is mainstream at Microsoft. Thus the consolidation.

Photo credit: Microsoft Action Pack

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Microsoft and DocuSign Enter Into Partnership, Bring eSignature Apps to Office 365

Microsoft DocuSignMicrosoft Corp. and DocuSign recently announced that they have entered into a long-term strategic alliance through which DocuSign would be able to make its e-signature apps accessible to users on the Microsoft Office 365 platform. As of this week’s release, DocuSign apps will shortly be available for Microsoft Word, Outlook and SharePoint (Server and Online).

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To Fight or Not To Fight Office 365: That Is Not the Question

As the airplane from Seattle landed at the Tokyo Airport, Alan couldn’t help but smile at the thought of how much fun he would have with his son’s family in Matsumoto, a town three hours west of Tokyo. He had not seen his grandchildren for three years, and it was all Alan could do to contain his excitement when he received a text message—complete with a photo of his three beautiful grandkids—from his son saying they were eagerly waiting for him at the baggage claim area. When the flight attendant finally announced that the doors were open, Alan had to resist the urge to squeeze past the elderly gentleman ahead of him who was taking too long to dislodge his carry-on bag from the overhead compartment.

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SkyKick Releases Updates, Additions to Microsoft Office365 Migration Solution

Earlier this week, SkyKick, a company that offers Microsoft Office 365 migration services to SMBs, announced the addition of Microsoft Exchange Public Folder migrations automation, as well as an improved Project Management app to the SkyKick Application Suite. SkyKick is currently a one-of-a-kind solution for Office 365 migration automation.

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Kaseya Continues Acquisition Boom with Purchase of Office 365 Solution

Kaseya logoContinuing its trend of acquisitions (on both fronts) Kaseya said that it has acquired 365 Command, a solution enabling IT organizations and MSPs to easily manage and administer the Microsoft Office 365 cloud application suite.

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Microsoft WPC: US Licensing Group Receives ASPIRE Award for Partner Marketing

At this week’s Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference in Houston, there are sessions, keynotes, and also various awards ceremonies. With that being said, we hear from the US Licensing Group that it has been named the recipient of the 2013 ASPIRE Award. The prize is granted to the top partner organization for excellence in strategic marketing.

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Cloud|AG, SkyKick Team Up to Migrate Clients to Office 365

In an effort to help drive down the cost and complexity of migrating clients to Office 365, Cloud|AG has selected SkyKick as their cloud migration service of choice.

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First Look – Office 365 on iPhone

Late last week Microsoft broke bread with Apple when its Office 365 application was released on the Apple App Store (read our blog here for the back story). Here is my experience thus far using the application.

Note: Click on the accompanying image for a quick video on this new app.

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Microsoft Creates Office 365 Mobile App for iPhone Users

We were alerted today by Microsoft that Office 365 subscribers who are iPhone users can now, conveniently take advantage of a free Apple Store Apps known as “Office Mobile for iPhone.

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Sprint Offering Office 365 to SMBs for Quick Cloud Communication, Collaboration

Enhancements to cloud-enabled Microsoft Office 365 offered by Sprint will make it even easier for SMBs to collaborate and communicate from virtually anywhere they are, whether in the office or on the go.

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SYNNEX to Offer Next-Gen Office 365 Services

SYNNEX LogoToday, the SYNNEX Corporation announced that they will begin to resell the next generation of Office 365 services. As part of today’s announcement, SYNNEX resellers will also be able to use their own billing processes and sales models.

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Moving Forward – Office 365 Open for the SBSer…

A trending topic yesterday in the SMB ether was the update/release of the new Office 365. The abbreviated online launch party and initial message was covered by us (http://smbnation.com/content/news/entry/microsoft-releases-next-gen-version-of-office-365-for-biz) and nearly every major site covered off on this release (see my summary below), and click the image above for a quick intro video.

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D&H Tool Gives VARs Insight to Distributor’s Top-Trending Products

If you are a D&H VAR that’s wondering what products are hot topics within the distributor’s line card, you’ll then be pleased to know that the distributor introduced today a new “What’s Trending” feature, an online tool which lists the most frequently viewed items on dandh.com, updated several times daily. 

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Microsoft Releases Next-Gen Version of Office 365 for Biz

This morning, I turned on my laptop to log on to my Outlook email via Office 365, and I noticed that the Office 365 home page had a completely different look. I wasn’t surprised, since I was informed by Microsoft’s PR firm, that the tech giant was set to announce this, and other valuable updates to the platform today.

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