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.
Alex Anderson is an Ottawa, Canada-based freelance writer and content marketer. He has been writing about the tech sector in one way or another for more than 15 years. Got a story idea? Want to talk about something else? You can reach him at alex (at) smbnation.com or alex_anderson (at) live.ca, on LinkedIn or follow him on Twitter @Al3x_Ander5on

Guest Blog: Leveraging Partnerships to Improve Sales

The following Blog was written by Management Consultant and author Ken Thoreson

Partnering up with other organizations can only help you provide a better level of service to current and potential customers.

At Acumen Management, we've found that today's most successful salespeople tend to excel in six critical areas of sales management:

  1. Understanding their clients' business needs
  2. Maintaining selectivity and effective account segmentation and penetration
  3. Developing solid strategies for handling their key accounts
  4. Improving how salespeople manage their time, their accounts and their territories
  5. Using all available resources as effectively as possible
  6. Constantly strengthening their efforts to win market share

If your company isn't hitting home runs in all those areas, you may want to consider establishing your own partnership program to help improve your performance.

When I was working at a partner organization the president told me that if I was success in building partnership program: it would bring me the equilviant of one salesperson’s quota /year without having to hire more resources”


Working with partners can provide you with the additional knowledge that you may need, for instance, to better understand a particular client's needs or more readily identify prospective accounts. Your partners may be able to introduce you to important contacts, purchasing patterns and corporate strategies or access to decision makers. Their sales and technical teams may be able to help yours make joint presentations and proposals, better serve mutual territories and accounts or create true business solutions for customers. Ultimately, joining forces can help both parties improve their market positioning and achieve higher sales goals.

You can choose among several types of partnerships. While space limitations prevent us from exploring them in depth here, some of your options are:

Business partnerships designed to increase asset bases, expand the numbers and types of products or services offered and improve competitive advantage for both parties (possibly involving a formal merger or acquisition).

Business ecosystem partnerships that let non-competing parties sell related products and services in certain shared markets. This is the key kind of partner each organization should develop 3 to 5 business ecosystem partners. If executed properly, this relationship can bring you the equivalent of one salesperson’s quota per year.

Market alliance partnerships that allow two companies to share leads, establish salesperson-to-salesperson relationships and pay each other for referrals.

Strategic alliance partnerships with vendors that can provide your business with leads and support.

Alliance/consulting relationships in which companies exchange mutually beneficial services, such as serving on each other's advisory boards.

Before opening talks with any business ecosystem potential partners, it's smart to seek answers to a few important questions:

  • How many users does the other company have in your market? Knowing this number will help you gauge how well the other party knows your customer base.
  • What domain knowledge does the other party offer that your team lacks? What additional value or expertise or benefits does that company bring to your solutions?
  • How well do you understand your potential partner's culture and value proposition? Is it in alignment with yours?
  • Why does this company want to partner with you? What can you offer the other party?

Finally, remember that business ecosystem partnerships take time to develop. Successful ones involve:

  • Trust, which evolves from commitment, communication, strong performance and, most important, both parties consistently following through on their promises.
  • Innovation, which stems from the new opportunities that the relationship opens up for each organization.
  • A solid, mutually acceptable set of metrics, which can measure how well each company is meeting the other's expectations and how well they're both doing at progressing toward their shared goals.

Need to learn more about increasing leverage? If you are currently a Microsoft SMB partner or wish to become a partner, you NEED to know about Microsoft Community Connections (MCC, it is designed to help leverage relationships

MCC is designed exclusively for Small and Midsize Business partners to enable them to leverage Microsoft’s resources and relationships to generate more leads and increase your sales pipeline.

You are invited to two special events to learn how to unlock the value of Microsoft Community Connections (MCC) and learn about a new Playbook designed to show you how to increase sales through leverage.  In these exciting sessions find out how other partners are creating leverage in their community and increasing sales without investing marketing dollars or hiring salespeople.  We will discuss the secret sauce and 5 steps you can take now to change your business. Download a Playbook to learn more, Denis Wilson of DWP Information Architects who says: “The MCC Playbook is superb and the best training document I have seen of its kind.”

To Register goHere

 

Webinar 1 of 2:          Tuesday, December 16th

Eastern 9am (EST)

Midwest 10am (CST)

West 9:30am (PST)

 

Webinar 2 of 2:          Tuesday, December 16th

Eastern 9am (EST)

Midwest 10am (CST)

West 9:30am (PST)

MCC helps partners engage with their local communities through their local influencers such as the Chamber of commerce, CPA organizations, Small Business Associations, legal, and many other 501C3 and 501C6 associations.

Partners who engage with MCC are growing 15% faster than Partners who don’t! So take advantage and engage NOW! For a preview of the Playbook, go HERE

To Register for Webinar(s) go HERE

About the Author

Ken Thoreson “operationalizes” sales management systems and processes that pull revenue out of the doldrums into the fresh zone. During the past 16 years, our consulting, advisory, and platform services have illuminated, motivated, and rejuvenated the sales efforts for organizations throughout the world.

He was recently ranked for the third year in a row by Top Sales World magazine as one of the Top 50 Sales & Marketing Influencers for 2014.

Ken has written 5 books, his latest book is: SLAMMED! for First Time Sales Managers, Ken provides Keynotes, consulting services and products designed to improve business performance.        

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  www.AcumenManagement.com

Blog: www.YourSalesManagementGuru.com

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The week that was – September 28, 2014

 

It was another jam packed week in IT land, what with Spiceworld (no not the girl power Brit poppers, but rather the SpiceWorks conference in Austin), Continuum’s Navigate show, and Ingram Micro ’s ONE event in Las Vegas, not to mention our own humble conference in Seattle.

Last week we started with iPhone 6 news and since that went so well we're going back to the well for some more. Apparently iPhone users have discovered a hole in Apple’s there’s-an-app-for-that universe. It seems there’s no app that lets your phone double as a stool. If you sit on it it will break! Shocker! The idea that a delicate piece of technology (would you sit on your flatscreen TV?) can’t support the weight of your average human is, naturally, beyond the pale for some people who have broken their expensive devices and whined about it online to all and sundry. So far Apple has reported only nine complaints, but dumb is contagious so no doubt there will be more. Naturally this turned into a Thing. (Even Consumer Reports got into the act, testing a bunch of phones in a bend test. No Apple didn't win the sit-on-it-Potsy sweepstakes.) Somehow this is Apple’s fault. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not an Apple user. I don’t love iPhones, or iPods or iPads, or i-Whatevers. I prefer devices with a bit less pry-ware, but I digress. That all said, I kind of feel for the company on this one. Only an idiot sits on his or her phone. But then again, maybe the people who do this are trying to mindmeld with Siri and the back pocket is the closest they can get her to their brains.

Now this, on the other hand, is something you can lay at Apple’s feet.

Teachable moment: Apple botches iOS 8 updateApple Logo

Apple botched the iOS 8.0.1 update so badly that the maker of all things i* had to pull it from the app store just two hours after releasing it. Apple scrambled back to the drawing board following a deluge of user complaints about problems with cellular network connectivity and Touch ID on the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus and issued a fresh patch – 8.0.2 – the next day. That wasn’t fast enough for some and Apple shares took a hit, tumbling more than three percent to $98.47. Many IT solution providers have taken this as a teachable moment for their clients: Regardless of what IT product you are talking about, never be the first to download a new update. Wait at least a day or two to let the bugs – and there are almost always bugs – reveal themselves and be addressed by the vendor.

BlackBerry gets back to its enterprise-oriented roots with the new Passport

Still in the land of smartphones: Waterloo, Ontario-based BlackBerry unveiled its new device. The BlackBerry Passport is a clear sign that the inventor of the smartphone is listening to all the people who have been telling it to stick with what it’s good at and re-engaging with the enterprise business market.

Blackberry-passport"As we set out to design BlackBerry Passport, we were guided by a simple yet challenging idea -- to set aside the limitations of traditional design and to instead simply build a device that fundamentally changes the way business professionals get work done on their smartphone," said BlackBerry CEO John Chen (see photo, inset) in a statement. "The BlackBerry Passport was created to drive productivity and to break through the sea of rectangular-screen, all-touch devices."

The Passport is no consumer device (To start with it won’t fit in your back pocket!), featuring a square-shaped 4.5 x 4.5 in. display that the vendor says was designed to support the specific needs of business users as opposed to the consumer the company had started trying to woo years ago, leading the organization to the brink of ruin. Also front a center: the traditional BB tactile keyboard has been given a makeover, making use of the larger form factor to provide bigger keys and the potential for an easier, more accurate typing experience for those of us with fat thumbs. The Passport will also come equipped with the next BlackBerry OS: BB10.3.

(Disclosure: I mentioned earlier that I’m not an Apple fan. In fairness, I thought I should let you know that I currently use a BB Z30. I don't love BB any more than Apple -- especially after making the mistake of buying a Playbook -- but I got a deal and it really does have less pry-ware.)

IDC predicts channel growth IDC

According to new research from IDC the next year will be a good one for the channel, which will outgrow the overall server, storage and networking markets in some specific industry sectors. The report, penned by IDC Director of Infrastructure Channels Research Paul Edwards, claims the channel will gradually pick up more of the total IT spend until it owns 61.1 percent of the market by 2018. The North American channel should expect to see a 2.7 percent CAGR key sectors, such as servers, storage and networking, which beats the 2.3 percent CAGR for the overall market. This translates into a $38.1 billion share of the market in 2018, up from $33.5 billion in 2013. The channel is expected to pick up $17.3 billion in Networking sales by 2018, up from $14.4 billion in 2013. While analysts predictions should always be taken with a healthy dose of sodium chloride, these predictions bear up under one critical measure. As we’ve seen in the Week that Was over the past few months, OEMs like Dell, HP, Cisco and Xerox have been redoubling their channel engagement with new partner programs and strategies. Clearly they expect a lot more of their revenues to be flowing in indirectly and are investing in engagement with partners with specific, and valuable, customer knowledge.

 

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SMB Nation Launches New Board of Advisors Program for MSPs

Leading Small and Medium Business community creates Board of Advisors group offering designed to bring together like-minded business people with the common goal of leading successful IT practices.

Bainbridge Island, WA – September 26, 2014 – SMB Nation announced today that it has launched what is known as “Board of Advisors” program. As part of this initiative, the media integration company has established a new division to manage this program. The groups, which are designed to bring together like-minded MSPs and business people, with the common goal of leading successful IT business organizations, will be made up of solution provides, based on what solution providers want out of a group, and evolving with the groups respective  businesses grow and change.

Powered by IT and MSP consulting firm K2, SMB Nation Board of Advisor Groups will be led by Ken Thoreson and Keith Lubner. Both are well-known thought leaders in the SMB channel, are industry veterans, having spent several years directing Acumen  Management Group and Channel Consulting Group. Both are well-published authors in Redmond Channel Partner magazine, Channel Pro and other respected journals.

SMB Nation Board of Advisor Groups will be geared toward IT business professionals and MSPs who are looking to be part of an affinity group that will provide them with a holistic approach and outlook to furthering their respective business models. The Board of Advisor Groups are based with the idea in mind that they are willing to be open and honest, and share information about all aspects of their business.

“With Board of Advisor Groups we are working to accomplish three things, improve profitability, overall company growth, and improve the quality of life of owners and employees,” Thoreson said. “We are building the next generation of peer groups, which are not tied to antiquated management methods or driven by vendor agendas.”

According to Lubner, while SMB Nation Board of Advisor Groups will be available to anyone in the SMB industry who is looking to share best practices with other like-minded individuals in their circle, he did add that the ideal candidate is an individual whose company has revenues between $500,000 to $2 million per year, has invested in a PSA infrastructure, and has at least one layer of management within their business. “These are the types of “emerging partner” companies that usually thrive in a Board-  environment,” he said.

As a member of SMB Nation Board of Advisor Groups, IT professionals can expect to achieve the following:

  • Learn from the mistakes and successes of other IT service providers.
  • Set ambitious, achievable targets for your company.
  • Learn effective management/leadership methodologies.
  • Improve personal and professional life balance
  • Discover new ideas that have already been successfully implemented by others.
  • Improve the capacity of your sales, service and other managers.
  • Stay on the cutting edge of the latest IT industry trends.
  • Network with professionals in your industry.

Furthermore, to provide a true granular effect for each member, SMB Nation Board of Advisor Groups will be designated by three separate categories of like-minded individuals, as outlined below:
We are offering three distinct pathways:

 

*   Board of Advisors: Accelerate your Cloud and Mobility Practice

*   This is a 5 session, 4 month program

*   Board of Advisors:  Business Acceleration Program

*   This  Owners Board is a yearlong Program

*   Board of Advisors: Sales and Marketing Acceleration Program

*   This is a 10 Month program focused for sales and marketing teams

Contact SMB Nation for exact details of each Board, all programs will begin in 2014.

“This is not your grandfather’s Board of Advisors group,” said Harry Brelsford, CEO, SMB Nation. “What differentiates SMB Nation Board of Advisor  Groups from other groups like this in our industry is that we will be investing forward in focus areas such as Cloud, Office 365 so that it’s not overwhelming and cumbersome to you, the IT professional and MSP. We will focus on helping you to look at alternative ways to help you successfully run your business. And we’re open membership encourages participants from all walks of life and lifestyles.”

To learn more about SMB Nation Board of Advisors, and to have one of our representatives contact you with more information, go to www.SMBNation.com and select Contact Us.

About SMB Nation

SMB Nation is a community targeted at the small and medium business (SMB) channel partner/reseller/consulting/VAR community.  SMB Nation spreads the knowledge of SMB technology trends through its conferences, books, print magazine, online services, and worldwide seminars, workshops and accredited Pocket MBA certificate.  As an active participant in the technology community, SMB Nation has a long history of enthusiastic advocacy and evangelism. The SMB Nation tribe exceeds 40,000 followers worldwide. For more information, visit www.SMBNation.com, www.O365Nation.com and www.Telephonation.com. Follow us on Twitter @SMBNation, and join our Facebook page at: www.facebook.com/SMBNation.

For more information, contact:
Harry Brelsford
Founder and Chairman
SMB Nation
206-201-2944

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

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The week that was – Sept. 22, 2014

It’s easy to think that the only IT news worth knowing to start the week starts with the new iPhone 6, continues with Microsoft layoffs (probably carefully timed to coincide with the iPhone news so it would get drowned out of the news cycle) and finishes with the new iPhone again. That would be a misperception though. Sure, what Apple CEO Tim Cook gushed about his “better in every way” and “best iPhone yet” device which sold more than 4 million pre-orders in the first 24 hrs of availability – making a moderate splash. But other things did happen this week in IT Land.

Microsoft to buy Minecraft maker for $2.5B

It wasn’t all dark news from Microsoft this week. The company made the widely rumored $2.5 microsoft logo-100029828-gallerybillion deal to acquire Sweden’s Mojang, maker of the popular game Minecraft, official. Minecraft has about 100 million users worldwide and made about $100 million in profit last year, making the price tag a bit surprising. However, the growing popularity of the game may have posed a threat to Microsoft’s Xbox market leading some industry observers to think that the move was a defensive one. One must also consider the value of the connected community Minecraft has built. In and of themselves connected communities are inherently valuable. Amazon paid $970 million for Twitch and its million-odd users recently. The majority of Mojang’s 40 employees will join Microsoft Studios, which brought you Halo, Forza and Fable. However, the people that actually created Minecraft, Markus Persson, Carl Manneh and Jakob Porser, will be leaving to start new projects.

Home Depot lifts lid on investigation into massive breach

The fallout from the Home Depot data breach continued to rain down this week, with the home reno home depotretailer issuing a statement detailing the attacks, the measures the company has taken to address the weakness and the cost of those measures. To start with, Home Depot failed to properly deploy data encryption capabilities, opening a window of attack that gave criminals access to as many as 56 million credit and debit cards between April and September 2014.

According to the statement, the investigation discovered a new malware, customized to avoid detection. “The malware had not been seen previously in other attacks, according to Home Depot’s security partners. To protect customer data until the malware was eliminated, any terminals identified with malware were taken out of service, and the company quickly put in place other security enhancements.”

The whole incident should serve as a massive lesson for retailers and IT services pros who support them. Expenses related to this breach will top $62 million, with about $27 million coming back from the company’s data breach insurance. The final tally has yet to be counted though, with additional expenses coming from paying banks and processors for credit card fraud and card replacement costs.

SAP acquires Concur for $8.3Bsap-logo

SAP announced plans to buy Seattle’s Concur Technologies for $8.3 billion. Concur makes a SaaS-based software package that manages corporate travel and entertainment expenses – including travel booking, corporate credit cards, reimbursements and audits – and runs TripIt, a popular mobile travel organizer. Details about the deal are sketchy as the deal hasn’t closed. The two companies are expecting regulatory approval by the end of the calendar year.

Cisco buys both Memoir Systems and Metacloud

In separate deals, networking giant Cisco announced plans to purchase Memoir Systems, a privately held semiconductor memory vendor, and Metacloud, which develops and sells OpenStack-based private clouds. Financial terms weren’t disclosed for either deal. Santa Clara, Calif.-based Memoir Systems sells embedded memory solutions that make vendors' ASICs faster and more programmable. According to Cisco the Memoir technology will accelerate the memory access of its ASICs and the speeds of its switches, routers and other networking equipment. The Metacloud acquisition is expected to drive Cisco’s Intercloud play. Metacloud, based in Pasadena, Calif., was founded in 2011 and claims to deliver a full public cloud experience – including all the self-service capabilities, OpenStack APIs and integrated developer tools – only with the security and control of a private environment. Cisco's Metacloud announcement plans comes only a few days after HP announced it will acquire Eucalyptus, which provides of open-source software for building private clouds.

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Microsoft cuts 2,100 more jobs in phase two of its layoff plan

 

microsoft logo-100029828-galleryMicrosoft pulled the trigger on another 2,100 employees today, executing the second wave of its record layoff plan that will eventually cut 18,000 positions – 14 percent of its global workforce. The first 13,000 cuts happened in July when the software giant first announced the plan.

Today’s cuts, 747 of which strike the Seattle area, are being made across all roles and teams as CEO Satya Nadella attempts to simplify engineering operations and management processes, as detailed in a July memoto staff. In the memo he said the goal was to have “fewer layers of management, both top down and sideways, to accelerate the flow of information and decision making.”

Of the 18,000 total cuts 12,500 hit the recently acquired Nokia division – an acquisition driven by former CEO Steve Ballmer which Nadella is widely reputed to have opposed.

Also apparently affected by today’s moves is the company’s Mountain View, Calif.-based research facility, Microsoft Research Silicon Valley. The lab, which opened in August 2001 employs more than 75 researchers focused on distributed computing, including Derek Murray who tweeted that the lab would close this Friday, Sept. 18.

With today’s cuts, Microsoft still has 2,900 positions to eliminate – most of which the company says will be resolved by the end of the calendar year. The layoffs are expected to be complete by the end of Microsoft’s fiscal year end in June.

 

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The week that was – September 14, 2014

 

It’s been a tremendously busy week in the IT world. We’re going to start with IT Slowdown Day. You may have noticed some of your connections taking longer to load on Wednesday. This was the result of a one-day protest by many popular websites, including Mozilla, Netflix, Vimeo and our friends at AVG, who displayed a number of symbolic “loading” graphics to show you what your Internet might look like if the big Cable companies win the right to extort companies by constricting bandwidth. The goal of the protest was to encourage you to contact lawmakers and tell them to support Net Neutrality before the FCC’s Sept. 15 deadline for public comments. This is an issue that should be near and dear to your hearts. After all, how many new clients are you – an IT expert – going to land if every prospect visiting your website has to wait while your site loads? Either you don’t know how to build a website or you aren’t big and successful enough to pay for decent bandwidth. Either way you are screwed. You can find out more at https://www.battleforthenet.com/.

Autotask finally adds RMM with CentraStage

Autotask logoNot too long ago speculation was rife about Autotask and RMM. Connectwise picked up Labtech, Kaseya got acquired and private equity bought into N-Able. As someone working at Level Platforms at the time I recall many conversations about the way the professional services automation market seemed to be following the same evolutionary path Enterprise Resource Planning systems did. Essentially we expected to be using Autotask business cards before too long. Then AVG acquired LPI and East Greenbush, NY-based Autotask was left without an RMM option. So what were they going to do? We continued to speculate, as did many others in the industry, but nothing happened. Nothing happened for so long that the conversation went from who-will-they to will-they to have-they-missed-the-boat?

This week they finally did, picking up UK-based cloud RMM player CentraStage – possibly kicked into motion by the company’s new paymasters, Vista Equity Partners (which bought Autotask in June). Autotask and CentraStage already have a relationship, with CentraStage being one of 20 RMM packages integrated into Autotask’s PSA platform, and so over the past couple of years an increasing degree of intimacy has developed. According to Autotask, those other integrations will not change in any way and MSPs who rely on them won’t suffer, but the CentraStage acquisition – which is expected to close within three week – will drive a much deeper integration and introduce increased management capabilities. For example, customers who work with both companies will be able to receive a single invoice and engage with a single support team. The exact nature of those technology integrations are still being worked out.

WAN-as-a-service startup, VeloCloud, launches first partner program

velocloudLos Altos, Calif.-based VeloCloud launched its first channel partner program. The startup recently raised $21 million in financing and is using some of that money to kick start is sales efforts – effort the company says will be entirely channel-based. Thus the new VeloCloud Partner Program is aimed at MSPs and IT solution providers who want to deliver cloud-based WANs to midsize and large enterprise customers. The VeloCloud technology is designed to extend the benefits of cloud and virtualization to the enterprise or branch office WAN. To start with, VeloCloud is recruiting partners with footprint in specific vertical markets, including retail, hospitality, engineering, and mining and gas. Like most partner programs, the VeloCloud iteration will be tiered (Platinum, Gold and Silver) with perks like MDF and discounts improving as partners move up the ranks based on their VeloCoud sales volumes.

Xerox gets friendly with the channel

xeroxXerox wants to be more channel-friendly and in keeping with that the Norwalk, Conn.-based printer vendor rolled out a series of changes to its hardware, software and services lines that it hopes will help drive partner revenues. Traditionally, Xerox has earned a reputation for neglecting the channel in favor of its direct sales efforts – this despite the fact that the channel accounts for more than 50 percent of the company’s sales. According to John Corley, who took over as Xerox’s channel chief just a few days earlier, the company wants to see that number climb into the 65-70 percent range.

ConnectKey 1.5 --Xerox is adding four new printers to the ConnectKey platform. The new A4 devices are a direct response to demand from partners.

Personalized Application BuilderA new Authorized Developer Program will extend the company’s Personal Application Builder beyond ISVs to include channel partners. Going forward Xerox's 10,000-odd channel partners will be able to build custom applications for their customers and become certified to sell those applications to other partners.

Xerox PageConnect Services – Xerox PageConnect Services is expanding. Managed print services is definitely making a splash in the market and this program, which Xerox first announced in April as a MPS-oriented rebrand of its Basic Print Services, is designed to provide a way for channel partners to provide related Xerox offerings.

Xerox Small Office Savings Plan – This innovative new plan (Xerox claims it’s the first of its kind) channel partners can give SMB customers a free printer if they sign up for a plan that will deliver consumable supplies like toner and paper and services for a monthly fee ranging from $59 to $149.

 

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Leonard Dimiceli on the Evolution of SMB IT Pros

 By Alex Anderson, Contributing Writer, SMB Nation, with contribution from Heather Lawrentz, Writer, SMB Nation

nuvotera

Harry and I recently had the great opportunity to meet with Leonard Dimiceli, General Manager of Nuvotera (formerly SpamSoap). Leonard spoke with us about the rebranding, as well as his views on the evolution of the SMB IT Channel.

To begin, it’s important to note that the Nuvotera brand came about in November of 2013. The company had been evolving before this however, but, as Leonard explained to Harry and me, they didn’t want to put out the image that they only did spam monitoring. In fact, Nuvotera has a wide range of non-spam products as well, including archiving and encryption. The company name itself means the “Next Big Thing” or “Groundbreaking,” and Leonard’s team has been hard at work to live up to this moniker. Nuvotera is no longer an OEM, but rather a value-added SaaS distributor.

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The week that was – September 1, 2014

Microsoft promises O365 Fast Track won’t eat your lunchmicrosoft logo-100029828-gallery

Microsoft kicked off the week with a promise that the new Fast Track O365 services, which will include free remote “onboarding” and support to some customers starting in early September, won’t cut into partner business. Microsoft also announced plans to provide free email migrations to Office 365 through a special "adoption offer" that starts Sept. 1 and will run until March 31st.

Naturally, Microsoft Partners who make their living charging for those services have expressed concern over the fact that the channel leader is essentially eating their lunch. In response to the outcry, Microsoft says that it will only do email migration work that can be easily automated and done remotely. This includes processes like domain configuration, service provisioning and identity-related tasks. Perhaps we should be inferring that Microsoft channel partners have never heard of remote monitoring and management (RMM) solutions and don’t do anything remotely. In any case, Microsoft promises to advise customers who choose the free Fast Track services to work with a partner anyway, especially if they have complicated environments. The company also ensures partners that Sharepoint and Lync will be unaffected by the new fast Track services and so represent areas of opportunity for partners.

This was promptly followed by news that Huawei will no longer produce Windows Phone devices. Richard Yu, who runs Huawei's consumer business group, told The Wall Street Journal that Windows Phone Devices have been a money pit for Huawei. "We have tried using the Windows Phone OS, but it has been difficult to persuade consumers to buy a Windows phone," said Yu. "It wasn't profitable for us. We were losing money for two years on those phones. So for now we've decided to put any releases of new Windows phones on hold."

AVG releases new O365 service module

AVG logoSpeaking of remote monitoring and management, AVG Technologies has released a new service module for its Managed Workplace tool (formerly Level Platforms Managed Workplace) designed to streamline remote management functions for customers using O365. With the new offering MSPs no longer have to log into and out of different applications to view essential Office 365-related information. According to the company, the new module will enable MSPs to remotely deliver the five most popular management tasks: password resets; tracking mailbox usage; viewing mailbox quotas, policies and memberships; setting alerts for license expiration; and checking up-to-date information on subscriptions, usage and license status.

HP partners with Avaya to deliver UC-as-a-Service

avaya logoAvaya and Hewlett-Packard have partnered up on a five year deal that will allow HP to include Avaya's hosted unified communications and contact center offerings in its HP Helion cloud services suite. Through the partnership more than half of Avaya’s Private Cloud Services group – including elements of its outsourced communications and managed services operations – will join HP's Enterprise Services division. According to Avaya, the partnership will provide the company with the strength and depth to meet sharply rising demand for its cloud-based UC and CC solutions. HP’s presence in 166 countries compared to Avaya’s in 55 is a significant part of the deal, as the deal opens up many new markets for the telecommunications vendor. Avaya and HP partners will be able to resell both UC and CC service offerings delivered as part of the HP Helion platform. HP Enterprise Services will pick up the service delivery for a large part of Avaya's Private Cloud Services unit.

Nutanix raises $140M in funding

nutanix-logo-transparent-hirez300San Jose, Calif.-based Nutanix, which develops hyper-converged infrastructure technology, has closed a new round of funding worth $140 million it expects will lead to an IPO – possibly as soon as next year. While the company declined to identify the investors, a report in Reuters, cited an unnamed source that named them as Fidelity Investments and Wellington Management. Nutanix will use the funds to deepen its R&D and Sales teams so it can keep up in what is shaping up to be a highly competitive market. In the last few weeks alone SimpliVity, VMware, Maxta and Overland, who have all made major hyper-converged infrastructure-related announcements recently. According to the company, the new investment brings total funding to about $312 million and gives Nutanix an implied valuation of about $2 billion.

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Getting more out of webinars as a sales tool

 

on24 logo 475756When Laurie Speaks took over Marketing and Communications for Retail Solutions Inc., (RSi) one of the first things she noticed when doing her budgeting was that the demand for travel from sales and marketing was significantly higher than she could support.

Mountain View, Calif.-based RSi tracks point of sale data in real time and provides actionable demand data and predictive analytics for the Retail and Consumer Packaged Goods industries and Speaks needed to find a way to deliver the value the organization would get from investing in all those trade shows and conferences focussed on IT for the retail sector without actually spending the money required to attend them all.

The solution she came up with was to use webinars to deliver the messaging and drive sales. The only problem was, as those of us in the IT industry know, webinars need to be done just right or they are a waste of time.

Webinars have become almost ubiquitous in the IT industry. They have become a primary method of disseminating information, training, lead generation and qualification. They are far from perfect though. Many are little more than static, overly lengthy and boring. How do you get people to sit still and pay attention while you pitch them for an hour? Moreover, how do you make your webinar one that people will want to attend instead of the other guy’s?

One company I used to work for ran two such webinars each week, and several more focussed on training. A significant part of the junior sales team’s job was simply to get people to show up. Characterised by unidirectional barrages of rapid fire value messages that would – hopefully – stick and resonate with the prospect, those webinars were in a constant state of revision as we worked to come up with new things that would get people to stay until the end. (“We’ll give you a free gift, but you’ll have to email us a code we’ll give you at the end to collect.”) A lot of follow up was required to make sure we got our message across and determine the quality of the lead before hopefully closing business.

Like I said, far from perfect. If Speaks was going to deliver the value demanded of her she needed to find a way to make her webinars do a lot more than simply give people data. They needed to collect data too. Fortunately for Speaks, webinars have become more sophisticated over the past few years. Current approaches include numerous approaches to maintain engagement and connect directly to third-party applications like Marketo that help capture and use lead qualification data.

“A lot of our focus is around demand generation and customer engagement,” says Tom Masotto, VP Product Marketing & Business Development for ON24. San Francisco-based ON24 develops and markets webcasting and virtual event and environmentsolutions.

“A lot of organizations are using webinars to identify new opportunities for the company. Typically they use it at the top of the funnel, doing the lead gen but we’ve seen a trend of late in the use of webinars throughout the process, right through to the closing processes.

ON24 captures about 30 different data points, says Masotto. Did someone register? Did they attend? How long were they on for? Did they attend a live presentation or a recorded one? Did they actively participate (respond to polls, ask questions, etc.)? All these elements and many more combine to give a much more reliable measure of attendee engagement than previous presentation models.

According to Speaks, RSi has seen measurable results from using the tool.

When comparing webinar reach in 2013 and 2014 we’ve “seen an uplift in both registration conversion rate and attendee conversion rate. Our current registration conversion rate averages 98.12% and our attendee conversion rate averages 53 percent.” Prior to adopting On24 and integrating it with Marketo those numbers were around 90% registration conversion and closer to 45% attendee conversion.

As noteworthy as those stats are, Speaks says she is most impressed with the engagement results – something that is critical to RSi. “We’ve done a number of different things with our webinars to keep them engaged; to keep them in the environment. We do polling, give points, award prizes. We have an average of keeping them in there for 54 minutes out of a 56-60 minute webinar. Usually people stay as long as the Q&A at least.

There has also been a significant increase in the number of questions being asked by attendees, suggesting more engagement and attention. “That information is a perfect lead-in for our Sales team and really gives them the additional insight on whether or not they have a qualified lead.”

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The week that was – August 24, 2014

 

Autotask adds sales tool

Autotask logoEast Greenbush, N.Y.-based PSA vendor Autotask unveiled the new Autotask Opportunity Assessment/Sales Process tool – a new element aimed at helping channel partners increase their closure rates with better opportunity and sales process management. The new addition to the Autotask suite provides enhanced visibility into the sales pipeline, right from prospect identification through to deal completion. Additionally, the tool provides key analytics and intelligence. According to Jake Carroll, Autotask’s vice president of strategic account sales, the new solution will take a lot of the guesswork out of the sales process. Through process standardization, sales organizations will be able to gather and apply intelligence that will not only help provide more internal structure and identify opportunities, but also deliver better prospect qualification so sales staff can concentrate their attention and energy on the best prospects. The new tool will be included in the Autotask Ultimate Bundle or can be added on separately.

Bluebeam invests in Marketing support for Partners

Bluebeam-logo-verticalPasadena, Calif.-based Bluebeam Software has been investing in Marketing and Sales resources to help support channel partners pushing its document collaboration tools into highly technical verticals like manufacturing and oil and gas. Bluebeam’s Revu 12.5 competes against the likes of Adobe Acrobat and other PDF creation tools. The company has quadrupled its marketing staff from one to four people, adding much needed bandwidth that will make it possible to provide partners with vertically tailored pitches and promotional materials. The added strength is already making itself apparent on the industry conference circuit, where Bluebeam is now able to raise its profile. Bluebeam attended 60 events by the end of the first quarter, demonstrating its technology, answering questions and recruiting channel partners, equaling the entirety of its 2013 travel schedule. Currently Bluebeam takes in about 40 percent of its revenue through the channel, but says it would like to see that number closer to the 70 percent range.

IDC: SDN reaching market adoption threshold

IDCAccording to new research from IT analysis firm IDC, software-defined networking (SDN) is rapidly approaching an inflection point where it will become mainstream technology. IDC forecasts released last week have the global SDN market – which combines physical network infrastructure, controller and network virtualization software, SDN network security services and SDN-related professional services – growing from $960 million in 2014 to more than $8 billion by 2018. That’s a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 89.4 percent! Moreover, while large cloud services providers have been the early adopters, IDC expects its SDN to see similar traction in the enterprise segment. And it’s news that will have the likes of Cisco and VMware salivating as they have already made significant investments in SDN – VMware with its NSX software overlay platform, and Cisco with the Application Centric Infrastructure.

VMware acquires CloudVolumes

VMware logo blk RGB 72dpiSpeaking of VMware, the Palo Alto, CA-based virtualization vendor acquired CloudVolumes, a startup that specializes in delivering virtual applications to desktops. According to a blog post by Kit Colbert, CTO of End-User Computing at VMware, app delivery is often "challenging and cumbersome." CloudVolumes has developed technology which addresses the numerous glitches that crop up by splitting a Windows instance into separate pieces to which apps can be installed with ease and speed. If is delivers as advertised, the CloudVolumes technology – which is applicable in both virtual and physical environments – will make it possible for technicians to add new or upgraded apps on the fly on running desktops obviating the need to schedule a service outage to perform system upgrades. VMware plans to integrate the new technology with its Horizon desktop virtualization platform. The financials of the deal were not but VMware said in a press release that the transaction will not be material to its financial performance. To date CloudVolumes, which was established in 2011, has raised $4.4 million through two funding rounds.

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Microsoft Azure, users suffer “service interruption”

windows-azure-logoThe difficulties keep rolling for Microsoft Azure. Many Azure services are down just days after suffering a problem that left users in the Japan East region without services and management portal log-in problems and performance issues in numerous other regions.

Additionally, last week saw a global problem with Microsoft’s Visual Studio Online service. Visual Studio Online runs on Azure however, the company said that outage was the result of bugs in the app itself, rather than Azure.

The current outage started at 17:49 UTC, hitting Cloud Services and virtual Machines in multiple regions and has since expanded to Backup, Service Bus, Site Recovery, Azure HDInsight and Azure Mobile Services – all of which are experiencing full service interruptions in multiple regions.

According to the most recent update (6:12 pm ET/3:12 PT) on the Azure Status page:

"Virtual Machines, Cloud Services, Mobile Services, Service Bus, Site Recovery, HDInsight, Websites and StorSimple - Multiple regions - Partial Service Interruption

“Starting at 18 Aug 2014 17:49 UTC, a small subset of customers are experiencing connectivity issues to some Azure Services which may include Cloud Services, Virtual Machines, Websites, Automation, Service Bus, Backup, Site Recovery, HDInsight, Mobile Services, StorSimple and possible other Azure Services in multiple regions. Recovery continues underway across affected regions. Customers in many regions began to experience service restoration.”

Media inquiries to Microsoft are being met with polite “we-know-there’s-a-problem-our-engineers-are-working-on-it-don’t-call-us-we’ll-call-you” messages.

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The week that was – August 10, 2014

Quantum acquires cloud backup vendor Symform

QuantumSan Jose, Calif.-based Quantum announced plans to acquire Symform’s cloud storage technology and the associated development team, broadening its cloud-based backup offerings. While best known for its tape and disk storage solutions, Quantum customers have been asking for cloud backup capabilities, a request Symform’s technology can meet while adding cloud archiving and file sync and share. Symform’sdistributed cloud backup technology protects a customer's data by breaking it into disparate pckets which are then encrypted and distributed using the excess capacity on multiple customers' storage devices.

Gartner releases Magic Quadrant for UC 2014

Microsoft and Cisco maintained their lead in this year’s Unified Communications Magic Quadrant while Avaya and Mitel – thanks largely to its Astra acquisition – rounded out the Leader’s quad. The annual vendor ranking report focuses on on-prem UC equipment while a separate report addresses cloud-based UC offerings. There is an analysis of each vendor’s offerings and their relevance to the market. While Gartner is primarily focussed on enterprise deployments, the report has some significance for the channel as several of these organizations, including all the leaders along with ShorTel and NEC, have strong channel programs and SMB presence.

  • Leaders: Microsoft, Cisco, Mitel (from Visionaries in 2013), Avaya.
  • Visionaries: Unify (from Leaders in 2013), IBM (from Challengers in 2013)
  • Challengers: NEC, Alcatel-Lucent
  • Niche Players: ShoreTel, Interactive Intelligence, Huawei (from Challengers in 2013)

Symantec narrows the field, plans September CEO announcement

Symantec logo horizontal 2010During its Q1 earnings call Mountain View, Calif.-based Symantec told Wall Street analysts its search for a new CEO is almost over and the company plans to make an announcement in September. Michael Brown, who has been serving as interim CEO since Steve Bennett was dismissed, said the search committee “has met with a number of highly qualified candidates” and is now down to the final vetting process. As for fiscal performance, earnings were up 50 percent for the quarter, generating a quarterly profit of $236 million, beating analyst expectations.

Force 3 Names New CEO, Lays Stake In Federal Networking And Security

Force 3In other executive news, Crofton, Md.-based Force 3 announced Mike Greaney is going to be its new CEO. Mike Greaney, who is being promoted from his previous position as President of Force 3 Federal, says he wants to see the company, currently known as a federal VAR, to carve out a specific identity and specialization in networking and security. Going forward, Greaney says Force 3 will transition to delivering next gen networking with SDN and cloud. Along with networking, security is going to be critical, especially for the federal government clients that make up 95 percent of Force 3's customers.

BlackBerry turns corner?

blackberry-logo1According to an internal memo reported by Reuters, Waterloo, Ontario-based BlackBerry has finished shedding staff and will even hire in certain departments as the company looks to make up ground in the mobility market. “We have completed the restructuring notification process, and the workforce reduction that began three years ago is now behind us,” BlackBerry CEO John Chen said in the memo. “More importantly, barring any unexpected downturns in the market, we will be adding headcount in certain areas such as product development, sales and customer service, beginning in modest numbers.” Over the past three years, Blackberry has laid off 60 percent of its workforce while its share of the smartphone market dropped from 19 percent in 2010 to less than one percent in the most recent quarter (as reported by IDC). Chen, who brought a reputation for turning around troubled companies to the job when he took over in November, assured employees in the memo that Blackberry will meet its goal of having positive cash flow by the end of the fiscal year.

Security researcher cautions AWS customers

Organizations using Amazon Web Services customers should pay careful attention to the security architecture they use, warns Andres Riancho. An application security expert who leads the development and maintenance of web application security scanning project w3af, Riancho warned attendees of the 2014 Black Hat USA Briefings that cloud security problems, including serious breaches, can come from system configuration weaknesses and common web application vulnerabilities. Making a simple configuration error opens an attack vector that can enable an attacker to control virtual instances and access critical resources stored at AWS or any cloud hosting service. Last year vulnerability management vendor Rapid7 conducted a study which discovered thousands of publicly visible files, including account credentials and sales records. “It is my impression that this is not Amazon’s fault that these issues exist,” Riancho said. “Most of the vulnerabilities this year are from misconfigurations or small things where the developers working on applications made mistakes.”

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SkyKick lands $3M in financing

SkyKick 300x300Like the Cloud technologies fueling the market, cloud migration is creating major opportunities for IT services companies and their investors. Thus it is unsurprising that SkyKick, a Seattle-based start-up that specializes in Office 365 migrations, has secured $3 million in funding – bringing total investment in the company to $7.2 million.

“This round will help us reach thousands more partners around the globe,” said SkyKick co-Founder and co-CEO Todd Schwartz in a statement.

The company plans to use the money to double its staff from 40 to 80 people and to seize the global opportunity for automating Office 365 migrations, including the sales, planning, migration and management.

To date, SkyKick has helped thousands of IT solution providers and distributors like Ingram Micro and SYNNEX Corporation move thousands of businesses to Office 365. Its founding team consists of co-CEOs Evan Richman and Todd Schwartz, who held various leadership positions on Microsoft's Office and Bing teams, and CTO Brad Younge, a member of the founding team at Drugstore.com.

This rounds also adds several strategic private equity investors as well as some notable angel investors such as investor/advisor to Facebook, Twitter and Urber, Tim Ferris, former Qwikki COO, Navin Thukkaram, and Ironfire Capital.

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The week that was – July, 28th, 2014

Good news for the IT channel in Spiceworks’ State of IT Survey

SpiceWorksAccording to the most recent edition of Spiceworks’ annual State of IT report IT budgets are on the rise and will drive increased adoption of the cloud – and especially Backup and Disaster Recovery services – over the next year. More than 1,100 IT pros from North America and EMEA responded to the survey by the Austin, Texas-based IT support company, which found that almost half of respondents (42 percent) plan to increase their annual spending over the next year, while only 16 percent expected a decrease in spending. This will lead to hiring for 40 percent of respondents. The survey also dug into what trends are currently driving business and presenting the most promising opportunities in the IT industry. Cloud services are at the top of the list with 65 percent of North American respondents saying they use the cloud while the number for EMEA was 56 percent. Furthermore, eight percent of companies plan to adopt cloud services within the next six months. Only 27 percent of respondents indicated that the cloud is not going to be part of their immediate future. The survey also found that mobility is not losing any momentum, with 68 percent claiming they already have corporate BYOD policies in place. Of those, 60% supporting employee-owned smartphones, 51% support employee-owned tablets and 38 percent support employees’ laptops.

Latest Catbird release provides OpenStack security integration

catbirdScotts Valley, Calif.-based Catbird released the latest version of its eponymous security policy automation and enforcement suite. While previous iterations of the solution only offered logic-based security for VMware networks, the 6.0 release adds the ability to protect OpenStack powered cloud services. The Catbird solution is designed to work with the virtualized infrastructure typical of today’s networks and clouds – filling a hole the company says is left by firewalls and intrusion detection systems that still function the same way they did 10 years ago. According to the company this is typical of 90 percent of its customers. The company expects the next five years mark a major shift from physical to virtual security systems that can match the automation, agility and awareness of the rest of the data center stack, delivering reduced costs more effective security and flexibility. Catbird is currently recruiting VARs and MSPs as it builds a channel program.

Microsoft CEO Nadella talks transition

microsoft logo-100029828-galleryThe conversation during Microsoft’s Q4 earnings call was all about transition as the company posted strong growth numbers. "On an operating basis, we grew revenue 10 percent and operating income 12 percent," said CEO Satya Nadella. "We accelerated our commercial cloud business to a $4.4 billion annual run rate. And perhaps more importantly, we made bold and disciplined decisions to define our core as a productivity and platform company for the mobile first, cloud first world."

The company reported revenue of $23.38 billion for Q4, up more than 17 percent year on year, while net income dropped more than 7 percent to $4.61 billion. The numbers for the fiscal year end were also strong, with revenues of $86.83 billion, up more than 11 percent from the previous year, generating net income of $22.07 billion for the year, up 1 percent.

Last week the company announced it would lay off 18,000 workers – 12,500 from Nokia, which it acquired before Nadella took over and over his rumoured objections. This will lead to a restructuring charge of $1.1 billion to $1.6 billion which it will be realized in fiscal 2015.

Nadella made several product announcements during the call. For example, the company will not be divesting its Xbox division, something called for by some investors. Of particular interest to the channel, Nadella announced plans to "streamline the next version of Windows from three operating systems into one, single converged operating system for screens of all sizes." The company currently sells and supports different OS’ for PC’s (Windows 8.1), The Surface tablet (Windows RT) and smartphones (Windows Phone).

VMware beats street with strong license, services

VMware logo blk RGB 72dpiLike several other tech companies that recently announced their numbers (e.g.: Blackberry) VMware beat analysts’ performance expectations with strong revenues for Q2 2014. The results were led by strong growth in both licensing and services and continue to lay the foundation for VMware's three targeted growth areas: software-defined data centers, hybrid clouds and end-user computing. Q2 revenues were $1.46 billion, up 17 percent from a year earlier and significantly higher than the 1.35 billion expected by Wall Street analysts. VMware also reported GAAP earnings of $167 million (38 cents per share), down from $245 million (57 cents per share), a decline the company attributed to its acquisition of mobile device management developer AirWatch in February.

Juniper Networks to divest Junos Pulse suite for $250 million

JuniperJuniper Networks announced it will sell its Junos Pulse mobile security portfolio to Siris Capital for $250 million. "Pulse is a good asset. The issue is that it's not in line with our strategy, which is very much focused on cloud and High-IQ networks and how those markets are shaping," Juniper CEO Shaygan Kheradipir said during an earnings call with analysts. New York City-based Siris Capital is a private equity firm concentrated on technology investments. Both companies promised to work together to ensure customers and partners are fully supported through the transition. Juniper posted Q2 sales of $1.2 billion, a 7 percent increase from the same period last year, while net income for the quarter increased 125 percent to $221.1 million. Product revenue for Junos Pulse fell 21 percent from $19.3 million to $15.9 million, while the portfolio raked in and additional $15.5 million in services.

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Get ready for SysAdmin's Day

SpiceWorksIt pros, especially those who provide any measure of tech support to “regular” people, are usually an underappreciated lot. I have a friend who regularly fills her Facebook wall with rants about how stupid “regular” people are and about how they blame her whenever they screw up their technology.

“Of course your keyboard stopped working when you spilled your coffee in it.”

“No you didn’t delete the Internet.”

“It means any key not the any key.”

“You utter and complete dolt!”

I made that last one up, but I’m sure she thinks it every day. I’m equally sure it’s common throughout the tech support community.

Anyhow, there is some evidence suggesting that IT people, especially tech support, occupy a rung on the social and professional ladder somewhere between Comcast retention reps and lawyers.

That’s why several IT focussed companies, including Symantec, Rackspace, Canon and Spiceworks, have been trumpeting SysAdmin Day. In fact, Spiceworks has expanded the concept into a Christmas-like season with a 12 Days of Sysmas concept, complete with daily giveaways and contests.

Founded in 2000 by Ted Kekatos, SysAdmin Day is an annual day of appreciation for IT pros.

“My inspiration for the holiday was a print ad that HP was running showing their new model at the time, an HP LaserJet 4000 printer,” Kekatos told Spiceworks in a 2011 interview. “I had just bought several of them. The ad showed a sysadmin sitting in his cube. Outside of his cube was a line of users bringing fruit baskets and flowers. I tore out the ad and showed it to my coworkers. I thought ‘Hey this is great! A sysadmin is getting flowers, fruit and wine from his users!’ So that was how System Administrator Appreciation Day 1.0 got started.”

Kekatos went home and registered the name and put up a simple website picking the last Friday in July because it “seemed like a good day to have a company party with ice cream and cake.”

“We’re all about IT pros,” says Jen Slaski, Exec. Director, Marketing Communications for the Austin, Texas-based Spiceworks, adding that the company which provides networking and solutions for IT staffers has been doing something to celebrate the event every year since it opened its doors in 2006.

This year you can download all kinds of cool SysAdmin Day things from Spiceworks, including:

sysmas-shirt-renderThe company also ran a contest for a funny T-shirt (they ordered 250 and had 4000 entries in the first day), is running a streeter called IT Ambush – one of those go-out-and-interview-the-common-man features like Jay Leno used to do (or Rick Mercer’s Talking to Americans if you live north of the 49th Parallel) – on itsYouTube channelthat asks those “regular” people what their SysAdmin does for them, and will live stream a special SysAdmin Day edition of its next CTRL+ALT+TECH episode at 10am CDT Friday, July 25th. (You can find out how to tune in here or, if you’re in Austin, you can attend in person and be part of the live studio audience. Lunch will be served.)

It’s not shocking that Spiceworks has embraced the event so vigorously. Today there are about 5 million IT workers in the Spiceworks network (out of a total of about 15 million sys admins globally), collectively supporting about 104 million workers in 1.8 million companies, and influencing about $570 billion of the global $3.8 trillion IT industry.

The whole thing has been a huge success for the company, which provides networking and management solutions for the IT community. “That’s one of the cool things about this,” says Slaski. “We came up with the whole concept for our existing users. But now we are getting new people coming into our community and participating. We’ve also seen other tech vendors jumping on the bandwagon and doing their own promotions around it.”

So, to everyone who has provided me with tech support over the years, Happy Sysadmin Day. It’s your day so kick back with a beer and put your feet up. But make it a quick one okay? My computer keeps showing me this unhappy face emoticon on a blue screen and a “your computer needs to restart” message:

BSoD in Windows 8

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The week that was – July 21st, 2014 – The WPC Edition

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Cisco, Microsoft announce data center initiative

Cisco and Microsoft announced a three year partnership to improve integration across their cloud and data center offerings. Under the agreement the tech giants will enhance the integration between their portfolios and streamline incentives for their mutual channel partners to go to market with joint Cisco and Microsoft technologies such as Cisco's Unified Computing System (UCS), Cisco's Nexus switching line and Microsoft Cloud OS solutions including Windows Server, System Center, SQL Server and Microsoft Azure. The deal builds on a 10-month pilot program announced last year that was expected to drive more collaboration between the two company’s partner communities by providing them with more training resources on bundled Cisco-Microsoft solutions. The new program will kick off with a joint initiative aimed at migrating Windows Server 2003 customers to Windows 2012 R2 on the Cisco UCS platform. Microsoft will end Windows Server 2003 support on July 14, 2015. The companies' partner incentive programs will be aligned as part of the new agreement, a key component of which is the new Cisco Referral Program (CRP), which will reward Microsoft partners for selling integrated Microsoft and Cisco data center solutions.

NetApp, Microsoft partnership extends private storage to Microsoft Azure

netapp logoNetApp took the wrapper off a new solution that will extend on-premise data directly to the Microsoft Azure public cloud as part of a hybrid cloud environment. This is the second offering in NetApp’s Private Storage for Cloud initiative, which uses direct, secure connections to public cloud storage to combine the best features of on-prem storage and public cloud storage. The program was unveiled in 2012 with a similar engagement with Amazon Web Services. According to the company, the idea is to provide customers with the flexibility and cost savings of public clouds with the control and privacy of NetApp private storage. The new offering uses Microsoft Azure ExpressRoutetechnology to create private connections between customer IT infrastructure and Azure data centers, just as NetApp Private Storage for AWS uses Amazon's AWS Direct Connect technology to accomplish the same task. Similar arrangements are planned with other cloud services providers as they introduce similar high-performance direct connection capability.

Microsoft partners to provide Office 365 and Intune tech support

Through the newly announced Cloud Solution Provider program, Microsoft unveiled plans to allow its channel partners – including distributors, MSPs, ISVs and hosting providers – to bundle their products and services with Microsoft cloud services. Under the program, selected partners will be responsible for provisioning and managing cloud software for their customers, and they'll also handle technical support, said John Case in a WPC keynote address. This means partners will be able to give customers a single bill that includes both their services and Microsoft services, said the Corporate vice president of marketing for Microsoft Office. The program will be rolled out to "select" partners over the next year, starting with Office 365 and Intune. Azure, Dynamics CRM Online and other cloud services will be added later. Case did not disclose what qualifications will be required to be selected for the program. According to Microsoft Office 365 is its fastest growing business ever, turning over $2.5 billion annually. About three-quarters of Office 365 customers already get their services through a Microsoft partner.

Job cuts loom as Microsoft plans major reorganization

According to a report published by Bloomberg, Microsoft is planning to cut thousands of jobs in what would probably be the largest round of layoffs in company history. The Redmond, Wash.-based software company’s last major layoffs were in 2009 when it shed about 5,800 people in a move that cut $1.5 billion. Since it acquired Nokia’s handset division for $7.2 billion in April, Microsoft has more than 127,000 employees globally. While industry speculation is rife about how many people will lose their jobs and what divisions will be affected, it is no secret that new CEO Satya Nadella was opposed to the Nokia acquisition and will abandon the “Devices and Services” vision of former CEO Steve Ballmer that drove it instead preferring to focus on “platforms and productivity.”

WPC-2014

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The week that was – July 21st, 2014

Last week’s major event was the Microsoft Wordwide Partner Conference in Washington D.C. As you would expect, the entire week’s news cycle was dominated by Microsoft-related news, however a few other developments squeaked out so we’re running two Week That Was entries this week – the normal one and a special WPC Edition.

Verizon continues to revamp partner program, opening up enterprise accounts to the channel

verizonVerizon Enterprise Solutions – the enterprise-oriented business arm of the New York telecom giant – is continuing to revamp its U.S. partner program by opening up about 1,700 of its biggest enterprise accounts to partners. Before now these accounts were the exclusive domain of Verizon’s direct sales team while the company’s channel partners concentrated on SMBs and the smaller end of the enterprise market. Going forward, the plan is to have partners collaborate with the direct sales team on the enterprise deals. Since reinventing itself last year as a more channel-friendly organization, Verizon’s partner base has grown rapidly, more than doubling to about 1000 partners. Verizon also announced the expansion of it’s partner program into Europe so this number will continue to grow, although the carrier says its preference is to focus on working with a smaller number of more intimate VARs and MSPs and to recruit a cast of thousands.

Apple enters enterprise market through partnership with IBM

Apple LogoJust as Blackberry, once the king of business mobility, seems to be continuing its consumer-oriented efforts through a recent deal with Amazon that will provide access to hundreds of thousands of Android apps, Apple is moving the other way. Apple and IBM announced a new strategic partnership through which IBM will develop more than 100 industry-specific iOS apps, platforms and services that will help Apple penetrate the enterprise market.

The two companies unveiled the first four areas they plan to focus on:

  • IBM MobileFirst for iOS Solutions will be a series of business-focused applications targeting specific industry opportunities and has a planned release in the Fall.
  • IBM MobileFirst Platform for iOS will deliver end-to-end enterprise mobile services including analytics, workflow, cloud storage, fleet-scale device management, security and integration.
  • AppleCare for Enterprise will see IBM provide on-site Apple customer support for enterprise customers.
  • Through IBM MobileFirst Supply and Management Big Blue will supply and activate iPhones and iPads, and providing MDM services and leasing options.

Extreme Networks absorbs Enterasys’ channel with joint partner program

Ext Logo color 5San Jose, Calif.-based Extreme Networks finally integrated its disparate channel programs into a cohesive approach to market. The company has been supporting two separate programs since it acquired Enterasys last November for $180 million. The new program – the Extreme Partner Network – will increase both partner services revenue and deal registration and incentives. According to the company, the Extreme Partner Network will simplify the partner sales process by delivering a single distribution network for the combined product portfolio, while streamlining the partner segmentation and rewards system. The Extreme Partner Network segments partners into one of four tiers: Diamond, Platinum, Gold and Silver based on sales volumes and their Extreme pre-sales certifications. Another new feature of the Extreme Partner Network is ExtremeWorks, a services program that allows partners to either resell Extreme's professional and support services or offer their own directly to the client.

Rackspace upgrades cloud offering, positions for expanded managed services

rackspace-logoRackspace expanded its public cloud offering with the addition of two new service levels and an improved, more transparent pricing model in a move that will both position the company as a managed services provider and reduce opportunities for channel partners as it goes more direct in its sales model. The move isn’t shocking to many in the IT industry as Rackspace has been cultivating a reputation for being less than friendly to partners and has been accused of undercutting and going direct. The two news service tiers, Managed Infrastructure and Managed Operations, include a free cloud-monitoring service and technical support. Rackspace also unveiled a new program called developer+ which will allow software developers to sample the company’s cloud services with an “infrastructure credit.” The new billing model transparency comes through a commitment to make sure that the price of the cloud infrastructure is a distinct line item rather than being bundled in with numerous other calculations as has become typical in the industry.

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The week that was – July 13, 2014

Here’s some of the key stories to help you prep for party small talk WPC this week in Washington, D.C.

IDC: U.S. Q2 PC shipments up almost 7 percent

IDCIt would appear that the black cloud that was forecast to rain out the PC market this year has failed to show up on time. Just about every analyst that covers the PC market has been predicting a serious decline in unit shipments, primarily resulting from new technologies (read: “tablets”) entering the space. This serves as a telling reminder that industry analysts, for all their models and research and the alphabet soup on their letter-heads, are little more than TV meteorologists. They take input from a few sources, mix it up and then come up with a prediction. It’s a best guess. According to IDC research (not forecasts, but actual surveys), U.S. Q2 PC shipments were up a whopping seven percent while the global market contracted 1.7 percent – the smallest decline in two years. Credit for this goes to Chromebooks, Windows XP upgrades, and better channel alignment from the OEMs. Hewlett-Packard maintained its lead in the U.S. and second place in the global market. The big winner in the IDC report, however, was Lenovo which extended its lead in the global market to 19.6 percent. These results have prompted IDC to reverse its position on the PC market, which in May it predicted would shrink by 6 percent this year. Now the firm says the market will be flat globally for the year and robust in the U.S.

Okta beefs up its channel program to support cloud-based identity management

OKTA-1024x767Motivated by rising demand for more robust authentication from companies migrating to Office 365 and other cloud platforms, San Francisco-based security vendor Okta is adding support and incentives to its channel program to better position it in the eyes of systems integrators, MSPs and VARs. According to the company the growing adoption of subscription-based services for such functions as CRM, unified communications and collaboration and office applications is driving a demand for comprehensive authentication and password management capabilities such as single sign on. Okta is approaching the market with a hybrid model, expecting about 25 percent of its business coming through the channel. The company has 120 global partners enrolled in its four-tier channel program that provides MDF and tech support resources along with up to 30 percent net margins on sales and 10 percent on referral margins.

CA technologies spins out Arcserve

ARCserveLogo withTechnologies HORZ FINALCA Technologies is spinning out its Arcserve data protection software business – selling it to Marlin Equity Partners, a private equity company, for an undisclosed amount. Through the deal, which is expected to close in July or early August, Arcserve will become a standalone, private company. The new company will be 100 percent channel focused and include a significant number of SMBs in its list of 43,000 customers. CA will focus on its mainframe and large enterprise management business. In May CA unveiled the Arcserve Unified Data Protection strategy, which combines backup, replication, high availability and global deduplication in a single console.

Google offers 2TB of free cloud storage

google logoThe latest chapter of the Cloud Wars has Google offering customers two terabytes of free storage on the Google Cloud Platform for a year. This marks Google's first significant response to a number of aggressive object storage price cuts from Amazon and Microsoft. For example, in June Microsoft increased its file storage limit for Office 365 customers from 25GB to 1TB. In order to take advantage of the offer customers have to install cloud gateway software from Campbell, Calif.-based storage vendor – and Google partner – Panzura. Panzura's cloud gateway is a virtual appliance that connects to all three major public clouds (Google Cloud Platform, Amazon S3 and Microsoft Azure). Panzura, which until now charged a fee for the gateway, is hoping the move will drive demand for its higher end cloud storage offerings.

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Death by 1000 Cloud Apps

“There’s an app for that.” We’ve all heard it: the jingoistic catchphrase Apple users have been repeating for years. It’s consumer-oriented marketing drivel, but it’s powerful drivel because it carries more than a grain of truth. It’s also becoming true in the business market as app proliferation spreads exponentially with the addition of hundreds or even thousands of new offerings each year.

The examples are too easy to point out. Which public cloud vendor are you using, Microsoft, Amazon, Google? Or are you going with a smaller vendor or a private cloud or no cloud at all? Which BDR solution do you prefer? Which PSA? Which RMM? Which office productivity package? Which phone system? Which security vendor? There are dozens, and sometimes hundreds, of vendors offering each of these solutions.

Businesses are presented with the ever increasing challenge of selecting the best app for their business, no mean task considering the proliferation of apps that take vertical segmentation to an extreme. That done the challenge is passed along to the IT support team – whether internal or an outsourced service provider like a VAR or MSP – who then has to install and maintain the new solution.

Intermedia  and Osterman Research have released a new study and infographic that highlights the problem for SMBs. The report, “Death by 1000 Cloud Apps,” found that the average SMB is managing more than 14 cloud apps, with an average of 5.5 apps per user. According to the report, this leads to four main problems for SMBs:

Too much choice – Teams can spend months of valuable time vetting and deploying all of these cloud apps, distracting them from their most important goals/responsibilities.

Too much to manage – Once deployed, these apps must be managed, and that time adds up fast; if you have 15 people using the average of 5.5 apps each, that’s 82.5 accounts that will need to be managed on an ongoing basis.

Too many logins – This impacts team productivity outside of IT as well. It takes an average of 20 seconds to login to an app; that means that a 75-person SMB can rack up more than 570 wasted hours and $13,900 per year in lost productivity.

Too much risk – When forced to choose between security and productivity, security usually takes a back seat. This leads to lazy, risky password selections that are easily breached, leaving companies at risk.

Michael Osterman“The fundamental issue here is that organizations are losing control over their content and their ability to control applications use,” says Mike Osterman, adding that in many small organizations people download their own apps, creating a bring-your-own-app situation much like the Bring Your Own Device movement that has played havoc with IT infrastructures over the past three years. Osterman calls it “BYOA” (app) or “BYOC” (cloud).

For example, some who needs to share large files might install Dropbox. But what if the person in the next cubicle prefers Google Drive? Or Skydrive? Or SugarSync? Or SpiderOak? Or iCloud? Or LogMeIn Cubby? Or...you get the idea.

While the ability to simply go out, find what you need and use it makes individuals more efficient, it causes serious problems for organizations, says Osterman. “Now if you have to search for that content it’s going to be very difficult. If you have to find content to respond to a lawsuit or maybe an employee has left the company, you can’t find their work. And from a security perspective if you have multiple apps in use, especially doing the same things, you have a lot more attack surface.

“The fundamental issue is that most orgs want to get away from this problem. They want to consolidate on a smaller number of apps. It’s just that they don’t know where to start.”

So how do you address the problem without denying staffers the value offered by the apps in question?

“We recommend that don’t start with a vendor, but rather start with a policy,” counsels Osterman. “Find out what (your staffers) are using and why and then use that to develop a policy that will provide the functionality they need. It starts with sitting down and thinking about the issue in a really cohesive way.”

Michael-Gold-120x120Another solution is to pass the whole problem off to a vendor like Intermedia, which simplifies app management by doing all the selection, integration and management work for you and provides an all-inclusive service with a single sign-on. The SMB gets a single subscription service which includes most of the major applications – email, conferencing, security, collaboration, telecommunications, etc.

“If you’re a SMB the value we provide is that rather than having to go out to 12 different vendors, negotiate the deal, migrate people, deal with multiple support organizations and multiple control panels, we provide all that in a tightly integrated way. All the apps work with each other,” says Intermedia CEO Michael Gold.

Intermedia

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The week that was – July 3rd, 2014

With the 4th of July celebrations in the US and Canada Day early in the week north of the border, it was a relatively slow news week in the IT world. That’s par for the course this week every year, as any half decent PR pro knows not to pitch stories they actually want covered. However, business is business and a few things worth noting managed to squeeze out.

MobileIron takes EMM mobile with new tablet apps

mobileiron logoMountain View, California-based MobileIron has released a new app that will make it possible for IT administrators to manage mobile devices from their iOS and Android tablets. MobileIron Insight allows IT admins to view, monitor, and manage deployed devices from their own mobile devices. The new app provides admins with the same kind of flexibility EMM typically provides for mobile employees, giving them the ability to view devices by platform, ownership, carrier and compliance; drill down to device status and configuration data; troubleshoot problems and apply policies. The new app is one of several new capabilities announced by the enterprise mobility management vendor as part of its summer release this week including a new OS platform, data security and ecosystem integration capabilities to the toolbox for IT administrators. Additionally, MobileIron Spaces delivers a new way for IT to set data and task boundaries, to address user privacy issues and deliver flexible delegation of IT responsibilities in MobileIron Core – which adds mobile device management, mobile application management and mobile content management to the MobileIron Platform.

SimpliVity unveils new channel program

simplivity doron kempel f2Westborough, Mass-based SimpliVity took the wrappers off its new and improved channel program this week. The hyper-converged infrastructure solution developer hopes SimpliVity PartnerAdvantage will help scale up business as more vendors make significant moves in the immature market – including Nutanix, which signed an OEM agreement with Dell last week. According to the company, the new program builds on a previous channel partner program with new benefits and streamlined processes. Hyper-converged infrastructure is a software stack which includes is set of resources such as computing, storage, networking, virtualization and others running on commodity hardware. This gives users a solution that is managed holistically rather than through individual management systems/interfaces.

Ingram Micro acquires Rollouts

Ingram-Micro-logoIn the first major move since it announced it was rebranding to broaden its focus to place more emphasis on services, Santa Ana, Calif.-based Ingram Micro added IT services capacity with the acquisition of Chaska, Minn.-based IT services company Rollouts. Rollouts specializes in providing the engineering and technical support to execute big projects and manage cost-effective solutions delivery. To this end the company maintains a network of more than 15,000 technicians, a project management team and a project tracking tool. According to Ingram Micro the acquisition will help provide partners with the value-add professional services they need to be successful, especially in vertical markets like retail, health care, finance, education and the public sector where Rollouts has particular expertise. “Adding Rollouts' proven and highly scalable workforce and project management services to our professional services portfolio will further enable our channel partners to pursue larger deals with confidence and look to Ingram Micro Professional Services as an extension of their own IT services practice,” said Paul Bay, president, North America Technology Solutions at Ingram Micro, in a statement. Rollouts will become part of Ingram Micro Professional Services.

Germany cancels Verizon contract over NSA spying

verizonThe fallout from the NSA spying scandal continued as the German government announced it will end a long-running contract with New York-based Verizon citing concerns that the company is facilitating NSA eavesdropping. The decision, announced late last week by the Germans Interior Ministry, kills a relationship through which Verizon has provided telecommunications services to several German government agencies since 2010. A report from the Associated Press suggests that Germany was already reviewing its contract with Verizon when reports surfaced indicating the U.S. government had focussed intelligence gathering efforts on German Chancellor Angela Merkel pushed officials to drop the contract completely. Many US companies have seen their overseas business damaged by the scandal prompting the likes of Cisco CEO John Chambers and Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella to call on the government to change the way the NSA is operating.

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The week that was – June 30, 2014

Your weekly round-up of the IT channel news you don’t want to miss.

AppDirect adds mobile functionality

AppDirect-logoSan Francisco-based AppDirect announced it will be extending its white label cloud marketplace and management solution to mobile devices. The pure-play cloud services company sells MSPs and VARs a platform that helps them – and their customers – cut through the noise and clear up some of the market confusion arising as more and more *-as-a-Service offerings emerge. Just a few short years ago there were only a few hundred cloud applications, but today there are thousands, with thousands more coming. The new capabilities support the intersection of cloud with another major tech trend – mobility (and BYOD). Going forward users will be able to find, purchase and access apps both through the platform and through their mobile devices. AppDirect has also added several features aimed at MDM vendors, including license management.

Reminder: New Canadian anti-SPAM law takes effect July 1st

drapeau-canada-vintage1-800x481If you haven’t reached out to an Canadians on your contact lists to secure permission to continue contacting them you are almost out of time. A new Canadian law aimed at thinning the flow of unsolicited SPAM will go into effect July 1st (Canada Day). Under the new regulation, which applies to email, SMS text messages, instant messages and any other electronic communication, messages much include an "opt-out" option, clearly identify the sender and have a valid return mailing address and contact information. Violators could face fines as high as $10 million. While the comparable U.S. laws haven’t been enforced and are thus often ignored, vendors should take the Canadian regulation seriously. Not that long ago the Canadian government laid numerous punitive fines against telemarketers for violating the country’s Do-Not-Call registry and it’s reasonable to assume that the anti-SPAM law will be enforced with similar vigor. This leads to a decent opportunity for service providers as organizations will need to update their messaging systems while many companies – specially smaller SMBs – are going to need to employ more sophisticated CRM solutions than they currently use.

Mitel restructures North American partner program

mitel blue logoMitel partners are currently ranked and rewarded strictly based on the revenue they generate for the unified communications vendor, but that is going to change in early July. The new program will have three separate tracks – for solution providers/VARs, carrier and cloud provider partners. Partners in the solution provider/VAR track, which will include partners who sell Mitel’s on-prem and cloud-based UC offerings, will be segmented into four categories: Authorized, Silver, Gold and Platinum. Partners will be ranked based on a combination of the number of Mitel certifications they hold and the amount of revenue they generate. As one would expect, partner discounts and resources increase at each progressive tier.

Trend revamps partner program with new tiers and incentives

TrendMicroLike Mitel, Trend Micro is also planning a revamp of its global partner program. Driven by competitive pressures from Intel Security (formerly McAfee), Symantec and IBM, which acquired Trusteer for $1 billion last year, the Tokyo-based security vendor has been reworking its market approach to emphasise the SMB channel, including the simplification of its product lines for the SMB market. The new set up, which will be rolled out throughout 2015, will standardize branding, naming, revenue requirements, benefits and will be supported through a new partner portal, simplified training for sales and technical engineers, and incentives that will be applied to partners regardless of geographic location. Under the new plan, Trend Micro will rely more heavily on regional distributors for program management and channel recruiting. A new tier system is being introduced and – possibly most interesting to partners, an up-front discount of 40 points for VARs carrying Trend’s SMB products.

Carbonite releases new hybrid backup appliance for SMB

carbonite1Carbonite Inc. has released a new hybrid backup solution aimed at small businesses. The Carbonite Appliance HT10 promises to deliver the high speed of local backup but with the increased reliability of a cloud model. The new Appliance makes it possible for partners to deliver centrally-managed local and cloud data backup services. Because the device is managed entirely by the solution provider, it demands increased interaction between the client and the MSP, giving them the opportunity for increased touches and thus, increased intimacy with their customers. You can find out more about the new device at www.carbonite.com/hybrid-backup/how-it-works or, if you are attending Microsoft WPC, by visiting the Carbonite booth.

D&H adds Cisco's Meraki Wi-Fi to line-up

dandhD&H Distributing has added Cisco's Meraki cloud-managed wireless technology to its portfolio. The Meraki portfolio – which was acquired by Cisco in 2012 for $1.2 billion – has been popular with Cisco partners, enabling them to turn wireless access infrastructure sales into opportunities for recurring revenue. According to D&H, the addition of Meraki to its lineup of Cisco offerings will be particularly beneficial to Cisco partners focused on SMBs extend their cloud services practices. D&H is planning a series of Meraki training webinars for resellers over the coming months.

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New unified desktop from NComputing extends apps to mobile devices

NComputing-logoThe word “holistic” has turned into one of those phrases that marketers overuse, kind of like the unfortunate predilection so many have for using “leverage” as a verb – only in the latter case not only are they overusing the term, but they are grammatically incorrect too. “Holistic” is one of those Kumbayah words that tells us that we are all going to come together and life will be better through that unification.

In IT, a fractured field rife with systems and platforms that won’t work together without major integration efforts – and sometimes not even then – the application is obvious and the proffered benefits very real. So many offerings have fallen short though.

This week Santa Clara, CA-based NComputing released oneSpace, a new desktop solution that promises to empower the IT team to both unify and securely deliver applications and files and to extend them as a service to a variety of devices, including iPad and Android tablets – an endeavor that tends to be particularly complicated.

“End user performance and experience is paramount to our mobile computing strategy,” said Glen Nakashoji, Manager of Information Technology, Northeastern Catholic District School Board, in a statement.

According to the company, NComputing oneSpace is designed specifically for the needs of SMBs with delivery available in either on-prem or pure cloud (hosted by NComputing) models that obviate the need for forklift infrastructure upgrades, data migration, application re-writing, deep IT budgets, or a significant impact on IT staff for implementation and management. Also appealing to SMBs: pricing starts at less than a dollar per day per user.

Having evaluated oneSpace, Nakoshi says it will enable his organization to package and extend key solutions and services including Windows applications, cloud based services and existing file shares to a variety of mobile devices, including Windows Laptops, Tablets and Apple iPad. “Our ultimate goal is to establish a centralized application and virtual space that can be accessed at the point of learning by our students.”

Paul Collins, Associate Vice President of Technology, Adler School of Professional Psychology, is looking to solve similar problems and was one of the beta testers for the new solution.

“As a higher education institution, we have a large percentage of our students that are spread across two campuses in the USA and Canada bringing their own personal computing devices,” said Collins in a statement.

Collins says the new solution allows Adler to deliver “expanded access to both applications and data to these personal devices, including iPad and Android tablets, without compromising on security.”

To drive early adoption, NComputing is offering a number of programs including an introductory Production Pilot that promises will get users started with either version of oneSpace in one day and a free 30-day trial.

The oneSpace pilot allows customers to quickly provision a standard set of productivity applications, and both on-premises and cloud file shares to their end users on iPad and Android tablets. NComputing is offering free support during the Production Pilot for the one day onboarding process.

The trial provides access to the oneSpace cloud trial service from iPad and Android tablets and includes a standard set of Windows, web and SaaS applications and access to both Windows and cloud file shares. You can find out more at http://www.ncomputing.com/products/onespace.

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Beerfest at WPC!

 

SMB Nation’s proud tradition of hosting a beerfest reception continues at the upcoming Microsoft Worldwide Partner (WPC) conference in Washington DC. The reception, sponsored by Zynstra and eFolder, is Sunday, July 13th from 7:30pm – 9:30pm.

Why attend?

Simply stated – it’s to drive community in a casual environment. SMB IT Pros from all walks of life can share and collaborate. It’s been a very popular format.

Who should attend?

Anyone with an interest in SMB technology and solutions. You CAN ATTEND even if you are not attending the full WPC conference. This is your chance to “touch” WPC from the outside and gather with your friends.

More information: https://clicktoattend.microsoft.com/en-us/Pages/EventDetails.aspx?EventID=193051

Call SMB Nation at 206-201-2943 with any questions.

See you there!

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The week that was – June 23, 2014

Your weekly round-up of the IT channel news you don’t want to miss.

Red Hat boosts cloud services offering with eNovance acquisition

redhat-logo1Raleigh, NC-based Red Hat announced its intent to acquire Paris-based cloud services provider eNovance in a cash and stock deal worth 70 million Euros. Founded in 2008, eNovance is one of the largest contributors to the OpenStack community championed by Red Hat. According to the company, the acquisition will add much-needed internal capacity for building and managing OpenStack clouds. Along with a high quality service component that will make it easier for the company to disseminate the open-source technology. Red Hat channel partners will have to wait until after the deal closes and all due diligence is completed for word on whether they will be asked to resell eNovance solutions or if the Red Hat will maintain the managed services component of its newest business unit.

Gartner releases first Magic Quadrant for converged infrastructure

Gartner logoIndustry research firm Gartner published its first Magic Quadrant for Integrated Systems – solutions that include storage, server and network hardware along with management software from more than one vendor and are referred to by most people in the industry as “converged infrastructure.” Nomenclature aside (analysts are always renaming things), Gartner expects the market for “integrated systems,” which includes single-vendor and multivendor converged infrastructures and hyper-converged infrastructures, to grow more than 50 percent in 2014 to reach $6 billion.

Only three vendors were named in the coveted Leader’s quadrant:

  • VCE – a joint venture between EMC, Cisco and VMware, which produces the Vblock solutions
  • The alliance of Cisco and NetApp, which develops FlexPod reference architectures
  • Oracle, which develops "engineered systems," combining hardware with a specific application such as a database.

Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Dell, Nutanix and SimpliVity all placed in the Visionaries quadrant, while other vendors mentioned in the report include Teradata, Fujitsu, Hitachi Data Systems, Huawei and Unisys.

NPD Group offers good news for the channel, predicts increased SMB tech spending

NPD1Port Washington, NY-based industry analyst firm NPD Group has added its voice to other industry observers offering good news for MSPs and resellers by predicting a rise in tech spending from SMBs. According to NPD's Quarterly Tech Monitor, 57 percent of surveyed SMBs expect to invest in technology over the next 12 months, a rise of four percent over the prior quarter. Forty-seven percent say they will make those investments within three months. This investment is being driven by several factors, including a recovering economy, growing acceptance of cloud computing and the end of support for Microsoft Windows XP – the proverbial gift that keeps on giving. The NPD survey suggests that organizations at the larger end of the SMB segment are more likely to spend on technology, with 78 percent of companies with 50 to 200 employees and 79 percent of companies with 201 to 500 employees planning investment over the next year. NPD advises solution providers to make sure they are in regular contact with their clients – and especially those that fit this profile – as they

QLogic rejigs partner program

QLogic-logoAliso Viejo, California-based QLogic released the details on its revamped Signature Partner Program. The high performance networking equipment vendor wants to make the channel program easier for partners to use with changes such as reducing the number of tiers from four to three and a lowering of revenue thresholds between the tiers. The new program begins with Preferred, which doesn’t have a revenue obligation. Premier is the next tier, which comes with a requirement for $100,000 in annual revenue and the top level, Elite, requires $500,000 in sales. Under the old program, Silver partners had no revenue target, while Gold partners had to sell $225,000 and Platinum $800,000. QLogic's acquired Brocade's Fibre Channel and converged network adapter business in January, following that up in March with the purchase of Broadcom's 10-, 40- and 100-Gigabit Ethernet businesses giving the company a tight focus on Fibre Channel and Ethernet network connectivity.

Avaya revamps channel partner program

avaya logoAvayaannounced a major reorg of the Avaya Connect Channel Partner Programaimed at making it easier for Avaya partners to increase the depth of their technical expertise with Avaya products and to differentiate themselves from competitors based on that expertise. Changes to the program include revisions to the requirements for achieving Silver-, Gold- and Platinum-level status and the introduction of half a dozen new Solution Expert designations. Partners can achieve the new solution experts designations by earning specific credentials in sales and design, meeting revenue thresholds and demonstrating customer satisfaction. Silver-, Gold- and Platinum-status appointment will also be based on the number of Solution Expert designations achieved by the organization. Avaya says the new program, which will take effect October 1st, will have a one year transition period over which partners will be expected to meet the new requirements.

D&H partners with Wells Fargo to finance education tech purchases

dandhIt’s no secret that the K-12 education market is exploding for VARs and resellers. New programs like ConnectED have suddenly increased tech spending in the education vertical and solution providers are scrambling to meet the demand. In order to make that easier, Harrisburg, Pa.-based distributor D&H has teamed up with Wells Fargo to provide VARs – and especially smaller VARs – with the ability to make the purchases they need to when they need to to take advantage of the market opportunity. Under the partnership, a special financing program has been created including interest-free financing and extended financing terms for resellers, making it possible for them to compete for the multimillion dollar deals a lot of districts will be tendering.

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Smartphone News: Blackberry beats the street while Amazon enters the market

blackberry-logo1The Smartphone space got news from an old player and a new player this week with the industry’s creator announcing that it isn’t dead quite yet, while a brand new player entered the market.

BlackBerry reported a small profit for the fiscal period ending on May 31. The $23 million worth of black ink the waterloo, ON-based company announced both beat the street’s expectations and turned around losses of $423 million in the preceding quarter and $84 million in the same quarter last year.

Revenue came in at $966 million, down from $976 million in the prior quarter ahead of analysts' expectations of $963 million. Ultimately this meant a loss of 11 cents a share after adjustments – also ahead of analyst projections of a loss of 26 cents a share.

“Our performance in fiscal Q1 demonstrates that we are firmly on track to achieve important milestones, including our financial objectives and delivering a strong product portfolio,” said Executive Chairman and CEO John Chen, who took over the reins of the embattled mobility vendor in November, in a statement. “Over the past six months, we have focused on improving efficiency in all aspects of our operations to drive cost reductions and margin improvement. Looking forward, we are focusing on our growth plan to enable our return to profitability.”

BlackBerry also announced what appears to be one of the steps in that plan: a deal with Amazon that will make BlackBerry apps available through the Amazon Appstore. Through the deal, which will become relevant with the release of BlackBerry 10.3 in the fall, BlackBerry hopes to dramatically revitalize BlackBerry World, the vendor’s moribund app store. This certainly wouldn’t be a bad thing, however some observers may question what appears to be a primarily consumer play from a vendor that might be better served focussing on the Enterprise space.

BlackBerry also hopes to foster the development of BlackBerry 10 apps and said it will unveil an enterprise application partner program for corporate developers, ISVs and systems integrators over the coming months.

Amazon had news of its own with the introduction of its first smartphone.

The Amazon Fire features a new 3-D dynamic perspective technology, four front facing cameras and Firefly – an app that will recognize objects including artwork and music and then streamline the shopping experience through Amazon’s retail portal.

Amazon-logo-2The new device, which is available for pre-order online from Amazon and AT&T and through brick and mortar retail shops, has a 4.7-inch HD display and runs the proprietary Fire operating system on a quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 2.2GHz processor and 2 GB of RAM. AT&T will be the exclusive distributor of the device, making it available to AT&T Partner Exchange members, but limiting its overall market reach (as does the proprietary OS). Pricing for the new device, which will ship July 25th, comes in at $199 for the 32-GB model and $299 for the 64-GB model, with an AT&T contract.

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Cloud innovation drives growth and geographic expansion for Object Consulting

object-microsoft

Awards in the IT space can be plentiful, especially if you spend any time on the conference circuit: Best Solution, Best Software, Best in Show, etc. All of these awards offer a measure of value, but for some that measure is slightly more significant than others.

When Object Consulting recently won the 2014 Microsoft Cloud Partner of the Year, Small and Medium Business (SMB) Award Kevin Francis knew it was the kind of award that would bring in major revenue for the Sydney, Australia-based solution provider.

Last year the Microsoft Gold partner won Microsoft’s Cloud Partner of the Year award for the enterprise segment and found it really put the organization on the map, says Francis, Object Consulting’s National Microsoft Practice Manager. “We grew our Microsoft business more than 50 percent last year and that’s really a testament to what winning this kind of award does. It gives us instant credibility. And it’s the kind of credibility that brings customers to us. They are calling us and that’s gold. We’re looking at another year of massive growth.”

The most recent award is recognition for a project Object Consulting completed for a two-man startup called Xpreshon which delivers free and subscription-based action sports content to users on Microsoft Xbox, Windows 8 and Windows phones. The media streaming and customer management components of the solution run on Microsoft’s public cloud Windows Azure, which makes it possible for a two-man shop like Xpreshon to manage and scale its business without compromising the time they need to spend on delivering core value.

Xpreshon’s original vision was to develop an offering specifically aimed at gamers however using the Azure platform made it possible to extend feature-rich applications to multiple platforms. “Running our applications on Windows 8 devices using Windows Azure means that our users have access to Xpreshon content wherever they are,” says Jason Webb, director and co-founder of Xpreshon.

The code sets for all three applications overlapped enough to provide an efficiency of scale that made it possible for all three to be released within one year. “We thought it would be great if we could be on multiple Microsoft platforms as a single presence,” says Webb. “The strength of our brand is enhanced by having simultaneous offerings on all three devices.”

This is exactly the kind of project that Object Consulting has specialized in, carving out a narrow niche that mixes specialty media with a variety of delivery platforms. The award they won last year was for a similar project – the creation of SuperFooty Live HQ for News Limited which delivered rich media content including video, images and data visualization to Aussie Rules Football fans on their smartphones, tablets, desktops and TVs.

According to Francis Cloud and Devices are the new frontiers in media delivery. “That combo of cloud at the back end and devices at the front end, that’s our space and it’s a fast growing space.”

Object Consulting was a very early adopter of the cloud and also quickly saw the potential of mobile and the convergence of the two. Today the company is one of the only premier Xbox developers in the APAC region and has also invested heavily building out its mobility capabilities with Windows phone, iOS and Android development.

“It’s been expensive for us to set up. It was a big risk, but it has paid off. Winning awards like this is what happens if your solution is really innovative, if it pushes the envelope then you can win against the big players.”

Next up, says Francis, is geographic expansion. Object Consulting already had plans in place to drive geographic expansion, but winning the Microsoft award will help accelerate that plan.

“We’ve started a move into Southwest Asia and we are actively looking for work globally. We have a unique set of capabilities – less than five partners globally have the kind of focus we have – we’ve found a way to play in a way that few others are doing and Azure helps us go to market globally with our capabilities.”

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The week that was – June 13th, 2014

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

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

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

Google to acquire Skybox for $500 Million

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

 

ZyXEL unveils next-gen UTM firewalls for SMBs

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

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

Barracuda releases new Mobile Device Manager for K-12

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

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

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

GFI Software adds Integrated Remote Access and Control to GFI Cloud

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

DLT Solutions releases new procurement tool for government customers

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

 

Nimble Storage releases new hybrid array, flash expansion shelf

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

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Autotask acquired by private equity firm

autotask ceo-mark-cattiniMark Cattini, president and CEO of East Greenbush, N.Y.-based Autotask Corp., kicked off his keynote address at the Autotask Community Live conference in Miami this morning with the news that the professional services automation (PSA) vendor is being acquired by Vista Equity Partners, a private equity firm.

The future ownership of the market’s leading PSA vendor has been a popular topic of speculation for months, with most industry experts betting on the company being picked up by an RMM player. Such a move would have been logical given the evolution of the RMM/PSA space over the past few years – including the marriage of LabTech to ConnectWise and the acquisitions of N-Able by SolarWinds, Level Platforms by AVG and Kaseya by an equity group.

The financial terms of the deal, which is expected to close later this summer, were not disclosed however Cattini did say that Autotask will continue to operate as a private company.

“We are still private and still independent,” he said, adding that remaining so will allow Autotask to “continue our mission of delivering smart IT to you. If you liked Autotask version one, you will love Autotask version two.”

He then said users could expect to see an accelerated product roadmap and increased innovation leading to “a bigger and better Autotask.”

With Cattani at the helm, Autotask has aggressively expanded its market reach, recruiting more partners in North America and opening sales offices in Chicago, Beijing, London, Munich and Sydney, Australia. All this despite the fact that many industry reports suggest the managed services market is cooling off with growth projections falling off.

In a prepared statement, Cattani spoke about accelerating the value Autotask delivers. “We are devoted to our clients’ ongoing success and are confident that our partnership with Vista will drive innovation and growth and deliver dynamic solutions as the traditional IT landscape evolves.”

“Autotask has a long history of dedicating itself to customer-centric solutions and has built a strong foundation for sustained, long-term growth,” said Alan Cline, Principal at Vista Equity Partners in the sme statement. “We are very pleased to be working with the Autotask team to expand and enhance the company’s solutions to help IT service providers more efficiently and effectively meet their clients’ changing needs.”

Autotask logo

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The week that was – June 6, 2014

Your weekly roundup of IT news for the channel

LabTech creates App Exchange for RMM with open source Synergy Platform

LabTech-logoLabTech Software announced the launch of new capabilities that will allow third party developers – from software vendors and MSPS – to build onto the company’s RMM platform, customizing for the needs of their own businesses and potentially opening up new revenue streams. The Labtech Synergy Platform, which has been in beta for a year, will include fundamental APIs and an app exchange where MSPs and ISVs can sell the solutions they’ve developed to other users. “If you can imagine something in LabTech that you want to do, you can create it,” LabTech Software CEO Matt Nachtrab said at the Automation Nation 2014 conference in Orlando. “Anything you can imagine in LabTech you can turn into innovation.”

Staples takes pre-orders for new Microsoft Tablet

staples logoStaples is taking pre-orders for the new Microsoft Surface Pro 3 – the new 12 inch tablet that Microsoft is hoping will give a major boost its tablet business when it hits the streets June 20th. The Surface Pro 3, which will be priced in the $800-plus range, is driven by a fourth gen Intel Core processor and comes with Windows 8.1 Pro pre-loaded and includes the full Microsoft Office suite and a new Surface Pen. The target market is small businesses and students – users who might want a laptop-type experience in a more mobile form factor. According to research from research analyst firm Gartner, tablets based on the Windows operating system, make up about 2.1 percent of the global market – well behind Android (61.9 percent) and iOS (36 percent).

And in related news…

HP unveils Windows-based HP Pro x2 612 Tablet-Notebook

HP-logo2Hewlett-Packardhas announced the HP Pro x2 612, a full-featured Windows-based notebook with a detachable tablet screen. The new device, which is a major move in the fight for the notebook tablet market, features a 12.5-inch screen and comes with an HP Power Keyboard that gives the product 14 hours of battery life. The HP tablet will use Intel Core i3 and i5 processors with options for Intel Celeron and Pentium and will ship in early September. HP didn’t reveal pricing for the system however it is expected to sell for several hundred dollars less than the Surface Pro 3. While the HP product beats the Surface Pro 3 in all these areas, the biggest advantage it has in the SMB market may be the broad channel community that will be able to sell it. The Microsoft product is available only through select retailers (like Staples), from Microsoft itself and 10 Large Account Resellers.

Fonality launches New Partner Marketing Program

fonality-01Dallas, TX-based Fonality, a vendor of open-source VoIP and Unified Communications, announced Marketing 360 – a new partner marketing program that it hopes will help boost its channel business to hit 50 percent of overall revenue by the end of the year. Marketing 360 is an online resource that includes numerous new partner resources, incentives and marketing tools, including co-branded email campaign templates, monthly marketing webinars, sales presentations, and end user case studies and testimonials. This is just the latest of several changes Fonality has made to its partner program over the past few months. Other moves included a new compensation model that lets partners receive an up-front commission, in addition to monthly recurring revenue, on sales of hosted UC services so partners can pay off their salespeople quickly, and the Fonality Partner Exchange online community. Currently Fonality does about 45 percent of its business through the channel and has roughly 2,500 partners worldwide.

Amazon adds Windows Server 2012 R2 to AWS

Amazon web servicesAWS is shoring up the functionality of its cloud, this time by introducing its main rival’s own newest operating system – Windows Server 2012 R2. Offering Microsoft’s most advanced server OS eliminates a significant competitive advantage that Microsoft Azure enjoyed over AWS and levels the playing field between the two public cloud players. Windows Server 2012 R2 added new features and functionality to Microsoft’s popular server operating system including tiered storage capabilities through which the OS shuffles data between the fastest memory devices available on the system, improving overall performance. The new OS option will be available to all AWS customers, including those who fall in the Free Usage Tier, according to Amazon.

Yorktel acquires MultiSense, Expedite VCS

Logo-Yorktel-Tagline-RGB-LARGE.ashx Eatontown, NJ-based Yorktel, a global unified communications vendor, has acquired two video service providers increasing its market share in crucial industries: MultiSense Communications, a British firm with a focus on the health care vertical, and Expedite VCS, which delivers a solid public sector customer base including distance learning, corporate communications and telejustice. Yorktel’s VideoCloud delivers videoconferencing-as-a-service, with its cloud infrastructure situated mostly at Equinix data centers in the U.S., U.K. and Singapore. According to Greg Douglas, Yorktel’s executive vice president of sales, multipoint videoconferencing is a natural fit for health care and government – markets that mix demand for high quality face to face distance communications but have significant security demands. Last year Yorktel began offering channel partners white-label solutions and support, allowing them to resell videoconferencing solutions under their own brand. These new acquisitions will broaden the solutions channel partners can brand as their own, says Douglas.

WAN Op startup Aryaka expands global channel

Aryaka logoWAN optimization startup Aryaka is recruiting partners and expanding its global channel footprint while continuing to take aim squarely at chief competitor Riverbed Technology. Currently Milpitas, Calif.-based Aryaka does about 25 percent of its business through about 30 channel resellers, but the goal is to get as close to 100 percent as possible. The company also said it's received $10 million in Series D funding from existing investors InterWest Partners, Presidio Ventures, Nexus Venture Partners, Trinity Ventures and Mohr Davidow Ventures, bringing total VC investments to $64 million.

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Enterprise Mobility research from Gartner and CompTIA highlights opportunities, challenges for MSPs

Comptia logoIf you were wondering why Microsoft felt a need to “remind” everyone that they are a player in the Enterprise Mobility Management (EMM) market last week, you didn’t have to wait long. A couple of key EMM studies were released this week including interesting new research from CompTIA, which highlights potential business opportunities for solutions providers, and Gartner Group’s EMM Magic Quadrant.

The MQ provides a snapshot of the EMM vendor landscape, grading each vendor by completeness of vision and ability to execute and then labeling them – Leaders, Challengers, Visionaries and Niche Players – based on their capabilities. Fourteen vendors get some love from Gartner, from leaders MobileIron and IBM to niche players Tangoe and Landesk. Microsoft isn’t mentioned, despite making several EMM moves late in 2013 (The company has stated that it is confident it will be included next year).

Gartner defines EMM as the following:

“Enterprise mobility management (EMM) suites consist of policy and configuration management tools and a management overlay for applications and content intended for mobile devices based on smartphone OSs. They are an evolution from previous generation MDM products that lacked application and content management. IT organizations and service providers use EMM suites to deliver IT support to mobile end users and to maintain security policies.”

Gartner logoAccording to Gartner, an EMM suite provides hardware inventory, application inventory, OS configuration management, mobile app deployment, mobile app configuration and policy management, remote view and control for troubleshooting, execute remote actions and mobile content management.

The vendors:

Leaders: AirWatch, MobileIron, Citrix, Good Technology and IBM.

Challengers: SAP.

Visionaries: SOTI, Symantec and Sophos.

Niche Players: Blackberry, Tangoe, LANDesk, Absolute Software and Globo.

Gartner expects the EMM to continue evolving and thus posing challenges for vendors and service providers. “As enterprises' use of mobility becomes increasingly complex, their requirements to protect data and support users will become more complex as well.”

Meanwhile CompTIA’s Third Annual Trends in Enterprise Mobility found that while many organizations are pushing aggressively ahead with mobility programs, many are facing significant challenges – challenges that could mean major opportunities for service providers.

Key findings:

Among companies that provide mobile devices, 76 percent provide smartphones and 61 percent provide tablets, implying that many workers are operating in a threedevice environment.

More than 70 percent of all companies, regardless of BYOD stance, have made some level of investment in mobile devices and technologies.

There has been no significant progress in building formal mobility policies over the past year. Just 30 percent of companies have such a policy in place.

Security is one of the top challenges for companies, including the ability to centrally monitor and control security; and poor security implementation by end users.

Essentially, managing mobility – from procurement to management – is a major challenge for many organizations. CompTIA found that small companies are hampered by serious resources constraints, medium-sized firms have more resources but have to balance the needs of IT with the needs of users department and large firms have to deal with a high degree of complexity, with a large number of employees using a significant variety of devices. Alleviating these pain points could mean significant revenues for solution providers.

“Mobile devices get used heavily in employees’ personal lives, but there are enterprise aspects such as encryption, proper security settings and enterprise apps that require further and ongoing education,” said Seth Robinson, director, technology analysis, CompTIA in a statement.

The Third Annual Trends in Enterprise Mobility study is based on an online survey of 400 business and IT executives in the United State who are directly involved in setting or executing mobility policies and processes within their organization. The survey was conducted in March 2014. More data from the study is available at http://www.slideshare.net/comptia/slideshare-charts-2014-mobility-study.

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Cable Giant Comcast delivers Wi-Fi service for SMBs

It’s no secret that providing wireless internet connections is a big deal for consumer businesses. Starbucks has made a lot of money selling overpriced coffee to students, businesspeople and wannabe-J.K. Rowlings because they can get free Wi-Fi by walking through the door.

But simply offering a hotspot connection is not actually as simple as buying an 802.11N router at Best Buy and plugging it in. There are several factors to consider and those factors have left an opportunity for the likes of Cisco Meraki and GoBig to create specialized devices and services that help businesses like restaurants, hotels, boutiques, spas, salons and even golf courses offer secure, reliable and useful WI-FI services to customers.

Today Comcast announced it is getting into the game too, launching a new offering for its Internet customers – the Business Wireless Gateway that not only delivers Internet connectivity, but does so with the added security of a dual band service that keeps critical back office operations separated from the riff raff.

“Today’s ‘main street’ small businesses want to offer Wi-Fi to their customers to get them in the store and keep them coming back, but concerns can arise from over security and how challenging it will be to set up and maintain a Wi-Fi network,” said Matt Davis, director of Consumer and Small Business Telecom Services at IDC in a Comcast statement.

“The Business Wireless Gateway from Comcast Business gives SMBs a single box solution to quickly set up both public and private Wi-Fi, with public access being managed and maintained over the Comcast network. This can alleviate security concerns because customers are not accessing the same Wi-Fi network that your employees are.”

John GuillaumeAccording to John Guillaume, vice president of Product Development, Comcast Business, the new service is targeted at SMBs with as few as three and as many as 100 users, “but anyone buying our high speed Internet product is eligible.”

The technology is also scalable with WiFi extenders going on sale later this month to expand the physical coverage area making campus service possible.

Regarding costs, Guillaume said, “The Business Wireless Gateway and Business WiFi are value added services that are included with our most popular Internet speeds – from 16 Mbps to 150Mbps – for no additional cost. We have an existing $9.95 equipment fee for Internet and voice customers and the device is included in that.”

So the cost for the basic level of plan, including Comcast Internet with 16 Mbps download and 3 Mbps upload speed for up to three people, is $69.95 per month plus the equipment rental. The new offering will be sold through all of Comcast’s direct and indirect channels, so distributors like Synnex (one of Comcast’s largest channel partners) will be offering it.

This move isn’t a shocking one for Comcast. Like other cable and telecom providers such as Time Warner, Verizon and AT&T, the company has been targeting the SMB segment of the U.S. business communications market – which some analysts value at $20 to $30 billion – for expansion. The company will deploy SIP trunking capabilities by the end of the year, significantly enhancing its VoIP offerings for the larger end of the SMB market (Comcast Business has traditionally focused on small businesses) and potentially to larger enterprises in the future.

Moreover, Comcast Business recently softened the ground by sponsored research by market analyst firm Bredin Research that indicated small businesses got significant ROI , including better customer satisfaction levels and higher sales, from offering free WiFi than they did from other common patron-oriented conveniences.

Key findings:

  • WiFi is equally or more effective at making patrons feel welcome than other amenities such as magazines (94 percent), community bulletin boards (91 percent), candy (90 percent) or water (86 percent).
  • Nearly eight in 10 businesses offering WiFi (79 percent) say it helps keep customers happy while they wait. Sixty-five percent report it has encouraged repeat business, and 55 percent say it has brought in new customers.
  • More than half (55 percent) of businesses providing Wi-Fi believe it has resulted in higher sales per customer visit.

“Many different types of customers – coffee shops, law firms, real estate offices, gyms, libraries and more – want to attract and retain visitors to their location and give employees the tools they need to be more productive. Wi-Fi can be critical on both fronts, and this device can help make that easy to manage,” said Guillaume, in a statement. 

comcast business logo

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PwC survey highlights eight cyber threats and how to counter them


pwc logo

A new cybersecurity survey from PwC and CSO magazine makes for some chilling reading for U.S. businesses. According to the 2014 U.S. State of Cybercrime Survey the rate of cyber attacks is increasing and the majority of U.S. organizations are falling sort when it comes to addressing them. In fact, 62 percent of organizations do not have the structure in place to prioritize security investments based on impact and risk.

The survey, through which CSO queried more than 500 U.S. executives, security experts and others from both the public and private sectors, was conducted by CSO magazine in collaboration with PwC, the U.S. Secret Service and the CERT Division of the Software Engineering Institute at Carnegie Mellon University.

Other key findings:

  •              Organizations detected an average of 135 security incidents over the past year.
  •              More than three quarters (77 percent) of respondents reported a security event in the past year.
  •              More than two-thirds (67 percent) of respondents who detected a security incident were unable to gauge its financial impact. For those who could, the average annual monetary loss was projected at $415,000 per organization.
  •             59 percent reported they were more concerned about cybersecurity threats this year than last year.
  •             34 percent said they had seen an increase in the number of security incidents in their organizations.
  •             Enterprise mobility is a massive hole. Only 31 percent of respondents have a mobile secuity strategy, while only 38& bother to encrypt devices. Only 36 percent employ an MDM solution.
  •              Less have half of respondents have an effective risk management program. Only 47 percent perform periodic risk assessments and only 24 percent have an objective third party assess their security program.
  • "Cyber criminals evolve their tactics very rapidly, and the repercussions of cybercrime are overwhelming for any single organization to combat alone. It's imperative that private and public organizations collaborate to combat cybercrime and gain intelligence about security threats and how to respond to them. A united response will prove to be an indispensable tool in advancing the state of cybersecurity," said David Burg, PwC's global and U.S. advisory cybersecurity leader, in a prepared statement.

PwC also offered the following eight recommendations for combating cybercrime:

  •                    Assess risks associated with supply chain partners
  •                    Develop threat-specific policies
  •                    Enhance training and create workforce messaging to boost cybersecurity awareness across the organization
  •                    Ensure that mobile security practices keep pace with adoption and use of mobile devices
  •                    Hold third parties to the same or higher cybersecurity standards
  •                    Invest in people, processes and technologies
  •                    Perform cyber risk assessments regularly
  •                   Take advantage of information sharing internally and externally to learn about new cyber risks

“Despite substantial investments in cybersecurity technologies, cyber criminals continue to find ways to circumvent these technologies in order to obtain sensitive information that they can monetize,” said Ed Lowery, Special Agent in Charge, Criminal Investigative Division, U.S. Secret Service in a statement. “The increasing sophistication of cyber criminals and their ability to circumvent security technologies indicates the need for a radically different approach to cybersecurity: A balanced approach that, in addition to using effective cybersecurity technologies, develops the people, processes, and effective partnerships in order to strategically counter cybersecurity threats.”

The full survey is available for download here.

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The week that was – May 30, 2014

Your weekly roundup of IT news for the channel

Good news for MSPs: 61% of IT leaders plan outsourcing investments this year

american-digital-logoAccording to a new report from Elk Grove Village, IL-based IT solutions provider American Digital Corporation, 61 percent of IT leaders plan to invest in outsourced managed services over the next two years. The study – titled the "2014 State of SAP Report – was queried IT professionals in February and March and was primarily focussed on identifying the trends surrounding SAP use this year. American Digital is a prominent SAP partner. While IT leaders clearly have a level of comfort using MSPs for support, the news is mixed when it comes to handing over total control of their internal IT infrastructure. "Today we see companies comfortable with outsourcing application support, but many are still holding on to the infrastructure in-house," said American Bill Loupakos, Digital Professional Services Vice President in a statement. For example, 74 percent of IT leaders stated they will retain full control of their data centers while the remaining 26 percent will use some combination of internal and outsourced capability. As far as SAP findings are concerned: SAP HANA, SAP Mobile and Managed Cloud are the most in-demand SAP offerings and all are likely to be outsourced with only 29 percent of respondents saying they'll use in-house resources for SAP-related support.

Unitrends picks up cloud-based disaster recovery startup Yuruware

Unitrends logoColumbia, S.C.-based data protection and disaster recovery vendor Unitrends announced it has acquired Yuruware, an Australian start-up that is developing technology that allows easy disaster recovery using public clouds. According to Unitrends, the Yuruware technology gives users the ability to run virtual machines and virtual networks in nearly any public cloud, including Amazon Web Services and OpenStack clouds, with Microsoft Azure on the road map. Unitrends will use Yuruware's machine and network transformation capabilities – the ability to spin up a virtual machine in the cloud – to further build out its existing Reliable DR product line, which it acquired in December with the acquisition of PHD Virtual and which can already spin up a virtual machine in both physical and virtualized environments.

Microsoft: We Have MDM Solutions for Enterprises, Too

microsoft logo-100029828-galleryMicrosoft may not be the first name you think of when you think about enterprise mobility but wants to remind enterprise mobility management providers that it offers enterprise class mobile device management solutions. The software giant is in the process of publishing a series of how-to blog posts that highlight specific tasks required for successfully managing a client’s mobile assets. The new posts build on a series of strategic articles by Brad Anderson, corporate vice president of Windows Server and System Center at Microsoft, which describe what it takes to be successful in enterprise mobility at a strategic level, including defining enterprise mobility, what's coming for enterprise mobility, what components are relevant to enterprise mobility and what enterprise mobility looks like in action.

You can find the first few blogs through the links below:

Fortinet and Palo Alto Networks found cyber defense consortium

Fortinet Logo PMS485Fortinet and Palo Alto Networks have partnered to create a cyber defense consortium which will use shared threat intelligence to help member organizations protect their customers from increasingly sophisticated cybercrime attacks. The consortium will provide a forum for collaboration on threat intelligence and sharing of preventative measures including:

  • Better cross-industry, cross-vendor threat intelligence
  • Better coordination of incident response
  • Better prevention of cyber attacks using advanced malware 

You can learn more about the consortium at www.cyberconsortium.org.

ESET allies with Ingram Micro for NA distribution of its cyber security solutions

eset-logoIngram Micro and Bratislava-Slovakia-based ESET have formed a strategic alliance under which the distributor will provide U.S. channel partners with access to ESET’s digital security products. The new alliance enables ESET – which is dedicated to the channel distribution – to offer a combination of products and services, along with a volume incentive program, flexibility for resellers in securing credit, and a facilitated process for securing quotes and placing orders. According to Eric Kohl, executive director, Advanced Technology Division, Ingram Micro, the alliance will make ESET’s full line of Endpoint Solutions for business will be available through the agreement while Ingram will support ESET’s penetration of the north american channel community with targeted marketing programs, technical support and financial services. “The need and demand for flexible and powerful security services is at an all-time high and we’re excited to team with ESET to bring greater choice, performance and value to channel partners throughout the U.S.“

CloudBerry Lab cloud backup enhanced with remote management in latest update

cloudberry logoNewport Beach, CA-based cloud backup vendor CloudBerry Lab has released an upgrade to its Managed Backup Service that will allow service providers to create and manage key backup and recovery processes remotely. The service is designed for MSPs and VARs who can use their own storage accounts at Amazon S3, Amazon Glacier, or Windows Azure to provide branded cloud backup to customers. There is no charge to service providers for signing up for CloudBerry Managed Backup service and users get 2 GB of free cloud storage to evaluate the service.

Zoho updates remote support software, unveils iPad app

zohoPleasanton, CA-based business, collaboration and productivity applications provider Zoho has released an updated version of its remote support software. New features added to Zoho Assist, the company's RMM software, include a new file transfer window, a new HTML5-based technician console in Linux and Mac and a "Help Me" tab for live support. Designed for independent IT technicians, outsourced IT firms, remote PC repair service professionals and SMB IT support specialists, Zoho Assist is an on-demand, Web-based application that enables users to provide assistance on Linux, Mac and Windows platforms. The company also launched Zoho Assist for iPad, an app that makes it possible for users to:

  • Connect with IT professionals when they need help
  • Capture screenshots of a remote computer
  • Switch between multiple monitors
  • Take control of a remote computer

Follow this link to access a free 30-day trial

Acronis Disk Director 12 Updates Data Manipulation, Disk Management

acronis-logotypeWoburn, Ma.-based Acronis has released the latest version of its backup and disaster recover (BDR) solution: Acronis Disk Director 12. The company said the solution provides new features aimed at helping users organize hard drives for superior performance, while protecting and securing users’ data through the use of multiple volumes on a single drive.

The major new features available in Acronis Disk Director 12 include:

  • Partition management
  • Extended Windows support
  • Across-the-board PC support – Users can create Acronis bootable media (Linux-based or Windows PE-based) and boot into a recovery environment on a UEFI-based machine.
  • Improved recovery capabilities with Acronis Recovery Expert tool

Sophos delivers individual file encryption and anti-virus with new EMM solution

sophos-logoOxford-based IT security vendor Sophos has released the latest version of its enterprise mobility management (EMM) solution Sophos Mobile Control 4.0. According to the company, the solution is designed for SMBs who want to manage and secure content, applications and devices. The new release includes individual file encryption, integrated anti-virus and web filtering and also supports Apple, iOS, Google, Android and Microsoft Windows Phone 8 devices. SMC 4.0, which is available on premise or as a service, integrates with Sophos UTM, Checkpoint and Cisco to provide network access control and allows IT administrators to manage devices through a web-based management console or to create a self-service portal that allows users to perform several basic tasks like changing passwords, registering devices and reporting lost or stolen devices.

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NComputing launches oneSpace public beta

NComputing-logoSanta Clara, CA-based virtualization provider NComputing has launched the public beta of its NComputing oneSpace workspace-as-a-service (WaaS) solution. The move cements the organization’s transformation from a hardware company to a cloud service-based software vendor.

Initially announced in February, oneSpace is built on NComputing’s vSpace virtualization platform and allows users to securely access applications and files through a unified workspace from whichever device they prefer, including iPads and Android tablets. Meanwhile the IT group has complete control over the workspace environment.

Unlike other desktop virtualization vendors, including Citrix and VMware, NComputing uses a Server Based Computing model rather than VDI – a difference that Dave Burton, NComputing’s Vice President of Global Marketing, says makes it better suited to SMBs. “VDI certainly has its applicability, especially for enterprises. But in the SMB a server-based approach is going to fit their needs better.”

To start with, adds Burton, the server based approach is simpler than VDI, and requires less storage and fewer licenses which reduces overall costs. Additionally the big VDI vendors have been focussed on the large enterprise market leaving the SMB space underserved. This has created an opportunity for NComputing, which is entirely focussed on the channel. Indeed, later this year the company will launch a more formal partner program, but Burton says the company is being strategic in the way it will do that.

“We aren’t looking to get to 1000 service providers in the next year, he said. “Instead we want to select service providers that expand our reach into markets or where they have specific expertise.”

This announcement builds on last week’s news that NComputing is making its first foray into the desktop-as-a-service (DaaS) market. The DaaS solution – which, like oneSpace, is built on vSpace – is designed to simply and inexpensively enable service providers to rapidly deploy hosted desktops as a service to SMBs.

According to NComputing desktop virtualization is becoming increasingly important for SMBs who are looking for more efficient delivery and management of the corporate desktop. DaaS eliminates the need for the IT department to build and manage a desktop virtualization infrastructure, while enabling provisioning, scaling and management of end user desktops. Like oneSpace, the DaaS offering takes a server-based computing approach.

NComputing also announced that So-net Corporation, a member of the Sony Group, is the first NComputing partner to offer desktop virtualization based on its vSpace platform. So-net’s new DaaS offering for the Japanese market, called Virtual Desktop Service, is already live.

The NComputing oneSpace beta program is open to a limited number of participants in the US and Canada; with general availability of the platform expected by the end of June. To learn more and to sign up for the beta, visit http://www.ncomputing.com/products/oneSpace.

 

 

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The week that was – May 23. 2014

Your weekly roundup of IT news for the channel

Vigilance Networks launches new global partner program

vigilance networksSecurity Intelligence vendor Vigilance Networks announced a new global partner program, although the Denver, CO-based company provided very few details about exactly what support would be available to the channel. The Vigilance Network Security Intelligence Platform helps users secure their networks while supporting IP applications and mobile end points. Formerly known as Vibesec, Vigilance said the new channel program will enable security, solution and service providers to offer its Security Intelligence Platform as a service to address critical operations, security, fraud and compliance issues. Early partners include: ASLO Information Technologies, Weidenhammer, VOIPHEAD, and Cirosec.

Avnet unveils new Government Solutions Division

avnetAvnet Technology Solutions has established a new division that will focus on driving U.S. government sales for its channel partners, including ISVs, VARs and integrators. Avnet Government Solutions will operate as a wholly owned subsidiary focused on the U.S. public sector. “The U.S. government is the world’s largest and most lucrative IT market, and the federal, state, local and education sectors are expected to spend more than $148 billion in IT-related purchases in 2014,” said the new division’s GM Ray Ramey in a prepared statement. “We created Avnet Government Solutions to provide our partners with a single source for all of the resources they need to succeed in pursuing government IT business."

Extreme Networks announces new IdentiFi wireless LAN

Ext Logo color 5Extreme Networks announced a new outdoor access point that will allow users to take their work outside the office and anywhere in the campus environment and extend connectivity for wearable IP devices. According to the company, the new IdentiFi WLAN access point will deliver reliable and easy to use Wi-Fi for high-traffic areas. Extreme Networks' wireless solutions are designed for a number of environments, from stadiums to college campuses and more. The latest offering – the 3865 802.11ac WLAN outdoor access point – extends IdentiFi’s capabilities and scale beyond traditional workplace Wi-Fi by offering complete parity for software capabilities and functions found with the indoor solution. IdentiFi offers three times over-the-air performance compared to 802.11n. It also offers increased throughput with air-to-wire transition, supporting 75,000 packets per second for both indoor and outdoor APs. Finally, the new solution features zero-touch AP initialization, allowing new applications and services to be delivered with a single click.

Microsoft announces plans to make Azure available to partners and resellers

microsoft logo-100029828-galleryStarting August 1st, Microsoft partners will be able to resell Azure cloud services through it’s open licensing program. The move is aimed at keeping SMBs from switching to Amazon Web Services and Google. Under existing arrangements, Microsoft customers have to buy Azure services directly from Microsoft or get them as part of an Enterprise Agreement. After August 1, Microsoft's partner community will be able to buy Azure services from distributors and resell them to customers. According to a blog post by Josh Waldo, Microsoft’s senior director of cloud partner strategy, Microsoft partners will be able to take advantage of the "flexible monetary payments" available through Open Licensing to "grow margins and deepen customer relationships." To resell Azure services, partners will buy tokens from distributors and apply the credit to their customers' Azure portal in $100 increments.

Lenovo posts strong earnings

LenovoLockup NEG ColorChinese PC-maker Lenovo reported a 25 percent revenue increase, thanks to strong PC and smartphone sales for its fiscal Q4. Net profit hit $158 million, up from $127 million in the same period last year. The channel-centric company, which derives more than 85 percent of its US sales from integrators, VARs and MSPs, has managed to increase PC shipments by 11 percent despite the overall market contracting by as much as two percent according to Gartner Group. Increased smartphone sales are attributed to strength in the Chinese market. Lenovo recently announced plans to acquire IBM's x86 server business and Google’s Motorola division. According to a Bloomberg analysis, once the IBM and Google deals are complete, the company will have revenues of $50 billion, up from $15 billion five years ago. Current year-to-year revenues were reported at $38.7 billion.

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The Week that was – May 18, 2014

Your weekly roundup of IT news for the channel

Dimension Data buys Teliris

dimension-data-logoDimension Data has acquired another company – the second in the last three weeks – in its ongoing bid to double its current annual sales of $6 billion over the next four years. New York-based Teliris was one of the first companies to offer cloud-based managed telepresence videoconferencing services. The acquisition is the second in the past 20 days for the South Africa-based $6 billion solution provider. On April 23rd, Dimension Data significantly expanded its US presence by picking up Nexus (valued at $471 million). Like the Teliris deal, financial details were not disclosed. According to Steve Nola, CEO of Dimension Data's IT as a Service business unit, the Teliris deal will allow Dimension Data to "accelerate the development of a true videoconferencing as a service offering to the market." The statement went on to say that Teliris will continue to operate under the Teliris brand for now, offering the services it does today and supporting "its current managed services clients using its own proprietary technologies and cloud platform."

Symantec’s Q4 performance reflects positive moves

Symantec logo horizontal 2010Troubled internet security and data management vendor Symantec has taken a series of positive steps over the past few months, including a revamped channel program, new products and improved internal sales processes – steps that are reflected in its fourth quarter earnings performance. While revenue is down by 7 percent, profits are up with net income reportedly $217 million generating 32 cents per share. The Mountain View, Calif.-based vendor has been in an ongoing transition as it fights to stay relevant in the market. That transition was undermined in March when CEO Steve Bennet was suddenly relieved of his duties. The search for a permanent replacement – the company’s third new chief executive in four years – is ongoing. In the meantime, interim CEO Michael Brown says he expects to see modest revenue growth return later in fiscal 2015.

HP reorganises U.S. sales and channel operations

HP-logo2In a move aimed at streamlining its sales and channel activities, Hewlett-Packard has reorganised its U.S. sales operations. As of May 1st, HP is focused on three separate geographic zones instead of just one, with a separate team addressing the Fed. Prior to the re-org, HP’s Enterprise Group was running several different sales models for its x86 and Mission Critical servers. The storage, networking and services teams also operated independently and had their own strategies. Going forward, executive teams are streamlined with each territory headed by a single VP to who all support staff, including the regional channel director, reports.

 

Tech Data Partner conference: Expanded VMware cloud BDR offerings, new Cisco training announced

Tech-DataTech Data Corporation took the opportunity of its TechSelect Partner Conference in Orlando to announce an expanded relationship with VMware Inc., through which the IT distributor will offer vCloud Hybrid Service – Disaster Recovery. The new disaster-recovery-as-a-service offering is aimed at midsized businesses and is built on VMware’s hybrid IaaS platform -- vCloud Hybrid Service. DRaaS, which is available from Tech Data’s Solutions Store, makes it possible for IT solutions providers to deliver disaster recovery and protection coverage to any end user applications running in a vSphere virtual environment.

Tech Data also announced new educational programs for Cisco partners. Dubbed Core and BOOST, the new programs deliver a range of training from entry level programs to personalized post-specialization offerings in the form of 30-minute webinars. Each Core (basic level) webinar addresses a specific topic that supports one of meta-topics: Cisco 101, Partnering with Cisco, CCW Platform, Programs and Promotions, and Cisco Services. The BOOST program is more advanced, having been designed to support Cisco partners with guidance on Operations, Sales, Marketing, and Services, and require more advanced Cisco qualifications. Qualified solution providers can access a variety of support offerings including: consultation services, case studies, business transformation workshops, industry experts, personalized sales enablement trainings, demand-generation tools, and mobility applications.

Continuum released book on “everything managed services”

continuum logoThe content marketing team at Continuum has been busy. The Boston-based RMM vendor just released an e-book that purports to be the “definitive guide to managed IT services.” The book covers the history and evolution of the MSP and looks at various tools and service delivery models designed to help MSPs better serve clients. Readers also get some insights into costs and third-party vendor evaluation criteria. In amongst all the self-serving marketing messaging – like why you should have an integrated RMM and NOC offering, something that very few vendors offer – and the irrelevant history lesson, readers who have yet to make the move from break/fix to recurring revenues might find some morsels of real value. In particular if you’re an MSP with a really, really good sales team, you may find value using the book as a leave behind with your prospects. Though if you can get someone to read a book, you probably already have the account. 

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Subtraction by addition: Lenovo addresses device confusion with new offerings

LenovoLockup NEG ColorOne of the key messages Lenovo has been emphasizing Accelerate 2014 – the company’s annual partner forum which kicked off Monday in Orlando – is about device proliferation. The tremendous variety of devices available infuses the market with confusion, making it difficult for VARs to figure out exactly which computer, tablet, server, etc., to sell in any given situation.

Naturally, the company unveiled two new additions to its device line-up.

While the two concepts may seem contradictory, the new products are intended to be a case of subtraction by addition. The new devices are expected to help solve the device confusion problem by providing equipment that will solve specific issues for end users.

For example, the new ThinkPad 10 tablet sidesteps the long-standing challenges of BYOD by providing business users with a business-oriented tablet computer. Rather than trying to manage a fleet of consumer devices in the workplace, controlling what software and apps are being deployed by staff and ensuring sensitive company data is secure, companies can now deploy a tablet designed from the ground up for the business user.

We’ve always been known for our business devices, says David Rabin, Executive Director Marketing, Lenovo Americas Group. “Over time we’ve realized that one size doesn’t necessarily fit all and we’ve made a range of specialized devices, the (new) tablet being one of them.”

The new 10-inch ThinkPad 10 tablet, which will start at $599, runs Windows 8.1 with 64-bit support on configurations with up to 4 GB of RAM and a 128 GB hard drive. Accessories include a digitizer pen, a stand, compact Bluetooth keyboard and a USB3.0 docking station which allow users the flexibility of four different modes of use – tablet, stand, laptop and desktop. It also uses Gorilla glass, reducing the fragility that characterises most tablet products.

The key advantages really seem to be aimed at IT managers though. The new device offers VPN access control, application deployment management and the ability to prevent users from installing prohibited apps. Basically, the goal seems to be to pre-manage the entire Mobile Device Management issue. In addition, Lenovo Services offers a suite of support packages, including sealed battery warranties, accidental damage protection and laser etching and tagging.

lenovo-thinkpad-10-australia“Customers want a versatile device that adapts to their way of life and offers uncompromised productivity whether in the office or on the move,” said Luis Hernandez, vice president and general manager, ThinkPad, Lenovo in a statement. “Our new ThinkPad 10 tablet marries business optimized features with a unique multimode design to offer an exceptional computing experience that allows users to work, play and create in virtually any environment. ThinkPad 10 is engineered for quality you can touch and measure and is designed to adapt to be what you need, when you need it.”

The second new product is the ThinkStation P300 – an entry-level workstation that offers MSPs, VARs and end users enhanced configurability. To start with Lenovo did away with the bulky handle that was a sore point with previous Lenovo chassis designs. There is also a flex module which supports a combination of an ultra-slim optical drive, 29-in-1 media card reader, IEEE 1394 Firewire, and eSATA, essentially allowing a higher level of customization during deployment. The P300 runs on the Intel Xeon E3-1200v3 product family or the 4th Generation Intel Core processor and ECC memory support.

“Professional workstation users run very advanced, specialized applications. The ThinkStation P300 features the processing power, graphics capabilities and ISV certifications, needed to run these applications smoothly,” said Victor Rios, vice president and general manager, Workstation, Lenovo in a statement. “But the ThinkStation P300 also gives these users a new level of customization. The new FLEX module … offers customers truly unique configurations that match their specific project needs and goals.”

David Rabin knows that making things easier for the channel is critical and expects these new products to do just that. “About 85% of our business in this region flows through the partner community, so if we don’t make them successful we won’t be successful,” he said.

Our friends at Channelpro-SMB have an excellent gallery of images of the ThinkPad 10 tablet here.

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The Week That Was – May 9, 2014

Your weekly round-up of channel and IT news you don’t want to miss.

StorageCraft offers free BDR to storm victims

logo storage craftNow that Tornado season is upon us, StorageCraft Technology Corp. is offering its StorageCraft ShadowProtect IT Edition for free to businesses and non-profit organizations in the affected areas of the Southern and Midwestern United States. These areas include parts of Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Iowa, Kansas, Mississippi, Oklahoma and Tennessee. “The StorageCraft team’s hopes and prayers are with the people affected by this week’s deadly storms," said Curt James, marketing and business development VP of the Draper, Utah-based company in a statement. ShadowProtect IT Edition gives users three days to backup and recover any number of laptops, desktops even if it wasn’t previously installed on the devices.

Perficient purchases Trifecta Technologies’ IBM business for $13.7 million

Perficient logoPerficient is continuing its strategy of picking up assets, expertise and market capacity through acquisition. This week the St. Louis-based solution provider bought Trifecta Technologies’ IBM Smarter Commerce division for $13.7 million. The move follows the purchases in February and April of ForwardThink ($46 million) and BioPharm Systems ($17.6 million) respectively. The roots of the growth-through-acquisition strategy were planted firmly last year with multiple deals for IBM and Salesforce.com businesses, including CoreMatrix in October, and Clear Task and TriTek Solutions in May. According to Perficient executives, the Trifecta business was attractive for a number of reasons, but especially for technology that provides users with a preconfigured store-front with back-end operations on IBM Commerce Suite. In addition to the technology Perficient – which was already IBM’s top U.S. partner in the midsize partner category – also picks up more than 40 employees and significant enterprise class clients. The company plans to take some time to integrate the latest three acquisitions, but expects to make at least one more purchase in the third or fourth quarter as it nears hitting its stated $500 million revenue target by the end of the year.

Michael Dell reveals massive channel business growth [with Ingram Micro] to kick off 2014

Dell LogoSpeaking to the inaugural Ingram Micro One event this week, Michael Dell told the audience – made up primarily of channel partners – that Dell’s channel business [with Ingram Micro] grew 95 percent in the 1st quarter of 2014. Moreover, the company experienced its best growth in five years during the quarter. Dell's Partner Direct program currently has 146,000 partners and accounts for about 30 percent of the company’s total business. “Our channel program has evolved in a tremendous way. The momentum and growth is unparalleled,” he said, adding that he believes its possible for Dell to pull in as much as 75% of its overalll revenues from the channel. “There's tons of upside.” According the Dell, current channel success is built on the foundation provided by the channel programs of the companies it has acquired in recent years, including SonicWall and Quest Software.

Amazon introduces AWS certification

Amazon web servicesAmazon Web Services has introduced a professional level certification program for its partners. The new certification builds on the AWS Global Certification Program, which was launched last year and allowed technicians, administrators and developers to qualify and validate their skills and abilities to plan, deploy and manage solutions and systems on the AWS public cloud. "The new AWS Certified Solutions Architect -- Professional Level exam validates advanced technical skills and experience and represents the next level of proficiency along the AWS Certified Solutions Architect path, with a focus on the design and development of distributed systems," Jeff Barr, chief evangelist for AWS, wrote in a blog. According to Barr, candidates for the new certification must already hold the Associate Level certification, and should have several years of experience designing and deploying architectures on AWS. AWS has published an Exam Guide to help applicants prepare for the new test.

SAP creates new channel organization, elevates channel focus

sap-logoSAP has been undergoing major changes over the past little while, continuing this week with the departures of two senior executives and the creation of a new channel organization that is expected to carry more revenue weight for the company. Early in the week news that Vishal Sikka, the head of SAP's development operations, was leaving the company for personal reasons. A few days later it was revealed that Shawn Price, president of SAP's global cloud operations, also was stepping down. The week has closed with the announcement that the company is creating a new Global Partner Operations organization under Rodolpho Cardenuto who will report directly to CEO Bill McDermott. The GPO will take over responsibility for SAP's existing channels endeavours as well as managing the SAP Business One application set for small businesses, the OEM business, and the vendor’s other strategic partnerships. "The formation of our new Global Partner Operations organization is key to driving scale and adoption of the SAP Cloud powered by SAP HANA," McDermott said in a statement. "Rodolpho will engage with a vibrant and open ecosystem of more than 11,500 companies worldwide to unlock the potential of every customer to become a best-run business. Rodolpho's appointment shows that our bedrock commitment to the spirit of partnership with the SAP ecosystem has never been stronger."

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CompTIA expands advocacy capabilities with TechAmerica acquisition

Hot on the heels of revamping its membership access model a few weeks ago, ICT industry association CompTIA has expanded its lobbying and advocacy capabilities with the acquisition of TechAmerica. The new organization will operate under the CompTIA brand, however the lobbying arm will retain the TechAmerica name, at least for the foreseeable future. 

todd-thibodeauxTodd Thibodeaux, president and CEO, CompTIA, said the merger is a complimentary one for both organizations, which have very little overlap between them, and creates an organization that will represent the entire ICT industry – from the SMBs that are CompTIA’s traditional strength to the public sector and large private organizations where Tech America has strength.

Shawn Osborne, president and CEO of TechAmerica, echoed the sentiment in a letter posted on his organization’s website this morning. “This is not the merging of two identical organizations. TechAmerica and CompTIA have complementary interests and goals within the ICT industry. Whereas TechAmerica has been a leading voice of large businesses and the tech public sector, CompTIA has built a strong reputation for workforce training and certification, business education and best practices, and advocacy for small and medium technology companies in the IT sector. Joining forces consolidates disparate segments of the ICT sector under one roof to enhance voice, reach and influence. A single, unified organization for commercial and public sector interests allows us to advance business interests and opportunities as a whole.”

“Over the last couple of years our board has been looking for ways to grow the value of CompTIA,” said Thibodeaux. Part of that was revamping the access model which has opened up access to CompTIA’s insight and research for the entire industry through a free membership. CompTIA has also broadened its educational offerings.

“Another part was broadening our reach,” he said, adding they the board knew CompTIA could be doing more for a broader audience and was actively looking for ways to accomplish that without compromising the services delivered to existing members.

The big win for CompTIA really comes with the deepening of is advocacy capabilities. Of the 24 former TechAmerica staffers coming over to CompTIA 14 are lobbyists, quadrupling CompTIA’s existing strength and extending its reach on the state and international levels and especially in Federal procurement.

“It’s about relevancy, it’s about influence,” said Thibodeaux. “And by doing that, hopefully it’s about making the other things we are doing even more powerful.”

CompTIA unveils CertMaster

Speaking of CompTIA’s role in education, the company also unveiled CertMaster a new online learning solution designed to help students and professionals learn and retain technical information more effectively, better preparing them for IT certification exams and, eventually, helping them deliver higher quality services to customers. CompTIA CertMaster uses the latest research in brain science, neurobiology, cognitive psychology and game studies, combining key principles from each field to help users learn necessary information quickly and retain it long-term.

Comptia logo

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The Week That Was – May 3, 2014

Our weekly round-up of the IT news you don’t want to miss.

Datto integrates with Servoyant RMM, LabTech integration coming

Datto Backup LogoDatto announced that its image-based backup and disaster recovery technology now integrates with Servoyant’s RMM solution. New features available through Servoyant include new reporting capabilities such as Datto-specific reports and aggregate status of all devices and backup processes. This broadens the penetration Datto has with RMM solutions beyond existing connections to Kaseya and AVG Managed Workplace and more are planned, with LabTech currently in the works.

Xerox integrates Managed Print Services with LabTech

xeroxXerox is continuing to upgrade its managed print services partner program for MSPs. After enhancing its partner program in March that added new opportunities to generate recurring revenue and strengthen customer relationships, the company has now embarked on a path to integrate with IT management tools. First up: The document management giant has unveiled a new cloud-based plug-in that integrates its printer discovery and monitoring capabilities with LabTech Software’s RMM platform. Through the integration, MSPs will be able to use Xerox PrintAssist Services from the LabTech Control Center which will also report on printer activity and error alerts. The company says that more RMM integrations are coming, but did not disclose which vendors it is working with or when the connectors will be available.

Equinix launches cloud exchange, delivering private network speeds to public cloud services

equinix logoEquinix, a builder of data centers and dynamic Internet exchanges, launched the Equinix Cloud Exchange – a new offering the company claims is a breakthrough in enabling enterprise hybrid cloud solutions. According to the company, the new exchange advances the process of managing connections to multiple clouds, enabling user to go from one-to-one to one-to-many, and many-to-many connections. Most importantly, it will allow enterprise customers to realize the scalability of the public cloud without compromising the speed, security and accessibility delivered by their private virtual networks. The claimed breakthrough is build on a pair of new elements: new hardware that interacts with software-defined networking vendors and offers adequate port-density and the next generation of its business intelligence software. Currently, the new exchange works with Microsoft Azure and AWS. Other cloud services will be added in the future.

Red Hat buys Inktank for $175M to extend open source storage footprint

redhat-logo1Red Hat announced plans to expand its footprint as a provider of open source storage with the acquisition of Los Angeles, Calif-based Inktank for $175 million. Inktank is the developer of the Ceph open-source storage technology that delivers object, block and file storage in a single file system for unified storage. This is the second storage acquisition for Red Hat, which is making a play to be the top provider of open source storage, and follows the 2011 purchase of Gluster, and its GlusterFS scale-out NAS file system. The company announced that it sees opportunities for both Ceph and Gluster and will maintain both storage solutions in the market.

IDC: Tablet shipments stall

IDCResearch from global research firm IDC reports that tablet and 2-in-1 device shipments have stalled and that sales are cooling off with large screen phones encroaching on the market. According to IDC Apple continues to lead the market (as it has since 2010) with 32.5 percent share, followed by Samsung, with 22.3 percent, Asus at five percent and Lenovo at 4.1 percent. Amazon rounds things out with 1.9 percent of the sales. Android is the leading operating system, with almost two-thirds of the market. IDC reported total unit shipments of 50.4 million in Q1 2014, up just 3.9 percent from the same period in 2013.

HP, Foxconn partner seize server opportunity with Internet giants

HP-logo2Hewlett-Packard and long-time contract manufacturing partner Foxconn Technology Group unveiled a joint venture they hope will deliver a major breakthrough in server price-performance for Internet giants like Facebook and Amazon. According to HP, the strategic commercial agreement is aimed at disrupting traditional hyperscale server design with a new line of cloud-optimized servers which "specifically target service providers." Hyperscale servers are low-cost x86-based servers that that power many of the world's largest Internet companies, a market that IDC predicts will grow at a compound annual growth rate of 15 percent to 20 percent through to 2018. Rivals who will feel the pinch of the new server economics this deal is expected to produce include Dell, IBM and Lenovo, which is expected to finalize its $2.3 billion acquisition of IBM's x86 server business this summer.

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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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The Week that was – April 27, 2014

Dimension Data dramatically expands U.S. Presence with Nexus acquisition

dimension-data-logoThe biggest news of the week was far and away the next (and possibly final) phase in Dimension Data’s growth-through-acquisition strategy. The global ICT solution provider announced the acquisition of Valencia, Calif.-based Nexus. Along with an additional 40 percent of the US market, and near 50 percent jump in US revenues, Dimension picked up 19 Nexus offices throughout the West, Southwest and Southeast regions, where Dimension is looking to grow. Valued at $471 million, Nexus offers clear synergies for Dimension. Both companies are prominent Cisco partners. In fact Nexus, which has nearly doubled its sales since 2011, was named the 2014 Cisco Global Americas Partner of the Year, 2014 Cisco Nationals Services Partner of the Year and 2014 US Cisco Capital Partner of the Year.Just a few months ago, Dimension Data expanded its European footprint with the purchase of NextiraOne. Company executives say they expect most of their projected growth (the company wants to double revenue globally and triple US revenue) to now come organically, with some small acquisitions still possible. The terms of the Nexus deal were not disclosed.

Birch Communications announces plans to buy Cbeyond, prompts investigations

BirchNational MSP Cbeyond will be acquired by telecom services provider Birch Communications in a deal worth $323 million, but the announcement was met by raised eyebrows and has prompted numerous investigations by law firms concerned that the deal was undervalued and that alternatives may not have been fully considered. Combined, the two companies, which are both based in Atlanta, GA, would form a national organization focused on communications, cloud and managed services with annual sales of about $700 million. If the current deal goes through Cbeyond shareholders will receive between $9.97 and $10.00 per share. News of the acquisition prompted Cbeyond shared to jump 38 percent to $9.83, up from closing price of $7.08 on the previous trading day.

 

New Microsoft CEO puts his spin of company in first earnings call

microsoft logo-100029828-galleryIn Satya Nadella’s first earnings call since taking over the hotseat as CEO of Microsoft, the company announced earnings that beat Wall Street's profit expectations for Fiscal Q3. Nadella then shared details of how he is going to steer the ship going forward. For the quarter ended March 31, the company reported a profit of $5.66 billion on revenue of $20.40 billion. That’s 68 cents per share, which was up from Wall Street analyst expectations of 63 cents per share on revenue of $20.49 billion. Microsoft's Commercial division saw revenue rise 7 percent year on year, while Devices & Consumer division revenue jumped 12 percent. Microsoft's Commercial Licensing business increased sales by 10 percent during the quarter, generating around half of the company’s overall revenue. Office 365 sales were up, driving adoption of the Azure cloud offering. Even the Windows Surface tablet is showing signs of market growth, posting $500 million during the quarter, up 50 percent year on year though still well down from the $893 million it made over the holiday season. Nadella claimed Microsoft will continually evaluate its plans for becoming a "mobile-first, cloud-first" company and suggested that the software giant would not hesitate to jettison products and services that underperform or which don't fit the mobility and cloud-based vision.

TigerDirect joins Huawei channel program

TigerDirectTigerDirect, one of the largest online resellers of IT equipment to business and end-user customers, is continuing to expand its B2B offerings with the addition of Huawei's server, storage and networking products. Miami-based TigerDirect has been aggressively pursuing the B2B market for almost two years and has been fielding requests for Huawei products, so the move was a natural one, said the company. For Huawei, the new partnership accelerates its recently announced US-based SMB drive, adding 500 more salespeople in a market the company has identified as a specific target.

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The week that was – April 18, 2014

Happy Easter everybody! Here is your long weekend edition carrying the news you don’t want to miss from the past week.

SAP reports positive performance in Q1 with cloud, HANA leading the way

sap-logoThe first quarter was a decent one for SAP, a fact that the company is crediting to positive performances from its cloud, its HANA in-memory computing platform offerings and to its channel. Now with more than 900 VAR and OEM partners and more that 1200 ISVs, SAP is continuing to push its cloud and HANA offerings through the channel. For the quarter ending on March 31, SAP reported revenue of $5.12 billion, up three percent from the same period in 2013. After-tax profit was $740 million, also up three percent from last year. Software revenue declined five percent to $863.3 million, but software and software-related service revenue climbed five percent to $4.23 billion. The real win came in cloud subscriptions and support revenue, which grew 38 percent in the quarter pushing the company’s annual run rate for cloud revenue to near $1.5 billion. SAP is now boasting approximately 36 million users.

Riverbed rebrands its Granite, eyes greater converged infrastructure play

riverbed logoConverged infrastructure vendor Riverbed Technology has announced plans for an updated and rebranded version of its Granite platform that will have more play in branch offices and distributed enterprises. The company is calling the new offering SteelFusion 3.0 – a solution that combines branch servers, storage, networking, WAN optimization and virtualization infrastructure, making it possible to host and manage branch office information in a centralized data center without compromising the locally hosted feel for end users. SteelFusion is an evolution of Granite, and thus built around a central appliance in the data center and an edge appliance in the branch or remote office. The data stored in the central data center is transmitted to the branch via the central appliance which feeds data to the edge device with high enough performance that users won't realize they are actually working with data located off site. According to the company the new SteelFusion brand will reposition the product as a full, converged infrastructure stack, rather than a platform primarily identified with storage, like Granite.

IBM emphasises channel partners in SoftLayer cloud play

IBM-logo1IBM is turning to channel partners to help it step up its SoftLayer cloud services business and offset the significant setbacks the company has been experiencing on the hardware side. Big Blue is making a major cloud services push, including an updated channel program for SoftLayer that will boost reseller margins, make more channel co-marketing money available, and expand in-person partner training. At the heart of the new SoftLayer partner program are bigger partner discounts on recurring SoftLayer business. IBM is promising five to 20 percent increases on discounts for deals worth between $15,000 and $100,000 in recurring revenue. SoftLayer's existing referral program – which pays 10 percent the first year, 8 percent in year two, and 6 percent thereafter – will continue without change. According to the company, IBM would ultimately like to see the number of channel-led accounts increase from 40 percent to 50 percent by the end of the year.

Trend Micro simplifies product choices for SMBs

TrendMicroAware of the complexity of its growing product portfolio, Trend Micro wants to make it easier for partners to make sure they are selling the right solutions to the right customers – i.e.: not selling stuff to people who won’t use it and who will thus wind up dissatisfied with their ROI. According to the company, providing the right mix of products is critical in markets with restricted IT budgets and thus it has unveiled a new strategy that will simplify packaging, especially between SMB and enterprise markets. The new product packaging gives customers the ability to mix on-premise and cloud versions of the security solution, thus supporting hybrid deployment strategies --- something the company has seen increasing. Endpoint protection functionality can be purchased separately or bundled with mail, web, and collaboration server and gateway security.

Other changes from Trend Micro include:

  • A new promotion called Switch To Trend which is aimed at displacing Symantec, McAfee, Sophos and Kaspersky Lab with license portability.
  • Application Control, a new whitelisting option which enables IT teams to set policies on types of software applications, like restricting the installation and use of P2P file-sharing apps.
  • It also boosted its hosted email security suite to support both inbound and outbound protection for Microsoft Office 365.

Google fires next salvo in cloud services price war with Amazon, Microsoft

google logoSearch engine giant Google announced lower than expected first quarter financial results, but that didn’t deter the company from announcing plans to increase its investment in cloud computing infrastructure to continue to drive down costs for enterprise customers. The company, which is the midst of a price war with rivals Amazon and Microsoft, said it would pass savings from lower digital storage costs directly to customers in order to attract more users to its infrastructure as a service offerings. Google reported net income was up three percent in Q1, hitting $3.65 billion and a 19 percent increase in sales to $15.4 billion. Google’s biggest capital expense is increasing data center capacity as the company ensures it is capable of handling the anticipated demand for cloud services.

VMware expands its public cloud with BDR-as-a-Service

VMware logo blk RGB 72dpiVMware finally launched the cloud-based disaster-recovery-as-a-service offering it hs been talking about. This marks the second product offering to go live on Palo Alto, Calif.-based vendor’s public cloud in a matter of weeks. The new service, which starts at $835/month for one TB of storage and 20 GB of RAM, backs up virtual machines running in VMware private clouds to the vCloud Hybrid Service public cloud at intervals ranging from 15 minutes to 24 hours. The company is highlighting the ease of deployment and management, and the lower cost of entry the service – which VMware is targeting at midsize companies – offers. Channel partners can generate additional revenues from the new service by advising customers on which apps should be protected by the service or by running the service on behalf of those customers.

IRS misses Windows XP Deadline, buys extended support from Microsoft

IRS logoIt appears that the U.S. Internal Revenue Service didn’t get the memo about Microsoft’s end of support for Windows XP in time to migrate and has now signed a deal with the software giant for the provision of custom support and security patches for the obsolete operating system. According to a report in the Washington Post, the IRS says it has migrated 52,000 of its 110,000 XP PCs to Windows 7 so far and expects to complete the transition by the end of the year. In total the migration will cost the agency $30 million. Moreover, the agency insists that the situation will have no impact on the processing of individual tax returns. The cost of the special deal with Microsoft was not disclosed, although the IRS claims it is lower that $500,000. This isn’t the only special support deal Microsoft has with its large government clients. The U.S. Department Of Defense is also still in the process if migrating its XP fleet and negotiated extended support while the British and Dutch governments are paying millions for extended support.

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Office 2003 Joins Windows XP on the Scrapheap of Obsolescence

geoff andersonYou’d have to be living in a cave somewhere to have missed the fact that Microsoft ended all service and support for Windows XP last week. The amount of hype surrounding the move has been staggering. So much attention in the channel has been focused on the XP story that you could be forgiven if you had missed the fact that XP wasn’t alone in being banished to the scrapheap of software obsolescence.

Microsoft Office 2003, long a stalwart of office applications, has likewise and simultaneously been cut off and Microsoft is making a strong push to migrate users to Office 365.

“The term ‘paradigm shift’ is badly overused,” admits Geoff Anderson (pictured), but he insists it really applies in this case. As Group Product Manager for Office 365 for SMBs, Anderson is front and center in the drive to make Office 365 as successful with SMBs as Office 2003 was.

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The week that was – April 11, 2014

Ingram Micro reinforces cloud offensive

Ingram-Micro-logoIngram Micro had numerous developments for channel partners during its Ingram Micro Cloud Summit 2014, held in Hollywood, Fla. The IT distributor announced cloud partnerships with IBM and Parallels and introduced a series of new hosted services and tools aimed at simplifying deployment, management and billing for cloud services as more business migrates to the cloud. The relationship with Parallels is based on an equity investment made by Ingram (Cisco also made an investment in Parallels last year) and will see Ingram Micro adopt and deploy Parallels Automation as the core service delivery platform for its new globalCloud Marketplace. Through the alliance with IBM, Ingram Micro will make IBM and its SoftLayer Infrastructure services available to partners, along with data center colocation services from 365 Main, Office 365 migration tools from SkyKick, Charter’s telecommunication services and SurePayroll’s online payroll tools. The trio of new services added to the company’s portfolio are Ingram Micro Hosted Exchange, Ingram Micro Virtual Private Server and Ingram Micro Web Hosting.

Tech Data bulks up TDCloud with Cisco-powered Peak 10 Hybrid Cloud, Services

Tech-DataTech Data announced a partnership with Tampa, Fla.-based Peak 10 to offer its partners a Cisco-powered hybrid cloud solution. Peak 10 uses Cisco to deliver a hybrid cloud environment which is then supported with managed services. Peak 10’s entire range of solutions is now available through the Clearwater, Fla.-based distributor, including public and private cloud options with BDR, security, performance and governance. Partners can access the Infrastructure-as-a-Service solution through Tech Data's TDCloud business unit in the division's Solution Store.

Tech Data partners with Good Technology

Good Technology LogoTech Data also announced an exclusive partnership with Good Technology to distribute its mobile security solutions. Prior to this deal, one of the first announced since Tech Data launched the Tech Data Mobile Solutions division in February, Good Technology’s primary route to market in North America was a small direct sales operation and a handful of channel resellers. Going forward, Tech Data and its larger channel partner network will provide the company's only US sales channel, with all existing resellers moving into the Tech Data network.

 

Gartner: Windows XP migration mitigates falling PC shipments

Gartner logoAccording to global IT analysis firm Gartner, Microsoft’s decision to end support for Windows XP boosted PC shipments in Q1 2014. Research firms have been predicting a significant slide in PC shipments and worldwide PC shipments did decline in Q1, but the 1.7 percent market contraction was much less significant than expected thanks to the rush to upgrade systems driven by the XP migration story. The US market actually experienced modest growth for the quarter, rising 2.1 percent to 14.1 million units. Hewlett-Packard was top dog in the US market, shipping 3.6 million devices, up 1.8 percent over last year. Dell is coming on strong posting a 13.3 percent increase over last year with sales of 3.4 million units while Apple was in the number three slot, with sales dropping 3.8 percent to 1.5 million units. Lenovo, the biggest winner with a 16.8 percent growth rate and sales of 1.5 million units, and Toshiba rounded out the top five. Globally, Lenovo was top, followed by HP, Dell, Acer and Asus.

VMware makes a play for Citrix's XenApp market

VMware logo blk RGB 72dpiVMware announced it is bundling application virtualization technology with its virtual desktop software for the first time in a play to boost its end-user computing business and compete with chief rival Citrix. Horizon 6 is scheduled for general availability in Q2 and uses Microsoft's Remote Desktop Services technology to deliver hosted apps and session-based desktops to any type of device. The product will include VMware's own desktop virtualization and management software but by adding RDS, VMware provides an attractive option for customers that prefer to take a one vendor approach to buying technology for running virtual desktops and apps – which is a key value proposition of Citrix XenApp.

MobileIron files for $100 million IPO

mobileiron logoMobileIron finally did what many channel insiders had been expecting and filed the necessary paperwork with the U.S. Security and Exchange Commission for an IPO it hopes will raise $100 million. The enterprise mobility management vendor named Morgan Stanley & Co. LLC; Goldman, Sachs & Co.; Deutsche Bank Securities Inc.; and Barclays Capital Inc. as the offering’s book-runners. MobleIron is one of the few independent EMM vendors remaining, along with including Good Technology and SOTI Inc. This money will undoubtedly go a long way toward helping the company compete with competitors who have been acquired recently, including acquired AirWatch (acquired by VMware) and Fiberlink Communications (acquired by and IBM). In its S-1 filing, MobileIron said its total revenue grew from $13.9 million in 2011 to $40.9 million in 2012 and $105.6 million in 2013 however, it posted net losses of $25.7 million, $46.5 million and $32.5 million in 2011, 2012 and 2013, respectively. Subscriptions accounting for about 14 percent or revenue while perpetual licenses made up a further 66 percent.

M&A in the channel: Venture Technologies and Information Systems Consulting announce merger

Making an aggressive play for critical mass and scalability, Venture Technologies, a VAR based in Jackson, Miss., and Denver’s Information Systems Consulting have announced plans to merge. The combined IT, network infrastructure and cloud solution provider business will have four data centers and combined revenue of $150 million. The transaction is expected to close next month. The consolidation of operations will be a longer term process, with the entire organization ultimately running under the Venture Technologies brand.

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XP end-of-support: The glass slipper will still fit on April 9th

As the ticker clicks down to H-hour there is a ton of pressure to migrate away from XP. There is, of course, a lot to justify that. As of April 9th, Microsoft will stop supporting XP. That means no new patches to discovered vulnerabilities, no support, no bug fixes, no nothing. If you’re on XP you’re on your own. Moreover, Microsoft may actually expose new vulnerabilities for XP users with the patches they provide for more recent operating systems.

But that’s not the whole story, especially for SMBs.

“It’s not going to turn into a pumpkin overnight,” says Khaled Farhang, Owner, eGuard Technology Services Inc.logotop, a Microsoft Certified partner, provides IT services provider to SMBs and non-profits in the Washington, DC area, downplaying the hype that has overtaken the industry. “There are plenty of companies out there that are protecting operating systems that are out of life.”

For example, despite “strongly recommending small businesses using XP upgrade to a more current operating system as soon as possible,” Symantec has pledged to continue supporting Windows XP systems “for the foreseeable future.”

“We adhere to the three layers of protection approach,” adds Farhang. “You want to have it on the firewall, on the PC side and on the server. Because we believe there is no way you can 100 percent protect yourself as long as you are connected to the Internet so the more layers you have the better offer you are.”

With the XP end of life one layer will fade away, he adds, but as long as you maintain the others you should be okay. “Now, if you are still on XP in two or three years then you may have a problem.”

Ray Vrabel HeadshotRay Vrabel, Director of Technical Account Management for Boston-based RMM provider Continuum, agrees. “For some of the smaller SMBs out there it’s not going to be a big problem. They bought a new PC (at a retailer like Best Buy) and it came with Windows 7 or 8 and they are already up to date.”

Continuum partners currently manage something in the order of half a million PCs ranging from SMBs upwards and there is a significant difference in the degree of urgency from one end of that spectrum to the other.

One of the challenges people in all walks of business are going to face is trying to upgrade the operating system on hardware that wasn’t designed for it, says Vrabel. “There are probably people out there who upgraded the operating system rather than buying new equipment. XP was a very light OS and (older machines may not have the performance specs to handle the heavier operating systems.)”

Adds Farhang, “One thing we do as a trusted advisor, we advise clients upgrade one-third of their computers each year. That’s a complete refresh every three years. Under that system almost everyone is migrated already. We protect every other layer. So we feel they should be okay, at least for the short term.”

No one is saying that existing XP users shouldn’t upgrade sooner or later, but there is no need to panic – especially for SMBs. Things are different for large enterprises that have to worry about migrating 5,000 machines, but for everyone else the world isn’t going to end on April 9th.

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The week that was – April 4, 2014

Your weekly roundup of news for the IT channel.

N-able releases Help Desk Manager for MSPs and updates RMM platform

n-able solarwinds logoRMM vendor N-able rolled out N-Central 9.4, the latest version of its remote monitoring platform, and complimented it with a new Help Desk Manager. The Help Desk Manager features numerous functionalities, including email-to-ticket support, customer portals, automatic ticket assignment, time and material billing, an integrated knowledge base system, an integrated survey engine, drag-and-drop and drilldown dashboards. The Help Desk Manager can be deployed as a standalone solution for companies that don't use an RMM platform but want the capabilities offered by a ticketing solution, or it can be integrated with N-central. N-central 9.4 offers updates to usability and UI enhancements, OS X support, monitoring support, Patch Manager updates, new TeamViewer support and Automation Manager enhancements.

Researchers discover second NSA link to RSA Encryption Toolkit

The news continues to be bad for RSA. Researchers have uncovered a second link to between the company’s encryption toolkit and NSA spying activities, making it possible for the agency to spy on supposedly protected communications. News about the initial vulnerability was leaked by Edward Snowden, prompting a great deal of backlash in the IT community. With accusations that RSA knowingly deployed an encryption algorithm the NSA had compromised refusing to die despite strident denials from RSA, the latest revelation – this latest report will only further fuel the fire. According to a report in Reuters, a research team consisting of professors at Johns Hopkins, the University of Illinois and the University of Wisconsin discovered the "Extended Random" extension, a tool for secure websites that was helped the NSA crack the faulty encryption algorithm. You can read the group’s report detailing their findings.

Extreme Networks unveils new SDN, network management solutions

Ext Logo color 5Extreme Networks is making it easier for partners to manage the technology it acquired in with the $180 million September purchase of Enterasys and its own through a single pane of glass with a new software-defined networking (SDN) architecture and management software. NetSight 6.0 is part of a broader SDN architecture rolled out this week, which uses a combination of hardware and software from both the Extreme and Enterasys portfolios – the latter of which was particularly well known for network management functionality. The next phase of the merger will involve integration of the two partner programs, which have a combined total of about 2,000 global channel partners.

Perficient acquires BioPharm Systems for $17.6 million

Perficient logoSt. Louis-based Perficient is continuing to expand its vertical footprint through acquisition, this time opening up the life sciences and pharmaceutical technology consulting verticals with the purchase of San Mateo, Calif.-based BioPharm Systems for $17.6 million. In February the company bought into the financial tech consulting market when it paid $46 million for ForwardThink Group. BioPharm, which brings an additional 50 consulting, technology, sales and support professionals, will become the life sciences and pharmaceutical element of Peficient’s lucrative health care division which accounts for about 25 percent of Perficient’s annual revenue. The company’s next targeted growth areas: technology consulting firms focusing in energy, gas, utilities and retail.

 

Tech Data launches new portal to help manage recurring revenue opportunities for Cisco partners

Tech-DataTech Data introduced the SMARTattach Opportunity Portal, a new online offering designed to help Tech Data’s authorized resellers get as much recurring revenue from their Cisco services contracts and revenue streams as possible. The Opportunity Portal is part of an larger strategy to emphasize Cisco services and to simplify processes through automation, says the Clearwater, Fla.-based distributor. Initially developed in 2009 to help solution providers add Cisco SMARTnet services to Cisco hardware purchases, SMARTattach now adds the Opportunity Portal to enhance operational management capabilities that have been less than stellar. Going forward, Tech Data resellers will be better able to track what equipment was sold in each account, what services were and were not sold with it and circle back to pitch those services, boosting their recurring services revenues in the process.

Samsung overhauls partner program

Samsung logoSamsung made the largest update to its partner program since the company founded a partner program in 2004, adding new incentives for top tier partners, a revamped partner website, and significant sales performance incentive increases. The new program, dubbed Samsung Team of Empowered Partners, will help the company stay relevant in a rapidly changing IT landscape and continue to compete with Dell, Hewlett-Packard and Lenovo who have been pressuring Samsung into reduced prices (and margins for resellers). Designed to drive sales of its tablets, PCs, memory and other desktop desk top products, the new program is based on a four-tier global partner platform: Platinum, Gold, Silver, and Entry Level. According to the company, the new Platinum tier will provide rebates, volume discounts, dedicated sales resources, demo equipment and marketing development funds. Gold partners also have access to a selection of rebates and to inside sales support. Silver partners can access inside sales and pre-sales support, and engineering product specialists. The new program will be phased in starting April 7.

Salesforce.com announces new vertical industry initiative

salesforce-logo-635Salesforce.com announced a new industry-specific go-to-market strategy at its sales event in Boston with the goal of realizing its ambition to overtake SAP as the world’s third largest enterprise software vendor. Through the new initiative the company will tailor versions of its Salesforce1 CRM platform for specific vertical industries. These solutions will be distributed, at least in part, through increased engagement of the channel, including ISVs, systems integrators and others. Having posted upwards of 30 percent growth per year, President Keith Block told attendees, "We're growing faster than any other enterprise software company in the world." Adding the company forecasts sales of $5.25 billion for the current fiscal year. Salesforce will initially focus its attention on the financial services/insurance, health-care/life sciences, retail/consumer products, communications/media, public sector and automotive/manufacturing industries.

 

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CompTIA revamps membership structure – adds free option for IT professionals

comptia logoCompTIA is changing the way it does things, opening up access to market intelligence and other benefits for all IT professionals to deliver value throughout the channel and increase membership.

Announced at the IT industry association’s annual member meetings this week in San Diego, the new go-to-market approach reorganizes CompTIA’s memberships, introducing a free “Registered Users” category and revamping and renaming the paid membership as “Premium Member” with some new perks.

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The week that was – March 28, 2014

This week’s IT news features a cloud war brewing between Amazon and Google, a CompTIA report that says you could be making more money and major partner program overhauls from Cisco and AMD.

Cisco overhauls partner program

800px-Cisco logo.svgCisco Systems unveiled significant changes to its global partner program at its Global Partner Summit in Las Vegas. Going forward more Cisco partners will be pushed to sell cloud and managed services and to target customers beyond IT. The Next-Generation Cisco Channel Partner Program includes numerous changes to the company’s partner certification structure – many of which address managed services and cloud. Additionally, Cisco's various deal registration programs, including the Cisco Opportunity Incentive Program and Teaming Incentive Program, are being consolidated into a single initiative.

Other changes ushered in by the new program include:

  • Gold partners have to sell at least four Cisco cloud or managed services offerings (a minimum of one of each)
  • Gold partners are also required to have a staff member achieve the new Cisco Business Value Practitioner certification, a new certification also announced at Partner Summit that changes the focus of the sales process from IT to lines of business.
  • The Silver designation will be eliminated.
  • Premier partners will have to sell at least one Cisco cloud or managed services offering and must also hold either a Cisco Express or Advanced Architecture Specialization.
  • There will be no changes to Select Partners.
  • There is also a series of new technical specializations

Gold and Premier partners will have between 16 and 24 months to meet the new requirements under. There are no changes to partners at the Select status.

Price war brews between cloud giants Google and Amazon

new-google-logo-knockoffGoogle fired the first shots in a price war with Amazon by slashing prices for many of its cloud services and rolling out a new consumption-based billing model that offers deep volume discounts. According to the company the cuts, ranging from 32 to 85 percent, are the result of falling hardware component costs. Google is simply passing the savings along to customers. The move instantly catapulted Google into player status in the market for computing resources delivered as services over the Internet, a space dominated Amazon web servicesby Amazon Web Services. Amazon responded just a day later with its own series of price cuts. As of April 1, AWS will cut Elastic Compute Cloud pricing by 10 to 40 percent. The price of Simple Storage Service will fall by an average of 51 percent – cuts will range from 35 to 65 percent depending on the level of service. Amazon's Relational Database Service will be 28 percent cheaper on average, the price of ElastiCache will drop an average of 34 percent, and Elastic MapReduce will be available for 27 to 61 percent less depending on the instance type.

HP increases partner support with new marketing programs

HP-logo2Hewlett-Packard is offering to help drive significant pipeline growth for solution partners with a series of new marketing initiatives. The foundation of the new program, announced at HP’s Global Partner Conference, is a demand generation marketing program that will automatically direct leads directly to partners. Under the present system HP sales reps pass the leads to partners. According to HP, the company passed along more than 100,000 opportunities valued at more than $14 billion to partners in the last fiscal year. These leads were generated by marketing campaigns across all HP business units. HP also is rolling out a co-marketing zone for partners that contains all HP marketing assets including collateral, templates, direct marketing campaigns, ads and banners. HP partners will be able to customize those assets with their own brands and information, effectively tapping into HP’s tremendous marketing force. HP partners can get more information from their HP Partner Business Managers.

Kaseya acknowledges securoty hole

Kaseya.logo.rgbKaseya has publicly acknowledged a security vulnerability in its Virtual System Administrator product. The RMM vendor posted a new product vulnerability note on March 24 and urged users to immediately download and install the patches released on March 17. According to Kaseya, customers have been targeted by malware that mines Windows-based PCs for the digital currency Litecoin – in some cases successfully. In addition to patch installation, Kaseya advised users to audit all Windows end points. Kasaya reported that the Litecoin mining malware is a process running “SoftwareUpdate.exe,” version 1.0.0.0, and the file description is “Apple Software Update.” There is legitimate Appple software usng other version numbers so note the affected version to avoid false positives. Kaseya partners can find detailed removal instructions in its Knowledge Base and can file a ticket with the help desk using the keyword LCCLEAN.

CompTIA report: MSPs leaving money on the table

Comptia logoAccording to CompTIA’s "Third Annual Trends in Managed Services" study, MSPs are not making as much money as they could be. The reason? Market education. Or rather, the lack of it. While many companies use MSPs and report both a high degree of satisfaction with the services provided and with the prices they pay for them, they rarely allow an MSP to manage their entire IT portfolio. They hold back at least in part, because they don’t understand how an MSP can meet all their IT needs. The report advices MSPs to eliminate this disconnect through better communication with their customers by listening to their needs, understanding how they use technology, gain a better understanding of how tech is applied in specific verticals and promote your industry-specific knowledge.

SOTI Unveils New Partner Program

SOTI logoSOTI Inc. unveiled a new channel program aimed at helping partners expand their mobility businesses. The Altitude Partner Program offers a multi-tiered approach, a new program for on-boarding, additional support services, RFP services, new training programs and a new partner portal. According to the company, the industry is at the tail end of BYOD 1.0 and taking basic BYOD implementation to the next level – mobility workflow management. The new channel program is designed to help service providers find opportunities to sell the next stage of mobility services. According to the company, SOTI’s channel business grew 45 percent year-on-year and it will continue to dedicate 70 percent of its overall business to its channel partners.

AMD overhauls partner program for the 1st time in five years

AMD E RGBSunnyvale, Calif.-based chip maker AMD has revamped its partner program for the first time in five years, rewarding partners for evangelizing AMD products and helping the company compete with Intel in new markets. AMD has gradually moved beyond its CPU roots and added APUs, HSA features and Radeon R-Series GPUs. The new program will benefit partners who help AMD push beyond its traditional PC system builder market. One of the changes is the addition of the Hero Builder designation for Elite-level partners. Obtaining the Hero Builder badge will unlock access to additional benefits, such as early access to select AMD technology.

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GoDaddy expands SMB services footprint with Dwolla alliance

GDLogo-1BGoDaddy is continuing to expand its service footprint for SMBs. Over the past several months the Scottsdale, Ariz.-based company has been rebranding itself and aggressively branching out from its foundation in domains and online presence to add more and more services for SMBs. Today the company unveiled a partnership with Dwolla – a low-cost online payments network – that will help SMBs simplify the invoicing process, replacing the entire invoice/cheque/deposit process with an electronic transaction.

The new service, which is available today, offers GoDaddy’s 12 million small business customers an alternative to paper checks or more costly options like PayPal, says Steven Aldrich, GoDaddy Senior VP of Applications.

Paper cheques are still the most prevalent form of payment for SMBs, says Aldrich, adding that cheques introduce a variety of inefficiencies and issues to the process of getting paid that are “less than ideal.” To start with they take time, introducing long cash flow lags. Then they cost money in a number of ways – from the cost of the cheques themselves to processing fees that can run to more than $7.00 per transaction to the money you have to pay your accountant/billing department to manually deal with each transaction.

aldrichsteven-304Credit cards or alternative online options like PayPal aren’t much better. Credit companies usually take a three percent cut of the invoice, which will be about $33 on the average invoice of $1100. By Comparison, Dwolla charges a flat 25 cents on all transactions over $10.

In the past SMBs could use Dwolla, but it was often necessary for the payee to register for a Dwolla account, making the service cumbersome for thousands of small services businesses like plumbers and IT consultants. Dwolla overcame this last year with e-cheque technology that enabled guests to make one-time or multiple payments to Dwolla users from an existing bank account – the technology underlying the GoDaddy offering. The problem was that the Dwolla user needed to do some coding up front to make it work. GoDaddy has simplified the process and done that coding for them.

“This is not just about traditional ecommerce providers,” said Aldrich. “It’s about anyone that gets paid by check today. We’ve found that SMB owners are doing more with the Web and more with their phones. It’s all types of transactions, whether it’s over the web, or I came to your house to fix your roof. Now all you need is an email address and you can send them your invoice.

“With the Dwolla option, you save the SMB hundreds of dollars. It’s also easy, fast and safer for people to move to electronic invoicing and electronic payments.”

This is part of a massive strategic evolution for GoDaddy. In January the company unveiled a new brand identity with a new Super Bowl ad featuring Danica Patrick focussed more on customer identity than titillation and announced a relationship with Microsoft to make Office 365 available to its SMB customers. The company is also moving beyond its traditional strength in the digital business world.

Out of an estimated 28 million SMBs in the US, 23 million of them have five or fewer employees. “That is the customer we are targeting,” says Aldrich. “Those types of firms want that very easy to use service. They are not accountants or web developers so they need an affordable service and they want it to just work.”

To this end GoDaddy no offers a suite of services that deliver four key areas. In addition to its traditional strength in domains and online presence services, the company has been building out its marketing services and business support offerings – including the Dwolla e-cheque services, Office 365 and online bookkeeping.

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The week that was - March 21

Our weekly round-up of the IT news you don’t want to miss.

Symantec fires CEO

Symantec logo horizontal 2010The turmoil at Internet security giant Symantec is continuing with the termination of CEO Steve Bennett. Long-time board member Michael Brown has been appointed President and Chief Executive Officer on an interim basis. The company will begin searching for a permanent replacement immediately. Trading of Symantec stock was temporarily halted following the announcement late Thursday. It dropped as much as 10 percent in after-hours trading. Bennett was in the second year of a transition that was supposed to help the company recover from several years of mediocre performance. Bennett was working on delivering a more integrated product portfolio but the company has failed to explain what that would look like. He had focussed on overhauling the company’s go-to-market strategy, laying off hundreds of employees and refocusing sales efforts on an elite group of about 100 US partners, however the process seemed to be taking longer than expected and he recently said that the coming year would see the process continue. The company announced another quarter of declining revenue with its third-quarter performance numbers, released in January, reporting $1.71 billion, down from $1.79 billion a year earlier.

Xerox launches push for managed services, recurring revenue with new partner program

xeroxXerox introduced a new unified, global partner program last week, and is making a push to promote recurring revenue models that will help partners make more money from print products. According to Toni Clayton-Hine, Vice President of Channel and Global Marketing at Xerox, there is still a huge opportunity in the channel for managed print services, which go beyond simply selling a printing device and making sure it’s online and functional to include the ongoing sourcing of consumable supplies like toner and paper. This kind of ongoing work can be extremely lucrative, with margins in the 60 to 70 point range on consumables. Xerox has prioritized recruiting MPS channel partners and will provide them with new tools, education and training around engaging customers in recurring revenue models, and with opportunities to connect with each other.

Verdasys names new CEO, unveils plans for channel push

verdasysIt was a big week for Verdasys. The Waltham, Mass.-based data loss prevention vendor announced a $12 million investment round, named a new CEO and unveiled plans for a major channel push. Former McAfee exec Kenneth Levine has taken the organization’s reins and announced that the new investment – which brings the total venture capital investments in the company since it was founded in 2003 to $65 million – will be used to boost the reach of its partner program into new markets through improved channel outreach and to enhance the capabilities of its agent-based data loss prevention platform, Digital Guardian. According to Levine, there is an opportunity for Verdasys to expand the product beyond data loss protection to address a broader security footprint, and include such features as malware detection.



AppDynamics boosts partner margins with updated partner program

AppDynamics logoAppDynamics has made moves to protect partner margins by rolling out a new compensation model for its channel program. The San Francisco-based company sells application performance management software that provides clients with visibility into their application stacks and the ability to identify patterns and diagnose problems. Since launching in 2008, AppDynamics has seen year-on-year growth rates in the 175 percent range, something the company credits largely to the growth of its channel business – which has growth to represent 10 to 15 percent of the company’s revenue. Going forward, AppDynamics partners will get 20 percent margins on the first $500,000 of business, 25 percent up to $1 million, and 30 percent on anything topping $1 million. Renewals, which have been in the 96 percent range, will be worth 10 percent margins, 20 percent with support.

Acuative acquires consulting capabilities with Thrupoint purchase

Acuative, formerly known as TelSource, has added consulting capabilities to its portfolio and expanded its geographic reach with the acquisition of the U.S. division of Thrupoint. However, the value of the deal was not disclosed in this week’s announcement. Traditionally, the Fairfield, N.J.-based solution provider was particularly skilled in services implementation and technology operation and maintenance. This move adds consulting services expertise that makes it possible for the company to deliver a credible end-to-end technology service that begins at the earliest consultative phase and continues through delivery to operation. The deal closes a competitive weakness and the company expects to address other weaknesses in like manner as the year progresses.

Intermedia focuses on the channel with increased cloud service commissions and new integrations

IntermediaCloud services provider Intermedia has made moves to increase its indirect sales by raising partner commissions and adding a set of new integrations – with Salesforce, ConnectWise and QuickBooks – that will help solution providers simplify their workflows and processes. Going forward, the three platforms will be integrated with Intermedia’s Partner Portal, providing 350,000 users with the ability to synchronise customer account data with the platforms. This works by allowing customers to create new accounts within the applications and then connect their billing systems. According to the company, this move will make it more attractive to potential partners. Adding further gloss to prospective relationships, the company is raising commissions. For example, partners will receive 10 percent commission on Intermedia's hosted PBX, a 66 percent increase over previous commissions, and eight percent on hosted Exchange, Lync, SharePoint and SecuriSync – a 33 percent increase.

Mitel launches white-label partner program for UCaaS

mitel blue logoOttawa, Canada-based Mitel has launched a new white-label program that will allow partners to resell its MiCloud Enterprise Unified Communications-as-a-Service (UCaaS) offering under their own brands. Mitel will continue to host MiCloud UCaaS in its own data centers, although there will be an option for partners that have their own infrastructure to host it within their own environments in the future. MiCloud Enterprise UCaaS delivers a suite of hosted UC applications, including voice, chat, telepresence, and audio and videoconferencing that can be delivered through as subscriptions either through recurring or up front billing. Mitel, which announced the $400 million acquisition of Aastra Technologies earlier this year, has been gradually pushing its partners to adopt cloud models. Over the last year the company introduced a new sales unit dedicated to driving sales of MiCloud and also unveiled AnyWare Cloud Contact Center, a hosted contact-center-management suite aimed at SMBs.

Huawei Enterprise USA appoints new channel boss, offers major discounts to raise brand awareness

logo-huawei-horiz-largeHuawei Enterprise has appointed channel veteran Glen Ziegler – who previously held senior channel positions with Hewlett-Packard and 3Com – as its new Senior Director of Channel Sales. Ziegler’s first move since taking the reins is an aggressive play to raise the company’s brand recognition in the channel and take market share away from Huawei’s chief competitors, Cisco, Juniper Networks and Extreme Networks. The company, which currently has more than 100 North American channel partners, is offering a 30 percent discount off competitive quotes from those vendors. The next move is a channel recruiting process for its data center offering.

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Cbeyond enters marketing alliance with Microsoft

CBeyond-logo-tagline-colorCbeyond Inc., has signed a marketing deal with Microsoft. Through the alliance, the IT services vendor will gain access to Microsoft’s US channel partners – MSPs, VARs and SMBs – and offer them incentives to put their customer’s solutions in Cbeyond’s cloud. In turn, Cbeyond’s will provide them with its TotalCloud Partner Edition cloud platform which is based on Microsoft enterprise cloud technologies, including Microsoft Windows Server 2012.

According to Greg Treanor, vice president of SMB-oriented IT consultancy RoseBud Technologies, the Cbeyond-Microsoft alliance “lets us address the needs of more SMBs seeking to create and maintain the right technology infrastructure for their business.” RoseBud is both a Cbeyond channel partner, a designated Microsoft Silver Certified Partner and Microsoft Cloud Accelerate Partner.

A key element of the company’s Cbeyond 2.0 cloud strategy, TotalCloud Partner Edition is an advanced cloud platform that enables private, public, and hybrid cloud deployments, a multi-tenant datacenter and cloud infrastructure that simplifies IT service deployment. Previously released Cbeyond 2.0 product platforms include TotalCloud Data Center, TotalCloud Phone System and TotalCloud Foundation.

Cbeyond’s portfolio of TotalCloud computing services makes it possible for SMBs and other businesses to transition fully or partially to the cloud through a suite of customizable, scalable solutions. Customers can access such features as multiple virtual computer and storage bundles, security options for compliance support, integrated network connectivity and intuitive self-service applications. Optional services included dedicated and shared storage, or dedicated physical services to create private or hybrid cloud deployment.

 

“By embracing cloud OS technologies Cbeyond has the ability to provide unified management, single identity across clouds with integrated virtualization, enabling organizations to shift to more efficiently managing datacenter resources as a whole,” said Aziz Benmalek, general manager, partner hosting & cloud services at Microsoft Corp, in a statement, adding that the deal makes it possible for Cbeyond to provide SMBs access to hybrid cloud technologies that would normally be beyond their reach.

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The week that was - March 14

Our weekly round-up of the IT news you don’t want to miss.

Computex Acquires ENETsolutions

computex tech solutionsComputex Technology Solutions, a national IT services company, has completed the acquisition of Houston-based MSP ENETsolutions. The acquisition strengthens Computex’s cloud services and unified communications offerings. In particular, the move bolsters the company’s networking infrastructure by adding data center ccapacity, integration facilities and a 24/7 network operations center for cloud and hosting services and remote network monitoring and management. The acquisition positions Computex to deliver large, national projects including the design, deployment and management of end-to-end enterprise IT environments that mix on-premise, off-premise and hosted solutions and a wide range of cloud computing consulting and professional services.

Barcoding and AeroScout team up to deliver hybrid RFID

barcoding incBarcoding, Inc. and AeroScout Industrial have partnered to deliver hybrid RFID solutions that combine passive and active RFID. By merging the best features of both AeroScout’s active RFID and Barcoding’s passive RFID, this hybrid system approach creates one, unified visibility solution for tracking assets. According to Barcoding Director of RFID Tom O’Boyle, the hybrid approach will deliver a complete, integrated solution that will provide “an accurate, efficient, and connected data capture system that completely meets our clients’ unique and complex needs.”

GFI Software unveils MSP tool for Google apps, Office 365

GFI-MAX

Durham, NC-based GFI Software has unveiled a new tool that will improve the ability of MSPs to manage their customers’ Microsoft Office 365 and Google Apps accounts. App Control, part of GFI Max, provides a single dashboard for the management of Office 365 and Google Apps user accounts, mailboxes and licenses saving MSPs the hassle of having to log in to multiple vendors' consoles to manage customers.

 

Eagle Eye Networks launches new channel program

eagle-blue-side-small2Austin, Tex.-based Eagle Eye Networks – founded in January – has made connecting with the channel a priority and wasted no time launching a channel programto help deliver its cloud-managed video surveillance system to the market. Through the program, the company promises to generate leads on behalf of partners, provide access to system management dashboards that simplify installation and provide 24/7 support. Additionally partners will be able to deploy Eagle Eye Security Camera VMS under their own brand. According to company founder and CEO Dean Drako, Eagle Eye Security Camera VMS is built on four data centers that customers pay for on a monthly basis. This means partners can convert their customers to a recurring revenue model. Unlike previous generations of video surveillance systems which suffered from recording capacity limited by storage capacity, the Eagle Eye system allows solution providers to continuously monitor video surveillance systems and locally store files they want while the rest are archived in the cloud.

NetApp to slash 600 jobs Amid Slower Than Expected Sales, Heightened Competition

netapp logoCloud storage vendor NetApp has announced plans to cut 600 people, citing slow sales and heightened competition. According to the company’s SEC filing, the realignment will allow it "focus its resources on key strategic initiatives and streamline its business in light of the constrained IT spending environment." The move is expected to result in a $35 million to $45 million charge, most of which will be realized in its fiscal Q4.

Exablox adds channel program for MSPs

exablox logoCloud-based storage provider Exablox has rolled out its first channel partner program for MSPs that will provide access to the company's storage appliance and cloud-based management service. According to the company, the new program will support 100 partners focussed on mid-market customers across vertical industries with a marketing development fund for MSPs and is offering up to 30 points of additional margin. The company’s primary offering is OneSystem, a multi-tenant cloud-based management service, that provides remote management of its OneBlox storage solution through a single account.

Cisco leads market for security appliances

IDCAccording to industry analyst firm IDC, Cisco claimed 18.1 percent of the security appliance market in Q4, 2013 – a measure worth $434 million in revenue. The report went on to credit Cisco’s strong position in the market to its October acquisition of Sourcefire, a specialist in cybersecurity. With 12.7 percent of the market and $303 million in revenues, Check Point was second while Fortinet and Juniper was ranked third and fourth respectively. Overall, the market grew 10 percent from Q3 and seven percent year-on-year. For the full year, security appliance revenue grew 5.4 percent to $8.6 billion. "With high profile security incidents, such as the Target breach, becoming more common, organizations are continuing to prioritize security spending," said John Grady, IDC Security Products Program Manager.

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The Week that was: March 7, 2014

Our weekly round-up of the news you don’t want to miss.

Datto upgrades BDR and BC solutions

Datto Backup LogoDatto upgraded its entire line of backup and disaster recovery (BDR) and business continuity (BC) solutions and bolstered its portfolio with the addition of a new cloud-enabled network-attached storage (NAS) appliance in what CEO Austin McChord says is the largest launch of new solutions in company history. The new appliance, Snap NAS, allows users to use snapshot technology to track older versions and view data changes. Snap NAS will be offered in a recurring revenue model The company also released SIRIS 2, a redesign of its SIRIS product line which delivers field upgrade capabilities and eleven hardware models providing partners with meaningful deployment flexibility. DATTO’s ALTO product line for SMB’s also got an upgrade, with faster processing speeds and expanded capacity.

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Savior or Competitor: The new age of IT workforce management Pt. III

tumblr static workmarket logo 672x149Welcome to the third installment in our series on online IT workforce solutions.

SMB Nation has been exploring the rise of Workforce-as-a-Service (WaaS) staffing models and how vendors meet the unique temporary or freelance staffing needs of the IT industry.

In Part One of this series we talked to OnForce President and CEO Peter Cannone. In Part Two we talked to Field Nation CEO Mynul Khan and CMO Billy Cripe. In this installment we have input from Work Market founder and CEO Jeffery Leventhal.

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The Week that was: Feb 28, 2014

Our weekly round-up of the news you don’t want to miss.

Cogent launches its first channel program

cogent logo 1000x37Washington, D.C.-based Cogent Communications launched its first formal partner program. The move marks a strategic shift for the provider of IP networking, Ethernet transport and co-location services, which wants to see more of its enterprise sales going through the channel – ultimately as much as 50 percent of said enterprise sales. The company plans to roll out the program gradually, and plans to sign at least four or five master agent partners by the end of the year. The program launched with two such master agents in place: AB&T Telecom and WTG.

 

AVG introduces new Android administration console for AVG CloudCare

AVG logoAVG Technologies expanded its CloudCare mobile management capabilities with an Android administration console that enhances the ability of MSPs/VARs to remotely manage security services on their customers’ IT systems. The new AVG CloudCare app for Android allows partners to carry out some of the most common admin tasks from their mobile device, including:View and acknowledge all or individual customer alerts as well as manage individual services, acknowledge/view the detailed data of alerts to find out more information and remotely deploy services such as antivirus, content filtering and online backup to customer devices via email.

 

Ingram Micro announces plans to lay off another 180 North American employees

Ingram-Micro-logoThe bad news cycle is continuing at Ingram Micro with the company announcing it will lay off another 180 North American staffers – and probably more globally. The move, which was previewed on its Q4 earnings call earlier this month, comes just a few months after the company announced its last corporate restructuring – something it calls the 2014 Global Organizational Effectiveness Initiative. The company claims the moves will cut $80 to $100 million and allow Ingram Micro to focus on new opportunities and growth areas. On the chopping block are the Specialty Solutions Division, AVAD, data capture/point-of-sale, mobility and consumer electronics. According to the company, those growth areas include healthcare, SMB, and the public sector, along with specific verticals where Ingram Micro wants to strengthen its position, like financial services. In fairness to Ingram Micro, the company claims to be recruiting as many as 300 people to focus on these areas.

 

NetSuite and Dell partner

netsuiteDell and NetSuite have entered into an alliance that will see Dell’s services organization resell and deploy NetSuite's ERP and e-commerce cloud applications for midsize customers. Through the deal NetSuite will gain access to Dell's customer base and while it could create opportunities for some NetSuite partners, the emphasis for NetSuite is getting access to Dell’s sales channel and professional services. The majority of NetSuite's existing partners sell NetSuite's standard ERP, CRM and e-commerce applications to SMB customers, but this deal could create competition for those few that are working with NetSuite's OneWorld cloud application suite, which is designed for larger organizations.

 

“NSA spying scandal will hurt U.S. businesses”

According to Richard Clarke, president of Good Harbor Security Risk Management and one of the members of President Barack Obama's surveillance review panel, US tech companies are feeling the guilt-by-association-fallout from the NSA spying scandal. Speaking at the Cloud Security Alliance Summit – essentially a one-day preconference attached to RSA 2014 – Clarke blamed the NSA leak scandal for the falling market shares of US tech companies in Europe, Latin America and Asia and said the full extent of that fallout is yet to manifest itself. According to Clarke, who served as special adviser to the president for cybersecurity, and national coordinator for security and counterterrorism for the last three U.S. administrations, the NSA leaks have given some countries propaganda fodder which they are using to boost the prospects of domestic companies. Clarke went on to say that trust in encryption needs to be re-established before the effects of the scandal can be overcome.

 

IBM acquires Cloudant, plans major cloud services push

IBM-logo1IBM continued to add technology to its steadily expanding cloud portfolio by picking up Boston-based database-as-a-service firm Cloudant for an undisclosed sum. The news broke on the same day Big Blue said it would invest $1 billion over the next two years in cloud-software development as it tries to morph from a hardware, software and services company to a cloud-services company and compete with the likes of Amazon and Microsoft. Cloudant gained specific recognition for its ability to manage complex databases and big data processing.

 

ForeScout plans BYOD monitoring and policy enforcement

forescout logoForeScout Technologies Inc., will release a monitoring solution that will provide customers of its network access control solution, CounterACT, with the ability to monitor mobile devices and enforce security policies. According to the network security specialist, the CounterACT RemoteControl capability will be available by the middle of the year as a downloadable software upgrade at no cost for customers under active maintenance agreements.

 

 

Anturis updates its IT monitoring and troubleshooting solution

Anturis logoAnturis has added numerous features to its website monitoring and troubleshooting platform. Anturis Version 1.4, which provides organizations that don’t have advanced IT departments or a large IT budgets with enterprise-class IT infrastructure monitoring and troubleshooting cloud services, includes all the features an SMB needs – but is affordable and simple to set up and use. The updated solution introduces Parallels Plesk integration, dashboards and other features designed to help SMBs and web hosting companies manage their online presences.

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Is Your Online Reputation Important to You?

court-cunningham-hi resDo you value the potential influence of online customer reviews? According to the new SMB Sentiment Survey released by Yodle this morning, only half of SMBs answer that question in the affirmative. Put another way, half of you think that having a customer write something nice about you online is of no value to you.

Interestingly, another survey – published in April of last year – found that 90 percent of buyers reported being influenced by positive online reviews.

“There’s an enormous disconnect between the marketing value of a review and the businesses perception of the review,” says Court Cunningham, CEO of Yodle, a New York, NY-based local online marketing company (pictured). According to Cunningham, only 13 percent of small business owners are actively trying to solicit reviews from their customers and 23 percent have come out and said they aren’t important at all.

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The week that was: Feb. 21, 2014

Our weekly round-up of the news you don’t want to miss:


AVG Reports Q4 Earnings: Level Platforms Acquisition Performing Well

AVG logoAVG Technologies, reported positive growth in revenues and net income for Q4 2013. According to CEO Gary Kovacs the company made significant progress selling its CloudCare and AVG Managed Workplace (formerly Level Platforms Managed Workplace) solutions into the channel. The company said its Q4 2013 revenue rose seven percent from $95.2 million in Q4 2012 to $101.9 million. Net income almost tripled to $12.8 million from $4.9 million in the same period last year.

 

McAfee Offers Pay-as-You-Go and additional solutions to MSP program

Mcafee graphicMcAfee, the security tech division of Intel, has heard the voice of its channel partners and will finally offer MSPs a pay-as-you-go option for its network security and security management solutions. The idea is that the new model will help MSPs reduce upfront costs, and therefore risk. McAfee will also add additional solutions to its MSP Program, including: McAfee Next Generation Firewall, McAfee Enterprise Security Manager, McAfee Network Security Platform and McAfee Advanced Threat Defense.

 

 

Symantec opening the curtains on Global Channel Strategy

Symantec logo horizontal 2010Symantec has unveiled Symantec Competencies, part of its Global Channel Strategy, which was announced in November. The plan will reward channel partners that have proven their ability to implement complex projects and use a broader selection of the company’s product portfolio, while cutting those who are deemed to underperform. According to the company, partners must meet minimum performance standards and demonstrate commitment to Symantec to gain access to channel rewards and incentives.

Total Defense adds new services for MSPs

Total-Defense-LogoTotal Defense has added a couple of new cloud-based security services to its Total Defense Business platform for MSPs – email archiving and data leakage prevention (DLP). Cloud-based email archiving lets users automatically store all email communications and then access them in real time. This is particularly useful for business with regulatory compliance requirements. The DLP solution is designed for deployment in the cloud across all of the end user’s devices, regardless of their location and replaces the pot luck of individual security tool commonly used today with a single solution.

 

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Savior or Competitor: The New Age of IT Workforce Management Part II

Khan PhotoWelcome to the second installment in our series on online IT workforce solutions.

Like everything else, the temp agency business model has felt the seismic impact of the Internet and the new technologies it has spawned, such as the cloud and social networking. This has opened the door to completely new models – models that deliver different services in different ways; models that even open up completely new corporate structures. Workforce-as-a-Service is one such model being touted by numerous vendors, but the standard Elance and oDesk-type crowd models that have dominated freelance work like writing and software development don’t work for the delivery of IT services. So how do they work? What kind of IT expertise can you get and how do you get it?

In Part One of this series, we talked to OnForce President and CEO Peter Cannone. In this installment, we have the insights of Field Nation CEO Mynul Khan (pictured) and CMO Billy Cripe.

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Savior or Competitor: The New Age of IT Workforce Management

OnForce labormarketTemp agencies have long been a part of the professional landscape. Like everything else, the temp agency model is evolving to take advantage of new technologies. However, while online freelance meat market platforms like oDesk and Elance might be okay for outsourcing knowledge work like writing, software development and graphic design projects, they are not necessarily a great fit for the service-oriented IT market.

The answer: the rise of IT-specific online workforce platforms that offer more than a reverse auction experience delivering the lowest cost workers possible. Many MSPs and VARs – and even direct end users – are already embracing the new workforce platforms to provide Just-in-Time IT resources when and where they are needed. But what does that new model look like? How does it work?

We’ve talked to the CEOs of two of the leading vendors delivering this new, so called Workforce-as-a-Service (WaaS) model, Pete Cannone of OnForce and Mynul Khan of Field Nation, to find out. We’ll highlight OnForce today and follow up with a Field Nation profile in a few days.

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The Week that was: Feb 14, 2014

Our weekly round-up of the news you don’t want to miss:

 

800px-Cisco logo.svgCisco sales and profit slide in Q2

The San Jose-based networking giant warned everyone in November that Q2 would be ugly, so it was no surprise when the numbers hit The Street this week that revenue was down 7.8 percent YoY to $11.2 billion. The company blamed weakness in emerging markets where the NSA spying scandal is still making waves, however not all was gloom. Net income for the quarter was still very positive at $1.4 billion. There’s a lot going on in this space right now with Alcatel-Lucent making noise about divesting enterprise communications, but Cisco is not about to make like Nortel and implode.

comcast logoComcast to acquire Time Warner in $45.2 billion blockbuster

Comcast has announced its intention to acquire Time Warner, creating a “new channel powerhouse” and potentially reshaping the IT and telecom landscape. The all stock deal is expected to close by the end of the year, with Comcast already stating it is willing to drop as many as 3 million existing Time Warner service subscribers to avoid regulatory hurdles. According to both companies, the combined portfolios will enable higher broadband speeds, faster Wi-Fi, and other new consumer and business offerings. It will also better position Comcast to compete against Verizon and AT&T.

Axcient logoAxcient unveils new virtual data protection appliance

Mountain View, Calif.-based Axcient has introduced the Axcient Virtual Appliance, expanding its cloud-based recovery-as-a-service offering. The new product allows partners and customers to select their own hardware platforms or – at some point down the road – move their service to the cloud. This is a major move for Axcient as it is no longer necessary for users to buy HP servers as was the case in the past. According to the company, the virtual appliance delivers all the same capabilities as the physical appliance.

earthlink-logoEarthlink takes monitoring and management on premise

Cloud-based monitoring and management vendor Earthlink has announced an on-prem version of its solution making it possible for clients to manage their on-prem infrastructure in addition to their cloud assets. The company says the new service will include all routine maintenance tasks and resolve related issues, providing mid-sides companies with enterprise class management and monitoring capabilities.

Extreme Networks introduces Purview

Extreme Networks has made its first major product move since acquiring fellow networking vendor Enterasys last September. Purview is a network analytics solution that features technology from both Enterasys and Extreme and will be sold through both Enterasys and Extreme distribution channels. Purview uses Enterays’ CoreFlow2 ASIC tech to monitor users, applications and devices as they access the network. That information is aggregated and analyzed before being turned into visual reports, dashboards and business analytics that provide solution providers and IT administrators with actionable network activity data – such as what applications are being used the most and how much bandwidth they are drawing.

DDoS attacks are getting more sophisticated

The Internet is a battleground every single day with distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks flying around. This isn’t news to IT professionals, but what might be new is the way these attacks are evolving. DDoS attack toolkits are becoming more available and provide even low level cyber criminals with the ability to launch a sophisticated attack. The largest DDoS attack ever seen was launched Monday against one of Internet security vendor CloudFlare’s clients, a US bank. At its peak the Network Time Protocol server amplification attack reached 400 Gbps and involved more than 4,500 servers. Various reports this week reported that the cost of such attacks start at $100,000 and go up every hour that passes before the attack resolves.

RMM to blame for security breaches in retail?

In a leaked report obtained by The Wall Street Journal, the FBI has suggested that remote monitoring and management software may have provided the vector for attacks that stole the personal data of millions of Target and Neiman Marcus customers over the holiday season. The two-page report warns that the software was exploited through a series of payment card hacks.

 

 

 

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The week that was: Feb. 7, 2014

Our weekly round-up of the news you don’t want to miss:

While Microsoft’s announcement of Satya Nadella as its new CEO dominated IT-oriented news cycles this week it certainly wasn’t the only thing that happened.

Sony is getting out of the PC business.

Sony announced on Thursday that it’s going to sell off its VAIO line of PCs and get out of the PC market. The Japanese consumer electronics giant has been struggling in both the PC and TV markets and has rolled out "various reform measures" to try to make them profitable over the past two years but doesn’t expect that to happen before the current fiscal year ends in March. The VAIO brand and business will be sold to investment group Japan Industrial Partners (JIP), although Sony says it will continue to provide customer aftercare services. From now on, Sony will focus on smartphones and tablets.

Tech Data Unveils Global Mobile Division

Tech Data Corporationintroduced Tech Data Mobile Solutions – which really amounts to the company's “new again” global mobile business that was previously known as TDMobility. Tech Data’s initial foray in mobility was formed as a U.S. joint venture between Tech Data and Brightstar Corp. in April 2011 with Tech Data buying out Brightstar last November. Tech Data vet Rod Millar will lead the division as Senior Vice President, Tech Data Mobile Solutions. "Mobile products and solutions continue to be a strategic focus for Tech Data throughout our worldwide operations," said Bob Dutkowsky, chief executive officer at Tech Data. "Over the past seven years, Rod has been instrumental in the growth and development of Tech Data Mobile, our European mobile business. This new organizational structure further solidifies our commitment to the growing mobile space and better aligns our resources to this important component of our company strategy."

SDN Group recruits Startups

onf-logoThe Open Networking Foundation, one of several organizations promoting the adoption of software-defined networking, has dropped its membership free from $30,000 to $1,000 for startups (you have to be two years old or less to qualify), which will get the same membership bennies as their more established colleagues – which include the likes of Cisco Systems, Dell, Hewlett-Packard, Intel, Google, Facebook and Oracle.

SolarWinds Earnings: Recurring Revenue jumps for N-able Parent

n-able solarwinds logoSolarWinds, parent of RMM vendor N-able Technologies, reported strong Q4 2013 results and says it will focus on driving new business through both subscriptions and licenses in the new year. For its Q4 2013, revenues increased 32 percent to $97.1 million YoY and net income dropped slightly to $21.9 million. In an earnings call with Wall Street analysts, SolarWinds CEO Kevin Thompson said the N-able team -- led by GM JP Jauvin -- continues to perform well and has seen increased demand across the entire portfolio. In addition to the acquiring N-able, SolarWinds also invested in application performance management (APM) vendor AppNeta and acquired database performance management specialist Confio.

Roaring Penguin announces integration with Autotask for MSPs

Roaring penguin logoRoaring Penguin Software, Inc.is rolling out an integration with Autotask, along with a new messaging product, for MSPs in the latest version of its email filtering software. With the release of CanIt 9.1.0, Hosted CanIt and CanIt-Domain-PRO can now integrate with Autotask to automate monthly billing for anti-spam services. This is the first PSA integration for Roaring Penguin and the company is open to connecting with other products.

Report: Cellular M2M Tech will continue to see strong growth

According to a new report byBerg Insightthe retail industry experienced 18.4 million cellular M2M connection in 2013 and that number is expected to grow to hit 33.3 million by 2018. Cellular M2M technology frees retailers from the constraints of fixed line connectivity for their POS terminals and ATMs making them far more flexible. Berg Insight is equally bullish on the shipment forecasts for Cellular M2M device shipments, which it predicts will grow at a CAGR of 6.5 percent from 6.6 million units in 2013 to 9.1 million units in 2018.

NRF wants a collaborative approach to fighting cyber fraud

The National Retail Federation(NRF) is urging Congress to take a comprehensive approach to criminal cyberattacks in which millions of consumers’ credit and debit card numbers are stolen. NRF said retailers are willing to do their part to improve security, but that banks and card companies must also take major steps to shore up the current fraud-prone payments system.NRF Senior Vice President and General Counsel Mallory Duncan testified before a subcommittee of the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee where he said the banking industry needs to start with the replacement of current cards that store consumer data on 1960s-era magnetic strips with modern cards that encrypt data on an embedded microchip and can only be used with a secret Personal Identification Number. Duncan also encouraged Congress to pass the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act, which will make it easier for banks and retailers to share information about cyber threats.

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Good News All Around...

Spiceworks CompTIAWinter is research season in the IT industry with several reports hitting the streets, full of insights and information on what’s happening now and what’s expected for the near future. The goal of all these reports is to deliver insights that IT business owners/managers can use to plan the coming year.

Spiceworks released its third annual State of IT Budget Report promising a “microscopic view of North American IT spending” for the coming year, while CompTIA pushed out its IT Industry Outlook 2014.

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Happy Birthday Facebook

facebook-like-buttonIt wasn’t the 1st social network, but it is definitely the biggest and it has provided a lot of business for IT professionals over the years through increased network traffic, security issues and various other side effects to people sharing pictures of grumpy cats so we’d like to take a moment to wish Facebook a happy 10th Birthday.

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Symform Breaks Silence

By Alex Anderson, Contributing Author, SMB Nation

Mark AshidaSeattle-based Symform, Inc. is gearing up to launch the next version of its innovative backup and storage solution, effectively killing rumours that had begun circulating in some industry circles, questioning the company’s future.

Those rumours, which were more than a little surprising given the fact that barely two years ago the Seattle, WA-based organization raised $11 million, bringing the company’s total financing to $19.5 million, were the result of a lack of public activity from the company, with announcements and social media channels being more or less dark since early last year.

Pictured: Mark Ashida, CEO, Symform

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eshier
Wonderful learn I simply handed this onto a colleague who was doing a little analysis on that And he really purchased me lunch as ... Read More
Tuesday, 26 August 2014 18:57
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