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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.
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TA Associates to Invest $187,000,000 in StorageCraft Technology

New Chairman and CEO Joins Backup and Recovery Software Provider

BOSTON, January 13, 2016 – TA Associates, a leading global growth private equity firm, today announced it has signed a definitive agreement to invest $187,000,000 in StorageCraft Technology Corporation, a leading international provider of backup and recovery software, to support the growth of the company. Additional terms of the transaction were not disclosed. The investment is expected to close in late January. In connection with the investment, Matt Medeiros has joined StorageCraft as Chairman and CEO.

Primarily serving small to medium-sized businesses, StorageCraft provides backup, disaster recovery, system migration, virtualization and data protection solutions for servers, desktops and laptops on Windows and Linux platforms. The company’s integrated product suite is designed to reduce downtime, improve management and stability of systems and data, and lower the total cost of system ownership in both physical and virtual environments. StorageCraft’s software solutions are available in traditional on-premise license form through more than 8,000 value-added resellers, and on a subscription basis through approximately 3,100 managed service providers (MSPs). In addition, StorageCraft is an original equipment manufacturer (OEM) for a number of leading third-party backup and recovery solution providers. Founded in 2003, StorageCraft is headquartered in Draper, Utah, with a European headquarters in Cork, Ireland, and regional offices around the world.

Mr. Medeiros joins StorageCraft from Dell SonicWALL, where he served as General Manager of Security Software. Prior to Dell’s acquisition of SonicWALL, Inc. in 2012, he served as Chief Executive Officer and President of SonicWALL, a position he held since joining the company in 2003. A computer networking and software industry veteran, Mr. Medeiros’ more than 35 years of PC manufacturing, operations and materials management experience includes a number of senior executive-level positions with Apple Computer, NeXT Computer and Phillips Electronics.

“We are excited about this investment and to welcome a highly credentialed technology executive like Matt to the company,” said Jonathan W. Meeks, a Managing Director at TA Associates who will join the StorageCraft Board of Directors. “With its award-winning business continuity and disaster recovery product suite, StorageCraft has had notable success, directly and indirectly serving over 10,000 MSPs. In keeping with TA’s long-established investment approach, we will collaborate closely with Matt and his team to further grow the company.”

“StorageCraft has become a thriving international software development company because of the performance and reliability of our products,” said Matt Medeiros, Chairman and CEO, StorageCraft Technology Corporation. “This investment is further testament to StorageCraft’s achievements. We see a number of avenues to expand StorageCraft’s product offering and to grow our client base, particularly in international markets, and anticipate TA will play a central role in these efforts. We will continue to aim to build best-in-class products and programs specifically designed for channel partners.”

“The investment from TA marks an important milestone for StorageCraft,” said Curt James, Vice President of Marketing and Business Development, StorageCraft Technology Corporation. “We take great pride in the company’s many accomplishments since its inception in 2003, but recognize there is still significant opportunity to expand. We view this partnership with TA Associates as the next big step in our evolution and look forward to further building our business with their support.”

Gartner valued the business continuity/disaster recovery (BC/DR) market at $5.2 billion in 2014, and predicts it will reach $7 billion by 2019, a 6% compound annual growth rate (CAGR). According to MarketsandMarkets, global Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS) is the fastest growing component of the recovery market and is forecast to increase to $5.8 billion by 2018 from approximately $640 million in 2013, a 55% CAGR.

“Computer down-time, whether due to human error, malware, disaster or other failure, remains a huge challenge for businesses,” said Jason P. Werlin, a Managing Director at TA Associates who will also join the StorageCraft Board of Directors. “Growth in data and in virtualized environments, legal and regulatory requirements, and increased demand for information management, are among the drivers of expansion of the business continuity and disaster recovery markets. Given these industry dynamics and StorageCraft’s established market position, we expect a continuation of the company’s impressive growth.”

Goodwin Procter is providing legal counsel services to TA Associates. Holland & Hart LLP is serving as legal counsel and Boston Meridian Partners is providing advisory services to StorageCraft.   About StorageCraft Technology Corporation The StorageCraft family of companies, founded in 2003, provides best-in-class backup, disaster recovery, system migration and data protection solutions for servers, desktops and laptops. StorageCraft delivers software products that reduce downtime, improve management and stability of systems and data, and lower the total cost of ownership. For more information, visit

About TA Associates TA Associates is one of the largest and most experienced global growth private equity firms. The firm has invested in more than 450 companies around the world and has raised $24 billion in capital. With offices in Boston, Menlo Park, London, Mumbai and Hong Kong, TA Associates leads buyouts and minority recapitalizations of profitable growth companies in the technology, financial services, business services, healthcare and consumer industries. More information about TA Associates can be found at

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The Strategic Service Provider: a new approach for channel partners

By Pete Engler

When small to medium businesses (SMBs) shop for partners to help with their technology needs, they want expertise, dependability, trust, convenience - and one-stop shopping. In the past, technology solutions utilized by SMB customers often came together by accessing a collection of multiple companies (or partners) specializing in specific areas. One partner would typically handle the data infrastructure, another the telecommunications, and another the desktops and laptops, etc. Many different IT partners were needed to support the entire technology needs of a business. Today, the different services listed above are easily consolidated and provided by fewer partners. With this consolidation of services, some channel industry experts are saying it’s time to re-evaluate how partners are classified. As a partner or reseller, that means it may be time for you to consider becoming a Strategic Service Provider (SSP).

How did we get to the idea of a SSP? The rise of value added resellers (VARs) and managed service providers (MSPs) started the shift toward consolidation of the IT service offerings by a single partner. Telecommunications is a prime example. Traditionally, this service was provided by a separate reseller from the data infrastructure partner. Now, most voice services are carried over the data networks utilizing VoIP; a data integrator/reseller can add this service to their portfolio and eliminate the need for a separate specialized provider.

In the ever evolving technology channel, the SSP will play a critical role delivering a new type of information technology service to SMBs. The basic premise of a SSP involves getting to know a business's current processes, problems and overall business goals before executing and implementing a solution. You may be thinking that is what the MSPs, VARs and traditional resellers of today are doing.

The main difference is the SSP provides all the IT services for a business in a cloud and services model with an in-depth understanding of the business. The solution is no longer in a silo, such as selling and integrating only a phone system. The SMB can now leverage the business process and technology expertise of the partner (or SSP) to provide a complete solution for the entire business. Such a solution can be cloud, premises or a hybrid mixture of theses components. The main advantage for a business when choosing to work with a SSP is utilizing a model of service that’s delivered at one monthly price and includes all the IT services tailored to fit the needs of that business customer. 

Many factors are driving the shift to SSPs: the ever changing technology fueling the race to the cloud, the shift to a recurring revenue model for resellers, and the customer’s desire to have a single advising partner with solid business acumen for all their IT needs. Consolidation of services and payment combined with solid business operations knowledge is an attractive model for the present and future SMB.

As an existing reseller, if you don’t already offer a complete IT package of services/solutions based on one monthly price, it might be time to consider moving to this model. It offers the customer a single resource to call when there’s an issue (a resource that fully understands that business) and the customer only has to pay one bill for all services. For resellers already implementing this model of service, it’s a matter of whether or not to go with the industry trend of calling yourself a SSP to better position your company as a strategic partner.

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

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Webinar: SMB Nation State of the Union 2016

Thu, Jan 7, 2016 12:00 PM - 1:00 PM PST

Presented by:  Harry Brelsforf CEO of SMB Nation and Anurag Agrawal Heading Techaisle

Welcome to 2016.

Kick off the year properly with a moment of reflection before the crush begins. SMB channel expert Anurag Agrawal will share important insight into the exact nature of the changing channel and how you can capitalize on the disruption. Learn how partners are pivoting to profitability in an increasingly cloud world where customers are making more IT decisions. Discover how to work more closely with your vendors under the “new rules.” Will the forecasted increase in wages and a seventh year of economic recovery translate into the break-out year we’ve been waiting for? Do national elections really stall decision-making in 4Q? What are the five hot 2016 trends you can immediately capitalize on? And what investment should you make in your MSP practice today to insure success in 2016 (hint: back office operations).

Hear from Atera, the invited guest, how its newly launched MSP solution lowers costs and streamlines back office operations.

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Adobe’s Record Revenue Proves Successful Business Transformation Is Possible

by Ron Miller (@ron_miller)


As we watch organizations like IBM, HP and EMC struggle to transform, Adobe is an interesting contrasting case. It went from selling boxed software to a cloud subscription model in shorter order, and judging from its financial report that came out last week, it’s done quite well making that leap.

First, let’s have a look at the numbers. Adobe reported a record $1.31 billion in revenue for the quarter, a 22 percent year over year increase. It disclosed record annual revenue of $4.8 billion. Mind you these are significant, but the big number to me is that recurring revenue from subscriptions now represents 74 percent of Adobe’s business. What’s more, just under $3 billion in revenue in 2015 came from digital media-related annual recurring revenue (ARR).

In fact, the company added $350 Million in recurring revenue in the fourth quarter alone. Adobe reports that this growth was driven by increasing enterprise adoption and the addition of 833,000 new individual and team Creative Cloud subscriptions.

All of this paints a picture of a company that has made a successful transition to a subscription model. While many companies struggle to change themselves, Adobe executed a clear plan well before its back was up against the wall.

As an organization founded way back in 1986, it wasn’t that long ago that Adobe sold boxed software. That all changed in May, 2013 when the company announced that it was launching Creative Cloud and discontinuing its centerpiece, Creative Suite boxed set. It was a shocking decision. As TechCrunch’s Frederic Lardinois wrote at the time:

    Most Max attendees probably expected Adobe to reveal Creative Suite 7 today. Instead, the Creative Suite name is actually going away in favor of Creative Cloud, which won’t have traditional version numbers anymore. For Adobe, of course, this also means the company is now making the move to a new business model, where the focus will be squarely on subscriptions and not on selling boxed software, licenses and upgrades anymore.

It’s fairly remarkable that the company has been able to make such a rapid transformation just 2.5 years after initially announcing the plan to go subscription, but perhaps it was that willingness to go all in that has led to its success. It’s also somewhat surprising that their customer base went along with the change and didn’t rebel, but perhaps they gained something as well, something they didn’t even know they wanted.

Taking The Bull By The Horns

Adobe did something that most companies are afraid to do. It ripped off the band-aid and decided to focus completely on a new subscription revenue model. It could have had a long period of adjustment where it decided to offer the box alongside the cloud subscription versions, but it chose to bet the ranch at a time when most of its peers were struggling with changing business approaches.

If you want a means of comparison, look at Microsoft. It’s still offering both the boxed version of Office and the cloud version, Office 365. On the enterprise software side, it’s still offering both cloud and on-prem versions of Dynamics CRM, SharePoint and many other tools.

To be fair, Adobe didn’t just jump to a new model without some good old-fashioned market testing first. It built the cloud product and tested it with customers, and what gave them the courage to make this move was the overwhelmingly positive reaction from early users, Scott Morris from Adobe told Frederic Lardinois in 2013 at the time of the decision.

    What makes him and the rest of the Adobe team believe that this will work, he told me, is that virtually everybody who has subscribed to Creative Cloud loves it. It even gets a higher rating in Adobe’s online store than Photoshop, “which is virtually unheard of,” as Morris told me.

You have to remember that Adobe sold very expensive software suites running from around $1200 all the way up to $2500. The thing is, you paid all of that money to own a fixed version of the software. By going subscription, companies and individual creative people no longer had to put out vast sums of money to get the latest features. Now they pay by the month and Adobe continually updates the product.

It works for Adobe on several levels. Instead of trying to convince its user base to shell out a huge chunk of change every two or three years (something many people wouldn’t do), it keeps its loyal customers permanently (or as permanent as any customer can be) — and it has this fixed pool of recurring revenue. What’s more, from a development perspective instead of having long, drawn-out development cycles, it now can add features on a regular basis, which is far more manageable.

As for their users, they get the latest and the greatest features delivered on a far more regular basis for a fixed cost. It’s a situation in which everyone wins. Prices vary, but individual user prices start as low as $9.99 per month, a single application runs $20 a month, while the entire creative cloud suite of tools will set you back $80 a month. A business version with managed deployment goes for $70/license for the entire suite or $30/license for an individual application.

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Don't Underestimate the Marketing Power of Your Email Signature

by Deborah Galea  |  December 15, 2015

The average worker sends out about 34 emails a day, according to the Radicati Group. Those emails are exchanged with prospects, customers, suppliers, and business partners, creating a great opportunity to educate and inform contacts by means of a small, yet useful marketing tool: the email signature.

Email signatures include the sender's contact information, job title, and company information. Besides providing useful contact information, the email signature can be used to build company brand awareness, provide company news, and encourage social media interaction.   Muscle Man

Instead of using this tool to its full potential, however, many business emails do not include an email signature at all. And when they do, the email signature is often unprofessional or incomplete.

But by ensuring that each email that your company sends out includes a professional and consistently branded email signature, you can...

1. Increase Brand Awareness

By using company fonts and colors, and adding your logo to email signatures, the recipient will become familiar with the company's brand, which will increase company awareness and recognition. Experts agree that to project a strong brand, every piece of marketing collateral and communication must include the same consistent message, be in line with your brand values, and adhere to your brand guidelines. Companies send thousands of emails per day, so email signatures should be consistent across the board and leave the recipient with the right impression of the company.

2. Promote Company News

Email signatures can be used as "free" marketing tools where announcements can be made about company news, such as a new product release, event or award, or taglines can be added to educate the recipient about the company. By using the email signature space, you can keep your target contacts up to date without being intrusive. You can also include a link to your newsletter sign-up page to remind your customers and contacts to follow your company's news. If there is a special promotion running, why not include it in your email signature?

3. Encourage Social Interaction

Including social media links in email signatures encourages contacts to connect with your company on social media.

A great way to increase website visitors and social media interaction is to include the latest company tweet or post in the email signature. Alternatively, include a call-to-action to join a Twitter competition or take a survey. Why not give your happy customers a way to express their satisfaction with your company's service? Include a line in your email signature inviting them to share their experiences: Did we provide you with excellent service today? We would greatly appreciate a like on our Facebook page!

Although businesses might realize the necessity of consistent, branded email signatures to build their company's image, the manual process of sending email signatures and updates to employees who then have to manually update their signature in their various email programs and devices such as tablets and mobile phones is very tedious. This is why an email signature management system is needed that allows companies to control email signatures from one central location, offloading employees and facilitating marketing.

Central Email Signature Management

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Yay! Section 179 Restored and MSPs Happy!

Yay! Section 179 Restored and MSPs Happy!

Story by Harry Brelsford, CEO, SMB Nation -

John Scheich, long-time SMB Nation member and Southern California MSP, is also a CPA and can lecture on the Section 179 matter. Shown here at the SMB Nation Fall Conference 2012 holding a book by Karl Palachuk!

What is a Section 179 provision and why are MSPs happy about it?

First – the technical definition defined by MarketWatch: “The Section 179 deduction allows the cost of qualifying new and used depreciable assets (including most software) to be fully written off in Year One. For assets placed in service in tax years beginning in 2015 and beyond, the new law maintains the maximum Section 179 deduction allowance at the generous figure of $500,000 (same as for the last few years). For post-2015 years, the $500,000 cap will be indexed for inflation.”

Second – What is the context? In 2013 on my nationwide tour touting the Windows XP migration opportunity, I trumpeted the Section 179 tax provision as a door opener for having clients invest in new IT assets and upgrade to Windows 7 (or maybe, just maybe, Windows 8). The generous $500,000 upfront deduction was about to be reduced to a mere $25,000. The idea was to spend in late 2013 like a drunken sailor and reduce your tax obligation dramatically before New Year’s 2014. The investment in hardware, software and your services all qualified under Section 179. Comprende?

Third – What does it mean today? Literally today as your read this on December 27th, you have several days to spend baby spend. That’s because the Congress, when it passed the Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes Act of 2015 in early December, retroactively applied the $500,000 upfront deduction to calendar year 2015. You are home free in 2016 under this legislation as well.

Translation: MSPs should awaken their clients over the holidays and seek spending authority to rapidly deploy hardware, software and services before midnight December 31st. Then do it all over again January 1, 2016! This is your very best short-term value proposition for your sales outreach efforts.

Fourth – Can I still buy a Hummer? Section 179 was well-known years ago for spurring sales of heavy SUVs like the Hummer as a business vehicle (wink-wink). That loophole appears to have been restricted with a $25,000 deduction limit (read here). Assuming you and your tax adviser understand all that – here is a list of heavy SUVs that would qualify: At first blush, I’d take the Ford F150 as my choice. How about you?

Finally – this is how the game is played in Washington DC. Lots of add-ons to the >$1.1T spending bill for the US Federal Government. This Section 179 reinstatement is expected to cost the Treasury nearly $200B over several years. If you’d like to get more politically active as an MSP, I can recommend two organizations: CompTIA and Microsoft Voices for Innovation.

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Better Call a MSP Part 8 – 3 Misconceptions of Outsourcing

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The evolution of the way we work

Changes in the interplay between technology, location, culture and business are transforming where, when and how we work.

Workers are taking control of their work / life balance with traditional ‘nine to five’ commuting patterns changing. Employees are also seeking more control over the communications devices and applications they use.

There is also an interesting sub-trend involving the development of portfolio based careers.

These trends are confirmed by evidence from SMB Group about the changing use of business communication technologies with 92% of SMBs using at least one cloud solution, 60% saying that mobile solutions are critical and 86% using mobile applications.

Rob Charlton, CEO of Space Group said “As a company we are moving towards keeping and managing everything in the cloud…Whatever we need, whenever we need it, accessible from whichever device is most suitable and available at the time.”

Small and medium sized business today face the challenge of providing workers with flexibility while at the same time maximizing their productivity, controlling costs and ensuring that teams retain good interaction.

Stephen Tanner, Founder of OfficePOD Ltd commented “An organization cannot promote the idea of flexible working and merely cover the provision of a desk and a chair in a spare room. Employers have a duty to provide staff with the tools they need to work effectively and productively; this should include a suitable working environment, wherever that happens to be.”

To explore these issues further the team at global business communications vendor Mitel asked business users, leaders in innovation, architects, psychologists and human resource experts for their perspectives in four key areas:

• How technology trends are setting the agenda
• Next generation workplaces
• The impact of a global market
• Cultural changes and the impact on work.

To discover more insights download the full guide.

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Are you looking to buy or sell new, used or refurbishedIT and telecom parts and equipment includingcomputers, laptops, printers, VoIP phones, central office systems, PBX/Key systems or network infrastructure?  Whether you are a supplier, reseller, service provider, corporate buyer or self-maintainer, you can benefit from the PowerSourceprofessional communityPowerSource Online helps our members increase sales,build industry relationships and save time and resources with our best-in-class selling and sourcing tools. 


Computer parts suppliers and resellers gain a competitive advantage by easily posting their in-stock inventory of new, used and refurbished IT and telecoms parts to reach thousandsof buyers. PowerSource members can view and respond directly to buying requests for computers, telecom equipment, IT infrastructureand more.   


Corporate buyers have the ability to search over 3,000,000 lines of inventory in real-time from hundredsof the most

PSO banner 220X150 reputable suppliers in the secondary market industry. Our members areable to get the best possible prices on inventory items by sending multiple Requests for Quotes,and receiving answers quickly.In addition to being able to search for up to 100 parts at one time, buyers can also customize their search criteria to include only preferred vendors and trading regions for more efficient sourcing.


 By using PowerSource Online, IT,computer and telecom buyers and sellershave access to unparalleled opportunities to expand their customer base and increase their average margins.  Since 1997, PowerSource has helped thousands of computer parts and telecom equipment buyers and sellers efficiently source or dispose of all types of computer parts and equipment, generating substantial cost savings for buyers and improving sales for sellers and service providers

 Take the time to experience PowerSource Online by enjoying free trial. This way, you can experiencefor yourself how our B2B exchange helps businesses connect with thousands of buyers and sellers of computer, printer, networking and telecom equipment. 

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New Features to Look for in Office 2016

By Nathan Mitchell, Appriver

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

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

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

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

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

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How Resellers (and Their Customers) Benefit from Training Programs

 By Pete Engler, channel marketing manager, Digium

The end of summer means most schools are heading back into session, which also signals the perfect time to think about the value of continuing education and training programs within your business. It’s not uncommon to hear kids complaining about having to go back to school, or questioning the real-world applications of what’s being taught in the classroom. As adults, we also tend to overlook or forget the benefits of a structured learning program, long after those school doors have shut behind us for the last time. Yet, continuing education should reach far into the workplace for the lifetime of our careers, particularly in our quickly evolving, technology-filled world. Ongoing training programs are especially beneficial to a value-added reseller (VAR). digium

For VARs in the technology sector, the importance of continually educating and training employees can make a significant difference in selling, installing and supporting your customers’ solutions. This customer-centric approach also plays a tremendous role in managing and improving your margin and profit. Investing in and completing technical certifications to become experts in the vendors’ solutions you sell may require an upfront cost, but it is well worth it – you should see a significant return on investment when it comes to training.

Having product experts on your technical staff acting as subject matter experts allows you to have a much more efficient and effective process when it comes to supporting customers. Additionally, once you have a set of employees certified on a vendor’s solutions, those employees can then use the training resources provided by that solution vendor to set up an internal training process for the rest of your organization, helping ensure that all of your employees are knowledgeable and able to support your customers. A well-trained staff goes a long way in supporting and protecting the lifetime value of a customer. After all, customers can lose confidence in their VAR if they do not see them as true experts in the solutions they offer.

As part of establishing an internal training process for your organization, you need to start by training the entire sales team. This includes educating your sales and sales support staff, the sales engineers, and the internal and/or external account managers. A sales team must have the ability to articulate the benefits of a product or solution, and how it can solve problems or improve processes for a customer’s specific needs. Not only does the sales process need to match the margin goals of the organization, but the training of the sales team (and training that may be available to the end users) also needs to be aligned with the sales process as it could be the key to closing deals and improving margin.

Once a deal is won, installation of the solution will begin and training will once again have a distinct impact on the process. Successful training of the installation technicians and the administrators that are installing and supporting the solution will factor heavily into your margin and cost reduction, mainly in terms of employee hours required to complete the install. Well-trained techs can cut the installation time significantly and allow more customers to be serviced by your organization. More customers, installs and monthly recurring support revenue will assist in providing the growth path for any successful VAR.

During and after the installation of the solution, the end customer can be trained in order to shift part of the support burden to that customer. This is particularly applicable when it comes to enabling the customer (and their employees) to handle basic tasks and management functions of a vendor’s solution. Sometimes, that may come down to training the customer’s organization on something as simple as knowing how to access solution help features, or training the end customers to use a database or knowledge base to assist in correcting issues on their own. Training the end customer can also provide additional revenue to any sale. Whether the sale of training is vendor provided or consists of training courses built by you as the VAR, there is the possibility of additional revenue by selling that end-user training.

Training is often an overlooked topic or is prioritized much lower compared to other business projects and goals. However, taking the time to ensure your team is well trained to sell and support the customer will bring more profit and margin per signed customer. It also allows you to free up time to increase the number of customers you are able to service, and to offer improved service and support that helps retain those customers for the long term.

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

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Three Office 365 Migration Tips for Avoiding Headaches

By Nathan Mitchell, AppRiver

For most people, change can be difficult, especially when it comes to Office 365 migrations.  AppRiver’s Phenomenal Care™ helps curb pain points through proper preparation, utilization, and customization. AppRiver Nathan Mitchell

Preparation is often overlooked or forgotten. In many cases, customers are eager to utilize a new service and sometimes dive right into migrating without an afterthought to planning. This can, unfortunately, lead to the service being setup improperly and undoing the damage can be time consuming and complicated. For example, enabling Directory Synchronization without preparing Active Directory can create quite a headache. Therefore, AppRiver encourages preliminary planning and testing before starting a migration.

Utilization is another crucial part of a migration and it is very important to explore all options that are available. For example, migrating mail items is a common requirement of a migration and many options and tools are available to accomplish this. AppRiver often encourages the use of Migration Wiz to migrate mail to Office 365 because of its simplicity and efficiency. Office 365 also provides built in migration tools and classic techniques, such as .PST Export and Import.

Lastly, customization often gets pushed to the back burner. For example, many customers have intentions of utilizing SharePoint, but never actually do. Both purchasing a service without using it and not using a service that will improve your business are a waste of resources. Office 365 is a feature-packed service with unique options that can be tailored to suit each customer’s needs. As an original syndication partner of Microsoft, AppRiver encourages our clients to educate themselves on Office 365 and explore its available features. We consider a migration to be successful once the client is fully operational on the service and any outstanding issues have been addressed.

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Tapping into Channel Program Resources to Support Reseller Growth

By Pete Engler

As a business owner, you know the best formula for distributing funds and other resources throughout your organization in order to support growth. Even so, the budgeting process can be tedious, and for small to medium businesses (SMBs) there is often a give-and-take strategy. That means sacrifices may be required in one or more areas of the company to allow for larger investments in another part of the business.  The first question then becomes: Where are the cuts (or savings) going to come from to help fuel your plans for growth? The next question should be: Are there any alternatives to help offset the ‘sacrifices’ you’re making, or are there creative ways to add resources without implementing drastic cost-cutting measures? If you are a value added reseller, the answer to the second question is a resounding, “Yes - there are alternatives!”  

The vendors, whose products and services you sell, may hold the key to you accessing platforms and services that could be utilized within your organization as part of your growth strategy. By tapping into these vendor-provided resources, not only does it help you avoid having to make cutbacks, but it may also free up precious cash in your budget. After all, why invest in marketing or training solutions with your dollars if one of your vendors offers you access to similar solutions as a benefit of their channel program?

Before your next cycle of budget planning begins, take a closer look at the sales, marketing, and training tools, along with any other resources your vendors provide. Here are some examples of common vendor-provided resources and support that have been successful for partners:

Training tools are extremely important resources to utilize for your entire customer-facing staff.  Having a well-educated staff for the products and services you offer translates into satisfied customers, especially if your business model is that of a managed services provider. When your customer calls in with an issue, having a knowledgeable staff to answer the call will help lead to a quick resolution and make a significant difference in that customer’s experience. Some vendors may also provide partners with free (or discounted) end-user training videos and classes that you can offer to your customers. Using these pre-packaged resources means you don’t have to invest money in creating your own training materials or programs (and in some cases, you can sell the training and use it as another revenue source).    

Content Syndication is a web-based tool that allows vendors to replicate product or service microsites to their resellers. That means you get a hassle-free way to add vendor-specific product and service information to your website. Content syndication services are usually pretty simple to use so you don’t have to invest in a lot of extra web resources. While the vendor controls the information and how it is presented, as a reseller, you benefit from the consistent look and feel of the design, and from having up-to-date information maintained by the vendor with minimal effort needed by you to implement these tools. For replicating microsites the process is as easy as generating HTML code from the content syndication platform and adding it to your website. In addition to providing product-related content, some content syndication platforms also provide email functionality and social media, or social sharing, functionality. This additional marketing support can make a big difference for your business.

Joint webinars are seminars conducted over the Internet by a vendor and reseller. They allow your customers to get information, answer questions, see a product or service in action or become educated as to how the product or solution can solve problems they are experiencing in their business. Webinars are great for any level of customer interest but may work best for those not too far along in the decision-making process. Vendors will often host the webinar with you, or provide you with webinar content so you can host your own. This saves you from investing your marketing efforts to create a webinar from scratch. And, if using the vendor’s webinar hosting solution (such as GoToWebinar), you avoid having to pay for the cost of that solution.

Lunch and learns are in-person training or educational opportunities designed to circulate information to the attendees on a specific topic. Lunch and learns present a more personal experience and should typically be reserved for prospects further along in the buying process but haven’t committed to a purchase. These prospects may need this extra, in-person session to be swayed into making that final decision. Vendors will often provide you with program content, marketing messaging and materials to promote it. They may even send additional sales or technical support to help you properly staff the event.

Live event promotions can be more creative and casual than a standard lunch and learn. Vendors are usually willing to help you identify, promote, and host a fun, but effective prospecting event. While golf tournaments may be come to mind, ask vendors for insight into alternative events that have been effective for other channel partners. A couple of ideas that have worked in the past includeaMovie afternoons/evening event and even an indoor skydiving event. Typically there is a sales pitch before or after the event to the prospects. These types of events would also be perfect for prospects well along the purchasing decision process that need a final push to make a buying decision.

Partner Portal is a website that allows a vendor's partner community to access marketing resources, pricing and sales information, as well as technical details and support (that may be unavailable to end users). For example, a partner portal may list promotions or discounts for the partner or end user, marketing collateral, competitive data, selling practices, training or support information, and host of other content. The partner portal is typically accessed through the vendor's website, with the use of sign on credentials assigned to each partner. Having access to this information can be extremely helpful, especially competitive data and industry insights/reports that you may otherwise have to pay for or spend lots of time researching and putting together on your own.

Marketing Collateral is the collection of tools used to support the sales of a product or service. Collateral can be, but is not limited to, printed and electronic product information (brochures, flyers, postcards, etc.), product data sheets, white papers, PowerPoint presentations, competitive battle cards, case studies and more. These tools are intended to make the sales effort easier and more effective. Using co-branded vendor collateral can benefit you by creating credibility for your business. It also provides your marketing and sales teams an effective way of explaining the benefits of the vendor’s product or service.

The marketing tools can vary a great deal between vendors, from simple collateral (brochures, competitor slicks, etc) and promotions (giveaways, contests) to the shared cost of events and B2B platforms that integrate into a reseller’s sales tools (website, content syndication, etc). Utilizing all that is offered by a vendor will still require using some of your own budget, but it’s possible to further offset the costs if there is potential for using marketing development funds (MDF.) MDFs are funds made available by avendor to help channel partners sell its products and create awareness. Regardless of the availability of MDF funds, there should still be plenty of vendor-provided tools and resources available to make your sales process easier and help supplement your company’s own resources to make your budget stretch a little farther.

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

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Better Call an MSP Part 6: Malware & Virus Attacks - Staying Ahead of the Game

By Raymond Vrabel, Director, Technical Account Management, Continuum Managed IT Services

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

In last month’s installment of, “Better Call an MSP,” I discussed how to identify the current stage of your MSP. This time, let’s focus on how to stay ahead of the game when it comes to malware and virus attacks. It used to be that simply installing an anti-virus or anti-malware program for clients would deliver complete peace of mind regarding computer security and protection. Now, there is a growing trend where hackers are making a living out of exposing and uncovering flaws and gaps within the security protection programs that you and clients have been relying on.

In addition to protecting your clients’ devices by installing reliable and effective software, you also have another layer to think about—ensuring clients are not inadvertently exposed to any unsuspecting viruses. Below are a few possible scenarios that can occur, and how you can work with clients to best remedy a tough situation.

1.) Take a Multi-Tiered, Multi-Faceted Approach. Many of us may have the attitude of, “I’ve installed an anti-virus program on my client devices, and now I can just let it do the work.” However, with many new threats exposed within these anti-virus programs that we have come to rely on, that won’t cut it anymore. Take a multi-faceted approach and add on other layers of protection like Unified Threat Management (UTM), anti-malware programs and ensure all patches are up-to-date and secure. Patch management also means fixing patch issues as they occur. Ensure malware programs are regularly scanning -- and if you aren’t running a malware program on clients’ devices, it’s best to add that on NOW. By adding this second piece of software, you are using a whole different set of scanning tools. While there might be a security flaw in one product, by adding additional layers, you aren’t putting all of your eggs in one basket and you’re further mitigating risk.

2.) Localize the Issue. Should this type of attack occur on a client device, it’s best to immediately disconnect the user and the device that is experiencing the issue so that it doesn’t spread across multiple devices, branch offices or worse - to the CEO’s PC at company headquarters. The speed at which you react is critical to stop the attack. Here, you are in reactive (rather than usual MSP proactive) mode. Stop the “bleeding” by addressing the problematic device and then focus on ensuring everything is safely up and running. Hopefully your client will have a BDR system in place, and if so, this would then be the time to start recovering and restoring their files if the attack is far along. If they do not have a BDR in place, after the dust settles is the time to have that conversation.

Once the “fire” has been extinguished, be proactive and figure out how the attack occurred or how the hacker got in. Educate clients and their employees on how to best alleviate these situations in the future.

3.) Future Education. The best and most proactive plan is educating the user so that this doesn’t occur again. That includes ensuring all programs are up to date, fixing anything that’s not and finding out if everything is patched. If you are doing all of these things regularly, then chances of a repeat attack is very slim. Still, it’s not time to sit back and relax (it never is when it comes to the security of your clients’ system data). There really is no clear cut answer to a 100 percent prevention of any type of attack, but there are ways to lessen the risks. Here are some helpful hints:

  • Encourage employees not to open or download personal emails on company devices, especially zip files that might contain a virus.
  • Work with your Help Desk or NOC for their advice and expertise on alleviating attacks.
  • Work with your RMM vendor or vendor operations groups to ensure you have the latest patches rolled out on all client devices.
  • Remediate any patches that are currently failing.
  • Speak with clients about securing employee browsing habits and possibly installing some type of Web surf control that can lock down pages that might potentially infect devices.

Unfortunately, there are full-time hackers who are great at their jobs, always finding holes in programs that are designed to protect your clients’ devices. So, there is really no fool-proof answer to preventing attacks but, if you and your clients follow these steps, establishing a multi-faceted layers of defense, you are minimizing the risks of bringing clients’ businesses down.

Raymond Vrabel is Continuum's Director of Technical Account Management and participates in product and service growth initiatives. He manages Continuum's Technical Account Management team, supporting over 3,500 partners worldwide. Vrabel has more than 15 years of experience in the IT industry, specializing in managed IT services, disaster recovery and cloud solutions. Follow him on Twitter: @rayvrabel.

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Sell your computer parts with the best in the IT and telecom business

Members of the PowerSource online community enjoy unparalleled opportunities to buy and sell all kinds of new, used or refurbished IT and telecom parts, including computer parts and related equipment. Our B2B network connects sellers with thousands of buyers worldwide, allowing suppliers and resellers of computer components to greatly expand their sales prospects and develop industry contacts from a single online platform. PSO banner 220X150

PowerSource Online’s advanced selling and sourcing tools give our members a leg up on the competition by allowing them to advertise up to 30 “Seeking to Sell” postings per day. Members can view and respond directly to requests to buy computer parts, telecom equipment and more. Another advantage of PowerSource is the ability for members to customize who sees their inventory. As well, PowerSource members are able to access government contract opportunities in their region that require the purchase or sale of computer parts and telecom equipment.

PowerSource Online members are experienced dealers, resellers, brokers, distributors and service providers within the IT and Telecom industries. These companies and individuals regularly buy service and sell used computer parts, laptop parts, printers and printer parts, VoIP phones and associated equipment, as well as PBX/Key systems and other Telecom and IT equipment as part of their day-to-day business.

Corporate and government end users also use the Public section of PowerSource Online to buy and sell computer, telephony and IT parts and systems. These end users consist of SMBs, Fortune 500 companies, and government agencies, as well as schools, hospitals, hotels and other businesses that need to buy or sell equipment during a period of growth or transition.

By using our global market place, buyers and sellers can source or dispose of hard-to-find, excess, discontinued, obsolete and end-of-life computer parts and systems.

Increased sales, greater market reach and the opportunity to build new relationships within the industry are just some of the reasons to become a PowerSource Online member.

If your company has not used the service before, simply fill out our Free Trial form to enjoy a free trial of PowerSource. A PowerSource Online Account Manager will contact you within one business day to set up your full trial access and give you a demo of the business tools and features that PowerSource Online can offer your company.

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Harrybbb at the US Open – Lessons Learned

Pic 1: Harrybbb with Bob Lewis at the US Open! WP 20150618 12 49 04 Pro

It was like living the Robert Redford-directed movie “Bagger Vance” where a down-and-out golfer attempts to recover his game and his life with help from a mystical caddy. No, I’m not talking about Tiger Woods (but I could be as I saw him walk by a few times; see the pic below). Instead, I’m talking about my personal journey pivoting from SBSer to O365er and reflecting on life along the way.

Winners Happen Here!

First, it was refreshing to hang with my friends at Concur Software, a Seattle-based expense management software company that was recently acquired for $8 billion by SAP. I was a media guest in its corporate white tent and enjoyed Round One at the US Open at the 7th hole. I’ll report more on Concur in the future, but I want to shout it out for Bob Lewis, seen in the pic with me. Bob worked with the SBS community in the 2006-2007 time frame as a Microsoft manager on the Small Business Accounting (SBA) team. You might recall the North Face jackets he gave away at the SMB Nation 2007 Fall Conference. Wiser minds will also recall that shortly after Bob’s big SBA splash, the product was discontinued (Jason Harrison and Susan Bradley certainly remember this LOL). So fast forward the movie. Bob moved in a few years ago to Concur and has done very well for himself. His success is well-earned and a function of both reinventing himself and being relevant – something all of old timey SBSers could model.

Da’ Course

In general, nobody liked the Chambers Bay course, but for the wrong reasons in my opinion. The United States Golf Association (USGA) that hosted the 115th US Open at Chamber Bay (45-miles south of Seattle) wanted to do something different and think outside the box. This course has the Scottish links design. It’s highlighted by sand traps, lack of water and tall grasses. Astro, the English Springer Spaniel and SMB Nation Mascot, was breed for this type of gold course and so was Chambers Bay! It’s new, daring and annoying. The perfect golf course to test the pros! It’s akin to saying Mount Alyeska ski resort in Alaska is horrible because it’s too hard! Needless to say – the course was the narrative.

WP 20150618 16 15 24 ProAnother Life Lesson.

Jason Day captured the world’s affection at the US Open. He battles a mild case of dizziness known as vertigo and collapsed at the end of Round 2 on Friday. He is sponsored by Concur so I took a special interest in his journey. He was in contention deep into the final round before fading but still getting a top ten finish. Lesson learned? It’s all about who can go on their off day! And quite frankly (and sadly) it was the opposite for Tiger Woods who faded early (seen here in the picture below).

Pic 2: Tiger Woods walking by the Concur tent at the 7th Hole.

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