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.

Son – It’s Not Plastics. It’s Security

By: Harry Brelsford


An oft-quoted classic movie scene from “The Graduate” (1967) [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Graduate] concerns a successful businessman giving career advice to 21-year-old Benjamin Braddock (Dustin Hoffman) to go into plastics as a career choice. Fast forward the movie nearly 50-years and the prudent career choice is cloud security. It’s an evergreen that will bring you, the MSP/CSP/partner, great riches and professional satisfaction. Few would disagree in the magnitude of this opportunity.


A study by Symantec, the “Website Security Threat Report” is your key to transforming yourself into a component cloud security professional. As part of our SMB Nation mantra about “starting over,” the introduction of this report is very timely for all of us. Some of us remember watching “The Graduate” and the impact it had on the dialog of the late 1960s and 1970s. So this is a welcome geek reboot.


The paper, which you can download HERE, focuses much of its energy on the Heartbleed bug, which shook the foundation of Internet security. The authors have, quite frankly, selected a reference point we can all relate to as the incident happened within the last two years. But the paper is much more than a Heartbleed news recap. The point is that cyber criminals are busy making their own opportunities for exploitation, theft and disruption. Symantec contends and I concur that cyber criminals have become more professional, sophisticated and aggressive in their tactics to the detriment of businesses and individuals alike.


To manage your expectations as your both read and use this security paper to enhance your skills, understand that is it organized into two major areas:

  • Web Threats. High profile vulnerabilities (Heartbleed, ShellShock and Poodle) are reviewed to level set. Then vital solutions such as SSL and TSL certificates are discussed.
  • eCrime and Malware. This is truly an interesting part of the paper. Prices paid by underground entities for stolen identities, malware and e-crime services are holding steady due to high-levels of demand. Ransomware is getting nastier and increasing in volumes. The paper reports it has grown over 45X since 2013.


To continue this journey and to make yourself both security aware and security competent, download the paper HERE.

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2016 US SMB IT spend growth rate to remain flat at US$188B

Techaisle forecasts that US SMB IT spend growth rate could very well remain flat at US$188 billion in 2016 as compared to 2015. However, the US midmarket spending growth will likely increase by 6% whereas the small business spending will fall by 2 percent in 2016 from 2015. In early 2015, Techaisle had forecast US SMB IT spending to be US$180B by end of 2015 – based on most recent Techaisle SMB surveys the actual spending for 2015 came in at US$188B. Techaisle survey data shows some very interesting patterns for planned SMB 2016 IT budgets across different employee size businesses. Small businesses show progressive fall in IT budgets until they reach a certain size whereas midmarket businesses show budget increases until they reach a certain size.

2016 us smb it technology spend resized

To download graphic click here

Although 52% of small businesses say that technology helps drive the direction of their business, the very small businesses (less than 50 employees) have lowered their IT budgets for 2016 varying from -2% to -6% depending upon size of business. This is primarily because of less spending on end-point devices and IT services. Especially within the micro-businesses, spending on mobility is likely to fall by as much as 10%. Survey data shows that IT spending by small businesses is shifting to cloud, managed services, analytics and even IoT as indicated by planned budget increases in each of these technology categories. Only the 1-4 employee size businesses are planning to keep their 2016 cloud budget same as in 2015 as these businesses are reaching a theoretical limit of paid cloud usage.

Small business IT spending is effected by restrained growth in 1-49 employee sieze category businesses. The 50-249 employee size segment is expected to have the IT spend growth rate in 2016 and should be the sweet spot for most IT suppliers.

Technology purchase is not an easy decision for SMBs, where most use their existing budgets and in many cases they have to deal with ad hoc purchases due to changing business conditions. In such a scenario, role of financing is becoming increasingly critical to technology acquisition decisions for 59% of midmarket firms, twice that of small businesses. With an explosive move to cloud, 35% of midmarket businesses indicate that they are moving to OPEX-based agreements. Small businesses are leaning towards leased-based purchases for infrastructure solutions.

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Breaking News: I Love Work! Read This True Confession...

Story by Harry Brelsford, CEO, SMB Nation - 

Where to begin. Early on, I was the “business kid” in grade school through high school. That continues to today with my continued pursuit for work that marries business and technology. And of how it’s changed from my first Apple II+ with a Hayes 14.4k modem connecting from my college apartment to a centralized VAX computer. Or has it really changed? In this blog, I’ll explore Work 3.0. and point you to some amazing resources.

Full CircleHarry at Work

Above I’m both dating and telling on myself as I’m alluding to time sharing. Imagine the idea of having the heavy lifting occurring in a data center and you could work from anywhere with a thin client? Your applications were hosted and your data was safe. That was timesharing where I started my career in computing. With the emergence of the PC and client/server computing, certainly those days were gone forever. The “local” in Local Area Network (LAN) loosely translates in GeekSpeak to “within these four walls”, and that was the development paradigm of our beloved Small Business Server. It created a generation of commuters who believed in server gods and gurus at work. You thought nothing of driving to work.

But then a back to the future phenomenon emerged at the start of the Great Recessions when the Internet was validated as a secure tool (thanks Salesforce) and IT was used to save money with mobility. Just yesterday I was using a thin client (Google Chrome on a USB stick) working with Salesforce online with my mobile phone held to my left ear, while I listened to a conference call via a headset hooked up to a VoIP desk phone. And all the while working from my home office (I’ve upgraded from my college apartment!).
What does this before-and-after storytelling mean? I’m telling the exact same story. Timesharing is cloud computing. Period.

You’ll Feel Like You Are Talking to Yourself (You Are!)

I’ve thought a lot recently about the nature of modern work. How has technology changed the way we work? Over the years I’ve written blogs about office sharing schemes like Regus locations (remember my week in Istanbul in the Spring of 2014?) to online labor markets (remember our use of WorkMarket in the late 2013/early 2014 timeframe with Windows XP migrations?) to our giving up our office space when our commercial lease expired (see my February 2015 blog). But I had never crystalized my thoughts about modern work into a single missive. And that frustrated me.

Fortunately, I bumped into an amazing report titled “WORK 3.0 – The Next Generation Model for Smarter Business.” I felt like I was talking to myself. Over a dozen pages, remote offices, portfolio careers, and the human cloud revolution are explored. I’ve posted the report HERE so you can download it, read it and motivate on it. Let me know what you think?

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Happy Holidays!

Story by Harry Brelsford, CEO, SMB Nation - 

SMB Nation recently turned 16-years old and we wanted to wait until the holidays to share that news. We want to use this holiday season to celebrate our mutual success! And we look forward to continued success and a long life. So what better time than the moment to wish you our customers, readers, attendees and sponsors an AMAZING HOLIDAY SEASON! We appreciate your support.

Our community is a melting pot of ethnicities and we want to call out and support the following forms of celebrations:

• Christmas Day (Christian)coexist bumper sticker
• Hanukkah (Jewish)
• Kwanzaa (African American)
• Ramadan (Muslim)
• Eid al-Fitr (Muslim)
• Saint Nicholas Day (Christian)
• Eid'ul-Adha (Muslim)
• Fiesta of Our Lady of Guadalupe (Mexican)
• St. Lucia Day (Swedish)
• Three Kings Day/Epiphany (Christian)
• Boxing Day (Australian, Canadian, English, Irish)
• Omisoka (Japanese)
• Yule (Pagan)
• Saturnalia (Pagan)

- See more at: http://www.educationworld.com/a_lesson/lesson/lesson246.shtml#sthash.c23rSm8r.dpuf

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Wiser Minds in IoT (Part II of II)

Story by Harry Brelsford, CEO. SMB Nation - 

Last week I painted the IoT picture and enjoyed fantastic feedback. This week I share insights from wiser minds about IoT that I met at the recent AllSeen (www.allseenalliance.org) conference in Seattle.

I walked away from the annual gathering impressed with the momentum of IoT and wanted to learn more. Ergo my conversation with these two gentlemen below.

Greg Whelan is the principal of the Greywale Insights (http://greywale.com/) consultancy. What immediately struck me was how he wanted to pivot the conversation. It was like having an intellectual conversation with Jeff Middleton (sbsmigrations.com) back in the old Small Business Server days when he’d proclaim “let’s turn that argument on its head.” Whelan proposed we refine service providers as “outcome providers.” That’s how he sees the role of the MSP/computer guy in an IoT world. “Small and Medium Businesses (SMBs) want OUTCOMES from a provider. IoT is a whole bucket of tools and services for the outcome provider to “provide” to SMBs.

“The outcome provider will have a role in helping IoT standardization. Currently it’s a DIY market without a set of standards. For example, you can’t utter “Good Night” today and have everything in the smart house respond such as lights, heat, and security.” Whelan shared. “The main point with today’s status is silos. The DIY can buy bits and pieces at Home Depot, Best Buy et al.”harrybiot edited

Whelan’s forward looking statements continued with thoughts concerning standardization. It’ll take web companies who can scale and the outcome provider will deliver agnostic services, not just a Google House or an Apple House.

Which leads to my second conversation about scaling. I spoke with Eric Bozich (Vice President – Product and Marketing CenturyLink). CenturyLink is a sponsor of AllSeen. Bozich’s interest is to provide elements of the IoT value chain that go beyond telecom. “One thing we’re asking ourselves is how our customers are going to consume IoT. IoT will be about solving business problems and consuming services. Bozich stated. “CenturyLink will add value by proactively participating in the development of IoT solutions.”

You heard it here first.

BTW – in my resources below, you can watch a video of Whelan and Bozic. ;0)

I’ll end my two-part series with this thought. If only Radio Shack could have held on! It was IoT before there was IoT. Readers will recall the demise of Radio Shack (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RadioShack). It could have been the IoT Store!

AllSeen Resources

Service Provider Panel Video, featuring Greg & Eric
AllSeen Alliance Events List
AllSeen Alliance Membership Tiers & Companies Participating
Full list of keynote presentations, slides and photos from the AllSeen Summit 2015

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