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.

Dana Epp's New Main Hustle!

 

This is a "Where is he now? Dana Epp’s new startup!" startup piece. Read on.

Few SMB Nation event speakers captivated like Dana Epp at our Fall Conferences. In SMB Nation 2009, Epp spoke in a packed, long narrow room at the now demolished Riviera Hotel in Las Vegas. He performed live hacking before a mesmerized audience (long before Kevin Mitnick started his current road show). Fast forward

the movie and Dana enjoyed well-deserved success directing his last security focused startup (Scorpion Software) to an ultimate full acquisition by Kaseya, danaeppan investor-backed RMM ISV.

Disappearing Act
With all due respect, post-acquisition Epp and SMB Nation lost touch. As is often the case, the acquirer asks or requires the acquired party to join the parent company for a period of time to assist in the logistics such as brand transition. That’s exactly what Epp did – joining Kaseya as one of their principal architects. A year later Dana was promoted to CTO and asked to redefine software engineering at Kaseya. With Epp’s focus on his day job, we missed our occasional conversations.

New Startup: Wildrook
Recently my LinkedIn notification made mention of Dana’s professional update. I double-clicked down and discovered that Dana had exited Kaseya and was out in the wild again, starting Wildrook in his hometown of Vancouver BC. I spoke at length with Epp to get the scoop. Epp’s tenure at Kaseya arrived at a completion milestone once he integrated Scorpion Software into its operations and he helped fundamentally transform the CTO role. The call of the wild to get back into the startup scene resulted in the formation of Wildrook (www.wildrook.com). The core solution, called AuditWolf, is the cloud threat protection platform to protect your cloud resources in Azure. The topic of a whole ‘nother future blog post, AuditWolf takes advantage of Microsoft’s Cloud Management APIs to start aggregating data related to configuration changes, host setup and activity and user interactions with resources in Azure ,all without impacting live services. It then applies Dana’s expertise and experience in Azure security (he’s been a Microsoft Security MVP for 14 years now) to make sure your data and deployments are properly secured. “We allow you to gain operational intelligence and insight into the security of your data and deployments hosted in the cloud.” Epp shared.

When asked “why” he was building his new startup, Epp responded by saying “it is far too easy for IT professionals to screw up security in Azure. I see it every day. With the proliferation of public cloud computing outpacing cybersecurity defenses, and the concepts or IT administration blurring with DevOps to drive “Infrastructure as Code (IaC), a single click or command in the Azure Portal can cause a security violation if you don’t know the impact of that decision. And you won’t even know you did it... until it’s too late. That’s a real pain point. We can solve it.”

“At the highest level, we help you get the big picture with a contextual view of your Azure environment, and constantly monitor for change. Our report card paradigm and grading system allows you to see how we rank your cloud risks and helps to prioritize remediation efforts.” Epp said. “Then AuditWolf helps you remediate your risk by by generating the commands to run in Azure to fix the security violation(s), educating your administrators responsible for managing the cloud infrastructure while helping them fix it.”

Hear from Epp
Epp will led a security lecture in our MSP Tech Talk – Spring Quarter in late June. You can click HERE to sign-up for this complimentary speech. And there you have it. Epp is alive and kicking across the border in Canada. Yes – he’s back, helping to keep us secure!

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3 Data Science Methods and 10 Algorithms for Big Data Experts

Data Science

One of the hottest questions in Information Management now is how to deal with Big Data in all its applications: how to gather, store, secure, and – possibly most importantly – interpret what we collect. Organizations that are able to apply effective data analysis to massive amounts of data gain significant competitive advantages in their industries.

Organizations no longer question the value of gathering and storing such data but are far more heavily focused on methods to make sense of that all the valuable information that data represents. Although security and storage remain critical issues for IT departments, organizations are finding that their commitment to Big Data can’t stop there – they must be able to make sense of their data, to know what data is valid, relevant, and usable, as well as how to use it.

The more data an organization has, the more difficult it is to process, store, and analyze, but conversely, the more data the organization has, the more accurate its predictions can be. As well big data comes with big responsibility. Big data requires military-grade encryption keys to keep information safe and confidential.

This is where data science comes in. Many organizations, faced with the problem of being able to measure, filter, and analyze data, are turning to data science for solutions – hiring data scientists, people who are specialists in making sense out of a huge amount of data. Generally, this means making use of statistical models to create algorithms to sort, classify, and process data.

What is Data Science?

Data science has been a term in the computing field since around 1960 when it was first floated as a substitute for the term “computer science”. Over the next twenty years or so, it gradually came to mean that blend of statistics and methodology that specifically pertained to data analysis. However, it was not until the much more recent emergence of Big Data and its role in organizational development and direction, that data science began to be a fundamental requirement of any organization working out how to analyze such massive amounts of data.

Data science is interdisciplinary, incorporating elements of statistics, data mining, and predictive analysis, and focusing on processes and systems that extract knowledge and insights from data. It is also known as “analytics transformation” because the goal is to “transform” raw data into usable insights. It has also been called “industrial analytics” because the context is industrial rather than scientific – to analyze data for competitive or quality improvements that can be gained by having a better understanding of one’s customers, potential customers, service model, and almost any aspect of the organization that can be represented in bytes.

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RapidFire Tools, Inc. Launches “Audit Guru,” The First Tool to Automate and Streamline GDPR Compliance Audits

New Software Appliance and Portal is Purpose-built for MSPs to Help Their Clients Navigate the Complex General Data Protection Regulation Mandates.

ATLANTA, GA, USA –March 5, 2018– RapidFire Tools Inc. today announced the availability of Audit Guru for GDPR™, the world’s first compliance process automation solution designed to address the sweeping new EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which becomes law on the May 25, 2018. The tool is being offered exclusively through the RapidFire Tools RapidFirechannel of authorized Audit Guru partners, and includes a robust cloud-based portal that resellers can use to manage the entire GDPR audit and reporting process. MSPs can provide an array of value-added GDPR services built around Audit Guru, which can range from a simple and straight-forward resale of the tool to organizations that have their own internal IT and compliance staff, all the way up to a fully managed, ongoing GDPR Compliance-as-a-Service offering.

“The new GDPR requirements put into place tough new standards that regulate how personal information is collected, electronically stored, and secured,” noted Rapidfire Tools CEO, Mike Mittel. “These new laws impact every company that collects data about any individual living in the European Union. There is a huge amount of confusion, fear and uncertainty associated with GDPR because of the fines and crippling sanctions associated with non-compliance,” he added. “Audit Guru addresses these concerns by providing MSPs with a solution that literally guides them through the compliance process, automates the collection of necessary data, and generates the required documents.”

The new offering leverages the same technology found in Network Detective, the company’s market-proven, award-winning family of IT assessment, documentation and reporting tools. “This is not just another check-list product with a laundry list of tasks that the MSP has to perform,” explained Win Pham, lead developer of the tool. “We've created a turn-key virtual software appliance that automates the production of mandatory compliance reports, provides ongoing issues detection, and manages the manual collection of supplemental information required from key stakeholders.”

The marketing opportunity extends far beyond MSPs located within the European union. “As if the EU isn’t a big enough market, even if the MSPs or their clients are based outside of the EU, if they own electronic database files that contain personal information about customers, prospects and other individuals who are based inside the EU, they are subject to the regulation,” explained Mark Winter, RapidFire Tools’ vice president of sales. “This makes the market for Audit Guru even broader for MSPs, MSSPs, and VARs who wish to expand their offerings to include GDPR compliance services.”

Audit Guru is sold to MSPs directly by RapidFire Tools or through any of their European distributors. MSPs who are interested in becoming an Audit Guru Reseller Partner should visit www.auditguru.com, send an email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., or call +1-678-323-1300, ext. 2.

 

About RapidFire Tools
RapidFire Tools, Inc is the leading global supplier of business-building technology tools for MSPs to help them close more business, offer more services, keep more customers, and make more money. The company’s offerings include: a complete set of IT Assessment, Documentation and Reporting tools; tools for IT Compliance Process Automation; and tools for Insider Cyber Threat Detection & Alerting.
European distributors include: Achab (Italy), Prianto (UK), and Upstream (Denmark, Iceland, Finland, Norway, Sweden).

 

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Microsoft is bringing Cortana to Outlook for iOS and Android

Cortana will read your emails aloud during car journeys


By Tom Warren     @tomwarren    Mar 5, 2018, 10:19am EST

cortanaoutlookmobile.0

Cortana in Outlook for iOS Photo by Tom Warren / The Verge

Microsoft has been slowly adding more email intelligence to its Cortana digital assistant, but it has resisted integrating it directly into Outlook mobile. That’s about to change, soon. Sources familiar with Microsoft’s Outlook plans tell The Verge that the company is currently testing Cortana within Outlook on iOS and Android.

The Cortana integration will allow users of the popular mobile email client to listen to and respond to emails with their voice. This will be particularly useful during car journeys, and Microsoft is testing Cortana integration directly within Outlook mobile that will work over Bluetooth and read messages aloud. Users will be able to ask Cortana phrases like “what’s my email,” or just to read messages from specific contacts.

 

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5 Most Popular Small Business Cloud-Based Services

As a small business owner, you understand through your first-hand challenges how difficult it is to accomplish specific goals because of a limited budget. Other challenges may stem from a lack of expertise in a specific and vital area. Specifically, building and IT infrastructure present challenges that small business owners in previous years and decades were stymied by. However, modern solutions to these challenges are available to today's small business owners through cloud-based services. Understanding the primary cloud-based solutions available to your small business may help you to make smarter decisions going forward.

1. Intuit QuickBooks Online
Intuit QuickBooks has been available to small business owners for years, and this accounting solution  Cloud Computingmakes it easier for you to manage your books, project your financial status into the future, create invoices and more. This online application has incredible depth, and it is flexible enough to be useful for almost any small business environment. If you are challenged by financial management or if you feel that financial management is taking up too much of your valuable time each week, this may be a solution to take a closer look at.

2. Zapier
If you are looking for a collaboration tool, Zapier is an excellent solution to consider. Zapier makes it easy for you to connect the apps that you use most frequently together for seamless efforts. Workflows can be automated in many ways, and you may be able to save an exceptional amount of time and energy because of the collaborative benefits that this tool provides. It is functional with a wide range of popular business apps. You can learn more about the apps that it can connect for you to determine if it may improve your current work processes.

3. MailChimp
Email marketing is an effective, direct way to communicate with your customers, but it also is stressful and time-consuming. MailChimp takes the time and stress out of planning, executing and even analyzing email marketing campaigns. Through its impressive features, small businesses can level the playing field with larger companies that have a more substantial marketing budget and more in-house assistance. You simply use the platform to build a campaign and to customize your message. There are even pre-built automation features that make it fast and easy to execute your campaigns.

4. Microsoft Power BI
Managing business intelligence tasks is a common challenge for many small business owners, and Microsoft Power BI strives to address those challenges head on. This is a user-friendly platform that is available to you for free. It enables you to organize and analyze data in a drag and drop environment. You can do everything from enhance analytics to print reports and more. The dashboard helps you to keep your analytics organized, and the dashboards can be perfectly customized to meet your specific needs. You can create attractive reports through this program as well, and the reports can easily be distributed to your entire team for viewing on any type of Internet-based device. The program is interactive with Microsoft Office 365 products.

5. Bitdefender Antivirus Plus
Viruses and malware are legitimate and substantial concerns for small business owners. Bitdefender Antivirus Plus is an affordable solution to this problem. This is a regularly updated program that works with Microsoft platforms. It has remote capabilities so that you can initiate a scan from your smartphone. Because of its affordable price and its convenient features, it is ideal for a smaller business that does not need to purchase many licenses to make the solution cost-effective. This program also makes it easy to secure your online experience and to properly manage passwords. The company has been in business for more than 15 years, and it serves millions of customers. It prides itself on its ability to quickly identify threats and to update its products accordingly to protect its customers.

With limited operating capital, it makes sense to feel as though your business is placed at a disadvantage in the marketplace. However, you can see that there are many applications and programs available that can help smaller companies stand on equal footing with their much larger and more well-established competitors. Analyze these applications today to determine if they could benefit your operations in a substantial way.

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