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Small business IT and technology news for the SMB channel VAR, MSP, and IT professional.

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Lenovo announces new SMB series PCs

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Small businesses are different—they require scalable and flexible tools and technology tailored to SMBs to best serve their business and customers. 

 

Lenovo announced today a new portfolio of laptops and desktops  designed to increase efficiency, safeguard business data and support collaboration, including the ThinkPad E and S series desktops. 

 

“Small business users want to be mobile and secure and seek reliable high performance computing to work on their terms. Laptops for total mobile flexibility with excellent battery life or stylish desktops to meet the rigorous tasks of today’s office and retail environments,” said Dilip Bhatia, vice president PC Design and Marketing, Lenovo. “Our latest range of products designed for small businesses deliver on all fronts and offer customers peace of mind with class-leading security features, renowned reliability and performance options giving them the freedom to work how they want.”

 

ThinkPad E series PCs will be available in November and S series all-in-one and small form factor desktops will be available in select markets in Q4 2015, as will a variety of laptops designed for SMBs.

ScanSource enhances European management structure

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 ScanSource, Inc., a value-added distributor of specialty technology products, announced yesterday it enhanced its management structure for several business units in Europe, in an effort to further support company growth and leverage strengths of its executive leadership.

 

“We are very excited to be able to build on the successful acquisition of Imago, as it enables us to realign our business and better focus our efforts, so that we can best serve our reseller customers and vendor partners,” said Mike Ferney, president, Worldwide Communications and Services, ScanSource, Inc. “The dedicated leadership, sales, merchandising, and technical support teams in each region underscores our commitment to our partners’ success.”

 

Additions and changes in its management include the appointment of Ian Vicarage as president of ScanSource Communications, Europe, and the promotion of Maurice Van Rijn to president of ScanSource POS and Barcode, Europe.

IBM and ARM collaborate to accelerate IoT delivery

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IBM announced today the expansion of its Internet of Things platform, IBM IoT Foundation, through its integration with ARM. 

The collaboration is designed to connect ARM meed-enabled devices with analytics services, allowing for better gathering and analysis of device data.

"Deploying IoT technology has to be easy, secure and scalable for it to feel like a natural extension of a company's business," said Krisztian Flautner, General Manager, IoT Business, ARM. "By collaborating with IBM, we will deliver the first unified chip-to-cloud, enterprise-class IoT platform. This will empower companies of any size with a productivity tool that can readily transform how they operate, and the services they can offer."

The integration unifies the ARM and IBM platforms, enabling users to enhance operations, build value and improve engagement. 

RapidFire Tools, Inc. announced shared yesterday it will continue to present trainings for MSPs throughout September, in an effort to help MSPs and IT solution providers profit from network assessment.  

The company will offer “Top Ways to Use IT Assessments to Win New Business and Grow Your Customer Relationships” at the MAX 2015 event Sept. 10 and the upcoming ASCII Group SMB Success Summit Sept. 16. “We continue to focus on educating the MSP community about the revenue potential associated with network assessment throughout the client life-cycle, from prospecting and new client onboarding, through client service and business reviews, and even by delivering new services,” RapidFire Tools CEO Mike Mittel said. “The best way to communicate all these uses is to let solution providers see for themselves how these tools are used and what kind of branded reports they can generate.  RapidFire Tools is honored that so many trade show attendees have recognized the value of these solutions, and have gone back to put our network assessment products successfully into practice.”

Its training session won “Best IT Workshop” at a spring 2015 ASCII Group SMB Success Summit.

Webroot announced yesterday the release of the Webroot IoT Security Toolkit, which enables Internet of Things and Industrial Internet of Things solution designers and system integrators to integrate threat intelligence services and cybersecurity device agents. webroot

The IoT Security Toolkit is designed to protect next-gen systems against advanced threats of ever-evolving malware, zero-day exploits and internal vulnerabilities.

"As the world begins to unlock the potential of IoT devices and platforms, cybercriminals are deploying more advanced attacks to hijack critical applications inside edge devices," said John Sirianni, VP of IoT Strategic Partnerships at Webroot. "Because the Webroot IoT Security Toolkit leverages real-time threat intelligence to protect deployed systems against cyberattacks, solution designers and integrators can meet the mandatory requirements for security and safety systems by ensuring that critical devices and systems operate as expected. Together with our strategic partners, we are playing a critical role in developing and deploying devices and systems that are defended against the zero-day and advanced persistent threats of today and tomorrow."

The toolkit includes device agents, BrightCloud Threat Intelligence Services and a secure web gateway.

Paying for the protection of DRaaS seems futile when the service provider holds data and systems at a ransom after a disaster.

StorageCraft announced yesterday at VMworld a new pricing model for the StorageCraft Cloud Services disaster recovery solution designed to make StorageCraft products more accessible and eliminate the threat of hidden fees. storagecraft

“Data is the life-blood of a business. A business owner with data in a cloud should not be forced to pay a ransom to gain access to his or her data after a disaster. The new, simple pricing model makes StorageCraft Cloud Services as affordable as generic clouds, while offering recovery options that other clouds do not offer,” said Mike Kunz, StorageCraft’s Vice President of Worldwide Sales. “To put it simply, StorageCraft Cloud Services’ pricing allows users to focus on the recovery -- not on what is affordable to recover or how to pay for a recovery. Other vendors charge high fees at the time of recovery, such as essential CPU, RAM, and bandwidth resources. StorageCraft Cloud Services supports your business’ recovery point objectives and recovery time objectives, including full virtualization.”

Features of StorageCraft Cloud Services include instant virtualization and networking of cloud-based backups, personal control of cloud backups and a self-service Cloud Services portal.

Sage announces new version of SMB accounting software

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SMB solution provider Sage announced today Sage 50 Accounting—U.S. Edition has been updated to include 10 most-requested enhancements for its SMB customers. sage

“The latest version of Sage 50 includes a number of enhancements requested by our customers and designed to make day-to-day tasks such as accounting, payroll and payments even easier for small business owners,” said Connie Certusi, Sage EVP and general manager. “The new iPhone and iPad apps give customers the flexibility to check inventory and create quotes on the go, while the new chat feature allows customers to get help as soon as they need it without having to pick up the phone.”

Other updates include simplified installation, chat support and customizable lists.

A new type of malware discovered last month is an undetectable threat to email inboxes, and it’s able to work its way around a sandbox gateway appliance.

Quick Heal Technologies announced today its research labs found APT-QH-4AG15 last month, malware designed to infect highly-protected networks. quickheal

“Our global reach allows us to identify advanced persistent threats (APT) such as this one in all corners of the globe, with a goal of catching them just as they emerge and containing them before they spread,” said Sanjay Katkar, CTO, Quick Heal Technologies. “Our initial findings have taught us that even the most advanced sandbox-based appliance protection can be breached. As a result, enterprises need to consider and implement multiple layers of protection to safeguard their networks.”

Sandbox-based gateway appliances rose as an enterprise solution to reduce or mitigate the threat of spear phishing attacks, yet this breach may raise concerns about the reliability of sandbox gateway appliances, Katkar said.

Quick Heal released a report on the threat, available for download here.

As nations across the globe remember the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II this week, the industry can celebrate another milestone—Germany-based Sennheiser’s 70th year in the marketplace. sennheiser

Take a listen to audio solution provider Sennheiser, which announced last week the anniversary and discussed its updated portfolio.

Its call center and office segment, launched into the telecommunications space in 2011, is key to the company’s continued growth, according to Sennheiser, with year-over-year sales growth of 103 percent.

“Sennheiser has decades of experience delivering high-end, industry-leading audio products to a roster of complex verticals,” said Bill Whearty, vice president, sales and marketing at CC&O at Sennheiser. “Competitors have difficulty comparing our legacy in the professional audio marketplace, which harks all the way back to 1945. We’re proud to leverage that expertise and engineering prowess in the contact center and office environments, so the business community can benefit from this level of quality technology. As the company celebrates its 70th anniversary, we look forward to observing our fine standards of audio quality, elevating the effectiveness of even the most sophisticated telephony system.”

The company is focused on fostering CC&O growth in the United States, Denmark, Germany, France and Benelux, and estimates increased market shares in the telecommunications and office markets.

VMware extends unified hybrid cloud platform

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The second day of VMworld 2015 brought three key VMware announcements: new solution EVO SDDC, updates to its unified hybrid cloud platform and previews of vSphere Integrated Containers and Photon Platform. vmware

VMware, Inc. announced today new features for its unified hybrid cloud platform, designed to enable customers to create a consistent environment across public and private cloud.

"Digital business transformation is creating new opportunities and new risks across every industry," said Raghu Raghuram, executive vice president and general manager, Software-Defined Data Center Division, VMware. "Applications are the fuel of this digital business transformation. With our One Cloud, Any Application, Any Device™ strategy and our unified hybrid cloud platform, VMware is empowering the next wave of industry leaders to deliver applications with the stability, security and reliability of an enterprise, while allowing organizations to innovate with the agility of a startup."

Within its unified hybrid cloud platform, VMware expanded and added services in VMware vCloud Air and released several new products for the software-defined data center.

Several of the new features and products associated with its unified hybrid cloud platform offering are available now, and the rest will be available later this year. Full pricing and availability can be found here.             

It’s not over quite yet. Cloud is expected to continue to drive revenue for technology pros in a second wave of cloud adoption, according to findings from a Cisco-sponsored global study. 

Cisco released earlier this week “Don’t Get Left Behind: The Business Benefits of Achieving Greater Cloud Adoption,”an InfoBrief developed by IDC and based on primary market research with executives in 3,400 companies in 17 countries.

“As we talk with customers interested in moving to the second wave of cloud, they are far more focused on private and hybrid cloud—primarily because they realize that private and hybrid offer the security, performance, price, control and data protection organizations are looking for during their expanded efforts,” said Nick Earle, senior vice president, global cloud and managed services sales, Cisco. “This observation, which drove our strategy to build a portfolio of private and hybrid infrastructure and as-a-service solutions, is reflected in the new IDC study, which shows that 44 percent of organizations are either currently using or have plans to implement private cloud and 64 percent of cloud adopters are considering hybrid cloud.”

“Don’t Get Left Behind” includes information on cloud adoption by industry, economic and business outcomes of cloud, and cloud adoption in the countries included in the study.

Read and download the full InfoBrief here.

Attend "Myth busters: Debunking the myths of DaaS and its providers,"  and you'll be able to definitively say, "I ain't afraid of no DaaS."

Companies worldwide have deployed Desktop-as-a-Service, supporting employees with a simple, secure and highly-accessible workspace solution. 

Though it's a simple way to enhance productivity for employees, confusion still surrounds DaaS, especially surrounding what it includes, how it's deployed, and how MSPs, VARS and telecos can add DaaS to their product line as a very profitable part of their business. 

SMB Nation will present "Myth Busters" from 10-11 a.m. Sept. 10 in a live webinar, joined by Scott Markley, nGenx channel sales ngenxexecutive. nGenx continues to be a leader and pioneer in DaaS, and Markley will share his extensive industry experience to bust the biggest myths surrounding DaaS and show you how your business can profitably expand into the cloud.

Learn more about the webinar and register here.

Founded just two years ago, My Digital Shield doesn't take baby steps, but rather leaps and bounds with its Security-as-a-Service solutions for small businesses. my digital shield

MDS announced yesterday it was voted and awarded “Best New Product” at the ASCII Success Summit in Boston, Mass., recognizing the innovation and affordability of MDS’ cybersecurity solution.

“We are honored to have been selected by ASCII Boston attendees as the ‘Best New Product’ award recipient,” said Andrew Bagrin, founder and CEO of My Digital Shield. “We are thrilled to have the ongoing support from our partners and the channel community and are committed to accelerating the continued expansion of MDS’ affordable cyber security solution.”

MDS supports MSPs and SMBs across various industries, including retail, hospitality and professional services.

IBM extends Blue Box Cloud availability

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Private, OpenStack-based clouds received a boost yesterday from IBM, which announced Blue Blox Cloud is now available in global IBM cloud data centers running SoftLayer infrastructure. IBM logo1

Blue Box, a private-cloud-as-a-service solution acquired in June, is now fully integrated into its OpenStack portfolio as an open-source private cloud and demonstrates IBM’s ongoing support of OpenStack.

“I’ve been impressed by the way the IBM and Blue Box engineering teams have collaborated to quickly bring Blue Box Cloud to a worldwide infrastructure platform,” said Jesse Proudman, CTO at Blue Box, an IBM Company. “Today, we’ve taken a big step toward our goal of delivering private clouds to customers anywhere in the world—and we’re offering deployment timelines that are unheard of within traditional private cloud.”

The Blue Box solution is designed to simplify and bring consistency across cloud types, with a focus on combining the benefits of private and public clouds to support private cloud users.

It’s better than a back-to-school sale on crayons and composition notebooks—disaster recovery and backup solution provider StorageCraft will continue to offer a significant discount on several ShadowProtect solutions in response to ongoing support from users and partners. storagecraft

StorageCraft announced today it is extending a 30 percent discount offer through Sept. 30 to partners and non-partners on virtual licenses, packs and bundles for its ShadowProtect and ShadowProtect SPX software purchased through StorageCraft and its distributor partners.

“The promotion has proved to be popular as IT professionals around the world have taken advantage of the opportunity to protect access to their data and systems with one of the most-trusted backup and disaster recovery solutions on the market,” said Mike Kunz, StorageCraft’s vice president of worldwide sales.

The ShadowProtect family creates backup images of Windows and Linux virtual machines, with recovery available minutes after a disaster, according to StorageCraft.

Those interested in learning more about StorageCraft and its solutions in-person can visit booth 2240 at VMworld Aug. 30 to Sept. 3.

AvePoint updates Azure-based SaaS platform for O365

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SolarWinds N-able, a RMM and service automation software provider, announced yesterday the upcoming release of its IT service management platform for MSPs serving small and midsized businesses.

MSP Manager, available this September, is designed to increase efficiency and profitability for MSPs, with features including centralized customer knowledge management, mobile applications, integrated billing and a customer portal.

“One of the toughest challenges facing small and medium-sized IT service businesses is profitably growing revenues while acquiring new customers,” said JP Jauvin, General Manager, SolarWinds N-able. “Many IT service professionals are either using manual processes or complex software tools to manage the business, but what they really need is a cloud-based IT service management software platform that is simple, affordable and easy to manage.”

Pricing details and partnership information are available from SolarWinds N-able.

 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.

D&H offers VAR programs for Win10

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Tech distributor D&H Distributing announced today it’s offering new programs, services and training opportunities to support resellers after the recent release of Windows 10. dandh

Its support for VARs includes Windows 10-oriented webcasts and seminars, a Windows 10 Partner Services marketing template and support from D&H’s Microsoft experts on its Solutions Team.

“We’ve had a Windows 10 upgrade path in place for VARs for some time,” said Jeff Davis, senior vice president of sales at D&H Distributing. “We’re looking to support our resellers regarding the new operating system, whether that means helping them educate end-users about new features, identifying the more familiar characteristics of the system, or supporting upgrades and greenfield installations. Based on the responses we’ve gotten to our current trainings, there is huge interest in the channel. We want our VARs to be on top of this transition, reengaging with their end-customers to further entrench themselves as trusted IT providers.”

D&H’s Windows 10 resources are available here.

SaaSMAX announced earlier this week it plans to host the Partner Perspectives August Edition at 10 a.m. PT Aug. 21, a webinar addressing how attendees can build a successful SaaS solution provider practice. saasmax

“The new SaaSMAX Partner Perspectives monthly series is a much needed addition to the Reseller Community via its peer-led forum,” said Clinton Gatewood, webinar host and VP of reseller engagement and matchmaking. “We're bringing together a panel of SaaSMAX Resellers who sell multiple SaaS applications every day and are building up a steady stream of recurring commissions. We had several dozen attendees for our inaugural July webinar, and expect attendance will increase for the August event and each month thereafter.”

Panel discussion topics include client relationships when delivering SaaS applications, managing relationships with SaaS vendors and the impact of selling SaaS on business and employee processes.

Kirk Lesser, president and founder of Renascence IT Consulting, Inc., and Christopher Alghini, principal consultant at Coolhead Teach, join the panel of speakers to share SaaS experiences.

Free registration for the live webinar is available here. SaaSMAX will have a recorded copy of the webinar available at a later time.

AppRiver named to Inc. 5000 for continued growth

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AppRiver announced today Inc. magazine ranked it as No. 4057 in its 34th annual list of the nation’s 5000 fastest-growing private companies. appriver logo emailwebsecurityexperts stacked

This is AppRiver’s ninth year on the list, and it’s one of 19 IT service companies nationwide to be on the list at least nine times.

“The story of this year’s Inc. 5000 is the story of great leadership.  In an incredibly competitive business landscape, it takes something extraordinary to take your company to the top,” said Inc. President and Editor-In-Chief Eric Schurenberg. “You have to remember that the average company on the Inc. 5000 grew nearly six-fold since 2012. Business owners don’t achieve that kind of success by accident."

AppRiver grew 71 percent during the last three years and currently protects 47,000 businesses worldwide with email messaging and web security.

The full Inc. 5000 list is available here.

AlienVault closes financing round after record year

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Unified Security Management provider AlienVault announced today it closed a $52 million Series E funding round, which brings its total funding raised to $116, with investments from Institutional Venture Partners, Trident Capital and more. alienvault

The funds raised are set to help AlienVault scale its global sales and marketing programs and invest in product innovation for its USM platform and Open Threat Exchange, its open threat intelligence community.

“With today’s rapidly changing threat landscape, technology alone is not enough in the battle against cybercrime.  At AlienVault, we unify the security products, intelligence and community which enable all organizations – regardless of size – to quickly detect and respond to today’s threats,” said Barmak Meftah, president and CEO of AlienVault. “This round of funding will allow us to make the investments needed to rapidly expand our reach into this large market opportunity.”

AlienVault recorded strong progress throughout the last year, with a 75 percent increase in new customer growth and more than 65 percent bookings growth year over year. It was also named to the Visionary quadrant of the 2015 Gartner Magic Quadrant for SIEM.

OpenStack-powered Platform9 announced today it created a simplified approach to self-service private clouds for VMware customers through Platform9 Managed OpenStack for VMware vSphere environments. platform9

Platform9 now fully supports VMware vSphere environments through a VMware specific virtual appliance available to integrate OpenStack controller services with vSphere resources.

“Platform9’s mission is to make private clouds easy to deploy and manage for the enterprise. By fully supporting VMware vSphere, we are enabling every VMware customer to instantly derive greater value and infrastructure agility from existing virtualized infrastructure,” said Sirish Raghuram, co-founder and CEO of Platform9. “Customers no longer need to choose between the world’s leading private cloud platform (OpenStack) and the world’s leading virtualization platform (VMware vSphere): Platform9 Managed OpenStack is 100% interoperable with VMware vSphere, allowing customers to integrate OpenStack and vSphere seamlessly. Developers can have self-service provisioning using OpenStack while at the same time, IT Operations manages the underlying infrastructure using vSphere.”

More information, including availability and pricing, are available here.

Grant Thompson, a founding partner at Bainbridge Island, Wash.-based MG Group, announced today to the SMB community he started a GoFundMe campaign to support funeral and burial costs for Edith Grace, Thompson’s newborn niece. gofundme

Edith Grace was diagnosed with Trisomy 18, a chromosomal condition that can result in early death of an infant, according to WebMD. She was born July 31 and died August 12, leaving behind both moments of grief and memories of joy.

Forty supporters helped Thompson meet his initial fundraising goal of $5,000, but every dollar helps to further offset costs to the family. Thompson added he hopes supporters will envelope the family in prayer.

Those wanting to provide the family with financial and spiritual support can visit the “Edith Grace Memorial Fund” here.