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

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CharTec launched new division Relyenz today at CompTIA’s ChannelCon Conference, offering a CentralPoint multi-vendor security platform designed to deliver simplified security management to MSPs.

Relyenz will enable partners to provision and monitor endpoint security, password management and disaster recovery protocols in a fully managed environment.

“For years, CharTec members have been asking us if there was a way to manage their security stack just like their disaster recovery solutions from CharTec,” CharTec CEO Alex Rogers said. “That’s why we launched Relyenz. We’ve brought together a strong core of individuals with extensive security background, paired with the best solutions in the industry, to better serve the MSP community.”

This division and platform are part of a continuing partnership between CharTec and Sophos.

Autotask acquires Soonr, expands offerings

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Collaboration and data security are key to the modern office, and Autotask aims to provide both with acquisition of Soonr, a provider of cloud file sharing and collaboration solutions for businesses.

The acquisition, announced earlier this week, will provide Autotask MSP and ITSP clients with access to enterprise-grade file sharing and synchronization solutions designed for end-client efficiency and security.

“Autotask delivers innovative offerings that manage mission-critical business processes for our customers. This acquisition fits perfectly within that objective and represents a significant managed services’ revenue opportunity for all MSPs and ITSPs,” said Mark Cattini, President and CEO of Autotask. “FSS is a fundamental element of business continuity that ITSPs are expected to provide. Soonr provides a HIPAA-compliant, SaaS solution with 99.99 percent uptime that is IT-approved, easy to deploy, and simple to use.”

More information about the acquisition is available here.

It’s not just the grocery store around the corner or the one-room bookshop down the street. Small and midsized businesses are the technology firms, daycare centers and manufacturing plants upholding the American and global economies. smallktsage

At “Imagine Now,” the 2015 Sage Summit, small businesses were the stars of the show, and rightfully so—with around 8,000 attendees from 64 countries, it’s the largest conference focused solely on SMBs. The conference was grand in scale, and revealed a new direction for U.K.-based Sage.

As the crowd flooded into the keynote each morning, we were greeted with this statistic: 99 percent of the world’s companies are small and midsized businesses.

The panoramic screen flashed up more statistics: Minority-owned SMBs employ 4.8 million people in the U.S. alone. SMBs produce 14 times more patents than enterprises in the same industries. SMBs are game-changers.

Sage switches direction

Historically, Sage acquired market leaders or second-in-the-market companies with SMB-focused products to draw in more and more customers, becoming an amalgamation of solutions without a clear focus.

In the last six months, Sage transitioned into a new era under a unified brand and comprehensive solutions designed to create consistent customer experiences, said Aimee Ertley, Sage North America director of external communications.

Sage unveiled myriad new products and projects at the conference, including Sage 100c, Sage 300c and Sage Live. Its new solutions are scalable, Sage Payments CEO Paul Bridgewater said, and will provide reliability as it looks to drive customers onto a simplified subscription service.

Partnerships with Microsoft and Salesforce, among others, will drive continued growth of Sage’s solutions and simplify accessibility to tools.

New Orleans, new opportunities

New Orleans was devastated by Hurricane Katrina in 2005, but the vibrancy of the city continues today. The open container laws and river of drinks make New Orleans a perfect place to network with industry leaders, analysts and journalists from across the globe.

Just like Sage, the city of New Orleans continues to unite for growth and was filled with small businesses, making it the perfect environment to discuss the futures of Sage and small business.

#SageAdvice from keynote speakers

“Maybe it will be better, and maybe it won’t be. But go to bed thinking it will be better.” Colin Powell.

“Status quo just does not cut it anymore.” Sage North America President Jodi Uecker

“Two words: Love. Service. Period.” Deepak Chopra

For more information on the Sage Summit, visit or search #SageSummit and #SageAdvice on social media.

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.

I did a FUBAR with a “Foo” Email!

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By Harry Brelsford, CEO and Founder, SMB Nation

Several thousand of you have received an email from me the past several days with the Subject Line of “foo” and the body text of “foobar” from me. Here is the back story and the benefit.foobar

What started out as a learning exercise inside Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013 Online turned into a FUBAR. I created a marketing list. Then I set the list to dynamic instead of static. I clicked Next a few times in the marketing list setup wizard and created a test email with the subject line “foo” and the text “foobar.” Then I clicked Finish and emails started going out via my Outlook client in Office 365. OMG “it” was mailing my entire customer list. I tried to right-click and stop but to no avail. I researched online how to stop a marketing list from mailing but couldn’t find the right answer. So I spent a few Karma dollars I had built up over the years and reached out to Julie Yack, a Microsoft MVP for Dynamics CRM and co-author of the well-received “ The CRM 2013 Field Guide Volume Two: How to CRM like an MVP with Dynamics CRM 2013” found on Amazon here. I purchased this book a few months ago and it’s highly recommend.

Julie deftly directed me to a settings area and I canceled the workflow for the test email. However, by then over 10,000 emails had queued and I couldn’t stop the motion. So many of you received my test email.

Interestingly, my response rate from YOU the reader was off the chart. Typically when I send out a newsletter, I receive only a few direct replies. With the foo email, I have received hundreds from replies ranging from LOL to “foo on you” to have your been hacked (a legitimate question). Another benefit is that I and receiving hundreds of bounces in the form of NDR replies. That means the email address is no longer valid. So I can use the report for the marketing list to then deactivate contacts that are invalid. Cool!

Seems to me my lemons turned into lemonade. Maybe I should send out more FUBAR mistakes as a marketing tactic! Lemme know.

Windows 10 and Windows Willy

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By Harry Brelsford, SMB Nation Founder and CEO

How do you efficiently communicate yesterday’s Windows 10 launch to a readership that’s probably overwhelmed with Win10 talk nonstop? I’m not going to try and compete with the hamster wheel news cycle! Rather, I’ll provide you my analysis wrapped into appropriate context. And I’ll weave in the insights of Windows Willy!

All things considered, Windows 10 is the release everyone needs. OEMs need to sell devices. MSPs and partners need a reason for being in the eyes of the client. Microsoft needs a hit. I’d offer Windows 10 delivers in spades and if for no other reason than it’s not Windows 8. Haters gotta hate right?

There are some fantastic resources to get your Windows 10 speeds and feeds. Start with Windows 10 Update and search from there. Ranging from a Start button (are you happy now?) to Cortana (voice navigation), this “every other operating system release” from Microsoft will outperform. Analysts have rated MSFT a buy based on this and other factors (Office 365, Azure, cost-cutting) forecasting the stock will top $60/share near term. I’m impressed Windows 10 shipped today as I originally pegged it as a late summer release. This release timing allows the early adopters to play with it during the dawg days of summer and get serious in September after Labor Day.

windowswillyReaders will remember that, last month (June 2015), we conducted a five-city “Windows 10 preview tour” that offered a combination of roadmap and technical content plus a focus group. We were heavily oversubscribed with seating limited to 50 attendees and in one case the wait list exceeding 92! What we discovered was that the hunger for Windows 10 exceeded any other workshop offering we’ve had since the start of the Great Recession and the heyday of Small Business Server (SBS). While Microsoft received high marks for the Windows 10 product itself, the tour produced contentious conversations concerning how Microsoft treats its partners. Oddly this wasn’t necessarily Windows 10 specific but the pop therapy was worth the price of admission alone LOL for the disgruntled MSPs and partners.

Geekspeaking – I’ve been running Windows 10 Preview since its first day of release (October 1, 2014), and I wrote a blog comparing it to Windows 95 (even bigger than Windows XP). I’ve run it on four different machines and have launched, cried and had fisticuffs along the way. It’s all part of being a member of the Windows 10 family. Tonight, over adult beverages as I hold my own mid-night pizza launch party, I intend to download and install the real Windows 10 release on my four processor desktop! I’ll blog soon on that experience and what, if any, changes have occurred in my eyes since the preview edition(s). I plan to deploy Windows 10 in production within the next 30 days.

Where to get:

Figure: Download Windows 10 now from your Action Pack subscription!


Windows Willy

Back in late August 1995, I participated in the mid-night pizza party at the local Computer City for the Windows 95 launch. I was in NYC when the Windows 8 launch in late October, 2012 just minutes before Hurricane Sandy hit! I kinda felt like I was on one of the last flights out to Seattle. This time, the Windows 10 party motion is countless small gatherings at Microsoft stores. I stopped by the Seattle Microsoft store to “be there,” as you can see in the pic. And that’s where I met Windows Willy. He had driven several hours from eastern Washington to make a day of it, celebrating the Windows 10 launch. I met him at his third stop (he went to another Microsoft store first followed by a trip to the Microsoft Redmond campus). In this video, Windows Willy shares his insights into Windows 10 here.

PS – You can attend a Windows 10 event (which will continue for several days) near you by perusing this list.

PPS – Windows 10 is a pillar of our 13th annual conference held October 2-4 at Microsoft Redmond. BE THERE!!!!

PPPS – This is Clippy talking about Windows 10 with Jimmy Fallon on late night TV. Too funny! Here:

dandhThe traditional desktop—complete with a tower computer and at least one monitor—isn’t a smart solution for modern SMBs. Instead, small form factor PCs provide the scalability, efficiency and size best suited to businesses low on capital or cubicle space.

D&H Distributing announced today an increase in its SFF offerings, including PCs from Acer, Dell, HP and Lenovo in its portfolio.

“Small form factor computers have a great deal to offer a small business, or any industry requiring an easily re-configured environment, yet where users are still looking to leverage full-power, permanent desktops in their workplaces,” said Jeff Davis, senior vice president of sales at D&H Distributing. “These units offer the best of both worlds, with rapid processing and a low-profile, space-saving design, often with a lesser footprint than even a tablet device. It affords the user a certain amount of portability similar to a mobile device. For the cost, and combined with other savings in space and energy, SFF models present a tremendous value.”

SFF PCs make use of much of the same technology as full-size computers, including Intel Core processors and solid state drives. Just as small businesses gain more strength and prestige worldwide, ‘small’ may be the future of the desktop computer.

Small and medium businesses comprise 99 percent of businesses worldwide and continue to lead the workforce in hiring and innovation.

The “Imagine Now” Sage Summit began by highlighting the strengths of small businesses as media, customers and partners joined Sage CEO Stephen Kelly, General Colin Powell and spiritual thought leader Deepak Chopra (right) at the first keynote address.

“The real strength of this country rests not in Wall Street, but resides in the small businesses,” Powell said.

Despite interesting conversation from the three about everything from office satisfaction to increasing dependency on technology, the most important announcement for current and prospective customers was the introduction of three new products: Sage Live, Sage 100c and Sage 300c.

The most innovative of the three, Sage Live, capitalizes on the company’s partnership with Salesforce. The real-time accounting service is accessible on all connected devices and built on the Salesforce1 cloud platform.

The newest products from Sage address and complement the blurring of business and consumer solutions and experiences, Kelly said.

Follow @khalltweets or the hashtags #SageSummit and #SageAdvice for updates throughout the conference from media and attendees.

What’s the difference and why should we care?

The portfolio of options for business communication solutions is bursting at the seams, yet it often feels more difficult than ever to find the solution that’s best suited for each business.

Microsoft’s rebranding of Lync and introduction of Skype for Business affected the entire community of users and Microsoft partners as business and personal communication tools mixed and integrated.

This shift has created a new ecosystem filled with both dangers and opportunities.

Join SMB Nation and Greg Plum from 10 to 11 a.m. Thursday, July 30 to learn how Skype for Business is changing the way businesses communicate and how it can lead to business growth.

For more details and registration, click here. This webinar is sponsored by Globanet.

Dell releases SonicWALL series designed for SMBs

Wireless networks are necessary for almost all businesses both at the small business and enterprise level, yet securing networks that include myriad systems and users can be costly and dangerous to data if not properly selected or maintained.

Dell announced today availability of its SonicWALL TZ Wireless Firewall Series, wireless network security solutions designed to deliver 802.11ac wireless performance and security for at a low cost.

"Attacks against all networks – including wireless networks – are becoming more sophisticated, and require a solution that ensures the highest level of security without compromising performance or bandwidth. We observed a 100 percent increase in the use of HTTPS traffic to obfuscate content,” said Patrick Sweeney, Dell Security executive director. “Whether that is wired or wireless traffic, it’s a problem for security. Dell SonicWALL TZ wireless firewalls support the latest high-speed 802.11ac wireless standard, as well as the ability to inspect encrypted traffic, helping to ensure ultra-secure connectivity. Our TZ wireless firewalls also provide a multi-layered approach to security that leverages our industry-leading deep packet inspection, application intelligence, control and visualization, as well as central management technology to provide an easy-to-deploy, high performing solution for both SMBs and large, distributed enterprises."

The TZ wireless firewalls can be combined with other solutions to scale to different environments.

appriver logo emailwebsecurityexperts stackedKeep your friends close, and your enemies closer. For North American companies and individuals, this old statement came true in Q2 with more than 50 percent of spam messages originating in North America.

Appriver released results yesterday from the Q2 Global Security Report, a summary and analysis of spam and malware. AppRiver quarantined 4.7 billion spam messages between April and June 2015, and blocked 165 million messages containing attachments with viruses.

“It is more important than ever for companies to educate their staff on the seriousness of the breach problem, because hackers don’t announce themselves, but rather they attempt to work in darkness to minimize detection ultimately maximizing the size and scope of their breach,” said Fred Touchette, senior security analyst, AppRiver.

The full report, available here, details current malware trends, discusses Q2 breaches and reminds all who use email of the importance of effective security measures.

Competitors hoping to entice both small business and enterprise customers need to offer fair, scalable pricing with high-quality solutions, and VoIP provider Digium realized this with Switchvox Cloud 6.0.

Digium, Inc. announced yesterday the release of cloud-based UC service Switchvox Cloud 6.0, which now offers a metered pricing structure for organizations with low usage patterns that want the features and opportunities of a business-class phone service.

"Switchvox Cloud's new, lower cost, metered offering starts at $12.99 per user, per month, reducing the barrier to entry for customers looking to migrate to cloud communications," said Channing Hinkle, product manager for Switchvox Cloud.  "Companies with variable call volumes, due to seasonality or other events, can save money by paying for only the minutes they use.  It's the perfect complement to our current Switchvox Cloud unlimited minutes offering for users with more consistent call volumes."

Important features of version 6.0 include updated call control and call visibility widgets, options for integration with CRM tools such as Salesforce and enhanced administrative tools.

Security solution provider Trend Micro Incorporated announced yesterday availability of cloud and data center platform Trend Micro Deep Security on the Azure Marketplace.

The solution is designed to extend security provided by Microsoft Azure and help organizations meet their shared security-enhanced responsibilities.

“We are pleased that Trend Micro Deep Security is now available on the Azure Marketplace,” said Nicole Herskowitz, senior director of Product Marketing, Microsoft Azure. “By making Trend Micro Deep Security available on our cloud platform, Trend Micro is providing automated cloud security for Azure workloads to customers around the world.”

Deep Security meets PCI and HIPAA requirements and defends against malware and network attacks.

3D printer manufacturer XYZprinting announced today it partnered with D&H Distributing to expand distribution of its 3D printers and products.

Its printers are the most affordable worldwide, according to XYZprinting, as it strives to open the door to 3D accessibility for SMBs and the K-12 and higher education sectors.

“XYZprinting offers a wide variety of 3D printers to satisfy different customer needs at a competitive pricepoints. We’re thrilled to provide their industry-leading, accessible and affordable 3D printers to our rapidly expanding list of customers,” said Rob Eby, vice president of purchasing at D&H. “As 3D printing continues to drive demand in the marketplace, especially in the education sector, we look forward to working with XYZprinting to increase consumer accessibility to these sought-after solutions.”  

The XYZprinting 3D printers start at $399, and users can build everything from phone and music player cases to children’s toys.

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.

Using social media for virtual networking and relationship-building is a modern key to success in any industry, and especially essential to MSPs and other members of the channel community that may not always meet their clients face-to-face as often as they'd like.scott in seattle

Social media should brand company leaders, rather than just the company as a whole, Microsoft SBS leader and SMB Nation member Scott Cayouette said. Executives should take advantage of platforms from Facebook fan pages to video blogs that give them a direct opportunity to create connections with current and potential customers. Twitter and LinkedIn, too, continue to be an important part of networking strategies.

With his roles as a managing partner at IPW Networks and MyLeadSystem Pro affiliate, Scott is invested in helping company leaders to do just what he suggests and build a strong social media presence.

“The more people get to see what you look like, the more they feel like they get to know you,” Scott said. “It solves that age old issue: Who are they, and what are they like? By the time they meet you, they feel like they know you.”

MyLeadSystem Pro, a social media affiliate platform providing strategies and trainings to help affiliates and their clients create a well-branded multi-platform social media approach, also offers opportunities for additional income from lead and referral generation. Though it began in 2008 as a network marketing resource, it has transformed into a platform designed to help small businesses of all kinds.

MLSP also provides tools for customer relationship management, tied closely today with companies’ and company leaders’ social media presence and execution.

Through his participation in this platform and others, Scott continues to act as the trusted adviser he’s always strived to be for his clients and peers. Connect with Scott on LinkedIn, Twitter, or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to learn more.

WPC Wrap

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I’ll take one last look back at the recently completed Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC) held in mid-July in Orlando, Fla. Then it’s forward to the future.

First the fun, and then the facts.WPC Wrap Harry Posing

As usual, it was non-stop merriment clouded only by the summer humidity. As always, there were too many parties to attend. I didn’t have to pay for nourishment for nearly a week as I ate my way through the WPC party circuit! The party scene is worth the price of admission alone and not just for the fun. I’d offer it’s where relationships start, strengthen and legends are born. I often say that it’s the evening where I do “business” best!

Interestingly – the “best booth” I personally observed was the simple IBM booth with no accessories. A lady sitting in a chair was handing out job listings. She was poaching Microsoft employees and partners right on the show floor carpet, a smart move in light of the Microsoft layoffs. I’m sure her $50,000 investment in a double-wide booth was worth it!

The most interesting solution is Dell’s CloudRunner solution. Essentially, it’s a marketplace offering similar to Ingram’s Cloud Marketplace (which I wrote about here) and Odin’s CSP marketplace infrastructure (which Patrick Houston wrote about here). It’s interesting how Dell is achieving a certain degree of synergy with its vast portfolio of software and services. It can now support a comprehensive marketplace for CSPs as a one-stop shop. You can read editorial assistant Kate Hall’s coverage of CloudRunner here, and I will blog on this soon as it deserves standalone treatment.

My blue badge friend Diane Golshan is an oracle of all things Microsoft SMB Partner and the person behind the tweets and Facebooks posts. She has written THE blog summarizing WPC and listing worthy highlights and resources! Read here:, the numbers as I know them. I heard WPC was down 25 percent in real attendance before I left Seattle, but vendors were told it was 15,000 to 16,000 attendees, much like last year in Washington, D.C. It was difficult to tell what the real number was as Microsoft WPC “wore it well,” arguably having a smaller floor (pole-and-drape pulled in), a smaller Commons area making all tables FULL and the same with the dining area. I’m in show business and know the tricks of the trade. My compliments to Microsoft for being dressed to the nines out on the exhibit floor!

Bottom line – the show worked for me. I returned with over 100 leads. And that’s what it’s all about! I will repeat next year in Toronto but I’m frustrated it’s going back there for the third time in 10 years. I was hoping for San Francisco with Microsoft’s new “openness,” but the event planners didn’t ask for my opinion.

Navigating the channel and its opportunities can be like boating on the open sea—simple and intuitive for those with extensive experience, but tumultuous and dangerous for those trying it for the first time.

GetChanneled, a virtual channel chief consulting firm, opened and began accepting clients today as its co-founders, SMB channel veterans Brian Sherman and Ted Roller, strive to help technology organizations succeed in the channel.

“Whether a Fortune 500 company or an emerging vendor, building a successful channel program can be a challenging prospect,” Roller, GetChanneled virtual channel chief, said. “Our team simplifies the process, helping developers and tech organizations develop a strategy, design a go to market plan, then follow through on implementation. GetChanneled will identify the best options for each prospective vendor, from their sales and marketing plans to public relations and industry alliance needs.”

GetChanneled begins with an evaluation of clients' capabilities and needs in the channel, and works with the organizations through development and execution of a channel program.

Simplicity and predictability are key to SMBs and the MSPs serving them, and a new partnership offers additional opportunities for MSPs to simplify delivery of cloud services.

Dell announced today expansion of its IT-as-a-service offerings for MSPs through a collaboration with CloudRunner, Inc. providing MSPs with a simple, turnkey platform to mass deploy applications on virtual desktops for SMB customers.

“SMBs want easy-to-use technology they can consume and pay for through a predictable, pay-as-you-go monthly model. With CloudRunner, Dell partners achieve this goal by delivering a complete, turnkey platform that automates commodity IT services delivered in a click-together experience for SMB IT needs,” said Darrin Swan, director of worldwide sales and business development, Dell Service Provider Program. “Dell is committed to helping our MSP partners drive additional recurring revenue by ensuring their position as trusted technical advisors to their SMB customers.”

CloudRunner from Dell delivers cloud services via a pay-for-value-as-consumed method through a platform designed to accelerate cloud adoption and improve accessibility.

Interested MSPs can find out more about the Dell-CloudRunner partnership and the benefits of the platform here.

Technology and the channel have deep roots in Washington state, with home to technology giants Amazon and Microsoft and IT cloud solutions leaders including SkyKick and BitTitan.

SkyKick announced today the Seattle Business magazine recognized it as one of Washington’s 100 best companies to work for, an honor based on confidential employee surveys analyzing factors including corporate culture, benefits and employee development.

“This recognition comes at a moment of pivotal growth for SkyKick,” said Evan Richman, founder and co-CEO at SkyKick. “With recent additional funding, we’re expanding our teams to support the global demand for our latest products by investing in our most valuable asset, our employees. This award reflects our commitment to provide a positive workspace and shared mission, helping ensure we continue to offer leading cloud services to our highly valued channel partners.”

SkyKick continues to grow, recently launching a new category of cloud management products and securing $10 million in strategic financing in June.

“SkyKick is one of those rare companies that can manage explosive growth while keeping their employees motivated and excited to come to work every day,” said Michael Romoser, associate publisher of Seattle Business.

“The Top 100” PDF from Seattle Business is available here.

Healthcare clients have high security concerns as they work to maintain HIPAA compliance and protect patients’ privacy, creating an opportunity for MSPs to step in and provide support.  rapidfire tools

RapidFire Tools Inc. announced results of a survey of its MSP customers selling to the healthcare marketplace that allowed it to gauge the success and profitability of the Network Detective HIPAA Compliance Module.

The survey revealed use of the module by respondents frequently led to opportunities to begin new projects and capture sales with clients striving to maintain compliance and avoid fines.

“Assessment is even more critical in the healthcare marketplace, where a facility is vulnerable to business-jeopardizing fees—potentially hundreds of thousands of dollars—if they have not conducted a mandated Risk Assessment to document their compliance,” said Mike Mittel, CEO and president of RapidFire Tools. “We are delighted that our MSPs have been able to rely on our HIPAA Compliance tool in the field, turning those compliance review sessions into concrete revenue-building opportunities. It’s something MSPs can utilize right now to grow their businesses.”

Interested MSPs can learn more about RapidFire Tools’ network assessment modules here or at its presentation at the SMB Tech Fest July 23-24 in Charlotte, N.C.

RapidFire Tools is scheduled to inform MSPs and dealers about network assessment at events this year including the upcoming SMB Tech Fest event on July 23 - 24 in Charlotte, N.C.

Today’s leading SMBs need to find and retain the best talent, depending on modern and digital human resources strategies to engage with their

Oracle announced today enhancements and new features in the Oracle Human Capital Management Cloud, released as part of Oracle Applications Cloud Release 10.

“To take advantage of all the changes that digital technologies enable in the workforce, organizations need to be able to quickly, easily, and cost-effectively take advantage of modern HR best practices,” said Chris Leone, Senior Vice President, Applications Development, Oracle. “The latest release of Oracle HCM Cloud is specifically designed to help global organizations embrace modern HR and includes a number of exciting new innovations, particularly in the work-life space, that will help our customers drive positive business outcomes across the enterprise.”

Updated capabilities include analytics, workforce optimization, performance management and position management.

Online content creation may not be rocket science, but it can quickly become difficult and costly for SMBs lacking experience and time.

Readz introduced yesterday Readz 2.0, an online content-creation platform that enables marketers to deploy interactive, well-designed sites and web documents for both browsers and mobile devices.

“Less than 25 percent of today’s B2B web traffic is driven from mobile devices, and an even smaller percentage of that generates revenue. This is primarily because most web content is static and requires time-consuming downloads that users don’t want to deal with,” CEO Bart De Pelsmaeker said. “Readz helps clients create interactive stories and experiences that draw customers and prospects into the content and engages them in ways that were not possible before.”

The platform is hosted entirely online and allows users to adjust settings and style through a simple web interface.

Pricing for the Readz 2.0 platform starts at $90 per month.

WPC report: Ingram cloud insurgency continues

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Some readers will recall with interest Ingram’s early bleeding edge cloud marketplace attempts before the Great Recession and the Obama Administration. It was 2008, and Ingram’s Seismic initiative was way ahead of its time at our SMB Nation Fall 2008 conference in downtown Seattle. Industry leader Justin Crotty spearheaded the initiative and started a long journey to change a culture, something that typically takes a generation.ingram wpc 2015 edited

Suffice it to say, one technology generation has now passed and Ingram’s early evangelical missionary outreach is now resulting in conversions with its now-branded Ingram Micro Cloud Marketplace. I caught up with Dan Shapero, Director, Global Cloud Marketing Ingram Micro and his team at the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC) this week in Orlando, Fla. for an update on how Ingram intends to maintain momentum on its early cloud adopter, now cloud leader status.

Shapero shared Ingram is capitalizing on two Microsoft cloud strategies.

Advisor to Cloud Services Provider (CSP) Program

Ingram is taking an opportunity to help resellers transition away from the legacy Microsoft cloud advisor program, which was essentially a referral program wherein MSPs felt they gave up client control.

“We’re helping the CSP take control back of customers with the new CSP program,” Shapero said. “The CSP can manage the end customers, do the billing, provide support and select the pricing.”

The new role allows the Microsoft partners to "repurchase customers," which on the surface seems like an odd concept. An example best illustrates the situation: You are Joe the CSP, and you have 50 Office 365 E3 customers. That would be 50 licenses and on the advisor model today. In order to move to the new CSP program, you would allow the legacy advisor-based Office 365 E3-liceneses to expire and then purchase the equivalent Office 365 E3-licenses under new CSP program. On the surface, this isn’t nearly as complicated as a debt repurchase program on Wall Street LOL!

But I was appropriately skeptical. Having been the victim of Office 365 and Microsoft Dynamics CRM programs where partner licenses were “transferred” to a new program such as internal use right, I immediately thought of the service interruptions that I have personally experienced and the staff downtime my company, SMB Nation, has suffered. Shapero asserted that there is no interruption in service.

“We launched that motion on May 15, and 120 opportunities converted in first month and no interruption,” Shapero trumpeted.

So, how does this motion occur? This partner motion happens via the Ingram Micro Cloud Marketplace where the process enables the repurchase and the CSP functionality.

More Marketplaces

The second pillar message at WPC was the introduction of four new Ingram Micro Cloud Marketplaces. These “marketplaces” are by geography and now exceed 13 territories with language and currency support.

The baseline marketplace experience is a business-to-business experience between Ingram and the CSP. As an extension of the marketplace, any reseller has access to the ability to set-up a business-to-customer (B2C) storefront to serve end customers. This B2C storefront includes brand integration (the customer would not know the name Ingram Micro) and a web store to allow end customer to purchase solutions directly from the CSP and even in self-service mode.

Additional features and benefits include the ability to set-up promos, cross-sell and upsell. A sophisticated shopping cart feature dynamically features promos and specials links after point of check-out. Let me explain. When you are nearly done shopping at Amazon, you are often presented with additional offers and incentives to add to your cart. If you purchased a camera, you are contextually offered the opportunity to add camera lens and a tripod. It’s a bona fide retail motion that can add incremental sales revenue, of course.

“The CSP, can even add his or her own service SKUs as a recommended cross-sell option,” Shapero said. “For example, perhaps the customer would like to bundle a managed service option with the Office 365 licensing purchase at check out. The managed services SKU would be unique to the CSP’s own market conditions, pricing, services provided, etc.”

Bottom Line: Put Ingram Micro on your watch list, as it seeks to extend its lead among major distributors in the cloud marketplace.


It’s a week of new Microsoft compatibility during the annual Microsoft WPC, which brings together Microsoft partners and users from all four corners of the globe.

PcoIP developer Teradici announced today availability of the Teradici Pervasive Computing Platform on Microsoft Azure, enabling Microsoft partners to build and deliver virtual workspaces and vertical applications on Azure via Teradici’s extensible platform.

This announcement follows what seems to be the theme for WPC—transitioning to the cloud, and quickly. The platform, based in the cloud, is designed to neutralize cloud security concerns and provide easy access to fast, high-performance development.

“Microsoft is one of the world’s leading cloud providers and hosts a vast ecosystem of innovative partners who are building unique end-user computing solutions on its open, flexible and scalable cloud infrastructure,” Teradici CEO Dan Cordingley said. “With the Teradici Pervasive Computing Platform, Microsoft partners can unlock the full potential of Azure to deliver enhanced workspaces and applications that are accessible anywhere, on any device.”

More information on the Teradici Pervasive Computing Platform is available here.