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SMB Salary Survey for 2016 is OPEN!

Posted by on in Analysis

 

Wonder how you measure up? Here is your chance to both provide community data and then discover the results in a future blog. Think of it as training data for a BIG DATA experiment in SMB. You can participate confidentially and contribute to the data set. The more participants we have, the greater the value of the data. Again, we’ll happily share the results with you.

Thank you in advance and participate in the survey here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/salary2016

We appreciate the generous support of Atera (www.atera.com) in underwriting this community survey.

salary survey artowrk

Tagged in: CSP jobs msp PSA Salary

Are you looking to buy or sell new, used or refurbished IT and telecom parts and equipment including computers, laptops, printers, VoIP phones, central office systems, PBX/Key systems or network infrastructure?  Whether you are a supplier, reseller, service  PSO20151209 banner 220X150provider, corporate buyer or self-maintainer, you can benefit from the PowerSource professional community. PowerSource Online helps our members increase sales, build industry relationships and save time and resources with our best-in-class selling and sourcing tools.

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

Corporate buyers have the ability to search over 3,000,000 lines of inventory in real-time from hundreds of the most reputable suppliers in the secondary market industry. Our members are able to get the best possible prices on inventory items by sending multiple Requests for Quotes, and receiving answers quickly. In addition to being able to search for up to 100 parts at one time, buyers can also customize their search criteria to include only preferred vendors and trading regions for more efficient sourcing.

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

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

Give us one day and we'll send you home with all the expert sales, marketing, product, and operations advice you need to grow your revenue and boost your bottom line. The perfect event for integrators and managed service professionals looking to grow their business.

Who should attend: I.T. Resellers, MSPs, solution providers, and consultants looking for concrete, practical advice on building a healthier bottom line.

Event Locations: Dallas March 2nd; Anaheim May 4th; D.C. September 15th; Boston November 3rd

What you'll get of it: The ChannelPro 2016 ‘Channel Fitness Tour’ features an all-star cast of top industry experts, a unique interactive format that puts you in direct conversation with them, and a fast-paced, information-packed agenda covering topics you care about: • Pump Up Your Managed Service Revenues: Learn about revenue-boosting services you should be offering but probably aren't from a panel of your peers. • Bottom-Line Finance Strengthening Exercises: Discover the critical metrics experienced managers use to keep their business strong and growing. • Cloud Sales and Marketing Fitness Secrets: Let our panel of sales and marketing specialists show you how to build a high-volume, high-velocity cloud sales pipeline. • Business Process Optimization Lightning Round!: Get proven, actionable suggestions for hiring employees, tracking time, setting prices, and more. • GEAR AND CASH GIVEAWAYS: Lots of chances to win big with gear and cash giveaways throughout the day!

 There's More! Attendees also receive numerous session-related resources, including white papers, analysis tools, and worksheets that add value to their experience. We'll even take care of parking, meals, and more so you can focus on what really matters: Building a stronger, more profitable business.

How to pre-register for free as a VIP>>  https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/ChPro_Forums-2016_Pre-Reg

 

Whatever communications and collaboration systems you already have in place; if you can get them working in harmony, you stand to reap tangible bottom line benefits as well as providing users with a far richer and more intuitive user experience.     Value of UC

That’s the promise of Unified Communications (UC); to combine and enhance communications capabilities via a single platform.

Unified Communications simply describes what business has always needed – communications and collaboration working in harmony to achieve benefits for ROI and the user experience.

Yet if you asked 10 IT Directors for their definition of UC, you’d probably get 10 different answers so let’s simplify it to “An easy way to work together via voice, video, online collaboration and mobile devices”.

Defining the ‘what’ is one thing but why would businesses need Unified Communications?

Here are the five most popular reasons cited by organisations that have deployed and use UC technologies.

Productivity

Enabling better ways for people to get more done together.

Continuity

Ensuring the business is always available to do business.

Mobility

Supporting a connected workforce demanding 24/7 access from anywhere, using any kind of mobile device.

Integration

Leveraging, rather than stranding, existing and potential IT investments.

Future Proofing

Being ready for uncertain future challenges.

To discover more download our guide to Unified Communications which explores the five most popular reasons for committing to a UC future and shares real-life feedback from businesses about the value of UC.

Microsoft

 

Microsoft Chief Executive Satya Nadella says, “the enterprise cloud opportunity is massive.”

By: Therese Poletti

Microsoft Corp.’s fiscal second quarter showed that its cloud-computing efforts are paying off with major revenue growth and improved profit margins, offsetting declines in its PC businesses.


Investors cheered Microsoft’s MSFT, -0.23%  results in after-hours trading, with shares rising 3.4%, while shares of Seattle neighbor Amazon.com Inc. AMZN, +0.31%   plunged amid disappointment with holiday season profits . The two companies are proving to be fierce rivals in the arena of public cloud, where Microsoft is gaining momentum with its Azure product line, which saw a 140% year-over-year jump in revenue in constant currency.

microsoft gaining on amazon in cloud 2016 01 28

The software giant did not break out revenue of Azure in particular, only giving the growth rate. Azure is partnered with other cloud-focused products in Microsoft’s “intelligent cloud” business, which reported $6.3 billion in total revenue, up 11% in constant currency.


“The enterprise cloud opportunity is massive, larger than any market we have ever participated in,” Microsoft Chief Executive Satya Nadella told analysts.

Amazon and its fast-growing Amazon Web Services business is a formidable opponent in cloud computing, though. AWS reported $2.4 billion in sales for AWS on Thursday, with $687 million in operating income, for a revenue growth rate just shy of 70% — about half of Azure’s reported rise, though Amazon’s number did not use constant currency.

While Azure is growing faster than AWS, it is likely still far behind in terms of overall size. Ahead of Microsoft’s earnings, Raymond James analyst Michael Turits estimated that Microsoft’s Azure business would hit $501 million in revenue in the December quarter.

“It looks like they are slowly but surely gaining share, that’s the key,” FBR Capital Markets analyst Daniel Ives said.

Microsoft also fared well with its Office 365 cloud product, a major part of the “intelligent cloud” sector, which saw revenue growth of nearly 70% in constant currency.

 

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DOWNERS GROVE, Ill., Jan. 27, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Anticipating strong customer demand for the next waves of digital business technologies, information technology (IT) industry executives view the year ahead with a general sense of optimism, according to the IT Industry Outlook 2016 released today by CompTIA, the industry's nonprofit trade association.
        
Maintaining its momentum, CompTIA's IT Industry Business Confidence Index recorded an uptick of 1.2 points heading into the first quarter of the year. While a range of economic concerns have affected the Index, the rating component covering the IT industry continues to perform well.  Comptialogo
        
"The Index indicates industry executives see far more positives than negatives," said Tim Herbert, senior vice president, research and market intelligence, CompTIA.
        
For 2016, CompTIA's consensus industry forecast projects growth of 4.7 percent for the U.S. market. Industry executives believe this will be a function of incremental growth in the staple categories of hardware, software, services, and telecom, supplemented with new revenue streams from emerging categories.
        
"Businesses of all sizes increasingly recognize the need to remake their workflows and customer engagement practices with an eye towards digital transformation," said Herbert. "If investments in these technologies accelerate, and the economy holds steady, growth could lean towards the upside of the forecast."
        
In its IT Industry Outlook 2016 CompTIA identifies 12 trends that are expected to further make their mark on the IT industry, IT channel, IT workforce, and broader economy in the year ahead.

 

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On SMB MSP & Cloud Channel Challenges

Posted by on in Analysis

By Anurag Agrawal

On 7th January, Harry Brelsford, Founder, SMBNation had a Q&A webinar with Techaisle on the challenges of SMB-focused MSPs and cloud channel partners. Given below are his questions and Techaisle’s responses.

Harry: Referring to this blog SMB IT Channel has reached an inflection point can you better define “inflection point?” does that mean a tipping point before collapse or a pivot?

Anurag: It is a pivot not a collapse – “one stop solution shop” is dying as each of cloud, mobility, managed services and CI/virtualization gets too complex for generalists to manage. The IT channel is changing, permanently and in ways that are entirely different from what we have seen in the past. In the same way that “cloud” refers to a very wide range of very different IT models and deployments, “the channel” is becoming a generic phrase that describes a set of business approaches that is increasingly specialized and fragmented. The areas that I just mentioned – cloud, mobility, managed services, virtualization - today, there is substantial overlap across these categories – but it is our belief that over time, success in any one of these areas will require discrete focus and investment, reducing opportunity for equal success in/focus on other competencies.

Harry: I like how you provide historical context – the comment you made regarding a market defined by the adoption of a particular type of technology (e.g. small Business Server (SBS)) is a point well taken by this crowd. But I’m not sure I’m seeing a cult-like community emerge around any particular cloud product (e.g. Office 365). Would you agree?

Anurag: Talking from a channel POV, agreed. If there is a cult growing, it is around Hybrid IT; possible that Cloud Broker business model will get to this level as well. SMB organizations will accept the notion that their focus on cloud needs to evolve into a focus on hybrid IT, as firms realize that their platforms and management scope must encompass on and off-premise systems. Truth of the matter is that Office365 also disintermediates the channel. There is no stopping an organization from going directly to Microsoft and purchasing and installing Office 365 as opposed to using SBS from a channel partner in the past. It is a classic cloud vs. on-premise conundrum. The ecosystem should evolve but it will evolve around integration of data and applications.

Harry: Along those lines, I just had a conversation that I’m not seeing the same ecosystem building up around a cloud product or service. For example, we’d like to take credit that SBS really helped build Trend Micro and today it’s a $1b company. But I’m not seeing these add-ons in the same way with Office 365. The only thing I can point to are a few SharePoint snap-ins and a few tools (migrations, etc.). Do you agree or disagree?

Anurag: Mostly agree. There is a lot of potential around Salesforce, but a lot of cloud software suppliers sell direct, using online trials rather than channel members to educate customers about offerings. This does not mean that there will be no aggregation opportunity in the future, but the cloud broker model is still pretty immature, and the traditional channel has several barriers to surmount before they can adopt this kind of role with respect to cloud.

Harry: You put a lot of emphasis on mobility. While I think mobility is a game changer and you have kids walking around with cranked over necks on city streets, I guess I’ surprised. Please defend your lead-off statement about mobility, sir!

Anurag: Seen on the web recently – “Software is eating the world, and mobility is eating software; therefore, mobility is eating the world.” Everywhere, and especially outside the US, the mobile device is the key to information access and use. Today, the workspace is not defined by windows and walls and common area couches. For millions of SMB employees, the “workspace” is not a physical location – it is a virtual space defined by access from multiple screens which are used from multiple locations. Techaisle data shows that more than one-third of SMB employees today spend at least 20% of their work time away from a central office, and that 80% use mobile devices to access corporate information. If the “office” is defined by devices, so too is “workplace” defined by the ability to work from wherever those devices (and their users) are located. SMBs are investing in mobility because it contributes to both cost savings and increased market reach, with “improved productivity” and related answers connected to establishing “better ways of working” viewed as the greatest benefit of mobility within SMBs. Techaisle’s data shows that small and midsized businesses have different challenges in supporting the mobile workforce: while both cite TCO as their most significant challenge, small businesses struggle with the “on ramps” to mobility (such as finding appropriate suppliers and solutions), while midmarket firms report that they are more concerned with security/data protection and mobile management. Empowering the SMB mobile workforce becomes a huge opportunity for MSPs.

Harry: Let’s go throw the four points of overlap in your first blog installment. For the benefit of the listeners, could you expand on your four bullet points?

Anurag: In our research, Techaisle has divided the SMB channel into four technology-focused groups:
•Mobility, which includes the channel members who are looking to regain relevance in the client market by providing management solutions that address the sprawl of applications (and as a result, complexity and GRC exposure).
•Managed services, which hones in on firms that are successfully pursuing a services-led, recurring revenue-based business model.
Cloud, which represents – at least in our view – the mainstream opportunity of the future, and which will ultimately divide further into segments clustered around delivery models, customer sets and/or technology specialties.
•Virtualization and converged infrastructure, which represents the evolution of the traditional channel focused on sales of back-office technology.

Today, there is a great deal of overlap between the four groups, but we have hit an inflection point, and the (more or less) common starting point is launching multiple distinct paths. At present, though, this diffusion of channel interests and capabilities is the source of a great deal of complexity within the channel, and as a result, within the vendor and buyer ranks as well. All three of the core supply chain communities – buyers, vendors and the channel – need to understand what is required for success so that the channel can make the investments needed to support emerging requirements, vendors can commit to the investments and partners needed to drive success, and buyers can identify the suppliers able to deliver business benefit from advanced technology acquisition

Harry: Is managed services still a valid business model in a cloud service world?

Anurag: Good question! Yes. Think about “cloud service” as “hybrid IT that requires integration between on-prem and cloud-based resources,” and the opportunity for third party management is clear. Also, while developers love the AWS credit-card-and-go approach, business users – and SMBs especially – need more support. MSPs are hardly the only source of managed services: more than 60% of VARs, SPs and SIs sell managed services today, and there has been an increase in managed services activity in all of these channels and Channels generally are gaining comfort with managed services delivery. Same time, the variety and depth of managed services will make it difficult for non-specialists to keep pace with MSP specialists. And SMB Buyer preference for a single source of managed services will have an impact on managed services market and channel development. To put it in context, SMBs are more dependent on technology than ever before. Since 2010, IT staffing has dropped in microbusinesses, and increased in small and midmarket firms. Accordingly, managed services acts as a substitute for IT staff in firms with 1-19 employees, and as a means of augmenting IT management in larger SMBs. SMBs are struggling with IT complexity, and turning to managed services providers for support.

Harry: I want to drill down a layer on the end of your first blog’s conclusion: “Many vendors will struggle with simply understanding this fundamental change in the market, and more will fail to understand the focus and investment required to grow with partners through this transitional period.” I’ve seen three RMM companies reorganize in the past few months. The old GFI marketing team in the UK was let go. AVG had a significant layoff of the old LevelPlatform group and Kaseya just had a shake up letting developers go but hiring a lot of account reps. That’s my evidence. What is your viewpoint?

Anurag: This is not just an RMM problem, it is a channel enablement problem. In the cloud era, established partners need to change: management approach, management metrics, marketing approach, technical service skills, sales approach, and sales comp models. Or they can get displaced…Only yesterday I read somewhere that the HP Inc. channel chief Thomas Jensen had said that Channel partners must grow their business to be more solution-oriented, as a transactional based business may not be enough in five years' time. But at least in the article there was no mention of how this magical transition was going to happen and what is HP Inc. doing to make it happen.

Migration to advanced technologies such as cloud and analytics, which require sophisticated deployment capabilities and often new recurring-revenue-based sales models, has left the traditional channel behind. Vendors are “helping” partners to build the capabilities needed to participate in the growth segments of the IT industry, but their methods are unsurprisingly designed to align the channel with a particular product set. This has the net effect of converting resellers/integrators/consultants into sales agents – which erodes the channel’s basic position as a trusted advisor. There is not a lot of current appetite for vendor-neutral enablement, but there is a great deal of need for it.

Harry: This blog New Wave of SMB Channel conflict in building a cloud practice, I thought the whole idea with cloud was to be more agile. But you make a super tanker reference but call it an inapt comparison. Can you expand in our thinking?

Anurag: Yes, cloud provides agility for the end-customer but for channels it is like turning a super tanker. Building an effective cloud practice within a channel business is a complex undertaking. Using an old metaphor, it has been compared to “turning a supertanker.” This is an inapt comparison, and not just because the vast majority of channel businesses are far smaller than a large ocean vessel. The real problem with the comparison is that turning a supertanker refers to an exercise whose success rests on an anticipation of future change. Certainly, this is part of the problem for the channel – what is the best time to invest in ramping up cloud practice resources? – but the issue has a much greater scope. A successful cloud business practice requires new management metrics, new financial models, new sales processes (and generally, compensation models), new vendor relationships, new marketing activities, new consulting capabilities and new technical support capabilities. To use a nautical analogy, creating a cloud practice within an existing channel business is like building a second boat within your ship, sailing it off in a different direction, and maintaining alignment between the two courses in order to maximize synergies and benefits and reduce expensive discontinuities

Harry: You go on to allude that a cloud practice has to have a new approach and I agree. In my SMB Nation Fall 2015 keynote, I had a slide about firing your staff at your MSP practice. Basically I was saying $100K MCSE on the server-side are irrelevant and expensive on the cloud side. Let’s talk about that. Do we need to fire everyone and use virtual monkeys to do the work?

 

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Who Dat? Below is a reprint of a blog., based on our SMB Nation State of the Union 2016 Webinar (January 2016) with Anurag from TechAisle. Enjoy the read!

On 7th January, Harry Brelsford, Founder, SMBNation had a Q&A webinar with Techaisle on the challenges of SMB-focused MSPs and cloud channel partners. Given below are his questions and Techaisle’s responses.

Harry: Referring to this blog SMB IT Channel has reached an inflection point can you better define “inflection point?” does that mean a tipping point before collapse or a pivot?

Anurag: It is a pivot not a collapse – “one stop solution shop” is dying as each of cloud, mobility, managed services and CI/virtualization gets too complex for generalists to manage. The IT channel is changing, permanently and in ways that are entirely different from what we have seen in the past. In the same way that “cloud” refers to a very wide range of very different IT models and deployments, “the channel” is becoming a generic phrase 

Click HERE to read the rest of the article!

Tagged in: Channel IT msp SMB Techaisle

Thank you for participating in our 2016 Readership Survey – it’s good for us and good for you. Here are the results:

Nearly 2/3 of you defined yourself as MSPs at 62.84%. The remaining responses included break-fix, consultant, system integrator, business consultant and ISV.

Technical content areas you are interested in, in order of strength, are: Office 365, Windows 10, and Windows Server. As you can see in the figure, AWS, Azure and Skype are less popular topics for you.

Not surprisingly, with respect to segments, you want coverage on the small and medium business (SMB) area. You are not interested in government and education. Enterprise, home and consumer were all tied for a distant second.

In terms of general areas, you were very interested in more coverage of SECURITY! Second was legacy technologies and third was cloud. Losers included Big Data and Internet of Things (IoT) with both topics tied for last.

Your interests in “styles” was won by the “How To…Business” category followed by a tie with “How To…Technical” and stories on products and services. The notion of “Best of” contests finished a distant last.

When it came to social topics, you want more coverage on Start-ups, Shutdowns and Start-overs. The good news is that we’re closely listening to you and intend to make these area(s) pillars of our coverage in 2016! Tied for second was industry hiring and firings and gossip (lawsuits, etc.). Last place goes to political coverage. I thought political coverage might be a bit higher with the 2016 election year in the US.

Finally, a couple of standout comments included desire for an improvement in our newsletter being displayed on mobile devices, Hybrid Exchange/O365 articles and more technical content. There was also a shout-out to SharePoint. One person shared that “I expect this to provide content related to my work and revenue streams.”

Once in a great while, disruptive financial models are created. Take derivate trading in the financial markets and how that led to high speed trading an amazing disruption. Atera is out to do the same by essentially offering a futures contract where you lock in your PSA/RMM pricing based on the number of technicians you employ, not the number of device. It’s a brilliant strategy and makes sense with the commoditization of IT at SMB customer sites.

Why the "paying per device" model is killing the growth of your MSP business

If you avoid Atera’s attractive pricing offer, you do so at your own peril. That’s because you subjective you and your family’s financial welfare to the diminishing returns of IT management. Allow me to assert my argument.

  1. Penalized for growing – when you grow, your traditional PSA and RMM supplier grows on your expense, since new customer will require you to spend more money on monitoring of new servers & workstations. Loosely translated, there is no upside financial leverage. Your RMM and PSA costs are essentially variable costs and that makes it tough to increase profitability margins.
  2. Makes you uncompetitive – you need to charge your customer for every PC, laptop and server added. Remember I made mention of the oft accepted theory of IT commoditization? In such a marketplace, it’s essential you control if not lower your costs. A market that is being commoditized doesn’t support a cost-plus inflationary strategy. You can’t pass on your costs easily and thus you become uncompetitive to more efficient operators.
  3. Hurting your customer growth & relationship – when your customer grows (and needs more PC, laptops and servers), you have to charge more, and the customer most likely will not care about the fact that this money isn't going to your pocket at all. It’s going to fat cat PSA ISV owners and RMM executive’s wallets!

Atera to the rescue: per technician pricing

So I’ve saved the best for last. Atera is asserting an optimistic investment approach that reduces risk and increase profitability with maybe a bit of fun thrown in. Atera’s PSA and RMM solution has three pillars.

  1. Predictably – you know how much you pay each month. That’s your hedge strategy facilitated by buying Atera’s solution set. By analogy, think of it this way. Each and every day, corn farmers in Iowa sell futures on the Chicago Board of Trade. Big Ag (large agriculture companies and distributors) buy those futures as part of a financial strategy to lock in its corn commodity prices. Right or wrong, Big Ag knows what it’s be paying.
  2. Competiveness – You can charge less and provide better service because all devices will be monitored. Smart idea in a cloud world and facilitated by Atera, a born-in-the-cloud ISV.
  3. Relationship with customer- you avoid the tension of the whole “I need to charge you more for your growth” conversation. Whereas in the financial community, I’d offer personal friendships are minimized because “they” are not nice people. It’s just the opposite in SMB. MSPs are often personal friends with customers. So expectation management is paramount to a long-term relationship!

Choosing the right business communications solutions is no longer simply a case of choosing which type of system and brand you want.

The mind-boggling array of options available today means that the importance of making the correct choice has never been more critical. 

Communication behaviour is also changing. Today’s users are moving from formal meetings, booking resources and geographic limitations towards real-time collaboration, using diverse communication methods and devices, and regardless of location.

Outside of your employees the customers of SMBs are also changing how they interact and driving an excellent customer experience has become a business critical differentiator.

“When consumers hear about a product today, their first reaction is ‘Let me search online for it.’ And so they go on a journey of discovery: about a product, a service, an issue, an opportunity. Today you are not behind your competition. You are not behind the technology. You are behind your consumer.” Rishad Tobaccowala, Chief Strategy & Innovation Officer, VivaKi

This transformation can be seen in seven key trends:

Technology is now an enabler

The rise of communications protocols such as SIP and options such as cloud is opening up a new world of applications and solutions. Today’s IP phone systems are gateways to this new world.

SMB IT staff are increasingly cloud and applications managers

The role of ICT staff is evolving to become more pro-active and strategic with a reduced emphasis on support and break/fix.

Spending growth for a mobile world

IT and telecoms budgets are increasingly focussed around the smartphone, applications and on delivering a more flexible work experience.

Re-imagining work

A new approach is required to an increasingly mobile world of work from remote working to businesses without offices. 

Premium on protection

Many business are re-focussing on protection in areas from network security and remote working to applications and business continuity plans.

Incremental, integrated solutions approach

Without the resources to buy and install everything at once many SMBs are adopting an incremental purchasing strategy and a phased approach to implementing applications and communications.

Reshaping the customer experience

The way customers buy products and services is transitioning towards online. All businesses need to consider how this new form of customer engagement will impact on the technology they need.   

Mitel has produced a free Buyers Guide to explore these issues further and to help you to navigate the business communications market.

  •  What are the key trends influencing business communications today? 
  •  What questions should you ask? 
  •  What features, phones and tools does your business really need? 
  •  Is cloud or traditional communications the right choice?
  • A glossary to demystify telecoms terms

Download The Guide

Turn Office 365 into a Power Tool

Posted by on in Start-Up

Story by Jennifer Hallmark, President, SMB Nation - 

Small business customers don’t fully appreciate all of the new features in Office 365 that can revolutionize their ability to work smarter and faster – and I am not speaking about the obvious “move your office to the cloud” advantages either.

365Let me state that this assertion relates to both Office 365 for Business and the Office suite of programs, since they are melding together both functionally and in the way Microsoft is marketing them.

The “move your office to the cloud” advantages are by now well known: work from anywhere, better security, scalable licensing, and automatic upgrades. But beyond those advantages lie some real game changers for small businesses that are often email-centric and don’t naturally gravitate to newer online services. Office 365 for business paired with the Office suite are enabling some massive workflow changes that users can get excited about, namely:

• Allowing deep integration with cloud-based software capabilities that take over where Outlook, Excel and Word leave off;
• Through new “add-ins” allowing new capabilities to be accessed directly from the MSFT program currently in use through a cloud-enabled window.
• Connecting Azure Active Directory and Office 365 to web-based software from vendors and from the company’s own Azure subscription.

These less-often mentioned elements are driving a revolution. Enterprises are utilizing them to host and implement their large customized ERP programs to reduce user training, increase compliance and drive productivity. Small companies can leverage these features (through Independent Software Vendors) for the same reasons, but they actually have more to gain than enterprises. Using these features in concert with the right software vendor, many small businesses can now successfully adopt new software that in the past might have been considered inaccessible to them in the past, for reasons of complexity or due to the fact that they want to stay in the Office environment. To learn more about how attachedapps can turn your subscription to Office 365 into a power tool, visit: www.attachedapps.com/lp/power-tool/

 

By Shannon Mayer, Senior Product Marketing Manager, Continuum

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

In the last installment of “Better Call an MSP,” I offered insight on misconceptions regarding outsourcing. Now let’s discuss a new revenue opportunity for the New Year that MSPs should be thinking about: Compliance as a Service or CaaS. If you haven’t spent much time on compliance measures with your clients, then now is as a good a time as any to consider it because there is a growing need for compliance specialists in the market. Perhaps you aren’t sure of the specifics, or you haven’t found the right time to bring it up. One way to start, regardless of your vertical focus, is to check out these tips below for more information.

1.) New Year, New Offerings. It’s January, which means it’s a new year and new quarter. What better time than now to discuss proactive approaches with your clients? Even if they haven’t been asking for new and/or additional services, now is the time to start building awareness by leveraging your “trusted advisor” skills. Make a point to set a meeting sometime in the next month or two to discuss long-term projects and needs. Your clients know, especially if they are involved in verticals such as retail, hospitality and healthcare, that there are compliance measures they must adhere to. Many do not know how to tackle the compliance issues or may not be aware of how to ensure they are up-to-date with compliance measures like PCI (Payment Card Industry) and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). While you don’t want to use fear tactics to scare your clients into submission, the reality is that if they do not meet compliance measures, they could inadvertently and (unknowingly) face fines and penalties that could affect their business and revenue.

2.) Getting Vertical Specific: As an MSP, I’m sure that you are familiar with terms like PCI, HIPAA and Sarbanes-Oxley, especially if you have clients in verticals bound by these compliance standards. However, while a client might know of these regulations, it should be part of your job to ensure they are current. So why not position yourself as the thought leader and educate them on what they need to do to stay compliant and offer to help them? For instance, if your focus is on healthcare clients, you want your clients to know that OCR (Office of Civil Rights) confirmed that they will be issuing phase 2 of HIPAA compliance audits early this year. If your clients aren’t aware of this, they might end up getting audited and could face steep non-compliance fines. FYI - OCR has established a comprehensive protocol that contains the requirements to be assessed through audits, which can be found here.

Regarding PCI, if you have customers within the retail or hospitality sector, you know that this can be a tricky vertical, especially with all of the current changes regarding payment cards, such as EMV chips and mobile payments. Organizations such as the PCI Security Standards Council, and the Retail Solution Providers Association (RSPA) are focused on providing information on the various standards and regulations regarding PCI compliance measures. To stay current, start by logging on to these websites and utilizing the resources and forums that they provide. While the RSPA is member-based, you don’t need to have a membership to be part of their resource community.

3.) Prevention = New Revenue Opportunities: Aside from helping clients avoid hefty non-compliance fines, CaaS can also be a new revenue stream for you. There are huge margin potentials that can come from offering services around compliance, especially if you brand yourself as a “compliance specialist.” Aside from the initial assessments, charge for pre- and post-work projects to resolve issues uncovered during the audit. If you aren’t sure where to start, talk to your vendor partners, as some might already have established partnerships with companies that offer PCI and HIPAA network assessments. For example, Continuum works with RapidFire Tools to provide HIPAA and PCI compliance network assessment modules to MSPs. This is a good place to start, as you won’t have to “re-invent” the wheel when adding this service.

If you are going to add CaaS, I would pull this out of your “managed services bundle” or “project work” bucket, and position it on your website as a separate offering. This is better for search engine optimization (SEO) and branding purposes. End-users are online today searching for companies that offer compliance services and you want to be easily found. If these offerings are buried somewhere in your website (or not advertised specifically at all), then it’s more difficult for potential customers to find you.

Remember, the key here is not to shove another “as a service” offering down your client’s throat. It’s more about building awareness that you offer CaaS and letting them know what they need to do to stay compliant and out of legal trouble. The bottom line is that most SMBs don’t have a choice when it comes to compliance, and as an MSP, you can help them get there, while concurrently adding a new revenue stream to your business.

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

DRAPER, Utah – (Jan. 21, 2016) – Global backup and disaster recovery solution provider StorageCraft Technology Corp. today announced that Marvin Blough is the company’s new vice president of worldwide sales. Blough, who comes to StorageCraft from Dell SonicWALL, has more than 30 years of experience of successfully leading global direct and channel go-to-market efforts in IT security and software.

At StorageCraft, Blough’s focus as vice president of worldwide sales is on expanding the company’s global reach by establishing channel partnerships that enhance the profitability for the channel partner. Marvin is also responsible for working closely with international distributors to introduce the StorageCraft product line into new markets.

“Marvin Blough brings to StorageCraft an impressive track record of being one of the top sales executives in the IT channel,” said StorageCraft Chairman and CEO Matt Medeiros. “His addition enhances StorageCraft’s ability to strengthen our presence in existing markets, as well as accelerate our ability, to not only enter into new markets around the world, but to also quickly establish strong footholds in them.”  

Prior to joining StorageCraft, Blough served as a vice president of worldwide sales at SonicWALL for nine years. During his tenure at SonicWALL, Blough was recognized for his success with eight consecutive CRN Channel Chief awards.

“No matter which part of the world an IT professional is located, it is critical that his or her data and systems are protected. StorageCraft has award-winning products that IT professionals trust for backup and disaster recovery in more than a million systems,” Blough said. “As StorageCraft expands, we will develop new partnerships that allow IT professionals around the world to more easily access the StorageCraft Recovery Solution. Also, StorageCraft will soon announce a new partner program that enhances the ability of our existing and new partners to be as profitable as possible in protecting data and systems.” StorageCraft has sales on six continents. The company’s corporate headquarters is located in Draper and has its international headquarters in Cork, Ireland, as well as regional offices in Tokyo and Sydney. Throughout the years, StorageCraft products have been recognized by analysts, leading IT publications, and most importantly, IT professionals for their speed and reliability. In October, StorageCraft won the ASCII Cup Vendor of the Year award, which was the result of 26 cumulative award category wins at the eight regional ASCII Success Summits attended by IT professionals in 2015. Earlier this month, StorageCraft was named Best Channel Vendor in the Business Continuity and Backup and Disaster Recovery category in the annual Business Solutions magazine’s annual survey of IT service providers and MSPs.

--30--

About StorageCraft Technology Corporation

The StorageCraft family of companies, founded in 2003, provides best-in-class backup, disaster recovery, system migration and data protection solutions for servers, desktops and laptops. StorageCraft delivers software products that reduce downtime, improve security and stability for systems and data, and lower the total cost of ownership. For more information, visit www.storagecraft.com.

StorageCraft and ShadowProtect are trademarks of StorageCraft Technology Corporation. Other company and product names may be trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective owners.

By Jennifer Hallmark, President, SMB Nation - 

A large proportion of small and medium-sized businesses use spreadsheets to track and manage their sales process instead of a dedicated software application, aka customer relationship management (or CRM) software. We’ve noted the following advantages and disadvantages of this choice:

Advantages:

1. Ease of use: Most people already know how to open a spreadsheet and make changes to it. Many old style CRM applications are complex and require significant user training, not to mention IT resources to setup and configure. Newer-style CRM applications are lighter and easier to use, taking away some of the advantage that spreadsheets had in the past.
2. No additional cost: Most employees already have access to a spreadsheet program or can access them for no cost.
3. Highly customizable: Spreadsheets can be customized as you go without a programming language.

Disadvantages:

1. Syncing: Before cloud storage was widely available, keeping spreadsheets synced between users was a major headache. That’s become much easier these days.
2. Integrations: Inside a spreadsheet, it’s not easy to have access to your contacts, your email, social media or other related applications. A properly designed CRM app can provide workflow advantages by bringing these elements together (if done with close attention to the user experience).
3. Mobile: It’s not easy to use a spreadsheet on a mobile phone screen, although using a tablet can work fine. Dedicated mobile apps for CRM are very popular and can increase the likelihood that users embrace the application.
4. Reporting: Getting the right reports and historical information from a spreadsheet can get quite complicated and difficult to manage.attached apps logo login

There really isn’t a right or wrong answer, it comes down to preferences and requirements. For more information about the app that turns Office 365 into a powerful sales tool, click here.

By Harry Brelsford, CEO, SMB Nation - 

As the NFL playoffs continue, it’s that time of the year to conduct our annual readership survey. There is one reason, and one reason alone to engage in the conversation: Feedback is the breakfast of champions!

SurveyWe’re asking a handful of questions that will allow you to help us direct our content coverage. We want to insure we are relevant, on-target, and that you enjoy our community building efforts.

It’s all very simple. Complete the survey HERE and we’ll analyze the results over the next couple weeks. Kindly note that the survey closes January 24th so don’t delay. And thanks for keeping ‘da Nation going!
Again – complete the survey here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/smbnation2016

New Chairman and CEO Joins Backup and Recovery Software Provider

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Pete Engler

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Roadshow! Geek Grad School for MSPs

Posted by on in Analysis

Story by Harry Brelsford, CEO, SMB Nation - 

We’re back! Time to hit the road and bring the bits to YOU! No travel, no hotel and daylong advanced Office 365 and Windows 10 technical content. Over winter and spring quarter, we’ll be back in familiar NFL cities plus add a few new destinations.chicago event hardcore

New Year’s Resolution

In 2016 it’s your chance to recommit to being a life learner. You’re in tech and every decade you have to reinvent and start over. Now is that time. So invest one day to discover that our amazing independent content will help you navigate the sheer madness with the technology shift underway.

Assured Outcomes

One thing you can count on is our independent outside view looking in. We take our role as community ombudsman very seriously. You will learn something you didn’t know and you’ll leave with actionable outcomes applicable at work the very next day. No high-level blue badges babbling mission fit and strategy folks – it’s bits and bytes.

The four extended content sessions are:

• Office 365 and Azure Active Directory
• Deliver Existing Apps from The Cloud
• Windows 10 End-to-End Deployment Part I
• Windows 10 End-to-End Deployment Part II

Learn more here: http://2016roadshow.smbnation.com/

Our expert instructor is once again the popular Grant Thompson [http://2016roadshow.smbnation.com/grant-thompson/] – a geek’s geek!

The venues we’ll visit are:
1. San Francisco, CA (January 26, 2016)
2. Los Angeles, CA (January 28, 2016)
3. Redmond/Seattle WA (February 23, 2016)
4. New York, NY (February 29, 2016)
5. Atlanta, GA (March 9, 2016)
6. Chicago, IL (March 11, 2016)
7. Washington DC (April 12, 2016)
8. Charlotte, NC (April 14, 2016)
9. Phoenix, AZ (July 2016)

Price is Right

As always – we rely on community supporters to underwrite our academic educational outreach. It’s worked well and allows you to attend our event complimentary. We do require a $99 deposit where we will charge you if you are a “no show” (without proper cancellation) because we gotta pay the catering bills regardless. Hope that makes sense!

See you soon!

What’s The Half Life Of A Unicorn?

Posted by on in Analysis

Story by Simon Crosby - 

“Cybercorns” are companies that have surpassed the magical $1 billion valuation. Several of these extraordinary ventures are Okta, Sophos, Tanium, Palantir, FireEye, Splunk, Zscaler, Lookout, CloudFlare, Illumio and AVAST.

Each has attained an enviable position as a valued solution to an important set of customer security pains. The entrepreneurs who built these companies (many of which are privately held) and the investors that backed them deserve their success. But in a world where technology is changing rapidly, and in which attackers are agile and focused, which of these unicorns will survive? What is the half–life, perhaps measured by stock value, of a cybercorn?

The most profound trends in the IT landscape are, of course, the rapid adoption of cloud services and growing mobility of the workforce. All too soon, application back-end micro-services will automatically and reliably scale as needed in the cloud, accessed by users over the public Internet.

Cybercorns that have bet on a long-lived traditional IT infrastructure are already in trouble. If the user is working in Starbucks, what value is a network security product that attempts to protect an indefensible network perimeter? If your organization is adopting Office 365, when a user opens a potentially threatening attachment, it runs in a virtual machine, in Azure.

Click Here To Read More

Microsoft is now building apps for competing platforms, and it feels good about it.

Peggy Johnson is Microsoft's executive vice president of business enterprise development. She sat down with Organization Insider's Matt Rosoff at IGNITION 2015, and told us about how Microsoft decides when to buy a enterprise, and its new technique of creating apps for competing platforms.

Matt Rosoff: Peggy joined Microsoft a small bit extra than a year ago ...

Peggy Johnson: A tiny more than a year ago — a year and 3 months.

Rosoff: And at the time there was a comparatively new CEO — Satya Nadella — only Microsoft's third CEO in history and I would say in the final couple of years there is been a genuine remarkable transformation in the way Microsoft treats companies that utilized to be considered competitors. I keep in mind the old days when if it wasn't invented right here, we're not going to talk about it, and Linux is cancer and Apple is the enemy. And then in the final year and a half or so, you guys have bought a bunch of small app makers for iOS and Android, which is some thing you by no means would have carried out before. You have struck a complete bunch of partnerships, you're starting to even embrace issues like Linux, so how has this happened? And what is the philosophy there? And why is Microsoft being friendlier to other platforms now than it employed to be?

Johnson: It did start off with Satya and his vision for the firm. He's truly selected to concentrate on partnerships and appear for areas of collaboration and for confident we compete with other firms, but there are so numerous areas that we can also collaborate. So you mentioned a couple of — Salesforce is one. We have a competitive product in between the two of us. But we look for locations that truly our joint clients were involved in. And we stated, "Can we integrate right here and bring additional worth and delight our joint consumers?" So we did that with Office 365 and Salesforce. And it type of opens up a lot of new value for our buyers where they can now take these two sets of data that they are gathering from these two items, put them together, and as an enterprise sort of mind that information additional.

Rosoff: I'm specifically interested in Microsoft on the iPhone. So you purchased a Acompli and a Sunrise and integrated those into Outlook for the iPhone. I basically use that instead of the built-in mail client simply because it's much better. You purchased some corporations that do Android lock screens ... and this is fairly various than Microsoft before which was normally about Windows Telephone — Windows, Windows, Windows. So, why did you guys make the choice to start out investing a lot more heavily in iOS and Android?

Johnson: We totally recognized that our buyers have a variety of devices. They are carrying all sorts of things. And we want to bring our world class apps to these devices. And that meant going cross-platform. And it was shortly just after Satya took the reins that he made that initially choice to take Office apps to iOS. And then from there, we continued to construct on that.

You mentioned a few of our current acquisitions. Acompli is just a excellent instance of a fabulous app. And we looked at that — and we kind of do a create-get-partner with anything that we view — and that one particular just created additional sense to acquire. And we brought the app in, and because then — two terrific items have happened — 1. we acquired Javier Soltero, I never know if any of you know him, he was the CEO at Acompli, he's now performing remarkable perform at Microsoft. He's now in-charge of all of Outlook and I feel his outside perspective has been beneficial for the teams. We've have really engaged the teams deeply on his view of things. But then, what that did, was it sort of set the pace for bringing in other items. Acompli brought in Sunrise. Then Wunderlist — Wunderlist is a wonderful app. We've had, I assume now over a billion lists created on Wunderlist. And so it's just continuing to tap into points that are delighting our clients and bringing them in.

Click Here To Read More

Webinar: SMB Nation State of the Union 2016

Posted by on in News

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

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

Welcome to 2016.

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

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

349 X 115 MOD REG RND2

MSPs: Hello 2016!

Posted by on in Start-Up

Story by Harry Brelsford, CEO, SMB Nation - 

It’s that time of year to reflect, strategize and recharge to hit the ground running in early 2016. This blog is about making wise choices today that result in a better tomorrow. Specifically – it’s all about operations.

Forward Looking Statements

It’s old news that the SMB channel has changed. For the purposes of this blog, you can refer to recent posts from Techaisle (HERE  and HERE ). Even the New York Times chatted about technology disruptions in 2015 HERE  (albeit a somewhat different take, but the point is well taken). In 2015, you got the memo on the need to reinvent yourself. What follows is how.

Start Over

One step at a time. With channel changes at hand, it’s a fine opportunity to return to the basics and have a solid game plan of Xs and Os. Start with your operations workflow. The easiest way to improve your productivity is to become more efficient. So, challenge yourself to look at how your business works when you turn the key at 8AM. Are you using an enterprise-wide “backbone” to run your MSP practice? Or are you using a series of duct-taped, unrelated solutions trying to run your business? Are you using existing PSA/RMM/remote management solutions either inefficiently or overpaying for (or both?). If you answered affirmatively to any of the above scenarios, consider the following. There is a third-way: Atera. This start-up is out to disrupt how MSPs operate. This is a company that ate its own dog food in creating an all-in-one MSP backbone solution that include PSA, RMM and remote functionality at up to 40% less than current entrenched SMB channel legacy solutions. And consider the following: to argue that your customers should move core business operations to the cloud, you must do the same.

Partner Evidence

Now for the heart of this conversation. How have partners started over to accommodate the new reality of being an MSP in 2016? Read on: Atera is providing a disruptive, economic all-in-one MSP management SaaS platform that includes PSA, RMM and remote management capabilities. I spoke with one Atera partner in Tampa Bay, Florida. He is Martin Margheim, owner/operator of an independent PC consultancy (KODOT), and he is one of us. He’s a computer guy with over 25-years of experience and has deep, long-term relationships with his SMB clients. Margheim is skeptical by nature, and looking at new technologies to deploy is something he regularly does. But he truly lives by the mantra “do no harm.” I was surprised how enthusiastic he is about Atera. As a smaller partner, Margheim’s journey has taken him through every Tampa Bay-area PSA and RMM solution provider who he found to be disinterested in his business and elusive when discussing per device versus per technician pricing (Atera uses per technician pricing). “They didn’t want my business and I found all of the PSA and RMM providers want to “blue sky” you by selling you more licenses than you need.” He conveyed that it felt like a case of the gold rush mentality: that the suppliers (PSA/RMM vendors) selling shovels and shoes to gold miners (MSPs) got rich in the late 1880s, and not the gold miners themselves. “I could never get a definitive answer on costs from one Florida-based RMM provider.”

Margheim wants to be a long-term MSP using the latest tools (especially remote management) to properly serve his customers. He fancies himself a single virtual IT provider (a smart pivot by the way from, by his own admission, his own self-perception of being a dinosaur). “I think Atera has a better approach. It’s per technician pricing hooked me in the first 60-days. My SMB customers just aren’t’ going to pay $60/per month/per PC for monitoring and management. Thus, the Atera MSP platform model fits a flexible, workable and affordable solution with considerable growth opportunity. I do not subscribe to a per device business model for anything IT. The changes are just too frequent and dynamic for such a model.”
Finally, Margheim boasted about his working relationship with Atera. He is constantly providing feedback and has received return communications the same day. Margheim’s love for remote management has already resulted in several improvements in Atera’s all-in-one MSP management platform. And that’s what community is all about, baby!atera rgb1 200x52 1 200x88PS

Digging Deeper

I take my role as an independent community ombudsman seriously. So I wanted to talk to another Atera partner to validate a few of the observations Margheim shared. Manny Da Silva, an existing Atera partner, offered these facts based on his experience. “Atera’s remote software is so small, it is quick to install. In literally 30 seconds, it's up and running. Whereas with the other ones we tested, some of them took 15 to 20 minutes.” Da Silva shared. “The ticketing system is great. It literally took me 10-15 minutes to set up. The Service Level Agreement (SLA) functionality and the contract functionality, awesome. And, every time a ticket gets generated, you pick the service contract that you want. So no more guessing about what to bill the clients.”

For more on Atera, Click Here.

In future blogs, I’ll share with you my review of the Atera product, and what my experience was using it personally. Have a fantastic 2016!

 

o365wish 2By Harry Brelsford, Founder and Chairman, SMB Nation, Inc.

Hey folks, and welcome to Part Two of the Office 365 Community Wish List for 2015. I can honestly say that I was surprised by the amount of replies I received from our community on the Office 365 Wish List. Here’s the rest of the list!


  • John Benjamin, CTO, Cavu Networks
    • “1. Better access to log files for troubleshooting SharePoint services. Being able to find out more info from Correlation ID’s without requiring support would really be great. This is tough in a multi-tenant environment but it would be nice to have so i’ll add it to a wish-list.
    • 2. More options for two-factor authentication.
    • 3. The ability to rename the internal SharePoint URL after a tenant changes their company name so they show the change across the all the services. Currently, changes to the domain names which reflect a company name change can be handled in Exchange (multiple domains are easy) and Lync (requires PS but is well documented) but not for the SharePoint URL. This means the old name is reflected in any of the services which run on-top of SharePoint such as Project On-Line or Power BI.
  • Keith Bucknall Technologist / Lead Technical Architect at ERS
    • “1. additional sub tenants under a single tenant for additional ShrePiint environments.2. new features for Lync on auditing and restrict file sharing with federated partners.

 

3. 2 form factor without the need of Azure AD and only work on DirSync or ADFS.”

  • “An ability to pull back email sent if it has not been opened or accessed. I used to able to do that in GroupWise. I don’t see a similar function in Office 365 when you want make corrections to an email that was just sent. When you resend the email, the recipient user often can’t tell what the latest version is.” – Daniel Lark, Oracle DBA (ITS(Database)) at NYS Office of Information Technology Services
  • “Sort out confusion between Microsoft accounts (liveid) and Office 365 accounts, especially for Windows phone corporate users.” Simeon Lewis, Head of IT at World Society for the Protection of Animals
    • “I would like to have the ability to immediately prevent a terminated employee’s account to be inaccessible to him/her. We have found that changing passwords does not prevent a terminated employee from accessing their account from a smartphone after they have been terminated or have quit. This, to me, is a huge security vulnerability.”Marc Lighter, Senior Consultant at Infinity Business Consulting
    • “Stop tying One Drive for business to Outlook.com accounts. Add the ability to easily map One Drive for business as a network drive. Allow partners to setup E1 trials instead of E3. Stop calling customers after they have been setup assuming it has been setup by a certified partner it just causes confusion.”Jason Marrow, President, Work IT Solutions
  • Joseph Palarchio, Lead Technical Consultant at Perficient
    • “1. The ability to split a tenant’s location across geographies for clients that have compliances restrictions.2. More granular RBAC such that it’s not global admin for all services (a Roadmap item but I would like to see it implemented).

3. Support for cross-premises delegations in Exchange hybrid.

4. The ability to migrate email attachments larger than 25 MB during onboarding even if they could not be forwarded post-migration.

5. More transparency around changes which includes making sure the Roadmap is updated more consistently.”

  • “With all of the changes (positive) happening with OneDrive for Business….going from 1TB and moving towards unlimited storage, is there any chance that the same thing will happen with SharePoint – 1TB or unlimited storage in SharePoint (no additional storage costs past what they are granted initially)?Because there is better collaboration within SharePoint, we hope that is the case. Right now companies get 10GB of storage plus ½ Gigabyte for each user, then it’s $0.20/GB thereafter. In order to help companies adopt the use of SharePoint, that would help.”

Shawn Sailer, Empact IT

Thanks again, folks!

 

by Ron Miller (@ron_miller)

Adobe

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Taking The Bull By The Horns

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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