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

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Resco Mobile CRM, a Microsoft Dynamics CRM mobile client, announced it plans to support Dropbox to provide CRM users with access to Dropbox files anytime through mobile phones and tablets. Dropbox integration introduced to Resco Mobile CRM

“Last year we introduced the SharePoint integration to our mobile solution for Dynamics CRM,” said Resco.net CEO Rado Vozár. “Exactly the year after, we decided to add on to the integration with other systems. This time with Dropbox.”

CRM records stored in Dropbox will be available offline through the Resco Mobile CRM app.

Full details on the upcoming release will be available at the resco.next conference, held June 8-9 in Vienna, Austria.

Capita announced today it acquired Pervasive Ltd, a solutions provider specializing in mobility managed services, enterprise wireless networks and BYOD solutions.

Pervasive, a VAR for Aruba Networks, recently acquired by HP, has a client base across higher education, health service and local government and will serve as a part of the Capita IT Enterprise Services Technology Solutions division.

“Pervasive has a strong record of providing wireless networks to clients across multiple sectors, offering the agility to respond to changing customer requirements,” said Peter Hands, executive director of Capita IT Enterprise Services. “The addition of Pervasive further enhances the range of services offered by our Technology Solutions division, which already offers clients expertise in information security, networking, unified communications, cabling and data management.”    

Pervasive will become a fifth specialist business unit, focused on mobility while boosting capability within storage, compute and security obtained through Capita’s acquisition of Solid State Solutions and Network Technology Solutions.

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We are pleased to announce today we are working with Microsoft and Windows10Update.com to conduct a pilot preview tour in five U.S. cities during June 2015.

Join us on this webinar as we describe the tour, the Windows 10 opportunity, and answer all your questions.
Please register for An Exclusive Look at Windows 10 May 28, 2015 at 10 a.m. PDT at
https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/1560273337275271169

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.

We want to emphasize the INDEPENDENT nature of this learning opportunity. As an outsider looking in, we will take you behind the curtain, allowing you to discover the “real” Windows 10 in advance of everyone else. Attendance is limited to 50 qualified participants, so sign up immediately!

SIGN-UP FOR THE TOUR HERE: http://www.windows10update.com/welcome-to-the-windows-10-behind-the-curtain-event-series/
Sponsored by Microsoft, these events are FREE and will be held at Microsoft locations in New York City, Los Angeles, Fort Lauderdale, Redmond and Austin.

Who should attend?
•    Managed Service Providers (MSPs)
•    Partners
•    Consultants
•    IT Pros

What will you discover?
The content is primarily technical in nature. As a BONUS, you will participate in a focus group exercise that will help shape Microsoft’s Windows 10 strategy. This is a rare opportunity to influence a product as a real-world professional.
We will cover the following:
•    Intro to Windows 10 and a Full Overview
•    New Features in Windows 10
•    The Windows 10 Mobile Story
•    The Windows 10 Developer Story
•    Windows 10 Security
•    Universal Applications
•    Cortana
•    Microsoft Edge
•    Continuum for Phones
•    Windows 10 and Office 365 – Success Together
•    Windows 10 for the Internet of Things
•    Deploying Windows 10
and much more…

You will enjoy learning from our expert trainer, Onuora Amobi, the editor at Windows10update.com.

Where are the events?
Click on the city closest to you to learn more:
•    New York City, New York – June 2, 2015
•    Los Angeles, California – June 9, 2015
•    Fort Lauderdale, Florida – June 23, 2015
•    Redmond, Washington (info coming soon)
•    Austin, Texas (info coming soon)

SIGN UP FOR THE TOUR HERE: http://www.windows10update.com/welcome-to-the-windows-10-behind-the-curtain-event-series/

By Marilyn Carr, sponsored by Ingram Micro and Microsoft

The Evolution of IT Services

IT consulting and integration services and custom application development are core revenue components for most solution providers. Unless they were born in the cloud, IT consultants usually add cloud-related technology and services to their portfolios rather than do a wholesale replacement of their traditional services. This is also in line with the reality that most cloud implementations live in an environment where there is a mix of on-premise, hosted, and IaaS, PaaS, or SaaS technologies.

This IDC Market Spotlight provides some key insights based on IDC's discussions with solution IDCproviders that have built successful cloud revenue streams and have IT services as an important part of their business model. These insights are not intended to be silver bullets but rather points to ponder as you consider the cloud strategy that will work best for your unique business and circumstances.

Strategies for IT Services in the Cloud

There are several ways in which IT consulting and managed services can adapt to take advantage of cloud business opportunities, and there is no doubt that opportunity abounds. In the sections that follow, we describe some of the approaches that solution providers report have been successful.

Be a Cloud Adviser

The cloud has reached a level of maturity where more and more business applications and functions can be comfortably transitioned. But not every aspect of a customer's computing environment is necessarily ready for an optimal deployment in the cloud. For many customers, simply keeping up with the number and nature of cloud options available to them is overwhelming. Solution providers are in a unique position to help customers understand how they may benefit from transitioning their applications or infrastructure to the cloud as well as take advantage of net-new functionality that only the cloud can provide.

Solution providers can play a key role in explaining cloud opportunities and challenges, and translating the technology industry's jargon and buzzwords into business terms that customers understand, perhaps in the form of an initial consulting engagement to develop a strategy for the cloud based on the customer's existing infrastructure and capabilities. One approach is to focus on the near-term ROI and savings benefit of the cloud while also helping map out a long-term strategy to transform and modernize a customer's overall technology position. As one solution provider explained:

"Clients rely on us not only to position the cloud architecture but to validate that it's going to work as described. We have a lot of due diligence to do in making sure that all the failover mechanisms are there and that we account for every possible scenario."

Whether or not you can charge for these initial types of cloud advisory engagements is a key question. Some solution providers can charge a fee, while others assign the cost to the presales effort, knowing the potential value of a long-term recurring revenue customer.

Focus on Iterative Consulting

IDC believes the days of the large, monolithic IT consulting and integration project are numbered, if not already gone. The emergence of cloud and other rapid deployment technologies, coupled with the economic downturn that permanently squeezed budgets, means that most organizations do not have the capacity for or interest in taking on enormous projects. Also consider that line-of-business managers are playing a much larger role in IT investments, and their return-on-technology lens is measured in weeks and not months or years.

Many solution providers are adapting to this changing reality by designing their integrations to be more agile and iterative, delivering smaller "modules" of consulting, which show immediate results, and then moving on to the next logical steps. This gives customers control over project timing and costs and allows them to see the benefit of the first phase before committing to the next phase. IDC has found that in the long term, solution providers can make the same amount of revenue over the lifetime of a customer while defining and executing consulting projects in smaller chunks.

In many cases, cloud solutions serve as the perfect door opener for these deeper engagements because of the ability to start small and build out from there. The ongoing nature of this process, resulting in a number of smaller successful implementations along the way, can lead to a tighter, higher-satisfaction relationship with the customer and uncover a continuous string of opportunities.

Shift the Needle Toward Integration

The very nature of cloud-based and SaaS applications means they are up and running very rapidly and solution providers typically do not need to spend as much time modifying and configuring them. This gives IT consultants an opportunity to focus on higher-value services that ensure a customer's applications work together and communicate efficiently and places integrators in a very favorable position.

Ensuring good communications, and seamless data management, among disparate applications is a top priority for most businesses, and this includes integrations between existing on-premise applications, legacy on-premise applications that are being moved to the cloud, and new cloud-based applications that are introduced into the environment. IDC sees the role of integrating applications, and deciding which applications make sense in which delivery models, taking on greater prominence for many IT consultants and integrators. The requirement for integration also elevates the importance of technical architecture because combining cloud with on-premise solutions may involve heterogeneous technologies.

Be Your Customer's IT Department

While one approach to the cloud is to differentiate yourself by focusing on an industry or a specific business process, another is to stick to providing exceptional IT-focused solutions with a high service level for the right price. Some partners nickname their approach "IT department as a service."

There is a wide continuum of IT support services a solution provider can offer, from fielding ad hoc help desk calls to proactive maintenance and everything in between. Although it has always been a good business model, providing a comprehensive outsourced IT management and support service makes even more sense with the cloud. That's because cloud-based outsourcing involves much less capital investment from and lower operating costs for solution providers than on-premise outsourcing. Solution providers that adopt a cloud-based approach can replace declining or disappearing installation and configuration revenue with SaaS and IaaS solutions.

Many solution providers are already recognizing the potential in building out managed services capabilities. However, that doesn't mean it is too late and that the field will be too crowded to make an impact. There are a number of different approaches and tactics that provide lots of room for differentiation, from providing remote monitoring and management of the client's environment to providing outsourced help desk support, including the configuration and ongoing maintenance (moves, adds, changes, etc.) of applications. As two solution providers noted:

"First, it was cost beneficial to move the customer's business continuity services to the cloud. It is sort of a precursor. Now we're in the process of moving their phone systems to the cloud. This year and next, a lot of our focus is trying to move infrastructure."

"Managed services for us is managing all aspects of an organization's IT infrastructure, whether it be their help desk, their email, their servers, or anything else related to IT. We also offer a service where our president or our vice president becomes their virtual CIO. We help with the customer's vendors and contract relations. We don't make the decisions for them, but we're their adviser if they have any questions."

Managed correctly, this type of relationship can be greatly beneficial in terms of the ability to build long-term relationships with customers that can be continually expanded into new dimensions. In the words of one solution provider:

"One thing about being the IT department is it's a lot easier to go to the customer and say, 'You have to do this project.' In the old model, we had to sell them on it. Now, they know what's going on. They understand. We're a main department in the company. We're telling the other departments, 'If you want to keep growing, you have to do this project.'"

Leverage Remote Delivery

More and more solution providers are figuring out how to execute remote delivery of their IT services, because the less they have to be onsite with the customer, the less expensive it is to deliver the service. Senior engineers can provide oversight for several projects simultaneously rather than being tied up for months on end at a single client. This promotes scalability and also provides a training opportunity for new staff. As two solution providers said:

"The cloud reduces our support costs — which is our No.1 cost — while giving our clients better technology. We can be more remote and mobile while we're providing a higher level of service to our clients. That's from our business perspective. The customer also wins because they get better uptime, scalability, and mobility."

"It's shifted our business model quite dramatically in how our engineers are able to support our clients because we are able to do far more remotely."

For one, staff costs can go down by spreading out the higher-paid technical architects across more clients and using more cost-effective resources to execute on the bulk of the work. In addition, solution providers that are effectively using automation to increase their efficiency can improve their gross profit margins.

A center of excellence "remote delivery center" can be used to cover many different geographies without incurring travel costs. Cloud helps enable highly repeatable engagements, which is key to profitability. Many solution providers are using Microsoft Intune as a key tool in the transition to managed services and remote delivery. The virtually centralized approach also makes it possible to optimize staffing levels and train younger talent on specific repeatable tasks. Plan remote delivery methods with lots of leverage in mind, and plan for exactly how staff will be mentored to perform well in the high-leverage model.

Standardize Your Offerings and Pricing

Many solution providers are becoming proficient at creating and selling ongoing services that fit the recurring revenue model. These services were often previously sold on a one-off or transaction basis. The most obvious examples are around support relationships where a solution provider offers a bundle of support hours for a particular customer for a discounted rate every month. A prepurchase of a bank of monthly hours establishes a commitment to spend a certain amount as well as gives the customer peace of mind that someone will be available when it has a need. A similar scenario that's growing in popularity is for ad hoc professional services or even application development services. These services could help with security or Microsoft SharePoint administration or with workflow design and development. The customer benefits by securing its favorite systems engineer or developer, while the solution provider benefits from a profitable, ongoing revenue stream.

Successful solution providers report that one key to success is the ability to offer a menu of prepackaged offerings that can adapt to various client needs, from a basic level that allows metered consumption of support to a "gold plated," all-encompassing outsourcing and support service. Solution providers pursuing this model engage customers on a subscription or retainer basis to provide both proactive and responsive support for the client's entire IT infrastructure.

Fixed-price services are a great way to go as customers feel better about signing up to a scope and a price that are set. You just have to make sure the scope is clear and all of your underlying costs are known and stable. You also have to prepare for some customers that may not be a good fit for your offering and even politely decline their business and move on to those that are a better fit.

If a customer is going to say "no" in the end, it's better to get to that realization sooner than later. As one solution provider explained:

"We are now doing more and more fixed-price engagements all around SharePoint. Much more off the shelf, much more 'cloud' in its kind of style — its sales style and provisioning. What we do is what we do. We do it really well. And if that doesn't suit you, that's fine."

There is still lots of room for time and materials project work within the context of a cloud/recurring revenue business model. That's because customers will often need strategy advice, process redesign, or migration planning and mitigation. However, if you want to stay true to the business model, you might have to walk away from one-off project work for companies that are not currently annuity customers to avoid reverting to "peak and valley" revenue.

Essential Guidance

A change as significant as cloud always brings a need for readjustment or even reinvention of the way you do business. In terms of IT services, many things can change.

Cloud is prompting a move from extremely customized services to packaged IT service offerings. But don't confuse this with undifferentiated services. It is important to design the services "menu" with a view toward how it will provide both customer value and competitive advantage.

Consultant roles and staffing will need to evolve. In many cases, senior staff will need to interact more with line-of-business staff and have more true "consultative" conversations in the course of delivering services. They will also need to spend more time managing and mentoring highly leveraged delivery resources.

The nature of managed services will change with cloud, but traditional activities are quite compatible with cloud and may in fact be a catalyst. Managed service providers (MSPs) understand ongoing support and recurring revenue, so they will fit into cloud more easily than other types of companies.

However, MSPs should embrace cloud and not worry about how it may cannibalize existing services.

The time is almost upon us: Microsoft will end support and cease to issue security updates for any version of Windows Server 2003 July 14.

The Register will host a how-to webcast June 12 at 11 a.m. BST on coping with and preparing for Windows Server 2003 EoS in anticipation of July 14.

Tony Lock, Freeform Dynamics distinguished analyst, will show viewers where Windows Server 2003s are hiding, and James Walker, Trend Micro solutions consultant, will describe the difficulties of continuing to use Windows Server 2003 and how to create an action plan.

The webinar will also include The Register’s step-by-step practical guide to surviving Windows Server 2003 EoS.

More information and a link to registration are available here. Those who sign up but can't attend will recieve a link via email to view the webcast.

Relayware, a SaaS-based provider of Partnering Automation software, announced earlier this week the addition of the one-millionth partner on its Partner Cloud. It attributed much of its success and recent growth to international expansion and demand from VC-backed SaaS companies.Relayware

Relayware works to extend market reach and accelerate revenue growth without increasing customer acquisition costs.

“The nexus of cloud computing, big data analytics, collaborative working and mobile applications is redefining how companies recruit, enable and motivate their channel partners,” Bob Mann, Chairman and CEO of Relayware, said. “For larger enterprises with established partner programs, it’s enabling them to automate channel marketing, sales, training and operational processes, so they can be more strategic with partners. But what’s really exciting is the recent wave of young, VC-backed SaaS companies that are turning to Relayware as the foundation for their new partner programs that they’re building to scale quickly and drive exponential growth.”

Relayware has doubled its customer base and experienced a 30 percent underlying growth in monthly recurring revenue in the past year. It estimates the indirect channel market is worth $800 million, and expects expansion into manufacturing, energy and telecommunications and increased use of indirect distribution channels to increase market worth to more than $3 billion by 2020.

StreamLink Software, a board and grant management SaaS technology provider, announced today a partnership with nonprofit consulting firm Xanegy as a value-added reseller.

"Xanegy has a history of success selling purpose-built, cloud-based technologies to nonprofits, Native American tribes and government institutions," StreamLink Software CEO Adam Roth said. "Its connections and experience are a welcome addition, as we look to provide transparency and accountability to fund recipients through (StreamLink) AmpliFund."  

AmpliFund, StreamLink Software’s cloud-based grant management solution, provides nonprofit and government agencies with a central hub to track grant dollars and the grant lifecycle.

StreamLink Software said it intends to continue to grow its partner program for grant and board management products and expand into new markets.

Zendesk Releases Q1 Benchmark Report

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Zendesk announced today the release of the Q1 2015 Zendesk Benchmark report, which explores the rise and importance of live chat for customer service. Zendesk Logo

Included in Zendesk’s discussion of live chat are metrics, staffing considerations, quality and customer engagement.

Customer satisfaction globally rose to 95 percent, with significant gains in Colombia, the Philippines and Indonesia. For a third quarter, New Zealand and Belgium are the top two customer satisfaction leaders.

The Benchmark is based on actual customer service and support interactions from more than 25,000 organizations worldwide that chose to contribute. The full report is available for download here.

RapidFire Tools Inc., a provider of non-invasive IT assessment tools, announced today it was recognized at two events serving the MSP and SMB marketplace in April.

RapidFire Tools earned “Best Revenue Model” at the SMB Tech Fest conference and “Best IT Workshop” at The ASCII Group’s Success Summit event in Dallas, marking its third and fourth conference awards.

“The use of our tools helps support MSPs, positioning them as trusted authorities whose IT skills surpass those of the end-user’s current provider by consistently identifying network vulnerabilities,” CEO Mike Mittel said. “This tactic opens the door to new business, creating incremental revenue streams for MSPs and growing their customer bases. We’re honored to see this strategy acknowledged by our partners at not just one conference, but at a growing list of industry events.”

RapidFire Tools is scheduled to exhibit and present “Leveraging Network Assessment to Gain New Customers” at the Autotask Community Live! event and the Chicago ASCII Group Success Summit.

eFolder Announces Partnership with Replibit

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eFolder logo transparentbackground

eFolder, a provider of business continuity and cloud file sync solutions, announced today at the Autotask Community Live 2015 tradeshow a partnership with Replibit and availability of eFolder BDR for Replibit, which bundles Replibit software and the eFolder cloud.

The combined solution is an image-based backup and disaster recovery service that routinely captures server backups and replicates the images to the eFolder cloud to provide fast local or offsite recovery.

“eFolder is proud to announce a service that combines Replibit’s chain-free backup and deep backup verification technology with generous amounts of cloud storage, our silent data corruption protection technology, and powerful cloud recovery capabilities,” says Kevin Hoffman, CEO of eFolder. “These combined features uniquely empower channel partners to deliver high assurance, low labor business continuity services for SMB Windows environments.”

eFolder BDR for Replibit is built on a Linux Ubuntu hardened kernel and designed to work in all SMB deployment scenarios.

Axcient Announces New Cloud Offering

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DRaaS provider Axcient announced today availability of Direct to Cloud, an offering designed to enable organizations to replicate physical and virtual servers to the cloud without local appliances.

The solution allows customers to create and store full system snapshots in the cloud and launch virtual replicas in Axcient Business Recovery Cloud.

“Direct to Cloud fills a major gap in the market. No other vendor offers the same end-to-end protection for laptops, desktops and servers across physical and virtual environments,” Axcient CEO Justin Moore, said. “Our customers and partners have been asking us to bring our leading Disaster Recovery-as-a-Service solution to endpoints so that they can do away with legacy online backup products and we decided to take it a step further and make an appliance-less version of our platform for servers. Businesses of all sizes can now have enterprise level replication and resiliency for all of their systems at a tenth of the cost of building a replicated datacenter.”

Direct to Cloud, an integrated cloud solution, empowers organizations to consolidate endpoint and server disaster protection with features including unlimited storage, point-in-time recovery and configurable replication interval and retention.

IDC MarketScape Report Names IBM as Leader

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IBM announced yesterday IBM Global Business Services was named a leader in the IDC MarketScape Worldwide Digital Transformation Consulting and System Integration Services 2015 Vendor Assessment.IBM logo1

IDC MarketScape found IBM’s greatest strengths were in future business and offering strategy, and IBM was rated highly in analysis and buyer perceptions for its capability to meet digital transformation project timelines.

"Industries and companies are being radically disrupted by the forces of digital transformation, and the pace of change is greater than any other time in history," said Paul Papas, Global Leader, IBM Interactive Experience. "IBM combines big data and analytics, industry consulting and world-class design to help our clients take an experience driven approach to digital transformation. At IBM, digital is in our DNA, and we are thrilled to be recognized by IDC as a leader for our unmatched digital transformation capabilities."

The IDC MarketScape study evaluated vendors across myriad success factors, including the ability to achieve desired business outcomes and deliver innovation that produces results. 

AppRiver Announces Advanced Security for O365

AppRiver, LLC, an email and web security solution provider, announced it has built services designed to seamlessly integrate with Office 365 and provide enterprise-strength security without sacrificing cloud flexibility and productivity.

Its available layered security options SecureTide Spam and Virus Protection, CipherPost Pro Email Encryption and SecureSurf Web Protection.

“SecureSurf is updated thousands of times a day using global threat intelligence and real-time dynamic malware analysis,” explains Troy Gill, manager of security research, AppRiver.  “It also provides immediate notification of advanced persistent threat activity so that network administrators can locate and quickly remediate affected endpoints.”  

SecureSurf can stand alone, work with AppRiver messaging products and wrap around O365.

o365 logoJoin us for this impactful and informative quarterly briefing hosted by Office 365 Nation (O365nation) that delivers specific news you can use to keep abreast of the Office 365 platform. This webinar is for MSPs, Consultants and Partners.

You will:

  • Hear the latest Office 365 numbers
  • Discover the latest Office 365 chatter and gossip (layoffs in July at MSFT?)
  • Why is Office 365 emerging as a platform
  • Who are the Top 25 Office 365 Influencers in the World and why you should care?
  • Who are the latest ISVs to build Office 365-specific solutions?
  • Question and Answer session


Hosted by O365nation founder Harry Brelsford and includes special guests including one big surprise.

Sign up: http://www.smbnation.com/webinars

01655 US Global Trustmark Banner Ad 220x150By Miles Jobgen, Director of Trustmark Programs for CompTIA

As one of the most recognizable credentials, or “marks,” in North America, the Better Business Bureau logo gives an organization instant credibility and provides a sense of security to current and prospective customers. Its holders have made a commitment to uphold certain standards relating to their transaction processes, professional relationships and community standing. Most of all, a BBB logo instills trust.

Business credentials can be particularly valuable to those in the IT services area, where a solid reputation is often the biggest differentiator when you’re prospecting new clients or developing key industry relationships. The logo or mark of acknowledgement you receive from a respected association can truly improve your company’s standing. Those who receive business credentials must meet certain standards and industry-specific criteria, so the designation can give instant credibility to a holder’s capabilities.

Intermedia, a channel-focused cloud provider, continues to experience success in both its partner program and expand resources for industry professionals.

Oak Hill Capital acquired Intermedia four years ago, and, since its acquisition, Intermedia has seen a 101 percent increase in active partners to more than 5,500 and a 173 percent increase in customers landed via partners.

Intermedia also announced May 6 the release of eBook Harpooning Executives: How Phishing Evolved into the C-Suite, written jointly by Intermedia and Intel Security.

The new eBook highlights increased phishing targeting high-profile targets and includes a three-pronged security approach to protect businesses and assets.

abhijitAbhijit Chatterjee, CEO and CIO of ABHI Technologies in New Delhi, India, recently contacted us with some exciting news. He has been confirmed as the winner on the IDG Premier 100 IT Award List.

Many of you may remember meeting Abhijit at our 2013 Spring Conference, held at the Microsoft Convention Center in Redmond, where he was an attendee. He has over 15 years of experience in owning his own IT Practice.

To connect with Abhijit on LinkedIn, visit his profile here.

Many congratulations to Abhijit! If you have community news, feel free to share it with us!

Vorex, Inc., a cloud-based business management solution provider serving SMBs, launched today multi-currency support for more than 100 countries, allowing international companies to complete billing and financial transactions in their native currency through Vorex’s online business management program.

“Our global customers count on Vorex to simplify and automate all of their daily operational tasks so they can get back to focusing on growing their businesses,” Vorex CEO and founder Mike Salem said. “We are excited to launch this new multi-currency capability, so our customers all over the world can conduct business in their native or desired currency, further streamlining operations. This is just one step of many more to come in our international expansion.”

The multi-currency capability is straightforward to navigate, requiring only a change of currency preference in settings for international companies to use their desired form of currency instantly.

Vorex’s all-in-one business management platform, designed to streamline operations, combines features such as project management, CRM, time and expense tracking, HR and finance.

Unitrends Releases Public Beta of Unitrends Free

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Enterprise-level cloud recovery provider Unitrends released yesterday a public beta version of a market-changing edition of its data protection software: Unitrends Free.

Unitrends Free is a free backup solution designed for IT professionals seeking cost-effective protection for SMBs and other small environments.Unitrends logo

“Unitrends Free couples enterprise-class capabilities not found in other free tools with refreshingly uncomplicated navigation and performance monitoring capabilities. We are pleased to offer individuals and organizations with smaller environments or limited budgets the high-caliber data protection they too deserve,” CEO Kevin Weiss said. “With the Unitrends Community rallying behind the product, fellow users can also tap each other’s expertise and experiences to get the most out of Unitrends Free virtual backup and recovery.”

Features in Unitrends Free include hypervisor-level protection for up to 1TB of data, instant VM recovery, automated daily scheduling and cloud integration.

The software, and an opportunity to enter a Unitrends sweepstakes, is available here.

IBM Aims to Accelerate Hybrid Cloud Computing

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IBM logo1IBM announced yesterday additional servers and storage software and solutions designed for cloud computing in hybrid cloud environments.

Increased adoption of the hybrid cloud by businesses brings new waves of data that complicate moving around computing workloads, requiring new software and solutions to help clients navigate between on-premises data centers and public and private clouds.

"IBM hybrid cloud solutions are built for the enterprise and clients are using them to help enable new business models to drive growth," said Don Boulia, Vice President of Cloud Services, IBM Systems. "Hybrid cloud computing requires new levels of openness, dynamic data management, integration, automation and scalable performance in server, storage and software technologies. IBM brings all of these technologies together from on-premises data centers and inside public and private clouds to more efficiently manage traditional computing with new mobile, big data and social computing workloads."

IBM’s new products and innovations include the IBM Power System E850, IBM Power System E880, IBM PurePower System, IBM Spectrum Control Storage Insights, IBM XIV GEN 3, Big Storage Technology and Rocket’s mainframe data access service on Bluemix.

In June, IBM’s self-service portal for clients to scale their infrastructure and software license footprint for hybrid deployments in minutes using PureApplication Service will be available.

More information about new IBM software and solutions is available here.

Tagged in: cloud Hybrid IBM

AlienVault, a crowd-sourced threat intelligence and Unified Security Management provider, announced today collaboration with Intel Security in which Intel Security will integrate AlienVault Open Threat Exchange and the two companies will share real-time, actionable threat data.

"Intel Security is committed to industry collaborations which will help provide critical threat intelligence and better protection to our customers. Working with AlienVault will enable us to exchange threat data and enhance the level of customer protection delivered via McAfee's Global Threat Intelligence system," said David Coffey, vice president for GTI, McAfee Labs, part of Intel Security.

AlienVault OTX supports 26,000 participants globally with more than 1 million threat indicators daily, and the Intel Security GTI cloud provides active protection to more than 6 million customers in myriad customer deployments.

AlienVault suggested an increasingly complex threat landscape requires robust cybersecurity measures and more collaborative sharing of threat data.

Ray Vrabel HeadshotBy Raymond Vrabel, Director, Technical Account Management, Continuum Managed IT Services

The fourth installment of a new 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 last month’s installment of, “Better Call an MSP,” I discussed how to manage potentially non-profitable clients. This month, I discuss concerns that I have recently been hearing within our industry on how telecommunications companies (or telecoms) are being deemed a threat to solution providers. Frankly, it has been my experience that MSPs do not need to feel threatened by telecoms, and if there is talk that telecoms are set to move into the managed services game, it won’t be for some time. Further, if this shift does gradually happen, there are ways that MSPs and telecoms can work together, rather than against each other. Check out some of the questions I have posed below that may help to ease concerns and generate potential opportunity.

Microsoft Channel Chief Phil Sorgen will join the monthly IAMCP Seattle chapter meeting this May as he details how Microsoft can uniquely accelerate its partners’ momentum and profitability in the cloud.

The meeting will be held from 8-9 a.m. May 21 at the Microsoft Civica building, and is open to IAMCP members and non-members. A question and answer period will be held after Sorgen’s presentation.

Those interested in attending should register here.

Azure announced last week additional networking features, making Azure a more powerful networking tool that allows users to design network topologies with more control and agility.Microsoft Azure

New capabilities include an ExpressRoute premium offering, ExpressRoute support for Office 365 and Skype for Business Enterprise Voice, a Standard VPN gateway with S2S VPN Connectivity, and virtual network enhancements including user defined routes.

ExpressRoute: The ExpressRoute premium add-on supports up to 10,000 routes to seamlessly connect to large global enterprise networks, and ExpressRoute and ExpressRoute premium will both support connectivity to Microsoft Cloud services, including O365 and Skype.

VPN gateway: The new standard VPN gateway will enable new connectivity scenarios, and Azure will now have a variety of VPN gateways available.

Virtual Network Enhancements: According to Azure, it continues to enhance the Azure Virtual Network with features including user defined routes, which give Azure users complete control over the traffic flow in their virtual networks.

Virtual Appliance Partners: A10, Cisco, Fortinet and NGINX joined the Azure Network Virtual Appliance ecosystem.

Azure DNS: This new service, which uses anycast networking, hosts DNS domains and provides name resolution using Microsoft’s global infrastructure.

Networking Support: Azure Resource Manager now supports composition of complex networking infrastructures through simple JSON templates.

More information about Azure’s newest features is available here.

By Patrick Houston, long-time industry leader and founder of Media Architects

Who’d have thunk it? Not me. Or not until Harry and I had a recent conversation with Blackberry’s David Moellenkamp.BBRY2674 Cloud Blog Banner

Remember the days when every blockbuster business or government movie character clicked away on a BlackBerry keyboard? Gone. And for a time everything at the Waterloo, Canada, company seemed to go from bad to worse. Its every attempt to reverse its slide — never mind regaining its stature — seemed tone deaf to its customer base, never more symptomatic than its ill-begotten launch of the Playbook tablet.

Even BlackBerry itself admitted to very crux of its challenge in what actually became a prize-winning PR campaign built around the slogan a “From Relic to Relevant.” Relic is right. Like so many others, I figured the company was headed the way of those ghosts of business history like Digital Equipment, Palm and Kodak.

But then we talked to Moellenkamp. Ever since John Chen came aboard as CEO last year, BlackBerry has been showing glimmering signs of a comeback. Here’s mainly why: It’s actively and publicly dispelling any lingering delusions it has of being a leading smartphone maker. Self-awareness is, after all, the first step. Instead, it’s embracing its consummate natural strength as a provider of secure communications services (Stick to your knitting!).

By way of introduction, Moellenkamp is BlackBerry’s executive director of Enterprise Solutions Development, one of its four key operating units. A Devices group is still one, but it’s outweighed by three others, all revolving around enterprise software services. Across the board, the company’s moves are being dictated, Moellenkamp said, by BlackBerry’s newfound focus on its core strengths of security, productivity, communication, and collaboration for business.

But those are just words. The real issue: Can Blackberry execute on them? But Moellenkamp offers us a few dots. And if its audience can connect with them, well, it just might be on the verge of becoming a player yet again:

Consider just three:

  • BlackBerry is moving to the cloud. The company has a gem in its mobile-device-management platform, BES12. I have no idea what its name has to do with product. I do have an idea — a good one — that BES12 is a gem. Businesses, especially in highly-regulated sectors like healthcare, remain consummately concerned about data security, and it doesn’t take a genius to understand what vulnerabilities mobile devices present. Moving it to the cloud promises to make the EMM-platform promises that much better. It’ll make it accessible and affordable faster to more companies, especially small-to-medium-sized ones. And to make it more accessible to a wider swath of businesses, it’s going to have to be easier to use. BlackBerry says it is, but we’ll have to see because, after all, like beauty, ease-of-use in is the eye of the beholder.
  • BlackBerry is playing in the Internet of Things. Get this: Secure BlackBerry software powers embedded computer chips in cars, factories, and medical devices. Who knew? The company has data centers around the world transacting 35 petabytes of mobile data a month. It handles peer-to-peer connections with 700 mobile and partner networks. As more things connect to more other things, security will become an exponential concern. Yep, you’ve got it. BlackBerry has a big ace of spades in its hand.
  • BlackBerry is acquiring more advanced security technologies. In April, it bought an Israeli company called WatchDox. Even though endpoint security has become all the rage, WatchDox adds a smart, new precaution to the mix: It embeds security into the document itself, allowing it to “travel” with the file no matter where it goes. You can protect, share, and work with it on any device. You can see where it is at any moment. You can control who can edit, copy, print, and forward. Most of all, you can revoke access or delete a file remotely. And by the way, as a company name, WatchDox, I get. Dox, doc, dog, nice.

BlackBerry just reported its second consecutive profitable quarter, and its customer loyalty scores have spiked. It was named the biggest gainer in an annual ranking of 220 big brands, released in March.

It’s too early to declare a comeback. According to reports as recently as May 5, CEO Chen was opining the challenge of convincing his own employees that BlackBerry isn’t a smartphone company anymore. (Hey, disbelievers, have you been hibernating? Apple, Samsung, Google, and Microsoft have won that battle. But take warm comfort. You’re in good company. Nokia, Ericsson, HTC, and Sony are also-rans too.)

Nevertheless, the glimmers are bright enough to suggest that BlackBerry shouldn’t be written off as a has-been — and should be considered as channel partner that can add a suite of secure business software services to your portfolio.