SMB Nation Blog

SMB Nation has been serving the Bainbridge Island area since 2001, providing IT Support such as technical helpdesk support, computer support, and consulting to small and medium-sized businesses.

Analysis: How Seattle became “Cloud City”

 Seattle is a great investment! Why? Because this city consistently reinvents itself. Follow the dots: timber to gold to aerospace to tech to cloud. I’ve enjoyed living here nearly 30 years and confirm that every time I land after a trip, realizing I’m home!
 
So what is Seattle’s secret sauce in becoming Cloud City? I’d offer competition. Both AWS and Azure were invented here. Hell even competitors like Google are now moving north to drink the water. I have a question for you before we discuss
 
the Seattle Time’s analysis.  Would you like a fall collaborative, Azure Nation, where we meet in Seattle for a multi-day event and discover what Azure is and is not. Would you like to see a shoot-out between Azure and AWS? Please join the conversation on our Facebook page so I can crowd source your interest level.
 
The Seattle Time’s article is an overview of the cloud computing sector and the customers (such as Boeing) that use cloud services. One takeaway is that Jeff Bzos, CEO of Amazon, proclaims “We got a seven-year runway. That’s almost unheard of. For years, we were kind of left alone.” True that but I’d offer he shouldn’t give up his day job as Microsoft is roaring back big time. And you know how Microsoft likes to start late and dominate even later.
 
Read the article here
 
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December is Migration Month!

Looking for a year-ender what will give you an edge on annual earnings? Consider migrations in December. There are a couple of important reasons for this.

Use it or lose it. There is a reality with your mid-sized companies on a calendar fiscal year that they need to spend baby spend in December or lose the mula. This is especially true in your government accounts but they tend to be on a non-calendar fiscal year. You get the point – call your fav “M” client today and secure the funds to complete any migrations to Office 365.

Downtime is migration time. When I was a day-to-day consultant, I likened the traditional December holiday season to a quiet time where I could actually get some real work done. From December 15 – early January was also an IT consultants dream to perform technology surgery at client sites. Heed the call to migrate your customers between Thanksgiving and New Years. Happy customer; happy life.

So what are your next steps. Download the “Enterprise PST Migration to Microsoft Office 365“ informative white paper here.

download

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Helped Needed - Small Business Server (SBS) Licensing

Hey Harry,    

We are an old but always evolving  IT provider...who has been involved with SBS since the NT 3.5 beta version...so I’m pretty sure I know the product..     We need you to drop some (not even that old) knowledge on our friends in Redmond ! J I’m betting I’m not the only old reseller getting hit with this silly scenario.

Many of our small business clients are finally (after being under the radar for 30 years) being subjected to a friendly, Microsoft License Verification Process.     This doesn’t really scare us too much...because we’ve always required compliance from our clients...

however, the Microsoft folks working with us on this process seem entirely baffled by the SBS 2011 licensing model!?   They are saying our client has a short fall....they say the SBS 2011 Std product came with 5 Device CALS, so we are short User CALS..

Here’s one example: (we never use device CALS by the way)

Client has 12 people, we have them buy SBS2011 Std (with 5) , and 7 more user CALS = 12 ...right?

Product Description                                          Product Number  Version and Copies

WinSBCALSte 2011 SNGL OLP NL   UsrCAL           6UA-03863 (7-copies)

WinSBSvrStd 2011 SNGL OLP NL  5Clt                  T72-02925 (1 copy)

Nope, Microsoft license verification guy says that’s 5 device CALS and 7 user...so they are short 5. MS Open sales, blank look. MS Open Lic department’s answer? “MS SBS 2011 was only available in retail, and therefore improperly skewed by techdata/cdw on this agreement” Wha? Is the corporate memory loss?

Can you help a crusty old IT guy?

Thanks,

Jim Denison

Seattle Micro Inc.

 

Jim

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To help Jim - please post up to the SMB Nation Facebook page here!

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Get Social: Chocolate-covered Bacon


Old school SMB Nation fans remember our love and affection for BACON! Who can forget our “Save Your Bacon” campaign back in the day promoting StorageCraft? (Remember the bacon bit muffins at SMB Nation Spring?) So


when I attended Simply Measured’s LIFT – Social conference in Seattle last week, I was instantly at home when liftsocialChocolate-covered bacon was on the afternoon snack cart.


But this isn’t a foodie review, rather it’s a look at social media analytics. The context is this. If you are reading this blog and seeking to “start-up” a technology business with legs, I’d offer the world of social media and the use of analytics in this Market 2.0 era demands your consideration.

LIFT Social is an ongoing annual conference sponsored by Simply Measured, an analytics ISV in the social media space. Basically it is in the business of providing tools to measure the impact of social media campaigns businesses might execute. For example, Trek was there talking about the use of the analytical tools to measure success in building the Trek bicycle brand using numerous social media tactics such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc.


First a few takeaways from the conference and then a few observations.


Engagement is not revenue. Towards the end of the conference, I don’t know if I heard a dirty little secret in the social media space or if the speakers were being completely transparent. Loosely translated, the number of likes (Facebook), friends (Facebook), followers (Twitter) and connections (LinkedIn) doesn’t mean jack snitz when it comes to revenue. I’ve always suspected this. Social media is good for brand building but it’s not transactional by its nature. I’ve seen this in several ways. First is our beloved Karl Palachuk of MSP books fame in the SMB space. Karl has worked very hard to build his brand and hit the 5,000 friend limit for a Facebook personal page. And his brand building has resulted in overall success for his book sales. However, if engagement had a direct correlation to revenue, he’d be a billionaire and I’d be shining his shoes. Another example is how I’ll nudge people to attend our weekly webinar. When I post into an Office 365 LinkedIn group with over 90,000 members about a relevant webinar coming up soon, I’ll pull anywhere from zero to a couple new attendees. Several speakers at LIFT Social shared similar disappointments. Such is the state of the Social Media union.

Attribution. Having spent time in the Big Data predictive analytics space, there is always the issue of attribution when working with leads (affiliates and aggregators). Basically the issues surrounding getting credit for driving traffic. Who drove the click? What timeframe does the attribution apply (immediate or forever)? And so on. Simply Measured announced what it claims to be the first attribution measurement tool for social media campaigns. I’ll be meeting with the Simply Measured executive team in a couple weeks to dig deeper into this.
Spying. One speaker named Skylar delivered an impressive speech on competitive intelligence gathering using the Simply Measured tools. It amounted to keep your friends close and your enemies closer. Best speech for me.


Sources. The C-level executive at Hubspot demonstrated sources of customer traffic and Google ad words was way low on the scale (below 10%) with sources like Instagram and YouTube fairing much higher. That was an eye opener. I confirmed this later with my 18YO son when he affirmed a media buy to target millennials would be best on Instagram, not Facebook.
Young at Heart. Finally, in the start-up mentality, I found the demographic at LIFT Social to be dramatically different than SMB Nation. Women attendees outnumbered men 2:1 whereas SMB Nation events are 95% male. The average age was significantly lower than our late 40s SMB Nation member. That’s OK as it made me feel young at heart LOL.

I end with a question? Why do these social media millennials end every sentence an octave higher (riser) with the word PERFECT? Not everything is PERFFECT in social media analytics but it’s getting closer to the precise measurements we can gather today with email and adwords campaigns.

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Channel Check-In: Atera’s YTD Report Card

Everyone loves a success story. So hang on fast as Atera, a seasoned start-up, is making fast moves in the SMB channel. You’ll recall we extensively covered it’s “Hello 2016” launch at the start of the year. There is ample evidence suggesting nine out of ten start-ups fail (of course) but I’m more interested in learning what makes the ten percent successful like this Forbes article did. Needless to say I count Atera in this top ten percent. So what’s it’s secret to success as an all-in-one SMB RMM/PSA/Remote Access ISV?

First – the word is out. Atera has enjoyed outsized publicity and coverage because of its market timing to provide a right-sized all-in-one RMM Software, PSA and Remote access SaaS solution for the SMB channel partner. “Our target market are the smaller VARs and MSPs.” Gil Pekelman, Atera CEO, shared during a far reaching interview. aterasept“Our pricing model of $89 per technician is both a fraction of the cost of an existing RMM player (not to mention PSA) and the fact that it is not Agent based pricing makes it totally disruptive.” As a privately-held company, Atera doesn’t release financial information but I can attest that its growth rate is significantly ahead of plan, having reviewed some internal information.

Second – Continuous Innovation. “We launched The Benchmark: This is an industry first – utilizing big data analysis we provide our users with Data (KPI’s) that can guide them if its business is on the right track. For example, we just released within our new billing module a comparison between the contracts the MSP has with his customer and the industry median hourly price.” Pekelman added. In a future contribution about Atera’s SMB channel journey, I will dig much deeper into the analytics topic.

 

Third – Community Feedback. A day doesn’t pass where I’m not promoting the authenticity of the SMB Nation community based on our geek roots dating back to the beginning of time (the release of the Small Business Server product in the late 1990s). Money and time haven’t changed us as we remain a bona fide grass roots community still committed to changing the world. Here’s the good news. Atera thinks like us too! Pekelman proudly “peacocked” his open feedback approach. “It’s an open/transparent/Internet model – You know what we have, what you will pay and what we are working one…. http://ideas.atera.com/?sort=popular” Loosely translated, Pekelman is saying that Atera’s innovation is based on community feedback.

This transparent community paradigm has allowed Atera to gleam insights into its VAR/MSP customers. “For the small guy what did we do? We changed his life.” Pekelman declared. “He can now afford an all-in-one MSP Software platform (or save a lot of money on the system he has). The system is so easy and automated that he can actually use it without hiring PSA/RMM implementation consultants. He has a unique Offering – Unlimited Agents vs. all those MSPs that are stilling using an agent based product. We are giving him a compass to run his business and guide him to a healthy one.”

Finally – design. I can attest to the simplicity of the Atera solution. I reviewed that aspect earlier this year .

Over the next couple of months, I’ll continue to track Atera’s success. It’s one to watch.

PS – If you downloaded and used Atera in a trial several months ago, DO IT AGAIN! It’s rate of innovation is amazing so the version you worked with a few months ago is different today!

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