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SMB Nation Blog

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

Xerox Names New Chief Marketing Officer

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xerox logoXerox announced John Kennedy will join the corporation as chief marketing officer and a vice president. Kennedy comes to Xerox after 18 years with IBM in a number of senior marketing, sales, and strategy roles.

Kennedy’s most recent role at IBM was as the vice president, global business services; in this role, he was responsible for marketing and generation of demand for their global business services.

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Cisco, Microsoft announce data center initiative

Cisco and Microsoft announced a three year partnership to improve integration across their cloud and data center offerings. Under the agreement the tech giants will enhance the integration between their portfolios and streamline incentives for their mutual channel partners to go to market with joint Cisco and Microsoft technologies such as Cisco's Unified Computing System (UCS), Cisco's Nexus switching line and Microsoft Cloud OS solutions including Windows Server, System Center, SQL Server and Microsoft Azure. The deal builds on a 10-month pilot program announced last year that was expected to drive more collaboration between the two company’s partner communities by providing them with more training resources on bundled Cisco-Microsoft solutions. The new program will kick off with a joint initiative aimed at migrating Windows Server 2003 customers to Windows 2012 R2 on the Cisco UCS platform. Microsoft will end Windows Server 2003 support on July 14, 2015. The companies' partner incentive programs will be aligned as part of the new agreement, a key component of which is the new Cisco Referral Program (CRP), which will reward Microsoft partners for selling integrated Microsoft and Cisco data center solutions.

NetApp, Microsoft partnership extends private storage to Microsoft Azure

netapp logoNetApp took the wrapper off a new solution that will extend on-premise data directly to the Microsoft Azure public cloud as part of a hybrid cloud environment. This is the second offering in NetApp’s Private Storage for Cloud initiative, which uses direct, secure connections to public cloud storage to combine the best features of on-prem storage and public cloud storage. The program was unveiled in 2012 with a similar engagement with Amazon Web Services. According to the company, the idea is to provide customers with the flexibility and cost savings of public clouds with the control and privacy of NetApp private storage. The new offering uses Microsoft Azure ExpressRoutetechnology to create private connections between customer IT infrastructure and Azure data centers, just as NetApp Private Storage for AWS uses Amazon's AWS Direct Connect technology to accomplish the same task. Similar arrangements are planned with other cloud services providers as they introduce similar high-performance direct connection capability.

Microsoft partners to provide Office 365 and Intune tech support

Through the newly announced Cloud Solution Provider program, Microsoft unveiled plans to allow its channel partners – including distributors, MSPs, ISVs and hosting providers – to bundle their products and services with Microsoft cloud services. Under the program, selected partners will be responsible for provisioning and managing cloud software for their customers, and they'll also handle technical support, said John Case in a WPC keynote address. This means partners will be able to give customers a single bill that includes both their services and Microsoft services, said the Corporate vice president of marketing for Microsoft Office. The program will be rolled out to "select" partners over the next year, starting with Office 365 and Intune. Azure, Dynamics CRM Online and other cloud services will be added later. Case did not disclose what qualifications will be required to be selected for the program. According to Microsoft Office 365 is its fastest growing business ever, turning over $2.5 billion annually. About three-quarters of Office 365 customers already get their services through a Microsoft partner.

Job cuts loom as Microsoft plans major reorganization

According to a report published by Bloomberg, Microsoft is planning to cut thousands of jobs in what would probably be the largest round of layoffs in company history. The Redmond, Wash.-based software company’s last major layoffs were in 2009 when it shed about 5,800 people in a move that cut $1.5 billion. Since it acquired Nokia’s handset division for $7.2 billion in April, Microsoft has more than 127,000 employees globally. While industry speculation is rife about how many people will lose their jobs and what divisions will be affected, it is no secret that new CEO Satya Nadella was opposed to the Nokia acquisition and will abandon the “Devices and Services” vision of former CEO Steve Ballmer that drove it instead preferring to focus on “platforms and productivity.”

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The week that was – July 21st, 2014

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Last week’s major event was the Microsoft Wordwide Partner Conference in Washington D.C. As you would expect, the entire week’s news cycle was dominated by Microsoft-related news, however a few other developments squeaked out so we’re running two Week That Was entries this week – the normal one and a special WPC Edition.

Verizon continues to revamp partner program, opening up enterprise accounts to the channel

verizonVerizon Enterprise Solutions – the enterprise-oriented business arm of the New York telecom giant – is continuing to revamp its U.S. partner program by opening up about 1,700 of its biggest enterprise accounts to partners. Before now these accounts were the exclusive domain of Verizon’s direct sales team while the company’s channel partners concentrated on SMBs and the smaller end of the enterprise market. Going forward, the plan is to have partners collaborate with the direct sales team on the enterprise deals. Since reinventing itself last year as a more channel-friendly organization, Verizon’s partner base has grown rapidly, more than doubling to about 1000 partners. Verizon also announced the expansion of it’s partner program into Europe so this number will continue to grow, although the carrier says its preference is to focus on working with a smaller number of more intimate VARs and MSPs and to recruit a cast of thousands.

Apple enters enterprise market through partnership with IBM

Apple LogoJust as Blackberry, once the king of business mobility, seems to be continuing its consumer-oriented efforts through a recent deal with Amazon that will provide access to hundreds of thousands of Android apps, Apple is moving the other way. Apple and IBM announced a new strategic partnership through which IBM will develop more than 100 industry-specific iOS apps, platforms and services that will help Apple penetrate the enterprise market.

The two companies unveiled the first four areas they plan to focus on:

  • IBM MobileFirst for iOS Solutions will be a series of business-focused applications targeting specific industry opportunities and has a planned release in the Fall.
  • IBM MobileFirst Platform for iOS will deliver end-to-end enterprise mobile services including analytics, workflow, cloud storage, fleet-scale device management, security and integration.
  • AppleCare for Enterprise will see IBM provide on-site Apple customer support for enterprise customers.
  • Through IBM MobileFirst Supply and Management Big Blue will supply and activate iPhones and iPads, and providing MDM services and leasing options.

Extreme Networks absorbs Enterasys’ channel with joint partner program

Ext Logo color 5San Jose, Calif.-based Extreme Networks finally integrated its disparate channel programs into a cohesive approach to market. The company has been supporting two separate programs since it acquired Enterasys last November for $180 million. The new program – the Extreme Partner Network – will increase both partner services revenue and deal registration and incentives. According to the company, the Extreme Partner Network will simplify the partner sales process by delivering a single distribution network for the combined product portfolio, while streamlining the partner segmentation and rewards system. The Extreme Partner Network segments partners into one of four tiers: Diamond, Platinum, Gold and Silver based on sales volumes and their Extreme pre-sales certifications. Another new feature of the Extreme Partner Network is ExtremeWorks, a services program that allows partners to either resell Extreme's professional and support services or offer their own directly to the client.

Rackspace upgrades cloud offering, positions for expanded managed services

rackspace-logoRackspace expanded its public cloud offering with the addition of two new service levels and an improved, more transparent pricing model in a move that will both position the company as a managed services provider and reduce opportunities for channel partners as it goes more direct in its sales model. The move isn’t shocking to many in the IT industry as Rackspace has been cultivating a reputation for being less than friendly to partners and has been accused of undercutting and going direct. The two news service tiers, Managed Infrastructure and Managed Operations, include a free cloud-monitoring service and technical support. Rackspace also unveiled a new program called developer+ which will allow software developers to sample the company’s cloud services with an “infrastructure credit.” The new billing model transparency comes through a commitment to make sure that the price of the cloud infrastructure is a distinct line item rather than being bundled in with numerous other calculations as has become typical in the industry.

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Sabre Corporation to Host Hackathon

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hackathon 2014Sabre Corporation is hosting a hackathon to challenge developers to create revolutionary apps for the travel industry. The 24-hour hackathon, held on Aug. 1-2, is a non-stop event that allows developers to use Sabre’s APIs and other open technology providers to create a working travel application prototype.

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velocifyCloud-based intelligent sales automation software market leader Velocify announced it was chosen as one of AlwaysOn’s Global 250 Companies to Watch.

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