Your weekly roundup of news for the IT channel.
N-able releases Help Desk Manager for MSPs and updates RMM platform
RMM vendor N-able rolled out N-Central 9.4, the latest version of its remote monitoring platform, and complimented it with a new Help Desk Manager. The Help Desk Manager features numerous functionalities, including email-to-ticket support, customer portals, automatic ticket assignment, time and material billing, an integrated knowledge base system, an integrated survey engine, drag-and-drop and drilldown dashboards. The Help Desk Manager can be deployed as a standalone solution for companies that don't use an RMM platform but want the capabilities offered by a ticketing solution, or it can be integrated with N-central. N-central 9.4 offers updates to usability and UI enhancements, OS X support, monitoring support, Patch Manager updates, new TeamViewer support and Automation Manager enhancements.
Researchers discover second NSA link to RSA Encryption Toolkit
The news continues to be bad for RSA. Researchers have uncovered a second link to between the company’s encryption toolkit and NSA spying activities, making it possible for the agency to spy on supposedly protected communications. News about the initial vulnerability was leaked by Edward Snowden, prompting a great deal of backlash in the IT community. With accusations that RSA knowingly deployed an encryption algorithm the NSA had compromised refusing to die despite strident denials from RSA, the latest revelation – this latest report will only further fuel the fire. According to a report in Reuters, a research team consisting of professors at Johns Hopkins, the University of Illinois and the University of Wisconsin discovered the "Extended Random" extension, a tool for secure websites that was helped the NSA crack the faulty encryption algorithm. You can read the group’s report detailing their findings.
Extreme Networks unveils new SDN, network management solutions
Extreme Networks is making it easier for partners to manage the technology it acquired in with the $180 million September purchase of Enterasys and its own through a single pane of glass with a new software-defined networking (SDN) architecture and management software. NetSight 6.0 is part of a broader SDN architecture rolled out this week, which uses a combination of hardware and software from both the Extreme and Enterasys portfolios – the latter of which was particularly well known for network management functionality. The next phase of the merger will involve integration of the two partner programs, which have a combined total of about 2,000 global channel partners.
Perficient acquires BioPharm Systems for $17.6 million
St. Louis-based Perficient is continuing to expand its vertical footprint through acquisition, this time opening up the life sciences and pharmaceutical technology consulting verticals with the purchase of San Mateo, Calif.-based BioPharm Systems for $17.6 million. In February the company bought into the financial tech consulting market when it paid $46 million for ForwardThink Group. BioPharm, which brings an additional 50 consulting, technology, sales and support professionals, will become the life sciences and pharmaceutical element of Peficient’s lucrative health care division which accounts for about 25 percent of Perficient’s annual revenue. The company’s next targeted growth areas: technology consulting firms focusing in energy, gas, utilities and retail.
Tech Data launches new portal to help manage recurring revenue opportunities for Cisco partners
Tech Data introduced the SMARTattach Opportunity Portal, a new online offering designed to help Tech Data’s authorized resellers get as much recurring revenue from their Cisco services contracts and revenue streams as possible. The Opportunity Portal is part of an larger strategy to emphasize Cisco services and to simplify processes through automation, says the Clearwater, Fla.-based distributor. Initially developed in 2009 to help solution providers add Cisco SMARTnet services to Cisco hardware purchases, SMARTattach now adds the Opportunity Portal to enhance operational management capabilities that have been less than stellar. Going forward, Tech Data resellers will be better able to track what equipment was sold in each account, what services were and were not sold with it and circle back to pitch those services, boosting their recurring services revenues in the process.
Samsung overhauls partner program
Samsung made the largest update to its partner program since the company founded a partner program in 2004, adding new incentives for top tier partners, a revamped partner website, and significant sales performance incentive increases. The new program, dubbed Samsung Team of Empowered Partners, will help the company stay relevant in a rapidly changing IT landscape and continue to compete with Dell, Hewlett-Packard and Lenovo who have been pressuring Samsung into reduced prices (and margins for resellers). Designed to drive sales of its tablets, PCs, memory and other desktop desk top products, the new program is based on a four-tier global partner platform: Platinum, Gold, Silver, and Entry Level. According to the company, the new Platinum tier will provide rebates, volume discounts, dedicated sales resources, demo equipment and marketing development funds. Gold partners also have access to a selection of rebates and to inside sales support. Silver partners can access inside sales and pre-sales support, and engineering product specialists. The new program will be phased in starting April 7.
Salesforce.com announces new vertical industry initiative
Salesforce.com announced a new industry-specific go-to-market strategy at its sales event in Boston with the goal of realizing its ambition to overtake SAP as the world’s third largest enterprise software vendor. Through the new initiative the company will tailor versions of its Salesforce1 CRM platform for specific vertical industries. These solutions will be distributed, at least in part, through increased engagement of the channel, including ISVs, systems integrators and others. Having posted upwards of 30 percent growth per year, President Keith Block told attendees, "We're growing faster than any other enterprise software company in the world." Adding the company forecasts sales of $5.25 billion for the current fiscal year. Salesforce will initially focus its attention on the financial services/insurance, health-care/life sciences, retail/consumer products, communications/media, public sector and automotive/manufacturing industries.