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SMB Nation Blog

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

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microsoft windows new logo-2560x1024Early this week Microsoft released it FY Q1 earnings (its fiscal year starts July 1st) and it exceeded expectations with respect to cloud revenues (overall earnings were down as expected because of the Nokia hit). The Wall Street Journal perhaps said it best that Microsoft is bucking the trend as revenues rose 11%, while competitors like IBM, Oracle and H-P are posting slow or shrinking sales growth. “Microsoft may not be cool, but its sales continue to defy expectations…” wrote Shira Ovide at WSJ.COM. MarketWatch reported that CEO Satya Nadella pitched that Microsoft’s strengths in cloud-based business services – primarily Web-friendly Office 365 and Azure – had resulted in double cloud revenue. That could spell double trouble for Amazon (more on that in a moment).

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Zendesk Launches Net Promoter Score Surveys

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zendeskZendesk, Inc. today launched its Net Promoter Score (NPS) surveys, built to enable organizations to gather and analyze customer feedback from the same customer service platform they use to interact with customers.

NPS can measure an organization’s customer loyalty over time proactively, instead of measuring satisfaction only after specific interactions.

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AVG TechnologiesAVG Technologies today released the results of a study conducted by independent research firm, Vanson Bourne, which shows a new picture of the SMB end user and MSP environment as it relates to the Internet of Things (IoT) trend. Overall, SMB customer demands are on the rise, and MSPs are looking to adapt.

Here’s a bit of information on the study. Vanson Bourne conducted 1770 interviews of both IT and Marketing decision makers from Austalia, Canada, Germany, the UK and the US in September 2014. All of the respondents were from companies with between 1-500 employees, with a split of 85% SMB customer respondents, and 15% MSP respondents.

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Bob Vogel BlueBy Bob Vogel, B2 Marketing

Spoiler alert: there are more than five. But I’ve interviewed literally hundreds of IT service pros over the years, and I keep seeing and hearing recurring themes among the successful ones.

Ironically, even knowing whether or not you are successful is one of the top ingredients. So many IT service companies are living from month-to-month, quarter-to-quarter, even year-to-year, without any clearly defined goals. Without goals, there’s no way to measure success. Tip 1: If you don’t have clearly defined goals for your business, establish them right now and put them in writing.

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transporterEarlier today, Connected Data, released its Transporter Genesis platform. I had the chance to talk with Connected Data’s VP of Marketing, Jim Sherhart, and COO, Russ Johnson, and they gave me an overview of the Genesis, as well as their take on the current Channel response to the Cloud.

I’ll dig right in to the community connection. Jim and Russ spoke to me about what they are seeing in the current Cloud market as it relates to file sharing. In particular, they said that cloud services have a user base of over 400 million, and that 97% of these users don’t pay for these services. Herein the dilemma lies: these services still cost the hosting company money, so these independent cloud file share organizations, like Box, are actually seeing a deficit, paired with competition from larger file-share organizations.

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D&H Distributing Announces Agenda for Fall Show

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dandhjpgD&H Distributing today announced the agenda and location of its annual Mid-Atlantic Fall 2014 Technology Show, taking place November 5, 2014. This event, the last in D&H’s event season, will be held in the Hershey Lodge and Convention Center in Hershey, PA and D&H is expecting to host over 100 vendors and over 1000 attendees, including resellers, dealers and integrators.

The main focus at this year’s Mid-Atlantic Fall 2014 show is the Server Refresh Opportunity Booth, a 40x40ft area in the center of the exhibit hall, where attendees can see several racks of running, live servers from Lenovo, HP and Cisco, and pick the brains of well-respected D&H Solutions Lab and Server Specialist Team members. The idea behind this display is to both familiarize resellers with the Microsoft Server 2012 R2 solution, as well as new offerings, like the System X line from Lenovo.

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digium logoDigium today announced its Digium Cloud Services offering, Digium SIP Trunking, will be available tomorrow in the contiguous United States. Digium SIP Trunking offers reliable, inexpensive and simple-to-deploy VoIP connectivity for Switchvox, Asterisk, and any IP-enabled phone system.

Digium now has a complete solution, acting as a provider for phones, PBX and telephony service. Its SIP Trunking is available in metered or unlimited plans, and it offers nationwide DIDs, 911 enabled DIDs, and toll-free DIDs along with potential to port local and toll-free numbers from other carriers.

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harryselfieThis is a story about the popular book, the E-Myth Revisited [Michael Gerber, Harper Business], the best-selling MBA program mainstay gifted to me by Dana Epp (Microsoft Security MVP and Scorpion Software founder – recently acquired by Kaseya) nearly ten years ago. The premise is that a small business owner (e.g. pie shop owner) should work ON the business but not necessarily IN the business full-time after a certain duration. So I followed Dana’s advice, and have built a company over the past 15+ years that can run without me being involved day-to-day. For that, I credit Jennifer Hallmark, who has served SMB Nation for the past eight years. She has built “Team Jenny” with an average tenure of five years inside a small business (rare and something she should be proud of). About 18-months ago, I promoted her to President of the company, and I’ve used the duration since to mentor her on the finer points of running a ten person company. Next up was the promotion of Marianne “CRM Machine” Poulos to Director of Sales eight months ago. Not a single CRM entry is missed with her team of four and her friction-free management style. Plan A is in effect for me to focus on more strategic initiatives and participate in industry opportunities while the SMB Nation trains run on time.

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By Jay McBain, Co-Founder, ChannelEyes

changing-business-model1As the summer of 2014 is quickly wrapping up, I wanted to share some of my observations on the ever-changing technology channel.

I am seeing the very definition of the channel changing. The first generation of the IT channel opened its doors in the late 1970s, with business models around midrange computing, Apple education sales and hobbyist PC sales.

When IBM announced the PC on Aug. 12, 1981, the Microsoft/Intel revolution began. The channel grew quickly and weathered numerous storms such as Dell direct in the early 1990s, explosion of the internet in the late 1990s, Y2K and, more recently, cloud, consumerization, mobility and convergence.

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This week’s webinar is a treat for our community! Join SMB Nation’s own Harry Brelsford as he discussed the brand new Board of Advisors Program with Keith Lubner, Channel Consulting Corp, and Ken Thoreson, Acumen Management Group (pictured).

Registration Link: https://www1.gotomeeting.com/register/864506928

Learn how to make 2015 your best year ever. Maybe you are ready for the next level!  If you face sales, marketing and/or business management challenges in growing your business it’s time to invest in your success! Invest 45 minutes of your day on Thursday, October 23 to learn how other partners are enjoying success.

Join us at 10am PDT to get the scoop on how this is different from other traditional groups, as well as info on the three distinct program pathways, and the Board of Advisors Round Table.

Board of Advisors: powered by SMB Nation, led by Ken Thoreson, Acumen Management Group, and Keith Lubner, Channel Consulting Corp.

 

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Unitrends logoUnitrends today announced Q3 was its 23rd consecutive quarter of growth, with growth driven by channel momentum, industry-leading technology deployments and effective customer support.

“We’ve maintained an unwavering commitment to delivering simple and affordable enterprise-class data protection offerings backed by an unrivaled customer support team,” said Mike Coney, Unitrends’ president and CEO. “This winning formula has propelled us to tremendous success in recent years, and we’ll continue to make it the foundation of our business model as we enter the next stage of corporate growth.”

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Office365logoOrange WebWorking side-by-side with the Office 365 product team in Redmond, we’re delighted to present the first community “needs” survey to you. Your participation is paramount in helping the Office 365 team shape the direction of its product support resources. In particular, what you share from the real world, will allow me to engage in deeper conversation about what type of learning assets are needed now to make you more technical successful with Office 365.

To be more specific, this survey will allow you to weigh in on how Office 365 has helped your organization/customers, and how/where you get help for any Office 365-questions! This is your chance to drive the innovation of the Office 365 solution.

BONUS: One lucky respondent will win an ActionTec ScreenBeam WIDI device (HDMI wireless display – very cool)*

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GFI Introduces WebMonitor 2015

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gfiGFI Software today announced immediate availability of GFI WebMonitor 2015, a complete redesign that enables IT administrators to control access, scan Internet traffic with three anti-virus engines, and unify policy configuration and management. All aspects of its user interface have layout and performance updates.

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Combat kit weightI caught a moment with this past week with Lenovo’s Vice President North America Commercial Channels and SMB, Chris Frey. During our interview, we touched base on the company’s recent acquisition of IBM’s x86 server unit, as well as Combat Kit updates, and the driving philosophy behind the company’s evolving channel program.

The main item Chris and I discussed was the recent acquisition of the IBM x86 server unit. Here’s where the Lenovo team starts to shine. As Chris explained, Lenovo is working hard to be the first to intersect people and program into channel, resulting in a new credo: “One Lenovo, One Channel.” What does this mean? Well, for starters, there’s a consistency here that all partners will share, whether they are PC resellers or working on the Server side. In fact, Chris told me that within the first 10 days of the acquisition, Lenovo had already started work on the following:

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CIRCULATE!

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Renee and Charles 2I like to lead by example. So I attended the Western Washington Summit 2014 event hosted by the West Sound Technology Association (WSTA) in the Seattle-area. My point is that, once a week, you need to engage in some form of professional outreach to remain relevant in your career. The choice of this outreach is yours; it’s the attitude to get out there that’s important.

Pictured: Renee Radcliff Sinclair and Charles Keating

Specific to the Western Washington Summit 2014, organizers Charles and Dona Keating held a mid-day event highlighted by speeches from Congressman Derek Kilmer, Olympic College Dean, Norma Whitacre, and Renee Radcliff Sinclair (who recently directed Strategic Initiatives at Apple). Sinclair just happens to live in the area and she spoke eloquently about technology in education. In a lighter moment, her Windows-based laptop display stumbled with an errant right-click context menu and this Apple executive needed Charles’ assistance in escaping out of it. Welcome to Seattle, Renee!

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voxox2Cloud-based rich communication service Voxox announced its Cloud Phone, a virtual PBX service, was named the Best Mobile Utility category winner at the 2014 Silicon Valley Business App Awards.

Voxox’s Cloud Phone has set the standard for innovation and creativity in the mobile utility app world," said Vikas Sharan, CEO, SVBA Awards. "This award is a testament to the skill, ingenuity, and vision of its creators."

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invisibleCRM launces Chatter Enterprise for Outlook

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invisiblecrminvisibleCRM announced Chatter Enterprise for Outlook, an integrated solution Salesforce.com Chatter users can access and manage within Outlook, will be available in Q4 2014.

Chatter increased overall sales productivity by more than 36 percent, Salesforce reports, and leveraging the impact of Chatter through Outlook serves to streamline and boost networking capabilities.

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GRID Christian Ehrenthal headshotIt’s finally happening. Start-ups such as GridVision, based in New York, NY, are emerging to capitalize on the pivot to Office 365 and the cloud world. GridVision launched both its company and its SaaS-based beta IT management and automation platform solution earlier this week. I was able to sit down and talk with GridVision CEO and Co-Founder, Christian Ehrenthal (pictured), and he walked me through the basics of his company’s solution.

So what does GridVision do? I’d start with they have a lack of legacy on-premises “baggage” as a born in the cloud startup. So that gives them a lot of agility and flexibility. It’s like a country devastated by a hurricane and rebuilding its telecom infrastructure with wireless, not landlines. A fresh start is, well, refreshing!

This timing couldn’t be better with Office 365 finally validating the cloud paradigm for even the most discrimination MSP. And yes – they hook Office 365, which I’ll get to in a moment.

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coredialIt is business transformation rather than simple cost cutting that will drive the next wave of cloud adoption, according to Gigaom Research. That isvery positivenews for the future of cloud-based services and SaaS platform providers.

The focus for the future should be on the value that cloud-based services can create within a business rather than basic cost reduction. Reducing costs is a positive for any enterprise IT department, but in the long-termit is innovation and the impact cloud can have on the overall business that counts. As we know, you can only reduce costs so much, while innovation and new processes are limitless.

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Dell Partners Rank Security Threats in Survey

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Dell Logo amllDell today announced its partners ranked network, mobile and cloud security as the top threats facing their customers in a recent survey.

The 120 randomly selected partners are attending the first Dell Security Peak Performance Conference in Florida.

Partners said network, mobile and cloud security are the three most common concerns they hear from customers, and BYOD, selected by 59 percent of respondents, led the partners’ ranking as one of the top two threats of concern to their customers.

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Harrybbb: On the Record with Robert Cohen

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As many of you know, Harrybbb is SMB Nation’s company nomad. He often travels to the numerous industry events, where he gets to meet members of our community face-to-face. Harry was in lovely Toronto, ON this past September for the D&H Technology Show, where he was able to have a short interview with ChannelLine CEO, Robert Cohen (pictured) about his company’s new XSELERATOR Program.

Check out the interview at:

 

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Friendly Divorce (Part I of II)

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hpThe disruption drumbeat continues to march in the technology community. A day doesn’t end without some blockbuster technology news such as a break-up or hack. The sea of change brought by mobility and cloud computing is really playing out. In this contribution, I focus on two recent break-ups and speculate on others. Part One will focus on HP and Part Two will cover my observations on the recent Symantec separation.

HP

I’ve got to hand it to HP. It’s doing something to adjust to the new-new world of cloud computing. But for several years, HP has had its challenges. It took log positions in its server-side, on-premise portfolio starting in the early 2000s. (HP, of course, is a mature company 1939 and has had countless acquisitions dating back to 1958 as seen here).

  • Compaq (2001/2) which itself had acquired DEC in 1998.
  • 3COM (2010)
  • Palm (2010)

The point is, HP is built for client/server and other on-premises technology paradigms. It thrived in our SMB community in the SBS 2003 era, as it was a top-of-mind solution for an SBS deployment. People loved HP! But starting a few years ago, it started to look a bit awkward at industry events promoting some legacy pillar server solution messaging. Numerous layoffs, executive management changes and mixed signals (initial tablet dropped; PC business exit/re-entry) have swung the perception meter in our community to ambiguous. As the old saying goes: “Every cloud has its silver lining.” I’ll deliver the good news from all of this in a moment.

On the services side – HP’s best acquisition was EDS in 2008, which instantly made it a player in the services business. Ummm…let’s not go there about Autonomy in 2011 LOL.

This brings us to the fast fact check concerning HP. The break-up mirrors the “bad bank” strategy in the Great Recession, used to clear toxic assets off the balance sheet. The two companies are now HP (printers and PCs) and Hewlett-Packard Enterprise (will incorporate HP's current server, storage, networking, software, services, and financing operating segments). The nuts-and-bolts of the friendly divorce are better covered by my friends, The Motley Fool, here).

Not completely sure what the future holds for HP’s SMB strategy as it’ll be part of the “enterprise group” which is a whole different crowd. Also – I’d offer there will be an extended period of caution in the SMB-area, as my friends and yours seek to avoid making mistakes. You have to remember that a corporate career is a different path from that of an entrepreneur. In general, risk taking is not rewarded at the enterprise level.

I also wonder aloud if HP, which hasn’t exhibited an Office 365 strategy, is being disrupted by Office 365. I’d offer the answer is yes. I’ll continue to monitor this angle.

Finally – it’s the children that are hurt most in a divorce. I’ve got some great friends inside HP in the server area and they have been extremely supportive over the years to the SMB community. These are good people working inside a big company that is being disrupted. I get that and I’ll continue to defend my brethren!

BTW – is there really such a thing as a friendly divorce? Or will this get messy? Can co-parenting work at HP?

Next time I delve into the Symantec breakup.

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Lenovo Introduces All-In-One Modular Thin Clients

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lenovoLenovo today expanded its end-to-end enterprise solutions portfolio with the announcement of new thin clients.

The new ThinkCentre Tiny-in-One attaches to the M73 or M53 clients, giving users cost-effective options for future upgrades without a need to replace the display.

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IT Security Breaches: The New Normal

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By Bob Vogel, B2 Marketing

Bob Vogel BlueIf you are reading this before Thursday, 10/23/14, I strongly recommend that you register for what could be a game-changing webinar for you.

On that day, at 2 PM Eastern 11 AM Pacific, RapidFire Tools, Inc. will be talking about Internal Vulnerabilities, and a new tool they have to help you deliver better IT security services and maybe save your clients from an “inside” attack.

Here’s the link to register to see it live or, if you missed it, to watch a recording: https://www3.gotomeeting.com/register/945628550.

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AirTight Networks Launches Mobile Web App

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airtightAirTight Networks today announced the launch of mobile web app AirTight Nano and social Wi-Fi integration option WeChat, both to be demonstrated at Wi-Fi Global Congress Oct. 9-10.

"At AirTight we believe in leveling the playing field for companies of any size,” said David King, chairman and CEO of AirTight Networks. “This means making our enterprise-grade wireless platform and software applications for Wi-Fi cloud management, social engagement, analytics and security the mo

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