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Recent blog posts

RFTRapidFire Tools, Inc. recently released the Network Detective HIPAA Compliance module, a comprehensive compliance tool designed to help MSPs navigate the often-choppy waters of HIPAA. Mike Mittel, President of RapidFire Tools, took some time to speak with me today about the new module, as well as the current HIPAA environment in the IT field.

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Matt KP event14It was recently announced that Matt Makowicz will be joining SMB Nation’s Harrybbb at Karl Palachuk’s third annual SMB Online Conference. This event, taking place June 24-26 allows attendees to listen live and/or gain access to recorded sessions for later review.

Matt, who was a speaker on last year’s IT Business Reboot 2013, will bringing 20 years of sales and marketing experience, 17 of which have been in the IT field, to this year’s event. As of this writing, his session will cover the best M&A practices for Small IT, for which he will be utilizing his extensive knowledge in the areas of IT company evaluation and mergers/acquisitions to present.

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Earlier today, Manta and Dell released the results of a March 2014 survey titled “Money v. Happiness” that showed some surprising trends about how SMB owners think and what they find important. To be exact, this report is a collection of 3025 Manta SMBs from between March 24 and March 27. The most intriguing finding was that 37% of those polled said that their motivation for being successful is the sense of personal achievement, while 28% said that they were driven to be financially stable.

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Happy Earth Day 2014!

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earthday flagAs many of you know, today marks the 44th year of Earth Day. This day of action, which began in the US in 1970, featured peaceful demonstrations for environmental change. Originally observed on university campuses and in communities across the US, Earth Day went global in 1990, and is currently observed in 192 countries.

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Facebook Graph Search for MSPs - Part 1

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pronto 4.21 1Social networking sites have become a significant marketing platform, especially for all small businesses. For many businesses, these platforms are the easiest and most inexpensive way to reach out to customers. You cannot even imagine a marketing program that does not include social networking platforms like Facebook. Who would not make use of a top social site that has over a billion users? In fact, a Facebook Page is already a must-have for pretty much every business. The best thing about using it is that Facebook's developers continue to think of ways to improve features and service, benefitting all of its users.

One of the key components to Facebook is the all-important Graph Search, first introduced almost a year ago. Graph Search was a significant change to the social networking site, yet many businesses are still unaware as to how it works and how it can benefit their business.

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The week that was – April 18, 2014

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Happy Easter everybody! Here is your long weekend edition carrying the news you don’t want to miss from the past week.

SAP reports positive performance in Q1 with cloud, HANA leading the way

sap-logoThe first quarter was a decent one for SAP, a fact that the company is crediting to positive performances from its cloud, its HANA in-memory computing platform offerings and to its channel. Now with more than 900 VAR and OEM partners and more that 1200 ISVs, SAP is continuing to push its cloud and HANA offerings through the channel. For the quarter ending on March 31, SAP reported revenue of $5.12 billion, up three percent from the same period in 2013. After-tax profit was $740 million, also up three percent from last year. Software revenue declined five percent to $863.3 million, but software and software-related service revenue climbed five percent to $4.23 billion. The real win came in cloud subscriptions and support revenue, which grew 38 percent in the quarter pushing the company’s annual run rate for cloud revenue to near $1.5 billion. SAP is now boasting approximately 36 million users.

Riverbed rebrands its Granite, eyes greater converged infrastructure play

riverbed logoConverged infrastructure vendor Riverbed Technology has announced plans for an updated and rebranded version of its Granite platform that will have more play in branch offices and distributed enterprises. The company is calling the new offering SteelFusion 3.0 – a solution that combines branch servers, storage, networking, WAN optimization and virtualization infrastructure, making it possible to host and manage branch office information in a centralized data center without compromising the locally hosted feel for end users. SteelFusion is an evolution of Granite, and thus built around a central appliance in the data center and an edge appliance in the branch or remote office. The data stored in the central data center is transmitted to the branch via the central appliance which feeds data to the edge device with high enough performance that users won't realize they are actually working with data located off site. According to the company the new SteelFusion brand will reposition the product as a full, converged infrastructure stack, rather than a platform primarily identified with storage, like Granite.

IBM emphasises channel partners in SoftLayer cloud play

IBM-logo1IBM is turning to channel partners to help it step up its SoftLayer cloud services business and offset the significant setbacks the company has been experiencing on the hardware side. Big Blue is making a major cloud services push, including an updated channel program for SoftLayer that will boost reseller margins, make more channel co-marketing money available, and expand in-person partner training. At the heart of the new SoftLayer partner program are bigger partner discounts on recurring SoftLayer business. IBM is promising five to 20 percent increases on discounts for deals worth between $15,000 and $100,000 in recurring revenue. SoftLayer's existing referral program – which pays 10 percent the first year, 8 percent in year two, and 6 percent thereafter – will continue without change. According to the company, IBM would ultimately like to see the number of channel-led accounts increase from 40 percent to 50 percent by the end of the year.

Trend Micro simplifies product choices for SMBs

TrendMicroAware of the complexity of its growing product portfolio, Trend Micro wants to make it easier for partners to make sure they are selling the right solutions to the right customers – i.e.: not selling stuff to people who won’t use it and who will thus wind up dissatisfied with their ROI. According to the company, providing the right mix of products is critical in markets with restricted IT budgets and thus it has unveiled a new strategy that will simplify packaging, especially between SMB and enterprise markets. The new product packaging gives customers the ability to mix on-premise and cloud versions of the security solution, thus supporting hybrid deployment strategies --- something the company has seen increasing. Endpoint protection functionality can be purchased separately or bundled with mail, web, and collaboration server and gateway security.

Other changes from Trend Micro include:

  • A new promotion called Switch To Trend which is aimed at displacing Symantec, McAfee, Sophos and Kaspersky Lab with license portability.
  • Application Control, a new whitelisting option which enables IT teams to set policies on types of software applications, like restricting the installation and use of P2P file-sharing apps.
  • It also boosted its hosted email security suite to support both inbound and outbound protection for Microsoft Office 365.

Google fires next salvo in cloud services price war with Amazon, Microsoft

google logoSearch engine giant Google announced lower than expected first quarter financial results, but that didn’t deter the company from announcing plans to increase its investment in cloud computing infrastructure to continue to drive down costs for enterprise customers. The company, which is the midst of a price war with rivals Amazon and Microsoft, said it would pass savings from lower digital storage costs directly to customers in order to attract more users to its infrastructure as a service offerings. Google reported net income was up three percent in Q1, hitting $3.65 billion and a 19 percent increase in sales to $15.4 billion. Google’s biggest capital expense is increasing data center capacity as the company ensures it is capable of handling the anticipated demand for cloud services.

VMware expands its public cloud with BDR-as-a-Service

VMware logo blk RGB 72dpiVMware finally launched the cloud-based disaster-recovery-as-a-service offering it hs been talking about. This marks the second product offering to go live on Palo Alto, Calif.-based vendor’s public cloud in a matter of weeks. The new service, which starts at $835/month for one TB of storage and 20 GB of RAM, backs up virtual machines running in VMware private clouds to the vCloud Hybrid Service public cloud at intervals ranging from 15 minutes to 24 hours. The company is highlighting the ease of deployment and management, and the lower cost of entry the service – which VMware is targeting at midsize companies – offers. Channel partners can generate additional revenues from the new service by advising customers on which apps should be protected by the service or by running the service on behalf of those customers.

IRS misses Windows XP Deadline, buys extended support from Microsoft

IRS logoIt appears that the U.S. Internal Revenue Service didn’t get the memo about Microsoft’s end of support for Windows XP in time to migrate and has now signed a deal with the software giant for the provision of custom support and security patches for the obsolete operating system. According to a report in the Washington Post, the IRS says it has migrated 52,000 of its 110,000 XP PCs to Windows 7 so far and expects to complete the transition by the end of the year. In total the migration will cost the agency $30 million. Moreover, the agency insists that the situation will have no impact on the processing of individual tax returns. The cost of the special deal with Microsoft was not disclosed, although the IRS claims it is lower that $500,000. This isn’t the only special support deal Microsoft has with its large government clients. The U.S. Department Of Defense is also still in the process if migrating its XP fleet and negotiated extended support while the British and Dutch governments are paying millions for extended support.

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Idaho Technology CouncilWe received news from the Idaho Technology Council that Idaho’s Governor, C.L. “Butch” Otter, this week signed a piece of legislation, HB 598, that will better define how Software-as-a-Service fits within the state’s tax law, and will support growth of SaaS, as well as other budding technologies in Idaho. HB 598 passed the Idaho Senate by a 33-0 majority and the Idaho House of Representatives by 58-12. This week’s legislation is the answer to a series of challenges raised by an Idaho Tax Commission bill in 2013.

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The Power of Thank You

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CAVUI was contacted by Harrybbb on Tuesday evening with the news that Cavu Networks, a long-time SMB Nation Community member (and neighbor!) posted two very nice “thank you” comments on its Facebook page. John Benjamin, Managing Director and CTO, Cavu Networks, graciously took some time out of his busy day to discuss just how far a simple “Thank you” can go.

To begin, I asked John if he felt that “thank yous” and positive comments were becoming rarer in today’s environment. He replied that he and his team actually see positive comments increasing. He attributes this to existing comments driving new customers, who then send in “thank yous” and other positive comments of their own.

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dandhjpgEarlier this week, D&H Distributing announced that it has sold over 39 million Green products since its launch of the “Go Green” campaign in 2010. Company representatives said that although this program was originally meant to foster awareness in the IT Community, and to reduce the company’s carbon footprint, it has taken on a mind of its own.

The D&H “Go Green” Program features a special “green” product filter for resellers to use in their searches, as well as a dedicated “Think Green” link on the reseller site menu, which features special offers and facts about D&H’s current green efforts.

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Continuum Launches MSP Radio Podcast

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continuum logoEarlier this month, Boston, MA-based Managed Services company, Continuum, launched a new podcast series called “MSP Radio.” Podcasts will be broadcast weekly, and community members are encouraged to subscribe for instant streaming to their iTunes lineup.

The first session, titled “The Future of Managed IT Services,” presented by the company’s VP Sales, Mark Connolly and VP Channel Sales, Mark Zahar, aired on April 10, and was a 35 minute cast focusing on industry expectations for 2014 and beyond. You can listen to a recording of this cast on the blog here. Listeners of MSP Radio are encouraged to ask live questions by using Continuum’s twitter handle: @FollowContinuum and the tag #MSPRadio.

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robots editedEveryone of a certain age reading this blog remembers the famous dialogue between Benjamin (Dustin Hofffman) and Mr. McGuire in the 1967 hit movie “The Graduate.” It goes like this:

Mr. McGuire: I just want to say one word to you. Just one word.

Benjamin: Yes, sir.

Mr. McGuire: Are you listening?

Benjamin: Yes, I am.

Mr. McGuire: Plastics.

Benjamin: Exactly how do you mean?

Now in 2014, substitute the word “Robotics” for “Plastics” and you’ve got the right context to proceed.

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Systematic-Success-2014Harry has been named as one of the nine consulting IT and business experts for Karl Palachuk’s well-respected annual online conference. This year’s theme, as you can view above, is “Systematic Success,” and conference sessions will focus on the best procedures and processes SMBs need to thrive in a changing environment. This online conference, now in its third year, will take place June 24-26, 2014.

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SMB Advantage Program Ends in 6 Weeks

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Microsoft LogoWe recently received news that the Microsoft SMB Advantage Program, designed to offer SMB partners subsidies for selling qualifying Microsoft services, will come to an end on Saturday, May 31. In particular, SMB partners can offer Microsoft Dynamics CRM, Office 365, CRM Online and SQL Server Premium.

The SMB Advantage Program is a three-step process:

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Intronis Announces Spring Release ’14

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IntronisToday, Intronis, Inc. announced that it has launched the Spring Release ‘14 for its data protection platform. Notable updates include support for new platforms, such as VMware vSphere 5.5 and Exchange 2013, Hyper-V backup capabilities and physical imaging support.

“The Spring ’14 Release is a transformative announcement for Intronis and positions our partners to deliver higher-value services and enterprise-grade support,” says Chuck DeLouis, Intronis vice president of product management. “It’s extremely rewarding to see the enthusiasm our partners have for Intronis’ new Spring Release ’14 and the solutions coming shortly on our strategic roadmap.”

Tagged in: backup cloud Intronis
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stonewareStoneware, Inc., an Indiana-based Lenovo company, recently announced that it will be releasing a SaaS version of its webNetwork solution. In addition, the company stated that it has two new add-ons for webNetwork, designed for online security and ease of browsing.

The SaaS version of webNetwork will be hosted in secure data centers. Features of this upcoming release include enhanced support for HTML5, Chromebook, Android tablet and Mac technologies, webPass Single-sign-on, access to public cloud and network storage via webStorage and the ability to deliver published Windows/virtual apps to a variety of devices.

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Heartbleed Bug Update: Community Response

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heartbleedAs many of you remember, we covered the Heartbleed Bug news break last week. This latest security flaw has grabbed the attention of IT Professionals and SMB end users alike due to its attack on the OpenSSL standard, and the fact that it took so long to uncover. We have recently received two responses from our community with tips for ensuring safety in the wake of this bug.

To start, long-time SMB Nation Community member, Carl Mazzanti, CEO, eMazzanti Technologies, sent over an e-mail with information on how they are keeping their eCare customers safe:

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geoff andersonYou’d have to be living in a cave somewhere to have missed the fact that Microsoft ended all service and support for Windows XP last week. The amount of hype surrounding the move has been staggering. So much attention in the channel has been focused on the XP story that you could be forgiven if you had missed the fact that XP wasn’t alone in being banished to the scrapheap of software obsolescence.

Microsoft Office 2003, long a stalwart of office applications, has likewise and simultaneously been cut off and Microsoft is making a strong push to migrate users to Office 365.

“The term ‘paradigm shift’ is badly overused,” admits Geoff Anderson (pictured), but he insists it really applies in this case. As Group Product Manager for Office 365 for SMBs, Anderson is front and center in the drive to make Office 365 as successful with SMBs as Office 2003 was.

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retrospectSince 1984, more than a million businesses have chosen Retrospect to provide a complete and versatile Backup & Recovery, Data Archiving, and Duplication solution.

With 25 years experience working directly with SMB customers, Retrospect continues to hand-craft a complete 3-in-1 data protection solution for Windows, Mac, and Linux designed specifically to meet the needs of small and medium businesses.

We asked a few what they thought of it.

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attToday, AT&T announced that it has invested approximately $120 million in upgrades to both its wireless and wired networks in South Dakota between 2010 and 2013. This resulted in a variety of enhancements (see below) as well as the addition of two new LTE markets in Brookings and Watertown.

“AT&T is making robust investments locally to make sure that residents can take full advantage of the latest services and tools, and that businesses have the speed they need to compete and grow,” said Cheryl Riley, director of external affairs, AT&T South Dakota, in a press release today.

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GFI MAX Announces Schedule for MAX 2014 Events

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gfi max smallThis morning, GFI MAX announced that it will be hosting its fourth annual customer event series, MAX 2014 in September of this year. To date, tour stops include Australia, England, Germany and the US.

“Every organization has the potential to improve the way it does business and by bringing our customers together each year, we provide the opportunity not only to learn about the future of the MAX platform and industry best practices, but also to network with and learn from each other, gaining practical and actionable real-world advice on how to deliver outstanding service to their clients and accelerate the growth of their business. In addition, our team has an unparalleled opportunity to hear directly from our customers on their evolving needs, providing insight that helps us to direct further development of our product offerings and to address developing opportunities and needs in the industry,” said Dr. Alistair Forbes, general manager of the GFI MAX business unit.

Tagged in: GFI MAX
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success failureSocial media has changed the way companies market their brands and manage their reputation so much so that it's now common to see social media sites being the main platform for sales and marketing programs. With Facebook and Twitter entering the limelight and gaining millions of users worldwide, the world is quickly becoming smaller and the communities based on sharing have been able to rapidly advance brand exposure for businesses of all sizes.

While businesses now enjoy an accessible, flexible and not to mention more exciting medium of customer interaction, social media can harm businesses if mishandled. The Internet is rife with tales of poorly managed, ineffective social media campaigns that led to businesses harming their brand or even turning customers away.

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The week that was – April 11, 2014

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Ingram Micro reinforces cloud offensive

Ingram-Micro-logoIngram Micro had numerous developments for channel partners during its Ingram Micro Cloud Summit 2014, held in Hollywood, Fla. The IT distributor announced cloud partnerships with IBM and Parallels and introduced a series of new hosted services and tools aimed at simplifying deployment, management and billing for cloud services as more business migrates to the cloud. The relationship with Parallels is based on an equity investment made by Ingram (Cisco also made an investment in Parallels last year) and will see Ingram Micro adopt and deploy Parallels Automation as the core service delivery platform for its new globalCloud Marketplace. Through the alliance with IBM, Ingram Micro will make IBM and its SoftLayer Infrastructure services available to partners, along with data center colocation services from 365 Main, Office 365 migration tools from SkyKick, Charter’s telecommunication services and SurePayroll’s online payroll tools. The trio of new services added to the company’s portfolio are Ingram Micro Hosted Exchange, Ingram Micro Virtual Private Server and Ingram Micro Web Hosting.

Tech Data bulks up TDCloud with Cisco-powered Peak 10 Hybrid Cloud, Services

Tech-DataTech Data announced a partnership with Tampa, Fla.-based Peak 10 to offer its partners a Cisco-powered hybrid cloud solution. Peak 10 uses Cisco to deliver a hybrid cloud environment which is then supported with managed services. Peak 10’s entire range of solutions is now available through the Clearwater, Fla.-based distributor, including public and private cloud options with BDR, security, performance and governance. Partners can access the Infrastructure-as-a-Service solution through Tech Data's TDCloud business unit in the division's Solution Store.

Tech Data partners with Good Technology

Good Technology LogoTech Data also announced an exclusive partnership with Good Technology to distribute its mobile security solutions. Prior to this deal, one of the first announced since Tech Data launched the Tech Data Mobile Solutions division in February, Good Technology’s primary route to market in North America was a small direct sales operation and a handful of channel resellers. Going forward, Tech Data and its larger channel partner network will provide the company's only US sales channel, with all existing resellers moving into the Tech Data network.


Gartner: Windows XP migration mitigates falling PC shipments

Gartner logoAccording to global IT analysis firm Gartner, Microsoft’s decision to end support for Windows XP boosted PC shipments in Q1 2014. Research firms have been predicting a significant slide in PC shipments and worldwide PC shipments did decline in Q1, but the 1.7 percent market contraction was much less significant than expected thanks to the rush to upgrade systems driven by the XP migration story. The US market actually experienced modest growth for the quarter, rising 2.1 percent to 14.1 million units. Hewlett-Packard was top dog in the US market, shipping 3.6 million devices, up 1.8 percent over last year. Dell is coming on strong posting a 13.3 percent increase over last year with sales of 3.4 million units while Apple was in the number three slot, with sales dropping 3.8 percent to 1.5 million units. Lenovo, the biggest winner with a 16.8 percent growth rate and sales of 1.5 million units, and Toshiba rounded out the top five. Globally, Lenovo was top, followed by HP, Dell, Acer and Asus.

VMware makes a play for Citrix's XenApp market

VMware logo blk RGB 72dpiVMware announced it is bundling application virtualization technology with its virtual desktop software for the first time in a play to boost its end-user computing business and compete with chief rival Citrix. Horizon 6 is scheduled for general availability in Q2 and uses Microsoft's Remote Desktop Services technology to deliver hosted apps and session-based desktops to any type of device. The product will include VMware's own desktop virtualization and management software but by adding RDS, VMware provides an attractive option for customers that prefer to take a one vendor approach to buying technology for running virtual desktops and apps – which is a key value proposition of Citrix XenApp.

MobileIron files for $100 million IPO

mobileiron logoMobileIron finally did what many channel insiders had been expecting and filed the necessary paperwork with the U.S. Security and Exchange Commission for an IPO it hopes will raise $100 million. The enterprise mobility management vendor named Morgan Stanley & Co. LLC; Goldman, Sachs & Co.; Deutsche Bank Securities Inc.; and Barclays Capital Inc. as the offering’s book-runners. MobleIron is one of the few independent EMM vendors remaining, along with including Good Technology and SOTI Inc. This money will undoubtedly go a long way toward helping the company compete with competitors who have been acquired recently, including acquired AirWatch (acquired by VMware) and Fiberlink Communications (acquired by and IBM). In its S-1 filing, MobileIron said its total revenue grew from $13.9 million in 2011 to $40.9 million in 2012 and $105.6 million in 2013 however, it posted net losses of $25.7 million, $46.5 million and $32.5 million in 2011, 2012 and 2013, respectively. Subscriptions accounting for about 14 percent or revenue while perpetual licenses made up a further 66 percent.

M&A in the channel: Venture Technologies and Information Systems Consulting announce merger

Making an aggressive play for critical mass and scalability, Venture Technologies, a VAR based in Jackson, Miss., and Denver’s Information Systems Consulting have announced plans to merge. The combined IT, network infrastructure and cloud solution provider business will have four data centers and combined revenue of $150 million. The transaction is expected to close next month. The consolidation of operations will be a longer term process, with the entire organization ultimately running under the Venture Technologies brand.

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Ingram Micro and Parallels Expand Partnership

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Parallels logoEarly this week, Parallels announced that it has expanded its current strategic alliance with Ingram Micro, Inc. With this expansion, Ingram Micro will adopt Parallels Automation as the core service delivery platform for its new Cloud Marketplace.

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By Brian Ferguson

The increasing use of cloud-based phone systems, along with the general trend toward Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS), has sparked a debate within the communications industry as to the preferred deployment method for business phone systems: Cloud or on-premises.   It’s understood that each has its benefits and challenges. The industry as seemingly arrived at a consensus as to which key factors play into the decision for the best solution:

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Guest post by Laplink Software

April 8th marked the end of support for Windows XP bringing an end to hot-fixes, security updates, and technical support for Windows XP users.

The reality of the end of Windows XP support was difficult for many to swallow. Windows XP already had an infection rate six times higher than Windows 8 before the April 8 deadline. Now, with known vulnerabilities leaving XP consumers and businesses exposed to hackers, viruses, and other malware, this number is likely to be much higher.

Recent statistics show that 20-25% of users are still using Windows XP despite these security risks. However, we at Laplink don’t believe this will be the case for very much longer. As shown in the graph below, migrations with PCmover jumped by a drastic 300% as April 8th drew nearer.

So why are people finally deciding to make the move? One reason that we already touched on is security. As updates come out for Windows 7 and 8, analysts predict that hackers will investigate XP for these same vulnerabilities. If they are shared, the hacker now has an open doorway into unprotected Windows XP machines.

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