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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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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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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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unlockriverI recently came across an article on the Tech Times site, written by Joseph Mayton, on a new piece of legislation signed in by US President Barack Obama, known as the Unlocking Consumer Choice and Wireless Competition Act, which allows consumers to legally unlock their phones and purchase unlocked phones. I had a few questions about this, so I also spoke with an old friend, Steve Hilton, who helped me better understand the changes to getting and using unlocked phones.

Let me put this into perspective: at SMB Nation, we recently needed to unlock a phone for one of our employees. I went through a program called Unlockriver.com and paid $42.50 for an unlock code. The new legislation, signed in early August, makes this legal in the US. Now, here’s the kicker. Even under this legislation, cell phone companies are neither required to offer unlocked phones, nor are they being forced to unlock any phone without a valid reason.

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appdirectYesterday, AppDirect, a San Francisco, CA, based cloud services organization, announced that it has begun to collaborate with global human capital management company, ADP. Through this collaboration. AppDirect has launched an API-accessible, cloud-based marketplace for ADP to provide a one-stop shop for its services.

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snom technology Names New CFO

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snom LogoIP solutions developer and producer snom technology AG announced it has appointed Finance Director Guido Wohlers as Chief Financial Officer. Wohlers has worked at snom for 12 years and brings experience and understanding as Finance Director to his new position.

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Paychex, Inc. today introduced its newly expanded service offering, software-as-a-service platform Paychex Flex, as well as mobile app Paychex Time.

Cloud-based Paychex Flex adapts to the needs of human capital management spectrum users and delivers access to payroll, HR and benefits information.

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Dates for the 2015 Fall Conference Announced!

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The SMB Nation Team would like to thank all of this year’s attendees, media, speakers and sponsors for helping us make the 2014 Fall Conference a success! We are pleased to announce the dates and location for the SMB Nation 2015 Fall Conference today as well:

Dates: October 2-4, 2015

Location: Microsoft Conference Center, Redmond, WA

Special: Pre-Day activities on October 1, 2015

Plan ahead to meet us in Redmond! We would love to see you!

Keep an eye on this site for more information as we get into the 2015 calendar year!

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Making the case for desktop backups

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By Casey Morgan, StorageCraft Technology Corporation

Is file-based backup enough for desktop units or should managed service providers be taking full, image-based backups of them? Proper desktop backups can be a value to them and a potential revenue source for you. I’ll share a story that looks at why your clients are best served by full, image-based backups, not simple file and folder backups.

My roommate mentioned a few months ago that the hard drive on her laptop was showing signs of impending failure. She had issues saving files, odd noises coming from inside, and so forth. I told her I had an extra copy of StorageCraft ShadowProtect and that she was welcome to use it to take a full backup of her system. “Nah, I’m ok, I’ve got my files backed up,” she said. I shrugged and said, “You know you’ll wish you had a full backup, right?” “I’m ok,” she said. I shook my head.

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New IBM Systems Released

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ibm logoIBM recently introduced a new range of systems designed to handle extensive computational data more efficiently than comparable systems; IBM’s new systems handle computational data at almost 20 percent better price/performance than competitor's processor-based systems. .

New IBM technologies are integrating member technologies from the OpenPOWER Foundation , including NVIDIA’s GPU accelerator technology.

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passportalPassportal recently announced that it will be making strategic enhancements to both its product development and team. This organization, based in Alberta, is a provider of secure and audited password management, with an MSP partner base of over 500 worldwide.

What’s driving this expansion? Well, Passportal representatives said that there has been a growth in the trend of RMM companies who are acquiring password management companies. According to Passportal CEO, Colin Knox, this has “shone a much needed spotlight on the importance of password security, management and control.”

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Client Advisory Boards

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Ken ThoresonBy Ken Thoreson, Acumen Management

At a recent client meeting we discussed the need to create a Board of Directors.   It is a difficult task to find the right individuals and more difficult for an entrepreneur to accept what a good board can provide. Another spin is creating a “Client Advisory Board”. This is easier to develop and can actually provide real value to your business as well as your sales process. Both topics are covered below. Let me know your thoughts? Experiences with these kinds of boards.

 

Our research shows that accountability -- or, more accurately, the lack of accountability -- is among the top challenges that partner-company executive’s face. We've also found that many partners are too close to their own organizations to have genuine insight into their own businesses, their marketplaces or their industries. Client Advisory Boards and Business Advisory Boards can help provide better visibility for both those blind spots.

 

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RapidFire Tools Releases Inspector Appliance

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RapidfireGood morning, SMB Nation Community, and welcome to the autumn season in the northern hemisphere. I just wanted to pass along an interesting bit of news from RapidFire Tools! I was recently able to speak with Michael Mittel, President and CEO, who gave me the rundown on his company’s latest offering: Inspector.

Let’s start with a bit of product background. The RapidFire Tools Inspector Application was released mid-September 2014, and its subscription has been designed to support more sophisticated IT assessments, such as internal vulnerability scans and layer 2-3 discovery. Interestingly, Inspector is an Application-as-a-Service with Software-as-a-Service attached, and is available to MSPs via an annual subscription.

I asked Michael about that particular model, as well as more about the application features:

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Big Oct 7A key theme that kept coming up at the recent SMB Nation Fall Conference was “How do we make more money from Office 365?” A main value proposition of Office 365 is that it’s easy to deploy and maintain, meaning that partners who were dependent on revenue from server installation and maintenance are having to adapt their business model. Thus, the message that attachedapps delivered at the Conference was very timely and very well received since their apps are designed for partners to generate additional revenue while filling in a key functionality gap in Office 365.

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voxox2Today, Voxox, a San Diego, CA-based unified communications company, announced that its Channel Partner Program has been recognized with three well-respected industry awards. To begin, the Voxox Partner Program was listed in the CRN 2014 Network Connectivity Services Partner Program Guide this past August, and will be featured in the CRN 2014 Cloud Computing Partner Program Guide, to be released later this month. Finally, the Voxox program placed as runner-up in the UC category of TMCnet’s Internet Telephony Channel Program Excellence Awards.

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