facebook 32 twitter 32 rss 32  

SMB Nation Blog

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

Recent blog posts

smb nation 15-years old editedHow do you celebrate something as big as SMB Nation’s 15th anniversary? I think its part reflection, part forward planning and part celebration. As the founder, I’m very proud that we created a company that supports ten families. These jobs simply didn’t exist before, and I appreciate, daily, the staff that we have and the long tenures amongst them (my key employees are approaching eight years). So first and foremost on my gratitude list is a huge THANK YOU to these staff members:

Hits: 61
0
Continue reading 0 Comments

Level 3 Acquires tw telecom

Posted by on in News

 

level3Level 3 Communications, Inc. today announced it completed acquisition of tw telecom, combining the companies to provide a comprehensive product portfolio to enterprise, government and carrier customers worldwide.

"Level 3 is helping customers migrate to the next wave of technology," Level 3 president and CEO Jeff Storey said. "We know our customers' needs are changing, and by bringing together these two great, customer-focused companies, we are taking the next step in the evolution of Level 3 and bringing us closer to realizing our vision of being the trusted connection to the networked world.”

Hits: 11
0
Continue reading 0 Comments

storagecraft smallYesterday, StorageCraft Technology Corporation announced that is has earned a spot on the MountainWest Capital Network’s Utah 100 list for the fourth year running. This list recognizes organizations that have excelled at growth within their area in the state.

On this year’s list, StorageCraft came in at number 19, a four-place improvement over the 2013 listing. The company has been recognized in the top 23 companies for all four years running, however. So, why the recognition? Well, as many of you remember, StorageCraft recently started building their new 125,000 ft2 corporate headquarters in Draper, UT. This is coupled with the opening of an international office in Ireland, as well as the company’s IT industry recognition for its BDR products.

Hits: 19
0
Continue reading 0 Comments

 

Ray Vrabel HeadshotBy Raymond Vrabel, Director, Technical Account Management, Continuum Managed IT Services

Part 9 of a monthly blog series examining tips on how MSPs can work to break “bad” business habits that they might unknowingly fall into as a result of just wanting to get things done.

In honor of October being designated as Cyber Security Awareness Month, it’s only fitting that this month’s blog focus on how MSPs can protect themselves (and their SMB clients) from cyber-attacks and other types of network disasters. With viruses like Cryptolocker and Cryptowall 2.0 running rampant, now is the time for SMBs to re-examine their BDR and security policies. Here are four important steps to take when examining security:

1.) Have a Reliable BDR Plan in Place: If you think that security breaches can only happen on an enterprise level, such as the recent hacks occurring within Target and Home Depot, you are fooling yourself. In fact, cybercriminals are now (at an alarming rate) targeting SMBs, which they often feel have fewer resources dedicated to cybersecurity. According to a 2013 survey by the National Small Business Association, 44 percent of small businesses have been victims of cyber-attacks, costing an average of $8,700 per attack. If those figures aren’t enough to get you talking to your clients, think about instances other than actual security breaches.

For example, how does a natural disaster like Hurricane Sandy wreak havoc for your clients’ networks? Two years ago, Sandy pummeled the East Coast and millions lost power; some for more than two weeks. I recall hearing a story of an MSP, who, prior to Sandy, was unsuccessful in getting his client, a doctor’s office in the New York metro region, to set up a BDR plan. He didn’t listen to the MSP, and unfortunately, because the client had his servers located in the basement of his building with no backup to speak of, all of his data, including confidential patient records, was destroyed.

I can’t reiterate enough how BDR is the number one most important technology that all SMBs need.

2.) Ensure Security Infrastructure and Processes: Once you’ve helped your client realize the importance of BDR, and you have the tools in place, work with your staff on a process of who will handle what for each client should a disaster occur. First and foremost: How will the disaster (by type) be handled (and by whom)? Also, make sure your help desk is equipped to handle these types of situations. The last thing you want is for your staff and techs to be scrambling around at the last minute trying to figure out a game plan. The most important thing to remember is: The least amount of downtime, and the quickest recovery time, minimizes negative impact of the disaster.

Aside from the technology component of disaster response, the business end of this plan must also be solid and in place. Understand expectations on both sides, and review your contracts and SLAs with all clients. If possible, combine all of the business aspects together into one cohesive and individual report, so they can be accessed quickly and efficiently. The last thing you need, especially after a service interruption or security breach, is to have to tell your client they have to pay extra or additional costs that neither of you had previously planned for.

3.) Educate your Clients on Safe Internet Habits: Make sure your clients and their staff are practicing safe searching while they are online, especially if they are accessing social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, etc., which can be platforms for virus attacks. If a link doesn’t look legitimate, it’s probably a virus or phishing scam.

A good example of this is the latest Cryptowall virus, which is disguised to look like a user is receiving a suspicious email with a ZIP or PDF attachment disguised as an invoice, purchase order or other business communication. MSPs should advise their clients to verify with the sender that they did in fact send the message prior to opening the attachment. Know that this can happen to anyone, at any time, even to the most tech-savvy of people. I recently received an email like this from one of my credit cards, regarding a past due bill, which I had already paid. A simple phone call to the company proved that the email was a hoax and I deleted it immediately.

4.) Frequent Anti-Virus Updates are Key: Aside from safe Internet searching, it’s paramount that every employee’s PC and relevant mobile device is up-to-date with anti-virus or anti-malware programs. While it’s great to have these in place, if they haven’t been updated in months, they can actually be more of a threat than a protector. Make sure your clients have best practices in place to ensure regular updates and patches are being installed. You can also save time by having the client’s employees learn how to do the updates themselves; it just takes a simple calendar reminder. Or, even better, have pre-scheduled, system-wide updates running. This is also something that you as the MSP can do for your own business. Map out a specific plan on how you handle updates and patches for you and your employees, and then share best practices with your clients.

Bottom line: When it comes to establishing a BDR/security plan, this is not something to be taken lightly – and it’s important to drive this point home with your clients. Start by sharing your own best practices including a reliable BDR, solid security processes, exercising safe Internet searches and updating anti-virus program regularly. Then if disaster or a cyber-attack does strike, both you and your clients are able to handle it with little to no down time.

 

Raymond Vrabel is Continuum's Director of Technical Account Management and participates in product and service growth initiatives. He manages Continuum's Technical Account Management team which supports over 3,500 partners worldwide. Vrabel has more than 15 years of experience in the IT industry, specializing in managed IT services, disaster recovery and cloud solutions. Follow him on Twitter: @rayvrabel.

 

Hits: 105
0
Continue reading 0 Comments

appriverSaaS provider AppRiver announced this week it’s joined the Microsoft Cloud Solution Provider Program. Through the program, AppRiver owns the customer lifestyle, giving partners opportunities to sell Office 365 subscription, own the entire billing process and directly manage support.

“AppRiver’s channel partners advocated strongly for just such a program that would allow them to maintain and control their customer relationships,” said Scott Paul, senior director of sales operations with AppRiver. “We were fortunate to be one of just a few companies worldwide to pilot that two-tier program and the results have been phenomenal. It’s exciting that more partners will now be able to take advantage of it.”

Hits: 43
0
Continue reading 0 Comments

OfficeUNLIMITED SISU finalBrandedWhatever you say, you gotta hand it to Microsoft that they are in it to win it with Office 365. But the win for customers will put extreme pressure on competitors both near and far. The nearby competitors are Google, Box and DropBox who will have to respond with adding more value or lower prices LOL). The ramifications extend to the financial markets where online storage IPOs will instantly look less attractive to investors. How do you compete with a free good? You don’t. Investing to a race to the bottom is insane.

Competitors further afield will have to truly continue to innovate to add value to distinguish offerings above that of OneDrive. One vendor, eFolder, already does this by providing better security, features and functionality.

Hits: 155
0
Continue reading 0 Comments

Zultys, Inc., a provider of IP phone systems and unified communications systems, released Zultys Cloud Services, a cloud-based IP phone system, unified communications system, contact center and SIP trunk services solution.

It’s based on the enterprise-class MX series of IP phone systems, versatile enough to be deployed for all business sizes, and provides the same features.

Hits: 29
0
Continue reading 0 Comments

Seattle-based Thursday Market launched its social referral network for service professionals earlier recently, giving consumers the ability to search for service business referrals from friends and neighbors and service professionals the chance to engage friends and neighbors of satisfied customers.

Hits: 30
0
Continue reading 0 Comments

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).

Hits: 73
0
Continue reading 0 Comments

Zendesk Launches Net Promoter Score Surveys

Posted by on in News

 

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.

Hits: 166
0
Continue reading 0 Comments

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.

Hits: 472
0
Continue reading 0 Comments

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.

Hits: 107
0
Continue reading 0 Comments

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.

Hits: 174
0
Continue reading 0 Comments

D&H Distributing Announces Agenda for Fall Show

Posted by on in News

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.

Hits: 168
0
Continue reading 0 Comments

 

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.

Hits: 168
0
Continue reading 0 Comments

 

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.

Hits: 747
0
Continue reading 0 Comments

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.

Hits: 491
0
Continue reading 0 Comments

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.

 

Hits: 198
0
Continue reading 0 Comments

A lot of SMB partners are wondering if they are leaving money on the table when selling Microsoft Office 365. The shift from on-premise to cloud-based products means potential disruption of traditional partner revenue streams, but there is still plenty of opportunity for SMB partners. One of those key areas is something that Harry talks a lot about: application layering. One of the best application layer products for SMBs that we have seen is attachedapps.

Basically, attachedapps are a set of subscription-based apps that are tightly integrated with Office 365 and Outlook, and let customers to do things like turn leads into contacts, manage sales pipelines, and provide customer support. All without having to deal with the expense and complexity of full-blown CRM products.

Hits: 4
0
Continue reading 0 Comments

 

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.”

Hits: 274
0
Continue reading 0 Comments

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)*

Hits: 240
0
Continue reading 0 Comments

GFI Introduces WebMonitor 2015

Posted by on in News

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.

Hits: 167
0
Continue reading 0 Comments

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:

Hits: 393
0
Continue reading 0 Comments

CIRCULATE!

Posted by on in Featured

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!

Hits: 286
0
Continue reading 0 Comments

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."

Hits: 284
0
Continue reading 0 Comments

Save the Date

Be sure to mark your calendars for SMB Nation's exciting upcoming events in 2015!

  • O365nation Tour:
    • Bellevue, WA: January 27, 2015
    • Silicon Valley, CA: January 29, 2015
    • Los Angeles/Irvine, CA: February 26, 2015
    • Chicago, IL: April 16, 2015
    • Dallas, TX: April 30, 2015
    • Washington, DC: May 16, 2015
  • Spring Conference: May 1-3, 2015
  • Fall Conference: October 2-4, 2015