SMB Nation Blog

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

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Continuum Launches Collaborate to Connect MSP Partners

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continuumContinuum , the sole channel-exclusive provider of fully integrated managed solutions, launched private forum Collaborate to allow its 3,500 MSP partners to connect, share and learn.

Collaborate offers more support features than Continuum’s current partner support portal in an effort to educate partners and equip them with resources so they can compete effectively for business.

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Online Fall Conference Just Added!

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220x150While your intentions are good to try to attend the in-person 12th annual SMB Nation Fall conference, sometimes it’s not possible. But it’s now possible to attend online and listen to the Business (B) and Technical (T) speeches. Using Lync, we will broadcast three days of academic Office 365, Server 2003 EOS and many more lectures for just $99. For you, it’s the ability to participate from afar in the comfort of your office (or home) without time away and travel and accommodation expenses.

So what are the next steps?

  • Discover what the conference can offer you at fall2014.smbnation.com.
  • Note the times and dates. The conference is the weekend: Friday September 26 to Sunday September 28                                                                                                                          
  • Register for the online event via this registration link: https://www.regonline.com/Register/Checkin.aspx?EventID=1573788
  • Order your pizza and make your popcorn for three-days of jam packed content!
  • Hurry – online attendance is limited to 250 participants.

If you have any questions, call SMB Nation at 206-201-2943 and speak with Edna at extension 105.

Notice: In order to offer you this subsidized online attendee rate of $99, you agree to allow SMB Nation to share your contact details with the conference sponsors.

 

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Registration Link: https://www1.gotomeeting.com/register/177730585

Thursday, September 25, 2014 10:00-11:00 AM PDT

Presented by: Harry Brelsford, Founder and Chairman, SMB Nation

It’s not about hitting home runs. It’s about consistently getting base hits and having a high batting average when it comes to MSP success. Discover how old school biz dev practices, such as lunch-and-learns really really work. And you can do it all for under $100 (catering included). Bottom line – if you are not selling into your customer community, you are leaving money on the table. This webinar, hosted by Harry Brelsford, digs deep into the vaunted Microsoft Community Connections program and walks you through the mechanics of easily acquiring new customers for a very low acquisition cost. This is a “must do.”

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Microsoft Satisfaction Results Released!

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Turns out you still love Microsoft! Like a long-term marriage, there are ebbs and flows in the relationships. You’ve had your peaks and valleys in the Microsoft relationship, but at the end of the day, we’re family, and blood is thicker than water. Such are the findings in my well-received Microsoft Satisfaction survey for partners. I’ll share the results here.

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The week that was – Sept. 22, 2014

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It’s easy to think that the only IT news worth knowing to start the week starts with the new iPhone 6, continues with Microsoft layoffs (probably carefully timed to coincide with the iPhone news so it would get drowned out of the news cycle) and finishes with the new iPhone again. That would be a misperception though. Sure, what Apple CEO Tim Cook gushed about his “better in every way” and “best iPhone yet” device which sold more than 4 million pre-orders in the first 24 hrs of availability – making a moderate splash. But other things did happen this week in IT Land.

Microsoft to buy Minecraft maker for $2.5B

It wasn’t all dark news from Microsoft this week. The company made the widely rumored $2.5 microsoft logo-100029828-gallerybillion deal to acquire Sweden’s Mojang, maker of the popular game Minecraft, official. Minecraft has about 100 million users worldwide and made about $100 million in profit last year, making the price tag a bit surprising. However, the growing popularity of the game may have posed a threat to Microsoft’s Xbox market leading some industry observers to think that the move was a defensive one. One must also consider the value of the connected community Minecraft has built. In and of themselves connected communities are inherently valuable. Amazon paid $970 million for Twitch and its million-odd users recently. The majority of Mojang’s 40 employees will join Microsoft Studios, which brought you Halo, Forza and Fable. However, the people that actually created Minecraft, Markus Persson, Carl Manneh and Jakob Porser, will be leaving to start new projects.

Home Depot lifts lid on investigation into massive breach

The fallout from the Home Depot data breach continued to rain down this week, with the home reno home depotretailer issuing a statement detailing the attacks, the measures the company has taken to address the weakness and the cost of those measures. To start with, Home Depot failed to properly deploy data encryption capabilities, opening a window of attack that gave criminals access to as many as 56 million credit and debit cards between April and September 2014.

According to the statement, the investigation discovered a new malware, customized to avoid detection. “The malware had not been seen previously in other attacks, according to Home Depot’s security partners. To protect customer data until the malware was eliminated, any terminals identified with malware were taken out of service, and the company quickly put in place other security enhancements.”

The whole incident should serve as a massive lesson for retailers and IT services pros who support them. Expenses related to this breach will top $62 million, with about $27 million coming back from the company’s data breach insurance. The final tally has yet to be counted though, with additional expenses coming from paying banks and processors for credit card fraud and card replacement costs.

SAP acquires Concur for $8.3Bsap-logo

SAP announced plans to buy Seattle’s Concur Technologies for $8.3 billion. Concur makes a SaaS-based software package that manages corporate travel and entertainment expenses – including travel booking, corporate credit cards, reimbursements and audits – and runs TripIt, a popular mobile travel organizer. Details about the deal are sketchy as the deal hasn’t closed. The two companies are expecting regulatory approval by the end of the calendar year.

Cisco buys both Memoir Systems and Metacloud

In separate deals, networking giant Cisco announced plans to purchase Memoir Systems, a privately held semiconductor memory vendor, and Metacloud, which develops and sells OpenStack-based private clouds. Financial terms weren’t disclosed for either deal. Santa Clara, Calif.-based Memoir Systems sells embedded memory solutions that make vendors' ASICs faster and more programmable. According to Cisco the Memoir technology will accelerate the memory access of its ASICs and the speeds of its switches, routers and other networking equipment. The Metacloud acquisition is expected to drive Cisco’s Intercloud play. Metacloud, based in Pasadena, Calif., was founded in 2011 and claims to deliver a full public cloud experience – including all the self-service capabilities, OpenStack APIs and integrated developer tools – only with the security and control of a private environment. Cisco's Metacloud announcement plans comes only a few days after HP announced it will acquire Eucalyptus, which provides of open-source software for building private clouds.

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The Cloud Security Alliance today released Cloud Usage: Risks and Opportunities. Survey results from IT and security professionals worldwide indicate they perceive their organization has significantly fewer apps running in the cloud than reported by vendors and researchers.

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Dell Logo amllDell has shown significant growth in software offerings and revenue through its PartnerDirect partner program. Channel partners and Dell Software have embraced the opportunity, securing partners associated rebates with the sale of Dell products and substantial deal registration and revenue growth—with deal registration up 61 percent and revenue growth up 15 percent year over year—for Dell.

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autotaskEvolving from an hourly-fee based break/fix (B/F) service model to one that includes a managed services (MS) recurring-revenue model provides benefits to both IT Service Providers (ITSPs) and their clients.

Read the rest of this article at:

http://www.autotask.com/about-us/press-room/details/2014/09/02/autotask-introduces-new-smart-it-guide-5-steps-to-pricing-managed-services

 

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snom Logosnom technology AG  today introduced its new lineup of IP-based cordless DECT products, expected to improve coverage, reliability and features.

The snom M65 IP DECT phone and M700 multi-cell base station will be released in October, and the M5 DECT repeater will be released later this year.

“Our M65 DECT phone and M700 base station represents a new generation of feature-rich mobility for business users,” said Tom Ostrander, Director of North American Channel Sales. “These new products offer expanded range, and more features and flexibility for administrators to easily increase the number of users while maintaining performance.”

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microsoft logo-100029828-galleryMicrosoft pulled the trigger on another 2,100 employees today, executing the second wave of its record layoff plan that will eventually cut 18,000 positions – 14 percent of its global workforce. The first 13,000 cuts happened in July when the software giant first announced the plan.

Today’s cuts, 747 of which strike the Seattle area, are being made across all roles and teams as CEO Satya Nadella attempts to simplify engineering operations and management processes, as detailed in a July memoto staff. In the memo he said the goal was to have “fewer layers of management, both top down and sideways, to accelerate the flow of information and decision making.”

Of the 18,000 total cuts 12,500 hit the recently acquired Nokia division – an acquisition driven by former CEO Steve Ballmer which Nadella is widely reputed to have opposed.

Also apparently affected by today’s moves is the company’s Mountain View, Calif.-based research facility, Microsoft Research Silicon Valley. The lab, which opened in August 2001 employs more than 75 researchers focused on distributed computing, including Derek Murray who tweeted that the lab would close this Friday, Sept. 18.

With today’s cuts, Microsoft still has 2,900 positions to eliminate – most of which the company says will be resolved by the end of the calendar year. The layoffs are expected to be complete by the end of Microsoft’s fiscal year end in June.

 

Tagged in: Microsoft
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envoyDataMotion , an email encryption provider, and Envoy Data Corporation, an IT security solutions specialty distributor, agreed to a partnership that will strengthen Envoy Data’s product portfolio and help its North American resellers sell to a mid-sized enterprise market.

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Truck Stop “Stops” Offering Faxing Services…

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fax information super highway editedOn the surface, this isn’t news. But dig a layer deeper and there is a story about “innovate or perish” here. On my recent trip to the D&H Distributing Canada show in Toronto, I drove by, made a U-turn and took the following photo. The saying that a picture is worth a thousand words applies here. You are looking at a shuddered truck that niched on offering faxing and other services to long-haul truckers. I’d offer it’s a sort about technology relevancy.

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christa champOver the years, readers have followed the challenges and successes of my niece, Christa Brelsford. Today, I am happy that I can report success, and there is a lesson learned for all of us in the SMB IT Pro community experiencing “disruption” in our profession. Stick with me and think about this the next time you complain that “they took away Small Business Server.”

Pic 1. Christa Brelsford won gold at the IFSC Paraclimbing World Championship - Gijon (ESP) 2014 this past weekend.

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About PowerSource Online

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PSO banner 220X150Since its creation in 1997, PowerSource Online has helped thousands of computer parts and telecom equipment buyers to efficiently source used, refurbished and surplus IT and telecom systems, parts and equipment for their PCs and laptops, central office, VoIP and business telephony systems, storage components, point of sale systems, wireless networks and networking operations.

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How secure is your website?

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Pronto Logo2Hackers don’t care that you have a business to run. They’re just looking to exploit your site for their own gains. One day, you have a nice beautiful site. The next, it’s littered with links to shady pharmaceutical websites.


While you probably don’t need to be worrying about your site getting hacked every minute of everyday, it is a real and serious threat to your online presence. But, if you take the right steps, it’s something you’ll never have to worry about.

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attachedapps advertorial and home page ad for Sept 22Have you made the transition to Office 365 (or planning to)? If so, you don’t want to miss out on the next BIG revenue opportunity. Check out attachedapps. They found a way for partners to generate even more revenue while adding additional value to your Office 365 customers. In fact, conservative estimates show a partner that sells one of their apps to just 2 customers monthly can earn an estimated $100K+ in referral fees and services add-ons in the first year alone!

What are attachedapps, you might ask? They are powerfully simple apps that solve the #1 pain of SMB customers who are using Office 365: retaining, managing and growing their customers. Here’s a quick rundown:

  • attachedContacts: Converts leads to contacts. Integrates and syncs to and from Outlook, and allows up to 99 users to easily share contacts across the company and devices. All for free.
  • attachedContacts+: Enables additional security and admin. Capabilities, and allows partners to function as their customers’ administrator for an unlimited number of users. $3/user/month
  • attachedSales: Converts contacts to sales. Supports sales pipeline management, tracking and customizable reporting. $7/month
  • attachedCustomers: Keeps customers happy and buying more. Enables tracking and follow-up capabilities to grow your customers. $7/month

attachedapps has a true “partner-first” strategy. Their unique partner program enables you to generate revenue through generous, perpetual referral fees, and by adding your own services on top of their apps. They also just announced a Preferred Partner Program for partners that sign up before November 31. Bonuses include:

  •      Higher referral fees that double your referral fee percentage in year 2
  •      Priority placement on their partner locator
  •      Lifetime Partner Account Manager (PAM) support
  •      Lifetime Partner Advisory Council membership
  •      Co-marketing assistance

Become an attachedapps Preferred Partner today, and start generating even more revenue. Sign up at www.attachedapps.com/partners or call (425) 615-7008.

Oh yeah, be sure to stop by their booth at the SMB Nation Fall Conference and let them show you the next BIG thing for Office 365 partners!

 

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DDoS and advanced threat protection solution provider Arbor Networks announced it received several commendations at the 2014 Golden Bridge Awards program, including Gold for Mobile Network Security, Gold for Network Security Innovation and Bronze for Security Service Innovation.

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AvnetGlobal IT solutions distribution leader Avnet Technology Solutions, an operating group of Avnet, Inc., today announced its Avnet Services business unit is working with the Linux Foundation to offer popular Linux courses through Avnet Academy in both online and classroom settings worldwide.

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The week that was – September 14, 2014

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It’s been a tremendously busy week in the IT world. We’re going to start with IT Slowdown Day. You may have noticed some of your connections taking longer to load on Wednesday. This was the result of a one-day protest by many popular websites, including Mozilla, Netflix, Vimeo and our friends at AVG, who displayed a number of symbolic “loading” graphics to show you what your Internet might look like if the big Cable companies win the right to extort companies by constricting bandwidth. The goal of the protest was to encourage you to contact lawmakers and tell them to support Net Neutrality before the FCC’s Sept. 15 deadline for public comments. This is an issue that should be near and dear to your hearts. After all, how many new clients are you – an IT expert – going to land if every prospect visiting your website has to wait while your site loads? Either you don’t know how to build a website or you aren’t big and successful enough to pay for decent bandwidth. Either way you are screwed. You can find out more at https://www.battleforthenet.com/.

Autotask finally adds RMM with CentraStage

Autotask logoNot too long ago speculation was rife about Autotask and RMM. Connectwise picked up Labtech, Kaseya got acquired and private equity bought into N-Able. As someone working at Level Platforms at the time I recall many conversations about the way the professional services automation market seemed to be following the same evolutionary path Enterprise Resource Planning systems did. Essentially we expected to be using Autotask business cards before too long. Then AVG acquired LPI and East Greenbush, NY-based Autotask was left without an RMM option. So what were they going to do? We continued to speculate, as did many others in the industry, but nothing happened. Nothing happened for so long that the conversation went from who-will-they to will-they to have-they-missed-the-boat?

This week they finally did, picking up UK-based cloud RMM player CentraStage – possibly kicked into motion by the company’s new paymasters, Vista Equity Partners (which bought Autotask in June). Autotask and CentraStage already have a relationship, with CentraStage being one of 20 RMM packages integrated into Autotask’s PSA platform, and so over the past couple of years an increasing degree of intimacy has developed. According to Autotask, those other integrations will not change in any way and MSPs who rely on them won’t suffer, but the CentraStage acquisition – which is expected to close within three week – will drive a much deeper integration and introduce increased management capabilities. For example, customers who work with both companies will be able to receive a single invoice and engage with a single support team. The exact nature of those technology integrations are still being worked out.

WAN-as-a-service startup, VeloCloud, launches first partner program

velocloudLos Altos, Calif.-based VeloCloud launched its first channel partner program. The startup recently raised $21 million in financing and is using some of that money to kick start is sales efforts – effort the company says will be entirely channel-based. Thus the new VeloCloud Partner Program is aimed at MSPs and IT solution providers who want to deliver cloud-based WANs to midsize and large enterprise customers. The VeloCloud technology is designed to extend the benefits of cloud and virtualization to the enterprise or branch office WAN. To start with, VeloCloud is recruiting partners with footprint in specific vertical markets, including retail, hospitality, engineering, and mining and gas. Like most partner programs, the VeloCloud iteration will be tiered (Platinum, Gold and Silver) with perks like MDF and discounts improving as partners move up the ranks based on their VeloCoud sales volumes.

Xerox gets friendly with the channel

xeroxXerox wants to be more channel-friendly and in keeping with that the Norwalk, Conn.-based printer vendor rolled out a series of changes to its hardware, software and services lines that it hopes will help drive partner revenues. Traditionally, Xerox has earned a reputation for neglecting the channel in favor of its direct sales efforts – this despite the fact that the channel accounts for more than 50 percent of the company’s sales. According to John Corley, who took over as Xerox’s channel chief just a few days earlier, the company wants to see that number climb into the 65-70 percent range.

ConnectKey 1.5 --Xerox is adding four new printers to the ConnectKey platform. The new A4 devices are a direct response to demand from partners.

Personalized Application BuilderA new Authorized Developer Program will extend the company’s Personal Application Builder beyond ISVs to include channel partners. Going forward Xerox's 10,000-odd channel partners will be able to build custom applications for their customers and become certified to sell those applications to other partners.

Xerox PageConnect Services – Xerox PageConnect Services is expanding. Managed print services is definitely making a splash in the market and this program, which Xerox first announced in April as a MPS-oriented rebrand of its Basic Print Services, is designed to provide a way for channel partners to provide related Xerox offerings.

Xerox Small Office Savings Plan – This innovative new plan (Xerox claims it’s the first of its kind) channel partners can give SMB customers a free printer if they sign up for a plan that will deliver consumable supplies like toner and paper and services for a monthly fee ranging from $59 to $149.

 

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Registration Link: https://www1.gotomeeting.com/register/784313752

Date: Thursday, September 18, 2014 10:00-11:00 AM PDT

Presented by: George Anderson, Webroot and Harry Brelsford, Founder and Chairman, SMB Nation

Customers are looking for ways to increase their IT prowess without increasing their IT spend. VARs that are holding on to the traditional hardware, break/fix model of business soon will find themselves left behind by customers who need 24/7 support from a reliable services provider.

In this webinar we'll discuss how you can evolve your business into a services-based model that can increase your customer base and your monthly revenue:

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storagecraft smallSeptember is the Federal Emergency Management Association’s (FEMA) disaster preparedness month. This means a number of things for you and your family, but as you’re making your disaster plans for earthquakes, tornados, floods, and so forth, don’t forget about your business and any businesses you provide services to.

The first question to ask yourself is this: do you have a formal, written disaster plan? If not, it’s time to make one. The first things to consider are your employees.

Keeping a business running after a disaster is important, but it’s not as important as the wellbeing of the people around you. A good disaster preparedness plan will include more than just getting systems back online. It will also lay out expectations you have for employees or clients and expectations they have for you. If a disaster happens while you’re all at work (a very likely scenario) do employees know what to do if there’s an earthquake? What about a tornado? Do they know the procedure for what to do after any disaster?

The other side of this is what if a disaster happens while employees are not in the office? Will they know what to do the following day? It’s important to think about how you’ll communicate with your employees or clients following a disaster. Certain methods of communication may not work in large catastrophes, but it’s important to find something that does.

There are lots of methods to communicate after a disaster. In fact, you might be able to send emails and update social media pages, but if all systems are down, you might be out of luck. That is, unless you have equipment prepared well ahead of time. Think carefully about how to communicate if the Internet and cell services are down.

Once the human aspect has been sorted, you need to think about your backup and recovery plan. Your disaster plan will probably cover human elements like those we mentioned above, but a backup and disaster recovery plan for your equipment is much different. We won’t go into the minutiae of building a plan here because there are some very detailed guides available that can do the subject more justice.

Once you’ve established expectations for different scenarios above, make sure appropriate protocols are in your written, formalized plan. Now share the plan with employees so everybody knows what to do. Once that’s done, the final and most important part of your plan is testing it, which should be your primary goal for disaster preparedness month. If you can test your plan and everything goes well, you’ll know you’re ready.

Whether we’re talking about your business or a client’s, you’ll really want to schedule a day to test disaster recovery plans. This way you can verify that people know what to do, and that your equipment can be put back online without any time or money-consuming hiccups.

Disaster testing sounds boring, but if you’re like Google, it can be fun. Google has been known to have themes for their disaster recovery tests. They’ll attribute various disaster scenarios to fictional attacks by everything from zombies to aliens, just to make a dull subject a little more interesting. Disaster testing doesn’t have to be boring, but it does have to be done if you hope to be ready for whatever nature throws at you.

How are you preparing for disaster preparedness month?

 

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etouches , a provider of cloud-based event management enterprise software, and Salesforce.com, the largest CRM provider, announced strengthened integration intended to provide a more responsive system and allow for sophisticated workflows

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biggerbrainsBigger Brains recently announced that it has started a special Kickstarter campaign with three new “Brain Bites” videos aimed at helping MSPs and their clients increase productivity. Each video is 10 minutes long and the subjects released deal with Email Management, File Organization and Time Management.

As a special offer for MSPs who back the Bigger Brains campaign, the company is offering a special reward for those who donate either $120 or $160 that will allow the MSP to custom-brand the course for their clients.

The reason behind this campaign hits home for Bigger Brains President, Chip Reaves: “I was working with an attorney recently, helping them with an email issue. He had a terrible email setup – over 20,000 emails in his Outlook inbox and no subfolders.  He deleted spam, but otherwise everything he ever received was kept in his inbox, until the system inevitably overloaded and crashed every few years, at which point his former IT consultant would move a block of emails into an archive PST.”

Bigger Brains will be running this Kickstarter campaign until October 3rd, 2014. Check out the campaign here.

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vmwareEnterprise Mobility Management provider Airwatch by VMware today introduced AirWatch AppShield, which allows organizations to secure data, enforce compliance policies and control the development, deployment, and security of critical business applications.

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Harry on the Road

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dandh show bostonOur very own Harrybbb will be on the road this week! Stop by and see him in Boston, MA, and at his Beerfest in Newton, Ma tonight, and at the D&H show in Toronto later this week.

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