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SMB Nation Blog

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

Recent blog posts

WatchGuardSeattle, WA-based network security company, WatchGuard Technologies, recently announced a series of enhancements to its partner program, set for general release in January 2015. As of this writing, the updated program is not available in Asia Pacific. The WatchGuardONE program has pivoted focus from pure volume sales to a blend between volume sales and a big emphasis on reseller training and certification.

I’d like to start with a bit of background on WatchGuard, to set the stage before we get into the meat and potatoes. This organization has been in the Leader section of Garther’s Unified Threat Management Magic Quadrant for four (4) consecutive years. In addition, WatchGuard has received industry recognition for its WatchGuard Dimension visibility solution.

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AppRiver Releases Mid-Year Global Security Report

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appriverEmail messaging and web security solutions provider AppRiver, LLC, released its mid-year Global Security Report, an analysis of threats and malware trends tracked during the first half of 2014.

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cumulusCumulus Networks today announced upcoming availability of Cumulus Linux 2.2, about a year after the original release of Cumulus Linux. The newest edition of Cumulus Linux supports 16 hardware platforms, two CPU architectures and five vendors, empowering customers with flexibility while providing high efficiency.

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SMB Nation and WSTA Annual Picnic August 21!

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It’s that time of year again. Join us at the Brelsford house on Bainbridge Island, WA Thursday, August 21, from 4:30-8:30 pm!

We’ll have the food, giveaways and drinks, but it’s up to you to bring yourselves for great conversation and networking.

This year’s picnic is sponsored by Puget Sound Energy and D&H.

Register for this event at: http://westsoundtechnology.org/events/upcoming-events/august-annual-picnic

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August 11 advertorial ad - FINALIn a previous article, I discussed how many technology companies don’t really understand that partners are the key to selling into the SMB customer space. Some companies seem to get this, and are taking a “partner first” sales strategy. However, just allowing partners to sell your product and/or receive referral fees is missing a key aspect of the channel: it’s really all about services. Margins on subscription products aren’t typically enough to keep the lights on for many partners, let alone pay for a retirement shack on a sleepy Caribbean island. Again, attachedapps gets this. They are building their apps and partner program to enable partners to build a robust services business in addition to receiving generous margins on sales of the apps.

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dandhjpgToday, D&H Distributing announced that it will be holding its annual, one-day New England Technology Show on August 12 in Quincy, MA. As of this writing, D&H is expecting over 500 reseller and dealer attendees to be at this event, slated to take place at the Boston Marriott Quincy Hotel.

Here’s an overview of the event agenda:

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verizonMiddle and High school students across the United States can enter the third Verizon Innovative App Challenge and create app concepts that solve problems in their schools and communities.

This challenge, designed to encourage youth interest in science, technology, engineering and math, lasts through Nov. 24. Teams will be judged on whether the concept solves community challenges, includes STEM principles, and is creative, unique and innovative.

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illiquidIn the world of business, investors have different liquidity preferences. For example, the investment portfolio of financial instruments such as stocks and certificates of deposit (CDs) are considered to be liquid. You can access the $$$ quickly. A real property portfolio top heavy in raw land real estate would be considered illiquid. The reason I’m seating the table herein is to weave in the world of Office 365.

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RapidfireRapidFire Tools announced that it is currently at the CompTIA ChannelCon 2014 event in Phoenix, AZ. At this event, taking place from today, August 4 through August 6, RapidFire Tools will be discussing IT Assessment Sales strategies.

In particular, RapidFire Tools will be demonstrating its latest HIPAA Compliance module, as well as the new multi-lingual reporting features of its flagship Network Detective solution.

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Unitrends logoData protection and disaster recovery company Unitrends achieved its 22nd consecutive quarter of record growth in Q2 2014.

Unitrends, within the past year, added 45 employees and 928 new customers and increased worldwide bookings by 51 percent and bookings throughout Europe, the Middle East, and Africa 770 percent.

Sales for Unitrends Enterprise Backup and Unitrends Virtual Backup grew 100 percent from the first half of 2013 to H1 2014.  ReliableDR grew more than 2,000 percent from H1 2013 to H1 2014.

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SherWeb announced it acquired ORCS Web Inc., a Windows-based managed hosting provider that will continue to operate as a SherWeb subsidiary.

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Show Me the Money!

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dollar signA day doesn’t pass without an inquiry from a sponsor/vendor/PR agency in the IT community proposing a great partnership. Those making this offer are well-schooled in a solicitation dialect that is ambiguous at best and deceptive at worst. In our experience, it’s been like the famous “money transfer scam,” repackaged in 2014 for the IT community.

Partnership Opportunity

Here is a representative e-mail from a vendor in the cloud space:

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

Part 6 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 the previous installment of “Breaking Bad,” I discussed why you shouldn’t miss your mid-year business check-up. In this month’s blog, I offer a how-to guide on navigating the upcoming busy trade show/events season. Our industry is a bevy of event activity throughout the year, however the fall season seems to be the busiest with “back-to-school” mode following summer break. There are various considerations behind an events plan, including objectives for attending specific events, budgeting time and money, and the plan of attack on-site.

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HP’s Forward Strategy

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HarryB HeadshotHP is capitalizing on the chaos in the server market right now with its new Smart Choice campaign. It’s aimed at educating and encouraging HP partners to sell into IBM server-side accounts. Why? Earlier this year, IBM stated its intentions to leave the server market. This follows its departure from the PC market in the 2005/6 time frame. It’s part of IBM’s reboot to become a cloud and services company. One man’s loss (IBM) and another man’s gain ((HP).

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ManageEngine Releases WiFi Monitor Plus

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Manage Engine logoRecently, ManageEngine announced the latest app available for its existing FreeTools program, which currently has 40+ apps available. The WiFi Monitor Plus app is a free, easy-to-use tool that IT Admins can use to monitor and analyze available WiFi networks in their area, all from an Android device.

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IBM Board of Directors Elects Two New Members

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ibm logoThe IBM board of directors elected Alex Gorsky and Peter Voser to the board, beginning September 1, 2014 and January 1, 2015, respectively. After their elections take effect, the board will have 14 members.

“We are delighted that Alex and Peter will be joining the IBM board of directors. Both are accomplished international business leaders. Alex and Peter each have deep and successful experience running information-intensive global enterprises and both are well known as pacesetters in innovation. Their expertise and insights will be extremely beneficial to IBM and our shareholders.”

Gorsky is the chairman and CEO of Johnson & Johnson and held multiple executive positions with Johnson & Johnson prior to being named CEO. He also serves on boards of the Travis Manion Foundation and the Congressional Medal of Honor Foundation.

Voser is a retired CEO of Royal Dutch Shell plc. He held various executive positions at the Dutch global energy and petrochemicals company and also served as CFO of the Asea Brown Boveri Group of Companies. He serves on the boards of a variety of organizations including Catalyst and the St. Gallen Foundation for International Studies and is the director of Roche Holding Ltd.

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TES Global Acquires Blendspace

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TES Global, a network of teachers worldwide with nearly 6 million registered teachers, has acquired Blendspace. Blendspace is a strategic acquisition for TES Global, as its web-based tools enable teachers to create self-paced digital lessons for students.

The Blendspace business and team will become part of Wikispaces, acquired by TES Global in February 2014. Previous Blendspace customers can continue to use Blendspace and premium features will now be available for free.

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According to Ancestory.com: “In general, we think of a generation being about 25 years - from the birth of a parent to the birth of a child.” With that understanding, by the end of this blog, you’ll either concur or dissent that we’re going to see the elimination of software piracy within the next 25-years. I look at Office 365 as a piracy elimination tool as Microsoft’s third greatest move. The first was acquiring the MS-DOS operating system from the north Seattle computer shop on the cheap (see the book “GATES” for details). The second was the creation of the Microsoft Most Valuable Professional (MVP) program where the best minds in the business provided no-cost technical support to customers on forum board and other “community goodness” vehicles.

This is how it will work:

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Site24x7 Launches Partner Program

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site247Cloud infrastructure monitoring service Site24x7 introduced its partner program that will enable cloud, platform and service providers to deliver website, server and application performance management.

Site24x7 provides low cost, robust application performance monitoring, which is ideal for SMBs and customers looking for comprehensive and customized solutions.

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Harryblog 7.29A common question and concern in the vendor community is the impact of Office 365. On the surface, Office 365 facilitates the notion of doing more with a lot less. That’s not good for OEMs selling servers and other vendors whose business models are predicated on growth. But there bright spots:

Pictured: IT Pros looking at Office 365-ready devices at a Windows 8.1 device bar at a recent workshop in Toronto, Onatrio Canada

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SkyKick lands $3M in financing

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SkyKick 300x300Like the Cloud technologies fueling the market, cloud migration is creating major opportunities for IT services companies and their investors. Thus it is unsurprising that SkyKick, a Seattle-based start-up that specializes in Office 365 migrations, has secured $3 million in funding – bringing total investment in the company to $7.2 million.

“This round will help us reach thousands more partners around the globe,” said SkyKick co-Founder and co-CEO Todd Schwartz in a statement.

The company plans to use the money to double its staff from 40 to 80 people and to seize the global opportunity for automating Office 365 migrations, including the sales, planning, migration and management.

To date, SkyKick has helped thousands of IT solution providers and distributors like Ingram Micro and SYNNEX Corporation move thousands of businesses to Office 365. Its founding team consists of co-CEOs Evan Richman and Todd Schwartz, who held various leadership positions on Microsoft's Office and Bing teams, and CTO Brad Younge, a member of the founding team at Drugstore.com.

This rounds also adds several strategic private equity investors as well as some notable angel investors such as investor/advisor to Facebook, Twitter and Urber, Tim Ferris, former Qwikki COO, Navin Thukkaram, and Ironfire Capital.

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ricohRicoh Americas Corporation announced the release of the Ricoh App for Google Cloud Print web printing services, which will make its business-class printers and multifunction products compatible with Google Cloud Print.

This application allows organizations to print from devices with Internet access without the need for costly print servers and drivers, lowering the cost of business-class document services.

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Microsoft LogoEarlier today, Microsoft announced that it has expanded its recent Microsoft Software and Systems Academy (MSSA) to include two new military bases in the Southwest. The two additions are Camp Pendleton in California, and Fort Hood in Texas, which are two of the largest bases in the country.

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ABIABI Research analysis indicates that OEM and Aftermarket Telematics will become dominant sectors for cellular M2M connections, growing to at least a 40 percent connection.

As OEM and Aftermarket Telematics become dominant, advanced metering infrastructure and remote monitoring and control are expected to lose their positions as top market share for cellular connections.

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As a small business owner, you probably know a thing or two about marketing. After all, getting word out and spreading the message about your goods and services is how you grow your business. So here's a question for you: What does potato salad have to do with your marketing? The chances are, unless you're running a salad bar, relatively little. But now there's a marketing lesson to be learned from this popular side dish thanks to a young, and hungry man, called Zack Brown.

Zack started a Kickstarter campaign, perhaps half jokingly, to raise the money to make a potato salad. He was only seeking $10 but his savvy campaign has now raised $52,000 in donations to date. That's a lot of green stuff going into just one salad!

Kickstarter is a crowdfunding platform that attracts entrepreneurs, musician, artists, designers, authors or anyone else looking to raise some money for their project. In exchange for a donation, users receive a reward. For example, if a band is trying to record a new album, a small-time donor might receive a digital download of the album while someone investing more could be offered an autographed vinyl version of the album.

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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