SMB Nation Blog

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

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Super Bowl Payoff

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lost super bowl betI’m a humble bumble today.

A few weeks ago, I made a friendly bet with Boston-based Continuum, concerning Super Bowl 49. If my beloved Seattle Seahawks won, I was to receive two Lobsters as my payoff from Shannon Kohn Mayer, who recently moved from LogMeIn to Continuum and has a channel role. If the New England Patriots won (which they did 28-24 late in the 4th quarter of the Super Bowl game), I am obligated to deliver Pacific Northwest salmon and coffee to Shannon’s desk in downtown Boston on my next trip. This will likely be in mid-August when I attend the D&H New England Show. You can see in the pic that I’m posing with the booty while wearing a Belichick hoodie.

shannon continuum lobster bet

Shannon Kohn Mayer, Senior Marketing Programs Manager at Continuum.

Mayer, shown in the picture, commented: “Recently, our #Boston office had a friendly competition with SMB Nation Founder, Harry Brelsford. If the Seattle Seahawks beat the New England Patriots, we would have had to send him TWO lobsters from James Hook and Company... Sorry, Harry! These guys are staying put!”

So what’s the take away from this? Not much really in terms of IT business but a lot in terms of relationships. Have fun. Enjoy the ride. And as for the game, congratulations to the Pats for a comeback victory. Everyone loves a comeback. For the Hawks, I’d offer being a risk taker got us to the Super Bowl but if not for that last play, I’d be enjoying two lobsters!

 

Kaseya logoKaseya today announced availability of Release 9, which adds a brand new mobility management solution, as well as the launch of Kaseya’s new private cloud infrastructure. I had the chance to speak with Kaseya President and CEO, Yogesh Gupta about the development of this new release, and what it aims to do for SMBs.

I’d like to start this article with a friendly reminder about Kaseya: their team is focused purely on the SMB sector. In addition, for the past 18 months, the company has been consistently rolling out product portfolio updates via its innovative agile development methodology. These updates are oftentimes based on feedback from the Kaseya user community, and what they want in a solution. The approach here is more “how do people want to use technology,” as opposed to “this is how you use it.”

Dan and JeffCloudMSP recently announced that it will be the first North American cloud VAR to offer the Zynstra Hybrid IT Solution via the channel. As many of you remember, Zynstra launched in NorAm, following major success in the European arena.

The major features of the Zynstra appliance are:

AxcientAxcient, a cloud-based Recovery-as-a-service provider, announced today immediate availability of the newest version of its granular recovery for Microsoft Exchange offering.

“This upgrade to our granular recovery for Exchange solution allows Axcient to offer a powerfully simple solution for e-discovery that is unmatched in the market,” said Justin Moore, CEO at Axcient. “Our customers now have a more efficient and faster way to protect and recover their MS Exchange databases at a lower cost than alternatives in the market. With today’s announcement, we’re continuing our commitment to provide the industry’s most comprehensive Business Recovery Cloud solution, in order to protect IT infrastructure across organizations, no matter the size.”

Field Nation Launches Android App

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fieldnationField Nation, a work platform that connects independent contractors and organizations, launched today its mobile app for Android-based systems.

“The new Field Nation app is faster and easier to navigate, from work order acceptance to completion and payment,” said Travis Emslander, Chief Technology Officer at Field Nation. “Now service providers can perform work order tasks in the field as they are completed and respond to new work opportunities in a timely way. Plus, organizations gain real-time visibility and faster response rates to existing and new work orders. It’s a win/win for providers and businesses using the Field Nation platform.”

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

The first installment of a new monthly blog series offering tips and best practices on various ways MSPs can help their SMB clients work through the most challenging daily business issues.

Throughout last year, in my Breaking Bad blog series, I discussed various tips on how MSPs can break the cycle of various “bad” business habits. We covered everything from getting to know your customers,how to combat business complacency, and how to bring out the best in your employee talent. In keeping with that same theme, I would like to welcome you to this year’s new blog series, “Better Call an MSP”. And, if you’re wondering whether we’re playing off the upcoming “Breaking Bad” AMC spin-off series, “Better Call Saul,” you are correct!

GO HAWKS!

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Jenny and Edna 12th ManAs many of you know, SMB Nation has its HQ in western, WA, just outside of Seattle. This means that we are throwing our support behind our own Seattle Seahawks to win the 49th annual Super Bowl, taking place this Sunday at 3:30 pm PST.

Pictured: Jenny and Edna showing 12th Man Pride

GO HAWKS!

 

appriverAppRiver, an email messaging and Internet security solutions provider, announced today its selection as a finalist in the 2015 Stevie Awards for Sales & Customer Service.

“In a world of off-shore call centers, detached IT Help and increasingly complicated solutions, AppRiver has given tech a name, a face, a personal touch- qualities that are increasingly rare in the Digital Age,” said James Wirth, director of support at AppRiver. “We try to create a positive customer experience from first contact to post-op support.”

Decisive  Logo White BackgroundCanada-based Decisive Technologies announced today it has further extended relationships with myriad industry companies, including Cisco, HP and VMware, which contributes to its position as one of Canada’s largest specialized Enterprise IT Infrastructure providers.

“It has been an interesting year to say the least,” Decisive Technologies President Mike Smith said. “The hard work and dedication of everyone at Decisive has been instrumental in growing this company into one of the largest specialty IT infrastructure companies in the nation. Our relentless and ongoing focus on building a tremendous team of specialists, one that has such extensive real-world experience solving real-world problems, is an investment that continues to deliver returns—both for us, and for our clients. Their pride and dedication in designing, building, and implementing enterprise solutions that help our clients grow their business is what will continue to separate us from our competition.”

Decisive underwent a full rebrand within the past few months, creating a communication infrastructure designed to better cater to its clients.

 

sage logoI recently had the opportunity to speak with Connie Certusi, Executive Vice President of Small Business Solutions at Sage about a blog she posted to a women in business site. Connie opened our conversation by saying that, as people are making individual resolutions, the start of the new year is a great time for SMB owners to take stock of their business and look at key focus points for the year.

In the Sage blog, the four key recommendations for SMB owners in 2015 are: Embrace the Cloud, Keep an eye on regulatory issues, Go mobile and Don’t forget your customer. Let’s take a look at each one of these in a bit more detail.

Voxox Introduces Cloud Phone Pro

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voxox2Voxox, a cloud-based rich communication service, announced today Cloud Phone Pro, a hosted VoIP solution designed to serve both SMBs and large businesses.

Cloud Phone Pro provides a fully-hosted solution that allows customers to replace existing phone service and continue use of the same devices.

Unitrends Releases Version 4.0 of ReliableDR

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Unitrends logoUnitrends today announced that the Unitrends ReliableDR 4.0 solution is now generally available. This version extends recovery capabilities to Microsoft Hyper-V environments.

“With ReliableDR 4.0, we now offer storage replication, Microsoft Hyper-V as well as VMware vSphere replication, and integration of ReliableDR with Unitrends Recovery-Series, Unitrends Enterprise Backup, and Unitrends Virtual Backup platforms,” said Mark Campbell, Chief Marketing and Technology Officer, Unitrends.

Unitrends ReliableDR 4.0 is available via a certified reseller, and is positioned as an add-on to the company’s virtual and physical backup appliances. Key features include:

pivotalPivotal announced 2014 marked record growth worldwide in adoption and sales of Pivotal Cloud Foundry, booking about $40 million in software sales.

“2014 marked a new era of enterprise cloud innovation, driven by tremendous business demands on IT to deliver next generation consumer services and industrial technologies,” said James Watters, Pivotal Vice President Cloud Platform Group. “Cloud Foundry became the world's fastest growing open source product ever with companies in all major geographies and vertical markets moving to an open cloud platform.”

Digium Announces Availability of Switchvox Rescue

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digium logoDigium, Inc. today announced Switchvox Rescue, a business continuity solution to protect Switchvox on-premises business phone system customers against unexpected phone system unavailability or failure.

“Switchvox Rescue offers customers an easy way to maintain communications continuity in the face of disaster,” said Adam Kramer, product manager for the Switchvox product line. “Digium’s Switchvox platform is unique in that the same core software is shared between the on-site and hosted versions. By adding our SIP Trunking services to the equation, we can offer a temporary, cloud-based recovery option in a way that is both reliable and effortless for our customers.”

jan 27 o365 tour bellevue1Welcome to new world of Office 365 critical mass. Yesterday at Microsoft Advanta, over 100 IT Pros gathered for the kick-off Office 365 Nation community group workshop. Bright and early, subject matter expert Grant Thompson started with well-received lectures on Click-to-Run Deployments and Line of Business application deployments and Migrations. Later in the day, Melanie Gass delivered speeches on Office 365 Licensing, SharePoint and OneDrive. She concluded later with a “night school” session on how MSPs can make money with Office 365.

The “Best of Show” award went to SkyKick with its audience wowing academic conversation on the hot topic of the day: Office 365 migrations. Other highlights included a largely paperless conference experience where surveys and alerts were handled by a dedicated mobile app.

Dell Logo smallDell announced today release of Dell KACE K1000 Systems Management Appliance version 6.3, which includes increased functionality and visibility, as well as the addition of systems management support for Chromebook.

“With the proliferation of mobile and smart devices connected to corporate networks, it is imperative for organizations to make systems management a top priority,” said David Kloba, vice president and general manager of Endpoint Systems Management for Dell. “We’re redefining systems management by delivering a comprehensive, easy-to-deploy anypoint management solution for hundreds to tens of thousands of computers and devices, helping IT to significantly reduce costs.”

Spiceworks logoSpiceworks recently announced the results of its 2015 IT Budget Report, a survey of 600 IT Pros in the US and EMEA countries, conducted between September and October 2014. Participants were asked a few questions regarding their predictions for 2015 budget numbers, as well as allocation details. Interestingly, most respondents said that End of Life deadlines in 2015 are driving their IT spending for the year.

Going deeper into this point, the Spiceworks survey showed that 67% of IT pros said EoL is the driving factor for new hardware and software purchases this year. It is important to note that “Additional growth/need” was tied for first place with IT Pros, signaling an uptick for the channel. “Project Need” took second place for 57% of overall respondents.

 

There has been a lot of talk about how partners can and should adapt to the rise of cloud-based applications, with particular focus on how to replace revenue from sources like on-site server and software installations. Harry had a 3-part series on the issue a few months ago, and many other knowledgeable sources have written and spoken about it. In short, the transition to the cloud is happening, and is even picking up speed. This means that partners need to adapt in order to capitalize on the transition. Smart partners are finding new ways to attach revenue to cloud-based software like Office 365. That’s where our friends at attachedapps come in.

RobertCraneWe recently received news from Robert Crane, Director, CIAOPS, and well-respected speaker at past SMB Nation events, that he is starting a new email course for SharePoint. This course is in conjunction with his newest Getting Started with SharePoint Online template, for consumers and resellers. The course itself is available for resellers, and includes a series of daily templates.

This course has 23 lessons in all things SharePoint. You can learn more about it on Robert’s site: http://blog.ciaops.com/2015/01/free-sharepoint-online-email-course.html

Robert also plans to release a lesson plan for Azure later this year.

 

I Can’t Wait For Win10

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win81 crahsBy now, you are familiar with the Windows 10 conversation that reached a new peak a week ago Tuesday with a public-facing webinar. Shouts out included product features and function, such as the Start button, and a conversation about Windows as a Service (think in some ways how Google Chromebooks works). I’d implore you to read this PC Magazine article for your Win10 speeds and feeds fix.

What I want to do with this blog is provide more context.

inhouseIT Offers ShoreTel Sky Solutions

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inhouseIT, an IT solutions and services provider based in California, announced today it is offering ShoreTel Sky solutions to customers, joining ShoreTel’s Enabled Tier of the Champion Partner Program—Cloud track. ShoreTel provides phone systems and unified communications solutions.

“Having been a ShoreTel Champion Partner for many years, we have never been more excited about this latest cloud solution.” said inhouseIT ShoreTel Practice Director, Toby Turko. “ShoreTel Sky is an end-to-end cloud phone system. The inherent flexibility allows companies to add unified communications, contact center capabilities, and CRM and ERP integrations as they need them. Our customers have been waiting for an amazing experience like ShoreTel Sky.”

ShoreTel’s partner programs are designed to educate solution providers on how to best deliver Shoretel products and services. 

We recently received news that Microsoft Community Connections has unveiled a new program for its IT Pro partners. The Simple Tech Tips Program is aimed at empowering IT Pros with the latest tech content.

These IT Pros can then use any of the prewritten content in their marketing communications, such as newsletters and blogs. As Harry said earlier this week: “Knowledge is Power.” This prewritten content from the MCC program will be updated twice a month, and will feature new tips and tricks for SMB solutions. In addition, the new program allows access to 10% off software and 5% off of all other items.

SMB IT Pros can register for the program for free by filling out the short form here.

Continuum Launches “Company News” Blog

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continuumContinuum, the channel-exclusive provider of fully-integrated managed IT services, announced today the launch of its “Company News” blog, which will spotlight its MSP partners and update the partner community on news, products and resources.

“At Continuum, we believe we’re only successful as long as our partners are successful, and that’s the power of great people,” said Jeanne Hopkins, Senior Vice President & CMO at Continuum. “We want to celebrate all of their big wins as well as help to educate our entire partner community to become more successful. In 2015, we continue our commitment of making a wide variety of educational resources available. Our new company blog is just one example of helping our partners to succeed with lots more resources to come this year.”

Check out new Office 365 Nation Mobile App!

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It’s been asked of many: “given the chance to do it again, would you do it differently?” The answer is a resounding yes. The idea of building an independent Office 365 community is now a reality with Office 365 Nation (o365nation.com). And our momentum is accelerating. There is a hunger for an “outside looking in view” of the Office 365 world. Thus, we have a mobile app to accelerate the experience.

First – scan the QR code pictured and download the mobile app for your Android, Apple or Windows phone. Okay – now that you have done that, we can continue.

Today the application is focused on our seven city independent Office 365 tour traversing NFL cities. It all starts next Tuesday, January 27th followed by the Silicon Valley on January 29th. Wanna learn more, “old school” style? Then visit our traditional tour site at o365tour.smbnation.com. But we’d actually prefer you use the mobile app.

Tomorrow, the application will be an integral part of the day-to-day Office 365 Nation community motion. We’ll have the ability to alert you to important news. We can survey you on the fly, as we want to be your independent Office 365 Ombudsman, keeping a watchful eye over Microsoft. Imagine that I’m in a meeting with the Office 365 product team in Redmond and I instantly survey the community about some pending proposition or initiative. You get the point, I hope. The Office 365 Nation mobile app is an enabling technology bringing us closer together to accomplish more goodness.

IBM announced availability of Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7.1 through its Power Development Platform, Innovation Centers and Client Centers.

IBM said it hopes the move will enable independent software developers, in-house client and open source developers.

O365 Tour Requests