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

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Manage EngineIT management company ManageEngine today announced availability of VMware Horizon View monitoring in its application performance monitoring solution, Applications Manager.

VMware Horizon View Monitoring will enable enterprises to view and understand virtual desktop infrastructures running on Horizon View so they can deliver optimal performance to employees that use applications delivered via Horizon View.

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En Pointe logoHey folks, I recently had the chance to interview En Pointe Technologies, a Los Angeles, CA-based IT Solutions Provider. I spoke with Tyler Coppock the company’s Director, Microsoft Cloud Solutions, and we had a great conversation about the trends they are seeing in the IT space.

According to En Pointe, Microsoft has been receiving quite a bit of heat for their issues with the Office 365 support, particularly as it relates to wait time. “Even when our support desk calls Microsoft, we’re on there an hour and a half, two hours wait time, consistently,” said Tyler in our interview. “So this is really a resource thing for Microsoft.”

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mcafeeMcAfee today announced advancements to its Server Security Suites portfolio, including optimized performance and additional management efficiency to improve security in physical, virtualized, and cloud server environments.

Servers are often the target of threats and attacks due to the significant amounts of data stored, which makes securing them a top priority.

“Today’s flexible data centers require innovative solutions that shield physical, virtual and cloud environments from stealthy attacks,” said Candace Worley, senior vice president and general manager of endpoint security at McAfee, part of Intel Security. “Our Server Security Suites guard servers, the crown jewels of the data center, with comprehensive protection, simplified security management, improved scalability for large environments and connections into key technologies throughout the data center.”

McAfee’s new server security suites, McAfee Server Security Suite Essentials and McAfee Server Security Advanced, both include McAfee MOVE AV technology, complete blacklisting, and optimized virtualization support capabilities. McAfee Server Security Advanced includes whitelisting and additional, comprehensive server security protection.

Demos of these products will be available at Intel’s VMworld booth, #1721, until August 28.

 

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Office 365: “This is Gold Rush Time!”

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Satya NadellaRecently, Microsoft’s new CEO Satya Nadella (pictured), defined the Office 365 opportunity as the new gold rush. It’s a heartfelt and accurate statement. Nearly every day Microsoft is reporting new sales records confirming Office 365’s momentum. Simply stated, this is the real deal and you need to hear that message right here, right now!

Photo credit: Redmond Channel Partner magazine.

So what are the first steps along the long-term Office 365 journey? Consider attending the first independent conference dedicated to Office 365 this fall at Microsoft Redmond. Dubbed “Office 365 Nation,” this is a three-day deep-dive summit into both the technical and business conversations surrounding Office 365. Powered by the well-respected SMB Nation community, this conference offers, in addition to peer interactions, the following 20 impactful content sessions:

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

Part 7 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 how to make a solid plan for navigating the industry trade show landscape. In this month’s blog, I offer a few tips on how to avoid becoming complacent in your business, by adding a few simple technologies to your services offering—all at a relatively low cost.

Before focusing on the technology aspect, think about your customer base and how you want to approach your clients about trying something new. I’m not suggesting that you approach them immediately and offer the full managed services gamut. However, by adding just one of these technologies and then building upon it, you can get there one step at a time. In addition, you can effectively demonstrate to your clients that you are being proactive about your business model.

Consider these technologies for your portfolio:

1.) Remote Monitoring and Management (RMM): While you might currently be working as break/fix, managed services is still trending at an upward pace. In fact, recent studies are predicting a bumper year in 2014 for MSPs. According to MarketsandMarkets,the managed services market will grow by almost 80%, from $142.75 billion in 2013 to $256.05 billion in 2018. This demand is set to translate acrossevery industry vertical. However, even if you are apprehensive about offering a recurring business model, start slowly by first adding an RMM tool. Find one that provides the freedom to scale your business and allows you to invest as little or as much as you want.

Providing some type of remote support is key when a problem should occur; it’s even appropriate if you are running a break/fix model. This way, you can think about issues before they occur, all while keeping employee uptime to a maximum and avoiding downtime. Remember, each time you do something that’s proactive for your business (like adding RMM), you are moving one step closer to a managed services model, whether you intend to or not.

2.) Regular Updates and Patch Management: No solution provider wants, no matter what business model they are offering, a client whose patches are out of date and not secure – this could lead to potential disaster. For instance, think about what happened earlier this month with the Community Health System security breach; nearly 4.5 million patient data records were compromised. While this is a much larger scale than your SMB clients, even if just one of your clients experiences a data breach, it can lead to much larger problems. Most of these breaches and viruses, for example Cryptolocker, ultimately settle by way of weak or out-of-date patches. Patches can protect against these vulnerabilities in which hackers can easily gain access. By keeping track of your clients’ patches and offering updates, you save both yourself and your client time and stress that could lead to a possible data compromise.

3.) Backup and Disaster Recovery (BDR): This is a technology that is truly a no-brainer. Even if you only budget for one additional technology, I recommend BDR. It offers low overhead to your client and is not costly for you. I have seen many solution providers who have shifted their business model to managed services simply because they wanted to add BDR. Managed services isn’t something you can actually “touch” and/or “feel,” so many times it can seem a bit more daunting when moving from break/fix--not to mention a harder value proposition sell to your client. But because BDR is an actual device and function that can be demonstrated, it is often the stepping stone that leads to a managed services model. This, coupled with its ROI and up-front cost-effective price point, can be the first move toward putting together an eventual managed services model. And you might even pick up some new clients along the way.

4.) File Sync and Share: In the last year, I have seen more gravitation toward this technology. File sync and share offers low overhead and cost and is another way to get your foot in the door to talk with new clients about this hot topic. File sync and share could also be a way to get your business ready to move to the cloud (but let’s not get ahead of ourselves just yet). The reality is that everything is moving into a virtual world, and now with the cloud and other phenomenons such as Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) and smartphones, users want to access their data anywhere, and at any time. With a reliable file sync and share platform, you can offer this (along with BDR) to ensure that your client’s data is safeguarded and accessible at all times.

Complacency can occur at any time within your business. Take time each month to step back and perform a quick re-evaluation. By adding just one of these technologies, you can gain a “double dip” for both yourself and your client—adding a new offering to benefit your clients and possibly obtain new ones. You can also move one step closer to offering a managed services model. It really is a lot easier than you might have thought!

 

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 3,400 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.

 

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storagecraft smallStorageCraft Technology Corporation will be exhibiting at VMworld 2014, where it will preview for the first time its StorageCraft Plug-in for VMware.

StorageCraft will be located in booth no.2531 from Aug. 24-27.  VMworld attendees can pre-register for the StorageCraft demo here, with the first 100 attendees to see the demo receiving a free time-limited StorageCraft ShadowProtect IT Edition subscription.

“Attendees will get a sneak peek at the next addition to the StorageCraft Recover-Ability™ Solution,” said Curt James, StorageCraft vice president of marketing and business development. “The StorageCraft Plug-in for VMware will solidify StorageCraft as one of the best disaster recovery solutions for physical and virtual environments.”

The StorageCraft Plug-in for VMware will allow users to monitor the status of VM backups and start, pause, and resume a backup job. More information is available here.

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Highly Successful TSPs Never Guess

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For many technology solution providers (TSPs), giving clients the best service offering possible is a key focus, and they have the best intentions for how to make that happen. They work hard, log long hours and yet they find themselves in a position to ask, “Where are the profits? What about customer loyalty? Why isn’t it happening?”

Read More Here

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The week that was – August 24, 2014

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Autotask adds sales tool

Autotask logoEast Greenbush, N.Y.-based PSA vendor Autotask unveiled the new Autotask Opportunity Assessment/Sales Process tool – a new element aimed at helping channel partners increase their closure rates with better opportunity and sales process management. The new addition to the Autotask suite provides enhanced visibility into the sales pipeline, right from prospect identification through to deal completion. Additionally, the tool provides key analytics and intelligence. According to Jake Carroll, Autotask’s vice president of strategic account sales, the new solution will take a lot of the guesswork out of the sales process. Through process standardization, sales organizations will be able to gather and apply intelligence that will not only help provide more internal structure and identify opportunities, but also deliver better prospect qualification so sales staff can concentrate their attention and energy on the best prospects. The new tool will be included in the Autotask Ultimate Bundle or can be added on separately.

Bluebeam invests in Marketing support for Partners

Bluebeam-logo-verticalPasadena, Calif.-based Bluebeam Software has been investing in Marketing and Sales resources to help support channel partners pushing its document collaboration tools into highly technical verticals like manufacturing and oil and gas. Bluebeam’s Revu 12.5 competes against the likes of Adobe Acrobat and other PDF creation tools. The company has quadrupled its marketing staff from one to four people, adding much needed bandwidth that will make it possible to provide partners with vertically tailored pitches and promotional materials. The added strength is already making itself apparent on the industry conference circuit, where Bluebeam is now able to raise its profile. Bluebeam attended 60 events by the end of the first quarter, demonstrating its technology, answering questions and recruiting channel partners, equaling the entirety of its 2013 travel schedule. Currently Bluebeam takes in about 40 percent of its revenue through the channel, but says it would like to see that number closer to the 70 percent range.

IDC: SDN reaching market adoption threshold

IDCAccording to new research from IT analysis firm IDC, software-defined networking (SDN) is rapidly approaching an inflection point where it will become mainstream technology. IDC forecasts released last week have the global SDN market – which combines physical network infrastructure, controller and network virtualization software, SDN network security services and SDN-related professional services – growing from $960 million in 2014 to more than $8 billion by 2018. That’s a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 89.4 percent! Moreover, while large cloud services providers have been the early adopters, IDC expects its SDN to see similar traction in the enterprise segment. And it’s news that will have the likes of Cisco and VMware salivating as they have already made significant investments in SDN – VMware with its NSX software overlay platform, and Cisco with the Application Centric Infrastructure.

VMware acquires CloudVolumes

VMware logo blk RGB 72dpiSpeaking of VMware, the Palo Alto, CA-based virtualization vendor acquired CloudVolumes, a startup that specializes in delivering virtual applications to desktops. According to a blog post by Kit Colbert, CTO of End-User Computing at VMware, app delivery is often "challenging and cumbersome." CloudVolumes has developed technology which addresses the numerous glitches that crop up by splitting a Windows instance into separate pieces to which apps can be installed with ease and speed. If is delivers as advertised, the CloudVolumes technology – which is applicable in both virtual and physical environments – will make it possible for technicians to add new or upgraded apps on the fly on running desktops obviating the need to schedule a service outage to perform system upgrades. VMware plans to integrate the new technology with its Horizon desktop virtualization platform. The financials of the deal were not but VMware said in a press release that the transaction will not be material to its financial performance. To date CloudVolumes, which was established in 2011, has raised $4.4 million through two funding rounds.

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Email encryption provider DataMotion announced it has partnered with Rain Networks. The DataMotion-Rain Networks partnership will be centered on sales and integration of DataMotion’s encryption solutions for SMBs.

Rain Networks will sell and distribute DataMotion’s encryption offerings through its reseller channel, consisting of VARs, system builders, technology consultants and technical service providers.

“We’re on opposite sides of the country but have had a close relationship with Rain Networks for quite some time. By fortifying and combining efforts under this new partnership, DataMotion greatly increases its visibility in the small business market, making it easier and more cost-efficient for a business to buy and integrate our security solutions,” said Bob Bales, CEO of DataMotion.

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PSO banner 220X150PowerSourceOnline.com is the largest B2B computer, printer, networking and telecom exchange that connects buyers and sellers of IT parts. The online marketplace for buyers and sellers of telecom systems and parts, networking equipment, computers and laptops and other IT equipment is the largest online network for the secondary telecommunication and IT marketplace. Since its creation in 1997, PowerSource remains committed to providing quality sourcing and disposition solutions of hard-to-find, excess, discontinued, obsolete and end-of-life computer parts and systems. With a global member base of over 2000 members consisting of Dealers, Resellers, Brokers and Service Companies, locating computer parts, systems, telecommunication equipment, peripherals, printers and networking equipment has never been easier! In 2010, Telecom Finders joined the PowerSource Online website and community to add telecom parts and equipment to the already expansive IT and computer parts and equipment database.

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Unitrends logoUnitrends announced it has partnered with wholesale technology product distributor Tech Data Corporation to offer Unitrends Disaster Recovery as a Service in Tech Data’s Solutions Store in its TDCloud business unit.

“Our agreement with Tech Data tremendously expands our channel presence by making Unitrends DRaaS available to a vast reseller base,” said Bob Gagnon, Unitrends’ vice president of channel sales. “We are making a best-in-class managed service available for purchase on a subscription basis. And, doing so through Tech Data’s Solutions Store enables us to greatly simplify the ordering process for our IT channel.”

Unitrends DRaaS backup appliance solution guarantees full recovery of IT infrastructures in the cloud within hours of a declared disaster.

 

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SurveyHey folks, Harrybbb here! I am happy to announce that we have opened a short survey on Microsoft Satisfaction! It’s your time to shine and let us know what you think about the current and future direction of the company. We will have 3 questions, plus a comment box.

Want to chime in? Simply fill out the survey at: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/2QSBBNJ One lucky respondent will win an Ooma device for business!

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attachedapps ad for advertorial 8.25.14attachedapps are a lightweight yet powerful solution designed to cure SMB customers’ biggest pain point of not being able to effectively retrain, manage and grow their customer base. A complete offering that no one else provides today, attachedapps are pain free to install, “attach” to Office 365 and run on Azure.   This allows for partners to cost effectively enhance their level of service to customers and drive incremental revenue.

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Aislelabs Announces Channel Partner Program

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aislelabsAislelabs , a leading in-store provider of marketing and analytics programs, announced its channel partner program for service providers including VARs, distributors, technology system integrators, Wi-Fi MSPs, retail consulting firms and marketing agencies.

This partner program is designed to combine Aislelabs technology with partner expertise and knowledge, creating a mutually beneficial relationship.

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GoDaddy Acquires Mad Mimi

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GoDaddyGoDaddy , the largest technology provider dedicated to SMBs, announced it acquired Mad Mimi in a deal that will expand GoDaddy’s product offerings.

Mad Mimi’s email marketing product is designed to help SMBs to create, send, share and track email newsletters. Its product will continue to be available as a standalone application, and GoDaddy and Mad Mimi intend to create a product using the Mad Mimi platform, planned to be available in 2015.

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logicPDLogic PD announced a Wireless Communication Device Blueprint, an application guide for turning legacy equipment into wireless solutions.

“As the world becomes increasingly connected, users want their applications to be moved online for ease of use and increased operational efficiency,” said Jason Voiovich, vice president of marketing. “Under pressure, OEMs are often overwhelmed by the proposition of retrofitting their legacy equipment and overlook the upside of adding a renewable revenue stream that comes with networked devices. The Wireless Blueprint guides them through the process and identifies the opportunities.”

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Datapipe Acquires Layered Tech

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datapipeDatapipe, a cloud and managed services provider, announced its acquisition of managed hosting and cloud company Layered Tech. This acquisition will allow Datapipe to expand into the government sector with FISMA and FedRAMP compliant Federal cloud offerings and will fuel Datapipe’s growth in managed cloud services.

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Datto Grows!

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Robrae 2014I caught up with a busy Rob Rae at the CompTIA ChannelCon event recently to ‘check-in” with Datto. It’s a well-known success story in the SMB IT Pro community, as its wunderkind Austin McCord now has the community shining his shoes. And he, along with Datto, have earned their success the old fashioned way: hard work.

“We’re a business continuity company that’s always innovating,” shared Rob Rae, long-time SMB channel veteran and VP of Business Development. “We’ve always been a hybrid solution with replication to the cloud.”

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Sync, Not Backup

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syncservicesI’m seeing more and more people embrace what they consider to be ‘The Cloud’ to store their files, be it Dropbox, OneDrive, Google Drive, Amazon Cloud, or any of the other file syncing services out there.  Notice I say file syncing services and not cloud backup services.  These services have a lot of value and are very handy; I utilize them for work and personal life for sharing files, collaborating, or syncing across the numerous devices in my life.  That being said, they are not backup, and I run separate backup routines to protect important data.

I was at a get-together this weekend and the topic of backup came up.  I know it sounds like I go to some really exciting parties, right? But the subject came up because the host’s wife, who is a paralegal, mentioned that she was tasked with figuring out how to get some data off some older SDLT tapes.  When the discussion turned to occupations and I mentioned that I work in data-protection, she perked up and instantly asked me about the tapes and how she could get the data off.  I helped her with that task, which was no big deal, but her next comment caught my attention. She remarked how she didn’t understand why people still use tapes and backup software and why everyone doesn’t just put everything on Dropbox.  The simplest explanation that I could come up with on the spot was reliability, flexibility, and security.

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windows-azure-logoThe difficulties keep rolling for Microsoft Azure. Many Azure services are down just days after suffering a problem that left users in the Japan East region without services and management portal log-in problems and performance issues in numerous other regions.

Additionally, last week saw a global problem with Microsoft’s Visual Studio Online service. Visual Studio Online runs on Azure however, the company said that outage was the result of bugs in the app itself, rather than Azure.

The current outage started at 17:49 UTC, hitting Cloud Services and virtual Machines in multiple regions and has since expanded to Backup, Service Bus, Site Recovery, Azure HDInsight and Azure Mobile Services – all of which are experiencing full service interruptions in multiple regions.

According to the most recent update (6:12 pm ET/3:12 PT) on the Azure Status page:

"Virtual Machines, Cloud Services, Mobile Services, Service Bus, Site Recovery, HDInsight, Websites and StorSimple - Multiple regions - Partial Service Interruption

“Starting at 18 Aug 2014 17:49 UTC, a small subset of customers are experiencing connectivity issues to some Azure Services which may include Cloud Services, Virtual Machines, Websites, Automation, Service Bus, Backup, Site Recovery, HDInsight, Mobile Services, StorSimple and possible other Azure Services in multiple regions. Recovery continues underway across affected regions. Customers in many regions began to experience service restoration.”

Media inquiries to Microsoft are being met with polite “we-know-there’s-a-problem-our-engineers-are-working-on-it-don’t-call-us-we’ll-call-you” messages.

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markwinterPodcast II!

 

View my podcast interview with RapidFire Tools' Mark Winter below:

 

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GreenSQL Joins CSA

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greensqlGreenSQL, a provider of database security and compliance solutions for the cloud, has joined the not-for-profit Cloud Security Alliance, which has a mission to promote the use of best practices for providing security assurance within Cloud Computing and to provide education on the uses of Cloud Computing.

GreenSQL protects customers from SQL injection attacks and unauthorized data access. Its solution camouflages and secures database applications and its Database Activity Monitoring independently monitors and audits all database activity both in the cloud and across traditional database platforms.

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Joan MoralesHey Folks, we're working on a new way to bring you our industry interviews!


Check out my first podcast below with Axcient's Joan Morales (pictured):

 

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Fujitsu logo 02Information and communication technology company Fujitsu today announced the availability of datacenter capabilities in New York and California; it also plans to open a third Tier III datacenter in Regina, Saskatchewan.

These datacenters will offer Fujitsu customers access to outsourcing and private cloud management services; a premier network, systems integration and application management services; and Japanese bilingual services, a benefit to Japan Originated Companies. Bilingual services are important to both JOC companies operating in the Americas and those hoping to globalize and expand into the Americas.

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bob vogel augustBy Bob Vogel, B2 Marketing

“Your best clients are someone else’s best prospects.”

That was one of the first notes that I jotted down while watching a recent webinar featuring noted IT Sales guru Gil Cargill.

Scary as it sounds, it only stands to reason that if you have any competitors in the market place, they are going to be looking for opportunities to steal your best clients – the larger ones that outsource some or all of their IT needs, pay their bills on time, and appreciate the value of outside experts.

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