SMB Nation Blog

SMB Nation has been serving the Bainbridge Island area since 2001, providing IT Support such as technical helpdesk support, computer support, and consulting to small and medium-sized businesses.

Top 4 Free Applications for SMBs

Even though most people may not realize it, small and medium businesses are the backbone of the economy. In 2016, there were 28.8 million small businesses in the US, which translates to 99.7% of all American businesses – and in fact, since the 1970s, 66% of total net new jobs are generated by small businesses, which also make for 55% of all jobs in the marketplace. Yet only 50% of those businesses are set to surpass five years and only one third will survive for at least 10 years. This means that SMB owners have to play it smart in order to increase their chances in a highly competitive market – so why not take advantage of free applications that could be ideal for your enterprise?

1. Project Management

One of the most important questions you have to deal with as an SMB is how to deal with managing various projects among the few people that you employ. There are software tools out there that can help make that easier for you, by streamlining communication between team members and allowing you to stay on top of the workflow. Asana, one of the most popular PM apps, is free for the first 15 users, making it great for small businesses. It has a flexible interface and visually documents progress, while it can integrate with services like Evernote, Google Drive, MailChimp, and WordPress.

project management


Source: Pexels

2. Traffic Management

When your SMB has a website – as most businesses today do – then sometimes managing traffic can be daunting. A load balancing tool such as HAProxy (High Availability Proxy) allows you to allocate load across multiple servers and help optimize system performance and speed. HAProxy is a free and open source (FOSS) application– it is included in some Linux distributions, if your system runs on Linux, or it can be downloaded separately. Due to its elaborate nature, though, it also requires IT expertise to set up and maintain – so having the right people on board in-house or hiring outside help is crucial.

3. Productivity

Especially when working in small numbers or when you are freelancing, time can really fly. A good time tracking app can help both you and people on your team stay more focused on the task at hand and spend less time distracted by social media or less important tasks. RescueTime is a time management app that tracks where you allocate your precious time by website and application and allows users to set productivity goals. The basic version is completely free, but if you want features like blocking certain sites or breaking down offline activity, then you’ll have to upgrade to premium for a little extra. RescueTime is flexible across platforms and can be used on Mac, PC, and Linux, but its app is currently only available on Android.


Source: Pexels

4. Team Communication

Besides specialized project management apps, it is nice to have a tool dedicated to internal communication in order to make sure that everyone is up to date and colleagues can get easily in touch when needed. Slack is your best friend – and its basic version is free for an unlimited number of users, although it comes with space and feature limitations. You can create a shared workspace with organized communication channels, customized notifications, searchable messages and mandatory two-factor authentication for extra security.

So if you’d like to increase productivity while on a budget, there is no better way to do it than to look out for these free software tools and choose which one right for your company’s needs.


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MSP Strategy Suggestion!

We are delighted by the strong reception we’ve enjoyed introducing the merger and acquisition conversation into the SMB Nation audience this past couple of months. Seems like the stars are aligned with key demographics represented in our recent 2016 Salary Survey. You are a mature audience and very quickly life is happening before your very eyes. So your needs are changing from Geek to Grandparent (okay – that’s a bit of a stretch but there is truth to humor). You proudly are approaching 20-years in the IT profession.

And you are consciously re-evaluating your life and business strategy. 


At our 16th annual SMB Nation picnic this past week, M&A was a conversation amongst the MSPs!

This past week, our MSP M&A "Sell-side" (Part 2) webinar offered the following nuggets:

• Discover how to value your business
• Preparing for due diligence
• Creating the big notebook
• Approaching potential buyers
• Retaining experts (and avoiding business brokers)
• Managing expectation about the negotiating phase
• Separating heart from mind
• And much more…

Note you can watch the webinar replay here and scroll down to the Replay Webinar link for MSP M&A "Sell-side" (Part 2). More importantly, you can sign-up for this week’s “Free Consulting Hour: MSP M&A” where we will answer your specific questions here. No slide deck. No presentation. You’ll love it.

So exactly who are “we” and what are we doing? Tim Carlsen has hopped on board at SMB Nation to assist with us helping you in the M&A area. Tim’s investment and VC background is detailed here.

Tim Carlsent

Between our respective skills, we now offer an M&A advisory service to MSPs in the SMB community. We’re already assisting four clients and can only accommodate five more in 2016. Reach out to Tim at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for more details.

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MSP M&A “Sell-side” (Part 2)

SMB Nation Webinar Thursday, August 18th, 2016 12:00 PM - 1:00 PM PST

Presented by: Harry Brelsford CEO at SMB Nation, and Tim Carlsen

In late May, we delivered Part I of our MSP webinar series that you can watch here.   Register below to join us for Part II tense focus on the sell-side of MSP mergers and acquisitions. It’s all about positioning the exit to insure you maximize your potential and profit. You have worked very hard to build a real business and it’s essential you attend this community webinar to:

  • Discover how to value your business
  • Preparing for due diligence
  • Creating the big notebook
  • Approaching potential buyers
  • Retaining experts (and avoiding business brokers)
  • Managing expectation about the negotiating phase
  • Separating heart from mind
  • And much more…

Bottom line: this isn’t a webinar where we’ll tell you something you already know…you will learn new strategies and tactics.


349 X 115 MOD REG RND2

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Support SMB Nation!

Support SMB Nation!

It’s our annual giving campaign and we want to take a moment to thank you for your support. Supporting SMB Nation over the past 15+ years has allowed us to act as your independent ombudsman in the small and medium-business technology arena. We’re all in this together!

Please support us as you are able. Your generous support helps us to tackle the tough stories with bona fide authenticity. If you value our voice, click on the donate button below. A suggested amount is $25.


Need an example of the no-cost advocacy that your support allows? Look at our free-of-charge workshops over the past three years! We produce more events than any other SMB community. And our commitmnt to real pure knowlege-based academic content is very strong, as you know. 

  • 2016 Office 365 and Windows 10 Roadshow for MSPs/CSPs/Resellers (1H2016:

    1. Redmond
    2. NY
    3. Atlanta
    4. Chicago
    5. Washington DC
    6. Charlotte
    7. LA
    8. SF
    9. Phoenix
    10. PLUS Additional Nine (9) Cities in 2h2016!
  • 2015 Windows 10 launch events for resellers/MSPs  (5 events):

    1. New York City, New York – June 2nd 2015
    2. Los Angeles, California – June 9th 2015
    3. Redmond, Washington – June 16th 2015
    4. Fort Lauderdale, Florida – June 23rd 2015
    5. Austin TX – June 25th 2015

  • 2014 Worldwide Modern Tour  (24-cities in 23-countries: )

    1. Auckland, New Zealand 3/27/2014
    1. Bangalore, India 6/10/2014
    2. Cape Town, South Africa 5/22/2014
    3. Dubai, United Arab Emirates 5/8/2014
    4. Dublin, Ireland 4/23/2014
    5. Hong Kong, China 3/21/2014
    6. Istanbul, Turkey 5/13/2014
    7. Johannesburg, South Africa 5/20/2014
    8. Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia 3/17/2014
    9. Madrid, Spain 5/6/2014
    10. Manila, Philippines 3/19/2014
    11. Mexico City, Mexico 4/1/2014
    12. Milan, Italy 6/13/2014
    13. Mississauga, ON, Canada 6/4/2014
    14. Montréal, QC, Canada 6/6/2014
    15. Moscow, Russia 5/22/2014
    16. Prague, Czech Republic 5/21/2014
    17. Reading, United Kingdom 4/1/2014
    18. Sao Paulo, Brazil 3/20/2014
    19. Singapore, Singapore 3/14/2014
    20. Stockholm, Sweden 5/27/2014
    21. Sydney, Australia 3/25/2014
    22. Taipei, Taiwan 4/29/2014
    23. Warsaw, Poland 6/4/2014

  • 2013 Windows XP EOL “Million Mile" Tour (44-workshops in 22 cities)

Thank you for supporting the SMB Nation family in 2016! And thank you for your trust! 


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What is driving SMB converged infrastructure adoption

By: Anurag Agrawal

For all the talk of a world predicated on software-defined resources, there is still need for capable, reliable, scalable physical infrastructure to support these software layers and the features and applications that sit atop them. The rise in virtualization has been driving an accompanying demand for converged infrastructure: products that combine processing, storage and networking into a robust and scalable unit that can support and respond to the options inherent in virtualization.

While the migration from separate server, storage and networking products to converged infrastructure is still in its early stages, the Techaisle SMB & midmarket converged infrastructure survey and corresponding Techaisle SMB & midmarket virtualization adoption trends survey shows that it is beginning to gain traction, especially within more sophisticated accounts. Data shows that 10% of small businesses and 27% of midmarket businesses (weighted data) are planning to adopt converged infrastructure. Current midmarket adoption rates for converged infrastructure are below findings for VDI but differences readily become apparent when analyzing the data from the lens of Techaisle’s segmentation by IT sophistication. Converged infrastructure adoption rises steadily with increased buyer sophistication in both the small and midmarket segments. As the market matures, we expect to see accelerated adoption of converged infrastructure across the SMB market.

What is driving converged infrastructure adoption?

While there are technical advantages that make converged infrastructure products more effective virtualization hosts than traditional servers, Techaisle’s research shows that SMB buyers adopt converged infrastructure for one or more of five primary reasons:

  1. to benefit from converged infrastructure’s integrated design and efficiency,
  2. to tap into its ability to enable centralization/management of resources,
  3. to capitalize on performance/time-to-benefit advantages,
  4. to improve IT agility and its ability to meet business needs, and
  5. in response to core requirements for cost savings and improved security.

Drilling down into the data Techaisle finds that core requirements inform many converged infrastructure strategies, and the benefits and efficiency of integrated solutions are also frequently cited as a driver of converged infrastructure adoption.

Two of the top six answers provided in response to the question on converged infrastructure adoption drivers concerned time to benefit; centralization and management issues. And although agility/the ability to meet business needs is the key reason for adopting cloud (including private clouds that are based on converged infrastructure), this is not currently a primary driver of converged infrastructure adoption.

To enhance the scope of comparisons Techaisle also studied data from a parallel question regarding converged infrastructure adoption that was posed to channel respondents in Techaisle’s SMB channel trends survey. This list provides yet another perspective, reflecting the situations in which the channel is drawn into converged infrastructure decisions. Big Data – which requires a relatively wide range of competencies – is the project type that will most commonly require the channel to deploy converged infrastructure systems, and SharePoint projects, which also demand a broad skill set, are the third most common project cited as a converged infrastructure adoption driver. The channel, like its buy-side SMB customers, also recognizes that data center consolidation, virtualization applications and data migration can drive demand for converged infrastructure.

Converged infrastructure selection criteria and implementation challenges

In many ways, the key market issue surrounding converged infrastructure isn’t vendor-vs.-vendor competition, but rather, the ability of converged infrastructure as a system class to gain share quickly vs. traditional server products, while not being obviated by the cloud before attaining mass market penetration. However, suppliers are competing for share in this growth category, and understanding what buyers are looking for – and what they struggle with when they adopt converged infrastructure – is important to positioning a brand as a credible solution.

The data shows that for the most part, small and midmarket firms have similar ideas concerning important attributes of a converged infrastructure supplier. Both view vendor brand/reputation, measurable system attributes (storage, memory, processing power and network bandwidth) and service/support as key issues. Midmarket firms also emphasize implementation speed as a key criterion, and are somewhat more likely (than small businesses) to focus on the ability of the new system to integrate with existing infrastructure assets.

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True That: HPE and March Madness!

True That: HPE and March Madness!

Lately a lot of people are asking me about the new Hewlett Packard(s). For the purposes of the SMB Nation community, we live in the world of HPE. I liken it to HP is STARTING OVER as HPE!

And it’s making a splash with its March Madness “Hello World” special offer. We’re glad to help as HP (now HPE) is a long-time friend of the family. It was there at the first SMB Nation conference in 2003 and beyond. The pic attached to this blog is from the video series “In The Trenches” produced by HP promoting SBS 2000 and its mobility features (watch it HERE). 

 Harrybbb in early HP SBS video

So with great pleasure – I’d like to invite you to join us the Thursday, March 17th at 12:00pm Noon Pacific (GMT-7). Sign up here

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Harry Mention: On SMB MSP & Cloud Channel Challenges

Who Dat? Below is a reprint of a blog., based on our SMB Nation State of the Union 2016 Webinar (January 2016) with Anurag from TechAisle. Enjoy the read!

On 7th January, Harry Brelsford, Founder, SMBNation had a Q&A webinar with Techaisle on the challenges of SMB-focused MSPs and cloud channel partners. Given below are his questions and Techaisle’s responses.

Harry: Referring to this blog SMB IT Channel has reached an inflection point can you better define “inflection point?” does that mean a tipping point before collapse or a pivot?

Anurag: It is a pivot not a collapse – “one stop solution shop” is dying as each of cloud, mobility, managed services and CI/virtualization gets too complex for generalists to manage. The IT channel is changing, permanently and in ways that are entirely different from what we have seen in the past. In the same way that “cloud” refers to a very wide range of very different IT models and deployments, “the channel” is becoming a generic phrase 

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On SMB MSP & Cloud Channel Challenges

By Anurag Agrawal

On 7th January, Harry Brelsford, Founder, SMBNation had a Q&A webinar with Techaisle on the challenges of SMB-focused MSPs and cloud channel partners. Given below are his questions and Techaisle’s responses.

Harry: Referring to this blog SMB IT Channel has reached an inflection point can you better define “inflection point?” does that mean a tipping point before collapse or a pivot?

Anurag: It is a pivot not a collapse – “one stop solution shop” is dying as each of cloud, mobility, managed services and CI/virtualization gets too complex for generalists to manage. The IT channel is changing, permanently and in ways that are entirely different from what we have seen in the past. In the same way that “cloud” refers to a very wide range of very different IT models and deployments, “the channel” is becoming a generic phrase that describes a set of business approaches that is increasingly specialized and fragmented. The areas that I just mentioned – cloud, mobility, managed services, virtualization - today, there is substantial overlap across these categories – but it is our belief that over time, success in any one of these areas will require discrete focus and investment, reducing opportunity for equal success in/focus on other competencies.

Harry: I like how you provide historical context – the comment you made regarding a market defined by the adoption of a particular type of technology (e.g. small Business Server (SBS)) is a point well taken by this crowd. But I’m not sure I’m seeing a cult-like community emerge around any particular cloud product (e.g. Office 365). Would you agree?

Anurag: Talking from a channel POV, agreed. If there is a cult growing, it is around Hybrid IT; possible that Cloud Broker business model will get to this level as well. SMB organizations will accept the notion that their focus on cloud needs to evolve into a focus on hybrid IT, as firms realize that their platforms and management scope must encompass on and off-premise systems. Truth of the matter is that Office365 also disintermediates the channel. There is no stopping an organization from going directly to Microsoft and purchasing and installing Office 365 as opposed to using SBS from a channel partner in the past. It is a classic cloud vs. on-premise conundrum. The ecosystem should evolve but it will evolve around integration of data and applications.

Harry: Along those lines, I just had a conversation that I’m not seeing the same ecosystem building up around a cloud product or service. For example, we’d like to take credit that SBS really helped build Trend Micro and today it’s a $1b company. But I’m not seeing these add-ons in the same way with Office 365. The only thing I can point to are a few SharePoint snap-ins and a few tools (migrations, etc.). Do you agree or disagree?

Anurag: Mostly agree. There is a lot of potential around Salesforce, but a lot of cloud software suppliers sell direct, using online trials rather than channel members to educate customers about offerings. This does not mean that there will be no aggregation opportunity in the future, but the cloud broker model is still pretty immature, and the traditional channel has several barriers to surmount before they can adopt this kind of role with respect to cloud.

Harry: You put a lot of emphasis on mobility. While I think mobility is a game changer and you have kids walking around with cranked over necks on city streets, I guess I’ surprised. Please defend your lead-off statement about mobility, sir!

Anurag: Seen on the web recently – “Software is eating the world, and mobility is eating software; therefore, mobility is eating the world.” Everywhere, and especially outside the US, the mobile device is the key to information access and use. Today, the workspace is not defined by windows and walls and common area couches. For millions of SMB employees, the “workspace” is not a physical location – it is a virtual space defined by access from multiple screens which are used from multiple locations. Techaisle data shows that more than one-third of SMB employees today spend at least 20% of their work time away from a central office, and that 80% use mobile devices to access corporate information. If the “office” is defined by devices, so too is “workplace” defined by the ability to work from wherever those devices (and their users) are located. SMBs are investing in mobility because it contributes to both cost savings and increased market reach, with “improved productivity” and related answers connected to establishing “better ways of working” viewed as the greatest benefit of mobility within SMBs. Techaisle’s data shows that small and midsized businesses have different challenges in supporting the mobile workforce: while both cite TCO as their most significant challenge, small businesses struggle with the “on ramps” to mobility (such as finding appropriate suppliers and solutions), while midmarket firms report that they are more concerned with security/data protection and mobile management. Empowering the SMB mobile workforce becomes a huge opportunity for MSPs.

Harry: Let’s go throw the four points of overlap in your first blog installment. For the benefit of the listeners, could you expand on your four bullet points?

Anurag: In our research, Techaisle has divided the SMB channel into four technology-focused groups:
•Mobility, which includes the channel members who are looking to regain relevance in the client market by providing management solutions that address the sprawl of applications (and as a result, complexity and GRC exposure).
•Managed services, which hones in on firms that are successfully pursuing a services-led, recurring revenue-based business model.
Cloud, which represents – at least in our view – the mainstream opportunity of the future, and which will ultimately divide further into segments clustered around delivery models, customer sets and/or technology specialties.
•Virtualization and converged infrastructure, which represents the evolution of the traditional channel focused on sales of back-office technology.

Today, there is a great deal of overlap between the four groups, but we have hit an inflection point, and the (more or less) common starting point is launching multiple distinct paths. At present, though, this diffusion of channel interests and capabilities is the source of a great deal of complexity within the channel, and as a result, within the vendor and buyer ranks as well. All three of the core supply chain communities – buyers, vendors and the channel – need to understand what is required for success so that the channel can make the investments needed to support emerging requirements, vendors can commit to the investments and partners needed to drive success, and buyers can identify the suppliers able to deliver business benefit from advanced technology acquisition

Harry: Is managed services still a valid business model in a cloud service world?

Anurag: Good question! Yes. Think about “cloud service” as “hybrid IT that requires integration between on-prem and cloud-based resources,” and the opportunity for third party management is clear. Also, while developers love the AWS credit-card-and-go approach, business users – and SMBs especially – need more support. MSPs are hardly the only source of managed services: more than 60% of VARs, SPs and SIs sell managed services today, and there has been an increase in managed services activity in all of these channels and Channels generally are gaining comfort with managed services delivery. Same time, the variety and depth of managed services will make it difficult for non-specialists to keep pace with MSP specialists. And SMB Buyer preference for a single source of managed services will have an impact on managed services market and channel development. To put it in context, SMBs are more dependent on technology than ever before. Since 2010, IT staffing has dropped in microbusinesses, and increased in small and midmarket firms. Accordingly, managed services acts as a substitute for IT staff in firms with 1-19 employees, and as a means of augmenting IT management in larger SMBs. SMBs are struggling with IT complexity, and turning to managed services providers for support.

Harry: I want to drill down a layer on the end of your first blog’s conclusion: “Many vendors will struggle with simply understanding this fundamental change in the market, and more will fail to understand the focus and investment required to grow with partners through this transitional period.” I’ve seen three RMM companies reorganize in the past few months. The old GFI marketing team in the UK was let go. AVG had a significant layoff of the old LevelPlatform group and Kaseya just had a shake up letting developers go but hiring a lot of account reps. That’s my evidence. What is your viewpoint?

Anurag: This is not just an RMM problem, it is a channel enablement problem. In the cloud era, established partners need to change: management approach, management metrics, marketing approach, technical service skills, sales approach, and sales comp models. Or they can get displaced…Only yesterday I read somewhere that the HP Inc. channel chief Thomas Jensen had said that Channel partners must grow their business to be more solution-oriented, as a transactional based business may not be enough in five years' time. But at least in the article there was no mention of how this magical transition was going to happen and what is HP Inc. doing to make it happen.

Migration to advanced technologies such as cloud and analytics, which require sophisticated deployment capabilities and often new recurring-revenue-based sales models, has left the traditional channel behind. Vendors are “helping” partners to build the capabilities needed to participate in the growth segments of the IT industry, but their methods are unsurprisingly designed to align the channel with a particular product set. This has the net effect of converting resellers/integrators/consultants into sales agents – which erodes the channel’s basic position as a trusted advisor. There is not a lot of current appetite for vendor-neutral enablement, but there is a great deal of need for it.

Harry: This blog New Wave of SMB Channel conflict in building a cloud practice, I thought the whole idea with cloud was to be more agile. But you make a super tanker reference but call it an inapt comparison. Can you expand in our thinking?

Anurag: Yes, cloud provides agility for the end-customer but for channels it is like turning a super tanker. Building an effective cloud practice within a channel business is a complex undertaking. Using an old metaphor, it has been compared to “turning a supertanker.” This is an inapt comparison, and not just because the vast majority of channel businesses are far smaller than a large ocean vessel. The real problem with the comparison is that turning a supertanker refers to an exercise whose success rests on an anticipation of future change. Certainly, this is part of the problem for the channel – what is the best time to invest in ramping up cloud practice resources? – but the issue has a much greater scope. A successful cloud business practice requires new management metrics, new financial models, new sales processes (and generally, compensation models), new vendor relationships, new marketing activities, new consulting capabilities and new technical support capabilities. To use a nautical analogy, creating a cloud practice within an existing channel business is like building a second boat within your ship, sailing it off in a different direction, and maintaining alignment between the two courses in order to maximize synergies and benefits and reduce expensive discontinuities

Harry: You go on to allude that a cloud practice has to have a new approach and I agree. In my SMB Nation Fall 2015 keynote, I had a slide about firing your staff at your MSP practice. Basically I was saying $100K MCSE on the server-side are irrelevant and expensive on the cloud side. Let’s talk about that. Do we need to fire everyone and use virtual monkeys to do the work?


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MSPs: Learn Enterprise Marketing, on an SMB Budget - Webinar

By Harry Brelsford, CEO, SMB Nation -

MSPs: Learn Enterprise Marketing, on an SMB Budgetmarketing puzzlePS

Join SMB Nation and other MSP's
Tuesday, December 22nd, 2015 at 12:00pm

Marketing is critical for MSPs to maintain their current revenue and grow their bottom line.You’re considering ramping up your marketing efforts in 2016, but is there a realistic way for an MSP owner/operator to accomplish their marketing goals without much time or budget? Where do you start? Where should you focus? What resources are necessary? Let us guide you through the complexity of marketing in a realistic and actionable way.

Click Here To Register!

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Wiser Minds in IoT (Part II of II)

Story by Harry Brelsford, CEO. SMB Nation - 

Last week I painted the IoT picture and enjoyed fantastic feedback. This week I share insights from wiser minds about IoT that I met at the recent AllSeen ( conference in Seattle.

I walked away from the annual gathering impressed with the momentum of IoT and wanted to learn more. Ergo my conversation with these two gentlemen below.

Greg Whelan is the principal of the Greywale Insights ( consultancy. What immediately struck me was how he wanted to pivot the conversation. It was like having an intellectual conversation with Jeff Middleton ( back in the old Small Business Server days when he’d proclaim “let’s turn that argument on its head.” Whelan proposed we refine service providers as “outcome providers.” That’s how he sees the role of the MSP/computer guy in an IoT world. “Small and Medium Businesses (SMBs) want OUTCOMES from a provider. IoT is a whole bucket of tools and services for the outcome provider to “provide” to SMBs.

“The outcome provider will have a role in helping IoT standardization. Currently it’s a DIY market without a set of standards. For example, you can’t utter “Good Night” today and have everything in the smart house respond such as lights, heat, and security.” Whelan shared. “The main point with today’s status is silos. The DIY can buy bits and pieces at Home Depot, Best Buy et al.”harrybiot edited

Whelan’s forward looking statements continued with thoughts concerning standardization. It’ll take web companies who can scale and the outcome provider will deliver agnostic services, not just a Google House or an Apple House.

Which leads to my second conversation about scaling. I spoke with Eric Bozich (Vice President – Product and Marketing CenturyLink). CenturyLink is a sponsor of AllSeen. Bozich’s interest is to provide elements of the IoT value chain that go beyond telecom. “One thing we’re asking ourselves is how our customers are going to consume IoT. IoT will be about solving business problems and consuming services. Bozich stated. “CenturyLink will add value by proactively participating in the development of IoT solutions.”

You heard it here first.

BTW – in my resources below, you can watch a video of Whelan and Bozic. ;0)

I’ll end my two-part series with this thought. If only Radio Shack could have held on! It was IoT before there was IoT. Readers will recall the demise of Radio Shack ( It could have been the IoT Store!

AllSeen Resources

Service Provider Panel Video, featuring Greg & Eric
AllSeen Alliance Events List
AllSeen Alliance Membership Tiers & Companies Participating
Full list of keynote presentations, slides and photos from the AllSeen Summit 2015

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Born Again – IoT Evangelist (Part I of II)

Story by Harry Brelsford, CEO, SMB Nation - 

So where did I stray? I started my geek life as a young ham radio operator in Alaska. Yep – had to pass the test having memorized Morse code (kids won’t get that!). Then it was a software lifestyle and all that brought including a 15-year run with Small Business Server (SBS). All good.allseen seattle edited 1024

But lately, since the demise of SBS, myself and other SBSers have been lost in the wilderness, asking huge questions about the meaning of life and why are we here? We’ve lost a few brothers and systems along the way. But I’m here to say that I’ve been saved by the Internet of Things and you can too!

What led to my being saved by IoT? It was a simple email from Tcat. Many readers recall Tcat is a frequent SMB Nation speaker and author over the past ten years (“New Success Secrets” and “Success Teams”). But there’s more to the story. Tcat was on the original SBS development team in the mid/late-1990s at Microsoft Redmond and owned the early Internet Connection Wizard (ICW) that allowed you to select approved local ISPs for your (ekks) modem-based Internet connection. We become fast friends and have stayed in touch ever since. Tcat always seems to land on his feet whether he is living in Egypt, Mexico or Georgia (true stories).

Tcat’s email was simple. He was in Seattle at an IoT conference called AllSeen (hosted by the AllSeen Alliance). It was a next generation geekfest just a few blocks away and AllSeen had selected Seattle this year for its big show. So I strolled over at Tcat’s recommendation and obtained a press pass so I could attend and report back to my loyal readers.


Here is what I found.

• IoT is the next great thing with silly numbers ($1.9 trillion) in future economic impact.
• IoT is just starting. You can see it for yourself with disparate home electronics “parts” at HomeDepot that don’t talk to each other over a common standard.
• The show was, in my opinion, more enterprise players such as OEMs and service providers (e.g. large telecoms) trying to figure it all out.
• The IoT paradigm is being defined right now, so there is a spoils go to the early bird mentality (sign me up – early is good).
• We’re creating the IoT community as I write this. Think of this as 1998 in SBS-land when folks like Grey Lancaster started a SBS BBS (yikes…modem-based) inside a local school he served in South Carolina). This is your chance to say you were there at the start and I’d encourage you to look into the IoT-friendly trade association Electronics Technicians Association- International (ETA) [] which has served as an above reproach accredited vendor-neutral entity since 1978. (More on ETA in a future blog). Seen in the pic below is Joe Maher from the ETA (center) and Tcat (right).

eta and tcat 1024

                                                        Enjoying networking after the Seattle AllSeen conference.

Community Correlations

So what’s it all mean for the stereotypical tired old male SBSer, who won’t sell anything (according to old school SMB vendors LOL)? It’s a second chance. Most SMB Nation readers were born as geeks and will be buried as geeks. This is your chance to be born again, return to your roots, get your geek on and tinker and toil on the next great thing. Welcome home!

PS – That cool chick in the cover pic? That’s Tenaya Hurst @LininoWoman at the Seattle AllSeen conference. She’s one of us!

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AVG Restructuring SMB Business, Laying Off 35

avg antivirus logo 3216Story by Scott Bekker - 

AVG Technologies is restructuring its managed service provider-centric SMB business division and laying off 35 employees as the unit struggles to meet the company's overall growth goals.

"As we discussed in the last earnings call, our expectation of the uptake of our cloud-based services was not where we wanted it to be as a result of our existing customers' commitment to our traditional on-premise product," said Gary Kovacs, CEO and managing director, according to a Seeking Alpha transcript of AVG's third-quarter earnings call Wednesday.
"To fix this, we have taken specific actions to improve our go-to-market strategy, including a significant restructuring and streamlining of the business and further simplification of our products to make it even easier for our resellers to go out with our products to serve their end customers' needs. These restructuring and leadership changes, we believe, will put us in the right position to capitalize on a large and growing opportunity," he said.

CFO John Little explained the restructuring would include "releasing approximately 35 employees," outsourcing a portion of the help desk and restructuring the management of the division. Little said the moves would save about $3 million over the next 12 months.

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Mr. Shuey Goes to Washington

Story by Jeff Shuey - 

With apologies to Jimmy Stewart for co-opting his classic movie title. This week I went to Washington, DC to meet with my Senate and Congressional representatives. However, it wasn’t just me. There were about 50 people from the Microsoft partner ecosystem covering quite a few states. Many of us are also part of our local IAMCP chapters and a lot of us are also SMB’s.dc vfi visit dept of commerce jeff shuey sitting in the chait waiting for dpty secy

The Voices for Innovation team coordinated the efforts and helped make sure we were ready to meet with our representatives. I’d like to thank Jonathan Friebert and Maddie Orser of Microsoft for putting all the pieces together and for bringing great speakers from Microsoft as well as from industry and governmental agencies.

What does this mean for the SMB Nation?

It’s simple. Microsoft is putting their best foot forward and is Fighting for Your Rights. We focused on seeking support for the LEADS Act – which emphasizes Privacy. You can find more on the VFI website or search for S.512 and H.R.1174.

What Can You Do?

The call to action is simple. Get involved. Search for apps on your mobile device using the term “Congress” and if you are a Windows Phone user this is a great app – Informed American. Connect with your representative’s in-person –in DC if possible and in your home town. They do want to hear from you.

Follow the VFI team on Twitter @VFIorg and on Facebook.

I’d like to reiterate my thanks to Microsoft and the Voices for Innovation team.

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Building a Profitable and Scalable Cloud Business / SMB Nation Webinar

Sign up today! SMB Nation Webinar 12:00 PM - 1:00 PM PDT. Friday, Oct 30th

Presented by: Harry Brelsford CEO of SMB Nation and Dan Shapero Founder of CLIKCLOUD Digital Marketing

In today’s ever-changing business landscape, cloud computing is profoundly shifting the way businesses operate. As more SMBs are moving to a cloud-based strategy, new growth opportunities are opening up for channel partners seeking a competitive advantage in the channel.clikCloudlogo2

This session will examine the latest trends impacting SMBs and how they present unique opportunities for channel partners.
Attendees will learn:
● Learn how leveraging Office 365, among other best practices can help build a successful cloud business.
● Gain exclusive IDC research on the latest trends fueling channel success in cloud.
● Explore how leading Cloud Service Providers are capitalizing on Cloud as a “Door Opener”.
● Discover ways to recalibrate your sales compensation to support the Cloud business model.
● Learn about exclusive offers for to help partners implement Microsoft SureStep and Modern Marketing Programs.

Registration Link >

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Defining the 'I' In Small Business CIO

Story by Tom Flynn - 

Big data and analytics market growth is far outpacing overall IT market growth, and that means the need for IT professionals who know what to do with the piles of data collected by businesses is growing just as fast. In fact, the McKinsey Global Institute predicts as many as 190,000 data scientist positions in the United States will remain unfilled by 2018. On top of that, some 1.5 million managers and analysts will lack the skills to understand and make decisions based on big data analysis.Big Data

“To capture the full economic potential of big data, companies and policy makers will have to address the talent gap,” McKinsey says. Otherwise, there will be a lot of unfilled potential in U.S. businesses to leverage big data and analytics to hone processes, develop new products, accelerate go-to-market strategies and measure customer sentiment.

The sector most likely to suffer from this skills shortage is the SMB market, which typically lacks the resources to vie for talent against large, deep-pockets competitors. For organizations in that situation, the answer could be to partner with a managed services provider (MSP)--one that delivers easy-to-use data analytics tools that enable SMBs to compete at the level of the big players.

And the time to act is now, since the big data and analytics market is poised to grow at a 26 percent yearly rate to $41.5 billion in 2018, six times faster than the overall IT market, according to IDC projections. That means if you can’t figure out how to leverage data analytics soon, others surely will – and some of them might just eat your lunch.

Click here to read more.

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Sasquatch + Slack Webinar Series: Hello World! (1 of 3)

By Harry Brelsford, CEO, SMB Nation

Join the Queen of Lean as she introduces Sasquatch, the Slack companion application that transforms chat into workflow. In this introductory session, you will discover how you can use Sasquatch + Slack to run your MSP and CSP. Read more at importantly, you will learn about Slack and why it is the fastest growing enterprise software on the planet. Yes – you too can be a Sasquatch Slack Consultant to your SMB customers as a new service -- and it's easier than you think. Join this story-telling session to learn how Barry and Bonnie learn how to pivot their internal MSP and CSP operations using the dynamic duo -- Sasquatch + Slack.

This webinar is October 15, 2015 at Noon (12:00pm – Pacific = UTC-7)
Sign-up here:

Webinar Series
#1: How Barry and Bonnie transform their customer experience with Sasquatch + Slack
#2: Adding Sasquatch + Slack to your services portfolio
#3: Sasquatch + Slack custom solutions

Hosted by Grace Schroeder. CEO of Idea2.comgrace2
"Product/marketing professional with expertise in product launch and sales management systems in Financial Services and Telecommunications industries. Grace is now the CEO of Idea2 LTD, a business that builds custom CRM applications with an emphasis on third party application integrations. Competing with “out of the box” CRM solutions like Salesforce, Idea2’s custom cloud platforms are built 10x faster and at a fraction of the cost of custom development. With this, companies are able to connect their core platforms with current and future third party apps. Idea2 combines all of the elements of a developer platform, custom applications, and harmonious integrations that efficiently share data and workflow."

+ Harry Brelsford (you already know him!)
This webinar is October 15, 2015 at Noon (12:00pm – Pacific = UTC-7)
Sign-up here:

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Without a Web Hosting, Web Dev or Digital Marketing play, your practice may end up in the Doghouse

GoDaddyGoDaddyMarketing and IT — they’ve never been strange bedfellows, because, well, they’ve seldom been in bed together. In most organizations, they’ve slept in different rooms, if you know what I mean.

But here’s the thing: The terms of endearment have changed. Marketing has become so technology-driven, that you at least have to flirt with it. If you haven’t considered offering web hosting, website development, and other forms of digital marketing tools to your clients, you do so at your own peril.

This came to me as I reviewed the results of a just-released survey by RedShift Research sponsored by GoDaddy. It showed that a huge amount of money is sitting on the table among a still vast number of small businesses that have yet to take even the first, most basic step to get online with a simple website.

Getting them there may open the door more opportunities. “Companies that get online are likely to use other IT services,” GoDaddy SVP Steven Aldrich told me as we discussed the significance of the just-released survey.

Or as GoDaddy put it in announcing its findings:

“While those planning to build a website are as likely to telephone a customer as they are to email them, the survey found that those already with a website were twice as likely to communicate via email as to phone. That suggests that as these very small businesses get their own online presence, their communication practices will change, perhaps as they become more digitally sophisticated and their customer base grows.”

Note: Those “other services” extend beyond email. Digital marketing is on its way to becoming the next great imperative among all businesses, even including the very small ones (five employees or less) constituting the RedStart-GoDaddy survey universe.

Digital marketing is 90 percent technology-driven. Ergo, you, dear IT pro, will be an essential and trusted advisor on on this matter.

Let’s say you have a contract customer. Yes, you’re offering email, telephony, network management and monitoring. Great. But helping your customers with a website can also lead to a daisy chain of other related services — email marketing, marketing automation, live chat, reputation management, and a host of other related platforms.

This represents a huge potential opportunity. Consider: A surprising 59 percent businesses in the RedStart-GoDaddy survey didn’t have a website. Extrapolate: That means about 118 million small businesses need someone to help them get a Website — and then grow into other services.

And heaven help them if you don’t. Their competition promises to eat them alive. Look at these two other survey results:

59 percent of those respondents who already have a website say their business grew.
83 percent of small business owners who already own a website feel they have a competitive advantage over those without one.
Don’t write off those businesses without a website as hopelessly and forever behind the times. Of those surveyed, 55 percent said they intend to create a website in the next two years.


One other note of interest about the GoDaddy survey: It exemplifies the extent to which the company has re-calibrated its strategy. Remember those racy Danika Patrick Super Bowl ads? Gone.

“We’re talking about GoDaddy to the customers we’ve always had,” Aldrich said. “Much of our advertising and marketing is about the day-to-day effort by small businesses to keep the lights on.

“So our creative has shifted away from the sensational to that small business struggle.”

And that to note as well because where small businesses are pained is exactly where you can most gain.

by Patrick Houston, Editor-in-Chief, SMB Nation

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Lenovo announces new SMB series PCs

Small businesses are different—they require scalable and flexible tools and technology tailored to SMBs to best serve their business and customers. 


Lenovo announced today a new portfolio of laptops and desktops  designed to increase efficiency, safeguard business data and support collaboration, including the ThinkPad E and S series desktops. 


“Small business users want to be mobile and secure and seek reliable high performance computing to work on their terms. Laptops for total mobile flexibility with excellent battery life or stylish desktops to meet the rigorous tasks of today’s office and retail environments,” said Dilip Bhatia, vice president PC Design and Marketing, Lenovo. “Our latest range of products designed for small businesses deliver on all fronts and offer customers peace of mind with class-leading security features, renowned reliability and performance options giving them the freedom to work how they want.”


ThinkPad E series PCs will be available in November and S series all-in-one and small form factor desktops will be available in select markets in Q4 2015, as will a variety of laptops designed for SMBs.

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Dell releases SonicWALL series designed for SMBs and enterprises

Dell releases SonicWALL series designed for SMBs

Wireless networks are necessary for almost all businesses both at the small business and enterprise level, yet securing networks that include myriad systems and users can be costly and dangerous to data if not properly selected or maintained.

Dell announced today availability of its SonicWALL TZ Wireless Firewall Series, wireless network security solutions designed to deliver 802.11ac wireless performance and security for at a low cost.

"Attacks against all networks – including wireless networks – are becoming more sophisticated, and require a solution that ensures the highest level of security without compromising performance or bandwidth. We observed a 100 percent increase in the use of HTTPS traffic to obfuscate content,” said Patrick Sweeney, Dell Security executive director. “Whether that is wired or wireless traffic, it’s a problem for security. Dell SonicWALL TZ wireless firewalls support the latest high-speed 802.11ac wireless standard, as well as the ability to inspect encrypted traffic, helping to ensure ultra-secure connectivity. Our TZ wireless firewalls also provide a multi-layered approach to security that leverages our industry-leading deep packet inspection, application intelligence, control and visualization, as well as central management technology to provide an easy-to-deploy, high performing solution for both SMBs and large, distributed enterprises."

The TZ wireless firewalls can be combined with other solutions to scale to different environments.

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D&H to deliver XYZprinting 3D printers to SMBs, education sector

3D printer manufacturer XYZprinting announced today it partnered with D&H Distributing to expand distribution of its 3D printers and products.

Its printers are the most affordable worldwide, according to XYZprinting, as it strives to open the door to 3D accessibility for SMBs and the K-12 and higher education sectors.

“XYZprinting offers a wide variety of 3D printers to satisfy different customer needs at a competitive pricepoints. We’re thrilled to provide their industry-leading, accessible and affordable 3D printers to our rapidly expanding list of customers,” said Rob Eby, vice president of purchasing at D&H. “As 3D printing continues to drive demand in the marketplace, especially in the education sector, we look forward to working with XYZprinting to increase consumer accessibility to these sought-after solutions.”  

The XYZprinting 3D printers start at $399, and users can build everything from phone and music player cases to children’s toys.

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Kaspersky Releases New Version of Kaspersky Small Office Security

Kaspersky Lab, an endpoint protection solution provider, announced today the latest edition of Kaspersky Small Office Security, a security solution built for SMBs with fewer than 25 employees that protects Windows- and Mac-based devices.KSOS 4 main screen PC

SMBs, frequently targeted by cybercriminals because of perceived easier access to data, require increased security in an increasingly dangerous digital environment.

“Running a small business can be very exciting and fun, but being small doesn’t mean being less noticeable by cybercriminals. It’s very important for businesses to pay more attention to ensuring their cybersecurity, and Kaspersky Small Office Security has made it easy. It’s straightforward to install, simple to configure, and easy to maintain, so that business owners can get on with doing what they do best: making the company a success,” Konstantin Voronkov, Head of Endpoint Product Management, Kaspersky Lab.

Key features of the new edition include enhanced threat protection, cloud-based management console and password management, and improvements to security for financial data.

P.S. Be sure to attend our online Office 365 connected conference, June 2-3. No travel, no hotel, no traffic! Sign up at

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My Digital Shield Appoints Caleb Sima to Advisory Board

Security-as-a-Service provider My Digital Shield announced today Caleb Sima, executive chairman co-founder of Blueblox Security, has joined MDS’ advisory board. my digital shield

“We’re thrilled to welcome Caleb to our advisory board and are confident that his unparalleled expertise in web security technologies will be a significant asset to our team,” MDS CEO Andrew Bagrin said. “His understanding of the field and insight into emerging trends will be a driving force in helping expand MDS’ growth.”

Sima has more than 20 years of experience in the web security industry, and was chosen for his ability to expand MDS’s expertise within the security space and accelerate growth in IT channel and SMB markets.

Information and biographies on MDS advisory board members are available here.

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My Digital Shield Hires Jason Graf as VP of Operations

my digital shield

SMB Security-as-a-Service provider My Digital Shield announced today Jason Graf joined its executive team as vice president of operations, a role in which Graf will provide operational oversight for implementation, management and support of MDS services.

“My Digital Shield has offered me the opportunity to leverage my background in IT security, particularly within the SMB space, to aid both partners and their customers in maximizing usage of MDS’ security solutions,” Jason Graf said. “I look forward to helping grow our team’s expertise within the always intriguing world of IT security.”

Graf most recently worked at The IT Company LLC as director of project services, and MDS CEO Andrew Bagrin said his extensive experience in IT and project management is vital to the growing MDS executive team.






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Tableau Conference Kicks Off Seventh Annual Event

tableauTableau Software, a business analytics company, announced the launch of its 7th annual Tableau Conference, taking place this week in Seattle, WA. There are over 5500 customers and partners expected to attend, with a wide range of sessions available for attendees.

“This is the event of the year for our customers, partners and employees,” said Elissa Fink, Chief Marketing Officer at Tableau Software. “They come together and create an environment that is electric. This year’s event sold out six weeks early and will be our biggest one yet.”

These sessions include 270 breakout presentations, four major keynotes, including one from Neil DeGrasse Tyson on Wednesday, and 50 hands-on labs.

For more information about the Tableau Conference, please visit the site here.

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Epson Releases New Series of Smart Printers for SMB Environments

epsonEpson recently announced the debut of eleven WorkForce printer models designed for SMBs, SOHOs, and Engineers. These printer models all utilize the company’s next generation technology, PrecisionCore, which allows for a consistent print quality across the life of the device.

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Cable Giant Comcast delivers Wi-Fi service for SMBs

It’s no secret that providing wireless internet connections is a big deal for consumer businesses. Starbucks has made a lot of money selling overpriced coffee to students, businesspeople and wannabe-J.K. Rowlings because they can get free Wi-Fi by walking through the door.

But simply offering a hotspot connection is not actually as simple as buying an 802.11N router at Best Buy and plugging it in. There are several factors to consider and those factors have left an opportunity for the likes of Cisco Meraki and GoBig to create specialized devices and services that help businesses like restaurants, hotels, boutiques, spas, salons and even golf courses offer secure, reliable and useful WI-FI services to customers.

Today Comcast announced it is getting into the game too, launching a new offering for its Internet customers – the Business Wireless Gateway that not only delivers Internet connectivity, but does so with the added security of a dual band service that keeps critical back office operations separated from the riff raff.

“Today’s ‘main street’ small businesses want to offer Wi-Fi to their customers to get them in the store and keep them coming back, but concerns can arise from over security and how challenging it will be to set up and maintain a Wi-Fi network,” said Matt Davis, director of Consumer and Small Business Telecom Services at IDC in a Comcast statement.

“The Business Wireless Gateway from Comcast Business gives SMBs a single box solution to quickly set up both public and private Wi-Fi, with public access being managed and maintained over the Comcast network. This can alleviate security concerns because customers are not accessing the same Wi-Fi network that your employees are.”

John GuillaumeAccording to John Guillaume, vice president of Product Development, Comcast Business, the new service is targeted at SMBs with as few as three and as many as 100 users, “but anyone buying our high speed Internet product is eligible.”

The technology is also scalable with WiFi extenders going on sale later this month to expand the physical coverage area making campus service possible.

Regarding costs, Guillaume said, “The Business Wireless Gateway and Business WiFi are value added services that are included with our most popular Internet speeds – from 16 Mbps to 150Mbps – for no additional cost. We have an existing $9.95 equipment fee for Internet and voice customers and the device is included in that.”

So the cost for the basic level of plan, including Comcast Internet with 16 Mbps download and 3 Mbps upload speed for up to three people, is $69.95 per month plus the equipment rental. The new offering will be sold through all of Comcast’s direct and indirect channels, so distributors like Synnex (one of Comcast’s largest channel partners) will be offering it.

This move isn’t a shocking one for Comcast. Like other cable and telecom providers such as Time Warner, Verizon and AT&T, the company has been targeting the SMB segment of the U.S. business communications market – which some analysts value at $20 to $30 billion – for expansion. The company will deploy SIP trunking capabilities by the end of the year, significantly enhancing its VoIP offerings for the larger end of the SMB market (Comcast Business has traditionally focused on small businesses) and potentially to larger enterprises in the future.

Moreover, Comcast Business recently softened the ground by sponsored research by market analyst firm Bredin Research that indicated small businesses got significant ROI , including better customer satisfaction levels and higher sales, from offering free WiFi than they did from other common patron-oriented conveniences.

Key findings:

  • WiFi is equally or more effective at making patrons feel welcome than other amenities such as magazines (94 percent), community bulletin boards (91 percent), candy (90 percent) or water (86 percent).
  • Nearly eight in 10 businesses offering WiFi (79 percent) say it helps keep customers happy while they wait. Sixty-five percent report it has encouraged repeat business, and 55 percent say it has brought in new customers.
  • More than half (55 percent) of businesses providing Wi-Fi believe it has resulted in higher sales per customer visit.

“Many different types of customers – coffee shops, law firms, real estate offices, gyms, libraries and more – want to attract and retain visitors to their location and give employees the tools they need to be more productive. Wi-Fi can be critical on both fronts, and this device can help make that easy to manage,” said Guillaume, in a statement. 

comcast business logo

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Belkin Announces New Partner Program for SMB Resellers

Belkin Linksys PPYesterday, Belkin International announced the debut of its new PartnerAdvantage Program, a reseller program designed to support the growth of SMB IT Professionals. As many of you remember, Belkin acquired Linksys in March of 2013, and the organization has been able to offer both power management solutions, as well as infrastructure solutions ever since.

I was able to speak with Belkin’s VP of Product Management, Mike Chen, a week ago, and he went into the finer points of this partner program with me, as well as some new product announcements (to be covered in a later blog). To begin, Mr. Chen explained that this new partner program combines the best of both Belkin’s and Linksys’ existing partner programs, and that it is open to all current partners.

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Day One at the Parallels Summit 2014: SMB Cloud Insights, Reseller Role in Cloud Environment

Parallels Summit LogoGood day, SMB Nation Community. I am writing to you live from the Parallels Summit 2014 in New Orleans, LA this week, and I am pleased to share the Day One news with you all. I will begin by covering the Parallels SMB Cloud Insights Report findings for 2014, then I’ll move on to highlights from the two panels I was able to attend today, one of which was on SMB Cloud Computing trends, and the other was the Future of Cloud.

The big story out of the Parallels Summit today is of course the release of the company’s SMB Cloud Insights report findings for 2014. This study, which has just completed its fourth year, is the result of over 12,000 SMB interviews across 14 countries. This year’s report showed a significant increase in the cloud opportunity for SMBs. The SMB market is expected to continue this growth, with a predicted 26% CAGR increase up to $125 billion by 2016.

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Lenovo Releases Q3 2013 Results, Reports SMB Growth

lenovoLenovo recently announced the results of its third fiscal quarter, which ended December 31, 2013. Harry and I were actually able to speak to Lenovo’s ‎Vice President North America Commercial Channels and SMB, Chris Frey, bright and early this morning, and he gave us the rundown on the record-setting quarter for the company and what it meant for the SMB Channel.

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Linksys Adds New Surveillance Solutions to SMB Offerings

linksysLinksys recently announced the addition of four new IP surveillance cameras, and a new network video recorder to its number of solutions for SMB customers. The company explained that the cameras and network recorder are designed to work in synch and are priced to fit an SMB budget.

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Dell Releases PartnerDirect Program Updates with Channel Focus

Dell Executive Panel resizedToday at Dell World 2013, Dell released a series of enhancements to its PartnerDirect Program designed to strengthen Channel focus. These enhancements include three new initiatives, as well as updated partner opportunities.

(Pictured: Dell Executive Panel making the PartnerDirect announcement today at Dell World 2013. Photo by Joshua Liberman)

The Dell PartnerDirect Program is now in its 6th year and accounts for roughly 1/3 of the company’s revenue. As of today’s announcement, the PartnerDirect Program has 143,000 global partners. As some of you recall, the company made an announcement in November that it was combining the channel and direct sales teams into one organization to foster collaboration and customer care, as well as improving the go-to-market model, which allows partners to increase predictable profits and decision-making speed.

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HP Releases New Desktops, Print Solutions for SMBs

hpEarlier today, HP announced a series of additions to their personal computing device and printing lines to better meet the needs of SMBs. I spoke to Page Murray late last week, who also mentioned that HP has done a major overhaul of their partner program, which can be found here.

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Flex Announces InsureXSolutions to Help SMB Employees Find Health Care Plans

Earlier this month, Flexible Benefit Service Corporation, or Flex, released a site dedicated to helping employees of SMB organizations find a proper, affordable health care plan, as required by the Affordable Care Act. Flex, a company with 25 years of experience, currently serves over 5000 partner groups in Illinois.

“For many small-to-midsize businesses, group health insurance plans are simply too expensive,” said John DiVito, President of Flex. “However, many SMBs recognize the pressure, financial burden and confusion facing their employees. By working with InsureXSolutions, small businesses can give employees the ability to select individual health plans from numerous insurance companies that will fit their lifestyle and budgets. Along the way, employees are supported by a call center with licensed insurance professionals who can help them find the right coverage.”

Flex developed InsureXSolutions to be a simpler way to navigate the waters of ACA-compliance. As of this writing, the ACA requires all employees (individuals) to have health care coverage by March 31, 2014. For organizations with 50 or more employees, the responsibility falls to the company to provide a plan by Jan 1, 2015. For the smaller companies, however, the responsibility rests on the employees to secure a health plan, if the employer does not provide group coverage. For those who do not get a health plan by March 31, 2014, it will cost $95.00 per adult and $47.50 per child or 1% of total income each month. By 2016, this will rise to $695.00 per adult and $347.50 per child or 2.5% of total income per month.

Flex reported that about 70% of SMB businesses in their home state of Illinois are without health insurance, which amounts to approximately 150,000 businesses.

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NetEnrich Releases Enhanced Service Suite for SMBs

NetEnrichToday, NetEnrich, Inc. announced the release of an updated remote services suite designed for SMB organizations. With the updated services, IT Professionals are able to gain better insight into their clients’ infrastructure via remote viewing and management. In addition, they can co-label the NetEnrich platform to include their organization’s logo.

“SMBs can quickly become overwhelmed when it comes to managing their IT infrastructures, and as is often the case, rely on fractional resources that do not always have the knowledge and expertise to identify and resolve each and every issue that may arise within their IT infrastructure,” said Justin Crotty, Senior Vice President and General Manager, NetEnrich, in a press release today.

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Hour of Code + STEM Support Needed

VFIReaders will recall that SMB Nation is an active member of the Microsoft “Voices for Innovation” (VFI) political trade association, and I’ve written many a blog about why you should be as well, regardless of your political affiliation. It’s called LEADERSHIP!

One way you can demonstrate your leadership is to consider the following political opportunities:

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Calling All MSPs: How to Accelerate Cloud Adoption, Remotely Manage Key IT Workloads to Expand your Biz

Darrin Swan 2By Darrin Swan, Director, Global Sales and Business Development, Dell Service Provider Program        

Trying to survive on product margins has been a losing proposition for years, but an equally poor business choice is to offer just a portion of the key IT services that customers require. Comprehensive services are the lifeblood of your business, and MSPs have a prime opportunity to differentiate themselves and expand business by taking a holistic approach. The secret to service success is the same as the channel's long-proven value proposition: becoming your customers' trusted IT partner and focusing on their overarching business priorities, not only their technology needs. That's an ongoing challenge for MSPs, especially when it comes to small and medium businesses.

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Techaisle Survey Uncovers 15 Keys for Successful SMB Cloud Biz Management

techaisle logoWe heard today from our friend and contributing writer Anurag Agrawal, CEO, Techaisle, regarding his firm’s most recent study results. The survey, which was developed to understand the winning strategies for selling Cloud to SMBs, uncovered 15 best practices and critical differences between the activities and approaches of successful and unsuccessful SMB Cloud computing channel partners.

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IDC: Server Market Revenues Decline in 2Q, Demand Remains Weak

IDC New Logo thumbnailAccording to the IDC Worldwide Quarterly Server Tracker, factory revenue in the worldwide server market decreased -6.2% year over year to $11.9 billion in the second quarter of 2013. This was the second consecutive quarter of year-over-year revenue decline, as server market demand continued to soften in most geographic regions. Server unit shipments decreased -1.2% year over year in 2Q13 to 2.0 million units, the third consecutive quarter where year-over-year server shipments have declined.

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Hang on Fast – Ballmer out!

ballmer2 webActually, it was a brilliant move on Microsoft’s part, when they announced Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer’s pending retirement (last week) on a slow news day--a Friday in late August. Better yet–the Ballmer news competed with the Windows 8.1 Release To Manufacturing (RTM) rumor, so it was diluted. It’s right out of the Washington DC political playbook: Release bad news on a Friday in late August!

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ZyXEL Debuts Series of 10G, Gigabit Ethernet Managed Switches

ZyXEL logoZyXEL Communications is now offering complete series of Layer 2 10G and gigabit managed switches designed with enterprise-class features for uninterruptable operation, redundancy, optimal routing and bandwidth management and high power Power Over Ethernet Plus (PoE+) support. The 3700 series includes a combination of 10G / gigabit, 24 / 48 ports, PoE+ / non-PoE switches that are ideally suited to data centers, SMB core networks, and other mission-critical PoE applications.

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Do You Make More (or Less) than Your Peers?

SMB Nation Reveals Results of Its 7th Annual Salary Survey

RangeOfCompBy Anurag Agrawal, CEO, Techaisle

SMB Nation’s 2013 Channel Partner Salary survey reveals that the average salary of channel partner employee is US$101,062 which is up 9 percent from 2012 when it was US$92,544. Analysis of the salary ranges shows that the highest percentages of employees fall within the US$71,000 – US$100,000 gross salary range. In fact, slightly less than one-third get a salary within that range.

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McAfee Appoints New SVP of SMB Division

mfe primary logo rgb.smallThis morning, McAfee released news that they have named Bill Rielly as the Senior Vice President for the company’s SMB division. In his new role, Mr. Rielly will work with company President, Michael DeCesare, on strengthening McAfee’s global presence in the SMB sector.

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WD Releases SMB Rack Mount Option

wd Sentinel RX4100 front left 052413 2In an interview earlier this week with Thomas Gallivan, Vice President of Marketing at Western Digital, I had the chance to learn more about the company’s new Sentinel RX4100 device, as well as how WD plans to function in the SMB Channel. Needless to say, it was an interesting conversation.  I learned that WD is currently celebrating 15 months in the SMB space, where they are supporting SMB Storage Servers.

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Microsoft Announces (and Congratulates) its US Partners of the Year

Microsoft today drew our attention to a blog post highlighting its US Partners of the Year, who will be recognized and awarded for their accomplishments in July at the company’s Worldwide Partner Conference in Houston. 

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Karl Palachuk Offers SMB Nation Members a Special Discount

Karl HeadshotKarl Palachuk, President of Great Little Book Publishing Co., Inc. and well-respected SMB IT community author, will be hosting an online-only conference for IT Pros June 25-27. As a nod to his long-time friendship with SMB Nation, he is offering a discount code for $150.00 off the full event price.

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Karl and Manuel Palachuk to Speak at Online Conference in June

SMB Online Conference 2013Small Biz Thoughts recently announced that Founder, Karl Palachuk and his brother, Manuel Palachuk, both of whom are well-respected voices in the IT industry, will be presenting sessions for the company’s IT Business Reboot 2013 online conference between 9:00 am and 4:00 pm PDT June 25-27. The two brothers each have over 25 years of experience in the SMB field, and in 2009, they co-authored a how-to guide for zero-downtime network migrations.

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eVoice Survey Reveals SMB Mobile Use Trends

eVoice Logo (image credit: PRWeb)eVoice yesterday released the results of a survey commissioned in Feb 2013 and conducted by j2 Global  to measure how SMB owners are using mobile devices in the workplace. The survey respondents were approximately 500 SMB owners from randomly selected websites.

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Datto Inc. Announces New BDR Solution for SMBs

Datto ALTOToday, Datto, Inc. announced the launch of a new solution designed to provide both on-site and off-site BDR to SMBs. The new solution, called Datto ALTO, is built to be scalable and affordable.

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Cbeyond Releases New Cloud Management Portal for SMB Customers

Cbeyond logoToday, Cbeyond, Inc. announced the availability of a new one-stop online portal which will allow customers to better monitor and manage their cloud services. The Cbeyond Online portal is a self-serve offering that can be accessed via web browser or mobile devices, and will support the company’s cloud service platform, including newly-added TotalCloud Data Center and Phone System.

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0 Comments Releases Answers to the Top 3 VoIP Questions Asked by Business Owners yesterday released a guide with the three questions business owners who are thinking of swapping to a VoIP solution have asked their community. The organization, an informative online VoIP resource, looked at the differences between the two main types of VoIP, Hosted PBX and IP PBX with SIP Trunking, to answer the three questions below.

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Parks Associates Releases SMB Tech Support Survey Results

Parks Associates logoYesterday, Parks Associates, a Dallas, TX-based analyst firm, released the results of their study on SMB titled: “Small/Medium Business: Tech Support Opportunities.” The report showed that over half (55%) of the 500 SMBs polled experienced computer issues over the last year, and that they are shying away from face-to-face consultancies.

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Spiceworks Study Covers BDR in the SMB Space

Spiceworks logoSpiceworks today released the results of a recent Carbonite-sponsored survey of SMBs concerning BDR and data protection. Overall, the survey found that 45% of SMBs have experienced significant data loss.

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Acumatica Releases Technology Adoption Profile Study Results

Acumatica logoYesterday, Acumatica, a Kirkland, WA-based Cloud ERP services provider, released the results of their Technology Adoption Report. This study, titled “Cloud ERP: An Adaptable, Consumable, And Flexible Option for Medium-Size Businesses,” was conducted by Forrester Consulting and covers the key benefits and concerns expressed by SMBs concerning the adoption of Cloud ERP.

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Constant Contact Releases Technology Pulse Survey Results

Constant Contact logoYesterday, Constant Contact, a Massachusetts-based online marketing company, released the results of their second Technology Pulse survey. Approximately 1305 participants from various B2B and B2C organizations on the Constant Contact Small Biz Council provided insight on the top tools to earn new customers and keep existing customers engaged.

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SYNNEX to Offer Next-Gen Office 365 Services

SYNNEX LogoToday, the SYNNEX Corporation announced that they will begin to resell the next generation of Office 365 services. As part of today’s announcement, SYNNEX resellers will also be able to use their own billing processes and sales models.

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Clearwire Releases 4G Wireless Broadband Offerings

Clearwire LogoYesterday, Clearwire Corporation announced a new 4G wireless broadband service for SMB customers. CLEAR Professional will be available beginning March 18 in approximately 80 US cities.

The following service options are available for the CLEAR Professional offering:

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Broadvox Releases New Feature Guide for SMB VoIP Users

Broadvox logoBroadvox today announced the release of a new Feature Guide for their Managed Hosted Voice service. The goal of this guide is to further education of the Managed Hosted Voice service’s advanced features for both existing and prospective users.

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ADTRAN Expands Channel Partner Program

ADTRAN LogoADTRAN, Inc. this morning announced a series of enhancements to their Channel Partner Program. As part of this announcement, ADTRAN, Inc. will expand the financial and reward incentives for all three levels of their program.

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Techaisle: Worldwide SMB Mobile Workforce to Grow to 298M in 2016

Our friends at Techaisle are releasing a new study tomorrow, which they gave us a sneak peek at today. The report discusses the analyst firm’s research on global SMB mobile workforce forecast, which shows that by 2016 there will be slightly over 298 million SMB employees who will be mobile workers. One-fourth will be from the mid-market segment. Nearly 150 million SMB employees will be telecommuting and over 120 million will travel on business. The number of cloud users will likely jump from less than 140 million in 2012 to over 200 million in 2016.

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Thank You Small Business Campaign Launches Tonight in NYC

It’s no secret that the U.S. economy (and in turn) U.S. small businesses have been hit hard over the past few years.  Despite a lot of discussions from the government, corporations and the media, it is not getting easier to grow a small business, and our economy has a long way to go before we fully recover.  As efforts continue to stimulate the economy with huge corporate bailouts and the ongoing frenzy to find and fund the next big start up, the true backbone of our economy- small businesses- continue to fight every day to keep their businesses alive and, as a result, our economy going--and they don’t get a lot of appreciation or support.

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Intuit 2012 Small Business Employment Index Results Released

Intuit LogoIntuit, Inc. today announced the results of the 2012 Small Business Employment Report for December and for 2012 overall. According to the report, there was a small overall increase in the small business employment sector. Wages and hours worked also increased.

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