Category Archives for "Managed Services News"

Mar 20

WFH Cybersecurity Concerns: Experts Weigh in on Phishing

By | Managed Services News

More employees are working from home, using personal devices.

Do your customers have a security plan in place for their remote workers?

Cybersecurity Ventures' Steve Morgan

Cybersecurity Ventures’ Steve Morgan

Employees have moved into home offices in droves as more and more local governments issue “stay-at-home” and “shelter-in-place” orders. Employers have good reason to consider the cybersecurity implications of this situation, said Steve Morgan, founder of Cybersecurity Ventures.

“Employees from organizations of all sizes and types now have minimal cybersecurity resources, if any, compared to what is normally available to them,” Morgan wrote. “If remote workers don’t immediately self-educate, and if businesses don’t immediately provide their employees with security awareness training centered on the home office threat, then we could see global cybercrime damage costs as much as double by the end of this year.”

PC Matic’s Rob Cheng noted that most employees will now be using personal devices to hop onto company networks.

PC Matic's Rob CHeng

PC Matic’s Rob CHeng

It’s a “security hole,” according to Cheng.

“First, it is unclear what, if any, security solutions are installed on these devices. Second, employees are using the devices for dual purposes – personal and professional,” Cheng wrote. “… If an employee is connected to their corporate network for work purposes, then checks personal email or logs into social platforms potentially clicking on malware-riddled webpage the malware not only can, but will spread to the company’s network through the remote access port.”

This expanded attack surface makes phishing a bigger concern than ever. Last year’s Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report showed how popular a method phishing has become. Robert Herjavec, founder and CEO of an MSSP called Herjavec Group, said IT and security and security teams said phishing attacks will increase as threat actors “thrive on chaos.”

“You may want to start or continue a phishing simulation to keep employees on their toes. Either way – keep in mind that while the health and safety of your teams is paramount, cyber hygiene should never take a back seat,” Herjavec wrote in a blog post.

An Ohio business recently sued its MSP for allegedly failing protect the customer from a $1.7 million phishing scam.

JS Group's Janet Schijns

JS Group’s Janet Schijns

JS Group CEO Janet Schijns advised partners that they should team up with a company that has a security practice if they themselves don’t have one.

“As people begin to work virtually, it has become very critical that you understand that data at motion is data at risk,” Schijns told Channel Partners earlier this week.

Mar 20

AWS Tackling COVID-19 with Research Funding

By | Managed Services News

Plus, Google was taking Cloud Next virtual – now, not so much. And find out what’s happening with Wipro and Cloudera.

From pressing vendor reactions to COVID-19 to more channel-centric announcements, the week has not lacked for news. Check out what’s going on with AWS, Google Cloud, Wipro and Cloudera.

AWS Pours $20M Into COVID-19 Research

Research and scientific institutions that use Amazon Web Services could get a piece of the $20 million Amazon is committing to COVID-19 diagnostics, research and testing.

AWS's Teresa Carlson

AWS’s Teresa Carlson

“The program will be open to accredited research institutions and private entities that are using AWS to support research-oriented workloads for the development of point-of-care diagnostics (testing that can be done at home or at a clinic with same-day results),” Teresa Carlson, vice president worldwide public sector at AWS, wrote in a blog on Friday. “Given the need, the emphasis initially will be on COVID-19, but we will also consider other infectious disease diagnostic projects.”

The AWS Diagnostic Development Initiative aims to bring about faster testing and earlier, accurate detection of the novel coronavirus that has spread into a global pandemic. One of the key areas where AWS says it can help is in delivering compute power that supports the analytics and machine learning needed to hasten understanding of COVID-19.

AWS already has recruited 35 startups, businesses and research institutions for the DDI.

“This is a global health emergency that will only be resolved by governments, businesses, academia and individuals working together to better understand this virus and ultimately find a cure,” Carlson said.

Google Postpones Online Version of Cloud Next

Likely hampered by San Francisco’s “shelter in place” requirements amid the COVID-19 outbreak, Google has indefinitely postponed the online version of its annual cloud conference.

A few weeks back, Google canceled the in-person event, which was scheduled to start April 6, due to the coronavirus pandemic. The company said it would move forward with a remote replacement April 6-8.

That is not to be, however. This week, Google said it has axed Cloud Next 2020 altogether until “we have a better sense of the evolving situation.”

“Right now, the most important thing we can do is focus our attention on supporting our customers, partners, and each other,” Google said in a blog.

Google did not point to a specific reason for the change other than to reference the need to ensure the health and safety of employees, partners, customers and local communities, and adhere to state and federal decisions. It’s not a stretch to infer that Google is talking about the shelter in place edict in northern California, a restriction that would stymie the ability to record and roll out videos and other content even for a virtual event.

Wipro Launches Dedicated Microsoft Business Unit

More cloud-centric channel partners are specializing in just one or two vendors, and Wipro is the latest to join the trend.

The India-based systems integrator said this week it has launched its Microsoft Business Unit, built on Azure.

Microsoft and Wipro have worked together for a number of years; Wipro is a Microsoft Gold Competency Partner. Now, it is ramping up investment on the Azure side as it helps enterprise adopt more cloud platform and upgrade their technology.

“With this partnership, we will…

Mar 20

6 Ways to Help Your MSP Stay Healthy During COVID-19

By | Managed Services News

To better serve customers new, varied needs, resources must be redirected, processes and protocols must be adjusted, and MSPs must remain nimble as the situation evolves.

Our realities have all been turned upside down by COVID-19, a.k.a. the coronavirus. Life has been disrupted in ways unimaginable a few months, or even weeks, ago, and they are likely to remain this way for an unknown period of time.

At the same time, life must go on. And MSPs must play an essential role in helping that continue.

All of your customers are scrambling to adjust to this new way of life. Some of their businesses are going to face massive slowdowns if they’re not forced to shutter completely, at least temporarily. Meanwhile, other clients are going to lean on their IT services harder than ever to remain productive during this crisis. MSPs are already in the remote management business, so social distancing will come easy, but it’s going to be a whole new thing for many customers.

To better serve their new, varied needs, not to mention keep your own operations running as smoothly as possible, resources must be redirected, processes and protocols must be adjusted, and MSPs must remain nimble as the situation evolves. Here are six things you can do to prepare for and cope with what’s underway … and what’s to come.

  1. Working from home means more work for MSPs.

To minimize transmission of COVID-19 (coronavirus), organizations able to have their employees work from home will do so. For some businesses, this may merely increase their VPN usage or require a few new sets of credentials and access for particular employees and systems.

But for other operations, shifting work off-site will be a massive, unexpected transition. For example, school districts, colleges and universities will be relying on remote learning at unprecedented levels they neither anticipated nor designed their systems for.

Even for companies that already embraced remote working and that have processes and systems in place, there’s a percentage of workers who haven’t taken advantage of the model before. They won’t have VPN clients on their laptops–if they have laptops at all. New credentials may need provisioning, new apps may need installing, and new hardware or virtual servers may be required.

There is also going to be a massive learning curve for many new to remote work, which will result in a flood of support inquiries. Folks contacting tech support are rarely in a great mood to begin with, but there will be a higher percentage than usual of people panicking that things aren’t working or that they’re not doing things correctly.

Recommendation: Stagger staffing for better coverage as more off-hours work is likely.

Recommendation: Automate as many routine tasks as possible to free up resources for emergency developments.

  1. Current systems will be taxed to the max.

When key business systems experience a massive increase in usage, there will inevitably be some hiccups and bottlenecks. MSPs must be vigilant with their performance monitoring to minimize disruptions.

As MSPs see usage spiking they should be proactively increasing capacity and bandwidth in consultation with their clients to prevent outages or spotty service. It’s better to get ahead of things and beef up their service levels than deal with complaints about crashes and sluggish performance.

Recommendation: Monitor usage rates for signs of potential overload.

Recommendation: Check in with key clients to discuss their expected needs.

  1. A crash course in cloud computing will be required.

Customers already leveraging cloud computing and storage may need to increase their utilization of these service, but others that have stayed on the sidelines may find themselves forced to jump on the bandwagon in a hurry.

There will be a steep learning curve for these organizations, so you should be prepared to serve as a trusted advisor, trainer and teacher during this transition. Recommending appropriate services and onboarding employees is a key value-added benefit MSPs can offer.

Recommendation: Proactively assess and recommend changes to current cloud services or the need for new ones to manage the increase in remote work.

  1. Customers will need help locking things down.

As the economic impact of social distancing and quarantining takes hold, business will be laying off or furloughing employees. Those workers once had access to various internal systems and servers, and credential and access management must be

Mar 20

COVID-19 Stalls Xerox’s Bid for HP

By | Managed Services News

Xerox to focus on the health of employees, customers and partners — for now.

Just when it seemed that nothing could stop Xerox’s relentless bid for HP Inc., along came COVID-19. In light of the pandemic, Xerox prioritized its focus on the health and safety of employees, customers and partners over its pursuit to acquire HP. 

Xerox put the brakes on its acquisition mission about one week ago, right on the heels of two filings — the first made March 9th  in support of Xerox’s slate of independent candidates to replace the HP board of directors at HP’s 2020 annual meeting of shareholders and the second made on March 10th to seek approvals from its shareholders related to the issuance of Xerox shares in connection with its offer to acquire HP.

HP hasn’t issued any press releases in response to Xerox’s filings and acquisition tactics since March 5th.

Xerox's John Visentin

Xerox’s John Visentin

As we closely monitor reports from government and health care leaders across the globe and work with colleagues in the business community to minimize the spread and impact of the virus, we believe it’s prudent to postpone releases of additional presentations, interviews with media and meetings with HP shareholders so we can focus our time and resources on protecting Xerox’s various stakeholders from the pandemic,” said John Visentin, vice chairman and CEO at Xerox. 

At the same time, Xerox was purposeful in its messaging around COVID-19 and the decline in the financial markets and the value of HP shares.  

“For the avoidance of doubt, Xerox does not consider the market decline since the data of its offer or the temporary suspension of trading in HP shares that occurred on March 10, 2020 and March 12, 2020 as a result of marketwide circuit breaker procedures to constitute a failure of any condition to its offer to acquire HP. Xerox will take the same view on any future temporary trading halts, unless otherwise stated in advance.” 

HP's Enrique Lores

HP’s Enrique Lores

While HP hasn’t issued any press releases lately, Enrique Lores, CEO at HP, shed some light on the Xerox-HP standoff in an article published in Barron’s on March 11th. He also addressed talk of HP acquiring Xerox, its much smaller rival. About $40 billion, or two-thirds of HP’s $60 billion in revenue, comes from PCs, an area of its business where Xerox doesn’t compete. Xerox revenue is $10.26 billion. 

Regarding HP’s consistent rejection of Xerox’s acquisition bids, beginning in November 2019, Lores notes his reasons are the same ones the company has stated publicly: the price doesn’t reflect HP’s value, the high leverage a combined company would have and the citing of unrealistic synergies between the two companies. 

What about HP turning the tables on Xerox and acquiring them? 

“Hold on. There are three questions that need to be addressed first. How do we get the right value exchange between the two companies? How do we create an entity with the right capital structure? That’s the first conversation. How the companies get together, who buys whom – there are many ways of doing that, but we don’t think it should be the first conversations,” he said. 

Mar 19

How to Maximize Your Customers’ Return on Office 365 Licenses

By | Managed Services News

The disparity between licenses purchased and utilized comes down to the nuanced needs of those involved in the purchasing process.

Find out how you can help your customers maximize their return on Office 365 licensing in our upcoming webinar. Help them buy only what they need, when they need it, and adopt everything they buy. (Click here to register.)

This webinar addresses the widespread issue of over-licensed organizations and how to remediate the situation. An analysis of over 3.4 million Office 365 users found about 18% of purchased licenses unassigned, which equates to approximately $150,000 in savings per year for a 10,000-person company when managed properly, and even more when scaled up.

Why the disparity between what is purchased and what is utilized?

It comes down to the nuanced needs of those involved in the purchasing process, from procurement and IT to the business and Microsoft’s license sellers. Each participant in the buying process has very different needs and motivations. Understanding how each is related is key when seeking a solution.

Here’s how the over-licensing tragedy builds:

  1. The first layer is purchasing, where they’re dependent on capital funding that is typically cyclical. Therefore, they purchase in waves to tide the organization over until the next round of funding is available.
  2. Secondly, the IT department is aware that these procurement cycles can result in a lengthy approval process. In order to ensure that there will be enough licenses to go around on-demand, they may request more licenses than are actually needed at the time.
  3. Lastly, purchasing managers are often encouraged to reduce contract costs, which creates a third layer where license sellers are motivated to create discounted, bundled SKUs that can be contradictory to actual business licensing needs.

Now you can see why everyone involved is on the surplus licensing bandwagon, but the licensing gap doesn’t stop there. Turning the initial gap into a gorge are the inconsistencies between licenses assigned and those actively adopted and used. This happens when users are assigned licenses without having a true grasp on actual user needs. Additionally, many organizations simply don’t have the proper tools to monitor active usage and react accordingly to the data, and very few are equipped with the skills required to drive adoption.

In short, it’s a “vicious” cycle resulting in over-licensed organizations, which is like leaving money on the table. So, how can you help organizations make sure there are enough licenses to go around and avoid surplus spending?

Using Data to Manage the License Lifecycle

The solution lies in License Lifecycle Management techniques and using

Mar 19

Distributors Rally to Support Partners During COVID-19 Crisis

By | Managed Services News

Technology is essential to support business and communities throughout the pandemic.

As every channel partner business faces a litany of challenges to keep their company up and running, their customers satisfied and their employees safe, partners are looking for answers from distribution, a critical link in their business supply chain. Distributors are rallying for their partners during this unprecedented time. Here’s what we learned.

Channel Futures reached out to D&H Distributing, Ingram Micro, Pax8, Synnex, and Tech Data. [We will continue to reach out to these and other distributors and master agents in the coming days and weeks, as the situation remains fluid.]

All distributors, with the exception of Pax8 and Synnex, have some kind of COVID-19 action statement posted on their website at this time, and all distributors have been in contact with partners via email.

D&H's Michael Schwab

D&H’s Michael Schwab

If ever there was a distribution company ready to weather this crisis, it’s 102-year old D&H — in business since 1918, the year of the Spanish Flu, a deadly influenza pandemic. “We survived the Spanish Flu through World Wars, depressions, the great recession, so we have the fortitude to see this through and come out the other side,” Michael Schwab, co-president at D&H told Channel Futures.

In fact, he said, signs of disruption in the tech marketplace started with the Chinese Lunar New Year, around January 25. “We started to see the factories not getting back to full production due to the impact of the virus in China, which immediately led to some concerns about product availability through March and April. And, that, has played out on steroids, primarily because of the huge incremental demand that’s taken place over the last week as corporations and small businesses migrate to a remote working strategy,” said Schwab.

As businesses and schools move to a remote strategy, Chromebooks, Windows notebooks, etc., as well as other technology products, mice, keypads, docking stations, monitors and networking equipment are seeing constraints with increased demand.

“I don’t expect to see that change for over the next two to three weeks,” he said. “We’re trying to secure more inventory on our partner’s behalf.”

The distributor is fielding questions from customers about products as well as what to tell their customers. “We want to communicate how we can help them succeed, including talking to our credit department, sharing our business contingency planning and so on,” said Schwab.

D&H posted a co-president’s message from Dan Schwab and Michael Schwab, as well as a short video, and points partners to a dedicated email group to handle questions. The company has dedicated [email protected] to escalate any urgent inquiries partners may have.

Michael Urban, president, worldwide technology solutions distribution at Synnex, echoed Schwab’s message. “The distribution supply chain will see challenges in…

Mar 19

5 Ways to Build and Grow Your Cybersecurity Practice

By | Managed Services News

Building a security business that offers customers the best value can be time-consuming and costly. Done right, it can deliver significant benefits.

Given the complex and growing threat landscape and the general lack of in-house security expertise–according to (ISC)2 research, there’s a shortage of 3 million cybersecurity professionals globally–today’s organizations are investing heavily in security products and solutions. So, the time to build or expand a sustainable security practice is now.

But figuring out how to build a security business that offers customers the best value and stands out from the rest can be time-consuming and costly. Done right, it can deliver significant benefits, such as adding a new revenue stream and cementing your status as a trusted advisor.

Through our Digital Security Practice Builder program, you will grow your practice in the following ways:

  1. Determine market potential for your security practice: Launching a practice without a plan is akin to diving into the shallow end of the pool. Regardless of whether you want to dip your toes into security or take the full plunge, you must develop a strategy and determine whether there’s a market for your offerings.
  2. Develop a differentiated security solution portfolio: What solutions and services are most profitable for your company and round out your security profile? Consider adding endpoint security expertise or grow your already thriving practice to include new vendors. To save you time, we’ve done the heavy lifting of providing you the research you need to select new vendors or build your expertise. This research will allow you to rationalize the right area of security for your investment and with the team you already have.
  3. Execute a training program for your sales and technical teams: Whether you’re new to security or have an established practice, you will need to accrue skills and proficiency on emerging threats, security best practices, new and proven solutions, and more. Leveraging a tool like the Digital Security Practice Builder from Tech Data allows you to quickly and cost effectively train employees and build a culture that aids in retention, while delivering greater value to your customers.
  4. Build a marketing plan to promote your practice: Building a solid security practice is only half the battle. Creating demand for and promoting your solutions and services requires the development and execution of a dynamic marketing plan.
  5. Become more self-sufficient: Leverage a bench of expertise to recruit and retain in-house sales teams and professionals and grow your security practice. When the time is right, you can become a fully functioning and self-sufficient security business.

With demand high and profitability all but assured, the best time to build or grow your security practice is now. Click here to learn more about our Digital Security Practice Builder program. If you have questions about the Digital Security Practice Builder Program, please contact [email protected].

This guest blog is part of a Channel Futures sponsorship.

Mar 19

Microsoft Readies PBX Phone Option for Teams as COVID-19 Drives Usage Surge

By | Managed Services News

Pictured above:  Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella (left) and corporate vice president Jared Spataro (right) hold a virtual press briefing to discuss the impact of COVID-19.

Microsoft Teams usage has more than doubled in the past four months with the company revealing that 44 million people actively work with the chat-based communications and collaboration tool.

During the past week, the COVID-19 pandemic has fueled a spike in active Teams users by 12 million, or 38%, according to today’s new figures from Microsoft, as record numbers of people have suddenly become confined to working at home.

The latest surge comes as Microsoft commemorates the third anniversary of Teams, released in March 2017 to all business and enterprise Office 365 subscribers. Microsoft today is also marking the latest milestones with the delivery of conferencing enhancements to Teams, which will include telephony features with the April 1 release of Microsoft 365 Business Voice in 70 countries including the U.S.

Microsoft continues to emphasize the rapid pace in which Teams is becoming the centerpiece of Office 365. In addition to surging to 44 million users from 20 million in November and 13 million last summer, Microsoft claims more than 650 enterprises with over 10,000 people now actively use Teams. Likewise, Slack usage has escalated with the company recently stating that 70% of its users are enterprises that rely on Office 365.

Now with COVID-19 upending millions of workers throughout the world for a potentially indefinite amount of time, Microsoft Teams, Slack and similar tools such as Cisco Webex and Zoom are in the spotlight more intensely. In response, Microsoft is giving 6-month free trials to premium editions of Teams, Google is offering access to the advanced version of Hangouts to G Suite customers through July 1 and Zoom is providing its video conferencing service free to K-12 schools.

“It’s incredible to see how even in a time of uncertainty organizations of all sizes are using solutions like Teams so that they can continue to be productive and continue to move forward,” Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said in a prerecorded discussion with corporate vice president Jared Spataro.

Microsoft 365 Business Voice

Microsoft's 365 Business Voice

Microsoft’s 365 Business Voice

Initially rolled out in Canada and the U.K. in November, the global release of Microsoft 365 Business Voice will enable partners to offer PSTN calling with audioconferencing capability from the Teams client, and a cloud PBX option to organizations with up to 300 users.

“Microsoft 365 Business Voice for small and mid-sized businesses makes Teams a complete phone system,” Spataro said during the media briefing earlier this week. “It adds cloud-based telephony to Teams, for an all-in-one communication solution that brings together calling, chat, meetings, and collaboration,” Microsoft product manager for Office 365 Small Business, Jimmy Ward posted.

Available with Microsoft 365 and Office 365 subscriptions including the lower tier Essentials and Business editions, the service has a per-user, monthly cost of $20. It includes…

Mar 18

Video: App Modernization in a Multi-Cloud World

By | Managed Services News

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Learn how VMware can make your developers more productive while simplifying operations across a diverse multi-cloud world.

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