Category Archives for "Managed Services News"

Sep 29

New Dell Technologies-VMware Integrations Raise the Bar

By | Managed Services News

Dell Technologies is mum on a VMware spinoff.

New Dell Technologies-VMware integrations for HCI, cloud, storage and data protection, announced Tuesday, confirm the tight alliance between companies. This is amid speculation of a potential VMware spinoff.

The latest Dell Technologies product releases for the VMware environment coincide with this week’s VMworld 2020 (virtual). The product updates fall into three buckets: cloud updates, support for VMware Tanzu, and storage and data protection for VMware.

Dell Technologies' Varun Chhabra

Dell Technologies’ Varun Chhabra

“Collaboration between Dell Technologies and VMware continues to be very strong,” said Varun Chhabra, vice president, cloud and edge, at Dell Technologies. “As you look at the entire portfolio at Dell Technologies, starting with servers, HCI, networking, storage, data protection and going on to the cloud business as well, we continue to invest in joint engineering with VMware. This is to create products that help our customers take advantage of VMware products in the best way possible.”

Next Generation

Beginning with cloud, Dell Technologies announced two enhancements. These include VMware Cloud on Dell EMC 4th generation and VMware Cloud Director on DTCP (Dell Technology Cloud Platform).

What’s new in VMware Cloud on Dell EMC are enhancements in regulatory compliance and certifications, Tanzu Kubernetes Grid verification, new nodes for advanced and data intensive workloads, multiple clusters per rack to isolate resources, and HCX-based workload migration.

Regarding the new compliance certifications, they include global and vertical industry-specific certifications such as ISO, CCPA, EU GDPR and SOC-2.

“The goal here is to make sure that customers can use the platform and rest assured that they’re meeting the compliance needs for their industry or their geography,” said Chhabra.

The second enhancement targets cloud service providers (CSPs). VMware Cloud Director for DTCP makes it easier and faster for CSPs to build and scale hosted cloud environments through this new integration. VMware Cloud Director now integrates and is certified on the DTCP.

“We see tremendous interest from our customers to leverage cloud service provider environments. So this helps them and CSPs provide a consistent experience between what customers are running on-premises and in the cloud service provider environment,” said Chhabra.

Tanzu

The Dell Technologies Tanzu updates include extended support of VMware technologies across the Dell Technologies infrastructure portfolio with tightly integrated solutions for Dell Technologies Cloud, Dell EMC VxRail, Dell EMC PowerProtect and Dell EMC PowerEdge. These updates align with the latest releases of vSphere, vSAN and VMware Cloud Foundation to support Tanzu.

“Dell Technologies is all in when it comes to helping our joint customers deploy Tanzu easily,” said Jon Siegal, vice president, integrated products and solutions, at Dell Technologies.

HCI options for Tanzu include Tanzu Architecture for VxRail, vSphere with Tanzu on VxRail, and VCF with Tanzu on VxRail (DTCP). These options give customers choice in deploying VMware Tanzu whether through a validated architecture, VxRail cluster and/or the DTCP.

Tanzu Architecture for VxRail is available today. vSphere with Tanzu on VxRail and VCF with Tanzu on VxRail (DTCP) will be available in October.

VMWare launched Tanzu at VMworld in 2019. VMware Cloud on Dell EMC, a data-center-as-a-service offering, has been available for about one year.

Storage Support

Here’s a closer look at Dell Technologies storage and data protection updates around Tanzu.

Dell Technologies storage platforms support the VMware Tanzu. Dell EMC PowerMax replication now integrates with VMware vSphere Virtual Volumes (vVols) and VMware Site Recovery Manager. This simplifies management and improves access to mission-critical applications. The new Cloud Mobility for Dell EMC PowerMax feature helps move data from on-premises to public clouds.

In preview only, Dell EMC Object Scale is the next generation, Kubernetes-based object storage platform. Object Scale allows developers to …

Sep 29

Lenovo Debuts Next-Gen ThinkBooks, ThinkPads, More

By | Managed Services News

Like other OEMs, Lenovo is jumping on Intel’s launch of 11th Gen Core processors.

Lenovo ThinkBook next generation products were announced today. The company also announced new ThinkPads and the new Lenovo Data Intelligence software.

The new ThinkBook products are the ThinkBook 13s Gen 2 i, the ThinkBook 15s Gen 2 i and the ThinkBook 14s Yoga.

The ThinkBook 13s Gen 2 i features the 11th Gen Intel Core processor and is EVO certified. That makes this device a premium grade laptop. Designed for ultra-modern mobility, the ThinkBook 13s Gen 2 I has a frameless design, immersive display and offers enhanced performance.

It has a touch screen, features Wi-Fi 6, and battery life is up from 45watt hours (Whr) to 56 Whr. Lenovo addresses the user experience with a Service Hot Key, AI-based noise cancellation, and three audio modes – private, shared and environmental sound.

Given the new business normal, the Service Hot Key is timely. Activated with a single touch it gives remote workers instant access to Lenovo tech support.

“Our mission is to provide the modern professional with business grade features and a modern design,” Melanie Jin, director, ThinkBook product management at Lenovo

ThinkBook 14s Yoga

The new ThinkBook 14s Yoga i is Lenovo’s first 2-in-1 product in the ThinkBook family. It’s powered by 11 Gen Intel Core processors, and features thunderbolt 4 and USB-C ports.

The Smart Pen is a feature unique to this product. It stays in synch with the user, and it automatically opens note-taking app in standby. Additionally, when the user is logged into Windows 10, Windows Ink workspace is ready the moment the user picks up the pen.

Lenovo also introduced the ThinkBook 15 Gen 2 i. The vendor highlights integrated ThinkBook wireless earbuds, which can be stored within the laptop. The earbuds charge automatically when stored and connect to the laptop audio instantly when taken out.

Among the long list of features are flexible storage options, including a combination of hard disk drive (HDD) and solid-state drive (SSD) or dual SSD. It also features the service hot key.

The ThinkBook brand first launched in the market a year ago.

ThinkPads

Also on Tuesday, Lenovo unveiled the premium ThinkPad X1 Nano. It weighs in just under 2 pounds and is based on the Intel Evo platform. It is powered by 11th Gen Intel Core processors. The company also announced the availability of the ThinkPad X1 Fold. The Fold first debuted at CES in January.

Here are some product features for the ThinkPad X1 Nano.

  • It’s packed with up to 11th Generation Intel Core™ i7 processors with Intel Iris Xe graphics. It delivers up to 2.7x faster content creation and more than 20% faster office productivity.
  • Thunderbolt 4 offers fast, single cable connection to power, monitors, storage and many other external devices.
  • X1 Nano is the first ThinkPad to feature an updated suite of AI and biometric ThinkShield security features. These range from new voice recognition and human presence detection that enable zero-touch login and device lock when the user walks away, to the familiar Match on Chip fingerprint reader.
  • X1 Nano can be preloaded with Windows 10 Pro or Ubuntu Linux OS and features optional 5G6 for future-ready connectivity.
  • A 13-inch Dolby Vision 2K display features a 16:10 aspect ratio and 100% sRGB ensures clarity and color accuracy. Touch display options are also available.
  • The speaker system includes four speakers with Dolby Atmos support for immersive sound and combined with four 360-degree microphones.

The ThinkPad X1 Fold is a new product type that the company says adapts to new remote, office and hybrid working models.

Lenovo's Tom Butler

Lenovo’s Tom Butler

“We see this new X1 fold device as the beginning of a new category of folding PCs that will unlock new ways to using devices and new use cases,” said Tom Butler, executive director, commercial portfolio at Lenovo.

Since the X1 Fold debuted at CES, Lenovo has made some product refinements for better usability, productivity and durability.

Lenovo Device Intelligence

Lenovo SaaS Fleet Management ToolThe company’s new cloud-based SaaS tool, Lenovo Device Intelligence (LDI), is an AI-based, predictive and proactive product designed for PC fleet management.

The company refers to LDI as its first digital experience monitoring tool. It aims to help in-house IT staff manage large fleets of PCs and improve the user experience. It not only monitors the health and performance of Lenovo Think products, but also third-party PCs.

“LDI monitors the health of PCs and then uses advanced predictive analytics as well as proactive device insights to diagnose and service current PC issues. And, it predicts potential issues before the occur,” said Amy Clauss, direct product marketing, Lenovo Global Services.

Reporting data is available via a dashboard that displays health information on individual devices and the overall fleet.

Lenovo Device Intelligence (LDI) is sold directly from the vendor. Sales through the indirect channel are set for 2021.

Sep 28

Ivanti Acquiring MobileIron, Pulse Secure to Support Work from Anywhere

By | Managed Services News

This new combination will give Ivanti a zero-trust access offering.

Ivanti is shelling out $872 million for MobileIron and is acquiring Pulse Secure in a separate deal. Ivanti didn’t divulge the purchase price for Pulse Secure.

MobileIron provides mobile-centric unified endpoint management products and services, while Pulse Secure offers secure access and mobile security offerings.

MobileIron’s board of directors unanimously approved the deal and recommended stockholders vote their shares in favor of the transaction. Ivanti will acquire Pulse Secure from affiliates of Siris Capital Group.

The company said the combination will “cement” its leadership in unified endpoint management, zero-trust security and enterprise service management.

Ivanti will allow customers to discover, manage, service and automate across all device types with the Ivanti Neurons automation platform. Additionally, customers will benefit from the expanded scale, corporate resources, service capabilities and financial flexibility that Ivanti will deliver.

Once it completes the transactions, Ivanti chairman and CEO Jim Schaper will continue to lead the combined company.

Keep up with the latest channel-impacting mergers and acquisitions in our M&A roundup.
Ivanti's Jim Schaper

Ivanti’s Jim Schaper

“By combining MobileIron and Pulse Secure with Ivanti, we are creating a leader in the large and growing unified endpoint management, security and enterprise service management markets,” Schaper said. “With the integration of our industry knowledge and complementary product offerings, Ivanti will be well-positioned to provide our expansive customer base with the critical tools needed to tackle IT challenges in the new normal.”

Invanti Is a ‘Complicated Amalgamation’

Eric Parizo is senior analyst with Omdia. He said Ivanti is a “complicated amalgamation” of several previously acquired companies. Its technologies include: supply chain management from Wavelink; security patch management from Shavlik; endpoint management from AppSense; IT service management from FrontRange; and unified endpoint management from Lumension.

Omdia's Eric Parizo

Omdia’s Eric Parizo

“Its strategy has been to provide a unified platform for endpoint security and management,” Parizo said.

However, COVID-19 has accelerated the need for many security vendors to find a way to provide “far-flung employees and other stakeholders with secure remote access to applications and data that may reside in a traditional data center, in a SaaS application or a hybrid cloud environment,” he said.

“Ivanti’s move to acquire both MobileIron and Pulse Secure supports that objective,” Parizo said. “MobileIron has strong identity technology, including single sign-on with passwordless multifactor authentication. Ivanti no doubt intends to integrate that technology with Pulse Secure’s Zero Trust Access (PZTA) platform, a cloud-delivered solution for secure access to not only public, private, and multicloud applications, but also data center resources.”

Ivanti Gets Zero-Trust Access

This new combination of Ivanti, MobileIron and Pulse Secure will give Ivanti a zero-trust access (ZTA) solution, Parizo said. That’s a class of technologies that facilitates secure access to applications and other IT resources across hybrid cloud environments.

“ZTA is quickly becoming a competitive requirement for any cybersecurity vendor that is in the business of secure client connectivity,” he said. “And this move will in turn help keep Ivanti competitive going forward.”

As for MobileIron, it had been looking for an exit strategy for some time, Parizo said. That dates back to when Simon Biddiscombe became CEO several years ago.

“Considering it has long struggled to find that exit, this can only be seen as a successful conclusion for MobileIron’s patient investors,” he said.

Pulse Secure has been successful since its separation from Juniper Networks, Parizo said.

“So I can only imagine the acquisition price was quite lucrative to make a deal happen,” he added.

In August, Ivanti, which is in Clearlake Capital’s portfolio, announced a new strategic investment from TA Associates. Clearlake and TA partnered to fund the strategic acquisitions.

Sep 28

Veritas Acquisition of Globanet Strengthens Archiving, E-Discovery

By | Managed Services News

The new capabilities will allow customers to see and act on more sources of content than ever.

Veritas‘ acquisition of Globanet, a privately held software company, extends its portfolio of digital compliance and governance offerings.

Globanet provides comprehensive compliance and intelligent communications solutions to enterprises. Its technology will help strengthen the capabilities of Veritas’ archiving and e-discovery offerings. It will add the ability to natively capture, classify, monitor and discover against more sources of content.

The acquisition gives Veritas customers’ visibility and allows them to act on more than 80 new content sources. That includes Microsoft Teams, Slack, Zoom, Symphony, Bloomberg and more.

Veritas didn’t disclose financial details of the acquisition.

David Scott is Veritas‘ director of product management. He said Veritas has been partnering with Globanet for years.

Veritas' David Scott

Veritas’ David Scott

“Globanet is truly unique in the amount of content sources they provide,” he said. “We do have relationships with some of our competitors like Proofpoint, Relativity and Mimecast through Globanet. And we don’t have any plans to change those relationships. We actually would like to become the de facto standard as far as being the content aggregator, and developing standards so that there’s a certain way that that content is presented as content gets more evolved beyond email.”

Common Sales Motion

Ajay Bhatia is general manager of Veritas’ digital compliance and governance business.

Veritas' Ajay Bhatia

Veritas’ Ajay Bhatia

“We’ve been doing business with Globanet; we enjoy a common joint sales motion, and this helps us do much more and better things than the next, nearest incumbent in that space, which is Smarsh,” he said. “That turnkey, cradle-to-grave solution from Veritas for data compliance is something we were aspiring to do and this is a missing piece in that.”

The competitive advantage is the ability to collect from every content source used by Veritas customers, Scott said.

From a channel perspective, there’s some overlap between the two companies’ channel bases, Bhatia said.

“So for a lot of those partners, this is more on the truck to be able to go sell from a solutions standpoint,” he said. “And the team’s excited. Today is day one. The deal’s closed and we’re all moving forward with integration plans. There’s discussion about how the channel teams, how the sales teams can go do more on the Merge1 and Migrate products that Globanet already has; then, when they get involved in doing more with Enterprise Vault and eDiscovery. And beyond that, it’s being able to do more with the Veritas customer base, not just the digital compliance install base.”

“Many Veritas customers already take advantage of Globanet Merge1 to collect additional content sources and append communications compliance into their data archiving capabilities,” said Sevag Ajemian, Globanet’s president and CEO. “We’re excited to join the Veritas family and build a richer integration between our products and Veritas’ information governance solutions.”

Sep 28

Imposter Syndrome Is a Real Thing — Its Effects on Women of Color

By | Managed Services News

Imposter syndrome is chronic self-doubt and a sense of intellectual fraudulence that override feelings of success.

Telesystem's Mayka Rosales-PetersonSelf-doubt and the popular term “imposter syndrome” infiltrate corporate America daily. Women – and specifically, women of color – are more likely to have this experience at significantly higher rates.

The term “imposter syndrome” was coined by psychologists Pauline R. Clance and Suzanne A. Imes in 1978. It is usually described as chronic self-doubt and a sense of intellectual fraudulence that override any feelings of success or proven skills and capabilities.

In fact, 70% of the U.S. population experiences this syndrome at some point of their lives. One example: setting high expectations for yourself at work, but even when you meet and exceed your goals, you still feel like a failure — like you didn’t do enough. Or another example: You are hesitant to speak up at a meeting at work because you’re afraid you’ll look incompetent if you don’t answer the question correctly. So you remain silent.

The examples above are an all too real experience for most women of color in corporate America. Doubting their capabilities of success is at the very top of the list. This is not just an experience, or voices inside of our minds; The subtle messages we get from society daily reinforce this in us.

Microaggressions

Data show that there’s a direct influence between imposter syndrome and the microaggressions that women of color experience in their day-to-day lives.

Some of these microaggressions are ignited in daily experiences. For one, when a store clerk follows you around during your lunch break because you look suspicious of stealing. Another is returning to work after your lunch break and being mistaken for an entry-level employee at a meeting with an external vendor, when you’re actually the vice president. Yet another — colleagues ignore your ideas in a group collaboration session.

Channel Partners and Channel Futures support an atmosphere of diversity and inclusion in the channel and the technology community as a whole. Thus, we are featuring news articles, first-person accounts and strategies around topics of race, diversity and inclusion to spur discussion of these important subjects. Visit our webpage dedicated to the topic.

These scenarios (which have really happened to colleagues of mine) are a daily reminder that women of color have to work harder to beat the odds stacked against them. When the world is subtly and constantly pushing doubts about the person’s status, experiences or capabilities, it can deepen the level of self-doubt. It often bleeds into how women of color see themselves in their careers and in their lives.

How Can Employers Help?

Companies and their leaders can start with educating employees on imposter syndrome and how microaggressions impact it. They can also provide targeted strategies that will create emotional safety for all employees. The more their employees feel the confidence of being themselves and in their abilities, the more it will enhance the culture and profit.

Employers can also try developing an inclusive culture that allows for everyone to have the ability to talk freely about their experiences in hopes to educate one another. Some strategies might include quarterly seminars, open discussions, or implementing a diversity and inclusion strategy that directly addresses microaggressions and imposter syndrome.

The burden is not only for women of color to work on this issue for themselves, but for it to be a collaborative effort between them and the employers in hopes of fixing the systems that exacerbate these specific experiences. When everyone at an organization feels empowered and motivated to perform at their highest potential, the company as a whole wins.

Mayka Rosales-Peterson is the channel marketing coordinator for Telesystem. She also is a committee member for the Alliance of Channel Women and the Channel Partners/Channel Futures Allies of the Channel Council.

Sep 28

Customer Experience Focus and 3 Ways MSPs Can Sharpen Theirs

By | Managed Services News

Mike CullenCustomer experience focus is important to MSPs. There are 3 ways MSPs can sharpen their customer experience focus. But first, why do it? Customer experience isn’t just about responsiveness or how quickly issues are resolved. It isn’t merely about delivering service in a predictable, satisfactory manner and billing customers accurately. Customer experience is about that and more. Today’s MSPs need to understand how to keep customers engaged for the long-term.

No matter how good your service delivery is, you still have to build a good rapport with your customers. A single failure can overshadow all that you do well, but it doesn’t have to. If you deliver a consistently excellent experience and succeed in building trust with customers, you can ride out a one-time crisis and quickly repair any damage to the relationship.

Building the right type of customer experience takes time and effort. In addition to delivering the services customers expect from you, like remote monitoring and management, password management and backup and recovery for Microsoft 365, what else are you providing to round out the customer journey? In my experience, I have found that strengthening your business in these three areas will help sharpen your customer experience focus.

Cybersecurity Is Crucial

Aside from keeping the lights on, protecting clients from cyberthreats is one of the top priorities for MSPs today. If you don’t view cybersecurity in terms of customer experience, you’re making a mistake. A single security incident that causes a business shutdown or seriously disrupts operations can swiftly put you in hot water with a customer.

Studies have found that many customers lose confidence in companies that suffer a breach or have subpar security. In one of the more dramatic findings, PWC discovered 85% of consumers will not do business with a company if they have concerns about its security. This puts pressure on MSPs to protect their customers, especially in light of recent trends involving cyberattacks on IT services providers. As reported by ISC2, hackers have been targeting providers because, if the attacks succeed, they gain access to not only the providers’ data, but also that of their customers. In this way, they can get into the systems of hundreds, or even thousands, of businesses. It isn’t hard to understand the damage an attack like this can create for an MSP, and why having a robust cybersecurity strategy may be a matter of survival — not just for customers, but for MSPs themselves.

The onus is on every MSP today to establish and follow sound practices internally, from patching and monitoring systems to employing good password policies to taking a comprehensive approach to security. All elements of a solid security strategy factor into minimizing business risk — and risk is something most customers understand. If a breach occurs, it could be costly, but there’s no disputing the fact that proactive security measures help reduce the risk.

A big part of security is also response. Every MSP must have a plan in place for responding to an attack. And, as you engage with prospects, communicate not only how you will respond when an incident happens, but also be sure to let them know your services include being there to help them through it. That follow-through becomes a powerful testimony to your ability to deliver on the promise of CX.

Finally, remember your reputation is critical — and CX drives your reputation. As cyberthreats inevitably continue to emerge, more MSPs will grow their security offerings. Those that already have a strong security reputation will likely have a competitive advantage over those just getting started. That edge can lead to more referrals, more business and a way to stand out in a crowded market.

Boosting Customer Skill Sets

When it comes to customer experience, security is only one part of the story. MSPs need to also invest in other areas that help boost their customers’ businesses. For instance, do you offer services designed to sharpen users’ IT skills? With technology evolving at a relentless, accelerated pace, it’s hard for any user to keep up with it all. But you can help them.

Think about how customers would see you if you built an offering around IT training and updating user skills. In their eyes, you’d become more than just …

Sep 28

Cohesity: New Disaster Recovery Platform Simplifies Data Management

By | Managed Services News

SiteContinuity opens more avenues for prospect conversations.

The just-released Cohesity disaster recovery (DR) solution, SiteContinuity, is a single automated platform product, which the company says reduces application downtime and data loss.

SiteContinuity is a web-scale automated disaster recover failover and failback orchestration solution, Cohesity announced on Monday. The new automated offer combines with Cohesity’s snapshot-based backup and continuous data protection (CDP).

Cohesity's Raj Dutt

Cohesity’s Raj Dutt

“This single platform solution helps customers reduce the risk of application downtime and data loss caused by ransomware attacks, natural disasters, or human error,” Raj Dutt, senior director, product marketing at Cohesity, told Channel Futures.

SiteContinuity offers multiple benefits.

  • Consolidated backup, continuous data protection and automated disaster recovery on a single platform simplifies operations. The solution is managed through one global user interface and a unified policy framework, across application tiers, service levels, and environments.
  • Achieve near-zero application downtime and data loss with automated orchestration for failover and failback of a single application or an entire site in a disaster recovery scenario.  
  • Journal-based recovery helps to meet varying service levels across application tiers by restoring to any point in time. This includes days or even seconds before the disaster hit, on-premises or to the public cloud.
  • Meet DR compliance objectives with through end-to-end automated non-disruptive disaster recovery testing, including complete audit trail reporting.
  • Reduce costs by converging backup and DR, and drive better storage efficiency. Further reduce data footprint and costs with global variable-length deduplication and compression across workloads. Additionally, there is no need to deploy dedicated virtual machines to support recovery of each ESXi host.
  • The underlying web-scale architecture of the Cohesity platform enables organizations to scale BCDR capabilities limitlessly and painlessly.

Expanded Partner Opportunity

Cohesity’s protection against ransomware is based on more than rapid recovery and failover, which helps eliminate manual errors and guess work. It’s also based on what the company calls, immutable architecture and datalock, and recommendations based on machine learning.

“Malware is unable to modify or delete data on Cohesity because of our architecture,” said Dutt. “But, more importantly, when you are in failover, how does the customer know they’re not using compromised data? Our machine learning capability gives recommendations based on the data we collect and the analysis that it does. This helps identify clean copy to restore data.”

Today, Cohesity partners take a modern backup platform to their customers. SiteContinuity allows them to do more.

“With this addition, they can offer a consolidated solution which does backup, continuous data protection and automated disaster recovery on a single platform,” said Dutt. “It’s also designed for cybersecurity and cyber resiliency.”

Better yet, SiteContinuity, a subscription-based offering, also expands the market opportunity for partners.

“Today, when partners approach their prospects with a backup use case, what if the prospect isn’t looking for a backup solution? What if they’re looking for a DR solution?” said Dutt. “As a platform company, partners that work with Cohesity can engage with a customer either as a backup use case or for unstructured data, or NAS.”

There’s also a third use case for partners — Cohesity disaster recovery. SiteContinuity unleashes more avenues for partners to have discussions with their customers.

Expect to see Cohesity provide new training modules for partners; that, plus demand generation to take this message to their customers.

Sep 25

SolarWinds-Cisco Meraki Integration Improves Device Monitoring

By | Managed Services News

MSPs can more easily spot potential issues that may be impacting a specific user.

MSPs can now more easily discover and monitor Cisco Meraki devices from within their SolarWinds N-central dashboards.

SolarWinds has expanded its monitoring capabilities within the Cisco Meraki Marketplace. The integration includes routers, switches and access points as part of the portfolio of Cisco Meraki cloud-managed offerings.

SolarWinds MSP partners can see the status of Cisco Meraki customers’ devices right in their monitoring and management dashboard. They also can enable notifications and alerts, and monitor connectivity and traffic, as well as conduct license warranty reporting.

Mav Turner is SolarWinds MSP’s group vice president of product management.

SolarWinds' Mav Turner

SolarWinds’ Mav Turner

“The integration of Cisco Meraki with N-central gives MSP techs the ability to more effectively identify and resolve end user connectivity issues,” he said. “This is done by delivering the Meraki infrastructure data in the context of detailed endpoint data from N-central.”

MSPs can more easily spot potential issues that may be impacting a specific user. And they can troubleshoot those issues quickly and improve their end-customer experiences.

SolarWinds Investing in MSP Partners

This integration is one example of how SolarWinds is investing in a “more transparent and fully integrated ecosystem for our MSP partners,” Turner said. MSP partners need this to be efficient and accelerate growth.

“Leveraging N-central Automation Manager, we’re able to rapidly spin up these types of integrations and we’re also giving our partners a self-service model where they can easily do it themselves,” he said. “In fact, we’ve created an Automation Cookbook to make this even easier.”

MSPs have never been in higher demand, Turner said. Those who take advantage of more automated capabilities will have a significant competitive advantage.

With the COVID-19 pandemic, usage patterns are all over the place, he said. This makes the technician’s job feel a bit like “throwing a dart at the wall” when troubleshooting user issues.

“If they don’t know where someone is, they can’t really tell where the problem originates,” Turner said. “The integration with Cisco Meraki devices within the N-central platform gives techs more dynamic monitoring capabilities so they can see where the device sits, and get a faster handle on remediation.”

“Like most IT service providers, we’re more hyper-focused than ever right now, making sure the businesses we serve are up and running and secure,” said Jeffrey Bowles, IT lead/partner at Act360 Web & IT, a SolarWinds partner. “To do that effectively, we have to be able to work as efficiently as possible. Having more visibility and direct monitoring of our Cisco Meraki devices from within our SolarWinds N-central dashboard is a key piece of the efficiency puzzle, and we’re excited to have this new capability.”

Sep 25

Microsoft Widens Hybrid Cloud Path with New Azure Arc, Azure Stack Hub Releases

By | Managed Services News

At Microsoft Ignite this week, the company added new hybrid cloud services.

MICROSOFT IGNITE — Microsoft this week advanced its hybrid cloud portfolio with the general availability of Azure Arc-enabled servers. The release, announced during this week’s Microsoft Ignite virtual conference, enables management of on-premises servers from the Azure Portal.

Azure Arc is the evolution of Azure Stack, appliances that let cloud service providers and customers run Azure cloud instances. Microsoft released Azure Stack in 2017 as turnkey systems co-engineered with OEMs including Cisco, DellEMC, HPE, Lenovo and others.

Microsoft introduced Azure Arc as a software-only alternative to Azure Stack, which until now was only available as hardware-based appliances. Unveiled at last year’s Ignite conference, Arc lets Microsoft’s broader ecosystem offer point hybrid cloud solutions. Partners and customers can deploy Azure Arc on their own hardware.

The Azure Resource Manager and portal provides unified management of Azure Arc, Azure Stack and the Azure public cloud.

Microsoft's Erin Chapple at Ignite Virtual 2020

Microsoft’s Erin Chapple at Ignite Virtual 2020

“With Azure Arc, you have a single control plane to consistently manage and govern all of your IT resources wherever they reside,” said Erin Chapple, a Microsoft corporate VP for Azure compute, during an Ignite presentation.

The release of Azure Arc-enabled servers lets customers and partners “seamlessly manage, govern and secure Windows and Linux servers, whether these are on-premises, in public clouds or at the edge, all from a single place — the Azure portal,” Chapple added.

Azure Arc provides management of physical servers and virtual machines.

Big Plans for Azure Arc

Microsoft’s plans for Azure Arc extend beyond adding physical servers and VMs. The Azure Arc road map includes Arc data services and Arc-enabled Kubernetes. At this week’s Ignite, Microsoft released technical previews of both.

The first Azure Arc data service previews include Azure SQL Managed Instance and Azure Postgre SQL Hyperscale. Both “are the first set of Azure Arc enabled data services that can be deployed to on premises, multicloud and edge environments, with support for both connected and disconnected modes to maximize consistency and flexibility,” Chapple said.

Service providers can use Azure Arc with Microsoft’s partner management tool, Azure Lighthouse, to provide cloud-managed services. Among those Microsoft showcased at Ignite include Avanade, Fujitsu, KPMG Japan and Siemens Healthineers.

Expanding Azure Stack

As part of Microsoft’s introduction of Azure Arc last year, the company also fleshed out Azure Stack. New variations include Azure Stack HCI and Azure Stack Hub. Microsoft added Azure Stack Hub for edge locations that can also run when disconnected from the internet and from Azure.

Like Azure Stack, Microsoft’s hardware partners also offer Azure Stack Hub as appliances, configured in racks of 4-16 servers. At this week’s Ignite, Microsoft announced the general availability of Azure Stack Hub with GPUs. Options include AMD’s Mi25 GPU and NVIDIA’s V100 Tensor Core GPU.

The latter is designed to run major machine learning and visualization workloads when disconnected. For lighter machining and visualization workloads, versions of Azure Hub will come with NVIDIA’s T4 Tensor Core GPU.

Meanwhile, Azure Stack HCI, which is in preview, is based on a new hyperconverged infrastructure operating system. It can run Windows or Linux VMs and can offer on-premises instances of Azure Backup, Azure Monitor and Azure Security Center.

The latest option announced this week, Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS) on Azure Stack HCI, is now available in technical preview.

Microsoft's Julia White

Microsoft’s Julia White

“This provides a consistent, secure and fully managed Kubernetes experience for customers who want to use Azure Stack within their data centers,” said Julia White, corporate VP for Microsoft Azure, during an Ignite presentation.

New Azure Services Available

Microsoft announced that its Azure VMware Solution is now generally available. The solution, certified by VMware, allows migration of vSphere VMs to Azure. Besides vSphere, Microsoft said the new Azure service includes the most current VMware Cloud Foundation components including, NSX-T, HCX and vSan.

The Azure VMware Solution is available with Microsoft’s Azure Hybrid Benefit license option. According to Chapple, VMware workloads represent among the most common migration scenarios. Chapple said the Azure VMware Solution “fully integrates on premises environments with Azure, so you can embrace the cloud at your own pace and utilize your existing tools and skills.”

Microsoft also announced the general availability of Azure SQL Edge, a SQL data engine for small footprint IoT gateways and edge devices. Azure SQL Edge is built on Microsoft’s SQL Server and Azure SQL codebase but designed to run x64 and ARM 64-based edge hardware.

Azure SQL Edge removes the latency of streaming data to the cloud, by processing it at the source. According to Microsoft, Azure SQL Edge can analyze relational SQL data as well as time series JSON and graph data.

Sep 25

Remote Learning: Help Your K-12 and Higher-Ed Clients Get Back to School Safely

By | Managed Services News

Remote learning leaves your education clients vulnerable to security risks. Here’s how to keep them (and their students) safe.

Educators have been faced with a very unusual return to school this year. At every level, from colleges and universities to preschools, the education system is struggling to provide services to students during the pandemic. Some organizations and districts are operating fully remotely this fall; others are offering a mix of in-person and online classes.

Because most of these schools weren’t equipped for distance learning, they’re using a mix of Google Classroom, Zoom meetings and other services that have been cobbled together–in some cases with very little preparation, and in most cases being used by novice users. This has left schools and students vulnerable to cybercriminals.

Over the summer, the FBI issued a Private Industry Notification warning that cybercriminals would increasingly target K-12 schools as they shift to remote learning.

EdTech security risks are similar to those faced by other types of organizations, such as ransomware, data security and account takeovers. There are also risks associated with applications that students and teachers use for remote learning but aren’t necessarily part of the school’s official IT infrastructure.

For MSPs with clients in the education sector, here are few tips to help those clients get back to school safely and securely.

Conduct a security audit. Work with clients to identify gaps in their security infrastructure and find ways to ensure they have the right tools in place to keep their remote learners safe.

Encourage clients to create an approved list of applications and enforce that list. Teachers and professors frequently have to come up with resources and solutions on their own, but they can’t be left to improvise when it comes to remote learning technology. Help your clients explain the importance of using approved tools and create policies to make sure staff follow the rules.

Use remote monitoring tools to help clients keep a handle on their G-suite and other EdTech tools. Cloud-based solutions require users to take on more security responsibilities, but many users have no idea who is responsible for securing data in the cloud. A cloud security platform and monitoring capabilities are critical in this environment.

Cloud-based solutions may represent the most significant threat right now because many schools have

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