Category Archives for "Managed Services News"

Dec 01

AWS Targets Microsoft SQL at AWS re:Invent: ‘Customers Are Fed Up With … Incumbents’

By | Managed Services News

CEO Andy Jassy made a slew of announcements, many of which will impact the channel.

AWS re:INVENT VIRTUAL — Amazon Web Services revenue has exploded by $40 billion over the last four years. And the behemoth cloud computing provider continues to hold majority market share over competitors – 45%, according to Gartner. CEO Andy Jassy sees both trajectories continuing over the long term, due in large part to COVID-19.

“It will turn out that the pandemic accelerated cloud adoption by several years,” he said on Tuesday during a live keynote. AWS is holding its annual re:Invent conference throughout December, albeit virtually.

For AWS, organizations’ coronavirus-spurred transitions to the cloud have translated into 29% year-over-year revenue growth. AWS aims to keep boosting those numbers, and it has put together a range of services to help it do just that.

What’s New From AWS re:Invent

Over three hours, Jassy made numerous announcements related to containers, databases, storage, machine learning and on-premises capabilities. AWS also has enabled developer functions on the MacOS platform. Each of these pieces of news will speak to different channel partners, depending on their specialties.

One of the most intriguing proclamations ties to AWS rival Microsoft. (Which still maintains second place per Gartner and other analyst firms.) AWS clearly has Redmond in its sights and isn’t holding back. To that point, AWS has developed a function that understands SQL Server’s proprietary language and communications protocol. That, Jassy said, will enable SQL users to get out from under Microsoft’s ever-changing licensing agreements and rising costs.

AWS's Andy Jassy

AWS’ Andy Jassy

“Stop paying for SQL Server licenses you don’t need,” Jassy said.

AWS is making the tool available via open-source access. Combined, this all appears to represent a hefty threat to Microsoft.

“Customers are fed up with and sick of incumbents,” Jassy said.

Many partners also will find value in updates regarding AWS Connect, the company’s contact center platform. As organizations have sent more people to work from home during COVID-19, they need cloud-based contact center systems. AWS has responded to the demand by beefing up Connect’s skills. For example, the Wisdom component now delivers information to agents from various repositories, including Salesforce and ServiceNow. Plus, the Customer Profiles feature now personalizes customer service. And Contact Lens, the analytics element of AWS Connect, now issues real-time alerts. If a call is going awry, a manager will receive a notification and may coach an employee on the spot or take the call. Finally, there’s Tasks, which connects to Salesforce and Zendesk, and Voice ID, for caller authentication.

Contact Lens Real Time, Customer Profiles and Tasks all are available now. Users must register to the preview program to test Wisdom and Voice ID.

Outposts & Local Zones

Finally, Jassy unveiled a couple more hot tidbits that will impact a range of partners. First, one of the biggest complaints AWS has fielded over the past year about its on-premises Outposts product has focused on size. Users have had to make sure they have enough space to accommodate the racks. That eliminated potential customers such as restaurants, hospitals, retailers and factories, Jassy said. So, AWS responded. It now offers a pizza box-sized server and another that measures about two stacked pizza boxes. All Outposts functionality resides in those smaller forms.

In addition, AWS is adding to the number of Local Zones it operates. Local Zones bring computing power into large cities, reducing latency for bandwidth-heavy applications and users. Local Zones hit the market last year in Los Angeles, supporting filmmakers, graphic designers and video game makers. Boston, Houston and Miami all now join the Local Zones list. In 2021, AWS will put 12 more cities on the Local Zones map.

Both the Outposts and Local Zones enhancements open opportunity for the indirect channel.

Yet even while focusing on technology, Jassy did not overlook social issues. He acknowledged the year of racial upheaval that has marred the United States in 2020.

“We have a long way to go in the way we treat Black people,” he said, vowing that AWS is working to do better, too. Given that AWS stands as a leader in its category, it makes sense that the CEO would address this pressing issue. However, he did not discuss pending changes or improvements within AWS.

AWS will hold its global partner keynote on Thursday morning.

Dec 01

MSP 501 Digital Innovator Integritek Invests in UCaaS ‘to Keep Telephony from Becoming a Commodity’

By | Managed Services News

Find out what the Austin, Texas-based company is doing to differentiate itself.

Not all managed service providers own the technology they offer. Not so at Integritek, winner of the MSP 501 Digital Innovator of the Year award. The Austin, Texas-based company is blazing trails with an internally developed, open-source UCaaS platform for SMBs and even fellow MSPs.

“We’re like a Zoom competitor,” says CEO Brett Paulson.

The difference with IntegriTalk, Integritek’s voice, video and messaging service? It’s personal.

“Our clients are so important to us but 50 users are not very important to RingCentral or Zoom,” Paulson says. “We own their network and firewalls. We can own the quality of service of your phone. Zoom and RingCentral don’t own the network. … For us, it’s bringing the phone company, local, back.”

Integritek (No. 279 on the 2020 MSP 501) launched IntegriTalk in August 2019. Prior to that, the MSP supported a Vonage-like platform (it still does for the clients with contracts left to play out). But it wanted to add video and messaging to the mix. So, Integritek found open-source software that fit its requirements and built a unique user experience on top of it. Consider this: Almost any UCaaS platform integrates with Microsoft Teams. Yet who gives a dial tone out of Teams? IntegriTalk does.

Integritek's Brett Paulson

Integritek’s Brett Paulson

“Most MSPs sell Microsoft stacks,” says Paulson. “But how many are letting you call out of Teams with a direct phone number?”

Look for more SMS and MMS integrations from Integritek for IntegriTalk, all with a business number. That way, IntegriTalk users can interact with clients, or potential customers, over Teams, Slack and other chat channels. After all, more people making purchasing decisions want alternatives to picking up the phone when it comes to vetting products and services.

“SMS is becoming a very powerful tool, especially for SMBs,” Paulson says.

On top of that, the number works from anywhere, and that goes for employees located somewhere other than the corporate office.

The Key to Success? Co-opetition

All that flexibility and usability appeals to potential users – and to other MSPs. Which stands out as another area where Integritek is innovating.

“We’re also looking to sell this UCaaS platform to other MSPs,” Paulson says. “We want the other MSPs to have access to this type of telephony, too. So we’re developing programs accordingly.”

Powered by IntegriTalk remains in the prototype stages with some other MSPs Integritek doesn’t own.

The 2020 MSP 501 recognizes the top managed service providers in the world. See the full list. Then check out our brand-new Hot 101.

“We want to support the MSP community and make all SMBs more successful and more efficient,” says Paulson. “We want to make money, too, but we aren’t in every single city.”

Opening IntegriTalk to peers only strengthens the whole MSP sector, Paulson says.

“Zoom just has an MSP package. It doesn’t give you this happy feel that we care about you. We care about all clients because it is our brand. …We care about MSPs and small businesses. That to me is super innovative.”

Talking Security and the Coming Year

But as most everyone in the channel knows by now, UCaaS can’t just facilitate communication. It’s got to have strong security. MSPs, for one, will demand it. Without rigorous safeguards, “Zoombombing” hits meeting rooms – and the headlines. Zoom has suffered both brand and stock repercussions as hackers have uncovered illicit entry into conferences and peppered users with graphic, often horrifying, content. MSPs cannot afford the risk of similar breaches happening on their brands. Therefore, for Integritek, cybersecurity is paramount – not just for IntegriTalk, but all around. That’s why its focus will turn heavily to cybersecurity in 2021.

“We’re doing everything we can to protect our clients,” Paulson says. “We’re really ensuring we are shoring up infrastructure for our clients so they can feel safe.”

COVID-19 amped up that emphasis for Integritek as organizations around the country …

Dec 01

A Baker’s Dozen of Cyberattacks

By | Managed Services News

The most successful cyberattacks are designed to bypass email gateway defenses using social engineering, fraud and other strategies.

The number and variety of cyberattacks continue to expand every year, with an increasing cost to businesses. The FBI estimates that cybercrime resulted in $3.5 billion in losses in 2019.

The majority of these attacks are initiated via email, and they involve increasingly complex techniques that traditional email security solutions are not designed to protect against. The most successful of these attacks are designed to bypass email gateway defenses using social engineering, fraud, and other strategies.

In Barracuda’s eBook 13 Email Threat Types to Know About Right Now, the company outlines an unlucky number of common attacks and how to guard against them. While a robust email gateway is a good start, more advanced solutions based on artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning and an API-based inbox defense approach can provide much more comprehensive protection.

In order of ascending complexity, here are the 13 key email threat types that Barracuda has identified.

Spam: These unsolicited bulk email messages have long been a nuisance. Often, these emails are used to conduct fraud or for phishing scams. It is estimated that more than half of the world’s email traffic is spam, and it costs $20 billion annually in losses. Over time, gateway solutions have become somewhat effective at blocking spam.

Malware: In these attacks, criminals use email to deliver malicious software in a document or download. While there are various types of malware, the vast majority is delivered via email, with ransomware as an increasingly popular tactic. Ransomware costs alone are estimated to have been nearly $170 billion in 2019. Gateway-level protection (including signature matching and sandboxing) can help reduce the threat.

Data exfiltration: This attack involves the unauthorized transfer of data from a computer, often through physical access to a specific computer or via malicious programming on the Internet. Data loss prevention (DLP) approaches can scan outbound emails searching for indications that sensitive data is being shared.

URL phishing: This scam involves tricking users via email to enter sensitive information on fake websites using similar-looking URLs. These highly effective attacks cost nearly $58 million in 2019. Gateways can use URL filtering to block access to these sites, and API-based inbox defense solutions can further protect companies by evaluating actual URL usage.

Scamming: These attacks rely more on psychology than technological trickery. Criminals use fake job postings or fund transfer requests to fool victims into disclosing sensitive information. Both gateway filters and API-based defense systems can effectively scan these types of emails, but end user training is also critical.

Spear phishing: These highly personalized and targeted attacks involve criminals researching potential victims and then creating well-crafted emails meant to fool victims into believing they are from a trusted business or colleague. These attacks are typically seeking login credentials or personal financial details. While traditional email security gateways have difficulty identifying these communications, API-based solutions can use historical email data to identify potential

Dec 01

The Problem with PST Files in 2020

By | Managed Services News

The shift to remote work has raised the risk level for PST files, especially when it comes to compliance.

Properly dealing with your PST files is more important than ever with the global shift to remote work. PST files are extremely vulnerable to attack, “ticking time bombs” with a huge risk capable of “exploding” at any time. Now is the time to finally migrate those pesky PST files to Office 365.

Notorious Problems with PST Files

The infamous Sony hack in 2014 exposed just how vulnerable, and expensive, PST files can be. Fast forward to 2020 during a pandemic, where remote workers are unknowingly exposing their own organizations due to increased accessibility issues with PST files containing sensitive information.

Outlook Personal Storage Table (PST) files originated in the ‘90s and early ‘00s, when they gained popularity as a space-saving solution, allowing copies of emails to be stored on local drives and personal devices rather than sitting on Exchange servers that incurred high costs for extra storage.

Ultimately, PST files are incompatible with modern-day IT operations, and if critical information is stored locally on end user workstations, there’s a huge risk of data loss, whether due to innocent system errors or targeted theft.

PSTs are portable and can be stored virtually anywhere–laptops, desktops, removable media, local networks, etc.—which makes them extremely difficult to identify and vulnerable, opening up regulatory concerns with GDPR compliance. In terms of remote work, large PST files can cause major problems as they don’t roam well, are susceptible to corruption on the network and aren’t supported in virtual desktop environments.

Other common problems with PST files include:

  • eDiscovery issues: PST data is effectively “off the grid”–not searchable within the Microsoft Office 365 ecosystem–so if the information is required, locating it in a timely manner is near impossible. In all likelihood, compliance teams won’t even know it exists, let alone be able to find it. Depending on the regulation, companies could find themselves faced with sanctions, fines and expenses related to the discovery order. The fact that PSTs are portable, rarely backed up, hard to search for and easily deleted is all cause for a perfect storm if
Dec 01

Workplace from Facebook Supports New ServiceNow Integrations

By | Managed Services News

ServiceNow can now distribute employee HR campaigns to Workplace from Facebook.

Workplace from Facebook is enabling new ServiceNow integrations that will let partners connect to the social network’s enterprise communications platform. Employee campaigns created in ServiceNow can also now be distributed on Workplace from Facebook.

The new ServiceNow integrations bring improved connectivity to Workplace from Facebook. Earlier this year, ServiceNow and Workplace from Facebook first partnered to provide support for ServiceNow Virtual Agents. As part of the latest rollouts, ServiceNow released an enhanced version of the chatbot solution. The update now lets users request support and updates on service requests, and connect to live agents within Workspace.

Officials at both companies told Channel Futures that several mutual customers had requested ServiceNow integrations into Workplace from Facebook. Launched in 2016 as a SaaS offering for enterprises, Workplace from Facebook claims it has 5 million paid subscribers. Sun Life Financial, Telenor Group and Petco are among their shared customers.

ServiceNow's Gretchen Alarcon

ServiceNow’s Gretchen Alarcon

“We’ve got quite a few who are current Workplace from Facebook users, as well as ServiceNow users,” said ServiceNow VP Gretchen Alarcon. “In fact, our customers are really who drove us in this direction.”

Alarcon said ServiceNow partners’ customers were also among those requesting the integration.

“Many of them as we’ve been starting to talk about the concept had already started putting something in place,” she said. “So this should be a pretty seamless process for them.”

Workplace from Facebook VP Julien Codorniou said the ServiceNow integration will enhance communications for knowledge workers in offices, remote employees and those in the field.

“We see this as next-gen IT, and this is where our GSI partners can help us to bring that vision to market,” Codorniou said.

New Workplace from Facebook IntegrationHub Spokes

Besides enabling HR-related communications created in ServiceNow through Workspace from Facebook channels, the ServiceNow integration is available as IntegrationHub Spokes. IntegrationHub is an application available with recent versions of the Now platform. The company says this allows process automation and integrations using common outbound protocols such as APIs, JDBC, PowerShell or command line scripting languages to connect with other platforms. Partners use Integration Hub and ServiceNow’s Flow Designer tool to build actions called Spokes, which execute commands to the external solution.

Prebuilt IntegrationHub Spokes are available in the ServiceNow online store. Among others with ServiceNow integrations include various Amazon Web Services offerings, Cisco WebEx, Docusign, Google Cloud, Oracle HCM Cloud, SAP, Microsoft Teams, Slack, Twilio, Vonage, Workday and Zoom.

Stratusphere UX Tool Certified by ServiceNow

Also new to the ServiceNow Store is Liquidware Labs’ Stratusphere Base Integration Kit. Statusphere is a diagnostic tool designed to test user experience in native Windows, Linux, and virtual desktop and application environments.

The Stratusphere Base Integration Kit for ServiceNow shares telemetry from Stratusphere including CPU temperature, Wi-Fi issues and VM display protocols, among other capabilities. The integration of ServiceNow telemetry into ServiceNow aims to provide faster routing of support tickets. This ultimately results in quicker resolution, said Jason Smith, Liquidware’s VP of product.

Smith said those operating ServiceNow can use Stratusphere for added telemetry.

“ServiceNow provides some basic metrics about workspaces,” Smith said. “But it’s not a specialty solution like Stratusphere UX, which provides in-depth data that you may need for your organization.”

Nov 30

Agilitas IT Solutions Initiates Managed Buyout with New Investment

By | Managed Services News

Partners will continue to be pivotal in Agilitas’ business model.

Agilitas IT solutions, the U.K.-based global channel services provider, has completed a managed buyout (MBO) led by CEO Shaun Lynn and supported by equity investor Perwyn.

Perwyn has acquired a majority stake in Agilitas IT Solutions and will support the team’s growth ambitions. Those include international expansion, service acceleration and potential M&A.

Perwyn provides institutional backing to support growth initiatives. Richard Eglon is marketing director at Agilitas IT Solutions.

Agilitas' Richard Eglon

Agilitas’ Richard Eglon

“The new investment will provide many benefits for Agilitas channel partners by truly enhancing their service offering and therefore increasing their chances of winning new business opportunities,” he said. “This will be through a broader service portfolio, geographic expansion [and] leveraging a more extensive infrastructure — delivering economies of scale and enhanced service levels.”

Agilitas works with resellers, VARs and MSPs. Partners will continue to be pivotal in Agilitas’ business model, Eglon said.

“Building an ecosystem of trusted, strategic service partners is what Agilitas’ success has been to date,” he said. “We will be expanding this ecosystem even further as we continue to move into new technology areas and territories.”

Additional Benefits Coming to Partners

Agilitas partners will see no change in terms of service delivery, Eglon said.

“As time goes by, partners will gradually start seeing the additional benefits to come from the new investment,” he said. “This will ensure Agilitas remains aligned to the needs of our channel partners and remains intrinsic in providing the necessary support services.”

Keep up with the latest channel-impacting mergers and acquisitions in our M&A roundup.

This latest round of investment will only accelerate Agilitas’ digital transformation, Eglon said. Furthermore, it will give partners the services they need today and in the future.

“Since leading the original MBO back in 2014, Agilitas has been on an incredible journey to position itself as the leading services partner of choice to the channel,” Lynn said. “The team and I share immense pride in this achievement. However, we are even more excited for what lies ahead.”

Perwyn shares Agilitas’ growth ambitions, he said. It also aligns to the company’s values and corporate culture.

Nov 30

IBM: Partners Need New Concepts to Build Relationships

By | Managed Services News

One IBM exec talks about the challenges of doing business in the new digital world.

IBM is helping its channel partners address the challenge of winning new customers in a digital world.

The vendor is calling for a new approach to building relationships with face-to-face meetings currently off the table.

IBM's Ivo Koerner

IBM’s Ivo Koerner

“We need to come up with new concepts to build relationships,” said Ivo Koerner, general manager of systems, IBM EMEA. “It’s going to be a little more complex to build a trusted relationship if you haven’t met in-person yet.”

Koerner says partners need to bring value to the discussion.

“Then, if you have a valuable discussion, you will get the opportunity to have a second, third and fourth interaction. And with that interaction you start building different kinds of relationships,” he said.

Koerner says IBM is offering its partners training on building and maintaining relationships in a virtual world. He also believes it is important partners know that vendors haven’t haven’t abandoned them during this time.

“We really put a high focus inside IBM to keeping those contacts and touch points. You need to actively do that. It also shows interest in keeping that relationship alive. It’s a behavioural change and we are putting a lot of focus on it.”

Simplify Engagement

The exec emphasised IBM’s hybrid cloud strategy, as it continues to work with customers on modernising their workloads.

“There are still clients out there who are investing in application modernization. They want to get more flexibility when they want to run containerized workloads,” he said.

IBM is working with partners to help them build skills to support these customers’ application modernization plans. However, Koerner says this doesn’t mean the vendor is completely moving away from its traditional resellers.

“But if a partner expresses that they want to change their strategy, we work closely with them,” he said.

This blurring of the lines between partner types has led IBM to less stringent categorisation of partners. Additionally, the firm made it easier for partners to qualify for programmes.

“A lot of those classical resale partners are adding services to build their own differentiation in the marketplace. We see some of them evolving from being pure resellers to being technology service providers. We are working to give them the technology insight and enablement with various marketing programmes to support them.”

Similarly, IBM is looking to simplify its engagement with partners.

“Potentially you can have two different IBMers talking to you, depending on if you’re an ISV or a reseller,” said Koerner. “We’re simplifying that in the future, so that you have one person to talk to, which makes your life easier.”

IBM has 5,700 authorised IBM partners in EMEA. While not revealing the percentage of revenue that goes through them, Koerner said it is “the majority of my business.”

Nov 30

Cradlepoint Chases 5G Enterprise Opportunity in Europe

By | Managed Services News

Cradlepoint is recruiting channel partners to accelerate its growth across Europe.

Cradlepoint has revealed plans for expansion in Europe as it pursues a multibillion-dollar opportunity for 5G enterprise in the region.

It follows the wireless edge vendor’s $1.1 billion acquisition by Ericsson, which wrapped earlier this month. The deal forms part of Ericsson’s strategy to capture market share in the 5G enterprise.

“In the Americas, we were extensively a 4G company,” said James Bristow, SVP of Cradlepoint EMEA. “A 4G solution that got picked up by AT&T and Verizon, and the largest US distributors. In international, it’s very much a 5G play.”

This summer the British government announced a landmark new funding boost for 5G technology. It added an extra £30 million to its wider £200 million 5G Testbeds and Trials programme (5GTT). More recently Apple spurred consumer interested in the technology with the first iPhones to support 5G.

Ericsson predicts that more than 1 billion people will have access to 5G coverage by the end of 2020.

Cradlepoint's James Bristow

Cradlepoint’s James Bristow

“Now suddenly everyone wants to talk about 5G. So it’s quite an interesting time for us,” said Bristow. “Where we’ve been educating this market for so long, the market is starting to come to us.”

The exec said Cradlepoint operates in three ‘swim lanes’: IoT, mobility and branch enterprise — which it calls the elastic edge. The firm has had a presence in the UK for some time “in a couple of those swim lanes”. It now, however, is “focusing on the market to develop full swim lane coverage.”

That, said Bristow, means expanding the number of resellers and service providers it works with.

“What’s good for us is the market is very receptive towards us. This is a technology people get instantly and they see the value of it.”

5G Enterprise

Previously delivering its core mobile network infrastructure to service providers, Cradlepoint now provides it with a footing in the enterprise.

“Where Ericsson excels is in the carrier core. Where we excel is in the enterprise edge,” said Bristow. “When you bring those together you have a very powerful combination. Because you’ve got the capability to build end-to-end networks which are completely wireless. And when we get into 5G technologies, we have some very advanced solutions that are materialising.

Sign up for Channel Futures’ new EMEA newsletter, where we feature news and analysis involving companies based in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, as well as those doing business in that region.

“When you’re owned by a large company like Ericsson, we can accelerate our growth quite substantially. This will broaden our road map, in terms of our product range, and where we expand our reach into given markets.”

Cradlepoint is now pushing into three new markets: Southern Europe, Northern Europe and Central Europe. It is establishing operations, building out teams and recruiting partners.

“Our goal is to have two distributors in each supporting geography,” said Bristow. “Typically, they focus on different swim lanes. We would look for one that is highly enterprise-centric and another that may be a bit broader. The distributors will bring partners to us. We will also proactively recruit partners that we route through distribution as well. I think that demonstrates the dependency that we have on distribution.”

In the UK, the vendor works with IoT and mobility specialist Westbase, and Tech Data.

Cradlepoint will continue as standalone business with a separate channel and partner programme to Ericsson.

Nov 30

MSP 501 Profile: Entech’s Focus Is Enabling People to Do What Matters

By | Managed Services News

Their mission: to be valued for making a positive difference in the success of a business and the lives of its people.

Company Name: Entech
Company MSP 501 Rank: 458
President: Jake Spanberger
Headquartered: Fort Myers, Florida
Primary Services:

  • IT services
  • VoIP
  • Cybersecurity
  • Data protection
  • Cloud

Twitter: @entechus

For more than 20 years, Entech has been focused on helping people do what matters. That means both clients and people in the local community. Ever since its founding in 1998, the company has incorporated the Golden Rule as a basic tenet of their business operations. They treat others the way they would like others to treat them.

Entech's Jake Spanberger

Entech’s Jake Spanberger

“Applying the principles of the Golden Rule every day in our business provides us with a strong foundation upon which we can build lasting and meaningful relationships with our staff and clients,” said Jake Spanberger, an owner and the president of Entech. “Our strong foundation and core beliefs have provided Entech with the ability to provide support to businesses of all sizes on a local, national and global scale.”

Their commitment to helping people do what matters extends to for-profit and nonprofit endeavors. In addition to being an award-winning provider of IT solutions to the business world, Entech works with more than a dozen community organizations to provide technical support, strategy and oversight that allow them to achieve their goals.

Channel Futures: What is one thing you wish vendors would do that they don’t?

Jake Spanberger: Proactively reach out to partners to help them sell their products. I’ve been in this business for over 20 years and I can count on one hand the number of vendors that know how much I spend with them much less actively help us try to improve on that number. Even when I try to be proactive and try to develop a relationship with a vendor, it is nearly impossible to find one that reciprocates. It’s hard to form a relationship when it only goes one way. I would love to have a vendor say to me, “Here’s what you are currently spending, let’s figure out a way to get that higher.”

CF: What new opportunities and challenges came with the global COVID-19 pandemic?

JS: Obviously, transitioning to work from home then back to the office was an opportunity and a challenge.  But a big challenge is communicating the risks and planning if it happens again.

CF: What do you love about the IT channel? What do you hate about it?

JS: I love that businesses rely on us for their success.  Our best relationships are with those who consider us a part of their business. I also enjoy the camaraderie of the channel and all the opportunities we have to learn. Technology is fun, and we do it for a living.

My least favorite part is trying to convince certain businesses that technology is not an expense. It is a differentiator. Some people just don’t get it even if …

Nov 27

MSP 501 Profile: E-Tech Starts with Strong Customer Relationships

By | Managed Services News

Knowing the customer’s needs goals, objectives and bottom line are key to designing optimal services.

Company Name: E-Tech
Company MSP 101 Rank: 14 (No. 1 in Canada)
President & CEO: Ian Evans
Headquartered: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Primary Services:

  • Dark web monitoring
  • Network security
  • Business continuity
  • IT support

Twitter: @ETechCloud

The crew at E-Tech knows that strong customer relationships are as important as technical expertise. Since 2005, they have been providing system support and IT consulting services, designing their services specifically for the customer’s needs. Their goal is to help customers succeed in today’s complex business environment. So to do that, they need to earn their customers’ trust. Moreover, doing that requires a strong customer relationship.

E-Tech's Ian Evans

E-Tech’s Ian Evans

Ian Evans, president and CEO of E-Tech, started the company so that he could use his creativity and be in control of his own fate. As a person of color, he is, unfortunately, all too familiar with systemic racism. But he is hopeful that recent events will bring about much-needed change.

Channel Futures: Why are you a business owner instead of working for someone else? What is the allure of entrepreneurship to you?

Ian Evans: There are many reasons I chose to become a business owner. I made the decision to start my own business due to my position becoming redundant 15 years ago. I had been the IT manager for a company specializing in member engagement software. At that point, I decided that I had an opportunity to control my own destiny.

My ultimate goal is to help as many people as possible because being able to help people is one of the main benefits of being a business owner. I have hired more than 40 people in the past 15 years.

Business owners can be as creative as their hearts desire. It is uniquely satisfying. As an entrepreneur, the actual process of building a business is creative in and of itself. When you own your own business, you get to shape your dreams and those of others.

Being your own boss might seem all about you, but that isn’t the case. First, there are your customers, whom you are helping with your products or services. Then there are other businesses that you work with – MSP vendors and business partners. And best of all, I get to hire smart, talented and innovative individuals and see them grow over the years, professionally and personally.

CF: How does your experience as a racial minority change your approach to doing business?

IE: As a person of color, I have experienced institutionalized racism in companies I worked for my entire professional career. That was especially true in the IT sector. There is very little representation of people of color at the most senior levels, including ownership. I am one of a very small minority of Black MSP business owners in Canada.

People of color — and women in IT for that matter — must be twice as good and work twice as hard in many cases to get the same recognition as white males. If you’re not the right gender or the right color, the bar is much higher. This message has been passed down from previous generations.

With all the protests this year around racial inequality, I am confident that things will change for people of color. I personally have lost opportunities because I am a person of color. That’s what makes me especially proud of the fact that E-Tech was voted the top MSP in Canada for 2020.

CF: What new opportunities and challenges came with the global COVID-19 pandemic?

IE: COVID-19 continues to cause tremendous challenges for everyone. It is a global team effort to flatten the curve. This involves working from home, social and physical distancing and wearing a mask in public. The working from home element has created a tremendous opportunity for hackers. Phishing attacks on small business have quadrupled since the onset of the pandemic.

The COVID-19 crisis is forcing organizations to accelerate their digital transformations. It’s also causing a worker transformation. Apart from securing users working from home, one challenge for many organizations has been obtaining enough laptops or desktops for everyone. Supplies were extremely limited for everything from laptops to webcams. A large majority of organizations were forced to rely on employees’ devices. But the company doesn’t own them, can’t manage them and doesn’t trust them. And they have no idea what’s going on with the home network.

That created the opportunity to work with organizations to quickly implement work-from-home business continuity plans. There was also an opportunity to weaponize the end user, through cybersecurity awareness training webinars and e-learning modules. This armed them with the tools they needed to prevent cyberattacks on their businesses.