Category Archives for "Managed Services News"

Jun 01

Trustifi Unleashes First Partner Program

By | Managed Services News

The company also has appointed a global channel development manager.

Trustifi, the email security provider, just launched its first official channel partner program to support its MSPs and solution providers in the channel.

In addition, Trustifi has appointed cybersecurity sales veteran Jamie Lembeck as the email security provider’s new global channel development manager. Lembeck has driven management projects with Kaseya, ID Agent and more.

He’ll work with Zack Schwartz, Trustifi’s vice president of channels, to grow the company’s partner community. Their goal is to increase market share for Trustifi’s solutions in 2021.

Increasing Market Share

Lembeck said Trustifi is devoting new resources and has created a more formalized initiative for channel partners. This is part of a larger effort to increase market share across the board.

Trustifi's Jamie Lembeck

Trustifi’s Jamie Lembeck

“The most effective way to drive that is to strengthen our offerings for MSP partners,” he said. “This includes enhancing our channel program leadership, and that strategy extends to the rest of the company. We’ve brought on new CRO Peter Eastman this year as well, to bring channel expertise including his multiple years with HPE.”

Trustifi supports resellers with self-paced sales training and online resources. That includes virtual training labs to acclimate partners to the company’s approach to cybersecurity.

Trustifi’s solutions utilize a proprietary cloud storage system that enables a range of control over sent mail. The solutions encrypt emails in the cloud before those messages pass through the recipient’s gateway. This gives users a considerable range of capabilities. They can retract, change or block sent content. They can also swap out attachments, set expiration rules, or alter the recipient list within messages they’ve sent.

Positive Partner Feedback

“Trustifi’s partners have responded very positively to the level of support and attention that we’ve been able to provide them as opposed to a larger-tier cybersecurity company,” Lembeck said. “In executing that very high-touch support model, we have listened to the needs and pain points of companies when it comes to what’s required to succeed with security solutions in the marketplace. Much of that is tied to being able to deliver … SaaS security across multiple areas … at a price point that’s affordable for SMB. Although we work with larger customers also, many of our MSP partners are smaller shops who are looking for additional resources and guidance. Therefore, flexible resources such as MDF funding and accessible online training were priority. We’re looking to augment their ability to profit from the solutions, and to secure their clientele’s environments at the same time.”

Trustifi’s sells its solutions 100% through the channel. Furthermore, it emphasizes growing relationships with solution providers serving the SMB and small enterprise markets. The company also established a distribution relationship with Ingram Micro last year. That has increased the company’s addressable market of channel partners, providing a conduit to thousands of MSPs and solution providers.

“Trustifi’s value proposition is tied to the solution and the extraordinary capabilities of a relay-based approach, where sent emails are hosted on our cloud platform,” Lembeck said. “The solution itself is a compelling offering that will definitely deliver a competitive edge. Yet MSPs need to understand how our approach truly departs from the typical secure email gateway (SEG)-based encryption in order to fully realize that value, in addition to advantages like multitenant deployment capabilities and real time client reporting.”

Jun 01

Meat Supplier Cyberattack Has ‘Strong Parallels’ to Colonial Pipeline

By | Managed Services News

The White House says a Russian criminal organization carried out the attack.

JBS USA, part of the world’s largest meat supplier, was hit by a cyberattack on Sunday. The attack once again highlights the vulnerability of global supply chains.

JBS USA, part of JBS Foods, says it was the target of an organized cybersecurity attack. It affected some of the servers supporting its North American and Australian IT systems.

The company says it took immediate action, suspending all affected systems. It also notified authorities. Furthermore, it activated its global network of IT professionals and third-party experts to resolve the situation.

The attack didn’t affect the company’s backup servers.

According to CNN, White House Principal Deputy Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters JBS was a victim of a ransomware attack “from a criminal organization likely based in Russia.” In addition, she said the White House is directly dealing with the Russian government on the meat supplier cyberattack.

The cybercriminals didn’t compromise or misuse any customer, supplier or employee data during the attack.

“Resolution of the incident will take time, which may delay certain transactions with customers and suppliers,” the company said.

Colonial Pipeline Similarities

Christoph Hebeisen is Lookout‘s director of security intelligence research. He said the impact of the attack has “strong parallels” to the Colonial Pipeline attack.

An attack hits a critical industry and shuts down production, he said. That leads to financial losses and potentially shortages affecting large populations.

“Forcing a production shutdown may or may not have been part of the intention of the attackers,” Hebeisen said. “However, the impact of this compromise makes it clear that strong protections for IT infrastructure are becoming a business critical imperative for all industries. [That includes] those whose core business does not have an immediately obvious data component.”

John McClurg is senior vice president and CISO at BlackBerry. He said this latest attack underscores the ongoing cyber risk to organizations critical to the “normal functioning of our society.”

BlackBerry's John McClurg

BlackBerry’s John McClurg

“It doesn’t matter whether its logistics, fuel or food — these critical supply chains present unique and complex challenges from a cybersecurity perspective,” he said. “Organizations worldwide should ensure the use of intelligent cybersecurity solutions that can prevent, detect and respond to these attacks, now and in the future.”

No Need for Panic

Vectra's Oliver Tavakoli

Vectra’s Oliver Tavakoli

Oliver Tavakoli is Vectra‘s CTO. He said ransomware attacks “make clear our reliance on supply chains” susceptible to small-scale and short-term disruptions.

“While such attacks clearly will be a big deal for the victim organizations – and we can lament the fact that we live in a world where such things seem to be everyday events — a single supplier of meat going offline for a few days should not create a panic,” he said. “The practical result of such attacks is that we need to balance the desire to have lean (and highly profitable) supply chain with the need to have a resilient one.”

Jun 01

New Gradient MSP Tool Combats ‘Dirty Data’ Frustrating Vendor Sales Processes

By | Managed Services News

The freemium tool helps MSPs sort through data in their PSAs.

Gradient MSP is helping MSPs weed through cumbersome data in their professional services automation (PSA) platforms.

The Calgary-based company launched its data hygiene solution, which MSPs can access for free. The software addresses inaccurate, outdated or otherwise irrelevant data that resides in PSAs. Gradient’s tool integrates with PSAs and sifts through their core records to identify “dirty records.”

Gradient MSP’s Colin Knox

“MSPs typically have a substantial amount of dirty data hiding within their PSAs — outdated or erroneous records, for example, which can dramatically impact how the MSP runs their business, both from an operational and financial standpoint, as well as how they engage with their team and their customers,” Gradient MSP CEO Colin Knox said.

The platform integrates with ConnectWise, Datto, Kaseya, Syncro and Tigerpaw PSA solutions. Knox said other integrations will follow. In addition, Gradient will launch new modules that MSPs can consume in a “freemium” manner.

Knox said he and his team are chasing a vision of “data equality,” in which partners of all sizes get the same access to actionable data.

“There’s been an unlevel playing field and inequity of access to data and insights between very large MSPs and small MSPs,” Knox told Channel Futures. “We believe in this vision and concept of data equality where data for one is data for all.”

Knox said future modules will also focus on data equality and automating administrative burdens.

Ease of Access

Knox said beta testers have described the tool as easily deployable.

“We took the heavy lifting on our side to make everything work, but it’s as simple as connecting an API and pretty much clicking ‘next,’” he said.

Knox said he developed a freemium model to address the frustrations MSPs express about their purchasing experiences. Often they must jump through several hoops and attend tedious demo meetings just to figure out pricing.

“If there’s one thing we’ve heard from the industry, it’s that MSPs hate a lack of transparency and points of endless friction,” Knox said.

However, Gradient has made its pricing and demos on-demand.

“They don’t have to tell us who they are … or sit in a meeting with us,” Knox said. “It’s a free solution; we’re not even selling it.”

Consider this MSP’s rant about the sales process PSA providers typically foist on partners.

Why is it so hard to buy a PSA? from msp

Background

Knox has worked in the IT channel for almost 20 years. He ran his own MSP from 2009-2016, hitting $4 million in the first five years. He went on to found Passportal, the privileged access management solution that SolarWinds in acquired 2019. Knox joined the SolarWinds team and eventually served as vice president of community. That position put him in contact with the approximately 25,000 MSPs that use SolarWinds products.

Knox left SolarWinds last September and used the extended time off to watch the MSP market. He said he saw a clear opportunity to bring value to partners by helping them enhance their data.

“If we want to have the best impact and the best success rate for us to help MSPs make the best decisions possible, we need that data as clean as possible,” Knox said.

ISG’s Patrick Murphy

Partner Perspective

Kansas-based MSP ISG Technology has used the offering.

“Gradient has helped us clarify our data,” ISG VP Patrick Murphy said. “This has allowed us to have true knowledge of our business, as well as a voice to state the facts, since I no longer have to wade through all the excess irrelevant data in my PSA.”

 

Jun 01

Intel Launches Its First 5G M.2 Modem for Laptops, Sees Strong PC Demand

By | Managed Services News

But supply chain shortages could take years to fix.

COMPUTEX 2021 — Acer, Asus and HP are the first PC OEMs poised to deliver laptops with Intel’s first 5G M.2 modem. Expect the laptops with Intel’s 5G Solution 5000, debuting Monday at the virtual Computex conference, to appear later this year.

Laptops designed with M.2 interfaces have become common, as it is the standard form factor for internal SSD drives. By creating M.2 modems, it will offer OEMs a standard and more reliable way to offer always connected, 5G laptops. It also means channel partners will have access to a wider variety of 5G laptops.

Intel 5G ChipIntel’s launch comes two weeks after Qualcomm released a 10Gbps, 5G M.2 reference design for its Snapdragon X65 and X62 processors. Unlike the Intel 5G Solution 5000, Qualcomm’s reference design also targets mobile broadband devices, on-premises communications equipment and gaming products. Qualcomm’s M.2 reference design supports 5G sub-6 and extended-range mmWave frequencies. Intel designed its 5G Solution 5000 for sub 6GHz-based 5G networks.

“Qualcomm’s modem technology is advanced – and it has complete RF systems on offer – but its design wins are mainly with fixed wireless providers, not laptops,” said industry analyst Avi Greengart of Techsponential.

Besides the 5G laptops from Acer, Asus and HP planned for this year, 29 OEMs will deliver PCs equipped with Intel’s 5G Solution 5000, Steve Long, Intel’s corporate VP for sales, marketing and communications said during the keynote session.

Intel’s 5G M.2 effort has been in the works since late 2019 when it announced it had partnered with MediaTek. The partnership called for MediaTek to help design, certify and support 5G modems optimized for Intel-based PCs. Intel and MediaTek partnered with Fibocom to provide manufacturing of its, sales and distribution of its 5G M.2 modems.

“Laptops are a device category where 5G’s faster speeds and lower latency provides obvious and immediate benefit; I can’t wait to get hands on with one,” said Greengart said.

Power Boost for 11th Gen U-Series

Intel also said it new U-Series 11th Gen Core processors with its Iris Xe graphics will roll out later this year. Intel’s Long said the new i7-1195G7 and i5-115G7 will include the first 5Ghz processor in a U-Series processor. Select new designs will support higher speed Wi-Fi 6E (Gig+). Intel said the new processors will have lower latency.

Intel's Steve Long at Computex 2021

Intel’s Steve Long at Computex 2021

“There are going to be over 60 designs from OEMs based on these two skews available by holiday with designs from Acer, Asus, Lenovo and MSI landing on shelves this summer, some of them selling this week,” Long said. In all, that will raise the total of 11th Gen Core U-Series designs up to 250, according to Long.

Rising PC Demand

Intel is priming its channels for increased demand for PCs, which have risen since the outset of the pandemic last year. Late last week, HP reported revenue of $10.6 billion from its personal systems group for its second fiscal quarter. That was a 27% jump.

During the same calendar period, Dell last week also reported strong PC growth, with revenues of $13.3 billion up 20%.

Intel officials anticipate demand for PCs will continue to rise.

“The demand is unprecedented,” Long said. “This year is shaping up to be the largest PC market ever, with fundamental demand drivers that are here to stay.”

No Quick Fix for Supply Chain Shortages

Supply chain shortages continue to put a damper on strong demand for PCs and other hardware-based solutions. Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger, appearing during the keynote session, reiterated he sees no near-term end to the supply chain shortages.

“We have been working diligently with our partners, including so many of you, to address constraints and increase output to meet demand,” Gelsinger said. “For example, we’ve doubled our internal wafer capacity in the past four years. But while the industry has taken steps to address near term constraints, it could still take a couple of years for the ecosystem to address shortages of foundry capacity, substrates and components.”

 

Jun 01

Cloud Data Sector Sees Cloudera Exit Wall Street with $5.3 Billion Sale

By | Managed Services News

The cloud data and analytics vendor is going private. Find out why.

Data – the ability to bring it together from disparate places and analyze it for business outcomes – represents the next gold mine in cloud. Just look at all the talk surrounding lakes, warehouses and pipelines. And look at the platforms coming out to capture and evaluate all that loose information. The excitement around cloud data is real. The possibilities around cloud data are real.

But even a piping hot emerging cloud sector can butt up against human impatience.

That appears a key reason why Cloudera, which develops cloud data and analytics platforms, has agreed to sell to private investors.

To its credit, Cloudera in recent quarters made notable improvements in earnings and customer retention. Those strides came as the company released different types of solutions to help enterprises corral their cloud data. Along the way, the indirect channel remained vital to Cloudera’s strategy. Yet, even with more stable financials, the vendor could not appease Wall Street’s unquenchable thirst for more.

Going private seems Cloudera’s best option for competing in the cloud data sector without undue distraction. And that’s just what the company is doing.

Escaping the Pressures of Wall Street

Cloudera on Tuesday announced an all-cash, $5.3 billion sale to private equity firms Clayton, Dubilier & Rice and KKR. The deal should close in the second half of the year. It will mean Cloudera will then act as a private company. In response to the news, the vendor’s shares on Tuesday were up nearly 24% as of 1:45 p.m. ET, closing in on the $16 shareholders will receive.

To be clear, Cloudera still will face pressure to grow. Private investors don’t just sit back and give their portfolios total freedom and endless time. Many do, however, allow more breathing room than does Wall Street. While Cloudera CEO Rob Bearden phrased the matter differently, he practically said as much in a press release.

Keep up with the latest channel-impacting mergers and acquisitions in our M&A roundup.
Cloudera's Rob Bearden

Cloudera’s Rob Bearden

“This transaction provides substantial and certain value to our shareholders while also accelerating Cloudera’s long-term path to hybrid cloud leadership for analytics,” he said. “We believe that as a private company with the expertise and support of experienced investors such as CD&R and KKR, Cloudera will have the resources and flexibility to drive product-led growth and expand our addressable market opportunity.”

Daniel Newman, principal analyst at Futurum Research, agreed.

Futurum Research's Daniel Newman

Futurum Research’s Daniel Newman

“The move to go private will be an accelerator,” Newman wrote in a June 1 blog. “I believe that KKR and CD&R are strategic partners that are taking the company private with a clear ambition to grow faster and with less pressure from the Street.”

And while Cloudera’s latest earnings reflect “another solid quarter,” Newman said, the vendor should be able to perform better within a private-equity setting.

“I’ve long felt that the pressures of quarterly reporting to Wall Street can create a short-sightedness that deters longer-term strategic planning and product development,” he wrote. “Cloudera needs to make these changes to enter its next phase of growth, and being held privately by firms with a strong track record of strategic investment will act as an enabler for the company.”

Eyes on the Prize: ‘Long-Term Transformation’

That’s the exact goal, according to Cloudera’s soon-to-be new owners.

“We very much look forward to working with Cloudera as it continues to execute its long-term transformation strategy,” said Jeff Hawn.

Hawn serves as operating partner at CD&R and will step in as Cloudera’s chairman once the transaction closes.

Furthermore, Cloudera, Hawn said, “has made significant progress establishing …

Jun 01

MSPs Welcome Proposals for New Cybersecurity Framework

By | Managed Services News

They want regulation? The MSPs we talked to say bring it on if it helps prevent disaster.

The UK government is mulling a new cybersecurity framework for MSPs to prevent third-party attacks.

MSPs have become an increasingly common target for cybercriminals. That’s because hackers increasingly use MSPs as a single point of access to their clients’ sensitive data.

In 2020, the U.S,. Secret Service warned of an increase in such attacks. It noted that criminals are leveraging compromised MSPs to conduct a variety of attacks. These include point-of-sale intrusions, business email compromise (BEC) and ransomware attacks.

Elsewhere, Perch Security from ConnectWise recently predicted “the first moves by government and insurance providers to regulate the MSP industry.” The company warned that MSPs pointed to an increase in “Buffalo Jumps.” This is a new tactic that cybercriminals use to ransom a service provider and many of their customers at once.

Now the UK government is testing the suitability of a proposed cybersecurity framework for MSPs.

The proposals could require MSPs to adhere to a set of 14 cyber security principles called the Cyber Assessment Framework. The framework sets out measures organisations should take, such as having policies to protect devices and prevent unauthorised access. It would also require them to ensure data is protected at rest and in transit. Furthermore, it advocates for keeping secure and accessible backups of data and training staff, and pursuing a positive cybersecurity culture.

MSPs Welcome the Move

The proposal for the cybersecurity framework has been welcomed by UK MSPs.

Rick Gray is sales director at MSSP Cyberfit. The company acts as an adviser for MSPs that don’t have security expertise. This involves putting a security wrap around any offering the MSP is hosting for its end-customers.

Gray strongly believes that the government should implement the new framework, as “too many of these MSPs are doing the bare minimum. They think offering antivirus is enough — it’s just a tick box exercise. They say it’s secure when it’s not.

Cyberfit's Rick Gray

Cyberfit’s Rick Gray

“We had a client that hosted an exchange service for one of their customers and didn’t do the correct level of patching. So the customer got hit by the recent Exchange attacks. It’s a great thing that the government is bringing out these parameters for MSPs. There are too many out there getting away with it,” he said.

Ballard, Joanne_Maintel

Ballard, Joanne_Maintel

Joanne Ballard, customer experience director at Maintel, believes a central regulation will benefit both suppliers and customers. She said it would provide “peace of mind to the end user that they are working with a trusted provider.”

Re-inventing the Wheel?

Mark Herridge, CISO at Calligo, says the Cyber Assessment Framework “is clearly a step in the right direction.”

However, he notes that “there is little if anything new … that is not already covered by established certifications.

“These are well recognised not only by industry, but also by end-user organisations. We are seeing an increasing number of potential customers openly favour MSPs that have these accreditations.”

Calligo's Mark Herridge

Calligo’s Mark Herridge

He also said some customers even require their MSP to adhere to their own data security agreements. This is typically built off the principles of ISO, SOC and others.

Rather than re-inventing the wheel, Herridge said the government may be better off taking another route. It could do this by “simply stipulating that MSPs must attain and maintain these globally recognised certifications. If I were a potential customer, I wouldn’t contract with [an MSP] that did not have ISO 27001 as a minimum.”

Claudio Stahnke is senior research analyst, European Security at IDC. He said the UK “is certainly moving in the right direction.” He pointed out that the recent Colonial Pipeline hack has shown how vulnerable supply chains can be to cybersecurity breaches.

IDC's Claudio Stahnke

IDC’s Claudio Stahnke

Stahnke said the rapid growth of IT security means MSPs often provide cybersecurity even though they are not specialists. Regardless, he said “creating a framework that IT suppliers will have to follow will certainly help improve and level the field.”

He said this is required “in a world where the race between hackers and defenders keeps ramping up.”

Jun 01

Pride Month: Recognizing LGBTQ Pioneers in Tech

By | Managed Services News

Meet 15 individuals whose work has impacted both the tech world and the LGBTQ community.

As many LGBTQ pioneers in tech were changing the tech world, they were also fighting for inclusion. Surrounded by societal stigmas and bias, they focused on technological innovations for the good of humanity. At the same time, they worked to overcome the prejudice and persecution that confronted the LGBTQ community. Some did it openly and vocally, and some worked behind the scenes to elevate and empower their community. Still others exhibited strength, quiet resolution and determination, making them powerful role models.

Apple's Tim Cook

Apple’s Tim Cook

Tim Cook, for example, came out as gay in 2014, three years after he was named Apple’s CEO. In an essay for Businessweek he wrote, “While I have never denied my sexuality, I haven’t publicly acknowledged it, either, until now. So let me be clear: I’m proud to be gay, and I consider being gay among the greatest gifts God has given me.”

Ever the pragmatist, Cook also wrote that being gay had been “tough and uncomfortable at times, but it has given me the confidence to be myself, to follow my own path, and to rise above adversity and bigotry. It’s also given me the skin of a rhinoceros, which comes in handy when you’re the CEO of Apple.”

Adversity in the Pursuit of Diversity

Lynn Conway

Lynn Conway

Supercomputer pioneer Lynn Conway faced incredible adversity. She had worked at IBM for four years when she informed the company of her intention to transition from male to female — and was fired by the company. After completing her transition in 1968, she set out with a new name and identity to rebuild her career.

While it wasn’t until the late 1990s that Conway felt comfortable telling her new friends and colleagues about her gender transition, she certainly had no regrets.

“When I made the decision to have a gender correction, everybody told me I was terrible, I was going to end up in an asylum someplace,” she told ABC News. “But they were wrong. I’ve had a great life, I’m very happy and I’ve managed to do some productive, important work.”

Ann Mei Chang

Ann Mei Chang

On the lighter side, author and industry veteran Ann Mei Chang said that being a lesbian in the tech sector had some benefits.  Chang, who’s worked at leading companies such as Apple, Google and Intuit, told Fortune that she often was “one of the guys.”

“You diffuse the sexual tension thing,” Chang said. “You are working with young and nerdy guys who aren’t sure how to deal with women. It made it a lot easier.”

Click through the slideshow above to learn more how about the accomplishments of 15 of the LGBTQ pioneers in tech.

 

May 31

How Accelerated Digital Transformation Changed B2B Buying Behavior

By | Managed Services News

From chatbots to digital marketplaces, tech is redefining the customer journey.

CloudBlue's Alex Cvetkovski

Alex Cvetkovski

Much of enterprise IT investment saw substantial cuts amid the coronavirus pandemic, but it’s apparent that spending on strategic digital transformation solutions is the glaring exception.

Circumstances compelled companies to focus on new approaches for adapting and optimizing their operating models. Global expenditure on the technologies and services that enable businesses to make the digital move is estimated to have grown 10% in 2020. Direct investment in digital transformation, meanwhile, is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 17.5% to reach $7 trillion within three years.

Just like almost every other aspect of the economy, the business-to-business sector was transformed in the wake of COVID-19, with traditional face-to-face meetings disrupted and the use of e-commerce and online marketplaces vastly accelerated. McKinsey reports that 90% of B2B decision makers expect the digital and remote model to persist, and more than half find it equally or more effective than sales models used before the pandemic.

In light of these prospects, software vendors and technology service providers need to constantly keep tabs on the ever-changing expectations of their end customers and apply best practices to succeed in the fiercely competitive business environment of the 2020s.

Changing B2B Buyer Expectations

Here are three of the most critical ways in which B2B buyers’ expectations are changing how channel partners need to operate.

1. B2B customers want a simplified purchasing journey. Lockdowns meant more people than ever were reliant on e-commerce and online purchases for their every-day consumer needs. This greatly accelerated a growing trend that analysts had already recognized in recent years: B2B buyers are increasingly in search of a buying experience that mirrors that of B2C sales.

Now that 70% of B2B decision makers are open to making new, fully self-serve or remote purchases in excess of $50,000, vendors and service providers are best advised to shift their sales approach and mimic B2C in its simplicity to keep current customers and win new ones. Studies show brands that highly simplify the purchase-decision journey are 86% more likely than those with very low decision-simplicity scores to be purchased by the consumers considering them. What’s more, they’re 9% more likely to be re-purchased and 115% more likely to be recommended to others.

To this end, software vendors and service providers who wish to stay ahead of the curve should invest in technology tools that offer functions such as omnichannel experiences on the customer side.

Marketplaces are another area where software vendors and service providers should look to invest to improve the customer purchasing journey. No matter if it’s larger ISVs or MSPs launching their own digital marketplaces, or smaller vendors and providers incorporating their products and services within bigger marketplaces, B2B buyers are increasingly expecting the same convenience and expediency they get when buying their consumer goods on Amazon or Alibaba.

Whether it be live chat or chatbots, automated subscription or billing management or digital marketplaces, tech is redefining the customer journey. Likewise, it should be considered whether these tools allow for unification of ecosystem operations — where channel partners can manage all their vendors, partners, resellers and products from one place.

2. B2B customers want holistic solutions. Gone are the days of break/fix service models where IT services were provided and billed on an as-needed basis. Customers no longer ask their service providers for one-off software, but prefer holistic solutions that shape the overall business experience. For instance, a recent challenge for service providers has been to make the remote work experience mirror that of the office, which requires supporting different customers across different platforms. The demand for holistic solutions will only intensify as the role of IT service providers is shifting from trusted technology adviser to major strategic business partner and adviser.

MSPs are now required to support customers in different steps of the process, such as using the cloud vs. on-premises data centers to allow SaaS apps to function fast, installing software such as Microsoft Teams and Zoom to enable communication, implementing …

May 29

Veeam Channel Chief: Shift from Perpetual Licenses to Subscriptions Going Strong

By | Managed Services News

Kevin Rooney said half of Veeam’s sales are now as a service.

Veeam channel chief Kevin Rooney isn’t surprised that customers increasingly are shifting from perpetual software licenses to subscriptions. But the transition is happening at a more rapid pace than he anticipated.

With its entire backup and disaster recovery solutions sold through the channel, Veeam has approximately 9,000 active partners in North America, according to Rooney. About half – 4,000 – are Veeam cloud service providers (VCSPs), added Matt Kalmenson, Veeam’s sales VP. During this week’s VeeamON virtual conference, Rooney and Kalmenson discussed with Channel Futures how partners are adapting to latest trends.

Annual recurring revenue grew 25% year-over-year in the first quarter, closely held Veeam said this month in its quarterly update. A key catalyst of the company’s growth is Veeam Backup for Office 365, which grew 156% for the quarter year-over year. Veeam now counts 6 million subscriptions among 175,000 customers, making it the company’s fastest growing offering.

We sat down with Rooney and Kalmenson for a close look at subscription services and more.

Channel Futures: At what pace are you seeing your traditional resellers move to subscription services?

Veeam's Kevin Rooney

Veeam’s Kevin Rooney

Kevin Rooney: We’re seeing more and more true hybrid partners. It was very distinct in the beginning. Either you were a full-blown service provider, or you were a traditional reseller that partnered with one of these guys. That is still happening more often than not. But now we are seeing partners doing both.

Matt Kalmenson: We are now able to go out to market however the customer wants to consume; that’s their option. And that goes not only with our partner program, but also with our Veeam universal licensing [VUL] mechanism, which gives mobility to where you want to use your license, whether it’s on premises or in the cloud, it allows you to move workloads back and forth and such.

CF: Is the universal licensing option driving more customers to opt for subscriptions versus perpetual licenses?

Veeam's Matt Kalmenson

Veeam’s Matt Kalmenson

MK: We have our traditional sales organization, where customers can use our backup or DR capabilities along with our other technologies. But they don’t want to own that license; they just want a full one-stop shop. They typically go to one of our service providers. While they don’t pay for the license, they pay for their networking fees, their consumption, their storage fees, bundled into one price coming from the service provider.

CF: What kind of shift are you seeing among customers moving from perpetual licenses to subscriptions?

KR: We’ve seen a huge shift in the last two years, going away from our perpetual licenses and moving to our subscription licenses. That’s probably not a big surprise in general. But the speed at which it’s happened has been a bit of a surprise.

CF: How fast is it shifting now?

KR: North of 50% of the business transacted in North America is via subscription. One of the things that we had to make sure of is that we had the right support for our partners, helping to transition that business to subscription since that’s where the customers were taking us. We had a heavy focus when we launched our new program in 2021 to make sure that it was …

May 28

SolarWinds Hackers Strike Again, Targeting 150-Plus Organizations Mostly in the U.S.

By | Managed Services News

It’s clear the United States is a prime target for bad actors.

The notorious SolarWinds hackers are back, this time targeting about 3,000 email accounts at more than 150 different organizations.

That’s according to Microsoft. Organizations in the United States are victims of the largest share of attacks, but the malfeasance spans at least 24 countries.

At least a quarter of the organizations targeted by the SolarWinds hackers were involved in international development, humanitarian and human rights work. Nobelium, originating from Russia, is the same group behind the attacks on SolarWinds customers in 2020.

Microsoft says these attacks appear to be a continuation of multiple efforts by Nobelium to target government agencies involved in foreign policy as part of intelligence gathering efforts.

Deceptive Emails

Nobelium launched the new attacks by gaining access to the Constant Contact account of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). Constant Contact is a service used for email marketing.

From there, the actor distributed phishing emails that looked authentic but included a link. When clicked, the link inserted a malicious file used to distribute a backdoor called NativeZone. This backdoor could enable a wide range of activities from stealing data to infecting other computers on a network.

Tom Burt is Microsoft’s corporate vice president of customer security and trust.

Microsoft's Tom Burt

Microsoft’s Tom Burt

“Many of the attacks targeting our customers were blocked automatically, and Windows Defender is blocking the malware involved in this attack,” he said. “We’re also in the process of notifying all of our customers who have been targeted. We detected this attack and identified victims through the ongoing work of the Microsoft Threat Intelligence Center (MSTIC) team in tracking nation-state actors. We have no reason to believe these attacks involve any exploit against or vulnerability in Microsoft’s products or services.”

SolarWinds Hackers’ Playbook

Part of Nobelium’s playbook is to gain access to trusted technology providers and infect their customers, Burt said. By piggybacking on software updates and now mass email providers, Nobelium increases the chances of collateral damage in espionage operations and undermines trust in the technology ecosystem.

This is yet another example of how cyberattacks have become the tool of choice for a growing number of nation-states to accomplish a wide variety of political objectives, he said. The focus of these attacks by Nobelium are on human rights and humanitarian organizations.

Lotem Finkelsteen is head of threat intelligence at Check Point Software Technologies.

Check Point's Lotem Finkelshtein

Check Point’s Lotem Finkelshtein

“These attacks are not opportunistic or near-term, but rather strategic and long-term,” he said. “While one attack is practiced in the wild, another one is cooking, and will be ready to serve as a replacement, if anything gets exposed. If you are a valuable target, the attackers won’t let you go. The only way to protect yourself from such strategic attacks is to enact a strategic defense. The next attack can come in any form.”

Here to Stay

Kelvin Coleman is executive director of the National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA). He said it’s clear that cyber threats are here to stay. That’s whether you are a business, government agency or a third-party vendor.

NCSA's Kevin Coleman

NCSA’s Kevin Coleman

“It is clear that the U.S. is a prime target for bad actors, and as recent successful attacks have underlined, more needs to be done in order to fortify our cyberattack prevention, detection and response efforts,” he said.

The hackers’ emails looked to be …

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