Category Archives for "Managed Services News"

May 28

Partner Pain Points: MSPs on Cybersecurity ‘Nightmares’, War for Talent

By | Managed Services News

Providers have had a lot thrust upon them in the last year. While there are positives, there are issues they still face.

We recently covered the new Pulseway MSP pain points survey that focuses on MSP stressors and concerns about growing their businesses. We asked our MSP 501ers and NextGen 101ers to weigh in with the most prevalent issues they are facing.

Overwhelmingly, and unsurprisingly, they cited cybersecurity concerns and meeting requirements around those as the most common struggles.

Partners also expressed feelings of angst around the talent shortage and increasing workloads. Moreover, they have feelings of isolation/disconnection, and clients with unrealistic expectations.

Dive into our slideshow above to learn more about what’s keeping your partner peers up at night. Then be sure to register for our upcoming webinar where we break down the full MSP 501 list for 2021.

May 28

How to Keep Edge Computing Sites Truly Autonomous

By | Managed Services News

IT solution providers have an opportunity to add value by delivering and remotely managing hyperconverged edge sites.

Hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) solves many problems that historically have plagued data center managers–clutter, management complexity, and high upgrade and maintenance costs created by multiple Ethernet boxes, servers, and storage arrays. Hyperconvergence removes those elements by combining data center functions into a single node.

As such, HCI is ideal for unstaffed edge computing sites, which can number in the thousands as part of a single network. As companies deploy edge environments, IT managers are coming to managed service providers (MSPs) and IT solution providers with questions along these lines: “My CIO wants me to deploy a standalone edge micro data center at each of our branch locations by the end of this month. How can I possibly install and maintain these sites located across such a wide territory?”

These “from the trenches” questions present an opportunity for IT solution providers to add significant value and cement their trusted advisor role by delivering and remotely managing hyperconverged edge sites. It’s also a great opportunity to adapt the business to a fast-growth market. In fact, a recent IDC survey revealed that 40% of end users plan to outsource their edge initiatives, making this a rapidly growing market opportunity for IT solution providers.

Keeping Edge Computing Sites Resilient

So, what is really on the minds of customers when it comes to edge computing sites? It’s all about reliability. The overriding priority at the edge is to keep everything running uninterrupted. After all, edge computing networks support mission-critical applications. They are essential to digital transformation, as organizations leverage the Internet of Things (IoT) and advanced technologies to gain agility and improve the customer experience. Even when there is a break in a site’s connection to the wide area network (WAN) or offsite infrastructure, it’s important to keep the site operating.

Currently, HCI solutions are two-node systems that can run a complete micro data center or edge site by providing processing, storage, data protection and power backup. Yet, these two-node systems require a third node or “witness” to achieve data consistency across the clustered file system in the HCI. The witness, operating remotely at a third site, maintains consistency in the cluster even if one of the nodes goes offline. But this approach is costly, especially when multiplied by all the sites on an edge network.

Affordable Innovation

To address this challenge, Schneider Electric and Cisco have teamed up to offer a cost-effective innovation that boosts reliability at the edge. Now, two-node Cisco HyperFlex solutions can have a Local/Connected Witness, without the cost of another compute node. The witness functionality is embedded in the latest generation of APC’s Network Management Card (NMC). This card resides slotted into the rear of the APC uninterruptible power supply (UPS) that supports the cluster at an edge site. Combining a witness-embedded NMC with HyperFlex helps prevent downtime during a power disturbance, as the UPS helps the edge clusters to continue functioning.

This Cisco-validated Local/Connected Witness keeps costs down and removes the need for

May 28

MSP Faces Cryptocurrency Blunder as Agents Get Fired Up About Consolidation

By | Managed Services News

What do you when your employee installs cryptocurrency mining software on your client’s server?

An MSP ran into a big crypto problem, and agents discussed the future of their industry.

Partners aren’t holding back from talking about the challenges they face. As we do regularly on Fridays, we took to Reddit and LinkedIn to find the juiciest partner conversations about opportunities and controversy. In one case, a partner discussed the rogue actions of an employee that cost an MSP its customer. In addition, partners discussed consolidation in the agent channel.

Check out these intriguing conversations before you start your Memorial Day weekend.

Agent Conversations

Consultant and analyst Peter Radizeski stirred the pot on LinkedIn, discussing recent transactions in the channel. He cited Upstack’s purchase of M2 Enterprise Group and AppSmart’s investment in NXTSYS, as examples of partners “exiting” the industry.

“While the opportunity for partners to sell stuff is at an all-time high, the actual income (commissions) is at an all time low,” Radizeski wrote in a post. “Pricing is compressed in many markets. Vendors are consolidating or changing or going bankrupt. How many partners want to continue in the wake of that?”

Peter Radizeski comments

Source: LinkedIn

However, team AppSmart-NXTSYS took issue with Radizeski’s use of the word “exit.”

NXTSYS CEO Dave Wallace said his team is by no means exiting the industry. NXTSYS will be buying out its long-term investor as a result of the investment and targeting “exciting growth plans.” But AppSmart won’t be taking over the company.

“We are far from retiring and love the ability to keep growing. Our strategic partnership with AppSmart allows [VP of sales] Jared [Adamcik] and I to stay in the equity/ownership driver’s seat of NXTSYS. We get to laser-focus on our big plans with MSP’s and agents,” Wallace said.

Wallace did agree that consolidation between channel partners will ramp up in upcoming years.

“Many agencies at the 20-25 year mark are indeed looking for an exit or retirement,” Wallace wrote.

Crypto Goes Awry for MSP

One MSP asked peers for advice about a major screw-up. One of their employees installed cryptocurrency mining software on a customer’s server. As you can imagine, this did not go over well.

Angry client from msp

Commenters largely agreed that the MSP needed to own the problem.

“You’re (as the manager, not as an individual) in the wrong. You need to wear the burden. Put together a plan to ensure this doesn’t happen again and perhaps offer either free hours of support or some other compensation to regain faith,” dankynanky wrote.

Other commenters recommended that the owner use its errors and omissions (E&O) insurance, seek out legal help and even sue the employee. Another poster asked why antivirus software didn’t catch the problem. Apparently the employee added an exception to the antivirus.

“The relationship is probably toast at this point,” Joe_Cyber wrote. “Most firms in this situation would take it on the chin and move on. For what it’s worth, I’m sorry this happened to your business.”

The /msp subreddit has enjoyed a busy week filled with hot comment threads. Various MSPs discussed the difference between Datto and Axcient backup solutions, a concerning Microsoft termination letter and customers’ poor communication skills.

May 28

Older Fortinet Vulnerabilities Lead to Attack on Local Government Office

By | Managed Services News

A new FBI warning on older Fortinet vulnerabilities shows cybercriminals continue to have an advantage when organizations delay installing patches.

An advanced persistent threat (APT) actor group recently breached a local government by exploiting older Fortinet vulnerabilities. The group “almost certainly” exploited a Fortigate appliance to access a web server hosting the local government’s domain. The FBI isn’t identifying the local government.

The APT actors likely created an account with the username “elie” to further enable malicious activity on the network. Last month, the FBI and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) warned that APT actors had gained access to devices on ports 4443, 8443 and 10443 for Fortinet FortiOS CVE-2018-13379, and enumerated devices for FortiOS CVE-2020-12812 and FortiOS CVE-2019-5591.

What the Actors Can Do

The APT actors can do data exfiltration, data encryption or other malicious activity. They are actively targeting a broad range of victims across multiple sectors. That indicates the activity is focused on exploiting vulnerabilities rather than targeting specific sectors.

Moreover, they may have established new user accounts on domain controllers, servers, workstations and active directories, according to the FBI. Some of these accounts appear to mimic other existing accounts on the network, so specific account names may vary per organization.

In addition to unrecognized user accounts or accounts masquerading as existing accounts, the account usernames “elie” and “WADGUtilityAccount” may be associated with this activity.

Fortinet sent us the following statement:

“The security of our customers is our first priority. CVE-2018-13379 is an old vulnerability resolved in May 2019. Fortinet immediately issued a product security incident response team (PSIRT) advisory and communicated directly with customers and via corporate blog posts on multiple occasions in August 2019, July 2020, and again in April 2021 strongly recommending an upgrade. If customers have not done so, we urge them to immediately implement the upgrade and mitigations.”

More Targeted Infiltrations Likely

Tyler Shields, JupiterOne‘s CMO, said this is a “target of opportunity” style of attack exploiting Fortinet vulnerabilities, for now.

JuipiterOne's Tyler Shields

JuipiterOne’s Tyler Shields

“Issues in infrastructure-related technologies lend themselves to a long tail of exploitability due to the difficulties in finding and updating these types of systems,” he said. “This is the type of thing that will linger for quite some time. Now that the attack and exploit has been made public, there is a good chance you will begin to see more targeted infiltrations.”

Scroll through our gallery above for more on the FBI warning and more cybersecurity news.

May 28

Channel Partners Conference & Expo 2021 Preview: We’ve Missed Your Faces!

By | Managed Services News

Channel Partners Conference & Expo 2021 is going to be a homecoming in every sense of the word. It will be the first time in more than two years we’ve been able to meet and greet each other live. Finally, we can return to the in-person networking, making new connections and catching up with old friends.

Virtual does have its benefits. But there’s no substitute for actually being in the Expo Hall to see the newest products and solutions. For days jam-packed with conference sessions, keynote presentations and special events. The buzz and banter of the crowds. The chance to be face-to-face.

And speaking of faces, after more than two years away, will you be able to come up with the names that go with them? Just in case, here’s a quick refresher course.

Click through the slideshow above to reacquaint yourself with some of the people you’re likely to encounter at Channel Partners Conference & Expo 2021. And make sure your face is among those returning to Las Vegas this November.

Registration is open now.

Purple Register Now Button

May 28

Channel Partners Conference & Expo 2021 Preview: We’ve Missed Your Faces!

By | Managed Services News

Channel Partners Conference & Expo 2021 is going to be a homecoming in every sense of the word. It will be the first time in more than two years we’ve been able to meet and greet each other live. Finally, we can return to the in-person networking, making new connections and catching up with old friends.

Virtual does have its benefits. But there’s no substitute for actually being in the Expo Hall to see the newest products and solutions. For days jam-packed with conference sessions, keynote presentations and special events. The buzz and banter of the crowds. The chance to be face-to-face.

And speaking of faces, after more than two years away, will you be able to come up with the names that go with them? Just in case, here’s a quick refresher course.

Click through the slideshow above to reacquaint yourself with some of the people you’re likely to encounter at Channel Partners Conference & Expo 2021. And make sure your face is among those returning to Las Vegas this November.

Registration is open now.

Purple Register Now Button

May 28

Channel Partners Conference & Expo 2021 Preview: We’ve Missed Your Faces!

By | Managed Services News

Channel Partners Conference & Expo 2021 is going to be a homecoming in every sense of the word. It will be the first time in more than two years we’ve been able to meet and greet each other live. Finally, we can return to the in-person networking, making new connections and catching up with old friends.

Virtual does have its benefits. But there’s no substitute for actually being in the Expo Hall to see the newest products and solutions. For days jam-packed with conference sessions, keynote presentations and special events. The buzz and banter of the crowds. The chance to be face-to-face.

And speaking of faces, after more than two years away, will you be able to come up with the names that go with them? Just in case, here’s a quick refresher course.

Click through the slideshow above to reacquaint yourself with some of the people you’re likely to encounter at Channel Partners Conference & Expo 2021. And make sure your face is among those returning to Las Vegas this November.

Registration is open now.

Purple Register Now Button

May 28

Channel Partners Conference & Expo 2021 Preview: We’ve Missed Your Faces!

By | Managed Services News

Channel Partners Conference & Expo 2021 is going to be a homecoming in every sense of the word. It will be the first time in more than two years we’ve been able to meet and greet each other live. Finally, we can return to the in-person networking, making new connections and catching up with old friends.

Virtual does have its benefits. But there’s no substitute for actually being in the Expo Hall to see the newest products and solutions. For days jam-packed with conference sessions, keynote presentations and special events. The buzz and banter of the crowds. The chance to be face-to-face.

And speaking of faces, after more than two years away, will you be able to come up with the names that go with them? Just in case, here’s a quick refresher course.

Click through the slideshow above to reacquaint yourself with some of the people you’re likely to encounter at Channel Partners Conference & Expo 2021. And make sure your face is among those returning to Las Vegas this November.

Registration is open now.

Purple Register Now Button

May 28

How the Pandemic Has Strengthened the Partner-Vendor Relationship

By | Managed Services News

Vendor service and support are as important as cost in forming collaborative relationships.

Zyxel's Rachel Rothwell

Rachel Rothwell

The pandemic and resulting lockdown has sparked a significant shift in how channel partners and vendors engage with one another.

With people unable to meet in person, we might have expected relationships to suffer, but the opposite seems to be true. Relationships have flourished, as partner and vendor have worked together to respond effectively to the resulting changes in business’ IT demands.

Here are some commonalities we’ve seen.

Rules of Engagement

Conversations have been more open. The move to online-only communications has in many cases meant partners and vendors have been more accessible, probably due to less time spent commuting to meetings. Alongside an increase in productivity, the urgency of the situation has also prompted a more open and honest dialogue, with partners more willing to give valuable feedback, allowing more trusted and fruitful relationships to develop.

Guidance and education has become essential. Since the big switch to home working, there has been an explosion in companies moving to the cloud for their networking and security needs, with what was previously intended as an incremental process instead becoming an overnight shift.

Naturally, there has been an accompanying need for vendors to educate their partners about how to adapt to the “new normal” and help them regain their confidence in the market. This has meant offering advice on remote access and online security, sometimes in the form of webinars and online training programs, and working more closely with them to advise around what their projects need and how they can support their customers remotely, without the ability for on-site visits.

Increased collaboration and trust. Traditionally the dynamic between partner and vendor was strictly transactional, where partners would come to vendors for specific products and would manage the process themselves. Now that dynamic has changed, with the uncertainty of the past year triggering a need for greater support and collaboration.

As the pandemic has reduced cash flows, incurred staff reductions and extended decision-making processes, partners have required greater reassurance they’re selecting the right solutions for their needs. Cost-effective solutions have naturally been a focus point, as budgets have had to tighten, but equally so has the expertise and continued guidance vendors can provide. At Zyxel, our teams have been sharing more responsibility alongside our partners, and we tend to have more regular contact and closer involvement in our partners’ projects than prior to the pandemic.

Vendors have adapted their partner programs. The pandemic shone a light on the fact that, for too many businesses, their remote access was in no way sufficiently secure. Now that the majority of workforces are working from home, some consisting of thousands of employees, the focus has massively shifted to providing solutions that keep connections secure. Many businesses which had short term security fixes in place pre-pandemic suddenly found themselves needing more …

May 28

Channel Partners Conference & Expo 2021 Preview: We’ve Missed Your Faces!

By | Managed Services News

Channel Partners Conference & Expo 2021 is going to be a homecoming in every sense of the word. It will be the first time in more than two years we’ve been able to meet and greet each other live. Finally, we can return to the in-person networking, making new connections and catching up with old friends.

Virtual does have its benefits. But there’s no substitute for actually being in the Expo Hall to see the newest products and solutions. For days jam-packed with conference sessions, keynote presentations and special events. The buzz and banter of the crowds. The chance to be face-to-face.

And speaking of faces, after more than two years away, will you be able to come up with the names that go with them? Just in case, here’s a quick refresher course.

Click through the slideshow above to reacquaint yourself with some of the people you’re likely to encounter at Channel Partners Conference & Expo 2021. And make sure your face is among those returning to Las Vegas this November.

Registration is open now.

Purple Register Now Button

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