Category Archives for "Managed Services News"

Jan 05

M&A of Midwest Firms Position MSPs for Long-Term Success, Companies Say

By | Managed Services News

“We have been approached by many potential partners over the years, but only this finally felt right to us.”

Minnesota-based Citon Computer Corp. and CW Technology are in position to become bigger and better MSPs via one merger and one acquisition, respectively.

ACP CreativIT/Camera Corner Connecting Point Merger

ACP CreativIT/Camera Corner Connecting Point, which has offices in Illinois and Wisconsin, is a technology solutions provider. The company has merged with Citon Computer Corporation and its sister companies, NetTel, NetGuard and TLX Communications. Together, the businesses will have more than 130 years of founder/family ownership heritage. They will have more than $3.5 billion of IT products and solutions delivered since inception. Also, the companies boast annual revenue of $300 million and nearly 300 employees, they said.

 Citon’s Steven Dastoor

Citon’s Steven Dastoor

Steven Dastoor will continue as Citon’s CEO and join the combined company’s board of directors.

“We have been approached by many potential partners over the years, but only this finally felt right to us,” Dastoor said. “We are excited about the benefits of scale to our customers and employees, yet the opportunity to preserve and build upon our culture and community footprint.”

Citon builds upon ACP and CCCP’s strategy of continuing to grow through acquisitions of companies sharing a common platform. They also plan to preserve the local customer, employee and community roots that have fueled Citon’s success, the company said.

All Citon and sister company employees will stay on as part of the merger, with plans to hire more employees in all locations.

VC3 Acquires CW Technology

South Carolina-based VC3, a managed service provider serving municipalities and commercial businesses across the country, is buying CW Technology. The addition of this firm expands the VC3 portfolio to municipal and commercial clients in Minnesota. It also adds a local presence of operators to the VC3 platform.

Sandy Reeser is VC3’s CEO.

VC3's Sandy Reeser

VC3’s Sandy Reeser

“VC3 continues to strengthen its existing presence nationally, where we already serve many municipalities and organizations across the country. We carry several state municipal leagues endorsements. With decades of experience, together as a team, we will continue to successfully serve clients of all sizes in Minnesota and throughout the United States.

“I look forward to partnering with clients built on the same values and service they have come to expect from CW Technology. I have all confidence that together, VC3 and CW Technology will continue to serve and add value to our clients,” Reeser added.

David Manion is CW Technology’s CEO. He noted that this acquisition will empower CW Technology and VC3 to provide more tailored services to a greater clientele.

“It was clear to me that a partnership made the most sense for our employees, our clients and the company. We continue to grow and evolve in this changing environment,” Manion said.

Jan 05

TCG Nabs Former Nextiva Chief for Sales Lead, Cable Vet for Business Development

By | Managed Services News

The new sales lead last year moved from Nextiva to ThreatProtector.

TCG has added two accomplished sales leaders from the vendor world to its team.

Carl Katz joined the Florida-based technology services brokerage as executive vice president of partner sales and chief operating officer. TCG also hired Graeme Scott as its senior director of business development.

Katz, Carl_TCG

TCG’s Carl Katz

Katz comes to TCG from cybersecurity provider Threat Protector, where he led worldwide sales. He worked at ThreatProtector for most of 2021. In addition, Katz worked as Nextiva’s channel chief from 2014-2021. According to TCG, Katz helped the cloud communications provider’s channel program surpass $100 million in annual revenue. He also possesses telco experience, having worked at TW Telecom and Level 3.

Scott, Graeme_TCG

TCG’s Graeme Scott

Katz said he hopes to leverage his supplier experience to become a “strong conduit” between agents and vendors. TCG teams with more than 200 suppliers.

“There is a lot of noise in the telecom industry, and partners need assistance in understanding the technology landscape and the solutions available to sell to their prospects,” he told Channel Futures. “As we don’t need to reinvent the wheel, I will look to improve upon and implement successful practices of other telecom distributors while creating new and unique benefits to working with TCG. We will also look to enhance our internal structure and processes to give our partners more time to sell.”

Scott had been working as regional sales director of business satellite internet provider Viasat. He also worked with channel partners at Spectrum Business and managed sales teams at Comcast Business.

Jan 05

How to Tackle Your App Portfolio Modernization Strategy

By | Managed Services News

IT teams need a strategic decision-making framework, automated tools and low-touch analysis to make smarter decisions about app modernization.

IT teams face a growing web of complexity in their application portfolios. These portfolios are ever-changing and often include in-house custom apps, new apps added through acquisitions, or commercial off-the-shelf software. IT teams also face an added layer of complexity when people move between teams or when coworkers leave the company, making it challenging to identify the primary app owner. With constantly changing business needs and organizational changes, it is easy to lose track of what’s in your application portfolio.

Executing on app portfolio modernization requires people with expertise, time and money, so it’s important to make that investment strategically. IT teams need a strategic decision-making framework, automated tools and low-touch analysis to accelerate their digital transformation journey and make smarter decisions about applications.

One of the myths of app portfolio modernization is that an organization cannot begin to modernize until it understands every part of its app portfolio. Luckily, teams can use lean and agile methodologies to short-circuit this analysis paralysis, leveraging iterative feedback loops and frequent delivery to validate progress, move faster and produce higher quality, consistent outcomes. To help organizations kickstart the app portfolio modernization process or breathe life into ongoing initiatives that are stagnant, VMware developed an approach called VMware App Navigator.

So, what does app modernization look like in the real world? Using our own IT organization as an example, our IT app portfolio has grown exponentially in size and complexity over the last two decades through custom and third-party apps, as well as through acquisitions of companies and technologies. VMware is undergoing a digital transformation to maintain and mature this complex portfolio, and to ensure we can innovate faster and be responsive to our customers’ needs. To efficiently handle change requests for new features, we must accelerate delivery by modernizing mission-critical apps that are still running on legacy systems. This talk shares an example of how our IT team modernized our Customer Connect portal, a monolithic application, to improve the customer experience while achieving a 40% improvement in service response time and saving over 1,000 person-hours in maintenance.

To jumpstart the modernization process, our IT team partnered with the App Navigator team to develop a strategic framework for app modernization that considered key business and technical factors. Our objective was to develop a targeted list of app modernization candidates so we could have a productive starting point for strategic discussions and prioritize our modernization efforts. Our approach to app prioritization follows these four steps:

  1. Confirm app inventory: What do we have in our portfolio today?

To evaluate which apps were in scope and candidates for modernization, our IT team needed to first update its app inventory and build a single source of truth. This involved an extensive exercise of culling through its large app inventory to identify in-scope apps, map the correct app owner, determine where the app is deployed, and where the source code sits. This early part of the process allowed us to develop a clean baseline of our application inventory to apply a first-pass filter and determine the apps in our portfolio that would fall under the scope for our modernization effort.

  1. Initiate technical discovery: What’s technically feasible to move?

Today’s software teams sit on a rich data set available in their source control systems, and it is important to have an automated and low-touch way to detect legacy frameworks, technical debt and cloud anti-patterns to quickly assess the modernization maturity of the app portfolio. Therefore, our IT team leveraged automated tools like Cloud Suitability Analyzer to analyze source code to detect common cloud anti-patterns. The team used Application Transformer for VMware Tanzu to discover components running on virtual machines (VMs) and their dependencies on services and components outside of the application itself. These tools allowed us to collect data across the portfolio to understand the specific runtime platforms and technology stacks for low-hanging modernization opportunities.  Click on Page 2 to continue reading…

Jan 05

2nd Watch Buys Aptitive for Cloud Data Expertise as Channel M&A Ramps Up

By | Managed Services News

The cloud MSP will combine capabilities to help enterprises “make smarter business decisions.”

Cloud managed services provider 2nd Watch is buying Aptitive, citing the latter’s expertise in cloud data and analytics.

Seattle-based 2nd Watch, which is privately held, did not disclose what it paid for Aptitive. It did, however, say why it bought the company: for more heft in helping enterprises use data to make smarter business decisions.

Indeed, this need has grown greater in the cloud era and in the wake of remote work fueled by COVID-19. Employees generate more cloud data than ever — within applications and personal files, on social media feeds and smartphones, and more. Organizations require the ability to analyze all of these (and other) sources of information. The results allow them to spot trends in customer demands and satisfaction, identify unused or underused resources, and determine profitable strategies. MSPs such as 2nd Watch aid end users in these endeavors.

Existing Capabilities

To be sure, 2nd Watch already runs a cloud data and analytics practice. It provides data strategy, migration and management; platform selection and implementation; pipeline development; and other services. 2nd Watch will add Aptitive’s capabilities – and staff – to that roster.

The fit looks solid. 2nd Watch teams with the Big Three public cloud computing vendors (Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud). Aptitive, too, holds deep expertise with each of those same providers, among others. At the same time, the Aptitive acquisition gives 2nd Watch expanded reach within the media and entertainment, health care and retail verticals.

2nd Watch's Doug Schneider

2nd Watch’s Doug Schneider

“The strategic and cultural fit with 2nd Watch is incredibly strong and further accelerates scaling both our data and application modernization services as we continue building an enduring cloud-native solutions provider that enterprises trust,” said Doug Schneider, CEO of 2nd Watch.

Paul Corning, CEO of Aptitive, agreed.

Aptitive's Paul Corning

Aptitive’s Paul Corning

“We are thrilled to gain the support and breadth of services that 2nd Watch brings to our Aptitive employees and clients,” Corning said. “Like Aptitive, 2nd Watch combines deep technical skills, top consulting talent and strong culture to deliver outstanding results for its clients. Together we can offer more services, more exceptional performance and a deeper bench across more technologies and skill sets.”

Channel M&A Ramping Up — And It’s Only Jan. 5

The purchase of Aptitive marks 2nd Watch’s first acquisition in its nearly 12-year history. And, Schneider told Channel Futures, “it won’t be our last.”

“We will be very selective and deliberate about making future strategic acquisitions and are not pursuing a roll-up strategy,” he said. “Our growth strategy will continue to focus on expanding our capabilities in the PaaS layer related to data-centric and application modernization solutions, along with vertical market capabilities. Ultimately, future growth will also be complemented by geographic expansion beyond the U.S.”

Already, 2022 appears to be a year ripe for channel M&A. Just five days into a new year – and one still burdened by a relentless, economy-straining pandemic, at that – the transactions have begun to fly. So far, Google Cloud has snapped up Siemplify, Variant Equity is buying MSP CompuCom Systems from Office Depot, and Fishtech Group and Herjavec Group have merged. Meantime, Channel Futures is aware of more deals companies will announce soon (track those stories here).

The strength and numbers of the activity are significant given that 2022 has only just started and COVID-19 continues to do it best to hamper the economy. Channel companies engaging in M&A might also have to consider whether the Great Resignation will affect any planned transactions. If the first five days of the year provide any indication, though, the pandemic and peoples’ job changes might not hold much power to hinder channel firms intent on M&A, especially in hot areas like cloud data.

 

Jan 04

Top 20 in December: Mitel Layoffs, 8×8-Fuze ‘Fire Sale,’ AWS Outage Aftermath

By | Managed Services News

From data breaches to layoffs to new partnerships, December was a busy one in the channel. But which story was No. 1?

The channel closed out the year with a bang, reflected here in our top 20 stories for December.

The month started with a blockbuster acquisition — 8×8 buying Fuze. But not everyone was on board, with one analyst describing it as a “fire sale.” Then partners had to learn about the Log4j vulnerability wreaking havoc on customers.

There were some noteworthy personnel changes, particularly at the highest ranks of some companies. We assembled a “greatest hits” edition, if you will, of our popular Channel People on the Move segment.

Companies doing business in the channel got big investments; others formed new partnerships that will carry into the new year. Our slideshow above counts down the top 20 stories of December as determined by you, our loyal readers. You participate simply by reading stories on Channel Futures and by subscribing to our weekly newsletter. You can do that here.

If you missed our list of the top, most-read channel stories for all of 2021, it’s here.

 

Jan 04

Google Cloud Acquires SOAR Provider Siemplify for $500 Million

By | Managed Services News

Google Cloud plans to integrate Siemplify’s capabilities into its Chronicle cloud service.

Google Cloud is further beefing up its security capabilities by reportedly shelling out $500 million for Siemplify, an Israeli security orchestration, automation and response (SOAR) provider.

Google Cloud plans to invest in SOAR capabilities with Siemplify cloud services as its foundation. Moreover, Google Cloud plans to integrate Siemplify’s capabilities into its Chronicle cloud service.

‘Great Move’ For Both Vendors

Eric Parizo is principal analyst of Omdia’s cybersecurity operations intelligence service. (Omdia and Channel Futures share a parent company, Informa.) He said the acquisition is a “really a great move” for both Google Cloud and Siemplify.

Omdia's Eric Parizo

Omdia’s Eric Parizo

“For Google Cloud, the purchase provides strong overall SOAR capabilities, [and] notable response automation, which instantly gives Google Cloud relatively mature technology to power its efforts to become a full-featured provider of threat detection, investigation and response (TDIR) capabilities for enterprises,” he said. “Today, its Google Chronicle solution is excellent at taking in threat data and conducting rapid real-time, rules-based detection. But it has a ways to go in several key areas, including analytics-based detection, event prioritization and threat response. Siemplify can help in all of these areas, but obviously response especially.”

Siemplify had done all it could on its own, Parizo said. However, it was challenged to increase its total addressable market without taking on massive new debt.

“The vendor had been reluctant to move into threat intelligence, or into extended detection and response (XDR), leaving few good options,” he said. “Omdia understands its strategy to increase its partnerships with MSSPs and develop new business opportunities in areas like business intelligence and crisis communications had met with mixed results.”

Few Pure-Play SOAR Vendors Left

Consider that Siemplify is one of the last pure-play SOAR vendors, the acquisition clearly signals the beginning of the end for SOAR as a viable standalone market segment, Parizo said.

“Going forward, SOAR will primarily be a feature within broader next-generation security information and event management (SIEM) platforms,” he said.

Sunil Potti is vice president and general manager of Google Cloud Security.

Google Cloud's Sunil Potti

Google Cloud’s Sunil Potti

“In a time when cyberattacks are rapidly growing in both frequency and sophistication, there’s never been a better time to bring these two companies together,” he said. “We both share the belief that security analysts need to be able to solve more incidents with greater complexity while requiring less effort and less specialized knowledge. With Siemplify, we will change the rules on how organizations hunt, detect, and respond to threats.”

The Siemplify platform allows security teams to both manage risk better and reduce the cost of addressing threats, Potti said. It also helps improve SOC performance. It does so by reducing caseloads, raising analyst productivity, and creating better visibility across workflows.

Important Milestone in Siemplify’s Journey

Amos Stern is Siemplify’s CEO and co-founder. He said the acquisition marks an “important milestone in the Siemplify journey.”

Siemplify's Amos Stern

Siemplify’s Amos Stern

“When co-founders Alon Cohen and Garry Fatakhov and I started Siemplify in 2015, we all knew, from our experience building and training SOCs from around the world, that security operations was a function in dire need of innovation,” he said.

SOAR as a category didn’t exist yet, Stern said. Siemplify focused on building a security operations platform that improves the way security teams respond to cyber threats.

Google Cloud in August committed to investing $10 billion in cybersecurity over the next five years, Stern said.

“We could not be more excited to join forces with Google Cloud to drive innovation and help many more security teams take their operations to a whole new level,” he said. “We want to thank our customers and partners for their ongoing business and trust in our team. With Google Cloud’s commitments to delivering an open ecosystem, minimizing vendor lock-in and leveraging best-in-breed solutions, as well as its support for multicloud environments, we truly believe that together we will deliver more innovation while staying true to our values.”

Escalating Demand For SOAR

James Brear is CEO of Swimlane, a low-code security automation company. He said the acquisition of Siemplify is a testament to the escalating demand for security automation and SOAR.

“What Google realizes is that no matter how many security tools a company buys and how many security specialists they hire, they still need to anchor those investments around a security automation system-of-record that can chew through the noise and trigger the appropriate action in a matter of seconds,” he said.

Jan 04

Lenovo ThinkPads Primed as First with AMD’s New Microsoft Pluton Secure CPU

By | Managed Services News

Microsoft Pluton promises to add enhanced hardware-based security to Windows 11 PCs.

Lenovo has launched the first Windows 11 PCs with Microsoft Pluton, debuting with AMD’s new Ryzen 6000 Series Mobile secure processors. AMD and Lenovo revealed Tuesday that the secure processor for PCs will arrive this spring with two new ThinkPads.

The three companies are showcasing Microsoft Pluton at the annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES), which begins on Wednesday. Microsoft Pluton is an embedded security subsystem introduced in 2018 for Azure Sphere for IoT-based devices. Azure Sphere processors include Microsoft Pluton, which provides multiple layers of defense-in-depth security in hardware.

While Pluton in Azure Sphere is a Linux-based subsystem, it is also used to secure Microsoft’s Xbox gaming platform. In November 2020, Microsoft announced partnerships with AMD, Intel and Qualcomm to bring the Pluton security processor to Windows PCs. During its CES media briefing, AMD introduced the Ryzen 6000 Series Mobile processors for PCs, which will include Microsoft Pluton.

Lenovo's Lisa Su

Lenovo’s Lisa Su

“Our co-development work with Microsoft eliminates entire attack vectors on notebooks, better protecting critical data like system credentials, user identities, encryption keys and personal information,” said Lisa Su, AMD’s president and CEO. “The Microsoft Pluton processor, combined with our other security features, delivers the most innovative security in a PC processor.”

Building on TPM

The Pluton processor extends Microsoft’s existing hardware-based security processor for Windows PCs, Trusted Platform Module (TPM), which enables BitLocker, System Guard and Windows Hello. Although TPM performs critical security functions in Windows PCs, sophisticated attackers have found new gaps, exposed by hybrid work environments.

Attackers are now “targeting the seams that exist between hardware and software and sensitive information like encryption keys and credentials within a device’s firmware,” according to Tuesday’s Pluton announcement posted by Microsoft’s director of enterprise and OS security David Weston.

Microsoft's David Weston

Microsoft’s David Weston

Weston noted that 80% of security decision makers believe more modern hardware is necessary to thwart emerging threats, citing Microsoft’s Security Signals 2021 survey. Microsoft has also tracked a 150% increase in ransomware attacks since March 2020 and a 667% rise in phishing incidents.

Protecting the CPU to TPM Bus Interface

One way that sophisticated hackers have compromised TPM is by targeting the bus interface connecting the CPU and TPM. Pluton protects against theft of credentials, identities and encryption keys, because an attacker cannot remove it from Pluton even if they installed malware or have physical access to the PC.

“This is accomplished by storing sensitive data like encryption keys securely within the Pluton processor, which is isolated from the rest of the system, helping to ensure that emerging attack techniques, like speculative execution, cannot access key material,” Weston noted. “Pluton also provides the unique Secure Hardware Cryptography Key (SHACK) technology that helps ensure keys are never exposed outside of the protected hardware, even to the Pluton firmware itself, providing an unprecedented level of security for Windows customers.”

Microsoft has enabled partners to configure Pluton in three ways: as a Trusted Platform Module (TPM), a security processor utilized for scenarios that don’t need TPM, or for OEMs to deliver with Pluton not running. The Ryzen 6000 Series Mobile processor with Microsoft Pluton will also include AMD’s Secure Processor and AMD Memory Guard.

Lenovo, which is launching the ThinkPad Z13 and Z16 laptops at CES, will include AMD’s Ryzen 6000 Series Mobile processor. The ThinkPads will also include Lenovo’s ThinkShield security. The ThinkPad Z13 will  ship in May, with a starting price of $1,550. The ThinkPad Z16 will ship around the same time and will have a starting price of $2,100.

 

Jan 04

AT&T: Partner Feedback Critical to Development of Distinct Channel Programs

By | Managed Services News

It takes a village.

Via three distinct partner programs, AT&T is able to work with a wide variety of partners. By listening to their feedback, the carrier says, its solution providers are more successful going to market.

AT&T received honors at November’s Channel Partners Conference & Expo as the winner in our PAC — carriers and cablecos category. This means they company got the most partners to sign up for the even using a unique online coupon code.

Our Allison Francis caught up with Brendan Rineer, associate VP/sales director, AT&T, for this CPTV interview at the event. Registration is open for the spring edition of Channel Partners, again co-located with the MSP Summit, April 11-14, in Las Vegas.

Jan 04

AT&T: Partner Feedback Critical to Development of Distinct Channel Programs

By | Managed Services News

It takes a village.

Via three distinct partner programs, AT&T is able to work with a wide variety of partners. By listening to their feedback, the carrier says, its solution providers are more successful going to market.

AT&T received honors at November’s Channel Partners Conference & Expo as the winner in our PAC — carriers and cablecos category. This means they company got the most partners to sign up for the even using a unique online coupon code.

Our Allison Francis caught up with Brendan Rineer, associate VP/sales director, AT&T, for this CPTV interview at the event. Registration is open for the spring edition of Channel Partners, again co-located with the MSP Summit, April 11-14, in Las Vegas.

Jan 04

AT&T: Partner Feedback Critical to Development of Distinct Channel Programs

By | Managed Services News

It takes a village.

Via three distinct partner programs, AT&T is able to work with a wide variety of partners. By listening to their feedback, the carrier says, its solution providers are more successful going to market.

AT&T received honors at November’s Channel Partners Conference & Expo as the winner in our PAC — carriers and cablecos category. This means they company got the most partners to sign up for the even using a unique online coupon code.

Our Allison Francis caught up with Brendan Rineer, associate VP/sales director, AT&T, for this CPTV interview at the event. Registration is open for the spring edition of Channel Partners, again co-located with the MSP Summit, April 11-14, in Las Vegas.

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