Category Archives for "Managed Services News"

Sep 23

Dell Expert Network Focuses on DE&I

By | Managed Services News

Dell Expert Network discusses the healthy DEI culture at Dell Technologies.

Dell Expert Network is a key sponsor of Channel Futures’ diversity, equity and inclusion efforts.

In this video chat, Mobolaji Sokunbi, director, alternative routes to market with Dell small business, talks with Channel Futures editorial director Craig Galbraith about the healthy DE&I culture at Dell Technologies. He also takes the time to discuss how Dell Expert Network works closely with MSPs and their SMB customers.

Finally, Sokunbi dives into trends MSPs should be aware of as the year nears a close.

Other Channel Futures DE&I resources:

  • DE&I Workshop: Step In & Step Up: This online workshop takes a deep dive into allyship and mentoring. Don’t miss this one-of-a-kind channel event on Tuesday, Sept. 28, at 2 p.m. ET/11 a.m. PT. Register now!
  • DE&I 101: Our first annual list recognizes individuals working to promote diversity, equity and inclusion in the channel.
Sep 23

Financial Services: 5 Digital Transformation Priorities

By | Managed Services News

Digital transformation ensures that employees and customers can interact, communicate and collaborate–to the benefit of the customer and the organization.

Over the last several years, the financial services sector has been under pressure to provide higher-quality user experiences, as changing consumer attitudes and encroachment from competitors spur the need to reinvent customer service models. The pandemic has only exacerbated that, as an unprecedented number of customers started using mobile and online banking services to conduct financial transactions in lieu of visiting a branch office. In 2020, a study by McKinsey found 88% of finance and insurance executives increased their implementation of automation and AI—two technologies integral to customer experience in digital transformation—since the onset of the pandemic.

Digital transformation in financial services should include both infrastructure and capabilities in five focus areas: staffing, operations, revenue streams, security and customer communications. Each is critical in achieving a customer experience that is simple, seamless between devices and more secure. Each also requires an agile network that can scale as the business transforms, as well as enough bandwidth to support the ever-increasing need for digital experiences throughout the customer journey.

  1. Staffing

If the pandemic has taught businesses anything, it’s that their employees can be productive working from home–that is, if they have the right tools and services to enable them to do their jobs effectively. Financial services representatives need to have access to corporate systems and data when interacting with customers and be able to assist customers in finishing a transaction they began via their mobile app and want to complete over the phone.

In the same vein, as pandemic restrictions lessen and branches open, financial services organizations must be able to provide a seamless experience across all environments: mobile, online and in-person. Whether the employee is working in-branch or remotely and interacting with customers via video, the experience needs to be seamless. Therefore, the level of connectivity and access to enterprise systems by employees should be equitable regardless of location.

In the branch office, staffing needs will–and do–change often. As more branches open and customers resume in-person banking, branch managers will need to make staffing adjustments to meet evolving customer demand. For example, if a branch is experiencing a high volume of in-person customers looking for financial services beyond simple transactions, a branch manager can shift window tellers to revenue-generating areas such as mortgage services or have remote workers available via video to speak with customers. To support this flexible staffing model, bandwidth may also need to be dialed up and down accordingly.

  1. Operations

These days, CIOs are being tasked to do more with less: Derive more revenue with IT budgets that are the same or less than the previous years. As such, their digital transformation road map should include technologies that are supported by an infrastructure that allows them to be more flexible, agile and scalable.

At the same time, the shift to a mostly online experience by many customers during the pandemic is expected to remain even as businesses reopen. As such, networks need to be more robust and always-on to accommodate an increasingly online customer base and provide customer experiences that are seamless between in-branch and online, including mobile experiences. A network that provides fast and reliable connectivity is critical in enabling seamless omnichannel experiences.

In the back office, financial services organizations can rely on insights derived from data analytics to save costs internally by uncovering areas of waste or areas of opportunities. At the same time, automation can help reduce the “busy work” to enable employees to focus on more revenue-generating activities, while IoT technologies can enable smart operations to help branches save money on facilities costs such as cooling and lighting.

Employing advanced networking solutions such as SD-WAN can help ensure the enterprise systems and data that support smart operational models are accessible and performing to requirements. More flexible infrastructure also can help an organization be future-ready by being able to more easily launch digital applications and services in the next waves of digital transformation.

In addition to making it easier to add bandwidth at a specific location, SD-WAN enables optimal performing path traffic prioritization to help improve application performance.

SD-WAN also helps promote continuity of service through techniques ranging from traffic replication across multiple paths to cutover of traffic from a failing link to a healthy one. SD-WAN is gradually replacing or supplementing MPLS networks as organizations look to enhance employee productivity, improve customer experiences, automate and streamline network management, and manage costs.

  1. Revenue Streams

Financial services organizations must be able to uncover opportunities for additional revenue from existing customers, as well as target new customers. Personalization of services is one way to entice existing customers to take advantage of additional offerings, such as wealth management and mortgages or personal loans with a special interest rate based on a customer’s current and historical activity.

Customers today expect information instantly, and conducting transactions is no different. As such, the ability to offer instant approval of loans based on customer data is another way financial services organizations can quickly realize increased revenue. And the ability for the customer to conduct a transaction across multiple channels–starting the loan application online and completing it on their mobile device, for example–is increasingly becoming table stakes for savvy financial services organizations.  Click on Page 2 to continue reading…

Sep 23

Channel Futures Presents Elite Security-Focused MSPs

By | Managed Services News

This list features the elite security-focused businesses from our MSP 501 list, as well as all 2021 applicants.

MSP’s customers are feeling the impact of poor data management and protection more than ever before. Attacks have gotten increasingly advanced and targeted, causing significant and sometimes irreparable damage in the industry in recent years. 

Partners and customers alike recognize the impacts of failing to implement the right security standards. It is no surprise, therefore, that managed security service providers (MSSPs) are growing increasingly popular.

So, we wanted to know, from our pool of 2021 MSP 501 honorees and our entire applicant pool, who are the top, true MSSPs in the space? 

Thus, we are proud to present our list of the most elite security-focused providers. This compilation represents partners who are hyper-focused on this area, and who have demonstrated the highest security standards according to our methodology.

Click through our slideshow above to view our top security-focused MSPs.

Sep 23

Microsoft Previews Hybrid PC Design with New Surface Laptop Studio

By | Managed Services News

Five new Surface devices including a new Duo 2 foldable phone are set for the Windows 11 launch.

The Surface Laptop Studio will become the latest addition to Microsoft’s device lineup planned for next month’s Windows 11 launch. Microsoft this week previewed the workstation-class laptop, along with refreshes of other Surface models. Those include a new Surface Duo foldable phone.

Select configurations of the five new Surface devices will be available on Oct. 5, the day Windows 11 becomes available. Microsoft, which revealed Windows 11 in June, is betting the redesigned operating system will boost already increased demand for PCs. The company previewed the devices at an event in New York, which it also streamed online.

Microsoft's Satya Nadella

Microsoft’s Satya Nadella

“Surface has always been a catalyst for innovation across the entire ecosystem,” said Microsoft chairman and CEO Satya Nadella. “We’re building on that legacy advancing the two in one category, creating a new laptop category, and reimagining what you can do with two screens.”

The newest in Microsoft’s PC lineup is the Surface Laptop Studio, which the company said is its most powerful.

Microsoft's Panos Panay

Microsoft’s Panos Panay

“With Surface Laptop Studio, we built on the heritage of both Surface Book and Surface Studio, bringing you the power of a desktop, but also that portability needed in a laptop and then the creativity of a studio all-in-one,” said Microsoft chief product officer Panos Panay.

Dynamic Woven Hinge

Bringing together Microsoft’s Surface Studio and Surface Book, the Surface Laptop Studio uses what the company calls Dynamic Woven Hinge to transition it from a desktop into a laptop. Microsoft said it has three modes: standard laptop, stage and studio. Industry analyst Bob O’Donnell, president of TECHnalysis Research, described the two modes.

“Pulling it all the way forward and sliding it down gives you the full-screen tablet experience you’ve come to expect from Surface devices via what Microsoft is calling Studio Mode,” he noted in a LinkedIn post. “In the middle is a new Stage Mode with a slanted screen that lets you easily consume content like streaming video, participate in video calls, give presentations, etc.”

A breakdown of the specs and pricing of Microsoft’s new Surface devices appear in our slideshow above.



Sep 23

Meet the Modern Cableco

By | Managed Services News

Cable companies are valuing the channel more than ever as they chase the enterprise segment.

The channel has long associated multi-system operators (MSOs) with SMB coax services, but that reputation is changing. The cablecos are stepping up their game with broader technology offerings in an effort to move up-market. It’s no longer just broadband, video and voice, as SD-WAN, fiber and UCaaS are helping secure new revenue streams. These large companies are also working to improve the partner experience through automation and enhanced support. Analysts agree that indirect sales agents will play a key role in helping the cablecos scale.

Read the report to learn about:

  • How automation is changing the cable sales process for partners
  • The challenge of bandwidth price compression for cablecos and their partners
  • What consolidation means for the MSO market
  • The unique value partners bring to cablecos in attracting the enterprise
  • How the MSOs’ technology stack is evolving

Brought to you by: 

Sep 23

BlackBerry Hires McAfee Vet as Cybersecurity Business Unit President

By | Managed Services News

BlackBerry’s president and COO is leaving the company.

McAfee and AVG Technologies vet John Giamatteo is joining BlackBerry as president of the company’s cybersecurity business unit.

BlackBerry's John Giamatteo

BlackBerry’s John Giamatteo

In addition, Tom Eacobacci, BlackBerry’s president and COO, will exit the company on Oct. 29. Giamatteo joins BlackBerry on Oct. 4.

John Chen is BlackBerry‘s executive chairman and CEO. He announced Giamatteo’s hiring when BlackBerry reported its second-quarter earnings on Wednesday.

“We are already seeing benefits from establishing the two key business units and are delighted to appoint John Giamatteo as president of cybersecurity,” he said. “Giamatteo, who was previously president and chief revenue officer at McAfee, adds leading industry expertise. In IoT, design activity for our QNX products remains very strong, demonstrating both our industry leadership position and secular trends, such as ECU consolidation. In cybersecurity, we received strong third-party validation of the effectiveness of our artificial intelligence (AI)-driven, prevention-first suite of products, illustrating progress made with recent product launches.”

Double-Digit Growth at McAfee

During his six years as McAfee‘s president and chief revenue officer, Giamatteo delivered “both double-digit growth, and margin expansion for the enterprise, SMB and consumer divisions,” BlackBerry said.

“His appointment completes the refocus of our software business into two business units,” it said. “John will build on the progress we made in recent quarters with the cybersecurity business unit and will be responsible for strategy, engineering and go to market, which includes our channel and ISV partners.”

Before joining McAfee, Giamatteo served as COO at AVG, Solera and Real Networks. At AVG, he developed the company’s financial management strategy and contributed to the development of its strategic goals. Key business areas included platform, sales, marketing, operations, web, business governance and technology.

Prior to those stints, Giamatteo was president and CEO of Nortel Networks Asia Pacific.

For its second quarter, BlackBerry reported:

  • Total revenue of $175 million.
  • IoT revenue of $40 million.
  • Cybersecurity revenue of $120 million.
  • Licensing and other revenue of $15 million.
Sep 23

The Days Are Shorter, Channel Partners Homecoming Is Closer Than Ever

By | Managed Services News

Autumn is in the air and Channel Partners Homecoming is on track to be our best show ever!

We moved from summer to autumn this week, which means that Channel Partners Homecoming is closer than ever. And while autumn may bring shorter days, we have another set of “Top 10” highlight teasers to make you wish there were more hours in the day during Channel Partners Conference & Expo. Whether you want to hear expert insights on channel convergence or music at the House of Blues, we have it — and everything in between.

If you haven’t already registered, why not do it today? Just click here.

Click through the above gallery for our third set of Homecoming highlights.

Need to catch up? No problem.

Week 1 Highlights, click here.
Week 2 Highlights, click here.


Sep 23

‘Wish We Would Have Had’ Kaseya Ransomware Decryption Key Sooner, Says One MSP

By | Managed Services News

JustTech and 120 of its clients were victims of the ransomware attack.

As the FBI withheld the ransomware decryption key, JustTech was racing to help 120 clients impacted by the July 2 attack on Kaseya by the REvil ransomware gang.

JustTech is a Virginia-based MSP and Kaseya client. Some 120 of its 3,000 clients were impacted by the attack.

This week, the Washington Post reported the FBI withheld the Kaseya ransomware decryption key for nearly three weeks, leaving victims struggling to recover and stay afloat. The agency reportedly held onto the key as part of an operation to disrupt REvil. However, the operation failed.

The FBI shared the key with Kaseya on July 21. New Zealand-based security firm Emsisoft created a fresh decryption tool, which Kaseya released the following day.

Joshua Justice is founder, owner and president of JustTech.

JustTech's Joshua Justice

JustTech’s Joshua Justice

“My reaction when I heard the FBI withheld the ransomware decryption key was the same reaction that I had when Kaseya released it three weeks after the cyberattack,” he said. “I wish we would have had it sooner. Immediately following the attack, we had no idea if a decryptor would ever be available and released. Our clients could not expect us to wait and see for weeks. The logical thing was to wipe devices and restore backups. We started the recovery within an hour after the attack.”

Many Types of Businesses Impacted

The impact was widespread among many types of businesses, Justice said.

“Resorts could not check visitors in and out on a busy holiday weekend, restaurants could not process payments and others could not conduct business when reopening after the holiday,” he said. “I managed JustTech communications from my son’s Chromebook as JustTech was also a victim in this attack. I worked to reassure clients that they would recover and we had a plan. There were a lot of emotional calls with clients and employees, especially in the first five days. As clients at least became functioning again, they understood our plan was working. Our clients have been so supportive through this.”

JustTech’s IT team members worked 18-hour days in the days and weeks following the attack, Justice said.

“Other JustTech personnel from other departments were brought in to assist in the recovery,” he said. “We had the 120 clients affected at least to a functional state in 10 calendar days (four weekend days, one holiday and five weekdays). Most clients were mostly recovered by day 15.”

Continuing Recovery

Months after the Kaseya attack, JustTech is still getting requests from clients of things they didn’t know they needed access to because it’s something they don’t use on an ongoing basis, Justice said.

“We gave our clients punch lists to share with us so every time we visit, we can address additional items,” he said. “The recovery is continuing every day, and our clients have been amazing and seem to really understand the gravity of the situation.”

Moving forward, JustTech is going to put even more emphasis not just on protection, but also recovery, Justice said.

“How can we recover more quickly; how can we lessen the pain from these growing attacks,” he said. “We are in the early stages, but are already seeing some potential to speed up the recovery. We are also going to continue to recommend that clients move more programs to the cloud and are continuing those discussions with our client base.”

Sep 22

Ransomware Attacks Reach ‘Stratospheric’ Levels

By | Managed Services News

Ransomware attacks now account for 69% of all attacks involving malware.

Cybersecurity researchers aren’t running out of terms to describe how bad ransomware attacks have become. The latest, “stratospheric,” comes from Positive Technologies.

According to Positive’s Cybersecurity Threatscape: Q2 2021, ransomware attacks now account for 69% of all attacks involving malware.

The report also finds:

  • The percentage of attacks aimed at compromising computers, servers and network equipment increased from 71% in the first quarter to 87% in the second quarter.
  • Attacks motivated by financial gain increased from 43% to 59% over the same time period.
  • Email remains the main method of spreading malware in attacks against organizations (58%).
  • The volume of attacks on governmental institutions soared from 12% in the first quarter to 20% in the second.

Well-Organized Structure, High Ransoms

Ekaterina Kilyusheva heads Positive Technologies‘ Information Security Analytics Research Group.

Positive Technologies' Ekaterina Kilyusheva

Positive Technologies’ Ekaterina Kilyusheva

“There’s a low threshold of entry into the extortionate business, which has a well-organized structure,” She said. “And criminals are receiving large amounts of ransoms. Within the framework of partnership programs, ransomware operators have been able to attract many low-skilled cybercriminals who can be quite successful in distributing malware and monetizing their skills. Good bonuses are another reason for the proliferation of ransomware. When even one successful operation pays for all the efforts spent, this motivates criminals to continue their attacks.”

The retail sector is seeing a shift in attacks and motives, according to Positive.. There was a sharp decrease in the number of Magecart attacks, as criminals shift from stealing data, such as payment details, to pursuing direct financial gain through ransomware attacks. Malware was used in six out of 10 attacks against retail. That’s up from only 26% during the same quarter last year. Moreover, ransomware accounted for 95% of all malware used in attacks against the sector.

Threat actors also are actively targeting manufacturing and industrial companies.

Positive Technologies previously thought attackers distributing malware posed a danger mainly to Windows systems, Kilyusheva said.

“Now we see that the trend toward creating malware for attacks on Unix systems, virtualization tools, and orchestrators has taken hold,” she said. “In Q1 2021, we wrote that many attackers targeted virtual infrastructure. In Q2, they were joined by ransomware operators. REvil, RansomExx (Defray), Mespinoza, GoGoogle, DarkSide, Hellokitty and Babuk Locker are ready to be used in attacks on virtual infrastructure based on VMware ESXi.”

Most Common Targets

The most common ransomware targets during the quarter were governmental, medical, industrial companies, and scientific and educational institutions.

“Large companies, which are more willing to make deals with cybercriminals, are the main targets for ransomware distributors,” Kilyusheva said. “There are several reasons for this. First, it takes a lot of time to recover, which can be critically important for the activities of a large company. Second, attackers not only encrypt data, but also steal it for the purpose of blackmail, and the disclosure of information, including customer data, may be absolutely unacceptable for a large organization. And of course, large organizations are financially capable of paying the ransom.”

Positive Developments

On a positive note, some of the latest ransomware attacks attracted special attention of law enforcement agencies, Kilyusheva said.

“The ransomware rampage culminated in an attack on Colonial Pipeline, the largest U.S. pipeline system,” she said. “Law enforcement agencies reacted quickly, and the DarkSide operators responsible for it lost access to their servers in a matter of days. The criminals had no choice but to announce the termination of their activity, and some other operators followed their example. Due to the mass exodus from the market, the boom of ransomware attacks observed in April began to gradually subside.”

There are also disputes on dark web forums regarding the business of ransomware operators in general, Kilyusheva said. Some forums have banned advertising of affiliate ransomware programs.

“This step, having further complicated the life of ransomware operators, could precipitate a change in their business structure,” she said. “We believe ransomware operators responsible for high-profile attacks will find it hard to quit such a profitable business, and will instead wait for things to blow over before developing a new concept, but there is a possibility that the number of attacks will decrease. For example, June saw a halving of such attacks.”

Sep 22

AppDynamics Sales Going 100% Channel-Centric

By | Managed Services News

The move will align with AppDynamics’ parent Cisco’s full-stack observability strategy.

Looking to accelerate Cisco’s full-stack observability strategy, all of AppDynamics sales will flow through partners. AppDynamics, the application performance monitoring (APM) provider that Cisco acquired in 2017 for $3.7 billion, revealed the plan on Wednesday.

AppDynamics said it plans to phase its combined direct and indirect sales to a 100% channel-centric sales model. Mark Maslach, AppDynamics VP of global channels and strategic alliances, announced the shift at the company’s partner program launch event.  AppDynamics has operated as a separate Cisco business unit since the networking giant acquired it four years ago.

“This will provide closer alignment to Cisco’s sales motion and give partners the confidence and opportunity to build out full-stack observability practices with AppDynamics and Cisco,” Maslach explained in a post announcing the move.

Janet Schijns, founder and CEO of channel consultancy JS Group, said moving to a 100% channel model will align AppDynamics with Cisco’s longstanding focus on selling through partners.

JS Group's Janet Schijns

JS Group’s Janet Schijns

“The sheer volume of products and services needed for customers to have a full solution means the partners are their first call and a vendor has difficulty getting a seat at the table unless they are a big brand and a large part of the solution,” Schijns said.

AppDynamics has expanded the partner program to a three-tier structure that includes a new top-level Elite category, according to Maslach. The Elite tier builds on AppDynamics’ existing Alliance and Titan levels.

Established for AppDynamics’ largest global partners, the Elite tier “creates the optimal conditions to fully exploit the full-stack observability market opportunity across AppDynamics and the wider Cisco portfolio,” Maslach noted.

Competition and Revenue

Although AppDynamics is part of Cisco, it has faced mounting competition from a growing number of players. Among them are Datadog, Dynatrace, New Relic and Splunk. While Cisco doesn’t break out AppDynamics revenues, it’s a small percentage of Cisco’s $49.8 billion in fiscal year 2021 sales. The applications business that AppDynamics, Webex and other software businesses falls under $5.5 billion for the year. Applications revenues declined 1% for the year.

Meanwhile, Datadog, which has a $46 billion market cap, reported second quarter revenues of $234 million, up 67% year-over-year.

Schijns said that its new partner focus could boost AppDynamics growth.

“This is a good move on AppDynamics’ part, but the proof will be in the performance of their promised benefits and partner support,” she said. “I’m hoping they innovate and offer more unique marketing, demand and services programs than in the past.”

AppDynamics has launched new incentives as part of its expanded partner program. Among them, AppDymamics is adding:

  • Stackable margins: The most active partners will be entitled to more rewards.
  • Expanded rebates: Elite and Titan tier partners can now earn per-deal rebates.
  • Redesigned FastPath Program: Expanded co-investment in partners with funded head count, case studies, and training and certification.
  • Improved access to MDF: Partners can access the new Funds Manager platform.
  • Updated training and sales support: Now, partners can participate in AppDynamics’ sales and engineering boot camps.