Category Archives for "Managed Services News"

Apr 08

AT&T Adds Mobile Cloud PBX to RingCentral-Powered Collaboration Solution

By | Managed Services News

The carrier has been partnering with RingCentral around unified communication for several years.

AT&T Business just enhanced its [email protected] collaboration offer with a wireless option.

The carrier has been selling the collaboration offering for the last eight years, but the latest iteration gives customers a mobile-based cloud PBX system. AT&T [email protected] Wireless gives employees a single phone number so they can have a voice presence on a variety of devices.

Its features include native dialing, voicemail, auto receptionist and 24/7 support. It also features a web portal.

The wireless offering can integrate into the main AT&T [email protected] solution, which AT&T delivers in partnership with RingCentral. The larger offering features voice, fax, texting, audio and video.

Flexibility Matters

AT&T cited a Gartner CFO survey that founded that 74% of companies will give their employees the opportunity to permanently work from home. Elka Popova, Frost & Sullivan‘s vice president of connected work research, said COVID-19 put businesses in a very difficult situation.

Frost & Sullivan’s Elka Popova

“This has highlighted the importance of using advanced technology to enable greater business agility and the ability to promptly respond when disaster strikes,” Popova said. “Modern, mobile-first communications and collaboration tools enable business users to maintain vital connections, both internally and with customers and partners, regardless of their physical location.”

Shaw, Rich AT&T

AT&T’s Rich Shaw

Rich Shaw, AT&T Business’ vice president of voice and collaboration, said the pandemic only accelerated an already extant trend.

“Businesses need the tools to activate their workforce from anywhere to compete, grow and even survive in today’s environment. AT&T [email protected] Wireless gives them a communications tool providing a powerful way to adapt to shifts on the playing field,” Shaw said.

Homayoun Razavi works as RingCentral’s senior vice president of global service providers. He said RingCentral and AT&T are giving employees flexibility for whatever location and device they desire for their work environment.

RingCentral’s Homayoun Razavi

“Combining [email protected] with AT&T’s 5G network delivers blazing speed, high bandwidth with low latency, and the enhanced security needed for mobile communications,” Razavi said.

AT&T Business last month made new 5G fixed wireless routers available for businesses. The company announced last summer that its 5G coverage map had expanded beyond 200 million people.

In addition, AT&T Partner Solutions tapped two new vice presidents.

Apr 08

Mass Microsoft Exchange Exploitation Still Impacting Organizations

By | Managed Services News

Threat actors have a lot of options, including launching ransomware and other attacks.

It may not be at the top of the headlines anymore, but the mass Microsoft Exchange exploitation isn’t over yet.

Huntress has been monitoring the situation since early February and has updated its resource page. In addition to the discoveries, the company reported the following findings:

  • Malicious hackers appear to have compromised 20% of the Exchange servers Huntress reviewed (those running affected versions).
  • Nearly 25% of the incident reports Huntress sent were to hosts who had been compromised more than once.
  • About 12% of the Exchange servers they’re monitoring still need patching.
Huntress' John Hammond

Huntress’ John Hammond

The cyberattack was on Microsoft‘s on-premises Exchange business email software. The attack allowed access to email accounts and installation of malware to increase hackers’ dwell time inside a system.

We caught up with John Hammond, senior security researcher at Huntress, to find out the latest on the Microsoft Exchange exploitation.

Channel Futures: Is the threat from the Microsoft Exchange exploitation still very much real? If so, how?

John Hammond: The Exchange incident has taken up all of the month of March. And sadly, even now as we are in the early weeks of April, it continues. The threat is still very much real. Servers that are not patched are still being actively exploited. As public exploits are now available, any ill-intended actor can spray-and-pray across the internet looking for public-facing and vulnerable Exchange servers.

Scroll through the slideshow above for more of Hammond’s comments, as well as more cybersecurity news making headlines this week.

Apr 08

AT&T Adds Mobile Cloud PBX to RingCentral-Powered Collaboration Solution

By | Managed Services News

The carrier has been partnering with RingCentral around unified communication for several years.

AT&T Business just enhanced its [email protected] collaboration offer with a wireless option.

The carrier has been selling the collaboration offering for the last eight years, but the latest iteration gives customers a mobile-based cloud PBX system. AT&T [email protected] Wireless gives employees a single phone number so they can have a voice presence on a variety of devices.

Its features include native dialing, voicemail, auto receptionist and 24/7 support. It also features a web portal.

The wireless offering can integrate into the main AT&T [email protected] solution, which AT&T delivers in partnership with RingCentral. The larger offering features voice, fax, texting, audio and video.

Flexibility Matters

AT&T cited a Gartner CFO survey that founded that 74% of companies will give their employees the opportunity to permanently work from home. Elka Popova, Frost & Sullivan‘s vice president of connected work research, said COVID-19 put businesses in a very difficult situation.

Frost & Sullivan’s Elka Popova

“This has highlighted the importance of using advanced technology to enable greater business agility and the ability to promptly respond when disaster strikes,” Popova said. “Modern, mobile-first communications and collaboration tools enable business users to maintain vital connections, both internally and with customers and partners, regardless of their physical location.”

Shaw, Rich AT&T

AT&T’s Rich Shaw

Rich Shaw, AT&T Business’ vice president of voice and collaboration, said the pandemic only accelerated an already extant trend.

“Businesses need the tools to activate their workforce from anywhere to compete, grow and even survive in today’s environment. AT&T [email protected] Wireless gives them a communications tool providing a powerful way to adapt to shifts on the playing field,” Shaw said.

Homayoun Razavi works as RingCentral’s senior vice president of global service providers. He said RingCentral and AT&T are giving employees flexibility for whatever location and device they desire for their work environment.

RingCentral’s Homayoun Razavi

“Combining [email protected] with AT&T’s 5G network delivers blazing speed, high bandwidth with low latency, and the enhanced security needed for mobile communications,” Razavi said.

AT&T Business last month made new 5G fixed wireless routers available for businesses. The company announced last summer that its 5G coverage map had expanded beyond 200 million people.

In addition, AT&T Partner Solutions tapped two new vice presidents.

Apr 08

ConnectWise’s Perch Security: MSPs ‘Under Attack Like Never Before’

By | Managed Services News

The report analyzes 2020 MSP security trends, and makes predictions and recommendations for 2021

Perch Security, a ConnectWise threat detection and response platform, just released its 2021 Perch MSP Threat Report. The report, the second from Perch, is an analysis of major MSP-related security events and trends from 2020. It also includes Perch’s top predictions for 2021; for example, the first moves by the government and/or insurance providers to begin regulating the MSP industry.

The report includes input from a broad span of folks, including MSPs, partners and security experts. Perch claims that every prediction made in its 2020 report came true.

The Gloves Are Off

Perch Security's Wes Spencer

Perch Security’s Wes Spencer

“MSPs are under attack like never before; the difference in 2021 is that they know it,” Wes Spencer, CISO, Perch Security, told Channel Futures. “In the years prior, many MSPs were caught with their guard down and totally unprepared. The threat landscape for an MSP today is intricate and complicated in that they are required to defend not only their own organization, but also all of their clients against sophisticated adversaries. The time has come for all MSPs to take that stand and build a mature cybersecurity practice.”

Perch makes two other rather startling predictions for 2021. The first is that attackers will begin exploiting MSPs’ reliance upon, and lack of understanding of, the cloud. The second is that cyber extortion will massively hinder breach recovery, and will drive up costs. That’s daunting, to say the least. To quote Spencer, “if MSPs were in a boxing match against threat actors, I’d say we’ve just begun the third round.”

True Predictions About Security Events

Perch’s 2020 report predicted the beginning of data exfiltration as an attachment to ransomware, ransomware moving to the cloud, and that ransoms would continue to settle in the six-figures for MSPs. The report also determined that MSPs would become targets due to their collective value, and correctly predicted that “Buffalo Jumps” would amp up. 

“Unfortunately for MSPs, all of the predictions we made in our inaugural 2020 report came true. But the good news is that after taking some serious blows, MSPs have woken up to the existential threat they face from cyber criminals and are finally fighting back,” said Spencer.

Perch hopes its annual report proves indispensable for improving their own cybersecurity and that of their SMB customers. The company will begin working on its 2022 report later this year using the new ConnectWise SOC.

In addition to predictions, the 2021 Perch MSP Threat report provides a list of recommendations for MSPs as well as insights into the trends MSP security pros are most concerned about. It also outlines the current threat landscape, including specific details on the top threats affecting the MSP community.

Apr 08

Semperis Partners Get New Vigilance Channel Program

By | Managed Services News

Semperis’ leadership decided last year to create a global channel sales strategy.

Semperis partners, including global resellers and distributors, now have access to the company’s first branded partner program, called Vigilance.

Semperis partners can offer customers security solutions that address active directory (AD) challenges. The company has partners in 15 countries.

Semperis received a $40 million funding round last May.

Program Highlights

Some highlights of the Semperis Vigilance program include:

  • A 100% channel-centric global sales model.
  • A predictable margin-based commission structure.
  • Free use of Semperis’ AD security assessment tool, Purple Knight, to help clients understand their AD vulnerabilities and risk profile.
  • A no-cost partner education model to address three pillars of enablement.
  • Delivery of qualified leads and joint sales support. That includes presales, access to a partner portal for opportunity registration, account management and content distribution.

Richard Weeks is Semperis’ vice president of global channels and alliances.

Semperis' Richard Weeks

Semperis’ Richard Weeks

“It was decided by our senior management and board last year to implement a global channel sales strategy to help fuel hypergrowth and manage indirect sales to take advantage of the force-multiplier effect,” he said. “Our partners, in many cases, own strong relationships with medium and large global enterprises that would otherwise take us years to nurture and develop. Partners also help us accelerate the sales cycle and close deals faster, as they are approved vendors with existing purchasing relationships. From our perspective, this approach by enabling profitable partnerships is a win-win.”

Partner Feedback Critical

Direct partner feedback is critically important, Weeks said. Semperis has been field-testing its “guaranteed margin” approach with information security VARs and resellers since the fourth quarter. And it will continue to fine-tune this approach going forward.

“A close working relationship and ongoing feedback is desirable as we evolve the program,” he said. “We’d like to ensure we address any edge cases in our business relationships that will make Semperis as easy to do business with as possible. We have also begun working with a select group of MSSPs to develop an AD service assurance services offering, based on our directory services protector (DSP) and AD forest recovery (ADFR) platform.”

AD service assurance services could become a “boilerplate offering” for MSSPs around the globe, Weeks said.

With Purple Knight, VARs and advisory firms can develop for-profit AD risk assessment and remediation practices, he said. That will increase their billable hours and trusted advisor status with their clients.

Dan Thormodsgaard is CTO and co-founder of Fishtech Group, a Semperis partner.

“Working with the Semperis team has been a pleasant and easy experience from the beginning,” he said. “Semperis’ 100% channel partner approach and program positively move the needle for our profitability, and the company’s subject-matter expertise and proven track record for integrity and excellence made the decision to partner with Semperis an easy one to make.”

Apr 08

AT&T Adds Mobile Cloud PBX to RingCentral-Powered Collaboration Solution

By | Managed Services News

The carrier has been partnering with RingCentral around unified communication for several years.

AT&T Business just enhanced its [email protected] collaboration offer with a wireless option.

The carrier has been selling the collaboration offering for the last eight years, but the latest iteration gives customers a mobile-based cloud PBX system. AT&T [email protected] Wireless gives employees a single phone number so they can have a voice presence on a variety of devices.

Its features include native dialing, voicemail, auto receptionist and 24/7 support. It also features a web portal.

The wireless offering can integrate into the main AT&T [email protected] solution, which AT&T delivers in partnership with RingCentral. The larger offering features voice, fax, texting, audio and video.

Flexibility Matters

AT&T cited a Gartner CFO survey that founded that 74% of companies will give their employees the opportunity to permanently work from home. Elka Popova, Frost & Sullivan‘s vice president of connected work research, said COVID-19 put businesses in a very difficult situation.

Frost & Sullivan’s Elka Popova

“This has highlighted the importance of using advanced technology to enable greater business agility and the ability to promptly respond when disaster strikes,” Popova said. “Modern, mobile-first communications and collaboration tools enable business users to maintain vital connections, both internally and with customers and partners, regardless of their physical location.”

Shaw, Rich AT&T

AT&T’s Rich Shaw

Rich Shaw, AT&T Business’ vice president of voice and collaboration, said the pandemic only accelerated an already extant trend.

“Businesses need the tools to activate their workforce from anywhere to compete, grow and even survive in today’s environment. AT&T [email protected] Wireless gives them a communications tool providing a powerful way to adapt to shifts on the playing field,” Shaw said.

Homayoun Razavi works as RingCentral’s senior vice president of global service providers. He said RingCentral and AT&T are giving employees flexibility for whatever location and device they desire for their work environment.

RingCentral’s Homayoun Razavi

“Combining [email protected] with AT&T’s 5G network delivers blazing speed, high bandwidth with low latency, and the enhanced security needed for mobile communications,” Razavi said.

AT&T Business last month made new 5G fixed wireless routers available for businesses. The company announced last summer that its 5G coverage map had expanded beyond 200 million people.

In addition, AT&T Partner Solutions tapped two new vice presidents.

Apr 08

Updated Bitdefender Partner Advantage Network Provides New Revenue Opportunities

By | Managed Services News

The major update to the Bitdefender program is the new incumbency program.

Bitdefender just enhanced its Partner Advantage Network (PAN) to increase revenue opportunities and make it easier for partners to work with the company.

The new Bitdefender Partner Advantage Network allows partners to sell the company’s solutions and services for threat prevention, detection and response.

In 2020, Bitdefender grew its active channel partner count by 21%. It also increased channel-driven billings significantly year over year.

Andrada Georgescu is Bitdefender’s worldwide partner program development manager.

Bitdefender's Andrada Georgescu

Bitdefender’s Andrada Georgescu

“In collaborating with more than 20,000 resellers worldwide, one of our credentials is to ensure partners’ growth, and that working with us is simple and straightforward,” she said. “In keeping our promise, we are constantly updating the PAN program and portal to offer an improved partner experience and reward partners that invest their time and effort in us.”

The program offers multiple levels with increasing benefits as partners conduct more business with Bitdefender. The program also enables partners based on their specialization in products and/or services.

Incumbency Program

The major update to the Bitdefender Partner Advantage Network is the new incumbency program, Georgescu said. It rewards partners that invest in strengthening customer relationships and maintaining their renewal of Bitdefender licenses.

“Protection and increased profitability will be guaranteed at renewal in an incumbency scenario,” she said.

Bitdefender also updated a series of tools in the program portal, Georgescu said. Those include the portal dashboard, partner status visibility and improved sales support.

“Likewise, we invested a lot in the enablement program for the channel,” she said.

Bitdefender is constantly updating its e-learning platform with new partner tutorials and content offering an improved training experience.

At the start of the pandemic, Bitdefender asked partners to share their opinions, Georgescu said.

“We also used this survey to learn how we can better serve our customers and channel partners overall,” she said. “Following their feedback, we designed the reselling channel program’s 2021 expansion.”

Mathias Schick is head of solution and practice management security at Bechtle Logistik & Service.

“With Bitdefender, we have a strong and reliable partner to protect our customers from constantly evolving threats,” he said. “In addition to innovative security technologies, it is excellent support that characterizes our strategic cooperation that optimally supports us in continuously maintaining and expanding business relationships.”

Apr 08

Lookout Partners Get New Global Channel Program with Simplified Partner Levels

By | Managed Services News

The new program offers two partner tiers instead of three.

Lookout partners now have access to a new global partner program. It comes on the heels of the company’s CipherCloud acquisition.

Lookout developed the program based on partner feedback. It aims to accelerate partners’ ability to sell the company’s integrated platform, which secures an organization’s data path from endpoint to cloud.

Lookout and CipherCloud partners will benefit from the integrated Lookout security platform. Lookout acquired CipherCloud last month.

Greater Access to Lookout SASE

Gert-Jan Schenk is Lookout’s chief revenue officer.

Lookout's Gert-Jan Schenk

Lookout’s Gert-Jan Schenk

“As most of us continue to work remotely, organizations need to secure their data regardless of where their employees are working, what device they use, or how they’re connecting to apps and data,” he said. “With our recent acquisition of CipherCloud, we wanted to ensure that Lookout is equipped to secure organizations at the endpoint, in the cloud and everywhere in between. By launching this new global channel program, we’re ensuring that even more organizations have access to the Lookout secure access service edge (SASE) solution, which includes mobile endpoint security (MES), zero-trust network access (ZTNA) and cloud access security broker (CASB).”

Lookout first launched its channel program in 2015. It now has a much broader partner base with an evolved, highly competitive skill set, Schenk said.

“Our partners asked us to find new ways to help them differentiate themselves,” he said. “In the past, we had three tiers. But to better recognize and celebrate partners who have shown industry expertise and a proven track record … we’ve simplified our previous channel partner levels to two levels — elite and select. Channel partners will be eligible for benefits that help elevate their value and differentiation in the market to increase profitability.”

Lookout has refreshed the partner portal and will launch the Lookout Partner Academy training and certification platform later this spring.

Elite Partner Benefits

Elite partners get larger discounts on registered deals and marketing development funds (MDF). Moreover, they get additional revenue streams from consulting and professional services.

They also get access to insights and findings from the Lookout Threat Intelligence team, technical and sales training, and more.

“The new program also gives our partners more opportunities to bundle in their services to differentiate and better serve their customers,” Schenk said.

Marco Gocht is CEO of ISEC7, an elite Lookout partner.

“Lookout is the first to deliver integrated endpoint-to-cloud security,” he said. “Its platform features are incredibly valuable to our customers and complement our in-depth cybersecurity services. Together, ISEC7 and Lookout will provide a wide range of security options for customers in the private and public sector markets.”

Apr 08

Pre-COVID-19 Days Are Over for MSPs, Says IDC

By | Managed Services News

Strengthening relationships with vendors will be critical to avoid channel conflict, the research firm says.

The MSP market will never return to its pre-COVID-19 ways of doing of business. That’s according to Stuart Wilson, research director, European partnering ecosystems, IDC.

“The most important point is to accept we are never going back to how things were pre-COVID-19,” he said.

The economic situation – and the competitive MSP landscape – will encourage customers to renegotiate prices, Wilson said. MSPs will see customers asking for new, more favorable contract conditions.

“The challenge for MSPs is to demonstrate they offer solutions that deliver business value to customers,” he said.

Wilson said customers will require technology that works across remote and hybrid working scenarios or back to the office.

IDC's Stuart Wilson

IDC’s Stuart Wilson

“During 2021, customers will evaluate the strength of the quick fixes they put in place during 2020.” They need to “identify areas where they need to improve or strengthen their technology,” he said.

“Partners – including MSPs – benefitted from a surge in demand in 2020 as customers were forced to react quickly. Specific verticals such as public sector saw increased spending,” Wilson added.

But Wilson said we will only start to see the wider fallout of COVID-19 as government-backed furlough schemes end. This is when the true economic impact on businesses is revealed.

“Partners need to understand how this affects their customer base,” he said.

The analyst also confirmed that talent and skills shortages remain a major challenge for MSPs. This is especially true in areas such as cloud and security expertise.

Untapped Opportunities

Many partners performed well in 2020, helping customers adapt to new ways of working, and digitize their businesses. But now in 2021 there are new opportunities on which partners can capitalize, said Wilson.

Wilson said there is “a huge untapped customer base” of SMBs not utilizing managed services.

“MSPs must differentiate their offering, but that represents both an opportunity and a challenge. The differentiation can come from specialized IP. Customers want MSP partners that can help them be more competitive by offering tailored solutions,” he said.

MSPs offering collaboration, security, and cloud managed services are benefitting from increased customer demand, he said. The provision of managed security services has become more important as threats increase and customers grapple with a highly distributed workforce.

“The MSPs that do particularly well are the ones that are able to fully maximize their resources,” he said. “This means creating business models that are scalable and repeatable, and using shared resources to drive greater efficiency. It’s also a case of knowing where to play and where to partner to bring new capabilities into [the] business. Maximizing your resources means maximizing your use of all available resources – both internal and external – to achieve that.”

Vendor-MSP Relationship

To help MSPs, vendors need to streamline their programs to keep the administrative burden as low as possible,” he said. “The focus must be on accelerating new service creation, enabling differentiation and accelerating speed to market alongside a clear profit opportunity.”

He also said vendors need to create a level playing field for MSPs. This is to ensure the total cost of ownership (TCO) for the customer aligns between different purchasing models. This means making sure there is no conflict with direct or traditional enterprise-focused commercial sales.

“The vendor-MSP relationship becomes more important moving forward,” said Wilson. “It is the vendor and MSP partner working in unison that optimizes customer experience and customer satisfaction. This is vital in terms of maximizing renewals and customer retention, which creates the win-win scenario for both vendor and MSP.

“Strategic MSPs will become an extension of the vendors they represent. But there needs to be mutual trust, mutual benefits, a strategic alignment and clear vision for the development of the relationship.”

Apr 08

‘Everybody Was Surprised’: 6 Partners React to Rodney Clark Becoming Microsoft’s New Channel Chief

By | Managed Services News

Clark replaced Gavriella Schuster, who was very popular in Microsoft’s partner community.

Partners were caught off guard last week when Rodney Clark replaced Gavriella Schuster as Microsoft’s global channel chief. Schuster was the face of Microsoft’s partner organization for five years, and the unexpected change surprised many partners.

“Everybody was surprised,” said Titu Sarder, president and CEO of MReady 365, a Microsoft Dynamics partner.

Sarder spoke with numerous International Association of Microsoft Channel Partners (IAMCP) members after the news broke.

“Among the people that I spoke to, everybody was shocked,” Sarder added. “It was unexpected because [Microsoft] Inspire [partner conference] preparations are going on. And now, obviously, we have to rebuild this trust structure with a new channel chief.”

Indeed, partners who felt they had an ally in Schuster now wonder what to expect from Clark. In a comment on Schuster’s LinkedIn post announcing the transition, Clark indicated partner growth is his key priority.

“I couldn’t be more excited to take on this new role and continue my passion for driving growth, innovation and success with our partners, and contribute to the next evolution of growth,” Clark noted.

Still, many partners said they know little about Clark. Partners who do know him believe he is well-suited for the job. Among them is Joseph Landes, who worked at Microsoft for 23 years and is now channel chief at Nerdio. Landes said he has known Clark since joining Microsoft in the late 1990s.

“I think he’s going to do super well with the partner ecosystem,” Landes said. “They’re really going to like him. He is going to bring a lot of innovative thinking, just as he brought to his previous role when he was corporate VP of IoT.”

A Longer-than-Average Run

After the initial surprise, many said that five years is a long run for a channel chief. The average tenure is 4.2 years, according to Forrester Research analyst Jay McBain. Nevertheless, as channel chief, Schuster was very popular among the company’s partners.

Microsoft's Gavriella Schuster

Microsoft’s Gavriella Schuster

In addition to his longstanding ties with Clark, Landes said he also has worked closely with Schuster.

“Gavriella is an extraordinary human being,” Landes said. “I think she is not only a great businesswoman, but she really cares much more than the average person would recognize. Her investment of time in super-important diversity and inclusion topics – especially women in technology, women in cloud – is something I know she’s incredibly passionate about. And she has a lot more to give than she probably had time for doing this role.”

Many partners and colleagues shared their thoughts about the arrival of Clark and departure of Schuster as Microsoft channel chief. See what various partners had to say in the slideshow above.

 

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