Category Archives for "Managed Services News"

Apr 24

Apple’s New iPhone SE Now Available With Atypically Low $399 Price

By | Managed Services News

It lacks the iPhone 11’s size and camera, but has its A13 Bionic chip.

Apple’s new iPhone SE is welcome news to customers who need an upgrade but don’t have the budget for an iPhone 11.

The iPhone SE, available beginning today from Apple or through the channel, starts at $399.

While Apple’s new iPhone SE is smaller and more basic than its most recent iPhones, it is a formidable upgrade of the original 2016 version. That iPhone SE only had a 4-inch display and started with a meager 16GB of storage. The new iPhone SE comes with 64GB with options for 128GB for $449 or $256GB priced at $549.

The new iPhone SE’s display is slightly bigger at 4.7 inches. That’s still small by today’s standards where phones typically have displays of nearly 6 inches or more.

Considering the atypically low price for a new iPhone, Apple appears to be offering a reasonable value for those with modest needs. It should appeal to those who balk at upgrading their phones until the battery can’t hold a charge or other performance issues arise. With more people working at home, businesses may also want a lower-cost option to outfit employees with phones for those who need them.

Despite its lower price, the new iPhone SE comes with Apple’s A13 Bionic processor, the same generation that powers the high-end iPhone 11. By comparison, the older iPhone SE had an Apple A9 processor.

Besides the fact that it is considerably smaller than the iPhone 11, the new iPhone SE only has a single rear camera. The iPhone 11 has 3 cameras.

The new iPhone SE has the same form factor as the iPhone 8 including the home button that uses its Touch ID fingerprint-based authentication.

“Whether it is the iPhone 6, the iPhone 7 or the iPhone 8, users have been accustomed to that size as well as features like the home button,” according to a post by Carolina Milanesi, a principal analyst at Creative Strategies. “It would be fair to characterize this user base as a more pragmatic one, that puts value on core features that have a long-lasting impact on their experience.”

For those who prefer Android or are looking to switch to it, Samsung earlier this month rolled out several lower cost alternatives to its Galaxy S20 and S10 lines. The new Galaxy S51, also priced at $399, has a 6.5-inch Super AMOLED display and 128GB of storage, expandable to 512GB though the microSD slot. A lower-end version of that phone, the A21, offers 32GB of storage, costs $249. For those with minimal requirements, Samsung also added the A11, priced at $179 and the A01 for $109.

Apr 24

Dice Report: Early Look at COVID-19 Impact on Tech Hiring

By | Managed Services News

Companies are scrapping projects in favor of ensuring security and stability for remote employees.

Dice, the online technology recruiter, this week presented re-evaluated business hiring plans data for Q1 in light of the COVID-19 impact on the economy. It looks like impact of COVID-19 on the tech sector is less severe than in other industries. That said, although hiring is up in many technology occupations, it is negatively impacting many in-demand occupations while driving up others.

For example, job postings for tech jobs such as software developers and network engineers were down, -8% and -3% respectively. That decline is from February to March. The demand for cybersecurity engineers, systems engineers and systems administrators were up, 20%, 11% and 7%, respectively for the same two-month period.

Dice attributes the job postings decline to deprioritization of new development projects. Companies are shifting focus to stability and adoption of more employees having to work from home. At the same time, the company attributes the increased job postings for cybersecurity engineers, systems engineers and systems administrators to the need to ensure security for remote employees and maintaining core platforms.

Looking at the report data for top tech occupations in 2019, software developer, network engineer and systems engineer, ranked #1, #2, and #3, respectively. Systems administrator ranked #9 and cybersecurity engineer, #10.

In the first quarter, the impact of the coronavirus on tech job postings saw significant increases compared to Q1 2019. That’s among both established and emerging technology hubs. Data for April is showing signs of softening but not significantly, according to the company.

Dice focuses its Q1 2020 Tech Job Report on job posting volume to highlight the early effects of the coronavirus outbreak on the tech industry by location, role and skill. It looks at both macro and micro levels.

Looking at hiring by location, cities and states, 2019 data suggests the growth in emerging innovation centers and technology corridors in cities across the country. The fastest growing states – Florida (26%), Ohio (25%), California (23%), New York (15%) and Alabama (15%).

For Q1 2020, four of the top tech hubs saw a reduction in job postings in March compared to February. The four cities – Boston (-6%),; Columbus, Ohio (-5%); Atlanta (-4%), and New York (-1%).

On the flip side, cities such as Raleigh, North Carolina, San Diego and and Arlington, Virginia. saw increases, 28%, 23%, and 20%, respectively.

The report also looks at hiring at some big name vendors, such as Amazon, Cisco and Walmart, to name a few. Hiring at these companies was up 110%, 71% and 64%, respectively. Amazon was looking for software developers and network engineers. Walmart was looking to primarily fill software developer and project manager roles.

DHI Group's Art Zeile

DHI Group’s Art Zeile

Dice also this week announced that it will offer thought leadership on remote hiring during the pandemic through the Dice COVID-19 Jobs Resource Center.

“We’re pleased to be able to share Dice’s COVID-19 Jobs Resource Center with the larger tech community. Dice’s deep knowledge and critical understanding of changing trends in technology careers puts us in a unique position to share proprietary data and timely content that allows us all to manage through the pandemic,” said Art Zeile, CEO of DHI Group Inc., parent company of Dice.

 

 

Apr 24

Your Tech Checklist for Setting up a Remote Workforce

By | Managed Services News

Whether you’re an MSP with a remote workforce or you’re helping clients work from home, you have to take certain measures to ensure a successful transition to remote work.

Whether you’re an MSP with a remote workforce or you’re helping a number of clients work from home, you have to take certain measures to ensure a successful transition to a remote work. Security, communication and connectivity are just a few of the technical aspects you’ll have to evaluate to develop your transition strategy.

At Datto, when the global health crisis became apparent, a decision was made early on to start testing more work-from-home scenarios. We wanted to be sure that we could protect our employees by enabling them to work from home, support our partners and keep the business going even if we all had to work remotely. When the time came to have everyone work from home we had to transition quickly, but we were ready. The steps I outline below helped us make the switch to a remote workforce successfully. I hope these tactics will help you, the MSP, ensure your business and your clients’ businesses have a seamless technical transition, as well.

  1. Audit your tech stack: Evaluate the technology you have for your own team and the technology that you offer to your clients. What do you have that would be helpful to work-from-home teams and enable their success? What might be missing that you’ll need to add to support this new way of working?
  2. Consider capacity planning: Audit the technology that different departments need. What is in place, and what does the company need to ensure people can work from home? General connectivity, communication sets and technology sets are all pieces of this puzzle. Look at your VPN capacity, as well as your licensing for videoconferencing and other technologies that are essential to keeping the business up and running. In addition, evaluate backups for those technologies should you need them. You need the right software capacity and bandwidth to make working from home possible.
  3. Test if you have time: We realize that for some the order to work from home came so quickly that testing was not possible. However, for those that have not yet had an order to reduce the number of people in the office or to close the office, take this time to do some work-from-home tests. See what’s possible so when the time comes you can make sure teams can easily work from home.
  4. Communication with customers is key: The following aspects of our communication plan have been essential in our success while working from home.

    1. Intranet
    2. Instant messaging
    3. Video conferencing
    4. Email

Whether you use an intranet site, email, internal instant messaging tools, or even text chains, keep all employees updated during the transition. We use a combination of media to continue to provide updates and communication as we go. Instant messaging platforms are also extremely useful for

Apr 24

Atera and Acronis Have Joined Forces for Cyber Backup

By | Managed Services News

The new partnership will allow MSPs to simply and seamlessly ensure their customers’ data stays safe.

Atera just announced an integration with Acronis to enable MSPs and IT professionals to provide hardcore cyber backup to protect their customers’ data. With COVID-19 disrupting nearly every aspect of business, it is vital, now more than ever, for MSPs to ensure their clients’ data is protected. RMM vulnerabilities especially can be devastating for providers.

Atera's Tal Dagan

Atera’s Tal Dagan

“This new partnership will enable MSPs and IT professionals to easily deploy Acronis Cyber Backup into their Atera solution,” said Tal Dagan, vice president of product at Atera. “Especially during these challenging times, there are so many ransomware attacks and bad actors trying to steal data and hack into systems. With this integration, MSPs will be able to keep their data, applications, and systems safe.”

Dagan also emphasized that lost data leads to costly downtime, customer dissatisfaction, regulatory fines, and lost revenue.

“We need to work harder than ever to protect businesses from cyberattacks and human errors. Acronis and Atera are working to save time and money while scaling your IT efforts for your clients,” Dagan added.

According to ESG, 60% of organizations experienced a ransomware attack in 2019. There is a cyberattack every 39 seconds. This is terrifying data, guys. These rapid attacks put businesses at major risk of losing important data and being otherwise compromised. The integration with Acronis enables MSPs and IT professionals addresses this, putting keeping clients’ infrastructure and data completely secure at the tip top of the importance heap.  

Atera’s integration with Acronis offers MSPs and IT professionals the following benefits: 

  • Ransomware protection
  • Data integrity 
  • Instant RTO 
  • Simple workflow and centralized management 
  • Save on licensing, education, and daily operations 
Apr 24

MSSP SaalexIT Expands Territory, Capabilities with Valeo Networks Buy

By | Managed Services News

The acquisition will combine the two MSPs in SaalexIT’s Southwest region.

Saalex Information Technology (SaalexIT), a California-based MSSP, is expanding its service area through the acquisition of Arizona-based MSP Valeo Networks.

The acquisition will combine the two MSPs in SaalexIT’s Southwest region, including California, Arizona and New Mexico, among other states. Financial terms of the deal weren’t released.

The Valeo Networks brand will continue to operate as DBA SaalexIT and maintain its Arizona headquarters.

SaalexIT's Travis Mack

SaalexIT’s Travis Mack

SaalexIT is a division of Saalex. Travis Mack is Saalex’s president and CEO.

“Saalex has continuously been identifying MSSPs for acquisition to address future growth areas and a changing business environment,” he tells Channel Partners. “Valeo happen to fit our M&A profile, which made for an easy fit.”

Celebrating its 20th anniversary, SaalexIT is an experienced player in the managed services industry, Mack said.

The Valeo Networks acquisition will give SaalexIT a competitive advantage, he said.

“For one, they have strong automation tools, which are critical for scale and quality customer service, [and] cyber hygiene,” Mack said. “And two, they have solid engineering resources in the areas of cybersecurity and cloud computing – two areas of focus for us, which will enable new business service opportunities. Lastly, our footprint – or our customer coverage areas, now span from Santa Barbara to San Diego, and east to Arizona and New Mexico – a formidable MSSP footprint in the Southwest region.”

SaalexIT and Valeo Networks weren’t competitive rivals, he said.

“Through automation and new engineering resources, SaalexIT will have a very significant geographic service area in multiple new markets, and have the tools, people and processes to really ramp up our business regionally, which includes a nice customer base that the Valeo Networks team has from California to New Mexico,” Mack said.

Valeo Networks’ services include backup and disaster recovery, cloud solutions, network security, server virtualization, vendor management, network monitoring and more.

“We’re very excited to be a part of the Saalex IT team, and share our expertise in automation and engineering, to create a formidable regional MSP, and expand our customer and brand footprint,” said Matthew Hodson, Valeo Networks’ CEO. “We think that by combining our teams we can greatly enhance our ability to scale and grow into a top-tier MSP in the Southwest.”

Apr 24

SBA Data Breach Exposes Small Business Disaster Loan Applicants

By | Managed Services News

MSSPs need to guard their small business clientele from “identity data abuse cascading to deeper economic injury risk.”

A recent Small Business Administration (SBA) data breach exposed sensitive information from an estimated 8,000 businesses that had applied for a loan. Those affected are businesses that applied or received Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL).

While EIDL was expanded by the CARES Act, it is separate from the larger Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) that recently passed to help small businesses over the coronavirus pandemic-induced challenges.

However, security professionals are warning that small businesses remain vigilant in assessing any possible damages from the breach, regardless of their loan status with the SBA.

Tripwire's Tim Erlin

Tripwire’s Tim Erlin

“Initial disclosures of these kinds of breaches are often filled with qualifiers like ‘may’ and ‘might have included.’ It’s difficult for an affected party to really understand what the impact will be,” said Tim Erlin, vice president of product management and strategy at cybersecurity firm Tripwire.

MSSPs can help their small and midsized customers with damage assessments directly or by distributing DIY advice on what steps to take now.

KnowBe4's James McQuiggan

KnowBe4’s James McQuiggan

“The small organizations that were impacted by the data leak want to be vigilant and have credit monitoring on their accounts and social security number,” said James McQuiggan, security awareness advocate at KnowBe4.

While the risks to small businesses have yet to be determined, some think they may be relatively small.

Comparitech's Paul Bischoff

Comparitech’s Paul Bischoff

“Although this breach could have been very serious had it fallen into the wrong hands, at this time it seems no malicious parties accessed the data. We still need to know more details, but if the breach occurred nearly a month ago, then it would have probably surfaced by now had it been stolen. Small businesses should hope for the best but prepare for the worst. That includes identity theft and phishing,” said Paul Bischoff, privacy advocate with Comparitech.

The need for speed is likely behind the sloppy security surrounding SBA disaster loan programs.

comforte AG's Mark Bower

comforte AG’s Mark Bower

“It’s clear that prioritizing services to save vulnerable small businesses in a pandemic is a priority, but this exposure begs more questions about application data handling risk. Have best practices like data-centric security been traded-off to launch quickly, leading to further exposure and attack down the line?” said Mark Bower, senior vice president at comforte AG.

“The last thing these businesses need is their identity data abuse cascading to deeper economic injury risk. Attackers are smart, following the money, and the path of least resistance. Affected businesses really need to be watchful for social engineering attacks which follow identity exposures leading to more sinister IT compromises and financial theft,” Bower added.

Even so, government agency breaches are growing to an appalling number and risks overall are growing too — especially when you consider these exposures collectively.

“Government developed and deployed systems are subject to the same risks, and perhaps more, than commercial enterprises. While any breach is unfortunate, it is especially painful when the government exposes the personal data of citizens,” Erlin said.

For the moment, repairing the harm takes priority over finger-pointing.

“There is likely plenty of blame to go around for an incident like this, but the focus should be on how trust can be restored, and affected victims can be protected,” Erline said.

Apr 24

Can Autonomous Mobile Robots Ease Supply Chain Backlogs?

By | Managed Services News

Fetch Robotics and Zebra partner to accelerate warehouse automation.

The COVID-19 pandemic is poised to accelerate adoption of autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) to ease supply chain backlogs.

Even before the coronavirus pandemic shut down the global economy, leading companies that distribute large amounts of goods were deploying, or evaluating, AMRs such as DHL and Ryder. UPS yesterday announced that it has begun deploying AMRs in some of its facilities to consolidate orders.

UPS's Philippe Gilbert

UPS’s Philippe Gilbert

UPS wants to “create more custom and turnkey outsourced fulfillment services to meet our customers’ unique supply chain needs,” according to a statement from Philippe Gilbert, UPS’s president of supply chain solutions.

IDC's Remy Glaisner

IDC’s Remy Glaisner

The weak link in warehouse automation efforts is the shortage of people to fulfill the steady rise in e-commerce transactions. The shift to e-commerce has changed the way goods are distributed. COVID-19 has now exacerbated that, which has generated more attention on AMRs, said analyst Remy Glaisner, IDC’s research director covering robotics and drones.

“I would say the COVID-19 outbreak resulted in a considerable increase in inquiries from business leaders who are wondering how the deployment of modern AMR systems can help them ensure the availability of essential goods where and when they are needed,” Remy said. “Supply chains are heavily disrupted, to say the least, so business and technology executives’ critical endeavor turns into ensuring they can reallocate capacities on the fly to meet sudden local and tactical surges that are practically unpredictable.”

COVID-19 will also boost use of mobile robotics for disinfecting, monitoring and surveillance, lifting the market to $23 billion next year, according to ABI Research. Analyst Rian Whitton sees COVID-19 helping deal with increased e-commerce activity to provide more automation in warehouses, as well as distribution and fulfilment centers.

ABI Research's Rian Whitton

ABI’s Rian Whitton

“The pandemic is going to have far-reaching consequences for the next five to 10 years, with a big focus on building more resilient supply chains,” Whitton said. “Though there will be an attempt to revert to business as usual, more local supply chains for key equipment will be prioritized and extended to durable goods. In order to facilitate further diversification of the manufacturing supply chain, there will have to be a lot more robots.”

Among those who offer autonomous mobile robots for warehouse automation and order fulfilment are Fetch Robotics, Geek+, Locus Robotics and Vecna Robotics.

Fetch Robotics' Barry Phillips

Fetch Robotics’ Barry Phillips

Since the COVID-19 crisis emerged, Fetch Robotics fielded an estimated 64% increase in inquires for its AMRs, according to CMO Barry Phillips. “If you can have a robot move material instead of having a human move it, that just means that human is going to be much more productive,” Phillips said.

Fetch Robotics, among the early movers with a broad portfolio of different robot options, has a cloud-managed solution. It has ARMs that handle data collection as well as materials transport.

Zebra Technologies, best known for its industrial mobile scanners, hand-held and tablet computers, and other edge devices, is also making moves into robotics. A year ago, Zebra revealed it has taken stakes in Plus One Robotics and Locus Robotics, through its venture investment business.

In December, Zebra launched FulfillmentEdge, a solution designed to extend warehouse management systems (WMSs) from providers such as Blue Yonder (formerly JDA), HighJump Software and Manhattan Associates. Fulfillment Edge provides real-time workflows to and routes orders to mobile workers and robots for picking, sorting and packing.

Last month, Zebra announced a partnership with Fetch Robotics. Zebra this week held a webinar to discuss the partnership with Fetch and the opportunity it sees for robots to play a role in the supply chain.

Specifically, Fetch Robotics has integrated Zebra’s FulfilmentEdge with its various autonomous mobile robots. Zebra claims fulfilment Edge with Fetch Robotics AMRs will help edge to perform more accurate fulfilment and more efficient workflows and remove manual processes. While Zebra’s FulfillmentEdge provides warehouse optimization by syncing with WMSs and other backend systems, it also connects with select hardware from the company. Notably, Zebra launched its new HD4000 head-mounted display, that gives industrial workers real-time views tied to workflows for order processing, repair and use in production

Asked why Fetch Robotics opted to partner with Zebra rather than build its own WMS optimization software, Phillips said, “We decided that is not something we were going to do. There will be WMS…

Apr 23

Red Hat Enterprise Linux 8.2 Gets Intelligent Monitoring Capabilities

By | Managed Services News

Channel partners get more features and options to help their customers use the enterprise Linux operating system.

Red Hat Enterprise Linux 8.2 will soon be available to users, incorporating a wide range of improvements and new features. The latest RHEL release incorporates additional container tools, deeper IT security functions and broad new intelligent management and monitoring capabilities.

The new release also includes improved visibility into IT security and compliance by eliminating manual actions. Also included are new policies and patch services to better define and monitor internal policies.

New enhancements are also being added to the Red Hat Universal Base Image in the latest version. They include OpenJDK and .NET 3.0 for expanded developer choice in building Red Hat certification-ready cloud-native applications. Improved access to source code associated with a given image through a single command is also now featured. That makes it easier for Red Hat partners to meet source code requirements for open source licensing needs.

Other performance improvements include updated resource management with Control Groups v2, which helps limit memory usage. Also provided are improved capabilities for optimizing performance-sensitive workloads through non-uniform memory access (NUMA) and sub-NUMA service policies.

The latest Performance Co-Pilot (PCP) 5.0.2 adds new metrics tools, including new collection agents for Microsoft SQL Server 2019. The tools collect and analyze SQL Server-related metrics, providing a clearer picture for database and operating system tuning.

Also included is a Red Hat subscription watch software-as-a-service tool, which makes it easier to view and manage cloud subscriptions. The tool lets users eye Red Hat Enterprise Linux and Red Hat OpenShift Container Platform subscriptions across hybrid cloud infrastructure.

For organizations that want to build containers inside of containers for additional isolation and security, there are new options. Containerized versions of Skopeo and Buildah are available in Tech Preview for users who want to experiment with these options.

And for increased security for containerized workloads, also included is Udica, a tool that creates customized, container-centric SELinux security policies. When applied to a workload, Udica reduces the possibility that a process can “break out” of a container and cause problems across other containers or to the host itself.

Red Hat Enterprise Linux 8.2 will soon be available through Red Hat’s customer portal, though no date has been designated.

Red Hat's Scott McBrien

Red Hat’s Scott McBrien

“The new capabilities of RHEL 8.2 help our partners be proactive in keeping their build systems and their customer systems up-to-date, thanks to Red Hat Insights,” Scott McBrien, principal technical marketing manager for the product, told Channel Futures. “The container advancements, along with the enhancements to the Red Hat Universal Base Image, make it easier to create cloud-native applications and services that are certification-ready on RHEL, opening up a massive customer base and ecosystem to their solutions.”

For partners and customers, Red Hat Enterprise Linux 8.2 forms the backbone of the company’s entire hybrid cloud portfolio, he said. “Advancements in RHEL help drive additional capabilities in Red Hat OpenStack Platform, Red Hat Virtualization, Red Hat OpenShift and more – as RHEL expands, so to do the rest of our products, potentially opening up additional streams of value for our partners.”

IDC's Larry Carvalho

IDC’s Larry Carvalho

Larry Carvalho, an analyst with IDC, said the improvements will help customers better manage their Linux deployments. “Customers strive for automating IT, and monitoring is essential to identify and take corrective action before issues lead to downtime,” he said. “The RHEL 8.2 announcement combines insights with monitoring and makes the job of IT operations simpler in managing large and complex environments that are necessary to meet evolving business needs.”

By removing complexity when running containerized workloads, Red Hat Enterprise Linux 8.2 can dramatically help users, said Carvalho. And the company’s acquisition in 2019 by IBM can further help IBM’s customers as well, he added.

“IBM customers get the benefit of simultaneously running legacy workloads, transforming solutions and building new applications with the Red Hat OpenShift container platform,” said Carvalho. “This offers a clear path for architects leading enterprise transformation to adopt new cloud technologies.”

Open Source Sense's William Weinberg

Open Source Sense’s William Weinberg

Another analyst, William Weinberg of Open Source Sense, said the insights improvements in RHEL 8.2 are particularly notable. By doing so, it gives IT departments access to operational management and security capabilities to improve visibility and reduce risk. “These same attributes are also a boon to channel partners, especially MSPs and MSSPs), serving the mid-market. Leveraging Red Hat Insights has potential to simplify service provider operations, scale more easily across customer fleets, and improve efficiency and reduce overhead.”

RHEL 8.2 also gives channel partners opportunities to bolster their security offerings around compliance and vulnerability analytics, said Weinberg.

Apr 23

EnGenius Continues to Enhance Its Elite Partner Program

By | Managed Services News

Partners in the EnGenius’ Elite Partner Program drive at least 80% of company revenue.

EnGenius Technologies is a company long known for its line of managed and unmanaged wireless network solutions for small and medium-size businesses (SMBs). With the 2019 launch of EnGenius Cloud, the company broadened the path for its future. To make sure partners are on the same path, EnGenius continues to beef up its Elite Partner Program.

The serverless EnGenius Cloud uses AI to manage wireless networks for SMBs and enterprises. Last week, the company introduced three new features for the EnGenius cloud-based network management platform.

EnGenius's Amanda Blasnick

EnGenius’s Amanda Blasnick

EnGenius top channel executive Amanda Blasnick met with Channel Futures to update us on the company’s Elite Partner Program as well as partner opportunities. Blasnick joined EnGenius in 2016. She is the company’s channel marketing manager and is responsible for messaging, branding, putting together the partner program, resources and execution. Prior to joining EnGenius, Blasnick worked for more than five years at Ingram Micro.

Channel Futures: Who are EnGenius channel partners and how much business goes through the channel?

Amanda Blasnick: We have about 4,500 partners in North America. These partners are primarily VARs, MSPs, system integrators and installers. A partner for us is not someone with an e-commerce store on their website. We want the VAR who is adding value to the solution. That’s where partners get the added benefits from our program as well.

Partners drive at least 80% of the company’s revenue. We do have some business that takes place on the Amazon e-commerce site. But as a company we’re a B2B company.  Having that channel team, that channel connection that’s what our business thrives on. That’s where our focus is and that’s where we make our investments.

At the end of the day, Amazon is actually a competitor to our channel partners. So, we put as much focus as possible on the channel, exclusively.

CF: EnGenius targets the SMB market?

AB: The reason I say that we target the SMB is because our products could be used in enterprises in some cases but in a saturated market it’s good to have a defined market. It helps us tailor our messaging and content to support and drive the specific need from SMBs. When we talk about SMB, we’re saying that we have enterprise-class features that [partners’] customers may be asking for that Cisco brings to market. However, our solution overall — and we don’t lead with cost — our solution happens to be one of the more affordable solutions in the channel.

We not only offer hardware that is comparable to enterprise-level products, but we also offer the software and support. Our management software license is free. Partners can charge for services, adding more to their bottom line. We’re not taking that money.

While SMB is our target market and where our partners sell today, we’re also moving into the markets like hospitality, hotels, multidevelopment units and assisted living, and we have a strong outdoor solution for campgrounds and marinas, and large venues like stadiums. As we’ve expanded to cloud — that was the one thing missing from our portfolio until last year.

Once we brought that cloud solution to market, it enhanced the partner opportunity and the resources we provide to them. We’re slowly expanding to meet that midmarket and lower-tier enterprise market. We’re going to give the larger more well-known networking vendors a run for their money in the next few years. We’re a primary manufacturer so we have a direct line of sight to our engineers to make changes customer want.

[Senao Networks is EnGenius’ parent company. Senao is a Taiwanese manufacturer of data networking and telephony products marketing under the EnGenius and Senao brands.]

CF: Tell us about the partner program that you inherited when you joined EnGenius and how it’s changed.

AB: I inherited a program when I joined the company. And we saw areas where it needed improvement. I changed the program to adhere to meeting the new needs in the market. Then we continued to add more benefits and enhancements.

The old program was the Empower Partner Program. The new program is the Elite Partner Program. I changed the name but also program elements like support, the approach…

Apr 23

IBM Business Partners Weigh in on COVID-19 Relief Plan

By | Managed Services News

IBM business partners get immediate business support and enablement to grow tomorrow.

IBM business partners and executive channel leadership at IBM are in synch about a robust COVID-19 relief plan introduced this week. The latest pandemic response measures address the partner program, competencies, cloud and AI, and new go-to-market models.

IBM’s initial COVID-19 commitment to partners rolled out in March. A digital resource page, introduced at the time, continues to be updated.

IBM's David La Rose

IBM’s David La Rose

“How we constructed this is an important part of the discussion. We have global advisory councils, one that we updated the team on yesterday morning – North America and Europe, and Asia Pacific countries – Japan, China, and the rest of Asia in the evening,” David La Rose, general manager, partner ecosystem, told Channel Partners. “We’re hearing about partner priorities and how we’re responding. It’s a two-way street. We’re looking for feedback and dialogue about, are we doing enough and what can we press more on.”

Coming just a few weeks ahead of IBM Think 2020 – now Think Digital – scheduled for May5-6, La Rose talks about the four categories the vendor is addressing.

The first area is programs, terms and how to help stabilize the partner’s business, quickly.

IBM is extending the IBM PartnerWorld Program revalidation and certification grace period from May 5, 2020 to January 1, 2021. Partners are guaranteed that they will remain at their program tier level for the remainder of the year.

“The gates that we had for May and July have been lifted. Partners will maintain their current status,” said La Rose.

  • The use of eligible partners’ co-marketing funds is been extended.
  • IBM has added millions of dollars into the incentive portfolio for distributors and specialty partners in markets, worldwide.
  • IBM extended flexible financing options for IBM Power and IBM Storage solutions to partners and clients through IBM Global Financing.
  • The company also increased Q2 performance incentives for Power and Storage partners.

The second bucket of measure addresses developing competencies.

“Partners are telling us that they don’t have all the skills needed for today and tomorrow. And, North America is not immune to this,” said La Rose. “So, what we’re doing this year is increase the number of assets that we have and the capabilities that we have digitally. That’s around enablement, selling skills, providing visual selling activities, offering webinars on technical support, even to the extent that we’re doing proof of concepts in a virtual environment.”

Here is how IBM is addressing the area of competencies.

  • Think Digital offers partners tracks and is free.
  • Enablement webinars are available.
  • Access to key virtual selling tools are available to help partners shift from in-person selling to remote digital selling.
  • Resources to help plan/prospect and progress leads are available. There’s also information for partners on how to run a digital workshop with the Digital Technical Engagement team.

The third area of new measures address how to harness IBM’s cloud and AI portfolio. The company launched a 90-day software offerings and trials at no cost for cloud and cognitive software, for example.

“We’ve opened this up across the majority of our software portfolio. It allows the partners to act quickly, integrate that into a proposal to clients, get them online, get them to try something, it has technical capabilities built-in,” said La Rose.

From a hardware perspective, IBM put together a set of focused solutions for IBM Power, IBM Security, IBM Storage, IBM Z and LinuxONE. “There are also extended flexible financing options for [partners’] clients.”

Other new measures in this bucket:

  • IBM’s Skills for Deals program for security, valid through April 30th, lets partners follow technical skills development programs at no cost.
  • Ongoing Seismic updates.

The fourth area addressed by IBM today is enabling partners to run their own digital demand. IBM launched IBM MyDigital Marketing in February. Today there are about 1,800 partners on the platform.

“If you’re a new partner and you haven’t tried it yet, if you give this thing a shot, we’ll give you a $2,000 credit,” said La Rose.

More specifically, the My Digital Marketing promotion helps partners build and execute…

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