Category Archives for "Managed Services News"

Jul 17

Google Cloud, VMware Cloud Hit Ground Running After COVID-Slowed Q2

By | Managed Services News

MSPs, especially, have a lot of new ways to help customers navigate ongoing uncertainty.

After a second quarter slowed by COVID-19 shutdowns, Google Cloud and VMware Cloud led the market this week with major updates for the channel. The third quarter promises to hold more such activity in store for partners compared to the previous three months, despite the ongoing pandemic. Like everyone else, cloud vendors spent much of the second quarter adjusting to the new nature of business. And the show must go on.

Thus, while many of the product releases showcased this week were in development even before COVID, they are prescient. They offer managed service providers, VARs and other partners the ability to help customers better navigate ongoing uncertainty, and support remote work, which no longer looks like just a temporary option.

Google Cloud’s Goal: ‘Emerging Strongly from the Pandemic’

Over at Google Cloud, MSPs and other partners kicked off Tuesday with the first in a series of digital events over the next nine weeks. Google Cloud had to mothball its annual in-person Google Cloud Next event, then also canceled the intended web replacement, because of COVID. Yet even as the coronavirus proves its tenacity, business must continue. And that means adapting to change.

Sundar Pichai is CEO of Google and Alphabet.

Google's Sundar Pichai

Google’s Sundar Pichai

“It’s clear we are returning to a world much different than the one we left,” said Pichai.

That said, he added, it still is too early to understand the exact nature of all the shifts. However, Google and Google Cloud have spotted three key trends that look to last long-term, Pichai said. They are:

  • The future of work will be more digital. Partners can expect to help customers increase their cloud investment.
  • The future of work will be more collaborative. Companies will spend more money to create a sense of virtual community among their employees.
  • The future of work will be more flexible. COVID-fueled work-from-home has shown employers what many staff already knew: Employees can be productive from anywhere, often at any time. “You don’t have to be at your desk to get work done,” Pichai said.

Each of those components will fuel reliance on the cloud, Pinchai said. For partners, that spells opportunity. And Google Cloud unveiled a slate of new capabilities and platforms to help them meet the demand.

Google Cloud's Thomas Kurian

Google Cloud’s Thomas Kurian

“We’re helping organizations reimagine their missions as they re-emerge from the pandemic,” said Thomas Kurian, CEO of Google Cloud.

To that point, check out what Google Cloud debuted on Tuesday:

BigQuery Omni for Multicloud Analytics Powered by Anthos

MSPs are expressing excitement about this one. Miles Ward, CTO at SADA, Google Cloud’s 2019 global reseller partner, called the product “a game changer” for enterprises. Plus, he told Channel Futures, the addition of BigQuery Omni sends “a clear signal about where Anthos is headed: GCP-based solutions everywhere.”

Sumeet Singh, who heads up technology at Maven Wave, Google Cloud’s 2019 services partner of the year, agreed.

“Anthos’ far-reaching vision is starting to take shape,” he told Channel Futures. “Google’s innovation in platform services is now becoming available anywhere and everywhere. The ability to run BigQuery on other clouds and in our data centers is going to radically open up new possibilities.”

Brad Foster, who leads the apps and data group at Maven Wave, made a similar observation.

“Bringing the power of BigQuery to where data resides shows that Google is …

Jul 16

Azure Stack, AWS Outposts Poised to Impact Colocation

By | Managed Services News

Unlike past versions, new hybrid-cloud frameworks are easier to deploy and do away with the “cloud-vs.-colo” dichotomy.

Since the dawn of the cloud era in the mid-2000s, the colocation industry has generally thought of itself as an alternative to the public cloud. “Cloud vs. colo” is a dichotomy to which most have become accustomed.

Cloud Data Center

Hybrid cloud and colocation don’t have to be an either/or proposition.

That thinking made sense for most of the past two decades, when public cloud providers and colocation data centers were indeed in stiff competition. Over the past several years, however, things have changed. The largest public cloud providers have rolled out a new generation of hybrid cloud solutions that make it easy for customers to access public cloud services while housing their workloads in their own or a colocation data center.

This article by Christopher Tozzi originally posted on Channel Futures’ sister site, Data Center Knowledge.

Here’s a look at what these hybrid cloud services entail and what they mean for the future of colocation.

Cloud vs. Colo: The Traditional Choice

It’s easy to understand why the public cloud and colocation were traditionally portrayed as an either/or proposition.

If you chose to run workloads in the public cloud, you got access to a range of different services. You could spin up those services almost instantaneously. What you lost, however, was the privacy and control that come with hosting workloads in a colocation data center. Customers there had greater ability to choose which hardware they use and how it is configured; also, how it is isolated from other organizations’ resources.

On the other hand, colocation providers couldn’t offer the flexibility or broad range of services of public cloud providers. They specialized only in infrastructure.

For much of the 2010s, it seemed that the public cloud proved to be the more appealing option for many companies, which increasingly migrated to the public cloud. Although they didn’t always stay there – some moved back to colocation – it would nonetheless be hard to argue that the colocation industry enjoyed as much momentum over the past decade as did public cloud computing. If nothing else, revenue data shows that the public cloud has grown more quickly than colocation.

Modern Hybrid Cloud Meets Colocation

Somewhat ironically, public cloud vendors’ efforts in recent years to grow their own market share even further changed the landscape. Today, thanks to new hybrid cloud frameworks that public cloud companies themselves have introduced, it has become quite feasible to take advantage of public cloud services while keeping workloads inside a colocation center.

Chief among those frameworks are:

  • Azure Stack, which lets customers deploy services from the Microsoft Azure cloud on their own hardware. Azure Arc, a newer service that remains in development, will do the same thing in an even more flexible way.
  • AWS Outposts, a framework for running services from the AWS cloud on private hardware.
  • Anthos, a Kubernetes-based platform from Google that makes it possible to build a consistent deployment and management layer for applications deployed across multiple clouds or data centers.

Each of these hybrid cloud offerings has its limitations, especially when used to extend public cloud services into a colocation facility. Azure Stack only works with certified hardware, which colocation providers might not offer. (Azure Arc, which is not subject to this limitation, might prove more useful in colocation centers for this reason.) AWS Outposts is even more restrictive; it requires customers to use AWS’ own hardware, although Amazon says it is compatible with colocation scenarios. Google Anthos works with any hardware, but its major caveat is that …

Jul 16

ConnectWise Automate Flaws Potential Threat to MSPs, Customers

By | Managed Services News

On-premises ConnectWise Automate customers could still be in danger if they haven’t yet patched.

An MSP has discovered two critical vulnerabilities in ConnectWise Automate that posed threats to MSPs and their customers if successfully exploited by hackers.

On-premises ConnectWise Automate customers could still be in danger if they haven’t yet patched.

According to ConnectWise’s latest security bulletins, a vulnerability exists in a ConnectWise Automate API that could potentially allow a remote user to make modifications within an individual Automate instance. Each time a program runs, it is an instance of that program.

In addition, a vulnerability exists in an Automate API that could potentially allow a remote user to execute arbitrary tasks, such as update data on a database, or retrieve data from a database, against an individual Automate instance.

Both vulnerabilities affect on-premises and cloud-based versions of the product.

Potential Impact

Jason Slagle, vice president of technology at CNWR, a Toledo, Ohio,-based MSP, discovered the flaws.

CNWR's Jason Slagle

CNWR’s Jason Slagle

“The discovery was made by doing a review of the server side Automate code,” he said. “They are different from the vulnerabilities discovered last month; however, those vulnerabilities are what caused me to review.”

Utilizing the two vulnerabilities, full control of any computer in the Automate instance is possible, Slagle said. If the Automate server manages itself, it could also be compromised, he said.

“Exploited successfully, admin access can be granted to the Automate instance,” he said. “ConnectWise has done a good job at remediating the issues I sent them. They also remediated several other places in the code that were somewhat suspect after I had a call with them. I’m confident and have tested that the fixes in place resolve the issues I sent them.”

That said, partners who have not patched are very much at risk, Slagle said.

“As best as I’ve been able to work out, there is no workaround for the vulnerability,” he said. “One of the reasons I’m not releasing much information on the authentication bypass is the risk to unpatched partners. As MSPs, we’re trusted by our partners to manage their systems, and if we’re not paying attention to our own things, that’s a shame. ConnectWise has had an active campaign to work with partners to upgrade and have even offered a free patch to 2019.12 for partners who don’t even have support.”

Remediation Work

Tom Greco is ConnectWise‘s director of information security. He said after Slagle disclosed the vulnerabilities, they began working together on remediation.

ConnectWise's Tom Greco

ConnectWise’s Tom Greco

“And in under a week, we were able to develop the patches fully deployed to our cloud and send targeted communications urging on-premises partners to implement the patches as well,” he said. “Because this is responsibly disclosed, there’s no indication of any exploitation of these issues. But nonetheless, we took the pace as if there was because we always put the security of our partners as the top priority in all the decisions we make when we do remediation and communication on those remediations.”

ConnectWise can monitor the number of partners that have adopted the patches, Greco said. And that data gauges whether one needs to take additional action.

“We address these issues as quickly as possible,” he said. “We get the patches and the fixes out to our customers. We work with them directly to make sure that they’re safe, and then we time our disclosures in our bulletins such that they pose the least amount of risk to our partners.”

Companies providing remote monitoring and management (RMM) services are viewed as …

Jul 16

Citrix, Microsoft Align to Ensure Successful Rollouts of Windows Virtual Desktops

By | Managed Services News

Partners say the new pact means Microsoft sales reps will stop pitching native WVD.

It turns out that Microsoft needs more help from Citrix than anticipated to ensure successful implementations of Windows virtual desktops.

Citrix and Microsoft on Wednesday said they have again expanded their longstanding partnership dating back to the 1990s. This pact comes just over a year after they aligned on desktop as a service (DaaS) and endpoint management. Announced at last year’s Citrix Synergy conference in Atlanta, the companies described it as an extensive partnership. It centered around the then-pending launch of Windows Virtual Desktop (WVD), Microsoft’s ambitious cloud VD-DaaS service.

Both companies now look to ensure quicker and more successful rollouts of their respective DaaS offerings.

The latest pact is a tacit acknowledgment that Microsoft’s Windows Virtual Desktop (WVD) and Citrix Workspace are better together. Some maintain Citrix Workspace or other desktop-as-a-service (DaaS) offerings are necessary to achieve the benefits of WVD.

Neither company is positioning this week’s announcement in those terms. But that’s how partners that have worked with both offerings see it. When asked, Citrix new SVP and worldwide channel chief Bronwyn Hastings said the partnership is about offering customers choice.

Citrix's Bronwyn Hastings

Citrix’s Bronwyn Hastings

“I would say that the value of Citrix’s workspaces has really been realized or elevated,” Hastings told Channel Futures. “That’s because it allows for those environments to [be in their] optimal positions.”

Native WVD Efforts Stuck at the Gate

Leading into last year’s launch of Microsoft’s WVD, company officials in public presentations frequently touted connectivity with numerous third-party solutions. But according to partners, some Microsoft sales reps have told customers that they could deploy virtual desktops with WVD alone.

“Microsoft reps were more than happy to tell you that WVD was enough and you didn’t need Citrix,” said Paul Stransel, director of Presidio’s national EUC practice.

Stransel hopes this signals a change.

“To me, what this new partnership is saying, is Citrix is committing hard to Microsoft Azure. And Microsoft, in return, will commit to not trying to convert those customers to just a straight WVD implementation.”

Many pilots in which customers tried to deploy WVD as the sole digital workspace never got out of the gate — at least not as native WVD implementations. For example, XenTegra, a managed services provider and a Microsoft and Citrix partner, has done 20 WVD pilots this year. Pete Downing, XenTegra’s chief technology and marketing officer, said customers with Citrix infrastructure needed to pair WVD with Citrix Workspace.

Among the 20 WVD implementations XenTegra deployed, 80% enhanced it with Citrix Workspace, according to Downing.

XenTegra's Pete Downing

XenTegra’s Pete Downing

“If you look at Microsoft’s remote Windows desktop client, it’s way behind Citrix’s Workspace,” Downing said. ‘Yes, WVD does apps and it can do desktops. But it doesn’t provide an integrated look and feel for SaaS, web and on-prem web apps. It doesn’t do any of the workspace workflows that Citrix is pitching through their microapps.”

Even those without Citrix infrastructure required a solution to enhance WVD, Downing said. Such customers can also use Citrix Workspace, or alternatives such as VMware Horizon or various other cloud desktop service providers. Downing is in a position to know. XenTegra was Citrix’s U.S. partner of the year in 2019 and gives workshops on DaaS and WVD.

Coretek Services, another large Citrix and Microsoft partner, also found native WVD wasn’t suited to replace Citrix. Coretek conducted a significant number of Microsoft’s WVD “Lighthouse” and “Remote Workforce” implementations this year, fast-tracked when COVID struck. They included both Citrix and native WVD deployments.

“The need of Citrix HDX quickly become a core requirement when compared with native WVD and the capabilities of the current RDS client and protocol,” said Coretek CTO Brian Barnes.

The Value of Windows Virtual Desktops

Nevertheless, partners haven’t soured on WVD, despite the early deployment issues. XenTegra’s Downing insisted that Microsoft’s WVD, successfully implemented, is …

Jul 15

Date Set to Reveal 2020 MSP 501 Winners

By | Managed Services News

It’s that time again! Join Channel Futures on July 28 for the reveal of the 2020 MSP 501 winners.

The time to announce the 2020 MSP 501 winners is nigh! Channel Futures will officially release its annual MSP 501 list, which ranks the top 501 managed service providers in the world, on Tuesday, July 28. Senior content director Kris Blackmon and Ingram Micro’s Eric Kohl will reveal the 2020 MSP 501 winners via a special webcast at 2 p.m. ET.

Kris and Eric will discuss the findings from the annual MSP 501 survey. They’ll also talk about the 501er Community initiatives and reveal the MSP 501 Class of 2020.

The List

MSP 501 Winner Reveal BannerThe MSP 501 is the world’s first, largest and most comprehensive survey and ranking list in the IT channel. Every year, partners around the world throw their hats in the ring for a chance to be named an MSP 501er. The data collected in the survey process fuels Channel Futures’ editorial coverage, event programming and thought leadership. 

2020 has been a year of tossing rulebooks out the window. Shops everywhere have had to shift and adjust their strategies. Because of the coronavirus pandemic and the subsequent economic turmoil, partners have been pulled in hundreds of different directions. 

As a result, many 501 hopefuls reached out to us asking for an extension to submit the 2020 MSP 501 application. In keeping with our commitment to help our partner community, we extended the application deadline by a full month, an unprecedented move. This allowed a bit more wiggle room for those hoping to apply.

The Report

The full MSP 501 report will be available this fall. It will leverage applicant responses, interviews and historical data to identify business and technology trends in the IT channel. The data that we glean from the report also allows us to produce a wide range of market intelligence reports to help partners benchmark their practices and gain data-driven insights into business best practices.

Award Package

This year’s MSP 501 honorees will receive an award package that includes the MSP 501 winners logo; a press release template to announce the win; suggested social media posts; and a Q&A form that winners can return to the MSP 501 editorial team. Since conducting marketing and sales business face-to-face is (largely) out of the question, efforts to “stand out” have taken on a whole new slant. Recognizing this, we wanted to help support our MSP 501 winners in their local geographies. Therefore, we will also provide winners with individual state logos and rankings. 

So, tune in to the webcast to see if you made the 2020 list!; or, if you didn’t apply, why you should submit next year to be part of the 501er Community. We will honor the class of 2020 at our virtual MSP 501 Awards and Gala, part of Channel Partners Virtual, Sept. 8-10.

Jul 15

Acronis Partners Get Access to DeviceLock via Acquisition

By | Managed Services News

DeviceLock will become a wholly owned subsidiary of Acronis.

Acronis has acquired DeviceLock, giving Acronis partners access to DeviceLock’s endpoint device/port control and data leak prevention software.

DeviceLock’s software is for enterprises and government institutions globally. The company will become a wholly owned subsidiary of Acronis.

Acronis' Gaidar Magdanurov

Acronis’ Gaidar Magdanurov

Gaidar Magdanurov is Acronis‘ chief cyber officer and COO. He said partners can add DeviceLock as an additional product to the projects they’re selling to all customers.

“The customers buying cyber protection solutions are privacy-conscious, and DeviceLock is a synergetic upsell opportunity for partners,” he said. “After DeviceLock is fully integrated with Acronis Cyber Cloud, service providers working with Acronis will be able to enable the functionality for all of their customers.”

DeviceLock data loss prevention (DLP) protects 4 million computers in more than 5,000 organizations globally. Its customers are in banking and finance, medical, pharmaceutical, government and defense, manufacturing and retail.

DeviceLock products and services protect data from serious insider threats caused by employees, contractors or visitors.

New Capabilities

Acronis’ partners are now able to offer their customers a complete cyber protection suite as well as data loss prevention capabilities available from one vendor,” Magdanurov said. “When the technology integration is completed, DeviceLock functionality will be available from a single cyber protection agent. And customers buying the solution now will have an easy upgrade path to the integrated solution.”

DeviceLock’s services allow MSPs and service providers to better manage their clients’ data protection needs. Acronis plans to continue enhancing its cyber protection offerings, and adding capabilities that partners and customers request.

The acquisition also gives DeviceLock’s partners access to Acronis’ complete cyber protection solution and provides upsell opportunities, Magdanurov said.

“The technology, partner programs and ecosystem will be integrated,” he said. “And DeviceLock will become one of the capabilities of Acronis Cyber Protection. The integration started as soon as the deal closed and we expect the first phase of the integration to be complete by the end of 2020.”

“By merging with Acronis, we can accelerate product innovation, expand our distribution channel and leverage our existing technology to meet customer requirements,” said Ashot Oganesyan, DeviceLock‘s CTO and founder. “We are certain that this acquisition will protect millions more users, and ensure secure and reliable data protection deployments worldwide.”

Jul 15

Counterfeit Cisco Switches Investigation Finds Security Posture Weakened

By | Managed Services News

Recommendation: Buy from authorized Cisco partners.

An investigation into counterfeit Cisco switches, done by F-Secure, found a mechanism to bypass authentication measures but no other major security risks, the security company announced Wednesday.

The F-Secure report – The Fake Cisco, Hunting for backdoors in counterfeit Cisco devices – examines a pair of counterfeit Cisco network switches. The report of failing network switches was from an IT company last fall.

F-Secure's Dmitry Janushkevich

F-Secure’s Dmitry Janushkevich

“We found that the counterfeits were built to bypass authentication measures, but we didn’t find evidence suggesting the units posed any other risks,” said Dmitry Janushkevich, a senior consultant with F-Secure Consulting’s hardware security team, and lead author of the report. “The counterfeiters’ motives were likely limited to making money by selling the devices. But we see motivated attackers use the same kind of approach to stealthily back-door companies, which is why it’s important to thoroughly check any modified hardware.”

The IT [user] company uncovered a problem when a software upgrade of Cisco Catalyst 2960-X series switches failed. This is a common outcome of forged/modified hardware to new software. The IT [user] company unknowingly bought suspected counterfeit Cisco equipment. They didn’t discover it until they requested a replacement unit.

The hardware failure led to a broader investigation and the F-Secure Hardware Security team was called in. The objective of the investigation was to determine the security implications.

F-Secure in Pursuit

One research goal was to verify that no extra functionality such as “backdoor access” was introduced. Another was to understand how and why counterfeit devices bypass the platform’s authentication security control.

“Ultimately, we concluded, with a reasonable level of confidence, that no backdoors had been introduced. Furthermore, we identified the full exploit chain that allowed one of the forged products to function: a previously undocumented vulnerability in a security component which allowed the device’s Secure Boot restrictions to be bypassed,” the report authors stated.

The report notes that the counterfeits were physically and operationally similar to an authentic Cisco switch. That’s why users don’t know there’s a problem, until odd behavior surfaces. This suggests that the counterfeiters either invested heavily in replicating Cisco’s original design or had access to proprietary engineering documentation to help them create a convincing copy.

According to F-Secure Consulting’s head of hardware security, Andrea Barisani, organizations face considerable security challenges in trying to mitigate the security implications of sophisticated counterfeits such as the those analyzed in the report.

F-Secure has the following advice to help organizations prevent themselves from using counterfeit devices.

  • Source all your devices from authorized resellers.
  • Have clear internal processes and policies that govern procurement processes.
  • Ensure all devices run the latest available software that vendors provide.
  • Make note of physical differences between different units of the same product, no matter how subtle they may be.

Cisco Brand Protection

Cisco brand protection efforts include working with law enforcement and government to combat crime and protect consumers.

Cisco's Oliver Tuszik

Cisco’s Oliver Tuszik

At Cisco Partner Summit 2019, global channel chief Oliver Tuszik talked about counterfeit and gray market products.

Cisco’s Oliver Tuszik is part of Channel Partners/Channel Futures’ 2020 Top Gun 51. The Top Gun 51 recognizes today’s channel executives who build and execute channel programs in a way that drives partner, customer and supplier success. See the full list.

“We take this very seriously. Ninety-nine [point] nine percent of partners play by the rules. They compete but they stick to the rules. We will continue to go after those people [who don’t]” he said.

Cisco has a brand protection team that talks to customers about the risk of buying fake Cisco products.

Jul 15

StorCentric’s Nexsan Division Adds 2 Unity Unified Storage Systems

By | Managed Services News

The new third-generation devices provide a host of updates from the company’s previous Unity data storage models.

StorCentric just added two new enterprise-class Unity unified storage devices to its lineup from its Nexsan data storage division.

The third-generation Unity 3300 and 7900 models offer hybrid and all-flash storage arrays featuring high availability, better performance and larger capacities. The latest devices offer up to a 50% performance increase over the second generation of the Unity product family.

The second-generation Unity lineup included three models, Surya Varanasi, CTO of StorCentric, told Channel Futures. The new lineup now has just two models to cut product SKUs and simplify the offerings for partners, he said.

Faster speeds and more capabilities are the major benefits of the new Unity devices, said Varanasi.

StorCentric's Surya Varanasi

StorCentric’s Surya Varanasi

“We’ve done a lot of tuning and get more performance,” he said.

Capacities can now scale up to 10PB for users.


In addition, the latest Unity unified storage devices are officially certified for use as Veeam-Ready Repository v10 devices. Previously, you could use them with Veeam but they didn’t carry its official certification, he said.

A big plus is that Nexsan Unity customers can also now move their stored data to the cloud on demand. The previous device versions did not offer that capability, said Varanasi. The company added this feature after hearing feedback from customers.

“It was just a matter of other priorities in the past,” as the product was evolving, he said.

Unity products also include StorCentric’s Assureon unbreakable backup services, which provide data protection from malware and hacks. The data is stored on Assureon, which is a locked-down application running on an appliance in a customer’s data center. StorCentric hosts Assureon, which can restore data if someone compromises a customer account.

Previously the Assureon services were only included in Unity purchases by hospitals, health care facilities and other regulatory, compliance-focused industries.

Unity supports applications ranging from backup, virtualization and databases, to file sharing, video editing and more.

Unity unified storage includes a cloud connector module that allows the devices to connect to 18 public cloud offerings. They include Amazon S3 and Google cloud storage.

The new Unity 3300 and 7900 devices are available immediately.

Positive Partner Reaction

Doug Cole, president of LH Computer Services, a Nexsan reseller, said the new unified storage devices broaden his product offerings.

LH Computer Services' Doug Cole

LH Computer Services’ Doug Cole

“This third-generation Unity platform provides increased capacity and performance,” said Cole. “It also provides additional solutions such as unbreakable backup and add-on data migration and cloud connector modules. The unbreakable backup provides a solution for ransomware attacks, which has been a concern for our customers recently. This eliminates that risk.”

Overall, the improvements broaden the products he can offer to his customers, said Cole.

“I’ve been a Nexsan partner for 17 years and depend on them to deliver reliable products,” he said. “I am excited to bring this new Unity platform to my customers.”

Marc Staimer, principal analyst with Dragon Slayer Consulting, called the latest Unity unified storage devices a positive upgrade.

“I see it as an evolutionary upgrade to what they’ve done,” said Staimer. “It’s a better product than the old one, but it doesn’t include huge changes.”

The biggest upgrade is that Nexsan doesn’t charge customers to migrate their data to the cloud, he said. Competitors like Dell EMC charge customers to move their data, he said.

“It makes it more cost-effective if you are putting some or all of your data in the cloud,” said Staimer.

Nexsan has always provided good margins for channel partners, he said.

“They are good at supporting the channel and they don’t conflict with the channel, added Staimer.

StorCentric acquired Nexsan a year ago to broaden its unified storage products. StorCentric, a technology holding company, made a series of acquisitions in 2019 to round out its portfolio. It also acquired NVMe flash storage vendor Vexata, backup software vendor Retrospect and storage vendor Drobo.

Jul 15

HP Debuts Remote Work Solutions for the New Normal

By | Managed Services News

A new suite of offers enable partners to deliver integrated, services-based print solutions.

HP on Wednesday introduced HP Remote Work Solutions. The new offer equips HP Amplify partners with solutions to help business customers thrive in the “new normal” work environment. The announcement was made in conjunction with the unveiling of HP Amplify, the company’s new, unified global partner program.

HP Remote Work Solutions think about the “new normal” in three ways. The suite of offers enable partners to deliver integrated services-based print solutions.

HP's David Prezzano

HP’s David Prezzano

“The HP Remote Work Solutions will help our partners stay current with all the trends that are happening right now, as a result of COVID-19,” Dave Prezzano, global head, print services and solutions at HP said in a news briefing. “Some companies are returning to the office, some people are working in a hybrid fashion — in the office and at home, and some people are dedicated to working from home. We want our Amplify partners to stay current with these trends.”

Breaking It Down

  • For remote fleet managers, HP Advance is a new modular-based enterprise output management system. It allows customers to manage an entire fleet of HP and non-HP devices from a single web-based console. That’s for both Windows print and non-Windows print.
  • The new and upgraded HP Command Center is a single tool for HP partners to deploy and manage cloud applications for their customers. It also enables fleet onboarding.
  • The HP Workpath ecosystem enables workers to connect to cloud-based platforms directly from the multifunction printer (MFP). Introduced last October, HP Workpath enables the creation of workflow apps for an HP MFP. Today, there are more than 100 apps in the ecosystem, and thousands deployed. HP also announced a revenue sharing model for HP Workpath, for developers and resellers selling Workpath apps. Partners can access a broader range of apps by having the order and payment process transacted through the HP Command Center.

Office and WFH

To enable office workers, HP offers touch-free printing, HP Roam and HP Secure Print. HP is giving customers a 90-day free trial for features that help minimize contact with printers. HP’s touch-free printing enables workers to release a print job with their phone or the tap of their badge without having to touch the control panel.

The company also is expanding HP Roam to LaserJet Pro devices, simplifying print on the go from a mobile device to any HP Roam-enabled computer. HP Roam targets SMBs.

The company enhanced HP Secure Print, a cloud-native solution that releases documents only to authorized users. It now supports all network types, including traditional networks behind a firewall as well as serverless print environments.

And, for work-from-home employees, HP offers Instant Ink a subscription-based service that automatically detects when a customer runs low and needs more. The service automatically mails new cartridges to the user.

The New Normal

The global pandemic has disrupted how work gets done. At the same time, it has accelerated digital transformation efforts. That’s according to HP Insights research released in May. More than two in three (69%) medium and enterprise businesses said they will digitize workflows post COVID-19. Another 70% agree that a more distributed workforce raises security risks and processes. And 73% agree that their printing strategy needs to change.

“What we’re seeing now is a second wave of proactive planning. That’s where companies say, ‘Now I see this new normal where employees, work and information is more distributed. How do I plan an approach that makes more sense in that environment?’ I bring this up because it’s a great opportunity for our partners and HP to work together,” said Prezzano.

Print is important to how work gets done, wherever it gets done. In other research – HP’s Power of Print Study – done in June, respondents rallied around print. For example, nine in 10 (90%) agreed that print helps them stay more organized, engaged (90%) and effective (82%). Ninety percent also said that print makes it easier to collaborate.

Jul 15

M&A in the Channel: What Does the Post-COVID World Look Like?

By | Managed Services News

Will merger and acquisition activity in the channel be based on expansion or survival?

The IT channel has long been a hive of activity for mergers and acquisitions (M&A). But as restrictions start to lift, it is worth considering how the post-pandemic M&A landscape will look.

Understandably, we’ve seen cash conservatism during COVID-19, as businesses have retrenched and protected their assets. However, economists and analysts expect the aftermath of the pandemic to result in a surge of M&A. They see deal premiums being reduced and previously unavailable assets coming up for sale as businesses look for external financing.

Boomi's Mike Kiersey

Boomi’s Mike Kiersey

“After a period of quiet, enforced by widespread economic disruption and uncertainty, the M&A market appears to be on the rise,” said Boomi principal technologist Mike Kiersey.

Kiersey believes that since many MSPs are struggling with digital and shifting business patterns, M&A offers a chance of expansion and, for some, survival.

“Many solution providers will be turning to private equity to keep their business afloat, whilst others will be buying to complement and expand their tech stack. Especially with the continued rise of cloud-based solutions needed for the new normal,” he said. “For some, disruption will be an opportunity to tap into the market in a way they have been previously incapable.”

Survival or Seizing Opportunity?

Acquisition has played a major part in the growth of pan-European distributor Exclusive Networks. The strategy has helped the firm expand into new geographies, including North America with the acquisition of VAD Fine Tec. It has also used M&A to increase market share in existing territories and accelerate growth into new markets.

Andy Travers, EVP, worldwide sales and marketing, Exclusive Networks, said COVID-19 hasn’t affected the firm’s M&A strategy.

Sign up for Channel Futures’ new EMEA newsletter, where we feature news and analysis involving companies based in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, as well as those doing business in that region.
Exclusive Networks' Andy Travers

Exclusive Networks’ Andy Travers

“For sure there will be some casualties in the coming months, as more and more companies look for investment to survive. In fact, we’re already seeing an uptick in frequency of acquisition opportunities. But we also see the strong getting stronger, which is why we will continue to take a more long-term strategic view of M&A as opposed to a short-term opportunistic one.”

Jim Lippie, SVP partner development, Kaseya, believes M&A going forward won’t be about survival; rather, it’s about seizing opportunity. He said that private equity firms now see an opportunity to make money after seeing how dependent on technology businesses have been during the pandemic.

“MSPs became the economy’s ‘first responder’ at the outset of COVID-19,” he said. “They clearly demonstrated their value to business customers who never truly appreciated them in the past. With greater industry appreciation comes more growth for the MSPs in a position to capitalize.

Lippie said private equity firms also understand market consolidation.

Kaseya's Jim Lippie

Kaseya’s Jim Lippie

“We will see consolidation in the MSP space, which will lead to a more mature industry with larger and more sophisticated MSPs. In the end, investors and strong MSP operators will benefit from all the buying and selling over the next several years on our way to consolidation.”

The exec said the only MSPs currently in survival mode are the ones who serve vertical markets hit hard by COVID-19 — or those that didn’t have a high enough ratio of recurring revenue in their portfolio to sustain their operations.

“Those are the MSPs who will see lower valuations as they look to be acquired now (4-6x EBITDA). But the larger ‘platform MSPs’ that are already at scale will trade at premium valuations for the foreseeable future (10-14x EBITDA).”


So, what hurdles do MSPs face when it comes to buy or selling a business? And does the unprecedented environment present …