Category Archives for "Managed Services News"

Dec 07

AllCloud, OutSystems Sign ‘Strategic Collaboration’ Deals With AWS

By | Managed Services News

The companies now get a lot more resources. “AWS is committed to the partner ecosystem,” says AllCloud’s Eran Gil.

Amazon Web Services, the world’s largest cloud provider, on Monday announced “strategic collaboration” agreements with two more channel partners: AllCloud and OutSystems.

These contracts supply extended training, marketing and development resources for selling and deploying more AWS platforms. Customer experience management provider Merkle signed a similar deal in October. Orange Business Services and NEC Corp. followed suit in November.

AllCloud will extend its AWS expertise and reach in some key ways. The global managed service provider will aim for new customers in the startup, ISV and enterprise segments. The U.S., Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Israel are the regions it will target. AllCloud operates seven locations around the world.

ISVs and startups especially need partners with experience in domains including big data, analytics, and artificial intelligence and machine learning, AllCloud said. The MSP specializes in cloud migration, SaaS enablement, security and compliance, DevOps, AI/ML, data and analytics.

AllCloud has a long track record with AWS, its sole cloud provider. The partner has held the titles of AWS Premier Consulting Partner and AWS MSP Partner since 2008. The company also has earned six AWS competencies. This latest agreement furthers AllCloud’s depth with AWS and “shows the importance that AWS is placing not only on the partner ecosystem, but also on services companies, especially those beyond [global system integrators],” AllCloud CEO Eran Gil told Channel Futures.

Strategic Collaborations = Accelerated Innovation

AllCloud's Eran Gil

AllCloud’s Eran Gil

“The phrase ‘rising tides floats all boats’ can definitely apply here and the commentary made by Andy Jassy during the partner keynote at re:Invent, where he mentioned SIs specifically, really exhibits this point — that AWS is committed to the partner ecosystem,” Gil added.

Gil said there now are more cloud-native system integrators than other partner types. As one of them, AllCloud now gets to create “further opportunities to accelerate at an even faster pace,” he said.

That calls for bulking up its internal professional and managed services divisions. As such, AllCloud will train and certify more staff on AWS technologies. And as an official AWS training partner, it will hire hundreds of new cloud professionals. (The MSP already announced at last week’s re:Invent that it is part of the new AWS Professional Services Marketplace.)

From there, AllCloud will build more advisory, consulting, integration, migration and managed services to reach large customers. It also is investing more in its “Solutions Factory,” which features production-ready platforms for various industries. And AllCloud said it will double its effort and capabilities around its fast-growing practices in data, analytics and AI/ML.

“These moves clearly show that agreements such as this one, while unique to AllCloud, will have a positive impact on partners around the globe and create new opportunities associated with the demand for collaboration and innovation on AWS,” Gil said.

OutSystems CEO Paulo Rosado agreed.

Outsystems' Paulo Rosado

Outsystems’ Paulo Rosado

“Our relationship with AWS is a foundational component for delivering on our mission to give every organization the power of innovation through software,” he said. “OutSystems Cloud enables our customers to develop their applications faster and easier, while leveraging the advantages of AWS.”

Like AllCloud, OutSystems will use its AWS collaboration to invest in people, technologies and processes. The company will integrate more AWS services into its platform with a focus on DevOps, data and analytics, and AI/ML. OutSystems Cloud also will be available in the AWS Marketplace.

“We will continue to support our customer and developer communities by further investing and optimizing our platform, as this strategic collaboration agreement provides resources and commitment by both companies to stay focused on providing dramatically greater value,” Rosado said.

‘Endless’ Opportunities for Partners

Gil sees such momentum as a testament to the power of dedication.

“For midsize companies like AllCloud, the strategy to build an ‘all in’ AWS practice has resulted in deep expertise across all areas of AWS and allows for further specialization as growth continues,” he said. In addition, given that AWS continues to outpace its competitors, “the opportunities across the partner ecosystem are almost endless.”

To that point, AWS in just the first week of re:Invent debuted more than two dozen services, many of which enable partners.

Expect more to come. AWS retains 33% market share worldwide, according to Synergy Research Group’s latest numbers.

“They will continue to innovate at a record clip, providing plenty of opportunities for partners to continue to grow with AWS,” Gil said.

Dec 07

AppSmart Acquires MicroCorp, Strengthens Convergence Strategy

By | Managed Services News

The acquisition by AppSmart is effective immediately.

AppSmart expands today with the acquisition of master agent MicroCorp, advancing its mission to be a channel-led, one-stop shop for all B2B technology services, the company announced. Details of the transaction were not disclosed.

Privately-owned MicroCorp is the latest company to join AppSmart since December 2018. At that time parent company AppDirect purchased NeoCloud and WTG to form AppSmart. Other acquisitions followed. Telegration, Network Services Group and CNSG were all integrated into AppSmart.

AppSmart's Renee Bergeron

AppSmart’s Renee Bergeron

“MicroCorp is one of the largest master agents in the U.S. joining the AppSmart family. We’re excited about what they bring to the company, including a top-notch team,” said Renee Bergeron, senior vice president and general manager, AppSmart. “There’s cultural alignment and also vision alignment. MicroCorp is a company that’s been investing for years in building innovative, proprietary technology which is a platform that provides self-service for agents. That’s very much in line with what AppSmart is all about.”

Bergeron refers to eeko Hero, the MicroCorp marketplace, launched earlier this year in April.

“When we were approached by AppSmart, we already felt that the wave of how businesses would procure all of their technology would be in a more Amazonesque type way,” said MicroCorp CEO Karin Fields. “The timing [for an AppSmart acquisition] just seemed right. The culture that Nick and Dan have developed with AppSmart and AppDirect is very aligned with our culture. And, where they’re going and where they see the future of how people will be buying is exactly what we believe. We’re ecstatic.”

Nicolas Desmarais and Daniel Saks co-founded AppDirect in 2009. Nicolas Desmariais is chairman and co-CEO and Daniel Saks is president and co-CEO.

Teaming Up

The entire MicroCorp team joins AppSmart, effective immediately. That includes Fields and Phil Keenan, president, who brings experience with resellers, software and infrastructure as well as telecommunications.

AppSmart’s provider portfolio and focus on providing the best advisor experience through automated tools and MicroCorp’s proprietary technology platform, post- acquisition, cements AppSmart as one of the largest telecommunications master agents in the U.S.

However, the AppSmart marketplace is about more than telecom. It offers business services including connectivity, wireless/mobility, software, infrastructure, energy, managed services and devices to a broad range of industry verticals.

“Today businesses want to work with fewer partner who can integrate solutions for them,” said Bergeron. “We’re seeing resellers and MSPs dabble in connectivity. We’re seeing telco agents move into the software space. But the big problem for these partners is the supply chain. It hasn’t evolved. Distribution still focuses on software and infrastructure and master agents focus on connectivity. So, partners who want to work across a broader spectrum of technology have to work with multiple supply chains. That’s the problem we’re trying to solve. We want to be the supply chain for partners regardless of the type of technology the need to provide to their customer – software, infrastructure, connectivity and wireless.”

Partners and Convergence

AppSmart is on the forefront of bringing a converged IT and telecom portfolio to partners. While some partners sell a mix of IT and telecom product, there’s more room for transformation in the channel.

“Channel partners are evolving and have been for a couple of years -shifting from software on-premises to software in the cloud, from infrastructure on-premises to infrastructure in the cloud. The beauty of our environment is that it’s constantly changing, and the next transformation is about expanding beyond the set of solutions they provide today to providing adjacent solutions,” said Bergeron.

What’s ahead for MicroCorp partners?

“This deal supersizes us,” said Fields. “It enables [partners] to offer more products and solutions to their existing customers and to attract new customers. We’ve always been more network-centric and we don’t have a lot of applications that our partners can work with. This [deal] opens up a much richer portfolio where partners can talk to their customers about everything technology.”

She expects that some partners will gravitate to AppSmart easily, others will have a learning curve. And some partners will need time to transition. “But, more of our partner base comes from the MSP, solution provider side of the house versus the traditional partner side of the house,” said Fields.

MicroCorp has actively been recruiting MSPs, technology consultants…

Dec 07

MSP 501 Profile: Ashton Technology Solutions on Avoiding the ‘Race to the Bottom’

By | Managed Services News

Company Name: Ashton Technology Solutions
MSP 501 Rank: 414
Sales & Marketing Manager: Jim Abbott
Headquartered: Beachwood, OH
Primary Services:

  • Managed IT
  • Security solutions
  • Backup and disaster recovery
  • Cloud computing
  • Compliance, audit and diligence
  • Project services
  • Wireless networking

Twitter: @AshtonSolutions

Go to the Ashton Technology Solutions website and you get a quick glimpse into the company’s philosophy. “It’s 2020. It should just work.”

No doubt we all feel that way, but getting that message across to customers is of utmost importance to Ashton.

Ashton provides managed and co-managed IT services, data security, IT project management, strategic consulting and more. Its clients are small and midsize businesses in Cleveland and throughout Northeast Ohio. The company prides itself in taking care of customers. As one testimonial on the Ashton Technology Solutions website reads, “I don’t have to worry about anything … you guys take care of it.”

We asked sales and marketing manager Jim Abbott about COVID-19 business challenges and the company’s growth. We also touched on how Ashton turned a nightmare client into a dream.

Channel Futures: What new opportunities and challenges came with the global COVID-19 pandemic?

Ashton Technology Solutions' Jim Abbott

Ashton Technology Solutions’ Jim Abbott

Jim Abbott: New challenges came at us in the form of marketing, sales, client account management, and of course, operations. From a sales and marketing perspective, we felt the need to walk a very fine line between reminding prospects that we were still alive and still conducting business, while not trying to capitalize on a bad situation. As such, we basically turned off our sales efforts (who wants to be viewed as the ambulance chaser, trying to take advantage of our peers who may have dropped the ball in terms of service?), and focused solely on educational content that we hoped would ease a tough situation.

This was a great opportunity for us to get to the marketing tasks that normally get pushed aside (website updates, increased SEO efforts, and putting out tons of great content). The pandemic also quickly reminded us of the need to keep in touch with our existing clients, making sure that their businesses were running smoothly, technology was doing everything possible to ease the transition to work from home, and that, as humans, they were holding up during rough times.

From an operational perspective, we were excited to face the challenge of a home-based workforce (our own), and tested our capabilities for the week prior to the Ohio lockdown taking effect. Fortunately, our own business continuity preparations made for an easy transition, thereby allowing a similarly easy transition for our client base. Our support desk load increased by 100% over the first two weeks of lockdown, but then tailed off significantly. More importantly, for our entire client base (with a few exceptions in retail and food service), it was business as usual, either at home or in the office. “Days outstanding” actually decreased significantly, as clients paid their bills more quickly, due to our ability to keep their businesses running smoothly. This was indeed a huge opportunity to prove our worth, and we did just that!

CF: What was the single biggest technology or business decision that drove your company’s growth in 2019? How did it do so?

JA: Ironically (considering that this is the MSP 501), our biggest business decision was to begin moving away from the idea of being an MSP. When Ashton was founded in 1994, we were a break-fix organization, and as we moved into the mid 2000’s, we adopted the MSP model. In early 2019, however, we realized that what an “MSP” offers in terms of standard solutions (antivirus, backups, monitoring, patching, help desk) are all table stakes for being in this industry. In Greater Cleveland alone, there are well over 150 businesses that consider themselves managed IT service providers.

The 2020 MSP 501 recognizes the top managed service providers in the world. See the full list. Then check out our brand-new Hot 101.

Many of these providers claim to be the best at what they do (“premier,” “leading,” “No. 1, “and the synonyms go on — just look at their homepages), and for a “consumer” (the business doing the buying), it’s hard for them to differentiate between amateurs and professionals. We have moved our focus to next-generation security solutions (data and network security), as well as compliance and business continuity. We still offer those table stakes necessary to be in this business, but we now differentiate ourselves with solutions that aren’t …

Dec 04

Microsoft Outlines Plans to Fill Key Gaps in Teams Calling

By | Managed Services News

Users will soon be able to place and receive Teams calls with Apple CarPlay.

Microsoft Teams Calling is getting a major facelift that promises to make it more competitive with other UCaaS offerings. A blitz of new features revealed this week will bring an improved app interface and more robust calling features to Teams.

The enhanced Calls app will bring together contacts, call histories, voice messages and the dial pad. Also, iPhone users will soon be able to make and receive calls from vehicles equipped with Apple CarPlay. Microsoft Teams calling will also flag spam, allow users to transfer calls between mobile phones and desktops and call merge. The latter, available for both PSTN and VoIP, lets users bridge together multiple calls.

Microsoft's Nicole Herskowitz

Microsoft’s Nicole Herskowitz

Usage of Microsoft Teams has “skyrocketed” this year, according to Nicole Herskowitz, Microsoft Teams GM. Teams users made more than 650 million calls in October, according to Microsoft. Calling has increased 11-fold since the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic in March. “Speaking with colleagues and customers is more important now than ever,” Herskowitz noted.

Microsoft had announced the enhanced Calls app during its Ignite conference in September, and it is set to roll out this month. Also coming to Teams:

  • Call recordings will be stored in OneDrive and SharePoint rather than Microsoft Stream. Microsoft said this will improve customers’ options for sharing calling content with more storage
  • Apple CarPlay integration will allow users to place or receive calls through their vehicle controls or with Siri
  • Call transfer will let users shift from calls on their desktops to a mobile device or other endpoint
  • Call merge, now available for both PSTN or VoIP calls, allows users to bridge multiple calls into one
  • Data metering will cap data usage or prioritize based on network availability
  • Voice-enabled channels will let a team integrate call queues into a specific channel. For example, help desk teams can share all relevant information about a service ticket during or after a call
  • Contact center integration: Microsoft has created a certification program for contact center solutions with several key players now undergoing certification. Among them are Anywhere365, Competella, ComputerTalk, ContactCenter4All, Enghouse Interactive, Five9, Genesys, Landis Technologies, Luware, Nice InContact, novomind and Tendfor
  • Survivable Branch Appliance (SBA): A new appliance that will go into preview this month will link to certified Session Border Controllers(SBC) vendors. This will provide failover by allowing SBCs to link with the Teams client if it cannot access the Microsoft Teams Calling network
  • Call transfer ring-back: When transferring a call, if the intended recipient does not answer, it will transfer back

Much-Needed Improvements

Unify Square's Scott Gode

Unify Square’s Scott Gode

Customers have sought more robust Teams calling capabilities, according to Scott Gode, chief product marketing officer of Unify Square, a managed service provider and Microsoft Teams partner. “The announcements have generated a lot of questions and enthusiasm from our customers,” Gode said.

While Gartner gave Teams Calling high marks in its 2020 UCaaS “Magic Quadrant” ranking, it included notable caveats. “Microsoft’s telephony capabilities are good enough for many organizations, but not for those that require advanced telephony features,” the report noted. “Furthermore, Microsoft’s availability SLA target of 99.9% is considerably lower than that of most UCaaS competitors.”

Gartner’s report, released last month, also warned that Teams Calling was not suited to customers who require a contact center and telephony on the same platform. “This announcement from Microsoft perhaps wipes away many of those cautions,” Gode said.

Gode said the new support for blending call queues with Teams channels is also a key development. “This combines two worlds that were historically distinct from a workflow standpoint,” he said. “What will be interesting is whether this creates an ecosystem that encroaches into the territory of call center partners, particularly if ISVs begin to add extensible tab applications for telephony enabled Teams.

Unify Square’s larger global customers welcomed the SBA, which will make Teams more resilient. Likewise, “the ability to now store recordings in either OneDrive or SharePoint has also received a lot of praise as a way to help with secure archiving,” he said.

Dec 04

CEE Thunderdome: Sophos vs. Bitdefender on Cybersecurity Services

By | Managed Services News

Worldwide security spending expected to hit over $130 billion in 2022.

Ransomware is the No.1 cyber threat that businesses of all sizes need to worry about, and more emphasis on cybersecurity services is needed.

Bitdefender's Jason Eberhardt

Bitdefender’s Jason Eberhardt

Sophos' Scott Barlow

Sophos’ Scott Barlow

TBI's Bryan Reynolds

TBI’s Bryan Reynolds

That’s according to participants in this week’s Channel Evolution Europe Thunderdome that focused on security. Bryan Reynolds, TBI‘s director of sales operations, was the ringmaster. Scott Barlow, Sophos‘ vice president of global MSP, and Jason Eberhardt, Bitdefender‘s vice president of global cloud and MSP, were the contenders.

“With worldwide security spending expected to hit over $130 billion in 2022, it’s clear that there is a demand for this, which translates to opportunity for you,” Reynolds said. “And given the necessity to ramp up remote work, security is definitely on every business leader’s mind. Or at least it should be.”

Gauging Concern About Cybersecurity

When it comes to worrying about cybersecurity, Barlow said customers generally fit into two categories. Many are either worried about it or focused on it because they want to be more proactive.

“Or they’re not worrying about it until they get hit by a threat or by ransomware,” he said. “What we’re seeing is the threat landscape is just constantly evolving. And ransomware attackers are also evolving with their evasion/detection tactics, techniques and procedures.”

At the end of the day, the end-user is the weakest link in cybersecurity, Barlow said. There are cybersecurity services available to address this.

“Oftentimes you really need to focus on the educational aspects, and doing phishing simulations and educating users on what’s a right password to use,” he said. “So there’s a lot of components to that, but ransomware is probably the No. 1 scenario or the No. 1 concern from a cybersecurity standpoint that end-user customers need to worry about.”

Eberhardt uses the house analogy.

“How many access points does it take you to break into someone’s house: a window, a door, a garage?” he said. “It takes one. Now associate those attack vectors with IP addresses. It only takes one IP address. So when you’re an SMB or a midmarket, it doesn’t matter if you have a lot of intellectual property or a lot of data that they’re trying to get from you. They might just be using you as a conduit to attack someone else. So the attack vector and the attack on the smaller businesses in this global world, right now, is getting higher and higher.”

Bad Guys Getting Better

The bad guys are the ones that are getting better, Eberhardt said. And if “we don’t continue to improve our security, it’s just going to get worse and worse.”

“The other thing that we look at that people need to be aware of is centralizing data,” he said. “When you put yourself up on the public cloud and your data in one location, that’s another attack for everybody to go.”

Ransomware for SMBs and MSPs is really high, Eberhardt said. And MSPs are under attack because they offer a “plethora of accounts or people they can attack by attacking one attack vector.”

MSPs’ security acumen is getting stronger, he said.

“One of the things I hate and I know Scott’s going to feel the same way, is when people say good enough security,” Eberhardt said. “That means not good enough security. Now if you take it down another level to free antivirus, you get what you pay for. People don’t understand that you don’t just move your stuff and you’re secure. You need security awareness training. People are the biggest threat. We have to make sure they’re educated on using your systems.”

No Magic Number

Both Barlow and Eberhardt agreed there’s no “magic number” in terms of how much a business should spend on security.

If you’re a small business dealing with compliance regulations, the amount is going to be significant, Barlow said.

“Is it worth paying $20,000, $300,000 on a ransomware attack?” he said. “The chances of you going out of business is significant. Do you want to put that layered defense in?”

Eberhardt said the question of how much to spend is “a little tricky.”

“What I would say is how sensitive is your data?” he said. “How sensitive is your business? If you spend say $100,000 versus spending $1 million. But what would happen if you had to close your doors? Or what would happen if you got sued because of personally identifiable information (PII) got pushed out? How important is your business and if you want to sleep at night? I think the one place you cut is not security.”

Cybersecurity From a Telco?

Barlow and Eberhardt also were asked how they would react to a customer saying they’ll just get their cybersecurity services from…

Dec 04

IBM: Cybercriminals Could Disrupt COVID-19 Vaccine Supply Chain

By | Managed Services News

The COVID-19 vaccine campaign has the components of a state-sponsored attack.

Cybercriminals are targeting the COVID-19 vaccine supply chain, and if successful they could destroy cargo loads of the life-saving vaccines.

That’s according to IBM Security X-Force’s latest threat research. It discovered a campaign against the COVID-19 vaccine cold chain.

Pfizer and Moderna have announced promising results from their COVID-19 vaccine trials. Therefore, countries are initiating the process of distributing vaccines. However, these vaccines rely on temperature-controlled environments, also known as the cold chain, for distribution.

IBM Security X-Force discovered a targeted operation against the COVID-19 vaccine cold chain that supports the Gavi Alliance and UNICEF’s’ efforts to safely transport a vaccine to underdeveloped regions. Moreover, these regions rely on external aid to store their medicines in temperature-control environments.

The COVID-19 vaccine campaign has the components of a state-sponsored attack.

IBM's Claire Zaboeva

IBM’s Claire Zaboeva

Claire Zaboeva is senior cyber threat analyst with IBM Security X-Force.

“The COVID-19 cold chain represents a new kind of global critical infrastructure,” she said. “If damaged or disrupted, it is possible cargo loads of life-saving vaccines could be destroyed.”

Malicious actors sought to harvest credentials to likely gain illegal access to targeted environments, Zaboeva said. Should they gain presence on the system, they may carry out a multitude of attacks. Those include collecting sensitive or critical information, to even conducting disruptive or destructive attacks.

“The compromise of any of the targeted organizations, which maintain direct ties to multiple national government networks associated with trade and regulation, may serve as a single point of compromise impacting multiple downstream targets,” she said.

According to IBM Security X-Force’s research:

  • Attackers impersonated Haier Biomedical to conduct spear-phishing attacks against global organizations that provide material support to the cold chain. Haier reportedly is the world’s only complete cold chain provider.
  • Attackers targeted global organizations in at least six countries, including the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Taxation and Customs Union, petrochemicals, solar panel companies and more organizations across other industries.
  • Attackers attempted credential harvesting to access sensitive information pertaining to COVID-19 vaccine transport and distribution.

“All security providers worldwide will need to collaborate in defending this emerging infrastructure,” Zaboeva said. “Likewise, at the corporate level, companies need to cultivate a culture of cyber awareness, one that includes an active security posture that has a practiced incident response plan in place.”

Zaboeva offers the following suggestions for targeted organizations:

  • Trust but verify. Now is the time to scrutinize everything from your partners. Pick up the phone and call them to confirm emails or unsolicited attachments are really from them.
  • Limit employee access to sensitive information. Only provide access to those who need it for their roles.
  • Use multifactor authentication (MFA) across your organization. This is an extra layer of defense that stops a bad guy from getting in even if they do succeed in getting your username, email and password.

It’s very possible this is just the start of attacks on the COVID-19 vaccine supply chain as initial distribution nears, Zaboeva said.

“Given global demand for a life-saving vaccine, it is highly likely advanced insight into the secure cold chain transport underpinning the worldwide distribution of vaccines represents a continuing high-value target for both state-sponsored threats and independent cybercriminals,” she said.

RiskIQ: Universities Increasingly Under Attack

Twenty universities globally have been subject to phishing campaigns since July, according to RiskIQ‘s “Shadow Academy” report.

The attacks are similar to the Iranian company Mabna Institute. It illegally gains access to non-Iranian scientific resources through computer intrusions.

RiskIQ has named the actors identified during this research as “Shadow Academy.”

Among the key findings:

  • The credential-harvesting URLs focused mainly on popular services like Amazon, Instagram and online banking.
  • A Louisiana State University (LSU)-themed student portal login page was the first identified target.
  • Library-themed attacks targeted 37%.
  • General access or student portal attacks targeted 63%.
  • Financial aid-themed attacks targeted 11%.

Many college campuses began releasing timelines for traditional on-campus operations in July, RiskIQ said. Research suggests that Shadow Academy actors timed the development of malicious infrastructure to take advantage of back-to-school chaos.

Universities have been a historically lucrative attack landscape for attackers such as Silent Librarian and w4coders. They knowingly take advantage of overwhelmed IT staff during the start of the school year.

Cory Kennedy is a threat researcher for RiskIQ. He said the attackers are typically attempting credential theft.

“Targeting students with Netflix phishing campaigns may…

Dec 04

AWS Partners Flooded with New Capabilities, Opportunities at re:Invent

By | Managed Services News

Channel head Doug Yeum introduced services, competencies and more ways for the channel to team with the cloud provider.

Pictured above: CEO Andy Jassy delivers his keynote to AWS partners at re:Invent 2020.

Amazon Web Services continues to beef up the Amazon Partner Network with more services, capabilities and competencies.

AWS' Doug Yeum

AWS’ Doug Yeum

Doug Yeum, head of Global Partner Organization, spent much of Thursday morning giving ISVs, consultants, SaaS providers and other AWS partners insight into the new launches. And, as appears to be tradition, he sat down with the vendor’s CEO, Andy Jassy, for a conversation about the channel.

At the outset, though, Yeum praised partners for navigating a difficult year punctuated by COVID-19 and the changes it has forced.

“It’s been impressive how so many partners have responded and rose to the challenge when needed,” he said.

Many of those partners understand that speed has been essential, Yeum added. They have moved faster than ever to help customers implement cloud platforms as prompted by the pandemic.

“Having a sense of urgency is important,” he said.

ISVs and SaaS providers really stepped up, Yeum said. This year, perhaps more than in years past, they integrated AWS services into their own platforms. That boosted differentiation and service levels, and made life easier for end users.

“Interoperability and integration are critical,” Yeum said.

To that end, Yeum embarked on a keynote replete with AWS announcements. Of the more than a dozen releases, several stand out.

What AWS Partners Need to Know

First, partners may earn competencies in new areas including mainframe migration, energy, and travel and hospitality. Look for availability to open early next year.

Second, ISVs now may take part in two new programs. The first is AWS ISV Partner Path, which removes APN tier requirements. Any AWS partner with software that runs on or is integrated with AWS may join, starting in January. ISV Partner Path retains ISVs’ eligibility for other AWS programs, even as it removes some barriers to entry.

“We’re moving away from badging a partner as select or advanced using tier requirements and instead we’ll start badging individual solutions from our partners,” Yeum said.

ISVs will gain access to AWS marketing resources, training discounts and the new AWS ISV Accelerate Program. That initiative gives ISVs co-sell support and benefits such as reduced AWS Marketplace listing fees. AWS aims to help partners reach customers already working with AWS.

“We will continue to invest significantly here to continue moving the needle for our ISV partners,” Yeum said.

Meanwhile, Current Technology Partners with software solutions running on or integrated with AWS will be moved into AWS ISV Partner Path as of January. Consulting partners with software components also may join the program without impacting their designations, AWS said.

“We will now be able to support AWS consulting partners who are increasingly going to market with their own solutions,” Yeum said.

Next, AWS is enhancing the AWS Marketplace to accommodate not only third-party software, but also partners’ professional services. That’s a big deal. Customers no longer have to go through separate processes to procure tools and associated help with planning, deployment, and support. The company also released a range of tools, including APIs for Private Marketplace, the AWS Foundational Technical Review Lens, the AWS SaaS Factory Insights Hub and more.

Finally, AWS said it is expanding the benefits within the APN Global Startup Program. Recall that this initiative helps startups become “enterprise ready” by providing increased, proscriptive benefits and more resources. Candidates must have raised Series A or later funding from a top venture capital fund; have an innovative enterprise technology solution running on AWS with at least one product in general availability; and an executive team committed to AWS.

For instance, participants who pass specific reviews may join the aforementioned ISV Accelerate Program. Others – data providers, specifically – may take advantage of new integration and onboarding support for AWS Data Exchange. They’ll have access to $15,000 in AWS credits, co-selling assistance and certain exclusive marketing opportunities. AWS also is making it easier for startups to list on AWS Marketplace.

Digital Transformation ‘An Incredible Opportunity’

AWS's Andy Jassy

AWS’ Andy Jassy

Amazon’s annual Global Partner Summit doesn’t just serve as a platform for new announcements. It also gives the channel chief time to sit down with CEO Jassy to talk about developments and trends. To that end, Jassy told Yeum he sees digital transformation as “the single biggest opportunity” for partners.

“So many enterprises need help and want help in…

Dec 04

Sectigo Acquisitions Expand Presence in Europe, Latin America

By | Managed Services News

Sectigo is expanding its sales reach and support to thousands of additional organizations.

The latest Sectigo acquisitions are two partners that will expand its sales reach in Europe and Latin America.

The Sectigo acquisitions are:

  • SSL247, the biggest secure sockets layer (SSL) certificate and web security provider in the United Kingdom and France.
  • Xolphin, the largest provider of SSL certificates and digital signatures in the Netherlands.

Sectigo is expanding its sales reach, as well as support, for its automated cybersecurity solutions, to thousands of additional organizations.

Comodo CA rebranded to Sectigo in 2018.

Strengthening Sectigo’s Global Channel Market

Sectigo's Michael Fowler

Sectigo’s Michael Fowler

Michael Fowler is president of channels and partners at Sectigo.

“The acquisitions of SSL247 and Xolphin strengthen the global channel market,” he said. “We can now provide additional support, validation, sales and product expertise localized in time zones across the globe, and expand the number of languages spoken to support end customers in their native language.”

In addition, Sectigo partners now have access to the company’s full product portfolio from local providers, Fowler said. That includes SSL certificates, certificate management and the Sectigo Web Security platform.

The acquisitions accelerate Sectigo’s growth trajectory globally following the company’s recent recapitalization by private investment firm GI Partners.

“With an increased sales and onboarding team, Sectigo is now able to provide additional support to help existing and prospective partners get to market more quickly and efficiently to increase the scope of their product portfolio, resulting in additional revenue streams,” Fowler said.

SSL247 and Xolphin

SSL247 is a long-time Sectigo channel partner. It has nearly two decades of experience selling and supporting SSL certificates and other security solutions. And it has customers across 18 countries in Europe and Latin America.

“Joining the global Sectigo organization will enable our team to offer a broader set of resources and solutions to our more than 10,000 satisfied clients, spanning micro businesses to large enterprises,” said Benjamin Tack, commercial director at SSL247.

Xolphin has issued more than 1 million certificates to more than 50,000 customers in Europe. It has an active network of global resellers.

“By combining our expertise and resources with Sectigo’s industry leadership, we are well-positioned to strengthen and expand our digital identity and web security offerings,” said Maarten Bremer, Xolphin’s CTO and owner.

SSL247 and Xolphin will maintain their brands as Sectigo subsidiaries.

Sectigo has made four acquisitions over the past three years. In 2019, it acquired Icon Labs, a security solutions provider for embedded OEMs and IoT device manufacturers. And in 2018, it acquired Codeguard, a provider of website maintenance, backup and disaster recovery.

Dec 04

MSP 501 Profile: Approyo Rides SAP Expertise, Helps During Pandemic

By | Managed Services News

MSP 501 honoree Approyo makes a name for itself by providing full SAP service technology.

Company Name: Approyo
MSP 501 Rank: 404
Founder & CEO: Christopher Carter
Headquartered: Brookfield, WI
Primary Services:

  • SAP consultation
  • SAP hosting
  • SAP monitoring
  • SAP support

Twitter: @Approyo

Approyo makes a name for itself by providing full SAP service technology. It touts extensive capabilities in hosting and managed services, upgrades and migrations for its customers, running any SAP-supported core functionality. The company manages more than 300 SAP environments around the world. It supports business from production to migration onto SAP S/4 HANA.

Approyo says it designs its cloud environments and tailors them specifically to the needs of its customers. The company’s goal is to bring data and information to its clients’ businesses as quickly as possible — and affordably.

Founder and CEO Christopher Carter discusses COVID-19 business challenges and offers advice on handling debt.

Channel Futures: What new opportunities and challenges came with the COVID-19 pandemic?

Christopher Carter: The global COVID-19 pandemic has been a game changer for us this year. Many companies are struggling with the aftermath, whether they may have had to close their doors, or are experiencing less revenue because of rising unemployment rates. To help companies in their time of need, we are now offering both current and new customers the ability to free up their cash flow by allowing them “a way to have zero cash flow until the end of 2020.” This allows them to push off payments for up to six months.

The 2020 MSP 501 recognizes the top managed service providers in the world. See the full list. Then check out our brand-new Hot 101.
Approyo's Christopher Carter

Approyo’s Christopher Carter

We understand these are hard times for everyone, including companies, their employees and executives. As such, if any company is willing to allow us to help them, we will be glad to assist them in any SAP needs, from daily SAP basis support to large instance projects. We’ve had several companies come to us just so we could free up their cash flow. They’ve chosen us not only for that, but for the success that we experienced before this pandemic. Throughout the pandemic we have continued with our daily activities, still experiencing ongoing growth and success. This offering has just highlighted our services and values, giving one more capability for customers to see why Approyo is the partner they need to be successful in their digital transformation journey. We only succeed when our customers do, and that’s always our first priority.

CF: Is the influx of private equity and increase in M&A activity impacting your business? If so, how?

The 2020 MSP 501 recognizes the top managed service providers in the world. See the full list. Then check out our brand-new Hot 101.

CC: This is a great question and one that I’ve been able to save for our company for a long time. We have not taken any M&A or VC funding, as we have been cash-flow positive in the manner that customers need and expect. Being riddled with debt is not my idea of a successful company.

It is normal for companies to experience small amounts of debt through growth, new acquisitions and new hires. But it’s how you adapt to it that drives your business in the right direction. You must work to have a positive cash flow in order to drive your customers and your company to success, and in my opinion, not having that is the ultimate failure. I am asked daily by so-called VCs and M&A people if they can assist us with our funding. But most have no clue about Approyo or what we are looking for in order to grow. With the current pandemic, private equity is definitely on the rise, but that doesn’t mean it is always the best option.

CF: Why are you a business owner instead of working for someone else? What is the allure of entrepreneurship to you?

CC: To be very honest, this is an easy answer for me. I didn’t like working for other people and I didn’t like the fact that individuals who didn’t know what they were talking about were trying to lead me down a path for my customers’ failure rather than success. Not having the right skill set to both lead a team or an organization, and a lack of knowledge from the technology standpoint was brutal to live with. That led me to start my own company. I did so by going after their customers because I knew their failures. I knew what they were good at and what they were terrible at. And I knew what their executive team was thinking.

Having seen what their motive was, I knew how to attack them the right way — and attack them I did. The allure of being an entrepreneur meant that the buck stopped at my desk and the decisions I made technology-wise, staffing-wise, business-wise and client-wise lay on my own shoulders. I hired very intelligent people to run certain operations, people I knew I could trust and could interact with and rely on. At Approyo, we work as a team, not as a lord and his minions, but a true team of executives and staff who work hand in hand to make sure that our customers are successful.

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