|Over 18,000 Global Readers and Growing! May 1, 2012 - Issue 3-4 CloudSpeak|
As the world turns to cloud, we’re back with our monthly CloudSpeak to cover it all. The subject line tells you what we plan to deliver. But what’s new is HOW we intend to deliver the content to you. We’re going lean in this newsletter as we transition to a new format that is more “bite-sized” and to the point.
We also introduce the next issue (2Q2012) of the magazine, SMB Nation. We focus on the SMB 150 influencer list, and I make a special shout out to the amazing and heartfelt article from Eriq Neale about his life challenge. See my magazine introduction video at right.
PS – still time to HURRY and attend our Tuesday (May 1st) 8AM PST Webinar with Robin Robins
PPS – Don’t forget to attend our SMB 150 awards dinner in LA on May 16th with heaps of SMB heroes! Details HERE
Microsoft Pacing Small Business Competency for June Launch
Today the Microsoft Partner Network (MPN) took another step to participate in the partner news cycle as part of its rolling thunder strategy to introduce the Small Business (SB) Competency to its partner ranks. The seduction is a well thought out PR strategy in advance of the June 2012 SB Competency “soft launch” that will be “hard launched” at the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC) in early July 2012 in Toronto.
What occurred today was this. Myself and several other Microsoft partners including Jon Roskill, (Corporate Vice President, Microsoft Worldwide Partner Group), Kat Tillman (Senior Digital Marketing Manager, Microsoft Worldwide Partner Group) Leroy Colinwood (Project Manager, CloudLink Solutions), Steve Hall (CEO, District Computers in Washington DC), Carl Mazzanti (VP, Network Systems, eMazzanti Technologies) and John Krikke (Vice President, Onward Computer Systems) held a 30-min MPN LIVE broadcast to discuss the SB Competency. You can watch this starting Friday, April 27th at the site here.
The generic topics concerned “seizing the SMB cloud opportunity through the Small Business Competency” and each panelist, myself included, had a different perspective. I tried to represent the hearts and minds of the small business owner expressing that many small business owners are HUNGRY for the next wave of business technology knowledge and that creates an educational sales opportunity for Microsoft partners to be a business advisor. The other panelists, who largely still “do the work of the Jesus” (Microsoft) were more keen on talking about the sale of Office 365 and Intune licenses, recurring revenue and the technical implementation opportunity. The “net-net” was that cloud subscription revenue is worth more to potential buyers than regular one-off project revenue.
Later, we discussed the reality of cloud in the SMB space. I proffered that the truth is in the middle with hybrid infrastructure being the true answer (a combination of cloud and on-premises). That’s actually how we conduct our affairs at SMB Nation as a small business ourselves. Mazzanti was reporting significant growth in BOTH the Office3 365 cloud solution and his on-premises offering.
The show end with a conversation about how can you make the cloud services more profitable. This included adding “traditional” installation, configurations and monitoring services. Or would the $$ come from building packaged services/bundling. Neither approach is wrong; both are right. What I took away was that the cloud commerce conversation is quickly evolving in SMB and you can participate by jumping on the SB Competency in just over a month.
Again – I’d encourage you to watch the MPN Live show, starting Friday, April 27th, at the site here.
Next blog I’ll delve deeper into the SB Competency! So hang on fast!
Announcing CompTIA Breakaway
CompTIA Breakaway is the premier education event for the IT channel being held July 30-August 2 at the Aria Resort and Casino in Las Vegas. Breakaway 2012 is gearing up to be the IT destination hot spot where the industry will navigate the channel through education and training, peer-to-peer connections and networking to form new partnerships. Breakaway engages attendees in discussions on the latest technology business opportunities, industry educational topics, and collaborative community sessions. The 2012 conference covers a number of beneficial channel themes including cloud computing, disaster recovery, HIT, IT security, mobility, social media in addition to traditional technology and business topics.
Back by popular demand, all attendees can sign up for live channel training courses and walk away with a certificate of completion validating their business knowledge in a dedicated area of interest. Live channel training courses help attendees transition into new practices through intense instruction and a 10-week plan of action. Quick Start Sessions, for those exploring a new market, provide key considerations and resources you need to understand before launching a new practice. Vendors and distributors who attend these courses will better understand the intricacies your partners are facing in certain verticals and markets. Additional channel training includes the CompTIA MSP Partner and Security Trustmark workshops, peer-to-peer discussions and hot-topic panel sessions featuring the industry’s greatest thought leaders.
Things you don’t want to miss this year include the Breakaway Technology Vendor Fair, the CompTIA Think & Drink Lounge, The Wild Card Session and MyBreakaway online conference community. Navigate The Channel in Las Vegas July 30-Aug 2 at Breakaway 2012. REGISTER TODAY. CompTIA members receive unlimited registrations. Not a member? Register today for just $250 and receive a FREE one-year CompTIA membership ($750 value!!).
Getting Deeper Into Cloud Drivers & Adoption Study
(part two of a series)
Last month, I profiled the well-received “Drivers & Inhibitors to Cloud Adoption for Small and Midsize Businesses” (here) released by Microsoft at its annual spring hosting conference (the 8th annual Microsoft Hosting Summit that brings in top hosters and service providers) in CloudSpeak (Issue 3-3 here). This month, I am sharing an interview I conducted with Monish Sood, senior marketing manager, Operator Channels, Microsoft Corp., You can watch the highlights in the vid below.
My intention in this installment is to discover how the study came to be and what Monish’s intentions were. Let’s start with that it’s a B2B study that features customer cloud attitudes and preferences. It’s focused on the small and medium business (SMB) segment of between 2 and 250 PCs.
In its existing format the “Drivers and Adoptions” study is in its third year, although when you count the predecessor study completed by Microsoft’s Comm Sector group, you could say it is really the fifth year of studying this topic. Basically, a few years ago, reorganization occurred at Microsoft, and the Operators Channels group was created and took ownership for the study. This group at Microsoft focuses on service providers and hosters such as Verio, RackSpace, 1&1, RISE, GoDaddy and Parallels.
Back in the day, the study actually originated in Europe so that service providers could better understand their customers and help them better understand how the customer wants to consume services in a hosted or cloud model. “We were trying to get a better sense of the ecosystem. For example, we know that most SMBs have the trusted advisor working with a hoster selling e-mail and other services. So how can this service provider help drive more services to the SMB?” Sood said.
Sood then shared a perspective of conducting the studies over time. “We don’t do trending as much as set of discovery. We are asking: ‘What’s new this year’?” Forgoing a study design that implicitly allows year-over-year comparisons, the questions and topics can be and often are ‘new.’ So we can focus on today and tomorrow,” he said. “The study is a tool to give them what’s going on today and what’s happening tomorrow. The key point is that we want to dig deeper into DISCOVERY!”
So what are Sood’s specific intentions? “We want to dissect cloud adoption further. Part of that journey is that we are finding that cloud adoption is consistent in recent years and by geography. We also have said that we want to look at audience attitudes. We want to ‘personify the subject and bring them to life,’ and give them characteristics. An example of this is to break down the 2 to 250 company size range into the smaller components,” Sood said.
So what was the one highlight that stood out? In the current study, there was an emphasis on mobility versus past studies.
While this study is different from the SMS&P study released each spring (more on that in a future issue), Sood does collaborate with SMS&P. This year, Sood’s study had only 13-countries participate (down from 16 the prior year) but important countries such as Brazil were added. “We changed the country composition but that allowed us to increase the sample size within the countries we surveyed,” Sood shared. Overall, there were 3,500 responses.
King of the Office 365 Mountain – Brett Hill
Here I sit at Cloud Intelligence Seattle 2012 and I’m listening to the well-respected Office 365 MVP Brett Hill. Lecturing on “Keeping Up with Office 365,” Hill is exciting the audience with rare air insights into the inner workings of the Office 365 development team in Redmond. He should know. Seattle-based Hill is widely acknowledged as an “insider” to Microsoft’s Office 365 team. Disclosure: We are negotiation with Hill right now to speak on Office 365 at the 2012 SMB Nation Fall conference. (Stay tuned for that announcement)
So what’s it all mean for MSPs and channel partners?
Office 365 is frequently updated service, and keeping up with the changes is important, according to Hill. Obviously, a new feature or solution can open valuable new business scenarios for Office 365 customers and revenue opportunities for channel partners. Hill provided an up-to-the-minute journey displaying new features added to Office 365 including increased capacity, troubleshooting tools, client capabilities, and useful 3rd party tools created by Partners and MVPs.
Hill drew out one example where you can talk to any user in the world that using Office 365 via Lync Online. Admittedly, it had me asking questions about the role of Skype versus Lync and I’ll wait and see how the market shakes out here.
Then it was time for tips and tricks. Hill discussed how you can share your calendar with any other Office 365 user in the world. But I wasn’t clear (and still am not,) on how you can tell who in your contact list is using Exchange Online? Hill wrapped with more updates including Lync Mobile, expanded support for PDF in SharePoint, increased capacity for delivering messages, allowing more users in an online meeting, release of PST management tool, and many troubleshooting tools (I lost count).
To learn more about the Quickstart’s nationwide Cloud Intelligence events, visit
Update!: Brett Hill’s new “Working with Microsoft® Office 365: Running Your Small Business in the Cloud” is here in the cloud. Here is what I mean. The printed book is just a few weeks away from formal release. However, you can download the “rough cuts” edition now from the cloud (really the O’Reilly site here) and get rocking! You can watch my video interview with Brett Hill at right.
Indirect With AppDirect
An energetic Daniel Saks recently plead his case for your vote of approval as the white label marketplace of choice for service providers (e.g. SMB Nation tribal members) to get up on the cloud right here, right now. Let’s dig deeper into his assertions that were shared with me at the recent Cloud Fair conference in Seattle.
Saks shared three trends converging that make his arguments appealing:
Digging deeper, Saks shared that its marketplace paradigm provides a platform that connects developers all the way through the value chain to the end user in one place. For smaller businesses, instead of going to individual vendors, you can go through our trusted advisor (a channel partner who essentially acts as a sales agent) to AppDirect’s marketplace catalog.
The net-net is this. Learn more about AppDirect’s reseller program at www.appdirect.com and tell’em Harrybbb sent you to take a look.
Friend of the family…Stratus Reaching New SMB Heights with Avance
Long-time friend Stratus, was in Seattle recently at the Cloud Fair conference. I had a chance to catch up with executive Nelson Hsu for coffee. Hsu shared a bit about Stratus background, stuff I didn’t even know when they were a sponsor at last fall’s conference.
Stratus has a 30-year history of providing uptime insurance solutions in the enterprise down to the SMB space. It’s claim the fame is that it’s high availability paradigm is based on purpose-built hardware and software that combined give it resilient technologies according to Hsu. Combine that with proactive monitoring and system management and you have “infrastructure magic” for lack of a better word. So I asked Hsu the obvious question: does he compete with SMB channel favorites Kaseya (who is holding its user conference this week in Vegas – blogs to follow baby!), Level Platforms and Zenith. “No. Think of those RMM tool providers as the “sand” and Stratus is the castle. I am the architect and work closely with the RMM providers.” Hsu stated. “Combined we deliver proactive and predictable alerts.”
So how does Stratus play in SMB? Hsu schooled me on Avance, its high-availability software solution completely focused on the SMB segment. It’s is to provide high availability continuous (not failover) service to SMBs that need it. “We serve lawyers, doctors, EMR, manufacturing and MSPs (yes – MSPs themselves). Throw in our work in the public sector and e-commerce and you can see we have a robust portfolio. So the million dollar question is, how much? Well, it’s hardly a million dollars but rather a Avance perpetual license for $100/month for the proactive and monitoring service. Learn more here.
Some final thoughts on this privately-held 500+ employee company with a footprint in 40-countries and over 30 Network Operation Centers (NOCs):
It has a robust partner program and enjoys the support of many Intel partners. This shouldn’t be a big surprise as some of its funding came from Intel Capital.
It’s an Intel Hybrid Cloud Partner and in the AppUp store catalog. Hsu share that this “allows the SMB and VARs to embrace the cloud...to guarantee uptime assurance through a service management partnership such as Stratus"
Hsu shared that Stratus see itself as a service provider. “That's what we sell…”KEY TAKEAWAY: Hsu conclude out chat with the following. “We deliver a single pane of glass from a service management perspective - we focus on being the architect. The key thing is it’s a business critical applications that require uptime assurance. Technology-wise, it’s not exotic...it’s simple and self-managing...no downtime and no data loss.”
Q2 2012 Issue of the SMB Nation Magazine is HERE! Download NOW!
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