Over 18,000 Global Readers and Growing! May 8, 2012 - Issue 7-5 GeekSpeak
I’m madly creating the next great thing that I’ll introduce at the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC, July 2012) but I wouldn’t neglect my 13+ year responsibility for kicking out the weekly newsletter. No rain, sleet, snow or mad dogs shall stop your weekly newsletter fix.
Before we jump into the good stuff, I want to highlight an important matter. Fellow SBS author and Microsoft MVP Eriq Neale has the challenge of his life going on right now. He is battling liver cancer. Eriq wrote about his journey on page 10 of the current SMB Nation magazine that you can download here and I encourage you to take just a moment out of your busy day and reflect on his message. Do the right thing, and help the battle against cancer as you are able. Think of it as your living theology.
Let’s jump into the content NOW!
At last week’s Kaseya Connect Conference, I was struck how an old school story (technical certifications) received significant attention in the keynote by Kaseya founder Gerald Blackie. Now deep into its second year, the Kaseya Certified Administrator title, as part of the Kaseya University Program, has legs (be sure to see my interview with Lenny Simon at right). Here’s the scoop.
Kaseya’s certification program is technical and specific to its RMM solution. The curriculum is delivered as either self-paced or live instructor but with a twist – it’s all online and facilitated by IT Scholars, a training entity started by a professor at Florida International University in Miami, Florida. There is the Fundamentals certification that teaches such Kaseya RMM foundational topics such as deployment, patching and monitoring. The self-paced Fundamentals learning approach is half-price for the self-taught versus the instructor-led approach ($895 vs. $1,800), reflecting the value chain equation. It all ends with a two-hour certification validation approach that is both theory (True/False, Multiple Choice) and practical (screenshots).
The positive reception has encouraged Kaseya to develop additional technical training modules including Service Desk, Security and Backup and Disaster Recovery (BDR). These additional modules are “smaller” than the Fundamentals offering and in the case of the Service Desk module, priced cheaper (e.g. Service Desk self-study is $395 and the Live Instructor is $695).So the net-set on Kaseya’s education program is several-fold. Having its own partners expertly trained is an obvious benefit. Another is that Kaseya itself has been hiring some of the certification students from Florida International University. Take the case of Lenny Simon, Kaseya support manager. I interview him in the video above about his journey from his studies in the Kaseya certification program to working for Kaseya itself. How cool is that?
Learning from Others
We recently published a case study with our partner SNC Squared. As an MSP located in Joplin, Missouri, SNC Squared had a front row seat to the backup and disaster recovery show when one of the deadliest tornadoes in American history plowed through in May of 2011.
The tornado destroyed 8,000 homes and businesses, did nearly $3 billion in damage, and killed 160 people. SNC Squared found themselves setting up shop in CEO John Motazedi’s house and setting out to offer what help they could, both humanitarian and IT. Ultimately, because of the strength of their own disaster recovery plan and the solutions they set up for their clients, SNC Squared had all of their clients up and running in an incredible 72 business hours.
A good disaster recovery plan has a lot of different parts, but when it comes down to it, a serious natural disaster tests all of them. A power outage is an annoyance, but an EF5 tornado exposes every weakness in your plan. It is the worst-case scenario.
This doesn’t mean our plans aren’t good or finished until we’ve suffered through the same crucible as Joplin, Missouri. It does mean that there’s real value as we prepare and upgrade our own plans in listening to the experiences of others who have. There’s a lot to learn from the success (or failure) of others, especially when they’ve succeeded (or failed) in the most heinous of circumstances.
If we’re building our plans in isolation, we’re probably missing something. It’s easy to become isolated and insular, so when we’re fleshing out that recovery, we should consider looking beyond our own business. Get involved with IT communities online, read case studies like the SNC Squared one we just published, and find out what’s working for others out there.
Working Together: Kaseya and Cisco
In the same week we remembered Rodney King’s “…can’t we all just get along” from 20 years ago, I stumbled upon the Cisco booth at the Kaseya Connect conference with its “Let’s start by working together” theme. How appropriate. Not so much for its historical reference to the 1992 South Central LA riots, but rather its OnPlus/Kaseya integration.
Marc Bresniker, Senior Manager for the OnPlus product laid it out for me. At its heart, the integration is of OnPlus notification and alerts automatically to Kaseya service tickets. You can then enter the Kaseya service ticket, enter the MAC address and remotely manage the device. The idea is to perform this work from a familiar environment.
So why does this friendship work? It’s about leveraging strengths. Kaseya does the maintenance (RMM), and OnPlus offers the deeper knowledge that reflect Cisco’s engineering heritage. Kaseya has visibility at the asset level. Cisco OnPlus performs a deeper traffic inspection well into the OSI model.
The Cisco OnPlus device sells for $250/site for multiple years of service. As such – it’s significantly cheaper than many other monitoring solutions on the market, including Kaseya. I asked if it “competes” with Kaseya, and while Bresniker admitted there is some overlap, really the integration announcement was all about working together.
Regarding that low price point, I asked how OnPlus makes money for Cisco. Bresniker and colleague David Tang responded that it’s all about building Cisco loyalty and that the OnPlus device is an influencer to other purchases. That is, the deep inspection and analysis from OnPlus has a tendency to drive more sophisticated technology into SMBs and sell routers, switches, etc.
The “net-net” in Kaseya speak is this: Kaseya partners can currently view OnPlus events and access the network devices directly from the Service Desk on the Kaseya portal.
How to Conduct a Remote Network Assessment
By Bob Vogel
I’ve been talking with the folks over at RapidFire Tools to learn more about their network assessment tool called The Network Detective. Their big claim to fame is that the tool they’ve created allows you to perform a completely non-invasive assessment that’s deceptively easy to set up and fast to run.
So I asked them what does” non-invasive” really mean, and why is that important?
“Basically, there’s no software to install, and no monitoring agents that need to be deployed around the network,” said Win Pham, who built the software for RapidFire Tools. “This is really important if you’re walking into a prospect environment. There might be an incumbent service provider or internal IT resource that the owner would rather not know that you are in there poking around.”
Win explained to me that with the Network Detective, you get a small executable file that you can put on a thumb drive. Just plug the thumb drive into the domain controller and run the file (no install). Of course, you will need to have the server’s admin credentials to access all the data.
It takes only about 30 minutes to collect literally hundreds of pages of configuration data off the average size network. Use that time to have a business conversation with the owner about any issues, concerns, needs and wants. When the scan is complete, all the data is gathered into a single encrypted file that you can save back to your thumb drive.
Back at your office, run the encrypted network data file through the Network Detective’s data analyzer, and then pick the reports you want to run. You have a choice of a very sexy Client Risk Summary report to use as a door-opener for new project, a complete (and voluminous) Network Assessment Report, or a nifty little network schematic diagram. If you’ve run a scan on the network in the past you can also run a report that just highlights anything that’s changed. The reports are editable, and brandable.
If you haven’t checked out this project yet, it’s worth a look. Here’s the link to a landing page where you can learn more, get sample reports, get pricing, and register for their next webinar.
BONUS: Cisco’s SMB Updates
As a bonus, watch my interview with Dave Tang about recent Cisco SMB updates. This includes the company’s enabling mobility strategy, two new Wireless Access Point products (the WAP121, WAP321) and Tang’s insights into the fast growth in mobile device adoption (obviously) and mobile traffic doubling each year for the past four years.
Channel Partner Weekly Power List, By Joseph Walker, Contributing Writer for SMB Nation, Inc. and Cloud Nation
The past week has revealed several hints about the big boys' plans for cloud computing and the SMB channel. Editors at CRN pried some important insights from Jon Roskill, Microsoft's worldwide partner group VP; CA Technologies reaffirmed their support for Cisco across their data centers; and IBM's new channel chief discussed his priorities.
Let's take a closer look:
Microsoft's Roskill noted that he sees desktop virtualization as a huge channel "greenfield" and that Microsoft plans to continue supporting its partners in this area. Microsoft also sees a significant opportunity for channel partners with its Office 365 product, especially since a large percentage of new Office 365 customers have not been previous Microsoft customers. Roskill noted that MS partners who realize the highest profits specialize in what he callspartner competencies. Microsoft has 28 areas of competency—such as business intelligence, CRM, Lync and SQL—where partners can achieve Gold partner status.
IBM's Mark Hennessy, general manager for IBM global business partners, said his company will shovel as much as $2 billion into lead generation and continued improvements of its channel partner programs. Already this year, IBM has recruited about 500 new MSPs and other IT support partner companies. Hennessy also said that IBM plans to increase many of its commissions and other incentives. One of IBM's biggest areas of focus in the SMB channel is their IBM Web Experience initiative.
CA Technologies announced their focus on supporting Cisco network architectures and other products across all of their data centers. They also announced that channel partners who hold expert proficiency in the new CA Automation Suite for Clouds will meet the cloud management competency requirement for the Cisco Cloud Partner Program's Cisco Cloud Partner Program. The cloud automation suite, and its qualification for the Cisco cloud builder credential, will enable partners to design and deploy Cisco-based private or public clouds.
In addition, two non-industry giants have made important announcements about their channel programs:
Condusiv Technologies, the makers of Diskeeper (a top performance monitoring tool), have announced a new channel partner program. Condusiv offers their partners sales tools, in-depth training, marketing support, relatively high margins and lead generation. Condusiv's customers include everyone from individual consumers to large enterprises.
Digital Planet Communications is in search of new channel partners to act as solution engineers for its telecommunications and other IT services. DPC offers voice, data, security, cloud, printing and converged data solutions.Mobotix announced a new channel partner program for companies that wish to distribute and install a wide variety of their security products (including IP cameras, dome cameras, network switches for IP cameras and double hemisphere cameras). Dr. Magnus Ekerot, the company's chief sales officer, promised that Mobotix will never undercut its partners with direct sales to end users.
SMB 150 Awards Gala
The SMB 150 Awards Gala is on May 16th! Join us at the beautiful Westin Bonaventure Hotel in Los Angeles, CA for an evening of celebration and networking.The event will run from 6-10pm Pacific, and will include a welcome reception, dinner service, awards and dessert.
For more information or to register, please see the site here!
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