Tag Archives: Moore

Meraki Go offers channel new small-business Wi-Fi market

Meraki Go, a newly launched small-businesses Wi-Fi offering, will give channel partners an edge with customers who were previously out of reach.

That’s the expectation of Cisco Meraki, Cisco’s division that focuses on wireless LAN, cloud-managed switches and other products. Meraki Go offers indoor and outdoor wireless access points, a Meraki Go app for managing the wireless network, and a subscription for support and security updates.

Kevin Rezai, Meraki Go global sales lead at Cisco Meraki, said the Wi-Fi product is built for small-business organizations with fewer than 50 employees. He also noted a possible “sub-niche” of organizations with fewer than 20 employees.

Small-business owners are in a bit of bind when it comes to Wi-Fi, according to Cisco Meraki research. On the one hand, many small businesses tend to get by with consumer-grade Wi-Fi products. A Cisco Meraki survey of 1,000 small-business owners found 43% use the same Wi-Fi offering in their offices that they use in their homes.

But on the other hand, an enterprise-class Wi-Fi product may not prove viable because of the required IT support. More than 80% of the respondents said they lack a full-time IT resource.

The crux is a lot of the Wi-Fi solutions today don’t meet the needs of small businesses.
Kevin RezaiMeraki Go global sales lead at Cisco Meraki

“The crux is a lot of the Wi-Fi solutions today don’t meet the needs of small businesses,” Rezai said.

Pricing is another consideration in the small-businesses Wi-Fi space. Meraki Go aims to lower the price point to make the technology more accessible. An indoor access point is priced at $129, compared with around $600 for the low end of Meraki’s enterprise Wi-Fi access point.

The more affordable price point enables partners to “address their customers in a way they haven’t been able to before,” Rezai said.

Kaseya committed to ‘one-stop-shop’ strategy

IT management vendor Kaseya shared plans to further expand its software platform for managed services providers (MSPs) through yet-to-be-announced acquisitions.

Kaseya’s platform, IT Complete, currently offers a broad suite of integrated MSP products, including remote monitoring and management, professional services automation, and security software.

This past year, Kaseya added backup and disaster recovery software to its portfolio through a buyout of Unitrends. And this week, the vendor purchased RapidFire Tools, a managed services software provider that will operate as independent business under Kaseya. The company provides assessment, internal threat detection and compliance products.

In a recent podcast by market research firm The 2112 Group, Kaseya CEO Fred Voccola revealed more acquisitions to augment the IT Complete platform are on the way.

“I think two of the three announcements that we are going to make are really going to send positive shock waves through the MSP community,” Voccola said in The 2112 Group’s podcast about the upcoming acquisitions.

Voccola said Kaseya is committed to its strategy of becoming a one-stop shop for MSPs — versus a provider of a point product that MSPs can stitch together with other vendors’ products — because the approach meets the needs of how MSPs operates today.

In MSP organizations, a technician typically has multiple functions, which may range from configuration and network management to backup and even service desk work, he said. As result, technicians want a comprehensible “product, one that is deep enough to do what they need to do in the time they need to do it.”

Point products, meanwhile, are more suitable for enterprise IT departments, which usually dedicate entire teams to single functions, Voccola noted. For example, an enterprise IT department might have 500 people focused only on network management, while another 200 do only backup and disaster recovery, he said.

“So much of the tooling and the infrastructure management products [enterprise IT departments] use are frameworks that they have customized substantially with their own internal development teams to augment [and] add company-specific functionality,” he said.

“What is more important [for MSPs] is they accomplish their objective and their task in the quickest, most efficient way possible, and they can move in and out of five or six different functional groups at a fraction of the cost, because that’s what their customers are demanding from them,” Voccola said.

SUSE schools SAP Business One resellers in Linux

SUSE, an open source software provider based in Nuremberg, Germany, has trained 500 SAP partners in an effort to push SAP HANA to more midmarket customers.

The joint SAP-SUSE program focuses on SAP Business One resellers. Business One is an ERP system for small and midsize businesses that grew up in the Windows environment, but now it also runs on SAP HANA and SUSE Linux Enterprise Server. Dirk Oppenkowski, global alliance director for SAP at SUSE, said SAP aims to gradually move its customer base to Linux and HANA.

As part of the SAP-SUSE program, about 2,500 individuals from the 500 partners went through SUSE’s training academy to become familiar with Linux, Oppenkowski said.

In addition to training, the program also provides profit sharing via deal registration rebates and access to the SUSE Installation Wizard. That tool lets partners deploy SAP Business One running on SAP HANA with SUSE Linux Enterprise Server, according to SUSE.

The vast majority of the 500 Business One resellers participating in the program are net-new partners for SUSE. Oppenkowski said, in the past, Business One resellers have been mainly Windows and SQL Server partners. The result is little overlap with SUSE’s reseller channel, he added.

The midmarket program is an offshoot of an ongoing relationship between SUSE and SAP that goes back about seven years.

Other news

  • Security vendor Netwrix Corp. unveiled a technical certification program for its Netwrix Auditor software platform. The Partner Technical Certification Program is designed for technical teams at MSPs, value-added resellers and distributor partners, Netwrix said. By completing online training, partner engineers can achieve two levels of Netwrix Engineer certification: Certified and Pro.
  • ConnectWise is taking applications for a business-expansion idea contest and a merger-and-acquisition matchmaking event. The business-expansion contest, dubbed Pitch IT, offers the first-place winner up to $100,000 to execute its business plan. Runners-up will receive $50,000 and $25,000. ConnectWise’s M&A Deal Crawl event, meanwhile, will bring a number of qualified buyers and sellers together for an in-person meeting Nov. 8 at the IT Nation Connect conference in Orlando, Fla.
  • Broadvoice, a provider of hosted voice, unified communications and SIP trunking services, introduced its Public Sector Program. Through the program, partners can receive help for targeting government, education and nonprofit markets. Partner resources include training, marketing collateral, lead sharing, request-for-proposal tools and technical response assistance, Broadvoice said.
  • Unified Office Inc., an MSP focusing on communications services and business analytics, has launched an offering for the dental industry. The company’s Total Connect Now Dental Management Suite is a voice communications system that integrates with dental practice management software platforms, such as Dentrix, Open Dental and Eaglesoft.
  • Cloud distributor Pax8 has named Ken Patterson as its director of community. Patterson joins Pax8 from Techevolution, a Boston-based MSP, where he served as executive vice president. In his new role, Patterson will oversee Pax8’s community outreach program, partner relationships, and MSPs’ access to education, tools and support, the distributor said.
  • Commvault, a backup and recovery vendor based in Tinton Falls, N.J., has appointed Wenceslao Lada as vice president of worldwide alliances.

Market Share is a news roundup published every Friday.

Microsoft fiscal year 2019: Priorities revealed at Inspire conference

Microsoft fiscal year 2019 priorities suggest a few areas in which partners can expect to work with the company.

At last year’s Microsoft partner conference, the company talked about reorganizing its sales force along industry lines and discussed a commercial model designed to win digital transformation projects. In this fiscal year, which began July 1, Microsoft will fine-tune that model but make no major changes, noted Judson Althoff, executive vice president of worldwide commercial business at Microsoft.

Althoff, speaking at Inspire, the annual Microsoft partner conference, did however outline top Microsoft fiscal year 2019 agenda items. Among those priorities: digging deeper into what Althoff called strategic enterprise accounts. With that direction in mind, Microsoft plans to invest more in its industry focus and strategy. Partners, for their part, will be called on to invest in industry-specific solutions and services.

In addition, Althoff said Microsoft will emphasize customer acquisition and aims to bring more customers to the Microsoft cloud, while it pursues account-based marketing. And once customers are acquired, the focus will shift to customer retention and growth, he noted. For partners, this could mean developing customer success practices, which follow upon the initial sale.

Microsoft, meanwhile, will also make learning and readiness a fiscal year 2019 priority. Althoff pointed to a new learning platform that will roll out this year, as well as new cloud certifications.

At the Microsoft partner conference, the company also stated plans to invest in its in-house cultural transformation. Althoff cited diversity, inclusion and a growth mindset as the key themes in that priority area.

In addition to those stated Microsoft fiscal year 2019 priorities, partners can also expect to see the company elaborate on its intelligent cloud, intelligent edge approach, which company executives describe as a ubiquitous distributed computing fabric with embedded artificial intelligence.

“We are going to infuse everything with AI,” said Satya Nadella, Microsoft CEO, during his keynote address at Inspire.

Xerox remains bullish on SMB ambitions

Xerox said recent shakeups at the company haven’t affected its goal of capturing the small and medium-sized business (SMB) market through partners.

While the fallout of a proposed merger with Fujifilm has sparked questions about Xerox’s future, company executives remain optimistic, especially as it relates to expanding Xerox’s footprint in SMBs. Xerox has long identified its channel partners as a primary means for capturing SMB deals.

“SMB is a major strategic focus for Xerox, and the way we get there will be through our channel ecosystem,” said Pete Peterson, president of channels at Xerox.

Peterson, who joined Xerox about 15 months ago, said the changes at Xerox during his tenure haven’t disrupted the vendor’s commitment to partners. He noted that Xerox’s new CEO, John Visentin, views channel partners as a key engine for growth. Xerox named Visentin its CEO after former CEO Jeff Jacobson stepped down in May.

Peterson cited managed print services (MPS) among the SMB market opportunities that Xerox wants to enable partners to pursue. Xerox in February launched its MPS Essentials Suite, a bundle of MPS software offerings for partners. “Our MPS business and channels are growing significantly compared to the overall market,” Peterson said.

The vendor is also looking to help partners to develop applications around its ConnectKey devices, he said. He noted that Xerox has either developed or enabled about 75 ConnectKey apps, which include apps for document management, archiving and translation capabilities. In the last 12 to 18 months, Xerox has hosted several training and enablement sessions for partners to learn how to monetize and build their own ConnectKey apps, Peterson added.

Other news

  • Data management vendor Commvault has bolstered its channel resources as part of a long-term partner program redesign. New partner program features include an on-demand services center dedicated to supporting partners, marketing support and an enhanced quoting system. Commvault also revamped its partner portal, adding new tools and content. In addition, the vendor consolidated its product portfolio of 20 offerings down to four products.
  • Carahsoft Technology Corp., a government IT solutions provider, is distributing Feature Labs offerings to public sector organizations through Carahsoft’s NASA Solutions for Enterprise-Wide Procurement contract. Feature Labs offers software that automates feature engineering for machine learning and AI applications.
  • E8 Storagehas expanded into the Canadian market with the addition of CognoSystems, based in Toronto, to its roster of solutions partners. CognoSystems, a disaster-recovery-as-a-service provider, is collaborating with E8 Storage to incorporate the latter company’s NVMe architecture into environments such as supercomputing clusters.
  • In other Microsoft Inspire announcements, Pax8, a cloud distribution firm, launched its Wingman Professional Services Program. Through the program, managed services providers (MSPs) can access customized IaaS solutions built by Pax8’s cloud architects and engineers, according to the company. In addition, BitTitan, a managed services automation company, unveiled a new set of automation capabilities for its MSPComplete offering. The capabilities let service providers offer professional, managed and help desk services around Microsoft Azure, the company said.
  • IT services management vendor SolarWinds MSP updated its N-central remote monitoring and management platform. N-central 12.0 introduces deeper integration with professional services automation software, improved patch management and access to NetPath, a network performance tool.
  • IT Glue, which offers a documentation platform for MSPs, introduced a new checklist feature to its software. The Checklists tool lets MSPs create checklists to organize and track routine tasks within the IT Glue platform, the vendor said.

Market Share is a news roundup published every Friday.

Evergreen Services Group: New deal to up MSP revenue to $40M

Evergreen Services Group, a holding company focused on purchasing managed service providers, is on the cusp of its fifth acquisition, a move that will bring the investor’s MSP revenue to more than $40 million.

The company, based in San Francisco, launched in 2017 as a spinoff of Alpine Investors, a private equity firm. Evergreen has received a $100 million equity commitment from Alpine to launch its acquisition campaign, which got underway seven months ago, according to Ramsey Sahyoun, head of M&A at Evergreen.

Evergreen’s investments include Executech, an MSP in the Salt Lake City area; Wolf Consulting and Jenlor, MSPs in greater Pittsburgh; and Interlaced LLC, an MSP in San Diego specializing in Apple environments.

Next up is an acquisition of an Austin, Texas, MSP that Evergreen Services Group expects to announce next week.

M&A in the MSP market

Evergreen’s acquisitions are in line with the general consolidation trend ongoing in the MSP market. A number of investment groups, including Fusion Agiletech, Converge Technology Partners and Great Hill Partners in conjunction with Reliam Inc., for example, are in the process of building IT services company platforms.

Sahyoun said Evergreen offers a different opportunity for MSPs in the M&A landscape. He said Evergreen purchases 100% of a company and generally pays in cash upfront, noting that other investors strike deals based on earn-outs or seller notes.

In addition, Evergreen takes a long-term view as it acquires companies, Sahyoun said.

“We are not going to smash a few MSPs together and sell in three or four years,” he said. “We are fortunate … to have a long-term financial backer behind this vision of ‘Let’s do this over many years and not just try to make a quick buck.'”

The long-range view enables Evergreen to invest in its acquired companies. Sahyoun said investments in sales and marketing, as well as in service delivery, sets up the acquired companies to have sustainable growth.

The companies Evergreen has acquired thus far will operate as stand-alone, independent platforms, he explained. Evergreen’s approach is to treat companies above the $1 million EBITDA threshold as platforms and those below that mark as add-on acquisitions that would be tucked into one of Evergreen’s platforms.

While Evergreen Services Group doesn’t plan to integrate the platform companies, there will be coordination among its holdings. Sahyoun said Evergreen recently started to bring executives from the companies together in a peer-group format in which they can share best practices and discuss business challenges. In addition, Evergreen provides a subject-matter expert directory and playbook on its website to help companies through such tasks as selecting an IaaS provider or collecting accounts receivable.

Chart showing recent transactions in the IT services industry
Evergreen Services Group is among the investment organizations looking to do deals in the MSP market.

Looking for SMB focus, MRR

Evergreen’s acquisition approach is to look for MSPs serving the small and medium-sized business market that have more than half of their business coming from monthly recurring revenue (MRR).

We look for companies that have a good, predictable stream of revenue.
Ramsey Sahyounhead of M&A, Evergreen Services Group

“That is what we value and what gets us excited about this industry,” Sahyoun said of MRR. “We look for companies that have a good, predictable stream of revenue.”

Customer satisfaction and high retention rates are also important factors in assessing acquisition candidates. To determine customer satisfaction, Evergreen Services Group goes through a process of talking to a subset of an acquisition candidate’s customers as part of its post-letter-of-intent due diligence.

Sahyoun said the company uses a third-party vendor to conduct the customer surveys, which yield such information as net promoter scores.

In general, Sahyoun suggested the recent uptick in acquisition activity in the MSP market signals a greater confidence in the companies following the MSP business model.

“The business has gotten fundamentally better over time,” he said, noting the shift from break-fix to MMR revenue. “That is a big part of what is driving investor interest.”

Other news

  • Microsoft made several announcements ahead of its annual partner conference, Microsoft Inspire. Among the disclosures is a free version of Microsoft Teams; a Whiteboard app for Windows 10 that is also slated for iOS; an expanded Azure Data Box offering; and new programs and resources that aim to help partners take advantage of Microsoft’s global customer and partner ecosystems. Microsoft also unveiled an Azure Expert MSP program, two Cloud Practice Playbooks and four Digital Transformation eBooks. Microsoft Inspire will run July 15 to 19 in Las Vegas.
  • Accenture has acquired Kogentix, a Schaumburg, Ill., company that focuses on big data and AI services. Kogentix employs about 220 big data engineers, data scientists, machine learning engineers and software developers, according to Accenture.
  • IT management software company SolarWinds has acquired Trusted Metrics, a threat monitoring and management vendor. SolarWinds said it will launch SolarWinds Threat Monitor, a tool for MSPs and managed security services providers, as a result of the buyout. In related news, private equity investment firm and SolarWinds backer Thoma Bravo revealed plans to purchase a majority interest in identity and access management player Centrify.
  • More than half of North American channel partners expect to see an increase in IT spending in 2018 compared with last year, according to a mid-year survey of 363 partner companies undertaken by OneAffiniti, a channel marketing solutions provider.
  • Dataguise, a data privacy protection and compliance vendor, unwrapped the DgSecure Partner Program for selling the company’s data governance enablement software. The program provides training and certification; incentives; demo software; sales leads and sales enablement tools; and market development funds (MDF). Partners can also access deal registration and marketing materials through the Dataguise partner portal, the vendor said.
  • Networking vendor Ruckus Networks unveiled a program for enabling partners to sell Ruckus Cloud Wi-Fi. The Cloud-Ready Specialization Program offers tools, training, technical support and incentives and is open to Select- and Elite-level Ruckus Ready partners, the vendor said. Ruckus also provides Smart Cities, Large Public Venue and Education specializations.
  • Yamaha Unified Communications, an audio and video conferencing vendor, introduced a global partner program. The program features three tiers — Basic, Emerging and Prime — with incremental benefits and incentives. At the Basic level, partners can access deal registration, a demo program, special discounts, product training and post-sales technical support. Emerging and Prime partners can tap volume incentive rebates and marketing support such as MDF, according to Yamaha UC.
  • WhiteHat Security, an application security provider, and RiskIQ, a digital threat management firm, are integrating their platforms. The integration gives joint customers “a detailed inventory of web-facing properties, which we can onboard into WhiteHat Sentinel for continuous scanning,” according to John Atkinson, vice president of strategic alliances at WhiteHat Security. As a result, channel partners can provide a “comprehensive solution for dynamic application security testing.”
  • Cybersecurity vendor Bitdefender expanded its security offerings for MSPs. New products include Patch Management, Advanced Threat Security, and Endpoint Detection and Response, available within the Bitdefender Cloud Security for MSP endpoint security suite. The three new offerings can be purchased via monthly usage-based licensing, Bitdefender said.
  • LogiGear, a software-testing vendor, said Royal Cyber, a solution provider based in Naperville, Ill., has joined its roster of value-added resellers. Royal Cyber will provide automation testing using LogiGear’s TestArchitect technology, LogiGear said.

Market Share is a news roundup published every Friday.

Hyper-converged infrastructure solutions: Scale, Nutanix tap channel

Scale Computing and Nutanix both made channel partner moves this week in the hyper-converged infrastructure solutions market.

Scale Computing launched a managed service provider (MSP) program with an updated pricing model. The new Opex subscription is based on price per node, per month. The company said the MSP pricing model aims to boost partner profitability and reduce Capex.

The MSP program also provides features that Scale Computing said enables partners to sell disaster recovery as a service, infrastructure services, and remote management as a service. The company said the new channel initiative follows increased demand for Scale Computing’s HC3 platform in the hyper-converged infrastructure solutions space.

MSPs can purchase HC3 appliances based on Scale Computing and Lenovo hardware or as an “on-premises data center in a box,” according to the company.

Nutanix, meanwhile, has teamed up with Lenovo to launch the Velocity partner program for selling Nutanix Enterprise Cloud OS software in the midmarket space.

The program features incentives, marketing support, accelerated selling processes and product bundles based on Lenovo’s HX hyper-converged appliance, Nutanix said. Nutanix and Lenovo will also release a new hyper-converged product, Lenovo ThinkAgile HX Certified Nodes, targeting enterprise customers.

Other hyper-convergence vendors are targeting MSPs and resellers in their channel partnership strategy plans. Pivot3 earlier this year reported a more than 65% sales increase from the first half of 2017 to the second half of that year.

Hyper-converged infrastructure solutions, meanwhile, have become an important technology for MSPs and other channel partners. The benefits of hyper-converged offerings have expanded beyond initial use cases such as virtual desktop infrastructure to other applications such as virtual machine clustering and production-side deployments. In addition, channel partner executives identified hyper-converged infrastructure solutions as among the technologies setting the pace this year in the storage market.

Chart showing hyper-converged benefits, challenges and use cases
Channel partners are seeing increased demand as more CIOs adopt hyper-converged infrastructure solutions.

Commvault: Changes ahead for channel strategy

Data management vendor Commvault has established a three-year plan to revamp its channel program and strategy.   

The changes come after Commvault’s appointment of Scott Strubel, vice president of worldwide channels, in late April of this year. Strubel joined Commvault from NetApp, where he served as vice president of the Americas partner organization. According to Strubel, Commvault’s long-term channel refresh will focus on four pillars — predictability, consistency and profitability, combined with simplicity — with several updates rolling out in the coming months.

“We will soon be making announcements on what our partners are going to see in the new partner program,” Strubel said.

Commvault partners can expect to see significant changes to the pricing and packaging of products, he noted. Changes include plans to decrease the number of SKUs, as well as parts required to build solutions. Additionally, Commvault will introduce new sales and technical enablement resources. “We will make multiple system-based and people-based venues available to our partners to get better enabled on selling the newly simplified Commvault solutions and taking them to market,” he said.

Strubel also revealed plans for more investments in demand generation, bringing “more leads to our partners in the coming year than we have brought in any year prior.”

Lifesize retools partner program

Lifesize, a video collaboration vendor based in Austin, Texas, has revamped its channel partnership strategy in an effort to boost partner margins.

The Lifesize partner program now offers a two-tiered incentive structure. The first tier rewards distributors for finding net new resellers for Lifesize, while the second tier rewards distributors as their existing resellers move up in the Lifesize program, from Silver to Gold status, for example.

“It’s not enough to just find new partners. We need all partners to grow their Lifesize business,” said Tim Maloney, senior vice president of worldwide channels at Lifesize. The company currently has more than 1,500 partners.

Maloney said partners will play a central role in launching Lifesize Dash, a recently announced software-based collaboration offering for small meeting spaces. The product, priced at less than $1,000, will be available in the third quarter of 2018.

Other news

  • Ensono, a hybrid IT services provider, closed on its purchase of Wipro Ltd.’s hosted data center services business in the U.S., Europe and Singapore. Acquisition activity among cloud services and hosting providers has intensified in recent months.
  • Twilio, a cloud communications platform company, launched Twilio Build, a channel program that offers go-to-market support, training and certification, and a partner success team. Twilio said the program has two partner tiers — Registered and Gold — as well as a marketplace where partners can showcase their Twilio offerings.
  • SolarWinds MSP, an IT service management solution provider, unveiled MSP Pulse, a benchmarking tool for MSPs. The tool was developed in partnership with The 2112 Group.
  • JASK, a security operations center platform vendor, said it has raised $25 million in Series B funding. The company said the funding round, led by Kleiner Perkins, will let the company “expand global sales channels,” increase hiring and focus on platform development. JASK launched a channel partnership strategy and program earlier this year.
  • CloudJumper, a workspace-as-a-service platform vendor, is partnering with Synoptek, an MSP. Synoptek will private label CloudJumper’s cloud workspace platform and streaming app services.
  • Tech Data signed a distributor agreement with Omnicharge, a power-source vendor, to provide its multiport power bank and power station products. Omnicharge said it products come with one-year limited warranty and lifetime customer support.
  • Atmosera, a Microsoft Cloud Solution Provider, appointed Ellie Soleymani as director of marketing and Mark Lipscomb as director of customer success.

Cisco Live 2018: Vendor opens management console to partners

At Cisco Live 2018, the networking vendor continued its emphasis on software, opening Cisco DNA Center to developers and talking up opportunities for channel partners in building solutions on its intent-based networking platform. The Cisco conference was held this week in Orlando.

Cisco said it is releasing developer tools and open APIs into Cisco DNA Center, the control console for the vendor’s intent-based networks. Cisco launched its intent-based networking initiative a year ago, shaking up its network design approach and underscoring its push toward network programmability. In opening DNA Center, Cisco encourages its partners to create applications that take advantage of data collected via Cisco DNA Center.

World Wide Technology Inc. (WWT), a technology solutions provider and Cisco Gold partner based in St. Louis, created a Mobile Ops Center to demonstrate the potential to build upon Cisco’s control center.

“We have only scratched the surface of what is possible with the extensive API set Cisco has built into DNA Center,” said Neil Anderson, practice manager of mobility and access at WWT.

Anderson said WWT plans to use the API capabilities to deliver IT automation on top of Cisco DNA Center and “speed the delivery of our deployments for customers.” In addition, he cited the possibility of integrating across multiple platforms: integrating Cisco DNA with security and IT service ticketing help desk platforms, as well as linking policy in the network with policy in the data center.

Chart showing how industry trends have influenced Cisco's strategy
Cisco’s move to make DNA Center an open platform is the latest move in the vendor’s ongoing software transformation.

Cisco Live 2018: Developer base grows

The networking vendor used the occasion of Cisco Live 2018 to point to its growing developer base. Susie Wee, vice president and CTO of DevNet innovations at Cisco, said the company’s DevNet developer program has reached the 500,000 registered members mark. “It means we’ve hit critical mass with a developer community who can program the network,” Wee wrote in a Cisco blog post.

We have only scratched the surface of what is possible with the extensive API set Cisco has built into DNA Center.
Neil Andersonpractice manager of mobility and access, WWT

According to Cisco, its developer allies include infrastructure developers, cloud developers, independent software vendors (ISVs), systems integrators and network automation consultants. Cisco’s traditional partners — networking resellers — have been retooling in response to Cisco putting software in the lead.

Jason Parry, vice president of client solutions at Force 3, an infrastructure and security solutions provider based in Crofton, Md., said network engineering is becoming more of a development and network programming endeavor. Force 3 is a Cisco Gold partner.

“I think the trend or the move towards software continues to be very evident,” Parry said.

Cisco DNA Center opens opportunities

Parry said Cisco DNA Center will likely follow the path to greater openness that Cisco technologies such as Application Centric Infrastructure have taken.

“We will see them continue to open that up as they have other platforms,” he noted.

The ability to access analytics and telemetry through the Cisco DNA Center APIs will let developers “leverage the network … access layer in ways they really haven’t before,” Parry said. That ability will enable use cases around security, he added.

Fifteen partners have already created solutions on Cisco DNA Center and have demonstrated them at Cisco Live 2018, according to the company. Several of those partners come from the IT services space, including Accenture, Dimension Data, HCL, Logicalis, Presidio, Wipro and WWT.

Cisco said Accenture is creating services around software-image updates, while Presidio focuses on power management and HCL concentrates on third-party device provisioning.

WWT’s Mobile Ops Center, meanwhile, aims to help IT engineers keep tabs on intent-based networks when they are away from the Cisco DNA Center management console.

“Today, DNA Center is a console-based experience — the IT engineer needs to be present at the DNA Center console at his desk to proactively manage and operate the network,” Anderson explained.

He said WWT Asynchrony Labs created a mobile app, using the Cisco DNA Center platform APIs, that lets engineers “take the DNA Center with them wherever they go.”

Dell reverses storage slide

On the heels of its first-quarter earnings report, Dell Technologies highlighted how channel partners are contributing to the company’s growth.

Dell reported $21.4 billion revenue for the first quarter with sales increases in its core technologies. Storage generated $4.1 billion in revenue, which represented a turnaround from a fourth-quarter slump.

“For the first time really since we brought [Dell and EMC] together … we saw phenomenal share gains” in storage, said Cheryl Cook, senior vice president of global channel marketing, at Dell EMC. “It is our first quarter of turning that business back to growth, which has certainly been a focus area for us.”

Among Dell EMC’s recent efforts to boost storage sales were a number of channel incentives and expanded resources such as sales performance incentive funds and the addition of storage sales specialists.

According to Cook, highlights of Dell EMC partners’ first-quarter performance included:

  • Fourteen percent revenue growth in Dell EMC’s distribution business. Distributors continue “to be one of our fastest growth areas of partner types,” she said.
  • Channel partners brought in about 14,800 new or reactivated customers.
  • Dell EMC approved about 120,800 deal registrations.
  • Partners earned more than 5,500 credentials.

Going forward, Cook said that Dell Technologies is looking to create a more integrated framework for partners for doing business across its strategically aligned businesses. That was a key theme discussed at the vendor’s Global Partner Summit in May.

She said Dell Technologies plans to maintain separate partner programs — for example, the VMware and Dell EMC Partner Programs — but will focus on developing ways to recognize partners’ training investments and benefits across programs.

“At some stage, we may drive … ‘loosely coupled alignment’ across the programs rather than [the programs] all living inside one hard program. But we’re very much focused on bringing the value proposition, the benefits and such that we can align our incentive structures similarly [and] recognizing training and credits in each of the programs so that it’s not redundant or repetitive,” she said.

Other news

  • Continuum, a managed service provider (MSP) technology platform provider, has acquired CARVIR to expand its cybersecurity offering. CARVIR provides monitored and managed security to MSPs targeting small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs).
  • Rackspaceunveiled Rackspace Colocation, a service that lets customers deploy their own hardware in Rackspace data centers. The offering provides an average of eight carriers per colocation data center, the company said.
  • A whitepaper from AMI-Partners notes managed services providers (MSPs) are partnering with ISVs, such as BitTitan, Microsoft and SkyKick, to help migrate SMBs to cloud-based email and productivity offerings. “By using a suitable tool, MSPs reported being able to save an average of 18 hours on a typical SMB migration project,” AMI-Partners stated.
  • The vast majority of companies lack complete commitment to the DevOps process, according to a survey undertaken by 2nd Watch, a cloud consulting firm based in Seattle. The survey of more than 1,000 IT managers and directors found 78% of the respondents said separate teams still manage infrastructure/operations and application development. About 30% of the respondents said they use a manual process for deployment, while 70% use some form of an automated pipeline.
  • Tufin, a provider of network security policy orchestration technology, rolled out a program to support partners deploying, configuring and customizing its orchestration suite. The Service Delivery Partner Program has structured the program with two tiers — Service Delivery and Service Delivery Plus — and offers certification, professional services business referral opportunities, and access to best practices and tools among other benefits, Tufin said.
  • Data management vendor DefendX Software is targeting partners such as cloud and managed services providers with a new channel program. The DefendX True Partner Program provides deal protection, lead sharing and new customer incentives.
  • Chicago-based Telecom Brokerage Inc. (TBI) inked a distribution deal with Canadian communications provider Shaw Communications. Under the agreement, TBI’s agent and value-added reseller partners can offer Shaw’s data solutions in Canada.
  • Accenture has agreed to acquire DesignAffairs, a strategic design consultancy in Germany. The deal aims to bolster Accenture’s smart products and services initiative, Accenture Industry X.0.
  • Agosto Inc., a cloud services and development company in Minneapolis, said it has named Rick Erickson chief cloud strategist. Erickson, Agosto’s co-founder, focuses on the Google Cloud Platform in particular.
  • Atera, an IT automation platform vendor that targets MSPs, launched a chat feature that the company said service providers can use as a self-service tool for their customers.
  • Aparavi, a SaaS-based active archive startup, rolled out a program for service providers. Aparavi Advantage offers marketing support, training and sales assistance.
  • Telehouse America, a data center and managed IT services company, has expanded its alliance with Atlantic Metro into areas including SD-WAN and object storage.

Market Share is a news roundup published every Friday.

Cloud MSP Burwood Group taps HyperGrid for orchestration offering

Cloud management platform provider HyperGrid is putting a special focus on cloud MSP partners as it build out its channel strategy.

HyperGrid, which offers IaaS, PaaS and application management services, currently does business with a handful of cloud MSPs worldwide. HyperGrid also has alliances with systems integrators, IT consultancies and value-added resellers, with about 80% of HyperGrid’s go-to-market activities involving a partner in some way.

Manoj NairManoj Nair

“We are trying to build a real joint offering with [MSPs] using our technology platform rather just using them as a channel,” said Manoj Nair, chief product officer at HyperGrid.

While the HyperGrid platform provides a broad set of capabilities, such as cloud cost management, cloud application management and governance services, Nair said MSPs can break down the platform into a set of services to package into offerings. He pointed to HyperGrid’s alliance with Burwood Group, an IT consultancy and cloud MSP based in Chicago. The vendor’s HyperCloud intelligent cloud management platform serves as the cornerstone for Burwood’s cloud orchestration services.

Chris PondChris Pond

Chris Pond, president of cloud services at Burwood Group, said the company evaluated a number of cloud management platforms, including options from VMware, Red Hat, Dell, RightScale, Scalr and Cisco, before selecting HyperGrid’s technology. “The right platform is what fits your organization, your skill sets, your customer base — keep going down the list,” Pond said. “The market of [cloud management platforms] is changing every single day right now, and it’s rapidly improving its offerings.”

HyperGrid stood out on a number of fronts. Among them, Pond said, was the platform’s ability to address governance-, policy- and security-oriented issues relevant to Burwood Group. Additionally, the company liked that the cloud management services platform can quickly create templates, integrate with multiple other platforms and pull in software containers.

Pond noted that Burwood is finding opportunities to enable customers’ migrations to public cloud environments. The company focuses primarily on the healthcare and manufacturing verticals. “Particularly in that healthcare space, the ability to bring in policy, governance, security and basically that crossover of SecOps and DevOps with a platform like HyperGrid, we feel like that’s a big catalyst for healthcare to adapt to public cloud environments, much more aggressively than they have in the past.”

Burwood sees several customer opportunities in the marketplace, including those related to the “public cloud backlash,” Pond said. Customers “made this mad rush to a public cloud environment. They aren’t getting the cost benefits … because they never did it in a well-thought-out, manageable way … and they are paying these huge bills in their public cloud environment that they have no understanding of or control over.”

Pond sees an opportunity to target customers that are beginning to retreat from the public cloud and show them another way.

Say goodbye to UEBA?

A new report from Trace3, an IT services and solutions provider based in Irvine, Calif., suggested organizations take a hard look at user and entity behavior analytics (UEBA) products.

“At this time, it is not recommended to rely solely on a stand-alone, pure-play UEBA product, as these have a limited market window before being absorbed or evolved into a larger security platform,” the report, “Security Operations in Flux,” stated.

UEBA offerings create a baseline of normal behavior for users and entities, such as endpoints, and then flag anomalous behavior. Market researcher Gartner defined the UEBA category as an expansion of the original user behavior analytics (UBA) tools segment.

But the UEBA category has transitioned since 2016, according to Trace3. Those shifts, the report said, include UEBA products adding security information and event management features, SIEM offerings adding UEBA capabilities and UEBA features melding into other security platforms, such as cloud access security brokers.

This consolidation could see the demise of UEBA as a distinct product category. The Trace3 report cited Gartner’s UEBA prediction that the market will disappear by 2022.

UiPath, Booz Allen join up for federal RPA

UiPath, a robotic process automation (RPA) vendor, unveiled a partnering arrangement with Booz Allen Hamilton in the federal government market.

Under the partnership, UiPath, based in New York, will provide its software, while Booz Allen, based in McLean, Va., will contribute its management and IT consulting services. The alliance is among the latest in a series of linkages uniting vendors and partners in the RPA space. Partnering activity has expanded as the RPA industry shifts from pilots to enterprise deployments.

UiPath and Booz Allen began working together earlier this year. The companies had begun deploying RPA at large federal healthcare agencies and within the Department of Defense, according to executives at both firms.

The executives said RPA can be used in a range of desktop and back-office processes. The fastest ROI, they said, will be in repetitive digital worker processes, such as HR onboarding and offboarding, supply chain, data management, financial forms and applications. Back-office applications related to field response, IT service and customer service are also in the works, they added.

UiPath and Booz Allen will make their products and services available via the General Services Administration schedule and other contracting vehicles.

Reports: Employee, customer experience need improvement

Channel partners looking to successfully hire and hold on to top talent should make sure they aren’t treating their employees like the cobbler’s kids.

A new Harvard Business Review Analytic Services report, which Insight Enterprises commissioned, noted 58% of respondents said their organization’s technology offerings “factor into a candidate’s decision to take the position.” At the same time, however, a bit more than half the respondents cited “outdated and inadequate office technology” as a hurdle in retaining skilled employees.

The results come from an online survey of 241 U.S. business executives, managers and consultants.

Customers, however, are also in need of better experiences. Ninety-five percent of the organizations polled by Avanade and Sitecore said their customer experience is in “critical need of improvement.” That finding is based on a survey of 1,440 CIOs, CTOs and chief marketing officers.

Other news

  • Dimension Data and its Merchants subsidiary disclosed the acquisition of Millennium 1 Solutions, a business process outsourcing firm based in Toronto. The company was sold by The Gores Group.
  • Maxta Inc., a hyper-convergence software vendor, has inked a reseller agreement with Connection, a solutions provider in the business, government and education markets. In addition, the company said Arrow Electronics will offer Maxta hyper-convergence software and preconfigured systems.
  • Azuqua, a cloud-based business automation company, launched the Azuqua Connect Partner Program for SaaS vendors and their services partners. Early partners can receive a referral incentive of 20% of year-one subscription revenue, Azuqua said. Adobe, Allocadia, Widen, Workfront and Zendesk are among the SaaS vendors that have joined the program.
  • Advanced Credit Technologies Inc., a developer of identity access management software, has launched a channel initiative, signing partner agreements Synnex, Software & Peripherals LP and Network America Inc.
  • Scalr, a hybrid cloud management vendor, said the latest enhancements of its platform will help partners assess customers’ cost vulnerabilities and control costs. The platform now provides greater visibility and budgeting for infrastructure and services not under Scalr management, Scalr said.
  • Security vendor Barracuda Networks added a new PhishLine offering that targets customers with less than 1,000 employees. PhishLine is Barracuda’s phishing prevention product line.

Market Share is a news roundup published every Friday.

Sophos partners adopt MSP model as clients outsource security

The roster of Sophos partners grew 30% year over year as the company cites the increasing importance of the managed service provider business model.

Sophos Ltd., based in the United Kingdom with its primary U.S. offices in Boston and Santa Clara, Calif., said its partner base expanded to 39,000 partners by the end of its March-ended 2018 fiscal year, compared with 30,000 partners in the previous fiscal year. Active partners, which the company defines as those conducting five or more transactions over a trailing six-month period, increased to 7,000 in fiscal 2018, up from 6,100 for the previous year — about a 15% lift.

Amid the channel growth, MSPs are standing out as a partner category. Kendra Krause, vice president of global channels at Sophos, said Sophos executives attending the company’s recent partner conference in Las Vegas reported numerous conversations around the MSP model.

Sophos partners adopt the MSP model

“We actually compared notes: The executive staff all said in almost every conversation they had with a partner, that partner is either an MSP today or is building out a practice to be an MSP,” Krause said. “It’s absolutely an area where we are going to double down on and continue to invest in.”

Sophos has previously taken steps to engage with MSPs. In 2016, the company unveiled an MSP addition to its partner program. And in 2017, Sophos launched a program for cloud security providers, offering back-end financial incentives to partners driving customers to purchase Sophos products via the Microsoft Azure or Amazon Web Services cloud marketplaces. Krause said MSPs are getting involved in the cloud security program.

“Our MSPs are now reaching out into the public cloud,” she noted.

Krause said the MSP model has become more important as more small and midmarket companies outsource security to external providers.

Our MSPs are now reaching out into the public cloud.
Kendra Krausevice president of global channels, Sophos

“Security is getting very complicated … and most customers would much rather find an expert in that industry,” Krause said. “If you look at the small and medium-sized businesses out there … they are looking for that outsourced capability.”

As a result, more channel partners are becoming MSPs, Krause explained. MSPs, she added, can manage multiple customers from one customer dashboard, the Sophos Central management console.

What’s next for Sophos partners?

This year, Sophos partners can expect to see the vendor add more features to its Synchronized Security approach, in which security components such as endpoint products and firewalls communicate with each other to block threats. Krause said Sophos aims to turn Synchronized Security into a “very adaptive security approach by tying in machine learning.”

The security vendor also plans to provide Sophos partners with greater access to its in-house experts. In one example, the Sophos Channel Service Center provides marketing support for partners looking to create customized content or host events. In addition, a Sophos intelligence team, which has been made available to Sophos’ Platinum and national partners, assists partners in competitive situations, providing information on products or specific product features so partners can be more knowledgeable on sales calls, Krause noted.

Sophos partners can also expect to see more content syndication.

“One of the things we are doing is trying to give partners more access to the SophosLabs team and the first way is to syndicate content,” Krause said. Partners can drop a line of code into their websites to add content from SophosLabs’ Naked Security blog, she said.

Use of managed services among SMBs.
Most small and midmarket companies use or have considered using managed services, a pattern that Sophos suggests holds true in the security space.

Acquia boosts focus on joint partner solutions

Acquia, a Drupal-based digital experience platform provider, is amid a new evolutionary stage of its channel strategy.

Acquia is trying to increase the momentum it experienced last year when it added more than 430 new customers spanning a variety of geographical markets and industries. New customer acquisitions included Wendy’s fast food restaurant chain, German multinational pharmaceutical and life sciences company Bayer AG, fantasy sports contest provider DraftKings, and the University of Denver, said Joe Wykes, senior vice president of channels and commerce at Acquia, based in Boston.

“There are probably very few industries today where I would say we aren’t active, although some, of course, are faster in terms of their growth and development than others,” Wykes said.

He approximated that about 60% of those new customers originated from Acquia’s partners, a percentage the vendor wants to enlarge. Acquia’s channel ecosystem consists of about 350 partners — primarily digital marketing agencies but also a growing number of systems integrators and consultancies. Acquia also maintains a legacy partner community of web development companies that Wykes said continues to play an important role.

One of the areas Acquia is focusing on is developing joint solutions with partners, “where we have technology that … can run as a service inside of an integrator or an agency,” Wykes said. He noted, for example, a New York-based digital agency that has begun offering Acquia’s customer journey orchestration as a service to a client.

In terms of recruitment, Acquia is “paying close attention to our competitive landscape” and snapping up competitors’ partners. He cited recent moves from Sitecore, which has “been off pursuing only the very large global integrators.”

“That leaves a lot of their traditional partners in the dust, which has been just fine for us,” he said.

2nd Watch rolls out DevOps toolkit

2nd Watch, an MSP in Seattle, has launched two cloud automation services to automate core DevOps and cloud infrastructure management functions.

Jeff Aden, founder and executive vice president of marketing and business development at 2nd WatchJeff Aden

The offerings, 2nd Watch Modern CI/CD Pipeline and the 2nd Watch Machine Image Factory, were developed over the course of multiple customer engagements, said Jeff Aden, founder and executive vice president of marketing and business development at 2nd Watch. The services may be deployed on Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure or multi-cloud infrastructure, according to the company.

Aden said a company survey revealed that only about a quarter of companies that believe they are practicing DevOps actually are using the software development approach. The new services, he added, are “a way to help companies have a common tool set to be able to really accelerate their transformation toward a more DevOps practice.”

The new services take advantage of such technologies as Packer, Ansible and Terraform.

Other news

  • Cybersecurity vendor Fortinet bolstered its resources for managed security service provider (MSSP) partners. Fortinet’s MSSP program introduced a Silver Level tier, which the vendor said offers an entry path for value-added resellers and MSSPs transitioning to services-based businesses. Additional resources included service enablement starter kits for multi-cloud, SD-WAN, automation and secure access for IoT and operational technology; a new consumption-based licensing model for customers; and U.K. expansion of the Fortinet Veterans program for helping military veterans enter the cybersecurity industry.
  • Reliam LLC, a consulting and managed service provider based in Los Angeles, has appointed Ted Stuart as chief revenue officer as part of a broader effort to build out the company’s sales and marketing teams. Stuart joins Reliam from Daz Systems, where he was senior vice president of sales. The sales and marketing effort follows Reliam’s recent acquisitions of Stratalux and G2 Tech Group. The merged companies provide managed services around the Amazon Web Services cloud platform.
  • UK Backup Ltd., a cloud backup services provider based in the United Kingdom, is using Asigra software to deliver what Asigra said is the first managed backup offering to protect data in Office 365 Groups. The arrangement focuses on Asigra Cloud Backup v14. The service will be offered in the U.K. and other countries.
  • Ubersmith, a subscription business management software company based in New York, is partnering with Affirma Consulting. Affirma Consulting, based in Bellevue, Wash., will provide customization services such as integrations and software development. With the addition of Affirma Consulting, Ubersmith now has 30 participants in its partner program, which launched six months ago.

Market Share is a news roundup published every Friday.