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security incidents

I recently read Verizon’s 2014 Data Breach Investigations Report which investigated 63,437 confirmed security incidents including 1,367 confirmed data breaches across 50 organizations in 95 countries. The public sector had the highest number of security incidents, whereas the finance industry had the highest number of confirmed data breach incidents (no surprise there!). These security incidents were mostly one of the following:

  • POS Intrusions
  • Web App Attacks
  • Physical Theft/Loss
  • Miscellaneous Errors
  • Crimeware
  • Card Skimmers
  • Cyber Espionage
  • DoS Attacks

Given your industry and the size of your company, some of these may not matter to you (until they happen to you). But there are three types of security incidents that are universally applicable, especially in this age of exploding adoption of mobile devices. They are Insider Misuse, Physical Theft/Loss and Miscellaneous Errors. It just takes a single lapse in security measures for an organization, whether public, private or government, to end up in a story like this:

Iowa State DHS Data Breach – Two workers used personal email accounts, personal online storage and personal electronic devices for work purposes

Further elaborating on the “Insider Misuse” threat, the Verizon report adds that over 70 percent of IP theft cases occur within a month of an employee announcing their resignation. Such departing employees mostly steal customer data and internal financial information. This has been made easier for these employees by permitting them to use their personal devices, which walk out with them when they leave.

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Using Marketing and IT Automation with the Cloud to build really cool marketing campaigns

IT Automation

Marketing and IT are moving closer and closer in this current era of digital marketing. The amount of IT systems a marketer has to work with has grown exponentially. This also means the job of a marketer involves more and more close collaboration with the IT department. In this blog I’d like to share a bit of my experience as marketing automation expert for Kaseya and hopefully interest more people in joining the marketing automation movement.

Marketing automation leverages IT systems for marketing efforts in a similar way as Kaseya does for IT systems management. The idea is to automate process with the goal of reducing the manual efforts required to run marketing campaigns. There are many levels at which this can be achieved and I am proud to say that here at Kaseya, we have made immense steps over the past years in achieving higher levels of marketing automation.

It seems like ages ago (but actually isn’t) that marketing methodology was to send out manually printed batches of letters. Nowadays we have completely automated our marketing efforts. A good example of this is that we at Kaseya are constantly nurturing our customer database in our Netsuite CRM system (yes there is the first bit of cloud based IT) with our marketing automation solution, Marketo (and there is another one). Some of these marketing activities involve inviting customers for online webinars (another cloud based IT solution) or promoting the fact that we have a free cloud trial of our products available. I think that an important point to make here is that we believe that the future is in the cloud-based solutions and Kaseya is leading the industry in offering IT management cloud solutions. So we are not just promoting cloud-based IT solutions, we are also implementing them.

One of the interesting things is that this digital invasion into the marketing department has shown us that we cannot do without good IT support. Our jobs rely on the systems to be running, whether they are cloud based offerings that need to be online 24/7 or personal devices such as laptops and tablets that are used to create even more interesting campaigns. Also strong automation is making our lives much easier and as marketing automation expert, I always feel there is nothing cooler than a completely automated campaign that actually starts to live its one life and actually improves our service offering to prospects and customers. Also aspects of IT systems management such as reporting are things we as a marketing department also run into. Because just as IT wants to know what assets are being managed and how they are performing, so does marketing want insight into the running of campaigns and performance of these. Also, as with IT departments, we as marketers are also continuing to improve our process and to adapt to the changing business environment and resulting new opportunities.

Overall, the link between automated marketing, IT and the new cloud services can help marketing drive really cool marketing campaigns.

If you have any questions or would like to share your personal experiences either as a marketer or as an IT manager about marketing automation I’d love to read your comments.

MSP Best Practice: Thoughts on Being a Trusted Advisor

Kaseya

Nothing is more important for MSPs than retaining existing customers and having the opportunity to upsell new and more profitable services. The cost of customer acquisition can make it challenging to profit significantly during an initial contract period. Greater profitability typically comes from continuing to deliver services year-after-year and from attaching additional services to the contract as time goes on. Becoming a trusted advisor to customers, so that you are both highly regarded and have an opportunity to influence their purchase decisions, has always been important to this process.  However, how you become a trusted advisor and how quickly, depend on some key factors.

Challenge your customer’s thinking

According to Matthew Dixon and Brent Adamson, authors of “The Challenger Sale*”, it’s not what you sell that matters it’s how you sell it! When discussing why B2B customers keep buying or become advocates – in short, how they become loyal customers – the unexpected answer is that their purchase experiences have more impact than the combined effect of a supplier’s brand, products/services, and their value-add!

Not that these factors aren’t important – they clearly are vital too – it’s just that beyond their initial purchase needs, what customers most want from suppliers is help with the tough business decisions they have to make. This is especially true when it comes to technology decisions. The best service providers have great experience helping other, similar, companies solve their challenges and are willing to share their knowledge. They sit on the same side of the table as the customer and help evaluate alternatives in a thoughtful and considerate fashion. In short, they operate as trusted advisors.

The key is to start out as you mean to continue. How can you make every customer interaction valuable from the very outset, even before your prospect becomes a customer? Dixon and Adamson suggest the best way is to challenge their thinking with your commercial insight into their business. What might be the potential business outcomes of contracting your managed services? Yes, they will benefit from your expertise in monitoring and maintaining their IT infrastructure, but in addition, how can the unique characteristics of your services and your professional resources enable new business opportunities for them? What might those opportunities be?

Tools matter

Beyond insights gained from working closely with other customers, having the right tools can have a significant impact too. For example, there are monitoring and management tools that can be used to provide visibility into every aspect of a customer’s IT environment. But tools which are focused on a single device or technology area or are purely technical in nature, have only limited value when it comes to demonstrating support for customers’ business needs. Most customers have a strong interest in minimizing costs and reducing the likelihood and impact of disruption, such as might be caused by a virus or other malware. Being able to discuss security, automation and policy management capabilities and show how these help reduce costs is very important during the purchase process.

Customers who absolutely rely on IT service availability to support their business require greater assurance. Tools that cut through the complexity and aggregate the details to provide decision makers the information they care about, are of immense value. For example, the ability to aggregate information at the level of IT or business service and report on the associated service level agreement (SLA). Better still, the ability to proactively determine potential impacts to the SLA, such as growing network traffic or declining storage availability, so that preventative actions can take place. Easy to understand dashboards and reports showing these results can then be used in discussions about future technology needs, further supporting your trusted advisor approach.

With the right tools you also have a means to demonstrate how you will be able to meet a prospect’s service-level needs and their specific infrastructure characteristics, during the sales process. In IT, demonstrating how you will achieve what you promise is as important, if not more so, than what you promise. How will you show that you can deliver 97% service availability, reliably and at low risk to you and to your potential customer? Doing so adds to your trusted advisor stature.

Thought leadership

Unless you have a specific industry focus, most customers don’t expect you to know everything about their business – just about how your services and solutions can make a strong difference. They will prefer to do business with market leaders and with those who demonstrate insight and understanding of the latest information technology trends, such as cloud services and mobility, and the associated management implications. First, it reduces their purchase risk and makes it more likely that they will actually make a decision to purchase. Secondly it adds credibility, again enabling them to see you as a trusted advisor, one who demonstrates a clear understanding of market dynamics and can assist them in making the right decisions.

Credibility depends a lot on how you support those insights with your own products and services. Are you telling customers that cloud and mobile are increasingly important but without having services that support these areas? What about security and applications support?

Being a trusted advisor means that you, and your organization, must be focused on your customers’ success. Make every interaction of value, leverage the right tools and deliver advanced services and you will quickly be seen as a trusted advisor and be able to turn every new customer into a lasting one and a strong advocate.

Learn more about how Kaseya technology can help you create advanced managed services. Read our whitepaper, Proactive Service Level Monitoring: A Must Have for Advanced MSPs.

*Reference: The Challenger Sale, Matthew Dixon and Brent Adamson, Portfolio/Penguin 2011

What tools are you using to manage your IT services?

Author: Ray Wright

Using IT Management Tools to Deliver Advanced Managed Services

IT Management Tools

The managed service marketplace continues to change rapidly, particularly as more and more businesses are adopting cloud-based services of one type or another. The cloud trend is impacting managed service providers in numerous ways:

  • Cloud migration increases the potential for consulting projects to manage the transition but reduces the number of in-house servers/devices that need to be monitored/managed, impacting retainer-based revenues.
  • Service decisions are more heavily influenced by line-of-business concerns as customers shift spending from capital to operating expenses.
  • Service providers need be able to monitor and manage application-related service level agreements, not just infrastructure components.
  • Managing cloud-based applications is less about internal cloud resources and their configuration (which are typically controlled by the cloud provider) and more about access, resource utilization and application performance.

To address these challenges and be able to compete in a marketplace where traditional device-based monitoring services are becoming commoditized, MSPs must create and sell more advanced services to meet the changing needs of their customer base. The benefits of delivering higher value services include greater marketplace differentiation, bigger and more profitable deals, and greater customer satisfaction.

Advanced services require the ability to deploy a proactive service level monitoring system that can monitor all aspects of a customer’s hybrid cloud environment including the core internal network infrastructure, virtualized servers, storage and both internal and cloud-based applications and resources. Predictive monitoring services help ensure uptime and increased service levels via proactive and reliable notification of potential issues. Advanced remedial actions should include not only support for rapid response when the circumstances warrant but also for regular customer reviews to discuss longer term configuration changes, additional resource requirements (e.g. storage), policy changes and so on, based on predictive SLA compliance trend reports.

Beyond advanced monitoring, professional skill sets are also very important particularly when it comes to managing new cloud-based applications services. To be able to scale to support larger customers requires tools that can help simplify the complexity of potential issues and speed mean time to resolution. If every complex issue requires the skills of several experts – server, database, network, application etc., it will be hard to scale your organization as your business grows. Having tools that can quickly identify root-causes across network and application layers is vital.

Cloud customers are increasingly relying on their managed service providers to “fix” problems with their cloud services, whether it be performance issues, printing issues, integration issues or whatever. Getting a rapid response from a cloud service provider who has “thousands of other customers who are working just fine” is hard to do, especially as they know problems are as likely caused by customer infrastructure issues as by theirs. Learning tools help MSPs capture and share experiences and turn them into repeatable processes as you address each new customer issue.

Automation is another must have for advance service providers. Again, scalability depends on being able to do as much as possible with as few resources as possible. For infrastructure management, automation can help with service and application monitoring as well as network configuration management. Monitoring with application-aware solutions is an attractive proposition for specific applications. For the rest, it helps to be able to establish performance analytics against key performance indicators and diagnostic monitoring of end-user transaction experiences. For network management, being able to quickly compare network configurations and revert back to earlier working versions is one of the fastest ways to improve mean time to repair. Automating patch management and policy management for desktops and servers also results in significant manpower savings.

Finally, tools which help manage cloud service usage are also invaluable as customers adopt more and more cloud services. Just as on premise license management is an issue for larger organizations so cloud service management, particularly for services such as Office 365, is also an issue. Access to email accounts and collaborative applications such as SharePoint, is not only a security issue it’s also a cost and potentially a performance issue.

Developing advanced services requires a combination of the right skills, resources, processes and technology; in effect, a higher level of organizational maturity. Larger customers will tend to have developed greater levels of process and IT maturity themselves, in order to be able to manage their own growing IT environment. When they turn to a managed service provider for help they will be expecting at least an equivalent level of service provider maturity.

Having the right tools doesn’t guarantee success in the competitive MSP marketplace but can help MSPs create and differentiate more advanced services, demonstrate the ability to support customer-required SLAs, and scale to support larger and more profitable customers.

Learn more about how Kaseya technology can help you create advanced managed service. Read our whitepaper, Proactive Service Level Monitoring: A Must Have for Advanced MSPs.

What tools are you using to create advanced managed services?

Author: Ray Wright

Mobile App Management for Ultimate Control of Mobile Devices

Mobile Device Managment

If you ever want to see top notch diligence, watch a first time mom pack her toddler’s lunch box – at least in my house. She packs every snack and meal in separate pouches and in measured quantities. She keeps all the unhealthy high-sugar stuff out and includes all my son’s favorite foods so that he eats well even when she is not around. The only other time I witnessed such meticulous control on what goes, what doesn’t, and how much, was by the IT staff at my previous company that had 100,000+ employees globally.

IT administrators, as caretakers of enterprise IT infrastructure, have always wanted a close, tight and centralized control of every piece of IT asset to ensure business continuity, optimal performance, high productivity and bullet-proof security. As the size and complexity of infrastructure increases, the IT management challenges rise exponentially. Companies today extend mobile access to corporate data, along with company-owned mobile devices in many cases. About a decade ago companies trusted BlackBerrys for their secured encrypted access. There weren’t any third party phone apps that users could find and install by themselves on these devices. It was a thick-walled garden back then. But with the advent of Android, iOS and Windows mobile platforms the walls have come down and it has now become a fenceless park within a gated community.

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Why IT Operations Needs a Comprehensive IT Management Cloud Solution

Performance-related issues are among the hardest IT problems to solve, period. When something is broken alarm bells sound (metaphorically in most cases) and alerts are sent to let IT ops know there’s an issue. But when performance slows for end-user applications there’s often no notification until someone calls to complain. Yet, in reality, losing 10 or 15 seconds every minute for an hour is at least as bad as an hour of downtime in an 8 hour day. At least as bad, and maybe worse – there’s the productivity hit but there’s also significant frustration. At least when the system is really down, users can turn their attention to other tasks while the fixes are installed.

IT Systems Management

One reason why this remains an ongoing issue for many IT organizations is that there are few management tools that provide an overall view of the entire IT infrastructure with the ability to correlate between all of its different components. It’s not that there aren’t individual tools to monitor and manage everything in the system, it’s that coordinating results from these different tools is time consuming and hard to do. There are lots of choices when it comes to server monitoring, desk-top monitoring, application monitoring, network monitoring, cloud monitoring etc., and there are suites of products that cover many of the bases. The challenge is that in most cases these management system components never get fully integrated to the point where the overall solution can find the problem and quickly identify root-cause.

If IT was a static science it’s a good bet that this problem would have been solved a long time ago. But as we know, IT is a hot bed for innovation. New services, capabilities and approaches are released regularly and the immense variety of infrastructure components supporting today’s IT environments make it difficult for monitoring and management vendors to keep up. New management tools appear very frequently too, but the cost and effort of addressing existing infrastructures is often cost-prohibitive for start-ups trying to get their new management capabilities to market quickly.

The complexity and pace of change lead some IT organizations to rely on open source technologies and “freeware” with the benefit that capital costs or operational expenses are kept to a minimum. Yet the results of using such tools are often less than satisfactory. While users can benefit greatly from the community of developers, it’s often hard to get a comprehensive product without buying a commercially supported version. Another issue for open source IT management solutions is that they’re generally not architected to support a large and increasingly complex IT infrastructure – at least in a way that makes it possible to quickly perform sophisticated root-cause analyses. The result is that while the tools may be inexpensive, the time and resources needed to use them can be much greater and their impact less than satisfactory.

IT management is its own “big data” problem.

As IT infrastructure continues to become ever more complex, IT management is becoming its own big data problem. Querying an individual device or server to check status and performance may retrieve only a relatively small amount of data to be sent to the management or monitoring system; a small volume of data but likely a diverse set of information indicating the status of numerous parameters and configuration items. Polling mobile devices and desk-tops, servers, applications, cloud services, hypervisors, routers, switches, firewalls ….generates a whole lot of data, each different item having its unique set of parameters and configurations to retrieve. Polling hundreds, thousands or even tens of thousands of devices every few minutes (so that the management system will be current with device status) can create significant network traffic volume that must be supported without impacting business applications. On top of that the volume of data, the polling frequency, and the resultant velocity of traffic must be accommodated to support storage, trend analysis and real-time processing. System management information is usually stored for months or even years, in order that historical trends and analyses can be performed. But most importantly the management system needs to rapidly process information in real-time to correlate cause and effect, disable downstream alert and alarm conditions and perform predictive analysis so that valid messages can be proactively sent to alert IT ops. Now system management architecture becomes important. Add to that the need for flexibility to accommodate the ever changing IT landscape and management system design to support this “big data application” becomes a critical issue.

This, in part, is why IT management vendors are migrating their solutions to the cloud. As IT infrastructures continue to expand in terms of size, complexity and diversity the ability to support the volumes of data generated and the performance needed to undertake comprehensive root-cause analysis becomes more and more challenging for purely on-premise solutions. In addition, cloud solutions offer the promise of “best practice” advice that can only be derived from a shared-service model, with the caveat that security and privacy remain paramount.

Of course, cloud solutions, with their pay-as-you-use pricing and (on premise) infrastructure free installations are also becoming far more attractive than perpetual licensing arrangements. However, the bottom line is cloud-architected solutions are extremely extensible and able to more quickly and easily accommodate new functionality to the benefit of all users. Not the least of which is the ability to deploy better diagnostic tools and capabilities to support the needs of today’s diverse IT user communities for high levels of systems availability AND performance.

Author: Ray Wright

Why Successful Companies Think Small

Mike Walsh Keynote

Today’s guest blog post was written by Mike Walsh, Founder and CEO of Tomorrow, a consumer innovation research lab. Hear him present on what it takes to lead a 21st century IT organization in his keynote address at Kaseya Connect, “Business Re-Imagined.” This post first appeared on Mike’s blog.

Why do some companies survive and others simply crumple? And stranger still – for star-crossed giants such as Yahoo, RIM and HP – why did major investments in innovation not save them from being blindsided by the future? In my view – it is all a problem of scale. Big leaders favor big solutions for big problems. But just the like the Higgs Boson, sometimes in order to understand how dramatic transformations happen, you have to start by looking for things that are very small.

Top down strategy is sexy. Wall Street gets it, your board gets it, your employees get it – and most importantly if you happen to be the top dog at work – your ego gets it. But here’s the catch. You can spend a weekend retreat thinking about blue oceans, innovator’s dilemmas, and tipping points – but come Monday, you will be faced with a real challenge. How do you get the rest of the organization to change their thinking and behavior along with you?

Resist the temptation to simply create an innovation department. Creating a new department where all the fun stuff is going to happen is like announcing to the rest of your team that their contributions are soon to become irrelevant. Trust me – politics and bureaucracy will ensue. I call this the ‘Mirror Effect’. The bigger your innovation department, the more likely it will become a microcosm for all the things you are trying to change in the first place!

Successful companies think small. They focus on the most basic particle of change in the enterprise – the project. Money people like projects. They value them by analyzing their cash flows over time. But as a change agent in your business – you should learn to love them too. They are the building blocks of how interesting ideas gain mass, and become real. More importantly, the diversity and quality of projects in a business is the best litmus test for your company’s chances of surviving the future.

Here’s a thought experiment for you. Think of it as your own personal innovation Hadron Collider. Grab a piece of paper and rule a line down the middle. Write a list of all the projects you are managing or involved in at the moment. Now place the ones that are focused on protecting your existing business practices and fighting fires on the left. And now, add any of the remaining projects that involve new ways of making money, new markets or challenges to the status quo on the right. Review your results. How much of your time is spent on defending the past as opposed to building for the future?

Of course, it is not enough just to get excited about your particles of change without thinking about what makes for a great project. From our research at Tomorrow, we have observed that great projects are defined by five important characteristics.

They are:

  • Bottom up: championed by the people closest to the customer’s pain points
  • Horizontal : supported by a cross functional team of people from different parts of the business
  • Visible: transparent and actionable by the rest of the organization
  • Quantifiable: a clearly defined payback or monetary opportunity
  • Small: nimble, focused, and targeted to a well defined problem

For me – the real question at the heart of the business transformation debate is not how much money or resources you spend on coming up with new products or ideas – but how quickly can you innovate around your innovation process.

Business leaders today are under incredible pressure to perform against the backdrop of uncertain markets, changing patterns of customer behaviour as well as disruptive technologies. Frankly that calls for an entirely new type of enterprise – one that is flexible, adaptable, and natural born for the 21st century.

So, are you ready to re-imagine the way you do business?

The 5 Things Every CEO Needs To Know About The Cloud

Mike Walsh Keynote

Today’s guest post was written by Mike Walsh, Founder and CEO of Tomorrow, a consumer innovation research lab. Hear him present on what it takes to lead a 21st century IT organization in his keynote address at Kaseya Connect, “Business Re-Imagined.” This post first appeared on Mike’s blog.

By now, you have heard, read and seen more about the Cloud than you probably ever wanted. And, for those of you who live in corner offices – you are almost certainly wondering why everyone keeps bothering you with something that surely belongs in the dark realms of your IT department. But from Amazon’s new self-serve super computing platforms, Google’s low cost enterprise productivity tools to Apple’s vision for online entertainment – the Cloud is a business revolution that no CEO can ignore. Here is your cheat sheet on the top 5 strategic issues that you need to know about.

1. Cure Yourself Of Cubicles

A client of mine wanted to transform their staid bank headquarters into an office of the future. Most offices are designed to a simple formula – 70% desks and 30% communal spaces. The bank, to their credit – flipped the equation, replacing traditional cubicles with cafe style public spaces and meeting areas. Even better, in lieu of desks every employee was given a locker for their personal possessions and a Macbook Air to do their work. Staff loved the new offices – but there was just one problem. IT had installed old school productivity software on all the new Macbooks which ran unbearably slowly and at times, failed to work properly at all.

Just as important as rethinking the spaces you work in, is challenging the tools you work with. Meeting in cafes to discuss projects is great – but you have to go one step further. When your teams can easily collaborate on documents, projects and presentations by simply accessing a Web browser or mobile application – you can start really creating a culture of innovation and disruptive thinking.

2. Reboot Your IT Department

IT departments, until very recently, believed that their manifest destiny was to defend the fortress at all costs. The outside world was full of threats – hackers, viruses and malware – and their role was to build high walls that kept marauders out, and some of the wayward employees in. Things have changed. Instead of a fortress, the role of IT is closer to managing a marketplace. And more importantly – as any CEO or business leader will admit these days – the suits really need the geeks to make their innovation agenda a reality. Open digital platforms, data sharing with strategic partners or the adoption of new ‘software as a service’ tools are the mark of a 21st century company. And that requires a new type of IT manager.

Moving forward, you may no longer need massive server rooms in your building or teams of technicians to keep your fleet of devices and systems running. What you will need are smart, young technology innovators who can identify the best global enterprise platforms to partner with, assess the new generation Cloud based security risks, and help educate your people on how to manage passwords and their personal identities online. Put simply – this is a shift from ‘no’ to ‘know’.

3. Win On Customer Experience

How easy is it for your customers to do business with you? How many pieces of paper, forms, approval processes and other impediments to getting deals done has ‘traditional business practices’ put in the way of winning on customer experience? One of the great advantages of new Cloud based platforms is that they offer companies a chance to fundamentally transform how they engage, serve and ultimately delight their customers.

Here’s a simple example. Some time ago my company moved to Freshbooks – an entirely Cloud based invoicing platform. The benefits to my customers were immediate. Rather than paper invoices, my clients were emailed electronic invoices, which displayed in real time the status of payments as well as the entire history of prior billing transactions. From my perspective, there were also some unexpected benefits. The moment one of my clients receives and opens my invoice, I am informed – forever ending those infamous ‘cheque is in the mail’ or ‘your invoice never arrived’ conversations. Further, using clever comparative data analytics, I can also see how my business is performing on payment collections compared to other companies of my size and billings.

4. Disrupt Your Industry

If you could create a new product or service, at a fraction of the normal price but with a better service proposition for your customers – would you do it? Or would you wait for one of your competitors to disrupt your industry first?

Last week I was speaking to the CEO of an accounting software company. For many years they had enjoyed a comfortable business selling practice management software to accounting firms. However in recent years, new Cloud based platforms had made life difficult – not just for them, but for many of their clients. When I asked the CEO to explain – he said that the problem was not that their competitor was giving away partner editions of their software away for free but rather the existence of a cheap Cloud based solution had led to the creation of thousands of cut price accountants, working out of cafes who were now making life difficult for traditional, high cost bean counters. Take this as your warning – from professional services, to healthcare, finance and retail – the disruptive impact of the Cloud on your industry is only just beginning.

5. Move To A New Cost Curve

The final, and perhaps most important thing you need to know about the Cloud is its impact on costs. In a traditional IT based organisation, costs are a step function. Launching a new division, adding more people or planning a new product or service will in the short term dramatically shift your cost base to a new level, which over time is hopefully amortised over new revenue growth.

The Cloud offers leaders a very different calculus. Even the smallest of companies or startups can access world class applications, storage or computation services on a per user basis, allowing them to ramp up very quickly as demand increases. Think about it. Could Instagram have scaled to millions of users and sold for a billion dollars in twelve months on a traditional technology development model? And even if you can’t imagine how your organisation could innovate as nimbly as an Internet startup – what would happen if one of your competitors did?

The Cloud is not just a topic for technology types – the broader implications of on-demand, web delivered services is a strategic discussion that belongs in the boardroom, not in the basement.

Here’s my advice – plan an executive team meeting in the near future to brainstorm the issues raised by these five points, and while you are at it – put the most important question of all on the agenda. Can new technology not only change, but help you re-imagine the way you do business?

SaaSy and Smart

Is it time to get SaaSy and Smart with your IT Management solution?

Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) has become the solution for many areas of today’s businesses – CRM, HRM, ERP, Email, accounting, collaboration, field services, project management, office applications, recruiting, travel, etc., etc. Examples include Salesforce, NetSuite, BaseCamp, Office 365, Google Docs, QuickBooks, GoToMeeting, Concur, Taleo, Constant Contact; the list goes on. Arguably, most of these SaaS solutions are delivering the features, security, availability, and performance demanded by business managers. SaaS has become a way of improving services, freeing up resources, and reducing overall costs.

SaaS

So can SaaS for IT Management do this same thing for IT managers?

IT management is becoming increasingly challenging. Mobility, BYOD, virtualization, Cloud, the Internet of Things (IoT), etc. are all driving up IT complexity and making it difficult to keep management control. The technology is changing so fast it is impossible to keep up. Dr. James Canton, World Leading Authority on the Extreme Future, said, “Technology is changing at warp speed. If you were to disappear and come back after 90 days, the Net would have doubled, bandwidth would have increased by a third, and there would be a half a dozen innovations you would have missed.” If you are an IT Manager, you are afraid to take a vacation!

The right SaaS IT management solution may be just what is needed to help IT managers regain control of their ever-changing and complex world. With the right capabilities, SaaS IT management can allow the focus to be on keeping critical IT services working well for customers and users, rather than buying another tool, integrating another module, and updated another management software release.

Of course, for the hardcore IT manager, accessing his or her IT management solution from the cloud could be a bit scary. However, with the proper investigation and careful selection, SaaS is the IT Management answer for more and more IT organizations. But choosing the right solution can be difficult. So as you think about SaaS as a possibility, here are eight things to consider:

  1. SaaS Management Features: First and foremost, the SaaS solution must deliver the IT management features you need. It should be able to manage your entire IT environment – on-premise, cloud, and mobile – integrated into a single command center. It must allow you to manage every asset regardless of where it is: in the office, at home, or on-the-road. And you must be able to accomplish management actions with policy-based automation. Automation is the key to efficiency, and doing more with your current staff.
  2. Cloud Architecture: Look for a SaaS solution that is secure, reliable, and highly available. In particular, it must include secure, reliable access from the SaaS IT Management software to all of your IT assets, especially to the devices of your home office and mobile workforce. Technologies, such as FIPS certified 256-bit AES encryption, as part of smart agent technology, can allow easy anytime, anywhere, secure access.
  3. Breadth of Coverage: The SaaS IT management capabilities must be both wide and deep. Wide, meaning it addresses the full spectrum of management needs, such as monitoring, remote control, asset management, software deployment, patch management, anti-virus, backup, and security. And deep, meaning delivering these capabilities with a strong set of features — as in policy-based, automated deployment, configuration, execution, update, log, reporting, monitoring and remediation.
  4. Well Integrated: Too often, SaaS IT management offerings are limited to one or two functions. They provide remote control, or anti-virus, or patch, but do not integrate them all together. Insist on an integrated answer. Avoid choosing a SaaS solution that still requires inefficient, ineffective, “swivel-chair” or “Ctrl Alt” management.
  5. Manages Diverse Platforms: The platforms and devices you need to manage continue to proliferate. Windows and Linux, PCs and Mac, Android, iOS, Windows, Blackberry mobile devices, networks, storage, servers, applications, physical and virtual – all need to be covered by the SaaS solution. With many companies moving to BYOD (Bring-Your-Own-Device) and the IoT (Internet of Things), the challenge will only become greater. The SaaS vendor must be able to address these diverse platforms today, and have an architectural approach and a vision to cover your future needs.
  6. Fast Time-to-Value: One of the key reasons to move to a SaaS IT Management solution is agility, the ability to respond to demands, and move quickly. This can only be achieved if the SaaS vendor has the deep discovery, policy-based automation, and templates to help you begin managing new infrastructure and assets quickly and easily. Ease of implementation is key here.
  7. Simple Pricing: Avoid complex pricing models, based on a confusing selection of management modules, devices priced by size, number of CPUs, admin and user seats, etc. It will be difficult to keep track, and over time, your costs will grow beyond where you intended. Look for complete management packages, with simple pay-as-you-go, device-based pricing modules.
  8. SaaS Philosophy: Choose a SaaS IT management provider who is committed to SaaS, and has the financial strength to stay the course. A vendor with a focus on SaaS is more likely to have the architectural design, multi-tenancy, scale, security, and reliability features to ensure a positive experience today and tomorrow.

These eight areas provide an overview of the top considerations for SaaS IT Management. Over the coming weeks, I will explore each of these areas in a bit more depth. In the meantime, visit the Kaseya SaaS solution area to explore:

Give us your thoughts on SaaS!

Author: Tom Hayes

Get on the Path to Become a Kaseya Certified Administrator at Kaseya Connect

Did you know that Kaseya Connect attendees can also register for valuable pre-conference training? Make the most of your trip to Las Vegas by taking advantage of one of Kaseya’s pre-conference training options. Registered Kaseya Connect attendees may choose from the following courses:

training

Kaseya Certified Administrator (KCA): Test Prep and Exam

April 12 – 13, 2014, Mandalay Bay, Las Vegas

Special Kaseya Connect Pricing: $995

This 2-day training class is for experienced Kaseya administrators who do not need a training program, but simply want to take the Kaseya Certified Administrator exam. Attendees will use this session to understand how the exam is structured, review key concepts on the exam, and then sit the exam.  This session is for those already experienced with Kaseya Virtual System Administrator (VSA) and already comfortable with general system configuration, agent deployment, audit, live connect and remote control, and have strong exposure to functions such as Patch Management, Ticketing, Info Center, Monitoring, and Agent Procedures.  During this test prep session, candidates will be provided with the virtual lab environment utilized for the practicum on the exam, and run through sample hands-on exercises to prepare.   On day 2, participants will take the Kaseya Certified Administrator exam, proctored by a Kaseya representative.  Note: A “pass” on the exam is not guaranteed, but for those who do not pass, the training platform and a re-test will be extended for 30 days after the conference.

Kaseya Certified Administrator (KCA): Quick Start Boot Camp 

April 12 – 13, 2014, Mandalay Bay, Las Vegas

Special Kaseya Connect Pricing: $1500 (a $2500 value)

During this expert led, 2-day in-person workshop, administrators who are new to Kaseya will get started on the path to becoming a Kaseya Certified Administrator through an introduction to the core functions of the VSA. Topics will include Agent Deployment, Views, Templates, Agent Menu, Audit, Remote Control, Live Connect, Patch Management, Monitoring, Policy Management and Agent Procedure. Participants will be provided with a virtual lab environment and hands-on lab exercises during the course. After the course, participants will be given 90-days of access to the virtual lab environment, during which the remaining hands-on labs can be completed while preparing for the KCA exam. Students will have one attempt at the KCA exam during their training period.

Don’t miss the opportunity to combine valuable training with your Kaseya Connect registration while our early bird conference rate is still in effect through February 28. Register now for Kaseya Connect and our pre-conference training to guarantee your seat. Space is limited, and participation is reserved on a first-come first-served basis, so sign up early.

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