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Slugfest: Should You Choose Google Apps or Office 365 for Work?

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In the early days of the Web, the cloud was too slow for interactive productivity tools. Now it’s way better and Google and Microsoft are in a pitched battle for cloud productivity supremacy.

Microsoft Office has ruled the productivity software roost for over a quarter century. The cloud may be the one opportunity for an upstart, say Google Apps, to upset that apple cart. That’s why the search giant launched Google Apps as a beta in 2006. Four long years later, it came out of test mode and became a commercial product which has been on a roll ever since.

Microsoft apparently wasn’t happy watching Google come out with cloud productivity apps that mimicked the Microsoft suite. In no time flat, Microsoft had Office 365, its complete end user set of productivity apps with some server goodies thrown in for good measure. In fact, Office 365 shipped only a year after Google Apps went commercial.
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Why MSPs Should Rule the IT World

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MSPs are clearly on the move. Seeing the value of outsourcing, SMBs and larger shops alike are moving in droves towards managed services. At the same time though, too many organizations do the things the old way, having understaffed IT teams struggling to keep things running – and not availing themselves of state-of-the-art managed services.

There are two problems IT needs to overcome, both of which are solved by managed services. First, it’s hard for small overstressed teams to secure the network, ensure performance, and fix all the problems that constantly arise. The bigger issue is this struggling IT team has virtually no time to think strategically. That leaves them both vulnerable and at a huge competitive disadvantage in their industry.
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How Changing SMB Client Requirements Are Reshaping the MSP Market

A lot of the time, we can get caught up in discussions about ‘hot’ markets for MSPs – and the list is growing, from security to cloud to mobile to firewall management.

But it’s important to level set occasionally.  The reason these markets are hot is because the technology requirements of small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) that MSPs serve is undergoing a sea change.

SMBs Now Have Enterprise Needs

Technological requirements that were once the needs of only large enterprises are now are becoming mainstream requirements for SMBs.

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GUEST BLOG: Become the Trusted Security Advisor Your Clients Need

These days, every organization needs someone they can trust for advice on IT security. Global enterprises like the Wall Street banks can afford to put one or more trusted security advisors on staff; but down on Main Street, most folks have to look outside the organization for trusted security advice, just as they do for trusted IT advice. And that represents a great opportunity for MSPs who make the right investments in security knowledge and offer the right mix of security solutions.

Traditionally, anti-malware has been the leading edge of security selling by MSPs and it still represents a golden opportunity for adding revenue to IT contracts, if you can get past some of the current linguistic confusion about malware protection. Here’s how I would boil it down for prospective clients: “the best way to keep malicious code off your systems is a properly licensed, appropriately configured, fully-supported anti-malware solution that is both comprehensive and centrally managed.” And in my opinion, the best way to implement this approach in all but the largest organizations is through an MSP who really understands the security landscape and can offer the kind of flexible billing that today’s business environment demands.

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Security You Can Take to the Bank

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How Banks and Credit Unions Can Safeguard Data and Ace Audits

In today’s rough and tumble environment where hackers no know bounds, every financial institution, regardless the size, has to beef up security and remain ever vigilant.

According to recent surveys, 83% of the financial leaders who responded felt that data is their most important asset, and 79% said that having a strong technology infrastructure was critical to ward off cyberattacks. Unfortunately while most feel that security is a top IT budget priority, fewer than one in five believe they have strong security in place.

It shouldn’t be that way – nor does it need to be. Smaller banks may feel that they can’t afford to implement measures to detect and prevent security breaches. The truth is they can’t afford not to. Let’s look at why security is so important to financial institutions, and how even the smallest institutions can achieve their security goals without “breaking the bank.”

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The Patch Management Crisis and How to Solve It

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Most end users, and even some IT pros, feel pretty safe if they have up-to-date anti-virus/antimalware, firewalls turned on, and complex passwords in place. This overlooks one of the biggest threats to your PC and network – poor or non-existent patching.

The vast majority of successful exploits are against unpatched machines, some 85% according to US-CERT, part of the US Department of Homeland Security.

Why is This So Bad?

While viruses can be a nuisance (and often worse) to unprotected machines, the kind of attacks aimed at unpatched machines can be far worse. These are targeted at doing real damage – stealing data, escalation of privilege, releasing bots, gaining deep entry into the network, and worse.
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Hottest 2016 Markets for the Ambitious MSP

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Two top organizations that carefully track Managed Service Providers (MSP) and the channel recently released their research and views on the hot technologies for 2016. These predictions aren’t ironclad, but they do give some insight into what the market and IT consumers are thinking. You might even get a new business idea or two from these lists.

Smart MSPs don’t stand still. Often they launch new services that are adjacent to ones they already have, making an easy and natural extension for existing clients. Some take a bolder stance, and go into brand new businesses that are hot, but have little to do with the existing service portfolio.

CompTIA, a long standing organization that serves the channel, releases its IT Industry Outlook 2016, an annual report. This free, extensive report, examines the overall IT market, the state of the channel, and the hottest technologies.

Meanwhile the Channelnomics Top Technologies for Growth in 2016 report is available for free in its executive summary form.

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The Encyclopedia of MSP Measurement

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The famous business book “Managing by Measuring,” by Mark T. Czarnecki, praises the virtues of tracking operations and making decisions based on what you can learn from measurements. Smart MSPs do the same thing, and use many metrics to drive strategies and shorter-term tactics.

These metrics and Key Performance Indicators (KPI) define how well the organization is doing, and are critical to assessing your company’s value.

There are so many available metrics, that you can waste a lot of valuable time trying track them all. Instead choose the metrics that fit your company, and track those closely. We bring you 15 of our favorites.
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Making Sense of MSP Merger & Acquisition Mania

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M&A activity is remaking the MSP competitive landscape, with new announcements made almost daily.  MSPs ignore this ongoing M&A ‘mania’ at their own risk. Every MSP must evaluate all options and determine their preferred plan, whether it’s to buy, sell, merge, or stay the current course.

Let’s look at some of the pluses and minuses of for each option, factors to consider when evaluating the right approach, and leading drivers on valuations.

Evaluating Options

Not surprisingly, you need to determine your strategic end-game before evaluating which M&A option suits your MSP.  If you don’t know where you want to go, it will be very hard to find the right path.  Just to make thing more fun, there is often more than one way to get to your destination.
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6 Reasons MSPs Must Manage Office 365 – Right Now!

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Too many managed services providers (MSPs) are seeing tried-and-true revenue streams vanish as clients migrate to the cloud. Providers that manage desktop applications, for instance, can lose business when these customers move from on-premises versions of Microsoft Office to Office 365.

Instead of letting customers make this move under your nose, you should be pro-active. If they want to migrate productivity apps to the cloud, you might as well help in the move, and then offer ongoing Office 365 management services. This puts you in a leadership position, offers solid migration fees, creates a solid new source of recurring revenue, and puts you in a whole new business.

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