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Word to the Wise IT Pro: Master the Cloud

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The world of IT is ever changing. Back when I started writing about computers in 1984, smart IT folks were leaving jobs managing mainframes and learning about microcomputers and early local area networks (LAN). That turned out to be a career blessing.

These days a transformation of the same magnitude is occurring in the form of the move from on-premises to cloud computing.

In the mainframe days, MIS Directors often were responsible for bringing in LANs, micro-based servers and PCs, and hired staff to manage all this. Mainframe operators, in the meantime, became LAN and application managers and PC technicians.
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Sagiss Makes Managing Office 365 into Growing Service with Kaseya 365 Command

 

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20 year-old MSP Sagiss is no stick in the mud and is always looking for new opportunities. These days the company is helping clients move to the cloud with its new Office 365 management service, made possible by Kaseya’s 365 Command.

We reached out to Sagiss CTO Jim Lancaster and service desk leader Javier Caporal to find out how 365 Command eases cloud transitions and helps clients exploit the full benefits of the Microsoft cloud suite.
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What Do SMB IT Departments Need from an MSP?

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SMB IT groups who try and go it alone find they can never keep up, never mind effectively get ahead. SMBs that contract with an MSP to outsource their IT operations have a much easier time. Their systems get fixed quickly and perform well. And these SMB get to keep up with new technologies such as cloud services and applications. This can lead the go-it-alone crowd to contract a case of “MSP envy.”

The only answer is to join the parade and find your own MSP.

This is a big decision. Chances are you’ll want to work with a provider for a number of years as switching MSPs can be plenty disruptive.
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Building and Tuning a High-powered Sales Engine

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Probably the single most important aspect of running a business is sales. Sales are the life-blood of the business:  without sales you don’t have customers; without customers, you don’t have a business.

And it doesn’t matter if you’re talking about a small MSP where the owner wears the sales hat or global MSP with a large international sales team: selling well depends on having the fundamentals right. Before you pick up the phone and make your first prospecting call, you need to prepare.  This means more than going to the prospects’ website and finding out the name of the IT person.
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Kaseya VSA: The Best RMM For MSPs

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What would an MSP be without an RMM? Not much. Fact is, remote monitoring and management solutions are the core of most MSPs’ operation. The RMM defines how much you can do with client networks and end points. And it defines the technician experience – how efficient and easy the RMM is to use.

With this in mind, Kaseya has been working night and day to improve Kaseya VSA, now on version 9.3 with 9.4 soon to come. Much of the work has been to fully tune VSA to suit the needs of MSPs. It truly is next generation RMM. That’s our view. Now independent consulting firm Clarity Channel Advisors has confirmed what we knew all along – that VSA is the best RMM solution an MSP can buy today.

Kaseya VSA faced off against Autotask, ConnectWise and SolarWinds MSP.
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Single Password = Security Failure: How Two-Factor Authentication Saves the Day

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Decades ago, hackers learned how to crack passwords, especially the ones that are overly simple or obvious. Did you know the most popular passwords are the most insecure? password1, 123456 and even default are still all too commonly used.

Weak passwords are a cinch to hack. But other approaches to hacking are nearly as easy. With social engineering, a hacker can masquerade as an IT admin and simply ask for your password over the phone or through email. This works far too often.

Then there are brute force attacks where a hacker tool simply makes password attempts automatically one after another until one works.

In fact, password hacking is so sophisticated that it took only ten days for a hacker group to crack 11 million passwords from the notorious Ashley Madison web site.
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How the Right PSA Can Drive MSP Growth

psa_blog_bigThe MSP market is growing fast. According to the report Managed Services Market by MarketsandMarkets, managed services will rise from $145 billion this year to $242 billion in 2021. That’s a healthy Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 10.8%.

Unfortunately not all MSPs are growing that fast, and many of those that do would love to grow even faster.

To take on new clients, your technical solutions, such as your RMM, have to scale to support that growth. However, there are also internal business issues and client business issues —such as contracts, billing and project management that ―have to scale as well. That’s where a Professional Services Automation (PSA) solution built especially for MSPs comes in. It makes running your operation more efficient and brings discipline to many business functions. And yes, that PSA will help you achieve growth goals and manage that growth.

Impediments to Growth

There are many hurdles that keep MSPs from growing at a healthy clip. One problem is not having the right business tool such as that MSP-specific PSA. Smaller MSPs don’t think they can afford a PSA, so don’t bother getting one. As you’ll learn later, price should be no barrier to gaining PSA capabilities – provided you choose the right vendor.
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The IT Guide to Cloud Uptime

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When you move mission-critical or even moderately critical applications to the cloud, uptime (and performance) is everything.

The cloud seems simple – after all, it acts as one big server and storage array in the sky, right? At a certain level, that is true. But this view obscures real complexity around: choosing the right cloud service, having a proper WAN, and managing and maintaining your cloud connections. At the same time, you need enough bandwidth so your latency-sensitive applications, such as VoIP, perform properly.

A half a decade ago, it seemed cloud services were going down left and right. Amazon Web Services was out for five days; Yahoo Mail had problems as did VMware’s Cloud Foundry development cloud. There are still sporadic issues on the cloud provider side, but at a much lower rate than five years ago. Even so, the largest enterprises find this unacceptable, and with their large budgets can afford a second provider that they can fail over to.
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The True Value of a NOC – Freedom!

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Only the largest MSPs have technical staffs that operate 24×7. These organizations can support clients night and day, and also handle issues that occur across a wide geographic area.

Most service providers don’t have that luxury. During off hours, client problems can remain unresolved. That might be fine for a mom and pop shop which closes down at 5 o’clock, but not so hot for larger clients whose work hours are far longer and more varied.

The answer is for the MSP to ‘renting’ a Network Operations Center (NOC) service through a third party.

A NOC, to put it simply, is the place from where services are managed and delivered. During normal work hours, this would all likely occur with the MSP’s direct staff. A third-party NOC is simply another location, managed by another company, where these same service functions can reside. The goal is that when a client has a problem, they should not know whether it is handled by the MSP directly or the third-party NOC service provider.
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How Higher Education IT Pros Can Ace the Distributed Endpoint Management Test

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IT pros in higher education are faced with challenges peers in other industries don’t usually worry about. In education, there are multiple constituencies which adds to management complexity, including administration, faculty, researchers, an ever-changing student body, and alumni and donors.

Beyond that, most colleges are non-profits, so budgets are always an issue. At the same, competition for students means that costs must be kept low, while at the same time the schools must embrace new technologies that provide competitive advantage.

The last two items, keeping costs in check and driving innovation are the tricky ones. That’s because too many higher education IT pros are constantly chasing down current problems, just trying to keep the wheels turning properly, and don’t have the time to explore new technology options.
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