June 19, 2015
I’m looking ahead to the Red Hat Summit in Boston next week (ulterior motive: checking out the venue, site of our upcoming Cloud Partners show.) If you’re attending, drop me a line. And if you missed Avaya’s Converge conference, check out coverage from my colleague Josh Long here.
The winner for most intriguing briefing of this week goes to JumpCloud CEO Raj Bhargava; if you haven’t heard of the company, check it out. Directory management is only getting more painful for your customers as they add cloud services, WLANs, remote employees and more mobile platforms. I hear there’s a JumpCloud channel program in the works, and the company is happy to hear from partners interested in a new way to authenticate people and devices. More to come in the next few weeks.
Datto in the Big Easy
BC/DR solutions provider Datto held its annual conference this week in New Orleans and unveiled five announcements around its Total Data Protection platform, which includes physical and virtual appliances, software and Datto’s more than 140-petabyte private cloud:
Datto Networking Appliance (DNA) Router: Offers remotely configurable 4G failover to eliminate the need to provision “just in case” circuits. The Datto DNA router can be configured from the cloud, reducing the need for manual onsite visits, decreasing downtime and providing a better experience for end users. General availability: this fall.
Datto Backupify for Office 365: In December 2014, Datto acquired Backupify, which makes cloud-to-cloud backup software. The new Datto Backupify for Office 365 delivers automated, secure backup for data stored in Office 365. Datto partners supporting Microsoft Office 365 will now be able to offer cloud-to-cloud backups, protecting customers from data loss due to human error, malicious deletions and viruses. The new product, available now, joins Backupify products for Google Apps, Salesforce and other SaaS applications.
File sync and share: Datto recently partnered with ownCloud, which provides open-source enterprise file sync-and-share software, to offer these capabilities on Datto SIRIS 1 and Datto SIRIS 2 devices. Datto partners can now offer their customers a seamless way to collaborate and share documents from anywhere, while storing data on their local SIRIS devices with a backup copy in the Datto Cloud.
Datto Linux Agent: Adds business continuity to Linux-based environments, in addition to Windows Server. Unlike competing solutions, the Datto Linux Agent features persistent incremental backups, integrated storage, cloud replication, individual file restores and instant local virtualization. MSPs working with Datto can use their existing Datto devices to extend protection to Linux. This new feature is available now.
Updated Partner Portal: The Datto Partner Portal gives MSPs a place to manage their entire fleet of Datto devices and services. With the upcoming addition of a Datto Activity Feed and other enhancements, MSPs can more easily see important notifications and updates, allowing for faster problem resolution and more efficient management. The updated portal is expected to be available this fall.
I spoke with Jim Turner, president of Hilltop Consultants, about the announcements. Turner called out the Linux agents, which will allow him to support mixed environments. “It will allow us to re-approach prospects that we weren’t able to fully serve in the past, as well as open up new opportunities,” said Turner, who adds that this ability to capture data from Linux servers in real time and quickly recover it is unique and will be attractive to smaller shops that have not invested in clustering. Turner, whose serves the legal vertical, also cited the ability to back up Office 365 and have that data available, even if the customer ends its relationship with Microsoft. “The ability to have a backup of email for discovery and retention is a huge win for us,” he said.
Turner’s also looking forward to delivering cost savings on Internet redundancy via the DNA router. “Right now, we provision two circuits, and that is sometimes cost-prohibitive,” he said; in some cases there’s not even an option for a second connection. “With DNA, we won’t have to have our client enroll a carrier contract for 4G service in case their primary connection goes down.” That could save $300 to $500 per month.
A bonus to the service: “We have used Datto to rescue multiple clients from CryptoLocker,” he says. “There’s no true defense, anyone is susceptible.” Rock-solid backups of data are the only real answer.
Asigra Launches New MSP Appliance
Continuing the backup beat, Asigra announced this week its Converged Data Protection Appliance for Managed Service Providers, aimed at catapulting MSPs and CSPs into the cloud backup/DR services market, with the attendant monthly recurring revenue. The purpose-built devices leverage a partnership with Avnet Embedded, which will ship the appliances and provide hardware support. Eran Farajun, executive VP of Asigra, said the appliance approach is a way to get cloud backup services “to market in days rather than months, with all of the Asigra marketing and sales support provided through our Hybrid Partner Program.” Asigra’s cloud backup software is popular, with more than one million production customer accounts. The hardware will ship in 1U, 2U and 4U form factors. All run FreeBSD and ZFS and deliver from 9.6 TB to 96 TB of billable capacity.
The systems support Windows, Linux, Mac, Android and iOS backups and include a cloud license server for easy provisioning, a billing module, a LAN storage discovery tool and a Web-based management console. The system can be run in public, hybrid and private clouds; is NIST FIPS 140-2 certified, with AES 256 encryption enabled for data at rest and in flight; and includes integrated VM replication and mobile endpoint geo-location/remote wipe capabilities.
“Asigra backup software has long been popular with cloud and managed service providers; however, it required a certain scale and expertise to set up and manage the required hardware,” says Kurt Marko of Marko Insights. “By introducing a converged appliance, Asigra has lowered the barrier to entry and enabled partners to easily add cloud-based backup service and scale capacity without software/hardware integration headaches. Asigra’s recovery-based pricing model also provides partners a point of differentiation, with low rates for fixed storage and incremental charges based on recovery volume and speed.”
Pricing for the appliances starts around $5,000 with general availability scheduled for August.
Plus: If you’re interested in helping customers with storage but at a slightly more modest scale, check out D-Link’s new ShareCenter DNS-340L Cloud Network Storage Enclosure. Billed as a solution for SMBs seeking a cost-effective iSCSI target for video-surveillance and other projects, the four-bay enclosure sports a 1.2 GHz CPU and 512 MB RAM and is available now for $299 exclusively through D-Link partners. This is a fairly full-featured device for the money; besides supporting surveillance it can act as a media and print, FTP or Web server, and free iOS and Android apps let users remotely stream multimedia content stored on a ShareCenter NAS to a mobile device. Storage expert Howard Marks points out that the system can replace cloud sync-and-share services like Dropbox, which can cause security problems.
Server 2003 Death Watch Commences
Sunday marked one month until Microsoft Windows Server 2003 hits its official end of life on July 14, 2015. That means no more patches, security updates or product support. Partners need to have a plan to migrate customers, either to Server 2012 R2 or to a cloud service. Hardware upgrades may be required for Server 2012. Customers that don’t update will be at risk if (really, when) attackers find new vulnerabilities in Server 2003 because Microsoft will no longer issue fixes. Anyone subject to PCI and still running Server 2003 in their cardholder data environments (including ecommerce systems) will be noncompliant on July 15 unless they apply sophisticated compensating controls that are certainly going to be more expensive than just updating the OS.
PC Connections offers a free assessment tool, and Microsoft has a variety of planners and reports to help customers understand why they really do need to let go. Free trials of Server 2012 R2 and Azure may help, too.
Health Care Going Digital
CVS Health announced this week the official opening of its Digital Innovation Lab in Boston, just a stone’s throw from the site of our Cloud Partners conference. The facility represents a doubling of the company’s digital investment. This week CVS also announced that it will buy Target’s 1,600 in-store pharmacies for $1.9 billion.
In a statement, the company said the lab will be focused on forwarding digital health through innovation in mobile, personalization, multi-channel e-commerce, connected health and digital therapeutics. “CVS Health plans to introduce a wide array of new digital services in the coming year and beyond, ranging from beacon capabilities that allow customers to receive in-store pharmacy reminders, to applications that turn mobile phones into remote diagnostic tools,” said the company in a statement. CVS Health services reach 100 million customers annually, and the company is looking to partner with “promising startups and mature companies alike in the digital and health care space.”
Health care-focused channel companies with customers doing innovative work in digital health may want to reach out.
Plus: If you serve the hospitality industry, check out a new white paper from researcher Technomic. According to more than 100,000 consumers polled by the firm’s Consumer Brand Metrics program, Millennials attached greater importance than the overall population to free Wi-Fi, online or mobile ordering and mobile payment — regardless of restaurant industry segment. The message: Digital innovation is mandatory across verticals.
Bits and Bytes
At its Connections Conference, Salesforce launched this week its Marketing Cloud; the idea is to provide a marketing platform that can integrate personalization, track the effectiveness of various campaigns and pull all employees into the selling process. The service includes email, social media and mobile marketing, predictive intelligence and a customer data platform that consolidates information into a single view. Pricing is a la carte, starting at $400 per month for email, mobile and web marketing. Even that baseline system enables personalized communications and includes campaign templates and A/B testing.
A new bug bounty program for Google Android devices is in place starting this week. For now, the Google payout covers only Nexus 6 and 9, but watch for expansion. Security-focused partners that submit code for a critical vulnerability plus a well-written CTS test and patch could earn as much as $8,000.
PSA: You may have noticed that Twitter has started auto-playing videos and GIFs, thankfully in mute mode. Because, apparently, Twitter isn’t enough of a manic firehose of information. The motivation, according to VentureBeat, is advertising. Fortunately, you can turn off autoplay in your app settings on mobile devices.
Stumped for a last-minute Father’s Day gift? Amazon’s Echo smart speaker keeps gaining functionality; Geekwire reports that it now integrates with Google Calendar. Amazon’s voice-activated device can also give weather, sports scores and traffic updates, tell jokes, and settle dumb bets by looking up info on Wikipedia. Oh, and it’s a top-notch music streaming speaker. It’s $199, or $149 for Prime members. For now, supplies are limited and purchase is by “invitation” only, so you’ll have to give dad an IOU, but judging by reviews, the Echo’s back-end capabilities are steadily improving. And it’s better than another tie.
Follow editor in chief @LornaGarey on Twitter.
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