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5 Channel Ops: Microsoft Win Server End of Life Equals New Business5 Channel Ops: Microsoft Win Server End of Life Equals New Business

Plus: Selling services on Amazon, IBM’s IoT angle, Dell on site security and 3 savings ops.

Lorna Garey

April 3, 2015

6 Min Read
5 Channel Ops: Microsoft Win Server End of Life Equals New Business

9c63c2a3446b48dc875d48e5cbaf171d.jpgSilicon Valley execs, led by Salesforce CEO Mark Benioff, flexed their political muscle this week, protesting a new Indiana religious freedom law. Yesterday, political leaders in the state backtracked, announcing as-yet-unspecified changes that house speaker Brian Bosma said will ensure the statute “cannot be used to discriminate against anyone.” Benioff went so far as to approve a $50,000 relocation package for a Salesforce employee looking to move out of Indiana. Whatever your opinion of the law and others like it, one thing is clear: Tech leaders understand the power of social media, and they’re not afraid to wield it.

Amazon: Help Wanted

Providers that offer IT services to SMBs may want to check out Amazon’s new Selling Services category. Once registered, businesses are listed as providers of IT services ranging from iPhone repair to setting up a WLAN to computer configuration, tune-up and virus and spyware removal, to disk drive data recovery. Services may be offered at the provider site or, after a background check, at the customer’s location. Amazon encourages standardization of services and pricing but does allow for custom requests. There’s no charge right now to sign up or list services, and a transaction fee of about 20 percent to cover invoicing, payment processing and fraud protection is due to Amazon only once payment is received. Beginning in January 2016 there will be monthly subscription and background check fees. Amazon will limit the number of sellers in the program in each category, so best to move sooner than later.

Buh-Bye Win Server ’03

On Tuesday, Microsoft director of partner capability development Burke Fewel recommended that solutions providers start preparing customers for the approaching end of support (EOS) deadlines for the millions of Windows Server 2003 and SQL Server 2005 instances still running; EOL hits on July 14 and April 12, 2016, respectively. SQL Server is in the mix because it often makes sense to upgrade major applications in tandem with server OSes to avoid backward-compatibility problems. Microsoft obviously has an interest in selling upgrades – and possibly shifting some workloads onto Azure – and is offering its partners training and resources to help make these deals. However, this is also a great opportunity for solutions providers to advise customers. Lately, Microsoft has meant business with EOS, discontinuing security updates, which will affect PCI compliance at minimum and could leave companies open to attack. This isn’t like nursing along a few stray XP machines.

To help partners sell customers on upgrading, Microsoft is offering:

  • Marketing and sales materials focused on education;

  • An online workshop for data center, server virtualization, system management, and server platform competency partners on migrating from Server 2003 to Server 2012 and/or Azure, with a focus on supporting a hybrid cloud;

  • “modernize and automate” workshop focused on EOS issues, data center assessment, systems automation, self-service and the Orchestrator Runbook architecture; and

  • Product-focused learning paths for Server 2012, Azure, Office 365 and more.

Fewel suggests blocking out 9:30-10:30 a.m. Pacific time on April 21 for an EOS webcast; the company will post registration details on its partner-focused Twitter and Facebook channels 

Plus: If you have customers that adopted the Enterprise Cloud Suite Microsoft released in December, they may be better off with the new per-user SA license versus paying per device. The company also announced that Skype for Business will roll out as an update to Lync on April 14 as part of Office monthly updates.

IBM’s IoT Angle

If it seems you can’t escape the Internet of things, you’re right. It’s a hot tech media buzzword. However, it’s also barreling down on midsize companies from two directions — bubbling up from consumer devices ranging from the Nest thermostat to fitness devices and new automotive uses, and downstream via iterations of mature industrial machine-to-machine applications.

If you have customers that were blindsided by Consumerization 1.0, to which we owe BYOD programs, don’t let it happen again. Solutions providers are in a position to translate the hype into real business ops and decipher what various vendors have to gain. For Cisco, it’s networks to transport all that data. For carriers, it’s bandwidth. Now, IBM says it will invest $3 billion over the next four years to build an IoT division. For Big Blue, it’s all about data analysis, partly via a cloud-based open platform designed to help build vertical-focused IoT applications that take advantage of real-time data. IBM says that 90 percent of the data generated by smart devices and sensors is not acted on, and that 60 percent of this data begins to lose value if not used within “milliseconds of being generated.”

The program also incorporates IBM’s Bluemix PaaS for developers and, of more interest to the channel, an expansion of its ecosystem of IoT partners “from silicon and device manufacturers to industry-oriented solution providers,” including AT&T, to ensure secure and seamless integration of data services and solutions on IBM’s open platform.

For Security, Make Like an Onion

This week John Gordineer, director of marketing for Dell security products, posted a blog on the seven layers needed to protect websites from compromise, in support of the company’s new security ebook on cyberattacks. Gordineer makes some excellent points that solutions providers should convey to customers. Among them: A hacked website is not just a nuisance, it could have costly long-term implications. Day-to-day security is not about heroically repelling the NSA; it’s about stopping opportunistic criminals using generic off-the-shelf tools, in part by keeping scrupulously current on patches — a prime service opportunity for MSSPs. And, any site may be a target. Sure, attackers would love to get into Bank of America, but they’ll settle for a regional financial services firm.

Gordineer outlines seven steps that comprise a strong foundation for a layered defense in depth: gateway malware protection, patch management, automatically updated antivirus, Internet/Web content filtering, botnet filtering and deep packet inspection, GeoIP filtering and outbound email protection.

3 Bargain Bits

Some places to save a few bucks this month:

VMware will knock 50 percent off the cost of its VMware Certified Professional – Network Virtualization (VCP-NV) certification through June 30. And, if you hold a valid Cisco CCNA Data Center, CCNA Routing & Switching, CCNP Data Center, CCNP Routing & Switching, CCIE Data Center or CCIE Routing & Switching cert, you can apply it toward VCP-NV certification. Your move, Cisco.

Google this week rolled out new Chrome hardware, including two crazy inexpensive devices, the Haier Chromebook 11 and the Hisense Chromebook, both available for pre-order now for $149. The company says Chromebooks were the best-selling laptops on Amazon last holiday season and the No. 1 device in schools last year. That doesn’t surprise me — they really are ideal for the education vertical. It also announced a tablet hybrid, due later this spring for $249, and the diminutive Chromebit, a full computer on a stick coming this summer for less than $100.

JoinMe may not be new, but I just used the online meeting and screen-sharing service from LogMeIn for the first time this week, and I was impressed. If you or your customers are paying for more conferencing bells and whistles than you need, check it out. For about $15 per user per month, you get unlimited bridged audio conferencing with phone numbers in over 40 countries, the ability to record meetings and store them in the cloud (5 GB of storage is gratis, courtesy of Cubby), on-demand one-click scheduling with integration for Outlook and Google Calendar, apps for Android or iOS mobile devices, presenter swap and more. An enterprise offering for $19 adds additional management and security.

Follow executive editor @LornaGarey on Twitter.

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