6 Channel Ops: AT&T's Priv Exclusive, CompTIA Triple Threat

Ransomware is back, now even more maddening! Plus: Druva adds Azure option, more.

Lorna Garey

November 6, 2015

8 Min Read
6 Channel Ops: AT&T's Priv Exclusive, CompTIA Triple Threat

Lorna GareyRemember CryptoWall ransomware? It’s back with a vengeance, says security firm Bitdefender. This time around, CryptoWall 4.0 encrypts the names of files along with the data — want to know what’s locked? Too bad, you just get a list of random numbers and letters. And it will cost customers $700 in Bitcoin, sent to a Tor site within three days, to get their data back.

Bitdefender says CryptoWall has been active since April 2014 under three known versions. It has inflicted more than $1 million in losses every month in the United States alone, according to the FBI. It uses RSA-2048 encryption, so forget cracking the algorithm.

The (sort of) good news is that the propagation method has not changed: Most infections come from an employee opening an infected email attachment. This prevention advice still stands.

Still Miss Your Physical Keyboard?

Today AT&T becomes the first U.S. carrier to offer the new BlackBerry Priv. I know what you’re thinking, but stay with me here. The device is not your father’s BlackBerry. It sports a 5.4-inch curved Gorilla Glass screen and runs Android 5.1 — and the million or so Play Store apps. The QWERTY keyboard slides out from under the display and can be used as a trackpad. No more smudgy screen.

Playing on its reputation for security, RIM included a function to monitor the Priv’s security level and show exactly what apps are accessing the microphone, location, camera and other functions. It’s got an 18 megapixel camera, up to 22.5 hours of power, and the ability to expand the 32 GB of standard on-board storage up to 2 TB with a micro SD5 slot. At $699, the cost is competitive with similarly tricked-out Apple and Samsung devices.

I got a close look at the PRIV at HPE’s recent launch party, and now that two-year-old HTC is looking even more ragged …

CompTIA Three ‘Fer

Three items from our partners at CompTIA this week. First, check out the new Holiday Challenge Grant. Now through Dec. 1, CompTIA will match all donations to IT-Ready, dollar for dollar, up to $25,000. IT-Ready teaches low-income individuals, including veterans and displaced factory and retail workers, the skills they need to launch IT careers.

Second, partners interested in telling Congress how new laws and regulations are affecting your business – for better or worse – can take part in the 2016 CompTIA DC Fly-In. This free, two-day event includes a tech policy summit, a Capitol Hill speakers series and Hill visits with your state’s representatives.

Finally, this week CompTIA released a new study titled “Managing the Multigenerational Workforce.” The report contrasts responses from 700 business professionals and 1,010 teens and young adults to examine how differences between Millennial, Gen X and Baby boomer employees are changing workforce dynamics.

There’s lots of good insight, but particularly relevant to partners are two findings:

  • First, employees across all age groups do not consider their companies on the cutting edge of technology. That may or may not be true — and in fact, younger workers are slightly more likely to say that that their employers are in fact pushing the envelope, maybe because they know what to look for and are more eager to adopt. However, the fact remains that if technology is not being used, it may as well not be there.

  • Second, the report says a company’s technology plays a role in attracting talent, with 74 percent of Millennial workers and 61 percent of Gen Xers saying an employer’s tech savvy is a factor when considering employment. 

More Muni Broadband Rumblings

Speaking of government regulations and technology, voters in 43 Colorado cities, counties and districts voted rather decisively to opt out of SB 152, a state law that prevents local entities from establishing, or partnering on, publicly owned muni Internet networks. Fierce Telecom has a rundown.

Earlier this year the FCC took aim at similar laws. As Josh Long points out, that ruling didn’t unleash an immediate flood of muni broadband services; however, the Colorado vote will likely embolden other municipalities looking to offer citizens carrier choice. For solutions providers that work with local governments, this could be an ongoing source of revenue — and an opportunity to get in on one government initiative that’s actually popular with citizens. Few IT teams have the expertise to get a broadband network up and running, much less manage the ongoing maintenance, security and billing. 

Ruckus Brings NFV To WLANs

Got customers looking to upgrade large WLANs now? Check out Ruckus Wireless’ new Virtual SmartZone Data Plane, announced this week. The Data Plane, as the name suggests, separates data traffic from control traffic, delivering lower costs and improved security, flexibility and performance. The product requires Ruckus’ Virtual SmartZone controllers, which provide software-based wireless network management in an NFV model. In a statement, Ruckus said Virtual SmartZone has been out for a year and has more than 700 production deployments with more than 200,000 access points under management. The company’s Big Dog channel program gets high marks from current partners.

Virtual SmartZone Data Plane allows for aggregating and tunneling data based on application or security metrics without the need for physical controllers at each site. Because Virtual SmartZone controllers are delivered in software, you can deploy on inexpensive hardware and manage multiple instances remotely.

The product scales up to 30,000 access points and 300,000 devices and supports multi-tenancy. It’s a good choice where encryption of WLAN traffic is needed, as with point-of-sale data tunneling for PCI compliance. The Data Plane is available now in two versions starting at $995. Virtual SmartZone pricing also starts at $995 per instance, plus $100 per access point license. 

PLUS: Speaking of Wi-Fi, the FCC is fining M.C. Dean, which provides Wi-Fi access at the Baltimore Convention Center, $718,000 for blocking personal hotspots inside the center, with the obstruction spilling out to passing motorists. The agency is cracking down: In October 2014, it hit Marriott with a $600,000 fine for similar activities at the Gaylord Opryland Hotel and Convention Center in Nashville, and in August it smacked Smart City Holdings to the tune of $750,000 for blocking Wi-Fi at multiple convention centers across the country.

ERP In The Cloud? Why Not

Systems integrator Illumiti, along with Sungard Availability Services and Cisco, this week released a survey-based report on shifting ERP to the cloud, with a focus on verticals dealing with expensive physical assets. Among 140 respondents from asset-intensive industries, like industrial manufacturing, 24 percent are considering a move from their current ERP suites to cloud-based services, most within two years. The drivers are as you’d expect: the ability to access corporate information from anywhere, even in the event of a disaster, along with predictable costs and greater scalability. But respondents worry about security, relinquishing control to an external vendor, and performance and availability. The report delves into all these areas and provides advice for making the sale.

Clearly, no CIO is going to rip and replace an (even marginally) operative ERP system, given the pain and expense of getting these beasts working in the first place. However, partners with customers considering a new on-premises ERP deployment should present the cloud as an alternative.

“This study exemplifies that it is important that our channel partners continue broadening portfolio offerings, not just to stay relevant but also to extend their reach beyond the industries they currently serve,” Carmen Sorice, SVP of channels at Sungard AS, told Channel Partners. “Our channel partnership with Illumiti and Cisco has opened up our ability to jointly provide more value-added solutions for an asset-intensive industry.”

Bits & Bytes

MSP-focused ITSM provider Kaseya announced this week general availability of Kaseya VSA 9.2, which includes support for Windows 10 and simplified discovery and network monitoring. VSA 9.2 also adds the ability to manage 25 percent more devices, doubles the number of metrics tracked through its real-time concurrent monitoring and delivers over 300 new device fingerprints.

Red Hat is not the only cloud deal Microsoft entered into this week. Endpoint and cloud data backup provider Druva also announced that Microsoft Azure storage will be an option for Druva inSync customers. It’s a win for Druva since many customers are concerned about compliance, and Azure meets a broad range of regs, including HIPAA, FedRAMP, SOC 1 and SOC 2, as well as being ISO/IEC 27018 certified. It can also meet data residency requirements. Druva inSync plans begin at $6 per user per month. Microsoft Azure support will be generally available in 45 days. Druva’s PartnerSync program offers three tiers with the usual registration, pre-sales assistance and MDFs.

Speaking of Microsoft, did you see the piece in CIO about the likelihood of Office 365’s Skype for Business being a PBX replacement?

ClearSky Data announced this week that it’s raised $27 million in Series B funding, partly from Akamai. The cash is earmarked for growing its sales, marketing and operations organizations and adding new points of presence in major metro areas; the current focus is on Boston, Las Vegas and Philadelphia. A spokesperson says “ClearSky Data is looking for sales, marketing, operations and engineering talent to join its team, and for startup people with great energy and commitment to excellence, who have experience with enterprise infrastructure and services. All with the goal of advancing channel strategy.”

new study from Juniper Research says the number of Voice over LTE connections will reach 2 billion by 2020, from an estimated 123 million in 2015, accounting for over $100 billion in annual service revenue. But the consultancy cautions that operators must ensure that their offerings match those of leading OTT providers, citing Facebook Messenger, which recently launched free HD VoIP call services over cellular and Wi-Fi networks.

Follow editor in chief @LornaGarey on Twitter.

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