5 Channel Ops: 3 Startups to Watch, Cisco Midyear Security Report, Acronis Backup Service

Lorna GareyOn Tuesday Cisco released its Midyear Cybersecurity Report. Some findings in the 50-plus page document: Customers are vulnerable to emerging, sophisticated ransomware, and many still fail to download and install patches in a timely manner. Time-to-detection is a key factor in protecting data, yet vulnerabilities are running on the network for an average of more than five years.

“Increasingly, channel partners are called upon by their customers to help create a first line of defense to detect and stop cybersecurity threats,” says John Growdon, senior director, channels business development for security, global partner organization.

Among the report authors’ advice: Institute and test an incident-response plan that will enable a swift return to normal business operations following a ransomware attack. Don’t blindly trust HTTPS connections and SSL certificates. Move quickly to patch published vulnerabilities in software and systems, including routers and switches. And educate users about the threat of malicious browser infections.

Cisco also recently released some new security hardware and software aimed at helping partners protect customers from increasingly sophisticated cyberattackers.  

The report offers a wealth of charts, data and scenarios customers may not have considered. For example, suspicious Windows binaries are now the most commonly observed malware, ahead of Facebook scams, JavaScript redirection and Trojans. And, attackers may intentionally tamper with files encrypted by ransomware while the data is in their control. Think about that in terms of medical records.

Backup Everything, as a Service

Ransomware protection requires both prevention and a way to recover data should attackers be successful. To that end, channel-centric backup provider Acronis announced this week a new turnkey backup service for small and midsize customers. The Acronis Backup Cloud protects most servers; VMs; containers; end user workstations and iOS and Android mobile devices; and cloud services and applications, including Microsoft Azure and Office 365. It provides in-transit and at-rest AES 256 encryption.

John Zanni, chief marketing officer at Acronis, said solutions providers can get customers up and running “within minutes.” Backup Cloud integrates with popular management tools to automate customer billing, monitoring and provisioning and provides a single dashboard to deploy, manage and monitor backups. Want to be more hands-on? CSPs can run Acronis Software Defined Storage on commodity hardware and host customer backups themselves, or do a hybrid setup on Amazon S3, IBM SoftLayer as well as Azure.

“Data protection is a top priority for virtually every organization today, and we are pleased to strengthen our relationship with Acronis and deliver the latest update of its cloud backup solution to help address this critical business need,” said Tarik Faouzi, Ingram Micro VP of global cloud partners and solutions, in a statement. “Through the Ingram Micro Cloud Marketplace, our reseller partners can quickly deliver greater value to their customers and offer a leading hybrid cloud backup solution that provides complete protection for Microsoft Office 365 mailboxes.”

Staffing Stats

We’re excited about our new 2016 Channel Compensation Survey. The full report, which should be out next week, shows agents and MSPs face hiring pressure. You can get highlights and advice at Channel Partners’ the Evolution Theater directly from Sean Riley of the 451 Alliance, WTG CEO Vince Bradley and Women in the Channel. Meanwhile, two bits of insight into the challenges facing partners looking to hire technical staff.

First, our partners at the 451 Global Digital Infrastructure Alliance asked 1,000 members about enterprise data center trends, including overall facilities spending and top priorities, as well as staffing and capacity issues. (Not yet an Alliance member?)

Just 25 percent say their data-center facility spending will increase over the next 90 days, a five-point decrease from Q2, even as nearly a third of respondents say their data centers are running at more than 75 percent capacity. The majority, 61 percent, say they’ll be looking to add staff over the next year.

Meanwhile, Intel Security released this week its Hacking the Skills Shortage report. Is there a cybersecurity workforce crisis? Yes, according to 82 percent of respondents; 71 percent say a lack of talent has had a negative effect on their organizations. That may be good news for partners delivering cybersecurity services — almost nine out of 10 respondents said that technological advancements in cybersecurity could compensate for a skill shortage, with better tools substituting for scarce human capital. The survey included 775 IT decision-makers who are involved in cybersecurity within global public and private sector organizations with at least 500 employees.

Sophos Adds Wi-Fi Management

Sophos announced this week Sophos Wireless, which enables partners to secure and manage Sophos access points from the same cloud-based console they use for the company’s endpoint, mobile, web and server protection; it can also be used for standalone multi-site Wi-Fi management. 

We see managed Wi-Fi as a hot opportunity for partners. As we discuss in this free report, even SMBs need robust wireless, but designing, deploying and securely operating an 802.11ac network is complicated. Sophos partner Dan Russell, chief information officer at Pine Cove Consulting, told Channel Partners that his firm is seeing growing demand for wireless from its customers, and Sophos Wireless is enables them to meet that need.

“The customized partner dashboard allows us to manage and configure wireless settings, distribute licenses and add new customers and provides a real-time perspective on all customer activity,” said Russell. “We also like the single-pane-of-glass dashboard that shows all Sophos Central services our customers subscribe to, which makes cross and upsell opportunities more viable for my business.”

Sophos sells exclusively through the channel.

Startup Spotlight

Looking for something new? Check out these partner-focused startups:

  • CloudPhysics continually analyzes a vSphere environment and doesn’t just track changes, it looks for potential bottlenecks so you can fix problems before customers are affected and can highlight cases where costs could be trimmed. Delivered as SaaS. The partner program has three tiers and a portal where partners can invite customers into CloudPhysics, track their onboarding progress and view their data-center environments on an ongoing basis through a unified GUI. @cloudphysics
  • Platform9, included in honor of the new Harry Potter book dropping this weekend, bills its product as an easy way for partners to quickly install an OpenStack-based private cloud in a customer data center. Provides monitoring and troubleshooting and zero-touch upgrades. Partners can install Platform9 on their own test or demo networks and get 50 percent off on licensing. I met this company at a recent event and was impressed with the demo. @Platform9Sys
  • PernixData is about optimizing storage for virtualized networks. It offers two software products exclusively through partners. The company’s FVP storage acceleration offering seeks to minimize performance bottlenecks by creating an I/O acceleration tier using server flash/RAM. The Architect software provides hardware independent storage management. Partners can sign up for a technical certification program.

And then of course there’s Anaplan.

Bits & Bytes

Worth reading: This week on UCStrategies, independent telecom analyst Jon Arnold posted a thought-provoking piece on why Cisco and IBM are partnering on a collaboration offering — and why Gartner’s UC Magic Quadrant does not tell the whole story.

Brexit Bargain? Earlier this week we discussed Avnet’s announcement that it will shift its model to become a solutions specialist across five business units.  The distributor followed that up with news that it has agreed to purchase British electronic components specialist Premier Farnell for about $910 million in cash. “In addition to deepening our customer base, this acquisition will enhance our go-to-market strategy as we target the industrial Internet of Things with edge-to-enterprise products and solutions,” said Gerry Fay, president of Avnet’s electronics marketing, worldwide. “Bringing these two companies together allows us to capture market share earlier in the design process.”

F5 Insight: Last week I said F5 was making some noise, with a new CMO and products. I followed up with Lori MacVittie, the company’s principal technical evangelist, to see what the outlook is for partners.

“The opportunity for the channel is tremendous,” said MacVittie. “F5 is in the midst of one of its largest product refresh and release cycles in years. In addition to the upcoming BIG-IP hardware refresh, the DDoS, SSL and web application firewall product releases represent the next step in F5’s evolution into a security company.”

She cites F5’s history and expertise in application services as a way for partners to navigate what is an increasingly app-driven world. “In addition to strong partnerships with big security players, such as FireEye and WhiteHat, F5’s platform-agnostic approach creates significant opportunities to integrate with other security companies that unlock even more value and expand the addressable markets for partners,” she said.

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