5 Channel Ops: Dell CloudRunner, Unitrends Google Gambit, Pertino Locks Down SD-WANs

Heading to ChannelCon 2015? CompTIA’s new sales toolkit features templates and tools to enable business owners to plan, run and improve their sales operations. The kit, valued at $5,000, will be free to all ChannelCon attendees for download from Aug. 3 through Aug. 15. Thereafter, it’s available only to CompTIA Premier Members.

Aug. 3 is also the last day to get the best rates for Cloud Partners, Sept. 16 through 18 in Boston (register here). My Red Sox might be out of the running, but you can still get a Fenway frank and beer at the show, along with some great keynotes and education sessions.

Dell CloudRunner Delivers One-Stop Cloud Services Shopping

Dell along with desktop-as-a-service provider CloudRunner this week announced an expanded program to enable MSPs deliver more than 600 business applications quickly on virtual desktops as cloud services. Darrin Swan, director of worldwide sales and business development for Dell’s Service Provider Program, told me the companies have already seen strong adoption, particularly in the health care, financial services and legal verticals (watch for more on my interview with Swan soon, and catch him at Cloud Partners).

“SMBs want easy-to-use technology they can consume and pay for through a predictable, pay-as-you-go monthly model,” said Swan in a statement. “With CloudRunner, Dell partners achieve this goal by delivering a complete, turnkey platform that automates commodity IT services delivery.” The platform, which runs on a variety of Microsoft and Dell products, enables partners to provide SMB customers with access to applications ranging from Microsoft Office to Sage CRM to VersaCheck and hundreds more under their own brands, with automated service management and billing and turnkey partner go-to-market content and campaigns. Partners manage storage, provided in Dell data centers, and can offer the SonicWall firewall as a service as well as other value-adds. Customer employees get anywhere, anytime access to their business applications and data in a familiar Windows desktop, on any device.

“Since acquiring Wyse three years ago, Dell has been a leading supplier of thin-client and virtual desktop infrastructure, however, it hasn’t entered the desktops-as-a-service business,” says industry analyst and Cloud Partners contributor Kurt Marko. “Unlike many of its competitors, Dell has preferred to help partners build Dell-powered cloud offerings. By teaming up with CloudRunner, Dell has put all the pieces together. Amazon Workspaces and VMware Horizon Air have validated the market for VDI as a service, but many SMBs will prefer packages tailored to their needs, integrated with other cloud offerings and provided by a trusted IT partner. The Dell and CloudRunner agreement will help partners and MSPs fill this need without expensive and time-consuming software development efforts.”

Dell CloudRunner is available now; pricing is variable depending on application and storage and other requirements. Dell offers a calculator to run the P&L numbers.

The Channel Doctors Are In

Ever talk to a potential vendor partner and wonder whether it got its channel plan from a circa-1993 recycled copy of “Reselling for Dummies”? Preventing that sort of time suck is the aim of GetChanneled, a “virtual channel chief” consulting firm that opened its doors this week. Founded by industry veterans Brian Sherman and Ted Roller, the firm will help developers and tech organizations develop a channel strategy, design a go to market plan, then follow through, from sales and marketing plans to public relations and industry alliance needs. Roller has over 25 years of experience in the SMB channel, first as a solution provider with Oxford Systems Integration, then as channel chief of Intronis, a cloud-based BDR company, and most recently as VP of channel development with LogMeIn. Sherman brings more than 14 years of SMB channel experience; his past roles include chief editor of Business Solutions magazine, senior director of alliances at Autotask and principal consultant at Tech Success Communications.

Over time, partners will benefit as the company helps vendors understand how solution providers will respond to various programs. Sherman and Roller stress that any proposed program changes should enhance partners’ long-term business prospects, improve alliances and foster innovation and customer relations.

Google and Unitrends: Protect All the VMs

Backup, archiving and disaster recovery provider Unitrends announced this week that it’s been named a Google Cloud Platform Premier Partner. The company’s newly minted Unitrends Free for Google Cloud Platform makes Google’s storage offerings accessible to small and midsize businesses. Unitrends partners can deploy the system as a virtual appliance in VMware vSphere and Microsoft Hyper-V shops. Besides hypervisor-level protection, it also provides low-cost, secure, redundant storage of backup copies in Google’s cloud, including Nearline, which offers very inexpensive long-term retention. By “very inexpensive” I’m talking 1 cent per GB per month with a surprisingly light latency penalty.

“Google Cloud Storage Nearline is disrupting the storage industry by providing customers with low-cost storage, as well as significantly faster recovery times than other cold storage systems on the market,” said Kevin Weiss, Unitrends’ president and chief executive officer, in a statement. “Unitrends prides itself on offering its customers easy-to-use and affordable data protection, along with 100 percent recovery assurance and iron-clad business continuity, so our collaboration with Google is a natural fit.”

Unitrends Free for Google Cloud Platform allows customers to protect — for free, as the name states — up to 1.5 terabytes of VM data, without limitations on retention or the number of sockets and VMs as well as providing instant VM recovery, automated daily scheduling and changed-block tracking for speedier incremental backups. What’s that they say about fast, good and cheap? Maybe you can have it all.

Containerize the Network Chaos

Wide-area cloud networking provider Pertino announced this week new capabilities for its Cloud Networking Engine platform, which makes it easier to deploy secure software-defined WANs. The system includes Pertino Gateway, a cloud-managed, software-based virtual gateway to connect IP-enabled devices or VMs in a virtual overlay network, and a new traffic steering technology, called Pertino SmartZones, that allows admins or partners to control how network traffic is routed between local and overlay networks.

Companies that depend heavily on cloud — such as the CloudRunner desktops-as-a-service — and mobility are putting stress on the WAN. Partners may do well to suggest an SD-WAN, which uses SDN, virtualization and automation technologies to increase agility and reduce operational costs. Pertino says the Cloud Network Engine service is suitable for a broad range of VPN use cases, including branch networks, flexible termination of VPN connections within data centers, large-scale hybrid and public virtual private cloud networks, and remote management of equipment, including for Industrial IoT. Essentially, partners could enable customers to link any IP-enabled device, from printers to security cameras to network-attached storage, into a secure overlay network then manage everything from the Cloud Network Engine Web console.

“Since launching our BlueSky Partner Program in late 2014, we have established partnerships with Dell, SoftBank C&S and over 120 managed service providers,” Todd Krautkremer, CMO and head of the BlueSky Partner Program for Pertino, told me. “Several more major partnership are in the works for 2015, as well as doubling the size of our MSP channel. A common theme across our partners is their desire to participate in the emerging software-defined WAN market opportunity. Pertino has been a first-mover in the SD-WAN space, having launched the first cloud-based and SDN-powered network-as-a-service offering in 2013.”  Here Krautkremer is referring to the company’s software-defined VPN, or SD-VPN, offering. “SD-VPN appeals to the vast number of companies around the world with distributed and mobile workforces and those that are embracing hybrid and public cloud and SaaS infrastructures,” he says. The newly announced Pertino Gateway and SmartZones feature expands the number of SD-VPN use cases and customer deployment options, allowing partners to broaden their sales opportunities. The Gateway can run on any physical or virtual Linux machine or on currently fashionable Docker containers, on any size device or in a private or public cloud. The Pertino Gateway handles addressing, routing and access control between physical and overlay networks; it’s available now with annual subscriptions starting at $5,999, which includes 100 devices.

Security + Management: Better Together

Kaspersky Lab announced this week that Autotask’s Endpoint Management is now integrated into Kaspersky’s anti-malware technologies. The combo offers partners a more unified approach to managing endpoints while protecting them from sophisticated cyberthreats. Kaspersky research shows 2.2 billion malware attacks targeted computers and mobile devices in Q1 2015 — double the number blocked in Q1 2014.

Joe Conti, head of MSP channel sales for Kaspersky Lab North America, told Channel Partners that the company partnered with Autotask because its go-to-market strategy was directly aligned with Kaspersky’s vision to continue to expand its MSP offerings. In addition, discussions with other remote management providers are currently in the works.

Kaspersky brings to the deal its malware detection engine, built-in Web content filtering and device and application controls, and a comprehensive application reputation database. The SaaS-based Autotask Endpoint Management delivers visibility into and control of devices, over any network and across multiple operating systems. “Our superior solutions combined with Autotask’s endpoint management means a more secure endpoint with less hassle,” said Conti.

Bits & Bytes

Meet Millie: Partners who like to stay au courant on the vendor and verticals landscape may want to check out Northern Light’s new, and free, Millie market and competitive intelligence portal. Millie comprises industry-specific dashboards covering a number of popular markets: information technology, life sciences, health care, financial services, energy, agribusiness, chemical, and food and beverage. Each dashboard presents news headlines about major companies and industry topics, and graphics depicting significant industry trends.

Go Fish: Curious about exactly how black hat hackers operate? SophosLabs researcher Fraser Howard this week released a paper that digs into Angler, a popular exploit kit used in drive-by downloads. Angler first appeared in late 2013 but is completely dominating the exploit kit scene in 2015, accounting for more than 75 percent of malware infections caused by exploit kits, according to SophosLabs. Howard shares some of the tricks that make Angler so successful, including rapidly switching host names and IP numbers, piggybacking on legitimate companies’ DNS servers, tailoring its attack components for each potential victim and using obfuscation and anti-sandboxing to cover its tracks.

Efficient to the Max: Channel-focused cloud-based ITSM provider LogicNow announced this week a major update to its MAX ServiceDesk. The Version 2.2 release includes a streamlined user interface and various account management tools to help MSPs improve productivity and manage their day-to-day workloads more efficiently; the updates are in response to feedback from LogicNow’s 12,000-strong community of customers, partners, MSPs and industry leaders.

Follow editor-in-chief @LornaGarey on Twitter.

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