6 Channel Ops: AT&T Teams With Cisco, Avnet for IoT, AVG Releases Free Ransomware Keys

Lorna GareyWe’re officially one month away from Channel Partners Evolution. What am I excited about? Among other things, in no particular order: Attending our “Millennial-Approved Mobile Moneymakers” panel, moderated by Channel Partners’ newest editor and resident Millennial, James Anderson, and featuring Fuze’s Alex DiNunzio and mTusker’s Brad Schilling.

Hearing Michele Thornton, senior vice president of BET Networks, deliver the keynote address at the annual Women in the Channel event that always kicks off Channel Partners shows in high style. Bonus: We’ll host a group of women veterans interested in the channel as a career path. Thanks to WiC for providing mentors.

Hearing from Google Fiber on the keynote stage in a Fastball session, followed by Robert Boyanovsky, executive director, mobility product management for AT&T Mobility. Let’s face it, it’s an exciting time to be in the channel.

Telecom for Change’s annual gala will be held at the historic Torpedo Factory and close out the show by raising funds for a great cause.

If you have yet to register to join us, time is short. Drop me a line for a discount code, and I hope to see you there.

AVG Rolls Out 6 Ransomware Keys

Security software giant AVG, which announced earlier this month that it will be acquired by Avast for around $1.3 billion, also made six new ransomware decryption tools available to its channel partners. AVG says the free tools will decrypt the recent ransomware strains Apocalypse, BadBlock, Crypt888, Legion, SZFlocker and the ever-popular TeslaCrypt.

While it’s of course better to help customers avoid ransomware, partners would do well to have these keys in their pockets, just in case.

In most cases, a partner would run a full system scan on the infected PC and quarantine the infected files, then identify which malware encrypted the files. AVG offers helpful field guides to determine the strain. If the ransomware matches one of the six available tools, you’d use a wizard to, hopefully, walk through the decryption process and restore the files. Then, figure out how the malware got in and close that door.

AVG researchers this week also posted an interesting blog on the use of fingerprint locks on phones that’s worth a look if you’re a fan of TouchID.

AT&T Releases IoT in a Box

This week AT&T introduced an all-in-one IoT Starter Kit that includes connectivity, LTE hardware, application services, cloud storage and more, in collaboration with Avnet and Cisco. The kit, due next month, will be available from AT&T or Avnet for $99 plus taxes and fees. The full list of what’s included is here. We’re talking everything from an expandable Arduino-compatible microcontroller board to a set of APIs to a global SIM.

It’s getting to the point that partners have little excuse for not at least piloting an IoT product bundle.

“One of the biggest barriers getting started with IoT is choosing from rapidly changing hardware and software,” said Mike Reich, CEO of IoT development company Sensamo, in a statement. “Because the Starter Kit provides the leading IoT technology and ‘just works,’ we can focus our development time on what makes our product unique. What used to take days can now be done in hours.”

With the kit, partners will have access to AT&T Control Center, the IoT service platform from Cisco, to manage their connected devices. AT&T is also offering variations specifically for IBM Watson IoT and the Microsoft Azure IoT Suite, which also integrate with the Cisco IoT service platform.

Avnet is rapidly expanding its IoT lineup. In May it announced a distribution agreement with Zentri, which provides a secure IoT SaaS platform that can be easily connected to major clouds, including Amazon AWS, IBM Bluemix and Microsoft Azure, and managed using a dedicated service. Avnet’s also got offerings for Industrial IoT.

Attention HubSpot Users

If your team uses the HubSpot inbound marketing platform, introduce them to GrowthBot. The free chatbot was built by HubSpot founder Dharmesh Shah and is aimed at marketing and sales pros, but I can see plenty of uses for channel partners doing competitive analysis and looking for new products to add to their line cards. The bot connects to a variety of marketing systems (not just HubSpot, but also Google Analytics and others) and provides information on, for example, top posts from influencers in your industry, which companies use a supplier’s product or how your or a customer’s site traffic is shaping up.

Shah warns that this is a beta bot, so expect some trial and error. But there’s definite potential here, and its creator welcomes feedback. They’re still not close to passing the new Turing tests, but the more chatbots get used, the better their AI engines get. Look how far Amazon’s Alexa has come: The company said at this week’s MobileBeat conference that the error rate for goal completion has gone down by a factor of two since Echo was released in late 2014.

LOGICnow: Data-Driven Automation The Future

Cloud-based IT service management provider LOGICnow, which was recently acquired by SolarWinds, this week released a study that attempts to measure the use of data-driven automation specifically by IT service providers and MSPs. The company asked 350 global service providers whether they are “data-driven” — that is, able to collect, store and act on performance data drawn from their customers’ IT infrastructures.

Turns out, not so much. Just 8 percent have automated processes for transforming data into actionable recommendations. However, the report says that “the benefits of doing so have been remarkable.” More than one-third have doubled their client service capacity, and 28 percent of adopter respondents have entirely automated their managed-security services.

The low adoption rate isn’t from lack of will. Most of the 92 percent not currently automating say that doing so would let them deliver new services. Half, 52 percent, fear they will lose out to more advanced competitors if they do not adopt automation, and 6 percent say either late or no adoption will lead to them going out of business within two years.

Among those who don’t save performance data, 14 percent say storage is too expensive. I’m not sure where they’re shopping.

The report makes a convincing case for automation and closes with a few recommendations for partners, including (unsurprisingly) purchasing systems and recruiting people with data analysis skills, then adjusting portfolios and SLAs. It would have been nice to see more actionable steps, but the report is worth a read if you or your executive leaders are on the fence about automation’s value.

Veritas Doubles Rebate Op

Having moved on from its somewhat rocky split from Symantec, Veritas Technologies announced this week the next-generation of its NetBackup 5200-series enterprise backup appliance with expandable storage and end-to-end deduplication for physical and virtual environments. The NetBackup 5240 includes Information Map, aimed at helping customers manage unstructured data. The NetBackup 5240 has more capacity — it’s expandable to 201 TB, a 36 percent jump, and doubles the density per rack unit. There’s also greater performance, more ports and stingier energy use than the previous 5230 boxes. The wavy red swoosh is stylish as well. The line starts at $23,000 and goes up from there depending on capacity and I/O configuration.

More interesting for Veritas Partner Force participants is that the company recently raised the deal cap on available opportunity-registration rebates from $500,000 to $1 million and added appliances into the scheme.

UNH-IOL Launches SDN Consortium

The University of New Hampshire InterOperability Laboratory announced this week its new SDN Consortium. Starting Aug. 1, the Lab will provide a neutral space for software-defined networking stakeholders to test switch and controller interoperability, standards conformance and gear’s ability to meet performance benchmarks.

The Consortium’s primary mission is testing SDN applications and controllers against SDN switches. Partners advising customers on purchases of SDN gear can now ask hardware and software suppliers whether they have proven interoperability and get a reality check on the number of connections a controller can support as well as speed and functionality. 

“You don’t want to worry about a controller and a switch talking to each other,” said Timothy Winters, UNH-IOL’s senior executive, software and IP networking, in a briefing. Certification will also reduce the risk of applications not working with a particular switch.

The SDN Consortium costs $20,000 to join. While Winters wouldn’t name specific members, AT&T, Cisco, Dell, HPE, Microsoft, Windstream and other big names familiar to the channel are involved in the lab’s various existing interoperability programs. The lab has “an unparalleled collection of SDN switches” as part of its multi-million-dollar testbed, say officials, and it’s offering professional services to SDN application and controller vendors and other stakeholders.  

“Companies turn to the UNH-IOL not only for our world-class testing facility and deep bench of experience, but also as a gathering place that can deliver effective and much-needed collaboration,” said Winters. “We are ready to help current and prospective members solve SDN-related test problems, smooth out deployments and develop new ideas for efficient networking.” 

UNH-IOL has also been involved since January with the Open Platform for NFV (OPNFV) and is helping to organize plugfests to build confidence in current and upcoming OPNFV releases.

Partners located in the Northeast may want to schedule a tour of the Lab — it’s an impressive place. As I wrote previously, the nonprofit is the only facility of its scale that runs in partnership with a major university, and it has about $25 million in gear in use by about 100 graduate and undergraduate student employees, most of whom end up with multiple job offers along with their diplomas. It just moved into new offices and received a donation from the Verizon Foundation Grant to expand its STEM advocacy.

Follow editor in chief @LornaGarey on Twitter.

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