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Vendor management

An MSP Guide to Happy Customers

Shawn Lazarus brings a fresh take to marketing strategy with his engineering background and global perspective. He currently oversees the product marketing, social media, digital marketing, and brand management for OnPage which helps an MSP server their clients better.

An MSP’s ability to do effective work depends on their technical expertise. However, their ability to ensure customer satisfaction is what really grows their business. This is because high levels of customer satisfaction retain current clients and win over future ones. Given this reality, an MSP needs to be strategic about how they approach their work as every interaction is an opportunity to improve customer satisfaction.

With a few customer service guidelines, you can ensure you’re not only impressing potential clients, but also keeping existing ones happy. Not sure where to start? The tips below will help you improve communications with your clients, as well as establish business practices that reinforce the importance of customer relationships.

Develop a Strong Onboarding Policy

The first way to establish a strong foundation for customer satisfaction is to develop a strong onboarding policy. Onboarding defines the process of how new customers get integrated into your company’s workflow. The onboarding process should include straight-forward tasks such as cataloging a customer’s infrastructure, migrating the customer to a standard set of technology offerings, refreshing old hardware, and rolling in standard MSP tool sets.

However, the most important aspect of onboarding is documentation. Document the key processes for any new client you onboard so that when their technology is not functioning properly, your engineers can come in and properly assess and diagnose the problem. This documentation includes important items such as site details, site plans, and credentials for logging in to important software.

These expectations should be articulated during customer training so that the customer is apprised of how to contact your company and what to expect when they call during business hours or after hours. After their onboarding is complete, customers should know the answer to basic service questions, such as how long they should expect to wait until someone returns their call.

Set Client Expectations with SLAs

After onboarding a new client, a good MSP will provide them with a plan that offers a clearly defined time period in which issues will be fixed. This plan will also promise the client updates on all key stages of the incident resolution process. This is the essence of the MSP’s service level agreement (SLA). A strong SLA will help ensure you’re managing expectations, communicating effectively, and executing properly.

  • Manage Expectations: Focus on setting expectations around the time it will take you to call customers back, how long it will take until a tech is on site to fix an issue, and what a typical maintenance schedule will look like. Map out the customer journey and describe what the customer can expect from your business from beginning to end.
  • Effectively Communicate: There is often a lot of stumbling with communication. For effective client communications, develop a plan that helps you articulate the big picture. The plan should explain what happens when an issue arises for the customer and how you will respond. If there is the need for disaster recovery, how will you handle the process to get them back online?
  • Execute Properly: Effective execution is about getting the project done in a timely manner. When you’re unable to effectively execute, it’s likely because you lack either the time or personnel to deliver on what you’ve promised. You can accomplish this with two essential elements: collaboration and coordination. A business management software like ConnectWise Manage® enables you to easily centralize documentation, assign action items, track progress toward due dates, and report down to individual tasks seamlessly—ensuring no late or unfinished projects. In addition, employing an Incident Management tool like OnPage allows you to effectively execute alerts that come in from ConnectWise Manage in a timely manner. MSPs can equip even the smallest of staffs with an Incident Management Platform that allows the team to work after hours in shifts and handle alerts that are deftly sent to their smartphones, so they can attend to the alerts anytime, anywhere.
Leverage Automation

How much time is your staff spending on repetitive (yet necessary) tasks? How much more time would they have during the day if some of these tasks were automated? When repetitive yet necessary tasks are performed automatically with the right tools, the work is completed quickly and with a lower risk of human error. This also enables your staff to apply their advanced knowledge and expertise to more critical projects.

Some repeatable tasks you can automate include prioritizing tickets, routine maintenance, software upgrades, disk updates, patching, or end-virus remediation. By having tools automate these processes, your staff can spend more time on projects, planning, or providing proactive service to your customers—keeping them happy.

To take full advantage of the benefits of business automation, you’ll need tools such as a remote monitoring and management system, a ticketing system, a customer relationship management system (CRM), anti-virus solution, a remote access tool, malware detection solution, a critical alerting tool, and PBX systems—depending on your business’s specific needs.

While keeping customers happy sounds like it should be straightforward, anyone who has worked as an MSP knows that customer satisfaction is the secret sauce that separates one MSP from another. Simple things like clear communications with your clients and introducing a few new tools to your tool kit can make a huge difference in how your clients see you. By setting clear expectations and freeing up your staff from manual, repeatable tasks, you can develop strong relationships with new customers and keep your existing customers happy.


This article was provided by our service partner : Connectwise

Incident Response

6 Steps to Build an Incident Response Plan

According to the Identity Theft Research Center, 2017 saw 1,579 data breaches—a record high, and an almost 45 percent increase from the previous year. Like many IT service providers, you’re probably getting desensitized to statistics like this. But you still have to face facts: organizations will experience a security incident sooner or later. What’s important is that you are prepared so that the impact doesn’t harm your customers or disrupt their business.

Although, there’s a new element that organizations—both large and small—have to worry about: the “what.” What will happen when I get hacked? What information will be stolen or exposed? What will the consequences look like?

While definitive answers to these questions are tough to pin down, the best way to survive a data breach is to preemptively build and implement an incident response plan. An incident response plan is a detailed document that helps organizations respond to and recover from potential—and, in some cases, inevitable—security incidents. As small- and medium-sized businesses turn to managed services providers (MSPs) like you for protection and guidance, use these six steps to build a solid incident response plan to ensure your clients can handle a breach quickly, efficiently, and with minimal damage.

Step 1: Prepare

The first phase of building an incident response plan is to define, analyze, identify, and prepare. How will your client define a security incident? For example, is an attempted attack an incident, or does the attacker need to be successful to warrant response? Next, analyze the company’s IT environment and determine which system components, services, and applications are the most critical to maintaining operations in the event of the incident you’ve defined. Similarly, identify what essential data will need to be protected in the event of an incident. What data exists and where is it stored? What’s its value, both to the business and to a potential intruder? When you understand the various layers and nuances of importance to your client’s IT systems, you will be better suited to prepare a templatized response plan so that data can be quickly recovered.

Treat the preparation phase as a risk assessment. Be realistic about the potential weak points within the client’s systems; any component that has the potential for failure needs to be addressed. By performing this assessment early on, you’ll ensure these systems are maintained and protected, and be able to allocate the necessary resources for response, both staff and equipment—which brings us to our next step.

Step 2: Build a Response Team

Now it’s time to assemble a response team—a group of specialists within your and/or your clients’ business. This team comprises the key people who will work to mitigate the immediate issues concerning a data breach, protecting the elements you’ve identified in step one, and responding to any consequences that spiral out of such an incident.

As an MSP, one of your key functions will sit between the technical aspects of incident resolution and communication between other partners. In an effort to be the virtual CISO (vCISO) for your clients’ businesses, you’ll likely play the role of Incident Response Manager who will oversee and coordinate the response from a technical and procedural perspective.

Pro Tip: For a list of internal and external members needed on a client’s incident response team, check out this in-depth guide.

Step 3: Outline Response Requirements and Resolution Times

From the team you assembled in step two, each member will play a role in detecting, responding, mitigating damage, and resolving the incident within a set time frame. These response and resolution times may vary depending on the type of incident and its level of severity. Regardless, you’ll want to establish these time frames up front to ensure everyone is on the same page.

Ask your clients: “What will we need to contain a breach in the short term and long term? How long can you afford to be out of commission?” The answers to these questions will help you outline the specific requirements and time frame required to respond to and resolve a security incident.

If you want to take this a step further, you can create quick response guides that outline the team’s required actions and associated response times. Document what steps need to be taken to correct the damage and to restore your clients’ systems to full operation in a timely manner. If you choose to provide these guides, we suggest printing them out for your clients in case of a complete network or systems failure.

Step 4: Establish a Disaster Recovery Strategy

When all else fails, you need a plan for disaster recovery. This is the process of restoring and returning affected systems, devices, and data back onto your client’s business environment.

A reliable backup and disaster recovery (BDR) solution can help maximize your clients’ chances of surviving a breach by enabling frequent backups and recovery processes to mitigate data loss and future damage. Planning for disaster recovery in an incident response plan can ensure a quick and optimal recovery point, while allowing you to troubleshoot issues and prevent them from occurring again. Not every security incident will lead to a disaster recovery scenario, but it’s certainly a good idea to have a BDR solution in place if it’s needed.

Step 5: Run a Fire Drill

Once you’ve completed these first four steps of building an incident response plan, it’s vital that you test it. Put your team through a practice “fire drill.” When your drill (or incident) kicks off, your communications tree should go into effect, starting with notifying the PR, legal, executive leadership, and other teams that there is an incident in play. As it progresses, the incident response manager will make periodic reports to the entire group of stakeholders to establish how you will notify your customers, regulators, partners, and law enforcement, if necessary. Remember that, depending on the client’s industry, notifying the authorities and/or forensics activities may be a legal requirement. It’s important that the response team takes this seriously, because it will help you identify what works and which areas need improvement to optimize your plan for a real scenario.

Step 6: Plan for Debriefing

Lastly, you should come full circle with a debriefing. During a real security incident, this step should focus on dealing with the aftermath and identifying areas for continuous improvement. Take is this opportunity for your team to tackle items such as filling out an incident report, completing a gap analysis with the full team,  and keeping tabs on post-incident activity.

No company wants to go through a data breach, but it’s essential to plan for one. With these six steps, you and your clients will be well-equipped to face disaster, handle it when it happens, and learn all that you can to adapt for the future.


This article was provided by our service partner : Webroot

 

veeam

Veeam Availability Console U1 is now available

Managed service providers (MSPs) are playing an increasingly critical role in helping businesses of all sizes realize their digital transformation aspirations. The extensive offerings made available to businesses continue to allow them to shift day-to-day management onto you, the MSP, while allowing them to focus on more strategic initiatives. One of the most notable services being backup and recovery.

We introduced Veeam Availability Console in November 2017, a FREE, cloud-enabled management platform built specifically for service providers. Through this console, service providers can remotely manage and monitor the Availability of their customer’s virtual, physical and cloud-based workloads protected by Veeam solutions with ease. And, in just a few short months, we’ve seen incredible adoption across our global Veeam Cloud & Service Provider (VCSP) partner base, with overwhelmingly positive feedback.

Today, I’m happy to announce the General Availability (GA) of Veeam Availability Console U1, bringing with it some of the most hotly requested features to help further address the needs of your service provider business.

Enhanced Veeam Agent support

The initial release of Veeam Availability Console was capable of monitoring Veeam Agents deployed and managed by the service provider through Veeam Availability Console. New to U1 is the ability to achieve greater insights into your customer environments with new support that extends to monitoring and alarms for Veeam Agents that are managed by Veeam Backup & Replication. With this new capability, we’re enabling you to extend your monitoring services to even more Veeam customers that purchase their own Veeam Agents, but still want the expertise that you can bring to their business. And yes, this even includes monitoring support for Veeam Agent for Linux instances that are managed by Veeam Backup & Replication.

New user security group

VCSP partners wanting to delegate Veeam Availability Console access without granting complete control (like local administrator privileges) can now take advantage of the new operator role. This role permits access to everything within Veeam Availability Console essential to the remote monitoring and management of customer environments (you can even assign access to your employees on a company-by-company basis), but excludes access to Veeam Availability Console server configuration settings. Now you can assign access to Veeam Availability Console to your staff without exposing settings of the Veeam Availability Console server.

ConnectWise Manage integration

We’re introducing native integration with ConnectWise Manage. Through this new, seamless integration (available in the plugins library tab), the management, monitoring and billing of Veeam Availability Console-powered cloud backup and Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS) can now be consolidated with your other managed service offerings into the single pane of glass that is ConnectWise Manage. This integration makes it easier and more efficient to expand your services portfolio while making administration of multiple, differing managed services much more efficient.

Matt Baldwin, President of Vertisys said, “This integration is exactly what my business needs to streamline our managed backup and DRaaS offering. The interface is clean and intuitive with just the right number of features. We project a yearly savings of 50 to 60 hours.”

Let’s take a closer look at some of the integration points between Veeam Availability Console and ConnectWise Manage.

Mapping companies

Firstly, the integration will help avoid a lot of manually intensive work by automatically synchronizing and mapping companies present in ConnectWise Manage with those in Veeam Availability Console. Automatic mapping is achieved through the company name. Before mapping is fully-complete, Veeam Availability Console allows you to check over what it’s automatically mapped before committing to the synchronization. If no match is found, mapping can be completed manually to an existing company or through the creation of a new company, with the option to send login credentials for the self-service customer portal, too.

Ticket creation

The integration also enables you to more quickly resolve issues before they impact your customers’ business through automatic ticket creation within ConnectWise Manage from Veeam Availability Console alarms. You can specify from the list of available alarms within Veeam Availability Console all those that are capable of triggering a ticket (e.g. failed backup, exceeding quota, etc.), and to which service board within ConnectWise Manage the ticket is posted. We’ve also enabled you with the capability to set delays (e.g. 1 minute, 5 minutes, 15 minutes, etc.) between the alarm occurring and the ticket posting, so issues like a temporary connectivity loss that self-resolves doesn’t trigger a ticket immediately. Every ticket created in ConnectWise Manage is automatically bundled with the corresponding configuration, such as representing a computer managed by Veeam Availability Console. This makes it incredibly easy for support engineers to find which component failed and where to go fix it. The integration also works in reverse, so that when tickets are closed within ConnectWise Manage, the corresponding alarm in Veeam Availability Console will be resolved.

Billing

The final part of the integration extends to billing, reducing complexities for you and your customers by consolidating invoices for all the managed services in your portfolio connected to ConnectWise Manage into a single bill. Not only this, but the integration allows for the automatic creation of new products in ConnectWise Manage, or mapping to existing ones. Service providers can select which agreement Veeam Availability Console-powered services should be added to on a per-customer basis, with agreements updated automatically based on activity, quota usage, etc.

Enhanced scalability

Finally, we’ve enhanced the scalability potential of Veeam Availability Console, enabling you to deliver your services to even more customers. The scalability improvements specifically align to the supported number of managed Veeam Backup & Replication servers, and this is especially useful when paired with the enhanced Veeam Agent support discussed earlier. This ensures optimal operation and performance when managing up to 10,000 Veeam Agents and up to 600 Veeam Backup & Replication servers, protecting 150-200 VMs and Veeam Agents each.


This article was provided by our service partner : veeam.com

3 MSP Best Practices for Protecting Users

Cyberattacks are on the rise, with UK firms being hit, on average, by over 230,000 attacks in 2017. Managed service providers (MSPs) need to make security a priority in 2018, or they will risk souring their relationships with clients. By following 3 simple MSP best practices consisting of user education, backup and recovery, and patch management, your MSP can enhance security, mitigate overall client risk, and grow revenue.

User Education

An effective anti-virus is essential to keeping businesses safe; however, It isn’t enough anymore. Educating end users through security awareness training can reduce the cost and impact of user-generated infections and breaches, while also helping clients meet the EU’s new GDPR compliance requirements. Cybercriminals’ tactics are evolving and increasingly relying on user error to circumvent security protocols. Targeting businesses through end users via social engineering is a rising favorite among new methods of attack.

Common social engineering attacks include:

  • An email from a trusted friend, colleague or contact—whose account has been compromised—containing a compelling story with a malicious link/download is very popular. For example, a managing director’s email gets hacked and the finance department receives an email to pay an outstanding “invoice”.
  • A phishing email, comment, or text message that appears to come from a legitimate company or institution. The messages may ask you to donate to charity, ‘verify’ information, or notify you that you’re the winner in a competition you never entered.
  • A fraudster leaving a USB around a company’s premises hoping a curious employee will insert it into a computer providing access to company data.

Highly topical, relevant, and timely real-life educational content can minimize the impact of security breaches caused by user error. By training clients on social engineering and other topics including ransomware, email, passwords, and data protection, you can help foster a culture of security while adding serious value for your clients.

Backup and Disaster Recovery Plans

It’s important for your MSP to stress the importance of backups. If hit with ransomware without a secure backup, clients face the unsavory options of either paying up or losing important data. Offering clients automated, cloud-based backup makes it virtually impossible to infect backup data and provides additional benefits, like a simplified backup process, offsite data storage, and anytime/anywhere access. In the case of a disaster, there should be a recovery plan in place. Even the most secure systems can be infiltrated. Build your plan around business-critical data, a disaster recovery timeline, and protocol for disaster communications.

Things to consider for your disaster communications
  • Who declares the disaster?
  • How are employees informed?
  • How will you communicate with customers?

Once a plan is in place, it is important to monitor and test that it has been implemented effectively. A common failure with a company’s backup strategy occurs when companies fail to test their backups. Then, disaster strikes and only then do they discover they cannot restore their data. A disaster recovery plan should be tested regularly and updated as needed. Once a plan is developed, it doesn’t mean that it’s effective or set in stone.

Patch Management

Consider it an iron law; patch and update everything immediately following a release. As soon as patches/updates are released and tested, they should be applied for maximum protection. The vast majority of updates are security related and need to be kept up-to-date. Outdated technology–especially an operating system (OS)–is one of the most common weaknesses exploited in a cyberattack. Without updates, you leave browsers and other software open to ransomware and exploit kits. By staying on top of OS updates, you can prevent extremely costly cyberattacks. For example, in 2017 Windows 10 saw only 15% of total files deemed to be malware, while Windows 7 saw 63%. These figures and more can be found in Webroot’s 2018 Threat Report.

Patching Process

Patching is a never-ending cycle, and it’s good practice to audit your existing environment by creating a complete inventory of all production systems used. Remember to standardize systems to use the same operating systems and application software. This makes the patching process easier. Additionally, assess vulnerabilities against inventory/control lists by separating the vulnerabilities that affect your systems from those that don’t. This will make it easier for your business to classify and prioritize vulnerabilities, as each risk should be assessed by the likelihood of the threat occurring, the level of vulnerability, and the cost of recovery. Once it’s determined which vulnerabilities are of the highest importance, develop and test the patch. The patch should then deploy without disrupting uptime—an automated patch system can help with the process.

Follow these best practices and your MSP can go a lot further toward delivering the security that your customers increasingly need and demand. Not only you improve customer relationships, but you’ll also position your MSP as a higher-value player in the market, ultimately fueling growth. Security is truly an investment MSPs with an eye toward growth can’t afford to ignore.


This article was provided by our service partner : Webroot

Technology Teams

Defining the Value of Technology Teams

Technology Teams are made up of a lot more than just the service technicians working with your customers. Every Technology Team is made up of a combination of people that account for every step of the Customer Journey. Sales, finance, even marketing…they’re all a part of your Technology Teams and enable you to reach your clients, making their jobs and lives a little easier and helping you stay ahead of technology.

Technology Teams are formed to deliver a unique set of solutions and services. Within one company, multiple Technology Teams can combine to form a resilient Technology Organization. ConnectWise provides a tailored experience to fit the customer journey by turning the ConnectWise suite into a platform of microservices. Building on the foundation of the Solutions Menu, we will focus on Technology Workers.

Building Value

As a business with your sights set on current and future success, you have to find ways to build resiliency into your business. A key way to do this is by building out multiple Technology Teams to continuously increase and diversify the value you offer to your clients. The more you can do to cover their needs, now and into the future, the more you’ll be able to serve the needs of your current customers and attract new ones.

Get Specialized

So why not just have one big team in your company, with every resource managing all of the information they need for each customer’s needs? Every Technology Team is going to have a unique approach to solving customer problems, whether in sales, services or billing, and you’ll want to have people dedicated to making sure those unique approaches are supported. Instead of overwhelming your team with the heavy load of understanding everything about every one of your customers.

No one can be a master of everything, so allow your Technology Teams to focus only on expertise in their specific area. By dividing your business efforts to focus on each specific Technology Team, you’ll be more efficient, your team will feel more in control, and your customers will feel like you really understand their needs.

Take the Lead

Once your Technology Teams are leading the way in meeting your customers’ varied—and growing—needs, they’ll be responsible for guiding your customers through every part of the customer journey.

Mastering each step of the customer journey for each Technology Team enables them to provide excellent customer service, laying the groundwork for long-term relationships that keep your customers happy and loyal.

Where to Start

Fortunately, you’re probably already doing this without realizing it. Do you have a list of services you offer? Those probably line up pretty nicely to some of the Technology Teams already. Now you’ll just need to conduct a gap analysis to find out what you’ve got covered and what still needs to have resources put toward it.

A gap analysis looks at your current performance to help you pinpoint the difference between your current and ideal states of business. Get started by answering these three deceptively simple questions with input from your team:

  • Where are we now?
  • Where do we want to be?
  • How do we get there (close the gap)?

Keep working toward full coverage for every Technology Team your customers are looking for, and seeing every client through the steps of the customer journey and before long, you’ll be meeting and exceeding your business goals.


This article was provided by our service partner : Connectwise

Employee Onboarding

Automating Employee Onboarding in Active Directory

Employee onboarding is a task that is ripe for automation. Spend any time in the tech industry and you know that Active Directory (AD) helps improve workflow and operational services. In other words, it’s critical to an IT organization. When hired, every employee should be given an Active Directory user account, an email mailbox, access to various operating systems, a home folder with specific permissions available only to them, and so on.

However, AD is a big part of employee onboarding that many organizations are still doing manually. In many companies, the helpdesk is still manually opening Active Directory Users & Computers, creating a new user, and adding that user to a specific set of groups. This ultimately increases the risk of messing up that person’s other responsibilities within their account. Again, this is something automation can alleviate!

Because staff onboarding is one of those tasks that’s performed hundreds of times and rarely changes, it’s a perfect candidate for automation.

So, how do you go about automating onboarding in AD?

One of the easiest ways to automate AD tasks is with PowerShell – an automating management structure. By using a freely available PowerShell module, you can create scripts to do just about anything with AD.

For our purposes, we need to create a script to make a new user account for an employee and potentially add it to a few common groups. To do this, download a copy of Remote Server Administration Tools (RSAT) which will give you the Active Directory PowerShell module. Once you do this, ensure you’re on a company domain-joined computer and that you have the appropriate rights to create new users.

In the Active Directory PowerShell module, there is a command called “New-AdUser.” There are lots of ways to use this command but below is one of the most common ways. In this PowerShell code, we’ll generate a random password and then use it along with a first name, last name and username to create a new AD user.

Here’s an example of what this code looks like:


$password = [System.Web.Security.Membership]::GeneratePassword((Get-Random -Minimum 20 -Maximum 32), 3)

$secPw = ConvertTo-SecureString -String $password -AsPlainText -Force

$NewUserParameters = @{

GivenName = 'Adam'

Surname = 'Bertram'

Name = 'abertram'

Name = 'abertram'

}

New-AdUser @NewUserParameters

That’s it! No mouse clicking involved.

Once the above actions have been completed, we can move on to another useful AD onboarding command called “Add-AdGroupMember.” This will add the user that was just created to a few groups in a single line:

Add-AdGroupMember -Identity 'Accounting','Access to App1' -Members 'abertram'

One of the great things about automating employee onboarding with PowerShell is that once the code is built, it can be used for one – or even one hundred – employees with no extra effort.
For example, perhaps you have a ton of new employees you need provision for in AD. By using the “Import-CSV” command, you can read each row in that CSV file and run the code we just went over.

This example assumes you have a CSV with the columns “FirstName” and “LastName.”

Here it is exemplified below:


Import-Csv -Path C:\Employees.csv | foreach {

$password = [System.Web.Security.Membership]::GeneratePassword((Get-Random -Minimum 20 -Maximum 32), 3)

$secPw = ConvertTo-SecureString -String $password -AsPlainText -Force

$userName = '{0}{1}' -f $_.FirstName.Substring(0,1),$_.LastName

$NewUserParameters = @{

GivenName = $_.FirstName

Surname = $_.LastName

Name = $userName

AccountPassword = $secPw

}

New-AdUser @NewUserParameters

Add-AdGroupMember -Identity 'Accounting','Access to App1' -Members $userName

}

These are only a few of the many user onboarding tools available when you automate employee onboarding in Active Directory. If your organization has a predefined process with specific rules that must be followed, this could be just the beginning of a much larger employee onboarding process that can be 100% automated.

 

This article was provided by our service partner Connectwise.

Technology Service Provider

3 Surprising Keys to Success as a Technology Service Provider

A successful Technology Service Provider (TSP) knows that in this booming economy, they must bring their “A-Game” to the table in order to grow and succeed. Similar to sports, true professionals know that it’s the dedication to excellence and the refinement of the little things that can deliver a huge advantage. Let’s take a quick look at the three areas of your Technology Service Provider operational game plan that can benefit greatly from one simple, and many times overlooked, solution–IT certifications and IT skills training for your team.

New Business Development

Having certified engineers can have a great impact on your ability to attract and close new business. To your prospects, IT certifications are strong indicators that you are committed to delivering the most up-to-date, highest quality service and expertise.

  • Posting your engineers’ certifications on your website demonstrates to clients that the best trained techs will be working their account.
  • Highlighting these certifications in your capabilities presentations highlights your drive to deliver the best service solutions available. Validation of your expertise from companies such as Microsoft, Cisco, Amazon, and others can be an advantage your competition may not be communicating.

Operational Efficiency

Your company simply runs better when your techs are well trained and certified. Trained engineers are your key to operational efficiency and customer retention. In addition, certifications also lead you down the path of increased profits too.

  • Scheduling and delivering client service is what your TSP business is all about. Engineers with less training make mistakes, take longer to solve issues, and often spend hours on research and consultation. However, engineers with IT certifications and skilled training hit the ground running. They address and solve issues more quickly and easily move on to other assignments.
  • Trained engineers deliver exactly what your clients want–fast, accurate resolution of their issues; which leads to higher customer retention. Again, customer retention is a vital contributor to your profitability.

Employee Retention

Keeping your top engineers is the third key to Technology Service Provider prosperity. As the economy heats up and IT jobs become more abundant, you need a plan to retain your best engineers. Retention and job satisfaction are not just about salary and bonuses. True IT professionals are eager to learn and will respect and remain loyal to the organization that helps keep them on top of their IT skills and certifications.

  • Consult with your engineers and develop a long-term plan for enhancing their skills and certifications. Address their needs for growth and your company’s need for specific expertise, and make IT training a central component in your relationship with your engineers.
  • Find a resource that also delivers skill training for the IT business professional, because it shouldn’t stop at IT certifications alone. This includes team building, time management, customer service skills, project management, and leadership training.

This article was provided by our service partner : Connectwise

Watchdog your entire IT environment with Veeam ONE

With data becoming so valuable these days, organizations can’t afford to have their IT systems unavailable even for minutes. Monitoring your environment plays a key role to ensure Availability. You need to be alerted when things could go wrong and when it’s time to fix issues before they negatively impact your business. Veeam ONE does just that, not only for your VMware vSphere and Microsoft Hyper-V virtual environments, but also integrates with Veeam Backup & Replicationand, starting with Update 3, provides visibility for Veeam Agents as well.

In this blog post, I will talk about some of the Veeam ONE capabilities that will help you keep an eye on your IT systems.

Categorizing your infrastructure objects

Veeam ONE helps you categorize objects inside your infrastructure by business unit, department, purpose or SLA by means of its Business View component. This business categorization is integrated with Veeam ONE Monitor, enabling you to monitor, troubleshoot and report on business groups of VMware and Hyper-V objects.

Veeam ONE

The Configuration tab allows you to configure the basic application settings

After adding business categories into Veeam ONE, you can start monitoring your business groups through the Business View tab in Veeam ONE Monitor.

Business View in Veeam ONE Monitor, showing a virtual machine in the VMs with Snapshots category

You can also build reports for specified categories of objects. In the Workspace view of Veeam ONE Reporter, when you select a report, you can either choose to get details on the entire virtual environment, or on specific business view objects. For example, if you group VMs by department, you can create reports for a specific department in your organization.

The Business View objects window in Veeam ONE Reporter

Using alarms

There are predefined alarms in Veeam ONE for VMware vSphere and vCloud Director, Microsoft Hyper-V, Veeam Cloud Connect, Veeam Agents, and for internal Veeam ONE issues. All of them are designed to alert IT admins when any notable events or issues occur in their environment. With these alarms, you can easily identify, troubleshoot issues and quickly act to keep business operations running.

If they are used properly, alarms can be a critical method to notify you about the performance of your virtual environment. It’s important to know that too many alarms can lead you to ignore them, while too sensitive triggers can lead to false alarms.

The predefined alarms are built on best practices thresholds and trigger when the parameters defined in the alarm are different against collected data from the virtual and backup servers.

 

Alarm details in the Alarm Management tab. You can create custom alarms for any kind of tasks and events

When an alarm is triggered, the Veeam ONE console displays details about the root cause of the issue and some ways of resolution. Veeam ONE alarms are customizable and you can edit them to fit your business needs by adding different rules, changing thresholds or assigning them to different objects. You can also choose to send an email to a group when alarm’s severity changes or to suppress an alarm during scheduled activities. Moreover, in the Knowledge base tab you can add custom text to help you with solving the alarm next time it’s triggered.

Alarm Settings

Performance and health state monitoring

Veeam ONE enables you to monitor the performance of your VMware vSphere or Microsoft Hyper-V environment through comprehensive charts. In Infrastructure View, you can find information about the latest alarms, CPU, memory and disk resources for different timeframes, as well as network usage details. As you browse in the Infrastructure tree, the Summary tab will display different information for different objects and the rest of the tabs will vary too as you move deeper in the environment.

If the parent object is selected, the Infrastructure Summary tab will display the health state overview, including the Host State, Datastores State and the Virtual Machines state.

Along the navigation menu, Veeam ONE Monitor also provides details about Alarms (as you saw earlier in this post), as well as very well-organized metrics on resource consumption. Here you can check the VMs and hosts that use the most resources (CPU, memory, network usage and more), but also the hosts with the lowest load. These stats are available for both VMware vSphere and Microsoft Hyper-V environments.

The CPU chart shows the amount of used processor resources on a machine where a backup infrastructure component runs. Graphs in the CPU chart illustrate the level of processor usage for every separate CPU on the machine. The Total graph shows the cumulative processor utilization for all CPUs.

Capacity planning

While Veeam ONE Monitor provides extensive visibility over your IT infrastructure, the Reporter makes it easy for IT administrators to obtain detailed analysis of their virtual infrastructure and helps to take the guesswork out of capacity planning.

In virtual environments, capacity planning is a critical task for housekeeping and allows IT admins to make correct decisions based on accurate forecasts. The first thing we can see in Veeam ONE Reporter is the VMware Capacity Planning dashboard, which includes few widgets that offer a sneak peek into the more detailed reports of the infrastructure.

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The VMware Capacity Planning dashboards displays details about Hosts and Clusters, Datastores, loss of a host and how many VMs can be added to the infrastructure without having to purchase more resources

Now let’s take a look at the capacity planning reports that we have available: Capacity Planning, Host Failure Modelling, How Many More VMs Can be Provisioned and Over-provisioned Datastores.

The reports are based on collected and analyzed historical data and they are very customizable, allowing you to choose individual or all datastores, set limits for CPU and Memory, select timeframe of the analyzed performance data, as well as the period of planning.

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The Capacity Planning report provides very detailed forecast on my virtual infrastructure

At the end of the day, the capacity planning exercise helps you answer some simple questions: Do I have enough resources for more virtual machines? When will I run out of resources? Don’t underestimate these questions, they may save you time and money one day.

Agents monitoring and reporting

Update 3 came with many new features for Veeam Backup & Replication 9.5 and Veeam ONE 9.5, and one of the most highly-anticipated is agent management. Veeam ONE 9.5 now supports agent monitoring and reporting for Veeam Agent for Microsoft Windows and Veeam Agent for Linux, enabling you to have visibility into both your virtual and physical infrastructures.

You can have real-time monitoring and alerting for the Veeam Agent jobs managed by Veeam Backup & Replication servers that you monitor in Veeam ONE. To do so, go to Data Protection view in Veeam ONE Monitor and open the Agent Jobs tab of the desired backup infrastructure node. For each job, you will gain information such as the status of a backup job (Success, Warning, Failed, Running, or jobs with no status), backup job name, type, transferred data and more.

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Veeam Agent jobs in Veeam ONE Monitor

In the Veeam Backup Agents report you can choose to include business groups (defined in Veeam ONE Business View) or Veeam Backup & Replication servers and protection groups. Likewise, you can choose to include in the report either specific Veeam backup agents or backup jobs and policies.

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Selecting the report’s parameters

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In my example, I chose to have a report for Windows-only machines with the RPO (Recovery Point Objective) of 1 week, meaning I will get a list of computers protected weekly. On the second page, you’ll find a detailed list of protected and unprotected computers, including information like IP address, Backup Job/Policy, Last Backup Date and more.

Conclusion

Monitoring your entire IT infrastructure can often be overlooked. This is a mistake that can not only cost your business money, but also its reputation. Minor breaches, due to their complexity, can cause performance issues in virtual and physical environments. However, this can be avoided with a good monitoring tool that alerts you when things are not working as they should. Veeam ONE provides a comprehensive set of alerts and a very user-friendly interface that facilitates visibility, troubleshooting and resolving issues.


This article was provided by our service partner Veeam

Vendor management

Top 3 Questions SMBs Should Ask Potential Managed Service Providers

It can be daunting to step into the often unfamiliar world of security, where you can at times be inundated with technical jargon (and where you face real consequences for making the wrong decision). Employing a Managed Service Provider or MSSP is often in the best interest of small and medium businesses (SMBs).

In a study performed by Ponemon Institute, 34% of respondents reported using a managed service provider (MSP) or managed security service provider (MSSP) to handle their cybersecurity, citing their lack of personnel, budget, and confidence with security technologies as driving factors. But how do you find a trustworthy partner to manage your IT matters?

Here are the top 3 questions any business should ask a potential security provider before signing a contract:

1 – Are you an established and reputable managed service provider?

Okay, this is one that you’ll probably research before reaching out. Look at how long the company has been in business and who their current clients are. Are you confident that they can anticipate the unique technology needs of your business?

2 – Have you worked with other organizations who have technology needs like mine?

You will want to work with MSPs who understand your business and are able to make technology decisions based on your unique needs. Make sure they have a solid track record with other businesses of your size. If your industry has particular compliance concerns or makes heavy use of specialized programs, make sure they have experience with other customers in your industry. 

3 – What does your menu of services offer? 

Make sure they round out these services with key security offerings. To make sure they have basic IT security controls in place, ask them about industry buzzwords like asset inventory, patch management, access management, continuous monitoring, vulnerability scanning, antivirus and firewall management. The specifics of their answers aren’t as important as a confident, well considered plan. 

Security-minded MSPs’ will make sure your software and you web surfing habits don’t provide cyber-criminals with backdoor access to your systems. They will make sure your network is secure, and they will install antivirus on all your computers. Bonus points if they are forward-thinking enough to include Security Awareness Training. Make sure you understand the services that they offer, and ask if any of these services have extra costs. 

While these are not all of the questions you should consider asking a potential service provider, they can help get the conversation started and ensure you only work with service providers who meet your unique needs service providers who meet your unique needs.

  1. Ponemon Institute. (2016, June). Retrieved from Ponemon Research: https://signup.keepersecurity.com/state-of-smb-cybersecurity-report/
  2. Ponemon Institute Cost of Data Breach Study: (2017 June) https://www.ibm.com/security/data-breach