IT and Business Insights for SMB Solution Providers

ICYMI: Our Channel News Roundup for the Week of March 27th

New SMB mobility goodies from Cisco, auto attendant functionality for Microsoft’s Skype for Business, and a whole hiding-in-plain-sight universe of emulators for ancient computers are among the many stories we didn’t get to this week.

By Rich Freeman

Ah, life. One minute you just can’t lose. Every putt finds the cup, every shot drops straight through the net, and every hand comes up blackjack. The next minute you get hit with so much news from Intel, Samsung, SonicWall, SYNNEX, Xerox, and others that you can barely catch your breath, let alone keep up with everything else happening in the IT industry. Let’s just say this past week was a lot like one of those latter minutes before diving into everything we wish we had told you about but didn’t.

Cisco 1815 WAPsWi-Fi? Why, yes! That’s right, SMBs, there’s no need to take a back seat to your enterprise brethren anymore when it comes to giving employees, customers, and guests zippy wireless network access.

Or so said Prashanth Shenoy, vice president of product marketing, enterprise networking, and mobility at Cisco in a blog post this week announcing a series of freshly minted Wi-Fi networking products for the SMB market. The new offerings start with a new edition of Cisco’s Mobility Express wireless network management software that works together with up to 100 also new indoor and outdoor 802.11ac Wave 2 access points to deliver high-speed connectivity without forcing you to buy and support a pesky WLAN controller.

Unless, of course, your needs expand beyond 100 access points, in which case you can install the new Cisco 3504 WLAN controller and scale the environment to as many as 150 APs and 3,000 end points.

There’s also a new partnership with Apple that ensures iPads and iPhones enjoy seamless roaming and the ability to put high-priority apps in a prioritized performance “fast lane,” plus a host of guest onboarding, analytics, visibility, and control functions.

What does all this mean to Cisco partners? Cisco itself says in press materials that the new products enable channel pros to “expand their sales reach to price-sensitive SMB customers,” reduce installation overhead, and use all those analytics and other bonus features to provide new and profitable services. Then again, Shenoy also says the solution “can be configured in under 10 minutes, without any IT experience,” so maybe it’s not such a big partner opportunity after all. Take your pick, channel pros!

LG at DSE 2017It was a big week for big shows. Yet not, somewhat surprisingly, for big news from either the Digital Signage Expo in Las Vegas or the Enterprise Connect conference in Orlando. In fact, here’s about all we came up with worth mentioning from the former show:

  • LG announced new 4K and LED displays, plus a range of new OLED solutions including razor-thin “wallpaper” displays and flexible open frame models.
  • Sharp introduced a new Android-based Open Architecture Platform that lets users store content and play it directly from its signage displays.

And here are the few goodies we got from DSE:

  • Sennheiser launched a new portable dual speakerphone solution for conference rooms with seating for up to 12 people.
  • VOSS Solutions introduced new software that lets users control its unified communications management solution via instant messages sent from Skype, Slack, and other popular chat tools.

Windows 10 Creators UpdateMicrosoft! Surely we can count on Microsoft for some news. Yup. They never fail. In fact, the Redmondians even had some significant Enterprise Connect news concerning Skype for Business, which now has the auto attendant functionality so many VoIP partners and Office 365 resellers have been waiting for, plus call queuing technology that lets you route calls to the next available attendant in the order they were received.

And there was more from Microsoft too. We also learned this week that:

Canon imageCLASSAnd now, brace yourself. Because here comes a big ol’ product news avalanche:

Lou LutostanskiNot an avalanche perhaps...But there was non-product-related news from vendors this week too:

  • AVANT made Shane McNamara the new executive vice president of channel sales for its east region.
  • Avnet named Luo Lutostanski (pictured) vice president for the uber-strategic Internet of Things market.
  • CompTIA added a new 24/7 online testing option to its certification courses.
  • Intel appointed Aisha Evans its new chief strategy officer.
  • MSPAlliance and Ingram Micro jointly launched a new cloud and managed services certification program.
  • Pax8 named John Walters its first vice president of service operations.
  • SkyKick announced that its cloud backup and migration solutions are officially compliant with HIPAA and the EU-U.S. Privacy Shield Framework.

This week’s stats ticker:

  • 52 percent of U.S. small businesses invested in SEO last year and 74 percent will do so this year, according to Clutch.
  • Leaked records climbed 566 percent in 2016 from 600 million to more than 4 billion, according to IBM.
  • 86 percent of businesses experienced attacks targeting vulnerabilities over a decade old during the fourth quarter of 2016, according to Fortinet.

Trash-80Maybe we’re not as geeky as we thought. Hat tip to The Register for alerting us to the recent appearance of a new TRS-80 emulator. That’s right, folks! Those of you eager to experience (or perhaps re-experience) the delights of 8-bit computing can now download a virtual version of the immortal Radio Shack “Trash-80” micro computer, complete with virtual floppy drives and everything. It’s free! It’s open source! It runs old TRS-80 software! It...

Wait. New TRS-80 emulator? You mean there are more? Yes indeed, a quick Google search reveals way, way more TRS-80 emulators than one ever knew existed. And Commodore Vic-20 emulators! And Atari 800 emulators! In fact, there appears to be a whole glorious sub-culture of people bringing ancient, long dead computers back to virtual life. How could we not have known this? Or at least suspected it? But then again, why waste time on such questions when we could be playing Robot Attack instead?

About the Author

Rich Freeman is ChannelPro's Executive Editor

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