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Acer America Corp. is a computer manufacturer of business and consumer PCs, notebooks, ultrabooks, projectors, servers, and storage products.


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May 18, 2021 |

Meet the 2021 Vendors on the Vanguard

Haven’t heard of them before? You’ll thank us for introducing you.

2020 WILL FOREVER BE REMEMBERED as the year a novel coronavirus disrupted life across the planet. Channel pros will also remember it, however, as a year in which cloud adoption skyrocketed and security threats mushroomed amid an abrupt shift to remote work made necessary by that same global pandemic. With that as context, it’s no surprise that this year’s list of lesser known, up-and-coming, and underappreciated vendors is dominated by makers of solutions for managing cloud environments and safeguarding end users.



Image courtesy of Augmentt

RMM software is so 2005. With software-as-a-service solutions replacing endpoints as the business world’s most mission-critical assets, it’s cloud monitoring and management that matter now. Founded by RMM pioneers Gavin Garbutt and Derek Belair, of N-able fame, Augmentt aims to fill that need with cloud-native products for inventorying online applications and cost-optimizing them. A third system, still forthcoming as of press time, will add provisioning and day-to-day administrative oversight. There’s a “”freemium”” edition for newcomers too, along with separately billed setup and configuration help. 


Like Augmentt, CloudSphere makes cloud cost management software. The other items in CloudSphere‘s bag of tricks, though, are a migration planning assistance system that exposes application dependencies, measures project risk, and more, as well as a cloud security posture management solution that helps you track security status across workloads, monitor compliance with regulatory mandates, and remediate vulnerabilities. Together, CloudSphere says, those three applications add up to a cloud governance platform that among other things can help Microsoft partners satisfy the audit requirements for earning the Azure Expert MSP credential. The products also support Amazon Web Services and Google Cloud Platform.  


This cloud governance vendor parallels CloudSphere in supporting security posture management, compliance monitoring, and cost management. CoreStack also, however, draws on artificial intelligence to provide automated assistance with monitoring, alerts, backup, and patch management in AWS and Azure; anticipate future performance problems; automate online training; and more. 


Two things set this vendor’s platform apart from many of the other cloud management systems in this article: its emphasis on automated creation and management of private clouds in addition to public clouds, and its rich functionality for building cloud applications. Users can list those applications in a self-serve provisioning tool that enables on-demand delivery of operating systems, databases, web servers, and more on bare metal or in virtual machines and containers. The system comes with 100 built-in codeless integrations and extensive support for additional APIs. This is probably not the right product for cloud dabblers, but anyone hoping to collect the steep margins available to channel pros with application development and “”infrastructure as code”” skills should check it out. 


ManageX, from Nuvolex, seeks to be the single pane of glass Microsoft cloud partners have been looking for. The system’s multitenant interface lets you administer physical devices, SaaS applications, and IaaS services; manage cloud and on-premises identities; track license consumption; and more. A basic edition with support for the online edition of Microsoft Exchange, plus Active Directory and Azure Active Directory, goes for $35 per technician per month. The $55 a month professional edition covers Microsoft 365 and Azure too, while the $75 a month enterprise edition adds cross-tenant control over policy and security settings, among other things. 

Simeon Cloud

This vendor’s calling card is Microsoft 365 account configuration, a task that consumes a lot of time when done right and leaves end users vulnerable to breaches when done poorly. The Simeon Cloud solution lets you create a reusable “”golden tenant”” based on a template it supplies, one you create yourself, or one you’ve employed successfully with a customer in the past, and then reuse it when provisioning new clients. A lengthy list of configurable settings covers data retention, user privileges, multifactor authentication, device encryption, password complexity, and much more. Synchronization functionality lets you eliminate inconsistencies across tenants.  



As ChannelPro has said before, there’s no magic formula for which security functions you should outsource to an expert. Most experts agree, however, that penetration testing is one of them. Enter Cobalt and its “”pentest as a service”” platform. For a fixed price, quoted in advance and based on the scale and frequency of the testing required, Cobalt will sic its team of experienced, thoroughly vetted white-hat hackers on your network, application, Amazon Web Services environment, or other target; prepare a detailed vulnerability report; and recommend remediation steps. Alternatively, of course, you can always let a cybercriminal do your pen testing, but partnering with Cobalt is likely to be much less painful. 


Rather than try to block ransomware, CryptoStopper‘s solution is designed to detect and contain it before it does much harm. The system relies on decoys called “”watcher files”” that it strategically scatters across an organization’s Windows-based servers. The instant one of them gets encrypted, CryptoStopper’s software determines which workstation is responsible for the attack, isolates it from the rest of the network, and alerts administrators to the problem—usually, the company says, within a few milliseconds. It’s an ingeniously simple approach that relies neither on quickly outdated blacklists nor complex machine learning algorithms. A version of the system that runs directly on endpoints was in beta testing as of press time.


The vast majority of data breaches and ransomware strikes originate with phishing mails, and the authors of those messages have gotten pretty good at hiding exploits from email security solutions that inspect text only. Cyberfish‘s system uses computer vision technology and artificial intelligence to recognize threats hidden in logos and image files too. The MSP-friendly platform comes with a multitenant interface and integrates with PSA products from ConnectWise, Datto, Kaseya, and Syncro. Subscriptions include access to a 24/7 SOC and an unlimited not-for-resale license you can use to prevent your own employees from getting hooked by phishers. 


It’s an age-old debate in IT: Should you buy everything from one vendor, for the convenience and integration advantages, or mix and match solutions from best-of-breed suppliers? In the quest for layered security, Defendify comes down squarely in the all-in-one camp. Its platform bundles 13 tools—including dark web monitoring, website protection, and detection and response software—in a single package engineered for simplicity and paid for at monthly per-seat rates. An accompanying Essentials package, available free of charge, performs security health checks, scans networks for vulnerabilities, and provides threat intelligence alerts. 

Image courtesy of iProov


Once the province of Hollywood special effects artists and high-performance computing labs, “”deepfake”” technology is rapidly coming within reach of everyday hackers. The implications in an age of cloud-based everything, in which confirming identities is already difficult, are frightening. iProov‘s biometric authentication products use facial verification and palm prints, among other techniques, to ensure that an online user is a real person, the right person, and actually logging in right now. Partners new to biometrics get free access to a trove of sales, marketing, and technical resources. 


Security on-site is all about infrastructure. Security in the cloud is all about identity. Zerotek makes an identity and access management platform built from the ground up for the cloud era. Based on enterprise-oriented IAM software from Okta but tailored to the needs of MSPs, Zerotek’s solution offers a multitenant interface; pay-as-you-go pricing; and integration with Microsoft Azure, AWS, Salesforce, Google, and some 6,000 other environments. There’s also a menu of administrative functions for Microsoft 365, including the ability to onboard and offboard users, reset passwords, assign licenses, and more. Like Augmentt, Zerotek was founded by an RMM trailblazer: former Level Platforms CEO Peter Sandiford. 



This somewhat obscure but surprisingly robust PSA solution aims to be fast and simple on the one hand, yet comprehensive and customizable on the other. An extensive list of ready-to-go integrations includes most of the industry’s top RMM platforms and remote control systems, plus Microsoft 365 and Azure, Google Workspace, Slack, QuickBooks, and much more. Pricing starts at $75 per user per month for three users and drops from there as you buy more seats. Unlimited phone, chat, and email support is included, as is every feature the platform offers—there are no upgrades or add-ons to purchase separately.

Image courtesy of HaloPSA


CloudRadial‘s flagship solution is a bit like a self-serve managed services ticketing portal on steroids. Yes, the system lets customers report problems, check ticket status, order services, and other tasks through integrations with PSA software from ConnectWise, Datto, Kaseya, Syncro, and others. But it also delivers end-user training courses, prepares automated quarterly business reviews, collects customer satisfaction scores, performs compliance assessments, and much more. The end result, according to CloudRadial, is a product that makes both MSPs and their clients more productive. Pricing starts at $295 a month for up to 500 users with no long-term commitment. 


For MSPs, triaging support issues accurately and quickly is critical to keeping customer satisfaction high and operational overhead low. Yet when dispatchers and others with limited technical skills take a help desk call, they often struggle to ask the right questions in the right sequence. Andy, a natural language chatbot, is eager to help. With his automated assistance, Triafy says, even your least tech-savvy employees can collect the information your technicians need to resolve issues swiftly. Subscriptions sell for $85 a month per concurrent seat, with unlimited usage and no contractual commitments. 



This vendor’s distributed object storage solution, named Polycloud, is designed to provide a faster, cheaper alternative to online repositories like Amazon S3, Google Cloud Storage, and Microsoft Azure Blob Storage. Unlike those platforms, which utilize centralized public clouds, CrowdStorage slices data into tiny pieces, encrypts it, and scatters it across unused bits of hard drive space on hundreds of thousands of devices owned and operated by its customers. Fully compatible with any application that uses the popular S3 API, the system costs just $0.004 per GB per month. A separate device backup service protects up to 1TB of data free of charge and provides unlimited storage above that for just $4.99 a month. 


Businesses are increasingly gravitating toward virtual desktop infrastructure solutions to keep remote workers seamlessly productive both at home and at the office. Security concerns, regulatory requirements, and unpredictable pricing models, however, are keeping some organizations away from public cloud VDI platforms like Microsoft’s Windows Virtual Desktop. TetherView‘s Digital Bunker is a private cloud VDI solution fully compliant with HIPAA, PCI DSS, and other standards and backed by an extensive set of network and data security technologies, secure file sharing and BYOD tools, and predictable, flat-rate pricing. Partners pay no setup fees and can white-label the solution. 


There’s money at the edge. In fact, IDC expects global outlays on edge computing to climb at a 12.5% CAGR through 2024 to $250.6 billion. Want in? You’re going to need a collection of technologies from different vendors. ZEDEDA’s mission is connecting all of those products. The company’s cloud-based edge computing orchestration solution promises to help you deploy any app on any hardware in any cloud or on premises, and manage it all through a single interface. The solution supports a wide range of analytics systems, network services, and application frameworks too. 


Trust but verify, a former president once said. Many employers are saying the same thing today. While work-from-home computing hasn’t generated the productivity losses many feared, it has left a lot of managers wondering just what their people are doing all day—and asking their IT provider for help figuring it out. Triton, from Zorus, is a workforce analytics and productivity monitoring solution that watches web and desktop application activity on end-user devices both on and off the company network, and then archives everything it sees for up to six months. Graphical timeline reporting lets you visualize how specific people, groups, or an entire organization are spending their work hours.  

Image: iStock

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