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    The Place to Start-up or Start Over!
Jamison West’s Start Over Strategy 
Further supporting our basic contention that now is the time to start over as existing MSPs, Jamison West’s Arterian MSP practice announced this week it was acquired by Texas-based Aldridge. But there’s more to this story then a simple acquisition – its more complex. Read on.

Over 26-years, Jamison has built up a successful Seattle technology services company starting organically and then shifting to strategic acquisitions over the past eight years. Jamison is no different than most of us having experienced ups and downs on the journey but seemingly landing right side up at the end of the day.
When I met with Jamison at his Lower Queen Anne offices just north of downtown Seattle (think Space Needle neighborhood), he shared some context to the secular press release that positions Aldridge bursting on to the Pacific Northwest scene. His story is really about starting over with a fresh balance sheet and his attention focused on building a nimble and agile Cloud Services Provider (CSP) practice.

The facts are that Aldridge wholly acquired Arterian out right:
  • Aldridge is consolidating the operations of Arterian and PacketDrivers, retaining most personnel and launching the Seattle office of Aldridge.
  • Aldridge has appointed PacketDrivers Founder Scott Hamlin to the position of Vice President and General Manager to lead the Seattle operation.
  • Aldridge has retained the Arterian brand and has established a subsidiary devoted to Microsoft's CSP (Cloud Solution Provider) program.
  • Aldridge appointed Arterian Founder Jamison West as President of the newly-formed subsidiary.
West shared that an MSP practice and a CSP practice are two different lines of work. I concur. West will now solely focus on further building the CSP practice while Aldridge sticks to the knitting running the MSP practice. West is widely regarded as a Microsoft insider who essentially enjoys a leg up in his quest to both define and master the CSP business model.

So West’s start over via acquisition is a fresh start, allowing him to develop a different revenue and cost model not saddled with legacy assets and big iron payroll. Aldridge enjoys an operational advantage as it simply plugs more technicians into an existing large MSP practice.
Back to the behavioral aspects of the acquisition. West has arrived at the same conclusion that changing times call loud and clear for a start over strategy. Doing the same (aka doing nothing) was unacceptable. And anyone who know West knows he doesn’t sit still for long.
We’ll continue to monitor West’s start over with periodic updates with his success and challenges so you can leverage his learning experiences.

PS – I was right last week in the Super Bowl - Broncos won!

SMB Salary Survey for 2016 is OPEN! 
Wonder how you measure up? Here is your chance to both provide community data and then discover the results in a future blog. Think of it as training data for a BIG DATA experiment in SMB. You can participate confidentially and contribute to the data set. The more participants we have, the greater the value of the data. Again, we’ll happily share the results with you. 

Thank you in advance and participate in the survey here: 

We appreciate the generous support of Atera ( in underwriting this community survey. 
What’s the real value behind Unified Communications?
    Whatever communications and collaboration systems you already have in place; if you can get them working in harmony, you stand to reap tangible bottom line benefits as well as providing users with a far richer and more intuitive user experience.
That’s the promise of Unified Communications (UC); to combine and enhance communications capabilities via a single platform.

Unified Communications simply describes what business has always needed – communications and collaboration working in harmony to achieve benefits for ROI and the user experience.
Yet if you asked 10 IT Directors for their definition of UC, you’d probably get 10 different answers so let’s simplify it to “An easy way to work together via voice, video, online collaboration and mobile devices”.
Defining the ‘what’ is one thing but why would businesses need Unified Communications?
Here are the five most popular reasons cited by organisations that have deployed and use UC technologies.
Enabling better ways for people to get more done together.
Ensuring the business is always available to do business.
Supporting a connected workforce demanding 24/7 access from anywhere, using any kind of mobile device.
Leveraging, rather than stranding, existing and potential IT investments.
Future Proofing
Being ready for uncertain future challenges.
To discover more download our guide to Unified Communications which explores the five most popular reasons for committing to a UC future and shares real-life feedback from businesses about the value of UC.


Turn Office 365 into a Power Tool


Small business customers don’t fully appreciate all of the new features in Office 365 that can revolutionize their ability to work smarter and faster – and I am not speaking about the obvious “move your office to the cloud” advantages either.


365Let me state that this assertion relates to both Office 365 for Business and the Office suite of programs, since they are melding together both functionally and in the way Microsoft is marketing them.

The “move your office to the cloud” advantages are by now well known: work from anywhere, better security, scalable licensing, and automatic upgrades. But beyond those advantages lie some real game changers for small businesses that are often email-centric and don’t naturally gravitate to newer online services. Office 365 for business paired with the Office suite are enabling some massive workflow changes that users can get excited about, namely:

Read More


Atera Revisited! 

Several readers asked for a rerun of the Atera pricing conversation. Here it is.
Dazed and Amazed: Atera’s Disruptive PSA and RMM Pricing Model

Once in a great while, disruptive financial models are created. Take derivate trading in the financial markets and how that led to high speed trading an amazing disruption.

Atera is out to do the same by essentially offering a futures contract where you lock in your PSA/RMM pricing based on the number of technicians you employ, not the number of device. It’s a brilliant strategy and makes sense with the commoditization of IT at SMB customer sites.

Why the "paying per device" model is killing the growth of your MSP business
If you avoid Atera’s attractive pricing offer, you do so at your own peril. That’s because you subjective you and your family’s financial welfare to the diminishing returns of IT management. Allow me to assert my argument.
1.Penalized for growing – when you grow, your traditional PSA and RMM supplier grows on your expense, since new customer will require you to spend more money on monitoring of new servers & workstations. Loosely translated, there is no upside financial leverage. Your RMM and PSA costs are essentially variable costs and that makes it tough to increase profitability margins.


Grant Thompson’s 60-mins of Windows 10 Radio Show FAME!
image   Many of you know that Grant Thompson is our rock star with respect to Windows 10 and Office 365. He’s about to launch our 9-city roadshow starting in Redmond followed by New York City and beyond. You can learn more and sign-up here:

But did you know that just this last Tuesday, February 9th, Grant was the guest on the popular BizTechTalk radio show on KLAY 1180AM broadcasting in the Seattle-area? Hosted by fellow MSP and radio personality Darrel Bowman (pictured) and former Microsoft executive Amy Ansel, Grant articulated a comprehensive Windows 10 customer strategy during his 60 minutes of fame.
You can listen to Grant here:

More importantly, you can see Grant live at our roadshow workshops by signing-up here:

Windows 10 Webinars - Back by Popular Demand
Back by popular demand Office 365 webinars
Ten Killer Features in Windows 10 
Deploying Windows 10 (part 2 of 3)
Windows 10 + Office 365 & Special Topics = Immediate Knowledge Power!
Back by popular demand Windows 10 webinars
With many requests to learn more about Office 365 and Windows 10, SMB Nation has teamed with Microsoft to bring you a three day webinar series starting February 23rd to February 25th focusing on Office 365 and Windows 10.  This webinar series will help you learn everything from deploying Windows 10 to gaining immediate knowledge of key features.   Join SMB Nation and Grant Thompson for this amazing deep dive.

February 23rd Webinar
Ten Killer Features in Windows 10

This session will take you through what’s best in Windows 10. Expert Grant Thompson will filter out the “noise” so customers receive “signal” ad are immediately productive at the end of this one hour investment.
  1. The Start button (Yah!)
  2. Windows Store Apps
  3. Cortana
Read More

February 24th Webinar
Deploying Windows 10 (part 2 of 3)

This session will take you through Windows10 deployment from an outside-looking-in independent expert viewpoint. Needless to say, there are new and updated ways to deploy Windows 10. In this session, we review new recommendations for upgrading existing devices using a simple in-place upgrade process, provisioning tools for transforming new devices into ones ready for enterprise use, as well as updates to traditional deployment tools and techniques (ADK and beyond).

Read More

February 25th Webinar
Windows 10 + Office 365 & Special Topics = Immediate Knowledge Power!

Join us for Part III of our three-part webinar series focused on Windows 10. In this instalment, we direct our expertise to discussing Office 365 integrations with Windows 10 plus a host of special topics that have accumulated over the first two webinars.
Topics include:
  • Windows 10 with Office 365 is the Azure AD Join
  • Any special reason why you are still using Office 2013 instead of Office 2016?
  • What’s the current state of OneDrive storage with Windows 10 and Office 365?
Read More
Roadshow! Geek Grad School for MSPs
image   Story by Harry Brelsford, CEO, SMB Nation - 

We’re back! Time to hit the road and bring the bits to YOU! No travel, no hotel and daylong advanced Office 365 and Windows 10 technical content. Over winter and spring quarter, we’ll be back in familiar NFL cities plus add a few new destinations.chicago event hardcore

New Year’s Resolution

In 2016 it’s your chance to recommit to being a life learner. You’re in tech and every decade you have to reinvent and start over. Now is that time. So invest one day to discover that our amazing independent content will help you navigate the sheer madness with the technology shift underway.

Assured Outcomes

One thing you can count on is our independent outside view looking in. We take our role as community ombudsman very seriously. You will learn something you didn’t know and you’ll leave with actionable outcomes applicable at work the very next day. No high-level blue badges babbling mission fit and strategy folks – it’s bits and bytes.

The four extended content sessions are:

• Office 365 and Azure Active Directory
• Deliver Existing Apps from The Cloud

Click Here To Read More


February 14, 2016
Issue 10-31



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