Top 3 CloudTalk Blogs of 2014

As we approach the end of 2014, it’s the perfect time to make resolutions and predictions for 2015, but it’s also a good time to reflect on the “best and worst” events of this year. With regard the CloudTalk blog, out of more than 100 blogs written this year, here were the 3 most popular ones:

#3 — HIPAA Compliance and VoIP — a Q+A with RingCentral’s Niel Levonius
This was a pleasant surprise because it’s less than a week old and has already reached the number three spot. Healthcare is a popular topic among readers and apparently RingCentral’s announcement about its HIPAA compliant offering struck a nerve with a lot of readers, too. By the way, you can still check out Niel Levonius’ live webcast on December 18th by signing up here.

#2 — Discover New Revenue Streams in the ‘FED’ and ‘SLED’ Markets
I wrote this blog while attending Cloud Summit 2014. During this session, Michael Humke, VP of Public Sector and Healthcare at Ingram Micro talked about how the state and local government market (SLED) will represent a $94 billion IT opportunity this year and the federal government will spend $82 billion on IT-related projects. He also shared several services, certifications , and other tips for VARs and MSPs to capitalize on this opportunity. If anyone was able to apply any of Humke’s advice to their business, I’d love to cover it in a follow-up blog.

#1 [Drum Roll, Please!] — Robert Herjavec’s Top Tips for VARs (from IMOne 2014)
One of my most memorable experiences this year was seeing “Shark Tank’s” Robert Herjavec speak at the IMOne show in New Orleans. I was pleasantly surprised to find out that this guy isn’t just your typical entrepreneur — he actually owns his own VAR company! I also loved the fact that he embraced the term VAR, adding: “The terms always change, but at the end of the day you’re always a VAR.

Based on this list, it looks like for 2015 I need to resolve to write more vertically oriented articles and strive to quote more VAR celebrities. Point noted!


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Registration for Cloud Summit 2015 Opens December 10

Cloud Summit 2015

Pre-Register for Cloud Summit 2015

Attention VARs and MSPs: Don’t forget to pre-register for Cloud Summit 2015, an event that’s become widely recognized as the largest and most respected cloud event for the IT channel. Registration opens Wednesday, December 10 for Ingram Micro channel partners and prospects worldwide (registration for associates and sponsors opens in January).

The event will take place in Phoenix, Ariz., March 8-10, 2015 at the Arizona Grand Resort & Spa, and a discounted early bird registration is open until January 31, 2015.

The theme for the 2015 Cloud Summit will be “Where Rainmakers Thrive.” Merriam-Webster defines a rainmaker as: a person who brings in new business; also: a person whose influence can initiate progress or ensure success.

If you’re a cloud rainmaker or aspire to become one, Cloud Summit is the place for you. At this event, you’ll be inspired and gain insights from the IT industry’s top solution providers (value added resellers, system integrators, managed service providers and telecom service providers), cloud services providers, cloud vendors and other cloud innovators, analysts and thought leaders.

The event also will be keynoted by American hero Chesley B. “Sully” Sullenberger, III, who is best known for serving as Captain during what has been dubbed the “Miracle on the Hudson.” Sullenberger currently serves as the founder and CEO of Safety Reliability Methods, Inc., a company dedicated to management, safety, performance, and reliability consulting. At the event, he will take the main stage to share his views on how preparation, leadership and focus are the keys to overcoming any obstacle—both in business and in life.

Robert Stephens, Founder of Geek Squad, will be the keynote on day two of the show. Stephens is a rainmaker who started his business in a unique way and with a unique value proposition. He has a story that’s engaging to reseller business owners — building something from nothing, including the branding and marketing that made Geek Squad a household name.

You can follow the Ingram Micro Cloud Summit 2015 on Twitter @IngramCloud and via the hashtag #IngramCloudSummit. To learn more about this event and/or to pre-register visit

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HIPAA Compliance and VoIP — a Q+A with RingCentral’s Niel Levonius

If you sell backup and disaster recovery (BDR) or other IT solutions to clients in the healthcare vertical you’re well aware of the strict guidelines around protecting personal health information (PHI). With VoIP systems now putting phone conversations on the network, this technology also needs to be encrypted and protected in a healthcare environment. But, does your VoIP vendor support these security requirements?

Niel Levonius, Director of Product Marketing, RingCentral

Niel Levonius, Director of Product Marketing, RingCentral

I recently spoke with Niel Levonius, Director of Product Marketing at RingCentral about this subject. Below is a summary of our conversation, or if you prefer you can check out the audio version of our interview here:

Q: Can you give us a brief overview of RingCentral?

Niel Levonius:  RingCentral is a publicly traded cloud-based communications service provider.

Since 2003, we have been breaking down the communication barriers created by complex on premise PBXs by delivering cloud-based business communications that free people to work the way they want.

Today’s workforce is mobile, distributed and always-on. Delivered on a state-of-the-art cloud infrastructure, our cloud communications solutions are helping more than 300,000 customers thrive in this new world of work.

Q: I understand RingCentral recently released new HIPAA compliant options – Can you briefly explain how your HIPAA version of RingCentral differs from your standard offering?

Niel Levonius:  RingCentral now offers expanded HIPAA compliant options for qualified customers in the healthcare industry.  New security features, including secure voice and data encryption at rest, will increase protection of customer data and help prevent unauthorized access to protected healthcare information.

By offering enhanced security protocols, RingCentral is now able to offer expanded HIPAA compliant options, including the ability to comply with HIPAA Business Associate Agreements for qualified customers.

Q: Who are you targeting with this solution?

Niel Levonius:  Healthcare is a large industry in the United States, an industry that has been traditionally underserved by cloud-based communications providers.

We believe this has provided us with an opportunity to provide differentiated world-class service to the Healthcare Industry. We have developed and are marketing RingCentral’s HIPAA compliant options to healthcare providers and related businesses that may be regulated by HIPAA.

Q: How does your version of HIPAA compliance differentiate you from your competitors?

Niel Levonius:  A majority of our competition in the cloud-based business communications market does not offer HIPAA compliant solutions. By offering the previously mentioned secured voice and data encryption at rest capabilities, we have set ourselves apart from other more horizontally focused companies in the cloud communications business.

Additionally, RingCentral has completed a HIPAA risk assessment by a third-party and can provide customers a report documenting the results of our solution.

Q: When when will these HIPAA compliant options be available and where can VARs and MSPs get more information?

Niel Levonius:  Our HIPAA compliant options are available now for qualified customers.  I’ll be hosting a webinar on December 18th to expand on RingCentral’s HIPAA offering.  All attendees will have a chance to win a Fitbit. IT solution providers interested in learning more about this offering can find more information here, or they can contact the Ingram Micro Cloud Services team at 800-705-7057, option 5, or by email at

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Ingram Micro Announces Significant Enhancements to their Cisco Hosted Collaboration Solution (HCS) Offering

Cisco’s HCS is a proven, best-of-breed solution that can purchased from multiple vendors today. So the question becomes, what can one vendor offer that another can’t? Who can solution providers turn to when they need to enhance their offering to include options like redundant data centers and design, delivery, and operational expertise?

To better assist solution providers with this challenge, Ingram Micro recently announced a new and enhanced version of their Cisco Hosted Collaboration Solution (HCS).  What’s new and exciting about this offer is Ingram Micro has partnered with Netelligent Corporation, a well-known leader in the collaboration space, to provide one of the most robust HCS solutions available. Netelligent Corporation will host this solution and offer a comprehensive set of options to accommodate the varying needs of the Ingram Micro partner base.

Jason Bystrak, Senior Director of The Americas, Ingram Micro

Jason Bystrak, Senior Director of The Americas, Ingram Micro

“By partnering with Netelligent, we’re able to provide our partners with a new, broad set of complimentary services around HCS,” says Jason Bystrak, Senior Director – The Americas, Ingram Micro. “Now partners can offer a broader solution that includes hosted voice, instant messaging, web conferencing and Cisco Contact Center — all offered via state-of-the-art redundant data centers for high availability and disaster recovery. Combine this with a cloud-based ‘as-a-service’ consumption model and it’s the perfect recipe for success.”

“With hosted VoIP and collaboration being adopted at increasing rates, the timing is perfect for Netelligent Corporation to join forces with Ingram Micro to bring Cisco’s industry leading HCS solution to market,” says Bob Hollander, Vice President, Sales and Marketing, Netelligent. “Clients are clamoring for solutions that reduce the complexities and excess costs of on-premises solutions. The combination of Netelligent’s UC and telecom market experience, combined with Ingram Micro’s world-class Partner infrastructure, allows us to provide the Cisco partner base with a new, very appealing solution.”

Ingram Micro partners Synetra and GigaKOM were both early adopters of this new offer and had the following comments.

“Synetra has several customers using the Cisco HCS solution provided by Ingram Micro and Netelligent. In each case the implementation was seamless and the customers couldn’t be happier” says Ken Leaman, Director of Operations at Synetra.

Ingram Micro reseller partner Andrej Komatina, CEO of GigaKOM, added, “We work a lot with the K-12 educational market and have seen the need among clients using on-premises Call Manager phone systems to decrease their hardware expenses, maintenance costs, and other related fees. By offering this new solution, we’re able to provide the same service with more features — automatic updates, better support, and simpler billing — at a savings of up to 40% over a five-year period.”

Cisco certified resellers interested in learning more about this offering should contact Michael Perry, the Senior Manager of Cisco Cloud at Ingram Micro, via email at:

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A Struggling MSP Finds 247% in New Revenue Growth

Jeff Gilbert found himself in a difficult predicament a couple of years ago. “Hardware margins were shrinking, IT was moving to the cloud, and it was getting harder and harder just to remain flat,” says Gilbert, CEO of Verve Networks, a managed service provider (MSP) specializing in BDR, cloud computing, network care and virtualization.

As an Ingram Micro SMB Alliance partner, Gilbert interacted with several other IT service partners faced with the same challenge. After much discussion about the best path to take, these partners found success by working more closely with Ingram Micro and other SMB Alliance partners.

Find out which partnership Gilbert made a serious commitment to, and how it paid off big time: SMART PARTNERSHIP LEADS TO LIMITLESS SUCCESS.

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Take a Metrics-Based Approach to Managed Services Success

Michael Kraner, CEO, Primary Support Solutions

Michael Kraner, CEO,
Primary Support Solutions

One of the recurring themes we see on CloudTalk as well as channel publications like Business Solutions is the struggle IT solution providers go through when getting into managed services. When I first met Michael Kraner, CEO of  managed services provider Primary Support and co-founder and director of MSP consulting firm MSP CFO, I initially wondered if this company was an exception.  The MSP has earned several accolades over the past couple of years, including a top-200 ranking in the 2013 Ingram Micro SMB 500 list (in addition to a top-40 ranking in 2012), a ranking among Inc. magazine’s fastest 5,000 growing private companies in 2013, and the number-28 spot on this year’s CRN Fast Growth list.

Kraner shared with me that there were indeed struggles getting his company to where it is today, and one of his biggest frustrations was the lack of assistance he found early on from CPA firms, which simply don’t understand the MSP business model and the importance of a PSA (professional services automation) solution, which has useful data that’s not captured in QuickBooks or other accounting software.

Once Kraner found the right help and was able to extract the real-time data from his PSA, he was then able to make a turnaround in his business that was so profound that it led to launching another company dedicated to helping other MSPs do the same. You can learn more about Kraner’s success story by reading “A Successful MSP Launches a New Business by Focusing on the Numbers.

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Don’t Miss Ingram Micro Cloud Leaders Renee Bergeron and Dan Shapero at the 2014 Cloud Channel Summit and NexGen Conference & Expo

december-2014-calendar2Mark your calendars! If you’re in the San Diego area December 3-5, don’t miss the opportunity to see Ingram Micro’s top cloud leaders in action. Dan Shapero, Director of Global Marketing, Cloud at Ingram Micro, will join an Executive Roundtable at the 2014 Cloud Channel Summit, while Renee Bergeron, Vice President, Worldwide Cloud Computing at Ingram Micro, will head up a panel presentation at the NexGen Conference & Expo. Both industry events are collocated at the San Diego Marriott & Convention Center.

Jeff Kaplan’s strategic consulting firm THINKstrategies and the company’s service division, Cloud Computing Showplace, are teaming with the Channel Company, publisher of CRN, to collocate the 2014 Cloud Channel Summit with the NexGen Cloud Conference & Expo. The events will provide VARs, systems integrators and other channel companies with valuable information about how to build successful Cloud services.

Dan Shapero will be participating in an Executive Roundtable at the Cloud Channel Summit focusing on “Future Models for Partner Success in the Cloud.” The event will be moderated by Carolyn April, Senior Director of Industry Analysis at CompTIA and will include additional panelists from Reflexion, Swift Chip, and Datto.

“It’s always great to have the opportunity to share the stage with channel peers, to engage with our Cloud Community and to share insights and best practices from my years of experience working in the industry, as well as, from working with Ingram Micro channel partners,” says Shapero.

Reneé Bergeron will be participating in a “Cloud Vendor Executive Panel” discussion on December 4 at the NexGen Conference & Expo. Bergeron, along with executives from IBM, ServiceNow, and will discuss the Cloud’s impact on the partner ecosystem.

“Whether an attendee is brand new to selling cloud solutions and services or an industry veteran, this panel discussion will help them gain a deeper understanding of the partnering and alliance strategies of today’s leading cloud vendors,” says Bergeron. “This session will also help solution providers align their skills, competencies and investments so they can maximize their sales and marketing strategies.”

If you’re in the area and would like to attend, you can register online here, until end of day Friday, Nov. 28.  For more information on these events, check out and

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