March 3, 2016
There has been a lot of news coverage of the new wave of ransomware infecting businesses, encrypting hard drives and data on network shares and creating a “ransom” demand in order to unencrypt it. Initially these viruses traveled as typical viruses do – as executable attachments or inside zip files. Most popular of these was CryptoLocker which has made millions of dollars from businesses that didn’t have adequate protection, most recently from a Hollywood hospital that paid $17,000 to get it’s data back. But ransomware has taken a more evil turn – traveling not as an executable that users have been trained to avoid but as a macro inside Word and Excel documents that users often open without a second thought.
As with any threat, it’s important to layer protection and defend your business with a good firewall, good desktop security product as well as a perimeter scanning service we provide through ExchangeDefender.
ExchangeDefender Layered Protection
Before we discuss how ExchangeDefender protects you from ransomware, the most important aspect of IT security isn’t prevention – it’s education:
If you receive an attachment of any kind from a source you don’t recognize: do not open it.
If you receive an attachment from a source that you do recognize but it looks and feels suspicious: do not open it. If the email address looks wrong, if there are misspelled words, unusual formatting or unusual activity: stop.
But let’s talk about prevention. Our partners have many options of using ExchangeDefender to stop the spread of dangerous malware.
Attachment & Content Type Blocking: The following process is the most flawless, but most disruptive, way to address an epidemic. You can choose to let ExchangeDefender block attachments that are used by Microsoft Office documents. We do not recommend this route but it’s nice to know it’s there for the events in which people are getting infected and virus scanning has not been able to pick up threats faster than they are infecting systems.
OLE Virus Filtering: ExchangeDefender will block macro (.vbs) attachments outright. But with the rise of Locky ransomware we now also scan Microsoft Office documents and look for infected and dangerous malware placed in those.
Known Threat Sources: ExchangeDefender also blocks dangerous content before it’s even an issue. Most of the threatening content is sent from the same sources that are popular with spammers, hackers and malware distributors: hacked PCs, servers, and blog sites. We maintain a realtime list of networks that spread dangerous content and routinely block their ability to infect our users.
Firewall & Site Blocking: Ultimately, the largest single source of infections isn’t the ExchangeDefender protected or hosted mailbox – it comes through Yahoo mail, Gmail and other non-business email service. If you aren’t blocking those at your work you need to be.
What else can be done?
As mentioned above, client education is the #1 way to address these. Contact our marketing department and ask them to build you a branded best practices flyer for email and Outlook (Hosted Exchange clients only). There are very simple ways to tell when a message is not from your bank or from UPS.
Establish a regularly scheduled backup system for all critical client PCs.
Layer your antivirus protection. No, one AV vendor is not enough and ExchangeDefender uses several commercial and dozens of proprietary data sources to detect and isolate dangerous content. No matter how much you love your single AV vendor and they claim they are the best – like everyone else they will have an infection evade their scan. If you only have one AV engine, consider adding something like ClamAV to your arsenal.
Establish a review of policies and security implementations. We often see that partners rarely configure ExchangeDefender or monitor it in a way that gives them actionable intelligence. The same can be said for client PCs: Are you monitoring your AV implementations? Are you checking that users aren’t turning off AV or firewalls? Are you looking at strange traffic patterns, use of private proxy or VPN networks to evade network security policies?
CryptoLocker and Locky are neither the first nor the most dangerous threats networks face. But with ExchangeDefender, education and layered security we can keep most online outbreaks from affecting business operations.
September 26, 2013
Since we’ve announced the launch of our new managed migrations we’ve been getting a lot of great feedback, many of you are ready to jump on board and get the ball rolling! ExchangeDefender is proud to be the only company on the market with this type of offering. We are here to help you understand how to successfully position the service and increase your profit margins to a number you’ve never seen before! Last week I gave you a general overview of the migrations , this week I will discuss the first step in the process, the sale.
· Be Prepared- One of the most important aspects of selling, or anything for that matter is being prepared. The end user does not have the vast knowledge of the cloud like you do; it’s your job to help educate them so they can see the value. Not only will they need to understand the cloud, they will need to understand the offerings being presented to them. When selling ExchangeDefender’s Hosted Exchange the client will need to comprehend there is a difference in the services they will receive from ExchangeDefender vs. the competition. As I discussed last week, ExchangeDefender is specifically designed to be a business enterprise solution, this is immensely different from the barebones, minimum cheap-o solution. To guarantee you are prepared, we offer FREE customized collateral for your business! Our collateral makes it simple to understand the product and its features; your clients will know exactly what they’re getting.
· Time and Cost- As you’ve probably experienced time and time again, the two most frequently asked questions and deciding factors for business owners are- how much will this cost and how long will this take/will I be down? Always come prepared with pricing and the scope of the project! E-mail is the primary form of communication and life blood of their business, so it makes sense they do not want to experience any downtime or difficulties that might arise from a migration. Migrations take time and time is money, but with our managed migrations you won’t have to worry about spending hours of your time or the client’s time ever again. We have developed a migration process that will allow us to seamlessly migrate their mail and this can all be done during off-peak hours. By the time they come in Monday morning, all of their mail will have been migrated to ExchangeDefender’s platform. We see the process through end to end. Price is also an important factor for business owners. As I discussed, your client will need to understand that what you’re offering with ExchangeDefender may be a few bucks more each month, but we are offering a true business enterprise solution, unlike the competition. Since we are doing the migration for you and that is pure profit, you have a little more flexibility on the quote for the migration piece. This will help offset some of the other cost and the client will be more willing to work with you. Most of our partners make their money off the migrations, not the monthly fees they collect from Hosted Exchange. We are giving you the opportunity to pocket every penny of the migration fee.
· Contract and Payment-The last and final step is documentation and setting up a payment agreement. Going back to being prepared, make sure you always have the contract on hand! Also, make sure to always have the payment details in writing and have them sign that agreement.
If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me directly at : Anastasia@ownwebnow.com or 877-546-0316 x 739.
September 25, 2013
One of the best things about working at ExchangeDefender is helping partners realize that they can make great, predictable, recurring income from cloud services. It’s no secret that MSP’s and IT solution providers have been slow to adopt “The Cloud,” but things are changing.
By now you should have heard about the Migration Service that ExchangeDefender has been blogging and talking about through social media, our website, as well as webinars. This new service provides a value added solution to our partners, that no other cloud provider is offering as an included part of their Hosted Exchange platform.
What this means for you, is that the service you have been charged for by others, is now a definitive way to earn additional revenues. Let’s deep dive into exactly how you can price this solution to your customers.
There are many ways to price an add-on service such as the ExchangeDefender migration solution. The most common pricing models are, “including the pricing in the recurring monthly fee,” “charging an upfront flat project fee,” or “charging customers hourly.”
Hourly Fee Option:
With the migration solution, adding on an hourly fee for the migration may not be the best option. Since there will be very little, if any onsite tech time, an hourly fee may be harder to justify and may create unwanted questioning by the customer after the job is complete. For this reason, we would advise against this pricing model.
Upfront Project Fee Option:
An upfront project fee has been a very common way of infusing cash into an IT business. Since the migration is included with the hosted exchange platform, there is no cost for the MSP. This means that any upfront fees for the migration are 100% revenues for the business. Many MSP’s and IT providers that currently provide Exchange migrations are just continuing with their normal fee structure. If you currently do not have a fee structure, we outline some ideas and options in the next section.
Recurring Monthly Fee Option:
Many MSP’s are beginning to offer easy payment options built into their managed or cloud services. This option allows customer to signup for services and get the work done, without having to come out of pocket for an initial project cost. The advantage for many is an easier sale to customers, and the advantage of a continuous recurring revenue stream, which continues to grow over time. In this scenario there is no real end game for the customer. Most will continue to pay the monthly fee until they no longer need the service, “and who doesn’t need email?”
Pricing is straightforward. Determine what you would normally charge for this service as a project. We generally see prices from our partners, which range from $200 to $2000+, depending on the size of the user base. ($100 per user is a good start if you are unsure of what to charge.)
Once you have determined this price, it is a matter of dividing that price over the amount of months you have signed an agreement with your customer for. For instance, if you were to charge a $1000 project fee, and the agreement length is 36 months, divide $1000 by 36 to get an add-on of $27.00mo. You can break this down even further by then dividing that number by the total users. If you have 10 users just divide $27 by 10, this means you will add an additional $2.70 to each hosted exchange mailbox for the life of the contract and beyond.
What all of this means for your business is you will make “loads of cash,” and unlike comparative solutions like Office 365 or other competitors, you are not required to handle the migration yourself, or outsource to expensive solution companies that provide services to these vendors. This gives you a major advantage over your competitors, and allows you to build and grow your business even further.
September 16, 2013
Recently, ExchangeDefender announced its new Migration and Support for Service Providers offering. The very thought of migrating a company’s business messaging solution to another platform (i.e. a different vendor or to the cloud) can send a client over the edge—if not properly informed about process and set at ease by you, the partner. After deciding that your client’s business messaging solution isn’t up to par, it’s your duty as their technology expert to seek out a well established alternative that offers all the features that are required for a secured and compliant messaging solution—namely, ExchangeDefender! But what happens after you found ExchangeDefender and you need to migrate their existing email platform over to ExchangeDefender’s Hosted Exchange 2013 platform? That is where our new Migration and Support Services comes in!
What’s Included in the Migration and Support Service?
By developing the Migrations and Support solutions, we have essentially removed yet another large thorn from our partners’ side. Now you can offer your potential (and existing) client base a hosted exchange solution powered by ExchangeDefender with migration support as well. ExchangeDefender staff will plan and execute the migration of your client’s data and configuration on behalf of your company. This includes:
Pre-migration consulting & assessment;
Configuration check, migration scope;
Provisioning new mailboxes;
Adding existing forwarders, aliases, and distribution groups;
Provide migration collateral to end users;
Provide migration support for 1 week;
Full transparency on everything we do
In essence, all you need to do from a partner standpoint is let your clients know that your Migration and Support Team will be in contact with them to start the migration process as soon as they are ready to cut over services. ExchangeDefender will take it from there!
Interacting with Your Clients
As previously mentioned, ExchangeDefender will take the lead on the migration process as a representative and extension of your company. Your clients will never know the difference. After you submit a request for migration to us, we get the ball rolling for contacting your client directly and starting the migration process. Pre-assignments will be performed and configurations checked. Our Migration and Support Team will then schedule the migration process with your client and provide them with a list of items that will be performed. The goal is to make your clients feel at ease with the entire process and ensure a safe and expedient transfer of all records, emails, contacts, calendar, etc. Again, everything we do will be transparent!
Tell Me More About The Support Service.
With the Migration and Support service, our ExchangeDefender staff will provide ongoing technical and customer service support to your clients on behalf of your company. Operating 24/7/365 and under your brand, our staff will answer any technical or customer service calls dealing with email issues or questions pertaining to their email. If we receive a call that is not related to email, we will log the call into your existing PSA/CRM infrastructure. Don’t have an existing PSA/CRM platform? Check out Shockey Monkey—it’s FREE as well!
September 12, 2013
It’s here, the end-all be-all! As many of you may know we have some big things going on here at ExchangeDefender. Just last week we announced our new plan for managed migrations. In case you missed it, we are now going to start doing your migrations for you at no additional cost! That’s right; we will do the work for you. This new service will save you time as well as making you more profitable. Here’s what managed migrations can offer for you!
- No more long hours: We wanted to make this as easy and seamless as possible. No longer will you have to spend countless hours on migrating mail, we take care of it for you. With less time spent on migrations you will be able to focus on generating new business. More business equals more money.
- 100 percent profit- Not only will you be able to increase revenue by saving time, you’ll also be able to pocket the entire cost of the migrations and not have to put in any work yourself. And no longer will your techs have to spend their time doing migrations, thus leaving you with additional revenue. When you spend less time managing the clients infrastructure you are able to focus on helping them with other aspects of their business.
- Less Headaches- Whether you’ve been in the industry for 20 years or 2 years, you know the Cloud is the next big thing. The cloud makes it easy and simple to manage your clients. ExchangeDefender offers a central admin console and we give you the control. You don’t have to worry about someone within the company trying to mess with things; you are the only one in control and with the ability to access their accounts.
It’s important for you to see the value in this service, but what about your customers? How do you convince your client to make the switch?
- Value : When upgrading or switching their infrastructure, many small business owners are very price conscious and only willing to do the bare minimum. Your clients will only pay for what they see value in and e-mail, after all is an essential function for day to day business activities. Upgrades to their filer server and ActiveDirectory can be costly and timely, something most owners are not willing to deal with. These are not changes that impact daily business activities, so appeal to their needs.
- Redundancy- With ExchangeDefender’s redundancy in place, our services are much more reliable than a SBS that has a single point of failure. So in the event something does happen we are redundant , which allows your clients to continue working as normal .
- Price- The cloud is a significantly cheaper alternative to SBS servers. First, there is the cost of the server, and then there is the maintenance and what about if the server goes down? These are all additional cost incurred by the business that they could be allocating elsewhere. Not to mention the space it takes up.
Next week I’ll discuss how to price the solution. You’ll need to understand what others are charging and strategies for presenting to the customer. The first step in this process is you, as the partner understanding the comparisons. When presenting this offer to clients, you are not comparing apples to apples if you’re presenting ExchangeDefender vs. the bare bones competition solution, you’re comparing apples to oranges. So don’t be fooled by the competition.
For more information, please contact me at : Anastasia@ownwebnow.com or 877-546-0316 x 739.
September 10, 2013
By now, there should be little argument left about the disadvantages of moving your clients messaging platform to the cloud. From a MSPs point of view, hosted email is a no brainer. Very little knowledge of the technology is required to start offering a hosted exchange solution to your client base. In fact, the only skills you need to possess to open an entirely new revenue stream for your business is the ability to type and follow directions. What I want to express to you now is that you don’t need to be an Exchange Administrator, or even need to know how the technology works for you to offer a hosted Exchange solution to your clients. Having ExchangeDefender takes away all the headaches of having to setup, maintain, and support your hosted Exchange clients.
How ExchangeDefender’s Hosted Exchange Benefit both You and Your Client
The benefits for you as an MSP are relatively simply to understand: It allows your business to expand its technical offerings; which in turn, adds an additional revenue stream coming into your company. The advantages for your client is that they can finally stop worrying about that single point of failure called a server sitting in the supply closet. ExchangeDefender consists of 40 data centers worldwide and offer many services such as email hygiene, LiveArchiving, and mobile device support using ActiveSync technology built directly into our hosted Exchange platform. Other services such as long-term compliance archiving and corporate encryption can be easily added on when requested. ExchangeDefender has everything you need to offer your clients a reliable and compliant messaging platform.
Email Setup and Migration
By partnering with ExchangeDefender as your messaging solutions provider, you receive unsurpassed support in setting up and migrating your clients existing messaging platform to ExchangeDefender’s global network. The most important item to remember when talking to your clients about migrating their existing email is to constantly communicate with them—step by step. This should be accomplished in a sit down meeting with the necessary people in your clients firm. Your biggest job is to assure your client that no emails will be lost, mail will continue to flow, and that downtime will be kept at a minimum. All of this can be achieved by simply keeping them in the loop. Providing them with workflow documentation as to how the migration will occur will greatly reduce their worries of not being able to access their email for an extended period of time. Explain to them that their mail will be moved, the MX mail records will be modified, and Outlook/mobile devices will be configured. The benefit to you, the partner, comes from the recent announcement of ExchangeDefender’s new Migration Service for Solution Providers. This service allows you and your techs to concentrate on other projects in your business while ExchangeDefender handles your client’s mail migration and support for you.
Wrapping It All Up (with a Bow on Top)
Steve Jobs was quoted many times in his life. One of my favorite quotes of his was. “People don’t know what they want until you show them.” How can your clients know what is technologically best for their company if you never show them or talk to them about it. Most MSPs I talk to and know are sadly leaving money on the table because they are scared of the technology necessary to pitch solution to their clients. ExchangeDefender is removing all those barriers for your company. By partnering with ExchangeDefender, you can comfortably offer a secured and compliant messaging solution with migration and support services included.
September 9, 2013
CEO Preface: While discussing and planning the migration and support services you found out during our last webinar, many of our partners were at the same time concerned and excited about what they could do with the time that would be freed up with someone else taking care of support and migration. Aside from the fact that the migration project is done on your behalf and you can (and should and will!) still bill for it, here are some things to think about as we get suggestions from our partners that are on board with this project already.
For many MSP’s and IT solution providers, Exchange migrations have been a long, sometimes frustrating, and tedious task. At times, when things go awry, the migration can lead to upset customers and cause rifts in a fragile relationship, leaving little opportunity to pursue additional sales. This has some IT companies instead, cleaning up, apologizing, and heading for the hills. But, what if you didn’t have to worry about doing a migration? Then what?
ExchangeDefender recently announced a new migration service for partners selling the XD Hosted Exchange platform. This exciting new service will free up tech time and sales cleanup by handling all aspects of the migration from beginning to end, providing immediate revenues and additional opportunities.
It should be no surprise that happy customers buy more. Keeping customers happy through the initial phases of a transition, cutover, installation, or rip and rebuild can be difficult. But, when you don’t have a migration project to worry about, the focus can shift to the customer and less on the work.
This is important, especially for new customers, but even for long time customers where you have built trust. The reason is that often time’s customers can feel uninformed or left out of the process when a project is underway. This is not, by any means on purpose by the provider; instead it is the byproduct of the need to stay within the job-costing model without eating into to revenues when a project goes beyond its initial scope.
So some things to do when you don’t have to worry about a migration are:
1. Focus on The Customer – This can be things like providing regular updates, visiting the site, bringing by lunch or donuts for the office, or just giving that extra bit of attention you may not have otherwise been able to provide.
2. Provide Additional Recommendations- When you aren’t focused on the project at hand, you can take more time to look around and see what else needs attention. Revisit your initial walkthrough and discuss any further products or services the customer may require.
3. Talk with Individual Employees- If there is one surefire way to learn and understand what is really going on with the network, it is to ask an employee. Spend some time talking to employees and asking questions regarding the computers and network to get a better idea of what types of solutions may be needed.
4. Find your next Customer- With all of the time saved not having to deal with a migration project; you surely have time to go find your next cloud customer. Work on your marketing plan, cold calling, or revisit previous customers that couldn’t afford server options.
The one thing that all of these examples have in common is the fact that they all revolve around creating additional revenues. Far too often, IT companies get beat up during a project, leaving little opportunity to drive more sales. One of the many advantages to having the migration process handled by the vendor is that there will be more time for the customer. Beyond this, most IT companies charge for the migration, which creates immediate revenue for the provider.
Building a good relationship foundation with the customer is the key to selling additional services. When projects are handled with a concise, thought out, and well executed process; they are more likely to leave the customer with a desire to continue improvement.
August 21, 2013
Many MSPs pride themselves on putting together their own custom stack for their customers because they like Company X for this product and company Y for that product. However, when you have multiple platforms interfacing with either other you’re leaving the door open for possible issues. Our recommended approach is a unified platform.
The biggest problem with combining multiple vendors across an offering starts when these third party applications aren’t playing well with each other and you need help to resolve an issue. We’ve all been part of those conversations unfortunately, where you have one vendor refusing to work with another or they are just not putting forth the effort you’d like to see. This is more common place than we’d like to admit. The root cause isn’t that people don’t want to be helpful. The problem that arises that once your data leaves the first provider’s platform, they’re now looking at the great unknown. And that’s IF the other party wants to help, because there are times when you’ll engage a vendor on an issue and you’ll be stonewalled instantly once your question involves another provider.
So what’s the proposed solution?
A unified platform that you can trust.
You already choose ExchangeDefender for arguably the most important piece of technology to your clients, their email. But we offer more. You can use our ActiveDirectory syncing software (XDSync) to maintain password synchronization between their desktop logins, their email, and the ExchangeDefender products. Upon first glance that doesn’t sound like much, that’s because folks forget we’re more than an anti-SPAM company.
Now you have a synchronized password for your clients:
Business Continuity with Contact and Calendar Sync
Compliance Archiving for eDiscovery and long term email storage
Those are the positives for your client. If that’s not enough consider this. Next time there’s something up with your client’s Compliance Archive or Business continuity routing, what happens?
You call us, we will resolve it. We will resolve it quickly, efficiently and with as little hoop jumping as possible.
What happens if your email goes down and you don’t know what to do? You call us.
What happens when your clients are having a cloud storage issue? You call us.
Offering our unified platform will simplify your client’s access to technology and your support process. If you have any problems with our services you can always call us. Not an overseas partner of a company we just acquired. We are always here, and more importantly, here for you for our entire platform.
Does this sound good? It should, this is why your clients hire you: they want a single provider they can turn to that can make their IT problems disappear. When there is a problem they count on you and it’s easy to see why you need someone to count on as well.
June 28, 2013
Over the years, I’ve read hundreds of organizational and business books. The problem with the majority of these books is that they regurgitate the same information or have eight updated “new common sense” editions; “How to Organize Your Business! — 8th edition, now including Working off Lists!” (facepalm)
For the most part, the organizational books all have very similar methods for classifying and arranging everything in your personal and business lives. Normally, this process begins by creating and working off a To-Do list–prioritizing and checking off items as they are completed. This process has two man-made, deep-rooted problems:
- There are too many items to complete on the list; and
- There is not enough time to complete the items on the list.
Notice I said man-made problems. I say this because your list should first be filtered, then prioritized. So, let’s look a little deeper into these two excuses…
There are too many items to complete on my list.
When we create lists, we tend to be under dramatic (not stressing the importance of the task enough) or overdramatic (the opposite of what I just said.) Do all the items on your list need to be accomplished today? Are their items on your list that have low priority? If so, remove them. Place those items on the reverse side or on a completely separate list. The goal here is to accomplish the items that need completion by a certain time or day. If you find an item that is neither important or time-sensitive, remove it.
Another good rule of thumb is to create the list with enough detail so others could follow it. If you need to replace a light bulb in your bathroom and know that the only place close enough that sells that particular lightbulb is Home Depot; then on your To-Do list write:
- Go to Home Depot;
- Purchase replacement lightbulb for master bathroom vanity;
- Go home;
- Replace burned out master bathroom vanity bulb with the newly purchased replacement bulb.
Some would call these directions anal-retentive. However, remember what I said earlier: Create the list with enough detail so others could follow it. Some could argue that step 3 could be eliminated. Fair enough. But leave it on the list because I’ll show you how it’s relevant in a few moments. Moving on…
There is not enough time to complete the items on the list.
Bluntly speaking, there are 24 hours in a day. If you can’t accomplish a daily To-Do list in 1,440 minutes, you have bigger time management issues than you think. I understand that life intervenes and things don’t always work out as planned, but you’re probably wasting more time than you think on items that you shouldn’t be.
Prudently, we all should plan for the upcoming day the night before. This allows us time to collect all our thoughts on the subject at hand without wasting precious time the day of trying to create and prioritize lists. If I need to leave the office and run errands, I try to include drive time, completion time, etc. So if I have to run to the post office to pick up an item, I would calculate 15 minutes (including traffic), 5-8 minutes in line, accepting the package, then another 15 minutes driving back to the office. Now underneath that item is where I start creating another list: My To-Don’t List. In this instance, my To-Don’t list would include: Don’t stop at Starbucks! Similarly, if I have to do Internet research on a specific subject: Don’t log into Facebook!
Now, do you remember my light bulb example and how one could argue that step 3. (Go home) could be removed. What if you didn’t go straight home and stopped off at a friends house or went to the driving range. In doing so, you were late getting home, and didn’t think about replacing the burned out bulb in the bathroom–even though you purchased a new bulb that very day. Would you consider this item as completed on your list? No.
We take small deviations during the day that add up to time we should have spent completing our tasks. In reading organizational book after organizational book, I found they do a good job in explaining how to identify and protect your time against “time suckers” such as email and walk-in coworkers. However, these books fail to explain the biggest time sucker is actually yourself. This is where having a To-Don’t list comes into play. After creating your prioritized To-Do list, create a separate list of things you will not do so you can maintain your commitments and complete your To-Do list. It may seems silly to write down items you don’t plan to do. However, it’s been my experience that the items we don’t plan to do take up the most time.
Michael D. Alligood,
Partner Communications Manager
ExchangeDefender | Shockey Monkey