Shockey Monkey – ExchangeDefender Blog

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Remember all the doom and gloom predictions about how the cloud was going to put all the IT people out of work? Boy did it! The carnage brought on by cloud services has taken names like Dell and HP to all time lows, and has sparked rumors and reality of privatization. Yet, every partner I talk to is posting their best year ever, and is more excited about their opportunities going forward, even with the lackluster economy.

Success is not by accident. In our fast paced industry, success is a factor of the right tools, the right timing and the right partnerships – please read this newsletter, study it and call us. We want to help. The days of “selling” and thick gear margins are largely gone – clients are smarter, better informed, and more selective, but like all of us they are also busier and they want someone to handle the explosion of vendors they rely on for the modern workplace. Yes the technology is easier to consume but there is more of it and more ways to profit from managing it so the client doesn’t have to.


With that in mind, I would like to invite you to our Roadmap webinar next week. In this webinar we will discuss everything that we are working on and the things we see happening over the next 12-16 months. 

Thursday, March 7th 2-3 PM EST

https://www1.gotomeeting.com/register/704041056

As with all our webinars this one will be recorded and available for download in the Webinar section of our web site.

 

Growth Continues

As some of you may remember, our hardware upgrade cycle began around Thanksgiving last year, and is scheduled to be complete in March. During that time, we have completely eliminated RAID from our Exchange environments, improved backup and redundancy worldwide, and bulked up our ExchangeDefender infrastructure for the growth we anticipate this year.

It has not been all good news (we had a Dell RAID failure in the middle of a migration affecting nearly 400 mailboxes), and our antispam detection efficiency slipped slightly due to the overtime put in on network management and growth. The good news though has been better than I ever expected. We now feature data center redundancy in all geographies we provide Exchange in, all of our Exchange 2010 systems feature 3-way redundancy through local copies/DAG, we provide clustered failover infrastructure with a lagged copy of all databases, as well we also provide a copy of those databases in a different data center. Our compliance products and LocalCloud have grown exponentially in 2012 allowing us to invest even more in gear and reduce your storage pricing. The scale and reliability that we are now able to offer is frankly unparalleled in the industry.

I know that maintenance, migrations, updates and upgrades are not fun nor easy to explain that it can take longer than a month to complete – those are the challenges of complexity and the massive scale that we work on. However, that scale is precisely why our platform is so reliable and why so many of you can leverage it to win competitively in the marketplace and not worry about servers, RAID controllers, patches and backups.

Specifically, our ExchangeDefender inbound nodes have 60% more capacity today than they did at Thanksgiving. Europe and Australia Exchange clusters now have data center redundancy. Louie, our Exchange cluster, is now on the same spec as our Rockerduck cluster – both with 3 layers of protection, both with data center redundancy. It’s not cheap but it’s cheaper than downtime and losing business – something I hope you remind your clients of when they get price sensitive about the solutions you provide.

New Stuff

Shockey Monkey is getting an upgrade next week, this update includes the new business management section, upgraded support area with private boards, new calendar / scheduling / dispatch center and an upgraded UI that is a few times faster than it was in the past. We are thrilled about this product and hope you consider joining over 100 partners that are currently selling Shockey Monkey to their small businesses clients.

Looks Cloudy, a site we sponsor and contribute to, is accepting nominations for the Channel Choice Awards in an attempt to recognize people that have helped advance our SMB tech industry. If you have a colleague, boss, partner that you would like to nominate please take a moment to get them the recognition they deserve.

We have a brand new billing system. This addition to Shockey Monkey has allowed us to automate the whole ordering, billing and collections system and consolidate entire months worth of billing updates and adjustments into a half day review process.
Finally, the most important development at ExchangeDefender that I need to let you know about: We hear you when it comes to training. Next month we will announce a new training program offered exclusively by us, over the web, live. The cost of travel, hotels, conference fees and most importantly – time away from the office – is leaving many of you and your staff away from the information that you need to succeed. I don’t mean training in a sense of a half-wailed sales presentation with minor educational content but a full schedule that you or your employees can sit down and benefit from immediately. Tune in to the webinar next week to learn more about this, we are very excited to be able to help you grow beyond our services.

Promotions

Feeling Lucky???? We are currently running a St. Patrick’s Day promotion!! For the entire month of March we will be offering Compliance Archiving for 50% off! Please take advantage of this great promotion. The promotion will be valid on any new account that is signed up within the promotional period. The promotional period for this offering will be March 1st – March 31st. So don’t hesitate! Simply use the coupon code that is located on the postcard that you will receive in the mail or email stephanie@ownwebnow.com to receive the code. If you have any questions just let us know!

Events

In the month of March we will be attending 3 events! Join us in our hometown of Orlando, FL for the XChange Solution Providers event! Then we will be headed up to Chicago, IL for the CompTIA Annual Member Meeting. Then we will be headed to Tampa, FL for the ASCII Success Summit! Stop by, visit us, and say hello, we will be giving away lots of prizes and promotions! We hope to see you on the road!

On Tuesday we held our quarterly meeting and announced our new roadmap for the rest of 2012 season. If you missed it by any chance don’t worry, it was recorded and I encourage you to watch it.

ExchangeDefender & Shockey Monkey Quarterly Meeting

Length: 45 minutes, 1:10 with Q&A

You may need a GoToMeeting codec (download)

This is the most important webinar we’ve ever held. You need to see it.

Everything that was announced will be launching over the next 30 days and just about everything will impact you.

In short, ExchangeDefender Security now includes advanced encryption (lexicon, pattern matching, recipient policies, smart routing and compliance officer support). ExchangeDefender organizationally is launching Managed Messaging, a full 360 online communications product that includes presales, onboarding, email migration, Outlook setup and 24/7 support. We’re also enhancing our security and extending the capabilities of Level 1 support to open tickets and help troubleshoot issues over the phone (previously reserved to higher tiers). We are making our tech savvy partners more equipped to take a larger share of the communications pie while enabling companies that don’t want to run into the cloud a way to have us do it all on their behalf.

We’re effectively doubling our scope of services and our business. All in hope that it makes us your biggest partner.

Over the next two weeks we will be introducing you to the concepts here as well as my take on my personal blog. The feedback on our direction has been amazing so far – and on behalf of the ExchangeDefender teams, I look forward to working hard for you to continue making you successful.

Sincerely,
Vlad Mazek
CEO, Own Web Now Corp
vlad@ownwebnow.com
(877) 546-0316 x500

This week our development team here at Shockey Monkey has finished the SOAP Callback framework and has published this new release to all portals. This new framework enables you to configure automatic code level responses when certain conditions are triggered. Current the only supported triggered events are related to tickets (create, update, close). Over the course of this year we will expand the available list of triggerable events as demand for them increases.

The most elegant design feature of this entire framework is the dynamic interface structure that allows virtually any SOAP interface to communicate with our software. Let me briefly walk you through the process for configuring the callback mechanism.

Settings -> Callback

The first time you visit this page, it will seem fairly empty but these two fields you should notice at the top. Simply provide the remote SOAP WSDL location and press “Validate”.

s1

s2

Now, the system will examine the URL and fetch any valid methods that exist inside of the requested module. You should notice the section below; it will become populated with new fields.

You should now see that you have three sections.
One for (Create Ticket, Update Ticket, and Close Ticket).

Select a method from the dropdown list. You will notice these are all valid methods from the request API that we defined above in the previous step.

Once you have selected a method from the dropdown list, you will notice additional (parameter) fields. These fields are loaded dynamically depending on the parameters available in the provided SOAP API.

Note: One thing to keep in mind is complex types. If your method requires complex parameter types such as (arrays, objects, etc.) they will not be supported at this time. Basic types like (strings and integers), should be used mostly for parameter types.

s3

The text box next to each listed textbox is where you will enter the desired value for this parameter. If you would like your method to use TICKET variables (“which is most likely”), they are provided in the dropdown menu to the right of the text field. Click the list and select the desired variable and it will prefill that variable into the text field to the left.

Also keep in mind each trigger is optional. You don’t have to assign a method for every section, only the ones you want to use. After you have finished assigning each of your methods and their corresponding parameters, click “Save”.

That’s it, callbacks are now enabled and you should begin to see the results!

Hank Newman
VP Development, ExchangeDefender
hank@ownwebnow.com

This week has been focused towards the cleanup and redesign of the Service Manager. It’s a very large module built inside of Shockey Monkey and required a lot of special attention to assure the new code did not interfere with any existing interface mechanics. Everything has gone very smoothly and today we will be finishing the last few sections, before publishing the changes to the remote portals. With the new publish, everything should look a lot cleaner and loading times have been reduced dramatically.

Next week we have a few focus points that have been requests for quite a while. First on the list will be SLA management. We have been notified of several issues with the current SLA system and will be working towards resolving those problems. Next, as several of you have noticed the “Projects” section has not been updated to match the look and feel of Shockey Monkey v2.0 yet. We also have several back-end enhancements we will be implementing into the code base over the course of the week.

We’ve delayed the updates to these sections on purpose. We didn’t want to simply re-theme these areas, but transform them into something more powerful! We originally designed these sections a few years back and the scope of implementation was limited. Now that we integrate with several platforms and have a more advanced understanding of how everything works and plays together, we hope to make these sections something amazing!

Hank Newman
VP Development, ExchangeDefender
hank@ownwebnow.com

This past week the main focus on the development side was to bring the accounting module up to standards with the new version of Shockey Monkey. This was no easy task and required a lot of code revisions and new implementation methods. In total: 20,000 lines of code had to be “reviewed” and modifications/additions made where found necessary.

The first thing you will notice is that the GUI has been brought up to standards to match the current look, feel and flow of the 2.0 design. The next things that we addressed were outstanding bugs within the system and new bugs that were created as a result of the upgrade. I won’t go into details here, but you can read about the bugs that we fixed here. Finally the last thing many of you will notice is the ability to set your “currency” within the Shockey Monkey Portal.

You can modify the currency displayed inside your portal on a Global level by going into your branding settings. Here you will notice a new section called “Regional Settings”.

Next week our continued focus will be on improvements to the core and Service Manager enhancements, while we continue to fix bug reported by our Partners within the scope of Shockey Monkey.

Hank Newman
VP Development, ExchangeDefender
hank@ownwebnow.com

This week was our Shockey Monkey v.2 Bug week, where we worked very closely with you (our partners) and quickly addressed the majority of the bugs that were reported. Overall, the volume of bugs reported was relatively small and typically very easy fixes!

***A special thanks to everyone who tested the SM Agent and provided us with feedback. We’ve identified several issues with the Agent and are now planning our revision process, which should take about a month to complete.

Let’s talk a little about the SM Agent and the direction we are looking to take upon its actual release. The SM Agent is essentially a component that you would install on your clients machines across an entire organization. Once this component is installed, you can now monitor the machine in several ways. One way is through data collection of things like (drivers, hard drives, optical devices, installed applications, event logs and more). The second way is through direct interaction, AKA Remote Desktop or Screen Sharing. The last core piece of this software will be scheduled and on-demand script execution. This would allow you to configure monthly, daily or hourly events that would trigger your custom scripts on a per machine basis.

monkeyOne of the biggest requests we have had for implementing software of this nature has been for network installation. We are currently exploring several methods to help complete this goal and make network discovery and installation across and entire infrastructure possible. Obviously the goal here is to be able to deploy the agent across hundreds of machines with very little leg work and time spent on site.

The next huge request has been for an automatic ticket alerting and sending notifications when something breaks or reaches a certain threshold. With the introduction of the SM Agent, we believe we finally have a way to create such a system. The idea is simple, we allow you to basically script in the desired action dynamically based on your collection of devices.

For Example:

Logical Interpretation
IF [MACHINE]->[OBJECT]->[Attribute]->[VALUE] <= [VALUE] THEN [ALERT]->[OBJECT]

Human Script Builder ( Drop Down Boxes )
IF “Desktop_XYZ”->“Hard Drive”->“Free Space”->”Size” <= “2GB” THEN “Open Ticket”.

What we hope to accomplish over the first few months of 2012 is implementing these advanced management features and then directly linking them back into the Dashboard and sections of Shockey Monkey.

Hank Newman
VP Development, ExchangeDefender
hank@ownwebnow.com

With the release of Shockey Monkey 2 coming early next week, we have been working like craaaaaaaaaaaazy these last few weeks to finish the major revisions and clean up all the banana peels! This will be the LARGEST update to the Shockey Monkey core that has happened since it was created several years ago. The first thing you will notice is the new UI and dashboard layout on the main screen. With this redesign we tried to encompass the majority of all the vital information to one central and eye catching location. It will give you and your staff the ability to see a complete ticket overview, recent tickets, announcements, your agenda and tasks at a moment’s glance. The best part… it’s compatible in virtually every browser!

Out of the gate, the new UI will come with 5 preloaded themes that you can switch between inside of the portal. It won’t make it in time for the launch next week, but the goal is to implement a dynamic theme configuration tool inside of the portal. This would allow you to make the solution really and truly represent the look and feel that encompasses your company. We’ve also made several improvements to other aspects of branding that will give you an ease of comfort when navigating your settings.

Shockey Monkey Portal

We have also added several new features that really help Shockey Monkey stand out from the crowd! You now have the ability to go completely full screen and remove the menu bars while working inside of our solution. They are can be controlled by a toggle anytime from the bottom left toolbar and your setting will remain persistent for the duration of your session. This allows you to view more information and stay focused on the task at hand without any compromise to performance. We’ve also implemented a chat and notification system to allow interoffice communication and to give your customers the ability to chat directly with your support or sales team. We’ve improved the logging system and enhanced the search mechanism that will allow you to navigate through the activity inside of your portal.

1

2 

On the backend we have been continuing to reduce the code overhead and processing load across all pages. This isn’t a difficult process, it’s just a very tedious and mind numbing experience. It may not make a lot of sense right now, but essentially this process is laying the foundation for very exciting future releases. Simply put, it’s all about being dynamic and allowing the solution to be put together to meet your individual needs. Overall the redesign has amazingly well and we will continue to improve dozen of areas even after the Shockey Monkey 2 launch.

Hank Newman
VP Development, ExchangeDefender
hank@ownwebnow.com

This week the development team has been focused on cleaning up Shockey Monkey. This process is mainly composed of three focused categories (UI, Performance, and Bug/Warning Fixes). I would say this has been the largest update to Shockey Monkey since it was originally created over seven years ago. This update should also help lay the framework for any future additions or tweaks.

User Interface

– We’ve applied a consistent look and feel across the entire portal.

– Implemented a themed backend that allows quick and easy branding.

– Improved cross browser support

Performance

– Improved loading performance across the portal.

– Minified most of the JavaScript files to reduce fetch & loading times.

– Implemented more session variables to reduce the amount of queries.

Bug Fixes

– Decreased Disk IO access by resolving more than 1000+ warnings that were constantly being written to a local log file.

– We’ve fixed a handful of bug over the past few weeks and have been continuing to resolve these issues as we enhance the portal.

– If you have a bug, submit it here: https://support.ownwebnow.com/create.asp?item=development

Performance is being improved in several ways across the Shockey Monkey portals. The first thing we did was minified thousands and thousands of lines of JavaScript. The compression ratio on average across all of our scripts was about 65%, which is very good. We’ve also been fixing trivial “warning” messages as we progress through the code. By resolving these warning messages that are generated on the back end, it reducing the amount of disk IO that is required to store this information. Typically this is not a big deal, but multiply that by 1000’s of warning and you get some nasty seek times.

If we go a little bit into the cleanup of the User Interface, it was a project that was mainly focused on consistency. We are also making sure that the look and feel between browser types is very similar. There are also a few special features of the new UI that will really help bring the User experience to a new level. One of these features is the ability to view any page in “Full Screen” mode. What this does is remove the top and side menus from the portal. This allows you to manage any page without the annoyance of having to resize or scroll to achieve simple tasks.

ReloadedWe have a lot more information and a ton more features that we are saving for the unveiling. If you would like to be a part of the Shockey Monkey Reloaded webinar on Thursday, December 1, 2011 12:00 PM – 1:00 PM EST, visit the following link: https://www1.gotomeeting.com/register/812869640.

 

Hank Newman
VP Development, ExchangeDefender
hank@ownwebnow.com

Shockey Monkey will be receiving a massive refresh in both features and the business model in early December. Throughout 2011 we have been adding new features, new integrations and have entered several partnerships that just begin to showcase what is possible with Shockey Monkey. With that, we are about to revise the pricing, positioning, marketing and access to Shockey Monkey and want our partners to be aware of the changes that are coming.

Shockey Monkey Media & Partner Briefing

Tuesday, November 22nd. Noon EST.

Contact us for an invitation to the webinar.

Due to the sensitive nature of the information we will be sharing, this event is open by invitation only to vendors in the MSP space and media sites/blogs that cover them. We will be discussing:

– New pricing models
– New support procedures
– Sponsorship options
– Breakdown of user metrics
– Integration overview
– Usage patterns and value

If you’re interested in attending let us know, we are on pace to launch 2.0 in the first week of December. At that time we will be holding a user-facing webinar to announce all the cool new stuff that we hope is a real game changer for our users as well as for our partners.

Sincerely,
Vlad Mazek, MCSE
CEO, Own Web Now Corp
vlad@ownwebnow.com
(877) 546-0316       x500
(407) 536-VLAD

You’ve asked for it – and it’s my pleasure to say that we’ve delivered. Shockey Monkey now chats, has a desktop client, mobile HTML5 app for your iPhone and Android and plays nicely with Quotewerks, Kaseya, LPI, nAble, GFI Max, Quickbooks and more.

Over the past few months we’ve been focusing on integration between our partners and even improving the network communication in our own software. One of the biggest challenges in the software industry is foresight and being able to determine what comes next. If you have ever written a piece of software and then had to make a change to that software (even something small), maybe 1, 3, 6, 12 months later. You can probably understand how important it is to think ahead. Sure, you can rush software and have to rewrite the same code everyday several times. If you’re like me and don’t like to create (unnecessary) extra work, you can think about what functions & methods you may need for future revisions and implement at least a template that is extensible.

Truly Open API and Fat Client API Demo

That’s the approach we’ve been taking for that last year and it’s really starting to show now. We are able to (design, code & implement and actually sleep) software changes & additions a lot quicker and a lot cleaner. One of the ways we achieved this was to take all of the code that we use all over the place and centralize it into a single location. This is how we got our first API version and we started to build on top of that structure. Since we designed the API, one of our biggest concerns was SECURITY SECURITY SECURITY. We thought: You know what, one day our clients/partners will want to use this API. So when that time came and we were ready to allow the API to become public, we literally flipped one switch and it was all lights go!

sm1sm2

A lot of people want access to an API and access to it is usually the first request. However, not a lot of clients/partners will utilize that API, until you show them what’s possible! That’s when it starts to get fun interesting! So, we released the Shockey Monkey Fat Client BETA! It takes advantage of our API and demonstrates the possibilities. Yes, it really is possible to create something useful from these publicly available resources. It’s the first release, so right now we kept it simple. It will allow you to view/update (tickets, contacts & companies). It even comes with a ticket dashboard, which shows you the status and urgency of all your open tickets.

Integrations

On the other side of the office our Shockey Monkey team has been working on integrations with other Software vendors and helping to bridge that gap in resources. They’ve just finished integrations with (Level Platforms, N-able, GFI MAX). There are still a few others they are trying to complete very soon.

We literally completed these integrations within a week of actively working on them. What made it so simple was the initial template design we created when we made our first Integration point with Kaseya. It allowed all additional Integrations to be designed in a module structure allowing for easy design and implementation. We’ve moved away from the model of “Let’s just get it to work”, we created a few integrations like that in the past. They work great… until the method, you used to obtained information, has now been changed and no longer works.

Our current integration portfolio:

1. Email Gateway – Any device or service that can generate an email can automatically create a ticket in our system. Remember that this is free to you with ExchangeDefender so use it!

2. RMM – Kaseya, LPI, nAble, GFI Max (Labtech in development). We’re currently working with a number of companies that are interested as well as Shockey Monkey’s own built-in lightweight WMI/VNC tool.

3. Accounting – Quickbooks. Exports to xls, csv and data feeds for other ERP. We’re exploring adding more integrations here as requested but we’re spending even more effort into bringing the transaction processing and reporting capabilities into Shockey Monkey. We find that most partners don’t have a very formal accounting backend, especially for tracking cloud subscriptions, and ShockeyMonkey already supports Authorize.net as a payment gateway so look for a development there.

4. BusinessQuotewerks. This is currently one of the best integrations out there because it was developed by Quotewrks and is tightly integrated in their software.

bathmonkeyWe’ve learned a lot from all of these integrations and have amazing ideas for future releases. One of the first things we want to implement is a SOAP version of our API. Currently, they are all written in XML/RPC and that has served us rather well. However, in the future we are envisioning an even more rapid development environment for Shockey Monkey. It’s always nice when most of the data translation is done for you. So we are thinking that SOAP and Shockey Monkey are going to get to know each other very well over the next few months!  

Finally, I manage all the development projects and products at ExchangeDefender, including all our integrations, PSA/RMM and our automation infrastructure. I work with many partners but at the end of the day I’m just one guy. So here is  how to plug in with the whole team and make sure your requests are being taken care of:

1. Use the portal bug/feature tracking. Located at https://support.ownwebnow.com under the Development tab there are Features and Bugs. We use this as the central storage for all our features and requests. You can see public stuff that was reported by our clients and even some stuff that our internal teams are tracking.

2. Get in touch with someone. Our support team is fantastic and they often bring the issues you are facing to me directly. Sometimes in the office but mostly at meetings and our weekly staff bar crawl where we do our best to complain about everything that isn’t perfect. If you can get someone to hear you out, you can rest assured it will get taken care of faster.

3. Make a compelling, detailed case. There are lots of great ideas. Unfortunately, time is very limited to build them all. If there is a problem that affects a lot of people or a feature that would benefit a lot of people, tell us about it in as many details as possible and recommend suggestions and ideas. You’ve clearly spent more time dealing with it than we do so you have a unique opportunity to make a good argument over why we should work on problem #9881 instead of feature #810. The more perspective and benefits/pitfalls the better.

 

Hank Newman
VP Development, ExchangeDefender
hank@ownwebnow.com

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