Who are you really selling against?

By Barrie Desmond. Business Development Direction of VADition.

Can vendor sales people and VAR sales people ever be happy bed fellows?

Probably one of the biggest issues to the UK channel, and all too often overlooked, is the pursuit of trying to align the objectives of the revenue-targeted vendor, with those of the profit-driven reseller.

Caught in the middle of this unspoken feud is poor old Ban Ki-moon; otherwise known as the distributor.

The inconvenient truth is that, in many cases, a huge amount of distrust can grow and fester within this uncertain and uneasy alliance.  It is quite understandable when a VAR doesn’t want vendors in their customer base, and the same is true for the named accounts of many vendor salespeople.  To get over this from a vendor perspective, the sacred ‘deal registration’ system has been created.  For the vendor, this provides the clearest view possible of pipeline for planning and resource allocation purposes.  In reality it could be seen as a cattle market where additional discounts and incentives are offered as horse trades for access to a customer account or prospect.

In a larger industry context, there are misgivings when other partners get involved in a given deal because of a legacy relationship (“he’s my father-in-law” etc.).  This will often lead to discounts being retrofitted by the VAR, thereby undermining the programme in the first place.  Vendors on the other hand believe the partner will either slow the sales process down or introduce other services or products that may be at odds with the vendor, even if a more solutions-orientated approach is the right thing to do for the customer.

Something has to be done about this, because the squeezed middle (yes us as the distributor and full-time ‘Relate’ counsellor) is constantly trying to fix this problem.  Perhaps having a joint objective around margin is the way forward, but getting this buy-in – especially from the vendor – still seems a little out of reach.

Ultimately I think we shouldn’t lose sight that we are all on the same side, and no matter how it might feel sometimes, we don’t want such different things at the end of the day.


Posted in Small Medium Business Cloud Issues, UK Distribution and the cloud | Leave a comment

Email marketing in the Cloud a user guide

“We live in an age of relentless communication, where in the course of just one day we are bombarded by multiple media formats. There is a steady stream of social media marketing…a flood of instantly discarded direct mail…and a deluge of email communication that is largely ignored, lost in the sea of competing mass communication.”

Some would argue that we have reached a point where communication is meaningless…unless it is targeted, concise and impactful. But you could argue that even targeted, concise and impactful communication is meaningless…unless you can capture relevant management information to assess its effectiveness.

Is there a point to communication without powerful and relevant information?

Email newsletters are an excellent way to communicate with your customers, prospects and key contacts and by using a 3rd party platform you will have access to invaluable information on the success of your campaigns, helping you build better and more meaningful messages tailored to your target audience.

Before you set out on your path to glory, here are a couple of important things for you to consider.

Segmenting to your data
Targeted messages will result in higher success and less drop off,
Campaign design
Can’t do it, then don’t! Your landed campaign is representing your business, make sure you are making the right impression. A lot of 3rd party platforms offer generic templates on a do it yourself basis, great if you’re a designer but don’t fall foul of thinking you are if you’re not, this isn’t meant for sticking on the fridge door! Get a solution that offers a more tailored product with bespoke templates.
Sending large emails through your company email might seem a cheap alternative but could prove a false economy. Providers protect you from the risks of having your domain black listed and making sure you are compliant.
One of the greatest benefits of email marketing is the powerful reporting that 3rd party platforms can provide. See who opened your messages, how many times they have read it, which links they have clicked through to as well as any emails that may have bounced or where the recipient has opted out.
Spam / Junk
Poorly coded emails, grey or black listed IP addresses, poorly configured mail servers, excessive subject lines and certain words can all fall foul of spam filters. 3rd party platforms will eliminate some of these items but can also fall foul themselves. Get a solution that has real people to support and advise you with your campaigns and content.
It’s important to weigh these things up when looking for a platform that is suitable for you and your business and that you get the advice and support that you need. Cheaper alternatives may look attractive but often mean:

Generic solution with little or no customisation
You’ll be using the same template as the butcher, the baker and candle stick maker
Online support or FAQ
They want your money but will be reluctant to give you their time. Speaking with a human being and using a platform that offers support and advice can prove invaluable.
Poor delivery rates
Cheaper providers mean lots of users and lots of emails being sent out, this will result in higher spam and abuse reports which are to the detriment of the delivery rates.

• Custom built solution – your own templates, logo and images
• Name account manager
• Dedicated support and training
• All hosting and sending capabilities
• UK based servers and support
• No technical expertise needed

Posted in Cloud Email Marketing | Tagged | Leave a comment

Computer Aid International

About Computer Aid:
Computer Aid International exists to tackle the causes and effects of poverty through practical ICT solutions. We work with not-for-profit organisations in developing countries to provide equipment and support where it is most needed by poor communities in areas such as agriculture, health and education.

The average life span of a PC in the UK is 3-4 years and by donating to Computer Aid this can be doubled to provide an additional 6,000 hours of use, enough to train 60 children to a vocational level of IT literacy. This makes a huge difference to education and employment prospects in rural and poor communities, especially since many recipients of our computers would not otherwise have access to ICT.

The majority (60%) of our computers go to schools, but they are also used in healthcare where they provide a means of communication and training for very rural doctors and nurses, as well as in agriculture where farmers can use computers to improve fair trade cooperatives. For more examples please see our projects page here.

Our services include:

• Free Guaranteed CESG approved Data Destruction
• WEEE Compliance
• Legal liabilities covered
• Highest standards of environmental disposal – 0% will end up in landfill
• Positive PR or CSR for your organization
• 100% of donated PCs that pass our quality tests will go to not-for-profit organisations in the developing world
• Full asset tracking of all equipment donated to exactly where it goes in a developing country

Data Security: All computers received and processed by Computer Aid International have all data and programs removed. All hard disks are overwritten as standard and at no cost to you. Computer Aid uses Ontrack data wiping software approved by the US Department of Defence and UK Communications – Electronics Security Group (CESG). Any hard disk that cannot be over written will be destroyed. Any hard disk that cannot be over written will be destroyed. We can also offer a special data wiping service where we provide an itemised report of the successfully wiped hard disks for an additional £5.

Ontrack Eraser is certified by the following organisations:
• UK’s Communications Electronics Security Group (CESG) HMG Infosec 5 (Lower & Higher)
• US Department of Defense
• German PCI
• Norwegian National Security Authority (NSM)

Asset Tracking: Computer Aid asset tracks all equipment donated to the organisation. This involves bar-coding every piece of equipment that comes into our warehouse (each monitor, each base unit, each laptop). We will provide you with a breakdown of all the equipment you donated, detailing what has been reused and what has been recycled. Our asset tracking enables you to follow your PCs to exactly which project and which country they are sent to. We can also provide you with case studies and information/images for use internally should this be of interest.

WEEE Directive: By donating your unwanted IT equipment to Computer Aid International you will be fully complying with the WEEE directive. Computer Aid International has been approved by the environment agency to operate as an Authorised Approved Treatment Facility (AATF) for Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE).
Environmentally Friendly Disposal: Any equipment that Computer Aid is unable to re-use that doesn’t pass our stringent quality tests, is recycled through licensed waste management companies that guarantee 0% of unusable equipment ends up in landfill.

Additional Info on collection and costs:
At Computer Aid International we are currently able to make use of any Pentium 4 Processor 1.4 GHz or above or equivalent base units and laptops, monitors that are 15″ or 17″ and manufactured after the year 2002 and any size of TFT (flat screen) monitors. We also need mice, keyboards, modems, cables, power leads, memory and other peripheral parts. These items will be sent to our projects in the developing world.

Recycling – 0% Landfill Disposal
We endeavor to re-use the maximum amount of equipment possible from any donation. Any equipment which we cannot re-use is sent to a licensed waste management company for recycling, reclaiming all re-usable components, metals, plastic, glass etc. Computer Aid International is registered with the Environment Agency as an Approved Authorised Treatment Facility for Waste Electronic and Electrical Equipment (WEEE) registration no. WEE/KG0005ZT/ATF.

We are currently unable to reuse equipment that does not meet the above specification, all printers, servers, scanners and faxes. However any equipment we are unable to reuse we dispose of in an environmentally friendly way and we guarantee that zero percent will go to landfill. We ask for small contribution per item that we recycle towards the recycling costs.

This guarantees that, even of that equipment that we cannot re-use, 0% ends up in land-fill.

Collection Service
We have a country wide collection service. As a charity our resources are scarce – so we will ask you for a contribution towards the cost of collecting the machines from you. The minimum charge is to collect is £40 within the M25.

Drop Off Services
You can arrange your own delivery direct to our London workshop and you can also drop them off at our North London workshop. The address for dropping off donations is:

10 Brunswick Industrial Park, Brunswick Way, London, N11 1JL
The workshop is open from 10:30 to 5:00 Monday to Saturday. Please call 020 8361 5540 to arrange a drop off time.

Posted in Green IT and Charity | 2 Comments

Reselling Cloud Resources - Adjusting the Business Model for Success

Reselling Cloud Resources – Adjusting the Business Model for Success
Dave Rokita – Hexagrid Computing

At Hexagrid Computing, a vast amount of effort went into understanding how computing resources are delivered to end clients.  Reseller channels have been absolutely instrumental in building trust between the end-users and the technology itself.  These channels provide incredible value.  Cloud computing seems to threaten this ecosystem.  There is buzz in the industry that cloud computing will kill the channel.  In addition, the non-stop cloud computing media blitzkrieg that pummels the IT industry confounds the problem.  Many of the VARs and channel partners experience fear and confusion over cloud computing.  The traditional wisdom states that a deluge of new 24/7 SaaS services will go directly to the end customer and relieve them from the fetters of a value added reseller.  The argument is that going direct will lower the cost, so then it must be so.

While it may be a fact that these new cloud services will put downward pressure on pricing, the customers never based their channel relationships solely on cost.  What we often forget is that these relationships are built on trust.  Channel partners make business better by understanding market verticals and addressing core needs for non-IT customers.  They make small shoe manufacturers globals players.  They turn 5 attorney practices to 100 attorney practices.  Believe me, if the major vendors could have eliminated the channel, they would have eliminated the channel. The big vendors are unable to reach all of the way down the channel and cloud does not change that.

The channel is not going away, but change is on the horizon.  Cloud will likely drive shrinkage for channel partners.  Shrinkage is usually bad, but this is more of a spring cleaning.  There is a good chance that the non-differentiated VAR’s that have been clinging to razor thin margins on hardware/software must adapt or be assimilated.  Thomas Bittman (Gartner) summed it up in his blog:

Continue reading

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Spamina Internet Security

By Daniel Power, Sales Director (Maple5)

It appears there is a new kid on the block in the Email Security SAAS arena. Spamina – yep it is a bit of an odd name – are positioning themselves as the Spanish Message Labs. They have been going for 6 years in the Spanish speaking world and have over 10 million mail boxes under management and some extensive agreements with global telecom carriers like Telefonica.

Whilst the world of email security is well populated Spamina believe they have found a niche for themselves by attacking the weaknesses of the 2 major players, namely Message Labs and Google Postini. Spamina believe that Symantec Message Labs have been abusing their market position and are simply charging too much for their offering.

Google on the other have been aggressive in pricing but are just too big and lack that direct touch that organisations like.  Almost all Google support is now going through the forums which leaves users feeling a little helpless. Spamina have also addressed the issue of where data resides by setting up dedicated UK datacenters.

Spamina’s end user pricing is as follows:
Email Anti Spam/AntiMalware and Continuity – £10 per Mailbox per Year
Email Archiving – £20 per Mailbox per Year
Email DLP and Encryption  – £20 per Mailbox per Year

Contact dpower@maple5.com for further information.


Posted in Internet Security | Leave a comment

Connecting the Cloud | london colocation

london colocationCloud Services are only as good as the connectivity used. The age of the cloud is upon us whether we like It or not. Chances are you’re using it, have tried it or have at least read about – and if not you soon will. Cloud technologies represent a change in the way we consume and utilise IT systems – gone are the days when a business needs to buy and manage expensive equipment to send emails or record data, or manage accounts or whatever.

Instead cloud systems give you exactly the same services for a fixed monthly subscription – and as part of the deal the cloud provider will have already bought all the kit, they’ll manage it, update patches, host it within secure datacentres, provide full back up and DR strategies, plus they’ll take care of all upgrades so you’ll always have up-to-date systems. Imagine it, you’ll never get another nasty surprise from your IT Manager, cap-in-hand, asking for additional budget to upgrade part of your network, and if you choose the right supplier you’ll get tangible guarantees around service uptime and performance too.

It doesn’t stop there – cloud services are sold on a pay-for-what-you-use utility billing model. If you down size by 50% most cloud service providers will allow you to reduce your subscription too. And the reverse is true too, If you double in size overnight you can scale your IT resources just as quickly without replacing a shed-load of costly equipment.
These are just some of the reasons cloud services make sense to most businesses, there are many more and they are widely touted.

However, the area most often overlooked is connectivity to the cloud platform. Before you make the jump it’s critical to consider the reliability and size of the connection you intend to use to reach the cloud environment.

Your preference should be a connection which directly connects your office with your cloud provider. In doing so you ensure that traffic is routed across the shortest possible path (without crossing the public internet) and traffic management is possible such as QoS and CoS. Connectivity should be robust and dependable, DSL is unlikely to fit the bill on it’s own, instead you should opt for Leased Line type products such as genuine fibre Ethernet circuits which offer good SLA’s and are easily upgraded. If your budget won’t stretch that far then look for services with a failover or back-up to make sure you’re always connected – such as diverse carrier xDSL connectivity, FTTC or EFM with a DSL back up line.

If you want to get the most from a cloud platform you need a reliable connection which connects you directly with your cloud provider without first crossing the public internet.
Backbone Connect provide a range of optimised Cloud connectivity options to datacentres across London (where most UK cloud platforms are hosted) and others around the UK. Services include ADSL, Annex-M, FTTC, EFM, Ethernet Access Circuits, Leased Lines and others all of which can be deployed directly between your offices and your cloud provider’s datacentre. What’s more we offer the option to include internet access across the same line while keeping traffic separate.

Visit www.backboneconnect.co.uk for more information.

Posted in Internet Connectivity, Uncategorized | Tagged | 2 Comments

Vendors and Cloud Computing

Traditional software companies are finding that their VAR’s and channel partners influence the majority of their business growth. The need to accelerate this growth strategy is becoming increasingly critical with the uptick in switching to the SaaS and cloud models enabling software firms to enter new markets (industries and geographies). However, even though the use of channel partners is increasing, some software companies are not fully reaping the benefits, as in the following examples:

  • They use channel partners only on an ad hoc, deal-by-deal basis, not leveraging the full potential of the partners.
  • They experience gaps in their anticipated return on investment (ROI) in channel partners.

Improving your organisations capabilities in channel partner management depends on three steps to mitigate risks: 1) avoiding the pitfalls in channel partner relationships, 2) knowing how to turn transactional channel partners into strategic partners and 3) managing the relationships so they yield more value long-term.

At Compare the Cloud we believe that setting unrealistic goals is the first step towards the downfall of a relationship. With all our vendors we ensure that market scope and trials are conducted ensuring that clients and vendors are able to engage successfully.


Posted in Cloud Email Marketing, Cloud Vendors, comparethecloud.net updates, Green IT and Charity, Internet Connectivity, Internet Security, Office365 and the UK Channel, Small Medium Business Cloud Issues, UK Distribution and the cloud | Leave a comment