Article published in IT Channel Expert with Jonatan Bucko, Blue Solutions Product Manager

From software installation and set-up to managing networks, MSPs/IT service providers often have never-ending to-do lists. While problem solving for clients, they need to find answers to their own questions to help them run their businesses.

So what are the pitfalls for MSPs/IT service providers and how do you deal with them? In this article, I’ve outlined some of the difficulties they face and how they can be managed:

Finding the right solutions for your clients

If you type ‘MSP/IT service provider’ into Google, you’ll find never ending pages for back-up, security, cloud solutions etc. Before you commit to buying any new services, do some research on the industry. For example, industry trends, current customers’ peak network and server usage times. Think about your clients’ requirements, are their businesses growing? Is there a particular IT issue that’s caused a problem that you can help with? Don’t forget that speaking to your industry peers can also help; the insight you can gather from speaking to others at forums and conferences can keep you informed and ensure you provide solutions that clients want.

Running multiple networks with stretched resources

Running multiple clients networks creates a lot of opportunities but also means an MSP/IT service provider’s time and resources are stretched. Juggling tasks, responding to queries and keeping customers happy can make your days longer than they need to be.  MSPs/IT service providers should take a look at where they can use solutions that will make this ‘juggling act’ easier, while providing greater value to any clients.

For example automation tools can reduce the time spent on certain tasks, reduce costs and increase efficiency. Also, with a back-up and disaster recovery solution, MSPs/IT service providers can show customers they are efficient in the way they can pre-empt issues (e.g. being aware of a server running out of space before it affects a client’s business operations).

Increasing efficiency

Following on from my previous point – reducing costs and improving efficiency is key to maintaining a thriving business.

One of the tools available to help MSPs/IT service providers with this are IT systems monitoring & management platforms, which remove time-intensive and repetitive support tasks. These solutions become a necessity as you scale your business and its service delivery model.

Whilst many will provide out-of-the box automation of common IT tasks, in some cases creating an automation policy (script) may be required to address a particular time-hog. It is important that the platform allows for comprehensive scripts to be created, through an interface that exposes the functionality to even the novice users, making it easy for them to build policies that will automate repeatable work.

The scripting engine must be intelligent enough requiring minimal user input, yet working in harmony with the platform’s many facets such as monitoring, ticketing and time entry functionalities. Ultimately it doesn’t matter if the newly created policy is going to run on two machines or 2,000, it must do the exact same thing in the same amount of time in every single occurrence.

Once the repeatable tasks have been automated, a review schedule should be created to periodically assess and improve the service delivery as it evolves and the business will reap the benefits.

It could be summarised that a business can scale only as much as its individual processes do.

I’ve heard this comment from a business owner: “The main component is the consistency of approach not necessarily the back-end technology. The platform must enable you to create repeatable, improvable and scalable, automated processes, which can potentially deliver unlimited value at marginal cost”.

Managing costs and making a profit

Constant changes to technology and customer requirements means MSPs/IT service providers are always trying to manage costs and maintain profits. Many of them are finding a way to do this by joining MSP partner programs.

Joining these programs gives MSPs/IT service providers a business model that fits how they work. When looking for a program some other points to consider – will the program help you to manage billing your clients or which tools are available to help you run your business efficiently? Above all, will joining the program grow your business?

Staying on top of industry information

So, while MSPs/IT service providers are busy running their businesses, where do they find the time to stay up-to-date on the latest products and industry news? To be honest this isn’t always possible. So looking out for vendor materials that cover different industry topics can save you a lot of time and keep you on top of everything. Make use of free e-books, webinars, videos, online demos and white labelled content (that you can brand). This will save you the time and trouble of trying to create your own content, as well as helping to answer clients’ queries.

Let’s not forget about the admin!

A lot of us have never liked doing admin – and this won’t change! But it’s something that MSPs/IT service providers need to manage well to avoid payment delays and ‘slowing’ their businesses down. For example, think about your invoicing – what date do you plan to do this? Will the vendor’s processes align with yours? Dull I know but it has to be done.

As you can see from these examples, with some planning and using available resources, MSPs/IT service providers can manage these pitfalls while building profitable businesses.

Contact our sales and product specialists today on 0118 9898 222 to help you find the right solutions for your MSP business.



Article published on StorageCraft  Recovery Zone

From making money to staying relevant and keeping customers happy, managed service providers have plenty to keep them up at night. We’re all worry warts at heart, but the key is tackling our fears head on and owning them. First things first: let’s call out those fears!

1. The Threat of Competition

Try as they may, but MSPs can’t help but worry about the competition. The explosive growth of trends like enterprise mobility, cloud computing, and big data has forced service providers to think twice about things they may not have given a second thought a year ago. In the mission to differentiate your company from the crowd, remember that adopting the right trends, competitive pricing, and fantastic support are just as important to standing out as delivering unique solutions that solve problems.

2. Keeping Pace with Technology

Technology moves faster than the average person can keep up with. As an MSP, it is your duty to follow the IT trends pushing the needle in your niche. However, this is easier said than done when you’re preoccupied with marketing, technical support, and running your business on a day to day basis. It’s hard work, but something that must be done to distance yourself from the competition and continually provide customers with the best possible managed services. Keep an ear to the ground by reading articles, analyzing market research, and following relevant discussions in social channels.

3. Properly Using Technology

You’re steadily adopting technology to move business forward and strive to use all these tools to their full potential. Of course, things don’t always run smoothly in the IT department, especially when the network is a disjointed mix of proprietary and open source applications. To ensure that IT flows as smoothly as the often cranky Tech Gods will allow, MSPs have to make securing great vendor support a priority. Sure, you’ve got to do your part in properly using the technology, but it never hurts to have a partner who’s willing to hold your hand while learning the ropes with their product.

4. Recruiting Top Talent

You might not always be hiring, but you should always be recruiting or at the very least, scouting the talent pool for potential additions. By staying on top of recruitment, you’ll be prepared to plug in pieces when positions open up opposed to scrambling at the last minute. At that point, you’re desperate and more susceptible to settling. Also, don’t limit your recruitment efforts to IT. Try to broaden the scope with a targeted focus on customer service, human resources, and other key areas of the business.

5. Retaining Top Talent

Retaining superstar employees is an ongoing concern for IT companies. They’re awesome at what they do, so naturally you want to keep them on your staff and away from the competition. While there are no guarantees, there are some things MSPs can do to make their company more attractive. Are employees properly trained? Do they have access to the tools needed to succeed at their job? Are you doing your best to accommodate them with scheduling? When it comes to retaining your best workers, flexibility and the ability to listen are your greatest attributes.

6. Dealing with problem employees

Unfortunately, not all employees are at a superstar level. And the longer you keep them around, the more costly they become. I saw an infographic on The Undercover Recruiter stating that under-performing employees can cripple ROI by a stunning -298 percent. This number was calculated based on the cost of hiring them, paying them, and keeping them around.

Here’s a quick look at some criteria MSPs can use to determine when it’s time to part ways with less than stellar employees:

  • Poor attendance: Even average to good performing employees can cost a company severely when their poor attendance hurts productivity and increases the workload for co-workers.
  • Mishaps: No one’s perfect, but constant mistakes can cost you dearly in time, production, and money when those errors have to constantly be corrected.
  • Negative influence: One bad apple can threaten to spoil the whole bunch when their negativity begins to impact team interaction, production, and morale.
  • Poor business performance: From recruiting and retention to innovation and product quality, under-performing employees can hinder the performance of the entire company.
  • Revenue loss: Finally, if performance evaluations indicate that certain employees can be attributed to substantial revenue losses, parting ways may be the only reasonable course of action.

7.  Retaining Clients

Customer retention and customer relationship management go hand in hand. Every now and then, you get by on the strength of your services and providing solid support when called upon. Most of the time, though, you’re working to manage the customer relationship on a regular basis. Use all those open communication lines to maintain contact with clients. Consistently feed them valuable content in newsletters and social media posts that save them money and time, or help their business otherwise. You’ve got to be proactive if you want to keep those good paying clients around.

8. Disconnecting From Client Relationships

They say it’s cheaper and easier to keep existing clients than it is to obtain new ones. At the same time, some clients are more trouble than they’re worth. Picture the client who’s frequently late with their payments or constantly rude to your support staff and forever treading the line of violating usage policies and abusing network resources. In some cases, these relationships can be saved through nurturing, communication, and mutual understanding. In others, the differences are irreconcilables. MSPs have to approach each client relationship on a case by case basis to determine when and where to cut ties.

9. Managing Money and Cash-flow

If you thought handling personal finances was a chore, just imagine the torment that comes with managing the finances of an IT company. You’ve got critical investments to make in tools and solutions that keep the infrastructure pumping. Bills. Possibly acquisitions that position you to flourish and grow. All this without falling into the red. Financial institutions are still a bit weary of tech firms so traditional lending isn’t a reliable option. MSPs have to make the most of funding ventures all while spending wisely and prioritizing profitability – because every business needs money to survive.

To learn more about StorageCraft solutions, contact our sales team today on 0118 9898 222


Stop selling products and start selling solutions

We inviting our Resellers to join Blue Solutions and our vendors, StorageCraft Technology and LabTech Software at our Stop Selling Products and Start Selling Solutions event, on Friday 30th January 2015.

Join us at Hotel Megaro, London, where StorageCraft specialists will show how you can guarantee business continuity to your partners. LabTech Software specialists will demonstrate how the RMM platform improves productivity with I.T. automation.

Register for the event

Take a look at a WD Sentinel

We're also going to have a WD Sentinel at the event for you to ask any questions about the product and the licencing promotion we're currently running.


Attix5 latest version

In January 2015 Attix5 Pro v8 will be released. This signals the discontinuation of v6.

What does product discontinuation mean?

Three months after the new version is released, Attix5 will only provide technical support for products on v7 and above. Upgrading to the newer version allows historical issues to be fixed and provides improved functionality and performance. We remove certain old and problematic features that are generally not used, this allows us to focus on producing new product features going forward.

Products affected:

  • Storage Platform v6.2.4.3
  • Storage Platform Console v6.2.3.1
  • SE and DL Backup Clients v6.2.3.0

Plug-ins affected:

  • Exchange 2000 SMR
  • Exchange 2003 SMR
  • Exchange 2007 SIR
  • Exchange 2010 SIR Plus
  • MS Exchange Server (Exchange is still supported via the VSS plug-in)
  • Lotus Domino
  • Oracle
  • SharePoint
  • VMWare (ESX 3.5 & 4.1)

New products:

New Backup Client: Enterprise Server Edition (ESE), V8 only


  • The v6 Storage Platform must be upgraded to a supported version.
  • V6 Backup Clients will still back up to the latest Storage Platform although not supported.
  • Uninstall unsupported plug-ins (see above) on v6 Backup Clients to allow auto-upgrade to the latest Server Edition (SE) and Desktop & Laptop (DL) Backup Client versions.
  • VirtualRestore is only compatible with these configurations:
    • v7 DL/SE Backup Clients with a v7 Storage Platform
    • v8 ESE Backup Clients with a v8 Storage Platform

Contact our Product Specialists today on 0118 9898 222 for more information about Attix 5 pro.

SC LT banner27Nov14

During our latest Reseller webinar, LabTech Software and StorageCraft covered the following points:

  • How to increase your revenue through business integration with LabTech and StorageCraft.
  • How to Optimise your I.T. tasks with LabTech’s RMM Solution.
  • Guarantee business continuity for your partners with StorageCraft Recover-Ability Solution.
  • Connect and manage your endpoints on a single screen through the LabTech Platform.

Watch this video of the webinar to find out the answers to the questions:

CompTia Banner

We joined industry leaders and professionals at the CompTia EMEA Conference on 5th and 6th November. This event gave our team a good opportunity to meet with our current and new Resellers and other industry professionals.

Throughout the day, our team were busy talking to MSPs and Resellers about the best technology to run their businesses, covering I.T. automation, disaster recovery, anti-spam and malware solutions.

Nicola and Janet CompTiaThe event was also a great opportunity for us to join two of our vendors at their stands - StorageCraft, a data backup and disaster recovery vendor and AppRiver, provider of email messaging and Web security solutions. Our Product Manager, Nicola Boswell is pictured left with Janet O'Sullivan, StorageCraft Marketing Manager. We also met with Western Digital, who will be joining our portfolio to enable us to provide end-to-end solutions for Resellers.

We'll tell you more about that soon...

Our Sales Manager, Emma Wale, who attended the two day event commented “being at CompTia puts us among our industry peers and shows we are committed to providing the best service and leading solutions for MSPs and Resellers”.

If you missed our team at CompTia, you can contact us on 0118 9898 222 and speak to our product specialists or visit our website.


It's been a busy time at Blue Solutions and we wanted to keep you up-to-date with some of our changes, especially when it's good news for our MSPs and Resellers.

We've recently welcomed a new team member

We've expanded our technical team and Deane Mallinson, our new Sales Engineer joined us in September. Deane's wide ranging role will be to focus on the support function offered by Blue Solutions.

With 20 years' experience, in the I.T. industry ranging from first line support to management, Dean PictureDeane will be managing our internal, external, pre and post sales support helpdesk, while mentoring our team.

As Deane's qualifications include MCSE, MCSP, KLCT, KLCSA and GCT, he is well equipped to ensure our customers get the support they deserve.

As part of our continued commitment to supporting and investing in I.T. graduates,  Chris Kudzin has joined Deane's team as our I.T. apprentice.


Other changes

Emma at Blue SolutionsEmma Wale (pictured left), a long-standing member of the Blue Solutions Team was recently promoted to being our Sales Manager. With extensive experience in the I.T. and software channel distribution industries, Emma's main focus will be to manage sales growth and overall profitability for Blue Solutions.

While continuing to work as the main contact for DataFortress, the online backup solution (powered by Attix5), she will support and develop our sales and product specialists on a daily basis.

What's happening with our other team members?

Our product  and sales specialists roles have changed too.  Our sales team (pictured below) will be available to manage your orders and help with any queries on a daily basis.

Blue Solutions Team Updated

We also now have a team of vendor specialists, who are available to help you develop your business, with solutions for the channel. You can view our key vendors at our website.

Why have we made these changes? As parts of our business have moved into the managed services sector, we have restructured our sales team to ensure we continue to provide the best service for all of our customers. Your contacts are:

nicola-ImageNicola Boswell (pictured left) is our Specialist for AppRiver and StorageCraft




Sharon Pace has been appointed as our Blue Solutions Key Account Manager and Tom Mangion is our Trend Micro Renewals Specialist.

If you need any questions about our vendor products, please contact out sales team on 0118 9898 222.


IPEXPO Blue_SC Banner


Our sales team had a busy time at IPEXPO, Europe's Number one cloud computing and IT infrastructure event. We joined StorageCraft,  our backup and disaster recovery vendor, to speak to new and prospective customers. This was also a great opportunity to discuss the industry topics affecting MSPs and Reseller and make contact with industry experts.

Our Product Specialist, Nicola Boswell (pictured below, centre), who spent the event with the StorageCraft Team "found the event to be a great way to meet customers, speak about StorageCraft technology and explain how Blue Solutions work with customers in the I.T. Channel".StorageCraft & Blue Solutions at IPEXPO

If you missed Nicola at IPEXPO and would like to find out about StorageCraft solutions, please contact her on 0118 9898 219





Attix5 Banner

Article by, Petrus Human, Group Technical Director Recovery Software Distribution, Attix5

If you rely on computers or devices to run your business, it is important to backup your data, and often. But what happens if you don’t have enough space on your hardware? Or what if your computer crashes, or your tablet or cell phone is stolen or damaged?

The answer is simple: online or cloud backup services. And here’s what you need to know:

1. What is cloud backup?

Cloud backup, or online backup, enables you to store your data and files on the Internet on a “cloud”. This means that if something goes wrong with your equipment – your computer, device, external hard drive or backup tape – your data won’t be effected and will still be accessible.

2. How does cloud backup work?

Cloud backup is simple: copies of your data/files are sent via the Internet to an off-site server where they are stored. Third-party service providers usually host these off-site servers and charge a fee (based on capacity, bandwidth or number of users) to store your data.
Irrespective of where the off-site server is located, you can run backups or archive your files as long as you have an Internet connection and access to a cloud backup service.

3. Is cloud backup secure?

Yes. Security is a critical part of cloud backup services, especially when storing sensitive or personal information. When you backup to the cloud, your data will be encrypted before it is sent to the off-site server for storage.

4. Is cloud backup automated?

Yes. Cloud backup systems use a software application that can be set to run on a schedule according to your business’s backup needs.

5. What kind of data should I backup to the cloud?

That depends on your business needs and business recovery plan in the case of a failure or disaster. A lot of users choose to archive their non-critical data in a cloud.
When deciding whether to store critical data in a cloud, the following checklist will help you to assess whether a cloud backup service aligns with your business’s technical and financial needs:

  • How soon will you be able to access your data in the case of a disaster?
  • How closely does the cloud backup service match your recovery time objective (RTO)?
  • Can the cloud backup service give you access to files while others are still being recovered in the background?
  • How often can you schedule a cloud backup?
  • Will the cloud backup software integrate easily with your current software?
  • How user friendly is the cloud backup software?
  • Will the cloud backup service save you time and money?
  • Will the cloud backup service only backup files that have been changed/updated, saving you storage space?

Cloud 9!

The good news is that these days, issues like space limitations, mechanical failure, theft or even natural disasters don’t need to leave you stranded. Cloud backup is a secure and efficient way of protecting your data, and ultimately your business, that will have you floating on a virtual cloud!

If you have any questions about cloud backup, contact our Product Specialist for more information.


Exchange administration can be time-consuming and difficult if you don't have the right tools. StorageCraft Granular Recovery for Exchange (GRE) allows you to easily search, recover and migrate Exchange emails, mailboxes and other mailbox items.  It has a simple user interface that allows you to restore mailboxes, email messages, or attachments directly from an Exchange backup image file to a production Exchange server or PST file. This makes recovering lost emails not only painless but nearly effortless.

Key Features:

  • Recover mailboxes, email messages, and email attachments.
  • Restore or migrate individual mailboxes quickly and easily.
  • Search individual mailboxes or email messages for specific keywords.
  • Quickly mount backups for ultra-rapid access to Exchange database (.edb) files.
  • Use with any backup.
  • Enjoy support for Microsoft Exchange Server 2013, 2010, 2007 and 2003.

Problems with any Exchange server will develop. Searching, restoring and migrating email data is not easy and requires automation support. That is where StorageCraft GRE shines.

StorageCraft GRE is installed as an add-on accessory for any Microsoft Exchange server backup. StorageCraft GRE uses an interface similar to Microsoft Outlook and ‘drag and drop’ functionality for managing email objects and creating restorations to a live Exchange server environment or to .PST files for client use. StorageCraft GRE solutions not only operate with the StorageCraft flagship ShadowProtect product line, but offer compatibility with any Microsoft Exchange Server email database (EDB) or .PST file.

This means that organizations can simply add StorageCraft GRE to existing backup systems without needing to deploy a new or unfamiliar data protection product. This is important for organizations that have seasoned backup processes but want to add the Exchange search, restore and migration functionality transparently.

Here's a quick video to help you understand how easy it is to search for and recover a lost or deleted email, or other Exchange items, using StorageCraft Granular Recovery for Exchange:

If you have any questions about StorageCraft Granular Recovery for Exchange, contact our Product Specialist Nicola Boswell on 0118 9898 219.