Welcome to Top Gun

Welcome to Top Gun

Two of our account executives, Ben Thomas and Brandon Montgomery, recently attended Software and Solutions Top Gun training from IBM. The course is nearly five full days of intense IBM software sales training covering lots of different topics, including sales strategies, adding business value, and IBM software portfolio capabilities.

The goal of Software and Solutions Top Gun is to train students to identify “as-a-service” sales opportunities while helping them create clear Cognitive Business solutions for their clients. It’s a pass/fail course where students take daily tests and work on graded exercises—and we’re happy to report that both Ben and Brandon passed the course with flying colors.

“We learned so much about IBM software and cloud technology—how it’s decreasing costs for businesses and making them more efficient every day,” said Ben. “But I think the biggest takeaway was learning to look at sales as a solution for clients. We help companies grow and improve through innovation, and it’s important to remember that throughout the sales process.”

At CleanSlate, we always strive to make sure our team has the latest and greatest information about everything that’s happening with the IBM software portfolio. That’s why professional development courses like Software and Solutions Top Gun are can’t-miss opportunities for us—and we’re excited that two of our team members were able to attend.

If you need any help with IBM software, cloud solutions, application development, or anything else related to IT, we’re here to help. Contact us today to learn more.

 

 

How to Get Started with Non-PVU Reporting

How to Get Started with Non-PVU Reporting

If your company uses IBM products, PVU reporting is something you’re probably familiar with. But it’s easy to forget that there are licensed products outside of PVU that require proper managing and reporting, too.

Reporting non-PVU products is just as important as reporting standard PVU products during a software audit. But reporting them correctly presents a unique set of challenges because they can vary in licensing type, range of deployment, and collection methods. That can make it difficult to track them, and to provide proper documentation.

Non-PVU reporting can be a timely undertaking, and sometimes it’s difficult to know where to start. That’s why we’ve outlined a few simple steps you can take to make sure your next software audit goes smoothly.

Be informed and prepared.  As with regular PVU reporting, it’s important to understand your Passport Agreement, the product ELA, and any negotiated special licensing terms.  Non-PVU products cover a variety of licensing types, from the classic Authorized, Floating, or Concurrent User, to other types like a license measurement based off the square footage of your facility. Make sure you understand the details—some applications are more complex than others.

Partner with product experts within your organization. The next challenge is the logistics of data gathering. Reporting on non-PVU products typically means working with multiple administrators or engineers across different silos within the organization—and that means partnering with the business application owners. Their knowledge about management and the architecture of products will be key in your data collection efforts.

Next, you need to consider the different methods of data collection. Keep in mind that each product family is delivered to its user base in a way that makes sense to the product, not always for utilization reporting. This can make data gathering a timely process, and it will differ from product to product. In many cases this will be a manual effort—however, some products provide scripts and/or can be used with third-party products to assist in data collection.

Get organized. Be sure to document your journey and the steps taken to collect data. Then identify opportunities to create a scriptable and repeatable process. After that, you can collect your data and validate your findings with your Passport Agreement.

This can sound simple, but the initial data collection might just scratch the surface of the information you need. Getting all the data will require a continued partnership with the application owners and experts—they’re your front line for monitoring and managing the license position.

The evolution of an organization to expand or divest can complicate the reporting process as well. Monitor your metrics, and know that it’s crucial to consider multiple sites and licensing acquired from mergers/acquisitions or divestitures. And make sure you keep any documentation developed with IBM about any software licensing transfers. Finally, implement and review any new license keys and counts that have been applied and documented with IBM.

At CleanSlate, we have a deep understanding of non-PVU reporting and can help make sure your business doesn’t have any surprises during your next software audit. If you’d like to learn more about all the ways we can help your business, contact us today.

The Wait is Over: CleanSlate Begins Selling Hardware

The Wait is Over: CleanSlate Begins Selling Hardware

For over a decade, CleanSlate has offered the full line of IBM Passport Advantage

Software—and now we’re certified to sell IBM Power Systems Servers and Software as well as midrange and enterprise storage. In addition to IBM, we also offer the complete line of Lenovo x86 PCs, servers, laptops, and enterprise storage.

“For our ever-growing partner community, this is an opportunity to expand their line card. In addition to selling IBM Software, we’re now excited to be able to fill any hardware gaps our partners have with their customers,” said John Loveys, president & CEO.

CleanSlate’s goal is to provide the best systems at an outstanding price, making sure you have everything necessary to handle your rapidly evolving technology needs. The next time you have a hardware request, contact us to speak with one of our highly skilled sales executives. Our deep technical knowledge and skills can help solve your needs today—and will keep you poised for success tomorrow.

Using IBM Detect to Protect Your Business

Using IBM Detect to Protect Your Business

Cyber-attacks are becoming more sophisticated by the day, and unfortunately, they’re becoming more frequent. According to IBM, “Five of the eight largest healthcare security breaches since the beginning of 2010—those with more than 1 million records reportedly compromised—took place during the first six months of 2015. In fact, over 100 million healthcare records were reportedly compromised in 2015.”

That’s a scary statistic. And it’s not just health care—any industry that maintains sensitive records should be ready to handle these threats, especially in the financial and government sectors.

As part of IBM’s BigFix suite of products, Detect is a critical component of keeping your business safe from potentially devastating cyber attacks. It provides endpoint detection and response solutions for threat analysis, and has capabilities far beyond your typical endpoint detection and response tool.

Detect specializes in assessing and remediating Indicators of Compromise (IOC) and analyzing Indicators of Attack (IOA). IOCs are pieces of forensic data that identify potentially malicious activity on a system or network, while IOAs are a series of actions that an attacker must complete to succeed. Detect helps you get a complete understanding of these threats, and will show you how to take immediate action to mitigate the spread and effectiveness of an attack.

Some people think that because they have a small- or mid-sized business, they don’t need to worry about IOCs and IOAs. While it’s true that a large company has a higher volume of traffic to keep an eye on, small- and mid-sized businesses are also vulnerable—and in many cases, even more vulnerable, because their security measures aren’t current.

A great example of this is the recent WannaCry ransomware attacks. These attacks affected thousands of businesses, and many of them were smaller companies. Unfortunately, because proper security measures weren’t in place, many of these businesses ended up paying the ransom because it was cheaper than overhauling their systems and recovering the ransomed data. This is exactly the type of threat that Detect is designed to identify, isolate, and remediate before it spreads.

Detect integrates seamlessly with QRadar and many other IBM tools on the BigFix platform. Like Detect, QRadar is designed to ensure that endpoints are free from attack, and that policies are set, maintained, and enforced. By working together, QRadar and Detect can also show you whenever key security information—like passwords—are changed, so that you’ll never run into unexpected surprises.

Protecting your business from cyber threats has never been more important. Detect—and the IBM BigFix suite of security products—will help make your endpoint management simple and easy. But more important, it’ll make your business secure, and will allow for immediate identification and remediation of threats that can cost your business lots of time and money.

Our team at CleanSlate works with Detect every day, and we know how to leverage it to make sure your business is ready to handle any cyber attack. If you’re interested in learning more about integrating Detect into your business’s cyber security strategy, contact us today.

ILMT upgrade: The Good, the bad, and the ugly.

ILMT upgrade: The Good, the bad, and the ugly.

IBM recently discontinued support for the legacy License Metric Tool version 7.x (as of April 30, 2017). Companies running any versions of ILMT prior to version 9.2.x will no longer receive product updates, patches, or software catalog updates. Continuing to run these legacy versions of ILMT will likely lead to non-compliance with the latest security patches, and will also lead to non-compliance with IBM for PVU-based software usage/reporting.

Here are the good, bad, and ugly points regarding the ILMT upgrade:

The Good – The latest version of ILMT comes packaged with the BigFix endpoint management platform—one of the industry leaders for enterprise endpoint management. BigFix comes packaged with many different modules that may be enabled to expand your organization’s endpoint management capabilities, including lifecycle, security & compliance, patching, and software inventory/usage for all vendor products.

The Bad – Companies that do not currently use ILMT or are operating off a legacy version are not capturing usage metrics to allow them to effectively manage software compliance and recognize savings and/or compliance risks. If your company falls into this scenario and you are audited, get ready for big fines and a potential loss of the reduced PVU-licensing costs.

The Ugly – Organizations not on an updated ILMT platform are living on borrowed time. IBM requires companies that do take advantage of the reduced pricing offered through PVU-based licensing to stay on the latest-and-greatest version of ILMT. IBM is strict about these requirements and is serious about enforcement and penalties for those that do not adhere to their PPA agreements. Those that are not currently in the process of an upgrade are putting themselves at risk as there are indicators within Passport Advantage that serve to tell a company’s position with ILMT, as well as the version they are operating on.

Don’t delay in preparing for and implementing ILMT, or the upgrade of your existing ILMT platform. Whether your company is just in the exploratory phase or is starting to plan for deployment, you are not alone.

CleanSlate is currently upgrading ILMT for clients of all sizes. Whether your organization manages 100 or 100,000 endpoints, we have the experience as IBM’s go-to partner to assist you with your deployment and reporting. You can contact us for more information, or learn more by viewing our most recent upgrade webinar.

 

CleanSlate wins prestigious Ingram Micro IBM Business Unit Partner award.

CleanSlate wins prestigious Ingram Micro IBM Business Unit Partner award.

Close-up of Ingram Micro's IBM Business Unit Partner of the Year awardAll of us at CleanSlate are excited to announce that we’ve just received Ingram Micro’s IBM Business Unit Partner of the Year award. It’s a great testament to our team and the exceptional work we’re doing—and we’re always happy to be recognized by a company as influential and innovative as Ingram Micro.

Founded in 1979 and based in Irvine, California, Ingram Micro is one of the world’s largest IT companies with more than 27,000 employees across the globe and more than $43 billion in revenue in 2015. We’re lucky to work with them, and even luckier that they’ve thought enough of us to give us this award—especially since this is the first year that the award has been given.

“As one of the largest and most respected IBM Software partners out there—and Ingram Micro’s top IBM Software partner with $50 million in IBM business in 2016—it made sense to give CleanSlate this award,” said George Wagner, market development executive at Ingram Micro. “They’ve also grown their IBM Software business by $16 million within the last five years, which is a huge achievement. We thought it was important to recognize them.”

Ingram Micro is our VAD (Value Added Distributor) of choice, and we’ve been working with them for more than a decade. Our relationship has grown immensely over these last 10 years as we’ve gotten to know the company and its senior management. We think it’s pretty cool that a company with tens of thousands of employees has taken the time to work closely with a determined, growing business like us—and to become such a valuable partner.

As we’ve rolled out our new CleanSlate brand this year, we’ve been encouraged by all the positive feedback we’ve gotten. Winning the IBM Business Unit Partner of the Year award from Ingram Micro is great affirmation that we’re moving in the right direction. We hope our outstanding relationship with them will continue for many years in the future.

Want to learn more about CleanSlate and all the ways we can help your business thrive? We’d love to chat—contact us today.