Monday, January 19, 2015

Hot in Cleveland: UCG Sees Payoff from MSP Vision

UCG is delighted and honored to be featured in IBM Midsize Insider. Many thanks to Paul Gillin for a great interview and for succinctly capturing UCG's journey. Please enjoy the article!

James Kandrac founded United Computer Group, Inc. (UCG) In December 1987. He was 26 years old, married with a six-month old child. Having worked at IBM and a small leasing firm that he helped grow to $125 million and a public offering, he had a passion to run his own business. More than 27 years later, UCG – an IBM Advanced Business Partner – has 1,500 clients and a robust business providing backup, disaster recovery and systems integration and support services for a variety of IBM platforms.

Never satisfied to rest on his laurels, Jim noticed several years ago that business was changing and that UCG would need to latch onto the cloud computing phenomenon that was rolling across the industry. UCG began building out a managed service provider (MSP) business in the days before it was fashionable. It was hard work at first, but the company is now reaping the rewards of its foresight. Jim tells what he has learned in this Midsize Insider Q&A interview.

What convinced you to launch an MSP side to your business?​

Nearly 10 years ago UCG started to see an overall decline in annual hardware sales. ​Clients that would normally upgrade or replace systems every two or three years due to growth or obsolescence were stretching out to four and five years, mostly due to available capacity. We decided to provide solutions that were needed and would "stick" for long periods of time. The top two IT needs at that time were and continue to be security and disaster recovery. ​

​What MSP services do you provide and to what kind of customers?​

BaaS, or backup as a service, and remote hardware disaster recovery for IBM i and Intel-based systems. We also offer test, development and logical partitioning or LPARS.

How has your experience launching this business differed from your expectations? Any surprises?​

I thought that within one year, we would reach a specific goal of X number of clients and revenue. It took seven years. Selling and supporting an MSP practice takes a large investment of time, money, and resources, while at the same time running the day-to-day operations side of the business.

How well is the business performing and what do future growth prospects look like?

The first two to three years were like any other start-up; slow and difficult. Since year four, however, UCG has grown the MSP business 25% per year on average.​

What’s different about running an MSP from running a more traditional systems integration company?​

You’re more involved on an ongoing basis. You need 7X24X365 support, and emergency calls can come at any time. You have to be committed to solve client problems and to be able to focus, execute and deliver.​

Are you serving the same customers or a whole new class of customers?​

It’s Marketing 101: Sell new products and services to an existing client base and then branch out. In 2007 most of our business was within 200 miles of our headquarters in Cleveland. Last year we had close to 150 MSP clients in 30 states in the U.S., Canada and Europe. That’s in addition to the more than 1,500 clients UCG has served regionally since our founding in 1987.​

What bumps in the road did you encounter along the way?​

Selling MSP services takes time. Prospects must be educated and you need the buy-in of both the IT team and the C-level executives. Initially, there is a significant capital investment and you must be focused and committed. MSP services are not a part-time offering. To do it right, you need to jump in with both feet.

What advice would you have for integrators who are reluctant to adopt the MSP model?​

If you feel you have a service offering that is truly needed in the marketplace, do a survey or focus group with selected long-term clients and then be ready to work diligently to make the business successful. Solving client issues and pains is paramount; deliver an excellent client experience every time, without exception. You have one reputation. Once you've lost it, you can't get it back.​

About the Author

Paul Gillin is a veteran technology journalist who's covered the enterprise IT market since the early 1980s. His background includes 15 years as editor-in-chief, executive editor and reporter at Computerworld.
In 1999, he joined Internet startup TechTarget as vice president of editorial and helped grow that new-media technology publisher to 450 people and an initial public offering. For the past five years he has specialized in helping B2B companies understand the complexity of social media while continuing to write, speak and advise on trends in enterprise IT.
Paul is the author of three books about social marketing: The New Influencers (2007), Secrets of Social Media Marketing (2008) and Social Marketing to the Business Customer (2011), co-authored with Eric Schwartzman. He also co-authored a book about the Internet-enabled global game of geocaching with his wife, Dana (The Joy of Geocaching, 2010).
Paul writes a monthly column for BtoB magazine and maintains multiple blogs on media- and technology-related topics. He has appeared as an expert commentator of CNN, PBS, Fox News, MSNBC and many other television and radio outlets. He has also been quoted or interviewed for hundreds of news and radio reports in outlets such as The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, NPR and the BBC. +Paul Gillin +United Computer Group, Inc.  

Monday, January 12, 2015

United Computer Group, Inc. Q1 2015 Newsletter

It's a brand new year.

Hello and Happy New Year! As we begin 2015, we thank you for your friendship, your confidence, and your business.  

Since 1987, UCG's unsurpassed commitment to providing an excellent client experience has been the cornerstone of our company. We listen carefully to your business issues and pain points, and then work with you to solve them. It's a simple yet key core value that each of our team members embrace. 

As the year unfolds, we remain focused as we continue to evolve, innovate, and stay true to our tradition of engaged client relationships. Thank you for your continued interest in United Computer Group.

Please enjoy this issue of the UCG newsletter and forward to colleagues within and outside your organization.


James A. Kandrac, President & Founder
Michael D. Powall, Vice President
Vladimir Capitanov, Senior Technical Consultant
Timothy Prostor, Senior Technical Consultant
Gina Creager, Office Manager
Barbara Belovics, Accounting Manager
AnneMarie Ashcraft, National Account Manager

Three important security tips for 2015

Please share these three security tips, courtesy of UCG data center partner BlueBridge Networks, to protect the privacy of consumers and businesses:

1.  Nothing is truly free, including mobile apps. Be aware of the personal information you give mobile app providers. Many free apps sell your information to a wide range of companies, some of which may have malicious intents. Studies have shown most apps do not have many, or even any, security controls built in. Check to see if the app you want respects your privacy and has security built in.

2.  Be cautious with new "smart" devices. A wide range of new and unique gadgets—from socks to smart cars—connects you directly to other entities (and even to the internet) to automatically share information about your activities, location and personal characteristics. Before using such devices, make sure you know which data they are collecting, how it will be used and with whom it will be shared.

3.  Only share personal information with trusted
 Be extra careful not to share sensitive personal information, such as social security numbers, credit card numbers and driver's license numbers. Don't do business with an entity that does not have a posted privacy notice.

Sony hack reminds employees to watch what they write 

For every accurate statement made about the recent Sony Pictures hack, there have been at least two inaccurate ones. Shockingly, many of these errors have been uttered by people in positions of authority, such as politicians and other self-proclaimed cyber security "experts." 

Just as notable is the fact every person is vulnerable to hackers, as evidenced by the reputation damage suffered by several Sony Pictures executives whose emails were leaked to media. Things you may think are funny or private, when exposed to a broader audience out of context, can paint a public picture of a person you are not. Remember:  You should never put anything into an email—especially your work email—you would not want the entire world to be able to see if that message is not encrypted. 

Tech Czar Michael DeAloia hosted Jim Kandrac on Sunday, December 14. Listen to the recording of this entertaining and informative show broadcast on Cleveland Confidential Radio, Cleveland’s AM1420 Radio.
Cleveland Confidential Radio is all about exploring the big personalities, great entrepreneurs and the exciting creative class that are making a difference in Cleveland and Northeast Ohio. Jim shared some knowledge on his entrepreneurial experiences and the challenges of leading a tech company in Cleveland since 1987, as well as a few very entertaining stories about his life!
Be sure to check out the article published a few months ago in the Cleveland Plain Dealer: Tech Czar Talk: Reinvention is key for tech companies featuring United Computer Group, Inc.

R.W. Sidley

UCG’s VAULT400 BaaS a Natural Choice for R.W. Sidley, Inc.

United Computer Group, Inc. is pleased to announce that R.W. Sidley of Painesville, Ohio has selected VAULT400 BaaS as its backup solution. R.W. Sidley has been a valued client of United Computer Group for over 20 years.
Brad Buescher, Human Resource Director, had taken on more responsibility in R.W. Sidley’s IT department. He immediately recognized the need to improve their primary system up time and security, and contacted UCG. R.W. Sidley runs on the IBM Power 5+system also provided by UCG. 
UCG updated their Uninterruptable Power Supply in addition to adding VAULT400 BaaS. R.W. Sidley’s data is now encrypted, compressed, and sent offsite nightly to two secure HIPAA compliant data centers located in Cleveland, Ohio and Atlanta, Georgia.

“VAULT400 is working great,” stated Buescher. “United Computer Group worked with our IT staff to setup the system and make sure we understand how it operates. R.W. Sidley chose UCG’s VAULT400 BaaS because the company has provided dependable IT support to our organization for over two decades. We trust UCG to support and secure our business critical data.”

About R. W. Sidley, Inc.

R.W. Sidley, Inc. was established in 1933 as a mining and manufacturing company. Since then they have continued to build their company through the development of high quality products derived from our original core products of silica sand and bank gravel. As a full service supplier R.W. Sidley, Inc. provides a broad range of construction solutions for today's building industry. They manufacture and supply bulk aggregates, industrial minerals, ready-mix concrete, masonry block products, structural and architectural precast components, and building supplies.
The historic Casement House, built in 1870 in Painesville, Ohio, serves as R. W. Sidley’s Corporate Office. The building was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1979. 

Visit Our Resource Libraries

Be sure to take advantage of the valuable information available for download in our VAULT400 and Enterprise Management Software
 Resource Libraries.

United Computer Group, Inc.
7100 E. Pleasant Valley Road #250
Independence, OH 44131-5556
Toll Free: 800.211.8798
Main: 216.520.1333 |
James A. Kandrac, President
Michael D. Powall, Vice President

Socially Connected
You can find us on LinkedInTwitter,YouTubeGoogle+Facebook, and on our UCG Blog.

We make an effort to connect on social media with our clients, vendors, and business partners, so please reach out and let us know where we can find you.
Speaking of social media, where have you found the most success connecting with other technology companies/ technology-minded individuals? Let us know what you think at
United Computer Group, Inc.
January 2015
Q1 Newsletter

UCG in the News:
Q1 2015 Highlights

UCG’s VAULT400 BaaS a Natural Choice for R.W. Sidley, Inc.

“VAULT400 is working great. United Computer Group worked with our IT staff to setup the system and make sure we understand how it operates. R.W. Sidley chose UCG’s VAULT400 BaaS because the company has provided dependable IT support to our organization for over two decades. We trust UCG to support and secure our business critical data.” - 
Brad Buescher, Human Resource Director, R.W. Sidley

Mid-America Door Chooses Industry Expert United Computer Group, Inc. for BaaS

After an online meeting, disk analysis, receiving their proposal and due diligence, Carl Christensen, VP & COO of Mid-America Door, felt confident that UCG’s VAULT400 BaaS was the answer to their data backup issues. He made the final decision, and days later VAULT400 was installed and configured in an online meeting in less than 90 minutes.

NCORITA hosting third annual technology conference focusing on Mobile Technology. 

How to have it all with Mobility: Security, Productivity, and Privacy
Everyone is talking about what mobility can do for their business, yet it can seem so challenging. See what the industry leaders have to say. 

Thursday, January 15
7:30 am - 5:00 pm
Kehoe Center in Shelby, OH 

The event will feature a main tent speaker, breakout speakers and selected solution providers surrounding the topic of IT Mobility and Mobile Computing.
UCG will be attending the event, so be sure to stop by our table for a visit. If you'd like to set up a meeting ahead of time, give us a call at 800. 211.8798 or email Hope to see you there! Register today!
PartnerWorld Leadership Conference 2015 - February 9 - 12 in Las Vegas

IBM PartnerWorld spotlights value of the MSP model. 

Whether you're transitioning to a managed service provider/cloud service provider (MSP/CSP) business or have already made the jump, there's no doubt cloud is the future of technology delivery.

Register for the IBM PartnerWorld Leadership Conference (PWLC) 2015 Feb. 9-12 in Las Vegas! Learn about the opportunities, best practices and business changes the MSP/CSP model involves. Hear successful MSPs tell how they drive cloud-delivered services growth, build high-value services practices, evaluate tradeoffs between physical and virtual infrastructure, transform their businesses from transactional to recurring revenue, partner for success with IBM and more.

Your DR Strategy Guide for IBM i Available for Download Now!
Thank you for taking time to read the DR Strategy Guide for IBM i, brought to you by Maxava and United Computer Group. If you or your team are responsible for the ongoing health and protection of your IBM i systems and data, this guide is for you! Click here to download your DR Strategy Guide. 

United Computer Group, Inc. (UCG) was founded in 1987 by James A. Kandrac. UCG has been an IBM Business Partner since 1989 and an IBM Advanced Business Partner since 1991. Customers have rated UCG in the top 1% of IBM Business Partners nationwide. 

UCG offers VAULT400 BaaS and IBM Power Systems, in addition to a wide range of related products and services. United Computer Group, Inc. and Maxava have been business partners since 2008. Maxava HA is the solution of choice when UCG clients need RTO and RPO of less than 1 hour.

Read more.

United Computer Group partners enjoy collaborative, rewarding, and mutually beneficial arrangements to bring industry-leading technology solutions to the mid-market. Our core business philosophies ensure that our clients have an excellent experience. We are focused on delivering solutions to help them solve their most complex technology challenges.
As an IBM Advanced Business Partner, UCG has been actively marketing Power Systems-based enterprise solutions since 1987. We place great value in finding the right partner to provide a high level of sales, marketing, and technological support to our clients.

Interested? Click here to fill out a brief form and we will contact you within 24 hours. We look forward to working with you.

Monday, January 05, 2015

How to have it all with Mobility: Security, Productivity, and Privacy

Everyone is talking about what mobility can do for their business, yet it can seem so challenging. See what the industry leaders have to say. 

Roger Bjork, Dell, Inc., Director of Global Product Marketing, Mobile/BYOD Solutions

Additional Insight on mobility trends by Pervasive Path Consulting, Shoretel, Verizon and more!

Date:        Thursday, January 15, 2015

Time:        7:30 AM - sign in
Location:  Kehoe Center Shelby, Ohio (perfectly situated between Cleveland and Columbus and a short drive West from Wooster)

Attendee admission fees are covered by NCORITA and include light breakfast, lunch, parking.

A vendor fair will be featured during lunch. Prizes and raffles throughout the day. United Computer Group will be exhibiting, so be sure to stop by our table!

Click Register or go to and click on Events.

Presented by NCORITA. NCORITA was formed in 2011 to create a venue for IT professionals to gather and exchange ideas in the heart of Ohio.

Dell Keynote Speaker Bio: Roger Bjork

Roger Bjork has been with Dell, Inc. for 15 years
. He holds a BSCS in Computer Science from Texas A&M University and has been in the mobile industry for over three decades in various capacities, including R&D, product planning, business development, and marketing.

How to have it all with Mobility: security, productivity and privacy