Remote management and automation provider N-able Technologies hosted its second roadshow in Auckland on July 12, part of an ongoing branding effort that has already paid off for the vendor.
Since July 2011, the company has seen its stable of managed service providers in New Zealand shoot up from two to 28 members in its single-tier reseller community.
With the announcement on July 12 of the latest version of its flagship product — N-central (now up to version 9.0) — the Ottawa, Canada-based company continues to see opportunity to make real MSPs out of resellers.
In New Zealand, N-Able targets resellers and service providers serving companies with an average of around 12 or 13 seats, befitting this market. But according to the vendor’s director of sales, Frank Coletti, not every self-identified managed service provider fits the company’s definition of a MSP.
Of the 20 or so resellers that visited the N-able event in Auckland, Coletti says probably 25 percent of them could be seen as what N-able views as an orthodox service provider.
“It’s someone who delivers true, proactive managed services on a monthly recurring basis,” says Coletti. “The majority of their business is around annuity revenue streams and the programmes that drive annuity revenue. You can still be a MSP and provide services and hardware on top of it in an a la carte fashion but you have to be bound by a SLA, and you have to have a checklist and you have to be able to deliver a proactive style of service to those clients.”
Coletti’s observation that “all resellers today claim to be MSPs” echoes a Forrester report released in May on the state of the MSP market. According to Forrester — and no surprise in the age of everything-as-a-service — end user organisations are increasingly aware of these offerings. Sixty-eight percent say they contract with a MSP to take care of some of their needs, with more than half of them signed in the previous two-to-five years.
N-Able’s service providers are two or three person operations up to a maximum of 20 people with an annual turnover anywhere from $300,000 to $10 million.
Coletti says that while the ‘true’ MSPs are limited, resellers would be shooting themselves in the foot by not offering managed services to engage with more of their SMB customers.
“What we’re trying to do is because everyone claims to be a MSP, the message has gotten diluted,” says Coletti. “This is: How do I attract the customer I’ve serviced over the last 15 years and convert that guy to managed services. For the guy who wants to buy only a managed server, what other technologies and services can I offer them to help build their revenue?”
Coletti ascribes N-able’s channel growth to the message getting out not to the resellers, but to the end users looking to save money. N-able sells directly to resellers, with a support team of seven working out of Sydney, and 24/7 customer support from company headquarters in Ottawa.
The N-Central product provides a single-pane remote monitoring and automation platform to help the reseller to standardise and automate what once took more human interaction. This includes management of devices, clearing cookies and maintenance backups.
Version 9.0 features an “automation studio” GUI that is designed to make it graphically easy to create policies by turning scripts into objects. Coletti says the customised objects become the IP of the service provider that set it up.
N-able provides a two-tier licensing model. A professional licensing model for proactive, managed servies, and a essential licensing model that adds on remote control, warranty information on all the machines on a network, and full views of all software. The warranty information allows the MSP to automatically communicate with OEM websites for warranty information.
Coletti says resellers have an advanatage over ISPs and other organisations encroaching on their potential customers by covering “that last mile”
“A telco may have all the contracts and customer names, but there’s no relationship with that SMB customer, and they struggle with that,” he says. “In today’s market if guys don’t get into this and start losing customers, that makes no sense. They need to look at the entire spectrum they support. If they have 200 customers in their Rolodex, they’re probably supporting 20 or 30 on a proactive basis. So what about the other 180? How do you get revenue out of them?”
Coletti says N-Central is meant to help with the three main challenges facing MSPs: not knowing how to acquire new customers, not being able to build recurring revenue, and not moving more of the service delivery cost from their business.