Tag Archives: managed

SolarWinds: MSP Pulse can shed light on business transformation

SolarWinds MSP has launched a benchmarking tool that it said is designed to help managed service providers better understand the health of their businesses. The new offering from SolarWinds, MSP Pulse aims to improve channel partners’ business strategies while also providing insight into how they stack up against their competitors.

The move comes as MSPs look for better ways to measure their progress as they grapple with business transformation at their companies. As channel companies transition from hardware reselling to an as-a-service subscription model, many are finding that shifting gears has placed new responsibilities on their business. As a result MSPs are looking for more analysis and insights as they move to the managed services model.

To help them understand how their competitors are handling new market trends, SolarWinds MSP in collaboration with research firm The 2112 Group developed MSP Pulse, a free online survey that asks participants specific questions about their business. 

SolarWinds: MSP Pulse attracts nearly 500 survey takers

So far nearly 500 companies located in North America and Europe have taken the survey, answering a range of questions on such topics as 2017 revenue, 2018 projected revenue, location, types of managed services offered, and the number of dedicated salespeople on staff.

According to executives at SolarWinds MSP, answers to these questions are stored in a database and used to generate comparative analysis in a variety of areas, including sales, profitability and customer engagement.

Comparisons are also made between companies that are the same size, offer the same managed service offerings and operate in the same region.

“Many companies are in the dark on their own,” said Mike Cullen, vice president of customer experience and business strategy at SolarWinds MSP. “This tool gives them good information to balance themselves off of what other companies are doing in the market.”

Chart showing steps for achieving predictable revenue streams
The quest for predicable, as-a-service revenue is just one dimension of the MSP transition the SolarWinds MSP Pulse tool aims to address.

How it works

Many companies are in the dark on their own.
Mike Cullenvice president of customer experience and business strategy, SolarWinds MSP

At the end of the SolarWinds MSP Pulse survey, participants receive a customized report about how their companies’ performance compares with companies of similar size and type. The benchmarking process provides information on whether an MSP is on par, below average or above average with regard to its competitors across a number of categories, including monthly account attrition rate — also known as churn rate — and managed service revenue targets.

Channel partners may use their results to plan their managed services model transformation and are encouraged to take the survey on a quarterly basis to update their data and track their progress.

Cullen said many MSPs are wondering what their benchmark should look like. He said these companies need information on how many new customers should they acquire per month and how much of their companies’ business should be managed services as opposed to hardware.

He added executives at MSPs also want to know if MSPs in their region of the same size and the same revenue structure have the same number of employees.

For Sale – i7 8700k Brand New

Intel i7 8700k Brand New, Un-opened box with the 3 years Intel warranty all there. Managed to buy this cheap online with some vouchers and I don’t fancy buying a new mobo to use it for myself so I would rather sell at a small gain.

Item will be shipped out by RM First Class.

Payment by bank transfer – Until I receive some feedback I am willing to send first providing I am satisfied with the buyer’s reputation.

Price and currency: 255
Delivery: Delivery cost is included within my country
Payment method: Bank
Location: Whitefield
Advertised elsewhere?: Not advertised elsewhere
Prefer goods collected?: I have no preference

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For Sale – CPU water and air coolers

Having a clear out as managed to sell most of the desktops. Starting with some coolers

Intel stock £3
Arctic Freezer 13 £12
Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO £15 SOLD LOCALLY

Corsair Hydro H80i £30
Corsair Hydro H70 £25 SOLD LOCALLY

Price and currency: 12
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DO NOT proceed with a deal until you are completely satisfied with all details being correct. It’s in your best interest to check out these details yourself.

For Sale – CPU water and air coolers

Having a clear out as managed to sell most of the desktops. Starting with some coolers

Intel stock £3
Arctic Freezer 13 £12
Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO £15 SOLD LOCALLY

Corsair Hydro H80i £30
Corsair Hydro H70 £25 SOLD LOCALLY

Price and currency: 12
Delivery: Delivery cost is not included
Payment method: PPG BT
Location: Bristol
Advertised elsewhere?: Advertised elsewhere
Prefer goods collected?: I prefer the goods to be collected

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This message is automatically inserted in all classifieds forum threads.
By replying to this thread you agree to abide by the trading rules detailed here.
Please be advised, all buyers and sellers should satisfy themselves that the other party is genuine by providing the following via private conversation to each other after negotiations are complete and prior to dispatching goods and making payment:

  • Landline telephone number. Make a call to check out the area code and number are correct, too
  • Name and address including postcode
  • Valid e-mail address

DO NOT proceed with a deal until you are completely satisfied with all details being correct. It’s in your best interest to check out these details yourself.

For Sale – i7 8700k Brand New

Intel i7 8700k Brand New, Un-opened box with the 3 years Intel warranty all there. Managed to buy this cheap online with some vouchers and I don’t fancy buying a new mobo to use it for myself so I would rather sell at a small gain.

Item will be shipped out by RM First Class.

Payment by bank transfer – Until I receive some feedback I am willing to send first providing I am satisfied with the buyer’s reputation.

Price and currency: 255
Delivery: Delivery cost is included within my country
Payment method: Bank
Location: Whitefield
Advertised elsewhere?: Not advertised elsewhere
Prefer goods collected?: I have no preference

______________________________________________________
This message is automatically inserted in all classifieds forum threads.
By replying to this thread you agree to abide by the trading rules detailed here.
Please be advised, all buyers and sellers should satisfy themselves that the other party is genuine by providing the following via private conversation to each other after negotiations are complete and prior to dispatching goods and making payment:

  • Landline telephone number. Make a call to check out the area code and number are correct, too
  • Name and address including postcode
  • Valid e-mail address

DO NOT proceed with a deal until you are completely satisfied with all details being correct. It’s in your best interest to check out these details yourself.

For Sale – CPU water and air coolers

Having a clear out as managed to sell most of the desktops. Starting with some coolers

Intel stock £3
Arctic Freezer 13 £12
Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO £15

Corsair Hydro H80i £30
Corsair Hydro H70 £25

Price and currency: 12
Delivery: Delivery cost is not included
Payment method: PPG BT
Location: Bristol
Advertised elsewhere?: Advertised elsewhere
Prefer goods collected?: I prefer the goods to be collected

______________________________________________________
This message is automatically inserted in all classifieds forum threads.
By replying to this thread you agree to abide by the trading rules detailed here.
Please be advised, all buyers and sellers should satisfy themselves that the other party is genuine by providing the following via private conversation to each other after negotiations are complete and prior to dispatching goods and making payment:

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  • Name and address including postcode
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DO NOT proceed with a deal until you are completely satisfied with all details being correct. It’s in your best interest to check out these details yourself.

For Sale – i7 8700k Brand New

Intel i7 8700k Brand New, Un-opened box with the 3 years Intel warranty all there. Managed to buy this cheap online with some vouchers and I don’t fancy buying a new mobo to use it for myself so I would rather sell at a small gain.

Item will be shipped out by RM First Class.

Payment by bank transfer – Until I receive some feedback I am willing to send first providing I am satisfied with the buyer’s reputation.

Price and currency: 255
Delivery: Delivery cost is included within my country
Payment method: Bank
Location: Whitefield
Advertised elsewhere?: Not advertised elsewhere
Prefer goods collected?: I have no preference

______________________________________________________
This message is automatically inserted in all classifieds forum threads.
By replying to this thread you agree to abide by the trading rules detailed here.
Please be advised, all buyers and sellers should satisfy themselves that the other party is genuine by providing the following via private conversation to each other after negotiations are complete and prior to dispatching goods and making payment:

  • Landline telephone number. Make a call to check out the area code and number are correct, too
  • Name and address including postcode
  • Valid e-mail address

DO NOT proceed with a deal until you are completely satisfied with all details being correct. It’s in your best interest to check out these details yourself.

DattoCon 2018: Focus on MSPs poised for SMB growth

AUSTIN, Texas — Managed service providers stand on the cusp of explosive growth in the small and medium-sized business market, but they must focus their sales and look for points of differentiation to cash in.

That’s one takeaway from this week’s DattoCon, Datto Inc.’s annual partner conference. The three-day event attracted about 1,650 service providers, a record for the Norwalk, Conn., data protection, networking and managed service provider (MSP) business management vendor. The event concluded June 20.

“The SMB spend rate is climbing really fast,” said Austin McChord, CEO and founder of Datto. “The opportunity is absolutely massive.”

Austin McChord, founder and CEO, DattoAustin McChord

Citing research from MarketsandMarkets, McChord said SMB IT spend will grow from about $40 billion in 2017 to nearly $72 billion in 2022. He estimated half of SMB transactions currently involve MSPs — so while the SMB market is already large, there is still room for the MSP industry to capture more business.

“Small businesses will be scrambling to rethink their IT infrastructure [and will] need to turn to managed service providers,” McChord said during his DattoCon keynote address.

Valuations climb

While demand expands, MSP market valuations are also growing.

Paul Dippell, CEO of Service Leadership, a company that benchmarks the financial performance and operational maturity of solution providers, said the arrival of private equity investment firms is one force driving valuations. IT services companies, such as Reliam, are partnering with private equity firms to do deals.

“Private equity groups have found the MSP industry,” Dippell said during a DattoCon presentation.

The equity investor’s typical target — MSPs with $5 million or more in annual profit — are rare, which makes those companies more valuable. Meanwhile, MSP owners looking to sell to such buyers may need to acquire another MSP to boost the bottom line and be deemed desirable, Dippell noted. An MSP with $3 million in profit, for example, may look to acquire an MSP with $2 million in profit. But even MSPs at the $2 million profit mark are unusual.

Deals have been rampant in the MSP and cloud consulting sectors of late, including Green House Data’s merger with Infront Consulting Group in May.

Chart showing recent mergers and acquisitions in the IT services industry
New buyers in the MSP market, such as private equity groups, are driving up service provider valuations.

MSP industry execs: Focus is key

High growth and ample valuations, of course, are not guaranteed. Industry executives suggested several factors that could improve a service provider’s ability to make the most of these trends. Among those factors is focus: Pick a target market and stick to it. That target can then become a point of differentiation.

“They have got to differentiate themselves — just figure out what they are best at and sell that,” McChord said.

That approach could mean only selling services to dental practices or biomedical research companies, he said. The idea is to understand an industry and its lingo, cultivate vendor partners to serve that space, and develop a differentiated business model. Indiscriminate and opportunistic selling, on the other hand, may backfire, McChord suggested.

Work in a fishbowl, not an ocean.
David Pencefounder and CEO, Acumen IT

“Just taking any revenue that shows up almost always puts you in a bad spot,” he said.

David Pence, founder and CEO at service provider Acumen IT, based in Greenville, S.C., echoed McChord’s sentiments.

“Work in a fishbowl, not an ocean,” he told attendees during a DattoCon presentation on MSP selling strategies.

He suggested MSPs create a dream 100 list of customers to pursue rather than buy a mailing list and trigger an email blast to 100,000 companies. And when service providers call on their dream list, they should focus on delivering a superior customer experience rather than providing technology.

“It’s not technology and blinking lights,” Pence said. “When you are talking to customers, be consultative. Don’t be a tech engineer.”

Key attributes

Dippell cited focused selling as one of five key attributes of the top performing service providers. Companies that have a well-defined target customer profile tend to outperform their peers who don’t.

The other attributes, he said, are whether the service provider charges for technology assessments, drives technology standards across customers, conducts quarterly business reviews and cross-sells the breadth of its service portfolio to all customers.

A yes on those counts can help service providers join the ranks of best-in-class companies.

DRaaS solution: US Signal makes rounds in healthcare market

A managed service provider’s disaster-recovery-as-a-service offering is carving a niche among healthcare market customers, including Baystate Health System, a five-hospital medical enterprise in western Massachusetts.

The DRaaS solution from US Signal, an MSP based in Grand Rapids, Mich., is built on Zerto’s disaster recovery software, US Signal’s data center capability and the company’s managed services. The offering is designed to work in VMware vCenter Server and Microsoft System Center environments. One target market is healthcare.

“We have several healthcare facilities … all across the Midwest using this solution,” said Jerry Clark, director of cloud sales development at US Signal. The DRaaS solution meets HIPAA standards, according to the company.

Clark said many hospitals — and organizations in other industries, for that matter — are searching for ways to avoid the investment in duplicate hardware traditional DR approaches require. With DRaaS, hardware becomes the service provider’s issue. Instead of paying for hardware upfront, the customer pays a monthly management fee to the DRaaS provider. The approach has expanded the channel opportunity in DR.

“Enterprises … run into the same situation: ‘Do we spend all this Capex on disaster recovery hardware that may or may not ever get used?'” Clark noted. “A DRaaS solution makes it much more economical.”

Chart showing anticipated budget growth across various IT sectors
One-third of the respondents to TechTarget’s IT Priorities survey identified disaster recovery as an area for budget growth.

Baystate Health adopts DRaaS solution

US Signal found an East Coast customer, Baystate Health, based in Springfield, Mass., though VertitechIT, a US Signal consulting partner located in nearby Holyoke, Mass.

Jerry Clark, director of cloud sales development at US SignalJerry Clark

VertitechIT helped Baystate Health launch a software-defined data center initiative. The implementation uses the entire VMware stack across three active data centers. The three-node arrangement provides local data replication, but David Miller, senior IT director and CTO at Baystate Health, said an outage in 2016 knocked out all three sites — contrary to design assumptions — for 10 hours.

Miller said his organization had been looking into some form of remote replication and high availability but had yet to land a good solution. The downtime event, however, increased the urgency of finding one.

“We realized we had to do something now rather than later,” Miller said.

David Miller, CTO at Baystate Health SystemDavid Miller

VertitechIT introduced US Signal to Baystate Health. The companies met in VertitechIT’s corporate office and US Signal proposed its DRaaS solution. In its DRaaS solution, US Signal deploys Zerto’s IT Resilience Platform, specifically Zerto Virtual Manager and Virtual Replication Appliance. The software installed in the customer source environment replicates data writes for each protected virtual machine to the DR target site, in this case US Signal’s Grand Rapids data center. An MPLS link connects Baystate Health to the Michigan facility.

The remote replication service provides the benefit of geodiversity, according to the companies. Baystate Health’s data centers are all in the Springfield area.

[embedded content]

CIO of Christian Brothers Services discusses the
company’s infrastructure partnership with US Signal.

US Signal’s DRaaS solution also includes a playbook, which documents the steps Baystate Health IT personnel should take to failover to the disaster recovery site in the event of an outage. In addition, US Signal’s DRaaS package provides two annual DR tests. The DRaaS provider also tests failover before the DR plan goes into effect and documents that test in the playbook, Clark noted.

Miller said the DR service, which went live about a year ago, provides a recovery point objective (RPO) of “less than a couple of minutes” for Baystate Health’s PeopleSoft system, one of the healthcare provider’s tier-one applications. The recovery time objective (RTO) is less than two hours. RPO and RTO characteristics differ according to the application and its criticality.

Initially, the DRaaS solution covered a handful of apps, but the list of protected systems has expanded over the past 12 months, Miller said.

A DRaaS ‘showcase’

Myles Angell, executive project officer at VertitechIT, said the Baystate Health deployment has become “a showcase” when meeting with potential clients that have similar DR challenges.

Myles Angell, executive project officer at VertitechITMyles Angell

“We’re talking to other hospitals about it,” he said.

Other organizations interested in DRaaS should pay close attention to their application portfolios, however. Angell said businesses need to have a thorough understanding of applications before embarking on a DR strategy.

“To successfully build a disaster recovery option — and have confidence in the execution — relies on complete documentation of the application’s running state, dependencies and any necessary changes that would need to be executed at the time of a DR cut over,” he explained. “These pieces of information are vital to knowing how to adhere to the RTO/RPO objectives that have been defined.”

Angell said businesses may have a good understanding of their tier-one applications but may have less of a handle with regard to their tier-three or tier-four systems. The recovery of an application that isn’t well-documented or completely understood becomes a riskier endeavor when a disaster strikes.

“The DR option may miss the objectives and targets that the business is expecting and, therefore, the company may actually be worse off due to lost time trying to scramble for the little things that were not documented,” Angell said.

Green House Data merger boosts Microsoft consulting skills

Green House Data, a managed service provider based in Cheyenne, Wyo., has added Microsoft consulting capabilities, automation skills and greater geographic reach in its merger with Infront Consulting Group Ltd.

The deal, announced May 31, combines Green House Data’s cloud hosting, managed IaaS and hybrid IT services with Infront Consulting Group’s consulting services for Microsoft infrastructure and Azure cloud. Infront Consulting Group, based in Toronto, is a Gold Managed Microsoft Partner. The Microsoft managed partner designation means that the partner is field-managed by Microsoft and reflects a deeper level of engagement with the company.

The Green House Data merger comes amid a flurry of mergers and acquisitions in the IT services and cloud consulting space. Reliam and Converge Technology Partners, for example, have been snapping up managed public cloud providers and regional IT infrastructure companies, respectively. Fusion Agiletech Partners Inc. earlier this year kicked off a strategy of acquiring Microsoft-oriented partners, acquiring digital consulting firm Quisitive.

Shawn Mills, CEO at Green House Data, said the Infront Consulting Group merger stems from the company’s decision last year to target Microsoft Azure as a hyperscale provider in light of the cloud platform’s rapid growth. The company started looking for a Microsoft partner to join forces with and was attracted to Infront Consulting Group and its Fortune 250 customer base, Mills noted. He said Green House Data generally plays in the midmarket.

“It makes a tremendous amount of sense for us to combine,” Mills said.

Shawn Mills, CEO at Green House DataShawn Mills

Infront Consulting Group offers consulting services in areas such as Office 365 advanced threat prevention, Microsoft System Center Operations Manager and Configuration Manager deployment, and blockchain. The company also provides Azure migration services and offers a cloud governance and automation tool called the Azure Automation Framework.

“We are not looking for a rollout strategy,” Mills said regarding his company’s acquisition approach. “We are looking for capabilities.”

Green House Data merger seeks MS skills

Infront Consulting Group’s Microsoft consulting and Azure experience were the main capabilities behind Green House Data’s interest. But as a secondary benefit, the Toronto company offers the ability to deploy Green House Data’s suite of services in the Canadian market, Mills added.

It makes a tremendous amount of sense for us to combine.
Shawn MillsCEO, Green House Data

Green House Data and Infront Consulting Group will operate under their respective brands going forward.

“Both entities have a pretty strong brand presence in their own individual respective capabilities,” Mills explained. “We want to continue to capitalize on that.”

As for back-office infrastructure, the combined companies have near-term plans to merge sales, marketing, accounting and other operations. The go-to-market strategy calls for Green House Data to deliver managed services to Infront Consulting Group customers that require them, while Infront Consulting Group will deliver consulting services to Green House Data customers.

Automation a plus

The consulting firm will also lend its automation and DevOps capabilities to the merger. Mills said Green House Data will use that expertise internally to build out its automated tools for delivering services. In addition, Infront Consulting Group’s governance tools can help the organization more efficiently use software licensing to minimize costs, he added.

While the Green House Data merger expands the range of services the company can offer, the company will continue to partner with managed service providers (MSPs) in the small business market — companies with 500 employees or fewer. Green House Data launched a channel program in 2016 to partner with MSPs and VARs.

Mills said its channel partners will continue to cover the small business market, while Green House Data focuses on the midmarket and Infront Consulting Group pursues large enterprises.