In an industry filled with entrepreneurs and other movers and shakers, it’s no easy task to pick just a few who might have a greater impact than most on the fortunes of managed services providers (MSP).
From owners of individual solution providers, to executives at key vendors upon whose toolsets MSPs rely, the tech services ecosystem has no shortage of dynamic people innovating and shaping the business.
As 2016 draws to a close, we look at a handful of influential players whose decisions could have outsized ramifications on the MSP space during the coming year.
David Bellini, president and managing director, ConnectWise International – One of the best-known makers of toolsets for solution and service providers, ConnectWise has long been among the most important firms in the realm of North American MSPs.
Last year, the younger of the vendor’s founding brothers moved to London to personally direct the company’s European expansion, with a goal of growing overseas revenue from 16 percent to somewhere closer to 50 percent.
Bellini presided over the launch of a UK office that now numbers 28 employees.
In 2017, Bellini will seek to execute on a strategy that includes adapting ConnectWise’s products to compete in the German market, and convening the first-ever “IT Nation Europe,” scheduled for April 25-27 in London.
Andy Jassy, CEO of Amazon Web Services – As cloud adoption grows and tech services providers increasingly try to build related practices, AWS sits atop the food chain, with more than a third of the public cloud market.
While AWS has developed a robust partner program in recent years, several of its strategic initiatives of 2016 have raised questions about whether the firm truly is committed to channel or whether it’s gearing up to compete directly with MSPs.
This month, AWS announced it has begun providing managed IT services to large enterprises.
Also this month, the company revealed a new tool that allows consumers to quickly set up servers and run apps on the AWS public cloud without any technical knowledge.
In both cases, tech solution providers face the prospect of being increasingly marginalized, particularly if AWS chooses to expand its managed services business to midmarket and small businesses.
The decisions Jassy and his team make in 2017 could help answer the question of whether cloud computing will ultimately mean boon or bust for MSPs.
Fred Voccola, CEO of Kaseya – The head of the software toolset maker made headlines in 2016 for his often-colorful assessments of the PSA and RMM market.
But clearly there was much more going on at Kaseya this year than the occasional barbs at competitors’ products.
Just this week, the company announced it experienced 50 percent year-over-year growth in 2016 and that its MSP partners grew an average of 30 percent during the period.
Kaseya’s business model relies on providing low-cost, SaaS-delivered products that focus primarily on outward-facing activities and enable MSPs to affordably offer a wide range of services.
Under its “Times 20” philosophy, the firm sets a goal of helping MSPs earn a 20 times return on their IT toolset investments.
For 2017, look for Voccola and his team to double-down on Kaseya’s “IT Complete” product, billed as a value-priced package of tools that combines PSA functionality with revenue-generating solutions that MSPs can sell to end users.
Gavriella Schuster, corporate vice president of Microsoft’s Worldwide Partner Group – Another of the world’s most important public cloud players, Microsoft this year moved aggressively to push its service provider partners to develop cloud practices.
Under Schuster’s leadership, Microsoft discontinued partner competencies it deemed obsolete and launched new ones aimed at driving adoption of its Azure cloud platform.
Given Amazon’s move into managed services, it remains to be seen whether Microsoft will follow suit and offer some segment of Azure customers the same types of cloud-related IT services that have thus far been provided by partners.
And in the realm of self-serve tools, it wouldn’t be completely unexpected were Microsoft to also bring forth products that allow end users to bypass MSPs and access public cloud computing directly from the vendor.
In 2017, Schuster will be among the industry leaders to watch for signs that major cloud providers are adding momentum to efforts to circumvent the channel and cut MSPs out of public cloud’s future.
Jocelyn Samuels, director of the US Department of Health and Human Services Office of Civil Rights – MSPs providing services in the lucrative healthcare vertical have become acutely aware of HHS’s Office of Civil Rights (OCR).
The federal office is charged with enforcing the Security Rule of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), which establishes cybersecurity regulations that safeguard electronic protected health information (ePHI).
In 2016, Samuels oversaw a dramatic enforcement crackdown by OCR that resulted in a combined $23.5 million in settlement fines for HIPAA data security breaches, up from $6.2 million in all of 2015.
MSPs that handle ePHI are subject to “business associate” agreements that extend to them the liability for mishandling patient information.
Many will be keeping a close eye on Samuels’ shop in 2017 to determine whether this year was an aberration or whether the enforcement crackdown represents a new normal that will continue to drive up the risks associated with an ePHI misstep.
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