Managed Services: Built On Open Source?

Ben Yarbrough has seen it. Bob Walters has seen it. And now, hundreds of managed service providers are starting to see it. What exactly is "it"? The simple answer: The convergence of open source with managed services.

Yarbrough, CEO of Calyptix Security, is seeking 100 managed service providers to embrace his company's open source-based security appliance this year. Similarly, Bob Walters, CEO of Untangle, has bet his business on an open source network gateway, which is starting to attract strong interest from MSPs.

Admittedly, many companies have struggled to monetize their open source efforts. But Calyptix and Untangle are the latest examples of open source moving far beyond operating systems and spilling over into new markets, such as networking, security and managed services.

Heading to Atlanta


Calyptix will host a coming out party of sorts at next week's Managed Services Summit, hosted by the MSP Alliance on March 31 and April 1 in Atlanta. Yarbrough's messaging to attendees will be simple in nature. "Simplicity is our strategy," he says. "We're offering MSPs one price for an all-in-one appliance; for that you get everything you need" to offer customers managed security services.

Calyptix's security appliance is based on OpenBSD, an open source operating system. OpenBSD' features security enhancements that has made it popular for firewalls, intrusion-detection systems and VPN gateways. By embracing open source, Calyptix can drive innovation at a lower cost than the traditional closed-source business model, asserts Yarbrough.

Still, Calyptix is a work in progress. In many respects, the company is just getting started in the managed services market. Yarbrough would like to attract 100 MSP partners this year, and he's also working on partnerships with MSP platform providers. One potential relationship, still pending as of March 27, could be announced at the Managed Services Summit or shortly thereafter, Yarbrough says.

This isn't the first time that a technology provider has attempted to inject open source into the managed services market. Another security specialist, Untangle, has developed a secure network gateway that several dozen MSPs now use as part of the managed services tool set.

Longer term, it's safe to anticipate more convergence between open source and managed services -- especially as MSP "communities" begin to overlap with open source ISV communities.

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