Managed Services Aren't Just For VARs

Managed Services Aren't Just For VARs

target customerAt first glance, managed services platforms represent the perfect business opportunity for VARs. But take a closer look -- and talk to companies like Kaseya and Nimsoft -- and you'll discover a completely different target customer for MSP-centric systems. Here's the scoop.

Increasingly, Chief Information Officers (CIOs) are leveraging MSP platforms internally to maintain, troubleshoot and automate their own IT systems. I was reminded of this fact by Dan Shapero, VP of marketing at Kaseya (check out his guest blogs here).

When I accepted an invitation to moderate a few sessions at Kaseya's annual user conference (June 1-3, Las Vegas), Dan reminded me that the audience will include VARs and corporate IT managers.

A similar theme popped up when I interviewed Nimsoft CEO Gary Read in early April. At the time, we were discussing a potential slowdown in the MSP market. Read said he hadn't seen a slowdown yet, but he also reminded me that MSPs represent only a portion of the company's revenue. A larger target market is corporate IT, where Nimsoft competes as an alternative to management platforms from BMC, CA, IBM-Tivoli and Hewlett-Packard.

Nimsoft just announced record Q1 2008 results, so it sounds like demand for Nimsoft's platform remains strong among corporate IT, VARs and MSPs.

New Momentum, Old Strategy

Pushing MSP-type systems into the corporate market isn't a new strategy. A few years ago, CA Inc. (formerly Computer Associates International Inc.) promoted a services platform called iCanSP. The platform allowed corporate IT to manage and host applications for individual business units. Also, corporate IT could measure how much service it was delivering to each business unit, and then charge the units accordingly.

CA's strategy ultimately failed -- but not because it was a bad idea. The company had a range of accounting, management and acquisition distractions earlier this decade.

Where CA failed with iCanSP, companies like Kaseya and Nimsoft -- and many more -- are now succeeding.

MSPs and Corporate IT: Working Together

Ultimately, I think we're heading to a hybrid model, where VARs and corporate IT managers together use MSP platforms to jointly manage corporate systems.

We're already beginning to see seamless hand-offs between corporate IT and their external integrator and service provider partners. Many managed services -- storage, security -- may actually start as in-sourced solutions that corporate IT oversees. But gradually, as corporate IT begins to focus on more strategic projects, they will hand off these services to external MSPs and VARs.

I don't expect it to be a complete hand-off, however. Both the MSP and corporate IT will be able to view the managed services dashboard, ensuring that information sharing remains rich and timely.

I will test that theory while interviewing MSPs and corporate IT managers at Kaseya's annual user conference in June. Let me know if you'll be there (reach me via email, joe [at] I'd welcome the opportunity to connect.
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