Continuum Managed Services has fought this fight before – and won, CEO Michael George told MSPmentor.
When the MSP toolset vendor entered the market six years ago with an IT management platform and the first integrated network operations center (NOC), some of its biggest competitors followed suit – or at least they tried.
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One by one, rival companies introduced their NOC initiatives to great fanfare, George recounted this week during a side discussion at the company’s Navigate annual user conference.
And one by one, he said, the competitors have found themselves unable to make customers happy enough to topple Continuum from atop the NOC vendor pecking order.
That’s why he isn’t too concerned about competitors seeking to follow suit in the wake of this week’s announcement by Continuum that it intends to become a full-service security as a service vendor to MSPs, complete with a 24/7 security operations center (SOC).
“Our competitors, each one of them has tried over the years to replicate the NOC,” George said. “That has proven to be difficult enough, in and of itself.”
“You know how they say imitation is the best form of flattery?” he went on. “The fact that these companies are embarking on something as difficult as that is flattering.”
Still, George said, he understands why they do it.
“I think it’s a clever defense mechanism and marketing message to say ‘we have one too,’” he said.
“Vertical integration” is a term you hear a lot in the Continuum orbit, and it’s at the heart of what has made the company a leader in NOC support for IT services providers.
Continuum’s IT management and NOC offerings were designed as natively integrated components.
That’s in contrast to competitors, who outsource the NOC piece or otherwise try to join disparate technologies into an efficient system.
“When you do that, it’s fraught with all kinds of fail points,” George explained. “Tickets get dropped. Tickets get sent to the wrong person. There isn’t somebody to send it to.”
And when something goes wrong and a customer contacts the RMM vendor, more than a few customer IT service providers have been subject to the passing of the buck.
“They say ‘hey, that’s the NOC,’” George said.
At Continuum, alerts and tickets move seamlessly through a unified system.
“There’s no Tier 1, there’s no handoff,” he said. “We own it all the way until resolution. And the platform that we’re using is the same for alerting; it’s the same for the NOC.”
It’s that depth of operational efficiency that Continuum is promising to partners who sign up for the new security offering.
Where once RMM and backup and disaster recovery (BDR) were the innovative tools that helped differentiate early adopting IT services providers, today that differentiator is security, George said.
“RMM is really just one part – an important part – of the IT service waterfront,” he said. “It’s really RMM, security and BDR. We are the only company that has all three pillars to that platform.
“We don’t see them as disparate siloed offerings.”
Maintaining that tight integration is why Continuum has no plans to get into the PSA business.
“We think it’s an important part of the technologies that MSPs use to run their businesses," he said. “We’ve made a conscious decision to stay focused on efforts that help generate revenue.”
Besides, George is skeptical of efforts by technology companies who try to master the market for front end and back end systems, going as far as to say he doesn’t know of anyone who has “done a good job” of marrying the two.
“I don’t think ConnectWise is going to break that barrier either,” he said pointedly.
George announced the new security offerings during his Day 2 keynote on Tuesday at the Navigate conference.
About a third of attendees had already signed up for an early access period by the end of that day.
“People were signing up sitting in the room, the moment we made it available,” he said.
Given the obvious and growing importance of security to the role of IT services providers, the enthusiasm for such a line of products should come as no surprise, George said.
“It creates the best annuity business that this market has ever seen,” the CEO said.
The need for ongoing education and training of customers’ new and existing employees provides MSPs with an unprecedented ability to build relationships in every corner of client organizations.
“You can’t go out and train them and say I’m done,” George said. “In terms of trying to be a trusted advisor, this is the fist time that MSPs will be able to be in front of all of a client’s employees.
“This is going to be a breakthrough opportunity.”
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