CentraStage Cloud Prepares Free Managed Services Surprise

CentraStage, which develops cloud-based remote monitoring software, is preparing August and September surprises for its managed services partners -- including some sort of freemium offer for MSPs. The big question: Can CentraStage -- based in Europe -- somehow disrupt the remote monitoring and management (RMM) software market in North America? Here's an update.

In August, CentraStage expects to complete an integration with Autotask, the PSA (professional services automation) software provider. At the same time, CentraStage is promoting a fixed price -- $1.50 per device per month -- to potentially attract aspiring and established MSPs away from other RMM platforms. The per-device, per-month cost has no minimum contracts or commitments. "You pay for what you use," said CentraStage CEO Christian Nagele.

Meanwhile, CentraStage is preparing some sort of freemium software strategy, which should debut in September. A recent blog post from CTO Ian van Reenen mentioned the following:

"Within the next month or so we are going to give away some of our best technology for free. Loads of it – in fact as much as you can eat. You’ll have to wait for the launch for all the details but I can tell you that our lead agent developer Kevin @deapsquatter is not entirely pleased. Thousands of hours of R&D, millions of lines of code, two cars and one baby later, and now we are going to give it away."
Admittedly, freemium announcements can be publicity stunts. But some freemium strategies have also gained critical mass in the software market -- particularly in the open source sector, where customers frequently pay annual support fees for Linux distributions.

Freemium strategies have also popped up in the managed services market. Two prime examples: N-able spent portions of 2010 pushing a freemium strategy to help MSPs more easily deploy monitoring, security and storage solutions. More recently, Synnex has partnered with Level Platforms, Intronis and Reflexion Networks on a s0-called million-node freemium effort. I'm not sure if either effort gained critical mass, though I do know that N-able generated significant growth in 2010, and Synnex's latest managed services push is only a few months old.

Looking ahead, MSPmentor will be sure to track exactly CentraStage rolls out its freemium strategy, which is expected to debut in September 2011.
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