IT Nation 2012, hosted by ConnectWise, will attract some familiar software, cloud and financing companies. You know the names across the RMM (remote monitoring and management) and BDR (backup and disaster recovery) markets. But take a closer look and you may spot the next generation of MSP-centric software providers at the conference (Nov. 8-10, Orlando). Here's a super-early preview.
Generally speaking, IT Nation attracts 1,500+ VARs, MSPs, IT service providers and technology companies. Most attendees have established monthly recurring revenue (MRR) business models. And many attendees are also HTG Peer Group members. (HTG is packed with MSP membership and coordinates its annual gathering with IT Nation.)
Check the IT Nation sponsor list and you'll find some "household" names from the MSP software market.
Some Emerging NamesStill, there are several software, cloud and financial services companies that seem new to the IT Nation conference. Could they spark new types of MSP innovation? Here's a sampling of new or emerging brands that MSPs may not yet know.
1. Anchor, which claims its service allows MSPs to build and price their own backup and file sync services. Reality check: The backup and disaster recovery (BDR) market is extremely crowded. Anchor sounds like it's preparing to launch its services within days. Perhaps IT Nation will be a coming out party for the company. I don't know how the company is funded.
2. ATS Procurement Direct offers managed service providers and IT consultants a single-source solution for the procurement of their IT Hardware and Software. ATSPD claims that it coordinates and oversees the entire procurement cycle from start to finish, from product quoting all the way through equipment delivery. Reality check: I wonder how the solution compares to VARStreet (which Autotask sold off last year) and various sales proposal and quoting tools from QuoteWerks, Quosal and others.
3. BrightGauge: Actually, MSPmentor has profiled this company before. An MSP spin-off, BrightGauge develops a cloud-based customer reporting system for MSPs. Reality check: Can customer reporting really win you more business? Early BrightGauge users say yes and I'd like to learn more.
4. ConnectSmart: Here's another MSP pushing into the software market. ConnectSMART mines data out of existing MSP tools, offering real-time analytics to users. Reality Check: ConnectSMART's platform apparently launched in 2007. This is year five. How is the business performing? We'll check at IT Nation.
5. Integral Solutions Group: The company sounds like a master MSP and cloud services provider (CSP) rolled into one. The company has a Tier IV Data and Business Continuity Center, 24x365 NOC, and SaaS applications like hosted email, SharePoint, backup and more. Reality Check: I don't know how many partners are in the company's channel program. I look forward to learning how Integral differentiates itself from other master MSPs and aspiring CSPs.
6. JoomConnect: Actually, I just traded email with CEO Chris Chase a few days ago. Here's the update. Reality Check: Chase wants to grow from 400 to 500 partners this year. We'll ask for a status update at IT Nation.
7. LevelCloud: Another example of an emerging master MSP and cloud services provider (CSP) that supports peer MSPs. LevelCloud works closely with OS33, and the company landed on our Top 100 Cloud Services Providers list, compiled and tracked by Talkin' Cloud. Reality Check: What's the early buzz from LevelCloud's partners? Answers at IT Nation.
8. Microtech-Tel: A hosted VoIP provider in Denver, Colo., Microtech-Tel wants MSPs to embrace the company's cloud services. Reality Check: Lots of companies want to own the market for hosted VoIP. So how will Microtech-Tel stand out?
9. qvWise: The company offers a business intelligence tool that allows ConnectWise users to analyse and report on their businesses. I believe qvWise is yet another example of an IT service provider that launched a software business. Reality Check: I don't have a feel for qvWise's customer base. But I'll pursue some background...
The IT Nation EvolvesWhile the IT Nation conference itself continues to grow, the MSP ecosystem continues to evolve as well.
- Some cloud companies use IT Nation and other MSP-centric conferences to test the market waters, only to exit the market after learning just how difficult it is to attract, train and retain MSPs.
- As RMM, PSA and BDR companies compete and cooperate, it's safe to expect some key faces in the crowd to change each year.