MSPmentor 250: Brotherton Looks Back & Ahead At ConnectWise
When the IT Nation conference kicks off Nov. 9 in Orlando, dozens of MSPmentor 250 members — managed services experts, entrepreneurs and executives — will be on hand. Among the folks we hope to meet: ConnectWise CTO Linda Brotherton (pictured). MSPmentor recently spoke with Brotherton to gain some high-level thoughts about ConnectWise’s software development strategy. Now, we’re curious to know what’s on tap for 2012.
Brotherton has led ConnectWise’s software development efforts ever since ConnectWise pushed beyond its IT services heritage in Tampa, Fla., to promote PSA (professional services automation) software. ConnectWise, the software, first gained critical mass as an on-premise solution. But ironically, ConnectWise originally was designed as a hosted solution during the ASP (application service provider) wave, which collapsed during the dot-com implosion.
“People weren’t ready for hosted environments,” Brotherton said, while recalling ConnectWise’s early years. “To let someone else control your infrastructure is a tough thing to do. The Internet was such a big unknown at the time. But once it became part of people’s daily life, it was easier for companies to buy into the idea of hosted environments. Another reason hosted environments started to catch on was because security got better. People have gotten to the point where they feel secure.”
Brotherton leads ConnectWise’s development team, which involves roughly 40 people. She also leads the company’s API strategy, which allows partners to plug their software and related solutions into the ConnectWise platform. The API strategy has become an industry arms race of sorts. Each of the major PSA software providers — ConnectWise, Autotask and Tigerpaw — promotes API integration efforts to partners.
Looking ahead, Brotherton expects MSPs to thrive as business consultants as cloud computing catches on. “MSPs have always provided some sort of consultant role,” she said. “The [cloud] demand will be there from the customer base, and if the MSP can’t provide the answer, they’ll look elsewhere. I think as a group MSPs will morph into whatever they need to be. You have to stay current.”
Generally speaking, ConnectWise now updates its software on a quarterly basis with dot-release upgrades (2011.1, 2011.2, 2011.3, etc.). At the IT Nation conference, it’s a safe bet ConnectWise CEO Arnie Bellini will offer an update on its API and 2012 software strategy. But MSPmentor will also reach out to Brotherton for her two cents on those efforts.
Additional insights from Joe Panettieri.