Level Platforms VP Dan Wensley: The Exit InterviewLevel Platforms VP Dan Wensley: The Exit Interview
As AVG buys Level Platforms, long-time Level Platforms VP Dan Wensley will exit the company. In an MSPmentor interview, Wensley reflects on managed services provider (MSP) industry milestones... while also revealing his next move.
June 14, 2013
As AVG buys Level Platforms, long-time Level Platforms VP Dan Wensley will exit the company. One of the MSP industry’s best-known executives, Wensley has been an educator, sales leader and community builder. In an exclusive MSPmentor interview, Wensley looks back on managed services industry milestones. He describes what’s ahead for MSPs. And he offers clues about his own next move.
MSPmentor: Looking back on your career at Level, what were the MSP industry highlights — the milestones, the game changers?
Wensley: The entire journey has been the game change and the milestone. This has been a complete industry evolution. The entire market’s birth and growth has been the amazing thing to witness — from the MSP benefits to the end-user benefits. In terms of Level Platforms itself, I remember the day we became a branded company. I remember the day the industry accepted PSAs and RMMs as the key platforms for managed services. I remember the day managed services could be mentioned without having to offer a definition anymore.
MSPmentor: Refresh my memory: What did you do before Level Platforms? How did you connect with the company?
Wensley: I was with a Linux-based company called Net Integration, which IBM ultimately acquired. I was in channel development. It was during the Linux hype-cycle from around 2003 to 2005. It was all about managed services and we didn’t know it at the time. The focus was automation using Linux. That’s what got me intrigued — plus I saw N-able, Kaseya and Silverback (ultimately acquired by Dell) out there. I also watched the market go from reseller to VAR to solution provider and speculated that MSP was the next evolution.
MSPmentor: So how did you first connect with Level Platforms CEO Peter Sandiford?
Wensley: I met Peter after Net Integration; I was doing a managed print consulting gig for Lexmark in 2005. Peter was interviewing one of my ex-employees. He called me for a reference check and we spent almost two hours on the phone. I knew the [MSP software] competitors better [than I knew Level}, but I thought Level had the platform and the vision. Peter’s statement to me at the time stuck in my head. He said the integration and relationships across the vendor community will be as important as the integration and relationships with customers. That was on target and 7.5 years later that’s still the reality.
MSPmentor: Has the MSP market evolved as you originally expected?
Wensley: Yes, and I mostly attribute that to Peter’s vision. No question we took some left turns along the way. But there’s also no question that adopting RMM and PSA has shown value to the solution provider and to the end user. That remains a fact today.
MSPmentor: What is the single greatest moment so far in the MSP market that you either experienced or witnessed?
Wensley: It was witnessing the innovation of the early adopter MSPs. Also, the day MSP Partners took off was a big moment. When the industry and the vendor community came together to educate the market on managed services with MSP Partners, I think that was a phenomenal validation. I remember Kaseya and Dan Shapero saying “yes, we’re competitors, but we see the value” in MSP Partners.
Note from MSPmentor: MSP Partners was a vendor-led consortium to drive managed services awareness, adoption and market growth. Level Platforms provided the springboard for its launch. CompTIA has since acquired the organization. Also, Dan Shapero has since moved on to launch ClikCloud.
MSPmentor: Any regrets along the way?
Wensley: Innovation and change come at a cost. I regret the pain that LPI went through from time to time with technology. And the pain those innovative partners had as they rolled out new service delivery modules. But the greatest moments involved overcoming those bumps in the road. The MSPs have thrived. One of my other regrets is not to be continuing on [with Level Platforms].
MSPmentor: Which people have been most influential to your career in the MSP market?
Wensley: There are dozens and dozens of people and I’d hate to leave someone out. First, I’ll start with Peter [Sandiford]. He put the keys to the store in my hands. I will never neglect to thank him. Then there are the partners — they helped to scope our product, branding and messaging. And the vendors; there are so many colleagues who drove this industry evolution. I met so many people at a partnership level and have had dozens of vendor partners as mentors. Last but not least is our staff. Most are with us over five years. These guys have been outstanding.
MSPmentor: Five years from now, what do MSPs look like?
Wensley: I think we’ll almost have it perfected it. Automation will continue to drive the innovation. Autonomic computing has been talked about for years. It’s coming. Whether it’s cloud, mobility or infrastructure, we’ll continue to innovate. The MSP will be better. The end-user will be better off because of it.
MSPmentor: Have you considered what’s next for you?
Wensley: First and foremost, I plan to stay involved. I’m on the CompTIA board and I will be at ChannelCon. Also, while at Level, Peter afforded me the opportunity to focus on my own [outside company]. It’s called Plan27 (editor’s note: The site will be launched soon.) It involves helping companies build their sales processes and leads to generate growth. I’ve worked with companies over the past year on lead generation and sales process development. Being in the channel is where my heart and soul is. I plan to be back — after the summer, which I’ll spend with a beer in my hand. People can reach me at [email protected].
MSPmentor: This isn’t a question. It’s a statement… An open letter:
Back in September 2007, Amy Katz and I showed you the MSPmentor beta site. You told us to go for it. You said there was a market waiting for MSPmentor. We had the full site ready to go by January 2008. And you backed your belief in us by ensuring MSPmentor worked with MSP Partners.
Over the years, we’ve written about Level Platforms and its rivals. Sometimes we praised vendors. Other times we raised questions or “stirred the pot.” Our coverage wasn’t always glowing. There were the TMZ moments (which I rather enjoyed). But you always took the time to tell us more. To communicate. To evangelize the market. To educate.
In my own market, the IT media industry has been a train wreck of sorts the past decade. But Nine Lives Media has continued to grow and evolve, thanks to people like you. See you at ChannelCon. Enjoy the summer. And thanks.
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