Anecdotal evidence suggests 2011 has been a strong year for Level Platforms. But can the MSP software provider continue that momentum in 2012 -- especially as competition between RMM (remote monitoring and management) software providers intensifies? I've gathered some clues from Level Platforms CEO Peter Sandiford.
After playing phone tag and email tag at IT Nation, Sandiford and I connected on the phone last week. Among the items I asked about:
- Level Platforms' expanded tagline: See All. Manage All. Service All.
- Venture capital and private equity: Will Level Platforms look to raise more money?
- The SMB market: Big enough opportunities for MSPs and software providers going forward?
The Story So FarGenerally speaking, I sense that Level Platforms hit some turbulence in 2009 and 2010 trying to fix software bugs and stabilize its platform, called Managed Workplace. The turning point came when Managed Workplace 2011 debuted in early 2011. Designed for both on-premise and the cloud, I think Managed Workplace 2011 rewarded patient Level Platforms partners -- and attracted new partners -- because the offering just worked.
Frequent MSPmentor readers know that I typically don't talk about a software platform's quality (or lack of quality) because I don't directly test or run the software myself. But Level Platforms' partner base has been very vocal about the software's overall quality.
That said, competition continues to intensify in the MSP software market. Whether you call it industry convergence, consolidation or expansion -- things are changing fast. Recent examples:
- GFI Software acquired Monitis for its systems monitoring software in October 2011.
- Kaseya acquired Intellipool, a network software monitoring company, in May 2011. More recently, Kaseya launched a network monitoring module.
- LabTech Software, funded nearly two years ago by ConnectWise Capital, continues to sign up roughly 100 MSPs per month.
- N-able Technologies raised an undisclosed amount of private equity in October 2011.
- SolarWinds confirmed an MSP push in October 2011.
- MSPmentor hears about a new mobile device management (MDM) company at least weekly, which may trigger a long-term showdown with RMM software providers.
- Zenith Infotech sold Zenith RMM to Summit Partners in September 2011.
Dollars and CentsIn recent weeks, some folks have asked me if Level Platforms is looking to raise money to accelerate its own growth. Based on my conversation with Sandiford, it sounds like he'd be open to raising money if the right opportunity came along -- but I didn't sense that he's out in the market looking for investment partners.
If I had to guess, Level Platforms has a stronger cash position now than at this point in November 2010, when Managed Workplace 2011 was still under development.
Meanwhile, Level Platforms remains focused like a laser on its core market -- MSP software in the SMB market. And Level Platforms continues to sign up roughly 50 MSPs or more per month. On the international front, some folks seem to be overlooking Level Platforms' relationship with Tokyo-based Hitachi Electronics Services Co. The relationship allows Level Platforms to work more closely with service providers in Japan, Sandiford asserts. More recently, Level Platforms launched a certification program for its MSP partners -- a move that's somewhat similar to a similar effort Kaseya announced for its MSPs earlier this year.
I'd also watch for Level Platforms to increasingly focus on Mobile Device Management sometime in 2012. And Sandiford remains upbeat about Level Platforms' focus on cloud management -- though many MSPs are still trying to figure out which third-party cloud services, if any, to monitor for end-customers.
Bottom line: The more the MSP market changes, the more Sandiford sticks to Level Platforms' mission -- helping MSPs to see all, manage all and service all in the SMB market. Generally speaking, it's safe to say that strategy yielded strong results and partner loyalty in 2011. I wonder if Level Platforms can deliver another upside surprise in 2012.