While the managed services market continues to converge with SaaS (software as a service) and cloud computing, I'm increasingly hearing from readers who have a far more basic request: They want all of their managed services platforms to support the three major browsers: Microsoft Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox and Apple Safari -- with Google Chrome also popping up on some request lists.
Even Microsoft concedes that the world has pushed beyond Internet Explorer. A case in point: When Microsoft's Office 2010 ships, the suite's online/SaaS version (known as Office Web) will support Internet Explorer, Firefox and Safari.
Microsoft's SaaS team knows the software giant can't afford to ignore third-party browsers -- especially as those browsers pop up on Netbooks, smart phones and other emerging form factors.
Now, let's apply that example to the MSP market. I was attending a Level Platforms partner gathering at CompTIA Breakaway in Las Vegas. Level Platforms CEO Peter Sandiford was sharing his vision for SaaS and cloud integration with managed services. Level has been vocal about its strategy to help MSPs manage emerging SaaS platforms like Microsoft's Business Productivity Online Suite (BPOS), which includes SharePoint Online, Exchange Online, etc.
Near-Term RequirementsNo doubt, MSPs need to sort out their big-picture SaaS and cloud strategies. But first, they're asking for something far more basic -- cross-platform browser support, especially from Autotask and ConnectWise, two of key names in Professional Services Automation (PSA) software.
ConnectWise has vowed to push beyond Internet Explorer to support Firefox in late 2009. (Check out Comment #6 from CEO Arnie Bellini in this blog entry.)
Tweeting On the TopicAutotask also is marching toward Firefox.
During last night's Level Platforms gathering, an MSPmentor reader Tweeted me an asked for an update on Autotsak Firefox support. By pure coincidence, I was standing next to Autotask CEO Bob Godgart at the time.
So, I put the question to Godgart. His reply: Autotask Client Portal, Taskfire and Subcontractor Portal support Firefox today.
And watch for more Autotask progress in September 2009. I am not suggesting that Autotask's PSA platform will fully guarantee support for Firefox at that time. But based on my conversation with Godgart, it sounds like you'll be able to use Firefox to access Autotask around that time.
Ultimately, Firefox support remains a work in progress for some MSP software providers. But at least there's progress.
At a time when even Microsoft intends to support third-party browsers, MSP software providers must do tbhe same.
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