ConnectWise IT Nation: 10 Pieces of Early Chatter

ConnectWise IT Nation: 10 Pieces of Early Chatter

The ConnectWise IT Nation conference kicks off November 9, but most attendees are already on hand for numerous pre-conference sessions. So what's the managed services chatter so far? Here are 10 conversations, trends, and news tips worth tracking.

1. No (New) Hardware Required: CharTec has launched a software version of its BDR (backup and disaster recovery) appliance. It apparently leverages existing customer or MSP hardware. Without mentioning rivals by name, it sounds like CharTec will position the software as a way for Zenith Infotech partners to potentially migrate to CharTec's BDR solutions without swapping out on-premise hardware. eFolder introduced a similar migration strategy in October.

2. Heard Elsewhere: Former LANDesk Regional Director Jon Gibbs has joined CentraStage, and will lead CentraStage's US expansion. CentraStage is a remote monitoring platform that got its start in Europe.

3. Plugging In: OS33, which develops an IT as a service platform for MSPs, is previewing its ConnectWise integration at IT Nation. The move is intriguing because a growing list of MSPs and data center providers are leveraging OS33 for a range of services, including alternatives to traditional VDI (virtual desktop infrastructure). Separately, Symform says it has integrated its cloud storage solution with ConnectWise.

4. Worth Noting: Symantec is on hand for the first time at IT Nation. Separately, Channel Chief Randy Cochran has been dropping hints about his managed services focus in a Symantec blog. Stay... tuned...

5. You're Hired: Zenith RMM has named Dee Zepf VP of product management and technical services. Zepf is a veteran of, IBM, Bowstreet, Idealab and Lotus. She joins Zenith RMM at a turbulent time, as they company strives to maintain relations with Zenith Infotech while distancing itself from Zenith Infotech's recent bond default.

6. Sales Proposals... and More: QuoteWerks 4.7, an upgraded sales quoting tool for MSPs and VARs, debuted today at the show. Roughly 25 percent of ConnectWise partners already run QuoteWerks to help with sales proposals, QuoteWerks claims. I'll swing by the booth for more info. Meanwhile, Quosal has integrated its sales quoting and proposal software with Cisco's QPT (Quick Pricing Tool). I'll be catching up with Quosal CEO Kent McNall during a panel session at the conference.

7. New Company, Crowded Market?: PointClickWork apparently is launching at IT Nation. The company claims it will offer MSPs cloud solutions that span infrastructure, software licensing, and delivery.  The team includes IT solutions providers who have been in the market for 20 years. Also, PointClickWork says it will help MSPs to brand, market, and effectively convert their clients to a cloud-based model without the headaches of the traditional desktop (or hosted desktop) architecture.

Intriguing... but portions of that sales pitch are starting to sound familiar. ChannelCloud, also launched by MSP veterans, has been helping channel partners get into the cloud for a year or two now. And LevelCloud -- also launched by MSP veterans -- is leveraging OS33 and seeking to make some noise at IT Nation.

8. Printing Money?: Tim O'Brien, director of managed print services for Oki Data Americas, will be talking up recurring revenue opportunities for VARs and MSPs. Yes, I believe in the managed print services market. But I'm also a realist: Fewer than 20 percent of the world's top MSPs offer managed print services. The data has been consistent for the past four years, based on our annual MSPmentor 100 survey. It's up to O'Brien, Oki Data and other printer makers to convince MSPs that managed print is worth the effort.

9. Half A Solution: Cloud computing -- particularly cloud storage -- will generate lots of noise at the conference. But don't ignore the other huge trend: Mobility, and in particular... Mobile Device Management. MSPs have to re-work their pricing, onboarding and support practices to reflect modern IT environments that include Google Android, Apple iOS, tablets and smart phones.

10. Beyond the Modern Office: ConnectWise CEO Arnie Bellini described his modern office vision at least year's event. It basically helped MSPs to understand (A) which IT services would remain on-premise, (B) which IT services would shift to the cloud and (C) how to monetize both realities. Bellini's told MSPs to build in-house help desks to maintain close customer engagements, and to focus on vendor management to help customers navigate multiple engagements.

Another key theme for Bellini: Defending the last mile of IT, as big cloud services providers attempt to potentially sell direct to customers. It's safe to expect Bellini to build on those themes this year... with some surprise twists mixed in.

That's all for now. We'll offer regular updates from IT Nation the rest of this week.

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