ConnectWise IT Nation 2011 Conference Comes Into Focus

ConnectWise IT Nation 2011 Conference Comes Into Focus

ConnectWise continues to piece together the IT Nation conference agenda (Nov. 9-11, Orlando, Fla.). The channel-centric conference is expected to attract roughly 1,500 to 2,000 attendees -- mostly VARs, MSPs and IT service providers. So, what's on tap for IT Nation 2011? Boot camps. Lots of them -- from third-party software companies, cloud companies and business consultants. Here's a look at what to expect.

So far it sounds like the boot camp lineup will include ConnectWise and such companies as:

  • ChannelCloud: Led by Chairman and CEO Kent Erickson, some of my favorite conversations about the cloud's impact on the channel over the past year have involved Erickson. He's worked closely with MSP University and Robin Robins this year to help educate VARs and MSPs about cloud computing. I'm curious to see how Erickson's vision differs from that of big cloud partner programs from Rackspace and emerging platforms like Ingram Micro Cloud.
  • CharTec: The hardware as a service (HaaS) and BDR (backup and disaster recovery) specialist. CharTec, which received a ConnectWise Capital investment last year, has been working closely with Doyenz -- the cloud BDR specialist -- in recent months.
  • LabTech's Automation Nation: Another ConnectWise Capital investment, LabTech is adding about 120 partners per month, according to CEO Matt Nachtrab. The company seemingly came out of nowhere in the RMM (remote monitoring and management) market. Currently an on-premise solution, I'm curious to learn how LabTech will help partners scale in 2012.
  • Level Platforms' Next Level Summit: Level Platforms seemed to get its second wind earlier this year with the launch of Managed Workplace 2011. CEO Peter Sandiford and I tried to connect at the recent Microsoft Worldwide Partner Summit in Los Angeles. But deadlines dragged me in another direction. On the business front, I'll be checking to see how the Level Platforms-Synnex relationship is working out.
  • OKI Data: Three words -- managed print services. Got it?
  • Quosal: Another ConnectWise Capital investment, Quosal is a sales quoting tool that strives to help VARs and MSPs win more business more rapidly. Quosal has an on-premise version but I'm curious to know how the cloud version -- which runs on Microsoft Windows Azure -- is performing.
  • QuoteWerks: A head-on rival against Quosal, it will be interesting to see how QuoteWerks describes its business strategy going forward. The company gave me a few clues during the recent Autotask Community Live conference. I'll see if those clues become reality at IT Nation...
  • Service Leadership Inc: I like hanging out with people who are smarter than me. Service Leadership CEO Paul Dippell is one of those people. He helps to track and measure the profitability of MSPs, VARs and IT service providers across the industry. And each time I meet Dippell I learn something new...
  • Note: I culled the list above from multiple sources. If I overlooked any companies don't flame me. Instead, just post a comment or email me (joe [at] NineLivesMediaInc [dot] com).
I'd also expect a strong showing at IT Nation from TruMethods members and HTG Peer Group members, among other channel-centric coaching and peer group organizations. Roughly 850 people have registered so far, according to Jeannine Edwards, director of ConnectWise Community.

Competition in the Halls

Meanwhile, there's a separate theme worth watching. On the one hand, ConnectWise Capital has spent the last 18 months or so investing in LabTech, CharTec and Quosal. But on the other hand, IT Nation remains open to rivals like Level Platforms and QuoteWerks. And additional RMM software companies like Kaseya, N-able and Zenith Infotech appear confirmed to sponsor and attend the conference.

At times I'm sure there's competitive friction (how's that for a diplomatic description...) between ConnectWise-LabTech and the rest of the RMM industry. But it's good to see a broader channel dialog set to take place at IT Nation.

What Will Arnie Say?

It's a bit early to predict what ConnectWise CEO Arnie Bellini will tell IT Nation attendees. In recent years, his keynotes have increasingly shifted from PSA-centric to macro-focused issues (how VARs and MSPs can continue to thrive and grow).

But there's a lot of time between now and the IT Nation event. First up: CompTIA Breakaway (Aug. 1-4, Washington, D.C.). See you on the road.
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