HostingCon: 7 Trends for Managed Services Providers

When HostingCon starts July 19 in Austin, Texas, I'll be a first-time attendee. But even before HostingCon starts, I'm hearing buzz from managed services providers (MSPs) and managed hosting providers. Here are seven MSP-oriented trends that I expect to surface at the conference.

1. Big Educates Small: Keep an eye on Parallels, which develops software that allows VARs, MSPs and hosting firms to rapidly deploy SaaS applications. Back in February at the Parallels Summit, CEO Serguei Beloussov used his keynote to tell partners how to compete against Amazon, Apple, Google and Microsoft. Tech Data already leverages Parallels for a SaaS project in Europe and I hear Ingram Micro has its eye on Parallels as well.

Now here's the twist: It sounds like Parallels is about to take some steps to help small business customers as well. I expect to hear more at the conference.

2. Hosted Exchange (But Not From Microsoft): Even as Microsoft expands BPOS (Business Productivity Online Suite, which includes Exchange Online), many hosting providers are gaining critical mass with their own Hosted Exchange offerings.

One prime example is Verio, which is one of the first companies to offer Hosted Exchange 2010. (First-to-market was Intermedia, I hear.)

Speaking of Intermedia, take a look behind the curtains and you'll find that they're powering many Hosted Exchange efforts -- including Hosted Exchange solutions from Dell and perhaps even Computer Sciences Corp., MSPmentor has heard.

I'll be checking in with Verio and Intermedia at HostingCon, to get their latest SaaS advice for VARs and MSPs.

3. Let's Makes A Deal: We've written quite a bit about NaviSite, which provides enterprise hosting and application management services to end-customers. William Toll heads up strategic alliances for NaviSite, and I hear he'll be at HostingCon. Makes me wonder: Is Toll ready to pull the trigger on some new partnerships or relationships? I'll be sure to ask him.

4. Yet Another Linux: I spend plenty of time writing about Red Hat Enterprise Linux, Novell SUSE Linux, Canonical Ubuntu Linux and Google's emerging Chrome OS. Does the world really, really need another Linux?

Before you answer, check in with CloudLinux. Here's a link that explains why CloudLinux is unique. Plus, I'm starting to hear from managed hosting providers that are putting CloudLinux in their data centers. Pretty impressive, considering CloudLinux's youth. I expect to hear more about the company at HostingCon.

5. The Planet, Rackspace and Beyond: The Planet, the large hosting provider, has been promoting a Platform as a Service to channel partners. And the company's current managed hosting efforts have showed good momentum. But I wonder how The Planet's strategy compares to Rackspace Cloud.

I intend to find answers at HostingCon.

6. Another Name Worth Knowing: Alert Logic has gained momentum as a cloud security vendor serving a range of hosting providers. We exlplained Alert Logic’s value proposition in this blog post. And by May 2010, Alert Logic had promoted Randy Rosenbaum from product marketing manager to the channel chief post.

How will Rosenbaum evolve Alert Logic's partner program? And what managed security trends can MSPs cull from Alert Logic? We'll get the answers.

7. Open Source Email vs. Exchange: MSPs need to remember that Hosted Exchange isn't the only game in town. Plenty of VARs, MSPs and hosting providers instead leverage Zimbra, an open source email platform that VMware acquired in early 2010. Now, Zimbra and VMware are preparing software appliances that combine VMware and Zimbra.

Zimbra Channel Chief Andy Pflaum is expected to attend HostingCon, and I plan to ask him how the Zimbra channel program has performed since VMware acquired the company. About a year ago, Pflaum sat for this FastChat video interview to describe the Zimbra partner program:


Converging or Competing?

Ultimately, I'm seeing to understand whether Hosting Providers and MSPs see their businesses converging, cooperating or competing? I expect to hear plenty of opinions at HostingCon.

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