Seven Managed Services Blogs MSPmentor Didn't Write: Oct. 22

Seven Managed Services Blogs MSPmentor Didn't Write: Oct. 22

After a one-week hiatus, MSPmentor's most-read weekly entry is back. And I promise: This entry is worth reading -- especially for those who are good at reading between the lines in the managed services market. So here we go: The seven managed services blog entries we didn't have time to write for the week ending October 22, 2010.

7. The Countdown Begins: A few hundred MSPs were on the road this week at multiple conferences. But most industry eyes will soon turn to ConnectWise IT Nation (formerly ConnectWise Partner Summit), which runs Nov. 4-6 in Orlando, Fla. More than 1,000 MSPs are expected to attend. My best guess: CEO Arnie Bellini will talk quite a bit about the modern SMB Office -- what stays, what goes, and which IT services will deliver MSP profits for years to come...

6. Attracting Interest?: Plenty of MSPs are interested gloStream, which develops electronic medical records software. But in recent weeks, a few readers have told me gloStream may be attracting even bigger interest from strategic partners. Can't go into details yet. Still digging...

5. Merger and Acquisition Talk: There was healthy MSP chatter at this week's SMB Nation conference in Las Vegas. I moderated an MSP panel featuring Josh Peterson (Taylor Business Group), David Schafran (Cogent Growth Partners and Transformation Strategies) and George Siergio (Action Business Partners). Peterson specializes in business-centric peer groups, Schafran works with buy-side MSPs that are looking to make acquistions, and Siergio is a coach who helps entrepreneurs build their businesses.

Most of the panel chatter involved the usual hot topics: Sales models, pricing strategies and exit strategies. And on the exit strategy front, I keep hearing from MSPs that are simply looking to acquire a VAR's customer list rather than any strategic knowledge. Also, plenty of people asked about MSP valuations. The panel agreed that beauty -- and valuation -- are in the eye of the beholder. But here's MSPmentor's recent spin on valuations.

During a separate chat, CoreConnex President and CEO Frank Coker predicted that the MSP feeding frenzy will accelerate dramatically in the months ahead.

4. Two Shameless Plugs: Don't forget...

  • The fourth-annual MSPmentor 100 survey runs through December 17, 2010. Using the survey results, MSPmentor will identify and profile the world's top 100 managed services providers in early 2011.
  • The VAR Guy's Channel Finance 25 survey also runs through December 17, 2010. Channel financing organizations are invited to participate. Based on the survey results, The VAR Guy will identify key sources of funding, leasing, loans and other financial pipelines for VARs and MSPs.
3. Dialing Open Source: At this week's N-able Partner Summit and SMB Nation conferences, several MSPs mentioned to me that they're taking a second look at the voice over IP market, deploying IP phones on customers desktops and partnering up with hosted VoIP providers. And here's another twist: Several MSPs mentioned to me that they're also leveraging Digium Asterisk, the open source IP PBX.

2. Here Come the Giants: Microsoft, Google, Rackspace, Avnet and CA Technologies all sent key channel leaders to the N-able Partner Summit. Each of the companies talked recurring revenues with MSPs. And there are signs that Rackspace Global Channel Chief Robert Fuller is preparing to more closely engage MSPs (stay tuned...). Also, most of the Microsoft chatter this week involved Office 365 (the forthcoming successor to BPOS). But Microsoft executives at both N-able Partner Summit and SMB Nation also talked up Windows Intune as a key play for MSPs.

2. Move Up to the Application Layer: At N-able Partner Summit, both CA Technologies and Google described why small MSPs are going to need to get out of basic infrastructure and gain some application-centric expertise. Jeff Ragusa, SMB channel lead for Google Apps, told attendees to have some scripting expertise in-house, so that MSPs can weave together or make customer tweaks to SaaS applications. Ragusa also said that he didn't want to make MSPs nervous; he wasn't suggesting that MSPs need full-blown application development teams.

1. Free Offers Coming: What if major managed services software companies got together and introduced free offers of each others' products?
"Buy remote management software from Acme Company, and get a free time-limited version of business management software from Beta Company."
Yes, the free software would be fully functional but perhaps limited to two or three users and the license would expire after a set date (say, 3 or 6 months). I think roughly six to eight well-known names in the managed services software market are considering such moves... but we're still working to confirm the facts (as usual...).

That's all for now. Thanks for reading. And thanks to those who gave me a lift in recent weeks. We live in amazing times. Enjoy them.

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