Where In the MSP World Is Mike Cullen?
Mike Cullen is in Ottawa. No, Orlando. Scratch that. Perhaps he's in Europe, Australia or South Africa today. Such is the life of Cullen, senior VP of sales at N-able Technologies — which develops remote monitoring and management (RMM) software for managed services providers (MSPs) worldwide. All that travel seems to be treating N-able well. Amid Cullen's international push, it sounds like a major N-able partner in South Africa has won a huge mobile device management (MDM) deal.
Cullen shared clues about that MDM engagement — involving thousands of nodes — during a sit-down with MSPmentor last week at IT Nation, the annual MSP and VAR conference hosted by ConnectWise. The MDM win — involving some details that have yet to be disclosed — is particularly impressive since N-able is essentially beta testing its management software for Google Android and Apple iOS tablets and smartphones.
But this is more than an MDM story. It's also about N-able getting its ducks in a row. While CEO Gavin Garbutt focuses on long-term strategy and Cullen zeros in on sales, COO and President JP Jauvin oversees business processes and day-to-day operations. Jauvin has been on the job for roughly two years — an addition that helped N-able to improve the quality of its software launches and overall execution.
One result: N-able's MSPs are scaling their businesses. The company now has roughly 45 “super elite” MSPs, each of which has at least 2,500 customer nodes under management, I believe. Among the major areas of growth: South Africa, where N-able now has about 70 to 80 partners, notes Cullen.
“When I look back on 2012 it has been a huge year for us in terms of international expansion,” said Cullen. “We're noticing a tremendous recovery in North America. Everyone is booming and short on staff. Everyone would be hiring if they could find the talent.”
Let's put those quotes in context: Within the MSP market, Cullen tends to be a balanced voice — avoiding empty hype but also steering clear of doom and gloom. Translation: His upbeat words suggest N-able and its partners truly are performing well, though it's tough to say for sure since the company does not disclose financial results.
Looking ahead, N-able expects to deliver deeper and deeper integration with ConnectWise and Autotask, while also making an MDM push. Cullen also recommends MSPs stick with the basics: Patch management, anti-virus and backup are three core offerings for many successful MSPs. The big point of differentiation going foward: Cullen is pushing N-able's own development team and MSPs to focus more and more on automation.
While some folks worry about basic MSP services becoming commoditized, Cullen offers this twist: “Monitoring is going to become more important; not less.”
The reasons, he says:
- “You can't be proactive if you're not monitoring”
- “If you're not monitoring you can't report”
- “You want to give transparency to customers”
During several points in our conversation, Cullen pulls back the curtain a bit more on N-able's long-term strategy. But like the road warrior he is, the curtain closes and the interview ends with Cullen heading off to his next meeting — on yet another continent.