The Next Managed Services Battleground: APIs
What’s next in managed services? The VAR Guy thinks he has found the answer: New tools that tie together multiple third-party MSP platforms. The net result could be a single “business intelligence” window that allows VARs to remotely monitor storage, security, bandwidth and other issues from a single PC. But achieving this nirvana won’t be easy.
Many managed service platform providers are touting their wares this week at the MSPAlliance conference in Orlando. There’s no doubt that platform providers like Autotask, Kaseya and N-able have momentum. But VARs face numerous challenges as they strive to become MSPs. As an executive from a major distribution company told The VAR Guy: “It’s a highly fragmented market filled with point solutions.”
Consider the following variables: Cisco Systems is developing more managed services tools to remotely monitor and troubleshoot firewalls. Symantec has announced a managed services platform that initially offers storage services but by year’s end will likely include security services. And hosted application providers like Salesforce.com and RightNow continue to reach out to VARs and integrators.
Now, the problem: The average VAR doesn’t have the time or expertise to piece all of these managed services platforms and hosted applications together. That’s where distributors come into the picture. The VAR Guy is betting that distributors will work closely with MSP platform providers to promote application programming interfaces (APIs) that tie everything together.
Still, big distributors like Ingram Micro and Tech Data apparently have different views on the MSP market. One distribution executive notes that Ingram has hitched its strategy to Autotask. That’s not a bad idaea. To Autotask’s credit, the company has been developing APIs and integrating its system with solutions from N-able and LPI Level Platforms, among others.
Tech Data, by contrast, appears to be keeping its options open. Rather than betting its MSP strategy on Autotask, there are clear indications that Tech Data will work with a growing list of platform providers. The distributor’s most recent partner is ConnectWise. But Tech Data won’t stop there. Listen closely for more announcements in the months ahead.
And be sure to watch the evolving world of APIs, which could deliver one dashboard for all managed services. All it will take is a little luck–and a whole lot of partnering between MSP platform providers and distributors.