RMM Suppliers Session Heats Up the Thunderdome
CHANNEL PARTNERS EVOLUTION — It was the inquisitors versus the suppliers at the Channel Partners Evolution Thunderdome RMM supplier, head-to-head matchup. The goal — to call out the B.S.
The inquisitors — Rick Beckers, president of CloudTech1, Phillip Poarch, vice president of Tolar Systems Inc., and, Guy Baroan, president of Baroan Technologies — challenged the suppliers with questions about business revenue models, equity, being chased by newcomers, integration issues and staying current.
The discussion, heated at times, never flared out of control. There was a good amount of comradery among the suppliers — Jim Lippie, general manager of cloud computing at Kaseya, Rob Rae, vice president business development at Datto, and Brian Troy, director of product management at ConnectWise. Bryan Reynolds, director, post sales for TBI was tmoderator.
Baroan presented the suppliers with a multipart inquiry about acquisitions, commitment to partners and customers not interested in switching to those products and whether they’ll close the door on integration between products.
Rae admitted it’s a question he hears every day and said he’s committed to do what’s best for MSPs and the channel. “It’s not about ‘use all of my stuff or none of my stuff,’” he said. Sure, he’d like 100 percent of a customer’s business but admitted that Datto won’t shut off customers. “We will play together — the decision is up to you.”
Lippie also said that his company is committed to partnering with shops that don’t buy every product from Kaseya. “That’s part of what we’re talking about when we talk about an open ecosystem. Of course, we want all your business but, for example, we share partners with ConnectWise and we’re not going to shut that off,” he said.
With that, Lippie also noted that Kaseya is integrating its stacks and has more money than ever before. As a company owned by private equity, Kaseya has an advantage when it comes to making acquisitions but also keeping them open.
Datto was acquired by Vista Equity Partners and merged with Autotask in 2017. Kaseya has a list of acquisitions such as Unitrends, RadidFire Tools and Spanning Cloud Apps, to name a few.
Troy pointed out that ConnectWise is always reaching out to other vendors, including those on the Thunderdome stage. “We’re all about choice,” he said. And he defended being a private company able to make acquisitions that others — his competitors with private equity funding — may not be able to.
“Regarding private equity, we purchased HTG, an acquisition that private equity may not have done. That’s the DNA of our company,” he said.
Both Rae and Lippie jumped on Troy’s comment about private equity, insisting that private equity gives them a lot of resources without the shackles.
“Being our own bank, with cash in the bank, we invest in a long-term strategy,” Lippie noted. “We get inquiries about being acquired all the time. For now, however, our success is operating as a privately-owned company.
Panelists agreed that managed services and MSPs are on the cusp of bigger business opportunities. They all said admitted to being aware of the guy who’s in the garage building a company and product and of having a bull’s-eye on their backs.
Rae noted this his company is able to stay ahead via acquisitions. However, if the company doesn’t stay ahead of the curve ball with products — his company’s and others’ — they will soon be be viewed as antiquated; that’s just the pace of the industry.
Addressing the issue of onboarding and support, each vendor lamented the fact that most MSPs take only take advantage of 20 to 40 percent of a product’s functionality, leaving a lot on the table.
These vendor’s onboarding process attempts to overcome this issue from the moment a MSP joins them. “We have a professional service team that takes over and puts together a plan with the partner before the technology is turned up,” Lippie said. Then there’s education and certifications, and ongoing support services.
Troy noted that the more time that MSPs invest in learning new tools, the better. “There are different flavors of implementation and it’s important to a partner’s success.” And then, there’s ConnectWise University for training and education.
Rae talked about Datto’s white-glove installation, 24/7 support, MDF and partner events.
The suppliers also talked about pricing models, such as month-to-month or contract. From their responses it was clear that multiple approaches to pricing are offered as the industry transitions.
For example, Kaseya doesn’t do month-to-month contracts. “We believe you should be signing your customers for a year,” said Lippie.
Customer demand for more monthly recurring pricing models is impacting the ways partner price, noted Troy, and includes a mixed bag of what’s in the monthly fee — per endpoint, per person, etc., or an all-encompassing monthly model.
When asked for the number one reason MSPs should use their services and products, each vendor gave a quick answer. For Datto, it was 100 percent channe/MSP focus. For Kaseya, efiiciency — every tool designed for be successful with the client. And ConnectWise cited its ecosystem and vendor members choice.