NOC and Help Desk Services: New Partners, New Rivals
The NOC (network operations center) and help desk landscapes are set to evolve dramatically in 2013. A few examples ahead of the new year: N-able Technologies and Live Virtual Help Desk are partnering; N-able and NetEnrich apparently are no longer working together; GFI Max apparently is surveying MSPs about their potential NOC needs; and everyone seems to envy Zendesk, which raised $60 million in Series D funding in September 2012. So what's next?
Just about everyone in the managed services provider (MSP) market is trying to figure out whether to keep their NOC and help desk services in-house or to outsource them to a third-party expert like Live Virtual Help Desk or NetEnrich. But there are some key challenges for MSPs, since the outsourced services can vary widely, plus business relationships continue to evolve.
N-able developed a NOC relationship with NetEnrich in November 2011. I believe that relationship seems over as NetEnrich expands its closet-to-cloud services to larger VARs and MSPs, and N-able moves forward with Live Virtual Help Desk. In some ways, Live Virtual Help Desk has caught on as an outsourced help desk provider and also developed a relationship with Ingram Micro Cloud earlier this year, though I continue to wonder if Live Virtual Help Desk can scale to more and more MSPs.
Meanwhile, established players like Continuum Managed Services (formerly Zenith RMM) have strengthened the link between RMM software, help desk and NOC services. And Level Platforms has been extending from RMM to NOC and help desk services, though it's unclear how that effort is progressing.
The potential upside and downside here for MSPs.
- OEM relationships can bring together like-minded companies. But if those partnerships don't remain aligned, MSPs ultimately may need to swap out either their RMM or NOC/help desk provider.
- Integrated RMM/NOC/Help Desk solutions from a single provider can give MSPs one throat to choke. But that also means the technology company has more platforms to develop, align and maintain for MSPs.
Regardless of which path you choose remember this: Generally speaking a NOC is not a help desk. Don't confuse the two. While NOCs monitor the overall health of a network, systems and applications, a help desk offers personalized support to individuals. Move carefully before you potentially lump the two together.
Meanwhile, there are larger forces at play here. Ultimately, MSP-centric software, help desk and NOC companies want to grab some of the spotlight that ServiceNow and Zendesk typically enjoy. ServiceNow launched a successful IPO earlier this year, and ZenDesk raised $60 million in Series D funding in September.
With that type of money in play, it's hardly surprising that MSP-oriented technology companies are trying to get their cloud, help desk and NOC strategies in order.