ConnectWise vs. Autotask Rivalry Expands to IT Product Sourcing

ConnectWise vs. Autotask Rivalry Expands to IT Product Sourcing

On the one hand, ConnectWise and Autotask are talking much less about each other and focusing more on their respective managed services partner opportunities. But on the other hand, it's clear that ConnectWise and Autotask continue to counter each other in the market. The latest example: ConnectWise now integrates with CNet's ChannelOnline IT product sourcing system -- a clear counter-punch to the Autotask-VARStreet business combination. Here's why.

As frequent MSPmentor readers know, ConnectWise and Autotask develop PSA (professional services automation) software for VARs and MSPs. PSA is somewhat akin to CRM or ERP software -- purposely built for VARs and MSPs. Autotask acquired VARStreet -- a product sourcing and quoting system -- in early 2010. Since that time, Autotask has been working hard to polish and improve VARStreet's quality.

Now for the chess match: VARStreet competes with CNet's ChannelOnline, an e-procurement and sales quoting tool for VARs serving small businesses. Earlier today, ConnectWise announced integration with ChannelOnline, claiming:

"The integration streamlines the sales process, combining the power of ChannelOnline quoting and procurement with ConnectWise reporting and business process management."

More Moves Coming

Now, the ball is in Autotask's court. Over the past year, Autotask has quietly polished and enhanced VARStreet, and greatly expanded VARStreet's user base along the way.

However, I think it's safe to say that VARStreet needed more polish than Autotask originally expected during the acquisition process in early 2010. In recent months, Autotask has been pretty quiet on the VARStreet front, working hard on R&D rather than talking up the product sourcing solution in the market.

Still, it sounds like Autotask will make some noteworthy VARStreet moves during the Autotask Community Live conference in May 2011. One possibility includes a closer working relationship between Autotask-VARStreet and Synnex, a distributor that just launched a major managed services initiative.

It sounds like both the Autotask and VARStreet tools are part of Synnex's expanding One IT initiative, which gives VARs and MSPs a single back-end system for running multiple business processes. Multiple Autotask executives attended this week's Synnex Varnex gathering in Boston. And I hear Synnex VARs are beta testing some new Autotask-VARStreet capabilities... (Though Synnex will continue to integrate with ConnectWise as well.)

In the meantime, healthy competition between Autotask and ConnectWise continues to benefit MSPs. The ConnectWise-ChannelOnline integration, assuming it works as promised, should benefit plenty of readers.

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