Kaseya Clarifies Channel Strategy (Again)

The old rumor is back. Some skeptics think Kaseya is taking more and more of its business direct. Kaseya CEO Gerald Blackie has written a blog to combat the rumor. In the piece, Blackie describes where Kaseya works with partners and where Kaseya expects to work directly with customers. So what's the strategy? Here's some perspective.

First, let's rewind a bit. Back in October 2008, some MSPs and rivals alleged that Kaseya was going direct. At the time, Blackie dismissed the rumors and described an indirect and direct sales strategy, which I summed up in the following way at the time:

  • For end-customer environments with 100 or fewer seats, that's an ideal opportunity for Kaseya's MSP partners.
  • For end-customer environments with 100 or more seats, MSPs are welcome to compete in that market but they may run into Kaseya's direct sales force from time to time.

Current Chatter

Now, fast forward to the present. I don't think much has changed -- except for product names.

When Kaseya 2 -- a new management framework -- launched earlier this month, the platform had multiple SaaS and on-premise components. Some rivals and a few MSPs think the Kaseya 2 platform is designed to be sold direct. Aware of the rumors, Blackie has written a pretty lengthy blog vowing Kaseya's continued commitment to MSPs.

When you boil down the blog, though, I think the four following bullet points -- taken directly from Blackie -- sum up Kaseya's partner strategy:
  • SOHO – generally not a candidate for MSP services but need concise IT tools for concise IT tasks
  • Small to lower end of Medium-sized Business – reached through the Kaseya MSP partner network
  • Large / Medium-sized Business – generally (there are exceptions) not interested in obtaining managed services from outside the company
  • Enterprise and Public Sector – generally have all the expertise needed in-house to manage all IT requirements
Translation: Kaseya sees the small and lower-end of the midsize markets as prime MSP opportunities. Moving into the larger midmarket, enterprise and public sectors, Kaseya seems to be saying it will sell direct to corporate accounts.

So, essentially, I think Kaseya's strategy remains unchanged. Is that fair? Unfair? MSPs will need to decide, based on which markets they serve.

Remember: Kaseya views itself as a modern day ERP solution for systems management. And Kaseya's management team comes from an ERP background. Now, consider ERP strategies over at Oracle and SAP, and you'll find direct sales into large corporate accounts, and partner sales into the small and lower midsize markets. I could be wrong, but I believe quite a few systems management companies (CA, BMC, Hewlett-Packard, IBM Tivoli, Nimsoft) are using that direct and indirect sales approach.

Pure Channel Approaches

Meanwhile, plenty of remote monitoring and management companies are preaching pure channel sales. Two examples involve Level Platforms and N-able. But even here, there are subtle nuances worth noting.

Level Platforms, for instance, views its tools as MSP-centric -- designed purely for service providers that want to remotely manage customer and cloud systems. N-able, in stark contrast, sees its tools as both MSP- and customer-centric -- designed for use by MSPs or by an IT administrator within the end-customer market. That's why N-able launched a mid-market channel program -- to help MSPs resell N-able's software into mid-market end-customer accounts.

So what's the bottom line? As you evaluate tools ask about each company's partner strategy. Some software providers have pure channel strategies -- you'll never run into their sales teams in a customer account. Other software providers, such as Kaseya, do sell direct into larger accounts.
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