As the debate about managed services licensing models continues, ManageEngine has launched MSPcenter Plus Hosted, a platform that blends hosted managed services software with hosted productivity applications -- including the Zoho productivity suite, which competes fiercely with Google Apps. (ManageEngine and Zoho are sister companies). If you're not familiar with Zoho,
I traded email with Dav Anand, an MSP solutions manager at AdventNet (ManageEngine's parent) for more perspective. Here's our exchange.
MSPmentor: How are you positioning MSPcenter Plus Hosted?
Anand: MSP Hosted offers two advantages for startups.
- Zero upfront investment : No need to buy hardware, no need to buy software license, no need to worry about hosting charges, no need to worry about human capital for ensuring the reliability of the management platform.
- The competition just gives a management platform, we offer a complete office on the web by having a FREE Zoho business account bundled with this, which gives a company email, document management, personal organizer and a host of other tools for 10 employees in the startup.
Anand: Large customers won't as they have already invested in datacenters. But smaller customers, yes, they would be willing to transition.
MSPmentor: What are the benefits of hosted vs. on-premise, from your perspective?
Anand: Onpremise leaves a lot of work to be done by the MSP - such as taking regular backups, ensuring system uptime by monitoring it regularly, restoring the sytem back incase of a crash and so on. In the hosted model ADVENTNET takes care of hosting it on the Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) servers. The MySQL data is stored on an EBSdrive in same availability zone for better performance and also with daily snapshots taken from EBS to S3. Moreover ADVENTNET will monitor the setup daily and will perform any crash recovery operations when required. All the EC2 instances are given an elastic IP so that in case of a crash recovery all the installed probes and agents connect back easily to the same elastic IP (but a newer instance) and continue working.
SaaS vs. On-PremiseI want to reiterate to readers that I am NOT stating that SaaS is better than on-premise, or vice-versa. It truly depends on each MSP's specific needs, and each customer's needs. That said, I think SaaS pricing models are forcing some on-premise MSP software vendors to rethink some of their pricing models, which often forced MSPs to acquire more licenses than they needed.
In his email to me, Anand offered an extended cost benefit analysis of hosted vs. on-premise. But I have to be honest: I didn't quite follow all of the math and need to follow up with him a bit more to sort out the numbers. Translation: I'm a little too fried today to do math. Plus, I don't want to publish numbers here without making sure I've got the facts straight.
All that said, I think the real story here involves the one-two punch of ManageEngine and Zoho, which has attracted more than 200 partners in recent months. I will leave it up to readers to test ManageEngine Plus Hosted -- does it work? Does it meet your needs? Are there weak areas? But I can say this: I've run Zoho off and on for about two years. And Zoho has a rather passionate customer following. Our sister site, TheVARguy.com, has covered Zoho closely if you need more info.
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