Microsoft: Launching Managed Services Software Platform?

Microsoft: Launching Managed Services Software Platform?

Microsoft Managed ServicesIs Microsoft preparing a managed services platform for VARs? If an alleged email from Microsoft is legitimate, the answer is a very strong maybe.

According to the email -- which has been posted in multiple managed services forums in recent days -- Microsoft is conducting a research study to help evaluate a managed services-oriented product that has "yet to be launched in the market."

Here's the scoop.

The Details

According to the text of the alleged email, Microsoft asks:
Are You An MSP?
Microsoft User Research is conducting a study to evaluate a product yet to be launched in the market from* November 7 to November 13, 2008*. It is important for you to know that you do not need to prepare anything for this. We want to learn from you, the experts, to determine what needs to be improved in our software. We highly value your feedback and will be offering you a gratuity option in appreciation of your time and participation.
We are recruiting individuals who:
• Have experience providing proactive, outsourced IT services for multiple customers; this could include backing up data, installing patches, keeping AV software up-to-date, and management of other IT assets.
• Are available for a 2 hour study session in the week of November 7, 2008
• Can make it to Microsoft’s main campus in Redmond, Washington
If you are interested or know someone who could be interested in participating, please email [email protected]
MSPmentor has reached out to Microsoft for comment, but had not received a reply as of this writing.

Microsoft's Managed Services Story So Far

It's  no secret that Microsoft is keeping a close eye on the managed services market. The software giant in March 2008 announced a close working relationship between its Systems Center Essentials 2007 software and N-able's managed services platform.

Microsoft also has various relationships with Autotask, Level Platforms Inc. and the MSPAlliance -- among other MSP-oriented companies and organizations. (If I left you off the list don't flame me; post a comment instead.)

Embrace And Replace?

Where is Microsoft heading next? If the alleged Microsoft email is legitimate, it suggests that Microsoft could wind up cooperating -- and competing -- with MSP software companies.

Throughout Microsoft's history, the company has partnered with key software companies to learn about emerging opportunities before launching full-blown software initiatives of its own.

One prime example: Microsoft had a close working relationship with Sybase, providing a launchpad for Microsoft's own SQL Server initiatives.

Big Titans Moving In?

Frankly, MSPmentor is surprised that Microsoft and other large IT companies have not moved sooner into the managed services market.

Still, it's early in the MSP software game. During a conversation I had with Kaseya CEO Gerald Blackie this evening, Blackie estimated that the US managed services industry has reached the 10 percent to 15 percent penetration.

Aside from Dell Inc.'s acquisitions (Silverback, Everdream and MessageOne), major IT firms like Cisco Systems, IBM, Hewlett-Packard and Microsoft have largely avoided the temptation to acquire or launch MSP-related software.

That may soon change -- assuming the Microsoft User Research email is legitimate.

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