MSP Software Upgrades: Here They Come

Several MSP software providers are planning major platform upgrades in December 2009 and January 2010. Earlier today, for instance, N-able launched N-central 7.0. The company also reinforced a "freemium" security software strategy to help grow the managed services market. As new upgrades flood the market, established and aspiring MSPs will have the opportunity to re-examine which tools and technologies align best with their business goals.

First, a little bit of background: MSPmentor is careful not get caught up in endless tool debates. Much like the auto industry -- where there are numerous quality cars from which to choose -- the MSP tool industry is filled with credible options. For the most part, MSPmentor believes solutions providers succeed or fail based on their business practices rather than their software selections.

All that said, you're still going to need a combination of options -- typically RMM (remote monitoring and management) and PSA (professional services automation) -- software to automate your business.

Upgrades Everywhere

With those priorities in mind, MSP software providers are launching a range of upgrades. Among those making moves:
  • N-able launched N-central 7.0 today for its existing partners
  • Level Platforms is preparing a new Managed Workplace release
  • Kaseya is nearing the launch of its SaaS offerings. And yes, it will include some limited PSA functions, as CEO Gerald Blackie pointed out in May 2009
  • Zenith Infotech also has been building a cloud solution
  • ConnectWise 2010 will debut soon
  • SaaS-centric companies like Autotask and Paglo continue to roll out regular enhancements
  • I know: I've missed numerous additional imminent upgrades. Just send me email (joe [at] NineLivesMediaInc.com) to alert us

N-able's Freemium Move

N-able went on-record today saying N-central 7.0 with Endpoint Security Manager freemium software is now available to existing N-able partners worldwide. General market availability will be announced in January 2010.

N-able CEO Gavin Garbutt continues to evangelize a Freemium strategy -- which blends free and paid licenses. Garbutt hopes free endpoint security licenses will help MSPs to engage more small business customers.

In a prepared statement, Garbutt said:
"As an industry, nearly 90 percent of IP-enabled devices used by small and midsize companies remain unmanaged -- that's an astounding sales and service opportunity that's staring our MSP partners right in the face. Now, with our new N-central 7.0 technology and Endpoint Security Manager, we're accelerating our partners' growth and positioning them to take advantage of this 'land grab' by bringing the benefits of managed services mainstream."
As part of the N-central 7.0 launch, N-able says:
  • all N-able partners with a current N-central maintenance and support subscription will receive a matching number of newly introduced free Essential Licenses for all Professional Licenses purchased.
  • In addition, for a limited time these partners will receive at no charge double the amount of new Endpoint Security Manager licenses, valid for one year. The endpoint security software includes anti-virus, anti-spam, anti-malware, personal firewall and host intrusion prevention for Windows devices, along with monitoring, remote control and full asset reporting.

Freemium for All?

More and more MSP software providers are considering freemium options.

So where did the freemium model come from? Wired Editor Chris Anderson gets plenty of credit for helping readers and businesses understand the model. But Wikipedia credits venture capitalist Fred Wilson for describing the term back in 2006:
"Give your service away for free, possibly ad supported but maybe not, acquire a lot of customers very efficiently through word of mouth, referral networks, organic search marketing, etc., then offer premium priced value added services or an enhanced version of your service to your customer base."
MSP software companies have gotten the message. In addition to N-able's move, Level Platforms CEO Peter Sandiford has hinted that they have a freemium strategy. And in the more traditional security software market, Sophos has unveiled a freemium strategy that bundles free data loss protection (DLP) capabilities with paid endpoint protection software. And ConnectWise recently had Wired's Anderson keynote the company's partner summit.

As you evaluate your own MSP software strategy for 2010, be sure to ask your vendors if there's a freemium component.... Freemium certainly isn't a requirement. But I'm intrigued.

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