SilverBack Rivals Smell Blood


Dell's announcement that it would acquire MSP platform provider SilverBack left many SilverBack MSPs pondering their futures this week, and SilverBack rivals are not missing out on the chance to woo wavering MSPs and their customers.

MSP platform provider Nimsoft, for example, yesterday fired up its marketing engines and kicked off a campaign called "Save the Silverback MSP," intended to attract any disenchanted SilverBack MSPs.

"Our offer to those SilverBack MSPs is to replace their current solution on a like-for-like basis, on the same monthly cost basis, and offer them free consulting services from our own professional services team to do that migration work for them," says Gary Read, CEO of Nimsoft, in Redwood City, Calif.

Although SilverBack only has about 150 channel partners, a number of those partners are mature MSPs that also offer their services to other VARs as hosted offerings.

Many SilverBack MSPs, however, are still taking a wait-and-see approach to observe how Dell will approach the business. Silverback brass, meanwhile, maintains that Dell will continue to support the channel.

"Dell is committed to building a channel strategy around services, which is why they acquired SilverBack. Clearly, we will now have significantly more resources to enhance our technology, channel support, and end user demand for our channel," said SilverBack Technologies CEO Dan Phillips, Thursday, in an e-mail.

MSP platform provider Kaseya also kicked in a new competitive replacement program targeting SilverBack MSPs. The program offers SilverBack MSPs credits toward a Kaseya migration, says Kaseya CEO Gerald Blackie, in St. Helier, Jersey.

In addition to the possibility of acquiring new customers during the change, most SilverBack rivals saw the move as positive in that it would create new awareness of the managed services model and market.

"When the big guys come into the market with big marketing dollars, they're doing something that has been missing in the market and that's end user generation. Each solution provider in this market has had to do missionary work in the end user market, which has no real understanding of managed services at all," says Peter Sandiford, CEO, Level Platforms, Ottawa, Ontario.

He acknowledged though that this also brings a new and different competitor to the market.

"We and others have been saying for years that solution providers have got to get going into managed services or the big guys will do it for you. This should light a fire under the solution provider community, that if they don't establish a managed services practice with their customer then Dell just might," Sandiford says.

Sandiford threw a few jabs at Dell as well, urging MSPs to question whether the hardware vendor could provide a vendor-agnostic offering and also the high level of trust required in the solution provider-platform provider relationship.

"I think most solution providers will wait to see the answers to these critical questions before making a significant commitment," Sandiford says.

MSP platform provider N-Able CEO Gavin Garbutt suggested that Dell's move will further commoditize the lower end of the managed services market, increasing the need for MSPs to provide more sophisticated offerings beyond simple monitoring and to further differentiate their services.

"Dell is trying to commoditize the notion of remote monitoring and management of applications and services, and the Vostra announcement they just made is a great example of that," Garbutt says.

Dell officials are not disclosing any further information on their plans at this point, said a company spokesman.

The one thing all parties agreed on, however, was that this is not the end of the consolidation in the MSP market.

"I think there are definitely more acquisitions to come, there are a number of players in this space, with an emerging market like this and the number of players you have you will always go through a consolidation phase, usually it's two phases, one at the very early stages—which is what we're entering now—and another one as the market goes through the next stage of maturation. It's a very normal business cycle," Garbutt says.