Managed services is not a one-man job, and managed services platform provider Level Platforms designed the new version of its Managed Workplace platform with that in mind.
Version 6.0 of the platform aims to make it easier for MSPs to work together with other managed service providers, vendors and customers to share IT management chores. With the new platform, MSPs can now set up user-defined rules and permissions to enable remote partners, vendors or customers to control specific monitoring, configuration and remote control functions through a shared dashboard.
"We're very excited about the new user management interface, it gives partners and end users more granular control and it's more like a true role-management interface where you can create different roles and assign different users or groups permissions for different clients based on whether they just want to read information or clear their own alerts or respond to their own tickets," said Cameron Hartis, senior systems engineer for gTECHserv, an MSP in Charlotte, N.C. "We have some customers who want tighter control and some who want to give us all the controls and being able to cater to each of those requirements greatly benefits us."
The new features also will allow MSPs to collaborate with other MSPs to provide a broader set of services to customers.
"If a solution provider wants to work with another partner, someone who is across town or the country, they can set them up so they get a shared view of the dashboard and all the alerts, reporting, and controls are defined by whoever is responsible for that account, so that other VARs, or even vendors, can collaborate together," said Peter Sandiford, CEO, Level Platforms, in Ottawa, Ontario. "IP telephony is a perfect case of where this would be helpful, as a lot of telephony VARs don't understand the data side and a lot of traditional VARs don't have telephony experience. Yet, customers want a complete solution."
Level will continue to focus on facilitating collaboration in future iterations of the product, Sandiford said.
"This is the vision that we have for this market: a single VAR in a local community is not necessarily going to be able to handle all the IT requirements, but with collaborative features they can present a broad face or service those customers need," Sandiford said.
Version 6.0 also adds a new reporting engine based on Microsoft SQL Reporting Services, which is a significant improvement from the previous version's reporting tool, MSPs said.
"It's like night and day with the new reporting engine," said Andy Harper, CIO of Gaeltek, an MSP in Manassas Park, Va. "I can now get clear and clean reports that I can take to my client and they'll understand what we're telling them."
"I'm really into the community aspect of this," Harper said. "I for one know that I don't know it all, and what Level has done with the discussion boards, enhanced templates, and scripting to facilitate that communication, we can do way more than what we could before."
The new version also adds integration with professional service automation tools including AutoTask, ConnectWise, Microsoft CRM and TigerPaw. It also adds support for users of the OnForce Web marketplace for technical services. Also new is support for monitoring and management of Windows Vista.
Meanwhile, Level Platform's Ottawa rival N-able Technologies last week unveiled an upgrade to its managed services platform. The platform vendor said it plans to roll out version 6.5 of N-central platform this month. The release brings improvements such as reduced customer set-up time for monitoring and management services.