Roundup: MSP Platform Vendors Roll Out Upgrades For 2010


If it's a new year, managed services platform vendors must be rolling out their new features. Such is the case in 2010 for Kaseya, LPI Level Platforms, N-able Technologies and Zenith Infotech. Here's a look at what innovations are in the pipeline for each company:

LPI Level Platforms

LPI Level Platforms has several new features to its platform, now called Managed Workplace 2010, which enhances a major overhaul that LPI performed on its software last year. Managed Workplace 2010 includes more integration for non-PC and server devices, such as unified communication products and SaaS applications. MSPs can still manage everything from a single dashboard, said Peter Sandiford, CEO of LPI.

"PCs and servers are a declining part of the IT budget. We need to get into new technologies, not just as a defensive opportunity, but as an offensive plan. MSPs can go in and sell hosted Exchange, not just managed Exchange. This elevates them from hosted Exchange to an e-mail service," Sandfiord said.

LPI isn't forgetting about desktop management, however. The company has added two big features there -- Onsite Utilities, which allows any technician with a browser to access a PC's registry and do behind the scenes work without interrupting the end user's operating experience, according to Sandiford. LPI also developed Offsite Assistant, which allows a PC to be managed even if it's off the network, like at a hotel.

"We created a networking protocol that allows the device to be associated with the company it's from. The MSP sees the device showing up using the same agentless technology as if it's onsite," Sandiford said.

Managed Workplace 2010 has implemented 66 new bundled policy modules for products from about 20 vendors and also more than 150 productivity improvements with more extensive parsing of SNMP traps, system log improvements, enhanced network scanning, simplified installation and upgrades and resolution of issues reported over the
past year.

N-able Technologies

N-able Technologies now has its N-central 7.0 version in full release, which features a "freemium" version that lets MSPs give users a light version called Essentials to get them hooked to move up to the Professional version. In addition, N-central 7.0 is embedded with Endpoint Security Manager, a security suite OEM'd from Panda Software that 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.

N-able is offering 5 million free security licenses to MSPs' customers for a 12-month period, said Gavin Garbutt, CEO of N-able.

"We developed this around the notion that service providers are not managing 80 to 90 percent of the small businesses they deal with. They sell them stuff on a project basis but they're not remotely monitoring assets within the environment. N-central 7.0 addresses those fundamental issues. It's about managing all customers you deal with and helping you win new customers," Garbutt said.

Core Business Services, a Medford, Ore.-based solution provider, recently rolled out Essentials to a 250-node private school that had only been looking for a renewal of their Trend Micro anti-virus software, said Scott Anderson, president and CEO of Core Business Services.

"They have an internal IT staff of two and we showed them the Endpoint Security Manager and the additional features of basic monitoring. They were in love with it. We anticipate the client, and quite a few others getting on Essentials to go to the Professional stage," Anderson said.
The solution provider also said improved remote control functionality in N-Central 7.0 has been a big help to his company.

"In the past, we were not able to use remote control built into N-central because of time-out issues and some speed and performance [issues]. But remote control in 7.0 is very fast. Having it with End Point Security and all managed by a single N-central NOC is pretty big for us," Anderson said.

Zenith Infotech

Zenith Infotech launched its Total Desktop Care Plus late in 2009 with significant improvements over the previous Total Desktop Care version, said Maurice Saluan, vice president of sales and channel management at Zenith Infotech.

The new platform includes anti-virus coverage from VIPRE Enterprise built into the dashboard and an end-user communicator feature that lets clients create their own support tickets branded with the MSP's name.

"Total Desktop Care Plus allows us to offer more for appreciably the same pricing as the prior [release]," said Saluan. "We have also implemented a script library and a script engine. We have pre-written scripts for about 300 tasks and we have a wizard to walk you through applying them. You don't have to be a programmer. It's easy to apply the scripts across different locations."

Zenith Infotech has also rolled out a new Certified Partner Reseller (CPR) program. Earlier this month, more than 900 MSPs attended a Webinar about the program, which helps teach partners on how to get in the door selling managed services to clients, Saluan said.

"In this economy, managed services has been a difficult sell. It's nice to have vs. need to have. But if they can promote it as business continuity services now, they can get in the door with that," Saluan said.

Kaseya

Kaseya is putting the finishing touches on its Kaseya 2 platform, a significant reboot of its current release, according to executives. Meanwhile, the company has reached a marketing alliance with Lenovo to help partners from both companies increase their managed services offerings by integrating Kaseya's remote management platform into Lenovo's ThinkVantage technology.

"It shows the maturity of a company like Lenovo to throw their hat in the ring with a company like Kaseya," said Dan Shapero, senior vice president of marketing for Kaseya.

Lenovo marks Kaseya's second vendor agreement. An existing deal with Intel focuses on marketing managed services with Intel's vPro technology.

"There are things we can do with [Lenovo] that we couldn't do with Intel alone. That's really exciting for us. We can work with them on the technology front to support Lenovo hardware in the field but also put together programs to educate each other's channels on managed services," Shapero said. "As we progress, we'll develop more technology, more integration. If there's a day when our agent is shipping pre-configured on a Lenovo [PC], that's great. Today, it's more work around content and channel benefits, marketing, how to be a better MSP."

Kaseya would like to engage more PC vendors about marketing or other deals, but thus far Lenovo has shown the most interest, Shapero said.

"Not all the vendors have jumped on managed services. Dell has it with [its Silverback Technologies acquisition]. Lenovo is putting a stake in the ground. They're stepping up to say the managed services business model is here to stay. That's smart of them."

Meanwhile, Kaseya's next-gen platform will scale from small-business to the enterprise level and is re-architected for more SaaS functionality, said Jim Alves, executive vice president of Kaseya.

"We've been around for five years now and we've gotten through the first five growing nicely with a product serving the MSP and SME market. It's time to look at our strategy to grow and what the product will look like for the next five years," Alves said. "It's time to build the next generation of that platform to have scalability and application features to pile on top of that to serve various markets."