Managed Services Reach Home

In March, managed service software vendor LPI Level Platforms introduced version 5.0 of Managed Workplace, its software for helping digital integrators and MSPs keep tabs on networks and digital devices. This latest edition is priced starting at $15 per PC, per month for networks comprised of fewer than 10 devices, compared with $60 per PC, per month previously. The new pricing gives home integrators the ability to remotely monitor and manage customer sites, says Peter Sandiford, CEO of LPI, Ottawa.

Jordan Hermant, president of integrator Zedware, which is using version 5.0 to manage about 20 test bed homes, says the opportunity for managed services in homes and SOHO environments appears immense. "All consumer electronics are becoming more IT-based devices, and we see growth in the market over the next couple of years," Hermant says. (For more on LPI, see related story.)

Two MSP vendors have significantly lowered the cost for home integrators to enter the managed services market:




LPI Level Platforms-- Managed Workplace 5.0: $15

per PC per month for networks of fewer than 10 devices.



Zenith Infotech--Saaz remote monitoring solution: $6.50

per PC,


per server, per month, flat fee

LPI certainly isn't the only platform option for digital integrators considering this opportunity. In January, Zenith Infotech introduced new, lighter-weight system-monitoring agents designed in part to make it more practical for MSPs to add home and SOHO networks to their customer rollouts.

Zenith Infotech, an MSP monitoring outsourcer based in India, runs a large back-end IT network monitoring operations center that can save home integrators the expense of having to build and manage their own MSP networks, says Zenith Infotech CEO Akash Saraf.

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For a fixed fee starting at $6.50 per PC per month or $37 per month per server, Saraf says Zenith Infotech's Saaz service can connect remotely to an integrator's customer site, and monitor and manage the environment.

"We act as the [network operations center], MSPs act as the help desk," says Saraf, who adds that an MSP approach means home and SOHO integrators can be proactive in maintaining their customers' networks.

Fixed-fee pricing from Zenith Infotech doubled managed services margins for The Client Server, an MSP in Bonita Springs, Fla., that caters to small businesses, says company president Jack Voch.

Zenith Infotech provides antivirus support for security products from Trend Micro, CA, McAfee and Symantec, general spyware protection, Microsoft Windows software updates and patch management, and routine operating system maintenance such as cleaning of temporary file folders and hard-drive defragmentation. The service enables Voch to offer around-the-clock system monitoring to customers, while his team gets a monthly report detailing network events and services rendered. Pricing can go as low as $2.50 per PC per month when clients are added in large enough numbers, he says.

Jim Swoyer, president and CEO of Xoiox Systems, Rolling Meadows, Ill., has used Zenith Infotech's low, fixed-pricing schemes to build a managed services practice that he offers to small doctors' offices. He is building his business based on the principle of "the 1 percent business model." Simply put, Swoyer wants to manage his own operations so that no one customer makes up more than 1 percent of his total business.

"I have a fixed cost with Zenith, and this lets me add many, many new, small customers, so I have an economy of scale," he says.

Swoyer is able to optimize his margins because the mission-critical nature of a doctor's office allows him to charge a premium, he says.

Zedware's Hermant says he also is realizing profit from managed services by first targeting more sophisticated home customers, then delivering services atop an inexpensive platform--in his case, the software from LPI.

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