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Pax8 Sets Course For More Cloud With ‘Mission Briefing’ Shows

‘Right now around tables, there’s a Pax8 person listening. Not selling. They’re listening … This helps us shape our services,’ Pax8 Chief Channel Officer Ryan Walsh tells CRN.

Earlier this year born-in-the-cloud distributor Pax8 launched a traveling one-day show called “Mission Briefing” where it could meet on its partners’ turf to get feedback and help them build software stacks inside the cloud platform.

Now with 30 of the shows under its belt, Pax8 brought the show to Boston, where Chief Channel Officer Ryan Walsh told CRN the company is considering adding even more dates.

“What we found was partners were repeatedly asking for guidance on how to build a cloud practice, or, ‘How do I grow my stack of technologies to my customer base?’ It’s something that really aligns with our Cloud Wingman focus,” Walsh said. “The Pax8 Stacks conversation introduced the request. They were saying, ‘What kind of stack should I put together, a security stack?’ Or ‘I want to put together a standard stack of everything.’ So when that came out, we were like, ‘OK, let’s build a one-day event where we can answer these questions.’ Everyone is busy so we can take that into their region and that’s how we organized it.”

For Juan Rosales, a regional vice president with Business Technology Partners, an MSP in Boston, the event was a great way to get a look at industry trends and best practices by meeting with peers in his area and learning the best ways to engineer software stacks for particular customers.

“Compliance as a service. Security as a service. That trend. How do we take advantage of that and simplify that into comprehensive ‘happy meal’ packages for our customers?” he said. “It’s great because I can see where the technologies are going. What are some of the innovations. What are some of the trends, based on customer needs.”

Manoug Beurekjian, who owns Managed Technology Service, an MSP in Beverly, Mass., said he’s been in technology for 20 years but in the past few years has transitioned from a break-fix model to managed service model. He said Pax8 has been a tremendous partner.

“This is probably one of the best conferences I’ve been to in terms of communication between MSPs. This discussion back and forth is very valuable,” he said. “They bring a lot of light to the industry trends that are going on, whether it’s security, or Microsoft, or some of the other things. We tried out all of the other big distributors, and not to echo what everyone else is saying but you’re kind of a small fish in a big pond. Their business is really more hardware sales where Pax8, from the ground up, foundationally, they’re a Software- as-a-Service distributor. It just makes sense. They fit better with what we’re trying to do.”

Walsh said the overarching goal of Mission Briefing is to help MSPs gain greater cloud adoption among their customers and use Pax8 as the accelerant to make that happen. During the show, Walsh asked MSPs to describe the percentage of customer cloud adoption on a scale of zero to 100 percent. Of the Boston crowd, 7 percent said they had achieved 100 percent cloud adoption among their customers.

“You would assume that maybe those numbers would be bigger, but they’re not, which is why we’re doing [Mission Briefing]. The majority of the time, no one is above 50 percent [customer cloud adoption],” he said. “In 2019, that does surprise me. It surprised me when we started Pax8; we thought we were late to the dance. … Now based on the survey, the 7 percent number, in one sense you look and say that seems like a really low number, but it’s high, given what I’ve been asking, which is, ‘How many of you are moving up the stack?’ Now I have someone who can check that 100 percent.”

Walsh said having just one MSP indicate it has achieved 100 percent cloud adoption during a Mission Briefing event shows a room full of local peers that it is possible and gives those fellow MSPs incentive to work harder to that goal.

“Now everyone in the room who didn’t check that box at 100 percent can see there might be someone ahead of me in my market,” he said. “I need to pay attention to this.’ “

Maanged Technology Service’s Beurekjian said for the past five to six years, he’s fought that battle among his own customers.

“I’ve been really focused on the cloud side of things,” he said. “A lot of my customers are smaller customers, so it’s been tough to transition them away from the on-premises-type technologies to more cloud technologies, but I think I’m making some footholds in that transition and I think within the next refresh cycle, I’m going to transition all of them to cloud-focused platforms. This definitely helps.”

Walsh said Pax8’s goal is to understand where the Greenwood Village, Colo.-based company can assist in winning greater cloud adoption, and the smaller settings of one-day shows and a conversational environment are helping the company get there.

“Right now around tables, there’s a Pax8 person listening,” Walsh said. “Not selling. They’re listening … This helps us shape our services. So many things we’re doing today, we know that we've been copied but what keeps us in front of it is we're listening to, ‘Where are they now?’ I mean, you can't really take your eye off the ball because the market’s evolving. Their interests are evolving. You have to pay attention to what's current, current issues and concerns.”

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