SilverBack: The Low-Price Leader?

network management freeware

No, not really.

But the MSP platform vendor, which last November slashed the entry-level price for access to its full range of tools, on Monday cut the price for its Desktop Monitoring package from $115 per desktop for a perpetual license to $30. With an annual license contract, the price now starts at $1.33 per desktop per month.

SilverBack partners like St. Louis-based MSP Datotel like the new price. Datotel, an annual license holder that now charges clients from $8 to $12.50 per desktop per month for monitoring and patch management, wants to get its prices down to between $5 and $6. With SilverBack's new annual license price, that just became a whole lot easier.

"We think it's important to have desktops, servers and devices all bundled together," said Russ Bryant, vice president of managed services at Datotel. "Now we have a more compelling story to tell. It's the whole enchilada, whereas before, when the desktop prices were too high, it was harder for us to sell our clients on a total solution."

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SilverBack's new offering would seem to be a direct challenge to two of its main competitors in the MSP platform space. On one hand, the $30-per-desktop perpetual license price takes on N-able Technologies' new Remote Environment Manager desktop management tool, which is priced at $50 per device. On the other hand, the renewable license price of $1.33 per desktop challenges the $2.25 that Zenith Infotech charges for its hosted desktop management service.

The new package includes monitoring, patch scanning and deployment, remote access, basic inventory tracking and technical support. In addition, customers can outsource help-desk support to Do IT Smarter, a San Diego-based company.

SilverBack's new low-price strategy may raise some eyebrows in the MSP platform arena. Last August, SilverBack CEO Dan Phillips was beating his chest defiantly in the face of price cuts by rivals N-able and LPI Level Platforms, telling CRN, "Our competitors could offer their products for free, and it would still cost more to deliver managed services with their products than it does with SilverBack."

Just a few months later, the Billerica, Mass.-based vendor cut its entry-level price from $76,500 to $2,999. The vastly cheaper software-as-a-service offering, part of its QuickLaunch line of hosted software, was a limited license that allowed MSPs to monitor 35 devices at five client sites. And the high end of SilverBack's new hosted line, the BusinessBuilder Plus enterprise suite, was priced at $99,500 -- even higher than its appliance-based counterpart.

But if SilverBack never really relinquished its ambition to be the Rolls Royce of MSP platforms, its recent low-price offerings indicate that the vendor is just as eager to be the KIA.

"It's not really a shift in philosophy. It's a recognition that there are a lot of accounts out there that want more than just their servers and network devices to be covered," said Jonathon Wolf, vice president of product marketing at SilverBack.

"Our partners are increasingly hearing from their clients that they want the full package managed. Now we can say, 'Yeah, the servers are this much, but per-device we're $1.33.' So this undercuts our competition substantially. On a lot of jobs that our partners bid, on a per-device basis, we're going to meet or beat our competitors."

SilverBack customer Steve Wright, owner of Wright Business Technologies, a Houston-based MSP, thinks desktop management is crucial for an MSP.

"I think it's essential to be able to do desktop monitoring," Wright said. "You're not gaining the same level of detail and knowledge as you do on a server, but there are a lot of little things you can do at the desktop level."

Wright said he was "excited about where [SilverBack's] desktop products are going" but grumbled a bit about having already paid higher prices for SilverBack's desktop package, which the vendor started selling nine months ago.

Without promising anything, Wolf said SilverBack customers in Wright's situation would be dealt with on an individual basis.

"We hadn't sold a large number of [desktop] packages. There were a few partners who had rolled it out, and we heard we needed to be more price-competitive. We'll listen to them on a case-by-case basis, but we haven't gone back and retroactively changed those deals," Wolf said.