AVG Steps Up Office 365 Remote Management Offerings

A new service module from AVG Technologies will make it cheaper and easier for channel partners to remotely monitor and manage Microsoft Office 365.

The new service module, which was made available Wednesday, will allow MSPs to view all essential Office 365-related information on a single screen without having to log in and out of different applications, said Marco La Vecchia, the vice president of channel sales for AVG, which has its U.S. operations based in San Francisco.

The module is necessary for ensuring solution providers remain relevant to their customers, La Vecchia said, by providing end users with reasons to not purchase Office 365 directly from Microsoft.

[Related: AVG Acquires Level Platforms To Push Depper Into RMM, MDM Space]

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The difference is that channel partners can easily offer through AVG Managed Workplace management services, such as user password resets and mailbox, which Microsoft typically will not do. La Vecchia said these services add value for customers and provide channel partners with a source of recurring revenue.

With the new module, MSPs can remotely perform the five most popular management tasks: password resets; tracking mailbox usage activity; viewing mailbox quotas, policies and memberships; setting alerts for license expiration; and checking up-to-date information on subscriptions, usage and license status. They can do this from within the same screen view, La Vecchia said. Other administrative tasks can be accessed without any additional logins, he said.

La Vecchia said roughly half of the channel partners AVG spoke with indicated that they wanted greater functionality in managing client software. More than 60 percent of all MSPs utilize Office 365 for their customers, La Vecchia said, with 15 million paying customers as of November 2013.

AVG acquired Managed Workplace through its June 2013 acquisition of Level Platforms in Ottawa, Ontario, and has found it appeals most to solution providers with between eight and 100 employees, La Vecchia said. The tool offers margins of between 35 percent and 45 percent for proactive support services, he said, and 65 percent to 70 percent for fixed-fee services.

But the appeal of Managed Workplace has expanded beyond its traditional clientele as more longtime AVG customers learn the company now has a remote monitoring and management platform.

Despite typically having between one and four employees and just getting into managed services, solution providers offering AVG's other product, CloudCare, are starting to also carry Managed Workplace, La Vecchia said.

CloudCare debuted in October 2012 as a cloud-based administration platform for channel partners to implement and manage services for small business customers. Managed Workplace is slightly -- though not significantly -- more expensive for MSPs to carry than CloudCare, La Vecchia said.

NEXT: Channel Partners Marvel at Margins, Recurring Revenue Opportunities

Waterdog Computer Works in Wayne, Pa., has been a gold partner of AVG for nearly a decade, said company President Fred Robinson, with 4,000 to 6,000 customers using its products.

Waterdog began offering Managed Workplace in October, months after the Level Platforms acquisition, and has been gradually converting customers over to the remote monitoring and management product as their contracts expire. Waterdog has at least 630 Managed Workplace customers, Robinson said, and hopes to eventually have all AVG customers on the platform.

Managed Workplace has made it easier for Waterdog to offer protection against viruses, spam and hard drive failures, Robinson said. The services component also provides a good source of recurring revenue, he said.

"It's a steady income," Robinson said. "It's not a here-today, gone-tomorrow thing."

The product also offers fantastic margin opportunities of around 42 percent through the sale of AVG's retail licenses to customers.

"$25 to $85 is a pretty good spread," Robinson said.

Although Waterdog has Office 365 customers, Robinson said the company doesn't currently use Managed Workplace for that purpose. But he plans to re-examine the issue now that there's a new service module for Office 365.

"I'm always open to new technologies," he said.

IT Weapons of Brampton, Ontario, has been a longtime Level Platforms customer and came under the AVG umbrella with the acquisition, said Jeremy MacBeam, the company's director of business development.

IT Weapons currently has 70 managed services clients, MacBeam said, and uses Managed Workplace to monitor customers' operating systems at the desktop, server and networking component level.

"We've been a very loyal and big fan of theirs for a long time," he said.

The company, though, is focused on designing and hosting private cloud services from their own data centers, MacBeam said, and therefore doesn't resell products that run on the public cloud such as Office 365.