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MSPs: Microsoft Is Fastest Growing Partner In Managed Services ‘Golden Era’

Steven Burke

‘COVID and the pandemic changed everything,’ said David Stinner, president of USitek, a Buffalo, N.Y., MSP. ‘Our Microsoft business is up 400 percent since the pandemic. Microsoft is on top of the world again.’

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With the pandemic fueling a rapid shift to the cloud, Microsoft has become the fastest growing vendor partner for many MSPs, according to several solution providers interviewed Sunday at XChange March 2022.

“Because of the supply chain constraints we stopped selling servers altogether and we moved those customers to Azure,” said David Stinner, president of USitek, a Buffalo, N.Y., MSP in an interview at the conference, being hosted this week in Dallas by CRN parent The Channel Company. “The move to the cloud should have happened years ago, but small business owners were afraid of the change. COVID and the pandemic changed everything. Our Microsoft business is up 400 percent since the pandemic. Microsoft is on top of the world again. They have all the right stuff you need to run a business anywhere. They are our fastest growing vendor.”

Stinner said he has moved 20 customers in the last two years that were on-premises to Azure cloud services and Microsoft offerings like Teams. “Teams is phenomenal compared to the world we were in before the pandemic,” he said. “I don’t think anything is comparable to Teams.” USitek is driving many customers to adopt the Microsoft 365 Business Premium, which includes Teams, he said.

The Microsoft business boom comes as the reputation of MSPs is on the rise in the wake of the pandemic, said Stinner.

“When the pandemic hit, customers realized MSPs were really important,” he said. “Before that we were an SG&A (selling, general and administrative) expense line, like the cleaning service. Now we are a strategic part of the business that they need to run their business.”

Joe Ussia, CEO of Infinite IT Solutions, Toronto, Ontario, said his Microsoft partnership is also the fastest growing part of his business, with a 50 percent increase in sales expected for this year. “Microsoft is easy to work with and the products work,” he said. “It is simple to understand and sell.”

Ussia has also seen a marked increase in the reputation of MSPs in the wake of the pandemic. “We went from being ‘just those IT guys’ to IT professionals overnight from a respect perspective,” he said. “Before the pandemic we were looked at as guys in the basement—‘Who needs them?’—to professionals who are now looked at like lawyers or accountants. It’s been great!”

Stephen Monk, CEO of Noverus Innovations, Roseville, Calif., said Microsoft is also his fastest growing vendor partner, with the business doubling in 2021 as a result of a rapid move by more customers to Azure. Since the pandemic, Noverus has moved 100 clients from on-premises solutions to Azure Virtual Desktop and Microsoft Teams.

“It’s been crazy,” he said of the widespread move the cloud. “The pandemic has spurred more customers to move to the cloud with more remote work. You need to be able to have employees everywhere now. That’s driving the move to the cloud. People are worried about security, and Microsoft is investing heavily there. Customers have been thrilled with the Azure Virtual Desktop and Teams experience.”

Monk said he has been teaming with Microsoft for the last 25 years. “It’s a really good relationship,” he said. “It is all about the effort you put into it and utilizing all of the vast amount of resources that Microsoft gives us. They give us a ton in terms of marketing capabilities and toolsets. It’s all about using it and and figuring out how to position it with our customers.”

Monk said he is extremely excited about the Microsoft business and the MSP model. “We are in a golden era for MSPs,” he said. “The pandemic has helped improve the image of MSPs significantly. Customers now realize the value we are bringing to them. With the move to remote work, the complexity of keeping people secure went up significantly. We stepped up and helped customers with that process.”

Jay Parisi, a partner for Aegis Technology Partners, Norwalk, Conn., said his Microsoft business was up 20 percent in 2021, driven by Microsoft 365 and advanced security protection. Aegis NetShield Managed Services has been key to driving that growth and protecting customers in the midst of a barrage of cybersecurity attacks. His advice to Microsoft to continue the MSP momentum: “Get involved. Get out there and meet with more MSPs. It would be great to have more one on one with time with Microsoft.”

Microsoft channel chief Rodney Clark for his part told CRN earlier this month that he wants partners to know that the Microsoft partner ecosystem remains “absolutely critical” to how Microsoft does business. About 95 percent of Microsoft‘s commercial revenue is influenced by partners either directly or with Microsoft.

“Partners are center to what we do,” said Clark, corporate vice president, global channel sales, at Redmond, Wash.-based Microsoft. “We are building things like Marketplace and enhancements to things like Partner Center. We are supporting back-end flows to make it easier for our partners to do business with us through digital means as well as through traditional. So we are investing … a big part of our strategy is to continue to deliver on the promise of more value to customers and more flexibility and support for partners.”

Steven Burke

Steve Burke has been reporting on the technology industry and sales channel for over 30 years. He is passionate about the role of partners using technology to solve business problems and has spoken at conferences on channel sales issues. He can be reached at sburke@thechannelcompany.com.

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