Upgrades Pave The Way For VARs With Eye On MSP Space

Three MSP enablers to the channel—Cittio, N-able Technologies and SilverBack Technologies—each launched upgrades to their platforms last week.

Cittio, a San Francisco-based network monitoring technology vendor that last year had 86 percent of its products resold and managed through channel partners, added multitenant functionality to its WatchTower MSP product, said CEO Jamie Lerner.


Cittio, N-able and SilverBack MSP platforms each support creative marketing approaches for monitoring:


>> During off-hours only
>> Select departments
>> Specific equipment
>> Select OSes

The multitenant enhancement lowers the MSP overhead for VARs by giving them the ability to monitor multiple customer sites through a single platform, said Lerner. Cittio's mission is to empower VARs with what Lerner said is "a pretty logical follow-up" to equipment and software sales: network monitoring. And Cittio resellers make good money as MSPs, he said.

"For every dollar people invest in WatchTower, we are seeing $3 in return and 50 percent increases in consulting opportunities," said Lerner.

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Starting at $400 for one monitored node and shrinking to as low as $20 per node in dense IT environments, WatchTower delivers a sophisticated MSP feature set that rivals the monitoring capabilities of products like HP OpenView and BMC Patrol, but with far less complexity, said Lerner.

John Hudson, president of Computers and Networks Unlimited, Vineland, N.J., is at the starting gate with plans to take an MSP offering to his existing customer base with WatchTower. With Cittio's flexible solution and pricing, Hudson said his team even plans to offer monitoring in a forensic capacity. "For customers troubleshooting a network problem, we're going to say, 'Let us take over for a week and see if we can figure out what's wrong.' "

Meanwhile, Cittio rival N-able, Ottawa, rolled out an upgrade to its N-central MSP offering and split its channel program for better market segment focus.

Key to N-central 4.5 is a free add-on OnDemand Service Module, which enables the product's service automation tools—such as remote access, patch management, desktop monitoring and asset management—to work together in one platform, said CEO Mark Scott. The tools previously operated more like point products, he said. That prior versions of N-central did behave somewhat like point products ruffled the feathers of some resellers earlier this year, when they said they were led to believe N-central would be easier to deploy than it ended up being. Derik Belair, vice president of marketing at N-able, said the vendor definitely had the interests of these partners in mind as it put the finishing touches on version 4.5.

"We have moved more toward being a platform vendor," said Scott. "Point applications have their place, but ultimately the platform vendors will win the race in the long term."

A new VoIP Service Manager module is also available with version 4.5, said Scott. Starting at about $3,500, the VoIP module lets partners monitor VoIP deployments in customer sites.

Adam Eiseman, president and CEO of The Lloyd Group, a New York-based MSP that brings in more than $100,000 a month from monitoring mainly SMB clients, said the addition of the VoIP module will help his company's bottom line.

"We are seeing tremendous growth of VoIP and hosted VoIP in the SMB market where we focus," said Eiseman.

N-able this week also split its existing partner program, MSP 3.0, into two separate entities, MSP N-abler and MSP Titanium, said Scott.

Under the new structure, partners that typically provide managed services to the sub-100 user market—often shouldering the monitoring of the entire IT infrastructure—will be MSP N-ablers, said Scott. Partners that serve the 100-user market and above—sometimes only providing certain types of monitoring such as security monitoring and supplemental monitoring—will be classified as MSP Titanium partners, he said.

The overall change will be improved focus on each program's target customer base. N-Able's existing Silver, Gold and Platinum partner fee structure, based on the number of customers a reseller provides MSP services to, will not change, he said.

For its part, SilverBack, Billerica, Mass., improved its remote monitoring and service delivery portfolio with the integration of Retina Network Security Scanner technology from eEye Digital Security, Aliso Viejo, Calif. A compliance-related move, new vulnerability assessment reports that can be generated by Retina through SilverBack's MSP platform serve to fortify the vendor's existing firewall monitoring, patch management and host-based intrusion monitoring tools, according to SilverBack.