50 Cool Tools For Solution Providers

Tool Time

They are the central nervous system of any successful solution provider business - the critical software tools that partners use to run their own business and in turn manage their clients' business more effectively.

For solution providers, these software tools - from remote management platforms such as Continuum to back-office service platforms such as ConnectWise to an emerging cloud offering called Cloudability - can mean the difference between success and failure.

Here then is CRN's list of 50 breakthrough tools - software platforms, applications and cloud services - that partners can use to run their own business and more effectively manage their customers' business.


Raleigh, N.C.
Michael Dering, Executive Chairman
Tool: Utility Metered Cloud Platform

Backed by $10 million in venture funding from Intersouth Partners and Grotech Ventures, 6Fusion has made it easy for partners to deliver pay-as-you-go services to customers with a cloud-based metered offering for cloud, enterprise IT and Web applications. Among the company's partners are CRN Solution Provider 500 powerhouse World Wide Technology. Dering leads 6Fusion's board and has a hands-on role in developing the company's strategy.


San Jose, Calif.
Bryan Martin, Chairman, CEO
Tool: Hosted VoIP Business Service

The hosted telephony provider, which was named a leader in Gartner's Magic Quadrant in 2012 for unified communications, now counts some 30,000 small and midsize businesses as customers. The company recently announced that its hosted PBX is HIPAA- and HITECH-compliant, a huge win for partners serving the health-care market. 8x8 has been issued more than 87 patents for its communications technologies. Martin has been with 8x8 for more than two decades, serving in a variety of corporate and engineering roles, including COO and CTO.


Jason Fried, CEO
Tool: Basecamp

A Harvard Business Review blog praises Basecamp-a leading Web-based project management and collaboration tool-for making "a big impact" on cash-starved nonprofits on a small budget. It's a fitting testimonial for a company whose project management software is being adopted at a rate of about 6,000 companies a week. Fried co-founded 37signals in 1999 and is a co-author of "Rework," focused on running a "right-sized" business.


Doug Dennerline, CEO
Tool: Alfresco for Cloud Document Management

Finally, a robust content management system for the cloud. Alfresco, in fact, has taken the same powerful open-source content management system and given it a cloud makeover. The product is now used by 3,000 companies with a total of 7 million users and a mind-boggling 4 billion documents managed by the platform. Dennerline previously served as the president of SuccessFactors and was executive vice president of sales at Salesforce.com. He also held several positions at Cisco, including leading the company's WebEx group.


Boca Raton, Fla.
Steve Haley, CEO
Tool: Aplicor CloudSuite

Forget about putting together a piece-meal end-to-end nextgeneration workspace-Aplicor does it all with a comprehensive cloud CRM/ERP suite. The company has won several Microsoft software vendor awards, including an application development honor. Haley is a 30-year software industry veteran and, prior to Aplicor, was founder, chairman and CEO of Celsius, COO and chief business strategist at MAPICS, and CEO of Pivotpoint, an ERP company that transitioned customers from legacy systems to its state-of-the art technology software.


Bellevue, Wash.
Sunny Gupta, CEO
Tool: IT Cost Mangement

Apptio, which makes a game-changing IT cost management tool, is backed by prestigious venture capitalists including Andreessen Horowitz. A SaaS leader in what it calls the new category of Technology Business Management, Apptio's suite of applications delivers adaptive data management, visual modeling and selfservice analystics as a service. At the helm is Gupta, the former executive vice president of Opsware, which was acquired by HP.

Aspire Technologies

Orlando, Fla.
John Lewe, Founder
Tool: QuoteWerks Sales/Quote Proposal

Aspire Technologies' QuoteWerks sales quote/proposal-which integrates with CRM-is now used by more than 66,000 service providers. One key to the 19-year-old company's success is its reliance on what it calls "old school values." Company founder Lewe is still involved in all aspects of the business.


East Greenbush, N.Y.
Mark Cattini, CEO
Tool: Hosted IT Business Management Software

The maker of business management software used by tens of thousands of solution providers has been expanding its cloud footprint, including a deal with cloud collaboration/synchronization provider Anchor. A sign of the company's channel commitment: Cattini and Senior Vice President Len DiCostanzo were honored on CRN's 2013 Channel Chief list. Cattini previously was CEO of Awareness.

BrightGauge Software

San Francisco
Eric Dosal, CEO
Tool: Web-Based Analytics, Reporting Platform for MSPs

Started by brothers and veteran MSPs Brian and Eric Dosal in 2010, BrightGauge's custom reporting/portal tool has received rave reviews and has the two eyeing new tools to drive growth for MSPs. Eric Dosal late last month returned to BrightGauge as CEO, after leaving in 2012 to lead the sale of its five-year-old Compuquip Managed IT Services group to All Covered.

CA Technologies

Islandia, N.Y.
Michael Gregoire, CEO
Tool: Nimsoft Remote Monitoring and Management

CA, one of the leaders in IT service management, has done a super job driving product innovation since it acquired the Nimsoft product three years ago. Partners rave about the technology and the robust CA channel program. MSP Atrion did a comprehensive review of 12 other platforms before choosing CA Nimsoft.

Champion Solutions Group

Boca Raton, Fla.
Chris Pyle, CEO
Tool: 365 Command Tool

CRN Solution Provider 500 power Champion Solutions Group's MessageOps unit has the must-have tool to manage Office 365 from setting mailbox passwords/permissions to mailbox monitoring. The software currently manages more than 520,000 Microsoft mailboxes. File this one under the only way to manage Office 365.


Portland, Ore.
Mat Ellis, Founder, CEO
Tool: Cloud Cost Usage Analytics

This breakthrough cloud computing cost usage analytics tool was used during President Barack Obama's re-election campaign. Cloudability estimates that about 10 percent of Amazon Web Services' customers use its product, which tracks, analyzes and enables individuals to share multicloud spending and usage data with others in the company. Cloudability raised $8.7 million in funding last summer.

Cloud Cruiser

Roseville, Calif.
Dave Zabrowski, Founder, CEO
Tool: Transparent IT Billing in the Cloud

Cloud Cruiser is leading the charge in one of the hottest markets: cloud cost containment. The company, which has venture backing, recently unveiled chargeback/billing software for Windows Server 2012, System Center and Microsoft Azure. Zabrowski previously spent 16 years at Hewlett-Packard, most recently as vice president and general manager of HP's enterprise computer organization.


Tampa, Fla.
Arnie Bellini, Co-Founder, CEO
Tool: Hosted Business Automation Software

ConnectWise is certainly the gold standard for software that helps solution providers run their business, aiding them in selling, managing, implementing, delivering and billing IT products and services to reduce costs. Last year, the company passed the 70,000-user mark. CEO Bellini's vision on what partners need to do to remain successful is one of the company's biggest advantages.


Michael George, CEO
Tool: Managed Services Platform

Backed by Summit Partners, Continuum has developed a gamechanging SaaS platform for MSPs-the company calls it managed services "transformed." Its hosted solution for servers includes the right blend of remote monitoring and management tools backed by 24/7/365 NOC services for a single, unified managed services experience.


San Francisco
Chris Golec, Founder, CEO
Tool: B2B Realtime Targeting, Personalization

Demandbase's realtime identification technology allows companies to see who is visiting their website and then turn those visitors into sales prospects. The company's high-profile investors just put another $15 million into the company, which was founded by Golec in 2006. Golec himself has more than 20 years of experience and a successful entrepreneurial track record, including founding Supplybase, which was acquired by i2 Technologies in 2000.


San Francisco
Drew Houston, Co-Founder, CEO
Tool: Dropbox Cloud Storage File Sharing

Talk about becoming wildly popular in a short amount of time. Dropbox, the six-year-old cloud storage file-sharing service, has raised a whopping $257.2 million in venture financing and currently now has more than 100 million users. Even more mind-boggling: These 100 million users are now uploading more than 1 billion files every 24 hours. The company, co-founded by Houston and CTO Arash Ferdowski, is slated to hold its first developers conference this summer.


Alexander Cutler, Chairman, CEO
Tool: Intelligent Power Software Suite

One of channel power protection/management superstar Eaton's crown jewels, the Intelligent Power Software Suite, is making it easier for solution providers to manage virtualized environments. The company offers all the tools that a solution provider needs to monitor and manage power devices on a customer's network-even in a virtualized environment. Eaton Vice President Herve Tardy has been recognized numerous times by CRN as a top channel sales leader in the annual Top 100 Executives ranking.

Exalt Solutions

Leslie Swanson, CEO
Tool: Configuration Tool for Solution Providers

Exalt Solutions, which is partially owned by CRN parent UBM Tech, has a configuration tool available as a cloud service that dramatically reduces the time it takes for partners to pull together multivendor solutions for customers. Intel took on the product for its server building block solutions last year.

Exchange Defender

Orlando, Fla.
Vlad Mazek, CEO
Tool: Exchange Defender Essentials

Delivering enterprise power at an SMB price tag is Exchange Defender Essentials, which includes everything needed to secure and back up a small business-from Web filtering and file sharing to compliance archiving that meets complex regulatory requirements. Its products are integrated with ConnectWise and Autotask.


Cary, N.C.
Walter Scott, CEO
Tool: GFI MAX RemoteManagement

GFI MAX RemoteManagement, an IT managed services software solution for MSPs and IT support providers, is prized by partners for its ease of use and bang for the buck. Its many awards include CRN Tech Innovator and 5-Star Partner Program Guide honors. One key to the company's success: a strong partnership with Microsoft. Scott previously was at the helm of Acronis.


Milpitas, Calif.
Paul Hooper, CEO
Tool: Network Visibility Software

The company's network visibility software gives service providers a competitive advantage in the big data market. Gigamon CEO Hooper, a former Extreme Networks executive, recently brought on board former Extreme CTO Shehzad Merchant as chief strategy officer. Gigamon's intelligent traffic visibility solutions serve enterprises, data centers and service providers worldwide. Among the members of Gigamon's board are former EMC chairman and CEO Mike Ruettgers and Polycom CEO Andrew Miller.


Palo Alto, Calif.
Meg Whitman, CEO
Tool: Performance Anywhere

A partner differentiator from HP's software portfolio, HP Performance Anywere's SaaS offering is making it easier for solution provider partners to quickly identify application bottlenecks by monitoring applications across the Web, via the cloud and in mobile environments. The product is one of a series of HP IT management products that are driving big profit margins for partners providing "predictive" monitoring for their customers.


Brooklyn, N.Y.
James DeCresenzo, CEO
Tool: iAreaNet Cloud-Based Office System

The company's motto: "Your office just got a whole lot smarter." Smarter indeed, as iAreaNet offers a full cloud-based office system. At the XChange Conference 2013, solution providers voted the company the best newcomer award.And the company has staying power. It was founded in 1999, in the pre-cloud era, as a disaster prevention off-site storage provider.


San Francisco
Gerald Blackie, Chairman, CEO
Tool: Systems/Network Management Software for IT Departments, MSPs

The IT services management platform provider was named for the second consecutive year as a visionary in Gartner's Magic Quadrant for client management tools. It also recently began to offer its tools on an a la carte basis. Blackie has 27 years of experience in the software industry and joined Kaseya in 2003. He also is the founder of Captura Software, sold to Concur Technologies in 2002.

LabTech Software

Tampa, Fla.
Matt Nachtrab, CEO
Tool: Remote Monitoring and Management Solution for MSPs

Credit LabTech Software's CEO for leading the company to channel superstar status with a record-setting growth rate of 176 percent for 2012. The company grew its partner base in 2012 to 2,400 and introduced new mobile device management capability for its systems management software.

Level Platforms

Ottawa, Ontario
Peter Sandiford, CEO
Tool: Managed Workplace

The managed services software provider is a perennial CRN 5-Star Partner Program Guide winner and the company's channel chief, Dan Wensley, is one of the best in the business. Level Platforms' Managed Workplace software product for VARs and IT service providers provides managed services to businesses. The company recently added a Symantec Backup Exec module to its offering. Sandiford founded Level Platforms in 1999.


Michael Simon, CEO
Tool: LogMeIn Rescue Software

The company's success speaks for itself: LogMeIn Rescue software, a gold standard for IT help desks, now has 20 million registered users connecting some 125 million devices. The company's iPad app was recently rated by Time magazine as one of the 50 best. LogMeIn Rescue is used by IT help desks and call centers to provide instant remote support to customers and employees. The company recently named Bill Wagner, former COO of cloud marketing services company Vocus, as its new COO.

Mail Chimp

Ben Chestnut, Co-Founder, CEO
Tool: Online Email Marketing Solution

The company's breakthrough software allows businesses to easily design email newsletters, letting users manage contacts, send emails and track results. More than 3 million people now use the company's software. Mail Chimp added 136 servers in 2012 to keep pace with the 95.33 million emails sent every day through its servers.


Derek Labian, President, CEO
Tool: Cloud storage service

More than a free storage service, MediaFire includes document sharing and e-commerce and support for mobile devices such as Apple iPhones and iPads and Android smartphones and tablets. MediaFire says the cloud service—targeted at businesses, professionals and individuals—is now used by more than 150 million people every month.

N-able Technologies

Ottawa, Ontario
Gavin Garbutt, CEO
Tool: N-Central 9.1

One of the pioneers of the MSP platform business, N-Able continues to innovate at a breakneck pace. The company, which earned a 2012 CRN Tech Innovator award and a CRN 5-Star Partner Program Guide rating this year, recently rolled out new Apple and Android device management functionality. N-Able co founder/CEO Gavin Garbutt is an MSP market visionary. N-able helps MSPs nd IT departments generate immediate ROI & reduced costs by automating tasks through remote monitoring and management automation.


St. Paul, Minn.
Ethan Galstad, Co-Founder, CEO

The company started with a ping—its original network ping tool for NetWare servers that hit the market 21 years ago was a game-changer. The current Nagios IT infrastructure monitoring tool is every bit as vital. The company, which provides enterprise-class open-source monitoring of hosts, services and applications, has a storied history and a bright future.


Marlborough, Mass.
Gerald Labie, CEO Neotys USA
Tool: Web, mobile applications testing

The Neotys pay-as-you-go platform is one of the top tools to test mobile and Web applications. The company this year added HP Cloud Services as a supported platform alongside Amazon, Rackspace and others. Systems integration giant Wipro Technologies is a partner.


San Mateo, Calif.
Zach Nelson, President, CEO
Tool: NetSuite professional services automation/services resource planning software
There is no better cloud-based ERP solution than NetSuite for midmarket customers. No wonder then that its professional services product is winning over solution providers at a rapid clip. It’s a great product from a channel-savvy company with a CRN 5-Star Partner Program Guide rating. Nelson has more than 25 years of experience in high tech industry, where he has held a variety of executive positions at Oracle, Sun Microsystems, and McAfee/Network Associates. Nelson has been CEO of NetSuite since 2002. He was among CRN’s 25 Most Influential Executives in 2012.


San Francisco
Sam Chandler, CEO
Tool: PDF creator
The breakthrough product has made it easier for companies to create, edit and sign PDF documents. Nitro has been a huge time-saver that consistently has earned raves from heavy PDF document users. More than 300,000 companies use the product, including Oracle, Dell and Nike. Chandler is founder of Nitro and has been CEO since late 2007.

Nuance Communications

Burlington, Mass.
Paul Ricci, Chairman, CEO
Tool: Nina virtual agent

The maker of the popular Dragon Naturally Speaking software, Nuance Communications has developed an application called Nina that is changing the customer service industry. The product is heavily used in banking and financial services customers where customers can access their accounts via voice biometrics. The software provides a humanlike virtual agent that users can interact with through text chat.

PlanetSoho USA

San Francisco
Ron Daniel, Founder, CEO
Tool: Online management tools, services for SOHOs

PlanetSoho has staked out the leading position in providing small-office/home-office users with everything they need to run a business. The platform includes cloud storage, email marketing, invoicing templates and legal/financial toolkits. It’s a virtual gold mine for partners servicing the SOHO market.


Bothell, Wash.
Kent McNall, Co-Founder, CEO
Tool: Sales proposal and quoting software

Long considered one of the top quoting software tools, Quosal now offers wWeb based and mobile solutions. One of the company’s big advantages is its integration with all the top platforms from Saleforce.com to QuickBooks. One reason for the company's good moves: McNall is a onetime chess federation president.


Santa Barbara, Calif.
Michael Crandell, CEO
Tool: Cloud Management

One of the leaders in the fast-growing cloud management market with some 5.62 million servers launched from its service, RightScale supports all of the top public and private clouds. The company was the first to resell the Google Compute Engine. Crandell has played a major role in helping to establish openness and transparency in the cloud market.

RapidFire Tools

Mark Winter, Vice President, Sales
Tool: Email2Ticket

The company's innovative software turns emails into service tickets for popular platforms from ConnectWise and Autotask. Partners rave about the dramatic productivity gains from the nifty software tool. File this one under making MSPs more profitable.


San Mateo, Calif.
Vlad Shmunis, Founder, Chairman, CEO
Tool: RingCentral Cloud Business Phone Service

It's a no-brainer: a cloud business based phone system that is priced starting at just $19.99 per month. Distribution giant Ingram Micro added RingCentral to its cloud services portfolio earlier this year. The 14-year-old company is headed up by Shmunis, who launched RingCentral's cloud business phone service in 2003.

RISC Networks

Asheville, N.C.
Jeremy Littlejohn, President, RISC Networks
Tool: MyITAssessment

Think of it as an IQ test for your network-an IT product that scores a network for performance, reliability, scalability and optimization, and security. It's a breakthrough product idea well executed by RISC Networks, a six-year-old business analytics company that has performed more than 2,000 assessments with its online platform. It's a cool tool aimed at providing IT inventory, performance metrics, and a look at how your network stacks up against thousands of others.


San Diego
Santiago Becerra, Chairman, CEO
Tool: Roambi mobile business intelligence solution

Tool: Roambi Mobile Business Intelligence Solution Roambi is a natural for solution providers looking to take a bite out of the big data pie. Roambi turns an Apple iPhone or iPad into a business analytics tool that enables "smart on-the-go decisions"-transforming data from major business intelligence systems into dashboard-style mobile analytics. The company is backed by Sequoia Capital, which gave a venture leg up to both Apple and Oracle. Becerra has more than 20 years of software industry experience.


San Francisco
Mike Smerklo, Chairman, CEO
Tool: Renew OnDemand

A must-have for partners looking to maximize recurring revenue: ServiceSource's Renew OnDemand was designed specifically to improve customer retention. The company, which has $8 billion in recurring revenue under management, boasts that its software ups renewal rates on average by "15 percentage points or more." The company says it is the industry's only cloud application built specifically to maximize recurring revenue.


Sunnyvale, Calif.
Peter Blackmore, CEO
Tool: ShoreTel Sky

A hosted VoIP pioneer, the company's ShoreTel Sky counts more than 2,500 customers using the cloud-based phone system and applications. The company's ShoreTel Sky Communicator, which integrates seamlessly with Microsoft Office, was named one of the most innovative products of 2012 by the CRN Test Center.


Lance Crosby, CEO
Tool: On-Demand Data Center, Hosting Services

Considered one of the most attractive global with a capital "G" cloud infrastructure providers, Softlayer has seven data centers including facilities in Amsterdam and Singapore and a Dallas headquarters operation with 104,500 servers. More than 60 performance-crazed gaming companies moved to Softlayer's high performance platform in the past six months.

Tigerpaw Software

Bellevue, Neb.
James Foxall, CEO
Tool: Tigerpaw

Tigerpaw, which has built robust CRM tools into its professional services automation software, has been embraced by both IT providers and telecom agents as they drive recurring revenue business. Foxall has been a major driver of IT/telecom convergence.


Burlington, Mass.
Bob Brennan, CEO
Tool: SaaS-Based Application Security Testing

Just named one of America's most promising companies by Forbes, Veracode provides a SaaS-based application security testing product. The seven-year-old company was born from a desire to automate application security assessments. Brennan drove big growth at data protection services player Iron Mountain. During his CEO tenure, sales soared from $1.8 billion to $3.1 billion in just six years.


Palo Alto, Calif.
Pat Gelsinger, CEO
Tool: VCenter Operations Management Suite

VMware has upped the ante in the virtualization management market with its own VCenter Operations Management Suite. Partners can earn a whopping 51 percent margin with incentive stacking. For solution providers, this may be one virtualization services windfall too good to refuse.

Zenith InfoTech

Akash Sara, CEO
Tool: TigerCloud Platform for MSPs

The TigerCloud converged infrastructure cloud service is winning over cost-conscious MSPs. One top partner estimates the platform provides enterprise-class functionality at just 30 percent of the cost-with no compromise on performance or reliability. The company just completed a major upgrade to a multitenant architecture.