The 10 Biggest Managed Services Stories Of 2015

Managed Services Go To The Cloud

Managed service providers have sought out more applications around the cloud and telecom through acquisitions, partnerships and organic practices to better differentiate themselves and avoid commoditization.

Meanwhile, data center and print suppliers have pursued deeper ties with MSPs through acquisitions or partner programs to increase client spend and appeal to a broader set of customers, while private equity has sought out a greater stake in firms with access to MSPs.

Professional service automation (PSA) and remote monitoring and management (RMM) vendors have, meanwhile, sought out new capabilities through acquisitions, fully integrated recent acquisitions into a single offering and brought on new leadership to improve relations with MSPs.

Read on to discover the biggest managed services stories of 2015. If you missed it, be sure to take a look back at the rest of the best of 2015 with CRN.

10. Managed Services Fuel Solution Providers To Morph

A desire to grow managed services wallet share prompted some corporate siblings to come together and others to split apart.

Warwick R.I.-based Atrion Networking Corp. merged with sister company Atrion Corp. of Flemington, N.J. to build more managed services and cloud-based offerings and make it so that half of overall revenue is coming from services. The combined company is No. 205 on the 2015 CRN Solution Provider 500.

And Teterboro, N.J.-based Computer Design & Integration (CDI), No. 80 on the CRN SP 500, announced in December plans to spin off data center-focused joint venture CDI Southeast to focus on its core managed services and hybrid cloud businesses.

9. ConnectWise to Integrate Professional Services Offerings

ConnectWise announced in November that it will bring its professional service automation (PSA), remote monitoring and management (RMM), remote connect and quote and proposal technologies onto a single user interface to minimize hassle and save partners time and money.

The Tampa, Fla.-based vendor said it has already brought together the support, education and consulting teams for the various products - three of which were acquired recently - to ensure MSPs can have all of their needs addressed in a single place.

ConnectWise is also launching a full-court press in the United Kingdom and Australia to grow foreign operations to half of overall sales from less than 30 percent today.

8. MSPs Join Forces to Grow Market Share

Smaller MSPs across the Northeastern U.S. came together over 2015 to gain the scale needed to have a stronger presence or better reach within their region.

New York-based MSP Brightstack Technologies merged with New York-based systems integrator Computer Integrated Systems in March to build a broader breadth of capabilities and geographic reach.

Mount Arlington, N.J.-based Exigent Technologies acquired Lake Hopatcong, N.J.-based Information Architects in February to gain scale and technical capabilities around enterprise projects and higher-end infrastructure implementations.

And Washington, D.C.-based MSP eGuard Technology Services acquired fellow MSP NewTeq Computer Services in January to add new SMB customers and expand its geographic reach to the fast-growing Frederick, Md., area.

7. Legacy Data Center Firms Dive Into Managed Services

IT mainstays are looking to move beyond the data center by rolling out programs tailored to MSPs.

APC by Schneider Electric announced plans in May to launch a managed services offering backed by up new software services aimed at driving recurring revenue for partners. This will enable partners to go beyond traditional power protection hardware and into data center power and cooling services.

Phoenix-based distributor Avnet launched a cloud marketplace that allows MSPs to customize offerings by both reselling Avnet cloud products and adding their own services to the catalog. The monthly subscription fee is $1,500, and there is a 2 percent to 2.5 percent fee for custom products sold through the marketplace.

6. Private Equity Jumps In To Fund MSP-Oriented Deals

Companies supporting the managed services space got new private equity owners this year to fuel their acquisition-related growth.

SolarWinds, the parent of Ottawa, Ontario-based remote monitoring and management company N-able, was bought for $4.5 billion by Silver Lake and Thoma Bravo. N-Able has been active on the M&A front as well, buying cloud-based service management firm Capzure technology in August and remote access and support vendor BeAnywhere in October.

Irvine, Calif.-based MSP Synoptek, meanwhile, was acquired by private equity firm Sverica Capital Management in November, nine months after buying cloud provisioning and automation firm Pay Per Cloud of Sacramento and startup specialist Rocket Science Consulting of San Francisco.

5. Autotask Surges With Core Platform, File Sharing Acquisition

Autotask intends to triple its core IT management business between 2015 and 2019 by leveraging its new user interface and private equity investment from Vista Equity Partners, CEO Mark Cattini said in January.

The East Greenbush, N.Y.-based professional services automation (PSA) vendor dove into the cloud-based, file-storage-and-sharing space by acquiring San Jose, Calif.-based Soonr in July.

And the company said in September it will differentiate itself by integrating Soonr and remote monitoring and management tool CentraStage – which was acquired in September 2014 – in a way that uses analytics and new tools to drive additional value.

4. Kaseya Reboots With New CEO, Improved MSP Relationships

New Kaseya CEO Fred Voccola (pictured) admitted in July that the Boston-based remote monitoring and management (RMM) vendor had ’lost its way’ with MSPs over the past several years by failing to properly communicate investments and changes that the company had been making.

Voccola, who replaced Yogesh Gupta in the top spot, said he would do this by launching a new, massive outreach program, an industry relationship program and by better understanding the needs of MSPs.

The changes are beginning to work, Voccola said in November, with Kaseya creating a new C-level position – chief customer officer -, boosting revenue and adding more than 300 MSPs in the most recent quarter.

3. MSPs Get Cloud-Savvy Through Acquisitions

Managed service providers moved to differentiate themselves in 2015 by acquiring specialized cloud-focused capabilities.

Jersey City, N.J.-based Datapipe, No. 140 on the CRN SP 500, bought Santa Monica, Calif.-based DualSpark in September to help customers migrate legacy applications to AWS, and purchased San Francisco-based GoGrid in January to help customers roll out big data solutions in the cloud.

Wichita, Kansas-based Cybertron, meanwhile, bought cloud services firm ITKansas in September; Birmingham, Ala.-based TekLinks, No. 176 on the SP 500, purchased outsourced cloud services provider Claris Networks in May; and Toronto-based Quartet Service acquired Office 365 configuration specialist En Vogue Computers in February.

2. Managed Services Converge With Print, Telecom

Printing and telecom vendors are looking to grow their presence in the managed services space to increase customer spend.

Japanese printing behemoth Konica Minolta launched a Canadian managed services practice in September by acquiring Brampton, Ontario-based IT Weapons, No. 495 on the CRN SP 500, and entered the Houston market with U.S. managed services subsidiary All Covered, No. 154 on the SP 500, by purchasing the Techcess Group in May.

Master agent Intelisys revved up its managed services practice in October by signing Portland, Ore.-based MSP Bigleaf Networks as a supplier partner and naming Clifton Park, N.Y.-based Subsidium Technologies as its first Platinum Plus partner as a reward for reaching $1.5 million in monthly recurring revenue.

1. Six Elite MSPs Selected for AWS Managed Services Program

Amazon Web Services in March named the first six solution providers it certified to offer managed services as part of a new partner program.

The six managed service providers forming the inaugural AWS class were 2nd Watch, Cascadeo, Datapipe, Day1 Solutions, RightBrain Networks and Smartronix. All six next-gen partners demonstrated operational and security mastery to a third party auditor.

The program was designed to offer enterprise customers a better means of selecting MSPs with the expertise to migrate and manage their workloads in the cloud. Since March, Amazon has provided these partners with guidance in developing their managed services practices.