The 10 Biggest Managed Services Trends Of 2016 (So Far)

From HIPAA Compliance to Internal Threat Detection

The cloud continues to drive innovation in the managed services arena, with vendors launching the first cloud-based identity tool, major cloud players planning to enter the market and more.

Some vendors have developed MSP-oriented offerings around HIPAA compliance and internal threat detection, while others are launching managed services programs or working to narrow the gap between professional services automation and remote monitoring and management.

MSPs, meanwhile, have made vendor-focused acquisitions, hired key executives and changed their name to drive more managed services growth. Here are the coolest managed services trends so far in 2016.

(For more on the "coolest" of 2016, check out "CRN's Tech Midyear In Review.")

MSP Rebrands to Focus On Its Honesty And Candor

After 23 years as Synergy Development Consulting, the Miramar, Fla.-based managed service provider rebranded itself in January as Forthright Technology Partners. The new name is derived from what the company says is one of its biggest drawing cards: honesty.

Customer feedback focused chiefly on the company's honesty and candor, with one customer saying, "They always tell me the truth, even when it hurts." The company said honesty is an attribute the company has embodied from its inception and one that will not fall out of style.

With the advent of the cloud, analysts say many MSPs have changed their names and rebranded from an "old school" IT orientation to focus on a more consultative approach to customer engagement.

Insight Leverages Managed Services To Give SMB Clients More Cloud Access

Insight Enterprise's Modern Workforce Solutions enable small and midsize businesses to outsource a portion of their IT to Insight so that they can focus on using the cloud to achieve core business objectives.

The company, No. 15 on the 2016 CRN Solution Provider 500, uses Microsoft Office 365 as the foundation to deliver Modern Workforce Solutions as a managed service.

The solution bundle allows small and midsize businesses to experience around-the-clock U.S.-based support, mailbox migration services, an expanded administrative dashboard, and IT administration of Microsoft cloud solutions by Insight's experts.

The program also provides customers with flexible monthly billing and allows them to scale seat count up or down on a monthly basis.

Carousel Makes Key Exec Hire, Acquisition To Drive Managed Services Growth

In anticipation of market growth in managed services and cloud-based IT consumption models, Carousel Industries, No. 64 on the 2016 CRN SP 500, in February hired veteran Rich Montefusco (pictured) as its vice president of managed services.

In his role at Carousel, Montefusco is tasked with creating and delivering managed services to meet rapidly evolving customer needs. In his four years at Global Convergence and Pangaia Partners, Montefusco focused on helping Cisco Gold partners achieve cloud and managed services certifications.

In June, Carousel acquired Atrion, No. 196 on the 2016 CRN SP 500, which has a robust managed services practice around Cisco. Both Carousel and Atrion report seeing impressive growth in their cloud and managed services practices.

Kaseya Launches Cloud-Based Identity And Access Management Tool

Kaseya's AuthAnvil On-Demand cloud-based identity and access management (IAM) offering lets MSPs enable their customers to gain authenticated access and secure access to both on-premise and cloud applications from virtually any device.

The offering incorporates a Universal Directory that allows MSPs to manage their IAM needs in a standard and consistent fashion while supporting the mix of directory management technologies deployed in their customer base.

In addition to Universal Directory, the AuthAnvil On-Demand authentication suite also consists of multifactor authentication and single sign-on. It is deployed on the Microsoft Azure cloud.

RapidFire Unveils Internal Threat-Detection Tool For MSPs

RapidFire Tools introduced a software appliance dubbed Detector that can allow MSPs to more easily identify internal threats to their clients' networks.

The appliance uses machine learning to help automatically scan a company's network, searching for suspicious, anomalous user behavior and unexpected network changes. Detector also sends daily email alerts to the MSP detailing what it uncovers and suggesting how the MSP can respond.

Detector uses a combination of machine learning and intelligent tagging to notify an MSP of anomalies, changes and threats, the company said. It can more intelligently create security alerts and rank risks as either high, medium or low, based on the perceived severity.

Health-Care MSPs Now Have HIPAA Tool

MSPs that serve small health-care practices received a tool in February to help them with potential federal audits under HIPAA.

The HIPAA Help Center from Ingenium Professional Services is a custom-built tool that enables practices to become HIPAA-compliant quickly and easily. The help center includes real-time, task-based risk assessment; audit-ready reporting; incident response management; easy-to-follow training; and a $100,000 insurance policy to protect the business.

Ingenium said the help center will assist MSPs that are not experts on HIPAA but are performing risk assessments on behalf of their clients.

Autotask, ConnectWise Drive Further Convergence Of PSA, RMM Capabilities

Autotask in April deployed a unified IT business management platform, combining PSA and RMM capabilities to provide real-time asset management and consolidated analytics for devices and services activity.

In contrast to PSA-RMM integrations that provide a limited alert-to-service-incident workflow, Autotask said its unified platform delivers real-time, bi-directional synchronization and reporting for improved efficiency and business insight.

ConnectWise, meanwhile, is working to create a unified framework and interface for all four of its products so that they all look the same from a design perspective. LabTech, a division of ConnectWise, said in June that it is planning to integrate more ConnectWise capabilities into its RMM tool so that technicians can do common PSA actions without ever having to leave the program.

Two IT Service Management Superpowers Join Forces

SolarWinds purchased LogicNow in June and is combining it with SolarWinds N-Able, LogicNow's remote monitoring and management competitor, to boost capabilities and scale.

The infrastructure management vendor said its acquisition of LogicNow will provide it with a complete portfolio of automation, security, network management and service management capabilities for MSPs. The deal will create a behemoth with 20 offices in 11 countries that serve some 20,000 MSPs.

The acquisition was backed by a consortium of investors led by New York-based private equity giant Insight Venture Partners. Silver Lake and Thoma Bravo said they planned to up SolarWinds' investment around cloud, hybrid and MSP environments when they purchased the vendor in October.

New APC Managed Services Program Aims To Drive Recurring Revenue Sales Growth

A new managed services program from UPS and power management giant APC by Schneider Electric is aimed at driving more recurring revenue for partners.

The program, which officially launched May 10, includes a new managed services certification, market development funds and an 8 percent discount for bundling APC Smart-UPS, network card and one- or three-year extended warranty.

With the new program, APC has integrated its Smart-UPS power management and monitoring into managed services platforms such as ConnectWise, N-Able, Kaseya and AVG. The managed services platforms provide partners with the ability to monitor an installed base of as many as 3 million APC-Smart UPS devices.

Amazon Web Services Poised To Enter Cloud Managed Services Market

Amazon Web Services is working on a new offering that could compete with its managed service provider partners by enabling large enterprise customers to manage and monitor their public cloud workloads in a self-service fashion, multiple sources told CRN in April.

The product, code-named Sentinel, involves a set of automated tools that handle some of the functions currently provided by AWS MSP partners, according to the sources. MSPs that build businesses around migrating, managing and automating enterprise workloads on the AWS cloud told CRN they're concerned Sentinel could compete with their own offerings.

AWS has told MSPs that it plans to sell Sentinel to only a handful of its largest customers.