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Managed services isn’t a channel panacea, says Kaseya

IT automation software Kaseya says managed services are a growth opportunity, but partners should be flexible with their models

Kaseya has a two-tiered channel program for VARs, but the company says it sees channel partners as its customers as well.

Based in St. Helier, Jersey and with operations worldwide, Kaseya is a provider of IT automation software for IT solution providers and public sector IT organizations. The company has a channel program but Don Shapero, vice-president of marketing with Kaseya, says they also see the channel as customers.

“We help a solution provider or services provider integrator set up a managed service provider (MSP) practice,” said Shapero. “We tend to call them our customers as opposed to partners. Obviously we have a partnership relationship with them, because we’re all in it for their success.”

The company has a two-tiered reseller program with gold and platinum tiers, but Shapero says Kaseya doesn’t move a lot of business through its VAR program. Some 80 per cent of Kaseya’s revenue does still come through the channel though, says Shapero, primarily through its IT MSP program.

“It’s a program to make it really easy for the channel partner to get into managed services,” said Shapero.

The program is designed to help a partner to become an MSP without a large, up-front capital investment. Pricing is based on fixed tiers of seat levels, with the per seat price decreasing as the seat level increases. The payment schedule includes a down payment and monthly installments, and is a one-time license fee with no annual or subscription fees. The goal, says Kaseya, is to limit upfront costs and make the investment manageable by spreading it over time.

Shapero adds the vendor’s emPower program also provides technical and education support, toolkits, sample price sheets and best practice documentation to help partners get their MSP programs off the ground.

Competitors to Kaseya would include companies such as Enable and Level Platforms, but Shapero says what sets Kaseya apart is its approach to managed IT services, namely introducing the element of automation.

“There’s perception in the market that we’re all the same, and that it’s all remote monitoring and management tools,” said Shapero. “We like to view ourselves as an IT automation platform. There’s a distinct difference in our eyes in how you deliver the IT services.”

It’s not just about being able to fix things remotely when they go wrong, says Shapero. It’s about automating things such as patch updates and other remediation so they can happen proactively before something goes wrong, or pushing-out state changes across an install base, and integrating all of that with remote management.

“That’s a big productivity gain,” said Shapero.

However, while there’s a lot of attention being paid to the managed services model today, Shapero says partners should always decide what the best delivery model is for each customer and each use case.

“A lot of time VARs look to managed services like it’s a panacea and it does give them a great opportunity to have a better relationship with their customers, but only under the appropriate circumstances,” said Shapero. “There’s times we would recommend they offer software or service for resale rather than managed services through an (service level agreement).”

It’s not just looking at the margins, says Shapero, but when it’s appropriate more MSPs should look at resale. As the market matures, he says he expects to see more content and availability around the variability of models, going MSP or break-fix as appropriate.

“There’s still great opportunity in a managed services market that isn’t anywhere near penetrated,” said Shapero. “However, at the same time there needs to be a balanced perspective. Let’s not forget there’s an opportunity out there to resell as well.”

Shapero says Kaseya has been achieving record revenues in North America and has recently expanded its Canadian presence, adding a number of experienced sales professionals to its Ottawa-based sales organization.