MSPs are becoming the gatekeepers to the cloud: N-able

SCOTTSDALE, AZ. — As cloud computing begins to move from hype to reality, IT service automation platform vendor N-able says it sees managed service providers (MSP) becoming the gatekeepers to the cloud for their clients in the small and medium-sized business space.

Speaking with CDN at Autotask’s annual Community Live conference, Derik Belair, vice-president of marketing and business development with Ottawa-based N-able, said a lot of the MSPs they work with are looking to develop their cloud strategies. They’re looking at cloud providers, seeing how cloud services can fit in with the services they already provide their customer, and particularly looking at the cloud and mobility.

“We’ve had great uptake for our (Mobile Device Management module),” said Belair. “Partners are seeing a lot of bring your own device (BYOD) and customers are wondering what their cloud strategy should be, and how to pull it all together.”

N-able has also launched its Automation Manager, which Belair said MSPs can use as a sort of “cloud orchestrator” to monitor and manage both physical and cloud-based infrastructure for their clients, and automate routine tasks such as cloud provisioning, spinning-up virtual environments, and issuing passwords.

“A lot of our partners are in effect becoming cloud administrators for their customers,” said Belair. “They need to manage both physical and virtual infrastructure.”

The cloud conversation has come down to Earth in recent years. While a few years ago, some saw all IT operations moving to the cloud, now it’s being viewed somewhat more strategically. Partners are beginning to offer selected cloud services in areas where it makes sense for their customers, such as cloud-based backup and recovery. The goal, said Belair, needs to be simplification, and the MSP needs to be concerned with standardization as well.

“From Salesforce to Exchange Server to cloud backup to a private cloud, the MSP is the gatekeeper,” said Belair. “From our perspective, the MSP becomes much more relevant. It’s not just managing infrastructure. The complexity is certainly there, and SMBs are looking to their MSPs to help them out.”

And mobile device management (MDM) is another area customers are looking for help from their MSPs, added Marco LaVecchia, N-able’s director of sales for North America.

“Customers are now adopting (MDM),” said LaVecchia. “They’re starting to see it’s critical to have someone manage that device and reset the password if necessary, and we expect phenomenal adoption in the next year.”

While many vendors are jumping into the MDM space, from virtualization and security vendors to stand-alone players, Belair added it was important to N-able to offer an MDM solution integrated into its management platform, to keep it simpler for its MSP customers. It’s also an opportunity for partners to go deeper with their clients.

“When we look at all these new products, the idea is to help the MSP own the entire customer relationship, and limit any competitors from coming in and limiting their recurring revenue,” said Belair. “I think we’ve done a pretty good job of that so far.”

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Jeff Jedras
Jeff Jedras
A veteran technology and business journalist, Jeff Jedras began his career in technology journalism in the late 1990s, covering the booming (and later busting) Ottawa technology sector for Silicon Valley North and the Ottawa Business Journal, as well as everything from municipal politics to real estate. He later covered the technology scene in Vancouver before joining IT World Canada in Toronto in 2005, covering enterprise IT for ComputerWorld Canada. He would go on to cover the channel as an assistant editor with CDN. His writing has appeared in the Vancouver Sun, the Ottawa Citizen and a wide range of industry trade publications.

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