N-Able outlines new Managed Services road map

Montreal – N-able Technologies Inc. has had a good year, and as the Ottawa-based firm welcomed its managed service provider customers to its annual partner summit here, it had quite a lot to tell them about plans for the coming year.

“The business is doing exceptionally well,” Gavin Garbutt, N-able’s founder and chief executive, told CDN. “We don’t have a single bad metric in the business.” Garbutt said N-able’s partners are doing well because they are moving from reselling hardware and software to providing managed services, which gives them a continuous revenue stream. It also helps that small and medium businesses are adopting managed services more readily than ever before, he said.

Related Story: MSP tips for growth from N-able CEO

The company has gone from 19,000 small and medium businesses served with its platform in early 2010 to its customers now serving 78,000 businesses. Garbutt ascribed its success to an emphasis on support and helping its MSP partners recruit customers and serve them efficiently.N-able told the MSPs assembled in Montreal that in the next few months version 9.1 of its N-central platform, which MSPs use to provide managed services to their customers, will move from beta to formal release.

N-central 9.1 includes the much-awaited Mobile Device Management, which Chris Reid, an N-able product manager, said will allow MSPs to track “a lot of very useful, granular hardware information” about the smartphones and tablets that are growing more and more common. In a product demo he showed how MDM will track information such as a device’s make and model, phone number, carrier, warranty and storage capacity, and administrators will be able to lock stolen devices and delete their data when required.That feature seemed to go over well. “I like the ability for us to manage the mobile devices,” said Bill Boisvenue, president of Toronto-area MSP BSC Solutions Group Ltd. And Greg Michetti, president of Michetti Information Solutions Inc. in Edmonton, said the influx of iPhones and Androids into workplaces is a major concern. “Devices that move around like that are a lot more difficult to manage,” said Michetti.The new release also improves integration with professional services automation (PSA) software such as ConnectWise and Autotask. Reid admitted MSPs told the company previous releases of N-central caused them problems because they weren’t flexible enough. He said the revamped software will give them much more control of how they handle trouble tickets.

N-able also said it plans to connect its Report Manager to leading PSA software to create summaries to show MSPs and their customers how issues are being handled. Report Manager 4.0, now in beta, is due for general availability in January. Report Manager 4.1, coming next summer, will add “more information about your PSA environment and how technicians are resolving issues,” said Robert Grapes, director of product management.

By spring of 2013 N-able plans to release N-central 9.1. A key feature of this release will be hosted patch management. “This is about removing your dependence or your reliance on WSUS,” Grapes said, referring to Microsoft Corp.’s Windows Server Update Services. The software will also support third-party patches. N-central 9.1 will also integrate anti-virus capability from BitDefender, a Romanian company with which N-able has just announced an alliance.

Grapes said N-able plans to release N-Connect 10.0 around the end of 2013, incorporating “information at a glance,” tools for managing “reactive” customer relationships in which the MSP’s role is primarily to respond to customer requests rather than actively monitoring and managing customer systems, and RAMP, which will integrate N-able’s MSP Runbook – a guide to providing managed services effectively – into the software. “We actually incorporate it into the whole technology and service delivery,” said Garbutt.

Mike Cullen, N-able’s senior vice-president of sales, told CDN that along with mobile device management and reporting tools, efficiency in automating services is an important feature for new customers.

“I think automation is going to be the key to the people that win this space,” he said.

Boisvenue said automation is a key theme for him. BSC’s technicians have a big job to keep up with customers’ needs, he said, and the tools N-able is delivering help.The focus in 2013 will be on strengthening the software’s core capabilities to deliver a deeper and richer technician experience, said Grapes. “We’ve heard it loud and clear: Get back to our core business.”

The company continues to build on the Freemium Strategy that began with the launch of N-central Essentials, a stripped-down version of its software that MSPs can use to get in the door with new customers. It announced deals that will give MSPs free licenses for Mobile Device Management and its new PSA reporting modules.

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