At this point, about 18 months later, you would have been living in a cave if you are involved in the SMB channel and had not heard that Zenith Infotech’s managed services business unit was spun off as a separate entity known as Continuum. Based in Boston, the company, in which VC firm Summit Partners has made a sizable investment, Continuum (formerly known as Zenith RMM), operates as a strong U.S.-based company that is continually focused on its MSPs and helping them to better their lives—both professionally and personally.
Since I wanted to catch up with Continuum on its “State of the Union,” as it has made several announcements in the last year, I had the opportunity to speak with Michael George, the company’s CEO, as well as Steve Ricketts, Continuum’s VP of Marketing.
In speaking with both George and Ricketts, they quickly squelched any previous rumors and gossip that there is any question regarding Continuum’s viability. Of course he is referring to the fact that Zenith Infotech, the parent company of which Continuum was spun off of, has been in the news lately in India (where its headquarters are based). “One of the big issues that is on many people’s minds is that because of our history with Zenith (Infotech), and that they have been in the news, is that there’s a concern regarding the viability of the company (Continuum),” George said. “I think by now, most people know that we are not related to Zenith—we are two completely separate companies--and we have come out with a very aggressive road map in the first year, which has validated us a company. We have made massive investments all across the board, and with Continuum owned by Summit Partners, there is no question regarding their financial horsepower to drive these investments and initiatives.”
In making this statement, George is not just referring to Continuum’s strong financials, he also is speaking to the fact that Continuum is constantly adding new staff, opened a new headquarters building in Boston last September, and has also developed several products, initiatives and joint partnerships to further not only its business model, but also that of its partners.
Some of our readers might remember when, at the beginning of the year, Continuum launched a new product called Continuum BDR Revive. Designed to essentially “revive” existing BDR appliances, BDR Revive is a BDR re-imaging tool that upgrades Zenith Infotech, Dell AppAssure, Axcient, HEROWare, Chartec and other BDR hardware that meets minimum hardware requirements into Continuum Vault appliances.
Continuum made a “double dip” announcement in December 2011 in that it was rebranding itself from Zenith RMM to Continuum; the company also added a new product known as Continuum Vault for its MSP partners. Continuum Vault is a complete end-to-end business continuity product that offers protection, instant virtualization, cloud-based replication and recovery, and full monitoring and management support at a competitive fixed monthly price per protected server or desktop. “We have made it available at no cost to convert Zenith appliances, and then back that up into a viable cloud,” George said. “And partners are moving over by the thousands…literally thousands have been converted into Vault by using our BDR Revive product.”
As recently as a couple of weeks ago, Continuum announced that ProSource, a provider of office technology and business solutions, announced its decision to standardize on Continuum. As a result, ProSource acquired another Continuum partner, Infitech, which is known as a networking managed services partner providing everything from Digium Phone Systems to Microsoft Office 365 support. The acquisition is another example of how Continuum and its partners are forward-thinking—two MSPs coming together to provide converged telephony and managed services to their SMB customers.
Other initiatives that Continuum has currently set its sights on include marketing, education and philanthropy. Regarding marketing, the company recently announced, about a month ago, its new Marketing Advantage program, which was developed as a result of input from its MSP partner base. The program goes beyond traditional approaches of its kind to offer a systematic process that is tailored to the unique marketing requirements of MSPs. According to Continuum, Marketing Advantage is a “set-it-and-forget it” system that is available already implemented and customized for each MSP’s specific needs.
Both George and Ricketts added that the company has hired additional staff to manage the new Marketing Advantage program. “It’s the first of its kind of program, there are other things like this that are available to MSPs on more of a coaching level, but no one has ever offered a best practices white label content,” George said. “It’s a ground-breaking program, and it was completely driven by our partners requesting a program for better sales and marketing support.”
Separate from additional hires to staff the Marketing Advantage program in Boston, George also discussed Continuum’s service desk operations, based out of Pennsylvania; that department, in and of itself, has nearly doubled in staff in the last four or five months. He proudly added that many of these hires are military veterans, which offered a fitting segue way into our next discussion topic, which is the Continuum Veterans Foundation.
Established in July 2012, the Continuum Veterans Foundation is a Massachusetts-based non-profit organization. As the primary donor, Continuum has pledged to direct 8% of all new revenue from service desk offerings to the foundation in order to donate to national and local nonprofits that focus on helping veterans find jobs. In addition, George added that more than 20 percent of Continuum’s Service Desk employees are veterans. Of course, this piqued my interest, considering I had just mentioned to George, earlier in our conversation, how each day, I find myself speaking more and more to our community member who are military veterans. To learn more about this program, go to: http://www.hire-our-heroes.org/.
We also discussed education within the channel, namely the MSPtv brand, which Continuum gained as part of the spin off in 2011. As someone who previously hosted a monthly talk show for MSPtv when I was Editor of another channel publication, I wanted to learn more about what Continuum plans to do with this brand. Ricketts noted that currently, MSPtv is being used mostly for partner education, as part of Continuum University, and that it recently made an investment in a new MSPtv studio located at the Boston headquarters; this includes a full green-screen HD studio and new video cameras. Both he and George also noted that Continuum would not rule out the possibility of again adding some additional external content and programming into the mix.
“MSPtv is very much alive, and we are currently utilizing it to educate our partners,” George said. “We are also exploring the idea of bringing in some of the previous TV-type show formats and hosted programs with different publications, and we are definitely looking at that in the future as a possibility.”