It’s been a tremendously busy week in the IT world. We’re going to start with IT Slowdown Day. You may have noticed some of your connections taking longer to load on Wednesday. This was the result of a one-day protest by many popular websites, including Mozilla, Netflix, Vimeo and our friends at AVG, who displayed a number of symbolic “loading” graphics to show you what your Internet might look like if the big Cable companies win the right to extort companies by constricting bandwidth. The goal of the protest was to encourage you to contact lawmakers and tell them to support Net Neutrality before the FCC’s Sept. 15 deadline for public comments. This is an issue that should be near and dear to your hearts. After all, how many new clients are you – an IT expert – going to land if every prospect visiting your website has to wait while your site loads? Either you don’t know how to build a website or you aren’t big and successful enough to pay for decent bandwidth. Either way you are screwed. You can find out more at https://www.battleforthenet.com/.
Autotask finally adds RMM with CentraStage
Not too long ago speculation was rife about Autotask and RMM. Connectwise picked up Labtech, Kaseya got acquired and private equity bought into N-Able. As someone working at Level Platforms at the time I recall many conversations about the way the professional services automation market seemed to be following the same evolutionary path Enterprise Resource Planning systems did. Essentially we expected to be using Autotask business cards before too long. Then AVG acquired LPI and East Greenbush, NY-based Autotask was left without an RMM option. So what were they going to do? We continued to speculate, as did many others in the industry, but nothing happened. Nothing happened for so long that the conversation went from who-will-they to will-they to have-they-missed-the-boat?
This week they finally did, picking up UK-based cloud RMM player CentraStage – possibly kicked into motion by the company’s new paymasters, Vista Equity Partners (which bought Autotask in June). Autotask and CentraStage already have a relationship, with CentraStage being one of 20 RMM packages integrated into Autotask’s PSA platform, and so over the past couple of years an increasing degree of intimacy has developed. According to Autotask, those other integrations will not change in any way and MSPs who rely on them won’t suffer, but the CentraStage acquisition – which is expected to close within three week – will drive a much deeper integration and introduce increased management capabilities. For example, customers who work with both companies will be able to receive a single invoice and engage with a single support team. The exact nature of those technology integrations are still being worked out.
WAN-as-a-service startup, VeloCloud, launches first partner program
Los Altos, Calif.-based VeloCloud launched its first channel partner program. The startup recently raised $21 million in financing and is using some of that money to kick start is sales efforts – effort the company says will be entirely channel-based. Thus the new VeloCloud Partner Program is aimed at MSPs and IT solution providers who want to deliver cloud-based WANs to midsize and large enterprise customers. The VeloCloud technology is designed to extend the benefits of cloud and virtualization to the enterprise or branch office WAN. To start with, VeloCloud is recruiting partners with footprint in specific vertical markets, including retail, hospitality, engineering, and mining and gas. Like most partner programs, the VeloCloud iteration will be tiered (Platinum, Gold and Silver) with perks like MDF and discounts improving as partners move up the ranks based on their VeloCoud sales volumes.
Xerox gets friendly with the channel
Xerox wants to be more channel-friendly and in keeping with that the Norwalk, Conn.-based printer vendor rolled out a series of changes to its hardware, software and services lines that it hopes will help drive partner revenues. Traditionally, Xerox has earned a reputation for neglecting the channel in favor of its direct sales efforts – this despite the fact that the channel accounts for more than 50 percent of the company’s sales. According to John Corley, who took over as Xerox’s channel chief just a few days earlier, the company wants to see that number climb into the 65-70 percent range.
ConnectKey 1.5 --Xerox is adding four new printers to the ConnectKey platform. The new A4 devices are a direct response to demand from partners.
Personalized Application Builder – A new Authorized Developer Program will extend the company’s Personal Application Builder beyond ISVs to include channel partners. Going forward Xerox's 10,000-odd channel partners will be able to build custom applications for their customers and become certified to sell those applications to other partners.
Xerox PageConnect Services – Xerox PageConnect Services is expanding. Managed print services is definitely making a splash in the market and this program, which Xerox first announced in April as a MPS-oriented rebrand of its Basic Print Services, is designed to provide a way for channel partners to provide related Xerox offerings.
Xerox Small Office Savings Plan – This innovative new plan (Xerox claims it’s the first of its kind) channel partners can give SMB customers a free printer if they sign up for a plan that will deliver consumable supplies like toner and paper and services for a monthly fee ranging from $59 to $149.