I spent three great days last week with Kaseya and its user community. The experience was eye-opening in many ways.

A bit of background: EMA considers Kaseya a systems management provider, and as such they are usually covered by my colleagues Steve Brasen and Torsten Volk. However, this year for a couple of different reasons we decided I would go to their annual event, and I’m glad I did.

Kaseya has a rich ecosystem of customers and vendors, and in particular serves the Managed Services Provider (MSP) market. MSP is a broad term, and I can’t say I understand the MSP market completely, but about 70% of the conference attendees were from MSPs who support (in general) small and medium sized business with their IT needs. The foundation for these services is end user computing, which is where Kaseya has focused with its systems management and automation offerings: agent-based management, IT inventory, monitoring, patching, policy, remote control, ticketing, time tracking, automation, and related solutions.

Upon this foundation, Kaseya is building into the IT service management space. They are making inroads into the data center via their agents and automation, and have the requisite general-purpose workflow engine underpinning core ITSM processes such as Incident and Change. Even more interestingly, they also are exploring some areas of IT resource management and planning that are quite promising from an “IT business management” perspective.

As always, I spent considerable time on the show floor talking to vendors. Everyone for the most part was selling to the MSPs: “our solution will help you gain/maintain customers.” I talked to a variety of providers represented, including:

  • Storage and backup providers such as Vembu, Doyenz, HEROWare, and Axcient
  • Security and antivirus providers Symantec
  • Platform heavyweights Intel and Cisco, about their MSP-relevant offerings
  • Consulting firms AntFarm and the Juran Institute (fascinating continuous improvement conversation with the guys from Juran. They are the real deal, the inheritors of the firm Juran founded.)
  • And finally, the Professional Services Automation (PSA) vendors AutoTask, TigerPaw, and Connectwise – more on them below.

The PSA vendors were eye-opening. These are the vendors that sell integrated management software to the MSPs; essentially, they are the ERP systems for the IT managed services provider. A thorough examination would be lengthy, but here are a few key points:

  • They all had integrated support for project and ticketed work on a common time tracking and resource management capability – what I believe to be the essential core of next generation IT management.
  • None of them seemed to care at all about IT service management terminology or ITIL certification
  • They are rarely if ever used by large internal IT shops, although (interestingly) they mentioned that they are increasingly selling to state governments and educational institutions. This makes sense; these are highly federated environments.

As I continue exploring themes of IT business management, I’ll be paying much more attention to the MSPs. Unlike their internal IT brethren who may just give lip service to “IT as a business,” these are organizations that live and die by it. Kaseya’s strength in the channel ecosystem positions it well to leverage the insights of this base, and I am predicting that this in turn will have impact well beyond “the channel.”

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