Five Disruptive Technologies for MSPs

I lifted the headline for this blog entry from a presentation David Strom delivered this morning at the MSP Alliance conference in San Jose. So, what were the five disruptive technologies? Three of them were obvious, but David caught my ear with his analysis of the other two — and some timely perspective on Microsoft Small Business Server.

First up on David’s list of five disruptive MSP technologies were storage and security. Hardly surprising. Plenty of companies now offer storage and security as managed services. And you can expect more offerings to emerge soon. One prime example: Symantec Protection Network launches within a few weeks, first with storage components and within a few months with security capabilities.

Number three on David’s list was voice over IP. This one really struck a nerve with conference attendees. I was surprised by the number of solutions providers in the room who remain skeptical of managed VoIP services for small and midsize businesses. David made an excellent point about the growing popularity of Asterisk, the open source telephony platform. And he noted that even Microsoft — with Live Communication Server — is pushing into the market.

Despite much skepticism in the room, I agree with David: VoIP is one of the key technologies MSPs have to watch, and potentially embrace.

Number four on his list was server monitoring. From where I sit, that’s a basic check mark for MSP offerings.

Finally, he threw in instant messaging. This opportunity caught my ear. MSPmentor’s parent, Microcast Communications, has about 15 full-time employees. We rely on instant messaging to coordinate staff conversations across Europe, New England, New York, Texas, San Francisco and Los Angeles. But increasingly we also rely on Skype-based instant messages and voice discussions. It’s safe to say we’d be interested in a hosted IM solution from our VoIP supplier — though our VoIP supplier is pretty clueless about such market opportunities.

David also offered answered questions about two potential MSP opportunities — virtualization and Microsoft Small Business Server. He offered healthy skepticism about both, a refreshing move for a conference speaker.

In terms of virtualization, David said we’re “not at the point of having a really good ecosystem” for partners and MSPs to zero in on managed services.

And when an attendee asked about managed opportunities with Microsoft Small Business Server, David flatly stated: “I don’t get it.” He noted that SBS is a “piece of bloated software where most people use three percent of the features.” (This blogger certainly agrees.) He pointed to the LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP) software stack as a potentially better solution for managed applications. (Another great point.)

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