N-able Technologies Inc. says the integration of its managed services platform with IT systems management software from Microsoft Corp. will give partners a chance to reach new customer bases and market verticals. Under the agreement, set to kick off in North America this month, the two companies will work together to create interoperability between N-able’s N-central 6.5 and Microsoft’s System Center Essentials 2007 — the latter designed for mid-sized businesses with up to 500 PCs and 30 servers. According to Derik Belair, vice-president of business development for Ottawa-based N-able, a Microsoft Gold Certified partner, the combination of the two technologies will provide partners the best of both worlds: the broad capabilities of N-able’s product, which offers remote management of multiple customers from a single dashboard, plus System Center Essentials’ ability to go very deep with the management and monitoring of one customer.
“System Center Essentials does a great job of collecting information and has high levels of monitoring, management and remediation capabilities. But the MSP (managed service provider) or multi-tenant part of it is lacking,” Belair said. “With the combination of these two best-of-breed solutions — the deep enterprise solution plus a wide MSP solution — service providers will get a lot of ease, flexibility and speed, and will will be able to go much deeper with System Center Essentials, but will still have the ability to do monitoring and management of all of their customers.”
Managed services and IT services automation are continuing to gain traction among partners, said Belair. “We’ve seen a tremendous amount of growth in this space, and there is a lot more acceptance of managed services from the customer’s side.” If partners scale their remote management capabilities across a wide variety of technologies and devices, they will be able to differentiate themselves, he added. The agreement will “give our partners the ability to go after larger customers,” since Redmond, Wash.-based Microsoft’s solution has a mid-enterprise focus, said Belair. “It will also provide the ability for partners to go after more market verticals.” On the flip-side, the interoperability of the technologies will enable Microsoft partners that already work with System Center Essentials to further penetrate the small and medium business (SMB) space, he said.
From a technology aspect, the interoperability is going to emerge in a phased approach, said Belair. “We are looking at doing the work through a long-term relationship and an ongoing course of product development,” he said. “Our next big product release (of N-central) will have System Center Essential aspects to it, and every release from now on will have some of this flavour to it.”
Partners will also be provided with technical and sales education resources designed to build their awareness of the solutions and help them with the promotional aspect of the sales cycle. N-able’s BluePrint for Success, an MSP business transformation consulting offering, will play a critical role in educating Microsoft partners, said Belair. The BluePrint for Success, which includes education as well as supporting documentation, tools and “everything (partners) need to to be able to deliver a managed services offering,” will not only empower them from a technology perspective to do managed services, but will also include “a lot of business support from N-able to help them make the transition,” he said.