MSP Success: Connecting Point Stresses Uptime

By Jessica Davis  |  Print this article Print


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Las Vegas-based solution provider Connecting Point doesn’t sell managed services to customers, it sells business continuity – a term that end customers understand.

Las Vegas-based solution provider Connecting Point doesn’t sell its customers managed services.  After all, not even the people who build managed services can agree on a definition of the term.  If those who sell managed services can’t agree on what it means, then will customers understand the term?

No, and that’s why Connecting Point sells something that is more concrete to its customers – business continuity.

"At the end of the day my philosophy here at Connecting Point is that I am selling uptime," says Lester Keizer, CEO of Connecting Point. "I’m not selling technology. I use technology to drive my uptime."

Keizer points out a statistic from Gartner that shows that if a business affected by a disaster is down for five or more days, it will most likely be out of business within 12 months. That’s a big deal to Keizer and his customers.

Because uptime is so important to, Keizer provides customers with a three point guarantee.
1.    No downtime,
2.    If you have downtime, it’s going to be minimal,
3.    If you don’t like the service, then don’t pay.

"I earn my business every month the way it is," Keizer says. "No long term contracts." That may sound scary to some, but it’s been an effective strategy for Connecting Point, even during the recession, when Las Vegas has experienced the highest foreclosure rate in the country, according to Keizer.

"In these tough economic times if we hadn’t made the switch over to managed services we probably wouldn’t even be in business now," says Keizer. "The managed services business is the only one for us."

Connecting Point didn’t start out as business continuity provider or a managed services provider, though.  Founded in 1982 by Ron Cook, who remains as chairman, the company began as a technology reseller, providing solutions to both big companies like casinos, and plenty of small companies in the Las Vegas area too. It was a good business back then.

But Cook noticed the clouds gathering around the technology reseller space in the early part of this decade. And back when managed services were more a concept than a business model, Cook organized a conference for 12 VARs around the country to come to Las Vegas and talk about getting into managed services and best practices for managed services. Connecting Point’s first managed services platform provider, N-Able also came to the conference. 

It took another three years for Connecting Point to make the move to start selling managed services.  And it wasn’t an easy transition. Everyone who has contemplated moving from a reseller model to a managed services model realizes that they are vastly different. Keizer says all of Connecting Point’s employees from the top to the bottom of the company felt that pain, but made it through because of "education, education and education.

"It was a hard battle," says Keizer. "A lot of the battle was not external, it was internal – a paradigm shift." 

All that pain ultimately paid off. A year later Connecting Point moved from getting 80 percent of its revenues from reselling products to 80 percent of its revenues from selling business continuity.

Keizer recommends that new MSPs follow a set of procedures and processes with a checklist for everything – just like pilots use during pre-flight checks.

For Connecting Point, the managed services business has been so successful that Connecting Point has partnered with another VAR to create another company called Xilocore. The 100 percent channel company provides business continuity and disaster recovery as a service, sold through MSPs to end clients.  They created the solution because they couldn’t find one on the market to fit their needs.

"While in the 80s, back up was the most important word in technology, today the most important word is recovery and restoration," Keizer says. "What good is back up if you can’t recover and restore."

Xilocore offers recovery and restoration whether a single file is deleted, as happened to a Las Vegas-based CFO client recently, or if an entire site goes down after a tornado or flood, or after a hurricane like Katrina.

"Xilocore provides quick message file level recovery in seconds, quick server recovery in minutes. And if the whole site is down, quick site recovery, via off site virtualized backup in 24 to 48 hours, all at an affordable cost to the SMB," says Keizer.

It seems fitting that in Las Vegas the company set up its data store in an old bank vault in a building that previously belonged to Bank of America. "We have millions of files in the vault," says Keizer.

Xilocore claims hundreds of partners nationwide and over 700 end-user customers.

Company Name: Connecting Point
Location: Las Vegas
Annual Revenue:    $10 mil or less
Percentage of Annual Revenue Coming from Managed Services:   80
Number of Employees:    21
Years in Business:   27
Primary Customer Size : small and midsized 
Vertical Focus, if any:   strong in legal, hospital, financial and hospitality space.
Types of Managed Services Offered
Backup and recovery, business continuity, which  covers security, patching monitoring, unlimited help desk.

Jessica Davis covers the channel for eWeek and Channel Insider. Her technology journalism career began well before anyone heard of the World Wide Web and has included stints at Infoworld, Electronic News/EDN, and the Philadelphia Business Journal. Her work has also appeared on CNN and Forbes.com. She has covered hardware, software and networking, as well as the business side of technology. She has won several journalism awards, including a national ASBPE award for best staff-written column, and was named Marketing Computers hardest working tech journalist on their inaugural list of top tech journalists. Jessica can be reached at jessica.davis@ziffdavisenterprise.com

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