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Managed services providers (MSPs) usually thrive in times of
economic downturn, as customers look for desktop and server management
solutions that can help cut costs, increase efficiency and ease data
center management and monitoring burdens. But as these services become
more commoditized, there’s less value for customers in these solutions.

PacketTrap has introduced a software solution that takes network and
traffic analysis to the next level, allowing MSPs to leverage
PacketTrap’s Perspective software to perform granular traffic analysis
and determine exactly which users and applications are creating network
bottlenecks and slowing down performance.

MSPs using competing solutions from N-Able, Kaseya and Level
Platforms can all offer desktop and server management, application
monitoring and patch management, says Steve Goodman, CEO of PacketTrap.
But most of the hardware and software these solutions monitor don’t
tend to fail as much as they used to, leaving many customers to wonder
what, exactly, they’re paying an MSP to do, he says.

“We kept hearing that servers, applications, desktops and other data
center components just don’t fail anymore,” Goodman says. “Even
notoriously tricky deployments like an Exchange server are much more
stable, especially with the increased adoption of failover, security
and backup technologies,” he says.

The increased reliability of data center technologies is great for
customers, but not ideal for MSPs that have built their businesses on
troubleshooting and fixing these problems.

“There’s not much value customers place on having a solution
provider come in, look over their data center, applications and servers
and say ‘Yup, it’s fine, see you next month,’” says Goodman. Especially
in the midmarket and the SMB space, these services don’t bring added
value for companies with smaller, tightly stretched budgets.

Goodman estimates that of the approximately 50,000 MSPs in the
United States, only about 10,000 are using platforms such as N-Able,
Kaseya and/or Level Platforms because of this shortcoming. He adds that
PacketTrap’s approach is very different from traditional MSP platforms
in that it takes a much more granular view, allowing solution providers
to see which users, applications and/or services are causing network
bottlenecks, hogging bandwidth and otherwise degrading network
performance.

A former management executive at SonicWall, Goodman says he
understands the challenges MSPs and solution providers face in this
economy. PacketTrap originally introduced its Perspective solution to
SonicWall’s solution providers, and partners were thrilled, he says.

“The traffic analysis component is really compelling, because video,
audio and voice functionality are dragging down performance. These are
the major issues MSPs face, and the networks their customers have just
can’t handle it – they aren’t built for that,” he says.

“We saw that the key problem facing MSPs was helping their customers
understanding why their networks are sluggish – are users pulling down
YouTube videos? Are they looking at sports scores or streaming iTunes?”
Goodman says.

“We can tell you specifically which IP address, which machine, which
user is generating the traffic,” he says. For instance, Perspective can
identify a hypothetical user that’s watching YouTube, draining
capacity, hogging bandwidth, and degrading network performance.

Though PacketTrap has a solution developed for a direct sales model,
that product is aimed at large enterprises with extensive IT staff and
resources. PacketTrap’s Perspective solution, on the other hand, is
targeted squarely at the midmarket and SMBs, and the MSP channel is the
perfect delivery method, says Goodman. This dual-pronged approach also
eliminates channel conflict, since the direct salesforce doesn’t
compete with solution providers selling into the SMB and midmarket
spaces.

PacketTrap’s Perspective is available to MSPs without any contracts,
upfront fees or cancellation penalties, says Goodman. The solution is
much cheaper than competitors; priced at $495 for analysis of 250
devices across unlimited customers, $1,000 for up to 1,000 devices, and
$1,500 for unlimited devices. Perspective can be offered as either a
local software model or as a SAAS model, offering MSPs even more
flexibility.

Goodman says many MSPs will bring in PacketTrap’s solution alongside
server and desktop management solutions from N-Able, Kaseya and Level
Platforms. These MSPs often use these platforms for desktop and server
management and PacketTrap for traffic analysis, though Perspective can
also perform desktop, server and application management.

“It depends on the MSP. Sometimes they’re tied to a contract with
other providers, sometimes we end up dislodging installations of those
other guys, sometimes it’s a green customer,” Goodman says.

PacketTrap’s MSP program has doubled in membership size since
December 2008, and Goodman says the program is on track to quadruple
that number by the end of this year, though he did not disclose how
many MSPs were participating in the program.

“I’m just floored by the amount of growth we’ve seen,” he says. “We
really believe it’s all based on this traffic management and analysis
capability that no one else in the market has offered,” he says.