Channel Insider content and product recommendations are editorially independent. We may make money when you click on links to our partners. Learn More.

Andy Harper can’t fathom the idea of switching from his current
managed services platform. As the chief information officer of MSP
Gaeltek, he knows all too well the pain and effort it takes to
implement and learn the software.

Gaeltek, based in Manassas Park, Va., has used vendor Level
Platform’s technology for more than four years to remotely monitor and
manage clients’ IT infrastructure. Having made a commitment to learning
the ins and outs of the platform, Harper plans to stick with it.

“These are complex tools, and unless you know them, you can’t implement them properly. You can’t use them properly,” he says.

The perils of switching platforms are significant. Switches require
learning new technology and transferring data from one system to
another, potentially disrupting service to customers. For a business
model built on delivering consistent, reliable service, a disruption of
the service may well lead to losing customers.

Risks notwithstanding, not all managed services providers (MSPs)
share Harper’s opinion. Loyalty in the MSP space is frequently up for
grabs, with providers switching from platform to platform because of
unmet expectations and difficulties in learning the tools.

A Channel Insider study in June 2008 found that 25 percent of MSPs
have switched platforms three times, 21 percent once, and 18 percent,
twice. Seven percent of participants reported that they have switched
platforms a staggering 10 times.


Survey: Switching Managed Services Platforms
A look at the frequency, reasons for and consequences of changing the
software platforms that enable remote monitoring and management of
managed services delivered by solution providers.

When Level Platforms and rivals such as Kaseya and N-able
Technologies unleashed their technology on solution providers a handful
of years back, there were some challenges. The technology was new,
demanding a steep learning curve. In some cases, glitches
occurred and the young vendors hadn’t yet put in place strong enough
support infrastructures to assist channel partners in learning the

Vendors have gotten better about supporting their partners, and the number of successful MSPs is growing.

Success for MSP results form a lot of hard work in choosing the
right platform for their needs, learning and implementing it, making
the necessary staff and business process adjustments, and aligning
financial models to collect payments from customers as utility-like

Automation and an obsessive commitment to processes are key.

“You have to have a process for everything,” says Ken Sponsler, vice
president of engineering services at Connecting Point of Greeley, Colo.
“If you don’t do it the same way every time, you’re reinventing the
wheel every time.”

Switching platforms inevitably interferes with the ability to stick
with your established processes. Sponsler, like Harper, believes MSPs
should stick with a platform and become proficient at it. Sponsler’s
company uses the N-able platform.

“Once you have a platform in place, you should use it to the best of
your and the vendor’s abilities,” Sponsler says. “Having made your
decision, push the vendor to make the product what you
want. Vendors want to keep you and many times will modify their
product for your use.”