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Kaseya is becoming a well-known brand among VARs and integrators adopting the managed services model, but most end-user customers have no idea what Kaseya is.

And that’s just fine with the San Francisco-based company, which has opted to license its managed-services platform to channel partners strictly under a private-label model.

A channel partner buys a license for the service, brands it and uses it to perform IT functions remotely for end-user customers.

In business for more than two years, the company decided early on it would have to work through partners to succeed, said CEO Gerald Blackie.

“Our goal is to continue to be a top-notch software developer,” he said. “You cannot be in a position of providing services to customers at the level that local folks can and still produce great software.”

The “local folks” are the regional VARs, integrators and service providers that use Kaseya technology to deliver services such as patch management, computer audit and discovery, remote desktop management, network and system monitoring, helpdesk and software deployment.

Kaseya is one of a growing contingent of technology vendors that in recent years have entered the market to facilitate the delivery of managed services.

Among those vendors, each of which offers its own a variation on the remote-services theme, are Corente Inc., New York; and N-Able Technologies and Level Platforms Inc., both based in Ottawa.

An increasing number of VARs and integrators are moving toward managed services because the model allows them to enter into contracts with customers that generate predictable monthly revenue.

Kaseya pushes predictable and increased revenue, consistent customer service levels, operating cost reductions and expanded service offerings as selling points for prospective partners.

But making the transition to managed services involves some challenges for VARs and integrators, not the least of which is deciding which managed-services platform to adopt.

Heartland Technology Solutions, a VAR based in Joplin, Mo., opted for a split decision after six months of investigation, signing deals with both Level Platforms and Kaseya.

“We chose both products because their functionality is not the same, at least not at the present,” said Heartland principal partner Jane Cage. “Somewhere down the road we will make a decision between the two.”

For now, Heartland will use Level Platforms for its monitoring capabilities and Kaseya for its remote control and patching technology, she said.

Blackie said the concept behind Kaseya’s technology goes beyond monitoring to provide a comprehensive web-based machine-automation network.

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“It’s not about a single service or offering a product. It’s about offering a holistic set of features,” he said.

The goal is to reduce complexity by automating IT business processes in distributed computing environments.

For instance, Blackie said, defragmenting thousands of machines in 350 locations is a daunting task when performed manually. “In our case it’s a simple schedule it, and it happens automatically,” he said.

Kaseya took its technology to market in May 2003, and the company logged revenue of about $300,000 that first year.

In 2004, sales increased to $6 million, and Blackie is projecting revenue of $16 million to $19 million this year.

So far he said the company has relied primarily on Google searches to find channel partners. “However, the word is out about Kaseya and we are seeing a tremendous amount of business via word of mouth,” he added.

One of Kaseya’s partners is InhouseIT Inc., of Newport Beach, Calif., a managed services pioneer.

“Everyone of our clients is on a monthly managed services agreement,” said CEO and founding partner Steve Bender.

In business since 1997, InhouseIT decided from the beginning that it would make more sense to put customers on monthly billing service plans than to charge them per project. Company technicians made regularly scheduled visits for maintenance and updates.

When managed services platforms such as Kaseya’s became available in the last couple of years, InhouseIT was a perfect fit, said Bender.

The company tried a different platform provider first, but then decided to switch to Kaseya because its technology allows InhouseIT to do more for its customers remotely, such as delivering software patches, he said.

“Were just kind of giddy about the capabilities we now have,” he said.

InhouseIT became a Kaseya partner a year ago and has since put 70 of its clients on the platform, which InhouseIT has branded “Site Manager.”

InhouseIT is a special case because it was doing managed services before they were en vogue. Most of Kaseya’s partners actually come from the ranks of thousands of network VARs dispersed through the country, said Blackie. A smaller contingent comprises service startups.

“We also see a lot of new businesses starting up,” Blackie said. “They are people who recognize the opportunity and have been researching different methods for providing comprehensive IT services to SMBs.”

To attract partners, Kaseya gives them the option of monthly payment plans for the software licenses.

Licenses start at 100 seats at $120 per seat and go up to 5,000 seats at $40 a seat.