The more network devices attach to remote monitoring and management tools, the more effective the service providers that manage those devices will become.
With that in mind, Billerica, Mass.-based managed services vendor SilverBack Technologies in mid-October launches SilverSphere, an initiative to promote interoperability between its remote monitoring management software and all manner of devices in a computer network, from UPS (uninterrupted power supply) boxes to printers to servers.
To get SilverSphere off the ground, the vendor already has enlisted 10 IT companies, including printer maker Lexmark International, distributor Bell Microproducts, UPS vendor Tripp Lite, business management software maker Autotask, application optimization vendor Packateer, and security vendor eEye Digital Security.
The company also enlisted service partners Do IT Smarter, Network Partners and Service-now.com.
SilverSphere, said Bill Hood, president of Network Partners, an MSP (managed services provider) in Houston, makes life easier for MSPs and increases their profit opportunities by making it possible to remotely monitor and manage more devices and applications at their customer sites.
Even though most devices in the network already have remote management capabilities, taking advantage of them is difficult because it requires learning a lot of different systems, Hood said. SilverSphere eliminates that problem with a centralized remote management console, he said.
“SilverSphere, in my mind, is really kind of recognizing that users don’t want to deal with all that complexity,” Hood said.
Aside from the goal of attaching as many devices as possible to the remote management tool, SilveSphere also has an educational component, said Jim Hare, vice president of business development at SilverBack.
Middle-sized end user companies don’t have a good understanding of managed services, and how remote management can benefit them, said Hare. Vendors and service partners enrolled in SilverSphere, he said, will undertake to educate the value of the model to these customers.
“The fundamental problem with the managed services business today is that there is no end-user demand,” said Hare.
But that changes once the end users learn the value of the model, which requires the service providers, working in tandem with vendors, to educate customers, he said.
“For the survival of this industry, this has to happen,” Hare added.
SilverBack CTO John Igoe said the company is working with technology vendors on the interoperability of their products with the SilverBack platform.
In addition to getting the pieces of technology to communicate, Igoe said the knowledge of what is inside of a vendor’s particular product that is supposed to be monitored is passed on to the service providers that handle the actual monitoring.
This transfer of knowledge, he noted, is particularly meaningful to getting the managed services model to deliver on its promise.
MSPs typically bill customers monthly or quarterly for remotely taking over the management of their computing environments.
When successful, MSPs report that end users start turning to the service provider for all their IT needs, including hardware and software purchases.
As that happens, products that are easier to troubleshoot and manage remotely gain favor with the providers.
Using printers as an example, Hood noted that he will be more likely to steer his customers to Lexmark because of the vendor’s participation in SilverSphere.
“Guys like me now are going to say, ‘You ought to get a Lexmark and here’s why,’” said Hood.
About one third of IT trouble tickets at customers involve printing, which makes the inclusion of Lexmark in SilverSphere very appealing to Hood. “Printers are extremely high-maintenance,” he said.
SilverSphere comes on the heels of a major move by SilverBack to grab a bigger chunk of the market in the managed services space.
Two weeks ago, the company revealed it has partnered with Bell Microsystems to allow the distributor host the SilverBack technology for VARs interested in providing remote services to their customers.