Autotask Changes PSA Game with VARStreet Acquisition

By Lawrence Walsh

In what’s being billed as a game-changer for the professional services automation software segment of the channel, Autotask today announced its acquisition of VARStreet, a provider of supply chain services and eCommerce solutions for solution providers.

With the addition of VARStreet to its portfolio, Autotask plans to incorporate product sales support into its PSA platform, providing using VARs and managed services organizations an automated too for tracking hardware and software sales alongside service order job ticketing.

"I think we’re redefining what it means to be a PSA. It shouldn’t be just professional services automation, but product and professional services automation," said Autotask CEO Bob Godgart.

VARStreet, a service used by predominately larger integrators and solution providers, provides users with a logistics platform that streamlines the ordering of products from suppliers and distributors. XC E-Commerce platform taps into distributors ordering systems, finds pricing and availability, and streamlines the fulfillment process. Tying XC into the Autotask platform, Godgart says, will give MSPs and VARs a greater ability to source product for service engagements.

Autotask believes the eCommerce capabilities of VARStreet XC is the game changer. Through VARStreet Web-based services, VARs and MSPs can establish online storefronts for selling hardware, software and consumables – such as printer cartridges and cable – with greater speed and efficiency.

"VARStreet was ahead of its time. We’ve gotten comfortable in buying over the Web. We think we’ve brought down the barrier to entry and this will take off like wildfire," Godgart says.

The eCommerce functionality Autotask plans to integrate with its PSA platform is a departure from the conventional intent and use of PSA software. Where the core products of Autotask, ConnectWise and TigerPaw – the leading PSA vendors – are service ticket tracking and business metrics systems, the addition of an eCommerce option to Autotask’s platform will give users an automated channel for their customers to buy products while still keeping track of overall account activity.

For Autotask and PSA users, the ability to support product sales through a low-touch ordering portal is a welcomed benefit.

"Supporting product sales is hard," says Andrew Harper, CIO of Gaeltek, a MSP in Virginia. "Linking in VARStreet with Autotask to get quotes and highlight solutions so we know what’s going on with the client will give us greater efficiency."

The continued importance of transactional product sales was a significant motivating factor for the acquisition Godgart said. The VARStreet platform will remain intact and sold as a separate service to existing and future customers. Additionally, Autotask will begin selling a scaled-down service at a lower price for smaller VARs and MSPs with the aim of expanding the VARStreet install base.

"This is a game changer and opens the door to more possibility in the VAR channel," says Jason Beal, Director of Sales in the services division at Ingram Micro.  


This article was originally published on 2010-03-17