Channel technologies, MSP

Atera RMM, PSA & Business Intelligence: What It All Means

Gil Pekelman, CEO, Atera
Gil Pekelman

At first glance, Atera has an integrated PSA and RMM platform for MSPs. But take a closer look and the bigger story could be Atera's pricing model -- and new business intelligence capabilities for MSPs.

Atera's roots stretch back to 2011, when the company began writing code for its cloud-based RMM (remote monitoring and management) platform. From the start, Atera also planned to include PSA (professional services automation) functionality in the offering. That code began to take shape in 2013. Fast forward to present day and the company offers a blended PSA-RMM platform -- hosted in Microsoft Azure.

"We knew from the get-go that we were going to develops a single system, but that it would take multiple steps to  get there," says CEO Gil Pekelman. "It made no sense to develop PSA and RMM separately."

Plenty of companies now agree with that statement. For instance, Autotask, ConnectWise, Kaseya, and SolarWinds N-able each now offer some form of PSA and RMM under one roof. But in each of those four cases, the PSA and RMM code bases came together through M&A.

In Atera's case the code base -- blended PSA and RMM -- was homegrown. To differentiate, Atera focused on two design elements as part of the platform development:

  1. Simplicity: Atera wanted to give MSPs a consumer-like experience.
  2. IoT architecture: There's no limit to the number of sensors, nodes and agents that an  MSP can install. Hence, the company avoided per-agent pricing and instead charges by the number of MSP technicians on the system.

Atera Revenue Model, Sales Efforts

Indeed, the platform costs $59 to $139 per MSP technician per month. Each technician can manage as many devices and/or IoT sensors as they want -- without paying Atera each time an additional device or IoT sensor is added to the system.

Based in Israel, Atera's sales efforts began locally before the company extended into Europe, particularly Holland. By January 2016, Atera opened its arms wider -- focusing on the U.S. market as well.

Although Atera doesn't have international offices, the company says its cloud-delivered approach offers global reach. "From the start we understood that the MSP's livelihood depends on their end-customers," says Pekelman. "We know MSPs won't use anything that endangers those customer relationships. We knew we had to be stable, operational, clean and reliable as a platform."

Has Atera delivered on those goals? Pekelman points to this data point: The platform processes 6 thousand messages per second, serving MSPs across the U.S., Australia, New Zealand, Europe and elsewhere. The platform is approaching 1,000 users -- though I don't know if that's 1,000 MSPs or 1,000 individual technicians.

Business Intelligence for MSPs

As Atera's platform gathers more and more information, the company is taking steps to organize the data in a meaningful way for MSPs.

Without revealing confidential information from each MSP, a new business intelligence tool allows Atera's users to see how they stack up against specific market metrics like SLAs, pricing and more. All the data is based on Atera's MSP base -- rather than generic survey or polling information.

A growing number of resellers and aspiring MSPs are leveraging the metrics to build their business practices. "After we software-enable , they ask us what end-customer SLAs look like and what MSP pricing looks like," says Pekelman. "They ask how many tickets each person on their service desk should be able to handle. Our business intelligence platform has the answers."

Indeed, the BI offering is built atop PowerBI, Microsoft's data visualization tool. It can generate graphs to show MSPs how they're performing vs. Atera's overall installed base, and more.

2016 Priorities

Looking ahead, Atera has three core priorities for the rest of 2016:

  1. Get the word out about the platform.
  2. Develop new features and functions based on MSP user feedback.
  3. Deliver really great support.

The company uses an agile software development model, which means new features arrive every month. Integrations also are a priority. Watch for some type of Webroot integration soon, for instance.

On the financial front, Atera raised money from a few investors and backers to start the business. But the company is on firm financial footing and doesn't need to raise more cash. Even so, "We're being approached," Pekelman says. "We're seriously thinking about but don't want to do it just for the sake of doing it."

Among my key remaining questions: Can Atera's financial model scale as MSPs add more and more endpoints and sensors to the system. In theory, if the number of managed endpoints scales exponentially, Atera's own costs -- managing all that data in Azure -- also could skyrocket. Pekelman says the company's architecture and design was built to scale. Moreover, MSPs will pay more for the service each time they add a new technician to the system.

RMM, PSA Rivals

Of course, Atera faces a range of entrenched and emerging rivals. And a growing number of them offer BI dashboards to track and maintain KPI (Key Performance Indicator) metrics.

In terms of PSA-RMM integration, companies like Autotask, ConnectWise, Kaseya and SolarWinds N-able now offer single-vendor solutions. Of course, the degree of integration -- and feature levels -- will vary from company to company.

I've also been surprised by the number of upstarts moving into the RMM and PSA space. Aspiring players to know include Auvik Networks (network-centric RMM); NinjaMSP (launched by Dell PacketTrap veterans); and FinancialForce (built atop Salesforce).

Amid all that competition, it sounds like Atera's installed base is growing. Quickly.

Joe Panettieri

Joe Panettieri is co-founder & editorial director of MSSP Alert and ChannelE2E, the two leading news & analysis sites for managed service providers in the cybersecurity market.