Continuum CEO Michael George is addressing several hundred managed services providers (MSPs) this morning at the Continuum Navigate 2015 conference in Las Vegas. Plus, the company is updating its product roadmap for RMM (Remote Monitoring and Management), NOC (Network Operations Center) and BDR (backup and disaster recovery) services. Here's the keynote recap along with ongoing updates from throughout the day.
Recap of George's Keynote
"All Columbus was looking to do was find a shorter route to China."
Fast forward to ARPANET's creation in 1969, and the rise of HTTP with TCP/IP in 1989. That foundation provided a big bang that triggered a killer application dubbed... email -- a modern day digital exchange. Soon came outsourcing and the rise of eBay, Red Hat, Juniper and many others -- Google, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube. George called them the early explorers that embraced outsourcing.
Then, he transitioned the conversation to MSPs -- which are responsible for extending enterprise-class outsourcing to the small business market. "It's not just outsourcing. We call it smart sourcing."
Then came the case study: G2 Tech Group, an MSP that has been in business for about seven years. Over the past three years, George said, G2 has grown roughly 150 percent through smart sourcing -- a complete managed services model that also plugs into Continuum's NOC (network operations center) services.
Biggest MSP Challenges: Talent and Sales
The biggest two challenges facing MSPs, George said, involve finding and recruiting talent and finding customers, pointing to 2112 Group research. The world's top 501 MSPs grew about 26 percent last year. But Continuum's top partners -- leveraging all of Continuum services -- grew 46 percent, George asserted.
Next, George pointed to international transports and ships that now carry standardized containers -- driving down transportation prices and growing the world economy. He tied that back to Continuum's help desk. 'The two most critical things we could do for customer satisfaction was speed to answer and first-call resolution."
The company doubled its help desk staff in the past year, answering 112,000 calls in under 48 seconds over the past year (I need to double-check stats).
In another example, George pointed to a CMIT Solutions branch that grew from zero to more than $2 million in five years -- employing only about seven staff members while plugging into Continuum's outsourced services.
Onramp to the Cloud
So where are the opportunities ahead? George pointed to three realities:
- Small businesses won't go to big clouds arbitrarily.
- SMBs will not hire a CIO.
- IT is local and SMBs need a trusted partner.
He conceded that certain segments of the IT business will be in the cloud -- storage and compute infrastructure, for instance.
To describe where IT may go next, George pointed to Charles Darwin's journeys in the 1800s -- and the subject of natural selection. "We need to be prepared to survive and prosper or run the risk of extinction" in the age of the cloud, he added.
"We really haven't broken away from hardware centricity" in the channel, he conceded. The statement set the stage for George to promote Continuum's BDR solutions -- Continuity247 -- as an "onramp to the cloud and the onramp to your future." He pointed to opportunities to leverage Microsoft Azure, Amazon Simple Storage Service and IBM's cloud going forward.
Read between the lines and George is pointing to the day when MSPs move customer storage to public clouds because it won't be cost effective to store the data in proprietary vendor clouds, he alleges.
The big picture: Move away from hardware-centric legacies and embrace the software- and cloud-defined world, and leverage economies of scale from Continuum, George asserted.
"Go west when others want to go east," George said, pointing back to Columbus's travels. "And then together, let's shoot for the moon."
Continuum RMM, NOC and BDR Roadmap
Continuum's Dee Zept introduced two new executives focused on product (stay tuned for details). Then she transitioned to her theme for the roadmap: exceptional service, simplicity and innovation.
- Exceptional Service: The company is seeking to deliver more proactive monitoring and reduce MSP involvement in resolutions. Me: Not sure if machine learning or how analytics is leveraged here.
- Simplicity: Easy to use, consistent UI design, and enhanced communication options are involved. Me: Curious to know what type of usability testing they're doing.
- Innovation: A lot of this area focuses on scalability across RMM, continuity, NOC and more.
Continuum Remote Monitoring and Management
RMM monthly releases continue -- with integration, security and efficiency being the core focus this year. The big moves included WebRoot security integration and Intel vPro remote management capabilities.
For 2016, the core functions (patching, scripting, ticketing, reporting) remain a big focus. Watch for support for network monitoring -- firewalls, switches, routers, clouds and performance monitoring. On security, watch for a security dashboard plus potential encryption and compliance capabilities.
Continuum Help Desk
The focus for 2015 has been team, process and client experience. For 2016, investments will involve client experience (chat experience), more white label capabilities and reduced escalations sent back to clients.
Continuum will add capabilities for direct-to-cloud (without an on-premises appliance) with deeper cloud capabilities. Version 1.1 is on display at the show; it features instant restore and a new pricing model (I don't have details).
Watch for video verify and Linux support in the near future, too, Continuum said.
Recap of additional sessions: Coming soon.