DevOps, MSP

Found: A Truly Next-Generation MSP

The hunt is over. We've finally found a next-generation MSP that links managed DevOps services to cloud computing. But before we mention the MSP by name, I'd like to describe ChannelE2E's journey to discovering this particular managed services provider.

It starts in early 2014, during our team's last quarter running MSPmentor. Amy Katz and I co-founded that site (and others) in 2008, sold them in 2011 and exited in 2014. It was an awesome journey. But somewhere in late 2013 or early 2014, I reached an inflection point -- as had the overall managed services provider (MSP) market. Frankly, I couldn't write another blog about the shift from break-fix to recurring revenue. Been there, done that -- a few thousand times over.

Goodbye, For Now

And so began a journey to figure out "what's next" for me and for the IT market. Amy took a similar journey. We disappeared in April 2014 to spend time with our respective families. We re-emerged with After Nines Inc. in September 2014 to consult and track the next waves in IT.

Then, we caught a few breaks along the way. They included running a big data website on a freelance basis. As well as meeting the founders of -- a media site focused on the convergence of software development and IT operations. That site was mostly a corporate IT community. We kept wondering: Where the heck is the channel in this conversation?

We quietly remained in touch with key sources like David Powell, a VP at TekLinks -- one of the few MSPs and IT service providers that was studying the DevOps market. We spoke with software companies across Silicon Valley. We tracked venture capital dollars. And we kept waiting for signs to prove DevOps and MSPs were on a collision course.

Hello Again

By September 2015, we officially launched ChannelE2E -- to track the IT service provider journey from Entrepreneur to Exit (E2E). We kept in touch with Powell and other MSPs.

And then we got another lucky break -- involving Andrew Morgan, manager, service provider and channel management, LogicMonitor. Andrew was one of the first MSP thought leaders to spot ChannelE2E's launch, and he started tracking us daily. And we started talking to him about the next generation of MSPs. Not by coincidence, Morgan and Powell -- a LogicMonitor customer -- were in regular contact with each other. And Powell also was continuing his DevOps-related research.

When all of us arrived at IT Nation in November 2015, we learned a great deal about some of the latest industry trends. But DevOps was still a back-room discussion or late-night debate for most folks. A "curiosity" rather than a near-term business opportunity. Meanwhile, we kept reading, and blogging a bit about DevOps on ChannelE2E.

Basically, we were chumming the waters to see which MSPs were hungry for that specific content.

A Lucky Break In Boston

Continuum CEO Michael George
Michael George

Fast forward to this week, and our next break arrived. Continuum invited us to their new headquarters ribbon cutting in Boston, Mass. As Woody Allen allegedly said: "Eighty percent of success is just showing up." And we have a habit of always showing up. So, we grabbed the Continuum invitation and we showed up.

Then came the next break. Continuum CEO Michael George introduced Amy and me to an MSP that's "doing some unique things in the market." Hmmm... How unique? Very.

G2 Technology Group, the MSP, leverages Continuum’s platforms while offering DevOps services to SaaS startups. While the SaaS startups focus on software development, G2 manages the IT operations side of the conversation. More specifically, G2 automates and supports customer SaaS deployments on Amazon Web Services. G2’s CEO is H. Glenn Grant — a veteran of Thrive Networks, a well-known MSP that Staples once owned.

Grant has been around the MSP block -- like many of our readers. And yes, he still needs a range of MSP-centric tools to run his business. (That's where Continuum and LogicMonitor enter the conversation.) But ultimately, G2 is a managed DevOps service provider -- helping SaaS companies with continuous software delivery atop AWS.

Risks and Rewards

H. Glenn Grant

In some ways I think it's a risky business. What if those SaaS startups implode? In other ways, I think it's a high-reward business -- since those SaaS startups that survive will need continuous DevOps support forever. And SaaS companies, it's a safe bet, will pay a premium to keep the lights on.

Admittedly, this is an incomplete blog. I have no idea if G2 is profitable, growing, sustainable, etc. Our conversation with Grant lasted about 10 minutes before we both had to run off to additional meetings. But now we're in touch. And we plan on following up quite a bit.

So there you have it. The convergence of MSPs and DevOps. Finally. For me, it only required a five-hour train ride from New York to Boston. For Amy, about a one-hour car ride from her home in Massachusetts. Oh, and roughly two years of market watching... and waiting... for both of us.

Long live break-fix. Long live recurring revenues. And at long last: Long live DevOps in the IT channel.

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.