I hate change. That makes my choice of IT as a career…well, rather stupid, to be honest.
But it’s not the change of technology, I can deal with that. But one of the keys to success in this business (at least for me) is the relationships that we have with the partners who provide the critical tools we (and our clients) use daily. One of the questions I get asked by other MSP (Managed Service Prover, which is what we do) CEO’s is “what tool/company do you use for <fill in the blank>?” And that’s a conversation that often results (especially at a conference where there’s a bunch of us together) in a brain dump of opinions, nuanced feature comparisons and judgements based on the last update or problem or challenge.
This is especially true when discussing and of the critical tools we depend on:
- Local/Cloud Backups (including Business Continuity). When all else fails, backups are the solution of last resort.
- PSA (Professional Services Automation). Ticketing and scheduling for technicians.
- RMM (Remote Monitoring and Management). Monitoring and managing IT networks.
- Cyber Security. End Point, malware protection, firewalls and more pieces, bringing a layered strategy to play.
IMHO, when choosing a vendor or partner for any of these categories, the products are important. But the organization providing (and supporting) the products are equally important. Have they kept up with the industry? Is the company healthy? Do they understand the MSP market?
And the biggest question (to me):
Will this be a relationship between partners (as opposed to vendor/customer)?
When I look at the above list, it’s interesting to realize that the shortest relationship we have of those 4 is five years. The other 3 are closer to ten years. Considering we’ve only been in business twelve years, that’s saying something.
And when we decide to make a change, we don’t jump into that change. 4 years ago, it took about 6 months to change our PSA (from AutoTask to ConnectWise). We took our time, reviewed options, went to conferences, brought in consultants. It was expensive. It was painful. It took about 12-18 months before we really started seeing the benefits of making the change.
One of the best decisions I’ve made.
Last year, Tech Director Kevin Dutkiewicz and I made the decision to change our backup vendor. I won’t go into details about why we decided to change, except to say that their solutions worked. We had good local and cloud-based backups, with BC (Business Continuity) strategies in place. But we felt we needed more. And we spent a fair amount of time reviewing options, testing alternatives, and asking other MSP’s for their opinions.
And now we have Datto.
Ok, full disclosure. Rob Rae, (the VP of Partner Development over at Datto) and I go way back. He held a similar position at Level Platforms (our RMM platform now known as Managed Workplace) until they were bought by AVG 6-7 years ago.
Rob (and Datto) “gets” the partner proposition. The concept that your success can be enhanced by helping your clients succeed. Sharing information helps everybody. And they’re not just selling a product (or even a service) but creating solutions. The amount of material created by Datto regarding the industry (both the MSP and IT in general) is ridiculously impressive. We'll be sharing some of that in the coming months.
Kevin and I attended their annual US conference in San Diego last week (DattoCon 19), and it was obvious that the 3,000 or so attendees were soaking the information up. And several of the workshops (there were about 80 or so) were actually put on by other MSP’s, many of them opportunities to simply share experiences and strategies. Some of these were completely outside of Datto’s product mix, but very helpful to the industry.
Oh, and the fact that they had their closing party on board the aircraft carrier USS Midway? Um, that was cool as well.
Like I said, relationships.
Ok, and Rob was good enough to write an introduction for my latest book. And most of the attendees were given a copy of my new book “The MSP’s Survival Guide to Co-Managed IT services”, which was kind of cool.
And I did have a change for a 5-minute chat with Datto’s CEO, Tim Weller. He’s an engineer first, CEO second.
Aaaaand, I got to see Snoop Dogg perform. Yup. As part of a keynote. First thing in the morning. With no prior warning.
So. Out with the old. In with the new.
Starting in May, Simplex-IT has been replacing existing backup (including BDR devices) solutions with new Datto devices. We expect that process to take the next 2-3 months. And our clients will have good backups throughout the changeover process.
This is why one of our 3 selected topics for our next QCT (July 18th) is Backups, so we can introduce our backup strategies to our clients.
I wish I could tell you we’re through with this level of change. But I think we’ll have one other change before the year is done.
Questions? Shoot me an email.