Highlights and Insights from MSP conference – MSPWorld 2017

MSPWorld 2017, hosted by MSPAlliance, was our first time attending a Managed Service Providers (MSP) conference. Here are some highlights from the conference. The conference had 400+ participants, ~150 Managed Service Providers (MSPs) and a few vendors. Most of the MSP attendees were owners/CEO/COO with 10-15+ years of experience in running a managed services business. Talking to them, we realized most of them started their career and grew along Windows, offering wide range of services from backup, running CRM/ERP solutions, hosting exchange server etc.

Conference had many good sessions but the highlight was the keynote speaker – Rob O’Neill, former SEAL team six leader. He gave a very inspiring talk on being resilient and importance of maintaining focus even under extreme stress. He gave real-world examples from his SEAL training and his missions – he was part of Bin Laden and Captain Philips missions.

Major sponsors were cloud platform /marketplace companies such as IngramMicro, Pax-8 and security companies such as Kaspersky Labs, Symantec. These cloud platforms offer a market place where MSPs can create a bundle of many cloud services.  Pax-8 guys and girls were dressed up in flight jump suits, and called themselves ‘your cloud wingman’ (Pax-8 were awarded ‘Best in Show‘ by MSPAlliance).

Impact of Cloud on MSPs – Takeaways:

  • Role of MSPs is rapidly changing in world of cloud services. Traditional MSPs services are shifting to cloud based services
  • Even large cloud providers such as Microsoft are realizing that their direct sales effort to reach SMBs are not effective and these large companies are seeking MSP as a channel to sell their cloud services to SMBs
  • However, majority of MSPs weren’t fully clear about their cloud strategy and business model in the cloud. Some of the concerns included –
    • Shift in resource needs and organizational structure: Some heavy technical work such as server maintenance has moved to cloud providers (Microsoft, Amazon) hence they don’t need so many engineers (with $50+/hr salary). Instead, they need more support person who is bit technical (with much lower pay) to navigate through cloud services to configure cloud services, add users, security etc.
    • Business model changes: Instead of getting one large payment for installation/migration, cloud services will result in small monthly payments. Such a shift will impact financing and sales person commissions etc
    • Pricing: Given change in business model and technical value add, the traditional cost plus model might not work in cloud. Need a new pricing model
    • Cloud strategy: with so any cloud services, MSPs aren’t clear where to invest and what services to offer. Most of them are considering reselling Microsoft Office 365 but aren’t very clear beyond that.

We met many MSPs and presented how FileCloud enables them to run their own branded cloud storage, enterprise file sharing and sync solution. They were very excited to hear about high margins and white-label/branding options that FileCloud offers.

The conference was in New Orleans hence it added good flavor of food, drink and fun. Overall, it was a good mixture of learning, networking and fun. In the future, we will likely increase our presence in MSP conferences.

Here is a copy of the brochure that we handed at the conference. MSPWorld 2017 Brochure