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SolarWinds evangelist talks about partnerships beyond the MSP

Dave Sobel, MSP evangelist at SolarWinds MSP is always an optimist, but talking at the EmpowerMSP event in Amsterdam this week, he was particularly engaged on the topic of partnerships. This means both SolarWinds MSP’s technology partners, and he is working more than ever on this, as well as MSPs partnering among themselves to get geographical and subsector coverage.

“I remain bullish on the MSP market – complexity is going up, security needs are greater and things are moving faster than anyone can comfortably manage, but the market looks good. We are getting smart about these complex systems, but not everyone needs to do everything – there will be more collaboration and that is in the best interests of the customer.”

But the words used may be changing even if the technology isn’t; and security is a major part of this. “The conversations I have been having are around where to make things better, bringing solutions together and security is a strong theme in everything. We are having different conversations about privacy and social media and media manipulation – shows this is a different perception of data and affects even the smaller business.”

The end user customers do not understand the nature of service provision, but they may not need to, he says. What has changed is that they see a problem and know they should ask the questions, especially about data and security.

“People are aware about the value of data but this has some way to go. At least customers are asking about data and what they should be doing.”

“The security opportunity is part of this. It all comes together in what the MSP offers. New markets are asking different questions hence the partnership with SentinelOne. The last mile translation into the customer – someone who understands their business. This is my business problem – MSPs may not realise they are competing in this wider market.”

Is the phrase MSP a limiting factor. “Has the IT industry ever been good at naming anything? Let’s not get hung up on the term MSP,” he responds.

More importantly: where are the new channels who are not calling themselves MSPs? “It is about making sure the core message resonates and it is about communicating the message – consultant, MSP. It is all about what business problem is solved by the technology.”

There are a lot of interesting new businesses coming in as channels.  “If you are founding a business as a young person, you would not use the term managed services provider or even channel. But your core business values are the same. We have to ensure we can translate the ides into new ways of speaking.”

“We are finding the new players – they are just having a different form of conversation. We have to make sure we are not hung up on the phraseology that limits you. There is a lot of listening to the market. The conversations are the same – they use different words and you have to listen very closely. “It is not easy, but it is an opportunity.”

Things are moving faster – people will get more specialised as they go deeper into technology and the issues, he says. “Which is great for partnerships, which is why we are involved in technology partnerships. MSPs should go deep and then partner for the other stuff. Partnering is happening between partners in convergence and print. And it is good for channels, but the model needs to be proved.”

The promise is one monthly bill and consumption billing.

Anyone in managed services gets the model and embraces the subscription model, even if they are not using the same words. And it is perfect for security as an ongoing process, with user training and management. And good for SolarWinds MSP as it builds out its technology partnerships.