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Acer America Corp. is a computer manufacturer of business and consumer PCs, notebooks, ultrabooks, projectors, servers, and storage products.


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June 22, 2020 |

SolarWinds MSP to Partners: “You Have Become Essential”

Which is why most of you have avoided serious financial damage so far despite a global pandemic and economic crash, says SolarWinds MSP President John Pagliuca (pictured), who sees a bright future ahead for MSPs as well.

Deaths from COVID-19 in the U.S. are at roughly 120,000. The unemployment rate stands at 13.3%. The Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta expects GDP to plunge a scarcely conceivable 45.5% in this year’s second quarter. And business conditions for managed service providers are currently…OK.

According to recent data from SolarWinds MSP, in fact, while 42% of MSPs have seen revenue drop, over 50% have not. Only about 10%, moreover, project a substantial revenue decline in the future.

“It’s pretty remarkable,” said SolarWinds MSP President John Pagliuca last week during an online all-partners meeting. It’s also easily explained, he contended.

“You have become essential,” Pagliuca told his audience. “I know that’s a word that’s been thrown around a lot, but it’s absolutely true.” Despite some of the most brutal market conditions of modern times, most MSPs continue to collect money each month from customers who know that recession or no recession there’s simply no doing business without reliable, secure IT.

Simon Beckett, managing director of U.K.-based MSP DynaCom IT Support, has witnessed that phenomenon personally. “We’re very, very lucky compared to certainly the industries that some of our clients are in,” said Beckett during an MSP roundtable discussion. “We are necessary, we are needed, and we’re finding that we’re generally on the top of the pile of people who are getting paid.”

Indeed, DynaCom’s outstanding receivables are actually lower at present than they’ve been in eight years. “People are simply settling those bills and making sure that they’ve got us in the right place and that we’re in a position to support them from a technical standpoint,” Beckett said.

Not that 2020 hasn’t been a wild ride for channel pros, of course. “The question isn’t really is there anything new, but what really has gone unchanged?” Pagliuca noted early in his presentation, adding that the future remains impossible to predict.

“There’s a lot of uncertainty around,” he said. “There’s uncertainty about our health, the virus, protecting our families, our livelihoods. There’s uncertainty around legislation. There’s uncertainty around the economy.” 

History offers no guide to what’s next either, Pagliuca added. “There’s no reference points to the 2008 recession or anything like that. This is unique. It’s unpredictable and it’s changing by the minute.”

That said, Pagliuca asserted, the future for MSPs is a bright one. “Your value has never been greater. You are the problem solvers. In my view, MSPs will actually be the shepherd, a sherpa, to help guide these businesses through this transformation that they’re all going for, and actually help and assist.”

Multiple speakers, including Group Vice President of Customer Success Mike Cullen and Group Vice President of Product Mav Turner, outlined steps SolarWinds MSP is taking to perform a similar function for its partners. For starters, Pagliuca emphasized, citing a public commitment from SolarWinds CEO Kevin Thompson, there will be no cutbacks within the vendor’s support, R&D, or other departments. 

“We are not eliminating jobs,” Pagliuca said. “The people that you’ve come accustomed to servicing you over the past several years will still be there.”

That includes the customer success organization SolarWinds MSP has been building up since last year, most recently through the addition in January of an onboarding unit tasked with helping partners implement and understand new solutions. That was followed the next month by the introduction of a new “Head Nerds” team with specialized knowledge of security, operations, backup, and automation. Members are responsible for developing resources, providing consultation, and delivering training, through both individual courses and in-depth “bootcamps” that have been attended by 5,000 people to date.

Last week, meanwhile, SolarWinds MSP rolled out a new 30-member partner advisory council. Its mission, according to Head of Community Engagement Colin Knox, is “to help inform and drive the services, procedures, and policies of SolarWinds MSP; to help us identify and evaluate product category opportunities; to determine which policies, procedures, products, or even services may need modification or improvement; and to really identify and zero in on the priorities of our partners and their emerging needs based on what’s happening in the industry and various trends.”

Other leaders in managed services software, including ConnectWise, Datto, and Kaseya, have voiced cautious optimism about the future in recent conversations with ChannelPro as well. 

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