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

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June 3, 2021 |

Augmentt Says Large MSPs and SaaS Specialists Are Out in Front on Cloud Management

The recently launched startup reports particularly strong interest in its products among two channel segments that see big promise in the budding market for SaaS management services.

Nine months after officially opening its doors, software-as-a-service management vendor Augmentt is seeing plenty of interest in its recently expanded lineup of products. The specific patterns of that interest, however, hint at which channel pros are most aggressively pursuing the still rapidly growing market for cloud services.

While IT providers of all kinds are investigating Augmentt’s two generally available solutions, a majority fall within two broad categories: managed services generalists with expertise in multiple technologies and “born in the cloud” SaaS partners laser-focused on just one field. The MSPs, adds Augmentt President and CEO Derek Belair, skew heavily toward bigger, more sophisticated firms. 

“They’ve seen hardware and software sales declining, they’re seeing network security services kind of stall out specifically these last few years, and they’re looking for ways to futureproof their business by putting a stake in that SaaS services space,” he says.

The SaaS specialists, by contrast, tend to be younger, smaller firms eager to be seen as cost-effective alternatives to MSPs for strategic cloud development and integration work.

“They see the MSP channel as being a bit of a traditional channel, and they see themselves as the new players on the block,” Belair says.

Both channel segments are in the right place at the right time to profit from accelerating demand for cloud services. According to IDC, in fact, worldwide sales of SaaS applications grew 18.6% last year to $148.4 billion, fueled amid the coronavirus pandemic by sudden, urgent demand for solutions that employees can access from home as well as the office. Channel pros with the right skills and a little hustle, Belair notes, can “intercept those dollars,” which customers will spend with or without their assistance.

“What’s different about SaaS compared to the shift of resellers towards managed service providers is that SaaS is a movement that’s happening independent of the MSP,” he says. “The end customer is flocking towards SaaS.”

That growing stampede is what motivated Belair and Gavin Garbutt, two veterans of RMM software pioneer N-able, to create Augmentt, which aims to help channel pros serve SaaS-mad businesses efficiently. The company’s first product, Discover, helps users inventory and monitor all of an organization’s SaaS deployments, including unauthorized “shadow IT” systems. Engage, originally named Manage and released last week, offers centralized, multi-tenant support for provisioning, managing, and securing SaaS applications. Junior-level administrators, according to Belair, can use the solution to assign licenses, reset passwords, onboard users, and more even if they lack extensive cloud management experience. 

“It really makes it difficult for organizations to bring on a lot of new customers when everything is being done by the senior techs,” he observes.

The system’s security functionality, which includes the ability to apply policies across all or part of an organization and track multifactor authentication adoption, are especially needed, Belair continues. “Most MSPs today tend to focus on perimeter security, the network, and so on,” he says. “SaaS has quickly become probably one of the biggest blind spots to security out there.”

Engage also employs a least privilege access model that allows channel pros to support a customer without giving everyone on their team rights to the client’s administrative credentials, Belair notes. “It just makes it very, very easy to do all of those onboarding and offboarding activities without ever having to touch the user ID and password to log into the portal,” he says. “It’s all done by connecting our application to that tenant.”

For the moment, Engage works exclusively with Microsoft 365. Support for Google Workspace is set to arrive within weeks, followed later this year by Salesforce. According to Belair, Augmentt will eventually work its way down a list of roughly 20 SaaS applications equipped with administrative APIs, including Slack, Adobe Creative Cloud, and Atlassian’s Confluence solution.

Integration with third-party PSA and RMM solutions, including products from ConnectWise and N-able (formerly SolarWinds MSP, the business unit formed by parent company SolarWinds after it purchased the original N-able and RMM software maker LOGICnow), lets users exchange information with other line-of-business tools. “Between now and the end of the year, you’re going to see a lot more integration coming out,” Belair says.

Users can choose between two pricing options. Essential licenses, which sell for 49 cents per end user seat per month and drop to as low as 30 cents on high-volume orders, provide administrative support for essential SaaS tools like Microsoft 365 and Google Workspace. Premium licenses, which start at 99 cents per seat per month, add higher-end applications like Salesforce. Subscribers can transfer seats between customers as needed.

Augmentt has a third solution, called Optimize, in beta testing. That system will help MSPs trim wasteful spending on SaaS applications by monitoring usage and spending data.

SkyKick, CloudBolt, and Nuvolex are three among many vendors with similar eyes on the cloud management market, several of which appear on ChannelPro‘s Vendors on the Vanguard list for 2021

Legacy RMM vendors are scrambling to add comparable functionality to their platforms as well. Last December, for example, Datto announced plans to increase R&D outlays on SaaS, IaaS, and continuity by close to 40%. Kaseya unveiled a new RMM architecture designed to let MSPs handle server, PC, network, IoT, and cloud management through a single interface the following month.


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