To a greater extent perhaps than ever before, the IT industry today is packed with more start-ups, up-and-comers, and underappreciated innovators than most overworked channel pros can possibly keep up with. So let us do it for you! Here’s our annual look at some of the latest, greatest, least-known, but most interesting vendors in SMB technology.
Atera Networks Ltd.
Name-brand companies like ConnectWise and Autotask aren’t the only ones building integrated, cross-functional managed service software suites these days. Atera, an Israeli company that entered the North American market a year ago, with U.S. headquarters in Seattle, offers a similar solution combining RMM, PSA, and remote access functionality in one cloud-based bundle. Unlike its more famous competitors, however, Atera charges a flat fee beginning at $59 a month per technician, no matter how many customers or endpoints that person supports. www.atera.com
A Polish company with U.S. headquarters in San Francisco, Axence makes a solution named nVision that it calls an “integrated IT management” platform but that you’ll probably just call RMM software instead. nVision offers user and network activity monitoring and automated hardware and software inventory collection, as well as built-in help desk and security functionality. Available as a free download with a surprisingly lengthy list of features, the system also comes in a Pro edition with additional features that most MSPs will want. www.axence.net
Clients who pay their bill late, or claim they never got your invoice. Hours spent chasing after overdue receivables. Sound familiar? West Fargo, N.D.-based ConnectBooster makes a payments automation solution designed specifically for MSPs that eliminates headaches like that by enabling you to create set-and-forget billing processes that collect money from your clients automatically via ACH and credit cards. The system integrates with PSA software from ConnectWise and Autotask, as well as Intuit’s QuickBooks accounting solution, so it knows exactly what to charge and records every transaction without manual assistance. www.connectbooster.com
Datadog Inc. and RightScale Inc.
Most MSPs support multiple cloud-based services these days, each with its own management interface. New York-based Datadog and Santa Barbara, Calif.-based RightScale make solutions that let you administer many if not most of those services through a single, centralized console. Both systems support Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud Platform, and Microsoft Azure among other public clouds, as well as private clouds based on the OpenStack platform. They also provide performance dashboards, automated alerts, and a variety of reporting and analytical tools. Free editions with limited functionality are available from both vendors for anyone curious to give their systems a test spin. www.datadoghq.com, www.rightscale.com
San Francisco-based Salesforce.com Inc. isn’t exactly an underappreciated name in the SMB channel, but its Desk.com solution is. Based loosely on software that Salesforce.com acquired from Assistly in 2011, Desk.com is an easy-to-deploy online customer support application optimized for the era of cloud computing, mobility, and social media. Users can take service requests not just via phone and email but through social networks like Twitter too, for example, and the system features a self-serve customer support knowledge base that allows end users to handle frequently asked questions on their own. “The platform is very flexible and well designed,” says Christopher Chute, research vice president for global SMB cloud and mobility at analyst firm IDC. www.desk.com
This Toronto-based company makes an unusually comprehensive PSA system equipped with built-in quoting, CRM, and project management functionality, plus native support for a wide range of mobile devices, email systems, and calendars. Licenses cost $39 per user per month for the field tech edition and $79 per user per month for the standard edition. Promys emphasizes that both rates are all-inclusive, with no surprise extras, and that its contracts, which are renewable every 90 days, don’t require long-term commitments. www.promys.com
Strictly speaking, no company that’s been around since 1995 qualifies as a promising newcomer, but Tenrox, which is now owned by Upland Software Inc., of Austin, Texas, doesn’t come up in discussions about PSA software as often as it probably should. Its cloud-based, workflow-driven solution includes resource, time, and expense management features; reporting and analytics tools; and out-of-the-box integration with a host of leading CRM, financial, and payroll systems. www.tenrox.com