Virtual clouds can be a physical challenge for MSPs to develop, support, and maintain—plus market them to clients. Customers, enticed by software vendors such as Microsoft, with its constant marketing push for Office 365, respond well to IT-as-a-service offerings. But getting your infrastructure built to support those clients can be time-consuming and expensive. That’s why Nerdio, a hosted virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI)/ITaaS offering spun out of Chicago-based IT consultancy Adar Inc., developed a reseller channel.
“We host virtualized servers and desktops in a cloud that’s tightly integrated with Office 365,” says Paul Guerin, vice president of sales and business development, Adar Inc. “Some call it ITaaS, but we call it direct-attached storage with benefits.”
Guerin, a serial entrepreneur involved in companies such as Rebit (acquired by Carbonite) and Jabber (acquired by Cisco), joined the Nerdio team to start that channel program in mid-2016. He outlines the “secret sauce” that drew him to Nerdio: “First, we developed standardized use cases for ITaaS. After supporting thousands of customers, we realized they were all really one-offs,” he says. “We looked at how to standardize and commoditize this into a perfect VDI implementation. This included more desktop, server, and security resources, and enterprise support with full disaster recovery.”
He continues: “Second, we developed our proprietary Nerdio Admin Panel, or NAP. We added all the high-level resources needed to let MSPs discover, provision, onboard, manage, and bill the users. And we provide a 40- to 50-point margin opportunity.”
Reseller and Customer Profiles
Nerdio looks for resellers who are already working with Office 365 and see advanced cloud services as a strategic part of their future. “The customer sweet spot is 25 to 150 users, but [we] have clients with as few as 10 desktops,” says Guerin.
More than 20 resellers have signed on within the last few months at one of three levels: Bronze, Silver, or Gold. Each step up adds more discount points, which Guerin knows are critical for his channel partners. “Margin remains a huge issue for all resellers, and the channel has been struggling with this issue forever. If there [were] only one TV left in the world, it would be discounted.”
At least a quarter of the channel members have signed up multiple customers, notes Guerin. “This is a great option for customers as they approach a server refresh every four or five years. If an MSP has a hundred clients, we assume maybe 20 will face this choice in any one year.” Guerin expects active Nerdio resellers to sign up one or two new customers per quarter.
Moving to zero or ultrathin clients takes out a lot of break-fix issues, says Guerin. Using a BYOD approach, customers can access their desktops from any device, including iPads and Chromebooks. “Wherever you left off, that’s where you start again,” says Guerin. Customers keep their networks, routers, printers, and usually a mix of PCs and zero clients.
For the MSP, Nerdio offers what Guerin calls “three-click management.” Everything can be managed within three clicks or less. That includes disaster recovery testing with a single click, something that used to take weeks to set up and execute. Nerdio’s data centers are near Chicago and in Virginia.
“When I came last year to put fresh eyes on the revenue model, it was clear the right go-to-market strategy for Nerdio was the channel,” says Guerin. “We launched in the fourth quarter of 2016. Most [MSPs] we talk to would have to spend a half-million [dollars] at least to do this, and they wouldn’t have our Nerdio Admin Portal. They can now move to advanced cloud services without the cost and risk of doing it themselves.”
Guerin sums up: “We help resellers lower the cost of delivering the product. With our standardized product and Nerdio Admin Portal, our clients do it with fewer skilled people and resources than deploying [on-premises] services.”