Klemsy - Fotolia

Autotask FSS offering grows channel-partner presence

Autotask has signed up more than 100 partners to resell its file sync-and-share technology, which it acquired earlier this year in its acquisition of Soonr.

Autotask Corp. has signed up more than 100 channel partners to sell its file sync-and-share offering, which the company acquired in its July 2015 purchase of Soonr.

The company, based in East Greenbush, N.Y., is ramping up its file sync-and-share (FSS) efforts, seeing opportunities for the technology and its channel partners in document security and group collaboration. Autotask, which also provides professional services automation (PSA), as well as remote monitoring and management products, aims to integrate Autotask FSS into those tools -- a process that is already underway.

Mark Cattini, Autotask's president and CEO, said he views FSS as a critical area in which the company's managed service provider (MSP) customers can add value and cultivate a meaningful part of their recurring revenue. On top of that, the market is growing, and, according to Cattini, is mostly untapped. Autotask, citing IDC research, noted that sales of FSS services are expected to grow 32% in 2015 to $1.67 billion.

"It's a really significant market and still largely underpenetrated," Cattini said.

Len DiCostanzo, senior vice president of community and business development at Autotask, said the company is actively recruiting partners to sell the company's FFS product, Autotask Workplace. The 100-plus partners currently in place are in addition to distributors.

"We have 7,000 or so customers who use Autotask who are ripe to be turned into reselling partners," he said.

DiCostanzo said the company aims to work with partners to show them how to generate monthly recurring revenue by adding Autotask Workplace into their managed services portfolios.

That's the approach Anchor Network Solutions Inc. is taking with FSS, although the company expects to boost income from greater efficiency, rather than product markup.

We've added it [FSS] to our service offering. It has made a lot of sense for where we see clients going.
Vince TinnirelloCEO, Anchor Network Solutions

"We've added it to our service offering," said Vince Tinnirello, CEO at Anchor Network Solutions, an MSP based in Lone Tree, Colo. "It has made a lot of sense for where we see clients going."

Tinnirello said his company's approach is to pass Autotask FSS through to customers at cost. But, he added, the offering can still improve the company's bottom line. Here's why: Tinnirello said his company deals with customers who have frequent remote-access issues, which generate a lot of phone calls to the service desk. But when a customer uses FSS, it reduces the number of support calls and the amount of time technicians spend working through issues. As a result, Anchor Network Solutions makes more money on the managed services agreement.

"I get asked all the time: 'Are you making any money on it [FSS]?'" Tinnirello said, suggesting his no-markup tactic isn't quite what his questioners expected. "I feel a lot of our peers can't get their arms around that."

Selling points

Overall, Tinnirello cited remote access as the leading selling point for Autotask Workplace at the moment. He cited the example of a customer in the construction industry whose site supervisors need to access project drawings and other files located on in-house servers. Typically, those remote workers would need to use a virtual private network (VPN) to obtain those files, but FSS provides secure access without the need for VPN.

"It's hard to VPN into a network from the hood of a pickup with a MiFi card," Tinnirello said.

The company says their Autotask FSS offering provides built-in, enterprise-grade features, such as remote device wipe and data leak prevention. Tinnirello also noted that data is encrypted in transit and at rest.

In addition to remote access, security ranks as an important FSS channel opportunity, Cattini said. He said organizations tend to focus on data security, but the security of documents may be neglected; businesses often store documents on thumb drives or in email files.

"Document security is a real need," Cattini noted.

Patrick Burns, vice president of product management at Autotask, said Autotask Workspace provides a great way for MSPs that have not traditionally specialized in security to start a security conversation with their customers. A security discussion regarding documents could lead to additional business.

"And now that they have that dialogue with the customer, they can choose to get into other dimensions of security," Burns said.

Collaboration within the enterprise is another use case resellers can pursue with FSS. "Collaboration is an enormous benefit, while solving the security issue," Cattini said.

Autotask FSS: Integration

Autotask's Endpoint Management software can be used to deploy and install Autotask Workplace for file sync and sharing or to uninstall an older version. Autotask is releasing the first unified PSA/endpoint-management service ticket in the first quarter that automates numerous workflows and eliminates the need to access two separate systems for many of the processes associated with servicing client endpoints, according to Autotask. This enables MSPs to better run their operations and deliver a better experience for their customers, according to the company. Autotask Endpoint Management can also help discover the use of personal file-sharing offerings, such as Dropbox, and help uncover business opportunities for MSPs.

Autotask recently completed a link between Autotask's PSA component and Autotask Workplace. All FSS offerings and plans -- a particular product-service bundle, for example -- are migrating into Autotask Workplace, so those offerings can be quoted. When a customer sale closes, the FSS syncs the customer information and sends the appropriate data to the PSA system, which creates the contract that's used for monthly billing.

Autotask will also work to integrate its FSS capabilities into its PSA application to support an MSP's internal document management needs. This integration, targeted for the second half of 2016, will help MSPs become familiar with Autotask Workplace, so they can resell and deploy it for customers, the company noted.  

Next Steps

Read how channel partners can offer services around file sync and share

Gain insight into the future of FSS and enterprise content management

Learn more about RMM selection factors

Dig Deeper on Technology Business Management Software