SaaS – The New “Cash Cow”

The conversation about software as a service (SaaS) has been going on for a long time.  The evolution of hosted applications is pretty interesting. It all started back in the 1960s when IBM and other mainframe vendors offered computing power and database storage from their data centers to the financial industry and other large firms.  Fast forward to the 1990s when, with the proliferation of the internet, Application Service Providers (ASPs) began offering hosted business applications. According to Wikipedia, the acronym (SaaS) allegedly first appeared in an article published in February 2001 by the Software & Information Industry Association (SIIA).

Some may think SaaS is passé and has been talked about to death, but although SaaS can be considered a “mature” market there are some very good reasons to revisit cloud software:

  1. Industry analysts and mainstream media all cite SaaS as a technology with strong growth prospects for both adoption and spending. AMI estimates that worldwide, small, medium and large businesses (SMLBs) spent $62 billion on SaaS solutions in 2017 and that figure is projected to more than double by 2021.
  2. Globally, about 22 million firms are planning to allot more of their IT budgets for hosted/cloud solutions as opposed to on-premise IT products and services with the largest portion slotted for SaaS applications.
  3. SaaS solutions are major forces driving growth as industry mainstays, who were formerly strong on-premise vendors, shift emphasis to the cloud. For example, Oracle reported Q3’17 overall cloud revenue increased 51%, but SaaS revenues rose 62% and Microsoft reported strong increases across all of its cloud offerings and is now the leading cloud service provider (Office 365 revenues alone increased over 10%).

“SaaS” comprises a wide variety of different cloud-based applications, from the most basic e-mail to solutions tailored for very specific industries.  Spending in 2017 on prominent hosted applications was strong. Beyond email, other leading apps included hosted CRM, business intelligence, productivity and highly customized line of business software (vertical or industry specific software).

As SMLBs seek to leverage technology to help them reduce OPEX, improve efficiency and employee productivity and improve the customer experience, many are looking to the cloud as a solution. About one-third of firms we surveyed reported migrating more applications to cloud services was very important to their company’s continued success. Firms reported a variety of reasons for adopting cloud solutions, including cost savings, scalability and flexibility.  Many businesses feel SaaS solutions allow them access to technologies that might otherwise have been out of reach cost wise, while others utilize cloud services because it enables them to reduce system hardware by using cloud vendors’ servers to store data. In addition, SMLBs will increasingly look to bundle SaaS solutions when making new PC and device purchases.  Popular bundles include hosted productivity suites, security, data back-up/recovery, online data storage, and online document collaboration.

Overall, projected growth for SaaS apps is strong through 2021 (20% CAGR).  Fueling this growth will be solutions such as productivity, point of sales, business intelligence, email, quotes & invoicing and travel and expense solutions.

Software as a Service is a concept that will continue to evolve as it is a win-win for everyone.  SMLBs will benefit as they shift legacy on-premise solutions to seat-based models for cost savings, flexibility and scalability, as well as access to new technologies. Independent software vendors (ISVs) offering cloud solutions will be able to attract and engage firms that may not want to incur the large capital investments required for on-premise installations. Cloud hosters, such as AWS, Microsoft Azure, Google and IBM, will benefit as more ISVs shift their current on-premise solutions to the cloud.

~ Eileen Zimbler, VP

Leave the Security Nightmare to your Trusted Managed Security Service Provider

Adoption of new technologies like mobile, analytics and cloud are resulting in a diverse and complex IT environment unlike anything we have seen, spanning multiple delivery models, vendors, processes and data. Both the business and technological drivers are responsible for this level of complexities. The business drivers increase the communication and transaction, whereas the technological drivers represent the fast-paced growth. At the same time, vulnerabilities are growing fast, whereas the budget for the security group is flat and faces resource crunches. Managing such a complex environment can be challenging. As a result, organizations cannot do it alone and need to look for a trusted IT services provider to help them quickly respond to business demands, manage ICT complexities, support desired levels of availability and adopt technology innovation. Managed services span a range of capabilities, creating options for organizations looking to benefit from externally provided services that allow them to focus on more business-critical issues and strategic functions and activities.

As per AMI’s Global Market Model, 24% of the global small, medium and large businesses (SMLBs) ICT spending will be driven through Managed Service Providers (MSPs), during 2021 with a 17% CAGR growth over 5 years. The scenario is even more promising when it comes to APAC SMLB organizations with a CAGR growth of 20% on MSP business contributions by 2021. Be it small companies, mid-sized or large businesses, look to trusted managed services providers to address a range of the issues around cost, complexity, service quality and risk. With the increase of hybrid IT environments based on the workloads, cloud is the new normal and has become the mainstream for managed services delivery. Around 55% MSPs in APAC countries interviewed for AMI’s WW Managed Service Provider study, indicates using a Hybrid Cloud model to run their business.

With these increased complexities in the enterprise ICT infrastructure, security has become a much deeper executive discussion because of the modern diversity of channels through which businesses can be attacked. Mobility, bring your own device, virtualisation, the cloud, and social media have all opened new doors into the organization. Adding pressure to organizations is the fact that technologies, business models, regulatory environments, and the threat landscape are evolving continuously. So, security has become a broad discipline that affects the entire organization and calls for a range of highly specialized and dynamic skills and technologies that most businesses don’t currently have. Organizations need enough highly qualified engineers and security specialists to run the security systems 24/7, analyse the information continuously, and be able to respond immediately. This also needs continuous technology updates and the cumulative experience, insight, and knowledge of thousands of independent security experts globally to pre-empt attacks. This almost impossible mission must be achieved. Thus, giving thrust of managed security services adopted by businesses globally. Providing security services as part of the broader managed service offering was always a key offering from the leading managed service providers and will continue to be so. Around 80% of the MSPs interviewed in APAC highlighted managed security services as one of their key offering which is expected to contribute over a quarter of their overall managed service revenue annually.

The opportunity for partners offering managed security services will not go away any time soon. Driving that trend is the shortage of security talent to deliver the right service in-house. There is no shortage of tools to help secure networks and data. However, tools alone can’t prevent security breaches. Managed Security Services typically offer the security solutions like Managed Firewall, Managed Intrusion Detection and Prevention, Managed Email Gateway, Managed Web Gateway, Managed Web Application Firewall (WAF) and Monitored & managed integrated security appliance service. These services, for the most part, include 24/7 technical phone support, on-site consulting, around-the-clock security monitoring and maintenance, access to the client security portal and comprehensive reporting.

To maintain the SLA clauses in the managed services environment, it is critical for the organization and the services provider both to have a clear picture about the performance metrics, security tools and policies and resiliency level the organization requires. Balancing the performance and service-level requirements with the right cost is an important exercise. Nearly 35% of MSPs in the APAC region believe customers are likely to move to a lower-priced competitor, hence they look for better support from their respective partners to remain competitive in the market. MSPs in APAC budget roughly 7% of revenues to promote their managed services which indeed needs to get a boost, as the overall market potential for Managed Service business grows in this region.

~ Surjyadeb Goswami,  Regional VP APAC

Managed Security Market Gaining Strength by the Day

Many companies have been the victim of cyberattacks including Malware, Denial-of-Service(DoS) and Ransomware. A recent example being Equifax, where hackers were able to get personal and confidential details of approximately 143 million people. SMBs are more vulnerable to these attacks due to a lack of expertise and budget. Managed Service Providers (MSPs) are leveling the field for SMBs and LBs by providing these specialized security services. The Managed Security market is growing exponentially with the rise in cybercrimes and security threats. Business factors such as meeting the needs of compliance and data protection laws, budget constraints, lack of in-house expertise and increased adoption of cloud services are shaping the future of the Managed Security market.

According to AMI’s Global Model, SMBs around the world are spending approximately $11 Billion on Remotely Managed Security, which is expected to grow at a CAGR of 14% by 2021. The increasing demand from SMBs is the key driver for this growth. As the services offered by SMBs increase, the need for high-level security for sensitive and confidential information is also expected to increase. AMI’s MSP study shows that 22% of an MSP’s total revenue is generated by providing Managed Security Services to clients and it will continue to grow. This is a great opportunity for MSPs to expand their security offerings.

 Region wise, North America is expected to remain the largest market for Managed Security Services as most managed security service providers and technology vendors are based in the US. The U.S. is expected to account for 92% of the market by 2021 for Remotely Managed Security Services.

Challenges:

Data is the new currency in this era and that is the biggest challenge for Managed Security Providers. As the data increases, MSPs find it difficult to provide scalability due to the lack of integration between various security platforms and tools. There are no pre-packaged technologies that fit all the security needs of various types of businesses. These security needs are business specific and require considerable time, effort and monetary investment.

From a SMB’s perspective, there is always a risk involved with the handling of critical information through a third-party security provider, including the risk of sensitive information getting into the wrong hands. So, establishing trust with these businesses is a big challenge for MSPs. Additionally, according to the MSP study over 60% of Managed Security Service Providers find it challenging to maintain close relationship with vendors.

Expectations from Vendors:

MSP’s share in overall revenue for the vendor is growing quickly as SMBs shift their focus to core business offerings and outsource all other IT services required to run the business. Certainly, MSPs are expecting competitive prices and premium customer service from vendors. Additional selection criteria include:

  • Delivering technologically superior platforms and tools compared to other competitors in the market
  • Highly scalable and customizable technology solutions according to the customer’s needs
  • In addition to technology, vendors are expected to carry all the relevant certification and audit credentials to be compliant with the data privacy and security laws especially in regulated verticals such as Healthcare, Banking, etc.

These are a few of the many challenges and selection criteria uncovered in AMI’s MSP study. This research demonstrates that expansion of managed security offerings such as Endpoint Security and Remote Monitoring and Management (RMM) could be a major contributing factor in the growth of the managed security market. MSPs should pay attention to several growth factors such as flexibility for changing requirements, high level of automation, regular security testing, quick customer support and the ability to provide end-to-end security solutions. Taking steps in these directions will help MSPs to stay on top in this competitive market.

~Ankit Mehta, Associate

Black Friday for Small Businesses? Why Not?

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Quick Trivia: A company in NYC with less than 10 employees is out of paper for printing. What would they do?

Contact a service provider sitting 5000 miles away who provides managed print services.

Walk across the street and buy a bundle from Staples.

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According to AMI’s Global Model, 30% of IT hardware procured by small businesses in the United States is through a retail channel such as Best Buy or directly from a vendor.

(Click here for an interactive demo of AMI’s Global Model)

Due to the lack of simple procurement solutions and the proliferation of e-commerce, small businesses continue to buy IT hardware through consumer-focused channels. The trend is likely to continue until we see a ground up change in the way Channel Partners target small businesses.

As the buying behavior of small businesses continue to align with consumers, companies can target small businesses using marketing strategies that are developed for consumer holiday seasons

Would it work for me?

Dell Inc. appears to have identified a market. The company has been putting out black Friday and holiday season ads specifically targeting small businesses.

Is Black Friday the only time?

For businesses, there could be many buying seasons like budgetary or quarterly cycles, conference seasons, industry events such as Google IO, Worldwide Developer Conference. But most companies attending industry events have small businesses at the tail end of their priority list. They generally market solutions for medium or large businesses.

Consumer focused events like Black Friday or Cyber Monday, provide an opportunity to tap into small businesses that have similar buying patterns to individual shoppers. Such businesses typically do not have the resources to contract with Channel Partners or sign long term agreements.

In Conclusion

A sale to small business is not always via a lengthy sales pitch and long-term contract. There is still quite a lot of interest in “Buy It Now” products, it’s only a matter of identifying these businesses.

Learn more

Ask us about small business buying patterns and behaviors. Find out the most preferred purchase channel for your product category. Email us at ask_ami@ami-partners.com

~Karthik Pannala, Associate

How are Regulated Industries using Managed Services?

Government is tightening rules and regulations on data storage and security especially in regulated industries such as healthcare, and financial services. These sectors include doctor’s offices, banks, and credit unions, where sensitive information is collected and stored. Firms in these industries are leveraging the expertise of Managed Service Providers (MSPs) to setup and manage compliant IT environments. Hence, these providers are on the front lines ensuring data security and navigating a myriad of laws and regulations on behalf of their clients.

According to AMI’s Global Model, SMBs across the world are spending almost $63B on remotely managed services, this spending is forecasted to grow at 15% CAGR by 2021. SMBs in regulated industries such as Banking/Finance and Healthcare account for nearly 20% of this spending and is forecast to grow at 12% CAGR by 2021. This represents overwhelming opportunities for MSPs in these industries especially in providing specialized managed services such as security, storage and networking to mention a few.

MSPs serving these industries are handling responsibilities above and beyond handling managed services. The focus is not only on keeping people and systems working, but also on making sure they work in a legally compliant manner. These MSPs typically have a dedicated compliance and security department that stays on top of regulations such as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), and the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS). In case of a successful hack, investigators determine whether the victim organization followed all laws, had appropriate policies and procedures in place, and if the IT department was properly designed and capable of handling the security needs. The aim is to examine if the IT department was susceptible to that breach or hack. MSPs serving these industries need to be diligent and take an active role in encouraging their clients to update their policies and meticulously follow procedures.

A recent study conducted by AMI shows that MSPs are increasingly focusing on these regulated industries to expand their portfolios and customer base. Larger MSPs with more than $10M in annual revenues are forming vendor partnerships with the needs of their regulated industry clients in mind. The top of mind concern for these MSPs while partnering with vendors, be it an Remote Monitoring & Management (RMM) vendor or a Professional Services Automation (PSA) vendor or a hosting platform provider, is to ensure that they carry relevant compliance certifications and audit credentials. In addition, serving regulated industries and demonstrating vertical industry specific expertise allows MSPs to stand out in a crowded, commoditized MSP market. AMI’s MSP Study shows that MSPs focus on services such as Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS), and Archiving as a Service (AraaS) especially in regulated verticals. It is imperative to store/archive historical data as well as to have systems up and running all the time with fast up time in case of an outage.

The stakes are high for businesses as far as security and compliance are concerned. Businesses are looking for ways to offload these cumbersome tasks on experienced partners in order to focus on their core missions. So, MSPs are increasingly targeting these regulated industries that cannot afford to be lenient with their security standards.

~Kunika Sodhi, Associate

Got MSP?

Managed Service Providers (MSPs) are upping the stakes in the current cloud land grab. By rapidly expanding their portfolio of service offerings they expect to capture larger share of wallet. Their customers are aligned with this approach as they seek out full-service providers able to meet all their technology needs.

A Growing Market

By 2021 MSPs will deliver close to 25% of all technology products and services globally, up from 18% today. This is an impressive business transformation story – thousands of IT resellers and systems integrators (most of them small companies with less than $10M in revenues) have displayed a clear vision and competent leadership in enhancing their organizations’ capabilities and infrastructure to keep revenues growing in this challenging business climate.

The number of MSPs worldwide will grow from 50,000 to 75,000 between 2016-2021, with the total IT products/services they deliver growing from $500 billion to over $1 trillion during the same time.

Their services portfolios, which initially included pure infrastructure services such as storage, security essentials, compute power, web hosting, and application hosting, have now grown to include value add and higher margin services such as disaster recover/business continuity, e-discovery, vulnerability assessment, compliance management, application management, SaaS, and mobile device management among others.

Business Challenges

Despite being in a high growth business, MSPs face tough challenges which require constant attention and fine tuning of their business models. Some of the top challenges are:

  • Differentiating their services from those of other MSPs is a top priority to counter margin erosion and hyper-competition.
  • Absorbing newer technologies, tools, and solutions, packaging them for client consumption, and providing follow up services requires a constant learning and training.
  • Investing in datacenters is yet another critical challenge, which is often detrimental to smaller MSPs.

How Technology Vendors Can Help

Technology solution vendors that are supplying to MSPs can often play a big role in helping MSPs address these challenges. By fully understanding the nature of MSPs operational and business needs, vendors can design their products and programs to enable their MSP customers to win in the market-place.

Key features can be built into products and programs to make them a nuts-to-bolts solution, or packaged to work with other third-party solutions typically used by MSPs. Examples of the types of features that MSPs would like vendors to include in their solutions are:

  • Automation of overall solutions architecture.
  • Automation of customer on-boarding and migration processes.
  • Dynamic and predictive throughput/capability scaling.
  • Performance monitoring and predictive dashboards and controls.
  • Vertical industry-specific sales, marketing, and technical know how.
  • Vertical industry-specific compliance and reporting features.
  • Online university – modular online training videos and certification.

These are some of the insights we have uncovered in our tracking of the worldwide MSP segment. For additional insights and a detailed description of our MSP tracking service and various deliverables click here.

Alternatively, please email John Rezac (jrezac@ami-partners.com) for more details or to schedule a webinar that will walk you through our MSP coverage and insights.

~Deepinder Sahni, SVP

Payroll Software-as-a-Service

We all like to be compensated for our work. Whether it be the new normal of direct deposit, the antiquated live check, or the somewhat controversial pay card (No one is [legally] paid in cash anymore, are they?), payday is a date we circle on the calendar. Companies have the option of outsourcing payroll or keeping it in house. Software can be on-premise or subscribed to as a service. AMI’s research shows the SaaS option is growing but on-premise solutions are still used in most SMBs. Let’s take a look at the SaaS option and see if the cloud makes sense for payroll in the SMB space.

SaaS is Sassy 

According to AMI’s Global Forecast Model, SMB spending in the US on Payroll software-as-a-service will have a CAGR of 13% through 2020. While double digit growth is nothing to dismiss lightly, other SaaS categories are approaching a 30% CAGR over the same time span. Overall, SMB SaaS spending in the US will have Continue reading “Payroll Software-as-a-Service”

Layered Security Solutions

Earlier this week, AMI-Partners joined a call hosted by Trend Micro Inc. that discussed the firm’s collective capabilities in security, covered in three categories titled Hybrid Cloud Security, Network Defense, and User Protection. With security threats becoming more sophisticated, targeted, and frequent, having a layered security solution can prove beneficial in the SMB space. Yearly subscription prices per user range from $38 – $62 for this layered approach to security, which does not put it out of reach for the SMB market. These security solutions (Standard and Advanced packages) are available for both on-premise and hosted delivery.

Competition & Worldwide Spending

Trend Micro, a global security software company that develops products for servers and the cloud computing environment for consumers, governments, and the SMB market, competes in a crowded field with such well know names like McAfee, Microsoft, and Symantec. With an eye toward increased market share and profitability, the company is working to provide business customers with multiple solutions for cybersecurity. The firm is ranked as the top worldwide content security provider for small business (4 years running) by Canalys and claims to block 250M threats each day.

According to AMI’s Global Forecast Model, total worldwide SMB security spending Continue reading “Layered Security Solutions”

SMBs Jumping on the Cloud-Based Managed Services Bandwagon

The rate of change in today’s IT landscape has made it challenging for SMBs to manage IT functions due to tighter budgets and fewer resources. This is pushing SMBs to compensate for their lack of in-house IT capabilities by hiring Managed Services Providers (MSPs) to provide 24*7 IT service and support.

Most MSPs today aim to serve two goals:

  1. To alert their clients about any risk before or when it happens.
  2. To address all the alerts they get.

This approach has resulted in a shift from the traditional “Break-Fix” mentality to a “Fix/Prevent” one where IT issues are addressed before management or employees are disrupted.

Is 2016 the year for Cloud-based MSPs?

The MSP world is changing fast and the latest evolution is the shift to Cloud. According to AMI’s Global Forecast Model, SMBs will spend US$96 Billion on managed services in 2016 growing to US$154 Billion by 2020. To capture this opportunity most MSPs are transitioning towards cloud and hybrid environments by offering services like Remote Monitoring and Management (RMM). This is a great approach as most SMBs have servers that need to be available 24*7 and these servers need round the clock monitoring and management. Apart from RMM, MSPs offer services such as Backup and Disaster Recovery, Help Desk Support and Daily Health Reports to SMBs as they lack in-house resources capable of detecting security flaws or tracking utilization.

In a recent survey conducted by AMI-Partners exploring MSPs’ transformation to Cloud, one MSP stated, “Our cloud business grew from 0 to $3M over the transformation process. It puts us in a good place that we are able to be a single stop shop for SMBs looking for a particular solution, and we can provide that.” MSPs in this study saw their year-on-year revenues grow by 20-30% as a result of this transformation. This raises a question: Will 2016 be the year for cloud-based managed services?

With the increasing popularity of cloud-based services such as XaaS (Everything as a Service), MSPs will be able to provide managed IaaS, SaaS, PaaS in addition to managing security and other services on-premise. Subsequently, cloud vendors like Microsoft, Amazon and IBM are helping MSPs through this transition by providing tools and services such as backup management, 24*7 support and infrastructure management to mention. These tools provide consistency and manageability across blended deployments and deliver improved service quality, and flexibility with hybrid cloud environments.

Security concerns and lack of knowledge is worrying for businesses

A recent AMI study showed that security is the most pressing concern with cloud adoption. One of the most effective ways for MSPs to alleviate this concern is to partner with major cloud providers like Amazon or Microsoft. These trustworthy brands provide benefits such as IP protection and make cloud adoption easier by providing materials such as resource libraries, sales & marketing training, and technical & business support to MSPs. The study also revealed that SMBs are not fully aware of the benefits of cloud. It is important to stress to SMBs that cloud is more secure, scalable and cost beneficial now than it has ever been before.  Moreover, MSPs must assess their customers’ needs and build a value proposition unique in their market.

In order to succeed and thrive in this changing landscape, MSPs need to address these concerns and misconceptions early. With the right strategies and partnerships, there are many opportunities for MSPs.

~Kunika Sodhi, Associate

Prysm Introduces Ground Breaking Technology to the India Marketing Initiative

The AMI Bangalore team had the opportunity to attend an analyst meeting organized by Prysm – a Unified Communication company which specializes in collaborative conferencing solutions. The event showcased how an innovation in the conferencing world could be interactive and immersive at the same time. This new technology will allow users to present, share, reposition, resize and edit various types of content through on-screen touch, PCs, or mobile devices. No longer will conferencing be just about video walls, but a platform which is also scalable, energy efficient and eco-friendly. This is made possible through the platform’s foundation use of Laser Phosphor Display (LPD) technology.

Prysm’s new technology will allow businesses and their employees to collaborate in real time across locations and screens ranging in size from mobile devices to large-scale video walls. This is done through a unique combination of hardware and software as a service (SaaS).

In India Prysm’s primary focus remains on IT companies, Indian conglomerates, Fortune 500 companies and public sector units. Among the small and medium business segment Prysm is targeting the niche segment of the “Analytics” SMBs, who have a global impact. Partnering with Prysm would increase these SMB’s addressable outcome of analytics. They would also be able to enhance their experience through the benefits offered by Prysm’s content and collaboration tools.

Prysm does not consider its competitors as barriers to its market expansion plans in India. As the Prysm technology is completely compatible with other legacy applications; so it has a unique way of partnering with its own competitors. For example, Cisco uses Prysm video walls in its telepresence technology thereby providing complementary content to Cisco and simultaneously enhances the overall experience.

A unique feature of Prysm is its “Multi-content Mirroring” offering the capability of collaboration for users from their devices, regardless of location. They can resize documents and move them as needed; moreover, snapshots act as a long-term repository for important real time data.

“We are spreading our wings globally,” mentioned Amit Jain, CEO and founder of Prysm.  “Nevertheless we continue to view India as our global centre of decision making and we visualize ample opportunity for strategic deployment of Prysm solutions by top CIOs,” Jain concluded.

One of the Prysm’s key strategies in India is the “pull through effect”. There are two types of “pull through” – one comes through MNCs with large footprints in India using Prysm solutions; hence an adoption here could lead to a pull through of a larger group; e.g. someone like Shell or Cisco who have a reasonably strong development and backend office in India. The other strategy is to make channel partners their internal customers and then allow sales activity through them.

Prysm does possess an innovative video collaboration technology that fosters innovation by continuing to push the barriers of traditional communication. However – the caveat areas will include: bringing out the true value proposition of its product, flexible & affordable pricing, and strong channel partnership & distribution strategy. Indian businesses, particularly SMBs are extremely price sensitive and it remains to be seen how reasonably Prysm is able to price its product so as to capture its coveted place among SMBs. Dedicated channel partners for Prysm are a “must” since India end-users are habituated to partners who provide continual support. An additional hurdle is increasing the awareness levels of this relatively “new” technology.

Prysm does have a significant potential for success with this pioneering video collaboration technology if it is able to address the above areas and proceeds to enter the market with a focused Go-To-Market approach and strategy. It will be interesting to see how the use of video collaboration technologies fosters innovation by continuing to push the barriers of traditional communication.

~ Sonam Prasad, Senior Associate