Everyone is telling traditional VARs they need to transition to managed services, but where's the best place to start? Neal Bradbury of Intronis tells us why backup is the best entry point to a recurring revenue business model.
Last week, Barracuda Networks announced the launch of a new, virtual version of the Intronis MSP Edition of its backup solution. Specifically geared toward managed service providers in the channel, the new platform for virtual environments mimics the physical version of Barracuda Backup – Intronis MSP Edition released earlier this year to offer the Holy Grail of MSP technology: flexibility. Partners can deploy the backup platform in physical or virtual environments and bill it as a monthly recurring service. Barracuda brings the tech, and Intronis brings the billing model.
Barraccuda acquired Intronis in September of last year, and since then, Intronis has been taking Baraccuda’s security and protection solutions and “putting the MSP spin on them,” Neal Bradbury, co-founder and vice president of channel development at Intronis, told The VAR Guy. Out of Barracuda’s more than dozen product lines, Intronis has taken four or five core products and tweaked them to be applicable to the MSP market.
The new virtual offering touts the exact technology that’s within Baraccuda’s well-known physical appliances, and possesses the same deduplication processes, ease-of-use and simple setup those appliances boast. But Bradbury says the main selling point of the new offering is that partners don’t need to buy new hardware to back up their virtualized or hybrid environments. Instead, they can optimize their CapEx by injecting a virtualized appliance into their existing environments and, in true Intronis style, bill the solution on a recurring basis.
“The Intronis value-add is that monthly subscription where it’s a fixed cost. [Partners] know what they’re going to pay to us, and that’s really the big differentiator when you take it from the Barracuda side over the Intronis side.”
Despite the nearly year-old acquisition, Barracuda and Intronis still have two distinct channel programs. If you’re an MSP, you’ll deal with Intronis. VARs, resellers and distributors will work directly with Barracuda. “A lot of the programs on the reseller side, they just want their margin and they move on. Whereas on our side, it’s all about owning the customer that is used to paying a subscription.”
But if you’re a VAR looking to make the switch to managed services, Intronis has a support system in place to help with that transition. Intronis Essentials is an enablement package of sales and marketing collateral, as well as advice on how to convert customers from a break-fix model to managed services.
“I always say, too, that backup is one of those first products you can use to transition from a straight-up VAR to managed services because everyone needs backup,” advises Bradbury. Once a reseller establishes an end user on a monthly charge for backup services, it becomes easier to transition more services to that model and bundle them together. Bradbury sees a similar opportunity for telco agents that already offer a monthly billing model and use backup as an easy way to expand into security and other managed services.
These days, the Intronis team is excited about moving into the security space. Their focus is on expanding their services to include proactive as well as reactive solutions for MSPs. “If you look at our portfolio prior to acquisition, it was all backup products. You look at us now, it’s security and backup products.” A couple of weeks ago, Barracuda released a NextGen firewall that’s right in line with Intronis’s mission to prevent as many threats as possible from coming into an end user’s environment—but offering recovery options for those attacks that can’t be stopped.
Bradbury insists (with a grin) that he and his team have no frustrations whatsoever. “But if I had to pick an area for improvement for our partners,” he says diplomatically, “it would be them not taking advantage of our training and all the tools that we have available.”
The company offers training at Intronis University, where all Intronis partners can send their technicians for free to achieve level one or level two certifications in the company’s products. “You’d be shocked at how many partners don’t get their technicians to do it. It’s completely on-demand. They can do it after hours, they can do it at lunch. We’ll send them a t-shirt when they get their certificate,” he says half-jokingly.
More seriously, Bradbury asserts that when partners are certified, their management costs go down because they learn how to use the products to their fullest extent. The more than an MSP focuses on becoming an expert in a select number of solutions, the more efficient they become.
Beyond the technology, Intronis says its biggest selling point to channel partners is its Total Advantage approach to the channel. “We’re immersed in the total ecosystem of our partners. We integrate with all the RMM and PSA tools that our partners use.” And today, the company has more than 2,000 partners that use its services.
It’s all about continuing to push the internal team, the technology and the partners into new service areas and new levels of success. “At the end of the day, if our partners aren’t successful, we’re not successful.”