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August 19, 2014

IT Insanity: One Size DOES NOT Fit All

Vernon Southmayd
Senior Product Manager & Evangelist
ConnectWise, Inc.
Platform Approach to Integrated IT Solutions

It’s 5PM and you receive an email that the latest update is available for your antivirus (AV) software. Because this is security software, you’ve allowed automatic updates. When you get back to the office in the morning, you notice your help desk is receiving an unusually large volume of calls.

Your techs tell you that last night’s AV update brought your clients’ machines to a crawl. Applications like Microsoft Office are no longer opening and it’s happening across all your client sites. Not only do you have broken systems on your hands, you also have a broken trust relationship with your AV vendor.

While you eventually get everyone up and running again and have done your best to reassure your customers that it won’t happen again, you’ve encountered several obstacles (lost time, peace of mind, customer satisfaction, etc.) that will take continued time and effort to overcome.

Your next course of action may be to start looking for a new AV solution. You know you need the same seamless integration with your remote monitoring and management (RMM) solution that you have with your existing AV solution, so you contact your RMM vendor only to discover there are no other integrated options. You quickly come to the realization that if you don’t stay with your current integrated solution, there’s a good chance you’ll simply be trading one operational burden for another.

After running my own IT services business for years and today working with thousands of service providers, few things drive me as crazy as a vendor limiting their clients’ product choices. These proverbial one-size-fits-all approaches may be pitched under the guise of standardization or best practices, which is very important for a number of reasons, but they fail to take into account that the definition of standardization is different for each IT service provider.

We have found that our partners have very calculated reasons for their product choices, including:

Needs and Complexity Levels

Sometimes a solution doesn’t have enough functionality and other times has way too much. Like Goldilocks and the Three Bears, partners have to find the one that is just right for them.


Partners often choose a vendor based on trust earned through a track record of excellent customer service and favorable business terms.

Broken Trust

Partners can just as easily choose to NOT work with a vendor based on trust broken through a track record of low customer service, low quality releases and updates that cause more harm than good.

Technology Shifts

With rapidly shifting technology, sometimes a vendor either can’t keep up or simply isn’t adapting their product to solve for new challenges, which puts the partner at a distinct disadvantage in a highly competitive space.

Financial Savings

The vendor is able to provide the partner initial savings, ongoing savings and fast return on investment (ROI).

These reasons hold true whether you’re considering AV software or another solution area, such as backup and storage, remote control or professional services automation (PSA) software.

The lack of multiple integrated solutions in key areas results in something I like to call an RMM “Franken-platform.” This type of RMM platform isn’t developed with open architecture in mind. It has limited or no APIs and integration can only be developed by the vendor’s internal developers due to complexity. A Franken-platform tends to require significant support time when new product versions are released and leads to scalability issues as your business grows. Imagine having more than one solution creating that type of overhead. The duct tape, stitches and bolts will only hold for so long.

Consider instead a platform approach, which ensures you have more than one reliable integrated product choice in a given solution category, giving you the power to choose the solutions that meet your immediate needs. When your needs change—and you know they will—or when Vendor A loses its effectiveness and a new vendor enters the market, you have the ability to shift rapidly to a new, more effective tool.

A recent example of the platform approach came with the transition of Gartner Magic Quadrant Visionary Webroot into the managed service provider space. Instead of taking a one-size-fits-all approach, Webroot instead sought to provide IT service providers with an integrated experience that exposed the power of their SecureAnywhere solution. Webroot chose to partner with LabTech because of its open platform and worked with LabTech partner Stack Advisors, to rapidly develop an integration that was easy to manage while still offering the full power of the product. And other solutions vendors are doing the same thing.

IT insanity comes in all shapes and sizes, but platform thinking helps to address many of facets of it. One-size-fit-all is just the beginning. In the next article of the IT Insanity series, we’ll show you how platform thinking addresses inefficiencies and productivity loss. You’ll hear how one IT service provider built a plug-in to manage Office 365 in the cloud using LabTech.

Vernon Southmayd Senior Product Manager & Evangelist
ConnectWise, Inc.

As a former luger, where races are measured to the thousandth of a second, Vernon learned the importance of finding the most repeatable, efficient way to do things.


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