Project Helios, which is expected to be generally available sometime next year, will initially complement Kaseya’s core VSA solution, but is likely to be preferred by net-new customers and in the long run could well become Kaseya’s flagship solution.
At the Kaseya Connect conference in Orlando Wednesday, the remote management and monitoring software provider made several extremely significant announcements. The most notable, however, was Project Helios, which has been almost two years in development, and is a Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) offering that will initially supplement, and in the long term, likely displace, Kaseya’s core VSA IT management product.
“Project Helios is a completely re-imagined IT management solution for mobility and the Internet of Things,” said Yogesh Gupta, Kaseya’s CEO. “It’s a huge undertaking, which we have been working on since May 2013. We are expecting it to be in private beta by the summer, with a small number of customers, and in public beta later in the year. We expect it will be available in general release sometime next year.”
Gupta said Project Helios is a completely different concept in IT management, which rethinks what is possible and necessary in a world of cloud and ubiquitous mobility.
“The basic steps of IT management haven’t changed in the last 20 years, while other parts of the IT world have changed dramatically over the same period,” Gupta said. “We are completely reimaging IT management for a world in which businesses are going to be using more and more cloud services, and where mobility and ‘always connected’ are fundamental. That combination of cloud and mobile requires a different approach to management, now that data and its velocity have become much more complex.
“Helios builds an IT management platform as a service, designed for IT management,” Gupta stated. “In the same way that Salesforce has a platform for sales and CRM, we have one for IT management – the first in the industry. It will deal with hundreds of millions of events every day – a universal directory that tracks users and devices and what they are and are not allowed to do.”
Gupta indicated that Project Helios has three major components: infrastructure; platform-as-a-service, and the top layer where management apps fit.
“IT management apps will be very different tomorrow than they are today in particular looking for anomalies of behavior rather than rule-based event monitoring solely,” he said. “We don’t think humans can scale up to the levels that will be required. Helios can, and will be able to look at all the apps on the platform.”
The apps are the key to the platform, Gupta said. When the private beta begins, the apps will be from Kaseya, and limited in number to those areas where Kaseya are experts. However, the platform is completely open, which will encourage others to both modify existing apps and develop new ones for it.
“Because our PaaS is open, everything, whether built by us or a third party, has the same access,” he said. “The need for apps beyond those areas of core monitoring and other IT management where we are the experts is very broad. We see lots of apps being built by third parties and existing third party apps being integrated onto our platform.”
For example, Gupta said that Redbox, a Kaseya customer which provides rental machines with DVD, Blu-Ray disks and video games, would likely put their own app on the platform.
“They wouldn’t do one to monitor to see if the box is working,” he said. “They would want to see what is being used in each Redbox, and what is about to run out. That’s the kind of app I don’t expect to build, but it is something they could build themselves very easily.”
Gupta discussed the key issue of whether, once Project Helios is available, and validated in the market, it will displace their legacy VSA solution as Kaseya’s core offering.
“I think that many VSA customers will continue to use it, but some will try Helios as well, and let them run both side by side,” he said. “VSA has had a tremendous amount of investment over the last decade, and has capabilities that are very broad and very deep. We do see customers using Helios if they are starting from scratch. If they are already using VSA, we see the two as complementary, at least in the near term. People have been using Android phones and tablets for the last few years, but they still have their notebooks. They just carry multiple devices. The analogy is very similar.”
The announcements around the VSA roadmap were significant, and indicate that Kaseya doesn’t see it as an offering that is about to be displaced. Gupta also acknowledged that the vast majority of customers at the event were extremely interested in the enhancements coming to VSA.
These enhancements include a new sandbox for both on-prem and cloud customers.
“We have built a new VSA cloud infrastructure, and as part of that are now offering our customers a free sandbox for testing things in their environment, so they can have their IT folks work on things before moving them into production,” Gupta said.
Gupta said that improving VSA’s scalability is a top priority on the roadmap.
“The scale needed is so different now,” he said. “Five years ago, we had only a few customers who managed 10,000-20,000 endpoints, and now we have many of them. Today we have only a few who manage 100,000-200,000 endpoints, but we expect that we will soon have many in that range. So we are working hard on improving the scalability, and as customers’ endpoints grow, that need will continue to grow.”
Other forthcoming enhancements Gupta noted include a response to customer requests for the ability to get self-service capability on VSA, and building a “brand new Swiss army knife of remote management,” enhanced multi-function capability that does not only remote control but many other things.