ORLANDO – At their Automation Nation event here, ConnectWise announced that their CloudConsole Office 365 management offering has been upgraded, adding the ability for solution providers who do not use ConnectWise Manage to use CloudConsole. They believe this will increase CloudConsole’s adoption among some larger VARs, as well as among MSPs who use a competitor RMM product.
CloudConsole is a product that ConectWise developed in-house, and released last year in March 2016.
“It started out as a migration and management tool for Office 365,” said Craig Fulton, ConnectWise’s Chief Product Officer. Through the pilot testing, we learned the migration tool was not needed. Others already did migration well, so we decided, ‘why re-invent the wheel there’. But the billing was the pain point. That was what our customers wanted.” Last year CloudConsole was expanded to include Microsoft Azure.
“Billing is where we shine,” Fulton told partners in his keynote. “We’ve automated this. It’s hard doing SaaS billing, billing monthly with users coming and going, and up to 10 per cent change per month. We’ve automated that. You don’t have to worry about that. And now we have built it so that you don’t have to have Manage to use this.”
Today, of ConnectWise’s slightly over 8,000 users who are MSPs, only about 700 use CloudConsole.
“The biggest barrier to adoption in the SMB has been that if the customer isn’t asking them for Office 365, the partners aren’t really pushing it,” Fulton said. “A lot of them have made revenue installing infrastructure and supporting it, and are skittish about moving it from that. Our customers say they let their customers know they have this, but that they aren’t pushing it. They also just don’t know how to price it.”
Fulton said that making CloudConsole a standalone product independent of Manage should help them with a couple types of partners beyond their own MSP base
“We see it as a silver bullet for larger VARs, who resell large volumes, of the Microsoft cloud,” he indicated. “We speak to them at the Microsoft events, and they would want this just for that.”
The other likely audience is MSPs who presently are using another RMM platform.
“Now you don’t need to use the ConnectWise platform to use this,” Fulton said. “We see it as a wedge product to reach these partners, with a ‘land and expand’ approach.”
Next on the roadmap is a Cisco integration.
“Cisco came to us a couple of months ago and said that they liked the way that we solved Office 365 billing problems, and said they had the same issues with some of their products,” Fulton said. “This will cover Spark, WebEx, Meraki, Umbrella and SmartNet. We are holding a focus group today at Automation Nation to get some feedback from Cisco partners.”
By the time of ConnectWise’s fall IT Nation event, they expect to have the Cisco integration complete.
Next on the list after that is AWS,
“We are working to get Amazon in there, and will have some progress by ITNation,” Fulton said. “We expect to have Cisco nailed down for IT Nation. AWS won’t be done then, but we expect that it won’t be long after.”
Skykick, who include cloud backup among their cloud management tools, is a candidate for a little further down the road.
“We have been talking to them,” Fulton said. “That would be a strong strategic alliance, where we could both monitor and do backup and recovery inside of one tool.”
Improving distributor integrations with CloudConsole is also a high priority.
The new version of ConnectWise CloudConsole is available both in the U.S. and Canada – although there is a slight catch for Canadian partners. A 30-day free trial that ConnectWise stressed to partners at the event is not available in Canada.
“The ‘try and buy’ is only in the U.S.,” said Brett Cheloff, Connect Automate’s General Manager. “This is related to financial and banking regulations. We have everything set up, but need the payment gateway for these. So customers can interact with us just for the purchase, not for the trial.”