Cittio Uses Slingshot Approach to Managed Services

The transition to managed services can prove costly, time-consuming and frustrating for the average channel company.

Just ask Sean McTaggart, president of Triline Solutions in Holland, Mich., which invested upward of $70,000 to make the transition.

About $50,000 paid for the technology and the rest went toward staff hours to make it all happen, McTaggart said.

"It's not cheap if you want to do it right," he said.

Some of those staff hours went toward deciding which managed services platform vendor to partner with and, once the choice was made, doing due diligence with the vendor to make sure Triline prepared itself and its customers for the shift in model.

Triline chose San Francisco-based Cittio, which realizing how challenging it can be for a VAR or integrator to become a MSP (managed services provider), just launched a program to ease the transition.

"Just giving them a piece of technology doesn't help them achieve MSP success," said Jamie Lerner, president and CEO of Cittio. "Once you give them the technology, that doesn't mean they can go out there and start selling."

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The program revolves around Cittio's Slingshot Kit, which includes software, financial, technical and sales support tools designed for the specific needs of system integrators and VARs transforming themselves into managed services providers, Lerner said.

Channel companies accustomed to one-off product sales, finite integration projects and break/fix services often find it difficult to make the transition to a model that in some cases requires round-the-clock remote monitoring of their clients' IT systems.

Under managed services, providers remotely take over some or all of their clients' IT environments and charge them monthly for monitoring and management.

With the Slingshot Kit, Cittio aims to accelerate what the company calls the "path to profit" in managed services for companies standardizing on the vendor's WatchTower platform.

The kit walks VARs and integrators through the questions that inevitably arise as they attempt to adopt the new model. Questions typically revolve around such topics as appropriate pricing for the services, depth of systems monitoring and level of on-site training, said Lerner.

As part of the kit, Cittio offers partners business expertise in the form of a sales team that assists MSPs in identifying and closing sales, financing so that partners don't have to make a huge upfront investment, help with devising go-to-market strategies, and pre- and post-implementation support.

By providing these tools, Lerner said, Cittio is helping to ensure its MSPs will be successful, and that in turn will contribute to the vendor's own success.

"The technology providers, like Cittio, who help people with that transition will be the most successful," he said.

McTaggart applauded the vendor's efforts in setting up partners as MSPs. Even though Cittio didn't have a transition program in place when Triline became a partner, McTaggart said the two companies worked together to help Triline make the transition.

The work included reviewing products that Triline sells and services to make sure they were, or became, compatible with the Cittio platform.

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"It took some work on our end, and it took some work on their end," McTaggart said.

Managed services have grown nearly 15 percent of Triline's overall business. Founded three and a half years ago, the company had revenue of about $10 million last year.

Cittio moved into the managed services market a year ago after being encouraged by customers to do so. The company had built its WatchTower monitoring and management application for the enterprise market, but as VARs became familiar with it, they saw the possibilities of extending it for managed services, according to Lerner.

Now VARs make as much as $40,000 monthly using WatchTower to deliver the remote services, he said. The vendor has stepped up recruiting and is halfway through a campaign to enlist 120 partners in 120 days. So far, said Lerner, 80 partners have signed up.



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