Behind the Software Q&A with Kaseya CMO Bob Davis
Today more than ever, great IT service management is a critical part of running a business. And while the consumerization of IT and the rise of wireless devices has made life easier for many of us, it brings new challenges to the table for IT management teams.
Kaseya is taking a new approach to ITSM that works whether you’re managing a dozen sites within a city, or hundreds around the world. Business-Software.com spoke with Kaseya’s CMO Bob Davis about the challenges of IT in the world where a company’s technology isn’t always confined to a single office building, and how Kaseya’s revolutionary approach is working to take the stress out of IT management.
For more information on specific IT management solutions explore our Top 10 IT Infrastructure Monitoring Software report.
What were the origins of Kaseya and how are you different from your competitors?
Kaseya’s earliest incarnation was in 2000, where Mark Sutherland, Paul Wong, and I met and had the initial goal to provide a managed security product. We all came from the high tech security space, and both Mark and Paul had strong roots in DOD-level security. We recognized that with the proliferation of the Internet and the very beginning of a distributed workforce – dialing in through modems and so forth- that managing the access and security from those distributed environments was problematic for corporations. At the time all of the companies that were providing IT systems management were built around the notion of having a corporate office with the firewall built around that office and everything running inside that firewall. Our approach was saying, “Well, what if environments were very distributed and there wasn’t a firewall protecting employees and the ecosystem of the company?”
We initially built a product to solve that distributed security management problem, and the more we got into that, the more additional features were being requested. For example, if I’m going to provide security management in the form of antivirus and antimalware, maybe I ought to be able to know what software’s on that system so that I can provide updates to make sure that it was current. The minute we started to do that people started to ask, “What if I wanted to be able to provide more of a remote management of that device and log into it remotely so that I can assist and help somebody fix a machine?” There was this steady drumbeat of requests that expanded the feature set to the point where we came up with the product, the Kaseya platform, which we termed the Virtual System Administrator. We brought that remote management ability to a very distributed environment.
Today, we still manage highly distributed environments that you can’t really just roll trucks out to. You can’t go visit them, and there is no common firewall. This approach is a very different way of managing IT than most of your traditional IT systems management companies. And as such, we’ve got some pretty interesting customers, like RedBox. You see their DVD rental kiosks in grocery stores and all types of 7-Elevens. There are about 18,000 of those kiosks in the United States, and the remote management capability is what enables that strategy of being able to operate that company that way.
Your approach is unique- it seems like your customers are able to pick and choose which features to implement to remotely manage their assets. What are the benefits that your customers have experienced with Kaseya?
First and foremost, what IT system management products typically do is help people manage requests. You have a request that you want, a new application or a problem with your computer, and IT system management systems manage that process. What’s missing is automatically and proactively reducing the number of requests that come in the first place. In other words, if I can see a pattern that people are running into a problem in a particular way, our system allows me to automate the repair of that incident in such a way that you no longer receive any of those requests. So the burden on the IT people in that corporation or in that managed service provider goes way down, and they’re able to manage a lot more endpoints. By being able to do that we’ve seen customers that are really looking at going from managing 100 computers per IT administrator, to up to 1,000 computers per administrator. And that does all kinds of things from a benefit point of view. It makes your costs go down. It makes your profit go up. It increases the satisfaction of the users within the company that you’re managing the computers for because their computers are up longer. They have less of a need to request assistance because the systems automatically maintain themselves.
In a highly distributed environment, the cost of sending somebody out to fix a computer goes through the roof. If I’m sitting in Half Moon Bay and the technician is here in San Jose and my computer goes down, the only way they can fix it is to send somebody to see me- that’s an hour plus drive. It’s going to take that technician out of commission for two hours at least, not counting the time it takes them to fix the system. With Kaseya, all that time goes away and I can fix the problem automatically. In fact, I can do it without having the user even knowing because our software will monitor the computer, detect problems and fix them and the user never knows. So it’s a level of automation applied to a distributed network that leads to cost savings, higher profit, more efficiencies, happier customers, and so forth.
Who would you say is your ideal customer? Is there any particular industry or group of people that you have in mind when you develop new features for your software?
We have a few focused targets. Historically our largest vertical has been a group of customers called Managed Service Providers (MSPs). MSPs are companies that typically are at an office and a small number of employees, maybe 5, 10, or 20, and they turn around and provide computer IT services to a number of small companies. Early on we started to work hand-in-hand with companies that were moving from this break/fix model, meaning that when somebody’s computer breaks they have system policies in place to fix it, to be able to provide more of a proactive managed service. A typical MSP might have ten companies that they’re providing IT service for and each one of those companies might have 100 computers that that are in that facility or within that company. The MSP itself in that example would have about 1,000 computers spread out over ten different corporations. That’s a typical customer that fueled our growth from 2005-2007. To this day about half of our customers fall into that category. And some of them are quite large and are in fact, managing tens if not hundreds or thousands of computers, but they operate in exactly the manner that I just described.
In the last couple of years we’ve expanded to focus on a variety of vertical industries. They’re highly distributed organizations that require the flexibility of our approach and ability to use a cloud IT solution. Education has been a big win for us. We’ve got a lot of school districts and universities that are using our product. Retail is another one, with grocery stores, specialty shops and so forth that have a lot of store fronts spread out over a large geographical area and have a central IT organization that’s managing them. Other industries like finance and healthcare are starting to really get traction.
What trends should companies look for in the IT world in the future? Kaseya looks to be at the forefront with moving IT to the cloud, but what do you think is next? What should we keep our eyes peeled for?
I think that there’s an increasing shift towards users being able to customize the solution that best fits them and that has not been the case up to this point. Typically people buy their software in the form of SKUs if you will, as a throwback from the early days of packaged software when that was how everybody bought software. But people are starting to want to buy things in the cloud. The whole app store concept has changed the way people buy software. They think of an idea and immediately go to their phone and say, “I’ll bet there’s an app for that.” Then you go and find if there is, you download it and start to use it. So people want to download exactly that capability that they need and they want to use it right away, and they need it to be easy to install and integrate into their environment pretty quickly. That is certainly true of an individual, but even the large organizations are getting to the point where they really want that customizable IP experience, where they can buy exactly what they want for as long as they want it and for as many devices for as big of a population as they have. And they want to be able to have that be completely agile.
That desire has lead us to push harder on moving our products into the cloud and to offer a full cloud or SaaS delivery model for all of our features. A related trend is the consumerization of IT, which a lot of people think of in the context of BYOD. In even the largest, most conservative businesses people are bringing their phones and tablets in and making them part of the company’s IT infrastructure. In addition to that companies are going out and buying applications that solve particular needs within a department, whether it’s HR or finance or sales. If I’m a sales group, I no longer have to wait for IT to approve and bring in a big project. I can just go sign up and start downloading licenses within the hour. And that’s a problem because it complicates the role of IT, which is ultimately responsible for making sure that the software systems and hardware are functioning in an organization. This kind of rogue software buying, device utilization, and consumerization trend really conspires against IT, so companies like Kaseya are focused on making sure we can integrate those various tools and provide a platform under which the IT professional can keep the company moving smoothly.
Is there anything else you’d like Business-Software readers to know about Kaseya?
In light of the recent release of our free IT tools, one of the things that we’re really trying to do is to give people a way to ease into the products from the pain points they have. If an IT person is sitting in their office and they wonder if all of their computers and all of the devices are up to speed from the standpoint of security, they can download a free tool that enables them to do a discovery on their network that will give them this information. You can start to use the product for free and then expand on it in a way that suits your needs. We offer you the ability to add just that functionality and ease into additional IT system management capabilities at a speed that is appropriate for you. We use our knowledge of how you’re using the system to recommend products and features that other companies have also found to be effective, and so you can get exposed to and learn about the capabilities as they become appropriate to your business. We are getting away from the one-size-fits-all model, and it’s proving to be very popular with the customers.
To learn more about Kaseya and find out whether their products will be a good fit for your company, visit www.kaseya.com.
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