Thursday November 2, 2000

IT Support Sans Commute

IT Support Sans Commute

Kaseya tool allows integrators to manage desktops remotely

By Christina Torode, CRN
Boston, 10:54 AM EST Thu. Nov. 02, 2000
From the November 02, 2000 CRN

Inventiveness often is born out of adversity.

Rising gas costs and an IT labor crunch were the adversities Benjamin Aronson was up against. The staff of Sunnyvale, Calif.-based systems integrator Aronson & Associates was spending most of its time on the road trying to keep up with the on-site IT needs of the small-business community.

Kaseya\'s Bob Davis (r.) saves Benjamin Aronson fuel and labor hassles.
Aronson had looked at products such as Hewlett-Packard OpenView and Tivoli, but found them too costly and bulky for small businesses. What he needed was software that was fairly cheap and easy to administer.

Aronson found such a solution when he met Bob Davis, CEO of Kaseya, at a trade show.

The start-up software company was looking for systems integrators to beta-test its Virtual Systems Administrator (VSA),a tool that allows integrators to manage hundreds of desktops remotely.

"It took the burden off our travel budgets and the burden of finding and hiring an IT administrator for $80,000 to $100,000 a year off our customers\' shoulders," Aronson says.

From a single console, integrators can remotely install and configure applications and system files, audit installed applications, resolve end-user problems and download fixes. Integrators also can secure applications and network access, generate customized reports on system performance and add new services and software.

To get the service up and running, the systems integrator needs only to download an agent to customers\' PCs to access applications and files and install VSA on its hosted server.

Kaseya charges its clients $10 to $20 per PC, but integrators still pull a profit by charging customers up to $100 per PC for the service.

"This is one of the last untapped markets for [systems integrators]," says Davis. "There are about 23 million small businesses out there that need to manage more than 100 million PCs. And the overall small-business IT service market is around $60 billion, according to analysts."

Just out of its beta-test phase in October, 14 integrators are using VSA to manage 30,000 PCs. This figure, Davis says, is a conservative estimate.

Aronson expects VSA to lead to new products and services sales as well. Since software can be easily downloaded to customer sites, more customers are testing new software and opting to buy. And the auditing capability allows integrators to see gaps that can be filled with new hardware and software.

"Kaseya has also made it easier for us to sell support contracts around our services offerings because it is less expensive and we can offer it on a monthly subscription basis," says Aronson.

Another area that is taking off for systems integrators serving the small-business space is remote network management. These services are traditionally offered by large hosting providers such as Exodus and Digex, but the small business communications market is not typically on these providers\' radar screen,which is where the integrators step in.

To keep up with the high level of interest the VSA is expected to generate, Kaseya expanded its Web site, adding the Customer Service page with all relevant contact information and an online customer support form. Another novelty on the site is a password-protected section with regularly updated product and support information for integrators using company services, with downloads of the latest Kaseya products and a feedback forum to rate their performance. The section also provides detailed information about Kaseya\'s partner programs and advisory council. is another integrator that stresses the importance of remote network management by offering a Virtual Operations Center that monitors the performance and availability of the network, along with application services that make sure all systems are running at their peak.

"What is missing [in remote network management] is partnerships," says David Green, vice president of marketing at HiFive. "Identifying a problem is one thing, but customers also need an integrator to come in and fix the problem."