Q&A: AVG on Level Platforms Acquisition (Part 2)

Mike Foreman, general manager, SMB, AVG Technologies

Mike Foreman, general manager, SMB, AVG Technologies

As AVG Technologies purchases Ottawa-based RMM vendor Level Platforms, what becomes of Managed Workplace? How does it co-exist with AVG’s CloudCare offering? How does AVG’s brand and presence effect an MSP’s approach and go-to-market?

In part two of our Q&A with Mike Foreman, AVG Technologies’ SMB chief, we tackle the company’s plans for combining Managed Workplace and CloudCare, the pitch to various solution providers, and the balance between being a familiar name to customers and staying out of the way of managed service providers.

In part one of Channelnomics’ interview with Foreman (published yesterday) we discussed the strategy behind buying into the RMM space for the security vendor, as well as the company’s plans to integrate anti-virus with Level Platforms, while still embracing third-party security tools.

Channelnomics: Does Managed Workplace and CloudCare ultimately become a kind of unified product, and if so, how long do you see them staying two discrete offerings in the market?

Mike Foreman: Ultimately, yes, they will come together because the code stack they were built on is very similar so it really will be a meeting together of two platforms versus killing off one platform and developing the other one. It really will knit together. I would say over the next 18 months start to watch this space. As we start to finalize the road maps, our engineering teams are on‑site working with each other.

Immediately, we will start to work on providing anti‑virus into the current LPI Managed Workplace product. The request we’re seeing from resellers is “If you could just provide me anti‑virus for an extra fee per month per user I’ll buy from you guys. You’ll make life simpler.” We’ll support that pretty quick. By the end of this year we’ll have some anti‑virus and we’ll have put some of the other requirements for modules we have into the LPI product as it is today.

Then, going forward next year, bring those together to make a combined product and then we’ll look at how we maybe take that to market, if it’s an a la carte system, or if there’s an advanced version or a light version. We’ll come back to you guys as we get more visibility on that road map. Right now, our engineering teams and product management teams are talking and are hashing this out.

CN: You’ve made the case for the existing Managed Workplace partner to be interested in picking up CloudCare for the billing and some of the other aspects you touched on earlier. For the CloudCare partner who is not today using an RMM tool, if such a thing exists ‑ or especially for those who are, perhaps, using a competitor of LPI’s, what’s the value prop to get them over to LPI?

MF: Product quality. I love the agentless technology. The world has definitely moved away from static PCs sat inside a network. Agentless technology is really cool as we start to pick up other devices that are non‑PC. There’s actually two more winning things that, internally, we looked at as we made this decision on this company.

They have great mobile device management. They really are way ahead with working with mobiles, keeping it simple with agents. Some of that, as well as coming out with agent lists. Really good stuff on mobile. We’re seeing the growth in mobile and AVG as a company. We have 36 million mobile users of our product. It’s a space that AVG’s in. This really helps us on the mobile side.

Also, the help desk business. This is really something where resellers really do benefit. Move off some of that stuff to us. Let us take care of it. Let us do the monitoring and some of the reporting on the back‑end so you can focus on being on‑site if you want to, being present with your customer, or ultimately, winning new business out there. I think that’s a really cool part of the business. These guys have built it over the last year. It’s getting some nice traction, good quality support. That’ll be something where we really want to focus and help the reseller grow by offloading some of his stuff to us.

CN: What about solution providers who’ve never yet engaged with either AVG or Level?

MF: I would say “Engage.” You’ve got the backing of a great company here, LPI, great technology over the last 10, 12 years they’ve built, led by Peter and his team. Now backed up by AVG. A lot of stuff now comes to the table that people don’t see. Being part of a billion dollar public company, we have the internal resources to make stuff.

From a reseller’s point of view, we’ve got the reassurance of a brand and a customer brand that people know. We’re going to be the only brand in this space that does all of this, that a customer will know the name of who is outside of IT. If they’re in IT they’re going to know some of these brands. For the resellers to be able to go to a small business and say “Trust me with this, I’m backed with AVG,” I think that’s a very powerful message and reassurance that we can now bring to the table.

CN: That’s a very different take. Traditionally, RMM tools have been both for the most part from smaller companies where the goal has not necessarily been to be something that the customer is aware of, even when it’s something that’s running in their environment. There’s a tricky balance between providing a familiar name, and getting in the solution provider’s way with customers.

Interviewee : I agree. Resellers certainly don’t want us to go and be pestering their customer. I really do think there’s value, whether a reseller’s pitching to that business “You trust me, I’m the local guy, I’ve been in business  for years, you’ve seen me around, but also I invest in technology. AVG’s technology.”

It’s a powerful message, in my eyes, that the reseller can show that he’s not trying to run some free VNC or something across the web to manage something when somebody calls him up reactively. He has gone and invested in a top‑quality product backed by a large company.

I think that’s something where the reseller will have an advantage to be able to add some additional credibility or reassurance to his customer; to let the reseller become their outsource partner for service.