GFI MAX App Control foretells MSP evolution

Alistair Forbes, general manager of GFI MAX Business Unit

Alistair Forbes, general manager of GFI MAX Business Unit

For the longest time, managed services and cloud computing were distinctly separate. Managed service providers delivered remote infrastructure and device monitoring and maintenance services. Cloud computing provided hosted applications and infrastructure.

That’s changing, as end users seek third-party expertise in identifying, deploying and managing cloud-based assets – whether they’re applications or infrastructure.

GFI MAX, a provider of managed services tools, is capitalizing on that trend with the release of App Control, a new system that enables MSPs to monitor and manage cloud-based services, as well as manage subscriptions and licenses on behalf of their customers.

“MSPs have not had access to tools that allow them to embrace these services and be proactive in offering and supporting them for their customers, all while facing the added risk of either increasing unbillable time or weakening their customer relationship. With App Control’s new cloud management features, MSPs using GFI MAX RemoteManagement have the opportunity to create new revenue streams by taking the complexity out of cloud adoption and taking on additional responsibility for a new, critical component of their customers’ businesses,” said GFI MAX general manager Dr. Alistair Forbes.

Forbes is right in that many managed service provider have been built around the notion of automating and scaling former break-fix services for on-premises hardware. Over the years, vendors of remote monitoring and management software have provided support or integrated with software vendors’ products, such as security and backup. These integration efforts were limited to conventional software deployed on on-premises assets, not cloud.

Already underway is a broad movement to leverage application programming interfaces (APIs) to access cloud and hosted assets. APIs can provide access to cloud systems, but they’re not always easy to deploy and scale, and they do require a certain level of skill to effectively utilize.

Through App Control, GFI MAX joins a small class of vendors who are eliminating or mitigating the need for APIs by providing an integrated platform for cloud management. They system includes administration tools for assessing licensing needs, comprehensive account and security management, and reporting capabilities for on-demand status updates and forecasting future needs.

GFI MAX is starting out by focusing App Control on the Microsoft Office 365 and Google Apps opportunities. Microsoft and Google are pushing adoption of their cloud-based productivity suites, opening wide opportunities for resellers and managed service providers to sell and support the platforms.

Over time, GFI MAX plans to add support for more services, increasing the potential capabilities and value MSPs can deliver in cloud computing management.

“The data available about their clients’ cloud services use will better position MSPs to advise customers on cloud strategies and current trends, increasing their value even further,” Forbes said.

GFI MAX isn’t the first software vendor to ply cloud management, and it won’t be the last. It’s launch of App Control, though, is another sign of how traditional managed services are converging with cloud computing.

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