After quietly selling off its VARStreet business in December 2011, Autotask is putting the public spotlight back on its international push. The latest chatter: Autotask says 500 IT channel partner customers in the United Kingdom now use the company's SaaS and cloud platform. Autotask's timing and wording is worth noting. Here's why.

When Mark Cattini arrived as Autotask CEO in December 2010, he gradually shifted the company's messaging to emphasize the broader IT channel (rather than just MSPs), pure SaaS solutions, and an international push that depended heavily on the United Kingdom. In fact, Autotask's UK staffing has grown from three people to more than 15 in roughly six months, the company claims.

The UK push doesn't surprise MSPmentor. Of the top 50 MSPs across EMEA (Europe, Middle East, Africa), 30 are located in the United Kingdom. (We'll share more details about that data point when we unveil the fifth-annual MSPmentor 100 report on Feb. 15.)

Autotask, meanwhile, is now used by "thousands of IT service providers, value-added resellers (VARs) and managed services providers (MSPs) in 54 countries,"  the company said today. Mark Banfield is leading Autotask's international charge. Autotask is also playing up its pure SaaS focus, attempting to established a valuation multiple that's closer to cloud companies rather than traditional software companies.

Of course, Autotask isn't alone in its global push. ConnectWise has engaged user groups across the globe. I believe ConnectWise CEO Arnie Bellini is in Australia for user group meetings now. ConnectWise has both an on-premise and hosted version, though I don't know the nitty-gritty architectural differences between the Autotask and ConnectWise approaches to hosting/SaaS.

Meanwhile, Autotask apparently experienced little -- if any -- fallout from its December 2011 decision to sell the VARStreet business back to VARStreet's staff.  The deal was announced just before the holidays, freeing Autotask to focus on its core business management SaaS platform. VARStreet helps VARs and MSPs to source and price IT products from a range of distributors and suppliers.