Autotask's international expansion is accelerating, and larger MSPs are moving onto Autotask's cloud-based platform for business automation. As a result, Autotask expects to plow more revenue back into R&D to empower partners in the U.S. and abroad, according to CEO Mark Cattini. During an April 6 call, Cattini offered MSPmentor a range of Autotask updates. Plus he disclosed a new executive hire who may help Autotask to further bolster its platform for MSPs.

First, the back story. It has been about 15 months since Cattini succeeded Autotask Founder Bob Godgart as CEO. Godgart exited Autotask in May 2011 to launch ChannelEyes, and Cattini shifted Autotask's focus -- shedding the VARStreet business and raising $6 million to accelerate Autotask's international expansion.

Now, here's the update on a range of initiatives.

Localizing Autotask for International Markets

Autotask thinks its U.S. market opportunity is roughly $300 million to $400 million, while the opportunity outside the U.S. is roughly $1.6 billion. In terms of new customer acquisition and monthly recurring revenues, "our U.S. business is healthy and absolutely on plan," said Cattini. "And our international business is now larger than our U.S. business."

To grow international revenues, Autotask has localized its cloud software (a SaaS business management application for MSPs) for such markets as China, France, Germany, Italy and Spain. "Those localizations are done, completed," said Cattini. "We're just tightening up a few things in Japan. But other than Japan, where the rollout is slightly slower on purpose," the localizations are complete.

According to Cattini, the localization efforts include such areas as...

China: Autotask now has a head of the Asia-Pacific region with more sales people on the way. The company has signed its first customer in China -- a triple-seat deal (in other words, it involves more than 100 seats). Said Cattini about the region: "We're not seeing anything that worries us in terms of full-fledged competition. Our SaaS strategy manages us well against piracy and we're not worried about non-payment. I sold Lotus [during a previous position] for years into China, and I like what I see [with Autotask]."

Germany: Autotask has 40 customers in Germany, and the price points are "significantly higher than in the U.S.," said Cattini. He pointed to GFI Software as a key partner in the German market, though Autotask continues to maintain open integrations with multiple RMM (remote monitoring and management) software companies.

Autotask now has three full-time employees focused on Germany, with an office set to open in Frankfort. "That will happen pretty quickly," said Cattini. "It's already our leading [non-U.S.] geography outside of the UK and Australia, and this is our first month of business there."

France, Spain, Italy: Those localized releases are "absolutely brand new" and have been in the market for about a week, Cattini said. He indicated that Autotask already has customers in all three of those localized markets.

The United Kingdom: Autotask has 25 people or so on the ground in the UK, and roughly 500 MSPs and IT services providers in the country now run Autotask. "It's our hub for Europe, essentially," said Cattini.

Australia: Autotask now has a Sydney office with people on the ground. The Australia business is now larger than Autotask's entire international business at this time last year, though Cattini didn't share specific revenue figures.

Japan: Autotask will be working with distributors in the region, with updates expected at the end of April 2012 or in May 2012.

Autotask Community Live: Hybrid Cloud Update

Meanwhile, Autotask is gearing up to host Autotask Community Live (June 10-12, Orlando, Fla). In addition to attracting traditional MSP-oriented software vendors, larger vendors such as Cisco Systems and Hewlett-Packard will be on hand. That continues a trend from the annual IT Nation conference, hosted by ConnectWise.

At Autotask Community Live, Cattini will help MSPs understand a long-term educational opportunity -- MSPs helping customers with a five-year period where there will be a hybrid cloud model -- some assets on premises, some in the cloud.

Ultimately, Cattini predicts, MSPs will help small businesses to gain a competitive edge on large enterprises. Said Cattini: "I believe large companies will become less dominant because the barriers to entry will be less and less" as the cloud expands.

Lengthy Runway

I asked Cattini what comes "after" the international strategy. We spoke at length about a potential platform strategy that goes over-and-above today's Autotask cloud. But that portion of the conversation was filled with my own speculation -- more than usual, if you can believe it.

Cattini shared some ideas about what might be next -- which I'll describe later -- but for this blog entry I'll stick with "announced" strategies. In particular, Cattini reinforced the statement that he believes the international strategy will keep Autotask plenty busy for the foreseeable future. "I'm very comfortable with the runway [for growth] we have right now," asserted Cattini.

Reinvesting and Hiring in the U.S.

As he described Autotask's global ambitions, Cattini mentioned several times that U.S. partners will benefit from the effort. He said each time Autotask moves into a new market, the result is marginal new costs (to Autotask's business) and substantial new revenues that the company can plow back into R&D, including support services for U.S. partners.

To execute on that effort, Autotask recently hired Tom Osborn as VP of client services. Osborn is a Pitney Bowes and MapInfo veteran, and the latest executive that Cattini has tapped from his former employer. (Pitney Bowes acquired MapInfo when Cattini was CEO of MapInfo.)

"Tom reports directly to me," said Cattini. "You'll see us upgrading support significantly. That's one of the key messages we'll deliver before [Autotask] Community Live."

Already, Autotask offers "nearly four-nines availability," said Cattini, pointing to Autotask's 99.97 percent uptime estimate. Through the international effort, "we're becoming larger, more stable and richer in terms of investing back into the product. We're the best on quality assurance and infrastructure. We're driving more cash into the business and eventually we'll out invest everyone."

Everybody's Upbeat...

Meanwhile, virtually all of the major PSA, RMM and BDR (backup and disaster recovery) companies that I interviewed in recent weeks expressed optimism about the recently ended Q1 2012. Everybody seems upbeat. Cattini, backed by the international strategy, seems particularly optimistic.