After attending Cloud Channel Summit 2012, we're heading to IT Nation 2012 later this week in Orlando, Fla. Hosted by ConnectWise, the conference is likely the largest annual gathering of MSPs -- with plenty of VARs mixed in. Here are seven key themes MSPmentor will be covering at the event.

1. MSPs As Software Developers: We're hearing from more and more MSPs that have software development teams in place. Areas of focus include on-premises app cust0mization (Microsoft Dymanics CRM, for instance) or cloud integration services. Some MSPs have even spun off productized software businesses. Is this a growing trend?

2. Cloud Monitoring 2.0: In the past two weeks, Boundary has twice spotted a cloud outage before the associated cloud service provider (CSP) confirmed any problems to customers. In both cases, Boundary was ahead of the curve on big outages at Amazon.com and Microsoft. Boundary is a cloud-based monitoring tool, designed to scale with big data applications. I'm curious to learn how many RMM (remote monitoring and management) software companies can deliver such capabilities today -- or plan to do so in the future.

3. The Ultra Modern Office: ConnectWise CEO Arnie Bellini has previously used IT Nation as a stage to discuss the modern office -- all of the business services that SMBs would require from VARs, MSPs and IT service providers. Fast forward to the present and how has the modern office evolved, and what new services does Bellini see on the horizon? We'll find out.

4. Exit Stage Left or IPO Stage Right?: ConnectWise Capital -- the software company's investment arm -- will turn three years old in January 2013. The first three investments were CharTec, LabTech Software and Quosal. Is it buy, sell or hold time for the investment portfolio? I'll be sure to ask CEO Arnie Bellini and President David Bellini for their thoughts.

5. M&A Update: Quite a few MSP mergers and acquisitions get negotiated in the back halls of IT Nation. Who is sitting down with whom? Our eyes will be wide open.

6. Mobile Device Management - Show Me the Money: Yes, the topic will be everywhere. Some RMM players were early to market. Some are running late, with no real solution arriving until 2013. Aside from the technology chatter, I'd like to hear how MSPs are monetizing mobile device management (MDM).

7. Seen Our Dashboard?: Many big software companies are trying to introduce single pane of glass dashboards for MSPs. But those same MSPs already use either RMM or PSA as the preferred dashboard. Curious to see how this shakes out.

What are you hoping to see, discuss and learn at IT Nation? I'm all ears. Feel free to reach me by posting a comment, tweeting @MSPmentor or emailing me, joe.panettieri [at] penton.com.