7. Unethical M&A Dealings: I traded email with a well-known MSP who wants to warn peer MSPs about unethical moves on the M&A front. The CEO shared some background about how a large publicly held company seemed to string along the MSP, chasing deals together while also discussing a potential M&A combo. But in the end, it seems like the large publicly held company was merely using the small MSP to gather information about the managed services market. More thoughts from MSPmentor soon.
6. Speaking of Mergers and Acquisitions: MSPmentor has confirmed the second and third MSP merger and acquisition deals of 2012.
5. Fatal Distraction: Did I mention I got the original Nintendo Entertainment System (circa 1986) for Christmas? I've been rocking my 13-year-old son in Blades of Steel. Now, as my birthday approaches, perhaps it's time to pull the old Atari 2600 out of my attic... where an Intellivision surely looms as well. Yes, you can buy old games for retro video game systems on eBay and Craigslist. But Play n Trade retail locations -- which have retro games for sale -- have become my preferred destination.
4. Can Both Strategies Win?: In recent days, a few readers have sent me emails asking who has the better strategy -- Autotask, which is exiting the product quoting market by selling off VARStreet? Or ConnectWise, which invested in Quosal, the quoting and sales proposal software company? I'm still organizing my thoughts and will share more perspectives soon.
3. How's That Data Stored?: Several MSPmentor readers have asked me how Cisco's OnPlus Service for MSPs stores and manages end-customer data. The unspoken question: Can Cisco use that end-customer data to take the end-customers direct and cut MSPs out of the loop? My knee-jerk reaction: I think Cisco is a partner-led company that wouldn't use Cisco OnPlus Service to upend MSPs. But I've reached out to Cisco for perspectives. MSPmentor will share Cisco's thoughts as soon as we gather the info.
2. Microsoft Office 365 Reality Check: Microsoft Office 365, the SaaS platform for running Exchange Online, SharePoint Online and more, turned six-months-old on December 24, 2011. Some MSPs claim they'll never re-sell Office 365 since Microsoft controls the end-customer billing. But nearly 43 percent of MSPs that participating in our fifth-annual MSPmentor 100 survey say they're involved with Office 365. The bigger question: Are MSPs actually generating substantial revenue from Office 365? We're poking around for perspectives. (Side note: Complete MSPmentor 100 survey results will surface in February 2012.)
1. Did I Say Thank You?: I hope I say it often enough. Nine Lives Media, publisher of MSPmentor, turns four-years-old this month. Our team is still having a blast covering the IT channel across MSPmentor, The VAR Guy and Talkin' Cloud. Thanks for taking the journey with us. It continues to be a heck of a ride.
That's all for now. Our entire team will be back to blogging on Tuesday, January 3.