Roughly 500 MSPs, IT service providers and technology companies are gathered this week for the HTG Peer Groups Spring 2011 meeting in Dallas, Texas. So what's the chatter so far? I've just arrived at the event but here are five quick pieces of information worth noting so far.

1. The Microsoft Connection: Microsoft seems to be taking the MSP community and the managed services industry more and more seriously. The software giant sent Kevin Kean, general manager for small business and home servers, to attend the event and meet with channel partners. Quite a few HTG members were impressed by Kean's participation -- a clear sign that Microsoft wants to continue promoting Small Business Server and other offerings through the channel, even as cloud options such as Office 365 near launch.

2. The Emergency Fund: HTG Founder Arlin Sorensen is expected to unveil some sort of emergency insurance fund for HTG members in the next day or so. It sounds like each MSP will contribute $250 to the fund, plus an additional $100 or so per executive to be covered. I think contributions max out at about $1,500 per managed services company. The fund will be used to assist member MSPs that require emergency business assistance from peer MSP members. Also of note: Companies such as ConnectWise, Hewlett-Packard, Level Platforms and Xilocore (among others... more names potentially coming) are contributing financial help, equipment and staff expertise to the emergency fund. Please note: Some of the details above may be in process and/or subject to change. I hope to post an update later on May 4 or May 5.

3. Was There Really a Deal?: Some folks here are wondering if ConnectWise Capital has really invested in Quosal, the product sourcing and sales proposal tool for VARs and MSPs. Multiple sources have told me the ConnectWise Capital-Quosal deal is real... and there are even some cloud computing implications. Another potential indicator: I think Quosal is no longer listed as a sponsor for Autotask Community Live. (Autotask competes with ConnectWise.)

4. Thinking Bigger: For several months now I've been hearing rumors that HTG will set up a larger peer group -- designed for a dozen or so MSPs that each have 50 employees or more. I suspect that larger peer group may potentially debut here. (How's that for a softly worded hedge, just in case I'm wrong).

5. And The Winners Are: Still trying to get a feel for who participates in HTG Peer Groups? Check out this list of recent Leadership Award Winners.

Live coverage of the HTG Peer Groups Spring 2011 conference continues on MSPmentor through May 4 and May 5.

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