Hundreds of VARs and managed services providers are attending this week's CompTIA Breakaway conference in San Antonio, Texas. There's plenty of official managed services news at the conference. And there also are numerous rumors in the halls. Here are seven managed services highlights from the first day of the conference.

1. Healthy Crowd: Roughly 500 VARs and MSPs are here. And Jacob Braun, president and chief operating officer at Waka Digital Media, notes that the best MSPs in the crowd have diversified from own another -- some focusing on security, others on compliance, etc.

2. Three Camps: During a meeting today, an MSP industry executive suggested that the managed services market is organizing into three camps: ConnectWise, Kaseya and/or Zenith Infotech -- with a lengthy list of players (Autotask, Level Platforms, N-able, Nimsoft, etc.) playing Switzerland. I didn't solicit the comment but it certainly caught my ear...

3. MSP Marketplace: What if OnForce, the online marketplace for VARs and MSPs, also became a distributor of MSP-oriented software? Just a hunch, but I suspect OnForce may head in that direction.

4. Another PSA Player?: Own Web Now (OWN) as expected, has announced the release of Shockey Monkey, a free PSA (professional services automation) tool. How does Shockey Monkey compare with entrenched PSA solutions? I'll be back with some more thoughts this week.

5. Spicing It Up: The latest Spiceworks 5.0 beta includes an upgraded help desk that allows MSPs to track and bill for time and new technology purchases authorized by clients. As you'll recall, the Spiceworks platform is a free, ad-driven remote management system.

6. Beyond Disaster Recovery: Doyenz CEO Ashutosh Tiwary is talking up a ShadowCloud strategy, which offers production testing and migration in the cloud for minimal business risk, he claims. ShadowCloud replicates networks of servers into the cloud. Doyenz sees four near-term cloud opportunities for VARs and MSPs: DR and failover into the cloud; build, package and deploy virtual machines to the public cloud; value-added testing, migration, diagnostic and compliance services in the cloud; and Doyenz wants to become an integrated management console for on-premise and cloud servers, with integration to third-party RMM tools.

In a related move, Doyenz has launched a Done By 5 pm campaign, which targets solutions providers who frequently work weekends and late nights to support their client base.

7. SMB Moves: Cisco Systems is set to unveil more details about its SMB strategy within 60 days or so. But Cisco executives will be on hand here at the conference over the next few days. I've got some -- but not all -- of the details. More details for you later.

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