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Managed services with a twist

As channel services organisation Synaxon adds a new rental offering to its managed services portfolio in the UK, Technology Reseller finds out more about this rapidly expanding business unit from Markus Rex, Head of Synaxon Managed Services, and Mike Barron, Managing Director of Synaxon UK

The addition of a rental service to Synaxon UK’s managed services business this month brings the UK into line with the company’s offering in Germany (more or less) and heralds a new, more active phase in the development of this part of the channel services organisation’s proposition on this side of the channel.

While it is still very early days for Synaxon Managed Services (SMS) in the UK, in Germany Synaxon has been offering managed services for exactly five years and, according to Head of Synaxon Managed Services Markus Rex, it is now the fastest growing part of the company.

“Just to put a few numbers to that: in Germany, we have 440 partners that are using our managed services offering (out of a total partner base of 3,800) and we are basically doubling that part of the business year by year,” he explains. “We have been adding one to two partners every day in each of the last few quarters. Precisely a year ago, we were at 310 partner and two years ago we were at 206.”

Rex attributes much of this success to being in the right place at the right time, pointing out that the current shortage of skilled workers is driving demand for its managed services across a broad spectrum of IT providers.

“When you talk to small and medium- sized IT providers you hear two common themes. The first is how tough it is to find good staff and to retain good staff. And the second is that the whole IT space is becoming increasingly complex, with constant advances in technology, the move to the cloud, cyber security and all these different aspects.

“That’s the challenge IT providers face – the lack of staff and the constant need to upskill. Our thought was that there are tasks that only the IT provider himself can do – talking to the customer, undertaking project work, doing customisation specific to the end customer’s needs and so on – but there are others that the IT provider doesn’t need to spend time on where we can help.

“Let me give you a very simple example: Windows patch management. I know that sounds completely simple. In fact, it is not. Microsoft publishes several hundred patches and updates – probably now 1000s – every month. You have to look at them on a daily basis to see what has come out. Is it applicable? Is it a good patch? Is it a bad patch? Is it something people have had issues with – you remember there was one patch when all the printers stopped working? You do have to look at this stuff.

“The effort that you as a small IT provider have to put into this is not dependent on the number of machines you manage but the number of patches that Microsoft releases. You will have to spend 60 to 90 minutes every day sifting through all those patches – because that’s roughly how long it takes – even though you might be managing just 150 machines. It takes us the same amount of time, between 60 and 90 minutes every day, to do that for 10s of 1000s of machines. There are lots of similar examples where we can take the load off the MSP and help them to focus on what they do, while at the same time providing us with scalability.”

Rex adds that customers also benefit from significant value-add that they wouldn’t receive from a vendor.

“We work with N-able on the remote monitoring and the patch management side. We take their solution, we pre- configure it, we write scripts, we create templates and we provide best practices. You don’t get this from the vendor. This is something we do. Our partners sign up and they get access to all of that, plus the ongoing patch management, the ongoing modifications, configuration and maintenance of the solution.”

Synaxon Managed Services also helps resellers make the sometimes challenging transition from transactional sales to the provision of managed services.

“When you want to embrace being a managed service provider, you have to change your contracts; you go from a single shot hardware sale and single shot project work to an ongoing recurring model. We provide you with contract templates, we provide you with service catalogues, we provide you with service descriptions. All are basically ready to roll and you can edit them to your heart’s content. We take the fear out of stepping into an unknown legal environment that wasn’t a consideration when all you did was transactional business.”

Synaxon already offers six managed services (seven in Germany, where it also offers an email archiving service to meet
a specifically German legal requirement to archive all tax-related communications).

These are:

  • Remote Monitoring and Management (RMM);
  • Managed Anti-virus – a bare bones anti-virus service;
  • Managed Endpoint Protection – full- scale endpoint protection with all bells and whistles and different editions;
  • Managed Backup;
  • Managed Office – helping partners to stop selling Micosoft Office box licences and embrace the Microsoft CSP world; and
  • Managed Workplace – a new rental service that enables partners to combine hardware, software, support and Synaxon managed services into a single offer available for a monthly subscription with no upfront investment.

And it has plans to add three more over the next 12 months.

While Synaxon is looking forward to expanding its managed services offering, it is very specific about the type of service it wants to offer its customers.

“We do managed services with a very particular twist,” explains Rex. “We call ourselves a master MSP because we are a managed service provider for MSPs. We don’t offer anything for the end customer. We don’t interact with the end customers. Our users are MSPs.”

Rex adds that Synaxon’s commitment never to interact with end user customers means that it has no interest in providing outsourced IT services, for example.

“What we will not do is become the outsourced helpdesk, because we never interact with customers. Providing outsourced helpdesk services is a completely different business model. You chop off that whole part of your business and give it to somebody else, which means you are handing over customer access. A lot of IT providers and MSPs are very wary of handing over the keys to the kingdom to a third party, which is why we make it very clear that everything you do that is customer-facing you will have to do yourself. We are for those IT providers who want to retain ownership of the customer relationship but want help in other areas.”

Synaxon’s experience in Germany suggests that there is a broad spectrum of MSPs that fit into this category, from one customer with 80 to 85 employees that was unable to provide a service when three technicians left in rapid succession to one-man bands wanting to offer a basic B2C anti-virus service.

As the skills shortage continues to cause problems for UK service providers, and as demand for managed services increases, Synaxon may find that there is a rapid take-up for its managed services offering in the UK as well as Germany.

Markus_Rex, Head of Synaxon Managed Services,


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