Best of Breed vs. Closed, Integrated Solutions: The 1990s Called and Want Their Debate Back


In a recent blog, I explored how it’s no longer enough for MSPs to have RMM solutions that enable ‘automation.’ Today’s MSP 2.0 world requires powerful, easily customized policy-based automation.

In this blog, I want to discuss another long-held assumption about technology that no longer holds true ─namely, the idea that an MSP has to choose between selecting a series of best-of-breed solutions or committing to a closed, integrated solution set.

On the one hand, the old story goes, you invest in point solutions that are the best fit for your business’ particular needs, but then pay the price with suboptimal integration and interoperability between and among these technologies.  Or, on the other hand, you bite the bullet and commit to one vendor’s offerings.  That way, you sacrifice the ‘best fit’ but can be confident that the systems all work together seamlessly.

This old model is particularly treacherous in an MSP 2.0 world, where you can’t afford to get locked into a closed technology community. The MSP landscape is changing too quickly: competitive pressures are growing stronger; new technologies are emerging every day; and customer requirements are getting more demanding and more complex.

The good news is that you’re no longer between a rock and a hard place when choosing between best of breed or a closed integrated solution suite. There’s a third way: technologies that are open, flexible and integrated.

Open and Integrated:  It’s No Longer Either/Or

The reign of closed solution suites is over, shifting to the rise of open, heterogeneous software ecosystems. As Jim Lundy, analyst for Aragon Research writes, “The shift we are talking about is the realization by many of the largest Tech Titans that closed systems and ones that don’t interoperate are dead. The new model that is evolving is one of cooperation (partnering), cloud and app level integration.” was an early adopter of this model, explaining, “We recognized that our success hinged on building a vibrant ecosystem.” Even behemoths in the ERP space – where tightly integrated solution suites reached its apotheosis – are evolving into what Gartner terms “postmodern ERP,” which is a “loose confederation of on-premises software suites augmented with SaaS applications.”

These new ecosystems – supporting heterogeneous solutions – are enabled by a broad technology shift which makes integration between systems, and even between cloud and on-premises solutions, far less cumbersome than it used to be.  Simon Griffiths from Flowgear points out, “Integration has become easier, more cost effective, quicker to implement, and more flexible. Because of this, the advantages that integrated suites used to have no longer apply.”

In the end, though, the popularity of this approach has grown because, as noted, vibrant ecosystems are a win for customers – allowing them to select whichever solutions provide the best fit for their individual needs with the confidence that each of these technologies will play well others.

Define Success Your Way

What does this mean for MSPs? Your business’ success and growth depends on getting your technology decisions right.  How you evaluate and select your technology – and your technology partners – is a highly strategic process.

No longer having to choose between closed/integrated vs. best-fit, you now have the ability to select best-fit technologies to enable your success without worrying about interoperability sacrifices.

What MSPs want can seem quite similar, but the details of the solution set that is right for you can be very different than the details for any other MSP.  This means that before you start your technology selection process, make sure your business strategy, goals, and objectives are set – that you know the meaning of success for your MSP.  Then, you can evaluate options to select the technology that can enable this success.

For example, if you are looking to increase profits, make sure you partner with vendors who deliver solutions that optimize your revenue-generating services and minimize costs of software that keeps your business humming but doesn’t directly generate revenues.

Or, if your prospects and clients are looking to outsource more services, such as cloud services, you need to make sure you can rely on your technology partners to help you quickly come to market with these services.

However, while specific capabilities and features are critical to any evaluation, there are other equally key traits you need to look for a true technology partner who will help you succeed in an MSP 2.0 environment.

Extensible Capabilities that Keep Advancing Innovation

However, while specific capabilities and features are critical to any evaluation, there are other equally key traits you need to look for a true technology partner who will help you succeed in an MSP 2.0 environment.

While you may know exactly the capabilities your MSP needs today – both in terms of managing your business and offering services to your clients – the landscape is changing too quickly for you to only consider your current requirements.  You need to make sure that you don’t regret today’s IT decisions tomorrow.

Bhaskar Ghosh, group chief executive for Technology Services at Accenture, terms this making sure that your technology is “future-ready.” He further notes that “[t]his is all driven by automation and innovation.”

  • Delivers heterogeneous solutions that are open and easily integrated with each other
  • Supports your ability to easily extend your technology capabilities when you need to
  • Invests in innovative solutions that future-proof your investments by supporting growing MSP 2.0 customer requirements
  • Creates , shares and extends powerful, field-tested automation, especially policy-based automation
  • Provides you full choice in how, when and in which order you select and deploy new solutions
  • Leverages modern, intuitive interfaces and system design that enhances user productivity, and workflow customization

You can read more on what characteristics to look for in a vendor – and why they matter – in this whitepaper: Deciding between Best of Breed vs. Closed, Integrated Solutions?  There’s a Third Way: Open, Integrated — and Agile.

Posted by Miguel Lopez
Joining Kaseya in 2012, Miguel Lopez brings over 20 years of experience to his role as SVP and GM. In this position, he consults daily with Managed Service Providers (MSPs) to help them solve their clients’ business problems with technology solutions. Prior to joining Kaseya, Miguel served as the director of consulting services for All Covered, a nationwide technology services company that is a division of Konica Minolta Business Solutions USA Inc. In 2008, All Covered acquired NetCor Technologies, a leading MSP that Miguel founded and managed since 1997.
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