Joseph Landes understands the complexity of Microsoft Azure and other Microsoft cloud products. That’s why he makes it Nerdio’s mission to help MSPs understand the landscape and simplify the process.
Landes, who is the CRO for Chicago-based Nerdio, which is a Microsoft Azure automation provider, said education is key when it comes to navigating the complex.
“I think the more valuable we become to MSPs, the more they’ll want to spend time with us,” he told CRN. “They’re going to want to use our products more and they’re going to want to learn more with us. That’s how we’re going to keep growing. That’s our big thing.”
To help partners grow, Nerdio recently relaunched their partner program, Partnerd, “to bring value and to stay true to the values we have, which is really about educating the channel on Microsoft Azure and how to build a cloud practice in Microsoft Azure.”
“A lot of people got a lot of value out of the program but we stepped back and we started interviewing MSPs asking them, ‘What else can we do to make your lives easier?’ and then that formed the basis of version two,” said Landes, who spent about 15 years in various sales and marketing roles at Microsoft before landing at Nerdio in 2018.ADVERTISEMENT
Check out CRN’s exclusive interview with Landes about the new-and-improved partner program, what Nerdio is doing to help partners prepare for a recession and how Nerdio is helping MSPs understand and simplify their Microsoft Azure experience.
What’s different about the relaunched partner program?
There’s a couple of, I’d say, important things that are very different about it. First of all, the benefits you get from being part of Partnerd have been significantly enhanced. We have four levels: bronze, silver, gold and platinum. At each level there’s a different set of benefits, but at the highest levels, platinum and gold, they get an all-expense paid trip to NerdioCon. And why do we do that? We feel NerdioCon is the best opportunity for an MSP to learn how to build a cloud practice in Azure, to go deep with a bunch of Microsoft executives who are there, to go deep with us, business Leadership, technical leadership…so that’s the benefit of it. The rest of the partners, if you sign up for a partner program, you get a discount to attend NerdioCon. Why do we do that? Because it‘s an opportunity to educate people. We run something called Nerdio Training Camp and run them in cities literally all over the world. The idea is we bring MSPs in, it’s totally free of charge, and they get to sit with their laptops open and learn how to actually bring a customer into the cloud with Azure.
A lot of the MSPs said to us, ‘These are amazing trainings, but can you help us get our people there?’ We said, ‘Great. If you‘re part of the partner program, you’re going to get a travel voucher to come to the training camps. Now you almost have no excuse not to come.’ We have MDF (market development funds) so a lot of MSPs say to us, ‘I‘d like to put on my own event and show my customers why we should move them to the cloud.’ And we say, ‘Great, if you want to put on an Azure event, not only will we come speak at it, we’ll give you some money to help you buy lunch, put on the event, do whatever you want.
We have a certification program. We have free internal use rights, so internal use licenses that people can use to bring their own practice to Azure. So there‘s really a lot more benefits to joining Partnerd with version two than version one.
What are you hearing from MSPs as their biggest challenge and how is Nerdio helping them with that challenge?
When we started Nerdio we started it based on the premise that we can abstract the complexity of Microsoft Azure. As a company, across all aspects of Nerdio, we wake up every day trying to make things simpler for MSPs. The first problem we tried to solve is Azure. Then we heard from MSPs, as it turns out, Microsoft Intune and Endpoint Manager are equally complex. So we started investing in those technologies and building them in to our Nerdio manager products. I think what MSPs are challenged with, I think day in and day out, is just the overall complexity of technology. The more vendors can simplify things, abstract the complexity, make tasks simple so they don’t have to invest in hiring more people to take on more and more tasks I think the more successful companies are going to be who are serving MSPs.
It’s funny you say it that way: the biggest challenge for technology companies is technology.
I think it is. I haven’t put it that way, but I think you’re right. Think back maybe five years ago when people were using Microsoft Office, and then Microsoft came out with this thing called Office 365. They said, ‘It‘s time for you to get rid of your on-premise office, it’s time to move to the cloud.’ Well back then a lot of MPS were like, ‘Why do I want to do that? That seems really hard and complicated.’ And then there were companies that sort of sprouted up to make that world easier for them. We‘re in the same place now with Microsoft Azure. Microsoft is growing their Azure business between 40 and 50 perecent year-on-year, every single quarter. But it’s even more remarkable when you think about the fact that Microsoft Azure is probably more than a $15 billion business. A $15 billion business growing almost 50 percent year-on-year is unbelievable.
So if you’re an MSP and you’re sitting there saying to yourself, ‘Should I jump on this train or not?’ If you don‘t, you’re going to miss one of the biggest things happening. Microsoft is driving one of the biggest transformations happening in the ecosystem right now. But then you say to yourself, ‘Okay, if it was so easy, wouldn‘t everyone be doing it?’ No, because it’s complicated. It‘s not simple. The technology is complicated and most MSPs don’t have a person who knows about Azure. They‘ve looked at Azure, they find it to be complicated and they don’t know how to make money with Microsoft Azure. So it‘s true that the technology itself is complicated and if there’s a company out there that can abstract that complexity, like Nerdio, and hasten their move to the cloud by making technology simpler then, yeah, that‘s Nerdio.
What is your biggest challenge right now? What keeps you up at night?
I would say unequivocally the number one constraint that our CEO and I believe to growing Nerdio is hiring amazing people. It is by far the biggest challenge, and there‘s a few reasons. There’s a talent dearth… I guess would be the word. There’s tons of companies and not as many great people out there to fill all the spots that are out there. Yes there‘s layoffs and yes there’s companies like VMware and Citrix that are being bought by private equity and merging and people will get laid off and they‘ll sort of recycle into the ecosystem for sure.
It‘s hard to find people. It’s hard to find specific roles. I think that‘s our biggest constraint to growing Nerdio faster, is just hiring the right people. We have a phrase that we use inside Nerdio: drivers versus passengers, finding great people who are drivers and it will fit into the mentality of a fast moving startup. They’re not going to be a passenger sitting on the bus watching the scenery go by, they‘re going to be a driver. They’re going to everyday come in and just feel compelled to move the business forward. It‘s hard to find people like that. A lot of these large companies that are laying off people…these are large companies, people are used to working in large companies that aren’t used to working in startups. They get sort of a big shock to the system when they come to work in a startup.
With talk of an impending recession, what is Nerdio doing to stabilize themselves and help your MSPs stabilize?
From an MSP perspective, which is what we think about day in and day out, one of the biggest areas that we add value is cost optimization for MSPs. Most MSPs regularly save 60 to 70 percent on the cost of Microsoft Azure just by working with Nerdio because of our auto scaling technology and many other technologies built into our product that just allow them to be much more efficient when they use Azure Compute and Storage.
In addition to that, our product just allows their people to be much more efficient. So when you think about the difference between hiring a level three technician or level one technician, they can use level one technicians, which are typically a little bit lower paid people, to use Nerdio. Nerdio is so simple that they don‘t need to find the Azure expert to use. Whether or not there’s an impending recession, we’re helping MSPs be more efficient and save money as they look to move to the cloud.
What can we expect from Nerdio in 2023?
We have pretty big aspirations as a company. I think any SaaS B2B company will tell you things like, ‘We want to double every year, we want to keep growing.’ And all of those things are certainly true. I think the biggest thing we’re really trying to solve is to continue to find new ways to abstract the complexity for MSPs. The first challenge we took on, which is a huge challenge, is Microsoft Azure. But as it turns out, when you talk to MSPs there are many other challenges they have with the Microsoft Cloud products. Think about products like Intune and Microsoft Endpoint Manager…super, super complex. Every MSP wants to be in that world but they’d have to sort of study for a Ph.D. in it before they were able to understand it. It’s very, very hard.
So how can we help them move into that world of physical endpoint management in a much easier way. How can we make their lives much easier when it comes to other Microsoft technology. I think we’re uniquely positioned to help MSPs really understand the world of the Microsoft clouds and use that learning to become more efficient and build successful Microsoft Cloud practices.LEARN MORE: Cloud Channel Programs
CJ Fairfield is an associate editor at CRN covering solution providers, MSPs and distributors. Prior to joining CRN, she worked at daily newspapers, including The Press of Atlantic City in New Jersey and The Frederick News-Post in Maryland. She can be reached at [email protected].
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