File Server & MSP Revenues

Four strategies to preserve "sticky" MSP revenue despite the threat of SharePoint file server migrations

As an MSP, have you suffered revenue losses due to your customers' file server migrations to SharePoint?

Have your clients asked you to work with Microsoft to recover a long-deleted file from SharePoint?

Have you had a history of SharePoint migration failures?

Or are you looking for a better way to host your customers' file servers?

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Losing File Server Revenue?

It's no secret that pressure on MSP revenue streams is increasing as file and application servers migrate to the cloud.

The MSP industry has generally been forced to adapt to cloud migration and reduced revenue by offering bundled services, focusing on specialization, offering additional value-added services or even developing its own software.

However, this is a sign that people have come to terms with the fact that there is not much they can do about the seemingly inevitable migration to the cloud and the erosion of more stable revenue from services related to on-premise file and application server management.

And that's a pretty big deal, because the value of an MSP business is determined by the projected size of its revenue stream and the likelihood that it will continue to exist and grow at historical rates.

Losing File Server Revenue?

Is the SharePoint migration inevitable?

As convenient as SharePoint Online is and solves problems for many customers, for MSPs like you it brings revenue issues and other challenges. If you are affected by these challenges, it's not because file server migration services like SharePoint are inevitable in the age of the cloud, but because there's an alternative like file server mobilization that you have not tried yet.

File Server Mobilization in a Nutshell

File server mobilization focuses on file server compatibility with user behavior and applications used by users. At the same time, it makes it easier for remote users to access files and folders from remote and mobile devices without the need for a VPN or RDP. Technically, file server mobilization is a software component or service that includes remote access capabilities and interacts directly with existing file servers while preserving drive mapping, file locking, permission control, user identity for users, and external references (XREF) for application compatibility.

CentreStack's mobilization solution for file servers aims to preserve "sticky" revenue whenever possible and tap new sources to replace the "inevitable losses" from migrations to cloud services such as SharePoint. The channel-focused platform offers four key strategies that can help SAVE "sticky services" revenue and increase margins:



Showcase CentreStack advantages vs SharePoint limitations to raise awareness of file server mobilization.



Advertise CentreStack in all service bundles to show complete service portfolio for both migration and mobilization.



Validate the value of customer relationships for customers prefer mobilization over migration.



Expand sticky revenue with Multi-Tenant File Servers and direct access solutions.

File Server Mobilization in a Nutshell

The limits of SharePoint and the opportunities it offers

SharePoint Online appears to be the only solution your customer is aware of in terms of file server migration, as it is bundled as part of the Microsoft 365 offering and has no additional cost. The solution offers many benefits that encourage organizations to migrate their file server to SharePoint, saving the cost of maintaining an on-premises file server. Many customers are finding that SharePoint is the right solution for their business, so they are happy to stay with SharePoint Online because it meets their content collaboration needs.

However, there are more companies that are struggling with SharePoint and are finding it even harder to start migrating. Some organizations simply can not afford to migrate to SharePoint due to compliance and regulations. Some find it difficult to overcome application compatibility, and still others struggle to adapt to the following SharePoint limitations.

  • 5,000 item limit in a document library
  • 10,000 item sync limit for the OneDrive client
  • NTFS permission reorganization requirements
  • Maximum name length limitations
  • Prohibitive costs of data reorganization

While the first group of customers may find a happy solution in SharePoint, the second group may have heard about the benefits of SharePoint and are trying to force their MSP, i.e. you, to help them migrate their file servers to SharePoint as well. After so many failed attempts, you have realized that file server migration is not right for all your customers. For those customers who need more file server compatibility, there is now a file server mobilization solution that will help you.

We'll explain how strategies 1-3 focus on protecting revenue:

  1. Let your customers know where SharePoint is failing so you can lead them away from migration attempts but down the file server mobilization path.
  2. Encourage your customers to consider the total cost of cloud migration so they can choose between migration and mobilization.
  3. Make sure customers who choose not to migrate SharePoint do not give up the benefits of the cloud because mobilization helps.

We also show you how the fourth strategy extends "sticky" profit streams by:

  1. Reducing server management costs
  2. Increasing MSP net profit while lowering customer costs
  3. Recurring revenue through VPN replacement

Your Customer Base is Broad

There are customers who are happy with SharePoint and those who are not. The strategy is not to push satisfied customers away from SharePoint. The opportunities arise when the following strategies are applied to identify those who are either not satisfied with SharePoint or cannot use SharePoint at all, and help them with an alternative file server mobilization solution to improve remote and mobile productivity while maintaining MSP revenue from managed file server assets.


Showcase CentreStack

As their trusted IT service advisor, you have clues about which customers are happy with SharePoint and which are not. Some clues may be related to the customer's large data set, while other clues may have to do with the applications they are running and the security and compliance context they are in. The first strategy is to simply identify the customers who can not get along with SharePoint or use SharePoint at all, and help them understand the difference between migration and mobilization by introducing CentreStack. Here is a brief overview of the five areas where problems can occur.

1. Mapped Drives and File Server Compatibility

For customers who need drive mapping, file locking and centralized permissions management capabilities so users can seamlessly access their familiar P, Q, R and S drives with their existing usernames, passwords and permissions. They are looking for the benefits of an on-premises file server combined with the mobility of the cloud.

2. Backup, Protection and Recovery

Microsoft is absolving itself of responsibility for customer data. SharePoint currently only offers 30-day backup. With CentreStack, you can protect your customer's data, take advantage of ransomware protection features, and set retention policies that allow users to recover deleted files.

Showcase CentreStack

3. Application Compatibility

For customers who need compatibility with legacy applications like AutoCAD or InDesign that experience file locking and other multi-user issues on SharePoint, CentreStack works with those applications.

4. Compliance, Control and Privacy

Some customers knew from the start that they could not use SharePoint because files needed to be stored in a specific location to save costs, meet business requirements or comply with compliance regulations. With CentreStack, they are not left behind when it comes to mobile productivity for their employees' content collaboration needs.

5. Reduced Migration Complexity and Costs

Many customers underestimate the cost of cloud migration. SharePoint restrictions, for example, may require a complete reorganization of all data and permissions! You may need to split large data sets into multiple smaller libraries and trim long file paths. CentreStack saves you all these additional costs by making your file server data AS-IS available to mobile workers.

Showcase CentreStack

What verticals like mobilization?

Certain industries are better suited for file server mobilization, such as architecture, engineering, construction, manufacturing, advertising, and government. With CentreStack, you can provide a unique solution for their needs while protecting your revenue streams. The following comparison between file server migration and file server mobilization explains why certain industries prefer certain solutions.

File Server Migration File Server Mobilization
File server migration typically does not focus on application compatibility. As a result, it may affect user's daily habit regarding how files are accessed. File server mobilization focuses on backward compatibility such as drive mapping, file locking and permission controls.
Providers provide a sync folder to access files and folders, for example, from a "Dropbox" folder. Providers provide drive letters that match those of the local network without requiring a VPN.
Customers rely on the provider's Data Life Cycle Management for data backup and retention. Customers leverage existing file server lifecycle management without disruption.
After file server migration, the file server is decommissioned. After adding mobilization capabilities to the file server, the file server remains active.
File server migration focuses on moving data to the cloud to reduce local management overhead. File Server Mobilization focuses on keeping the data for data ownership, privacy, compliance and compatibility reasons.


Advertising CentreStack in "Stickier" Service Bundles

The first step to helping customers who have not been able to use SharePoint is to raise awareness of file server migration versus file server mobilization (see Strategy #1). And the best way to create that awareness is through a service bundle. If you have not already, adopt the industry practice of offering bundled services. Typically, MSPs offer 3 options that can be considered good, better, and best. The general consensus is that bundled services are much more stable than services sold individually, although it can be more difficult to justify the higher initial expense of buying a bundle of services.

The second strategy:

  1. Offer CentreStack in all bundles to educate customers about alternative ways to improve mobile productivity and increase customer loyalty.
  2. Encourage comparison of total cost of migration (TCM) across all services.

Bundling services provides a platform to promote the unique combination of value that an MSP can provide. And customers are more likely to consider the following:

  • My trusted advisor has done their homework to provide a group of best-in-class services that meet my needs.
  • What are the TOTAL costs if I replace all the services in the package offered by my MSP?
  • Is there a risk that I will not get the best product for my needs if they all come from the same vendor? The best file sharing solution for my needs does not necessarily come from the vendor with the best spreadsheet software.

The addition of CentreStack to MSP bundles reinforces this approach and increases customer retention by providing the familiar experience of mapped drives and file servers without disrupting users' existing workflows. It introduces more customers to the features and benefits missing from services like SharePoint and Dropbox, achieving two important goals:

  1. It increases customer awareness that a solution exists to meet those needs.
  2. It makes it more likely that customers who have these needs will never leave (especially in industries where customers struggle with SharePoint)

File Server Migration or Mobilization?

SharePoint, Dropbox, Google Drive and similar services are all based on file server migration. And that’s why so many of their customers have problems in these areas. To address them, file server migration must be replaced by file server mobilization – an approach that fully addresses mobile productivity and security BUT also maintains 100% compatibility with file server use cases.


Validating the Value of Customer Relationships

The first part of the strategy sequences is about creating awareness of the limitations of SharePoint and the opportunity to achieve cloud mobility by mobilizing file servers. Implementing the awareness plan will increase the likelihood that your customers will continue to count on you to manage their file servers. However, there are customers who choose not to migrate data to Microsoft sites even though they appear to be able to leverage SharePoint capabilities.

These customers prefer to retain control of their data and entrust its maintenance to their MSP. By highlighting the unique benefits of CentreStack, MSPs can show their customers that they can get the same benefits as SharePoint without losing trust.

We need to make sure they know that their data is in better hands with their MSP with CentreStack because it is safe, compliant, secure and private. We want them to start thinking, "Why would I ever want to switch to a vendor like Microsoft that forces me to accept that they are not responsible for my data?"

As an MSP, this is the advantage of using CentreStack, or any Gladinet product, along with the added benefit that your customers’ data stays under your control when they need file server mobilization. And that makes them much more likely to continue paying you “sticky” revenue for related services. 


Expand “Sticky” Services Revenue with Multi-Tenant File Servers

CentreStack lets you consolidate multiple file servers while maintaining separation and security in an easy-to-manage, multi-tenant environment. This is especially useful if you serve customers who can only partially migrate to the cloud or are forced to keep their data on-premises for various reasons.

By deploying a multi-tenant server for use by multiple customers, you can reduce file server management costs and increase your bottom line. And by using CentreStack to directly access on-premises file servers, you can turn on-premises file servers into private collaboration hubs that greatly improve productivity and security.

So, if you are interested in developing new revenue streams and expanding your managed services offering, schedule an appointment to discuss these opportunities with us. We look forward to helping you grow your business and optimize your customers' experience.

We hope you will use some or all of the strategies discussed to maintain existing "stable" revenue where possible and develop new revenue streams to offset the pressures of cloud migration.

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