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MSPs understand the value of attending industry events and conferences. These professional gatherings allow MSPs to network with their colleagues and current clients and to discover new prospects. They also bring vendors, executives, and experts together for a few days to learn best practices. Companies often use conferences to introduce sales and marketing programs and launch new products.

While taking time away from your business is always a tough decision, conferences can provide the MSP with some downtime to share ideas among peers and contemplate new business opportunities. Sometimes, it takes stepping away from day-to-day business to clear the mind and rekindle your passion for the work.

Nobody can (or should) attend every single one of the hundreds of events and conferences out there. This article will help you narrow down the list and hopefully introduce you to a few events you had not considered.

MSPWorld

MSPWorld is one of the few vendor-agnostic events. A group of MSPs along with help from the MSPAlliance started this event about a decade ago, creating MSPWorld based on their real-world experiences. You will hear MSPs talk about their successes and failures. The planners designed MSPWorld with fewer keynotes but plenty of opportunities to network. Attendees will find analyists from Gartner and Forrester Research on hand, but the focus of the event is the MSP. If you can attend one event next year, consider MSPWorld.

MSPWorld is a 3-day event that takes place twice a year. It includes a general conference as well as workshops.

Cost: $399
Content focus: Networking, education, peer discussions

IT Nation

IT Nation is one of the largest and most popular MSP events in the United States. The conference brings together ConnectWise partners, executives, consultants, and experts to help grow your business. This is a traditional conference with keynotes, breakout sessions, and plenty of training opportunities.

IT Nation is a 3-day annual event with keynotes and over 190 breakouts sessions to choose from. If you are a ConnectWise partner, this is a must-attend event.

Cost: $995
Content focus: ConnectWise solutions, networking and training

HTG Peer Groups

If you are tired of the traditional conference and prefer something a bit more personal, you might like HTG Peer Groups. You must first join by application, but once accepted, HTG will pair you with a non-competing MSP. You will work together, discussing your business goals and learning from each other.

HTG brings everyone together four times a year to let you hear from business experts in your field. Networking and sharing ideas also play a crucial role at HTG. Unlike many events at which networking is a byproduct of the event, at HTG, networking and sharing ideas is the event. You will work one on one with a mentor who understands your business and be expected to share your knowledge with other MSPs. HTG offers both in-person and online communities. HTG Peer Groups is the one most MSPs join, but check out HTG Coaching and Consulting if the time commitment or cost exceeds what you can handle.

Cost: $5,000 per year
Content focus: Mentorship, networking, and best practices

Gartner Catalyst

Organized by the leading industry analyst firm, Catalyst offers six tracks based on your role and business. Gartner gears the conference toward the needs of technical professionals including MSPs, analysts, consultants, and sales professionals. As you might expect from a Gartner event, you will hear a lot of business strategy and advice to help you understand which markets are ready for expansion.

Gartner changes the six areas of focus each year. IoT, hybrid-cloud, blockchain, and AI were hot topics covered this past year.

Catalyst is an intense 2-day event, held annually. It includes over 150 technical breakout sessions.

Cost: $3,400
Content focus: Strategy, business opportunities, analytics

Microsoft Inspire

Inspire is Microsoft’s way of bringing together partners, Microsoft employees, and industry experts to network, learn, and play. Microsoft knows how to treat its partners, and it knows how to throw a party.

Microsoft events are known for large-scale keynotes, product demos, and lots of technical sessions. Inspire does not disappoint in these areas. Attendees can choose from several tracks based on business and role.

Inspire is an annual 5-day event. It includes keynotes, breakouts, and training sessions.

Cost: $1,995
Content focus: Microsoft products and services, networking, training

Managed Services and Hosting Summit

For MSPs doing business in Europe, this is an option closer to home. MSH Summit was held in London last year and draws a large number of attendees who come from all over Europe. MSH Summit offers breakout sessions that tackle the issues and challenges MSPs face today.

MSH Summit is an annual conference that offers many opportunities to network and learn from your peers.

Cost: Free for qualified delegates
Content focus: MSP strategy, business opportunities, networking

Conclusion

MSPs have dozens more events to choose from. Some MSPs might find it easier to attend certain events every couple of years instead of each year. When you evaluate events, don’t forget that some of the most valuable information and connections you bring home may not come from the formal program, but from the networking and conversations over dinner or in the hallways.

If spending in-person time at an event is not your thing or conflicts with other obligations, you can often purchase videos of the keynotes and training sessions once the event ends.

What events have you found to be the most valuable to your business?

View Comments

    • Hi John,

      I'm glad you asked! I believe your company is in New Zealand, is that correct? You'll probably want to contact our sales team in Australia at sales[at]storagecraft.com.au or call +61 2 8061 4444. If you are interested in signing up in the United States or Canada, you can either submit an inquiry here: http://www.storagecraft.com/shadow-protect-msp.php or contact our sales team directly at 801.545.4700 or via email at sales[at]storagecraft.com.

  • This is good news that Shadowprotect will be supporting Linux OS. What if we use the current iso to take backup of linux OS, can it work for backup and restore? Let me know.

    • Hello Vinod,

      Yes, we believe this is great news that StorageCraft will be releasing a CrossPlatform version of ShadowProtect which supports both the Windows and Linux platforms. We're very excited about this news.

      The current release of the ShadowProtect Recovery Environment - CrossPlatform is a positive step towards supporting the Linux OS. Currently this CrossPlatform Recovery Environment is intended only for backing up and recovering Windows OS systems (including Windows 8 and Server 2012). Another release will have the complete tools for backing up and recovering both Linux and Windows systems. I can tell you that this later release will be out before the end of the year. Until then, thank you for your kind comments and we we're looking forward to providing you with more information about this exciting update in the near future. Check back with us again soon.

  • Thanks, Casey. This was a really interesting take on the NSA's new local data center. Despite the privacy concerns, I'm excited to see what this means for the state. Silicon Slopes is definitely filling up with some great names!

  • Rather than placing it somewhere that looks nice or aesthetically pleasing, make sure that it is located at a place that allows proper circulation of air.

  • Wow is this for real? You cover how easily a host can get a virus and how the tech runs at the base level?

    Has a vmware host ever gotten hacked or got a virus?

    Has a windows computer ever gotten hacked or got a virus?

    I almost spit out my water when I read the part about Hyper V and stability. We have both Hyper V (2008 R2/2012) and VMware. Some REAL facts.

    * We have gone over a year on some of our vmware clusters with out patching or rebooting a host. NONE of our Hyper V hosts have reached 90 days.

    * Install and setup of a clustered Hyper V host takes about 10 times longer than a clustered VMware host.

    * Upgrading a Hyper V cluster....IS NOT POSSIBLE. You cant have two versions in the same cluster so you must build a new cluster and migrate the VM's over. The migration requires downtime for all VM's on a SAN volume. Ugrading a typical 8 node VMware cluster takes about 90min as upgrade the hosts one at a time and reboot them. (VMware supports mixed versions on a cluster.)

    * Many functions in Hyper V are POWERSHELL only. For instance you cant mass upgrade the "VM additions" in SCVMM unless a guest is off. In VMware you can highlight 50 (or more) running VM's and update the vm tools. It requires a reboot but the effort is 10x easier to complete.

    * We have NEVER had a VMware host go down, at all, not once. We have had MANY hyper v hosts drop all of their VM's for many different reasons. 99% of the time its YET ANOTHER hotfix you cant get from Windows update, to fix a storeport driver, or a MPIO issue, or a failover cluster issue. There is NO WAY we would run our production servers on Hyper V.

    * Drivers....for Hyper V you can get them from your hardware vendor (Dell, HP, etc) or Microsoft, or right from say Intel or Broadcom. Often MS Premiere support will tell us to go to the NIC drivers sight and get the driver vs the Microsoft driver or the Dell driver when we have a problem. VMware.....gives you the ONLY drivers you need. Yes they re-package the vendor drivers but you get them from one source, they are tested and supported.

    A real comparison is not a technical white paper, its in the trench usage of these products.

  • Casey, congratulations on this blog post -- I could not agree more. I am the editor of the Varnex Insider magazine, and would like to talk with you about the possibility of publishing this blog in our next issue (with full credit to you and StorageCraft, of course). Please email me at the address I provided so we can talk about this. Thanks very much. -- John

  • Great post, thanks Casey Morgan for writing such an informative post. Every body knows the importance of backup but no one takes care of it. Thanks fro reminding and guiding for backups.

  • Another win-win with image-based backups which ShadowProtect delivers is the ability to take a full "base image" backup and then "incremental" backups which only capture the changes that have occurred -- greatly reducing the storage requirements for image-based backups.

    Then with ImageManager, you can consolidate the image chain over time, set retention policies and even take advantage of the new rolling consolidation feature in ImageManager 6.

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