How O’Brien Technologies Thrives as a 10-Person MSP

The Background

If you stay too small, you can’t serve big customers. But if you get too big, you get bloated. The best place to be is in the middle.

That’s the strategy driving growth for O’Brien Technologies, a 10-person MSP based out of Bakersfield, California. Their regional competitors include two or three large MSPs and a big number of one- or two-person-sized competitors. But the middle is wide open—and for Shannon O’Brien, the company’s founder, the middle is the sweet spot for attracting the kind of customers he really wants. Today, O’Brien has 100 business customers and services 150 schools.

But it’s not easy being a 10-person MSP.

O’Brien faces pressures from both ends: he needs economies of scale like his large competitors, but still needs to keep his margins up; at the same time, he needs personalized, high-touch service like his smaller competitors, but also needs to manage many more moving parts.

Can an MSP thrive in the middle ground?

O’Brien Technologies

Company Profile:
O’Brien Technologies is a full service IT provider

Headquarters: Bakersfield, California

Intermedia’s customer since: 2014

The Challenge

Have you ever wondered how Southwest Airlines keeps its prices so low as compared to much larger airlines? The answer is standardization and efficiency. For example, they only fly one kind of aircraft, which means they can make their entire employee base more efficient. (This video explains more.)

The same principle is at work at O’Brien Technologies. O’Brien’s strategy requires the company to be extremely efficient, which means they don’t operate like the typical MSP. “I’ve seen some MSPs with racks full of servers. They have to come up with $50,000, $100,000, or $200,000 just to even get started—and then they have to replace equipment a few years in. You have to have a LOT of customers on that system just to be able to break even,” says O’Brien.

Instead, O’Brien Technologies stays efficient by standardizing all of their services—both hardware and software. “We approach it like we’re managing one large business instead of a bunch of smaller businesses. We use Cisco® products across the board for our routers and switches. We use Dell® servers across the board. And we turn customers to Intermedia at every opportunity.”

The Solution

“Intermedia helps us to be far more efficient in our operations. They help with centralization, ease of billing, and lowering the time we spend administering systems,” says O’Brien.

Here are a few ways that Intermedia helps O’Brien Technologies run their business at scale:

  • All of the customers are on a common platform. Like Southwest, O’Brien Technologies is more efficient because they standardize the platform. O’Brien elaborates: “The management console is easy. We can use it on-the-fly from our phones, out in the field from a hotspot, or wherever we’re at, we can administer any of our customer systems for a single interface. That’s priceless.”
  • Intermedia makes billing much easier. “Intermedia sends us a lump sum statement every month. My office manager can pull reports and get a full breakdown of how the bill spreads across each customer. This makes it easy to then bill it out to our customers. I don’t even have to monitor it heavily myself because it’s so simple, routine and easy-to-manage.”
  • Intermedia protects their margins. “We know what the industry average pricing is for Rackspace® and other providers. So we give our customers a discount compared to retail pricing—but Intermedia is also giving us a discount on top of that. As a result, we are able to find a sweet spot in the middle that offers customers a discount while we still make money.”
  • Intermedia offers assistance across the customer lifecycle. From sales support to onboarding, Intermedia makes it easy for O’Brien and his team to stay focused on business. “Every time I get an Intermedia satisfaction survey, it’s always positive. I have yet to have a bad experience. My account rep and everybody I’ve worked with, the entire team--everyone is great. Since we don’t have to run around putting out fires, we can focus more on the customer’s needs by putting in technology that makes sense and has a positive impact on the end user.”

We started using Intermedia’s services for Exchange email first, and now we’re using some of everything—Cloud PBX, Intermedia AppID® and SIP Trunking. Every type of service you guys have, we’re using in some fashion for our customers.

Shannon O’Brien, company’s founder
O’Brien Technologies

Products They Use

The Results

O’Brien is able to stay efficient thanks to Intermedia. “I feel fortunate that we came across Intermedia when we did,” says O’Brien. “It was right when we started growing rapidly and adding more employees and tons of customers. Once we learned how Intermedia lets you do everything you can do on an on-premises system and more—and with more flexibility and uptime—we realized it was an excellent solution.

“I’ve been administering Exchange systems since my first year in IT, so to find something as solid as your system, is just perfect.”

Today, O’Brien’s Intermedia deployments go far beyond email. “We started using Intermedia’s services for Exchange email first, and now we’re using some of everything—Cloud PBX, Intermedia AppID® and SIP Trunking. Every type of service you guys have, we’re using in some fashion for our customers.”

Intermedia is O’Brien’s go-to-choice for standardizing multiple services across many different customers. It’s one of the key reasons they’re succeeding as a mid-sized MSP. Their approach to staying efficient is a lesson for all MSPs that want to grow their customer base. When asked what advice he’d have for other MSPs, O’Brien simply said, “I have yet to work with another company that takes care of us like Intermedia does.”

Intermedia AppID is either a trademark or registered trademark of Intermedia.net, Inc. in the United States and/or other countries. Cisco is a registered trademark of Cisco and/or its affiliates. Dell is a trademark of Intel Corporation in the U.S. and/or other countries. Rackspace is either a registered trademark Rackspace US, Inc. in the United State and/or other countries. We are not affiliated with, endorsed or sponsored by Rackspace and/or its affiliates.

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