SolarWinds Buys Into MSP Space with N-able Purchase

Gavin Garbutt

N-able CEO Gavin Garbutt

IT management software vendor SolarWinds is getting into the MSP market with a $120 million all-cash deal to acquire Ottawa-based remote monitoring and management company N-able Technologies.

For SolarWinds, the deal is a way to get access to the rapidly growing managed services market and the SMB customers that MSPs serve. And for N-able, it’s a way to continue and even accelerate growth. N-able CEO Gavin Garbutt said that as N-able’s growth has continued – 47 percent year-over-year in 2012, and 56 percent in the first quarter of 2013 – the company eyed a number of options to keep up the pace, including a variety of would-be suitors, and even an IPO in Canada. But ultimately, SolarWinds made the most sense because of the breadth of its product lineup and cultural fits.

Garbutt stressed that the company will retain the N-able brand, and will continue to focus on its MSP customers as part of SolarWinds, saying the company will “maintain our discipline” as a channel-focused company. In a statement announcing the deal, SolarWinds president and CEO Kevin Thompson said the addition of N-able gives his company an opportunity to “expand into another highly complementary branch of IT management that we believe is ripe for our disruptive go-to-market model.” Garbutt suggested it will be business as usual for the company’s MSP customers when the deal closes.

There will, however, be significant changes over time to N-able’s product lineup as a result of the acquisition. The next edition of the company’s flagship N-central software, release 9.2, is slated to go out of beta and become publicly available to MSPs within the next two weeks. Beyond that, Garbutt said MSPs can expect to see “a ton” of new functionality stemming from SolarWinds’ existing products to arrive in N-able’s products. SolarWinds’ lineup includes a variety of IT management tools, including application and server management, virtualization management, network management, storage management, help desk, and even secure FTP. It’s too early to say exactly what SolarWinds functionality will show up in N-able’s offerings and when, but Garbutt hinted that SolarWinds will give the company access to tools for midmarket and enterprise customers that are not today in N-able’s wheelhouse. One of the keys to the deal for N-able is the combination of SolarWinds’ breadth of products for IT management with N-able domain-specific expertise in tools for MSPs that server SMB customers.

“Where SolarWinds goes wide, N-able goes deep,” Garbutt said. “It’s a great opportunity to expand our portfolio and provide our partners with more products to allow them to service their customers even better going forward.”

As a result of the acquisition, Garbutt will cede his chair as CEO of N-able, but will stay with the combined company as an advisor. President and COO JP Jauvin will become GM of N-able under the SolarWinds umbrella, while sales chief Mike Cullen and marketing chief Derik Belair will retain their current roles.

The deal is expected to close by the end of May, and Garbutt said he expects back-end integration of the companies to be done within 60-90 days. SolarWinds said it will discuss further details, including product direction, branding, positioning, and pricing will be announced following the closing of the deal.