SolarWinds MSP gathers information to make MSPs successful at ChannelCon.

Solarwinds MSP’s VP of Security emphasized that the CompTIA event was exceptional at enabling both the vendor and MSPs to learn from each other.

Tim Brown, SolarWinds MSP’s VP of Security

WASHINGTON D.C. – Tim Brown, SolarWinds MSP’s VP of Security, was at the CompTIA ChannelCon event here to participate in a panel on the state of cybersecurity, and to discuss that state with MSPs. He talked with ChannelBuzz about his messaging to MSPs, and what they need to do to stay on top of today’s security trends. He also emphasized that while SolarWinds MSP’s goal is to make MSPs successful, the purpose of events like ChannelCon is to give them the information needed to achieve that goal

SolarWinds created SolarWinds MSP through a pair of acquisitions. The division was originally created with the acquisition of  Ottawa-based N-able in 2013, and then built up further by adding LOGICnow in 2016. Today, the legacy businesses of SolarWinds MSP are roughly equal in the amount of revenue generated, and they have over 22,000 MSPs and over 5 million devices under management. The company is well aware, however, that even though both SolarWinds and SolarWinds MSP involve protecting end users, they are fundamentally different markets.

“The MSP business is very different from SolarWinds’ core business,” said Brown, who is responsible for both security for Solarwinds MSP internally as well as their security solutions. “The core business took over markets that were well-established by doing the same job at a reasonable price. We became number one in network management when our competitors were big companies selling to big enterprises, because we can sell very well to network administrators at lower price points. As a result, we have taken over that market.”

The requirements of the MSP market are very different, however.

“Our core business sells to the IT professional, particularly in the Fortune 500,” Brown said. “The MSP model is different. We do not make our money unless MSPs are successful, so we do a lot of work to help MSPs be successful. With the core business, we sell a great tool, but It’s not about selling them a tool its about making them successful. That’s why we just announced the MSP Institute was announced, and the GDPR resource centre. Their success gives us success. If we just sell them the base tool and they don’t do anything, that’s a failure on our part.”

Brown said their focus is on teaching their MSPs the nuances of the SMB marketplace.

“Solarwinds MSP reaches a huge number of SMB through MSPs,” he said. “SMBs are that next place where adversaries and bad guys are going. It’s not the SMBs’ fault when they get compromised as a result. They don’t have enough resources to defend effectively. With large enterprises, it IS their own fault when they are compromised. It’s not just preventing people from doing stupid stuff. It’s about having containment policies. If someone lets an attack in, did they have too much access? If an infection results, can it move sideways and cause real harm or only take effect on that person’s box? Enterprises can focus on containment, but SMBs don’t have the expertise to do good cyberhygiene. They just don’t know enough.

“That’s why I’m a big fan of the MSP model,” Brown stressed. “The MSP has the responsibility to take care of good hygiene for the client.”

The issue is that an MSP isn’t going to be deeply focused on security.

“Can an MSP handle an active attack? Probably not. Can they do pen testing or risk assessment? Probably not. That’s why we  promote partnerships. Using partners to do more specialized things like security assessments is not a bad thing.”

Brown that that part of SolarWinds’ MSP’s role is to help the MSP make these kinds of decisions.

“It’s a matter of figuring out the right thing to do in their environment,” he said. “We will help them with things where they don’t feel comfortable. We now have a product that helps them do monitoring. We are looking for things to do in that area to help them fill out their portfolio. Where MSPs partner today for more advanced endpoint protection services are also where our opportunities are, around things like password management, and privilege account management. Big identity management, which has a lot of consulting, probably isn’t a fit for us.”

The ability to present all this in a personalized form for the customer is a necessity for MSPs, Brown said.

“The MSP business is getting pressure from the carriers, and the key to their success, and survival, is personalized service,” he said. “The MSPs who understand their services well, and can position them specifically to a client’s needs – those are the ones that are super successful.”

Events like  ChannelCon where both vendors like SolarWinds MSP and their partners can learn from each other are critical, Brown said.

“The more face time we can have with our MSPs and potential MSPs, the better off we are,” he said. “We learn their pain points and what they hear from their clients. They have a breadth of information that we can learn from. They also help us test the market. Is the Internet of Things something we should be talking about, for example. ChannelCon is a great opportunity to meet with clients, partners and potential partners, and that has significant value. But we are here to enable the MSPs to be successful, and to do that, we  need to understand what they need to make them successful.”