SolarWinds MSP head Pagliuca emphasizes spirit of partnership in Empower keynote

SolarWinds SVP and GM Pagliuca kicked off the company’s event in Scottsdale by emphasizing the centrality of partnership between the company and its MSP partners, while talking about what MSPs need to do to be successful and giving them some nuggets about new things they can expect this year.

John Pagliuca onstage during his keynote

Security is the key for MSPs going forward, but that security needs to be delivered within a strong relationship of partnership between SolarWinds MSP and their MSP customers. That was the theme of the opening Executive Update keynote delivered at the opening of SolarWinds MSP SVP and General Manager John Pagliuca’s keynote at the company’s Empower event in Scottsdale AZ on Tuesday.

Pagliuca began his talk with an anecdote, when four weeks earlier he was asked by his kids who his partners were that he talked about on the phone, and he told them that he referred to his MSP customers as his partners.

“Ive been in software for a little over 20 years and in the MSP business for the last five, and this is the first business where we really refer to each other as partners,” Pagliuca said in his keynote. “If they do well, we do well. If they grow, we grow. If something bad happens to them, something bad happens to us. It’s very much a mutual risk, a shared responsibility.”

Pagliuca said that words matter, and the key ones here are ‘empower’ and ‘partner.’

“That is our job – to empower MSPs – and the second word is partner,” he stated. “It’s more important today than ever before to make sure we are partnering to stay ahead.”

Pagliuca said that the democratization of technology that began with the PC was a great thing, but that it also had a dark side.

“The democratization of technology has made it easier for the bad guys too,” he said. “They are no longer targeting the Fortune 1000, the  large organizations. They are going under the soft underbelly of the SMB. The number one reason that an SMB would change a service provider is they have a security incident, whether it be a breach or other security incident. Because whether you like it or not, the SMB expects you to protect their data, protect their numbers, protect their property. It’s a problem where I believe SolarWinds can stand head and shoulders above the rest. Behind the scenes, we have over 800 engineers working on your products, nearly 40 DevOps people doing pen testing and security procedures, making sure the infrastructure is safe, making sure you are safe, making sure your customers’ data is safe. No one else can invest the same level of security to make sure you are safe. The same processes, the same protocols, the same people that we’re focusing on to deliver software for the Department of Defense, we’re also delivering for you, to make sure your product is safe, and your customers are safe. As we think about partnership, its very critical to make sure you understand that’s what’s behind the SolarWinds name.”

Pagliuca then turned to what the company is doing today and tomorrow to help MSPs future-proof their business – what he termed a view inside the sausage factory.

“We have a project going on internally, code-named Zeus,” he said. “What Zeus is doing is effectively building a middleware that allows us to plug and play other software, a little more safe and a little more efficiently. We are beginning to leverage different parts of SolarWinds MSP, leveraging some of the core technologies of NetPath. That’s also an example of us going outside the portfolio and leveraging some of that greater SolarWinds technology. This will allow us to click into an attach, whether it be internal, or third-party software, more efficiently, safer, into our environment to get you more products as that acceleration continues.”

Pagliuca restated the company’s commitment to both the RMM platforms that they acquired with N-able and with LogicNow – something he has done on multiple occasions in the past, emphasizing that they make it work by continue to tweak the way they drive R&D.

“We have these two great platforms which are here to stay,” he stated in his keynote. “We continue to invest in both, to pull the best of breed out of both of them, we have twisted the organization 90 degrees to build once and play twice. We are now releasing Backup for Office 365, available for both platforms. We have pulled the best of breed out of both, to increase efficiencies, to get things to market a little bit sooner. Coming soon, we will have Backup for Office 365, One Drive and Sharepoint.”

Pagliuca then indicated some integration of the two platform capabilities is coming.

“For me, this is a long awaited one,” he said. “We are leveraging N-Able, which does a very good thing with network device management, taking the best out of that, and bringing that over to the RM platform. That will be coming soon. We are excited about what this will do for some of our folks that have been living in RM and missing that part of the story.”

Pagliuca discussed the recent acquisition of Trusted Metrics in July and what it will mean for partners.

“When I think about probably the most exciting thing we have done this year, it has to do with Threat Monitoring,” he said. “We acquired Threat Metrics. We talk about protecting and about why MSPs leave the business. It’s our responsibility to detect what’s going on. Why? The biggest reason is when the bad guys get in, they don’t act immediately. They sit, they gather information, they learn and then they act. If you aren’t doing your job to protect what’s going on in your customer’s networks, you are really falling a little bit short… We understand that this is something new for some, not so new for others, and our job is to make sure that we right-size the solution. What I like about this acquisition is [Trusted Metrics CEO] Michael [Menefee] and [COO] Marco [Muto] were MSSPs. They were service providers. They built the tool because they had the pain point. They saw a hole in the industry and built something with the service provider in mind.”

Pagliuca emphasized that in the spirit of partnership, SolarWinds MSP would both be making enhancements to the customer experience and doing more probing of their partners to get feedback.

“We are investing in people and technology to focus a little bit more on the customer experience,” he said. “We are starting to study more where the technicians, the folks in your organization are using our tools, where they are getting stuck, where they go to ask for help, where we can go to make your jobs a little bit easier. What reports are they using? What reports aren’t they using? You will start to see us asking you a little bit more, in the spirit of partnership. Everything we do, we do for your success. If we are putting something out in the market that’s not working for you, we need to know. We will ask more questions, get your feedback. You are helping us create our roadmap, shape what the product looks like.

“Another initiative we have is the MSP Advice Project that we are launching,” Pagliuca said. “This is 100 per cent MSP-driven content. These are videos that come from you folks. This is not SolarWinds pushing a technology. This is more advice from MSPs, from peers. We are funding it and supporting it and creating the videos. But other than that, this is a forum for MSPs to get out there and pitch what is important to them. We are also launching soon a new Customer Success Center. We understand that the user experience right now is not ideal. We want one user experience for your technicians to make it a little bit easier to see what is going on. Look for a new Customer Success Center later this year with a different look, a little more powerful, a better consolidated view.”

Pagliuca also publicized other Solarwinds MSP services available to partners.

“The MSP Institute is the largest amount of information relative to the MSP space in the world,” he said. “It’s technical. There is a lot of security information there, and it will focus also on business and sales and marketing. We firmly believe we have to be that partner that provides you with the right technology, obviously – efficient and safe – but also to make sure you are armed with the latest and greatest in business trends.”

Pagliuca also indicated that a customer referral program which once existed before was making a return.

“In the spirit of partnership we are bringing that back, so if you refer a new customer for us, you will be rewarded,” he said.

Pagliuca closed by referring again to his story about his discussion with his kids, saying he would tell the story at the show, and asking them what they think partnership meant. His eldest said that partnership means someone has got your back.

“That’s perfect, that captures what we are trying to do here,” he said. “SolarWinds MSP is a company that has your back, whether it be on the technical front on the business front. At the end of the day, we believe in one simple statement. We are here to empower you, to fuel your success. If you are successful, we are successful, and it’s as simple as that.”