Edmonton’s Identity Maestro pivots to MSP market as part of revitalization strategy

Identity Maestro, which was known as ServiceControl, before a 2017 rebranding, provides identity management for help desks and has reoriented their go-to-market strategy around MSPs.

Identity Maestro’s US Director of Business Development

LAS VEGAS – Identity Maestro was a new vendor at the CompTIA ChannelCon event this year. The Edmonton-based company’s brand is relatively new, although it is a reboot of a company that has been in identity management for help desks for a very long time. The company’s focus on the MSP channel is relatively new as well, and they are looking to expand their partner network – which does not yet have a single Canadian-based MSP.

Identity Maestro started out as a training firm – Omni Technology Solutions – focused on Novell and Microsoft. The Novell connection indicates their vintage. The company was founded sixteen years ago by a former schoolteacher, and the initial product managed Novell Directory Services.

“That was the foundation, and it was expanded into Microsoft,” said Davin Cooke, Identity Maestro’s US Director of Business Development. “It’s now Microsoft-focused – 99 per cent of the business. We still have some school districts on Novell, however, because even though Microsoft licensing is kind to them, it’s a forklift to move.”

The company was successful, and became the largest technology trainer in western Canada. They underwent a major transformation, however, after they developed server-side software to integrate data between companies’ CRM and email systems. That led to the Riva CRM integration software and the split of the company into two new ones. Riva, the new and hot property, was the more successful.

“ServiceControl, the evolution of the original company, was largely left to languish,” Cooke said. “Then two years ago, having known the original founders, I was hired to reboot ServiceControl.”

By this time, the focus of ServiceControl had become assisting Help Desks and Service Desks to provide simplified Identity Management as a Service.

“ServiceControl was always sold to these kinds of service desk organizations,” Cooke indicated. “We provide delegated task authority to perform identity management that allows low-level sneakernet people to manage school districts.”

The market for this had traditionally been SLED organizations, lower levels of government and education, as well as higher education and health care customers. The go-to-market for this was largely direct. A key change that Cooke introduced – and the reason why the company was at ChannelCon – was their introduction to the managed service provider market. Going forward, Cooke stressed that MSPs are the go-to-market opportunity for new sales because the opportunity here is so strong.

“I began the push into the MSP market when I came in,” he said. “We were always working with hybrid identity environments, and today most MSPs are missing an opportunity to streamline operations and offer this to their customers.”

The rebrand from ServiceControl to Identity Maestro took place  in late 2017 as part of this push.

“The reason for the rebrand was that we realized that we had to bring not just a solution to MSPs, but also knowledge and best practices,” Cooke said. “We work closely with our MSP partners and help them with Identity management best practices.”

Cooke said that while MSPs typically understand the basics of what Identity Maestro does, they haven’t been providing specifically what the company offers as a chargeable service.

“Partners are typically familiar with the practice of managing groups and privileges,” he explained. “They almost consider it a part of day to day operations. But in the Age of Espionage today, MSPs do a disservice to their customers by not reviewing privileges and determining if some need to be elevated. We monitor for strange stuff, like a request for elevated privileges from the same person at the same time every quarter. These are situations where we believe that there is increased risk. We provide monitoring for those types of scenarios, and reports indicating what changes have occurred.”

While some MSPs provide this kind of monitoring, they usually don’t monetize it.

“They often believe it’s part of their regular day to day operations, so they don’t charge for it as a line item,” Cooke said. “We believe there’s an opportunity for MSPs to provide identity management and governance as chargeable services.”

Microsoft provides a service internally with Azure Active Directory as part of Office 365, but it’s more for identity management during migrations, and Cooke said that it’s not purpose-built for the monitoring use case as Identity Maestro is.

“Our major competitor, aside from the Microsoft portals themselves, is ManageEngine [one of the Zoho companies],” Cooke said. “Someone like Okta is sold for different governance and risk use cases, not the service desk market.”

This was Identity Maestro’s first ChannelCon event.

“We signed up in February to be introduced to more MSP and CSP partners and have had a booth,” Cooke indicated. “We think it’s a good investment. We wanted to talk directly with MSPs and CSPs, as well as to talk with other vendors.”

The smaller MSPs who tend to frequent ChannelCon are a good fit for Identity Maestro because they tend to have customers in the company’s sweet spots.

“Typical MSPs here are not large, and may have 25-30 little businesses as customers,” Cooke said. “They are always looking for ways to augment their practices, which we can provide. We do have some large customers of our own, such as school districts with 40,000 users, but those are from our legacy business, which was direct.”

Today, the business is still nominally hybrid, but the focus is on the MSP channel.

“We sell to and service our legacy customers, but new business is primarily focused on the MSP market,” Cooke noted. “We’ve taken a bit of a pivot into CRM and ERP partners as well, because we find they have the type of relationship with their customers that can benefit from us. That’s the result of the convergence in the industry which has seen some CRM partners also become MSPs, because of the important of Office 365 and Dynamics to their business. Riva has served large financial organizations for years, and we can borrow expertise on that side. We are supporting Dynamics now and Salesforce by next year, hopefully by the first quarter.”

While Identity Maestro is a Canadian company, they do not as yet have any Canadian-based MSP partners.

“We do our business in the US and Europe, and have focused there in our recruiting because if you cast a wide net, you pick up more fish. However, we are investing in a Collaborate Canada Vancouver-based event on September 25 sponsored by the Microsoft Dynamics user group. That will be our first Canadian event.”

As Identity Maestro builds out their MSP channel, look for them to build out their internal resources and tools for better enabling partners as well.

“We have to build a more modern approach to channel sales than we have today,” Cooke said.