SolarWinds MSP head Pagliuca stresses five steps to winning in the MSP market

Solarwinds MSP’s John Pagliuca kicked off their 2019 Empower conference with an opening keynote which stressed themes for success which are not new, but which the company has enhanced with new elements and improved processes over the last year.

SolarWinds MSP’s John Pagliuca (L) and Colin Knox onstage at Empower

ATLANTA – Margins in the service provider space are thin, and the difference between being a good MSP and an okay MSP today often means the difference between growing your business, and being out of business. That much is well-known, said John Pagliuca, Executive Vice President, General Manager MSP, at SolarWinds MSP in his opening keynote at the company’s Empower event here.  He then addressed what he termed five steps to winning in the MSP market, principles which he said are not new to SolarWinds MSP’s message, but which are constant in their importance.

“The theme of this event is Empower, and we believe that if you follow these five steps, we will empower you to be a stronger MSP,” Pagliuca told his audience.

The five pillars, five ways that MSPs win, are security, automation, monitoring,  choice and business support.

“It’s the same story, pillars that need to be tried and true and consistent,” Pagliuca said.

Security remains the most important of these pillars.

“When we talk about growth, we often overlook the retention part of the story, but retaining customers is critical,” he said. “In North America, for every four customers you land, you will lose three. The number one reason customers leave is security – ransomware and breaches. If you fail your customer there, you will see churn.”

Pagliuca said that SolarWinds MSP addressed this earlier this year through a partnership with next-gen endpoint security vendor SentinelOne.

“In July we came to market with the SolarWinds EDR [Endpoint Detection and Response] system, and we now have over 50,000 devices protected, and over 85,000 threats mitigated. That mitigates the churn factor.”

The second new initiative that SolarWinds MSP has undertaken is an enhanced Threat Monitoring Service Program, with a new partner, Flexis.

“Flexis is a Tier One MSSP that does SOC and NOC services,” Pagliuca said. “For me, it’s a perfect marriage.”

The third new element in the security arsenal was the acquisition of password management and IT documentation provider Passportal in April.

“Bad guys target the MSPs to get access to their customers’ crown jewels, and this is world-class password management for MSPs,” Pagliuca said. “Colin Knox [Passportal’s founder and CEO who is now Director of Product Strategy, Passportal, SolarWinds MSP] has been a tremendous add to the team.”

Pagliuca announced a 90 day free tryout of Passportal to introduce SolarWinds MSPs to the solution.

These three new elements, around SentinelOne, Flexis and Passportal, beef up SolarWinds MSP’s security since the last Empower, Pagliuca said.

The second pillar is automation. Pagliuca said that while MSPs know that automation increases margins, only about 15 per cent of MSPs have been leveraging SolarWinds MSP’s automation tool. He said that the company is working on how to better improve its use to unlock its capabilities for more MSPs.

“Automation and standardization boosts your profits and also helps retain your talent by removing mundane tasks,” Pagliuca said. “We have put together an automation cookbook with over 300 recipes. We have put together Automation Bootcamps, online, and over 1000 MSPs have completed these. These are free. Leverage these tools!”

Pagliuca also announced that SolarWinds has introduced a $25,000 prize for an automation hackathon to push best practices and scripts.

The third pillar, monitoring, means better leveraging the capabilities of the SolarWinds parent, whose core competency this is.

“SolarWinds is widely known as the number one network management company in the world, and we are drawing on the strength of that core technology,” Pagliuca said, noting that it had led to the recent delivery of NetPath, Network Devices, and Network Topology Mapper.

“Our vision is to monitor everything,” Pagliuca said.

The fourth pillar is choice, which here refers to SolarWinds MSPs’ support for a longstanding open ecosystem.

“The open ecosystem is not new,” Pagliuca stated. “We have been doing this for ten years, and putting MSPs in the centre. We have doubled down on this internally, launching the Technology Alliance Program. I have also asked my team to identify 20 vendors a year that we can better integrate with. We are also asking you what you want to see next.”

The fifth pillar Pagliuca described as the need to work on your business, not just in your business.

“Spending two days here is not enough to do that,” he said. “It needs to be adopted into every day of your lives, and needs to be pushed down and permeated through the whole organization.”

Pagliuca also counseled MSPs to leverage the resources of the SolarWinds Institute.

“It has the largest collection of MSP collateral in the world,” he said. “It’s free, but only about 25 per cent of MSPs leverage it. It teaches things like the best way  to go to market, to land a customer, even to fire a customer if you have to that. To me the courses are the best thing and we have over 120, with over 38,000 people enrolled in them now.”

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