SolarWinds leverages new N-Central capabilities to improve MSP efficiency with Cisco Meraki

The extension of the SolarWinds MSP relationship with Cisco follows up on a recent one with Microsoft, and are part of a broader initiative to further extend MSP effectiveness.

SolarWinds has announced an expansion of their Cisco relationship, which integrates the Cisco Meraki Dashboard API with SolarWinds N-central, in order to simply the management of Cisco Meraki Devices by MSP techs using SolarWinds. The Cisco deal, which follows up on a recent extension of SolarWinds’ partnership with Microsoft to include Microsoft 365, is part of a strategic initiative by SolarWinds to respond to partner requests and provide them with new capabilities to increase effectiveness.

“This announcement is very similar to our July expansion of our relationship with Microsoft [around Microsoft 365],” said  Mav Turner, group vice president of products for SolarWinds MSP. “There were some parts of the relationship that were ad hoc and tactical, rather than strategic. For instance, we supported Cisco routers and switches, and the SolarWinds core business is in the Meraki marketplace, but the SolarWinds MSP business  was not in the marketplace.”

Turner said that SolarWinds initiated the expansion of the Cisco relationship for the same reason they had expanded the Microsoft one to include Microsoft 365 – in order to expand presence in the SMB market that is served by MSPs.

“We approached Cisco because of our mutual partners as these vendors figure out their engagement model for this market,” Turner said. “We have rebooted those relationships and reengaged with them around coverage of the SMB, not just the midmarket and the enterprise, as MSPs have become more and more critical in this space.”

The extended relationship involves more than a decision to expand strategic partnerships. It also leverages new capabilities in the recent release of the SolarWinds N-Central platform.

Mav Turner, group vice president of products for SolarWinds MSP

“The new release of N-Central gave us additional support capabilities,” Turner stated. “We added support for the ability to run Automation Manager policies against SaaS services. Before they had to be run on an endpoint, which isn’t helpful with SaaS. Now Automation Manager allows us to run this directly, and on any SaaS service, not just Cisco Meraki. These new capabilities that we were deploying in our N-central RMM’s automation manager mapped with Cisco’s repositioning of their strategy.”

SolarWinds has created an Automation Cookbook around Cisco Meraki, one of several hundred they have to assist partners in spinning up these integrations themselves. The company is stressing that the integration will make MSPs’ technicians more effective.

“It’s all about efficiencies,” Turner said. “MSP techs will no longer have to have multiple screens open or jump back and forth to correlate data from an endpoint. The techs get the information about the information about the problem that they are solving easier. We think that’s an important trend for us. It increases the efficiency of the techs, which is critical for an MSP. That tech efficiency storyline is critical here.”

Turner suggested that SolarWinds isn’t done yet with new Cisco integrations.

“We reached out to them at the right time with this, and there are a lot of other areas we are looking at expanding with Cisco,” he said.

Further integrations with other vendors are also very possible, Turner added, in part because of the announcement in August that SolarWinds is exploring a potential spin-off of SolarWinds MSP. There is no new news to report on that front, but Turner said that the fact it is being considered in itself tends to make the MSP operation consider more aggressive options.

“The announcement that they are exploring this lets us think differently about these things,” he stated. “We really think that right now we have a great opportunity to increase investments to accelerate the delivery of technology.”

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