The company’s product roadmap, unsurprisingly, is consistent with the broader corporate strategy of increasing automation, and moving towards more product innovation.
In the new year, SolarWinds MSP is very likely to have a new corporate organization, spun out of SolarWinds, and a new name. At their online SolarWinds MSP All Partners Meeting on Thursday, Mav Turner, the company’s Head of Product, emphasized that the likely spinoff will result in more resources for R&D, allowing the company to continue building on recent efforts to drive more innovation in its products.
“We are evolving our mission, from a commoditizer to an innovator,” Turner told his virtual audience. “We are now working to deliver technology earlier in the technology maturation cycle, by dedicating resources. You are probably already starting to see that with our work with Cisco, and Microsoft, and most notably with Apple, where we shipped support for Big Sur before Apple even shipped the new OS. This is the new standard. We will continue to expand our investment in securing our technology. We have made significant investment in people and tools to ensure we are delivering our solutions in the most secure manner.”
Turner grouped the company’s priorities for 2021 into what he termed three massive buckets – monitoring for both RMM and N-Central; data protection, and security offerings.
The monitoring roadmap starts with the delivery of new analytics capabilities.
“In the monitoring world, we are focused on providing an amazing platform experience, with analytics, and increased scalability and performance, he said. “Analytics is something we have been working on for a very long time, for both N-Central and RMM, and we are excited to begin previews shortly. This new analytics feature will allow you to quickly visualize the health and state of your customers, in beautiful and powerful dashboards.”
Big architectural changes are on the way as well.
“Today, most of our customers can manage around 20,000 devices in a single N-Central Server,” Turner noted. “For many of you, this starts to create bottlenecks in the growth of your business. So we’ve been working to modernize and scale up. In the next release of N-Central we will have completed the next big step in re-architecting the platform to be container-based, which will meaningfully increase the number of devices that can be managed in a single instance. You won’t need to deal with managing Kubernetes or container orchestration. We’ll take care of that, under the hood.”
Turner expects that a similar upgrade for RMM will follow in fairly short order.
“We’ve started the process of updating our RMM infrastructure, to increase the performance of the UI,” he said. “We are done with our global regions and expect to complete the U.S. early in the new year. These updates have resulted in a faster UI by roughly 20%, and in some areas, even faster. And that’s just the beginning.”
Turner said MSPs articulation of gaps in their visibility had several recurring themes.
“In the endpoint world, it’s deeper Mac coverage. For infrastructure, it’s networking. And for servers, it’s cloud-based compute. In 2021, we expect to make massive progress in all of these dimensions.”
Turner stressed that SolarWinds MSP is making Macs a first class citizen.
“When we release a new capability or update an existing one, it will be for both Mac and Windows at the same time,” he said. “As in our TeamViewer integration upgrade for RMM back in October, we will also ensure we have the full coverage of our existing services on Mac, such as patch management. We will ensure Mac capabilities work seamlessly for N-Central, RMM and backup through our agent unification initiative, which should be complete around mid-2021. And the way we built our Mac agent, it gives us a fun little bonus. I’m happy to announce that RMM now has support for Raspberry Pi. We are working on getting that extended to NCentral, and expect that to be in betas and preview shortly.”
Turner outlined the roadmap plans for networking, and emphasized that any changes that come from a spinoff will be positive.
“While we have a broad basic network support for N-Central and RMM for a long time, we failed to deliver the depth promised by our SolarWinds family,” he stated. “And once the split was announced, some of the first questions I got were ‘how will this impact our plans for deeper networking’. The great news is – it accelerates it. We are increasing R&D spending. We are not trying to align priorities across different business objectives. This doesn’t mean you will get NPM and NCM full products, which was never the plan, but you will get the power and depth of those features built right into N-Central and RMM.”
Turner also indicated that the company will also continue to expand the depth of their key partnership with Cisco Meraki and provide those capabilities out of the box.
Turner also outlined the public cloud roadmap, and asked for MSP feedback.
“We have many partners monitoring thousands of instances in Azure and AWS today,” he said. “That’s the power of the agent-based approach. However, we aren’t making it easy to leverage the unique capabilities of cloud. And we aren’t providing the extra information necessary to effectively manage those cloud-based instances. That’s the first step in the first half of 2021: Azure based instance discovery and monitoring. The next stage is to move beyond the simple compute management and cover the myriad of services available in public cloud. This is where we want to hear from you. Do you want broader multi-cloud support or deeper coverage of Azure or AWS? We are formulating those plans now so please reach out to me or my team.”
For data protection partners, Turner said SolarWinds MSP had made significant speed improvements through the year.
“Looking to 2021, we are excited to more deeply integrate our backup offering with RMM and N-Central. We’re bringing some small usability enhancements to market quickly and are working on a bigger overhaul of the way we integrate and deliver products long-term. We will do this in a way that will not require heavy lifting on your part.”
Turner said the company had received phenomenal partner feedback on two new key services, their Backup for Microsoft 365 feature and their Continuity service. “You will see us continue to invest and grow these products,” he emphasized. “For Continuity, for 2021, we plan to launch Recovery Infrastructure, to easily and quickly restore a backup without having to provide any hardware of your own. “
In addition to recovery, Turner emphasized the important in security of preventative technology.
“We are working on building a new fully integrated offering to provide security assessments,” he said. “This means you will be able to continuously scan your customers networks to quickly identify changes and threats. This new service offering will open up new revenue opportunities for you while increasing the security of your customers.” It will use the same dashboard that partners use now.
With endpoint security, Turner announced the next big step is a new partnership with DNSFilter to provide better Web protection for the user, which will enable creating filtering profiles in a few simple steps. It will be in preview soon.
He also emphasized the company’s deep collaboration with Liongard, which provides automation for MSPs, originally starting with documentation, but broadening out since into a range of capabilities.
“With our APIs, they have created a rich inspector for NCentral, which allows you to easily pull in your N-Central data and combine it with other sources,” Turner said. “We are working with them to create deep integrations across our products.
Turner also pointed out to partner that the SolarWinds MSP Institute going forward will have all regular roadmap updates for all products. RMM and N-Central are there today and they expect to have all products there early in the new year.