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ConnectWise Automation Nation: 10 Updates to Track

ConnectWise Automation Nation 2018 is under way in Orlando, Florida. The event has attracted several hundred technology solutions providers and MSPs. But this isn’t your traditional business-centric gathering. Instead, it’s more about technology training for teams of users who leverage ConnectWise Automate, ConnectWise Manage and more.

We’ll be on site for meetings this Wednesday (June 20). In the meantime, here are 10 key trends, developments and more that we’re tracking from afar….

10. Data Protection Part One: StorageCraft has unveiled new certified integrations with ConnectWise Automate and Manage. Although StorageCraft has mostly been a growth company in recent years, the firm has focused much of its messaging on attacking “legacy big-iron vendors” — essentially, data backup firms in the midmarket and enterprise. But this week, the company seems to be reestablishing its focus on MSPs — during both Automation Nation and DattoCon18 (in Austin, Texas). We’ll poke around to see how the strategy plays out.

Axcient/eFolder CEO Matt Nachtrab

9. Data Protection Part Two: Axcient/eFolder, the data protection specialist led by ConnectWise veteran Matt Nachtrab, has unveiled a “Fast Track to Partner Success” campaign for IT channel partner success. As part of the campaign, the company will give away a BMW 3 Series in November. Oh, and a side note: Keep an eye on eFolder’s corporate branding. The Axcient name has been working its way to the front of the line. eFolder has always been a pure channel business. And now Axcient is rekindling a major channel push… Sort of makes you wonder what’s next…

8. Data Protection Part Three: Multiple backup and disaster recovery (BDR) vendors are on-hand at the conference. Among the names to note, Infrascale briefly (but unofficially) enjoyed “most favorite nation” with ConnectWise during IT Nation 2017 in November. Also, Veeam has a noteworthy presence. Datto, meanwhile is noticeably absent from this gathering. Why? I believe ConnectWise positions IT Nation as the company’s “open to all” conference, while Automation Nation may not necessarily feature head-on rivals…

7. MSP Network Certification: Auvik Networks has launched a certification program to help MSP teams “enrich their network management proficiency and formalize their knowledge of Auvik.”

6. ConnectWise and Cisco Systems: The companies announced an SMB-centric technology and business partnership in 2017. By early 2018, the relationship grew to involve a new ConnectWise Advanced Security Dashboard. We’ll be checking to see where that relationship is heading next on the technology front…

5. Managed Security Services — Part One: It’s a big push for ConnectWise. The concept: Integrate with the next generation of security vendors, while training technology teams to sell and support security services. Among the names to watch at this conference: AlienVault, Barracuda MSP, BitDefender, Cisco Umbrella, Cylance, ESET, Malwarebytes, Sophos, Trend Micro, VIPRE and Webroot… just to name a few.

4. Managed Security Services — Part Two: Ask me for my updated views on ConnectWise’s strategy sometime by Friday. I may have some more information to share based on a range of confirmed meetings at the conference…

ConnectWise Chief Product Officer Craig Fulton

3. Integration vs. Innovation and Differentiation: ConnectWise in 2010 started investing beyond its PSA (professional services automation) heritage and ultimately acquired RMM (remote monitoring and management) and other tools. Those investments, for the most part, were all about tighter product integrations. Fast forward to present day, and the market has largely consolidated around ConnectWise, Continuum, Datto, Kaseya and SolarWinds MSP. Product integrations remain important. But each vendor must also pursue “best of breed” status for each product in a portfolio. When we sit down with Chief Product Officer Craig Fulton, we’ll strive to understand how ConnectWise is balancing product integrations along with individual product innovations…

ConnectWise CEO Arnie Bellini

2. Meanwhile, Arnie Says…: ConnectWise CEO Arnie Bellini typically shares his big-picture vision for the industry during IT Nation each November. But as we sit down with him at the midway point of 2018, we’ll ping Bellini for views on market health, private equity market activity, the hurdles facing MSPs and technology teams, and more.

1. Beyond MSPs: You’ll notice that a lot of ConnectWise’s product and company positioning now emphasizes technology teams rather than MSPs or technology solutions providers. The MSP commitment remains strong, but it’s a subset of the overall market opportunity — especially as more and more SMB companies seek to transform their businesses through technology. We’ll ask Bellini for more thoughts on the team-centric messaging coming from ConnectWise lately…

Bonus: What Did We Miss?: Got a theme or issue that you’d like ChannelE2E to explore at Automation Nation? Please email me your thoughts: Joe@AfterNines.com.

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