MSP, Mergers and Acquisitions, Content, Private equity

Barracuda Networks Acquires Managed Workplace RMM From Avast

Barracuda Networks has acquired Managed Workplace, an MSP software platform from Avast, according to an email from Avast Senior Vice President Kevin Chapman to business partners.

> Related: Barracuda MSP Senior VP & GM Brian Babineau explains Managed Workplace opportunities.

The Managed Workplace acquisition may intensify Barracuda competition vs. ConnectWise, Continuum, Datto, Kaseya and SolarWinds MSP. All of the companies now own RMM (remote monitoring and management) software that MSPs consume to support customer networks.

Ironically, Thoma Bravo -- Barracuda's private equity parent -- also has separate ownership stakes in Continuum and SolarWinds MSP. (More on that further down in the article.)

Competition between Barracuda and antivirus software providers in the MSP sector may also intensify. The reason: Barracuda will partner to promote Avast's security software to partners -- potentially aligning the companies against such MSP-centric software rivals as Webroot (entrenched in the MSP sector) and VIPRE Software (emerging).

Barracuda Networks: Larger MSP Software Ambitions

Still, this isn't just about about RMM software and an anti-virus partnership. The Managed Workplace acquisition is part of a larger MSP-centric partner strategy that extends all the from Barracuda CEO BJ Jenkins' office to the company's boardroom, ChannelE2E believes.

BJ Jenkins
BJ Jenkins

In an interview with ChannelE2E last fall, Jenkins described a multi-year plan to build a stronger and stronger MSP partner ecosystem. The first step was acquiring Intronis backup in 2015. Now comes the Managed Workplace acquisition.

And it's a safe bet Barracuda is scouring the market for more targets.

Private Equity Firm Thoma Bravo: Making Major MSP Software Moves

The Barracuda-Managed Workplace move also reinforces private equity firm Thoma Bravo's growing influence in the MSP software market.

As I mentioned: Thoma Bravo owns Barracuda, and also has separate ownership stakes in Continuum and SolarWinds MSP.

Thoma Bravo has quietly become one of the most powerful companies in the MSP software market. And sources say the company is striving to negotiate another massive MSP-related acquisition in the weeks ahead. The pending move may counter private equity portfolios at Vista Equity Partners (parent of Datto) and Insight Venture Partners (parent of Kaseya).

Barracuda Networks: What's the Plan for Managed Workplace RMM?

Still, the latest piece in this ever-shifting puzzle involves the Barracuda-Managed Workplace deal.

Barracuda MSP SVP Brian Babineau

Managed Workplace, originally developed by Level Platforms, was once one of the most widely deployed RMM platforms in the MSP sector. But rival M&A deals coupled with multiple Managed Workplace owners has limited the product's installed base in recent years, ChannelE2E believes.

Among the challenges: AVG acquired Managed Workplace in 2013, and then Avast acquired AVG in 2016. R&D with Managed Workplace continued -- boosting some security capabilities, in particular. But Avast was mainly a security software company rather than an MSP- and RMM-centric company.

Managed Workplace certainly has a niche following among MSPs. It's still a well-known product, but rivals such as ConnectWise Automate, Datto RMM, SolarWinds MSP and Kaseya VSA likely have much larger installed bases.

Still, Barracuda CEO BJ Jenkins and private equity parent Thoma Bravo are not to be underestimated. Stay tuned for more analysis from ChannelE2E. And I suspect, more moves from Thoma Bravo...

Joe Panettieri

Joe Panettieri is co-founder & editorial director of MSSP Alert and ChannelE2E, the two leading news & analysis sites for managed service providers in the cybersecurity market.