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Live Blog: ConnectWise IT Nation Wednesday #ITN16

So, what's brewing at ConnectWise IT Nation 2016? Actually, some major branding and user experience news -- plus key cloud relationships with Acronis, StorageCraft and SkyKick apparently may surface. Here's the chatter -- as it unfolds minute by minute -- from meetings at the conference.

PS: Check back every hour or so. We'll add new updates as our meetings unfold.

Craig Fulton
Craig Fulton

1. The Big Theme: Thursday's ConnectWise keynotes will focus heavily on generating breakthroughs in your company, delivering great customer service, and more. ConnectWise will connect the dots between those themes and its new product branding.

ConnectWise remains the flagship brand, with key activities -- sell, manage, automate, control -- reinforcing that brand. And oh yes, there will be user interface demoes, according to VP of Product Craig Fulton. PS: The Business Suite terminology is going away, sources say. Going forward, it's simply ConnectWise -- though individual functions (sell, manage, automate, control) will still be available for individual purchase and deployment.

2. Major BDR Cloud Relationships: Watch for key players like Acronis, StorageCraft and SkyKick to announce and/or demo integrations with CloudConsole. As you may recall, CloudConsole already supports Office 365 and some Azure cloud management/billing functions. But what if it also became a dashboard for cloud-based BDR services? And what if those CloudConsole capabilities lived in each ConnectWise product -- the way a standard print driver or print icon lives in Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint and more? Multiple sources say this will be a big theme to watch at the conference.

3. Wide Area Network Visibility: Sinefa, which specializes in traffic visibility particularly over wide area networks and the Internet, is making some noise at IT Nation. It’s a multi-tenant platform with about 175 partners onboard, according to John Milionis, head of business development. Sinefa provides “pervasive visibility” into WAN connections and the traffic within the company claims. MSP veteran Amy Luby is involved in the U.S. expansion…

David Bellini

4. ConnectWise and Brexit -- No Price Increases: We're catching up with ConnectWise President David Bellini, who oversees the company's international businesses.  As you may know, some IT companies are raising prices in Britain to offset the Brexit fallout. ConnectWise won't be raising prices, however. The reason: ConnectWise's Britain expenses are localized with local talent, so the company doesn't have to pass on any cost increases to partners, Bellini said. Business is strong in the UK, he noted... Stay tuned for some potential data points tomorrow amid additional meetings with the company. Next up, the company wants to accelerate expansion beyond the UK. There's momentum in Sweden. And longer term, keep an eye on the German market.

5. IT Glue Expanding: I mentioned this earlier today in another blog. But just to drive home the point: IT Glue is hiring for some key positions. They're one of the fastest-growing software providers in the MSP industry. And their team DNA/ownership includes former MSPs.

6. M&A Advisors: I mentioned that multiple private equity firms and angel investors are quietly navigating the conference, looking for potential investments or takeover targets. Also on hand: Cogent Growth Partners, a buy-side MSP advisor.

7. eFolder Appliances: eFolder has started shipping its Replibit BDR appliances. As part of the launch, eFolder is giving away $10,000 worth of free BDR appliances to randomly selected attendees at IT Nation.

8. Financial & Partner Talent: GreatAmerica Financial Services has named Greg VanDeWalker to the new role of senior VP, IT Channel and Services. The new position will focus on strategy and continuity between the Unified Communication and IT business unit and Collabrance LLC, GreatAmerica’s channel-focused master managed services provider. VanDeWalker previously was VP and GM of the Unified Communications and IT Group. GreatAmerica is at IT Nation in full force.

9. Workspace as a Service: Itopia launched Cielo app, a mobile application for cloud workspace management. It's designed for corporate IT admins, MSPs and telcos. 

Jamison West
Bryan Gregory

10. After the MSP Buyout: It has been nearly a year since Aldridge acquired Arterian and PacketDrivers, essentially extending the Texas-based MSP into Seattle. So what have been the key priorities and milestones since that time? I caught up with Aldridge President Bryan Gregory and Arterian Founder Jamison West a few minutes ago. Some key lessons involving repeatable, scalable M&A have emerged. But the details are just too darn interesting to summarize here. I'll share key takeaways from the meeting in the next few days.

11. More Coverage: Read all of our ConnectWise IT Nation 2016 coverage on a single page right here.

12. Check Back for Updates: Keep checking this blog every hour or so. We'll make updates based on multiple meetings throughout the day.

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.