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ConnectWise IT Nation: 30 Managed Services Meeting Recaps for MSPs

Business meeting
The IT Nation 2017 conference, hosted by ConnectWise, wrapped up on November 10. But our coverage of the gathering -- which attracted 3,500 attendees -- continues. Here's a recap of our formal meetings, impromptu conversations, chatter from the conference floor, and backroom conversations. We've organized the recap alphabetically by company name...
Mike LaPeters
1. AlienVault: VP Global Channel Sales Mike LaPeters Chatter: ConnectWise integration, managed security services AlienVault already has a healthy next-generation security business in the enterprise. But to reach MSPs in the SMB sector, the company integrated with ConnectWise. The big benefit: ConnectWise’s software essentially manages the federation of AlienVault services across multiple SMB customer settings. MSPs, in turn, can more easily deploy and manage the AlienVault offering.
Justin Gilbert
2. AppRiver: Channel Sales Director Justin Gilbert Chatter: New Ownership, ConnectWise Integration AppRiver is one of the world’s largest Office 365 partners – helping MSPs to wrap additional IT services around Microsoft’s SaaS suite. A new AppRiver-ConnectWise integration surfaced at the show. And new private equity ownership should fuel additional AppRiver growth.
Will Briggs
3. Arctic Wolf Networks: Will Briggs, Channel Sales Chatter: ConnectWise integration, managed security services We ran into multiple Arctic Wolf team members at the conference. The company offers a Security Operations Center (SOC) as a service to MSPs. A ConnectWise integration surfaced at the event, and new SaaS-oriented offerings also debuted during the week.

neal-bradbury-3 Author: Neal Bradbury
4. Barracuda MSP: Senior Director of Channel Development Neal Bradbury Chatter: ConnectWise integration, data protection, tuck-in acquisition MSPs know Barracuda best for the Intronis acquisition in 2015. Fast forward to present day and Intronis has been rebranded as Barracuda MSP. But that’s only part pf the story. The overall Barracuda MSP portfolio is now a category of solutions rather than a specific backup point product, notes Bradbury. Organic R&D along with tuck-in acquisitions also continue. A new integration with ConnectWise Automate surfaced, and an acquisition (involving Sonian) further bolsters Barracuda’s data protection story for Office 365. Sonian is an email archiving solution that’s popular with OEMs.
Nirav Sheth
5. Cisco Systems: VP Nirav Sheth Chatter: Cisco Integration, SMB Commitment Sheth, during a media Q&A with ConnectWise CEO Arnie Bellini, vowed to ensure Cisco demonstrates a strong commitment to MSPs in the SMB sector. We’ll share some video footage of the interview in the days ahead. Cisco and ConnectWise, by the way, announced their formalized partnership earlier this month at Cisco Partner Summit.
6. ConnectWise: CEO Arnie Bellini (Keynote) Chatter: Keynote Presentation Bellini’s keynote focused on successful team building within technology solutions providers (TSPs). Plus, some updates on the overall ConnectWise business strategy. Here’s a complete recap.
ConnectWise CEO Arnie Bellini ConnectWise Arnie Bellini
7. ConnectWise: CEO Arnie Bellini (Meeting) Chatter: Expanding the IT Nation Ecosystem Late Friday afternoon, I ran into Bellini one last time during the conference. We discussed ConnectWise’s efforts to expand the IT Nation ecosystem. The effort spans several components including:
  • ConnectWise Unite, a new, single management dashboard for on-premises and cloud services. Multiple Cisco applications and Amazon AWS services are plugging in now. The ConnectWise CloudConsole integrations (Office 365, Azure) will be rebranded into Unite around Q1 2018.
  • Unite Software Development Kit, which just started beta testing. The kit will allow additional partners to plug into the dashboard. The kit goes “beyond anything Salesforce has done” because partners can embed pieces of the ConnectWise suite in their applications, Bellini asserts.
  • ConnectWise Invent, a $10 million incubator fund for ISVs and others that want to integrate with the dashboard. The company plans to share more details about the fund in the weeks and months ahead. It could grow to a potential $25 million, Bellini says.
  • ConnectWise Marketplace, an online store where integrated Unite offerings will surface.
Peter Bellini: The ecosystem effort also includes another Bellini name. Indeed, Peter Bellini – Arnie’s son – has been driving the Connectwise Unite software development team and will also oversee the SDK effort. Much of the initiative has involved Peter Bellini moving to India. PS: Bellini also hinted that one or more M&A deals could surface soon…

Craig Fulton
8. ConnectWise: Chief Product Officer Craig Fulton Chatter: ConnectWise Software Development ConnectWise has made multiple acquisitions and investments since 2010. Those assets were reorganized into a single corporate umbrella by late 2015. Fast forward to present day, and the company has standardized on an Agile software development model that means bugs are typically fixed within 90 day windows, and R&D is closely coordinated across ConnectWise Sell (formerly Quosal), Manage (PSA), Automate (RMM) and Control. The big focus areas for 2018 include ConnectWise Unite, which essentially rebrands ConnectWise CloudConsole to manage on-premises and cloud assets like various Cisco services, Microsoft Office 365, Azure, Amazon Web Services and more. Also, a ConnectWise Unite software development kit will allow third-party technology companies to plug their services into the dashboard. The result should be a stronger ecosystem of services for MSPs and technology solutions providers, Fulton asserts.
David Bellini
9. ConnectWise: President David Bellini Chatter: International business In some ways, ConnectWise was late to the international market. Multiple rivals broke ground in Europe and Australia before ConnectWise really planted its business flag across the globe. David Bellini shifted to an international role and moved to London back around 2015. The results have been impressive. That London office has grown from four to 44 employees. ConnectWise now has 1,600 partners outside of the U.S. market, with growing momentum in such areas as the Benelux and the Nordics, and Australia. Next Up: IT Nation Europe, which is set for April 18-20 in London.
Christine Gassman
Rob Rae Datto's Rob Rae
10. Datto: VP Rob Rae and Director of Business Development Christine Gassman Chatter: Data protection, and the Datto-Autotask merger The high-profile Datto-Autotask merger is expected to be finalized later this quarter. But during this meeting with Rae and Gassman, we didn’t discuss the M&A deal. Instead, we covered yada, yada, yada. Hmmm… Maybe I’ll share details at a future date. Continue to page two for meeting recaps 11 through 20 Welcome to page two for meeting recaps 11 through 20
CRO Adam Slutskin
Matt Nachtrab
11. eFolder: CEO Matt Nachtrab & Chief Revenue Officer Andrew Slutskin Chatter: The Axcient-eFolder Merger Nachtrab and Slutkin, two ConnectWise veterans, are busy managing the recent M&A deal between Axcient and eFolder. The duo feels very good about its product lineup vs. the overall business continuity market. But the story doesn't end there. We'll share more thoughts from the meeting when the time is right...
Ken Shaw
12. Infrascale: CEO Ken Shaw Chatter: Disaster Recovery as a Service, ConnectWise Integration, Arnie's Endorsement  ConnectWise integrates with roughly seven business continuity services, and the company resells six of them. But during ConnectWise CEO Arnie Bellini’s keynote, he put the biggest spotlight on Infrascale – essentially positioning the DRaaS provider as a key alternative to Datto – without mentioning Datto by name. Shaw, meanwhile, educated MSPs during a Managed Security Services panel – connecting the dots between managed security and business continuity. He claims it takes 15 minutes or so to activate virtualized customer services in the Infrascale cloud if/when on-premises systems fail.
Amy Luby
Justin Kallhoff
13. Infogressive: CEO Justin Kallhoff & VP of Channel Sales Amy Luby Chatter: Managed security services During another both drive by, we ran into Kallhoff and Luby. Infogressive has been building out a Master MSSP strategy – essentially overseeing cybersecurity services for smaller MSPs. It sounds like Luby is piecing together a more formalized partner strategy...

Ingram Micro's Tim FitzGerald
14. Ingram Micro: Tim FitzGerald, VP Cloud Channel Sales, North America Chatter: Ingram cloud momentum FitzGerald joined Ingram Micro earlier this year after a lengthy, successful journey at Avnet Technology Solutions. (Tech Data acquired ATS earlier this year.) On the cloud front, the Ingram partner conversation has extended beyond landing Office 365 seats. Next up, the big partner opportunity involves IaaS workloads on Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure. At the same time, Ingram controls its cloud fate because the company owns underlying software -- upon which the distributor and third-party service providers deploy various cloud services. Ingram employs more cloud-focused developers than the rest of the channel, he estimates, and that means meaningful solutions for partners and ISVs will continue to roll out at a healthy pace.
IT Glue CEO Chris Day
15. IT Glue: CEO Chris Day Chatter: MSP Runbooks IT Glue had a big presence on the show floor, but our conversation with Day occurred over email. Among the major moves to track: New Runbooks that allow MSPs to export IT Glue Data into a PDF. MSPs can use Runbooks to create asset documentation for disaster recovery, compliance, reporting, and project/offboarding purposes, among other use cases.
Karl Bickmore
Eric Rockwell
Ken Shaw
Lynn Souza
16. Managed Security Services Panel Chatter: Build and/or partner your way to success Centrex IT CEO Eric Rockwell explained his pure-play MSSP strategy. SnapTechIT CEO Karl Bickmore explained the balance between traditional and managed security services. Connect Computer CEO Lynn Souza described her journey with sister company Kyber Security – a pure-play MSSP – and what it means for the traditional Connect Computer business. And Infrascale CEO Ken Shaw connected the dots between security, ransomware mitigation and disaster recovery as a service. Watch for some additional coverage about this panel on both MSSP Alert and ChannelE2E in the days ahead.
Ryan Walsh
John Street
17. Pax8: CEO John Street & Chief Channel Officer Ryan Walsh Chatter: Cloud-centric value-added distribution, ConnectWise integration In some ways, Pax8 looks like an overnight sensation. But in reality, it was more than five years in the making. The company build a cloud-centric distribution platform before most investors and customers were ready for such a concept. Once the cloud market reached its tipping point in the channel, Pax8 was waiting with open arms. The company has grown to about 120 employees – up from about 30 a year ago. The big push now involves hiring on the sales front. By about 2019 or so, the company should have roughly 400 employees. And for 2018, partners should expect a so-called Stax push. With Stax, partners can leverage the Pax8 marketplace to piece together technology suites from multiple categories – including security, productivity, continuity and infrastructure services…

18: Storage Guardian: President Omry Farajun Chatter: Fast Failover Storage Guardian's new Fast Failover service enables companies of all sizes to replicate their applications and data to a secure data center on an ongoing basis, and then quickly “fail over” their entire network to the data center if disaster strikes. Fast Failover is also accessible by phone. Businesses can call a special hotline to initiate a recovery, using text or voice commands and a secret PIN. The platform supports Veeam, StorageCraft and Asigra installs, among others.
Usman Choudhary
19. VIPRE Security: Chief Product Officer Usman Choudhary Chatter: A Conversation Your Kids Need to Hear We were supposed to discuss VIPRE’s new cloud-centric security platform. And we did (I’ll share more details soon). But most of this conversation focused on Choudhary’ rather incredible family journey from Pakistan to the United States, and his personal focus on charity and non-profit work. How did the conversation jump from tech to personal talk? I'll share the details sometime later this month...
20. Warranty Master: Details from IT Glue CEO Chris Day Chatter: The company’s software performs continuous warranty lookups (and updates) of your ConnectWise or Autotask device assets. Warranty Master's investors include IT Glue CEO Chris Day. Warranty Master now has over 4,000 MSP partners. Keep an eye on Instant Renewals, which allows partners to automatically purchase/apply extended warranties on all supported server hardware including Dell, HP, IBM, Lenovo & Oracle (Sun). MSPs make 50 percent+ margin on these renewals, Day asserts. Continue to page three for meeting recaps 21 through 30 Welcome to page two for meeting recaps 21 through 30
Charlie Tomeo
Webroot's Mike Potts
21. Webroot: CEO Mike Potts & VP Charlie Tomeo Chatter: New CEO, ConnectWise Partner of the Year Numerous security companies have tried – and failed – to engage MSPs in the SMB sector. In stark contrast, Webroot has major MSP momentum – growing 30 to 35 percent annually in the MSP sector. The ConnectWise relationship also is thriving – as affirmed by Webroot’s “Partner of the Year” status. Webroot’s MSP-oriented success involves a “high tech, high touch” strategy led by Tomeo. Much of that momentum involved endpoint security under former CEO Dick Williams, who retired earlier this year. Will Webroot change its MSP strategy under New CEO Mike Potts? We gathered the answers during this interview with Potts and Tomeo at IT Nation.
Arlin Sorensen Arlin Sorensen
Gary Pica Gary Pica
Paul Dippell Paul Dippell
22. Ask Them Anything Panel Chatter: ConnectWise CEO Arnie Bellini, Service Leadership CEO Paul Dippell, TruMethods CEO Gary Pica and HTG Peer Groups CEO Arlin Sorensen answer attendee questions. Call it a “showstopper moment” for a couple hundred attendees or so, who stopped by to ask their most pressing questions about business growth, sales strategies, valuations and M&A considerations. My job: Moderate the panel. What does that mean? Introduce the four experts, then step out of the way to let the expertise flow. I’ll post a summary of the conversation in the next couple days.

23-31. Random Conversations Chatter: Additional Experts in the Hall…
  • CharTec CEO Alex Rogers continues to lead the company, but has anyone else noticed how COO Gerwai Todd has influenced the company's execution in recent months?
  • Ingram Micro Cloud Global Executive Director Jason Bystrak surfaced in the hotel diner multiple times. Big meals? Not really. It looked more like strategic conversations with a range of folks…
  • Itopia Chief Revenue Officer Ted Hulsy sounded upbeat during a brief conversation near the coffee shop. Itopia has emeged as a strategic Google Cloud Platform partner, promoting WaaS services to MSPs.
  • Onepath vCIO MJ Shoer seems to be enjoying life – and business – after experiencing two M&A deals within the past two years or so.
  • Proactive Technologies COO Dave Cava was all smiles Friday night while navigating the post-conference activities with his family.
  • Sophos MSP VP Scott Barlow sounded as optimistic as ever about the company’s managed security partner strategy;
  • Technology Pointe CIO Dustin Bolander sounds like he has a hand in building one of Texas’s most successful MSPs.
  • Vault America CEO Zak Karsan sounds like he’s working on a key partnership… but mum’s the word for now.
  • Xcellerate Customer Experience Officer Jeannine Edwards continues to promote the firm’s acceleration services for MSPs.
That's all I've got from my conference notes. What do your conference notes say? Feel free to email me your thoughts -- [email protected].
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.