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ConnectWise IT Nation Explore 2019: Complete MSP Conference News

ConnectWise IT Nation Explore 2019 kicked off June 13 in Orlando, Florida. This is a "technical" event for MSPs (managed IT service providers) that run ConnectWise's business management, automation and cybersecurity software.

RECAP: ConnectWise CEO Jason Magee's keynote - details here.

IT Nation Explore 2019 arrives at a key time for the software provider and MSP community builder. Thoma Bravo acquired ConnectWise in February 2019 -- the latest evidence that private equity is eating the MSP and MSSP software markets. As part of the buyout, ConnectWise veteran Jason Magee succeeded co-founder Arnie Bellini as CEO.

Jason Magee, CEO, ConnectWise
LinkedIn: Jason Magee, CEO ConnectWise

Fast forward to present day and the IT Nation Explore 2019 conference. What should attendees and the broader MSP ecosystem expect? Here's live coverage from the conference...

1. New CEO, Familiar Face, Strategic Plan: Magee has been CEO for about four months now, but in many ways he's not 'new' to the job. Nor is he new to the IT Nation partner ecosystem. Magee was running ConnectWise's day-to-day operations ahead of the Thoma Bravo deal. He also managed key deals -- such as the Sienna Group acquisition for managed security services. Thoma Bravo signed off on ConnectWise's 2019 and long-term strategic plan before buying the company, so partners should generally expect the same IT Nation-type DNA at the company.

LinkedIn: ConnectWise’s Craig Fulton
Jeff Bishop

2. ConnectWise Technology Roadmap: That will surface Friday morning, June 14. ChannelE2E is scheduled to meet with Chief Product Officer Jeff Bishop and Chief Customer Officer Craig Fulton that day. I'm particularly curious to see if or how Bishop and will address cybersecurity during the conversation.

The FBI and the Department of Homeland Security have specifically warned MSPs and their software providers that hackers are specifically targeting the industry with island hopper attacks. Does that reality mean ConnectWise and the broader MSP software industry have to adjust their software R&D, DevOps and other best practices? We'll be asking.

LinkedIn: John Ford, CISO, ConnectWise

3. ConnectWise Cybersecurity Strategy: We'll also grab some time with ConnectWise Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) John Ford, the former owner of Sienna Group. During a call earlier this week, Ford touched on the company's learnings from two recent security issues -- including a brief ransomware attack in Europe that ConnectWise ultimately contained.

Looking forward, MSPs should keep a close eye on ConnectWise Identify, a risk posture assessment tool that partners can leverage within their own businesses and in customer settings. The tool is an ideal way for partners to extend Quarterly Business Review (QBR) conversations with customers from traditional performance metrics to risk metrics, and potential cybersecurity solutions.

Cisco’s Marc Inderhees

4. ConnectWise-Cisco Relationship: The two companies quietly began working together more than two years ago. The first formal, public announcement surfaced around November 2017. Fast forward to present day, and Cisco continues to expand its portfolio of "as a service" integrations with ConnectWise. Marc Inderhees, Cisco's go-to-market managed services lead in the Global Partner Organization, explains the company's overall MSP-SMB strategy here. We'll be listening for potential updates at the conference.

Author: Joe Alapat, CEO, Liongard

5. Funded for Growth?: The exhibitor list includes numerous companies that recently received funding and/or participated in M&A deals. We'll be seeking progress reports on those deals and more.

Examples include:

6. App Store - ConnectWise Marketplace: The company on June 24 will activate a new version of the ConnectWise Marketplace -- essentially an application and services store for MSPs. The upgraded store will feature new transactional capabilities that simplify the purchase and billing process for partners, ConnectWise says. The Marketplace will also support for both license and usage-based purchasing and billing. Current ConnectWise partners will be able to make purchases via the Marketplace and this functionality is expected to be available to non-partners in mid-2019. Initial third-party options include Webroot and Bitdefender.

7. ConnectWise Marketplace vs Pax8?: In some ways, it sounds like ConnectWise Marketplace and cloud distributor Pax8 are on a collision course with each other, ChannelE2E believes... We may explore that a bit more fully in the days ahead...

8. ConnectWise Dashboard: The company also unveiled the ConnectWise Now -- which provides partners a single location from which to manage such business areas as sales, marketing, service and finance.

9. Single Sign-On (SSO): ConnectWise has activated single sign on for its entire product suite, enabling partners to manage user access to all applications from a single location, the company says.

11. Hosted Telecom: SkySwitch, provider of a white label platform for hosted telecom resellers, now integrates with ConnectWise Manage.

10. More ConnectWise IT Nation Explore 2019 News: Got info to share? Attending the conference and want to potentially meet? Let me know. We'll update this blog multiple times daily through Saturday, June 15. Email me: [email protected].

Original story posted June 12, 2019. Updated June 13-14, 2019 with additional news developments.

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.