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Continuum, ConnectWise Find Common MSP, IT Services Provider Ground

ConnectWise Founder Arnie Bellini
ConnectWise CEO Arnie Bellini
Continuum CEO Michael George

Even as they compete, Continuum and ConnectWise have agreed to cooperate. The two companies, which often trade blows in the MSP and IT service provider automation market, will cooperate on the conference front, the CEOs from both companies have confirmed to ChannelE2E.

Indeed, Continuum plans to sponsor and attend ConnectWise's IT Nation 2018 conference in November. And ConnectWise will support Continuum's Navigate 2018 conference in September, the executives say.

The cordial handshake deal comes after ConnectWise CEO Arnie Bellini in January offered an olive branch to his executive rivals, vowing to maintain open conferences and software platforms for the sake of MSPs and IT service providers that crave interoperability.

In some ways, it was an about-face. IT Nation had been closed to several rivals -- particularly Autotask, Continuum, Kaseya, QuoteWerks and SolarWinds MSP -- in recent years amid heightened competition and multiple M&A deals across the industry. But ConnectWise rethought the approach amid partner feedback and the recent HTG acquisition. A ConnectWise reorganization, moving several investments under a single corporate umbrella in 2015, also helped to pave the way for a more open market approach for the long haul.

Continuum CEO Michael George's Reaction

Referring to Bellini's outreach, Continuum CEO Michael George told ChannelE2E:

"It’s a very smart move. MSPs need coopetition – cooperation and competition – and not products forced down their throats. No single vendor has a perfecta across the MSP market’s core areas like PSA, RMM, BDR, NOC and security. So people need to cooperate and interoperate. Arnie Bellini and Connectwise have our commitment that we’ll be at IT Nation; and they will be at Continuum Navigate 2018 here in Boston in September.”

Datto Founder Austin McChord

Continuum, George added, expects to maintain a similar approach with other vendors. The company, for instance, has a longstanding relationship with Autotask despite competitive overlap in the RMM sector. George expects that relationship to continue amid the recent Datto-Autotask merger. “As industry leaders we have an obligation to serve the MSP community. Not interoperating technically and cooperating at our level would be at the expense of our partner community and the industry as a whole,” George says.

For his part, Datto CEO Austin McChord earlier this year vowed to ensure DattoCon18 -- the company's flagship conference -- remains open to all competitors.

Open Conferences Still Come With A Price

Still, there's no guarantee that so-called 'open' conferences will attract all MSP software rivals to every table. The devil, as they say, is in the details. And in this case, the details often involve various conference sponsorship costs, which can vary greatly based on audience size, demographics, location and more.

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.