When Continuum Navigate 2017 kicks off Oct. 2 in Las Vegas, the central story line will involve Security Operations Center (SOC) services for MSPs. But take a closer look, and you'll also notice the company's expansive work with various PSA (professional services automation) software companies.
Of the five major MSP-centric platform providers in the SMB sector, Continuum is the only one that doesn't outright own a PSA system. Both Autotask and ConnectWise have home-grown offerings, while Kaseya and SolarWinds MSP acquired their way into the PSA market. (Admittedly, the SolarWinds MSP option is more of a starter ticketing system.)
I suspect Continuum has contemplated a PSA buyout from time to time. But the company has been busy in recent years expanding its own RMM (remote monitoring and management), BDR (backup and disaster recovery), NOC (network operations center) and help desk services. More recently, CEO Michael George and team have been heads-down building a SOC to help address cybersecurity challenges -- and opportunities -- for MSPs. More details about the SOC are widely expected to surface at Navigate.
PSA for MSPs: Partner... Or Buy?
So where does that leave Continuum's PSA efforts? To the company's credit, rivals like Autotask and ConnectWise are scheduled to attend Continuum Navigate and continue to integrate with Continuum's platforms. But they're not the only PSA offerings in the crowd. Two other names to know include Computicate and Promys.
Computicate, a Dutch company, launched a SaaS-based PSA platform in the United States in 2016. I don't know how the company has performed since that time, but we'll be checking in with Computicate CEO Martijn van der Schaaf at Navigate.
Meanwhile, Promys has gained momentum after rewriting its PSA platform and rolling out cloud-centric features in 2015 and 2016, notes Jim Barnet, director of sales and marketing at the company. I suspect an integration with Continuum could surface at the conference or sometime shortly thereafter. We'll be sharing more thoughts from Promys later this week.
PS: Continuum and Tigerpaw Software have also partnered on PSA integration since around 2015. I don't know if Tigerpaw plans to attend Navigate; we're checking.
Continuum: New Owners, More M&A?
As you may recall, Thoma Bravo acquired Continuum in June 2017. Some employees exited Continuum amid the ownership transition, but don't misread those departures as cost-cutting moves.
Indeed, Thoma Bravo has positioned the MSP-centric company in a growth-oriented fund. That means Continuum could be in position for some buy-side M&A deals. Both Computicate and Promys are intriguing because they're pure-play PSA platforms without any additional baggage to swallow.
Still, I must confess: I haven't heard any firm rumors or chatter about Continuum jumping into the PSA sector. And here again, I keep coming back to this reality: Security is the big play for MSPs, while PSA is more of a mature market with entrenched rivals. Building out a SOC (security operations center) is a massive, global undertaking. None of Continuum's head-on rivals have built out dedicated SOC services for MSPs, so this could be a true differentiator in the traditional SMB market.
With all those variables in mind, Continuum wants to make sure this SOC launch proceeds as planned. I suspect the PSA strategy, therefore, remains a Switzerland approach: Play with all the key players, and integrate with some of the newer names like Computicate and Promys as well.
I'll double check my thesis at the show.