Content, Channel partners, MSP

Passportal’s Mike Byrne Seeks to Empower a Modern MSP Community

Passportal Director of Community Mike Byrne

Mike Byrne is a familiar name in MSP circles. For more than a decade, he has championed software initiates for startups, emerging businesses and enterprise companies that support MSPs and channel partners. His latest gig leans heavily on that experience -- while pushing into new segments of the managed services market.

Thousands of MSPs likely know Byrne from his days at N-able Technologies, PacketTrap, GFI Software, AVG, Quest, Live Virtual Help Desk and Dell. Don't let the career jumps confuse you. Many of the moves involved M&A deals that are commonplace across the IT sector.

Colin Knox, head of community engagement, SolarWinds MSP

His latest move? Byrne recently joined Passportal as director of community. He arrives at an intriguing time. The company, best-known for password management services, has more than 1,500 MSPs on it platform. More recently, Passportal has pushed into documentation -- competing in some ways with IT Glue.

Byrne reports to Passportal CEO and former MSP owner Colin Knox. In addition to driving the community department, Byrne also serves as Passportal’s industry advocate and master educator, and now works directly with the company's Partner Advisory Council. His overarching goals: Continue to enhance SaaS-based services,  engagement programs, and ongoing support for MSPs.

But what attracted Byrne to Passportal, and how does today's MSP industry differ from the industry he helped to pioneer during a journey that started more than a decade ago? In an email interview with ChannelE2E, Byrne offers these answers and insights.

ChannelE2E: What attracted you to Passportal? 

Byrne: After having spent much of my career in the RMM (remote monitoring and management software) space, I was looking for something different, something potentially disruptive and new, and definitely something on the security side of the business. That’s where I found Passportal. After my first meeting with the team, I knew I had found a home.  There’s an infectious energy to something that’s on the rise and going places, and that’s truly what attracted me to Passportal.

ChannelE2E: You’ve personally spent more than a decade educating MSPs about market opportunities and proper business models. How are today's MSP opportunities & challenges different from the MSPs you assisted a decade ago?

Byrne: With little surprise, the space is still struggling with the same ‘go to market’ challenges they were facing 10 years ago – sales and marketing, business differentiation, hiring/staffing, keeping your clients and your practice safe and compliant, and the list goes on.

However, the cloud is ironically becoming an opportunity for the channel, as well as a great insertion point for their skills-sets, with the SMB. The average SMB business owner today needs an MSP to help them navigate the complexities of the cloud and ensure those cloud-based technologies are the right ones for their business and security needs.

ChannelE2E: As director of community at Passportal, what are some of your first priorities/key focus areas?

Byrne: The 2018 Passportal Community theme is Education. Everything the Passportal community does this year will have a partner educational element to it – from the new educational vblog series we’re developing to our Passportal Newsletter. Passportal’s mission is ‘To help you run a better business by offering your team the right tools to do their jobs, the way that YOU would do it.”  Having better educated partners is a sure-fire way to ensure our success in that regard!

ChannelE2E: Passportal has extended from password management to documentation solutions. For MSPs who don’t quite understand the synergies between the two offerings, how do they complement each other?

Byrne: Passwords have always been a component (or a part) of IT documentation, so for me Passportal’s move into IT documentation was a natural one. There is already an implied convergence of password and documentation management in the space, which only reinforces Passportal’s move in that direction. Further, after multiple conversations with MSPs, Passportal’s Document management functionality is already being well-received.

For example, when it comes to the ongoing issue of technicians not documenting changed/updated and or altered network passwords, running a password management solution that delivers automated password rotations as well as two-way synchronization of AD credentials is a must.  Having them then integrated with documentation so a technician isn’t pulling stale information, (access credentials) and left searching for the right password is priceless!

Additionally, this means that the most accurate information is always at a technician’s fingertips. This can prevent service desk efficiency from be lost, and then not found at the forfeit of security (i.e. not routinely rotating privileged credentials on client systems).  Prior to introducing our IT documentation module, the single most requested feature was for credentials to be linked to the assets and the services they manage.

Finally, faster searching and launching of the remote session with the password - with the inclusion of asset management in a documentation platform – has also improved efficiency for partners and delivered a whole new level of desired functionality in a completely auditable framework that informs service delivery leadership in real time so they can quickly report on the activities of their team members.

ChannelE2E: There’s a lot of hype in the market right now from some vendors claiming they can transform MSPs into MSSPs. So, a reality check: Do you think there’s room for MSPs to go deeper into security without necessarily having to bet their entire business on an MSSP buildout?

Byrne: As far as becoming a MSSP, I feel that as an MSP, your business should (had better) be properly aligned to meet the security needs of your customers.  So yes, I feel MSPs should be evaluating and acquiring security tools that help them deliver on more security for their customers.

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.