MSP, Content, Networking

SolarWinds Building Two-Tier MSSP to MSP Cybersecurity Partner Ecosystem

SolarWinds MSP has unveiled a Threat Monitoring Service Program at the company's Empower MSP conference in Phoenix. But what exactly does that mean?

The short answer is an emerging two-tier partner ecosystem between MSSPs and MSPs. If the company executes, it could be a defining moment for MSSPs and MSPs, and the market interactions between them.

Instead of telling all MSPs to become MSSPs, SolarWinds is calling on smaller MSPs to partner with larger MSSPs for such services as threat monitoring and SOC (security operations center) capabilities. Moreover, some -- but not all -- sophisticate MSPs will have the scale to become full-blown MSSPs. SolarWinds Senior VP Denny LeCompte (pictured above) confirmed those points during a keynote this morning

Frankly, that's exactly the right message -- one that we evangelize daily on our sister site, MSSP Alert. Our three key points on MSSP Alert:

  • All MSPs need to move deeper into security.
  • But not all MSPs have the time, budget, expertise, scale or stomach to become true MSSPs.
  • Increasingly, MSPs need to do the basics (patch management, multi-factor authentication, endpoint security, etc.) while reaching out and partnering with MSSPs for more sophisticated services.

After all, it typically costs about $3 million for an MSP to hire the right talent, acquire the right tools and build a SOC, MSSP Alert estimates. The big challenge: Most MSPs are sub-$5 million businesses. Even if those MSPs could find the right talent, the financial math and march toward full-blown MSSP services often doesn't work. Hence the urgent need for MSP-to-MSSP relationships.

MSP and MSSP Partnerships: They're Emerging

John Pagliuca, president, SolarWinds MSP
SolarWinds MSP GM John Pagliuca

Those types of relationships are happening organically and through M&A in the market. For instance, Continuum recently acquired CARVIR, a master MSSP that supports smaller MSPs. And Infogressive -- a Cylance partner -- essentially is a master MSSP for smaller MSPs. Both Continuum and Infogressive are listed on our latest Top 100 MSSP list from MSSP Alert.

Now, SolarWinds MSP wants to accelerate that MSSP-to-MSP partner trend. As a starting point, the company acquired Trusted Metrics in July. Full-blown MSSPs and SOC (security operations center) operators that embrace that platform can ultimately provide services to MSPs, according to multiple executives I bumped into this morning (including SolarWinds MSP GM John Pagliuca, VP Mike Cullen and VP Tim Brown).

MSP Software Vendors: Positioning for Security

The effort could help SolarWinds MSP differentiate from key rivals like Datto, ConnectWise, Continuum and Kaseya. So far...

  • Datto is taking a close look at the security market, CEO Austin McChord told ChannelE2E earlier this week at IT Glue's GlueCon conference. If I had to guess, the company will layer more and more security into its networking equipment, potentially competing against SonicWall in the SMB sector.
  • ConnectWise is preparing a range of security moves at IT Nation 2018 in November. CEO Arnie Bellini recently held an MSSP, MSP and CISO gathering in Orlando in preparation for next moves.
  • Continuum recently acquired CARVIR and has built outsourced SOC services for MSPs. CEO Michael George will provide an update during next week's Navigate 2018 conference in Boston.
  • Kaseya also is looking at the security market for potential moves, CEO Fred Voccola told ChannelE2E at GlueCon. The company already has two important pieces of the puzzle -- RapidFire Tools and AuthAnvil.

Where Does SIEM Fit In?

SolarWinds MSP's new threat management platform also has SIEM built in. But the company won't market the SIEM term, at least not aggressively, because most tools in that market segment are known for complexity and less-than-stellar user experiences. SolarWinds' offering, in contrast, is far more elegant, the company asserted during the Empower MSP conference this morning.

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.