IT management, Enterprise, Content

SolarWinds Service Desk Enterprise vs ServiceNow, Zendesk: Emerging Showdown

SolarWinds has launched Service Desk Enterprise -- which seeks to challenge ServiceNow and Zendesk as an IT service management (ITSM) software platform for large customers. The big question: Will the software battle eventually spill over into the MSP (managed IT services provider) software market?

SolarWinds Service Desk Now is based on the Samage acquisition of April 2019. The SaaS-based platform initially targeted midsize businesses and smaller accounts -- roughly 500 to 1,000 seat deployments. But CEO Kevin Thompson has repeatedly hinted on SolarWinds earnings calls that the software company was building a higher-end version of the ITSM platform that scales above 1,500 employees.

SolarWinds Service Desk Enterprise: Key Capabilities

Kevin Thompson, CEO, SolarWinds
Kevin Thompson, CEO, SolarWinds MSP

With that goal in mind, the new Enterprise edition and associated customer support plan includes on-boarding management and a dedicated customer success partner to help ensure successful adoption, SolarWinds says. The software is designed for enterprise service desks to more effectively manage:

  • change impact assessments;
  • incident resolution times;
  • risk analysis and overall IT service efficiency.

Moreover, multi-factor authentication (MFA) is a required setting -- essentially mitigating the software's potential exposure to hackers that target ITSM systems as a springboard into enterprise networks.

Will SolarWinds extend Service Desk Enterprise to MSPs? So far, the answer appears to be no. During a SolarWinds Q1 2020 earnings call, Thompson indicated that the software would remain focused on end-customer accounts rather than IT service providers and MSPs. Still, SolarWinds has spent recent years scouring the market for a potential way to disrupt entrenched PSA (professional services automation) software platforms that MSPs leverage. ChannelE2E continues to believe SolarWinds Service Desk may eventually target that sector.

SolarWinds Service Desk vs ServiceNow: Reality Check

ServiceNow CEO Bill McDermott

SolarWinds has a knack for delivering easy-to-consume software that IT professionals can rapidly "try then buy." It's a safe bet Service Desk Enterprise will carve a niche for itself in the ITSM market. Still, ServiceNow remains an entrenched, fast-growing ITSM platform that many global 2000 businesses are embracing worldwide.

Displacing ServiceNow is a tall order -- especially since global systems integrators are lining up to support the platform. According to SserviceNow CEO Bill McDermott, ServiceNow partners can now remotely deploy and configure the software for enterprise customers in 21 days or less.

ServiceNow's big-bet partner strategy started under former CEO John Donahoe, and it continues under McDermott. Key leaders in the partner effort include David Parsons, a VMware veteran who joined ServiceNow as senior VP, global alliances and channel ecosystem, in October 2018.

ServiceNow remains focused mostly on enterprise accounts. But large MSPs are also embracing the platform as a PSA alternative. Also, partners like Fully Managed -- a Top 100 Vertical Market MSP -- have developed custom ServiceNow extensions to position the software more effectively for small and midsize MSPs.

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.