Channel partner programs, IT management, MSP, VAR

SolarWinds N-able’s Next Moves (Hint: More Than MSPs)

JP Jauvin
JP Jauvin

Within SolarWinds N-able, General Manager JP Jauvin sees an opportunity to serve more than growing MSPs. Indeed, Jauvin is focusing the software and cloud company around three core products that power VARs and MSPs of all sizes -- serving customers of all sizes, he asserted.

During an interview with ChannelE2E, Jauvin pointed to SolarWinds' three core products and their continued evolution to serve multiple markets. The lineup includes:

  • N-central, the company's flagship remote monitoring and management (RMM) platform.
  • MSP Manager, a service management software platform that offers a simplified alternative to PSA (professional services automation).
  • MSP Anywhere, the remote support alternative to options like LogMeIn and ScreenConnect.

On the one hand, MSPs can activate the three offerings to gain an end-to-end IT service management platform, he says. But on the other, both VARs and MSPs can select the solutions a la carte -- perhaps offering reactive break-fix services over a remote connection, for instance.

SolarWinds N-able's View of the IT Channel

During N-able's early years, the company offered a range of "freemium" products to get VARs and resellers up to speed on the solution. But the current three product lineup -- led by the new N-central 10.1 upgrade -- represents a bolder, broader statement from the company.

"Going forward the strategy is really quite simple," says Jauvin. "It's to provide any service provider of any size or background -- large, medium or small -- the ability to benefit from any of those three products. Either separately or together, on a best of breed integrated basis."

The added dimension of the strategy? "We'll help you regardless of the types of services you deliver," he adds. "You may offer reactive break-fix services via a help desk. Or you could be a full-blown MSP. Or you might be something in between. We can help you regardless of your model."

MSP Growth Meets Consolidation

Even as the overall MSP market continues to grow, Jauvin sees consolidation on the vendor front and the IT channel partner front. As M&A activity accelerates, "N-able can meet all the needs as they grow and potentially branch off into different service types."

That's part of a growing theme across the MSP software industry. Listen closely to companies like ConnectWise, DattoeFolder and StorageCraft, and you'll hear clues about how they'll double down on MSPs even as they explore new ways to embrace VARs and other types of IT solutions providers.

In the traditional MSP software market, where RMM and PSA providers are the norm, SolarWinds N-able insists it has built a better mouse trap. "Frankly, MSPs are tired of paying for bloated PSAs that have unused features," asserts Jauvin. "We've got a 100-percent solution" without all the bloat, he asserts -- without calling out PSA rivals by name...

Growing Under SolarWinds' Evolving Ownership

SolarWinds acquired N-able in May 2013, and the N-able business has been generating double-digit growth (or more) across a range of KPIs that Jauvin mentioned to me. (All of the growth figures have been publicly shared as part of SolarWinds earnings or other public statements.)

Still, SolarWinds itself finds itself at an inflection point. Silver Lake Partners and Thoma Bravo, two private equity firms, announced plans to buy SolarWinds for $4.5 billion in October 2015. The buyout announcement emerged after nearly 70 days of quiet negotiations between SolarWinds and multiple suitors. Fast forward to the present, and the deal has moved to the financing stage.

Anecdotal evidence -- coupled with N-able's performance -- suggests that SolarWinds' new owners remain firmly committed to the MSP software market. But the stakes will be very high going forward. Indeed, SolarWinds hopes to be a $970 million company by 2020, up from about $507 million in 2015.

That lofty revenue target explains why SolarWinds N-able is expanding beyond its traditional MSP heritage to serve a broader range of channel partners.

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.