Stop me if you have heard this one before: After building a successful IT business that serves end customers, a team of entrepreneurs goes on to build tools to help fellow practitioners — MSP owners, in particular.
Sounds familiar, right?
The idea behind the platform came to Liongard’s founders, Joe Alapat and Vincent Tran, when they were running their own MSP business, Channel Dynamix (CDX). After 12 years, they sold CDX to Employer Flexible, a Houston-based provider of human-resources technology and services, in 2012. The duo stuck around for a while and helped run the renamed division, but moved on to solve the biggest challenge they faced as MSP operators.
Alapat and Tran recognized that MSPs were struggling to keep up with the growing number of IT assets they were asked to protect. Much of the growth, they recognized, was driven by line-of-business managers who began subscribing to cloud-based services outside the auspices of traditional IT departmental oversight. Instead of hiring more bodies, the duo concluded, MSPs would be better off adding more automation. But how, given the limits of existing tools?
In 2015, Alapat and Tran launched Liongard with the intent of building a management platform purpose-built for MSPs. It would provide MSPs a unified view of cloud, network and on-premise technologies. That platform became “Roar” which, according to the company’s founders, “automates the discovery, documentation, change detection, and assessment of best-practice configuration.”
“Roar is designed to provide deep discovery into and across systems under management, detect critical changes over time and assess misconfiguration,” says Liongard co-founder Tran, pictured below. “Roar aggregates cloud data such as configuration settings and privileges, and builds what we call a standard ‘dataprint.’ We bring everything back into a unified view to allow an MSP to rapidly follow a user across all systems.”
By capturing the chronological timeline of a user’s activity, Roar essentially creates a “Tivo” of user data that MSPs can scroll back to when needed. They can see what configurations were in place before a problem, and chronicle which changes were made in the aftermath. Instead of forcing MSPs to remotely log into a server to find out what group policies were for Active Directory, for example, Roar brings this information into a single dashboard.
Rather than compete against existing IT service management (ITSM) platforms, Roar integrates with ConnectWise, and is working on integrations to Autotask, Solarwinds and others, providing insights to help MSPs. Theoretically, ITSM companies could develop Roar-like capabilities on their own, so Liongard’s strategy is to be a nimble and agile ecosystem partner of the ITSM companies, says Liongard CEO Alapat.
“Our aim is to go ultra-wide. None of the PSAs are focused on integrating data from Microsoft Office 365 to Azure to Google Business to Active Directory SQL Server to Dynamics to Salesforce, etc. We look at those systems because that is IT today,” Alapat says.
When asked if Liongard would entertain an offer from one of ITSM companies, Alapat answers, “Without a doubt.”
For now, the company continues to recruit MSPs, promulgate its message and more. Its goal is to engage the top 20 MSPs in every major metropolitan market. This includes those with a growing security practice and an annual turnover of between $3 million and $100 million.
“We do not see any other vendor seeking to go as wide as we are with regards to providing value to the MSP. We want to help them provide managed services that are not limited to IT infrastructure circa 2000. Every monitoring management system right now that we know either treats the endpoint as the first-class citizen, or the network device as the first-class citizen,” says Alapat. “We are looking at it from a system and API perspective.”
To Liongard, AWS, Azure, SQL Server, firewalls and more are the same in terms of priority. That’s what helps the upstart stand out, dare I say, in a crowded jungle of tech competitors.