Edward Gately, Senior News Editor

March 27, 2024

12 Min Read
Cloud Commander introduced at N-able Empower Day 3 2024

N-ABLE EMPOWER — N-able on Wednesday introduced Cloud Commander, a multitenant solution with Microsoft for the cloud.

Cloud Commander enables MSPs to manage, secure, standardize and automate Microsoft 365 users, Azure resources and Intune devices from a single console. And N-able announced plans to add Windows 365 management capabilities.

The Microsoft cloud continues to grow at a fast pace and remains a critical element for businesses worldwide, according to N-able. Cloud Commander aims to streamline Microsoft cloud management for MSPs, giving them the ability to:

  • Be more efficient across multiple Microsoft 365, Intune and Azure resources from a single pane, allowing MSPs to stop managing multiple logins and portals, allowing them to quickly act on clients’ requests. Cloud Commander also gives MSPs the ability to set least privileged access for their team, allowing them to help keep their staff and clients secure.

  • Streamline service desk operations by optimizing onboarding/offboarding of users and tasks such as password changes, multifactor authentication (MFA) resets, group/role management and license changes. Configuring Microsoft Exchange Online, Microsoft Teams, OneDrive for Business and SharePoint Online settings for users can be done quickly and easily. Control all devices with faster actions such as reboot, remote lock, wipe and reassign.

  • Monitor Microsoft Secure Score reporting across all clients or drill down on each tenant for security scores to create a plan of action to reduce risk profiles and monitor risky users across tenants and remediate issues. Standardize how Intune compliance policies are deployed, helping check security settings like enforcing BitLocker encryption, secure boot and Defender remain in compliance, with alerts if they drift out. Additionally, subscription management allows MSPs to manage their clients’ budgets effectively and efficiently.

MSPs can increase their Microsoft cloud efficiency, streamlining operations for their SME customers, while unlocking potential growth opportunities including increased revenue, N-able said.

Leaning In with Microsoft with Cloud Commander

N-able president and CEO John Pagliuca said his company continues to “lean in” with its Microsoft partnership as more and more workloads move to the cloud. Microsoft does “a lot of great things” for the MSP, but its products are not multitenanted.

“That means an MSP, if they have 200 customers, needs to log in to two different consoles, different passwords, different accounts, different provisioning and different policies loaded with inefficiency,” he said. “We've spent a lot of time in the lab building our Cloud Commander offering. To address that need for how MSPs are transforming into the cloud, Cloud Commander will allow MSPs to gain efficiency as they're monitoring, managing and securing digital assets. We're starting with Microsoft; we're not ending with Microsoft. We will be a multicloud strategy, but we're beginning with Microsoft.”

“Our collaboration with N-able will accelerate our collective ability to deliver the benefits of the Microsoft Cloud to SMBs,” said Deb Dubrow, group product manager of the Windows Cloud Experience Team. “N-able’s support for Windows 365 will allow MSPs to provide their customers with access to a familiar, secure and persistent Windows experience managed with other Microsoft services via the Cloud Commander console.”

Partner Success Program

During his Empower keynote, Frank Colletti, N-able’s chief revenue officer, led an overview of N-able’s Partner Success Program.

N-able's Frank Colletti

“In each geography, whether you're here [at Empower] from the United Kingdom or whether you're here from Brazil, or whether you're here from Australia, South Africa or the United States or Canada, there are different trends that are affecting your businesses based on legislation, based on different changes that are happening,” he said. “Those trends are important, and that's why you really need a partner. You need a partner so you can go on that journey so that you can actually figure out each of the various steps that you're going to go on and solve your problems. If you can partner and you can build that together, you can really eliminate some of the struggles along the way.”

N-able has numerous resources for MSPs that “I don't know if everyone understands are available to you,” Colletti said.

“We spend an unbelievable amount of money and time trying to develop these resources, and I understand why you're busy every day,” he said. “You just spent three, four days with us here. You're going to go back home and the inbox is going to be full. Thereare going to be customer challenges that you've got to deal with. 'How do I have the time to engage with these people when there is that?' All I want you to remember is how we do it. I want you to understand how we're going to do that, because we've got some absolutely amazing resources.”

‘Amazing Time’ to Be an MSP

Davide Di Labio, N-able’s vice president of sales, said it’s an “amazing” time to be an MSP.

“But there's a whole bunch of stuff that's going on out there: new vendors playing in the category, new offerings, different types of consolidation and different types of offerings,” he said. “So my team is focused on solving some of those challenges for us internally, but more appropriately for you as well. So I put together a team of subject-matter experts that are going to be focused on five key initiatives.”

N-able'd Davide Di Labio

Those five initiatives are: groups, M&A, managed detection and response (MDR), Cloud Commander and Cove.

“I define groups as MSPs that make individual buying decisions or operating decisions, but are linked somehow,” Di Labio said. “They're linked through either an association, a strong membership, or linked through ownership. Ownership examples are things like franchises, CMIT, TeamLogic and MicroAge. What's unique about their model is the franchisor will guide decision-making on things like PSA or remote monitoring and management (RMM), but that individual MSP is left to make decisions around security, backup or other solutions.

"Market M&A has changed this world as well," Di Labio continued. "We have companies like Evergreen or New Charter. Their model is to buy operating companies but keep them standalone, keep them functioning independently — but they're not. They're part of a new group. So we've put together an initiative here that's focused on ensuring that, at the very least, MSPs that are part of these groups are getting a common experience from us. But more importantly, we're working with these group leaders to ensure that there's value, offerings and strategies that all members of the group can maintain.”

When it comes to M&A, telcos are buying MSPs, he said.

“We see margin-based organizations that are buying into the category,” he said. “We see an incredible amount of funding. There are different options for you as an MSP. If you're contemplating that, there are bankers, there's private equity. We know that there is a lot of activity there. So we put together a team of people that are focused on all the activity that's happening in the MSP category to help us navigate that, but more importantly, to help you. Their job is to really connect you to either buyers or sellers. Their job is to give best practices around concepts around standardization, lifts and shifts, purchasing, packaging, etc., managing organizations that are trying to slap together 33 MSPs into one. That's what this team is designed to do. Many on the team are people that have been acquired. Many of them have run large MSPs.”

The MDR group is focused on N-able’s new MDR solution, Di Labio said.

“You now have the ability to look and feel like an MSSP without all the necessary costs of setting up your own security operations center (SOC), or having these high-end, expensive resources,” he said. “For those that maybe have already done this, this could be an augmentation strategy. So we have a team of people to help navigate all of this activity and potentially walk you through some of these things. I call it an MSSP in a box.”

The other groups are focused on navigating cloud assets, and backup and disaster recovery.

“MSPs are still working with multiple vendors,” Di Labio said. “There are challenges around lifts and shifts. There are challenges around market activity with vendors. They're changing things on us. We have a team of subject-matter experts that come from the backup industry to help navigate this for us, as well as you. They are not going to carriers. Think of them as consultants. Their job is to help you deal with things like incident response, disaster recovery and navigate this ever-changing backup landscape.”

When MSPs Return Home

Pagliuca said he hopes MSPs leave Empower with the message that “transformation is either something that you can bring to your business, or have it on your heels and you can react to it.”

“We wanted to give MSPs a couple of tools and a couple of different dimensions or filters that they can bring back to their businesses and say, 'Hey, how do we transform?” he said. “The opportunity is there. It's either we're going to realize the opportunity, or someone to the left or the right of us is going to realize the opportunity. What MSPs need to do is take time out of their day, which they've done this week, to work on their business, identify areas of transformation so they can now bring that back into their four walls to make sure that they're staying ahead of the rate of change.”

Sometimes people think only one dimensionally when they think transformation, Pagliuca said.

“It's a complete 360-degree view,” he said. “We have folks from Australia, Europe, all over South America, all over the United States and Canada, and my hope is that they bring back a bit of transformational advice that they can go improve their business, because a healthier channel, a healthier MSP, it's great for the community and it’s great for N-able.”

Stefan Voss, N-able’s vice president of product management for Cove, said he hopes MSPs leave Empower interested in Cove and N-able MDR.

“Hopefully people walk away with a more refined strategy and a specific next initiative that they might still pick off this year, that they can execute on,” he said.

Chris Groot, general manager of N-able’s Cove business unit, said he hopes MSPs head home with “new ideas in terms of how to better productize and standardize their offerings to their customers.”

“That will allow them to become more efficient and create happier customers because of clear expectations and a clear system of delivering on that with the right tools, people and process,” he said.

MSPs Speak

Simon Jennings, internal systems lead at Comwire IT, an Australia-based MSP, said his company uses Cove and N-sight with a range of customers. He also said his company is growing, as are other MSPs in Australia.

“I think that ... has a lot to do with artificial intelligence (AI) coming through and all the new technologies that have come through,” he said. “Our customers are pushing MSPs a lot harder as well, so there's been a lot of growth in our business personally, and transformation around how we deliver our services to the customers.”

Comwire IT also is focusing more on delivering what its customers need instead of “having just a blanket, overall tech team,” Jennings said.

“That's been part of our transformation and just focusing on our people as well,” he said. “It's been a big thing, just getting the right people in for a good culture, which is something that they've been really focusing on, transformation on both ends, internally and externally. It's been massive over the past couple of years since I've come on board with Comwire IT. There were ... 40 staff when I started and now there's just over 80. So in two years that's quite a lot of growth, and it seems like N-able is trying to work with everyone on that growth, investing quite heavily into their product management and pushing that pretty hard.”

Sean Mihalovits, enterprise architect at Dyopath, an MSP based in Chicago and Houston, said having discussions with other MSPs at Empower has been helpful. He also said he's learned about additional products his company isn’t using yet.

“We are doing an M&A a year, so we're trying to acquire additional companies to grow our customer base and the company itself,” he said. “This has been super helpful to see how we can transition teams to support that M&A.”

Jeremy Barton, president of Nye Technology Solutions, a Nebraska-based MSP, said networking with other MSPs was probably the best part of Empower.

“As an MSP, if you're not [growing and transforming], you're falling behind everybody else,” he said. “So their theme fits everybody. I haven’t touched much on the Cloud Commander, but I think it's a great idea. The MDR I think will be a huge splash for them and something that's needed.”

About the Author(s)

Edward Gately

Senior News Editor, Channel Futures

As news editor, Edward Gately covers cybersecurity, new channel programs and program changes, M&A and other IT channel trends. Prior to Informa, he spent 26 years as a newspaper journalist in Texas, Louisiana and Arizona.

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