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SolarWinds MSP SVP: Layered Security Approach Needed

SolarWinds MSP has unveiled its new Threat Monitoring Service Program.

Edward Gately

September 19, 2018

8 Min Read
Cybersecurity
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SOLARWINDS MSP EMPOWER MSP — At its fall 2017 conference, SolarWinds MSP stressed the need for MSPs to become managed security service providers (MSSPs), becoming their clients’ trusted advisers while increasing their own profit.

At its latest Empower MSP conference this week in Scottsdale, Arizona, SolarWinds MSP unveiled its new Threat Monitoring Service Program. The new offering builds on SolarWinds Threat Monitor with outsourced security operations center (SOC) services delivered via SolarWinds Threat Monitoring Service Providers (TMSP), which so far include Falanx Group and Secuvant.

John Pagliuca, SolarWinds MSP’s senior vice president, now says not every MSP is cut out to become an MSSP, so a more layered approach is needed in terms of providing cybersecurity to MSPs.

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SolarWinds MSP’s John Pagliuca

SolarWinds gained Threat Monitor through its acquisition this summer of Trusted Metrics, a provider of real-time threat monitoring and management software.

Malware has led to the “democratization” of cybercrime, with attackers no longer targeting large corporations, instead going after the “soft underbelly” of SMB, Pagliuca said.

“That SMB is expecting you to protect their data, their property,” he said. “SolarWinds can do this.”

In a Q&A with Channel Partners, Pagliuca talks about his company’s increasing focus on cybersecurity and the uphill battles facing MSPs.

Channel Partners: What sort of growth has SolarWinds MSP and its partners experienced since last fall’s partner conference?

John Pagliuca: The pace of change is starting to accelerate from a growth point of view, even from our customer acquisitions. The number of customers that we’ve been acquiring is at a healthier clip and much ahead of last year. We’re seeing a lot of demand and we have great visibility into what our customers are doing and what their customers are doing. So we’re seeing device growth, an uptick in different types of adoption — in particular, a lot of security uptick and security adoption. And by all indicators, the channel seems to be pretty healthy.

Here’s our most recent list of new products and services being offered by agents, VARs, MSPs and other channel partners.

Probably the biggest thing and one of the more exciting things that I’m looking forward to is the Threat Monitor. When we talk to the customers and we hear about their pain points and why they might be losing customers, there’s definitely that growth that needs to be happening with some of our MSPs really starting to become more of that trusted adviser. Before it was just focused on “protect,” but with Threat Monitor we can get them to more of a protect-detect, and help them even with the response.

CP: Can you talk more about the significance of Threat Monitor? Does this indicate an increased emphasis on cybersecurity?

JP: I think the nuance and shift in strategy this year is we’re saying, “Hey, yes, (becoming a MSSP) might be true for some, but that might not be true for all. If you want to become a MSSP, you might need to invest in a SOC and security-type professionals, but if that’s not your path, you still need to branch out and offer that business continuity and protection for your end customer, so there [are] alternative paths.”

We’ve come to the realization that the way we solve the need should come in a couple of different flavors depending on where the MSP is, who their customers are and what their needs are. So with the Trusted Metrics acquisition and the Threat Monitor solution, we now provide an offering where those MSPs can become that MSSP, and then the Threat Monitoring Service Program provides a different flavor where they can solve that problem for their end customer with a different level of …

… investment and a different level of interaction,with this MSSP helping provide that bridge.

CP: What’s the overall message being conveyed to partners at this conference?

JP: For me, it’s really around this idea of partnering. The change in technology is actually accelerating; it’s getting faster. But the speed of change is the slowest it will ever be in our lifetime. And it’s pretty much a daunting statement. We’re running as hard as we can and these MSPs are running as hard as they can to keep up with what’s going on, whether it be security or compliance, or even just from the latest technological innovations. So for me my message is really, “Hey, choose a partner that’s investing in you, that helps make your business foolproof.” And that foolproof lens is really two-pronged. So I want them to think about partnering on the technology front, and then also partnering on the business front.

(Our) MSP Institute is probably the world’s largest collection of resources for the MSP that focuses on different tracks: a technical track, a security track, a sales and marketing track, and then an overall business track. We want to take some of those lessons learned and pass [them] on to our partners. Our partners grow and we grow, so we’re completely aligned. We’re doing a bunch of things that focus on the MSP, their business, their experience and also on the technology side.

CP: From the regulation perspective, with GDPR and California’s data protection law, what has that meant to your MSP partners and how do you help them with that?

JP: When the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) popped up on the radar, [we had a] task force that made sure we were ahead and we put a program in place … to make sure that, No. 1, we were compliant, and No. 2, spent a good amount of time educating our ecosystem, our partners and our distributors, to make sure they knew what it meant for them as far as our technology — but also for their business. We have the means; that’s one of the things of being part of the greater SolarWinds family. We can leverage those resources so when there’s a compliance issue or new regulation, we’re able to assess the impact and get on it, and make sure our customers are safe, and there shouldn’t be any roadblock to their business.

CP: What’s the latest in terms of feedback from partners as far as what their hearing from their SMB customers?

JP: My favorite thing about the conference is to walk around and actually talk to the partners, and each unique conversation for me is beneficial, but it’s also sort of a quilt where you have to stitch together conversations and a theme starts to emerge. It’s probably too early on in the conference to tell you what that theme is. We ask them what can we do to help you be more successful. What are things you’re finding success selling to the market? What would be useful if we wanted to take some technology and integrate that into …

… the platform to use that single pane of glass to make your jobs more efficient? What can we automate; what can we do to make you more profitable? They know what their pain points are and they’re not afraid to express it.

The No. 1 reason why a MSP will be lose a customer, whether it’s in the United States, Canada or in Europe, is if there’s a security issue, if there’s a breach or if they feel like the MSP did not do what they needed to do to protect their assets, their data, their property. That’s universal, so anything we can do to help them to safeguard against that and reassure their customers that they’re doing everything they need to do make sure that they’re compliant, and that their information and property is safe, the better for them.

CP: Is your overall business/product/channel strategy evolving each year?

JP: We have a few pillars that are long-lasting. This notion about empowering our MSPs and fueling their success — that’s the foundation. And then one of the pillars is definitely security and where that story’s going, and the next one’s around automation. So we invest in remote monitoring and management (RMM) for the different levels of automation to make our customers’ technicians more efficient. We can automate some of the low-level stuff so that the MSPs can focus a little it more on the business initiatives and business-continuity things, [the] more the better for them.

Integrating in the ecosystem is another pillar. With the pace of change and the way technology is changing, we want to leverage all the technology of SolarWinds, but we also want to partner and pull in different folks. We have Bitdefender that does our antivirus, and we’ll continue to look at partners to bring in to do integrations so that our partners are getting the best of the technology that’s out there.

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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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