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November 9, 2018 |

ConnectWise Outlines Massive Managed Security Enablement Campaign

According to CEO Arnie Bellini (pictured), core elements of the initiative include the launch of an open source security integration standard and the introduction of new cybersecurity solutions, some of which will compete with products from ConnectWise partners.

ConnectWise has embarked on a sprawling effort to build a comprehensive, interconnected ecosystem of affordably-priced security solutions, along with an army of MSPs to sell and support them.

The Tampa, Fla.-based managed services software maker outlined the core elements of the ambitious campaign on the opening day of its IT Nation Connect partner event, in Orlando. They include launching an open source integration language for cybersecurity solutions; introducing cybersecurity tools and solutions; and acquiring or investing in security software vendors, some of which compete with existing ConnectWise partners.

ConnectWise plans to spend tens of millions of dollars on the initiative, which is designed to help MSPs prosper in a time of increasing commoditization while simultaneously fueling victory in the struggle against cybercrime, according to CEO Arnie Bellini, who invoked military metaphors repeatedly in a keynote address Thursday morning.

“This is a war,” he told MSPs and vendors in his audience. “We need you to enlist in the fight.”

Early steps in that fight include the rollout of new risk assessment and vulnerability scanning solutions. Created in partnership with Sienna Group LLC, a security service provider in Tampa, Fla., and set to launch in December, both tools will be available at no cost to ConnectWise partners for the first three months.

The two systems, which integrate with the ConnectWise Manage PSA system, are intended to help MSPs drive demand for security services by showing customers where they deviate from best practices defined by the National Institute of Standards and Technology and how to address those gaps. “We’re giving them a big kick start down the path to cybersecurity,” said Bellini in a conversation with ChannelPro.

Developing additional security solutions, both through acquisitions and investments, is a further component of ConnectWise’s security strategy. Bellini discussed one such investment, in Tampa, Fla.-based Perch Security, during his Thursday keynote. The company operates an intrusion detection and monitoring service that automatically generates tickets in ConnectWise Manage when it spots active threats.

“We are influencing their development roadmap,” he said. “We want them to be able to produce a solution that’s affordable for you that you can make money on that also will help get you into the cybersecurity world.” ConnectWise plans to make the solution available to its partners on a break-even basis for $2 per IP address per month.

That’s representative of a larger move on Bellini’s part to bring economically-priced security solutions to market in greater numbers.

“At the end of the day, the real macroeconomic problem is that cyber companies are charging too much for their products and only enterprises can afford them, so we are using our purchasing power, our investment, and our know-how to bust that up and start creating tools that are affordable for small to midsize businesses to consume,” Bellini says. “Sometimes that means we’re going to have to build it ourselves or commission someone to build it or incentivize someone to build it.”

The ultimate objective, he continues, is to compel other vendors to create affordably-priced solutions of their own. “Our job is to drive what normally costs $200,000 in enterprise down to maybe $30,000,” he says.

ConnectWise’s forthcoming integration language, which is currently being piloted, is designed to enhance end user safety by allowing security solutions to exchange information both with each other and with ConnectWise’s RMM and PSA systems. ConnectWise will open source the technology once it’s completed, and then push to have it recognized by a certification body like the World Wide Web Consortium as an industry standard.

Unite, the consolidated provisioning and management portal that ConnectWise introduced at last year’s IT Nation event and officially launched in April, will provide a centralized point of administration for products linked by the new integration language.

“Unite is what’s going to unite them all and bring them to one pane of glass,” says Bellini, who previewed the launch of a security-specific version of Unite in June.

According to Bellini, even the best security solutions will leave gaps in a business’s defenses unless they communicate and collaborate with one another. ConnectWise, he continues, is in a unique position to create a standard capable of enabling that kind of cross-vendor coordination.

“It requires someone with the balls and the money and the understanding of the significance and importance of this to say ‘we’re going to do it, we’re going to fund it, we’re going to publish it, and we’re going to ask people to adhere to it,'” Bellini says.

Cisco Systems Inc., Acronis International GmbH, Webroot Inc., and Infrascale Inc. have all signed on to support ConnectWise’s standardization venture.

“It’s an opportunity for us,” says Charlie Tomeo, vice president of worldwide business sales at Webroot, of Broomfield, Colo.

Bellini wants to recruit many additional vendors to its standardization venture as well. Zak Karsan, CEO of Boston-based data protection vendor Vault America, says he’s evaluating the new technology.

“It’s important to be a part of that stack if you can be,” he says of the ConnectWise platform. “It’s just got to be the right strategy and the right time for Vault America.”

ConnectWise is launching its security push, Bellini said in his keynote, to staunch a cybercrime epidemic currently draining $6 trillion annually from the $87 trillion global economy. “This is cyberwarfare,” he asserted. “We’ve got to get serious about this.”

A critical shortage of trained security professionals, Bellini added, has made getting serious about security difficult. There will be 1.5 million fewer qualified candidates than open security positions next year, he said. That figure will reach 3 million in 2025.

“There’s just not enough people coming out to do this work,” Bellini observed. “There’s not enough of you who know how to do it.”

MSPs who do know how to deliver security services stand to profit handsomely, he continued, noting that while the market for managed services is rising at a 12 percent CAGR presently, security revenues are climbing 17 percent.

“There is money there for them,” Bellini says of security specialists. “They just have to learn it and that’s what we’re going to teach them.”

Educational components of ConnectWise’s security initiative include an online training event on December 6th in which Bellini and Sienna Group CEO John Ford will provide instruction on setting cybersecurity liability expectations with customers, what to do when breaches occur, and the role technology service providers can play in mitigating security risks.

ConnectWise will also conduct a week-long security boot camp in Tampa early next year. Limited to roughly 15 participants, the intensive training course will serve as a test bed for more widely available courses offered later through the vendor’s IT Nation Share partner community and IT Nation Evolve peer groups.

In addition to security programs, IT Nation Connect has served as the launching pad for an automated ConnectWise Marketplace solution and a variety of announcements from ConnectWise vendor partners.

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