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Acer America
Acer America Corp. is a computer manufacturer of business and consumer PCs, notebooks, ultrabooks, projectors, servers, and storage products.


333 West San Carlos Street
San Jose, California 95110
United States


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December 5, 2018 |

ConnectWise Acquires Security Services Vendor to Provide Partner Training and Education

The former Sienna Group LLC will now be the ConnectWise Cybersecurity Center of Excellence. Its goal, according to ConnectWise CEO Arnie Bellini (pictured), will be closing the gap between demand for security expertise and available supply in the channel.

In the latest step in the unfolding of an ambitious cybersecurity strategy, ConnectWise has acquired Sienna Group LLC, a provider of security services and solutions based in Tampa, Fla. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Renamed the ConnectWise Cybersecurity Center of Excellence by its new owners, Sienna will serve as an in-house best practices training unit for MSPs. “Cybersecurity requires a tremendous amount of education, and so that’s what we are going to be doing with Sienna is really educating our partners and the marketplace on the proper implementation and administration of cybersecurity,” says ConnectWise CEO Arnie Bellini.

Training available through the new Center of Excellence will address all five components of the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s cybersecurity framework, and cover topics ranging from intrusion prevention and penetration testing to data loss prevention and network access control. “We will be teaching them in a holistic way how to perform those services, how to charge for those services, how to market for those services,” Bellini says.

Courses on delivering security awareness training will be available as well. Partners who wish to will also have the option of outsourcing awareness training to ConnectWise. According to Bellini, however, the Cybersecurity Center of Excellence will generally not provide services directly to end users.

“Awareness training is one of the unique ones where we know that we will be asked to provide that,” Bellini says. “Virtually every other service will be a service that we’re training and teaching the partner how to run.”

Partner education is a key element of the sweeping cybersecurity plans Bellini outlined last month at ConnectWise’s IT Nation Connect event in Orlando, and is needed to reduce the shortage of channel pros capable of meeting rising demand for security services among SMBs.

“There’s a big talent gap in cybersecurity,” Bellini says. Sienna is ideally equipped to help close that gap, he continues, citing the company’s wealth of experienced staff. “They are a long-standing cybersecurity consulting organization with [a collective] 130 years of cybersecurity expertise,” Bellini says. John Ford, the company’s CEO, will now serve ConnectWise as chief information security officer.

In his IT Nation Connect keynote speech last month, Bellini announced the introduction of new risk assessment and vulnerability scanning solutions developed in partnership with Sienna. Set to launch before the end of the year and available at no cost to ConnectWise partners for the first three months, those tools are designed to help MSPs more easily put best practices taught by the Center of Excellence into practice with their customers.

“The main purpose of them is to get all of customers evaluated from a security standpoint and to start opening up those discussions, because those discussions will lead to additional sales,” Bellini says, adding that ConnectWise is likely to develop additional tools through the Center of Excellence in the future.

Bellini views security generally and cybersecurity specifically as enormous opportunities for MSPs thanks to the never-ending stream of increasingly sophisticated exploits plaguing businesses large and small.

Drawing on data from its partners, ConnectWise estimates that the average provider of monitoring, management, BDR, and help desk services bills clients $125 per seat per month. MSPs who add web content filtering, email encryption, and other basic security services to that package charge $175 per user on average, but those that progress into cybersecurity disciplines like log management, password protection, and threat intelligence earn $250 and up.

According to Bellini, however, cultivating the know-how needed to deliver cybersecurity services is a challenge most channel pros don’t know how to tackle. “They are very confused about what direction they should go in,” he says. “Many of them do not believe that they can transform themselves to deliver cybersecurity services.” The Center of Excellence is charged with helping them through that process.

Training is but one component of a cybersecurity initiative that also includes the creation of what Bellini calls a “security orchestration and automated response” solution. When fully in place, that offering will weave point products from leading security vendors together into an integrated platform equipped to prevent breaches and take appropriate action on its own when it detects a successful attack.

Unite, the centralized provisioning and management portal that ConnectWise unveiled at last year’s IT Nation event and officially launched in April, will provide the foundation for that platform, which will feature a forthcoming open source integration language as well.

“Cybersecurity is something that has to be handled in a holistic fashion,” Bellini says. “There are many solutions that will be put in place, not just one, and those many solutions for cybersecurity defense have to work in concert with each other. That’s where we see ConnectWise playing.”

ConnectWise plans to showcase the first release of its emerging orchestration and automation platform at the 2019 IT Nation Explore event in Orlando next June.

Sienna is unlikely to be the last security-related purchase ConnectWise makes. The company will partner with other vendors as often as it can, according to Bellini, but acquire or invest in companies when it can’t. “When we see things that we feel we have to own because it’s part of the overall security framework of tying everything together, we’ll make acquisitions there,” he says.

At this year’s IT Nation Connect event, Bellini cited the high cost of cybersecurity solutions as an additional possible motivation for future acquisitions and equity investments.

“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 told ChannelPro. “Sometimes that means we’re going to have to build it ourselves or commission someone to build it or incentivize someone to build it.”

Bellini and Ford will co-host a Cybersecurity Center of Excellence webinar tomorrow on setting security liability expectations with customers and helping them respond to breaches. ConnectWise will also hold a week-long security boot camp offering intensive education to roughly 15 MSP attendees early next year.

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