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


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April 26, 2019 |

SolarWinds Buys Passportal to Add Password Management and Documentation to its MSP Software Suite

The transaction positions Passportal to enhance its products and expand its market reach faster, according to CEO Colin Knox (pictured), who will remain on board as director of MSP product strategy.

In a further addition to its growing family of security and IT management solutions, SolarWinds has acquired Passportal Inc. for an undisclosed sum.

Going forward, Passportal’s family of password management, self-serve password reset, and IT documentation solutions will be known as the SolarWinds Passportal suite.

The rebranded offering provides new integration with the SolarWinds MSP unit’s SolarWinds RM and N-central RMM solutions. Beyond that, however, existing Passportal users can expect business as usual with respect to pricing and contracts in the near term, according to Passportal founder Colin Knox.

“The plan right now is that nothing’s changing,” he says. That includes the company’s relationships with third-party software vendors, Knox adds. “We remain committed and focused on an open ecosystem, so we’ll be continuing to develop new and enhanced integrations with the other platforms and products on the market.”

Previously CEO of Passportal, Knox is now director of product strategy for MSPs at SolarWinds.

Adding a password management solution enables SolarWinds to help MSPs address an urgent need, according to John Pagliuca, general manager of SolarWinds MSP.

“We still find, quite frankly, even very mature MSPs using spreadsheets or sticky notes to maintain their passwords,” he says. “Being able to have an offering where we’re helping that MSP protect the crown jewels of these SMBs around the globe was key for us.”

SolarWinds subjected a number of solutions to stress testing before deciding to make Passportal the foundation of its password management strategy. “They stood out as the solution to go with from a technology and security point of view,” Pagliuca said, noting that Passportal systems are SOC 2 Type 1 certified and GDPR-compliant.

That Passportal offers tightly integrated documentation functionality alongside its password management capabilities weighed heavily on SolarWinds’s decision-making as well. “When they were password management by itself, I felt it was a good product,” Pagliuca says. “When they very cleverly added the documentation bit and the workflow around that, for me it became a really important strategic piece of property that we needed to have.”

The acquisition unveiled today is the culmination of a years-long “courtship” between the two companies, according to Pagliuca, who says he’s long admired Knox personally. “We’ve always been a fan of his and the vision he’s been putting forth,” Pagliuca says. “Everything that he does speaks to the MSP first, which is also how they built the product.” A former MSP, Knox originally created Passportal for his own company’s internal use.

SolarWinds and Passportal initially discussed a licensing relationship before ultimately agreeing on an acquisition instead. Becoming part of SolarWinds, rather than simply partnering with it, will benefit Passportal and its partners alike, according to Knox.

“It means, to be honest, nothing but good things,” he says. “We have more resources and investment behind us now thanks to SolarWinds to be able to drive more and faster innovation.” Over time, he continues, those resources and funds will help Passportal expand its reach among MSPs as well.

“We’re on a mission to get the security solutions that we’re developing and building in the hands of as many MSPs around the world as possible,” Knox says. The size and global scale of the SolarWinds MSP partner community, which has some 22,000 members presently, will help Passportal realize that goal sooner.

The Passportal team will operate as a free-standing group inside SolarWinds with its own salesforce and leadership team. Initially, Knox will remain focused exclusively on the Passportal portfolio. Over time, however, he will take on the broader product strategy role suggested by his new title.

“I’m looking forward to continuing to leverage his experience, his product strategy, and his vision,” Pagliuca says.

Promoting Passportal solutions to the vast community of corporate IT managers it sells to is another long-term priority for SolarWinds. “It’s not our focus, but I’d say it’s an eventuality that this technology will also be showing up more in the hands of IT pros across the globe as well,” Pagliuca says. Further and deeper integrations with SolarWinds MSP products and other SolarWinds applications is on the extended agenda for the future as well, he adds.

Passportal is the latest in an ongoing string of acquisitions by SolarWinds as it works to build a comprehensive, integrated set of solutions for MSPs and other IT providers. Last week, for example, the company acquired IT service desk vendor Samanage. Five months earlier, it bought Protected Networks GmbH, a German maker of access rights management software, and four months before that it purchased Trusted Metrics Inc., a cloud-based threat monitoring and management vendor.

Other significant recent acquisitions include the purchase of email security vendor SpamExperts N.V. in August 2017.

SolarWinds, of course, is far from the only player in the managed services software market constructing an end-to-end suite of products. ConnectWise and Datto are pursuing similar strategies, and Kaseya disclosed its acquisition of Passportal competitor IT Glue last December.

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