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October 30, 2019 |

ConnectWise Buys Continuum and ITBOOST

Announced by CEO Jason Magee (pictured), the blockbuster deals add BDR, security, and documentation to a lineup that already included RMM, PSA, quoting, and remote control, positioning ConnectWise to offer one of the industry’s most complete portfolios for MSPs.

ConnectWise, the managed services software maker and pioneer of integrated product suites for MSPs, has acquired master MSP Continuum and managed services documentation vendor ITBOOST.

Terms of the dual transactions, both of which have closed, were not revealed. ConnectWise announced the deals at its 2019 IT Nation Connect event in Orlando today, where it also unveiled a strategic agreement to deliver a partner relationship management solution powered by technology from PRM vendor Webinfinity and shared details on an initiative to rally vendors and channel pros in the fight against cybercrime.

For ConnectWise, buying Continuum adds a BDR platform and growing family of security products, which includes anti-virus, firewall, and managed SIEM components, to a solution lineup that has never included backup before and offered only limited security offerings until now. It also allows partners to buy help desk services and network operations center support directly from ConnectWise for the first time. Previously, ConnectWise made NOC services available only through a partnership with outsourcer IT By Design.

The ITBOOST purchase, which comes some 10 months after rival Kaseya announced its acquisition of documentation vendor IT Glue, adds documentation to a ConnectWise portfolio of MSP line-of-business software that already contained RMM, PSA, quoting, and remote control applications.

“You bring all of this together [and] you’ve got one transformational, revolutionary platform that we’re able to take to market,” says ConnectWise CEO Jason Magee.

Though ConnectWise and Continuum have largely complementary product sets, both companies offer RMM solutions. ConnectWise has no immediate plans to discontinue either of those products or combine them into a single platform.

“Both tracks will be maintained at this point,” says Magee, noting that long-term plans for ConnectWise Automate and Continuum Command will be forged during a strategic business planning and roadmap definition process set to begin after IT Nation Connect concludes.

“To this point, we have not been able to dig into it much,” Magee says.

Combining Continuum’s services and solutions with its own, he adds, positions ConnectWise to attract MSPs that lean on third-party vendors for help desk, NOC, and other services along with the “do-it-yourselfers” it has traditionally served.

“This opens up a whole new world from a ConnectWise standpoint,” he says.

It also opens up powerful new opportunities for ConnectWise and Continuum partners alike, according to Continuum CEO Michael George, who is now stepping away from the company.†

“It’s the best of all worlds for them,” he says. “They’ll have incredibly versatile and flexible environments to scale up and down by adding different technologies and different services.”

The combination of ConnectWise software with Continuum services, in particular, gives new MSPs an easy path to growth, George adds. “You can come into a very simple entry point with ConnectWise and step onto their tools and then level up a little bit and start to engage some of the automation that we’re making available,” he says.

Selling BDR and endpoint security products of its own is something of a departure for ConnectWise, which has historically aspired to serve as a hub for linking and delivering solutions from outside vendors. According to Magee, the company will continue to support open integration of its products with third-party solutions.

“We’re still committed to the power of choice for our partners, and we’ll continue with our API-first mindset, which allows for our continued partnership [with] the 260 and growing vendor partners that we have out there,” he says.

ConnectWise will operate Continuum as a separate business under its current brand and management for the time being, pending completion of the company’s strategic planning discussions. Continuum CFO Geoffrey Willison will become ConnectWise’s new chief operating officer. Tasos Tsolakis, currently Continuum’s senior vice president of service delivery, will now hold the same position at ConnectWise, reporting directly to Magee. ConnectWise will be hiring a new CFO from outside its expanded leadership team as well.

George, for his part, has yet to decide on his next pursuit. “I’m not going to reappear back in the MSP space, but I will reappear somewhere in the technology field,” he says.

ITBOOST is now a product group within ConnectWise headed by the company’s former CEO, Ali Peracha, whose new title is vice president of product. Omer Khawaja, presently CTO at ITBOOST, is now vice president of product operations, while Raza Rafiq transitions from CFO to vice president of strategic initiatives.

Peracha, Khawaja, and Rafiq co-founded ITBOOST after running a Dallas-based MSP together. Their partners, Peracha insists, will only benefit from the vendor’s agreement to become part of ConnectWise.

“It’s all good news for the partners,” he says, noting that ITBOOST has long aspired to establish deeper connections between its platform and ConnectWise’s solutions. “Now we’re part of the ConnectWise family, so we have deeper access into getting things done. We’ve already started having conversations with the Manage team, with the Automate team, with the Control team to have those deeper integrations.”

Though specific details have yet to be finalized, ConnectWise plans to integrate all of its new holdings with its current ones in the months and years ahead. Over the shorter term, however, it will begin leveraging initial synergies across its expansive portfolio as soon as early next year.

“There are additional layers of automation that Continuum has that we’ll be able to layer on top of the current Automate platform, not to mention there’s some patch management check-in services that Continuum provides today that ConnectWise doesn’t,” Magee says.

Continuum partners that have relied on LogMeIn for remote access in the past, moreover, will soon have the option to use ConnectWise Control instead.

The addition of Continuum’s layered security offering to ConnectWise’s product catalog comes amid exploding need and demand for security services among businesses of all sizes, and one year after ConnectWise launched a strategic push into cybersecurity at IT Nation Connect 2018.

Other elements of that effort have included taking an ownership stake in intrusion detection and monitoring vendor Perch Security, purchasing security service provider Sienna Group, and introducing a risk assessment solution called ConnectWise Identify in partnership with Sienna this March.†Adding Continuum’s security suite is by far the biggest step yet, and a significant win for ConnectWise partners, according to George.

“This is going to put the most powerful, most flexible [security] tool on the planet in the hands of ConnectWise’s more than 25,000 MSPs,” he says. “Now they get all of this from one partner, one platform, one solution.”

Both ConnectWise and Continuum have roots that extend back to the earliest days of managed services as channel pros know it. The product today called ConnectWise Manage was one of the industry’s first PSA solutions for MSPs. Continuum, for its part, was born late in 2011 when the former Zenith Infotech spun off its RMM and BDR products as a separate company in a deal engineered by private equity firm Summit Partners.

Larger private equity investor Thoma Bravo acquired Continuum from Summit in 2017, and bought ConnectWise as well earlier this year. Other names in its steadily expanding roster of vendors that serve MSPs and other IT providers include backup and security vendor Barracuda Networks, which it bought just under two years ago, and Sophos, which it announced intentions to buy earlier this month.

The company retains an ownership stake as well in SolarWinds, which it bought together with fellow equity investor Silver Lake Partners in 2016 and listed publicly last year.

Lured by the managed services market’s massive potential, other private investors have been purchasing and combining vendors that serve MSPs in recent years. Vista Equity Partners, for example, merged Datto with Autotask two years ago to form one of the industry’s first cross-platform giants. Kaseya, which has been owned by Insight Partners since 2013 and recently raised another $500 million in outside capital, has acquired not only IT Glue but BDR vendor Unitrends, cloud-to-cloud backup vendor Spanning, assessment and compliance vendor RapidFire Tools, and security vendor ID Agent just since May of last year.

ChannelPro awarded ConnectWise founder Arnie Bellini its first-ever lifetime achievement All-Star award this year following his decision to transfer CEO duties to Magee as part of the Thoma Bravo deal following 37 years in that role.

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