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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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October 5, 2022 |

N-able Execs to MSPs: Manage and Secure Everything

And they do mean everything. John Pagliuca and Mike Cullen (pictured left and right, respectively) are two of many at at N-able who believe that managing the cloud and managing hardware aren’t either/or propositions for MSPs.

The theme of this week’s N-able Empower partner conference in Las Vegas was “own the cloud,” and the managed services vendor went out of its way to tell MSPs in attendance that it’s ready, willing, and able to help them manage the cloud applications and infrastructure their clients increasingly rely on.

“When it comes to the cloud, we’re all in,” says Mike Cullen, N-able’s general manager of RMM.

But make no mistake, unlike analysts and others who see hardware as increasingly irrelevant commodities, N-able doesn’t view cloud management as something MSPs must do instead of device and network management. It views managing the cloud as something its partners must do in addition to those more traditional chores.

“For us, it’s not going to be good enough to either manage the physical endpoints and the network or the cloud,” said N-able CEO John Pagliuca today in a conversation with ChannelPro, adding that the same goes for MSPs. 

“They need to have their eyes effectively on everything,” he says. “If they’re not mindful of the entire ecosystem, they’re going to have a blind spot for their customers, and also have a blind spot for their own businesses.”

As N-able sees it, that entire ecosystem, now and into the foreseeable future, absolutely includes hardware. 

“The reality is that our users, the knowledge workers, are still using endpoints,” said Mike Adler, the vendor’s executive vice president and chief technology and product officer, during an Empower keynote yesterday. “Those endpoints still need to be secured, they still need to be patched, they still need be managed. None of that has actually gone away.”

That analysis is reflected in the core tenets of N-able’s product strategy, which Pagliuca describes as “managing everything and securing everything,” and Cullen describes as end user (as opposed to endpoint) management.

“Whatever it takes for an end user to be able to compute, we want to be there to manage the other end of it,” he says.

Critically, N-able aspires to do that management, of everything from workstations and servers to Azure instances and Microsoft 365 tenants, through a single set of tools: N-central, the on-premises RMM solution for bigger users with more complex needs, and N-sight, the cloud-based RMM system introduced in July for smaller environments.

Cloud Asset Manager, the forthcoming cloud infrastructure management offering that N-able previewed this week, epitomizes that approach. When it arrives early next year, the new system will be an embedded component of N-central and N-sight rather than a stand-alone alternative to them.

It will also, along with the Microsoft 365 management system that N-able shipped in August, be an early, foundational part of a growing suite of cloud-focused modules. Without discussing specifics in detail, Pagliuca suggested that N-able partners can expect to see richer cloud cost management software (beyond the functionality included in Cloud Asset Manager) and a cloud security solution that will help MSPs with configuration and permissions management, and generate alerts when it spots anomalous activity.

Pagliuca also didn’t specify whether N-able would build those new services, buy them along with an acquired third party, or partner with an existing vendor, much as it has with SentinelOne on EDR and DNSFilter on domain security. N-able views the deep integrations it’s developed with such companies, which allow MSPs to take advantage of sophisticated capabilities from outside vendors through the same console they use to manage the rest of the N-able stack, as a competitive differentiator.

“We’re integrating in a way that drives a lot of efficiency for the MSP, but still gives them all the native functionality that’s inherent in some of these powerful tools,” Pagliuca says.

In any event, N-able’s new cloud security module, whenever it arrives, won’t be the company’s first layer in the company’s cloud security stack. Cove, the cloud-focused data protection platform the vendor officially launched in May, is essentially the outermost layer in what will eventually be a multi-layered cloud security stack.

“It’s a continuum,” says Stefan Voss, N-able’s vice president of product management. “Regardless of what framework you apply, whether it’s CIS, NIST, ISO, you have to think left of breach all the way to right of breach.” Cove is part of N-able’s right of breach strategy.

“Without data protection, without a recovery solution, you’re clearly exposed,” Voss observes.

That Cove is entirely based in the cloud holds appeal with MSPs as well, according to Chris Groot, general manager of Cove data protection. “The words that they love to hear are that you don’t need to buy any infrastructure. You don’t need to buy an appliance. You don’t need to buy storage infrastructure locally or offsite any longer,” he says. “One license with Cove gets all the data offsite.”

The results are not only speedier recoveries from data loss, Groot adds, but lower costs as well. “You’re not using any compute. Sending the data into Azure’s free,” he says. “It’s a very low-cost thing to maintain for something while you’re never using it.”

Security, like the cloud, came up often at Empower. Pagliuca cited both as “tailwinds” accelerating growth for MSPs during a keynote address yesterday.


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