At its annual convention IT Nation Connect, Connectwise has announced two significant acquisitions and a new strategic partnership. These are significant acquisitions compared the one it made a year ago of Sienna Group. This time, with the backing of Thoma Bravo, it has acquired Continuum and IT Boost.
While the terms of the agreements were not disclosed the Continuum acquisition alone brings the addition of 6,000 partners. The combined company will have more than 30,000 partners. While this is up only 2,000 most of the overlap is because many ConnectWise customers also use BrightGauge, a subsidiary of Continuum. The strategic partner announced is with Webfinity, an engagement platform. It also renewed its call for better information sharing of security in the MSP and MSP vendor community.
Continuum acquisition boost revenues and market share
These acquisitions demonstrate the ambition of Thoma Bravo to capture a significant share of the market. It will have stiff competition in Kaseya, who recently raised half a billion dollars to fund its own growth. Kaseya has also quietly acquired majority shareholdings in several MSP companies over the last few years including IT Glue (announced) and Pulseway. Importantly the acquisition of Continuum gives ConnectWise several more offices and a greater presence overseas. The combined organisation will have more than 2,000 employees spread across 16 offices globally.
According to the press release ConnectWise will also leverage the investment that Continuum has already made in AI-enabled services. ConnectWise argues that this acquisition brings together two organisations that, while they target the same market, have different approaches to it. Continuum offers a managed service solution, Continuum Assist which allows MSPs to outsource certain resource heavy tasks.
Michael George, CEO of Continuum commented: “The combination of Continuum and ConnectWise enables solution providers to transform their business leveraging artificial intelligence, autonomic remediation, and a global workforce when necessary providing our partners with infinite and elastic scale. Our two organisations complement each other perfectly, and the journey Continuum has been on for the past eight years—including our acquisitions of R1Soft, CARVIR and BrightGauge—have led to this transformational merger. The future opportunities for MSPs are extraordinary, and this combined platform empowers them to capture and capitalise on it.”
But what about the overlap
There is, however, an overlap between the two companies. Enterprise Times challenged Jason Magee, CEO at ConnectWise about this, asking what the longer term strategy was.
Magee answered: “This is a great opportunity for us to bring things together that impact our partners in a very positive way. We don’t have all the product details ironed out just yet, but we’re looking at doing revolutionary things as these two companies come together.
“And there is actually very little product overlap. There is a functional overlap, but those two products are in the RMM category. So our partners will still have the power of choice. It will enable an MSP to pick and choose whether they want to use a DIY model or use the fully integrated managed services model that Continuum has made so successful for their partners. Now we have a broad suite that is more suitable at a flexible economy that makes sense to them. So it’s very symbiotic – a natural combination with very little overlap.“
There is almost certainly an overlap in the G&A area and a restructuring of certain other areas that ConnectWise might want to address to reduce some of the costs. These are early days though in the acquisition. It will no doubt be a few weeks or months before certain decisions become apparent.
Acquisition of IT Boost
IT Boost provides a complementary solution to ConnectWise. It provides a unified location to host IT documentation that MSP users need. This includes a knowledge base, contracts and other documents, templates, KPI measurements and other information in a single dashboard. The product already has integrations with Continuum RMM and ConnectWise Manage PSA. MSPs can take advantage of other integrations to most of the leading PSA, RMM and backup vendors. It also integrates to a mix of other solutions including Dropbox, Ringcentral VOIP and Slack.
The acquisition will further strengthen the Continuum NOC and SOC solutions. Further investment and expertise from ConnectWise could mean it adds more integrations faster. Ali Peracha, co-founder of ITBoost commented: “We believe ITBoost is the one IT documentation platform that truly brings everything together for MSPs, and we’re excited to become part of the ConnectWise product platform. ITBoost and ConnectWise are a powerful combination, providing TSPs with easy access to their business applications, PSA and RMMs, and vital information from their NOC/SOC.”
Importantly, while ConnectWise seems to have entered a new era of acquisitions it has not ceased entering into partnerships. ConnectWise will make its solution, ConnectWise Engage powered by Webfinity, available to TSP’s across the globe. Few details of this are yet available though. It will launch in 2020 but there is no decision on pricing yet. It will enable them to centralise relationships into a single engagement platform. The Webfinity platform provides four key components:
- Experience Automation: The engine can deliver unique personalized experiences for any type of user with almost any language.
- Engagement management: Enables business users to configure the solution including workflows, rules and content management of multiple asset types. The relationship management solution allows users to quickly onboard and manage partners, suppliers, employees or customers.
- Data and Intelligence: This includes collation of adoption and usage information along with relational transaction analytics and content engagement analytics to surface insights from usage data.
- Connector Framework: The solution includes connectors to a wide rage of applications including commonly used CRM solutions such as Salesforce and Microsoft Dynamics as well as many others.
Magee, CEO, ConnectWise summarised by saying: “Over the last 15 years ConnectWise has become the leading provider of technology solutions and services to MSPs. Now, by executing on these deals, we will be able to expand our scope and capabilities to assist the broader community of TSPs in all facets of their business.
“This is a revolutionary play, making ConnectWise the epicenter for everything from business management and documentation to service delivery and operations management, while also making it much easier and more efficient for partners to work with the technology suppliers they have in their stacks.”
ConnectWise pre-announced the new security initiative August with the launch of TSP-ISAO (Technology Solution Provider Information Sharing and Analysis Organization). Since then, is also announced a partnership with security vendor E92plus. ET asked Magee to expand on the new initiative.
Magee answered: “We’re asking everyone to step up their efforts, and we’ve dubbed it the Fight Back initiative because we’re all only as good as our weakest link.
“We’re stepping up our efforts too. We recently announced the first ever Information Sharing & Analysis Organization for TSPs about two months ago. We’ve achieved SOC2 Type II certification on all ConnectWise products and we’re making MFA mandatory on all our products by early 2020. We’re also expanding our cybersecurity talent and awareness throughout our company. So this will accelerate what was already a strategic initiative for us.
“Continuum specializes in security, so this means that ConnectWise can be a leader and reach a broader TSP/MSP community. The lack of talent and the skills shortage will feed into allowing companies to tap into cybersecurity resources. This initiative will give the ability to pull everything into one platform, one community and provide help to customers and prospects.”
While Continuum joining TSP-ISAO will give it some weight. It has a new Executive Director in place, MJ Shoer, once Chairman of the board of Directors of CompTIA. While CompTIA is one of the founding partners, no others have as yet been confirmed. This is disappointing though with Shoer in place he will hopefully leverage his network to address this. The E92plus announcement did not include whether they had also joined the initiative. The website is now live.
Enterprise Times: What does this mean
These are substantial announcements by ConnectWise and it will no doubt also issue product updates in the coming days. It also sees consolidation in the MSP software tools vendor market. There are still many questions that the companies will have to answer. Time will tell how the products complement each each or whether the overlap is greater than they thought.
What will be interesting to see, is how separate the brands and products remain. There are significant advantages of consolidating development functions and creating centres of expertise. However, that is a big challenge during any acquisition as others have found. What it cannot afford to do is fail to consolidate. If it does, it will end up with development teams duplicating efforts in some cases.
The announcement around Webfinity with ConnectWise Engage and the new security initiative lack any real detail yet. One hopes that IT Nation Connect will see the first steps of increasing information sharing to improve security in MSP’s.