ConnectWise Acquires MSSP, Launches Cybersecurity School For MSPs


ConnectWise CEO Arnie Bellini said his purchase of Sienna Group is geared towards the creation of a university of sorts for MSPs to hone their security skills and give their practice the edge it needs to compete against the threat of cybercrime.

“It is a brand new approach,” he told CRN in an interview. “No one is taking a holistic approach to cybersecurity and it’s absolutely imperative that this industry get serious about cybersecurity right now because cybercrime is escalating so fast.”

Bellini said ConnectWise has built out a 10,000-square-foot training area in its Tampa, Fla. headquarters that it’s calling the Cybersecurity Center of Excellence, with its first session, a webcast, set to debut Thursday featuring himself and Sienna Group CEO John Ford.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

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“We’re going to be pouring money and time and education and effort into creating a cybersecurity university for the entire IT Nation,” he said. “Our mission is and the reason we wanted Sienna is, we wanted 130 years of cybersecurity domain expertise under our own roof … We’re going to use these folks to train you on how to become managed service provider 2.0, managed service provider 3.0 and move you to delivering and teach you how to deliver cybersecurity services.”

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Bellini said Sienna Group was the “logical choice” for ConnectWise, adding that the two companies have worked together for years, prior to the acquisition. Tampa-based Sienna Group was founded in 2012 by Ford, a cybersecurity industry veteran who previously served as CISO and CCO of several large healthcare, technology and government organizations, including Tech Data. Prior to working at Sienna Group, Ford’s team members held leadership positions with federal organizations and global enterprise corporations, ConnectWise said in a statement.

“John’s just been this amazing godfather of cybersecurity here in the Tampa Bay area, and he’s just the guy who has the most experience and knowledge that I can think of in the entire country and maybe the world,” Bellini said. “As we talked, we realized we have a very common mission here. We both are sort of pedantic about the rise of cybercrime and the effect it’s having on small to midsized business … It’s just very compelling united mission we have. We really feel like we can make a big impact in the marketplace and get a whole lot more people certified and knowledgeable.”

Bellini said ConnectWise’s holistic approach to security will combine tools, education and training, while Sienna Group’s robust solutions, including its ability to provide cyberthreat assessments and its deeply experienced team, will meet ConnectWise’s goal of providing MSPs with fully integrated security capabilities. He said MSPs with added security capabilities can expect “massively increased revenue.”

“Cyber security services represents the next big gold mine for managed service providers,” he said. It also represents a way that they can differentiate themselves from the increasingly crowded field of commoditized managed service offerings.”

MSPs who typically charge $125 per seat per month could increase that to $175 per seat just by attending the free webinars and bootcamp, ConnectWise is offering, Bellini said. He said those who stick with the program could even go as high as $250 a seat.

“That means you’re going to get really good at cyber security as you mature,” he said. “We’re going to help them mature and learn. There’s no one doing it. And its just a very fractured marketplace. The services are fractured. No one is taking a modern approach to this and that’s what ConnectWise is doing with the Cybersecurity Center of Excellence.”