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ConnectWise Is ‘Serious’ About Improving Security, Partners Say

ConnectWise has acquired Perch Security and StratoZen and partners will see ‘the first major movements’ to combine the entities into one before the end of the year, says Brian Downey, ConnectWise’s vice president of product, at the IT Nation Connect partner conference.

ConnectWise has acquired two cybersecurity companies as it looks to double down on shielding its MSP partners from the cybercriminals who target them and their customers.

The purchase of Perch Security, first reported by CRN last week, and StratoZen were unveiled at the opening of ConnectWise’s annual partner conference, IT Nation Connect, which is being held virtually this week. Perch Security is a Tampa, Fla.-based company that two years ago received $9 million in funding from ConnectWise. StratoZen is a SOC-as-a-Service, SIEM-as-a-Service company based in Salt Lake City, with 23 employees that process “over 20 billion security events every day,” ConnectWise said in a fact sheet.

The plan is to bring the two companies together in a way that is complementary to both and a win for partners, said Brian Downey, ConnectWise’s vice president of product.

“StratoZen has great functionality around analysis, automation as well as visibility,” he said. “So being able to take that and layer on top the kind of consolidated base of information that Perch has really helps dive into very actionable information very easily for MSPs. That’s really where we saw the fit of these two companies.”

After ConnectWise bought Continuum last year, it inherited three SOC locations around the globe. Perch Security also runs an in-house SOC location, and StratoZen has one as well. But Downey said the goal is not to run a massive scalable security apparatus but to make that apparatus less necessary through automation.

“We’re welcoming any SOC resources we get through these acquisitions,” he said. “That’s great and complementary to what we’re doing. But the other thing that you’ll see is where the expertise of Perch and StratoZen really weren’t around huge scalable SOCs. They are around, ‘How do we make it so we don’t need quite as big SOCs? How do we make it so we don’t need so many people involved in the solution?’ That’s really where I think that they complement our resources really well.”

Before the end of the year, Downey said, partners will see “the first major movements” to combine the entities into one.

Mark Essayian, president of KME Systems, an MSP based in Lake Forest, Calif., said it’s clear that ConnectWise is focused on helping MSPs who need to improve their security game.

“As a ConnectWise, Continuum and Perch user, I’m glad to see it under one umbrella. I think a lot of MSSPs are lying to themselves when they say they know what they are doing. When you hire people, you want people who are smarter than you,” he said. “It’s very dangerous to do it on your own with disparate products.”

Gavin Stone, chief technology officer at Impact Computing & Consulting, an MSP in Preston, U.K., said he is cautiously optimistic about the deals for Perch Security and StratoZen.

“The Perch and StratoZen acquisitions show that ConnectWise is genuinely serious about improving both their security offerings and their overall security posture. They have a lot of work to do to ensure that the elements that make those companies unique are not lost while being part of a larger corporate structure,” Stone said.

[RELATED: ConnectWise CEO Jason Magee: ‘Doubling Down’ On Partner Support]

Jason Slagle, vice president of technology at CNWR, a Toldeo, Ohio-based MSP that partners with Perch Security, said the company has “a great team.”

“Perch is amazing. They have a great team. They’re very transparent. They care about their customers. They believe in the saying, ‘A rising tide lifts all boats.’”

At IT Nation, ConnectWise also unveiled ConnectWise Fusion, a unified platform “on which all ConnectWise product technology will sit.” ConnectWise Chief Product Officer Jeff Bishop said Fusion will modernize existing offerings without having to rewrite the code that created them.

“Some of our product lines are a little bit more mature in age, and we really want to go back and remove that technical debt and reimagine them, innovate them,” he said. “We wanted to try to find the right path forward to do that. To try to do a complete rewrite in places is really slow. It doesn‘t provide that value back to our customers immediately. So the strategy we’ve taken is creating a centralized data layer—business insight layer, workflow layer—and starting off with a lot of those centralized services so we don’t have 18 workflow engines and 18 network discovery tools and 18 reporting tools. We can start to centralize those and really innovate in those areas and make those available to all the products.”

Fusion is still a ways out, Bishop said, with development ongoing for “the next five to 10 quarters.”

“We’re going to put a lot of time and effort, initially, into RMM and security to try to get those brought forward into the platform and tied together quickly,” he said. “It is something you’re going to see evolve through all of next year going into 2022, but you’re going to see material improvements every quarter throughout the next five to 10 quarters.

Computing & Consulting’s Stone called Fusion “exactly what the ConnectWise platforms and products need.”

“ConnectWise Fusion is exactly what the ConnectWise platforms and products need. The idea is great, but execution will be judged based on how it works practically and the actual, tangible benefits this brings,” he said.

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