Auvik’s Product Strategy: The Network is Dead. Long Live the Network.

At first blush, Auvik’s dual acquisitions last October of cloud management vendor Saaslio and remote management vendor Boardgent looked like a radical departure for the network management leader. In truth though, explains Alex Hoff, the vendor’s co-founder and chief strategy officer, it’s not Auvik that’s changed. It’s everything else.

When the company was founded back in 2011, work mostly took place in offices, where local-area networks connected PCs to applications on servers. MSPs used Auvik’s software to map, monitor, and manage everything on those networks in an easy, automated way. Today, of course, work happens pretty much everywhere, on smartphones as well as PCs, while the applications are mostly in the cloud.

And the traditional network? “The network is dead. Long live the network,” says Hoff (pictured).

Auvik’s mission in the age of this new post-perimeter network ultimately remains the same though, he continues. “If I’m an IT person, I still need to know what endpoints you have. IT still needs to know what applications you’re using,” Hoff notes. “We’ve still got to make sure the applications and the connectivity are healthy so that I can do my job.”

The trick is that tracking applications is harder when most of them are in the cloud, and onboarding users in those systems isn’t easy either. “We used to image a laptop and let ‘er rip,” Hoff says. “Now I’ve got to add you to Zoom, I’ve got to add you to Slack, I’ve got to add you to these channels in Slack.” Mapping endpoints outside the firewall is also difficult, as is troubleshooting connectivity issues involving home or airport Wi-Fi.

Purchasing Saaslio and Boardgent is part of a larger strategy—fueled by the $250 million invested in Auvik by private equity firm Great Hill Partners two summers ago—to help technicians tackle all those challenges. Saaslio’s solution automatically discovers SaaS applications and streamlines onboarding. Boardgent’s products, together with technology Auvik acquired a year ago with Wi-Fi optimization vendor MetaGeek, will help the company diagnose and resolve remote connectivity issues.

“I can tell you that, ‘hey, you’re experiencing a problem interacting with Zoom because your Wi-Fi signal is low. Perhaps go back a little bit closer to the access point,’” Hoff explains.

Still, for all Hoff’s insistence that Auvik’s new strategy is consistent with its old one, purchasing Saaslio and Boardgent does enter it into some new and crowded markets. Boardgent competes with TeamViewer and Splashtop, plus managed services giants like ConnectWise, Kaseya, and N-able.

Saaslio, meanwhile, goes up against the likes of Augmentt, Nerdio, and SkyKick, not to mention N-able and (soon, as Channelholic readers know) Datto, along with other RMM makers currently readying cloud management products. Is Auvik headed in the direction of adding RMM to its portfolio in response?

Absolutely not, Hoff insists. “I won’t beat around the bush, there will be overlap with some of the existing RMM capabilities,” he says. But only some, and mostly in monitoring.

“They’ve got a lot of other capabilities—like automation, scripting engines—that are probably not our bread and butter,” says Hoff of RMM solutions.

Besides, Auvik has plenty to do on its existing solutions. Creating a single, combined interface for all of them is high on the list, notes Hoff, who was reluctant to say more about timing than that the merged UI will probably arrive within the next year.

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Lean times may be giving integrated suites an edge over best of breed

Loosely speaking, Cisco appears to share Auvik’s thinking about traditional networking: in the age of hybrid work and online everything, it’s part of the tech infrastructure picture but a decreasingly central one. As I reported here Tuesday, the upshot is the company’s “connect and protect” strategy, in which security solutions figure as prominently as switches, routers, and access points.

Something else came up during Cisco’s webcast this week about that strategy, though, that has implications for MSPs and the software vendors they buy from. According to guest speaker Stephanie Hagopian (pictured), vice president in charge of the cyber and physical security solutions practice at CDW, inflation and recession anxiety are making pre-integrated, single-supplier product suites more popular with businesses wary of investing time and money in weaving “best-of-breed” solutions together.

“Macroeconomic pressures are causing customers to definitely scrutinize their investments a little more closely,” she said. “It’s creating, I think, a great opportunity for the platform play.”

Cisco expects the appeal of integrated solutions to outlast the current economic cycle, which is why later this month it will outline plans for consolidating what are now 27 separate security products into just three suites.

“What customers are looking for is less about the best security solutions any longer. It’s about bringing an end-to-end coverage model that helps them to manage the complexity,” said Oliver Tuszik, Cisco’s senior vice president of partner sales and general manager of routes to market.

That bodes well, assuming CDW isn’t the only solution provider that agrees, not only for Cisco but for other makers of integrated security suites like Acronis, Sophos, and Trend Micro.

The same logic might end up buoying vendors with solution suites outside security too. A survey from GoTo last week found that 83% of decision-makers at companies with under 1,000 employees call consolidating communication, IT management, and support tools an important initiative for 2023.

More reasons to get proactive on AI

I spoke a little about the security risks posed by technologies like ChatGPT in the very first edition of Channelholic. Two items in this week’s news underscore why reaching out to clients about both the promise and peril of AI is a good idea.

The first was a research study from PA Consulting revealing that “two in three people within the US (69%) are scared by AI, and 72% … don’t know enough about AI to trust the technology.” The title of the second, posted by Aaron Mulgrew of Forcepoint, says it all: “I built a Zero Day with undetectable exfiltration using only ChatGPT prompts.

So, in short, your customers could potentially benefit from AI, hear about it constantly, don’t understand it, are frightened by it, and should be. Or they at least need to appreciate its dangers (which include data leakage, by the way) before putting it to work. Seal your place as their trusted tech advisor by giving them a call now.

Also worth noting

Speaking of AI, Atera has added OpenAI-based “smart ticketing” to its PSA solution. The new feature integrates with the OpenAI-based scripting Atera rolled out in February to create automated workflows.

ScalePad has acquired Lifecycle Insights, a maker of QBR prep software. For those keeping score, that’s the second company on my 2023 ChannelPro Vendors on the Vanguard list they’ve purchased this year, along with Cognition360. Who’ll be next?

There’s a new CRO at WatchGuard and a new channel chief at NinjaOne.

Veeam has new protection-related competencies for VARs and cloud service providers in ransomware, public cloud, Microsoft 365, and containers.

Solutions Granted now offers IAM from Evo Security. Could be of particular interest to ConnectWise partners.