One of the more interesting channel story lines over the last few years has been the race between traditional RMM software makers like ConnectWise, Kaseya, and N-able on the one hand and born-in-the-cloud management vendors like Augmentt, SkyKick, and Nerdio on the other for dominance in the increasingly cloud-first world of managed services. The younger companies are way ahead of their older peers on administering Microsoft 365 and Azure. The established vendors have deeper pockets, greater brand recognition, and above all more sophisticated device management functionality.
According to at least one of the cloud-native upstarts, however…so what?
“At some point, there may be a situation where an MSP doesn’t need an RMM to manage endpoints,” says Nerdio CEO Vadim Vladimirskiy (pictured), who met with me this week near Chicago.
Recall that in February (per my reporting for ChannelPro) Nerdio announced it was adding device and app administration features from Microsoft Intune to its Nerdio Manager for MSP platform in a bid to give a cloud-oriented management solution the limited endpoint functionality MSPs need in an age of commodity hardware and post-perimeter networks.
“Endpoints, especially Windows endpoints, can be managed with Intune very effectively,” Vladimirskiy says. More easily, securely, and cheaply too, he adds.
“It’s a native product built right into the operating system, rather than a third-party agent that needs to be maintained, attached, and updated, and monitored,” Vladimirskiy notes. “That means MSPs don’t need to use two management systems, and they save on that license they would otherwise need to either pay for or pass on to their customer.”
How soon will ditching old-school RMM software be practical for what Nerdio calls “the modern MSP”? As soon as SMBs still buying PCs for their employees go all-in on virtual desktops or bring-your-own devices, Vladimirskiy says.
“It’s going to be probably within one to two refresh cycles,” he estimates. “Figure three to six years.”
Don’t count the RMM heavyweights out just yet though. As regular Channelholic readers know, Datto has cloud management software coming soon, and ConnectWise is working on something similar too. N-able, meanwhile, shipped a Microsoft 365 administration solution last August and unveiled an Azure management system two months later. As of April, its Cove data protection suite (which just this week gained the ability to recover workloads straight into Azure) was backing up Microsoft 365 data for some 1.4 million unique users worldwide.
“We continue to evolve our cloud monitoring and management capabilities across our portfolio, and as SMEs’ demand for the cloud grows, N-able’s committed to providing the solutions our MSP partners need to help satisfy that demand,” said John Pagliuca, N-able’s president and CEO, during a Q1 earnings webcast this Wednesday.
Nerdio won’t be standing still in the meantime. According to Vladimirskiy, support for Microsoft Defender, Teams, Exchange Online, and more is coming to Nerdio Manager for MSP by the end of the year.
“We want to provide MSPs a holistic management experience and go as deep into the stack as they need us to,” he says.
Also from Nerdio: There’s still plenty of upside in the cloud
All this talk about cloud computing’s inevitable triumph might strike some readers as odd given all the layoffs at Microsoft and Amazon Web Services lately in response to persistent inflation, high interest rates, and slowing growth. Yet Nerdio, which has a pretty good read on the cloud market given the niche it serves, hasn’t seen any of those trends diminish adoption of software and infrastructure as a service among MSPs and their clients so far.
“We don’t see any signs of slowing,” says Vladimirskiy. “If anything, it’s accelerating.”
Microsoft Azure, in particular, remains a largely untapped growth area at present, he continues. “Many MSPs don’t even think about infrastructure in Azure just yet.”
Nerdio sees plenty of upside ahead for Azure Virtual Desktop as well. “It’s still not a very widely used technology, partially because it’s not applicable to every SMB,” Vladimirskiy observes, noting that SaaS-only SMBs in particular don’t need a full-blown Windows desktop. Windows 365, the “cloud PC” platform Microsoft introduced in 2021, has even more room to grow he adds.
“Customers are interested in talking about it and exploring it, but we are not seeing very rapid adoption within our numbers yet,” Vladimirskiy says.
About that Q1 earnings report from N-able, by the way…
Or certainly not at all bad for a leading player in a relatively mature market. Revenue was up 10% year over year, and per raised guidance will climb 12% in Q2 and 11-12% for the year as a whole. Keep in mind that N-able’s revenue grew 7% in Q4 of 2022 and 6% in the quarter before that, so the top line is trending in the right direction.
You could argue that using N-able’s performance to draw generalized conclusions about the market for managed services software is dangerous, and you’d be right. But there aren’t a whole lot of publicly traded companies with similarly broad managed services portfolios out there, so N-able’s numbers end up serving as a kind of deeply flawed industry bellwether. Right now, at least, the bell sounds good.
New research from Bitdefender on the importance of guarding the home front
I shared some news from the RSA Conference a couple weeks ago, but failed to discuss one conversation there that’s relevant to anyone who supports end users with work-from-home employees, which is to say pretty much anyone who supports end users: Per a recent study from Bitdefender and NETGEAR, there’s a lot of IoT gear in the typical American home, and it’s under constant, diligent assault.
The new research, which is based on data from 3.6 billion security events affecting 120 million IoT devices in 2.6 million households, found that an average home network in the U.S. links 46 devices to the internet. That’s inclusive of smartphones and PCs, but also includes IP cameras, smart doorbells, gaming consoles, and more. The number’s going up too, according to Dan Berte (pictured), Bitdefender’s IoT security director.
“That just exacerbates the problem,” he says.
And there is a problem. Bitdefender says the average U.S. household is attacked eight times every 24 hours, and rising. Overwhelmingly, the number one target is smart TVs, which account for just 5.4% of internet-facing devices but 52% of attacks. The second most popular target, smart plugs, are involved in just 13% of attacks.
Why go after smart TVs? Bitdefender suspects it’s their relatively powerful CPUs and relatively large memory stores, which make them useful in botnets as well as a good starting point for lateral movement elsewhere on the network.
Neither TV makers nor other IoT manufacturers appear all that worried about security risks. According to Berte, about 30% of hardware vendors take six months or more to reply when Bitdefender contacts them about a vulnerability, and roughly half wait at least a year before fixing the issue, if they do so at all.
Setting clients up with VPN and segmenting home networks are critical parts of containing IoT risk, but Berte’s colleague Martin Zugec, technical solutions director at Bitdefender, recommends one more step.
“One of the best protections, aside of course from prevention, isolation, patching, and so on, is making sure that you have detection capabilities,” he says. Attackers increasingly use automated techniques to gain a foothold with victims before following up manually days, weeks, or even months later.
“You have a lot of time to figure out and fix the back door that you have on your network,” Zugec observes, but only if an EDR system or MDR service tells you it’s there.
Also worth noting
Malwarebytes has rolled out a new mobile security solution.
CyberFOX has hired a new VP of cybersecurity strategy (and if you’re a ConnectWise partner, there’s a good chance you know him).
RingCentral has shipped a new edition of its unified communications solution for Microsoft Teams.
LogRhythm has added a new partner for its SIEM service, email security vendor Mimecast.
Nutanix has introduced a new single-pane-of-glass management solution for public cloud, hosted, on-prem, and edge infrastructures.